Cancer or Heart Disease. Your Choice.

Apparently that's about it, now.

I pray I might die in a manner more fit for a warrior; on the highway, or by blade or gun.  Yet such things are for a higher power than me to decide.  Whatever comes, I shall abide; and as Lancelot said, boldly, whatever God sends shall be welcome.


The classic way to win a Presidential election is to convince a majority of voters that you represent the vision they want to see for their country.  There's a secondary way, though, if that doesn't work:  buy off key segments in key states.

Since the normal way is out this year, we're left with route two.

Well, once you can't win their hearts, you have to bribe them.  Maybe there's enough voters left who can be bought.  That's the only road, now.  You only get away with this once:

They know you, now.

Frontiers and Privileges

Since T99 is talking about legal privileges today, I thought I would share a tidbit from some further historical research on Medieval Spain.

Apparently the greatest scholar of such history in the English-speaking world was Dr. Angus MacKay (pronounced, for the non-Scots among you, so that "Kay" rhymes with "sigh"). Born in Lima, Peru, he grew up with the Spanish language and developed a love of history.

Dr. MacKay demonstrated, among other things, that during the period when Spain was reconquering land from the Islamic states, there was a persistent population problem. Land needs to be worked, and cities need to be defended. Most of the Muslims would leave an area that became Christian -- although about one in three people in these reconquered areas continued to be Muslim -- so it was necessary to get people down there to work the land and hold the towns.

This led the kingdoms of Spain to offer legal incentives to anyone who would move to one of the frontier towns. If you could fight, you were due more; and if you could provide your own arms, still more. If you could fight, provide your own arms and a horse, you were elevated regardless of the circumstances of your birth to the status of a caballero -- that is, a knight -- although your low birth was socially recognized. However, as one of the privileges of this status was exemption from taxation, if you won much plunder by the strength of your arm, or simply could maintain the status for a few generations or ordinary income, your sons would rise to the status of hidalgo (literally 'son of something,' i.e., a child whose ancestors had amounted to something).

Additional tax incentives were offered, sometimes liberating everyone who came to a town from classes of ordinary taxes. Sometimes it freed those who participated in raids from paying back any plunder to the crown. But the most interesting one, to me, was this one promise made by King Alfonso VII to the lords and settlers of Oreja:
If someone should flee to Oreja with a woman, who is not his relation, is not married, and has not been taken by force or ravished, and he wishes to be one of the settlers, then he is to go there safely, and the lord of Oreja need not fear to accept him, and neither he nor the man who has seduced her has to answer to any of the woman's relatives.
That's an incredible waiver from the usual rules of marriage at the time.  It's also interesting that it requires only her consent, but allows the consent of her family to be defied entirely.

And yet this romantic view is not out of place in the middle ages.  It is a rule that comes, as we have seen, at the same time as the courtly love poetry of the troubadours was wildly popular among the kings of southern France, Spain, and England.  It was also the time of the idea put forward by the Church that the love of husband and wife was a reflection of the love of souls for God.

It was available to those brave enough to cast aside everything for their love, except the hope that their risk and labor might provide better than what they were casting away.  A poor man's son who could work his way to a horse and mail, and so win the heart of a girl that she would go with him even to the frontier, could find love and wealth and glory, raise himself to knighthood and his children to the nobility, and all while being devoted to the service of God.

Such times were heady indeed.

Angus MacKay, Spain in the Middle Ages:  From Frontier to Empire, 1000-1500 (New York:  St. Martin's Press, 1977), 37-9, 48.


Here's the process for withholding privileged documents if you're a reasonably principled lawyer.  You put together the entire universe of documents that appear to be responsive to the document request.  Then you examine every single document to determine whether it falls within an established privilege, usually "work product" or "attorney-client."  The first cut of "work product" documents would include anything that could possibly be said to quote or reflect advice that the client received from counsel.  For the "attorney-client" category, the first cut would include anything from the attorney to the client or vice versa, including anything cc'ed to the law firm.

If only you got to stop there, document production would be a breeze.  The next step is harder.  In the case of work product, for instance, often the main document is OK, but a line or two might say, "As you know, counsel advised us that ______," and the blank would need to be redacted.  In the case of attorney-client privilege, you're not going to get away with withholding everything that was circulated past the lawyers.  If the cc list included anyone who wasn't a client, for instance, it goes back in the pile to be produced, because the privilege requires a showing that the advice was given and held in confidence.  Even if the cc list is made up exclusively of lawyers and clients, it still has to involve the quest for or rendition of legal advice.  You can't shield ordinary business documents from production by slapping a "lawyer cc" on them, though that gambit is often tried.

Even when you finish this more rigorous secondary process, you don't simply get to keep the documents you think are privileged and tell the other side to pound sand.  You have to produce a privilege log, a little chart that identifies each document, including its date, its recipients, and enough about its general nature to explain why you claim a privilege attaches to it.  This is a critical stage, because the judge and any competent lawyers in the case can take one look at your privilege log and see whether you're serious.  The absence of a privilege log, or the absence of detail, is a big red flag that screams "My idea of screening for privileged documents to sort everything into two piles:  the documents that will embarrass me and the documents that won't."  It's a more common approach than you might think.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is making a very reasonable demand today for a privilege log of the "Fast and Furious" documents withheld by the White House on the ground of executive privilege.  He's also on solid ground with the following observations:
“Just last week, when the attorney general was in front of this committee, I asked him twice if the president could claim executive privilege to protect a certain internal Justice Department email that has been withheld,” Grassley said.  “Given the explicit opportunity, the attorney general did not indicate he would be asking the president to assert executive privilege over such documents.” 
“The attorney general repeatedly claimed that the Justice Department was making an ‘extraordinary offer’ Tuesday night,” Grassley continued.  “The only thing extraordinary is that the attorney general offered a promise to produce documents one day and then asked the president to claim executive privilege over them the next.” 
Grassley also attacked Obama for waiting until the eleventh hour to assert the privilege.  “If this were a serious claim, it should have been raised much earlier,” Grassley said.
It's very difficult to understand how an executive privilege could attach to documents about a program the President claims not to have had any knowledge of.   Nor is it easy to understand how the Attorney General can assert with a straight face that the program in question dates from the Bush administration, and that he terminated it many months before he now asserts he even became aware of it.   In a trial, this kind of thing would prompt the filing of what we used to call a "motion to get real."

Discovery disputes are boring.  Judges hate to get involved in them, so they tend to blow them off by taking a "plague on both your houses" approach, which gives crummy lawyers an incentive to abuse privileges and hide evidence.  The media is doing the same thing right now, painting the picture of yet another partisan attack based on an arcane legal theory, which voters should tune out in frustration.  I hope they don't.

Knives as "Arms"

Volokh has an interesting examination of case law regarding whether knives are "arms" for Second Amendment purposes.

A lot seems to turn on whether a class of weapon is regularly used in "civilized warfare."  That standard would seem to make it proper to carry a Kabar, since it was military issue and is still regularly carried by soldiers, sailors and Marines...

...but not a Buck knife, which is primarily for hunting.  Yet the design is substantially the same, except the Buck 119 Special is a little shorter.

It's nice to know that swords still turn up as 'weapons of civilized war.' They're not as random or clumsy as a handgun, either.

On the Need for "Home Economics" Courses in School

Via Yahoo questions:
My girlfriend cooked raw chicken in the George foreman last night. The next day i wanted to grill my sandwich but she did not clean the foreman grill. I said i would get sick if i placed the sandwich on the grill where raw chicken has been. she insisted that the raw chicken cooked so i would not get sick from raw chicken juices. Whats going on here?

R. Lee Ermey, Bus Monitor

You know how we got here?  It's because we decided we were too soft for this.  These kids obviously have not had a proper sense of shame instilled into them by someone who knows how.

Children are barbarians.  Either you are strong enough to win their hearts, or they will eat yours.


We have two great holidays every year:  Christmas, and the Summer Solstice.  This holiday happens to encompass Father's Day, our wedding anniversary, and an important family birthday.  As a consequence, it is a day of particular importance, celebrated by feasting and fellowship.

I hope yours has been as good.  Now comes the hard part of the year:  summer, the hungry time of old.  Still in the South, it is a time of year I look forward to only with dread.  We'll get through it, but we look toward the autumn with longing most of the time.


I can't read this woman's site, which is in Russian, but her work speaks for itself.  She is a Muscovite who has incorporated Irish Clones lace motifs into her own signature style, in full color.  Clicking through to her site will give you some closeups.

Cheer up

From Frank J. Fleming:
Everyone is so gloomy about the future these days. Polls show that most people think we’re on the wrong path, and everyone walks around looking like the president just ate their dogs. . . . [W]hat’s the worst that could happen to us if we never get a handle on our finances — if we just keep spending and spending while the economy crumbles further? I guess in the absolute worst-case scenario, we’d have a complete economic meltdown, our money would become worthless, our government would collapse, and our infrastructure would fall apart.  Basically, all of civilization would be destroyed. . . .  So even if things are as bad as we can possibly imagine, we have this nice fallback option of becoming hunter-gatherers again.  People might even enjoy their new, simpler living conditions.  People do like camping.  And the movie The Hunger Games was pretty popular.  Plus, this would pretty much end childhood obesity.  And one day, soon after we start living this way, we’ll all say, “Wow, we sure were spoiled with all that running water, electricity, and no need to fear wild animals. Weren’t we silly about that?”  And we’ll have a good laugh.  Well, not all of us — just those who make it past the first winter.  So a few of us.  A few of us will have a good laugh.

'The Law' is the Name of that Ass You Rode Over the Border

Senator Rubio, on illegal immigration:
It’s a law-and-order issue. But it’s also an issue about human dignity and common decency. And when we lose sight of either aspect of the issue, we harm ourselves as well as the people who wish to live here. Many people who come here illegally are doing exactly what we would do if we lived in a country where we couldn’t feed our families. If my kids went to sleep hungry every night and my country didn’t give me an opportunity to feed them, there isn’t a law, no matter how restrictive, that would prevent me from coming here. 
Well, what about you?  Would you let your children die rather than violate the laws of a country to which you owe no citizen's loyalty?  Or would you get on the ass and ride?

The Most Peaceful Place on Earth

Iceland!  Just what you'd expect from a country that was exclusively settled by Vikings!

I guess it wouldn't be here.  Funny; it was just last Christmas we were noticing with worry that Ciudad Juarez, just over the border, had seen more people killed than Afghanistan.

This year, it's Chicago.

Take the Road

Now I Understand

Stories like this one have been coming hot and heavy since the Columbia trip, undermining the idea that the Secret Service are buttoned-down professionals. It's hard to understand how an organization with such an institutional history could become so unglued.

Until, that is, you find out what else their job entails. Now it all seems clear.

Another Example

Via Reason magazine, which has done yeoman work on this issue:
As the officers made their way to the back of the house, where the Avina’s 11-year-old and 14-year-old daughters were sleeping, Rosalie Avina screamed, “Don’t hurt my babies. Don’t hurt my babies.”
The agents entered the 14-year-old girl’s room first, shouting “Get down on the fucking ground.” The girl, who was lying on her bed, rolled onto the floor, where the agents handcuffed her. Next they went to the 11-year-old’s room. The girl was sleeping. Agents woke her up by shouting “Get down on the fucking ground.” The girl’s eyes shot open, but she was, according to her own testimony, “frozen in fear.” So the agents dragged her onto the floor. While one agent handcuffed her, another held a gun to her head....
After two hours, the agents realized they had the wrong house—the product of a sloppy license plate transcription—and left. 
As the article notes, the Justice Department has decided to go to court in favor of the notion that Federal agents have a right to hold a gun to the head of 11-year-old children.  I'm pretty sure that no such right can possibly exist, though they plainly have the power at present.

Anyway, the Ninth Circuit found that this conduct was "unreasonable."  So when does someone at DEA go to jail for unreasonably deploying lethal force against an 11-year-old during a wrongful raid?  Never, that's when.

What 'People' Are We Talking About?

Bob Krumm on Obama's refusal to enforce DOMA drug laws school standards gambling laws immigration laws:
Since the very beginning of our Nation’s founding, there has been (by design) a healthy tension between the Legislative branch, which writes laws, and the Executive Branch, which executes those laws.  Laws were only de facto valid when they were both on the books and willingly enforced.  As every law is a limit upon the people, this created a very high barrier to restrictions on individual rights. 
"Every law is a limit on the people," eh?  So what the anarchists really need is just to elect a President, who can refuse to enforce any of the laws?

But which "people" are we talking about here?  The law in this case is a restriction on peoples who are not American citizens:  it restricts them from moving to America without a permit.  The restriction doesn't particularly affect the American people.

The preamble to the Constitution suggests that it is the people of the United States who ordain and establish the government, for ends of their own.  They are good ends, but they are not universal ends:  and the category of people who established and ordained the United States is not universal either.

Maybe Krumm is right in general:  maybe it's generally a good thing if the law goes unenforced.  Maybe it's fine to have a lot of laws on the books that have no force in practice.

Somehow, though, I doubt it.  That sounds to me like a vision of the law as the sword of Damocles:  a deadly thing hanging over my head, fit to fall at any time.  But -- for now -- a little string keeps it from my skull.

A Pretty Good Run

Tallulah Gorge

The Tallulah River, from atop the Gorge

Beef, Bread, and Beer

Father's Day

From Sippican:
My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard.  Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass."  "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply.  "We're raising boys." 
- Harmon Killebrew