August 06, 2005

The next battle in the quixotian struggle to take the battle deep into the core of Red America will be fought in the 48th Congressional District in California. A special election is scheduled for late-September to fill the seat left vacant after former incumbent Christopher Cox was picked to head the SEC. As in the recently-ended fight in Ohio, the 48th is an overwhelmingly Republican district, located smack dab in the middle of Orange County, and the GOP primary will likely be hotly-contested.

Some miscellany about the 48th:

1. Cox won reelection in 2004 by 33% over his Democratic rival, a slightly narrower margin than the previous outcome in Ohio. In 2002, Cox won by 40% over the same opponent;

2. As might be expected, the other races in that district were closer than the one that featured the incumbent. Although Bush received an asswhuppin' in the rest of the state, he won the 48th by 18 points over John Kerry. However, Barbara Boxer, who is arguably the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate, lost by only 7.7% in that district. A repeat of last week's race, where a strong, charismatic Democratic lost by 3.4% to a weak Republican in an overwhelmingly Republican district, is therefore possible here as well;

3. In both 2002 and 2004, the election was essentially a three-candidate race, with the two major parties being joined in the contest by the nominee of the Libertarian Party. This time around, the most intriguing rumor floating around is the possible third-party candidacy of ex-Congressman Robert Dornan. Since his defeat at the hands of Loretta Sanchez nine years ago, Dornan has become increasingly vituperative in his rhetoric against immigrants, and against Latinos in particular. Should he make the ballot this time, Dornan has the potential of both drawing away support from the Republican nominee as well as raising the turnout with Latino voters, whose emergence in Orange County has begun to make the area, at one time synonomous with right wing politics, more competitive;

4. As in Ohio, the probable Democratic candidate is a local attorney, Steve Young, a self-described "fiscal conservative" who has denounced the Kelo decision, CAFTA, and the parsimonious manner the Republicans have treated our returning soldiers from Iraq. Like his NFL Hall of Fame namesake, Young attended college in Utah, but there is no evidence yet that he likes to scramble in the teeth of a massive blitz.

Anyway, there will be more to follow in the coming weeks....
YBK [Part 14]: Personal insolvencies are at a 45-year Great Britain. Of course, the numbers are quite relative; the 15,400 insolvencies in the last quarter in the UK are less than the number of filings in the Central District of California for the same period. Debtors have fewer rights under British bankruptcy law, and can exempt less property, but the reasons for filing are invariably the same: borrowers are increasingly unable to remain current on mortgage and credit card payments.

August 05, 2005

No matter what your position is on the Roberts nomination, his participation in a pro bono challenge to an anti-gay statute in Colorado before the Supreme Court cannot be explained away as simply a lawyer acting as a "hired gun". Pro bono work is never something a lawyer does just for the an intellectual challenge; in order to do your job effectively, you have to be able to convince yourself of the merits of the case, of its importance, first.

Roberts worked at Hogan & Hartson, a large D.C. firm with over a thousand attorneys. He was not the only appellate litigator at the firm, so he would not have been indispensible in preparing the case, and he could have easily begged out of working on the matter. Clearly, he participated in the manner in which he did because he believed in the importance of the issue presented by Romer v. Evans; according to the partner who asked his assistance, Roberts didn't flinch for a second before volunteering to assist. The very fact that he was a doctrinaire conservative on other issues, well-versed in the judicial thinking of Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist, made his help invaluable.

None of this answers the important questions about where Roberts stands on a constitutional right of privacy, or his interpretation of the commerce clause; Romer, after all, was a civil rights case dealing with discrimination under color of state law, not a privacy challenge to sodomy laws. The refusal to produce the relevant papers from Roberts' tenure with the Solicitor General, and particularly the claim that said documents are being withheld under the "attorney-client privilege", still fails to pass the giggle test, and Senators should seriously consider the use of the filibuster if the Administration refuses to cooperate. But lets not act like Roberts' work on the Romer case means nothing, or pretend that he's cut from the same cloth as the other Court conservatives.
YBK [Part 13]: Did you know there is now a blog devoted to the Great Housing Bubble?

August 04, 2005

Perhaps more remarkable (and more important, over the long term) than the narrow margin of his loss in one of the most Republican Congressional districts in the country, was the fact that 2/3 of the money Paul Hackett raised for his campaign originated through blogs.
Anabolic Steroids: It was all Clinton's fault !!! [link via Pandagon]

August 02, 2005

On Saturday, I made light of a story about an alleged "investigation" of Air America Radio, based on a story published in something called the "Bronx News". It spread out along the Right Blogosphere like gangbusters, and was picked up by the various Moonie/Murdoch media organs without having advanced much further than the original allegations. Contrary to these stories, there is still no evidence to date that Air America itself is under criminal investigation, although it did agree several months ago to repay money that had been diverted to it by a Bronx-based charity.

As it turns out, there actually is an honest-to-goodness paper called the Bronx News. It is a weekly paper published by a company called Hagedorn Communications, Inc., which also publishes several other throwaways, including "The Real Estate Weekly", the "Parkchester News", the "Town & Village News", and the "Co-Op City News". H.C.I. has not yet embraced the world wide web, unfortunately, and the only way I could be certain that the above papers actually existed was a reference in Nexis to a couple of articles published in the Real Estate Weekly.

The circulation of each of these papers is minimal, to say the least. According to a NY Times article in 1993, the "Bronx News" had a circulation of 7,150 (in a borough of 1.36 million); in comparison, the Village Voice weekly has a circulation rate of 260,000. Mr. Hagedorn himself got into some trouble at that time for inflating the circulation of his weeklies by a factor of between 1.5 and 2, including the Bronx News, and plead guilty to a charge of falsifying business records in April, 1993. That any MSM organs would pay serious attention to a story from such a paper, especially one based entirely on anonymous sources (even "informed" anonymous sources), without performing due diligence first, is mindboggling.

August 01, 2005

Two contrasting takes on the legacy of Rafael Palmeiro, by Jayson Stark [link via OffTheKuff] and NY Times columnist George Vecsey. Stark raises some good points, about how cheating has always been a part of baseball, and how it is impossible to calculate the edge any juiced athlete might have received, but I have to agree with Vecsey on this one. Before today, Palmeiro was a cinch for the Hall of Fame, with the only question being whether his steady career numbers would offset the lack of any spectacular, dominating seasons for him to enter on the first ballot. The consensus was that anyone who could get over 3000 hits and approach 600 home runs was probably a pretty damn good player, and to hell with whether any of those hits was memorable.

Now, whether he deserves this fate or not, he will probably have to wait a few years to get in, if at all. The line on Palmeiro will now be that he was an ordinary singles hitter who bulked up in his mid-20's after a few unimpressive seasons, and then pounded out a series of 40-home run, 110-RBI seasons at a time when the greats of the sport were hitting 50+ /125+ per season. He had one big post-season jack (1996 ALCS, Game 2), but it was the only game his team won in that series, and I would be hard-pressed to name another big Raffi moment that actually had something to do with his team winning an important game. He never won a batting crown, a home run or RBI title, or an MVP award. His biggest credential was his statline, and now that will draw raised eyebrows. And, to boot, he went before a Congressional committee, and lied; in comparison, Mark McGwire's response (to tell the starchamber to stick their questions up their collective rectum) seems even more manly than it did before. Like Steve Garvey, another player who always seemed destined for first ballot honors during his playing career, to be enshrined he's going to have to wait for cooler heads to prevail.
Apparently, I'm not the only one troubled by the response John Roberts gave last week as to how he would reconcile his faith with his constitutional role. Samgrass is also giving him some grief over the issue.
Conservative Blogger Makes Good: Or, at least, trying to make good. Steve Urquhart, a state legislator who shares the same last name as one of the most notorious fictional politicians in TV history, has announced that he will oppose longtime Utah Senator Orrin Hatch in the primaries next year. He's very conservative, bears an uncanny resemblance to Penn Jillette, and actually has the integrity to write his own blog (as opposed to greasing others to do that for him). So I wish him the best of luck, in the same way that I would wish godspeed to any of the writers at VolokhCon should they receive federal court nominations, while reserving the right to bring to bear the full power of this website in opposition, if need be.
If you need anything to convince you that Bush is now a lame duck, the fact that he must dole out a recess appointment to get John Bolton through the Senate (which his party controls, by a healthy margin) should suffice. For all the talk about "obstructionism" by the Democrats, this was a nomination that would have had no problems obtaining confirmation if GOP Senators had wanted it badly enough. Hopefully, the rest of the world will just ignore him. He won't be speaking for America.
Busted !!! I believe Palmeiro may have denied under oath that he ever juiced, so his brief suspension (and diminished Hall of Fame chance) may be the least of his worries.

July 31, 2005

Like the rectangular pizza at Barone's, or the beef and bean burrito from Casa Vega, the slippery shrimp made by Yang Chow's in Chinatown is a quintessential dish for true Angelenos. For those of you who've left the area, or who may have visited the restaurant while on business or vacation in the city, here's the recipe.