Monthly Archives: May 2010

Burma, Liberia, and the United States

What do these three countries have in common?

Give up?

They’re the only three countries in the world who don’t use the metric system.  I knew that there weren’t that many countries that didn’t use the metric system, but I didn’t realize that it was only three.  Kind of makes us look a little egocentric, doesn’t it?

I also find it interesting that Liberia is on this short list.  But, it kind of makes sense given the origin of the country – founded by freed American slaves, system of government modeled after ours, and their capital – Monrovia – named after our fifth President James Monroe.   But you knew that, right?

Inspired by this post at I Love Charts.

Elena Kagan is the Wrong Choice For Supreme Court Justice

When I read that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was going to retire, I thought, “I hope President Obama nominates someone decently liberal to succeed him.” There’s been a short list of legitimate, potential nominees floating around ever since Sonia Sotomayor replaced David Souter. You’d think that if you were on the list back then, then you’d again be on the short list for this nomination. The two that met with Obama for this nomination that also met with him for the prior nomination were US Solictor General Elena Kagan and federal appellate judge Diane Wood.

John Paul Stevens, if you are unaware, is considered by many to be the leader of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court. Souter, in comparison, was a much more center-left Justice. Replacing Souter with Sotomayor, a woman with a center-left ideology herself, didn’t really change the ideological makeup of the Court. In order to, at the very least, maintain the status quo of the Supreme Court, you’d have to nominate someone with some fairly liberal views on things. Really, that shouldn’t be that hard to accomplish – the President is a Democrat, Democrats have majorities in the House and the Senate.

From all the reading I’ve done, the best person to maintain the balance of the Court would be Diane Wood as opposed to Elena Kagan. However, if you’ve caught the news at all, we now have Elena Kagan as President Obama’s Supreme Court Justice nominee. I just see so many problems with his choice.

Imagine if you will that it’s your job to nominate someone for a lifetime Supreme Court Justice appointment. How would you do it? What qualifications would you take into consideration?

Keep in mind that it’s not a requirement that you have judicial experience – judge, lawyer, etc. – to be nominated. Many Justices haven’t had any (see interesting list of such folks here), though all of our current Justices have.

Kagan is the current US Solictor General. Basically, that job entails representing the US in court cases in front of the Supreme Court. Prior to that she was Dean of Harvard Law School. Before that she was Associate White House Counsel under then-President Bill Clinton. Before that she did some clerking and blah blah blah.

Diane Wood is a federal judge on the US Court of Appeals. She’s been doing that for something around 15 years. Before that she worked at the Department of Justice doing anti-trust stuff. She did other stuff before that, but it was quite a while ago and I don’t feel like listing it.

Suffice it to say they’re both fairly intelligent people, I’d say that’s a given considering their prior/current careers. I’d probably look at any writings, speeches, or otherwise expressed opinions on key issues.

Kagan hasn’t published much, according to Paul Campos, just three scholarly articles, two shorter essays, two brief book reviews, and two other minor pieces.  I would call that not all that much.  The few other things we can determine about Kagan aren’t all that positive.  Kagan urged then-President Bill Clinton to ban late-term abortions and to deny Medicare funding to abortions in cases where a woman’s health was at risk.  During her tenure as Dean of Harvard, Kagan filled 29 positions at the University – 23 white males, 5 white females, and 1 asian-american female.  Though, draw what you will from Nate Silver’s statistical analysis of this hiring practice (also, he lists 31 positions, not 29, not sure which one is correct at the moment).  Also while Dean of Harvard she banned military recruiters from campus (good), but when the Department of Defense threatened to withhold funding from the University, she backed down (bad).  She supports expanding the power of the Executive, something I don’t really agree with.  She also supports indefinite detention of so-called enemy comabatants.

Some of these issues are bigger than others, but taken together, there’s certainly enough to question Kagan as a nominee.  Perhaps you would say, “Why don’t we just ask her what she thinks about X?”  I think that’s a pretty good idea actually.  You know who else thought that? Kagan.  In 1995 she argued that Supreme Court nominees should have to answer questions about pending cases and other specific issues.  You know who else thought that? Then-Senator Barack Obama.  He was referring to then-nominee Harriet Miers – who, like Kagan – didn’t have all that much experience.  Guess what Kagan is going to do though? Not answer questions, that’s what. Which is, you know, quite helpful.

All in all, I guess my biggest problem with Kagan is that there is just so much about her judicial philosophy that is unknown – and will remain that way until she is officially a Supreme Court Justice.  I find that troubling. To me, it seems like a big risk.  Yes, she could turn out to be a great Progressive Justice.  She could also not. We simply do not know.  Why risk it? I don’t get it.  Too many people are going to say, “President Obama nominated her, so I think she’s good to go.”  That’s fucking stupid.  President Obama has become such a centrist that it’s just sad.  Sad for those people, like myself, who didn’t think they were voting for a centrist.  So what kind of nominee do we get from a centrist president? A centrist nominee.  And that’s not what I think this country needs.

I sure hope I’m wrong about all this.

Dear Bob Allen Ford

Thank you for wasting my fucking time.  Really.  It’s not like I have shit to do.

I’ve been having problems with the Sync system in my 2010 Ford Escape that I bought last August (I think August anyways).  Everything was fine initially, then a few months ago when I pressed the phone button on either the dash or the steering wheel, nothing happened.  It was a button that simply didn’t do anything – like one of those “extra” light switches in old houses that you have no idea what they’re connected to.

After I noticed this, I took it into my car dealer – Bob Allen Ford.  They ran the car diagnostic tool on my vehicle and in the course of doing that “fixed” the problem – so I was told.  I thought to myself, “That seems odd, I don’t think that’s how diagnostic tools are supposed to work.”  But whatever, the problem was fixed, huzzah!

Only not.

A few weeks later – probably much less than that, I’m kind of lazy – I noticed the problem was back. Aiight, so I take it in again.  Explain the same problem. I ask if they can just replace whatever part it is inside that is causing this problem.  Yes, they can, however, not for me.  Why? Because I’m not on the latest software version for the part. Okay… I can buy that as being the possible cause of this – however, why didn’t they upgrade it when I had it in last time? My guess is it has something to do with them being lazy.  However, their magic diagnostic tool / version upgrade did appear to fix my problem.  Huzzah part deux!

Only not.

Same problem. Again.  Ugh.  When I last talked to the technician – Marcus was his name – he said that if the software update didn’t help, then he’d order a new part for me.  According to him, we had to see if the latest software update would fix the problem before he was allowed to order a new part.  Seems reasonable.  Since the update clearly didn’t fix my problem, I hoped I could call the dealership, tell them the issue that I’m having, have them order the part, then I’d show up when it came it and get my vehicle fixed.  No dice.  According to whomever I talked to on Thursday, I’d have to physically come in so they could order the part – some bullshit about needing some “numbers” off the part I already have.  I chalked this up to an issue with their ordering system as opposed to physically being able to order the part.  It’s a brand new car, how hard could this be.  But whatever.

So I called on Saturday morning to see if they’re busy and how long it would take them to “write down some numbers.”  Saturday being the one non-weekday they’re open and the one of the two days I don’t work.  TOO FUCKING HARD!  According to whomever I spoke to, a technician was required to write down these numbers.  Apparently the people who work there on Saturday are capable of doing oil changes and what not, but incapable of “writing down some numbers” to order a part.  Jesus.

SO, I go in this afternoon around noon – my lunch hour.  You see, while they are open during the week, they are only open from 7-4, you know, normal person working hours.  My only window of opportunity is my lunch hour.

When I get there I speak to someone who is training and obviously has no idea what the fuck I’m talking about.  He in turn talks to his manager, who apparently also has no idea what the fuck I’m talking about, but refers the trainee to another person.  Who is that person? Marcus.  The guy I’ve talked to like 3 times in person about this shit.  I should have just waited until Marcus got off the phone instead of talking to the trainee.  I don’t blame the guy, it’s just like, damn it, I want my fucking car fixed.  After about three minutes of talking to Marcus, my part is ordered and he tells me he’ll call me when the part comes in.  Wham.  Bam.  The best fucking part? Marcus doesn’t need to look at my car at all, so I’m free to go.  And why was that so easy?  Because all this shit is in their fucking computers.  If that asshole I spoke to on Thursday would have spent two fucking seconds to look this shit up, I could have had the part installed in my fucking car already.

Jesus I feel like I have fucking Tourette’s or some shit.

Here’s to hoping that the new part – that will be installed at some magic time in the future – will fix this fucking retarded problem once and for all.

However, I am not holding my breath.

An Interesting Statistic

So I’m watching the documentary Bigger Stronger Faster* which is a movie about steroids.  Pretty good so far.  Anyways, the movie starts talking about steroids in baseball – remember Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds? I do.  After they hit all those home runs they were accused of taking steroids – which was pretty obvious when you simply looked at them.  After they were accused, they had to go in front of Congress.  The interesting statistic from the movie is that Congress held these debates about steroids for 8 days.  8 days was longer than they debated about health care, the levees that failed during Katrina, or ending the Iraq War.