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July 30, 2003

New (to me) Blawgs

Since even *I* am tired of my righteous indignation about current political affairs, I've been doing a little "light" reading around and have found two great new blawgs with which to while away the hours.

First: Screaming Bean is a 2L somewhere that has ice in March. I haven't had time to cruise through all the archives for more detail, but what I have read suggests there's lots of good stuff in there for those of us heading to law school soon. The tip for these directions for building a Starship Enterprise out of a floppy disk is definitely worth the price of admission, as is the link to a new law info portal, Legal Beetle. We all need our own Enterprise and more law info, don't we?

Second: In addition to having chosen an ingenious name for a blog, Mixtape Marathon also sounds a little (ok, very little) like my doppelganger. In her (I'm assuming) opening post, Bekah writes:

I graduated from undergrad with a double major in English and Philosophy, and went straight to law school. Law school was my choice because I couldn't decide between English and Philosophy grad school and because I didn't want to do math on the GRE. I now know that this reasoning is not really the most logical, or the most satisfactory. And yet, I can't think of anything else (other than nothing) that I would rather be doing with my life, so I guess my reasoning wins by default. Although I do think about what it would be like to just be a construction worker, like Peter in Office Space ("I did nothing, and it was everything I hoped it would be"). I have friends that are traveling now, working on farms and in restaurants, seeing the world, and I envy them. I especially envy them on really beautiful days when I just want to be able to ride my bike for hours, or sit by the fountain in the park and read a Victorian novel, and instead I'm trapped inside reading about limitations on implied warranties in the Uniform Commercial Code. But I know if took the proverbial "year off" I would just be prolonging the inevitable. My bitter friends and I who are in school or in abysmal jobs like to assure ourselves that we are doing something worthwhile--that we made smart decisions. And I know we're right. Law school isn't an end in itself: it's a means to an end. And like law school, I'm a work in progress, so of course I won't be satisfied immediately.
Ok, this doesn't sound like my doppelganger, but it is at least a bit like the doppelganger of me in my early 20s, sans the Philosophy part of the double major and the fact that she went straight to law school out of undergrad instead of going off to do some of the fun things she's watching her friends do. I, too, think about being a construction worker (just last night as I was walking down the street I had a brief but intense desire to be a cab driver), or better yet, like Peter in "Office Space," I dream of doing nothing (which, by the way, I'm doing now—it's great). And I've spent a few years traveling and riding my bike for hours (as a bike tour guide at least part of the time, so I actually combined bike/work/travel into one—why did I leave that job!? oh yeah, there were reasons), and I've sat by fountains reading decidedly non-Victorian novels (although I love George Elliot—just not Middlemarch so much, since I didn't ever really finish it). And although I really didn't want to do the math on the GRE, I did it and did horribly but it didn't really matter because I still got into a respectable grad school for English and after four years of that I'm finally going to law school. And so, having done at least some of the things Bekah sometimes wishes she were doing, I still feel as unsure (aka: ambivalent) about law school as ever. Maybe that will make Bekah feel better. Maybe not. She has her own travel stories now, so maybe her perspective has changed, anyway...

Posted 09:20 AM | law school

Give 'em the boot!

Since it was possibly the most insane idea to come from the military in a long time, you've probably heard about the demise of the futures market on terrorism. Andrew Raff rounded up some of the coverage yesterday, and it's all over the place. Salon's Scott Rosenberg explains just a few of the reasons the idea was so whack, and politicians seem to be falling all over themselves and each other to condemn the terror futures market. But the best news I've seen on the issue is that Barbara Boxer is calling for the ouster of the freaks responsible for the idea. Boxer said:

"There is something very sick about it," Boxer told Wolfowitz at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iraq. "If it's going to end, I think you would end the careers of whoever it was who thought that up, because terrorists, knowing they were planning an attack, could have bet on the attack and collected a lot of money. It is a sick idea."

And perhaps even better, today the NY Times editors send a clear message to the Pentagon: Fire John Poindexter!

The "Policy Analysis Market" would actually have opened for business on Oct. 1 had Senators Ron Wyden and Byron Dorgan not blown the whistle. Despite Mr. Wolfowitz's pledge to kill it, however, the problem of Mr. Poindexter remains. He is a man of dubious background and dubious ideas. A retired rear admiral, he served as Ronald Reagan's national security adviser and helped devise the plan to sell arms to Iran and illegally divert the proceeds to the rebels in Nicaragua. He was sentenced to six months in jail for lying to Congress, a conviction overturned on appeal. He resurfaced under the Bush administration at the Pentagon. His first big brainstorm post-9/11 was a program known as Total Information Awareness, designed to identify potential terrorists by compiling a detailed electronic dossier on millions of Americans.

Congress agreed earlier this year to subject that program to strict oversight and prohibit it from being used against Americans. In light of the revelations about the latest Poindexter scheme, Congress obviously did not go far enough. It should close his operation for good. The Senate recently agreed to do just that, adding an amendment to a Defense Department appropriations bill that would terminate funds for the program. The House must now follow suit.

And the Boston Globe agrees wholeheartedly:

Poindexter's past performances suggest a pattern. An intelligence analyst scrutinizing Poindexter's record - or for that matter a sharp gambler looking for a sound betting proposition - would be tempted to guess that the admiral has been functioning as a mole sent by some foreign power to embarrass the United States.

The Defense Department should sever its ties with Poindexter before he can humiliate Americans again. Indeed, President Bush should have dismissed him last year and owes the nation an explanation of how his administration nearly implemented such a bizarre proposal. This distortion of a fashionable faith in pure market forces betrays a radical detachment from reality.

Perhaps we need a futures market for Poindexter's job. Oh, but never mind: This is the Pentagon under the Bush Administration where it's become common practice to admit someone is incompetent, then in the next breath assure us that we should have complete confidence in that incompetent person. Whatever.

Posted 07:55 AM | general politics

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