1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: April 18-24 2010.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dear Internet:

Can I get away with beginning Tendown with the phrase "let's get it poppin'"?  I used to watch Arsenio when I was an undergrad, with his giant Crayola suits and aerodynamic hair and think, "I will never be this cool - there's no circumstance where I'll ever be able to say Give it up - for Bell Biv DeVoe! and then lead the dog pound with a rapid series of fist pumps."

I was right.

This is Tendown 24. Here's Arsenio interviewing the Ultimate Warrior. Let's get it poppin'!

First: No Warrants Shall Issue But Upon Probable Cause

 A Tendown meme is the distance between conservative rhetoric about (1) fidelity to the Constitution and (2) the need for government to be small and not intrusive and the reality of the positions they support.  Just Last Week, in Tendown 23, I wrote about Virginia adopting an essay requirement (with church attendance as an apparent relevant factor) in determining when former felons are permitted a restoration of their voting rights.  Specifically, I wrote about it in terms of a lack of right wing response about tyranny.  Seems inarguable that, in a political year so focused around a Tea Party movement which is so predicated upon the conviction that government is acting without popular mandate, that there's nothing more central to distinguishing democracy from tyranny than the right to vote.  But here American citizens are, deprived of their right to vote, and yet no coverage on Fox News.  No rally from Michele Bachmann.  No incendiary speeches about "taking our country back." 

Makes you think conservatives don't really care about democracy at all.  A staggering notion.

This week, Arizona passed a law empowering police to stop -anyone- upon "reasonable suspicion" that that person might be an illegal immigrant and require that person to provide papers proving legal status.  We're about to have confirmation hearings for a new Supreme Court justice, and the conservatives will claim (no matter who the nominee is) that the nominee is unqualified given his/her "judicial activism" and a lack of fidelity to the constitutional text.  We want - they will say - in an argument that will echo across Fox News and drip down into the mouths of the Tea Baggers, someone who is a "strict constructionist" - who applies the plain and clear language of the Constitution instead of "legislating from the bench." 

If you like, feel free to pull out your copy of the Constitution and look for the phrase "reasonable suspicion."

I'll wait.

Here's Arsenio talking to Dice.  You know, just to have on in the background while you look.

There's a reason half of the Bill of Rights are limits on the government in the exercise of its criminal justice function; what the founding fathers who today's conservatives deify recognized is that the place where "big government" can most directly intrude upon the lives of Americans is in its ability to take away our liberty.  The 4th Amendment standard, requiring "probable cause" in order for police to conduct a search was specifically intended to require the government to have clear, articulable evidence that a suspect has committed a crime.  Conservatives have been lowering that bar for decades, increasing the power of the government in instances like traffic stops and public school searches by creating a lower standard of reasonable suspicion in specialized circumstances.  Reasonable suspicion is essentially just the judgment of a government official, "I suspect you of a crime, and most government officials in that situation would similarly suspect you."  It is a standard consciously, intentionally less than the probable cause standard written in the Constitution.  It is a standard which consciously, intentionally increases the ability of the government to intrude upon our lives in the most personal way possible.

So- this week - when Arizona said that anyone, at anytime, for virtually any reason can be required to prove legal status - it so completely hit the juxtaposition of those two key conservative principles - that there's just no way one can seriously accept (1) constitutional fidelity and (2) limited government as hallmarks of the American right wing given the utter lack of outrage by the right at this decision.  To the contrary, they support it.

The right does not care about small government.  The right does not care about the Constitution.

The right does believe in authoritarianism.  As long as they're the authorities.  That's what it worships.

And it finds any other government configuration illegitimate and will come as closely as it can for calling for armed resistance to it.  Remember that the next time the Tea Party is on television rallying against Obama's "tyranny" and literally crying about how he's "taking their Constitutional rights away."  Remember that this summer when every right winger on television is using the phrase "judicial activist" and "strict constructionism" to discuss the Supreme Court confirmation hearings.  If you can take that away from this week - it's the best element of the past 7 days.

After the jump, the rest of the Tendown.

1. I Won One This Week

There was a victory for limited government this week - there was a victory for fidelity to constitutional principles.  Conservatives rejoiced!

Okay, they didn't - The National Day of Prayer was found to violate the Establishment Clause.

Which it does - from the opinion by the 7th Circuit:

(The National Day of Prayer) goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context. In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.

Which is self evident, of course.  The National Day of Prayer isn't the government saying "many people pray" - it's the government saying "today is the day we devote to prayer".  Public school moments of silence to begin the day have long been found impermissible, that's what this is - it's the government getting over the intercom before first period to tell you that there are tater tots at lunch and the volleyball team lost last night and to take a few seconds right now and pray before your Chaucer quiz.

The thing though of course, isn't that conservatives disagree.  They, again, say they disagree.  They say "the national day of prayer isn't religious - it's historical" - but they don't mean it.  It's the same way they said the 2 Ton Ten Commandments at the Alabama Courthouse wasn't religious, it was a legal document.  The same way they say that they don't want to teach creationism in science class because its religous but because its science - or because they want to "teach the controversy."

They lie.  Conservatives lie.  They want the National Day of Prayer because they don't like the Establishment Clause.  They want this to be as Christian a nation as any Islamic theocracy that exists.  They would redact the Establishment Clause in a second if they could (which raises the issue of what other word isn't in the Constitution - it has 3 letters - go ahead, I'll wait, here's Arsenio talking to Vanilla Ice. )

But they can't - and sometimes a judge in this country recognizes that first amendment rights don't just belong to corporations or purveyors of crush videos.  Sometimes I win one. 

2. 4/5 of a True Story

How did you spend the summer of 1995?

I spent it studying for the California Bar Exam; essentially all day, every day for 2+ months.  I didn't work; I didn't go out (I had one date; it was a blind date with a single mom named after a strain of marijuana - I'm 39, I've had plenty of first dates in my life...fewer second dates than efficiency would demand; I don't know that I ever had a third date that didn't turn into a relationship) I sat in my apartment eating cheeseburgers and studying for the Bar Exam (pass rate for the California Bar is in the very low 40% range, so this wasn't a case of my overly preparing).

A technique that has always worked for me is taking a range of study material and merging all of it into a more digestible form (I'm about to talk about the NFL Draft - each year, I do my online prep in March after the combines, this year I got 3-4 separate grades for each prospect, and then, in April when Kiper's bluebook comes out, I take all of that work and pour it into the book, so I'm loaded with as representative a compilation of thoughts as I can be; I've done this for years; for those of you who are new, I believe I have Asperger's.  I wish I could call it Adult Onset Aspberger's cause it's funnier, but I've always been this way.  Always) To that end, I utilized that chartbook - a combination of an outline with pictures - as my final document - it has a dozen areas of substantive law and I packed it with as much supplementary material as I could fit. 

I was a big fan of that chartbook.  The last time I saw it was 2005. 

Until this week.

(A note, it wasn't really this week, I have to fudge the time a handful of days, but everything else is entirely true).

I used the chartbook after I left law, in my teaching stops over the past 10+ years; included therein was my service as half of the paralegal faculty at my current school.  In 2005, paralegal got a dramatic facelift - our offices were moved to a larger location on campus, an expensive new law library was built - and we picked up stakes and moved (we replaced Fitness and like 18 months later the school was purchased and the department was shut down, replaced by Cosmetology, and now its 2010 and they're making noise about bringing us back, but that's just life at my end of academia). 

Everything made it but my chartbook.  It was really frustrating; I combed through every box - and not a trace of it.

That was 5 years ago.

This week (but not, close, but not) I was in a computer lab in which I would not normally be - and right on the top of a filing cabinet (it sounds like I'm fudging that part to avoid confessing to rummaging through someone else's stuff - I get that, but the truth is I'm not even the guy who opens up the medicine cabinet at someone else's house; even if it's a blind date in 1995 and it's someone named after a strain of marijuana and who knows what crazy shit she has in that medicine cabinet.  Truth is, I just don't care that much about other people's stuff.  Hey, that's a good blog, right - Other People's Stuff - you take pictures of peoples' junk drawers or go through the boxes they keep in the basement.  Feel free to take that) right on top of the filing cabinet was my chartbook.

It was sitting by itself.  It was open - I saw it out of the corner of my eye and recognized my writing.

I don't have a theory; I don't know where it's been, who has had it, why anyone in the entire college would care about the 1995 California Bar Exam and my thoughts about it.

But I have it now.  I guess I won two this week.

I'm moving soon, by end of June - I might put the Chartbook with my wrestling dvds just to make sure it doesn't get away.

3. She Said No.
Another big win for me this week was the NFL Draft.   I did two mock draft pieces here and here. My request of my Niners was simple:

-Don't take Jimmy Claussen
-Get me two offensive linemen
-And a cornerback.

I preferred Bulaga to Davis among the top 4 tackles available, but I'll defer to the club on its choice.  And I really liked Iupati, as I mentioned in that first mock piece - so was glad to get him also.  And while Taylor Mays isn't a corner - he was the best value on the board in the second round, he should step in and start as our in the box safety, and he's Trojan, which I like to see - particularly a Trojan safety coming to town, as that will allow some Ronnie Lott comparison (I didn't love the Penn St linebacker, I liked Butler from Washington, who San Diego took with our spot when we dealt out - but I did like our signing Blount, the Oregon running back who hit that dude last year; I think he makes the team).

Beyond that, the draft worked out well for me - both Joe and Jerry (last names not needed, ever; if there were ever a National Day of Prayer to Joe and Jerry I'd be on board) were in attendance and finished 1-2 in the fan vote for greatest draft picks of all time (all of my votes can't go to Bowersox; sometimes I vote in NFL Network contests too....okay, full disclosure I've only voted one time ever for American Idol and it wasn't this season; you can decide for whom it was.)  Tim Tebow was ridiculously overdrafted in a way that will require that he wins football games in Denver - which is extra fun because it instantly gives me someone to root against with all the schadenfreude I can muster.  And the New York fans interrupted the Steelers' selection in round one with a Big Ben inspired chant "She Said No" - made even funnier because that pick was announced by a child from the Make a Wish Foundation. 

(My only Roethlisburger thought is that the Georgia DA went beyond his mandate in clearly attempting to smear the quarterback.  The sports press uncritically accepted the government's rendition of the events in the club bathroom, using his comments "hey, that Georgia DA called her the victim - that's how you know she was, he just couldn't prove it" to put a ribbon around their collective wisdom that Roethlisburger needed to be suspended.  Maybe so, I don't really have a beef with how the NFL handles its public relations - but the power of the government in prosecuting criminal cases in enormous - and if the Georgia DA had the goods, they could have gone forward - they didn't.  Their role is now to shut up.  The league can do what it wants, sports media can say what it wants - but it is an overreach of governmental power when a district attorney says "that guy's a bad guy - but we can't prosecute him."  If you've got a case bring it - if not, go work on the cases you have.)

4. Oh, the Arms.
Through 17 games, the Giants have given up 51 runs, the fewest in baseball.

The league's hitting .219 against us.  We've struck out 132 and walked 54. 

Lincecum's 4-0 with an ERA of 1.00.  His ERA+ is 451. 
Zito's 3-0 with an ERA of 1.32.  His ERA+ is 342. 
Sanchez's ERA is 1.86.  His ERA+ is 243.
Brian Wilson hasn't allowed an earned run all season.

We're only 10-7, because we have one bat on the roster, but we knew that a month ago.  We got Phillies coming in top of the week, that will be a good test. Sanchez/Halladay on Monday

I haven't seen any puroresu in a couple of weeks; I'll get some in this week.  TNA had a 4 1/4 match at their PPV last Sunday, Angle/Kennedy. 

5. What You Won't Hear During the Confirmation Hearings
Greenwald wrote a terrific piece this week about Diane Wood.  She's too progressive to get the nomination, but it's a good look at her career nonetheless.  Another good piece was this Slate takedown of Sarah Palin's incredible lack of historical awareness.  And the best piece written this week was this, by Chris Hedges, about Noam Chomsky's reaction to the current right wing extremist movement.  And none of that is as fun as Simple Jack talking about god talking directly to him.

6. 258 Million Dollars
That's Chris Shaw.

A week ago he had less than 30 dollars in his bank account.  He works at a convenience store. 

This week he won the 10th biggest lottery in US history, over 250 million dollars.  I did not win.

7. Imagine How Many Medical Procedures He'll Be Able To Buy Now!

The next Senator from Nevada said this week we should pay for health care with chickens. Not as a metaphor, no.  That's what she meant.  If you can click only one link this week, it should be this one. 


I'll save you having to go to the UK site to read the article, and just give you the actual caption to that photograph:

                    Mr Hutton was caught drunk at the wheel of this electric Barbie car.

9. Gen Mix
There was a story this week that VH-1 is in the process of junking its lineup of reprehensible dating shows in order to appeal to a demographic with which I am familiar, 25-34 year olds, as within it you will find my lady type friend.

(A note, I heard this week that this might not be the most flattering term, I don't have a better alternative; I could capitalize it - Lady Type Friend - and that would allow me eventually to initialize - LTF - which is good for chantability.  Lady is a funny word and Lady Type adds to the joke; it's a small joke, but I don't have a better option.  I'd be willing to accept alternative suggestions.)

Part of that story was that VH-1 is specifically targeting the Gen Mixers, the 25-34 year olds who are between the Millenials (still kids, doing kid things - being all hipster-y, listening to MGMT and dating women named after strains of marijuana.  I've only heard MGMT referred to as the letters M-G-M-T, but it's an abbreviation for management.  Can I call them Management?  Is that allowed?  What's the ruling on calling MGMT Management?) and the Gen X'ers (that would be me; now settling into middle age.)

Between us though, between the kids and the newly middle aged, that would be Gen Mix, and according to this marketing report:

77% of Gen Mixers are on MySpace, Facebook & Twitter. They love to post, share and discuss; they also love recommendations.

52% of Gen Mixers use Mobile Phones to check prices in store before they buy to get a great deal.
20% of all Tweets on Twitter have product recommendations and BRANDS included in those Tweets.
30% of Gen Mixers read blogs and news online. Only 21% use newspapers anymore.
Online, Gen Mixers LOVE Perez Hilton and US Weekly Magazine.
The #1 demographic that Gen Mixers follow on Twitter, MySpace and Facebook are celebrities and tabloids.

So, in case you wondered what kind of woman puts up with the guy who writes Tendown - its one who LOVES Perez Hilton, apparently.  This is good to know.

10. Parvati~
Bowersox was good this week, again the only reason to watch any minute of Idol; but what might be the best played season of Survivor had another huge play this week when Parvati sniffed out the Heroes plan to outmaneuver Russell and send home either Jeri or Sandra - she played two Immunity Idols simultaneously, seemingly swerving everyone remaining in the game - and knocked off JT (he who wrote the letter discussed in Tendown 22) to give the Villains a 5-4 advantage (if they can keep Sandra on their side).  It was a helluva play, and it is really time to consider her one of the great reality competition players ever; she's already got a million bucks from the previous All Star season (the Survivor version of Fresh Meat; Wes and Kenny are sort of like the Millennial version of Rob and Russell) and despite targeted during the entire game, she's overcome numbers and her alliance with Russell has now taken out Tyson/Boston Rob/Coach/ and JT in the past 5 tribal councils.  If somehow she wins this game, which still seems completely ridiculous, given that no one would want to be next to her at the end, she's the best Survivor player ever.  What you want to see now is who turns on the other first - she or Russell, as you'd assume they'd each want to go to the end with Jeri.

And that's Tendown for this week.  I'll see you next time...if there is a next time...

Your pal,


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