This page includes posts from January
25-31, 2004 in the usual reverse
order. Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these
January 30, 2004
Joementum comes to Delaware
I can vote in
Delaware Democratic presidential primary next Tuesday.
Although it may turn
out to be an entirely futile gesture, I plan to push the lever for Joe
I didn’t vote for the
Connecticut Senator when he was on the undercard in the presidential
election in 2000, but it wasn’t because of anything he did or said. For me
it was more of a protest vote against the prior administration and the guy
he was paired with at the time.
Among the remaining
candidates for this year’s Democratic nomination, Lieberman is the only one
who comes close to my position on foreign policy and national security.
ago we received a brutal reminder of the primacy of those areas of
presidential responsibility, and what needs to be done to protect ourselves.
As Roger L. Simon
wrote recently, Lieberman recognizes that.
visited Delaware today, but unfortunately I didn’t learn he was here
until it was too late.
It would have been
fun to meet him.
January 29, 2004
Ecclesiastes comes to Cocoa
The City of Cocoa, Florida is a modern
kind of small town. Located 50 miles east of Orlando, its 16,000 or so
residents enjoy easy access to their local government officials.
In fact, any person with access to the Internet can e-mail
City Manager Ric Holt or the
Mayor and City Council, and let them know about any problems or concerns
they may have. There’s no need to
be a resident of Cocoa to take advantage of
On the other hand, at the Council’s
regular meetings a different set of rules applies:
In its discretion, the
council may set aside up to thirty minutes of each regular meeting for
“delegations.” The purpose of such delegations shall be for any
resident or taxpayer of the city to make his/her views known to the
city council upon any subject of general or public interest.
* * *
The council recognizes
that delegations is for the purpose of legitimate inquiries and discussion
by the public and not for the purpose of advancing arguments or
repetitious questions concerning matters which the council believes to be
closed or not of general public concern. The council shall have the
right at any delegations to decline to hear any person or any subject
matter upon proper motion and majority vote by the council.
Clarence Rowe doesn’t
live in Cocoa, and doesn’t pay taxes there, either. Nonetheless, it seems
that he was a regular attendee at the Council meetings, and frequently spoke
before the Council.
Reading between the
lines, I also have the impression that Rowe wore out his welcome.
On two occasions in 2002, the Mayor invoked the
residency rule. The council let him talk, but Rowe’s speeches were limited
to the topics on the meetings’ agendas.
Rowe then sued the
City on First Amendment and equal protection grounds, but the city obtained
a summary judgment order from the District Court on his facial validity
Rowe appealed to the
Eleventh Circuit. Nonetheless, the panel was not particularly
sympathetic to his First Amendment argument:
The City Council’s Rules of
Procedure do not, on their face, violate the First Amendment…. As a
limited public forum, a city council meeting is not open for endless
public commentary speech but instead is simply a limited platform to
discuss the topic at hand. The rules on their face simply do not
impermissibly restrict speech.
The appellate judges
didn’t think much of Rowe’s Equal Protection claim, either:
Protection Clause does not forbid classifications. It simply keeps
governmental decisionmakers from treating differently persons who are in
all relevant aspects alike.” Nordlinger v. Hahn, 505 U.S. 1, 10
A bona fide residency
requirement, as we have here, does not restrict speech based on a
speaker’s viewpoint but instead restricts speech at meetings on the basis
non-residents, those without a direct stake in the outcome of a City’s
business, to ramble aimlessly at City Council meetings on topics not
related to agenda items would be inefficient and would unreasonably usurp
“the presiding officer the authority to regulate irrelevant debate . . .
at a public meeting.” [citation omitted]. The restrictions in the
challenged regulations are reasonable and viewpoint neutral.
Some folks confuse the right to petition
government with their own idea about when and where they can exercise that
right. This short opinion is a handy reminder.
Then again, the
principles noted by the court shouldn’t be news to anybody, having been
previously mentioned in
Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 3:7:
There is an appointed time for everything. And there
is a time for every event under heaven--
time to be silent and a time to speak.
January 29, 2004
An hour after sunrise
This morning continued the cold spell we've been going
On the other hand, the period shortly after sunrise did
have its nice features:
This picture was shot looking east over the marshland
through which the St. Jones River flows, a short distance south of Dover Air
January 29, 2004
A different kind of affirmative action
This week the
Circuit Court of Appeals issued another in its series of decisions
concerning the desegregation of Mississippi’s higher education system.
The appellate court upheld the trial
judge’s approval of a class action settlement that was also approved by the
Mississippi legislature. It came after nearly three decades of litigation
begun with the initial filing in 1975, seeking to end segregation’s
lingering effects on the state’s colleges.
The dollar value of the agreement could
exceed $500 million spread over the next seventeen years. Nearly half that
amount is set aside for significant capital upgrades to the three
historically black institutions: Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State,
and Alcorn State.
The 44-page opinion gives a concise
history of the lawsuit and the terms of the eventual settlement, including
the fact that the settlement proceeds are in addition to the normal
appropriations for each university. The panel decision is especially
revealing for those who haven’t followed the case closely, but I don’t
intend to discuss all the details.
I’m most intrigued by one aspect, however:
establishes both a publicly funded and a privately funded endowment for
the benefit of Alcorn State, Jackson State, and Mississippi Valley State.
Mississippi will create the public endowment, which will consist of $70
million, over the course of fourteen years. Additionally, the agreement
requires the Board to use its best efforts over a seven-year period to
raise $35 million for the privately funded endowment. Initially, the
endowments will be managed by a seven-person committee composed of the
presidents of the historically black universities, the Commissioner of
Higher Education, two members of the Board, and a member to be agreed on
by the other members.
The income from both
endowments will be allocated 28.3% to Alcorn State, 43.4% to Jackson
State, and 28.3% to Mississippi Valley State, with the schools being
required to use the funds for other-race15 marketing and
recruitment, including the employment of other-race recruiting personnel
and the award of other-race student scholarships. The schools may also
expend the endowment income on the academic programs provided for in the
agreement. Alcorn State, Jackson State, and Mississippi Valley State will
each receive its pro rata share of the endowments when the institution
attains a total other-race enrollment of ten percent and sustains that
enrollment for three consecutive years. After obtaining full control over
the endowment funds, the historically black universities may use the
income for “sound academic purposes such as faculty compensation, academic
program enhancements and student scholarships.”
agreement defines “other-race” as non-African-American.
A group of plaintiffs who opposed the
class action settlement challenged this part of the deal, among other
Nonetheless, the Circuit Court turned
aside their challenge:
We … reject Appellants’ objection to the
requirement that each of the historically black universities achieve and
maintain ten-percent other-race enrollment before receiving its share of
the endowments. As the United States explains in its brief, the
ten-percent threshold seeks to ensure that the historically black
universities devote the endowment funds to promoting the desegregation of
their schools, not to upgrading them “so that they may be publicly
financed, exclusively black enclaves by private choice.” Fordice, 505 U.S.
at 743. This provision will not encourage the historically black
universities to discriminate in admitting students because the current
admissions standards are uniform across the state-university system; the
schools lack discretion to deny entry to those applicants who meet the
uniform criteria. Instead, the ten-percent threshold will provide the
historically black universities with a legitimate incentive to recruit and
to attract other-race students.24
we note that the ten-percent threshold responds to the monitor’s
observation that the historically white universities have been
desegregating faster than the historically black universities.
Not a little irony there, it seems to me.
After all, the problem began with the
state’s official policy of creating separate and unequal educational
opportunities for its students based on race, with the black colleges kept
in a deeply inferior condition. Now, in order to improve the chances for
full desegregation, special affirmative action efforts must be employed to
attract non-black students to Jackson State, Alcorn State, and Mississippi
Valley, including the use of race-based scholarships.
There’s no cause for celebration of that
January 28, 2004
Blogroll Changes 'n' Stuff
I've added a few more folks to the Blogroll on the
The two most recent additions are Nick Schulz'
Transition Game and
Schulz' site goes on the roll for the reasons described
As for Wonkette, I agree with
what Eugene Volokh said.
By the way, if you've added Sneaking Suspicions to your
blogroll and your site doesn't appear here, just send me a note with the
preferred URL and I'll be happy to reciprocate. It's part of my grand scheme
to add enough daily visitors to make it worth my while to take
Welch's advice about
January 27, 2004
Techno/sports geeks unite
Glenn Reynolds noted with approval the arrival of Nick Schulz’s new
blog, Transition Game,
focused on the twinned issues of sports and technology. As Reynolds says,
“[T]here’s a lot more overlap between those subjects than there used to be.”
Here’s an example taken from my
July 11, 2003
golf column for
The Cape Gazette. The piece below
discusses golf, NASCAR racing, and harness racing, three sports where
technology issues are a prime source of interest for their fans.
For golf, it’s club design. For NASCAR, it’s a
matter of equipment standardization. And for harness racing, the technical
issues relate to drug testing.
In all three cases, the technology issues also relate to
maintaining the integrity of the sport.
New PGA Tour
protocol--hand in your driver with your scorecard
It’s getting a
little testy out there on the
Tiger Woods recently
alleged that somebody on the Tour is using a driver that doesn’t conform
to technical rules designed to limit the "spring-like effect" of crushing
a golf ball against a thin face of titanium at well over 100 mph.
The equipment rules
adopted by the
USGA and the
Royal & Ancient last
summer placed a limit on the Coefficient of Restitution (COR) of 0.830 on
all drivers used in competition.
Thinking about words
like "coefficient" usually makes my hair hurt.
Basically the rule
is intended to keep golf balls from being rocketed off the club face more
than it should.
At the swing speeds
Tour players generate, this is a real risk. For amateur golfers, whose
average drives lag behind most members of the
LPGA Tour, this is not a major possibility.
Dave Anderson wrote
in the July 6
Times that the Tour is considering changes in its procedures to provide
for equipment checks at each Tour stop. Players can voluntarily prove that
their drivers remain within the official performance limits. As Anderson
"Woods is wrong in putting so many
other long-hitting pros under suspicion, but he is correct in putting
this unidentified pro, who he believes is getting extra distance off the
tee with an illegal driver, on notice as a suspected cheater — the worst
insult in golf.
"Although testing next year will be
voluntary, it will also be on demand. With a portable testing device at
every PGA Tour event, Woods or any other pro can request the rules
officials to test the driver of a certain player, or the drivers of
several players. Even if the driver proves legal, it could provoke some
I watched some of
the Western Open coverage on ABC on July 5. The network ran a very good
segment on this issue.
I preferred Curtis
Strange’s suggestion over Tiger Woods’ recommendation for mandatory driver
testing before each round. Strange said the Tour should follow the
NASCAR example, in which
the vehicles are checked not only before the race, but also immediately
As racing fans know,
there can be some ugly consequences if a car or truck is found to be out
of compliance. For example, this spring NASCAR suspended Craftsman Truck
series crew chief
Monsam for two races for violating equipment rules on Jon Woods’ Ford.
Monsam also had to pay a fine.
The same post-event
testing model is also used in horse racing, under rules adopted by the
Delaware Harness Racing Commission and similar regulatory bodies.
Again, there’s a premium on maintaining the integrity of the sport for the
sake of its long-term success.
The risk is the same
in all three sports. There’s a lot of money at stake, and unfortunately
some folks will try less-than-legal means to enhance their chances to
obtain some of that cash.
The point of
post-event testing is also the same—the honor of the sport is more
important than any of its participants, and anyone who would besmirch
their sport’s honor has no place in it.
There’s no time like
right after the event to frighten some folks into remembering that fact.
The first few posts at Schulz' new
site look promising. I'll be dropping by regularly to see how it takes off.
If you like sports, you should
January 26, 2004
The proper limits of political discourse
I’m not a regular
viewer of The McLaughlin Group.
The show usually
gives off far too much heat and not enough light to suit my tastes in public
channel-surfing yesterday I came across
bit of commentary on the show.
The group was
discussing the recent
New Hampshire, where Peter Jennings attempted to discern if Wesley Clark would
distance himself in any significant way from an odious claim by one of his
JENNINGS: General Clark, a lot of people say they don't you well, so
this is really a simple question about knowing a man by his friends. The
other day you had a rally here, and one of the men who stood up to endorse
you is the controversial filmmaker Michael Moore. You said you were
delighted with him.
At one point, Mr. Moore said, in front of you, that President Bush --
he's saying he'd like to see you, the general, and President Bush, who he
called a "deserter."
Now, that's a reckless charge not supported by the facts. And I was
curious to know why you didn't contradict him, and whether or not you
think it would've been a better example of ethical behavior to have done
CLARK: Well, I think Michael Moore has the right to say whatever he
feels about this.
I don't know whether this is supported by the facts or not. I've never
looked at it. I've seen this charge bandied about a lot.
But to me it wasn't material. This election is going to be about the
future, Peter. And what we have to do is pull this country together. And I
am delighted to have the support of a man like Michael Moore….
JENNINGS: Let me ask you something you mentioned, then, because since
this question and answer in which you and Mr. Moore was involved in,
you've had a chance to look at the facts.
Do you still feel comfortable with the fact that someone should be
standing up in your presence and calling the president of the United
States a deserter?
CLARK: To be honest with you, I did not look at the facts, Peter. You
know, that's Michael Moore's opinion. He's entitled to say that. I've seen
-- he's not the only person who's said that. I've not followed up on those
facts. And frankly, it's not relevant to me and why I'm in this campaign.
JENNINGS: OK, thank you, sir.
In reacting to this,
Eleanor Clift used some classic Beltway-speak in an obvious attempt to
defend Clark’s responses to Jennings.
Thankfully, Tony Blankley, Pat Buchanan, and especially Lawrence
O’Donnell would have none of it:
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question:
Did this hurt Clark? Tony Blankley.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, look. I mean --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this the real land mine?
MR. O'DONNELL: Yes.
MR. BLANKLEY: This is stunning. This would be the equivalent of one of
the other candidates saying all those things about Clark. I understand
he's a clinical paranoiac. I don't know for sure; he might or might not
be. Repeating it would be shocking and appalling and irresponsible. And
his calling the president a deserter in the terms he did, acquiescing in
that charge, I think puts him beyond the pale.
MS. CLIFT: Now wait a second.
MR. BUCHANAN: He gave credence to a --
MS. CLIFT: A more nimble politician would have said, well, I --
MR. BLANKLEY: Not a more nimble, a more sane politician.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. A more nimble --
MR. O'DONNELL: Just a decent person wouldn't have --
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MS. CLIFT: A more nimble politician would have said--
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: -- I wouldn't necessarily use that word, but there are
MR. BLANKLEY: He --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're almost out of time.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. There are questions about whether --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: There are questions about
where George W. Bush was for a year of his military service.
MR. BUCHANAN: He gave --
MR. BLANKLEY: He wasn't a deserter! Peter Jennings gave him two
MR. O'DONNELL: You don't have to be a nimble politician to handle that
question. You have to be a decent human being. He wasn't a deserter.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. BUCHANAN: He gave credence to a vicious slander.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back.
[Emphasis in bold].
“deserter” claim is not only false; it also says more about the accuser than
the accused, and none of it good.
really are reprehensible, even in political debate. I’m glad that some in
the public arena still know that, and are willing to remind those whose
partisanship provides a convenient but completely insufficient excuse.
January 26, 2004
Claudes for a campaign strategery story
Candidates for political office are well aware that they must appeal to
several types of voters for support.
Actually, anyone who slept through their American Civics class in high
school also knows this.
Edwards Pushes for
Undecided New Hampshire Voters
At this late date, there’s not much
point to pushing for votes from those who already decided to vote for
someone else, now is there?
On the other hand, this routine story
ended with a not-so-routine quote from a New Hampshire woman, describing why
she was impressed with the Senator from North Carolina:
“He has a lot of charisma,” Debbie McCrum, 54, said after hearing
Edwards speak in Gorham, New Hampshire on Saturday. “He makes me think of
Bill Clinton. He's like Clinton, but with integrity.”
For a lot of us, that
missing character trait helps explain our voting choices in the last couple
How we perceive a
candidate’s moral qualities will also help push our voting decisions in the
next one, too.