Knapp on the state of empire

Tom Knapp has written something that you ought to read:

Since going back to an all-volunteer force after Vietnam, the military has depended on incentives to get young men and women to enlist. One of those incentives -- unstated but definitely at play -- is that while the kid is building a college fund and learning a skill, there's a limit to the amount of tear-assing around the world on bullshit missions that's acceptable. Yes, every kid who signs on the dotted line knows, or should know, that there's a possibility of war in his or her future. But there's also been a basic trust that America's leaders would only take the country to war under certain conditions (the Soviets rolling their tanks into western Europe circa 1985; "peacekeeping" duty in Bosnia circa 1995). Catastrophic wars, yes. Short-term deployments for realpolitik, fine. Optional forever wars versus endless insurgencies in sandpits which represent no threat to the United States -- not. The GI Bill can buy a high level of dedication, but raw credulity sports a higher price tag.

Knapp's got street cred as a soldier in the first Gulf War and he's not just some anti-war nut (a nut, sure, but a complex and subtle one).

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...keep it real...


An Invitation

I received this in my email last night:

Mr. X,
Congratulations, it is with great pleasure that I invite you to join the American University Law Review. I sincerely hope that you will choose to become a member of our staff. Law Review offers many challenging and rewarding experiences, and I look forward to your joining us. Given your outstanding academic performance [emphasis mine], I am confident that you will make a valuable addition to our staff.


Should you accept our offer we will notify you of the time as we approach orientation. We have also scheduled a happy hour to welcome you to the Law Review, and will provide details soon. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me by email or phone using the information below. Again congratulations, and I look forward to working with you.


For those not familiar with law review, this definition gives a pretty good overview of what it is and how one gets on. I took a little bit of a gamble by not entering the write-on competition in hopes of grading-on. Some bets pay off.

The actual work of being on the law review consists mostly of long hours in the library 'spading' (checking the source material for each and every author footnote) and making sure that the citation format is exactly right. To give you a sense of how much fun this can be, this article on anthrax hoaxes from the most recent issue of the law review is 74 pages long and has 534 footnotes. Now imagine looking up each and every one of them to make sure the author got them right. Thrilling, non?

I have to pay extra tuition for all of this boring drudgery (it's not just a job, it's a class), but law review is one of those tickets you have to punch to have a good shot at a job with a prestigious firm or a clerkship with a judge, so I'm going to accept the invitation.

In other news, my half-marathon training is kicking my ass and leaving me tired all the time, my friend Ross is coming up to visit this weekend (we're gonna go see the 2 Skinnee Js at the 9:30 Club on Saturday), and final exams for the Summer semester are less than two weeks away. More succinctly, I'm a little busy and that's why my blogging has been light.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...a wee bit proud today...


The Best Defense

During my Wills, Trusts, & Estates class tonight, we covered the sad case of Azcunce v. Estate of Azcunce, 586 So. 2d 1216 (Fla. App. 3rd Dist. 1991). The father executed a will naming his three children at the time: Lisette, Natalie, and Gabriel. He then had a fourth child about a year later, Patricia. Two years later, he executed a codicil that did not name Patricia. When he died suddenly of a heart attack at the tender age of 38, the probate court held that the codicil republished the previous will and thus the pretermission statute didn’t apply to Patricia (it was deemed an intentional omission). Intentionally omitted children generally have no rights in the United States (excepting Louisiana).

Note: Following this case, Patricia’s mother brought a malpractice suit [Espinosa v. Sparber, Shevin, Shapo, Rosen & Heilbronner, 612 So. 2d 1378 (Fla. 1993).] on her behalf. The court held that there was no privity between the attorney and Patricia, since she (a) wasn't the client and (b) wasn’t a clearly intended beneficiary in the will (!!), and thus had no standing. Love that circular logic:

"The lawyer screwed up the will and left me out."
"Yeah, but you can't sue him for it because you're not mentioned in the will."

The question was posed to the class, "Why would the Florida Supreme Court deny this little girl any opportunity to recover for the damage caused by the incompetent lawyers who drafted a codicil without including her in it?" According to our professor, the conventional wisdom is that Florida is notoriously protective of its lawyers, as evinced by the tortured reasoning in Espinosa. She then told us an illustrative anecdote.

She was involved in administering a multi-jurisdiction divorce judgment, with regard to the property located in D.C. The Florida attorney representing the man judged against was sleazy and slimy and, in the words of the professor, "made you want to spray yourself with Lysol after being in the room with him." When he appeared in court, he had a large cell-phone dangling from his hip and a shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest.

Later on, she was talking to her Florida counsel for this divorce case, and he told her that the sleazy lawyer was in the Miami Herald.

She asked, "What'd he do, commit a double homicide?"

Florida counsel replied, "No, worse." That got her attention. He continued, "After being appointed guardian ad litem for a mentally retarded woman, he stole her money and took sexual liberties with her."

She expressed her disgust.

He said, "Wait, it gets better. I haven't told you his defense."

She said, "Defense?"

He said, "He said he had hemorrhoids."


"He said that the medication he was taking affected his ability to reason."

The worst part of the story was the punishment he received from the Florida Board of Professional Responsibility; a 90-day suspension from the practice of law.

She then told the class that there was a earthy young associate in her office who would suggest, whenever he heard about indefensible behavior, that the accused should use the "bloody asshole defense."

Hey, it worked in Florida.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...enjoying class...


A Million Ways to Be Cruel

OK Go has a brilliant dance number set to their song, A Million Ways to be Cruel. Hat tip: Johnny Law.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...off for the weekend...

UPDATE: NPR's All Things Considered did an interview with the lead singer of the band and his choreographer sister.

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