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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

October 12, 2005

Chuck & Eliot, haiku needs you!

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:22 pm

Here’s a job far too big for the Haiku Sheriff, or his deputies: proudly states:

HAIKUS [sic]


Nothing says the U.S. Congress like Japanese poetry.

You can read our hilarious Congressional Haikus for free by  laughing man small

visiting the Congressional Directory, selecting

the Member of Congress whose haiku you want to read, and then

scrolling down to the “Haiku” section of their profile. There’s a

haiku for every Member of Congress and delegate (DC, Puerto Rico,

American Samoa, Guam, and U.S. Virgin Islands).

Can we be frank, here?  Not only are the selections not haiku or senryu,

they are not funny.  We found the page “thanks” to a Google referral that we

traced back to the YourCongress page on Senator Sarbanes.  Here’s the proffered




Once a Rhodes Scholar
Senator for a long time
which sport did he do?


          [f/k/a Ed. Disclaimer: this is not haiku!] 


Here are the so-called “haiku” for my State’s Senators:


Charles Schumer  “schumerMug”


Issue of the day
Chuck will have something to say
not camera shy





Black pants uniform
You’re in the Senate, not jail
That was the White House 

 [f/k/a Ed. Disclaimer: this is not haiku!]


The f/k/a Gang would gladly pay higher taxes to increase the budget

of the Haiku Sheriff, who could probably operate successfully worldwide

from right here in the Empire State.


spitzerG  Perhaps Chuck Schumer or AG Eliot Spitzer will take up

this crusade.  There are a lot of haiku poets in New York State — and

we vote!  (update: As pointed out at Point of Law, on Oct. 13, 2005, Mr.

Spitzer and his staff should have some extra time on their hands — freeing

up resources to police against deceptive and fraudulent haiku claims.)



cold autumn rain —

spotting three yellow slickers

she smiles


[Oct. 12, 2005]  


on Harriet, it’s “wait and see” / “schmait & see”

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 4:06 pm

If the rowdy citizens of the blogisphere were in charge of the

Nation, we’d have only lynch mobs and kangaroo courts.  For

proof, see Prof. Bainbridge‘s new Harriet Miers Poll.  So far,

almost no one is willing to “Wait and See.”


kangarooG  This plays into the hands of observers who believe

that many Conservatives who talk about “strict constructionism”

and “originalism” are mostly into “resultism”  Of course, it

could also be that webloggers and their public would rather

have an opinion than a considered judgment about the important

issues of the day. (see blawggers mug Old Gray Lady)  And, it

surely seems, that those Federalistales are very big on woe-is-we

martyrdom, mixed with a dash of narcissism. 


As for this poll, perhaps a better set of choices would have been:

Leaning For


Leaning Against



Then, we could at least have a semblance of open minds.






the baby
sucking her thumb





as the spider

goes down the drain

a second thought



“as the spider” – Upstate Dim Sum (2003/I)






doubting promises

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:54 am

Professor Bainbridge is trying very hard to convince us that George

W. Bush is breaking a promise to appoint a “strict constructionist”

to the Supreme Court.  Steve’s post comes in response to the argument

from Hugh Hewitt (which Powerline‘s Paul Mirengoff found persuasive)


w space “When Bush said “like Scalia or Thomas” many

people  heard many things. I think it is very safe to say that

the vast majority of American voters did not hear “justices

committed to a particular theory…of textualism or originalism.”

Putting aside the naive faith it takes to believe in the strict performance

of any “promise” made in a campaign on any topic with wiggle room,

there are a number of problems with Steve’s assertions.  He states:

“Whether or not Bush broke his promise doesn’t depend

on what the American people heard; it depends on what

Bush said.”

“Bush said he would appoint strict constructionists. That

is the promise he made and the fire to which his feet should

be held.”


“In other words, a justice ‘committed to a particular theory’

of strict construction would be an originalist or textualist.

podiumSN  In support of his conclusion that promises have been broken,

Prof. B. tells us:

1) When asked by Tim Russert in Nov. 1999 what he would

want to know about a potential justice before making an

appoint to the Supreme Court, Pres. Bush responded: “The 

most primary issue — the most primary issue is will they 

strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States.” 

(emphasis added)


2) Pres. Bush said a couple times during the second 2004

Presidential Debate, “I would pick somebody who would

strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States.”

I don’t think President Bush’s mouthing of the term “strictly interpret”

can be interpreted as strictly as Prof. Bainbridge insists.  Here are

some of my reasons:

tiny check  What people “heard” is clearly important to what was

promised, as is what the President meant when he

“said” the words.  As a former divorce mediator (and

settler of many visitation disputes), I can assure you

that an important promise needs to be clarified, so that

all parties know the meaning of the words being used,

and the intentions of the person making the promise.

Steve sounds a bit like a jilted spouse, who has a

verbatim litany of all the things “that jerk” promised

her before he done her wrong.  The jiltee’s friends can

only shake their heads and wonder how she could

have read so much into so little.



to the cat:
“that’s complete and
utter nonsense”


 Tom Clausen
           from Homework (2000)


tiny check Prof. B. also wants us to believe that a President,

who uses the phrase “the most primary issue” three

times in explaining what he wants to know about

a potential justice, is a stickler for precise language

and commands a broad and deep understanding of

constitutional law and the meaning of “strict construc-



tiny check  This same President, when giving two examples of

strict construction, mentions having “under God”

in the Pledge of Allegiance, and then — surely

well-prepped for the Presidential Debate — gives this

explanation of the Dread Scott case:

” . . which is where judges, years ago, said that

the Constitution allowed slavery because of

personal property rights. That’s a personal opinion.

That’s not what the Constitution says. The

Constitution of the United States says we’re all —

you know, it doesn’t say that. It doesn’t speak to

the equality of America.”

noYabutsSN  Steve is, of course, absolutely sure he’s right, and even

added an update pointing to “looking for a strict constructionist” by

Ann Althouse, claiming it shows he has the better argument.  But,

as Althouse said:

“So, in a sense, Bush didn’t know what he was talking

about when he pointed as Scalia as his model for a judge.

‘Strict constructionist’ is more of a politician’s term.

Are we really supposed to believe that G.W. Bush understood Justice Scalia’s distinction between textualism and strict construction, as he 

explained in his1998 book A Matter of Interpretation? Scalia said (at 23):

“Textualism should not be confused with so-called strict 

constructionism, a degraded form of textualism that brings

the whole philosophy into disrepute. I am not a strict

constructionist, and no one ought to be— though better

that, I suppose, than a nontextualist. A text should not

be construed strictly, and it should not be construed

leniently; it should be construed reasonably, to contain

all that it fairly means.”



In a Comment to the Bainbridge post, Beldar points out that Steve

is really straining: In parsing old transcripts, Prof. B, you’re projecting

onto non-lawyer Bush a detailed, dictionary-like knowledge of competing

metaphysical terms of legal art like “strict constructionist,” “textualist,”

and “originalist” — in order to divine his own subjective understanding

of the words you’ve quoted?   The Professor replies that “If he said he was

going to appoint strict constructionists, I think we’re entitled to hold him

to the ordinary meaning of those words.”  The “ordinary meaning” that

Steve has supplied us with is the definition given in’s Legal

Dictionary — a document that I think we can all agree has never been

perused by G. W. Bush. 


all through
his temper tantrum
her calm




after speaking importantly
  she quickly resumes
  sucking her thumb


      Tom Clausen
           from Homework (2000)


A Presidential debate, or a conversation on Meet the Press, is   vote neg

aimed at the general public — not constitutional scholars.  It is plain

that the public (or the actual voting electorate) does not have a consensus

on the meaning of “strict constructionist.”   Instead, I believe that the

public — like President Bush — uses the term (if at all) as a catch-

phrase or code for either “the kind of decisions I want the Court to

make” or “the kinds of decisions I do not want the Court to make or

overrule.”   The President couldn’t actually say that (although he does

give examples of results he’d like to see), so he uses a phrase that

he thinks will win him support.


becomes clear that those words have no

“ordinary meaning” for ordinary Americans,

nor for policy or political wonks.

Finally, Steve says: “Arguably, Bush didn’t explicitly promise to

appoint judges in the Scalia/Thomas mold, although I think that he

certainly intended people like me (and Hugh and Paul, for that

matter) to draw that inference.”  But, look what then -Gov. Bush

told Tim Russert, when asked in 1999 if he’d make appointments

“similar to Scalia in their temperament and judicial outlook”:

“Well, I don’t think you’re going to find many people to

be  actually similar to him. He’s an unusual man. He’s an

intellect. The reason I like him so much is I got to know

him here in Austin when he came down. He’s witty, he’s

interesting, he’s firm. There’s a lot of reasons why I like

Judge Scalia.”

That is the George Bush elected by his partisans — a man who 

truly believes he can schmooze with someone, and get to be

friends, and see inside his or her heart, and conclude whether 

that person will make decisions agreeable to George W. Bush.

A man who lets the head of his Vice Presidential search committee

select himself.  That sounds an awful lot more like a President who

would appoint Harriet Miers, than one who would turn to a Federalist

Society wonkEsq after coming to share a deep agreement over complex

constitutional legal theories. 


 pickup g  There are a number of ways in which Pres. Bush is quite smart,

but he likes his legal theory to fit on a bumper sticker.   Steve Bainbridge

knows this. There may be many reasons for Prof. B to fight the Miers’

confirmation, but they need to be more persuasive than “But, you promised!”

she’s waited up …
to have some last words
with me


done –
the repairman tells me
any fool can do it




home from work …
the little one brings me
an empty wine bottle


           from Homework (2000)

                                                                                                           stop whining


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