Sunday, January 29, 2006


Need I say more?

A Webb of deceit....

Here's an excerpt from David Corn's articles on Webb...David Corn, and the Nation, who are also what I consider part of the "liberal establishment". So you can disqualify the NY Times if you like, but how many newspapers can you accuse of being right-wing tools before you sound like Noam Chomsky?

Again Webb has trouble chasing the money and fails to thoroughly document how much dirty cash Blandon and Meneses steered to the contras. Was it as little as $80,000 or so, as CIA investigators claim Blandon told them? Or was it millions that were instrumental to the survival of the contras, as Webb implies but does not prove? Was Blandon's drug business originally set up as a cash-for-contras enterprise, as Webb depicts it? That's what Blandon has asserted. But there is evidence, as Webb notes, that Blandon may have been a drug entrepreneur years before he hooked up with Meneses. If so, that would cast doubt on his I-did-it-for-the-contras tale and make that claim sound more like an after-the-fact justification.

There are other problems with Webb's account. His threshold of proof is on the low side. In one instance, he passes on -- seemingly with a straight face -- the allegations of a drug dealer who claimed Vice President George Bush met with (and posed for a photo with) Colombian dealers to craft an agreement under which the traffickers could smuggle coke into America if they supplied weapons to the contras. And Webb is indiscriminating in his use of the term "CIA agent," making it appear as if Blandon and Meneses were dealing with James Bond-like officials of the CIA, when actually their contacts were Nicaraguan contras on the Agency payroll.

This may seem like hairsplitting. But it's important when evaluating the CIA's culpability. Webb demonstrates that the Agency collaborated with contras and contra supporters suspected of smuggling narcotics. But were Blandon and Meneses in cahoots with the Agency? The evidence only shows they were part of a dark community with which the CIA was merrily doing business. Another fuzzy point in the story is how Blandon and Meneses both ended up on the government payroll as snitches. Webb strongly hints this was due to their contra work.
-David Corn

The Nation

Friday, January 27, 2006

Are you so sure Murray?

Sitting between my Con Law Professor and my buddy Murray, I was arguing about gun control again. I was hearing, yet again, the "we need our guns to revolt" line and wasn't buying it. Apparently all those guns the Iraqis had didn't help them against Saddam Hussein, but pro-gun folks rarely realize that kind of thing. Freedom doesn't come from the barrel of the gun. It comes from the pen. It comes from ideas. Without people who understand the concepts, it doesn't matter how well-armed you are.

But what this is really about is yet another conspiracy theory that has found it's way into the minds of normally reasonable people. Is it true that the CIA sold dope in LA for Iran-Contra? Well, the San Jose Mercury News ran a series of articles, later retracted and debunked by the NY Times, the Post and the LA times. I checked out what frontline had to say about the subject and came up with this:

One of the people who was accused in the San Jose Mercury-News of being in the midst of the CIA cocaine conspiracy is one of the most respected, now retired, veteran D.E.A. agents, Robert "Bobby" Nieves.

"You have to understand Central America at that time was a haven for the conspiracy theorists. Christic Institute, people like Gary Webb, others down there, looking to dig up some story for political advantage," Nieves said. "No sexier story than to create the notion in people's minds that these people are drug traffickers."

But in the weeks following publication, Webb's peers doubted the merit of the articles. Fellow journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times and Webb's own editor accused him of blowing a few truths up into a massive conspiracy.

Amongst Webb's fundamental problems was his implication that the CIA lit the crack cocaine fuse. It was conspiracy theory: a neat presentation of reality that simply didn't jibe with real life. Webb later agreed in an interview that there is no hard evidence that the CIA as an institution or any of its agent-employees carried out or profited from drug trafficking.Frontline

Saturday, January 21, 2006

You got owned

A very funny video of people getting slammed in various ways... see "you got owned" part one.

You got owned

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Here's an interesting video showing some Kyokushin Karate competitions. A very tough style, they don't hit to the face, which I discovered to be a problem after joining a Kempo school.




Monday, January 09, 2006

cover letters nonsense

Dear Sirs,

Thank you for pointing out the obvious errors that occur in cover letters. Let me rephrase my request. Write a bad cover letter. I'm not talking about one with blatant errors, and foolish mistakes, I'm talking about a bad cover letter. If you can't, then there is no such thing as a bad cover letter. There is only the opinion of the reader. Period. That doesn't make the cover letter good or bad. It means that someone is judging someone else. What gives them that right? The simple fact that they are looking to hire you. Does it mean they're right. No. Is Joel right about his cover letter preference. No. He's using the influence he's built up by writing articles and creating noise to send a message about the way he wants things done. Good for him. So if he wants things done in a certain way, then he needs to make it known. This should be obvious to all employers. Why are these people not sending me cover letters the way >I< want them to be written. Hello! It's because you didn't tell them how you wanted it done. The employer might say, I thought all this was standard. Wake Up! It's not standard. If you want a cover letter that reads as though the applicants are sucking up to you then put that in your advertisement for the job. Otherwise just accept the damn things the way you get 'em.

Shift Left Operator
Monday, June 16, 2003


Evgeny Goldin
Monday, June 16, 2003

Shift Left,

Point taken.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Joel's just applying his own personal "Whack a Mole" to sift through all the resumes he gets. He doesn't want to have to weigh 100+ resumes against each other, so he's developed "punch list" criteria to disqualify applicants, regardless of their credentials or suitability to the position.

I continue to maintain that this demand for personalized cover letters is a need for ego-stroking - the need to feel like the applicant is personally asking you for a job because they like you, as opposed to the abhorrent possibility that an applicant is looking for a way to pay their bills.

Philo cover letters

Sunday, January 08, 2006



IN a suit for breach of contract, the nonbreaching party often has a choice of remedies for material breach; damages, specific performance, rescission and restitution, quasi-contract, and a tort action. Where these remedies are inconsistent in legal effect (for example, rescission and damages), the P must elect a remedy he desires. The remedy most frequently sought for breach of contract is an action at law for damages resulting from the breach.

Types of damages; the basis types of damages are:

compensatory damages- money damages given on the theory that the injured party should be placed in the same position as if the contract had been properly performed, so that the P receives the benefit of his bargain.

punitive damages-these are generally not recoverable for breach of contract

Nominal damages-when no monetary loss is proven, the non-breaching may recover a nominal amount of money to reflect the injury from the mere fact of breach.


In some cases, the standard measure of damages does not provide full compensation for the loss of the benefit of the bargain. IN many cases, special circumstances can aggravate the ecnomic loss to one party when the other party fails to perform. WHere such special circumstances were known to both parties at the time the contract was made, the breaching party will be deemed to have assumed the liability for such additional damages in the event of breach. Such damages must have been foreseeable.


Contracts to sell or lease property: Because a contract is generally a bargain, relief for breach is generally the "benefit of the bargain" or what the promisee expected to receive, measured in money compensation, had the promisor performed. This is the promisee's "expectation interest." Contracts for the sale of goods are governed by the UCC. Under UCC sections 2-708 and 2-713, the standard measure of damages for breach of contract for the sale of goods is the difference between the contract price and the market price for the goods at the time and place where the goods were to be delivered, regardless of which party breached. This standard measure is not inflexible; courts have a variety of remedies available to compensate promisees and do justice. For example, if a seller refuses to deliver the goods contracted for, the buyer has the right to cover, or purchase substitute goods from other sources, and the seller would have to pay the cost of substituted goods. (UCC 2-712) Contracts involving real estate have other special remedy provisions. Breach of contract remedies are studied in depth in courses on contract law, but this section provides examples of how courts use the law to do substantial justice.


Contracts for personal services receive special consideration because a critical aspect of such contracts is the contracting parties' expectations for the services of the particular person involved or the particular employment specified. For example, a wrongfully terminated employee has a duty to mitigate damages by seeking alternative employment, but she need not accept just any employment.


Construction contracts frequently present difficult remedy problems when breached because costs, damages and values can vary so significantly. For example, if the breach occurs when the project is nearly complete, but the project has become nonviable for reasons no related to the breach, is it fair, or rational, to require completion of the project? Or if the cost to complete a nearly completed project is significant, but the value added by the completion is minimal, how should the court determine the appropriate damages for breach?


Damages are not recoverable for loss beyond an amount that the evidence permits to be established with reasonable certainty.


Another measure of damages for breach of contract is the injured party's expenditures made in preparation for performance or in performance (reliance interest). This amount must be offset by any loss the injured party would have suffered had the contract been performed.



Tippee and Tipper liability

A person, not an insider, who trades on information received from an insider is a tippee and may be liable under rule 10b5 if 1. she received information through an insider who breached a fiduciary duty in giving the information, and 2. the tippee knew or should have known of the breach.

whether an insider's fiduciary duty was breached depends largely on whether the insider communicated the information to realize a gain or advantage. Accordingly, tips to friends or relatives and tips that are a quid pro quo for a past or future benefit from the tippee result in fiduciary breach. Note that if the tippee is liable, so too is the tipper.

the courthouse bully

courthouse bully

Courthouse bully
Legal assistant Jim Carrao works the dark corners of the justice system. He serves papers, does background checks, files annoying cases--and knows just enough law to be dangerous.
By Rose Farley

Published: Thursday, January 14, 1999

Jim Carrao stares through the windows of a ninth-story conference room into a thicket of fog that has swallowed the city's skyline and blotted out the view of the world outside. And he frowns.

Once again, it seems to him, forces beyond his control are engaged in a conspiracy. How they must snicker as they carry out in whispered tones a plot to leave him standing alone, again the victim of hollow loyalties, broken promises, and heartless strangers.

His sharp, piercing eyes blink behind silver-framed glasses. Averting his gaze from the gathered mist, he buttons his trench coat and tugs his Sherlock Holmes hat over his head. Before he leaves his attorney's office, having spent a late December afternoon fending off unwanted questions, Carrao wants an answer to a question of his own.

"How long must I be punished?"
The question is one that nobody, except possibly Carrao himself, can answer with any certainty. That's because Jim Carrao seems to define the concept of crime and punishment very broadly, using it to justify any one of the countless, often bizarre legal snares he's been entangled in for the better part of three decades.

In recent years, Carrao has worked diligently to build up his Dallas business called Lawmart. In many ways, he has put a history marred by civil sanctions, jail cells, and broken homes behind him to become a success within the local legal community.

Equipped with a supply of fax machines, which transmit solicitations to law firms and other local businesses 24 hours a day, Carrao peddles a range of freelance legal services more commonly provided by private investigators or in-house paralegals. They include everything from serving people with legal papers and doing background checks on individuals by digging into their pasts to interviewing witnesses for lawyers.

A legal assistant or paralegal, Carrao has never been a lawyer, though he wishes he were one. While he doesn't hold himself out to be an attorney--an activity the State Bar of Texas enjoined him from some 18 years ago--Carrao, for all practical purposes, acts like one. But unlike real lawyers, who make their living by representing clients, Carrao is his own best client and seems to have a taste for suing his customers, many of whom are lawyers.

Type his name into the computer down at Justice of the Peace Al Cercone's court or across the hallway in the District Clerk's office, and more than 100 lawsuits crowd the screen. Many of the cases feature Carrao, representing himself, suing attorneys who he claims didn't pay their bills.

What's remarkable about Carrao is not just the volume of cases he files, or that he sues the very people who are the source of his livelihood, but that this wannabe lawyer isn't altogether bad at what he does. In many cases, Carrao emerges victorious, and on more than one occasion, he has had defendant-attorneys brought to court in the company of the sheriff, their bank accounts garnisheed after they refused to respond to his claims.

Carrao's record for beating lawyers on their own turf could inspire cheers among the growing number of Americans who think lawyers are sub-human, but he doesn't limit his practice to attorneys alone. He also sues former employees, friends, and even his relatives, whom he has accused of depriving him of everything from their love and affection to trivial possessions, such as underwear, tubes of K-Y Jelly, and in one case, a frozen chicken.

Taken individually, few of these cases are especially fascinating. Together, though, they reveal a pattern of personal vindictiveness carried out through the court system by a man who seems well aware that he has a constitutional right to sue as many people as he chooses and that there are few judges who will stop him. The legal system has allowed him to flourish despite considerable evidence that he abuses it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Trained fighters more vulnerable to criminal charges

A common question people have is whether trained fighters and martial artists must "register their hands as deadly weapons". Not true, but not totally off the mark either. If a trained fighter uses their training against someone, and criminal charges are brought, most courts can use that evidence to decide what the state of mind of the defendant was. If you claim self-defense, but clearly had more than adequate training to defend yourself without paralyzing someone, that could be a problem. See Vitauts M. Gulbis, "Parts of the Human Body, Other Than Feet, as Deadly or Dangerous Weapons for Purposes of Statutes Aggravating Offenses Such as Assault and Robbery," 8 A.L.R.4th 1268 (1981 and supplements)and this article

The relevant california case here is People v. Dozie, 224 Cal. App. 2d 474

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The snob appeal

Why are lawyers such snobs?

Being a snob myself, without any money or a good school to call home, this was an interesting read. I love elitism when it works for me, as well as nepotism. When it doesn't, it's viva la revolucion....

Top ten worst movie lawyers

Here's a list of the top ten worst movie lawyers in history....

Top ten

Ten of the Lousiest Lawyers in the History of Hollywood

10. Vincent Gambini (played by Joe Pesci) in "My Cousin Vinny." Failed the
bar exam multiple times. Gave the shortest and most hilarious opening
statement in the history of law. So bad he was good.

9. Ken Bowden (Bill Murray) in "Wild Things." Had a sign on his office,
"As seen on TV." Wore a cervical collar whenever anyone was looking.
Another one who was so bad he was good. (But the only reason he won his
case was that the prosecution witnesses were in cahoots with the defendant
-- which we didn't learn until later in the movie in a truly memorable scene
in a motel room).

8. Willy Gingrich (Walter Matthau) in "The Fortune Cookie." The king of
so-bad-he-was-good. Like Murray's Ken Bowden, except he dressed better.
Matthau's Oscar-winning breakout role.

7. Mr. Gilmer (William Windom) in "To Kill a Mockingbird." Smirking,
leering, gum-cracking, cocksure prosecutor of the innocent Tom Robinson in
the Depression-era South. Any fool can win a case in front of a stacked

6. Teddy Barnes (Glenn Close) in "The Jagged Edge." A dumb lawyer hat
trick: 1) agrees to defend client only if she first convinces her that he's
innocent, 2) sleeps with client, and 3) finds out client really is guilty so
she has to kill him.

5. Nico Della Guardia (Tom Mardirosian) in "Presumed Innocent." Another
arrogant prosecutor whom the judge consistently addresses as "Mr. De-lay

4. Jay Porter (Jeffrey Tambor) in "...And Justice for All." The goofiest
lawyer among a movie filled with goofy lawyers. The last scene says it all:
he's walking up the courthouse steps and tips his toupee to Al Pacino coming

3. Warren Fresnell (Larry Bryggman) in "...And Justice for All."
Incompetent partner of Arthur Kirkland (Al Pacino) who blows off
preparations for a sentencing hearing for one of Kirkland's clients, with
tragic results.

2. Arthur Kirkland (Al Pacino) in "...And Justice for All." Supposedly
hotshot criminal defense lawyer doesn't like his unsavory client (slimey
judge accused of rape, played by John Forsythe), so he sells him out at
trial. As bad as Vincent Gambini's opening statement was (see #10 above),
at least he didn't announce to the jury that his client was guilty.

And my nomination for the lousiest lawyer in Hollywood history:

1. Ned Racine (William Hurt) in "Body Heat." An infamously incompetent
bottom feeder whose renowned lack of legal skill causes him to be selected
as the fall guy for a murder.

-Tom Becker
State Public Defender, State of Iowa

Monday, January 02, 2006


Well, I'm back at work in the library looking at a bus.orgs text and not opening it. I've spent the last several weeks doing as little as possible and have been quite successful. I blew a bunch of money renting a house on a cliff in Mendocino overlooking the ocean. I see virtually no reason to ever visit the area again absent some abalone diving. It's cold. It's windy. It's rainy. It's expensive and the roads totally suck. Why exactly I felt compelled to go on vacation in northern california when I live there is a mystery.

Besides that, the whole "renting a vacation home" thing sucks. They post rules all over the place. The lady made me pay 95 dollars for a cleanup fee and then made us agree to clean up the place. The water heater was cold, I almost got electrocuted by a light switch, there was a leak in the middle of the room, there was rolly pollies crawling all over and the carpet was filthy. We weren't allowed to use the fireplace. I need to learn how to hang on to my money better when it comes to vacationing.

I saw some interesting movies over the vacation. "Syriana" and "Munich" which I liked. The recent conservative claptrap has been that there is a spate of movies apologizing for terrorism, avoiding the issue of arab terror and exuding the notion that there is a "moral equivalency" between terror and western civilization.

I admit it is trite for Hollywood to come off that way. It's rather like being impressed that "Brokeback mountain" is a large-budget movie about a gay love story. I don't find that, in itself, enough to garner my attention any more than a story about evil corporations and CIA shenanigans. All of this smacks of 20-something execs who barely got their whiskers thinking that there is something original about all of this. Somewhere along the line, popular culture has mistake titillation for controversy. There is nothing controversial about Madonna making out with Britney. It's boring, it's amateurish.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Ron Howards' "Cinderella Man" was a fabulous movie. Good movies, like a lot of things, play you without you thinking you are being played. It's about subtlety. Women's fashion, advertising, so many different things are so badly done that it's obvious you are being manipulated. The only thing I ask when you are manipulating me is that you do it well. Otherwise, leave me the fuck alone.

Syriana, and Munich, are indeed weak in that they fail to address the inhumanity of Islamofascism. However, they do address the reality of western machinations, the corruption of corporatism and democracy by big money, and the moral decay of those who see themselves as saving western civilization. Munich, in particular, asks the question; How is it that we can claim to be saving western civilization by compromising those things within us that distinguish us from the uncivilized savages we slaughter wholesale?

Really what the critics are complaining about is that niether Syriana, nor Munich, took sides on the side that they like. Syriana was weaker in that respect, as the notion of CIA drones blowing up the reformer seems silly. Certainly the CIA operates on a more subtle basis than that. The great, glaring wart on both the faces of this movies is a failure to address how really evil these terrorists are. But I'm not sure that I can fault hollywood for not joining the massive propaganda effort aimed at demonizing muslim civilization and driving a wedge between the mideast and the west. There is, in some sense, the unspoken motivation of these filmakers to heal the rift between us. I'm just not sure that they understand what type of rift that is, or what measures are required to deal with it.