Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I'm Moving

This is the last post for this site. The end of an era...

As I mentioned last weekend, I am moving to a new web address. I started this blog last August after losing my job in Chicago. The title of the blog made sense back then, as I spent time in the unemployment line. I have put that time well behind me, and am now gainfully employed as an attorney in Delaware. As a consequence, I have decided to start anew at a new, more appropriately named website: Attorney in the Del. Please visit, I hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Bad Sign

Only a week back at work and I already feel like I need another vacation.

St. Jean Beach. St. Barth's. August 1, 2005. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Pity Those NYU Law Students

In the Washington Post today, I came across an utterly awful argument against the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Since the author is listed as the faculty member of a law school, I did not find the conclusion that John Roberts is evil surprising. I did find myself baffled, however, that the writer of such an awful piece is Deborah Ellis, the assistant dean of New York University Law School.

The premise of the piece is that John Roberts is a state's rights advocate who correspondingly wants to take away women's rights by failing to extend the protection of federal law to certain areas involving women's issues. Fair enough. But, wow, her column is nonsensical!

Let's read the piece together, shall we?

Questions For John Roberts

By Deborah Ellis

The furor over the recent NARAL Pro-Choice America ad about John Roberts and abortion clinics is unfortunate in that it obscures an important issue that raises serious questions: John Roberts's role as deputy solicitor general in the court case Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic.

Excuse me if this sentence did not foreshadow a coming "fake but accurate" argument. Both sides of the aisle panned the NARAL ad as misleading, if not defamatory. The TV ad portrayed Roberts as a supporter of abortion clinic bombers because of a brief he submitted in the above-referenced case. Conveniently absent from such characterization was context and purpose. Roberts submitted the amicus brief, in his role as Justice Department advocate on behalf of the U.S. Government under George H.W. Bush's presidency, to support an interpretation of federal law backed by the administration he was working for. In other words, he was doing his job, not filing a brief necessarily outlining his own personal beliefs. But no matter, the furor over the ad "obscures an important issue." [Fake But Accurate bells are ringing!] That issue is:

In that case, Roberts argued on the side of Operation Rescue for a narrow interpretation of one of our nation's civil rights laws.

Good grief. Where is the issue? Being shocked that a conservative administration was pushing for a narrow interpretation of a law is akin to bewilderment that the sun rises from the east and settles in the west every single day!

So now we have our issue. And Ms. Ellis's argument picks up downhill speed from here.

The case was not about clinic bombings, lawful protest outside abortion clinics or even abortion rights. As Justice John Paul Stevens said in his 1993 dissenting opinion, the case was "about the exercise of Federal power to control an interstate conspiracy to commit illegal acts."

OK, so we now have the set up that perhaps the NARAL ad just took the wrong angle. Roberts wasn't sleeping with the abortion bombers as the NARAL ad suggested. [Insert mock sigh of relief here.] But there is a "serious question" to be answered, she said, so Roberts must be guilty of something nearly as heinous. Rather than being shocked or outraged, you might start crying tears of laughter after the next paragraph when you find out his tragic sin.

Why were these cases necessary? For a decade leading up to 1993, Operation Rescue and other national groups organized massive human blockades to forcibly prevent women from entering abortion clinics. This was a strategy designed to overwhelm small police forces so the blockaders could not be arrested. I argued in the Supreme Court on behalf of women's health clinics and female patients in the Bray case.

(As an aside, let me just note that Ms. Ellis has what we would call motive here: sour grapes. She lost to Mr. Roberts's position in this 1993 case. She might have a reason to hold a grudge.)

Here is where it gets good:

We used a Reconstruction-era civil rights law to obtain protection from federal marshals so women could safely enter abortion clinics. The 1871 law was enacted for exactly this purpose: to prevent mobs from conspiring to take away the civil rights of newly freed slaves. (emphasis added)

This is John Roberts's sin. He argued the administration's position that an 1871 law protecting newly freed slaves did not provide protection to free women in 1983 who were seeking to enter an abortion clinic! I am blown away. Who knew?! Where is the outrage?

Before moving on, this is the part where the attempt by liberal talking heads to try to portray as "activist judges" the conservative justices with strict constructionist tendencies gets just a tad absurd. Is a judge who believes that a law passed in 1871 to protect freed slaves does not protect women in 1993 from obtaining an abortion an "activist" or vice versa? You make the call. But if your call is that the one seeking to make Ms. Ellis's argument is not the activist, I wonder what dictionary you're reading.

If by the end of her article you still are not convinced that Ms. Ellis is the activist, then let me know how your last meeting went. Let's move on ourselves, and let Ms. Ellis try to convince us that Roberts is the local chauvinist pig:

In the summer of 1991, during a particularly large blockade in Wichita, John Roberts went on national television to defend the government's decision under President George H.W. Bush to file a friend-of-the-court brief on the side of Operation Rescue. That brief asked a federal court to stay implementation of an injunction against the blockades that had already been issued.

So far so good, we're back to the facts.

In contrast to Little Rock in 1957, when federal marshals protected African American children trying to integrate schools, Roberts argued that women should be left to whatever protection the states could provide, however inadequate.

This is the part where an event happening solely within the borders of a state (protection of a private business and private citizens) and, at the time, a matter solely within the realm of state law, is suddenly conflated into a federal cause because the advocate cannot get what he or she wants. Nevermind the laws on the books, take the issue to federal court and try to do an end run around the legislature. More on that in a minute.

(Also, we're getting a little closer to par for the liberal course here. We have the anti-choice/women theme, and now the disingenuous allusion to race meant to imply that Roberts might also take away the civil rights of minorities. Only thing missing is the use of the word "Bushitler" or "President Chimpy McChimperson" or some such tangental jab at the president.)

To be fair, in Roberts's Supreme Court argument he pointed out that the Justice Department was defending the proper interpretation of the 1871 law, not Operation Rescue's unlawful conduct. (emphasis added)

Ah ha! The truth comes out finally in the fifth paragraph...b-b-b-b-b-b-ut (there is always a "but" when the weak position is conceded):

But no courtroom caveat can erase the impact of the federal government's lending its weight on the side of the mob intent on stopping women from exercising a constitutional right. It was a devastating blow. (emphasis added)

"Courtroom caveat"? You mean, the law, by chance? And are you saying that although women have a constitutional right to an abortion via Roe v. Wade, that the federal government is tasked with protecting each and every abortion clinic nationwide? I have the right to freedom of speech and assembly, but it is up to Officer Friendly of the state or local police to ensure that I get the proper protection to do so when that right is threatened, not G.I. Joe.

Newsflash: Little Rock 1957 was an extraordinary use of federal troops, not the norm.

We will never know how much the Justice Department's position influenced the court's decision in the Bray case, which was lost on a close vote. One justice in the majority, Anthony Kennedy, was so concerned about women receiving the protection of federal law enforcement that he wrote a separate opinion suggesting alternative methods. Congress remedied this setback by passing the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in 1994. (emphasis added)

Here again lies the betrayal of the liberal agenda: rights shall be created by the courts, not by the legislature. Ms. Ellis seems genuinely disappointed that this issue was removed from her activist hands by Congress. In fact, this very paragraph shows that the system works. Women seeking to exercise their rights were denied the ability to do so. The executive branch did not believe it had an obligation to act, and it did not. The issue was litigated, but the final outcome based on the reasoned interpretation of a federal statute did not favor the plaintiffs. The law provided no protection.

That's when public opinion and elected officials put the issue to rest by, gasp!, passing a law to solve problem. There it is. Our democracy and system of checks and balances at work and working in a nutshell. God bless America!

But instead of hanging her flag and waiving a sparkler or two, Ms. Ellis is instead holding this against Roberts!

As with other controversial positions he took as a government lawyer, Roberts should be questioned about whether his particular arguments in Bray represent his own beliefs. More fundamentally, however, he should be asked what role he believes the federal government has in protecting civil rights and women's rights, particularly in the face of state recalcitrance or inadequate resources.

First of all, how is it "controversial" for Roberts to take a position on a law that the Supreme Court agreed with him on in a 6-3 vote? If anyone's position was controversial (using an unrelated law from 1871) it was Ms. Ellis's. She lost, after all.

Second, we have again the old reliable racial and sexist bogeyman red herring. And think about it: If it is fair to hold the arguments Roberts made in a brief advocating the government's position against him, I wonder, will we ever see ascend to the Bench that champion of the rights of poor minorities and women, the public defender, if this argument holds? I mean, what if he defended a child molester or a serial killer or a terrorist or a rapist? Should we hold it against him if he/she submitted briefs on behalf of such miscreants, or shockingly, did his job and defended these monsters in court?

Of course not. If that was the case we wouldn't have a certain Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the court, she the former head of the ACLU. The ACLU defends the rights of the convicted and unpopular on a daily basis. I would love to see the library of briefs she submitted or approved!

So let us conclude:

It goes too far to label Roberts as a fellow-traveler with Operation Rescue.

Distance ourselves from the NARAL ad...B-b-b-b-b-b-but (of course, state the fact then make a similarly distasteful allusion):

But if he subscribes to such a crabbed view of federal civil rights authority that he would jeopardize the rights -- and even the safety -- of half the population, that distinction may not matter.

There you have it. John Roberts should not be confirmed because he does not think an 1871 law enacted to protect newly freed slaves applies to women seeking abortions in 1993. This makes him 1) a sexist, 2) somehow (always somehow) a racist, and 3) a physical danger to the safety of women.

Are you now, courtesy of the assistant dean of NYU law school, convinced that the John Roberts portends the end of women's rights AS WE KNOW THEM? If not, there is probably a rather large club you could join.

Public Service Announcement

Not much going on these days besides work. So today, in your best interests, I have decided to make a public service announcement. I like to do what I can to prevent unnecessary injury to the public, so please take the below photo to heart. Nothing worse than getting plunked by a rouge foul ball.

Be Alert For Foul Balls! Wrigley Field, Chicago. September 14, 2003. Posted by Picasa

Preseason Terps Hype

Maryland opens on Saturday, September 3 against Navy in Baltimore. That date is coming up fast. It's time for some Terps hype.

Terrapins Are Working To Get Off The Ground

Darrius Heyward-Bey has given Maryland's quarterbacks extra incentive to perfect their timing; otherwise "he'll outrun our arms," Joel Statham said.

Unfortunately, judging by last season's QB performance, that's almost a given.

Season-ending injuries force Terps' Friedgen to adjust

"This hasn't been one of my better weeks," said Friedgen, who said he was back in the office at 5 a.m. Tuesday to tinker with the lineup.

Terps pick tackle; injuries mount

Meanwhile, linebacker Erin Henderson was lost for the season with a torn ACL in his knee while running back Mario Merrills' status for the opener against Navy on Sept.?3 is uncertain after he sprained his ankle. The rash of injuries over the past week now also includes fullback Ricardo Dickerson (sprained ankle).

On the bright side, what team doesn't lose somebody for the season early? Nothing new here. All indications are that the Fridge is satisfied with the adjustments he has made.

"If we could get somebody back it would be real good," Friedgen said. "We're not where we want to be [in team preparation], but we're not far from it."

Terps practice report.

Newsflash - QB Joe Statham completed a pass:

QB Joel Statham connected with WR Danny Melendez on a deep ball down the left side in team drills, with Melendez shielding freshman CB Anthony Wiseman with his body to haul in the pass.

I say, Save it for the regular season, Joe!

MORE: Purdue football hype (equal opportunity for my lovely wife) -

Trouble in Paradise

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue strong safety Bernard Pollard has developed a reputation as one of the Big Ten's hardest hitters and biggest trash-talkers.
Coach Joe Tiller has banned him from practice for the next three days because Tiller thought the latter got out of control during Monday evening's practice.

"When they blow the whistle, you get lined up and get back in the huddle," Tiller said. "He won't let (the trash-talking) go and that was carrying it too far."

Several members of the Purdue coaching staff urged Pollard -- who couldn't be reached for comment -- to settle down during a scrimmage, telling him such actions during a game would earn a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

An incensed Tiller later told him to leave the field. Some of Pollard's teammates pleaded with him to settle down, but he kept looking over his shoulder as he left and exchanged words with Tiller, who followed him off the field.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Beat Down By Summer

It has been entirely too hot and dry this summer. I am probably not the only one looking forward to fall, not just for the start of football season, but for some much needed relief. My lawn is looking more like this picture than one would expect. I actually kicked up some dust when I mowed what was left of it last night.

And now that I am not in Chicago, I can honestly say I welcome the winter.

Cactus. Tucson, AZ. March 2002. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 15, 2005

Raspberry: Discard Your Vote, Obey Your Masters

I haven't written anything about politics lately because of time constraints and a lack of anything substantive to say. Not much of importance has happened lately to merit comment, anyway. In fact, politics for the last couple of months has so lacked substance, that I came to the realization that what goes for political "news" these days is little different than reality show-style political soap opera. Boring.

I did read a column today, however, that blew my mind. William Raspberry writes weekly in the Washington Post. In general, I read his column and am able to give it worthy consideration, even if his politics differ from mine. He is not afraid to buck the common wisdom on his side of the political spectrum on occasion and suggest some not so popular reforms (for his bretheren).

Today, however, he went unhinged. He traded in composure and reason for rant, and exposed his deepest held beliefs. Those beliefs, it appears, betray a belief that the Supreme Court should be a court that solves the people's problems rather than one that interprets the laws; in other words, a superlegislature.

Raspberry's first several paragraphs are mere filler that set up his final points, contained in the columns last two paragraphs. These paragraphs read:

The point: Nothing in that glide path suggests exposure to anything that might temper his conservative philosophy with real-life exposure to the problems and concerns of ordinary men and women. Roberts is undeniably bright, said my friend, but his life has been one of quite extraordinary privilege.

And then it occurred to me: Roberts's life has been amazingly like that of the man who wants to put him on the court -- but with better grades.

First, (I firmly believe this and have remarked on it several times on this blog...why don't writers listen to me?) Raspberry loses all credibility in the single instant that he takes a cheapshot at the president through the column's last four words. {Teacher's voice} Again class, personal attack = immediately loss of credibility. And this personal attack that has nothing to do with the rest of the column! In four words of conclusion, Raspberry decimated any authority he had to make a persuasive argument...for what? The article is about John Roberts, not the president! A foolish error.

Second, what does the exposure to real-life problems have to do with interpretation of the law? The Supreme Court isn't an equity court where the judges are free to decide cases based on what they perceive to be fair, rather than black letter law. The Supreme Court's role is to interpret the Constitution, U.S. Code and other federal rules and regulations appearing on the books. There is no federal common law. Therefore, the only reason why "exposure to real-life problems" would matter, would be if the author wants the court to solve people's problems without regard to what is written in the code or constitution: i.e., legislate from the bench. {Teacher's voice} Class, this is what we call "judicial activism".

Oh, and don't miss how Raspberry automatically assumes (as would most of his reading liberal audience) that privilege is an inherent negative. (Ed. - Hey, what about affirmative action?) Roberts may have breezed through the ranks, but his record shows that it was merit that propelled him, not nepotism or politics. He may have been able to attend private schools by virtue of his father's money, but I think anyone can agree that how you got into the school isn't as important as what you did when you arrived. Roberts graduated #1 in his class.

There you have it.

What ever happened to the idea that if you are qualified, you should be affirmed? This writer is basically saying, "Yeah, but…" and also hoping to (somehow) stick it to the guy he is referring to in the final four words of the column. It's sad, because usually I respect William Raspberry's point of view. This one is just unhinged.

Unexpected Discovery

I was outside pulling weeds in the backyard tonight. We have a serious infestation of crabgrass, no thanks to windblown seeds courtesy of the crabgrass jungle in the neighbor's backyard (which borders on a state of nature).

"Crabgrass" naturally reminds me of a classic exchange between Homer Simpson and Ned Flanders:

Homer grouses about mowing the lawn. ``Supposed to be the boy's job.''

Ned suggests Homer use some time-release granules to get rid of the
crabgrass. Homer denies that he has any. Ned points out a few patches, ``There. There. And there's a big patch over there.''

"There's nothing wrong with crabgrass. It just has a bad name, that's all. Everyone would love it if it had a cute name like, eh, `elfgrass'. " -- Homer defending crabgrass against Flanders.

Hilarious! Back to my story...In the process of pulling up a patch of crabgrass reaching out of the patio bricks, I noticed something gold and shiny come up with the roots. Upon closer inspection, I was surprised to find that it was a sticker bearing the following message:

"Made in China"

Either it was the Guinness Book of World Records winner for the patch of crab grass with the deepest root system on the planet, or our trade deficit problem is more serious than I ever imagined!

Off She Goes

Yesterday, we had a going away party for my little sister who is headed off to college this year. Time moves by much too quicly as you age. I know she'll be a success. Good luck!

Butterfly. Silver Spring, MD. August 14, 2005. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Over a year has passed since the bank told me to empty my desk and hit the street. During the ensuing time, I worked a few temporary positions before packing my bags for the move from Chicago to Wilmington, DE. I even got married and took another flippin' bar exam during the same period. A lot has happened in 12 months.

All of these changes have rendered the name of my website obsolete. Not only am I now permanently employed (at least until the bar exam results come back), but I am doing quite well. No longer in the unemployment line, the title of this website has become meaningless. So I am going to change it. I'm also thinking about changing the weblink, as a consequence.

So say goodbye to "Casualty of Capitalism" and hello to "Attorney in the Del." Next weekend I will change my web address to Just a heads up to my reader(s). See you at the new address!

UPDATE: Whoops, supplied the wrong web address. It should be

You Can Buy My Photos!

Now you can purchase my photos at Exposure Manager! I have added a permanent link to the gallery under the header "Recommended" in the sidebar to the left. The gallery currently contains pictures mostly from Chicago and the great outdoors, but I intend to add more in the future.

If you see any photos on this blog that you would like to buy, please do not hesitate to send me a note in the comments, and I will add it to the gallery for purchase.

Thanks again for visiting my site and your support.

Le St. Bernard de St. Barth's

While floating in the surf on Colombier beach, I noticed that this rock formation on a ridge has a strong resemblence to a St. Bernard. Later, we also unfortunately noticed that a couple of male French sunbathers were choosing not to let the sun's rays miss a single square centimeter of their skin...(shudder).

Le St. Bernard de St. Barth's. Colombier Beach, St. Barth's. August 2005. Posted by Picasa

Smoking the Enemy Out of Their Caves

Michael Yon's website is a must read. Mr. Yon is an embedded reporter in Iraq, who accompanies the Marines on some of their most dangerous missions and is not afraid to follow the men when the battlefield gets hot. His column is candid, informative, and always fair to the soldiers he follows into the fight.

In a typically fascinating dispatch, Mr. Yon most recently reported on the difficulties presented in finding IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devises). I reproduce an encouraging part of his column below. Although the seemingly random chance of being claimed by an IED represents one of the most fear-inducing eventualities created by the enemy in Iraq, our boys still have the luxury of knowing that the weapon has one major weakness: it still has to be deployed by people. People are prone to a variety of errors. As the below shows, in Iraq one of the biggest errors the enemy can make is being predictable:

Running to Yarmuk Traffic Circle

The Yarmuk traffic circle is fantastically dangerous. On the first mission I ran in Mosul, we lost two soldiers and an interpreter, all killed by a car bomb. Others were horribly burned, scarred for life. Many of our wounded and killed soldiers got it right here, or in the immediate vicinity. The ISF takes serious losses in this part of town. But it's not entirely one-sided--the Deuce Four has killed well over 150 terrorists in this neighborhood in the past 10 months. But almost none of those made the news, and those that did had a few key details missing.

Like the time when some ISF were driving and got blasted by an IED, causing numerous casualties and preventing them from recovering the vehicle. The terrorists came out and did their rifle-pumping-in-the-air thing, shooting AKs, dancing around like monkeys. Videos went 'round the world, making it appear the terrorists were running Mosul, which was pretty much what was being reported at the time.

But that wasn't the whole story. In the Yarmuk neighborhood, only terrorists openly carry AK-47s. The lawyers call this Hostile Intent. The soldiers call this Dead Man Walking.

Deuce Four is an overwhelmingly aggressive and effective unit, and they believe the best defense is a dead enemy. They are constantly thinking up innovative, unique, and effective ways to kill or capture the enemy; proactive not reactive. They planned an operation with snipers, making it appear that an ISF vehicle had been attacked, complete with explosives and flash-bang grenades to simulate the IED. The simulated casualty evacuation of sand dummies completed the ruse.

The Deuce Four soldiers left quickly with the "casualties," "abandoning" the burning truck in the traffic circle. The enemy took the bait. Terrorists came out and started with the AK-rifle-monkey-pump, shooting into the truck, their own video crews capturing the moment of glory. That's when the American snipers opened fire and killed everybody with a weapon. Until now, only insiders knew about the AK-monkey-pumpers smack-down.

Read the whole thing. In fact, just keep reading. Mr. Yon's dispatches are some of the most candid on the web, and there is plenty of material to encourage and discourage you, but always something that will make you proud of our men and women who are fighting for us right now in Iraq. Keep them in your prayers.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Bug of the Week

Who wants a delicious ice cream cone to cool off in this hot weather? I don't have one to offer, but I do have a photo of a spider that looks like a cone with vanilla ice cream (or glace, in French) covered in chocolate. Mmmmmm!

Uh, just to be clear, I'm talking about the ice cream, not the spider.

Cone Spider. St. Jean Beach, St. Barth's. August 2005. Posted by Picasa