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).

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Liberals' Last Stand

We have a two term Republican president. We've had a long run of elected Republican majorities in the House and Senate (I say "elected" because the most recent Democratically controlled Senate was accomplished by virtue of Republican Jim Jeffords switching to Independent during a 50-50 Senate...tie breaking vote to the Republican Vice the behest of Democratic leaders shortly after the voters of his state voted him into office as a Republican).

Now, take a look at this diagram and see how out of step the Supreme Court is with popular opinion, as demonstrated by voters nationwide. Don't see the connection? On the far right of the graph are the court's two most liberal members: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer. Out of the most important twelve opinions issued by the court this term, Ginsburg was in the majority eleven times, and Breyer 10. Contrast that to Justice Clarence Thomas, perhaps the court's most conservative member, who joined the majority only six times. Excluding the unamimous opinions, you have RBG and SB at 9/10 and 8/10, respectively, and CT at 4/10. The court's other champions of conservativism, Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia, clock in at 4/10 and 6/10 in majority opinions.

How is that in today's more conservative society, the court's most liberal members, including a former official of the ACLU (RBG), are the final word on the Constitutional issues of the day? Want to know why the Democrats compromised on the filibuster and reserved the right to filibuster any Supreme Court nominee President Bush offers for their consideration? Well here it is. The last bastion of liberalism is the body that has the last word on our laws (and increasingly our "consensus" on social values).

Rumor has it that the Chief Justice and/or moderate conservative Justice Sandra Day O'Connor may announce their retirement(s) at any time. For those conservative and conservative leaning voters who put our legislative and executive branches into power, the upcoming confirmation battles promise to be an important step in consolidating that power throughout government. Expect the Democrats to defend a left-leaning, unelected court like the Alamo.

The fireworks this year could actually begin after the 4th of July.

Random Monkey Thursday

Why, you ask?

Why not?!!

Random Monkey. Sabang, Philippines. April 13, 2004. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Today's View From Delaware

Artificial Sky. Wilmington, DE. May 2005. Posted by Hello

Shooting At LaVar's House


Police in Anne Arundel County are investigating a shooting that wounded a security guard during a party hosted Saturday night by Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington at a rented mansion in Gambrills. Arrington was not an intended target and is not being investigated, said Lt. Joe Jordan, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County police. However, the police intend to interview him as part of the ongoing investigation.

Hmmm. Maybe it was Chris Wilcox. Or Sean Taylor.

NBA Draft

No sign of John Gilchrist. No surprise.


Initially projected as a mid-second-round pick, Gilchrist helped himself with a strong showing in Chicago's pre-draft camp earlier this month. His performance would usually warrant being selected among the first 10 picks of the second round, a source familiar with the NBA's discussions involving Gilchrist said Monday, but Gilchrist's off-court issues significantly hampered his status and it was uncertain where he would be picked, if at all, even one day before the draft.

No kidding.

Despite his projected draft status, Gilchrist felt he was at least as talented as the most hyped point guards in the draft, including Wake Forest's Chris Paul, Illinois' Deron Williams and North Carolina's Raymond Felton, all of whom were chosen among the top five selections overall.

I knew Gilchrist was a head case, but I hadn't figured he was a paranoid delusional.

Monday, June 27, 2005

A Little Bit of Autumn to Cool You Off On A Hot Summer's Evening

A couple weeks ago I sent a stray roll of film to the developers to see what was on it. Turns out there this film goes back to last October when I went to one of America's most over-lawyered state parks: Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. Though it's a little late for photos of fall colors, you can either enjoy these or hear me rant about tonight's pathetic Delaware evidence lecture in bar review class.

I thought so.

Leaf In Stump. Starved Rock State Park, Illinois. October 21, 2004.Posted by Hello

Leaf In The Light. Starved Rock State Park, Illinois. October 21, 2004. Posted by Hello

Bug. Starved Rock State Park, Illinois. October 21, 2004. Posted by Hello

Fall Foliage. Starved Rock State Park, Illinois. October 21, 2004. Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Weekend Photoblogging

The next couple of posts are a sampling of some pics I took over the course of the last few days.

Tattered Rose. Wilmington, DE. June 2005. Posted by Hello

Orange Flower. Elkton, MD. June 25, 2005. Posted by Hello

Yellow Dragonfly. Wilmington, DE. June 26, 2005. Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Welcome to DC!

They're not in Montreal anymore:

During Road Trip, Nats Players' Cars Broken Into at RFK

By Barry Svrluga and Clarence Williams
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 25, 2005; E01

On Wednesday night, the Washington Nationals returned from their 10-day, three-city road trip still in first place in the National League East. They arrived at RFK Stadium by bus from Dulles Airport, grabbed their luggage and headed for their cars.

But when they arrived in the players' parking lot beyond the right field wall at RFK Stadium, they discovered that several of their cars had been broken into -- and that of outfielder Marlon Byrd had been stolen -- a breach of security that left several players angered and shaken.

"Bottom line, it was a [expletive] job done here by the people who work here, a [expletive] job here," Byrd said before last night's 3-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. "There's no way that my car can be driven off the lot while we're out of town, and I get here, and I'm walking around looking for my car. Whoever's job it was, whoever's supposed to be doing that job, did not do their job."

Urge to sympathize dropping:

"I'm not stupid," outfielder Jose Guillen said. "I got nice cars. I got one car that's worth $280,000. I'm not leaving it here. This is a weird, weird, weird place."

That's just obscene. I remember the Cubs parking lot was basically full of tricked-out Lincoln Navigators and Mercedes'. The rookies probably drove the Hondas. I feel for anyone who has been the victim of crime. But I think these guys will be able to move on without skipping a beat.

Friday, June 24, 2005

From the Archives

A couple nights ago, I was messing around in Photoshop with converting some old color photos to black and white. I really like how this one turned out. I took this picture on a hike in the Shenandoah in 2002. I drove along Skyline Drive and stopped at a random trail to do a daylong hike just after the Autumn colors had peaked. In the color photo, there is a nice variety of colors down in the valley in the distance. Without the color, I like how the bronze compass becomes real focal point of the photo.

Shenandoah Compass. November 20, 2002. Posted by Hello

More Kelo Reaction

More reaction summarized here.

Get informed.

One of our newest federal judges to emerge from the filibuster compromise had this to say in a former case:

Americans are a diverse group of hard-working, confident, and creative people molded into a nation not by common ethnic identity, cultural legacy, or history; rather, Americans have been united by a dream—a dream of freedom, a vision of how free people might live. The dream has a history. The idea that property ownership is the essential prerequisite of liberty has long been “a fundamental tenet of Anglo-American constitutional thought.” (Ely, The Guardian of Every Other Right (1998) p. 43.) “Indeed, the framers saw property ownership as a buffer protecting individuals from government coercion. Arbitrary redistribution of property destroyed liberty, and thus the framers hoped to restrain attacks on property rights.” (Ibid.) “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist” (6 The Works of John Adams, Discourses on Davila (1851 ed.) p. 280), because property and liberty are, upon examination, one and the same thing.

Private property is in essence a cluster of rights inuring to the benefit of the owner, freely exchangeable in accordance with the terms of private agreements, and recognized and protected by common consent. In the case of real property, this cluster of rights includes the right to exclude persons from certain physical space. In the case of intellectual property, it may include the right to employ a valuable method or process to the exclusion of others. In other words, private property represents zones of individual sovereignty—regions of autonomy within which we make our own choices.

Sounds right to me. Only, the Kelo decision is one more nail into the coffin of that founding idea in favor of centralized government control of property rights.

Finally, a must read counterpoint from a very learned professor of Constitutional Law who casts some doubts on the anti-Kelo hysteria.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

More Kelo Round Up

There's a substantial round-up of Kelo reaction at Michelle Malkin's blog.

This is my favorite:

DC Mayor To Bulldoze Ruth Bader Ginsberg's House For Homeless Shelter

ABC 'Home Makeover' team commissioned to evict Justice

Washington-In an immediate municipal action based upon the just-released ruling by the United States Supreme Court, DC Mayor Anthony Williams has announced that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg "needs to start packing" as the city's plans for a suburban homeless shelter have finally been vetted.

Today's View From Delaware

Bridge Over The Brandywine. May 2005. Posted by Hello

Write Your Senator

Below is my letter to my Senator, Joe Biden, regarding Kelo. I advise you to write one, too.

Dear Senator Biden,

I am not one normally to write letters to my politicians, but the
Kelo decision handed down by the Supreme Court today has spurred me to do so. I have recently lived in a number of cities in this country whose confiscatory practices, whether through takings, taxes, or penalties, have caused me to leave those cities without remorse. Having recently moved to Wilmington, DE, I find that this city, in terms of its wanton tax increases and penalties is no different than anywhere else.

Now Kelo.

When are our elected representatives going to stand up and call for an end to the confiscation of property from private citizens for simple purpose of generating more revenues for the state or federal treasuries? The taking of one's home for so-called just compensation (who are we really kidding here) in order to hand the property to just another soulless Walmart, Home Depot, or [name your shopping or residential complex here] cannot be tolerated.

I ask that you take the initiative on this, and call for legislation that strengthens home- and property owners' rights in the face of government confiscation. There is no right more fundamental to this country than the right to property, particularly real property. If you are serious about a run for president, here is your issue. Have the guts to stand up to this outrageous encroachment of government power. And let your stand not be symbolic, but be substantive. This is an issue of incredible importance to every citizen who has or one day dreams of owning that piece of land to call their own.

Don't fail us on this one.

Takings Decision

Things didn't turn out the way I had hoped.

A round up of opinion.

More here.

An explanation. More analysis. The opinions. Who to blame (Surprised? Didn't think so.).

Scary thoughts.

If politicians have the right to take your private property and give it to somebody else just because the other guy claims that he can generate more taxes from it, then property rights have ceased to exist in the US.

If Vodkapundit had lived in either Baltimore, Chicago or Wilmington as I have, he would have seen this coming.

Let's take something as innocuous as parking tickets for example. In Baltimore, the city would occasionally but up "No Parking" signs on a street just about the time people would be leaving for work. If you happened to live within walking distance and commuted by foot, it was unlikely that you would notice the sign. Boom. $30 parking ticket. In Chicago, street cleanings were announced at random. If you happened to be on vacation or out of town on business for a couple of days (because you never had more than 2 days notice)...Boom. $50 parking ticket. Now in boring, not-happening Wilmington, DE, I live on a street that is cleaned TWICE A WEEK. In Chicago, living within a half block of Wrigley Field my street might be cleaned at maximum twice a month. Here, they get sweep the left side EVERY Thursday, and the right side EVERY Tuesday. There is nothing in my neighborhood like, say, a 38,000 person baseball stadium, that would make one think I would need my street cleaned twice a week. But forget to move your car EVERY Tuesday and Thursday...Boom. $35 parking ticket.

Utterly ridiculous. But simply part of feeding the government beast. I would love to get my hands on a summary of the money these cities make by penalizing their citizens for living within the city limits through these guerilla revenue raising tactics. No wonder living downtown sucks in so many cities. Who wants a to live in a place where you could be paying $70 a week in fines just because you forgot what day of the week it is? Add to that the incessant property tax hikes and transfer of wealth from the homeowners who work hard and pay taxes into the treasury, to the laggards hanging out in the square and walking the streets all day, every day, seemingly uninterested in finding work.

The government beast must be fed. Any tax shortfall, of course, must be recouped by penalizing honest citizens for petty offences.

Now, your very house can be confiscated for a pittance simply to add more dollars to the local treasury. Surprising decision? Not really. Just par for the course.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Inside Looking Out

This is kinda what studying for the bar exam feels like. Posted by Hello

Oldy, But Goody

Here's one from the archives. I took this picture in an alley in downtown Chicago during January of this year. I had been trying for a while to find a good way to take a picture of some of the fire escapes that course down the sides of some of the older buildings, particularly those close to Michigan Ave. Luckily I caught this perspective of one of Chicago's old skyscrapers as I was taking a walk not far from Millenium Park.

Back to the present, I spent six hours today taking a mock bar exam. The next two days promise twelve combined in-class hours of reviewing the answers to today's six hours of testing. I scored alright considering I haven't really gotten down to studying yet. Approximately one more month and I reclaim my life.Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Today's View From Delaware

I haven't had many opportunities to take pictures lately, courtesy of the bar exam. In the meantime, here is a picture I took in Wilmington a month ago.

Canal Along the Brandywine. May, 2005. Posted by Hello

Monday, June 20, 2005

On The Radio: Monday Night

Tonight's AC/DC offering heard on the way to class: "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)." 94.1 FM, 5:40PM.

Love You, Hate You

Every time I start really feeling like I miss Chicago, I am reminded of a reason why I was ready to leave.

In Chicago, parking meters don't just expire. They can suddenly appear out of nowhere, like people who have been dead for years showing up at the polls on Election Day.

That's the only reason--illogical and unfair as it is--that Chicago police would have slapped drivers with parking tickets for failing to feed meters when there were no meters to be fed when the cars were parked.

Motorists who parked downtown on a stretch of Illinois Street last week fell unsuspectingly into a parking-ticket trap. It is a trick Getting Around had not seen before, but one that we are happy to expose and terminate.

Among the drivers scammed was Chicago attorney Vince Tessitore, who at first felt lucky on Tuesday night to find a legal, meterless space to park his Jeep Cherokee on the north side of Illinois just west of LaSalle Street. But when a friend went to the spot to retrieve Tessitore's car about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, a parking meter had been installed where the day before there was no meter.

And a parking ticket was left on the windshield.The sneaky police officer (Badge No. 30249) who wrote the parking ticket post-dated the citation as having been issued at 12:39 p.m. Thursday--more than 15 hours after the ticket was placed on the car.

"It really angers me," said Tessitore, 33, who called Getting Around. "The city is strict enough in its parking restrictions already. Chicago gets plenty of revenue ticketing people by legal means without having to be deceptive."

It's not like they just made a mistake on one ticket. It was intentional. I am kind of surprised by the stupidity of it."

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Tough Cookies

An armed robber brandishing a revolver and some tough talk entered Blalock's Beauty College demanding money Tuesday afternoon.

He left crying, bleeding and under arrest, after Dianne Mitchell, her students and employees attacked the suspect, beating him into submission.

Mitchell tripped the robber as he tried to leave and cried aloud "get that sucker" as the group of about 20, nearly all women, some wielding curling irons, bludgeoned him until police arrived.

(via Instapundit)

From the Desk of Sen. Durbin

Iowahawk, a parody site, has some hilarious letters "written" by Senator Dick Durbin of the Administration is as bad as the Nazis/Soviets/Khmer Rouge fame.

Dear Sir or Madam:

In the dark annals of human evil, history has recorded the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocides, and Stalin's mass starvation program. And now, United Airlines flight 671 from Reagan International to Chicago O'Hare on June 3rd, 2005. I know, because I am a survivor of that dark exemplar of man's cruelty to man.

Read the whole thing...especially if you ever sat in a plane for three hours on the O'Hare tarmac as I have. Gives some perspective on how absurd Durbin's remarks on the Senate floor were.


Lazy summer days. Guess this is what it's like when you don't have to study for the bar exam. Posted by Hello

Friday, June 17, 2005

Classic Rock

One big difference between Chicago and Wilmington, attributable to the close proximity to Philadelphia, is the choice in radio stations. Here, between 93.3 and 94.7 FM, there are four rock stations. Each plays some mix of new and classic rock, but lean heavily towards the classics. In Chicago, there were a couple stations devoted mainly to new stuff, or early 90's to today formats. Here, there's an extreme bias towards classic (aka redneck) rock.

This phenomenon reminds me of the brief period time in the late 90's when I lived in Panama City, FL. PC is derided (correctly) by many as the Redneck Riviera. Keeping with the theme, the local rock stations played nothing but Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, and Metallica. Even when the jocks were just talking, usually the dark rhythms of one of these bands could be heard in the background. The only reason I kept listening was for the occasional Guns 'n' Roses song, which I still consider to be a treat. Otherwise, those stations were unlistenable. How many times would I have to hear "Enter Sandman," "Love In An Elevator," or "Stairway to Heaven" before I tossed myself into the surf as shark bait?

Well, here we are again. This is no joke: I drive 15 minutes two and from bar review class each night and make use of the stations between 93.3 and 94.7., I will hear an AC/DC song during that half hour in the car. It seems like every...single...night. "Big Gun," "For Those About to Rock," "Hells Bells" (a clear favorite), "TNT," "High Voltage"...

Then again, this explains why when I try to access the official website of the City of Philadelphia, I keep getting sent to this page.

I Can't Win

My former Senator regarding the Time magazine article on Gitmo:

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime-- Pol Pot or others-- that had no concern for human beings," Durbin said.

Refutation here.

And this my current Senator. Sigh.

Thank You, Capitalism

For as evil as capitalism is made out to be, it sure has been good to us. The rich, of course, get richer. And the poor get...richer, too!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Today's View From Delaware

I haven't posted a picture of Wilmington in a while. Plus I need to spare you the razor picture. I don't want to scare all of my readers away, after all! (I sincerely apologize for any gastrointestinal discomfort it may have caused...[gag])

This photo was taken under the Washington Street bridge about a month ago.Posted by Hello

Where's The Barf Bag?

Through the powers of the internet, I am able to bring you...the Sasquatch Razor. This photo really doesn't do it justice. Sick. (Click on the photo for a bigger view.) Posted by Hello

Sasquatch's Razor

I came home a couple days ago and my wife told me she had something to show me. She took me upstairs to the master bathroom and pulled out a box of ladies' razors she had just purchased. She said she had just opened the box. It had been sealed and not tampered with.

Inside the box were three new razor blades. The first two were shiny and clean. On this particular brand, an oval-shaped bar of soap surrounds the razor head. So far, so good.

The third razor in this pack of three, however, was simply vomit inducing. First, the soap bar was missing. Second, the blades of the razor were slightly rusted. And finally, I kid you not, the entire head of the razor was covered in long pieces of somebody's hair! [gag]

I'm no products liability lawyer, but I am sure that if people can sue over McNuggets shaped like chicken heads, mice in Coke bottles, and fingers in chili, there has to be some course of action to be taken regarding a "new" razor in an un-tampered package being covered in rust and tufts of somebody else's hair. Appropos to the title of this post, there was enough hair on this thing that it looked like Big Foot's very own. [gag]

Not generally being the litigious type, we'll probably send it back to the manufacturer for an explanation and some free stuff. But...sick! I'll have to look for a local hack's ads:

"Have you been sickened by the discovery of a hair covered razor blade in your latest box of X-brand razors? Are you unable to sleep at night and suffer nightmares about massive hairballs appearing in everything from your toothbrush to your Wheaties? If so, call the law offices of Scheister & Ripov. If you have an injury, you need a lawyer!"

Honeymoon, Pt. 5

Robert Mondavi Courtyard, Napa, CA. June 4, 2005. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Light Posting

Sorry about the light (mostly lame) posting lately. The bar exam is depriving me of any extra time I might have had before. I'll keep it up, but don't surprised if for the time being there is not too much substantive. My camera will do most of the talking.

Honeymoon, Pt. 4

Pacific Coast, June 5, 2005. Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 12, 2005

BBQ After the Execution?

Amnesty International had better keep a close eye on this one. This could set a precedent for the first barbecueing of an inmate after his execution on murder charges. I think the electric chair and a nice Chicago Steakhouse marinade will yield the best results.

Punched Out

If it's any consolation to Iron Mike, unheralded contender Mike C never could beat him in "Punch Out!" I had enough trouble with Soda Popinksi.

Honeymoon, Pt. 3

Vineyards on the property of J. Phelps Winery. June 4, 2005. Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Curse Envy

The Red Sox play the Cubs this week at Wrigley Field (wish I was still in the old neighborhood!). Sox Nation and Cubs Nation used to argue over who was more cursed. Billy Goats, Bambinos, Buckners and Bartmans. The story lines made these teams two of the most rabidly followed in the game. Prior to last year, the Sox hadn't won a World Series since they beat the Cubs in 1918. The Cubs are still waiting for their first championship since 1908, the longest drought in baseball rapidly approaching 100 years.

Today's New York Times has one of the best quotes I've read on how Cubs fans view Sox fans now that one's curse is reversed while the other's remains in full effect:

"Watching the Red Sox win was a very weird experience," said Jim Belushi, an actor and a lifelong Cubs fan. "It was like having a neighbor win the lottery. At first you're really happy for them because it couldn't happen to a better guy. And then you realize that he'll move into a bigger house in another neighborhood and you never had anything in common with him in the first place and he was really a big jerk. I mean, the Red Sox' celebrity mascot is Ben Affleck. Doesn't that tell you enough?"

In summary, Go Cubs!

Honeymoon, Pt. 2

The Golden Gate Bridge. June 3, 2005. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Honeymoon News

The new wife and I enjoyed an excellent honeymoon in Napa over this last weekend. In the coming weeks, I may try (time permitting) to write up some of the wineries we attended. For now, wish I was still there. I guess we have plenty of wine on hand to help us revive the memories... Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Bar review has started and I am still working full time. I also just married the best girl in the world over the weekend. You can excuse me for being late acknowledging Memorial Day.

I took this picture at the WWII Memorial in Washington DC in April. Each star, if I remember correctly, represents 10,000 KIA during the war against the Axis in Europe and the Pacific in the early to mid-1940's. It's not too late to take a moment to remember those whose sacrifice gave you the freedoms you enjoy today. Posted by Hello