The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Archive for February, 2010

Bayh’s retirement

Posted by brightcoast on February 15, 2010

Link to article here. Apparently our party is worried that this will result in a GOP resurgence, which would be in accordance with the nature of the ebbs and flows that accompany attempts at major change. My concern, however,  is not which party is in power, but rather the cop out that “the system is broken,” or “there is too much partisanship.” Well Bayh, and Governor Palin, how will anything get resolved if all of you idealists and those who really are for the people abandon ship when the going gets tough? How will the up and coming generation be inspired to pursue a career in government if prominent leaders continue to proliferate the system that it’s all about party politics.

It reminds me of a piece I saw about the race in Texas, Bailey was commenting that she wants to change something or other, not unlike Meg Whitman’s ridiculous ad about the Welfare System in California. (Which by the way, I believe misses the point, if you require people on welfare to earn their GED or to get a job, who’s going to watch their children to make this happen? Will you provide them with more funds so that they can pay someone else to raise their children in the name of goals you force upon them? I’m not saying change isn’t welcome, but let’s be realistic)

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Isn’t that how the saying goes?

Posted in Election 2010, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Meteorite Law: Are Tenants Lost in Space?

Posted by demkid on February 5, 2010

Came across this story yesterday about a nice little meteor that decided to crash through the roof of a Virginia medical office and became a meteorite.  It’s hard to imagine the odds of having such a close encounter with a space rock – the number is probably comparable with the age of the materials inside the object itself – perhaps 1 in 4.6 billion (years).  The two doctors, one of whom has run his family practice in the Virginia town for more than 30 years, decided to do the responsible thing and give the object to the Smithsonian Institution.  For a second, it seemed like everything was going to be taken care of almost as fast as the rock came through the ceiling of the doctors’ examination room…happy scientists would have something new to study, and the doctors would donate their $5,000 reward to Haiti relief.  However, as with anything that has the potential to bring in a large sum of money (perhaps $25,000 to $50,000 on the open market), the law became involved:

Gallini, [the doctor], said he notified his property owner, Erol Mutlu, of plans to hand the object over to the Smithsonian, which holds the world’s largest museum collection of meteorites. Gallini says he got Mutlu’s permission. Later in the week, though, Mutlu sent the doctors an e-mail warning that his brother and fellow landlord Deniz Mutlu was going to the Smithsonian to retrieve the rock, Gallini said.

He wouldn’t share the e-mail exchange with The Associated Press, but The Washington Post reported that Erol Mutlu wrote that “it’s evident that ownership is tied to the landowner.”

“The U.S. courts have ruled that a meteorite becomes part of the land where it arrives through ‘natural cause’ and hence the property of the landowner,” the e-mail said.

Natural cause?  Sounds like a theory that would be examined in a 1st-year Property Law class, right after a discussion of Pierson v. Post!  Pierson, the famous case of a man killing and taking away a fox being pursued at the time by another, actually may have some relevance here.  A layperson might quickly agree with the landowner, that the meteorite should belong to the owner of the land upon which it fell.  In fact, this is normally the correct conclusion, not only in the United States, but around the world.  I was curious about this “natural cause” theory, and about the ownership of objects falling from the sky, so I did a quick search and happened upon a nice little articled entitled: “The Law of Ownership and Control of Meteorites”.  The author, Douglas G. Schmitt, examined meteorite ownership law in several countries and concluded that:

Each legal system is unique, but in general terms in most places the landowner of the place of find owns the meteorite.  In some jurisdictions ownership is shared, or entirely, with the meteorite finder.  Recent legislation in many countries has moved toward compulsory delivery to the state, with compensation paid to the finder.

In the United States, courts have held that a find is owned by the landowner.  Apparently, the natural cause theory comes from an Iowa Supreme Court case back in 1892, where the Court held that the meteorite became part of the land where it arrived through natural causes, and was the property of the landowner.  Another ancient case, decided by the Oregon Supreme Court, held that a meteorite was part of the soil on which it fell, and therefore belonged to the soils owner. 

However, the doctors, as tenants in possession who captured a previously unowned resource and arguably converted it into property (remember Pierson?), may in fact have a valid claim to the rock under Virginia law.  I don’t know much about the strength of this argument, but according to the Land Use Prof Blog, various Property professors have been discussing this concept at length since the story came out.  The other potential argument that the doctors could make is that the meteorite is “found” property, but this doesn’t seem to be holding much weight. 

Apparently, the landlords here aren’t making any formal demands, and seem to even be backing away from their initial claim to ownership.  I’m really hoping this will be fought out a bit, if only for the fact that it makes for an interesting Property Law case!  Perhaps a decent law review article will be forthcoming?  Come on, Mutlu Brothers…stake your claim!  I want to be sure I know the rightful owner, the next time something from far, far away comes crashing through my roof!

Posted in Americana, The Law | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

USD’s faculty ranks third

Posted by brightcoast on February 4, 2010

among private schools in CA, and apparently potentially just behind Harvard and Yale. Link to article here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

GOP Full of Uninformed Radicals: Are We Really Surprised?

Posted by demkid on February 2, 2010

This is why it pains me when Democrats can’t get their act together on things.  Why the party would lose any important race or broader national election when the other side is so beholden to radical elements of the electorate is completely beyond me. 

A new poll of more than 2,000 self-identified Republican voters illustrates the incredible paranoia enveloping the party and the intense pressure drawing lawmakers further and further away from political moderation.

Among the findings in the Daily Kos/Research 2000 Poll:

  • Less than one-third (32%) of Republicans don’t believe President Obama should be impeached.  This means the other 68% believe he should be, or aren’t sure.
  • Only 42% of Republicans believe the President is a natural citizen of the United States.
  • 31% of Republicans think Obama is a “Racist who hates White people.”  33% weren’t sure.
  • About a quarter (24%) of Republicans think Obama wants “the terrorists to win,” and 33% weren’t sure.

“This is why it’s becoming impossible for elected Republicans to work with Democrats to improve our country,” said Markos Moulitsas, founder and publisher of Daily Kos. “They are a party beholden to conspiracy theorists who don’t even believe Obama was born in the United States, and already want to impeach him despite a glaring lack of scandal or wrongdoing. They think Obama is racist against white people and the second coming of Lenin. And if any of them stray and decide to do the right thing and try to work in a bipartisan fashion, they suffer primaries and attacks.”

Sure, the poll was done for a leftist website, but the polling organization is reputable.  I wouldn’t mind seeing an independent analysis of the sample, though, as I know a large bulk of the respondants were from the South. 

It’s interesting, though.  The Democratic Party is the “Big Tent” party, and they came to power most recently by supporting a significant group of moderate to conservative candidates.  However, they have a difficult time embracing these new representatives and working with them to demonstrate a strong, cohesive group.  The GOP has had an easy time in the past year attacking liberal leaders like Nancy Pelosi, and now, moderate to conservative Democrats are deciding not to run again, and are even switching parties!  Republicans, on the other hand, seem to have no desire to include moderates in their ranks.  In this political climate, any attempt by a member of the GOP to find common ground and work with the other side is likely a foolish move, as strong conservative opposition will surely rise to attack come election time.  Perhaps the best strategy for President Obama and the Democrats is to work with moderates in their own party, and forget about the GOP.  If Republican moderates don’t want to join in the collaborative process, then so be it.  Their shrinking numbers clearly show how their party is becoming increasingly controlled by the radical fringe.  If only Democrats could figure out how to take the middle ground…a centrist leader in Congress would be a nice start!

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

President Obama and the Democratic Messaging Strategy

Posted by demkid on February 2, 2010

I finally got around to watching the full, over 1-hour, question and answer session between President Obama and the House Republican Caucus members during their recent party retreat in Baltimore.  I found the President’s performance so impressive that I decided to post it here:

Tom Schaller over at fivethirtyeight sums things up pretty well:

Give the Republicans credit: During the past year they have successfully depicted the country’s economic and fiscal ills as not merely Obama’s inheritance but somehow his legacy. After a decade of Republican-sponsored free lunches, coupled with legitimate but insufficient proposals like earmark reform (which account for about 1 percent of federal spending) and tort reform (which would have a similarly small effect reducing overall health care costs), it’s convenient to chastise the president for fiscal irresponsibility. Equally convenient is the memory hole politics conservatives play: Still blaming Jimmy Carter for the economy 32 years after he left Washington, yet insisting that the statute on Bush-blaming be no more than one year even if the reach of fiscal choices made during those eight years is and will be felt long into the Obama era.

What Obama did Saturday is take the fight to his detractors. It was a certifiable bully pulpit moment, and one that could signal a shift in political posture for the White House. Although the president stressed that he has read the GOP’s proposals and taken into consideration their suggested alternatives, the broader message from the Baltimore meeting is the President is ready to fight. He promised to listen, and called for good faith negotiation; he kept his cool and was funny at key moments. But the subtext was clear: “Enough is enough from you guys.”

Yes, Democrats…start fighting, for once!  Give the public clear examples of how Republicans are obstructing bills merely as a way to score political points.  Don’t give people the perception that you’re being anything but open and transparent.  Don’t let things like the public option twist in the wind forever and destroy the overall health care reform effort.  Work with moderates in the party (and in the GOP!) to find solutions to pressing economic problems, and give independent voters a reason to have a little more faith in how the government is run!  If things are looking up in America come November, voters will know who was working for them throughout 2010.  If things aren’t anymore rosy than they are now, at least a proactive approach will combat GOP attacks, and will put doubt in people’s minds as to whether they want to drastically change course and go forward with another Republican Revolution.

Posted in Election 2010, Politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who Dat? It’s Dem NFL Lawyers Comin’ Ta Getcha!

Posted by demkid on February 1, 2010

Since it’s Super Bowl week, I thought this story seemed particularly appropriate.  The New Orleans Saints are making their first ever appearance in the game (they started playing in 1966), and naturally, their fans are going crazy.  Some Saints fans are trying to make a little money off of their team’s new found success, and how can you blame them?  They should take full advantage of something that’s never happened before, and may not happen again for another 44 years!  Unfortunately, the NFL draws the line when it feels like one of their legal trademarks is being infringed upon.  The interesting thing here, though, is that it isn’t exactly clear who owns the traditional Saints cheer, “Who Dat?”

The Colts, perhaps?

“Who Dat” is the shortened version of the chant, “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints” and apparently has been widely marketed in New Orleans since the 1980s.  The two words themselves likely came about in late 19th-century minstrel shows, and two longtime Saints fans (who are brothers) claim to have the only federal trademark, after they produced a song in 1983 with Aaron Neville and several Saints players.  The NFL claims that they’re only trying to exclude uses of Who Dat when it’s used in combination with other Saints trademarks.  That position may seem reasonable, but the perceived overreaching of the NFL to protect two words that many believe are owned by the city and the people of New Orleans, has pulled some elected representatives into the fray:

Two members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation — Republican Sen. David Vitter and Democratic congressman Charlie Melancon — took public umbrage at the NFL. Vitter wrote NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, urging the league to concede that “Who Dat” is in the public domain. Otherwise, Vitter said he will print and sell T-shirts with “WHO DAT say we can’t print Who Dat!” on them. “Please either drop your present ridiculous position or sue me,” Vitter wrote.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said it is “unfortunate that the NFL is exploiting a phrase that has been part of Louisiana’s culture for more than a century. Who Dat Nation deserves better. I am exploring several options to sack the NFL’s greediness, including removing the league’s tax exempt status.”

Even Governor Jindal is getting involved, and has asked the state attorney general to look into a possible lawsuit over the ownership rights of the popular phrase.  I’d love to see Senator Vitter selling t-shirts outside of the Superdome, but with all of the backlash against the NFL on this issue, I don’t think that will happen.  Of course, the easiest way for this controversy to vanish is if the Colts win on Sunday.  However, if the Saints pull off their first Super Bowl victory, you can bet there will be a lot of merchandise being sold with “Who Dat” that will cause the legal wrangling to continue. 

Who am I for in Super Bowl XLIV?  Well, since I’ll be in the Big Easy a mere 6 days after the game to “Laissez les bon temps rouler,” you know I’m going to say, Geaux Saints!! (Can I put that on a t-shirt?)

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »