Anything from current events, campaign finance reform, sports (especially baseball), corporate/political/legal ethics, pop culture, confessions of a recovering comic book addict, and probably some overly indulgent discourses about my 3-year old daughter. E-Mail: sardonicviews -at-
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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Localized Blogging Resource

Here in Northeast Ohio, we have the indispensible NEOh blogroll courtesy of George Nemeth displaying an ever growing list of area bloggers. For those looking for blogs elsewhere, Local Feeds is great for finding blogs with RSS feeds and scanning the most recent posts by geographic location(via Dave Copeland). If you have an RSS feed,you should sign-on. The amount of tweaking to the template was minimal.

Not Encouraging

It's hard to believe a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine will ever be in the offing when you see what Palestinian school children learn in geography class.

You can find even more about Palestinian school books through It isn't pretty. Neither is the following inside of every schoolbook.

The (Palestinian) Ministry of Education welcomes the support, which it has received from institutions and organizations all over the world. In particular, it would like to thank UNESCO, Arab countries, and other friends, including the governments of Belgium and Italy, for the professional and financial assistance given to further this project.

Glad to see UNESCO doing its part.

Didn't See That Coming

I'm stunned that the US Supreme Court upheld almost all of the BCRA (Bi-Partisan Campaign Reform Act). It is apparently a monster of an opinion, perhaps the longest ever (including syllabus and dissents) -- 298 pages. The court syllabus alone, is 19 pages.

I actually read the BCRA when it became law because I was actually being paid to do so -- I was still employed and the company where I worked wanted to do a write up on it. It never got written, because we decided to wait and see if the courts would uphold it.

When I read the BCRA, I was sure much of it would be struck down on 1st Amendment grounds -- especially the restrictions on advertising for the last 30 days of a campaign. Apparently, the majority did not consider this a serious issue, according to Professor Rick Hasen

Although today's opinion is significant on the doctrinal questions of soft money and issue advocacy, I want to step back for a minute and look at the big picture, and to me the big picture is the Court's cursory dismissal of First Amendment arguments. I write these words as a supporter of the Court's determination that the soft money and issue advocacy provisions are constitutional. My complaint is that the Court reached the decision too easily.

Consider two prominent examples, that I describe in more detail in the post below. First, the majority dismissed in a single paragraph a concern that the new issue advertisement provision would violate the First Amendment by regulating too much speech not intended to influence the outcome of elections. The three-judge court that had considered the issue before the Supreme Court devoted hundreds of pages to the questions of substantial overbreadth---in my view a close and difficult question.

Second, the majority dismissed in a footnote the vagueness attack on the promote, support, oppose, or attack definition of federal election activity.

I disagree with Professor Hasen as to the constitutionality of the law, but he has some great analysis and a good round-up other opinions on the decision.

One of the things that the BCRA does is it reduces the influence of national parties over candidates -- by restricting the amount of money that can be given or utilized on their behalf. One of the effects, that has already been taking place is the growing prevalence of "527 organizations." I expect this to be one of the primary outlets for the money in elections.

Over at the Volokhs, there is an interesting excerpt from Justice Thomas' dissent, regarding the court differentiating between speech from the media and all other corporate forms. The point being that most media outlets are corporations, yet they are treated differently.

It also leads to this thought. If media organizations and their editorial boards are exempt from the restrictions on talking about a candidate in the weeks and months before an election -- like letting voters know who they are endorsing -- than it is in the interest of organizations and interests to either start their own media corporation or buy an existing one -- with the express goal of having control over the editorial board. Allowing them to endorse/oppose the issues and candidates they want. Yet another potential end-around.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

The Perfect Storm

[Editor's Note: This was also posted on Pitt Sports Blather.]

Really, is there any other way to describe what has happened with the BCS? When Syracuse beat Notre Dame so handily yesterday, I knew the possibility was there for USC to get screwed out of being number 2 in the BCS, despite their win. That would be something of an outrage to some, but it wouldn't be that much worse than what happened to Miami in 2000 when it was edged out of the BCS by Florida State (a team Miami had beaten head-to-head) to play Oklahoma. Both happened because of the drop in their strength of schedule by the end of the season.

But this. This has been amazing. No one thought Oklahoma would lose to Kansas State, especially so badly. Oklahoma was playing for history, and K-State never beats a team that is clearly better than them. That changed everything. Oklahoma was so far ahead in the BCS rankings that even though it lost the Big 12 championship and dropped to #3 in both the coaches and AP polls, it still remained the #1 BCS team.

Then Louisiana St. beat the snot out of Georgia, which moved them up in the computers and with the pollsters.

The results: USC, the #1 team in the coaches and writers polls won't play for the BCS championship. The first time this has happened. This also means, that if USC wins in the Rose Bowl against Michigan, there will be a split championship -- despite the best laid plans of the BCS.

This will not be the end of the BCS, despite my wishes -- and the wishes of many others, and the number of sportswriters wishing for it will be legion -- but it has once again exposed it for a complete fraud and joke. There is no spinning this away. There is no way to "tweak" the system. The system failed.

It's funny. I know a lot of sports pundits have been waiting for it. But, in a way, no one actually wanted to see it, because then it meant actually having a real team screwed over. Not just some construct or hypothetical. I think Jim Rome will be rather ranting filled tomorrow.


(Copyright © 2002-2005 Chas Rich All rights Reserved.);
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