Admission by Denial in Chevron v. Donziger

Donziger, the attorney who moved to Ecuador and founded the criminal conspiracy in question almost immediately after graduating HLS, recently had this to say:

“I have never sought to pay any money in exchange for a favorable verdict in the Lago Agrio litigation, nor have I ever encouraged or solicited anyone else to discuss or pursue paying money for a favorable verdict.”

As a matter of English grammar, this obviously advised wording is substantially identical to the following:

“I did not bribe anyone who did not request to be bribed.”


The Zombies [Walking Dead]

Holy shit people, the goddamn world ended. Shut up.

Moreover, zombie apocalypse is not a sandbox for liberal grievances. (Any more than space, Battlestar Galactica.)

Sleepy Hollow

The risible trend toward “police consultant” shows may have reached its peak in Sleepy Hollow (which also includes a black female lead, whether just for attention I’m not sure). But there’s really nothing to dislike about this show, which is metes and bounds beyond its genre competitors.

I admit a single complaint (though not one against enjoyment): Of the Four Horsemen, the white rider, who goes first and indeed carries a bow, is named neither Death nor aught else but instead represents Conquest. Of the Four riders, named alone is Death on the Pale horse, last. The show correctly places the white bowman first, but inexplicably has him Death killing by axe with bow tattooed on hand.

No rider carries an axe: white/bow/conquest; red/sword/war; black/scales/famine; pale (diseased/sickly/green)/ridden by Death/followed by the legions of hell. The white/red distinction is generally considered to distinguish between conquest from without (probably by horse peoples, famed for the composite bow) and unrest from within. “Pale” apparently means something more like “green” or “sickly” in context, and is almost always considered to mean diseased, which in biblical times is to say dead.

Even more bizarrely, Sleepy Hollow apparently introduces a bow-wielding, samurai-dressed, disease-carrying rider in later episodes. I don’t know what to make of this, but the show is still cool.

Retrospective on a Brave New World

So if I am to look back on as amusing a novel as Brave New World (read and enjoyed in high school), and observe a passage such as

“He’s mad,” whispered Bernard, staring with wide open eyes. “They’ll kill him. They’ll …” A great shout suddenly went up from the mob; a wave of movement drove it menacingly towards the Savage. “Ford help him!” said Bernard, and averted his eyes.”


Ford helps those who help themselves.” And with a laugh, actually a laugh of exultation, Helmholtz Watson pushed his way through the crowd.

with the advantage of hindsight and such material knowledge of the world as might be obtained only some time after high school, is it possible not to see a degree of commentary, whether sly (Bernard’s last name is Marx) or unknowing (Huxley apparently was a pacifist and goof besides), on Britain’s position as to Germany?

Great Britain, heir to its own empire, gives us Bernard, classed (I recall) an Alpha but deficient in height possibly as a result of “alcohol in his blood surrogate.” Bernard’s only friend Helmholtz by contrast is an Alpha Plus and rather more sure of himself in this unfamiliar scenario (the Savage is destroying Soma in front of Deltas).

There must be a bit of Nietzsche here too: if God is not dead He nevertheless is Ford and Helmholtz is better prepared to deal with this than is Bernard. Meanwhile Germany steeled itself for a new kind of war.

All of this seems far too prescient an accounting of the decade following publication in 1932 to be coincidence.

Scholarly Abuse of Edmunde Burke

From a review of Edmund Burke in America, by Drew Maciag:

Given his assumptions, Maciag’s book can best be understood as a kind of primer for liberals on the use and abuse of Burke by conservatives. On Maciag’s reading, interpretations of Burke in America always have been about American issues and politics, not the actual, historical Burke and his body of thought. And, in the hands of ideological conservatives, he argues, Burke has been a convenient apologist for everything from a hidebound opposition to “progress” to “cold war hysteria.”

I am continually amused by the outsized role Edmund Burke apparently plays in liberal imaginations of conservative and Republican thought. It seems that his name is mentioned far more often by liberals citing some purported failure of Republicans to live up to true conservative ideals, as expressed by Burke.

I can remember, off the top of my head, no mention of his name by actually relevant Republicans or conservatives more generally, at least in recent history.

There is a cottage industry among liberal legal commentators dedicated to maligning as false–that is, not “Burkean”–conservatives and judicial activists any who would overturn arch-activist Warren Court precedent. And lately, frequently in support of misguided attempts to define judicial activism as failure to defer to the legislature.

A professor of mine once lamented Justice Souter’s resignation from the Court, describing him as the “last of the Burkean conservatives,” or something to that effect. Even were this a reasonable standard of conservatism, it is inapposite to any meaningful understanding of Souter’s jurisprudence–in addition to joining novel activist interpretations of the constitution on issues of first impression, he was happy to do so even when it meant overruling precedent, most notably in Lawrence v. Texas.

Politics and Leverage

Leverage is a fact of life which all successful people employ to maximize their benefits and minimize their costs. To the extent that Republicans leveraging the debt ceiling is surprising (it is, in fact, routine for both parties), it’s only because control of the House provides only so many points of procedural advantage.

In a legal context, an agreement produced by negotiation without the use of leverage is often far more suspect than the opposite. Courts are likely to mistrust the motivations of parties to a contract the terms of which are unreasonably generous under the circumstances. These agreements may be seen not to have been negotiated at “arms-length,” which implies a conflict of interest.

For example, where Party A, who owns corporation X and owns the majority of the shares of corporation Y, effects a merger between X and Y, arranging for Y’s minority shareholders to be compensated significantly below the market value of their shares. If process by which Y’s board of directors approved this transaction does not entail procedural safeguards to ensure that they acted independently of A’s influence, the board may be liable for breach of its fiduciary duty of loyalty.

Tax law, alternatively, is replete with provisions designed to prevent people from disguising e.g., gifts as negotiated transactions in order to reduce tax liability.

Leverage is part of any functioning market.

But moreover, the Democrats in this situation have as much, if not more leverage than the Republicans, which is why Obama feels secure in his “no negotiation” stance.

The reason for this is that Republicans are almost certain to bear the lion’s share of blame if anything really catastrophic happens.

Democrats and Irony

People often use the word irony incorrectly and probably at least as often incorrectly accuse others of doing so.

But this is something new:

“It’s kind of ironic that the same members who chose to shut the government down are now identifying, item by item, the important things the government does,” Mr. Lew said on CNN. “They just need to open the government up.”

The scientific method would be ironic under this definition, I think.