Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I had an eventful ride to school today. Animals and I, we didn't really get along.

First, a little black squirrel decided just as I was coming up that it was a great time to cross the sidewalk. Then, halfway through, he decided it was a great ideat to just stand still. In the middle of the sidewalk. Under my oncoming wheel. I almost made that squirrel into roadkill! Only my lightning fast reflexes saved us both. Squirrel, you owe me one, dude.

Then, I met a bug that was clearly depressed and not in a good mental place. I know this because he used me to commit suicide. By flying directly and unhesitatingly into my left eye. Yep, bug in the eye. Eeep, I shudder just thinking about it. I had to stop right then, pull out a mirror, and dig it out with my not so clean fingers. Needless to say, the bug did not survive. Sorry buddy. There was nothing I could do for you.

I wonder if I should look at these as good omens or bad ones. In approximately 6 hours I'll be delivering my moot court oral argument. Either we'll do better than my wildest expectations and advance, or, who knows, I'll have a heart attack at the podium or something. It was an interesting start to the day, to say the least.

Monday, March 30, 2009

By popular demand?

Totally not substantive, but what do you expect, it's after midnight and I have class in 9 hours. Whatever, this may be my favorite xkcd yet.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In case you're curious...

...why I haven't been blogging more: that thing I said before about the dead computer? Yeah, I wasn't kidding. On Saturday morning, two days before moot court briefs were due, I experienced, for the first time, the Blue Screen of Death. I spent the next two days in front of the public computers in the libs, which, let me tell you, is not an ideal way to write. (I wanted to take that 2nd floor door off its goddamn hinges.) The Doctor is coming on Saturday to take a look at it, and hopefully by that night we'll be up and running again.

But! Let's be glass-half-full here. The brief is done! Since I know you're so interested in Fourth Amendment questions, here's a taste.


May a county government, in order to protect the public trust and the integrity of its welfare program from the pervasive threat of fraud, condition the receipt of public welfare aid upon an applicant’s compliance with an interview program and residential visit designed to verify her eligibility for aid, consistent with the Fourth Amendment?


Project 100%, San Diego County’s considered response to a congressional mandate to protect the integrity of its welfare program, is reasonable, effective, and constitutional under the Fourth Amendment.

Under settled Supreme Court precedent in Wyman v. James, a home visit undertaken as part of a welfare program is not a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. San Diego County’s eligibility visits under Project 100% share the material elements of Wyman, compelling the conclusion that the eligibility visit is not a search. First, the visits are part of a rehabilitative welfare program with the purpose of distributing public assistance benefits to eligible individuals, and the public has a corresponding interest in ensuring that its funds support their intended beneficiaries. The Project 100% eligibility visit is not a criminal investigation, and the warrant requirement poses serious administrative difficulties in the non-criminal welfare context. Finally, the Project 100% visits and the Wyman visits share relevant procedural safeguards that protect applicants against excessive intrusions on their privacy. Although the Wyman opinion seems unorthodox, it fits neatly within the Supreme Court’s prior and subsequent Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, and there is no reason to justify overruling settled precedent.

Even if Wyman’s first holding is inapposite to this case and the Project 100% eligibility visit is a search, it is a reasonable search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Controlling precedents, recently affirmed by this Court, indicate that reasonableness of non-criminal searches may be evaluated by either the special needs analysis or the totality of the circumstances analysis. Under either approach, Project 100% is constitutional.

The Project 100% eligibility visit fulfills the threshold requirements of the special needs framework because the County’s non-criminal purpose of protecting the integrity of its welfare program from fraud is a valid special need unrelated to criminal law enforcement, and the warrant and individualized suspicion requirements are impracticable and ineffective in the welfare context. The County provides ample notice to the applicant that eligibility visits are required, and only conducts the visit with the applicant’s express and continuing consent. The scope of the visit is also limited: its focus is entirely on substantiating particular facts that are dispositive for eligibility and typically takes no more than 20 minutes to complete. The visit is therefore but a minimal intrusion on the applicant’s legitimate expectation of privacy, and it is substantially outweighed by the government’s need to provide for the integrity of its welfare program, prevent fraud, and ensure the proper distribution of public funds.

Alternatively, the Project 100% eligibility visits are reasonable under the Court’s general totality of the circumstances framework. Wyman controls here as well, and its traditional balancing of interests, which predated the Court’s explicit development of the special needs analysis, fits squarely within the Court’s subsequent Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. For the same reasons applied to Wyman’s first holding—the non-criminal nature of the visit, the procedural safeguards to protect applicants’ privacy interests, and the County’s valid and weighty interest in protecting its welfare program against fraud—the totality of the circumstances indicate that the Project 100% eligibility visit is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

Even if the Court goes against the great weight of its precedent to find that the Project 100% eligibility visit is an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment, San Diego County should still prevail because the applicants have given voluntary and valid consent to the visit. No coercion or threat of force is present; the applicant is free to terminate the visit at any time, and may forego the visit entirely by refraining from applying for government aid. And because condition of receiving public assistance is reasonably related to the benefit, the overcited doctrine of unconstitutional conditions does not apply in this case.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Of course.

Of course my computer would die, suddenly and without warning, 50 hours before my moot court brief is due. Of course.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Oldie but goodie

I just disturbed everyone in a 10-seat radius in the library reading room. HILARIOUS. But not for the faint of heart, or those in studious and quiet environments. Thanks to Paul-Jon for the laugh and the resulting embarrassment and shame.


Bloodninja: Wanna cyber?
MommyMelissa: Sure, you into vegetables?
Bloodninja: What like gardening an s**t?
MommyMelissa: Yeah, something like that.
Bloodninja: Nuthin turns me on more, check this out
Bloodninja: You bend over to harvest your radishes.
MommyMelissa: is that it?
Bloodninja: You water your tomato patch.
Bloodninja: Are you ready for my fresh produce?
MommyMelissa: I was thinking of like, sexual acts INVOLVING vegetables... Can you make it a little more sexy for me?
Bloodninja: I touch you on your lettuce, you massage my spinach... Sexily.
Bloodninja: I ride your buttocks, like they were amber waves of grains.
MommyMelissa: Grain doesn't really turn me on... I was thinking more along the lines of carrots and zucchinis.
Bloodninja: my zucchinis carresses your carrots.
Bloodninja: Damn baby your right, this s**t is HOT.
MommyMelissa: ...
Bloodninja: My turnips listen for the soft cry of your love. My insides turn to celery as I unleash my warm and sticky cauliflower of love.
MommyMelissa: What the f**k is this madlibs? I'm outta here.
Bloodninja: Yah, well I already unleashed my cauliflower, all over your olives, and up in your eyes. Now you can't see. B**ch.
MommyMelissa: whatever.

The Comment of the Day Award

VC [jukeboxgrad] takes it again.
"Honestly, don't you react inside when you see the four black teens with the hanging pants at the mall pimp walking …"

No. However, I am inclined to think I might be looking at a gang of sociopathic thieves when I see an SUV full of investment bankers on their way to the golf course.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The week in CrossFit

I promised you updates, and updates you shall have. Possibly against your will.

The past three days were "on," which means workouts of the day were posted here. Since Sunday I have run 1200 hard meters, swung a 25lb dumbbell 63 times, deadlifted 85lbs 7 times (that was fun, actually), and done 125 squats, 100 sit-ups, 90 push-ups, and 86 assisted pull-ups. My legs have been sore pretty much straight through. My arms periodically turned into noodly appendages. My knees creaked a little, but my back held up fine. I am ready, ready, ready for rest day.

Fuck you, Rush.

Rush Limbaugh is a hack. He's the worst of the Republican Party. His hypocrisy is stunning. He's a sing-and-dance entertainer masquerading as some sort of political leader. And for reasons beyond my understanding, instead of running screaming in the other direction, the right has brought him into its warm embrace.

Rush Limbaugh is a douche. There, I said it. I wish more people on the right would say it, too. But I'm not going to apologize.

UPDATE: Ross Douthat has a more eloquent, balanced, and thorough critique. I know it's long, but it's a good read, and worth clicking through for the rest.

Just imagine, for a moment, how conservatives would react if four months after the worst defeat liberalism had suffered in a generation, an Olbermann (or a Moyers or a Michael Moore or a Bill Maher or whomever) showed up to deliver the keynote address at a liberal equivalent of CPAC, and during the course of his speech he blasted every Democrat who disagrees with him as a miserable sell-out, suggested that conservatives are fascists and conservatism a psychosis, lectured the crowd on the irrelevance of policy ideas to liberalism's political prospects, and insisted that the only blueprint liberals need to win elections is the one that Lyndon Johnson used to rout Barry Goldwater. And then further imagine that both before and after this speech, a series of left-of-center politicians ventured criticisms of Olbermann, only to beat a hasty and apologetic retreat as soon as he turned his fire on them. Conservatives would be chortling - and rightly so! Not because liberalism needs to purge or marginalize its Keith Olbermanns, or because impassioned liberal entertainers don't have a place in left-of-center discourse - but because when your political persuasion faces a leadership vacuum, you don't want to have it filled by someone who appeals to an impassioned but narrow range of voters, and whose central incentive is to maximize his own ratings.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Policy Prescriptions by Flight of the Conchords

Any thoughts on the president’s new stimulus package? What do you recommend for the U.S. economy?
Jemaine: Budgeting. Bret: Yeah, the government should do a budget.

I believe we already have a budget.
Jemaine: It doesn’t seem like it. Bret: They need to put aside a certain amount each week for rent and then some money for food and then some money for partying, having a good time. Jemaine: Put aside some for invasions!