Watch Me Take The Bar
Watch Me Take The Bar
This blog, originally started as a chronicle of my taking the bar, is now a look into the mind of an attorney in solo practice in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Friday, April 28, 2006

A Day In The Life of the Sneaker of the House

It was a long and tiring day for Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Speaker of the House of Representatives.

First, recognizing, as we all do, the crunch gas prices are putting into the American wallet, he went to a gas station and gave a press conference on the issue.

The Speaker discussed ways we can save money on gas, such as using fuel cell vehicles. Then, environmentalist that he is, he got into a fuel cell vehicle. (OK, according to Wonkette, a press aide had to gently prod him along.)

Nonetheless, let's give him credit for practicing what he preaches. Here's Denny, leaving the press conference.

It is good to see the Speaker got into a fuel cell vehicle. They can run over spotted owls just as well as the other car. And they are apparently very good for...

...transporting you a block away to a sidestreet where an SUV sits guzzling to take you another block to your office.

Republicans. If God didn't give 'em to me, I'd have to make 'em up.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Back in Ohio

I'm back.

My return home was something of an adventure. It began with my grandmother getting the flu, leaving my grandfather (who does not frequently drive with or without my grandmother) taking me to the airport. I could spend three paragraphs describing it, but in the interests of time, I'll just share this little conversation with you that occurred as we got on the road:

GRANDPA: Do you know how to get to the airport?
GRANDPA: OK. I think I know how to get there.

You get the general drift.

My adventure continued as my flight was delayed in two places, first in Sarasota (was rather grateful for that, actually); and then in Atlanta. Atlanta heralds the coming of a new C Concourse. This must be something everyone agrees they need, because there are big signs up all over C Concourse reading, "The New C Concourse: Cleaner. More Comfortable. But Your Flight Will Still Be Delayed, So You'll Still Pay Exorbinant Prices To Eat Stuff That Isn't Airline Food. Coming in 2006." Well, the exorbinant prices have come but I can tell you that the rest of the C concourse is not cleaner or more comfortable. (Although, I will tell you that the Atlanta Bread Company makes an AWESOME Italian vegeterian sandwich. That place could almost compete with Panera.)

I landed in Cleveland around 12:30 last night. It was really cool walking through Cleveland Airport when there was almost no one there. In fact, from baggage claim to the ticket taker at the parking garage, I never saw another human being. It was quite an experience, being in areas that was built for thousands of people to pass through, and I was the only one passing through.

(Having Frank Sinatra and Bono doing a duet of "I've Got You Under My Skin" helped the mood.)


I have finished William Shirer's 1,147 page masterpiece The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I feel compelled to point this out because completing it is a major achievement. It's, obviously, long, somewhat deep, and took me years to be able to get into and about a month or a month and a half to read. (I don't remember the last time I was NOT reading this book.)

What I found most amazing was how so many megalomaniacs could be running a country at one time. And not just one country -- you had Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy (not to mention Hitler stooges like Seyss-Inquart and Quisling.) But Goerring, Himmler, Goebbels -- all these infamous people who were clearly birds of a feather to Hitler's mental illness.

What is it? Is it that like attracts like? Is it that Hitler was just a recruiting genius? Were they all just self-serving that no one ever stopped to say they were wrong?


If you're looking for some good political writing, check out Dear John: We Won't Take You Back by Ellen Goodman. She suggests, basically, "Stop Him Before He Kills (the Democrats' Chances Again.) Two great quotes:

On 2004, and how Democrats voted for Kerry in the primary because they thought he could win (not all of us did!): "Democrats are cute when they get pragmatic, but not necessarily successful."

And: "In the end, a majority of voters thought we were on the wrong track and voted for the conductor anyway."


Saturday, April 22, 2006

My Grandmother, Catholic Theologian Extraordinaire

Michael and his grandmother are having a discussion of why Michael does not consider himself a Catholic. Among these reasons are the Catholic church's organized obstruction of justice (ahEM, Cardinal Mahoney) and its refusal to talk about condoms to people in Africa who desperately need them.


MICHAEL: And I'm not big on this whole praying to saints. I believe in a direct line.

MY GRANDMA: Well, so do I. But didn't you ever go through your mother to get something from your dad?

MICHAEL: OK, that's kind of hard to argue with...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Greetings from Heaven

Howdy, from Sarasota, Florida. It's been a degree warmer than perfect for the past two days since I've been here. I've been sitting by the pool and reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. For those of you not familiar with this little volume, it's 1147 pages long. A fellow by the pool remarked yesterday he read it thirty years ago. I replied it felt like I started reading it thirty years ago. (Actually, it was only six...)


Just before leaving yesterday morning, I announced I will not seek reelection as Chairman of the Ottawa County Democratic Central Committee. While I am a committed Democrat, the time has come to do some other things.

Perhaps I can start by teaching spelling to our local news reporters. Here's the story that ran on my departure; please rest assured that my statement had the correct spelling of principle.


Also yesterday, I was "Blawg of the Day" on . Thanks for the promo, Tom!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Solo Practice (Tax Implications Of)

I believe I knew this -- probably even learned it in Fed Tax -- but it had slipped my mind until recently.

The US government does not like having to wait for its money.

Hence, the reason why those of you who get steady paychecks (lucky stiffs) and have to report to work at a prescribed time every day (hehehehe I'm ahead of you there) have taxes withheld from your paycheck.

I, on the other hand, write my own paychecks, couldn't calculate withholding to save my life, and hence do not have that deducted from my paycheck.

Instead, the federal government can wait until April 15 every year to get a chunk of change from me, right?


They're impatient little SOBs. So, they take a look at your tax return for last year, call whatever you're paying for last year what you'll pay for this year, divide it into four, and say, "Send us four payments!"


On the fifteenth of the first month after the quarter ends.

Which means that today, I get to send in 125% of my income tax bill. Woo-hoo!

The thing I really object to? My income is likely to steadily increase over the years. (Rubs worry beads....prays...) So, my tax bill next year will be larger than this year. Meaning that what I will send them this year won't really be enough to take care of next year's (although it will, one hopes, ease the pain somewhat.)

I realize there's not really a better way to do it, but still...if I have a year where I lose money, can I ask the government to send me my refund in four quarterly installments?

Didn't think so.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Focus On What We Call A Family

Bassett here. Happy Easter, first of all. I apologize for the lack of posts lately; I've just had not much to say and figured your disappointment at seeing no new posts would be less than your disappointment at seeing crappy posts.

All right, that out of the way. There's this ugly little end of domestic violence jurisprudence percolating in Ohio that I haven't really blogged on much because every time this issue is raised, most judges see how ridiculous it is. Sadly, that appears to not be the case in Ohio's Second District, which led me to think it was time to write about it. The straw that broke the camel's back, though, was when I discovered that a supposedly pro-family organization is out there campaigning (albeit quietly) to remove protections for people who are abused.

Back in 2004, we here in Ohio passed a defense of marriage amendment to our constitution so that none of those liberal pinko Commie prevert gays could go gettin' hitched like in those crazy places like Massachusetts or California. (Some people think it was on the ballot to get W reelected, but I'm quite sure Karl Rove got all these things on the ballot because he was really worried about the defense of marriage.)

We call this the defense of marriage amendment because you know that every time another gay couple gets married, one of two things happens: (1) A man, heretofore straight and happily married for 40 years, suddenly announces, "Honey, I'm gonna go marry Freddy because I can!" and skips out of the closet to become a sodomite, or (2) A high school sophomore, who has heretofore been ogling the cheerleaders and looking at "Playboy" suddenly makes the choice to become gay and starts lusting after the quarterback and sneaking glimpses at "Playgirl." (You'e seen it happen so often. Who among us doesn't know a high school sophomore male who has suddenly lost all interest in girls?)

Plus, if we allowed gay marriages, pretty soon, there would be no men and women getting married at all, because it would make people decide to be gay.

Nasty business, that. So glad we all voted to defend marriage.

Well, it appears that defending marriage does not come without a price. (That's in addition to driving away people who are gay, and who often have higher incomes and spending power. Because if there's one thing we in Ohio don't need, it's upwardly mobile professionals with money to spend.)

The statute that makes domestic violence in Ohio a crime (ORC 2919.25) lists a number of persons who are not to be victims of domestic violence. One class listed is a "person living as a spouse," that is, someone who has been cohabitating.

Well, in the course of defending marriage in Ohio, we added this dandy little provision to the Constitution: "This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage."

What that means, according to defense attorneys, is that the "person living as a spouse" provision gives you the same protection of being a spouse, it gives your unmarried-persons relationship a legal status that approximates the effect of marriage, ergo, you can beat up on your live-in all you want. If she wants protection from domestic violence, she'll have to get married. (And frequent readers of this blog can guess my views on how well that works out.)

So, people have gotten Common Pleas court judges to dismiss their indictments for domestic violence so long as the person they were committing violence against wasn't married to them. Some (in fact, I would say the majority of) appellate courts have said balderdash to this proposal, but others have upheld it. Insofar as we have appellate courts conflicting, the matter will most likely go to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Second Appellate District is one of those places in which unmarried persons do not have protection against domestic violence. A decision recently handed down found that the defense of marriage amendment left unmarried persons defenseless.

I won't bore you with the details of the decision (as I said, this will all be decided by the Supreme Court), but I found interesting one of the groups that the court indicated has taken a position on this issue. The "Citizens for Community Values" organization has come down in favor of not extending domestic violence protection to unmarried persons.

I was interested to see who the Citizens for Community Values was, so I visited their website. It appears they don't like pornography or sexually oriented businesses, are against gambling, and, of course, homosexuality is a problem. Surprisingly, they did not list anywhere that I could see that they were making it easier to get domestic violence charges dismissed.

What really interested me was this -- a very small-print comment on the top of the page. "Officially Associated with Focus on the Family as a Family Policy Council in Ohio."

You all know Focus on the Family -- that's Dr. James Dobson's group, which is hugely interested in family issues.

Dr. Dobson has written numerous books on how to raise children. I would expect he's truly interested in their well-being.

Dr. Dobson, do you really think it's a good idea that unmarried persons now have no protection under domestic violence statutes? How about the children of these unmarried persons, who are either victims of or witnesses to violence?

So, I visited Dr. Dobson's website. I typed the word "domestic" into a search engine, and the first thing that popped up was an article entitled "The Truth About Domestic Violence in Marital Versus Cohabitational Relationships."

The first paragraph begins, "Domestic violence is a rampant problem and plage in our nation today." Well, I agree with that. The writer is concerned with a perception that marriage is a dangerous place as a result of the prevalance of domestic violence. In fact, the article says, "
With the use of the term domestic violence, the connotation of spousal abuse or "wife beating" is quick to follow. However, after considering the following you may actually find that “girlfriend beating” is a more appropriate term."

I'm going to dissect those two sentences. Hang with me.

"With the use of the term domestic violence, the connotation of spousal abuse or 'wife beating' is quick to follow." -- Here, the author suggests that there is a definition in place of domestic violence which indicates that it only occurs between married persons.

" However," -- term commonly used to indicate a viewpoint contra to what has just been expressed.

"after considering the following you may actually find that “girlfriend beating” is a more appropriate term." -- and, ergo, that girlfriends can be subject to domestic violence, as well.

The article then goes on to indicate how safe marriage is. Apparently, of all violent crime committed against women by intmate partners, 65% occurs by a "boyfriend or ex-husband," while only 9% is committed by husbands. Ergo, marriage is safe.

(Wait. Didn't they say 65% was boyfriend OR ex-husband. Ex-husband -- term commonly used to denote a person one has been married to in the past. So, apparently, you can't be not married and you can't be divorced, either.)

The author then indicates that those who cohabit are far more likely to find themseles in a violent relationship. Among other reasons, there is a lack of support, and, the question is asked, "Where is a woman to turn when her cohabitational relationship becomes abusive?"

Not, apparently, to the domestic violence law.

Dr. Dobson's organization apparently believes that people who are not married are at the greatest risk of domestic violence. And an organization affiliated with Dr. Dobson's apparently believes that those at the greatest risk should have the least protection.

Focus on the Family should immediately disassociate itself with the Coalition for Community Values -- just as they would not associate with anyone who thinks making life easier for batterers is a good thing.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Michael Meditates on Mediate of the Masters

The next time you have a tough day at the office, I want you to just repeat, over and over, two words: Rocco Mediate.

Now, I've never heard of the fellow before in my life. But, apparently, he came into the final round of the Masters today one shot off the lead. And he was achieving some success -- and being followed earnestly by CBS -- until he hit the twelfth hole.

The twelfth hole is a par three, with a pond in front of the green. Rocco's first shot goes into the pond.

This is an occupational hazard of golf -- it's actually called a water hazard, come to think of it -- so Rocco stepped dutifully into the little circle of chalk so helpfully placed there as the "drop area" for those who have sunk one into the pond. You then hit from there, but add a penalty stroke.

The goal is to hit it onto the green and (one hopes) into the hole, but Rocco, for a second time, managed instead to submerge his ball in the water.

Now already two over par for the hole, Rocco decided to attack. He hit that ball HARD, and it went sailing right over the pond...and the green....and into the bunker.

This brings us to poor Rocco's fourth shot, which would have been counted as his sixth. It appears that Rocco managed to get out of the sand trap -- only to find himself back in the water.
I say "it appears" because CBS decided at that point to cut away from Rocco Mediate's Marathon Par Three out of pity (or an acknowledgment of the fact the guy was now several strokes over par for the match and had moved from might-be to has-been and finally on to definitely-never-will-be.) In fact, other than noticing that Rocco finally escaped Hole Twelve with a ten (!), they never so much as mentioned his name on the broadcast again.

So, the next time your boss comes up with some new innovation to keep you miserable, your copy machine shuts down, or your coworker can't stop blabbing on, just meditate on Mediate.

And Rocco, I don't know what became of you. I don't know if your clubs ended up in the same pond that so many of your golf balls did, but wherever you are now, good buddy, I hope you're surrounded by lots and lots and lots of empty beer bottles.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Greetings From Northwest Ohio, Where We Are Desperate For Summer. Apparently, Very Desperate


It's, like, 47 degrees out today.

This is the last cold day we'll have for some time; tomorrow it hits 58, and then we're into the seventies in the early part of next week.

Now, for those of you out in California, this may sound like some sort of deep freeze, but for those of us who have survived yet another Ohio winter (although admittedly mild; it was usually only in the thirties), this is good news. I am quite excited about the return of warmer weather.

So are some other people, it seems. I was getting hungry and didn't have anything in his condo that sounded like a good lunch, so I decided that, since I had to run downtown to get my mail anyway, I'd stop at the dairy queen for a sandwich (actually, two. I was hungry.)

Now, you've been to a place like this, even if you've never been to Port Clinton. It opens in mid-March and closes around Halloween. It serves ice cream and ice cream based products, and if you really want it, you can get frozen yogurt, although they'll look at you a little funny when they order it. (So will I. It doesn't taste like ice cream and I'm glad that, after being all the rage in the late eighties, it's basically dropped off the map.)

In addition, they serve any number of "real food" entries, ranging from the moderately inoffensive to your system shredded chicken to something called pizza steak, which I have never had the temerity to order (or, for that matter, ask what it was.)

Anyway, I figured I would just pull up, order my shredded chicken sandwich and my barbeque beef sandwich and be off and gone.

Imagine my surprise to find a line at the dairy queen.

This is not a day for queuing, let me assure you. It's cold and it's windy and we're by the lake. Not a pleasant experience.

And here was the thing of it: These people were actually ordering ice cream. Two or three. One woman came up, shivering, wrapped in a shawl an carried two or three off. Another van pulled up as I was leaving, full of people who are apparently so starved for ice cream, they didn't notice it was 47 FREAKING DEGREES OUTSIDE.

Warm weather is coming tomorrow. Not, apparently, a moment too soon.

Friday, April 07, 2006


If you live in or around Toledo, you no doubt have heard that the junction of 475 and US 23 has been closed. If you do not live in Toledo, you will understand this is a major way to get north to Michigan, south into Ohio. In addition, the implications are big on I-475, which is your blogger's preferred method of choice for getting to places like Toledo's predominant mall (Franklin Park -- er, Westfield Shopping Towne), Toledo's predominant restaurant (the Beirut), and Toledo's best grocery store (Bassett's Market. What were you expecting?)

But this situation will only last for six months. (Ack!)

Anyway, our friends at the Ohio Department of Transportation have suggested a detour route. The Blade (one of America's great newspapers, according to The Blade) sent three people out to drive ODOT's route, as well as two other routes. The trip they usually took takes twenty minutes.

Driver A took one route. It took 21 minutes.

Driver B took a second route. It took 20 minutes.

Driver C took ODOT's suggested route. It took 24 minutes.

God bless ODOT, where they never let common sense darken their door.

(Incidentally, I found myself in the heart of the affected area last night and took what looked to be Driver A's route - getting off 75 at Monroe Street by the museum, and then just sticking on Monroe Street. Yes, there were more stoplights, but I got where I was going with a minimum of fuss.)

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Libby: Bush Himself Authorized Leak on Iraq


Monday, April 03, 2006

I Know It's Far Too Cliched To Title This Entry Anything Having To Do With

"the unfriendly skies," but that, apparently, is how we see it.

Complaints about airline service are up, according to a new survey out today. People's luggage is getting lost and flights aren't leaving on time.

Michael's own anecdotal evidence would suggest, as well, that things are getting worse. Northwest is now selling, for $15, extra legroom in coach. ("For that little taste of first class you can't afford?") Please. And some airlines are now making you PAY for airline food. And pay through the nose. (To their credit, the food options I heard on one flight at least sounded decent...although not $7.00 decent, which is what they were asking...)

I found this tidbit interesting and, also, indicative that we are expecting less from our airlines. The "worst" airline for on-time departures, Alaska Air, had a 69% on-time departure rate. The best, which was something like AirWest or some other regional carrier in the west, had an 82% on-time departure rate.

What that means is that, if you fly the absolute best airline for on-time departures, you're still going to have a delayed flight one time out of five.

Now, admittedly, some flights just need to be delayed. When the hydraulics aren't working or you aren't quite sure why the check engine light is on, that would tend to unnerve a person. And there's also the very-reassuring "your pilot needs more training on this aircraft...OK, he's had his ten minutes. Git on board!"

But there are two interesting factors. One of them was mentioned in a TV report on this survey this morning, which is that people have come to expect less and so aren't complaining about some of the really egregious things. What a beautiful, cynical ploy by the airlines: Make us expect less and we'll complain less. (Yes, I realize the survey says complaints are up; but it seems that our standards have gone down.)

Here's the other, which is pointed out in the article linked above. While customer levels have returned to pre-9/11 numbers, there are 200,000 fewer employees out there to serve them.

This is bad. This is also not something we should allow the airlines to get away with. Because if we don't miss those 200,000 people, heavens knows they won't.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

By The Dawn's Early (and Evening) Light

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I don't particularly care for Daylight Saving Time.

Now, by July, I'll be acclamated and glad to have a little more time in the evenings to be outside, although that may be less true this year. You see, the condo where I have moved into has no outside porch for me, although there is a pool. Getting my quotient of being outside will require a little more ingenuity this year.

But, back to DST and why I'm not wild about it. There's something that's just, well, WRONG about taking the darkness out of the evening. I mean, it's supposed to be DARK at night, and LIGHT in the daytime.

This also goes semi hand in hand with my recent pet peeve of me waking up to find it's already light outside.

I truly do not hate the sunshine (although I know it sounds like it from this post), but there is something wonderful about waking up at 6:15 and the sky slowly getting lighter as you wake up. Instead, these days, if you wake up at seven these days, you feel like the sun's been up for hours and you're the last one in bed.

In the end, Daylight Saving Time probably works out okay. It does stay lighter later.

But until I get used to it, I feel entitled to grumble.

(And, btw, there will be NO grumbling when we flip back to Standard Time. For some reason, that never bothers me.)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Move over, to be eviscerated, eHarmony

Google has entered the online dating business!

No longer will the search site be ONLY a place to go to snoop on prospective sweeties, they now have started Google Romance, which, I am sure, will be as much of a hit as anything else they have done.

Make sure you take their tour.

And, you will almost assuredly be confused by SOMETHING and want to report something as offensive. See that you do.

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