Thursday, April 13, 2006

Instapundit has posted to Tim Blair's disparagement of Howard Stern. Contrary to Tim Blair's bald assertion, Sirius Satellite Radio had about 600,000 subscribers when Howard announced his move. The tally stands now at 4,000,000. Howard's take:

It's a big universe. But I have proven myself in that universe. And I'm not sure many other people could bring the millions of people to satellite so quickly. When I signed on [in October 2004], Sirius had 600,000 subscribers. Now it has 4 million. Maybe that's the crowning achievement. Compared to terrestrial it's still small, but I think about it and go, ''Well, that's still more than Imus has.'' On satellite I do worry that we're like the Shree Rajneesh, off with our cult. [But it] excites me that it's our world. There's nobody interfering. We can give the fans anything they want. It's liberating.

As to critical complaints relative to the plethora of naked girls, Howard responds: "It's funny, if I never had another naked woman on, I'd be fine with it. Or another guest. I could care less. I believe the rapport between Robin, myself, Fred, Artie, and the characters is really the substance of the show."

Not surprisingly, he's absolutely right. Recently, Howard riffed for over half an hour about his sidekick Artie's vending machine proclivities, even quizzing him on what food item was in, say, E2 [Artie knew, of course!]

I listened to the Stern show when I lived in the D.C. area -- 1988 through 1992 -- but have not heard the show regularly since moving home to Tennessee. I was one of the terrestrial radio types who shelled out, specifically for the Stern show. I haven't regretted it. Most of howard's most vociferous critics have never heard his show. More often than not, I drive to work with a smile on my face. For me, that's well nigh a miracle!

UPDATE: Bear Sterns is bullish on Sirius!

Disney's Mission to Mars [at EPCOT] was quite a ride, although I think the kids enjoy it more. All the adults in my group were somewhat more than vaguely nauseous when it was over. I now thank the stars [pun intended] that nauseous is all we were.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

ATLA is responding to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce smear campaign with a full page ad in USA Today.

UPDATE: Here is the Harris Poll the ad is responding to. ATLA's in-depth response to the poll is as follows:

On Monday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will release an updated “study” that supposedly ranks the best and worst state legal systems in America. But as with past editions, this “study” merely measures how Corporate America perceives the civil justice system, ignoring the views of consumers. The “study” is based on a survey of corporate lawyers from multi-million dollar corporations who spend their days trying to ensure that consumers or employees can’t hold these corporations accountable for wrongdoing and gross negligence. A survey isn’t necessary to tell us that the attorneys working for Merck are not happy with the legal system that holds their company accountable for the deaths and injuries caused by its controversial drug Vioxx. Similarly, any convicted criminal would say that the legal system doesn't work. Nevertheless, the Chamber touts this study as fairly measuring the states’ legal systems. The facts tell a different story.


The Chamber’s “Study” Is Actually a Survey of Corporate Lawyers Working for Multi-Million Dollar Corporations. Instead of attempting to measure the effectiveness of the civil justice systems in each state, the Chamber instead commissioned a poll of corporate lawyers at companies with $100 million or more in annual revenues. These are the very same lawyers who work every day protecting and defending large corporations when they take unfair advantage of consumers and employees.

The Chamber’s Own Pollster Admitted that There is No Way to Measure the Fairness of a State’s Legal System. Humphrey Taylor of Harris Interactive, the polling firm that conducted the survey for the Chamber, admitted that there is no way to measure fairness of the legal system in each state. According to the Copley News Service, “Humphrey Taylor of Harris Interactive said the survey is based on the individual responses of the [corporate] lawyers because there is no hard data that can be used to measure the perceived fairness of a state's legal system.” Copley News Service, 3/8/04. Nevertheless, the Chamber has mischaracterized the “study” as “rank[ing] the best to worst legal systems in America.” “AdWatch,” The Tallahassee Democrat, 3/12/05.

After Ranking West Virginia as Having One of the “Worst” Liability Systems, the Chamber’s CEO and Pollster Were Forced to Admit that Only of a Fraction of Those Surveyed Actually Knew Anything About the State’s Court System. When questioned about the methodology of last year’s “study” that ranked West Virginia as 49th in the list of state legal systems, the Chamber’s CEO, Thomas Donohue, and the pollster that conducted the survey, Humphrey Taylor of Harris Interactive, were forced to admit that only a fraction of the corporate lawyers surveyed actually knew anything about West Virginia’s courts. According to the Charleston Gazette, “Taylor and Donahue [sic] acknowledged not all of the 1,437 lawyers surveyed knew anything about West Virginia's courts. Taylor said ‘around 107’ said they had direct knowledge of the state. ‘You could argue that's a small sample, but what they keep saying is ‘49th, 49th, 49th,’ he said.” “Corporate lawyers rank state's legal climate poor,” The Charleston Gazette, 3/9/05.

Florida Newspaper Criticized Chamber for Mischaracterizing the “Study” in a Television Ad. According to the Tallahassee Democrat [“AdWatch,” The Tallahassee Democrat, 3/12/05], the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform sponsored a television ad in Florida last year that mischaracterized the results of their “study” of state legal systems. The Chamber’s ad included the line, “[a] recent Harris poll ranked the best to worst legal systems in America.” However, the Democrat reported that this claim was “wrong,” noting that the “ad did not mention the Harris poll was conducted among corporate lawyers who have to defend their clients against civil suits.”


A Recent Survey Published by the National Association of Manufacturers Found that American Manufacturing Companies Ranked the “Fear of Litigation” at the Bottom of Their Concerns. The National Association of Manufacturers recently released a survey of manufacturers in the United States showing that the “fear of litigation” ranked at the bottom of their list of concerns:

Please rate the following factors in terms of their negative impact on your company's operations (with 1 representing the greatest negative impact and 10 the least).”

2.9 Cost of non-wage compensation
3.5 Cost of materials used in production
4.0 Inability to raise prices
4.1 Energy prices
5.0 Foreign competition
6.1 Taxes
6.3 Cost of wages
6.4 Shortage of qualified workers
7.4 Regulations/corporate governance rules (Sarbanes-Oxley)
7.8 Fear of litigation

Survey by Business Week Magazine Found that the Threat of Lawsuits is Not a Major Concern of Small Business Owners. According to a recent survey published in Business Week magazine, owners of small and medium-sized businesses are generally not concerned about the threat of lawsuits: “One of the survey's more surprising results revealed that tort reform -- particularly limiting class-action lawsuits -- is not a major priority.” The survey found that the biggest threats to their businesses are: (1) Rising inflation, 44 percent; (2) The trade deficit and a weak dollar, 40 percent; (3) Energy shortages, 40 percent; (4) Excessive household and/or corporate debt, 29 percent; (5) The growing federal deficit, 28 percent; (6) Poorly prepared labor force/Shortage of skilled labor, 27 percent.


Bush Administration Statistics Show that the Number of Federal Tort Trials is Down Nearly 80 Percent Since 1985. Last year, the Bush Justice Department reported that the number of tort (personal injury) cases resolved in U.S. District Courts fell by 79 percent between 1985 and 2003. In 1985, 3,600 tort trials were decided by a judge or jury in U.S. District Courts. By 2003, that number had dropped to less than 800. “Federal Tort Trials and Verdicts, 2002-03”, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 8/17/05

The Number of State Tort Trials is Decreasing. According to the most recent statistics from the Bush administration’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of tort trials at the state level has decreased. These statistics were compiled as part of the Bureau’s survey of state civil justice systems in the nation’s largest 75 counties. Among these counties, the number of tort trials decreased 31.8% between 1992 and 2001. “Civil Trial Cases and Verdicts in Large Counties, 2001”, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 4/04.

“Overwhelming Majority” of Federal Judges Don’t See “Frivolous Lawsuits” as Major Problem. According to survey by the Federal Judicial Center – the research and education agency of the federal court system – most Federal judges do not view “frivolous lawsuits” as a problem: “Frivolous litigation is not a major problem in the federal court system, according to an overwhelming majority of federal judges who participated in a recent survey. The survey, conducted by the Federal Judicial Center, was based on the responses of 278 federal district court judges. Seventy percent of the respondents called groundless litigation either a ‘small problem’ or a ‘very small problem,’ and 15% said it was no problem at all. Only 1% called it a ‘very large problem,’ 2% called it a ‘large problem’ and the rest rated it as a ‘moderate problem’ in their courts. … In addition, 91% of the judges surveyed opposed provisions in the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, which won House approval in the last Congress.”

I'm still reading Sidney Blumenthal's definitive political history of the attacks on the Clinton administration, "The Clinton Wars," and I think his conclusion -- and President Clinton's -- is absolutely correct, as well as applicable here. Lies, damn lies and statistics, all used in the vicious and machiavellian quest for power. Despite a well-documented refutation, the forces that seek to limit -- or eliminate -- the rights of people to legal redress will say anything, and stop at nothing, to achieve their goals. The irony is that the public, through naivete, lethargy or lack of comprehension, is allowing it to happen, piece by piece, bill by bill, and regulation by regulation.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Well, Knoxville hits the big time. All these stories on immigration demonstrations around the country have hit our fair city, too. An excerpt:
Most of those in attendance wore red or white shirts with the words, in Spanish and English, "Where are our Rights? Dignity and Justice for All." Hundreds carried American flags, though there was also a smattering of Mexican flags and at least two Honduran flags among the crowd.

Many brought pay stubs to show they pay taxes.

"All these people they are good people," said Kim Salazar, a California native. "They are hard workers, and they do the jobs American people don't want. Doesn't that deserve some kind of rights?"

One Mexican man, carrying a large American flag, said he had been in the United States six years. He shrugged when asked if he was here legally.

I saw the people congregated around the City-County Building yesterday, but was on the way to court and didn't get a chance to snap my own photos. I am not well educated on the subject, but my take is that productive taxpayers who do jobs others don't want to do ought to be allowed to stay, and be given legalized status. After all, we're all immigrants.

As to security concerns, a lawyer I was walking with said this: "Nineteen people committed the 9/11 attacks. And not one of them was Mexican." Facetious, but true.