Posts tagged ‘AG’

Let's Not Forget Martha Coakley's Crimes

Martha Coakley, former Massachusetts Attorney General, is apparently running for Governor of that state after her failed bid to be Senator.

Walter Olson has a round-up of Coakley's various abuses of power, which start with her shameful hounding of the Amirault family against all reason and facts, apparently for the sole purpose of self-aggrandizement.  Unfortunately, all too frequently AG's are rewarded for prosecutorial abuse in the form of media attention and often election to higher offices (Janet Reno rode witch hunts of day care operators very similar to Coakley's into the White House).

The day care worker witch hunt was one of the more bizarre events to occur in my lifetime.  I even sat on a jury of such a case, the only jury I have ever been on.  You have heard of copycat murders?  This turned out to be a copycat false accusation.  It eventually became clear that the teenage babysitter who made the main accusations really wanted to be on the Oprah show, and saw how other day care and child abuse whistle blowers had been interviewed by Oprah.   I kid you not.   By the time of this case, defense lawyers had become wise to the prosecutors' game of using brainwashing techniques to try to get small children to make bizarre sexual allegations against adults in the case.  So the defense was able to highlight the extremes that a couple of state psychologists had gone through to effectively break one poor 6 year old girl.  It was sickening, and it took us about 15 minutes to acquit.   But this is the type of behavior Ms. Coakley and her staff were engaging in.

Some Potential Good News on Solar

This is terrific, if true.  My fear, of course, is they are getting subsidized through a back door somewhere, but if they really think they can make subsidy-free solar work financially, that's awesome:

Two German solar energy developers are planning to build photovoltaic plants in southern Spain that will earn a return without government subsidies.

Wuerth Solar GmbH & Co. intends to build a 287-megawatt plant in the Murcia area for 277 million euros ($363 million), according to the regional authority. Gehrlicher Solar AG said it plans to develop a 250-megawatt solar park in the Extremadura region for about 250 million euros.

The projects, about three times larger than any European solar plant, may be the first that don’t rely on feed-in tariffs and compete with wholesale power prices. All plants in the region so far depend on fixed premium rates for solar power, which can be several times higher than wholesale prices.

Spain suspended the tariffs on Jan. 27 as part of government austerity measures, threatening the survival of the industry. Tariffs for large-scale solar were set at 121 euros per megawatt-hour. Developers now look to build plants without this support, helped by falling equipment prices.

Asset Forfeiture and the Rule of Law

Thank goodness for the drug war so we can have crappy asset forfeiture laws that allow this:

You're free to go -- but we'll keep your money.

That's the position of Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard on the failed case of Mario de la Fuente Manriquez, a Mexican media millionaire accused of organized crime.

Manriquez was arrested and charged earlier this year with 19 counts of money laundering, assisting a criminal syndicate, conspiracy and fraud. Seven other suspects, including Manriquez's son, were arrested in the alleged scheme to fraudulently own and operate several Valley nightclubs and exotic car dealerships.

Charges against Manriquez's son, Mario de la Fuente Mix, were dropped in August. And on Monday, as we reported, the state moved to drop the case against Manriquez.

But the state still wants to keep $12 million of Manriquez's money that was seized in the case, a spokesman for the AG's office tells New Times today.

The folks involved don't strike me as particularly savory characters, but due process is due process and if you drop charges against the guys, the money should be considered legally clean, especially when the authorities confess

Prosecutors acknowledged the money funneled to the United States from Mexico was earned legitimately by Manriquez. In the end, they couldn't prove he knew what was happening with his dough.

What happened to the money, by the way, is that is was invested in a series of businesses that appear to be entirely legal, their only apparent crime being that the incorporation paperwork omitted the name of Manriquez as a major source of funds.  Wow, money legally earned invested in legal businesses, with the only possible crime a desire for confidentiality (at worst) or a paperwork mistake (at best).  Sure glad our state AG is putting his personal time in on this one.

I do not know Arizona's forfeiture laws, but if they are like most other states', they probably allow state authorities to keep the seized money to use as they please, an awfully large incentive for prosecutorial abuse.

Another BS 1980s Child Molestation Conviction May Be Reversed

For those too young to remember, during the 1980's we endured a hysteria about child molestations, with a number of pretty obviously innocent men dragged to jail on the back of testimony coerced from kids by over-zealous prosecutors.  Janet Reno became particularly famous for the "Miami method" of hounding kids until they started pointing fingers at whomever the prosecutors had their eye on, and rode such fame to the US AG office (see here and here for the disturbing details).

As the kids grow up, a number of these prosecutions are finally falling apart, as in this story.  Of course, as i9s typical in such cases, despite all the witnesses coming forward and admitting they were coerced into making false accusations, the prosecutors are not giving up easily.  via Overlawyered

Scam Alert: Board of Business Compliance

This may not be of much interest to regular readers, but is being posted so future recipients of this letter may find this article when searching in Google. 

I got this in the mail the other day (click to enlarge)
Board_of_business_compliance_scam

It is laid out to mirror the typical format of a state annual report or business license renewal form.  It purports to be from a government-sounding "Board of Business Compliance."  The layout and wording is very similar to the California State required annual report form, as is the $125 fee the letter claims is "now due."  Only in the really fine print near the bottom right does it admit to being a business solicitation. 

Beware.  Despite all their efforts to fool you, filling out this form and filing this $125 fee is not required by any government agency.   I am not sure if you pay money to this group whether you will actually receive any services (I did not pay).  But I will observe that there is absolutely no way that a third party could create a legally meaningful set of minutes for your company based on the information in this form.  Remember, though, that it is important for small corporations to keep their minutes in order -- but I am pretty sure this is not the best way to do it.

Business that must be obtained this way is not worth having, at least in my book. 

Postscript:  One might ask, how can anyone fall for this?  The biggest problem is the government itself.  Doing business in 12 states, 20 counties, and a number of large municipalities, I get literally a hundred "legitimate" forms like this requiring a $50-$150 filing fee from government institutions all the time.  This form, at first, looks more legitimate than say, the application for egg license I get from two states (which are in fact real government requirements). 

PPS:  Don't even get me started on yellow page vendors, directory listing providers, and companies claiming your URL registration is expiring.

UPDATE: Apparently one of the commenters included contact information at the California AG.  The AG's office has written me asking to have comments and concerns about this issue routed to a different address.  I think poor Mr. Wayne was deluged with a bunch of complaints.  Here is what they sent me as their preferred alternative contact information:

 

Complaints may be filed with the California Attorney General's Office by mail, telephone, fax, the Internet, or email:
 
MAILING ADDRESS:
 
Attorney General's Office
California Department of Justice
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

TELEPHONE:   1-800-952-5225 (Toll-free in CA) or (916) 322-3360

 
FAX:   (916) 323-5341

WEBSITE:   http://ag.ca.gov/consumers

 
EMAIL:   piu@doj.ca.gov

Thanks, Trial Lawyers

Because of the all-to-prevalent theory (which may become even more common if Jon Edwards becomes our next AG) that every accident must be the fault of the nearest person with deep pockets, I wasted an hour today.

I visited the NFL experience today with my son.  The NFLX is a kind of football-themed fair or amusement park that the NFL sets up near the site of each Superbowl  (HA HA NFL -- I said it.  I said "Superbowl" and not "the big game."  Come and get me).  After waiting in a reasonable line to enter, we found that to play the games (e.g. throw the football through a hoop) every participant (read 10,000+ people) had to individually fill out and sign a liability waiver and get a wristband attesting to the fact.  There were about 16 clerks at work, but it still was about an hour-long wait. 

It struck me that the NFL could have come up with a much better process.  Why not have people with Internet access (about everyone, since almost 98% seemed to be there with tickets they bought on the internet) print out the waiver and bring it with them already filled out?  The manager on-site claimed that Arizona state law and the Arizona AG required that the process proceed the way it did.  I give that explanation about a 50-50 between being correct and just covering their butt for something stupid.

Anyway, once signed, we had a good time at the event, and it was well worth the effort.

Improving My View of Ralph Nader

For much of my adult life, Ralph Nader was my least favorite living Princeton alum*.  But Eliot Spitzer may be challenging for the title.  Sure, I never really liked Spitzer when he was at Princeton, but I never really liked any of the student government types, as evidenced by the fact that I led a mass-mooning of one governing council meeting (yes, I know, you are shocked that this sophisticated commentator could have been so immature).  Besides, Spitzer was the butt of one of Princeton's great jokes and works of performance art, when he was defeated by the Antarctic Liberation Front.

But since his tenure as AG and now governor of New York, the guy has turned from an irritating joke to a real threat to freedom.  His abuse of the AG job for personal aggrandizement is legend, and, after having been given a free pass by the press in that job, he is finally being cornered for various ethical violations. 

So it is with great satisfaction that I read today that Spitzer was forced to back off his plan to tax out of state Internet sales, abandoning his unique view that an affiliate program created a corporate presence in-state.

Update:  A Spitzer roundup of sorts at Reason.

Great Moments in Torts

This may be my new favorite tort:  (via Overlawyered)

A Pennsylvania man has sued search giant Google
for $5 billion, claiming that when his Social Security number is turned
upside down, "it is a scrambled code that does spell the name Google."
The handwritten complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Scranton
alleges that the U.S. Justice Department "is heading the investigation
into allegations of crimes against Humanity" involving Google's
founders and that the plaintiff's "safety is in jepordy."

Up next, the owner of Social Security number 71077345 sues Shell Oil for the same reason.

Unfortunately, in other tort news, this is not a laughing matter.  It is just plain stupid AG megalomania:

For a while now, lawyers in Minnesota, Oklahoma and elsewhere have been suing companies that make over-the-counter cold remedies containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine on the grounds that they were aware
some buyers were using the drugs as raw material for illegal
methamphetamine labs. Now such litigation appears to be gaining
momentum in Arkansas, where many county governments have signed up to
sue Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and other companies. "If successful,
it could open up litigation against manufacturers of other produce used
in making meth, such as drain cleaners and acetone."

One local judge discusses the case in a way that sounds like a commercial for the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes:

"What more could we have done with a million dollars a year for our
county? Would that have meant a half dozen more police officers? Would
that have meant a better solid waste program? Who knows, what could
your county have done with an extra million dollars," asked Judge Bill
Hicks of Independence County, a backer of the suits.

The Next State AG Boondoggle

Chris Horner reports that the next mass-state-AG-tort, modeled after their fairly succesful efforts against tobacco companies, will be against oil companies over global warming:

A little birdie recently chirped about some
usual-suspect state attorneys general preparing a litigation strategy
document for/with environmental pressure groups, providing a roadmap
for cooperatively replicating the tobacco litigation of a decade ago in
the "global warming" context, substituting that projected catastrophe
for cancer and "big energy" for tobacco companies.

The point of
such exercise would not be to litigate the matter to conclusion "” ever
more challenging what with forced corrections of the temperature
record, recent exposure of the woeful reliability of our own world's
most reliable surface measuring network, and of course no global
warming in a decade (or, we now know, since 1900 for that matter) "” but
to extract massive settlements from the energy industry to further fund
the trial lawyers, greens and the greens' pet projects. Just imagine
the anti-energy campaign that this model would yield! And at no cost,
really, except to anyone who uses energy and/or invests in these sleepy
"granny stocks". Oh, and the economy.

He goes on to include a copy of the memo making the rounds of the AG offices.   This will certainly be a circus, and generally an expensive time-waster that will just serve to line the pockets of tort lawyers and the politically connected.  If things turn out like the tobacco settlement, the oil companies may jump on board early, since the tobacco settlement has turned into a state-enforced oligopoly for the major tobacco companies.  On the bright side, this might be an opportunity to subpoena the details of a bunch of climate work that is currently kept secret.

More Subsidy Insanity

Over a decade ago, the German government adopted the goal of reducing the country's CO2 emissions back to 1990 levels as part of the Kyoto process.  That's why its incredible to me that after spending billions on various goofy and questionable conservation and alternative energy programs, someone has finally thought to maybe stop massively subsidizing coal production.

For decades, German lawmakers have propped up the industry,
unwilling to risk massive layoffs and reluctant to eliminate a reliable
energy source as gas and oil supplies become scarcer.

But after spending more than $200 billion in subsidies since the
1960s, the federal government this year decided that the practice had
become unaffordable. The 2018 sunset for the hard-coal industry was set.

Economists and free-market lawmakers have long decried the subsidies
as handouts to the politically influential coal industry and powerful
trade unions. This year, for instance, Deutsche Steinkohle AG, the
owner of the remaining eight mines, will receive more in government
subsidies ($3.3 billion) than it will from selling coal ($2.9 billion).

With just 32,000 miners left, that's the equivalent of more than $100,000 in annual subsidies per worker.

I don't know what is more incredible -- $100,000 per worker or the fact that subsidies actually are larger than revenue from coal sales.  In effect, the government is subsidizing more than half of coal's production costs.

Sometimes we in the US forget just how insane the economy in Europe can be.  I remember doing a consulting project for the French national railroad, the SNCF.   It turned out the SNCF, for it's 100,000 freight cars had ... 125,000 freight car maintenance workers.  The headcount number was so insane I had to check it three times to make sure it was right.  I commented at the time that they could assign one car repair worker full time to each freight car, and have him ride around with that car full time, and still cut staffing by 20%.

Mississippi Considering Directive 10-289

First, Mississippi regulated flood insurance rates down to a level that it was impossible to make money, so State Farm's property coverage on the coast did not cover flood/storm damage.  Then, after Katrina, Dickie Scruggs and company sued State Farm, and others, forcing them to cover storm damage from Katrina that their policies explicitly did not cover and were not priced to cover.  So, facing a state government that, by fiat, forces their fees lower and their coverage higher, State Farm is trying to exit the property insurance business in Mississippi, and the state legislature is considering legislation to prevent them from leaving.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said Friday he will seek
legislation aimed at blocking State Farm Insurance Cos. from refusing
to write new homeowners and commercial policies in the
hurricane-battered state.

Hood's plan would require any company
that writes automobile insurance in Mississippi and also writes
homeowners policies in other states to offer homeowners and commercial
properties throughout Mississippi....

Hood also said he his urging Gov. Haley Barbour to issue an executive
order that would force the insurer to continue writing new policies
until the Mississippi Legislature can deal with the issue.

Quoting from directive 10-289 (Atlas Shrugged):

Point Two: All industrial, commercial, manufacturing, and business
establishments of any nature whatsoever shall henceforth remain in
operation, and the owners of such establishments shall not quit, nor
leave, nor retire, nor close, sell or transfer their business, under
penalty of the nationalization of their establishment and of any or all
their property.

So I ask you, is the following statement ridiculous  over-the-top regulator-speak from Atlas Shrugged, or was it actually made by a US state AG?

"We're looking at a robber baron in the face that is trying to make an example of Mississippi," Hood said of State Farm.

OK, so lets see:  The state government decides what rates you can charge.  The state government decides what your policy has to cover.  The state government decides if you will be allowed to go out of business.  But State Farm is the robber baron.  LOL.

Hat tip:  Tom Kirkendall

Damned Either Way

"These very simple guidelines,
You can rely upon:
You're gouging on your
prices if
You charge more than the rest.
But it's unfair competition if

You think you can charge less!
"A second point that we would make
To
help avoid confusion...
Don't try to charge the same amount,
That would
be Collusion!
You must compete. But not too much,
For if you do you see,

Then the market would be yours -
And that's Monopoly!

That is from the Incredible Bread Machine by R.W. Grant.  And it seems to sum up the position of gasoline retailers given this story from Denver, where a grocery store chain was successfully sued for $1.4 million because it provided gasoline discounts to customers who bought over $100 of groceries.

Gasoline retailers can't win. One day, they're
accused of "gouging" us at the pump with outrageously high prices; the
next, they're accused of "predatory pricing," which means giving us a
deal so good it's illegal....

The effect of the $1.4 million jury verdict against Dillon Co.
means that two of its grocery chains, King Soopers and City Market,
will no longer give customers gas discounts based on grocery purchases.

Safeway wasn't a defendant but it got the message and likewise
suspended its discount program at 43 of its fuel centers. Discounts
sponsored by other supermarket or big-box chains are also expected to
end.

The lawsuit was based on Colorado's 69-year-old "Unfair
Practices Act," which prohibits selling a product "below cost." The law
is supposed to be enforced by the attorney general's office, but the AG
hasn't brought an action for years because of the near impossibility of
proving that gas sales are below cost when so many grocery products are
also involved.

But the law also permits private civil suits in which winning
plaintiffs are entitled to treble damages. The plaintiffs here were a
couple of independent gasoline dealers in Montrose spurred on by a
trade group representing the state's independent petroleum marketers....

By the way, seldom do you find a newspaper that actually understands economics when writing about an economics topic, but the Rocky Mountain News is dead on here:

The theory behind predatory pricing laws is that a large
company will sell certain products below cost in order to drive out
competitors. Once the competitors are gone, goes the hypothesis, the
big company will jack up prices to a monopoly level.

The only problem is, this never happens. New competitors always
move fast into markets where prices are unjustifiably high.
Predatory-pricing suits are generally filed by existing companies
unable or unwilling to meet competition provided by more efficient
firms. Legal restrictions on cutting prices invariably work against the
consumer.

I pointed to a similar situation a while back in Maryland.  Thanks to Overlawyered for the pointer.

Big Bone Lick

Kentucky, the state that made me get an egg license, is in the news again because it is complaining that it is not getting its fair share of the tobacco settlement funds, and so needs to increase cigarette taxes even more. 

Don't feel guilty if you can't actually remember what the settlement was about other than just more tax money.  The settlement was the result of a series of lawsuits from state AG's against cigarette companies arguing that use of their product is costing the states money in the form of higher medical costs (the health care as Trojan horse for total government control argument I have discussed before).  The substantially increased taxes on cigarettes was supposed to both deter use and to raise money for state health care.

Well, check out this statement form the Kentucky governor as to why he wants to raise the cigarette taxes, and notice what justifications for the taxes are NOT there:

The additional revenue from the tobacco settlement,
according to [governor] Fletcher, would increase the state's debt capacity and
allow for more spending on more projects, such as an information
technology research center and expanding the Big Bone Lick State Park.
He also says the added revenue would allow the state "to ease the tax
burden on small businesses."

I do have to admit that "Big Bone Lick" state park seems the perfect monument to government taxation.

This is a great example of the perverse incentives "sin" taxes put on government.  First put in place to reduce some behavior, once government officials become addicted to the spending the tax allows, the government tends to shift posture to supporting, rather than reducing, the "sin" since its continued existence is required to maintain tax revenues.  This is happening all over with the tobacco settlement, as government has suddenly become the tobacco companies' partner in maintaining revenues and market share.  And here I wrote about a similar occurrence.

Postscript:  By the way, not accounted for by the governor in his "fair share" of settlement funds are the large subsidies that flow to Kentucky tobacco growers.  In surely one of the best examples of how most government programs are all about rent-seeking rather than whatever their stated purpose is, the US is vigorously taxing tobacco, ostensibly to reduce its use, while at the same time aggressively subsidizing the production of tobacco.

More Price Gouging Shenanigans

This holiday season, several gasoline retailers found extortion notes from the state AG in their stockings.  In Illinois:

Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked 18
operators whose prices jumped significantly after Hurricane Katrina to
donate $1,000 to the American Red Cross or risk a potential consumer
fraud lawsuit, reports the Chicago Tribune.

I would define consumer fraud as getting something from a retailer different than was promised.  I am not sure how it is fraud if retailers put their prices on a great big sign right on the street, and then actually charge those prices as promised.  Unfortunately, we seem to have filled positions of political power with the economically ignorant, who are stuck on cost-based pricing:

"When we're in an emergency situation, such as we were,
retailers have the obligation not to increase their prices to the
general public over what wholesalers are charging them," Hagan told the
Associated Press.

Uh, why?  Retailers move their markup around all the time.  Most every retailer has drastically higher markups on December 1 for Christmas tree ornaments than they do on December 27, but no one seems to complain.  Workers increased the price of their labor post-Katrina, sometimes by a factor of three, and their costs weren't going up at all, so why weren't they gouging?  Its just bizarre how we treat gasoline so much different than every other product we buy.  Perhaps its because they are the only retail product that actually posts their current prices right on the street. 

As I read this article, AG Hagan reminded me of my least favorite Aspiring Governor, fellow Princetonian and enemy-of-Antarctica Eliot Spitzer.  So it was funny when the article continued on to discuss similar actions taken by Spitzer.  This was the quote I loved:

Spitzer told the Press & Sun-Bulletin that
he "hoped it would send a clear message to others that 'you cannot,
under New York law, use an environmental emergency to raise prices.'"

OK, but can I use a massive supply-demand imbalance caused by an environmental disaster to raise prices?  And I sure bet that politicians can use an environmental emergency to raise taxes  (in fact, since NY's gas tax is a percentage of the price rather than fixed, the state of NY did indeed contribute to the post-Katrina price hike). 

Here is my quote back to Mr. Spitzer:

"I hope to send a clear message that the state Attorney General position cannot be used for grandstanding forays against innocent but unpopular business entities* in order to raise one's profile to run for higher office"

*See Dick Grasso, Microsoft, et al.

Update:  More at Professor Bainbridge on Elito Spitzer  (and here)

"I Never Forgot I Was Lying"

Via Overlawyered, comes this fascinating confession of one of the young "accusers" in the McMartin pre-school sex abuse prosecutions, one of several witch-hunts from a mercifully brief era of a national day care sex-abuse panic.  While certainly abuse occurs, as is made clear from recent Catholic Church revelations, prosecutors used the excuse of "protecting the children" to justify all kinds of abuses of the fact-finding process (something we should remember in the Patriot Act era).

The lawyers had all my stories written down and knew exactly what I had said
before. So I knew I would have to say those exact things again and not have
anything be different, otherwise they would know I was lying. I put a lot of
pressure on myself. At night in bed, I would think hard about things I had said
in the past and try to repeat only the things I knew I'd said before.

I
remember describing going to an airport and Ray taking us somewhere on an
airplane. Then I realized the parents would have known the kids were gone from
the school. I felt I'd screwed up and my lie had been caught"”I was busted! I was
so upset with myself! I remember breaking down and crying. I felt everyone knew
I was lying. But my parents said, "You're doing fine. Don't worry." And everyone
was saying how proud they were of me, not to worry.

I'm not saying
nothing happened to anyone else at the McMartin Pre-School. I can't say that"”I
can only speak for myself. Maybe some things did happen. Maybe some kids made up
stories about things that didn't really happen, and eventually started believing
they were telling the truth. Maybe some got scared that the teachers would get
their families because they were lying. But I never forgot I was lying.

There is much more in the article, demonstrating how prosecutors manipulated children to get prosecutions. 

This topic has resonance with me because I sat on the jury of such a case around 1992.  Earlier sex-abuse prosecutions were starting to look suspicious, but there was still a lot of incentive for prosecutors to push high-profile cases (after all, Janet Reno would soon become AG for the US, largely on the strength of a number of well publicized and in retrospect very questionable such prosecutions).  By 1992, though, defense lawyers had caught up and were better at highlighting the egregious tactics used by prosecutors to coax stories out of children.  Many of the tactics we saw in our trial were identical to those recounted in this article.  There was even an eerie parallel to this recent Vioxx case, as the initial (3rd party) accuser who first reported that the victim was being abused seemed more motivated by getting on Oprah than getting her facts correct.

Update:  Neo-Libertarian has the details on the Janet Reno prosecutions I mentioned in passing.  Here is the PBS story on "the Miami method" and several of Reno's unethical abuse prosecutions.

Eliot Spitzer and the Antarctic Liberation Front

The "news" today is that Eliot Spitzer has announced he is running for governor of New York.  This is about as surprising as the "revelation" that Barry Bonds took steroids.  Duh.  The "AG" job is not nicknamed "Aspiring Governor" for nothing.  Also, Spitzer represents the worst of a new trend of AG's using their prosecutor role to engage in lawsuits more for their media and publicity value rather than an sense of public service.  Why else would Spitzer involve himself and the AG office in a compensation dispute between two private parties, except for the fact that the two private parties are very high profile in NY.

OK, but what is this Antarctica thing?  Back when I was an undergrad at Princeton, one of my fondest memories was of a bizarre Student Body Governing Council (USG) election.  The previous USG administration, headed by none other than fellow Princetonian Eliot Spitzer, had so irritated the student body that, for the first time in memory, the usually apathetic voting population who generally couldn't care less who their class president was actually produced an energetic opposition party.  Even in his formative years, Spitzer was expert in using his office to generate publicity, in this case frequent mentions in the student newspaper that finally drove several students over the edge.

The result was the incredibly funny and entertaining Antarctic Liberation Front.  I wish I had saved their brochures, but their proposals included things like imposing a dawn to dusk curfew on the school and funding school parties by annexing the mineral rights between the double yellow lines of the US highways.  All of this was under the banner of starting jihad to free Antarctica.  The ALF swept the USG election.  This immensely annoyed Spitzer and other USG stalwarts, who decried the trivialization of such an august body.  The pained and pompous wailing from the traditional student council weenies (sounding actually a lot like liberals after the last presidential election) only amused the general student population even further.  After a few student-council-meetings-as-performance-art, the ALF resigned en mass and life went back to being just a little bit more boring.

If you think I am exaggerating in saying that the Spitzer-led student council types had a whiny reaction to this bit of fun, you should know that Spitzer was still whining about it 20 years later to the New Yorker magazine.  Virginia Postrel, also a Princetonian at the time, had a similar reaction to mine here, and fisks the New Yorker article.