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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Top-free Rights for Women: A Showdown in Manhattan

I have yet to see the Times Square pedestrian mall myself (shame on me). A significant development of urban planning. This issue is getting some attention. Seems trivial -- should painted breasts even count as "nude," even granting a commercial/non-commercial line? If they are being too aggressive, so are other costumed characters. Targeting tourists is also typical. Is a good excuse for tabloids etc. to talk about and show breasts.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

OMG (for real)

We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married.We just celebrated her 24th birthday

-- Chris Hurst (on Twitter)

Bad things happen but that killing of a tv reporter and her cameraman (both getting married; Hurt was a colleague/bf) on live tv (video available) is definitely a truly "OMG" moment.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


The movie was better than the book and some liked the musical better than the movie. Both have charms though play Emmett is a deeper character. Has to be -- not played by super bland Luke Wilson. Sorry Luke; kinda boring. Soundtrack is fun and well performed.

Give Us the Ballot

The book has a somewhat expected feel to it, including given its author writes for The Nation, but overall it is a very readable account of the voting battles from the VRA until today that also provides a view of each side though clearly on one.

Goodbye Mr. Chips

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"Editor’s Note: Our Reporting on CMP and Holly O’Donnell" (and related thoughts)

RH Reality Check has done a lot of work to answer a series of videos that has received some traction, including even some on the pro-choice side worried about the "tone," in the fight against Planned Parenthood. It probably crossed the line, however, in a recent piece regarding a former biomedical supplier employee who an investigation determined (via online research, not hidden recording devices or such) had certain fetishes and whose views on abortion was somewhat confused. Not a big fan of it.

This got some push-back even from some regular supporters and "there was vociferous internal disagreement even on our staff about the piece." The website thought better of it and took it down. They explained themselves here and as I noted there in a featured comment, thought the reply was fair. And, there was a much longer than usual set of replies, many sanctimonious about the whole thing.  It is not always blatant, though it often is, but the tenor of the negative replies this time tends to be those who would oppose the website's overall mission.  The sanctimony, in other words, is not neutral and the mitigation given the instigation involved is not likely to be recognized.

The discussion was probably useful in various cases, if only to get things out there.  Overall, again, didn't find it useful -- with big photos (not usual in pieces on that blog) of some of the offensive stuff she likes (e..g, involving Hitler) -- to dwell on material from social media accounts of the woman in question.  The overall idea is she was supporting limiting the liberty rights of others but opposition to abortion or means of obtaining fetal tissue (the specific purpose of her involvement) is different. It is not akin to Josh Duggar being an adulterer (in general, even the Ashley Madison data dump was problematic, but at least not applied credit and address information, it probably is okay applied to him) while promoting social purity campaigns. The personal material basically is likely to backfire here.

Various choices are going to be made, especially in the heat of a campaign for something really important, and some missteps will likely occur.  It's a learning experience.  The technique apparently has a name -- "doxxing," the Internet-based practice of researching and broadcasting personally identifiable information about an individual. It amounts to a form of outing, which has been a subject of debate regarding homosexuality and so forth for some time now.  Personally, I'm wary to use this technique except for a major public figure and even then it might be iffy.  For instance, if an anti-abortion legislator herself had three abortions, some might find this worthy of release (this information might not be "doxxing" but the general concept is at issue here too), but I'm wary.  Social media material is less private but also often less relevant. And, if this woman's dating website material is relevant, drawing lines as relevance will be a bit difficult.

One debate I had on the comment thread was with someone who disagreed with a response regarding the nature of the far right movement cited by the apology.  The reply focused, though as I noted it is but one thing, on the alleged "shaming" of gays and lesbians. The person refused to agree that this is what happened, leading to a tedious debate over elementary school words (on another blog, the problem was "big" vs. "strong" government).  Apparently, saying something is against God's will or even open to eternal damnation is not really "shaming," since shame is just something a person on their own feels.  I was confusing cause and effect. Calling Alanis Morissette.  

Her citation of anti-cigarette campaigns was particularly telling. Yes, quite "shaming" to promote that doing something is disgusting and not socially appropriate.  Shame is not even wrong -- it's a human emotion that serves as a check on our conscience.  Just admit to what you are doing, please.  Certain people were all "I never!" when it was pointed out that DOMA etc. showed some animus toward gays and lesbians. Or, consider this provision of a law recently discussed in an article more focused on the sticker in question being anti-abortion etc:
C. No district shall include in its course of study instruction which:

1. Promotes a homosexual life-style.

2. Portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style.

3. Suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.
The article highlights the usage of a sticker in a high school biological textbook on account of a law to further the state's favoring of childbirth and adoption over "elective" abortion. Abstinence is also promoted. The links to the two laws cited are included.  The state really should not single out one side of the often religiously motivated choice to or to not abort.  But, this 2011 law, apparently still active (though one hopes there was some update to this second part, especially now that SSM is protected), also has this anti-gay provision. Let's put aside the idea that no form of "homosexual sex" (including between lesbians) is "safe." A law that singles out homosexuality as something that can not be a "positive alternative life-style" is a form of shaming.  Objectively, without even going into the sorts of things used to promote that viewpoint.  But, some apparently find this hard to understand.  It cannot be shaming, shaming is bad, right?

A final comment -- kudos to Ellen Page for confronting Ted Cruz, a class one asshole (a not atypical tic there is "isn't it interesting," which is used to allege hypocrisy or the like, often in some b.s. way), something that is difficult to do. I can blithely respond to such people online though even there sometimes find it hard to provide fully clear responses that don't ramble, have typos and avoid being instigated by  those with poor arguments often made in sneering tones. Anyway, even those more social than I feel unable to actually confront someone like him in public with such a question. Grant that I wouldn't want to be on the other end of such questioning either, but then not a politician. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Connecticut Supreme Court Strikes Down Death Penalty

And Also: Jared Fogle and Ashley Madison is combined in this discussion regarding online privacy and safety. The first is a horrible matter that has a specific reaction since he's a celebrity spokesperson, someone seen as an innocent nerdish sort.  The latter resulted in some schadenfreude, especially when Mr. Duggar reportedly was on the list. But, in other contexts, some have argued adultery is a private matter, so it is a major concern. It underlines too the problems with "whistleblowers" who release a ton of information that very well should not be out there, even if at times they do it for a good cause in some fashion. 

State v. Santiago held the death penalty unconstitutional under Connecticut law, dealing with those on death row after the state itself ending prospective executions. Linda Greenhouse and others have had their say. The first link is to the website in part since articles on the ruling tend to only link to the majority opinion (or maybe the primary dissent) so we are denied such things as a concurring opinion referencing the "macabre muck of capital punishment litigation."

As Greenhouse notes, a state with a single execution in fifty years provides a certain theoretical flavor in these cases, blue or not blue state (various states with similar statistics are red states).  And, this also colors the whole issue of the death penalty being arbitrarily applied and something of an answer to families of victims (though there is no single position here, some victims trying and failing to stop the state from executing people) understandably angry at the ruling. If killing people for murder is necessary for justice, there has been quite a long period of injustice in the state.

The website also helpfully provides biographies of the justices and a couple are expected joins -- one was an appointment of the current governor who ran on ending the death penalty while another has a long history of things like the Peace Corps and other liberal causes. One was a Republican nominee and former army official.  The author:
Justice Palmer was an associate with the Hartford law firm of Shipman & Goodwin from 1978 to 1980. Thereafter, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for Connecticut from 1980 to 1982 and from 1987 to 1990, and held a number of positions in that office, including Chief of the Criminal Division and Deputy United States Attorney. From 1984 to 1986, he practiced privately with the firm of Chatigny and Palmer. In 1991, Justice Palmer was appointed to the position of United State’s Attorney for Connecticut and from 1991 to 1993, he was the Chief State’s Attorney for Connecticut. On March 17, 1993, he was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
A federal attorney in the Reagan and Bush Administrations is not the immediate person you'd think would write the majority opinion.  But, it also is not shocking, since opposition to the death penalty comes from many quarters.  And, those who support the death penalty or at least its constitutionality comes from various quarters too.  After all, though his former Attorney General personally opposed the death penalty and the Administration itself never carried one out, the POTUS himself continues to support it for some crimes.  This includes more than what the USSC itself recently held as just at least as applied to rape of children.

I wish not to go over old ground here but one thing that is shown in the coverage and responses (including by someone commenting at the blog linked) are the victims, including their opinion of the governor. One issue there is that the governor expressed his regret at their pain, which is the sort of comment that is a no win -- if you don't say it, you are bad and if you do, you are sneered at as well.  See also, President Bush having sympathy for the families of people who died in Iraq. And, again, sometimes courts strike down punishments (though here the people will stay in prison, which is how it went for each murderer except one since 1960) and upset victims.

Anyway, a lot of verbiage to do basically what was done for longer than I have been alive -- not execute people. But, it does matter, for the one or more on death row who definitely won't be executed (though doubtful some other way would have been found not to do that) and the arguments made. And, it is not set in stone.  A later legislature can change the law and the people can elect people who choose judges more likely to vote like the dissent. Besides, the debate is one that will continue as it has for ages.

Peyton Place

Did not like a discussion of the book but enjoyed the once "shocking" 1950s novel as a whole. One can see why it was so outrageous/exciting with sex, scandal, abortion etc. It was written in an down to earth way. The broad range points of view with a few central also is a favorite style for me personally. The author of the discussion wrote an introduction and it covered a lot of the same ground of her full length book in about a tenth of the time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dubya MIA

Nobody has pulled a more thorough disappearing act than George W. Bush. Unfortunately for the Republicans, Democrats and independents do have functioning memory cells.

Sometime by the time of the you know who's administration, a certain line was crossed for me to make one national party simply hard to take seriously as a credible option. It is rather unpleasant. This is a glaring sign of things.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

John Oliver vs. Televangelists

He had another good extended segment, saying upfront he wasn't saying all religion was bad. Some will look past this, but it's a useful qualifier. Also, the rules are loose (Colbert, also with legal assistance, showed this with PACs) but unsure how stricter they can be. Religion is in part about assuring people of weird things, often to make you guilty for not benefiting the religion, backed by the supernatural. A lot of restraints here will be non-governmental.

More Voting Bits: Early Voting and Selfies

Interesting discussion from someone who wrote strongly on the falsity of "voter fraud" side but I think both sides make good points. Just don't see this as much of a problem though see his point. Question on early voting (see here) led me to dig a bit. Commented at CO link.

OTD: 19A Ratified

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

There is a "right to vote" and the question is what regulations are allowed. Also, the 19A is a sort of ERA -- women now clearly had a right to basic rights of citizenship and all that (including equality in public life) that entails. The connection warrants more attention. An early post-19A case shows there is a debate over the reach, but point holds.