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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Birthday -- Lacey Chabert

She had a pretty good run so far on t.v. in various roles. Since it was just on again, again a nod for her excellent portrayal in The Color of Rain, really felt her portrayal of the based on real life character. As noted, the film tones the book down somewhat and adds more complications before the final marriage. HB Lacey!

"NFL: Muslim Player Shouldn't Have Been Penalized For Touchdown Prayer"

Besides the pleasure of a good old-fashioned Pats whipping, a lesson in respect for religious faith might have been learned. Teachable moment as they say.

"District Court embraces as-applied Second Amendment limit on federal felon-in-possession prohibtion"

I think a reasonable liberal would recognize a constitutional right to own firearms (if not the means used in Heller) and found the 5-4 split on the point unfortunate. This would still leave open various limits, including for those convicted of a crime. Nonetheless, and Martha Stewart at times is used as an example, a blanket rule here is overbroad. And, perhaps some common ground can be found here in respect to other fundamental rights such as voting.

Monday, September 29, 2014

"Breaking: Supreme Court, 5-4, Blocks Extension of Early Voting in Ohio: Analysis"

If the 6CA was wrong or not, a 5-4 stay of a voting rights win along predictable lines is just plain misguided at best. It promotes the usual stereotypes/distrust and there simply is no compelling need. Hasen's concerns are likely warranted, anyway, long term. Also, sort of want a written dissent, especially if Hasen is right about the de facto effect of this stay.

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Get some sun!

I'm part Italian, so have a bit of color, but as a matter of personal taste don't like actresses etc. who are overly tanned. Too over-processed or something. One person who doesn't have that problem is my junior senator, Sen. Gillibrand, who is of "where the sun doesn't shine" ancestry (rather, Austrian, Scottish, German, and Irish) according to Wikipedia. Hope she gets her Vitamin D -- doesn't look like she's getting it from sunshine!

Sports Sunday

Mets improved by five games and in regards to pitching and a few positions made some promising steps forward this season. They did finish (fwiw) in second place. They still need another bat or two to truly contend. Meanwhile, bad start by NYJ, 0-3 vs. the NFC North. Giants had a good week. Also, Tampa beat Steelers near the buzzer, taking a bit of the bad taste of a whooping by the Falcons. Nats had a no-hitter but no upsets in Game 162.

"The Unrepentant Bootlegger"

Good article and video regarding a convicted founder of an illegal downloading site. On that scale, I accept the government targeting, though question a year and a half in prison. Big picture, changing the copyright model makes sense. There is a way to have most everyone win here if with a bit less thrill. Given his later dissents, this Breyer article is interesting.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"The President’s Legal Authority to Order the Use of Military Force against ISIL"

I think a new AUMF should be passed, but find this argument fairly convincing. Even if it isn't, ISIL is not "any terrorist threat," underlining the "anything goes" argument is both overbroad and gives away the store too much along with the sneering cynicism.

"Social network Ello gets boost after Facebook boots drag queens"

See here as well as the link to further discussion of Facebook's policy regarding posting under your real name. They have a policy where only complaints lead to them checking. Lots of people have fake names there. Seems a compromise is possible such as registering with Facebook -- this would deal with protecting against harassing account owners and the like.

World Contraceptive Day

Is contraception access really STILL an issue? Even if you think such and such a group should not be involved for you know "freedom," or something should find be able to a way to support access for rest. What of their religious freedom? Doesn't quite seem that way. More here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Phil Hughes: 'Didn't think it was right'

A quirk cost him 500K and he turned down a chance to throw another 1/3 of an inning to get it. Don't think pitching a bit more on three days rest, as it would amount to, will hurt him any. But, can see that he would see it as a bit fake. Guys like him are key for bad teams -- 16-10 is good anywhere, particularly on the Twins. Also, shows it often depends on where you play -- he like others didn't thrive in NYC. Maybe, will be a year thing, but good luck anyways.

"The Supreme Court Has Two Ways to Legalize Gay Marriage. This One Is Better"

I agree with this article that the 10CA opinion is a good way to show same sex marriage should be protected as a part of existing marriage rights. The opinion does a good job explaining the full nature of marriage as compared to the small vision of some people.

Thanks Obama: Eric Holder Edition

Jeter's last home game (the closer even blew a save to give him the chance to have the winning hit) might have overshadowed it, but Holder announced his pending resignation. A few retrospectives suggests he had an overall good term (except on certain "terrorism-related issues") though then there are the assholes. Overall, net advancement of justice.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Mouse That Saved The West

Some time back, I read the rest of the "Mouse That Roared" series, but didn't realize the author (who wrote lots of books including The Centurion ... you know, of the gospels) wrote a final one shortly before he died in the early '80s. This time it's about the oil crisis and overall still is topical. It has his usual wry style though at times it is too wordy (or is it a chance for the author to made serious asides?). Somewhat thin, but quick and sweet.


"Obama at UN: The only thing ISIS killers understand is force"

See, e.g., here. Let's grant force is appropriate. To be clear, far from sure what is being done is a great idea. Still not a fan of that line -- seems to dehumanize and is too bloodthirsty. The answer long term is at least force +. We deal with "killers" from time to time and realize this. Think Obama does too, but bloodthirsty seems timely.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"High-profile commentator Dinesh D’Souza gets below-guideline probation sentence for violating federal campaign finance laws"

Didn't catch earlier that the prosecution was related to a Sen. Gillibrand (my senator) challenger. I found Mr. Drake's comment informative and a nice take-down of the somewhat trollish commenter addressed. Added a few of my own comments.

Baseball Philosophy

[click to enlarge] For some playoff wannabes and others.

"reluctantly dissenting"

Michael Dorf cites a case of a lawyer and non-lawyer viewing things differently.  The debate is a bit unclear, but think perhaps the other person might have made an argument regarding international law -- as a matter of principle, wrongful ownership should mean something, even if it is not accepted to be the case as a matter of current law. A sort of natural law argument, perhaps.  What "ought" to be true can eventually influence what "is" true in this area.  The Hawaiian case is interesting either way, with or without reading Sarah Vowell

As I noted in the comments, there often is a way the bridge the gap, even if (clarifying my remarks here) there is some gulf (e.g., my comment that there is a way to allow a state to go doesn't totally address the claim the state might have a right to do so).  It's particularly hard at times online, but also hard other times, to try get to a point of agreement.  Arguments often involve a lot of baggage, the core issue clouded.  Personal fights have this problem repeatedly -- one female comedian, e.g., noted the stereotype that men argue a certain thing, women use fights to bring up the kitchen sink.

A related interesting blog entry addressed the lesser known "reluctantly dissenting" opinion though who's really surprised that this apparent take-off of "dubitante" was written by Judge Kozinksi (can Scalia please retire so this man can be nominated? Republicans will probably find him not to their liking, but really, come on).  The dissent finds this is one of the times where law (particularly apparent binding precedent) and justice is so far apart that it is worthy of special note.  After all, can't just recuse yourself every time you have to hand down a really bad decision.* 

The case was a closely decided en banc ruling, but the judge's dilemma will arise eventually in a less divided case.  At times, it will rest on law that affects the young overmatched defendant liable to be in jail for years:
I am dismayed that Sessom's fate-whether he will spend his remaining days in prison, half a century or more caged like an animal-turns on such esoterica.  
Federal habeas rulings, especially given federal legislation in the 1990s to limit habeas relief in lower federal courts (roughly speaking -- my understanding is that the realistically no chance in hell option of direct relief to the USSC is left open), do often turn on such things. Objectively unjust state rulings are left in place because it is not a clear violation of current USSC precedent.  Still, given the nature of law, you will always have some cases that turn on what amount to be fine lines.  We hope that on balance some rough justice will be served, but it's a messy business.

I appreciate what might be called a form of judicial empathy here, mixed with a compulsion to follow judicial duties -- as with the succession matter, there might be a difference between the ethical choice in the system and some total sense of right and wrong.  The "caged like an animal" reference as well -- it is good to remember the inherent cruelty, if not as that term is understood in the Eighth Amendment (or is it the "usual" nature that is okay?), of our penal system.  In the future, likely will be deemed barbaric.


* The article cites another 9CA judge; the full quote at the link:
"My conscience is a product of the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights, the Boy Scout oath, and the Marine Corps Hymn," he said at the time. "If I had to follow my conscience or the law, I would follow my conscience."
When does an appeals court judge particularly really ultimately have to make such a choice?  And, is following USSC precedent, even if it results in injustice (the rub is what that means), a violation of conscience for a judge?  Such judicial ethics questions surely have led to some theorizing.

Crime/Punishment Quickies

Agree with the concerns about the five years given for animal abuse in that case. Seems misguided, even for animal welfare reasons. Also, guess I'm appreciative about serious talk of use of nitrogen gas for executions. If we have a death penalty, should do it the best way possible. Don't think that is going anywhere, but seems a case of taking governing seriously.