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

Friday, August 31, 2012


Both sides have their partisan documentaries as seen by this film I was asked about recently. See here for a conservative take down.

Heather Vandeven

Received hits regarding Heather Vandeven, a star of certain types of late night viewing. For those interested, here's a link. Not "PG."

Firing Obama?

Per, Mr. Eastwood, I chose him for various reasons, including advancing public policy in the right direction, choosing certain kinds of judges, bringing respectability and smarts, etc. He did enough to keep him and wouldn't Gary Johnson be more to your liking?

Labor Worked With Worse Than This

Jobs, including I guess in Eastwood's (really, man? true libertarians don't support anti-choice candidates) ramble, is a big message in this election. Apt for Labor Day weekend. It's insulting at best how lackluster the preachers actually are in this regard, but bottom line, imperfect and blocked is better than the alternative.

Christmas Lodge

Family, home and faith are themes of this nice movie starring the lead of Being Erica, but the lead romance didn't really develop well. The ending was also a bit abrupt. Felt it could be a bit longer. Meanwhile, Love Actually is a bit of a mess actually but feel good viewing overall. This holiday favorite is on air now too.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pre-Season Football

In what must have been an exciting game, the NYG this time managed to win at the end though the Pats again had time for a last minute attempt. A bit less exciting, but same overall result. 6-3 final. And, the Jets score a TD via their third stringer. 58yd FG. Loss.

Couple Things

I think Prof. Levinson's comment here misses a bit about how the "law" is the messy result of the possible such as an "expectation" of a time limit. Necessary Roughness season finale was a good one.


Such a biblical name. Sort of deja vu, especially for MHP. More on Katrina, showing -- contra Ryan -- government does have a role to secure our freedom (for Ryan et. al., other than abortion rights, SSM, etc.), including the freedom to live. See also, Zeitoun.

Well Spoken Liar

Two things were unquestionably true about Paul Ryan’s speech last night: One, it was unquestionably a well-written and well-presented speech and Two, it was filled with a lot of out and out lies or things that were so hypocritically or comically misleading as almost to amount to the same.
As Rachel Maddow has noted, Romney likes that sort of thing.

Unserious? Sure. But, So Tasty (to some)

I find talk about "villagers" and such at some point (rather quickly) annoyingly pretentious (look! I'm using snarky slang!) but like in various places, it's helpful to know how to fit in D.C. Merits count too, but politics is often knowing how to communicate to your audience.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Being Erica {Spoiler}

There are a myriad of shows to watch these days, especially if you add those available online or some sort of rental. This one is a Canadian series that aired on SoapNet in the U.S., though the policy of doing so a few months after it completed a season's run (also posting them at IMDB) has not occurred yet for the final season.  Nonetheless, the fourth season is on DVD with a few extras (such as a read through) and having something that is pretty cool (if a bit incomplete) -- "described video," where scenes are described for those with vision problems.  

The series begins with a thirty-something Jewish woman who is at a troubled part of her life when she has an allergic reaction that leads her to meet the mysterious "Dr. Tom" at the hospital.   We learn more about Tom and others in her life (family, friends and colleagues having various dramas that often, imho, are the best parts of the show; generally, very well acted by the ensemble cast) as things develop.  Turns out Dr. Tom is not your average sort of therapist, unless they can control time and space. This allows Erica to be sent back to various "regrets," beginning with going back to a high school dance, while also learning more insights about her life and loved ones.  

These, along with the episodes as a whole, tend to be a mixed bag, but overall, the show has enough good material to make it rewarding overall.  The charm of DVD is that one can ff through some slow parts.  After regular -- so to speak -- therapy, Erica has group therapy in the third season.  She meets a new love interest (someone else the focus of earlier episodes*) in group, but it's unfortunate that more effort was not given to understand the others. The fourth season has various characters (including the mom in a very good episode) to have major life developments, Erica herself preparing to be a full fledged doctor while also running a new publishing business with a former supervisor. 

A major thing fans of the show wondered about was the "secret" to what was going on.  For instance, was she really in a coma (shock from the allergic reaction) or even dead?  We saw Erica go into the future and in S4, she met her future self (apparently, Back to the Future rules didn't apply; she also did not understand the concept of separate time lines, the movie not cited for the concept).  S4 also informed us about the winner of the World Cup in a few years ... we saw such information could lead to problems in that movie too.  But, no big reveals were really shown as late as the penultimate episode, including who was ultimately in control.

And, the show ends without us knowing the details, a sense of incompleteness that fits into its various philosophical moments. 


* The show at times had a sort of Lifetime or chick flick feel to it with her needing to decide what guy is right for her and so forth.  The actress could be a bit too cutesy at times -- for instance, S4 has her repeatedly enthusiastically assuming the wrong thing as a therapist in training -- but I liked her as a whole.  The role is pretty prime, especially with all the permutations involved with the time travel and all.  As noted in the link, her Jewishness comes out in various cases, her dad in particular. 

How Many Have Your Found In Blog Comments?

Twenty Special Forms of Rhetoric. (h/t this person)

CC Gets All Higher Ground (Up to a Point)

In an introduction to the American people on politics’ biggest stage, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) argued that only Republicans are willing to take the political heat necessary to fix the deficit.
If they actually had the guts to do that, maybe, but they do not. BTW, teacher unions are there FOR the teachers, bully boy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kate Jackson Loves Snakes

Not the actress, a herpetologist.  Enjoyable account of her field research with some blunt talk about the people she dealt with.

Simply Explain

I posted the wrong version of an item. The problem is that Ebay took it down and couldn't tell me why, passing the buck to the publisher.  If it simply explained the exact details, aggravation would have been avoided.  Also, if it allowed email requests over insisting you call in.  Unhelpful call centers lead to nasty colloquies. Words to live by!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Branwood J. Wilding

I saw various interesting markers during my trip to the main White Plains NY cemetery, one that does not to my knowledge include any relatives or ancestors of me personally. One thing that struck me were the various types of markers, various sizes and quality, some of the most simple ones (the "residents" were born as far back as the 18th Century) worn down so much that no markings are visible. As with some tombstones fallen over or cracked another nearby smaller cemetery, this seemed to me a bit sad.  There should be some way to at least see the names.

The life stories of the buried can be readily imagined, even without various little markers that show they are veterans of wars back to 1776 (also, the War of 1812, the Grand Army of the Republic/Civil War, WWI and WWII).  For instance, there is a set of three or four tombstones of the same family, but the nicest one is a reddish marble for a woman who died in her twenties in the 1860s. Various markers, including two long lived survivors of the 18th Century, were for husband and wife, there were various for young children, including infants.  It all had something of an Our Town feel, the play that represents small town American everywhere.

The photo was one that piqued my interest, since he seems to be a veteran, but did not die during WWII as such.  [The pink marker was a warning against leaving certain things at the tombstone.] Turns out Branwood Wilding (a close relative died about sixty years later, the obit reverencing BW) had at least two notable things occur. A NYT news article from the time reports that he along with two friends as teenagers  witnessed a kidnapping, the wider story accounted here.  Later, he died along with the others onboard, when his B-29 crashed shortly after taking off from a military base.  The Marshall Islands base was also part of the service of this person, who did survive his own (separate) time there. 

I was also curious about a "Joan C. Bogert," who had an American flag at her grave, but no little marker referencing military service.  She died when she was about thirty in 1950, so perhaps the flag was to honor some sort of work she did during WWII.  A quick search did not bring up anything unless a mention about a tennis match with someone of that name (the time of the article seems to fit) concerns her.  How did she die at such an early age?  Any number of possibilities, of course.  A writer could get a lot of inspiration from this and other markers at many a cemetery.

I referenced the religious connotations of human graves and continue to think a core aspect of "religion" is what sort of meaning we give to life. Justice Stevens had the right idea:
The more precise constitutional significance of death is difficult to describe; not much may be said with confidence about death unless it is said from faith, and that alone is reason enough to protect the freedom to conform choices about death to individual conscience.
At any rate, "in memoriam" as proper.  

Sunday TV

Jets still didn't get a TD. Army Wives continues to be bad. Necessary Roughness also is not really up to snuff, if a bit less hard to take. Mets finally (barely) won a series. Astros, yes, but kinda counts.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rev. Joe (RIP)

Caring for the dead is a sign that early man concerned themselves with religion. Went to a local cemetery and looked around at markers for people born as far back as the 18th Century, various sizes and conditions. Striking to think about their stories.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blah Blah Blah (One Year Ago)

We need new material. Mets suck (no surprise/they had some life). Obama lame (not as lame as all that). Republicans, including Perry, suck. Depressing they have power. Ton of stuff about one aspect of the ACA. SSM, same old arguments. Economy sucks. Rinse/repeat.

Football Season Coming

Back-ups blew another one for the NYG, this time with only a mistake stopping at least a tie near the end of regulation.  Realize it's pre-season and I'm not supposed to care, but these are professionals, and it's still sorta annoying. Maybe, the Jets can score a TD too.

Consistency For Compelled Speech Concerns

A blog referencing the a recent lower court tobacco warning ruling noted:
In addition, reading the opinions shows how these compelled-speech concerns tie back to both mandatory ultra-sound laws and regulations of crisis pregnancy centers, so this case has much broader effect.
There is also the "risk to suicide" case.  It also is notable that even when some justices supported broader allowance of regulation of abortion, matters of this nature was said to possibly have 1A implications:
This is not to say that the informed consent provisions may not violate the First Amendment rights of the physician if the State requires him or her to communicate its ideology.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey also did not do much to discuss this issue, but did note:
If the information the State requires to be made available to the woman is truthful and not misleading, the requirement may be permissible.
If cigarette and liquor advertising warrants careful 1A scrutiny, which seems to be the understanding of the USSC, this area even w/o the separate liberty interests related to abortion choice deserves it as well.

Prop 8: Case Against Cert

[VC has a good post on how no SSM can hurt children.] 

Since they won (if on limited grounds doctrinally though the message sent went further), it is not unsurprising the Bush v. Gore tag team doesn't want the Prop 8 ruling to be reviewed by the USSC. But, their arguments are sound. It would be different if a winner in a DOMA case said something similar, one major reason being that the constitutionality of a federal statute is at stake. Also, there isn't the standing issue (though that might be a separate area of review). There is some overlap (e.g., Baker v. Nelson in both cases not binding).

I think not rushing it is important in general in this area without denying that the case for full equality is strong. Shortly before he retired, Justice Souter noted:
And it is just as essential to recognize how much time society needs in order to work through a given issue before it makes sense to ask whether a law or practice on the subject is beyond the pale of reasonable choice, and subject to being struck down as violating due process.
The majority and dissent applied this general principle differently, but it underlines the value of some due care. Those who support original understanding repeatedly refuse to face up to the reality that their unrealistic (among other things) stance would seem to require application of constitutional principles in ways deemed quite strong today (e.g., interracial marriage or protection of the 1A beyond prior restraint)  the same way a century ago.  The only reason for not doing so would be clear error. This is an unrealistic and unfair approach to development of understanding of broad constitutional doctrine. Debate like this is not only tedious (we just don't have the material to get a full sense of their thought) as well as ulimately pretty misguided. 

I say the above since I repeatedly have asked people about such things when original understanding is relied on and other than selective citation of some faction who agreed with them, it repeatedly is not really addressed.  I had a tiresome debate with someone who kept on asked (and then some months later, asking again) "when did the death penalty become unconstitutional" as if something like that occurred at 9 A.M. some day or something. In real life, ideas, including those of a constitutional dimension, reach some sort of tipping point.

And, some care on not rushing things along is worthwhile.  Hawaii did not (when the state supreme court appeared ready to find them protected, so it was far from merely a possibility) block by constitutional amendment all same sex marriages, even if the legislature or popular referendum determined they were acceptable. It gave the legislature the discretion, which was a reasonable thing to do in the 1990s when not a single state has SSM.  California didn't do that in Prop 8 -- in fact, more than once, the state legislature (with some support from the governor) was ready to protect same sex marriage. As the brief notes, this suggests the lengths taken here, why it is a specialized case that the USSC should let lie.

DOMA was not the way to go.  DOMA inhibits the "work through" by burdening those states who lead the way, who might experiment with more expansive marriage rights. The feds did not do this when states began to have easy divorces or altered the gender balance, which significantly changed "traditional marriage" in numbers much higher than this.  Domestic partnerships and civil unions are more valid ways, though I'm on the side who would constantly push things along.  But, I have been consistent.  In 2003, I thought it very well might (the state supreme court rejected this) approach to take the Vermont approach in Massachusetts.

The speed of change is a concern all over the place -- see also, Ginsburg's belief Roe v. Wade went too fast and/or used the wrong approach.  Careful change is my desired approach, change that can include certain people strongly stating the principles involved (principles that if taken to their logical conclusions would demand more) and push for more. To make things political, I think Obama as a whole is such a figure, if anything, a bit too conservative in some ways. More evidence why the choice in November is so easy, given the lousy competition. 

Talking to the Choir

Up had a pro-choice panel to talk about the "legitimate rape" stuff so had a pro-life Democrat come in via satellite so they could mostly not ask her questions (my first question: what about teens? would cover more than "5%" of abortions). I turned it off in disgust.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Whole Nine Yards

This was on t.v. lately and it was a pretty fun movie overall with an ensemble cast with people like Amanda Peet and Kevin Pollak ("I have a car like this" [fake accent] Really? "No.") contributing. The eventual sequel sucked. But, I like mayo on burgers.

Post of Personal privilege.

I had a couple instances recently where people did not take moves of simple phone or email courtesy, including polite confirmation of an email so warranting. Won't go into details (it's not blog related), but it did piss me off. Simple courtesy at times goes a long way.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Mets earned this rant ...

but, the Rockies actually are winning lately, made it as if Matt Harvey was some nobody, etc.  But, yes, the Mets do look dead. See also.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blog Material in Book Form

Now and then, stuff might have merited more detail, but overall good summary of stuff dominating TPM et. al. Video here.

Limited AA Plan Opens Up Major AA Debates

A criticism of an amicus brief for the Fisher v. Texas litigation amounts to pushing it past its limited concerns as I note ("jma") there. Anyway, more arguments found here ("Joe"), here, etc.

Fact Check of Newsweek Anti-Obama Hit Piece

Not sure why Newsweek (as compared to National Review) had such a cover, but see here. Of course, many will think it legit largely because a serious looking magazine chose it. The PPACA b.s. is but one "yeah, this again" bit. Even if true, Romney STILL is worse.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Krista Ayne

She was a character in S1 of Life on Top, back in the better first episodes, in full "I'm bad" mode. Do like "Tippi" later on.

Off A Cliff

Mets' m.o. the last few seasons was/is to play reasonably well the first half and then flip a switch and play lousy the second half. The Mets are embarrassing themselves currently vs. the bottom-feeding Rockies. It is pathetic really. Mediocre would be great now.

Ainsley Should Visit The Newsroom

See also, here

False Evenhandness ... Also Problem

Yes, just stereotyping the other side as evil is ridiculous, and a standard trope, but sometimes one side IS significantly worse. At some point, you do have to take a side and it isn't just all bias.

Expanding Definitions

The specialized use of "feminism" (need for competition is not feminist?) and A+ (the ideal atheist is Super-Liberal!) is a bit disconcerting. The value is a more inclusive approach though sure pick the choice right for you.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Dissent in the armed forces is a patriotic tradition"

Elizabeth Samet wrote about teaching English at West Point (skimmed book; worthwhile but a bit of trudge) and wrote another book on the issue of "consent" in the first half of our history. Interesting discussion of subject, showing "conservative" can be "not horrible."

Army Wives (Current)

Broken record, but I think the expanded season (pushing the episode list past 100, so it's bit curious) has watered down the product. Yesterday's episode again was pretty weak, including Roxy not even mentioning the Hump Bar as she calmly accepts a move.

Group Sex Between Teacher and 18/19 Year Old Students

I may be in the minority here (even a female teacher disagrees -- "just fire her"), but am wary about not making this a criminal offense.  It's not just "consensual sex" -- it is a teacher, who has a special responsibility and often (yes, even if the student is 18) special influence over students. Texas sought WAY too much.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ryan/Rand ... Not Who I Want To Lead this Land!

I am somewhat familiar with various philosophers and theorists, including the usual "names" that are bandied about like Mill, Rawls and yes Rand.  Rightly or wrongly, I never was much interested in reading too deeply into these people, quite honestly, finding primary sources rather boring.  I took an intellectual history course once and read some material here, but it is simply not something I'm interested in. 

I have not to my knowledge actually read Rand though have seen a few clips of her giving an interview and might have seen part of a movie based on her life. I also saw part of the recent first part of the "John Galt" film trilogy (?) until I had to shut it off since it was so boring. I might have first heard about her because a character in Dirty Dancing (recall, taking place in the 1950s) was enthused with one of her novels. This was not seen as a good thing, the idea probably that he really wasn't that deeply aware of her philosophy.  Reading her apparent trudge prose was something

Of course, though he at times rather not admit it (making him a good fit on the ticket, I guess), Paul Ryan is a fan.  He once said she was a major, if not the major, influence in his political career.  We have "Rand" Paul, who cannot answer a simple question on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and now we have a Rand acolyte as vice presidential candidate, the person picked to show the party and/or base Romney is good people. This suggests a long time trend -- pick someone safe (though still pretty conservative in various ways) in a political way for the top of the ticket and then find a more movement friendly figure.  Seems to be the case in each case after Reagan, where the approach was switched. 

This again shows the fine tuning needed in labels -- this is not a "conservative" path as such  William F. Buckley, e.g., was no big fan of Rand, not surprising from the author of God and Man at Yale.  As LD on MSNBC noted, the gal was a Russian atheist.  His positions are far from libertarian as well.  We will continue to get the big spin job that will try to cover this up, much talk about "freedom" and less government, except for the usual suspects.  Democrats are not for "less government," full stop.  They are for appropriate government.  As a social libertarian, this is the best move for me at the current time, even if Obama might annoy on certain issues.  Gary Johnson, the libertarian choice, praising Ron Paul, who in several ways is far from libertarian underlines the point.

Chris Hayes found some video of Ryan defending stimulus when Bush was promoting it.  This is far from surprising -- Ryan repeatedly (says it was so hard for him at times, poor thing) was the loyal solider, the Republican way, during the Bush years, including repeatedly supporting questionable government spending. His tax breaks philosophy is not about fiscal solvency, but empowering certain people.  Rand went in some troubling directions, but the basic absolute individualism she speaks of might sound good to some shallow thinking sorts (the sorts that might think all taxation is slavery or the like) is a problem writ large. 

[MHP suggested Ryan isn't serious about Rand ... he is more of a sort of trope and is not actually taken seriously by the candidate. This might be a bit too generous.]

Hayes noted yesterday how she managed to justify getting government benefits, so apparently hypocrisy (or rationalization) is there too.  He had a woman who benefits from government programs on today as he had on regarding other issues, such as the DREAM Act.  We often see talking heads, including lobbyists and insiders, but repeatedly they are of the favored view sort.  But, policies affect the average person, you and me.  The policies Ryan et. al. support hurts the general welfare.  In various ways, imperfect as it might be, the other side has helped it.  This is the bottom line.  The line in the sand is ever more clear with Ryan though.

As I say, I find it depressing that the two choices is an imperfect centrist Democrat (whatever fantasy labels others want to put on him or those who felt betrayed because they naively expected so much more) and this ticket.  MHP has a bit on Biden yesterday, noting he's our guy, even with his gaffes.  Yes.  He is clearly a credible choice to have in the wings if something horrible happens.  The fact he puts his foot in his mouth at times doesn't change this and the whole "Bushisms" bit over at Slate always seems childish to me anyways.  Bush wasn't bad because he (like his father before him, in a different fashion) spoke funny.  Policy choices.

I have a new label -- "Ryan."  I don't have a "Romney" label, though perhaps I should, since he brings his own baggage.  But, this election has a better symbol of what the "anti-canon" should be. Ryan.

Rev. Joe: Checks and balances, anyone?

“Nothing is withheld from us what we have conceived to do.”
A serendipitous meeting included this quote. Yes, apparently "God" said it. The context is interesting: it is the Tower of Babel story and the danger of abuse if everyone can work together.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sports Night

After a fill-in did decent but not good enough for the Yanks, perhaps the best starter at the moment for the Mets (Niese) threw a gem. Meanwhile, the Giants did well, the Jets again didn't have a TD. The best they can say is that they starting D was good.

Good Angel Talks

Yes, yes. This allows us to talk about key issues like the proper role of government and promote important values in the process, the Ayn Rand representative if anything making it easier to promote the right side. Glass half full. Still not easy.

Almost As Excruciating As The Mets

Know it is important, but I'm so BORED with hearing about Romney and Ryan.  They are lousy choices and it's f-ing clear.  But, since it is not to enough people, we have hear a few more months of it, often with the rule being that we have to assume RR are reasonable sorts.

Friday, August 17, 2012

More On Army Wives etc.

And Also: Along Comes a Stranger was a good first effort by a daughter of a well known historian, not much going on over most of it, but a good character study of a mid-aged transplant in Wyoming and how her life changed one summer after meeting her mother-in-law's new boyfriend, who seems a kindred spirit.


Certain words have a special flavor to them, one that is not merely a matter of literal meaning.  For instance, calling someone a "liar" is not just a matter of the person saying something wrong, even if you think the person should know it is wrong.  It implies a certain bad intent.  Plus, it brings forth a certain emotional reaction, since again, it implies a certain bad, or even malice, intent. The word does fit sometimes, but even then, at times the emotional reaction makes it somewhat dubious to use in various cases.  With a nod to a book by Laura Penny, this leads me to think "b.s." (in effect, a disrespect of the truth, a sort of negligence) works better, or perhaps, simply avoid the emotionally laden term and make your point in some other way. "Plagiarism" also requires care; this is a good discussion.*  

If good writing is a skill, putting together a whole television episode or film for which that is but a part of the affair truly is.  The S4 Army Wives DVD had a good "from script to screen" analysis of a particularly good episode, one in which the search of a boy and his injured mom played an important role.  The search involved various characters, such as Frank (called her in to fill-in), Denise (working dispatch because she is in the last months of her pregnancy), Pamela (on patrol) and so forth.  Meanwhile, other stuff is going on in the episode, one that opened with a well put together kitchen scene between the Holdens.  The "making of" segment noted how even a little thing as filming making the eggs took a bit of doing, including dealing with the sound of the whisking and getting a good shot of the eggs sizzling on the stove.  This all for one episode of one show on television.  The director of the episode, and several others, played the mom on Growing Pains.

One thing many DVDs, including the Army Wives series, have is deleted scenes.  Often, it is a bit much to call it a "scene," since it is actually a less than a minute chunk (one was :16), at times some part of a scene that was edited out.  Some DVDs (not this one) provide commentary that explains why the scene was omitted, for artistic or time reasons.  Some are pretty good moments, but they just do not fit for whatever reason.  It is interesting to me though how even a small portion that is around a minute can be a noticeable amount of time -- in some ways, that amount of time is a flash, in others, it is quite noticeable.  This DVD also has a blooper/outtakes reel ... the Army Wives DVDs as a whole has enough extras that you get a nice feel for the actors outside their roles, including here during line reads and in another case, talking about what they do for fun or for volunteering purposes (acting students, e.g.) on location.

The first part (not aware of any other season split into more than one DVD, but S6 is the longest, probably to its detriment) of the current season will be on DVD in about a month.  Meanwhile, it is good to know that S4 of Being Erica is also to be on DVD soon, partially because I do not know when it will be available in the U.S. (I caught one episode online) otherwise.  I reserved it in my local library.  The first season of another Canadian series that I'm somewhat interested in, at least to see the beginning, Lost Girl, will also be on DVD in the U.S. soon.  Some episodes are available for that but I want to see it from the beginning.  The two shows are connected, the star of the latter having a supporting role in the first.  Now if only the film that Angelina Jolie directed would come to my library.


* I think the person here paraphrased a person summarizing the findings of a book [recommended] a bit too closely, but am not sure if a slightly re-worded account would have required citation.  I guess if he primarily used her as a source, he should have cited her, though I think what happened here at best a venial sin.  Looking at various well sourced articles and books, the line does not always seem apparent, things that seem to me to be general information sometimes cited.

I repeatedly see simple errors that I can't believe were missed by the editors or people who read the material to provide feedback.  So, though it's important for various works (though it is normal for newspaper and magazine articles to not have this sort of thing, especially given the linking abilities of online sources, it would be helpful in many cases) to have source material, I do wonder who checks all the cites at all in most cases. Some of these sources are that easy to obtain -- even a professional might find it hard to check some of material.

It is annoying when (usually selectively) a person seems to want detailed cites when I make some comment on a blog.  If a media article doesn't have such a thing, why exactly should it be a special notice when I do not?  Grain of salt and all that is fine.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Army Wives

I like the characters as a whole (though Chase doesn't come off that well, Lucas given little to do), but Roxie/Trevor is my favorite couple. Emmalin (the second one) is quite good too. Pamela has a good mixture of sass and girly side. Show is getting stale.

Army Wives (S4)

Some extras, no commentary tracks and some good episodes, including some good Pamela, including as a cop. Darn, I forgot Roxie lost her baby. Three moms lost a child somehow; a fourth gave up two as a surrogate. The last considered but did not have an abortion.

Don't Shoot the Messenger (or Security Guards)

The FRC shooting shows that misplaced violence is not something just found on one side. Violence is bad as a whole, but targeting security guards (even without guns) and others who often are merely neutral parties doing their jobs is worse. Have some perspective.

Absentee ballots and undocumented citizenship

A good discussion. Absentee voting is not the just same, which explains why some don't use it, even if they can. I think the physical trip to the polls itself has a special meaning, leading me to be a bit uncomfortable with Oregon and Washington.

Right Wingers Debate PPACA Taxation

The PPACA "taxes freedom," (what tax doesn't?), but is constitutional says one "right wing originalist."  No, "taxes" are for "raising funds" (don't see that sole purpose in the Constitution ...doesn't that count? anyway, this one raises funds too) says another.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Missing the Point

A reference here to some voting shenanigans led to me in part to say the answer is not total federal control, just some. The various "not the point" replies really were tedious. Arguing the point is an often missing art and is kinda a big concern of mine.

Judge Won’t Block Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law

Evidence (reality based community? eh!) also not needed here to limit rights. See here and here ("careful and well-written" and "wrong").

Army Wives

The child abuse subplot was decent, including re. assumptions. The husband breaking the rules by refusing to leave Denise's area was also treated with the right degree of care: charged but dropped after he turned out not to be the abuser. Also, admitted error.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sophie Flack in Action

She's the blonde.

Bunheads (The Book)

I enjoyed this (fiction) book written by a former ballet dancer about a 19 year-old having a mid-career crisis of sorts.  Nice exposition, set of vignettes and characters.  Good first effort. NOT the show.

Anita Sarkeesian & Video Games

The negative reaction from some parts underlines the importance of Anita Sarkeesian's analysis of video game tropes. Popular culture is both an interesting and important area for analysis.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Closer Closes

Major Crimes begins with most of the cast. Some at the IMDB board liked the ending of The Closer, but Brenda going mano-o-mano with her nemesis with her body and gun is not something I wanted to see. Brenda Lee Johnson impressed with her mind. Weak final episode(s).

I shut this off

The "oh I quit" beginning underlines the non-reality in We Bought A Zoo and I got bored of it quick. The Sherlock Movie I saw on Xmas sucked but okay this was a bad choice. The Girl/Tattoo movie turned out to be the best choice but not sure if it would have been for all. 

Boy Scouts' Other Discrimination

VC is somewhat inconsistent in its libertarianism, but good for this criticism of the Boy Scouts (contra Girl) policy on disbelief in God. I provide various comments, religion one of those things I can go on and on about. Meanwhile, interesting biblical commentary.

Death row rehabilitation?

As I note here, saying the death penalty means no "rehabilitation" is misguided and a more nuanced approach is best for all sides.

Army Wives

Frank is okay (so far) just adding to the boredom and the baby music montage was funny, but as a whole, dull episode.  Season in fact is stretched too thin.  Meanwhile, the Mets hung on in a night game, a near 9th inning collapse adding drama.

FFRF awards 12-year-old freethinker

FFRF award winner, a speaker during a local TN controversy over public prayer during government bodies. As in other such disputes, the (reasonable) attempts at inclusiveness still results in controversy, simple numbers likely to result in a dominant viewpoint.  This is the sort of thing that led Madison to not support even "neutral" government support of religion.  Prayer is not always, should not always, some vanilla effort.  Thus, one prayer that upset some people included this:
"Lord, it is a tough day, but your word has told us that this day would come," the pastor said. "That in the last days, prayer-less times would come. That it would be a time when people would be unthankful, unholy and ungrateful. It would also be a time of lawlessness, when men and women would choose to go their own way and ignore what is right."
The USSC upheld the right to use legislative prayers in Marsh v. Chambers, even (contrary to Justice Stevens who dissented largely on that narrow ground)  when one chaplain of a specific denomination was chosen for that role for a number of years.  The opinion noted that the content of the prayer should not be a concern unless "indication that the prayer opportunity has been exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief."  A footnote noted the chaplain felt the prayer was "nonsectarian," but the matter was not pressed there.

The prayer cited suggests that rule was violated, but especially with the open access system of speakers, it is pretty hard to avoid totally.  It is one thing when an open forum [there is a fear it will not truly be freely open and cases where Wiccans or such are denied entry are available, but complete openness can aggravate the problem] is present: some people will say things that will upset other people, that is the nature of things.  Here, however, is an official policy to sanctify government proceedings, and many of these things (especially in certain smaller communities) will involve the general public being present.  

The girl and others suggest, therefore, a moment of silence approach.  This is a reasonable compromise. Jesus instructing people to pray in private aside, there will continue to be debates on these subjects because of a felt need to openly express one's faith, including in this context.  Moments of silence are not always without controversy, but there are realistic middle ground approaches. Thus, the Constitution itself provides an affirmation option for those who finds oaths (again, one can quote Jesus on the point) improper.  A simple "do you swear or affirm" satisfies without making an issue of it.  A moment of silence can do so as well.  Reasonableness can be fairly easy.

Melissa Harris-Perry has included some teenagers in her civic hero segments and it is nice to see "young people" being honored for such a thing.  Smarts are to be honored wherever they are found.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Deficit Hawk when okay for the party

[W]orst financial and economic collapse of our lifetime, with millions out of work, millions of businesses shuttered, and hundreds of failed banks -- arguably a bigger emergency that 911 -- and the Republicans can get away with an unprecedented level of political obstructionism and brinkmanship, without penalty from the media or the voters?
A comment to a discussion how Ryan is a loyal Republican but bad for the country. Again, pick is truth in advertising.

Tulsi Gabbard

Via an email list, Sen. Gillibrand informed me Tulsi Gabbard won a race to seek election in Congress in November. I have no idea who this person is but her discussion of social issues alone makes her sound like someone I can support. Other things too.

It’s A Good Thing

Having Ryan on the ticket will make it difficult for the losers of the election to claim that the winners doesn’t have some claim to pursue their fiscal vision.
I agree that there is a certain honesty here though Romney might not specifically be aiming for that sort of thing.

Pop Up Video

A show and an experience, so no italics! Didn't know it until now, but new episodes of this fun show (music, trivia and word play ... can't go wrong) are available. [Few differences, including no final little summary at the end of the video. Old style better.]

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Rev. Joe (Film)

Loving Leah is a Hallmark favorite of mine and has a thing or two to say about personal faith, family, love and other good stuff. Good cast (women heavy) too. Love Yulin as a Jewish elder.

Four decades of film?

Ted Danson/Kathleen Turner (Body Heat) and Drew Barrymore (Firestarter) were in a couple 1980s films on the tube earlier, showing (Perfect Family / Big Miracle) they have had pretty long careers.


This is so depressing.  I think net it helps Obama, but that this is the competition (and it will be a race) is so depressing.

Judge: No right to same-sex marriage

Hawaii is one of thirty-nine states that, by provisions in their state constitutions or in state laws, restrict marriage to one man and one woman. Six states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriages. Voters in four states will vote on the issue in November: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington.
-- Lyle Denniston
This is found in a discussion about a 9th Cir. district judge who held that it does not violate the federal constitution to not protect same sex marriage.   It is important to note, since the quote is vague on the point, that Hawaii does not restrict marriage to one man and one woman (not "heterosexuals," so "gay marriage" is misleading) by constitutional fiat.  The law there -- one reason it is different from some other laws, including Prop 8 -- gave the legislature discretion.   The best of worst worlds.

The judge in the Prop 8 case ruled on this question broadly, even though Prop 8 allowed (as seen in the court of appeals) a more limited reach.  Litigants here are pressing for a broader result, the state recently passing a generous civil union law that still is not complete equality.  They lost, which realistically is to be expected given the state of the law, even though you can make the case.  My problem is the breadth of the opinion, another mega-effort, this time supportive of the law itself. 

First, Baker v. Nelson is more relevant when the state is denying marriage rights, but it still is doubtful it blocks this suit.  The reasons I linked to before still apply in part, including change in federal precedent and the specific state of the law (broad civil union rights) in the state.  Second, the reasoning to uphold the law is really specious, especially given the state is strongly protecting the unions via "civil union" protections. Third, it is a form of sex discrimination, which is put to a higher test. Fourth, rational basis without teeth is not warranted.  Finally, though one probably can go on, "marriage" has changed over the years, and why SSM should not be protected under it along with other modern expressions is unclear to me.

I share the concern in using "caution" here and I think it reasonable to uphold the law pursuant to current precedent. Civil unions broadly protects same sex couples and intermediate scrutiny possibly can be met by that policy.  I think heightened review should apply, but district court judges shouldn't lead the field in this area.  This isn't a blatant Prop 8 or DOMA situation. The justification, honestly, is still rather weak in my opinion push comes to shove, but such is the nature of cautious judicial change.  Long drawn out and somewhat preachy opinions of this sort, however, is ill advised in either direction. 

Expect a more restrained 9th Circuit opinion, just like it tempered the overboard (though quite convincing on various matters) mirror image of sorts of this opinion. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Big Miracle

It's a mini-miracle so many strands are put together so well (see commentary track for more detail) in this film. Note the film starts with a whale hunt, the whale yes dying, though apparently the book goes into a lot more somewhat lurid detail. Why we should care about three whales is a question the discerning viewer does have to face.

Ted Danson

Ted Danson, in Big Miracle, promotes protecting our oceans.  He noted in an interview some time ago (not this clip) the value of a careful bipartisan approach and the film does promote that. 

Big Miracle

An original account of the the real events behind this movie was entitled Freeing the Whales: How the Media Created the World's Greatest Non-Event and it in reality was more messy. But, it still is fairly accurate and the resulting film is rather enjoyable. Nice extras.

States Against Federalism

Again, the DOMA litigation here involves Section Three -- federal benefits for couples already married by the state. Not states required to recognize them (that's section two) or do them. So, this brief is truly gratuitous. And, again, not Baker v. Nelson. It isn't THAT hard.

Jack of All Trades (TV Nostalgia Alert)

Turns out Washington being alive in 1801 is perhaps the most minor historical inaccuracy in this Bruce Campbell (well of course) adventure farce. The other show it was paired with has outfits made for soft porn and acting around the same. Fun for ten minute blocks.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

New Books

A bit behind schedule, but posted some new books, which generally have been commented about in the past as well.

The Perfect Family

A good and well acted film about a troubled lifelong Catholic (Kathleen Turner) up for an award who has to face her quite imperfect family. Contra here, it is not really "anti-Catholic," down to supportive clergy. Turner and the director provides a decent commentary track.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Elizabeth Banks Rules

Another reason to like her.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Marvin Wilson Executed

Concerns of mental retardation notwithstanding, the USSC let his execution go without comment. A case where a dissent would have been appreciated. Meanwhile, this is understandable, but still seems like a case of not guilty by reason of insanity. State charges still open.

[Update: The debate here is if Texas has to accept the judgement of an expert or at least do more to refute it, but many basically assume the expert is right, so his mental retardation is a fact. Sort of talking past each other.]

We Are Better Than This

As a mom and concerned citizen, I have been looking for a way to discuss the Aurora tragedy intelligently and without snark. Dan Gross of The Center to Prevent Gun Violence seems to want the same. 

-- Elizabeth Banks 
The petition accepts "the right to keep and bear arms," but wants to work together to "look for solutions that will save lives." 

Monday, August 06, 2012

The Closer

We found the leak (Gabriel via his law student gf) which makes sense but it is anti-climatic. Tonight's mystery was pretty lame. As has been the lead-up to the spin-off. Quite disappointed with this send-off (one episode left) of Brenda Lee. Mix of bummer, lame and forced.

Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US

August 6, 2001.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

The Yemen tourist board has warned would-be British holidaymakers that it does not have a salmon fishing industry, after a surge of interest due to Ewan McGregor's new film.
Enjoyable film (for adults) overall on various levels, including the leads, covering a lot of ground. Takes it time, which is fine. Did not read the book, which is different (and darker) in various ways.

Sunday Night TV

Army Wives (another lethal event!) & Newsroom (OBL death) not that good, though only saw a few minutes of the latter.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Black wedding banned by Baptist church

The governor publicly supported the right of "any couple" to get married, but reassured people that didn't mean same sex couples. The bit about lawyers getting involved is ill advised though, since stupid or not, a church has the right to marry who they want.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Anti-1A Abortion Laws

 The right of the doctor to advise his patients according to his best lights seems so obviously within First Amendment rights as to need no extended discussion.

-- Poe v. Ullman (Justice Douglas)
An interesting discussion how laws burdening abortion rights have 1A implications as I have covered in the past.

PPACA Keeps On Giving

Forty-seven million women are getting greater control over their health care and access to eight new prevention-related health care services without paying more out of their own pocket beginning Aug. 1, 2012, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today.
Thanks Democrats. Screw you (not that way) Republicans.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Advocate Discusses Her USSC Experience

A video of the successful advocate in a plea bargaining case this term can be found here.  She apparently never listened to any orals, given her surprise at the tone of hers.

More on 13A

The inquiry is what are the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States? We [royal "we"] feel no hesitation in confining these expressions to those privileges and immunities which are fundamental; which belong of right to the citizens of all free governments, and which have at all times been enjoyed by citizens of the several States which compose this Union, from the time of their becoming free, independent, and sovereign. What these fundamental principles are it would be more tedious than difficult to enumerate. They may all, however, be comprehended under the following general heads: protection by the government, with the right to acquire and possess property of every kind and to pursue and obtain happiness and safety, subject, nevertheless, to such restraints as the government may prescribe for the general good of the whole.
Justice Washington provided this influential definition of the "privileges and immunities" of citizenship as applied to the provision in Art. IV.   Madison in Fed. 54 noted that society in effect artificially limits the natural rights of slaves and once slavery was removed, they would be in equal standing (at least for purposes of representatives).  This suggests the possible reach of the Thirteenth Amendment: once slavery was removed, everyone would have the basic rights of citizenship or at least freedom (the former perhaps raising issues of voting and such).

And, the revolutionary federal enforcement article would provide the central government the power to do what was primarily left to the states: enforcement, even against private action, of violations.  The breadth of this principle is seen by those who connected the 13A with the Declaration of Independence with its broad protection of natural rights and reference to government "securing" such rights.  The collection of essays touches upon this though it for some reason barely references the Northwest Ordinance, which has an early form of the text and the editor of the work has written another book and other writings supporting the open-ended approach, also writing a book on the DOI itself. 

The potential of constitutional provisions is seen in various areas from federal powers to rights found in the Bill of Rights, text provided without some express limit of how far to take it.  There were cases, however, where further action was taken to limit certain potential paths. For instance, using the Bill of Rights to help ensure potentially open-ended federal powers were not taken too far.  The Fourteenth Amendment also has this function.  Some thought the 13A gave the federal government to broadly define and protect (even against private action -- it is a rare case where a federal constitutional right is so protected; another would be travel)  rights, including the nature of federal citizenship.  Controversy led to the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, which covers such ground.

The question then remains what the 13A itself covers.  The basic idea is to determine the reach of the "badges and incidents of slavery,"basically the "penumbra" (again showing the Griswold concept is fine, even if you find the word funny) of the bare prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude.  Current precedent gives Congress some degree of discretion here [thus, one might have certain rights arising from this amendment only as a result of legislation, while something like freedom from bondage is so clear that the 13A is "self-executing" on the matter], including banning private racial discrimination in housing, a concurring opinion suggesting the possible further reach here.  Lower court opinions have more recently upheld federal hate crime legislation and the Supreme Court itself noted "race" at the time included Jews and Arabs, thus some degree of religious discrimination applies too. 

We are told that a turn of the 20th Century opinion (with two justices dissenting, Justice Harlan finding a friend) that held that interfering on account of race to enjoy employment was not covered was wrongly decided.   Harlan dissented in The Civil Rights Cases and Plessy, in part holding state supported racial discrimination, including regarding "private" businesses (if involving "public" accommodations) were a type of "badge" of slavery.  Yes, it was present even in free states, but the overall idea of treating blacks differently arose from the same basic mind-set that allowed slavery.  Ditto things like miscegenation laws though even Harlan accepted that sort of thing, though some did not.

Congress (states always having the power to individually address it) eventually used the Commerce Clause to handle this sort of thing, but a few justices at the time this came in front of the USSC were a bit wary of merely relying on that sort of thing.  It was a bit too materialistic in a fashion to treat people as merely aspects of commerce (a bit ironic too) when the basic principle of racial discrimination provided a higher value.  Public accommodations had enough state action to meet 14A requirements.  The book also noted that unions in the early 20th Century also fought with some allies who did not want to rely on the 13A (true contractual freedom, given the power of big business, required union freedom) over the Commerce Clause.  The more pragmatic approach had immediate value, but long term, did not adequately do the job.

The last point again opens up the question of scope.  The basic core of the amendment is freedom of contract, thus it was one of the few areas that even the "Lochner Court" honored respecting civil liberties writ large.  The book, however, noted that in time such a let's say atomistic view of things was seen as too limited.  During the New Deal, there the federal government recognized that the 13A included some degree of protection of workers beyond the mere ability to leave employment without being arrested (peonage laws guarding against this even if you are in debt, which was a standard thing for the masses under let's say Southern shareholder systems).  Some minimum degree of protection of workers were necessary too.  A later essay notes how this also applies to immigrant workers, even those undocumented.  The 13A applies to all.  A situation where the government, and even private parties under its jurisdiction, is limited even when citizens are not involved or even home soil (e.g., no slavery by the U.S. government on the high seas). 

This suggests the potential broad reach even if we stick to the core concerns of the amendment: free labor, which is not merely a matter of race discrimination.  Race clearly is a core issue here, particularly the social definition of "black," though even in the 1860s there were matters involving Asians, Latinos and Native Americans.  So, things like racial profiling (e.g., the use of the Exclusionary Rule here too) and hate crimes also raise 13A concerns, again the potential reach to private parties showing why the 14A is not enough here.  Use of Confederate flags on state property is also argued to be a "badge" of slavery by some.  And, since later amendments add gloss to earlier ones, this might even possibly help deal with concerns that hate crime laws interfere with the 1A. 

The most expansive reach of the amendment would go beyond labor and race relations to deal with open-ended protections of freedom as a whole.  There are various levels here too though.  I linked to a form of the chapter in the book arguing (though Dawn Johnsen even citing the argument in a footnote helped block her nomination to the OLC -- still rankles)  that abortion freedom is a 13A matter.  I think it is a reasonable argument: you are being required to labor (quite literally) for another, opting out is allowed even when you consent (if that word even works in many cases here) and lack of freedom over reproduction was an evil of slavery.  Another area would be spousal or child abuse. Proper legislative responses aside, this reasonably can be seen as a sort of "slavery."

Finally, there is an open-ended idea that various basic aspects of freedom, beyond direct or indirect coercion of the sort cited or "badges" of slavery like hate crimes or flags, such as freedom over your personal life.  Thus, just as some in the 1860s noted slaves could not make basic family decisions, who you marry (including same sex partners) would have 13A implications as would IVF choices or making basic health decisions.  Personally, though I see the logic there, I think that is better seen as a 14A matter, which addresses open-ended rights citizens and in many cases all people enjoy, while the 13A has a certain more restrictive reach.

Slavery would help define some of these rights as a sort of anti-canon to determine natural rights by their absence.  A closer call would be the reach of federal hate crimes as applied to non-racial categories, such as sexual orientation or sex/gender.  There, a healthy application of the 14A, including accepting states not properly protecting rights equitably (see, e.g., Breyer's dissent in U.S. v. Morrison) would also help.  The matter of truly free labor would be to me the most fruitful area, especially in this time of anti-union efforts, including proper treatment of immigrants.

As noted, the collection covers much of this ground, though I found a few of the essays a trudge and not quite as comprehensive view of the history of the amendment (though a few essays cover the ground) as I would have liked.  Also, the editor does have a book he himself wrote that covers the amendment is regular book form for those interested.  Looks fairly good though I didn't have an interest as such to read it as well. 

Lame Duck Period

I talk about the current "lame duck" period here among other things. I think it's good to have some time between presidential terms. We can speed things up perhaps, but some time is a good idea.

The Promises of Liberty: The History and Contemporary Relevance of the Thirteenth Amendment

This collection of essays on the 13A is a mixed bag and would have liked more on its early judicial enforcement. Still, essays on abortion, unions and other issues are of interest. Some wish to apply it broadly, which is okay, but the 14A was passed in part to limit that, fwiw.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

RIP Gore Vidal

A relevant page. And, (see bottom), it's great another small victory occurred, but others managed to deal with SSM etc. matters in less than 100 pages. Seems tad gratuitous, especially a district ruling. More notable is the judge involved.