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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Ah New York City. In the 1970s, there was a blackout. Barely remember it. The next blackout that I had to deal with (over here in the Bronx) was in 2003. I didn't even notice it at first, since I was outside and it was in the middle of the day. It ended the next day. In between, of course, was 9/11. I took a train from mid-town late that afternoon. Since then, I had to take a bus in from a neighboring county because weather conditions shutdown the overhead train for part of a day. Minor inconvenience.

Sandy shutdown the transit system Sunday night. Buses were running early evening Tuesday (free of charge temporarily; I saw a few today) and train service began today (limited subway service will start again tomorrow). Schools were closed for three days. I went to public school for a portion of my years. I don't remember a single snow day. Three days?  The libraries were closed for three (many are due open tomorrow). Again, I don't remember the system as a whole EVER being closed, though certain library branches might have been closed, for even a day. 

And, I lost power for two days.  Given how bad things have gotten in NY and NJ, this is fairly trivial.  These things sometimes are announced and nothing comes of them.  It was windy Monday morning when I went to the bank (I had to go a bit further, the local one closed), but nothing much seemed to happen immediately for much of the day.  Things were getting bad elsewhere, showing some cause for the scary alarm Gov. Christie (Obama's new bromance buddy) and Mayor Bloomberg (and his sign language interpreter, except for his fake sounding Spanish summaries) set off as the Jets was stinking Sunday afternoon.  Still, here it seemed okay.

It really was.  There was no flooding in the basement, trees around here took it worse in other storms and chunks of the area didn't lose power.  Actually, and this sort of annoyed me, two blocks away had power.  I felt like it was some sort of sci-fi movies where you cross some barrier and oooh look it's the 19th Century.  Did have a gas stove.  There was a big bang in the middle of the MNF game and then the power went out.  Survived.  Used that walkman (remember them?), flashlight and even some candles.  Took those cold showers.  Was annoyed people near me had power.  Listened to the devastation in other areas.  Had perspective.

To pass the time, I listened to the local sports radio station, which has a large audience from various areas more affected than I (no close family were in those areas), so the storm was a major theme.  Personally, it got to be a bit much, but understand the need to talk and vent.  Major upset that at first they were going to have a Nets game in their new stadium in the NYC, which would be a problem to get to given the transit situation.  Latest thing was that the marathon is still on for Sunday.  I'm not as upset about that as others -- I think things will be okay enough by then.  It is a major diversion and the personnel can be handled for the day.  If the route is a problem, wouldn't they cancel it?  If subways can run, that can go on.

The key sports guy noted that Obama should have things locked up now, that Romney's main man Christie is palsy-wallsy with Obama now and it's a chance for Obama to look presidential and it would make Romney look like  a tool to criticize him.  I was flipping thru the radio and passed Rush and caught him dissing Obama.  You know -- it's like sports, it is like things are all normal or something.  It isn't really.  Talk of billions of dollars.  People in other parts of the metro area out of power for more, others lost their homes.  No, this isn't Florida or Louisiana.  Still, there is a sense of normalcy.  Even with this, after a few days, the city is starting to normalize.  Wall Street was trading today.  The art museum was open.  There was trick and treating.  Life goes on.

And, the Supreme Court was back with the dog sniff cases.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Romney Doesn't Like The Constitution: Sandy Edition

"Absolutely," he said. "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that's even better.
The Constitution suggests the right direction to protect the "general welfare" is often the national government. MR disagrees. I don't.

USSC Isn't Closed

Calm before the storm in NYC though for some reason transit was shut down last night. Let's see how bad it really is here. Meanwhile, USSC and Kory Stamper working. [Update: Tu orals were shifted to TH. KS' plans not updated as of yet.]

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Giants Hang On (Yeah It's FINALLY over)

Six turnovers and they barely win 29-24. A TD stopped by literally fingertips late during one final drive. After NYG barely did not ice it, Dallas not only gets the ball back but later manage three plays in final ten seconds. Chargers' 7-6 element aided loss also was pretty sad. [Update: The other Giants close it out in the bottom of the 10th. Lame WS.]

Rev Joe: Tom Gets One Right

I concur, including generally not liking the guy, that his true "pro-life" column was on the money, putting aside TF putting it in action. There are such people; rarely in office. I think that sort of consistent ethic fine though think abortion (not my call) correct at times.

NFL Update (Early Games)

Jets choked last week; this week they just stunk. Carolina and Seattle blew it in the 4Q, the former worse. Both lost. No win after a bye for the Eagles. Patriots dominated in London. Packers scored moderately but enough; Colts in OT. Meanwhile, NYG are currently making what was a nice little lead into a difficult 2H. Up by two, was up by 13 at Half.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

And Also

So, there are various sides to this abortion/rape issue, but there is a reason to be pissed off at him. This is normal for the controversy of the moment. Colbert made another point -- all this rape talk from Republicans, not ideal for their cause. But, unsure how much they WANTED to talk about it. They were, thankfully, pressed to defend the logic of their position.

"Mourdock’s remark was an(other) attack on consent"

MHP had an eloquent response here. The bottom line is that the personal belief cited is his to make, but so is the one for the women makes. That ultimately is what is offensive, though some are offended by even the belief anything is God endorsed about rape or its results. This isn't about theology, however, it is about public policy. Those offended know that.

Lawrence O'Donnell Votes Early

The value of online video and rapid download lets me pick and choose and the subject topic was a civic nerd's dream with him having former Gov. Davis to help vote on a myriad of ballot measures (see also, Florida). And, I thought needing to vote for party delegates in the primary was dumb. This is insane. Such is the value of representative government.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Judge Goodwin Liu

Seems to be doing fine on the California Supreme Court and its a nice consolation prize after his rejected federal appeals nomination, one largely based on him being mean to nominee Alito, after spending over ten pages explaining why he opposed him. But, I know the deal on these things. Blocking a Victoria Nourse is more troubling. Anyway, he's a future star.

Atheists Getting Bad Name

An op-ed on atheists being trusted about as much as rapists spends a lot of time on a noisy subset who make people uncomfortable which is akin to gays pointing to a few out there sorts at gay pride parades. I'm not big on the rub their noses in it crowd, but still. Meanwhile, the male asshole subset also probably is present in other causes. Still, stop it.

Rizzoli & Isles

I took out the First Season DVD last weekend and it's decent (lightweight) entertainment, especially skipping over the melodrama. A more recent episode was amusing given the goofy dad on Wizards of Waverly Place played a psycho. Another time, the vicious rapist on The Closer was FBI. With so many shows, picking a familiar face is a fun parlor game.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Sports

Giants up 2-0 after winning 2-0. Ugh. They were supposed to let Detroit go ahead 3-1 first! After TB had a shot to tie on the last play, a quick turnaround led to them to find offense v. the Viks. 36-17. Viks needed to come back to earth anyhow. I don't care about hockey.

John Irving Alert

The God blessing the child of rape bit reminds me of The Cider House Rules, where the main character determined that if he performed abortions in case of rape or incest, consistently, he had to give the woman a choice on the matter in each case. It simply is not the only "compelling" case and consistency leads to a pro-choice position on the merits.

Libertarians for Republicans

I have pushed back repeatedly at Volokh Conspiracy in recent threads where the Republican Party, on balance of evil grounds, is deemed more libertarian. The arguments are repeatedly selective and tedious. Both parties are somewhat libertarian on certain issues. Clear. On balance, Obama is more so (less clear, but on points, yes). I'll put that aside to say that the "libertarian" leaning Republican underlines why so many are cynical about them as a whole.

Third Option in November?

The debate can be found here. Didn't see it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

English Class Trope or Road to Adulthood?

A bit rough, but an admirable attempt to seriously examine a teen's desire to grow up quick via a questionable plan while her young single mom hasn't quite grown up herself.  Some familiar faces do an overall good job dealing with an atypical film subject.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Saw about 1/2 of this film & was basically bored with it. Looked decent, but the story was boring and SW fairly weak. Even the bad um gal isn't seen enough to be of much interest.

The disposition matrix

Sounds creepy (and it is on some level), but as rea notes, if it is going to occur, formalized rules seem better, right? The mix of positions in the comments are standard and my addition follows my standard theme too. Like SSM and PPACA, there is a certain "this again" feel to these discussions. But, the big questions never leave us.

Extreme Logic

“even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Sounds horrible, but if God controls all, everything is somehow his "intention." More here, but these things are "teaching moments," they show where simplistic "pro-life" stances lead.

Paying the Price for Circumventing the Civilian Justice System

President Obama and Attorney General Holder began their term with a plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and to conduct civilian criminal trials for at least some detainees. When Congress blocked those plans, the Obama Administration worked on mending, not ending, the system of military commissions.
Yeah. Ditto on the article's last comment as to it being better if we just followed the regular rules in the first place. Hard to unring the bell now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pot Wars: Continued

Colbert shined last night, including a segment on Gov. Cuomo's (he has his moments) plan to tie legislative pay raises to addressing a dubious quirk (discriminatory) in state pot laws. Meanwhile, a good "guide" to state level legalization efforts here. Like, SSM, less federal barriers to state by state reform: better than nothing and pragmatically useful.

Religious Employers’ Legal Challenges to Health Care Law’s Coverage of Contraception on Wobbly Legal Ground

The PPACA contraceptive mandate is well defended by an issue brief here. A reference to Ella brings to mind the border between contraceptives and abortifacients since that works five days after sex, more likely involving a fertilized egg. I find the "line" dubious anyways.


The Lions simply never got in gear, and when they had chances, they blew them.
Cute alert: "pre-loved cars," a sign at an used cars lot.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Sure. The match-up everyone expected. Anyway, wouldn't it be ideal to have the debate tomorrow, when there aren't two nationally televised games, if both rather lame? Admittedly, one side of the debate in the eyes of many was lame too.

And, you think YOU Have Drama!

Reading her The Drama Years: Real Girls Talk About Surviving Middle School—Bullies, Brands, Body Image, and More & it's like a mix of ethnocultural study and self-help.  I don't have a daughter, but it's still interesting and these girls are key to our future.

TRY To Seriously Examine The Issues Alert

Listening to the Fisher AA case, I can relate Linda Greenhouse's "primary reaction ... of embarrassment" as the conservatives ridiculed the idea of critical mass and ignored the reality that there is something called "race" in this country. The hard questions of the case were not taken seriously, the desire simply to overturn Grutter (plaintiffs claim to not deem necessary) apparent. The Fifth Circuit after all is not liberal and held for the school.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sports Sunday

The Reds couldn't close the deal. The Cards will have one more shot at it. Series tied. In the NFL, a few games had some interest, but no big surprises as to result. Painful moment for this writer was NYJ: you lose as expected, fine, but not like that. No moral victories.

Please Don't Act Like Beavis (Heh heh!)

MHP like here noted ridicule of funny sounding "binders" should not miss the wider question: was Romney serious about what sounds like affirmative action? If the facts behind the incident and his views overall are iffy, THAT is the problem, not him sounding stupid.

R.I.P. George McGovern

The kudos are valid but so are "John's" comments here.

Rev. Joe ("Reverend King Spoke to Atheists, Too")

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., was first and foremost a devout Christian, a preacher of the word of God. All of his teachings were profoundly rooted in his religious faith. Yet he was always careful to express his thoughts in secular as well as religious terms. You did not have to be Christian, or be religious in any way, to get the message. Reverend King spoke clearly and eloquently to atheists, too.

His faith told him that God is a personal God. Every person is a child of this same God, created in His image. So every one of us is a "soul of infinite metaphysical value." Each of us has a sacred value and dignity. Since God has infinite freedom, each of us created in his image has a right to the fullest possible freedom. Rev. King spent his life, and gave his life, struggling for everyone's right to be free.

But suppose you don't believe in God? Well, Rev. King said, just think about your life and use your common sense. You know that you are a unique person with a unique set of potentials. You want to the right be free, to make the choices that you believe will realize your potentials to the fullest.
From an article I re-discovered.  It is debatable how inclusive "religious" is and not believing in God need not cause you to be on the outside there.  But, the most inclusive and successful religious leader, at least one who is trying to change society in some fashion, is inclusive. Also:
Paul O'Neill, former Secretary of the Treasury in the George W. Bush administration, recently wrote: "In a civilized society we have a responsibility to take care of our own needs." Rev. King would have gently pointed out that the truth is just the opposite. In a truly civilized society, we would all recognize a responsibility to take care of each other's needs.
Remember him?  You know, someone cited as a sane voice in the Bush Administration, who to me calls to mind the 1990s Yankee OF.  This is my sentiment to, the idea "we the people" have government in large part (to quote the Preamble of the Constitution) to "promote the general welfare."   Ultimately, on some level, we are in the world alone, but clearly we cannot survive well if at all that way.  Such sentiments lead me and others, beyond other things, to think opposition to PPACA as some sort of big threat on individual liberty in part rather selfish. 

[Last two paragraphs added.]

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"everything happens for a reason"

One character in the book voices the sentiment that everything happens for a reason and not just in a cause/effect way.  I don't think that.  We can give meaning to things but the meanings aren't the reason for the event (such as a bad event)..  Or, so it seems to me.

Double Pleasure, Double Pain

I did an image search for Double Pleasure, Double Pain by Nikki Rashan and you can imagine some of the hits without a filter.  The actual cover of the version (paperback) of this work of "urban fiction," which is now a separate section at the library is eye catching enough. It has a sexy looking black woman covering her body with a big hat.  Another version of the cover has two sexy women (not quite representative of the characters) on it.  A third more restrained version is more accurate:  a woman with a child looking on as a woman and man are together, the woman furtively looking back.  The women are attractive but not "sexy" and it is a more simplistic looking picture, not glossy etc.

The recent DOMA opinion makes the book somewhat topical [the author, who uses a pen name, was married via a commitment ceremony recently], but that wasn't the reason why I picked it up.  It was a fun looking paperback and a down to earth, quick "beach read" sort of thing with characters that drew you in.  The author has her own "coming out" story, so could probably relate to the basic story -- a twenty-something black woman who has a nice enough life with a long term boyfriend is shocked when she falls for a woman, forming a connection that takes things to the next level. It goes on a bit long (and one "surprise" is really not surprising) and the character comes off a bit naive and unable to choose (suggested by years of being a "part time student"). 

I don't think it is laid on that thick though and it far from unbelievable given how some people are in real life.  There are various nuances to the characters that are interesting and real (the woman, e.g., has a child after being raped). The ending also is not quite what you might expect.  I plan to read the sequel and probably will check out the book that she is reading here, which examines the complications of social media in relationships. An interesting idea. Anyway, my paperback copy is dated "2007," so I wondered why things occurred a few years earlier. But, the above link is dated earlier, so I guess just that copy was so published.

The last "urban" like book I read was probably one where a woman who scopes out other women's husbands has a "road to Damascus" experience while trying to get close to a target's innocent wife.  I didn't read the sequel there, it was awhile ago really, but the story caught my eye. Quick reading fiction, including romances and "redemption story" type books (as this previous book was -- some Christian press type of thing)  can be as useful both as entertainment and moral advancement as more serious sorts of things.  This book was fairly serious, even with the bit too lucky main character (two real sexy well put together possibilities* ... then she not only wins a radio contest but wins the Grand Prize!) and other forgivable touches, but these sorts of books do tend to have some melodrama or over the top touches.

We are rooting for you Kyla!


* If one that turned out to be something of an ass.

Rev. Joe / Lethal Injections

He didn't have much time, but it was nice that a religious voice (a Catholic priest) was added to the Up round table. Meanwhile, interesting article on lethal injection, including the lack of due care in decision-making and a useful list of state practice.

Friday, October 19, 2012

USSC Consider Two Death Penalty Cases

The USSC denied and granted stays of executions, both not very sympathetic characters in various respects.  Justice Breyer would have granted one stay (probably per his opposition to executions for those on death row for decades)  to the one relying mainly on mental health issues.  That one being "a Florida death row inmate convicted in 1978 for his role in eight murders on two separate occasions." Real bad people are involved here, but even the sympathetic might accept his execution. 

The one that obtained temporary relief is a cop killer.  He lost in the past in an unanimous per curiam.  Someone who is notable for an eighteen month total murder to execution time (and one of the single digit executions over the last century in the state) killed while trying to escape. The latter is definitely one of those "what about if the woman was raped" sort of cases though several states have no death penalty along with most countries (Japan is an exception) that do not have exceptions.  The death penalty can be like torture -- even the "hard cases" does not justify it.

 The death penalty in action has various problems and they apply to the "hard cases" too.  Three people were executed by the federal government since 1963, including Timothy McVeigh, someone who murdered a servicewoman and a drug kingpin (for some reason, the USSC listed this as an "offense against the State"), though something like 50 are on death row.  Let's say the first half of that period.  Were no really heinous crimes involved or even murders of prison personnel? Take even McVeigh.  Someone was convicted of aiding him.  No death penalty.  And, heinous crimes still can involve various issues (such as the denial here) that means a death sentence is not warranted.  Many places survive without it.

Still, and some of the USSC opinions* striking down death sentences or mandatory life imprisonment for minors do not avoid this, we are deal with some really horrible stuff here.  I don't think killing people with needles is the way to handle it, but realize we are not just dealing with some troubled person who killed someone in a robbery or something.  Not trivial in itself.  We are talking some really horrible crimes and situations.


* Take Kennedy v. Louisiana, involving rape of a child:
Petitioner’s crime was one that cannot be recounted in these pages in a way sufficient to capture in full the hurt and horror inflicted on his victim or to convey the revulsion society, and the jury that represents it, sought to express by sentencing petitioner to death.
Justice Kagan also spelled out the crime in a case that required individualized sentencing for minors, even for homicides. Some death penalty supporters imply otherwise, shoving facts in your face as if you don't realize what these people did. 

More Marriage Discrimination

I am reading the R. Crumb graphic novel version of Genesis (very good) that was added to the side panel and a book referenced by the author is discussed here. Interesting article by a Jewish writer, who references the religious discrimination in marriage in another entry.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sports Update

SF, after six quarters, managed to score a TD & won a close one 13-6. Seattle's defense did the job overall but the offense was lacking. The Jets even gave SF a bit of trouble early on. Don't know how great SF is this year. Cards won again. Up 3-1. Sigh.

Yanks: RIP

It's a shame really.  The Yanks managed two hits (two errors) and Sabathia didn't last four in a 8-1 coup de grace.  Scherzer was 16-7 (Sabathia 15-6), a fact skipped over by some who hoped for better tonight. Still, tired or not, that's a pathetic way to finish.  Cards up 2-1 and are likely favorites, but at least the Giants (no offensive juggernaut) is showing some life.

Second Circuit Strikes Down DOMA Section 3

It would appear that the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which is defending DOMA, has now lost at least six cases in a row — and spent about $1.5 million doing so.
As noted here, with the opinions in easy to accessible format, the Second Circuit struck down section three of DOMA in a 2-1 vote while also (the question open) holding intermediate scrutiny was warranted for sexual orientation. The 1CA used a sort of heightened rational basis review because of the animus involved and the federalist concerns (used by the 2CA, but to a much lesser degree), which might be called "rational basis with teeth."  This might appeal to Kennedy, and I think it works, but the case against DOMA is even stronger using intermediate scrutiny:
In this case, all four factors justify heightened scrutiny: A) homosexuals as a group have historically endured persecution and discrimination; B) homosexuality has no relation to aptitude or ability to contribute to society; C) homosexuals are a discernible group with non-obvious distinguishing characteristics, especially in the subset of those who enter same-sex marriages; and D) the class remains a politically weakened minority.
Both opinions were written by conservatives, the chief judge of the 2CA here however having a dissenter, a Clinton appointee who also provided a conservative stance in a "partial birth" abortion case.  Judicial nomination wars still matter, but judges are not always knee-jerk.  And, sometimes, constitutional principles are advanced by conservatives.  The arguments against DOMA are by now standard, which might be why the ruling was handed down but a few weeks after oral argument.

The dissent noted it was bound by Baker v. NelsonIt is not.  "Traditional" marriage was cited by the dissent.  But, why are any number of other aspects of "traditional" marriage that went by the way-side not relevant?  Coverture was part of that too.  Or, no sex before marriage.  Even miscegenation bans were quite "traditional."  The selective use of the word "tradition" is of a piece of selectively burdening state sponsored same sex marriages, a product of bias and discrimination, a selective concern that might be accepted by good people, but still wrong.

The plaintiffs in these cases are rather sympathetic, though who can beat the Lovings?  An eighty something year old widow who is burdened by hundreds of thousands of more taxes is surely up there. Let me end addressing something that confused someone on this thread, though perhaps (giving the sneering tone) the person just didn't care.  Yes, the opinion referenced marriage being "a virtually exclusive province of the states," but this doesn't mean general constitutional limits do not apply.  That was used (more so in the 1CA) to address the power of Congress here over marriage.  The same could be said about intrastate commerce, local crime control or education. There still are limits, like ex post facto laws or equal protection.  Federalism just makes DOMA that much worse.

Ever onward for equality & against this invidious legislation, at least this section of it. 


I liked parts of the series premiere but turned off last night's episode. The political subplot is topical but not interesting to me, I'm not liking the young bitchy rival and is the kids liking her while the mom drives them going to be an every episode thing?  Should like Homeland, the season premiere was quite good, but it's like too angst filled or something.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Academic Subpoena Conflict USSC Action

The USSC vet summarizes:
Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer on Wednesday temporarily blocked subpoenas issued by the British government for papers collected in an academic project at Boston College about the history of the Irish Republican Army’s violent resistance to British rule in Northern Ireland. The subpoenas are part of a United Kingdom criminal probe into the death of a former IRA member who allegedly had served as an informer for the British government. Breyer’s order will remain in effect if the two researchers challenging the subpoenas file a formal appeal of the denial of their plea by the First Circuit Court in July.
Interesting issue.  The order is linked in the article via a .pdf file (tedious things), but (again) didn't see the order on a specific section of the USSC website that would seem to be the place for it.  This is not the first time that such an order by a justice has been provided by SCOTUSBlog by scanned copy, instead of (unlike orders of the whole court in various cases) accessible at the Court's website for the general reader. 

The author of the piece nicely explained  that it can be searched by docket number (12A310) on that section of the website, but (agreeing with me that it is ill advised), not on the section marked "orders."  The average person doesn't know the docket number and (unlike USSC reporters) do not get the orders handed out to or emailed to them directly.  The USSC website has various useful things, but along with needing to go to Oyez.com to obtain last term's audio for opinion announcements, it has not quite become full service.  See also, most justices (other than Stevens) not usually providing a transcript of speeches for the speech page.

We take what we can get.  

Debate Benefits

I cited an anti-debate discussion, but do think they have some benefit. Realistically, the average voter doesn't research a candidate that well. I'm no saint in this respect and more studious than many. The debate provides an (imperfect) means to get a sense of the candidates/their positions on various issues with feedback from various sources.

Fish Tank

Very good film, almost documentary-like with minimal dialogue, of a troubled English teen (excellent first performance) and her relationship with her mom's bf. Two hours is too long though and the last half hour didn't quite work for me. Meanwhile, colorful and detailed book (didn't someone say life was complicated?) put out by this coffee chain.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Romney/Yanks Lose

Any other baseball fans wondering why the phrase “binders full of women” from the presidential debate is all over twitter?
From the NYT Yankee/Detroit live blog. Yeah, Obama seems to have done well. Yanks lost 2-1, again showing a bit of life real late. Both checked via online sources.

Collin McHugh

Guy might not be ready for the MLB, but he's a good writer. Got to root for a guy like that. Baseball fandom is not just about talent. One reason that I no longer root for the Yanks. How can you root for such a corporate entity? Also, look pretty tired these days.


Prof. Dorf is right to be dismissive overall, putting aside there might be some limited value to them.  Net, as I have noted, not for me.  More here.

Monday Night Sports

After special teams and the QB were horrible in the first half, Denver had yet another big deficit, but SD is the sort of team game to blow it. Blowing 24-0 to 35-24 and it was as much SD blowing it than anything else is pretty bad though. Cards finally had a bad game.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Six Somewhat Simple Rules

People Like Us offers six rules that a character's father told him to follow in life. The concept seems interesting, though not sure about the number -- seemed a bit high -- so I tried to set forth a few of my own. Turns out that around six might be right, though some basic rules (ala the two greatest commandments) can be imagined to window things down to fewer than that.  Here is a possible list:
  1. Don't be a dick. Basic rule in life. The word is crass, but with reason -- it isn't just being wrong or anything. It is being a real jerk. You can make mistakes, everyone does. It also is not a matter of weakness. Some people have limitations that are not character flaws. Different from being a dick.
  2. Do the little things. They might add up. That's just a bonus. The point here is that it isn't that hard to do the little things and they can mean a lot sometimes.  If not, they are something and there is no real good reason not to do them.  Little things also can be little saving things during a lousy day or time in your life. [Addendum: Don't know if it is a "little thing," but doing a good job is important to me, even for what many might not see as important or worth the effort.  To me, this isn't "too much to ask."]
  3. Life is complicated.  If something is important or a matter of some dispute, chances are that there are complications. There are various nuances.  It is not black and white.  Not even this rule is, since certain things are pretty black and white.  Like not murdering people.  But, all killing isn't "murder."  See also, "assassination." [Addendum: Successful films and everything are also complicated since they have so many parts. Thus, my continual mention of supporting cast and other parts of a good film.]
  4. Treat people as individuals. This includes realizing they are human.  They aren't perfect. It might take a bit of effort to understand where they are coming from, etc. Since they are human.  Also, being human means basic rights and respect.   You don't have to like them or anything.  They might be scum in many ways.  But, they are still people and have basic rights.
  5. Be guided by certain values. Life to have any meaning or value that is more than merely living requires being guided by certain values, be it religious, philosophical, moral or whatever. This is a basic catchall, but it also means living by a certain basic code or philosophy.  In effect, have some basic purpose. [Addendum: Again, not sure if this is part of it or new rule -- maybe eight simple rules? -- but a positive mindset going into things is a basic value here for me.]
  6. Be honest and don't b.s. B.s. is not lying as such but a basic failure to respect the truth. A certain degree of knowledge is required here, a respect for education and learning.  Not being informed is the path to b.s., since you need to know certain basic things to not have an "indifference to how things really are." [Addendum: Going with #3, you are not going to be totally honest; have perspective here and someone is not a "liar" if they aren't perfect. A certain degree of privacy is also a good thing.]
I can play around with these rules some but they seem to get to some of the things of certain importance.  I can add some mega rules like not doing harm -- it is related to why I'm a vegetarian, but to me at first blush it is doing a little thing.  It is something I can do, like voting or trying to keep informed about certain issues.  Also, in effect, I think animals that are worthy of respect are a sort of "person," so rule #4 fits there.  Do not many people consider companion animals (pets) a type of person?

Anyway, no list is likely to be comprehensive or it will be so vague that it would be of limited value. Thus, the catchall Ninth Amendment or reference to "liberty" under the Due Process Clause.

Corporate Personhood & Political Speech Again

An interesting reply to a "progressive constitutional myth":
Waite knew that treating corporations as persons under the Fourteenth Amendment did not mean that they would be granted dangerous powers. In the eyes of the law, corporations had long been persons for some purposes and not for others. In the words of the philosopher John Dewey, they are “rights-and-duties-bearing agents.” Unlike, say, a dog or a cat, they can contract and they can act and speak through agents. They can hold property, and they can sue. But also unlike the family pet they can be sued and even prosecuted. And they cannot marry, vote, or run for office. In 1886, Chief Justice Waite’s notion that they were persons under the Fourteenth Amendment did not mean that legislatures would be unable to take into account relevant characteristics of the corporate form, such as its capacity to amass capital and promote certain moneyed interests, when designing regulations. That only came later.
For instance, during the so-called Lochner Era, the USSC upheld a law requiring corporations (including education corporations) to segregate.  The same would not apply to requiring a private group to segregate, which that would be less open to such regulation as compared to a corporation. Citizens United concerns where to draw a line in respect to the First Amendment, but no justice there thought corporations had no rights in that respect.  Similarly, probably no justice thought corporations had a right to be treated just like human persons in all respects.

This sort of thing troubles me since it is important to know the facts to properly respond to deal with the problems of corporate power.  In fact, various experts in this area cite history to show that it is traditional to regulate corporations to deal with the specific evils of that business form.  Corporations are not things that were invented by evil capitalists in the late 19th Century.  It was a useful legal form in place for centuries in some fashion.  This provided them with some rights.  But, also limits. Citizens United does not change this and putting aside that the law in question only this just so much, the horror stories of how democracy is dead now pursuant to the ruling is woefully overblown. 

Up with Chris Hayes [see also, his blog for more material] had some interesting stuff about employers getting their employees involved in political campaigns. The Margaret Cho look like legal expert he had noted that it would be a bad idea to just ban all political speech in the workplace.  For instance, though I can see the need for some sort of disclaimer, having the Koch Brothers send employees a letter endorsing a candidate to me is not something to be horrified about.  The vote is secret. They won't know who their employees vote for.  Merely letting employers express political views, including some that might be liberal leaning, is something that we should allow. After all, the Koch Brothers as individuals can surely do something of this sort. 

Required involvement of employees in actual political events is more problematic as is suggestions that their (employees) political activities will get them in trouble. A case where the problem might have been that the business itself was in a picture endorsing a political candidate or cause is something of a borderline case.  The expert noted that current laws seem to allow (though perhaps not for every state) you to be fired for supporting certain candidates, putting aside special cases such as the secretary for the local Republican campaign office.  That sort of thing is what we should worry about.  We need to pick the right battles.

Back to the beginning. The corporate form is an ancient legal invention that is in place to provide certain privileges to artificial persons but not to the level of an actual human person. This allows the state, when incorporating them, to set forth certain limits. This to me would include being non-ideological to the extent that the actual employees are not required to take part in political activities or burdened for doing so.  OTOH, corporations merely expressing support of candidates is different.  Note that even Chris Hayes realized the complications, even when some of what is allowed had a dark side.  But, that is true of many 1A things.

Serious problems here and misguided myth or cant won't stop them.  Cleaning up the mess is messy.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Week 6

Various good games -- NY dominated, Eagles/Dallas both just lost, Browns finally won, Falcons just won & Houston has a ways to go to not have them as the sole undefeated team. Seattle had an upset, resulting in a 3-3 tie for Jets & company. Meanwhile, the Yanks couldn't hit, though a good call might have made it 1-0 over 3-0. Down 0-2 either way.


I have a curse -- can't let trivia things and such go away. For instance, a blog comment referenced the title word in passing. Don't recall hearing about it. Had to look it up. See also, a reference to Ann Jillian, actress. Had to see how she's doing. (Not much, apparently).

Rev. Joe (BC Again?!)

Contraceptives and gay issues always are bound to up the comment stream at VC, since lame arguments are just so fun that they need to be made one more time!  Going past the basics, various comments explained how, uh, Biden didn't actually say anything wrong.  Don't let that stop you, faux libertarians! Meanwhile, ex-Met sighting of the night: Dotel.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Employees' Entrance

I spoke about Loretta Young's early film Big Business Girl, noting it was of some interest but not that good. This film is a superior work but less of a platform for Young, who is just a primary background figure here. She is a new employee dealing with forces of light and dark (see also, a similar character in Skyscraper Souls) as seen by two men in her life.  The video provided focuses on the tart of the film, who had a similar reputation at the time in real life, to her detriment.

The focus is the seemingly amoral manager of a large department store, struggling to deal with the early years of the Great Depression (1933).  Being "pre-code," the film provides a chance to suggest just how amoral, early on clearly hinting of Loretta Young (and I thought she was a good Catholic girl! well, other than with Clark Gable) sleeping with him to get a job and having a ready made office tart to do his dirty work.  That and (see also, Skyscraper Souls) a scene with the boss getting a young thing drunk with champagne is really the only "risque" parts of film. 

Being pre-Code, he doesn't really get his in the end either though the good girl does get the good guy (a rather weak character; the flaw in the film being no real satisfactory antagonist, Young's character in fact seems a bit better off with the manager -- as she says, it is not like she "hates him" or anything). As one review over at IMDB notes, in fact, the character is rather sympathetic.  He challenges the oh so proper and often moronic banker or socialite directors of the company, since he is the one who actually makes the tough decisions and does all the work.

In fact, as he tries to separate Young from his new assistant (they secretly married) and she tries to commit suicide after a confrontation, there is a race against time to get a proxy so that he can retain control and not lead to "retrenchment" (involving firing a lot of people).  We learn about his poor upbringing and all, and like another executive, many viewers (as things went crazy around them) could appreciate his man eat man mentality, even if there was some ugly results.  This underlines the need for a balance to such people and a check is lacking in this film.

It is a rather impressive view of the period, a fairly quick 1:15, that has that charm of a different sort of hero or anti-hero.  In Skyscraper Souls, the big man is killed by his mistress, who is shunted off for a younger model, saving the model in the process to marry the (now poorer, after an ill advised stock purchase by the misinformed mistress)  good guy.  Here, the film ends with him retaining control and making someone he earlier chewed up (in the process, the guy hardened and became a tougher businessman). Young's character wordlessly looks on while her wan hubby*  goes to her hospital room and promises to take her away.

The viewer might just take even the office trollop to that fate.  One is left to believe this must have been young Ayn Rand's favorite film of '33. 


* A rather funny scene underlined the point. After the manager lets the husband overhear him confront Young, including letting it out that she spent the night with him after she was married, Young takes poison (she earlier was going to commit suicide out of guilt but finds out the husband was out drunk on the floor while she spend the night with the manager).

The husband finally has it!  He confronts the manager with the vial of poison.  In response, the manager hands him a gun!  Point blank, the hubby only wings his arm.  The manager shoos everyone away after they heard the shot and calmly wraps a bandage around his bleeding arm.  How in the heck can the viewer respect such a drip who can't even shoot the guy right, the guy who slept with his wife and led her to poison herself?!

Libya and SC Voting Id Ruling

Good Up segments today on Libya today -- some screw-ups there, but the Romney (& R) response still is horrible. The preclearance (for 2013) of a voter id law in SC, meanwhile, is telling. It underlines the value of the Voting Rights Act, administrative pressure and even if okay per a basic minimum, it doesn't make the law ideal or okay as applied in various cases.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Yanks Ace Decides To Act Like One

So it all came down to not getting a clutch hit in the 8th inning. Detroit/Yanks up next. Who the hell cares about that match-up?! Other than one game, for one team, the scoring looked like some Mets game. It's like: get a freaking hit! Eh. Go Nats. [Update: Cards come back from the dead more times than Jason. Nats their latest victim.]

(Consistent) Libertarians For Obama

I'm tired of faux libertarian campaigns like this that might be more intelligent than others but still selectively skips over stuff as comments (e.g., by Joe) underline. I'm no big fan of Ron Paul, but this argument the other way seems more convincing.

Hmm. NCIS Repeat Is On ...

Unless you count Bomb Girls (which began to be run locally a month ago), Nashville is the only new show that I might be interested in so far. I thought Made in Jersey was lame, but bit surprised it was cancelled already. I didn't find Elementary, e.g., really more worth my time and MIJ (aka Legally Brunette?) had a shot at easy to take time waster with work.

ONE More Time For The AL East

The teams have already split 22 games this year, and it all comes down this: a matchup for a spot in the AL championship series against Detroit.
All division round games have gone to a Game 5. Reds choked (including after having a real shot to erase a 6-0 deficit) and Oakland's miracle run basically ended in the seventh.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

All Our Daughters

A model approach? Meanwhile, more faux libertarian spin.  "Libertarianism" is not the same thing as cutting federal spending and shifting certain things to local authorities.  Again, watching something other than the debate but apparently Biden is doing pretty good. 

People Like Us

Writer/director Alex Kurtzman knew that his father had been married before and had other children. Separated by age and distance, the siblings never met till he bumped into his sister at a party and she introduced herself. This personal situation was the inspiration for Kurtzman‘s film “People Like Us.”
We are told this film is "based on a true story," but having a separate family is just the start of things, so (like usually in these cases probably) it is silly even to toss that out there.  As adults, or even somewhat mature children, we learn about imperfections in life, and settle on things.  So, even stuff really meant to be mostly accurate isn't totally so.  We need to remember that sort of thing when watching docudrama, not just biblical type films. Then, there are those things where fact was merely a sort of launching pad.  "True story" is not quite what is at issue. 

The details of the two "families," the issue of a large inheritance that is haphazardly provided (one review that liked the film overall noted certain aspects just had to be taken on faith; this was one of them)  and probably other stuff was fictionalized.  This is seen when Elizabeth Banks* on the commentary track [MP has her own track; nice to see her in the film] asks the writer/director why her character was made an alcoholic and he wasn't totally sure.  You know, it is not like his sister was one, that's why.

This is a flawed film that works as a whole, more or less.  The basic story of a young guy struggling with his life that finds out about a half-sister and needs to make a choice and in the process in effect grow up works well.  The other characters' stories also do as well, including his mother (a somewhat unwritten role), girlfriend and the struggles of his half-sister / her troubled son.  Various details don't really do it for me.  After awhile, the brother holding back what he knows comes off a bit stupid (also, shades of those films where the guy knows something, the female character coming off as weaker in response, like You Got Mail). Also, Banks' character is good as a whole, but as a whole is a bit rough.

Still, there is a lot here with some nice / powerful details.  One thing that is particularly striking is the brother/sister relationship (the uncle/nephew relationship has a nice touch too).  The Disney show Wizards of Waverly Place is a case in point there -- as noted on the message board at IMDB, there are various Alex/Justin highlights where their special relationship is expressed.  They fight and all but we clearly see how they love and care about each other.  It is one those "this matters" points in what is still meant to be basically simple entertainment that gives weight to the show.

The weird thing about the film is that if you didn't know their relationship, the two characters here look like love interests (you know, not this kind).  On the commentary track, Banks (her usual smart sexy self) alluded to a shot of her taking off a boot while the brother watched that was not included since it just looked too sexual.  Brings to mind Moll Flanders, where the ONE thing she just couldn't do, even though it could have led to a happy life, was to marry someone who in fact was a long last brother.  Almost as weird, the fact he would otherwise be a logical love interest was not a major issue for the Banks character. She was open to it at times, but the thing that mattered to her more was their clear special connection.

So, like many independent films, messy but worthwhile as a whole.  The acting is good too, including various small roles. Olivia Wilde does well in a small role as the girlfriend.  Good commentary tracks too -- as noted, one focused on MP's performance and a general one with the two leads and the writer/director. The director has an impressive c.v.,** but this is basically his first work in this role though he did a bit of t.v. directing.  A lot is here, and like my old philosophy with respect to school work, net okay, just some messiness. 


* She has a good website and Twitter feed. Her Wikipedia entry includes this interesting tidbit about her life:
Banks met her husband, sportswriter and producer Max Handelman, on her first day at college on September 6, 1992. They were married in 2003. She was raised in a family of both Irish Catholic and Anglo-Saxon Protestant background, and has converted to Judaism, her husband's faith.  She and her husband welcomed their first child, Felix, who was born via a surrogate in March 2011.
Her hubby has a book out about fantasy football.

** Trivia tidbit: he was an executive producer in Star Trek (remake) and his star here played James T. Kirk there. 

For Further Reading

Interesting discussion on Fisher case. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Format

I will try this out. Seems okay. Meanwhile, Os blew it late. Sigh. [Update: Oakland did have an exciting finish. I did figure out how to do comments. How exciting.]

Courtwatchers: Eyewitness Accounts in Supreme Court History

Part of the way into this chatty (a lot of quotes) account that is a bit of trudge with so many long quotes but interesting overall. Found a few stupid errors, including a photo saying some justice was alive about a decade after he died. Get me a fact checker!

Different Sort of Value Voters?

One in five Americans today has no religious affiliation, and for the first time there are as many who claim no religion as there are white evangelicals, according to a new Pew report. With evangelicals forming the GOP’s backbone, the party may face a struggle to survive, says Michelle Goldberg.


Good pitching and an error by Scott Rolen led to the Giants and As (darn 5-4 loss!) to live another day & we now have another four game day. Feels less ideal on a Wed., but you know, WC scheduling etc. [Update: Two more teams will be 1-2 today somehow.]

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Already available online. I like the lead, the country music stuff has potential and the possible new thing is promising. The political/family stuff seems a bit tired and the "cheerleader" a bit too broadly drawn so far. Still, enough as a whole to be worth another look.

Quick Thoughts

I think the close poll numbers are a sign the public at large is in "home stretch" mode.  The debate itself wasn't the point. Check in a week or two.  Was in court recently & a few people (including some sort of plainclothes person who took a suspect in)  were openly carrying guns.  Pretty striking -- don't see many guns usually so up close.

Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency

A New Yorker article on the title book with a somewhat melodramatic subtitle that is not really met by the book itself cites AG Holder's analysis:
Now, it is an unfortunate but undeniable fact that some of the threats we face come from a small number of United States citizens who have decided to commit violent attacks against their own country from abroad. Based on generations-old legal principles and Supreme Court decisions handed down during World War II, as well as during this current conflict, it’s clear that United States citizenship alone does not make such individuals immune from being targeted.  

But it does mean that the government must take into account all relevant constitutional considerations with respect to United States citizens—even those who are leading efforts to kill innocent Americans. An individual’s interest in making sure that the government does not target him erroneously could not be more significant. Yet it is imperative for the government to counter threats posed by senior operational leaders of al Qaeda, and to protect the innocent people whose lives could be lost in their attacks.

Let me be clear: an operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful at least in the following circumstances: First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.

This sort of thing, along with discussions where the Administration specifically didn't  use lethal force because various legal tests weren't met as applied to various troublesome foreigners in places like Somalia, is fairly reassuring to me.  It turns out that there are rules and restraints, even in the midst of an authorization of force and so forth though you wouldn't know it from certain people.  The reply to this in the article, however, is "It would be difficult to list all of the ways in which Holder’s arguments are disturbing."  Really.  For instance, after all, "the risk of creating political turmoil in Yemen is reason enough to avoid attempting an arrest there," political opposition to trials factored in the decision-making (the book doesn't lead me to think it had a sine qua non effect in any real fashion overall) and some risk of harm (some risk? you mean in isolated areas of Yemen?)  should be acceptable.

On that last point, Congress authorized force against Al Qaeda.  Why should it really be even necessary to risk the life of special forces to avoid the killing of some top operational leader of Al Qaeda?  Why would it be that "disturbing" not to do that?  As to the second concern, given the civil war there is a big factor is advancing the cause of Al Qaeda, putting aside that any decision probably has various factors involved, that isn't really a trivial concern.  Like "well, it might make the leader there look a bit bad, so let's just kill the guy!," isn't quite the deal.

I'm sympathetic to Harold Koh, the liberal professor/activist turned lead legal adviser of the State Department, the department that was most sane in the Bush years.  He was put out there to give a speech to discuss the legality of use of drones [a good summary] and other techniques, noting the authorization of force and the rules of national self-defense.  The latter is well recognized but provide a limited test and Koh argued for a certain degree of risk to the U.S., the book noting he used a "battered wife" rule where the risk need not be then or there, but imminent enough.  Also, the target (let's say Awlaki) has to be senior and directly involved enough.  Rules are somewhat weaker on the traditional battlefield, that is, the Afghan/Pakistani border type situation. 

The book covers various decisions and administration goings on though is not comprehensive -- a lot of focus on Lindsey Graham (who basically turns out to be a false hope) but not too many other political figures. No reference to the attempt by Awlaki's father to go to court to protect his son.  Some emphasis on the attempt to bring KSM to trial in civilian court, something the book basically has blocked by Republican opposition, Democratic weakness and fear of backlash and pragmatic forces in the administration not willing to risk it all though Obama if given his druthers would do it, citing the judge's sentencing statement for Richard Reid:
Here in this court, where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals, as human beings we reach out for justice, you are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist.
I do wish that would have been what happened.  Basically, and various pathetic Republicans railing against Obama (he led the killing of OBL ... if a Republican was in office, the party would think that alone should guarantee re-election) pissing in their pants about any alleged terrorist being tried in the U.S. ("I'm so scared! keep them away!!!!") didn't help, the nation wasn't mature enough for that sort of thing.  Some want Obama to be above the fray, to be so much better than the nation as a whole, but this is fantasy.  Instead, we have the imperfect system in place and we have to handle the current bunch applying it.

The book is reassuring in the fashion that the current administration applies the rules in a serious and reasonable fashion.  It provides a fairly positive vision (the usual caveats regarding the leanings of the sources) though generally suggests the Obama way is a bit muddled, which seems about appropriate given the messiness of the options.  A brisk read, it is a helpful addition to the literature, providing some details from the inside. The book ends in the early part of 2012, basically in media res, though noting Al Qaeda appears to have been seriously harmed.

But, the "war on terror" or whatever you want to call it has a hydra quality to it.  And, Gitmo is still open ... the final word of the book in fact.  On that front, the book notes the troubling fact that the administration had no good way to deal with captures outside of the traditional battlefield. There, you can put someone in Bagram.  For some, let's say a Somali pirate (not covered in the book), the criminal process is possible.  But, what about someone seized in Somali as some possible terrorist figure?  They managed one capture of such a person and he was nice enough to work with the authorities and he was eventually tried criminally.

Anyway, here's a review from Lawfare, which the book praised as a good source of material.  Let me add that one thing that annoys me is the lack of openness in some ways, though the Koh speech underlines some rules have been publicly discussed.  Jack Goldsmith, e.g., doesn't think it is a problem to release the legal memorandum justifying the Al Awlaki killing.  This moves into the continuance of the state secrets privilege in some blatant ways.  It would be nice also that some more clarity via legislative rules as to capture and international law, but on that front, the book sadly seems accurate that the dark side of politics is the more likely result.

As Ann Romney says, it's hard.  Yeah. 

Monday, October 08, 2012

Sports Update

Some more errors in the baseball games -- four in Y/B [don't blow it B!] game alone thus far. Saints manage to finally win. Jets manage to keep it close, but still pretty ugly loss with repeated missed opportunities and confusion. [Baltimore hung on.]

More USSC Audio

Oyez.com has a lot more 2011 Term opinion announcement audio though I'm not sure if everything is up yet. Not sure why the USSC website can't (won't) post the stuff. Kagan is quite personable here.

Something Happened Today?

Nothing much to say about Columbus Day -- it's such a non-issue that local banks were open though yes I have to go to the post office tomorrow because of closures there.  Chris Hayes had an interesting discussion on the word "illegals" yesterday.

RIP Carroll Johnson

A topical obit of a local figure given the upcoming Fisher/affirmative action oral argument this week:
By 1964, however, he had decided that the effort was too piecemeal and that black and white students remained largely isolated from one another. He put together what he called the White Plains Racial Balance Plan, which essentially called for busing hundreds of children so that no school had less than 10 percent minority enrollment or more than 30 percent. He also closed one school that had been overwhelmingly black.

To ease the way in putting the plan into effect, he built alliances with PTA leaders and the editor of the local newspaper. “He was a Southerner and kept his drawl, and I don’t think people saw him coming,” his son said.

The busing plan fell into place with remarkably little resistance. Four years later, the schools could report a rise in test scores for black students, no decline in white scores and no significant white exodus out of the school system.
Johnson was from Georgia, so many some were wary about his bona fides, but like various other heroes of the day  (such as key judges, who faced shunning or worse), he worked to advance basic American values.  And, "became a model for other school systems in their desegregation efforts.”  The care and complexity of his efforts, including something quite controversial in many areas (e.g., busing) when necessary and efforts to work with local parental groups (PTA leaders) is a guide that applies today as well.  The problem of integration and good education remains.

The state of local schools and de facto segregation underlines the point.  A personal tidbit: I know someone who went to White Plains high school about a decade ago and from what I can gather, it is a pretty good one.  One thing that impressed me was his comfort level with a diverse group of people of all races.  That was a given too for me in public school though somewhat less, even though the school was near a minority heavy area, when I went to a parochial high school.  My parochial intermediate school was that not integrated.  This was in compare to my public grade school.

I think integrated schools are quite important and yes, if we have to be somehow race conscious about advancing that end, it to me seems to be a constitutional effort. We should be able to find a possible line there. Integration benefits everyone and is not somehow "unequal" as an ultimate aim.  Yes, in the process, race is taken into account, but the system applies to all.  It is "equal protection" in that fashion.  If it is not, was Johnson acting unconstitutionally to try to raise minority enrollment? 

After all, it isn't race neutral, right?  

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Sports Update

Nats ace is sloppy but they win while Oakland is down 0-2 on the day of four baseball games. NYG start badly but dominate after spotting Browns points. The upset of the day is Indy, who manage the long field goal and 2pt while the Packers do not, not getting that end of game tie. Denver sloppy so Pats win. Viks continue to win.

Rev. Joe (The Postman Always Rings Twice)

Some opening scene. The title actually has a religious meaning. Good acting and build-up, but I found the plot a bit inane after awhile, even if you do believe in fate and karma. Probation for manslaughter?

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Number the Stars

A Day in October covers the basic ground (escape of Danish Jews) of Lois Lowry's classic with a slightly older heroine. Recall the film as being decent but the children's book here (with very serious aspects) was worthy of its awards. As an adult, I much enjoyed it.

Friday, October 05, 2012

WC Match-ups Set

Dubious call in the 8th but four unearned runs (three errors, including one by Jones) probably sealed the deal or the "Cards will go far somehow" rule. An unearned run and two in the 9th sealed the game for the Os. Yanks/Nats have their competition.

WC Round

Orioles and Braves favored I think, especially with superkid pitching for the Braves, but an upset is possible. It would be a shame if the Os lost though. Guess want Braves to win. Go As and Reds at the big boy table. I think the edge does go to them too and the games should be good. Nats feel good story, but not big fan really. Tired of Yanks.

Skyscraper Souls

Some time ago, I read the novel, republished with commentary by Feminist Press. The film version is quite good, pretty quick moving for a film from 1932 too. Topical. Love that bloodless gunshot. The "over the hill" model btw is played by someone around thirty.

Thursday, October 04, 2012


The book focused more on the couple divided by infidelity and I actually wanted to read some more about some of the other characters. Promising first effort. Seemed to have a bit too many smarty words. One review flagged Stanford labeled as Ivy League.

When It Happens To You

I have an inclination to ensemble pieces where we get a flavor of things from various ends and the 1980s actress Molly Ringwald's first novel does that with a collection of interrelated stories. Didn't find the characters that likeable but were personable. Sure, her celebrity helped as some suggested getting it published. Big deal.

Contraceptive Mandate Decision

Pro and con. I discuss it more in the latter link, including the free exercise and establishment problems with striking it down.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Debate

Didn't watch it. Read a few comments on Twitter. Romney apparently did fairly well in the minds of some though is still full of shit and Obama wasn't totally on game, etc. Blah blah. Is the election over yet?

No Game 163

Angels' elimination and Red Sox being dead for awhile made for some skewered games. Meanwhile, Orioles actually care about their loss. Hopefully, Texas still has a hangover on Friday. No way I want TEXAS to survive. Loser. Watching Daria over the debates.

That was Unlikely

The A's needed a sweep and they delivered to win their first division crown in six years and 15th in all. They overcame a five-game deficit in the final nine days and took sole possession of the West's top spot for the first time this year.

Game 162

Mets won. Hefner 2-0 after not getting an out. Texas really blew it -- 12-5 -- Oakland not only now the division leader, but have a shot at best record in the AL. [Nats already won best record. AL East sorta won yesterday; as of 9, Yanks up by 6.]

Law Man (Grace)

Interesting law article by author here.  One theme, not overdone, of the book is his Christian redemption.  I'm game for that sort of thing without all the doctrinal baggage.  But, some need that sort of concrete format, and unlike some "freethinkers," I'm okay with that.

Pulpit Endorsements

Colbert riffed on an effort to require the government not only to give churches tax breaks but let them endorse candidates. I'm not really totally against this idea. The pulpit should be a free speech zone. Some lines, like not turning churches into campaign HQs or something can be imagined. Most religious leaders rather not do it anyhow.

Baseball Update

RS blew it late to hurt the Orioles, but they still have a (small) shot at 1st. Dodgers were eliminated, but Rangers/As tied for first place. So, last day (maybe) still matters. Will Rangers (again) blow it late?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

2011 SCOTUS Opinion Annoucements

Oyez is starting to post audio of 2011 Term opinion announcements / dissents from the bench. Seemed to have been released pretty quick. The PPACA statements are already up along with Scalia's hackish Arizona dissent. Kennedy reads the group PPACA "dissent."

PA Voter ID Law Ruling

RH discusses here. These sort of laws are ill advised etc., but if we are stuck with them, can't we do something like this? Put them in place for an election (or year) before they totally stick. This will enable the state and voters to adapt to things.

Sports Update

Bears beat up Cowboys.  Nats/Tigers clinch their division. Red Sox's early end of the season helped the Yanks go ahead but TB (and the Angels) were later eliminated with an As win. Dodgers technically still alive. Texas (division title)/Cards feel pretty safe though.


My last comments platform expired 10/1 and another one isn't installing correctly. For the time being, comments will be off.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Legal Stuff

Law Man concerns a white mid-westerner imprisoned for bank robbery who becomes a jailhouse lawyer, including writing a brief for a prisoner that led to a winning Supreme Court case.

The case is only a small part of the book, which is mostly about the author's time in prison as a whole, though the law was an important part of him finding a "purpose" there.  Community (including a local girl) plays a key part, both inside and out, in helping him survive and thrive.  That and personal ability is key, but he ultimately found God to be the ultimate party involved.  I think the book was a bit too long, but was a quick read and obviously an amazing story.   Make a good film.

FORTRESS BIBLE CHURCH v. KARAMAN has facts that make it an easier Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) case than some garden variety burden on religious land use. The law itself was a response to Congress being hit by a rolled up newspaper when they tried to overturn Oregon v. Smith. The law limited itself to two subjects and covering the ground here, the provision only applies when federal funding is involved, it affects interstate commerce and a more catchall provision that has potential for wide breadth, leading to some opposition.  The facts here seem to suggest the religious institution was targeted because it was a religious institution, thus an equal protection claim had success,while the facts also helped in another way as well.*

[T]he health care plan will offend plaintiffs’ religious beliefs only if an OIH employee (or covered family member) makes an independent decision to use the plan to cover counseling related to or the purchase of contraceptives.   Already, OIH and Frank O’Brien pay salaries to their employees---money the employees may use to purchase contraceptives or to contribute to a religious organization. By comparison, the contribution to a health care plan has no more than a de minimus impact on the plaintiff’s religious beliefs than paying salaries and other benefits to employees.

Meanwhile, a lower court provided a helpful slap-down of a challenge to the contraceptives mandate, the court thinking the matter so clearly legitimate that it didn't have to address a secular corporation raising 1A rights.  A question that is bound to be a matter of dispute in a major case since repeatedly such corporations raise claims, down to a state case that Volokh Conspiracy covered involving an incorporated photography studio found to have the duty to equally serve a same sex ceremony.

The opinion, as seen by the excerpt, covers the usual ground, by now fairly standard.  For instance, "the challenged regulations do not demand that plaintiffs alter their behavior in a manner that will directly and inevitably prevent plaintiffs from acting in accordance with their religious beliefs."  They don't have the use contraceptives, support them in any way other than health benefits ultimately paid by the employee and the insurance company, which is small change next to the salary as a whole.  Why is Medicaid benefits different?  Medicaid even allows money to go to abortions in various cases when the religion of the employer might oppose it, especially in those states where things like disability might allow use of the funds.  The argument is shoddy and in effect only works by selectively applying it to certain disfavored health care.

The net result hurts people and rather ironically burdens religious freedom in the process by favoring certain faiths over others. 


* The third provision:
"the substantial burden is imposed in the  implementation of a land use regulation or system of land use regulations, under which a government makes, or has in place formal or informal procedures or practices that permit the government to make, individualized assessments of the proposed uses for the property involved."
The other issue was if a particular proceeding was covered and while (to quote) "the ordinary environmental review considerations are not subject to RLUIPA, the defendants used the process as a vehicle to resolve zoning and land use issues, which constituted the imposition of a land use regulation as defined in RLUIPA."

TV/Sports Update (Week 4)

There are so many forensics shows but hey let's have some more!  Elementary (Sherlock Holmes) was not really interesting to me.  The season premiere of NCIS was pretty blah with a tedious ending.  Made in New Jersey (did this girl go to law school?) wasn't really any less standard (elementary?) than Elementary, but perhaps the cute face and breed of it all worked for me somewhat better.  Both have -- "hey, I know that actor."  Season premiere of Homeland was good, but I didn't feel up to a week by week loyal watching of that show -- rather intense. 

Meanwhile, caught Stephanie Miller (daughter of Goldwater's running mate) a few times recently. She's cute as a button, but her show is somewhat bland. This isn't too surprising -- she's fairly successful and that requires a bit of that.   Still, though the show is a decent time waster with some interesting guests (she had the birther woman on, e.g.), with a p.o.v. that will be appreciated by some, don't see that much depth overall.  On that front, good pair of weekend shows from Chris Hayes, including the Egyptian American I talked about recently.  She got a bit of push-back for her actions ('don't feed the trolls"), but no one noted what might happen if posters we didn't like became open season.  She did note she used pink paint since it is non-violent and would not cover the text. MHP also had a few interesting segments.

Week 4:  Some interesting games, including Carolina and Tampa both blowing it in the final minute (Carolina doing so in more devastating fashion) and New Orleans going 0-4 after missing 48 yd job* and actually being ahead after a good comeback.  Dolphins played tough but lost in OT against the plucky Cardinals, while the surprising Viks won again.  Peyton decided to get a big lead early, the Pats got one late and karma probably got Seattle.  Three no losses, one no win (Browns). 

The Jets were doomed anyway, but were embarrassed, even though their defense (and perhaps SF's offense) actually kept them in the game for longer than deserved.  The Giants anemic offense didn't take advance of the Eagles' and when scoring finally began, they lost by two points (19-17). Particularly if they squeak into the playoffs this year somehow, a Super Bowl sorta gives them a pass, but games like that (after losing to Dallas) are annoying.  Meanwhile, Yanks (come from behind) and Orioles are still tied for first.  Unbalanced final series, advantage Yanks.  [Playoff race update.] Still, I'm pretty surprised it comes down to this (or a tiebreaker -- the loser would have two one game playoffs of sorts, the second against the WC).

All in all, a pretty good sports weekend.


* Some drama in the game with Rodgers out temporarily with a hurt eye (never a good thing to see a back-up QB for most elite teams in when the score is not totally skewered) and a controversial call, but the kicker (after corresponding penalties eventually pushed things back five yards) sealed the deal in the end.  Also, I kept up with various scores online, needing to leave to catch a train right before the end of the Redskins game.  The last two late games ended late.