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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Trolling Hagel

The one person endorsed by Eugene Volokh at his blog is this Tea Party dweeb, who did on his campaign website honestly say he was a conservative. McCain and remaining amigo Graham joined the "leave Israel alloonnnne" brigade with cranky also upset Hagel was sane on Iraq. Imagine, an actually controversial (cf. Kagan) to Rs nominee with actual bite.

Kiss Me

No, not the catchy song. A sort of Imagine Me & You, Swedish style. Two people in long term relationships fall for each other at their parents' engagement party. Well acted but not overly surprising. There is a bit of selfishness involved in love, huh? Such adult step-siblings hooking up just might technically be illegal somewhere in this country. Pretty good.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I looked at the creative Dirt Candy graphic novel cookbook, but don't really do recipes. Still, easy to get a lot of cheap fresh vegetables. Got soup vegetable selection and it provides enough for like three meals or snacks. Used an onion and potato with 'meat' crumbles today, celery and carrot as snacks and still have a parsnip and scallions/onion for pasta. Someone picked me up a focaccia eggplant/tomato pizza wheel (no cheese). Tasty things.

No Sen. Barney Frank

Well, hope those saying the "D" will win in MA are correct. As to fill-in, don't know the guy, but he has an impressive resume and knowledge of state issues. A great representative of the future of the party, who we should look toward, and don't think Frank would have done any miracles. Insider or not, still a newbie to the Senate. So, half full sentiments.


Pretty good episode last night with a flashback to Abby's "first case," involving a childhood incident. She has a crisis of faith, in effect worried her personal approach to karma hasn't been good enough. I like her strategy, hoping things balance out positively in the end.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sports Update

After a "7" start time was listed but that only involved opening ceremonies and such, I didn't turn on the Pro Bowl until about a minute in. Missed a score. Then, another in four minutes. I left to do a few things and missed the rest of the game. The NFC dominated after a balanced beginning. This sorta "half full" view of the Mets OF is mine, I guess. I don't know those two new guys. Will give them a shot. Also, Bay was a big mistake via "we must do something."

Rev. Joe (Abortion Choice)

The religious issues involved are perhaps the most frequently debated aspects of abortion.
See the footnotes to Douglas' opinion. Melissa Harris-Perry had a minister on yesterday making the religious pro-choice case. Individual choice on greatly disputed intimate religious and moral matters should be basic, especially in a Protestant friendly nation like ours.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Egypt Protest Turns Deadly

At least 26 people died on Saturday when Egyptians rampaged in protest at the sentencing of 21 people to death over a soccer stadium disaster, adding to bloody street turmoil confronting Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
Putting aside the tragic irony, this story suggests certain types of things avoided by our system, flawed as it might be. For instance, it is sometimes noted that public protest is more restrained in this country. Sometimes, that is a good thing.

Friday, January 25, 2013

NLRB Recess Appointments Unconstitutional

An overly technical D.C. circuit ruling struck down Obama's NLRB recess appointments contra to the 11th Cir. on the Judge Pryor matter. Filibustering led to all of this, so it's all connected. I was sympathetic to the Pryor case, but either way, a lifetime appointment is not the same thing. And, the whole context in each case, not quite the same. Structural separation of powers restraints take that into consideration.

O'Donnell on Filibuster Non-Reform

[crickets] Rachel Maddow had some coverage. She had a clip with HR's previous comment saying "it's time" to change the 60 rule. To quote him, "it's a shame" what happened today. O'Donnell, who worked for the Senate and praised the institution in the past, didn't have anything on it. Had nice extended bit on Kerry c. 1972. Still, his insight would have helped.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mets Sign Marcum

I had low expectations for 2012/2013 and except for not enough life last summer, the team has met them. This off-season some good moves occurred and this rounds out the rotation. The lack of an OF addition is a problem, but disposing of Bay, getting some value for Dickey, signing Wright and getting a few spare parts without doing something dumb helped.

Filibuster Reform? Try 2015

The filibuster will not be reformed. But the way the Senate moves to consider new legislation and most nominees will be.
To some degree.  How exciting!  Various sorts blaming Harry Reid, like it's all his fault. This is somewhat as stupid (not quite) as calling a majority vote every two years to change, but does not end, the filibuster (unlike a few other things, not a supermajority rule explicitly there), abused of late by Republicans, a "nuclear option." Tad bit more complicated.

The Slave Trade and the Origins of International Human Rights Law

The last third of the book gets a bit wonky, but on the whole, this was an interesting read.  It is a good addition to the quick reading list necessary for the polymath, or those who play one on t.v. Seriously, recommended, including to help the overly cynical.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pro-Prop 8 Brief

Senate Dems have unveiled a new re-authorization of VAWA legislation, blocked by House Republicans after it managed to get some Republican votes in the Senate because of provisions involving gays, undocumented immigrants and Native Americans.  Meanwhile, SCOTUSBlog discussed the latest briefs in the Prop 8 and DOMA cases.  I'll focus on the former, which is the somewhat weaker case for the side of good. 
The brief’s argument about the constitutionality of “Proposition 8” focused on three central themes: marriage in the U.S. has always been under the control of the states, the states from time immemorial have restricted that institution to opposite-sex couples, and the timing of when a state reaffirms its support for the traditional version of marriage makes no constitutional difference.
The question here would be if this specific regulation of marriage was legitimate and the "timing" here can make a difference.  The split in two Ten Commandments display cases comes to mind here though it mostly only convinced that lesser known swing justice, Justice Breyer, who has actually been in such a place repeatedly.  Another situation that comes to mind is drug testing of students, where he too took a less liberal position than Justice O'Connor. Anyway, the point there was a long standing display could be acceptable, but another more recent one had an illegitimate purpose.  All displays aren't the same.  The context matters.  This applies in the equal protection context too, as seen in the area of felony disenfranchisement, which is generally accepted, except when there is a clear illegal motive.  See, Hunter v. Underwood

This is a major difference too between longstanding marriage laws that only allow different sex couples to marry and johnny come lately affairs that specifically target same sex couples ala Prop 8. Likewise, the discriminatory background of such laws are more blatant, specifically the targeting of homosexuals and same sex couples.  Factors like this can up the ante, justifying a higher test to meet, the "rational basis with teeth" rule that O'Connor in Lawrence et. al. put in place.

I personally think same sex marriage should be protected as a general matter on constitutional grounds, but these things develop over time.  The 9th Cir. did not decide that matter -- it held that this specific law was a problem.  And, the specific timing and background is relevant.  Finally, yes, restriction to opposite sex couples was a general rule, but so was not providing domestic partnership rights that provide broad protections to same sex couples.  We live in a different world and you have to address the reasonableness with that in mind. 
The Lawrence precedent, the brief said, was about punishing criminally acts of private human conduct in the home, while “Proposition 8″ does not even discourage let alone criminalize any private behavior or personal relationship. The Romer decision, it said, involved the imposition of a sweeping form of political disability because of a person’s single trait, while the California measure has made no change whatsoever in a series of laws that provide gays and lesbian couples with very comprehensive civil rights.  The Loving and Brown rulings, the brief added, dealt with explicit racial discrimination, while the California amendment involves only the definition of marriage without regard to race.
Lawrence did expressly note that state recognition of this nature was not involved, but the general principles of the case justify equal respect here.  Likewise, earlier rulings did not involve interracial marriage, but eventually, the basic principles was applied to that context.  Loving also concerns broader principles than the specific ones applied, including equal protection and honoring fundamental liberties in different contexts.  Generally speaking, Justice Blackmun was right in his Bowers dissent [FN5] that the "parallel between Loving and this case is almost uncanny."  Next, come on -- if Prop 8 does not even "discourage" this sort of thing vis-a-vis different sex unions, what is the point?  If anything, it then becomes bare animus, which blatantly violates Romer and Lawrence.  Prop 8 was not as broad as the law in Romer, but it did "change" a significant liberty in ways that provide a suitable parallel, focused upon  a "single trait" as well.*

Meanwhile, there also is a discussion of the defense of DOMA, including how somehow it honors federalism and the "go it slow" labatories allowed there by selectively harming states that authorize same sex marriage.  All in time for Valentine's Day.


* Cf. Prof. Kerr doing one of his clueless professor routines and apparently with a straight face wonders why even a supporter of SSM would necessarily find voting for Prop 8 a problem. We are supposed to remember he is not a bigot.  No, he is just aiding and abetting them here with such selective pretextual reasoning. Since that would be in bad form, we are left with those who just note the problems with his reasoning. 

Alex Doonesbury Has Twins?!

A bit of overkill there, huh? How time flies. Will we see some of her mom JJ? She has been mostly forgotten, originally a pretty sympathetic character before going a bit crazy. Too bad, imho. And, notice how her grandmother (Sen. Warren's assistant) sort of looks her age, while her hubby does not. Alex's about the same age uncle is a pain though he lost his money.

Counterproductive Opposition To Roe

Roe opponents provides the usual confused arguments. Criminalized abortion is not the best way to honor human life. Latin America suggests this. Overturning Roe will selectively hinder women's rights, lead to some tragic cases, while abortion will largely continue. Dealing with and preventing unwanted pregnancies and moral suasion is pragmatically the more effective approach. Less so if other interests such as conservative views on women are at issue.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What is At Stake

Bottom line, reproductive liberty is a basic matter of importance and the principle involved in Roe provides each one of us a right to personally choose the approach right for us, whatever that might be.  One in three women have abortions, but the ruling goes far beyond even them. And, the broader principle of privacy and equality goes even further than that. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama’s Second Inaugural

Some way to honor MLK Day!

Martin Luther King Jr.

A little bit of everything -- history, racial equality, non-violence, workers' rights, imperfect man (like all) and (like many a leader) gone while still looking over the proverbial Jordan ala Moses (he is a minister). Disappointing last few years including the anti-poverty stuff.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Good Luck Charlie [carping time]

Toby was a useless addition, show-wise. Then, unrealistically, the mom quits her job, with five kids. Here, Teddy blithely pays money for a secret trip to Boston, needlessly taking a big suitcase. A few too many "ignore me acting stupid" moments. And, the dad's negligence costs how much? The house is totally busted. Finally, so what if PJ -- him of the two day Chicken University -- signed on to cooking school over college. Seems better anyway.

Brother v. Brother, It Is

Fred Willard had an amusing guest appearance in a pretty good hour finale of Good Luck Charlie. On a plane; no movie. Meanwhile, Pats led at the Half, but the Ravens dominated the second half, the game in effect over with seven minutes left while the Pats watched time bleed away, down by 15. So, in the SB, the one who leads early should watch out?

SF Does Its Part to Set Up Brother v. Brother

Simply don't want the Pats to win while very annoyed the Falcons won last week, so couldn't really enjoy the games today. The Falcons blew another big lead, marched down the field in a longggg drive, but was stopped in the Red Zone. So, at least something for the viewers.

"A Progressive Agenda for Women’s Reproductive Health and Liberty on Roe v. Wade’s [40th] Anniversary'"

{The below overlaps some with the last entry on this topic, but I want to focus specifically on this piece. As to my usual religious entry for Sunday, personally, I view abortion as involving a personal religious choice.  Ronald Dworkin has written about this, but simply put, we are dealing with a special moral and religious dispute here.  See also, The Abortion Myth by Leslie Cannold, providing various women voices on how not having an abortion is often seen as immoral. BTW, this is my 5000th post.]

Dawn Johnsen's "Issue Brief" from five years ago largely holds today, except that the legislative efforts have been ratcheted up since there. She promotes an agenda "to protect genuine reproductive liberty and reproductive health for all." To quote:
The progressive agenda should aspire to protect genuine reproductive liberty and reproductive health for all. Toward this ideal, I would suggest three shifts in strategic priorities, to augment ongoing efforts to persuade courts to invalidate abortion restrictions. First, focus more on persuading the public to support meaningful reproductive options through political action, grassroots organizing and public education.  Second, focus relatively less on the threat of criminal abortion bans that would be enforceable if the Court were to overrule Roe and more on abortion restrictions already in place or on the immediate horizon, obstacles both legislative and extra-legal that cumulatively deprive growing numbers of women of access to abortion services.  Finally, situate abortion within the full range of progressive policies essential to genuine reproductive health and liberty, policies that empower women and men to prevent unintended pregnancies and to bear and raise healthy and wanted children.

This requires looking beyond the courts, if still important, "not only in Washington, D.C., but also in state legislatures, local communities, political parties, and elections at every level of state and local government." And, it is a big picture thing.  The fight over contraceptives, still shocking that is the ground chosen, doesn't make any real sense if you are trying to convince the public at large unless something -- like putative religious liberty concerns -- are cited.

A similar strategy should be used here.  It is not only a matter of abortion.  Someone personally opposed can and should honor Roe, which involved a matter of personal liberty.  As DJ cites Justice Ginsburg noting, It was also not "some generalized notion of privacy; rather they center on a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature." I have seen this myself -- Roe used, e.g., in promotion of personal use of drugs or any sort of medical procedure.  The ruling, however, was not quite that libertarian.  It cited specific concerns, which covers a lot of ground, yes, but not THAT much ground.

As Justice Blackmun asked, one wonders if some of these people have actually read Roe, or more than a few tidbits. But, nothing new in that, underlining the importance of education here and realism regarding how the specifics of a ruling might be ignored in lieu of some overall spirit, a spirit that might not actually even be there. This is not novel to the general public -- the courts also do this, including when applying precedents that can be applied in various ways.  Still, it does tire me somewhat the the same old canards pop up, the same old confusions.

Anyway, Roe was the product of a larger movement, the young advocate Sarah Weddington herself chosen (along with Linda Coffee, even more forgotten) in large part because of a desire for a feminist voice.  Truly respecting its memory therefore is logically a matter more than understanding and upholding (as much as we can) a legal ruling in the courts.  It involves the promotion of certain basic ideals and putting them into practice, particularly involving "a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course" though men have something to do with this too.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Swearing In

Rachel Maddow also reported (I'm watching it online, a way to pick and choose the video you want while doing other things) Biden is being sworn in (trivia alert!) by Justice Sotomayor (autobiography on list) and Obama by Roberts (holding a cheat sheet I bet -- hey, I'm bad at that sort of thing too; if I ever got married, I would hold my vows on an index card).

Republicans Promise To Be Sane For The Time Being

Rachel Maddow reported -- before another important special report on abortion -- Republicans will not take us off the debt limit cliff, though they will keep the issue alive to bring it up in a few months.  I don't know how this falls on the debate I'm having with a commenter, but half full, and all that. Keep up the fight, Obama.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Roe Turns 40

[And Also:  Kudos that Stephen Colbert's sister, with an impressive bio and attitude, is running for an open House seat.  Hope everything, including name recognition, will give her a chance -- it is after all SC, and she is running as a Democrat for a seat controlled by Rs for thirty years.]

There has already been various discussions about the upcoming anniversary of the ruling, one I wrote about repeatedly over the years myself. Dawn Johnsen,* who has been part of its defense over the years, has some helpful things to say. This includes the nature of the ruling, current roadblocks and advice:
launch strategies to counter right-wing efforts to reframe the debate and muddle the public’s perceptions about abortion. “Effective strategies,” she wrote, “must target this public misperception and emphasize political action, the harm caused by incremental abortion obstacles, and a broad range of policies that promote reproductive choice and health.”
Current reports about the broad support of the basic ruling in Roe does not (at least publicly) concern one strong  opponent:

"I don't worry much about these polls..." said Scheidler. "I think a majority of Americans prefer to be called pro-life." He said knocking down Roe v. Wade - which would return the issue to the states - is not as important as educating people on "the great evil" of abortion.
And, I think many who push comes to shove support the right to choose, at least when it involves them, are uncomfortable about whole thing. Thus, there are basic roadblocks, helped by the looser Casey ruling:
“the protests, harassment and violence directed at abortion clinics, providers and their families; the lack of abortion training opportunities in medical school; and the literally hundreds of state abortion restrictions that are designed both to sound reasonable and to stop the performance of abortions as effectively as a criminal ban.”
As noted by DJ, such things can be an "undue burden" on abortion rights, though it is another matter if five justices would now think so.  As Rachel Maddow noted on Thursday, in various areas (including those states with ONE provider), we have legal abortion but at least a form of de facto criminalization as applied to many women.  Thus, the need for education of what is at stake, political** and personal action, like the move to re-open George Tiller's clinic, closed down after he was murdered while going to church.  That my friend is "assassination."


Various movements are related and gay rights rightly is seen as being connected to the abortion rights movement, which itself is just part of a movement for equality, women's health, religious freedom etc. So, a shout-out to a same sex married military couple who rejected second class status in a private officers' club, which does not have the federal DOMA to blame on such a thing.  In fact, the Marines according to the article required equal access to private clubs in another situation.

Lawrence v. Texas turns ten this year, same sex marriage a concern in two major cases which will be heard in March. 


* Hurrah!  Love her voice -- soft spoken passion and grit.

** As the filibuster is up for reform, full disclosure might include that I have supported its use in judicial nominations, in part to oppose certain anti-choice Bush nominees. The proposed reforms, however, won't end its use, and as the link notes, changes occurred when this extreme option has been misused.  Its use for judicial nominees is perhaps most defensible and even there the whole picture should be weighed.  

The Distance Between Us

The author of this autobiography of the childhood with serious parent issues of an undocumented (until the change in policy during the Reagan years) immigrant from Mexico wrote one of the books on the side panel now. Well written and novel-like itself though tapers off a bit late. A hint of that fiction book is present, but no, not simply a roman-a-clef. A good read given immigration is one of "the" issues of the time. She was/is a "dreamer."


O'Donnell continued his campaign against the NRA last night against board member Tom Selleck, pressuring him to resign, especially over the reference to Obama's daughters. Okay, but Selleck was not personally to blame for such things and LD at times implied that. Good segment on Rachel Maddow regarding possible re-opening of George Tiller's clinic.

Golden Globes

Didn't see it though this makes it sound pretty good [hosts are great at being funny and feminists/professionals though Fey looks too 'glam' these days]. The big news was Foster's rambling speech and good for her, even if some (e.g., the hosts of Gay USA) imho unfairly were annoyed she wasn't more "out," though she has been and has reasons for her privacy.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It isn't all that clear, Mr. Scalia

Arizona v. Gant is a Fourth Amendment case from 2009 for which Scalia's brand of judicial ideology led to a more libertarian result. It happens though his concurring opinion also is a window in the problems with his philosophy.  Thomas letting himself get caught on a microphone during oral arguments has in some cases led to the usual lame knee-jerk comments about him, including as if he is simply Scalia's lapdog (was Marshall just Brennan's?).  Don't worry -- still find trouble with both of them, but in a somewhat more interesting way as some might.

Scalia in his concurrence sets forth a basic bit of philosophy that goes beyond the Alito "Scalia wants to know what Madison thinks about video games," though he does invite such carcicature at times, especially when he seems to be playing to the camera, so to speak:
we look first to the historical practices the Framers sought to preserve; if those provide inadequate guidance, we apply traditional standards of reasonableness
During oral argument, he made reference to Jefferson's carriage being stopped, but he notes in his opinion that such historical practices as to what "unreasonable" means in this context is "uncertain."  So, "tradition" follows though eight justices (including Thomas) doesn't seem so certain that it is "abundantly clear" that it doesn't go the way of Stevens opinion.  And, just what "tradition" demands is repeatedly an issue, including how following "the most specific level" [thus on a key point, the opinion there had two votes; perhaps, someone else should have wrote it!] is unnecessary. The clarity seems to lean the way that appeals to his ideology, which is not unique to him, but is harder to take given his self-assurance that his approach prevents that sort of thing.  

Scalia thus is not just concerned with what people thought c. 1787 or whatever the date of the particular provision in question, but some more nebulous "tradition" that (see, e.g., McDonald v. Chicago) is colored by precedent and other things.  The moderate (yeah) conservative approach of a Harlan, O'Connor, Kennedy or Souter (coming after but leaving sooner) is what wins out in the end -- a sort of modern day originalism that is influenced by the past but respecting the passage of time. So it realistically would be though some don't quite want to admit to it, which is where Scalia lies, even he admitting at times being somewhat of a "faint hearted originalist."  That is, when he isn't fronting as something else.

Thus, the end result here, where he is upset with the result, but deems the majority the best of imperfect options. Meanwhile, he doesn't like the exclusionary rule while being supportive of a brand of immunity that is modern in scope, excluded evidence [which experts such as Orin Kerr has shown very well might have been the rule long ago too, just done largely in the shadows of appellate review*] providing a balance while the less immunity friendly past entered modern times.  Like something observed tainted by the observation, modern law requires altering tradition to honor the spirit of the law.  Kennedy had the principle right:
They knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.
Kennedy has his problems too, so various views are appreciated, even a bit of Scalia, especially if we take them all with a healthy grain of salt.


* I looked over an article of his on the subject, but a quick search doesn't bring it up right away. Let's add this instead, regarding the "history" (quotes advisable) used by the USSC.  Kerr's note that Scalia says such and such is "consistent" with original understanding reminds me of his opinion in Oregon v. Smith where one interpretation of free exercise of religion is deemed not simply wrong, just not compelled. 

A hazy concept of "hybrid rights" is used there as a workaround, like those used to ensure that the earth remained the center of the universe.  Kerr also notes how Scalia sometimes notes that the "unchanging Constitution" refers to bodies of law the do change, including property law under the 4A, a principle that should apply across the board.  See, e.g., how modern day equal protection law reflects modern day understandings even if we (with the right amount of generality) apply basic originalist sounding baseline principles.  Really, it's better simply to listen to the likes of Stevens here.  Sorry, life is messy.

Obama/Biden Plan On Guns

See here and here. Seems to be a step in the right direction. This is a fight for the long haul. No "magic bullets" here. Full gun background check seems like something to insist upon. Also, think "gun control" might better be framed "regulating well" like the 2A suggests.

Greg Germann

I remember him as a nebbish character on Ned and Stacey and now he has a bit of that as the acting director of NCIS. Yesterday's episode was pretty good though it left things open. I still liked last week's episode before the ending. NCIS already had to deal with the explosion at their HQ. Now this. A bit much. And, do Ziva et. al. need more personal tragedies?!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gun Owners Protected in NY Law

In a concession to the pro-gun side, local authorities will be allowed to withhold the identities of registered gun owners — an issue that erupted recently when a suburban New York City newspaper published the names and addresses of gun owners in its readership area.
Not cited when Rachel Maddow reported the law. This effort needs compromise and signs of respect to gun owners. This is an example and it is important to note it along with ending gun show loopholes and so on. Also, something about the NRA blocking federal collection of info was noted in passing. Got to clarify things like that.

New NY Gun Law

Gov. Cuomo added to his record by helping to have NY be the first out of the gate here and the law looks fairly promising. Don't think letting a few days pass so legislators can read the thing would have hurt, including notification rules for certain mentally ill that concern some doctors. Measures like protecting the privacy of gun ownership records suggest there is a little bit for everyone. The new "assault weapon" label should be up for litigation soon.

Raise Him Up A Single Mother's Guide to Raising a Successful Black Man

Being a parent is always at least somewhat difficult, but for various reasons, it is often particularly so when you are a single parent. And, there is a special burden when you are not only a single parent, but also single and a black mother. It is therefore that much more remarkable that so many children thrive, thanks in no small part to the skill and love of single mothers nation-wide. This book has the purpose of helping single mothers raise her boys to be a successful black man. Any help is appreciated!

The book offers this advice with a Christian perspective, providing scriptural allusions and prayers to guide them. The book of Acts in particular is chosen here to show how biblical parallels exist to the modern day single black mother. Also, examples of successful black athletes raised by single moms are provided as role models. This is appreciated as helpful, but personally do not think it important as such that the success story is an athlete. After all, few people grow up to make a lot of money that way & it can be misleading.

On the other hand, the colloquial language ("you go girl" etc.) did not concern me as it did for another reviewer. Overall, a good read, nothing great, but a good addition to "how to" lit.  


* I received a complimentary copy from Booksneeze in return for my honest review.

Aaron Swartz

As noted here, I have mixed feelings about the Aaron Swartz matter. Don't think it great to talk about how the feds "contributed" to his death and if he wanted no jail time, that is a bit much. Ideal or not, the stuff isn't free and he broke the law and this remains true even if (I don't know) he was greatly overcharged. Some commentary is just too one sided for me. [Update: See, e.g., here, where prosecutors wanted less than six months of jail time.]

Monday, January 14, 2013

Not quite Garbo ...

Thomas, J. (Yale, JD), speaks: funny at argument—Yale degree could mean lawyer is incompetent, not competent, capital trial counsel.
So tweeted Scotusblog. More here and here (there is video available of a Q&A involving Thomas and Amar, a curious match-up given Amar's brand of constitutional interpretation). [I added a couple more links including one that actually talks about the case.]

Dirt Candy (aka vegetables)

So getting invited to speak at a library gives me a deep, warm glow that nothing else can equal…except maybe really top quality cocaine
Good attitude -- the talk (combining vegetarianism, opening a restaurant and writing a graphic cookbook) was pretty good too. Hey, the price was right. I don't recall ever actually going to the sixth floor (it's usually closed to the public) of the Mid-Manhattan.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Texans Lose Less Badly

A whipping like the Texans had during the regular season was not expected but the 3Q basically made the end result clear -- Pats fairly easily won 42-28. Thus, I want a brother vs. brother head coach SB, the [ugh] ending of the other game making neither Championship Game that fun. I would find the Falcons winning somewhat less distasteful than the Pats.

Seattle Chokes [30-28]

Falcons looked to yet again have choked in the playoffs but after Seattle came back from 20-0 (and blowing chances to score), the Falcons couldn't ala Denver take a knee with 1/2 minute left. They just quickly got in field goal range. No miracle Hail Mary this time. Aggravating way to lose though it coming down to the failed HM had a bit of karma to it.

Rev. Joe (Moment of Silence Laws)

Wallace v. Jaffree touches upon the problems of certain laws but also (see concurring opinions) the likely validity of others. Two things. (1) The background in that case poisoned the well beyond the narrow question ultimately addressed. (2) The oral argument etc. barely addressed a key issue: even focusing on religious exercise, "prayer" is but one means of religious expression. Support of prayer itself favors some religions over others.

SF Whips GB

Even after spotting them seven early. 45-31, seven in garbage time.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Second Thoughts

I don't know Aaron Swartz so decided to delete something about him. As to Hysteria, like the commentary and interviews and it was well put together. But, I stick with my "boring" -- it was too dry and MG was not really "wasted" but her character was kind of boring too. Didn't like the court scene. Might be better in a different frame of mind. Duck bit was amusing.

Denver Chokes

Falcons had little over a minute to get a TD and did it in half that time. Denver with two time outs didn't even try to get a FG. OT. It took to the second OT, but they also lost the game after Manning gave it up. Did he forget that the game did not end with the first OT?

Stupidity Loses One: No Coin For You

The Treasury won't mint a platinum coin to get around the debt limit. BTW, Mike Castle is mentioned. Remember him? He lost to Christine "Not the Senator of Delaware" O'Donnell in 2010. Even sanity has been mixed with confusion here -- see how money is a "delusion" here.


The film looks good (setting and all), but it's pretty dull and Maggie Gyllenhaal was wasted. The idea of the inventor of the vibrator has an amusing flavor and a play was made about the idea too. Pretty good commentary [it shows the intent and all, and there was skill there, but still was bored] and there is a bonus documentary. But, the subject matter really deserves a better platform. Half a cheer for taking a chance at a novel subject.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Judgment At Nuremberg

I read the play with an intro by the playwright added after a revival performed about a decade ago (Shatner's military escort role in the film was a black guy here with dialogue alluding to the South; was that the way in the original play?). Powerful though it's interesting so little is offered as to specific criminal acts (e.g., the defense showed that the U.S. also sterilized the "mentally unfit"). Perhaps, that is a point: missing the forest for single trees.

John Brennan / Drones

Brennan's name was floated four years ago for the job he has now been nominated for but his role in hinky stuff in the Bush years was apparently then deemed too questionable, sort of like Mike Piazza and steroids. Piazza is likely to get in the Hall of Fame eventually, but more information and time is desired by many writers. Well, as reported by Rachel Maddow last night on drones, more info on them should be provided before Brennan is confirmed.


Lawrence O'Donnell is not PC as to the Bible and good for him. But, the book God v. Gay is basically correct: on the whole, the Bible has a few verses on the subject, the focus is in no way some compelling issue as some make it out to be. Many Jews and Christians manage to have a sane perspective on the matter. I understand the basic idea of a small symbolic gesture to right leaning evangelicals but yeah you will find that sort of thing in their past.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Americans For Responsible Solutions

As a Western woman and a Persian Gulf War combat veteran who have exercised our Second Amendment rights, we don't want to take away your guns any more than we want to give up the two guns we have locked in a safe at home. What we do want is what the majority of NRA members and other Americans want: responsible changes in our laws to require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence.
I'm game, Gabby and Mark [from linked op-ed].

Oh ...

The Pirates! Band of Misfits was BORING and was pretty disappointed since I was led to believe it was a quirky fun sort of film.   Snow White and the Huntsman (technical nominations) was also pretty boring. Was told Argo (read book) and Flight (Denzel) are good, but not really into watching them.  A bit curious about Hitchcock (technical) and Sessions, not much else than the two earlier referenced.  AIDS doc got lots of praise though.

Oscar Nominations

Silver Linings Playbook (though like the nod to Jacki Weaver) is a good film, but really, Best Picture worthy?! Helen Hunt? Wasn't she the LEAD in that film? I never heard of Beasts of the Southern Wild until now. Somewhat weak field, imho, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty probably two favorites. Haven't seen either yet. Mirror Mirror is the "bad film" nominee.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Division Round

HC of Redskins is an asshole for leaving RGIII in. My favs: Broncos, 49ers (Packs be okay), Seahawks (current personal favorite) and Texans (creamed last time; Pats current "please lose"). Should be some better match-ups this time. Seattle/GB rematch with real refs?

The Ballot

I'm with a local sports guy that MLB not seriously enforcing the steroid ban has resulted in a karma result this year with no one on the ballot. I'm not horrified or anything and wouldn't be surprised if it will only be a temporary thing. But, this isn't jail -- the "due process" required here is different. And, the past is the past. We are dealing now with the issue. So, no talk of greenies in 1965. Also, records should take into consideration current conditions.

Personal Note

Note to self: If you can't take to heart that comic about "someone is wrong on the Internet," a break might be needed. No really. Just one more Pringles potato chip! It's okay!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

"I Was Wounded; My Honor Wasn’t"

Rape is horrible. But it is not horrible for all the reasons that have been drilled into the heads of Indian women. It is horrible because you are violated, you are scared, someone else takes control of your body and hurts you in the most intimate way. It is not horrible because you lose your “virtue.” It is not horrible because your father and your brother are dishonored. I reject the notion that my virtue is located in my vagina, just as I reject the notion that men’s brains are in their genitals.
Powerful op-ed.


Strong episode though I didn't like the violent (cliffhanger) ending, especially the death of a little used female character. Ziva's father was a warrior of sorts, so okay, though doesn't she have enough death? (see, e.g., her brother), but the director's wife ... ugh to that.

Coffe Shop God

I happened to watch the author give an interview about her documentary that "addresses universal ideas of forgiveness [including a face to face with the killer] and redemption," a sequel to the title book, which deals with her emotions after finding out about her brother's murder. The book is a raw cry of the heart with photos. More here.

Debts and Coins

I think Dorf makes some good points here and in his longer article, which also alludes to the argument that "debt" might not (the USSC barely directly dealt with the matter) include "obligations" like social security benefits (he supports a broader understanding).  Technically legal or not, I also think the platinum coin idea is real stupid.  Not into stupid.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Debt, Silver Linings, Brennan and VAWA

Again, I will deal with a few things here. First, per my quickie comment on the debt ceiling. I really should research this topic a bit more, including reading the extended analysis alluded to by one of the links. Volokh Conspiracy recently covered an obscure issue that I along with others thought was a bit silly -- the alleged invalidity of using an autopen if the President is not true "present" in front of the bill in question. This matter is a bit more serious, but I will get back to it.  Anyway, added a few thoughts in response to a comment for that post.

Read the book Silver Linings Playbook, having seen the film on Christmas (not Jewish, but we then went to our traditional Chinese dinner) and liking it overall.  Still, was not totally comfortable with the Hollywood cute romantic comedy ending, after early scenes seriously dealt with mental health and family dynamics issues. The book handles things rather differently though the basic characters are the same (e.g., the father played by DeNiro in the film is recognizable, but partially for matters of plot, the film changes his job).  I recognize books and films do things differently, so the changes aren't necessarily a problem.  Up to a point.

The people I went to see the film thought it dragged after awhile and the book hits a sort of wall about 2/3 of the way through as well.  The book does a much better job than the movie to seriously understand the viewpoint of the character here, who comes off less cutely troubled than seriously troubled ... though he has the support that he needs, which is an important message as it is.  The dance competition here is also a key milestone, but here there is still a 1/3 of the book left. This 1/3 is still good, if not as strong and raw as the first part.

The book here solely in the guy's voice also again makes you want to know more about Tiffany though we get to know the brother a bit more.  Book is touching and amusing and though the ending is more low key, liked it. Overall, recommend the book and people can like both for different reasons though I think the movie could have been stronger with a different lead.  The other characters played their parts well though Jennifer Lawrence is much younger than the thirty-something character in the book.  The film's ultimate path (including a weird moment where Pat is whispering in his ex's ear) is basically compelled by the Hollywood macho lead while the book is more realistic.

In Mr. Obama’s first term, Mr. Brennan, 57, has played a central role in the oversight of Mr. Obama’s use of targeted killing of suspected terrorists using drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. He has become one of the president’s most trusted advisers, and administration officials had said that the C.I.A. job was his for the asking.
Apparently, Obama's idea is to pick someone both the left (Brennan) and right (Hagel) finds problematic.  The NYT article (see also, e.g., the book Kill or Capture) suggests Brennan is a picked bag, but some are quite concerned about his support or lack of opposition to let's say waterboarding.  I'm willing to accept that the truth is somewhat mixed, but if you want to succeed the second time to appoint him for CIA chief, let's get something in return. Brennan played a central role in oversight in targeted killing?  Great.  Release to Congress the actual legal memoranda used to kill an American citizen.

To some scorn, I suggested this very well was legal and not "assassination," but am firmly in support (as are the likes of Jack Goldsmith) of releasing the analysis used.  There is no real reason why the memoranda used should not be released.  I understand and welcome that Holder and others summarized the basic reasoning. Also, recent comments by a judge ruing on FOIA requests on this matter were overblown.  Still, Obama is to be praised for releasing various secret memoranda on national security matters from the Bush years, facing some internal opposition for doing so.  He didn't just release a summary of the logic of the memoranda in question.  This would be a good time to put up in the same respect regarding something his own administration did.

Finally, the House Republicans have blocked the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, in part over questions regarding the constitutionality of giving more authority of local Native American courts over non-Indians and concerns about giving benefits to undocumented women.  A recent heinous rape in the news underlines what is at stake here.  See also, this personal account about a commentator I listen to from time to time.  Like using gun violence as a strong reminder of just what is at stake, these horrible crimes serve as a reminder that the VAWA should not be held hostage, especially when it passes the Senate by 68 votes. This is strongly "bipartisan" these days.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Sorta Bummer WC Weekend

Like the Bengals, Colts kept it close, but eventually missed a FG and the closing blow made it 24-9. Redskins started well but RGIII was not himself from the start and Seattle went ahead 21-14. Then, RGIII went down. Blah. Rooting for Seattle but that was not good.


Flipping thru the channels last night, caught a few minutes of a Law & Order: SVU episode about a priest who molested children. First, someone noted the number of priests caught molesting children & then another noted this was a tiny fraction of all priests. Both true and dealing with serious problems requires perspective. See also, the ongoing gun debate.

Rev. Joe (Darwin and God)

A quick bit on this. As noted, Darwin was sure to be low key to respect the religious beliefs of his wife, but personally was probably eventually an agnostic. Privately, he admitted God didn't have much a place in "natural selection." But, some assumptions aside, his theories were accepted by many religious figures of his time, including a former professor.

Football, Darwin and Vietnam

A few things. First, the Wild Card games yesterday were a bit lame.  Bengals/Houston was a a matter of scoring just enough to win it.  Houston better do better if they think they will have a shot at being the Pats though their Defense was okay.  I didn't think the Viks would win, but with an early injury to their QB, didn't have a chance.  The 24-10 score was in fact makes it sound closer than it actually was, the one TD obtained in garbage time.  Hopefully, today's games will be better.

Mentioned watching Creation, the Darwin biopic, again recently, particularly the commentary track and some of the extras.  To clarify, my problem with the film was two-fold: the parts with him struggling over the death of his daughter was heavy-handed and the timeline was pretty garbled.  Origin of Species was published over five years after her death though the viewer might think once he was over her death, he was able to get back to work along with the impetus of another person sending him a monograph on the idea.  The film has various good individual scenes, but its sense of time was confused.  Also, heavy-handed.

Paul Johnson's mini-bio on Darwin was a good read, providing a type of thumbnail sketch of his life and work. I recall at least looking at and maybe reading his similar effort for Socrates, not wishing to read long book on the subject.  With the Internet and all, it is harder for me these days to get into longer books, so these smaller books on various subjects, including American presidents and court cases are appreciated.  I also think it provides the general public a means to get a taste of various subjects.

Johnson also provides an honest account, including Darwin's weaknesses on discussing the human condition as compared to animal/plant life.  Also, he is not totally "innocent" as to Social Darwinism, including opposing birth control and maybe even vaccination laws. Darwin did not really get into the social applications of this theories per this account, in fact, he was loathe to get into such complications given what happen when science clashed with religion (and his concern with his wife's religious beliefs).  Still, Johnson notes Darwin was a bit too enthused with "survival of the fittest" type language, even though scientific evidence suggests a more slow, less dramatic process.  He however was apparently thrown by Malthusian thought.  Interesting ideas.  His relationship with his wife also seems interesting -- wish more of that was there. 

Finally, an additional word about the Vietnam lecture I referenced.  The professor talked about the commonly believed "fact" that various vets were spit at when they came back from Vietnam.  She asked the students when they first heard about this and few were clear exactly (other than in their assigned readings) when this was.  I thought about this myself and also couldn't remember when exactly I first read or heard about that. It is one of those things heard about from various sources, often secondhand discussions and analysis.  It's like when you say something on a chat board and they challenge you.  It is not so easy to research the issue and show where you obtained you material, even if it is pretty clearly true.

Some have dealt with the spitting matter -- as the professor noted -- and came to various conclusions.  She noted, e.g., a debate between a Slate article and a Volokh Conspiracy analysis of it.  One analysis that seemed to conclusively determine that it actually didn't happen was put to the test and the judgment of the professor and others was that it itself deserved to be taken with a grain of salt.  For instance, she noted a quick reference in a 1970 (or so) interview of spitting, so it wasn't just some urban legend brought up later, including in Rambo movies.

OTOH, I got the sense it was exaggerated.  It sounds to me like one of those things where it very well might have happened once or a few times and it became a "thing," a symbol. This would include not spitting in particular, but let's say chants of "baby killer" or general mistreatment.  And, since it was made a lot bigger than it was and hard evidence is hard to come by (no Youtube), it was easy also to assume nothing happened.  As the professor notes, not all war protestors were nice people.  She also was amused at one analysis of why it didn't happen that included the "fact" that well women don't spit, so accounts of them doing it doesn't make sense.

A good reminder of the nuance required in historical analysis and analysis of many things in general.  Again, interesting lecture.  

Saturday, January 05, 2013

"14A Option" and Debt Ceiling

I also think the section involved is vague enough that there is no clear answer, so the President has no crystal clear power/responsibility to unilaterally do something really novel here. This also affects public reaction. Realistically, the drop dead date would not occur for some time and a political solution of sorts will occur. Pondering the issues is fine.

Talk About Hard Cases

Hard to find a better case for the death penalty (lifer killing of a guard during an escape attempt) and one of the two involved has been (quickly) executed after a mandatory appeal. One sentence was struck down. I can understand not being absolutist but some categorical rules are valid, even with the presence of very hard cases. I'm well aware of such things.

Wild Card Round

I look forward to the Seattle/Redskins game and think the QB's injury might lean things toward Seattle. Hope for the Colts (but uphill battle), Bengals might be an upset (be sad if Texans slipped from #1 to out) and Viks unlikely to win again vs. the Packers. Good games.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Vietnam Vets

Interesting lecture (separately, C-SPAN has an interview connected to her book) "about the treatment of soldiers returning from the Vietnam War" and other matters. Addresses, e.g., the whole "were they spit at" controversy. She has that nerd hot thing going down. Love that official countdown calendar in the shape of a nude woman that you color in. Really.

Electoral Vote Count

The sixth being a Sunday, this was moved up to today. The VP is there per the 12A, even though he himself won.  Would he preside if he was impeached?!

Senate Appointment Law Still Seems Okay

I'm still not convinced the strings attached appointment regime used to fill the seat in Hawaii is problematic. Again, the party is offering the options, not the legislature. Providing strings does not seem to be clearly prohibited. Forcing the governor to act might be an issue, but it is all academic anyway unless s/he refuses to or formally appoints someone under protest.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Sen. Gillibrand Sworn In

Well, the "mock" photo-op version. Biden really clowns it up in the video.

Emancipation Proclamation Turns 150

Some interesting book discussions on C-SPAN on the event, working with legislative action (including preventing the military to send fugitive slaves back) to show what happened when (often voluntary) continual federal support of slavery went the other way. It also suggests constitutional flexibility, when desired, so this sort of thing is a tad overblown.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Nicely Put

benefits of robust family planning in terms of expanding gender equality, avoiding costly unwanted pregnancies, increasing childhood health and achievement, and enhancing economic security are worth [it]
I concur with this comment on a recent thread regarding the contraceptive mandate and deem it a "compelling state interest" even if there is some "substantial burden" not on employees, but employers that wish to refuse on religious grounds to cover them.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

College Bowl Update

There are a mess of them, but admit I have little concern about them. SC had two and two wins, both basically on the last play (the Gamecocks left a few seconds on the clock). The Tigers made up for a recent bowl embarrassment. The favored Gamecocks today won on a quick final drive, not needing to risk a third failed FG attempt. Bit lame there.

Argo (Book)

I have not seen the movie though someone I know really liked it. The book was good though, well written (maybe helped by the co-author) in the way of a thriller. The actual "Argo" operation (the name has an amusing "R" rated explanation) takes only part of it, the seizure of the Iranian embassy as a whole and some background on the lead CIA agent involved filling the rest. Mendez has two other books, one that focuses some on his second wife.


Senate Passes Legislation to Allow Taxes on Affluent to Rise
Article. And, many "affluent" will not be affected. My last comment was a bit optimistic (so to speak) -- the House still has to pass the deal. Welcome to 2013!

2013: Off the Fiscal Cliff (Curb)

lock in a variety of higher rates on income above $450,000.
Since that is about the "middle class" line. A majority of people in my city make less than 50K. That isn't really "middle class" for a family, yes, but the line there is imho a fraction of 450K. I'm not alone here [50K figure in one of links]. But, such is reality, not political reality.