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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Elizabeth Edwards

Turned out she was more likable than her husband. Caught her once at an appearance for one of her books; found one of them in the library recently. Good profile of her eldest daughter.

Summer Orders

SCOTUSBlog totally ignores them (including on its calendar) but the third scheduled order day just passed, admittedly without much of interest. Still, why not note it? Glossip was one of the cases as usual denied a rehearing. Tinkering continues with complications. A reasoned account that supports this. And, one who does not. Well, other than me.

“The Thing That Couldn’t Die”

The Svengoolie option last nite was a replay of this fun 1950s time capsule of sorts that is enjoyably cheesy. As is often the case in these films, the ending is rather abrupt, things quickly sewn up in the last few minutes in somewhat lame fashion. Most well known face.

And Also: Inspiration? The video shows how fun the film is, including "G" rated salaciousness. Seriously, it isn't bad taken seriously either. TV Tropes also covered it.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Review Quickies

RT reviews provide a 99% positive vote for Selma but couldn't really get into it (have less patience these days so shrugs but did seem to drag) and its portrayal of LBJ bothers me. A few levels down on the serious meter, Free Fall had potential, and well cast, but an elevator turned out to be too restricted for an action film. In right mood, decent "B" flick. Meanwhile, unfortunately, that latter end of the alphabet for Sue Grafton continues to underwhelm.

"Illegal Alien"

Birthright citizenship is back in the news with Trump et. al. and the discussion has reached familiar blogs. Lot of material there, including from me. One useful citation addresses the subject label, which I have attacked in the past. The problem of replying to abrasive poor reasoning online sorts arises too. Just so hard to ignore, especially the educated ones.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Polygamy Litigation

The SSM ruling specifically cited monogamy as one of four components of marriage so it's an imperfect avenue to advance polygamy claims. Though the brief to uphold a district court ruling regarding a "purported to be marry" law includes some open-ended language, religious liberty, the right to cohabit and selective prosecution issues make that a narrower case.


Some were offended by the NY Daily News cover with a screenshot of the news reporter when she saw a gun pointed at her, but this analysis has bite. It is shocking in a good way, not just exploitation. A follow-up cover on the number of gun deaths since Newtown underlines the good faith. Yes, America is "full of it" with the momentary horror followed by forgetting. Meanwhile, good discussion of dissent.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Top-free Rights for Women: A Showdown in Manhattan

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

OMG (for real)

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

-- Chris Hurst (on Twitter)

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


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

And Also: Saw it on YouTube via MTV. Fun. Couple high school versions online too.

Give Us the Ballot

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

Goodbye Mr. Chips

Saturday, August 22, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Promotes a homosexual life-style.

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

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

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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Connecticut Supreme Court Strikes Down Death Penalty

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peyton Place

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dubya MIA

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

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

John Oliver vs. Televangelists

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

More Voting Bits: Early Voting and Selfies

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

OTD: 19A Ratified

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

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

Sunday, August 16, 2015

0 and 13 vs. Cubs and Pirates

Kinda time for Parnell to go too. Sorry guy.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Schumer: Disqualified to Be Reid's Replacement?

I think he comes off as an asshole and too beholden to the PTB at times, but was basically resigned to him over alternatives. He did his part to promote party interests and Harry Reid endorsed him. But this argument by Josh Marshall is pretty convincing. If Iraq was a line in the sand in 2008 vs. Clinton, why not Iran here? Have doubts it will matter though.

And Also: As noted in a comment here, his remarks on ACA are appalling too.

Late Nite Bits

It's only pre-season, but why do I fear that today's "effort" from the NYJ won't be atypical now that Geno Smith is out for six to eight weeks? Elizabeth Banks seems to reference video interviews she has made pretty "badass" from her online presence. Saw Mistresses was on, which I liked a bit a summer or two again. Didn't know it was still on. So many shows.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Texas Executes Cop Killer Who Sought Death Over Lawyer's Objection

USSC denied a stay request (Ginsburg/Sotomayor dissenting on limited grounds) and Daniel Lopez was executed over the opposition of his lawyer. He was under 30 and wanted to die but there was some question of his mental state. Troublesome case though if he was mentally fit it would be a sane choice. But, if the state didn't have the power as applied here, still would have been wrong. RBG/Breyer still provided no statement per them saying the death penalty itself is probably unconstitutional. They blithely let executions go forward.

And Also: Two things. The lawyer in part argues his act wasn't death eliglible. Also, a desired organ donation was complicated by the drug used. One more reason for firing squads?

Woman in Gold

This is a pretty good (the flashback scenes in particular) film and apparently fairly accurate (various tweaks to remind us this is still film history; the "six months later" move from district court to Supreme Court oral argument annoyed me in its brevity) personal story about a woman recovering a valuable (and very personal) painting wrongly taken by the Nazis. Well acted with a few nice bits including a familiar face as a district judge.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tonya Harding

For some reason, this 1990s tabloid case came to mind. As some noted here, the whole thing is sad given her talent. There is some "princess" v. "trailer trash" vibe there. The sex tape, this time willingly sold, is available online. Kids today take this largely in stride. She's clearly a troubled soul who made her bed/was rightly punished but in some sense seems like an underdog that you hope is doing okay. Being more than a joke. etc.

Geno Smith Punched In Jaw


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Wealth as Suspect Classification

Interesting discussion. As noted by one comment, the concept of "suspect" class is sort of out of date, but I'd note the various criteria pop up in various forms as in the SSM cases. The immediate question is technically open but it is better seen as a concern for various rights like voting or court access. As to why not, a mix of it not being "personal" as in part of one's being like race or sex and a general sentiment that it is okay to so classify up to a point.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Nothing apparent of interest in today's orders. RIP Justice Stevens wife.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Book Lovers Day

Garnett et al. on Tax-Exempt Status and Religious (and Other) Organizations

Should government insist that all private organizations comply with its own sense of the good?

No, overly broad comment not allowing a reply. There are various complexities involved here and "good" is just too open-ended anyway. Racial discrimination or rules over environmental protection are both a form of "good." There are also concerns related to let's say cafeteria employees versus students/academic personnel or things like health insurance needs. I would allow wiggle room and some local discretion but "it depends."

Iran Nuclear Deal

Overall, I support the Iran deal at least as the best option available. One liberal constitutional scholar continues his Cassandra routine on the matter here (see my comments). For constitutional and related analysis see here (plus links). As suggested by my comments, the whole thing is a bit complicated but overall Obama's reasonableness is appreciated.

And Also: A bit on the Republican debate and RBG's retirement from me here.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Kid Power

A good discussion (with links to more) on how the rights of children is an important part of same sex marriage and so forth. Moore v. City of East Cleveland to me is a prime case, one that protects children by guarding against "forcing all to live in certain narrowly defined family patterns." And, a developing tradition ala Justice Harlan is cited with application here.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Some Useful PP Material

How PP uses funding and how "most apolitical public health experts agree that critical combination — access to care and contraception — should take most of the credit" for abortion reduction. The value of fetal tissue research. How anti-abortion Republicans supported it in the past. What happens when you defund. Again, THIS is the issue? PP?

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

PP Defunding Vote

The 60 vote barrier helped here, since only one Republican (two Dems voted for it) voted against it. One annoying thing, voiced by some Dems, was "tone." Concern trolling about talking to supposed tissue procurers etc. is aggravating if expected CYA (on pro-choice side). Irin Carmon and Amanda Marcotte (discuss another point in that thread, though some want to ignore it; response is notable) was great on Twitter during the debate.

Monday, August 03, 2015

RBG's Latest

A couple things from the latest RBG (other justices, including Alito and Stevens, also made their views known): openness by SCOTUS will serve as a model. Her opposition there is misguided. Also, her focus on equality in the SSM cases is expected given her history but the idea by a few (going by some comments I've seen) that only Kennedy would have gone the liberty route (with a key splash of equality) is still overblown. Breyer/Sotomayor focused on marriage itself in questioning, and separately, Stevens noted his support of the opinion.


John Oliver -- D.C.

The show last night covered the current unrepresented status of D.C. with only a non-voting member (she can only vote in committee), underlining that this isn't what other countries do (a notable point rarely noted). Pretty good though didn't note Congress could simply redistrict the population so Maryland could represent them. An amendment would be best, since the 23A was woefully limited in scope. Two senators for a city not necessary imho.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

"Twice she struck at his neck with all her might, and cut off his head."

The painter had an interesting life. Saw both a movie and play years back on her life. The picture portrays the climax of the Book of Judith, canon or not, one of best in the collection.

Odds and Ends

Interesting development regarding Native Americans and marijuana. The anti-oligarchical Constitution. Re-read this interesting book (especially regarding cyclical views and the role of each branch and the people, not just the courts) on Andrew Jackson and the Constitution. Commented on Cecil the Lion here (on a matter covered in the OP, see my comments here).