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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mets Thoughts

Mets are in the midst of a little winning streak and managed to win a game that looked blown. Call-up Tyler Pill looked good, after struggling in a 10th inning appearance the other day. They got themselves in a under .500 hole and the Wild Card competition is tough. But, this is how to win and hopefully Matz/Lugo actually come back soon as scheduled and help.

And Also: Veep is somewhat disappointing this season though it still has a lot of skill, especially with all the parts involved. Great set design and lines. But, it seems to lack a certain energy now that Selina is out of office. This is so even in a few well praised episodes.

Update: Of course, lose two, one where DeGrom stinks, the other where the offense does.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Orders and opinions today. Nothing remarkable, some things notable. June home stretch upon us.

For whatever reason, the Supreme Court again did not make final decisions on a few notable cases, particularly one involving selling cakes that were deemed too pro-gay. That one has been "relisted" multiple times, including after Gorsuch came on board.  Also, in footnote news, the justices took back the suspension of an attorney's membership, noting it was a case of mistaken identity.  [Update: He never was a member of the Supreme Court bar, actually. And, this article says this isn't the first case of mistaken identity. Maybe make sure before printing it in an order for all to see?] Also, a couple more cases from gadflies that resulted in no quorum, so the opinion below was deemed final.
After being relisted only once, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Husted v. A.Philip Randolph Institute from the Sixth Circuit.  The question presented is: “Whether 52 U.S.C. § 20507 permits Ohio’s list-maintenance process, which uses a registered voter’s voter inactivity as a reason to send a confirmation notice to that voter under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.”
Rick Hasen summarizes it and it might be the most notable thing decided today; others are also concerned since the voters won and there was no circuit split.  With this Court, therefore, the rule set forth to allow purging of voting lists in such a way that legitimate voters will be harmed (the 2002 law specifically in part was concerned with the problems in that respect in Florida/2000).  Regarding said Court, in an otherwise not too notable case (Sotomayor alone partially dissented), Judge Gorsuch was for the first time officially cited as being involved.  So, I'll just consider it 7.5-.5. Yeah, sticking to it: his seat is tainted.

One of the orders involved asking for the solicitor general's opinion (CVSG) in a patent case and one of the opinions (again with but one justice partially dissenting) involved such a case (printer toner).  The other two are unanimous criminal justice opinions.  As I noted there in a comment, it's a case with sympathetic facts (with 2A implications!) and hopefully the parties will get some relief.  But, the justices at oral argument flagged their concerns with the specific legal rule set forth below.  Justice Alito in his opinion leaves open the chance of still winning on the general rule to determine unreasonableness in place.  So, it's apparently a minimalist opinion, suggested by its brevity.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

Best way to honor the memory of the dead might be to promote peace.

Vegan White Castle

Before being a vegetarian, years back, had White Castle occasionally. Need like four or five of those things. Had a two for one coupon, so tried the veggie slider. (There is also a black bean version.) Nutritious but without onions etc. a bit bland; and at $1.31 each (more than regular), a bit expensive for that size. But, helpful you could pay with a credit card.

And Also: This is not related, honestly, but she's cute. She's a Target girl too.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Colour Bar: the Triumph of Seretse Khama and his Nation

Fea [discussed] the various reasons why people study history[:] for inspiration, to escape the pressures of modernity, to form a personal or social identity, for role models, to advance certain political positions.
I would add the basic enjoyment of reading stories, here non-fiction ones, and also "empathy, humility, and selflessness." 

Saw United Kingdom, the movie version of this book concerning the African prince Seretse Khama marrying a white woman* in the late 1940s, which lead to a five year exile from his native Botswana (though it would only become that upon independence in the 1960s) largely to satisfy the concerns of racist South African neighbors. The title of the book is fitting in that the book does focus on both Seretse Khama and his nation as a whole -- the book basically ends with its independence with a short summary of the fifteen or so years he was president (died fairly young) and his wife living around twenty more years. 

Thus, though by the end perhaps with too much detail (all the names really get confusing after a while), we repeatedly get a view of the people themselves struggling against the injustice of the exile and even a somewhat positive view of his uncle whose opposition to the marriage antagonized the situation. We also get a sense of the life and experiences of Ruth Khama as well.  There is inspiration to spare in this story, including role models on how to handle injustice with grace. 

This means the book is not just about the love story of two people, but a more complete account (basically spanning twenty years) of a nation.  One today that has its struggles, but as the Wikipedia entry notes: "has maintained a strong tradition of stable representative democracy, with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections."  Overall, it is a touching love story as well as an informative history of the times and his people's support of her a reassuring reflection of human nature.

The movie was well put together and the leads were very good, but didn't quite work (mixed thumbs up as a whole though) -- perhaps, the simplistic evil British functionary (a composite character; hey! it's the guy from Coupling, who now repeatedly plays such roles) and somewhat generic plot twists (the book didn't have his sister at first upset at him marrying someone outside of the tribe; which doesn't mean  the book is totally on point there, but the movie version does seem stereotypical). The film also compresses things so we don't get as full of an accounting of the people's involvement in the protest and so forth. It is granted that a movie and a book aren't on the same level, especially the ability to tell a story that spans years in around two hours. Still, has issues.

[Spoiler Alert Ahead.] Speaking about the UK, Love, Actually has a sequel of sorts -- a short in honor of Red Nose Day, a charity.  It's charming. Oh, "Joe" (the rock star's long suffering manager) might be dead, but the actor isn't!


* Ruth Williams was a "confidential clerk," from a respectable middle class family, but her "commoner" status also complicated things. Another future African leader a little later also married a white woman, but she was more well off and the politics of the situation was different because his home (Ghana) did not have to deal with the problems of South Africa. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Tommy Arthur Executed

A 75 year old's luck finally ran out after he was executed for a 1982 murder for hire scheme. I think at this point executing him is gratuitous. Sotomayor (thanks Obama) was the only justice on the record dissenting, still concerned about the usage of midazolam and specifically not allowing his lawyers use of a phone to call a judge if something came up. Final result expected but was drawn out over evening and was executed at last minute.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

4CA Decides Travel Ban Case

[There is also the special election in Montana, the end result more depressing after eventual winner attacked a reporter on election eve.  The positive is that it was a lot closer than it really had every right to be and we are not talking swing-vote territory in 2018.  The guy did lose a state-wide race for governor, but that's a more important position than one of many.  It also is a continual chain around the Republicans' neck. Still, depressing.]
Additionally, Judge [Roger] Gregory places a great deal of weight on the fact that Trump did not consult with his own agencies before announcing a sweeping change to the nation’s foreign policy. The Trump administration's claim that the Muslim ban was necessary for national security reasons “is belied by evidence in the record that President Trump issued the First Executive Order without consulting the relevant national security agencies, and that those agencies only offered a national security rationale after [this executive order] was enjoined,” Gregory wrote.
The ruling en banc (10-3, two conservatives recused, one having a family connection to the government advocate) in the travel/Muslim [to make a conclusion] ban case accelerates the trip to the Supreme Court.  The Think Progress piece might not fully address the possibilities (see below), but is a helped summary.  See also, here and related links. I admit to leaning toward advocacy here so these links lean in a certain direction.

First, the author of the main opinion is notable as the first black judge to serve on the Fourth Circuit  and conclusion of a long fight during the Clinton Administration.  Clinton finally recess appointed him at the end of his term and President Bush re-nominated him as an early sign of comity (the Senate not yet in the Democrats' hands).  Republicans argued that there were enough judges already, apparently the number of slots advisory based on need or something. This approach was appealed to again during the Obama Administration and factored in to the filibuster rule change (whatever it was technically, that is what it was in practice). 
Except that, if four years from now the United States is looking at President Rand Paul and Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley, the question of whether Chairman Grassley honors the single-senator veto will not be up to anyone other than Grassley himself.
The confirmation of Judge Gorsuch continued that rule change policy, if without similar credible justifiable grounds except for raw power.  The practice of blue slips continues to be a question, but that earlier warning appears to have been prescient except for the "Rand Paul" part (too optimistic). Somewhat as suggested in the earlier linked discussion, the concept of a blue strip (which the "blue" party now appreciates, but maybe long term might not) is not really absurd.  It is how it is carried out so that one senator (or two) has a full effective veto instead of in effect providing a sort of rebuttable presumption that something is wrong with a nominee that is of specific concern of the senator's state.  This to be is a possibly useful division of labor if not abused.  But, like the filibuster, it has been.

Moving on from this relevant aside (note the membership of the 4CA), see also here (various comments) for discussion on the travel ruling.  As I repeatedly do, find fault with the suggestion by the self-labeled Never Trump conservative author of the piece (if one who at times is in "well it's done" mode, including calling it absurd or silly to cite emoluments, possibility of 25A removal and other things)  that the case at the earliest would be heard in December. The full court of appeals addressed the revised order by late May.  It is remarkable really how quickly some of these court rulings are coming down though it might be a mixed bag on this specific matter.  If they wanted to, the Supreme Court need not wait that long.  Of course, it might be moot to some degree by then. Also, though the end result is probably expected, there is a 9CA case to be decided.

The professor elsewhere rejected the idea of using campaign statements, which is addressed in a comment. But, it's useful to note that there is a middle path here.  One concurring opinion, e.g., argued that we should and could merely rely on statements after he took his oath to reach the same result.  Candidates might change their mind or the like once they are in office, and once they are their words and actions have an additional level of importance.  Likewise, by my count, more than one concurring judge here argues Trump lacked the power to do what he did on statutory grounds.

This provides the Supreme Court a possible means to set forth a limited judgment, even if they makes some references to concerns about the religious animus point.  The specifics on that point is beyond my expertise but it has been offered as a grounds of judgment here and in the process furthers process and separation of powers ends.  As noted early on, Trump here rushed the order in a way criticized as slipshod though advancing his overall goals perhaps of making things more personal.  To the degree this is allowed, it still is a perilous approach especially by a this buffoon.

The broader approach argues that under Justice Kennedy's (with Alito though he might not go along if it is used to overturn the government) concurrence in Kerry v. Din, executive discretion involving entry on non-citizens has to meet some sort of minimum legitimate purpose test. This is a favored device of Kennedy in particular as seen in multiple cases involving the rights of homosexuals.  And, those cases also show that it has some bite, at least in cases held to be extreme.  This also gets around a 1970s case that gives broad discretion though one might [especially in respect to 1A interests] push against its validity today.

The statutory argument might be harder to make since constitutional avoidance principles counsel applying it not in the best way but in a reasonable way that avoids such problems.  But, there is comparable concern about avoiding a decision that the government is acting unconstitutionally.  Thus, the more limited judgments here are intriguing. As a whole, there are a lot of eloquent remarks, including the first few sentences of the main opinion itself.  Events meanwhile continue to occur.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical

As noted here, this book lays it on a tad thick, including some suppositions. The basic idea that the books are deeper than one might think is not novel, though you might think so at times. Still, a lot of interesting stuff, especially if taken with salt. She focuses on the six completed novels, so Lady Susan et. al. are barely noted. A bit on Sanditon. The stuff in Jane's voice (each chapter starts with a passage with this conceit) seems a tad forced.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Various notable cases still up in the air (including the cake-shop case) but Rick Hasen argues it actually was a good day [Gorsuch/Thomas want to take case; Gorsuch conservative, duh watch] for voting rights [Thomas joins liberals perhaps since it furthers the strict scrutiny for any sort of race usage principle]. Kagan v. Alito is fun. Other cases appear dull/uncontroversial, including (yes) a limited process by mail rules opinion.

ETA: Election Law Blog now has various perspectives on the case. The patent case is of significance in that area; the other case in a limited way just clears up a dispute.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Terry Collins

Terry Collins now has been a manager with the Mets longer than any other and (not leader here) is one win away from 500 with them. After leaving the Angels (who the team just played) under negative circumstances, just becoming a manager again looked like a longshot. Overall, with the messes he had to handle, his tenure is appreciated. He made bad calls, but repeatedly, it is more a matter of a bad hand. This season included. Good luck.

Trump Abroad

It is appreciated that a special counsel was appointed, eventually, to investigate Russia's connection with the election and Trump though it shouldn't mean Congress (and others!*) should stop investigating.  As that link and this more liberal leaning blog notes, someone appointed by the Trump Administration (or the executive itself) with a criminal investigation mindset does not get to all the issues, including political.

Meanwhile, Trump has gone to meet with the Saudis.  First, we have the usual hypocrisy related to funds given to Ivanka supported fund.  (Trump also in the past called out Michelle Obama for not covering her head when she went to Saudi Arabia; no prize for lack of surprise Ivanka and Melania not doing it either)  Some are glad Trump was able to read a speech though also making fun of the photo here involving the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology.  The speech itself has some issues as does the weapons deal agreed to that was less concerned with human rights concerns than the still concerning Obama Administration policy.

A bit from the speech.  There is the usual b.s. self-praise (“new spirit of optimism is sweeping our country: in just a few months” etc.) and this bit:
A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.

    DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship.
    DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities.
    DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and
Repeated caps in this speech. This is a rather troubling bloody tone though a bit ironic given the “extremists” found in Saudi Arabia leadership. There is also this:
If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and YOUR SOUL WILL BE CONDEMNED.
When I want to know what happens to my soul, Trump is the guy I’d go to. There is a lot of basic boilerplate to this speech (including nice noises about Islam that seem fake coming from Trump) but these excerpts suggest some dubious aspects.  There is a lot of fun with that stupid looking shiny globe thing referenced above, but let's not ignore the substantive things going on.

One tidbit covered in one of the articles linked is that there is a suggestion the Saudis will invest a lot of money in U.S. infrastructure, which would appeal to the Trump Administration given its plans to have a major infrastructure bill (as Dear Leader types like him tend to do to get populist cred with more ability to spread his seed ... mean name ... around too, I gather). Also, there is concerns with Yemen (the kill! kill! kill! tone is trouble there in particular given Saudi's role), Iran (which clashes with the Saudis) etc.  A credible person in the White House helps here.

The bottom line is that this is hard stuff, the U.S. policy has issues as is and Trump being there just makes it worse in certain ways.


* This would be particularly the press, though there is some "now a warning" feel about it being so very excited now that Trump is in office.  This post is not meant to cover all the bases, but should note that the "now a trend" habit of not having U.S. press at major events (even if Russia press is invited!) is horrible. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

On Being Raped

Almost a long essay, this discusses a (male) professor's rape by a priest at 18 and the long aftermath (up to the present). Tough reading but eloquent. Interesting the book doesn't cover telling his wife and/or the specific decision to tell.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

J.W. Ledford Jr. Executed

As noted in the article here, after twenty-five years in prison [at some point, just keep on going], his last minute appeals failed. First, he tried to push the "no execution" line from 18 to 21. There is evidence for that but the law has not really caught up. Second, he argued the lethal injection drug (not the one getting so much attention recently) would clash with his other medication. Another fail on the "I want the firing squad" argument. Tinker tinker.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Opinion Day

Inaction was the name of the game for orders, including in the "that's still open?!" cakeshop case and not taking the NC voting rights case (Roberts tacking on a statement to me implying he supports the law). One or more gun cases might still be open. Two unanimous opinions (except that Thomas dissented in one, sticking with his decades long opposition to precedent) and a 5-3 one where Breyer split with the liberals in a debt collector regulation involving bankruptcy courts case. Sotomayor had a strong dissent.

"Justice For Mercedes"

Wary about tacking on fifty years to a state life sentence (not a big fan of that by itself for someone under 30) for a heinous murder of a trans teen. The teen received "justice" there and this is a form of gratuitous double jeopardy in the form of a message by the feds. Such laws are best left to when states somehow cannot or do not have suitable prosecutions. Be clear the person pleaded guilty last December. This wasn't much of a trans right moment for Sessions/Trump. The heavy sentence makes it not free from problems even on that level.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Court Rejects Commerce Clause Challenge To Dylann Roof's Church Shooting Conviction

After being sentenced to death in a federal prosecution, Roof was sentenced to nine life sentences after pleading guilty to state murder charges. I don't think the federal government should have stepped in here, which is not a matter of avoiding the death penalty. The state would have sought it surely. It is a matter of good policy, especially evidence SC would combat rabid racism of this sort. The ruling here might be right on law, but as policy pretty weak sauce. Use of GPS navigation satellites? Is usage of email enough now?

ETA: Regarding interests of religious equality and the like, we can federalize any racial attack. The value of federal criminal laws here is symbolism as well as dealing with cases where states for some reason has problems or won't act. Not applicable here. The Boston Marathon bombing is an easier case given size and scope.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bad Argument Cited by Trump Administration in Travel Ban Case / 13A

As the Fourth Circuit prepares to hear oral argument en banc tomorrow about the Trump Administration’s Muslim ban, it should pay careful attention to a subtle but significant citation in the United States’ brief: Palmer v. Thompson. This goes to the heart of the issue of whether and how to establish that the Trump administration acted with discriminatory intent.

One can read a reply to this argument, which is bad on optics alone, here., the source of all anti-Trump legal analysis really, including about the Comey firing. There was some talk on Twitter from more than one person sympathetic about the challenge that the ACLU law didn't do a good job during oral argument. This includes this woman who still thinks the travel ban violates the Establishment Clause.  Hopefully, this is the bottom line, with or without some bad oral advocacy.  Religious liberty is not just a matter of protecting  religious beliefs of some.

Palmer v. Thompson involved a city responding to a judgment against segregated pools by closing them down, arguing they had a neutral reason to do so involving cost and public safety.  It was a close opinion with Justice White writing one his best opinions as the primary dissent.  The primary argument being the government "may not have an official stance against desegregating public facilities and implement it by closing those facilities in response to a desegregation order."  The cost claims was cited as dubious.  The public safety claims in effect a heckler's veto.

So, basically, the lack of a discriminatory purpose [which two justices separately concurred to emphasize; they did not simply deny it should be a thing to worry about]  was a sham.  As noted here, even the reasons offered for taking the closing of the pools at face value is weaker when it is not a matter of trying to determine the intent of a legislature, but one person. It is basic discrimination law that you weigh the evidence here.  Trump comes out badly here.  I noted something Justice Thomas wrote in another matter that arose recently is relevant here:
As long as that intent remains, of course, such a policy cannot continue. And given an initially tainted policy, it is eminently reasonable to make the State bear the risk of nonpersuasion with respect to intent at some future time, both because the State has created the dispute through its own prior unlawful conduct [cite omitted] and because discriminatory intent does tend to persist through time.
Justices Douglas and Marshall (joined by the other two and noting he agreed with Douglas' dissent) wrote dissents as well.  Justice Douglas made various somewhat rambling comments of a somewhat open-ended character about Ninth Amendment rights, the Thirteenth Amendment and so on.  The opposition during oral argument spent some time dealing with the Thirteenth Amendment claim, which apparently was somewhat tacked on late in the day and not given much respect in the majority opinion.  But, even the majority left open -- pursuant to the enforcement clause -- Congress regulating in this area to broadly address "badges of slavery." That is, even if something is not directly slavery or involuntary servitude, Congress can regulate to abolish all aspects of it.  If I might, a sort of "penumbra and emanations" approach.  Or, necessary and proper. *

Even Douglas spent more time with the Ninth Amendment than the Thirteenth Amendment in this case.  He addressed that argument more in Jones v. Mayer, where the Court itself uphold a federal housing discrimination law (versus private action) as legitimate under the enforcement clause.  The Thirteenth Amendment popped up as a sort of also ran later on in City of Memphis v. Greene, involving closing of a street in a way alleged to be discriminatory.  The dissent itself briefly touched upon the argument that the Thirteenth Amendment on its face, without enabling legislation, applied.  So, again, an open question.

The question is complicated by trying to reach the appropriate result in the state action debate.  The Thirteenth Amendment is special in that it directly touches upon private action -- slavery is abolished, even if there is no state action involved.  But, in practice, that really tends to be the case. Slavery and involuntary servitude required various state involvements.  This is true with housing discrimination (enforced in courts and furthered by public policy) and various types of other discrimination in contracts that have been held to be appropriately addressed by federal legislation.  The fact that a too limited view of "state action" is still in place here, The Civil Rights Cases still haunting us, is duly noted.  Section Two help there.

The true reach of the "badges of slavery" and therefore what is necessary for complete freedom honoring the Thirteenth Amendment remains to be answered.  The nature of "slavery" itself is debated as seen by application of the amendment to the abortion context.  We don't need no stinking badges in general here, however, and public policy should recognize this fact.  Basic freedom involves freedom of travel, choice of work, where to live and who to associate with along with a variety of other things lacking to those enslaved.  History is informative here.

The Thirteenth Amendment is particularly concerned with race though "race" has been deemed to be an open-ended thing such as appealing to historical understanding that religious groups are covered. [Lest we forget, this whole discussion is in response to an argument used to uphold the travel ban in a way that discriminates against Muslims.]  So, discrimination that taint in a specific way (see, e.g., Chris Hayes' new book) are a "badge of slavery" by the terms of the amendment.  This overlaps with the Fourteenth Amendment, but in a more open-ended, visceral way, again in part because of its reach to private parties and the harsher character of an amendment directly addressing slavery.


* As applied here, the argument is that closing the pools here was a "badge of slavery" particularly because of a fear of racial intermixing, particularly in such an intimate fashion. Whites might have been deprived of pools too, but the "badge" was rightly felt to be on the blacks in particular.

Racism in general cannot truly be separated from slavery here, racial discrimination over time mixed in with beliefs about the character of blacks and customs/laws growing out of this from slavery on down. So, segregation in Boston in the 1850s very well might be a "badge" of slavery in this fashion, even though slavery was ended in the 1780s.  See also, the dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson regarding segregation. 

Comey Firing

I was trying to find opposition to Comey's nomination back in 2013 on a blog that now is fill with people who basically assume afte the fact it was so obviously stupid. Before asking again in a comment, see the news (on Twitter, of course) Comey was fired. The details are shall we say dubious. The alleged reasons likely specious. In a horrible fashion. Simplistic arguments like "Democrats wanted this" is therefore unconvincing, including because not all of them did. Given whose in power, Comey very well might have been unfortunately the best bet, at least for now. Republican responses have been mixed, some supporting, some "oh well," some "concerned." More reason not to take anything they do and say seriously.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Emmanuel Macron elected president of France (with around 65% of the vote)

Key factor: center right supported him over bad alternative. Cf. Republican Party/Trump.

Latest Mets Drama

Appeared ready to sweep the Nats last weekend, after being swept, with Thor on the mound. Instead, they lost 23-5 (third string catcher pitching two), Thor now on the 60 Day DL. A possibility of a sweep of the Marlins with Harvey up vs. a spot starter was a set-up clearly. Instead, for some reason, Harvey has been suspended and they lost 7-0 with a spot starter of their own struggling. The bright spot was rookie Paul Sewald, now apparently wasted to eat two innings with the Mets' big lead the day before, coming to pitch 3.1 of two run (one on a wild pitch) ball. Since [?] -- team doesn't want just to come clean -- they knew yesterday, they should had held Sewald to start. Could have went four and figure things out from there.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

FCC to Investigate Stephen Colbert Over Controversial Donald Trump Joke

There has been some concern, including from Twitter talk at least that "Trump" directly is involved, of reports of FCC investigation of some Colbert remarks. Feel this is overblown: particularly if they get enough complaints, the FCC is going to investigate. Any fine would be different. As to going too far as matter of discretion, in the heat of the moment, you are going to go that extra bit. Sort of the point of a "rant." Also: PC thoughts.

Kates (and other reading)

I re-read a book entitled Converting Kate some time back, a discussion with some other thoughts on young adult fiction and the like covered here (2008? smh).  A taste:
I like to think that I write about young people but not exclusively for them. Down with distinctions. … well written stories that happen to be about the young can and should be read without apology by adults. If I have, so far, written primarily about young people, it is probably because in my life adolescence is inescapable. Two adolescents are permanent residents [1980] of my house. I taught for many years in a public high school. My own childhood and teenage years stand out in sharp focus for me, most of the time, than more recent stages of my life. Finally, I like young people enormously. I hope I convey that, above all, in my books.

-- Robin F. Brancato
The book has a religious theme, which is timely for the National Day of Prayer (5/4), which has been discussed here in the past.  My general concern has been that the nature of the holiday inherently favors certain types of religion ("prayer" will do that), without even focusing on the groups involved (not exactly ecumenical, itself by definition having a Christian flavor).  It would surprise no one that this is the case this year, even if the ACLU decided it didn't pay (yet) to have a lawsuit arising from the events (left that to more strident groups on such questions).  A day honoring religious freedom or even religion in general would be better.

As seen in the side panel, I also re-read The Trials of Kate Hope, a sort of pun, since it involves a 14 year old lawyer in 1973 Denver. Hopefully, in the fiction universe somewhere, in the spirit of her grandfather, she is still fighting for justice now. Good read and helpful in these times. As one review I found online noted, it would be a good idea for a movie or perhaps even a t.v. series.  The grandfather even not only honored "living" common law (living constitutionalism supporter surely!) but noted that on the whole police do want to tell the truth.  But, still was angry at injustice. The book was published in 2008 though the author [a lawyer himself] was old enough to be familiar with the times. 

These days, in part because of reading so much online (not only though), have less success finding books that interest me (a few attempts at re-reading old ones failed; though as seen, not always).  Quick reading books help in that regard and three I saw at the library in one sitting had that character.  OTOH, did not like them that much as a whole.  The first was a new biography of Beatrix Potter, the movie version of her life was one I enjoyed at the time. Over the Hills and Far Away: The Life of Beatrix Potter was too dry though it did have some nice pictures and large margins. I posted a recent book with lots of pictures geared to younger viewers on the side panel (a sort of 150 year anniversary book) that I liked better.

The second was a character biography though not of one of the plays that I have read yet (ordered the DVD of one of the films): Rosalind: A Biography of Shakespeare's Immortal Heroine. I liked the concept and some of the poetry but the author kept on repeating herself. The book was not that long (low 200s) as is, so it seemed like padding. Needed a better editor.  One thing that came to mind with Shakespeare is that it is a trudge to read since the language is antiquated.  But, though it was still poetic, not simple colloquial English, the language (if not all of the allusions) was not so at the time.  It was how they spoke, so more approachable.

Finally, Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes was in effect a dual autobiography of a friendship (teenage years to their 30s).  I liked this the best, but it was somewhat too flippant in certain ways. Still, it was a good quick read, with some life lessons by both women that kept us interested.  One is a political journalist (online, one finds she was pregnant when the book came out), the other an illustrator/costume designer. As to recipes, put aside with a vegetarian boyfriend they were rather meat focused, that stuff is always like food porn. Who has all those ingredients?

I have started Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee, largely consisting of a series of letters between an historian of Alabama subjects with the author, mainly in the last fifteen or so years of her life. It's an attractive hardcover, another quick reading affair (little over 200 pages, but not really that much material) that wold make a good Mother's Day gift for someone interested in that sort of thing. I liked the Charles Shields biography as a whole, but it was slim regarding the second part of her life.* Part of the problem there was probably non-involvement with the subject, who was upset with the final product, especially material involving her mother.  There is a lot of material available to flesh things out and this helps with her final years, including with a suggestion that she very well might have wanted that "sequel" to her novel to be released. Maybe a release of a collection of her other writings? 

Happy Reading!


* Reading further in the book, the author noted to Lee that he thought the biography had no poetry. The beginning of the book in particular did seem rather dry, as I recall, so can see that criticism. As to inaccuracies, don't know enough about Alabama history or her life to say. But, did find the middle portion, especially regarding her helping Truman Capote with his non-fiction book particularly informative. And, the inaccuracies as the author here honestly says is in part a result of Lee and others close to her not helping, even to correct such things. Finally, especially regarding personal things that happened long ago, she was not totally objective or perhaps even fully knowledgeable (such as the full story about her mother).

Thursday, May 04, 2017

"The further decay of our constitutional order: Reflections on the passage of Trumpcare" [in House]

Good analysis of a "process fail" argument versus a bill especially bad for NY. [Mark Field has a good discussion of "precedent" and I investigated the Origination Clause in respect to ACA/in general. More on the repeal attempt here, hopefully strengthening the resistance.]