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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rays Have A Tougher Opponent

The Twins lost a one game play-off (after not beating KC enough over the weekend) 1-0, coming much closer than many thought. My question really is why its season series win (10-8, nearly all at home) vs. the Sox was basically meaningless -- it wasn't (as I think it should be) the real tie breaker; it didn't even given them home field advantage. The only time it counts is if the WC and division leader is tied. Football has a better idea about such things.

Failure Pays ... For Mets GM

As the Mets were almost done with their latest collapse, it was leaked that the GM was going to get a four year extension. First, the post-season, aka now, not his future, should have been the focus. Second, the GM was part of the problem, in effect doing one good thing last post-season ... even there, JS was largely just a matter of waiting out the competition. The GM clearly was partially to blame for the overreliance on older players etc. For this, he does not just get re-upped, but re-upped for FOUR years? The more I think about it, the more disgusting it seems.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Right To Privacy: The Law Review Article

And Also: The NY Daily News had a cover shot of some girl crying because the Mets lost. Yes, now they are making little girls cry too. And, big boys, surely. Some good quotes in honor Newman; Redford used a form of my sentiment. Ditto Letterman: "Paul was a very fine actor and a really good race driver. But mostly, he personified humanity - always taking care of those who were less fortunate. For me, this will be his legacy."

Privacy is a repeated theme on this blog, particularly since my interest in the area has been long lasting. The reason is probably two-fold: privacy has so many angles to it, touching so many subjects that it is just a fascinating subject. Second, I myself am a pretty private sort of person, so I have some personal stake in the whole thing. Anyway, a 1890 Harvard law article (yeah, they wrote them back then) by Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis (around twenty five years before he got to the Court) with the straightforward title "The Right to Privacy" is a seminal milestone in the area. A timely one, particularly with Boyd v. U.S. being decided a few years earlier.

It is an interesting read in various respects, particularly given it has certain limitations for various supporters of its general sentiments. Let me quote the first paragraph in total, since it is touches various relevant bases:
That the individual shall have full protection in person and in property is a principle as old as the common law; but it has been found necessary from time to time to define anew the exact nature and extent of such protection. Political, social, and economic changes entail the recognition of new rights, and the common law, in its eternal youth, grows to meet the new demands of society. Thus, in very early times, the law gave a remedy only for physical interference with life and property, for trespasses vi et armis. Then the "right to life" served only to protect the subject from battery in its various forms; liberty meant freedom from actual restraint; and the right to property secured to the individual his lands and his cattle. Later, there came a recognition of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and his intellect. Gradually the scope of these legal rights broadened; and now the right to life has come to mean the right to enjoy life, -- the right to be let alone; the right to liberty secures the exercise of extensive civil privileges; and the term "property" has grown to comprise every form of possession -- intangible, as well as tangible.

The article begins with a sentiment well accepted by the "living Constitution" school though here it is used in the area of common law. But, there is a "federal common law" that includes constitutional principles, particularly involving due process of law. Likewise, the LC school can be seen to support a sort of "common law" view of the Constitution, so the article's discussion of the development of "new rights" which are in fact but the branches of the original tree. This is seen in the area of school segregation. This is no longer deemed "equal protection," and integration is clearly in some ways a "new right," but also a new view -- as society changed -- of old standbys. Finally, common law rights are one way to flesh out unenumerated rights, and clearly was in the late nineteenth century, such as right to choose a lawful profession, travel etc.

The article then flows into an example of such development, which also applies to constitutional rights as well. The fact that the Due Process Clause in particular reference rights to life, liberty and property is perhaps the clearest example. But, we can also see it in the understanding of what exactly was covered by the freedom of speech. Was it solely prior restraints, political speech, matters of "public concern," or what? Over time, the understanding expanded far beyond its original moorings, each step seen as logical and almost inevitable, but no less evolutionary. And, references to the man's spiritual nature will be noted by careful readers as the germ of Brandeis' Olmstead dissent written nearly forty years later. A dissent that translated common law matters involving an argument for a tort of invasion of privacy into constitutional law.

What compelled them to write this law review article? One story is that Warren was upset at news coverage of his daughter's wedding, but research has shown this to untrue. As a member of high society, putting aside the growing influence of tabloid journalism, he might still have had some related concerns. No matter, one immediate concern is suggested here:
Recent inventions and business methods call attention to the next step which must be taken for the protection of the person, and for securing to the individual what Judge Cooley calls the right "to be let alone."

The article was particularly concerned with new developments in instantaneous photography and recording devices, the ability to put its fruits to various nefarious uses, including the tabloid press, advertising and general exposure of what should be deemed private. Thus, what is brought out in legislative assemblies or courts of law was not at issue here. OTOH, though some harm had to be shown, there need not be "actual malice" (a term that pops up in libel law; see, NYT v. Sullivan), since the invasion of privacy, not malice alone is the harm. Nor is truth an excuse, for similar reasons. You can see problems here for freedom of the press, especially if matter of "public concern" are defined narrowly. But, changing times apply there as well. You could see how Griswold author and First Amendment absolutist Justice Douglas might not like the article all the same.

The article, as noted above, was partially concerned with emotion distress ... rights to life, liberty and property expanding to cover that as well in various respects. "Triviality destroys at once robustness of thought and delicacy of feeling. No enthusiasm can flourish, no generous impulse can survive under its blighting influence." This suggests that the duo expanded Judge Cooley's "right to be left alone" principle, Cooley more immediately concerned with freedom of physical assault. This, at least, seemed to be the point of Union Pacific Railway Company v. Botsford, cited by Roe v. Wade, and decided at about the same time as the article was released:
No right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded by the common law, than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of others, unless by clear and unquestionable authority of law. As well said by Judge Cooley, "The right to one's person may be said to be a right of complete immunity: to be let alone." Cooley on Torts, 29."

All the same, the ultimate principles involved here, a freedom and property interest over one's private life clearly has broad contours. This article is largely concerned with establishing a tort, one that did develop over the subsequent decades (and was in some ways already in place), that was concerned with a right to seclusion and guard against unconsensual use of private materials for profit or some other purpose. But, the underlining "right to be left alone" goes beyond that. This was clearly seen in Brandeis' Olmstead dissent that translated the Fourth Amendment into a broad security of individual privacy. A privacy that warranted leaving private matters and decisions to the individuals involved. This is a logical conclusion from the themes of the launching pad of this famous law review article.

For if one does not have private choice, what value is there to have a right to seclusion in the first place? If your private acts are basically matters of public concern, so much that they can be directly interfered with or even banned, you have a clear exception set forth in the article: matters of legitimate public concern were by definition not private. A candidate for office could not cry that a bribe or illegal (rightly defined) action done in private was not to be exposed. On the other hand, even they can cry that what is done in the privacy of the home is generally off limits. Freedom of the press might now suggest leaked information of this sort is "fair" game, legally speaking, but even so, placing a hidden microphone to obtain it, not so much.

Common law courts often must look at the core principles behind the law and this too shines through when properly honoring a "right to privacy." There is still some relevance to that hundred and twenty year old law article.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mets End In Pathetic Fashion ... Again

The pitching was good enough to win two; the hitters again failed the Mets. Nice way to close Shea Stadium guys. Meanwhile, the Jets went up 34-0, but looked to be on the way to blowing it, but ultimately won 56-35 (actually going for two after the last score with under two minutes to play; a Cards player perhaps seriously hurt for nothing much with under thirty seconds left).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mets Survive One More Day

And Also: TPM has good debate analysis and/or (see today) one that I support. Obama is definitely playing it safe, which helps when you are in the lead, though at times (sometimes, on some issues, justly) it drives some crazy.

Any chance Johan Santana can pitch on no days' rest?

Desperate to stay in the playoff race, the New York Mets brought back their ace early and he delivered, pitching a three-hitter that led them over the Florida Marlins 2-0 on a rainy Saturday.

I'm not a true fan -- I can't bear to watch games like today, where one mistake will cost you. Or, another inning from that bullpen. The Mets had so many of them, including in playoff sort of games, in the last decade. Too many. But, Santana has -- to be fair, maybe those early Willy Randolph moves to take him out early helped and/or his usual second half strengths -- did it today. With an assist of a couple leaders and the no name of the moment. Just as they didn't in too many games.

The Mets live for another day, fans having Perez's Game Seven effort against the Cards in '06 (and cruelly, after a fantastic catch, not scoring) in mind when he goes on three days rest tomorrow. I did see a few key moments. JS getting out of a bases loaded situation, even the announcers [who sometimes are a bit too neutral, too concerned with passionately calling things that go against the Mets ... not just of the "great play" variety, which honestly I can't be too passionate about at the moment] struggling pitch by pitch. And, him kissing and then tossing the game ball into the stands. This is why, though they drive me nuts and disappoint, I still watch.

That and not getting YES, the Yankee station, and finding their key announcers a bit annoying. A word about them. A lot has been said about how poorly they played this season, lots deserved. But, let's be fair. They say you can't use injuries to defend you, since they are natural to the game. Come on -- your ace and new budding ace are knocked out (the former in May), your promising prospect is hurt, your catcher and team leader is hurt, your other team leader and team a-hole (third base) are hurt for some weeks, and so on. And, they still -- without the miraculous Rays -- would have been in the thick of the Wild Card race today.

Not bad, even without all the drama with a new manager (Joe Torre has returned to the post-season with the Dodgers -- that's just too rich) and so forth. Anyway, predictions. I think the Rays have a real shot to get to the second round, though Kazmir is slipping of late. A Cubs/Dodgers second round seems quite possible, though the latter has enough imperfections to not make that a gimmee. The Angels are a safe bet, the Red Sox having some holes. An Cubs or Dodgers / Angels World Series seems to me a good bet as well.

As for the Mets, let's hope they have some '99 magic (and luck vis-a-vis their competition). I also find it unfair that if there is a three way tie (not that I think there will be), the division doesn't go to the one with a best record. This helps the Mets here, but in general, seems to be a fair move -- if you play a team around eighteen games and win the season series, why should it only matter if there are just two teams tied (aka the loser gets to be the WC)? In fact, with each team playing outside division teams on average six times, that too should decide tie breakers, if possible. Shouldn't winning the series mean something?

Anyway, the NL East (for the moment) and Wild Card as well as the AL Central (which might be decided Monday because of a make-up game played by the Sox) are still up in the air, which makes for good baseball. In particular, in the final days of Shea. Oh, the Rays manager might be a favorite for manager of the year, but Jerry Manuel deserves a serious look for NL. The guy's the new Torre of NY, surely when facing the media. And, let's see Joe deal with the Yanks without Mariano!

And, get that man a contract extension! What's with the four (four!) years for the GM? He deserves some blame for their struggles. The four years for that singles hitting ailing second baseman alone should knock a year off that reported contract extension! One (or two) more games ...

Another AA Baby?

And Also: Paul Newman has died -- he was a star on and off the screen, and did what we should all seek to do -- make the world a better place with his presence. Thank you, Paul.

[feedback discussion added at end; I'd add that Palin and the late nineteenth century matters are more diversity picks, especially the latter; Palin, however, probably has some affirmative action flavor. The two categories overlap, as does the criticisms of them, but I probably should have took more care to separate the two a bit more.]

One typically conservative frayster over at Slate [this entry was originally is a response to an article by Dahlia Lithwick] a few years back came on the side of affirmative action basically because the alternative simply was unconscionable. IOW, as compared to what, not just in theory, but in practice.

Boo hoo Justice Thomas. Both the rich and poor are arrested for sleeping under bridges is the usual line given to suggest the true inequality of law. But, hey, the rich feel guilty and dishonored for their injustice. So, it really isn't that inequitable, right?

The practice is problematic, but when dealing with cancer, including the cancer of racism, the solution is liable to be painful. I'm open to all the criticisms, but when Thomas lays it on so thick, count me out. As one person noted:
I GOT into college because I'm African American. There. I said it. I do so with company from Yale University legal scholar Stephen Carter. In the first line of his book, "Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby," [read this book myself some time back; recall it was a good read] Carter notes that he was admitted to Yale's law school because he was black. And like Carter, I'll add this rejoinder: So what?

It was better than being rejected from my college choice because I was black. As we all know, America's history is rife with the rejections of people because they were black. But nothing is as clear-cut as it reads. Carter went to Yale after fine work at Stanford. I had good grades and an even better SAT score. Most important, affirmative action got me in the door but it didn't help me excel and graduate. It didn't help me gain the skills to become the journalist I am now.

As to Palin. First, vice presidents traditionally have been "affirmative action" picks in the sense that diversity of the ticket was deemed more important than their overall qualifications in general. In fact, this suggests the open definition of "qualified" in various cases. In the late 19th Century, elections for President often was determined by a couple states (including Ohio), so one practice was to pick a candidates from that state.

Regional balance is but one way to balance a ticket. McCain did not just balance his ticket with a woman, but a particular type -- one with certain reformist credentials (true or feigned), energy and social conservative bona fides. IOW, in no way is this just a gender pick, and to say as much feeds into certain talking points and promotes ignorance. "Affirmative action" and diversity comes in all shapes and sizes.

As to her qualifications, any choice can be wrong in that department. In the real world, affirmative action* (especially when broadly defined) and diversity will always be practiced in some form. When done properly, as with all things, you can't be one note about it. It's not 'any woman,' it's a qualified woman. This is not much of a lesson really, except for those (admittedly too many) who look at this subject simplistically.

Including those with key roles in national policy making.


* This page notes: " 'Affirmative action' means positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and business from which they have been historically excluded."

The term, like Justice Douglas' infamous astrological metaphor to describe "penumbral" constitutional rights, is open to ridicule when in fact it describes a relatively uncontroversial enterprise. "Affirmative action" here means "proactive" measures, many which are far from controversial.

For instance, if the military needs certain skills, they might seek out certain groups that traditionally were seen not as military types (including women) who might have them. Conservatives sometimes note the problems of the black underclass. Institutions, including churches, which many of them favor, might 'affirmatively" target certain groups.

Again, they don't just target everyone as individuals. Reality dictates otherwise.

[Feedback: Over in the Slate fray (my handle there is "Joe_JP"), where this originally was posted, I received a few negative (in more ways than one) replies. One misguided thread of criticism was a narrow understanding of a term that involves a myriad of efforts to deal with various groups (not just race and sex) that traditionally discriminated against and/or underrepresented. We are not just talking racial preference programs involving points or whatnot. Efforts to expand women in the military, e.g., are examples of positive action that in part take into consideration certain groups as such. Efforts to underline such breadth was deemed playing with words.

Another trite issue was "qualified," including the assumption those who benefit are unqualified and that somehow the net result does not also help society as a whole. Likewise, the term has many meanings; in a college, diversity is a qualification. Next, ignoring that other solutions -- even if ideal -- take resources society does not supply. This is what I meant by "the alternative" -- not some ideal, but reality.

Finally, that we should just treat people as individuals. Am I supposed to treat a nun or member of the KKK solely as individuals, not infer something of their character from the institutions? Are men and women just individuals, their sex/gender not relevant?]

Tampa Set, Mets Not Quite Done Yet

Rain helped Tampa Bay by eliminating the Red Sox from First Place contention via a glorified Spring Training game. The AL slots are set except for Central. The optimist says the NL slots are not set, even though deja vu is starting again as the Marlins beat the Mets, putting them a game behind in the WC. Fans are left to relying on the Cubs, who are playing to keep loose and nothing much more. BTW, the new t.v. season doesn't excite me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Lucky Ones

The Lucky Ones is good film with three very good performances (including favs of mine, Rachel McAdams and Tim Robbins) about three Iraq War vets (two on leave, one older guard officer whose term is up) taking a road trip. The story is a mixed bag but the three leads make this movie, including McAdams (great in The Notebook) as one review noted doing an Amy Adams ala Junebug (a very good movie). This is a reason you go to the movies. BTW, McCain is coming off as a bit of an asshole in the debate.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Letterman v. McCain

Add David Letterman to the disgruntled with McCain brigade after he canceled, especially when Dave saw he didn't rush back to D.C., but stopped to talk to Katie. He didn't let up and you get the idea he wasn't just kidding around. And, why not toss in Palin? She is his back-up, right? It's not exactly a tough substantive forum. Meanwhile, the Mets this time did win in the bottom of the ninth in a 6-6 game. TB not in yet and the Twins are playing the White Sox tough.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Death Penalty News

And Also: Autumn started mid-morning EST on Monday. A few slots still to be determined for the Fall Classic (baseball). And, Mets blow it again, in special fashion, get off the ground, and play again tomorrow. A few more games until "didn't we watch this before?" Rays one game away from controlling the East. Must be that killer payroll.

Troy Anthony Davis was scheduled to die yesterday for the murder of a Savannah police officer. However, Bob Barr (conservative running on the libertarian ticket for President this year, most famous as a gung ho supporter of Clinton's impeachment) joined Jimmy Carter and other more usual suspects in opposition:
Barr wrote the board Wednesday saying he is "a strong believer in the death penalty as an appropriate and just punishment" but said the proper level of fairness and accuracy required for the ultimate punishment has not been met in Davis' case.

Democracy Now! (see website) also had his sister on a few times recently. One concern of Barr might be that most of the witnesses that testified against Davis later changed their story. This led to a credible shot at making an actual innocence claim, which is very hard to make once you are convicted.

The deadline (rather literal here) for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide just past and they granted a stay to examine the issue. Five of nine votes are required to stop the execution pending appeal, agreeing to decide the question taking only four. But, the matter can be moot -- the person can be executed before the SC decides, if five doesn't agree.

The order:
The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is granted pending the disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari. Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate upon the issuance of the mandate of this Court.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court in its recent ruling striking down execution for rape of children said this:
By contrast, 44 States have not made child rape a capital offense. As for federal law, Congress in the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994 expanded the number of federal crimes for which the death penalty is a permissible sentence, including certain nonhomicide offenses; but it did not do the same for child rape or abuse. See 108 Stat. 1972 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 18 U. S. C.). Under 18 U. S. C. §2245, an offender is death eligible only when the sexual abuse or exploitation results in the victim’s death.

A rather obscure -- not raised by either side, including the dissent -- a recent military law provision DOES allow it. The SC -- in a fairly rare post-decision move -- asked for briefs to determine if further action is justified. Action on both might occur in the next few weeks.

[It should be noted that not applying the death penalty does not necessarily mean sympathy for the convicted, though here actual innocence might warrant it. The fact the family of the person Davis was found guilty of murdering are not surprisingly appalled at the delay. This does not justify the death penalty if there is some real (maybe even not enough to keep him out of prison) chance of innocence. As well as other reasons.]

Meanwhile, we have an update on a case involving one of those fired Bush attorneys:
A federal judge on Tuesday effectively closed a murder case that may have played a role in the 2006 ouster of the U.S. attorney in Arizona.

U.S. District Court Judge James A. Teilborg sentenced Jose Rios Rico to life, plus 55 years in prison. Rios Rico, 31, pleaded guilty earlier this month to a host of murder, drug and weapons charges in the slaying of Angela Pinkerton in February 2003.

The case was a sparring point between former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton and Department of Justice officials who wanted to seek the death penalty against Rios Rico. Charlton believed Rios Rico "may not have been an appropriate candidate." Charlton said the case lacked the forensic evidence for "the ultimate penalty."

The Justice Department refused to pay for a search of a landfill west of Phoenix believed to contain Pinkerton's remains. Then-U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Charlton exhibited poor judgment in his hesitation to support the administration's position on capital punishment in the Rios Rico case. Gonzales resigned last year.

It is not surprising or problematic (on legitimacy grounds at least) that the Bush Administration pushed for more application of the death penalty, given we got fair warning of his policy inclinations in that department (as compared to say nation building) before Election Day. OTOH, how Alberto Gonzales handled things, not so much. We did get fair warning of his "appallingly unprofessional work on death penalty cases when he was counsel for Gov. Bush" ... well, people who did the research did. As with Barr, the people in control of the Justice Department support the death penalty.

Still matters how you carry it out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Baseball, Death Penalty and Book

The soon to be AL Cy Young winner is now 22-3, leading to the Yanks being eliminated, but the Rays got at least a split, so has a magic number of 3 to win the East. I discuss some Supremes death penalty news here. As to the book just referenced, as to the "law," e.g., Kennedy's concurrence was ignored and as to the MCA, sorry, it did effect the Geneva Convention.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight over Presidential Power

The author of the source book for the ESPN mini-series The Bronx Is Burning is not exactly the first person I'd have in mind to write a book on the Hamdan case. It was pretty good, focused (maybe too much) on the two lead lawyers for Hamdan, Katyal (immigrant success story) and Swift (navy brat). Not enough law. And, with Hamdan's actual trial in the future, a flawed Military Commission Act, and "to be continued" unclear future for Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, the ending leaves one hanging. Mixed bag, but worth a look.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sports Weekend

The Rays are guaranteed a playoff berth for the first time in their existence. Cubs, first place. The Mets (via hitting and bullpen) blew vs. the Braves again, even though the Braves overall stink. The Mets still are hanging on to the WC. The Yanks are eliminated from the division, and have a 'tragic number' of one at this moment to be totally eliminated for the first time since 1993 (off in 1994). I missed an OT win by the Giants; unlike the Jets, the Miami (big) beat NE. Golf is not my thing.

Ted Olson Makes Things Up

And Also: TPM, Glenn Greenwald et. al. have it right -- even those who do not fully (or largely) understand the nuances of the Bush Administration's plan to save their pals from themselves (via a 700 Billion or whatever bill to the taxpayers) have reason to be concerned, especially the "just trust us" aspects of the whole thing. This selective big government approach is very neoconservative, but that doesn't make it that ideal.

Theodore Olson, former solicitor general of the U.S., was shown on American and the Courts last night to help clarify John McCain's stance on judicial nominations. He is their point man on such things. I note his position in part to suggest that Olson should be someone we might disagree with, but still be able to respect. His past, the tragedy aspect notwithstanding, and current actions underlines this is a false path to take.

TO noted McCain will not appoint those who would make up (his words) the law (e.g., Bush v. Gore, in which he played a large part) as they went alone. Am I supposed to respect anyone who takes this tack? Disagree with the judicial philosophy, fine. Imply the other side just makes things up, you just crossed the line to "b.s." It made me just plain angry. BTW, when asked about McCain's constitutional philosophy, he jumped to appointments. Not the only, and often the most important, issue in that respect, Ted. This is true even if it is something many focus upon -- though the question was more open-ended.

Someone we would respect, someone with a job on his resume that supposedly was not just there to blindly protect the executive but the law and Constitution overall, would surely use the question to intelligently inform the public. McCain's people on the other hand repeatedly use vitriol and cheap talking points. How can anyone, perhaps other than their loyal base or those who just cannot stand Obama (and honestly, even some of them), really pick this guy for President?

There is an answer, it just isn't that pleasant.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Obama Book and Ghost Film

Judge Posner Quote: "[T]he simple old rules can be glimpsed through modernity's fog, though spectrally thinned to presumptions--in the latest lingo, 'default rules.' " The case in question also cites another entitled In re Air Crash Disaster Near Chicago; why not just In re Accident or In re RE? Anyway, passed the former case by chance, and it's an interesting one on diversity issues etc.

I was going to provide extended remarks on The Audacity of Hope, but overall, my basic concern was that Obama truthfully at times doesn't seem audacious enough. This was shown by his vote on the civil immunity for telecoms bill, upsetting on multiple levels (he broke a promise, it was a really bad move, he defended using false right wing talking points like "it was necessary to defend America" etc.) as well as how much his convention speech (which some mysteriously thought was so great) that focused so much on the economy.

This is not why so many people want change! A better country overall is of course important, and a good candidate for the Democrats will be one that suggests how the government can help to bring one about. But, part of the problem is George Bush and his style of governance, which (Obama's assurance that most members of Congress really are such nice people) taints the Republican party in particular. And, people are upset about it. Not just about "the system," but in particular, a certain representation. His book simply doesn't deal with that. It has to be part of the attack, including small but telling examples like that damn telecom bill.

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie Ghost Town. At first, it looked a bit stupid, but decided to give it a chance ... the lack of great alternatives (some might disagree, but this is a traditional lull time movie-wise) helping. The reviews are right to suggest that the key here is not the material as such but the follow thru. Not a fan of either versions of The Office, the lead (who dies for a short period of time and now can see dead people still tied to the earth for some reason) was not known to me. But, I see his appeal -- witty with the ability to show that underneath his misanthropic veneer, he actually has a sensitive side.

I have been impressed with the work of Téa Leoni (most recently in You Kill Me) and Greg Kinnear and supporting players like Aasif Mandvi (who deserves a more significant supporting role one of these days) also add to the proceedings. Overall, what impressed was that you truly cared about these people, which helped me get pass a few lulls and predictable moments (Leoni has a big dog, how cute ... but the scene of her giving it a bath was a gem). The movie has a good flow for most of the film and technically was good.

[BTW, the preview -- as noted by an article I read that ranked various previews that liked the tidbit in question -- had a bit when Greg's ghost is called a "zombie" and he is insulted. I don't recall that bit being in the final film, one of various examples of a still or preview bit being cut or (as in certain ad photos) perhaps not ever truly there in the first place.) Yes, some people care about such things! The particularly good sort, unless they truly bore you.]

And, the whole issue of tying up loose ends, respecting each person's life story and (lol) not being a total prick gives the movie some real weight. In a good way. The key here were the stars. Ricky Gervais in particular did a great job, a great match with both of his co-stars (Kinnear is Leoni's dead hubby), who both (Leoni less often) show themselves to be top talent.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Quickie Obama Book Review

The Audacity of Hope is fairly predictable -- Obama comes off as reasonable, liberal but willing to go a bipartisan route, not totally knee-jerk, intelligent, a bit preachy (the book easily could have been shorter) etc. It honors his mom various places, in answer to a certain critic I know, while (not totally ideally) isn't very negative to the other side, Bushies in particular. And, he comes off as too safe (and wrong sometimes) on issues like the death penalty, same sex marriage (how exactly does your religion factor in to it? why should it matter as a policy issue?), and being a world policeman. Overall, he comes off as a safe choice for '08. A good election season read.

Tidbits: Baseball and US Too Special?

The Mets dropped out of first (.5 ahead in Wild Card Race) via a run scored by a pitcher, whose hit also knocked Tatis out for the season. Rays continue to hold on to sole possession of First Place. And, interesting article on the Supremes' diminishing prestige on the world stage, including answering myths like "there is something new or unusual about citing foreign courts" or "to cite such a decision is to be bound by it." Then again, a conservative sort said the problem is that we are so damn special. Really, we influenced others to have bills of rights and judicial review, and now we seem a bit too conservative. Special indeed. [Part of an interesting NYT series.]

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I passed by the media circus that is Lehman Brothers. Did they expect people jumping out of windows, or something? Did any go see Mamma Mia! or the Olive Garden, both nearby? Yeah, business is not my thing. But, what I do know suggests the choice in November is fairly easy on this subject too. Gym Teacher: The Movie was cute. Fey/Poehler were too funny (and a bit too uncomfortably accurate) on SNL. Does Tina Fey have executive experience?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday is My Stress Day

The Mets blew two versus the sad but still Mets killing Braves, the bright spot a gem by a rookie. The Yanks beat the Rays (my AL East team) twice and did so by still not helping Mussina get to twenty wins. The Phillies swept the Brewers, helping to cost Yost's job. And, the Red Sox split the Blue Jays, even though the latter team was on great run and had their ace on the mound Sunday. Oh, and the Jets' offense lost them a game. Only bright spots: the Giants won a game against a loser team (even then, the first half was close) and the Rays' back-up plan (WC), the Twins, lost yesterday. Today is mostly the same.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Pollak Case and Privacy

And Also: Along with the hurricane related postponements in Houston, which might affect their longshot hopes for the playoffs, yesterday was a multi-rain out day in MLB, including a double one in NYC. The Mets have to rely on some rookie pitchers in the final stretch. Nail biting time! Meanwhile, Doug Glanville provides a guest column on late season call-ups in the NYT.

Griswold v. Connecticut notes:
We have had many controversies over these penumbral rights of "privacy and repose." See, e.g., Breard v. Alexandria, 341 U.S. 622, 626, 644; Public Utilities Comm'n v. Pollak, 343 U.S. 451; Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167; Lanza v. New York, 370 U.S. 139; Frank v. Maryland, 359 U.S. 360; Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541. These cases bear witness that the right of privacy which presses for recognition here is a legitimate one.

Breard, concerning a local ordinance against uninvited door-to-door solitications (see also, do not call registries), directly spoke of "living rights of others to privacy and repose" that helped to justify such laws. Other cases involved eavesdropping, warrantless administrative searches and sterilization ("procreation" inherently a "private" matter). The ruling also cited Boyd v. U.S., the seminal search ruling from back in 1886:
It is not the breaking of his doors, and the rummaging of his drawers, that constitutes the essence of the offence; but it is the invasion of his indefeasible right of personal security, personal liberty and private property, where that right has never been forfeited by his conviction of some public offence

So, Griswold had something with which to work. The Pollak (1951) case, especially in respect to Douglas' dissent, is particularly interesting. It involved radio programs ("90% music, 5% announcements, and 5% commercial advertising") on a privately owned public utility in D.C. [The locale was notable in that Frankfurter recused himself because he found them so objectable as to not be able to neutrally decide the question!] The court below struck down the measure in effect as a form of forced speech inflicted against a captive audience*:
The passengers are known in the industry as a 'captive audience'. Formerly they were free to read, talk, meditate, or relax. The broadcasts have replaced freedom of attention with forced listening.

The Supreme Court (7-1) disagreed. The commission in question determined that such programming was beneficial. It did not involve "objectionable propaganda" [Black would oppose such use of "news, public speeches, views, or propaganda of any kind"] and was not shown to interfere "substantially with the conversation of passengers." The majority also rejected a right to privacy claim, but in telling fashion:
This position wrongly assumes that the Fifth Amendment secures to each passenger on a public vehicle regulated by the Federal Government a right of privacy substantially equal to the privacy to which he is entitled in his own home. However complete his right of privacy may be at home, it is substantially limited by the rights of others when its possessor travels on a public thoroughfare or rides in a public conveyance.

One reply could be that people are forced to take public transportation, by any sensible definition of the term given the reality of the situation, so rights still are illegitimately being violated here. As the lower court noted, just because an activity might be pleasing to the majority, the rights of the minority -- even in public -- are protected in various respects. But, it should also be noted that the "right to privacy" was not just laughed out of court. It implicitly was seen as a very credible argument. In fact, "at home" it very well might be "complete."

[Consider Brandeis' famous Olmstead dissent, 1928, which was deemed correct by many legal minds of the era: "They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone -- the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the Government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment." Note as well Justice Holmes' use of "penumbra" there.]

Sure enough this could be seen as just a matter of "accepting the argument is true but," which is fairly common. Still, the Breard case -- the volume numbers alone suggest they were decided close together -- directly spoke of rights to privacy and repose, so much that a city could limit even booksellers and campaigns of various sorts from knocking on the doors of private residences without permission. All the same, we hear claims (sometimes in harsh and/or mocking tones) that there is obviously no "right to privacy" secured by the Constitution. That it was suddenly "invented" in the 1960s on some sort of fictional ad hoc basis.

Anyways, Justice Douglas' dissent also underlines his concerns were not new when he wrote Griswold; it also underlines that "privacy" is not just about seclusion as such, but autonomy as a whole (Justice Ginsburg noted the point recently, also tying it to the 13th Amendment -- the link is not supportive, but helpfully quotes her):
If liberty is to flourish, government should never be allowed to force people to listen to any radio program. The right of privacy should include the right to pick and choose from competing entertainments, competing propaganda, competing political philosophies. If people are let alone in those choices, the right of privacy will pay dividends in character and integrity. The strength of our system is in the dignity, the resourcefulness, and the independence of our people. Our confidence is in their ability as individuals to make the wisest choice. That system cannot flourish if regimentation takes hold. The right of privacy, today violated, is a powerful deterrent to any one who would control men's minds.

Griswold was specifically about seclusion (use of contraceptives in the home was the core issue) but its recognition of a "right to privacy," one cited in earlier cases (in particular, Mapp v. Ohio, the exclusionary rule case) went much further. As Justice Harlan noted in Poe v. Ullman, such privacy was not just about place, but about all that went on there. The "home" not just property but a place where one (privately) carried out family life. The privacy was protected for a reason.

And, both the privacy and the reasons were voiced for a long time. I find it useful to remind myself (and others here etc.) of such things.


* Justice Douglas agreed and over twenty years later was the deciding vote in upholding a law banning certain types of advertising on public transportation. [Here's another case where he support regulations that clashed with his usual concerns; cf. Justice Marshall's dissent.] His concurrence rejects the dissent's attempt to argue that visual ads are different from audio ones, which is valid up to a point, as is his forum analysis.

But, to the degree he argues privacy of the passengers is at issue, it is much weaker, especially given passengers also have to view various speech related things other passengers bring on board. The content regulation nature of the ban also is problematic if privacy is really the concern. Brennan comes off better here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Am a Constitution Voter

And Also: The fact that a military law that allowed the death penalty for rape of children was so obscure that neither side (including the majority/dissent in Kennedy v. Louisiana) brought it up is telling as to "national consensus," but the majority looks bad for not knowing about it. For whatever reason, the Court put forth a rare call for briefs on a possible re-hearing. Some sort of positive action is quite possible, though at worst it probably will say the military crime issue is still open. A reversal is really doubtful (and simply wrong).

The ACLU informed me of a new campaign that can get you a free bumper stick too, one in which "the Constitution will be the first thing on our minds." When I first saw a message about a "Constitution Voter," I thought of the Constitution Party*. You know like "family values" equal Sarah Palin's crowd. But, the ACLU goes a different way here:
I Am a Constitution Voter

I believe that no one -- including the President -- is above the law.
I oppose all forms of torture, and I support both closing the Guantánamo Bay prison and ending indefinite detention.
I oppose warrantless spying.
I believe that government officials, no matter how high-ranking, should be held accountable for breaking the law and violating the Constitution.
I believe that the Constitution protects every person's rights equally -- no matter what they believe, how they live, where or if they worship, and whom they love.
I reject the notion that we have to tolerate violations of our most fundamental rights in the name of fighting terrorism.
I am deeply committed to the Constitution and expect our country's leaders to share and act on that commitment -- every day, without fail.

That works. It sounds pretty safe, but darn if it seems downright radical these days.


* Ron Paul doesn't want to endores McCain because he is too close to Obama -- more Naderite rhetoric about the parties not being really different. He suggested people vote for the Greens, Naderites, Libertarians, or the Constitution Party folks.

Given some of these are quite supportive of federal policies he deems violative (if that is even a word) of state rights alone suggests this is lame, even if they signed on an agreement to clean up D.C. or whatever. Besides, suggesting Obama and McCain are basically two peas in a pod is B.S.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Letter to A New President

And Also: The wine (via Trader Joe's) might have not helped, but the fourteen inning win by the Devil Rays (up by 2.5 now) at Fenway was a tad too stressful, especially when the Red Sox loaded the bases against the closer with no one out after the Rays went up 4-1. The Rays won 4-2. After losing six of seven, the Rays won a vital two. Amazing. As clinched hours before.

Letter to a New President: Commonsense Lessons for Our Next Leader by Robert C. Byrd is one of many of the "letter" books (e.g., to a young lawyer, to my great-granddaughter, etc.) and it's a worthwhile little read. Faith and the Constitution (and his recently departed beloved wife) are his touchstones:
The Bible and the Constitution, which always played a central role in Byrd's own life, appear throughout his new book. A true faith in God, Byrd stresses, teaches humility, not arrogance and self-righteousness.

Faith is a core issue in his long introduction. Then, he provides ten steps to guide the next President:
1. Bring back the fireside chat.
2. Teach the people about the Constitution.
3. No life stands outside history.
4. A big lie is still a lie; tell the truth.
5. Build your presidency around accountability.
6. Let the press do its job, even when that might sting.
7. We can do better than photo-op diplomacy.
8. A new approach to the rest of the world: influence.
9. Less partisan warfare, more real debate.
10. Don't forget the basics: Have the patience to reflect.

The current President is repeatedly deemed as a sort of pure example of what not to do if one wants to be a good President:
The Bush administration, Byrd charges, "built much of its program around a basic commitment to lying." Yet lying has become so common, so culturally accepted, that no stigma is attached, according to Byrd.

"We cannot continue down this path, new president," Byrd writes. "We must rebuild a culture of intolerance to lying, and that must start close to home."

Overall, the book provides a good summary of what is wrong with the current guy and guidance on how to do it right next time. And, as his spokesman notes (the quotes in this entry can be found in the various links provided):
"Sen. Byrd doesn't believe Sen. McCain is going to be the next president," Jacobs adds. "But if Sen. McCain is interested in receiving a copy of the book, we'd be happy to get him a copy."

Given his campaign claims to think references to lipstick on a pig,* a common expression, is dis on Gov. Palin, McCain can do worse than to read this book that continues the Mr. Senate nature of Senator Byrd.

* Obama rightly ridiculed the idea on David Letterman. Glenn Greenwald, Talking Points Memo and Andrew Sullivan (h/t TPM) are a few examples that riduculed the concern on this issue, the latter scorning McCain for suggesting it was an issue. But, the polls suggest the race is so close. More evidence we as a nation simply are not mature or something.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Obscure Candidate Day

Tampa finally won one, Wagner (getting emotional) is out for the year (and maybe a year) and Houston is trying to make another late run. Meanwhile, today was primary day in NYC, and other than a disputed judicial election (where an upstart against the local power broker got some press), I had no real idea who to vote for. Delegate to judicial convention? Local party delegates? Well, she has my sis' name ...

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Candidates on A Few Religious Matters

And Also: Maybe, see Freddy Mac et. al., better regulation beforehand would be nice too? OTOH, maybe that would be deemed voluntary as compared to involuntary sinning or something. Of course, you "sin" either way, but apparently lying to yourself about it helps the soul or something.

I know there are some places where you can get a diverse set of links in one place (for instance, I have a liberal and conservative leaning blog on my roll for such a purpose), but admit my reading is somewhat limited. For instance, I don't go to feminist law blogs are any regular basis, which might be better than regularly going to Balkanization to watch Professor Levinson's latest anti-Constitution screed. It's getting mighty old. OTOH, I happened to pass a religion in public policy blog not too far back, and it's a helpful addition to my reading.

A comment on one of the entries led me to this quote by Sarah Palin that got some people upset:
Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan.

This from another comment that criticized the somewhat flip opposition to this statement, which is also cited at Huffington Post and other liberal leaning blogs, if you follow the links. This does sound like Palin is praying that we are right, not that God supports the war in Iraq. If one prays, one should pray that our leaders are guided toward the right path. The last sentence clarifies what might be unclear. Not that others cross the line to arrogance and thinks God directly on our side, akin to a baseball player not just honoring God but thinking God is a Mets fan.

The blog (on my blogroll) also cites a local story that discusses Gov. Palin's faith and its affects on her policy. Real life tends to be a bit less blatant. Take the same sex partnership benefits -- she opposes them, but did her job, and followed the command of the state supreme court. Her state also is libertarian, so besides having other policies to worry about, conservative social policy per se is not front and center for her administration. But, it is not like she doesn't support such things (she actually focused upon conservative talking points in her first local election) thus we avoid worrying about it. This is so even when she provides some wiggle (she is not "anti-contraception," but in practice wants limits on core choices in that area) as any good politician must do.

Finally, Obama and Biden addressed the contrast between their private and public views on abortion. Biden particularly hit the right note, not surprisingly given both Justices Brennan and Kennedy are/was Catholic, and supported abortion and homosexual rights:
MR. BROKAW: But if you, you believe that life begins at conception, and you've also voted for abortion rights...

SEN. BIDEN: No, what a voted against curtailing the right, criminalizing abortion. I voted against telling everyone else in the country that they have to accept my religiously based view that it's a moment of conception. There is a debate in our church, as Cardinal Egan would acknowledge, that's existed. Back in "Summa Theologia," when Thomas Aquinas wrote "Summa Theologia," he said there was no--it didn't occur until quickening, 40 days after conception. How am I going out and tell you, if you or anyone else that you must insist upon my view that is based on a matter of faith?


Sports Quickies

Giants won, but the offense died after early life. The Jets barely won, the winning Miami TD within sight at the end of the game. Tom Brady will have a lot more time with his latest cutie. The Mets won the one game they had to win to stay up two. Yanks lost two. Tampa is slipping, but the WC (ala Detroit in '06) still seems a safe fallback, especially since the Twins and Yanks also are playing badly. And, Joe Torre's Dodgers again are in first.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


First the DVDs ...

A few days back, I wrote about the Slow Food Movement, and one thing that came to mind was a supporter's book that in part focused on the production of corn in this country. Corn per se doesn't seem to be a gigantic part of our diet, though some might consider that it is a major part of the diet of the beef cattle we consume. There is also ethanol. But, a major end product of all that corn is corn syrup, a sweetener found in loads of processed foods.

Thus, besides being a window into modern farming, corn production can be a way to gain important insights on various matters. In this light, I thought King Corn would be a light-hearted investigation of such things, but interesting all the same. It concerns two college buddies who decide to go back to the land of their ancestors (Iowa) and grow an acre of corn. The documentary follows their journey and provides some of the insights suggested. It just does so in a rather boring and slow paced way. Disappointment, but some might like it.

Never Forever balanced things out, while also touching upon some things expressed of late.* The film, fictional, concerns a white woman (Vera Farmiga, who I'm not familiar with, but is quite good here) struggling to have a child with her successful Korean husband. But, he simply is not fertile, so out of desperation, she secretly starts an arrangement with an illegal Korean immigrant to conceive a baby. It is simply a business arrangement, but it eventually gets too personal.

A quiet, very restrained movie about characters hurting in various ways. Sophie's inability to pray is but one quietly powerful part of the movie, which is not for all tastes, but for mine. Bottle Shock is not really restrained, but overall is rather low key, and at the end of the day simply doesn't quite make that good of a movie. Some of the characters and scenes work (Alan Rickman as a British wine snob finding the wonders of 1970s California wines is surely the best thing in the movie by far), but this portrayal of the "Judgment of Paris" (not quite Nuremberg level, except for some French wine lovers) is lacking.

Someone once said to me that she thought any given movie probably had some good thing that provides the viewer with the knowledge that it wasn't a total waste of their time. Movies have so many components, that you can hang your hat on something. Bottle Shock is all the same one of those "whole not the sum of the parts" deals, and not TOO many of those parts are that good. I reserved the book discussing the actual event; meanwhile, I bought a California wine or two at Trader Joe's.


* In part, Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion, probably a book best cherry-picked for some good real life accounts (and its finale, that praises the wording of Roe ... now that is a new one).

In one, a single mother refuses to offer the birth father's (portrayed as a drunk loser) name for the birth certificate. I reckon forcing the issue would be hard, but that is a bit reprehensible. It is the FATHER and even if he is lacking at the time of the birth (at times open to debate, in part because the father never learns about the baby), this in no way suggests he always will be like that.

McCain and His Helpful Running Mate

And Also: To focus on the core of things, St. McCain (who should just speak in the third person like Bob Dole if he keep this up) and company truly pissed off hilzoy, who apparently is famous for her equanimity. The lying didn't help. The "I still respect the man but" thing is getting to be a hard sell.

"We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby."

Gov. Palin wants the decision to "have" the baby to be much easier -- that is, if her daughter or anyone else's daughter is not willing to break the law. The wording is important. It is not "keep" as in not give it up for adoption. It is "have."

It is unclear if Palin would be "proud" if her daughter did not break the law. This would tend to be a low barrier, though in various cases, somewhat sadly, it is a significant one. It is the very fact that abortion is legal, that it is truly a "decision" whether or not to abort (the issue in Roe, not being pro-abortion), that truly warrants her being proud.

For instance, one chooses to follow Jesus Christ. It is not compelled. In fact, most think one can not truly be compelled to follow Jesus Christ. Such an act of conscience is a matter of individual choice. Thus, a believer can be proud that their children truly honors it.

I guess Gov. Palin is pro-teen, since she wants it to be much easier for unwed pregnant girls to choose to give birth. In the process, their parents need not to be proud. Avoiding a prison term is not really a big reason to be so.

Some don't want all this focus on Palin's personal stuff, but misguided stances on social issues helps the Democrats as much as anything. Still, to take a small but telling point on something else, here's a bit of b.s. alert reporting. Just what applause line did she have that was not misleading, untrue, or just generally nasty?


* Jacob Weisberg wonders why the Republicans, the same crew who trumps passion and vitriol over reason, isn't more pragmatic about a core issue. You know, more like us reasonable sorts. How patronizingly naive sounding.

BTW, his bit on how Quayle was "entirely" right about Murphy Brown (damn her for not aborting her unplanned pregnancy and/or not marrying her casual absentee baby daddy!) is charmingly typical of Slate's misguided contrarism. Oh, heck. Idiot.

Friday, September 05, 2008

1000 Points of Light?

We need less government. We need to trust local communities to handle things. Those who work to make them better, aka community activists, are amusing losers. Uh. One person said that faith based ones are better. Obama found religion by recognizing the value of local community activist churches. Uh. These people are pathetic losers. Oh btw remember Dubya Senior's bit on public service?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

It's equal parts hypocrisy and pathetic

We should not "misunderestimate" or whatever Gov. Palin, who brings some real life to the McCain ticket in a nation who re-elected Bush twice. Likewise, as someone told me today, you can't focus too much on her. McCain is the head, and unlike Bush, is truly the decider. But, then why is the base soooo happy Palin was chosen? Like their nastiness (+ lying and hypocrisy, Palin showing both), it is largely about feelings. Always the victims. And, darn did they shove that baby in our face. Ditto the hero worship. But, it is "they" who get personal, "they" who have St. Obama. Oh vey.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More Reasons To Be Disgusted

We shouldn't make Palin's daughter an issue. The hypocrites are doing it instead. Makes lying assholes almost appealing. Favorite quote: "It is entirely fitting that the headliner for this masquerade is a feeble looking 72-year-old white guy who doesn't know how many homes he owns." The fact that this thing probably will be close enough to worry is the most disgusting, really.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

So Called Hypocrisy (Anti-Palin Edition)

And Also: Almost football season.

Some are trying to spin various things to make Obama supporters into hypocrites. This is, to be generous, ironic. For instance, we are not supposed to raise the experience card because of Obama's alleged limitations. McCain was the one who raised that issue (with an assist from HC), so had the burden of proof, not Obamites. But, if you want to compare Obama with Palin, fine:
Obama, by contrast, has had a much tougher time. He became a state legislator by navigating the local politics of a major urban center. He’s been a Senator. And most importantly, he’s been under unrelenting scrutiny for years — managing a presidential campaign masterfully and knocking off a Democratic President’s financial and political machine.

He’s also had to master the national spotlight, and respond to a million different type of questions. He’s also developed extensive policy positions and has defended them in debates and to the public for years. And he’s never lost his cool, showing calm judgment coupled with far-sighted strategic planning (e.g., early organizing, hesitancy to chase the news cycle).

In short, Palin’s “experience” trumps Obama’s only by elevating arbitrary categories over underlying factual realities.

Anyways, if you go to the previous link and others (see, e.g., TPM), what this all underlines is why I don't trust McCain's judgment. The choice of Palin overall was handled badly. Ultimately, judgment is an important aspect of "experience," and not just in the federal judiciary. How much executive experience did Lincoln have? Douglas had more in that department, surely, but he wouldn't have been my choice. OTOH, some think Palin has the right judgment (no pun intended), especially those who are anti-government (or anti-DC) overall. Ditto those who share her moral beliefs.

On that front, since her conservative/religious beliefs clearly factored in the choice (more so than McCain's own desires, perhaps), they cannot really have their cake and eat it too. IOW, yes, some of her private beliefs and so forth are fair game because THEY MADE IT SUCH. Let it be noted this isn't "sexist." Cheney's lesbian daughter was an issue given his support of someone who wanted to amend the Constitution to include bigotry. Edwards' affair was big news. etc. In fact, though it does reflect sexism in part, his haircut issue (blah) underlines appearance also pops up with guys too. See also, Bush's cheerleader shots.

Anyways, how about her daughter? Obama said children are not fair game. Fine enough. But, given the sanctimonious nature of some on the other side, it is okay to mention a bit that Palin's unwed seventeen year old child is pregnant. I thought only secular liberals did things like that. Oh, but Palin will have the baby and marry the eighteen year old boy involved. They stick to their beliefs (eventually). The last snarky comment underlines this is true enough, in a significant way that some will elide past, but only saves them just so much. Likewise, let's remember not everyone has the same support etc. as Palin does. Others have premarital sex with guys they "love," but a similar choice would be much different.

And, I'll let you live your life, if my teenage relatives can make their own private choices, perhaps using different moral paths. Key issue here underlines the annoying use of terms like "pro-abortion." I might think having a child is bad in such and such a case, but ultimately, my bottom line is supporting the right to choose. Does my support of the right to be an evangelistic Christian mean I'm pro-fundie? Only in a rather misleading use of the term. Anyways, the ideal is to not mention her at all, but (1) Let's be real about what we are thinking. (2) Individual stories make things real. Ditto the abstinence only education is unproductive issue. More here.

A final word -- politically, the best thing would be to lay low. To the degree it looks bad, it is obvious, and there is no need to force the issue. Likewise, it helps change the subject from worse things about this vice president choice. And, honestly, it is the right thing to do. Finally, with names like "Bristol" and "Trig," can we now admit that not only black parents give their children kind of weird names?


The Thornburgh ruling btw is an important place to go to understand the debate over the right to choose an abortion. The majority opinion is mostly pro forma, in place mainly to remind people Roe is still good law. The meat comes in the debate between Stevens (concurring) and White (dissenting). White has a problem, since he supported Griswold and various related cases. Why is the right to choose an abortion so different? Well:
However one answers the metaphysical or theological question whether the fetus is a "human being" or the legal question whether it is a "person" as that term is used in the Constitution, one must at least recognize, first, that the fetus is an entity that bears in its cells all the genetic information that characterizes a member of the species homo sapiens and distinguishes an individual member of that species from all others, and second, that there is no nonarbitrary line separating a fetus from a child or, indeed, an adult human being. Given that the continued existence and development -- that is to say, the life -- of such an entity are so directly at stake in the woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy, that decision must be recognized as sui generis, different in kind from the others that the Court has protected under the rubric of personal or family privacy and autonomy.

As Stevens argues, this is a value judgment. White recognizes rulings regarding the fundamental nature of making decisions involving child-rearing. Such rulings clearly affect constitutional persons, often in significant ways. Where one sends one's child to school or the religious tradition one is raised directly affects how one develops and the path one takes as an adult. And, various decisions have not so clear lines and limits, but we manage to set them all the same.

So, why exactly is let's say using an abortion pill to abort a one week old non-fetus (the term annoys, since it rightly applies to second trimester abortions alone) "sui generis" as compared to not letting your child go to a different school (or school at all) because it does not have the right religious education component? Or, more directly, any number of custody decisions, including medical decisions involving the child that are left to the parents, down to removing life support?

Only the ultimately personal choice involving deep questions of conscience (and, unlike White argued, quite arguably inherently religious in nature) of making an early abortion akin to child abuse (as he does in a footnote) makes it not a choice involving fundamental rights, but some loosely protected liberty interest that can be easily trumped. A telling dissent.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Fishes and Bitches

And Also: It is nice, really, that the Republicans are trying to be more "Americans" than "Republican" given the possible disaster in the making down in New Orleans, but it seems a bit too late to be truly impressed. I still think labor et. al. will be a lot better off with the other guy.

Year of the Fish is billed as "Cinderella in a Chinatown massage parlour." This fits: a young Chinese woman (seventeen) comes over to Chinatown (NY) to make money for her father back home in China (mother has died), but finds out that the "beauty parlor" she works in is actually a massage parlor. Refusing to partake, but still in debt (no mention if she is illegal; she appears to have a legitimate passport), she stays to do the grunt work. With the help of a mysterious old woman, who early on gives her the fish, she finds true love and happiness.

It is a fairly predictable but well acted fable with a good sense of place. It is also well acted, which might sound a bit off because it appears to be an animated film. But, it uses a special "rotoscope" method "defined as a technique where animators trace live-action film, frame-by-frame, for use in an animated film." So, in effect, they filmed it normally, but later on animated things. This has a neat look while also taking advantage of on location filming.

And, many films are predictable. This is why it's annoying when some reviewers denounce a film in such a fashion. It is basically lazy unless they do not like great films what are far from surprising plot-wise. The importance is the journey -- and you really care about the leads, and the mystical touches adds a nice flavor to the whole affair. Likewise, you even feel for some of the less savory characters, as well as one veteran of the parlor who still has some heart left. Good find.
Heather-The nicer, if more promiscuous Bitch. She is described by Eden as being around 5'4", with dirty blonde hair, wide green eyes, and pouty lips. Catherine calls her an anorexic whore. Eden says everything about her is perky.

Talking about good finds. Lol. A Hallmark movie led to a Internet Movie Database search of one of the leads. [As with links online in general, this can lead you to some interesting places.] She was a guest in a show with the catchy title Imaginary Bitches. The idea behind this set of internet minis is that Eden (Riegel), a soap actress in another life as our some of the other actresses involved, is depressed that all her friends seem to be hooked up and not having enough time for her.

So, after having great sex and not being able to tell anyone, she makes up two "friends" (who are rather bitchy ... and hilarious) to talk to. They also provide an outlet to lash out, the bitches clearly a reflection of some of her subconscious thoughts. Thus, when one of the bitches suggest her hooked up friends are "pod people," clearly Eden is probably the one who really thinks that. OTOH, one episode had someone who stole her former boyfriend have a vision of two pretty nasty sorts that were much like Catherine and Heather.

And, overall, Eden -- though a cutie and overall a nice person -- is clearly generally a bit of a nut with or without imaginary bitchy friends. Eden Riegel and company (including her hubby, also a face behind the scenes) are all very good. It is well acted and simply hilarious (if you like a bit of bite) at times. A reflection of some good online talent of this sort.