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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Another Depressing Loss

R.A. Dickey is playing hurt but went 7.2, hanging on to 1-0 lead. Then:
Tabata was hit by a pitch, Cedeno to second.
Harrison singled to right, Cedeno scored, Tabata to third.
Advance on throw, Harrison to second.
A.McCutchen walked on a full count.
Got to take him out. Oh, I realize, you don't want to. It is the Pirates after all. But, you got to take him out. Didn't. Gave up two runs. Okay. Down 3-1. Who do you bring in for the ninth? Bobby Parnell. Shocker he gave up two more runs. Up four runs last night, toss out your closer. Need to keep it close, you toss out this guy. Just back. Makes lots of sense. Seriously, I think the manager is doing a good job. But, sometimes, you know ...

Meanwhile, Rachel Maddow just trumped the fact that Herman Cain got 15% of the vote in some presidential poll. Who f-ing cares? It's May '10. The field is lackluster. He's someone different. He's personable and has that conservative personality vibe. He's an outsider, which is always good for the anti-government types. Shocker around one of six Republicans who vote in these things support the guy. Not really. Stop wasting our f-ing time and use the time to actually report on something serious. Some environmental thing. Something women related not connected to abortion. Something about workers not involving some anti-union bill by some troll Republican governor type. You know, various things you don't really handle.

Sometimes, Maddow is just annoying. It's not a matter of being a bit too cute about certain things or a bit too much on certain things. It's stupid stuff like this. Along with the same old shit really, it's all getting tiresome. It's like when she has this "oh look at those sad Republicans" type story. They have been sad for years. Still pretty successful in the polls, huh? She tosses a cutsie story to lead off Friday night (involving horses) but she's getting a bit too predictable.

BTW, what happened to the Twins this year?

Look forward, not back!

Ashcroft v. Kidd doesn't hold [misleading reports aside] him free and clear. In fact, three to four justices (Kagan recused) flags serious questions, questions avoided by the majority in yet another avoidance mechanism. "It could have been worse." Not that it was that good.

Standing in ACA Litigation

The law will continue to affect her, the brief contended, because she is obliged to maintain health insurance on into the future.
This is a stretch, repeatedly rejected by the other side in most cases. It has a b.s. quality. See also, state laws to create standing.

Lincoln on War

The interesting and charming Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer adds to his many books a collection of Lincoln's statements on war. An intro and brief editorial comments are added. A worthwhile read or skim.

Monday, May 30, 2011


I cited this one "straight" role of Marilyn Chambers in my own personal obit. Via Netflix, which has a good director commentary, she actually was quite good. Her charm is not merely X-rated. The film itself was not bad either, its thrills better for the lead-ups. Good final scene.

New House Chaplain

Throughout the years, the United States Senate has honored the historic separation of Church and State, but not the separation of God and State. The first Senate, meeting in New York City on April 25, 1789, elected the Right Reverend Samuel Provost, the Episcopal Bishop of New York, as its first Chaplain. During the past two hundred and seven years, all sessions of the Senate have been opened with prayer, strongly affirming the Senate's faith in God as Sovereign Lord of our Nation. The role of the Chaplain as spiritual advisor and counselor has expanded over the years from a part-time position to a full-time job as one of the Officers of the Senate. The Office of the Chaplain is nonpartisan, nonpolitical, and nonsectarian.

U.S. Senate Chaplain's Office
Hmm. "Nonsectarian" you say? The official website continues:
Chaplain Black’s days are filled with meeting Senators about spiritual and moral issues, assisting Senators’ staffs with research on theological and biblical questions, teaching Senate Bible study groups, encouraging such groups as the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, and facilitating discussion and reflection small groups among Senators and staff.
Ah yes. The "nonsectarian" Bible study. Reading ten verses from the Bible didn't work as "nonsectarian" accepted practice when public school children were involved. All the same, the Supreme Court accepted legislative chaplains, three justices dissenting in that case involving state legislatures. Madison was concerned, though as a legislator he joined in.

The appointment of legislative chaplains, as with any other officer, was not always without controversy. The latest one somewhat included, though Father Patrick Conroy himself does not seem to be the problem. A group with whom is associated with got entwined in the Roman Catholic abuse troubles. Nancy Pelosi eventually noted that she was satisfied with his appointment.

Overall, such small enmeshments of church and state are basically acceptable (at least, basically de minimis), but not free from controversy. Do we really want members of the clergy in offices like this, one where they have to swear loyalty to the Constitution like any other office of Congress? That is, if a person is to be tasked to concern him or herself (no women yet appointed) with the spiritual well being of members of Congress, I think it best if s/he is independent. Having one "official" person here is also questionable, since there are various faiths. This putting aside the issue of starting governmental affairs with religious prayers, prayers that are inherently sectarian.

If members of Congress wish to have prayer breakfasts or to choose to have someone to be a spiritual counselor, be my guest. And, they can invite people in to give an opening prayer or any such remarks, some humanist doing it now and again, perhaps. It's an important matter to many. But, do not have them pick one person, sworn in, and paid by my tax dollars. They are not isolated prisoners or members of the military. There are quite enough local clergy to do the job, if they wish.

I'm not losing any sleep over it, but so I think.

Memorial Day

Some of you young men think that war is all glamour and glory but let me tell you boys, it is all hell!

—Major General William Tecumseh Sherman
The promotion of peace and avoidance of unnecessary war is perhaps the best way to truly remember "these honored dead."

Sunday, May 29, 2011


A good German film (seen via Netflix) based on a real life case dealing with a troubled young epileptic woman struggling to start college on her own like everyone else. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (American/didn't see) used the material rather differently.

Another Bad Anti-Abortion Argument

While I'm on the subject of bad argument, with the usual proviso that I realize that I'm not a saint on these things, something written by Judge Noonan annoyed me today too. It popped up when I was searched his name in another context.

Overall, Noonan appears to me (I use qualifiers since I tend to only see small samples here) to have an impressive judicial and writing career. I found Narrowing the Nation's Power: The Supreme Court Sides with the States good, though it was a bit thin at times, even though I generally agree with the arguments put forth. Noonan has written a lot about moral issues, including contraceptives, usury and abortion. He is against abortion, both personally and as a constitutional right, but that's okay. I can find his arguments wrong and still respect him. The start of an article* (from when the ruling was first decided) on Harris v. McRae was wrong-headed all the same:
Before 1973 it would have seemed only a far-fetched hypothetical contention that the federal constitution contained an enforceable right to obtain money for an abortion.
Really? The actual issue in this case was if a Medicaid law could single out one particular procedure, even if necessary to protect the health of the woman, was constitutional. To cite this limited question in such an open-ended nature is like saying there is some constitutional right to a lawyer, full stop, not one limited to criminal cases with some minimum possible jail time when the person is unable to pay, which cannot be disallowed in some narrow arguably arbitrary category that otherwise would cover the ground involved. An unconstitutional condition, that is. It is not simply about a desire to (as suggested later) "translate the new constitutional liberty of abortion into a constitutional right to fund abortions from the public treasury." The liberty is not simply "of abortion," either, any more than one simply has a liberty "to read abortion publications."

The paragraph continues:
a virtually unqualified right of every woman, married or single, adult or minor, to have an abortion through the nine months of pregnancy
B.S. Minors could be required to get a judicial bypass to avoid parental involvement. I'm not sure how "unqualified" a right is given the acceptable regulations before you can obtain one. A lot more these days, but a decent number back in 1980 too. The allowable last trimester ban (not just the last "two months" of pregnancy) does have a health exception, as noted, but it has some limit. It's all mainly theoretical since good luck finding a doctor willing to perform one for some trivial reason and not violate some medical guideline to do so. So, no "absolute" liberty in place, in theory or practice.

The lower court judge dealt with religious freedom arguments, both establishment and free exercise related. I don't see why the Supreme Court majority noting that fact stealing is disallowed even though most religions frown upon it is a compelling rejoinder even if it might be "succinct" as compared the lengthy discussion of arguments made by the district judge. Abortion, along with various other issues, is not as simple as stealing. It is a major moral and religious dispute that (partially for constitutional reasons) should be left to individual choice. And, singling out abortion for denial in a Medicaid law is problematic in part since it wrongfully singles out a certain religious sentiment for protection. It is not merely "if a person has a religious belief leading to an action for which money is not available, the federal government as a constitutional obligation to supply the money."

Noonan also argues that if an "unborn child, as biologists and pediatricians and mothers claim, is alive, he or she is not merely potential." This misses the point of what "potential life" means in Roe v. Wade. The word "life" there does not refer to some simple biological entity of life or a skin cell would be "alive." It refers to the "life" protected by the Due Process Clause. An embryo or fetus can be "life" in various ways, including under the lights of Judge Noonan's religious or moral sentiments.

Finally, there is a dig at a usual target:
For almost eighty years "substantive due process"-another misnomer, since process is not substantive-was derided by Justices Holmes, Brandeis, and Frankfurter, and their critique became constitutional orthodoxy.
All the same, all applied the Due Process Clause in various cases to protect substantive liberties, including Brandeis in cases like Meyer v. Nebraska that served as the building blocks of the right to privacy involved in Roe. Anyway, as many have noted, "due process" has various connotations, including having a certain substantive content of limiting what all branches of government can properly do. Or, is Bolling v. Sharpe also illegitimate?

I again cite this just as an example, including an example of misguided abortion related analysis that people I otherwise respect (see also, John Hart Ely Jr.) unfortunately sometimes have involved themselves in.


* "The Supreme Court and Abortion: 1. Upholding Constitutional Principles."

Not Listening In Action

A comment made to the thread I cited earlier but posted afterward highlights the b.s. of concern that Goodwin Liu's alleged lack of qualifications. He seems to have an impressive c.v. to me. But, the people don't actually talk about it (even after I cited it to someone), focusing on the fact he only had a couple years at a law firm. Yeah, if Liu had ten years, well, up and down vote for sure! Give me a break.

But, this b.s. is repeatedly found in discussions of political issues. By now, it just pisses me off. The below is a back/forth with the italics the comments that I'm responding to. I already said that I think "experience" is a broad term but again this is ignored. The argument that time at a law firm isn't the only issue here is not disputed. It's not even discussed, so that the person, with snark, can carry out their self-interested talking points. So, real discussion is not the concern. I find real discussion more interesting, but I'm not always on the same page on that front.
So does that mean you know of no other similarly inexperienced candidates?
Again, I don't think he is "inexperienced" given his c.v. so I don't agree with the apparent premise of the question. But, I cited two federal judges appointed when they were in their thirties. For instance, Alex Kozinski was appointed to chief judge of the federal court of claims at age 32 and the Ninth Circuit at 35, one of several young conservative turks Reagan appointed.
2 years at a law firm does not make him qualified to be a federal judge.
There are lots of people with ten years experience at a law firm that would not be too well qualified (of course, there is no technical requirement here, so this isn't literally true) to be a judge either.   OTOH, someone who also was a law clerk, scholar, teacher of the law, worked [as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary] in the Dept. of Education and so forth while having support from some leading conservative voices, might be a good fit for a judgeship under a Democratic President.
My sister is married to a lawyer who is doing similar work for a local law firm for a similar amount of time - should Obama make him a federal judge because he got good grades in school too?
I assume he also clerked for federal judges (including a Supreme Court justice), worked for the Department of Education, was a law professor for some years, co-wrote a book on constitutional theory, wrote various major articles on diverse legal subjects, has support from leading voices on the other side of the ideological spectrum for said appointment and so forth?

If so, he might be a good fit for the federal bench. Let's be serious here. He was opposed for ideological reasons. Democrats opposed certain judges otherwise qualified for ideological reasons. They can be good or bad reasons, but pretending his alleged lack of "qualifications" or that he didn't spend enough time at a law firm was the problem is silly.
Obama seems to have a penchant for picking academias for their idealism rather than people with practical experience.
I don't know who "academias" refer to here. Maybe, it would help if you cite some examples and I can judge it that way. Someone other than Liu, since you allude to a trend here. But, there are certain positions where scholars are good fits along with those with more practical experience. OTOH, Liu has had "practical" experience in various respects, including in some fashion in or in front of each branch of government, private practice and academia. 

[This person (who later added some more talking past me comments that kinda half-way responded to me) is cited just as an example of a broader trend, one that sometimes is present on both sides.  It is a major pet peeve of mine, the talking past each other.  We all have our presupposed notions and all but the better ones can get pass that and truly interact on various subjects.]

Shrimp Time!

Sen. Coburn seems likeable enough, he just believes in fantasies. See here for a shrimp study that sounds a bit silly but is pretty important stuff. People who just laugh at it like five-year-olds, however, control the House. Misguided attempt to take Rs at their word on Liu.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kneejerk Brigade

Glenn Greenwald is getting to be a caricature. OBL and Ratko Mladic are different in various ways, including the nature of the conflict involved. But, hey, it's just hypocrisy. Will you get some f-ing perspective? A good snarky intelligent critic has a bit more.

Film/TV Quickies

Monsters was a bit slow but a quite good low budget aliens movie, a cinéma vérité type film of two people trying to make it back to the U.S. Meanwhile, FNL was pretty good; nice to see Jason, but he lingered around not having much to do. Matt and Tyra coming?

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Little Bit Goes A Long Way

On balance, I have found customer service on the phone to be helpful and polite, though at times they do try to sell me something. A recent a-hole was thankfully an exception. This sort of thing is appreciated.

Another Free Netflix Month

Mixed beginning. The Lancaster/Garland film A Child is Waiting was pretty good, but only saw half. A Marine Story (DADT!) was good until the melodramatic last reel. Countdown to Zero (nuclear weapons) didn't play well and I got bored. Shorter attention spans these days.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive

The heroin addicted doctor (mainly abortions) who is haunted by Hank Williams is the star of this first novel of redemption among local characters in some God forsaken Texas locale late 1963. Story runs out of steam some, but good eye for characters and dialogue.

Supreme Court Watch

The SC handled a few rulings today, avoiding a tricky subject and dividing on an Arizona licensing law concerning alleged illegal workers. Tricky case with discriminatory enforcement potential and I'm inclined to let the federal executive serve as a type of tiebreaker. Their pre-emption argument failed but figure it's a close case.

Telling It Like It Is

This rant against Beyoncé's "Run The World" is great. The song would work better if it was a call to action. If it is, it's pretty weak gruel. And, thank you Richard Beeman for clearing up the confusion many seem to have about the 14A eventually limiting the states.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Goodwin Liu Withdraws

'Tis as much a shame as it was unsurprising. As I try to say here (it's fun talking to someone who just doesn't hear you), this doesn't make it right. Thank you Obama for resubmitting him; hopefully, it did some good. Oh well -- he's young and will be heard from again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Nice to see Marty Lederman back (legality of OBL killing). Comment on Risen subpoena here. Spar with David Bernstein on Lochner here.

Pride and Prejudice: Graphic Novel

Since it's Jane Austen season, a quick word on this: an impressive job that uses Austen's words well. Originally five issues, the graphic novel is available in one volume. Next up: will re-watch the film.

Sense and Sensibility

I liked Pride and Prejudice better for having a more enjoyable story and more pleasing characters, but this book had its charms. Good eye for character, if filled with rather flawed ones. Again, the Signet version was the best read, compact with two good commentaries.

Monday, May 23, 2011

TV Time

There is a decent amount of soft porn, including various series that provide some actual story content and decent acting. Lingerie and Life On Top included. I have spoken of the works of Brandin Rackley. The college series is a bit boring and the women aren't as interesting.

Supreme Court Watch

In terms of constitutional history, the Court’s sweeping declarations in the Boumediene decision, about the role of the judiciary in keeping the government from switching the Constitution on and off, now appear to have meant far less as a check on Executive power than they had seemed when that ruling came down in June 2008. And, while that decision might once have seemed to hold out the promise of ending the detention of many held at Guantanamo, it now appears to mean that some will remain at Guantanamo for years to come, and that facility will remain open indefinitely.
So sums up an analysis of the Supreme Court's avoidance of detainee cases this term. The NYT added on a related matter:
As President Obama’s first solicitor general, Justice Elena Kagan was in on the benighted decision to use overwrought secrecy claims to stop any hearing for torture victims. She properly recused herself from voting on the case. Surely among the eight remaining judges there was at least one sensitive to the gross violation of rights, and apparently law. We wish they would have at least offered a dissent or comment to let the world know that the court’s indifference was not unanimous.
The only state secrets case the Supreme Court took was a corporate dispute over money. It was decided unanimously on boring grounds [this might be a bit unfair; the ruling is somewhat interesting] though a curious kicker is tacked on that "the state-secrets evidentiary privilege is not to be lightly invoked." Be nice if some real teeth is given to that statement.

The Court did rule 5-4 to uphold a lower court order regarding prison overcrowding involving those in need of medical care should continue, including a few pictures in the .pdf file version. I'm inclined to agree with Dahlia Lithwick that the pictures don't really add much though it is striking to have a touch of visual humanity in the U.S. Reports. And, such graphics might be of some use, while perhaps more used in the future. After all, the average person can take a quick picture on a cell phone and so forth.

Minnesota Legislature vs. Same Sex Couples

And Also: I'm wary when David Bernstein supports Obama on Israel policy, but his speech also impressed Josh Marshall and got a slight nod from Glenn Greenwald, so maybe it really was helpful. Good episode of Army Wives. More knowing relationship touches.

The place that passed the first statewide law prohibiting discrimination against transgender people now has its legislature submit this amendment to the voters, just meeting supermajority requirements:
"Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?"
Let me add that I got the text via Wikipedia since repeatedly news reports don't actually provide it. The particular text is important in cases like this. The text here includes "recognizing" out of state marriages. New York doesn't grant same sex marriage licenses but current recognizes out of state same sex marriages. So, this selective slap against same sex couples is worse than it could be.

These type of laws (higher law at that, since it's a state constitutional amendment) have real effect since they deny privileges and immunities along with being a slap in the face, but have a clear moral message too. They amount to a type of establishment of religion since regarding a matter with much religious significance, one specific side is getting special state endorsement. The same is true in regard to various abortion restrictions such as:
The bill mandates sonograms for women seeking abortions, and makes clear they can view the image and hear the fetal heart beat. If she [chooses] not to see the sonogram, a doctor must give her a detailed description of the fetus from what can be seen on a sonogram.
Opponents of abortion sometimes want to have it both ways. They claim that Roe v. Wade isn't really necessary since without it women would still have the ability (not right, of course) to have an abortion overall. But, they gladly support a myriad of regulations that effectively make having one difficult. If these laws have no concrete effect, are they then merely moral pronouncements? This isn't true, since they do, but even then it would be problematic on First Amendment grounds. As usual, I would note Justice Stevens covers this ground well.

Oh, the amendment passed the Minnesota Senate with four Republicans opposing it and two Democrats supporting it. As usual, this is not just a right and wrong issue. It is a political issue. This is what happens when you vote for Republicans these days. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has called in question the new Indiana defunding Planned Parenthood law given federal Medicaid rules. But one reason I'm not just going to being holding my nose when I vote for him in '12.

Mets Have A Lousy Inning

The first Subway Series came down to the 7th inning. Not the team's finest hour. SNY announcers were excited though!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Quickies

Not a big fan of nailbiters, but the Mets won one versus the Yanks tonight. The Mets fell apart around the All Star Break last year. Good now; enjoy it as it lasts. FNL was very good -- Tami/Eric stuff, rich character stuff and not the sense of blah of the early episodes.

More On Liu Filibuster

[Update: Recess appointment? In the past, I questioned the legitimacy of recess appointments of judges to get around filibusters or such. Didn't really change my mind. Not sure how useful it would be to recess appoint Liu, which could only make things worse in the confirmation wars. Bush made two recess appointments of appellate judges, one who didn't get a permanent appointment; it's a pretty big step and I doubt Obama really would do it anyways. I doubt I really want him to. We shall see.]

I cited Orin Kerr (special adviser of Sen. Cornyn during the Supreme Court nominations) of Volokh Conspiracy noting that Liu had fair notice that his strong opposition of Roberts and Alito would result in a backlash. I found it distasteful, particularly given Kerr's not totally uninterested role, that he blandly said that and that it would be "reasonable" to oppose his confirmation given (1) the b.s. involved in the opposition and (2) the issue at hand is a filibuster, not confirmation, so he should be talking about if it was reasonable to filibuster. Avoiding that issue allows him to be artificially above the fray.

Another person at the blog, who often is more partisan and knee-jerk (Orin Kerr has his passive aggressive moments), Jonathan Adler sympathized with the opponents (disputed on the merits by various comments) but stated he opposed ideological opposition on principle. He would just focus on "qualifications" and avoidance of "cronies." Was John Marshall, Adams' Secretary of State and supporter in Congress a crony? What does "qualified" mean, exactly? Ideology is a factor when determining who a President appoints. Why can't the Senate take that into consideration? So, I sympathize with his principal support of a Liu up/down vote and confirmation, but find his test questionable.

The rule here seems to be that if you are a law professor type or advocate in general, you can't really be too strongly against even swing votes on the Supreme Court, including if you build your case by citing case law and so forth. That is, "don’t write too much, write on non-controversial topics, and watch what you say at speaking events." It is quite true that Republican nominees have also got in trouble for their views, though repeatedly they were confirmed anyways. Some blowback on the failure of Liu to be allowed an up/down vote here. A nod to Lisa Murkowski (who is labeled "R" even though she lost her primary) for voting for cloture. Ben Nelson (snark removed) did not.

This whole affair is depressing but not surprising. It is a small victory, if looked at optimistically. Overall, I'm unsure how many people are paying attention to what they do with some lower court judge. It is largely an issue the base cares about and since many of them are in safe districts or districts that honestly don't care much about some potential 9th Circuit. judge, what consequence would they have? The fact Democrats filibuster too also makes it not a clean issue. If we are left with looking at statistics of who is worse, well, that's a lost cause. Wrong or not, that is going a bit far into the reeds for the general public to care about it.

Obama re-nominated Liu after he was blocked the first time. Reid forced a vote here of an attractive candidate that Democrats can show had various conservatives on his side. They don't like the result. Like Ted Olson on same sex marriage, things like this can show a fracture in their cause, however small. He will be a calling card for the base and others on Republican hypocrisy and obstructionism. The efforts the Republican put out on him will make it somewhat harder for them to block someone else prominent. And, the media has put Liu out there in a positive light. Big picture, not bad.

Bottom line, with the Supreme Court stable for the moment, the Administration needs to continue to work with Senate Democrats to fill slots in the courts. We need more Liu type judges out there, even if Goodwin Liu himself remains in academia.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Keith Olbermann Defends Michael Moore

I think MM tries too hard to throw stink bombs into the room but agree with Keith that we need people like that -- even if we disagree with their position, someone who challenges the powers that be. Make them uncomfortable. And, often they are right.

Liu Filibustered

Expected result (some comments by me here) but still depressing. Obama is to be commended for submitting his name a second time. He is the type of nominee that should be nominated. This is why he was blocked. Overall, the time to push hard on nominations is now.

Cloture Vote for Goodwin Liu

I watched his hearings and read some of his stuff and he deserves confirmation, like a bipartisan group says. Orin Kerr, an advisor of Sen. Cornyn, in his b.s. mode notes it is "reasonable" to oppose the guy. And, he digged his grave since he was a dfh type during the Alito nomination. Had a "very troubling" op-ed too. My comments here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Akilah Amapindi

I continue to get a few hits for a post about the tragic death of a young journalist, Akilah Amapindi. I see her mother wrote a book about her story and writings. Free preview at Amazon.

Kentucky v. King: How Bad?

Some have different opinions than others. I inclined to lean toward the second, though realize the possibility of abuse. I also (see comments) disagree with LGM here. Overall, the ruling seems to be fairly narrow, like most SC 4A rulings these days. On another ruling.

Body of Proof

The season finale (it's coming back) was pretty good. The show is a bit forced, but overall, it's a mature show about adults. It's not that original, but good for what it is. Adding to the comfort level, some familiar faces, including from Once and Again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

FU Moment

Down to the last -- the specter of Niese the last out (after the other team's RELIEVER hit the winning run in extras), a misplayed ball actually got him to third! Just another tease, there being many in that game. Marlins win another Josh Johnson started game. Grr.

Monday, May 16, 2011

NY Baseball Drama

Posada is slipping and couldn't handle it. He was wrong to ask out of the line-up but the lack of respect the team is showing for a veteran is distasteful. Wright is hurt now. What is this, 2009?

TV Time

Victorious and Good Luck Charlie weren't that good, the latter having more shades of charm.  I'm not sure where Beck, not really liking Jade's new look and the blood stuff was a bit stupid (even one pint would require parental permission, probably).  The musical was cute though.  Still, it fits into some lesser episodes of this season, only the stunt double one really very good. 

GLC was better, some good ideas and the final bit (often a "breaking the fourth wall" or unreal concept) was funny.  It still isn't quite as inspired as some early episodes. It also is appreciated that the show gives the parents something to do, even though it is a Disney comedy. BTW, I saw the Suite Life episode where Bailey was possessed by an ancient Mayan princess and remained very impressed at how good it is.  By the last season or two, the show really found its groove and the characters had some shades of the truly inspired.  The "rat" episode was great too.

Army Wives, however, was good again. After a slow start, it might have hit a groove, or at least, has for the last few episodes. The episode had various subplots that could be seen as various perspectives on marriage and relationships. Denise and her husband served as role models here for the LeBlancs. Their message: don't blame the other party, recognize what you did wrong and do your duty. Denise's comment about honoring your military husband underlines her perspective while Frank (who is turning out to be a very good character after early episodes where he didn't come off as that likeable) telling Trevor to not blame his bad behavior on Roxy and then defending him underlines his.

Meanwhile, CJ (with an assist from Pamela ... will her job complicate her re-marriage? she looks good a cop) helps a sexually abused vet (readers of Doonesbury, though as I recall she was "only" sexually harassed, not rape, were a step ahead of CJ and Roland here) while dealing with the continual effects of her boss' attraction of her. That part was handled in a nice low key way, including CJ thanking her husband for letting her do it her own way. As with last time, the show benefited from a strong dramatic guest appearance (Trevor's friend did good in a small role too). The "ma'am" bit reminds me of a similar use of that address by a military academy member who was a guest on the Rachel Maddow show. It's a charming bit of charm. I also found little things like that do a lot, such as at the store.

Roland and Joan's adoption plans continued, meeting a boy who turns out to be HIV positive. Their honest concerns (they were only told after they met and felt a link to the child) was also well played. It was a somewhat "mean" trick to have them meet the child, even though they said beforehand that they were willing to deal with a child with special needs. But, the fact they decided to push past their concerns and work toward taking him in underlines the child welfare worker here made the right decision. It is a sign that total honesty upfront is not always the best path and that honest recognition of concerns doesn't mean that on the whole you would not do something. Overall, a sign of the mature complexity of the episode.

On the "cable" front, Trial and Error is a good low thought cable movie (especially for its around midnight air time) though the director should have had Jeff Daniels tone it down in a few places. Michael Richards is surprisingly low key overall and it's a shame he couldn't find more character roles of this type after Seinfeld (it was filmed while it still ran). The plot of him filling in for his lawyer friend, who is marrying a stereotypical bitch (a young Charlize Theron is on board to save him) can't be taken too seriously. Not quite My Cousin Vinny (same director) but fun.

I am the "True Scotsman"

So says Kurt Lash, but my sense of honor in the title is diminished by the fact his reasoning (on the ACA) comes off about as serious as that remark does.  Again, like Mr. Bennett, I can be amused but this sort of self-assured self-delusion is shared by too many powerful people.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Inherently Unequal: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903

This book covers a lot of ground pretty well but its brevity does result in some thinness and certain assumptions (e.g., about due process) that are not adequately explained.  Amazon reviews also point to some errors. Overall, worthwhile but to be taken with a grain of salt.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What Are We Fighting For?

Steve Earle is great. I'll check out his book.

Remember Her?

Shirley Sherrod is back at the United States Department of Agriculture, almost a year after she was forced out by a misleading video spread by conservatives falsely accusing her of discriminating against white farmers.


Facing strong criticism from Congressional Republicans and conservative organizations, the Navy said Wednesday that it had suspended new guidelines that would have allowed chaplains to perform same-sex marriages.
And, that is one reason why I'm not a Republican. Or, a Paulite (+ DOMA, abortion, social security etc.). FNL was pretty good last night.

All Pro Dad

I received this free from the Book Sneeze program in return for a review. This book is by a former football player who founded "Family First," which has a mission "to strengthen the family by establishing family as a top priority in people's lives and by promoting principles for building marriages and raising children." [website]

The stresses of sports, including for fans, makes it helpful to remember that it is after all (my apologies) a game. Winning the game is not what should be ultimately important over everything else. Sports figures can be heroes, but the best ones are heroes for more than simply winning. A true "pro" realizes winning itself includes a lot of things and this book takes that to heart to be an "all pro dad."

The book underlines the responsibility involved here, doing so with a religious focus, but with lessons helpful to all fathers. Jesus noted that all of God's plan can be whittled down to two commandments. The book's principles also can -- the fundamental principles of love and leadership. The book view this through "God's prospective," which after all boils down to what is good and caring. This also makes sense since a key to God is love, the basis of parenthood. This all has a universal message.

The book provides seven steps to be a good dad. First, you have to know who you are, self-knowledge an important first step to know your strengthens and weaknesses, how you can use them all. Then, determine your purpose, your motive, method, realize you are a [role] model, know what message to send and know who your are living for. The discussion provides various human stories and breaks down each step to ease the journey. The chapters also end with questions to think about. It is in effect a workbook on being a good dad.

It is a pretty good read and hopefully will make people think, helping them to be good dads. Three stars.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

A blogger update or something seems to have deleted my post on the book (see my comments on the film here). I mostly enjoyed it, finding the lead characters charming, the writing witty and the style overall quite readable. Whatever that might "signify."

Mets Win

Players keep on getting hurt (now Ike Davis because of a stupid infielder mix-up) but they still have a chance to win. Beltran again shows life during a walk year and Harris decides to get on base four times. I'll take it. That infield was a bit thin though.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The anti-ACA side drew an unfortunate panel for today's 4th Cir. oral argument. Info here, government brief and I'm bored by now. I think the argument weak, made worse by the over the top and hypocritical techniques used. Creativity isn't really good argument.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Unfortunate Facts Shouldn't Make Bad Law

I have commented on this case before, but the law seems basic, particularly since the person is legally innocent. Are we to assume guilt and refuse to deal with the other possible scenarios of allowing the cheerleader to have a right to selectively cheer?

LGM Weak Link

I like this blog though at times find the content tiresome, but actually stopped going for a time because of the argument style of this guy. Let him continue his cheap argument style and your Ann Althouse digs are hypocritical. Why do you give this guy a platform?

TV Quickies

Wizards was somewhat amusing -- it was better than some recent ones. Army Wives was decent, with various interesting subplots with nice complexity (e.g., CJ's honesty, Roxy's understandable misjudgments). And, Good Luck Charlie was bland.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Suite Life On Deck

While another somewhat disappointing (S5 is sorta lame) FNL played, Suite Life on Deck ended with a graduation. Didn't really like the original but this "sequel" turned out to be pretty good. Had some truly inspired moments. Some hits/misses in the finale here.

Mets Win

Niese gutted it out 5.2 after throwing lots of pitches, but walked the pitcher, resulting a reliever getting one out and and a win. Not the first somewhat unfair result. Pridie needs to stay and one of the non-hitting Hs go. Good or not, team is showing life.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Legal? Just? Justice?

A good legal defense of the OBL killing. A response to what seems to be a too literal Slate article on its "justice." Some time stamp!

Calling Signs at "Home"

Matters that Obama Is President Watch

in slightly over two years, the Obama Justice Department has filed six lawsuits under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, mostly to seek injunctions and fines. That compares with just one such lawsuit during the entire eight years of George W. Bush.
Same as old boss, obviously.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Jane Austen Time

"If I understand you rightly, you had formed a surmise of such horror as I have hardly words to—Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?"

-- Northanger Abbey
A look told me that over the years I have read more classic novels than my overall tendency might suggest (for the longest time, it was hard for me to find a fictional book to my liking), but never read Jane Austen. Well, after all, never was part of The Jane Austen Book Club, which Ebert describes well as contrived but no less good really for being so. I recently re-watched the film (with some interesting extras and a pretty good commentary track with a few actors involved) and was again impressed by the ensemble work. Here are two great bits of dialogue:
Jocelyn: If we stay in this lane, we're going to be late.
Grigg Harris: Given that I have to convert donut grease into biofuel every time I fill up the tank, I try not to drive very fast.
Jocelyn: We're barely moving... Why are you getting off here?
Grigg Harris: I enjoy seeing the river.
Jocelyn: What are you, Mark Twain? Now we're gonna get stuck at every light.

Prudie Drummond: I'm in love with one of my students. I mean, nothing's happened, much. It could if I let it... I fantasize about him constantly.
Bernadette: Sweetie, your mother died. This is grief.
Prudie Drummond: He looks at me like he's the spoon, and I'm this dish of ice cream.

As to the books, I actually did watch four (five if you count Clueless/Emma) film/television adaptions, the exception in effect the book I just read (see opening quote). Austen is known for her "chick lit" (if I may use that term, Roger) plots, which is fine, but the dialogue is what inhibits me. The opening quotation is from an online resource for works in the public domain. You can also get a collection of Austin's "other works" (letters and so forth) and to quote from a random one to her sister, this seems to be her standard speech:
My dear Cassandra,—Your letter this morning was quite unexpected, and it is well that it brings such good news to counterbalance the disappointment to me of losing my first sentence, which I had arranged full of proper hopes about your journey, intending to commit them to paper to-day, and not looking for certainty till to-morrow.
And, that is a not too arch bit. But, the novel I selected attracted me for a few reasons. First and foremost, it is her shortest novel. Second, it is somewhat satirical, quite amusing if you are of the right frame of mind. One problem is that it doesn't consistently hold up the level of whimsy (including asides from the author) though the characters (including, air quotes implied, the young heroine) are often seem inherently satirical here. Our heroine has read one too many Gothic novels. But, the book is half over before we get to the title locale, too much time spent at Bath (of autobiographic interest). Some fun with the characters but the plot isn't that interesting after awhile. Expected a bit more there.

Mixed bag for this reader, some parts slow moving. I sort of saw that in some of the film adaptions too. I could enjoy the characters and characteristics but the starchy flavor is something you have to be able to handle or learn to appreciate. It is one of those books that you can fall into, which is harder these days (at least for me) with so many other alternatives. Thus, the smaller dose. See also, the recent reading of Nella Larsen or another book I just started. Not sure, for instance, of reading a 18th Century Gothic novel referenced that is over five hundred pages by one count. Still, might try to read a bit more Austen. Maybe, Persuasion or the never published (originally) Lady Susan.*

OTOH, for Maria Bello (film reference), I surely would. Meanwhile, how we have grown.


* Read a comment today suggesting that classic fiction is a way to understand how things are different in the past. Such works are great to imagine a different world.

I can imagine our heroine at the pumps at Bath or on the road in her carriage after being unfairly and abruptly sent home. This is obviously a charm along with the female centered plots (another plus for teenage girls -- Austen seems to disfavor parental figures, many weak characters there, lot of the focus on the younger folks ... well, she did die around forty and never married; wonder how she would have been if she lived longer).

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Read/Watch The Whole Thing

Not comfortable with CHEERING OBL's death but understand it, more so than comments about "fratboys" (no girls?). Darn, people are happy OBL was caught! What creeps! Lara Logan's interview was powerful; see also, the extra footage about her talking to her husband.

Torture Defenders Drool

But here we are, two years later, and interrogation (enhanced or otherwise) of a detainee unlocked the door that led yesterday to the raid at Abbottabad.
Fruitless or not, we can't elide past that "or otherwise" (and to what end?) and not working isn't the core reason it is wrong anyway.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Army Wives

After some not so good ones, other than the "special episode" with the funeral and all, yesterday's was very good with several rich subplots handled well. When a guest star (a widow who questions the value of her loss) is but one reason to watch, you are doing good.


The Supreme Court again had a one (signed) opinion day, a water dispute that was 7-1 (Kagan recused) with Scalia inventing a word and ridiculing the majority, written by Thomas. They have split various times this term; Thomas is known for such dull majority opinions.

Oh, And the Mets Won In the 14th

After losing a nailbiter, the Mets won one, though they ruined a lot of opportunities first. It is "only baseball," but baseball is the American pastime, and from being an emergency center on, there is a special connection for Shea and the Mets. And, life goes on. So, enjoy it.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Dead

Haven't much about him for some time but yeah some sense of justice and completeness there. On some other level, less so, since it is about much more than one person. How much changed? Oh well.

Gov. Mitch Daniels Reminds Us He Isn't THAT Reasonable

I enjoy reading Volokh Conspiracy largely because of the excellent comments but also because of various interesting topics, though some of the "conspirators" are basically knee-jerk tools about various issues.

But, just to remember why I'm a Democrat, even the "serious" ones like Orin Kerr and Eugene Volokh (who was ridiculed in the Bush years for saying he wasn't really keen on discussing torture, since he wasn't really into that sort of thing academically; this didn't stop him from musing about things like consent laws ... sorry, torture hits to the core of the basic meanings of liberty and limitations of power) let their kneejerk and partisan side (Kerr now and then freely admits he's a Republican) come out. The coverage of the Clement/K&S matter underlines that. Ditto some of the "excellent" [EV also went out of his way to selectively support some conservative from Texas] politicians they support, even "reasonable" ones like Mitch Daniels.

Gov. Daniels is trying to move above the fray in part by avoiding the culture wars. And, given the field, he and people like Gary Johnson (who Glenn Greenwald is interested in, but lest we be confused, as noted via Twitter, DOES NOT "support" or "endorse") are probably credible additions to the field. Lest we forget, he still is a conservative politician. The VC thread linked in the penultimate (ha) link includes people trying to avoid his budgetary embarrassment during the Bush years. He supports union busting laws, but just is wary about the negative blowback (of the sort Rachel Maddow focuses upon) that the current efforts in a few states have brung. And, he supports conservative anti-Planned Parenthood / abortion legislation [final version might be slightly different; the PP amendment was a late edition, so not sure if it's there].

It's things like this that help provide perspective, including to anti-Obama (nice job at the correspondents dinner Mr. President) sorts from the left who like to bash him. The anti-PP portion of the bill was the target of a local op-ed:
Lawmakers say the new law, the first in the union to ban Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation's oldest and largest sexual and reproductive health care organization, may deny the state $4 million in federal support. The governor should not allow care that is inarguably positive to be sacrificed. The General Assembly should have separated the abortion restrictions from PPIN funding. If legislators insist on pursuing their current strategy, they must put in place a clear alternate to the PPIN health services for those who need them. And regardless of the conundrum the current bill may pose for Daniels as he considers a run for president, he should not sign H.B. 1210.
A comment* nicely notes that if money is so fungible that PP can't be funded (the governor spoke of some sort of segregation of funds, which given national anti-abortion measures sounds like a tar-baby and probably would include limits on even abortion counseling) it's unclear how religious charities can be funded, since the money frees up more money for church services. And, to me, at least there a soup kitchen can have a secular aspect, even if a church runs it out of religious conviction. Abortion choices are basically always a component of family planning. On some level, it seems worse to single it out.

As noted here, this is not just about planned parenthood as whole, that is, contraceptives and all that. Abortion rights are also at stake. A look at the bill suggests a few concerns. True, ultrasound is not required; the girl/woman only has to be given a choice to see it. Pre-viability abortions are protected, while a few states try to inhibit them overall. The bill's title notes it is about "health," underlining abortion is part of health care. Other "half full" aspects probably can be cited. Since this is Indiana, which is basically moderate Red State territory, it is probably helpful to recognize sanity when one can.

Nonetheless, the bill focuses on evidence of fetal pain to block abortions after twenty weeks (fetuses aren't viable at that point, but that allows a margin of error to the outer limits of where they are) except for "substantial permanent impairment of the life or physical health of the pregnant woman" (note a standard generalization, though a significant number will be teenage girls). This not only ignores "mental" health, leads to debates over what "substantial" and "permanent" means, but results in cases where a woman has to bring a severely malformed fetus that won't survive to term, since it doesn't fit into that narrow category. And, it is currently scientifically debatable that twenty week old fetuses actually do feel pain. If they do, the alternative would be -- if possible -- to only allow abortions that first anesthetize the fetus.

The law also targets "partial birth" abortion and only allows this so-called procedure if "no other medical procedure is sufficient to save the mother's life." As with a procedure that might for temporary (a year?) time impair health, this (though probably with some unclear exception) ignores health concerns, allowing less safe methods as long as the mother (sic) doesn't die. And, even if the woman opposes this restriction, a "spouse, parent, sibling, guardian" has standing to sue the doctor to stop this or any other thing allegedly in violation of the statute.

The bill has various regulations of the abortion procedure that very well might be overly restrictive, but by now that's old news. The pro-health care choice legislator is left with a rear guard effort to try to block or focus upon the most egregious aspects of such legislation. Thus, we are left with seeing not forcing women to view ultrasounds are a victory. Small that they might be. Meanwhile, this and other burdens is the result of conservative wins at the polls, reasonable they might be relative to others out there.


* Full comment from paper:
Since money is fungible our tax dollars that go to religious groups ostensibly for services to the poor may in fact be applied to proselytising which violates federal law. So if Planned Parenthood can not receive funds to provide health care for the poor because money would otherwise be used for abortions the same can be said for all religious charities that receive our tax dollars. I think we should stop funding all charities or private service organizations with tax dollars so they can operate without government interference or having wing-nuts ride herd on them because they provide a service some folks oppose.
Principled consistency is the hobgoblin of partisan minds, or something.

"The Obvious Constitutionality of Health Care Reform"

Here is a good summary that addresses various issues in summary fashion that is accessible to the general public.