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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rev. Joe

Someone I know is trying out a Bible study class - finds the workbook boring.  I think adult bible study is a great way to appreciate things more. The reading was on the "Catholic epistles" and explained their context, including when they were written.  I find the Bible quite interesting and such context helps make it so.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Angels Crest

The tragic death of a young boy in a small Western town affects various characters in this somber ensemble piece that is decent, but not quite a total success. Jeremy Piven is one scruffy prosecutor. Overall, a bit undercooked. Good brief commentary track.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Giving Blood

I have for quite some time after listening to a speech in class about it. Who says such things are meaningless? It is a rather easy way to "donate" and you get free juice and snacks (and often stickers and literature). I like those cute mobile vans. Try it out!

Who is getting a lot of hits?

Kory Stamper, dictionary babe.


From what I saw, the return of the refs went off smoothly, down to another Hail Mary toss. This time, one last shot was allowed because of a defensive penalty, but the call looked legit. The Browns made a game of it, but still lost. Preview of Jets game?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spray Paint Protest

Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian born left leaning activist (she was on Melissa Harris-Perry's show some weeks back), spray-painted an subway ad that she found offense.  She noted (see video on link) this was some act of "free speech," but local and state laws don't agree that graffiti on other person's property is protected speech.  What if someone defaced a Planned Parenthood poster or something?  Get a clue. “This is non-violent protest, see this America. I’m an Egyptian-American and I refuse hate.”  Still is a problem.  Vandalism on subways is not okay. 

Orin Kerr used the incident to note that note there is no (officially recognized -- people repeatedly have demanded rights that eventually were officially recognized) right to be told at the time of arrest what you are being arrested for.  He had to amend his post when it was noted that NY statutory law does provide some right to be so notified.  So, even if she is wrong that as a "U.S. citizen" (really -- it was in a NYC subway station against an Egyptian born lefty -- why the idea they alone should get special rights here?!) she has a right to be notified, the person arrested in NY would.  Citizen or not.  She could have been shortly later, off camera, so this is all a matter of discussion really. 

As comments noted, no, it is not really obvious what she is being arrested for.  As news reports noted, "another woman tries to block her,"  who now is saying she will sue.  Oh please. The woman has a tripod, references her by name and looks to be doing as much agitprop in the video as Mona Eltahawy did.   Some articles make it sound like she was just some bystander -- people in NYC subways don't do things like that.  So, ME could have been arrested for that or for breach of peace or specifically use of spray paint or something slightly different.  Still, if it is obvious, it makes sense for the police, given the provision, to simply tell her.  It's pretty easy to do so and saves time.  Many a lawsuit is because of officials needlessly just making it difficult.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved new guidelines for advertisements on Thursday, prohibiting those that it “reasonably foresees would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace.”
The article notes past problems in court with not accepting such ads.  The vote here was 8-0, but that doesn't sound very convincing.  Sounds pretty vague to me -- what sort of poster violates those terms?  Why should there be some sort of hecklers veto to block some ad among various ads in the midst of the many hallways of subways or elsewhere?  The ad is offensive but some ads are offensive.  1A and all that.  Other than such things like obscenity or blocking whole categories of ads, content neutral, perhaps (a 1970s case allowed such a law regarding buses)  might be okay.  Anyhow, what does this rule really mean?  The specific ad says: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” 

Why should this incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of peace over and above any other things considered protected speech?  After all, even this was a non-violent protest.  You are really just giving the people behind the poster attention, allowing them to claim to be victims or something, by doing this.  ME made her point.  Let her get fined or perhaps have to do some sort of community service.  Move along.

Of course, it was tricky at the end

A 37-year-old knuckleballer who had never won more than 11 games in any previous season, Dickey (20-6) overcame an outstanding, climbing catch by Travis Snider more than 2 feet above the right-field wall that robbed Mike Baxter of a tying home run in the second inning.

And, Keith Hernandez had his mustache shaved for charity.  

Packers Still Lost

Unlike Nader, the "loser" game last Monday Night just might have helped to push settlement talks on the NFL refs issue. Of course, now we can't challenge ref calls and will appreciate what we have. Ha ha.

The Tiresome "Nader" Debate Again

Deciding Obama is too horrible to vote for from the left is usually put out by tiresome people who selectively cite his actions and live in some sort of "I want a unicorn" universe.  See the discussion at LGM. The other options, like "love that Ron Paul" Gary Johnson or "no difference between Romney and Obama on economic policy" Greens also leave a lot to be desired. Also, push back some on drones.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Sacred Circle

In A Sacred Circle: The Dilemma of the Intellectual in the Old South, 1840-1860, Drew Gilpin Faust examines how self-described men of “genius” in the antebellum era handled their lack of institutional and social support. She asserts that William Gilmore Simms, James Henry Hammond, Edmund Ruffin, Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, and George Frederick Holmes formed a “sacred circle,” an intimate group of like-minded men dedicated to improving their personal lot in life and reforming southern society. Faust finds the group to embody the tug of war inside all men of mind in the antebellum South.
I checked out this book as a preview to another more recent book she wrote a few decades later (and with a much more superior position in academia) about death and suffering during the Civil War (she was a guest on the Colbert Report, yet again promoting knowledge).  The more recent book is full length; this is more of a monograph that appears to be an adaption of her doctorate.

It is okay but even for someone with an interest in the subject matter, a bit of a drudge -- reads as if something assigned during an upper level intellectual history class and not the most freely written 150 pages (plus notes) either.  As the review notes, the people covered here do at times "appear to be whiners" and not overly attractive as representatives of their "circle."  The subject is interesting though, including a look at a small sample as a sort of representation of intellectual life.

Overlap alert -- Hammond was referenced by Justice Blackmun in the case talked about in the "day of prayer" discussion a few entries ago.  Tucker is the son of a well known constitutional analyst, St. George Tucker, and half-brother of Jeffersonian Era character, John Randolph of Roanoke.  

Marriage and Reason Are Poor Bedfellows Alert

EV referenced a declaration (a comment there notes that it is related to the case I discuss here, the literal reach of the law goes beyond getting marriage licenses for multiple marriages) that it is local policy not to enforce polygamy laws except when a party is a minor and/or other crimes are involved.  This discretion is in place to respect local religious beliefs.  Related to the lawsuit, an intent to prosecute the "Sister Wives" people is denied though it is accepted that the possibility might have been noted.

My discussion is referenced to note the scope of the law in question and the nuances of the specific claim.  Polygamy is a usual trope when SSM is raised (incest is tossed in too -- see the EV comments), but the law covers those who merely "purport" to be married, including via some sort of religious ceremony that does not express any official character.  This suit also is partially a claim of selective prosecution or fear thereof.

So, there is a few steps between the right of intimate association (referenced by the claimants here), SSM and official recognition of polygamous unions. The differences are confused by various typical comments, including yet again the apparent inability to find a reason to allow polygamy or incest prohibitions if SSM is allowed.  Somehow, states manage to have one but not all and who really thinks they are just being arbitrary?  Also, "any change to marriage" that has been around for "millennium" (a repeated term ... do they mean polygamy?)  should be done only by legislatures.  Loving v. Virginia et. al. somehow different.

The specious nature of classification is -- though those making it unsurprisingly wish not to admit to it -- is nature to bigotry, this area still a somewhat respectable area to have it.  I guess that is a key point here, but I still am annoyed about the whole thing, since so many claim to be blase about it.  You know, hey, I'm okay with it, I just don't think the courts should do it.  Or, I'm not stressed out, I just think, you know, once you say marriage is merely about loving another person (or a consenting adult) (it isn't, in part since "love" isn't needed to get a license), SSM (aka sex discrimination) reasonably means polygamy and marrying your brother.  I'm just being reasonable here. What are the reasons (for the 100x) for differentiating the them?  I'm an idiot. 

It is like saying thinking marijuana laws are stupid means heroin must be sold in drugstores next to the Malboros. A few libertarians can think that way, but I seriously don't think we are just dealing with them.  We are dealing with people who resist to really honestly reason out what is going on.  Like those who -- like the True Scotsman -- think a myriad of changes to "traditional" marriage don't really count, but same sex marriage just is too much. 

"Habit, rather than analysis, makes it seem acceptable and natural to distinguish between male and female" here.  This includes the inability to deal with a specific issue (e.g., see EV thread: a question of the courts enforcing some rights in the marriage context became a matter of substantive debate of the question of marriage) without reopening things writ large or somehow -- in one area selectively -- finding the idea of line drawing so hard to understand.  Of course, the same canards come up, so a case involving polygamy (which very well can in some state include SSM) prosecution discretion raises questions about the recognition of SSM and in this area sex discrimination is necessary to avoid freefall.

Reasoned discourse is something many find lacking these days and this warrants certain analytical tools that sadly seem lacking.  RM last night railed against the lack of debate in election contests these days on various issues and on some level, fine.  But, she missed something that is basic to our two party system, another case where a historical perspective that suggests our problems weren't invented c. 2000 (I find Chris Hayes' book problematic on that front, at least, his discussions; I also couldn't honestly get into its prose -- if there is an "elites" issue, why is the last decade so unique? the book talk I went too surely didn't tell me).

Moderation is key, which means certain issues are basically agreed upon, including certain national defense matters. The Ron Pauls are outliers here (and even he is not a true libertarian on various issues) though his son was probably worth a reference too given her past dealings with him (one question: twenty minutes).  Was pacifism a big general election deal over the years too?   "Obamacare" is b.s. in part since it makes a moderate plan sound like the "left" option, which is truly not within the proverbial Overton Window during general presidential elections.  A full fledged editorial comment on the issue must cite this. RM did not.  Annoying.

Blog comments et. al. are not great places for it, but (I say "but" a lot) one of my hobbyhorses (unless that is too negative) is to try to tell more of the full story about things.  Some think if you give an inch, you really are giving a mile.  One person, e.g., refused to see abortion as a moral choice at all, it was merely about health care.  It's both and most women who have one probably would agree (see, e.g., The Abortion Myth).  Some topics should lead to stock replies since the same misleading stuff is repeated over and over again.  On many sides.  It is so very tiresome.

Life is complicated.  It is really more interesting that way. If it also is more tedious, so be it.  It's still life.  Resistance is not futile.  It is just b.s.

Ref lockout could end soon

One source says the difference between the NFL and the referees "is about $2," while another source described the talks as "the league wants double sausage and the referees want soy-free cheese."
I'm all for the vegan option.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bomb Girls

Watching this series portraying some Canadian women at a bomb factory during WWII. Comfortable hour with some decent drama and pretty faces, much repeated on the Reelz Channel if I miss it on schedule. Seems logical with the old movies I'm getting in.

Middle Eastern Visitor?

Someone from Syrian Arab Republic / Damascus can read about a Texas teacher having sex with her students: hit of the day.

Cause for Alarm!

[spoilers][in the public domain, it's available here]

The director of this Loretta Young thriller also handled The Postman Always Rings Twice, so it is not surprising that it was a well put together little thriller.  This was one of Young's final films (1951).  They both had long careers in various types of efforts as did the character actor who plays the postman here (he had the same role in the Blondie series of films).  The cast as a whole -- as is key to good films -- works well.

I have yet to see the other one (it's on the list), but from what I heard, both have plenty of atmosphere and a feeling of growing dread. Wikipedia labelled it "film noir," and though it doesn't quite seem to have that flavor, since Young's stressed out housewife does not "emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations." But, the movie does suggest the darkness that hides in innocent suburban (contrasted with the cute neighbor boy and two guys working on their car) and there is some underlining sexual tension, the doctor always having a thing for Young while her husband here clearly has issues that his later heart condition / not fully described mental deterioration only aggravated. His aunt referenced, even if she was miffed at the time, his bad side. 

This time it was a DVD copy with a colorized box, but the film itself is in B&W.  Young is a housewife who met her husband earlier during the war.  It comes out that the doctor, who she used to work for, that is now taking care of him -- he has a heart condition etc. -- was an old friend.  This adds to his delusions that the two are trying to kill him, so as he stresses out his wife by being more and more unbalanced, he writes a letter to the DA about their "plot," citing a few suspicious details.  He has his wife give the letter to the postman and then tries to kill her, dying from the exertion.  Our heroine Ellen (so stressed out, housework is no longer fun!) is really stressed now, plus must get that letter back!  The stress builds. 

Though feminists might not quite like the character -- we see a bit more of her figure (in a one piece bathing suit too) but she was much more liberated in Big Business Girl -- the film as a whole is a well designed stress packed seventy-five minutes.  Her narration helps us understand her growing stress and feeling that she is all alone.  We also get a good sense of the suburban setting with a well done light flashback that serves as good foreshadowing in various ways too.  A twist is a bit expected.

I liked it better than the last one. Put more old films on the list!

Seattle Still Won

Official line on the end of the game last night. Seems to me that the rules provided would mean Packers win. There is confusion on why replays are allowed in the end zone in that situation. Football rules make statutory interpretation look like child's play at times.

Tyranny of Perfection

"Nobody sees war. Editors back in London or Paris or New York don't let anyone see war because it's so horrible. How can you run a video clip of a mother dying, watching blood spurt out of her arteries? How can you do it? No one ever sees war except people who are there."

-- Chris Hedges
A recent hit to my blog, a common one (to the degree a hit here can be so labeled), went to a 2004 blog discussing "Epitaph on a Tyrant."  I should not forget the horrors of war, which -- though some think the idea absurd ("unless you [ha ha] are a pacifist ...")* -- makes me very sympathetic to pacifism.  The new President is less abhorrent on this front, but my criticism of critics should not be taken to mean I find him ideal. But, the referenced poem also speaks of a form of "perfection" being the path of tyranny.  And, opposition to unjust and unnecessary violence does not warrant the purity some use against violence.  Lack of perspective.

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand, 
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.
-- W. H. Auden
"Perfection" of any kind is a hard road for mere mortals.  Such is a reason behind the pardon power, which is interestingly discussed from a liberal Christian perspective (see also, other articles by that former prosecutor, a self-professed Christian).  The article supports a separation of church and state while still noting that Christians can see their own values in secular documents.  On that front, a Colorado state appeals court struck down state proclamations of days of prayer per its state constitution, reflecting my own sentiments.   A "day of prayer" is a selective endorsement.

I have noted, all the same, the saying that the perfect (to stick to a theme) can be the enemy of the good, so willingly accept as realistic federal courts that have avoided the question or made an exception. Still, I think Justice Blackmun was right:
Legislative prayer does not urge citizens to engage in religious practices, and, on that basis, could well be distinguishable from an exhortation from government to the people that they engage in religious conduct.
He also noted past cases where Thanksgiving Proclamations and such had a particularly sectarian flavor, something Obama has tried to avoid in this area, referencing non-believers of the traditional idea of God (I phrase it this way since "non-believers" full stop is a tad misleading) and so forth.  Still, a "day of prayer" is sectarian too, since it favors certain types of religious practice.  The actual proclamations have a similar character.

The core issues remain important - be it religious freedom issues or peace.  The original blog can be read in its entirety as well as the link to a book, an oral history of war reporting.  There is some good stuff there, particularly quotes of people other than me. 


* Pacifism in the past might have led you to be blocked from becoming a naturalized citizen.  I think Holmes, who was repeatedly wounded in the Civil War, had the better approach:
I would suggest that the Quakers have done their share to make the country what it is, that many citizens agree with the applicant's belief and that I had not supposed hitherto that we regretted our inability to expel them because they believed more than some of us do in the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount.
Holmes, who is seen as a judicial hero by some these days, left something to be desired in various ways, but he had his moments. 

Seattle ... Well, They Won

Football is getting to really be absurd. The ending of this game, after some questionable officiating affected it already, was (it is generally agreed except for those that mattered) an unsuccessful Hail Mary ... but officially it was not an interception. ESPN announcer sounded like his child died or something. That failed conversion hurt.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Old Gang Back Together

Last Word (host wrote for/produced the show) covered this last week.  Neat and I'm all for more info on judicial races. It's a joke.

The ABO Factor?

[Update: Take this guy.  Even though he's right on the issue, more or less (who knows the exact details about the demands), he comes off as a jerk. Not for the first time.  Along with PC, he drags down the blog (still miss Charli Carpenter), even though again he brings some expertise.  Because he comes off as so much of a jerk even one of his co-bloggers had to call him for it at times.  Scorn takes you just so far, really.]
My philosophy is that you have to strongly show what is wrong with the other side, while putting forth a reason to vote for your ticket. I honestly am more worried about Bush than supportive of Kerry, though Kerry has enough going for him that I can equally honestly say that I don't have to hold my nose either to switch the little lever for him in November.

It important to remember that people like to believe in something. I myself do not like to have to strongly dislike people. It is not good for you. Something good has to motivate me as well, or life is too depressing after awhile.
Someone linked to a 2004 (tempus fugit) blog I wrote, and since at times I see Romney as a sort of "Kerry," this seems relevant.  The election will be closer than it really should be, but it is striking how unlikeable Romney is.  Kerry was not very likeable and the election was decided by Ohio.

Still, the thing there was not that people simply disliked the guy.  It was more that he was so stiff and such.  I don't recall people simply disliking him as a person.  Likewise, Edwards might have been seen by some as an empty suit.  Ryan, however, is seen as an ideologue with whom some Republicans running for office rather not associate themselves.  Some voters do "like" Ryan.  I can't see them as a big segment of the general election.  We are talking about some rump of one party.  And, even there, from what I can see, a big part of his message is distaste.

This is the party of St. Reagan or even cheery Dubya?  It is quite hard to win an election, surely a mid-term one of this sort without a candidate with some likeability.  You cannot just rest on disliking people.  Even now, I find the vote oh so easy since the other side is to my mind ridiculous.  Still, that isn't the only reason I'm voting Obama. He actually brings something to the table and has some things I like, including an intelligence and yes pleasant enough disposition that even those who might not support his policies might appreciate.  His administration helped pushed things in the right direction in more than one area (gay rights, health care stand out) in significant ways.  Meanwhile, Romney comes off as an asshole.  Even beyond policies, I dislike the man.  I'm not alone.

As I note above, and the sentiment remains, I don't like disliking people.  It doesn't feel good and it is unpleasant though up to a point there is some rightful outrage there.  If I had to actually vote for such a person, especially when the other guy (if I was honest) was all that bad in various ways (Ted Olson, e.g., is pushing for the side opposing his marriage equality mission;  a party big on "tough guy" is now compelled to be voting against the guy who "killed OBL"), it would be pretty tough.  How many Republican voters quite honestly can say they will not have to hold their noses to vote for Romney?  It's pretty sad really.

But, I'm not overly optimistic here. Romney is likely to get somewhere in the mid-40s in total popular vote.  I would be rather surprised if he won though and (miscalling things in 2000 notwithstanding) I'm pretty confident there. Still with gerrymandering and other things, the Dems still will not have enough support in Congress as reasonable people should provide though polls suggest some gains in the House and keeping the Senate (though even holding about firm will continue the broken branch filibuster rules of governing)  is favored at this time.  A key election this time around is Massachusetts, but it's quite possible that Kerry will be the next Secretary of State and the loser (either one) will fill his spot!

ABB didn't win in '04 and ABO is a longshot this time around. 

Tina Fey and Other TV Musings

I like the more bookish, not the more glamorous version I see on commercials (don't watch her show).  The overly tanned and made up Jennifer Aniston also doesn't impress.  Meanwhile, I see secondhand Drop Dead Diva has gone off the deep-end and Army Wives is coming back.  Hopefully the reboot will be good for it; S6 ended badly.

Week 3: "Refs" Invade SNF

Houston beat Manning (I like his younger brother's new commercials) on his new team, again coming one stop short from a chance for a comeback. Crazy SNF game, down to a "bullshit" chant and B. barely making a winning 27yd field goal. Will Seahawks upset?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Deadhouse: Life In A Coroner's Office

A journalist's view in the fall of 1999. Crisp quick read through the eyes of various players. Only complaint -- what happened to the interns? You start with them, but don't mention them in the epilogue.

Week 3

NYG dominated, NYJ barely survived (and hurt too). Saints blew a 24-6 lead, losing 27-24. 46 pts scored in the the 4th in the Lions/Titans game. Lions got the onside with :18 left, scored but lost in OT. SF lost in an upset. Arizona ahead vs. Phils 17-0 mid-2Q.

From Blossom to Amy but Still Always Mayim

The the actress really sounds interesting. I'll take the vegan macaroni and cheese minus the Orthodox Judaism, but admire her effort.

Big Business Girl

I like Loretta Young, the old time movie actress, in various films, including Zoo in Budapest.

So, I decided to check out a few films of hers that are available at the local library. The first one is a 1931 "pre-Code" entry that also co-stars Ricardo Cortez as a heel and Joan Blondell as someone hired to stage your typical "adultery" (she gets the amusing final line). Frank Albertson plays the lovable goofball husband and his c.v. suggests he doesn't only play the rather weenie sort of role he played here. It is a wonder some flapper girl (they have been married a year, so maybe the 1920s term still works) with a cool nickname (Claire "Mac" McIntyre) hooked up with him.

The loser husband hurts the proceedings and the overall effort was something of a slog.  Still, there are some interesting things down to the little bit of static from time to time that reminds that we are watching something over eighty years old.  The guy at the library was surprised to see a videotape (now now -- they still have some at libraries), a change from when I went to another library and videotapes were the thing, no DVDs to be seen.  Not quite what TCM or some such channel now sometimes has -- silent films -- but we are talking a bit of history here.

The film starts with our couple at a college party, the hip husband a jazzy musician doing the gig.  There is a barrier where the couples steal a kiss out of the sight of the ancient chaperones and outside it is quite crowded with cars for make-out sessions when the two go for a break.  I reckon this sort of thing and the ending where the husband (totally uncomfortable -- even when he is told to change into pajamas, he actually only puts them over his clothes) is tricked to a hotel to stage an adultery (again, a standard thing back in the day when "adultery" was the best way to get a "fault" divorce -- the author of the Lonely Doll series actually got caught into an attempt to fake one of these things) was risque stuff in 1931.

But, even as compared to some other films of the day (cf. the laxness of clothes in Tarzan and His Mate, a pretty good film btw, and this one, where even a shot of a shower and Young (who btw has a flapper figure here) in some of the least risque underclothes you will ever see), this seems pretty mild stuff.  Joan Blondell is amusing in one of her earliest roles as the person hired at the end to stage the adultery (she is a pro).  The rest of the film has the husband go to Paris for a gig, so Mac tries her hand at big business in NYC, already being a college gal.  The playboy boss is attracted to her and hires her, so she pretends (though referencing a bf in Paris) to be unmarried.  The hubby comes home early (couldn't bear being away, even with the hope of a good job) and complications ensue.  Her going a business dinner the night he comes home does underline where her interests might lie!  Young plays something of a feminist here, down to making sure her boss knows the meaning of "no."*

Leonard Maltin, the movie review who has a classic movie book out, gave it two stars out of four, which works. A stronger husband character would have helped. Young basically carries the load here, down to (without telling him) getting him a position via her ad agency contacts.  As Maltin notes, she is cute as a button here, which she still was "good man, wrong party!" in Farmers Daughter in the 1940s.  So, the atmosphere, shots of 1930s Manhattan (I assume they are second unit shots), the music and the rest along with her and Blondell (and for fans, perhaps Cortez, who surely more interesting than Johnny)  won't mind much to spend seventy five or so minutes.

But, there are better 1930s films to watch, hopefully including the next one I have scheduled.  That plus a latter thriller will be reviewed later on.  One more interesting tidbit is Young taking a small plane home from a business trip in Detroit, which added to a (little touches like this does add to the film) race to the finish ending (she had to get back before the "adultery" was discovered, which also might ruin his new successful radio career).  The apparent comfort level of her being doing something that only a few would have done at the time underlines the movie star nature of her character for the viewers.

For those who want to see another account of a 1930s woman dealing with big business, Skyscraper, later re-issued by Feminist Press, might be of interest.  I enjoyed it. It also was made into a film.  I see the library has it!  Oh well. 


* Loretta Young later had success with her television show, which wound up on a religiously themed channel recently because many of the plots had Christian themes. She herself was a well known Catholic; Marlo Thomas (!) talks about her godmother here.  Like many a Catholic, she was far from perfect, but that only makes her more interesting really.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

U.S. names 55 Gitmo prisoners cleared to go

Various blogs I read or have read to my mind have sentiments that do not fairly provide Obama's position on "civil liberties" or more specifically (accurately) national security issues like detention and so forth. This doesn't mean I think the Administration is great on these issues, especially their push for immunity.  But, I still don't like some of the imho slanted (often with a sneer) arguments.  This includes some implication that makes Obama '08 come off as some civil libertarian.  I didn't see it.

There has been to my understanding a move to make public the names of various people detained has been a concern of various litigation for some time and regardless for whatever reason:
The U.S. Government has for the first time issued a public list of Guantanamo prisoners cleared for release or transfer, but who remain at the island prison because of difficulties finding a country willing to take them or because of concerns about sending them to their home countries.
The list shows that 55 (maybe more since some names were left out because of lack of judicial clearance) of 167 still in Gitmo are there because of that reason, Yemen a primary concern given there is no guarantee according to the Administration that people won't just go back to fighting given the state of the country at this time. Sixty eight have been sent back to their countries or some third nation, so the call for resettlement by the ACLU does not mean efforts have not been made.
“Congress has made it impossible for Obama to close Guantanamo,” says Larry Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan.  ”They made it very difficult for him to try people in civilian court.  That has really made it very tough for him to do the things that he would like to do.”

And, the "conflict" at issue here seems to be still ongoing -- that is, the one where force was authorized in 2001 by Congress, Ron Paul voting for it.  So, when people are concerned with "indefinite" detention, what does that necessarily mean?  People are detained in armed conflicts authorized by Congress.  The article references to roadblocks put forth by Congress as does another referenced in a tweet conversation where I also learned about the first article cited.  A lot of blame can be spread around here, Obama's far from great policies at times to the left of his own party in Congress.  The ACLU in that article is cited as putting blame on Congress but noting the buck eventually stops with Obama.  The buck is shared.

It is noted that as compared to 750 detained by Bush that a single person was detained by Obama.  No, his policy has been to kill them.  It is not like the Bush Administration was concerned with trial as such -- GITMO was set up to avoid that sort of thing.  The point of the detention was largely for interrogation. And, there was plenty of killing going on there too -- see Iraq, where Lancet estimated over 100K.* Criticism for Obama's drone policy (drones were around under Bush too)  is valid in some ways, but Iraq and Afghanistan (Obama had his own "surge" there -- no surprise, since he campaigned on it) shows the alternative ways of fighting against the people and groups involved leave something to be desired.
For instance, the operation that targeted Osama bin Laden probably involved "undue risk" to the troops involved, especially when compared with dropping a huge bomb on the house he was living in. The administration seems to be saying it needn't risk an on-the-ground operation when a drone strike will do the trick. (Of course, bombing bin Laden's house would have likely caused civilian casualties, including those of children. )
The problem here is not ultimately Obama in an important sense because the Constitution doesn't just put everything in his hands. Congress authorized military force in 2001 against Al Qaida related groups and if Congress wants, it can declare that conflict over and not authorize funding.  Congress blocked attempts to bring KSM to trial in civilian court; is Obama supposed to go all unilateral and go over its head?  Congress blocked attempts to move people from the middle of nowhere to domestic detention where lawyers and others have easier access and perhaps (being on domestic soil) a clearer case in court (GITMO falls under the Insular Cases type "due process semi-lite" regime).

But, obviously, especially given traditional moves to give executive broad discretion, at least unless you try to bring people into civilian courts or something, Obama has a big role to play here.  Drone attacks are ultimately his responsibility.  They are not "assassinations" unless they do not involve legitimate targets.  OBL, for instance, is someone who can be killed during an armed conflict.  Some civilian deaths could very well be allowable in the process and the way he was killed was particularly yes commendable on that front.  One person kept on harping to me that one of his wives was shot in the leg.  That is the best you got?

Targeting OBL was logical given his importance and similar actions would not be done, thus the use of drone attacks against others even in Pakistan.  The use of drone attacks in the Pakistan/Afghanistan area, a "hot war" zone I would think is hard to see as something illegal.  If we can send troops in, we can bomb people, including more precision bombing than the sort used during WWII.  I don't like it as policy and safeguards might be lacking (human rights officials focus on lack of proper oversight), but that is a lesser thing.  And, in other areas, like Yemen, it would be much harder to send in ground troops.

If we don't like using armed conflict against Al Qaeda, perhaps revoke the authorization.  I personally don't think as a whole the drone strategy was helpful though who knows as to specific cases.  It seems a sort of whack a mole strategy with possible blowback. And, increasing the fighting in Afghanistan (Maddow reported the troop levels have been cut back)  also doesn't appear to have been advisable.  Some involvement with other countries in the Libya civil war was at best questionable and should have required Congress involvement though they themselves play a large part in delegating their powers there, if they were violated. 

But, sadly, this is the mainstream position in D.C. these days.  Just targeting Obama or wondering "what happened to St. Obama who promised a rose garden"  is stupid, especially since he never was really saintly and never promised (all such promises should be taken with a grain of salt anyhow) a rose garden.  And, to the degree he did promise stuff, he did deliver some and Congress blocked him in key ways from doing more.  Again, the net result is some stuff I don't like, but I'm not going to join with the bludgeon approach some prefer either. 

Much props though for all those who stick their necks out and put the Administration and others to the test.  A long lonely fight.


* [Update]: The perspective of wrong, so to speak, is underlined by a comment made on an interesting Chris Hayes discussion on Sunday that reminded there is a war in Pakistan, against Pakistan. The evidence?  Well, four thousand people were killed since 2006 (note date).  This is serious business, but this is the heart of Al Qaida territory and such, and compare this to the death toll in Iraq.  No, I won't forget the difference.  Even Bush at one point, not in January 2009 at that, spoke about 30K dead. 

To blithely speak of Obama in Glenn Greenwald tones like nothing has changed is aggravating, especially since, let me repeat, I am not a big fan of this approach at all.  Big picture, we can see a united approach, but that sort of thing also misleads, disrespects the actual people harmed. 

Rev. Joe (Amish Hate Crime Conviction)

Good appeal. Meanwhile, the Amish beard incident might be a "hate crime," but it shouldn't be a federal prosecution.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Romney Is Such An Asshole

FINALLY release a year of tax returns and a "summary" of more. Rules that apply to other candidates don't apply to him. Apparently, it's "too hard." Drawing it out is stupid too. Whatcha hiding?

Only 1-0 (except First and Last Innings)

"Guys are upset, guys are embarrassed and we should be, because we have been very, very bad in the second half," David Wright said.
The 16-1 whipping (three hits) was only atypical as to scope. The lack of hitting, not winning at home and end result is sadly typical.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey

A good novel can be enjoyed by those it might not be originally geared for.  Walter Scott was a fan of Jane Austen, including writing an early review of the novel, and I doubt he was her intended audience.  A journal entry written about a decade after she died reflects his sentiment:
Also read again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen’s very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!
Yes, particularly since her family -- down to her mom and sister -- lived much longer lives.  The theme can apply to teen literature, which I at times appreciate, such as the Forever Changes novel recently referenced.  Hunger Games is after all ultimately a novel geared to teens, but not just liked by them.  Margaret Peterson Haddix also is top teen author whose works can be appreciated by authors, including The Always War (involving a usual theme of hers, sci fi) and the book I just read, Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey, labelled also ideal for "reluctant readers."  Such a label was also supplied to First Time, written by Bomb Girls contributor, Meg Tilly.  To cite another short work recently read.

The idea (see also, the link) is that a high school student is writing journal entries for English and the teacher allows people to mark the entries as private and that will count as a submission.  The point being that the student is still writing and all so just what is being written is not necessarily important.  This provides the student here the chance to write various private things about her life, the journal entries being chapters of the book, so to speak.  Early on, she forgets to mark the entry private and the teacher comments on her writing ability and gives words of support regarding the personal issue referenced.  This upsets the student, partially since she (with reason) does not trust people such as peer counselors and the like to be much help.  Also, general teen privacy concerns.

The teacher has to thread a fine line here. Just what are their responsibilities?  They are expected in some degree to respond to student needs, at times required to do so (such as when a clear case of abuse seems apparent), but their general role is after all to be an educator, not a social worker.  But, they still are an important figure in the lives of the student, someone who sees them daily and has some sort of personal relationship with them, at times seeing a side of them (including in their writing) that others might not.  The students' lives also of course affect their education, so cannot be totally avoided on that level.  Also, the school does have some role to play here, including a means to channel things in the students' lives in various ways -- such as sports, clubs or (as here) writing.  All the same, the teacher realizes his/her limitations and it often is best to not try to be "super-teacher," which might be counterproductive in the end even for the best of them.

Of course, teachers know this sort of thing and have to weigh all sort of things while doing their jobs. Such is the task of many professionals, particularly those particularly important to us.  But, the book is not about teachers, or the trouble parents (including the mother) at issue here, though as with Forever Changes or some Disney channel, adult readers like me might sympathize a bit more with adult characters than some, but Tish, a troubled 15/16 year-old. The book realistically [the acknowledgements alludes to real life people who told the author their stories] deals with her rising troubled situation in the voice of her journal entries, a lot of ground covered in only a bit over one hundred pages (about same length as First Time, which in part deals with themes more harshly applied in other Tilly works).

I think teens should like it too, but hey, what do I know?!  

Souter and Shades of Gray (Grey)

A couple days ago, I noted Constitution Day (9/17) was also Justice Souter's birthday and included some stuff he said -- private guy, but he has a few appearances people can access and help understand why so many (down to Justice Stevens, who cited him as the person on the Court that he trusted the most though he is like twenty years older than Souter) appreciate him.  Souter is the one you can trust to be rational. Such is not always a guarantee these days, simple rationality, not when people lash out at people's fathers for defending their daughter.

Souter noted that the Constitution (the same can be said about other things) has many components that are not meant to be read literally, in part because we have to balance various things (equality v. free speech, etc.) in the process.  I once noted that I was loathe to say that "freedom of speech" is this term of art, that (except for limited cases) it is in effect absolute, but honestly, in the real world, this is right. "Freedom" of speech  is something of a term of art though this leads people to make exceptions for obscenity or some such thing,  I am off the bus.  

So, the rub is to determine the principles -- to reference a new book by Prof. Amar that I might read -- "unwritten" ones often times -- to follow when applying the text.  Also, Souter argued (perhaps more accurate to say than "noting" something that one might dispute) applying the Constitution is a matter of doing so in one's own time period.  Plessy, e.g., looks better if we put it in the context of 1896.  We can simply, on some "law in an ether" (my metaphor) way, pretend that the ruling was simply wrong from the day it was written, that Brown pussyfooted there.

Or, perhaps, more realistically -- as he said -- consider that the rule set forth there was pretty good as compared to what that generation saw in their own lifetimes.  All things considered, it was pretty "equal" for the day. Reminds me of someone who kept on asking me (on Slate fray) when (perhaps 9 A.M. some Tuesday ala the creation of the world?)  I thought the death penalty became unconstitutional, like constitutional law worked that way. Or, someone today who asked "who" determined what constitutional law meant (I cited public reactions, political processes and judicial review), when it simply is one big messy thing that -- like life -- somehow moves along.  We can point to some concrete things regarding the process, but in some basic sense, it is pretty messy and indeterminate.

Souter is not free from doing things that you wouldn't expect from a practical guy from Weare.  He is very big on civics education, just like Justice O'Connor, and at times acts like we are so much worse these days.  Heh.  Really -- I listen at times to what my mom was taught and it is not like it was some ideal time period.  If anything, I think there might be some more effort these days in various places though maybe less in other places.  Civics is important, but like history and other good stuff, there was always some sizable group, too big probably, uneducated about it.

But, I like Souter and his overall view of things, even if I might be more liberal or libertarian than him on certain subjects.  Baby Joe was not that gung ho about him replacing Brennan, but heck, look who picked him!  Turned out to be a good pick as hopefully his own replacement, who I thought was a good one upfront, Sotomayor will be.  I didn't like various things about Bush41, after all, he thought now typical Republican scuminess was okay at election time, but I could live with the guy.  I really don't think the same with some of the people in his party these days.  Sheesh.  Romney almost makes Bush look good.

One more thing, a bit more personal philosophy. I think part of civics education should be learning how to argue and understand arguments.  This is something of a hobbyhorse of mine.  Let's take an argument that Stevens trumped Scalia in Heller, which itself (so the argument was) a case of gun rights activists convincing the USSC to change the law.* Reply: well, the public really thought there was a modified right to own guns anyways.  Rejoinder: yeah, but (dubious examples) the public is stupid.  The dubious examples are bad enough, but this changing the subject is really annoying.  It is like someone with a short attention span or something who can't focus on what the point is. 

Imagine going further and trying to address how such and such a person is wrong on a narrow point, while not trying to start a debate over the major point every time something comes up.  For instance, not try to debate the death penalty writ large every time some specific case is involved or try not to dismiss the other side as morons or something.  Yeah, I know, I'm not a saint in this regard, but I feel myself trying harder than some, and it is real annoying at some blogs, including those whose contributors I overall respect and/or agree with, with no restraint.

Life is complicated.  There is a lot of nuance.  You can be for a side -- Mets fan who will vote Obama here -- but at some point, isn't it not only more accurate but more enjoyable to consider the shades of gray?**  Fifty shades or less, whatever -- no, didn't read the book.  Hear it's stupid.


* Comments on blogs and in person also have a lot of baggage to them and it is a matter of picking your target.  Take this example, which is from a blog entry elsewhere.  I personally think Stevens did a shoddy job in Heller, but it might work best just to point out one thing -- let's say my opinion that the result is in effect a reflection of what the majority supports (shades of Casey / abortion in that respect)  and not just a "gun rights activist" reading.  An opinion that goes out of its way to set forth acceptable gun regulations seems to be not quite that anyhow. 

** Or, "grey."  Do at times feel like using that form. British of me.

House Races

This is good and if Romney hurts there (very well might), all the better. As in the past decade or so, level of control matters, so it is all very complicated, if at times less satisfying. This "united Democratic Party" is interesting though. What is this creature?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Legalize This! The case for decriminalizing drugs

This philosophical account limits itself to the injustice (some usual cost/benefit stuff, but then goes back to justice) of criminalizing drug use. That is, not the "right" to use or all nuances (e.g., denial of aid for use). A bit incomplete, but overall, lot packed in the space. {expanded post}

The book says the "best" case is that the state does not have an adequate just reason, on grounds of personal responsibility, to do the "worst" thing it can do -- lock someone up.  I think undersells thing a tad.  We can consider some mild punishment, such as a criminal fine or short prison sentence, that is arguably not as bad as other things put in a different category (not supported) such as denial of a job or educational benefit long term because of drug use.  This is "punitive" enough for me.

Anyway, the "justice" broadly refers to rights (from unjust detention) but not a right to use drugs per se, special cases such as religious use or euthanasia particularly not covered.*  Kent v. Dulles cited this principle: "outside areas of plainly harmful conduct, every American is left to shape his own life as he thinks best, do what he pleases, go where he pleases."  Particularly given how legal drugs and practices work out, the book shows how health, crime control and protection of children doesn't justify criminalization while the failed attempt causes its own problems, including in the areas it supposedly is there to address (e.g., health).  A lot wrong here.

The dissent in Bowers v. Hardwick compared certain sexual practices to "possession in the home of drugs, firearms, or stolen goods," but "victimless" or not, illicit drug possession is not dangerous enough to warrant the current legal regime. The book, however, might have undersold the "morals" argument, which it basically saw inconsistently applied (cf. alcohol use), applied in an overinclusive matter (only a limited number of drug users are the "real" problem here) or based on non-secular grounds (once a secular veneer is removed) that are illegitimate for our system of government.  The matter brings to mind this colloquy during the Lawrence v. Texas orals:
Mr. Rosenthal: Well, part of the... part of the rationale for the law is to discourage similar conduct, that is, to discourage people who may be in jail together or want to experiment from doing the same kind of thing and I think... and I think that the State can do that.

People can harm themselves and still be... and still have it be against the law.

But they can take drugs and do that.

Justice Souter: Well, do you point to a kind of harm here to an individual or to the individual's partner, which is comparable to the harm that results from the... the harm to the deterioration of the body and the mind from drug-taking?

I mean, I don't see the parallel between the two situations.
Ronald Dworkin in Freedom's Law also briefly references the matter in an endnote, discussing how the state encourages, including by criminal prosecution (apparently legitimately to some extent), the populace to "make something of their lives" and drug use involves "wasting" one's life to such an extent that it could be deterred.  This would also touch upon an area the book totally avoided -- euthansia -- suicide laws also guarding against total "deterioration of the body" to the extent of ending one's life.  But, the book still sees an arguably inadequate advancement of a virtuous life not "wrongful" to the degree that warrants imprisonment.

Again, I'm not sure if the book fully examined how this can be seen as harmful to society, especially if we put aside some right to autonomy, even if many might feel it unduly paternalistic. We generally expect individuals in society to provide some minimum things for the good of all and some basic ability to be a thinking and productive member would be one such thing.  Spoken vaguely like that, it might work, but even if we accept that (some won't), criminalizing (some) drug use is a piss poor way of advancement. 

Anyway, as I noted in the beginning, this book provides a lot of material in its under 200 page package.  The aim is a bit more narrow than some might like (the injustice of criminalization of drug use) but it covers most of the bases and does so with an honest hesitance to be sure of itself.  Good thing, therefore, that the burden of proof is to those with the keys to the jail.  The book is the work of a philosopher, but the regular reader should be able to enjoy it as a whole.  Only a tad academic in flavor.


* The book does respect freedom of choice over means of recreation and civil liberty concerns are weighed in the costs section ("justice" is the "best," not the "only" argument involved).

Still, rights is a major issue here, making the criminalization harder to justify.  If you are going to talk about recreation as a benefit of drugs, why stop there?  A footnote in Stanley v. Georgia notwithstanding, e.g., drug use (surely at the time -- the 1960s)  has First Amendment connotations -- consciousness, personal statement / protest, social lubricant and so forth.  It also is basically a private matter, a matter of personal privacy.

In fact, in a brief article, Justice Tom Clark in the early 1970s suggested the possession of certain types of drugs, such as marijuana, might fall under the protections of Griswold v. Connecticut.  Clark earlier noted choice of diet was a matter of personal privacy.  Why not certain drug choices? 

Seventh Heaven

I caught this last night. Best pre-twins (& pick that guest star!), but would have liked it better if they risked a bit more complication, like not having the dad so perfect. Guy schemes to teach even as his daughter is in surgery. Serious stuff covered here, but needed a bit more of an edge at times. Like make him wrong some time!

More SSM Stupidity

The DPC does not have the "same" meaning as the EPC though the latter affected the reach of the former. But, seriously, "Biblical definition" of marriage?! What like divorce laws? Of course, many Jews and Christians think SSM works there too. Putting aside the need for secular laws. Sadly, this is seen as serious argument.


Some could have saw Os win again in extras (two in ninth, two in eighteenth) but over here, Bomb Girls was decent & Matt Perry's show tedious.  Colbert had a wicked take down on Romney's latest gaffe fest. Skipped Obama on Dave, except for a Hanna Montana reference.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Some Optimism

See also. Consider our own historical journey.  Don't want some voices here to be seen as "the" voice of America either. 


The SSM debate over SCOTUSBlog has a sort of "summer rerun" quality, including the fictional arguments about what Baker ruled, what marriage was traditionally "about" and how such rules do "nothing" to affect the "personal liberty" of same sex couples.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Will Manning #2 Have A Comeback?

Falcons are not quite TB though. [Actually possible, but no.]

HB Souter!

Not only Constitution Day. [More.]

Forever Changes

Brendan Halpin has written books of various genres including adult novels like I Can See Clearly Now, which tells the story of the 1970s via a team at a Schoolhouse Rock-like show. Forever Changes is (YA) a touching story of a senior (19) with a fatal disease.

Detroit Snoozefest

Tedious Sunday Night game.  Detroit kept it close against an admittedly tough opponent until not being able (as we were promised is a norm) stop them late on third and long.  Finally scored a TD with ninety seconds left. Down by eight, the onside kick was a lost cause.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Dallas was whipped by Seattle and the Rams impressively came back against the boy wonder from WA, while the Jets lost the lead late in the 1H; never got it back. Miami embarrassed Oakland, but the Eagles held on late, so is 2-0. Two prime time games left.

Week 2

Saints and NE (given a gift turnover at end but missed a 42 yd FG) were upset & the NYG looked like they might, but a 25 point 4Q (and a near miss incomplete near the end) helped put a stop to it. Eagles have one pt lead at moment. Seattle up by 10 early against Dallas.

"You're Standing on My Neck"

Starting to watch the Daria DVD set (split into four parts in my library) with not too many extras.  Impressed by the writing and when even Quinn has her moments of insight.  DVD also allows me to see stray episodes I missed or rarely saw the first time around.

Rev. Joe: Happy New Year

A look ahead and moment of repentance is generally a good thing to have at some point, different groups having their own ways.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lonely Doll

A few days ago, I mentioned a biography of Dare Wright, who is best known from her children's books from the late 1950s until around 1980, particularly her "lonely doll" series. She was quite talented as a photographer, artistic talent (as well as less ideal psychological issues) natural being she was a daughter of a portrait painter. The bio is an impressive bit of research, involving a lot of interviews with people who knew Dare Wright, though the net effect is somewhat depressing. 

The psychological issues are suggested by a NYT article written a few years after the biography -- "The Unsettling Stories of Two Lonely Dolls." Also, the doll herself, Dare's own as a child, was named "Edith," which was her mother's name. The article notes how the books (she also wrote a few others with doll themes and some focusing on animals) have a strong affect on readers:
A common occurrence in her store, she said, is that a mother will show ''instant recognition'' upon spotting the book and want to buy it for her daughter. ''Then they'll start to read it, and you can just see their faces when they come to the spanking. Then it's like, 'Maybe I won't buy it for my daughter.' '' But, she said, those women may buy it for themselves. ''It's one of the books that has a strong, strong pull,'' she said.
The first book in the series suggests the concern.  We have Edith, who is all alone in a big house, quite lonely.  Where are her parents?   Eventually, she gains a family -- Mr. Bear and Little Bear* (boy bear; again, no mother figure) -- and is promised they would not go away.  When Mr. Bear is away, she and Little Bear play dress up, including with  makeup, though no female presence is apparent. They make and mess and (show of panties), she gets a spanking.  This upsets some people though in the 1950s, and even today, being spanked is not really atypical.  The spanking itself isn't the issue though -- looking through comments on Amazon, e.g., some see a certain strange dynamic going on of dominance and sexuality.
I don't know -- seems a bit of transference there -- but there does seem to be a powerful emotional undercurrent -- Edith is very worried that her being bad will mean she will be alone again though after she apologizes, all is forgiven. The link suggests she even liked the spanking a bit, perhaps since it showed someone cared for her enough to punish her for being bad (a reader again can suggest transference was involved here). This brings up real concerns of children that if they are bad, their parents won't love them any more or even that they will be alone.  Dare Wright's own parents divorced at an early age, her older brother being taken away; they only saw each other years later.  Children so also sometimes are quite lonely and a lonely doll can be relatable.

I found a Dare Wright book at the library -- a few are available, but only one for borrowing.  It is unfortunate (another library has her first book for borrowing -- might be able to get it eventually)  if the one book (a holiday special) is anything to judge.  It is a wonderful book, very cute with a charming message about homemade gifts.  The wonder really is that book, like all her books, are actually photographs of an actual doll and bears (she eventually found copies as stand-ins, but I think much of this involved just the originals) having various adventures.  Since this is in effect what many little girls do with their own dolls, along with the clear skill of the whole thing, one can start to understand the draw.

Really, I found the whole affair impressive and just too cute.  I just might try to find a copy for a Christmas present and do want to check out other books by the author.  Jean Nathan, the author of the bio, got the idea when she had a sudden image of the cover of the first book, which she had read as a child.  She eventually found the author, then in a long term care facility (her life after the final book was written was sad and it was really depressing to read about)  and in fact wrote her obit a few years later.  This started in the 1990s -- these days, it is not so hard to find her books, a few of them currently pretty cheap on Amazon.

One more thing.  The NYT article notes some like the books because Edith always has the same expression (she is after all a doll, literally) and unlike some more cartoonish children books, this brings a sense of realism and allows readers to transfer their own meanings to the doll.  Yes.  The thing is that when I was reading the book, it doesn't quite seem like she just had one expression. This underlines the skill of Dare Wright, who (using simple materials, not some expensive camera work or anything) also was known to make clothes and decorate her apartment in creative ways. She did not like to talk much about her "process" in interviews or in general, according to the biography, being shy.  It's a shame, since getting more insight about her thought processes would be interesting. 


* Dare obtained the bears when her brother bought one for her and the son of a friend.  She started photographing the three before the big one was given to the child, but afterwards felt incomplete without the whole "family" being together.  She was going to borrow the big bear, but her brother said that one does not borrow bears, so he bought her one instead.  Jean Nathan suggests in effect we have Dare as a child (Edith), her brother as a boy (who left her life at an early age) and a father figure (basically never around, even when her parents were married). 

Gal of Many Talents

I know her from Mama's Family etc.  Didn't know she sang.  Not bad.

Bomb Girls

Found The Dictator too [not funny], but the first episode of this Canadian show (being shown on the Reelz Channel) about a munitions plant in WWII Canada showed promise. Meg Tilly (also an author) returns to the screen to play the floor manager/mother figure. One review called it a bit too soapy, but hey, so what? That can be fun.

Friday, September 14, 2012


[My state assemblywoman] who is being probed for putting her relatives and two lovers on government and nonprofit payrolls, was beaten by double digits in a race that was close during early returns.
By someone with two "Js" in his last name. Might be a first. Maybe, she shouldn't have skipped the debate. The participants did a Clint Eastwood on her. Primaries have their values.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Janie Jones

This father/newly found daughter film with a seedy music milieu is a good indie with a great supporting cast and decent commentary track. There are some real powerful scenes. The ending is okay.

Primary Day (cont.)

Low stress primary elections also are a good way to deal with new voting districts (bit of confusion for me at polls) and use the still fairly new scanning machines. Worked okay; last time, the sheet was torn off wrong and there were problems. The obscure people I cited were hard even to find doing a Google search.

Primary Day

Rare occurrence -- more than a symbolic choice for my NYC district, this time for the state assembly with the incumbent having various investigations ongoing. Usual "what?" races -- state committee and assistant district leader. The vote begging stuff etc. I received did not endorse anyone though I found one that did later. Along with judicial picks, it is a joke to have us vote for such people blind.

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll

The rather sad story (a sort of Peter Pan figure with a dominating mother) of the author of the "Lonely Doll" series (which enthralled many a child, including the infamous spanking scenes) gets to be a bit repetitive, but still interesting. A major draw are tons of pics.

Obama's Big Hand In the World Stage

RM last night played a bit of a recent Obama interview with Telemundo and it was a tad presumptuous about our obligatory place in the world and apparent essential role in overturning the old Libyan regime. Like my opposition to his call for expanding the war in Afghanistan in '08, I am to his left there. Heaven help "pacifists." 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Go On

New Matthew Perry comedy/drama about a sportscaster going to a grief counseling group had some charm in the first two episodes though the first worked better. Will give it a chance. BTW, him giving away cats on a street corner -- not very funny.

Public Servants

I share the comments about Joe Biden here. Goofiness wasn't the real problem with Bush either.  Clinton's words on Libya also were powerful. OTOH, we have Romney. The attacks in Libya at least appear to be more complicated, but either way, the U.S. is not responsible for the acts of some obscure filmmaker.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dead Gitmo detainee was cleared for release in 2009

Sigh. On this, GG has some force, though the dissenters are more likely to be "Democrats." As I noted, change of location matters and there is no real way simply to dispose of every resident. They are not all like Latif. For instance, KSM ... just release him or what? But, sometimes, yeah, feels hollow. The defense is but of degree.

Buck Stops Where?

IOKIYAR, so the fact a Democratic President would be reamed for this sort of thing is of little note. Meanwhile, on whose watch was OBL killed? For the marginal voter, really, how hard is it? (# ... top 10)


I'm from NYC and was in midtown when it was happening. I saw the smoke. Seemed daily later on that I passed a funeral at the local church. Still, mid-afternoon, I took a subway home. "Everything" didn't change. Major change, sure, but like the death of a loved one, life went on too. I took this philosophy to heart then and do so now.

Election Thursday

The primary election here in NY will be delayed to Thursday in honor of 9/11. Personally, I don't think this sort of thing is necessary, and it is not like school and work is absent today. Wouldn't voting honor our values etc.? But, I understand the sentiment.

Week 1

Well, with the Mets dead and the Yanks struggling, football season began with a few upsets, especially the Redskins. Some final drives clinched favorites. And, both games yesterday were a bit lame, though the losers showed a bit of life at times. Jets had a prime opponent to show some life in all areas. Giants sputtered.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Swinging Texas?

MHP on Saturday talked about Dem advances in Texas, which seems a bit optimistic, but then an electoral map has Romney "favored" (+7; NM is +5 for Obama) there.  That is somewhat promising.

Changing Corporate Governance, Not Constitution

The details are debatable, but the basic idea behind the article cited here is both good policy and more realistic than (sorry People for the American Way) thinking amending the Constitution is the answer to Citizens United. There is clearly a lot to do. [See also, "Shag" here.]

Army Wives

The only thing worth mentioning is a cliffhanger. I thought this show was done. It stretched the season to its detriment and then some song played about thinking it's over, but it's not. Ugh. Re-watching season one of Necessary Roughness on DVD. Pretty good so far.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Rev. Joe (Ronald Dworkin)

Ronald Dworkin has an interesting looking upcoming book based on lectures concerning an expansive definition of "religion," which was covered in Freedom's Law as well.  Cass Sunstein informatively reviewed that book in the New Republic (5/13/96). Found the bio of Obama's mom (worthwhile concept) tedious and put it down.

The Spirit of Scalia

Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the Constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, are Constitutional.

-- McCulloch v. Maryland*
The contours of this "liberal construction" of the Necessary and Proper Clause was a matter of some debate during the PPACA dispute, among other things, but my focus here is the "spirit of the Constitution."

This is a rather open-ended term and some think it is abused, particularly some with a liberal bent.  For instance, I am skimming Ronald Dworkin's Freedom's Law (I have not tried to read his more deep philosophical musings; overall, some good stuff, but no need to go as far as he does in some cases) again ... he would be a poster boy.  BTW, one review said his "white whale" is Romney's boy Bork.  Yes, that Robert Bork, poster boy of originalism of the sneering variety.  Again, Romney ... no. 

But, a discussion on the originalism of affirmative action (again, go by my email name) led to another name -- Scalia.  A word on that discussion, see also Scotusblog's discussion of Fisher v. Texas.  The brief in question argues that Reconstruction Era federal policies shows that race conscious policies are allowed but the reply there is that state policies are different.  Eh.  The Supreme Court doesn't treat them different these days really, so if an argument is made (the case there is easy though; it's a small victory) that race can be used, it would be an important victory for that side.  So, the criticism there for that (any other reasons; e.g., supposition that the Framers would not trust black friendly state legislatures with certain policies also is just that, supposition) doesn't do much for me.

Finally, the Fourteenth Amendment DOES apply to the federal government too -- the Citizenship Clause established that all persons, not just whites, are citizens of this country and a specific state pursuant to certain guidelines. In the Federalist, Madison noted that slaves are denied an equal role in respect to representation but that once slavery is done, this was no longer the case.  It was understood by many that the Thirteenth Amendment in some fashion (how much was unclear, thus the felt need of the 14A to clarify the legitimacy of certain federal policies) changed the status of former slaves, including badges and incidents of slavery that lingered on as applied to free blacks of the era.**
Underlying all of those decisions is the principle that the constitution of the United States, in its present form, forbids, so far as civil and political rights are concerned, discrimination by the general government, or by the states, against any citizen because of his race. All citizens are equal before the law. The guaranties of life, liberty, and property are for all persons, within the jurisdiction of the United States, or of any state, without discrimination against any because of their race.
Bolling v. Sharpe applied the principles of Brown v. Bd. to the federal government, even without an express "federal equal protection clause," in part citing this 1896 precedent.  Thus, it is wrong, as some claim, that it was in effect merely a "living constitution" approach that had no deep origins.  The Supreme Court, unanimously, signed on to an opinion just around the time of Plessy that in effect that substantive due process as applied to the federal government included an equal protection component.  I think the above is the start of an "originalist" argument on why -- the end of slavery, the Citizenship Clause and the "spirit" behind such things put blacks on a more equal footing, and this "liberty" was now the "law of the land" for Fifth Amendment purposes.

I would not merely rely on such things -- I'm not an originalist -- and think it clear that part of the point is that changing understandings of what "liberty" entailed and so forth factors in. Still, since the Constitution does not expressly say the federal government should treat people equally the same way the Fourteenth Amendment does, where do originalists like Scalia and Thomas get the idea that various affirmative action programs set in place by Congress are unconstitutional?  The USSC ruling cited that evenly applies the principles (changing past understanding, which gave more, not unlimited, discretion to the federal government) did not rest on originalism. But, Scalia and Thomas concurred, citing "the Constitution's focus upon the individual" and "the principle of inherent equality that underlies and infuses our Constitution."  

When the question is abortion or euthanasia, Scalia -- contra to the majority -- argues strongly that "the Constitution says nothing about the matter," which rulings like Griswold and Casey just as strongly shows is wrong.  Dworkin criticizes such a limited view of the Constitution, but misses the larger point.  If originalism is going to rest on such broad principles, which hey, I'm willing to take seriously (up to a point), why again is abortion not covered by it?  The fact that the Constitution specifically does things like stop titles of nobility or the somewhat obscure Art. I, sec. 10 (a free lollypop to those who know what's in there ... when I get some)  provisions is one thing.  Saying such things are "an acknowledgment" to some larger principle is quite another.  See also, how the "spirit" or something, of the Constitution stops Congress from requiring state officials to carry out enumerated powers or even (I'm off the bus here)  blocks suits against states to protect such powers (e.g., a trademark dispute with a state university, not with someone from another state as the express words of the 11A covers).

Of course, back to the PPACA, we have the selective principle that Congress cannot require people to do things pursuant to its enumerated powers. I can understand why Justice Kennedy supports such open-ended spirits (Dworkin in the book noted at the time how much Kennedy was different in this respect than Bork, citing as an example AK's respect of gay rights, and boy did it come to pass), but not my man Scalia with his new book on the importance of "text" and all!  Apparently, what the Constitution "says" is akin to the person who recently told me "Democrats" reject the RKBA, even when their platform supports the 2A because it says we should enforce current laws, strengthen laws regarding gun shows and re-authorize assault weapon bans (a trivial matter, to be honest, given the narrow reach, so really, it's more gimmick if perhaps of some small value). The Republican platform supports Heller (which allows regulations), only opposes "frivolous" lawsuits and promotes safe use of guns, but the Democratic platform is a sort of code -- the use of the term "reasonable regulation," contra support of millions of Democratic gun owners and the fact Obama only signed legislation expanding gun rights shows they really are "saying" the opposite.***

Bottom line, a consistent application of the principles behind the originalists (so labeled) who oppose federal based affirmative action would have a broad reach.  It is notable that the actual concurrences cited above are rather thin gruel.  Admittedly, if you go too deep here, you do run into problems, as the brief sort of shows.  It's like a originalist support of Brown v. Bd (McConnell) that historical analysis shows to be faulty.  The case can be interesting to read, but a full fledged and consistent approach is not something consistently shown by our Republican heroes here (Scalia and Thomas) while the people they are more wary about (O'Connor and now Kennedy) were always faint hearted originalists

But, so are many more. 


* The single footnote (not present in the Lexis version, nor is the case to my knowledge) references a case.  A discussion I found suggests how his arguments, ex cathredra they might have been, are open to argument:
Chief Justice Marshall referenced a Connecticut case, Montague v. Richardson, to explain his interpretation of the Tenth Amendment as being similar to a judge's construction of a particular state statute: "A pension is a bounty for past services rendered to the public. It is mainly designed to assist the pensioner in providing for his daily wants. Statutes protecting his interest in it, until so used, are of a remedial nature and entitled to a liberal construction."
The case might say more, but "a liberal construction" is pretty vague.

**  I covered this ground in the past, but simply put, see, e.g., the works of Alexander Tsesis.

 *** But an example, but see the thread in the Volokh Conspiracy post on how Democrats are going backward on "civil liberties," which actually is about national security issues (as the biased author there rephrased in comments), and "abandoning" here means "not forward enough" in certain areas.  I think I covered this already, though.