July 4, 2015

"In a sudden reversal amid a stinging backlash, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and GOP legislative leaders said they agreed Saturday to completely remove a part of the proposed state budget that would severely roll back open records laws."

"Walker announced the decision in a joint statement Saturday with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and the co-chairs of the joint budget committee. They said that they're committed to open and accountable government."
"After substantive discussion over the last day, we have agreed that the provisions relating to any changes in the state's open records law will be removed from the budget in its entirety," the statement said. "... The intended policy goal of these changes was to provide a reasonable solution to protect constituents' privacy and to encourage a deliberative process between elected officials and their staff in developing policy. It was never intended to inhibit transparent government in any way."...

Walker didn't specifically say... whether he and his office were involved in crafting the proposed changes, whether he objected to them in advance, or specifically say who proposed the overhaul. The joint statement didn't address those points either....
Well, let's use the open records law to find out.

"The political theory announced in the Declaration of Independence can be summed up... First come rights, and then comes government."

Lawprof Randy Barnett says adding 4 bullet points:
• The rights of individuals do not originate with any government, but pre-exist its formation.

• The protection of these rights is both the purpose and first duty of government.

• Even after government is formed, these rights provide a standard by which its performance is measured and, in extreme cases, its systemic failure to protect rights—or its systematic violation of rights—can justify its alteration or abolition.

• At least some of these rights are so fundamental that they are “inalienable,” meaning they are so intimately connected to one’s nature as a human being that they cannot be transferred to another even if one consents to do so.

"This idea that you must travel, as some sort of moral imperative, without worrying about something as trivial as 'money.'"

"... It’s aspirational porn, which serves the dual purpose of tantalizing the viewer with a life they cannot have, while making them feel like some sort of failure for not being able to have it."

Writes Chelsea Fagan in "Why 'Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel' Is The Worst Advice Of All Time," which I found via Metafilter, where somebody says:
Have never heard this advice given in my life. How could it be? Travel is something that costs money.
And somebody else says:
You're more lucky than I am, then. It feels like every time I've turned around in the past four or five years I hear someone exhorting other young adults to just drop everything and go backpacking in Europe/wander around Brazil/take a temporary job in France/go see Australia/whatever. Or, of course, study abroad. Lack of money is no object! Plane tickets aren't that expensive, and you can stay in youth hostels cheap! The important thing is to get out there and learn to survive on your own and experience a real, authentic foreign country!

Lots of great comments over there. I liked:

"My fellow commenters: I thought the whole point of a vacation was to do the things YOU want to do."

"That's exactly what this author did. And what's in so many comments but: 'You drove too fast.' 'You should have stopped more.' 'You obviously didn't see anything.' 'You're inexperienced at driving? How girly.' 'Your trip was too quick and too short.' "If all you wanted to do was drive 700 miles, you could have done it on a boring route.' Sigh. As it so happens, I too am that rare bird known as an inexperienced adult driver (don't even have my license yet, but hope to soon). If that makes me sound girly, my apologies. I am a feminist, but I failed to learn to drive prior to now for pretty much the same reasons as the author (minus the living-in-NYC-metro-area thing). I can relate so well to this story of someone initially approaching a challenging drive with trepidation, then relaxing and gaining confidence along the way, feeling more empowered and enthusiastic as she went, and her initial anxiety transforming into an eager determination to drive the whole trip herself and feel the pride of accomplishment in doing so...."

Says the top-rated comment at NYT article titled "A Rookie’s Road Trip Through Montana, Wyoming and Idaho/A car-averse traveler finds freedom in the driver’s seat, covering 700 miles and three states over three days."

Another comment: "A lot of people are attacking the author for treating the West as an alien spaceland, but I know how she feels. Growing up in the rural West, I felt like a space alien myself when I visited New York City and Washington DC. I didn't know how to deal with the panhandlers and hucksters, the taxis and subways, or the immense symbols of money and power...."

What part of the United States do you view as an alien spaceland?

"The Ladder of Divine Ascent."

It's a 12th century painting, located in Egypt, that depicts monks on the rungs of a ladder going to Heaven.

I went searching for that on my iPhone as I was looking at "Tradition and Innovation: The Human Figure in Contemporary Chinese Art" (at the Chazen Museum here in Madison), which included "Ladder to the Sky," by Yu Hong:

You've got to picture that about 20 feet tall. It's quite something. A fascinating contrast to the 12th century painting. No Jesus, no Heaven, no real reason to be trying to get to the top. No like-mindedness in the humans engaged in the climb. No devils causing the falls.

I highly recommend the exhibit by the way. Today is the second to the last day, so fix your sights on that destination and don't let any devils pull you ofF the path. 

"The first time artist Stanley 'Mouse' Miller and drawing partner Alton Kelley were hired to do a concert poster for the Grateful Dead, they spelled the name wrong."

"They’d never heard of the band, so when they got a second chance, they tried just a little bit harder, creating a bleached skeleton wearing a crown of red roses to reference the name Grateful (not 'Greatful') Dead. 'Kind of life and death together,' says Mouse, who had always liked to draw skeletons. 'I colored it in and did the lettering, and it changed art history.'... It was January 1966, the year before the Summer of Love, and the whole scene unspooled before him as he transitioned from drawing hot rods to drawing posters for the rock dances.... Kelley was an idea man, and Mouse did the drawing and lettering. Their first poster was a knockoff of the reefer-toking Zig-Zag man for a double bill of Big Brother & the Holding Company, and Quicksilver Messenger Service... The Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver, Big Brother, Steve Miller, Captain Beefheart, out-of-town acts like Jimi Hendrix. Everybody went to the shows and dances in Edwardian outfits from thrift shops. 'Every day was like a month, with so much stuff happening,' Mouse says. 'The scene was just crazy. Wild.'... Then it collapsed under the weight of all that importance.... 'This wonderful, colorful scene just kind of died,' says Mouse, who left when Eric Clapton summoned him to put some flames on his Rolls-Royce in London. Clapton had totaled the Rolls by the time Mouse got there..."

From "Book, retrospective give Grateful Dead artist Mouse his due."

The book is: "California Dreams: The Art of Stanley Mouse."

Iceland abolishes the crime of blasphemy.

The reform was proposed by the Pirate Party:
The bill said it was "essential in a free society that the public can express themselves without fear of punishment".

As three members of the Pirate Party stood before parliament on Thursday, each said: "Je Suis Charlie", an expression used globally to express solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo victims.
The Church of Iceland supported the reform, but it was opposed by the Pentecostal Church, the Church of Iceland's eastern province, and the Catholic Church of Iceland, which said:
"Should freedom of expression go so far as to mean that the identity of a person of faith can be freely insulted, then personal freedom - as individuals or groups - is undermined."
Get that? Somebody should go to prison so that somebody else should not suffer the loss of freedom that consists of have one's "identity" insulted. That's the thinking there. The Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association offered the assurance that hate speech is still a crime. It's only blasphemy that's been legalized.

I was interested to see the list of the religions of Iceland. 80% are Lutheran, 5% are other Christian denominations, and 5% are Asatru.

Asatru? Here's an article from last February: "Iceland's Asatru pagans reach new height with first temple."

5 things wrong with the NY Post headline "Weenies burn flag to protest cops, get attacked by bikers, need cops to save their asses."

Here's the article. Here are the 5 things:

1. The protesters didn't call the cops. The cops were already on the scene because the flag burning was a planned and promoted event. The cops observed the scene, witnessed violence, and following their own standards and judgment, ended it. The headline suggests that the anti-cop protesters cried out for help in their time of need.

2. Speaking out against bad police behavior does not entail an obligation to forgo police protection. The position that police aren't doing their jobs properly doesn't nail you down to the position that there should be no police protection at all. There's no big contradiction between criticizing the police and benefiting from police protection when you're a victim of crime.

3. Someone who exercises freedom of speech in a way that inflames the anger of a crowd is not a "weenie." It may be unwise or rude or stupid, but it's not what weenies do.  "The Weenie State is characterized by an obsession with rules and protocols, reinforced by fear.... Fear of stepping outside the lines. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of looking stupid."

4. The New York Post (in its successful clickbait) adopts the viewpoint of thugs. From the article: "'They took off like little b—hes,' said one biker. 'They lit the f–king flag and took off running once they got slapped once or twice.'" The bikers wanted a physically violent fight, and the protesters chose not to stand their ground but to run, which most people — if they're not distracted by their own anger about flag-burning — probably think is the most rational move. The message to future protesters shouldn't be: Stand up and fight or we'll call you weenies.

5. Since the police were right there to defuse the situation, we don't know whether the flag-burners really did "need cops to save their asses." In the age-old struggle to save your own ass, the 2 big options are fight or flight. When the flight instinct kicks in, it's probably for the best, probably because you're going to lose that fight. Of course, those who wanted to fight will mock and revile you for "taking off like little bitches," but they'd have laughed at the way you'd have gone down if you'd stood and fought. That would, I suspect, have amused them even more.

"Open Records Law in Peril in Wisconsin."

Video from the conservative MacIver Institute featuring and agreeing with liberal state senator Jon Erpenbach, who's railing against the change to the open-records law and whom the The MacIver Institute once sued under the open-records law:

I got to that video via my colleague Bonnie Shucha at WisBlawg, who writes:
Late last night, Wisconsin’s Joint Committee on Finance passed a motion (motion #999) to the Wisconsin state budget that would exempt “deliberative materials” like legislative drafting records and legislative briefings from Wisconsin’s open records laws....

Drafting records are used frequently by lawyers, journalists, analysts, and by the public to gain insight into the process by which legislation is created, influenced, and passed. Restricting access to this information would fundamentally limit the ability to conduct legislative research in Wisconsin.
What an embarrassing law change! The vote in the committee was completely on party lines, so Republicans are marking themselves with this.

Speaking of tags — see previous post — this gets my "stupid party" tag (which is not reserved for one party or the other — it goes to any party that is stepping up to distinguish itself as The Stupid Party).

UPDATE: Republicans back down from this folly.

Have I tagged your mind?

2 signs — in the email this morning — that Althouse readers, when away from this blog, are thinking about Althouse blog tags.

1. "Dear Professor,  You occasionally use a tag for punctuation.  I saw this article in The Daily Mail and thought of you.  Regards."

2. "Italian Men in Shorts. In case you didn't see this."

My response:

1. These guys "invented" the question-mark-with-a-comma and the exclamation-mark-with-a-comma, patented it, then found it didn't catch on. How was it supposed to catch on? You patented it.

2. Seems to me, if you're able to wear a blazer, it's not so hot that you can justify shorts. And to prove the point that there's no "Italian" exception to the men-in-shorts standards, look at the 2 men leaning against the car in the background. Heinous.

July 3, 2015

At the Pig Trough...


... get your slurps.

Bernie Sanders was appalled by "the mass of hot dazed humanity heading uptown" for another day of "moron work, monotonous work."

"'The years come and go,' Mr. Sanders wrote, in all apparent seriousness. 'Suicide, nervous breakdown, cancer, sexual deadness, heart attack, alcoholism, senility at 50. Slow death, fast death. DEATH.'"

From a NYT article — linked today at Drudge — titled "Bernie Sanders’s Revolutionary Roots Were Nurtured in ’60s Vermont." I love the photo. I'm sure I would have had a crush on him back then. It was very typical for younger people of that time to regard ordinary middle-class people going to work as shuffling, horrifying zombies.

"Control of space means control of the world.... From space, the masters of infinity would have the power to control the earth’s weather..."

"... to cause drought and flood, to change the tides and raise the levels of the sea, to divert the Gulf Stream and change temperate climates to frigid."

Said Lyndon Johnson, quoted in Robert A. Caro, "Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson III," p. 1026. This was in 1958, when LBJ was stirring up alarm about the Russians and Sputnik. Caro says:

171 years ago today: 2 men killed the last 2 great auks.

From Wikipedia:
The last colony of great auks lived on Geirfuglasker (the "Great Auk Rock") off Iceland. This islet was a volcanic rock surrounded by cliffs which made it inaccessible to humans, but in 1830 the islet submerged after a volcanic eruption, and the birds moved to the nearby island of Eldey, which was accessible from a single side. When the colony was initially discovered in 1835, nearly fifty birds were present. Museums, desiring the skins of the auk for preservation and display, quickly began collecting birds from the colony. The last pair, found incubating an egg, was killed there on 3 July 1844, on request from a merchant who wanted specimens, with Jón Brandsson and Sigurður Ísleifsson strangling the adults and Ketill Ketilsson smashing the egg with his boot.

Great auk specialist John Wolley interviewed the two men who killed the last birds, and Ísleifsson described the act as follows:
The rocks were covered with blackbirds [referring to Guillemots] and there were the Geirfugles ... They walked slowly. Jón Brandsson crept up with his arms open. The bird that Jón got went into a corner but [mine] was going to the edge of the cliff. [I] caught it close to the edge – a precipice many fathoms deep. The black birds were flying off. I took him by the neck and he flapped his wings. He made no cry. I strangled him.

Eisenhower "rubs the steak with oil and garlic and then, as the horrified guests look on, casually flings the steak into the midst of the red and glowing coals."

From a NYT article that recommends: "For a Better Steak, Cook Directly on Charcoal."

I see that Instapundit has: "CAVEAT: THESE ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO SAY YOU SHOULD PUT PEAS IN YOUR GUACAMOLE. For a Better Steak, Cook Directly on Charcoal. On the other hand, if it was good enough for Ike...."

I'd just like to say:

1. The NYT cooking section has figured out how to get action in social media.

2. Both the peas-in-the-guacamole and the steak-on-the-charcoal ideas trigger our instinctive aversion to putting things where they don't belong.

3. People want to cry out NO! and immediately tweet/blog/yell NO! without pausing to make the recipe. I once judged a recipe contest by just reading the recipes and imagining the results, so I'm not saying that's wrong. It's really just another way to put points ##1 and 2. But you can actually test the recipe.

4. Last night, Ike-like, Meade flung the steak directly onto the glowing charcoal. It came out just great! 

5. No peas in the guacamole yet. I generally prefer fewer ingredients. But if you have extra fresh peas and that tub of guacamole you picked up at Whole Foods has started to feel like an obligation, why not? I've seen guacamole thrown into burritos at Chipotle. It's kind of stick-em, isn't it? And don't your peas need something to keep them from rolling around? When we were kids, we mixed them into the mashed potatoes. That kept them in place.

6. Sexual reference in point #2 intended.

I guess Obama didn't expect Scott Walker to come out and meet him at the airport.

Obama comes to Wisconsin and gives Scott Walker a prime photo op.

As Walker says in the title to his book: unintimidated.

Obama's speech seemed peevish in the context of the Governor's midwestern-friendly greeting.

ADDED: Here's the transcript. You can decide for yourself whether Obama expresses a peevish attitude toward the man who greeted him at the airport. He never mentions Walker by name.
We’ve got some healthy competition in the Democratic Party, but I’ve lost count of how many Republicans are running for this job. (Laughter.) They’ll have enough for an actual “Hunger Games.” (Laughter and applause.) That is an interesting bunch. (Laughter.)...
My understanding of "Hunger Games" is that the participants fight until only one is left alive. So that's a laugh line.
And I want to emphasize -- I know some of them well. They’re good people. It’s just their ideas are bad. (Laughter and applause.) And I want to emphasize that. We’re one country, we’re all on one team, and so we’re all one American family. But we all go -- we're at Thanksgiving and Uncle Harry starts saying something and -- (laughter) -- you say, “Uncle Harry, that makes no sense at all.” You still love him. (Laughter.) He’s still a member of your family. Right? But you’ve got to correct him. You don’t want to put him in charge of stuff. (Laughter and applause.) That’s all I'm saying. (Applause.)

And by the way, if there’s an Uncle Harry out here -- (laughter) -- I wasn’t talking about you. (Laughter.) I was just using “Harry” as an example....

"It was not supposed to end this way for Scott Brown..."

"... emailing strangers pictures of his pecs and waxing poetic about diet supplements."

"Though hardly anyone appears to have noticed, the court sided with federal criminal defendants in a whopping 6 of 7 cases this term."

"As the United States moves toward consensus on matters of marriage, it is also coming together on the dangers of overcriminalization," writes Neal Katyal.
In Elonis v. United States, the court rejected a conviction for threats allegedly made on Facebook in the form of rap lyrics...  In Yates v. United States, the court curbed a massive prosecutorial overreach, ruling that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was not violated when a fisherman tossed undersized grouper overboard in an effort to skirt federal commercial fishing regulations. In Henderson v. United States, a unanimous court reversed a lower court ruling that had barred a man who could no longer possess firearms after pleading guilty to a felony from transferring his weapons to a friend.... In another unanimous case, McFadden v. the United States, the court held that defendants could not be prosecuted for dealing “controlled substance analogues” — drugs regulated as equivalent to Schedule I or II drugs — unless it could show that the person had a very high level of criminal intent and knew those drugs were illegal....

In a decision with large ramifications, the court sharply limited the use of dog sniffs at traffic stops, finding that they violated the Fourth Amendment. This decision followed the court’s unanimous Riley v. California decision last year, which barred police from searching smartphones when they arrest someone without a warrant....

So deep was the shadow cast by the social issue cases this year that virtually no one paid attention to Johnson v. United States, in which the court struck down a much-debated part of the Armed Career Criminal Act. The court concluded that a provision of the law that increased sentences for violent offenders was too vague because it didn’t let people know which crimes were covered....
 The 7th case, the one the government won, was the one you're most likely to have noticed, Glossip v. Gross, upholding the 3-drug lethal injection against a cruel-and-unusual-punishment claim.

Lindsey loves Joe...

... so very much.

July 2, 2015

At the Red Leaf Café...


... you can say what you like.

(And please use my Amazon portal if you need to do any on-line shopping. I keep forgetting to remind you to do that, and I appreciate it when you remember! Need some actual ideas? Here: fluff flip flops.)

Bubble Wrap without the pop.

"... iBubble Wrap is laid out in columns of connected air pockets, so when pressure is applied to one 'bubble' the air gets pushed into neighboring bubbles."

iBubble Wrap?


"Hayuk’s claim says Starbucks 'brazenly created artwork that is substantially similar' to her own..."

"... and the 'Frappuccino Campaign is essentially identical to the Starbucks campaign 72andSunny proposed to Hayuk.'"
The language here is important, and it shows why artists often have a hard time proving copyright infringement.... Proving substantial similarity is a thorny issue. It isn’t enough for her work and Starbucks’ campaign to look alike....

Do you hope Hayuk wins?
pollcode.com free polls

"I noticed that graffiti painted within the red area was 'buffed' with red paint. However, graffiti outside of the red area would be removed via pressure washing."

"This prompted the start of an experiment. Unlike other works, I was very uncertain as to what results it would yield. Below is what transpired over the course of a year."

"Nicholas Winton, a Briton who said nothing for a half-century about his role in organizing the escape of 669 mostly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia..."

"... on the eve of World War II, a righteous deed like those of Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, died on Wednesday in Maidenhead, England. He was 106...."
It was only after Mr. Winton’s wife found a scrapbook in the attic of their home in 1988 — a dusty record of names, pictures and documents detailing a story of redemption from the Holocaust — that he spoke of his all-but-forgotten work in the deliverance of children who, like the parents who gave them up to save their lives, were destined for Nazi concentration camps and extermination....

“You can’t throw those papers away,” she responded. “They are children’s lives.”

“I did not think for one moment that they would be of interest to anyone so long after it happened,” Mr. Winton recalled later. But he reluctantly agreed to let her explore the matter....

"The 22-year-old was part of a team that was setting up the stationary robot when it grabbed and crushed him against a metal plate."

"[I]nitial conclusions indicate that human error was to blame, rather than a problem with the robot, which can be programmed to perform various tasks in the assembly process. He said it normally operates within a confined area at the plant, grabbing auto parts and manipulating them."

"When I come here to California I am not in the West, I am west of the West."

"When I speak to you who dwell beside the Pacific, I, who have come from beside the Atlantic, am speaking to my own people, with the same thoughts and the same ideals."

Said Teddy Roosevelt, quoted by the L.A. Times in an effort to make a contrast to something Justice Scalia wrote in the same-sex marriage case:
[T]he Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers 18 who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans 19 ), or even a Protestant of any denomination.
Seems to me that TR and Scalia were saying the same thing about California. But the L.A. Times says TR "understood the synergy of geography and nationhood better than his fellow Harvard man, Scalia." Teddy was saying there's "the West" and something beyond it, further to the west, but not The West.

The Times tries to put some definition into the idea of the West: "home to people from all over the world who have the gumption to pull up stakes from placid and settled places and start fresh, to invent and reinvent themselves and this country."

Google's Photos app kept tagging black people as "gorillas."

"On June 28th, computer programmer Jacky Alciné found that the feature kept tagging pictures of him and his girlfriend as 'gorillas.' He tweeted at Google asking what kind of sample images the company had used that would allow such a terrible mistake to happen."

Google didn't explain. It apologized... and removed "gorilla" as an option for the machine to misapply.

Meanwhile, at Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg enthuses about how amazingly helpful the computers of the future are going to be:
People will... be wearing augmented-reality glasses to assist them on an everyday basis....

... Zuckerberg expects technology to evolve to a point that we can share whole thoughts and full “sensory and emotional” experiences, telepathically....

Zuckerberg was... curious about whether there is a fundamental mathematical law underlying human social relationships that governs the balance of who and what we care about. “I bet there is,” he said....

For vision, [computers] may be able to recognize everything in an image or video, from people to objects and scenes. They’ll be able to understand the “content of the images and videos,” he said....
Amazingly helpful, but helpful to whom? To the people whose needs are getting anticipated and shaped... not necessarily yours. That the automatic tagging didn't work for black people is horrible — or did you laugh? — but just a little warning, a signpost on the path to the future.

"I am a person of faith — and the Donald’s entry into this race can only be attributed to the fact that the good Lord is a Democrat with a sense of humor."

Burbled Begala.

"There is no doubt that in exchanging a self-centered for a selfless life we gain enormously in self-esteem."

"The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless."

"And in the naked light I saw/Ten thousand people, maybe more..."

Nah, I didn't see them, but they were there. 10,000 people — maybe more — filled the Coliseum, here in Madison, Wisconsin, to see Bernie Sanders. I know you wanted me to go. I asked "Should I go?" and you were all...
Oh, yes, by all means. Take photos and/or video, and share your report with us....

I say go--just for the spectacle of it. You'd be witnessing the Democratic Left in its distilled form. Plus, if by some long shot Sanders takes the nomination, you'll have seen it in its ground floor....
But it was a night rally, on a day where I got up at 3:30 AM. And it wasn't at some outdoor place — like Ron Paul on the Union Terrace in 2012, where you can walk up casually and wander about taking pictures of the people. This was indoors, at a big arena, where you have to drive up, pass through a gate — probably have to stop and pay for parking — find a parking space, observe how many fellow citizens heeded the advice to arrive early to be able to get a good seat, worry about finding a seat at all as you scurry along from your distant place in the parking lot, pass through security, scramble to find a seat, any 2 seats together, and be stuck in one spot in that crowd, from which you won't get too many different photos and you must endure all the speechifying, all the emotion of the others from which you are alienated, wait for it all to end so you can finally have the release of exiting the arena as a component of the slow-moving human mass, wend your way back to your distantly parked car, where you can finally be an individual again and have your conversation about whatever it was like to be bowing and praying to the neon God that is Bernie Sanders and when are we ever going to get out of this parking lot and back home?

So we were back home all along. I was reading, and I'm reading now. I'm reading that Bernie Sanders proclaimed: "Tonight we have made a little bit of history... Tonight we have more people at any meeting for a candidate of president of the United States than any other candidate." The "we" didn't include me. I didn't get to make a little bit of history with Bernie.

As The Guardian put it (yeah, I'm getting my Madison news from the UK):
[His] message resonated in Madison, the state’s reliably liberal capital and home to the University of Wisconsin. It stood as a sharp contrast to Wisconsin’s own conservative White House hopeful Walker, who is preparing to enter the crowded field of GOP candidates. The governor is expected to make his announcement on or shortly after 13 July.

Sanders immediately went after Republicans and Walker... Walker, whom the crowd loudly booed whenever Sanders mentioned his name....
I'm quite sure I'm not the nighttime rally type.

ADDED: From the local Madison newspaper, quotes, like this one from a social work student: "I really like that he values the human life over money. I’m really excited to hear his ideas and see him, finally, in person. It’ll just be so real." She arrived and got in line 4-and-a-half hours early so she could get a good seat and "be focus on him and not the whole crowd."

July 1, 2015

At the Zinnia Café...


... we're just getting started.

"If you listen to something on audio, every flaw in a writer’s work, the repetitions of words and the clumsy phrases, they all stand out."

"As a writer, I say to myself, how will that sound?," says Stephen King, who's obsessed with audiobooks.

"Here's how libertarianism has led me and my partner into polyamory, and why America will have to grapple with this issue next."

An article at The Federalist:
“This is it!” I thought. I’d finally found what seemed like a desirable alternative to the wedded misery I saw all around me. Brad—although skeptical about my motives—was thrilled at the prospect of opening up our relationship. After much philosophical and emotional discussion, we decided to give polyamory a chance. Wanting a fresh start, we decided to move away from our old jobs and friends in Raleigh to Asheville, a progressive, “poly”-friendly town in the Appalachians....

Since we’ve discovered polyamory, we don’t care about new houses or new cars or vacations. What really makes us tick is the idea of falling in love, over and over and over again. Now, we have the best of both worlds....
I'm not agreeing with this. Just thought you might want to read it and talk about it. The description of married sex that begins the article is the dumbest self-confessed behavior by a woman I've read since yesterday when people were linking to that Pajamas Media writer who got locked in a bedroom.

Anyway, the Federalist writer isn't even married to her Brad — whose privacy she blithely invades — so I don't know what this has to do with the recent same-sex marriage issue or why America should have to grapple with it. It's your life, lady. There's no legal issue, no role of government that needs to be figured out. We don't need to "grapple" with what makes you "tick."

Libertarians! I thought they're supposed to want to be left alone. Leave me alone.

Post-hysterectomy, a woman is prescribed testosterone, and she describes "What it’s like to live like a man."

This is by Ann Mallen, a "writer of literary fiction and nonfiction":
[The doctor] warned me of “odd symptoms,” but she didn’t mention this constant sexual distraction. Or the irrational anger. The day before, I dropped a fork in the kitchen and kicked it. It clattered into the base of the cabinet, but that wasn’t enough. I picked it up and threw it into the sink with a force intended to harm. When the mailman carelessly slammed a box onto the front steps, I resisted the urge to slap him silly....

Living for a few weeks with extra testosterone gave me a new understanding of men.... Could I have achieved this compassion any other way? Empathy is complex...
I know: A woman becomes more like a man and gets empathy and finds it complex? That's after the prescription is corrected.

She ends with some cogitation on transgenderism:
[T]he standards of care for people transitioning hormonally to the opposite sex are stringent and include significant counseling and monitoring by a medical doctor. Some people transition though, and some, like me, spend time with the wrong prescription. We then process the world through a different lens of emotion and analysis. Yet, the lens is the transient thing.

It is possible to live as either male or female. Which means, of course, underneath the high-pitched whine of our sex hormones, underneath the lens, we are neither.
Of course? It's amazing the insights people bring home from their drug journeys. (If that last part were true, what is the problem to be solved with hormones?)

"After much soul-searching, I am filing a civil-rights lawsuit on Wednesday against Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm."

"I fear his retaliation, given what I know of his methods, but the Chisholm campaign against me that began at dawn on Sept. 14, 2011, requires a legal response to discourage the prosecutor’s continued abuse of his office," writes Cindy Archer in The Wall Street Journal (where you can get past the pay-wall by Googling text for your own link). Read the whole thing to see what happened to Archer.
I was targeted because of my politics — in plain violation of the First Amendment and federal civil-rights statutes.
She doesn't mention whether she's suing in federal or state court, but she's citing federal law as the basis for her claims.

I've read Archer's story before, but the presentation of the facts in this new piece highlights some aspects of the invasion of privacy that I had not noticed. The arrival of government agents at her house "was so unexpected and frightening that I ran down from my bedroom without clothes on." I don't know if that means completely naked. The agents "yelled" at her to get dressed. Let into the house, they "barged into the bathroom where my partner was showering," so a second woman was exposed naked. And, in the search: "My deceased mother’s belongings were strewn across the floor."

These are very sympathetic facts. 

Today's Freddy Martin tune.

In case yesterday's "Somebody Goofed" (1954) was not enough, here's "Managua, Nicaragua" (1947)(scroll forward to 1:12 if you want to begin at the vocals):

The lyrics are, by present-day standards, politically incorrect — "Managua, Nicaragua is a heavenly place/You ask a señorita for a 'leetle' embrace/She answers you, 'Caramba! scram-ba bambarito'/In Managua, Nicaragua, that's 'No'" — but at least "no" means "no."

Here's the Wikipedia article on Freddy Martin (born 1906, died 1983). Excerpt:
Freddy Martin was nicknamed "Mr. Silvertone"... He has... been idolized by many... saxophonists.... Although his playing has been admired by so many jazz musicians, Freddy Martin never tried to be a jazz musician. Martin always led a sweet styled band. Unlike most sweet bands that just played dull music, Martin's band turned out to be one of the most musical and most melodic of all the typical hotel-room sweet bands. According to George T. Simon, Freddy's band was "one of the most pleasant, most relaxed dance bands that ever flowed across the band scene."

"So, how about polyandry?"

Hagar asks in the comments to "Jonathan Rauch doubles down on the supply-of-women argument for why polygamy is not like same-sex marriage." Briefly, the supply-of-women argument says that government may exclude polygamists from the fundamental freedom to marry because if some men marry more than one woman, there will be fewer women available to pair up with unmarried men thereby cure them of their dangerous destructiveness.

Hagar is suggesting that polyandry could solve the problem. Everyone's picturing polygyny, which Jonathan Rauch called "almost invariably the real-world pattern." Rauch also points to a map, showing the prevalence of polygamy in countries that where women are not equal. But, as I say in the earlier post, this is America, and the question is what will happen going forward. The supply-of-women argument asks us to worry about what will happen going forward.

So Hagar's question is apt. Why must we deny women the right to choose to be one of multiple wives in a polygynous marriage if the same interest — marrying up the unmarried men — could be served by empowering, encouraging, and even subsidizing — rampant polyandry? That ought to vacuum up the excess men that are screwing up the world (according to the supply-of-women argument!).

"Notably absent from this top five... are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (6%, down from 14% in May) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (6%, down slightly from 10%)."

"Both had been top five candidates in each of the last two CNN/ORC polls, and Walker had been in the top five since February."
Trump's competitiveness among those older and more conservative Republicans also helps explain Walker's and Rubio's declines. In April, 16% of Republicans age 50 or older backed Rubio, 14% Walker. Now, Rubio has just 6% among this group and Walker has 7%. Trump grew from 2% in May to 14% now."
Wow. Trump is really helping Jeb!

That's an exclamation point at the the end of a sentence I'm exclaiming, not me doing the Jeb! logo.

Anyway, Jeb is at 19% in the new poll, up from 13% in May. So, the high-name-recognition Trump is drawing attention away from the newcomerish Walker and Rubio, right when they need to get traction. It's all working out as if Jeb! and Trump! planned it all in a backroom.

Jonathan Rauch doubles down on the supply-of-women argument for why polygamy is not like same-sex marriage.

Here's my earlier post, "I've got a problem with the supply-of-women argument for distinguishing polygamy from same-sex marriage," poking Rauch (and Richard Posner) for relying on the social interest in preserving more women for men. They seem to think women are "some kind of natural resource to be conserved for the benefit of males." Like there needs to be a bag limit.

Rauch now has another article, going on at greater length and still failing to take account of the problem:
[W]hen a high-status man takes two wives (and one man taking many wives, or polygyny, is almost invariably the real-world pattern), a lower-status man gets no wife. If the high-status man takes three wives, two lower-status men get no wives. And so on.

This competitive, zero-sum dynamic sets off a competition among high-status men to hoard marriage opportunities, which leaves lower-status men out in the cold. Those men, denied access to life's most stabilizing and civilizing institution, are unfairly disadvantaged and often turn to behaviors like crime and violence.
In this view, women are society's tools, to be used to tame men. If some men are successful in winning too many women — if, after getting one woman, they can continue to take additional women out of the pool of potential wives — then there are fewer women left over to do the dirty work of civilizing the less desirable men, men who, undomesticated, run wild and do destructive things.

Rauch does pause to look at it from the female perspective:

"With his welcoming demeanor and deep, hearty laugh—imagine Santa Claus bellowing 'ho, ho, ho'—Clarence Thomas has carried out dozens of acts of kindness on the court..."

"...the kind never reported by the mainstream media," writes Ted Cruz in an excerpt from his new book, "A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America." Cruz tells the story of how one of his co-clerks — when he was clerking for Chief Justice Rehnquist — had "befriended and tutored a young African-American boy named Carlos."
The boy had never left Arkansas before, but Rick and his wife paid to fly him up to D.C. Rick emailed all nine chambers at the court, saying that this young boy would be in town, and asking if any of the justices would be willing to meet with him. Two offices responded—those of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas. Ginsburg is an incredibly talented lawyer and jurist, and it was very kind of her to meet with Carlos, but her prim demeanor is that of a legal librarian, and so it was difficult for her and the young boy from Arkansas to connect. Clarence Thomas understood the world that Carlos had come from.

At the end of their two-hour conversation, Carlos observed that Thomas was a Dallas Cowboys fan. (Thomas had a framed picture of himself with quarterback Troy Aikman in his office.) The kid was very impressed—that was way cooler than the Supreme Court—and Thomas noticed. So Thomas rose from his chair, walked to his desk, and showed the boy a Super Bowl ticket, encased in Lucite, and signed by Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith. He handed the ticket to the young man.

“I’m going to give you this,” Thomas said. “But I want you to promise me that you will get A’s in school next year.”

The young man, astonished and wide-eyed, nodded in agreement.
We're also told that Thomas is "beloved by the court’s janitors, guards and support staff members, with whom he connects on a real, personal level."

June 30, 2015

"I created the ISIS dildo flag at London Pride to start a dialogue, not get a laugh."

"I flew the flag in London’s gay pride parade because ISIS is deserving of mockery and disrespect. I never thought CNN would think it was real."

"He was kind of an interesting mutt."

It's Ted Cruz, always twirling, twirling for freedom.

ADDED: This is nicely humanizing, like Bill Clinton playing the sax on Arsenio or Nixon doing "Sock it to me" on "Laugh-In."

"Somebody Goofed."

Am I the only person on the face of the earth who remembers this song?
pollcode.com free polls

"No. 2 beats No. 1, and you can hear the 'U-S-A! U-S-A!' chants from here."

"Gutsy and surprisingly dominant performance from the United States. Surprisingly wimpy one from Germany, which scored 10 goals in its first game of the tournament but goes home after scoring none tonight."

Keep your religion institutionalized!

"Certainly the first amendment says that in institutions of faith that there is absolute power to, you know, to observe deeply held religious beliefs. I don’t think it extends far beyond that. We’ve seen the set of arguments play out in issues such as access to contraception. Should it be the individual pharmacist whose religious beliefs guides whether a prescription is filled, or in this context, they’re talking about expanding this far beyond our churches and synagogues to businesses and individuals across this country. I think there are clear limits that have been set in other contexts and we ought to abide by those in this new context across America."

Said Tammy Baldwin, the U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, responding to a question about the consequences of the same-sex marriage case.

"Isn’t it enough to be denied the 'constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage'?"

"A constellation my coupled queer sisters and brethren now can hold dearly if they just make it official? Once again, being single is the dreary, awful, mournful alternative to marriage. A condition to be pitied, and quickly corrected by a sprint to City Hall." Writes Michael Cobb, English prof and author of “Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled.”
In granting same-sex couples “equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” Justice Kennedy throws everyone under the “just married” limo....

I am usually a relatively happy single person who wrote a book advocating for the dignity of single people... But even I hear coupledom’s call: I sometimes crave a long-term relationship with that great guy; I watch Ang Lee’s take on “Sense and Sensibility” monthly; I’ve been in a number of relationships that broke my heart — all of which feels very undignified. But none of those longings, hauntings and hurts should pave the way for my constitutional dignity....

What Justice Kennedy, and everyone else too, needs to remember is that simply being yourself — your single self — is already the fundamental form of dignity. Founding your dignity on something as flimsy and volatile as a sexual connection insures dignity’s precariousness as it enshrines your inherent unworthiness as a single individual.
I agree. There is dignity in living solo. Justice Kennedy went too far in extolling marriage as the highest pinnacle of human life. But... even when you are single, part of your dignity lies in knowing that you could marry if you found someone to love, who loved you, and the 2 of you wanted to participate in the government-approved form of dignifying a 2-person relationship. Cobb seems to be a gay man, and even if he doesn't find the "great guy" he "sometimes crave[s]" for a "long-term relationship," he's put in a better place even now by knowing that if he did, they could marry.

I remember years ago, maybe a quarter century ago, a former student of mine, a gay man, told me that he hadn't made up his mind about same-sex marriage. Was it something he should support? That was back when many gay people (like many feminists) — I'm remembering this subjectively — wanted to challenge the traditional structures. Perhaps marriage was the patriarchy, the straight white males oppressing us. The idea I ventured, and he seemed to agree with was: If there's some club that excludes women, I don't like that, even if it's a club I don't want to join.

Another way to put that is: Seeing a "whites only" water fountain hurts a black person who is not currently thirsty.

Anniston, Alabama... Coldwater Mountain...

The Pope has "specifically requested" coca leaves.

And he will chew them if he thinks it's "right."


... launches.

"What in the world can Chelsea Clinton tell people? I guess what it's like to grow up as a child of the top .1%..."

"... how to get hired at McKinsey consultants with no experience, how to land a network job at $700,000 a year with no experience, how to marry a hedge fund guy. $65,000 for this drivel? The fascination of regressive leftists with celebrity is mind boggling."

The top-rated comment at a WaPo article titled "A college balks at Hillary Clinton’s fee, so books Chelsea for $65,000 instead."
University of Missouri at Kansas City was looking for a celebrity speaker to headline its gala luncheon marking the opening of a women’s hall of fame....

Chelsea Clinton, who at the time was just shy of her 34th birthday, commanded a higher fee than other prominent women speakers the university considered booking when Hillary Clinton proved too expensive, including feminist icon Gloria Steinem ($30,000) and journalists Cokie Roberts ($40,000), Tina Brown ($50,000) and Lesley Stahl ($50,000), the records show.
Hillary's fee was $275,000, but those other women's fees were lower than Chelsea's. Why would a college — a college that's price-sensitive — pay more for Chelsea, especially for a women’s hall of fame? It kind of highlights what bullshit a women's hall of fame is. Anyway, the college was happy because Chelsea created "buzz" and people came to the "gala." I'd like to know what Gloria Steinem thinks of this. Steinem is a self-created woman —whatever you think of that creation — and she was less than half the price of Chelsea.

"So to uphold direct democracy as a constitutionally permissible tool for regulating elections, the court had to conclude that, when the Constitution uses the term 'legislature'..."

"... it does not (in its original formulation) permit the popular election of senators but does permit popular regulation of the election process. There is no easy answer, and that conundrum is what produced a legitimate 5-to-4 divide," writes lawprof Richard Pildes in a NYT op-ed about the opinion in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
[T]o uphold direct democracy as a constitutionally permissible tool for regulating elections, the court had to conclude that, when the Constitution uses the term “legislature,” it does not (in its original formulation) permit the popular election of senators but does permit popular regulation of the election process. There is no easy answer, and that conundrum is what produced a legitimate 5-to-4 divide....

The main, and best, justification for direct democracy is precisely the need for this kind of check... on the self-interested temptations of power when legislators regulate the political process itself.... Direct democracy is hardly a panacea or a pure expression of “the popular will,” whatever that means; voters must be organized and informed, which takes resources and organizational skill. Still, direct democracy remains an important means of policing the inevitable temptations those in power have to entrench themselves more securely in power.
I haven't read the opinion yet, but I've long thought that direct democracy is unconstitutional, for reasons the Court disposes of in footnote 3:
The people’s sovereign right to incorporate themselves into a State’s lawmaking apparatus, by reserving for themselves the power to adopt laws and to veto measures passed by elected representatives, is one this Court has ranked a nonjusticiable political matter. Pacific States Telephone & Telegraph Co. v. Oregon, 223 U. S. 118 (1912) (rejecting challenge to referendum mounted under Article IV, §4’s undertaking by the United States to “guarantee to every State in th[e] Union a Repub­lican Form of Government”). But see New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 185 (1992) (“[P]erhaps not all claims under the Guarantee Clause present nonjusticiable political questions.”).
I'll get back to you when I see how close anybody on the Supreme Court got to what I think is the answer. I hope this Pildes appetizer will tide you over.

"The new big trend for men? Merman hair."

"Yep, men are hopping on the colourful hair bandwagon, following in our mermaid and sand art inspired hair footsteps by dyeing their hair magical shades of turquoise, lilac, and sea blue."
Obviously, calling it mermaid hair isn’t quite manly enough, so now, Instagram is all about the #merman hashtag, with dudes all over the world sharing photos of their majestically coloured ‘dos.
Via Metafilter, which has in this paragraph I'm copying a lot of links that I'm not copying:
In fashion news, apparently, Merman colour is the next big thing in men’s hair. This styling and particular coloring replaces "man buns" as the in-thing for the man-about-town. Radiant blues and purples predominate, with the occasional green, and the occasional very green. The effect also used on beards and mustaches for that rainbow-hipster identity. Headwear co-ordination is a possibility, and age is not a barrier; neither is being a merman when in a serious boardroom meeting. Yellow is also a choice, and many bright colors at once are possible. For MeFites wanting to make a statement, some do's and dont's. And finally, a personal favorite: you can be very old and still cool.
I lived through the Manic Panic days of the 1990s, and what I remember most was how hard it was to do blue. When you try for blue, the hair wants to force you to green. 

This is one of the don'ts, by the way:

What exactly makes that a don't, in the context of a phenomenon that also has dos? You're not answering the question correctly if you say: Don't dye your hair blue. There's something specific, supposedly, about the way this man went about it. I'd say it's the shirt and the other orangeness with which he surrounds himself, but that's not the answer.

When Sandra Day O'Connor watched porn on the internet, she "lowered her head, squinted slightly, and muttered, 'Oh, my.'"

From "Why Ted Cruz watched pornography with Supreme Court justices," a WaPo article cherry-picking the new Ted Cruz book called "A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America."

Ted Cruz was a law clerk and there was a case about porn, that's the answer to the "why" question in the WaPo headline. It's not hard to understand why.

There are 7 more nuggets from the book. Bo Derek "bowled barefoot, with two hands, in a white pantsuit." Cruz's father "wanted to slip into the mountains and join Fidel Castro's army, but he was told there was no way to get to the rebels,"  his half-sister Miriam, "died of an accidental drug overdose," and his wife, Heidi, went through "a period of depression."

"One girl was a valedictorian. She told me: 'I had no friends until I started traveling. No one understood me...'"

"'I was always bored with everything everybody else wanted to do. I didn't want to go shopping. I wanted to go out into the woods and hike, and nobody understood that.' She thinks she'll go to college eventually and become a teacher."

From a piece titled "Always moving: A transient way of life," which includes a great set of photo portraits. The "traveling" referred to in the quote is the sort I would associate with the old-fashioned word "hobo."

Here's the link to the photographer's website. His name is Michael Joseph.

ADDED: Jack Kerouac, "On the Road: The Original Scroll":
We lay on our backs looking at the ceiling and wondering what God had wrought when he made life so sad and disinclined. We made vague plans to meet in Frisco. My moments in Denver were coming to an end. I could feel it when I walked her home in the holy Denver night and on the way back stretched out on the grass of an old church with a bunch of hoboes and their talk made me want to get back on that road. Every now and then one would get up and hit a passerby for a dime. They talked of harvests moving North. It was warm and soft. I wanted to go and get Ruth again and tell her a lot more things, and really make love to her this time, and calm her fears about men. Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk---real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious. I heard the Denver & Rio Grande locomotive howling off to the mountains. I wanted to pursue my star further.

"He had maps, he had a certain amount of tools, he had bug repellent, he had wipes, he had Pop-Tarts."

New York Governor Cuomo said about the captured prison escapee David  Sweat.

"Could Barack Obama's great week mark a turning point in his poll numbers?"

"After months of stagnant approval ratings, a new CNN/ORC poll finds that for the first time in more than two years, 50% of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling the presidency. And his overall ratings are bolstered by increasingly positive reviews of his treatment of race relations and the economy."

ADDED: After posting that, the very next thing I saw was email from "Barack Obama" (the email address is democraticparty@democrats.org) that read:
Ann --

A few weeks ago, one of the Republicans running to follow me in this office referred to me as "the outgoing president."

Now, it is technically true that I'll be leaving this office in about 18 months. And our opponents are counting on the values and ideals that have been at the foundation of my presidency following me out the door.

But they're forgetting one important thing: These have always been your values, too.

The other side is betting that your passion -- your desire to make change -- is coming to an end. And right now, you have a chance to prove them wrong.

Pitch in $10 or whatever you can and be one of the last 23 people we need to step up in your community before tonight's deadline....
One of the last 23 people we need to step up in your community? That's weird. Too weird. Who responds to that kind of creepy particularity? The President of the United States is counting heads, in my community? If I were paranoid, I'd be freaked out that the number is 23. I've favored that number since the 1970s.

What has to happen for a plaintiff to get $18 million in damages for sexual harassment?

"Hanna Bouveng, 25, claimed that New York Global Group owner Benjamin Wey, 43, used his influence to force her into four sexual encounters before firing her after he found her in bed with her boyfriend."
"He puts her on the bed and he has sex with her and it's over in two minutes," attorney David Ratner told jurors.... "She was debased. She was degraded. She was defiled. He was delighted... He thought he owned her."...

A few months after firing her, Wey walked into a café in Stockholm where Bouveng was working. "The message was: 'Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I am going to find you and I am going to get you," Ratner said. "She used to be sociable. ... Now she is afraid to tell people her last name." 
And he blogged:
"Did he write bad articles after that? Were they nasty? Yeah, they were nasty," Wey's lawyer Glenn Colton said, calling the behavior a mistake.

June 29, 2015

Smell red roses, not white roses.

From a list of dos and don'ts for the improvement of the brain, from 1596.

"The Secret Jewish History of The Grateful Dead."

Seth Rogovoy explains in Foward. It's not just that Mickey Hart was Jewish. It's:
The manner in which the basic tracks on their studio albums turned into their legendary group improvisations are relatively analogous to the role that the Written Torah and the Oral Torah have played in the evolution and perpetuation of Jewish law and wisdom.

The Grateful Dead’s policy since the very beginning of allowing fans to tape their concerts, even setting aside taping areas and permitting bootleggers to plug right into their sound console, merely served to encourage the dissemination of The Dead’s “oral tradition,” as if they were religious disquisitions by Hasidic rebbes....

The kind of “noodle dancing” one typically witnesses at a Grateful Dead concert has often been likened to the active shuckling seen in enthusiastic Jewish prayer....
ADDED: "If you don't know the word shuckle, you probably still know what it is!"

"We are a court. Why should we not leave the matter up to the people acting democratically through legislatures?"

Justice Breyer sounds the leave-it-to-the-legislature theme today (in the death penalty case, Glossip v. Gross).
The Constitution foresees a country that will make most important decisions democratically. Most nations that have abandoned the death penalty have done so through legislation, not judicial decision. And legislators, unlike judges, are free to take account of matters such as monetary costs, which I do not claim are relevant here....

The answer is that the matters I have discussed, such as lack of reliability, the arbitrary application of a serious and irreversible punishment, individual suffering caused by long delays, and lack of penological purpose are quintessentially judicial matters. They concern the infliction—indeed the unfair, cruel, and unusual infliction—of a serious punishment upon an individual. I recognize that in 1972 this Court, in a sense, turned to Congress and the state legislatures in its search for standards that would increase the fairness and reliability of imposing a death penalty. The legislatures responded. But, in the last four decades, considerable evidence has accumulated that those responses have not worked.
Breyer (joined by Justice Ginsburg) concludes that it's "highly likely that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment." And: "At the very least, the Court should call for full briefing on the basic question."

Justice Scalia, in one of the concurring opinions (joined by Justice Thomas), calls Breyer's opinion "gobbledy-gook":

Big news in UW basketball.

1. Bo Ryan is retiring after next year.

2. Sam Dekker mows his lawn!

Aaron Rodgers prepares.

Training with Olivia Munn.

"Hey Joe... Where you gonna run to now/Where you gonna go?/I'm goin' way down south/Way down to Mexico..."

"I'm goin' way down South/Way down where I can be free/Ain't no one gonna find me/Ain't no hangman gonna/He ain't gonna put a rope around me...."

An old tune springs to mind this morning as I'm seeing that prison escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat had a plan to get to Mexico. "The plan was to head to Mexico, which would have been aided by Joyce Mitchell's vehicle... They would get the car and then drive to Mexico.... When Mitchell doesn’t show up, the Mexico plan gets foiled and they head north to Canada."

Tired of all the pro-marriage propaganda?

Here's some anti-marriage propaganda — about knowing I'm not shackled/By forgotten words and bonds/And the ink stains that are dried upon some line...

In the words of Justice Scalia: "Ask the nearest hippie!"

"Investigators say they believe that colored powder sprayed over a crowd at [a water park] event ignited, setting off a fireball that burned 499 people."

"... The event organizers said on their Facebook page that they used a mixture of cornstarch and food coloring to make the powder. They prepared as much as three tons of it, which may have been ignited by a cigarette, lighting, sound equipment or another electrical device, the Central News Agency of Taiwan quoted the deputy mayor of New Taipei, Hou Yu-ih, as saying."

One woman has died and 200 are still in intensive care.

ADDED: More here (with photos):
The one-day event, with a capacity of 4,000 people, was billed as the biggest “color party” in Asia and was meant to run from 1 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Saturday.... On Sunday, Color Play Asia’s Facebook page was filled with comments expressing outrage that the event could have so quickly turned into an inferno.

Should I go?

"Madison Rally with Bernie Sanders on 7/1 at 7pm."

The Supreme Court saves the lethal injection and Justice Breyer dissents demanding the complete abolition of the death penalty.

After last week, perhaps (some) conservatives will feel better knowing it's still possible to execute criminals in the United States.

The case is Glossip v. Gross (PDF). The Alito majority rejects the challenge to the 3-drug protocol. An argument was made that the first drug perhaps only immobilized the condemned person and did not prevent the sensation of pain, but an insufficient showing was made. Alito ended with a shot at the dissent:
Finally, we find it appropriate to respond to the principal dissent’s groundless suggestion that our decision is tantamount to allowing prisoners to be “drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake.” That is simply not true, and the principal dissent’s resort to this outlandish rhetoric reveals the weakness of its legal arguments.
Justice Thomas's concurring opinion describes the most horrific murders. This graphic presentation is offered in refutation of "Justice Breyer’s assertion... that the death penalty in this country has fallen short of the aspiration that capital punishment be reserved for the 'worst of the worst.'"
... Justice Breyer explains that his experience on the Court has shown him “discrepancies for which [he] can find no rational explanations.” Why, he asks, did one man receive death for a single-victim murder, while another received life for murdering a young mother and nearly killing her infant? The outcomes in those two cases may not be morally compelled, but there was certainly a rational explanation for them: The first man, who had previously confessed to another murder, killed a disabled man who had offered him a place to stay for the night... The killer stabbed his victim’s throat and prevented him from seeking medical attention until he bled to death. The second man expressed remorse for his crimes and claimed to suffer from mental disorders.
ADDED: There's some more material in a later post, here. Also, I note that Breyer stops short of declaring that the death penalty violates the Constitution. He only says it's "highly likely" that it does and that the Court should call for a full briefing on the subject.

Waiting for the new Supreme Court cases! UPDATE: They're done for this Term.

Watching the live-blog at SCOTUSblog.

UPDATE 1: Glossip — the death penalty wins. Alito writes the man opinion [TYPO retained/should be: main opinion], with concurrences by Scalia and Thomas. The 4 liberal Justices dissent.
The Court rules that the death-row inmates have failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits on their claim that the use of midazolam violates the Eighth Amendment.
Here's the PDF of the opinion, which I'll do a separate post about.

Scalia's concurrence is a response to Breyer's dissent, which calls for the abolition of the death penalty.

UPDATE 2: The redistricting decision is 5-4 with RBG writing for the majority, allowing the people of Arizona to take the process of legislative redistricting away from the legislature and give it to an independent commission.
Background on the AZ decision: The Constitution’s Elections Clause provides that the “Times, Places, and Manner of holding Elections for . . . Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof.” In 2000, Arizona voters amended the state’s constitution to give control over redistricting of federal congressional districts to an independent commission. This case is a challenge by the state legislature to that transfer, on the ground that it violated the Elections Clause....

From the final paragraph of the majority opinion: "The people of Arizona turned to the initiative to curb the practice of gerrymandering and, thereby, to ensure that Members of Congress would have “an habitual recollection of their dependence on the people.” The Federalist No. 57, at 350 (J. Madison). In so acting, Arizona voters sought to restore “the core principle of republican government,”namely, “that the voters should choose their representa­tives, not the other way around.” Berman, Managing Gerrymandering, 83 Texas L. Rev. 781 (2005). The Elec­tions Clause does not hinder that endeavor."
UPDATE 3: The EPA case is written by Scalia. 5-4, split the way you'd guess.
... This case arises from the EPA’s efforts to regulate pollution – and in particular mercury – from power plants. The question before the Court was whether, when determining whether to regulate the emissions from power plants, the EPA should take into account the cost to the plants of complying. States and industry groups had argued that the EPA must do so, while the EPA argued that it does not have to consider costs until later in the process, when it issues specific pollution standards. Today the Court agreed with the states and industry groups, holding that the EPA’s refusal to consider costs when deciding whether to regulate was unreasonable.
UPDATE 4: The Court slinks back into the shadows, not to reemerge until next fall. Writing that sentence, I feel the influence of Justice Scalia's writing in Glossip: "Welcome to Groundhog Day." But he meant the movie "Groundhog Day," a reference to repetitiousness, not the annual emergence from darkness into sun — the Bill Murray perspective, not the hairy beast's.

The Supreme Court gets back to the affirmative action question it sent back to the 5th Circuit.

Cert. granted in Fisher v. University of Texas.
The Fisher case had been relisted *five* times before the grant today. I think that, given the five relists, many people are probably a bit surprised by the grant. But this just goes to show you that you never know what's going on behind the scenes. 
ADDED: From the link, which goes to SCOTUSblog:
Fisher grant is yet another good example of why it makes little sense to think of the Court as "moving left" even though it IS accurate to say that the liberal wing of the Court has prevailed more often this year than in previous years. The question presented is whether a compromise position well right of the Harvard Plan approved in Bakke will be struck down.

I've got a problem with the supply-of-women argument for distinguishing polygamy from same-sex marriage.

Yesterday, I put up a post about an argument I made 9 years ago about how to distinguish polygamy from same-sex marriage. This was an argument based on economics and government benefits (and I admitted that the #LoveWins aspects of Obergefell made my distinction more difficult).

I was only noticing my old argument because my son John had remembered it and blogged about it. But today I see that John expanded his blog post to add a different distinction that 2 very prominent commentators have made in the wake of Obergefell.

Richard Posner says:
[P]olygamy imposes real costs, by reducing the number of marriageable women. Suppose a society contains 100 men and 100 women, but the five wealthiest men have a total of 50 wives. That leaves 95 men to compete for only 50 marriageable women.
And Jonathan Rauch says:
[T]he case for gay marriage is the case against polygamy, and the public will be smart enough to understand the difference.

Gay marriage is about extending the opportunity to marry to people who lack it; polygamy, in practice, is about exactly the opposite: withdrawing marriage opportunity from people who now have it. Gay marriage succeeded because no one could identify any plausible channels through which it might damage heterosexual marriage; with polygamy, the worries are many, the history clear, and the channels well understood.
Well, I've got a problem with that! Talk about a male perspective! What about the women who want to choose to share one man? They should be denied to preserve a pool of marriageable women for all the extra males that would otherwise have scarce pickings? Are women some kind of natural resource to be conserved for the benefit of males?

As the old saying goes: Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. If women think they are better off as multiple wives to one high-quality male, why should they be cut off from that way of life so that some less-desired male will have better odds of getting a woman for himself? Is this everybody-gets-just-one theory of marriage some kind of welfare program for undesirable males?

I can see that society fears its renegade young males and would like to tame them through marriage, leveraging the power of their sexuality lest they expend that energy in acts of violence and dissolution. I can see the idea of using women for this purpose and rejecting polygamy because it takes women out of commission in that service.

I see the scheme. I see the mechanism. But if you use that as your overt argument, you're going to run up against ideas about women's autonomy and freedom. We're not society's tools. Why should we be denied marriage to the man we want, in a sisterhood with other women who want the same thing? You'd better have a reason other than your need to exploit us for the purposes of men.

And by the way, women pairing up with women also takes women out of the pool of women who are available to men. Rauch said "Gay marriage succeeded because no one could identify any plausible channels through which it might damage heterosexual marriage," but, ironically, he just made me see an argument for that damage.

And I wouldn't use the term "gay marriage," because no one will check whether the 2 women want to have sex with each other. 2 women could marry to obtain the economic benefits of the government's legal status of marriage. Why shouldn't 2 women marry to create a household within which they could manage childcare, file a joint tax return, and get better health insurance for the blended group?

"If a group of 'textiles' (people who wear clothes) came across the naked hikers..."

"... most of them would smile and laugh and reach for their cameras."
"But one day we came across a bunch of Christian hikers and their leader made everyone turn and face away from us as we walked past. I couldn't believe it. Then later, when we were having a picnic by a lake, we saw them again and they prayed for us."...
Is that a Christian thing — averting your eye when someone naked comes into view? Seems like normal etiquette to me, especially compared with getting out your camera. I mean, I would probably stare... in horror. Because: Naked hiking? Have they not heard of ticks... ticks on dicks... ugh...

Huckabee incites civil disobedience to the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision and the Texas attorney general takes the cue.

From yesterday's "This Week" show:
STEPHANOPOULOS: So what exactly are you calling on people to do right now? You say resist and reject this judicial tyranny. Spell out exactly what that means?

HUCKABEE: George, judicial tyranny is when we believe that the courts have a right to bypass the process of law and we've really seen it this week in two cases, in both the Obamacare case, which Justice Scalia called it - said we not - should call it SCOTUScare because they have rescued it twice, ex cathedra to the law, and then in the same-sex marriage ruling in which -
Huckabee avoids the interesting part of the question and concentrates on the criticism of the court. It's tyranny, blah blah blah. Stephanopoulos interrupts to pin him down (and make some news!):
STEPHANOPOULOS: So are you calling for civil disobedience?

HUCKABEE: I don't think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice. They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law. They will go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay the letters from a Birmingham jail reminded us, based on what St. Augustine said, that an unjust law is no law at all. 
But MLK and St. Augustine didn't anything about judicially declared rightsextra rights for the people, found (perhaps in error) by a court, displacing laws on the theory that those laws were unjust.

Huckabee makes that problem harder to see by getting us to look only at those who feel compelled by religion to resist the Court's decision. But the case the Court just decided doesn't require "pastors and Christian school" to do anything. It only presents an occasion for disobedience to government bureaucrats who find themselves bound to issue marriage licenses. These people can quit their jobs if their religion prevents them from doing what government is now required to do to avoid violating the rights of the citizens they have a duty to serve. No law violation is required.

Huckabee continues:
And I do think that we're going to see a lot of pastors who will have to make this tough decision. You're going to see it on the part of Christian business owners. You'll see it on the part of Christian university presidents, Christian school administrators. If they refuse to...
Huckabee is trying to steer the conversation into things he's predicting will happen, requirements that might befall private citizens. It's not wrong to worry about these things. There are conflicts to come that will need to be resolved, but Huckabee is off the path Stephanopoulos invited him down, and Stephanopoulos knows it and asks exactly the right question:
STEPHANOPOULOS: What about county clerks? Should they issue same-sex marriage licenses?

HUCKABEE: If they have a - a conscientious objection, I think they should be excused. I'm not sure that every governor and every attorney general should just say, well, it's the law of the land because there's no enabling legislation...
Huckabee doesn't really want answer to that question. He won't call outright for resistance from the bureaucrats on the front lines of the marriage licensing function of government. The word "excused" suggests a benevolent reassignment of clerical workers with religious objection so they don't need to quit their jobs to avoid participating in what they view as a sin.

But Texas attorney general Ken Paxton steps into the breach and goes big:
Clerks can refuse based on religious objections, Paxton told the Austin American-Statesman, and because the clerks will probably be sued, "numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs," he said....

"Notorious subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz is going nuts over the possible eviction of his beloved three-legged squirrel... named Glinda’s Sister...."

"Goetz’s attorney, Spencer Sheehan, argues in documents filed in Housing Court that the landlord of the W. 14th St. apartment hasn’t proven that the 'alleged squirrel' actually belongs to the animal family of sciuridae, which is banned in city housing and also includes chipmunks, marmots and prairie dogs...."
The landlord had charged in May that Goetz — who gained notoriety after he shot four black men who he said tried to mug him on the subway in 1984 — turned the apartment into a hoarder’s dump packed with gross garbage, including a “habitrail” of cardboard boxes for the squirrel. Neighbors told the Daily News in May that Goetz is now known in the building as “Squirrel Man.”...

“He says he can’t find it,” Sheehan said. “You know, the alleged squirrel.”

Robert Holland, the attorney for the landlord...  “A neighbor is complaining about something screeching in the walls”....

June 28, 2015

"I’ll be curious now if he survives to see what he’s going to say, if anything."

Sweat has fallen, and Matt was already down. All that trouble escaping, and now, perhaps, neither will have even the satisfaction of telling the world the story of their fabulous escapade.

I like calling it an escapade. Escapade is a word we usually see in its figurative sense — "A breaking loose from restraint or rules; a flighty piece of conduct." But the older meaning is literal — "An act of escaping from confinement or restraint; a runaway excursion." That's the OED, which has as the oldest appearance of the word this from a translation of Rabelais fro 1653: "I wish your bum-gut [may] fall out and make an escapade."

In the wake of the same sex marriage case, 2 questions for the presidential candidates.

Here's what Lindsey Graham said on "Meet the Press" this morning when he was asked what he thought about the same-sex marriage case:
I think it's a transformational moment. There are a lot of upset people who believe in traditional marriage. They're disappointed, they're down right now. But, the court has ruled, so here's where I stand. If I'm president of the United States, here's what would happen. If you have a church, a mosque, or a synagogue, and you're following your faith, and you refuse to perform a same-sex marriage, because it's outside the tenets of your faith. In my presidency you will not lose your tax-exempt status. If you're a gay person or a gay couple, if I'm president of the United States, you will be able to participate in commerce and be a full member of society, consistent with the religious beliefs of others who have rights also.
I thought that was very well put. It suggests one very specific question that ought to be asked of all presidential candidates, from both parties:  Will you pledge that religious organizations that refuse to perform same-sex marriages will not lose their tax-exempt status?

And it suggests a second question could be put a few different ways. I'll put it like this: Who do you think should prevail if there is a conflict between the interests of gay people — as they engage in commerce and seek full membership in society — and the interests of religious people — as they try to frame their conduct to accord with the tenets of their religion?

I know that in the same-sex marriage case, Justice Scalia said "Ask the nearest hippie."

But I didn't know that on "Meet the Press," talking about the case, they'd all suddenly turn into hippies:
CHUCK TODD: Kathleen, it's interesting. You could argue that everybody's point of view was represented at the Supreme Court. Isn't that a good thing?... I mean, it's always everybody has seen, like, this is a piece of what they want representative in how they want to see the Constitution interpreted.

KATHLEEN PARKER: And that's true. And I appreciated Professor Ogletree's explanation of how this thing has evolved through the years. And you know, and I love Pete Williams' explanation of Scalia being a textualist and Roberts being an institutionalist. Those are both important perspectives to bring to any discussion we have on it, whatever the case may be. But to follow up on one of the things that Speaker Gingrich said, you know, I lost my train of thought.

CHUCK TODD: No, no, no, it's all right.

KATHLEEN PARKER: Oh no, no, I think this, I'm sorry, I did just kind of space there. That I'm still visualizing the White House bathed in rainbow colors, and I'm having a slight flashback.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I can't wait for the red, black, and green to come.

"Ah, the wisdom of ages! How arrogant it would be to think we knew more than the Aztecs..."

"... we who don’t even know how to cut a person’s heart out of his chest while’s he still alive, a maneuver they were experts at."

Said Judge Posner, in a piece titled "The chief justice’s dissent is heartless."

ADDED: Perhaps the heart should be ripped out. Maybe we like our judges heartless. But "heart" has been a big theme in judging judges.

At the John Roberts confirmation hearing, Senator Teddy Kennedy probed him about heart:
KENNEDY: [Y]ou were enormously complimentary about Earl Warren, about him understanding not only the law, but also understanding the importance of a chief justice, bringing other justices together in a very important way in terms of dealing with a societal issue and a question. And I think we're a fairer country and a fairer land because of this.This was really the bringing together of the mind and the heart. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "It's dangerous to think about legal issues can be worked out like mathematics."

And another nominee who was here not too long ago [Stephen Breyer] had this to say about the head and the heart: "What you worry about is someone trying to decide an individual case without thinking out the effect of that decision on a lot of cases. That is why I always think law requires both a heart and a head. If you do not have a heart, it becomes a sterile set of rules removed from human problems and it will not help. if you do not have a head, there is the risk that in trying to decide a particular person's problem in a case, that may look fine for that person, but you cause trouble for a lot of other people, making their lives yet worse."
How did Roberts respond?
I recognize as a judge and I recognized as a lawyer that these cases have impact on real people and real lives.  I always insisted when I was a lawyer about getting out into the field and seeing. If I was arguing a case involving native villages in Alaska, I went to the villages. If I was arguing a case about an assembly line, I went to the assembly line. You had to see where the case was going to have its impact and what it's impression was going to be on people. Now, none of those cases were as important as Brown v. Board of Education but the basic principle is the same: I think judge's do have to appreciate that they're dealing with real people with real cases.I think judges do have to appreciate that they're dealing with real people with real cases. We, obviously, deal with documents and texts, the Constitution, the statutes, the legislative history, and that's where the legal decisions are made. But judges never lose sight or should never lose sight of the fact that their decisions affect real people with real lives, and I appreciate that.
Voting against Roberts, Senator Barack Obama said:
[W]hile adherence to legal precedent and rules of statutory or constitutional construction will dispose of 95 percent of the cases that come before a court, so that both a Scalia and a Ginsburg will arrive at the same place most of the time on those 95 percent of the cases — what matters on the Supreme Court is those 5 percent of cases that are truly difficult.... [I]n those difficult cases, the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart.
After Obama became President and got to choose his own Justice, his nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, disentangled herself from that heart business: 
The job of a judge is to apply the law. And so it's not the heart that compels conclusions in cases, it's the law.... What judges consider is what the law says.
Obama had chosen Sotomayor after doubling down on this idea of heart, saying:
We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges.
When he said that, I blogged:
[W]e know what this "heart" business means! It means that the President (or would-be President) understands that judging won't be neutral, that the human being doing the judging, no matter how dutiful and honest he tries to be, can only find his way to a decision in a complex case by responding to the pull of emotion. So "heart" matters. The question isn't whether "heart" counts. It's: which "heart" do you want?
And I remember way back in 2005, when President George W. Bush was struggling to convince us that Harriet Miers belonged on the Supreme Court. "I know her; I know her heart" he said, and I blogged:
I razzed the Democrats for all the "heart" talk at the Roberts confirmation hearings, and the word makes me suspicious. Bush knows hearts (and he can look into a man's eye and see his soul). One wonders if his father believed he knew David Souter's heart...
This reminds me. I once conceived of a superhero I called Framerman:
Framerman appears upon the legal scene whenever judges have difficulty interpreting the Constitution. His superpower is the possession in a single mind of the collective consciousness of all the framers and ratifiers. He stands ready to answer any question, however unforeseen at the time of ratification, precisely as the entire body of relevant decisionmakers at the time would have resolved it. No more guesswork! No more result-oriented historical mumbo-jumbo! Dramatic conflict heightens as Framerman gives answers that surprise and then outrage the judges. The judges could rise up in anger and murder our poor superhero in the end, but this seems out of judicial character. Instead, what happens is this: the judges begin to write opinions rejecting the controlling effect of original intent. Hearing this, Framerman — bearing a slight resemblance to Tinkerbell, who would die if people stopped believing in fairies — clutches at his heart and succumbs.
Well, so, even Framerman had a heart!