June 30, 2015


... 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 cafĂ© 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.