June 20, 2015

"As we said in the Bible study, we enjoyed you. But may God have mercy on you."

Said Felicia Sanders to Dylann Roof, who listened by video feed and could be seen standing, noy moving, looking blank.

Felicia Sanders is the mother of victim Tywanza Sanders, the first of the 9 persons Roof shot. According to this account in The Washington Post, Tywanza, 26, was the first person Roof shot, but not the first person Roof targeted. Roof aimed first at the oldest person there, a woman, Susie Jackson, 87. And Tywanza "put himself between the 87-year-old woman and the gunman and sought to talk him down." Roof shot Sanders and then Jackson.

Such strong and profound expressions of Christianity rarely appear in the media. Truly awe-inspiring.

Here's a new photo of Roof that's turned up. It would be ludicrous, like some nonracist's parody of a racist, if the fact of the massacre didn't block any possible comedy:

The NYT found the picture at a website (which it doesn't link to) that "features dozens of photos of Dylann Storm Roof...  posing with weapons, burning an American flag and visiting Southern historic sites and Confederate soldiers’ graves.... posing with wax figures of slaves."
It... concludes with a section labeled “An Explanation.” “I have no choice... I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
That reminds me in some ways of the Norwegian murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who is carefully profiled in "The Inexplicable/Inside the mind of a mass killer," in The New Yorker a few weeks ago:
He made himself a sort of military commander’s uniform, in which he photographed himself before the crime; he consistently referred to a large organization, of which he claimed to be a prominent member but which does not exist; in his manifesto he interviews himself as if he were a hero; and the impression this gives is of a person who has erected a make-believe reality, in which his significance is undisputed....
ADDED: "I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight"... so, he chose the church — and unusually kindly people — because it was so easy. He "explained" that as "bravery," because he was all alone.

Young men are getting dressed up — in summer! — "It's amazing!"

Children reading nonfiction.

Here's a NYT article — "English Class in Common Core Era: ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Court Opinions" — about the struggles of English teachers — who'd obviously rather be teaching the good old novels they love and inspiring or trying to inspire kids to get caught up in the love of reading through imaginary characters and the plots that beset them — and the mean old politicians who've imposed the requirement that some percent (50 at first and 70 later) of the reading be nonfiction. And now we've got weird reading plans like "articles about bipolar disorder and the adolescent brain to help them analyze Holden Caulfield" and "The Odyssey" with "sections of the G.I. Bill of Rights, and a congressional resolution on its 60th anniversary, to connect the story of Odysseus to the challenges of modern-day veterans."
Schools generally choose their own reading materials. For nonfiction, however, the Common Core standards specify that students should read certain “seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance,” including the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” as well as presidential addresses and Supreme Court opinions. Many high schools have added these to American literature classes.
There are at least 3 problems tangled up together here.

1. The relative value of nonfiction and fiction in early childhood education. This is a topic I've written about for a long time — under the tag children reading nonfiction — going back to 2005, when I said: "[I]f teachers are just trying to get kids to read, why shouldn't they provide a broad selection and give kids a chance to discover what they find interesting? It looks as though the biggest problem is that teachers are pushing too much literary fiction on kids. English teachers tend to be people who enjoy that sort of thing, but most people don't read it on their own. Why should we have an appetite for stories?" And in 2007, in a post that got a lot of outraged pushback:
And why does reading even need to be a separate subject from history in school? Give them history texts and teach reading from them. Science books too. Leave the storybooks for pleasure reading outside of school. They will be easier reading, and with well-developed reading skills, kids should feel pleasure curling up with a novel at home. But even if they don't, why should any kind of a premium be placed on an interest in reading novels? It's not tied to economic success in life and needn't be inculcated any more than an interest in watching movies or listening to popular music. Leave kids alone to find out out what recreational activities enrich and satisfy them. Some may want to dance or play music or paint. Just because teachers tend to be the kind of people who love novels does not mean that this choice ought to be imposed on young people via compulsory education. Teach them about history, science, law, logic -- something academic and substantive -- and leave the fictional material for after hours.
2. Government — especially centralized government — taking over too much of education and distorting the decisions of those who are closer to the process who now must check the boxes and meet the percentages.

3. Whether the nonfiction reading requirement needs to impinge on the literature class. It might be interesting to teach a class that combines fiction with relevant readings in science, history, or current events. But it's bad if the literature teachers feel they're just being used to meet a government requirement and there's less time to read the great books that belong in the class. I would think that the percentages could be met in the science classes and the social studies classes. Why should it even be difficult? I wonder if perhaps it's not difficult, but the NYT is trying to make Common Core seem especially idiotic by showing an awkward approach deployed by balky teachers and cherry picking grumpy students who say things like "We do so much nonfiction. I just want to read my book." That's from a girl with a name that sounds like it came from a novel, Karma Lisslo.

"People don’t realize that when you are working on a painting, every day you are seeing something awful."

Said the painter Albert Oehlen to the art critic Peter Schjeldahl who elaborates:
The dramatic mood of the work is comic, beset by existential worry. It’s as if each picture wondered, “What am I? Am I even art? O.K., but what does that mean?”
Schjeldahl calls Oehlen "the foremost painter of the era that has seen painting decline as the chief medium of new art."

Painting was once very important. Isn't it strange that the foremost painter of our era is someone you've never probably never heard of and who even when you're told he's the foremost painter you probably don't even care enough to click to see what the hell that awful, comic, beset-by-existential-worry thing looks like?

Cartoons I don't have time to draw: $10 bills with Alexander Hamilton depicted in a lesser position alongside some famous woman.

If I understand this correctly, the new woman-celebrating $10 bill will oust Alexander Hamilton from the front-and-center spot of honor but not from the bill entirely. How's this going to work? It's hard to picture, partly because we don't know which woman will get the front-and-center position.

It troubles me that they're bumping a specific man for a woman to be named later. They just need a woman in this spot. It's insulting to women to decide that a woman belongs on the bill before we know the actual woman who has beaten out the man whose accomplishments and importance we already know. Just the idea of a woman is supposed to be more important. It's so patronizing and propagandistic.

But I'm fascinated by the assurances that Hamilton will remain on the bill, just subordinated somehow — lurking in in the background? — smaller perhaps, in a supportive role. It's hard to picture that, because I don't know who the woman will be. It's unlikely to be a woman from Hamilton's own time — Abigail Adams? — so there's no way to envision the 2 characters together in a realistic historical scene. So I'm seeing only a surrealistic things in my head.

Let me describe the cartoons I don't have the patience to draw. Picture the woman — whoever this could turn out to be — and then Alexander Hamilton somehow worked into the scene.

For example, take this...

... and have it going on in the background behind this....

I'm sure you can think of many more ways to combine old man Hamilton with some prominent lady.

June 19, 2015

"Prof. Althouse - Prof. Volokh said he was going to continue microaggressing. How about you?"

Says a commenter on a post from a couple days ago called "Eugene Volokh gets a memo from his employer (the University of California) about how to avoid 'microaggressions' and he doesn't like it very much."

What Volokh said was (mocking the university's aggressive definition of microaggression):
Well, I’m happy to say that I’m just going to keep on microaggressing. I like to think that I’m generally polite, so I won’t express these views rudely. And I try not to inject my own irrelevant opinions into classes I teach, so there are many situations in which I won’t bring up these views simply because it’s not my job to express my views in those contexts.
Unlike Volokh, I don't "like to think that I’m generally polite." I dislike (and avoid) thinking that, because politeness is subjective, and I'm afraid to count on the belief that other people will think that I'm polite.

Wild parsnip with ants.


Don't touch it. And not just because of the ants:
There are chemicals in wild parsnip called psoralens (precisely, furocoumarins) that cause what dermatologists call "phyto-photo-dermatitis." That means an inflammation (itis) of the skin (derm) induced by a plant (phyto) with the help of sunlight (photo). When absorbed by skin, furocoumarins are energized by ultraviolet light (present during sunny and cloudy days) causing them to bind with nuclear DNA and cell membranes. This process destroys cells and skin tissue, though the reaction takes time to produce visible damage.

Brian Williams: "This came from clearly a bad place, a bad urge inside of me."

"This was clearly ego driven, the desire to better my role in a story I was already in."
"Why is it when we are trying to say ‘I am sorry’ that we can’t come out and say, ‘I’m sorry’... Looking back, it is very clear I never intended to. It got mixed up. It got turned around in my mind.... I know why people feel the way they do... I get this. I am responsible for this. I am sorry for what happened here. I am different as a result, and I expect to be held to a different standard.... I would like to take this opportunity to say that what has happened in the past has been identified and torn apart by me and has been fixed and has been dealt with... Going forward, there are going to be different rules of the road... I was reading these newspaper stories, not liking the person I was reading about... These statements I made, I own this, I own up to this.... In our work, I have always treated words very carefully.... It is clear that after work, when I got out of the building, when I got out of that realm, I used a double standard. Something changed, and I was sloppy, and I said things that weren’t true. Looking back, that is plain."
That's him, treating words very carefully. Words are his stock in trade. He's used them and he's still using them. For his purposes. I can't imagine why we'd consume what he's serving. 

"Rand Paul’s First Two Books Are Full Of Fake Founding Fathers Quotes."

A Buzzfeed article by Andrew Kaczynski.

Here's a Wall Street Journal article from 2012: "To Quote Thomas Jefferson, 'I Never Actually Said That'/Librarian Tracks Sayings Misattributed to Founding Father; 'A Fine Spiced Pickle.'"
Ms. Berkes acknowledges she has her work cut out for her. "Jefferson is a figure that just is ever present in the American mind," she says.

Jefferson might agree. "If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed," he supposedly said.

Actually, he didn't.

Is Justice Thomas the one with the heart, the empathy? Let's look at the questionable material he included in that death penalty case.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided a case called Brumfield v. Cain:
Justice Sotomayor [joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Kennedy] wrote... an opinion that was focused almost exclusively upon the specific evidence about whether the convicted man, Kevan Brumfield, was intellectually disabled....

Justice Thomas wrote one dissenting opinion.... Although most of the Thomas dissenting opinion was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Alito and Scalia, those three three did not join in a section of the Thomas opinion that described the heroic efforts of one of the murdered officer’s sons to keep the rest of the family together, and his heroic efforts on the football field as a star in college and in the pro football ranks.  Alito issued a brief separate opinion for himself and the Chief Justice, saying that the section of the Thomas opinion at issue was “inspiring,” but added that those two members of the Court did not regard that part as “essential to the legal analysis in this case.”
Here's the text of the case. Here's the material in the Thomas opinion that Alito and the Chief thought didn't belong:

"It was Joyce Ann Brown’s great misfortune that long before the 1980 robbery and murder that altered her life forever..."

"... she had been arrested on an unrelated charge. It was her greater misfortune to have been working for a furrier at the time the crime occurred. But as things played out, it was her greatest misfortune of all simply to have been named Joyce Ann Brown...."

From "Joyce Ann Brown, Shackled by Her Name to Another Woman’s Crime, Dies at 68."

"That’s what slaves did. But, you know, we’re not slaves."

Henry Louis Gates asked, "Why does black political participation matter so much?" and Clementa Pinckney said:
"We need to be a part, if we want a say in our own life, if we want to be independent, if we want to influence what’s happening around us. Or the reverse is to let everybody else control and influence and then we just sort of take whatever comes. That’s what slaves did. But, you know, we’re not slaves. We’re Americans, so we have a responsibility to look at ourselves — self-help, if you will. I also think that we have a historic legacy that we need to uphold."
The Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney was the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and one of the 9 who died in Wednesday night's massacre.

"It is fundamental to our notions of a free society that we do not imprison citizens because we fear that they might commit a crime in the future."

"Although the public might be safer if the government, using the latest 'scientific' methods of predicting human behavior, locked up potential murderers, rapists, robbers, and, of course, sex offenders, our system of justice, enshrined in rights guaranteed by our Constitution, prohibits the imposition of preventive detention except in very limited circumstances. This strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a free society where liberty is a primary value of our heritage. Significantly, when the criminal justice system and the civil commitment system carry out their responsibilities, the constitutional rights of all citizens, including sex offenders, can be upheld without compromising public safety or disrespecting the rights, concerns, and fears of victims."

Wrote Federal District Judge Donovan Frank, whom David Post quote in "Minnesota’s egregious sex offender confinement statute held unconstitutional. Post observes:
Almost 1000 individuals over the last 20 years have been involuntarily committed to the MSOP facility under this program, and not one has ever been discharged  – in effect, indefinite and lifetime detention. It’s an appalling piece of legislative malfeasance, and Minnesotans should be ashamed of themselves for having enacted it into law....
Here's an article about Judge Frank (who was born in 1951 and appointed by Bill Clinton):

"Can total passivity = ‘victim indicat[ing] by speech or conduct that there is not freely given consent to performance of the sexual act’?"

Eugene Volokh asks, looking at a case where there's good reason to want to answer yes.
But the legislature deliberately enacted a law that made it an aggravated felony to have sex with someone if “at the time of the sexual assault, the victim indicates by speech or conduct that there is not freely given consent to performance of the sexual act.” An alleged victim’s being passive — and, again, passive without the defendant’s use or threat of physical force — is a reaction that is broadly consistent both with absence of consent and presence of consent (even if not necessarily enthusiastic consent). In such a situation, passivity shouldn’t satisfy the statutory requirement of the victim’s “indicat[ing] by speech or conduct that there is not freely given consent,” especially since the defendant’s guilt must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt.

June 18, 2015

"This is the first aerobatic ride fof my 4yo daughter. She asked me to go in flight and do inverted things. So, we discussed, review the figures and went to fly ;)."

Dylann Storm Roof.

"The gunman wanted in the killing of nine people at a prayer meeting at a historic black church in this city’s downtown area was taken into custody Thursday morning in North Carolina."
Mr. Roof’s Facebook profile picture shows him wearing a jacket decorated with the flags of two former white supremacist regimes, in apartheid-era South Africa and in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe....

“I have to do it,” the gunman was quoted as saying. “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
The link goes to the NYT where the top-rated comment — with 2,427 up-votes — sets out a bullet-point list of possible reasons why this happened:
• Hysterical, paranoid gun culture enabled by states trying to outdo each other with permissiveness

• Hysterical, hate-mongering right-wing TV "news," talk show hosts, web sites

• Foaming-at-the-mouth incitements to racism

• Continued un- and underemployment

Specialty license plates are government speech, so Texas can reject the Sons of Confederate Veterans design.

There are 6 new Supreme Court cases this morning. Which one to read first? I'm going with the license plate case. The government wins in a free speech case, and the "liberal" side of the Court achieves its majority through the addition of Justice Thomas. The case is Walker v. Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans (PDF).

Justice Breyer, writing for the majority, says that "as a general matter, when the government speaks it is entitled to promote a program, to espouse a policy, or to take a position," and "it is not barred by the Free Speech Clause from determining the content of what it says." If it were, "government would not work."

But are specialty license plates government speech? Texas set up a procedure that let private citizens participate in designing, then rejected the one that the Sons of Confederate Veterans wanted.

Breyer emphasizes that the point of getting a license plate — as opposed to just putting a bumper sticker on your car — is that you want to acquire and display the impression of the state's endorsement of your message. The state is expressing something by producing a license plate and itn eeds to be able to choose "how to present itself and its constituency." It can accept the "Fight Terrorism" design and reject the pro-al Qaeda plate.

For the majority, this case is like the Pleasant Grove v. Summum case where the city was allowed to accept some donated monuments for the park and reject others.

The dissenters — in an opinion written by Justice Alito — say the majority "passes off private speech as government speech." There are "more than 350" specialty plates in Texas. Do people really read them as government speech rather than the speech of the car owner?
If a car with a plate that says “Rather Be Golfing” passed by at 8:30 am on a Mon- day morning, would you think: “This is the official policy of the State—better to golf than to work?” If you did your viewing at the start of the college football season and you saw Texas plates with the names of the University of Texas’s out-of-state competitors in upcoming games — Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, the University of Oklahoma, Kansas State, Iowa State — would you assume that the State of Texas was officially (and perhaps treasonously) rooting for the Longhorns’ opponents?
Alito distinguishes Summum. There's a history of government erecting monuments as a form of expression and no history of landowners allowing others to put up permanent monuments on their land. And there's limited space in a park. In Summum, the government had a selective process, but the Texas license-plate procedure was not selective:
The Board’s chairman, who is charged with approving designs, explained that the program’s purpose is “to encourage private plates” in order to “generate additional revenue for the state.” And most of the time, the Board “base[s] [its] decisions on rules that primarily deal with reflectivity and readability.” A Department brochure explains: “Q. Who provides the plate design? A. You do, though your design is subject to reflectivity, legibility, and design standards.”
In addition, Alito notes, Texas was charging groups $8,000 a year to have their designs on a plate:
[I]f Texas really wants to speak out in support of, say, Iowa State University (but not the University of Iowa) or “Young Lawyers” (but not old ones), why must it be paid to say things that it really wants to say?...
Clearly, Texas is in it for the money, not because it is "bursting with things" it wants to say.

4 boxes of new Supreme Court opinions...

... with SCOTUSblog live-blogging here.

1. Brumfeld v. Cain (PDF). About habeas relief and the question when a person is "mentally retarded and therefore ineligible for the death penalty."
Pursuant to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Brumfield could secure relief only if the state court’s rejection of his claim was either “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,” or was “based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.” 28 U. S. C. §§2254(d)(1), (2)....

We do not deny that Brumfield’s crimes were terrible, causing untold pain for the victims and their families. But we are called upon today to resolve a different issue. There has already been one death that society rightly condemns. The question here is whether Brumfield cleared AEDPA’s procedural hurdles, and was thus entitled to a hearing to show that he so lacked the capacity for self-determination that it would violate the Eighth Amendment to permit the State to impose the “law’s most severe sentence,” Hall, 572 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 7), and take his life as well.
2. Ohio v. Clark (PDF). This is a confrontation clause case with no dissenting opinions. Justice Alito writes the main opinion, and there's a concurring opinion written by Justice Scalia that is joined by Justices Thomas and Ginsburg. Everyone accepts what the trial court did: allow the hearsay evidence that was the statement a 3-year-old boy to his pre-school teacher that identified the defendent as responsible for the marks she saw on his body. From the main opinion:
The Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause, which is binding on the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, provides: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” In Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U. S. 56, 66 (1980), we interpreted the Clause to permit the admission of out-of-court statements by an unavailable witness, so long as the statements bore “adequate ‘indicia of reliability.’” Such indicia are present, we held, if “the evidence falls within a firmly rooted hearsay exception” or bears “particularized guarantees of trustworthiness.” Ibid.
From SCOTUSblog: "Lovers of Justice Scalia and/or the confrontation clause should DEFINITELY check out Scalia's concurrence in the judgment in Ohio v. Clark. It is some sharply worded stuff -- accuses Alito of "shoveling dirt" on the grave of the key precedents, and using intentionally confusing "dicta" to try to undermine the clause's protections." I'll be getting to all of that later.

3. Davis v. Ayala (PDF). 5-4. "Holding: Any federal constitutional error that may have occurred by excluding Ayala's attorney from part of the Batson hearing was harmless."

4. Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans (PDF). "Texas's specialty license plate design constitutes government speech, and thus Texas was entitled to refuse to issue plates featuring the proposed Confederate Veterans' design." 5-4, by Justice Breyer, with Justice Thomas joining the liberals. Justice Alito has a dissent, which is joined by the rest of the conservatives (Roberts, Scalia, and Kennedy.)

5. McFadden v. United States (PDF). "When a controlled substance is an analogue, §841(a)(1) requires the Government to establish that the defendant knew he was dealing with a substance regulated under the Controlled Substances Act or Analogue Act." McFadden was selling bath salts. The case is remanded to determine if the error was harmless (which it is if no rational jury would find that McFadden didn't know).

6. Reed v. Town of Gilbert (PDF). "The Sign Code’s provisions are content-based regulations of speech that do not survive strict scrutiny." Justice Thomas writes the main opinion. There are also 2 concurring opinions.

Jack Lew explains why the Treasury Department is putting a woman on the $10 bill.

I'll save you the trouble of watching that clip. The reason is that women are "important" and it's "important" for "women and men" to know that women are "important." Now, just picture a smarmy smile on a bureaucrat and you've got it.

Yeah, but why the $10 bill? I thought there was a movement to get a woman on the $20 bill... and part of it was about the nefariousness of Andrew Jackson? Why have we turned our sights on Alexander Hamilton?

No answer to that, just some weird assurance that Hamilton will remain on the $10, sharing the space with the lucky woman, who may or may not be Harriet Tubman. A woman can't get a bill of her own?!

Why pick on Hamilton? He was a black man, wasn't he? From Ron Chernow's biography "Alexander Hamilton":
Hamilton was portrayed [by George Clinton, writing as "Cato"] as the uppity “Tom S** t” (Tom Shit) and introduced as a “mustee”— the offspring of a white person and a quadroon. This was the first time that Hamilton’s opponents tried to denigrate him with charges of mixed racial ancestry. Tom Shit is mocked for his “Creolian” writing. In a soliloquy, Tom, a conceited upstart and British lackey, says, “My dear masters, I am indeed leading a very hard life in your service…. Consider the great sacrifices I have made for you. By birth a subject of his Danish Majesty, I quitted my native soil in the torrid zone and called myself a North American for your sakes.” Tom is accused of having sent his “Phocion” essays, defending persecuted Tories, straight from the king’s printer in England. After castigating Hamilton as a treacherous foreigner, the author refers to Washington as Hamilton’s “immaculate daddy,” a snide reference to Hamilton’s illegitimacy.... (Page 245.)

"27 Gendered Products That Prove Masculinity Is Incredibly Fragile."

Beginning with Q-tips with a label that actually says "Men's Ultimate Multi-Tool/Detailing/Cleaning/Building." That's at Buzzfeed, where I arrived via a Metafilter thread about a Details article titled "Make Way for Brosé: Why More Men Are Drinking Pink/Forget craft beer. These days, guys are toasting summer over bottles of blush, turning rosé into the drink of the moment." A Metafilter commenter says: "Don't Bro at me, yo. Rosè is for picnics where people will wander off to have sex against a tree with their half cousin from Switzerland. Sometimes there are peacocks."

Some one else says: "Part your lips for the Dude Stick. Drag your lush yet masculine mouth up the Dude Stick’s smooth, blood-warm side, coating your lips with a pearly trail of tactical moisturizer." Which gets the immediate response:  "Dude stick is mostly infuriating because the pre-existing major brand is already CHAP STICK. CHAP. As in FELLOW, DUDE, BRO."

"The Last Time Conservatives Dismissed a Major Encyclical, It Ended Terribly for Them."

Jeet Heer in The New Republic writes about the Pope's new global-warming encyclical. The "last time" encyclical was the 1961 "Mater et Magistra" (Mother and Teacher), which embraced government welfare programs.
In an angry editorial, National Review described Mater et Magistra as a “venture in triviality.” The magazine also published a joking note saying “Going the rounds in Catholic conservative circles, ‘Mater Si, Magistra no.’” (The joke was first made by Garry Wills, who was playing off a slogan of the Cuban Revolution: “Cuba si, Yanqui no.”)

"A white gunman opened fire Wednesday night at a historic black church in this city’s downtown, killing 9 people before fleeing and setting off an overnight manhunt...."

The NYT reports, based on statements from the police.
City officials did not release information about the victims and did not say how many people were in the church during the shooting. Hospital officials declined to comment....

In the first hours after the shooting, the police blocked reporters and passers-by from approaching the church, opposite a Marriott Courtyard hotel, because of a bomb threat. Many among the news media cluster were political reporters in town to cover campaign events of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush....

“It’s obvious that it’s race,” [said Tory Fields, a member of the Charleston County Ministers Conference]. “What else could it be? You’ve got a white guy going into an African-American church. That’s choice. He chose to go into that church and harm those people. That’s choice.”
UPDATE: The gunman is captured. New post here

June 17, 2015

At the Wild White Indigo Café...



... you can choose your colors.

"As a historian who has spent the last 12 years studying 'passing,' I am disheartened that there is so little sympathy for Ms. Dolezal or understanding of her life circumstances."

"The harsh criticism of her sounds frighteningly similar to the way African-Americans were treated when it was discovered that they had passed as white. They were vilified, accused of deception and condemned for trying to gain membership to a group to which they did not and could never belong.... But Ms. Dolezal’s view of herself — however confused, or incongruent with society’s — reveals an essential truth about race: It is a fiction, a social construct based in culture and not biology. It must be 'made' from what people believe and do. Race is performative. It is the memories that bind us, the stories passed down to us, the experiences that we share, the social forces that surround us. Identities are never entirely our own, but does that mean that we should lose all control in determining who we are?...  It may come as a surprise that there have been many such cases of whites passing as black.... There is no essentialized, fixed, 'true identity' waiting just below the surface. Identities are contingent.... While we cannot know how Rachel Dolezal understood her place in the world, neither her choice nor the unsavory entanglements it has wrought are unique.... [P]erhaps we can use Ms. Dolezal’s story, puzzling as it is, as an opportunity to have a candid, lively, long-delayed, public conversation about the knotty meanings of race and racial identity.... "

From a NYT op-ed titled "Rachel Dolezal’s Unintended Gift to America," by Allyson Hobbs, the author of "A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life," whose name came up on this blog a couple days ago.

"Clicking a 'View All Comments' button is a mild manifestation, I suspect, of the Freudian death instinct."

"And yet there is something narrow, and basically anachronistic, about this view of 'the comments' as a phenomenon restricted to the unconsecrated ground below the line. Because it is possible to think of the Internet itself, in all its incomprehensible vastness, as an exponentially ramifying network of commentary and metacommentary. It’s comments all the way down. Social media, at any rate, and Twitter in particular, are a continually metastasizing accretion of marginalia..... The mind blanks at this sheer volume of commentary generated with every elapsing second, this unreckonable tonnage of weigh-ins...."

Much more at the link in a New Yorker article titled "It’s Comments All the Way Down," written by Slate’s books columnist Mark O’Connell. The underlying book in question is "Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web," by Joseph M. Reagle, Jr. The book might not tell you anything you don't already know. As O'Connell puts it: "Reagle too often seems happy to wrap up his discussion of a given topic with a tepid valedictory pronouncement. 'We all have opinions,' he writes at the end of one section, 'and many do not hesitate to express them at the bottom of the Web—even when they are less than informed.'"

Eugene Volokh gets a memo from his employer (the University of California) about how to avoid "microaggressions"...

... and he doesn't like it very much.
[T]his concept is now being used to suppress not just, say, personal insults or discrimination in hiring or grading, but also ideas that the UC wants to exclude from university classrooms. 
I'm adding the boldface. From the memo:

"The number of homeless in this community should not be increasing and it is... We are on a death trip."

"We have a reputation for being very accommodating and that there are no rules. They are not here for housing. They are not here for shelters and it’s time we face up to it.”

Said Paul Soglin, the mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, as the city counsel voted 17-1 to override his veto and make the homeless a protected class.
The city already prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, color, natural origin, citizenship status, age, handicap/disability, marital status, source of income, arrest or conviction records and more....

Soglin argued it is part of a legislative body of work that has cumulatively made homelessness worse in Madison and said it would have no measurable effect on the city’s homeless population. His criticism was largely directed at the homeless people who camp out in front of the City-County Building. He accused people living there of not using allotted shelter nights, engaging in drinking and drug use on the property and having sex on the picnic tables where building employees eat.
If you don't know anything about Mayor Soglin, here's a NYT article from 2011 titled "From Firebrand to a Bit of a Grump, a ‘Hippie Mayor’ Evolves." ("A leading Vietnam War protester, Mr. Soglin went on to become a counterculture folk hero here in Wisconsin’s capital by winning election as mayor in 1973 at age 27.... Decades later, Mr. Soglin is back in control of City Hall....) "City Hall," AKA the City-County Building where the homeless are camped out and (apparently) having sex on the picnic tables where building employees eat.

Men in shorts — the not-quite-ready-to-shave edition.

From a NYT article titled "At London Men’s Fashion Week, Bigger is Not Necessarily Better." The photo is by Tom Jamieson for the NYT and the fashion is by Christopher Shannon for spring 2016.

I love this image because of how strongly it proves the point I've been pushing for 11 years, which is that shorts make a man look like a boy. Now, maybe that's what some men are looking for. They've got an inner child to let out of the awkward man-shell within which they find themselves trapped. They're trans-boys.

This model looks perfectly cute in his boyishness, and the stylists knew what the look was: boy. See that shaving cream on his chin and ears? He's just playing at shaving. Got into his dad's things. The shaving cream. The old Zippo lighter. Look out. Going to get in trouble. Here comes trouble.

ADDED: The NYT portrays what I'm calling shaving cream as "mousse":
[Christopher Shannon] models’ faces were bearded with snowy drifts of mousse, as though they had come direct from a frat-holiday foam party. But give the lads a shower and the collection came forward as crisp, sporty and salable....
Mousse, eh? That calls to mind the it's-not-mousse scene in "Something About Mary."

"Male Teen Has Consensual Sex with Female Teen. He Gets 25 Years as Sex Offender, Banned from Internet."

A headline at Reason.com which could just as accurately have read: A 19-Year-Old-Man Has Sex With a 14-Year-Old Girl And Gets Only 90 Days in Jail.

ADDED: Actually, my headline is more accurate. Reason is deliberately trying to create the impression that 2 teens, equal in other respects, were treated radically differently because one was male and the other female. But if this had been a case of a 19-year-old woman with a 14-year-old boy and she only got 90 days in jail for it, we'd be hearing about how easily we shrug off predation by females.

"The tiger is liquidated."

"An escaped zoo tiger was shot dead in central Tbilisi Wednesday after killing a man working on flood relief efforts, a Georgian Interior Ministry spokeswoman said...."
Tbilisi streets on Sunday turned into a big-game park after lions, bears, crocodiles and hyenas went on the loose after flooding destroyed the Tbilisi zoo. Many were shot or drowned. The luckier ones were recovered and returned to the zoo. A hippopotamus on Sunday roamed central Tbilisi Square before being shot with a tranquilizer dart in front of a Swatch store.

Georgian authorities had said Tuesday that the animals were accounted for. But there was finger-pointing Wednesday about why they had declared the all-clear....

"The artist, Andy Goldsworthy, has placed several arches in spots around the globe, but the Striding Arches — three of them — on the hilltops just north of Moniaive you could say are closest to his Scottish heart."

Nina goes to Scotland and tracks down the arches.

At the link, in addition to Goldsworthy arches, archetypal sheep and (in the last photograph) a perfectly idealized farmer.

"Artist Molly Soda describes her most recent series 'Should I send this?' as 'a collection of text and images I would be too scared to show you.'"

"Anyone who's tried to woo a lover via the Internet knows what she's referring to. The net artist uncovered an assortment of selfies and sexts she'd accumulated over the years that, for one reason or another, she was too afraid to actually send. Until now.... Most of the negative opinions lodged against Soda either condemned the piece as narcissistic, pretentious and juvenile, or straight-up slut-shamed her.... Whether or not you're a fan of the artwork itself, there does seem to be some archaic expectations of privacy and propriety in the air that cause a project like this to provoke such seething reactions. And while women can be critical of each other and their work, spewing hate on each other's work and dubbing it 'not feminist' is probably, well, not very feminist..."

From a Huffington Post article titled "Feminist Artist Leaks Her Own Nudes, Internet Responds Like Meatheads (NSFW)."

"And so, as she reintroduces herself to the Democratic Party, and the American electorate as a whole, she should embrace her nerdiness."

"Not only is it effective—a persona perfect for a moment when Americans want solutions more than inspiration—but, after years of keeping it under wraps, it’s the most authentic move she could make."

The last lines of a Slate piece by Jamelle Bouie called "Why Hillary Clinton Should Go Full Nerd/The Democratic front-runner should offer voters her authentic, geeky self."

We've been seeing the word "authentic" a lot lately — what with Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal. There's this idea we seem to like that everyone has a real identity inside and that if we've got an inconsistent outward presentation of ourselves it would be wonderful for the inner being to cast off that phony shell.

But "authenticity" can be another phony shell. Unlike the headline writer, who wrote "her authentic, geeky self," Bouie had the decency to write "the most authentic move she could make." Look closely.

The most authentic move she could make. The most authentic move she could make. The most authentic move she could make. 

Not much authenticity there at all. Hillary's in a predicament. What can she do? Authenticity is a good thing to have, so they say. How could she try to get some of that? What move could she possibly make? How about geekiness? What's going on in this old picture?

She's always had some of that nerdiness/geekiness.* That could be the quote-unquote real Hillary. How about a nerd-geek turn on the stage of The Theater of Authenticity?


* Slate doesn't bother with the nerd/geek distinction.

"On the face of it, 35-year-old Ben Cnaan has painted a friend, stepdaughter and their dog all looking equally pensive in the blistering sunlight of Israel’s Jezreel Valley."

"Another way of seeing it is defiance in the face of impending tragedy. Ben Cnaan’s portrait is based on the story of Jephthah, a judge who led the Israelites into war with the Ammonites and vowed to God that, if he won, he would sacrifice the first thing he saw on his homecoming. He expected it to be the dog. To his horror, it was his only daughter who rushed out to greet him."

From "Israeli artist Matan Ben Cnaan wins BP portrait award/Top prize of £30,000 awarded for painting that struck judges with its ‘engaging filmic narrative’ inspired by biblical story of Jephthah" in The Guardian.

You can discuss the art and politics angle on this — the Brits giving the Israeli the award perhaps because it could be read as anti-Israel — and the quality of the art — realism achieve through precise copying of a photograph that itself would not have seemed especially great. But I'm going to go right to the Bible story. There are 2 problematic elements to this story:

1.  If Jephthah thought he'd only have to kill his dog and he was thus not offering God that much, he was trying to con God. If he really believed in God and thought God hears and responds to prayers, he should have thought that God knew he was only offering a dog. That should have rendered the prayer ineffective or even put him in a worse position than if he hadn't prayed at all.

2. If Jephthah didn't want to have to kill his only daughter, he should have been a hell of a lot more sure that the dog always comes out first. Don't little children come running impetuously toward the father who is returning from war?

I was going to say that these are 2 defects in the story which render it inherently unbelievable. But I changed my mind as I wrote this. Here's my theory for how the 2 seeming weaknesses in the story can be seen actually to strengthen it. Jephthah was sure the dog would come out first and God knew it and caused the daughter to run out first so Jephthah would get what he deserved for trying to get God's support on the cheap.

"We’ve been to this corner of Crazytown before. If we’re going to have a billionaire dope running for the presidency..."

"... I prefer Ross Perot and his cracked tales of Vietnamese hit squads dispatched to take him out while Lee Atwater plotted to crash his daughter’s wedding with phonied-up lesbian sex pictures."

From "Witless Ape Rides Escalator," by Kevin D. Williamson, and that's more than I want to have to say about the person whose name I'm again declining to blog... which is what last night's post meant. I'm not saying his name. I'm not giving him the attention he wants. As my mother used to say: You'll only encourage him.

UPDATE: Originally this post had only one tag: nothing.

June 16, 2015

Odd plant rum.

Lord Mud Pant.

Rad mold punt.

Damp old runt.

Torn lump dad.

UPDATE, February 12, 2017: This post is my first post about Donald Trump running for President. I was actively resisting even the idea that he was a real candidate. I'm adding the tag "Donald Trump" now, so I can find it later. Originally, the only tag on this post was "nothing."

Prairie close-ups.



Big crowds for Bernie.

"More than 3,000 came to a Sanders speech in Minneapolis in May; 700 attended his speech at Drake University here Friday night, about the same number who went to a Hillary Clinton event on Sunday that featured a buffet table and a live band. More than 3,000 people have RSVP’d for a Sanders rally in Denver on Saturday, the campaign says...."

What's happening here?
“The man has always spoken truth to power... He has the backs of veterans and working people... I’m fired up and ready to go.”

Rachel Dolezal takes exception to "When did you start deceiving people?”

Today, on the "Today" show: "I do take exception to that, because it’s a little more complex than me identifying as black, or answering a question of, ‘Are you black or white?’”
[T]he closest Ms. Dolezal came to admitting any fault was in saying, “There are probably a couple interviews that I would do a little differently if circumstances in retrospect, I knew what I know now.”...
She defended calling a man who was not her father her father: “We connected on a very intimate level as family... Albert Wilkerson is my dad.”

And she defended calling her adopted, black brother her son, because she became his guardian, and he sees her as his “real mom,” and "for that to be something that is plausible, I certainly can’t be seen as white and be Izaiah’s mom.”
Mr. Lauer asked repeatedly whether she had cynically used racial identification as a way to gain advantage, either against Howard or in enhancing her credibility as a civil rights advocate. She declined to answer.

Ms. Dolezal said her identification with black people went back as far as when she was 5 years old. “I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon, and the black curly hair,” she said.
ADDED: The link goes to the NYT where 2 of the most highly rated comments come from readers who self-identify as black:

1. Sheeba, Brooklyn: "I don't have a problem with her identifying with my culture, even if that goes so far as altering your physical appearance. Women have been doing that cross culturally for eons. Yet if you are checking off the Black box or African American box on an application, I cannot condone that. I cannot become white when there is a full moon. Her credibility is simply compromised."

2. Will, New York City: "I don't know what's all the hullabaloo is about. As an African American, I'm flattered that this beautiful woman has chosen to identify herself as my race. People are becoming too sensitive nowadays - taking all the good fun out of living."

Men in leggings.

"Beaver Dam Common Council voted to not allow kangaroos to be considered service animals after a woman brought her kangaroo into a McDonald’s."

Only dogs and miniature horses from now on.

ADDED: From the image-search annals of "therapy kangaroo":

That's not the Beaver Dam kangaroo.

That's the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma kangaroo, who "rides in a car seat, is dressed in a shirt and pants each day and is rarely away from his doting caretaker."

The goats of Berkeley.

Berkeley Lab says: "We utilize goats at the lab in order to keep our grasses short and reduce fire hazards. In this video the goats are being herded (wait for dog at end) to the tree laden hill just below our Blackberry Gate." Note: The "Lab" in Berkeley Lab does not refer to the dog.

Goats at Berkeley Lab

Goats gone wild!We utilize goats at the lab in order to keep our grasses short and reduce fire hazards. In this video the goats are being herded (wait for dog at end) to the tree laden hill just below our Blackberry Gate.Video: David Stein, Berkeley Lab employeeGoats: Goats R Us Company

Posted by Berkeley Lab on Friday, June 12, 2015

"Joyce Mitchell had sexual relationships with both escaped N.Y. inmates, sources say."

The Daily News reports:
Mitchell, who met the pair in 2013, was investigated by prison officials after a co-worker reported she had inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with [David] Sweat, the sources said.

Her supervisors found nothing to back up the claim because Mitchell continued to supervise Sweat, who turned 35 on Sunday, and the reportedly well-endowed [Ricard] Matt, 48, as they stitched Metro-North uniforms in the prison tailoring shop.
The one known for his endowment was not just a killer but a penciler of portraits of celebrities. Like this:

Endowment for the Arts.

In other prison-sex news: "Brett Robinson, 33, is the second female staffer at the Washington County Jail to be accused of bedding inmate Jang-Li Delgado-Galban, a gang leader locked up in maximum security." Robinson will argue "temporary insanity," seemingly based on the notion that she was "vulnerable, passive and gullible" and suffered from the "delusion" that Jang-Li loved her.

The trans-real world of Rachel Dolezal and her memoir-writing, child-abuse-trial-awaiting brother Joshua.

"It was revealed Monday that Dolezal’s older brother Joshua Dolezal is awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused a black child — charges that the Dolezal family, in their own television appearance, implied Rachel Dolezal may have helped orchestrate," reports Justin Wm. Moyer in the Washington Post.
Joshua Dolezal’s troubles could perhaps explain at least one piece of the complicated puzzle behind this saga, the question of why a couple claiming to be Rachel Dolezal’s parents would expose their daughter to such public humiliation and perhaps legal  jeopardy....
The affadavit in support of the arrest warrant has a racial theme: "The family had a subscription to National Geographic magazine... Joshua Dolezal showed [redacted] his collection of photos of topless and naked African women.... Joshua Dolezal was turned on by the black body and was curious about black women sexually."

Joshua Dolezal, an English professor, seems to be a respected writer. He has a memoir published by the University of Iowa Press, "Down from the Mountaintop: From Belief to Belonging." The WaPo reporter extracts material about Rachel from the memoir:

"Why are Democrats losing the debate over voting rights?"

Asks Juan Williams.
Even most black Americans — people who, overwhelmingly, don’t vote Republican — currently favor new requirements for voters to have photo identification. Three-quarters of all voters — people of all races and political parties — favor such laws, according to polls.

The black support for photo identification of voters can only be described as amazing. For most of the twentieth century, violence, poll taxes and literacy tests were used by segregationists to deny black people the right to vote....
Williams offers no answer to his question. He's just expressing amazement.

Where doctors perform euthanasia even on non-terminal patients and pronounce it "very magical."

From a New Yorker article titled "The Death Treatment/When should people with a non-terminal illness be helped to die?"
In Belgium, euthanasia is embraced as an emblem of enlightenment and progress, a sign that the country has extricated itself from its Catholic, patriarchal roots....

[P]eople have... been euthanized because they had autism, anorexia, borderline personality disorder, chronic-fatigue syndrome, partial paralysis, blindness coupled with deafness, and manic depression. In 2013, Wim Distelmans euthanized a forty-four-year-old transgender man, Nathan Verhelst, because Verhelst was devastated by the failure of his sex-change surgeries; he said that he felt like a monster when he looked in the mirror. “Farewell, everybody,” Verhelst said from his hospital bed, seconds before receiving a lethal injection.

The laws seem to have created a new conception of suicide as a medical treatment, stripped of its tragic dimensions. Patrick Wyffels, a Belgian family doctor, told me that the process of performing euthanasia, which he does eight to ten times a year, is “very magical.”...
ADDED: Speaking of "sex-change" surgeries... one might say that someone who wants suicide is seeking to have his or her body transformed to correspond to the identity that exists in the mind, that of a dead person.

June 15, 2015

"He really cares about us... He doesn't do it for himself. He does it because he's a true servant."

The Jeb video, released yesterday. Today, Jeb gave his announcement speech. Here, watch it with me:

ADDED: Having watched the whole speech — transcript here — I'll just pick out the 4 lines that jumped out at me:

1. "It comes down to a choice between the Little Sisters and Big Brother, and I’m going with the Sisters."

2. "But we don’t need a glorified tourist to go to Havana in support of a failed Cuba. We need an American president to go to Havana in solidarity with a free Cuban people, and I am ready to be that president."

3. "Whatever else I might or might not have going for me, I’ve got the quiet joy of a man who can say that the most wonderful friend he has in the world is his own wife."

4. "And not a one of us deserves the job by right of resume, party, seniority, family, or family narrative. It’s nobody’s turn. It’s everybody’s test, and it’s wide open – exactly as a contest for president should be."

Why did the Clinton campaign exclude the pool reporter?

Various news organizations share reporting by having a pool of reporters who take turns covering the day with the campaign, and the assumption is that the reporter who is that day's pool reporter will get access. But today's reporter David Martosko, the U.S. political editor for The Daily Mail, was denied access.

The campaign is being obscure about why, but I notice that 3 days ago, Martosko had an article in The Daily Mail titled "EXCLUSIVE: Shock poll shows Hillary is running BEHIND Republicans in battleground states as she prepares do-over for sputtering campaign with New York City speech."

50 years ago today: Bob Dylan begins recording "Like a Rolling Stone."

"I guess I was going to quit singing. I was very drained," he said.
"I was playing a lot of songs I didn’t want to play. I was singing words I didn’t really want to sing. I don’t mean words like ‘God’ and ‘mother’ and ‘President’ and ‘suicide’ and ‘meat cleaver.’ I mean simple little words like ‘if’ and ‘hope’ and ‘you.’... I didn’t care anymore after that about writing books or poems or whatever.”...

... Dylan initially regarded "Like a Rolling Stone" as a sort of writing exercise... “It was 10 pages long. It wasn’t called anything, just a rhythm thing on paper all about my steady hatred directed at some point that was honest... In the end it wasn’t hatred, it was telling someone something they didn’t know, telling them they were lucky. Revenge, that’s a better word. I had never thought of it as a song, until one day I was at the piano, and on the paper it was singing, 'How does it feel?' in a slow motion pace, in the utmost of slow motion.”...

[T]he arrangement proved stubbornly elusive, coming together during a series of attempts conducted under the supervision of producer Tom Wilson on June 15 and 16, 1965. Initially attempting to play it as a waltz, with Dylan leading at the piano, the band ended the first day after a handful of fruitless takes....
And then Al Kooper, who was a guitar player, took over at the organ. He remembers: “There I was, just B.S.’ing my way through playing the organ.”

Meanwhile, speaking of "President"...  just last weekend, Prince played a private show at the White House to an elite crowd of 500.

At the Compass Café...


... find your way in.

On the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the Supreme Court talks about the Magna Carta.

"The Great Charter is now an octocentenarian. The document that laid a legal cornerstone for thousands of judicial systems was sealed on June 15, 1215...."

From today's Kerry v. Dinblogged in some detail here — Justice Scalia (joined by the Chief and Justice Thomas) wrote:
The Due Process Clause has its origin in Magna Carta.

Rachel Dolezal resigns as president of the N.A.A.C.P. chapter in Spokane.

The NYT reports:
“It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the N.A.A.C.P. that I step aside from the presidency and pass the baton to my vice president, Naima Quarles-Burnley,” Rachel A. Dolezal said in a statement that was posted to the chapter’s Facebook page.

It was not clear whether Ms. Dolezal would also give up her part-time teaching position in African-American studies at Eastern Washington University, or her membership on the Spokane police ombudsman’s commission.
Here's the Facebook post:
Please know I will never stop fighting for human rights and will do everything in my power to help and assist, whether it means stepping up or stepping down, because this is not about me. It's about justice. This is not me quitting; this is a continuum. It's about moving the cause of human rights and the Black Liberation Movement along the continuum from Resistance to Chattel Slavery to Abolition to Defiance of Jim Crow to the building of Black Wall Street to the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement to the ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ movement and into a future of self-determination and empowerment.

With much love and a commitment to always fight for what is right and good in this world,

Rachel Dolezal

Obama poses with the Presidents.

I like!

Today's Kerry v. Din underscores the prediction that Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision will NOT rest on a due-process "right to marry."

The same-sex marriage case is yet to be decided, and I have already indicated — analyzing the oral argument — that I think the Court will use equal protection (and not due process) to find that same-sex couples cannot be excluded from the government's recognition of marriage.

Today's case — analyzed at some length in the previous post — reinforces this prediction. In Kerry v. Din, there was a question about the fundamental liberty interest in marriage within the meaning of the Due Process Clause, and that interest was rejected by 3 members of the Court — Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas — and accepted by 4 members of the Court — Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Then there were the 4th and 5th votes — Kennedy and Alito. These 2 didn't want to answer that question and just said that assuming there is a fundamental liberty interest, the government gave all the process that was due.

So, Kennedy and Alito reveal a resistance to the topic of the fundamental liberty interest in marriage. They find it particularly difficult somehow or they worry about the repercussions if that aspect of due process is nailed down with a majority opinion. They search for other ways to resolve the case.

And, in fact, in the same-sex marriage case, it was apparent at oral argument that the equal protection ground was a less complicated way to find the right in question. (And only by finding a right can you avoid the other ground.)

If you go back to the post about the oral argument in the same-sex marriage case (Obergefell v. Hodges), you'll see that the Solicitor General's brief only used the equal protection ground, but Justice Kennedy tried to get the SG to talk about the due process/right to marry ground:
I'm interested in your comments on Glucksberg, which says what we should have to define a fundamental right in its narrowest terms. A lot of the questions that... we're asking your colleague in the earlier part of the argument... had that in mind, I think. What... do we do with the language of Glucksberg that says we have to define it in a narrow way?
In today's Kerry v. Din, Justice Scalia relies heavily on Glucksberg (which rejected a right to physician-assisted suicide), and Justice Kennedy's concurring opinion never mentioned it. Kennedy seems to be struggling with the idea of letting go of Glucksberg's narrow approach, and in the same-sex marriage case, the Equal Protection Clause avoids the subject. The Solicitor General's response to the invitation to talk about Glucksberg was no, "this issue really sounds in equal protection."

ADDED: My favorite Scalia quote, from that other right-to-die case, Cruzan:
Are there, then, no reasonable and humane limits that ought not to be exceeded in requiring an individual to preserve his own life? There obviously are, but they are not set forth in the Due Process Clause... Our salvation is the Equal Protection Clause, which requires the democratic majority to accept for themselves and their loved ones what they impose on you and me.

Intense anticipation this morning at the Supreme Court. UPDATE: Reading Kerry v. Din.

"We have sixteen minutes until 10 am, when the Court will start to release opinions," says SCOTUSblog, live blogging from the Court.

UPDATE: There are 3 cases, but it's Kerry v. Din (PDF) that most interests me because it has a right-to-marry angle:
Respondent Fauzia Din petitioned to have her husband, Kanishka Berashk, a resident citizen of Afghanistan and former civil servant in the Taliban regime, classified as an “immediate relative” entitled to priority immigration status. Din’s petition was approved, but Berashk’s visa application was ultimately denied. A consular officer informed Berashk that he was inadmissible under §1182(a)(3)(B), which excludes aliens who have engaged in “[t]errorist activities,” but the officer provided no further information. Unable to obtain a more detailed explanation for Berashk’s visa denial, Din filed suit in Federal District Court, which dismissed her complaint. The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that Din had a protected liberty interest in her marriage that entitled her to review of the denial of Berashk’s visa. It further held that the Government deprived her of that liberty interest without due process when it denied Berashk’s visa application without providing a more detailed explanation of its reasons.
The Supreme Court vacates the 9th Circuit's judgement:
SCALIA, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, J., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which ALITO, J., joined. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined.
ADDED:  Justice Scalia, writing for himself and the Chief Justice and Justice Thomas, rejects the notion that there is a fundamental liberty interest within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment in living together with one's spouse:

Dave Chappelle says Rachel Dolezal is "highlighting the difference between personal feeling and what’s construct as far as racism is concerned."

"The thing that the media’s gotta be real careful about, that they’re kind of overlooking, is the emotional context of what she means. There’s something that’s very nuanced where she’s highlighting the difference between personal feeling and what’s construct as far as racism is concerned. I don’t know what her agenda is, but there’s an emotional context for black people when they see her and white people when they see her. There’s a lot of feelings that are going to come out behind what’s happening with this lady. And she’s just a person, no matter how we feel about her.... I’m probably not going to do any jokes about her or any references to her for awhile 'cause that’s going to be a lot of comedians doing a lot. And I’m sure her rebuttal will be illuminating. Like, once she’s had time to process it and kind of get her wind back and get her message together."

Well put!

As you can tell by clicking on my Rachel Dolezal tag, I've been taking Dolezal seriously and pushing back on those who've gone straight to mockery, but I did just want to say that I just noticed — as I typed in my racial politics tag — "Rachel" sounds very much like "racial."

Racial politics ≈ Rachel politics.

"He was the only man I’ve ever seen who could wear plaid shorts and pull it off. Men shouldn’t wear shorts in the first place."

"The British lost their empire once they started letting colonial officers wear shorts. Who can take orders from a man in shorts?"

Said Tom Wolfe, quoted in the New York Magazine piece "Our Bodies, Ourselves/Running, Jumping, Dancing, Stretching, Smoking: New Yorkers Cough Up Their Fitness Secrets (And Lapses)." The bit about shorts came in the context of naming his favorite part of his own body:
“The gastrocnemius. It’s one of the larger muscles in your calves. It’s well-proportioned.” Body envy: "The one I’ve admired most was Ken Buchanan. He was the lightweight champion of the world from Scotland, and I watched him at Madison Square Garden."
Buchanan is the "he" in the quote in the post title.

[ADDED: What follows is based on my assumption that an article that New York Magazine promoted in its sidebar to me today was a new article. No date is displayed to ward off this assumption. However, the assumption is wrong.]

Also... note to New York Magazine: Fran Lebowitz is not 52. I don't care how much she exercises or how that ultimately makes her look, she's 64, just like me. I remember reading her books in the 1970s. I remember reading her columns in Mademoiselle before those books came out. If she's trying to "pass" as 12 years younger, it won't work on those of us who've done our time in the preceding decades... or did I miss a cultural leap and — like gender and race — you are what you say you are? Not that I think Lebowitz claims to be 52. I think NY Magazine screwed up. And also "you're as young as you feel" is an old old saying. Speaking of 64, 64 years ago there was a movie called "As Young As Your Feel":

That's Marilyn on the cover, but she only has a small role. Here's the whole movie at YouTube. Scroll to 17:00 to see the forever-young goddess. How did Marilyn Monroe keep in shape? I don't know but in 1952, Pageant magazine published an article titled "How I Stay in Shape, By Marilyn Monroe."
I don't know who wrote this, but I doubt if it was Marilyn Monroe, and hardly a word of it rings true, but the idea that there's a way to "feel blond all over" could key into today's obsession with transracialism:

Mitt Romney steps up to the role of keeping Republicans from attacking Republicans.

From yesterday's "Meet the Press":
CHUCK TODD: There have been some reports that you and Sheldon Adelson, the big, Las Vegas casino mogul, that you want to avoid a repeat of the primary chaos you went through in 2012. What does that mean? What was the chaos of 2012 that you don't want to see repeated for the Republican field in 2016?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I think that's a comment I'll make very broadly, which is I think it's harmful in a process if you have Republicans attacking Republicans. And so I think it's very effective if instead we can talk about the differences between our views to help people in the middle class and help the poor versus the views in our opposition, as opposed to going after one another. And I'm not saying I was perfect in that regard either. But going back to Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment, that kinda makes a lot of sense for our party.
Embedded in Romney's answer is an assumption that Republicans did go too far attacking Republicans in the 2012 primaries and unwisely burdened the Romney campaign. When you think about that now, what do you remember? What hurt him? What stifling of vigorous debate would — in retrospect — have been a better idea? I have trouble calling to mind anything specific. I asked Meade, and he came right up with this:

By the way, Reagan's "Eleventh Commandment" has its own Wikipedia page:

Taking "transblack" seriously.

"Alyson Hobbs, who literally wrote the book on 'racial passing,' said there’s 'certainly a chance that she identifies as a black woman and there could be authenticity to that.'"

ADDED: Hobbs — whose first name is misspelled in that quote (it should be Allyson) — wrote a NYT op-ed that was published a couple days after she got this publicity. I blog that op-ed here.

June 14, 2015

"It was an unbelievably stupid thing to say. You can see why it could be taken as offensive if you didn’t know Tim."

"But really it was just part of his upbringing. He went to a single-sex school in the 1960s. Nevertheless he is not sexist. I am a feminist, and I would not have put up with him if he were sexist."

From "Tim Hunt: ‘I’ve been hung out to dry. They haven’t even bothered to ask for my side of affairs’/In an exclusive interview Tim Hunt and his wife Professor Mary Collins tell how their lives fell apart after his quip about women in science went viral on Twitter."

Water lilies.


Yesterday in the misty afternoon on on Lake Wingra.

"Climb out of the woodwork babe from 40 years ago. The climate’s great in Britain now for making loads of dough."

"You’ve festered down there long enough, time’s right to grab your chance. Clap eyes on a rich celebrity and make the bastard dance."

After the flood, a hippo wanders in the streets of Tbilisi.

Six lions, six tigers, seven bears, one hippo and 13 wolves escaped the zoo" in the capital of Georgia.

"I never called him Prince because I wanted him to be a person to me, not the man behind Purple Rain."

"Plus, technically, I was married to the Symbol. Our house was full of them, but I just couldn’t say the word. When we got married it was much easier. If someone else was there I could say, 'Could I speak to my husband please?'"
Neither did they ever go out on a date. 'I doubt any woman ever has... he’s not really a cinema kinda guy," she says...

"When I was with him he always wore these little stiletto heels – I don’t know what size he was but I could put my feet into his shoes. But I never felt his insecurity in height... We last spoke about five years ago when I reached out to him. There is no animosity or bad blood, and he was my husband and the father of my child. So although I am not actively in love with him, I will always love him – he’s a great guy."
(The child died a week after he was born.)

ADDED: She could have called him Art, short for The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. Or Girlfriend, for "If I Was Your Girlfriend."

"Isn't that pretty similar to what Jeb Bush did, when he filled out a form calling himself Hispanic after marrying a Hispanic woman?"

Asks Jaltcoh, noting that "According to this article, she had several black family members who weren't related by blood, including her husband. And then she started calling herself black." He adds:
And who's more important: Jeb Bush, or Rachel Dolezal? Jeb Bush has a good shot at being president. As far as I can tell, Rachel Dolezal isn't important at all. Why is the internet focusing all this attention on Rachel Dolezal?
Someone responds, "Because the whole thing is comical," and he says — quite aptly — "I don't find it that comical for the internet to try to destroy an obscure person's reputation. I'd find it more comical to make fun of a presidential candidate."

"If one doesn't read books for a long time... sooner or later one's mind will be conquered by other things."

In China, state media exhorts government officials to read in order to develop their "quality of character, world view, values, and understanding of power." Without reading, their "spirits flag, their thinking become shallower, and even go down the road of corruption and crime."

"It is the field against the course, and the people who created the course and maintain and set up the course are their opponents."

"So when you look at it, myself and Mike Davis are like goalkeepers. I’m the composer, Mike Davis is the conductor and the players will play the music."

Said  Robert Trent Jones Jr., the architect of Chambers Bay, where the U.S. Open will be played. Mike Davis is the USGA executive director, who is in charge of setting up the course for the tournament, setting up the pin placements and tee boxes and so forth. Some players are complaining about the place.
“The reports back [from fellow players] are [it's] a complete farce,” said Ian Poulter, who had not yet been to the course. “I guess someone has to win.”

Henrik Stenson, who walked the course, called it “a tricked-up links course.’’...

“This is a new work and they’re not comfortable with it, because they haven’t seen it before,’’ Jones said. “I saw Tiger [Woods] on the course for two days. Phil Mickelson has been out here. Where are the guys who are complaining? They should be out here. I believe that the players should just hunker down and play … put on their big-boy britches and play."

"Rachel Dolezal supporting victim who accused her brother of child molestation, suggests parents outed her as white in retaliation."

The Daily News reports:
Joshua Dolezal, 39, was charged in 2013 with four felony counts of sex abuse of a victim who was a minor at the time, sources and court records confirmed....

Dolezal declined to speak with The News on Saturday but previously suggested the timing of her white Montana-based parents’ media interviews about her racial identity was somehow connected to the Colorado case — and designed to damage her credibility.
I'd refrain from plugging the Dolezal story into whatever ideological narratives you might have on hand. This is a specific story about an individual, and we're only beginning to see the layers. Or... I have to admit that kind of is my go-to ideological narrative.

"Hey, ladies and gentlemen. I love you, but I think I just broke my leg. I really broke my leg.”

"Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl said he broke his leg during a performance in Sweden Friday — and finished the rock concert while sitting down and wearing a bandage."

Thank you Gothenburg. That was amazing.

A photo posted by Foo Fighters (@foofighters) on