Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Singapore Sling, it don't mean a thing

Nominalists and idealists might do well to choose the Singapore Sling as an example in their discussions, as it seems to TBA to be a drink that no two people make the same way. We've been known to spend a weekend ordering it in every bar we visit in NOLA, and getting a different drink every time.

Stumbling on the Esquire magazine Drinks Database (not a compendious collection by any means), we find yet another recipe we hadn't seen:

Singapore Sling

1 ounce London dry gin
1 ounce Kirschwasser
1 ounce Benedictine
club soda

Glass Type: Collins glass


Stir well with 2 or 3 ice cubes in a chilled cocktail shaker, then pour unstrained into a Collins glass and fill to taste with cold club soda or seltzer. Garnish with the spiral-cut peel of a lime.
The lime peel looks nasty in the picture, and the ice cubes give us pause, but this is at least the simplest Singapore Sling we've seen. Most recipes we've seen call for cherry heering, not Kirschwasser, so we will have to give that a try.

... NMC in comments finds the same confusion. I should note, however, that one blog reports that David Wondrich, presumably the author of the above recipe, published something different in Esquire Drinks, but with much more plausible proportions ... AND with Heering not kirschwasser???:
2 oz London dry gin
1/2 oz Cherry Heering cherry brandy
1/2 oz Bénédictine

Stir all well with 2-3 ice cubes, pour unstrained into highball glass, and fill to taste with club soda (or ginger beer, if you're of a mind to).
I really wasn't buying the entire ounce of Benedictine, but now I'm of a mind to e-mail Wondrich and ask what gives.

Infantile tastes

Apparently, of the top-10 highest-grossing films of 2010 (I'm guessing this is U.S. & Canada, not world), only one, Inception, was not actually a movie made for children. No, I am not considering Iron Man 2 an adult film, however much I enjoyed it.

By contrast, 5 of 2009's top 10 were at least theoretically adult films (even if counting Avatar is questionable).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Judicial notice?

Sundown v. Tex. Dep't of Crim. Justice, Civ. No. H-07-1441 (S.D. Tex. Apr. 16, 2008):
The Constitution persists in requiring that the state not interfere with prisoners freely exercising their religions except as a direct, reasonably necessary, spiritually neutral consequence of its meeting other responsibilities. Prisons do not have unlimited space or guards for an infinite number of religious ceremonies. Religions prescribe days of the week and hours of the day as well as diets and dress. Those are addressed to civil society under normal circumstances. Nobody went to hell for missing Temple during the Blitz or not resting on the Sabbath during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
With all respect to the honorable Court: how does it know?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Books for Christmas

A nice thing about gift cards for Xmas is you don't have to wait for the stores to open ....

James J. Sheehan, German History 1770-1866. The exciting prequel to Gordon Craig's Germany 1866-1945!

Ammianus Marcellinus, The Later Roman Empire (AD 354-378). The last great (well, kinda) Roman historian, mostly on the reign of Julian.

Averil Cameron, The Later Roman Empire. Sorry, Ammianus, you can't copyright a title.

Cicero, On Obligations & The Nature of the Gods. Philosophers glean clues about earlier philosophy from Cicero's books while denigrating him as derivative, which seems ungrateful. But I'm as interested in these for his incidental remarks on his contemporaries as for the substance.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

FUCKING Dolphins, man.

Thank you, Chad "Interception" Henne.

Because after losing to the Bills at home, losing to the Lions at home is just that much easier.

(... And what were the Jets thinking exactly, punting down 4 points with only 5:00 left in the game? Normally of course I'm happy to see the Jets lose, but it's not like I have the FUCKING Dolphins to pull for in the playoffs.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What the Dickens?

Hillary Keith complains about Oprah's book-club picks:
She has asked millions of people to follow her into some of the more difficult prose to come out of the nineteenth century ....
Goodness, not Moby-Dick! Or Sartor Resartus? The Sacred Fount?

-- No. A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations.

Give me a fucking break. How is Keith measuring "difficult prose"? She mentions "complicated syntax." Oh my word.

And this Keith person is "assistant editor" of TNR's book review page.

Via Bookslut.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Proof that DFW edited Infinite Jest

Newsweek posts some material that David Foster Wallace cut from Infinite Jest; I dunno how significant it is to someone who hasn't read the book, but I found it interesting (and not facially clear as to why any of it was cut).

Via the Paris Review blog.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

"Is Batman a State Actor?"

And if so, do they not have 42 USC 1983 in Gotham?

I'm glad someone is raising these questions.

... And related issues.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A conversation about Heinrich Böll

Jessa Crispin corresponds with a publisher who's bringing Heinrich Böll back into print in English translation. Good stuff. I can second Crispin on Billiards at Half Past Nine, which very quickly becomes more interesting than you think it's going to be.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thus flagged Anderson

Real life has begun to impinge upon TBA to an unprecedented extent, and it appears the best course is to suspend this occasionally humble blog indefinitely.

Many thanks to our 7.3 readers who disregarded the warning quotation from Montaigne in the sidebar. We commend to you the various blogs linked thereunder.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

O'Donnell shocks audience with having read at least part of Constitution

Christine O'Donnell had a campus debate with her Democratic opponent:
"Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?" an incredulous O'Donnell asks her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons. The audience is heard laughing in the background. "Let me just clarify, you're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?"

"Government shall make no establishment of religion," Coons responds.

"That's in the First Amendment," O'Donnell says.
O'Donnell is, of course, correct; the First Amendment does not say "separation of church and state."

She's weaker on the later amendments however:
Later, O'Donnell was asked if she would support repealing the 14th, 16th and 17th amendments. She knew the 17th Amendment, but could not remember the others. "I'm sorry, I didn't bring my Constitution with me… Fortunately, senators don't have to memorize the Constitution. Remind me of what the other ones are."
It's good she knew the 17th, since it's why she has even a snowball's chance in hell of becoming a U.S. senator.

The AP story gives some amusing commentary:
Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.

"You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp," Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O'Donnell's grasp of the Constitution.
Political scientists don't have to memorize the Constitution either, I gather.

This will be all over the conservative blogs as a "gotcha." Rightly so, I'm afraid.

... The Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment's Establishment Clause does amount to "a separation of church and state." Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709, 719 (2005) (Ginsburg, J.). Justice Thomas's concurrence in that case disagrees:
Congress need not observe strict separation between church and state, or steer clear of the subject of religion. It need only refrain from making laws “respecting an establishment of religion”; it must not interfere with a state establishment of religion.
So O'Donnell should not be any more, or less, shocking than Clarence Thomas.

Maybe it evolved from his BMW?

North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre apparently can't remember who exactly gave him a dark blue 2010 Porsche Panamera.
... But come now, haven't we all sometimes forgotten where one of our Porsches came from?

(Political Wire.)

-- As NMC points out, people like Mayor Pierre are why Janis Joplin needed a Mercedes.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Art World Relieved As Thieves Steal Pretty Terrible Late Period Renoir Work"

CHICAGO — The art world let out a collective sigh of relief Tuesday when it was announced that thieves had made off with one of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's more god-awful late-period paintings, 1919's The Great Bathers (The Nymphs). "The palette was too rosy, the brushstrokes were something out of a college art class, and Renoir's gift for capturing his subject's inner mystery seemed to have completely abandoned him--in short, it was garbage and I'm glad it's gone," said Malcolm Stewart, a curator at the Art Institute of Chicago, which has done little to assist the police in their investigation. "This is the best thing to happen to Renoir's oeuvre since he painted his impressionist classic The Umbrellas, which was actually an inspired piece of art and not just decorative schlock." Stewart added that he wanted the thieves to know that Renoir's 1910 painting Jean As Huntsman could currently be viewed in the museum's front lobby next to several easily accessible exits.
... Actually, I think it is (was?) in Philadelphia, not Chicago.

Not a great painting, but I've always liked the playful figure on the right.

Or did The Onion mean this one?

'Cause yeah, that one sucks. Though it's in Philly as well. And 1918, not 1919.

Torture for fun *and* profit

We've often had occasion to report on the doings of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the architects of the American torture program. Their theory of "learned helplessness" derived in some part from the teachings of the respected psychologist Martin Seligman, a former APA president, who has "denied any involvement in the program, insisting that his contacts with Mitchell and Jessen were innocent."

Thus Scott Horton, who picks up on some news about Seligman: He's had a $31 million Pentagon contract dropped in his lap.
Army contracting documents show that nobody else was allowed to bid on the resilience-training contract because “there is only one responsible source due to a unique capability provided, and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements.” And yet, Salon was able to identify resilience training experts at other institutions around the country, including the University of Maryland and the Mayo Clinic. In fact, in 2008 the Marine Corps launched a project with UCLA to conduct resilience training for Marines and their families at nine military bases across the United States and in Okinawa, Japan.
As Horton says, "it is becoming easier to understand APA’s awkward silence and inaction on the issue of psychologists involved in torture and acts of official cruelty."

Meanwhile, Dr. Seligman's most recent books appear to be Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment and (with a co-author) Character Strengths and Virtues.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"why did florida put brantley back in"

Your search - "why did florida put brantley back in" - did not match any documents.


•Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
•Try different keywords.
•Try more general keywords.
•Try fewer keywords.
•Examine Urban Meyer's brain for tumors or injuries.
... Really, after that scoring drive after the half, I thought Florida had figured its game out. Apparently not.

Mississippi State is now The Best Bad Team in the SEC.

What do bears rebel against, actually?

Picking up I guess on the tenuous Faulkner connection, Michael Schaub at Bookslut notes the Ole Miss mascot change:
Speaking of Southern cities that I love, some quasi-literary news out of Oxford, Mississippi: Ole Miss is changing their mascot from "Colonel Reb," a faux-Southern anachronism who looked like he started every sentence with "I do declare" and used frighteningly out-of-date terms for African Americans, to the "Rebel Black Bear," named in honor of a short story by William Faulkner. The school's sports teams will still be called the Rebels, but there's signs of increased tolerance in the Magnolia State. Just consider one of the other finalists for the new mascot:

In a university poll . . . 42% liked Hotty Toddy, a muscular human who would serve as a symbol of their school's pride.

A muscular, proud human named "Hotty Toddy." So the big tough SEC school almost ended up with a mascot that the University of Fire Island and Cal State-West Hollywood both rejected as "too gay." Oh, Mississippi, you confuse me, but I love you.
TBA still thinks Admiral Ackbar would've been ideal for the Rebels. Certainly would've made Ole Miss's mascot The Most Diverse As Fuck Mascot Ever.

A fractal career

Benoît Mandelbrot has died, age 85.
When asked to look back on his career, Dr. Mandelbrot compared his own trajectory to the rough outlines of clouds and coastlines that drew him into the study of fractals in the 1950s.

“If you take the beginning and the end, I have had a conventional career,” he said, referring to his prestigious appointments in Paris and at Yale. “But it was not a straight line between the beginning and the end. It was a very crooked line.”
Wikipedia gives us a concise definition of his famous set:
The Mandelbrot set is a mathematical set of points in the complex plane, the boundary of which forms a fractal. The Mandelbrot set is the set of complex values of c for which the orbit of 0 under iteration of the complex quadratic polynomial zn+1 = zn2 + c remains bounded. That is, a complex number, c, is in the Mandelbrot set if, when starting with z0 = 0 and applying the iteration repeatedly, the absolute value of zn never exceeds a certain number (that number depends on c) however large n gets. * * *

When computed and graphed on the complex plane the Mandelbrot set is seen to have an elaborate boundary which, being a fractal, does not simplify at any given magnification.
"Does not simplify at any given magnification" is, I think, as good a precis of modern life as any.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I know they can *vote* in Chicago, but still ....

Mississippi Supreme Court justice, and Fifth Circuit nominee, James Graves spends 20 pages explaining why it's perfectly all right for a dead person to file a lawsuit.

Fortunately, it's a dissent.

Unfortunately, two other justices signed on.

Now he tells us

General Hugh Shelton, chair of the Joint Chiefs 1997-2001, has a memoir out:
His bottom line: "President Bush and his team got us enmeshed in Iraq based on extraordinarily poor intelligence and a series of lies purporting that we had to protect American from Saddam's evil empire because it posed such a threat to our national security." (474-475)

Just in case you weren't paying attention, he elaborates on that charge later in the book. "Spinning the possible possession of WMDs as a threat to the United States in the way they did is, in my opinion, tantamount to intentionally deceiving the American people." (488)
Thanks for waiting until 2010 to share, General.

Tom Ricks has more posts on Shelton's book here and here. Shelton does not admire Rumsfeld.

An easy win

O'Donnell debated Coons in the DE Senate race, and probably "won" by not falling apart. Her repair campaign seems to be working in some quarters:
While Mr. Coons had broader range on issues and current events, he sometimes seemed mean-spirited. When Ms. O’Donnell asked whether a company he was connected to would benefit from the clean energy bill, he scoffed, “It was difficult for me to understand from her question what she was talking about.”

That could just serve to reinforce Ms. O’Donnell’s image, which has had deep resonance this election season — that of an ordinary person trying to bring common sense to Washington.

That appealed to Alexandra Gawel, 23, a sociology major at the university who has worked her way through college as a waitress.

“She is someone I can relate to,” Ms. Gawel said, outside the debate hall in the late afternoon. “She’s not had everything handed to her.”
Sociology? My goodness. Maybe Ms. Gawel can do a senior thesis on the quasi-religious character of how we evaluate candidates for public office.

But really, whoever her handlers are, they are lazy folk:
She stumbled when asked what recent Supreme Court decision she most objected to, asking first for some examples, and then saying, “I’m sorry, I’ll put it up on my Web site, I promise.”
Uh, hello? Didn't Katie Couric ask Sarah Palin that, in the most infamous interview of living memory? O'Donnell should've been ready for every question Katie asked, including which newspapers she reads.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

He forgot that the Eskimo child needs 8 glasses of water a day.

I am outraged that no one in Washington is concerned that a gun in the home of the 1 in 110 Eskimo children with autism who have 28 words for snow and are kidnapped 50,000 times a year is 42 times as likely to kill a member of the home who is divorced (as half of once married people are) and needs a computer that doubles in speed every 18 months in order to compensate for using only 10% of his brain supplied by the diminishing 20% of oxygen that comes from rain forests! It’s no wonder that U.S. companies spend 50 billion dollars a year teaching reading and math when Sex Panther works all the time 60% of the time! In closing, I summarize my message simply: My friends, one is indeed the loneliest number.
-- Keith Humphreys on "vampire numbers."

Mississippi, the blue state

Blue on this scale, anyway.
The latest stats from the dating/hook-up site, OK Cupid, find almost no gay users looking to hook up with straights, and a geography (see above) of sexual curiosity. The bluer the region the fewer the straight users interested in a same-sex experience.
Mississippi is not difficult to find on this map:

TBA must confess to inbred conservatism here.

(And, as Sullyblog asks, "What's up with Oregon?")

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Well, "one top Democratic staffer," anyway

Kevin Drum finds conclusive proof that the Democrats are dumber than bricks:
... some of President Obama's allies have begun to question his sustained attack on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has long claimed bipartisanship but is being increasingly identified as a GOP ally. * * *

"The White House may reap the whirlwind," said one top Democratic staffer. "What are we going to do next year if a Republican Congress is making baseless claims about President Obama?"

Monday, October 11, 2010

All press is good press, right?

German readers can now tsk over the benighted ways of Mississippi:
Eine Gerichtsposse regt die USA auf: Weil ein Anwalt zu Beginn eines Prozesses das Gelöbnis auf die amerikanische Flagge verweigerte, schickte ihn der Richter für fast fünf Stunden ins Gefängnis. Die Empörung darüber ist groß, der Gescholtene zeigt sich uneinsichtig.

Tupelo - Wenn Richter Talmadge Littlejohn seinen Gerichtssaal in Tupelo, Mississippi betritt, erwartet er Respekt. Auch für die amerikanische Flagge. Doch als er am Mittwochmorgen die Anwesenden bat, das Treuegelöbnis auf Fahne und Nation zu sprechen, blieb ein Mann im Saal still. Littlejohn forderte den Anwalt Danny Lampley auf, den Eid ebenfalls aufzusagen. Aber der schwieg beharrlich. Für den Richter ein klarer Fall von Missachtung des Gerichts - er schickte Lampley hinter Gitter. * * *

Im Jahr 1943 hatte der Oberste Gerichtshof der USA entschieden, dass Schulkinder das Gelöbnis nicht sprechen müssen. Dieses Urteil wird meist so interpretiert, dass generell niemand gezwungen werden kann, das Treuegelöbnis zu leisten.
Thanks for the international attention, Judge!

Obama gets the book thrown at him.

Via Political Wire, here's a photo of a book being hurled at Obama during a rally:

Can't tell what it is, but thankfully it's not Atlas Shrugged, which would've elevated a mere prank into assault with a deadly dull weapon.

Click through for the story, including the possibly unrelated naked man.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Death of an ethicist

We are belated in noting the death of Philippa Foot, mainly out of sheer ignorance about her. Kenneth Anderson, who has better taste than any other boot-licking enthusiast for unlimited executive power in my cognizance, has a nice appreciation. And the NYT obit (via 3QD) gives some notion as to her importance:
In her early work, notably in the essays “Moral Beliefs” and “Moral Arguments,” published in the late 1950s, Ms. Foot took issue with philosophers like R. M. Hare and Charles L. Stevenson, who maintained that moral statements were ultimately expressions of attitude or emotion, because they could not be judged true or false in the same way factual statements could be.

Ms. Foot countered this “private-enterprise theory,” as she called it, by arguing the interconnectedness of facts and moral interpretations. Further, she insisted that virtues like courage, wisdom and temperance are indispensable to human life and the foundation stones of morality. Her writing on the subject helped establish virtue ethics as a leading approach to the study of moral problems.

“She’s going to be remembered not for a particular view or position, but for changing the way people think about topics,” said Lawrence Solum, who teaches the philosophy of law at the University of Illinois and studied under Ms. Foot. “She made the moves that made people see things in a fundamentally new way. Very few people do that in philosophy.”
The obit goes on to discuss her notorious contribution to ethical philosophy, The Trolley Problem.

As her maiden name was Bosanquet, and she like the philosopher Bernard Bosanquet was English, it beggars imagination that the two were completely unrelated, but I find nothing on point.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Good clean SS fun, that's all

You don't have to dress up like a Nazi or celebrate the SS to be a GOP candidate and "Tea Party favorite," but it's evidently not any kind of disqualification, either:

Second from right there is Rich Iott, running for a House seat in Ohio, who enjoys "re-enacting the exploits of an actual Nazi division, the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, which fought mainly on the Eastern Front during World War II."

The actual Wiking unit has a history as grisly as that of other Nazi divisions. In her book "The Death Marches of Hungarian Jews Through Austria in the Spring of 1945," Eleonore Lappin, the noted Austrian historian, writes that soldiers from the Wiking division were involved in the killing of Hungarian Jews in March and April 1945, before surrendering to American forces in Austria.

"What you often hear is that the [Wiking] division was never formally accused of anything, but that's kind of a dodge," says Prof. Rob Citino, of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas, who examined the Wiking website. "The entire German war effort in the East was a racial crusade to rid the world of 'subhumans,' Slavs were going to be enslaved in numbers of tens of millions. And of course the multimillion Jewish population of Eastern Europe was going to be exterminated altogether. That's what all these folks were doing in the East.
Iott quit three years ago, "after his son lost interest." The group has a website with a justification of their interest:
Nazi Germany had no problem in recruiting the multitudes of volunteers willing to lay down their lives to ensure a "New and Free Europe", free of the threat of Communism. National Socialism was seen by many in Holland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and other eastern European and Balkan countries as the protector of personal freedom and their very way of life, despite the true underlying totalitarian (and quite twisted, in most cases) nature of the movement. Regardless, thousands upon thousands of valiant men died defending their respective countries in the name of a better tomorrow. We salute these idealists; no matter how unsavory the Nazi government was, the front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS (in particular the foreign volunteers) gave their lives for their loved ones and a basic desire to be free.
Three of four of those named countries were, of course, conquered and subjected to Nazi Germany. Perhaps this casts some light on the "freedom" so dear to the Tea Party?

... Some of the comments at the Atlantic link are a hoot:
Once he's elected, no doubt Iott will be able to use his knowledge and re-enactment of Wiking history to help him bring some good, clear thinking to the debate on health care.

After all, the first medical officer for the Wiking Division was that internationally famous expert on fair and balanced health care -- Dr. Josef Mengele.


Well we will see his ad very soon

I'm not a Nazi
I'm you


Someone has to quote Walter Sobchak here.
"Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, but at least it's an ethos."

Why can't Obama argue?

Michael Tomasky on what's wrong with Obama:
Once again, as was the case after September 11, and as has so often been the case recently in American politics, the Republicans have succeeded in branding the Democrats as not merely elitist but somehow alien and un-American, and the Democrats, from the President on down, have had almost nothing to say about it. One had thought, watching Obama’s well-run presidential campaign, in which his team responded to most attacks quickly and efficiently, that the Democrats would not let themselves be so misrepresented again. But here we are.

My own answer to the question of how things got this bad has less to do with whether Obama should have been more liberal or more centrist than with his and his party’s apparent inability, or perhaps refusal, to offer broad and convincing arguments about their central beliefs that counter those of the Republicans. This problem goes back to the Reagan years. It is a failure that many Democrats and liberals hoped Obama could change--something he seemed capable of changing during the campaign but has addressed rather poorly once in office.
Word. Tomasky doesn't so much explain the phenomenon as observe it, but it's a damn good question.

Angelo in robes

I've been too busy to read Andrew Sullivan's blog lately, but a Saturday-morning glance yields yet another of those examples I cherish:
[I]n 2006, [Washington State Supreme Court justice Richard B. Sanders] signed an opinion denying marriage equality to gay couples--because they have “more sexual partners” and because other courts have found that monogamy is “the bedrock upon which our culture is built.” Meanwhile, he’s been divorced twice, and this election season it became clear he has multiple simultaneous girlfriends. He doesn’t see anything inconsistent in any of that.
But at least he's not icky, I guess.

Friday, October 08, 2010

I guess Obama wasn't a nominee for this one.

TBA assumes its readers already know who won the Nobel for literature this week. Paris Review notes the event and has put up its 1990 interview with Vargas Llosa. I don't envy the Nobel committee its job, but it's sobering that V.L. is just now winning when they've been giving the prize away to pretty much any weirdo they could find who happens to live in Europe.

Oddly, for someone I haven't read because his work sounds too much like social reportage for my taste, the one book I have read by him is his book on Madame Bovary, which I recall as being very fine indeed, a model of its kind. (Yes, it's Bovary Month at TBA.) There's a little l'art pour l'art in his soul.

O, how our profession hath changed since then!

In the index to Bentham's Works, the entries under "lawyer" include "the only persons in whom ignorance of the Law is not punished," "least of all men exposed to the operations of humanity," "their interest in technical jargon."
-- Asa Briggs, The Age of Improvement 1783-1867, p. 92 n.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

"A mere shadow of freedom" -- yep, that's what we got here

Some days I pause a moment to read the quotation from Justice Jackson that I've posted above my desk:
To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. We can have intellectual individualism and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the State as those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.
-- West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, June 14, 1943.

... And y'know, the word still hasn't gotten out to everyone:
BE IT REMEMBERED, this date, the Court having ordered all present in the courtroom to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegience, and having found that Danny Lampley, Attorney at Law, failed and refused to do so, finds said Danny Lampley to be in criminal contempt of court ... and is hereby ordered to be incarcerated in the Lee County Jail.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED, that Danny Lampley shall purge himself of said criminal contempt by complying with the order of this Court by standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in open court.
NMC witnessed this. The guy was sprung after 5 hours, apparently sans pledge.

I've heard numerous reports lately of berserk chancellors waving the criminal-contempt wand like Mickey Mouse in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." Are the Mississippi Supreme Court and the Commission on Judicial Performance going to do anything about this? Let me check my Magic 8-Ball:

... Here's where you can find a complaint form for the Commission on Judicial Performance.

Being an American requires courage ...

(Via Judge Primeaux.)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Adventures in Constitutional Citation

Article 14, section 263A of the Mississippi Constitution is the amendment defining "marriage" as being "only between a man and a woman." It was enacted in 2004.

Article 14, section 263 of the Mississippi Constitution was the provision voiding a marriage between a white person and a "negro or mulatto" with 1/8 or more of "negro blood." (How Nuremberg can you get?) It was repealed in 1987.

"Endless noise, signifying nothing."

That's what Atlantic journalist-blogger (and war-with-Iran booster) Jeffrey Goldberg found himself getting from Haley Barbour at a "Washington Ideas Forum" which, despite the second word in its name, invited Barbour to speak. "I asked Barbour if he thought the Republicans could have it both ways -- black support and worship of the Confederacy -- at the same time." You can click through for Barbour's responses, if you want to do that to yourself.

Goldberg's conclusion:
The true, spin-free, answer, obviously, is that the Republican Party would rather not risk offending mythopoetic white Southerners by calling the Confederacy what it actually was -- a vast gulag of slavery, murder and rape. As an electoral strategy, it's a fine one -- an immoral one, but a practical one, something that has worked for the Republicans for more than 40 years (though the gains it has made in the South have been tempered by losses in the Northeast and elsewhere). But what I don't understand is why African-Americans, in the south as well as the north, don't simply rise up as a collective and say: No more. That's it. Stop the veneration of evil men.

Just imagine if this discussion was about the Holocaust. Do we really think the world would allow Germany to venerate the Nazis? Well, slavery was the Holocaust of the African-American experience, and yet, here we are, listening to respectable governors of large southern states rationalize the celebration of evil.

I'm so interested in this issue I'm going to keep pursuing it -- the two sides of the issue, actually: The seeming black acquiescence to publicly-endorsed Confederacy-worship, and the reasons some white people -- and their leaders -- feel compelled to perpetuate such worship.
Good luck with that.

The "gulag" reference is one I've thought of. Subdivisions around here are often named "Plantation Pointe" etc. Visiting a black physician and his family in a knockoff Greek Revival mansion, in one such subdivision, I completely lacked the nerve to ask how *that* felt. Not too awful, I gather.

At least, not any more!

Famously, LBJ in an early campaign is said to've directed his manager to spread the rumor that his opponent had committed carnal acts with a pig. "But nobody will believe that," said the manager. "I don't want 'em to believe it," retorted LBJ; "I just want to make that son of a bitch deny it."

Now in 2010, we have the spectacle of the Republican Party's candidate in Delaware for the United States Senate, releasing a TV spot in which she denies being a witch.

(H/t Orin Kerr.)

... TV time is a good idea for O'Donnell; her ease upon the eyes is one of her few assets. OTOH, if one is denying being a witch, is a black dress on a midnight-blue backdrop really the way to go?

Davis v. Wall

We've noted the new Bovary translation by Lydia Davis, which apparently will be replacing the excellent Geoffrey Wall version in Penguin Classics.

I haven't read the Davis version yet, but I wanted to play the translation-review game of picking a passage and comparing the renderings.

Here, Charles's first wife, mortified after some financial irregularity is exposed, departs this earth:
Mais le coup était porté. Huit jours après, comme elle étendait du linge dans sa cour, elle fut prise d’un crachement de sang, et le lendemain, tandis que Charles avait le dos tourné pour fermer le rideau de la fenêtre, elle dit: «Ah! mon Dieu!» poussa un soupir et s’évanouit. Elle était morte! Quel étonnement!

Quand tout fut fini au cimetière, Charles rentra chez lui. Il ne trouva personne en bas; il monta au premier, dans la chambre, vit sa robe encore accrochée au pied de l’alcôve; alors, s’appuyant contre le secrétaire, il resta jusqu’au soir perdu dans une rêverie douloureuse. Elle l’avait aimé, après tout.
This is a good touchstone passage for ruling out some poor translations, that smooth over Flaubert's brutality here. "Elle était morte! Quel étonnement!" is darkly comical. I wish I still had my first copy of the book in translation, which did something awful here.

(What follows is premised on the accuracy of the foregoing text, which is a large assumption; Wall and Davis may've each used a different critical edition.)

But the damage was done. A week later, as she was hanging out the washing in the yard, she had a seizure and spat some blood, and next day, as Charles turned his back to draw the curtains, she said, "Oh! My God!" heaved a sigh and passed out. She was dead! How astonishing!

Once everything was finished down at the cemetery, Charles went home again. There was nobody downstairs; he went upstairs to their room, saw her dress still hanging over the foot of the bed; then, slumped across the escritoire, he stayed until it was night, adrift in a troubled reverie. She had loved him, after all.
But the blow had struck home. A week later, as she was hanging the wash in her yard, she began spitting blood, and the next day, while Charles, his back turned, was at the window closing the curtain, she said: "Oh my God!," sighed, and lost consciousness. She was dead! How astonishing it was!

When everything was over at the cemetery, Charles went back to his house. He found no one downstairs; he went up to the second floor, into the bedroom, saw her dress still hanging at the foot of the alcove; then, leaning on the writing desk, he remained there till evening, lost in a sorrowful reverie. She had loved him, after all.
Wall describes the empty downstairs with "There was nobody"; Davis's following the French gives us the more poignant "He found no one downstairs."

Davis is generally more literal, though both translators make the strange choice of the imprecise "A week later" for Flaubert's "Eight days later."

Wall interprets her as having a seizure, perhaps following Eleanor Marx's "she was seized with a spitting of blood," which is not the same thing as a seizure, but does try to do something with the "fut prise" that Davis simply omits; Davis's "began spitting blood" also implies that it continued through into the next day, which I had never inferred. "Passed out" is closer to the dictionary sense of "s'évanouir" than "lost consciousness," but the former in English at least implies something less severe, like too much to drink. The French connotes fading or vanishing away, which is hard to match in English. Still, I wouldn't import "consciousness" into the sentence. And it's a loss that the clichéd "heave a sigh" for "pousser un soupir" is abridged by Davis into merely "sighed." That was unlikely to be lazy writing by Flaubert.

The odd thing is Davis's expansion of the text's "Quel étonnement!" into "How astonishing it was!" Not only does that expand on the text, I'm not even sure that's English. Who would say that?

As always, translation is a mug's game. But I don't think Penguin needed to replace Wall's version, which I hope finds a good home elsewhere.

... (And without reprinting the preceding paragraph, where Charles's parents confront this first Mme Bovary about the disappearance of her fortune, Flaubert has the wonderfully mundane "On s’expliqua. Il y eut des scènes." Wall translates the first sentence as "Questions were asked," which is fair enough, but Davis mysteriously renders it as "They had it out," which is so bizarre as to make me wonder whether we are indeed looking at different French texts. Marx's "Explanations followed" is not bad either.)

Counsel, heed thyself

NMC gives the rundown on the judicial ballots in Lafayette County, and mentions that Tom Levidiotis is running for circuit judge.

"Where did I see his name recently?" I wondered. Westlaw to the rescuse: Jones v. State, a MCOA decision on August 24:
¶ 3. At trial, Jones was represented by a court-appointed attorney, Thomas C. Levidiotis. On January 10, 2003, Levidiotis filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or, alternatively, a motion for a new trial. The motion was denied on January 24, 2003.

¶ 4. Now, Jones claims that he informed Levidiotis immediately following the verdict that he wanted to appeal his conviction and sentence to the Mississippi Supreme Court. However, a notice of appeal was not filed within thirty days. M.R.A.P. 4(e). Jones has provided copies of two letters he purportedly sent to Levidiotis, where he inquired about the status of his appeal--dated February 27, 2003, and November 19, 2003. These letters are included in the record, but neither letter is authenticated.

¶ 5. When he heard no response from Levidiotis, Jones filed a complaint against Levidiotis with The Mississippi Bar. In response, on February 15, 2004, Levidiotis sent a letter to Jones. Levidiotis told Jones that he had sent Jones a letter, dated January 12, 2003, that indicated his duties as Jones's counsel terminated upon Jones's conviction. Levidiotis said that the January 12th letter warned Jones that he would not file an appeal unless he received specific written instructions to do so. In addition, Levidiotis told Jones that it had been more than a year, and the time for Jones's appeal had passed. The letter also contained the following statement: “I advise you to ask the ... Court for leave to file an out of time appeal. Since I no longer represent you, I am unable to act on your behalf unless specifically instructed by the Court.”

¶ 6. Thereafter, on June 3, 2004, Jones filed a pro se motion for appointment of new counsel to file an appeal. A copy of Levidiotis's February 15th letter was attached to the motion. The only apparent purpose for Jones to request appointment of counsel was to appeal his conviction.

¶ 7. Two years later, on May 31, 2006, the circuit court entered an order that granted the motion. The order stated, in part, that “[t]he Court found the Defendant indigent and that he should be permitted to appeal, in forma pauperis, to the Supreme Court of Mississippi, and that the Court should appoint counsel for the Defendant for appeal purposes.” The circuit judge appointed Levidiotis to represent Jones “for appeal purposes.”

¶ 8. On June 2, 2006, Levidiotis filed a notice of appeal and other pleadings required by the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure. Then, on June 5, 2006, Jones was granted permission from the circuit court to proceed with his appeal in forma pauperis.

¶ 9. On July 17, 2006, this Court on its own motion dismissed Jones's appeal as untimely filed. We determined that Jones's post-trial motion was denied on January 24, 2003, and the notice of appeal was not filed until June 2, 2006. Therefore, the notice was not timely filed. We also stated that the docket failed to indicate that a motion for permission to file an out-of-time appeal was filed or granted. As a result, Jones's appeal was dismissed. No further pleadings were filed with this Court.

¶ 10. On August 10, 2006, Levidiotis sent Jones a letter informing him that the appeal had been filed and subsequently dismissed by this Court as untimely filed. The letter stated: “Having done what my order of appointment required I regard my representation of you for appeal purposes as finally terminated and completed effective this day.” Levidiotis failed to note that he had failed to follow his own prior advice that a motion for permission to file an out-of-time appeal was necessary before Jones could proceed on appeal. * * *

¶ 17. Levidiotis's letter to Jones stated that his representation was complete upon Jones's conviction. This was not a correct statement of the law and Levidiotis's obligations to this client, Jones. Rule 6(b)(1) of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure states: “Appointed trial counsel shall continue as defendant's counsel on appeal unless relieved by order of the trial court, or, if the appeal has been perfected, by order of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals.” The record contains no order by the circuit court relieving Levidiotis of his duty to represent Jones on appeal. * * *

¶ 20. The circuit court determined that Jones was not entitled to relief under his motion for post-conviction collateral relief. We find this to be clearly erroneous. Levidiotis's own letter clearly set forth the procedural steps necessary to attempt to resurrect Jones's appeal. Upon his appointment as Jones's counsel for appeal purposes, Levidiotis should have promptly filed a motion for permission to file an out-of-time appeal. The filing of this motion would have required the circuit court to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Jones could “show by a preponderance of the evidence that he asked his attorney to appeal within the time allowed for giving notice of an appeal.” Dickey, 662 So.2d at 1108. Then, Jones would have to show that Levidiotis failed to perfect the appeal and that such failure was through no fault of his own. Id. Levidiotis failed to follow his own legal advice.
Win some, lose some, eh?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Mme Bovary, c'est ... qui?

The judicious Brooke Allen admires Lydia Davis's translation of Mme Bovary, comparing it favorably to the Geoffrey Wall version, which I had thought the best available. We will have to give Davis's Flaubert a spin.

Davis muses on her predecessors here and here, at the previously-unsuspected Paris Review Blog.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Left-wing miscellany

Too busy today plotting how to come down on my favorite state agency like a ton of bricks, but here are a couple of blog comments worth saving, one by me --
I think we're coming to the unpleasant realization that Obama, while he's done some good things and is probably a good person, may not be a good president. For the Dems to get hosed in this midterm -- not just lose seats, but get hosed -- is an appalling political failure, and we thought politics was something Obama was good at. Maybe he's just good at running against Republicans who pick insane veeps and Democrats who hire Mark Penn.
-- and one not:
By all means worry about expenditure. I suggest you start with the US military budget – here’s a thought, get rid of one of the strategic nuclear defense lines? Submarines, missiles AND bombers? Pick two.

Oh, and you can probably get by with a few less carrier fleets.

Then come back to me about unwed mothers and healthcare.
As Yglesias notes, we could cut 1% off the Defense budget and thereby double the FBI's entire budget, which might do more to keep us safe from terrorists, dollar for dollar.

... Oh, and Krugman compares Keynesian economics w/ That Other Kind in view of recent events. No, you'll just have to click through to find out who wins.

Counterfactual: The tragedy of 1776

Looking back over my Lenin post, I guess my attempted point is that Russians honor a mythological Lenin, the man who liberated them from the tsars and brought them into the 20th century. Sort of as if Robespierre had triumphed and sent his enemies to the guillotine, and then governed the Republic for 6 years thereafter.

That is of course a dubious notion of Lenin, but comparison with our own history may at least defamiliarize us a bit. Was 1776 a good thing?

Had the Revolution not occurred or been quashed -- had Washington been captured in New York and hanged, his army jailed or routed, say -- what would've happened? Would America have followed a Canada-like path?

Most importantly, in hindsight: would slavery have been abolished (more) peacefully, without 600,000 dead in a civil war? Surely, Britain could have finessed abolition so that, however unhappy, the South would not have actually risen in arms?

Assuming that history isn't so disrupted that WW1 still occurs, does America join the war in 1914, not 1917? THAT changes the whole 20th century right there. The war surely ends much sooner, without the revolutions of 1917 (sorry, Lenin). Fewer war debts, fewer Allied dead weighing in the scales vs. Germany. Almost certainly, no Hitler and no USSR.

No telling of course what monsters would arise in their places; but I'm sure it's not a novel counterfactual, and it's worth considering.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Must we bury Lenin?

At our meeting with him, now–Prime Minister Putin snapped back quite aggressively when asked why Lenin is still in his mausoleum in Red Square, asking a British colleague why there is still a monument to Cromwell outside parliament in London. One of my British colleagues reacted quite huffily to this but I must say that being half Irish and remembering Cromwell’s crimes against Ireland (which today would undoubtedly be labeled genocide) I saw a good deal of truth in this--except of course that Cromwell ruled Britain 350 years ago, and not 90 years ago.
-- Anatol Lieven (via 3QD)

... Lenin continues to be difficult for Russia. It's impossible to know what would've happened had he met with a knock on the head en route to the Finland Station, but it seems likely there would've been no Bolshevik coup, and that a military regime would've taken over the reins at some point from the hopelessly fragmented, uncertain quasi-liberals. It's hard to imagine such a regime's being as bad as Stalin's, but it might have been worse than the Empire, which we tend to whitewash in retrospect. Russia was a police state under the tsars, and there is no reason to romanticize what the West knew quite well was a reactionary state.

Most Russians today probably believe, wrongly we think, that Lenin brought about the 1917 revolution. So when they think of Lenin, they think of the man who supposedy liberated them from tsarism. His death just six years after the October Revolution, and the several orders of magnitude by which Stalin incresed the terrors of Leninism, did a lot to encourage amnesia about those very real terrors.

So, given the number of things wrong with Russia today, I'm not sure I'd fault them for confusing Lenin with Washington.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Best New Yorker poem ever

Bonus points for title longer than poem:

On the Inevitable Decline into Mediocrity of the Popular Musician Who Attains a Comfortable Middle Age

O Sting, where is thy death?

-- David Musgrave, in the issue of Aug. 30, 2010, p. 52.

... I know it's a poem, because the table of contents says so!

War without end

Six weeks after 9/11, U.S. officials were discussing with the UK the theory that, while a war was on, they could detain people indefinitely without trial -- and that "the plausibility of the argument that the war was continuing" was key to making this work:
Also among the released documents is a letter to London from the British embassy in Washington, dated 24 October, which reflects a growing realisation that the US was considering detaining people captured in Afghanistan for very long periods, and an understanding that it would be difficult to defend this as lawful.

Heavily censored, the letter shows that within weeks of the 9/11 attacks, the US and UK governments saw that the longer they could claim they were still waging a form of war, the longer they might be able to detain individuals without trial. They were aware the argument would wear thin if hostilities should appear to be over.

The author of the letter – whose identity has been redacted – writes: “As long as the war against terrorism in the widest sense continued, the US/UK would have rights to continue to detain those they had been fighting against (even if the fighting in Afghanistan itself were over). [Redacted] conceded that the strength of such a case would depend on the plausibility of the argument that the war was continuing.”
Via Emptywheel, who probably knows the documentary evidence like no one else, and who doesn't recall seeing this letter.

The lede in the article is that the UK was on notice as early as January 2002 that America was using torture, but I agree with Emptywheel that the early focus on perpetual warfare is the sleeper here.

"Decent nations do not permit their governments to assassinate their own citizens."

When you put it like that, it seems properly bizarre that we even have to discuss this.

Over at National Review (h/t Drum), Kevin Williamson gets it:
I am not a lawyer, but it seems clear to me that the state of our law is such that anybody with sufficient legal training can make a reasonably strong-sounding argument for any policy he chooses, and that if his argument is wrong, it is likely to be wrong in ways that are non-obvious....

So, set aside the legal questions for a second. The Awlaki case speaks to something even more fundamental than law: Decent nations do not permit their governments to assassinate their own citizens. I am willing to give the intelligence community, the covert-operations guys, and the military proper a pretty free hand when it comes to dealing with dispersed terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and its affiliates. But citizenship, even when applied to a Grade-A certified rat like Awlaki, presents an important demarcation, a bright-line distinction in our politics.

If Awlaki were to be killed on a battlefield, I’d shed no tears. But ordering the premeditated, extrajudicial killing of an American citizen in Yemen or Pakistan is no different from ordering the premeditated, extrajudicial killing of an American citizen in New York or Washington or Topeka — American citizens are American citizens, wherever they go. I’m an old-fashioned limited-government guy, and I am not willing to grant Washington the power to assassinate U.S. citizens, even rotten ones.
As he goes on to observe, it's extra-bonus bizarre that "conservatives" want to give this power to Barack Obama.

World War One draws to a close

This seemed like a fit for "can't possibly be true," but apparently it is:
Germany will make its last reparations payment for World War I on Oct. 3, settling its outstanding debt from the 1919 Versailles Treaty and quietly closing the final chapter of the conflict that shaped the 20th century.

Oct. 3, the 20th anniversary of German unification, will also mark the completion of the final chapter of World War I with the end of reparations payments 92 years after the country's defeat.

The German government will pay the last instalment of interest on foreign bonds it issued in 1924 and 1930 to raise cash to fulfil the enormous reparations demands the victorious Allies made after World War I.
What took so long?
The sum was initially set at 269 billion gold marks, around 96,000 tons of gold, before being reduced to 112 billion gold marks by 1929, payable over a period of 59 years.

Germany suspended annual payments in 1931 during the global financial crisis and Adolf Hitler unsurprisingly declined to resume them when he came to power in 1933.
Those fiscally irresponsible Nazis. Was there no crime too great for them?
But in 1953, West Germany agreed at an international conference in London to service its international bond obligations from before World War II. In the years that followed it repaid the principal on the bonds, which had been issued to private and institutional investors in countries including the United States.

Under the terms of the London accord, Germany was allowed to wait until it unified before paying some €125 million in outstanding interest that had accrued on its foreign debt in the years 1945 to 1952. After the Berlin Wall fell and West and East Germany united in 1990, the country dutifully paid that interest off in annual instalments, the last of which comes due on Oct. 3.
So now they should be in the black and ready to conquer Europe again! (H/t Silbey.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Conservatism and Counterrevolution"

Via Leiter, here's a link to Prof. Corey Robin's interesting essay on the nature of conservatism. A taste:
As the forty-year dominion of the right begins to fade, however fitfully, writers like Sam Tanenhaus, Andrew Sullivan, Jeffrey Hart, Sidney Blumenthal, and John Dean have claimed that conservatism went into decline when Palin, or Bush, or Reagan, or Goldwater, or Buckley, or someone took it off the rails. Originally, the argument goes, conservatism was a responsible discipline of the governing classes, but somewhere between Joseph de Maistre and Joe the Plumber, it got carried away with itself. It became adventurous, fanatical, populist, ideological. What this story of decline--and you see it on the Right as well as the Left--overlooks is that all of these supposed vices of contemporary conservatism were present at the beginning, in the writings of Burke and Maistre, only they weren’t viewed as vices. They were seen as virtues. Conservatism has always been a wilder and more extravagant movement than many realize--and it is precisely this wildness and extravagance that has been one of the sources of its continuing appeal.
Good stuff.

... Kevin Drum's little article on the Tea Party as just what always happens when Democrats win the White House is along similar lines as Robin's essay.


See, if I posted under my own name, this would probably land me on some TSA no-fly list. To say nothing of dodging PETA trolls.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ancestral voices prophesying justice

Section 3, Article 24 of the Mississippi Constitution (1890) is the sort of ringing declaration one usually sees cited in dissenting opinions:
All courts shall be open; and every person for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice shall be administered without sale, denial, or delay.
I'd never noticed that its language has a venerable ancestor:
NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.
-- Magna Carta (1297 version), section 29.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ogden & Kidd

NOTE: Correlation is not (necessarily) causation.

Apropos of the Mississippi Supreme Court's reversal of a $3 million jury verdict presided over by the Honorable Winston Kidd, in which the plaintiffs were represented by Ashley Ogden, and in which the MSSC held that Judge Kidd allowed a Jackson police officer to lie under oath:
The erroneous ruling allowed plaintiff’s expert, Tyrone Lewis, to testify with impunity and without fear of exposure, “[T]here is no documentation, no written statements or anybody to come forward to say that it did not happen [at Rebelwood].” The trial court should have known that Lewis’s statement was untrue.
-- we have compiled a list of Ashley Ogden's courtroom successes in recent times, relying heavily on Philip Thomas's excellent coverage.

English v. Rebelwood Apts. RP, LP (Kidd, J.)

Robinson v. Bailey Lumber & Supply Co. (Kidd, J.)

Baby Jane Doe v. LaQuinta Franchising, LLC (Kidd, J.)

Minor Child v. Federation Tower (Coleman, J.)

Ohazurike v. Parham Pointe South (Kidd, J.)

Durr v. MBS Construction, Inc. (Lee, J.)

[Plaintiff] v. Wackenhut Corp. (Kidd, J.)

[Plaintiffs] v. In Town Suites (Green, J.)

Marble v. Deviney Construction (Green, J.)

Knox v. Kroger Corp. (Kidd, J.)

Wright v. Gibson (Kidd, J.)

Bradfield v. Schwarz & Assocs. (Kidd, J.)
That's 8 out of 12 "Kidd, J." cases, for those of you following along on your cell phones.

Not on this list are some unsuccessful cases for Ogden:
Utz v. Running & Rolling Trucking, Inc. (Webster, J.) (jury verdict for defense)

Myatt v. Peco Foods of Miss., Inc. (Gordon, J.) (summary judgment for defendant)

Thomas v. Columbia Group, LLC (Smith, J.) (summary judgment; remanded on appeal) (This is, by the way, a rare example of Jim Smith (not the trial court) reversing a defense verdict in a tort case.)

Kennedy v. Maldonado (Green, J.) (verdict for plaintiff reversed & rendered on appeal)
Just thought this might be a handy list.

UPDATE: A friend of a friend points out the obvious: that Ogden's abortive "campaign" against Swan Yerger for Hinds Circuit Court was perhaps devised to prompt Yerger to recuse in Ogden's cases. Sometimes TBA is too innocent for the practice of law.

UPDATE (12/18/2010): The Federation Tower decision above was reversed 4-3 on appeal, with the trial court's $800K additur reversed but the $200K verdict from the jury reinstated (with however the 60% fault allocated to the child's father reversed for insufficiency of the evidence -- the jury had thus awarded only $80K).

Annals of foreshadowing

Number 13 Balaklava Road was going to be our little nest, the place into which we settled down to live happily ever after, the way they do in the fairy stories that [Gloria] was reading not so very long ago.
-- Len Deighton, Spy Hook, at 15.

... "Number 13" or "Balaklava" would either one have done just fine.

(Somehow, Charles Stross's Atrocity Archive has me reading Deighton, whom I'd never picked up before.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

"The Republican View of America ...

"... 80% Male, 20% Female; 75% Over 50, 25% Under 50; 99% White, 1% Horse."

You just really truly honesttogodly CANNOT PARODY THESE PEOPLE.

They do it themselves better than we ever could.

The GOP is, quite literally, dying out.

Grave(s) scrutiny

Justice Graves's nomination to the 5th Circuit (insert allusion to Caligula's horse) draws the attention of Eugene Volokh:
Here’s the issue: In 2004, 2008, and 2009, the Mississippi Supreme Court considered whether state judges should be disciplined for their out-of-court statements that express hostility to particular groups. The key question in each case was whether the judges’ speech was protected by the First Amendment.

In 2004, Justice Graves took the view that a judge was not constitutionally protected against being disciplined for saying (in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, and in a radio interview) that “gays and lesbians should be put in some type of mental institute.”

In 2008, Justice Graves also took the view that a judge was not constitutionally protected against being disciplined for saying (at a judicial seminar) that “African-Americans in Hinds County [where the judge was serving] can go to hell for all I care.”

But in 2009, Justice Graves took the view that a judge was indeed constitutionally protected against being disciplined for saying (in a speech to a political organiation) that “White folks don’t praise you unless you’re a damn fool,” and “If you have your own mind and know what you’re doing, they [white folks] don’t want you around.”

This particular mix of results strikes me as hard to defend under the First Amendment. Those results of course could be defended by some people on the grounds that the first two statements (in those people’s view) were wrong or unjustifiable, and the third statement was right or justifiable. Such a defense, though, would not be consistent with First Amendment law, under which the constitutional rules cannot turn on whether a reviewing judge agrees with the speech at issue.

But of course I might well be missing some other sensible defense, so I hope the Committee asks Justice Graves: What is the basis for the conclusions you reached, and in particular for the conclusion that speech hostile to gays is constitutionally unprotected against judicial discipline, but speech hostile to whites is constitutionally protected? (As I’ll note below, the 2008 incident involving speech hostile to blacks might be distinguished on other grounds, which is why I primarily focus on the 2004 and 2009 incidents.)
More details at Volokh's post.

... Will Bardwell takes issue with EV's post:
Judges Wilkerson and Boland, to whom Justice Graves ascribed no First Amendment protection, made their statements rather spontaneously and altogether outside the sphere of political campaigns. But Judge Osborne, to whose speech Justice Graves would have granted First Amendment protection, made his remarks before the Greenwood Voters League -- and, I believe, in an election year to boot.
"Electoral" speech by judicial candidates is protected by the First Amendment under Republican Party of Minn. v. White, so that is the relevant distinction, says Bardwell.

... And NMC joins the discussion:
I suspect Will is right that this is at least a try-out of an attack on Justice Graves’s nomination, and I agree with his rejection of the insinuating tone of Volokh’s post. But I’m not really buying that a letter to the editor about an issue of public debate is a “spontaneous” pronouncement clearly distinct from a speech at a political gathering. I don’t see how one can avoid saying they are both protected, or can say one is and one isn’t.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Sorry not to be dispensing the free ice cream this week -- we've had a death in the extended family, and that + a Rule 59 motion due Friday (one of the few graven-in-stone deadlines in my line of work) have been crowding out any recreational activity beyond the occasional blog comment and the not-so-occasional tumbler of Scotch.

Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Undefeated Dolphins lead AFC East

-- I may not get the chance to write that again for a while, so I figured I better do it today.

Sex discrimination constitutional, says Scalia

Happily, in a lecture, not in a majority opinion:
The U.S. Constitution does not outlaw sex discrimination or discrimination based on sexual orientation, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a law school audience in San Francisco on Friday.

"If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, you have legislatures," Scalia said during a 90-minute question-and-answer session with a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law.
And just as logically, if the current society wants to impose discrimination by sex, you have legislatures.
The court has ruled since the early 1970s that the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws applies to sex discrimination, requiring a strong justification for any law that treated the genders differently. That interpretation, Scalia declared Friday, was not intended by the authors of the amendment that was ratified in 1868 in the aftermath of the Civil War.

"Nobody thought it was directed against sex discrimination," he said. Although gender bias "shouldn't exist," he said, the idea that it is constitutionally forbidden is "a modern invention."
The notion that, at a minimum, the 19th Amendment's enlargement of the franchise to women, made them subject to the "equal protection of the laws," must not impress Scalia.

But never mind such elaborate arguments. Here's section one of the 14th Amendment:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Why would any court, presented with the term "any person," resort to "original intent," legislative history, or any such extraneous source, to ascertain whether a "woman" is a "person"? Why should we care what anyone thought the amendment meant, when what it said is not open to ambiguity?

The first person diagnosed with autism

... was from Forest, Mississippi:
Donald was the first child ever diagnosed with autism. Identified in the annals of autism as “Case 1 … Donald T,” he is the initial subject described in a 1943 medical article that announced the discovery of a condition unlike “anything reported so far,” the complex neurological ailment now most often called an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. At the time, the condition was considered exceedingly rare, limited to Donald and 10 other children--Cases 2 through 11--also cited in that first article.
Donald today is 77, still living in Forest, after a career as a teller at a family bank. (As one Forest neighbor puts it, "In a small southern town, if you’re odd and poor, you’re crazy; if you’re odd and rich, all you are is a little eccentric.")

The article doesn't dwell on it, but Donald's father had some of the traits that point to autism's genetic factor:
... the former mayor’s son, an attorney named Oliver Triplett Jr. With a degree from Yale Law School and a private practice located directly opposite the county courthouse, Oliver would later hold the position of Forest town attorney and would be admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was an intense man who had suffered two nervous breakdowns, and who could get so lost in his thoughts that he’d return from walks in town with no recollection of having seen anyone or anything along the way. But as a lawyer, he was considered brilliant ....

* * * [Child psychiatrist Dr. Leo] Kanner would always seem slightly perplexed by the intensity of the letter he had received from Donald’s father in advance of their meeting. Before departing Mississippi, Oliver had retreated to his law office and dictated a detailed medical and psychological history covering the first five years of his elder son’s life. Typed up by his secretary and sent ahead to Kanner, it came to 33 pages. Many times over the years, Kanner would refer to the letter’s “obsessive detail.”

Excerpts from Oliver’s letter--the outpourings of a layman, but also a parent--now hold a unique place in the canon of autism studies. Cited for decades and translated into several languages, Oliver’s observations were the first detailed listing of symptoms that are now instantly recognizable to anyone who knows autism. It is not too much to say that the agreed-upon diagnosis of autism--the one being applied today to define an epidemic--was modeled, at least in part, on Donald’s symptoms as described by his father.

Operation Enduring Freedom

Y'know, there are much worse pastimes than trash-talking our friends' college ball teams:
The U.S. soldiers hatched a plan as simple as it was savage: to randomly target and kill an Afghan civilian, and to get away with it.

For weeks, according to Army charging documents, rogue members of a platoon from the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, floated the idea. Then, one day last winter, a solitary Afghan man approached them in the village of La Mohammed Kalay. The "kill team" activated the plan.

One soldier created a ruse that they were under attack, tossing a fragmentary grenade on the ground. Then others opened fire.

According to charging documents, the unprovoked, fatal attack on Jan. 15 was the start of a months-long shooting spree against Afghan civilians that resulted in some of the grisliest allegations against American soldiers since the U.S. invasion in 2001. Members of the platoon have been charged with dismembering and photographing corpses, as well as hoarding a skull and other human bones.

The subsequent investigation has raised accusations about whether the military ignored warnings that the out-of-control soldiers were committing atrocities. The father of one soldier said he repeatedly tried to alert the Army after his son told him about the first killing, only to be rebuffed.

Two more slayings would follow. Military documents allege that five members of the unit staged a total of three murders in Kandahar province between January and May. Seven other soldiers have been charged with crimes related to the case, including hashish use, attempts to impede the investigation and a retaliatory gang assault on a private who blew the whistle.

Army officials have not disclosed a motive for the killings and macabre behavior. Nor have they explained how the attacks could have persisted without attracting scrutiny. They declined to comment on the case beyond the charges that have been filed, citing the ongoing investigation.

But a review of military court documents and interviews with people familiar with the investigation suggest the killings were committed essentially for sport by soldiers who had a fondness for hashish and alcohol.
To randomly kill Afghans and get away with it, presumably you have to be more prudent in your drug use and souvenir-keeping. Or fly a F-18.

An isolated occurrence, no doubt?
Gibbs, whom some defendants have described as the ringleader, confided to his new mates that it had been easy for him to get away with "stuff" when he served in Iraq in 2004, according to the statements. It was his second tour in Afghanistan, having served there from January 2006 until May 2007.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dep't of Bwa-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!

How's that easy schedule working for ya, Rebs?

And if she wins, it'll be proof she never really quit

Last night, Bill Maher played a previously-unaired 1999 video clip of Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell (R) in which she said she once "practiced witchcraft."

Said O'Donnell: "I dabbled into witchcraft -- I never joined a coven. But I did, I did... I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things. I'm not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do... One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn't know it. I mean, there's little blood there and stuff like that. We went to a movie and then had a midnight picnic on a satanic altar."

Maher joked that he's going to show a new clip of O'Donnell every week on his show until she agrees to appear on his show again.
-- Political Wire.

... Y'know, a little more seriously, why does America put up with this kind of shit?
Christine O’Donnell’s spokesman Evan Quietsch went on the Rick Jensen Show yesterday afternoon on WDEL, and said that O’Donnell will not show up unless she was provided all the questions to be asked of the candidates before hand.
Excuse me. You're asking to become a member of the United States Senate. To guide the fortunes of the richest, most powerful nation on earth.

And you're scared to be asked questions you haven't vetted in advance?

What is wrong with America that such cowards aren't laughed out the door?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Great moments in book reviewing

This fictional account of the day-to-day life of an English gamekeeper is still of interest to outdoor-minded readers, as it contains many passages on pheasant-raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways to control vermin, and other chores and duties of the occasional gamekeeper. Unfortunately, one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savor these sidelights on the management of a Midlands shooting estate, and in this reviewer’s opinion the book cannot take the place of J. R. Miller’s Practical Gamekeeper.)
-- Book review of Lady Chatterley's Lover in Field & Stream magazine (quoted here).

(It really appeared, but as a humor item.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Since they're mice, they'll probably be Senate Democrats

Mark Kleiman notes that GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell -- who is like Sarah Palin, but without the keen intellect -- has identified the next scientific threat to humanity:
O'DONNELL: ... these groups admitted that the report that said, "Hey, yay, we cloned a monkey. Now we're using this to start cloning humans." We have to keep...

O'REILLY: Let them admit anything they want. But they won't do that here in the United States unless all craziness is going on.

O'DONNELL: They are — they are doing that here in the United States. American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains. So they're already into this experiment.
Her concern is doubtless genuine, since if the mice's brains are fully functioning, they'll vote Democratic.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"It is not the least charm of a theory that it has been often refuted ..."

"... therein lies its charm to subtler minds," said Nietzsche.

This aphorism reaches what I very much hope will be its ultimate verification, in Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right, a 2007 book defending geocentrism.

Let's skip right past the book itself. What kind of 5-star comment on does a book defending geocentrism get?
The emperor has been called out on his nakedness, and we'll be faced with a choice: we can side with our own pride in humanity's intellectual abilities, indeed our very ability to define truth as we see fit, our hope in that man's ingenuity will figure things out eventually and lead us into the glorious future; or we can humble ourselves before the Creator of reality (and matter, and photons, and Planck dimensions) and trust in His Word as truth, in His knowledge of all things, and in His power to restore everything again.

This book exposes THE most widespread belief about reality as a myth. The only thing that could cause you to reject this (as you've been trained to do) is the reluctance to believe that humans, especially those we call "geniuses", could be so mistaken on such a widespread scale. If you're ready to see the side of things that your history books, your physics books, your mainstream science sources, your teachers and even your church is completely ignorant of (or trying to cover up), then I recommend this book.

Galileo was wrong, The Church was Right brilliantly exposes the scientific evidence that has been available for over 100 years which proves that the Earth is stationary at the centre of the universe. This book is of interest to the layman (like myself) and also to anyone with a university education in Physics. It is a book I will be studying for years to come.

This seminal book is a key part of the Great Awakening, when Man finally realises that much of what we accept as being true in the field of medicine, biology, physics, economics etc is wrong.

Geocentricity - Earth stationary at the centre of the universe would be an inconvenient truth because we will have to throw out 500 years of physics. More importantly it would be an inconvenient truth for the scientists who are almost exclusively secular humanists to admit that there is a Creator to whom we are all accountable.

Robert Sungennis & Robert Bennett are brave honourable men, and true scientists, who will be ridiculed now but who will eventually be regarded as heroes in the hopefully not too distant future. I salute them and their wonderful book which has opened my eyes. This book has been a wonderful voyage of discovery for me. Thank you!
Equal time for geocentrism in schools? Why not?

... You can attend the "Galileo Was Wrong" conference in South Bend, Indiana, if you like.

Next up: were the Church Fathers correct in placing Jerusalem at the center of the world? Learn the secret truth hidden from you by generations of secular-humanist cartographers!

... GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, when not campaigning against masturbation, campaigns against teaching evolution:
Well, as the senator from Tennessee mentioned, evolution is a theory and it's exactly that. There is not enough evidence, consistent evidence to make it as fact, and I say that because for theory to become a fact, it needs to consistently have the same results after it goes through a series of tests. The tests that they put — that they use to support evolution do not have consistent results. Now too many people are blindly accepting evolution as fact. But when you get down to the hard evidence, it's merely a theory. But creation —

* * * Well, creationism, in essence, is believing that the world began as the Bible in Genesis says, that God created the Earth in six days, six 24-hour periods. And there is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting that.
I'm not aware that she's taken a public position on geocentrism, but I am half tempted to e-mail that Galileo link to Chris Coons's campaign and ask them to be sure and get her opinion on the subject. Hell, think how much of her base she could lose denying that the earth orbits the sun!

Matters of life and death

NMC has three posts (thus far) on what should be the judicial shocker of the year in Mississippi: James T. Kitchens, Jr., a sitting circuit judge (not the plaintiffs'-lawyer-turned-Justice Kitchens), gave false testimony (= "lied"?) as an assistant DA and lied again in a PCR hearing after his accession to the bench, all in an effort to send a murderer to the death chamber.

Judge Mike Mills, himself a Miss. Supreme Court justice before taking a seat on the federal bench, has vacated the death sentence in Quintez Hodges' case and ordered a new trial on sentencing.
ADA Kitchens was called in rebuttal to the testimony given by Petitioner and his mother. (See id. at 1025). He stated that he had met with Petitioner’s attorney on the prior burglary charge, and that the defense attorney informed him that Ms. Tatum did not want Petitioner to go to prison. (See id. at 1026-27). ADA Kitchens testified that he then spoke to Ms. Tatum, and she confirmed that those were her wishes. (See id. at 1027). He testified that Petitioner put on witnesses to ask for a more lenient sentence, and that the State requested a sentence of fifteen years. (See id.). * * *

In closing argument, the prosecutor argued that Petitioner had already been given “a huge measure of grace” . . . “whether he wants to acknowledge it or not” because of Ms. Tatum’s intercession, and that he killed her son “after being given a second chance of monumental proportions.” (Trial Tr. Vol. 20, 1077). * * *

The testimony of Mr. Kitchens at Petitioner’s trial and in this Court is factually at odds with what is contained in the record, and DA Allgood should have known that the testimony given by ADA Kitchens was false. * * * The Court notes that
the first statement made by the court that sentenced Petitioner on the prior burglary plea is that “[t]he State has made no recommendation as to a sentence. . .” (Evid. Hr’g Ex. 4, 16). Also, there is no indication anywhere in the record that Petitioner’s attorney, Mr. Bambach, ever spoke to Ms. Tatum in person or that she expressed to him a desire that Petitioner not go to prison. (See Pet. Memo Ex. 4, 10-12). Moreover, ADA Kitchens, having been given notice that he would likely give testimony about this prior plea at the sentencing phase of a capital murder trial, apparently took no measures to ensure that he had an accurate recollection of what transpired. (See Evid. Hr’g Tr. Vol. I, 32; 52; 65). Even if Ms. Tatum stated that she did not want Petitioner to go to the penitentiary, that statement was never made in open court. Therefore, even if it occurred, it occurred off of the record and outside of Petitioner and his mother’s presence.

* * * In this instance, the State, seemingly unconcerned with the accuracy of the testimony to be given in a trial where the result could be death, provided the jury with false information. That information was elicited to show that Petitioner is a remorseless liar who was shown kindness that he refused to acknowledge and which he repaid by murdering the son of the woman who extended it. In light of these facts, this Court concludes that there exists a reasonable probability that this testimony affected the jury’s judgment.
No word yet of any reaction by Allgood or Kitchens, both of whom should resign immediately.

The case also involved a faulty instruction on the possibility of parole and a mentally unstable defense attorney who was using drugs and generally breaking down during the trial, but it's the cold-blooded presentation of false testimony in a deliberate effort to kill a man that makes Judge Mills's opinion so shocking.

Let's not overlook, however, the procedural games played by the Mississippi Supreme Court in its own zeal to affirm the sentence. First, the MSSC denied a moiton to supplement the trial-court record with the transcript of the plea hearing; then on PCR review, with the transcript before it, the court held the issue previously resolved:
Petitioner’s trial counsel would have had no reason to believe that they would need an actual transcript of Petitioner’s prior burglary plea at the capital murder trial in order to correct the State’s presentation of false testimony. To the extent cause and prejudice are required to overcome the determination that this claim is barred for counsel’s failure to contemporaneously object, Petitioner has established same. See, e.g., Coleman, 501 U.S. at 750. Moreover, the failure to consider the plea transcript on direct appeal and then determining the issue res judicata on post-conviction review is a Catch-22 that has improperly denied Petitioner a fair opportunity to present his claim.
This same week, the Clarion-Ledger reports on three men in Mississippi prisons who've been exonerated by DNA evidence in the same crime: Bobby Ray Dixon and Phillip Bivens, who served 32 years in prison; and Larry Ruffin, who served only 23 years ... because he died behind bars in 2002.
... the eyewitness in the case, Patterson's 4-year-old son, told authorities there was one assailant, not three. Dixon and Bivens had pleaded guilty and fingered Ruffin as the rapist after allegedly being beaten.
The actual rapist, Andrew Harris, is serving a life sentence for another rape he committed two years after the State of Mississippi helped him evade conviction of the rape and murder of Eva Gail Patterson. Nice work.

... Beating black guys to make them confess is a time-honored Southern tradition, but it's not always necessary, as the NYT reports:
New research shows how people who were apparently uninvolved in a crime could provide such a detailed account of what occurred, allowing prosecutors to claim that only the defendant could have committed the crime.

An article by Professor [Brandon] Garrett draws on trial transcripts, recorded confessions and other background materials to show how incriminating facts got into those confessions — by police introducing important facts about the case, whether intentionally or unintentionally, during the interrogation. . . .

Professor Garrett said he was surprised by the complexity of the confessions he studied. “I expected, and think people intuitively think, that a false confession would look flimsy,” like someone saying simply, “I did it,” he said.

Instead, he said, “almost all of these confessions looked uncannily reliable,” rich in telling detail that almost inevitably had to come from the police. “I had known that in a couple of these cases, contamination could have occurred,” he said, using a term in police circles for introducing facts into the interrogation process. “I didn’t expect to see that almost all of them had been contaminated.”
(H/t Adler.)