Archive for June, 2007

Readers’ Digest Version of this week’s Supreme Court Opinions

June 30, 2007

I have finally completed reading this week’s opinions from the Supreme Court, all 296 pages worth. I will post more detail later today, after I have reflected a little. I can; however, sum them up. You’ll remember — because you are a faithful reader of this newbie blog and hang on its every word — that I earlier summed up the opinions released on Monday by saying, “If you are a Christian high school student who believes marijuana is evil and who plans on becoming a rich land developer you are happy. . .” (Note that already I am reduced by this blogging stuff to quoting myself.)

Now we can finish the statement. If you are a white Christian high school student who believes marijuana is evil, plans on becoming a rich land developer and want to pay higher prices for all your consumer goods you are happy.

More later.

The Fish Killer

June 28, 2007

As we all wait for this morning’s expected Supreme Court decisions and opinions — which Walter Dellinger, hardly a liberal, believes will be a mistake of “historic proportions” — we’ll kill time for just a moment by mentioning the Cheney articles that ran all week in the Washington Post.  Since everybody else is blogging away I doubt that I have anything much to add except for this:  Rather than make up “Angler” to be Cheney’s code name, they should have used what no doubt would have been his Native American name had he been born a Native American.  Fish-Killer.

Here is why that would have been his name.

Free Will and Naked Women

June 26, 2007

Well, the internet is just wonderful. Where else could you find a blog written by a photographer of fine art nudes where he discusses the question of whether free will exists or is just an illusion. See his post from Monday, June 26th for the discussion. You’ll have to scroll down past one naked woman and a long discussion of what he and his wife had for dinner last night. (The guy obviously knows his food and wine as well.)

Here is the blog.

Mr. Haynes and I share some things: We are both lawyers, went to college at the same time, both recently lost a much loved dog, our minds wander, we like to travel, we like good wine and we like to make fine art photographs of naked women. He is obviously a skilled and technically adept photographer who knows a lot more than I do. I actually like his “regular” photography more than his nudes. When you have a few moments I highly recommend his general photography site which is here.

There you will find, among other treasures, the finest photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa I have ever seen. (Click on “The Galleries” middle left of his home page > Foreign Lands > Northern Italy > then scroll down to Pisa. The Cinque Terre photos are great also.) After you see the Pisa shot, back up and click on India 2007. Scroll down until you get to “Agra” and then click. Look especially at photos 7, 11 and 12. The Taj Mahal has always been on my short list of places I want to see before I die but I may not need to go after looking at those photos.

(Keep in mind that looking at a photograph on a computer screen is like trying to taste a fine wine without opening the bottle. Imagine what those photos look like in the flesh. No pun intended.)

Posting this entry was a lot more fun than dissecting yesterday’s Supreme Court cases about which I have a few more things to say. And, of course, tomorrow will likely bring the school desegregation cases which will contain protests from the majority of five justices that Brown v. Board of Education is still alive and well, even though schools will no longer be able to take race into consideration when assigning students to schools even when it is necessary to achieve even an approximation of racial and educational parity. But maybe I’ll be surprised.

Today’s Supreme Court Decisions

June 25, 2007

Quickly, here is what our Supreme Court decided today. If you are a high school student who believes in legalizing pot your school principal can punish you for saying so. (At least if you say so in a weird way. Mr. Justice Alito might go the other way if you say it in a non-cryptic manner.) On the other hand if you are a big corporation or a labor union your television ads, no matter how misleading, are “core political speech” and you can say whatever you want.

In other words, you can accuse your Congressman of wife-beating but you better not be “pro-drug.” Justices Black and Douglas are rolling over in their graves today. Whatever else it may mean, the First Amendment clearly does not mean what it says.

There is more from the Court today. If you are a private developer it behooves you to buy off your state’s regulatory bodies and then the EPA has to let you develop pretty much whatever you want without bothering with the Endangered Species Act, even if the Forest Service, which administers that act, says you shouldn’t do it.

Finally the Court held that people who pay taxes cannot sue the Executive Branch of the federal government when the Executive Branch spends your money on helping faith-based organizations get more of your money. The Court thus deftly sidesteps the core issue of the case which is about that other portion of the First Amendment which prohibits our national government from mixing church and state. And since taxpayers can’t sue and ask the question, it is not clear who can.

What does all this mean? It means that if you are a Christian high school student who believes marijuana is evil and who plans on becoming a rich land developer you are happy today. The rest of the nation may be a trifle disquieted.

All these were 5-4 decisions, although some were deeply splintered. They establish that in one aspect of his presidency, George W. Bush has been quite successful: We now have the Supreme Court he promised us.

News Flash! Dick Cheney is Running the Country!

June 24, 2007

The Washington Post just discovered that Dick Cheney is running the country. Has, in fact, been running the country for the last six years. The fact that it took the Nation’s flagship political newspaper six years to discover this and put it on the front page proves one thing at least: The quality of its journalism has been equal to the quality of our political leadership.

You can read all about it at the Post’s website here. It’s on the front page.

And, if you are worried that I’ll pepper this blog with exclamation points, don’t worry.  I dislike them intensely, but this is big news.

The Golden State

June 23, 2007

I expect that the number of people who remember the Rock Island’s premier passenger train “The Golden State” is fewer than those who regularly eat liver and onions. Therefore, it is unlikely that you found this blog searching for information about that train. No matter. Now that you are here you can learn a little about the train, but not a lot. This blog isn’t about trains. It’s about current events. But I grew up in the 1950’s and my maternal grandmother lived in a little town along the route of “The Golden State.” We visited several times a year and the grownups were kind and took me down to the station to watch the train go through town. This was true love, for the train was always late, sometimes hours late, and there was in those days no way to find out how late it would be on a given evening. So they would take me to the station and we would wait, and wait, and wait. Eventually, the western light would turn red and we knew the train was coming.

It didn’t stop in the small western Kansas town. It went through at about 75mph. The entire event, for which we had sometimes waited three hours, lasted about 8 or 9 seconds. But it is the most vivid memory of my childhood. I can close my eyes and be back there in less time than it took the train to pass by. I can feel the summer heat, see the summer sun setting over wheat and corn, smell the pastures and town, hear the whistle which always began while the train was obscured by the small green station, feel the ground shaking, see the Mars headlight flashing and always I see the mailbag ripped from the mail hook as the train thundered by, whistle sounding. It was Number 4, headed east and it was glorious.

The train is gone now. So is the Rock Island, lost in the swirl of bankruptcy and history. Normally, I am not a nostalgic person. But about that train and that portion of my childhood, I am. Which is one of the reasons I named this blog after it. The things we love are here and then they are gone. The intensity of the love we may have for a thing or a sentient being, does not keep it here nor hasten its departure. We have little control over many of the things that mean the most to us. And that, I suspect, will be a recurring theme underlying many of the entries here. But I will write them in an attempt to affect the world around us, at least about the issues of the day about which I know a little. Will it matter in the long run? Probably not. But it may be that it is the journey which is important, not the destination.

I know of only one song about the Rock Island’s Golden State. You can hear an excerpt of it here. If any reader knows of any other songs about the train, please leave a comment and tell me where to find it. For that matter, let me know anything you know about “The Golden State.” Just because this blog is really not about the train doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn everything I can about it. And who knows, maybe a reader or two really will find it searching for the fabled Golden State.