Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tuesday Talk: Frankly Franken

When Al Franken finally made the announcement that his wokiosity compelled him to plan to resign in the future, after the 328th woman came forward to allege they were inappropriately touched by this former TV-star-cum-senator they so desperately sought to be near, he was smart enough to leave himself a gap. He could have resigned. He didn’t.

When the news broke, I misunderstood and thought he had, in fact, announced his resignation. In response, I twitted:

Regardless of my views toward as senator, he should not have resigned. His conduct did not rise to that level of impropriety.

In response came a twit that reflected the times as clearly as possible. Continue reading

Lies and Consequences

What would happen if proponents of “believe the victim” married the truest social justice belivers on the interwebs? The New Yorker would fire Ryan Lizza, the very progressive and valued writer. Erik Wemple details the curious path it took within nanoseconds.

“The New Yorker recently learned that Ryan Lizza engaged in what we believe was improper sexual conduct. We have reviewed the matter and, as a result, have severed ties with Lizza. Due to a request for privacy, we are not commenting further.”

Lizza responded. Continue reading

Kopf: A Short Take On A Coincidence

Albert Einstein (just call him “Al”[i]) is reputed to have said a lot of catchy things. One of them is this:

Keeping in mind what Al said, I write about Senator Chuck Grassley and Judge Alex Kozinski. Because it tickles me, I refer to them as Chuck and Alex.

On December 6, 2017 (keep this date in mind), Chuck introduced Senate bill S. 2195 that would compel the Chief Justice to appoint an Inspector General for the federal judiciary after consultation with the leaders in the House and Senate. See here. Chuck wants an unrepentant Inspector Javert to “conduct investigations of alleged misconduct in the judicial branch . . . .” This is so despite that fact that Chuck’s branch does not have an Inspector General. Continue reading

#DefameMeToo

With women empowered to reveal those matters from their past by the many who have dredged up the offenses, large and small, real, perceived or imagined, provable or not, names are being dragged through the mud without opportunity to challenge. And condemnation flows regardless of proof.

In a weird way, the fact that these accusations aren’t made through official channels, which would be a good thing, serves as a detriment. There’s no way to oppose or challenge the accusations. The ruin of reputation is swift and merciless. There is no forum to vindicate one’s conduct. There is no place to prove one’s innocence. Or is there?

Victims of sexual harassment and assault are saying “Me Too” as the country goes through a culture shift following revelations about Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and other major celebrities accused of everything from crude comments to rape. On college campuses, that shift has been playing out for years, due in part to student activism and to increased attention to campus sexual violence from the Obama administration. Continue reading

Under A Bad Sign

The idea was still somewhat novel when Garrett Morris popularized it on national TV, but it was well past time when hearing people realized that with one remarkably easy addition, hearing-impaired people could enjoy news and public participation: the sign language interpreter. It remains a spotty accommodation, for many reasons, but it’s the sort of thing that should be ubiquitous for government actions, at the very least.

When Tampa police spokesman Stephen Hegarty was told the sign language interpreter had arrived for his press conference, he was somewhat confused but not displeased.

“As we were getting ready to start, I was told that a sign language interpreter was outside,” Hegarty told the Miami Herald. “My reaction was: ‘I didn’t call an interpreter, but great that someone did.’ It appeared that she was very well known in Tampa, but I just didn’t ask enough questions. There was a lot going on but it was my responsibility, so shame on me.”

The press conference was about the arrest of a serial killer. Continue reading

Stupid Lawyer Tricks, Kozinski Edition

My views about Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski’s conduct were expressed before any of the following. I point this out not to suggest my views are any more valuable than anyone else’s, but to show that this post isn’t influenced by bias. Koz was wrong.* His conduct was completely improper and reflects exceptionally bad judgment. This matters because he’s a judge, and as I wrote, “judgment is a jurist’s stock in trade.”

But what’s been put out since by people who are lawyers, lawprofs and putatively not blithering idiots, scares the living crap out of me. As Andrew King correctly called it, “knee-jerk.”

In response to Will Baude’s twit about Heidi Bond’s post, Georgetown lawprof Marty Lederman calls Judge Kozinski a “monster.” Continue reading

Patterico: A Reasoned Perspective

While pretty much everyone but the badge-licking lunatics found the killing of Daniel Shaver and the acquittal of ex-Mesa Cop Mitch Brailsford an outrage. Patterico, who’s real life California prosecutor, Patrick Frey, did something few have the interest or capacity to do. He went through it in a detailed, thorough and, most importantly, thoughtful way. Unlike the #MeToo expressions of anger, this was illuminating.

The online reaction has been that it was a “murder” and that the jury was insanely wrong.

I’m not so sure about that. Maybe that view is right. Maybe it’s not.

Many pieces ask you to make your initial judgment by showing you a video with very little additional context. I’m going to take a little different approach, and give you the context that the police officers were facing before I give you the video to watch.

Continue reading

The Modern Art Of Pervs

No one argues that Balthus wasn’t a great painter. No one argues that the 1938 painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art isn’t a masterpiece. But that’s not enough to prevent demands for its removal.

The artist, Balthasar Klossowsi de Rola, or Balthus, had used the model, Thérèse Blanchard, the daughter of a neighboring Parisian restaurant worker, over the course of three years, making 10 paintings of her beginning in 1936, when she was 11. The image in question features her at 12 or 13, with her legs bent and slightly apart, her eyes closed, her thoughts seemingly lost to fantasy. Her skirt is hiked up to reveal a red lining and a pair of white cotton underwear.

Rather than rely on a description, the image speaks for itself. Continue reading

Judge Alex Kozinski and The Mad Cow

The year was 2008, and the news was huge. It didn’t come at a time when there was a daily man in power being accused of sexual impropriety, so when it happened, it stood out. And lawyers took notice.

The blawgosphere is abuzz, awash, atwitter, about the Los Angeles Times revelation that 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski has a kinky side, revealed by “sexually explicit” images on his personal website.  That he was currently presiding over an obscenity trial of Ira Isaacs, described by the WSJ Law Blog as “accused of distributing criminally obscene sexual-fetish videos depicting bestiality and defecation. (For background on the Isaacs case, click here for an AP story.)

Some have seized upon this delicious opportunity to challenge Judge Alex’s ethics and called for his recusal from the case.  Others have questioned whether the images are “crude and misogynistic — pictures of naked women as cows; pictures of womens genitalia with the caption, “Bush for President”; implied bestiality as humor.” And Howard Bashman asks whether this is newsworthy at all.  After all, would we be writing about this if Judge Alex was spotted at the newstand buying Playboy?

Continue reading

A Requiem For Quality Academic Thought

Ed. Note: David Meyer-Lindenberg started out to write about free speech, but midway through, realized that this post by Judith Shapiro, president and professor of anthropology emerita at Barnard College, published at Inside Higher Education was, well, unadulterated gibberish that said nothing. David shifted gears.

As those of you who’ve read my previous work know, I don’t write very well. Heck, I barely speak English. But I didn’t realize just how far I was lagging behind until I read this op-ed by Judith Shapiro, a former president of Barnard College, at Inside Higher Ed.

The topic? The purported need for less “free” and more “quality” speech. I think. It’s honestly kinda hard to tell.

In an era of information overload, we face the problem that too much information is equivalent to too little. But we also face a more serious problem: a Gresham’s law of information in which bad information is driving out good information.

Continue reading