Category Archives: Uncategorized

Kopf: A Short Take Calling the Admiral to Action

I just returned from the Peoples Republic of Portland. The experience was jarring.

In Portland, there are no homeless people. There are, however, houseless. What that means is that homeowners cannot complain if the houseless shit on your front yard as your children skip off to the gender fluid schools. After all, where else would you expect these folks to leave their droppings?

The people of Portland are wildly woke. The City recently banned investment in evil corporations. Caterpillar is particularly evil because the Israeli defense force has armored bulldozers purchased from Caterpillar. Damn Jews.

Joan and I attended the drop dead gorgeous wedding of her nephew. It was held in a vineyard with an amazing view of Mount Hood. I especially liked the Subaru driven by the Chef. I have even photographed it for you. If you are a millennial, then you are likely attracted to the photo. In that same vein, and for the bride and groom, I extend my best wishes to them and my fervent hopes for a world protected by a really fat guy by the name ALGORE whose primary accomplishment is proving that a breakfast of biscuits and gravy is an inconvenient truth.

Anyway, with a sense of extreme relief, I got back to Nebraska. Nebraska is nice. In fact:

Yet, upon returning, I found that Nebraska is under attack. See Mitch Smith, Nebraska’s Flag Lacks Pizazz. The Hard Part Is Changing It, New York Times (August 10, 2017).  Our dear flag is, according to the Times, the worst of the worst.

The author of this slander writes:

For several days this January, the state flag outside Nebraska’s Capitol fluttered upside-down in the frigid sky. And for several days, as lawmakers and lobbyists shuffled past, no one noticed.. . .

John M. Hartvigsen, president of the North American Vexillological Association, said the state seal on a solid background is a product of a different era when state flags had a more limited role.. . .

Mr. Hartvigsen’s organization suggests principles for successful flag design: simple concepts, a distinct look, bold colors and no words. Nebraska’s banner violates nearly all of them.

“It’s a flag that would be easy to fly upside down with nobody noticing,” Mr. Hartvigsen said.[i]

I now call upon Admiral Greenfield to take action. Like Admiral Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar, his Excellency Greenfield is now charged with defeating the armada of those who would sully the flag of his adopted kinsmen (and women, of course). Even though Nelson was shot through the spine by a sniper high atop the rigging of an enemy vessel, he lived long enough to know of his victory. It is not too much to ask the same sacrifice of Admiral Greenfield.

By the way, if you take a crap on my lawn, you may find yourself wrapped in the flag of Nebraska and hoisted aloft upside down.

Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge (Nebraska)

[i] I pause only to note that Oregon has a beaver on the reverse of the state flag.

That caused one wag to write and illustrate the following:



Misunderstanding Trump

After his third press conference on Charlottesville, the near-universal conclusion is that President Donald Trump is a racist.

There’s a moral awakening taking place across America, but President Trump is still hiding under his blanket.

The racists’ march in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, a protest against the planned removal of a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee, presented Mr. Trump with the most glaring opportunity yet to separate himself decisively from the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who have cheered him on since he announced his candidacy, and to make clear that America has no room for what they stand for. He blew it. After the marchers turned to violence, and one of them plowed a car into a group of counterprotesters, injuring at least 19 and killing a woman named Heather Heyer, Mr. Trump said only that he rejected violence “on many sides.”

Trump also said there were “fine people” on both sides, as if there could be some fathomable aspect of being the “fine” sort of white nationalist. As commentator after commentator from both left and right opined on the tube, Trump has now shown what he really believes. Continue reading

Replacing “Like” With “Guilty”

That didn’t take long, though the mob is as much in vogue at the moment as DIY was when “This Old House” hit the airwaves. And if the president can rule by twit, why shouldn’t the “survivor” vindicate her accusations by Facebook?

Facebook statuses are now being used as a way to report sexual assault, without involving authorities whom many distrust.  This cynicism follows national cases of sexual assault which share a common ending—the victim is doubted, and the assailant not only walks free, but is typically shown sympathy.

Assailants aren’t shown sympathy, but that’s not the point at all. The point is they aren’t assailants because someone’s status on Facebook says they are, not that the unduly emotional would believe otherwise. Similarly, the victim isn’t a victim, or the dreaded survivor, until the sexual assault is proven to have happened.

But it’s true there is doubt, and with some damn fine reason. Continue reading

Teaching Trumplaw (Or Why Harvard Law Students Deserve A Refund) (Update)

Even the “smartest” and best educated in the country have been consumed by the moment’s heat, and they’re so filled with feelings that they’re changing their syllabus.

President Trump is transforming the study of constitutional law.

The nation’s law professors have spent the summer revising their courses to take account of a president who generates fresh constitutional questions by the tweet. When classes start in the coming weeks, law students will be studying more than dusty doctrine. They will also be considering an array of pressing questions.

When is firing a subordinate to thwart an investigation obstruction of justice? Can a sitting president be indicted? Can the president pardon himself? May he accept financial benefits from foreign governments? Are his campaign statements evidence of religious bias? Must Congress authorize a nuclear strike against North Korea?

These would all make for cool and fascinating blog posts, musing about one-off questions that have miraculously eluded deep scholarly scrutiny over the past couple centuries. We could argue. We could thrust, parry, riposte, all without every reaching any actual decision since there is no settled ruling upon which to rest. Oh, such fun! Continue reading

A Mob By Any Other Name

Arkansas engineer Kyle Quinn seems like a great guy, and his Friday sounded quite pleasant.

After a day of work at the Engineering Research Center at the University of Arkansas, Kyle Quinn had a pleasant Friday night in Bentonville with his wife and a colleague. They explored an art exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and dined at an upscale restaurant.

Saturday, however, didn’t go quite so well.

Then on Saturday, he discovered that social media sleuths had incorrectly identified him as a participant in a white nationalist rally some 1,100 miles away in Charlottesville, Va. Overnight, thousands of strangers across the country had been working together to share photographs of the men bearing Tiki torches on the University of Virginia campus. They wanted to name and shame them to their employers, friends and neighbors. In a few cases, they succeeded.

Continue reading

By Any Other Name, Nazis

It was “literally Hitler” six months ago, but it was readily understood to be hyperbolic hysteria by anyone with a brain. So it was ridiculed, because we know it wasn’t “literally Hitler.” At least, I thought we did. I may have been too enfeebled to see clearly.

In a post about why the First Amendment still lives as we’ve reached the end of our hypotheticals of doom, Ken White did something that shocked me.

The Nazis, whether armed with rifles or clownishly clad in khakis, stand against our values — they stand for the proposition that some of us are less American than others by birth, and that America must be “preserved” to the tastes of a particular narrow ethnic prejudice. Nazis attacking and threatening our fellow Americans threaten not just their immediate targets but the foundations of everything we’ve built. Decent Americans should speak, organize, and lead against them. This is the end of another classic hypothetical — what would you do if America’s most shameful ancient wrongs were resurgent? What would you do if the Nazis started marching again?

Ken called the pimples who soiled the earth of Charlottesville the final word: Nazis. I refuse to do so. I reject using this word to characterize them. Much as I respect Ken, I cannot accept this characterization. Continue reading

Judicial Doubt And The Line Of Bias

Rob Barris only wants the judge to be fair. Who doesn’t, right? Except fair means something different to the Okmulgee County District Attorney than it might mean to others, because Barris seeks to disqualify District Judge Kenneth Adair for being biased against police officers.

The Okmulgee County District Attorney has moved to disqualify one of the area’s two district judges from hearing all cases prosecuted by his office, saying the judge has a bias against law enforcement witnesses.

In a motion filed Monday, District Attorney Rob Barris contends District Judge Kenneth Adair has found that officers’ statements were false in four felony drug-related cases and used that conclusion to make rulings in favor of the defendants in each.

Cops lie? Film at 11. But then, the determination of that any particular police officer’s testimony in any particular case is true or false is a particular determination. It may be that a cop is a habitual liar, or that he fudged details in a specific case to nudge his testimony over a factual hump that might let a guilty defendant walk. Continue reading

The Search For “Truth” Instead Of Doubt

The “risky shift,” once the domain of like-minded folks on committees, is playing out in social media, and being wrapped up in pretty bow under the guise of “truth.” After all, if everybody you like and respect says that what you’re feeling is right, then it’s elevated from merely your feelings into some immutable “truth.” And when something morphs from mere feelings to truth, it becomes obvious, absolute and irrefutable.

As previously argued, facts and truth are not the same thing.

Facts are objective.

Truth is subjective.

This conflation of facts and truth is altering people’s capacity to dispassionately assess facts and reason their way through what is happening in the world around them, and what they can and should do about it. It’s altering their ability to discuss and debate, not just substantively but to the extent of being able to be in the same room as someone who disagrees, even remain married. Continue reading

Short Take: Frank Bruni Plays His One Victim Point

Frank Bruni does the unthinkable at the New York Times.

I’m a white man, so you should listen to absolutely nothing I say, at least on matters of social justice. I have no standing. No way to relate. My color and gender nullify me, and it gets worse: I grew up in the suburbs. Dad made six figures. We had a backyard pool. From the 10th through 12th grades, I attended private school. So the only proper way for me to check my privilege is to realize that it blinds me to others’ struggles and should gag me during discussions about the right responses to them.

What are the chances that Bruni would get a job with a broom, no less a column, with the New York Times today? But he’s got one card to play, and he plays it.

But wait. I’m gay.

Red lights go off. Sirens. Whistles.  Continue reading

The Day We Lost Our Minds

My 92-year-old father called in the evening. He learned of events in Charlottesville, Virginia, from watching MSNBC. He likes “that Rachel girl,” though he can’t understand why Trump hasn’t been indicted and hasn’t gotten us into a war yet, as she keep saying is about to happen any moment.

He fought in the infantry in World War II. He was with the 86th Infantry, known as the Blackhawk division. He received two Purple Hearts, among other things, for his efforts. His greatest fear is that there will be another war, and more young people will die, because he knows that afterward life goes on and they’re still dead.

He also knows who the Nazis were. Unlike people who read about it from books, he was there when concentration camps were liberated. He knows what the disease looks like, smells like, feels like. He was ready to die to stop the Nazis, and took bullets to prove it.

He asked me why? Then he told me why. “It’s like they want a war.” Continue reading