Monday, March 30, 2015

The "Living" First Amendment

Althouse, the blog of University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse is the most consistently entertaining of the blogs THC regularly checks in with.  You never know what she may choose to write about it (want to know why men should never wear shorts?  she'll tell you - often) and you can't predict the her viewpoint on anything in advances - in fact, THC suspects she delights in confounding her readers expectations; she'd probably find a way to take issue with the way THC wrote this post if she ever read it but it's that wide ranging interest in lots of subjects and how she comes at things from a different angle that make her so interesting; particularly because when it comes to politics she can't (and won't) be categorized in conventional Democrat/Republican or liberal/conservative terms.

A few days ago she wrote  "Liberals Used To Love The First Amendment" commenting on a column by Adam Liptak of the New York Times and using the first sentence from his piece as her title.  Now, for you Times readers THC has some advice.  Relying on Liptak for an accurate assessment of the best arguments of all parties in Supreme Court matters is like, well, it's like relying on Linda Greenhouse, when she was the legal correspondent for the New York Times to do the same.  And since Ms Greenhouse apparently monitors all mentions of her on the interwebs, THC gives her a shout-out! and reminds her that, as always, we will correct any mistakes in a post and do so promptly, as we have done in the past and in telling contrast to the practices of the obstinate and, dare he say, obtuse New York Times.

With that here is Althouse's piece:
"But that was in an era when courts used it mostly to protect powerless people like civil rights activists and war protesters," writes Adam Liptak in The New York Times.

“Corporations have begun to displace individuals as the direct beneficiaries of the First Amendment,” Professor Coates wrote. The trend, he added, is “recent but accelerating.”
Hmm. I don't know. In conlaw class, I was just teaching the great 1964 landmark case — that loved-by-liberals case — New York Times v. Sullivan. But, fortunately, I've got The New York Times to set me straight. Corporations are not people.

Okay. Thanks to Adam Liptak, a man I'm noticing only because the corporate platform of The New York Times elevates him high above all the poor and puny anonymities....

And I'm fascinated by this notion that the Constitution ought to mean what would make liberals love it. Hey, Supreme Court, why don't you make the Constitution lovable again? We used to love you, First Amendment, but you changed.
Ironically, back when Liptak's liberals loved the First Amendment, a big deal was always made about how it protects the speech you hate. That was the challenge, to love the freedom itself. Seems like you changed. 
By the way, in light of the phony larger narrative linking big companies and non-progressives (THC prefers this nomenclature since it covers conservatives (both social and economic), libertarians, classical liberals, Tea Partiers, the mainline GOPers, those who adhere much of the progressive line but demur at times (see, for instance, the notorious Koch Brothers) and just plain cranky people since we all look the same to progressives) peddled by the Times and its acolytes, note that according to David Plouffe, one of President Obama's senior strategists, that Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google (market cap $376 billion), played a key role in the President's 2012 campaign and that "on election night he was in our boiler room in Chicago".  THC is sure that the 230 times since then that Google lobbyists have met with White House officials, not to mention the 15 pages deleted at Google's request, at the last minute by the FCC from its recently published document asserting its regulatory authority over the internet have nothing to do with Schmidt's role as an enabler for the President.

A Baseball Story

Yet another beautiful piece from Joe Posnanski.  This one on Bobby Bragan and Jackie Robinson in contrast to his recent essay on the Miracle on Ice and Sophia Loren.  Take a few minutes to read it.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I'm Ready To Play Today

On Friday night THC (and the Mrs) visited Surprise Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, completing his plan to see all ten spring training ballparks in the Phoenix area.  He has now revitalized his baseball viewing habits, seating techniques and ballpark eating strategies and feels ready for the regular season.

Surprise turned out to be THC's favorite stadium, although somewhat of a pain to get to.  The stadium itself is well-designed, with broad open concourses and food stands placed where you can also watch the action unlike some of the other parks (Hohokam, Peoria) where you have to go inside.  Parking is easy and very close to the stadium (see some pictures below).

The game featured the Royal's young star pitcher Yordano Ventura throwing seven no-hit innings.  Ventura's fastball was consistently between 96 and 99mph.  He also threw what might have been a slider around 92 as well as several different types of off speed pitches between 83 and 88 keeping the Seattle Mariners hitters off-balance all night.

Other THC favorites were Goodyear Ballpark (Cincinnati Reds/Cleveland Indians), Maryvale (Milwaukee Brewers) and Sloan Park, home of the Chicago Cubs and the largest stadium.  Special mention needs to be made of Camelback Ranch, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.  The park is terrific but is oriented southeast instead of northeast like the other parks.  The result is that if you are there are a day game there's little shade and you risk being burned to a crisp and your ashes swept up by the cleaning crew at the end of the day.  However, the Dodger training fields are idyllic with trees bordering them affording shade for spectators.

Friday, March 27, 2015

An Officer And A Spy,204,203,200_.jpg 

L'Affaire Dreyfus consumed French politics and society for twelve years from 1894 to 1906 terribly exacerbating existing political fault lines in the country.  In 1894 Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jew whose family left Alsace after the Germans annexed it in the wake of the 1870-1 Franco-Prussian War was accused of delivering French military secrets to the Germans, tried by a court-martial, found guilty, sentenced to life imprisonment for treason (based on secret evidence that neither he nor his counsel ever saw or even knew about) and sent to Devil's Island off the coast of French Guinea in South America where he was kept in solitary confinement.  The prosecution and conviction also lit a fire under the smoldering anti-Semitism of French society.
Through a long, complex, implausible and almost theatrical chain of events the case against Dreyfus collapsed, causing a huge scandal for the French army and its supporters.

THC read some accounts of the affair but they were rather dry and the very complexity of the events drained them of their drama.  Other than the bare outlines, the final outcome and Emile Zola's J'Accuse, (published in 1898 and causing Zola, a Dreyfus supporter, to flee to exile in England to avoid imprisonment after being convicted of libel) THC remembered very little of the matter.
However, THC just finished reading An Officer And A Spy by Robert Harris, a novelistic retelling of the story and highly recommends it.  Harris is an accomplished writer of historical fiction.  His first book, Fatherland is set in the 1960s and takes place in a world where the Nazis won World War II and have supposedly resettled the Jews somewhere in the East in former Russian lands.  THC has read several of his other books including Pompeii and enjoyed them all.

In An Officer And A Spy, Harris tells the story of the Dreyfus affair from the viewpoint of Colonel Georges Picquart, named chief of French counter-intelligence shortly after Dreyfus' conviction.  Picquart, who had previously expressed anti-semitic sentiments uncovered evidence of the real spy in the French army, becoming convinced of Dreyfus' innocence in the process.  After taking the evidence to his superiors, Picquart was persecuted by the army which wished to keep the matter quiet. THC will not reveal any more of the events because it would deprive readers of the enjoyment of discovering the astonishing plot twists and of saying to yourselves "Could this have really happened? It is too implausible to occur in real life!"

How accurate is the novel?  Harris writes:
None of the characters in the pages that follow, not even the most minor, is wholly fictional, and almost all of what occurs, at least in some form, actually happened in real life.

Naturally, however, in order to turn history into a novel, I have been obliged to simplify, to cut out some figures entirely, to dramatise, and to invent many personal details.
THC is far from knowledgeable about the actual events of the affair but from what he has been able to ascertain from reviews, including those by historians, Harris' summary is fair and, in particular, the incidents that you will find most astounding (and appalling) in the book really did happen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I Love This Plan!

THC Management Consulting LLC remains committed to helping the readership of this blog succeed in their professional careers.  As part of its continuing series Improving Your Management Skills we present the latest installment.

Even if you are a manager, most of you will work for yet another manager.  How then to handle one of the most common situations you'll face when your manager proposes what they clearly consider their latest bright idea but which sounds a little ill-advised to you?  Should you give them honest feedback?  Should you stay silent?  Nope - you want to get ahead!  With the able assistance of Bill Murray, THC Management Consulting LLC has developed its latest instructional video to help you turn this situation to your advantage!  Study it carefully.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I Want You Bach

The Piano Guys give us a mash up of the Jackson Five's I Want You Back and Johann Sebastian Bach.