Killing time in lily white suburbia

Babbie and I are babysitting our fourteen tear old granddaughter.  She’s wearing her mother out, so we’re here to give the woman a break.

They live in a very pleasant suburb of Silicon Valley.  I imagine Hillary Clinton won around 90% of the vote here.  These people are highly enlightened.  They’re strong on social justice.

Which make it odd that I’ve never seen a black man or woman in this town, and damn few Mexican-Americans.  I know it’s not racial prejudice, because there are a fair number of Asian-Americans.

Everybody seems to get along just fine with each other.  There is no crime to speak of.  There is a startling lack of diversity, and yet it doesn’t seem to bother anybody.

They’re just not woke around here, I guess.

My right as an American, according to Mark Twain

Inn defense of my right to ignore you, I will rely on a line of Supreme Court cases dealing with the right of association.  This is modern language for the part of the First Amendment which reads, “Congress shall make no law . . .abridging . . . the right of the people peaceably to assemble. . . .”  The Supreme Court has ruled that contained within the right of association is the right to disassociate.

A political party has constitutional rights because it engaged in the exercise of this right of association.  Since this right necessarily implies the right not to associate, it means that political parties may exclude non-members from voting in a their primary elections.  It’s right there in the Constitution, if you look hard enough.

As it is with association, so it must be with speech.  The First Amendment means I have no obligation to be lectured to on legal ethics by a young lawyer with some sort of credential of instruction.  I shouldn’t be forced to suffer needlessly.  It’s cruel and unusual punishment.

I think Mark Twain said the United States was a country where any man can walk up to the President and tell him to go to hell.  If I can do that, I ought to be able to tell the Alaska Bar Association to go to hell.

As Twain also said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”  Good advice, from my experience.


The Supreme Court precedent I rely on in defense of my right to ignore you

Justice Douglas was an eminent legal scholar, and he unearthed a right in the Constitution that had been previously undiscovered:  the right of a woman to kill her unborn child.  This right, in turn, was based on the right to privacy, heretofor not known to exist.

The right to privacy is not contained in the text of the Constitution.. Justice Douglas discovered it while contemplating the penumbra of the Fourteenth Amendment.  It was as though the rights enumerated in the Constitution were stars, and the glow of radiation around a star is its penumbra.  Contained therein are unenumerated rights, logically inherent in the language of our fundamental law.  Douglas is celebrated for this brilliant insight to this day.

So my position is that my right not to listen is contained in the penumbra of the First Amendment.  Your right to speak must be balanced against my right to pay no attention to you.

It is, I admit, a novel legal theory.  But it is firmly grounded in the jurisprudence of William O. Douglas.  I can’t wait to present my argument.

I coulda been a contenda

My best shot at winning higher office in Alaska came in 1988, in the form of a letter from the Alaska Bar Association advising me that an ethics complaint had been filed against me by my fellow lawyer, Jeff Feldman.  Jeff thought I had violated the Code of Professional Conduct by leading a campaign against the retention of Jay Rabinowitz on the Alaska Supreme Court.  I ignored the letter and hoped for the best.

If these people succeeded in disbarring me I had a ticket to the Governor’s mansion in the 1990 election.  I didn’t really want to be Governor.  Too much work, for one thing.  I wanted to be a United States Senator, where your only responsibility was to vote and to spout off.  That, I could do.  But if I was elected Governor I’d be in a position to challenge Ted Stevens for the Republican nomination for Senate in 1996.  This was my ambition, and I needed a break to make it possible.  Disbarment for criticizing another lawyer was a way for me to endear myself with voters across the state.  I would be a martyr, and my reward would be a seat in the U. S. Senate.

Alas, Jeff’s complaint went nowhere, and I never got my shot at Stevens.  It just wasn’t meant to be.

The bizarre victory of Trump the Improbable

It took all the stars to align for Trump the Improbable.  Everything had to break his way, and his improbability was essential to his win.  The Clinton campaign was lulled into making critical errors, and James Comey was so sure of her win that he could deliver her campaign a nasty October surprise without hurting her chances.  Nate Silver says Comey’s last minute intervention cost her the race, and the numbers bear him out.

I think Comey wanted to take a shot across her bow, to send a message:   we’ve got you any time we want to pull the trigger, so we’re as untouchable as J. Edgar Hoover was.




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