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From Your GOP Nostalgia Files

[ 43 ] October 17, 2015 |


Shorter Trent Lott: “If only Strom Thurmond had been able to successfully filibuster Title IX, we wouldn’t have had all of these problems.”


Meet the man who gave voice to the Dothraki

[ 14 ] October 17, 2015 |


As in, literally, he wrote their tongue. David Patterson is legitimately brilliant, and yet he agreed to speak to me anyway. Sample:

As a former linguistics major, I’m very amenable to the idea that people who study language are more open-minded, but could you go into detail of what you mean by that?

As tiny little humans, we naturally assume everyone else is like us until reality shows us something different. If our parents speak one language, and the community we’re raised in speaks one language, we think that’s how language works period; we never imagine a language could work any other way than our own. It’s easy to dismiss or “otherize” someone who speaks a different language—one we don’t understand and which doesn’t work the way we feel language “should” work. The first second language one comes to learn is key. It’s the first time we see that language has the ability to work differently—that the logic can be different. Many in the world are fortunate to have their first exposure to a second language occur simultaneously with their first. For those that don’t, the earlier the exposure comes, the better. If someone who otherwise would not be interested in language at all becomes interested due to exposure to a created language, I can think of no higher compliment to the creator.

Texas Regulations

[ 27 ] October 17, 2015 |


One of the most underreported stories about energy right now is the attempt to drive pipelines through the Big Bend area, one of the most beautiful parts of Texas and one of the most iconic, not to mention relatively wild. Here’s a good story about it and the last-ditch effort to stop it. But I thought this was pretty amazing, even though I pretty much knew it already:

Disputes are left to the courts. According to the commission’s website: “In Texas, pipelines are not required to be permitted before being built. There is no statutory or regulatory requirement that a pipeline operator seek or receive from the Railroad Commission either a determination that there is a need for the pipeline capacity or prior approval to construct a pipeline and related facilities. Additionally, the Railroad Commission does not determine or confer common carrier status for pipelines.”

Nor under Texas regulations is there a minimum distance that a gas pipeline must be built from a property. All this worries Gibson, an engineer who lives and works at the McDonald Observatory. Reached by a twisty, hill-hugging road, telescopes housed in futuristic-looking domes use the area’s dark skies to explore the universe.

Sure, just do whatever you want Mr. Energy Developer. We are grateful for your sweet, sweet fuel. No need for any regulations at all.

Dannel Malloy’s Attack on Faculty Unions

[ 49 ] October 17, 2015 |


I always thought Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy was pretty decent, but this attack on the faculty union at Connecticut State University is pretty disturbing.

“In a stark reminder that action speaks louder than words, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has dropped a stunningly anti-union, anti-faculty, anti-Connecticut State University proposal on the table as it begins its contract negotiations with the CSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the union that represents faculty and a variety of education professionals at the four universities of CSU.

“This development comes on top of the news that Malloy’s political appointees on the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees have authorized a contract with an extremely controversial, high profile, anti-union, Governor Chris Christie affiliated New Jersey law firm to lead the negotiations against the UConn Chapter of the AAUP. That contract could cost taxpayers and students as much as $500,000 or more.

“The Malloy administration’s approach to the faculty who teach at Connecticut’s State Universities is particularly troubling since there has already been a growing recognition that Malloy’s initiative to merge the Connecticut State University and the Connecticut Community College System into the Board of Regents has been an utter failure.

“In just three years, the first two presidents of the Board of Regents were forced to leave under a cloud and Malloy’s political appointees on the Board of Regents have wasted millions of dollars in taxpayer funds on out-of-state consultants and some of those contracts apparently violated state law.

“Earlier this fall, in an effort to put his Board of Regents program back on track, Malloy had his chief-of-staff, Mark Ojakian, appointed as the [Interim] President of the Board of Regents.

“However, if the move was an attempt to turn over a new leaf and bring stability to Connecticut’s state universities and community colleges, that notion was blown away by the unbelievable anti-union, anti-professor, anti-Connecticut State University contract proposal that Malloy’s administration recently submitted.

“The proposal also includes language that will be of concern to Connecticut’s other public employee unions.

“For starters, it is safe to say that by proposing to insert a major new “agency fee” section into the CSU union contract, reducing release time for union activities and adding language that states, “Use of the Employer’s email system by CSU-AAUP staff or members for the purpose of transacting union business is strictly prohibited,” the Malloy administration’s proposal would be better suited to the likes of right-wing Republican Governor Bruce Rauner who is infamously working to destroy public employee unions in Illinois or Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker.

I know we have a decent number of Connecticut folks who comment and of course a lot of academics. I’d love to hear more about this from anyone in the know. Pretty disturbing from my perspective if this is the whole story.

Book Review: Katherine C. Mooney, Race Horse Men: How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Racetrack

[ 7 ] October 17, 2015 |


In Race Horse Men, Katherine Mooney examines the long history of race from the 1820s to the 1910s through the prism of the racetrack. She effectively argues that this is a great place in which to examine race for two primary reasons. First, wealthy white men, largely southern but often northern, saw the hierarchy of the track as a reflection of their idealized American society, where difference was reproduced and social division made clear. Yet these elites, who believed in slavery and then the subjugation of free blacks from the bottom of their hearts, relied upon the labor and expertise of black men to raise, train, and ride the horses. In fact, and this is Mooney’s second reason, this was perhaps the only place in American society where whites and blacks could freely talk to each other and where black opinions had equal footing as those of whites. This meant that within the African-American community, the role of the horsemen or jockey was a privileged and even heroic position. They were a relatively elite class of slaves and then became athletic heroes to the black public after the Civil War. Yet whites had difficulty even recognizing the existence of this black subculture because for slave and horse owners, the black horsemen were in a state of total subjugation, with loyalty they could count on. That meant that the ability of black expertise to develop on this issue was not a threat because their subjugation was so complete as to have no implications for their larger hierarchical world.

Horse racing became a popular sport in the colonial South and by the 1820s was perhaps the most popular sport for the American elite. The white male democratic impulses of the Jacksonian period drew together white men from across America in the sport of horse racing, but the masters of this realm were the class of white men less comfortable with the implications of this democracy. In other words, Southern Whigs dominated it. Henry Clay was of course a major figure in racing, as were many other leaders and the track was a place where political dealings got done. These were men deeply committed to the idea of slavery and domination over life. As so, they tortured slaves to mold their bodies as jockeys. The description of this is the book’s most brutal passage, with boys forced to stand in horse manure to stunt their growth. Slaves would be forced to walk 10-20 miles with heavy layers of clothing on to shed weight while malnutrition was common. For white men dedicated to their horses, mistakes in their training or riding by slaves could mean brutal treatment for the latter. For the masters, that they could mold slaves’ bodies to serve their own recreational purposes was a sign of the total mastery they held over their life and their world. White men might speak kindly of their black horsemen, but certainly did not extend to actual respect, nor did it portend speaking kindly of other slaves. John Randolph of Roanoke, one of the Early Republic’s most famous political figures, called the slave who taught him to ride “Father” rather than the usual “Uncle” but also ordered the murder of his slaves, complaining when an overseer only beat rather than murder one slave.

For slaves though, despite the brutality, the ability to work on the horses created significant pride and eventually, after the war, upward mobility for the successful. Being a horsemen and creating heroes of horsemen became part of black self-definition as emancipation began, creating the sporting heroes that also helped define whiteness. Black jockeys spoke of their work with a great sense of pride over their accomplishments and status. Both before and after the Civil War, black jockeys rode in some of the most epic races of all time and were among the best jockeys in the nation. Profiles of ex-slave jockeys in the late 19th century noted how insistent they were on dressing well, connecting themselves and their lineage to free blacks before the War, working for men like Henry Clay, and demonstrating their deep knowledge of all things horses.

The Civil War revolutionized the horsing world as it did the nation at large. Not only did it free the black jockeys that dominated the sport, but it also shifted a lot of the nation’s racing resources north. This is for instance when the racing at Saratoga, in New York, began. But while Southern whiggery had died before the Civil War, the imperative to control the nation and the racial order while ruling over the track had not, and the racing world became a place for the next generation of southern elite to make connections with northern whites who supported their elite status, hated Reconstruction, and wanted to return the nation to its proper racial order. Meanwhile, for black horsemen, the integrated track and their continued success on it perhaps heralded a more integrated and equal United States. That perhaps the nation’s most prominent jockey, Isaac Murphy, was African-American served to raise those hopes. Alas, it was not to be, even if men like Murphy rose into the black middle class through their winnings. Yet the African-American media paid men like Murphy a great deal of attention, creating the heroes necessary to fight forward for racial justice in postbellum America. And perhaps most importantly, they took the power to tell their own stories and live the lives they wanted to live, an unthinkable move before the Civil War.

Mooney’s story ends with the segregation of racing in the early 20th century. Through 1900, there is plenty of evidence of close relationships between white and black jockeys, bonded over their mutual expertise and mutual suffering in maintaining their low weights. But by the 1910s, the increasingly racialized and segregated nation lost any room for the black jockeys that had long made up a sizable part of the horse labor force. White jockeys began forcing blacks into falls on the track and placing pressure on owners by saying that they would hurt horses if black riders were allowed on them. Of course the owners, by now faraway from the slaveholding era of trusting black knowledge with horses, had no problem with this and like so much of the United States, the track became all-white for decades. This happened alongside the rise in portrayals of black horsemen in the ever-popular minstrel shows and Currier & Ives lithographs, both of which reinforced the idea of how freedom had destroyed black morality and created behavior that needed to be controlled, violently if necessary. Whites justified the disappearance of blacks from the track using the scientific racism of the day, stating that science had proven that blacks could not compete with whites in the horses. Others openly denied that it was racism at the core. Instead, according to one reporter, races simply couldn’t live together so it had to be either all-white or all-black and such exclusion was inevitable.

Apropos of nothing important to race and class, I was also shocked to learn that pre-Civil War horse racing primarily consisted of 4-mile races, run in a series of heats and the horse than won the best 2 of 3 won. That is starkly different than current practices, to say the least.

Overall, this is a very interesting look at race, class, and sporting in the U.S. over a century. This is not the easiest research and tying these big themes around a single sport for a long time has its research challenges. Race Horse Men is a good book and could well be of interest to readers.

“I Endorse Ted Cruz For President. I Then Expect Him To Resign In Favor of his Vice President, Zombie Thaddeus Stevens.”

[ 42 ] October 16, 2015 |


Um, what now?

The Conservatives have been a big tent party in the past, and they must be once again. Fiscally prudent, economically liberal and socially progressive – the party could be all of those things, and it once was. But it won’t be, as long as Mr. Harper is at its head. His party deserves to be re-elected. But after Oct. 19, he should quickly resign. The Conservative Party, in government or out, has to reclaim itself from Stephen Harper.

Seriously, what the hell is this? “We would like the Conservative Party of Joe Clark was still heading it, in conclusion we will endorse Harper for re-election while pretending that this isn’t an endorsement for Harper.” It reminds me how liberal hawks supported the Iraq War, and after it became an undeniable disaster tried to deflect responsibility by saying that of course they favored an Iraq War run by competent people with a better outcome, so can hardly be blamed for what happened in the real war rather than the imaginary one they supported. Indeed, I feel they should have gone all the way and suggest that Haper should be replaced by Michael Ignatieff. Unity ’15!

Urban Renewal

[ 17 ] October 16, 2015 |


I’m not sure how many museum exhibits have dealt with the disaster that is urban renewal honestly, especially in the affected neighborhood. So I really want to see this exhibit. In part so I can figure out what this is about:

“What happened in the West End is not something we’re necessarily proud of, but urban renewal by and large has had very positive effects for the city of Boston,” Corey Zehngebot, a senior urban designer and architect for the BRA, told “[Urban renewal] is definitely a phrase that people hear and have a visceral negative response to. We knew it would be challenging to go out and talk to people about a topic that has a lot of historical baggage.”

So what were the benefits of urban renewal again? I guess since the exhibit’s focus is the Housing Act of 1949, that’s probably what the answer is–a lot of federally funded housing, at least for white people. And I’m not going to romanticize the slums and the state of the nation’s housing stock at the end of World War II–there were a lot of problems!–but I’m not sure it was by and large very positive for Boston. Except for the North End which miraculously avoided it.

Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Racist

[ 38 ] October 16, 2015 |


The popular reaction against memorializing American racists continues, this time with the throwing of red paint on a statue of Roger Taney in Frederick, Maryland.

You May Not Be Surprised….

[ 12 ] October 16, 2015 |


That the marijuana industry acts like any other industry and seeks to limit pollution and pesticides regulations.

State regulators have known since 2012 that marijuana was grown with potentially dangerous pesticides, but pressure from the industry and lack of guidance from federal authorities delayed their efforts to enact regulations, and they ultimately landed on a less restrictive approach than originally envisioned.

Three years of e-mails and records obtained by The Denver Post and dozens of interviews show state regulators struggled with the issue while the cannabis industry protested that proposed limits on pesticides would leave their valuable crops vulnerable to devastating disease.

Last year, as the state was preparing a list of allowable substances that would have restricted pesticides on marijuana to the least toxic chemicals, Colorado Department of Agriculture officials stopped the process under pressure from the industry, The Post found.
Lucas Targos, the head grower at L’Eagle, sprays marijuana plants in the cultivation room with neem oil, which helps combat spider mites and mildew.
Lucas Targos, the head grower at L’Eagle, sprays marijuana plants in the cultivation room with neem oil, which helps combat spider mites and mildew. (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

“This list has been circulated among marijuana producers and has been met with considerable opposition because of its restrictive nature,” wrote Mitch Yergert, the CDA’s plant industry director, shortly after the April 2014 decision. “There is an inherent conflict with the marijuana growers’ desire to use pesticides other than those” that are least restrictive.

Obviously there’s a market for organic marijuana given the clientele, but as a whole, whether on labor, environmental, or other regulation issues, the cannabis industry is just another capitalist sector and will act as such. We should expect that and act appropriately by creating a strong regulatory state.

Apparently Living SEK’s Life Now

[ 32 ] October 16, 2015 |

I confess to being a bit envious of SEK  when he posts stuff about the crazy conversations he has with the kooky characters in his life. But SEK can SUCK IT because people are now having crazy conversations with and around me.

First some context. I live in a neighborhood with a veritable horde of pre-teen girls. Seriously, there are tons of them and I’m VERY FRIGHTENED. No, I kid. They are all dolls and they are very kind to my son. At times a lot of the horde will converge on my lawn, playing with each other and–very sweetly–with my son. The following is a conversation between two 9-year-old girls who were sitting on my front porch. I will call them “E” and “G.” 

E (bouncing ball): “I wonder if the strongest man in the world could throw this ball into the sky so hard it touches the sun.”

G (she is super-mature): ” That wouldn’t happen. It wouldn’t make it through the atmosphere because it would catch fire. And when it re-entered the atmosphere it would be a flaming ball of death.”

E:” Cool. ”

Me: *laughs uproariously*


And also…my internet pals send me things…

Internet Pal 1: Sends me link to a bloody tampon Halloween costume

Internet Pal 2: Sends me link to Sexy Potato costume

Me to Internet Pal 1: “Someone just sent me  ‘Sexy Potato.'”

Internet Pal 1: “Someone just sent you Channing Tatum?”


BAM!!! Suck it, SEK!!!

Feel the Burn!

[ 51 ] October 16, 2015 |

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Scott Walker’s campaign was certainly good at one thing: spending lots of the cash money.

The fact that he paid to hold a retreat in Wrigley Field is yet another reason for all decent people to fervently hope for the Mets, vanquisher of legbreakers, to triumph over the Cubs.  (If it involves a massive collapse in Game 6 or 7 all the better; hopefully Chicago fans and media are hard at work to try to figure out what non-Cubs the loss can be speciously blamed on should that happen.)

Everybody hates a tourist

[ 48 ] October 16, 2015 |


A federal court has tossed out a lawsuit against one of the Infilaw scam factories, on the basis of the ever-popular rationale that it’s the marks’ own fault if they buy the grifter’s pitch:

Last week, a U.S. district court judge in Florida, quoting an earlier decision tossing a suit against New York Law School, said prospective students at Florida Coastal School of Law are “‘a sophisticated subset of education consumers, capable of sifting through data and weighing alternatives.’”

In dismissing the case, the Florida judge said the plaintiffs knew Florida Coastal had some of the lowest admissions standards in the country, and because of that, a rosy employment statistic “would have been a red flag to a reasonable consumer.” The plaintiffs alleged Florida Coastal masked how many graduates held jobs actually requiring a law degree.

LGM readers may remember that last year Drexel law professor Lisa McElroy made a similar argument, although she glossed over the whole awkward “fake employment stats” thing:

I don’t understand why it is deplorable. The students enrolling in law schools have the information about job placement, bar passage, etc. Presumably, they have decided that they will fall on the positive side of the statistics. They make the choice to accept the offer of admission. The law school makes a commitment to educate them to the best of its ability. If the law school is so terrible and lacks judgment in admitting students, why would a student then choose to go there? It’s all in the student’s control.

McElroy has just published a novel about a spunky 112-pound (weight given in text) 1L and her noble law prof mentor at Warren Law School, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Harvard Law School, from which McElroy graduated. She is also an alumna of Dartmouth, and Choate Rosemary Hall. Current costs of attendance for these institutions:

Choate: $217,000

Dartmouth: $269,000

HLS: $255,000

All this must make Drexel ($196,000) seem like a relative bargain, especially given the serious shortage of law schools in the Philadelphia area.

I’ve only read the free preview of Called On on Amazon. I was considering a Go Fund Me campaign to raise the necessary capital to purchase the electronic version, but the ever-intrepid Dybbuk has demonstrated what can under the circumstances be considered the last full measure of devotion to the Anti-Scam Cause by actually reading the whole thing. His review can be found here.

This passage seems particularly germane to McElroy’s attraction to the doctrine of caveat emptor in its most vigorous form:

“Connie [the law prof] sat and watched. For all the crap law school had been taking in the media lately, this was the kind of class discussion that proved all the “law school is a scam” bloggers wrong. She didn’t have to do anything but get the students started with a provocative question. Then they took over.”

The theory here seems to be that since all it takes to get an educationally valuable experience rolling in a Harvard Warren Law School classroom is one provocative question, it therefore makes sense to spend nearly $200,000 to get a JD from, say, Drexel.

One of the prime symptoms of the new gilded age is that people like McElroy, who enjoy high-paying phony baloney jobs at the expense of people who didn’t go to Choate, Dartmouth, etc., often fail to appreciate that a sense of delicacy and circumspection might be warranted when the temptation arises to flaunt one’s privilege.

Why I love to travel: I’ve gotten to attend a Samburu wedding in Kenya, hang out on the ocean floor with sea turtles in Belize, sail through the sky on a parasail with my younger daughter on Block Island, speak to Italian law students about how common law systems work in Genova. What’s not to love?

My most memorable trip: For my birthday a couple of years ago, my husband and I took a luxury white water rafting trip down the Futaleufu River in Patagonia, Chile. As if the Class V rapids weren’t adventure enough, we got stuck in the biggest earthquake in fifty years. We were fine, but getting home was quite a challenge.

My favorite trip with my kids: For another birthday (OK, I’ll admit it, my 40th), the whole family hit Puerto Vallarta for a week. The kids loved the pools and the beach; my husband and I appreciated the great small restaurants and the art culture.

Can’t wait to get to: The Great Barrier Reef. After recent trips to Palau and Belize, I’m now a certified scuba diver and can’t wait to dive down under!

What I love about family travel: The whole family unwinds and hangs out together. There’s usually no cell phone service. We eat a lot of crazy stuff (ice cream for breakfast, squid for dinner, anyone?). No one blow dries her hair. We explore together to find folk art to bring home – all the better to remember our trip.

What I least like about family travel: Our dogs usually have to stay home.

And (in the Paper of Record no less):

I’m back.

Which is to say, I was gone. Two thousand miles away. To a couple of luxury resorts in warm, sunny Arizona. All by myself. While I left my husband and kids back home in cold, gray Philadelphia. On their own.

No, I didn’t have to go. Arizona was not home to a legal conference, or a trial, or a library where I needed to do research. No one in my extended family had died; as far as I know, no one was even sick. There wasn’t even a food festival, or a special art exhibition, or a one-week-only never-to-be-repeated production of some Shakespearean play.

Nope, this here law professor took a vacation. For no good reason at all except that I was on spring break, and they weren’t, and I really, really needed to get away from it all, soak up some sun, and, as it turns out, eat quite an indulgent number of red velvet cupcakes.

Some would say that only a really irresponsible mother would go hot-air ballooning 2,500 feet above the Arizona desert while her kids were in the trenches of state-mandated standardized testing.

Some might question a mother’s midday naps on canopied beach beds when her husband slept fitfully at night, listening for any sound of a tween having a nightmare or sneaking downstairs for a midnight ice cream snack.

And (speaking of snacks), some might wonder whether it was right and just (two concepts important to lawyers like me) to chow down on diver scallops, pork belly, lobster ravioli, and homemade tamales (oh, and the aforementioned red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting) while the family back home sustained themselves on hot dogs, boxed mac and cheese, and the mainstay of working parents everywhere: breakfast for dinner. . .

Sure, I thought a lot about the possible downsides. What if my younger daughter didn’t finish her props for her weekend problem-solving competition? What if the older one got into a middle-school drama and I wasn’t there to listen from the minivan’s driver’s seat while she vented about it from the back? What if my husband didn’t fix them a protein-filled breakfast before their standardized tests?

What if? Would my carefully constructed suburban world collapse? Would they fail the tests? Would the competition be a bust? Would the middle school social scene be turned on its end?

But then I juxtaposed those possibilities against my exhaustion [!] from teaching dozens of law students about copyright protection and the Supreme Court. And against the giant earthquake that struck Japan and my realization of how I’d feel if I died before I crossed “hot air ballooning” off my bucket list. And the fact that I’d been down in the dumps for weeks over the day in, day out routine of kids, snow, dachshunds, meetings, and students. Not I’m saying that I deserved to be down in the dumps (hey, I wasn’t in Japan), but down I was.

I suspect McElroy wasn’t as “down” as the 37% of Drexel’s 2014 graduating class that didn’t have any sort of legal job ten months after graduation (a third of these graduates were completely unemployed) but we all have crosses to bear, novels to write, lagoons to jet ski, etc.

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