Monday, July 2, 2012

Blawg Review #324 (mas o menos)

My fella 'mericans...

Fifty-eight years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. The Voting Rights Act was one of the cornerstones of LBJ's Great Society and, just as it took Nixon to open the door to China, maybe it took a southern president to put an end to Jim Crow.

LBJ grew up in the hardscrabble lands of south central Texas. The soil was poor and mesquite trees small and gnarly. Every few years a lightning strike would set off massive wildfires that would replenish the nutrients in the soil. The land was never meant for farming, but that's what LBJ's dad did. And the most agonizing thing LBJ saw while growing up was his father's failure as a farmer.

Maybe that's where his drive for power began. In 1937 he ran for, and won, a seat in the US House of Representatives. Twelve years later he was a United States Senator. He eventually served six years as Senate Majority Leader. In 1960 he was asked to be John Kennedy's running mate because the Massachusetts Mafia knew that only LBJ could deliver the cemetery vote down in the Valley. The relationship between Johnson and the Kennedy boys was tense and LBJ bristled at the lack of power and authority he had as Vice President. He came to realize the truth of fellow Texas John Nance Garner's quip that the vice presidency was about as useful as a bucket of warm spit.

But all that changed on November 22, 1963. Once that shot was fired from (a) the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository, (b) the grassy knoll, (c) the overpass or (d) the aliens in the shiny saucer circling over Dealy Plaza, LBJ became the most powerful man in the world.

While many remember him for the disastrous campaign in Vietnam (that eventually drove him from office), LBJ's most lasting legacy was the Great Society. During his time in the White House, LBJ ushered in Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps, Head Start and federal funding for education.

Ironic that just last week the US Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act which will provide insurance to those just above the poverty line through the expansion of Medicaid. There are critics of the new law who argue that the solution to the problem is to remove the words "over 65" from the legislation authorizing Medicare.

For everything you might ever wanted to have known about LBJ, I would suggest Robert Caro's series. I've lost track as to which volume he's on right now. His research is impeccable and his writing style takes you through the details of the man's life without seeming intrusive.

So here's a review of sundry and assorted blawg posts from the vast interwebz dealing with our modern day Grating Society...

Starting, as you might expect, in the Lone Star State, we have Murray Newman offering both a rebuke of his favorite elected official, soon-to-be-former Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos, and the sad fact that often the reward for being wrongly accused of a crime is a large legal bill.

Scott Henson, over at Grits for Breakfast, wants to know if Texas will expand Medicaid coverage to include the hospital cost of caring for our inmates. As he has pointed out in the past, with the legislature mandating longer sentences and enhancement provisions, the prison population in Texas is getting older. And with older inmates come more health care issues.

Mark Pryor, he of D.A. Confidential, has a mystery for y'all. Who was the six-toed creature that danced the jig on the windshield of his car the other night? By the way, his first novel is hitting the street in October.

Over at Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield wants to know why no one else is up in arms about the ten-year prison sentence handed out to fellow criminal lawyer Lynne Stewart. Ms. Stewart fought the government's attempts to deny her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, effective representation. She did what we are supposed to do - she defended her client as vigorously as possible. As a result of her not kowtowing to the government's demands, Ms. Stewart was sentenced to 28 months in prison. Then, because she didn't show the proper deference to the court, that sentenced was extended to 10 years. Ms. Stewart defended an unpopular man and was punished for her temerity in insisting that the Constitution and Bill of Rights be followed. You are a warrior, Sister Stewart.

Jeff Gamso writes about a couple of other important anniversaries regarding the murdering of inmates by the state. On June 29, 1972 a unanimous Supreme Court decided that the death penalty was unconstitutional and the 589 men and women on death row were turned away from the death house. Four years later the Nine in Robes decided that it was okay again for the states to murder inmates and the doors to the death house were unlocked. Since July 2, 1976 there have been 1300 inmates murdered by the state. Mr. Gamso is hopeful, as am I, that the day will come again when the nation's death houses are closed - for good.

Over at Crime + Consequences, Kent Scheidegger looks at the difference between "getting it quick" and "getting it right." The backdrop is the reporting on the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act. As I listened on the radio the other morning, Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! was reporting that while Scotusblog said the Court upheld the law, CNN was reporting that the individual mandate had been struck down.

Hmmm. Matt Brown wants to know if one of the unintended consequences of Arizona's anti-immigrant law (or what was left of it after the Supreme Court's decision last week) will be more whites being targeted for traffic stops. Ironic, don't you think?

How timely could this possibly be? Appellate Squawk provides us with a guide to judicial writing. Whether it's the Grand Style, the Great Legal Mind or the Macro Key, the appellate maestra has you covered.

Someone over at Inside the Law School Scam found what appears to be a generic form letter for law schools to send out to their incoming 3L's explaining the need for raising tuition prices (yet) again. Every time I read about increasing tuition rates I'm reminded of a comedian I saw years ago who questioned why some universities charged so much more in tuition than others. He wondered if one the professors at State U. would stop his lecture at some point and inform the students he couldn't teach them anymore about that topic because they weren't paying the same tuition as the kids at Ivy League U. were.

Marco Randazza at The Legal Satyricon wants you to know that the TSA is keeping all of us safe from grandpa's ashes. If airport security isn't the best example of what happens when people blindly accept what the government is selling us without asking questions, I don't know what is.

Ken at Popehat has a message for all y'all would-be spammers and scammers. Now saddle up and get the hell outta here.

The Jury Room's Rita Handritch raises an interesting question related to jurors and religiosity. Would you rather have a juror who's really into that ol' vengeful deity from the Old Testament or the more touchy-feely New Testament guy in the sky?

The Namby Pamby reminds me of why I work alone. Oh, the brutal existence of a junior associate.

What's a self-respecting criminal defense attorney to do when a judge won't grant a request for a continuance to complete in an Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest? I understand it's a murder trial and all but, c'mon, Your Honor, we're talking Key West, cigars and Papa. The best part? The judge quoted Hemingway in his order denying the request.
After quoting from "The Sun Also Rises," Merryday made his decision: "Best of luck to counsel in next year’s contest. The motion is denied."
Jamison Koehler went on vacation. Don't know if he'll be returning, however.

Blawg Review has information on next week's host and and on how to host an upcoming episode of the carnival.

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