Monthly Archives: November 2014

Private

Cameras. Phone videos. It’s difficult to have a private life in days of social media.

The topic of today’s post has managed to do just that. The youngest, and newest, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan.

The usual portions of her biography are public. Her father was a lawyer. Her mother an educator. Her academic and employment records require little more than a search word in Google to find. She’s been the first woman in some of her positions: Dean of Harvard Law School and US Solicitor General.

Her current position is her first appointment as a judge. While not unique, you need to go back several decades to find other justices who came from non-judge positions to the court. As expected from an Obama appointment, she tends to vote liberal. Yet she’s independent and prudent enough to reach out to any and all of the other justices to find areas of agreement.

Oh…and the private life. She’s keeping that private. Exhibiting control and self-control over her outside of work activities.

 

 

Holiday Toast

America has a reputation as “The Land of Plenty”.

Thousands upon thousands of immigrants made dangerous journeys to reach this country. Hard work should be rewarded. Everyone needs an opportunity.

Americans strive for more. I think it’s almost in the air. We want more food (or more exotic). Another change of clothes, pair of shoes, warmer coat would be good. Thinking of an upgrade or addition to your home? Moving to a larger or more secure apartment?

This week I urge you to pause, retreat, and give thanks for the basics.

Food to eat.  Clothing to wear. Shelter from extreme weather. Family, friends, and neighbors to offer an opportunity to be social.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Traditional

Today we turn our attention to the 17th Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court — John G. Roberts.

At the time of his appointment in 2005, he was the third youngest to be appointed to the position. You need to go back to the early 19th century to find a younger man. So expect him to stay in this lifetime appointment for years to come.

He’s not flashy. Makes headlines by virtue of his job description. His views are often described as “Traditional”. Perhaps that’s a good thing. A little caution and tradition when dealing with issues affecting 350+ million residents is appropriate.

Expect him, and his co-workers, to make the several times this term. An important (okay, only important cases are considered at the court) decision on a portion of the Affordable Care Act (health care) is before the court. On a previous portion of the law Chief Justice Roberts cast the deciding vote. Will he do so again?

Stay tuned.

Season Ending

All good things must come to an end. Or at least a pause.

Remember the crop with fondness. And tingling taste buds if you were lucky enough to sample a few. I had a small sample — decent for an afternoon snack and I could taste the potential of a cooking apple. Mmmmm. Pie.

A rest will do the apple tree good. I can picture it now, sap retreating from fine twigs to small limbs, to sturdy branches, then trunk and into the roots. Cold is coming. Mind those roots!

Keep them hydrated. Enjoy the late fall rain. Hoard the snow with insulation as well as moisture.

I’ll be checking in during the winter. Waiting for spring, warmth, buds and blossoms developing into the delicious fruit again.

Ready to Rest

Ready to Rest

Need an orchard fix? Check out Hiding Places at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

 

Approachable

Do you want to interview a US Supreme Court Justice? Are you a member of a recognized media organization? May I suggest you approach Sonia Sotomayor.

While her workspace and sometimes her opinions are separate from the other justices of the court, she’s more likely to respond to requests from those outside of judicial circles.

Justice Sotomayor is only the third woman ever appointed to the court. Justice O’Connor retired three years prior to her confirmation. I can almost see Justice Ginsburg smile in welcome.

This lady’s path to her current position started in the Bronx and went through Yale Law School. Her father, a tool & die maker, died when she was still a child. Her mother, a nurse, emphasized education for both of her children. They are now a judge and a physician — the woman should be proud.

Several years as a prosecutor were followed by some time in private practice. It was her pro bono work at this time that brought her to the attention of politicians and a seat on the US District Court.

She’s the first Latina to sit on the highest court in the land. In her decisions she remembers her past and frequently votes with the “liberal” block of justices. This does not however, silence her own voice as she’s been known to write separate opinions and dissents in addition to casting her vote.

 

Echoes across Time

Can you hear it? Faint sounds of shovels into dirt, nails into wood, sandbags hoisted into place.

They’re growing faint with time. It’s been an even century now. Yes, during the autumn of 1914 soldiers dug trenches. They prepared for winter. They prepared for defense.

During September 1914, French and British troops halted the German advance toward Paris. They managed to force a retreat — but not a great long one.

A trench was not a new defense. Both sides used them during the American Civil War. Moats and trenches around castles spotted the European battlefields centuries before that.

But the Great War, now known as WWI, brought trench warfare to it’s pinnacle. (Or low point if you were an infantryman.)

Trenches defined the front lines. No-man’s land came to mean the killing field between the opposing army trenches. Yes, lines shifted at times. Trenches would be captured with their supplies, communication equipment, and soldiers.

And the trenches killed men. They killed with a portion would collapse. They killed with wet and penetrating cold in winter. They killed with disease.

Can you hear something else? The silence. Four long, deadly years after those first trenches were constructed outside of Paris — the guns go silent. Armistice. Peace. A generation will grow to manhood and pick up arms to fight armies across many of the same miles.

Salute a veteran today. Remember a veteran today. Pause for a minute at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

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Integrity

Integrity. Prudent. Cautious.

These are three of the words used by his peers to describe Samuel Alito prior to his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Justice Alito is a product of the East Coast. He was born in New Jersey, educated at Yale, and served in several positions within this geographical area. He’s also the son of teachers, a characteristic he shares with others on the court.

He was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush and took his seat early in 2006. His opinions and dissents fall on the conservative side of the issues of today.

The media coverage of Justice Alito is unflattering. All but the official biographical sketches dwell on brief breaches of manners — the sort of whispered word or facial expression that would be ignored by a non-judicial official.

It will be interesting if he happens to write any of the opinions of the major cases currently before the court. Then the public will have more actual thoughtful words to shape their own attitude.

 

Important Minutes

Are you a U.S. citizen? Over age 18? Registered to vote?

Have you voted today?

No?  Then why are you spending precious minutes reading this. You should be walking, driving, taking a bus or finding a train to get to your polling station.

Important issues are on your ballot. Every one of us has a choice to make for a member of congress. Geography decides if you have a US Senator or State Governor on the ballot. And decisions on bond issues, state tax procedures, and state constitutional amendments are included.

Yes? Congratulations!!!  Thank you for helping government work.

In Honor

Your Vote Keeps it Flying