What I’m reading, and a few predictions.

I don’t read much, mainly because my job is so reading-intensive. After reading all day, the last thing I want to do is read for pleasure. Sometimes I lament that I miss out on great books that would keep my mind sharp because of this dilemma. In any case, here is what I am reading right now.

The Bluebook Blues, by Judge Richard Posner (Yale Law Journal). Best quote: “A grim capitalist logic thus drives the malignant growth of The Bluebook.” I’ve always been impressed by Posner’s writing style, and this is no exception. He also happens to be right on this one. The Bluebook is insanely overdone, and hopefully they heed his advice to simplify it.

State of the Union, President Obama. Best quote:

“We do big things. The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it’s because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.”

This is one of the most beautifully written speeches I’ve heard/read in recent memory. First he flips the script on the hackneyed but required phrase “the state of our union is strong.” Well done. I bet the person who wrote that speech was particularly proud of that. Another memorable moment was when described how technology would create benefits in everything from firefighting to medicine:

“This isn’t just about — (applause) — this isn’t about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.”

Wow. It felt like watching a new episode of The West Wing.

A couple of things that I noticed regarding the speech. First, the military generals did not clap when Obama spoke of the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” However, they did applaud other times, indicating that it was not just a matter of decorum when they did not applaud. I am not sure whether the generals failed to applaud because it is decorum not to applaud when the discussion is on the military, or because they are against the repeal. I am guessing the latter, which is disappointing.

Justice Scalia was again notably absent from the speech, as was Justice Alito (of “not true” infamy). Scalia’s absence troubles me and I believe that Scalia has reintroduced partisanship to the Supreme Court to a greater degree than any other recent Justice. In addition to his absences the State of the Union speeches, his opinion in Bush v. Gore and his public appearances at Tea Party meetings, his opinions have become more obviously partisan. In the legal industry, it is canon that federal judges should remain non-partisan (in fact, it is implicit in the Federal Judges Code of Conduct.” More recently, Justice Roberts decried partisanship in the selecting of federal judges.

I disagree with Justice Roberts, and I do not believe we should continue to observe the fiction that Judges should not belong to a political party. If anyone truly believes that Scalia makes decisions using an “originalist” approach, they are kidding themselves. Judicial decisions (including Supreme Court decisions) appear increasingly to have been made along party lines. Judges (including Justices) remain political appointees of a partisan President, confirmed by a partisan Senate. If we abandoned the illusion that judges do not “belong” to a political party, I think our judicial system would be more intellectually honest.

I think that the major networks should not be allowed to give commentary before and after the speeches. Pundits and journos should not be allowed to tell us what to think about the President’s speech. I think that the opposition response should be done away with; there is no entitlement to a rebuttal. The introduction of the “Tea Party response” makes this slippery slope embarrasingly obvious.

Predictions

1. The Groundhog will see his shadow, and we will have six more weeks of winter. Obviously, the guys behind the groundhog have an interest in a high accuracy rate, and we all know this winter is going to continue to be brutal.

2. Gabrielle Giffords will run for President in 2016. (I predicted this a few days after she was shot).

3. Paul Ryan is running for President in 2012. I recently remarked that this guy looked like he was created by the Illuminati (Oh yeah, and if I die now, it was definitely murder). He’s the anti-Obama.

4. Paul Ryan will have to fight Michelle Buchman for the Republican nomination. Maybe they split the ticket. The ascendancy of the Tea Party is nigh, like it or not.

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