Category Archives: Wisdom

I enthusiastically support [Biden/Sanders] and you should, too!!!!!

I’m going to go full-on unfiltered bitch on everyone.  My Warren sisters – we get one more day to grieve; my fellow Dems who are deeply unthrilled with the remaining choices – you get one more day to gripe.

Then we all pivot to VOCALLY/VISIBLY ENTHUSIASTICALLY SUPPORTING THE FIELD AND THE EVENTUAL NOMINEE.

Why? Because we don’t save our country from Trump by “holding our noses and voting.” We save our country by inspiring the 91,739,344 people who didn’t vote last time to get their asses to the polls.

It’s true that of the 327,000,000 people in the U.S., neither Sanders nor Biden would have been my choice for president. (My choice would be Julie Gonzales, followed closely by Stacey Abrams and Elizabeth Warren.) But that’s not how it works.

You know how to do this. You’ve had dinner at a friend’s house and happily, enthusiastically, eaten and even praised food that — if you were being honest — would have skipped the dog’s dish and gone straight to the compost heap. But there was a higher value: your love for your friend.

That’s where we are now. For the love of our current and future fellow Americans, for the love of the people at the border and in camps, for the love of the law that Trump’s courts would destroy, for the love of the earth, for the love of the truth, we need to happily, enthusiastically eat the dish called Democratic Nominee.

Every time you say something enthusiastic about Biden or Sanders, you are saving the country.  Your capes await you.

Super hero capes including Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Batman, and Iron Man

Amy’s Recipe for Perfect Iced Coffee

  1. Use Equal Exchange French roast coffee in a French press to make approximately 1/2 cup too much exquisitely  strong coffee in the early morning.
  2. Don’t drink all of it.
  3. Sometime in the afternoon, poor remainder over ice.
  4. Enjoy!

Coal company asks court to strike protest song lyrics from activists’ lawsuit

Coal company asks court to strike protest song lyrics from activists’ lawsuit.

{Image: four parallel coal trains rounding a bend in the track, the front two with coal cars full of coal.}

Image credit: energycatalyzer3.com

There is just so much to love about this.  That the plaintiffs’ lawyer — our friend Darold Killmer — included John Prine’s beautiful lyrics in his complaint.

Then the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man …
And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay?
Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.

That this annoyed Peabody Energy, the defendant.  That they were so annoyed and clueless that they moved to strike the lyrics as “irrelevant, immaterial, impertinent and/or inflammatory.”   (I love “impertinent” with its overtones of the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey.)  That this motion gave Darold the opportunity to write things like this:

Defendant Peabody Energy Corp. has paid its lawyers thousands of dollars to submit a 17 page brief in support of its four page Motion to Strike song lyrics from the Complaint because . . .   it wants “to avoid the expenditure of time and money that must arise from litigating spurious issues . . .”

and

A song can’t hurt Peabody, and recitation of a portion of the song will not cause Peabody undue difficulty or expense, except that which is self-inflicted.

and

Undersigned counsel is happy to report that the frequency of references to Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics in all types of legal writing is rising.

In fact, there is an entire section of the brief entitled “Non-Traditional Legal Writing is Good,” and I commend that to my vast audience of word nerds (hi, Mom!).

Obviously, the most delicious thing of all is that if Peabody had just put on its big-kid undies, ignored the lyrics, and moved on, no one would know.  Well, all of us with the privilege of hearing Darold recite his legal exploits would know, but it might not have surfaced outside the bar/bars of Denver.

Now, however, it’s in the ABA Journal.  And U.S. News & World Report.  And the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  And Wyoming Public Radio.

Self-inflicted, indeed!

Love wins.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

Obergefell v. Hodges, No. 14-556, 2015 WL 2473451, at *23 (U.S. June 26, 2015).

Far more Americans are killed each year by the shooters in our midst like Craig Stephen Hicks than have ever been killed by all the jihadist terrorist outfits that have ever stalked this earth. That’s the price, or so the rhetoric goes, of our wild freedom. But maybe to understand the Chapel Hill murders better we need to imagine how it would be playing out if it were the other way around—if some gun-toting Muslim, with a habit of posting hate messages about secular humanists, took it upon himself to execute a defenseless family of them in their home.

via The Chapel Hill Massacre Blues – The New Yorker.

When Florida Police Used Mug Shots of Black Men as Target Practice, Clergy Responded with #UseMeInstead – QR Blog Editor | God’s Politics Blog | Sojourners.

The effort was “motivated by our service to Christ and his call to love our neighbors,” Gonnerman told The Post.

“We initially started thinking if a whole lot of us, in our clergy collar and worship attire, sent our photos to them, it would make a really powerful statement,” Rev. Kris Totzke, a pastor in Texas, told The Post. “Then, it really snowballed, and we got people all over the country and of all different faiths.”

 

An inspiring evening with the ACLU of Colorado

We went to the ACLU of Colorado’s annual dinner on Friday.  This is always a very energizing experience — to be surrounded by friends and allies who are working hard (and/or donating boatloads of money) to protect civil rights and civil liberties.   It was especially inspiring this year for a number of reasons.  Our friend Laura Rovner was honored with an award for her amazing work on behalf of inmates in solitary confinement and other extreme conditions.  We all cheered our behinds off for a trio of recent court victories in police abuse cases.  And I enjoyed hanging with the next generation of civil rights advocates.

Laura’s friend and colleague Jeanne Theoharis introduced her, and spoke about the long struggle for civil rights and civil liberties.  Laura “walks in the shoes of Rosa Parks,” not because she is herself a Black woman standing up (sitting down) to racism, but because Rosa Parks was more than just a single moment in 1955.  She was an experienced civil rights worker, who had been advocating throughout the 1930s and 1940s as well, laboring for decades without much success.  Jeanne made me imagine a far more just future, in which Laura’s work will be remembered for the ground-breaking qualities it truly has.

Image: distance shot of white woman with black hair standing behind a podium addressing an audience.  The backs of several people's heads are visible in the foreground.

As an aside, I got into an interesting discussion after about the pros and cons of comparing a white lawyer to an African-American activist.  My thoughts, which probably need their own post at some point, are summed up much more eloquently by this graphic by Dan Wilkins:

Image: A circle the interior of which has been divided into 4 quarters.  Top left has the image of the sun rising over a mountain top with the words "I have a dream."  Top right has the symbol for "women"; bottom left has the rainbow stripes; bottom right has the international symbol of accessibility - white wheelchair against blue background.  Around the circumference of the circle are the words "Same Struggle. Different  Difference."

As the graphic says at the bottom, “There is power in knowing my struggle is your struggle and yours mine.”  If we are too quick to cordon off one set of struggles as the unique property of their protagonists, we miss the opportunity to perceive and fight the common enemies of fear, ignorance, and hatred of the unknown.

OK, where was I?  Oh right – the trio of amazing police abuse cases.  Our friends at Rathod Mohamedbhai achieved a $3.25 million settlement on behalf of Jamal Hunter against the Denver Sheriff Department, and our friends at Killmer, Lane & Newman, won back to back verdicts, first (with co-counsel Kate Stimson) $1.8 million against the Denver Police for a warrantless raid on the wrong house, resulting in wrongful prosecution, then $4.65 million against the Sheriff Department for the jail abuse death of homeless pastor Marvin Booker.  The first article stated that Denver had paid $16.7 million in damages since 2004 before these three cases; if my math is correct, the total now stands at $26.4.  And that’s just in damages — it doesn’t count the vast City resources (my tax dollars!) that go toward defending the indefensible.  It’s frustrating, after all those years and dollars, that the Denver Department of Safety can’t prevent these abuses.  It was satisfying to be able to congratulate breaking-news civil rights heroes Rathod Mohamedbhai and Killmer, Lane & Newman on Friday.

Now for the fun part (with apologies for incompetent phone photography).  I was so glad Laura brought her amazing daughter Claire

Image: white girl with blond hair and white woman with dark hair - with her arm around the white girl - facing the camera smiling.

and that we got to sit with Brittany Glidden and The Littlest Civil Rights Advocate, Ellie:

Image: white woman sitting at a dinner table holding a white toddler, both smiling for the camera.

And after the main event, dancing happened:

Image: slightly blurry photo of white woman in pink coat dancing with blond girl (from photo 2 above) in a black dress.

Arrested in Ferguson in an Act of Repentance | Jim Wallis

Arrested in Ferguson in an Act of Repentance | Jim Wallis.

Repentance is a powerful theme throughout the Bible. But its meaning is often not well understood. Repentance is not about being sorry or just feeling guilty. It is about turning in a new direction. The biblical word for repentance in the original Greek is metanoia, which means you are going in the wrong direction, and it’s time to turn right around.

Jim Wallis never fails to make me think.  It’s easy to express regret; much harder to change direction.

 

Beatitudes

We attended the funeral of a friend who passed earlier this month.  She was a wonderful, righteous, generous, sweet person, teacher, and friend.  The funeral was a Catholic mass, probably the third mass I’ve ever attended — including the invite-a-Jewish-friend mass I attended with a friend when I was about 11 — so I was even more unfamiliar with the ritual than I am in a slightly closer-to-home reform synagogue or Episcopalian service.  But the lack of familiarity combined with the emotion of the occasion pulled me out of my own head, where I spend way too much time, and hit me with a 2×4 of wisdom.

It came in the form of the Beatitudes, which the priest recited because they were so very fitting for Liz Feldman — long a teacher and activist.  They really struck me, especially the final passage:

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

 Matthew 5:10-12.

It seems to me that Jesus was telling his followers that they would go forth and preach the word they believed in and would take a great deal of crap for it, but should have the faith to see beyond the crap, and realize that perhaps even because they had to take a lot of crap, they were righteous, and their reward was elsewhere than in the arena in which crap was being dished out.*  We take a fair amount of crap as plaintiffs’ lawyers, and I know and work with people who represent clients on the far margins of society, and take great deal more crap for it.  But when we are most reviled, and hear all manner of false, evil crap, it is likely just then that we are most true to our righteous course.

We’ll miss you, Liz.

*******

* Possible that religious scholars would not phrase it precisely this way.

Art Appreciation: Dustin McNa

Tim and I and our friend Kevin Williams decided to get cultured and appreciated some art last night.  Tim’s assistant Dustin McNa is a talented artist whose work is on display for the month at the Europa Coffee House.

The artist in residence:

{Image:  photo of a white man with short brown hair and a beard sitting in an upholstered chair looking toward the camera.  Above and to his right is a painting perhaps 3 feet high by 2 feet wide of a person standing facing the viewer with his hands held out in front of him as if to show something.  In the background of this large painting are buildings.  In the background of the photo are additional, smaller paintings and other chairs and tables in a coffee shop.}

I wish I had the vocabulary to describe his work but sadly that part of my brain is completely overwhelmed by the parts that think in outline format, answer Jeopardy questions about word origins, and remember to feed the dog.  But I really enjoy Dustin’s work and have purchased one piece that — when the part of my brain that should be in charge of organization gets organized — I plan to hang on my wall.

Dustin explains his work to Kevin:

{Image:  Interior of a coffee shop with table and chairs (some wooden; some upholstered).  In the left side of the photograph, a man (same man as earlier photo - white man with short hair and beard) sits on the arm of a chair looking up toward a painting on the wall. One arm is extended toward the painting as he explains it.  To the left side of the photo is another white man, with a knit cap, glasses and a beard.  He also looks at the painting as he listens.}