Patterico's Pontifications

1/12/2014

What I’m Reading These Days

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:53 pm

As I indicated yesterday, I’m a little bored with politics lately. I thought I’d share a couple of books I’m reading.

One is an excellent book I heard about from Doug McIntyre of KABC. It’s titled The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity.

The thesis of the book is that ex-presidents often come together and put politics aside after they leave office, because they recognize the enormous responsibilities and pressures of the job. But the book is perhaps more interesting because it is an account of presidential politics since Truman, with a focus on the personalities involved. You get to learn about Hoover’s and Eisenhower’s relationship with Truman. There are accounts of the battles and friendships among Reagan, Ford, and Nixon. I’ve learned a lot about 20th century presidential politics that I didn’t know. For example, since I was a kid during Watergate, I admit I didn’t realize precisely how Ford became President. I knew he was Nixon’s vice president and took over after Nixon’s resignation, of course — but I didn’t realize that he was appointed by Nixon after Spiro Agnew resigned under the threat of prosecution for taking bribes as a governor . . . or that Ford was not Nixon’s first choice, but was chosen by Nixon because John Connally would not be approved by Democrats in Congress. It’s a well done and captivating book and I highly recommend it.

I have also started Mark Twain’s travel book The Innocents Abroad. It’s 99 cents on your Kindle [UPDATE: or, as Smock Puppet points out, free here if you can figure out how to download it and get it on your device]. Twain’s style is hilarious. For example, here he is on the wonderful sense of satisfaction we all feel when other people are seasick and we are not:

I knew what was the matter with them. They were seasick. And I was glad of it. We all like to see people seasick when we are not, ourselves.

Finally, I am looking forward to reading the latest Bernie Rhoderbarr book from Lawrence Block, The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons (Bernie Rhodenbarr). In my opinion, Block is the only mystery writer on par with Michael Connelly. It’s Block, so it has to be good.

P.S. After reading some of The Presidents Club, I went looking for YouTube clips of Nixon tapes. I found this amusing bit where Nixon, Haldeman, and others are discussing Archie Bunker and homosexuality, from May 13, 1971. Takeaway lines from Nixon: “Sure, Aristotle was a homo, we all know that. So was Socrates. . . . Do you know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags. The last six.”

Ah, Oval Office banter. And he knew he was taping himself. What a maroon.

Oklahoma Bill Seeks to Restore Some Common Sense on Zero Tolerance

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:29 pm

I like it:

Schoolchildren in Oklahoma could not be punished for chewing their breakfast pastries into the shape of a gun under a bill introduced this week by a Republican legislator.

Rep. Sally Kern said Wednesday her measure dubbed the Common Sense Zero Tolerance Act was in response to school districts having policies that are too strict or inflexible.

Kern cited a recent Maryland case that gained national media attention where a boy was suspended after his teacher accused him of chewing his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.

. . . .

Under Kern’s bill, students couldn’t be punished for possessing small toy weapons or using writing utensils, fingers or their hands to simulate a weapon. Students also couldn’t be punished for drawing pictures of weapons or wearing clothes that “support or advance Second Amendment rights or organizations.”

Naturally, the teachers don’t like it:

News9.com reported that Kern’s proposal was met with immediate opposition from the Oklahoma Education Association.

“The proposed legislation removes local control from teachers, counselors, administrators and local school boards. Educators are degreed professionals, trained and experienced in dealing with children,” Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, told the station.

Degreed, trained, experienced professionals . . . who sometimes punish children for creating gun-shaped Pop Tarts.

Yeah, we’ll just go ahead and remove a little local control, mmmkay?

Thanks to Instapundit.

Popehat Quoted in New York Times on Roger Shuler: “Idiocy Is Not a Zero-Sum Game”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:25 pm

Roger Shuler is an extraordinarily reckless leftist who has published several questionable pieces about figures on the right. No rumor is too thin, and no allegation too unsourced, to make its way into the pages of Shuler’s blog — as long as the target is someone on the right. (The fans of Brett Kimberlin love him.)

But when Shuler published one of his wild accusations against the son of a former Alabama governor, a judge issued apparently unconstitutional prior restraint orders before a final adjudication of the lawsuit. When Shuler then refused to obey the judge’s order, police came to arrest him for contempt. He allegedly resisted, and he was charged with contempt and resisting arrest. He has been jailed for weeks.

The New York Times has published an article about Shuler, the judge who issued the apparently illegal orders, and the entire situation is summed up well by my friend Ken White from Popehat, who is quoted in the article:

“You’ve got a situation where sometimes there’s no good guys,” said Ken White, a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles who writes about and practices First Amendment law.

. . . .

“Idiocy is not a zero-sum game,” Mr. White said. “I think you can say that what the court is doing is unconstitutional and troublesome and also that Shuler is his own worst enemy.”

Roger Shuler is not a good guy, in my opinion. The circles in which he travels and the methods he employs lead me to suspect that the things he writes are often false. That does not justify treating him in a manner at odds with the Constitution.

Idiocy is not a zero-sum game. Good stuff. Well played, Mr. Popehat.


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