Constitutional Writes: The gay wedding cake case

Befuddled and even a little dismayed that today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to create a cake for a same-sex wedding skirted the overarching constitutional issues involved and turned instead on case-specific issues? (The Court’s majority opinion, which was not divided along ideological lines, focused on specific actions... Read more »

Loss of Tom Wolfe, Philip Roth leaves big literary shoes to fill

In the space of less than two weeks, we lost two giants in modern American literature. Both of the same generation, each groundbreaking and provocative in his own way, but at the same time very different in style and substance. Tom Wolfe, of course, was the dapper, eccentric Southern-gentleman author of such classics as The... Read more »

No Green in These Genes: When your family tree reveals you’re not Irish after all

Growing up, I was told I was Scottish, French Canadian, and one-quarter Irish on my father’s side. My dad’s mother, Thelma O’Dell, came from good Irish stock in County Cork, the story went. I never knew her; she died of tuberculosis at 36 and was for me a figure shrouded in mystique. I had even... Read more »
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Tarantino's Manson movie invites more apprehension than anticipation

When I first read that director Quentin Tarantino was shooting a film centered around the 1969 Charles Manson murder rampage, I rolled my eyes. Why, Quentin, why? Tarantino, the former video store clerk turned directing genius, is one of my favorite filmmakers. But not only has this particular story been done to death (no pun... Read more »

Oscar of Yesteryear: Who Won and Who Should Have Won

<b>1998 Best Picture Winner: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE.
Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein (enough said about him) basically bought the Oscar for this Miramax production. Does anybody even remember this mediocre comedy starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes? If they do it’s most likely for Judi Dench’s Oscar-winning but too-brief appearance as Queen Elizabeth I.  Or for Paltrow in drag as a boy. </b>
Every time the Academy Awards roll around, I can’t help thinking about all the films, actors, and actresses who were more deserving of taking home the Oscar–in my humble opinion–than the ones who actually did. It seems the winners are often not chosen on merit, but on popularity and trendiness. A lot like the cool... Read more »

A way to deter mass shooters: Stop giving them recognition

These mass shootings have become tragically routine. As have the usual gun-control debates that rage in their aftermath. Now a new proposal is gaining traction, one that could be a very powerful deterrent if only the mass media would heed it. These shooters—overwhelmingly male, mostly (but not always) young, often mentally ill and/or antisocial, alienated,... Read more »
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No matter how you spin it, Brendan Dassey's confession was unreliable (Part 3)

In law school, they teach us about established legal theories and landmark court decisions such as Miranda and the like, which are supposed to set the rules for the way we interact among ourselves as citizens and the way the government interacts with us. But these principles are on paper, and what’s on paper is... Read more »

Celebrating a Christmastime Birthday

My birthday is several days before Christmas. Before you go into sympathetic mode, let me preempt you. I love it. I’ve always loved it. I have never had a problem having a Christmastime birthday, even though everyone else seems to think I should. My whole life, people have kind of shaken their heads and tut-tutted... Read more »

The shameful police interrogation of Brendan Dassey (Part 2)

(In my last post, I explained that a 4-3 Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision released Dec. 8 held that Brendan Dassey’s 2006 murder confession was admissible and upheld his conviction, reversing a federal district court ruling that had granted Dassey habeas corpus relief.) For a very long time, I was one of those who... Read more »
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Making a Murderer’s Brendan Dassey loses quest to have confession thrown out (Part 1)

Anyone who watched Netflix’s hit 2015 documentary Making a Murderer is familiar with the case of Brendan Dassey, a 17-year-old Wisconsin youth who was convicted of helping his uncle murder Theresa Hallbach. Last Friday, a bitterly divided Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals likely defeated any remaining chance Dassey had of having his conviction overturned and... Read more »