f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

October 5, 2005

supreme court: sages or steel traps?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:42 pm

Show me a brilliant judge whose philosophy (of life, government or

baseball) is the same at 60 or 70 as it was at 20 or 30, and I’ll

show you a mind like a old steel trap — so rusty it’s often useless

or dangerous.  That’s why I worry when told that a nominee to the

Supreme Court “won’t get there and change his mind.”  For my

money, an ideologue who has all the answers from the first day

her butt hits the bench — not learning from the perspectives of others

or the lessons of unanticipated situations, facts, and consequences —

does not, by definition, have an appropriate judicial temperament. 

tiny check And, that’s true even if the nominee

appears today to share all of my political and

ethical beliefs.  (There’s no way, for instance,

that I would want the person I was ten or twenty

years ago making all of my decisions today.)

eyesN  In a post last June, “political maturation after age 30“,  

I gave a 21st Century version of the old saw about the worldviews of

those under 30 and over 40 (which is often incorrectly attributed

to Winston Churchill).  It tweaks conservatives by saying that

anyone over 50 whose heart, mind and eyes are still working is

a “thoughtful liberal”.  The main point, however, is not the tilt of

one’s resultant politics.  The crux can be summarized in two


I refuse to believe that personal or political maturation

ends at 30. 

Whatever the conditions in other times and societies,

our stable, affluent and open society permits — and 

responsible citizenship demands — that each individual

continue to learn and grow through successive decades,

letting experience and wisdom remove the blinders of

ideology and radicalism. 

In contrast, Pres. Bush declared on Tuesday:

“I’m interested in finding somebody who shares my philos-
ophy today, and will have that same philosophy 20 years

from now…That’s the way Harriet Miers…is.”

To use a mandatory sports metaphor (but, unlike Bainbridge  “BBallGuys”

and Beldar, eschewing baseball) the very best NBA and NFL

coaches do a lot of learning and adjusting over the years. They

don’t bring their college playbooks and stick to them come hell

or highwater.


Bocce might make a better analogy: near-perfect physical

shape is not required to be world-class; strategy and finesse 

are what count the most.  It’s the wrinkled old-timers, not their

grandkids, who are smiling at the end of almost every game.



Professor Bainbridge wants Pres. George W. Bush to

nominate “a young, committed movement conservative

possessing one of the greatest legal minds of his/her

generation.”  Steve thinks that will guarantee the sort

of decisions that he wishes the Court would make

today.  But, if that great legal mind is both brilliant and

wise, we shouldn’t be able to precisely predict outcomes

over the course of the justice’s service on the Supreme

Court.  And, if Prof. B is both brilliant and wise, his idea

of the perfect result will also change over the next couple

of decades. 

No ideology has all the answers.  Sometimes, really smart people

(and really dull ones) think that they do.   Elders get wise by

learning, observing, listening — not by sticking to the dogma

or prejudices of their youth and merely getting old.  We deserve

Supreme Court justices who are sages, not just steel traps.


tiny check By the way, none of the above means that

I endorse Harriet Miers. (see prior post)

update (Oct. 6, 2005): Please see Lyle Denniston’s excellent Commentary

at SCOTUSblog, “Mortgaging Miers’ future” (Oct. 5, 2005).  He argues

“To demonstrate that ability [to be her own person], she has

to contradict the President’s firm declaration that her philosophy

of the law will remain locked fordecades in the time capsule

of the Bush presidency. If the President is right about her, she

could be reminded, no change in political, social, cultural or

economic circumstances, however radical, could move her to

rethink constitutional dogma.”

Denniston quotes from Pres. Bush’s press conference on Oct. 4: “closedSmn”

“I know her well enough to be able to say that she’s not

going to change, that 20 years from now she’ll be the same

person with the same philosophy that she is today. She’ll

have more experience, she’ll have been a judge, but, never-

theless, her philosophy won’t change. And that’s important

to me…I don’t want to put somebody on the bench who is

this way today, and changes. That’s not what I’m interested

in. I’m interested in finding somebody who shares my philos-

ophy today, and will have that same philosophy 20 years from

now…That’s the way Harriet Miers…is.”

Denniston notes: “It is very easy to recall Justices who changed during

their service on the Court. . . . To mention just a few: the first (and the

second) John Marshall Harlan, Chief Justice Earl Warren, Justice Owen

Roberts — and, of course, Justice Jackson,” He concludes:

“If President Bush knows, with confidence, that a Justice

Miers would never adapt in that way, he has put her on the

defensive on the first day after she was chosen, and perhaps

for the balance of any years she would spend as a Justice.”



  • by dagosan                                               

icy bridge —

grandpa says

“if you skid, pump the brakes”



[Oct. 5, 2005]



the past tugs at the heart–
the Old Man’s
wooden bowl



  translated by David G. Lanoue  


prime haiku with jim kacian

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:46 pm

It’s been months since I’ve mentioned a great

resource available only here at f/k/a — the

pre-publication version of jim kacian’s haiku primer,

First Thoughts.  Why not pour yourself a glass

of wine and spend time with a poet-editor-publisher

who is a household name among lovers of English-

language haiku.  Here’s the Table of Contents: 



part 1:  Introduction 

              Chapter One – What is a Haiku?

              Chapter Two – Form

              Chapter Three – Content


part 2:  Chapter Four – Technique

              Chapter Five – Language

              Chapter Six – How to Write Haiku


part 3:  Chapter Seven – A (Very) Brief History of Haiku

              Chapter Eight – Related Forms

              Chapter Nine – Performance

              Endnote – Haiku: The World’s Longest Poem





For an appetizer, let’s share a six-pack

with Jim: 




autumn breeze—
shadows of wheat
in the waving wheat





overnight flight—
how slowly light comes
around the world







hummingbird I stop a moment










the cold night
comes out of the stones
all morning




                                                                                              leaves falling

leaves falling  leaves falling

walking in
the orchard      suddenly
                          its      plan






passing the jug
the warmth
of many hands

“the cold night” – Presents of Mind (1996)

“walking in” – Six Directions

“passing the jug” –  a second spring

“autumn breeze” & “overnight” & hummingbird” – Simply Haiku (Aug. 2003)



breadwine neg


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