“For Once, The Rich White Man Is In Control.”

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charles_montgomery_burns-2254588Sorry folks I got caught up writing an 11th Circuit response brief, and missed all the fun yesterday.As I was working on the brief, I was reminded again of V.S. Naipaul’s advice for young writers:

“I didn’t know how you seduced a woman, how you excited her and thought of her pleasure. I hadn’t got that from my upbringing. There was no one telling me about it or talking about it. I realised all this later, much later….A young taxi driver was driving me back from the [railway] station one day. He said his father had told him ‘Always please the woman first.’ A marvellous thing to tell the son, don’t you think? I wish someone had told me that. But we grew up with this furtive incestuous idea.”

Oops! Wrong passage.

I meant this:

1. Do not write long sentences. A sentence should not have more than ten or twelve words.

2. Each sentence should make a clear statement. It should add to the statement that went before. A good paragraph is a series of clear, linked statements.

3. Do not use big words. If your computer tells you that your average word is more than five letters long, there is something wrong. The use of small words compels you to think about what you are writing. Even difficult ideas can be broken down into small words.

4. Never use words whose meaning you are not sure of. If you break this rule you should look for other work.

5. The beginner should avoid using adjectives, except those of colour, size and number. Use as few adverbs as possible.

6. Avoid the abstract. Always go for the concrete.

7. Every day, for six months at least, practice writing in this way. Small words; short, clear, concrete sentences. It may be awkward, but it’s training you in the use of language. It may even be getting rid of the bad language habits you picked up at the university. You may go beyond these rules after you have thoroughly understood and mastered them.

Wow, imagine if we all wrote briefs like this (and judges wrote opinions that way!).But Naipaul’s comments about his relations with women merely highlight the obvious — we are all the sum of our experiences. If Naipaul had not grown up as an Indian immigrant in colonial Trinidad, would he have produced the great post-colonial works that emerged from that background?

Same, sorry to say, with Glenn Garvin — he is a product of having watched too many Simpsons episodes, and always rooting for Montgomery Burns.

Personally I’m sick to death of the confirmation process already, but here is the offending quote from Judge Sotomayor that Garvin is all lathered up about:

”Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum,” Sotomayor says, “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”

She should be asked about this, obviously.

But anyone who went to UM Law School (founded on “legal realism” principles) or who practices in the 3d DCA know that judges decide things based on a variety of factors, including the law, precedent, and sometimes what they had for breakfast.

In Judge Sotomayor’s case, we have a few decades of opinions to digest, which Scotusblog has been kind enough to summarize (Glenn, you might want to cite to at least one opinion from her long judicial career that supports this “racial essentialism” charge).

Read the Pappas opinion and dissent (summarized here with links by Greenwald) before you throw around this kind of “identity politics” charge.

Although her comments about her ethnicity and background are clearly fair game and deserve some inquiry, you also have to examine in her case several decades of judging before simply pronouncing her biased and racist.

Unless you’re the TV writer for the Herald, of course.