SCOTUS Votes 6-3 Again


Byline: Jess Bravin

Writing for the court, Justice Neil Gorsuch said coach Joe Kennedy’s prayers were private speech that couldn’t be construed as representing the school district and were protected by the First Amendment.

The court rejected arguments that the public devotions could be seen as coercive particularly to the players, who depend on the coach’s approval on matters ranging from time on the field to college recommendations.

Students who might feel discomfort with Mr. Kennedy’s evangelical Christian prayers should consider it a lesson, for “learning how to tolerate speech or prayer of all kinds is part of learning how to live in a pluralistic society,” Justice Gorsuch wrote.

Dissenting Opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor:

  • The First Amendment prohibits official “establishment of religion” to elevate another, in the clause protecting the “free exercise of faith.” The decision by the majority “elevates one individual’s interest in personal religious exercise, in the exact time and place of that individual’s choosing, over society’s interest in protecting the separation between church and state, eroding the protections for religious liberty for all.” This decision of the majority was “particularly misguided because it elevates the religious rights of a school official, who voluntarily accepted public employment and the limits that public employment entails, over those of his students, who are required to attend school and who this Court has long recognized are particularly vulnerable and deserving of protection.”

“Where Are the Ukrainian POWs?” wsj, 14 June 2022

Where are the Ukrainian POWs?, by Jillian Kay Melchior, wsj editorial page writer

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently said Russia had taken nearly 6,500 Ukrainian soldiers prisoner since February, Voice of America reported. Ukraine said in early April that it held some 600 Russian POWs. The Ukrainian government is tight-lipped about negotiations for prisoner exchanges, and the families of Mariupol’s defenders say they don’t know how Russia has treated their loved ones. But Ukrainian human-rights activists say Russia routinely tortures prisoners of war, deprives them of necessities, and holds them in deplorable conditions.

Mariupol’s defenders included the Azov Regiment . . . and the 36th Marine Brigade. After enduring weeks of siege and brutal attack, the Ukrainian soldiers laid down their arms in hope of saving lives. Many civilians were successfully evacuated from the Ukrainian soldiers’ last stronghold in the city. Bohdan Krotevych, the Azov Regiment’s 29-year-old chief of staff, said last month that the Ukrainians proposed that Russia would receive their severely wounded soldiers and release them in a prisoner exchange.

The Russians said no — “either everyone or no one” would have to surrender. Mr. Krotevych told me by text message on May 18. “So we were faced with a very tough choice . . . Those with serious wounds were basically rotting away and slowly dying in our hospitals, while the enemy was robbing the humanitarian convoys with medicine.” By May 20 he had stopped responding to messages, and the press reported the soldiers’ surrender.

“The only comfort is they are no longer under direct threat of dying from combat,” says Maria Netreba, 24.

The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, June 14, 2022, p. A19

wsj, Wednesday, 23 March 2022: Devastation, Mariupol

The excerpt below was from a Page 1 article written by WSJ correspondent Isabel Coles.

For those caught in Mariupol, the situation has been desperate. Women and children largely stayed hidden, while men ventured out to scavenge for food, find water and search for a phone signal to find out what was going on.

Dmitro, 25, joined efforts with neighbors he had never met before the war to find wood and keep a fire burning from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. On March 9, he was making tea on the fire when an airstrike hit the nearby maternity hospital in what was one of the highest profile attacks on civilians during the almost monthlong fighting. The shock wave lifted him off his feet. Since then, he said, the bombardment has been relentless.

As the bombing intensified, basements and bomb shelters filled up as people whose homes had been destroyed sought shelter in the shrinking area of the city controlled by Ukrainian forces.


After Russian forces took control of the main intensive-care hospital, there was nowhere to treat the wounded, nor any medicine, people who fled the city said. The director of the heart-disease center told Mykola Trofymenko he had been forced to amputate the mangled leg of a patient using a kitchen knife without anesthetic.

Today’s Headlines, 3rd Tuesday of March 2022

WALL STREET JOURNAL, Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine — Russian forces are killing civilians and looting stores and homes across occupied parts of southern Ukraine, residents said, as Moscow arrested elected local leaders and sought to replace them with pro-Russian collaborators.

People arriving here from Russian-held areas over the weekend described hungry and undisciplined Russian troops shooting unarmed villagers, breaking into supermarkets and shops, and raiding homes in search of food and valuables as their own supply lines have failed.

“They just brazenly come in, without any shame, and take whatever they want,” said Valentyn Khodus, 64, who came to Zaporizhzhia from the small village of Myrne after days hiding in the cellar with her daughter and grandson as Russian troops went door to door ransacking houses.

Two neighbors who were driving a car with a Ukrainian flag were shot and killed by a Russian patrol last week, she said. “It’s still there, on the roadside, and their bodies are still inside,” Ms. Khodus said.

Russia said it isn’t planning an occupation of Ukraine and that its forces are liberating Ukrainians.

Quote of the Day: Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)

To refuse to countenance a war that does not speak its true name . . . you can no longer mumble the old excuse, “We didn’t know”; and now that you do know, can you continue to feign ignorance or content yourselves with mere token utterances of horrified sympathy?

— Simone de Beauvoir, French author and activist

Also Reading: Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars

Julius Caesar, born 100 BC, murdered on the Ides of March 44 BC, left us his Commentaries, on his seven campaigns against the Gauls. Since self has been getting most of her book recommendations from the wsj (at least, while she isn’t traveling), she’s been reading a lot of books about wars and colonization. The book that’s her main current read, Andréa Reséndez’s Conquering the Pacific, is absolutely fascinating. She’s also reading Bewilderment, her second Richard Powers novel (more on that later), and just today she began reading the Oxford World Classics version of Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War. The translation is by Carolyn Hammond, who has written the very comprehensive Introduction.

It’s been a long time since self studied Roman history, but here are a few things she’s gleaned from the Introduction so far:

  • Caesar’s great rival was Pompey. As a very young man (in his mid-20s), Pompey raised an army to defend the legate Sulla, and was sent to Africa to defeat Sulla’s enemies there. He returned to Rome in triumph at the age of 26, and was rewarded with the surname ‘the Great.’ (No wonder Caesar hated him)
  • “Succeeding in Roman politics was an expensive business . . . but a foreign war offered opportunities for enriching self” which Caesar learned just from watching Pompey’s example.
  • “The largest unit of the Roman army was the legion, with a nominal strength of 6,000 soldiers.” Each legion was made up of cohorts: “ten cohorts per legion, each containing 600 men.”
  • “Legionaries typically served twenty years or sixteen campaigns before discharge . . . All the soldiers in a legion . . . carried the same equipment: defensive body armour made of leather and metal . . . a shield made of wood covered with leather and metal. The usual offensive weapons carried were the sword and javelin.”
  • The legions were supplemented by “auxiliary forces . . . supplied by subject territories. They were often stationed on the wings in battle, though if the Roman commander had doubts about their loyalty he would sometimes place them in the centre to stop them running away.”
  • There were also “about 300 cavalry” accompanying each legion. “They were mainly used for skirmishing, scouting, and pursuing routed enemies, but the mobility afforded by their being mounted made it easy for them to run away in times of danger, and they were thus treated as unreliable.”

Fascinating stuff!

Herr Pauli, AWIB p. 67

Self decided to go back a few pages and examine the only other male presence in the narrator’s life (Self means, the only other male presence who’s not a Russian soldier taking advantage of her) and it’s a man named Herr Pauli, an accountant who was conscripted by the Volkssturm and who improbably makes it back to his apartment building when the German defenses collapse.

  • . . . only this morning he was courting death with the Volkssturm, until his troop had the sense to disband and, lacking both weapons and any orders to the contrary, dismissed themselves and went home. Suddenly he belches, falls forward, and throws up on the carpet . . . The others shake their heads, and express their sympathy. Then Herr Pauli crumples into bed in his room next door, where he spends the rest of the day and, as it turns out, the foreseeable future. A lame duck — probably his subconscious wants him that way. Neuralgia of the soul. Even so, his simple male presence keeps things somewhat in check.

The women jump at every noise and huddle around the sleeping Herr Pauli’s bed . . . “other than that, we feel completely at the mercy of anyone and everyone.”

Don’t think the exact same thing isn’t happening under the Taliban in Afghanistan. Today’s wsj had a front-page story about how all women who served in the Afghan military or air force are now being hunted and have gone into hiding. The headline: FORMER AFGHAN FEMALE TROOPS HIDE FROM TALIBAN TO SURVIVE.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WSJ Readers Respond to “President Trump Responds on Pennsylvania”


Although I can appreciate the value of your newsletter printing letters from writers of various views, it seems extremely important to vet these letters for truth, fact, and veracity. Yet you publish a letter from former President Trump, who doesn’t accept truth and fact. He continues to destroy our institutions and norms to advantage himself.

The decision to publish his letter was a mistake. It is not “cancel culture” to refuse to print false allegations and lies. It is important to support cold, hard facts. Because Mr. Trump’s assertions of “rigged” elections and “corruption” are so damaging to the fabric of a democratic society, a response to these fabrications from these editors is necessary.

Wall Street Journal, Letters to the Editor, Weekend, Oct. 30-31, 2021


If Democrats rigged the 2020 election employing the nefarious tactics alleged by President Trump, why didn’t Democrats apply the same dishonest devices to win more of the 435 House and 35 Senate races? The hundreds of Republican incumbents and challengers who lost their races haven’t complained to the Federal Election Commission or file lawsuits. Had Democrats possessed the power to rig elections in 2020, they surely would have used it to secure sufficient seats to avoid the congressional deadlock that plagues the American people today.

Wall Street Journal, Letters to the Editor, Weekend, Oct. 30 – 31, 2021

Kyrsten Sinema, Martyr?

Kimberley A. Strassel, Potomac Watch, Wall Street Journal, Friday, 16 October 2021

Like Saturn, the revolution devours its children. And like clockwork, the progressive mob has set on Kyrsten Sinema. Next time the left lectures on unity, women’s rights or Joe Biden’s decency, lock your door.

The Arizona senator continues to infuriate her fellow Democrats, who are frenzied to impose their $3.5 trillion social revolution. Ms. Sinema reportedly has issues with the cost of the package as well as its tax proposals and some programs. She’s conducted dozens of meetings with the White House and key players, though has also made clear she won’t be jammed and won’t negotiate with the public. Her refusal to bow to the left’s price tag and timeline has incensed colleagues and activists alike.

“Progressive mob” — cute, really cute. Is Strassel drawing or trying to draw parallels between the protesters who followed Sinema into a restroom to the Jan. 6 rioters? Try harder, Strassel. There were only three people in that bathroom, as opposed to 1000+ in DC on Jan. 6

Strassel is an apologist for Sinema. Doesn’t fly with self. Self loathes this woman, right? Loathes her. She is no champion of Middle America, as anyone can see from her fantastically twee outfits that only get more tacky the longer the senator stays in Congress.

Strassel’s main complaint is that “the left” (someone please tell self what she means by “the left”) have no manners: they confront Sinema any old place, such as in airplanes. Tough! That’s what she signed up for. It’s not all press appearances and meetings with Big Pharma.

Listen up, Sinema: if you’re so bothered by protesters, suggest you don full-body armor. Or Hazmat suit. Or maybe go full-on ‘Congressional’ and wear a suit. If you did the latter, you’d be unrecognizable. That would be a pretty good disguise!

Stay tuned.

The Reading Year (So Far, 2021)

From wsj’s Best Books of 2020/Science Fiction:

  • The Relentless Moon, by Mary Robinette Kowal – So far, one of the best novels she’s read in 2021
  • Ballistic Kiss, by Richard Kadrey – wildly inventive, self wasn’t so taken with the he/she/they gender politics of a major character

In a category by itself:

  • Dark, Salt, Clear, by Lamorna Ash — A first book by a 22-year-old, E.S.A.D.

Kick-Ass Discovery of the Year:

  • Eddie’s Boy, by Thomas Perry, the sequel to a 1982 novel, The Butcher’s Boy – That’s chutzpah, coming up with a sequel 40 years later. Kudos! Self added The Butcher’s Boy to her reading list.

from wsj’s Best Books of 2020/Mysteries:

  • All the Devils Are Here, by Louise Penny — Self adored Jean-Guy Beauvoir and of course Paris.
  • One Fatal Flaw, by Anne Perry — All hail the May-December almost-romance between 25-year-old Daniel Pitt and 40-year-old Miriam Crofft, daughter of his employer.

from The Economist’s Books of the Year 2020/Memoir

  • A Promised Land, by Barack Obama — Beautifully written, can’t believe 45 was succeeded by Drumpf.

from The Economist’s Books of the Year 2020/Fiction

  • SHUGGIE BAIN, by Douglas Stuart — an absolutely immersive experience, though her favorite character was not the title character but his unheralded older brother, Leek

from The Economist’s Books of the Year 2020/Business and Economics

  • No Rules Rules — This one was a disappointment.

from wsj’s Books of the Year 2020/Travels in the New North

  • Ice Walker, by James Raffan — another absolutely immersive experience, the ending almost broke self.

from Jonathan Strahan’s Notes from a Year Spent Indoors (Locus Magazine)

  • the first two books in Joe Abercrombie’s (smashing) Age of Madness trilogy and her first Grimdark: A Little Hatred and The Trouble with Peace

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