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Showing posts from May, 2009

In My Garden On My Birthday

My sister, the Writing Diva (, sent me a list of all the things she can't get me for my upcoming birthday that I usually ask for – world peace and the like. Black Man Not Blogging, on the other hand, keeps trying to make a big to-do of it, dangling the prospect of stays at some of my favorite B&B’s – the Hill House Inn in Mendocino, the Deer Creek Inn in Nevada City. For me, it’s just not that complicated.

I just want to spend the day in my yard.

I’m a novice gardener. I didn’t really get into gardening until about eight years ago, but I enjoy taking a vision of perennials in my head (I don’t bother with annuals or shrubs anymore) and making it a visible, tangible reality. That’s not to say I haven’t killed a few plants along the way to following my vision. But if you’re not killing plants, you’re probably not really gardening. Gardening is in part about taking chances – planting something you think you’re incapable of nurturing and seeing what happens. …

Git To Work!

First, I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and kept our fallen servicemen and women in their thoughts and prayers.

Second, I have to acknowledge a comment made about my last entry that didn’t address President Obama's plan to indefinitely detain enemy combatants without trial. With this, I do not agree. Indefinite detention without charges is not acceptable. What if Iran had indefinitely detained Roxanne Saberi without a trial, even a sham one? What if North Korea indefinitely detains Laura Ling and Euna Lee without trial? We can’t lead if we don’t lead by example and under the rule of law, namely habeas corpus. President Obama needs to rethink this. I can’t go for that, no how, no can do.

Third, I’m pleased beyond words at the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court (see my May 1 blog entry). Now, to the Democrat senators: Git to work. Now is not the time for bipartisanship – great if you can get it on this nomination, but if you can’t, you b…

Against All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic

It’s been rather interesting watching the family feud that has become Obama vs. Cheney (they’re distant cousins, I understand, although I doubted whether Vice President Cheney was even represented in the human genome). The shift in anti-terrorism policy represented by the Obama administration flows, I think, from one central fact: President Obama is a lawyer, and Vice President Cheney is not.

As a Congressman and Vice President, I’m sure Vice President Cheney took the same oath President Obama did as an attorney and as a state senator and U.S. Senator: To defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. However, at the risk of sounding elitist, I think an attorney has a better understanding of what it means to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

As an attorney, it means that you don’t get to choose the outcome you want – in this case, national security at all costs -- and twist the Constitution to try to justify it. It means being wi…

A Federal Bailout for California: My Proposal


Dear President Obama and Chairman Bernanke,

On behalf of the citizens of the State of California, I’m asking for a bailout for the California state government in the amount of $42 billion. Specifically, I’m asking for a $42 billion zero-interest loan from the Fed window, repayable over 20 years and collateralized by the state’s real estate and other holdings and its pension fund. I’m not asking for stimulus fund monies with their numerous restrictions on public spending. Make no mistake – we want that money, too, on top of the $42 billion bailout.

Yes, I am fully aware that $42 billion is no small sum. However, compared to the $700 billion the federal government is spending on toxic assets, zombie banks, hubris-filled insurance companies and failing auto manufacturers, I think the positive economic impact that will come from assisting a state that houses 12.5% of the nation’s population will provide, in the parlance of financiers, “more bang for the buck.”

Mind you, I am not an e…

Voting My Interests or My Conscience

I’ve hesitated to turn in my absentee ballot for California’s May 19 special election. At first I wasn’t planning to vote at all – a surprising act for me since I’ve actually stopped in the middle of lectures to excoriate my law students for not voting. Like many Californians, I’m fed up and disgusted with my state government. What makes it worse is that I work for my state government.

At issue is whether I: 1) hold my nose and vote for the ballot measures “intended” to balance the state budget; or 2) take away the state’s credit card, wait for the Legislature and the Governor to get their collective acts together, and risk my own layoff? In other words, do I do what I think is in my own best interests or what is in the best interests of the state?

If the budget measures pass, I might avoid being laid off. If they fail, my chances of being laid off increase. However, given the ineptness of our state leaders, I’m not convinced that, even if the budget measures pass, I won’t be laid off b…

Mama Used To Say

And mama used to say, Take your time, young man...
Mama used to say, Don't you rush to get old...
Mama used to say, Take it in your stride...
Mama used to say, Live your life...

"Mama Used To Say," by Junior

Whenever I hear the song “Mama Used To Say” by Junior, it reminds me of all the things my mama used to say:

Don’t you rush to get old. You’re only a child once. Then you have to grow up and get a job.

I brought you in the world, and I can take you out.

Fast money is no money at all.

You can't ride with me unless you comb your hair.Do for self. Don’t depend on nobody.

Who promised you fair? Whoever told you life was fair, they lied to you.

I don’t have to do nothing but die and stay black.

You need to stay out of grown folks’ business.

Get your education so you don’t have to depend on no man.

I’m not your friend; I’m your mama. You can have lots of friends, but you only get one mama. (
So true!)

What goes around, comes around.

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say not…

Basketball Jones

Basketball Jones, I got a Basketball Jones

Got a Basketball Jones, oh baby, oo-oo-oo

From Cheech and Chong’s “Basketball Jones”

You know, BMNB doesn’t ask for much. He’s a very somber, unassuming guy who has been mistaken for a federal agent whenever he wears his shades and suits. He rarely, if ever, raises his voice to another person. He doesn’t like drama. He’s slow to anger. Real slow.

He also morphs into another being around this time of year: A being that raises his arms in the air as if he’s blocking a shot for the NBA team he’s watching on television. A being who makes loud and strange noises -- noises he would not make otherwise – when the playoff team he’s rooting for scores.

During the NBA playoffs, BMNB becomes “Basketball Jones,” a veritable stranger sitting on the loveseat in our family room with a dinner plate in one hand and the television remote close by, whooping and hollering. This man is not my husband. Beyonce becomes Sasha Fierce when she performs; BMNB becomes Basket…

Sisterhood of the Motherless Daughters

My poor husband, Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB). He doesn't need a calendar to know when Mother's Day is coming. My annual stank attitude around Mother's Day is more than enough warning.

If my attitude around Mother's Day had a smell, it would be this: Picture a huge pot of gumbo with every kind of meat you can imagine in it -- shrimp, crab, oysters, sausage, chicken, fish. Now imagine that pot of gumbo left outside, covered, for 30 days in 100 degree heat. Imagine that at day 15 someone threw in a dead skunk and put the cover back on.

That smell on day 30 would be the smell of my stank Mother's Day attitude.

Mother's Day is a stark reminder that, going on eleven years, I unwillingly joined what I call the "Sisterhood of the Motherless Daughters" -- women whose mothers are deceased. You know us when you see us. On Mother's Day morning, usually before church, we're at the cemetery. Most of us are in our late 30's and up, taking on the b…

Justice Sotomayor: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Justice David Souter is said to be retiring. We should all thank him for his service to our country. But it's time to look forward.

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court is an idea whose time has come.

If you look at the federal judiciary, it is overwhelmingly white and male. When a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit was asked by one of my law students the career path to becoming a judge, he gave the pithy reply, "It helps if you know your U.S. Senator."

Mind you, as a professor, I had hoped for an insightful answer -- that perhaps he had toiled as a prosecutor or public defender or rose through the ranks at a law firm to make partner. That he had argued x number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. That he had been attorney general for his state.

"It helps if you know your U.S. Senator."

How many women or people of color can say that? When you add to that the dearth of women and people …