On the opposite sides of the Civil Rights struggle: Lindy Boggs and Robert Byrd, Jr.

This week has brought notice of the death of two political figures from the past:  Lindy Boggs and Harry Byrd, Jr.  Both in their late 90s and had been out of office and out of the news for a number of years.  But it is notable that although of similar age and from the south, they were opposites when it came to civil rights.

Lindy Boggs was the window of House Speaker Hale Boggs who died in a plane crash in Alaska.  I remember when this happened in 1972,  I was moving out of my student movement phase and beginning to take an interest in electoral politics. Boggs ran to replace him following a tradition of widows taking over for their politician husbands.   Boggs, however, was different.  She went on to serve nine terms in Congress (several of them representing a majority black district) and become a champion of women’s rights and civil rights while representing Louisiana.  The New York Times describes some of her legislative efforts.

Mrs. Boggs during her Congressional campaign in 1973

Mrs. Boggs during her Congressional campaign in 1973

The velvet Southern charm she had absorbed growing up on two Louisiana plantations was her not-so-secret weapon.

She displayed it early in her first term when the House banking committee was composing an amendment to a lending bill banning discrimination on the basis of race, age or veteran status. She added the words “sex or marital status,” ran to a copying machine and made a copy for each member.

In her memoir she recalled saying: “Knowing the members composing this committee as well as I do, I’m sure it was just an oversight that we didn’t have ‘sex’ or ‘marital status’ included. I’ve taken care of that, and I trust it meets with the committee’s approval.”

Thus was sex discrimination prohibited by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974.

I always loved that story.

Mrs. Boggs used her membership on the Appropriations Committee to push for other women’s economic concerns, like equal pay for government jobs and equal access to government business contracts. She became a champion of historic preservation and port development, flood control and housing in her New Orleans district.

Mrs. Boggs championed racial justice at a time when doing so invited the resentment if not hostility of most Southern whites. She saw the growing civil rights movement as necessary to the political reform movement of the 1940s and ’50s.

“You couldn’t want to reverse the injustices of the political system and not include the blacks and the poor; it was just obvious,” she said in 1990.

While her husband was in office, she supported civil rights legislation as well as Head Start and antipoverty programs. As the president of two organizations of Congressional wives, she saw to it that each group was racially integrated.

She has been honored by the House with the naming, in 1991, of the Lindy Claiborne Boggs Congressional Women’s Reading Room.  She was 97 when she died.

At the other end of the civil rights spectrum is Harry Byrd, Jr., the long time Senator from Virginia, and not to be confused with Robert Byrd of West Virginia.  When I moved to Virginia in 1965, Byrd was my Senator.  He had just been appointed to replace his father who had died.  The Byrd Machine ruled Virginia Democratic State politics at the time and both Byrds worked hard to maintain segregation in Virginia schools.  The New York Times writes

Even as a middle-aged man, Mr. Byrd was often called “Little Harry” or “Young Harry.” By the 1920s, his father, Harry F. Byrd Sr., had built a formidable Democratic political machine in Virginia that eventually elected him governor and then to the Senate, where he served from 1933 until his resignation in 1965. (Like his son, Harry Sr. was initially appointed to the Senate to fill a vacancy, after the resignation of Claude A. Swanson.)

The elder Mr. Byrd was a conservative Democrat who served for 11 years as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He also supported “massive resistance,” the name given to Virginia’s opposition to public school desegregation in the late 1950s. The son, who was serving in the State Senate at the time, helped develop the policy, which included closing some schools for several years rather than integrate them.

Harry F. Byrd  in 1965, when he was appointed to his father’s seat

Harry F. Byrd in 1965, when he was appointed to his father’s seat

Moorestown, N.J. where I was living as a teenager was one of the northern towns that hosted African-American high school seniors so they would have a chance to get diplomas and go to college.  I went to a number of social activities that were hosted for them, but never, much to my regret, got to know any of them well enough to stay in touch.

Although the Byrd machine began coming apart amid the fractured politics of the 1960s, it held together long enough to get Gov. Albertis S. Harrison Jr., a longtime supporter of the family, to appoint Harry Jr. to his father’s seat in 1965. The following year Mr. Byrd won a special election to complete his father’s term. By 1970, with blacks voting in larger numbers and urban labor unions supporting more liberal candidates, Mr. Byrd faced a potentially challenging Democratic primary in pursuit of his first full term. That March, saying he was unwilling to sign a party oath to support the Democratic nominee in the 1972 presidential election, particularly since the candidate was not yet known, he announced that he would become an independent.

If the decision seemed striking given his family history, it was also prudent. Taking votes from his Democratic and Republican opponents, he won easily that November. Mr. Byrd had dropped his party affiliation but essentially kept his voters, his politics and much of his power.

I don’t think he could have supported either George McGovern or Hubert Humphrey so he made the correct choice.  Byrd, however,  continued to caucus with the Democrats.  There is one more shameful incident I remember.

In the late 1970s, President Jimmy Carter asked Mr. Byrd to form judicial commissions to name black and female candidates for Virginia’s federal courts. In 1980, after Mr. Byrd’s commissions had named only white men, none of whom were judges, President Carter nominated James E. Sheffield, a black state court judge. Mr. Byrd vowed to fight his Senate confirmation and did so successfully.

I remember Judge Sheffield’s rejection well.  The only reason for his failure to be confirmed was race.

Senator Byrd was a bigot throughout his public life.  He did not run for re-election in 1982 by which time I think he would have lost as new young Democrats were winning office like Charles Robb who became governor in then.  And people like me who were taking over the Virginia Democratic Party.  Byrd’s time was thankfully passing.

He was 98 when he died.

Photographs:  United Press International

Urban sprawl, transportation, and poverty

I’ve been thinking since I read Paul Krugman’s column “Stranded by Sprawl” about successful urban areas and public transportation.  I lived for a number of years in Richmond, VA and for part of that time I didn’t drive or have a car.  After I acquired a car, I realized how limited my world was without one.  There were many places I couldn’t get to without driving and even if there was a bus, service was often erratic and infrequent.  I don’t know if thing have changed since I left twenty years ago, but I know that the counties surrounding the City of Richmond were where the new office parks and shopping malls were springing up.  I was lucky because I did live within easy walking distance of a nice shopping area with restaurants and some stores so I could leave the car behind when I met friends for breakfast or dinner.  But I didn’t live near any of the “projects” or poor areas which were pretty segregated back then.

One of my first memories of my Boston move was one of my new neighbors lamenting that the view from the back of the houses on our street was marred by looking down at the roofs of a large public housing project.  In fact, there are actually four projects within easy walking distance.  After I went to work for the Housing Authority I learned that public housing developments were scattered through the city neighborhoods.  The BHA takes pains in trying to maintain the grounds of each (with limited resources) so they don’t become a blight on the neighborhoods and several have been totally redesigned and no longer have the dead end streets which only serve to isolate residents.  Contrast this with the Atlanta described by Krugman

When the researchers looked for factors that correlate with low or high social mobility, they found, perhaps surprisingly, little direct role for race, one obvious candidate. They did find a significant correlation with the existing level of inequality: “areas with a smaller middle class had lower rates of upward mobility.” This matches what we find in international comparisons, where relatively equal societies like Sweden have much higher mobility than highly unequal America. But they also found a significant negative correlation between residential segregation — different social classes living far apart — and the ability of the poor to rise.

And in Atlanta poor and rich neighborhoods are far apart because, basically, everything is far apart; Atlanta is the Sultan of Sprawl, even more spread out than other major Sun Belt cities. This would make an effective public transportation system nearly impossible to operate even if politicians were willing to pay for it, which they aren’t. As a result, disadvantaged workers often find themselves stranded; there may be jobs available somewhere, but they literally can’t get there.

Is Detroit in trouble because its land area is too big?  I don’t know.  Detroit is 138 square miles with a population today of around 700,000 people.  Boston is 48 square miles with a population about 50,000 people smaller. In Boston, we gripe about the public transportation all the time and worry that some neighborhoods that are more affluent have better service, but we are always working on it.  I haven’t read anything about public transportation in Detroit:  It is the Motor City.

Boton T

Back to Krugman

The apparent inverse relationship between sprawl and social mobility obviously reinforces the case for “smart growth” urban strategies, which try to promote compact centers with access to public transit. But it also bears on a larger debate about what is happening to American society. I know I’m not the only person who read the Times article on the new study and immediately thought, “William Julius Wilson.”

A quarter-century ago Mr. Wilson, a distinguished sociologist, famously argued that the postwar movement of employment out of city centers to the suburbs dealt African-American families, concentrated in those city centers, a heavy blow, removing economic opportunity just as the civil rights movement was finally ending explicit discrimination. And he further argued that social phenomena such as the prevalence of single mothers, often cited as causes of lagging black performance, were actually effects — that is, the family was being undermined by the absence of good jobs.

My worry about Boston is that it will become more and more like Manhattan where only the well-off and the very poor can afford to live.  Jobs, particularly tech jobs, are moving back into the city and near suburbs from further out along the outer ring highways.  Will we end up with a shrinking middle?

These days, you hear less than you used to about alleged African-American social dysfunction, because traditional families have become much weaker among working-class whites, too. Why? Well, rising inequality and the general hollowing out of the job market are probably the main culprits. But the new research on social mobility suggests that sprawl — not just the movement of jobs out of the city, but their movement out of reach of many less-affluent residents of the suburbs, too — is also playing a role.

What’s to be done?  More investment in infrastructure in places like Atlanta and Los Angeles.  More investment in light rail systems.  More investment in maintenance of what we have for cities like Boston, Chicago and New York.  Unfortunately this is another thing in which the House Republicans are not interested.

The Next Fed Chair? Not Larry Summers.

Why would the President want to appoint someone who once opined that women were not good at science?  The man who was hired to end the economic crisis, but likely contributed to its making.  I’ve been thinking about how to approach this for a few days now and then I saw two pieces by Shirley Leung in the Boston Globe Business Section.  I think she says exactly what I wanted to say.  In the first, she discusses Larry Summers.

No need to hold back here: Larry Summers as the next Fed chairman?

Worst idea ever.

Summers, by all accounts, is a brilliant economist, one of the best of his generation. He is also someone who is confident, and, in times of crises, may be the adult in the room that he supposedly said the Obama administration didn’t have when the economy collapsed.

But he lacks one critical trait I like in my Fed chairmen: He’s not boring.

Summers is far from bland. He is arrogant and a lightning rod and would carry so much baggage he couldn’t fit it on the shuttle to Washington.

Do we need a Fed Chair that is all about Larry Summers?  I think not.

In his book “Confidence Men,” about the Obama White House’s handling of the economic crisis, former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind paints Summers as brilliant but overconfident and prone to unnecessary battles. “As he has aged, he has grown less troubled by being uninformed,” Suskind wrote.

That’s not what you want in a Fed chairman. The nation’s top central banker must manage the economy primarily by raising or lowering interest rates and must build consensus to do so. He must work with six other Fed governors and 12 regional Fed bank presidents. Imagine what would have happened if the Fed board was split over what to do with the economy in 2008? What would that have done to the markets?

“I know Larry very well. He is a smart guy,” said Allan Meltzer, a Carnegie Mellon professor who has written the definitive history on the Fed. “But the skills that are required for that job are not just brilliance, they are ability to manage compromise. He doesn’t do that well.”

This is to say nothing about how he ran Harvard.  When he left, they picked Drew Faust, a women who was his opposite in many important ways.

So, who should be the next Fed Chair?  How about a woman?  Senator Elizabeth Warren and Shirley Leung are backing Janet Yellen.

English: Official picture of Janet Yellen from...

English: Official picture of Janet Yellen from FRBSF web site. http://www.frbsf.org/federalreserve/people/officers/yellen.html (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just as forcefully as folks are coming out against Summers, there is a campaign mounting to promote Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke’s number two.

Unlike Summers, Yellen has significant monetary policy experience. She has been the vice chair of the Fed board of governors since 2010, and prior to that she ran the San Francisco Federal Reserve bank for six years. She has been involved in the Fed’s quantitative easing strategy, hatched during the Great Recession to keep money flowing and the US economy alive.

And unlike Summers, she is sufficiently boring, a key trait we want in someone running our central bank.

If Yellen got the nod, she would break the glass ceiling at the Fed, becoming the first woman at the top. She already has some high profile endorsements from New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and former FDIC chair and UMass-Amherst professor Sheila Bair.

Bair, in a blog posted on Fortune earlier this week, argues that Yellen is the most qualified candidate, but the financial world’s old-boy network is trying to derail her candidacy:

“So why isn’t she a shoo-in? The ‘whispering’ campaign against her among industry types has been deafening. ‘Doesn’t understand markets.’ Translation: She may not bail us out if we get into trouble again. ‘Not assertive enough.’ Translation: She won’t stand up for us against the populists who want more regulation. ‘Lacks gravitas.’ Translation: She doesn’t show up very often in the financial media.”

I guess we haven’t come far enough for the Wall Street guys to be comfortable with a woman.

Bair also takes a whack at Summers. “Unlike Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, and other Bob Rubin minions frequently mentioned in the financial press as potential Bernanke successors, she was not part of the deregulatory cabal that got us into the 2008 financial crisis. In fact, she had a solid record as a bank regulator at the San Francisco Fed and was one of the few in the Fed system to sound the alarm on the risks of subprime mortgages in 2007.”

Others are also rallying behind Yellen. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Friday confirmed that she has signed a letter Senate Democrats are circulating and plan to deliver to President Obama calling on him to nominate Yellen because “she is the best person for this job.” As early as Monday, activists, including women’s advocacy groups NOW and Ultraviolet plan to send a letter to Obama and Senate majority leader Harry Reid to support Yellen’s candidacy and oppose Summers’. When he ran Harvard, Summers set off a firestorm when he suggested women lacked the same “intrinsic aptitude” for science as men.

The President recently said he was not going to make a decision until fall, so we have time to make sure he appoints the best qualified person who, in this case is a woman.  Not Larry Summers.

The USS Constitution: The nation’s oldest commissioned warship

Did you know that the Frigate Constitution is a fully commissioned ship in the United States Navy?  According to the official website

USS CONSTITUTION was developed and built in response to the threat of Barbary corsairs, which threatened American merchant shipping off northern coast of Africa. Following the American Revolution, the United States’ Continental Navy and disbanded, leaving the new nation without a credible seapower to defend its interests abroad. Signed into law on March 27, 1794 by President George Washington, the Naval Armament Act called for the construction of six frigates, to be built at shipyards along the eastern seaboard. The 44-gun USS CONSTITUTION, built in Boston, was launched on Oct. 21, 1797.

You can also use the link to read about some of her famous victories.  But I wanted to write about the ceremony that takes place every couple of years, most recently yesterday.  That is the transfer of command.

Commander Sean D. Kearns (left) and the USS Constitution’s outgoing commanding officer, Matthew J. Bonner, saluted attendees after Kearns officially took over as the ship’s new leader.

Commander Sean D. Kearns (left) and the USS Constitution’s outgoing commanding officer, Matthew J. Bonner, saluted attendees after Kearns officially took over as the ship’s new leader.

Since he was a child visiting relatives in Braintree, Sean D. Kearns has always been drawn to the USS Constitution and its storied legacy.

He collected models and posters and studied the ship’s legendary commanders. It was on the deck of Old Ironsides where the Hampden, Maine, native became a Navy officer in 1994.

On Friday morning, under overcast skies and light rain, the 44-year-old stood in Charlestown Navy Yard, clad in the classic 1813 commanding officer’s uniform, and was sworn in as the latest skipper of the 215-year-old warship.

During an emotional ceremony, Kearns approached Matthew J. Bonner, the ship’s 72d commander, and presented him with his orders. The two tucked their bicorn hats under their arms as more than 150 friends, family, former commanders, and the ship’s crew looked on.

“Sir,” Kearns announced, “I relieve you.”

“I stand relieved,” Bonner said.

With that, Kearns became the ship’s 73d commander, joining the ranks of such naval legends as Captain Isaac Hull, the Constitution’s commander when it laid waste to the British frigate HMS Guerriere in the War of 1812.

That is what I love about history:  There is always some thread of continuity.  I have visited the Constitution, but have never seen a turnaround in Boston Harbor.

One of Constitution’s most complicated events is a turnaround, the short round trip the ship makes out to Castle Island and back, docking on its return faced in the opposite direction. The ship generally makes about a half-dozen turnarounds a year. Although the maneuver, aided by tugboats, is necessary to evenly expose the ship to prevailing tidal pressure, a turnaround is always an event. That was the case when the ship staged a turnaround voyage to honor the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway and members of the Wounded Warrior Project, which serves injured members of the US Armed Forces.

English: Navy photo of USS Constitution under ...

English: Navy photo of USS Constitution under sail for the first time in over a century Español: El US Constitution, buque insignia de la Armada Americana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last one was on July 4 when it was just too hot to go stand out on Castle Island and watch.  And she generally doesn’t go under sail.  This was in 2012 to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of her victory over the Guerriere,  Maybe this fall.

The Constitution is a regular and must sought after Naval assignment.

Photograph: JOSH REYNOLDS FOR THE GLOBE

Jane to be worth 10 pounds

I’m currently reading Jane Austen’s biography by Claire Tomalin and I love Austen.  So this was good news:  Beginning in 2017 she will be on the British 10 pound note. This is a triumph for British women who petitioned for more women on banknotes.  According to the Guardian

Jane Austen has been confirmed as the next face of the £10 note in a victory for campaigners demanding female representation – aside from the Queen – on the country’s cash.

Sir Mervyn King, the Bank’s former governor, had let slip to MPs that the author of Pride and Prejudice was “waiting in the wings” as a potential candidate to feature on a banknote, and his successor, Mark Carney, confirmed on Wednesday that she would feature, probably from 2017.

“Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes. Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal and she is recognised as one of the greatest writers in English literature,” the new governor said.

He also announced that the Bank would carry out a review of the process for selecting the historical figures who appear on banknotes, to ensure that a diverse range of figures is represented.

And are the petitioners happy?

The Bank of England's design for a £10 note featuring Jane Austen

The Bank of England’s design for a £10 note featuring Jane Austen

Campaigners threatened to take the Bank to court for discrimination under the 2010 Equality Act and launched a petition on the campaign site Change.org which secured more than 35,000 signatures.

Caroline Criado-Perez, co-founder of feminist blog the Women’s Room, who led the campaign, and was called in to discuss the issue with Salmon, said the Bank’s announcement marked a “brilliant day for women”.

“Without this campaign, without the 35,000 people who signed our Change.org petition, the Bank of England would have unthinkingly airbrushed women out of history. We warmly welcome this move from the Bank and thank them for listening to us and taking such positive and emphatic steps to address our concerns,” she said.

“To hear Jane Austen confirmed is fantastic, but to hear the process will be comprehensively reviewed is even better.”

The only other women to be ever be depicted on bank notes are Elizabeth Fry, a prison reformer, and Florence Nightingale.

Austen will take her place on the £10 note in 2017, the bicentenary of her death, replacing the 19th-century naturalist Charles Darwin, who has been on the notes since late 2000.

A writer of what many would consider light fiction or women’s fiction replacing Darwin who, we all can acknowledge, changed the way we look at the world?  Why not?  Both were revolutionary in their own ways.  As Ciado-Perez points out

Criado-Perez conceded Austen was not top of her wish-list as the next woman on a bank note but that she was a particularly apt choice given the context. “She was an incredibly intelligent woman. She spent her time poking fun at the establishment. All her books are about how women are trapped and misrepresented. It is really sad that she was saying that 200 years ago and I am still having to say that today,” the campaigner said.

So is there any controversy?  Yes.  The quote to appear on the banknote is not one that many would pick.

Yet surely there has been a blunder. The new note displays an image of Austen based on the only certain surviving portrait of her, a drawing by her sister Cassandra. Fine. It also blazons forth some of the great writer’s immortal words. You can imagine being the Bank of England employee given the task of finding the telling Austen quotation. Something about reading, perhaps? A quick text search in Pride and Prejudice turns up just the thing: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”

The trouble is that these words are spoken by one of Austen’s most deceitful characters, a woman who has no interest in books at all: Caroline Bingley. She is sidling up to Mr Darcy, whom she would like to hook as a husband, and pretending that she shares his interests. He is reading a book, so she sits next to him and pretends to read one too. She is, Austen writes, “as much engaged in watching Mr Darcy’s progress through his book, as in reading her own” and “perpetually either making some inquiry, or looking at his page”. He will not be distracted, so “exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosen because it was the second volume of his”, she gives a great yawn and says the words that will appear on the bank note.

For anyone who has actually read “Pride and Prejudice”, Caroline Bingley is one of the characters you like to dislike.  And she never reads anything.  The sentiment is wonderful, but does the Bank of England really want irony on its banknotes?  Austen wrote often about money:  Having it, not having it, marrying for it, being married for it.  I’m sure they didn’t want a quote about money.  But the one they picked is almost as bad.  I think it is time for them to consult some Austen scholars or even have ask people to submit their favorite quotes.

And while I’m thinking about it, if they had adopted the Euro, this discussion would never have happened.  Makes me happy.

Fixing FISA

Congress is beginning to have a debate about surveillance, oversight and secrecy – the one good thing to come out of  Edward Snowden’s continuing adventure.  Of course, it is hard to debate when you can’t talk about a lot of things in public or even to your fellow members, so I was very interesting in reading Judge James G. Carr’s op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times.  His suggestion is one that Congress and the Obama Administration should be able to debate and legislate without revealing anything that needs to be kept secret.  Judge Carr is identified as a senior federal judge for the Northern District of Ohio,[who] served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court from 2002 to 2008.

CONGRESS created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 1978 as a check on executive authority. Recent disclosures about vast data-gathering by the government have raised concerns about the legitimacy of the court’s actions. Congress can take a simple step to restore confidence in the court’s impartiality and integrity: authorizing its judges to appoint lawyers to serve the public interest when novel legal issues come before it.

The court is designed to protect individual liberties as the government protects us from foreign dangers. In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled that the Nixon administration had violated the Fourth Amendment by conducting warrantless surveillance on a radical domestic group, the White Panthers, who were suspected of bombing a C.I.A. recruiting office in Ann Arbor, Mich. In 1975 and 1976, the Church Committee, a Senate panel, produced a series of reports about foreign and domestic intelligence operations, including surveillance by the F.B.I. of suspected communists, radicals and other activists — including, notoriously, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Foreign Intelligence Service Act set up the FISA Court in response. To obtain authority to intercept the phone and electronic communications of American citizens and permanent residents, the government must only show probable cause that the target has a connection to a foreign government or entity or a foreign terrorist group. It does not have to show, as with an ordinary search warrant, probable cause that the target is suspected of a crime.

The problem is that the court only hears from one side.  I wrote recently that the real danger to our civil liberties is the FISA Court and I hoped that people will come up with ways to try to fix it.  Judge Carr has one suggestion at which Congress should take a serious look.

Critics note that the court has approved almost all of the government’s surveillance requests. Some say the court is virtually creating a secret new body of law governing privacy, secrecy and surveillance. Others have called for declassified summaries of all of the court’s secret rulings.

James Robertson, a retired federal judge who served with me on the FISA court, recently called for greater transparency of the court’s proceedings. He has proposed the naming of an advocate, with high-level security clearance, to argue against the government’s filings. He suggested that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which oversees surveillance activities, could also provide a check. I would go even further.

In an ordinary criminal case, the adversarial process assures legal representation of the defendant. Clearly, in top-secret cases involving potential surveillance targets, a lawyer cannot, in the conventional sense, represent the target.

Congress could, however, authorize the FISA judges to appoint, from time to time, independent lawyers with security clearances to serve “pro bono publico” — for the public’s good — to challenge the government when an application for a FISA order raises new legal issues.

Having lawyers challenge novel legal assertions in these secret proceedings would result in better judicial outcomes. Even if the government got its way all or most of the time, the court would have more fully developed its reasons for letting it do so. Of equal importance, the appointed lawyer could appeal a decision in the government’s favor to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review — and then to the Supreme Court. No opportunity for such review exists today, because only the government can appeal a FISA court ruling.

A combination of a people’s advocate and public release of decision summaries would remove some of the mystery and secrecy.

One obvious objection: judges considering whether to issue an ordinary search warrant hear only from the government. Why should this not be the same when the government goes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court?

My answer: the court is unique among judicial institutions in balancing the right to privacy against the president’s duty to protect the public, and it encounters issues of statutory and constitutional interpretation that no other court does or can.

For an ordinary search warrant, the judge has a large and well-developed body of precedent. When a warrant has been issued and executed, the subject knows immediately. If indicted, he can challenge the warrant. He can also move to have property returned or sue for damages. These protections are not afforded to FISA surveillance targets. Even where a target is indicted, laws like the Classified Information Procedures Act almost always preclude the target from learning about the order or challenging the evidence. This situation puts basic constitutional protections at risk and creates doubts about the legitimacy of the court’s work and the independence and integrity of its judges. To avert these dangers, Congress should amend FISA to give the court’s judges the discretion to appoint lawyers to serve not just the interests of the target and the public — but those of the court as well.

079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993

079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993 (Photo credit: David Holt London)

We are already deep in uncharted waters and we need to take steps to try to protect ourselves.  It serves no purpose if we lose our civil liberties while protecting them.  I don’t have a great deal of hope that Congress can actually get itself together enough to act, but there has been some glimmer of bipartisanship about this issue.  Let us hope someone writes Judge Carr’s ideas into a bill so it can be introduced.

The Baby Cambridge

I’ve heard that Americans might actually be more interested in the British Royals than the English.  But who can help but admire Queen Elizabeth for her starring role at the Olympics.  We are flying the Union Jack from the porch which over looks the site of an American Revolutionary War fort. (George Washington might be swallowing his false teeth about now.)  But we are excited on this side of the pond, also.

The fountains in Trafalgar Square are illuminated in blue to mark the birth of a royal baby boy.

The fountains in Trafalgar Square are illuminated in blue to mark the birth of a royal baby boy.

Earlier this summer I read Alison Weir’s biography of Elizabeth I so I was interested in the royal lineage laid out in the Guardian today.

Baby Cambridge will be the 43rd monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the English crown in 1066, but is also 41st in direct line of descent from Egbert, King of Wessex, who ruled from 802 to 839.

Through the paternal line, William and Kate’s first born is destined to be the great-great-great-great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria. And, once grandfather Prince Charles and William have served their time on the throne, he/she will become the eighth British monarch to descend from Victoria and Albert, whose descendants have populated many a European throne.

The Queen’s longevity means it is the first time in nearly 120 years that a still-serving sovereign has met a great-grandchild born in direct succession to the crown. Edward VIII was born in 1894, seven years before the death of Victoria. The infant’s royal lineage stretches back, on the throne of England, to the Anglo-Saxons through the Normans, Angevins, Plantagenets, Lancastrians, Yorkists and Tudors. Until 1603, English and Scottish crowns were separate, but following the accession of King James VI of Scotland (James I of England) to the English throne, a single monarch has reigned in the UK.

And assuming that Scotland doesn’t vote to become independent (which I understand would make many things very messy – like having to have their own currency and applying to be part of the EU)

The newborn will be the 20th monarch to do so since James VI of Scotland and James I of England (reigned 1603-1625), the son of Mary, Queen of Scots.

James took over after the death of Elizabeth I.

Moving on to more recent history

But it is through the House of Hanover that the new baby traces its direct lineage. When the Stuarts died out, the Hanovers came to power through James I’s granddaughter, Sophia, who married Ernst Augustus Elector of Hanover, and gave birth to George I, who would rule from 1714 to 1727. Hanoverian succession was a pretty straightforward affair for a while. George II (1725-1760), eldest son of George I and Sophie of Celle, married Caroline of Ansbach. Their grandson, George III (1760-1820), married Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz .

Their eldest son George IV (1820-1830) married his cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, and succeeded the throne after serving as prince regent during his father’s final mental illness.

George III was king during the American Revolution.

…George IV was succeeded by another brother, who reigned as William IV (1830-37). At the time of his death, William had no legitimate children, however, he was survived by eight of the 10 illegitimate children he had had by the actor Dorothea Jordan, with whom he cohabited for 20 years.

It was his niece, Victoria (1837-1901), the daughter of his younger brother, Edward, Duke of Kent, to whom the crown fell. The house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was established with Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert. Their eldest son, Edward VII (1901-1910) succeeded and his marriage to Alexandra of Denmark produced five children. The eldest, Albert, Duke of Clarence, was expected to succeed, but shortly after his engagement to Princess Mary of Teck in 1891, he died during a flu pandemic. Instead his brother, George V, inherited both the crown and his fiancee  and ruled from 1910 to 1936. It was George V who, given rife wartime anti-German sentiment, decided that Windsor was a preferable royal household name to Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. And so Edward VIII would be Edward Windsor, until he became Duke of Windsor on his abdication less than a year into his 1936 reign. That abdication, and the fact Edward had no children, led to the present Queen’s father, George VI (1936-52), becoming monarch with Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at his side. Their eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, became the present Queen on his premature death.

I hope Queen Elizabeth lives on to enjoy her great-grandson for many years.

Photograph:  Bogdan Maran/EPA