I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Like General Mills on Facebook, waive your right to sue!

Seriously, that’s what the New York Times is reporting:

General Mills, the maker of cereals like Cheerios and Chex as well as brands like Bisquick and Betty Crocker, has quietly added language to its website to alert consumers that they give up their right to sue the company if they download coupons, “join” it in online communities like Facebook, enter a company-sponsored sweepstakes or contest or interact with it in a variety of other ways.

They’re also saying that they’ve changed their “privacy policy” and that the mere purchase of their products is an agreement to mandatory arbitration.

One again, users will be frustrated by the lack of a “don’t like” button on Facebook.

I wonder how much the Cochran people are paying for this advertising

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I heard it through YallPolitics on Facebook, which pretty much would explain whose interest is served by advancing this. But, still, it really kinda almost sorta makes one want to go out and vote for the incumbent.

Although I’m pretty sure that if I go to my precinct and vote in a Republican primary I will get the stink-eye from the Republican poll workers.

Bobby DeLaughter: “I didn’t do nearly everything that they thought I did.”

Megan West at WAPT TV in Jackson got an interesting interview with Bobby Delaughter, apparently on the occasion of his Amazon-only new novel.

“I said then, and will always say it because it’s the truth, I didn’t do nearly everything that they thought I did. But I was stupid. I admit that,” DeLaughter told 16 WAPT’s Megan West.

DeLaughter pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but he maintains he never took a bribe.

“I can’t believe that I was so stupid to have confided in someone things that I shouldn’t have, but did because we were so close,” DeLaughter said.

Peters told prosecutors he got $1 million to influence DeLaughter. Back then, Peters avoided jail by turning on his friend and becoming a federal witness.

“Have you talked to him since all of this?” West asked.

“No,” DeLaughter said. “I don’t have any plans of rekindling any communication there.”

The interview talks about life in New Orleans, and about his new book– he says, “I hope the scare the dickens out of people.”  It’s an “erotic thriller” about “a serial killer obsessed with sex. DeLaughter drew on many of his own experiences….”

No doubt it will scare people.

h/t Jane Tucker for the heads up about the interview.

Bobby DeLaughter writes about a criminal who moves from Jackson to New Orleans…

… where, according to a jacket-blurb on Amazon (the only place the book is available), he resumes his life of crime:

The journey DeLaughter now takes us on is not merely one from his roots of Jackson, Mississippi to his new home along the narrow streets and alleys of the famous French Quarter of New Orleans, but into a world of darkness that somehow flourishes in the plain sight of light, for malevolence is concealed behind many deceptive visages.

What sort of crime, you might ask?  Judicial bribery?  Public corruption?

Nope.  The criminal in the piece is a “serial rapist and killer, seemingly dormant for years, stirring again. After throwing two Mississippi counties into a frantic tailspin, he migrates to New Orleans. What better killing ground than the nation’s murder capital…”

The author bio notes that DeLaughter was a lawyer, prosecutor, judge, and that he was played by Alec Baldwin in a movie.  It does not note that he was a defendant in a federal court prosecution or what might have caused that to happen.

h/t Cari Gervin.

Well, at least Gary Wills thinks that Sen. Sumner ridiculing Sen. Butler’s lisp lead to the caning

After Sen. Charles Sumner made a speech titled “The Crime Against Kansas,” in which he particularly attacked Sen. Douglas and Butler for advocating slavery in Kansas in very personal terms, Butler’s nephew, a congressman, came onto the Senate floor and caned Sumner almost to death.

In comments, ColRebSez made the offhand remark that Sumner had been caned for making fun of Butler’s lisp.  I thought otherwise, and quoted some of the insults Sumner hurled, which were about Butler’s love of slavery, which Sumner saw as a deep moral crime.  I couldn’t find anything credible in the way of sources supporting what CRS had commented.

In a book by Gary Wills, Henry Adams and the Making of America (pages 54-55), there’s support that ridiculing Butler’s lisp was a major part in the attack.

In a book-length speech, “The Crime Against Kansas,’ delivered over the course of two days, Sumner was so strident that Stephen Douglas, pacing restlessly in the rear of the chamber on the first day, muttered, “That damn fool will get himself killed by some other damn fool.”  On the second day, Douglas responded to the speech by asking, “It is his object to provoke some of us to kick him as we would a dog in the street, that he may get sympathy from the just chastisement?”  Sumner turned on the short, rotund, and bibulous Douglas, and said that “no person with the upright form of man can be allowed”– he paused, and Douglas goaded him on: “Say it.”  Sumner did:  ”The noisome, squat, and nameless animal to which I now refer is not the proper model for an American senator. Will the Sentaor from Illinois take notice?”  ”I will,” Douglas answered, “and therefore will not imitate you, sir.”

But the part of Sumner’s speech that drew the most attention was his personal slur against Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina.  Butler had a lisp, and Sumner mocked “the loose expectoration of his speech” in favor of slavery.  This maddened a cousin of Butler, Preston Brooks, who served in this other chamber. The thirty-six-year-old Brooks waited outside the Senate to attack the forty-five-year-old Sumner. Horsewhips were the proper weapon for southerners who considered their opponent too low to meet in a duel, but Butler said he thought the old Sumner might wrest the whip from him, so he brought a thick cane. … Brooks later boasted: “Every lick went where I intended…[I] gave him about thirty first-rate stripes….”

Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith gets a New York Times obituary

Last weekend, I wrote about the death of Arthur “Boogie” Smith, a pioneering country music figure, great guitarist, and songwriter.  Today, he got a New York Times obituary.

Garlic Scape time is now: Here’s a recipe for garlic scapes and rice with red snapper

garlic scape

Update: details about the origins of the garlic were added.

In our yard on the edge of the woods, we have a patch of garlic that originally came from Joyce’s great-grandmother’s farm in Pellahatchie, Mississippi.

When Joyce’s father Burl would get home from school in the Antioch community, he would get some cornbread in the kitchen and go out in the garden and pull off a scape close to the ground to get some of the white with it and eat it raw with the cornbread. He is not sure how his grandmother used the garlic.

When his family moved to Columbus, Georgia, he moved some into a pine woods there, where it thrived. He took some from there to Memphis, and later on to Jackson, Tennessee, the next to last stop in the circuitous route to Oxford.

We use the scapes in the Spring. I’ve not pulled up and dried the garlic in the summer (not sure fully why).

Last night I used the scapes for a simple rice dish to go with beautiful red snapper filets from L&Bs. The quantities here are on the small side (because of dieting).

Rice with Garlic Scapes

2 1/2 tsp butter, total
3 tbs very finely sliced then chopped garlic scapes
1/3 c basmati rice
1 clove of finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 tbs finely chopped Italian parsley
salt, pepper

1. melt 1 1/2 tsp butter in a small saucepan. Add the garlic scapes and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the rice and stir thoroughly. Cook until it gives off a toasty/nutty smell, stirring frequently.
3. add 3/4 cup of water and bring to a boil, stir with a fork, and cover and turn temperature down as low as it will go and cook for 16 minutes. This quantity of rice is tricky to cook; the greater surface area you have in the pot will mean that more water will evaporate while you are bringing it to a boil, which is why there’s a little more than standard water in this recipe.
4. Put the remaining butter, chopped garlic, parsley, and generous amount of pepper and some salt in the rice and recover for ten minutes or so. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Red Snapper Filets with lemon and garlic scape rice

2 four oz filets of red snapper
salt, pepper, cayenne or gochugang (Korean red pepper)
juice from half a Meyer lemon (use other lemon if Meyers aren’t available
lemon slices (optional)
1 tbs melted butter
chopped Italian parsley for garnish

1. Salt and pepper the filets on both side, then sprinkle a little cayenne on them. Turn them skin side down and pour half of the lemon juice on each. Set aside while you cook the rice.
2. Heat a small cast iron skillet as hot as you can on your stove. If you do not have a good vent on your stove, the rest of this recipe may fill your house with smoke. Test the skillet to make sure it is well and truly hot by sprinkling some drops of water on it to see if it immediately sizzles.
3. Put the fish filet on the skillet skin side down. Pour 1/4 of the melted butter on each. Cook 4 minutes. Turn carefully to preserve the crispy skin. Pour remaining butter on each. Cook another 4 minutes or so on the other side.
4. Put the rice in a nice mound on the plate. Set the fish on the rice. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley. Personally, this is lemony enough for me; some (see below) like lemon wedges for additional lemon.

For the curious, this is about a 349 calorie meal.

dinner fish rice

Country guitarist Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith has died

Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith has died at 93. Probably his most important recording (as opposed to his most famous) was “Guitar Boogie,” which was close to the first country record with guitars playing straight-up boogie woogie parts.  There’s a nice obituary on the Charlotte Observer site.

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He said it was not anything he learned from listening to country music– he said that got the idea listening to big band jazz like Tommy Dorsey.

The influence of “Guitar Boogie” is illustrated in later covers by the likes of Chet Atkins and Les Paul.  There was a wave of country hits mining the intersection of honky tonk and boogie at the hands of folks like Tennessee Ernie Ford.  Here’s Les Paul’s take on “Guitar Boogie.”

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While guitar boogie is probably his most influential recording, it’s not his most famous.  He wrote and recorded a song called “Feuding Banjos” that Eric Weisberg  re-recorded as “Dueling Banjos.”  After it became famous in the movie Deliverance, Smith had to sue to vindicate his rights.

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He also may have had the first live syndicated country music show.  Here’s a really nice 14 minute video about him with both interview and brief snippets of his live playing.  Well worth watching.  The bits of music are almost torturing– you get snippets of him playing with Chet Atkins, Glen Campbell, and others, but leaving you wanting more.

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H/t to Mary Katherine Aldin for the news.

Gov. Bryant signs bill protecting peyote eaters and rejecting Scalia opinion to the contrary

In 1990, the United States Supreme Court decided Employment Division v. Smith.  In that case, individuals were denied unemployment benefits because they were fired for eating peyote.  In an opinion by conservative justice Antonin Scalia, the United States Supreme Court held: Of course you can deny unemployment benefits to people fired for eating peyote.

While it took a while for this outrage to sink in, after twenty-something years, our representatives in the Mississippi Legislature, and our peyote-advocating Governor Phil Bryant decided that it is at last time to end this oppressive treatment of our peyote-eating fellow citizens.

On the one hand, I wish this post had occurred to me on April 1st.  On the other hand, given that the actual truth in what I just wrote, it’s probably best to have inadvertently saved it for another day.

Here’s my sources for the above.  Here’s the holding of Employment Division v. Smith, from the Court’s syllabus (yes, I know it’s just the syllabus and not authority and blah blah.  This is a blog, people): “The Free Exercise Clause permits the State to prohibit sacramental peyote use, and thus to deny unemployment benefits to persons discharged for such use.”

This is from the “statement of purpose” in section one of the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” as signed by the Governor:

(c)  Government should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification;

(d)  In Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), the United States Supreme Court virtually eliminated the requirement that the government justify burdens on religious exercise imposed by laws neutral toward religion;

See?  This statute is about overturning the result in Smith holding that peyote eaters are not protected by the First Amendment.

I will have more to say about this in a more serious vein later.

Bobby Rush, Vashti Jackson, and Jesse Robinson play the Lamar Lounge in Oxford

Bobby Rush Vashti Jackson playToday was an over-the-top Oxford day– the Southern Culture Center’s Music Conference, Thacker Mountain, a reception for the blues show at the University Museum, a Mississippi all-star blues concert at the Lamar Lounge.   We took in a lot of it, but the highlight was the blues show at the Lamar.

This was one of those nights that totally establishes that blues is still active and alive here.  There were memorable sets from Bud Welch, Vashti Jackson, Kenny Brown, and Terry Bean.  But the most memorable by far were from Jesse Robinson, pretty easily the best blues guitarist in Mississippi, and Bobby Rush with Vashti Jackson.  All short sets, and very memorable.

If you get any chance to see these folk, particularly Jesse Robinson and Bobby Rush (who says he’s now 80?), see them.

Jimbo Mathis backed the whole show on drums, and kept it tight.  He and his bass player (whose name I did not get) really tastefully and excellently matched the style of each player who came along.