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August 18, 2011

Senator Elizabeth Warren?--Skeel

It sounds like the long-rumored Elizabeth Warren campaign is really going to happen. She wrote a blog post about her return to Massachusetts that sounds like the warm-up to a campaign, and she has just set up an “exploratory committee,” ostensibly to explore the decision whether to run, but more likely to confirm it.

I found myself wondering if a law professor has ever been elected to the Senate. Barack Obama doesn’t count, because he was a politician moonlighting as a law professor when he taught at the University of Chicago.   The closest I can think of is Pat Moynihan, who wasn’t a law professor but was a true scholar before running for and winning a Senate seat in New York in 1976. But even he had an extensive political career (serving in the Kennedy administration, among other posts) before running for the Senate.
Of course, there are still a number of significant obstacles between Warren and the Senate, including the Democratic primary and, more importantly, popular Republican incumbent Scott Brown. But I have to imagine the prospects are good. Warren was controversial as a law professor, but those controversies will be close to irrelevant to her Senate run. She has a great deal of credibility on economic issues, and has focused on them for decades, going into an election that is likely to turn on precisely these issues. In many states, the fact that she excites the liberal wing of the Democratic party, but is deeply unpopular with many Republicans and draws mixed reviews from moderates might be a problem. But Massachusetts obviously is not that kind of state. 


August 25, 2011

Backyard Deer--Skeel

Our summer entertainment is sitting on the back porch at the end of the day, drinking a glass of red wine, and waiting for the deer to arrive. This summer there’s a family: a doe, a young buck, and two fawns. They drift across our backyard at dusk, and often at other times as well.

The highlight for the deer seems to be our neighbor’s apple tree. One day three or four crows followed the fawns around, landing on the apple tree and then on the ground nearby, standing there until one of the fawns chased them away. It was never clear just what they were up to.
The buck sometimes stands up on his hind legs trying to reach higher apples, staggering a little, like a cheerleader who has just thrust his partner into the air and is struggling to balance her on his hands.
Our little Yorkshire Terrier used to bark at the deer—always from the safety of the screened in porch—but now she just watches them too. 
The family is usually accompanied by a buck that has a skin disease (apparently not life threatening, according to my wife’s internet research) that has covered his body with black splotches and made his face look like Darth Vader. We imagine that the family has taken him in, showing compassion on a buck that might otherwise be ostracized. The fawns treat him like a member of the family—sometimes following him—and perhaps he is.
Today while I was jogging I saw a dead fawn on the side of the road, about a quarter of a mile from our house. When I told my wife, she gasped. But she then noted that she’d seen both of our fawns after I’d gone for the run.
Sure enough, both fawns showed up this evening, along with the rest of the family. One of the buck’s two horns seems to have been broken off. I can only imagine how that happened.