Category Archives: Uncategorized

It’s a Joke, Right?

If’ you’d like to have lunch at the Richmond Yacht Club, please bring your lawyer.


Friday, September 25, 2020


Dear Member,

Contra Costa County Health Services has released a new Health Order, allowing Richmond Yacht Club to open a Picnic Area.

We have established a Picnic Area on the lower Clubhouse deck, subject to the following restrictions:

  1. The Picnic Area may only be used by Members, their household and their Social Bubble, as defined by Contra Costa Health Service.a. “Social Bubble” means a Stable Group of 12 that forms a Household Support Unit for the purpose of engaging in activities that are not prohibited by County. 

    b. “Stable Group of 12” means a group of not more than 12 individuals over a three-week time period that is a Household Support Unit.

    c. “Household Support Unit” means a Stable Group of 12 that is formed for the purpose of engaging in the sort of support and activities that are typical of members of the same household (e.g., childcare, family recreation, etc.), regardless of whether they physically occupy the same dwelling. Each person may be part of only one Household Support Unit, and every resident of a single dwelling unit must be part of the same Household Support Unit.

  1. Each of the Picnic Tables may be occupied by only one household, or Social Bubble at a time.
  1. Picnic Area tables shall NOT be moved within the Picnic Area (Deck) or to other locations.
  1. After each use, all users are REQUIRED to sanitize the table and chairs they use with the provided disinfectant spray bottle and paper (disposable) towels.
  1. Face masks must be fully worn when not actively drinking or eating at a table.
  1. Any and all use of the Picnic Area is solely at the user’s Own Risk;  the Club is only periodically cleaning the Picnic Area tables and chairs.

If you have questions about use of the Picnic Area, please contact the Club Manager, Stan Korich, at 925-237-2821 or

Thank You, The RYC COVID-19 Task Force


Richmond Yacht Club Staff


351 Brickyard Cove Rd. Richmond, CA 94801

Phone: (510) 237-2821

37° 54′ 29″ N, 122° 23′ 00″ W

© 2020 Richmond Yacht Club

Gandhi, the Movie

No better way to beat the heat than a really long bio-pic. Robert and the kids watched the 1982 movie Gandhi yesterday.

Here’s the Letter to a Hindu by Leo Tolstoy. Lots of people talking about love and non-violence in those days, including Tolstoy.

Anyway, Tolstoy. Damned good writer. That’s fer sho.

Robert likes this part:

O ye who sit in bondage and continually seek and pant for freedom, seek only for love. Love is peace in itself and peace which gives complete satisfaction. I am the key that opens the portal to the rarely discovered land where contentment alone is found.


What is now happening to the people of the East as of the West is like what happens to every individual when he passes from childhood to adolescence and from youth to manhood. He loses what had hitherto guided his life and lives without direction, not having found a new standard suitable to his age, and so he invents all sorts of occupations, cares, distractions, and stupefactions to divert his attention from the misery and senselessness of his life. Such a condition may last a long time.

When an individual passes from one period of life to another a time comes when he cannot go on in senseless activity and excitement as before, but has to understand that although he has outgrown what before used to direct him, this does not mean that he must live without any reasonable guidance, but rather that he must formulate for himself an understanding of life corresponding to his age, and having elucidated it must be guided by it. And in the same way a similar time must come in the growth and development of humanity. I believe that such a time has now arrived–not in the sense that it has come in the year 1908, but that the inherent contradiction of human life has now reached an extreme degree of tension: on the one side there is the consciousness of the beneficence of the law of love, and on the other the existing order of life which has for centuries occasioned an empty, anxious, restless, and troubled mode of life, conflicting as it does with the law of love and built on the use of violence. This contradiction must be faced, and the solution will evidently not be favourable to the outlived law of violence, but to the truth which has dwelt in the hearts of men from remote antiquity: the truth that the law of love is in accord with the nature of man.

But men can only recognize this truth to its full extent when they have completely freed themselves from all religious and scientific superstitions and from all the consequent misrepresentations and sophistical distortions by which its recognition has been hindered for centuries.

To save a sinking ship it is necessary to throw overboard the ballast, which though it may once have been needed would now cause the ship to sink. And so it is with the scientific superstition which hides the truth of their welfare from mankind. In order that men should embrace the truth–not in the vague way they did in childhood, nor in the one-sided and perverted way presented to them by their religious and scientific teachers, but embrace it as their highest law–the complete liberation of this truth from all and every superstition (both pseudo-religious and pseudo-scientific) by which it is still obscured is essential: not a partial, timid attempt, reckoning with traditions sanctified by age and with the habits of the people–not such as was effected in the religious sphere by Guru-Nanak, the founder of the sect of the Sikhs, and in the Christian world by Luther, and by similar reformers in other religions–but a fundamental cleansing of religious consciousness from all ancient religious and modern scientific superstitions.

If only people freed themselves from their beliefs in all kinds of Ormuzds, Brahmas, Sabbaoths, and their incarnation as Krishnas and Christs, from beliefs in Paradises and Hells, in reincarnations and resurrections, from belief in the interference of the Gods in the external affairs of the universe, and above all, if they freed themselves from belief in the infallibility of all the various Vedas, Bibles, Gospels, Tripitakas, Korans, and the like, and also freed themselves from blind belief in a variety of scientific teachings about infinitely small atoms and molecules and in all the infinitely great and infinitely remote worlds, their movements and origin, as well as from faith in the infallibility of the scientific law to which humanity is at present subjected: the historic law, the economic laws, the law of struggle and survival, and so on–if people only freed themselves from this terrible accumulation of futile exercises of our lower capacities of mind and memory called the ‘Sciences’, and from the innumerable divisions of all sorts of histories, anthropologies, homiletics, bacteriologics, jurisprudences, cosmographies, strategies–their name is legion–and freed themselves from all this harmful, stupifying ballast–the simple law of love, natural to man, accessible to all and solving all questions and perplexities, would of itself become clear and obligatory.



School: Week 2

The Pierce family is in full swing with online learning!  Woo Hoo!  Lots of work done this week, by Rory and Cadie.  Check it out!

Why Surfers Should be Fed

Here’s an old paper for you.

This stuff comes up for discussion at the dinner table sometimes.


In part disucsses Musgrave v. Rawls.

Robert likes this Musgrave quote.

“Implementation of maximin thus leads to a redistributive system that, among individuals with equal earnings ability, favors those with a high preference for leisure. It is to the advantage of recluses, saints, and (nonconsulting) scholars who earn but little and hence will not have to contribute greatly to redistribution” (Richard A. Musgrave, “Maximin, Uncertainty, and the Leisure Trade- off,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 88 [19741: 632).

Translation:  Imposing a universal basic income will make the beaches gnarly packed. Dude.

Trump v. Vance

Trump v. Vance, decided July 9. President of the United States is not immune from subpoena issued by state prosecutor.

Syllabus appears below.

Here’s the full opinion.

For anyone interested, here’s oral argument. A good one for those interested in the workings of our government and courts.


TRUMP v. VANCE, DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF THE COUNTY OF NEW YORK, ETAL. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUITNo. 19–635. Argued May 12, 2020—Decided July 9, 2020 In 2019, the New York County District Attorney’s Office—acting on be-half of a grand jury—served a subpoena duces tecum on Mazars USA, LLP, the personal accounting firm of President Donald J. Trump, for financial records relating to the President and his businesses. The President, acting in his personal capacity, sued the district attorney and Mazars in Federal District Court to enjoin enforcement of the sub-poena, arguing that a sitting President enjoys absolute immunity from state criminal process under Article II and the Supremacy Clause. The District Court dismissed the case under the abstention doctrine of Younger v. Harris, 401 U. S. 37, and, in the alternative, held that the President was not entitled to injunctive relief. The Second Circuit re-jected the District Court’s dismissal under Younger but agreed with the court’s denial of injunctive relief, concluding that presidential im-munity did not bar enforcement of the subpoena and rejecting the ar-gument of the United States as amicus curiae that a state grand jury subpoena seeking the President’s documents must satisfy a height-ened showing of need. Held: Article II and the Supremacy Clause do not categorically preclude, or require a heightened standard for, the issuance of a state criminal subpoena to a sitting President. Pp. 3–22. (a) In 1807, John Marshall, presiding as Circuit Justice for Virginia over the treason trial of Aaron Burr, granted Burr’s motion for a sub-poena duces tecum directed at President Jefferson. In rejecting the prosecution’s argument that a President was not subject to such a sub-poena, Marshall held that a President does not “stand exempt” from the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee that the accused have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses for their defense. United States v.

2 TRUMP v. VANCE Syllabus Burr, 25 F. Cas. 30, 33–34. The sole argument for an exemption was that a President’s “duties as chief magistrate demand his whole time for national objects.” Ibid. But, in Marshall’s assessment, those duties were “not unremitting,” ibid.,and any conflict could be addressed by the court upon return of the subpoena. Marshall also concluded that the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee extended to the production of pa-pers. “[T]he propriety of introducing any papers,” he explained, would “depend on the character of the paper, not the character of the person who holds it,” and would have “due consideration” upon the return of the subpoena. Id., at 34, 37. Jefferson agreed to furnish whatever justice required, subject to the prerogative to decide whether particu-lar executive communications should be withheld. In the two centuries since Burr, successive Presidents from Monroe to Clinton have accepted Marshall’s ruling that the Chief Executive is subject to subpoena and have uniformly agreed to testify when called in criminal proceedings. In 1974, the question whether to compel the disclosure of official communications over the President’s objection came to a head when the Watergate Special Prosecutor secured a subpoena duces tecum di-recting President Nixon to produce, among other things, tape record-ings of Oval Office meetings. This Court rejected Nixon’s claim of an absolute privilege of confidentiality for all presidential communica-tions. Recognizing that “compulsory process” was imperative for both the prosecution and the defense, the Court held that the President’s “generalized assertion of privilege must yield to the demonstrated, spe-cific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial.” United States v.Nixon, 418 U. S. 683, 713. President Nixon dutifully released the tapes. Pp. 3–10. (b) This history all involved federal criminal proceedings. Here, the President claims that the Supremacy Clause gives a sitting President absolute immunity from state criminal subpoenas because compliance with such subpoenas would categorically impair the performance of his Article II functions. The Solicitor General, arguing on behalf of the United States, claims that a state grand jury subpoena for a sitting President’s personal records must, at the very least, meet a heightened standard of need. Pp. 10–22. (1) The President’s unique duties as head of the Executive Branch come with protections that safeguard his ability to perform his vital functions. The Constitution also guarantees “the entire independence of the General Government from any control by the respective States.” Farmers and Mechanics Sav. Bank of Minneapolis v. Minnesota, 232 U. S. 516, 521. Marshall’s ruling in Burr, entrenched by 200 years of practice and this Court’s decision in Nixon, confirms that federal crim-inal subpoenas do not “rise to the level of constitutionally forbidden

Cite as: 591 U. S. ____ (2020) 3 Syllabus impairment of the Executive’s ability to perform its constitutionally mandated functions.” Clinton v. Jones, 520 U. S. 681, 702–703. But the President claims that state criminal subpoenas necessarily pose a unique threat of impairment and thus require absolute immunity. His categorical argument focuses on three burdens: diversion, stigma, and harassment. Pp. 10–17. (i) The President contends that complying with state criminal sub-poenas would necessarily distract the Chief Executive from his duties. He grounds that concern on Nixon v. Fitzgerald, which recognized a President’s “absolute immunity from damages liability predicated on his official acts.” 457 U. S. 731, 749. But, contrary to the President’s suggestion, that case did not hold that distraction was sufficient to confer absolute immunity. Indeed, the Court expressly rejected im-munity based on distraction alone 15 years later in Clinton v. Jones, when President Clinton sought absolute immunity from civil liability for private acts. As the Court explained, Fitzgerald’s “dominant con-cern” was not mere distraction but the distortion of the Executive’s “decisionmaking process.” 520 U. S., at 694, n. 19. The prospect that a President may become “preoccupied by pending litigation” did not ordinarily implicate constitutional concerns. Id., at 705, n. 40. Two centuries of experience likewise confirm that a properly tailored crim-inal subpoena will not normally hamper the performance of a Presi-dent’s constitutional duties. The President claims this case is different. He believes that he is under investigation and argues that the toll will necessarily be heavier in that circumstance. But the President is not seeking immunity from the diversion occasioned by the prospect of future criminal liability. He concedes that he may be investigated while in office. His objection is instead limited to the additional distraction caused by the subpoena itself. That argument, however, runs up against the 200 years of prec-edent establishing that Presidents, and their official communications, are subject to judicial process, see Burr, 25 F. Cas., at 34, even when the President is under investigation, see Nixon, 418 U. S., at 706. Pp. 12–14. (ii) The President next claims that the stigma of being subpoenaed will undermine his leadership at home and abroad. But even if a tar-nished reputation were a cognizable impairment, there is nothing in-herently stigmatizing about a President performing “the citizen’s nor-mal duty of . . . furnishing information relevant” to a criminal investigation. Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U. S. 665, 691. Nor can the risk of association with persons or activities under criminal investiga-tion absolve a President of such an important public duty. The conse-quences for a President’s public standing will likely increase if he is

4 TRUMP v. VANCE Syllabus the one under investigation, but the President concedes that such in-vestigations are permitted under Article II and the Supremacy Clause. And the receipt of a subpoena would not seem to categorically magnify the harm to the President’s reputation. Additionally, in the grand jury context longstanding secrecy rules aim to prevent the very stigma the President anticipates. Pp. 14–15. (iii) Finally, the President argues that subjecting Presidents to state criminal subpoenas will make them “easily identifiable target[s]” for harassment. Fitzgerald, 457 U. S., at 753. The Court rejected a nearly identical argument in Clinton, concluding that the risk posed by har-assing civil litigation was not “serious” because federal courts have the tools to deter and dismiss vexatious lawsuits. 520 U. S., at 708. Har-assing state criminal subpoenas could, under certain circumstances, threaten the independence or effectiveness of the Executive. But here again the law already seeks to protect against such abuse. First, grand juries are prohibited from engaging in “arbitrary fishing expeditions” or initiating investigations “out of malice or an intent to harass,” United States v. R. Enterprises, Inc., 498 U. S. 292, 299, and federal courts may intervene in state proceedings that are motivated by or conducted in bad faith. Second, because the Supremacy Clause pro-hibits state judges and prosecutors from interfering with a President’s official duties, any effort to manipulate a President’s policy decisions or to retaliate against a President for official acts through issuance of a subpoena would be an unconstitutional attempt to “influence” a su-perior sovereign “exempt” from such obstacles, see McCulloch v. Mary- land, 4 Wheat. 316, 417. And federal law allows a President to chal-lenge any such allegedly unconstitutional influence in a federal forum. Pp. 15–17. (2) A state grand jury subpoena seeking a President’s private pa-pers need not satisfy a heightened need standard, for three reasons. First, although a President cannot be treated as an “ordinary individ-ual” when executive communications are sought, Burr teaches that, with regard to private papers, a President stands in “nearly the same situation with any other individual.” 25 F. Cas., at 191–192. Second, there has been no showing here that heightened protection against state subpoenas is necessary for the Executive to fulfill his Article II functions. Finally, absent a need to protect the Executive, the public interest in fair and effective law enforcement cuts in favor of compre-hensive access to evidence. Rejecting a heightened need standard does not leave Presidents without recourse. A President may avail himself of the same protec-tions available to every other citizen, including the right to challenge the subpoena on any grounds permitted by state law, which usually include bad faith and undue burden or breadth. When the President

Cite as: 591 U. S. ____ (2020) 5 Syllabus invokes such protections, “[t]he high respect that is owed to the office of the Chief Executive . . . should inform the conduct of the entire pro-ceeding, including the timing and scope of discovery.” Clinton, 520 U. S., at 707. In addition, a President can raise subpoena-specific con-stitutional challenges in either a state or a federal forum. As noted above, he can challenge the subpoena as an attempt to influence the performance of his official duties, in violation of the Supremacy Clause. And he can argue that compliance with a particular subpoena would impede his constitutional duties. Pp. 17–21. 941 F. 3d 631, affirmed and remanded. ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. KAVANAUGH, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which GORSUCH, J., joined. THOMAS, J., and ALITO, J., filed dissenting opinions.


School Year 2020-21

School starts next week. We’ll be starting with “online” school which is planned to last about 6 weeks.  Then some kids apparently will be invited to attend in a physical school at least part of the time.

The role of the parents in these difficult times is to support kids and teachers in whatever way they can.  Last year the whole experience was difficult, and exasperating. But Robert thinks he did a good job at not going ballistic after it was clear that Rory was not able to keep up with the workload or even manage the expectations of the many many disparate and complex (and, he would say underbaked free) online learning platforms that were thrown into use.

Robert does  get frustrated. One major problem is that in the case of middle school, each child has 7 teachers.  Each of those teachers is asked to use an online learning platform to push out lesson content.  There is, of course, because of the way we are all (including the teachers most of all) trying our best to deal with all of this in a sane manner lots of confusion.  And learning how to do this stuff is like drinking from a firehose.

What is the problem, you ask?

Here’s one way Robert can start to explain it.

See the below screen, which is from the Google Classroom platform.  It is, of course, a page where the student can have a portal into each of his classes.  Each teacher creates “button” which the student can click to go further into that teacher’s materials, assignments, expectations, links to other platforms, chats, and other communications.

The image below shows three teachers, in the next couple days the other four teachers will add their “buttons.”

Screenshot_2020-08-21 ClassesThis portal page shows, in a very very small very tippy tippy top of the iceberg kind of way, how things devolve into confusion very quickly. You see, each teacher use his or her own different format to for his/her button.  One says “7 Science P2 DeMont”  the other says “Arroyo Per 3”  the last says “Per 4 Tervet Math 7”. Each one different and requiring time to figure out what each button is telling the user.  “7”.  What does that mean?  Oh, I guess it means 7th period.  Oh, no, it means grade 7 in this case.  It also says P2, which we guess means second period.  And DeMont, which we would guess is the teacher’s name.  Moving on, we see “Arroyo Per 3”.  Is there a class named “Arroyo?  There is no reference to grade level. Or the class subject.  The final one lists the period first, then the teacher’s name.  Then the subject and the grade level.  One supposes.

Now, of course, after looking at this portal page for about a minute, one can figure it out.  It is a trivial example, standing alone. But one must remember that this is the very very very top of the iceberg.  After entering into each teacher’s online “class” there are hundreds and hundreds of presentational and organizational choices each teacher needs to make in a huge multi-faceted decision tree.  And each one of them does everything a different way.  So, it is hundreds of decisions multiplied by 7, the number of teachers that each student has.  It takes hours and hours to work through the pages, locations of information, expectations, assignments, deadlines, etc. And it all changes week to week. And try to remember how each teacher does it his/her particular way.

Robert would say that this is the biggest difficulty.  The schools and teachers, totally understandably, have a very hard time grasping that, in the parlance of software platforms, this is a “few-to-many” environment.  Not “one-to-many” (as is elementary school) and not “many to many.”  The teachers and school need to pay way more attention to uniformity, standardization, continuity, and the fact that each kid is navigating a huge set of information.  Every time a child is asked to reference a separate document, or even make a click, uses up his or her energy and tolerance. Problems with presentation and volume multiply exponentially.