Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Nauseating Debt-Ceiling 'Solution' - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

Update: Fallows pessimism draws criticism from readers HERE
The Nauseating Debt-Ceiling 'Solution' - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic: "the major steering decisions in national policy make a difference in the long term. It made a difference, for the good, that the United States adopted the GI Bill, and set up the Land-Grant Universities. It made a difference, for the bad, that California passed Proposition 13.
In the short run, the 'bargain' just agreed to offers worse than no hope for addressing the really urgent problem of the moment, harmfully high unemployment. And in the long run, this has been as sobering a case study of a great nation misusing its resources, distracting itself from real problems, and discrediting its political system in the world's eyes as... as I can remember. No 'foreign threat' has been involved here. Not a 'rising power,' like China. Not a 'non-state menace,' like some terrorist. We did this all ourselves."

Fact Sheet: Bipartisan Debt Deal: A Win for the Economy and Budget Discipline | The White House

Fact Sheet: Bipartisan Debt Deal: A Win for the Economy and Budget Discipline | The White House:
"In Securing this Bipartisan Deal, the President Rejected Proposals that Would Have Placed the Sole Burden of Deficit Reduction on Low-Income or Middle-Class Families: The President stood firmly against proposals that would have placed the sole burden of deficit reduction on lower-income and middle-class families. This includes not only proposals in the House Republican Budget that would have undermined the core commitments of Medicare to our seniors and forced tens of millions of low-income Americans to go without health insurance, but also enforcement mechanisms that would have forced automatic cuts to low-income programs. The enforcement mechanism in the deal exempts Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare benefits, unemployment insurance, programs for low-income families, and civilian and military retirement."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

How the Reid plan compares to the Boehner bill

As of Saturday morning, July 30, 2011 - after the Senate tabled the Boehner debt limit bill passed by the house.
Here is a comparison on the two

Thursday, July 28, 2011

James Fallows - It's true - the Republican Party is mainly to blame

"Still, anyone who thinks I am mainly blaming the Republicans for the needless debt-ceiling fracas, especially the Tea Party-era House Republicans arrayed behind Rep. Eric Cantor (and Rep. Jim Jordan), is correct. To put the reasons in one place, as things go down to the wire, here they are:

1) The debt-ceiling showdown represents hostage-taking, plain and simple. This is a 'crisis' that need never have happened, regardless of which party controlled the White House."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In defense of the White House - Jonathan Bernstein - WaPo

A response to Krugman's hysterical criticism of Obama by Jonathan Bernstein who knows that you have to count the votes - and the Republicans have the voter-given power to obstruct almost anything, limited only by their... - GWC
In defense of the White House - The Plum Line - The Washington Post:
by Jonathan Bernstein

"I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next week. One hopes that enough Republicans are only bluffing with their craziness, or can be talked out of their craziness (by who? Who will they listen to?) at the last minute. Or perhaps eventually, if there’s no other way, the president will take unilateral action — the Constitutional option — after all. But the idea that there was some obvious way for Democrats to deal with this situation strikes me as naïve. This isn’t about poor bargaining or fecklessness by the Democrats. It’s about dealing with the consequences of the fact that Americans elected to Congress a whole bunch of people who are either trying to impose fringe policy views despite apparently having no understanding whatsoever of their consequences — or are so driven by opposition to the president that their highest priority is opposing him, regardless of those consequences."

Policy changes under two presidents

This NY Times graphic shows that the Bush tax cuts are a huge piece of the puzzle. - GWC

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Norway's PM speaks after the attacks - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A very dignified, sober, and compassionate statement by Norway's Prime Minister in the first hours after the savage attacks. - GWC
Norway's PM speaks after the attacks - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): "Norway's PM speaks after the attacks
Updated July 23, 2011 12:26:32

Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg has vowed to punish those responsible for twin bomb and shooting attacks in Norway, which have left dozens dead and scores injured."

Friday, July 22, 2011

A plain blog about politics: Why Republicans Will Lose the Debt Limit Battle (more than the Democrats will lose)

Jonathan Bernstein can count votes and does, so his analyses are helpful. - GWC
A plain blog about politics: Why Republicans Will Lose the Debt Limit Battle (more than the Democrats will lose): "So the talks are broken down again. It's not exactly a surprise; the odds have always been good that any deal, whether it's a Grand Bargain or something like the clean McConnell that gives the GOP only symbolic gains, will happen at the last minute. Remember, almost all of what we're seeing is either bargaining, spin, or some other form of posturing or misinformation. That's not bad -- but it is what it is, and there's no point in pretending that it's anything else.

Meanwhile, in a post over at the other place earlier today, I pointed out that the eventual deal, should there be one (and sooner or later there will be some sort of deal) will wind up a lot closer to the Democrats’ ideal position than to the GOP perfect spot. I owe an explanation for that, so here it is, in three parts."

Obama Should Raise the Debt Ceiling on His Own -

This could be - and should be now that John Boehner has broken off talks with a week to go - Obama's Truman moment. It is time to seize the steel mills like Harry did in 1949. It's a simple case: the United States meets its obligations as they come due. The President has the inherent power to do what is necessary to carry out the laws. That includes raising the money needed to meet the obligations the nation has lawfully assumed.
Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule explain how. - GWC
Obama Should Raise the Debt Ceiling on His Own - "Where would Mr. Obama get his constitutional authority to raise the debt ceiling?

Our argument is not based on some obscure provision of the 14th amendment, but on the necessities of state, and on the president’s role as the ultimate guardian of the constitutional order, charged with taking care that the laws be faithfully executed."

President Signs DADT Certification The White House

Today President Obama signed the certification that will end Don't Ask, Don't Tell - the compromise President Clinton was forced to make, which while a step forward at the time proved to be odious in the long run. We just got to Maine where a popular referendum repealed gay marriage last year. Emboldened Equality Maine is gathering signatures to put the issue on the ballot in 2012.  They are buoyed by the momentum created by repeal of DADT, the New York Legislature, and this week's announcement that the President will campaign for repeal of the misnamed Defense of Marriage Act. - GWC
Getting "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Done | The White House:
 "Today, in accordance with this law, I signed the certification that will end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” once and for all. The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also have certified that the military is ready for the repeal. Sixty days from now, on September 20th, the repeal will be complete and gay men and women will be able to serve their country openly."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thomas Jefferson School Of Law: Is The Answer Worse Than The Allegations? « Above the Law>>

Thomas Jefferson's defense to a student's claim that he was misled by its reported rate of employment 9 months post graduation is that if he had looked at bar pass rates (which average about 50%) that he should not have been misled by the 92% employment rate.  Those who failed the bar could not have been working as lawyers. - GWC
Thomas Jefferson School Of Law: Is The Answer Worse Than The Allegations? « Above the Law:
"Ever since Anna Alaburda sued Thomas Jefferson School of Law over its allegedly misleading employment statistics, we’ve been waiting for TJSL to respond. Today is that day, and the school’s answer does not disappoint.
The school has filed two documents in response to Alaburda’s complaint. We’ve uploaded their demurrer and their motion to strike. They are not long; you should flip through them.
Thomas Jefferson makes a solid defense of itself. But in the process of trying to quash Alaburda’s lawsuit, the school offers some pretty damning admissions that seem to support Alaburda’s underlying moral, if not legal, point…"

Jonathan Bernstein : Presidential Persuasion

Jonathan Bernstein today features a long quote from presidential historian Richard Neustadt about the nature of presidential power. It is not wielded, generally, by "giving speeches, getting out on the campaign trail and forcefully making your case". It is about using the power of the presidency (including speech) to get others with power to do something - recognizing their ambitions, their dependencies on their constituents, etc. Click on the link and read it. Then think about the imminent big deal which will dominate the news for the next 10 days. - GWC

A plain blog about politics: Persuasion:
 "Ezra Klein's post yesterday on what he called 'the paradox of presidential leadership' made a strong case, with which I agree, that going public is apt to be counterproductive in an era in which the out party demonizes the president and demonizes compromise.
Klein refers to Richard Neustadt, however, and I do want to clarify Neustadt's idea of presidential persuasion. It's not, or at least not primarily, about what Klein describes as Washington's idea of persuasion, which is 'taking strong positions, giving speeches, getting out on the campaign trail and forcefully making your case.' I think a nice long quote from Neustadt is in order"
  (click on the link above and you'll see it - gwc) Mobile : Ken Feinberg agrees to independent audit of Gulf Coast Claims Facility Mobile : Ken Feinberg agrees to independent audit of Gulf Coast Claims Facility: "Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter dated today.

The letter, addressed to Feinberg, recounts a July 7, closed-door meeting between the two, at which Holder relayed concerns he’d heard during a late June visit to Mobile.

Holder wrote that he will hold the Claims Facility to 'the highest standards of efficiency, consistency and customer service,' adding that that resolving spill claims quickly must be the facility’s highest priority, notwithstanding the audit."

Worst. Congress. Ever. - By Norman Ornstein | Foreign Policy

This is not the usual lament.  It is a careful historical analysis by a seasoned Republican student of the Congress.  His diagnosis: Republicans refuse to govern - i.e. refuse to make the compromises that responsible governance requires. - GWC
"For the first time ever, in the 111th Congress that convened during the first two years of the Obama presidency, the National Journal's vote ratings showed that the most conservative Democratic senator was to the left of the most liberal Republican. There is now no overlap ideologically at all between the parties. Only nine of the remaining small number of conservative House Democrats (now called "Blue Dogs") were to the right of the most liberal House Republican. That Republican, Mike Castle of Delaware, was dumped by his party in a primary as he ran for the Senate and is now out of Congress, as are the bulk of the Blue Dogs."
Worst. Congress. Ever. - By Norman Ornstein | Foreign Policy: "Dana Carvey had a character during his years on Saturday Night Live who was a crotchety old man complaining about how much better everything was 'in my day,' the imagined halcyon times of his past. After almost 42 years immersed in the politics of Congress, I have to check myself regularly to avoid falling into the same trap. When I came to Washington in 1969, for example, the city was riven with division and antagonism over the Vietnam War, which segued into the impeachment of a president, followed by many other difficult and contentious moments. In this case, though, Carvey's old man would be right: The hard reality is that for all their rancor, those times were more functional, or at least considerably less dysfunctional, than what we face with Congress today."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Judge tosses RICO claims vs BP over oil spill || Reuters

Judge tosses RICO claims vs BP over oil spill | Agricultural Commodities | Reuters: "By Moira Herbst and Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK, July 15 (Reuters) - BP Plc won two legal victories on Friday, as a federal judge threw out racketeering claims made by the lead plaintiffs suing over last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and also set aside a lawsuit by partner Anadarko Petroleum Corp .

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans dismissed claims that BP violated a federal anti-racketeering law by defrauding U.S. regulators in connection with the safety of its drilling operations, its ability to respond to any oil spill and its response to the spill"

Obama Has Always Been for Premature Fiscal Austerity

Obama Has Always Been for Premature Fiscal Austerity: "Paul Krugman sends us to Mark Thoma who sends us to Jonathan Schwarz, who points out that there is evidence that Obama rejected his economists' judgment that the economy needed a bigger stimulus back at the start of 2009.


A Tiny Revolution: If Only the Czar Knew:"

Dean Matasar's Response to NY Times Article

As I noted in my post of the Times article New York Law School has made an exemplary effort at increasing bar pass rates. And at the heart of it is a focus on the bottom quarter of the first year class, which was given remedial support by faculty. Really impressive. HERE is an article from Journal of Legal Education detailing how they did it. - GWC
New York Law School :: Matasar's Response to NYTimes:
"We went from a 58 percent first time bar pass rate in 1999 to bar pass rates consistently in the mid-80 percent range and as high as the low 90 percent range.
Our bottom quartile LSAT student today would have been in the top quartile of our class at the turn of the 2000s.
Our new facility is among the finest in the country, not just for its beauty, but because it gives students the technological tools they need and provides them a comfortable, welcoming place for study and collaboration.
We have an innovative program in virtually every area of the curriculum, the most intensive integrated first-year skills program offered anywhere, and research centers working at the cutting edge of their fields."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Legal Ethics Forum: Sean Rehaag, "The Role of Counsel in Canada's Refugee Determination System: An Empirical Assessment"

Unsurprisingly effective counsel improved the accuracy of determinations of refugees' asylum claims in Canada. - GWC h/t Legal Ethics Forum
Legal Ethics Forum: Sean Rehaag, "The Role of Counsel in Canada's Refugee Determination System: An Empirical Assessment"

Software Designer Reports Error in Casey Anthony Trial -

Brady v. Maryland requires prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence.  And prosecutors are required to correct evidence offered once the falsity is known (RPC 3.3 - A lawyer shall not... fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer) It appears that both rules were broken in the Casey Anthony case.  But it appears the error was harmless - since she was acquitted. That does not settle the question of whether the prosecutors should be disciplined. That is within the discretion of the Florida bar disciplinary authorities. - GWC
Software Designer Reports Error in Casey Anthony Trial - "According to Mr. [John] Bradley, chief software developer of CacheBack, used by the police to verify the computer searches, the term “chloroform” was searched once through Google. The Google search then led to a Web site,, that was visited only once, Mr. Bradley added. The Web site offered information on the use of chloroform in the 1800s.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office had used the software to validate its finding that Ms. Anthony had searched for information about chloroform 84 times, a conclusion that Mr. Bradley says turned out to be wrong. Mr. Bradley said he immediately alerted a prosecutor, Linda Drane Burdick, and Sgt. Kevin Stenger of the Sheriff’s Office in late June through e-mail and by telephone to tell them of his new findings. Mr. Bradley said he conducted a second analysis after discovering discrepancies that were never brought to his attention by prosecutors or the police.

Mr. Bradley’s findings were not presented to the jury and the record was never corrected, he said. Prosecutors are required to reveal all information that is exculpatory to the defense"

Bill Clinton: I'd use 14th Amendment - Jennifer Epstein -

Absolutely right. If push comes to shove stand and say "the United States meets its obligations". The Supreme Court would back him 7-2 (dissenters: Scalia & Thomas)
Bill Clinton: I'd use 14th Amendment - Jennifer Epstein -
"By JENNIFER EPSTEIN | 7/19/11 6:25 AM EDT

Former President Bill Clinton would invoke the 14th Amendment - “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me,” he says - to raise the debt ceiling if he were in President Barack Obama’s shoes, with the deadline to raise the limit just two weeks away.

“I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy,” Clinton said in an interview with journalist Joe Conason.

Clinton said he would turn to the Constitution “if it came to that,” but doesn’t think that Obama will need to. “It looks to me like they’re going to make an agreement, and that’s smart,” he said."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Can a playground be too safe? NY

real playground jungle jim - if you fell it hurt
Oh, definitely. I hated it at the Ashfield fall festival when the den mothers held the rope ladder so that all the children got to ring the bell. And falling on rubber playground mats. What's wrong with dirt?
It's of a piece with grade inflation and all the children are above average. I failed 4th grade arithmetic. Had a nervous breakdown over fractions. My solution? The decimal system. Everything converts into %. Should they have told me it was OK, that I just needed a little help. No. The failure was instructive - but you can see the seeds even there. I got an E- 5. E instead of F. 5 for lack of effort. That was wrong. I was trying. My brain just didn't compute. Even now 5/16 x 11/32 makes me nervous. - GWC
Can a Playground Be Too Safe? - "When seesaws and tall slides and other perils were disappearing from New York’s playgrounds, Henry Stern drew a line in the sandbox. As the city’s parks commissioner in the 1990s, he issued an edict concerning the 10-foot-high jungle gym near his childhood home in northern Manhattan.

“I grew up on the monkey bars in Fort Tryon Park, and I never forgot how good it felt to get to the top of them,” Mr. Stern said. “I didn’t want to see that playground bowdlerized. I said that as long as I was parks commissioner, those monkey bars were going to stay.”

His philosophy seemed reactionary at the time, but today it’s shared by some researchers who question the value of safety-first playgrounds."

Clemens Prosecutors' Error: Deliberate or Inadvertent?

Ellen Podgor gets technical about the issue: the (inadvertent? or deliberate) exposure of the Roger Clemens jury to inadmissible evidence - a hearsay statement by Andy Pettite's wife. In any event she thinks the rocket should walk: that the prosecutor should exercise his discretion by turning his attention to more important cases. - GWC
White Collar Crime Prof Blog: Clemens Error: Deliberate or Inadvertent

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Plain debt talk from Obama - how we got here

 It turns out we don’t have to do anything radical to solve this problem. Contrary to what some folks say, we’re not Greece, we’re not Portugal. It turns out that our problem is we cut taxes without paying for them over the last decade. We ended up instituting new programs, like a prescription drug program for seniors that was not paid for. We fought two wars, we didn’t pay for them. We had a bad recession that required a Recovery Act and stimulus spending and helping states, accumulated, and there’s interest on top of that. 

And to unwind that, what’s required is that we roll back those tax cuts on the wealthiest individuals. That we clean up our tax codes so we’re not giving out a bunch of tax breaks to companies that don’t need them and are not creating jobs. We cut programs that we don’t need and we invest in those things that are gonna help us grow. And every commission that’s been out there has said the same thing and basically taken then same approach within the margin of error. 

So my general view is that if the American people looked at this they’d say, “Boy, some of the decisions are tough, but they don’t require us to gut Medicare or Social Security. They don’t require us to stop helping young people to go to college. They don’t require us to stop helping families who have a disabled child. They don’t require us to violate our obligation to our veterans. And they don’t require us to stop, quote/unquote, 'job-killing' tax cuts. They require us to make some modest adjustments to get out house in order. And we should do it now.”  

With respect to Senator McConnell’s plan, like I said, I think it is a ... it is constructed to say that if Washington operates as usual and can’t get anything done, let’s avert Armageddon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Law School Economics - Job Market Weakens, Tuition Rises -

New York Law School Dean Richard Matasar for the last decade has argued that low-ranked schools like his cannot produce the jobs needed to pay off the cost of legal education. He has led a major and impressive effort to boost bar exam pass rates for students in the bottom quarter of the class. But that might get you a job as house counsel or for a small firm. Yet under Matasar NYLS has pursued glory - include a new building.  The Times here makes him a centerpeice of their story. - GWC (click on image to enlarge)
Law School Economics - Job Market Weakens, Tuition Rises - "Take a look at the strange case of New York Law School and its dean, Richard A. Matasar. For more than a decade, Mr. Matasar has been one of the legal academy’s most dogged and scolding critics, and he has repeatedly urged professors and fellow deans to rethink the basics of the law school business model and put the interests of students first.

“What I’ve said to people in giving talks like this in the past is, we should be ashamed of ourselves,” Mr. Matasar said at a 2009 meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. He ended with a challenge: If a law school can’t help its students achieve their goals, “we should shut the damn place down.”

Given his scathing critiques, you might expect that during Mr. Matasar’s 11 years as dean, he has reshaped New York Law School to conform with his reformist agenda. But he hasn’t. Instead, the school seems to be benefitting from many of legal education’s assorted perversities."

Fundamental right: choose your own light bulb

The federal government definitely does have the right to regulate commerce. The Tea Party majority has brought us bar stool constitutionalism.
Of course having the power to do something doesn't mean it is wise to do it. So what about my incandescent bulbs on dimmers? - GWC
House Votes to Withhold Funding for Light Bulb Law - "“The federal government has no right to tell me or any other citizen what type of light bulb to use at home,” said Representative Michael C. Burgess, Republican of Texas, who offered the measure as an amendment to a 2012 energy and water spending bill. The light-bulb provision was approved on a voice vote; later the House voted 219 to 196 to pass the energy bill.

Although the efficiency regulations do not specify what types of bulbs are allowed, the standards would effectively eliminate many of the most popular choices on the market beginning with the 100-watt incandescent bulb on Jan. 1. If it becomes law, the provision approved Friday would prevent the Energy Department from enforcing the regulation in 2012."

Friday, July 15, 2011

As Gulf Tourism Rebounds, BP Seeks to Lower Payments -

As Gulf Tourism Rebounds, BP Seeks to Lower Payments - "GULF SHORES, Ala. — It seems like old times here on the Gulf Coast. The Flora-Bama Lounge is hopping, there’s a two-hour wait for a table at the Original Oyster House, and the first complaints you hear among the charter boat operators are about the latest fishing limits — not oil slicks."

Republicans not even bluffing now - it's just pantomime

John Boehner says House Republicans won't vote for the real deal until they're done posturing. They're going to vote for a constitutional balanced budget amendment, which everybody knows cannot pass. (And almost everyone knows is a stupid idea.)
So they know they are going to extend the debt limit - because they know that Social Security checks have to go out on time, and bondholders around the world need to know that U.S. Treasury debt is the world's most secure investment.
So what you can expect is a week of wink-wink before the final package is presented - at the last minute. Childish, really. - GWC
Boehner: No Debt Limit Solution Til After Vote On Balanced Budget Amendment | TPMDC

Professional Responsibility: West Virginia Adopts Actual Innocence Rule For Criminal Clients Who Sue for Malpractice

from Prof. Alberto Bernabe at John Marshall Law School
Professional Responsibility: West Virginia Adopts Actual Innocence Rule For Criminal Clients Who Sue for Malpractice: "Here is the most recent case in a long line of bad cases that hold that a criminal defendant does not have a right to sue his or her attorney for legal malpractice. In this instance, the West Virginia Supreme Court held that a criminal defendant who, having obtained habeas relief, pled nolo contendere to the criminal charges. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ketchum argued that the court's decision is contrary to 148 years of precedent as well as rules of procedure and evidence. He also argues that the decision 'obliterates a criminal plea that served a very useful purpose.' You can read the opinion here and the dissent here.

For more recent news on this issue go here and here."

Clemens Judge Declares Mistrial -

Clemens Judge Declares Mistrial - "WASHINGTON — The federal judge presiding over Roger Clemens’s perjury case declared a mistrial Thursday, saying the government made a fatal misstep even a “first-year law student” would have avoided when it presented inadmissible testimony that prejudiced the jury against Clemens."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A History of College Grade Inflation -

John Kerry was national college debate champion. He graduated in 1966 with a 77 average from Yale College. Two years later George W. Bush graduated with a 78 average. That was the era of the "gentleman's C". Then came grade inflation: all the children are above average. Especially at elite private universities. My anecdotal evidence is that the higher the average LSAT score of law students, the higher the average GPA in law school. - GWC  Holy Cross '67 (pre-inflation)
A History of College Grade Inflation - "researchers collected historical data on letter grades awarded by more than 200 four-year colleges and universities. Their analysis (published in the Teachers College Record) confirm that the share of A grades awarded has skyrocketed over the years. Take a look at the red line in the chart below, which refers to the share of grades given that are A’s". (click to enlarge chart)

China Urges U.S. to Take Responsible Action on Debt -

Instructed by the Reds about fiscal responsibility. We've come a long way since Radio Peking ranted about the "soviet renegade revisionist clique" and "the American imperialists and their running dogs", phrases I heard every day when we depended for our news on VOA, BBC, Moscow, Peking, and All India radio on short wave while living in Maharashtra, India 1967 - 1969 . - GWC China Urges U.S. to Take Responsible Action on Debt - "HONG KONG — China, the United States’ biggest creditor, urged the U.S. government on Thursday to act to protect investors’ interests, highlighting rising concerns around the globe about the protracted budget talks taking place in Washington."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Eric Cantor Takes Bargaining Positions Out of Context, Poisoning The Atmosphere Of Future Negotiations | ThinkProgress

Eric Cantor Takes Bargaining Positions Out of Context, Poisoning The Atmosphere Of Future Negotiations | ThinkProgress: "The cardinal principle of grand bargaining is that “nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.” In other words, if you’re going to have a balanced agreement in which Democrats agree to do some things Republicans want in exchange for Republicans agreeing to do things Democrats want, you need to be able to talk about those “things” in a conditional way. For example, I would be willing to index Social Security benefits to the Chained CPI (a small benefit cut) if we also indexed tax brackets to the Chained CPI (a modest tax increase). But that doesn’t mean I’ve “agreed” to index Social Security benefits to the Chained CPI. It’s a bargaining chip.
Eric Cantor who, despite some appearance to the contrary, isn’t too stupid to understand this has decided to pretend not to understand it."

Why Taxes Will Rise in the End - David Leonhardt -

Never say never. The problem with "No new taxes. Read my lips" pledges. - GWC
Why Taxes Will Rise in the End - David Leonhardt -
"Free lunchism is ultimately the problem with the no-new-taxes pledge that so many politicians have adopted. A refusal to raise taxes, no matter how principled, cannot take us back to the good old days. It would instead lead to a very different American society. For taxes to remain where they are, Washington would need to end Medicare as we know it, end Social Security as we know it, severely shrink the military — or do some combination of the above."

Calculated Risk: Debt Ceiling Charade Update

Calculated Risk: Debt Ceiling Charade Update:
by Bill McBride
"I'm frequently asked why I'm not worried about the debt ceiling, and why the bond market doesn't seem to care.
The answer is the debt ceiling is a joke. It serves no purpose except political posturing.
The budget is about the deficit; the debt ceiling is about paying the bills - and the U.S. will pay its bills".

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Overriding the Jury in Capital Cases -

Alabama death chamber
Hanging judges - you've got them in Alabama, according to this new report from the Equal Justice Initiative. As Adam Liptak explains, 20% of those on death row in Alabama are there because a judge overrode the jury's rejection of the death penalty.

One point of privilege: few trial judges have seen "many, many" capital cases. If you want accumulated  experience you should support the rigorous proportionality review for which the New Jersey Supreme Court set the gold standard, as demonstrated in the proceedings of the 2008 symposium Legislation, Litigation, Reflection & Repeal, the Legislative Repeal of the Death Penalty in New Jersey.
Overriding the Jury in Capital Cases -
"WASHINGTON — Alabama allows judges to reject sentencing decisions from capital juries, which sounds like a sensible idea. You might want a mature and dispassionate jurist standing between a wounded community’s impulse toward vengeance and a defendant at risk of execution.
“If you didn’t have something like that,” said Judge Ferrill D. McRae, who spent 40 years on the bench in Mobile before he retired in 2006, “a jury with no experience in other cases would be making the ultimate decision, based on nothing. The judge has seen many, many cases, not just one.”

First, They Came for the Lawyers - By Jerome A. Cohen | Foreign Policy

First, They Came for the Lawyers - By Jerome A. Cohen | Foreign Policy: "It's open season on lawyers in China today. To be sure, not on most of the almost 200,000 who foster economic development and international business, but on those unwise enough to become involved in human rights, criminal justice, and controversial public-interest cases. For them, law has become an increasingly hazardous profession. They risk informal warnings, 24/7 monitoring, interference with client and law firm relations, loss of their right to practice, hooded abductions, beatings, torture, 'thought reform,' coerced 'confessions' and 'guarantees,' criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and incommunicado incarceration at home both before and after imprisonment."

Conservatives Slash Legal Services For Struggling Americans | ThinkProgress

One of the line items that New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie vetoed was $5 million for Legal Services of New Jersey.  He has a lot of allies around the country.  What ever happened to the War on Poverty? - GWC
Conservatives Slash Legal Services For Struggling Americans | ThinkProgress: "Even as the recession leaves more and more Americans unable to pay for legal services, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee is considering a proposal to cut federal funding for legal aid to the poor by 26 percent in the coming fiscal year. If passed, the bill would trim the budget of the Legal Services Corporation down to its 1999 levels and deprive 235,000 people of access to much-needed legal services."

Under the U.S. Supreme Court: Bruising healthcare fight looms over Kagan, Thomas -

Under the U.S. Supreme Court: Bruising healthcare fight looms over Kagan, Thomas - "WASHINGTON, July 10 (UPI) -- All signs point to the U.S. Supreme Court as the major battleground in the bitter national debate over healthcare reform, either next term or the term after that. Meanwhile, each side is trying to push a justice out of the case."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Keynesian economics: Krugman explains

When I was young there were two choices: Marx or Keynes.  The falling rate of profit and the general crisis of capitalism yielded its cure: central planning.

Keynes/Roosevelt/Paul Samuelson stood for government intervention when the capital markets froze up.

Then came Milton Friedman and the rise of the free marketeers.  Now they have the upper hand and Keynes's heirs like Paul Krugman are frozen out of the White House  because even though they were right they were politically anathema to the right with whom compromise was necessary.  so Obama and Geithner guessed low on the stimulus needed, ran into a Republican fan when it proved short of being enough, and are now stuck in a major jam.

So what is Keynesian economics about?  HERE is Paul Krugman's Keynes Lecture.  Warning - it's wonkish and it has graphs with xy axes..

Non-lawyer ownership of law firms? Worth serious study says NJ Law Journal

The New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board has endorsed as worthy of "serious study" the challenge posed by Jacoby & Myers to the ban on non-lawyer ownership of law firms.  The firm filed suit in federal court in Newark and in several other states. - GWC
copyright American Lawyer Media, LLC (2011)
no further reproduction without permission
New Jersey Law Journal, July 8, 2011
Going Public

Jacoby & Myers has been driven for 40 years by a vision — never accomplished — of becoming a major retail brand for the delivery of legal services. They were groundbreakers in the push to permit lawyers to advertise. When the U.S. Supreme Court embraced advertising as a right of commercial free speech in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona , Jacoby & Myers became the first law firm with television advertisements. Despite being first the firm is not a large one. The envisioned efficiencies of scale — e.g., preprinted forms — were not as powerful as they expected. The personal computer made such efficiencies the norm.
But now Jacoby & Myers has launched a new initiative. The firm has filed a federal suit against the Supreme Court of New Jersey, seeking a ruling that Rule of Professional Conduct 5.4's ban on nonlawyer ownership of law firms is unconstitutional. Although the firm cites a dozen theories in a blunderbuss complaint, the strongest argument is doubtless the First Amendment argument. Lawsuits are a means of petitioning for redress of grievances. Corporate rights of free speech to engage in litigation have been recognized since 1963, when the U.S. Supreme Court held in NAACP v. Button that lawsuits are a form of protected free expression.
There is, of course, a difference. Jacoby & Myers is a profit-making enterprise and the clients it serves seek to resolve private differences — a distinction cited by Justice William Brennan Jr. in NAACP v. Button . But in UMWA v. State Bar of Illinois , the Court vindicated the First Amendment right of a miners' union to hire lawyers to advise members on workers' compensation claims. And in United Transportation Union v. State Bar of Michigan , the Court held that "meaningful access to the courts is a fundamental right within the protection of the First Amendment."
Since then, the boundaries of protected commercial free speech have steadily widened. Last year, in Citizens United v. FEC , the Court found that corporations have essentially the same rights of political speech as do individuals. That may provide the wedge needed to have the First Amendment argument in favor of nonlawyer equity in law firms taken seriously. Jacoby & Myers asserts that it is a leader in "legal services for the masses" and has long been in "the vanguard" of the fight against restrictions on attorney advertising. It seeks to build its brand name, which it alleges it cannot do by relying solely on partners equity and bank loans. To develop the reach it seeks, it needs equity partners. Walmart comes to mind as a potential investor.
Our first impulse may be to dismiss such mass-marketing as beneath the dignity of the profession. But we must confront the fact that financing litigation is expensive. The lawyers who brought suit for workers injured in the post-9/11 cleanup paid interest at rates approaching that of credit cards. Equity partners might have eased that burden. We must recognize, too, that England and Australia have eliminated the traditional ban against nonattorney ownership of law firms.
We don't have the answers, and we are dubious about having federal courts rewrite the rules of practice that are a longstanding state prerogative. But we do believe that Jacoby & Myers has raised a serious issue that both bench and bar must attend with serious study.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

As Government Aid Fades, So May the Recovery -

Look at these states - they all but West Virginia voted Republican last fall - yet they get the highest percentages of their income from the government! - GWC
As Government Aid Fades, So May the Recovery - "lose to $2 of every $10 that went into Americans’ wallets last year were payments like jobless benefits, food stamps, Social Security and disability, according to an analysis by Moody’s Analytics. In states hit hard by the downturn, like Arizona, Florida, Michigan and Ohio, residents derived even more of their income from the government.

By the end of this year, however, many of those dollars are going to disappear, with the expiration of extended benefits intended to help people cope with the lingering effects of the recession. Moody’s Analytics estimates $37 billion will be drained from the nation’s pocketbooks this year.

In terms of economic impact, that is slightly less than the spending cuts Congress enacted to keep the government financed through September, averting a shutdown."

Krugman - The Long and the Short of It -

How do we get rid of David Brooks. Because he occasionally parrots some sensible statement people think he is sensible. Then comes along another piece of idiocy. Friday evening, paired with E.J. Dionne on NPR he announced that government can't do much about short term economic issues, it should concentrate on the long term. Now just tell me which is harder:

Planning how the economy will look five years from now or spending $100 billion to pave roads? And put $$ in workers' pockets, so they can buy things?
When Eric Cantor says "never raise taxes in a recession" as he does every day, it means: spend money on bridge replacement in a recession. If the first is true, the second must be truer.

by Paul Krugman
The Long and the Short of It - "A number of people have been telling me about David Brooks and Ruth Marcus agreeing that there’s not much government can do about short-run economic performance, that we need to focus on long-run solutions. It’s a common sentiment inside the Beltway.

And it’s also utterly, utterly backwards. Changing the economy’s long-run growth rate is hard. We’ve had almost 25 years of “new growth theory” research, with every possible regression run, looking for the keys to faster growth; my sense is that we’ve basically come up dry."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

On Obama and the Economic News - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

On Obama and the Economic News - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic: "Let's hope that this week's 'we can save our way out of a recession' talk by Obama was a lapse. Otherwise we've got a reverse-sweet-spot combination of tragically misguided economics and self-defeating politics. Next year no one will care whether Obama was 'reasonable' rather than 'partisan' in this budget showdown with Boehner, Cantor, McConnell, Ryan, et al. People will care about whether they're employed or not, and will judge him mainly on those grounds."

Strauss-Kahn Case Involves Questions of Lust and Greed -

Jim Dwyer is a great reporter, a fine writer with an acute moral sense. He concludes this typically compelling piece with this gem:
Greed may not be as celebrated a sin as lust, but its addition to the narrative of this affair has been a favorable turn of events for Mr. Strauss-Kahn, to say the least. A French Socialist might be forgiven his sexual appetite, but a hotel housekeeper would find no mercy for seeming too interested in money.
Strauss-Kahn Case Involves Questions of Lust and Greed - "Lust has always been among the most popular of the seven deadly sins, and for more than a month, it appeared to be a satisfactory foundation for the Dominique Strauss-Kahn narrative that began with his arrest May 14, when he was pulled from a first-class seat on Air France and charged with sexually assaulting a housekeeper who had come to clean his hotel suite.

It quickly emerged that two other hotel workers told the authorities that the night before, Mr. Strauss-Kahn had invited them, separately, to visit his suite. They separately declined"

Friday, July 8, 2011

Death Penalty, Still Racist and Arbitrary -

deathDeath Penalty, Still Racist and Arbitrary - by David Dow
"LAST week was the 35th anniversary of the return of the American death penalty. It remains as racist and as random as ever.

Several years after the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, a University of Iowa law professor, David C. Baldus (who died last month), along with two colleagues, published a study examining more than 2,000 homicides that took place in Georgia beginning in 1972. They found that black defendants were 1.7 times more likely to receive the death penalty than white defendants and that murderers of white victims were 4.3 times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who killed blacks."

Overly Optimistic on Jobs and the Economy, Once Again -

The key to the economic turndown is that too few people are working and those who are don't earn enough.  In 2007 63.5% of the population was working.  Now it's a hair over 58%.  No wages, no income.  No income, no demand. - GWC
Overly Optimistic on Jobs and the Economy, Once Again - by David Leonhardt
"The share begins falling in 2007 even before the recession officially began, picked up speed in early 2008 and then began plummeting after Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008. The job market began stabilizing in late 2009, as the stimulus and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to battle to the crisis reached their peak. Employment began growing faster than population in early 2010 — but then stalled, thanks to some combination of Europe’s debt troubles, the waning of government action and the general uncertainty in the wake of a financial crisis."

Gridlock? GOP Says Weak Job Report Means No Tax Hikes -

Having nearly strangled the recovery by their refusal to prime the pump, the conservative leaders, in an exercise in cognitive dissonance, want to do more of the same. - GWC
GOP Says Weak Job Report Means No Tax Hikes - "WASHINGTON (AP) — Top congressional Republicans say a report that few new jobs were created last month shows this is not the time for the government to be raising taxes.

With the Obama administration and Congress looking for a compromise on raising the debt limit and cutting federal deficits, House Speaker John Boehner says that a package that raises taxes on small businesses would make things worse and wouldn't pass the GOP-run House. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says the same thing, adding, 'Republicans will not agree to tax increases. Period.'

Obama has insisted that some revenue increases be included in a deficit-reduction plan."

Bleak Jobs Report | Talking Points Memo

Fire Geithner? Hire Krugman? - GWC
Bleak Jobs Report | Talking Points Memo:
by Josh Marshall
"There's no getting around today's job report being just really bleak. 18,000 jobs is nothing against the need to add roughly 10 times that number just for the economy to produce enough jobs to keep up with population growth. (The rate itself rose to 9.2%) And it brings the country perilous close to going back to net jobs contraction. We are living with the consequences of inadequate government action in early 2009, poor policy choices and a basic misdiagnosis of the scale of the crisis the country faced. But then, we know that. Perhaps the starkest thing to contemplate is that these numbers raise the odds of new policy choices -- sucking still more demand out of the economy in the form of sharp spending cuts -- most likely to steepen the economy's descent."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Priest’s Former Caseload Exposes Holes in Immigration Courts -

A priest with a heart of gold, but it's not enough. - GWC
Priest’s Former Caseload Exposes Holes in Immigration Courts -
"For more than three decades, Robert Vitaglione never turned down a client, representing thousands of immigrants in New York’s overburdened federal immigration courts. But he is not a lawyer. He is a Roman Catholic priest without formal legal training or supervision — and it showed.
Disheveled and disorganized, Father Vitaglione sometimes jeopardized cases with his erratic behavior, according to a federal finding. His legal briefs included a blizzard of fonts and asides — “Deportation = Death” was written in bold in one.

In May, court administrators had enough, barring Father Vitaglione from handling cases. But if anything, that only deepened the disarray. Lawyers and advocates had to hold emergency meetings to figure out how to pick up his pending cases, clean up bungled ones, and find representation for untold immigrants."

Behind the Republican Resistance to Compromise -

by Nate Silver, the Times's brilliant political statistical analyst. - GWC
Behind the Republican Resistance to Compromise -
"The chart that I’m going to show you is one of the more important ones that we’ve presented at FiveThirtyEight in some time. It helps explain a lot of what’s going on in American politics today, from the negotiations over the federal debt ceiling to the Republican presidential primaries. And it’s pretty simple, really, although it took me some time to track down the data.

Here’s what the chart will show: The Republican Party is dependent, to an extent unprecedented in recent political history, on a single ideological group. That group, of course, is conservatives. It isn’t a bad thing to be in favor with conservatives: by some definitions they make up about 40 percent of voters. But the terms ‘Republican’ and ‘conservative’ are growing closer and closer to being synonyms; fewer and fewer nonconservatives vote Republican, and fewer and fewer Republican voters are not conservative."

Morgenthau Defends Vance's Handling of Strauss-Kahn Case -

Nice of Robert Morgenthau to stick up for his successor Cyrus Vance, Jr., but the former New York County D.A. doesn't actually rebut the criticism that the indictment of a leading international figure should have awaited thorough vetting of the complaining witness, in what is, in the end, just a "he say, she say" case. - GWC
Morgenthau Defends Vance's Handling of Strauss-Kahn Case - "Prosecutors have been criticized by some who say that they rushed to indict Mr. Strauss-Kahn before properly vetting the case.

“Following the indictment of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the district attorney’s staff continued to investigate the facts of the case, the defendant and the complainant,” Mr. Morgenthau said. “The prosecutors assigned to this matter are among the most senior and experienced in the district attorney’s office. I should know — I hired them.”

Once the prosecutors uncovered troubling information about the woman, Mr. Morgenthau said, “This information was promptly made available to the court, defense counsel and counsel to the complaining witness.”

Mr. Morgenthau said he met with Mr. Vance earlier this week to discuss issues relating to the case. He was confident that Mr. Vance would promptly turn over further relevant information to the defense, he said.

“And, I am equally confident that the district attorney will make a principled decision whether or not to proceed with the case, based on the facts and the law, and only after he and his staff are satisfied that their investigation is complete,” Mr. Morgenthau said."

Pew Poll: Majority Don't Want Entitlement Cuts To Reduce Deficit | TPMDC

The problem in Washington, D.C. where the Very Serious People live is the average net worth of the elected officials, who have little idea of how close to the edge most people are. And, most importantly, don't understand that after retirement (voluntary or involuntary) Social Security/ Medicare/Medicaid are the only security most people have. Of course Serious People like David Brooks, are ready to "get tough on entitlements". - GWC
Poll: Majority Don't Want Entitlement Cuts To Reduce Deficit | TPMDC: "Despite all the talk about cutting the deficit, neither party has wanted to be the first one to put entitlements on the chopping block. A Pew poll released Thursday explains why, as it shows that a robust majority of Americans don't want the government to rollback benefits for entitlement programs, even if those cuts are made to reduce the deficit.

Six in ten Americans said it was more important to leave Social Security and Medicare benefits untouched than to make cuts as a way to reduce the deficit, roughly twice as many as the 32% who said the opposite.Further, 61% said Medicare recipients already pay enough of their health costs, while 31% said beneficiaries should pay more money into the program"

U.S. Going Broke? Treasury borrows money at 0.0% interest!

Need a short-term payday loan?  It'll cost you.  But not if you are the United States Treasury.  Unlike, say, Greece or Portugal, people with cash are willing to lend the U.S. money for free!  Yet we hear daily from the Republican leadership that we're broke!

Study Finds Benefits in Health Insurance for the Poor -

Believe it or not, there are people who doubted it. - GWC
Study Finds Benefits in Health Insurance for the Poor - "When poor people are given medical insurance, they not only find regular doctors and see doctors more often but they also feel better, are less depressed and are better able to maintain financial stability, according to a new, large-scale study that provides the first rigorously controlled assessment of the impact of Medicaid."

Potential Clients: ABA Commission on Ethics 202/20 - New technology tools for client development

Prospective clients don't sit across the desk from you anymore. They don't even call. They might send email, or fill out a form on your website, or answer your targeted mailing, or post something on you Facebook page. The ABA Commission on ethics 20/20 has been studying the problem. After posting a draft for comment they now have proposed changes to RPC 1.18 Prospective Clients and 7.3 Direct Contact with Prospective Clients.  The ABA would now describe the subjects of RPC 7.3 as  "Potential Clients" - those who are the target of lawyers' active solicitations.

The complete proposed resolution and report are HERE

Proposed Resolution
RESOLVED: That the American Bar Association adopts the proposed
amendments to Model Rules 1.18 Prospective Clients, 7.2 Advertising , and 7.3 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct as follows (insertions underlined, deletions in brackets):

Rule 1.18 Duties to Prospective Client
(a) A person who [discusses] communicates with a lawyer about the possibility of forming a client-lawyer relationship and has a reasonable expectation that the lawyer is willing to consider forming a client-lawyer relationship with respect to a matter is a prospective client.

(b) Even when no client-lawyer relationship ensues, a lawyer who has had [discussions with] learned information from a prospective client shall not use or reveal that information [learned in the consultation], except as Rule 1.9 would permit with respect to information of a former client.

For the report on the proposed amendments to the black letter and to the comments on Model Rules 1.18, 7.2 and 7.3 go to the link above. - GWC

TaxProf Blog: NALP Reports 'Astonishing' Drop in Law Grad Starting Salaries

Paul Caron does the numbers on the much reported NALP press release. Basically salaries are flat and there are fewer private law firm jobs, so that brings the average salary down. - GWC
TaxProf Blog: NALP Reports 'Astonishing' Drop in Law Grad Starting Salaries: "The median starting salary for new law school graduates from the Class of 2010 fell 13% and the mean salary fell 10% according to new research released today from NALP. The research also reveals that aggregate starting private practice salaries fell an astonishing 20% for this class. These are among the most dramatic findings that were released this week from NALP's Employment Report and Salary Survey for the Class of 2010."

All Greek To McConnell - Krugman -

So Mitch McConnell thinks we're like Greece. But we're not - as Paul Krugman's chart shows. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Obama plays nice, GOP turns tough - David Frum

This is a moderate Republican insider's lament. In David Frum's view the President is a disastrous negotiator. He reports that Obama has offered $6 in cuts for every $1 in new revenue. Obama thought the Republicans would never be as irresponsible as they seem ready to be.
It is certainly the fear of Democratic progressives - that Obama either doesn't know how to negotiate - or, worse, doesn't really share their values, that he is, in Paul Krugman's derisive phrase, a Very Serious Person - like David Brooks. The tilt is always to the right. Their "tough choices" always are toughest for the weak and easiest on the rich. - GWC
Obama plays nice, GOP turns tough - "Through it all, Obama has played nice, again and again entreating his Republican opponents to emulate his example and play nice too. It's not what Lyndon Johnson would have done. It's not what Franklin Roosevelt would have done. I doubt it's what Hillary Clinton would have done.
Which brings me back to my starting question: Why don't the Democrats rebel? Presumably, they elected Obama to stand up for their shared principles. But he's not standing up. He's rolling over. Or being rolled."

National Catholic Reporter: Gay marriage, bishops and the crisis of leadership -

I have been a subscriber to National Catholic Reporter for thirty years. They were the first to recognize the seriousness of the clergy sex abuse scandal. And they are on the money again here. - GWC
Gay marriage, bishops and the crisis of leadership - "In their reaction to the vote, the Catholic bishops of New York wrote: “While our culture seems to have lost a basic understanding of marriage, we Catholics must not. We must be models of what is good, holy and sacred about authentic sacramental marriage.”

The statement might raise legitimate alarms if, indeed, the state law signaled that the Catholic ideals and sacramental life were actually under attack. They aren’t. Nicholas Cafardi has some excellent advice for the bishops (see story [1]) regarding their ongoing battle over same-sex marriage: “We need to give it up. This is not defeatism. This is simply following Jesus in the Gospels, who besides telling us not to act on our fears, also told us to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Civil marriage is Caesar’s. If Caesar wants to say that you can only get married on Tuesdays, wearing a blue suit and a red tie, that is Caesar’s call. The sacrament of matrimony is God’s. It is valid only when invoked between a baptized man and a baptized woman, in the presence of two witnesses and the spouses’ proper ordinary or pastor or his delegate. Caesar has no say in this.”"

Bill Clinton: GOP Voting Crackdown Worst Since Jim Crow | TPMDC

Telling it like it is.
Bill Clinton: GOP Voting Crackdown Worst Since Jim Crow | TPMDC: "Former President Bill Clinton weighed in on Republican efforts in several states to pass new restrictions on voting, comparing the measures to the Jim Crow laws of the past.

'There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today,' Clinton said in a speech at a Campus Progress conference in Washington.

He specifically called out Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) for trying to reverse past precedent and prevent convicted felons from voting even after they've completed their sentence.

'Why should we disenfranchise people forever once they've paid their price?' Clinton said. 'Because most of them in Florida were African Americans and Hispanics who tended to vote for Democrats. That's why.'"

Log Cabin Republicans win: 9th Circuit Enjoins Enforcement of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

In a classic example of the dynamic interaction between legislation and litigation the Log Cabin Republicans have triumphed.  "The circumstances balance of hardships has changed" said a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel in an unsigned Order.  Citing the repeal of DADT by Congress, and the Obama administration's decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act  the court has lifted the stay it had granted to the Defense Department - and enjoined enforcement of DADT, freeing soldiers and sailors who were facing removal from the service under the nearly defunct statute.
Key documents in the litigation can be found HERE

Court Orders Immediate Repeal Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' | TPMMuckraker

Court Orders Immediate Repeal Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' | TPMMuckraker: "The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ordered the federal government to stop enforcing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' the military's policy of discharging openly gay servicemen and women, citing the government's recent opposition to policies that discriminate based on sexuality."

Obama Not Ruling Out Invoking Constitutional Nuclear Option In Debt Talks | TPMDC

As the conservatives like to say in justifying police-state tactics "the Constitution is not a suicide pact". - GWC
Obama Not Ruling Out Invoking Constitutional Nuclear Option In Debt Talks | TPMDC: "During Wednesday's first Twitter town hall, President Barack Obama sidestepped a question about whether it was a good idea to invoke the 14th Amendment to pay government obligations if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling -- but he didn't rule it out.

As the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling looms closer and closer, liberal academics -- and even some Democratic members of Congress -- have begun questioning whether the legislative branch actually has the power under the Constitution to force the federal government to default on its debts."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I Dissent: A Different Kind of Supreme Court Term Review - Andrew Cohen - National - The Atlantic

I Dissent: A Different Kind of Supreme Court Term Review - Andrew Cohen - National - The Atlantic: "Now for the fun part. Here are the nine best dissents from the just-completed term. I include them here because the justices often are their most true selves during their dissents. And so their writings thus give us glimpses into what they really think about a topic or an issue (as opposed to what they must agree upon to join a majority opinion). I offer them in no particular order -- but each is a must-read to help understand what this term was about."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Oxford commas? Let common sense prevail | David Marsh | Comment is free |

Grammarians, English teachers, and fussy lawyers on editorial boards insist - as do Strunk & White in Elements of Style - that the comma before "and fussy lawyers" is a must. Not so fast.
Oxford commas? Let common sense prevail | David Marsh | Comment is free | "Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma? asked Vampire Weekend. Quite a few people, it turns out, including the entire population of the United States (or the significant proportion thereof that uses Twitter).

The horrified reaction to last week's much retweeted, if inaccurate, claim that 'Oxford University is abandoning the Oxford comma' was led by Americans alarmed at this new threat to the special relationship."

Letter From District Attorney to Defense in Strauss-Kahn Case - Document -

Brady v. Maryland is the landmark case which compels prosecutors to turn over to the defense all potentially exculpatory material. Here is the `Brady letter' sent by Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance to the lawyers defending Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Beijing to Shanghai - 4' 48" - by rail

High-speed train on fast track to success:
"BEIJING - High-speed trains linking Beijing and Shanghai made their passenger debut on Thursday, extending China's high-speed rail network to nearly 10,000 km.
Premier Wen Jiabao attended the railway's opening ceremony at Beijing South Railway Station and boarded the first train to Shanghai.

The high-speed line, built in only 38 months and open to traffic one year ahead of schedule, marked a new chapter in China's railway history, he said.

But railway operators must prioritize safety and improve management, as the line's 'safe, scientific, orderly and efficient operation is a challenging task', he said.

Launched on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of China, the railway started operations with a sleek-nosed white train leaving promptly at 3 pm from the station's No 1 platform for Shanghai. Passengers checked in at the station's No 1 check post before boarding.

The line, designed for speeds of 350 km/h but running initially at 300 km/h, halves the travel time between the country's two main cities to just four hours and 48 minutes."

Legal Ethics Forum: Supreme Court Recap

From Renee Knake at Legal Ethics Forum

A recap of the Supreme Court's cases this past term on the law governing lawyers.

The powerful win, mainly.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Law Job Stagnation May Have Started Before the Recession--And It May Be a Sign of Lasting Change - Magazine - ABA Journal

imageThis is an excellent ABA Journal article about the structural changes we all face. Numerous graphics illustrate the story: the era of mass, collective production of paper documents is over.

The PC was a game changer: I eliminated one staffer and increased productivity when I started using a laptop in 1991. I was now able to do my ordinary caseload and add a great deal of bar association and pro bono work appellate - which is how I managed the switch to the academic side of the law. But the big game-changer of course is the internet. - GWC

"Whether BigLaw lawyers, boutique specialists or solo practitioners, U.S. lawyers can expect slower rates of market growth that will only intensify competitive pressures and produce a shakeout of weaker competitors and slimmer profit margins industrywide. Law students will find ever-more-limited opportunity for the big-salary score, but more jobs in legal services outside the big firms. Associates’ paths upward will fade as firms strain to keep profits per partner up by keeping traditional leverage down.

And those who wish to rise above the disruption will have to deal with technology that swallows billable work, a world market that takes the competition international, and a more sophisticated corporate client with vast knowledge available at the click of a mouse."