Monday, August 29, 2011

(Un)masking Anonymity: Who’s Scamming? « SALTLAW

(Un)masking Anonymity: Who’s Scamming? « SALTLAW: "Perhaps the greatest and most fatal con-fusion in Law Prof’s posture is the conflation of the professoriate and administration. Clearly, law professors are not the ones who make decisions about class size, tuition costs, etc. We are paid to teach, write, and do service. These are quite exclusive spheres of work, but Law Prof instead sees a conspiracy"

'via Blog this'

Police Lineups Start to Face Fact - Eyes Can Lie -

The New Jersey Supreme Court has mandated pre-trial hearings when there is evidence of suggestiveness in the conduct of a police lineup.  And it has directed that juries be instructed in the factors that social science has shown make eyewitness identifications an often unreliable guide to the truth.  As a trial lawyer for the Public Defender early in my career we knew that to be true.  We cross-examined on things like weapon focus (you were looking at the gun, couldn't take your eyes off the gun, could you?').  But judges were entirely satisfied to allow the evidence to go unscrutinized to the black box of the jury room.  - GWC
Police Lineups Start to Face Fact - Eyes Can Lie -

The decision by New Jersey’s Supreme Court last week to overhaul the state’s rules for how judges and jurors treat evidence from police lineups could help transform the way officers conduct a central technique of police work, criminal justice experts say.

'via Blog this'

Strauss-Kahn: Prosecutor's Motion to Dismiss

Cyrus Vance, Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, moved for dismissal of  rape charges against French socialist leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  He says, in sum, that the accuser's "shifting and inconsistent accounts of the events", combined with her long-standing pattern of dishonesty make her unworthy of belief. The Times has made the full document available HERE. - GWC

The Tenured Law Prof Turned ‘Scamblogger’ Reveals Himself « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and Courts

The Tenured Law Prof Turned ‘Scamblogger’ Reveals Himself « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and Courts:
Prof. Brian Leiter denounces Prof. Paul Campos, saying
"ScamProf is the failed academic who has done almost no scholarly work in the last decade, teaches the same courses and seminars year in and year out, and spends his time trying to attract public attention, sometimes under his own name, this time anonymously. These are important facts about ScamProf, since he is indeed scamming his students and his state, and his initial posts were tantamount to a confession that he’s not doing his job"

'via Blog this'

Prosser To Investigators: Contact With Bradley's Neck Was A 'Total Reflex' | TPMMuckraker

Wisconsin Associate Justice David Prosser
Wisconsin Associate Justice David Prosser and Justice Ann Bradley's versions of their in-chambers confrontation are set forth at some length here. I would say that Bradley's narrative is the more plausible, but the prosecutor wisely chose not to charge any crime. - GWC
Prosser To Investigators: Contact With Bradley's Neck Was A 'Total Reflex' | TPMMuckraker:

'via Blog this'

Friday, August 19, 2011

Yes, There’s Real Money at the Top! | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities |

It is a popular conservative conceit that low income people pay no taxes.  They accomplish this by focusing only on the federal income tax, which at the bottom end of the scale takes little from the lower middle-class and poor.  But there are lots of taxes everyone pays: Social Security, Medicare, sales taxes, real estate taxes (indirectly if you are a renter).  So everyone pays significant taxes.  - GWC
   Off the Charts Blog | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities | Blog Archive | Yes, There’s Real Money at the Top: When billionaire investor Warren Buffet recently called on policymakers to “get serious about shared sacrifice” by raising taxes on the nation’s wealthiest people, some critics claimed that this wouldn’t make a serious dent in our budget problems. Nonsense.

IRS data show that the top 1 percent of taxpayers had a combined income of $1.7 trillion in 2008, the most recent year available. This is fully 20 percent of the nation’s total adjusted gross income — and much more than the bottom half of the population had (around 13 percent).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My (Muslim) Fellow American

Ten years ago - a week after the 9/11 attacks I drafted an editorial for New Jersey Lawyer "We Are All New Yorkers Now".  It reflected on the catastrophe and celebrated the spirit of national unity.  We were fortunate that George W. Bush honored that spirit and that he did not lapse into a tabloid rant about the Muslim threat.  He preached tolerance.  It was his finest moment as President.

Today there are still threats to that tolerance.  When a Christian fundamentalist slaughtered over 70 in Norway we did not conclude that Christians are dangerous.  But when a Muslim commits a crime too many blame Muslims.  There remain voices of intolerance, which are highlighted in the video below, a product of an educational campaign for tolerance:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Off the Charts Blog | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities | Blog Archive | Proposed Rules to Implement Health Reform Will Streamline Access to Coverage

It is very important to get the message across that the Affordable Care Act - maligned as Obamacare - really is an important step forward. The problem is that it is complicated and the benefits will start kicking in 2 years from now. CBPP is a first class organization. They explain how things work - to us and to policy makers. - GWC
Off the Charts Blog | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities | Blog Archive | Proposed Rules to Implement Health Reform Will Streamline Access to Coverage:" The Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department last week issued three proposed rules that are central to ensuring that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) greatly reduces the number of uninsured Americans. The rules will help states modernize their systems for enrolling people in health coverage to replace the outdated systems that most states use in their Medicaid programs.

Under the proposed rules, consumers will be able to use a single, streamlined application for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the new tax credit to help people buy private coverage through a state insurance exchange. The state will then determine which (if any) of these forms of assistance the applicant qualifies for.

The rules also allow states to use data they already have, such as from tax returns or other programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called food stamps), to verify applicants’ incomes, eliminating the need for consumers to send in paper proof such as pay stubs.

People will be able to apply for coverage online, in person, and by phone, and many of them should get a decision on their application the same day.

President to Rollout Jobs Package Next Month | Jared Bernstein | On the Economy

Jared Bernstein is pretty optimistic that President Obama will set out a good job-creation agenda next month. - GWC
President to Rollout Jobs Package Next Month | Jared Bernstein | On the Economy: "I look forward to a solid rollout next month followed by a defining fight. If things come down the way I think they will, let’s make sure everyone in this country knows exactly who’s standing between the 20+ million un- and underemployed Americans, and their jobs, paychecks, and living standards.

Rick Perry’s Imaginary Regulation |

Perry, Aug. 15: This is just such an obscene, crazy regulation. They wanna make — if you are a tractor driver, if you drive your tractor across a public road you're gonna have to have a commercial driver's license. Now, how idiotic is that?
Rick Perry’s Imaginary Regulation |

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Healthcare - Triibe responds toEleventh Circuit and to Richard Epstein : SCOTUSblog

by Laurence Tribe

Romney calls for common ground, hails Tea Party from Political Intelligence

Romney was the anti-Rick Perry today; the anti-Obama channeling Obama. All things to all people. Democrats love America, so doe the Tea Party. He loves rural New Hampshire. He was there doing some shopping recently - at the "do it yourself home center". He doesn't remember where he shopped. I guess he doesn't get around much anymore. - GWC
Romney calls for common ground, hails Tea Party from Political Intelligence: "By Matt Viser, Globe Staff

BERLIN, N.H. – In a political era that has been marked by partisan rancor and a stick-to-your-principles mantra, Mitt Romney increasingly seems to be banking on the notion that voters will appreciate someone who calmly calls for common ground.

Several times today, as he worked his way through New Hampshire, the Republican presidential hopeful has made a point to praise Democrats for their patriotism.

“Leaders [are successful] not by attacking their opposition but by finding common ground where principles are shared,” Romney said tonight at a town hall meeting in this North Country community. “You see, in our nation, Democrats love America, too. I’m a Republican, I love America. Democrats love America. We need to find places where we can agree and work together to help America.”"

3 Points on Rick Perry - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

There is a lot more to this post by James Fallows than the opening paragraph. Basically the point is that Rick Perry demonstrated with his "treason" charge against Ben Bernanke that he is not ready for prime time. Yesterday he refused to say that Obama loves America. "I dunno, you'ld have to ask him." - GWC
3 Points on Rick Perry - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic: "1) Until I saw clips of him in the past two or three days, I hadn't realized how much watching and seeing Perry is just like having George W. Bush back in our living rooms. Maybe this will be an ingredient for strong conservative support. I can't imagine that any sophisticated Republican operative thinks it's a plus in winning 270 electoral votes. When Republicans ran against the first post-Nixon Democratic president, in 1980, they didn't try to find someone who looked and sounded like Tricky Dick."

State and Local Go'vt Job Loss | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Off the Charts Blog | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
"As Americans return from vacation to find shrunken state and local services — from fewer teachers in their children’s classrooms to less help for elderly and disabled residents to tuition hikes at public universities — we hope they’ll connect the dots as well as yesterday’s New York Times editorial did:

Washington should have been trying to find a way to help states avoid the layoffs and cutbacks that have contributed heavily to the high unemployment rate. Instead, it seems to be doing everything possible to make the situation worse in state capitals around the country.
That’s because the large federal spending cuts in the recent debt-limit deal will inevitably force large cuts in funding for services that states and localities provide, like transportation, education, and environmental protection"

Monday, August 15, 2011

FactChecking Perry |

FactChecking Perry | "Rick Perry has made false or exaggerated claims on U.S. oil imports, the federal debt, Social Security and the federal health care law.
The Texas governor gave a speech Aug. 13 in South Carolina to announce he will run for the Republican presidential nomination. As we have for other declared candidates, we offer here a summary of his past statements that we have found to be false or misleading. We also reviewed his weekend speech and found other questionable claims."

Rick Perry: Let States Secede from Social Security

He'll be walking this back all the way back to Austin. - GWC

Buffett: Stop Coddling the Super-Rich -

from the Oracle of Omaha - Warren Buffett
Stop Coddling the Super-Rich - "While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places."

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Voices Faulting G.O.P. Economic Policies Growing Louder -

 “We were not elected to raise taxes or take more money out of the pockets of hardworking families and business people.” - Eric Cantor, Republican Majority Leader, August 2011
“I think the U.S. has every chance of having a good year next year, but the politicians are doing their damnedest to prevent it from happening — the Republicans are — and the Democrats to my eternal bafflement have not stood their ground,” Ian C. Shepherdson, chief United States economist for High Frequency Economics, a research firm, said in an interview.
You have to hope voices like Shepherdson's will grow louder - and embolden the President who is now "fighting the wimp factor" as Newsweek once said of the decidedly un-wimpy George H.W. Bush.  But Obama is in a deeper hole than Bush the elder was when he lost to "it's the economy, stupid" Bill Clinton.  It may already be too late but Obama needs to find a vision to fight for and that American believe he will go to the mat for.  And time is running short. - GWC
Voices Faulting G.O.P. Economic Policies Growing Louder -

Why Rick Perry Won't Win the Nomination| Mother Jones

by Kevin Drum
Why Rick Perry Won't Win | Mother Jones

Another perspective: inside the law school scam

Another Perspective - a guest post from Inside the law school Scam
The Scammer has published a guest anonymous post. It is a useful corrective. A prominent professor at a top ten school describes his work life. It has a very familiar ring to me. It is very similar to my work life, and that of a lot of other people with whom I have taught.

I am not an administrator and I try to mind my own business (it keeps me very busy), so I don't have any overview on who works hard and who doesn't (except that I know a lot of faculty members who definitely work hard). So I am glad that the Scammer, who I think is an interesting provocateur, has recanted a bit on his hyperbolic pieces of the last week or two. - GWC

Republican Candidates take the no new taxes pledge

Taking the pledge - no new taxes
At the first Republican Presidential debate FoxNews tried to prove it is a legitimate news organization, not just a right wing agit-prop operation. So they asked some interesting questions. The best was would you support a deficit reduction deal in which cuts exceed taxes by 10 -1. The bloody fools all raised their hands to just say No to increased revenues. I suppose the eventual nominee will walk this back, but all but Perry will have to deal with the picture of the raised arm affirming "no new taxes". Not a popular position - no new taxes even for the rich. But it is not the unpopularity that is important - it is the irresponsibility. - GWC
23 Polls Say People Support Higher Taxes to Reduce the Deficit | Capital Gains and Games

White House: Lot for Dems to love in deal -

White House: Lot for Dems to love in deal - "Responding to criticism from liberal Democrats, White House officials said Sunday night that the deal President Obama helped broker provides a path to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy while protecting domestic programs."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Barack Obama Needs to Force Congress Into Recess, Make Appointments - The Daily Beast

The House of Representatives refuses to adjourn - in order to prevent the President from making appointments during recess. This is part of the conservatives "just say no" strategy which has created many vacancies at high levels of government and has obstructed appointment of many qualified and desirable nominees. Michael Tomasky has a bold suggestion. - GWC
Barack Obama Needs to Force Congress Into Recess, Make Appointments - The Daily Beast:
"I’ve been wondering lately the same thing as a lot of liberals in Washington: when and how will the president ever grow some backbone? Sure, the post-debt-deal polls show that he came out of the mess looking somewhat less terrible than the Republicans. But he looks weak, and he’ll keep getting pushed around until he throws down on something. I’m planning an occasional series about what that something could be, and here’s idea No. 1: force the Congress into recess and make a slew of appointments.

What? Force the Congress into recess? Yes. The president has the power under the Constitution to do exactly that. Read Article II, which is, of course, on the executive branch, Section 3, titled “State of the Union, Convening Congress.”"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

GOP Debate Watch | Obama for America | 2012

GOP Debate Watch | Obama for America | 2012

Inside the Law School Scam

So this an interesting development - a tenured professor at a "first tier" law school has decided to unload on the legal academic establishment. Above the Law tells the story about the blogger. His most recent post states his basic critique. - GWC
Inside the Law School Scam: "In more than one way, American law students are currently getting the worst of all worlds. Law schools have become somewhat more academically serious places, but quite incompletely (as always all these observations apply to greatly different degrees across the hierarchical spectrum of schools), and in any case most law students are not interested in paying $200,000 for an academic experience. Meanwhile, law schools remain as uninterested as ever in anything resembling actual vocational training. They remain largely dominated by a doctrinal model of teaching and scholarship that is neither academically serious nor of much practical vocational value. In short, students at the contemporary law school end up paying enormous amounts of money for something that they aren't getting, and in many cases wouldn't want even if it were being provided to them."

A Tenured Top-Tier Law Professor Joins the Ranks of the ‘Scambloggers’ « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and Courts

A Tenured Top-Tier Law Professor Joins the Ranks of the ‘Scambloggers’ « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and Courts

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Dysfunction at the Very Heart of American Politics

Not that it does me any good - but this is what I feel: it's the voters who are to blame for the current stagnation. - GWC
FOCUS: The Dysfunction at the Very Heart of American Politics:
By Michael A Cohen, Guardian UK
07 August 11
As the system grinds into catastrophic gridlock, disillusioned voters feel it has less and less to do with their lives.
"Why do voters put up with such a situation? Polling suggests that the electorate wants their leaders to focus on jobs, rather than the deficit; and work toward compromise, rather than gridlock. So why then do they reward political parties, such as the Republicans, that act decidedly against not only their preferences but also their interests?
The answer lies in the apathy of the American people toward their own government. The ultimate check on Republican nihilism would be voter revolt. But in the last congressional election, voters rewarded unprecedented Republican obstructionism with control of the House of Representatives."

Legal Ethics Forum: More lawsuits against law schools for allegedly inflating numbers

Legal Ethics Forum: More lawsuits against law schools for allegedly inflating numbers

Barack Obama and Harry Potter « The Baseline Scenario

Barack Obama and Harry Potter « The Baseline Scenario: "y by James Kwak

Helene Cooper of the New York Times wrote a “news analysis” story saying that the challenge for President Obama is this:

“Is he willing to try to administer the disagreeable medicine that could help the economy mend over the long term, even if that means damaging his chances for re-election?”

The problem, she goes on to say in the next paragraph, is that the economy is in bad shape:

“The Federal Reserve’s finding on Tuesday that there is little prospect for rapid economic growth over the next two years was the latest in a summer of bad economic news.”

Now ordinarily I wouldn’t pick on the Times for something like this: it is just a newspaper, after all. But this case is a good example of right-wing talking points leaking into the mainstream media and then becoming part of the conventional wisdom, which is something that should be cut off as soon as possible."

The Incredible Shrinking DOJ Honors Program « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and Courts

The Incredible Shrinking DOJ Honors Program « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and Courts

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What work is - Philip Levine to be poet laureate

"It's like winning the Pulitzer. If you take it too seriously, you're an idiot. But if you look at the names of the other poets who have won it, most of them are damn good." - Philip Levine
My three favorite poets are Seamus Heaney, W.B. Yeats (mandatory for a descendant of Irish immigrants) and Philip Levine.
Levine is to be the poet laureate of the United States.  Like Heaney whose voice is of the vanished world of an Ulster Catholic farmer, Levine speaks in the voice of his youth - the industrial working class of Detroit in the 1940's.  Here is my favorite.  A selection of poems by the Times is HERE.  A critic's appreciation is HERE.  - GWC

What Work Is

We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.

You know what work is — if you’re

old enough to read this you know what

work is, although you may not do it.

Forget you. This is about waiting,

shifting from one foot to another.

Feeling the light rain falling like mist

into your hair, blurring your vision

until you think you see your own brother

ahead of you, maybe ten places.

You rub your glasses with your fingers,

and of course it’s someone else’s brother,

narrower across the shoulders than

yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin

that does not hide the stubbornness,

the sad refusal to give in to rain,

to the hours wasted waiting,

to the knowledge that somewhere ahead

a man is waiting who will say, “No,

we’re not hiring today,” for any

reason he wants. You love your brother,

now suddenly you can hardly stand

the love flooding you for your brother,

who’s not beside you or behind or

ahead because he’s home trying to

sleep off a miserable night shift

at Cadillac so he can get up

before noon to study his German.

Works eight hours a night so he can sing

Wagner, the opera you hate most,

the worst music ever invented.

How long has it been since you told him

you loved him, held his wide shoulders,

opened your eyes wide and said those words,

and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never

done something so simple, so obvious,

not because you’re too young or too dumb,

not because you’re jealous or even mean

or incapable of crying in

the presence of another man, no,

just because you don’t know what work is.
— From “What Work Is,” by Philip Levine (Alfred A. Knopf, 1991).

10-Year Real Treasury Rate at Zero

Life - for the deficit hawks - is spent worrying about the risk that we'll go broke because of inflation - especially high interest rates.  What are they smoking? - GWC

10-Year Real Treasury Rate at Zero

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stop sticking our heads in the sand Time for action on jobs / Joe Gagnon

Joe Gagnon is a former senior economist for the Federal Reserve, among other points in a stunning CV.  Obama said at a town hall a couple of weeks ago that he had made two mistatkes: underestimated the recession and not taken strong enough action on housing.  We know that.  What can be done now without Congressional approval?  Quite a lot.  - GWC

by Joe Gagnon - Peterson Institute for International Economics
RealTime Economic Issues Watch: "I propose aggressive actions that can be taken by the Obama Administration and the Federal Reserve without a single vote in Congress. Indeed, to some extent, these are the same actions I proposed nearly two years ago but that were never adopted. The stakes are higher now because of the harmful consequences of allowing long-term unemployment to persist.

First and foremost, the Federal Reserve should announce an additional $2 trillion of asset purchases, including longer-term Treasury bonds, agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS), and foreign exchange. This is more than three times the size of the woefully underpowered quantitative easing of late last year (dubbed QE2) and it should be accompanied by a clear statement that more is forthcoming if the economy continues to underperform.
The goals are to push down bond yields and mortgage rates, to push down the value of the dollar in terms of foreign currencies, and to boost stock prices. All of these help households deleverage their balance sheets and encourage consumption, investment, and exports (which would become cheaper for foreign buyers as a result of the dollar’s depreciation). Businesses would need to hire more workers to meet the additional demand.
The Obama Administration can help in two important respects: First, the Administration should use its control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to force them to invite all homeowners whose mortgages are already guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie, and who are not delinquent in their mortgage payments, to refinance their current mortgage balance at the new low rates regardless of loan-to-value ratio."

Dr. Bernadine P. Healy, Influential Health Administrator, Dies at 67 -

The Women's Health Initiative  which Bernardine Healy initiated was a major 15-year research program to address the most common causes of death, disability and poor quality of life in postmenopausal women -- cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.  It transformed the understanding of the health risks of older women.  - GWC
Dr. Bernadine P. Healy, Influential Health Administrator, Dies at 67 -
"In a hybrid career in the largely male domains of medicine and government, Dr. Healy — a cardiologist and feminist — was a professor at Johns Hopkins University, dean of the Ohio State University medical school, a White House science adviser and president of the American Heart Association. She wrote scientific papers and magazine columns, and once ran for the United States Senate."
"She began the Women’s Health Initiative, a $625 million study of the causes, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and cancer in middle-aged and older women. Long after her tenure, it continued yielding important findings. In 2002, it found that prolonged combined estrogen and progestin hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women increased risks of breast cancer, stroke and heart attacks"

Enough, already - U.S. debt is the most secure investment

The Times reports
Wall Street stocks plummeted on Monday as skittish investors, already concerned about the economy, struggled to work out the implications of an unprecedented downgrade of the United States government’s credit rating, and sought safer places to put their money.
The "safer place" was... U.S. Treasury 10 year bonds!

So why did the interest rate paid by the downgraded U.S. to lenders  go DOWN not UP?  The stock market fell again today, by 6% pushing it into negative territory for the year.  Why didn't the Republican debt triumph restore confidence in the stock market?

Did the S&P downgrade lead investors to conclude that  U.S. debt is unreliable?  And therefore demand the feds pay higher interest to reflect the increased risk?   NO, because Treasury bonds are actually AAAA! as Obama said.  The U.S. paid less to borrow money today than it did before the debt deal.  And investors bought lots of it.  But you would never know that by following any of the headline news services.

interest rates on 10 year Treasury bonds
What actual investors fear is that the people are going broke - thanks to the government austerity policies that the elite and the deluded applaud as they vote Republican, Tory, Christian Democrat, Berlusconi, etc.
So what actually happened today is the stock market went down, so people bought secure debt: 10 year U.S. treasury notes at 2.4%.  Another group of ignorami (retirement advisers) used to tell us that we could expect an 8% return on our retirement savings.  Really?  10 year treasuries are a good deal - compared with giving Citibank $1 million.  Citi is paying .50%  That is one-half of one percent.

Clean House with new economic advisers - Brad DeLong

Brad DeLong reviews the opinions of key actors in the Obama administration's team two years ago.  The former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy  concludes that the only hopeful thing to do is clean house: put new (or returning) actors in key positions, like Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Federal Reserve Bank, etc.

With characteristic gusto he offers

If you were to ask me what thing--aside from the complete and immediate collapse of the Republican Party and the resignation of all of its legislators from both houses of the Congress: if the previous fifteen years had not taught me that Republican politicians have nothing useful to contribute to national governance the last three years would certainly have done so--would most give me confidence that America would surmount this current economic crisis, it would be personnel changes to put qualified people who saw the world as it was in the summer of 2009 into the key economic jobs:
  • Laura Tyson or someone like her to Treasury Secretary (recess-appointed, acting, whatever).
  • Larry Summers or someone like him to Fed Chair (recess-appointed, acting, whatever).
  • Alan Blinder or someone like him to CEA Chair (recess-appointed, acting, whatever)
  • Christy Romer or someone like her to Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.

xpostfactoid: A lover of fairy tales casts Obama as villain-in-chief

Andrew Sprung refutes David Westen's attack on Obama.
xpostfactoid: A lover of fairy tales casts Obama as villain-in-chief

Westen's false narrative

Obama can't tell a good story?  Hasn't told a good story? That's what Drew Westen - a psychologist - says in a big Times essay called What Happened to Obama?  I wish it were so simple.    Westen isn't even right about Obama's rhetoric.  HERE is his big debt and deficit speech defending Medicare, etc.   And Here's Jonathan Bernstein's take. - GWC

Everyone is talking about Drew Westen's mega-article in the New York Times yesterday, which takes Barack Obama to task for not being a good storyteller. As I'm sure regular readers will expect, I think it's bunk. I didn't want to deal with it over the weekend, however, and so others beat me to the main points, and made them better than I would. #1. Westen misunderstands the presidency, and even misunderstands the power of rhetoric within the presidency; John Sides explains. #2. Westen isn't even right about the basic facts; Andrew Sprung, who follows Obama's rhetoric more carefully than anyone else I know of, has no difficulty finding several examples of Obama saying exactly what Westen wants Obama to say. And a long time ago, Brendan Nyhan was excellent on Westen in general.

But if that's not enough, I'll add a bit....

ABA study urges NJ local ethics committees be abolished

According to An American Bar Association panel is recommending an overhaul of New Jersey's attorney disciplinary system, suggesting first and foremost that the functions now handled by the district ethics committees be assumed by the Office of Attorney Ethics.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has published the report and solicited comments by September 30, 2011.
In a report to the state Supreme Court, the ABA's Standing Committee on Professional Discipline said it "believes it is the best interests of the public and the discipline system for the Court to phase out [the district ethics committees'] use as investigators and prosecutors and amend its Rules accordingly to reflect national practice."
The current system places too heavy a burden on volunteers, relies on investigators who are not trained and leads to inconsistencies, the panel said.

NY State Bar: Law schools should make grads practice-ready

According to a report "The New York State Bar Association is urging the American Bar Association, which convened its annual meeting Thursday in Toronto, to evaluate the legal education protocol with an eye toward "enhancing clinical work and supervised activities such as meeting with clients inside and outside the clinical setting and in court, and developing capstone courses."
A draft resolution submitted to the ABA's House of Delegates calls on several of the ABA's constituent bodies -- the Center for Legal Education, the Center for Professional Responsibility, the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the Committee on CLE, the Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and the Committee on Law School Accreditation -- to "consider the requirements for the success of future lawyers as they carry out their responsibilities."
"Legal education should have more of an emphasis on making sure graduates are ready to practice law," State Bar President Vincent E. Doyle III of Connors & Vilardo in Buffalo said in an interview Wednesday. "It is something that has been de-emphasized, and it shows." 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

S&P: U.S. political system ineffective, rating lowered to AA+

Standard & Poor's Global Credit Portal

UPDATE:  S&P made gross errors, so they changed their analysis but not their conclusions.  Brad DeLong has produced a red-lined version of the report
Research Update:
United States of America Long-Term
Rating Lowered To 'AA+' On
Political Risks And Rising Debt
Burden; Outlook Negative

No longer the envy of the world, the U.S. political gridlock (for which the 82% of voters who disapprove of Congress are responsible) has led Standard & Poor's to lower its rating of U.S. sovereign debt.  Their political risk analysis is HERE.  A noteworthy passage is below. - GWC

"The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year's wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently. Republicans and Democrats have only been able to agree to relatively modest savings on discretionary spending while delegating to the Select Committee decisions on more comprehensive measures. It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options. In addition, the plan envisions only minor policy changes on Medicare and little change in other entitlements, the containment of which we and most other independent observers regard as key to long-term fiscal sustainability.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Calculated Risk: Un-Employment Data

Lots of data on the real crisis - jobs: 
Calculated Risk: More Employment

On Rules and Norms: Four Reasons to Regret This Moment - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

On Rules and Norms: Four Reasons to Regret This Moment - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic: ">>It's not the rules, it's the norms. That is, the GOP, led first by Gingrich and then by Bush Jr., blew through norms and broke taboos that had greased our democratic machinery for decades prior to the early 90s. These include, 'you shall not filibuster every pending bill or block every opposition appointment' as well as 'you shall not torture detainees or politicize Justice Department hiring.' On the other hand: with the old norms broken, we need some new rules to create new norms.<<" - David Frum, Republican commentator, columnist, bloger

Obama as Chess Master: 'Think of Him as Bobby Fischer' - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

Obama as Chess Master: 'Think of Him as Bobby Fischer' - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

American taxes far below average

The big lie, or maybe its not a lie, it's a self-delusion, on the political right is that we are being crushed by taxes.   Au contrair.  The effect of the conservative ideological dominance of the last 40 years is that we have less government than we had under Eisenhower.  Us sixties types still have rock n roll, but we're fighting to keep the gains of the 30's.  Great Society and War on Poverty bye-bye. - GWC  graph Toronto Globe & Mail h/t James Fallows

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Republic after Obama - Jim Sleeper

The Republic After Obama - Jim Sleeper's  grim take on the current circumstance and an assertion of the moral inadequacy of the Ivy league meritocracy which today is the Democratic alternative to the body-snatchers.  Compelling.  - GWC

Pelosi: Boehner Was Supposed To Have 218 Votes For Debt Limit Deal | TPMDC

Pelosi: Boehner Was Supposed To Have 218 Votes For Debt Limit Deal | TPMDC: "'The standard that was set by Simpson-Bowles...the Gang of Six -- everybody who has looked at this has said do not make those big cuts too soon, you will slow economic growth,' she said. 'I think that principle stands.'

I also think, though, that passing something and getting it over with and moving on was necessary and compared to default it is preferable because default would really lose a lot of jobs. That is my way of saying, I don't think this is the best path we could have taken. And especially I'm unhappy about the fact that this was developed with a premise that the Republicans would have the 218. Since they didn't we should've had more influence.
I was in all the meetings, I'm not saying that isn't the case. But if we had days, instead of backed up to hours, we could have said 'you don't have the votes, let's go back in and how do we move this way in order to cut some of those cuts and have a better bill and get the votes.' So I think we could've done better. I think they were successful at just prolonging it to the last minute so that we didn't have that option and it was default or no default."

Obama, Congressional Democrats Winning Public Opinion Race To The Bottom Against GOP | ThinkProgress

Doesn't look too bad but as Matt Yglesias points out Obama is not running against Boehner & McConnell but against Romney/Perry. - GWC
Obama, Congressional Democrats Winning Public Opinion Race To The Bottom Against GOP | ThinkProgress

Is Obama Toast?

Is Obama Toast?:
by Adam Serwer at American
"It’s a simple story. Americans don’t have jobs, so they’re not buying stuff. Because they’re not buying stuff, companies aren’t hiring. Unemployment remains above 9 percent. The recession was worse than economists thought, which means that the 2009 stimulus bill wasn’t enough to jump-start the economy. Not only is Congress not doing anything to solve the jobs crisis; Republicans—with little resistance from the president—are actively pursuing a contractionary fiscal policy that is weakening a sluggish recovery. If economic prospects remain bleak, come November 2012, President Obama may learn what it feels like to be unemployed"

The Deal: White House graphic

Myths and Facts: White House Blog

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gov. Christie bluntly defends his nomination of Judge Sohail Mohammed

The blunt-spoken Governor of New Jersey Christopher Christie, whose politics and style made him a Tea Party hero, is the former United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey.  In this video he delivers an impressive defense of Sohail Mohammed as a Judge of the Superior Court, who rose to prominence as a key voice of New Jersey's Muslim community.  
Post 9/11 Mohammed was a bridge builder between law enforcement and the substantial Muslim community in Passaic County, New Jersey, says Christie.  He is a Muslim American lawyer who represented people who post 9/11 were "inappropriately detained by the FBI" is evidence of his upholding his oath as an attorney to uphold the laws and constitution of New Jersey and the United States of America.  He has now been sworn in as a judge.  Christie spoke at the ceremony. - GWC

A Few Thoughts on the Debt Ceiling Deal « The Baseline Scenario

A Few Thoughts on the Debt Ceiling Deal « The Baseline Scenario:
by James Kwak
"1. Obama still has his hostage—if he wants it. As far as I can tell, the Bush tax cuts are nowhere in the debt ceiling agreement, which means that at current course and speed they expire at the end of 2012. Extending the tax cuts would reduce revenue by about $3.5 trillion over the next decade. According to news reports, Obama was willing to extend the Bush tax cuts in exchange for $800-1,200 billion of additional tax revenue—in other words, he was willing to cut taxes by about $2.5 trillion relative to current law. Boehner and Cantor walked out because of some combination of (a) they couldn’t get their members to vote for that tax “increase” or (b) they think they will be able to extend all the tax cuts if they negotiate that deal separately. I wouldn’t be so sure about (b). Remember, gridlock means the tax cuts expire."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Professional Responsibility: Revisions to the rules proposed in California

Professional Responsibility: Revisions to the rules proposed in California:
"The California State Bar Association has submitted to the Supreme Court 67 proposed new Rules of Professional Conduct. California is currently the only state whose professional conduct rules are not adapted from the ABA Model Rules, and the new proposals suggest a reorganization and renumbering to align California rules with the Model Rules. The new rules can not take effect unless they are approved by the Supreme Court. Some of the proposals have been submitted to the court; others will be submitted in the future. The full text of the proposal is available here."

The debt ceiling deal: What should we have expected? — The Monkey Cage

My sentiments, exactly. - GWC
The debt ceiling deal: What should we have expected? — The Monkey Cage:
by James Fearon (Stanford)
"So I don’t know, maybe Obama is bad at legislative poker, but I’d like to know more about how the argument works. Seems to me that he has very little bargaining power to begin with in a legislative situation like this one. And this is not so much because the economy is terrible and his favorability ratings are low, but because the U.S. Constitution has it that Congress organizes its own procedures and makes the laws, basically."

A plain blog about politics: How To Run Against the Ryan Budget After a Grand Bargain

A plain blog about politics: How To Run Against the Ryan Budget After a Grand Bargain:
by Jonathan Bernstein

"Case #1: If you are running for Congress against a Republican incumbent. You say: my opponent voted for the Ryan budget that would destroy Medicare.

Case #2: If you are an incumbent Democrat who voted for the grand bargain. You say: my opponent supported the Ryan budget that would destroy Medicare.

Case #3: If you are Barack Obama. You say: my opponent supported the Ryan budget that would have destroyed Medicare."

Let's Look on the Brighter Side! More on Chess Master v. Pawn - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

Readers challenge Fallows' dismal view of the debt deal. - GWC
Let's Look on the Brighter Side! More on Chess Master v. Pawn - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic: "Respectfully, I disagree. When one looks at the immediate impact of the debt ceiling agreement, it appears that the GOP got roughly $25 bil in immediate cuts in exchange for a $2 Trillion extension of the debt ceiling through the next election. Everything else, the $2.4,975 trillion remainder of their 'victory' will have to take place after 2012 AND it will have to include, in principle, equal cuts from the Defense budget for every dime of Discretionary cuts, while leaving out SS and Medicare. In between, we can have an election and the GOP will have to run on continuing the Bush tax cuts which, when they run out under a Democratically controlled Congress (ie: Senate vetoing House belligerence) will add $4 Trillion over ten years in increased revenue.

Seriously, the Ryan Plan, for which they all voted, plus permanent Bush Tax levels, to which they have all pledged, are going to be a hard case to make when the reverse is Clinton period taxes (ie: fairness and a strong economy), Clinton period wars (ie: none) and preservation of SS and Medicare AND Obamacare, all of which are solvent (except for Obamacare, which SAVES money)."

Monday, August 1, 2011

A plain blog about politics: Worst Argument Ever

Jonathan Bernstein takes down Robert Reich's hysteria. - GWC
A plain blog about politics: Worst Argument Ever:
"Robert Reich tweets:
Ds can no longer campaign on R's desire to Medicare and Soc Security, now that O has agreed it
Just utter foolishness. I've already written a How To post on running against the Ryan budget after the grand bargain, so let's try another way of thinking about it:"

The Four Big Problems With -- And Four Silver Linings Around -- The Debt Limit Deal | TPMDC

The Four Big Problems With -- And Four Silver Linings Around -- The Debt Limit Deal | TPMDC: "Progressives are furious. Conservatives are somewhat less furious. And for the most part all anybody knows about the budget plan is that it cuts a lot of spending over 10 years, and includes no guarantees that anybody -- particularly the well-off -- will pay more in taxes. Thus, the anger: after huge tax cuts for the rich, two unfunded wars, and a financial crisis triggered by Wall Street greed exploded budget deficits, the people asked to narrow the gap are overwhelmingly regular folks.

All of this while the economy is still reeling. It might not be as bad as this, but there's certainly a lot missing here.

So with that background in mind, here are the four worst problems with, and four silver linings around the debt limit deal."

IoM: FDA's 510(k) broken; should be replaced |

After the Vioxx debacle the Institute of Medicine reported in The future of Drug Safety that the FDA was a demoralized, scientifically inadequate, underfunded agency statutorily obligated to grant quick drug approvals. It had almost no ability to effectively monitor the actual performance of drugs once they were in actual use. The entire "life cycle" of the drug needed to be regulated, the IOM concluded. Congress enacted modest reforms. Prompted by many device failures similar conclusions have been reached for the FDA's 510(k) process which is a quick once-over for new medical devices.
IoM: FDA's 510(k) broken; should be replaced |
"Washington, DC (updated) - The FDA's 510(k) process for clearing putatively moderate-risk devices has been criticized by some for being too lax and by others for obstructing innovation. Now, a long-awaited report from the Institute of Medicine (IoM) of the National Academies of Science concludes that the 510(k) process can't merely be repaired but ought to be scrapped and replaced by a more reliable system [1].

The FDA needs to replace the current regulatory framework for class II devices 'so that the current 510(k) process, in which the standard for clearance is substantial equivalence to previously cleared devices, can be replaced with an integrated premarket and postmarket regulatory framework that effectively provides a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness throughout the device life cycle,' the IoM committee recommends in its report, released today at the National Academies of Science headquarters in Washington, DC."

To Escape Chaos, a Terrible Debt Deal -

To Escape Chaos, a Terrible Debt Deal - "President Obama could have been more adamant in dealing with Republicans, perhaps threatening to use constitutional powers to ignore the debt ceiling if Congress abrogated its responsibility to raise it. But this episode demonstrates the effectiveness of extortion. Reasonable people are forced to give in to those willing to endanger the national interest.

Democrats can look forward to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts next year, and will have to make the case in the 2012 elections for new lawmakers who will undo the damage."

Enik Rising: "Just fix it"

Enik Rising: "Just fix it": "Alyssa Milano, via Twitter:
Hey, Republicans AND Democrats. Liberals, moderates AND conservatives. All of you. Stop the bullshit and just fix it.
Here's why we can't 'just fix it.' There are different ways of fixing it. You could raise taxes. You could cut spending. If you want to raise taxes, you could do it on upper income Americans, or on lower income Americans, or some combination. If you want to cut spending, you could cut the military, social programs, or some combination. There is no one way to fix it. And it turns out that people who want to fix things a certain way tend to group together in parties and elect people to Congress who agree with them. So Congress is filled with people who feel very strongly about doing things a certain way, and others feel very strongly about doing it another way, and their careers depend on them making good on their commitments to the people who elected them. That makes it very hard to quickly reach an agreement. This is the essence of democratic representation. Dictators could fix things much more quickly, but there's no guarantee they'd do it better. Most likely, they'd do it worse.

I don't mean to pick on Alyssa Milano -- she's from my home town, after all -- but she's uttering a commonly held sentiment that needs, in my opinion, to be addressed."