Monday, October 31, 2011

Nice hat

Herman Cain will never get my vote for president, but I'll go with him on fashion.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Our Unpaid, Extra Shadow Work - NYTimes.com

We have to do so much work ourselves - pump gas, prepare invoices for retailers, enter data for the bank, etc. - GWC
Our Unpaid, Extra Shadow Work - NYTimes.com:
by Craig Lambert
"THE other night at the supermarket I saw a partner at a downtown law firm working as a grocery checker, scanning bar codes. I’m sure she earns at least $300,000 per year. Even so, she was scanning and bagging her purchases in the self-service checkout line. For those with small orders, this might save time spent waiting in slower lines. Nonetheless, she was performing the unskilled, entry-level jobs of supermarket checker and bagger free of charge"

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Friday, October 28, 2011

In Ticket-Fixing Scandal, 16 Officers to Be Charged - NYTimes.com

Only Daily News and Post writers call them "New York's finest".
The truth is it's a pretty miserable job with not so hot pay and most of the recruits have been on a waiting list so long that only those who haven't gotten a decent job or finished school join up when they finally get the call. 
Some things never go out of style. - GWC
In Ticket-Fixing Scandal, 16 Officers to Be Charged - NYTimes.com: "The charges against 16 police officers who will be arraigned on Friday afternoon as a result of a long-running grand jury investigation into the fixing of tickets for colleagues, family members and friends portray it as a highly organized systematic practice citywide, according to one person with knowledge of the case."

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Who Burned the GOP brand? | FrumForum

Whose idea was it to raise the rallying cry that the poor pay too little taxes - and that the rich should pay less?
Is there a Democratic mole deep inside the GOP?never Who Burned the GOP brand?


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Unsurprising surprise: Little Upward Mobility in U.S.A. /TPM

click to enlarge chart
You know that there is little upward mobility here in America. Mostly the well-educated middle class produces high-scoring kids who get into good colleges (like ours). Others don't. Of course if the government paid students to go to college we would expect more mobility. That's what social democracy produces. - GWC
CHART OF THE DAY: Paul Ryan Wrong About Upwardly Mobile America | TPMDC:

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gimmicky Old Party | Commonweal magazine

Rick Perry's flat tax proposal will probably flatline like Steve Forbes plan did.  But E.J. Dionne sees it as a symptom of the Republican Party's loss of the boldness that brought us the interstate highway system. - GWC
Gimmicky Old Party | Commonweal magazine:
by E.J. Dionne
"It's one of the strangest things in our politics: The only "big" ideas Republicans and conservatives seem to offer these days revolve around novel and sometimes bizarre ways of cutting taxes on rich people. Given all the attention that Herman Cain's nonsensical and regressive 9-9-9 tax plan has received, the Republican debates should have as their soundtrack that old Beatles song that droned on about the number nine.

Now, Texas Gov. Rick Perry hopes to pump up his campaign with a supposedly bold proposal to institute a flat tax, which would also deliver more money to the well-off. Perry plans to outline his proposal this week, but has already touted it as a surefire way of "scrapping the 3 million words of the current tax code.""

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The fraud of Newt - War Room - Salon.com

The red-spotted newt is a small amphibian that is found from South Ontario to Novia Scotia and south through east Texas and Florida. They live in weedy lake shallows, ponds, backwaters of slow moving streams and swamps. Their life span is up to 20 years.
The fraud of Newt - War Room - Salon.com:
by Jonathan Bernstein
"The truth is that Newt Gingrich –- who is never, ever, ever going to be president of the United States, and will almost certainly never again be allowed to have any real responsibility greater than hawking his endless output of books and movies –- nevertheless fills a real need for Republicans. If Newt didn’t exist, they’d have to invent him. And the reason tells us something important about the Republican Party.

The thing is that the Republican Party just doesn’t care very much about entire realms of public policy. Oh, they care about taxes a lot, and many Republicans care about foreign policy quite a bit, although the current crop of candidates is mostly happy to duck national security issues. But does any current Republican have a transportation policy? An environmental policy? A policy on obesity? Not that I’m aware of."

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The 1% after tax income explosion: CBO

According to this report in Talking Points Memo Congressional Budget Office (CB)) data shows that the income of the top 1% nearly tripled in the last 30 years - far greater than any other group. - GWC

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gov. Christie shows contempt for courts - NJ Law Journal

New Jersey's combustible Governor Christopher Christie has exploded again.  The new target is the state's entire judiciary whom he lambasts as a "cliquey group of 432" who receive "lavish salaries" [of $165,000] and have gotten "one of their own" - Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg  to protect their privileges.

Feinberg last week declared  unconstitutional the new legislation sharply increasing judges' share of pension and health benefit contributions.  The state's constitution bars any legislation which would "diminish" the "salary" of a judge.  Mercer County - where the state's Trenton capital is located - is the venue for such actions against the state government.  Although a handful of judges were appointed after the law took effect in July none of them has tenure, so Feinberg herself assumed the task, provoking Christie's ire.

Christie's immediate and ad hominem attack on Feinberg drew sharp rebukes from the State Bar Association and the New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board.   The Board declared:

Gov. Chris Christie's most recent attack on the judiciary is even more troubling than his past ones, not just because it was a conscious effort to intimidate a co-equal branch of government, but because it was laced with distorted demagoguery. The governor knows better.
The governor went after Mercer County Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg with a vengeance for her decision that the recent changes requiring judges to contribute more to their health and pension benefits along with all other state employees violated the state constitution's prohibition against reductions in judicial salary during their term of appointment. The decision is subject to debate and we understand why many people who are doing much less well these days might resent the protection the constitution gives to judges. But there is no justification for the governor's attack on the personal integrity of Judge Feinberg and the judiciary as a whole.
Judge Feinberg's detailed and thorough analysis in a 59-page opinion turned in large measure on whether the use of the term "salary" in the subject constitutional provision rather than the arguably broader terms "compensation" or "emoluments" was intended to narrow the scope of the prohibition so that it only applied to an actual reduction in salary and not to an effective reduction in salary caused by a mandated increase in benefits contributions. As she detailed, the evidence of the intent of the drafters of the state constitution that the term "salary" be broadly interpreted and the legislative history evidencing the longstanding understanding of the Legislature that the constitution was intended to protect judicial "salaries" as synonymous with "compensation" is overwhelming.
Nevertheless, one could make a good argument that increased contributions to benefits do not constitute "salary" as set forth in the constitutional provision and that this decision should have been decided the other way. Either the Appellate Division or the Supreme Court will decide that soon enough.
But the governor couldn't wait. His press conference the day after the decision represented all that is wrong with politics today — a personal attack on the entire judiciary laced with an appeal to mob resentment. Among his statements:
• Judge Feinberg's decision came as a result of extraordinary hubris and self-interest; it was not only legally, but morally indefensible.
• "I'm not going to stand idly by and let a self-interested judge, standing up for a group of her self-interested colleagues, destroy the work we did on a nonpartisan basis [for pension reform]."
• "New Jerseyans should have a say in whether or not judges should be treated like everyone else, or whether they should be treated as Judge Feinberg wants them to be, as a special class of private citizens who don't have to pay their fair share for their lavish salary and the extraordinary benefits they receive while in office or when they leave office."
• "To show how elitist they are," she refused to allow other public employees challenging the suit to join it, "but her friends, the judges, the people she goes to dinners with, the people who vote on giving each other awards, the little cliquey club of 432, they are the only ones who can receive these extraordinary benefits."
***
"Judge Feinberg, in order to put more money in her pocket and the pocket of her cronies, has decided that the pension system being broken is fine by her, as long as she gets hers, and her colleagues get theirs."
***
Even if Judge Feinberg was wrong on the law, the governor was even more misguided in his approach. Judge Feinberg can be reversed. Gov. Christie's tirades have done their damage. They are an effort to use class resentment to diminish respect for the judiciary and make it subservient to the political branches of government.
The Editorial Board commended State Bar Association President Susan Feeney, who had  called Christie's comments 
"an attempt to intimidate the courts and unduly influence the judicial process." Describing the judiciary as "elitist," and as a "little cliquey club of 432," and accusing Judge Feinberg of a self-interest worthy of impeachment is singularly inappropriate for a governor, especially for one who is lawyer and who knows the process perfectly well. As a lawyer, he has an obligation not to impugn the integrity of the courts.
The governor's defense is that he has a First Amendment right to speak out. Not everything that the law allows to be said is right. As chief executive, the governor has a moral duty to defend the rule of law, which is the power of an independent judiciary to determine what the political branches of the government may and may not do under the constitution that the governor has sworn to defend.
Ironically, as observed by Judge Feinberg, the very purpose of the constitutional prohibition on judicial salary reduction was to retain a strong and independent judiciary by protecting it against political retaliation. ***
The Board concluded
Judge Feinberg was doing nothing more than carrying out her responsibilities. She was interpreting the law. Gov. Christie, on the other hand, has again demonstrated a total disregard for separation of powers and a disdain for the notion of a strong, independent judiciary. These personal attacks and intimidation tactics diminish the office of governor, reinforce the wisdom of those who drafted our constitution, and require all of us to strenuously defend the independence of our judiciary.

Obama: Ending the War in Iraq

All American troops will be home for Christmas!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The incentives for GOP Obstructionism


Why Republicans's unprecedented (YES - unprecedented reliance on the filibuster as a routine veto over all Senate business) works. Relentless obstructionism makes Obama look weak, which helps the Party of No. Oy vey! - GWC h/t James Fallows
Political Animal - The incentive behind GOP obstructionism:
by Steve Benen
Washington Monthly
"“If Romney and Obama were going head to head at this point in time I would probably move to Romney,” said Dale Bartholomew, 58, a manufacturing equipment salesman from Marengo, Ill. Bartholomew said he agrees with Obama’s proposed economic remedies and said partisan divisions have blocked the president’s initiatives.

But, he added: “His inability to rally the political forces, if you will, to accomplish his goal is what disappoints me.”

Got that? This private citizen agrees with Obama, but is inclined to vote for Romney anyway — even though Romney would move the country in the other direction — because the president hasn’t been able to “rally the political forces” to act sensibly in Washington.

That is heartbreaking, but it’s important — Republicans have an incentive, not only to hold the country back on purpose, but also to block every good idea, even the ones they agree with, because they assume voters will end up blaming the president in the end. And here’s a quote from a guy who makes it seem as if the GOP’s assumptions are correct."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Christie's constitutional amendment on judges' pay gets no support from Senate and Assembly leaders | NJ.com

Christie's constitutional amendment on judges' pay gets no support from Senate and Assembly leaders | NJ.com: "Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver have no plans to post a constitutional amendment ensuring judges are subject to increases in pension and benefit payments proposed by Gov. Chris Christie."

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Conservatives Embrace Judicial Activism - - NYTimes.com

Engagement not abdication! is the new conservative battle cry as they urge judges to strike down the Affordable Care Act, and limit Obama administration regulatory initiatives - like compelling insurers to offer birth control services. - GWC
Actively Engaged - NYTimes.com
by Linda Greenhouse
"Change is too mild a word for the remarkable inside-out transformation that is now underway. Conservatives are lining up not to denounce judicial activism, but to embrace it – in fact, to demand it of judges whose duty is to “fully enforce the limits our Constitution places on the government’s exercise of power over our lives.” The obsession on the right with wiping the new health care law off the books has nothing to do with it, I’m sure. But what a difference a year or two makes."

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America - Brookings Institution

The answer is...losing ground compared to American historical patterns and social democratic Denmark! - GWC
Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America - Brookings Institution: "Americans have long believed that those who work hard can achieve success and that each generation will be better off than the last one. This belief has made Americans more tolerant of growing inequality than the citizens of other advanced nations. But how much opportunity to get ahead actually exists in America? In this new volume, Brookings scholars Julia Isaacs, Isabel Sawhill and Ron Haskins summarize research and provide new evidence on both the extent of intergenerational mobility in the United States and the factors that influence it."

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The American Dream moves to Denmark - The Week

One gets so used to Republican candidates reciting the "greatest country on earth" catechism that it is shocking when one of their presidential candidates actually acknowledges that another country - especially a Scandinavian country - affords more opportunity than does ours. - GWC
The American Dream moves to Denmark - The Week:
by David Frum
"Rick Santorum is not exactly an odds-on favorite in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. And perhaps that's why it was Santorum who felt free to articulate an important truth in the GOP candidates' debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday night.

"Believe it or not, studies have been done that show that in Western Europe, people at the lower parts of the income scale actually have a better mobility going up the ladder now than in America. ""

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NJ Governor Christie Again Clashes with Bar and Judiciary Over Ruling Voiding Increased Pension and Health Care Contributions by Judges


Gov. Chris Christie - NJ Star Ledger

New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie has again clashed with the judiciary - and the New Jersey State Bar Association has again risen to the defense of the judges.  


Sliding scale increases in contributions to health care benefits and pensions which fall particularly hard on judges were passed by the New Jersey Legislature.  Superior Court judge Paul Depascale challenged the new statute, citing Article VI of the state constitution which provides that “The Justices of the Supreme Court and the Judges of the Superior Court shall receive for their services such salaries as may be provided by law, which shall not be diminished during the term of their appointment. They shall not, while in office, engage in the practice of law or other gainful pursuit.”  Mercer County Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg ruled  that the statute impermissibly “diminished” judicial compensation.  Like all but the handful of judges appointed after the statute was passed Feinberg is herself burdened by the change in contributions.  (Quaere: Should she - as Assignment Judge have assigned the case to such an untenured judge?)


Christie immediately reacted angrily and at length against "the little cliquey club of 432 judges", saying "This outrageous, self-serving decision, where a judge is protecting her own pocketbook and those of her colleagues, is why the public has grown to have such little faith in the objectivity of the judiciary...This is a blatant attempt to exact for themselves special treatment because they have the power to do so". The state would appeal, he said.  Video HERE


But overnight the thin-skinned Christie stewed and his position grew more extreme.  Instead of trusting to appeals he would press the Legislature to submit a constitutional amendment to the voters.  "Salary means salary — not pension, not health benefits, and not other emoluments of office...We are not going to leave this decision in the hands of a self-interested judiciary, but if necessary will put it in the hands of the people who ultimately pay these bills.”


In a statement by its President Susan A. Feeney - a partner in the state’s largest law firm McCarter & English - the State Bar said:
Gov. Chris Christie's comments today are yet another attempt to intimidate the courts and unduly influence the judicial process. Further, his personal criticism of Mercer County Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg is unwarranted and irresponsible.
Judge Feinberg has a sterling record for integrity as one of the most respected members of the New Jersey bench, as well as a long, distinguished career as a public official. While the Governor would have the public believe she made an arbitrary, self-interested decision,  that is not the case. Her opinion in favor of Judge DePascale is based on a comprehensive legal analysis of the issues raised by both parties in the case. Judge Feinberg did exactly what a judge is supposed to do: she applied the law – without concern for political retribution or the “pocketbook” interests of herself and her colleagues.
The Governor’s continued attack on the Judiciary denigrates the separation of powers and the independence of the Judiciary as a separate branch of government. It is a blatant attempt to mislead the public and influence the judicial process and Supreme Court. As a lawyer, he should know better. 
The New Jersey State Bar Association first clashed with the Governor in 2010 when he refused to support tenure for a Supreme Court justice John Wallace who Christie called too liberal, despite the long-serving judge’s reputation as a moderate while serving as a trial, then appellate judge before his seven year term on the Supreme Court of New Jersey.  The Democratic President of the Senate has refused to allow a vote on a successor until Wallace’s 70th birthday next year - on which date he would have been compelled to retire under state law.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

If You Had Watched Tonight's GOP Debate - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

Why are these people so angry? (Except Romney)
How can it be that government is terrible and the military budget is sacrosanct?
If You Had Watched Tonight's GOP Debate - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic:
- Romney is good at this.

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Cain's regressive tax plan

It's time to bury the Herman Cain candidacy.  He has shown himself to be a cheap immigrant-baiting demagogue, and a huckster with a phony tax plan he calls 9-9-9.  The Tax Policy Center demonstrates its regressiveness here.  Matthew Yglesias converts the data to acessible charts below. (click on graphs to expand)



Monday, October 17, 2011

Herman Cain - Unfit for Public Office

Currently surging in the polls of Republican voters, Herman Cain shows he is unfit for public office anywhere - but particularly in a nation which claims to be tolerant.  He is barely fit for the bar room - as this chauvinistic anti-Mexican electrified fence rant proves.  It is appalling that his competitors don't renounce him as unfit for the office he seeks.

Some Dare Call it Treason: Goldman Sachs Calls on Fed to Act Aggressively

Lloyd Blankfein - Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs forecast October 17, 2011
"Under our forecast of high (and gradually rising) unemployment coupled with renewed disinflation, further monetary policy easing would be appropriate."

It was Rick Perry who in his bumbling manner suggested that the Federal Reserve Bank's policies were treasonous - weakening the dollar is the literalist's idea of betrayal.  But Goldman Sachs - the most successful investment bank - sees depression clouds on the horizon - rising unemployment, with high rates becoming "structural".  They call on the Fed to be aggressive and to remember both its full employment and its low inflation mandate.  This is anathema in the Tea Party Congress.  Hopefully Ben Bernanke has the political skills to get his Open Market Committee to overcome their biases and act effectively, committing to low interest rates until unemployment gets down to 7%, and pumping a lot of money into the system.  For their wonks only analysis click on the hypertext above. - GWC


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Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum : cert granted

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed today to review Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. In this case arising from alleged collusion between the Nigerian military and Shell Oil the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that corporations are immune under the Alien Tort Claims Act for human rights violations. For earlier commentary see this and this. - GWC

Issue: (1) Whether the issue of corporate civil tort liability under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, is a merits question or instead an issue of subject matter jurisdiction; and (2) whether corporations are immune from tort liability for violations of the law of nations such as torture, extrajudicial executions or genocide may instead be sued in the same manner as any other private party defendant under the ATS for such egregious violations.
Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum : SCOTUSblog:

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Liberal media: There They Go Again

How do conservatives continue to claim with a straight face that they are victims of - in Sara's phrase - the "lamestream media"?




Sunday, October 16, 2011

Joe Conason: The Tax Hikes That Republicans Love - Truthdig

Herman Cain's regressive 9-9-9 plan would
eliminate the earned income credit, tax every dollar even the lowest income
workers earn, and cap it off with capital gains tax of 9% and  a 9% national sales tax!
It is the principle of the graduated income tax that today's Republican Party activists reject.  Their voters respond to the politics of suburban resentment of which New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is an apostle and master practitioner.  Joe Conason explains how it works.
As the Republican campaign develops - in the face of President Obama's American Jobs Act - it is increasingly clear that the politics of resentment drives the opposition.  Don't tax me to give them jobs! I am overtaxed to pay for them - and "they" are undertaxed!  So Herman Cain's `9-9-9' plan surges in popularity.  
No measurable group of voters really wants a 9% national sales tax.  But they do like the flat 9% income tax: because it will increase the tax burden on low income earners and lower it even further on high income earners.  I certainly would like to keep another $20,000 on the first $100k we earn.   And the second!   And if our savings ever again show any actual capital gain, we would be happy to pay only 9% capital gains tax.  But personal advantage is not what should drive tax policy.
 - GWC
Joe Conason: The Tax Hikes That Republicans Love - Truthdig:
"Republican politicians increasingly reject the earned income credit as an immoral form of “welfare,” because its provisions have helped to ensure that roughly 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax, with the poorest receiving a modest rebate, instead. That statistic has been distorted all too often into the false assertion, usually uttered on Fox News Channel or right-wing talk radio, that the poorer half of the nation’s population “pays no taxes.”

Of course the working poor pay lots of taxes. In fact, they tend to pay more as a share of their income than the very rich, plenty of whom do not work at all. The poor pay state and local income tax as well as sales taxes, gas taxes and utility taxes, but above all they pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on the very first dollar of income they earn (and on every dollar up to the $106,000 ceiling that shelters the income of higher earners). To suggest that the working poor receive government benefits without paying anything is a brazen lie."


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We Are the 99 Percent

What I wonder about is what happens to my students - the ones who don't get $160k/year to start biglaw jobs, who don't get government or non-profit jobs - because of the flat economy and government belt-tightening, and whose parents did not pick up the $150k plus cost of going to Fordham Law School.  Are they the 99%? - GWC
We Are the 99 Percent: "We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent. "

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Hillary Clinton on Economic Statecraft

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday October 14 - in a speech  emphasizing "economic statecraft" - made the obvious but too little noted point that it is economic - rather than military - statecraft that must be our current focus.  China's military power is confined to its territory - but its economic power is worldwide.   Yet as the budget deficit joint committee deadline approaches we can expect much hysteria about not touching the defense budget, with bleating about the 1% we spend on foreign aid.

And, Clinton emphasized, the obstructionism practiced by Republicans in Congress (though she was polite enough to omit names) has serious consequences.

We have to recognize every decision we make now in this totally 24/7 interconnected world is followed around the world. A lot of people don’t understand our system very well, but when they see that we can’t make decisions on something as fundamental as to whether the United States of America will default on our debt, you’ve got to know it raises questions in their minds about where we’re headed as a nation
Washington has to end the culture of political brinksmanship, which, I can tell you, raises questions around the world about our leadership. When I was in Hong Kong, I was just barraged by questions about what I thought would be the outcome of the debt ceiling negotiations. And having been around Washington now for longer than I care to admit, I was able to assure all of the business leaders and government leaders that we would get to a solution probably at the very end....
h/t Leslie Gelb/The Daily Beast

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sens. Boxer, Coburn Demand Dep't of Education Investigation of Law Schools

This should produce some interesting data.  Rutgers Law school cost me $500 for my first year (1970-1971).  I got a full scholarship the second year.  The third year tuition went up but I kept the $500 scholarship.  Law School cost me 1,000.  I had the cash on hand when I started in 1970.  Today law school tuition loans are your first (non-dischargable) mortgage.  And the only collateral is a law degree.   Thanks to recent reforms public service work can  gain you loan forgiveness.  But what about those who don't become P.D.'s or A.D.A.'s and don't get the plum Wall Street jobs.  Will they end up in sleeping bags at Zuccotti Park? - GWC
TaxProf Blog: Sens. Boxer, Coburn Demand Dep't of Education Investigation of Law Schools: " Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Ca) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) yesterday "asked the Department of Education’s Inspector General to provide information about key law school job placement, bar passage and loan debt metrics in light of serious concerns that have been raised about the accuracy and transparency of information being provided to prospective law school students." From the letter:
To help better inform Congress as it prepares to reform the Higher Education Act, we write to request an examination of American law schools that focuses on the confluence of growing enrollments, steadily increasing tuition rates and allegedly sluggish job placement. "

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Republican Endorsements? Romney Leads But The Party Has Not Decided

Data - facts, so rare in the blogosphere and cable TV. Mark Blumenthal (Huff Post) has them. He demonstrates the extent of the standoffishness seen by Republican party leaders in the pre-primary presidential race.

Of course we all know it's Mitt Romney or Rick Perry. (I predicted Romney with confidence a couple of months back.) So why aren't the party's big elected names jumping on one bandwagon or the other? They've got time, I guess, but why not choose a horse now when it might count for something?
Surely they know that Herman Cain - the flavor of the week - isn't going to be their candidate. Must be that he's a Tea Party favorite, so no gain in going after him. Michele Bachmann - the eyes have it. Newt - he's history. Santorum - not a prayer. Jon Huntsman - punished for rationality.

They'll jump on board - after they are sure they are making a safe choice. Maybe after a couple of debate implosions by Rick Perry, or Herman Cain's pizza to get overcooked, or Michelle Bachmann's brain to completely fry.
My guess is they want to appease - for lack of a better term- Rush Limbaugh. They've got time. They'll get on board as the train leaves the station.
Republican Endorsements? Romney Leads But The Party Has Not Decided:
by Mark Blumenthal
"...an analysis by the Huffington Post shows that the current rate of endorsements for all candidates, Romney included, remains behind the pace of the last five contested Republican nominations. Christie's nomination may serve as an important signal to Republican insiders, but by the yardstick of modern campaigns, the Republican party establishment is far from a consensus. Many of the major officeholders that traditionally endorse a presidential candidate are still on the sidelines."

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Labor Rights, Under Republican Attack - NYTimes.com

Monument commemorating the great Flint sit-down strike
My grandfather called the Wagner Act "the working man's bill of rights".    The National Labor Relations Act protects the right to unionize and act collectively.  Businesses are free to do what they want - but if a union is recognized they cannot act in retaliation for collective action.  In other words - the business judgment rule does not permit an illegally motivated act.  It is that fundamental principle which is at stake in the Boeing case.  Three law professors (one is Fordham's James Brudney) explain what is at stake. - GWC
Labor Rights, Under Republican Attack - NYTimes.com: "In the past month, the National Labor Relations Board has come under furious attack from Republicans in Congress, and decades-old workers’ rights are at risk. Backed by a well-financed lobbying and publicity offensive, Republicans are using a recent labor-law complaint against Boeing to achieve a radical goal that goes far beyond the legal issues in the case: unraveling workers’ rights that have been part of the fabric of our social contract since the Great Depression."

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These Are The 47 Percent | TPMDC

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
The Republican lament of the moment is that some people don't pay enough (or any) taxes! Odd. I thought we were staggering under the tax burden! It turns out that the wrong people are paying taxes: those with money. Odder still. Of course everyone pays taxes - if they buy gas, have a state income tax, live on land subject to property tax, use a telephone, etc. But NOT everyone pays federal income taxes. Some have little or no income. Or they depend on Social Security disability or retirement benefits, etc. So the current Republican rallying cry is that the poor should pay more so that the affluent don't have to. - GWC
CHART OF THE DAY: These Are The 47 Percent | TPMDC: by Brian Beutler
"What's really going on here is that about 47 percent of households paid no federal income tax in 2009. Either they owed nothing, or they got as much back from the federal government as they paid -- or more.

This ignores payroll taxes, state and local taxes, gas taxes, excise taxes and much more. But to hear conservatives talk about it, you'd think these people's entire tax burden was $0.00. In April, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), citing similar data, claimed "According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, 49 percent of households are paying 100 percent of taxes coming in to the federal government." Notice the absence of the key qualifier, "income." And Grassley's far from alone.

As Benjy Sarlin explained at length the Republican answer to this problem, remarkably, is that Congress should raise these people's taxes."

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Chronicles of False Equivalence, Chapter 2,817 - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

Chronicles of False Equivalence, Chapter 2,817 - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic: "To make it clear: requiring 60 votes for everything is new, and it is overwhelmingly a Republican tactic"

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Modest Proposal: Call Obstruction What It Is - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

The American Jobs Act won majority support - but it did not get the 60 vote super majority that the Republican embrace of the filibuster as a way of life has made the norm at the heart of Congressional gridlock.

Why can't everyone report the result the way the New Haven Register did:
"GOP senators defeat Obama's $447B jobs bill."
A Modest Proposal: Call Obstruction What It Is - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic: ""GOP senators defeat Obama's $447B jobs bill.""

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Slump in law school applicants | StarTribune.com

Slump in law school applicants | StarTribune.com: "About 87.6 percent of the class of 2010 had a job -- any job -- nine months after graduation, according to a June report by the National Association for Law Placement. That's a 15-year low.

"But you have to remember that students 15 years ago didn't have the same debt," Leipold said. "A lot of students have six-figure debt coming out of law school now ... so the picture is even bleaker."

Yet even that 15-year low "conceals a number of negative trends in the job market," the report says. Only 68.4 of graduates who reported their employment had a job for which they had to pass the bar exam -- "the lowest percentage ... ever measured." About 11 percent of those who reported being employed were working part time."

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More Jobs for Americans: Stand with President Obama to Continue the Fight for Jobs - YouTube

More Jobs for Americans: Stand with President Obama to Continue the Fight for Jobs - YouTube: ""

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Ezra Klein: At the Republican debate, who would bring you the least government?

At the Republican debate, who would bring you the least government? - The Washington Post:
by Ezra Klein
"If every idea uttered around moderator Charlie Rose’s table was made into law tomorrow, the financial-regulation bill would be gone, as would health-care reform and the Federal Reserve. The tax credits that support the housing market would vanish, and so too would Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-backed housing giants that guarantee the majority of new loans. There would be a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, which would require more than $1 trillion in spending cuts if it was to be satisfied in 2013, and China would be branded a currency manipulator."

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tonight's GOP Debate - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

Tonight's GOP Debate - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic: "Here is what the past two hours or so boil down to:
- Mitt Romney has greatly increased his lead over everyone else, at least in the "rational" primary.
- He has become objectively good at debating and question-answering. (must be the Harvard MB and JD - gwc) Obama should be paying attention.
- Poor Rick Perry. In a different world, he would not have had to go through the gauntlet of these past two months of nationally televised debates and might still be the front runner. He is really, really not good in "debate format," and has not gotten better enough fast enough."

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David Brooks: Bard of the 1%


More proof that west coast bloggers have it easy. Just wait til 9 PM Pacific (midnight eastern) when the new David Brooks column comes out and then take a baseball bat to it. - GWC
David Brooks: Bard of the 1 Percent | MyFDL:
by Dean Baker
"David Brooks delved deep into his storage locker of misinformation to tell readers that the idea of blaming the richest 1 Percent for the country’s problems is just silly. He told us that the really big ideas aren’t about reversing the upward redistribution of income from the top, they are from centrists who want to do things like cut our Social Security and make us pay more for health care. Let’s have some fun with Mr. One Percent.

First he begins his piece by telling us:
The U.S. economy is probably going to stink for a few more years. It is beset by short-term problems (low consumer demand, uncertain housing prices, too much debt) and long-term problems (wage stagnation, rising health care costs, eroding human capital).
Realistically, not much is going to be done to address the short-term problems, but we can at least use this winter of recuperation to address the country’s underlying structural ones.
In other words, Brooks wants all those people who are unemployed and losing their homes to just suck it up. Nothing is going to be done to help you: get over it."

Monday, October 10, 2011

How to Fix California’s Democracy Crisis - NYTimes.com

I remember the days when I thought that being an anarcho-syndicalist might be a good idea, a la Big Bill Haywood, Emma Goldman, and the Industrial Workers of the World, and Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. One year terms of office, direct elections, voter recall, etc. seemed good. Reading James Madison in The Federalist papers drove me from that course - and proably got me past my comprehensives for my M.A. in Poli Sci at B.U.  Proposition 13 and California's  direct democracy debacle should quash all doubt about the need for a republican form of government - without excessive protection for minorities - like the 2/3 vote needed to raise taxes. - GWC
How to Fix California’s Democracy Crisis - NYTimes.com: "ONE hundred years ago today, California voters added the ballot initiative to the State Constitution, allowing citizens to use petitions to bring proposed statutes and constitutional amendments for a public vote.

But as California, the nation’s most populous state, marks this anniversary, the accumulated impact of direct democracy has made it virtually ungovernable. A two-thirds vote is required in each chamber of the Legislature to approve new taxes as a result of Proposition 13, the fabled tax initiative adopted in 1978. California is the only state requiring a two-thirds vote for both taxes and the budget, thus giving the minority party a veto on all major fiscal matters."

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6 people shot in Newark's Central Ward | NJ.com

Why gun control is more important than gun rights - to those of us who live in the cities where actual self-defense with a gun is unheard of and gun violence is all too frequent. News like this from Newark always catches my eye since I practiced law for 30 years in the abutting towns of East and South Orange - and tried cases for the Public Defender for four years - 1979 - 1983. - GWC
6 people shot in Newark's Central Ward | NJ.com: "NEWARK — Six people were shot this afternoon at a public housing complex on Crane Street in Newark's Central Ward, authorities said.
Two of the victims are in critical condition, according to two city officials.
The shooting occurred shortly before 2 p.m. in a walkway between two buildings in Kensco Village, according to Detective Eugenio Gonzalez, a Newark police spokesman.
No motive or suspects have been identified, and the conditions of the victims were not immediately available, the spokesman said."

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Getting more sophisticated at Occupy Wall Street

OWS is widely ridiculed for hyper-inflated rhetoric, simplistic slogans, etc.  But maybe things are changing, now that some from Paul Krugman's Army are Occupying Wall Street.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Depression - If Only Things Were That Good - NYTimes.com

David Leonhardt, like Ezra Klein in his recent piece (see below), draws on the insight of professors Reinardt
The Depression - If Only Things Were That Good - NYTimes.com:
by David Leonhardt (Washington Bureau Chief - NY Times)

"UNDERNEATH the misery of the Great Depression, the United States economy was quietly making enormous strides during the 1930s. Television and nylon stockings were invented. Refrigerators and washing machines turned into mass-market products. Railroads became faster and roads smoother and wider. As the economic historian Alexander J. Field has said, the 1930s constituted “the most technologically progressive decade of the century.”"

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Proposed revisions to China's Criminal Procedure Law/ChinaLawProf

Prof. Don Clarke, GWU Law School, has posted comments and a translation by Bayer & Li - on the proposed revisions to China's criminal procedure law. Of particular concern to Western observers is the provision on "residential surveillance" or house arrest.
This law has often been abused by police who detain people in detention facilities not in their homes. One of the harshest aspects of the practice is that police have had no duty to give notice of their action to family members, so some people "disappear" for extended periods of time.
The draft contains some improvements - particularly notice to family of the reasons for the restraint - leaving the usual doubts due to inability to enforce such directives in practice. There is no habeas corpus equivalent in China's criminal procedure law. - GWC

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy Wall Street/NYC Protest for an American Revolution


The resistance continues at Liberty Square and Nationwide!  
Click above or below to go to the homepage
Occupy Wall Street | NYC Protest for American Revolution:
And HERE is RSN's Live Twitter Feed!
It's deja vu all over again: the clenched fist logo, the inflated rhetoric, and the good intentions. I am dubious about how much gravitas this effort has. The civil rights movement provided moral elevation and disciplined leadership to the anti-war and student movements. A lot of organizational skill came from people with trade union experience.

A major driving force was the massive casualties suffered and inflicted by the war in Vietnam. 50,000 American soldiers and countless Vietnamese. And the draft, which made that war much more real at home than today's wars which are fought by a professional army.

BUT we have intractable unemployment of 9% - and a political opposition whose austerity strategy  is bound to worsen the situation if they take Congress and the White House. So one can only hope that something comes of this left-populist effort for jobs and debt relief  - even if immaturity is now its face. - GWC

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Could this time have been different? - Ezra Klein/WAPO

This wonkish piece on the financial crisis by Ezra Klein is well worth the effort. In an excellent review of the policy choices of the last three years he shows that even now there are effective steps - like work-sharing - that can be taken. - GWC
Could this time have been different? - The Washington Post:
by Ezra Klein
"“We’re trying right now to keep our lifestyles going,” says Michael Spence, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at New York University. “It’s not really working, but the way we’re doing it is putting all the burden on the unemployed while trying to leave the employed untouched. Eventually, this is going to require a redistribution of that burden.”"


Perversely, the very size of the [2009 stimulus] package is part of its problem. With something extraordinary that is nevertheless not enough, the economy deteriorates, and the government sees its solutions discredited and its political standing weakened by the worsening economic storm. That keeps it from doing more.
Meanwhile, the opposition’s capacity to do more is arguably even more limited, as it has turned against whatever policies were tried in the first place. Add in the almost inevitable run-up in government debt, which imposes constraints in the eyes of the voters and, in some cases, in the eyes of the markets, and an economy that started by not doing enough is never able to get in front of the crisis.
These sorts of economic crises are, in other words, inherently politically destabilizing, and that makes a sufficient response, at least in a democracy, nearly impossible.

Torts Today: Table Saw without `saw stop' technology defective: First Circuit

Torts Today: Table Saw without `saw stop' technology defective: First Circuit:

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Pepper Spray and the NYPD/ Jim Dwyer/NY Times

To get the feel of the streets of New York the best route is often to search the Times website for Jim Dwyer to see what he has to report.  So it is with the now notorious pepper spraying of a group of young women at the Occupy Wall Street protests.  - GWC


by Jim Dwyer
As a leading expert in government management,Raymond W. Kelly did not disappoint on Wednesday when he was asked about the actions of a senior police commander who pepper-sprayed four protesters standing on a sidewalk, then walked away without a glance as they rolled on the ground, screaming in pain.
Stephen Chernin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Raymond W. Kelly
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Mr. Kelly, showing the deftness of a man who has served as police commissioner for 12 years, drop-kicked the matter of the commander, Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, and his use of pepper spray as far and as fast as humanly possible.

Law Schools Need External monitoring/Brian Tamanaha

Balkinization:
by Prof. Brian Tamanaha

"Get ready law schools: A Senate hearing on the ABA regulation of law schools might be coming. That is the subtext of Senator Boxer's most recent letter to the ABA. It's overdue.

Law schools have demonstrated time and again that we are incapable of regulating ourselves. It started a century ago, when AALS and ABA wrote accreditation standards to keep out competition from lower cost urban law schools that educated immigrants and working class people."


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Friday, October 7, 2011

Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, Civil Rights Leader, Dies at 89 - NYTimes.com

Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, Civil Rights Leader, Dies at 89 - NYTimes.com:

The Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, a storied civil rights leader who survived beatings and bombings in Alabama a half-century ago as he fought against racial injustice alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., died on Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala. He was 89.

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The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth in Montgomery, Ala., in 2007.

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He died at Princeton Baptist Medical Center, his wife, Sephira Bailey Shuttlesworth, said. He also lived in Birmingham.

It was in that city in the spring of 1963 that Mr. Shuttlesworth, an important ally of Dr. King, organized two tumultuous weeks of daily demonstrations by black children, students, clergymen and others against a rigidly segregated society.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Address

Drunken Ben Bernanke Tells Everyone At Neighborhood Bar How Screwed U.S. Economy Really Is | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Quotes From Late Apple Founder Steve Jobs - NYTimes.com

Quotes From Late Apple Founder Steve Jobs - NYTimes.com: "COMMENCEMENT SPEECH AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY, 2005

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.""

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Romney Gets Right | FrumForum

What Romney Gets Right | FrumForum: "Of all those candidates who have run for the 2012 GOP nomination or contemplated running, Mitt Romney is the only one who has shown any degree of skepticism about the profoundly and dangerously mistaken Republican consensus. Sometimes he shows that skepticism by refusing to join the criticism of the Federal Reserve. Sometimes he says things that reveal a truer understanding of today’s problem – when he cites poor sales, not lack of confidence, as the reason businesses do not hire. On rare occasions, he will affirmatively defy the consensus, for example, in his willingness to challenge China on its currency manipulation – a challenge that the dollar’s exchange rate against the Chinese currency should be lower, not higher."
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Don't talk to the police

Prof. James Duane explains

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Obama Doctrine In Action | ThinkProgress

The Obama Doctrine In Action | ThinkProgress:
by Matt Yglesias
"The difference—and I think it’s a big difference—is that the Bush administration took a very ideological view of “the war on terror.” They viewed the United States as broadly in conflict with a vast-yet-hazily-defined array of Muslim Bad Guys such that Saddam Hussein and the government of Iran were somehow part of the same problem as Osama bin Laden.
The conceptual alternative to this that Obama offered (and I think you see it in early coverage of Obama’s national security thinking from Spencer Ackerman and yours truly) was to think of al-Qaeda as a specific, narrow thing that ought to be obsessively targeted and destroyed. His team viewed the Iraq War as a catastrophic distraction from that task, and also repeatedly clashed with John McCain over the need to more forcefully disregard Pakistani government views about hitting targets in Pakistan. You see in the rising body count that this all wasn’t just talk. There’s been some kind of meaningful reallocation of national resources away from Bush’s geopolitical vision in favor of a much more literal global effort to identify, locate, and kill members of al-Qaeda.
This whole suite of undertakings is in significant tension with the administration’s desire to pursue a rules-based global order and if Obama asked me I’d tell him he’s tilted too far against his own big picture ideas. Still, world affairs doesn’t exist on a two-dimensional hawk/dove axis and this militaristic aspect of Obamaism should be seen as a departure from Bush’s view of the terrorism problem."
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