Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Legal Laughter with Vince August

New Jersey attorney and part-time Municipal Court Judge Vincenzo Sicari has two crafts: lawyer and comedic actor.  He is serious about both, as one can see in this in depth interview about his acting career under the stage name Vince August.  New Jersey's Advisory Committee on Extrajudicial Activities has directed him not to appear on the ABC program "What Would You Do?".  The Committee concluded that his appearance "could create an appearance of impropriety under the Code of Judicial Conduct."

Sicari has challenged that ruling.  His appeal is pending before the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

What Newt and Mitt have in common - Ezra Klein


Ezra Klein sets out a lot facts about the two candidates.
But let's remember the basic differences:
Mitt Romney is an opportunist of the classic sort: he calculates his positions as to how they will advance his short and long-term objectives.
Newt Gingrich is an unguided missile with grandiose ambition who flip-flops without regard to principle or long-term objective. He was for so many things before he was against them that he could keep an army busy trying to track them. Fortunately we have a lot of horse-race journalists who will do that for us.
But the Obama team should keep its eye on the ball: Romney - who is the inevitable nominee, and who - because he has not been in Congress - cannot be strangled with his party's record. - GWC
What Romney, Gingrich and Obama have in common - The Washington Post:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Romney and Huntsman vs. the Rest | FrumForum

David Frum is what today's conservative ideologues call a RINO. What scares me is not his politics - but that his favorites Romney or Huntsman will win - and be beholden to the rest of the Republcan party - instead of being in a center-left coalition where they might actually do some good. - GWC
Romney and Huntsman vs. the Rest | FrumForum:

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Friday, November 25, 2011

The Military-Civilian Gap: Fewer Family Connections | Pew Social & Demographic Trends

Russ Hoyle has been working on a project he calls The Divide - the growing gap between those who serve in the military and the rest of us. Both my mother and father are WWII vets (Navy - both!). For people of my generation the WAVE is the only surprise. WWII was a mass mobilization. So was Korea, and Vietnam. Three of my college classmates died in Vietnam. My dear friend John and my neighbor George were there too - and a lot of my peers. In the 2d Iraq war two of my second cousins served (one in combat): but I have no ties to any others. The Pew foundation reports. - GWC
The Military-Civilian Gap: Fewer Family Connections | Pew Social & Demographic Trends: "The Military-Civilian Gap: Fewer Family Connections
By Kim Parker

A smaller share of Americans currently serve in the U.S. Armed Forces than at any time since the peace-time era between World Wars I and II. During the past decade, as the military has been engaged in the longest period of sustained conflict in the nation’s history, just one-half of one percent of American adults has served on active duty at any given time. As the size of the military shrinks, the connections between military personnel and the broader civilian population appear to be growing more distant."

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The GOP's dual-trigger nightmare - Ezra Klein - Washington Post

I have been of the view that President Obama actually came out pretty well on the debt limit fiasco and on last year's budget negotiations.  Key to this view is that the Bush tax cuts were extended until after the election - when they expire.  That puts them at the center of the presidential campaign - a point in the Democrats' favor - because the focus will be on middle-income tax cuts and upper-income tax increases.  Do nothing and taxes go up for both.  Obama's veto power is effective there.  The "automatic trigger" cuts are defense-tilted and exempt Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare benefits.  Ezra Klein explains.  - GWC
Wonkbook: The GOP's dual-trigger nightmare - The Washington Post:
by Ezra Klein
There are two triggers. One is an extremely progressive spending trigger worth $1.2 trillion that goes off on January 1, 2013. The other is an extremely progressive tax trigger worth $3.8 trillion that goes off on...January 1, 2013. If you count reduced interest payments, the two policies alone would reduce future deficits by about $6 trillion. That's far more than anything the supercommittee came close to discussing. It's distributed far more progressively than anything the Democrats have even considered proposing. And all that needs to happen for it to pass is, well, nothing.
Republicans can't stop these triggers on their own. They need Senate Democrats and President Obama to join them in passing an alternative, or they need House and Senate Democrats to join them in overturning President Obama's veto of their alternative. So the only way for Republicans to avoid this dual-trigger nightmare is to somehow convince Democrats to bail them out. And for that, they have two points of leverage.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

1863 Abraham Lincoln - Thanksgiving Proclamation

October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States
A Proclamation
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
Abraham Lincoln
h/t David Frum 

GOP Presidential polls - dynamic graph | Talking Points Memo

This dynamic `roll-over' graph of the GOP presidential polls shows the roller-coaster ride for the Not-Mitts.  Romney reminds me of the Mondale campaign - in which I committed early and was rewarded with a seat on the National Platform Committee.  Mondale did not clinch until June when he took New Jersey and California.  Progressives resisted him as a compromiser - preferring Gary Hart or Jesse Jackson.  The feel was like that we see now toward Obama by Move-On and Progressive Change Campaign Committee.  
Obama's dilemma is that people were once ecstatic, then set-back by the Tea Party's surprising rise, then frustrated when Obama did not slay the dragon. - GWC
A Sight to Behold | Talking Points Memo:

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Alliance for Justice Praises Letter from 52 Members of Congress Calling for Investigation of Clarence Thomas' Disclosure Lapses | Alliance for Justice

The ideologically tendentious Clarence Thomas wears his politics on his sleeve.  He copiously lauds his Tea Party wife, speaks of grave threats to the Constitution in ways that suggest he is certain to find a way to vote to gut the Affordable Care Act.   They are reasons why progressives intensely dislike his decisions.  But such ideological commitments are not grounds for recusal.   Justice Thomas does seem vulnerable, however for failure to make honest disclosures about his wife's income.  It is a story that won't die.  Now 52 Democratic Members of Congress have appealed to the Chief Justice. - GWC
Alliance for Justice Praises Letter from 52 Members of Congress Calling for Investigation of Clarence Thomas' Disclosure Lapses | Alliance for Justice:
 "Alliance for Justice today expressed strong support for a letter sent by 52 members of Congress, spearheaded by Reps. Louise Slaughter and Earl Blumenauer, calling on the U.S. Judicial Conference to investigate possible violations of the Ethics in Government Act by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The letter echoes a similar request from Alliance for Justice and Common Cause made on October 5, 2011."



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MODERNIZING CONSERVATISM

Despite the stunning resurgence of conservative politicians after Obama and the Democrats swept the 2008 elections - all is not well for the conservative movement says an American Enterprise institute writer. Frankly I don't understand the conservative creed. I just don't "get" the preference for small government, for the private sector, etc. Effective appeals to me, efficient appeals to me. But I have no inherent preference on which serves us better - public or private. - GWC
Breakthrough Journal: Issue 2 : MODERNIZING CONSERVATISM:
Anti-government conservatism is ascendant. Republicans will likely retake the Senate and may take back the White House in 2012. The Tea Party is the most significant social movement since the anti-war movement of the late sixties. But, warns Steve Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute in an article for the Fall/Winter issue of theBreakthrough Journal, conservatives have plenty of reason to worry. The 50-year libertarian project to shrink the welfare state is a manifest failure. Government is bigger than ever. Tax cuts didn't "starve the beast" -- for decades, the evidence shows, they grew it. What is a serious conservative to do? Rethink everything.
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Tax Cut Calculator - American Jobs Act

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Great Rope a Dope trick | TPMCafe

The Great Rope a Dope trick | TPMCafe: "Barack Obama learned a political trick from Muhammad Ali called Rope a Dope. For you youngsters, this refers to the epic Rumble in the Jungle Heavyweight fight against George Foreman in 1974. "

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Merck Agrees to Pay $950 Million in Vioxx Case - NYTimes.com

Merck Agrees to Pay $950 Million in Vioxx Case - NYTimes.com: "The Department of Justice said on Tuesday that Merck will plead guilty and pay $950 million to resolve investigations into its marketing of the painkiller Vioxx.

The agency said Merck will pay $321.6 million in criminal fines and $628.4 million as a civil settlement agreement. It will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge that it marketed Vioxx as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis before getting Food and Drug Administration approval.

Merck stopped selling Vioxx in 2004 after evidence showed the drug doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke. In 2007, the company paid $4.85 billion to settle around 50,000 Vioxx-related lawsuits."

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Lincoln, Slavery and the Kansas-Nebraska Act

I mentioned in class today that the common law tradition radically unites property and personal liberty (and has a weak conception of the common good). To illustrate the power of the liberty point; and that American slavery exposed American claims of liberty as hypocritical here are two passages from Abraham Lincoln in the book I am reading at the moment:The Fiery Trial - Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner.
Torts Today: Lincoln, Slavery and the Kansas-Nebraska Act:

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I am 66 years old

And the Super Winners Are… | FrumForum

And the Super Winners Are… | FrumForum: "“Winners and Losers” headlines abounded after the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JSC) whimpered to an end.

One of the most interesting analyses was in The Hill, written by Bob Cusak, although we disagree with some of his picks.

Here is our analysis. “and, the winner is…the Democrats!”

Here’s why we pick the Democrats as overwhelming winners in the past 11 month of the Fiscal Follies:"

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Torts Today: Elizabeth Warren '76 remembers Rutgers Law years

Torts Today: Elizabeth Warren '76 remembers Rutgers Law years:

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Andrew Sprung: Was the Budget Control Act a 60-yard punt for Obama?

OK, this is really inside baseball - but these budget negotiations really are complicated. Here's the basic fact: the Bush tax cuts (which reduced the Clinton tax increases to 39.5% for top earners) expire at the end of 2012 - having been extended by last Christmas's budget deal.
The Bush tax cuts obliterated the Clinton budget surplus and combined with the two major wars, the prescription drug benefit, the recession, and the stimulus to create the deficit.
 Therefore the biggest step toward reducing the deficit is to let the Bush tax cuts expire. BUT those cuts went very deep - affecting the majority of earners - while benefiting high earners the most.
So the big issue of the 2012 campaign which begins now with the Super Committee's end - will be which Bush tax cuts will be allowed to expire. If NOTHING is done they all expire: so everybody gets a tax increase.
xpostfactoid: Was the Budget Control Act a 60-yard punt for Obama?:
by Andrew Sprung
"Nor do you have to credit Obama with playing multidimensional chess to think he may have achieved his chief goal at relatively modest cost. As the debt ceiling deadline approached, he drew one line in the sand -- not, as his allies craved, getting some mix of revenues into any deal, but rather gaining the power to raise the debt ceiling enough to last until 2013 without any further hostage taking scenarios. If you assume that a) Obama wanted a deal that included at least as much in cut spending as the Budget Control Act mandates [$1.2 trillion];  b) he is willing to live with the large defense cuts if he can't renegotiate them on his own terms; c) he will finally make a firm stand on the Bush tax cuts in 2012, insisting on either a restoration of the Clinton era top marginal rate or tax reform that provides more revenue than just that sunset would yield; and d) once Boehner backed out of the summer deal, a good outcome was impossible without and until Obama's reelection... then maybe he tacked his way to the lowest risk/highest yield strategy available to him."

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"A Hollowing Out of the Middle" - Mark Thoma - Economist's View

The GOP's politics of resentment are most successful among non-college educated whites. Chris Christie, Rick Perry, and Jan Brewer of Arizona are three who have thrived on their fears. Which are real - as this census data shows. Unfortunately those voters have picked the wrong horse as David Frum's devastating critique of today's GOP makes clear. - GWC
Economist's View: "A Hollowing Out of the Middle":
by Mark Thoma
"The chart below indicates the share of workers in each of the wage groups in 1980 and in 2009. In 1980, three-quarters of all workers were employed in mid-skill occupations. Among the occupations included in this group, Machine Operators accounted for 10 percent of the U.S. workforce, and Administrative Support accounted for 18 percent. By 2009, the share of jobs in the mid-skill category had shrunk to two-thirds, with Machine Operators accounting for just 4 percent of all jobs and Administrative Support for 14 percent. Over this same period, there was an increase in the share of jobs in the high and low skill groups. High skill jobs increased their share from 12 percent to 15 percent, while low skill jobs grew from 13 percent to 17 percent. As a result, the share of jobs at the upper end and lower end of the distribution increased between 1980 and 2009, while the share of jobs in the middle group fell."

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David Frum: GOP has Lost Touch with Reality


David Frum embraces the core Republican creed - limited government, low taxes, free markets, tough on crime, and communism, etc. But he thinks the GOP is now an irresponsible party. The former Bush II White House speech writer has lost his job and a lot of friends. This is his story. Read it.  It's a lot more compelling than the quotes below.  - GWC
David Frum on the GOP’s Lost Sense of Reality -- New York Magazine:
by David Frum
"America desperately needs a responsible and compassionate alternative to the Obama administration’s path of bigger government at higher cost. And yet: This past summer, the GOP nearly forced America to the verge of default just to score a point in a budget debate. In the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, Republican politicians demand massive budget cuts and shrug off the concerns of the unemployed. In the face of evidence of dwindling upward mobility and long-stagnating middle-class wages, my party’s economic ideas sometimes seem to have shrunk to just one: more tax cuts for the very highest earners. When I entered Republican politics, during an earlier period of malaise, in the late seventies and early eighties, the movement got most of the big questions—crime, inflation, the Cold War—right. This time, the party is getting the big questions disastrously wrong.
Michele Bachmann
For the past three years, the media have praised the enthusiasm and energy the tea party has brought to the GOP. Yet it’s telling that that movement has failed time and again to produce even a remotely credible candidate for president. Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich: The list of tea-party candidates reads like the early history of the U.S. space program, a series of humiliating fizzles and explosions that never achieved liftoff.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Summers: We have to do better on inequality - FT.com

The former Treasury Secretary (1999-2001) and director of the National Economic Council (2009-2010) is starting to sound like OWS. - GWCWe have to do better on inequality - FT.com:
by Lawrence Summers
"The principal problem facing the US and Europe for the next few years is an output shortfall caused by a lack of demand. Nothing would increase the incomes of all citizens – poor, middle-class and rich – as much as an increase in demand and associated increases in incomes, living standards and confidence in institutions and the future.
It would, however, be a serious mistake to suppose that our problems are only cyclical or amenable to macroeconomic solution. Just as the evolution from an agricultural to an industrial economy has far-reaching implications for almost all institutions, so too does the evolution from an industrial to a knowledge economy. Trends that pre-date the Great Recession will be with us long after any recovery."


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After Law School, Associates Learn to Be Lawyers - NYTimes.com

Associates training at Drinker Biddle
Although I took 1/3 of my law school credits in clinics, and worked my first summer at the Constitutional Litigation Clinic on a landmark case; interned the next at  Mercer County Legal Aid (where I conducted hearings for imprisoned mental patients); and interned for the GC at a trade union, I wouldn't say that I was road ready when I started practicing. Good mentors in practice were necessary. Law school can get you started but it can't train you for any particular job.  So much of the lamentation is overdone.
Nonetheless there are some points here that are persuasive: clinical faculty should have equal voting status and tenure with `academic' faculty. The ABA Section on Legal Education - the accrediting body - sanctions the two-tier approach. It mandates tenure for 'regular' faculty - but "reasonably similar" five year contracts for clinicians.
And the problem of the "stigma of practice" could be similarly addressed - if the ABA would set some measure such as a median of practice experience for professors - say five years. That would help. As to U.C. Davis Dean Kevin Johnson's remark that law schools don't want to be "retirement homes for washed up lawyers"...I trust he didn't have me in mind.  - GWC
UPDATE: Lots of commentary at Prawfs blog and more at Balkinization
And this by Len Cavise/DePaul on the SALT blog.

Director, Center for Public Interest Law
DePaul College of Law
I actually don’t think we need a major reconfiguration.  Clinics are extremely expensive.  Extern programs are very often problematic.  I would be satisfied if each and every law school teacher would include practice components in every course taught with the possible exception of con law.  Every legal principle discussed should be followed with a discussion of how the principle is implemented in the real world.  In addition, there should be an advanced course in the curriculum that focuses on practice aspects for each substantive discipline.  Finally, I think recruitment committees and faculties as a whole should be reeducated to value practice in the candidate pool and the willingness of candidates to not only teach practice but to get involved in school service that exposes students to practice and helps students make career choices.
After Law School, Associates Learn to Be Lawyers - NYTimes.com:
by David Segal
 "This has helped to hasten a historic decline in hiring. The legal services market has shrunk for three consecutive years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Altogether, the top 250 firms — which hired 27 percent of graduates from the top 50 law schools last year — have lost nearly 10,000 jobs since 2008, according to an April survey by The National Law Journal.
Law schools know all about the tough conditions that await graduates, and many have added or expanded programs that provide practical training through legal clinics. But almost all the cachet in legal academia goes to professors who produce law review articles, which gobbles up huge amounts of time and tuition money. The essential how-tos of daily practice are a subject that many in the faculty know nothing about — by design. One 2010 study of hiring at top-tier law schools since 2000 found that the median amount of practical experience was one year, and that nearly half of faculty members had never practiced law for a single day. If medical schools took the same approach, they’d be filled with professors who had never set foot in a hospital."

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Torts Today: Pepper spraying sit-down protesters

`Occupy Davis'
Torts Today: Pepper spraying sit-down protesters:
The video is shocking. I can't get it to embed properly, so to see it follow this link:

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Bless me voters because I have sinned!

newt
Newt comes clean, sorta, saying roughly:  Anything I once believed that the Tea Party doesn't like I no-longer believe; bless me voters for I have sinned it has been a long time since my last confession, in fact this might be my first confession, but let's face it...
I admit that I cheated on my second wife while trying to drive Bill Clinton from office for lying about sex.  But he did it under oath, so it's different.
It's true that I used to support the individual mandate, which I thought was a good, even necessary idea.  But now that it's part of Obamacare, I'm against it.
I have gone to confession (because I'm Catholic now).  I am sorry for my unspecified sins.
It's true that my company The Gingrich Group got paid a lot of money by Fannie Mae, helping them develop strategy.  But I never tried to persuade anyone to do anything, so I was not a lobbyist.  I was just a strategist.
READ IT ALL on the Newt seeks forgiveness web page


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Arizona Immigration Bill Seems To Have Created A New Swing State | TPM 2012

Chad Campbell - Democratic leader, Arizona state House
The Arizona Immigration Bill Seems To Have Created A New Swing State | TPM 2012: "The rumors are true, Rep. Chad Campbell, the Democratic leader of the Arizona state House, told TPM Wednesday: the state best known for Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the toughest immigration law in the land really is a swing state in 2012. And Democrats have SB 1070 to thank for it.

“I’d hesitate to say it was ever good that it was passed,” Campbell said in a sitdown interview. “Because of the damage it did to the community, damage to the economy. But I do think it motivated a lot of people, especially people in the Latino community, to get involved and it energized them.”"

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Thomas Friedman - what is his problem?

Thomas Friedman - who is neck and neck with David Brooks for most fatuous big-name commentator - has done it again.  Today he accuses the President of not saying what his own budget priorities are. Really?
How about this: LIVING WITHIN OUR MEANS AND INVESTING IN OUR FUTURE - THE PRESIDENT'S PLAN.


This characteristic misrepresentation by Friedman who wants to be above the fray actually aids people like Rep. Jeb Hensarling - GOP Supercommittee member - who today said the Democrats don't have a plan.  Yes they do.  And one click above will show it to anyone who can read.  And contrary to Hensarling's wish it does not include gutting Medicare and turning it into a voucher system.


h/t Greg Sargent, Washington Post

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Socialist Legal System with Chinese Characteristics

The Socialist Legal System with Chinese Characteristics
This new document - filled with boilerplate (standard language) sets a new record for use of the phrase "with Chinese characteristics".  Whenever in a public setting one states a direct or implied criticsm of the Chinese legal system someone will pipe up about "Chinese characteristics".  That phrase has become shorthand for "we are not going to be western liberals", we are not going to develop a mechanism to replace the Communist party with some other party.
As the excerpt below declares China - with the almost incomprehensible disruption of the Cultural Revolution (1966 - 1978) - has made great progress in developing its legal system - though it remains in many ways a weak state, with weak central control and weak regulatory structures.
As Prof. Stanley Lubman recently observed there is progress  - as I saw in my work translating the new statement of basic principles of tort law which was enacted last year.   There is lots of serious discussion among lawyers, law professors, and others.  But it is not possible to discuss whether any non-communist political party should be allowed to compete for power.  Those who push in that direction - like Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiao Bo - are incarcerated.  - GWC

Some excerpts follow
The socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics is a legal foundation for socialism with Chinese characteristics to retain its nature, a legal reflection of the innovative practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and a legal guarantee for the prosperity of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Its establishment is an important milestone in China's development of socialist democracy and the legal system, and showcases the great achievements of reform, opening up and the socialist modernization drive. It is of great realistic and far-reaching historic significance.
Since New China was founded, and particularly since the policy of reform and opening up was introduced in 1978, China has made remarkable achievements in its legislation work. By the end of August 2011, the Chinese legislature had enacted 240 effective laws including the current Constitution, 706 administrative regulations, and over 8,600 local regulations. As a result, all legal branches have been set up, covering all aspects of social relations; basic and major laws of each branch have been made; related administrative regulations and local regulations are fairly complete; and the whole legal system is scientific and consistent. A socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics has been solidly put into place.


Under Cover of Night, the Landlord Moved In - NYTimes.com

OWS protesters reconvene after eviction
Lawyer that I am I understand that there is no right to camp out in Zuccotti Park like the OWS protesters have done.  Sanitation for one thing.  But that's not the only thing, as Jim Dwyer observes, that a member of the upper reaches of the 1% like Michael Bloomberg should keep in mind.  - GWC
Under Cover of Night, the Landlord Moved In - NYTimes.com:
by Jim Dwyer
"Talking people out of Zuccotti Park or giving 72 hours’ notice might have been exercises in futility. But they weren’t tried. And for the most part, television cameras were kept at a distance. Doing tough things in the dark, when no one can see you, is not one of the lessons they teach in kindergarten."

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The unexpected and astounding arguments the Supreme Court will hear on Obamacare - Slate Magazine

The activist shoe is on the other foot now as conservative lawyers and jurists look to dismantle the New Deal, the Progressive movement, and, of course, "Obamacare". It appears the even Medicaid may be in their sights. - GWC
The unexpected and astounding arguments the Supreme Court will hear on Obamacare - Slate Magazine:
by Simon Lazarus and Dahlia Lithwick
"The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which means a five-and-a-half-hour oral argument before the court this spring, with a ruling likely by the end of June. It’s hardly surprising that the court agreed to hear this case: There was a deep split of opinion between several federal appellate courts, 26 states say they hate this law, and the Obama administration wanted the court to hear it quickly. The surprise is which issues the court has asked each side to address, and for how long. By this measure, the court’s announcement is precisely 64 percent expected, 18 percent unexpected, and 18 percent astounding."

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Middle-Class Neighborhoods Shrinking, Report Finds - NYTimes.com

Germantown in Philadelphia is poor now. That's a surprise. I remember going down there to visit a girl at Beaver College 45 years ago. Very middle class back then. Much has changed in America.  The Russell Sage Foundation reports. - GWC
Middle-Class Neighborhoods Shrinking, Report Finds - NYTimes.com:
by Sabrina Tavernise
"WASHINGTON — The portion of American families living in middle-income neighborhoods has declined significantly since 1970, according to a new study, as rising income inequality left a growing share of families in neighborhoods that are mostly low-income or mostly affluent."

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The Myth of the Wealthy Elderly | Op-Eds & Columns

The Myth of the Wealthy Elderly | Op-Eds & Columns:
by Dean Baker
"The austerity gang seeking cuts to Social Security and Medicare has been vigorously promoting the myth that the elderly are an especially affluent and privileged group. Their argument is that because of their relative affluence, cuts to the programs upon which they depend is a simple matter of fairness. There were two reports released last week that call this view into question"

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Bob Costas interviews Jerry Sandusky

In a compelling audio interview Bob Costas shows himself to be a superb direct examiner in this interview with Jerry Sandusky, the accused Penn State footballer who denies committing the acts which are alleged in the indictment.   One wonders about the wisdom of his lawyer Joseph Amendola who did not persuade Sandusky to maintain his silence, and who affirmed his personal belief in Sandusky's innocence. - GWC

Monday, November 14, 2011

Court sets 5 1/2-hour hearing on health care (FINAL) : SCOTUSblog

Lyle Denniston of Scotus Blog summarizes the Supreme Court's grant of certiorari in the challenges to the Affordable Care Act.
Court sets 5 1/2-hour hearing on health care (FINAL) : SCOTUSblog:

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Newt is unelectable and won't be nominated Talking Points Memo

Newt Gingrich is vainglorious. But vanity won't get the job done. So let's not spill ink on the pseudo-race that is about to occur. Josh Marshall explains. - GWC
Is Newt Trouble for Mitt? | Talking Points Memo:
by Josh Marshall
"The big problem for Newt is that Republican power brokers will not let him within 30 miles of the Republican nomination. A win is just too close. Why throw that away on someone as toxic, erratic and unpopular as Newt? Newt is a creature of the conservative Id, churning with resentment and provocation. Someone like Mitt can learn the buzzwords. But it’s Newt’s world. He half created it. Mitt may have to live there with him for the next several months. But politically Gingrich has never able to live outside of that world. In the end, he won’t beat Mitt because he can’t beat Obama."

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Eurocrisis: Financial-Prudence-Is-Contractionary Watch

More from Brad DeLong on why we - the U.S. - should be backing up those who take on Eurorisk.
Eurocrisis: Financial-Prudence-Is-Contractionary Watch:

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How Romney Could Win - NYTimes.com

Former Times Managing Editor Bill Keller explains how Mitt Romney - having escaped the pre-primary process unscathed - could beat Obama: a vote for change, the practical businessman, the Republicans in Congress would rather work with him than with Obama, etc.  It could take him to the White House - and to a conservative path as a not-very-popular-with-is-base candidate who is beholden to them nonetheless. - GWC
How Romney Could Win - NYTimes.com:
by Bill Keller
"If you want to go into hibernation now and re-emerge in August for the campaign home stretch, I understand. But just to put the season of vaudeville firmly behind us, let’s contemplate the choice that awaits: two confident, intelligible, no-drama, rather distant men, each of whom seems to have overcompensated for bigot-arousing origins (Obama’s race, Romney’s religion) by being rational to a fault."

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Torts Today: Is Penn State Liable for the Harm Done to Child Sex Abuse Victims?

Torts Today: Is Penn State Liable for the Harm Done to Child Sex Abuse Victims?:

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Romney: Iran will get The Bomb" if we Re-elect Obama


Stepping again into the fact-free zone Mitt Romney declared at last night's CBS GOP foreign policy debate “If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will get a nuclear weapon,” he said. “If we elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not.”"
Like get tough on crime, the communists, etc. the cowboy persona is a tried and true winner. I guess getting Osama Bin Laden and overthrowing Muhammar Qadaffi haven't done anything to reduce Romney's Republican birthright to assert that however tough a Democrat is, he will be tougher. 
Iran-bashing has been a reliable winner since the Ayatollah Kohomeini-led revolution that overthrew the Shah who we installed.  
"America Held Captive" helped install Ronald Reagan.  This year there are no American hostages - unless you want to count the unemployed who are held hostage by Mitch McConnell's filibusters in the Senate, and Speaker Boehner -strapped down by the Tea Party like Gulliver by the Lilliputians. 
- GWC
Romney: If Obama Wins, ‘Iran Will Get A Nuclear Weapon’ | TPM 2012: "

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 2011

My mother Clare was a WAVE and my father George served as commander of SC 1355 - a Stamford-built 110' sub chaser doing convoy escort duty in World War II.

A Glimpse into Chinese Law-Making - China Real Time Report - WSJ

National Peoples Congress in full session
Stanley Lubman - one of the most seasoned and sensible of the `Chinalaw' hands has an informative column about the progressive development of  Chinese legislation.  In one of history's strange ironies the Communist Party - under Mao's leadership - instead of being the rule-bound bureaucracy we associate with the lat USSR - disparaged law and dismantled its institutions - including the Ministry of Justice!
It has been a long road back.  A little recognized fact about the People's Republic is how weak its government is:  and a lot that has to do with its thin structure of statutes, and even thinner regulatory structures.  Professor Lubman has some useful observations in this regard.  - GWC
A Glimpse into Chinese Law-Making - China Real Time Report - WSJ:
by Prof. Stanley Lubman, University of California
"The most that Westerners hear about Chinese law usually pertains to human rights violations, examples of arbitrary official conduct and a weak judiciary. While these problems remain critical, they tend to overshadow an equally important, though less headline-ready, topic: How laws are drafted in China and what that means for the country’ progress toward greater legality.


Legislative drafting has been going on quietly for decades, and some of the results of these efforts were on display at a presentation by Chinese officials given as part of an annual bilateral legal exchange program held recently in San Francisco."

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

More History of the Regulation of Legal Education So That We Understand Where We Are and How We Got Here « SALTLAW

More History of the Regulation of Legal Education So That We Understand Where We Are and How We Got Here « SALTLAW:
by Hazel Weiser
"The first rule of persuasion is to choose where to begin a story. All of this talk about deregulation of legal education and the practice of law as being good for everyone needs some historical context. (This talk sounds dangerously like it was manufactured by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce). I started that examination last week when I posted Deregulation is Just Another Word for … . Today I am moving deeper into history to help us understand how the legal profession became a profession. It’s not a pretty story, because it happened here in the United States: a radical, young, immature, racist, and intolerant place that has always had a hard time living up to its aspirations."

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Judge Jed Rakoff: The Outtakes - Law Blog - WSJ

Judge Jed Rakoff: The Outtakes - Law Blog - WSJ: "By Michael Rothfeld

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff is well-known for speaking bluntly, giving the Securities and Exchange Commission heartburn, and a willingness to issue bold legal rulings, such as when he briefly overturned the death penalty in a decision that was later reversed."

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Off the Charts Blog | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities | Blog Archive | Exploding, Once Again, the “Non-Payer” Tax Myth

Off the Charts Blog | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities | Blog Archive | Exploding, Once Again, the “Non-Payer” Tax Myth:
Have you heard the one about how nearly half of Americans don’t pay taxes? Nonsense, as the recent Congressional Budget Office report on income inequality reminds us.
Low- and Middle-Income Households Pay Significant Payroll Taxes
As we have explained, in a typical year around 35-40 percent of households don’t owe any federal income tax. But most of them pay a significant share of their incomes in other taxes — particularly payroll taxes, as the CBO report points out:

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The Dangerous Cocoon of College Football


George Vecsey of the NY Times, like me, has been an admirer of Joe Paterno - old Brooklyn ties, etc.

"Really, we need to do something about big-time college sports.
The horrendous scandal at the most prominent public college in Pennsylvania has been aided and abetted by the oppressive status of King Football.
Officials at Penn State did not want to know that, according to prosecutors, boys were being abused by a trusted member of the football family. Perhaps the subject was too queasy for them. Besides, it would get in the way of entertaining the masses, which is what the sport is for."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Artificial intelligence: Difference Engine: Luddite legacy | The Economist

Artificial intelligence: Difference Engine: Luddite legacy | The Economist: "AN APOCRYPHAL tale is told about Henry Ford II showing Walter Reuther, the veteran leader of the United Automobile Workers, around a newly automated car plant. “Walter, how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues,” gibed the boss of Ford Motor Company. Without skipping a beat, Reuther replied, “Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars?”"

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Why David Brooks Is Totally Wrong About Income Inequality and the 99% | | AlterNet

Why David Brooks Is Totally Wrong About Income Inequality and the 99% | | AlterNet: "
By Alyssa Battistoni
Brooks' latest tries to dismiss the conflict between the 99% and the 1% -- here's why he gets it wrong."

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

If Jerry Sandusky allegations are true, Penn State and Joe Paterno deserve part of the blame - The Washington Post

The coach, Joe Paterno, has been a hero of mine.  One of the two most illustrious graduates of my high school Brooklyn Prep (the other is John Sexton, President of NYU).  The guy from Brooklyn whose brother George coached our team.  Joe Pa - whose top football players graduated - unlike those corrupt football mills that Taylor Branch lays bare in his recent Atlantic magazine article The Shame of College Sports.
Paterno - the Jesuit educated paragon - stood for the corpore sano part of our school's motto mens sana in corpore sano.  After the scandal of the bishops here, there and everywhere, after asking how could those sworn to chastity fail so, at least Paterno - the married outstanding Catholic layman - knew how to protect and train young men, I assumed with pride.  
Sickening failure 
The winningest major college team coach in history will end his career tarnished , his accomplishments forever stained by this scandal of sexual abuse by his long time assistant coach Jerry Sandusky who, if the indictment's allegations are proven, is a deeply disturbed man who was protected by his co-defendants - the leaders of the Athletic Department of the Pennsylvania State University.  It is a charge sickeningly like that detailed in the January 2011 Grand Jury Report of the Philadelphia Catholic hierarchy's failure to  report the sexual abuse of children by  its priest subordinates. - GWC
If Jerry Sandusky allegations are true, Penn State and Joe Paterno deserve part of the blame - The Washington Post: "
"After what allegedly happened to “Victim 2,” a boy estimated to be 10 years old, in the same room where Penn State football players shower, it’s near impossible to keep reading the grand jury’s report. By “Victim 8,” numbness turns to anger.Most of all, you want to have an audience with one of sports’ most endearing icons, Joe Paterno, Happy Valley’s homespun saint, and ask Joe Pa, repeatedly, “While you were regaling everyone with sappy tales about meeting your wife 50 years ago over ice cream at the local creamery in State College, Pa., did you have any idea what your longtime defensive coordinator was doing in the company of young boys?"

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The China Conundrum - NYTimes.com

老虎妈妈 - Chinese `tiger mothers' press hard to get their kids into American universities
The China Conundrum - NYTimes.com: "Zinch China, a consulting company that advises American colleges and universities about China, last year published a report based on interviews with 250 Beijing high school students bound for the United States, their parents, and a dozen agents and admissions consultants. The company concluded that 90 percent of Chinese applicants submit false recommendations, 70 percent have other people write their personal essays, 50 percent have forged high school transcripts and 10 percent list academic awards and other achievements they did not receive. The “tide of application fraud,” the report predicted, will likely only worsen as more students go to America.

Tom Melcher, Zinch China’s chairman and the report’s author, says it’s simplistic to vilify agents who provide these services. They’re responding, he says, to the demands of students and parents.

Thanks to China’s one-child policy, today’s college students are part of a generation of singletons, and their newly affluent parents — and, in all likelihood, both sets of grandparents — are deeply invested in their success."

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What Romney would cut - The Washington Post

What Romney would cut - The Washington Post:
by Suzy Khimm
"Mitt Romney is making a big push today to cast himself as a budget-slashing fiscal conservative who isn’t afraid to wield a hatchet when it comes to government spending. But what specific cuts would he actually push for? The same ones that House Republicans were demanding earlier this year. And it’s worth remembering exactly what those were."

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Long-term Unemployment - Record High -TPM/Pew

from Pew Trusts, h/t TPM
It's especially bad if you are older.  Nice to know that the elite thinkers who make Federal Reserve policy didn't feel that any further steps need to be taken this month. - GWC

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wall Street is still playing us for suckers - The Washington Post

Wall Street is still playing us for suckers - The Washington Post:
by Richard Cohen
 "The Citigroup settlement is being reviewed by a perplexed U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff. Among other things, he wants to know why he should authorize a settlement “in which the SEC alleges a serious securities fraud but the defendant neither admits nor denies wrongdoing.” This is a marvelous question that goes to the heart of the matter. The settlement is itself a CDO, a legal version of a black hole in which next to nothing is disclosed. Why no guilt? Why no guilty people? Why such a non-punishing punishment? The SEC will have to tell it to the judge."
h/t Russ Hoyle
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Oakland Port Closes as Protesters March on Waterfront - NYTimes.com

Seeing the photos of "Occupy Oakland" blocking the port brings back memories.  It's deja vu all over again. I was a placid but curious undergraduate in 1965 in the monastic environment of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. I had started attending the Friday night discussions at the Phoenix club. Founded by Prof. John Dorenkamp, it introduced me to the political left. Father Robert Drinan, then Dean of Boston College Law School, came to speak against the war in Vietnam, as did Frank Wilkinson - Director of the Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee. Friends of SNCC (the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) met there too.
One of the members of in the Phoenix circle was the anarchist activist Abbie Hoffman. One Friday evening in the fall of 1965  David McReynolds of theWar Resisters League came to speak.  We all retired to Abbie's home in Worcester where he had grown up.  McReynolds showed us hand-held film footage of the Oakland Army Base protests where several hundred activists sat on the tracks and blocked troop trains bringing soldiers who would ship out to Vietnam the old-fashioned way: by ship. That story is one of many told by Maurice Isserman and Michael Kazin in America Divided - the Civil War of the 1960's.  - GWC
Oakland Port Closes as Protesters March on Waterfront - NYTimes.com: "OAKLAND, Calif. — Thousands of Occupy Oakland protesters expanded their anti-Wall Street demonstrations on Wednesday, marching through downtown, picketing banks and swarming the port. By early evening, port authorities said maritime operations there were effectively shut down."

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Ineffective assistance of counsel – Lafler and Frye : SCOTUSblog

Interesting discussion of the two ineffective assistance of counsel cases argued yesterday, November 1 in the U.S. Supreme Court. - GWC
Ineffective assistance of counsel – Lafler and Frye : SCOTUSblog:
Intro by Aaron Tang, moderator
"In Lafler, the attorney mistakenly told the defendant that the state could not establish a necessary element of its case – intent to murder – because he had shot the victim below her waist, the state could not establish a necessary element of its case (intent to murder); based on that advice, the defendant rejected a guilty plea, was ultimately convicted at trial, and was eventually sentenced to a much longer prison term. In Frye, the defendant’s counsel simply failed to inform him that a plea bargain had been offered at all, allegedly leading him to enter a guilty plea on terms far less favorable than he would have received had he agreed to the state’s offer. In each case, the Court is now considering whether the defendant-respondents can seek relief on the ground that their attorneys were constitutionally ineffective and, if so, what remedies are available to them."

On remedy my pick is:

Aliza Kaplan – 2 Promoted Comments

As to the remedy, “[c]ases involving Sixth Amendment deprivations are subject to the general rule that remedies should be tailored to the injury suffered from the constitutional violation and should not unnecessarily infringe on competing interests.” United States v. Morrison, 449 U.S. 361, 364 (1981). Therefore, courts must “identify and then neutralize the taint by tailoring relief appropriate in the circumstances.” Id. at 365. Based on this, the trial courts should be given discretion to create remedies that are the most fitting under the circumstances for the particular case. In some cases this will mean enforcing the original plea bargain’s terms and in others, it will mean vacating the conviction and starting over.


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Balkinization: Wake up, Law professors

Wake Up Law Professors
Balkinization:
by Brian Tamnaha
"It’s grim reading. The observations are raw, bitter, and filled with despair. It is easier to avert our eyes and carry on with our pursuits. But please, take a few moments and force yourself to look at Third Tier RealityEsq. NeverExposing the Law School ScamJobless Juris DoctorTemporary Attorney: The Sweatshop Edition, and linked sites. Read the posts and the comments. These sites are proliferating, with thousands of hits.

Look past the occasional vulgarity and disgusting pictures. Don’t dismiss the posters as whiners. To a person they accept responsibility for their poor decisions. But they make a strong case that something is deeply wrong with law schools."

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