Saturday, December 31, 2011

Candor to the tribunal: SEC, Citigroup and Judge Rakoff

Candor to the tribunal is the command of common sense and RPC 3.3.  In the high profile clash between District Judge Jed Rakoff and the SEC the agency did not inform the Court of Appeals from whom it sought an emergency stay that the judge had accelerated the briefing schedule and that a ruling by the trial judge was imminent.  Nor did Rakoff know that the SEC, with Citigroup's concurrence, had sought the emergency stay.  One minute before Rakoff issued an order denying the application the higher court granted the stay without the benefit of Rakoff's reasoning.

The trial court found the SEC and Citigroup's conduct to be "apparently materially misleading" and ordered the parties to provide the trial judge with a copy of all filings related to the application.  The disputed order is Rakoff's rejection of a settlement and direction that the SEC and Citigroup prepare for trial. h/t Stephen Gillers/Legal Ethics Forum
Judge Rakoff Order of December 29, 2011

'via Blog this'

Friday, December 30, 2011

Why the election matters: protecting injured vets

The Department of Defense Does the Right Thing for Addicted Military Personnel « The Reality-Based Community:
by Keith Humphreys
"Tri-Care, DOD’s health insurance program, has historically refused to cover opiate substitution therapy (e.g., buprenorphine, methadone) for military personnel and family members who are addicted to pain killers and/or heroin. These life saving therapies not being covered is a tragedy and injustice at a time when addiction rates are soaring in the military.
Thankfully, DoD has wisely proposed to change Tri-Care’s insurance coverage for drug addiction treatment. This is a credit to the addiction medicine community who advocated from outside government for the change. It is also one of many reasons why elections matter: Obama-appointed officials in DoD, HHS and the White House drug policy office all pushed hard for this reform. As a result, the 9.6 million current and former military personnel and their families who are covered by Tri-Care will finally have access to evidence-based care for opiate addiction."
'via Blog this'

Fund will be created to reimburse plaintiff attorneys working on BP litigation |

Fund will be created to reimburse plaintiff attorneys working on BP litigation |

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has granted a hotly contested motion to create a fund that could eventually reimburse plaintiff attorneys for their work in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill litigation over the objections of several parties to the case.
Barbier's order does not actually award "common benefit fees," or the amount of money that the committee of plaintiff attorneys pressing the case for the benefit of all claimants would get to compensate them for their time and expenses.
Rather, it sets up a fund that would ultimately pay such fees, should they be awarded, and requires defendants and states in the case to begin holding back a percentage of any settlements as contributions to the fund.
A percentage of settlements reached through the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, the $20 billion fund administered by Washington mediator Kenneth Feinberg, will also be required to be contributed to the fund.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What America's Lawyers Earn - Magazine - ABA Journal

Was the Iraq war worth it? - Bacevich: war is "normal" now

The Council on Foreign Relations asked "Was the Iraq war worth it?" Andrew Bacevich deplores the narrow cost-benefit framing - and points to the vast consequences - including the `normalization' of the state of war. But that is the consequence not of the Iraq debacle but of the relentless succession of small wars - the U.S. interventions normalized by the Cold War. - GWC
Bacevich: After Iraq, War is U.S. – Global Public Square - Blogs:
"Yet in inviting a narrow cost-benefit analysis, the question-as-posed serves to understate the scope of the debacle engineered by the war's architects. The disastrous legacy of the Iraq War extends beyond treasure squandered and lives lost or shattered. Central to that legacy has been Washington's decisive and seemingly irrevocable abandonment of any semblance of self-restraint regarding the use of violence as an instrument of statecraft. With all remaining prudential, normative, and constitutional barriers to the use of force having now been set aside, war has become a normal condition, something that the great majority of Americans accept without complaint. War is U.S."
'via Blog this'

Matinicus shooting case closed - Stephen Betts - Rockland - Camden - Knox - VillageSoup Gazette

Matinicus Island, Gulf of Maine

Knox County Courthouse
Rockland, Maine 
This is the end for legal proceedings arising from a shooting on the dock at Matinicus Island. A bitter dispute arose about the territory fished by a mainlander. One fisherman was crippled by the gunshot. The shooter and an armed companion - his daughter - were acquitted in a trial by jury in Knox County Superior Court in 2010. The civil claims have been settled now, Stephen Betts of the Knox Gazette, reports. Lives have been altered - none for the better, the full truth is known only to the participants - and not to all of them. A sad moment on a gallant island in the Gulf of Maine. - GWC
Matinicus shooting case closed - Stephen Betts - Rockland - Camden - Knox - VillageSoup Gazette:
by Stephen Betts
"ROCKLAND — The final lawsuit stemming from a July 2009 shooting on Matinicus Island during a lobstering dispute has come to an end."

'via Blog this'

ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 | ABA Board of Governors / Commission on Ethics 20 20

Michael Traynor and Judith Miller chairs of the ABA Ethics 20/20 Commission report on the work so far. - GWC
ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 | ABA Board of Governors / Commission on Ethics 20 20:

The summary memorandum is HERE.

'via Blog this'

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Anti-Entitlement Strategy - Thomas Edsall - -

In a December 19 editorial in USA Today Mitt Romney delivered his counter to President Obama's progressive big thematic speech in Ossawotomie, Kansas.  Romney declared the choice is between an "Entitlement Society or an Opportunity society".  Obama framed the issue as whether we care for each other or pursue radical individualism.  So the opposing candidates (it's a given the Romney gets the GOP nod) agree on what they differ about.  Romney will run on the politics of resentment against Obama and the politics of hope (a job made much harder by the protracted difficulties and relentless opposition he has faced as President).  - GWC
The Anti-Entitlement Strategy -
by Thomas B. Edsall
(Journalism professor, Columbia University)
"Romney’s goal is to persuade swing voters of the imminent moral and material danger that Obama and the Democratic party pose. Here are three more lines from the Romney op-ed.
Over the past three years, Barack Obama has been replacing our merit-based society with an Entitlement Society.
If we continue on this course for another four years, we may pass the point of no return. We will have created a society that contains a sizable contingent of long-term jobless, dependent on government benefits for survival.
Government dependency can only foster passivity and sloth.
This is not the Republicanism of compassionate conservatism, far from it. In recent weeks, the former Massachusetts Governor has laid down a set of markers planting himself firmly on the right – just as Obama has begun to stake out a more leftward position. In outline, we are seeing the beginning of the general election campaign.
Romney’s adoption of an anti-entitlement strategy comes at a time when he appears to be looking up from the primaries toward Election Day, which suggests that his hard-line stance will be central to his campaign against Obama and not just a temporary maneuver. We are headed toward an ideological confrontation over the next 11 months of an intensity rarely seen in American political history."

President & Mrs. Obama - holiday message

Barack and Michelle Obama's Christmas message (which makes a special appeal for military families) is excellent.  Speaking as Christians they speak as members of the community - without a hint of  the "Christian nation" intolerance to which some yield. - GWC

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Medicaid Cuts Are Part of Larger Battle in Maine -

Paul LePage (Craig Dilger - NY Times)
Maine Governor Paul LePage, a guy with a rags to riches story, is a practitioner of the politics of resentment.  Quick with one liners of the Reaganesque`welfare cadillac' sort, he eases the way for draconian Medicaid cuts for those with no resources - like the childless adults whose eligibility for assisted living he would end.  The Times reports: - GWC
Medicaid Cuts Are Part of Larger Battle in Maine -

"AUGUSTA, Me. — At a town hall meeting in the rural western part of the state last week, a woman asked Gov. Paul R. LePage if he could confirm a worrying rumor she had heard: that poor out-of-staters flock here because the public benefits are so generous.

Yes, he could. “If you come across from New Hampshire at 8 o’clock in the morning, by 4 o’clock in the afternoon you will have subsidized housing in the state of Maine,” the governor declared. “We need to change the rules.”"

This month Mr. LePage announced a plan to reduce Maine’s Medicaid rolls by 65,000 people — about 18 percent of the total. He is asking the Republican-controlled Legislature to make childless adults and all 19- and 20-year-olds ineligible for the program, known asMaineCare, and to tighten income requirements for parents. He also wants to eliminate an array of optional benefits, including dental care and room and board at assisted living centers.
'via Blog this'

Judges Cancel Case Assignment Experiment - Law Blog - WSJ

Loretta Preska - Chief Judge of the federal District Court in Manhattan has announced an amendment to the court's procedures. She has ordered revocation of the rule that a single judge shall handle all cases - civil and criminal - that arise from related transactions. This rule has enabled Judge Jed Rakoff to bring before him all the cases related to the SPIC v. Wilpon cases arising from the Madoff ponzi scheme. There appears to be a sense that Rakoff's high-profile may have gotten a little too high. - GWC
Judges Cancel Case Assignment Experiment - Law Blog - WSJ:

'via Blog this'

Friday, December 23, 2011


by Citizens for Tax Justice
"GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's personal wealth, estimated at $190 to $250 million, has been in the news a lot lately, including the sweet retirement deal he negotiated with Bain Capital, the private equity firm he used to head. The stories confirm CTJ director Bob McIntyre's comments to Time Magazine that Romney's multi-million dollar income is likely taxed at the special low 15 percent rate imposed on dividends and long-term capital gains.

This makes Romney a good poster child for the "Buffett Rule," the principle that millionaires should not pay lower effective tax rates than middle-income people. One step towards implementing the Buffet Rule is to close the loophole that allows "carried interest" (the fund managers' share of the deal they get as compensation) to be taxed at the 15 percent rate even though it is not truly capital gain."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Getting the Facts Straight: Payroll Tax Edition — The Monkey Cage

Nolan McCarty, Princeton political scientist, explains how the Republicans and the Democrats get it wrong about consequence of cutting the Social Security payroll tax. The Republicans lie - claiming the cuts endanger seniors' benefits. (he explains).  But the Dems just say the shortfall will be made up from "general revenues".  They miss the opportunity to explain how the Social Security system actually works.  It is not a pension you fund with your taxes.  Social Security is an inter-generational transfer tax (we are paying our parents benefits with our current taxes).
A candid explanation is 1) the cuts get "paid for" by the government borrowing the money to pay the Social Security trust fund. 2) the surplus built up during the baby-boomer's working years will run out in/about 2025 when the pyramid turns upside down.
This is because Social Security payroll taxes are and have been too low. Payroll income above $110,000 is not taxed for social security purposes. That mistake was made 20 years ago and Republicans - who are hostile to the very idea of Social Security - have refused to allow the "cap" to rise for the past 22 years (read my lips, the Grover Norquist pledge, etc.) And of course Democrats intimidated by the popular appeal of lower taxes have been complicit in this.
'via Blog this'

Firm hired to evaluate Ken Feinberg's oil spill claims process |

Despite the campaign rhetoric that the Obama administration is committed to excessive regulation, it finds itself without an established mechanism to govern or assess the response by BP to its statutory obligation to pay compensation for both interim and permanent losses to those who suffered losses due to the Gulf oil spill which damaged natural resources and led to widespread economic dislocations.   The Times-Picayune reports: - GWC
The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday selected a New York consulting and investigations firm to evaluate Kenneth Feinberg's oil spill claims process. Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perrelli sent a letter Wednesday to BDO Consulting's offices in New York and Houston urging the firm to immediately begin its review and report its findings by March.
ken_feinberg_mathews.jpgKenneth Feinberg at a meeting in Lafourche Parish in March.
"Where it has performed well, the people of the Gulf deserve to know that they have been fairly served," Perrelli wrote, referring to the Feinberg-run Gulf Coast Claims Facility. "Where it has fallen short, we must take appropriate steps to ensure that victims of the oil spill are fairly treated and properly compensated."
Feinberg has welcomed the independent evaluation and already agreed to pay for it. That caused Perrelli to warn BDO that it must stay "fully independent" from the GCCF. "While Mr. Feinberg has agreed that the GCCF will pay the costs associated with the review, your work will be overseen and directed by the Department of Justice," the letter said.

Firm hired to evaluate Ken Feinberg's oil spill claims process |

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reality. What a Concept? | Talking Points Memo


No one disagrees at this point that the politics of the payroll tax stand-off is awful for Republicans. But in the midst of that realization there is chatter from folks at the Journal and a lot of flotsamy pundits to the effect that it is a dramatic political failure that Republicans have managed to make President Obama into the champion of tax cuts for average Americans.

To say that it is a stunning political failure suggests that the impression is wildly out of line with objective reality. But that’s not true. The President has been pushing middle and lower-middle class tax relief as the most viable (at least the most politically viable) path for stimulus. He’s redoubled on it in the last six months. But it was actually a major part of his original stimulus bill that passed with no Republican support in the House and virtually none in the Senate. Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans have been pushing a mix of budget cutting and tax cuts for high income voters. And they still are.

There’s nothing surprising about this. This is and has been a big focus of the President’s. Republicans have either ignored it or actively opposed it. They’ve just got it down to a pivot where it’s really obvious who is blocking it. It’s just reality. There’s nothing clever about it.


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of T

Reality. What a Concept? | Talking Points Memo:

'via Blog this'

PrawfsBlawg: Cavazos v Smith I

PrawfsBlawg: Cavazos v Smith I:

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christopher Hitchens - unlamented

Christopher Hitchens died last week and the commentariat has been awash in adulatory obits, with a handful of exceptions, such as The Nation's Katha Pollitt (who recognizes he was a slanderer, a drunk and a bully but nonetheless finds kind words to speak of the dead man).  Maybe he was rhetorically brilliant and rapier witted.  But I signed off on him a long time ago.  Hitchens was, in my view, an enemy of the left, even while he claimed to be of it.  The only consistent theme in his thinking was stridency.

An exemplar of the nastiest characteristics of the British upperclass, his left phase was as part of the Trotskyite International Socialists whose principal targets have always been on the left - whether the communist parties which were denounced as "state capitalist" or the social democratic parties which are denounced as sell-outs.  This was a very comfortable posture for a Tory who was going through his "left phase".

But when the big test of his political life came he was firmly on the wrong side.  He was an unrepentant celebrant of the second Iraq war, as can be seen in this essay A War to be Proud Of which appeared in the Weekly Standard in 2005 - long after it was plain that this was a war to be ashamed of.

In his late phase as an iconoclastic atheist he was able to avoid the problem of his central moral failure by famously debating under BBC auspices the similarly flawed Catholic convert Tony Blair on the topic of whether religion plays a positive social role.

The Congressional Quagmire - David Frum

David Frum is a very smart guy who is at war with himself.  It's not that he is a RINO like conservatives charge.  It's that his Republican Party - the one that preceded Richard Nixon and the southern strategy - doesn't exist anymore, and cannot be willed back to life.  So it leaves him and Michael Bloomberg virtually homeless.  And he is too smart to go for the `third party' dead end. - GWC
Congressional Quagmire | FrumForum:
by David Frum
"Why do we have to agree now on how to balance the budget later? Isn’t emerging from this economic slump a big enough challenge? No creditor is demanding an early budget-balance plan. On the contrary, the world is eager to lend the US money at bargain rates. Congress is so consumed by tomorrow’s problem that it will not address today’s crisis.
This is the real-world consequence of the wrong idea introduced to US politics that it is debts and deficits that caused the slump, rather than the other way around. For the moment, it’s all farcical. It could easily turn tragic."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Virtual Law Offices OK'd by California State Bar

The California State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct has issued an advisory Draft Formal Opinion Interim No. 10-0003. It answers this question:
May an attorney maintain a virtual law office practice (“VLO”) and still comply with her ethical obligations, if the communications with the client, and storage of and access to all information about the client’s matter, are all conducted solely through the internet using the secure computer servers of a third-party vendor (i.e., “cloud computing”)?
The short answer is Yes.  But additional diligence may be required to assure confidentiality of communications and safeguarding of client data.

'via Blog this'

Competition hasn’t worked in health care - The Washington Post

The Ron Wyden(D-OR) - Paul Ryan(R-WI) "bipartisan" compromise on health care would be disaster. Ezra Klein explains. - GWC
by Ezra Klein
Competition hasn’t worked in health care - The Washington Post
: "Republicans and Democrats have the same problem with the Congressional Budget Office: it refuses to score competition between health-care plans as a surefire way to lower the cost of health care.

This annoyed Democrats during the health-care reform debate, as it meant the Affordable Care Act didn’t get any credit for the competition it would foster on its exchanges. It’s annoying Republicans now, as it means their Medicare-reform plans need to impose blunt spending caps if the CBO to certify them as deficit reducing.

But the CBO is in the right here: No matter how much sense competition makes in theory, no matter how obvious it is that it will drive down the price of health care, the fact is that it keeps failing when we put it into practice."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, December 17, 2011

For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.’s Way -

It's common sense: there are too many lawyers: except that when you look at it most people are underserved.  So there aren't enough lawyers - not enough that ordinary people can reach to get the advice they need.  One reason: the cost of legal education.  Some blame the ABA.  Others (including me) blame the steady cutbacks in suppport for public universities.  The Times keeps after the ABA. - GWC
by David Segal For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.’s Way -
"THE library at the Duncan School of Law may look like nothing more than 4,000 hardbacks in a medium-size room, but it is actually a high-tech experiment in cost containment. Most of its resources are online, and staples like Wright & Miller’s Federal Practice and Procedure — $3,596 for the multivolume set — are not here.
“We have a core collection,” says Sydney Beckman, the school’s dean, “and if someone needs something else, we provide it.”
Duncan, which opened two years ago, has 187 enrollees, all of whom have wagered that this library — and everything else about the school — is up to scratch. Because before these students can practice in every state, Duncan needs the seal of approval of the American Bar Association, the government-anointed regulator of law schools."

'via Blog this'

NJLJ - Gingrich plan threatens judicial independence

The New Jersey Law Journal editorial board, in a rare statement addressed to a candidate for office, sharply criticizes former Speaker Newt Gingrich. - GWC
Copyright ALM media 2011.  Reprinted with permission.  No further reproduction without permission . 

Triumph or Tragedy?

The Norman Rockwell painting of an African-American child escorted to school by a federal marshal is an iconic image of the shame of segregation and the triumph of justice, of federal supremacy over local intolerance as the judgment of Brown v. Board of Education was enforced in Little Rock, Arkansas. Repudiating the defiance of segregationist Gov. Orville Faubus, the Supreme Court declared inCooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1 (1958):
"Article VI of the Constitution makes the Constitution the 'supreme Law of the Land.' In 1803, Chief Justice Marshall, speaking for a unanimous Court, referring to the Constitution as 'the fundamental and paramount law of the nation,' declared in the notable case of Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 5 U. S. 177, that 'It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.' This decision declared the basic principle that the federal judiciary is supreme in the exposition of the law of the Constitution, and that principle has ever since been respected by this Court and the Country as a permanent and indispensable feature of our constitutional system."
But that moment of triumph — of finally realizing the power of the post-Civil War 14th Amendment — was not triumph but tragedy, according to presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich. In Position Paper No. 9 of his "21st Century Contract with America," he writes that he would reverse what we have all considered to a fundamental element of our constitutional system — judicial review:
"In the fifty-three years since Cooper v. Aaron, the Supreme Court has become a permanent constitutional convention in which the whims of five appointed judges have rewritten the meaning of the Constitution and assigned to themselves the last word in the American political process. Under this new all-powerful model of judicial supremacy, the Supreme Court — and by extension the trail-blazing Ninth Circuit Court and even some bold or arrogant district judges — federal judges have been able to redefine the Constitution and the law unchecked by the other two co-equal branches of government."
We disagree. The Constitution, for better or for worse, means what the Court says it means. The principle of judicial independence demands that we accept that precept, even when we think a Court decision is wrong. In such a circumstance the Constitution itself provides a narrow, rarely achievable mechanism for amendment.
Politics too provides a legitimate route to change: a president may appoint and the Senate may confirm as judges men and women who will revisit questions previous confronted. We recognize the frustrations of this system. As readers of this page know well, we have often disagreed with Court decisions. But while we criticize the Court, we will defend its independence against attacks from either end of the political spectrum. We wish, most likely in vain, that all of the candidates in 2012 would do the same.
December 17, 2011

The Nullification Chronicles Roll On - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

John Calhoun- architect
of nullification
The Congress is finally moving ahead on a budget bill and a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut. End of obstructionism and modern "nullification"? Unfortunately no.

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post explains again why obstructionism creates public hostility to both Democrats and Republicans, but eventually makes sense as a pure-political strategy for the GOP since a failure to govern inevitably weakens the incumbent president most of all.

This is really the way to run a modern country.The Nullification Chronicles Roll On - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic:

'via Blog this'

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sources of the National Debt

Since the umpteenth Republican Presidential Debate is tonight (sponsored by Fox News)  and there is certain to be misrepresentation about the Obama administration's economic policies.  So here's a chart to rebut some of it. (for the full size chart click HERE)

Newt Gingrich: end of the surge | Comment is free |

The Newt bubble is popping.
And NO, Ron Paul will not be the Republican nominee.

Get ready for Mitt Romney. - GWC
Newt Gingrich: end of the surge | Comment is free |
by Josh Marshall/Talking Points memo
"We've officially reached the end of the Newt Surge and – whether the data support the thesis or not – moved on to the Establishment Counter-attack. After a week or so of stunned silence, the Republican establishment, under the very uneasy leadership of Mitt Romney, has roused to the unavoidable truth (now backed up by hard data) that nominating Newt Gingrich means all but giving up any chance of taking the presidency in 2012."

'via Blog this'

It’s Almost Time to Dream About What We Would Like Law Schools to Look Like— Last Installment on the History of Legal Education « SALTLAW

Last of a four part series on legal education in America. - GWC
It’s Almost Time to Dream About What We Would Like Law Schools to Look Like— Last Installment on the History of Legal Education « SALTLAW:
by Hazel Weiser
Society of American law Teachers
"Perhaps it is time for all of us to ask the question: what does it mean to be a lawyer? As we go through this final year of the comprehensive review of standards governing law schools, perhaps we need to reexamine the concept of the “citizen lawyer” proposed by Thomas Jefferson: a class of residents who will act in the public good and not just for private gain"

'via Blog this'

Marines’ Haditha Interviews Found in Iraqi Junkyard -

Marines interview transcripts
were found in this trailer 
By chance (though luck is the residue of design) a New York Times reporter saved 400 classified documents from the flames - official U.S. investigation of the killings of civilians in Haditha, Iraq. Evidence of U.S. soldiers traumatized and embittered by war. Never brought to justice, that escape embittered the Iraqis who refused to allow American soldiers to stay unless they would be subject to Iraqi justice. A deep irony for those, like me, who have traveled abroad to lecture on the virtues of American justice. - GWC
Marines’ Haditha Interviews Found in Iraqi Junkyard -
by Michael S. Schmidt
"BAGHDAD — One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America’s time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

China’s Latest Legal Crackdown - U.S. - Asia Law Institute

this piece appeared first in the Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal. - GWC
China’s Latest Legal Crackdown - U.S. - Asia Law Institute:
by Jerome Cohen
"Before the end of this month, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will review the second draft of a proposal for comprehensive revisions to China’s Criminal Procedure Law. Despite some tweaks made under public pressure, it’s clear the revisions will be one step forward and two steps back for justice, at least for the politically controversial."

'via Blog this'

Do GOP Voters Care About Electability? — The Monkey Cage

The short answer is YES. The Intrade market shows Romney to be the most electable.  When GOP voters learn that they move sharply in his direction.
Do GOP Voters Care About Electability? — The Monkey Cage:

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Torts Today: Arizona v. United States : SCOTUSblog

Torts Today: Arizona v. United States : SCOTUSblog:

'via Blog this'

The indebted lawyer: Brian Tamanaha - Balkinization

When I started law school in 1970 Boston University (which I turned down for Rutgers) cost $2,500/year.  My first law job (as a business rep doing arbitration at Actors Equity) paid $13,500 - almost twice the cost of a private law school.  Today law school costs nearly $150,000 and the average salary is $65,000 +/-.  - GWC
Balkinization: by Brian Tamanaha
"Some of the recent criticism of law schools, including the article in the Times, has had anti-intellectual overtones. That is unfortunate. But it is not anti-intellectual to criticize legal education for being too costly for 45,000 law students (annually) nationwide because ABA/AALS accreditation standards impose the same "research university" model on all law schools. (As the author of six books in legal theory/law and society, it goes without saying that I value intellectual pursuits.)
Legal academics have responded to recent criticisms defensively or apologetically or defiantly. That is all beside the point. We should instead acknowledge that there is a serious problem with the economic structure of legal education and look for ways to solve it."

'via Blog this'

Gingrich: The cartoon professor

The degraded Republican Party debates are a reality TV show version of genuine debates - like that among the 2008 Democratic candidates who actually debated three different health care plans - Hillary Clinton's, John Edwards's excellent plan, and Barack Obama's [which lacked the individual mandate Edwards and Clinton said was necessary].
Now that Herman Cain is gone and Rick Perry reduced to an SNL character we have the rise of the insufferable Newt Gingrich (whose bubble will burst - before November 2012, and probably before the GOP convention).  Stephen Budiansky does an excellent take-down.  Read the whole thing, not just the block quote below. - GWC
Stephen Budiansky's Liberal Curmudgeon Blog: The cartoon professor:

"I have been perplexed for some time why Newt Gingrich is routinely acknowledged even by his bitter enemies within the Republican Party as a "genius," but the answer turns out is simple: he acts exactly like one of those obnoxious elitist intellectual know-it-alls that the right-wing no-nothings think is the hallmark of an intellectual. He is constantly reminding us of his doctorate in history; he routinely claims he understands issues more deeply than anyone else; he has made a career of denouncing or (when he had the authority) eliminating professional expertise that might challenge his own certain pronouncements; and he is a veritable fount of crackpot "big" ideas (mining minerals on the moon, protecting the United States from sci-fi doomsday scenarios, and "fundamentally transforming" everything as a first step to doing anything."

Read more: Steve Budiansky's Liberal Curmudgeon Blog

h/t James Fallows
'via Blog this'

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Republican Doubles-Down on Nullification - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

James Fallows is sounding the alarm on the routinization of the filibuster - an anti-majoritarian tactic permitted by Senate rules - and embraced with historically unprecedented frequency by the Mitch McConnell-led Republican Senate minority; and the just-say-no approach of the Republican majority in the House. Fallows calls it nullification: the adoption of a practice of refusal to cooperate: e.g. the rejection of Richard Cordray as director of the Conumer Financial Protection Bureau. - GWC
A Republican Doubles-Down on Nullification - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic:

'via Blog this'

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Economist's View: "Structural Adjustment for the Middle Class?"

Economist's View: "Structural Adjustment for the Middle Class?":

'via Blog this'

Newt Gingrich - overturning Marbury v. Madison and judicial review

The Norman Rockwell painting of an African American child escorted to school by a federal marshal is an iconic image of shame and the triumph of justice, of federal supremacy over local intolerance as the judgment of Brown v. Board of Education was enforced in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Repudiating the defiance of segregationist Governor Orville Faubus, the Supreme Court declared in Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1 (1958):
Article VI of the Constitution makes the Constitution the "supreme Law of the Land." In 1803, Chief Justice Marshall, speaking for a unanimous Court, referring to the Constitution as "the fundamental and paramount law of the nation," declared in the notable case of Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 5 U. S. 177, that "It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is." This decision declared the basic principle that the federal judiciary is supreme in the exposition of the law of the Constitution, and that principle has ever since been respected by this Court and the Country as a permanent and indispensable feature of our constitutional system.
But that moment of triumph - of finally realizing the power of the post-Civil War 14th Amendment,  was not triumph but tragedy  for Newt  Gingrich.  In Position Paper No. 9 of his "21st Century Contract with America" Newt Gingrich writes with his characteristic hyperbole that he would reverse what we have all considered to be a fundamental element of our constitutional system - judicial review:
In the fifty-three years since Cooper v. Aaron, the Supreme Court has become a permanent constitutional convention in which the whims of five appointed judges have rewritten the meaning of the Constitution and assigned to themselves the last word in the American political process. Under this new all-powerful model of judicial supremacy, the Supreme Court -- and by extension the trail-blazing Ninth Circuit Court and even some bold or arrogant district judges — federal judges have been able to redefine the Constitution and the law unchecked by the other two co-equal branches of government.
 A link to the full paper is below.  For Gingrich the Constitution means whatever he wants it to mean.

Bringing the Courts Back Under the Constitution NEWT 2012 Position Paper SupportingItem No. 9 of the 21st Century Contract with America:Restore the proper role of the judicial branch by using the clearly delineated Constitutional powers available to the president and Congress to correct, limit, or replace judges who violate the Constitution.

Republican Senators Refuse To Allow Confirmation Vote On Richard Cordray, Nominee For CFPB. Obama Vows To Fight. | The New Republic

Richard Cordray -Consumer Protection  nominee filibustered
As James Fallows has pointed out - we are facing the "new nullification": the Republicans' use of their Senate minority to turn the Senate into a body that requires a 2/3 majority.  Their sheer obstructionism distorts the constitutional scheme. - GWC
"The Senate on Thursday took up the nomination of Richard Cordray, President Obama’s choice to lead the new consumer protection board. It did not vote to confirm him. The outcome isn’t at all surprising. But it’s important to take a step back and understand just what is happening here, because Republicans aren't simply weakening consumer protection. They're also weakening American democracy"
Republican Senators Refuse To Allow Confirmation Vote On Richard Cordray, Nominee For CFPB. Obama Vows To Fight. | The New Republic:

'via Blog this'

Do Palestinians Teach Their Children to Hate?

One of the frustrating things about watching the Republican Presidential debates is that almost any lie can be told if it is part of the alternate culture in which they live. Among tonight's frustrating moments was the claim by Michelle Bachmann that Palestinian school books teach children to hate by counting dead Jews. That myth has bee debunked by Nathan J. Brown, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University.
Do Palestinians Teach Their Children to Hate?:

'via Blog this'

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A larger welfare state can mean a lower deficit - Ezra Klein - WaPo

A larger welfare state can mean a lower deficit - The Washington Post:
by Ezra Klein
"...the United States’s debt burden is the product of an insufficiently large welfare state — at least with regard to health care. To see a stark illustration of that thesis, head to the Web site of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and download their health-care statistics for Canada and the United States.As recently as 1965, the cost of those two systems competed neck-and-neck. That year, Canada spent 5.9 percent of its GDP on health care. The United States spent 5.7 percent. But around that time, Canada was transitioning to its current single-payer system.
Over the next four decades, the growth of health-care costs slowed in Canada while it accelerated in the United States. By 2009, Canada was spending 11 percent of its GDP on health care — and covering everyone. The United States was spending 17.4 percent of its GDP and leaving 45 million uninsured. In dollar terms, we’re spending $3,600 more per person, per year, than Canada.If the United States had Canada’s health-care system, and Canada’s per capita health-care costs, we would have a much “larger” welfare state, but we wouldn’t have a deficit problem. Assuming we weren’t spending that money elsewhere, we wouldn’t even have a deficit."

'via Blog this'

A plain blog about politics: Recess Review

Today's rejection of Richard Cordray to head up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Republicans have blocked by invoking the 60-vote filibuster rule left President Obama a few options:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

ABA takes charge of Law School Grads' Employment Data

headerIn a marked change the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar - which has a quasi-monopoly hold on legal education requirements - will take direct responsibility for law school graduates's employment data.  Several schools have been sued for posting misleading data and the financial crisis has focused attention on the problems of debt-burdened law grads unable to find sufficiently lucrative employment.  The December 3 ABA Section Council Statement's key changes, according to American Lawyer Media (ALM) are:
• Law schools will report their graduate employment and salary data directly to the ABA, rather than through the National Association of Law Placement. 
• Graduate employment information will be made available to the public faster. Instead of being published two years after a particular class graduates, the data will be collected earlier in the year and will be made public approximately one year after graduation. 
• Law schools will have to report whether graduates are in jobs funded by the schools, themselves. They will have to stipulate whether graduates are in jobs requiring bar passage; positions for which J.D.s are an advantage; professional positions that do not require a J.D.; non-professional positions; and whether jobs are long-term or short-term.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

President Obama: "In America, We Are Greater Together" | The White House

In the most important economic speech of his presidency, Barack Obama went to Osawatomie Kansas to channel Teddy Roosevelt's  speech a century ago.  For the first time, as Robert Reich observed, a President addressed directly both the political ideology and the structural economic challenges that threaten America's favorite self-image: land of opportunity.  In one of the highlights of a speech (HERE is the transcript) that should be read, the President said:
"But this isn’t just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make or break moment for the middle class, and all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. At stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement.
Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that have stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for too many years. Their philosophy is simple: we are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.
Well, I’m here to say they are wrong." VIDEO of this highlight

'via Blog this'

Hey, Reporters (Filibuster Vocabulary Edition) - Jonathan Bernstein/ A Plain blog

A plain blog about politics: Hey, Reporters (Filibuster Vocabulary Edition):
by Jonathan Bernstein
Remember, Senate Republicans -- breaking with precedent -- declared as soon as Barack Obama was elected that they would institute a true 60 vote Senate, which means that they have resolved to filibuster ever single bill and every single nomination, something that has never been done before. And they've followed through; I believe that they did allow one nomination to get through without 60 votes this year, but that's about it.

'via Blog this'

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gingrich Ranks His Brain: As Smart as Reagan, Smarter Than Fox News - Politics - The Atlantic Wire

Gingrich said his long absence from elected office could actually work in his favor, as he explained to The New York Times Magazine in 2009. Gingrich siad he buys into the theory of English writer Arnold J. Toynbee that leaders have to go away for a while before they can come back and lead. “I believe in the sense that, you know, De Gaulle had to go to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises for 11 years ... Departure and return. And someone once said to me, if you don’t leave, you can’t come back, because you’ve never left."
I promise that I won't obsessively post articles about what a fruitcake Newt is. But just for its archival value, this post by The Atlantic covers a good deal of his megalomania.- GWC
Gingrich Ranks His Brain: As Smart as Reagan, Smarter Than Fox News - Politics - The Atlantic Wire:

'via Blog this'

Rubio’s False Bio: Why It Matters | FrumForum

Sen. Marco Rubio
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is on the shortlist of many for VP.  But he was recently busted for claiming on his Senate website that his parents fled Castro.  Actually they came here when Castro was in exile - before he returned to the island to begin a guerrilla war in the mountains.
Rubio offered an implausible explanation:
 “My understanding of my parents’ journey has always been based on what they told me about events that took place more than 50 years ago — more than a decade before I was born. What they described was not a timeline, or specific dates.”

Really? They were never clear to you - an aspiring politician - and you never asked  What happened to you under Castro?  When? Why?  How you did you flee? And what did you do when you got here?   Actually the answer is clear: he lied about his family history and he lied when he got caught because central to his public identity is the anti-communist street cred that comes from being from a Cuban family that "fled communism".  Being from a family that immigrated to America to improve their economic situation is problematic for a Tea Party favorite these days.
Rubio’s False Bio: Why It Matters | FrumForum:

'via Blog this'

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- November 2011 - Kaiser Family Foundation

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- November 2011 - Kaiser Family Foundation: "After taking a negative turn in October, the public's overall views on the ACA returned to a more mixed status this month. Still, Americans remain somewhat more likely to have an unfavorable view of the law (44%) than a favorable one (37%).
The survey also finds that individual elements of the law are viewed favorably by a majority of the public. The law's most popular element, viewed favorably by more than eight in ten (84%) and "very" favorably by six in ten, is the requirement that health plans provide easy-to-understand benefit summaries. Also extremely popular are provisions that would award tax credits for small businesses (80% favorable, including 45% very favorable) and provide subsidies to help some individuals buy coverage (75% favorable, including 44% very favorable), as well as the provision that would gradually close the Medicare doughnut hole (74% favorable, including 46% very favorable) and the "guaranteed issue" requirement that prohibits health plans from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions (67% favorable, including 47% “very” favorable)."

'via Blog this'