Monday, May 30, 2011

Mullen: West Point cadets’ choice speaks of ‘courage’ | The Journal News |

Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been speaking very candidly about the isolation of the military from the bulk of our society. He continued in that vein at the West Point graduation three days ago.
Mullen: West Point cadets’ choice speaks of ‘courage’ | The Journal News |
"WEST POINT — Entering an Army that has been at war for nearly half their lives, graduating West Point cadets should work to make their fellow citizens understand the toll of defending the country, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

'I fear they do not know us,' Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told the class of 1,031 cadets. 'I fear they do not comprehend the full weight of the burden we carry or the price we pay when we return from battle.'"

Forgetting Why We Remember -

Forgetting Why We Remember -
by David W. Blight, a professor of history and the director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale, is the author of the forthcoming “American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era.”

 "At the end of the Civil War, Americans faced a formidable challenge: how to memorialize 625,000 dead soldiers, Northern and Southern. As Walt Whitman mused, it was “the dead, the dead, the dead — our dead — or South or North, ours all” that preoccupied the country. After all, if the same number of Americans per capita had died in Vietnam as died in the Civil War, four million names would be on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, instead of 58,000.

Officially, in the North, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 when the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization, called on communities to conduct grave-decorating ceremonies. On May 30, funereal events attracted thousands of people at hundreds of cemeteries in countless towns, cities and mere crossroads. By the 1870s, one could not live in an American town, North or South, and be unaware of the spring ritual"

Think Again: The Times’ Frank Bruni, or How to Succeed in Journalism Without Really Caring (About Issues)

Frank Bruni - foodie
Why the new Times op-ed columnist is as much of an airhead as he looks like in this picture. Masterful take-down by Eric Alterman of the Center for American Progress.
Think Again: The Times’ Frank Bruni, or How to Succeed in Journalism Without Really Caring (About Issues)

Against Learned Helplessness -

" Learned helplessness" is a brilliant new polemical phrase from Paul Krugman, who is not much of a phrase-maker.  It ranks up there with crackpot realism (ideas like  "mutual assured destruction" which at least had the right acronym - MAD).  Here it refers to the fact that "everyone knows" that we can't have a massive government jobs program (Yes, we can!), and that we can't write down consumer  debt (Yes, we can!  by inflating wages and prices).
Against Learned Helplessness -
by Paul Krugman
"The core of our economic problem is, instead, the debt — mainly mortgage debt — that households ran up during the bubble years of the last decade. Now that the bubble has burst, that debt is acting as a persistent drag on the economy, preventing any real recovery in employment. And once you realize that the overhang of private debt is the problem, you realize that there are a number of things that could be done about it.

For example, we could have W.P.A.-type programs putting the unemployed to work doing useful things like repairing roads — which would also, by raising incomes, make it easier for households to pay down debt. We could have a serious program of mortgage modification, reducing the debts of troubled homeowners. We could try to get inflation back up to the 4 percent rate that prevailed during Ronald Reagan’s second term, which would help to reduce the real burden of debt."

Friday, May 27, 2011

for context and explanation see Paul DeVanter, Off the Charts, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The Mideast Peace Process - Washington Makes Things Worse -

The Mideast Peace Process - Washington Makes Things Worse - "Only a few minutes after President Obama finished his carefully balanced speech on the Middle East last week, Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers began twisting his words to suggest that he was calling for an epochal abandonment of Israel."...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

sources of federal public debt

from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Words Romney might regret: - "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" -

Op-Ed Contributor - Let Detroit Go Bankrupt -
by Mitt Romney
October, 2008
"IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.".....

The readiness of the son of the late president of American Motors to let GM and Chrysler crater was a bold statement. But it's going to be hard to defend in Michigan if, as he hopes, Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

At Well-Paying Law Firms, Some Legal Help Comes More Cheaply -

WHEELING, W.Va. — The nation’s biggest law firms are creating a second tier of workers, stripping pay and prestige from one of the most coveted jobs in the business world.
At Well-Paying Law Firms, Some Legal Help Comes More Cheaply - "Make no mistake: These are full-fledged lawyers, not paralegals, and they do the same work traditional legal associates do. But they earn less than half the pay of their counterparts — usually around $60,000 — and they know from the outset they will never make partner.

Some of the lawyers who have taken these new jobs are putting the best face on their reduced status. “To me there’s not much of a difference between what I’m doing now and what I would be doing in a partner-track job,” said Mark Thompson, 29, who accepted a non-partner-track post at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe when he could not find a traditional associate job. “I still feel like I’m doing pretty high-level work — writing briefs, visiting client sites, prepping witnesses for hearings."

Poor N.J. districts must receive $500M more in school funding, state Supreme Court rules |

Poor N.J. districts must receive $500M more in school funding, state Supreme Court rules | "TRENTON — In a widely anticipated decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the state to spend an additional $500 million on public education in poor districts next year.
The complex decision does not boost funding statewide, as education advocates had requested, and may avoid creating a gaping hole in a proposed budget of $29.4 billion. The 3-2 ruling, however, revealed sharp disagreements among the five justices who heard the case and issued a total of four opinions.
Justices could have ordered up to $1.7 billion in additional statewide education spending. Today's ruling gives Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers some room to maneuver as they work to balance the state's budget by July 1
Christie will not defy court order

"We must acknowledge that money does not equal quality results," Christie said at a Statehouse press conference about an hour and a half after the decision was released.
He once again criticized the court by saying it's wrong for justices to say how the state should spend taxpayer dollars. But he made it clear he wouldn't fight the court order as he suggested during a radio talk show in April.
"I intend to comply with the Supreme Court's order," Christie said at a news conference "The constitutional ball is now in the Legislature's court."

The Times They Are A-Changin': Bob Dylan Turns 70 | TPM Photo Galleries

The Times They Are A-Changin': Bob Dylan Turns 70 | TPM Photo Galleries

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Is the legal academy relevant?

Legal Ethics Forum: A Footnote to Article on Philosophizing About Lawyers' Ethics: "From an article by Adam Liptak in today's NY Times:

'The justices had very little good to say about articles published in law reviews. 'What the academy is doing, as far as I can tell,' Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said, 'is largely of no use or interest to people who actually practice law.'"

There is an interesting series of comments to the post above.

Is that just Roberts' contempt for the liberalism that is believed to dominate the legal academy? I don't know. My law review articles have been cited by courts - but only one of them seems to really represent impact. But I can definitely say that I had an impact as a practicing lawyer. The evidence is in a series of precedent setting opinions in cases that we won.

My general impulse is to start muttering under my breath when a law professor says he is setting out to "reconceptualize" some aspect of the law. If you want to have an impact on the law, it is best to engage in the practice of law - which encourages an incremental approach. But in today's academy most have little experience of practice. What you don't know you don't value.

The structure of the academy institutionalizes it: clinical professors work on long term contracts. Academic professors have tenure and a vote.

A Proud Day for Obama | Talking Points Memo

Josh Marshall on President Obama's address today to AIPAC - the America Israel Political Action Committee:
A Proud Day for Obama | Talking Points Memo:
 "Sticks to commitment to policies that will secure Israel's future, even at the expense of opportunistic attacks and political controversy.
Obliquely and with respect to his audience, in his speech to AIPAC today, President Obama also responded to Prime Minister Netanyahu's repeated lies about what President Obama said only the day before.
Just as no man is an island, no country can be either. On its present course Israel is on its way to becoming a pariah state, a status in which it cannot indefinitely or even perhaps long survive. Neither the fact that Israel faces a profound cultural animosity among the region's Arab populations nor the bad faith that often greets its actions nor even the anti-Semitism that is sometimes beneath the animus changes this essential fact. The make-up of the 21st century world is simply not compatible with a perpetual military occupation of another people, especially one that crosses a boundary of ethnicity and religion. Only the willfully oblivious can't see that."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Harold Koh: The Lawfulness of the U.S. Operation Against Osama bin Laden

State Department Legal Advisor and former Yale law professor Harold Koh has mounted a defense of the bin Laden raid as a targeted action against a belligerent, which satisfied the principles of distinction and proportionality. It is, he writes, like the WWII attack on a Japanese who was the architect of the Pearl harbor attack.
Opinio Juris » Blog Archive » The Lawfulness of the U.S. Operation Against Osama bin Laden: "In conducting the bin Laden raid, the United States acted in full compliance with the legal principles previously set forth in a speech that I gave to the American Society of International Law on March 25, 2010, in which I confirmed that “[i]n …all of our operations involving the use of force, including those in the armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces, the Obama Administration is committed by word and deed to conducting ourselves in accordance with all applicable law.”"

John Lithgow performs epic Gingrich apologia on Colbert Report

Newt Gingrich had a very bad week.  His critique of the Ryan plan to phase out Medicare as "radical right wing social engineering" won celebratory embrace by Democrats and repudiation by Republican party-liners.  Gingrich's spokesman issued a press release so filled with heroic sentiment that it sounds like something from Homer celebrating Agamemnon.  John Lithgow took up the task on the Colbert report.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jacoby & Myers files suits in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut challenging nonlawyer ownership and investment restrictions

The ABA's Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.17 bars sale of a law practice to anyone other than a lawyer or law firm.  Model Rule 5.4 bars sharing of fees with a non-lawyer, and bars "partnership with a non-lawyer if any of the activities...consist of the practice of law."

Jacoby & Myers has challenged the bar in complaints filed ins everal jurisdictions.  The New Jersey complaint is HERE.

Isn't it remarkable that only a lawyer can own a law firm when anyone can own a hospital? Although I practiced as a small firm owner, isn't it logical to believe that a better-financed lawyer - one backed by an owner with substantial resources - is more likely to deliver competent services than a thinly-financed solo or small firm firm?
Legal Ethics Forum: Law firm files suits in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut challenging nonlawyer ownership and investment restrictions

Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa | The White House

Barack Obama speaking at the State Department, May 19, 2011
The President, in addressing the Israel-Palestine conflict in the context of the recent upheavals in the Arab world faced an enormous rhetorical and political challenge.  How to be an agent of change when hopping through a logjam.  He elected to be the American President - to tie the Boston tea party and Rosa Parks to the Tunisian jasmine revolution, and the Palestinian - and Israeli - causes via the common theme of self-determination:

...By the time we found bin Laden, al Qaeda’s agenda had come to be seen by the vast majority of the region as a dead end, and the people of the Middle East and North Africa had taken their future into their own hands.
That story of self-determination began six months ago in Tunisia.  On December 17th, a young vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi was devastated when a police officer confiscated his cart.  This was not unique.  It’s the same kind of humiliation that takes place every day in many parts of the world -– the relentless tyranny of governments that deny their citizens dignity.  Only this time, something different happened.  After local officials refused to hear his complaints, this young man, who had never been particularly active in politics, went to the headquarters of the provincial government, doused himself in fuel, and lit himself on fire.
There are times in the course of history when the actions of ordinary citizens spark movements for change because they speak to a longing for freedom that has been building up for years.  In America, think of the defiance of those patriots in Boston who refused to pay taxes to a King, or the dignity of Rosa Parks as she sat courageously in her seat.  So it was in Tunisia, as that vendor’s act of desperation tapped into the frustration felt throughout the country.  Hundreds of protesters took to the streets, then thousands.  And in the face of batons and sometimes bullets, they refused to go home –- day after day, week after week -- until a dictator of more than two decades finally left power.
The story of this revolution, and the ones that followed, should not have come as a surprise.  The nations of the Middle East and North Africa won their independence long ago, but in too many places their people did not.  In too many countries, power has been concentrated in the hands of a few.  In too many countries, a citizen like that young vendor had nowhere to turn  -– no honest judiciary to hear his case; no independent media to give him voice; no credible political party to represent his views; no free and fair election where he could choose his leader.
And this lack of self-determination –- the chance to make your life what you will –- has applied to the region’s economy as well.  Yes, some nations are blessed with wealth in oil and gas, and that has led to pockets of prosperity.  But in a global economy based on knowledge, based on innovation, no development strategy can be based solely upon what comes out of the ground. Nor can people reach their potential when you cannot start a business without paying a bribe.
In the face of these challenges, too many leaders in the region tried to direct their people’s grievances elsewhere.  The West was blamed as the source of all ills, a half-century after the end of colonialism.  Antagonism toward Israel became the only acceptable outlet for political expression.  Divisions of tribe, ethnicity and religious sect were manipulated as a means of holding on to power, or taking it away from somebody else.
But the events of the past six months show us that strategies of repression and strategies of diversion will not work anymore.  Satellite television and the Internet provide a window into the wider world -– a world of astonishing progress in places like India and Indonesia and Brazil.  Cell phones and social networks allow young people to connect and organize like never before.  And so a new generation has emerged.  And their voices tell us that change cannot be denied....Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa | The White House

Braun: Bringing N.J. schools' racial segregation into open |

Race - de facto segregation - is the rock against which northern school integration efforts met their death in the United States Supreme Court.  The turning point was Milliken v. Bradley (1974).  There the Supreme Court declared that metropolitan cross-district integration was impermissible - because the suburban districts were not guilty of intentional de jure (legal) segregation.  
The New Jersey Supreme Court wouldn't touch the issue either.  But they did undertake a work-around using the state constitutional guarantee of a "thorough and efficient" public school education.  Equalizing funding would, it was hoped, equalize outcomes between city and suburb.  It's the parents, not the money was a common cry to those who objected to the financial burden of equalization.  The subtext of the battle has always been race, de facto segregation that followed housing patterns and local control of schools.  The brewing confrontation between Gov. Chris Christie, a master of the politics of suburban resentment is bringing the underlying issues to the fore.  The Star ledger's Rober Braun reports:

Braun: Bringing N.J. schools' racial segregation into open | "'There always has been a sort of subterranean message working here — intended or not — that, maybe, if the state gives minority kids and their schools more money, they won’t press for solutions that end up with black kids in suburban schools and white kids in city schools,' says Paul Tractenberg, the Rutgers Law School professor who has studied the issue for decades.
The question now is, what happens if the money stops?"

哈佛欢迎你 Harvard Welcomes You

This video - 哈佛欢迎你 Hafo huanying ni! Harvard Welcomes You - is a Harvard student tribute to their elementary Mandarin teachers, and a takeoff on Beijing Welcomes You - the ubiquitous promotional video/audio track for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  

As James Fallows and his readers point out it is much easier to understand a foreign language when it is spoken by a NON-native speaker than by a native speaker.  In my Chinese class I find it easier to understand a native German-speaker than our Chinese teacher.  I suspect that it is because the phonemes of my native Anglo-Saxon are much closer to those of modern German than are the phonemes of spoken Mandarin Chinese.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sheila Birnbaum Chosen to Oversee 9/11 Health Fund -

Sheila Birnbaum, a passionate and skillful product liability defense lawyer, has been chosen to oversee the health claims fund created by last year's Zadroga bill for those who claim illness due to exposure to dust and debris at the site of the 9/11 catastrophe. Her choice was a disappointment to those who hoped a more plaintiff-oriented custodian would be selected. But the characteristic skepticism of the defense-minded is the trait that principals (here the USDOJ) look for in a trustee.

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Wednesday chose a special master to administer a multibillion-dollar fund created to provide financial compensation for rescue workers and others who became sick from toxic fumes, dust and smoke from ground zero after the 2001 attack.
Patrick Andrade for The New York Times
Sheila Birnbaum in 2009.
The appointment of Sheila L. Birnbaum, a lawyer specializing in tort cases who has mediated lawsuits brought by the families of 9/11 victims, represents a major step in the implementation of a law Congress passed late last year to reopen September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
“Sheila Birnbaum brings extensive experience, credibility and unique insight to this important role,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. “She has worked closely with, and won the trust of, the families of 9/11 victims with whom she worked.
The special master will have broad authority over the fund. The special master will help write the rules and procedures for the $2.8 billion fund, will supervise the fund’s staff and will personally approve the size of individual compensation packages people claiming that they are sick as a result of exposure to toxic dust and debris at ground zero.
“My first priority will be to sit down with the people who will be most affected by the program, and see how we can design a program that is fair, transparent and easy to navigate,” Ms. Birnbaum said in a statement.
Sheila Birnbaum Chosen to Oversee 9/11 Health Fund -

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Braun: N.J. Supreme Court lacking available justices to rule on school financing |

David Sciarra, Education Law Center attorney, arguing before
an NJ Supreme Court reduced by two recusals 
Braun: N.J. Supreme Court lacking available justices to rule on school financing |
by Robert Braun, The Star Ledger
"TRENTON — The New Jersey Supreme Court is soon expected to render a critically important decision on school finance, a decision that may be clouded by the reduced number of justices hearing the case and questions of why some members of the panel disqualified themselves from sitting in judgment and why one — Associate Justice Helen Hoens, whose husband works for the governor — did not.
'This is a very tricky set of circumstances,' says Robert Williams, a professor at Rutgers Law School in Camden who studies state constitutional law. 'A lot is at stake.'"

Sources: Raiders knew mission a one-shot deal - Navy News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Navy Times

Bin Laden's safe-house
Sources: Raiders knew mission a one-shot deal - Navy News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Navy Times: "WASHINGTON — Those who planned the secret mission to get Osama bin Laden in Pakistan knew it was a one-shot deal, and it nearly went terribly wrong.

The U.S. deliberately hid the operation from Pakistan, and predicted that national outrage over the breach of Pakistani sovereignty would make it impossible to try again if the raid on bin Laden’s suspected redoubt came up dry.

Once the raiders reached their target, things started to go awry almost immediately, officials briefed on the operation said.

Adding exclusive new details to the account of the assault on bin Laden’s hideout, officials described just how the SEAL raiders loudly ditched a foundering helicopter right outside bin Laden’s door, ruining the plan for a surprise assault. That forced them to abandon plans to run a squeeze play on bin Laden — simultaneously entering the house stealthily from the roof and the ground floor."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Christie beyond the pale

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie seeks to transform the New Jersey Supreme Court.  He objects strongly to two landmark liberal state constitutional rulings.  He recently personally attacked Justice Barry Albin who, at oral argument, asked if the Governor's veto of the so-called "millionaire's tax" did not create the budget shortfall which the Administration relies upon for its request to the Court to allow it to avoid the spending on urban education that the Court has mandated.
In the Mt. Laurel decisions, beginning in 1975, the state's Supreme Court ordered developing towns to make room for low income residents.  In Abbott v. Burke in 1997 the Court, again on state constitutional grounds, ordered a set of requirements that  schools must meet to satisfy the state's constitutional obligation to provide public school students with a "thorough and efficient" education.
The Abbott decision In the landmark Abbott IV (1997) and Abbott V (1998) rulings, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered a set of education programs and reforms widely recognized to be the most fair and just in the nation.  As told by the Education Law Center, the Abbott "education adequacy" framework includes:
  • Rigorous content standards-based education, supported by per-pupil funding equal to spending in successful suburban schools
  • Universal, well-planned and high quality preschool education for all three- and four-year olds
  • Supplemental ("at-risk") programs to address student and school needs attributed to high-poverty, including intensive early literacy, small class size and social and health services
  • New and rehabilitated facilities to adequately house all programs, relieve overcrowding, and eliminate health and safety violations
  • School and district reforms to improve curriculum and instruction, and for effective and efficient use of funds to enable students to achieve state standards
  • State accountability for effective and timely implementation, and to ensure progress in improving student achievement
     The goal of the Abbott programs and reforms goal is to give every child the opportunity to attain "his or her own place as a contributing member in society with the ability to compete with other citizens and to succeed in the economy." Abbott IV (1997)

In the latest of a series of editorials the New Jersey Law Journal editorial board lambasted Governor Christie:

At an April 26 town hall meeting in Hamilton, Gov. Chris Christie harshly criticized state Supreme Court Justice Barry Albin for having referred, during the recent oral arguments inAbbott v Burke , to the governor's decision not to extend the "millionaire's tax." The Court is considering whether the state has violated the "thorough and efficient" clause of our state constitution by shorting the education-funding law by $1.6 billion. The governor's insult is not only unfair but more importantly has no other purpose or effect than to diminish the Court as an institution.
The clear objective of the governor's remarks was to advance his longstanding argument that despite constitutional underpinnings, the Court has no business involving itself in school-funding issues, and that in doing so it is legislating from the bench. At oral arguments, the state insisted that education cuts were unavoidable as a consequence of the state's fiscal condition. Albin reminded the state's counsel that after the government committed to fully fund the new law, it then declined to extend the "millionaire's tax," which would have raised about a billion dollars in revenue. The point being that it's a bit disingenuous for the state to assert that it had no control over whether or not it could have fulfilled its commitment to meet its constitutional funding obligations, when it voluntarily — for whatever reason — reduced its revenue stream.
At the Hamilton meeting, Christie first claimed, incorrectly, that Albin urged the state to reinstate the millionaire's tax and spend the money on schools. Then, based on that erroneous assertion, the governor let loose a demonizing and personal barrage: "So let me understand this. A guy who wasn't elected by anybody to anything is now deciding what taxes should be raised, for what sector of our society, how much that tax should be raised and then as the kicker, where the revenue should be spent." Then, trying to mimic Albin's voice and imagining how Albin would respond if questioned by a taxpayer, he said: "Oh, I'm sorry. I'm a judge, I can't discuss it with you. I am a high and mighty judge." Then, Christie added: "But he can take his hand and put it in your pocket and take your money and you have no way to hold him accountable." He concluded: "So when I'm trying to change the Supreme Court, it's not just for philosophical reasons, it's [because] we need to reassert control of our own government."
In the context of the state's insistence that it cannot afford to fully fund public education, a question from one of the justices about the "millionaire's tax" was inevitable. Had the governor emulated his 10 predecessors in that office since the 1947 Constitution, he would have remained silent and awaited the Court's disposition. Instead, Christie, a smart former prosecutor, further reduced the political discourse in this state to the lowest national common denominator. The attack was all the more unseemly because Albin is ethically prohibited from even attempting to defend himself. But what makes the governor's comments so outrageous is that he ridiculed a sitting justice by distorting the meaning of Albin's comments at argument. The justice did not pass judgment on the merits of the "millionaire's tax," nor did he, by any stretch, suggest that the Court could decide who to tax, and for what. And if the governor heard the argument, he has to know that.
The damage, however, goes far beyond Justice Albin. The governor's remarks demonstrate, regrettably, that his interest in gaining a slick debate advantage outweighs his sense of responsibility to maintain separation of powers as the state's constitution contemplates. The governor's recent irresponsible and inflammatory comments in the same vein — that he might defy a Court decision with which he disagrees — have no purpose other than to denigrate and intimidate the Court and to gather public opinion against them. And these are not just words. Rather, Christie is making it clear — reinforcing the message he sent last year, when he refused to reappoint Justice Wallace — that he wants to put an end to our state's longstanding tradition of a strong, independent judiciary, an independence intended by the constitution's framers and one that has, in the past, won our judiciary national recognition.
Christie's penchant for blunt talk may have gained him a national audience, but it continues to threaten the stability of our state's commitment to sound government. His comments about Albin, and in suggesting he may defy the Court if it requires spending more than the state wants, suggests that the judiciary, the rule of law and the very essence of constitutional government in New Jersey are expendable if they stand in the governor's path. One can take a reasoned approach to either side in the Abbott case: These are hard decisions with much at stake. But there is no reasoned rationale for these toxic attempts to malign and destroy an institution that is so integral to the balance of power in our government. (c) American Lawyer Media 2011

My Law License: The Future Of The Legal Profession: How To Ethically Lie About Your Fake Office

If you practice from your iPad, maybe you shouldn't have a picture of an office building on your website.
My Law License: The Future Of The Legal Profession: How To Ethically Lie About Your Fake Office

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Chart That Should Accompany Every Discussion of Deficits - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

The Chart That Should Accompany Every Discussion of Deficits - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic"The very large, but permanent and worsening, budgetary impact of the 'Bush tax cuts' -- which when first proposed back in the pre-9/11 era, were supposed to end in 2010 and were in response to what back then seemed to be the 'problem' of a burgeoning surplus in federal accounts! Since 'extending' those cuts just sounds like business as usual, I think it is hard for most people to envision the profound and growing effect they have. The chart above helps toward that end -- and doesn't even go into how heavily those cuts are skewed to the 'haves' of society. Last year Austan Goolsbee had a marvelous chart of his own on that point."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Catholic Professors Criticize Boehner in Letter -

Catholic Professors Criticize Boehner in Letter - "More than 75 professors at Catholic University and other prominent Catholic colleges have written a pointed letter to Mr. Boehner saying that the Republican-supported budget he shepherded through the House of Representatives will hurt the poor, elderly and vulnerable, and therefore he has failed to uphold basic Catholic moral teaching.

“Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the Church’s most ancient moral teachings,” the letter says. “From the apostles to the present, the Magisterium of the Church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.”

The letter writers go on to criticize Mr. Boehner’s support for a budget that cut support for Medicare, Medicaid and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, while granting tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations. They call such policies “anti-life,” a particularly biting reference because the phrase is usually applied to politicians and others who support the right to abortion."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hackensack firm slapped with $950,000 judgment for releasing passport in international custody case -

Hackensack firm slapped with $950,000 judgment for releasing passport in international custody case -

N.J. A.G. - State high court "lacks enforcement power/

After only fifteen months as the state's Attorney General Paula Dow has picked up the Governor's in-your-face style. The Star Ledge reports:
N.J. lawmakers question Christie's refusal to restore $1.7B cuts to public education |

"An Assembly hearing on the state's law and public safety budget took a sharp turn into constitutional questions when legislators pressed Attorney General Paula Dow on Gov. Chris Christie's threat that he may defy the state Supreme Court on a school-funding case.

When asked whether the Supreme Court has defined enforcement powers, Dow responded, 'Last I heard they don't have a police force, I have one.'

The case in question could have serious budget ramifications. The state Supreme Court is weighing whether to compel Christie to restore $1.7 billion in funding to public education."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Christie refuses to talk about flouting N.J. Supreme Court if it orders more school funding |

Christie refuses to talk about flouting N.J. Supreme Court if it orders more school funding |
New Jersey "Gov. Chris Christie flashed with anger today when pressed on his recent remark that he could defy the state’s highest court if it orders him to send more money to public schools."

Krugman: The Unwisdom of Elites -

Paul Krugman on 
The Unwisdom of Elites - "What happened to the budget surplus the federal government had in 2000?

The answer is, three main things. First, there were the Bush tax cuts, which added roughly $2 trillion to the national debt over the last decade. Second, there were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which added an additional $1.1 trillion or so. And third was the Great Recession, which led both to a collapse in revenue and to a sharp rise in spending on unemployment insurance and other safety-net programs.

So who was responsible for these budget busters? It wasn’t the man in the street."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hospital injuries: little or no improvement over 10 years - — NEJM

Ten years ago, in the landmark report To Err is Human the Institute of Medicine reported the high rates of medical injuries - and low rates of malpractice actions. Reform was promised. A survey of 10 North Carolina hospitals shows that one in four hospital patients is harmed due to medical error.
Torts Today: Hospital injuries: little or no improvement over 10 years - — NEJM

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Respect: President Obama at Ground Zero

Christie refuses to talk about flouting N.J. Supreme Court if it orders more school funding |

Christie refuses to talk about flouting N.J. Supreme Court if it orders more school funding | "Gov. Chris Christie (R - N.J.) flashed with anger today when pressed on his recent remark that he could defy the state’s highest court if it orders him to send more money to public schools.
'No comment,' he said at a press conference to name a Newark school superintendent, visibly bristling when asked how seriously he is considering ignoring the state Supreme Court.
'I heard the question very clearly, and I don’t have any comment,' Christie repeated minutes later when pressed by a second reporter. 'If you just want to follow up on why I ‘no commented’ that, then my answer to you is no comment.'"

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Lost Opportunity for Public Health — The FDA Advisory Committee Report on Menthol | Health Policy and Reform

A Lost Opportunity for Public Health — The FDA Advisory Committee Report on Menthol | Health Policy and Reform: "Although some public health groups hailed as a public health victory the release of a report on menthol cigarettes by the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),1 close examination of the report and its recommendations reveals that it actually represents a huge victory for Lorillard, the manufacturer of the leading brand of menthol cigarettes (Newport) — and a disappointing setback for the health of black Americans."

When Justice Becomes Mere Technicality - Wendy Kaminer - The Atlantic

in war truth is the first casualty
Traditional law-and-order, lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key advocates have always harbored contempt for legal technicalities -- by which they mean the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights of the accused. But those rights have been eviscerated in the last 30 years. The war on terror delivered the coup de grace to any fundamental privacy and fair trial rights left intact by the war on drugs. These days, legal technicalities are more often invoked by judges and especially prosecutors -- not to imprison the guilty but to keep the not guilty from going free.

"A claim of actual innocence is not itself a constitutional claim," the late Chief Justice Rehnquist declared in a notorious 1993 death penalty case, rejecting a habeas petition based on evidence of innocence uncovered after the defendant's conviction of capital murder. As Justice Scalia observed in concurrence: "There is no basis ... for finding in the Constitution a right to demand judicial consideration of newly discovered evidence of innocence brought forward after conviction."...

When Justice Becomes Mere Technicality - Wendy Kaminer - National - The Atlantic

China laws limiting death penalty take effect

Amendments to Chinese criminal law which reduce by thirteen the number of capital offenses have taken effect. Actual impact is expected to be minor because the offenses are rarely tried as capital cases. Offenses include include non-violent and economic crimes such as tax fraud; financial fraud; smuggling of precious metals, cultural relics and rare animals; teaching of crime-committing methods and robbing ancient cultural ruins.
JURIST - Paper Chase: China laws limiting death penalty take effect

Monday, May 2, 2011

Justice has been done

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history.  The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory -- hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction. 
And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world.  The empty seat at the dinner table.  Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father.  Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace.  Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts....
President Barack  Hussein Obama, May 1, 2011
HERE is the complete text

A comment on the rhetoric
James Fallows is, as usual, on target in his rhetorical analysis.  The statement opens strongly: plainly (see the first two paragraphs, above).  There is too much first person (One "I ordered" was enough).  Fallows' critique of the closing is correct.  The recitation of the pledge of allegiance is dramatically and syntactically perfect: "...who we nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."   That was the place to say goodnight. Stop, look in the camera, turn and walk back down the corridor of power.  Adding "May God bless the United States of America" added a trite element that undercut the drama of the closing.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Popes and Sainthood - E.J. Dionne | Commonweal magazine

John Paul II
Building Block
by E.J. Dionne, Jr.
Pope John XXIII
The Vatican's decision to speed Pope John Paul II on the road to sainthood aroused great elation—and a backlash among Catholics who see the rush as unseemly. There is an obvious remedy that could bring contending Catholics together and send exactly the right message about the church's attitude toward the modern world: It's time to declare Pope John XXIII a saint.
Here's a prayer that Pope Benedict XVI uses this Sunday's beatification ceremonies for John Paul in Rome to announce that the Vatican is eager to complete the saint-making process for the good Pope John, the church's great modernizer who embraced democracy and religious freedom.And there is a natural link between the two papacies. When historians look back, John Paul's greatest achievements will inevitably be seen as liberal, in the broadest sense: his commitment to human rights and religious liberty, his calls for greater social justice, his embrace of workers' rights ("the priority of labor over capital"), and his strenuous opposition to religious prejudice. Recall that John Paul was the first pope—not counting St. Peter—to visit a synagogue, where he issued a ringing condemnation of anti-Semitism....
Building Block | Commonweal magazine