Sunday, March 31, 2013

From Enemy to Brother - John Connelly

Cover: From Enemy to Brother in HARDCOVER 

There is one other event which transcends the limits of the year, since it is measured in centuries and millennia in the history of this city and of this Church. I thank Divine Providence that I was able to visit our "elder brothers" in the faith of Abraham in their Roman Synagogue! Blessed be the God of our fathers! The God of peace!
Pope John Paul, II December 31, 1986 
How did this epochal change of understanding and its particular expression of brotherhood come to pass, this official, and personal Papal renunciation of centuries of Christian disparagement of Jews and Judaism?  John Connelly, UC Berkeley historian, finds its roots in the efforts of Catholic intellectuals - largely converts - from the border regions of northern and central Europe.  In his much lauded  intellectual history From Enemy to Brother  Connelly justifies his subtitle `The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews 1933 - 1965'.
It is a brilliant intellectual history locating the origins of the change in Austrian and central European Catholic intellectuals who fought Nazi racism and sought to respond appropriately to the Holocaust.  The struggle was not a liberal repudiation of racism nor was it a simple repetition of "love your neighbor".  It yielded an epochal theological embrace - that Judaism is the root, and Christianity a branch grafted to the root.  They finally accomplished a revolution at Vatican II, abolishing the "mission to the Jews" and transforming the relation of Christian to Jew as an ecumenical one of equals, not of evangelist to stranger.

At the center of the narrative are Johannes Osterreicher - an Austrian Jewish convert and Karl Thieme - a Protestant convert - as intellectual sparring partners struggle against Nazi racism, and then `anti-judaism' to find a basis for resolving the ancient conflicts of Jews and Christians.  They developed their theology rooted in Paul - the self-described Apostle to the Gentiles.  In his letter to the Romans Paul affirmed God's loyalty to the Jews, but not without ambiguity:
In respect to the gospel, they are enemies on your account; but in respect to election, they are beloved because of the patriarchs. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.  [Romans 11]
This yielded Nostra Aetate, the great Vatican II statement of respect for other religions and repudiation of anti-semitism and embrace of the Church's Judaic "root" to which Gentiles are "grafted", concluding:

We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man's relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: "He who does not love does not know God" (1 John 4:8).
No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.
The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to "maintain good fellowship among the nations" (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men, so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven. 
Though generally laudatory, Garry Wills, in the New York Review of Books, laments that Connelly   did not write a biography of John nee' Johannes Osterreicher.   Wills would have done better to confess a personal preference for biography.  But I, like Michael Winter, in a review at NCR online find Connelly's account of the exegetical history to be  compelling.  And I agree with Connelly's student Gene Zubovich.  He writes at U.S. Intellectual History Blog that Connelly has produced  an exciting intellectual history which opens new avenues of exploration - including the remarkable observation that in the Church's triumph over racism and anti-Judaism liberalism was not a force, but rather the shock of the Holocaust demanded reconciliation of its horrors with a Christian eschatology to which I, like other moderns, have payed little heed.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Immigrant Detainees and the Right to Counsel -

The answer is YES, in my opinion.  - gwc
Immigrant Detainees and the Right to Counsel -

DO immigrants who are incarcerated while their legal status is resolved deserve a lawyer?
John Moore/Getty Images
Detained Honduran immigrants in a holding cell in Mesa, Ariz., before being deported.
On a given day, roughly 34,000 immigrants are held in a patchwork of local jails and prisons, awaiting court hearings that determine whether they have the legal right to remain in the United States or will be deported. The recent revelation thatroughly 300 immigration detainees are being held in solitary confinement — conditions that the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and others have said can constitute torture — highlights how punitive, costly and legally fraught American immigration policy has become.
Fifty years ago, the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright required state courts to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who could not afford lawyers. But people who are detained do not typically have lawyers because immigration law, unlike criminal law, does not provide a right to counsel. Immigrant detainees are allowed to hire lawyers, but more often than not, they cannot afford counsel or are shuffled through the system before they have a chance to find help.

'via Blog this'

New S.E.C. Chair White should retreat, answer Judge Rakoff's questions - NJ Law Journal Editorial Board

S.E.C. chair Mary Jo White

The high profile confrontation between federal judge Jed Rakoff and the Securities and Exchange Commission presents an opportunity for former prosecutor and incoming S.E.C. chair Mary Jo White.  By following the lead of former chairman Harvey Pitt  Ms. White can demonstrate her independence from the financial giants she has been defending in recent years and affirm the integrity of the S.E.C. itself, the New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board suggests.  The Commission's appeal of Rakoff's rejection of its proposed settlement with Citigroup of a $500 million fraud claim was recently argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. - gwc
by the New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board  [copyright ALM Media 2013 – all rights reserved]
March 28, 2013
 An early challenge for Mary Jo White as the new Securities and Exchange Commission chairman is how she handles SEC v. Citigroup Global Markets, a closely watched Second Circuit appeal from a judge's refusal to sign off on the SEC's proposed $285 million settlement with Citigroup.
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff dismissed the settlement as "pocket change," for which the SEC had not even extracted an admission of fault in the allegedly fraudulent $1 billion synthetic, collateralized-debt-obligation derivatives deal.
The judge asked the same sort of questions we do about heedless pursuit of profit that so gravely injures our economy. Among them: What specific control weaknesses led to the acts alleged in the complaint? How will the proposed remedial undertakings ensure that those acts do not occur again? How can a securities fraud of this nature and magnitude be the result simply of negligence?
Rather than answer Rakoff's concerns, the SEC demanded that he show it "deference" — i.e., rubber-stamp its settlement. In its briefs on appeal, the SEC asserts that only minimal judicial review is warranted and that the court must defer to the agency. Rakoff's court-appointed attorney calls that an unconstitutional attack on judicial independence. And a securities scholars brief says Rakoff was exercising traditional equity jurisprudence to assure that the public interest is served.
Former SEC chairman and general counsel Harvey Pitt offers the Second Circuit a judicious resolution. In his brief, he observes the SEC did not respond to Judge Rakoff's questions but instead sounded an alarm about judicial defiance. If the SEC had met the questions directly and had set forth the reasons for its compromise with Citigroup, it would "promote transparency and improve public and judicial understanding of the impressive efforts expended by the SEC and its Enforcement Division to promote fairness in our nation's securities markets," Pitt argues.
Five years after the financial crisis erupted, we are still waiting for transparency and evidence to persuade us that the SEC's efforts were indeed impressive. The new SEC chairman could send the right signal by taking Pitt's advice: Stop fighting Rakoff's demands and agree to answer his questions.
Board member Joseph Buckley recused from this editorial.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Common law retaining liens barred by NJ Supreme Court

The New Jersey Law Journal reports that in a March 25, 2013 Notice to the Bar the New Jersey Supreme Court abrogated the attorney's common law retaining lien, as urged by its Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics (of which I am a member).  The Law Journal explains:
As of April 1, lawyers no longer will be able to hold onto client files and papers to collect fees.
An amendment to Rule of Professional Conduct 1.16(d), effective that date, states flatly, "No lawyer shall assert the common law retaining lien."
The state Supreme Court on Monday ordered abolition of the lien, which dates back to 18th century England and is still allowed in many states, at the suggestion of the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics.
Last November, the ACPE proposed replacing a clause in the RPC stating, "The lawyer may retain papers relating to the client to the extent permitted by other law."
The ACPE cited the need to protect clients, the potential for attorney overreaching and breach of fiduciary duty, and the concern that assertion of the lien could exert pressure on a client disproportionate to the size or validity of the lawyer's fee claim.
The lien is most effective in coercing payment when the client is in acute need of the documents held, but resorting to it in such circumstances "is unduly destructive of the lawyer-client relationship and impairs public confidence in the Bar and in the judicial system," the ACPE said.
During the more than 60-day comment period that ended on Jan. 31, three comments in opposition and one in favor were submitted.
The State Bar Association wanted to keep the lien and clarify the ability to use it by adding a reference to "the common law retaining lien, as a means of securing payment for legal services rendered."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cass Sunstein: Same-Sex Marriage Law Has Four Possible Paths - Bloomberg

Harvard Law prof and polymath Cass Sunstein sketches out four paths for the Supreme Court in the constitutional challenge to laws barring same-sex marriage. - GWC
Same-Sex Marriage Law Has Four Possible Paths - Bloomberg:

Football teams hate punting, and the same may be true of the court. Some of its members might be tempted to draw on another analogy that, while publicly obscure, is well-known among judges and constitutional specialists.
In its 1971 decision in Reed v. Reed -- its first serious effort to engage the problem of sex discrimination -- the court took the path of minimalism. Striking down an odd Iowa law that gave a preference to men over women as administrators of estates, the court declined to issue a broad pronouncement that would immediately threaten all discrimination on the basis of sex.
Instead it began a long series of case-by-case rulings -- accompanying, but not pre-empting, democratic judgments -- that ultimately produced strong safeguards against such discrimination.
With respect to same-sex marriage, the court might be able to adopt a similar approach. For example, the Justice Department has sketched some ways for the court to rule relatively narrowly, striking down the laws in question while avoiding the broadest pronouncement about marriage equality.

'via Blog this'

More Intuition than Argument | Koppelman - Commonweal magazine

In ` What is marriage?'  two conservative Catholic thinkers, Robert George and his Yale law student co-author Sherif Gergis  argue  - as they do in an amicus brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry - the `gay marriage case ' - that marriage is a "conjugal relationship", not simply an "emotional bond".  The "marriage-based family", they assert, is the "free community on which all others depend".   Andrew Koppelman practices a virtue that does not come easily: to take opponents arguments' seriously, to present them fairly, and patiently explain why he is not persuaded. - GWC
More Intuition than Argument | Commonweal magazine:

What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense

Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson, and Robert P. George
Encounter Books, $15.99, 133 pp.
reviewed by Andrew Koppelman
The union of the married heterosexual couple is uniquely good because...well, because the union of the married heterosexual couple is uniquely good. This raw intuition comes decorated with a complex theoretical apparatus, but that apparatus does no work. It’s like one of those old trick math problems, which at first glance seems to require complex computations:
7 + 8,398.14 × B ÷ √55 - 8,398.14 × √55 ÷ B = ?
Look again, and it’s clear that all the complexity cancels itself out, and that you end up right back where you began.
The publication of What Is Marriage? is a public service. It advances understanding of a perspective that many (though fewer and fewer) Americans share, but it is unlikely to persuade anyone who doesn’t already agree with its claims. It is a lucid window into a disappearing worldview.
'via Blog this'

Why Don’t Politicians Care about the Working Class?

Why Don’t Politicians Care about the Working Class?: "By MARK THOMA, The Fiscal Times
If we want to ensure that our children and grandchildren have the brightest possible future, the national debt is not the most important problem to address. Reversing the polarization of the labor market – the hollowing out of the middle class and the associated rise in inequality over the last thirty years or so – is much more important. But money driven politics and a political class that has all but forgotten about the working class – Democrats in particular have forgotten who they are supposed to represent – stand in the way of progress on this important problem. 
As everyone surely knows by now, the last few decades have not been kind to workers in the middle and lower parts of the income distribution. Technological change, globalization, and the decline of unions that gave workers political clout and countervailing power in negotiations over wages, benefits, and working conditions have eroded the economic opportunity and security that the post World War II era brought to working class households" 'via Blog this'

Monday, March 25, 2013

Anthony Lewis, Who Transformed Coverage of the Supreme Court, Dies at 85 -

Fifty years ago the United States Supreme Court announced in Gideon v. Wainwright that the Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel is so essential to a fair trial that government must provide a lawyer to a defendant who cannot afford one.

No one did more to celebrate the importance of the decision than did Times Supreme Court reporter and columnist Anthony Lewis, who died yesterday.  The tribute below by Harvard professor Paul Freund is as fine a eulogy as any.  He leaves his wife Margaret Marshall, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.  A native of South Africa, she saw early (much earlier than did I) the continuity between the fight against racial discrimination and that for marriage equality.  Her 2003 opinion for the court in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health was the first to recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry. - GWC
Anthony Lewis, Who Transformed Coverage of the Supreme Court, Dies at 85 -
Mr. Lewis wrote “Gideon’s Trumpet” in large part during a four-month newspaper strike. The book told the story of Clarence Earl Gideon, a Florida drifter accused of breaking into a poolroom who was tried and convicted without a lawyer, and it sought to place the decision his case gave rise to in a larger context.
Mr. Lewis wrote: “Just as the Gideon case was part of the movement of the law on the right to counsel, and that in turn was but one aspect of the fundamental change taking place in the constitutional doctrine of fair criminal procedure, so the criminal law trend was part of a larger picture.  In many other areas the Supreme Court in the last generation has enlarged the dimensions of individual liberty.”
Paul Freund, a law professor at Harvard, reviewed the book for The Times. “The surpassing merit of Anthony Lewis’s book, sensitive but unsentimental, scholarly but not pedantic, is that we are made to see the general in the particular, to feel that, in the redemption of a forlorn outcast, the legal process is redeeming itself,” Professor Freund wrote.

'via Blog this'


Andrew Koppelman 2
Andrew Koppelman
 Northwestern U. Law School

Andrew Koppelman is a straight talker and clear thinker. - gwc
"Q. (Tim Jost) Your book explains, for the general reader, what was at stake in the health care fight and what the Supreme Court did.  Why should the general reader care?  All this is old news. A. (Andy Koppelman) If you’re sitting on a hill, and a large boulder rolls past you, it’s a good idea to look uphill to see if any more boulders are coming.  The history matters because it shows that there are real dangers."
  A.  The Republicans’ objection to the Act was a combination of politics and substance.  Some of them honestly thought it was bad policy.  But you can’t challenge a law in court because you don’t like the policy.  You need to make a constitutional objection.  The constitutional objection was invented, in sketchy form, just as the bill neared passage and almost instantly became Republican Party orthodoxy.  It relied on an extreme libertarian philosophy, which holds that, if you get sick and can’t pay for it, that’s your tough luck.  The challengers’ arguments would have struck down the Act even if the alternative was a huge population of uninsured.  The dark heart of the case against the ACA is the notion that the law’s trivial burden on individuals was an outrageous invasion of liberty, even when the alternative was a regime in which millions were needlessly denied decent medical care. 'via Blog this'

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Doctor's New Prescription: A Lawyer -

Maureen Lao, a student at the Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, assisting a patient at the Lakeside Senior Medical Center outpatient clinic.
Maureen Lao, a law student, assists a patient
An Elder Law volunteer service clinical program at Hastings.  Sounds like a great program.  If only we could get the voters to restore funding to the Legal Services program at the levels it once had. - GWC
The Doctor's New Prescription: A Lawyer -
by Paula Span
Consider the geriatricians working at the Lakeside Senior Medical Center, an outpatient clinic at the University of California, San Francisco. Many of their patients, despite multiple chronic diseases and advanced age, have never filled out power-of-attorney documents or appointed someone to make health care decisions if they are unable to.
Sometimes, the doctors suspect their patients might qualify for public benefits they are not getting, like food stamps or MediCal, the state’s version of Medicaid. Perhaps they face problems with landlords or appear to be victims of financial abuse, or they ought to have a simple will.
In other words, they need lawyers. But trying to get frail, low-income seniors to consult an elder attorney can seem an insurmountable problem. How will they travel to a law office? Or pay a fee that can reach $300 an hour? Even if the doctors can refer them to a legal aid office, will their elderly patients actually make an appointment? Then remember to go?
At Lakeside there is a simpler solution, said Sarah Hooper, who teaches at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. “The physicians do the initial screenings, hear what their patients’ problems are, take the history — and they essentially write a prescription: ‘Go down the hall and see my friends at U.C. Hastings for help with this housing issue,’ ” she said.....

'via Blog this'

Widener Law must defend misrepresentation claim by grads: District Judge

Widener Law School stated publicly:
f. “Graduates of the Class of 2010 had a 93% employment/advanced degree rate within nine months of graduation.” 

Eight graduates claim that they relied on such representations in their decisions to choose Widener for law school.  But they now know that the statistics were overstated in a misleading nd harmful way.  In Harnish v. Widener Senior Judge William Walls, U.S.D.J. (DNJ) denied the law school's FRCP 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, saying:

The study of law is the learning of a profession. Widener’s website promotes a professional school. Its function is to persuade a prospective law student to attend Widener in order to receive a degree in law. The employment rate was disseminated to third-party evaluators to establish Widener’s standing among law schools. Within this context, it is not implausible that a prospective law student making the choice of whether or which law school to attend, would believe that the employment rate referred to law related employment .
The case was allowed to proceed under both the New Jersey and Delaware Consumer Fraud acts.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Savoring The Afterglow Of Obama's Speech - Americans for Peace Now

I agree.  And HERE is my earlier post with a link to the text of the President's speech. - GWC
Savoring The Afterglow Of Obama's Speech - Americans for Peace Now:
by Rabbi Alana Suskin
"Today President Obama made the most passionate, and compassionate, case for Israeli-Palestinian peace any U.S. leader has ever made. The case he made was politically pragmatic, grounded in the legitimate security concerns that define Israelis' existence. It was also grounded, unapologetically and unambiguously, in universal moral truths, including the indefensibility of the occupation and of denying the Palestinians dignity, security, and self-determination in their own state."  'via Blog this'

"Look at the world through their eyes" - Obama to Israeli youth

"But the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, their right to justice must also be recognized.And put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their eyes.
It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own -- living their entire lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements, not just of those young people but their parents, their grandparents, every single day. It’s not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished.  It’s not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands or restricting a student’s ability to move around the West Bank or displace Palestinian families from their homes. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land."
President Obama to Israeli youth, March 21, 2013
Full transcript
Israeli youth - Jewish and Arab react to Obama's speech

DWQ: times change on gay marriage

When James Michael McConnell and his partner Jack Baker applied for a marriage licence in Minnesota it was attention getting.  It was 1969 and such suggestions were  greeted with derision or indifference.  But times have changed and such distant efforts forgotten, so we are grateful for Linda Greenhouse, the fine Times Supreme Court observer (now at Yale) for digging out the McConnell and Baker saga.  In the aftermath of the "marriage license incident" the men sued, taking it all the way to the Supreme Court which did not take the case.  "DWQ" Harry Blackmun wrote on the petition - "deny for lack of a substantial federal question".
Baker became a lawyer but McConnell's career plans were disrupted when the Regents of the University of Minnesota voided his contract.  That lawsuit too was dismissed.  In McConnell v. Anderson (8th Cir. 1971) the U.S. Court of Appeals wrote:
 [I]t is at once apparent that this is not a case involving mere homosexual propensities on the part of a prospective employee. Neither is it a case in which an applicant is excluded from employment because of a desire clandestinely to pursue homosexual conduct. It is, instead, a case in which something more than remunerative employment is sought; a case in which the applicant seeks employment on his own terms; a case in which the prospective employee demands, as shown both by the allegations of the complaint and by the marriage license incident as well, the right to pursue an activist role in implementing his unconventional ideas concerning the societal status to be accorded homosexuals and, thereby, to foist tacit approval of this socially repugnant concept upon his employer, who is, in this instance, an institution of higher learning.
We know of no constitutional fiat or binding principle of decisional law which requires an employer to accede to such extravagant demands. We are therefore unable fairly to categorize the Board's action here as arbitrary, unreasonable or capricious.
Baker and McConnell - still together and still in Minnesota  - may soon get that marriage license.  I hope they get the first one.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

1 million police hours for marijuana arrests ??Drug Policy Alliance

One Million Police Hours | Drug Policy Alliance:
A new report documents the astronomical number of hours the New York Police Department has spent arresting and processing hundreds of thousands of low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure from 2002 to 2012. The report finds that NYPD used approximately one million hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests. Under Mayor Bloomberg, New York City has made more marijuana possession arrests than under mayors Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani combined.

Brooklyn Prosecutor to Seek Freedom of Man Convicted in 1990 Killing of Rabbi -

David Ranta, 58, in prison 23 years
for a murder he did not commit
Confession of error is good for the soul.   But how did such a mistake occur?
Brooklyn Prosecutor to Seek Freedom of Man Convicted in 1990 Killing of Rabbi -
by Michael Powell and Sharon Otterman

The new Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, stood shoulder to shoulder with fur-hat-wearing Satmars, watching as they rocked back and forth and wailed as the pinewood coffin was carried out. He vowed to bring the killer to justice.

Forty detectives worked the case, soon led by the swaggering, cigar-chewing Detective Louis Scarcella. Working closely with an influential Satmar rabbi, Detective Scarcella arrested a drug-addicted, unemployed printer named David Ranta. Hasidic Jews surrounded the car that carried the accused man to jail, slapping the roof and chanting, “Death penalty!”

Mr. Ranta was convicted in May 1991 and sentenced to 37.5 years in maximum-security prison, where he remains to this day.

He is almost certainly not guilty.

This week Mr. Hynes, after a long investigation by a unit that he created to look into questionable convictions, plans to ask a state judge to release the prisoner. Mr. Ranta’s lawyer, Pierre Sussman, who conducted his own inquiry, said his client has been instructed to pack up his cell.

Mr. Ranta could walk free as early as Thursday. In the decades since a jury convicted him of murder, nearly every piece of evidence in this case has fallen away. A key witness told The New York Times that a detective instructed him to select Mr. Ranta in the lineup. A convicted rapist told the district attorney that he falsely implicated Mr. Ranta in hopes of cutting a deal for himself. A woman has signed an affidavit saying she too lied about Mr. Ranta’s involvement.
'via Blog this'

Gideon’s Muted Trumpet -

Gideon’s Muted Trumpet -
by Paul Butler

FIFTY years after the Supreme Court, in Gideon v. Wainwright, guaranteed legal representation to poor people charged with serious crimes, low-income criminal defendants, particularly black ones, are significantly worse off.Don’t blame public defenders, who are usually overwhelmed. The problem lies with power-drunk prosecutors — I know, because I used to be one — and “tough on crime” lawmakers, who have enacted some of the world’s harshest sentencing laws. They mean well, but have created a system that makes a mockery of “equal justice under the law.” A black man without a high school diploma is more likely to be in prison than to have a job.A poor person has a much greater chance of being incarcerated now than when Gideon was decided, 50 years ago today. This is not because of increased criminality — violent crime has plunged from its peak in the early 1990s — but because of prosecutorial policies that essentially target the poor and relegate their lawyers to negotiating guilty pleas, rather than mounting a defense.

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

So smart, the smart guys who brought us the Iraq War

More on the tenth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.
Let's remember that the Washington know-it-alls - including my heroes John Kerry and Hillary Clinton - bought the weapons of mass destruction line that brought us the second Iraq war.  I did not.  Here is a chart - thanks James Fallows - and a quote from smart guy Paul Wolfowitz.  Thirty years ago I heard Ambassador Paul Warnke say to a dinner audience "when they tell you to trust them because  they know things you don't...they don't" - gwc

By late December [2002] some 200,000 members of the U.S. armed forces were en route to staging areas surrounding Iraq.... Declaring that it was impossible to make predictions about a war that might not occur, the Administration refused to discuss plans for the war's aftermath--or its potential cost. In December the President fired Lawrence Lindsey, his chief economic adviser, after Lindsey offered a guess that the total cost might be $100 billion to $200 billion
Then, official estimates as combat began a few months later:
On March 27 [2003], eight days into combat, members of the House Appropriations Committee asked Paul Wolfowitz for a figure. He told them that whatever it was, Iraq's oil supplies would keep it low. "There's a lot of money to pay for this," he said. "It doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." 


Conservatives and American Power | Commonweal magazine

Brilliant observation: the GI Bill and the Marshall Plan go hand in hand. - gwc
Conservatives and American Power | Commonweal magazine:
by E.J. Dionne
Those who share Paul's philosophical orientation are quite right in seeing the rise of American power in the world as closely linked to the rise of the New Deal/Great Society state at home. But this means that those who want the United States to play a strong role in global affairs need to ask themselves if their attitudes toward government's role inside our country, which are similar to Paul's, are consistent with their vision of American influence abroad.
After World War II, there was a rough consensus in America, confirmed during Dwight Eisenhower's presidency in the 1950s, in favor of an energetic national government.We emerged from the war as a global power that had learned lessons from the Great Depression. Government action could lessen the likelihood of another disastrous economic downturn and build a more just and prosperous society at home by investing in our people and our future.
Thus did the Marshall Plan and the GI Bill go hand in hand. The Marshall Plan eased Western Europe's recovery from the devastation of war, thereby protecting friendly governments and opening new markets for American goods. The GI Bill educated a generation of veterans, spurring prosperity from the bottom up by enabling millions to join a growing middle class.Eisenhower built on these achievements by creating the first college loan program and launching the interstate highway system. It's no accident that the former was establishing by the National Defense Education Act while the latter was known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act.

'via Blog this'

Monday, March 18, 2013

Democrats don't plan hearings on Christie's N.J. Supreme Court nominees for at least 8 months |

You can't put Humpty Dumpty together again.  For 50 years New Jersey's Supreme Court worked within a range from moderate Republican to liberal Democrat.  When Chris Christie came in he said he was going to break some china - reverse the court's excessive (in his view) liberalism.  Chief among his suburban resentments were the  Abbott v. Burke 40 year old litigation for equitable funding of urban schools, and the Mt. Laurel open housing - land use controls.
Christie promptly  denied a tenure nomination to 68 year old John Wallace - a moderate Black Democrat on the state's high court, citing his record as too liberal.  That introduction of a previously unseen ardent partisanship is the genie that the Governor cannot put back in the bottle.  Having embraced partisanship, he enters his re-election campaign with two vacancies on the Supreme Court.  The Democrat-controlled legislature wants a Democrat to be one of them.   The standoff appears headed to resolution after the November general elections. - gwc
Democrats don't plan hearings on Christie's N.J. Supreme Court nominees for at least 8 months |
TRENTON — Senate Democrats don’t plan hearings on Gov. Chris Christie’s two nominees for the state Supreme Court until at least November, two senior Democrats with knowledge of the party’s thinking confirmed to the Star-Ledger.
After Democrats rejected his previous two nominees, Christie in December nominated Superior Court Judge David Bauman, a Republican, and Board of Public Utilities President Robert Hanna, an independent.
But Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who decides whether or not to post nominations, has not said much about the nominees.

Federal jury convicts Paul Bergrin of murder, racketeering, 21 other charges |

Paul Bergrin
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney turned high profile defense lawyer Paul Bergrin was convicted of murder and twenty other serious charges today.  Representing himself, this was his second trial.  Last year a mistrial was declared after jury deadlock.  At the government's request the Third Circuit removed trial judge William Martini, saying that there appeared to be bias toward defendant in his handling of the Bergrin trial.  It is the final descent for the formidable but tragically flawed lawyer. - gwc
Federal jury convicts Paul Bergrin of murder, racketeering, 21 other charges |
by Jason Grant- The StarLedgerPaul Bergrin, the once-prominent defense lawyer, has been found guilty of all 23 criminal counts today, including murder and conspiracy to murder, following a long high-profile criminal trial in federal court.The verdict was announced moments ago in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh in Newark.  "it's been a long time coming. We have a great team." U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said shortly after the verdict was read.Prosecutors John Gay and Joseph Minish have been trying for years to win a verdict against Bergrin and put him away. With the across-the-board guilty verdict, Bergrin, 57, now faces the real prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars, lawyers on both sides of the case say.A hard-charging criminal lawyer who has said he's handled more 150 trials, Bergrin represented himself against a litany of counts. His trial began Jan. 22. Some of the counts focused on allegations that Bergrin plotted to kill witnesses against legal clients while others zeroed in on allegations he was involved in trafficking cocaine.Bergrin became well known after representing drug kingpins, rap stars such as Lil’ Kim, and U.S. soldiers in Iraq in the 2000s. He has been held in federal, pre-trial lockup since he was arrested in 2009.  'via Blog this'

Maids and judges: who deserve a bigger raise? | South China Morning Post

Current exchange rate: 1 Hong Kong $ =  $0.13 U.S.
Maids and judges: who deserve a bigger raise? | South China Morning Post
"Hong Kong gave pay raises to two groups of people recently. The city's 300,000 foreign domestic helpers had their minimum wage bumped up 4.8%, or HK$180 per month. "Too big," says a representative of their employers, who believes 3% would have been much more reasonable.  Meanwhile, the city's judicial elite of 144 judges got a 5.66% pay rise. The response from concerned groups -- lawmakers and lawyers -- however, is quite different. They believe the judges' pay, which ranges between HK$200,000 and HK$250,000 a month, is still too low to attract top judicial talent.  Both groups are hard-working and indispensable to Hong Kong. But who deserves a bigger raise? "

'via Blog this'

China's government reorganizes - SCMP

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Newspapering Is a Business: The Death of the Legendary Boston Phoenix | TPM News

"never got rich but we are going to heaven"
Clif Garboden (1948-2011), Sr. Managing Editor, the Boston Phoenix
Newspapering Is a Business: The Death of the Legendary Boston Phoenix | TPM News:
Camille Dodero at Gawker remembers Clif Garboden and the Boston Phoenix, theAlternative Newsweekly.

To Clif, the collection of people around him, for all their faults and foibles, was something very special. They could see the hypocrisies in the world and felt an existential obligation to do something about them—and more than that, to nurture and to recruit people who could do the same, his kind of people.By that, he meant a few things: Smart People Who Gave a Fuck, People With a Work Ethic, People With Talent, but also, in some cases, People From Blue-Collar/Low Income Families. People like Clif himself, a kid from the bad neighborhood in Pittsburgh, who once likened his socio-economic escape to sneaking across the tracks and under barbed wire. People like Chris, a brilliantly witty British writer who’d spent years working as a mover and started his entry-level writing job answering phones as an editorial assistant at the age of 32. People who otherwise would’ve ended up restaurant staff or retail employees or other assorted cogs because they didn’t have parents who could help with the rent while they struggled to become writers. People like me.

'via Blog this'

Friday, March 15, 2013

Man Behind '47 Percent' Video Says Camera Wasn't Hidden | TPM LiveWire

Man Behind '47 Percent' Video Says Camera Wasn't Hidden | TPM LiveWire:
Scott Prouty, the bartender who filmed the Romney `47% speech/, is interviewed by Huffington Post Live.
He is an impressive guy who made a stubborn effort to get the video out.  He posted the first clip on May 31 on YouTube as "Romney Exposed".  Others followed  - and some were blocked!  Finally HuffPost broke the story in October.  He has a working class perspective that is both naive and brilliant. Watch it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Who are the people who were waiting for Pope Francis? = Sr. Joan Chittester - NCRonline

Joan Chittister, O.P.

Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister asks

Who are the people who were waiting for Pope Francis?  (National Catholic Reorter Online)
It gets spiritually exhausting to go on waiting for a pastor again and instead getting a scolding, reactionary church whose idea of perfection is the century before the last one rather than the century after this one.
They're weary of seeing contraception being treated as more sinful than the sexual abuse of children.
All in all, they're weary of being told, "Don't even think about it." They're weary of being treated as if they are bodies and souls without a brain.
It's weariness, weariness, weariness. It's not an angry, violent, revolutionary response. It's much worse than that. It's a weary one, and weariness is a very dangerous thing. When people are weary, they cease to care; they cease to listen; they cease to wait.
These are the kind of people who waited for a new pope, whatever kind of man he might be.
At first sight, Jorge Mario Bergoglio -- Pope Francis -- is a quiet and humble man, a pastoral man and as a Latin American, a leader of 51 million Catholics, or the largest concentration of Catholics on the planet, which is not business-as-usual as far as papal history goes.
But perhaps the most profound and memorable moment of his introduction is that he presented himself on the balcony in front of thousands of people from all parts of the world not in the brocaded fashion of a pope, but in a simple white cassock.
And then came the real shock: He bowed to the people. Bowed. And asked them to pray a blessing down on him before he blessed them. Francis, I remembered, was the Christian who reached out to Muslims. Francis, the one who listened to every creature in the universe and dialogued with it.
Indeed, if this Francis, too, is a listener, there is hope for reconciliation, hope for healing, hope for the development of the church.
No doubt about it: We know who the people are who have been waiting for a pope and why they are weary. The question now is, Does he know how weary they are? And does he care? Really?
From where I stand, something has to change. Maybe, just maybe, this time ...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Francis - the new, Jesuit Pope

Pope Francis
John Allen - the National Catholic Reporter's superb Vatican reporter - commented a few days ago on Cardinal Bergoglio as a candidate.  Now that we actually have a Jesuit pope! one has to say it is encouraging.  Not because he is a liberal - all signs are that he is not - but because he has accommodated himself to membership in an order which values education, science, and has withstood persecution - by Popes.  And that he has taken the name Francis is a sign that he embraces the Society's "preferential option for the poor".  But as my Buenos Aires-born associate Pablo Blanco often said "an Argentine is an Italian who speaks Spanish and thinks he's a Brit".  Time will tell. - GWC
ROMEIn the days leading up to the conclave, John Allen offered a profile each day of one of the most frequently touted papabili, or men who could be pope. On March 3, he profiled Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was elected March 13 to be Pope Francis. Here is the profile Allen wrote:by John Allen/National Catholic ReporterWhile there are still no tracking polls to establish who's got legs as a papal candidate, the 2013 conclave at least has one objective measure not available in 2005: past performance. Many of the cardinals seen as candidates now were also on offer the last time around, and someone who had traction eight years ago could be a contender again.By that measure alone, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, at least merits a look.

After the dust settled from the election of Benedict XVI, various reports identified the Argentine Jesuit as the main challenger to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. One cardinal later said the conclave had been "something of a horse race" between Ratzinger and Bergoglio, and an anonymous conclave diary splashed across the Italian media in September 2005 claimed that Bergoglio received 40 votes on the third ballot, just before Ratzinger crossed the two-thirds threshold and became pope.

Though it's hard to say how seriously one should take the specifics, the general consensus is that Bergoglio was indeed the "runner-up" last time around. He appealed to conservatives in the College of Cardinals as a man who had held the line against liberalizing currents among the Jesuits, and to moderates as a symbol of the church's commitment to the developing world.

Support NCR's coverage of the conclave.

Donate now!Back in 2005, Bergoglio drew high marks as an accomplished intellectual, having studied theology in Germany. His leading role during the Argentine economic crisis burnished his reputation as a voice of conscience, and made him a potent symbol of the costs globalization can impose on the world's poor.

Bergoglio's reputation for personal simplicity also exercised an undeniable appeal – a Prince of the Church who chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop's palace, who gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work, and who cooked his own meals.

Another measure of Bergoglio's seriousness as a candidate was the negative campaigning that swirled around him eight years ago.

Three days before the 2005 conclave, a human rights lawyer in Argentina filed a complaint charging Bergoglio with complicity in the 1976 kidnapping of two liberal Jesuit priests under the country's military regime, a charge Bergoglio flatly denied. There was also an e-mail campaign, claiming to originate with fellow Jesuits who knew Bergoglio when he was the provincial of the order in Argentina, asserting that "he never smiled."

All of that by way of saying, Bergoglio was definitely on the radar screen. Of course he's eight years older now, and at 76 is probably outside the age window many cardinals would see as ideal. Further, the fact he couldn't get over the hump last time may convince some cardinals there's no point going back to the well.

That said, many of the reasons that led members of the college to take him seriously eight years ago are still in place.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1936, Bergoglio's father was an Italian immigrant and railway worker from the region around Turin, and he has four brothers and sisters. His original plan was to be a chemist, but in 1958 he instead entered the Society of Jesus and began studies for the priesthood. He spent much of his early career teaching literature, psychology and philosophy, and early on he was seen as a rising star. From 1973 to 1979 he served as the Jesuit provincial in Argentina, then in 1980 became the rector of the seminary from which he had graduated.

These were the years of the military junta in Argentina, when many priests, including leading Jesuits, were gravitating towards the progressive liberation theology movement. As the Jesuit provincial, Bergoglio insisted on a more traditional reading of Ignatian spirituality, mandating that Jesuits continue to staff parishes and act as chaplains rather than moving into "base communities" and political activism.

Although Jesuits generally are discouraged from receiving ecclesiastical honors and advancement, especially outside mission countries, Bergoglio was named auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 and then succeeded the ailing Cardinal Antonio Quarracino in 1998. John Paul II made Bergoglio a cardinal in 2001, assigning him the Roman church named after the legendary Jesuit St. Robert Bellarmino.

Over the years, Bergoglio became close to the Comunione e Liberazione movement founded by Italian Fr. Luigi Giussani, sometimes speaking at its massive annual gathering in Rimini, Italy. He's also presented Giussani's books at literary fairs in Argentina. This occasionally generated consternation within the Jesuits, since the ciellini once upon a time were seen as the main opposition to Bergoglio's fellow Jesuit in Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.

On the other hand, that's also part of Bergoglio's appeal, someone who personally straddles the divide between the Jesuits and the ciellini, and more broadly, between liberals and conservatives in the church.

Bergoglio has supported the social justice ethos of Latin American Catholicism, including a robust defense of the poor.

"We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least," Bergoglio said during a gathering of Latin American bishops in 2007. "The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers."

At the same time, he has generally tended to accent growth in personal holiness over efforts for structural reform.

Bergoglio is seen an unwaveringly orthodox on matters of sexual morality, staunchly opposing abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception. In 2010 he asserted that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children, earning a public rebuke from Argentina's President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Nevertheless, he has shown deep compassion for the victims of HIV-AIDS; in 2001, he visited a hospice to kiss and wash the feet of 12 AIDS patients.

Bergoglio also won high marks for his compassionate response to the 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires of a seven-story building housing the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association and the Delegation of the Argentine Jewish Association. It was one of the worst anti-Jewish attacks ever in Latin America, and in 2005 Rabbi Joseph Ehrenkranz of the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, praised Bergoglio's leadership.

"He was very concerned with what happened, Ehrenkranz said. "He's got experience."

Nevertheless, after the conclave of 2005 some cardinals candidly admitted to doubts that Bergoglio really had the steel and "fire in the belly" needed to lead the universal church. Moreover, for most of the non-Latin Americans, Bergoglio was an unknown quantity. A handful remembered his leadership in the 2001 Synod of Bishops, when Bergoglio replaced Cardinal Edward Egan of New York as the relator, or chairman, of the meeting after Egan went home to help New Yorkers cope with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In that setting, Bergoglio left a basically positive but indistinct impression.

Bergoglio may be basically conservative on many issues, but he's no defender of clerical privilege, or insensitive to pastoral realities. In September 2012, he delivered a blistering attack on priests who refuse to baptize children born out of wedlock, calling it a form of "rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism."

The case for Bergoglio in 2013 rests on four points.

First and most basically, he had strong support last time around, and some cardinals may think that they're getting another bite at the apple now.

Second, Bergoglio is a candidates who brings together the first world and the developing world in his own person. He's a Latin American with Italian roots, who studied in Germany. As a Jesuit he's a member of a truly international religious community, and his ties to Comunione e Liberazionemake him part of another global network.

Third, Bergoglio still has appeal across the usual divides in the church, drawing respect from both conservatives and moderates for his keen pastoral sense, his intelligence, and his personal modesty. He's also seen as a genuinely spiritual soul, and a man of deep prayer.

"Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord," Bergoglio said in 2001. "I beg the theologians who are present not to turn me in to the Sant'Uffizio or the Inquisition; however, forcing things a bit, I dare to say that the privileged locus of the encounter is the caress of the mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin."

Fourth, he's also seen as a successful evangelist.

"We have to avoid the spiritual sickness of a self-referential church," Bergoglio said recently. "It's true that when you get out into the street, as happens to every man and woman, there can be accidents. However, if the church remains closed in on itself, self-referential, it gets old. Between a church that suffers accidents in the street, and a church that's sick because it's self-referential, I have no doubts about preferring the former."

On the other hand, there are compelling reasons to believe that Bergoglio's window of opportunity to be pope has already closed.

First, he's eight years older than in 2005, and at 76 he would only be two years younger than Benedict XVI was when he became pope. Especially on the heels of a papal resignation on the basis of age and exhaustion, many cardinals may balk at electing someone that old, fearing it would set the church up for another shock to the system.

Second, although Bergoglio was a serious contender in 2005, he couldn't attract sufficient support to get past the two-thirds threshold needed to be elected pope. Especially for the 50 cardinals who were inside the conclave eight years ago, they may be skeptical that the results would be any different this time around.

Third, the doubts that circulated about Bergoglio's toughness eight years ago may arguably be even more damaging now, given that the ability to govern. and to take control of the Vatican bureaucracy, seems to figure even more prominently on many cardinals' wish lists this time. Although Bergoglio is a member of several Vatican departments, including the Congregations for Divine Worship and for Clergy, he's never actually worked inside the Vatican, and there may be concerns about his capacity to take the place in hand.

Fourth, there's the standard ambivalence about Jesuits in high office, both from within the order and among some on the outside. That may have been a factor in slowing Bergoglio's progress last time, and nothing has changed the calculus in the time since.

Whether Bergoglio catches fire again as a candidate remains to be seen; one Italian writer quoted an anonymous cardinal on March 2 as saying, "Four years of Bergoglio would be enough to change things." Given his profile, however, Bergoglio seems destined to plan an important role in this conclave – if not as king, then as a kingmaker.