Thursday, October 31, 2013

Court Removes Judge, Blocks Stop-and-Frisk Changes for NYPD -

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin

I have some personal experience with Judge Scheindlin.  Her rigorous analyses and attention to detail have impressed me.
Today's Court of Appeals order removing her from the stop and frisk case came as a shock.  I agree that the stay of her complex injunction in the underlying case is proper. But with the General Election November 5 and a strong critic of the current police patrol practice leading the NYC mayoral race by a wide margin over a defender of the stop and search practice it is difficult to understand why the 2d Circuit panel felt compelled to take such an extreme measure as to remove the trial judge who is correctly regarded as rigorous and dedicated. In these circumstances some may see the Circuit as throwing a lightning bolt at Bill DeBlasio, the Democratic candidate for Mayor.
The briefing schedule is quite short too - with argument set for mid-March. The substantive case is likely to be resolved by the City via policy changes by the new administration in consultation with the plaintiffs and the the U.S. Department of Justice which has filed an expression of interest and has offered to participate in reforming the patrol practices.
All told the court's decision today seems injudicious.

UPDATE:  Judge Scheindlin has stated that she did not discuss the Floyd case in any of her interviews - and stated the ground rules to the reporters. Jeffrey Toobin affirms that in a post today.  And rereading the New Yorker article today it is clear that all the judge's comments are from the record, not the interview.  An AP report and other news accounts on which the 2d Circuit panel relies give another impression, as Legal Ethics Forum reports.  The Circuit panel in my opinion responded impulsively and unwisely, embroiling the court in the imminent New York mayoral election which pits a defender of the stop and frisk policy Joseph Lhota against a strong critic - Bill DeBlasio. - gwc
Court Blocks Stop-and-Frisk Changes for New York Police -
Published: October 31, 2013

A federal appeals court on Thursday halted a sweeping set of changes to the New York Police Department’s policy of stopping and frisking people on the street, and, in strikingly personal terms, criticized the trial judge’s conduct in the litigation and removed her from the case.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, “ran afoul” of the judiciary’s code of conduct by compromising the “appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation.” The panel criticized how she had steered the lawsuit to her courtroom when it was filed in early 2008.
'via Blog this'

CHART: 'Winners And Losers From Obamacare'

Xijh2tqeqtcd1misu9goCHART: 'Winners And Losers From Obamacare': "University of Michigan professor and senior Brookings fellow Justin Wolfers on Thursday created a chart depicting the "winners and losers" under the Affordable Care Act, sourced to a Ryan Lizza article that used estimates from M.I.T. economist Jon Gruber, a former adviser to Mitt Romney." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

First Zumwalt Class Stealth Destroyer Launched in Maine | gCaptain ⚓ Maritime & Offshore News

BATH, Maine (Oct. 28, 2013) The Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer DDG 1000 is floated out of dry dock at the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard. U.S. Navy photoIt does look stealthy. - GWC
Ship Photos of The Day – First Zumwalt Class Stealth Destroyer Launched in Maine | gCaptain ⚓ Maritime & Offshore News: "General Dynamics Bath Iron Works on Monday successfully launched the Navy’s first Zumwalt-class destroyer at their Bath, Maine shipyard. The ship, the future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), will be the first of three ships in the Navy’s newest destroyer class, designed for littoral operations and land attack. The ship began the transition from Bath Iron Works’ land-based construction facility to a floating dry dock on Friday. Once loaded into the dry dock, the dock was flooded and the ship was removed from its cradle. By late Monday, the dock had been flooded and the ship was floated off and tied to a pier on the Kennebec River."

'via Blog this'

Concurring Opinions » Parchment Barriers: Why Tillman and Natelson Are Wrong about the Anti-Corruption Principle

If one reads the proceedings of the federal convention - Madison's notes - it is plain that control of faction is a central principle.  Related is the concern about corruption - a subsidiary principle - because the wealth transfer by majorities that Madison feared is achieved by corruption of government.  Avoiding corruption is therefore a driving force for the first "founders".  Zephy Teachout and Lawrence Lessig are on the case. - GWC
Concurring Opinions » Parchment Barriers: Why Tillman and Natelson Are Wrong about the Anti-Corruption Principle:
by Zepyr Teachout // Fordham Law School
"I have argued in several articles and a forthcoming book that the Anti-Corruption Principle was and is a foundational constitutional principle. Larry Lessig has argued the same in a book, several articles, and a brief before the Supreme Court. He also runs a fascinating tumblr of corruption conversations at the convention. We both show how it motivated the Constitutional convention and was the overwhelming topic of the convention. The founding drafters would judge their own success or failure in terms of the Constitution in terms of whether or not it protected against corruption.  As George Mason said as the Constitutional Convention got under way: “If we do not provide against corruption, our government will soon be at an end.” I am not going to recite the argument here–its a substantial, text and history based argument. However, it leads to treating the Anti-Corruption Principle like federalism or the separation of powers–a fundamental structural part of the Constitution."

'via Blog this'

Stop The Social Security Stupidity: A Q&A With Bernie Sanders

Stop The Social Security Stupidity: A Q&A With Bernie Sanders:
No! Social Security is not going broke. According to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Trust Fund has a surplus today of $2.8 trillion. This sum, plus revenue that comes in every day, can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 20 years. In 2033, unless Congress acts, Social Security will be able to pay out only 75 percent of benefits owed. Congress must act and make Social Security strong for the next 50 to 75 years.
Is the Social Security Trust Fund "real," or is it just a pile of IOUs?
The Social Security Trust Fund is very real. Social Security invests the surplus money it receives from workers and employers into U.S. government bonds, the same bonds that China, other foreign countries and wealthy investors have purchased. These bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Here is what the Social Security Trust Fund government bond says: "This bond is incontestable in the hands of the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund. The bond is supported by the full faith and credit of the United States. And the United States is pledged to the payment of the bond with respect to both principal and interest."
Is Social Security an "entitlement program?"
Has it contributed to our deficit? Social Security is not an "entitlement program. It is an earned income benefit. The revenue from Social Security comes from FICA payroll taxes, payments made by workers and their employers. Currently, workers contribute 6.2 percent of their income in FICA taxes - up to $113,700. Their employers match their payment. By law, Social Security cannot contribute to the federal deficit. Social Security has its own independent source of funding separate from the Treasury's general fund.

'via Blog this'

Sunday, October 27, 2013

TaxProf Blog: New England Law Faculty Face 8-Course Teaching Loads, Mandatory Office Presence (M-F, 9-5) Unless 35% Accept Buyouts

New England Law | Boston plans to eliminate 14 full time faculty positions by August 1, 2014. Depending on how one counts, this is about 35-40% of the regular faculty. The School's entering class was up in 2012, but was down in 2013 and by some accounts the School has an endowment of $80,000,000. Faculty have been told by Dean John O'Brien that these 14 positions will be eliminated according to the School's needs, regardless of tenure or seniority. An incentive plan has been offered to senior faculty and certain clinical faculty, but those who don't take it have been threatened with termination. Their decisions must be final by the end of the Fall term. Those who still do not comply or were not offered the plan, were told that if they remain, their workload during the next academic year will move from 2 to as much as 4 courses per semester and that they will be required to be at their desks from 9 to 5 each day of the work week or an equivalent time period if they are teaching evening classes.
'via Blog this'

The Milgram study - the original video

The Web site won’t take down the Affordable Care Act - Jonathan Bernstein - Washington Post

The Web site won’t take down the Affordable Care Act:
by Jonathan Bernstein
I don’t think anyone believes that the Web site problems — including thepotentially even worse back-end problems — are impossible to fix. It may be that the design problems are a symptom of the complexity of the law, but that doesn’ t mean they are structurally unworkable.
The electoral schedule, meanwhile, gives everyone plenty of breathing room. The administration has plenty of time to get things fixed by November 2014. Even if health care reform is a net negative at that point, the worst that could happen is unified Republican control of Congress facing a solid veto from the White House.
And by 2017, if the Affordable Care Act is basically working, it’s highly unlikely that a unified Republican government (if that’s what 2016 produces) would repeal it, even if “Obamacare” still polls badly. At that point, it would mean taking away long-established benefits from too many people, including too many Republican voters.
So what really matters is the policy, not the electoral or congressional politics.

'via Blog this'

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Nation: The Scholars Who Shill for Wall Street (CL&P Blog)

The Nation: The Scholars Who Shill for Wall Street (CL&P Blog): "by Jeff Sovern
 I frequently post links to scholars' articles on consumer law issues, including pieces by George Mason's Todd J. Zywicki, like this one.  The Nation recently published a piece reporting on professors who also work for Wall Street-funded operations without disclosing that in, as The Nation put it, their "university profile, CV, byline or congressional testimony." Zywicki was the first academic discussed in the article.  My own view is that scholars who receive money from the financial industry and write on matters that deal with that industry should disclose that, but I'm not aware of any ethical rules requiring such disclosure, though there should be. I should also note that I don't know Zywicki and certainly have no reason to think his views are affected by the money he receives from financial firms. Still, if you read the articles I link to, bear in mind that other authors may also have an undisclosed interest.  And in the interest of disclosure, I should report that two of my relatives work for banks and a third works for an internet company. " 'via Blog this'

Eastport Road Map: Global Meets Local in a Very Small Town - James Fallows - The Atlantic

Maine is east of New York.  Contrary to those who think of it as north.  For that reason Eastport (hint) was busier than every port but New York in the Europe - America trade until the Civil War.  The result is that tiny Eastport (pop. 1,300) thinks global as well as local.  James Fallows tells the story in his American Futures series. - GWC
Eastport Road Map: Global Meets Local in a Very Small Town - James Fallows - The Atlantic:
Items on the upcoming-features list include:
  • The "Women of The Commons" and the gamble they have made to try to revive part of the historic downtown, which not long ago was largely boarded-up;
  • The ups and downs of the "aquaculture" business, and what it looks like to stand on a pen in which 25,000 salmon are being fed -- right next to other pens that together hold half a million fish;
  • Why it is the best, and worst (but mainly best), of times for local lobstermen;
  • What that garish fisherman statue, shown in the photo at top, is doing in the middle of town -- hint, the answer involves Fox TV;
  • How an economy and community work when most people assume they will need to hold 3 or 4 or 5 simultaneous jobs (a theme of yesterday's Marketplace report);
  • The role of the nearby Maine Maritime Academy, one of several ways in which the town that is short on young people is trying to entice more of them to stay;
  • The startling ambitions of the Ocean Renewable Power Corporation; 
  • The also-startling but different ambitions of the local Port Authority, as they involve products ranging from live cattle to "torrefied" wood -- and how the turmoil in Syria has affected them;
  • The role of one local family in developing a (viable!) print newspaper, run by one brother and his wife, while the other brother has developed a city museum, begun a nascent set of artist studios, and restored derelict buildings. All of this within the confines of the four-block-long downtown;
  • Why one experienced local mariner and big-ship pilot runs a global fish business from his home in Eastport, and another runs his manufacturing yard in the city;
  • What a local co-op is doing to revive the scallop fishery, and shift the fishermen to a much more advantageous place on the value-added chain;
  • How an Eat Local movement brings together local farmers, residents, and restaurants; 
  • The economic, cultural, educational, and other interactions between the town and the adjoining Passamaquoddy reservations;
  • What Eastport's 120-student Shead High School looks like;
  • Some of the special language planning and usage of Eastport;
  • How three restaurants, a coffee shop, a theater company, and an orchestra eke out an existence here;
  • The battle to bring back the railroad; and
  • The importance of location, location, location, as illustrated below.
Plus a lot else. All of this with the theme of people in the middle of what they universally recognize as a struggle for a town's survival. Again I am piling these up in a list not for spoiler purposes but to indicate the same thing we repeatedly encountered in China: the density and surprise of local experience, and its connection to larger national and global trends.
'via Blog this'

New Jersey - Marriage Equality Through Dialogue //NJ Law Journal Editorial Board

The New Jersey Supreme Court declined to stay the order of Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson allowing same-sex marriage in New Jersey.  The Law Journal's Editorial Board - long a supporter - celebrated the victory and urged the Legislature to override Governor Chris Christie's veto of S.1 which would embed the right in statute - and provide conscience protections for those - like ministers - who object on grounds of religious doctrine. - GWC
Marriage Equality Through Dialogue:by the Editorial Board of the New Jersey Law Journal
Finally, we note that the history of this issue is not that of judicial fiat. The state Supreme Court stayed its hand in Lewis in 2006, allowing the experiment of civil unions. The Legislature created civil-union status, studied it and concluded that it could not achieve equality with marriage. The Supreme Court again stayed its hand in Garden State Equality in 2011, directing the litigants to develop a factual record. In 2012, S-1 was passed but failed to become law thanks to the governor's veto. The Legislature declined, rightly we think, the governor's proposal to present the issue of minority rights to a popular referendum. But the accelerating embrace of marriage equality in America led to last summer's landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Windsor, fundamentally shifting the ground.
What we have witnessed is a complex dialogue among the three branches of the government and an interested citizenry about evolving views. The result is a victory of democracy in action, bending the arc of history toward justice.
Board members Ronald Chen, Lawrence Lustberg and Edwin Stern recused from this editorial.
p.s. Chen filed an amicus brief for the New Jersey ACLU, Lustbeg was lead lawyer for Garden State Equality and Stern is of counsel to Gibbons,P.C. - counsel for plaintiffs.  I am a member of the Law Journal's Editorial Board. - gwc

Read more:

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HHS gives update on exchange data - Paige Winfield Cunningham -

HHS gives update on exchange data - Paige Winfield Cunningham - " IRS has received more then 330,000 requests from federally run and state-run exchanges to calculate the eligibility of individuals and households for insurance tax credits, according to a blog posted Saturday by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The agency has also responded to more than 1.3 million requests for income data, she said. The blog post highlights the data hub, a central system that transmits information from multiple federal agencies including the IRS and the Social Security Administration to the exchanges to help determine eligibility for coverage."

'via Blog this'

In Mess Bo Xilai Left Behind, An Opportunity for Beijing to Set Things Right - China Real Time Report - WSJ

In Mess Bo Xilai Left Behind, An Opportunity for Beijing to Set Things Right - China Real Time Report - WSJ: by Stanley Lubman
The Higher People’s Court in Shandong rejected an appeal on Friday by Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party boss in Chongqing who was convicted last month of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. While that expected decision likely ends the legal drama surrounding Bo himself, many of those he attacked in Chongqing are still waiting for closure.
Gross illegalities allegedly committed by the Chongqing police during the so-called “Smash the Black” campaigns ordered by Bo Xilai have yet to be reviewed or reopened.  Some of the victims of the police actions, which supposedly targeted organized crime between 2007 and 2012, are now demanding compensation for their illegal punishment.
card players on the banks of the Yangtze, Chongqing
While digging through the mountain of claims will not be an easy task, it presents the Chinese leadership with an opportunity to demonstrate to police, prosecutors and courts nationwide that illegalities committed in the course of criminal prosecutions will not be tolerated.
'via Blog this'

ObamaCare Myths & Truths: Employer Mandate's Impact On Jobs, Hours -

Here's the problem: Walmart, Target, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and other low margin low wage operations want to keep wages and costs low.  The employer mandate (employers of 50 or more must provide health insurance for full-time workers) have an incentive to cut hours below 30 to avoid the cost.  - GWC
ObamaCare Myths & Truths: Employer Mandate's Impact On Jobs, Hours - by Jed Graham
"In short, there is nothing anyone on the right or the left should like about the employer mandate as it now stands. So what should be done about it? The one fix on the table is to change the definition of full-time to 40 hours, but that may not be workable. Many millions of workers could see hours capped at 39-hour weeks and get shifted to the exchanges. My idea focuses on helping the low-wage workers who are getting hurt and reduces the incentive to cap hours without taking employers completely off the hook. I propose eliminating the employer mandate for wages below $10 an hour and gradually phasing in the penalties so they only apply in full at $20 an hour. Only employees earning at least $20 per hour would count when it comes to determining whether an employer offers coverage to 95% of full-time workers. (Failure to offer coverage to 95% exposes an employer to a $2,000 penalty per full-time-equivalent worker instead of just $3,000 per full-time worker who accesses exchange subsidies.)"
'via Blog this'

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dominicans of Haitian Descent Cast Into Legal Limbo by Court -

The west of Hispaniola is Haiti.  Haitians
do much of the low wage labor in the Dominican Republic

Thank god for John Bingham the Founding Son who drafted the 14th Amendment which begins "Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside".  That reversed Dred Scott v. Sandford and barred racist measures like the statelessness which the Dominican Republic's Supreme Court has visited upon thousands of persons born in the DR of Haitian parents. - GWC
Dominicans of Haitian Descent Cast Into Legal Limbo by Court - 'via Blog this'
by Randall C. Archibold
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — For generations, people of Haitian descent have been an inextricable part of life here, often looked at with suspicion and dismay, but largely relied on all the same to clean rooms, build things cheaply and provide the backbreaking labor needed on the country’s vast sugar plantations.
Now, intensifying a long and furious debate over their place in this society, the nation’s top court has declared that the children of undocumented Haitian migrants — even those born on Dominican soil decades ago — are no longer entitled to citizenship, throwing into doubt the status of tens of thousands of people here who have never known any other national identity.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Paul Ryan Joins Chorus Calling For Sebelius' Resignation

Because he wants `Obamacare' to succeed?
Paul Ryan Joins Chorus Calling For Sebelius' Resignation:

'via Blog this'

The Cry of the True Republican - John G. Taft -

The Cry of the True Republican -
by John G. Taft
I am a genetic Republican.
Throughout my family’s more than 170-year legacy of public service, Republicans have represented the voice of fiscal conservatism. Republicans have been the adults in the room. Yet somehow the current generation of party activists has managed to do what no previous Republicans have been able to do — position the Democratic Party as the agents of fiscal responsibility.....

'via Blog this'

The Shanghai Secret -

They don't denounce the teachers and they don't do "charter schools".  They train teachers. - gwc
The Shanghai Secret - by Thomas Friedman
 How is it that Shanghai’s public secondary schools topped the world charts in the 2009 PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) exams that measure the ability of 15-year-olds in 65 countries to apply what they’ve learned in math, science and reading.After visiting Shanghai’s Qiangwei Primary School, with 754 students — grades one through five — and 59 teachers, I think I found The Secret:There is no secret.When you sit in on a class here and meet with the principal and teachers, what you find is a relentless focus on all the basics that we know make for high-performing schools but that are difficult to pull off consistently across an entire school system. These are: a deep commitment to teacher training, peer-to-peer learning and constant professional development, a deep involvement of parents in their children’s learning, an insistence by the school’s leadership on the highest standards and a culture that prizes education and respects teachers.
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Major NJ firms: Laterals and Clerks Dominate New-Associate Ranks, Study Finds

Laterals and Clerks Are Dominating New-Associate Ranks, Study Finds:
by David Gialeanella// New Jersey Law Journal
New Jersey firms and branches most actively hiring associates are targeting prospects with real-world experience—making it tougher for new graduates to get a foot in the door. That's the takeaway of a Law Journal survey finding that of the 210 associates recruited at 24 bellwether firms during the 2013 hiring year, 41.9 percent (88) were lateral hires. See chart.Another 62 hires (29.5 percent) were without practice experience but still had completed postgraduate clerkships before joining their firms. Overall Together, laterals and former clerks accounted for 71.4 percent of the top 24 firms' hires. Only 28.6 percent (60 associates) were hired out of law school.
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Why the right fights - Ross Douthat - NY Times

Ross Douthat explains the Tea Party, and "movement conservatives" with admirable clarity.
Why The Right Fights -
by Ross Douthat

To understand how we ended up in this strange political moment, with the federal government shuttered in pursuit of a political goal that most elected Republicans concede is well-nigh-impossible to achieve, it’s worth talking not only about polarization and redistricting and the conservative media landscape and anti-Obama sentiment and the weakening of institutional party power, but also about a more basic, often-underappreciated element in how many movement conservatives regard the history of the last forty years. To explain this point, I’ll start with a quote from David Frum’s great book “Dead Right,” which was written in the early 1990s, in what seemed like a period of exhaustion and defeat for limited-government conservatism, just before the 1994 congressional sweep gave that movement new political life. Here’s how the Frum of that era — who was much more of a small-government rigorist than he is today — depicted the Reagan years and their implications for the right:
However heady the 1980s may have looked to everyone else, they were for conservatives a testing and disillusioning time. Conservatives owned the executive branch for eight years and had great influence over it for four more; they dominated the Senate for six years; and by the end of the decade they exercised near complete control over the federal judiciary. And yet, every time they reached to undo the work of Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon — the work they had damned for nearly half a century — they felt the public’s wary eyes upon them. They didn’t dare, and they realized that they didn’t dare. Their moment came and flickered. And as the power of the conservative movement slowly ebbed after 1986, and then roared away in 1992, the conservatives who had lived through that attack of faintheartedness shamefacedly felt that they had better hurry up and find something else to talk about …


Bluffing only works if the other side thinks you are not bluffing.
The debacle of the last debt ceiling crisis worked out differently because Obama and the Democrats believed the Republicans were not bluffing - that they really would force the nation to default on its obligations.  And Obama beleived them.

But the public reaction to that and the fact that everyone believed Obama was not bluffing - that he would veto anything but a "clean" bill that continues to fund the government. - GWC

John Boehner:
"We're not going to pass a clean debt limit increase," House Speaker John Boehner warned the country on Oct. 6. "I told the president, there's no way we're going to pass one. The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us."

The Myth of the Medical-Device Tax -

The Myth of the Medical-Device Tax - "The medical-device industry faces virtually no price competition. Because of confidentiality agreements that manufacturers require hospitals to sign, the prices of the devices are cloaked in secrecy. This lack of transparency impedes hospitals from sharing price information and thus knowing whether they are getting a good deal. Even worse, manufacturers often maintain personal relationships (sometimes involving financial payments like consulting fees) with physicians who choose the medical devices that their hospitals purchase, creating a conflict of interest. Physicians often don’t even know the costs of the devices, and individual physicians often choose devices on their own, which weakens a hospital’s ability to bargain for volume discounts."

'via Blog this'

Number 3 Water Tunnel now serves all of Manhattan

After Decades, a Water Tunnel Can Now Serve All of Manhattan - "There have been 350-pound steel cutters, a 70-foot-long tunnel-boring machine and heaps of Manhattan schist. There have been generations of workers, known as sandhogs, charged with blasting through, hearing be damned, then resurfacing above ground to find, as one worker observed in 1973, that “you’re still shouting” long after a return home.
And there have been deaths, 24 of them, for many years “a man a mile,” in sandhog parlance. For those with decades of experience underground, or who had fathers or uncles or even grandfathers who toiled in one of the three tunnels, the memories are resilient enough to preclude even the faintest discussion of the better fortunes of recent years."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Obama - Thanks to all who made their voices heard

My offer is this...Nothing

Like others on the Left I have longed for President Obama to say `no more Mister Niceguy' to those, like Mitch McConnell, who thought nothing was more important than a failed Obama presidency.  Negotiation for them was not a good faith effort.  So now that the GOP is about to fold on defunding Obamacare, we have to credit the President with standing firm.  We know that the Republicans (inaptly) sang Amazing Grace to psych themselves up for the rumble before the crumble.  Did Obama watch the Godfather to prepare for his meetings with Boehner and McConnell?

Apocalypse Now - the Heritage Action view of the world

Jim DeMint resigned from the Senate to head up the Heritage Foundation.  A step down?  Many see it as a step up - to become effectively the Speaker of the House, eviscerating John Boehner's leadership.  This video - issued a day after President Obama's re-election - expresses their apocalyptic vision.

Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Oppose Stay of Court Mandate

The strong impulse on the New Jersey high court is probably to stay a trial judge's order allowing same sex marriage beginning October 21.  Garden State Equality - the plaintiffs - oppose the stay in a brief filed yesterday.  The state's Supreme Court has set an expedited briefing schedule, and will hear argument in early January.   But if they see the merits as very strong, why wait?   If they allow same sex marriage the beneficiaries won't be able to retroactively marry to get the tax breaks or Social Security benefits to which marriage would entitle them.
What, really, could be the basis for denying the right of same sex couples to marry since the Court, in Lewis v. Harris mandated equality between civil unions and marriage.  The Legislature has concluded that only marriage achieves equality, and the United States has said that only those who are married are entitled to federal spousal benefits.   In the ordinary case the strong policy of deference to the Legislature would come into play.  But here the only obstacle to permitting same sex marriage is Governor Chris Christie who vetoed `S-1' which would have allowed gay marriage.  There is no doctrine of deference to a Governor's policy preferences that matches that of deference to the legislature. - GWC
Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Oppose Stay of Court Mandate:
Gay couples who won a New Jersey state court ruling that they have the right to marry say they would be irreparably harmed if a stay is imposed pending a Supreme Court appeal.
In papers filed Tuesday, the plaintiffs say the state's motion for a stay of the Oct. 21 implementation date would affect the couples' "fundamental personal, familial and financial security."
Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson granted summary judgment on Sept. 27 in Garden State Equality v. Dow to gay-rights organization Garden State Equality, six same-sex couples and their children.
Jacobson found that the state was obligated to allow same-sex marriage in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor. It said legally married same-sex couples were entitled to the same federal benefits granted to other married couples.

Read more:

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Five myths about the Roberts court - Mark Tushnet // Washington Post

Five myths about the Roberts court - Washington Post:
1The Roberts court just calls balls and strikes.
2The justices are political partisans, just like Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
3Roberts’s vote in the Affordable Care Act case was an act of cowardice (or of statesmanship).
4The Roberts court is a strong defender of free speech. 
5Justice Clarence Thomas doesn’t contribute much to the court’s jurisprudence. 
Mark Tushnet is a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School and the author of “In the Balance: Law and Politics on the Roberts Court.”

'via Blog this'

It’s still extortion for the sake of extortion - Jonathan Bernstein

The inevitable Republican surrender is one step closer now that Boehner can't put together anything that can gain Democratic assent, which, since they hold a majority in the Senate, is necessary.  Why then do the Democrats hold the cards?  Because default really is an unacceptable option - and everyone knows that it would be the Republican Party's fault if it happened.  The U.S. as the rock of Gibraltar is not something Americans are willing to abandon.  We pay our bills.  The block quote blow is Bernstein quoting himself back in May - which he is entitled to do because he was right then and now.   He has become one of our most prolific and insightful political observers.  His work appears in Salon, American Prospect, the Washington Post and his own A Plain Blog About Politics.  - GWC
It’s still extortion for the sake of extortion:
by Jonathan Bernstein // Washington Post
I]t’s not really about Republicans demanding debt reduction and using the best leverage they have available to get it. Nor is it about Republicans demanding tax reform — their other possible demand — and using the best leverage they have to get it.
No, it’s the other way around. The House crazy caucus is demanding not debt reduction, not spending cuts, not budget balancing, but blackmail itself. That’s really the demand: The speaker and House Republican leaders absolutely must use the debt limit as extortion. What should they use it to get? Apparently, that’s pretty much up for grabs, as long as it seems really, really, big — which probably comes down to meaning that the Democrats really, really don’t like it.

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Boehner's Last Stand -

Boehner's Last Stand -
by David Firestone - NY Times Editorial Board

The nature of Speaker John Boehner’s final battle with the White House on the budget crisis is now clear: It doesn’t matter what House Republicans win in exchange for raising the debt ceiling and re-opening government, as long as they win something.
Gone is the big talk about “defunding Obamacare.” Gone are the demands for delaying the health law, or delaying the individual mandate, or delaying the medical device tax. The final stand, according to the latest reports, is simply this: remove the health insurance subsidies for members of Congress, some executive branch officials, and some of their staffs. (Those staff members are furious about the potential cut to their incomes, and many have threatened to quit.)

If that seems a paltry prize to win for causing this destructive, embarrassing crisis, that’s because it is. But this fight really has nothing to do with the subsidies. It’s all about not walking away empty handed, about Mr. Boehner persuading his Republican members that they forced President Obama to give something up in exchange for not wreaking havoc on the economy.
A look at the widespread effects of the federal shutdown by members of the editorial board.
And that’s precisely why the president can’t agree to it, even though the impact (for all but Congressional staffers) would be minimal.

'via Blog this'

Appalling hypocrisy, not Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is a song of gratitude to God for lifting us from the burden of our own sins.  It is a song of humility written by a repentant slave trader.
There is little more offensive than self-righteousness presenting itself as humility.  That's what the Republican Congressional caucus did today - singing Amazing Grace as a fight song for wrecking the economy in the name of saving it, of denying health insurance to people who until now could not afford it.  Appalling, not amazing. - GWC

Monday, October 14, 2013

The GOP isn’t going anywhere - Jonathan Bernstein -

Jonathan Bernstein usually gets it right.  And he is right here about the Republican split.  They believe that we have too much government.   Those who disagree are Democrats.  the country is pretty closely split.  That plus winner take all elections will keep us one nation, two parties, not three. And independents won't take over, either - despite odd ball states like Maine that have tolerated independents who are really ideological Democrats who can't get the party's nomination but can run a large enough campaign to win in a small state. - GWC
The GOP isn’t going anywhere -
by Jonathan Bernstein.
Yes, Republicans not only have badly hurt their image in the shutdown and debt limit battle, but they have revealed bitter internal conflicts.
Stinks to be them, right? Right.
For now.
But don’t leap to any great conclusions about where things are headed in the future.
Too many critics of the GOP are doing exactly that right now. John Judis, for example, wrote in The New Republic this week:
There is a growing fear among Washington Republicans that the party, which has lost two national elections in a row, is headed for history’s dustbin. And I believe that they are right to worry.
No, they are not. There are good reasons why Democrats and Republicans have persisted as major parties since the Civil War, and why they’ve maintained roughly equal strength for a couple of generations now. It’s highly unlikely that’s going to change.  'via Blog this'

Twas the night before shutdown - Andrew Sprung // xpostfactoid

As you know I am a fan of Andrew Sprung whose commentary appears at xpostfactoid.  He writes:

Yesterday, Kurt Eichenwald tweeted: 

Night before shutdown, House changed its rules so that ONLY GOP leadership could bring budget to floor. But it's the "Obama shutdown." Sigh..

The language sounded familiar, and seemed to gallop of its own accord as below -- with an assist from Matt Glassman as noted (MG):

Twas the night before shutdown: the House changed its rules
To hold us all hostage to vain spiteful fools.

Poison pills had been stuffed in the CR with care
To deprive shiftless "others" of Obamacare.

A Senate CR, disenfected and clean,
Was now blocked from a vote by the rightwing machine.

And Boehner with his baritone, and Cruz with his glower,
Took to podiums to prove gu'mmint could not sink lower.

So workers were furloughed and services shuttered.
The president was grounded, th'economy sputtered...

And all of a sudden the government mattered!
And Cruz and his crew with their own spite were spattered.

So what did they did pass, as we writhed in our beds,
But some mini-CRs and back pay for feds. (MG)

Obama stood firm as the debt ceiling loomed,
While Chait, Cohn and Epps feared the country was doomed.

Then Reid and McConnell to a rescue purported
uncertainly rode while the Tea Party snorted,

And Ryan with a smile served up more poison pills
As Collins blew a trumpet for corporate shills:

"Kill the medical device tax! Extend the sequester!"
Meanwhile Cruz crashed a barricade, abreast of Queen Esther,

'Neath banners bespeaking the hot patriotism
of those wed to states' rights, sequester and schism,

Proudly proclaiming that those most inveterate
To defund Obamacare were, in fact, confederate.

To be continued....

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Getting off with your lover" / Lost in love

Chinglish is the sometimes comical insertion of Chinese grammatical constructions into colloquial English speech.  Usually you can reverse engineer it to identify the Chinese original.  But some things are just lost in translation.
This goofy sign could better have been translated as "Lost in love?  Watch your purse!"  The bold type begins with a Chinese set phrase, or four character chengyu 成语: "before flowers, under moon" 花前月下.

Victor Mair at Language Log explains:
The expression "huāqián yuèxià" 花前月下 ("in front of the flowers and beneath the moon") derives from a heptasyllabic quatrain entitled " Lǎo bìng" 老病 ("Old and Ill") by the famous Tang poet Bo Juyi 白居易 (772-846), the first two lines of which read:
Zhòu tīng shēnggē yè zuì mián, ruòfēi yuè xià jí huā qián
昼听笙歌夜醉眠, 若非月下即花前。
By day listening to music and song, by night in a drunken sleep;
If not beneath the moon, then in front of the flowers.

New Jersey Supreme Court Grants Direct Review of Gay Marriage Case

The New Jersey Supreme Court has granted direct review of Garden State Equality v. Dow - a request made by both plaintiffs and the administration of Governor Chris Christie.  Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson last month ordered the state to begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting October 21.  Jacobson denied the state's motion for a stay but the Supreme Court has now taken jurisdiction of that issue too.  The high court issued an expedited briefing schedule and set January 6 - 7 for oral argument.  The New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board has urged a quick decision so that same-sex couples could take advantage of federal tax laws by marrying before year-end.  But a stay pending the final ruling appears inevitable in light of the court's schedule.  The marriage equality case will present the first hot-button issue before the court with Fausto Fernandez, Christie's second successful nominee on the top court's bench.
The case moved to the top of the docket because the high court's command that civil union must be the equal of marriage appears impossible to achieve since Windsor v. U.S. extends equal protection to married couples, not to those in civil unions.  - GWC

To end government shutdowns, end partisan gerrymandering | Al Jazeera America

Of course concentration of Democratic votes in the cities explains some of the failure of Congress to reflect the national vote totals.  But the single-district representation system (rahter than proportional) is the underlying cause of the disparity.  Were it not for that Democrats would have a modest majority, similar to the five point majority President Obama achieved in his re-election. -gwc
To end government shutdowns, end partisan gerrymandering | Al Jazeera America:
by Sanford Levinson //University of Texas Law School
The U.S. government shutdown — not to mention the fear of a debt-default crisis — ­has caused analysts to work overtime offering reasons to explain the dysfunction. Blame is regularly placed on the increasing polarization of the two parties; the roles played in setting the conversational agenda by talk radio and cable news; and, of course, the truly "American exceptional" way that we finance our election campaigns.All these explanations have some weight, but far more important are basic structural features of the American political system established by the U.S. Constitution in 1787. In fact, the current impasse is exactly how a system of representation based on partisan gerrymandering functions.We are now seeing an especially vivid example of the costs that can emerge in a system of bicameralism in which each house — one of them (the Senate) distorted by a system that gives grotesquely excessive power to small states, the other (the House) equally distorted by the degree to which partisan gerrymandering has served to render general elections near-irrelevant because only the primaries really matter in most districts — possesses a veto over the other. Although it is sometimes said, falsely, that Americans in general prefer divided government, one look at the current approval rates of Congress —recent polls range from 5 to 11 percent— suggest that nearly all Americans today regard with contempt how such a government governs, or actually shuts itself down.

'via Blog this'

Here’s How to Avoid a Debt Ceiling Disaster: Norm Ornstein | Daily Ticker - Yahoo Finance

Norman Ornstein is "more fearful" than he has ever been.  As he contemplates the rolling debacle, he offers a face-saving way for the Republican leadership to back down - and advance the cause of stability - without losing face - the McConnell Rule.  Such legislative maneuvers feel like game playing.  bu this game counts. - gwc
Video: Here’s How to Avoid a Debt Ceiling Disaster: Norm Ornstein | Daily Ticker - Yahoo Finance:
trade a single concession to end debt ceiling terrorism forever:

Here's how the McConnell Rule would work, according to Orstein: The president raises the debt ceiling; Congress votes a resolution of disapproval; the president vetoes that resolution, which requires a 2/3 vote to overturn and is unlikely to happen.

"If you made that permanent in law, then it seems to me you can really make some concessions whether they are on minor pieces of the Affordable Care Act like the tax on medical devices...or even some things related to the budget," says Ornstein. "Then you could end up with something that becomes a win for the American people looking to the future and not a loss/loss for the political actors."
h/t Andrew Sprung - xpostfactoid
'via Blog this'

Editorial: The N.J. shutdown - Bipartisan stalemate over state Supreme Court nominees |

The Trenton Times editorial board continues to try to focus the attention of the New Jersey public and its political leaders to the now almost four year crisis on the New Jersey Supreme Court.  - GWC
Editorial: The N.J. shutdown - Bipartisan stalemate over state Supreme Court nominees |
As the federal government shutdown continues thanks to a tea party tantrum, New Jersey is experiencing a judicial impasse.
It began when Gov. Chris Christie broke with decades of precedent and denied tenure to Supreme Court Justice John Wallace. Christie made no bones about his aim – to dismantle what he called “an activist court” following decisions with which he disagrees.***
In the midst of all this, Christie declined to reappoint Justice Helen Hoens to a tenured second term on the bench. The governor explained he was saving her from the “animals” in the Senate he apparently sees as set on devouring any Republican he sends their way.
Losing Hoens diminishes the high court. She has lived, she said, “in the margins and the shadows of society” raising her autistic son. Her experience and her perspective were unique on the bench, but not among those who brought their cases before it.
Gov. Christie and leading Democrats must look beyond the superficialities of party affiliation; they must consider more than satisfying a checklist of litmus tests.
'via Blog this'

Friday, October 11, 2013

The party that loses by winning | xpostfactoid

How do the Republicans manage to extract so much blood from those with little?  Is it because even the Dems in Congress are basically too rich to understand the pain they inflict?  Is Obama a poor negotiator? Or does he have little leverage when extremists are in control of the House of Representatives? Read the grim story laid out by Andrew Sprung. - GWC
The party that loses by winning | xpostfactoid:

The party that loses by winning

On July 4, 2011, when the Republicans were in the process of nailing Obama to the debt ceiling, David Brooks wrote:
If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred billion dollars of revenue increases.
With about $4 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years the agreed target, Obama was ready to settle for just $800 billion in new revenue, a roughly 4-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to revenue (with gains booked through reduced interest payments). But the GOP passed up 'the deal of the century. A four-fifths win for the no-new-taxes ever crowd wasn't good enough for them.

'via Blog this'

Some Dems Say Medical Device Tax Repeal Is A 'Moronic' Idea

Taxes are needed to fund the subsidies.  Count me among the strong skeptics on this scheme. - GWC
Some Dems Say Medical Device Tax Repeal Is A 'Moronic' Idea: by Sahil Kapur // Talking Points Memo
"A tax on medical device manufacturers under Obamacare has become a top target in the shutdown and debt limit showdowns. The House has voted to repeal the tax and the push has bipartisan support in the Senate. It was floated by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) during a White House meeting Friday as part of a broader proposal to resolve the impasse."
Here's the back story: during the health care reform debate of 2009, major industry players -- hospitals, doctors, insurers and others -- came to the negotiating table and offered substantial concessions in exchange for the new customers the law would bring them. The medical device industry, however, refused to play ball and got slapped with the 2.3 percent excise tax, which will raise roughly $30 billion over 10 years to help finance the law.
Device makers have since waged an all-out war against the tax, warning that it would harm jobs, growth and medical innovation. AdvaMed, the industry's top lobbying group, has made it its mission to repeal the fee, and is winning the fight by already making the provision an exceedingly rare component of Obamacare which faces strong bipartisan opposition.
"We are very pleased with the broad bipartisan interest in repealing the device tax, and the level of focus and attention to this urgent issue," said Wanda Moebius, a spokesperson for AdvaMed. "The House has now passed repeal legislation twice in a bipartisan fashion. We urge Congress to act to address this onerous tax this year, which has already resulted in lost jobs, cuts in R&D and threatens our global leadership in the development of new medical technologies."
Repealing the tax got the votes of No. 2 and No. 3 Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with liberal stalwarts like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Al Franken (D-MN). The Republican-led House is strongly supportive of axing it.

'via Blog this'

Facing Drop in Applications, Law Schools Cut Costs

Facing Drop in Applications, Law Schools Cut Costs:

'via Blog this'

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Justice Hoens of N.J. Supreme Court Steps Down | State | -- Your State. Your News.

Helen Hoens, former Associate Justice
Supreme Court of New Jersey
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made his Youtube reputation by telling off people he disagreed with - like teachers who didn't want their pensions cut, or their tenure threatened.  He denounced judges who ruled against him on pensions, schools, and open housing.  But everyone was taken aback when he made a politically convenient deal to dismiss a competent and experienced conservative Supreme Court Justice,  a veteran appellate judge and replace her with an amiable but undistinguished supervising judge from south Jersey.
Justice Helen Hoens - a consistent conservative - delivered emotional closing remarks to colleagues, citing as a driving force in her jurisprudence her experience as the mother of an autistic child.  - GWC
Justice Hoens of N.J. Supreme Court Steps Down | State | -- Your State. Your News.:
It has been two years since the last New Jersey Supreme Court Justice resigned from his or her position and on Tuesday, the New Jersey political system experienced the same situation when Supreme Court Justice Helen Hoens stepped down.
Justice Hoens, who has been on the court since 2006 after being a Superior Court judge for 12 years, gave a farewell speech to her fellow justices as well as her friends and family as she sat at the bench, reported The Asbury Park Press.
In her speech, Hoens credits motherhood with the qualities she has used while sitting on the bench. "Every important thing I ever became, all of the qualities like patience and compassion and strength and courage, all of it was forged on the anvil of autism," Hoen’s said, reported, "the truth of it is, I have never left the margins of society. I have never left the people like my son, the people in the shadows, the folks that the important people don’t see or just don’t want to see."
While Hoens was delivering her speech, in which she says she “wasn’t planning on leaving quite so soon," her fellow justices grew visibly emotional, and Justice Jaynee LaVecchia said the court “would suffer from Hoen’s ‘untimely departure," while Justice Barry Albin said, “her absence would be ‘sorely felt’” according to

'via Blog this'

Judge Says New Jersey Can Begin Allowing Same-Sex Marriages in Two Weeks -

Superior Court judge Mary Jacobson acted to protect the ability of New Jersey gay and lesbian couples to obtain federal tax and other benefits by denying the Christie administration's request for a stay of her ruling - effective October 21 - that New Jersey must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  The Attorney General will now go to the Appellate Division to stay Jacobson's historic ruling.  The Governor has asked the state Supreme Court to skip review by the intermediate court and hear the case itself. 
In a recent editorial the New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board calls on the Supreme Court to accept the case and decide it on an expedited basis.  If couples marry or convert their status from civil unon to married by December 31 they can obtain federal tax benefits for 2013.  - GWC
Judge Says New Jersey Can Begin Allowing Same-Sex Marriages in Two Weeks -  by Kate Zernike
"“There is no ‘public interest’ in depriving a class of New Jersey residents their constitutional rights while appellate review is pursued,” wrote Judge Mary C. Jacobson of State Superior Court in Mercer County, who also wrote the decision last month that ordered the state to allow same-sex marriages. “On the contrary, granting a stay would simply allow the State to continue to violate the equal protection rights of New Jersey same-sex couples, which can hardly be considered a public interest.”"

'via Blog this'

CNN Survey on Obamacare Shows 1/3 of Obamacare critics think it's too conservative – AARP

The depth of Americans ignorance is compounded by their fear of change.  That explains much of the resistance to the Affordable Care Act.  Of course many object to the subsidies for the undeserving (which usually means `anybody but me').  But 16% of respondents object because it doesn't go far enough to guarantee affordable health care for all.  - GWC
CNN Survey on Obamacare Shows 43 Percent of Americans Support Law – AARP:
A lot of Americans say they oppose President Obama’s health care reform law. But you may be surprised to learn that of all those who say they oppose the 2010 law because its approach to health care is “too liberal” (35 percent), nearly half again as many oppose it because they think it’s “not liberal enough” (16 percent).
healthcare-symbolThis from a recent CNN/ORC survey that shows 43 percent of all Americans in favor of Obamacare — a figure that, for all the politicking on both sides, hasn’t really changed in a year. Opposition from the “too liberal” camp has softened a bit (down from 37 percent in March 2012), while opposition from the “not liberal enough” camp is significantly stronger (up from 10 percent in March 2012).
'via Blog this'