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Steve Shiffrin
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My daughter Seana gave me a wonderful mystery set in Los Angeles, entitled An Old Man's Game. It is smart, funny, and richly entertaining. I am now reading the second in the series (in both Amos Parisman is the detective - Andy Weinberger is the author). So far, another winner. Highly recommended. Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2021 at
In May of this year, I renewed my membership in the New York bar. The renewal was processed on May 27. On August 27, the Bar sent a notice confirming my renewal. I received the notice a few days after the election - more than 2 months later! Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2020 at
The Republicans refused to consider more than 100 judicial nominees by President Barack Obama, including 19 Court of Appeals nominees and the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. All of those seats are stolen seats. Thieves should not be rewarded. Expand the federal courts. The above is from my cousin Brian Shiffrin My suggestion would be the addition of two seats for each stolen judge to discourage future thefts. Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2020 at
Ordinarily the Justice Department prosecutes those who interfere with or threaten voters. This year there is a worry that the Justice Department might abdicate its duties. It is time to recall that the Manner of holding elections is first reserved to the Legislatures of the several states (subject to Congressional override). Anyone interfering with the prescribed manner of elections could be subject to criminal prosecution if the legislature saw fit Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2020 at
Donald Trump refused to abide by the rules he promised to keep in the first Presidential debate. There is no reason to believe he will now respect his promises. Joe Biden should seriously consider refusing to engage in future debates, or at least moderators should cut off Trump's mike. Failing that Biden should leave the stage. Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2020 at
Professor Jonathan Turley has recently referred to the rapid loss of free speech values on campuses across the United States with special emphasis on Cornell. His post discussing this contains inaccurate and misconceived claims. The impetus for his broad attack involves the writings of William Jacobson and criticism thereof. William Jacobson is a securities law clinical professor at the Cornell Law School who holds conservative views that to my mind are over the top. He says, “You send your kids to public schools and colleges, where they are taught from their earliest years that America and capitalism are the sources of evil in the world . . . while socialist and communist systems are more equal and fair.” In fact, what distinguishes public schools in our federal system is the diversity of messages and values that are reflected in our great country. You would have to look long... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2020 at
Why can be done about police brutality and criminal misconduct? The murder of George Floyd was shocking and depraved. That other officers did not intervene is also indefensible. So also, is the behavior of officers who fired rubber bullets at peaceful law- abiding demonstrators including members of the press. The audacity of these officers is appalling. Suppose a private citizen murdered another citizen in front of police officers. In the absence of collusion, wouldn’t the officers try to stop the murder and arrest the citizen? Suppose private citizens fired rubber bullets at citizens involved in a lawful protest or shot them at members of the press? Wouldn’t the officers arrest the private citizens for their criminal conduct. What accounts for the daring of the officers who engage in criminal conduct? The fact is that the odds that these officers would be arrested by another police officer is quite small. As... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2020 at
Over the weekend, Barton Swaim, a Wall Street Journal writer claims that liberalism is dead, and that Joe Biden has no vision for the future. Indeed, Swaim states that Biden and liberalism only have a vision for the past. “The important thing about modern American liberalism, he says, is that it is a spent force. It is out of ideas.” The pervading assumption of Swaim's column is that liberalism achieved its goals and has little else to do, but tinker with the welfare state. Swaim’s rampant hypocrisy turns a blind eye to the fact that the liberal agenda has never been fulfilled, and the failure to achieve it rests on the shoulders of conservative Republicans. The conservatives have opposed attempts to assure that every man, woman, and child has adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. They have resisted attempts to guarantee a job for every American who wants one.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2020 at
It is not clear that the six foot guideline is safe enough. Here are two links that discuss the question. Comments? Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2020 at
Laurence Tribe tweets that “Trump is ensuring the avoidable death of countless New Yorkers by deliberately sitting on 20,000 urgently needed ventilators so he can blame Cuomo. His moral culpability is that of a murderer even though the law doesn’t call him one.” It is possible that Trump is withholding the ventilators so that he can blame Cuomo. I think it more likely that he is withholding the ventilators because New York votes Democratic. If New York were a swing state, does anyone doubt that he would have released the ventilators? There is good reason to believe that Trump held off from the beginning because he feared that the stock market would react badly. That was moronic and short-sighted from the perspective of the stock market and in pathological disregard of the public health. Only a thoroughly evil and twisted man would behave in that way. And even if his... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2020 at
According to the Time Magazine, Hilary Clinton said during the 2016 election campaign: “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” Clinton said. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.” In my view those she spoke of were deplorables for the reasons she gave and reasons that stretched beyond their support for discrimination. She said the other half of Trump’s supporters “feel that the government has let them down” and are “desperate for change.” “Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well,” she said. It was not a politically smart thing to say and she apologized for her quantification of the deplorables since she really did not know the number. But she was right. Trump was... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2020 at
The withdrawal of Elizabeth Warren from the Presidential race has left many wondering whether a woman will be President in their lifetime. Of course, sexism played a role in undermining her candidacy. Some of it was overt. The Wall Street Journal said on Thursday that her take down of Mayor Bloomberg regarding his vulgar comments directed at women was an exercise in “identity politics.” Since when is it ultra-sensitive to complain that women are singled out by the boss for vulgar comments based on their appearance? Many drew the lesson that Hillary Clinton’s defeat showed that the nomination of a woman was risky business. Yet, she won the popular vote by 3 million votes. Of course, there was sexism which helped fuel the dislike that so many millions had for her. 52% of men voted for Trump; 41% for Clinton. 54% of women voted for Clinton; 39% for Trump. Beyond... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2020 at
David Brooks never ceases to annoy. In his Friday column he announces that he cannot vote for Sanders or Trump. He throws into the column his recollections of Soviet Union horrors including 20 million people killed. He argues that Sanders has made excuses for authoritarian regimes like that of Fidel Castro. To be sure, Sanders has noted that Castro did some good things. But Sanders has criticized the authoritarian aspects of that and other regimes. There is absolutely no evidence that Sanders would undermine civil liberties. None. And to parade the Soviet Union’s atrocities is utterly irresponsible. Beyond that Brooks maintains that Sanders has been ineffective in the legislature and that he embraces a populism that is hostile to liberalism. He accuses Sanders of lacking reasonableness, compassion, and optimism. He suggests that he exhibits an incessant hatred for his foes. The column is filled with hyperbole. On the latter point,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2020 at
Donald Trump has filed a libel lawsuit against the New York Times in which he complains about an opinion piece (published a month before the Mueller Report was released) that accuses Donald Trump of accepting help from Russia in exchange for policies favorable to Russia. As others have rightly observed, on the merits, the suit has no chance of success and appears to be a publicity stunt. But the attempt for favorable publicity itself will fall apart. If the case is not abruptly dismissed, the Times will be entitled to discovery from Trump and those in his campaign. So, expect the Times to send written questions to Trump (which must be answered truthfully) followed up by a demand for a deposition. Trump will not answer the questions or appear for a deposition. In a civil case, plaintiffs cannot refuse to answer questions relevant to the proceeding. The last thing... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2020 at
What Sanders said about Fidel Castro is accurate, but would any good politician who wanted to win the swing state of Florida double down on this statement? Wouldn’t a good politician emphasize that there was more bad than good in the Castro regime and that he regretted the harm his praise may have occasioned to the many who suffered under the regime? Sanders opposes fracking for good reasons, but this is not a popular position. Is there any doubt that Trump will call this to the attention of swing state Pennsylvania voters in a powerful way? Can we be confident that current polls will remain steady through the fall after an avalanche of Trump ads? Would any good politician say that he does not want the $1 billion that Bloomberg had previously promised to spend for any Democratic candidate? See Bloomberg has now said that he will abide by... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2020 at
The Democrats should run against Putin and his accomplices and enablers in the U.S. Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2020 at
We are not living in the Middle Ages. As Charles Taylor has observed, doubts about the existence of God are common among believers, and many are full time agnostics. As William James understood, agnostics are not off the spiritual hook. They still have to figure out how to lead a good life, and they cannot rule out the possibility of some sort of Divine entity. Susan Stabile was raised a Catholic, moved to Buddhism and back again. She is always a source of insight. Recently, she drew on Simone Weil to think about spiritual advice for agnostics. Her meditation is short and worth reading. Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2020 at
Some of Bernie Sanders’ supporters (it’s hard to know how many) are acting in ways that give the campaign a bad name. In response to Clinton’s criticism of Sanders, a recent thread on Facebook in various comments accused her of being moronic, narcissistic (or possessed by power hungry narcissism), idiotic and venal as hell, a piece of s..t, completely insane, a thug, corrupt, motivated by envy, or motivated by money. To this I responded, “If Sanders wins, you will have to secure the votes of former Clinton voters. If Sanders does not win, you will assist in the re-election of Trump by not voting for Warren or a "moderate" candidate. Do you really think the ferocity of the above comments is constructive? Is it possible that Clinton's comments are sincere (however misconceived) and not prompted by mental illness, a thirst for power, money, or the like. I don't like her... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2020 at
One downside of the impeachment and Senate non-trial of Donald Trump is that it distracted media attention from the important bills passed by the House which are still sitting in the McConnell graveyard. Just because the media has focused on impeachment does not mean that the Democratic House has neglected important policy needs. In fact, the House has passed more than 400 bills. I mention this as a prelude to a brief response to Daniel Henninger’s “Wonderland” column in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal in which he claims that normal political issues will not be relevant to the Democratic Party’s strategy in 2020. Instead, he hypothesizes, the Democrats will run against the person of Donald Trump and forego consideration of the normal political issues. All this to conceal the divisions in the Democratic Party. Mr. Henninger’s column is aptly named except it is he who lives in wonderland. Of course, Democrats... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2020 at
The fact that Iowa is demographically unrepresentative is a serious problem, and Iowa should not be the first in line for the selection of Presidential delegates. That its results are later than they should be, however, is considered a serious problem only by those who are desperate for instant gratification. Regrettably, their numbers are many. That is a form of societal sickness. Thus, Stanford Law Professor Nathaniel Persily refers to the misguided apoplexy of those cable pundits who could not announce the results immediately. The notion that the delay warrants any significant conclusions about the Democratic Party is preposterous. Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2020 at
L x A=W: On The Weight of Legal Norms Peter Gabel The critical legal studies movement and the emerging law and political economy movement both emphasize the way that legal rules and doctrines help both to constitute and to legitimize an unjust social and political order. Critical Legal Studies, which I have been closest to over 40 years, started out with many tendencies—Marxist and neo-Marxist, legal realist with a more leftist political bite, anti-formalist with both progressive policy-oriented and deconstruction-based wings, and also with a critique of social alienation that emphasized the distortions in human relations that are masked by law’s empire, law’s historical attempt to justify as morally elevated what has been lived in reality, to some significant degree, as suffering and injustice and estrangement. But for all of the diversity in its beginning, CLS has gradually come to be understood in the public mind as primarily a deconstruction... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2020 at
Many citizens have expressed the sentiment that Donald Trump is an ignorant, lazy, mean, narcissistic, sexist, racist, sociopath, but they are not sure they can bring themselves to vote for someone as far left as Sanders or Warren. Even if Sanders or Warren were too far left, it is clear to me that the evil of Donald Trump ought to weigh more heavily than the discomfort of voting for a candidate who is perceived to be too far left. The fears many have of the “left” policies are misplaced because Klobuchar and many others are right: those policies will never get through the Senate even if the Democrats control the Senate and even if the Democrats dispense with the filibuster. Yes, many fine policies will be adopted if a Democrat wins the White House, but there are too many not-very-liberal Democrats, too much lobbying, and too much money in election... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2020 at
Donald Trump and his campaign ads argue that the House's focus on impeachment is irresponsible because it has gotten in the way of dealing with the bread and butter issues the people sent Representatives to Congress to address. Wall to wall focus on Trump by the mass media has assisted this fictitious narrative. In fact, the House has passed nearly 400 bills - many of them quite important. 80% of those bills have been buried in Mitch McConnell's graveyard, and the 80% includes vital legislation regarding health care, climate change, civil rights, help for Veterans, gun control, the environment, consumer protection, worker's rights, and the safeguarding of our elections. For discussion and a list (at the bottom of the link) of many of the important bills passed by the House, see Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2019 at
Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks (2018) by Diana Butler Bass is a wonderful book for our Thanksgiving in the Trump era. Here's a sample: "Gratitude is a defiance of sorts, the defiance of kindness in the face of anger, of connection in the face of division, and of hope in the face of fear. . . . Gratitude undoes evil by tunneling under its foundations of anger, resentment, and greed. Thus, gratitude strengthens our character and moral resolve . . . it untwists knotted hearts. Pain, suffering, and injustice ... are all real. Gratitude, however, invalidates the false narrative that these things are the sum total of human existence . . . . Being thankful is the very essence of what it means to be alive, and to know that life abundantly." For Bass, gratitude involves feelings, but also the ethics of action in personal and communal or... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2019 at
The Republicans continue their spin that the Mueller Report exonerated Donald Trump. Far from it. In addition to showing that Trump obstructed justice in numerous ways, the Report showed that the Russians intervened in our elections and that the Trump campaign gleefully accepted this assistance instead of reporting it to law enforcement authorities. Indeed, campaign chairman, Paul Manafort gave information to the Russians concerning the Trump campaign strategy. Only a precious (and wrong-headed) conception of intent and conspiratorial agreement prevented Mueller from concluding that the Trump campaign did not violate the law on this front. The Ukraine Affair shows that Trump is seeking interference again in the 2020 elections. It is also clear he is seeking the help of the Russians and the Chinese. The Republicans suggest that Ukraine, not the Russians interfered in the 2016 elections despite the Mueller Report, the many indictments of Russians,and the conclusion of 17... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2019 at