Thursday, May 17, 2012


Due to circumstances beyond my control, this irregular, sometimes nostalgic, occasionally iconoclastic, and often political, but mostly unread blog is on hiatus. It's not spring break, summer vacation, or a cruise, but Kaiser Permanente. My wife gifted me an IPad for the 66th birthday. Kaiser is following up with the first of two replacement knees. It is a gift from Kaiser in that I may walk normally again. The miracles of modern medicine and bio-medic engineering have blest us with the extended quality of life. Osteoarthritis does not have to cripple.

To the few who periodically peruse this blog, I say Thank You. Your patience will be rewarded, hopefully next week.

Hasta La Vista.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

All the News That Fits

What’s Wrong With the New York Times?

Last week’s and today’s New York Times were lacking a feature. What’s wrong with the Times?

The Times on Sunday, April 21 ran a 3 page article on Wal-Mart bribing its way to success in Mexico. 20% of Wal-Mart’s stores are in Mexico. Wal-Mart paid top dollar, apparently adding up perhaps to $24 million, to expedite the permitting of new stores in Mexico.

Investigations, shareholder derivative suits, the re-energizing of Wal-Marts opponents ensued.

The Times on the next Sunday took on Apple because of its ingenious, and legal, use of tax dodges to minimize taxes. Imagine that, a company uses the best tax attorneys to maximize deductions allowed by the complex U.S. Tax Code. One assumes that the New York Times does the same.

The paper was upset because Apple’s tactics cost governments money, continuing the belief that earned money should belong to the government except to the extent that the government lets you keep it. The Times related the story of how Steve Jobs responded to a Cupertino councilwoman, who questioned the amount of taxes Apple was paying in Cupertino, that Apple could always move its headquarters out of the city.

Steve Jobs, as a true American, hated paying taxes. He understood the wise words of Judge Learned Hand: “Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be a slow as possible. He is not bound to choose the pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.”

He added “Nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.” Amen.

The impression was building that the New York Times was trying to boost circulation through investigative reporting. The Gray Lady might be ushering in a new Muckraker Era.

I looked eagerly to last Sunday, hoping for an expose on Warren Buffett’s hypocrisy when it comes to paying taxes, how he is fighting between $500 million and a billion in back taxes, going back to 2002 to Uncle Sam.

Not a peep from the Times about the real Buffett Rule.

I thought maybe today with the Times’ concerns over successful Silicon Valley companies dodging taxes it might write about Facebook. The Facebook elite have established 8 “grantor-retained annuity trusts,” holding 22 million shares, resulting at current Facebook’s estimated value of $31.50/share in tax savings of $200 million.

And then there’s Eduardo Savarin, one of Facebook’s four founders. He’s the one in The Social Network who was eased out of the company and sued. He still owns about 5% of the company’s stock. Eduardo moved to Singapore in 2009 and in September 2011 renounced his United States citizenship, joining a small but growing number of expatriates who renounce their citizenship to save taxes.

The New York Times had given Warren Buffett and Facebook a pass and also dropped the front page attacks on American success stories.

The paper has attacked Rupert Murdock over the British hacking scandal, seeking his removal. These attacks though may be based on journalistic self-interest. Murdock’s New York Post outsells the New York Times in New York City.

All the news that fits.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Nation's Unemployment: Am I the Problem and the Solution?

The unemployment rate for April 2012 was 8.1% with 12.5 million Americans unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The New York Times reported Thursday that 7.2 million Americans aged 65 or older were continuing to work. If all 7.2 million Americans were to retire, then only 5.3 million Americans will be unemployed, a stirring rate of 3.52%. The President would be reelected in a landslide.

If, only if!

It’s not going to happen.

I am part of the problem. I turn 66 next Tuesday. My wife is giving me an IPad for my birthday, and Kaiser the first of two knee replacements.

I’ve just completed 40 years of teaching law school, and I hope to teach another 40 years. It won’t happen, but I can still dream.

No social security or Medicare for me in the near future.

I’ll teach till I drop.

Why don’t we Baby Boomers and even some survivors of the Greatest Generation retire?

Why do some continue to work as greeters at WalMart? Wouldn’t volunteering as a docent at a museum be more culturally rewarding?

For many it’s a matter of economic necessity. In spite of President Obama’s representations to the composite Julia, social security does not often allow seniors to “retire comfortably.”

Others, especially in the private sector, have seen their retirement accounts wiped out or slashed in the past 4 years. They cannot retire to the standard of living to which they have become accustomed. If both houses and IRA’s are under water, then retirement looks bleak.

Many are hit with catastrophic medical costs.

Working for many seniors is a way of keeping busy. Sitting in a rocking chair on a porch drinking mint juleps is not their dream in life. Del E. Webb’s Sun City is not in their future. No golf courses or world cruises for them.

They live for solid, productive work.

Many are in a position where they can continue to give back to society. Think of Ben Franklin.

For others, working is all they know. Some of us still have a work ethic.

Some like Paul “Bear” Bryan and Joe Paterno were scared that they would die shortly after retirement. They were right.

As for myself, I love to teach, even if not all the students perceive that. Many universities used to require mandatory retirement at 67, but age discrimination statutes now prohibit forced retirements by age. Airline pilots must still hang it up at 60, but very few other professions face such a fate. Politicians may be voted out of office, often through term limits, but some hang on, perhaps past their time.

Some lawyers become “of counsel” but others like to remain equity partners. Many professors become emeriti, but others are senior faculty.

The body may not be what it once was, but the mind still functions.

We may have senior moments (also known as absent minded professors), but what the heck even President Obama sometimes forgets how severe the recession was.

A lot of brilliant, young faculty are waiting in the wings for a tenure track position. They will just have to wait their turn.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Washington Post is Pulling a Macaca on Governor Romney

Is The Washington Post Trying to Macaca Mitt Romney?

Senator George Allen was running for reelection six years ago as a Republican from Virginia. The Senator was being touted for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. He would have been a much stronger candidate than Senator John McCain.

On August 11, 2006 Senator Allen referred to an Indian campaign aide of his opponent, Jim Webb, as a “macaca.” Macaca turns out to be an ethnic slur in the Belgium Congo and may be used against those of Indian descent. Who knew that?

The Post hammered Senator Allen daily for his racism based on the use of macaca. The once heavily favored Senator lost reelection by 8,805 votes.

The Washington Post decided the election.

President Obama came out yesterday in favor of gay marriage, a position I support.

The Washington Post today published an article reporting that Mitt Romney in high school engaged in pranks and hi jinks, including harassing a gay student. He didn’t like how one student wore his hair (bleached blond hair hanging over one ear). One classmate held the student down while Romney cut his hair. We are to believe that Governor Romney was a homophobe in 1965.

Is there any other evidence for this than memories of 47 years ago?

Since when did the media start fly specking the college records, much less high school records, of Presidential candidates?

Why did President Obama get a free pass on his alcohol and drug usage? How about a deeper look at Barry’s drug habits?

Why did the media cover up his cigarette smoking?

Why didn’t the mainstream media fly speck President Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayres, a domestic terrorist who still wakes up every morning hoping that capitalism has died?

Why didn’t the mainstream media fly speck the President’s relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his Black Liberation Theology, or even Fr. Michael Pfleger?

Will the Washington Post spend as much resources on the young Obama and his treatment of Coretta?

What about President Obama’s academic records?

If Mitt Romney’s supposed high school activities are an issue, then what about President Obama’s birth certificate? I am not a birther; I believe it is a non-issue, but it sure looked like he was covering up something.

The tone of the blog is intended to instill class warfare against the Governor. The Governor attended Cranbrook, a prep school. The article describes Cranbrook as “the prestigious Cranbrook” on a “handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields.”

We knew 2012 was going to be a vicious, negative campaign, but this is absurd. It’s the economy, stupid!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Vive Le France, or Not

Pity the poor French voters yesterday. They had to choose between a known incompetent, President Nicolas Sarkozy and an unknown socialist, Francois Hollande, who has never been elected to public office.

They choose the socialist 51.6% to 48.4%, with 55% of the socialist’s votes being anti-Sarkozy votes. Sarkozy won 5 years ago by promising dramatic reforms to energize the French economy. He failed. He did raise the retirement age to 62 from 60, but did not cut or rein in the bureaucracy, or state spending. 55% of the country’s gross domestic product is an unsustainable public spending. It’s the highest in the Euro Zone, exceeding even Greece. The national debt is now 90% of the GDP, with a budget deficit of 5.2%. Sarkozy did raise taxes though.

In short, Sarkozy’s record is similar to that of Governor Schwarzenegger in California.

Sarkozy’s personal/public life was shocking, even for the open minded French.

President Hollande inherits other structural problems that Sarkozy could not solve. French labor costs are among the highest in the Euro Zone, as French industry becomes increasingly uncompetitive in the global economy. One reason for the high labor costs is the 35 hour work week. The French unemployment rate has reached 10%.
Hollande’s campaign promises are scary: 1) raise taxes on income over $1.3 million to 75%; 2) tax bank profits by an additional 15%; 3) hire 60,000 more teachers over the next 5 years; 4) lower the retirement age for some workers to 60; and 5) raise the minimum wage.

The socialists have been out of office for 19 years. They are hungry for action.

Yet, he wants to balance the budget by 2017.

Watch French capital flee to England, as it has so many times in the past.

Voters in Franc had a bad choice, but they acted in accordance with two well established, but often contradictory political realities.

First, voters will vote out politicians who do not solve their economic problems. Sarkozy had his chance and failed. Thus, it was time for someone knew. Elections yesterday in Greece, Serbia, and Germany sent a similar message.

Second, voters dependent upon the state for their income will vote for the statist party.

These are important lessons for America.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Elizabeth Warren's Ethnicity

Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren

Both Senator Scott Brown and Professor Elizabeth Warren epitomize the American Dream. Both achieved success from humble beginnings. Both are driven to succeed.

Senator Brown has succeeded as a Republican in one of the most Democratic states in America. Professor Warren reached a pinnacle of the legal profession – a professorship at Harvard Law School, which is all the more remarkable because her J.D. is from Rutgers - Newark. No matter how good Rutgers might be as a law school, the reality is that the Harvards, Yales, and Stanfords will rarely hire faculty who did not receive their J.D. from one of the most prestigious law schools.

And yet, for a woman as successful and smart as Professor Warren, how can she get bogged down in her ethnicity? Whether or not she is part Native American is utterly irrelevant to the issues facing America.

And yet that question has dominated the Massachusetts Senate race for the past week.

The Boston Herald ran an article questioning her bona fides. She had self-listed herself in the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) as Native American for a decade. Her campaign when questioned could produce no proof of her Indian heritage.

She said on a Boston TV station that she thought she was Native American, indeed Cherokee. Many Oklahoma natives have Cherokee blood so it is possible. It’s her statement though that aroused attention. She said “I have lived in a family that has talked about Native America, talked about tribes, since I’ve been a little girl. I still have a picture on my mantle at home, and it’s a picture of my mother’s dad, a picture of my grandfather, and my Aunt Bee has walked by that picture at least a 1000 times, remarked that her father, my Pappa, had high cheekbones, like all Indians do, because that’s how she saw it, and your mother got those same great cheekbones, and I didn’t. And she thought this was a bad deal she had gotten in life. Being Native American has been a part of my story. I guess since the day I was born. I don’t know any other way to describe it.”

“High Cheekbones!”

That all Indians have high cheekbones is quite a revelation!

This statement, the ethnic reference to high cheekbones, is not what one expects from someone as brilliant as Professor Warren. The media six years ago, especially the Washington Post, hammered Senator George Allen of Virginia for using the word “macara,” an ethnic slur for People of India descent. He lost reelection by 8,805 votes.

She also said that she had listed herself as Native American “because I thought I might be invited to meetings where I might meet more people who had grown up like I had grown up.” She was unsuccessful in that effort. If that was her goal, then she could have become active in the Native American Section of the AALS or find the Native Americans in Boston and Cambridge. She could also have volunteered to help in the Indian Land Claims litigation, or the Mashantuckets in first seeking recognition and then the casino. She was more interested in furthering her academic career.

A genealogist found a wedding license listing her great, great, great grandmother as Cherokee, making her 1/32 Native American. There is no given percent of Indian blood to qualify as Indian. Each tribe has its own requirement. A common requirement has been 1/8 to qualify to register in a tribe.

Many tribes today, especially those with large casino revenues, have been kicking members out because they have been unable to verify the requisite blood line in the tribe.

Professor Warren is not enrolled in any tribe.

Of course, being 1/32 Indian is 1/32 more than Ward Churchill.

Being an Indian is as much a state of mind as it is lineage. If I had been told I had Indian blood, I would have been proud of it. But I’m not so I don’t. I actually served as the first chair of the AALS Indian Law (Native American Rights) Section, but that doesn’t make me Indian. I was researching Indian Law issues at the time.

If she was brought up thinking she was Cherokee, then maybe she was. However, she apparently never became active in the tribe, so how deep was her belief?

She also claimed to be Delaware as well, but no proof exists for that claim.

Ironically, one of her fields is consumer protection.

Did she use the listing to get a job as opposed to just meeting people? Who knows? No direct evidence exists, but any appointments committee would have checked the AALS Directory and seen her listed as Native American. Certainly Harvard listed her as Native American for diversity purposes.

Where did Harvard get the idea from?

Daniel Patrick Moynihan made the transition from the Academy to the Senate, but he was a polished public figure, having served both Republican and Democratic Administrations.

Will her statements cost her the Senate seat? Not by themselves, but if she continues to make rookie mistakes, then her election will depend how big President Obama’s coattails are in Massachusetts.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Magic - President Obama's Plan for Reelection

The Magician distracts the viewer to pull the rabbit out of the hat or hide the coin. That is President Obama’s key to reelection.

Can the Magic Man work his magic a second time?
Rely on the melliferous voice to spellbind the voters. It worked 4 years ago, so why not a repeat. Hope and change. Convince them of hope for the future, hoping they
will not notice their lack of change.

Never let the voters focus on the economy. Hide the economy as an issue. That takes magic.

Pull out the issues, the social issues, which appeal to the Democratic base. Wave the social issues to the voters

Maximize the turnout of Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, Women, Students, Environmentalists, Gays, Labor, and Trial Lawyers. Organize.

He must maximize the turnout of minority voters, especially Hispanics since the white vote is lost. The magic in certain cities and states won’t be as easy this year since many states have enacted voter identification laws to reduce the magic of voter fraud. They claim that the whole idea of voter fraud was but an illusion, but illusion or not, the dead will have to show a valid ID to vote.

The African-Americans will turn out as they did in 2008. Barack’s The Man, The Magic Man, even if their unemployment rate has risen. The unemployment rate is now higher in South Central LA than 20 years ago with the Rodney King riots. Teenage African Americans have an unemployment rate over 50%, but no matter, no magic is needed for their vote.

Hispanics are more iffy, but demagogue Arizona and Zimmerman so that the Hispanics don’t notice the job losses and attacks on Catholicism. Hide the fact that he didn’t push Amnesty or the Dream Act for the first two years of his Administration. Make them forget that their economic status is perilous. Look to Magic, perhaps even more efforts by the Senate to pass a new Amnesty Bill or Dream Act. He just celebrated Cinco de Mayo on Tres de Mayo in the White House by telling Hispanics that his second term will push immigration reform and the Dream Act. Pull out the magic of Hope and Change.” Hope springs eternal. Tell them what they want to hear. Appoint LA Mayor Antonio Mayor Villaraigosa Chair of the Democratic Convention in Charlotte this summer.

The gender gap traditionally benefits the Democrats, but in this tight year, the President must turn out the woman’s vote. Pull mandatory, free contraception out of the HHS hat even if it antagonizes the Catholic clergy. The President was the most pro-choice Senator in his two years in the Senate. He has stuck to his grounds, even as the Pro-Life Movement keeps growing. Always fight for woman’s equality and make the Republicans look like troglodytes on woman’s rights. Magic if it works, but women are well aware of the economy.

Play up the interest rate on student loans. Distract the students. Pull a low interest rate out of the hat. Have them forget that they can’t get jobs in his Administration. Magic – let students look to the interest rate on student loans, and not the high unemployment rate for recent college graduates. Make them focus on the interest and not the principal of $20,000 - $125,000 in their debts.

Make the youth ignore the economy. Do a slow-jam on the Jimmy Kimmel show and ignore the economy. Be cool, and reap the rewards with the youth. Dazzle them as one of them.

Prestidigitation will not hide the economy for six months.

No magic is needed with Native Americans, but they’re doing it nevertheless. First, pull the white dove of a legal surrender and cash out of the hat. Settle the decades old litigation over royalties with several Indian tribes for $1.4 billion. It was long overdue. But then pull some eagle feathers out of the hat. Grant the Northern Arapaho permission to kill eagles for religious purposes while denying Catholics their religious tenets. Make the statutes disappear.

Most Americans believe in environmental protection as a general principle, but favor the economy over the environment. Use Keystone Magic to appeal to environmentalists so that they ignore his boosts of oil and gas production rising. Unfortunately for President Obama, the vast majority of environmentalists are in states the President will win anyway: California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont. The magic isn’t necessary in those states.

He eliminated the military bias against gays, long overdue, but he continues to waffle on Gay Marriage, but they know he’s with them.

He’s got Labor, especially financially, but a large percent of blue collar workers and a third of teachers often vote against the union’s positions. The question is if Labor can save him in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio. The unions better turn out at a higher rate than they did in 2010, which gave the Republicans most governorships and legislative houses in the industrial Midwest.

Let the unions forget that he did not deliver on Card Check. Don’t let them realize that industrial jobs are increasingly moving to right to work states. Find a magic way to approve the Keystone Pipeline. But then, why did he violate one of the unwritten rules of Democrats. Don’t hold the national convention in a right to work state. More magic is needed.

Trial lawyers are a given, but their numbers are few; their financial contributions are large. The 2010 elections resulted in Republican legislatures pushing Tort Reform, to the disadvantage of their incomes.

Magic or the economy?

It’s the economy, stupid.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Do You Know When You Have Become an Old Fogie?

How Do You Know You’ve Become an Old Fogie?

When does the Young Turk become the Old Fogie?

When does the old fogie overlap with the old fart?

Some of us Baby Boomers were talking the other day. The subject arose about when are you an old fogie.

These are signs:

When you have become the institutional memory

When the subtle shift from idealism to realism is complete

When you are comfortable with the status quo

When you used to put your children to bed every night and said “Thank you God,” but now every morning you wake up you say “Thank you God.”

When your adult children start listening to you

When you hear yourself referred to at a family gathering as the crazy uncle or the crusty curmudgeon

When you are close, but not yet, the old geezer

When one morning in bed when you wake up, and your beloved spouse says “You have a gray hair.”

When the race between graying and balding claims a victor

When the slow, inexorable weight gain catches up to you

When all your mentors and advisors have passed on, and you are now referred to as the Senior Statesman, the Elder Statesman, the Mentor, the Guru, the Expert, the Maestro.

When “emeritus” has a nice ring to it

When you have mastered the gentle art of compromise

When you are entitled to senior discounts at restaurants, theatres, and banks

When you are looked to for sage advice

When you go from trying to save the world and solve the world’s problems to instilling wisdom in the younger generation

When you take over 10 pills daily

When you are always the senior presenter

When someone politely asks “How are you doing?” and you respond with an extended medical discourse

When “Back in” becomes part of your vocabulary, as in “Back in my day” or “Back in the good old days”

When the movies and TV just aren’t what they used to be

When your 50th Reunion is looming

When your alma mater takes a keen interest in you

When you’re not yet in your dotage

What’s Skype?