In March 1970, Roman Hruska of Nebraska, the then ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, rose to defend President Nixon’s nomination of Judge G. Harold Carswell to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, infamously saying: “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance. We can’t have all, Brandeises, Frankfurters, and Cardozos.” Carswell had bigger problems, was withdrawn and Hruska became the laughing stock. His defense and celebration of mediocrity sadly dominated and defined the balance of his career and were featured in every obit 29 years later. Today it’s clear that Hruska was no dummy and understood the deep yearning of [...]
This post has real nourishment for most Americans – Democrats, real Republicans and the increasing number of Americans who believe that big outcomes are shaped by massive right wing, left wing or Russian conspiracies. There’s a good chance that Donald Trump will be impeached, tried and removed from office. Democrats, how many times during the primary season did you say “I’d rather Trump than Ted Cruz” or pick your own ideological right wing nightmare. Because based on the first 70 years of Trump’s life and his campaign statements, that’s not what a Trump presidency promised. Republicans, for the same reason, how many times during the campaign did you say “I want Cruz or another conservative – Trump’s not one - no Never Trump.” To a [...]
Appointments and nominations for the cabinet are announced or leaked daily. Reactions range from wholehearted approval to equally heartfelt revulsion to “coulda been much worse.” The one that riveted my attention was Dr. Tom Price, a Congressman from Georgia who will be nominated to become Secretary of Health and Human Services. When confirmed he will be tasked with dismantling ObamaCare and installing a substitute. Because Price was among the earliest and most passionate opponents of the Affordable Care Act and unlike most Republican members introduced detailed alternatives, he is the right person to fulfill this Trump campaign promise. And that’s all most people know about Price, this tight fit between job description and applicant, reminiscent of AC/DCs “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” But there is [...]
As already seen, many of President Elect Trump’s campaign promises are gone with the wind, and happily so. But the one most likely, almost certainly, to happen is his promise to give you a tax cut. Not of the magnitude promised, since even when optimistically adjusted for the voodoo inspired trickle-down effect, Trump’s would add $6 trillion to the national debt over 10 years. Instead, we likely will get a tax cut conforming to the House Republicans’ plan, resulting in three brackets of 12%, 25% and 33% to replace the current seven, the highest being 39.6% for taxable income above $418,400 – if one is so fortunate. Most of us will experience rate reductions from 33% or 28% to 25% or from 25% or 15% [...]
As your hopelessly liberal and optimistic blogger last posted, great assistance in surviving the next four years will come from the permanent federal work force. They number roughly 2.9 million and can be counted on to competently deliver the core of many good programs and laws that do not fundamentally change as presidential administrations come and go. Beyond mere survival there is comfort in the progress that will be made by state and local government during the Trump years. The electoral college that recently bit us in the ass (also in 2000 and five times in our history) is but one aspect of constitutional federalism that gives the states tremendous power to act on behalf of their citizens and in some respects the nation as [...]
Now, as during previous national crises, people seek comfort in a variety of ways, including speculation about positive things that might result from what is otherwise perceived as a disaster. Some are pondering certain of Trump’s rumored appointees, that while not any liberal’s cup of tea have respectable track records and/or served in previous administrations not ending in Armageddon. A friend suggested that as part of Trump’s promised infrastructure push “he might build that urgently needed rail tunnel (between New York and New Jersey) that his former transition chief cancelled in a failed effort to pander to the voters that rejected him for Trump. Well maybe, that will happen, but here’s some guaranteed reassurance, backed by a full refund of the amount you pay to [...]
Like many liberals I have great, if not boundless, faith in our constitution. There’s been a copy in my briefcase for 45 years. It’s on my smartphone and tablet home screens, frequently consulted and read in its entirety many times, including several during my current gig teaching con law at the New Paltz campus of New York’s State University. In all those readings I’ve never noticed any reference to the popular vote in the selection of POTUS. My first full review of the constitution was in 1968, getting ready to vote for the first time and also preparing to speak with 4th and 5th graders at Williamstown Elementary on School Street in Williamstown, Mass. The school had asked the Poli Sci department at Williams to [...]
Welcome to Hopelessly Liberal, a blog going live this day of Trump + 7. Your blogger is an old fashioned liberal, having never deserted its shores for Progressive Land (sounds like a spaghetti sauce factory) or other euphemistic kingdoms. The title “Hopelessly Liberal” is borrowed from my son, who used it in his successful campaign for student council some years back at Riverdale Country School and from Al D’Amato who used it, also successfully, to defeat Bob Abrams in their 1992 U.S. senatorial contest. Mea culpa, as the Abrams campaign’s issues director, I influenced him to run on liberal policies, including universal single-payer health insurance. By 1992 “liberal” had already become a term of derision for many on the right and far left. Wimpy liberals [...]
In Priceless, author and lead counsel Lloyd Constantine relates the dramatic account of backroom strategizing and courtroom conniving during the high-stakes litigation. Constantine, who led the team representing the plaintiffs, vividly describes how the case pitted retailers against credit card companies, and pries the lid off dodgy debit card practices. The plaintiffs, including Wal-Mart, Sears Roebuck, The Limited, Safeway, and a class of five million stores, pitted their financial futures against Visa and Mastercard in this war between giants.
In November 2006, Eliot Spitzer was on top of the political world, having won the New York Governorship by the greatest margin ever—far outdistancing his predecessors Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt. Sixteen months later, in March 2008, Spitzer resigned from the governorship during a brief public appearance, and “Client No. 9” entered our vernacular. It was a story imbued with exquisite irony, and it made news around the world. Journal of the Plague Year is an intimate account of 61 hours, from the moment on March 9, 2008, when Lloyd Constantine, senior advisor to Spitzer, received a phone call from Spitzer revealing facts the entire world would learn the next morning, until Spitzer’s March 12 news conference. It is also an inside account of the 16 tumultuous months of Spitzer’s administration that preceded the resignation.