Politics

secrete service west wing.jpgAuthorities are investigating whether men threatened to kill Senator Barack Obama, or if they were just trying to get a date with Jodie Foster. Either way, U.S. Attorney Troy Eid is certain that the potentially meth-addled gunmen posed no credible threat to Obama or the Democratic National Convention.
We have explored the colossal idiocy of making threats against the President before. However, in a news flash to, you know, Germans, Obama is not the president yet. He is not even the nominee of a major party.
What he is, is a “major candidate” and 18 U.S.C. § 3056, authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to grant him Secret Service protection and all the other trappings of “dude, not to be messed with.”
Obama has received protection for well over a year, earlier than any other presidential candidate in history.
So, here’s an important safety tip: don’t threaten to harm Obama or McCain or Bob Barr or whomever. Register your displeasure in the traditional way, anonymous comments on various blogs that showcase your cutting wit and deep respect for democracy. The Secret Service doesn’t have a sense of humor.
U.S. attorney ‘confident’ Obama not threatened [Rocky Mountain News]

Philip Berg Philip J Berg Barack Obama lawsuit.jpgAlthough Barack Obama is just days away from accepting the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination (acceptance song speculation here), some Hillary Clinton supporters refuse to give up. From the Philadelphia Daily News:

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has faced so many false rumors about his family history that it has put his birth certificate on the Internet: he was born in Honolulu, nearly two years after Hawaii became a state, making Obama a U.S. citizen by birth.

But that hasn’t stopped Montgomery County lawyer Philip J. Berg from challenging Obama’s qualifications to be president.

Berg, a Hillary Clinton supporter, announced he’s filing a federal lawsuit today, claiming that Obama lost his citizenship when his mother relocated the family to Indonesia when Barack was a boy.

Under the law, however, moving to a foreign country does not negate an American’s citizenship.

Bad enough for Rule 11? In Berg’s defense — or maybe not — he makes other claims, too (e.g., that Obama was actually born in Kenya). You can check out the full complaint by clicking here.
Raining on Barack’s Parade [Philadelphia Daily News (fourth item)]
Berg v. Obama: Complaint (PDF)

Barack Obama Joe Biden Democratic presidential ticket 2008.jpgIn a text message sent out at around 3 a.m. today, Senator Barack Obama announced his running mate: Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., of Delaware.
Lawyers should be happy with Obama’s veep pick. There are lots of legal angles to Senator Biden:

  • like Obama (Harvard Law ’91), Joe Biden is a lawyer by training (Syracuse Law ’68);
  • he practiced law in Wilmington, Delaware, for a few years (before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, at age 29);
  • since 1991, he’s taught a seminar in constitutional law at Widener University School of Law; and
  • he’s a longtime member, and former chairman (1987-1995), of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Legal background aside, are you happy with Joe Biden as Obama’s VP nominee? Sound off, in the comments.
Biography: Joe Biden [Senator Joe Biden (official website)]
Obama chooses Sen. Joe Biden to be running mate [CNN]

Barack Obama Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.jpg[Ed. note: Ted Frank's posts analyzing presidential candidate Barack Obama's tax plan, available here and here, were some of the most popular in ATL history. They generated over 900 comments and thousands of pageviews. Because there have been some developments on this front since February, when Ted Frank first issued his analysis, we requested an update; he kindly obliged.]
Above the Law’s Fearless Leader David Lat asked me to update my earlier posts on Obama’s tax plan. As you recall, Obama made a series of promises of “fixing” the tax code, mostly on the backs of investors and the upper middle-class — like Biglaw associates.
I ran a spreadsheet that showed that, with reasonable assumptions, those tax increases would have the same effect on associate after-tax income as a New York law firm cutting salaries by $34,000, but permitted one to change the assumptions if you disagreed with the assumptions I made. I made no endorsements, noting that, Thomas “no relation” Frank notwithstanding, taxes and economic issues were not the only reason to vote for a presidential candidate. (Still, commenters’ reactions can best be described by Tyler Cowen’s description of “Obama insecurity“: “For some people no comment on Obama, other than the purely laudatory, is anything other than a hackish right-wing attempt to forge an alliance of lies with Karl Rove and his ilk.”)
Since then, Obama’s two top economic advisors have posted a Wall Street Journal editorial and a website giving somewhat more detail to the Obama tax plan. David asked me to update my post.
1. The most notable change is Obama’s social security tax plan. Recall that his original promise was to simply lift the cap, changing the system from a pay-in to income-redistribution — something that would have cost law firm associates thousands or tens of thousands and raised marginal tax rates to nearly 60%. When Hillary Clinton started hitting him hard about it, he backed off his original plan to make social security taxes uniform and said he might (but might not) add a “doughnut-hole” between $97,000 and $150,000 or $200,000 or $250,000.
Now that Obama has clinched the nomination and is pretending to be a centrist for the general election, after the Wall Street Journal hit him hard about it, Obama pushed everything he promised in the primaries overboard. First, he said he would raise taxes not the full 12.4%, but just “2 to 4%” — so much for making Warren Buffett pay the same rate as his secretary. The latest is that Obama will avoid any tax changes in social security until 2019, i.e., punting the problem into President Jindal’s lap. So zero out the social security tax increases, unless Obama changes his mind for a fourth time. (People at my high school backed off of plans for trillion-dollar tax increases when faced with outrage from Above the Law commenters all the time. It was no big deal.)
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Obama Tax Plan
(Or: Ted Frank’s What’s the Matter with Manhattan?)”

With the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions not far off, people’s minds are returning to politics. A few New York lawyers we’ve talked to are thinking about moving down to Washington, to serve in the next presidential administration.
They might like our latest piece for the New York Observer: a pseudo-sociological comparison of New York and D.C. lawyers. What makes them tick? How do they like to dress? Where do they go out to eat? What do they do in their spare time?
Check out the interactive feature, which captures the table of comparisons in the print version’s centerfold Observatory section. You can use the arrows to navigate through the different categories, and mouse over them (“mouse over” — is that a verb?) to see how the different cities stack up.
What did we get right, and what did we get wrong? Feel free to let us know, in the comments.
(Click on the image below to be taken to the article, then scroll down to the interactive feature. Enjoy.)
NY vs DC lawyers attorneys comparison New York Observer.jpgLat’s Field Guide to N.Y. vs. D.C. Lawyers [New York Observer]

Mikhail Saakashvili Georgian president Georgia.jpgHere is a short Intelligencer item we just wrote for New York Magazine, about the two years that Mikheil Saakashvili, president of Georgia, spent in New York. It begins:

Fifteen years before his country was invaded — or, perhaps, reinvaded — by Russia, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili was learning about the American system of law and living on the Upper West Side. He arrived here in 1993, spent a year at Columbia earning a master’s in law, and then worked one year as an associate at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler before returning to the newly independent former Soviet republic.

How is Saakashvili remembered by the professors and partners who knew him back then? Find out by reading the rest of the piece, available here.

Tbilisi on the Hudson: What Georgia’s president learned as a New York lawyer. [New York Magazine]

Elizabeth Halverson small Judge Elizabeth Halverson Liz Halverson Above the Law blog.JPGA tipster dubbed yesterday “the day legal comedy died.” From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

While the Judicial Discipline Commission weighs the fate of embattled District Judge Elizabeth Halverson, voters delivered their own verdict Tuesday, deciding Halverson must go.

Halverson, who faces complaints of falling asleep on the bench and harassing her staff, received less than 10 percent of the vote, trailing opponents Stefany Miley and Jason Landess, who will move to the general election in November.

Alas, it appears that the ATL endorsement was not enough to save her candidacy.

A woman who declined to give her name as she walked out of Ruth Fyfe Elementary School said she and her husband specifically showed up at the polls to voice their displeasure with Halverson. The couple called her “goofy.”

“I voted against her because of the recent happenings, her health issues … everything,” the woman said.

Voter Barbara Lloyd said she too wanted to be sure Halverson wasn’t re-elected.

“I want her out of office,” Lloyd said. “I haven’t been impressed with her at all.”

Really? Despite her Harvard Law Review-quality work?

Halverson’s run for office appeared to be bleak before she faced the discipline commission. According to her campaign contribution reports, she had $5,200 in her election coffers thanks to a loan from herself.

La Halverson, taking a page from the Hillary playbook. But five grand is nothing compared to $25 million.
Halverson ousted; Miley top vote-getter [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

Ted Stevens Sen Ted Stevens R Alaska.jpgWell, kinda breaking — the news came out in the past hour. See links below. A DOJ press conference will take place later this afternoon.
For all of you trivia buffs, Senator Stevens is the longest-serving Republican Senator. He’s also, as noted by the AP, “a figure in Alaska politics since before statehood.”
Sen. Stevens indicted: 7 false statements counts [AP]
Sen. Ted Stevens Indicted in Alaska Corruption Probe [Washington Post]
Alaska Senator Is Indicted on Corruption Charges [New York Times]

Monica Goodling 4 Monica M Goodling sexy pose Above the Law blog.jpgWe hear that the Justice Department’s special report on our favorite DOJ diva, Monica Goodling, will be coming out later today — in fact, later this morning. Perhaps within 15 minutes or so, give or take….
Stay tuned. We’ll update this space with more as it emerges.
Update (10:08 AM): As we predicted, the report of the Office of the Inspector General, “An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General,” has been released. To access it, click here (PDF).
We haven’t head the chance to read it yet (since we’re juggling several stories this morning). If you take a look at the report, please feel free to point out the most interesting portions, in the comments.
Further Update: More from NPR, the AP, and the WSJ Law Blog.
Justice Dept.’s Hiring Tactics Illegal, Report Says [National Public Radio]
DOJ: Former aide broke law in hiring scandal [Associated Press]
Who’s to Blame for GonzoGate? DOJ Report Points to Goodling [WSJ Law Blog]

Cass Sunstein Samantha Power engaged ATL Above the Law blog.jpgBack in May, we broke the news of the engagement of celebrity professors Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power. Both are Harvard-trained lawyers and high-profile advisers — current in Sunstein’s case, and former in Power’s case (see Monstergate) — to fellow HLS grad Barack Obama.

In the fall, Professor Sunstein will be teaching law at Harvard, where Professor Power teaches at the Kennedy School of Government. His relationship with Power reportedly played a major role in his decision to leave the University of Chicago, his longtime home in legal academia.

If you doubted our original report about the Power-Sunstein engagement, your doubts were misplaced. It’s now official. From the Irish Independent:

The man who brought them together was unavoidably detained elsewhere. Barack Obama has the small matter of a US presidential campaign to fight.

[On Friday], a world away in rain-lashed Co Kerry, two of his friends tied the knot. The wind blew and the rain poured down but it could not spoil a very special Fourth of July for Samantha Power.

Obama’s former adviser married Professor Cass Sunstein in Mary Immaculate Church, on the edge of the sea at Loher near Waterville, Co Kerry.

Irish-American academic and writer Samantha (38) arrived for her marriage to the 54-year-old law professor at the church in the parish of Caherdaniel, the home turf of 19th century politician, the Liberator Daniel O’Connell.

The couple met while working on the Obama presidential campaign.

The celebrated Sunstein and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Power are boldface names, and the person who brought them together is probably going to be the next President of the United States. But because their nuptials were not featured in the august pages of the New York Times — we wonder why they didn’t submit themselves (because they would have made the cut if they had) — Power and Sunstein are not eligible for consideration in the next installment of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch.

But we obviously could not let their wedding go unremarked. Hence this special report, which you can think of as “LEWW Supp.”

More details, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch (Bonus Edition): Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein Get Hitched”

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