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  • 09:37 fine, gov, delay my interview so you can re-interview the chief judge candidates. fine. #
  • 15:23 @bsdinobaby Well, plainly, they don't need me to help select the next chief judge. Pffft. #
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  • 09:07 @chicagowench: y'all dispossessing in preparation for the apocalypse? #
  • 23:35 iTunes reloaded, interview prepared, 5 miles ran, now zzzzzz #
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  • 15:49 you call this a snowstorm? gipped again. #

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  • 08:48 tradition: pre-interview shaving bleeder. almost enough to consider nair. #
  • 16:02 @chicagowench -- thanks for posting, but I'm an "eagle" not a "seagle." ;) #

** WOW **

Jan. 5th, 2009 11:23 am
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President-Elect Obama announced today that he will nominate Elena Kagan, Dean of Harvard Law School, as the next Solicitor General of the United States.

This is incredible news. Kagan ranks with Larry Tribe and Cass Sunstein among the greatest legal minds of our times, focusing on the very contours of constitutional and administrative law that the Bush Years tried to wipe from our national consciousness. As HLS dean, she transformed legal education not only to tolerate public service but also to inculcate its values and responsibilities in every lawyer. After she served in the Clinton White House, Pres. Clinton nominated her to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the then-Republican Senate would not even hold a hearing on her nomination. (She's a liberal Jewish smoking lesbian, so draw your own conclusions which Original sin she committed.)

Oh, and she was my professor, now a friend.

She is the brightest of bright lights, a sign of hope, a sign that Obama really is appointing the best and brightest. As Solicitor General, she will help run the Department of Justice, fix the politicization of U.S. Attorneys, decide the Administration's policy with respect to the U.S. Supreme Court, reverse the craziness that led to the Torture Memos.

And now, now, I more than dare to hope that Change has come: it's here.


Dec. 20th, 2008 09:11 am
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After the snow but before the plow
The gleam gathers tight
The ground inspires its googols of crystals
Before winds resume their blow

In that air silence can be
Tasted and felt
Smelled and seen as if
There is no heard to hear

A smile, and then the plow.

These twin weeks can be thus for us
Dropped between our worlds
Not fully feast
Not fully fast

We count on our days and holidays
Always now or not
Instead inspire these googols of moments
Before clocks resume their tick

In these weeks time can be
Tasted and felt
Smelled and seen as if
There is no timed to time

A smile, and then the plow.
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Below is a nifty response in Daily Kos thread on marriage equity. The backstory relates to NY politics: a power-sharing deal, which would have given Dems control of the Senate for the first time in 75 years, would have required a promise not to pass civil marriage for same-sex couples. The deal died a quick and timely death for reasons having nothing to do with this noxious deal, but the LBGT community is applauding and some parties to the deal are ex post claiming falsely that they killed the deal for the sake of principle. All that silliness aside, however, the post itself seems dead-on right:

If we are to let the Bible define what "traditional marriage" should look like, then our marriage laws should be amended as such:

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)

G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)

(I'd add stuff about certain successful plaintiffs in marital infidelity actions being required to stone the defendants to death, but otherwise yeah.)
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That's 516 x 10^18 percent, the estimated inflation rate of Zimbabwe, though today's NYT/IHT quotes an estimate of "just" 8 quintillion (8 x 10^18) percent. When prices more than double every day, nothing else can function, so now thousands of people (maybe tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands) are likely to die of cholera for lack of basic services to ensure minimally potable water in a nation that once was the breadbasket and economic engine of southern Africa. As some observers have noted, today civilization marches in reverse in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans literally collect cow dung to add to their "food," to stretch it just a little bit more, to stay alive just a little longer.

And where is the world outrage? Where are the troops? Where are the airlifted supplies? Where is the rescue for a nation that sports the world's highest AIDS rate, the highest orphan rate, the most precipitously declining life expectancy, nearly the highest unemployment rate (>80%), the least valued currency, the highest inflation, the least hope? Sure, we can recite pithy geopolitical answers, but do any of them matter when preventable and curable diseases are wiping whole communities off the map because an 84-year-old itinerant thug fears prosecution or gang-style assassination?

The world community now is starting to pay attention to the utter travesty that is Zimbabwe not because Zimbabweans are dying in scores but because Zimbabweans are fleeing to neighboring countries, spreading cholera and fomenting instability in South Africa and Botswana. When the dead and dying remain "they" and "them," the world watches and wrings its proverbial hands; when the dead and dying become "we" and "us," suddenly there is at least the possibility of action. It's too late to save the thousands that Mugabe's brutality already has killed, but perhaps it's not too late, if the world acts now, to save the several million remaining prisoners of Mugabe's nation-prison.
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I don't know what my future holds, but my work for the Judiciary (or at least this Judiciary) ended yesterday, with J(1)'s closing speech (coverage: Associated Press, New York Times, NY Law Journal) and the unveiling of Green Justice, my last Judiciary project (which I wrote from the campaign trail). Green Justice is the first environmental action plan for any judiciary anywhere: among its main goals are to free courts and the legal profession of All That Paper, dramatically cut emissions and improve efficiency in all operations. The full results will not be known until well into the next Chief Judge's tenure, and who knows where I'll be by then, but it's fitting that this chapter should close with environmental themes that first brought me to public service.

This report was one of the few occasions in which I was able to directly translate my environmental background into government practice. Sure, there always are "environmental themes" to government (e.g. economic externalities = "we're all in it together," wasted resources = "wasted money," etc.), but this time both the subject matter and the underlying theory were eminently and unmistakably Green. Two ideas stand out: that the Judiciary is interdependent with many government, nonprofit and private stakeholders, and that the Judiciary thus must preserve its functional independence but also has heightened duties both to lead by example and to make efficiency possible across the entire web of government. The policy results flow like water (at least to me), and now they're in print: shifting to a paperless legal system, streamlining and reducing court appearances, transforming government procurement and management, etc.

And to critics who'd charge that J(1) should shut up or that the State's fiscal crisis must trump environmental responsibility, the report has replies at the ready that, if I do say so myself, genuinely kick ass.... )

So what next? Dunno, but I have an interview tomorrow....


Nov. 12th, 2008 08:35 am
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Today I return to work to hear J(1)'s final State of the Judiciary speech, which I had a hand in writng. It's the final speech because J(1) turned 70 this year and my state's constitution removes judges from office on December 31 of the year in which they reach age 70 -- a rule that the United States Constitution's framers derided as ridiculous as far back as 1787. (Writing to New Yorkers, Federalist 79's "Publius" penned that the new nation had far graver problems than a "super-annuated bench.") And yet the rule remains, and so the rule will be applied, and so J(1) will sing her swansong today.

As much from a governing standpoint as a personal one, there's nothing sweet about today's ending. J(1) is a truly gifted jurist and a gifted leader, likely the best Chief Judge my state ever has seen. The idea that she or anyone is too old to continue doing a superb job is nuts. And given that my state has suffered many leaders of questionable judgment or repute of late, losing J(1) to the crime of being 70 years old is plain absurd... just as it was absurd that the judge for whom I clerked had to step down when he reached age 70.

Of course, it's not really an ending for J(1): she has so much energy and wit and will that she'll keep busy and make huge contributions anywhere she chooses to invest herself. I celebrate that, and I celebrate all that she has achieved -- most especially institutionalizing the notion that courts can help solve problems rather than blindly decide case after redundant case as if running on a treadmill. But I'm angry that it has to end this way.
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I didn't know that the musical style of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh is one part Jerry Garcia, one part Nashville, one part Beethoven post-Fifth Symphony and one part Queen! I'm making sure that part of my re-entry involves mandatory Fun Things, New Things and, in any event, Non-Work/Career/Agita Things. An afternoon of NYC Turkish food and then an evening with Phil definitely suited that bill.

And now, the resumes fly.
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Ah, Bucks County. Today's NYT article does a great job laying out the political challenge of Obama's campaign in Bucks County, one of the several reasons my job was so nutty.
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Thursday goals set: sleep, eat, unpack, wage laundry war

Thursday goals met: sleep, eat

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At 8pm Election Night, we at State HQ started getting word that Philadelphia voting machines were printing zero result tapes. (These machines provide no voter-verified paper trails, but they do print vote-total results after polls close.) First 100 machines seemed to fail, then more. Panic set in: wholesale machine failure in Philadelphia could mean that Obama would lose maybe hundreds of thousands of Democratic votes, which could hand PA to McCain. Calls flooded our intake centers, and naturally nobody there knew what to do because My Asshole Former Boss hadn't let me train anybody. When the calls mounted further, MAFB first ordered me to write a call script within five minutes, then he panicked. He barked orders that I grab an aide, race to the call center, set up five hard phone lines to communicate with State HQ, and manage things up. I had three thoughts:

1. You asshole. I warned you this might happen, but your pathological personal hatred of me blinded you to the risk.

2. This may cost us the election. (At 8:15pm, we didn't yet know the election would be such a landslide that we could lose PA and still win the White House.)

3. I'm to manage this disaster entirely alone because PA had no Democratic voting machine experts and MAFB had eliminated my machine support team.

I ran to the cell center, phoning en route everyone I knew who might know about these machines. By the time I arrived, I had a computer science professor at Lehigh and the NY Reform network scouring technical manuals. When I arrived at the call center, I saw chaos. Senior managers ran at me from all sides. Phones were ringing off the hook. I had first one, then two, then three phones to my ear. Papers flew. I myself started to panic. But then I saw that in the center of this vortex sat our Philadelphia counsels, who also hated MAFB and who silently exuded calm while everyone around them ran around like decapitated chickens. I went over to them and asked about their Cheshire Cat routine.

Turned out that hundreds of Philadelphia judges of elections literally were so drunk from celebrating all day at their polling places that, when polls closed, the shitfaced judges pushed the wrong machine buttons and printed morning zero tapes (which show that no votes are pre-loaded on the machines) instead of evening results tapes. Nobody from the campaign was talking to the county counsels, who knew all, so they kept mum, smiled and waited to be consulted.

I let out a belly laugh that halted the chaos. I knew we'd won the White House. And in that moment, I knew that MAFB's political career was toast.
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[Seal of Obama for America]


Dear Friends:

We talked about making history, we dared to hope for it, we worked our hearts out for it, and today no doubt you’re tired but probably very happy. Our nation and our world are better off today for your hard work and the determination of thousands of Americans of all stripes who believed, as we believed, that it was time to renew our democracy.

Thanks to you, Pennsylvania’s 2008 presidential election went more smoothly than many pundits predicted. Over 5.75 million Pennsylvanians came out to vote – many for the first time, on voting machines they’d never seen before, in precincts that were utterly overloaded. Election Day brought problems, some of them substantial – but you managed them better than any voter protection team ever. Whether measured by the size, smarts or sheer success of your voter protection efforts, together you helped make history.

Pennsylvania was lucky to have you this week. Now more than ever, Pennsylvania and the United States need you to build on yesterday’s victory for our election system and for our democracy. So please stay involved: on so many fronts, there’s so much yet to do, and hopefully you feel an energy of possibility and renewal. Yes, we really can.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you did to protect the vote and help renew our democracy. My personal email address is [redacted]. Please stay in touch.


[ profile] samtheeagle
Deputy Director of Voter Protection
Campaign for Change -- Pennsylvania
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Reports coming in of 2-3 hour waits, outside, in a cold rain. Voters are leaving. I'm doing my best to leverage Field resources (coffee, tarps, sweaters), but ultimately it's about voters having steel resolve and lawyers becoming cheerleaders:

Don't let them take this away from you. We've come so far. History is just ahead and you have to be a part of it. We need you or else we might not get there. Stay in line. Vote. Make history.

I predict 4-5 hour lines within 60-90 minutes.
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