Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Friday, September 30, 2016

Who Goes Nazi? (Via The Morning News)

Bobby Bonilla came on the free agent market at the same time as Barry Bonds, and I felt for a long time that the Mets signed the wrong free agent. It is interesting to think about Bonds as a Met: how would he have been treated by the New York press? Would he have been an A-Rod type, tolerated by fans for his great skills, but never loved? SF fans seemed to understand him. Bonilla was great, but the Mets teams he played on never seemed to live up to their promise, but he was pretty good. It's not his fault that he apparently negotiated his contract with the Buffalo Board of Education.

Goddamnit. I have always preferred Katz's, which hand-slices its pastrami, but the Carnegie was great.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bruce Springsteen, feminist. Which, really, should come as no surprise, but in the current atmosphere of normalized misogyny, is a welcome breath of air. I'm on record as predicting that Springsteen's memoir would be dull, but now I think I want to read it, and I am thinking also that I may have to recant.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Very flattered to have been asked to participate on a panel with Dr. Anthony Neal, Dr. Patrick McGovern, and Dr. Peter Yacobucci last night at Buffalo State previewing and post-morting last night's Presidential debate. For the most part what we got was what, I think, we should have expected: Trump is a sputtering rage monster, and HRC is capable and knowledgeable. I think she did a good job of letting Trump descend into incoherence, and she seemed to be having fun with it, which softened her a bit. This morning's NPR coverage was a little too close to the sort of equivalency coverage that has been the problem with media coverage in general this election, but at this point there isn't much that can be done about that. One of the things that's fun about this BuffState gig is that I get asked to do stuff like this. I felt pretty Political Science-y talking about survey data and Jerry Ford's Eastern European debate slip and stuff.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

This is what being a sole practitioner means: it's a beautiful fall Sunday, and I am in the office Bates stamping exhibits. #NotesOnAGlamorProfession

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Edward Albee and W.P. Kinsella. That's a rough weekend. I'm not sure how I first became aware of Kinsella, but I think it was through his stories about Frank Fencepost, about life on western Canada's Ermineskin Indian Reserve. The baseball stuff is fine, but the Fencepost stories really seemed to me to be where his heart was.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I've always liked Time Fades Away, but I see no need to upgrade my vinyl copy

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Number 40 at my polling place at 9:23

Friday, September 09, 2016

I'm ambivalent about the practice of playing the Star Spangled Banner at the start of sporting events, although I suppose one advantage it has in its favor is the opportunity it presents to make a political statement. I'd add that I enjoy singing it at the start of races.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Interesting article about American political party realignment. My first thought is, wow, Walter Dean Burnham! Haven't heard that name in a long time. In a funny way, seeing him evoked tells us something interesting about the state of political science: it didn't used to be so scientific. Cats like Burnham represent something like the transition from alchemy to chemistry in the natural sciences, scholars who made observations and endeavored to draw conclusions from those observations although the necessary methodological tools had not been developed. In a way the Walter Dean Burnham model represents the current state of political journalism: Cokie Roberts, George F'ing Will, David Brooks and the rest aren't making fine-grained analyses because they don't know how: all they can do is compare what's happening now to something that happened before. (For Will, at least, the more obscure the predecessor event the better, so he can demonstrate his mastery of the details of the Chester A. Arthur administration or some damn thing. Cokie likes to compare things to LBJ and Nixon.) This is not an empirical method- it is solipsism, which is why their commentary is worthless.

Are American political parties realigning? Probably yes. Probably they constantly are. How do we measure this? With data, not anecdote. Does Trump (or, for that matter, Bernie Sanders) represent or embody a change in the structure of American political parties? Maybe. As we say in the social sciences, Further Study Is Needed.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Policy interests me more than character, although I think the latter can illuminate the policy choices a candidate makes. A clueless child of privilege is likely to prioritize policy choices that reflect her background, and a person's history is usually pretty good evidence of what that person is liable to believe important going forward. I've been finding that more than a few people believe that this Presidential election is about character, and are making decisions based on their perception of the characters of the respective candidates. This is, I think, stupid. I want to know what the candidates intend to do on a policy level. A man's character may be his fate*, but the direction the country takes does not have to be tethered to personality, and character, in the end, is difficult to discern in the context of an electoral contest.

So here's my question: is immigration really the most important issue facing the United States? I cannot believe that this is true, but I am open to evidence based arguments, I suppose. Show me the economic analysis. My recent involvement in a deportation proceeding has established in my mind that deportation is a lot more complex (and expensive) than shouting "Olly olly oxen free", and I'm not sure I believe in undocumented people who take all the jobs and drain all the social services at the same time.

There are bigger issues, I think, and I would like to hear the likely next President speak on those issues, rather than hear her having to respond to Donald Trump's braying. I actually think she is trying to do this, and it is on the media to stop giving the Trump campaign the megaphone that is drowning out important civic discourse. 

* “I am an American, Chicago born – Chicago, that somber city – and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. But a man's character is his fate, says Heraclitus, and in the end there isn't any way to disguise the nature of the knocks by acoustical work on the door or gloving the knuckles.”

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