Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Outside Counsel Best of for 2011, in chronological order:

Charles Lloyd Quartet
Emily and Josh;
The gradual road towards the reform of judicial selection;
Mr. Horsepower(Seriously, I get a couple of visits a day from people looking for that boyd.)
The NYSBA's CPLR Committee;
LCA's turn in South Pacific;
CEPA's Visions of Greater Buffalo;
CLA's Commencement
The 90 Miler (I'm leaning closer to participating next year with each passing day.);
The political demise of Chris Collins.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I saw Sam Rivers years ago, and I am glad; I wish I could see him again but that opportunity is now gone. I hadn't realized he was from Oklahoma, and when I learned it yesterday from his obit it struck me that quite a few important jazz musicians have their roots in the red clay of the panhandle state: Oscar Pettiford, Don Byas, Cecil McBee, Don Cherry, Chet Baker, Jay McShann....

Friday, December 23, 2011

All discussions of rock and roll have to start with Chuck Berry, and he belongs in almost all discussions about 20th Century America.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I've been thinking about this field of candidates for the Republican nomination, trying to recall a time when there was such an undefined group. Mittens can't crack 25%, and the rest of the pack seems to rise and fall in two week cycles. Once a candidate crests they seem to pretty much fall back permanently, and although not a single vote has been cast, and although the dynamic will surely change once the voting starts, this state of affairs seems very unusual to me. As close as I've been able to come to a similar race is the Democratic Presidential primary season of 1988. Remember that one? Let me run it down for you, in order of finish:

Michael Dukakis
Jesse Jackson
Al Gore
Dick Gephardt
Paul M. Simon
Gary Hart
Bruce Babbitt

In addition, Lyndon LaRouche, David Duke, James Traficant, and Douglas Applegate were out there, and I suppose I shouldn't pretend that they were that much more marginal than Babbitt-- it's just that Babbitt was my early favorite. In hindsight the major candidates are an interesting list, aren't they? This was Gary Hart version 2.0, and he was the initial front-runner. After Babbitt dropped out I threw my support behind Jesse, thinking that an African-American President with a history of social activism would be the most likely to address the issues of social and economic injustice that I believed were the chief problems in American society. This, of course, proves that I have always been exactly the kind of rube that doubles down at three card monte, but I'm laying it out there in the spirit of full disclosure. I liked Paul Simon, too. This was the Illinois Paul Simon, the one with the big ears and the bow ties, not the guy who wrote "Feelin' Groovy". I wasn't a big Dick Gephardt fan-- his anti-trade posture impressed me as wrong-headed. This was Al Gore version 1.0-- Ed Koch endorsed him, but Gore was still evolving, and I found his stand on reproductive freedom unacceptable. Then and now that will always be a deal-breaker for me. I had problems with Tipper's anti-Rock and Roll beliefs as well.

The cat that ultimately rolled up the nomination was, of course, Dukakis, and he essentially did it by becoming everyone's second choice. Hart bailed early, Iowa went Gephardt, Simon, Dukakis, and New Hampshire went Dukakis, Gephardt, Simon. In the Super Tuesday races, Dukakis won six primaries, Gore five, Jackson five and Gephardt one, with Gore and Jackson splitting the southern states. The next week, Simon won Illinois. Essentially they followed form, with the southernerssplitting their support. That was basically it for Gephardt-- Jesse stayed in to the end, and so did Gore. Nobody ever used the words "Dukakis" and "juggernaut" in the same sentence: he was the beneficiary of timing, and maybe that's what will happen for Romney too. We aren't hearing much about New Hampshire, but that's Mittens' firewall, and he should be able to hang on past South Carolina. After than it becomes a question of who an acceptable second choice might be, and I am really not seeing one likely to emerge, although Newt might yet. I suppose the real difference between 1988 and 2012 is that Hart was sunk by a fling, and Newt will endure notwithstanding his personal life patriotism. The other difference is that all of the prospective Democrats were intelligent, serious people, and none of these Republicans can make that claim, but you run the campaign with the candidates you've got, not the candidates you wish you had.

Another possibility is that the front runner situation in 2011 is more volatile than it was in 1988, and that Mittens has been and will be everybody's second choice all along. This makes a certain kind of sense, and the Romney/Dukakis comparison is not inapt once we get past things like ideological consistency.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The recent death of Russell Hoban, combined with our belated discovery of Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas is turning the Hobans from a dark horse into serious first ballot contenders.

I've been thinking about what I want to say about what to say about Vaclav Havel. How about this: we hear a lot of talk about American Exceptionalism, but it is hard to imagine the United States producing a man like Havel, let alone making him President. I'll know we are really special when that happens.

Not surprisingly, Pierce gets him right:
He was always the most interesting of them, those Eastern European patriots who helped change the world in the late 1980's. A poet, a playwright, a Washington in a leather jacket and jeans, he was under surveillance by the secret police for 20 goddamn years. Upon being elected president of a free Czechoslovakia, he defined what that meant by comparing it to the deadening regime that had been settled upon the country for the previous 45 years:
"We have become morally ill because we are used to saying one thing and thinking another," he said. "We have learned not to believe in anything, not to care about each other."
That applies to allegedly functioning old democracies as well as brand-new ones, by the way.
He resigned when it became plain that Czechoslovakia would become two nations, and then came back as president of the Czech Republic. He thought even old Communists had civil liberties, too. He loved the Beatles.
In his honor, may I say, as loudly as I can:

Ronald Reagan Did Not Win The Cold War."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Usually Appellate Division decisions about inflammatory summations provide little illumination. They don't quote the arguments that were supposedly inflammatory as a rule, and therefore don't really stand for more than the proposition that you shouldn't say inflammatory things. Chappotin v. City of New York is different. Now we know that it is okay to say, "(1) "this is a man who has played the system going on 15 years"; and (2) "here’s someone who doesn’t have a concern about getting medical care … he doesn’t have a concern about working". Unfortunately the plaintiff didn't preserve his record properly, so we don't know if it's okay to say, "(3) "this is someone who understands how to make his way in the world... he has come here with a story about falling here"; or, (4) "I submit to you that the truth that you heard from the plaintiff stopped by the time he was picked up on the corner of 112th Street and Third Avenue"; or, (5) "everything from that time forward has been designed to create and advance a lawsuit"; or (6) "money is a huge motivator... now, Lord knows it’s true, that he is looking for my money... and I don’t want to give it... and you shouldn’t want to give it when you really evaluate how this case has come to you"; or, (6)"this is a classic case... you have been lied to by the plaintiff... there is no nice way to say this... you have been lied to by the plaintiff and his goal is to obtain money." Too bad. I would like to know if I could say those sort of things.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In the US more often than not everything comes down to race. There are people who will disagree, and will say that it's all about economics one way or another, but I say that when you look at how we live and what has defined our history, our music, our literature, our cuisine-- you name it-- race is the underlying theme. From 1492 to 1619 and beyond; from the 3/5ths Rule to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and today.

The experience of racism looks different in Western Europe, and I suppose this comes down to the fact that what we think of as racial minorities in Europe were, until fairly recently, a much smaller percentage of the overall population, therefore more infrequently encountered; and, perhaps in part owning to the fact that racial minorities in Western Europe tended to be from the more affluent classes in the colonial outposts where they originated. For sure a lot of the history of Europe from the Crusades on is good evidence that local minority groups were treated every bit as brutally as our native population, or the persons of African extraction who were forced to come here. It is certain that I am over-simplifying as well. There's really never been a great time to be Romani, or a Serb, or Jewish or Pavee in Europe. Still, when you speak with Europeans one of the things that consistently strikes them about life in the US is the persistence of racial discrimination here, a phenomenon that they don't seem to see at home.

Here's the thing though-- it's there. I was aware of Zwarte Piet, Santa's assistant in Dutch tradition, but I hadn't realized that people get beaten and pepper-sprayed for objecting to this racial caricature. The Nederlands have an ugly recent history with this sort of thing which makes me sad. As imperialists go, I'd always thought the Dutch were a little better than that.

Friday, December 09, 2011

If I'd won the Nobel Prize this year, I'd bring a suitcase full of butter to Oslo.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What to make of this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees? Guns N' Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, the Small Faces/Faces, Donovan and Laura Nyro; Freddie King as an Early Influence; Don Kirshner and producers Cosimo Matassa, Tom Dowd and Glyn Johns. It seems to me that G'n'R is out of its league, likewise the Peppers. I'll grant you the Beasties, and I see the argument for Donovan, although he wouldn't be on my ballot. It seems to me that the Small Faces and the Faces were sufficiently different outfits, in style and in substance, that they each deserve their own entry. I'm fine with Kirshner and the other producers, and although it seems to me that including Freddy King is sort of the equivalent of Mormon ancestor baptism, I'm okay with his induction too.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

And speaking of baseball, from a 2006 interview conducted by Jonathan Lethem, Bob Dylan answers the question that's been on everybody's minds: So what’s Bob Dylan’s favorite baseball team, anyway? "The problem with baseball teams is all the players get traded, and what your favorite team used to be-- a couple of guys you really liked on the team, they’re not on the team now-- and you can’t possibly make that team your favorite team. It’s like your favorite uniform. I mean...yeah ..I like Detroit. Though I like Ozzie [Guillen] as a manager. And I don’t know how anybody can’t like Derek [Jeter]. I’d rather have him on my team than anybody."

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