Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Friday, August 31, 2012

My pal Ilene R. Fleischmann asked for a shout-out on Outside Counsel. We don't usually take requests, Ilene, but in your case we'll make an exception.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Karl Marx Drinking Game

Seldom have I seen such an awesome display of mendacity as was put before us last night. These are horrible people, horrible people who plain old don't give a shit about what lies they tell. Worse than that, maybe, is the terrifying brand of nostalgia they are trying to peddle. The Republican argument seems to be,  "Things have sucked before. Why can't they suck again?"If anything it seems like they want to make life even worse for everyone else than they were in the good old days.

I really don't know if I can watch the convention tonight.

Monday, August 27, 2012

It is kind of a truism that male political candidates' wives are likable, and serve to soften the image of their husbands, but I'm not so sure that this is true, and even if it was true I'm not so sure that it would be a good thing. One of the things to like about grumpy ol' Bob Dole was that his wife was as capable as he was. Even though Hillary voted for the Iraq war, I like the Clintons because they have a marriage of equals. I have a hunch that Elizabeth Edwards was smarter than John, and I can't have been the only one that wished she'd been the candidate. It is impossible to not love Michelle Obama. On the other hand, Barbara Bush (looks like George Washington, rides a broom); Marilyn Quayle (smarter than Dan, also more unpleasant); Cindy McCain (don't you feel a little sorry for her? Her husband is nasty and abusive, and all she did to deserve him was to break up his first marriage and be rich. The heiress daughter of a brewing empire deserves better.); and let's not forget Laura Bush (I hate her most of all. She was the single person who knew best of how ill-equipped her hapless husband was for the job, but stood by and let it happen.)

Nobody remembers Kitty Dukakis, except for the part about her husband fumbling a question about a hypothetical rape. She seems like a person who has had more than her share of unhappiness in her life. I kind of like Teresa Heinz, because she reminds me of the Bob Dylan lyric-- "I can't help it if I'm lucky". She would have done well to have told her husband to grow a spine.

And comes now Ann Romney, and her dancing horsie. I can't wait for this speech. Ann Romney has done nothing-- nothing-- in her life except to catch Mittens' eye. The evidence is that she is a horrible person-- what kind of a woman gets married in a ceremony her parents are forbidden to attend? I have never heard her say anything intelligent, and in fact everything I have ever heard her say strongly suggests that she is exactly the sort of hateful rich chick who thinks that her family's money is all the legitimization she needs. This is going to be great.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I hadn't realized that US high schools have abandoned the mile. There are iconic distances in track, and the mile is absolutely one of them. The 100 is the hundred-- meters or yards it is still the metric by which we determine the the fastest. 26.2 is the marathon-- an oddly arbitrary distance that has become the standard for endurance. In between there are other classic races-- the 440, or it's metric cousin, the 400-- is the longest sprint; and both the 5k and the 10k are worthy tests. The mile though-- nobody says "I'm a 1500 man." If you are tough enough for the race you are a miler. That extra nine meters. Roger Bannister. Marty Liquori. Jim Ryun. Mary Slaney. Eamonn Coghlan. Pavo Nurmi. Hell, Alan Webb. I was a (terrible) miler, but even though I was probably better suited for another distance the mile was all I cared about. Bring Back the Mile!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Oh boy! Norman Mailer's films are being released as a box set! I've only ever seen the brawl from Maidstone-- I haven't even read the screenplays-- so this will be new Mailer for me. By all reports they are all perfectly dreadful, but they certainly merit a viewing. I suspect that the viewing they will receive will occur when A. is out of town.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Although it was released last August I'm declaring Tom Morello's "Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine" my personal hit single of the summer. The album is hit-or miss, but mostly pretty good, and unlike some fans of Morello's work with Rage Against the Machine Outside Counsel is totally down with the Morello's politics.
 Honorable Mention: Pussy Riot, Putin Lights Up the Fires. You wonder sometimes if music -- particularly, for me, the American music that I love so much, still has the power to speak to the political realities we see every day, but then something like "Black Spartacus" comes along and I feel better. I think about someone like Tomaz Stanko living in communist Poland, for whom the sound of freedom was American jazz, or how Václav Havel heard the same thing in the music of the Velvet Underground. Naturally Mitt Romney wants to cut arts funding: Mitt Romney, unfortunately, represents just about everything that I find despicable about America-- his belief in American exceptionalism, his confidence that his favored station in life has been earned somehow, his contempt for everyone who isn't him, or at least as rich as he is. Pussy Riot and the Velvets and the Plastic People of the Universe and Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young and countless others stand in ferocious opposition to those ideas, and use their work to express the importance of the freedoms we tend to take advantage of, starting with freedom of expression.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Injury has barred me from training for it the way I ought, but Wendy needed a partner for the 90 Miler so I'm in. My ankle should be stable enough for the portages by that time-- I'll be out of the boot, in any event-- and I can work on cardio in the pool. After crewing last year I'd said I was considering competing this year on several occasions, but as the deadline drew closer I focused more on the camping part (which I'm not so into) and less on the paddling part (we'll see how into it I am). I like it that within my circle I'm the guy who you can ask to do something like this with a reasonable assurance that I'll do it even when nobody else will, and I'm glad this opportunity presented itself.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dr. James Corasanti is a local gastroenterologist who had too much to drink one night at a country club. Driving home he struck and killed a young woman who was on a longboard, and left the scene. He later surrendered to the police, and was charged with, inter alia, vehicular homicide, leaving the scene, and DWI. His trial was a big, big deal in these parts. The Buffalo News gave it top-of-the-fold, banner treatment daily, and on Sundays provided helpful recaps, including information that was not before the jury (like the fact that the doc had an earlier pop for driving while impaired). Just in case that wasn't enough information, the News also used the occasion to run helpful stories about why drinking and driving is bad. Lots of people wrote letters to the editor, too. Unsurprisingly these were mostly of the torch-and-pitchfork variety, although there was some support for tar and feathers as well. The doc was pretty well fixed in the bank department, and stood to lose his ticket if he was convicted of a felony, so he lawyered up with some of the best. It was hard to tell from the coverage, but my between the lines reading suggests that the Erie County District Attorney's office was counting more on outrage and less on cross-examination to carry the day for their side. Since his back was to the wall, and since they had the resources Corasanti's team turned the case into a battle of experts, and that was enough to establish reasonable doubt on the felony charges. The jury tagged him for misdemeanor DWI, which strongly suggests to me that this was a carefully reasoned verdict- on the charge where there was no doubt, he was convicted, on the charges where there was more or less unrebutted expert proof he got a walk. Naturally there were howls of indignation from nearly every quarter. I doubt that there were many judges-- or lawyers, for that matter-- who envied Judge Sheila A. DiTullio her sentencing decision. Sentiment was pretty hot during the trial, and got hotter after the verdict. On the other hand, a year in the jug, which was the max option, is pretty hard time for a cat like Corasanti. What good does it do to put the guy in stir? It doesn't bring the girl, Alex Rice, back. The family will be compensated for her death by the civil system. The doc has already learned the lesson he missed the first time. Nobody else is likely to learn anything because of this example. (If everyone in Erie County got a year for DWI the population center of Erie County would be Alden, not Buffalo.) I get why it came down this way, naturally, but when I drill down into the rationale for it I come up with very little.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It occurs to me that Kathy Hochul was elected to Congress in the most Republican district in New York by running against the Ryan budget proposal. Obviously the dynamic is going to be different in a national race, and of course there are plenty of places that are more right wing than NY26 but I haven't seen anyone else mention it up to now. Frank Rich says that he sees the move as intended to nail down the base rather than a Palin-style grab for a game changer, and I am inclined to agree. Sucks when your base isn't nailed down by August. The timing was also odd. Saturday morning? Not that anybody reads newspapers, but this meant that the Sunday papers were going to miss the story, and that the story was competing with the Olympic closing ceremonies. Couldn't this have waited until after Labor Day? Wouldn't that have made the announcement more "energizing"? I still think that Obama needs to run a perfect campaign if he is going to serve a second term, but I am nevertheless boggled by Romney's approach. Other than rich white guys (and racists) who does he think he is appealing to? Where's his base? Are Southerners really going to turn out for him? The West is a reach-- LDS notwithstanding, does he really think he will carry Nevada? Even Arizona looks like it is in play. I'll grant that he'll carry Texas, but Colorado looks unlikely. Where's he going to gain ground on McCain four years ago?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The day after the Boilermaker I was on my way to the gym when I rolled my ankle. I rolled it good, and realized that the gym-- or even walking as far as the gym-- was going to be out of the question. I iced it that night, and bought an ace bandage, but the pain and swelling didn't go away so yesterday I went to the sports doc. Sure enough, I'd fractured my fibula. Of course the fracture is the least of it-- the torque generated by my acrobatics has really done in the soft tissues, and that will be where the hard work comes in. For now I have three weeks of orthopedic boot to enjoy. Since it is my right leg, I have to take it off to drive, then put it back on when I arrive, a tedious process. Still, it's an interesting experience- this is more or less the broken leg that one hears about people playing through, and although I wouldn't care to try it, I think with the right taping and a hit of cortisone or something I can imagine running on it. The really vexing part is that I don't have a good story about it. I hate being hurt, but if I can claim to have done it while rescuing my family from a sinking battleship I'd feel better about it.

Apart from the veneer of competence, what is supposed to be the difference between Mittens and Bush? Both are sons of career politicians with chips on their shoulders over  perceived slights to their fathers; neither ever broke a sweat; both embody the sort of privileged sense of entitlement that would make most people blush with shame. Neither has much of a filter. To the extent that Mittens has enunciated any policy whatsoever (apart from "I should be President") his policies seem identical to the policies that brought us two wars and global financial collapse. Both are the sort of religious people who are convinced that their deity wants them to be rich and powerful, which is just about the worst sort of religious person I can think of. As far as I can tell the chief distinction between the two of them is that one used to drink, and the other never did.  What am I missing?

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Broiling hot last night I had an elaborate dream that incorporated scenes from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Do the Right Thing and Cool Hand Luke. I think it had potential but assembling the cast might be a problem.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Words to avoid in food writing. Not sure how they missed "sinful".

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

What is there left to say about Gore Vidal? Almost certainly he was the last of his kind; probably he never wrote anything that was as good as he was capable of. Of course, I haven't read Williwa
or The City and the Pillar, which are, I suppose the two works upon which he made his literary reputation, and I suppose I should, but as I cast an eye over his oeuvre I find that I am surprised by how much of his work I have read. I like some of it, and was appalled that I spent any time whatsoever on a fair amount. I think the NYTimes is being generous when it says that his American Chronicles were, "scrupulously based on fact". At some point I think he stopped caring about being right, and started caring more about being told he was right. "I told you so" isn't very attractive. "I keep telling you but you refuse to listen," is even less so. His essays were better than his fiction because he could come right out and make his point in his essays, but although I frequently found myself in agreement with his larger points, and nearly always found myself admiring his stylish language, his arguments seemed flawed by an underlying disingenuous quality, and that quality seems to me to be an essential part of who the man was. It seems to me that the saddest part of his passing is having to acknowledge that we seem to have come to the end of the time when literature, or at least the novel, was an important part of the American discussion. Consider Vidal and Mailer the last of the literary celebrities.

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