Welcome back, WCL!

Welcome Back Guys and Gals,

My Name is Cyle Barber and I’m the current President of the WCL Democrats. I just want to start off by saying whether you are an incoming first year student or a returning second or third year student, I hope you had a blast of a summer and I would like to thank you for visiting the official blog of the WCL Democrats.

Now, the general purpose of this blog is to keep you updated on our activities and events for the upcoming year. But we hope to make this blog far more than that; we want it to be an outlet for anyone in the WCL Dems to either read or make regular commentary on legal issues with a Democratic focus.

The goal is to have regular commentary from the Board on issues as they pop up, and we really want you readers to submit things too. I know everyone is busy in law school, but we’re law students, we always have opinions that we want to share with anyone who does or even doesn’t want to listen, so why not throw down a quick blog post on something you really want to talk about for everyone to hear. But I’ll let Stephan handle the minutia of how the blog is going to work, him being the Communications Director and all.

So what are we going to do this year? Hopefully Lots.

  • We plan on working with other law school Dem chapters throughout DC; for example there is a networking event in the spring that the Georgetown Law Dems usually have, and we’re going to get in on that.
  • We are going to try to have some speakers that will talk about what you guys want to hear and have some panels about what you can do with a JD in politics.
  • There are few key local races in November that will need robust voter protection operations, *cough cough* the Virginia Governor race.
  • We’ll also do something regarding the DC mayoral election, as the Democratic Primary will be held in April 2014.
  • And of course we will have some vigorous debates with the Federalist Society.

Now I’ll let the others in the board introduce themselves in future blog posts, but I’ll briefly introduce the rest of the gang right now:

Carlos Garcia is our Political Director, a fellow 3l, and he will be setting out our political agenda. He coordinates all campaign and political activities the WCL Dems undertake with outside groups.

Stephan Polsdofer is a 2L, our communications director, and he’ll be the person bugging you with emails and running this blog. He also is a member of the executive board for the National Law School Democrats… and all things considered, this might mean he actually outranks me in the hierarchy, but he still has to listen to me.

Jeanna Lee is a 2L, and is our administrator director, which means she gets to deal with the  WCL administration and WCL community to coordinate and facilitate on-campus activities, including panels, trainings, and other events.

Well that’s it for me, check back here for more updates.

Also, like us on Facebook!

Cyle

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Michelle Obama Speaking Event

By: Samit D’Cunha

I had the wonderful opportunity this past Friday to see the First Lady, Michelle Obama, speak at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. In my book, Michelle is the classiest, most astute, most put together First Lady in the history of the United States. First Ladies are at a strategic disadvantage. You don’t apply to be the First Lady (or, perhaps someday, the First Husband). It’s a position you are thrown into, and, as royal successions for the past few thousand years can attest to haphazard ascensions of power, the situation does not always turn out pretty. First Ladies stand in the shadows, but it is rare that they cast them, as in Michelle’s case. Luckily for us (and perhaps most importantly, for Barack), Michelle is a wonderful partner, and has taken on such a wonderful and prominent role in this campaign. Michelle did a great job of summarizing our President’s platform, a platform those of us with even moderate political inclinations have heard before from CNN, to NBC, to (just kidding) Fox News, to Stewart and Colbert. What was unique, however, and most important, wasn’t what Michelle said made her husband a great President, but what made our president a great husband. Michelle agreed to marry Barack, not because he was smart, handsome, tall, funny, or other classic features, but because, in Michelle’s words, “of his character.” Barack, Michelle said, was an honest, caring, loving man. And that was the man she fell in love with. What Michelle didn’t say, but what we all know, is that Barack’s character is what makes him a great president too. And if we do a strict character-to-character analysis, it’s scary looking at what the other side has to offer. “My job is not to worry about those people,” the latest of the Romney gaffes, is just the beginning. I’d like to end this post by sharing some with you:

“Culture makes all the difference, and as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.” (Romney explaining why the Jewish state is economically superior to the Palestinian territories)

“I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,”

“I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.” (Romney is worth approximately $250 Million)

“Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings, my friend.” (Mitt Romney to a heckler at the Iowa State Fair who suggested that taxes should be raised on corporations as part of balancing the budget)

“My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico… and had he been born of, uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”

“When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important.” (Mitt Romney, when asked about failing to mention the troops in his nomination speech at the Republican National Convention)

My Reaction to Willard “Mitten” Romney conceding the 2012 Presidential Election to President Obama

By: Eric Fox

      When I had to ask myself on Monday night how on Earth someone running for POTUS could be such an ignoramus as to suggest that 47% of people in this country see themselves as victims, that 47% of people fail to take responsibility with their lives, because they do not pay federal income tax I felt a strange combination of furious anger and sheer delight. Make no mistake, with how offensive and misleading as that statistic Mitt Romney used is, he has made his chances of getting elected in November even slimmer.
All over the internet you can find easy rebukes of Mitt’s comments on the 47% of Americans who pay no federal income tax. For example, as was pointed out in Ezra Klein’s piece in the Washington Post, 61% of that 47% of people (let’s put it at 28.7% of the whole country) are working but do not make enough money, either because of tax credits for having children, just making too little money or whatever else, still pay the 15.3% tax deducted from every paycheck. 15.3%, I am pretty certain that is higher than the percentage of Mitt’s income he paid in income taxes (editor’s note: Mr. Romney’s recently released tax returns show that for 2011 he paid an effective federal income tax rate of 14 percent. Mr. Romney’s return for 2010 indicated that that he paid a rate of 13.9 percent.) in 2009 or 2010, but what do I know, I am part of that 47% who pays no federal income tax at this stage of my life. That says nothing of the percentage of their money that is paid as sales taxes, or what is paid in state taxes each year.
This clearly simplistic reasoning is why, when I look back at the transcript and video of his speech, the greatest thing I feel is concern. Concern that a man who very well could become our President fails to grasp the nuts and bolts of policy issues. Concern that Mitt can look at a piece of paper or a computer screen or have an advisor tell him that 47% of people do not pay federal income taxes and he can just so easily dismiss them as piglets suckling at the government teat, as beggars who could just turn it around if they had a can-do attitude like him, while at the same time failing to recognize the benefits he has accrued from his great income and those benefits that he feels “entitled” to in our tax code.
The cognitive dissonance in Mitt Romney’s thinking during this speech was incredible, particularly when discussing some of his own personal history. Ignoring for a moment his ‘gosh, it would be an easier campaign if I was Latino’ joke-but-not-really-a-joke, he clearly fails to recognize the extraordinary privilege he has grown up with. This has been clear for much of his campaign, exhibit A being when he told college students to “borrow money from their parents” if they could not pay for school, but he was remarkably out of touch at this particular event. He said at one point, that though his father had passed an inheritance to him, that he had given it away so really he got nothing. I am sorry Mitt, but in that particular gem you neglected to mention the fact that your father bought your first house, paid for your college, your private school education, and probably got you just about any meeting you wanted since he was such an important political figure in his time. No one is calling Mitt lazy, but his idea of a self-made man is very different from what the layman would describe it as.
Mitt Romney’s “simpletonian” philosophy was not limited to his ridiculous 47% comments, he revealed himself to be a total bozo on both immigration and the Israeli-Palestine conflict as well. During the primaries Mitt was crass enough to suggest a policy of “self-deportation” with respect to immigration and has repeatedly called for President Obama to close our borders in spite of the effect that for much of the President’s term net immigration has been zero or less.  During this speech, Romney says
“Gosh, I’d love to bring in more legal immigrants. . . . I’d like to staple a green card to every Ph.D. in the world and say, ‘Come to America, we want you here.’ Instead, we make it hard for people who get educated here or elsewhere to make this their home. Unless, of course, you have no skill or experience, in which case you’re welcome to cross the border and stay here the rest of your life.”
I found this statement about as appalling as anything he said during the speech that (hopefully) killed his campaign. First of all, it is easy to want Ph.D.’s to come to the United States, every country wants Ph.D.’s to come to their country. However, if you live in a place where you get a Ph.D. I would have to imagine (because I am not aware of the statistics regarding the immigration of those with doctorates) that you are much less likely to leave the country you live in or got your degree because you will have plenty of opportunities there usually (particularly in Europe and more developed Asian countries).

       The policy of self-deportation that Mitt espouses would also make it more difficult for those people getting an education here to stay here. One of his campaign advisors is the man who inspired the Arizona immigration law that spawned similar laws in places like Alabama that make it tremendously difficult for children who are getting an education here to keep getting that education. In fairness to Mitt Romney, those laws are meant to address the undocumented, however, that does not matter when you address the biggest problem with his immigration nonsense. People that come here with “no skill or experience,” first of all, do not live some extravagant life; second, they certainly do not get reminded of how welcome they are in this country. The problem with what Mitt is saying here, is that if America is the land of opportunity, shouldn’t we be glad that people are coming here so their children can get a better life? Many families come over the border to escape violence in their home countries, to find a place that has a demand for cheap labor (our immigration system has, for much of its history, been driven by corporate interests, with the primary interest being cheap labor) and a place where their children can go to a real school, and have a chance for a better life than their parents. If Mitt wants to make it easier for people with high level degrees to come to the United States, why does he insist on policies that prey on some of the most vulnerable children here? Instead of making up some policy to lure foreign Ph.D.’s much more likely to stay in their own countries, why not cultivate the minds we have here, yearning for a chance to be well-educated Americans?

       Mitt has insisted on putting his foot in his mouth with respect to foreign affairs since he unofficially became the nominee and while I admire his flexibility at age 65, his hypothetical presidency could be a foreign policy nightmare. In addition to his comments this past summer where he said the Israeli’s had been more successful than the Palestinians because of their “culture” (just say it Mitt, you think Jews are good with money), Mitt’s comments on the conflict there made him look both like a racist and a nincompoop:

“I’m torn by two perspectives in this regard. One is the one which I’ve had for some time, which is that the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace. And that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish. Now, why do I say that? Some might say well just let the Palestinians have the West Bank and have security and set up a separate nation for the Palestinians. And then come a couple of thorny questions. And I don’t have a map here to look at the geography. But the border between Israel and the West Bank is obviously right there, right next to Tel Aviv, which is the financial capital, the industrial capital of Israel. The center of Israel. It’s, uh—what? The border would be. . . .Nine miles. The challenge is the other side of the West Bank . . . the other side of what would be this new Palestinian state would either be Syria at one point or Jordan. And, of course, the Iranians would want to do through the West Bank exactly what they did through Lebanon and what they did in Gaza. Which is the Iranians would want to bring missiles and armament into the West Bank and potentially threaten Israel. So Israel, of course, would have to say that can’t happen . . . . Well, that means that . . . the Israelis are going to control the border between Jordan, Syria, and this new Palestinian nation? Well, the Palestinians would say, ‘Ah, no way! We’re an independent country. You can’t guard our border with other Arab nations’ . . . . And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way. And so what you do is you say you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that it’s going to remain an unsolved problem. I mean, we look at that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation, but we sort of live with it. And we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve. We don’t go to war to try and resolve it.”

The Palestinians do not want peace, we must blindly support the far-right Israeli government and we are going to let someone else figure out this problem. That is the Mitt Romney’s position on Israel-Palestine. His position is to have a vacuum of leadership in this part of the world until someone smarter comes around to try to get these two sides to speak with each other. His ideology is both lazy and moronic. When a country is under occupation for six plus decades by a foreign power, they generally will not have warm and fuzzy feelings towards them, particularly when conditions in Gaza, according to a UN report released in August, will be unlivable by the year 2020. Plus, the doomsday scenario that Mitt describes is already totally feasible, Iran does not have to have weaponry in Gaza or the West Bank to threaten Israel, they can do it from home. Mitt later went on to say that the idea of the Israelis giving something up in any negotiations with the Palestinians is the “worst idea in the world.” This was an extremely crass statement when one considers the living conditions in Gaza and the West Bank, the lack of potable water, terribly low food security, extremely high unemployment, restricted travel and the amount of land theft by the Israeli government. So I would have to ask Mitt Romney, what exactly do the Palestinians have to give up? Besides their lives of course, but the IDF takes those as they please anyway.

     For a man with two Harvard degrees, who was a son of a very prominent Governor in his time, it is remarkable that Mitt Romney may be the worst major party Presidential nominee we have seen in decades. His foreign policy opinions appear to come from a place of extreme ignorance, and calling his domestic policy proposals (the parts that are not so vague it’s impossible to tell what he’s advocating for) “misguided” is about as generous I can be at this point. I want to be able to say that he was just trying to work the crowd with his answers, but, he seems to have been the most sincere that we have seen him be since he started running for President 11 ½ years ago.  Let’s just hope we don’t have to find out how “sincere” his policies will be come January 20th.

Weekly Blog Round-up: No wine in Texas, no jobs everywhere else

We trawl the blogs so that you can sound smart without even trying.

compiled by Catherine Bourque

In the shadow of the Capitol…

Human Rights Campaign and Media Matters joined together in a campaign to get Pat Buchannan censured by MSNBC for his derogatory and homophobic statements. Known to be a loose cannon for some time, Buchannan recently told Diane Rehm he thought that homosexuality was “unnatural.” HRC and Media Matters contend that Buchannan deserves censuring for these comments and that MSNBC should make some effort to control his comments since they have given him a public platform to spew his views.

Is the service economy disappearing? Craig Lambert in the New York Times writes that we are increasingly engaging in shadow work, such as bagging our own groceries, and that by doing this work, we are letting businesses forgo the unskilled, entry level jobs and replace them with technology and the consumer. So next time you bag your own groceries, buy your metrocard at a machine, or use the Internet to book a trip, think about whose job you are replacing. Continue reading

A message to voter’s rights advocates: hit ‘em where it hurts

by Luisa Fernanda Cardona

A study published this month by New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice found that a recent wave of Republican-led state legislation imposes new barriers that could prevent almost five million Americans from getting to the polls in the 2012 elections.

The study analyzed a wide array of recent voting restrictions enacted by state governments across the country. New constraints include fewer early voting days, photo ID laws, proof of citizenship requirements, and restrictions on voter registration drives. For example, Georgia reduced the early registration period from 45 days to only 21 days. Florida passed new fineable regulations on organizations that conduct voter registration drives. Tennessee, Alabama, and Kansas all passed legislation that requires voters to prove their citizenship at the polls. Kansas also now requires voters to have photo IDs before they may cast their ballots. The study also noted that these measures primarily affect young voters, minority voters, low-income voters, and voters with disabilities.

Continue reading

Weekly Blog Round-up: Rick Perry, redistricting, and testing new voter laws in WI

We trawl the blogs so that you can sound smart without even trying.

compiled by Catherine Bourque

In the shadow of the Capitol…

The WonkBlog examines Rick Perry’s energy/jobs plan point by point. Perry claims that his plan would create 1 million jobs and could be enacted without the help of Congress by loosening EPA regulations, expanding offshore drilling, and ending oil and gas subsidies. Unsurprisingly, the WonkBlog says that these claims are overstated and unlikely.

Apparently Herman Cain thinks Clarence Thomas is the model Supreme Court Justice. Think Progress gives us one more reason to shake our heads at the Republican Presidential field. As is pointed out in the blog, Thomas’s time on the court has been punctuated by scandals, conflicts of interest and questionable rulings on the constitutionality of national labor and civil rights laws.

Nate Silver at Five Thirty-Eight blogs about how New Hampshire moving its primary to early January would affect Mitt Romney’s campaign. Silver blogs that by moving to December, the momentum from the results would be lost in holiday celebrations and other candidates could play down losses, but it would make it harder for late-comers to join the race.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Due to redistricting by the independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission, will California return to power player status for the House majority? After 2000 redistricting, House candidates were winning by overwhelming majorities and so, even though California counts for one in eight House seats, the relative predictability of the contests neutered California’s ability to be a game changer in the House. However, the redistricting creates at least twelve competitive races.

A test run of the new voter law in Wisconsin did not go smoothly. The new law requires presentation of photo identification and sign into a poll book. On average, it took about 2 minutes  a person to sign into the poll book, which meant an additional half hour of waiting for every 15 people standing in line.  That means that if Wisconsin sees the same voter turnout next November as it did for the 2010 elections (51.7% of the voting-age population), the new law will add approximately 8 years of time to the voting process (2,171,331 voters at 2 minutes apiece – although obviously voters will not be voting one at a time, so it will not actually take 8 years).

Despite being dominated by Republicans, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Ohio Democrats can continue to collect signatures to oppose GOP gerrymandering of the Ohio Congressional Districts.

Weekly Blog Round-up: Herman Cain, Occupy Wall Street, and election victories in WV

We trawl the blogs so that you can sound smart without even trying.

compiled by Catherine Bourque

In the shadow of the Capitol…

In a blog post on Herman Cain, Craig Crawford writes that Cain’s recent popularity is at least in part due to the simplicity of his platform. His idea of a 9-9-9 tax plan appeals mostly because it is easy to understand and grasp. What does it say about the GOP field and GOP voters that simplicity rather than actual practical policy is turning out to be the most attractive platform?

In typical pre-election fashion, GOPers are pandering to the Christian conservative right by protesting coverage of birth control for women as a mandated preventative service in health insurance plans. Daily Kos notes that despite expressions of concern about religious freedom from Rep. Ron Paul and other Republican members of Congress, there is a “religious exemption.”  Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius gets right to point:

“They don’t just want to go after the last 18 months, they want to roll back the last 50 years in progress women have made in comprehensive healthcare in America…Viagra [is] an essential medication and birth control [is] a lifestyle choice.” Continue reading

We Killed Yamamoto (But That’s Just the Beginning)

by Billy Joyner

Anwar Al-Awlaki was killed on Friday, September 30th, probably by a Hellfire missile shot from a drone operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (not officially confirmed). Al-Awlaki is a special case because he was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico (yes, WCL class of ’13, that Las Cruces ), which means that he was an American citizen under the protection of the U.S. Constitution from the moment of his birth until the Hellfire made its final introduction.

There are many liberals and conservatives who see no problem with this. The issues are many and deeply complex. Rather than espouse an opinion, let’s break down what’s at stake: Continue reading

If Rick Perry really had a heart, he would simplify immigration

by Brian Shearer

I was shocked to hear Rick Perry drop this reasonable nugget during the Republican debate on September 22:  “If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”  Why Perry decided to buck his party’s hard-line views on immigration is beyond me.  And maybe this was a bit of an overstatement but it was refreshing to see a Republican acknowledge that immigrants are people that deserve some consideration.

Continue reading

Weekly Blog Round-up

We trawl the blogs so that you can sound smart without even trying.

In the shadow of the Capitol…

The Daily Kos reported that over two-thirds of the nation is affected by Federal judge vacancies. This Federal judicial crisis is in part due to the exceptionally long amount of time that judicial nominees have to wait for confirmation in the Senate, and in part due President Obama’s slow nomination process. How do we maintain a system of checks and balances if we can’t even get cases heard in court?

Paul Krugman argues that the so-called free market capitalists are overlooking basic economic theory by their position against pollution taxes or tradable emissions permits. He states that pollution is the classic externality that leads to market failure and, therefore, elementary economic theory says that to reach a true market equilibrium, the government must adjust for these externalities.

Jon Stewart interviewed Ron Paul on his candidacy for president and his libertarian policies. Stewart’s strategy for getting the media to take Ron Paul seriously, photoshop his head onto Chris Christie or Sarah Palin.

How does the reporting of Solyndra stack up to other political screw-ups that cost taxpayer dollars? Media Matters reports on how media coverage of Solyndra has been out of balance with the true cost of taxpayer money. While the numbers are pretty interesting, the report seems to forget to take into account the larger political implications of Solyndra. Solyndra has blown up not because of loss of taxpayer dollars, but because Obama used the company as a prime example in support for his new jobs program.

On the Wonkblog, Sarah Kliff discusses whether the reported 9 percent hike in health insurance premiums can be attributed to the CARE Act. Based on analysis from the Aon Hewitt consulting group, Kliff blogs that the vast differences in coverage of current policies and the low number of provisions that have actually gone into effect for the CARE Act means that conclusive numbers of a correlation between heath insurance premiums and the CARE Act will be skewed and unhelpful.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

In New Mexico, redistricting for three of the U.S. House districts will be settled in court after the Democratic Congress and the Republican Governor failed to reach a compromise. Many legislators argued that this will be a waste of taxpayer money, but is necessary since current districts are unconstitutional following the results of the 2010 Census.

Florida, meanwhile, has thrown the Republicans into a tizzy by rescheduling its presidential primary for the last day in January 2012.  To maintain their identity and preserve their way of life, Iowa and New Hampshire will now have to hold their primaries earlier in January, forcing all the Republican candidates to swarm both states at the end of December.  Maybe they can get a ride from Santa.