Thursday, May 28, 2009

EUGENE VOLOKH has an excellent series of posts on the California Supreme Court decision upholding Proposition 8. Start here.

To me, it looks like the court got it right, and I say that as someone who doesn't like Proposition 8 and wouldn't have voted for it.

But then, I'm one of a small minority of Americans who can wrap my mind around the fact that not everything I find unpleasant or silly is unconstitutional.
A HIGHER EDUCATION bubble? "Tuition, room, and board at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill cost about half what they cost at nearby Duke. Is a Duke education really twice as valuable as one from UNC?"

Easy answer: You get what you pay for.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quote of the Day:
"Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us."
~ Charlotte Bronte

Song of the Day:
Sarah McLachlan, "Ordinary Miracle"

Happy Birthday:
Rosanne Cash
Bob Dylan
Patti LaBelle
Priscilla Presley

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Quote of the Day:
"Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with that special girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."
~ Albert Einstein

Song of the Day:
James Taylor, "Handy Man"

Happy Birthday:
Joan Collins
Rosemary Clooney
Carolus Linnaeus

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quote of the Day:
"Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear."
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Song of the Day:
The Rolling Stones, "She's a Rainbow"

Happy Birthday:
Mary Cassatt
Arthur Conan Doyle
Laurence Olivier
Richard Wagner

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quote of the Day:
"I had an epiphany a few years ago where I was out at a celebrity party and it suddenly dawned on me that I had yet to meet a celebrity who is as smart and interesting as any of my friends."
~ Moby

Song of the Day:

Happy Birthday:
Raymond Burr
Mary Robinson
Henri Rousseau

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

DEAR CONGRESS: The New York Times informs me that thanks to legislation you are passing that prevents the credit card industry from charging its riskiest customers more, I can expect American Express to try to make up the difference out of my pocket:
Banks are expected to look at reviving annual fees, curtailing cash-back and other rewards programs and charging interest immediately on a purchase instead of allowing a grace period of weeks, according to bank officials and trade groups.
Be assured that if American Express attempts to charge me interest (I'm one of the millions of Americans who pay their balance in full every month), charges me an annual fee, or attempts in any way to make more money off of me than they already do from charging merchants service fees on my transactions, I will immediately cancel my American Express card.

You see, I have a debit card. And a checkbook. And absolutely no intention of subsidizing other Americans' poor decision-making more than I already do (my tax bill is a subject for another letter).

So after I and millions of other responsible, fed-up Americans cancel our credit cards, and the card companies are left with only the least-reliable customers (whom they're not allowed to profit from), and using a credit card becomes a signifier of low status (because the responsible, upper-income people all have canceled theirs), and stores stop accepting them (because the card companies, with their smaller, low-income customer base, suddenly have no leverage over the merchants), it'll be up to you to bail the card issuers out. With more of my money.

Apparently that's the way the world works now.


Monday, May 18, 2009

SUMMER ASSOCIATES with bigger paychecks than some 4th-year associates? Apparently it's happening at at least one firm.

Still, don't envy the summer associates. Perks are already being cut dramatically, and offers of permanent employment are no longer an almost-sure thing.
"JUST HOW MUCH government debt does a president have to endorse before he's labeled 'irresponsible'?" asks Robert Samuelson.

Friday, May 08, 2009

"I THINK that there is probably a special place in hell reserved for politicians who betray our nation's most helpless children for the benefit of a sullen and recalcitrant teacher's union."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

OBAMA and the DC voucher program:

The woman in the video has a simple question for the President: "Why, sir? Why?"

It's simple: "Kids don't have a union."

Monday, May 04, 2009

SLATE'S "DEAR PRUDENCE" addresses the habit of automatically assigning everyone in one's orbit to one's own ideological team: "What would be nice [is] if people stopped assuming everyone who seems 'like a normal person' agrees with them politically."

I'll hasten to add that the offense occurs on both sides of the spectrum, and it's annoying whether it comes from the left or the right. Suffice it to say that "a normal person" means one thing in Washington, DC, and quite another thing in Birmingham, Alabama. And apparently I'm not quite normal in either place.
LOVE AT Yale Law School: Gretchen Rubin's post touches on a topic close to my own heart. The library, the courtyard, the stairs in front of the stained-glass windows — I didn't particularly like law school, but I love those places because I associate them with meeting and falling in love with my husband.

But Gretchen's post is about so much more than YLS. Read it.
BYE, BYE, Boston Globe?
The New York Times Co. said last night that it is notifying federal authorities of its plans to shut down the Boston Globe, raising the possibility that New England's most storied newspaper could cease to exist within weeks.

After down-to-the-wire negotiations did not produce millions of dollars in union concessions, the Times Co. said that it will file today a required 60-day notice of the planned shutdown under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification law.

The move could amount to a negotiating ploy to extract further concessions from the Globe's unions, since the notice does not require the Times Co. to close the paper after 60 days. The deadline, however, would put the unions under fierce pressure to produce additional savings, and the Boston Newspaper Guild promptly called the step a "bullying" tactic by the company.

"From the moment the Times Co. purchased The Globe in 1993, it has treated New England's largest newspaper like a cheap whore," former Globe columnist Eileen McNamara wrote last month in the Herald.
But The Globe is expected to lose $85 million this year. So whatever it is, it's certainly not "cheap."
GEORGE WILL calls Arnold Schwarzenegger "the best governor the states next to California have ever had."
For four years, more Americans have moved out of California than have moved in.

California’s business costs are more than 20 percent higher than the average state’s. If, since 1990, state spending increases had been held to the inflation rate plus population growth, the state would have a $15 billion surplus instead of a $42 billion budget deficit, which is larger than the full budgets of all but 10 states.

Since 1990, the number of state employees has increased by more than a third. In Schwarzenegger’s less than six years as governor, per capita government spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased nearly 20 percent.

Liberal orthodoxy has made the state dependent on a volatile source of revenues — high income tax rates on the wealthy. California’s income and sales taxes are among the nation’s highest, its business conditions among the worst, as measured by 16 variables directly influenced by the Legislature. Unemployment, the nation’s fourth highest, is 11.2 percent.

Time will tell how high a surtax wealth creators are willing to pay for those gorgeous ocean vistas. I hear there are lovely views in Idaho too.

MEGAN MCARDLE on the Chrysler situation: "There's a reason we order the seniority of claims by how secure the loan was, rather than how much we like the creditors."

Perhaps it's idealistic of me, but the American bankruptcy system actually works very, very well. I think we should be very cautious about mucking with it, particularly when there's no reason to. The administration didn't need to beat up the creditors in order to reorganize the company--or at least, they wouldn't have needed to do so, if they weren't trying to make the creditors take less than they'd get in a liquidation. Nor did it need to do so to keep the UAW at the table--unlike capital, the UAW isn't going anywhere. The administration is beating up the creditors because a) it wants to give the UAW a much better deal than they'd get in liquidation and b) they'd like someone else to pay for it. I recognize that the law is always kind of messy, but as far as I know, this kind of blatant political intervention between debt claims is unprecedented, and worse, it's a dress rehearsal for doing the same thing at GM. I don't think this is good for the rule of law, I'm pretty sure it will be bad for capital markets, and I'm nearly positive it's going to make it hard for any heavily unionized company to get substantial capital for the next decade.
More here.
Quote of the Day:
"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend."
~ William Blake

Song of the Day:
Death Cab for Cutie, "Soul Meets Body"

Happy Birthday:
Audrey Hepburn
Horace Mann
Hosni Mubarak
Randy Travis

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Quote of the Day:
"To the complaint, 'There are no people in these photographs,' I respond, 'There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.'"
~ Ansel Adams

Song of the Day:
Pete Townshend, "Let My Love Open the Door"

Happy Birthday:
Mary Astor
Niccolo Machiavelli
Golda Meier
Pete Seeger

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Quote of the Day:
"Winning is important to me, but what brings me real joy is the experience of being fully engaged in whatever I'm doing."
~ Phil Jackson

Song of the Day:
Paul Simon, "Kodachrome"

Happy Birthday:

Bing Crosby
Theodore Herzl
Bianca Jagger
Alessandro Scarlatti
Benjamin Spock
LEGAL EAGLE Wedding Watch commenters vociferously disagree with my high opinion of the Anna Weatherly "Spring in Budapest" china pattern.

Friday, May 01, 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA may not "stand with" Chrysler bondholders like Oppenheimer Funds, but this press release suggests that Oppenheimer stands with its shareholders, which is exactly what the law requires it to do:
At all times in the negotiations, OppenheimerFunds sought fair treatment for the shareholders of our funds and we were willing to make very significant sacrifices to reach an agreement. Along with more than 20 other secured creditors, OppenheimerFunds rejected the Government’s offers because they unfairly asked our fund shareholders to make financial sacrifices greater than those being made by unsecured creditors [i.e. the United Auto Workers]. Our holdings in secured Chrysler debt are entitled to priority in long-established US bankruptcy law and we are obligated to our fund shareholders to support agreements that respect these laws.
As Stephen Spruiell says, "I don't know about you, but knowing that Oppenheimer's managers were willing to stand up to immense political pressure on behalf of their investors kind of makes me want to open an account there."