Monthly Archives: November 2011

Robin S. Rosenbaum Nominated for District Court

Congratulations to Magistrate Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum (UM ’91) whom President Obama has just nominated for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida

From the official White House announcement:

Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum is a United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of Florida, a position she has held since 2007. From 1998 until her appointment to the bench, Judge Rosenbaum was an Assistant United States Attorney in the same district, where she served as Chief of the Economic Crimes Section in the Fort Lauderdale office beginning in 2002. Before joining the United States Attorney’s Office, Judge Rosenbaum clerked for Judge Stanley Marcus on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in 1998, worked as a litigation associate at Holland & Knight from 1996 to 1997, and served as staff counsel at the Office of the Independent Counsel in Washington, D.C. from 1995 to 1996. She began her legal career as a trial attorney at the Federal Programs Branch of the United States Department of Justice from 1991 to 1995. Judge Rosenbaum received her J.D. magna cum laude in 1991 from the University of Miami School of Law and her B.A. in 1988 from Cornell University.

Judge Rosenbaum is also one of our Adjunct Professors, teaching a course called “Writing Weapons in the Litigator’s Arsenal: Motions to Dismiss Under 12(b)(6).”

Posted in Law: Practice | Leave a comment

Star Creep: It’s Not Just for Galaxies

POGO, Today’s Military: The Most Top-Heavy Force in U.S. History.

Seventeen general and flag officers were scheduled to be eliminated between May and September through Gates’ Efficiency Initiatives. But the DoD didn’t reduce its top brass at all. Instead, six generals were added from May to September, increasing the number of general and flag officers from 964 to 970. Moreover, from July 1, 2011—Panetta’s first day as Secretary of Defense—to September 30, the Pentagon added three four-star officers. Coincidentally, this is precisely the number of four-star officers Gates cut during his final year as SecDef, from June 2010 to the end of June 2011. Thus, in just three months, Panetta undid a year’s worth of Gates’ attempts to cut the Pentagon’s very top brass. It’s doubtful that Gates would consider Panetta’s current rate of adding a new four-star officer every month conducive to efficiency.

The most top-heavy branch of the military, the Air Force, led the most recent surge in increasing top brass, adding six officers in the two-, three-, and four-star ranks, while cutting one brigadier general. The Marines and Army each netted two additional generals. The Navy was the only branch of the military that actually did cut its top ranks during this time period, even though they added a four-star admiral.

While the Pentagon was adding these officers it was cutting enlisted personnel (a phenomenon known as “officer inflation” or “brass creep”). Between May and September, more than 10,000 enlisted personnel were cut by the DoD, possibly in preparation for the end of military operations in Iraq, while more than 2,500 officers were added. Consequently, for the first time in the more than 200 years that the U.S. has had a standing military, there are fewer than five enlisted personnel for every officer. In other words, today’s military is the most top-heavy force in U.S. history.

It takes unbelievable political and administrative effort to get the services to do anything that they see as against institutional interest. I think it was William Safire’s (in Before the Fall, his best book) who described Nixon’s efforts to get Navy Quonset huts off the Mall — they’d been put up as temporary office space in WWII and were still enjoyed by brass needing a base of operations when lobbying the Hill into the late ’60s. Nixon saw them as an eyesore, and they grated every time he was driven past them — which was often. As I recall the story, Nixon gave order after order to have them removed, but the Navy played for time, hoping he’d lose interest or finish his term; at the time of his re-election in 1972 they were still standing. I forget now if the huts outlasted Nixon or not, but in the end they did go. Still, the ugly ‘temporary’ structures outlasted the war by almost 30 years.

Posted in National Security | Leave a comment

Grimmelmann Strikes Again

If you have read Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, and you you have also read some Leo Strauss and/or had to deal with Straussians (and, by the way, it seems they’re everywhere in the academy), then it is very likely that you will get a kick out of James Grimmelmann’s A Straussian Reading of The Magicians.

If you haven’t met both conditions, though, don’t bother. Unless of course you wish to read it as a parable of what law schools would be like on the Segal model…

Posted in Kultcha | Leave a comment

Another Example of Why 48 States See Florida as a Joke

It appears one of the three most powerful political figures in Florida, overseeing a nearly $70 billion budget, has an attention span rivaling an oat bag.

Jeepers, you would have an easier time getting a straight answer out of the dearly departed Moammar Gadhafi than Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who has taken prevarication, misdirection and willful amnesia to heights of fantasy Lewis Carroll could only dream of.

The noted author of the publicly funded $152,000 tome on Florida politics, Lassie Goes to Tallahassee, admitted a few days ago he fibbed, obfuscated and otherwise engaged in a full Pinocchio when he denied to a reporter knowing anything about a payoff to get rid of former state Republican Party chairman Jim Greer, who had treated the job as if he were a Kardashian on steroids.

But in a sworn deposition connected to a lawsuit brought by Greer against his former employers, Haridopolos now admits he was less than truthful about the proposed, but unconsummated, $124,000 settlement. The acclaimed author of Tallahassee: Indian for ‘Where’s My Check?’ said he thought he wasn’t supposed to talk about the back-room deal.

Why not? Everyone else was.

— Daniel Ruth, St. Petersburg Times, Haridopolos' selective amnesia.

PS. Why just 48? There’s always Alabama.

Posted in Florida, Politics: The Party of Sleaze | Leave a comment

Debunked

Real World Test Show That Android Task Killers Are Still Useless.

Had me fooled.

Posted in Android | Leave a comment

Links to Postings on L’affaire Segal

A surprising number of foreign academics have emailed me over the past few days to ask what I thought of David Segal’s attack on law schools in the New York Times the other day. So here are no-friend-of-the-status-quo Jim Chen’s links to David Segal’s critiques of legal education and the academy’s reaction. To which I would add pointers to Bodie, Kerr, Leiter, and Pasquale.

There is of course much to critique and improve in law school education. And the economic model looks increasingly uncertain. But Segal’s articles are so uninformed and so error-ridden that all they do is set back the necessary debate.

Update: add Krakoff to the list.

Posted in Law School | Leave a comment

Step One in Tax Shelter Reform, a (Very) Modest Proposal for Transparency

Today’s NYT article on how the Estée Lauder heir Ronald S. Lauder uses tax shelters to protect his billions reminded me of An Investment Manager's View on the Top 1%:

A highly complex set of laws and exemptions from laws and taxes has been put in place by those in the uppermost reaches of the U.S. financial system. It allows them to protect and increase their wealth and significantly affect the U.S. political and legislative processes. They have real power and real wealth. Ordinary citizens in the bottom 99.9% are largely not aware of these systems, do not understand how they work, are unlikely to participate in them, and have little likelihood of entering the top 0.5%, much less the top 0.1%. Moreover, those at the very top have no incentive whatsoever for revealing or changing the rules. I am not optimistic.

(Incidentally, there’s some other interesting stuff there, including a rich-person’s view of why the 99.5% and up are so different from the bottom half of the top 1% (ie. 99.0 – 99.5). That group is mostly very successful professionals who find their retirement prospects to be better than most, but still less certain than they would like. The top 0.5%, on the other hand, the writer says, are or were in finance.)

While it would be good to do some serious reform of the tax system, the vested interests are in fact all pushing hard the other way (e.g. the quiet concerted action to destroy the inheritance tax).

Perhaps, therefore, as a first step we could require that anyone who uses a tax credit or deduction that saves them more than, say, $250,000 in tax liability, must disclose what tax credit/deduction they used, how much they saved and have it recorded along with their names on a registry published online, in a nice searchable format, by the IRS. There is a long tradition of having tax returns private, but perhaps for this we should change it: if you want to keep your privacy, don’t take the tax shelter. Note that my proposal does not require that the taxpayer disclose either income or total tax liability, just the size of the savings and its source.

As I’ve said before, I’m not at all a tax lawyer. I invite people who know more about tax law to explain why this idea is unworkable, pointless, or fattening.

Posted in Econ & Money, Law: Tax | 8 Comments