Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cheney and Ahmadinejad

Nicholas D. Kristof

Twins Separated at Birth ?

Nick Kristof revealed today in a brilliant column in the N.Y. Times that Dick Cheney and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may in fact be twins separated at birth. The circumstantial evidence mobilized in support of this stunning finding by Kristof is persuasive. The two are clearly working in close harmony to stir the Iranian passion for nuclear weapons. It is a toss-up to decide which of the two deserves more credit for driving the Iranian nuclear program. Kristof's column speaks for itself and deserves to be read.

What is astonishing to me is not Kristof's discovery of the relationship between Cheney and Ahmadinejad per se, which I had long suspected in any event, but the comments posted in the Times in response to his column. Do read them. Two clear conclusions emerge:

First, there is in America an almost frightening pent up animosity toward Dick Cheney, and

Second, there is a palpable hunger for a genuine impeachment movement.

I have written earlier about the legal foundations for an impeachment proceeding against Bush and Cheney in a post in this blog, when referring to my classmate Elizabeth Holtzman's book on the case for impeaching Bush and, by extension, Cheney.

Can it be that the time is coming?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Quote of the Week

Jim Redman
is one of the great motorcycle racers of all time. He was a six time world road-racing champion and a six-time winner of the Isle of Man TT, and in 1995, at the age of 64, he won the race at Daytona on an MV Agusta 350.

On Saturday of last week, Redman was inducted into the Moto GP Hall of Fame at a ceremony held on the eve of this year's German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring. A well deserved honor for Redman, who is also, by the way, a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Redman, who is 75, appeared at the ceremony at the Sachsenring with his 17 year old German girlfriend, Lisa. (See above.) He grinned at the press and quipped:

I raced at a time when motorsport was dangerous and sex was safe.

I have the feeling that today the reverse is true.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

China Overtakes Germany

An Historic Moment

In a front page article on July 16, 2007, The Wall Street Journal reports that, based upon results through June 30, China will overtake Germany in 2007 to become the third largest economy in the world, after the U.S. and Japan.

China had already passed the U.K. and France, but in 2006 its GDP came in at $2.8 trillion, just behind Germany at $2.9 trillion.

In the first two quarters of 2007, however, China grew at 11% and Germany at 3%, and those numbers are expected to hold for the year. The result is that in 2007 China's GDP will grow to $3.1 trillion and Germany will come in at $2.987 trillion.

To put these numbers in context, consider that the 2006 GDP of the U.S. was $13.2 trillion and that of Japan was $4.4 trillion. It gives you a sense of just how big the U.S. economy really is and why until recently every uptick of the U.S. inflation rate caused investors around the world to tremble.

Now as the emerging markets of Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe surge forward, and as the EU economies grow, the weight of the U.S. economy is becoming balanced by other world economies, with the hopeful result that these economies will prosper and remain stable despite downturns in the U.S.

Two other interesting GDP numbers are those of Russia, which we often think of as in some sense a co-equal power to the U.S., which has a GDP of a mere $975 billion, less than a 13th of that of the U.S., and of little South Korea, with a population of only 49 million, which has a GDP of $877 billion, making it the world's tenth largest economy.

As the emerging markets guru Antoine van Agtmael observes in his new book The Emerging Markets Century, prior to the industrial revolution China and India were in fact the world's largest economies. China's leap over Germany thus resonates with the past.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Final Argument of James Martin MacInnis

A speech prepared but not given

Sometime in early 1979 for reasons now lost in the passage of time the great San Francisco trial lawyer, James Martin MacInnis, drafted a set of rough notes for a speech on the art of final argument in the trial of causes before the courts. MacInnis was himself a master of final argument and knew whereof he wrote. Sadly, before he could complete his draft he was killed in an automobile accident at Gough and Pacific streets in San Francisco when a car driven by a drunken driver broadsided his car, killing him and his wife. The Bar of San Francisco mourned the loss of one of the greatest among them.

MacInnis' notes in due course came into the hands of Bill Newsom, MacInnis' long-time friend, colleague, admirer and mimic (MacInnis once said to him, "Bill you tell this story, you do me better than I do myself."). Newsom took the notes and wrote the speech MacInnis had intended to write. He delivered it on MacInnis' behalf on the occasion of the dedication of the James Martin MacInnis Moot Court Room the Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco on October 21, 1981.

Here then is the speech conceived and drafted by MacInnis but written and delivered by Newsom -- the lawyer may learn from it, the layman may savor it (click on the image):

Friday, July 06, 2007

More on Gore

The Run-Up to Live Earth

In the run-up to Live Earth tomorrow Al Gore appeared on Larry King today looking extraordinarily well and handling Larry's questions beautifully. He looked indeed like a president-in-waiting. I take back everything I said in my earlier post about needing a new tailor and a drama coach.

Gore had a quick answer to Larry's question, "well, why don't you run for president?", which was, "I am involved in another kind of campaign now and it feels like I am doing the right thing." Full stop. Answers the question but rules nothing out. The only hint of what may really be on his mind came in answer to Larry King's question, "what do you think of the possibility that Michael Bloomberg will run for president as an independent?" Gore made it clear he was not happy about that possibility at all and obliquely warned Bloomberg away with the admonition that no one has ever been elected president as an independent. In addition, he remarked several times that, "there are 500 days left until the election." Now why would he be keeping track of that, unless....?

Gore goes out of his way to avoid negative comments about other political figures, but makes an exception in the case of Dick Cheney, with respect to whom he puts on his most serious mien and intones, "the Vice-President has done real harm to this country."

If Live Earth is a success, as it appears it will be, Gore will have global superstar status. He will be an almost certain Nobel Peace Prize winner. He will occupy a commanding position in the world. With his film, his best-selling book and Live Earth behind him he can remain above the domestic U.S. political wars, concentrate on climate change, and let the presidency come to him. A very smart strategy.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Scooter Scoots

Tonight George W. has commuted Scooter. Not pardoned, as we all (including Scooter) expected, but commuted. Scooter remains a convicted felon and will soon be a disbarred lawyer. But he is spared jail time.

By any measure this is a spineless solution. Typical of George W. The people will despise him. Scooter will hate him. A pointless and idiotic decision by the president.

What negotiation must have gone on behind the scenes. Did Cheney press hard for a full pardon? Scooter must be wondering this tonight? Does Cheney stand up for his people, or does he let them twist in the wind? Cheney's appearance on Face the Nation on April 15 (reported earlier in this blog) suggests that he is no stand up guy.

Scooter must be thinking over his book tonight. What possibilities lie before him?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Gore Administration

I have Al Gore at 3 to 1, Hillary at 5 to 1, Obama at 6 to 1, Edwards at 10 to 1 and no one else worth rating.

Gore is not just a wannabe president, he is a should-have-been president. That must weigh on his mind each minute of each day. And he has some scores to settle. (One of them is with himself, for running such a lame campaign in 2000.)

Hillary and Obama will cancel each other out with their mutual popularity, their fat treasuries and their lack of electability, standing alone.

Gore will have to step in. If he does, and if gets a new tailor, a new hair stylist and a decent drama coach who can tell him how to talk, tell a joke and act like a genuine human being, he will be unbeatable. He has substance: he thinks, he acts, he leads, he writes, he is decent, he is not an asshole, he has relevant experience, he moves people. He is better than the American people deserve.

The Republicans have no one. McCain could have had it all, but in the dumbest political act of the last decade tied his star to George W. and became a sycophant for the religious right. He got what he deserved and disappeared into a political black hole. He is history. (This assessment of McCain was confirmed by the report in the N.Y. Times of July 3 that McCain raised only $11.2 million in Q2 [a third of what Obama raised] and as a result has had to lay off dozens of campaign workers.) Giuliani is a jerk and a joke, and it is impossible to imagine a president named Rudy. Fred who? Nothing could be better for the Democrats than that the Republicans should nominate Newt. George has left a wasteland behind.

So, the case for Al Gore is overwhelming. What next? His ticket and his cabinet. Now the fun begins.

There is only one possibility for the Vice Presidential position -- Barack Obama. It is not even close. The chemistry between Hillary and Al would be toxic. They would destroy each other. Edwards would add nothing to a ticket led by Gore. Obama brings brains, style, glamour, excitement, novelty and tons of money. It is a perfect fit with Al. The southern white candidate with a northern black running mate -- it is the realization of the American dream. And look -- the southern white is a global environmental superstar and the northern black was president of the Harvard Law Review. This is American power and possibility at its acme.

Now to the cabinet. Some picks are easy.

Patrick Fitzgerald must be the Attorney General.

Hillary must swallow her pride and become Secretary of Health and Human Services, finally to be in a position to drive this country to a sane national health care program. If she has integrity she will not pass it up. Moreover, look how it positions her for a future run if she succeeds here.

Secretary of State: my candidate is Bill Clinton. If you forget that he was the president and made a giant fool of himself, he has superb credentials for the post of Secretary of State.

Dept. of Treasury: I would leave Hank Paulson in place -- for the time being.

Dept. of Labor: John Edwards. It is not a perfect fit, but he is the only one to speak out on the ruinous issue of income inequality in America and this is as good a platform as any for him to address that problem. If not Edwards, then Robert Reich again.

Dept. of Defense: A tough call. Colin Powell might be a candidate. A chance for him to make a comeback from the shadows. Does he have the guts? He flinched last time around and played the whore at the UN. He might come back with a vengeance.

Dept. of Homeland Security: Abolish it.

Dept. of Interior: Candidate to be nominated by William A Newsom, Jr., of San Francisco.

Dept. of Housing and Urban Development: Why not Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco? He knows urban issues first hand. He needs executive experience at the cabinet level. (All the others are learning on the job. Why not Gavin?) This gives him a national platform and gets him out of the no-win cul-de-sac of San Francisco politics. He could do a great job here and later cross over to the governorship of California, after Arnie, or to the vice-presidency in Gore's second term or under Hillary in her first term.

All other cabinet positions are open.

The first Supreme Court position should go to Laurence H. Tribe of the Harvard Law School faculty. Any scholar writing an article entitled, "The Unbearable Wrongness of Bush v. Gore," should be appointed to the Supreme Court.

The open question is whether Gore can put together a winning campaign organization, by which I mean a Kennedy-style campaign that means to win and brings together the talent, organization, money and winning attitude to do it. Our recent Democratic candidates have failed horribly on this score.

This is a work in progress and all comments are welcome.