Saturday, November 30, 2019


Trick plays

Do I love college football? Yes, I do. And today is a big day. Michigan plays Ohio State-- a game that has loomed large every year since I was a little kid in Detroit. Closer to my new home, Minnesota plays Wisconsin, and the winner will take the top spot in the Western division of the Big Ten, and get to play Ohio State in the championship. There are some other games, too-- but those are the ones I really care about.

And what do I love in college football. Sometimes, trick plays:

Friday, November 29, 2019


Black (Haiku) Friday

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Now we move on to the Christmas season-- and with a late Thanksgiving, it will be on us like a fast train. And today is Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year.

There is a lot going on today: recovering from food comas, hitting the mall, maybe buying a Christmas tree. Let's haiku about any of that!

Here, I will go first:

I had corn kernels
Distributed at dinner
One for each blessing.

Now it is your turn! Use the 5/7/5 syllable formula, and have some fun!

Thursday, November 28, 2019



I do love this holiday.

Thankfulness is a good thing. Gratefulness makes us better; it directs us towards the good.

I have a lot to be thankful for. Some are big, overwhelming, and unearned. Others are tiny and just as unearned. Do you ever take a bite of one of your favorite foods and savor it? It's really one of the most remarkable experiences we can have. Too rarely do I slow down to realize the beauty of it.

There is that moment, too, on a cold night when I pull a nice blanket over me and then there is this warmth, like a little miracle. Or the quiet moment in church, when a thought comes into my head, unbidden, almost always urging me towards kindness and honesty.

And this holiday is the chance to do that. We spend so much of our time and energy focused on our problems and the challenges before us. Today... it is about something else.

I'm not always good about changing gears that way.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


YLS Class of '90: Michelle Browdy

I'm devoting Wednesdays on the Razor to profiling my classmates in the Yale Law Class of '90, which is proving to be an eclectic and fascinating bunch of people.

Currently, Michelle Browdy is General Counsel and Vice President of IBM, one of the most important legal positions in American business.

But, back in the fall of 1987, she was one of just a few other people entering Yale Law from the Midwest.  I remember feeling great relief when I met her that fall-- not everyone was from New York or DC!

As I remember, Michelle graduated from New Trier, the remarkable public high school north of Chicago. From there she went to Princeton for a bachelors, and then to Harvard for a masters degree in math. So... yeah, she was much better educated than I was at that point, but it was still great to find someone from the middle of the country! She had-- and seems to still have based on the video below-- the sensibleness that marks we Midwesterners at our best.

While we were in school, Michelle was a high-achiever in a group of the same. She was the Managing Editor of the Law Journal, among other roles. She also had the best skeptical look given to dumb comments in class. How do I know? Well, uh... it might be that I was the one making dumb comments in class. I can be like that.

After law school, she clerked for the Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court. That was an unusual move-- many more people clerked in federal courts-- but one I admire even more in retrospect, as I continue to understand the importance of state courts.

From there, she went to work for Kirkland & Ellis, where she became a partner. From there, it was a sideways jump to IBM, where she has risen through the ranks to become the chief lawyer. It's a huge job-- and one that her skill set is well suited to.

Here's a snippet of her talking about law, technology and public policy:

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


What the McGahn Ruling Means

Yesterday, DC District Court Judge Katanji Brown Jackson issued a 120 page opinion (whew!) that supported her ruling that the White House could not assert executive privilege in a way that completely blocks former White House Counsel Don McGahn from testifying under subpoena to House investigators in the impeachment proceeding.

It was a push-back against a novel argument presented by the President: that he can categorically bar employees and former employees from even showing up in response to a subpoena from Congress. The ruling was explicitly rooted in the reasoning of a 2008 case from the DC District involving a subpoena issued to GW Bush-era former WH Counsel Harriet Miers. That earlier decision doesn't have the power of a controlling precedent (since it is from another judge on the same court), but it does mean that the judge is not flying solo.

In short, the ruling means that McGahn--and others, including John Bolton-- would be able to use the opinion as legal cover to appear and testify subject to the subpoenas. They would retain the ability to claim executive privilege in response to individual questions once they are there, but it is up for speculation whether or not they would do so. Bolton, who is thoroughly alienated from the WH, might not.

The decision will be appealed. But it seems unlikely that the subpoena will be stayed pending that appeal, so I would keep a close eye on this one over the next week.

John Bolton knows a lot. And he is not happy.

Monday, November 25, 2019


Haiku: "I Want Nothing" Version

Wow! I thought I was pushing the envelope this week, but people really rose to the occasion in responding to the theme of who should sing the lyrics written out by the President last week.

It was a joy to see the Sleepy Walleye back in action! Here was his contribution:

I want Trump to sing
Sing, laugh, genuinely smile
Yet it’s beyond him.

And Gavin tossed in this gem:

Close your eyes. Hear it...
Cookie Monster belts it out.
Sesame Street style.

The Medievalist came in strong:

Thinking Rod Stewart,
Gravel voiced, too many smokes,
Very cynical.

And Christine was appropriately thinking about hair:

David Bowie, not:
Perhaps Flock of Seagulls is
more appropriate.

Sunday, November 24, 2019


Sunday Reflection: I want nothing

I'm still obsessing over the Trump notes repeating "I want nothing."

I know, I know-- he was quoting a message he sent out after the whistleblower surfaced, claiming that he wanted nothing from the Ukraine.

But the phrase itself actually has deep spiritual meaning. The denial of want is a part of many faiths, in different manifestations. I don't claim to know much about Buddhism, but the Buddha did teach that the cause of suffering is our attachment to a desire to want things. Within Christianity, Jesus repeatedly teaches a turning away from want and possession-- for example, when he tells the rich young ruler to give everything away, or tells the 70 to go into the countryside with nothing but the clothes on their backs. 

Could it be that "I want nothing"- repeated, then followed by "I want no quid pro quo"--is really the President calling out to himself to a sparer life, not dominated by desire, gilt, and gold?

Wouldn't that be amazing?

Saturday, November 23, 2019


Big week 'o media

Yesterday, the Washington Post published my rant against the annual Turkey Pardon. Something about that just makes me mad! You can read that here. I got the usual gamut of responses, including an surprising number from people who were upset that I suggested eating the turkey. Which was... kinda missing the point. But we all have the issues that are most important to us, I suppose.

I was also quoted in the New York Times article about the clemency grants to three service members. You can read that one here.

Last Sunday, I wrote in the Waco paper about some of the lesser-considered problems of the Trump administration. That one is here.

On Thursday night, I got to talk about the impeachment hearings on Canadian television (they are great to talk to), but I can't find a link to the CBC.

Right now... there is just a lot to talk about.

Friday, November 22, 2019


Haiku Friday: Who should sing "I Want Nothing?" (or, Misc. Politics)

Many songs are being made from President Trump's notes from his Helicopter Yelling yesterday. For example, here is one in the style of The Smiths:

My favorite is this Ramones-style version:

Let's haiku about who we want to sing "I Want Nothing!" Or, if you want, you can haiku about the other political news of the week (which I guess was pretty important). Here, I will go first:

It's the bold sharpie
That somehow makes it most punk.
Well, that and the hair.

Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern and have some fun!

Thursday, November 21, 2019


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Beginning of the End

So, yes, those are actually Donald Trump's notes from today's Helicopter Shouting. I'm not sure what all to make of this. But I'll give it a go.

Here, he is referencing a call he he had with Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, in which he told Sondland that, well... that he wanted nothing, and that there was no quid pro quo.  I guess that Trump sees this as very exculpatory. The problem is that this call was on September 9, the very day that the whistleblower complaint was filed and suddenly we all knew that Trump was thought to have, well... wanted something, and that there was a quid pro quo. I'm not sure that will work, even in all caps.

The truth is that yesterday was significant. One witness (Sondland) testified that he pressed Ukrainian leaders to investigate Joe Biden's son, and that he did so at the direction of the President.  A subsequent witness, Pentagon official Laura Cooper, testified that Ukrainian leaders knew as early as July that aid was being withheld by the US. This undercuts a key Trump defense-- that there could be no quid pro quo, because the Ukrainians didn't even know the aid was being threatened.    

What's clear now is the following:

1) Through Rudy Giuliani, President Trump withheld aid that Congress had directed to Ukraine.

2) It was made clear to Ukrainian leaders that a White House visit by the Ukrainian leader and resumption of the aid were contingent on the Ukrainians announcing an investigation of Joe Biden and his son.

In short, Trump promised benefits if a foreign power would publicly embarrass a political rival. 

That's pretty bad. 

From here, it is enough that the House will impeach the President, almost certainly. 

However, there is no sign of Republicans defecting from the fold, despite the gathering evidence. In the end, few if any Republican Senators will vote to remove Trump from office unless there is a political shift (which is possible). Why wouldn't they remove the President for this act, which constitutes bribery under federal law? I'd suggest two reasons. First, they fear the Republican base in their own states, which remain deeply loyal to trump. Second, they just don't think the act is worthy of removal from office. 

Do you think I am wrong?

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


YLS '90: Jon Nuechterlein

On Wednesdays, I'm profiling my classmates from the Yale Law Class of 1990. It's simultaneously making me feel nostalgic and relatively unaccomplished!

Today we meet Jon Nuechterlein, one of the more remarkable people in our class (and that is saying something). He already made a cameo in this series, in the profile on Roger Leishman.

Jon was double-Yale, and one of the first people I met in law school, and we became fast friends-- in fact, during second year, we shared a house at 69 Edwards Street with Mike Schwartz.  There are... a lot of stories. We went to Brooklyn, and to Boston for the Head of the Charles races. We made the mistake of throwing a football around in the dining hall during lunch, something that might have been ok if I was good at catching. Which I'm not.  We also got thrown out of the Anchor Bar by Dee the waitress for playing quarters without asking the permission of the tables around us (a weird rule, you have to admit). This remains the only time I have ever been thrown out of a bar.

Through it all, Jon was a remarkable student. He helped me over and over to understand things that were slipping right by me in class. During a beach part in the first week of class he met fellow classmate Stephanie Marcus, who he later married (she deserves--and will get-- her own separate profile). He resisted our entreaties to come live at the beach in Madison during third year because he was an Articles Editor for the Law Journal and was going to be spending his time there-- typical of his dedication.

After graduating, Jon clerked for Judge Stephen Williams of the DC Circuit, and then for Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Then he worked for Sidley Austin, a big firm in DC, for three years. In 1995, he embarked on a five-year stint working for the Solicitor General, which included seven arguments before the US Supreme Court. After that, he spent a year as Deputy Counsel at the FCC and another dozen at the WilmerHale firm. That takes us to... about 2013. At that point he became the General Counsel at the Federal Trade Commission-- basically, the head lawyer at an agency of lawyers. Finally, in 2016 he came back to Sidley (which had ditched Austin by this point), where he remains today doing telecom law.

When he was named the 2019 DC Lawyer of the Year for Telecommunications law, he was described as "incredibly smart." Which is, pretty much, how he was described in the hallways back in 1988. Some things don't change.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


The Season

I love this time of year.

Ok... so I say that a lot. And it is fair to say that I love the change of seasons, so it is a good thing I live in Minnesota, where summer is hot and winter is cold and autumn is colorful and spring is welcome like no where else.

But this part of late autumn is especially dear to me. Christmas is held at bay-- if you try-- for a few more weeks, and the holiday that is coming has a certain purity. Thanksgiving has almost commercialism around it; it's all about eating a good meal with people you love and appreciating what is good. Sure, it can get gooped up with nationalism or religiosity, but its essence is hard to resist.

A good time for poetry, don't you think?

Monday, November 18, 2019


Star Wars! Nothing but... Starrrrrrrrr Wars!

Nice work on an unusual theme this week, haiku friends!

Amy, like me, started watching these things in the 70's, it seems:

That bar scene, weirdest
damn thing I'd ever seen at
seventeen! Loved it.

Christine did not, but she is catching up fast!:

I did not watch a
single Star Wars film until
two thousand eighteen

Now I have seen the
entire Star Wars series at
least three times or more

I find they are best
viewed chronologically
versus release year

But (as usual), the Medievalist gets it!

Creepy Darth Vader,
Bad ass light sabre dualist,
The Force is with him.

Sunday, November 17, 2019


Thoughts about Trump (other than impeachment and clemency)

I wrote some musings for the Waco Trib. You can read them here.


Sunday Reflection: The Benign Prerogative

Late on Friday afternoon last week-- just as other news on the impeachment hearings was breaking-- President Donald Trump announced that he was pardoning two US service members and restoring the rank of a third. Some of my thought were included in a NY Times piece on the grants (you can see that here), but I've got some additional musings on this development.

Perhaps the most objectionable of the grants to some commentators (including many associated with the military) was the full pardon of Major Matthew Golsteyn of the Army's Special Forces. Golsteyn was not yet tried on charges that he had killed an unarmed civilian in Afghanistan in 2010. The charge was for premeditated murder-- the most serious charge in any criminal code. It is legal for the President to pardon someone before they are tried, of course-- most prominently, President Ford pardoned President Nixon before he was charged with a crime. 

One of the things that makes me sad is that it is another manifestation of the two-lane clemency process employed by the Trump administration. In one lane are people like Golsteyn, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Dinesh D'Souza and others, whose case are promoted by right-wing media (most prominently, Fox News). The second lane contains the 14,000-some people who did the hard work of filing clemency petitions through the Pardon Attorney and following the rules. In that lane are elderly people seeking pardons for minor offenses and some of my clients who sold marijuana in states where it is legal. Right now, only the Fox News lane is operational. Orange barrels block the other as thousands wait.

The other is this: I do believe that, as Hamilton put it, clemency is a "benign prerogative." I think what he meant by that is that even when used badly, what clemency does is grant mercy to those we may think are unworthy. In other words, it takes nothing away from anyone as it grants liberty.

My fear is that grants like Golsteyn's will undermine the legitimacy of the idea of clemency. It is a noble thing, and ancient. But right now, it is out of balance so long as a single news outlet plays a large role in determining how it is used. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019


The theory that never dies....

Friday, November 15, 2019


Haiku Friday: Star Wars

Next month, the very last Star Wars movie comes out. It's titled "The Rise of Skywalker." For those of you following along at home, the movies came out over the course of four decades is series of three. First came what ended up being episodes 4, 5 & 6. They were followed by episodes 1, 2 &3, depicting events that supposedly took place before those in the first trio. Finally, we got episodes 7, 8 & (soon) 9, which take places after the events in the first 6 movies. It is all kind of confusing.

Anyways, even if you haven't see the movies, you have had to live with people who are obsessed with them. So, we can all haiku about this!

Here, I will go first:

Please remember, guys:
A Wookie is not a pet, but
An ace co-pilot.

Now it is your turn! Just used the 5/7/5 syllable pattern and have some fun!

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Political Mayhem Thursday: Klobuchar is looking better each month

It's no secret that I have been a supporter of Sen. Amy Klobuchar's run for President. In fact, I was supporter even before she entered the race (as evidenced by this piece in The Hill)  and tried to encourage her here and there along the way. I even was standing in the snow for her wintry announcement of her candidacy in Minneapolis.

While Klobuchar is currently running about fifth or sixth (behind Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, and Biden), she is in a good position. She has qualified both for the debates next week and those in December, which present a great opportunity-- a smaller group and the chance to make gains as she did in the last debate.

As people take a closer look at the race, I think she will pick up support. There are a lot of people who thing Warren and Sanders are too far left, that Biden is unfocused, and that Buttigieg is too young (all arguable assertions, but very real perceptions). Klobuchar is none of those things, and offers real positives: she is experienced in government, realistic, smart, and able to step into the job with the ability to talk across the aisle. She also has a track record of winning in the kinds of places a Democrat will need to prevail. The map above, for example, shows the counties in Minnesota that voted for Trump in 2016... and also for her in 2018. It's impressive.

A lot is going to happen between now and the Democratic convention. Don't be surprised if Klobuchar is still around then.

If a Democrat is to prevail

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


YLS '90: Nancy Kestenbaum

On Wednesdays, I have been profiling my classmates in the Yale Law class of 1990. It has been such a revelation-- to find out the remarkable things they all have been doing.

Nancy Kestenbaum came to Yale after undergrad at Penn and a few years of work-- during the two years that I was goofing around as a process server in Detroit, she was doing serious work as an analyst for the Department of Energy.

At school, Nancy was a star among the group of geniuses, strivers and misfits that found themselves in that small, ferocious pool. She was smart and prepared and insightful in class and out of it-- which mattered, since a lot of our intellectual discourse was out in the hallways or the dining hall or the courtyard (or, occasionally, the Anchor Bar). She had something else, too that made her stand out: she was a caring, conscientious person, a good listener, who had a reassuring smile for some of us where a little rougher around the edges. It seemed certain that she would do great and good things.

And she has.

Like many others in our class who followed the same three-step pattern (including me, Rich Sullivan, Mike Schwartz, Jeb Boasberg, Vernon Grigg, Jim Brochin and others), Nancy clerked for a judge (in her case, the legendary Kimba Wood), worked for a firm, and then shifted to being a prosecutor. With Rich Sullivan and my late (and much missed) friend Katherine Baird Darmer, she worked as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York. By all accounts, she was an excellent prosecutor, and rose to become the head of the general crimes unit-- a job that involves training new lawyers in the office and managing the disasters they can create.

From there, she moved on to the Covington firm in New York, where her talent shone through again. She was a member of the firm's management committee, and is now the co-chair of their White Collar Defense and Investigations group. Her work sounds fascinating. Among other cases, she was retained by CBS to conduct an outside investigation into their own CEO, Les Moonves. She also worked on a clemency case during the Obama initiative, among other pro bono projects.

Sorting though some of Nancy's work, I came upon this quote, which is just right:

I learned so much from my classmates. They were so smart and excited to be at YLS and to participate in what it offered. YLS fosters an atmosphere where people can engage and push themselves, but not feel as much pressure as they otherwise might. When I first entered law school, (now Second Circuit Judge) Guido Calabresi was Dean and he gave a famous speech during first-year orientation about “stepping off the treadmill.” My classmates and I took that advice to heart—we took risks and had fun.

I think it is still true of many of us: we are taking risks and having fun.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


Minor Notes

Once again, I'm going to recommend going over to my Dad's blog and reading his reflections today. You can link to that here.

He covers a lot of ground. Eventually, he gets around to talking about the Famous Coachman, my favorite radio personality in Detroit, who had an overnight blues show (and a little record shop). His show was awesome, especially the awkward 6 AM handoff to "Parenting Journal," after the Coachman had been up all night.  And he describes Representative John Conyers, who was a jazz fan. My dad's portrait of Conyers is above. I'll never forget walking through the Eastern Market with my dad and seeing the two of them talking and laughing-- mostly laughing.

But mostly, he talks about the Good Blues, which often gets to me this time of year. (I described it before here). He talked about it this way:

Jazz got embedded under my skin not because it made me joyously tap my foot to the beat. It was the jazz played in a minor key that made a shy teenager know that it was OK to have the blues. In high school I would sneak out with a friend and go to Klein’s Show Bar to catch the after hours jam where local and national jazz musicians would do battle over who had the greatest hurt and soul. They wailed and pleaded, the sounds were so sweet and powerful that they chased all the teenage angst from my body. Jazz in a minor key can be a bittersweet remedy for a broken spirit.

I had some of that yesterday. I spent a lot of my day working on a pro bono case (well, all of my cases are pro bono; I'm a pro bono lawyer) and it was getting me down. My client is a guy who was serving a very long term for a very small amount of crack. He was an intended beneficiary of the First Step Act, which made changes to the crack laws retroactive. However, his judge in the Eastern District of Kentucky never gave him the chance to petition for it-- he pre-emptively denied my client any relief before he had even submitted a petition! The judge was wrong on the law, and wrong on the procedure. Federal courts across the country have granted people just like my client a break under the First Step Act.

So, I was a little down as I worked. How can our system of justice be so cruel and wrong so often?

Then I got an email from my dad with a link to his blog, and saw the picture of John Conyers, and laughed as I remembered the day in the Eastern Market, and felt the Good Blues. It is a place of meaning and value. I am lucky to have them as the leaves turn brown and the wind picks up and a morning with my dad at the Eastern Market or an evening at a warm jazz club seems like a pretty good idea.

Monday, November 11, 2019


How does that work???

I gotta say thanks to everyone who has offered haiku: there have been some great poems lately. This week, people took on the subject of mysterious processes with gusto!

We had this from the Medievalist (who should know that St. Peter MN saw its first snow yesterday:

Combustion engine,
I put gas in the tank and
"Check Engine" appears.

And more brilliance from Jill Scoggins:

Stem cells taken from
patient, processed, put back in.
This cures some cancers!

IPLawGuy, as usual, is on my wavelength:

"Color" is not real
light refracting on surface
Whoa! Mind still gets blown.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


Sunday Reflection: All that I do not know

There was a long time that I thought that wisdom came from knowing a lot of things. Then I got to know some people with actual wisdom-- or maybe I came to recognize the wisdom in the people who had always been around me.

Knowing a lot of things is expertise, and that is important. We need expertise at the center of significant societal functions, like international relations and heart surgery.  I hope that I have expertise in those few areas I focus on (though I fall short on that sometimes).

That said, I have stopped confusing expertise with wisdom. Expertise has to do with the accumulation of facts, while wisdom has to do with how you see the world and those around you. I have found wisdom in people with little education, and I have found people with lots of education with little wisdom. One thing I have seen in common among those who seem to have wisdom is that they recognize what they do not know, and they listen more than they talk.

I know about the disputed provenance of John 8, where Jesus comes on the stoning of the adulteress and stops it (some scholars believe it was added to the gospel some 400 years after the time of Christ). Still, there is so much in that story, all of which vibrates with the same consistency as the rest of the gospels. Jesus is quiet much of the time, watching and listening. He draws something in the dirt, twice, and we don't even know what he writes. And, yes, he acts-- wisdom does lead to action. Timidity does not sit well with wisdom. And humility is no bar to making things right.

I'm not there; I'm not one of those I have come to admire. But I am learning to see better, to learn from those I admire, and to listen more. 

Saturday, November 09, 2019


The billionaires are worried

It seems that America's billionaires are genuinely worried about the tax plans being proposed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. There has been all kinds of hand-wringing, and now Michael Bloomberg seems prepared to jump into the race. Of course, he will be the second billionaire involved on the Dem side, after Tom Steyer.

Here is a little insight into him:

Friday, November 08, 2019


Haiku Friday: How does that work?

There are so many things I don't understand: Most of the sciences, languages, music, cricket, the respiratory system, etc. etc. etc. Let's haiku about that this week!

Here, I will go first:

I watch them build it:
A skyscraper from a hole
And it doesn't fall!

Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable formula, and have some fun!

Thursday, November 07, 2019


PMT: The Most Local Election

I always vote. This week, I literally ran to the polls-- I combined a little run with my voting. The only thing on the ballot was a school board election, but those can be pretty important in a town like Edina, which cares a lot about its public schools.

There were three slots open for the school board. Three conservatives-- Sarah Patzloff, LInda Friede, and Lou Nanne-- ran as a bloc, sending out flyers together and grouping their signs. Patzloff was an incumbent. Running against them were three others (plus one guy who didn't seem to realize he had entered the race): Janie Shaw, Julie Greene and Leny Wallen-Friedman. I'll call the first group Bloc 1 and the second group Bloc 2.

Bloc 1 seemed led by Patzloff, who admirably committed to not attacking her opponents, and lived up to that pledge. I was troubled by her platform, though, which seemed to lean heavily on fears that the quality of the schools were being undermined by liberals who were too focused on serving minorities and poorer kids. I disagree with that on several levels, but one problem is that there isn't much evidence that the quality of the schools is going down even as they make appropriate efforts to better serve all of the kids. Patzloff received support from an entity here called the "Center of the American Experiment," which presents itself pretty typically in this article about an earlier dispute involving Patzloff. I suspect that Patzloff herself-- and certainly the other two candidates in Bloc 1-- are more concerned about kids and less about ideology that the people at the Center of the American Experiment.

In the end, Bloc 2 won all three seats. I don't think a larger lesson should be taken from this, other than that what Bloc 1 stood on to support their views didn't appeal to enough people. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019


YLS '90: Jeb Boasberg

I'm devoting Wednesdays to profiling my classmates in the Yale Law class of 1990.

James E. Boasberg (who was known, at least in law school, as "Jeb") came to Yale Law from four years at Yale College and a few more at Oxford. He was one fo the "Tall Boys" who shared a house for a few years and were generally a friendly lot.

Jeb was from DC, but clerked in the 9th Circuit and relocated to San Francisco for a while after law school before DC pulled him back. After stints at a couple of big firms, before spending time as an Assistant US Attorney there. (Interestingly, he was a federal prosecutor at the same time as me and previously profiled classmates Mike Schwartz and Rich Sullivan).

After five years of prosecuting, he became a Superior Court judge in DC and then was unanimously confirmed to the District Court there in 2010, having been picked for the job by President Obama.

As a judge, Jeb has a reputation for being smart and fair (good qualities for a judge!). He also serves on the FISA court, which issues warrants in national security cases. While some of his rulings (releasing Hillary Clinton's emails, not releasing Donald Trump's taxes) have been wins for conservative groups, others (ie, striking down work requirements for Medicaid recipients) have gone the other way.

In school, he always kind of looked like a judge. He still does.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019


Stuff to read!

My piece on the Brendan Dassey case is now up at CNN-- you can read it here (and I hope that you will!).

And if that isn't enough reading for you today, I really recommend checking out my dad's blog. Today, he is talking about a lot of things-- including photographer Robert Frank and musician Eubie Blake. You can take it all in here.

Monday, November 04, 2019


A bumper crop of Halloween Haiku!


We got a beauty from Holly Collison-- I was so glad to see her here, and loved this one:

Humongous lobster
Knocked on the door with his kid
Halloween dad win!

Christine maybe lives in a haunted forest:

The woods are scary
In the dark of the night, no
one dares to enter


I buy some candy
just in case someone shows up
More Reese's for me

IPLawGuy does not:

Kids took a new route
Had to miss house with chili
and beer for adults

Jill Scoggins went all-in!:

My dog's bee costume
was a hit: Kids loved the stinger
on his little butt!

And Susan Stabile had a lack of action:

It made me so sad:
Only six trick-or-treaters.
Lots of candy left.

Sunday, November 03, 2019


Sunday Reflection: Closed on Sunday

This morning at 9:30, I'll be giving the sermon at 1st Covenant Church in Minneapolis. If you can, please come! The text is from the start of Genesis 2:

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

I'm beginning with the video above. It makes the point I start from: that the Sabbath means something, and it should be different than the other days.

But there is a lot more to it. After all, every time Jesus was confronted about the Sabbath, it was because he was breaking the rules to help others. There is something to that-- we usually think about the Sabbath as being about ourselves (self-care), but that's not the whole message from the Gospels.

Yeah, there is a lot more...

Saturday, November 02, 2019



A lot happened to me in 1993. One thing was that I was up late watching the Conan show, and saw this performance by the Breeders. I don't think I had heard of them, and this song blew me away. It's not even a very good version of the song-- Kelley Deal breaks a string at about 1:53 and can't play a lot of the song after that (and yes, the band features twins). But they made the best of it...

Friday, November 01, 2019


Haiku Friday: All Hallows Eve!

I hope everyone had a great Halloween! There are a lot of little kids in my neighborhood, and there were some great costumes. Let's haiku about that this week. Here, I will go first:

Odd combination:
Buzz Lightyear runs with Eyeore
Everyone gets treats.

Now it is your turn! Feel free to haiku about any aspect of your halloween. Just use the 5/7/5 syllable formula and have some fun!

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