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April 05, 2012

Thursday Morning Odds and Ends

Over at Memeorandum there is much discussion of the First Constitutional Law Prof in Chief's latest legal gaffe. This got me thinking about all the media gushing about Candidate Obama's supposed legal expertise during the 2008 election. Back in 2010, I took a closer look at Obama's legal resume and noticed a curious pattern:

... as it turns out, Obama did precious little of note during his brief stint as an attorney:
"He was doing the work that any first-year or second-year associate would do," Miner said. "In litigation he was doing basic research and writing memos."

...Obama did not work long as a full-time attorney.

The law firm says he logged 3,723 billable hours during his tenure from 1993 to 2004, most of it during the four years between 1993 and 1996.

In 1995, the year his first book came out, Obama started his successful run for the Illinois state senate and stopped working full time once he took office in 1997.

Hmmm... let's see. Just as a rough tally, 3723/4 years equals about 930 billable hours a year.

For comparison purposes, the ABA's Model Law Firm Policy Regarding Billable Hours prescribes an average of 1900 billable hours per year. Over a four year period, a typical associate would rack up about 7,600 billable hours. Obama billed about half of that. But since we're applying a different standard to Obama, let's give him another chance.

Perhaps the type of work he did is somehow remarkable? A few excerpts from a Chicago Sun Times piece about Obama's legal career quickly dispel that notion too:

"He wrote lots of substantial memos, but he didn't try any cases," said Judson Miner, a partner in the firm who was Obama's boss.

A search of all the cases in Cook County Circuit Court in which Obama made an appearance since he graduated from Harvard in 1991 shows: Zero.

His practice was confined mainly to federal court in Chicago, where he made formal appearances in only five district court cases and another five in cases before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals -- a total of 10 cases in his legal career. He was on the winning side of just about all those cases. Miner said there were 30 cases to which Obama contributed in some way.

Ed Lasky took a look at Obama's time at the Harvard Law Review and his stint as a ConLaw lecturer and found the same pattern of underachievement:

One thing he did not do while at the review was publish his own work. The absence of a paper trail is a pattern throughout his academic and to some extent his political career.

The pattern of leaving no intellectual footprints pre-dates Harvard. He has claimed he lost his senior thesis from Columbia University, where he majored in political science. The thesis was on Soviet nuclear disarmament. The depth of knowledge on display in Barry Obama's undergraduate thesis is of particular interest because he was wrong about a crucial Kennedy-Khrushchev conference, and about the diplomatic history between America and the Soviets.

... Although he was president of the Harvard Law Review as a student, in which capacity he no doubt wrote some unsigned notes, a search of the HeinOnline database of law journals turns up exactly nothing credited to Obama in any law review anywhere at any time. This is yet more indication that his status as "lecturer" at Chicago was not a regular faculty appointment, since regular full-time faculty are expected to produce scholarship. Notwithstanding an apparent eleven-year teaching career in constitutional law at a top-flight law school, not one single article, published talk, book review, or comment of any kind, appears anywhere in the professional legal literature, under Barack Obama's name.

Perhaps if the press had paid more attention to Obama's unimpressive - and mostly part time - legal career, they would not have built him up to be some sort of legal expert whose statements regarding constitutional law should be taken seriously.


George Will on the drug war:

... suppose cocaine or heroin were legalized and marketed as cigarettes and alcohol are. And suppose the level of addiction were to replicate the 7 percent of adults suffering from alcohol abuse or dependency. That would be a public health disaster. As the late James Q. Wilson said, nicotine shortens life, cocaine debases it.

Still, because the costs of prohibition — interdiction, mass incarceration, etc. — are staggeringly high, some people say, “Let’s just try legalization for a while.” Society is not, however, like a controlled laboratory; in society, experiments that produce disappointing or unexpected results cannot be tidily reversed.

Legalized marijuana could be produced for much less than a tenth of its current price as an illegal commodity. Legalization of cocaine and heroin would cut their prices, too; they would sell for a tiny percentage of their current prices. And using high excise taxes to maintain cocaine and heroin prices at current levels would produce widespread tax evasion — and an illegal market.

Furthermore, legalization would mean drugs of reliable quality would be conveniently available from clean stores for customers not risking the stigma of breaking the law in furtive transactions with unsavory people. So there is no reason to think today’s levels of addiction are anywhere near the levels that would be reached under legalization.


spd, KJ, and Pile On are prohibited from commenting on this.


I know I made a few of you mad with my criticism of his financial dealings a while back, but honestly - how can a candidate seriously hold himself out as a leader who can solve America's financial problems if he can't even keep his own finances in order?

The federal government dwarfs even the largest business or non-profit in both size and complexity. At some point, it seems germane to a candidate's qualifications that he has actually demonstrated the ability to do the job we're being asked to hire him for.

Just sayin'.

The best way to show your best friend you love him (or her):

It is possible to take something beautiful and lasting out of the heart-wrenching experience of seeing the animal you love move inexorably toward death. Nobody can take the grief away, nor should anyone try, but our love for animals is nothing but a gift, and it keeps on giving, even when they go home.

A man named Harry, an Iraq war veteran and tennis coach from Minnesota, hit upon a simple and profound idea to transform this otherwise sad experience into a blessed one.

It was a gray morning when the vet told Harry that his dog Duke's heart was failing and that it wouldn't be long before he died. Harry was not surprised, but still, the news depressed him. Listening to the vet, Harry later told me, he'd gotten an idea, one he thought would pay tribute to his life with Duke and give him something to feel besides sadness and loss.
"Tomorrow, I'm going to give you a Perfect Day," he said quietly to Duke as they left the vet's office. He would take the day off from work and create a sweet memory with his dog. It would be a special day, filled with all the things Duke loved most, as close to perfect as Harry could make it. He would take his Canon PowerShot along to capture some images of the day, to preserve the memories.

Of the many regrets I've amassed during my mostly misspent life, one of the biggest will always be that I didn't do this with Sausage while there was still time. Surprising that it still bothers me so much.

Luckily, dogs are made of love. He had a big heart for such a little guy.

Update: Welcome,

Posted by Cassandra at April 5, 2012 06:56 AM

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Incroyable! Shirley, the Blog Princess simply overlooked this in her search for meaning and clarity.

Posted by: DL Sly at April 5, 2012 03:06 PM

"Tomorrow, I'm going to give you a Perfect Day,"

I think I might want to ask my wife what she would consider a perfect day, as well.

Posted by: Pogue at April 5, 2012 03:14 PM

I think I might want to ask my wife what she would consider a perfect day....

Careful. She'll wonder what you're trying to cover up.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at April 5, 2012 03:52 PM

I have only one real thought about Obama's comment on the Supreme Court case.

When Bush was in office I often wondered, what the heck kind of goofy word is that?

With Obama I am often left wondering, what kind of goofy idea is that?

Posted by: Allen at April 5, 2012 04:08 PM

Shirley, the Blog Princess simply overlooked this in her search for meaning and clarity.

Actually I did see it, but I'm slammed at work this week :p

Posted by: Ghost of Knut, the Adorably Psychotic Gay Teen Bear at April 5, 2012 05:03 PM

I think I might want to ask my wife what she would consider a perfect day, as well.

You guys have no idea (or maybe you do - what do I know?) how much it means to a wife when the love of her life does something that reminds her of when they were dating.

For our anniversary, the spousal unit took me to Baltimore for the weekend. We had been talking about going to Arizona or maybe Colonial Williamsburg (he is a Wm&Mary grad and we lived there right after we got married). In the end, we were both just so tired from work that we thought it would be more relaxing not to have to travel.

I had so much fun. We did not do anything all that exciting - it rained and we walked all around the inner harbor. We went to an art museum (which was tons more fun that I had anticipated) and took in a show for our anniversary. But the fact that he planned it for me...

Let's just say that it was a big deal.

It is so easy to take what we have for granted, especially when you've been married since the Cenozoic Era. I didn't want a big fuss. All I cared about was spending quality time with him. It is kind of amazing how just having some unstructured time can make you feel like a kid again.

So yeah - do it. Years ago when my kids were just toddlers, I did home day care. My one FT charge was an adorable 9 month old baby girl. Her mom lived up the street from me and her Dad was a 1st Sgt. who was close to retiring.

During their final year, he got orders to Georgia. She opted to stay b/c she had a great job and they were saving for retirement and a home. It all seemed so logical - guys deploy and women wait for them and tomorrow will always be there.

Long story short, about 1 month after he retired and they were reunited, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.


We had moved to soCal. I talked to her on the phone several times during her illness. She lost her battle with cancer. During the most heart wrenching (and last) of our conversations, she said, "What bothers me most is that we spent an entire precious year apart when there was no real need. What I wouldn't give to have that year now..."

That really resonated with me because a few years after my father in law's retirement (30 years in the Navy) he was diagnosed with cancer. They had spent so many years apart and put off living for the ubiquitous "Some day" all military families assume will always be there.

Sometimes it's not. Your wife is a very lucky lady, Allen.

Posted by: Ghost of Knut, the Adorably Psychotic Gay Teen Bear at April 5, 2012 05:18 PM

I'm sorry, I know that I'm not supposed to say anything about sahhh...sahhh...cukkk...cuh... kickball, but don't you think that those cute bubble-things would be a great idea for this team? Unprotected bumbling kills untold millions every single day.

Posted by: spd rdr at April 5, 2012 05:52 PM

I'm sorry, I know that I'm not supposed to say anything about sahhh...sahhh...cukkk...cuh... kickball,

Liar, liar pants on fire :)

don't you think that those cute bubble-things would be a great idea for this team?

Come to think of it, they might cause less harm that way...

Posted by: Ghost of Knut, the Adorably Psychotic Gay Teen Bear at April 5, 2012 06:52 PM

A perfect day?

To find you have reserved seats just down the baseline, on a perfect summer afternoon, watching your heroes play the game, and remember what it was like when you were young.

But those days are gone forever,
over a long time ago,
oh yeah.....

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at April 6, 2012 01:27 PM

Steely Dan? :)

Posted by: Cassandra at April 6, 2012 03:15 PM

Steely Don!

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at April 6, 2012 04:22 PM