Author Archives: Joe Hodnicki

Meet America’s 10 largest gunmakers

In Fully Loaded: Inside the Shadowy World of America’s 10 Biggest Gunmakers Mother Jones set out to break through the opacity surrounding the $8 billion firearms industry and the men who control it. Interesting. — Joe

Manafort and Gates: Mueller’s new 32-count indictment (text)

Paul J. Manafort, Jr., of Alexandria, Va., and Richard W. Gates III, of Richmond, Va., were indicted by a federal grand jury on Feb. 22, 2018, in the Eastern District of Virginia. The indictment contains 32 counts: 16 counts related to false individual income tax returns, seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, five counts of bank fraud conspiracy, and four counts of bank fraud. Text of the indictment in U.S. v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., and Richard W. Gates III (1:18-cr-83, Eastern District of Virginia). — Joe

A description of AR-15 injuries by a radiologist who attended to Parkland shooting victims

“I have seen a handful of AR-15 injuries in my career. I saw one from a man shot in the back by a SWAT team years ago. The injury along the path of the bullet from an AR-15 is vastly different from a low-velocity handgun injury. The bullet from an AR-15 passes through the body like a cigarette boat travelling at maximum speed through a tiny canal. The tissue next to the bullet is elastic—moving away from the bullet like waves of water displaced by the boat—and then returns and settles back. This process is called cavitation; it leaves the displaced tissue damaged or killed. The high-velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.” — Heather Sher, What I Saw Treating the Victims From Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns, The Atlantic.

Recommended. — Joe

Weekend reading: One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported

Here’s the blurb for One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported (St. Martin’s Press, Sept. 19, 2017) by E.J. Dionne Jr., Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann:

American democracy was never supposed to give the nation a president like Donald Trump. We have never had a president who gave rise to such widespread alarm about his lack of commitment to the institutions of self-government, to the norms democracy requires, and to the need for basic knowledge about how government works. We have never had a president who raises profound questions about his basic competence and his psychological capacity to take on the most challenging political office in the world.

Yet if Trump is both a threat to our democracy and a product of its weaknesses, the citizen activism he has inspired is the antidote. The reaction to the crisis created by Trump’s presidency can provide the foundation for an era of democratic renewal and vindicate our long experiment in self-rule.

The award-winning authors of One Nation After Trump explain Trump’s rise and the danger his administration poses to our free institutions. They also offer encouragement to the millions of Americans now experiencing a new sense of citizenship and engagement and argue that our nation needs a unifying alternative to Trump’s dark and divisive brand of politics―an alternative rooted in a New Economy, a New Patriotism, a New Civil Society, and a New Democracy. One Nation After Trump is the essential book for our era, an unsparing assessment of the perils facing the United States and an inspiring roadmap for how we can reclaim the future.

— Joe

On the malicious use of artificial intelligence

The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation (Feb. 2018) “surveys the landscape of potential security threats from malicious uses of artificial intelligence technologies, and proposes ways to better forecast, prevent, and mitigate these threats. We analyze, but do not conclusively resolve, the question of what the long-term equilibrium between attackers and defenders will be. We focus instead on what sorts of attacks we are likely to see soon if adequate defenses are not developed.” — Joe

A citizen’s guide to the limits of presidential power

From the blurb for The Limits of Presidential Power: A Citizen’s Guide to the Law (Manheim & Watts, Jan. 11, 2018) by Lisa Manheim and Kathryn Watts:

This one-of-a-kind guide provides a crash course in the laws governing the President of the United States. In engaging and accessible prose, two law professors explain the principles that inform everything from President Washington’s disagreements with Congress to President Trump’s struggles with the courts, and more. Timely and to the point, this guide provides the essential information every informed civic participant needs to know about the laws that govern the president–and what those laws mean for those who want to make their voices heard.

— Joe

The Legal Toolkit podcast: Legal print isn’t dying, just changing

“Is using paper out of style? There are a lot of advantages to making things digital but that doesn’t have to make paper obsolete. In this episode of the Legal Toolkit, host Jared Correia talks to Ed Walters [CEO of Fastcase] about the role of print mediums in law. They reexamine when to use paper versus digital mediums; both printed paper and digital copies have their own quality and characteristics that are useful in different cases. Ed also nerds out about font and classic printing methods, which is useful if you want to make your printed documents beautiful.” Transcript and audio broadcast. — Joe

On the American Deep State

Here’s the abstract for Jon D. Michaels’ The American Deep State, 93 Notre Dame Law Review ___ (2018):

Given the mood of the nation, there is good reason to reject the very premise of an American deep state. This is especially true so long as the concept serves primarily as fodder for conspiracy-mongering and fuel for the domestic culture wars. Yet such a wholesale rejection of the “deep state” label comes at the expense of accuracy, nuance, and opportunity. In truth, we do have—and have long enjoyed—bureaucratic depth. And Donald Trump, more than any other president, has brought into relief its legal and political raisons d’être.

This Essay insists that the American deep state has very little in common with those regimes—think Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan—usually understood to harbor deep states; that, far from being shadowy or elitist, the American bureaucracy is very much a demotic institution, demographically diverse, highly accountable, and lacking financial or caste incentives to subvert popular will; that demotic depth of the American variety should be celebrated, not feared; and that, going forward, we need greater not lesser depth insofar as the American bureaucracy serves an important, salutary, and quite possibly necessary role safeguarding our constitutional commitments and enriching our public policies.

— Joe

How have your members of Congress voted on gun bills? [Chart]

NPR tracks and charts voting records of members of Congress for the following gun bills:

  • Brady Bill (1993, House and Senate): Enacted into law. Refers to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. Passed in 1993, the Brady bill established five-day waiting periods and required background checks for gun purchases.
  • Assault Weapons Ban (1994, House and Senate): Enacted into law, expired in 2004. This law banned people from making, selling or owning certain types of semiautomatic weapons.
  • Closing Gun Show Loophole (1999, House and Senate): Did not become law. This refers to separate measures in each chamber that would have (broadly speaking) required people purchasing guns at gun shows to undergo a background check and a three-day waiting period.
  • Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (2005, House and Senate): Enacted into law. This measure protects firearm manufacturers from being sued for crimes committed with the firearms they manufactured.
  • Concealed Carry Reciprocity (2011 and 2017, House; 2013, Senate): Did not become law. These bills would have allowed a person with a concealed-carry permit in one state to legally carry a concealed firearm in other states.
  • Manchin-Toomey Bill (2015, Senate): Did not become law. This bill would have required background checks for the purchase of guns at gun shows and online.
  • Murphy Amendment (2016, Senate): Did not become law. This measure would have expanded background checks to cover guns sold online and at gun shows.
  • Feinstein Amendment (2016, Senate): Did not become law. This measure would have barred people on terrorist watch lists from buying firearms.
  • Mental Health (2017, House and Senate): Enacted into law. This bill undid an Obama-era regulation that added some people with mental illnesses to the FBI’s background check database.

— Joe

Tracking Trump’s approval rating by state

On a daily basis, Morning Consult polls registered voters across the country what they think about President Trump. Every month the company releases those numbers to provide a detailed understanding of how Trump is viewed in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., benchmarked against previous results. To date, this project is based on more than 800,000 surveys. See the full methodology here, and explore the full polling results here.

H/T to beSpacific. — Joe

Election Security Act introduced with release of Congressional Task Force on Election Security’s final report

The Congressional Task Force on Election Security released its final report last week. Members of the task force introduced the Election Security Act, which requests increased funding for state and federal agencies to improve election security. — Joe

Using information literacy to become practice-ready for legal research and writing

Using Information Literacy to Prepare Practice-Ready Graduates by Ellie Margolis and Kristen Murray is “an attempt to find a new way to think about how to prepare law students to be ‘practice ready’ for the legal research and writing tasks they will face as they enter law practice, and how to equip them with the skills they need to communicate with older generations of lawyers while adapting to new and evolving technologies. In essence, recent law school graduates must be ambassadors of technology, simultaneously able to communicate with lawyers who may not be conversant in, or even understand, the new technologies taking over law practice and able to use those new technologies to be effective lawyers. This article traces the paths that led to the current state of technology in law practice, and discusses ways educators might rethink what it means to be ‘practice ready’ in this environment.” — Joe

On porn stars, cut-outs and the importance of legal ethics

Bernie Burk concludes More Adventures in Ethics, Now with Porn Stars: Trump Lawyer Seizes the Moral and Ethical Low Ground by Appearing to Claim He Committed Disciplinary Violations and Possibly Felonies, The Faculty Lounge, Feb. 15, 2018, with the following:

This story is not going away anytime soon. Cohen’s exceptionally implausible protestations make a protracted investigation more likely than ever. While this will create much rich and rewarding work for various professionals in New York and Washington, it’s no good for the profession at large. The only silver lining I see—and it’s mighty thin—is that all these events are the best reminder of the importance of legal ethics since Watergate.

Recommended for Burk’s detailed analysis of the transaction involving Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and the porn star known as Stormy Daniels. — Joe

Federal public health and safety policy implications for public mass shootings

From the CRS report Public Mass Shootings in the United States: Selected Implications for Federal Public Health and Safety Policy (April 16, 2013, R43004):

This report focuses on mass shootings and selected implications they have for federal policy in the areas of public health and safety. While such crimes most directly impact particular citizens in very specific communities, addressing these violent episodes involves officials at all levels of government and professionals from numerous disciplines.

— Joe

13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian entities indicted as part of the Mueller investigation (text)

The indictment charges Russians with gaming social media and taking actions in the US to meddle in the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton. Here’s the text of the indictment. — Joe

CRS on the federal government’s obligation to include countervailing information in FISA applications

From the CRS Legal Sidebar, HPSCI Memorandum Sparks Debate over FISA Application Requirements (February 14, 2018 LSB10076):

A central factual question that appears to be disputed by the competing memoranda [the declassifed Nunes memo and the still classified Schiff memo] is the degree to which information potentially undermining the FISA application’s reliability was omitted from the application. Although CRS is not in a position to answer that factual question, this Sidebar endeavors to explain the legal requirements regarding the government’s obligation to include countervailing information in FISA applications.

— Joe

RELX reports 2017 financial results for LexisNexis

With an adjusted operating margin of 19.2% and an underlying growth rate of 11%, RELX Group’s LexisNexis expects strong profit growth based on stable revenue for 2018. 83% of reported revenue comes from electronic and face-to-face. Print revenue continues to decline.

Source: RELX Group’s LexisNexis

Underlying revenue growth for Legal in 2017 was in line with the prior year, with continued efficiency gains driving strong underlying operating profit growth.

Underlying revenue growth was +2%. The difference between the reported and underlying growth rates reflects the impact of exchange rate movements and portfolio changes including the acquisition of Ravel Law, the disposal of several print and services assets, and the final exit from the Martindale Hubbell joint venture.

Underlying adjusted operating profit growth was +11%. The increase in operating profit margin reflects ongoing organic process improvement and decommissioning of systems which, together with currency movements, more than offset a lower profit contribution from joint ventures and other portfolio effects.

Electronic revenues saw continued growth, partially offset by print declines. The roll-out of new platform releases across our US and international markets continued, with broader datasets and the continued expansion of early stage legal analytics. The usage migration of US legal customers onto Lexis Advance is now substantially complete.

US and European markets remained stable. Other international markets continued to grow well.

2018 outlook: Trends in our major customer markets are unchanged, continuing to limit the scope for underlying revenue growth. We expect underlying profit growth to remain strong.

H/T to Gary Price’s InfoDocket. — Joe

Weekend reading: Stiglitz’s Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump

From the blurb for Joseph E. Stiglitz’s Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump (W. W. Norton & Company, Nov. 28, 2017):

In this crucial expansion and update of his landmark bestseller, renowned economist and Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz addresses globalization’s new discontents in the United States and Europe. Immediately upon publication, Globalization and Its Discontents became a touchstone in the globalization debate by demonstrating how the International Monetary Fund, other major institutions like the World Bank, and global trade agreements have often harmed the developing nations they are supposedly helping. Yet globalization today continues to be mismanaged, and now the harms―exemplified by the rampant inequality to which it has contributed―have come home to roost in the United States and the rest of the developed world as well, reflected in growing political unrest.

With a new introduction, major new chapters on the new discontents, the rise of Donald Trump, and the new protectionist movement, as well as a new afterword on the course of globalization since the book first appeared, Stiglitz’s powerful and prescient messages remain essential reading.

— Joe

Litigation records relating to Trump’s three travel ban executive orders

Lawfare’s Litigation Documents & Resources Related to Trump Executive Order on Immigration is an archive of court filings and related resources surrounding Trump’s three travel ban executive orders. — Joe

Mother Jones’s open-source US mass shootings dataset covers data from 1982 to the present

You can download the dataset in CSV, XLS, or TXT formats here. For an analysis see A Guide to Mass Shooting in America. — Joe