Pixar v. Disney Bracket

Today, @smjxmj posted a Pixar v. Disney bracket on Twitter. It’s a great idea, but I thought the seeding structure was way off, and his results were mostly off. (His championship was Monsters Inc over Mulan. All-time great movies like Frozen and Moana faced off early. It also wasn’t clear who was a #2 seed, etc.) So I suggested seeding in an objective way, based on gross box office, rather than seeding by subjective quality. I thought this would set up some interesting quantity (of cash) vs. quality match-ups.

With my friend Josh Tate’s help (fellow legal historian with more twitter-ological chops than I have), you can vote on our brackets on Twitter! Find at @jedshug and @JCTate1215 to vote on Twitter polls.

Based on a little research, here are the seedings on the Pixar side, adjusted for inflation.

  1. Finding Nemo
  2. Dory
  3. Toy Story 3
  4. Toy Story 2
  5. Monsters Inc
  6. Coco
  7. Toy Story
  8. Inside Out
  9. Incredibles
  10. Up
  11. Cars
  12. Monsters U.
  13. Bug’s Life
  14. Wall-E
  15. Ratatouille
  16. Brave

Continue reading “Pixar v. Disney Bracket”

Princeton’s Politics and Polls Podcast

I was happy to speak with Sam Wang on Princeton’s Politics & Polls Podcast on Trump, Russia and Mueller. I had a chance to talk about Manafort/Gates, Flynn, Kushner/Qatar/Rosneft, the law of conspiracy, pardons, quo warranto, etc. I noted to Sam that one indication that Trump takes Mueller’s investigation seriously is that he had never referred to Mueller by name, by Twitter or otherwise. This podcast was recorded before Trump went after Mueller last weekend by name after McCabe was fired, which seems to signal an escalation of tensions.

The Fiduciary Executive: Sessions and Trump cannot fire Mueller

Here’s the second installment in my series with my friend and colleague Ethan Leib on the fiduciary limits on the executive branch, in Slate this week. Sessions should not be able to fire McCabe, and nor should he or Trump be able to fire Mueller, because of the fiduciary obligation under the Constitution and their oath of office to “faithfully execute” the law.

Here’s the legal procedural pay-off:

“American courts have given the language of “faithful execution” in the context of public officials enforceable meaning in past precedents, binding public officials to good faith and loyalty. For example, one case in federal court has held poultry inspectors at the Department of Agriculture to have enforceable public fiduciary obligations to the United States; another has held a former CIA agent to a fiduciary duty of confidentiality. It could be possible for Mueller to seek an injunction from a federal court based on these arguments to block his firing from any official acting for self-protection against the public interest.”

Hypocrisy alert: the death penalty

1. is calling for the execution of drug dealers.

2. Russian organized crime engages in drug trafficking.

3. Has Trump considered whether someone who launders money for Russian mobsters through NY real estate might be considered a kind of drug dealer/trafficker?

(Just to be clear, I am 100% opposed to the death penalty. I’m just noting the potentially glaring hypocrisy, similar to his hypocrisy about due process and the Central Park 5 he wanted to execute.)

Pardons, Firings, and the Faithful President 

The President “shall take Care that the Laws be *faithfully* executed.” This constitutional text historically imposes fiduciary duties of care and loyalty against self-dealing pardons or self-protecting firings, as my friend and colleague Ethan Leib and I argue in The Washington Post:


Odd predictions for 2018

  1. All four Boston teams make it to the finals and lose all four. ( over , or over , or over … unlikely get past , as long as it’s not .

2. Netanyahu leaves office in 2018, but Trump hangs on. I can accept that… as long as…

3. The Democrats take 52 seats in the Senate, and win a comfortable majority in the House. Beto O’Rourke knocks off Ted Cruz. Maybe Bredesen defeats the odious Blackburn in Tennessee, and Democrats sweep the red state incumbents plus Nevada and Arizona.

4. More indictments, more guilty pleas turning into more cooperating witnesses. I’m avoiding specifics.

Kushner, Confirming the Dossier details, and Qatar’s Quid for Russian Quo

My new Slate piece: I connect the dots between the Kushner scandals this week and the Steele Dossier’s details of quid pro quo. Qatar may be the middleman between Putin and Trump, through Qatar’s purchase of Rosneft from Russia, and a Qatar-backed firm delivering a massive loan to Kushner. In between, Kushner manipulated a Gulf State crisis, allegedly to coerce the loan completion at the risk of a regional armed conflict. Details here: 


Executive summary: “Russia’s sale of Rosneft Gas is the key event in the Steele Dossier’s quid pro quo allegation. June 2016: Russians offer Trumpers (through Carter Page) a massive payout in return for lifting sanctions. Qatari firm acquires Rosneft from Russia [Dec ‘16]. Kushner seeks money directly from Qatar. But Qatar does not deliver to Kushner. Kushner creates a crisis vs. Qatar w/ risk of war. Then the Qatar-backed Apollo Group delivers $184 million to Kushner.

Additional note:

A colleague pointed out that the 19.5% in both the dossier’s Russia/Carter Page deal and the Qatar Dec.9 deal makes sense, because there is probably  a 20% legal threshold rule for reporting financing and investors. These deals are under that 20% threshold because the dealmakers seem to be unusually focused on secrecy and evading regulators and prosecutors.