Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I have a wish. It's not, like, my big overriding ultimate wish in this world or anything, but just a little wish. A wishlet, if you will. Here it is: I wish that people would stop eating noisy food in class. Noisy food means anything I can hear. So, it could be chips, pretzels, almonds -- but it can also be a croissant, if you are a nasty loud chewer. Which I experienced in class today, I might add.

I mean - I get as hungry as the next person, but we have ten minute breaks during all our two-hour-plus classes. If you want to eat chips, eat them on the break. When you are next to someone trying to listen to a lecture, the sound of your chip chewing is magnified way beyond what you think it is. I think almonds are even worse than chips. Or any of the small foods that aren't crispy. Where people secret them in their mouths and then you can just kind of hear that gnawing. UGH. This is an absolute rule: if you are not silent, do not eat in class.

That is my wish.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A certain Senator demagogue ...

"What all his critics fail to admit is that he has enormous charm and sex appeal and a characteristic man's man way of talking which dominates everyone around him, so that to a person ignorant of politics, he would seem just wonderful. The result is that it's truly terrifying to watch him work, because you wonder how can this man be stopped? Yet, on the other hand it's possibly not as bad as it seems, for I think a lot of his support is not active enthusiasm for his ideas, methods, etc., but simply the response of ignorant people to his vast and clever charm. The hope there is that when all the showdowns come, his minions may be startled to discover the ideas behind this guy they think is so great. The hope, I believe, is that he remains a reactionary. Just let him pick up a social program, and he'll be dictator, because as a demagogue he is really extraordinary. Even hating him, you have to admire him because he's so good at what he does."
--Norman Mailer, on McCarthy, in 1954

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why John McCain is not in charge of your abortion

Democrats infuriate me sometimes. Republicans do too of course (and more often, to be sure) but today let's focus on the Democrats. One of their unyielding tactics in this so-called culture war of an election is to FREAK OUT at the very notion of casting a vote for McCain because -- and I variously quote -- the ticket is "scary," "an affront to women," and "a slap in the face," and it has "remobilized the religious right."

Let's cut through all the crap. Democrats are using abortion as a wedge issue. Now, this is a really hypocritical thing for Democrats to do, because they famously criticize Republicans for using abortion as a wedge issue. The thinking seems to be, when the Karl Roves of the world mobilize (or "re-mobilize") their base by getting voters out to the polls in all-out-effort to affect abortion policy, that's bad, but apparently when Democrats want to affect abortion policy it is not only OK but it is "crucial!" and "essential!" and "why aren't you terrified?!" to insist that I absolutely, positively must vote for Obama or else McCain is going to take away any power I will ever have to make a choice ever again.

I would say that is "extreme."

It is also misguided, particularly when directed at me, because abortion is not, never has been, and I doubt ever will be my wedge issue. So you're not gaining my vote that way.

But here's the catch: it doesn't MATTER. Let me explain. After all, I've spent $100,000 on this legal education so I might as well put it to good use. The president is not in charge of abortion!

I know what you're going to say, because every foaming-at-the-mouth Obama supporter has already said it to me (and a few of the calm ones have, too): "But the president appoints Supreme Court justices, so (s)he really DOES have the power to overturn Roe v. Wade." Listen carefully:

If McCain got elected, and IF a Supreme Court justice or two died/retired/got sick of the lot of us and fled the country, and even IF McCain's goal was to use a litmus test to select a justice (which it is NOT, but even IF it were), and even IF that litmus test were whether the potential justice thought Roe v. Wade was a flawed decision (which, by the way, a lot of legal scholars agree is true, regardless of their politics), and even IF he nominated someone bound and determined to "end abortion now!" and even IF this person got confirmed by the Senate, and even IF within the next few years all this happened AND a case questioning a law restricting abortion made its way up the court system, and even IF the Supreme Court granted certiorari and even IF the law in question were worded in such a way that in ruling on it Roe v. Wade was overturned in its entirety, and even IF we were suddenly to find ourselves in a Roe v. Wade-less world, you know what would happen next?

At first, nothing. Because the issue would be kicked back to the states! Then, each state legislature would enact the abortion legislation or lack thereof that it saw fit. That is how this country works. Now, let's see, show of hands: who thinks that each state is going to immediately reenact exactly whichever abortion-restricting law was on the books in 1970? Who among you really thinks the last forty years haven't affected the popular consensus/majority will on this issue, let alone who is actually IN the state legislature now to legislate? (Some of whom were probably BORN around the time of Roe v Wade.) What if I were to remind you that early Supreme Court cases about the right to privacy included the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut, which invalidated a Connecticut law that prohibited contraceptives, and the follow-up Eisenstadt v Baird in 1972, which invalidated a Massachusetts law that prohibited contraceptives for unmarried couples? Yeah, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Birth control. Forty years of social change, people.

So if you really want to have a say in abortion laws, you should be talking to your state legislators. Perhaps you can start by finding out who they are.

Friday, October 17, 2008

October shirking

Aaaaaah, and there I was promising to keep up with the blogging during October. Oops. Well, now that we're through the debate perhaps it will be a bit easier. That took a bit of time and a lot of mental space. I volunteered as a media production assistant with the thousands (seriously) of credentialed journalists and broadcast engineers who overtook two giant parking lots outside the arena at Hofstra where the debate was held on Wednesday. Only about two of the student volunteers came from the law school, of course, so over the days of set-up plus all day on the day of I had the privilege of spending hours and hours with undergrads.

Undergrads are all right. I must say that having the debate at Hofstra appears to have inspired them and I have seen qualities such as intelligence, activism, passion, spirit, pride, engagement, and so forth on display in the past week. It's like a whole new Hofstra experience. I'm really proud of my school and how they pulled it off. I think it was a good investment (of millions) to have a debate here and totally worth it. Woot! But back to the 18-year-olds. Good god. Did I really used to sound like that? I imagine I did.

Some are more thoughtful than others; some are more annoying than others. They think they have decided their majors, they think they know what they want to do with their lives, and they think that the former actually matters with respect to the latter. They have all kinds of untested ideas about the world. They think they have a lot of work to do for their classes. (Spare me.) They can't legally drink yet. It is just plain weird to hang out with them.

But the weirdest thing about hanging out with them, apart from the minority who are seniors and actually, say, 21 or 22, is thinking about how FREAKIN' YOUNG they were when Dubya originally usurped the White House. Hello, a lot of them were 12 years old. Or 11. Or TEN! They were not teenagers. Let me repeat this, for full and proper effect: they were 'tweens when the Supreme Court handed the White House to George W. Bush. Their entire lives as thinking people with any chance at legal capacity, or people who have, say, gone through puberty has been with that monster as the so-called "leader" of this land.

Well for Christ's sakes, it's no wonder they think B.O. is a savior. They have NO CLUE what a presidential race even is! Because, really, in 2004 there wasn't one, just a weak and spineless Democratic party that acted like a cross between the adolescent who's in big trouble but secretly wants to be grounded because they need someone to show them what is up and a dog who is good at tricks like rolling over and playing dead -- too good, in fact.

There are many, many reasons I want to vote for McCain, and a few reasons I don't want to. There are many, many reasons I don't want to vote for Obama, and only one reason I do want to (the chance of having Hillary in a cabinet position). But more than anything I want all these people who have never experienced a presidential election before -- no, more than that, they've never really experienced a president -- to try to get their heads around the fact that it's not just the Big Game followed by a Victory Parade. They're not electing the goddamn homecoming king, although it's hard to tell by the way they swoon in the face of Mr. Handsome Popularity.

God I hate George W. Bush's presidency. I am ashamed of (at least 50% of) you for letting it go on so long. How dare you? And then how dare you blame it on McCain? You have only yourselves to blame.

"We all have work,
let no one shirk,
put your shoulder to the wheel."
--random hymn we used to sing in my past life in Arizona

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In which Linda defends Iran

Specifically, some of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's thoughts about Israel. I am so tired of hearing ignorant reaction to and poor translation of Ahmadinejad's comments, and again tonight in the presidential debate we were treated to some fearmongering about "wiping Israel off the map."

The first time I ever heard someone "quote" that statement the one-time ESL teacher (and the critical thinker!) in me said, "I bet that isn't an entirely accurate translation." By all accounts, of course, I am right. Ahmadinejad was talking about a regime he perceives as illegitimate. Why illegitimate? Because "Israel" or perhaps more accurately Occupied Palestine is a so-called nation that displaced Palestinians and has somehow managed to create a popular perception in the U.S. and who knows where else in the world of "Israel good. Arab bad." without much more thought to it than that.

Ahmadinejad and several other Iranian officials have repeatedly explained that no one wants to start a war, blow anyone up, nor massacre a group of people. They have clarified that they don't even want to displace the Israeli population. What do they want? Free elections! A voice for Palestinians! Freeing Palestinian refugees! Is that so much to ask?

They have called for an election in which ALL the residents of that land -- Jewish, Muslim, Christian -- get to vote, and that alone would create a legitimate government there in "Israel"/Palestine. Why don't we allow that to happen? Are we just afraid the Zionist regime will be revealed for the unpopular mistake that it is?

A friend of mine once pondered, if in the face of the holocaust the world felt compelled to give the Jews a nation, why did they have to send Palestinians into exile? Why not do it in Germany? Wasn't it Germany that was responsible? Kick them off their land instead! Yeah, ha ha - but seriously, why not? Because of all this "holy land" nonsense? Once again, as a different friend put it, once you wrap some nonsense in a religious cloak it becomes untouchable.

Well, I'll touch it. I am not for blowing anyone up or wiping any nation off a map in a violent sense. I am 100% for peace. But I won't say that Israel as we know it rightfully exists. I totally get Ahmadinejad's point - his actual point, not some mistranslated one - and I think it's irresponsible of the rest of you to not try to understand it.

Do yourself a favor and watch the documentary Promises.

Monday, October 06, 2008

So far so good

Sportswise, things are going well: my USC Trojans somewhat redeemed themselves over the weekend and the Red Sox won tonight in a thrilling bottom of the ninth. My hopes for a Dodgers-Red Sox World Series are alive and well.

Schoolwise, I'm trying to stay on top of all the mounds of reading, but last week's and this week's Jewish holidays have helped immensely, giving me a few much needed days off for catch-up and catching a breath.

The Jewish holidays always mystify me a little bit. Actually "mystify" is no longer the right word because I totally get it, but I just think it's silly. I refer, of course, to the ides of beginning a day at sundown. Why is that the "beginning" of a day? It's so clearly the late middle. What if I just decided that my football game started in the third quarter, and finished in the first half of next week's game? That makes about as much sense to me. (Although some days, it could help the Trojans considerably.)

So like, last week it was Rosh Hashanah and we had Tuesday and Wednesday off. But that meant if you had Monday evening classes, those were also cancelled, because in Jewish holidayland, Monday is the start of Tuesday, whereas if you had Wednesday evening classes you didn't actually have Wednesday off in its entirety, because you had to go to those. Sorry, 5 p.m., holiday's over! SO WRONG. I myself don't have any Monday or Wednesday evening classes this semester (I have a Tuesday evening class, so I lucked out this Rosh Hash) but I was amused watching friends determine to which day their evening belonged.

I was actually pondering this whole Judaism lifestyle thing the other week with a few classmates. Well, they really just listened more than actually co-pondered. A lot of people say I shouldn't be as annoyed by Judaism as I am by other religions because the Jews are generally more tolerant, intellectual, and so on. Maybe. But that's so macro. I really feel like being a religious Jew, especially orthodox, would seriously cramp my style day-to-day. The whole Sabbath thing is the perfect example. It starts on Friday night, so that's shot, and then Saturday is for "rest" too. Geez, I had it bad enough as a child being bored to tears and not allowed to do anything except church it up ONE day a week, on Sundays, but to lose two days? I mean, Friday night is the good part of Friday! And then Saturday's gone too, until it gets dark. Then again, I don't really know what Jews do on the Sabbath, but I do know there are restrictions, and it's restrictions of which I complain.

The other restriction I pondered, while my classmates looked on in what may have been horror, is the wearing things on the head. (I'm not even bothering with the dress code in general because ugh, but that's a given ugh.) The whole having to put something on your head before you leave the house = major inconvenience. What if I roll out of bed on a lazy Saturday morning (AND turn on a light via switch! ha!) and then want to just throw on sweats and dash around the corner to the neighborhood coffee shop? Well, my Jewish classmate argued, if you had been raised that way you would think nothing of slapping a covering on your head on the way out the door; it would be as natural to you as putting on shoes. But I say shoes serve a purpose! There are rocks, and nails, and dog excrement, and things on the sidewalk. Shoes make sense.

WHAT IS THE POINT OF RELIGIONS (many, many, many of them) MAKING YOU PUT THINGS ON YOUR HEAD? This is my favorite question in life. And no one knows.

Then again, these things aren't as bad as having to pray five times a day facing east and all that. That's a really annoying one. What if you're taking a nap? Also, aren't all the prayers at specified times? What if you go to a movie? Do you have to take prayer time into account when you plan your cinema outing?

So many things I don't understand about religions. And you know, I've even taken World Religion classes before. But they are all big theory and don't tell me about these little interesting details.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Picking up steam

Busy, busy, busy though I may be, I hereby resolve to not shirk my blogging in October as I have been September shirking. And the thing is, you (fair readers) are totally missing out on lots of good stuff because I'm just too darn busy to blog about it. Oh, the injustice!

Among the forty, fifty, sixty hours I spend doing law schooly things I must say I have some great textbooks this semester, beyond the fact that I am just plain interested in my classes. For example there's Patent Law, in which was written maybe my favorite textbook sentence thus far. It was talking about the development of patent law in the world, starting with Europe and into the U.S. (Brief history of patent law: there was none, then hardly any for centuries, then recently a whole bunch.) The book said, "But as the industrial revolution picked up steam (so to speak)..." Ha ha ha ha ha !

Another great one was in my Regulation of Lawyers text for Ethics/Professional Responsibility class. This one was in a Supreme Court case, though, and over the years in law school we law students definitely come to know that some Supreme Court justices pepper their opinions with pithy, snarky, and sometimes quite brilliant lines and that some have magnificent writing skills even if their reasoning is often prejudicial or flawed (ahem, Scalia) and that some just have the most boring, snooze-inducing writing styles known to humankind (I'm looking at you, O'Connor).

Anyway, this one was in a 1988 decision written by Justice Brennan about lawyer advertising, targeting advertising, and print advertisements versus lawyers soliciting in person (i.e., ambulance chasing, like the guy who went to see the girl in traction in the hospital to say he could represent her). In talking about why in-person solicitation by an attorney puts more pressure on someone in a fragile state than an advertisement, even a targeted letter sent to a certain group of people, Brennan writes, "A letter, like a printed advertisement (but unlike a lawyer), can readily be put in a drawer to be considered later."

I shall go through the rest of my day grinning every time I so much as think about putting a lawyer in a drawer to consider him later.