Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christian Louboutin Book! Merry Christmas to Me!

Look at what one of the secretaries got me for Christmas:

It is the Christian Louboutin book

And it is pure Heaven.  It appears to include photographs of every single shoe he has ever designed.

She knows me so well. 

I have the perfect place for it in my house, right next to this book, which is also amazing:

I love fashion books.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Gnomes on the Stairs

I'm not sure what is going on, but the resident condo gardener did not collect his accoutrements yet.  I was a little worried that some of them might crack or get ruined with the cold weather kicking in, so this happened:

I'm not really a gnome person, but they do look really cute out in the garden.  And now they are going to spend the winter inside my house.

(Yes, my steps need dusting.  I swear, my wood floors collect dust like nothing I've ever seen.  Would it have been smart to do it before I took the picture?  Yes, but I never professed to be smart about things like this.  At least I'm not trying to sell this picture on Etsy or something.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Random Thoughts on December 16

1. I looked back and cannot believe I haven't mentioned the fabulousness that is my new couch from Pottery Barn. But first, the delivery. The guy walked in, looked at the clearance for my basement stairs and shook his head. Panic set in. I measured. I gave the measurements to the salesgirl at Pottery Barn. So, I was about to explode if it didn't fit. Of course, it did after a bit of effort and wall scuffing. I joked with the guy that I guess I can never move, and he just kind of nodded. (Why does my humor go unacknowledged like this?). Anyway, the couch. Actually, it is THE COUCH. Pottery Barn comfort square sectional with wedge. Down cushions. RIDICULOUS. I would lay on this couch every day for the rest of my life if I could. It is that comfortable. Get the down cushions, people! So worth the extra cost. I will have this couch forever. It's also very big and roomy--great for lounging around.

2. My sister's baby's heart ultrasound is next week at Mott. Not a regular ultrasound, but a very special one. We'll know by next week if the new baby's heart is in good shape, which, frankly it should be if you are an odds person. What happened with L was so rare. L would be turning 1 on the 20th, so this is all very hard on my sister. I really hope this ultrasound goes smoothly.

3. I got a whole bunch of deadlines put off until next year. Yes. Opposing counsel was surprisingly agreeable to letting us all celebrate Christmas and New Year's.

4. I got nothing unique for my mom this Christmas, wrecking my streak of thinking of random stuff. She got a zebra robe and zebra slippers and some other stuff. She loves animal print, and wears a robe around her house all the time over her clothes because she sets her thermostat at around 63 to save money. And her robes are so crappy, ugly, and old that I thought I would get her a robe that is more her, if you know what I mean. I know she will like it, even though I feel lame getting her a robe.

5. Lots of positive Facebook posts from H about class and finals, and a "one semester left" thing, so as I suspected, it's possible she overreacted about her clinical instructor. I'm afraid to ask, but it seems like she is confident about passing, so that's great.

6. I don't talk much about my brother, but as much as I love him, he is so weird. He sent me a panicked text last night asking me to retrieve him an American Girl Doll from the store here for his daughter for Christmas. I texted him back that he could just buy it online, because you could not pay me enough money to set foot in that store this close to Christmas. He was amazed that you could buy them online. I was like, dude, you can buy everything online nowadays. Love him, but duh.

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Can I Ask You a Question About Your Hair?

You're walking down the street, usually shopping bags in hand near State Street or Michigan Avenue, minding your own business, intently heading for the train or looking for a taxi, and BAM!

A seemingly friendly man stops you and asks "Can I ask you a question about your hair?"

The first time this happens, you might fall for it.  Your mind races,  you think "Oh, does my hair look good today?  Maybe he likes it!"  So, you say "Okay."

That's when he launches into a whole spiel about some salon and tries to hand you a coupon book.  In short, he is a panhandler or promoter of the worst kind and does not want to ask a question about your hair.  He just wants your money and wants you to buy coupons to a salon. 

Sometimes they will try to trick you and ask for directions like a clueless tourist before moving on to "Can I ask you a question about your hair?"  When they do this, it's easier to fall for, because you think "Oh, this person wants to know who my stylist is."  No, they don't.  They still want you to buy salon coupons.

At any rate, my response to the question now, after being tricked a couple of times into answering "Yes" and getting cornered by a book of coupons is a simple "No," and I keep right on walking. 

I don't know if these people exist anywhere but here, but beware if you visit Chicago.  If anyone wants to ask you a question about your hair, keep right on walking.

The Part Where Occupy Wall Street Demands Use of Private Property

After being unceremoniously kicked out of Zuccotti Park a month ago, the Occupy Wall Streeters have been sleeping in churches and other shelters throughout the city.

That just won’t do.

Trinity Wall Street, one of the churches who has provided facilities for the Occupiers in the fallout has now found themselves in the middle of OWS’s crosshairs. You see, Trinity owns a piece of land near Duarte Square Park, and OWS feels it is there right to camp out on that land. In fact, three OWSers launched a hunger strike in an attempt to force Trinity to allow them to set up an encampment. Needless to say, Trinity has declined. The hunger strikers have been arrested more than once for trespassing on Trinity’s land.

Trinity has offered a very well reasoned statement about why they don’t want to allow this:
There are no facilities at the Canal Street lot. Demanding access and vandalizing the property by a determined few OWS protesters won't alter the fact that there are no basic elements to sustain an encampment. The health, safety and security problems posed by an encampment here, compounded by winter weather, would dwarf those experienced at Zuccotti Park.

Calling this an issue of "political sanctuary" is manipulative and blind to reality. Equating the desire to seize this property with uprisings against tyranny is misguided, at best. Hyperbolic distortion drives up petition signatures, but doesn't make it right. Those arrested were not seeking sanctuary; they were seeking to be arrested. Trinity will continue our responsible outreach and pastoral services for all. We appreciate the many expressions of support we have received from so many in the community.
Call me crazy, but obviously Trinity doesn't want to deal with the potential liabilities or the filth.  If they did allow OWS to camp on their property, and someone got frostbite, hypothermia, or injured in some other way, who do you think would be held respondible?  Trinity.  It's their property, and it's their right to decide who they want to allow on the property.  OWS has for weeks been trying to convince Trinity otherwise, but Trinity has remained firm.

Now, OWS is talking about Occupy 2.0, where they intend to occupy Trinity's land tomorrow.

Here’s what one guy said:
“We need a space for assembly and a space for free speech,” protester Amin Husain, 36, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, told the Rev. Matt Heyd of Trinity. “We’re coming to you for sanctuary.”
Trinity gave them sanctuary.  They want more than that.  They want a campground.  Remember, this is a church who has provided them shelter, meeting rooms, bathrooms, and other facilities following the eviction from Zuccotti Park.  If this is how they treat an organization that has been -- for all intents and purposes -- sympathetic to their cause, I would hate to see what they would do to an unsympathetic organization.  And since when does any private party have to provide a space for assembly and free speech?

More importantly, why doesn't OWS use the hundreds of thousands of dollars they've raised to rent their own plot of land somewhere for an encampment?  If they do that, no one can evict them, no one can arrest them, and no one can stop them from doing whatever they want on their own property. 

Of course, that would mean paying for something rather than stealing from another person.

A number of other churches have gotten behind OWS in their demand for Trinity’s land, which seems pretty weak to me.  Why don't one of those other churches cough up some land for an OWS encampment.  It's easy to disparage one church from afar when you don't own the land at issue, won't be liable if anything goes wrong, and don't have to deal with the clean-up.

It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.  I suspect a lot of arrests.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Value of Mistakes

I'm a big believer in learning by making mistakes. In my experience, you learn a hell of a lot more by screwing up. When you screw up, you never make the same mistake again.

So let me set up the scene. I've got a couple of cases with one young associate, who I will call C. About a month ago, I noticed that we had a whole bunch of stuff due in these cases starting around December 1 and going through the end of the month. C is crazy motivated and a good worker, by the way. I informed him then to let me or others on the case know what he wanted us to do as far as everything due. Yes, I'll take assignments from an associate. What does it matter? We are a team. We give motivated associates responsibility around my firm. At that time, C told me he would go through it and let me know.

I asked him a couple more times over the past few weeks, and sort of warned him that I didn't appreciate last minute dumping on. He assured me he had it under control. For a couple of things, he did, the work was good, and all was served smoothly.

However, when it came to our infringement contentions, due tomorrow (all right, it's after midnight, so now today), he did not. He sent them to me this morning, and after I finished the brief I was working on, I looked at them at around noon for the first time.

Infringement contentions are used to lay out our entire case. They are Very Important. I don't like getting a first draft of them from a newer associate the day before they are due. Partially my bad for not asking for it sooner, I'll admit. To be honest, I have so much other stuff going on, I kind of forgot about these. His work was not bad. In fact, many other partners I work with would've given him clearance to serve.

I am not those people. I am a crazy perfectionist. I'm ridiculous, I'll admit. But, don't put a hyperlink in a claim chart you are serving by PDF. Attach an exhibit. Make sure you aren't just putting in bullshit. You have to prove the contentions. Every single claim element. If you are unsure, ask the client. I want detail!

God. I spent about 7 hours redoing them while he was at a deposition. Then I gave them to him and told him, "I don't know what anyone else around here has told you, but this is how you do infringement contentions."

I was nice about it, and he felt horrible. He wanted to prove himself and show us he could do it on his own and totally misjudged the amount of work he had to do. This was like 60 pages of serious technical crap. I don't blame him, and I'm not mad at him at all. He's new, mistakes happen. No big deal. But I told him "This is why I asked you three weeks ago to tell me what you needed me to do. Doing infringement contentions properly is a ton of work." Lesson learned, young associate. He sent me an apology email tonight. I will reassure him tomorrow that I'm not mad, because I'm really not. I saw this coming, but I figured I'd let him sink and learn from it. He will never make this mistake again.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Breaking Down Obama's Speech in Kansas

President Obama gave a campaign speech yesterday in Kansas.  By listening to it, you wouldn't know that he's been President for the past three years.  Once again, he continues to raise the "class warfare" rhetoric.  But wait, I thought he was supposed to be the great uniter?  I thought he was going to bring both sides of the aisle together?  So much for that, I guess.  What did he say?  The full speech can be found here.  Let's break down parts of his speech:
[My grandparents] believed in an America where hard work paid off, and responsibility was rewarded, and anyone could make it if they tried -- no matter who you were, no matter where you came from, no matter how you started out. 
We still have that America, Mr. President.  Example #1:  Oprah Winfrey.
So you could [back then] have some confidence that if you gave it your all, you'd take enough home to raise your family and send your kids to school and have your health care covered, put a little away for retirement.
We still have that confidence, Mr. President.  The problem is that people feel they need more to simply raise their family.  They need big flatscreen televisions and iPhones and computers and designer clothes and a new car every three years.  They prioritize these types of items over things like retirement and health insurance.  Luxuries have become necessities in this day and age.
But for most Americans, the basic bargain that made this country great has eroded. Long before the recession hit, hard work stopped paying off for too many people. Fewer and fewer of the folks who contributed to the success of our economy actually benefited from that success. Those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and their investments -- wealthier than ever before. But everybody else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren't -- and too many families found themselves racking up more and more debt just to keep up.
Most Americans?  Really?  I don't believe that hard work has stopped paying off for "most" or "too many" people.  This is a dangerous road for the President to be traveling down, in my opinion.  Yes, those at the top made higher incomes.  That's the way life works.  The CEO of McDonalds and the franchise owners make more money than the guy flipping burgers at each franchise.  Should they be paid the same?  This isn't a fight about who works harder anymore.  Both may work hard, but in very different ways.  And those investments?  A risk.  The top could lose money on investments.  Also, regarding racking up debt, see my comment above about necessities versus luxuries. 
We all know the story by now:  Mortgages sold to people who couldn't afford them, or even sometimes understand them.
Whose fault is that?  Why were people taking out mortgages they couldn't afford or couldn't understand?  Is this all the bank's fault?  Remember, it was the federal government who decided that everyone should have the right to own a home, and forced the banks to give mortgages to people who probably shouldn't have had mortgages.  Shouldn't the people who were getting the mortgages have thought to themselves "Gee, I don't know if I can afford this?"  If they didn't understand what they were signing, shouldn't they have stopped and not signed it until they did understand?  Of course not, according to the President.  It was all the Big, Bad Banks fault.
Banks and investors allowed to keep packaging the risk and selling it off.  Huge bets -- and huge bonuses -- made with other people's money on the line.
Many of these people had no money on the line, since they were allowed to take out mortgages with little to no money down.  What money did they have on the line?
Regulators who were supposed to warn us about the dangers of all this, but looked the other way or didn't have the authority to look at all.

In fact, the Republicans warned about this happening back in the Clinton days, but the Democrats ignored them in their zeal to make life "fair" for everyone. 
It was wrong.  It combined the breathtaking greed of a few with irresponsibility all across the system. 
I'll raise him "a few."  Anyone who took out a home loan with 0 down was also being greedy.  They wanted a home, but they didn't have to work for it or save up any money to buy it.  Isn't that a little greedy?  And then when the market tanked and their home values dropped, and they wanted to sell, they turned it around and blamed the banks.  Greedy.
It claimed the jobs and the homes and the basic security of millions of people -- innocent, hardworking Americans who had met their responsibilities but were still left holding the bag.
This seems like a vast generalization to me.  Have all of those "innocent, hardworking Americans" met their responsibilities?  Wait a second...didn't he just say they took out mortgages they couldn't afford or understand?  Is that meeting their basic responsibility?  I think not.  I have no doubt that there are certainly innocent, hardworking Americans out there who got screwed by the system or screwed by vast medical bills or unexpected job losses, but let's not pretend that those are the majority.
[The debate over how to restore growth and prosperity has] left Washington in a near-constant state of gridlock. 
You mean the debate between tax the hell out of a subset of people versus cutting federal spending?  That debate?
Because what's at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.
In this country you can do all of those things still, provided you act responsibly and draw a line between necessities and luxuries.  What is a "modest" savings?  What does "secure their retirement" mean?  How much money?  
Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that's happened, after the worst economic crisis, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years. And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.
Earth to President Obama:  The government got us into this mess in the first place.  The party you keep criticizing wants to make the federal government smaller.  It wants the federal government out of businesses (like the auto industry) that it has no business being in and no Constitutional authority to be involved in.  Did you see the million dollars that some broadband Internet show was given as part of the stimulus package?  I mean, what?  Why is the government involved in the entertainment industry?  Every day there are news articles about the millions or billions of dollars that are simply wasted by the government.  Yes, Mr. President, we want to go back to when the government wasn't a bloated, wasteful, spending mess with no accountability.  We want a government that doesn't allow Congress to go for nearly three years without passing a budget.  We want our government to do their jobs and nothing more.
I'm here in Kansas to reaffirm my deep conviction that we're greater together than we are on our own. 
Code language for:  I'm going to take away from the producers and give to those who don't produce.
I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. 
Oh, good gravy.  I'd like definitions on "fair shot," "fair share," and "same rules."  This actually is a country where anyone can do anything.  While someone was majoring in Art History and pontificating in a cafe about Van Gogh, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook.  Do some people start out more disadvantaged?  Yes.  Blame their parents.  The government simply cannot afford to take care of everyone.  Regarding "fair share," no one who says it will ever define what that means.  To me, it means equal.  I pay the same taxes as anyone else, or at least the same percentage.  Doesn't that sound fair?  Shouldn't we all have some skin in the game?  Regarding everyone doing their fair share, how about this -- I agree to not vandalize anything, commit any crimes, and abide by the laws of society.  You do the same.  Sound good?  Also, last I checked, we are all playing by the same rules, aren't we?  Isn't that why we have laws?  If someone is breaking the laws, have them arrested.  (Unless of course, it is Occupy Wall Street, who seems to be able to get away with not getting permits like every other organization who wants to protest has to do.) 
But today, we are a richer nation and a stronger democracy because of what [Teddy Roosevelt] fought for in his last campaign:  an eight-hour work day and a minimum wage for women -- (applause) -- insurance for the unemployed and for the elderly, and those with disabilities; political reform and a progressive income tax. 
What is this eight hour work day of which he speaks?  Oh, right, that only applies to unions.
Over the last few decades, huge advances in technology have allowed businesses to do more with less, and it's made it easier for them to set up shop and hire workers anywhere they want in the world. 
What's next, banning technology?  Banning the Internet?  Oh, and I think some of these government regulations and tax rates have also had a big hand in helping businesses move to other places in the world.  And let's not forget that the majority of the "hardworking Americans" don't seem to want to go to college for STEM majors because they are too hard, leaving a lot of companies left with no other choice but to go elsewhere.
And if you're somebody whose job can be done cheaper by a computer or someone in another country, you don't have a lot of leverage with your employer when it comes to asking for better wages or better benefits, especially since fewer Americans today are part of a union. 
Now he's courting the unions.  I'm sorry, but if your job can be done cheaper by a computer or a person somewhere else, should you have great negotiation leverage?  This is a huge part of the reason why the U.S. automakers have gotten screwed by the unions.  And why is this any of the government's business?
If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes -- especially for the wealthy -- our economy will grow stronger.  Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers.
Ooh -- especially for the wealthy!  He's going all in.
Remember in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history. 
I guess he's not going to talk about the excessive spending the Democratic controlled Congress has forced on us since 2007, or about how they are incapable of passing a budget.  Oh no, it's all the GOP's fault.
Remember that in those same years, thanks to some of the same folks who are now running Congress, we had weak regulation, we had little oversight, and what did it get us? Insurance companies that jacked up people's premiums with impunity and denied care to patients who were sick, mortgage lenders that tricked families into buying homes they couldn't afford, a financial sector where irresponsibility and lack of basic oversight nearly destroyed our entire economy.
I wonder if he's including the Democrats who are still running Congress.  Ooh and those poor people were tricked into buying homes!  Tricked!  Those are fighting words.  Then again, why make anyone take responsibility for anything?
We simply cannot return to this brand of “you're on your own” economics if we're serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country. 
No, we are going to rebrand it as "the government will take care of your every need and you don't have to take any responsibility for your life."  Is that really the direction we want to go?
Now, this kind of inequality -- a level that we haven't seen since the Great Depression -- hurts us all.  When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, when people are slipping out of the middle class, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom. 
He must have missed the part where we just had the biggest Black Friday in history.  Or about how well Apple is doing.  It seems to me that middle-class famiiles are having no trouble affording the goods and services they want.  Whether they need them is a different story entirely.
Inequality also distorts our democracy.  It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and it runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder. 
So, he's saying that both he and Congress are incapable of turning down campaign contributions or ignoring the high-priced lobbyists?  Of course people are going to game the system -- we depend on our government to be above that, which he is clearly admitting they aren't.  Is he selling out our democracy to the highest bidder when he goes to these $30,000 a plate fundraisers for the elite?  Maybe he should cancel those and show us that he actually supports not distorting our democracy in this way.
This kind of gaping inequality gives lie to the promise that's at the very heart of America:  that this is a place where you can make it if you try.
 I think it actually gives more proof to that promise.  You can be in the 1% if you try.  You can't do that in China.
We tell people -- we tell our kids -- that in this country, even if you're born with nothing, work hard and you can get into the middle class. We tell them that your children will have a chance to do even better than you do. That's why immigrants from around the world historically have flocked to our shores.
I guess things have gotten so awful here that the immigrants have stopped coming.
It's heartbreaking enough that there are millions of working families in this country who are now forced to take their children to food banks for a decent meal.  But the idea that those children might not have a chance to climb out of that situation and back into the middle class, no matter how hard they work? 
Show me a kid in poverty who worked hard, had a part time job, got straight As in school, participated in school activities, and did not get into any trouble who could not fight their way into the middle class.  I'm serious.  Show me one. 
We need to remember that we can only do that together.  It starts by making education a national mission -- a national mission.
Tell me again where education is in the Constitution, because I can't remember.  Oh, right, it's supposed to be a state issue.  Guess the Constitutional law professor forgot that one.
In this economy, a higher education is the surest route to the middle class. 
Actually, you can get there quite well through trades such as electricians, plumbers, auto mechanics, etc. also.  But that doesn't help the colleges get more tuition money, now does it?  Oh, and you might have to get dirty if you do those jobs.
We shouldn't be making it harder to afford college -- we should be a country where everyone has a chance to go and doesn't rack up $100,000 of debt just because they went. 
The debt isn't a problem provided you have the foresight to use your $100,000 wisely, in a major that is employable at a decent salary.  Also, living on the high hog during college with your loan money and taking semesters abroad probably isn't very smart either.  Isn't it amazing that you can get a student loan and the bank doesn't investigate at all whether you will ever be able to pay the loan back?
And by the way, if we don't have an economy that's built on bubbles and financial speculation, our best and brightest won't all gravitate towards careers in banking and finance.  (Applause.)   Because if we want an economy that's built to last, we need more of those young people in science and engineering. 
Good on him for mentioning science and engineering.  Boo for insulting those who are in banking and finance.  We do need them, too.
And that's why the over 1 million construction workers who lost their jobs when the housing market collapsed, they shouldn't be sitting at home with nothing to do. They should be rebuilding our roads and our bridges, laying down faster railroads and broadband, modernizing our schools -- (applause) -- all the things other countries are already doing to attract good jobs and businesses to their shores.
Yes, so why aren't we spending money on this instead of on all the earmarks, waste, and nonsense Congress keeps approving?  I'm happy to spend tax money on fixing roads and bridges and railroads.  Why don't we do that? 
Of course, those productive investments cost money.  They're not free.  And so we've also paid for these investments by asking everybody to do their fair share. 
And here we go...back to this vague "fair share" business.
Today that choice is very clear.  To reduce our deficit, I've already signed nearly $1 trillion of spending cuts into law and I've proposed trillions more, including reforms that would lower the cost of Medicare and Medicaid.
Too bad spending isn't up to him.  Too bad he can't even get the Democrats in Congress to get on board with what he wants to do.  Too bad a lot of these "cuts" aren't really cuts at all, but funny accounting tricks.
In the long term, we have to rethink our tax system more fundamentally.  We have to ask ourselves:  Do we want to make the investments we need in things like education and research and high-tech manufacturing -- all those things that helped make us an economic superpower?  Or do we want to keep in place the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans in our country?  Because we can't afford to do both.  That is not politics.  That's just math.
Yes, because the only option is to tax the wealthy!  That's it.  Forget about cutting spending.  Cutting spending wouldn't be math, I guess. 
Under President Clinton, the top rate was only about 39 percent.  Today, thanks to loopholes and shelters, a quarter of all millionaires now pay lower tax rates than millions of you, millions of middle-class families.  Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent.  One percent.  
Only 39%!  And that doesn't even include your state taxes.  Why don't we stop looking at tax rates and start looking at the amount of taxes paid?  1 percent of a billion is $10,000,000.  God, those cheapass billionaires, only paying ten million dollars in federal taxes.  Jeez.  Let's compare that guy to the guy who pays no federal income taxes.  Is that fair? 
That is the height of unfairness. 
Oh, but he's saying this in the context that the billionaire should pay more than ten million dollars.  It wouldn't be fair otherwise.  I mean, what the hell?
It's wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker, maybe earns $50,000 a year, should pay a higher tax rate than somebody raking in $50 million.  (Applause.)  It's wrong for Warren Buffett's secretary to pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. 
Something tells me Warren Buffet paid a lot more in taxes than his secretary.  This story Obama keeps throwing out there is such a freaking red herring.  Whether or not Warren Buffet's tax rate is lower due to capital gains, he is paying a shit ton of money in taxes.  Way more than his secretary.
And I know that many of our wealthiest citizens would agree to contribute a little more if it meant reducing the deficit and strengthening the economy that made their success possible. allows anyone who wants to contribute as much as they want to the government.  Have at it, wealthiest citizens.  Put your money where your mouth is.  Oh, but it wouldn't be "fair" if they voluntarily did it.  It's only "fair" when everyone is forced to do it.
This isn't about class warfare.
Bullshit.  How about some thanks to all those wealthy citizens who are running businesses that give people jobs?  How can this guy with a straight face continue to castigate the wealthy, when at the same time he is going to fundraisers for the wealthy few nearly every night?  You want to talk about distorting the democracy?  Look in the mirror, Mr. President.
It's about making choices that benefit not just the people who've done fantastically well over the last few decades, but that benefits the middle class, and those fighting to get into the middle class, and the economy as a whole. 
How about forcing everyone to make responsible choices instead?
Does anybody here think that the problem that led to our financial crisis was too much oversight of mortgage lenders or debt collectors?
It was the federal government sticking its nose where it didn't belong.
Every day we go without a consumer watchdog is another day when a student, or a senior citizen, or a member of our Armed Forces -- because they are very vulnerable to some of this stuff -- could be tricked into a loan that they can't afford -- something that happens all the time. 
He's using that word again -- "tricked!"  It's amazing to me how he completely writes off any responsibility by the person who took on the loan.  They weren't all tricked. 
Consumers deserve to have someone whose job it is to look out for them. 
This is the President telling us we are all too stupid to survive without the government.
I'll be calling for legislation that makes those penalties count so that firms don't see punishment for breaking the law as just the price of doing business. 
Does anyone believe him anymore when he says he's going to do something?
The big banks should increase access to refinancing opportunities to borrowers who haven't yet benefited from historically low interest rates.  And the big banks should recognize that precisely because these steps are in the interest of middle-class families and the broader economy, it will also be in the banks' own long-term financial interest.  What will be good for consumers over the long term will be good for the banks. 
Here he is, sticking his nose into the banking industry, which is what got us into trouble in the first place.  So, I assume when the interest rates go up, he won't have a problem if the banks force people to refinance to the higher rates?  When you sign your mortgage, you agree to the interest rate.  Maybe you can refinance later to lower it, maybe you can't.  So now that it's gone down, he wants to force the banks to change the mortgage contract, possibly to their own detriment. 
A tax code that makes sure everybody pays their fair share.
Sweet, I'm all for a flat tax.
It will require parents to get more involved in their children's education.  It will require students to study harder.  (Applause.)  It will require some workers to start studying all over again.  It will require greater responsibility from homeowners not to take out mortgages they can't afford.  They need to remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.    
This is good, but everyone had probably tuned out by now.
It will require those of us in public service to make government more efficient and more effective, more consumer-friendly, more responsive to people's needs.  That's why we're cutting programs that we don't need to pay for those we do.
We are?  What are we cutting?  He's always so vague.

Eh, that's about it.  At the end he gets into his usual platitudes and the feel good hope and change stuff that got him elected in the first place.  He must be thrilled to be able to campaign again, because that is something he is good at.  He's incredibly focused on being Teddy Roosevelt right now, and I'm not sure that's a good thing. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Things I'm Annoyed About Today

1.  That Herman Cain got forced out of the race due to unproven, uninvestigated accusations.  It infuriates me that a person can hire a Gloria Allred type, get on national television, say whatever they want, and then disappear.  (See, also, Nicky Diaz Santillian, the illegal immigrant who took down Meg Whitman.)  To make matters worse, our wonderful media runs away with it in their usual dramatic manner, doesn't ask for any form of proof, and automatically believes the victim versus the accused.  No, the media was happy to just let Cain flounder, and insinuiate that he might just be guilty of all of these horrible things, without any proof.  Jesus, anyone can say anything they want about anyone else.  It doesn't make it true.  I'm not saying he was my top choice for President, but he deserved a chance to run.  We can only look forward to more of the same going forward.  It's really disgusting.  I truly hate the media in this country.  It used to be that they actually fact checked things prior to airing them for the entire country, but I guess that is a thing of the past.

2.  The Occupy tent cities are starting to grate on me.  Don't get me wrong; it's entertaining to watch the raids go down nearly every night, but every time I watch all I can think about is the cost to the cities, and how absurd they all sound.  Don't the occupiers realize they are only hurting the 99% with their mayhem and antics?  All they really seem to be doing at this point is causing trouble as they flitter from one "cause" to the next.  And the ordeal at Washington D.C. the other night with the wooden house was preposterous.  I heard the holdout occupier who wouldn't get in the occupicker ended up peeing off the roof of the structure, right at the police.  When he got down, he was arrested in part for indecent exposure and public urination.  Enjoy the sex offender list, buddy.  Hope it was worth it.  I still simply do not see what these occupations are accomplishing, nor do I understand why anyone would want to be a part of it.  It will be interesting to see what happens with this whole port shutdown that is planned for December 12. 

3.  Our Campaigner in Chief is back at it again, comparing himself to Teddy Roosevelt (!) and imploring all of us lazy people to pay our fair share.  Oh, yeah, but he and his family are going on a 17 day vacation to Hawaii.  (Yes, I understand that his job never stops and that he will be doing work from there, but still...)  Does anyone else find it strange that he never goes on vacation in Chicago?  After all, he lived here for many years.  You'd think he had a life here and people to visit and might miss his old city.  I guess you can't blame him for Hawaii over Chicago in December, but the cost of that trip must be astounding.  I'd have a hell of a lot more respect for him if he simply said "You know what?  This year we are going to tighten our bootstraps also and stay in Washington D.C. for the holidays."  Of course, that would never happen.  I swear, you would never know from his speech today that he has been President for the past three years.  Everything is always someone else's fault.  Hey, maybe he should go join the occupiers!  They seem to have the same viewpoint.  

4.  Ashton Kutcher's Twitter account had better grammar and syntax when he was running it himself.  Seriously, whoever he hired to Twitter for him now is terrible.  (I have no idea why I'm following him, so don't even ask.  I also don't know why this annoys me, but it does.)

5. I'm already so tired of Christmas music and the month has only begun.  It's all so sappy happy and I hear it everywhere I go.  I'm incapable of getting into the Christmas spirit this year, because I have so much work to do.  It's making me hugely depressed.  Don't worry, I'll live, but I can already tell it is going to be an insanely crabby December for me. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Random Thoughts on December 1

Just because I realized I have a few additional things to share:

1.  I'm co-teaching a class in January at my law school alma mater!  Oh, these poor law school students who are going to have to deal with me.  I'm very excited about it, because it's a foot in the door for me.  I would love, love to teach Patent Litigation there.  I've been told I will get a modest stipend. 

2.  On the negative side, I have -- honestly -- the worst caseload I have ever had for the month of December.  I have four sets of infringement contentions due, an appellate response brief, and multiple discovery responses.  I'm obviously leaning on the associates to help out, but some of them are rather new, so I'm still going to have to do quite a bit of work in reviewing their work and teaching them the right way to do this stuff.  At this point, I'm not even sure I can leave Chicago for Christmas.  UGH!

3.  I also might have jury duty on December 12, for the first time ever.  (Yay!  My first summons!)  I'm officially a "standby juror" which means I have to call in on December 9 (Friday) after 4:30 p.m. to find out if I need to show up on Monday.  I will be in Las Vegas on December 9, for a weekend including the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show, so...I will make that call, but I might be a bit inebriated when I make it.  Even if I have to go, I'm 99% positive no lawyer in their right mind will pick me, but you never know.  Normally lawyers aren't chosen, but, if it is a criminal trial, my chances go up since I know nothing about criminal law except my 1L Criminal Law class and my studying for the bar.  But still, they don't want me.  I know what a high standard reasonable doubt it, and I'm a leader.  I desperately want to not get picked, given my case load, as described above, but as a lawyer, I cannot claim hardship due to my job, given that as a trial attorney, I regularly ask people to do the same.  Some lawyers disagree with my view and will do anything to get out of jury duty, but I don't abide by that viewpoint.  If I'm going to ask people to make sacrifices to serve on my jury, I will do the same for someone else, if they want me.  

4.    I have two trials scheduled for next year, in April and June, and I think they will both go.  Exciting, but stressful.  Maybe I'll survive.   

5.    I hate the Philadephia Eagles.  Drafting Michael Vick and the Eagles defense in my fantasy football league are easily two of the worst choices I've made this year.  Heh, I guess that means I've had a pretty good year.

Welcome to the Real World

I'm feeling so badly for my sister H tonight, but also a little bothered.  As a reminder, she is seven years younger than me, and is in her last year of nursing school.  She's one of those people who it took her awhile to see the benefits of a college education, and as a result she's been waitressing since she was 18, and is finally (hopefully) on track to get her Bachelor's degree in May.

When I saw her about a month ago, she confessed to me that one of her clinicals this semester was not going well.  According to her, the professor took an immediate dislike to her on Day 1 when she showed up with all of her arm tattoos showing.  (She must have 20 tattoos on her body in total.  It's absurd.)  The professor told her to cover them up in the future.  I can't say I blame the professor.  She then neglected to turn in an assignment on time, and the professor wrote her up, and she started crying and turned around and walked off, and the professor didn't take that well, and things started snowballing.  The professor doesn't like her.  I got a message from H today -- a warning, in fact -- that she thinks this professor is going to fail her.  She assured me that she has tried to talk to the professor privately, etc., but that is going nowhere.

Here's what I want to say:  "Welcome to the Real World!"

Here's what I said:  "Hang in there.  I'm thinking of you."  (Well, more than that, but you get the idea.)

H has never had to grow up.  I love her dearly, and I'm not posting all of this so you'll think I'm a complete bitch or unsympathetic, but....she's 30 years old and her life has been all about fun.  She's been waitressing, which she is very good at, getting tattoos, going on vacations, partying with her friends, and being helped along a lot along the way by my mom.  Oh, and me.  I'm not blameless.  Three weeks ago I "loaned" her $3,000 because her gas had been turned off and she had no money but still had tuition payments to make.  I can't help it -- she's my baby sister.  My mom has always bailed her out in the past, paid her medical insurance, paid her medical copays, given her cheap deals on her old cars (oops, I did that, too), given her money when she needed extra, etc.  Dealing with her in this way hasn't helped her.  In fact, I think it has hurt her.  It's very hard when you have the extra money or you don't need the old car, to just help her out.  I don't like to see her struggle, and neither does my mom.  As a result, H has been able to float along in life, and to never really have to deal with reality or acting like an adult.  Someone always bails her out if she gets in trouble or spends too much money vacationing and having fun and as a result can't pay her mortgage.   

She doesn't understand adult things that are very obvious to me.  Like, if you have a bunch of tattoos on your arms, wear long sleeves for your first day of clinical.  Make a good impression.  Like, hey, you should be looking for a job by now for when you graduate in May.  All of your classmates were doing this a year ago, and had a summer internship in nursing.  What were you doing?  I think she thinks hospitals are going to come looking for her once she has her degree.  It's bizarre.  Like, when you have an assignment, turn it in on time.  Like, if you are ready to burst into tears, politely say "Can I take a minute, please," to go off and gather youself and don't just storm off.  You know, adult, responsible things.  Adult ways of handling things.   

I've expressed some of this to her before, but I don't like to give her unsolicited opinions like my mom does, because it really irritates H when my mom does that.  I'd prefer to let her figure it out on her own, unless she asks for my advice.  (After all, I did.  My other sister did.  My brother did.)  However, in her little utopian world, everyone is nice.  That isn't the real world, though.  I've had to work with and for some complete assholes.  I'm regularly dealing with complete asshole opposing counsel.  At least two new associates at my firm likely think I am a complete bitch, although if they talk to the older associates they will find out they will learn a lot from me.  I expect a lot.  Maybe this professor does also.  I deal with Judges who I think are idiots and who threaten to sanction me for stupid things.  I also deal with Judges who are smarter than me, and I've gotten slammed and embarrassed in court.  People yell at me at work.  I yell at them back.  Personality conflicts are not uncommon.  That's life.  Not everyone is going to like you.  However, as a professional, you deal with it.  Even if you are a crying type of person (which I am, too), you hold it back and excuse yourself to get yourself together, and then you deal with the problem.

I can't help her with this.  In some ways, it might be good for her to fail the class and have to retake it to get her degree.  I worry, though, that if she does fail it, she won't finish.  It's odd, because she is completely gorgeous and has a body I would kill for and was constantly praised and coddled as a kid, yet she has the lowest self esteem.  Part of the reason she didn't go to college for so long was because she didn't think she was smart.  Well, she is smart.  She's gotten all As and Bs so far in nursing school.  But this is the class that is the challenge.  Most people I know had that one class that was a nightmare.  I know I did.  I about died when I studied my ass off and got a D, but que sera sera, right?  Did it affect me in the long term?  No.  And now I can talk about that stupid class I failed my senior year in college.  Failing this class could do her in, though, as far as motivation to finish.  She's that type of person.  She thinks everyone is conspiring against her success and will just give up.  I guess I'm not like that.      

I really hope the professor is just pushing her, and will end up passing her in the end.  At minimum, this is a good experience for her to go through.  I don't think she quite gets that when she starts working somewhere other than a bar that she may have to deal with some condescending doctors and nurses.  She might have to deal with a boss who dislikes her for no reason.  That happens.  Maybe this will open her eyes.  At worst, she retakes the class.  I've realized as I've gotten older that sometimes things aren't as big of a deal as you think.  So what if she has to retake the class and she graduates a little later?  Who cares?  That will be a huge disappointment to her, since she is looking forward to graduating in May, and I know she will be horribly embarrassed, but...I don't know.  I feel awful for her, but at the same time, I want to just say "Welcome to reality."