Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

While I would prefer that the hurricane not hit Houston, even though we should be far enough inland to not get a big hit from it, I really hope it spares New Orleans.

A city that looks like this


does not need any more devastation.

Labor Day Weekend

I was scheduled to fly to Boston tomorrow for a deposition on Tuesday for one of our plaintiffs. The opposing counsel's wife, however, decided on having her baby yesterday, so we've had to reschedule the depo. That's probably all well and good, considering that we have a hurricane that may be on its way into the area.

So my day is clear for tomorrow. I might make bulgoki, if anyone is interested.

My Very Brief Thoughts on Sarah Palin as VP Candidate

I'm concerned that she has limited executive experience, and appears to have run up a $20 million debt for a town of 9,000 as mayor. I'm concerned about the rumblings of cronyism, but I expect rumblings of that type from just about anyone in power. I'm concerned about the whispers of rumours suggesting that perhaps her youngest child is not hers. (From The Moderate Voice - note, this was not posted as fact on TMV, but rather suggesting that there may potentially be something to look into on this matter) I'm concerned that she was vetted in a week, and not by McCain staff members, but rather by lawyers, which immediately strikes me as a move of desperation. And I'm concerned about how many times I've heard people refer to her having been a beauty queen, or comment on how she's "hot" or a "MILF" in comments. I see absolutely no connection between physical attractiveness and ability to govern, and felt that way when one of my friends said she was voting for Bill Clinton in 1992 because he was "cute."

Much of my concern is from rumor and conjecture, as is the case for many who have concerns regarding Sarah Palin, but that is the price of making a surprise pick of someone who has not been on the national radar. Concerns are going to abound. Consider it like this - the person applying for the position of head coach on your football team must also provide his choice for starting quarterback. He can choose from any quarterback out there, Manning, Brady, Favre, McNabb, Palmer... and he chooses Kevin Kolb. It's a bit of a head scratcher.

And I don't buy into the "inspired choice" line of response. I don't see how any blogger pundit or most media talking heads can say that when she was underneath just about everyone's radar. The responses from the Limbaughs and the Red stater blogs applauding this choice immediately after the choice and repeating the "plus" talking points (vice my "minus" talking points indicating my concern above, because I also know very little about her), strikes me as a lockstep, pavlovian response - "she's the Republican choice, so it must be a good one, just like Alberto Gonzalez and Harriet Miers."

I'm concerned, but I will stop short of calling it a good or bad pick at this time - again, I just don't know enough about her to give an honest assessment.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'll say this about Barack Obama

He's charismatic. I don't buy him completely, but there's an energy there.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

But the Media Hates Conservatives

Which is why they are in such a rush to attack John McCain. Wait, except here, they are saying McCain's gaffe is bad for Obama... (From Think Progress)

Don't Go Clothes Shopping

On the day before the first day of school.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Boy, if it Weren't For That Liberal-Loving Media

It's a good thing the Republicans have been telling me constantly for years that there is a well-documented liberal bias to the media, or I might take all the news I've seen in recent weeks as being slanted in favor of John McCain - you know, since he seems to be covered favorably more often than not, and Obama seems to be the one criticized. But I know the media is favorable for the Democrats, because I saw it in 2000 when they went out of their way to ignore Al Gore and cover the guy you'd rather have a beer with.

Barack Obama chose Senator Biden as his running mate, but that was a bad choice, it was a sign of desperation. They must be afraid of John McCain, the "maverick" who eschewed his alleged independent mind to cuddle up with Karl Rove and company.

I'm just not quite up to commenting too much on this. I'll leave the roundup to my good friend Just Wondering over at Vim and Vinegar. She covers this topic quite well here.

School Starts

I was supposed to be getting ready for a flight to Boston tomorrow for two depositions next week. They were pushed back; this is a good thing. My children start school on Monday, and, since they are going to a new school, I am happy to be able to be there to see them off.

We're excited. The Boy and I are getting haircuts today. We also need to buy some lunch foods.

It's going to be an exciting year. The Boy was unable to get registered into the GT class, but we hope he'll be transferred soon. The Princess we hope will be able to test into GT either this year or next. She's sharp, but not very patient.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Depositions

I've read before that the deposition is the first place where a baby lawyer first really feels like a "lawyer." I did my first deposition yesterday, and I can say that I did feel lawyerly. I was fortunate that it was not a knock-down, drag out deposition, rather it was a minor character in the case and the opposing counsel (though a partner at a major firm) was not mentally or emotionally invested in the case. The deposition went fairly well; I have lots of room for improvement, but a lot of that just has to come with experience.

The toughest part about depositions, in my opinion, is not knowing when to object; you'll pretty much know the big objection areas. The toughest part is figuring out what you're going to ask on Cross-examination. We did not notice this deposition, so I was on cross. Basically, there are two things you want to cover - you want to get the witness to give you as much of the information you want as he will give you, and you want to rebut the other counsel's points. The first part of that is not too hard, if you have a good outline drawn up. The second part is where the art of deposing comes in, and can really only come with experience. You need to figure out what opposing counsel is trying to get out (you can kind of anticipate this beforehand if you know the matter of the case and how the witness fits in to the picture) and you need to figure out how to rebut what they say. This is something that can seem somewhat obvious when reading depositions, but while you're on the Court Reporter's time, this is a bit more daunting. You have to be able to think on your feet, change approaches when one thing doesn't work the way you'd like, and be able to corner the witness into an answer, if necessary.

I did all right; it was my first deposition. I made mistakes, and I will learn from them. While I don't relish the idea of trial law myself, it's part of the job and I need to do it as best I can.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Posting From Salt Lake City

It's beautiful here.

But the wife doesn't want to live here due to the snow in the winter. Fussy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Plumb Tuckered Out

The Apple is asleep. He had a busy weekend. Yesterday, we went out for dinner with Photog and the Feisty 'Bama Princess. We had Pizza. It was good; not great pizza. I'd go back. I think for the money, I prefer Donnelly's Pizza, though.

After that, we went to a Mexican Ice Cream Parlor, where we had Mexican Ice Cream. It was good; better than I had in mind when we stopped. I had a strawberry sorbet, which tasted like it was freshly made. The kids had their ice cream and then spent 20 minutes running up and down the sidewalk.

Today, we had Nuje and family come over. It's been about a month since we'd seen them, so it was nice to have them over again. We played Scrabble, which I won, and Progressive Rummy, in which I was destroyed. Much fun was had. We also had steaks and hamburgers; the kids watched movies and played games. Good times with the wife's Matron of Honor and clan.

We missed church today. I like taking the kids to church because it seems to have a positive effect on their behavior during the week; but we were unable to get ready in time today. We'll make it up next week. I'm not completely sold on the church we're going to - it's a little too gospel for me; but that might just be the southern Methodist style, as I've been unable to really find something here that is what I'm familiar with. Still, the family seems to like it, and it's important to provide the exposure to the kids, in my mind, so it's worth it to me.

That's about it for now - I know that didn't sound like much, but we kept moving all weekend. We'll talk more soon.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What's the Difference?

15 years ago, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina both, at separate times, both left Yugoslavia. The United States sent forces over to help these fledgling nations in their quest for independence. In 1998, the United States, against the expressed desire of the United Nations and, with our President violating the War Powers Resolution and NATO Charter, invaded Yugoslavia to defend the Kosovar Albanians who wanted to be separate, but still a part, of Yugoslavia. In 2003, we invaded Iraq, contrary to the desire of the United Nations and with, what turned out to be (and may have been known to those making the decisions) erroneous information, with, at least a long-term goal of securing a Status of Forces Agreement allowing us to keep our forces in the nation/region for long-term - oh yeah, and to free them.

Recently, Russian troops invaded Georgia after the Georgian military attacked South Ossetia, a state that was attempting to assert independence from Georgia. The Russian attack has been derided by John McCain and the Bush Administration and the Conservative talk circuit as attempting to re-create the Cold War, attempting to rebuild the Russian/Soviet empire.

What's the difference? Someone else's sphere of influence. This isn't us invading or attacking; it's someone else, and that means empire building. We free nations; look at Iraq! They have their own government (who some on the Right have been attacking for daring to suggest that a long-term security agreement is not what they might want as a free and independent nation), set up by our nation and supported by our military - you know, the one that would stand down as the Iraqi army stood up. Notice you don't really hear about that anymore... but they're free. Other nations are creating puppet regimes friendly to their ambitions, or just outright conquer the nation, at least, that's what the spin is.

I don't jump to vilify Russia on this matter simply because I view this approach as highly hypocritical given our nation's international endeavors over the past 15 years.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Untitled

I work at a smaller law firm. There are about 20 someodd lawyers in the firm, and several support staff - paralegals, legal secretaries, etc. We all get along well, for the most part. There's one guy who works there, Toby, who was involved in an accident several years ago and had to have the front half of his foot amputated. I've not really pressed him for details about the incident, but I think it has something to do with being drunk and too close to metro rail tracks... Anyway, one day, we're all going out for lunch at a local restaurant, Toby, with his crutches, coming along with us. We decided to try a new bbq place nearby (this being Texas, you can find bbq just about anywhere). We are filing in to the door and the manager stops Toby and tells him that he's not welcome in the restaurant and that he would have to eat somewhere else because of his foot. We pressed the manager to let Toby in, but the guy refused to relent. We all left and went somewhere else. We didn't think it was right to give money to a restaurant that's lactose intolerant.

The Cat Came Back

I'm no fan of cats, particularly ours, which insists on vomiting in my room, on my shoes, my clothes, my books, wherever. But this video, from O'Canada is a bit of an exception.

When is a Crime Not a Crime?

When it's committed by the DOJ, apparently. According to this article on the Huffington Post, Michael Mukasey stated the plan was that justice department staffers would not be prosecuted for alleged illegal hiring practices. The key phrase in his statement? "Not every wrong, or even every violation of the law is a crime."

I wonder what would happen if a defendant attempted to use that as a defense... "Yes, your honor, I know that the law says 'Don't do X,' and I did it, but violating this law is not a crime." Somehow, I don't think the Court would buy it. I know I don't. But I would never suggest that a Bush appointee investigating the acts of other Bush-administration appointees would decline to prosecute a crime merely because they're all on the same side...

I think that perhaps, had he phrased it differently, it would be a more accurate statement. While I disagree with his assertion that not every violation of the law is a crime, I would say that perhaps not every violation of the law warrants criminal prosecution or potential jail time. But if it's not a crime to violate the law, then why have a law in the first place?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I hate CSI Miami

I tried to watch it last night, but I couldn't last more than about 15 seconds. The part I saw was where Callie Duquesne found Gunshot Residue (GSR) on El Poseur's Boss's pantleg. Apparently, the GSR transferred there from a collision between Boss Hogg's leg and the car the suspect was in - he unfortunately lurched forward just enough to make contact with the leg before he stopped and this was enough to transfer a significant amount of GSR to Boss Hogg's leg.

This was probably enough to confirm their suspicions and get their bad guy, but let's consider two things - first, Callie stated after seeing the pant leg that she needed to look over the car one more time. She did a poor job the first time and now has to see it again to find what she's looking for - real crackerjack work there. Second - would they have found their man but for this magnificent piece of luck? There are coincidences, and there are scripted acts of sheer luck that don't happen in real life, and certainly don't happen week in and week out.

This show is a pain.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Football season starts soon

Which means, technically, the NFL will be active in Detroit again - it would be nice for the teams that go to Detroit to have an NFL team to play against, though. You know, for a change...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Don't Piss Off Cheney, Russia!

According to this article on Yahoo, Dick Cheney stated that Russian aggression must not go unanswered. Russia attacked Georgia for attacking South Ossetia, and that's pissed off the Bush administration. Some might say it's because Russia shouldn't be getting involved in a hotspot that hasn't cooled down since the fall of the Soviet Union. Others would suggest it's because Georgia's President is a staunch ally of the Bush administration. Personally, I think Cheney just is itching to attack someone. It's been over 5 years already! We need something new. Iraq is boring now; and that damn Bin Laden won't let us find him. Besides, wouldn't it be much more of a challenge to fight Russia? They have more modern weapons than Iraq and Afghanistan! Besides, we've never had problems with any other wars we've started, why not move up a notch in competition? Russia's a pushover; they can't handle any force of substance, as long as it happens during the two weeks that qualify as the Russian summer... All in favor?

It's The Freedom, Stupid!

Senator John McCain is not my first choice for President. Actually, neither is Barack Obama, but I would prefer a Democrat in office this fall than a Republican, if only to balance the Court system. This does not equal an endorsement of either party, as, quite frankly, I'd rather see anyone OTHER than a Republican or Democrat in office, but that ain't gonna happen.

One of the problems with Senator McCain is that, since he's sewed himself into the Bush/Cheney quilt, he's unable to see anything outside of it. John McCain has called timelines for withdrawal suggested by Obama (and agreed to be sensible to others, including other Republicans and the Iraqis) "giving up on Iraq." You see, one of the long-term goals of invading Iraq was to create a friendly nation in the region, a government with a puppet who would give us our SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement), allowing us to remain in the area long-term, so that we can meddle in middle eastern affairs. This would be under the guise of a mutual agreement by their government, their "free" democratically elected government, created in our Christian Nation's image. You know, except for the muslim thing.

There was one hiccup, though. While Obama, McCain, the pundits, the President, and pretty much everyone else with a mouth and a television camera (but apparently no brain) argued over when, if, and how we should remove our forces, nobody decided to invite the Iraqi government and people to the discussion. Turns out, those people have opinions, too. And their opinion is that they are a free country and don't want us there forever.

This, of course, is a problem for the Republican nominee, who has basically hung his Iraq hat on long-term troop commitment.

Personally, I can't get over how selfish the Iraqis are being about this. I mean, we freed them. They didn't even ask for it, and we gave it to them. Where's our thanks? Where's our long-term SOFA? Where's the agreement that our forces are not subject to Iraqi laws? Where's the agreement that we can detain Iraqi civilians as the enemy because they look the part? Don't they know that if they want to be free, they must sacrifice some of their liberties? Look at us - ever since Saddam Hussein launched that attack on September 11, we have had our communications subject to wiretaps without warrants, our phone records taken subject to National Security Letters, people can be detained as providing material support for donating to charities that might be connected somehow to a terrorist organization, we've attempted to deny habeas rights to our detainees, we cannot go to Mexico or Canada without a visa like we used to be able to, we cannot bring nail clippers or lotion on airplanes... and we've never been more free! Our economy is strong, the dollar is top-notch, and our international standing is on a level it's never been before. Personally, I think we should invade that ungrateful nation and overthrow its government - those people want western-style democracy and the stability only our forces can provide.

Learning Lessons

There are several possible justifications for sending someone to prison. Some argue it is for retribution. Others might say deterrent or rehabilitation. A fourth possible reason would be incapacitation. I've written about this in the past, myself.

Whatever the purpose of sending someone to prison, I think most people would hope that the end result is the same - that those convicted do not commit the same crime again. We know that often, that is not the case and the individuals will end up committing crimes again, but at least we can hope.

What do we do with those who refuse to learn their lessons, though? At what point do we say enough is enough? Habitual offenders, people who commit the same crime over and over again. Is it wrong to sentence an individual to a life sentence for DWI? How about a 3rd DWI? How about a 10th? If not 10, then how many times does one have to commit a crime before he's clearly shown he cannot amend his ways and act in a manner consistent with what we expect from our citizens...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

RIP, Bernie Mac

I was a bit surprised to hear that Bernie Mac died. He will be missed.

I never caught any of his standup routines. I first learned of him via the Bernie Mac show, which I really enjoyed. Bernie's show captured the clash between old-school parenting and the new generation in a way that was both understandable and entertaining.

"Our Bad"

The FBI director apologized to newspapers for improperly (illegally) obtaining phone records of reporters, according to this article on Yahoo. You see, they were doing it while investigating terrorism. They recovered the records by bypassing grand jury subpoenas using "exigent letters," essentially saying time was an issue and going to the grand jury would not allow them to get what they needed quickly enough, but that they requested the subpoenas when in fact they hadn't.

I know, the shock that a government agency under the Bush administration would lie to get around Constitutional due process. Whodathunkit?

Fortunately, the director apologized, so everything is fixed now. The government says they have safeguards in place to keep this from happening again. Of course, the government also told us that we were fighting terrorists so that our freedoms would not be jeopardized - how ironic that they ask us to continue to trust them...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Random Trivia

Baseballs and softballs weigh the same.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

My Two Cents' Worth on Brett Favre

Brett Favre needed to commit himself one way or the other. He needed to say whether he wanted to keep playing or not back at the end of last season. He seems to enjoy the attention waffling gave him the last 3-4 seasons with regard to his retirement.

I think Brett Favre is a great football player. I would list him as one of the top 10 Quarterbacks of all time. I think that status bought him quite a bit of latitude with his decisionmaking process. That said, he was being quite selfish. He's a part of a team, an integral part. This is a team that needed to know which direction it would be going in and it needed to know which parts would be with them. Brett Favre knew that, yet he chose to allow his ego and his thirst for attention control his motions. The question shouldn't have been if he was coming back or not; the question should have been "do I still want to play?" Listen to his "retirement" speech and he says it himself there.

I think the Packers could have handled the situation better. But I don't think they should have been forced to handle the situation.

I've also heard several people state that the Packers should take Favre back as the starting quarterback because he's the best quarterback there. I don't buy that. Brett Favre was the better quarterback last year. He's a year older, he's not been training, and he's not been reading the playbook. Grit and attitude will only get you so far; when you play professional football, preparation means a whole lot, and the one who's been preparing is Aaron Rogers. I'm not going to outright say that Rogers is a better quarterback, because I don't know. I'm just saying what should be obvious - that Brett Favre is not automatically better just because his name is Brett Favre. The problem, of course, is that if he's not the starter, then the moment Rogers does anything wrong or things do not go perfectly, then people will start mumbling that Favre should be out there because he's "the best" and it's "obvious."

What happens, though, if he goes out as the starter and struggles? Do the apologists continue to defend him; say that he gives the team the best chance of winning? How good is that chance if they're losing?

The Packers needed to move in a direction. They got what they thought was an answer when Brett Favre announced his retirement, and they chose a direction. They should not have to switch gears because the person who made the choice that resulted in the path the Packers chose changed his mind. It's selfish, and not something a leader should do. He made his bed; he needed to find a less public way to fix it.

Tropical Dud

So, I wasn't expecting anything huge and terrifying from Tropical Storm Edouard, or however it's spelled, but I was rather disappointed with what we got.

Nary a thunderclap, not one bolt of lightning. No flooding. Power? Not a blink.

I know, I should be thankful that we didn't get hit hard. But that's what is exciting about storms. It's what I wanted to see.

In other news, I found a pretty good will template, so now I have a draft for wills and for POAs. I just need some customers.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Rock You Like a Hurricane

I know, it's trite. It's jejune. It's stupid. But with the Tropical Storm Eduard(o) coming to town, it feels like it's just corny enough.

We'll see how it looks when it gets here, but it shouldn't be too bad - particularly on the north side of the city. However, one of the models has the eye going through Downtown, which could put some of the heavy wind and rain right over us. We're still a ways inland, so we're going to hunker down and not worry too much.

I'm so tired.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Movies

We watched Searching for Bobby Fischer today. It's one of my favorites - not just because it's about chess, but because it is a good story.

The ABA journal recently came out with a new issue that lists the top 25 law movies of all time. I won't do the whole list, because it's 25, but the top five are all movies I have seen or would like to see (or would like to own):

1. To Kill a Mockingbird. This is one of the top ten movies of all time, in my opinion. It's not quite as good as Citizen Kane, which is the best movie ever, though I've never seen it (that was for you, Photog), but it really is a good film. It holds your attention - it held my attention as a 9th grader who wasn't interested in anything.

2. Twelve Angry Men. I watched this one in Junior High, as well and while I didn't pay as much attention to it, I remember bits about it and remember it as one I'd like to pick up someday - a great study.

3. My Cousin Vinny. I probably would not have ranked this one in the top 25 myself, but it's a good film, with perhaps the best opening argument ever: "Everything that guy just said is bullshit."

4. Anatomy of a Murder. I watched this in Criminal Trial Advocacy. While the class setting and the constant pausing of the film for the professor to explain finer points of law wore on me, the movie itself was actually pretty good.

5. Inherit the Wind. This is the story of the Scopes Monkey Trial. This trial is one of the cases that first interested me in the law in the first place. I've not seen this movie; someday I will.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

There's Already a Way Around It

As I often do, I was reading Americans United this morning. I found a couple articles that I thought interesting, but one stood out. President Bush has made little secret of his pro-life stance. The jurisprudence of the country has made no exception for health care providers, pharmacists, etc., who refused to provide prophylactics because it conflicted with their position against birth control. Now, it should be no secret that for the majority of people in this situation, this conviction against birth control is religious in nature. This is where the problem comes in.

You see, President Bush wants to pass legislation that would "deny federal funding to any hospital, clinic, health plan or other entity that does not accommodate employees who want to opt out of participating in care that runs counter to their personal convictions." (quote from the link provided). You see, President Bush wants to force these facilities to allow employees to not fill birth control prescriptions. This is unfortunate, that he wants to legislate according to his religious beliefs.

I don't begrudge the President his religious convictions. But I do take issue with him using his position to influence others to comport with his religious convictions. If these individuals have a problem with providing the legal care requested of their patients, then they have an alternative - they can take another job. It's really that simple. You don't need to hold the hospital or pharmacy hostage by denying them money because of a religious principle. There's no call for that at all.

Friday, August 01, 2008

July 2008 Texas Bar Exam is over

What did you think? Hard? Not too bad? Ready to take it again in the spring? Think you nailed it? What sections gave you fits and which ones were not too bad?

We like to know.