Monday, December 27, 2010

Calling the Kettle Black

This is not the first of its kind, or the last of its kind. I have read several cases from several jurisdictions that are unfortunately similar.

I come across these cases because I'm in the middle of writing a piece that reviews every United States Court of Appeals' line of decisions that interpret "reasonable accommodation" from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Reasonable Accommodation specifically comes into play when an employer has discriminated against an employee on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.


Peterson v. Hewlett-Packard Co., comes from the 9th Circuit. 358 F.3d 599 (9th Cir. 2004). The plaintiff, Richard Peterson, sued Hewlett-Packard for "terminating him on account of his religious views and that HP failed to accommodate his religious beliefs." Id. at 601. Another case of big corporation beating up on the little guy, right? Not so much . . .

The reason that Peterson was fired was because of insubordination. Id. at 602. Hewlett-Packard began a diversity campaign by hanging posters all over the workplace. Id. at 601. One in particular showed an employee above the caption, "Black," "Blonde," "Old," "Gay," or "Hispanic." Id.

Now, Mr. Peterson describes himself as a "devout Christian," Id. As a devout Christian, Mr. Peterson sought to expose evil when confronted. Id. He saw these posters as confronting his Biblical beliefs; the one that read "Gay" in particular. Subsequently, he posted scriptures over the posters. One reading from II Corinthians, one from Isaiah, and one from the dreaded Leviticus passage . . . dun dun dun . . . ! Of course, these scriptures all relate to homosexuality being a sin and therefore warrantying condemnation (scripturally, God's condemnation at judgment, not Mr. Peterson's interpretation of man's condemnation from 9-5).

According to Mr. Peterson's own testimony, these posters were "intended to be hurtful." Id. at 602. When Hewlett-Packard attempted to allowe Mr. Peterson to remove the posters he declined and HP gave him the ol' boot to the streets. And then Mr. Peterson sued based on religious discrimination . . . And that's the Pot calling the Kettle black . . . or at least gay.

I wonder what Jesus would say about such things . . . Well I'm glad you asked, because I'm sure he did say something about how to treat other people. I think at one point, he may have said, "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35. He also said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:6. He instructed, "Love your enemies . . ." Matthew 5:43.

Paul, the most prolific New Testament writer stated, "Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:10. So now I can ask, without being judgmental, "What was this Peterson clown thinking?" I know it's easy to get caught in the moment and act VERY un-Christian. But, making a stand against a person in the name of Christ because they are "sinners" is like an illiterate in a library. It's not productive.

All groups can, and should, make stands against ideologies that they don't believe in. Debate is one of the great things in which Truth is found. However, people should not use discrimination, hate, or slurs to propagate their positions. After all, the balance between loving people and hating people really is an easy one to strike. LOVE PEOPLE! That is, if you're a devout Christian. And do celebrate diversity, it could be another opportunity to "fulfill the law."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Social Injustice

Innocent until proven guilty. And if proven guilty, not punished as if you were innocent. At least if you are a Hollywood celebrity.

Why is there such a divergence between justice for celebrities and the rest of us? And then further divergence for black male athletes . . .

A few examples:
1) Lindsay Lohan has been in court for violating probation, drug charges, and a DUI. She was actually sentenced to ninety days in prison followed by a three month rehabilitation program. She did actually go to jail . . . for FOURTEEN DAYS! Then she went to her three month rehab program . . . for TWENTY-THREE days! And now she is back on the scene (at least she was at the Dream Center in LA the other day, according to her Twitter page).

2) Paris Hilton was arrested for cocaine possession. She was arrested although she said it wasn't hers, she didn't know it was there, and that it was gum. She plead guilty to cocaine possession, obstructing an officer, and paid her $2,000 fine. She is supposed to complete 200 hours of community service and is on a one year suspended sentence. However, the fine is less than the purse she carries. So really, if the average woman gets arrested for cocaine possession, they should be fined around $100 and go on their way . . .

3) Charlie Sheen has been in the news several times for domestic abuse, drug abuse, and other things. His latest debacle includes admitting to cocaine use while causing $7,000 worth of damage to a hotel room. Oh, and the police found a woman locked in the hotel bathroom. His punishment? Taken to a hospital for observation and released. The case was dropped by NYPD.

(I won't take the space to discuss the Ben Rothlisberger stunt but the justice system turned its blind eye while the Steelers are exacting punishment . . .)

What do these instances tell us? I don't know, what do you think this tells American society? Does it tell us to get rich and famous to circumvent the law? Does it tell us idolize these people further for their ability to rise above the law? Does it tell us that the rest of us are bad enough for punishment and escape the mercy of forgiveness?

Take a look at the link provided: It is a list of mostly black athletes that have been convicted and serve jail sentences. The charges include assault and trying to use a cell phone to set up a drug deal. (Another question for another day is, "Are black athletes punished more harshly because the crimes are more violent?)


I think the our justice system fails everyone in American when the divergence between social, financial, and racial classes is marked and obvious. It is a sad commentary on the obsessions of America

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Future of Disbelief

I wonder why it seems that our culture is slower to believe. Is it because our lack of knowledge and learning, or because we are increasing our knowledge through mediums like the internet and access to formal education. You be the judge.

This statement was made during a recent exchange between friends on a social network, "There was NO Jesus, unless you believe in fairy tales that is." This could be a simple lack of precision, but I do think that it is more than that. It reminded me of this:
When I was in history class in high school, we were discussing the Middle East and its culture, its religions, etc. One student raised his hand and said (and it has been a long time so this isn't a perfect quotation) , "You can't teach me that Jesus lived, and I don't believe that he did." To this the teacher retorted, "Jesus was an historical figure, based on historical fact. But you do not have to believe his claims, that he was God and man, and the Savior of the world."
As an aside: " . . .unless you believe in fairy tales that is," is a very interesting idea tacked on to "There was NO Jesus." I say this because there is SO much nonsense that people believe that has no logical merit in their search for meaning. For instance, Nietzsche's idea of "Nothing matters, and so what if it does" nihilistic approach is almost swallowed whole by those with lofty desires to be seen as academic and mentally forward.

However, I've never thought it  lofty or academic to believe in an illogical assumption for the sake of sounding intelligent. If there is no objective morality, then it cannot matter what anyone does, whether it is Jesus claiming he's a god, or Timothy McVeigh killing 168 innocent people in domestic terrorism, or Hitler gassing six million Jews. If you think ANY one of these events is wrong, then you must concede that you believe in objective morality. Unless you want to believe that you alone set the boundaries of morality. Even in that case you must believe in objective morality and that you decide its objectivity.

So is, "There is NO Jesus . . ." simply an assertion of the desire to believe that Jesus is not our Savior, an assertion of poor education, or an assertion of the nonsense that our culture has been swallowing whole, gizzards included? Like I stated in my last post, I'm a skeptic. But I'm a skeptic for untruths and poor reasoning. I believe truth when, and if, I can ascertain it. And if an idea points to nowhere, and comes from the same, I cannot believe it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Skepticism: The Glass is Half Real

I'm a skeptic. I just am. It's hard for me to hear a statement and believe it hook, line, and sinker (maybe it's because I've never really fished). I want evidence of the fact asserted. I want concrete findings.

I'm going to relay an example by telling of a message I was told of another's message. So there will be a loss of communication and probably a loss in the original speaker's theme. However, it is a good example.

I was told that a talk show host had a Rabbi on the show. They were discussing the Tower of Babel and the implications for today's society. The Rabbi was explaining the Hebrew practices for establishing monuments to God through the compiling of stones. Stones were used as representations of people because every stone is different, like every person. The Tower of Babel was constructed with uniform bricks made by Nimrod. These bricks were designed to be exactly the same. The Rabbi posited that the Tower of Babel was a work of uniformity between the people and the use of uniform bricks was significant in that process. At this point, I'm still with the speaker in tacit acquiescence.

The analogy was made that our current society is similar to that of Babylon. We, like those building the Tower of Babel, are trying to be more alike in our thinking and living. We are trying to forego our personal differences in an attempt to live in harmony.

Then the Hebrew root of the word "mortar" was described. It means "materialism." It was stated that materialism is holding our society together. So, the assertion was that the story of the Tower of Babel is unbelievably similar to today's society in that we are becoming more uniform and being held together by materialism. And that the Bible is amazingly accurate in its portrayal of the United States of America in 2010 through a story written about the origins of different languages. Of course, all of these ideas must follow the presumption that the Bible has centered its themes on the United States and that the US will be the focal point in history. That is doubtful. If one considers the way the Bible is laid out in form and focus, it seems that the focal point in history is the Nation of Israel and God's people: The Jews.

But of course, that's just one skeptic's opinion.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Little Drummer Boy

Conundrum - noun: 1. a riddle, the answer to which the answer involves a pun or a play on words. 2. anything that puzzles. Wikipedia puts it more appropriately for the following situation: "a logical postulation that evades resolution."

Here in Missouri (I know it is happening across the United States) there is a very real problem. The Constitution is at stake. Justice is at stake. Inalienable rights are at stake. The Missouri State Public Defender (MSPD) Office closed its offices for a specific window of time. When I saw the news clipping I wondered how indigent criminals would receive equal access to their Sixth Amendment Constitutional right of "Assistance of Counsel." So in lays (yes, the past tense of "lie," as in recline) the problem.

1) The MSPD closed its office because the attorneys are working up to 100% more than is feasible to ensure adequate representation. There is a body of researchers that has compiled how many hours and how many cases a public defender can carry before they begin to sacrifice their own ability to represent the accused properly. Attorneys are under an ethical duty to represent their clients adequately, or risk forfeiture of their license. Almost every defender in Missouri has a significantly higher than suggested caseload. The MSPD has initiated a suit to require more funds to hire more attorneys. The case has been picked up by the Supreme Court of Missouri and the MSPD could receive more funding or stay in the pressure cooker. Why not appoint private attorneys and keep tax costs low?

2) Appointing private attorneys has two poor choices: 1) appoint attorneys that do not have criminal law experience, 2) appoint attorneys that get paid more than the court given fee. This is why appointing private attorneys does not solve the problem. The accused could receive poor representation because of the attorney's lack of skill or lack of incentive (or lack of care). I know, we (attorneys) are supposed to do the right thing . . . the patriotic thing . . . the civic duty thing . . . Realistically, we're all not idealistic all the time.

3) Missouri prosecutors are countering the suit to make sure that the MSPD does not receive additional funding and reopens its doors to indigents. They argue that the MSPD is holding the judicial system and tax-payers hostage by restricting the amount of cases their attorneys take. Well then, just make the MSPD take on the extra cases and represent those that need it!

4) "Let's start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start . . ." Now we're back to the MSPD attorneys being overworked. Oh, and I almost forgot! Public Defenders are among the lowest paid attorneys in the business. So they're not just overworked, they're underpaid.

Where in lays the solution? I don't know. If less people needed representation, the problem may alleviate itself. It seems that more criminals need to be wealthier, or more criminals need to be less criminal. Are the laws too strict? Is punishment not swift or harsh enough?

The Missouri State Public Defender Offices represent the poor. They are poor boys too, pa rum pum pum pum. They play their conundrum for them, pa rum pum pum pum. They play their best for them, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum . . .

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Natives are Getting Restless

So my wife and I are invited to a local coffee shop. Although I lived in the area for years, I have not lived in the area for three years. My wife and I have been BACK in the area for three months. In the three years I was out-to-sea a local coffee shop was started, and started picking up steam. We have heard much about this place from many different people. And many different types of people. The light bulb in our heads shone light on a new place that could prick our interests. . . and so we went . . .

I ordered a double espresso. My drink of choice at any coffee bar. It's like getting a cheese pizza from a New York pizzeria. It tells the whole story. The New York cheese slice is like knowing that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. It lends purpose to the establishment. If the cheese slice is good, so will be the spinach and broccoli calzone. And so is the story with espresso. If the espresso is good, so will be the cappuccino and so on.

My wife orders a caramel latte. Praise the Lord! The espresso was so bad, I had to chase every sip with a gulp of sugary, sweet, frothiness. This double espresso was how Mark Twain described the Mississippi River: "too thick to drink, too thin to plow." Every sip was filled with bitters. And not like espresso bitter, but more like Kina Lillet Bitters. And it gave me the bitterbeer/Baldknobbers face. Simply put, it was skunky espresso.

This native shop continues to rack up points in the native's minds. It seems the natives are too suped up on caffeine to tell the difference between an espresso and an espresso.

(I'm listening to the "The Natives are Restless Tonight" by Horace Silver on the jazz album Song for my Father. If you haven't heard it, you should take the time to go to Amazon.com and preview every song. It could change your idea of jazz (for jazz haters). The song" Que Pasa" sums up my idea of jazz.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How Video Games Have Shaped My Life

From fashion to accomplishments, from skills to marriage, video games have impacted my life. Our culture is one that has been built on electronic images. Nobody can understand what life would be like without electronic images because everyone alive today has experienced it through one form or another: movies, TV, print advertising, etc. Many understand how powerful movies can be - the social impact they can achieve. Similarly, the social strength of video games is not debated. Instead of watching, you actually take control of your character, becoming the persona.

What is debated is whether they bring positive or negative consequences. The favorite argument given is that video games are harmful because someone that played first-person shooters killed some people. To my knowledge, there is not a game in which you can be a pedophile, but there are too many of those people out there. I doubt they can pin their disgusting behavior to Halo or World of Warcraft. Even so, I concede that video games can have a negative impact on a person. But I just don't see that as the majority.

Personally, my life is filled with representations from video games. I started playing video games at two years old. The system: Atari 2600. The game: The Empire Strikes Back. I soon graduated to Mario Bros. on the Nintendo. I rescued Toad way too many times in search of the Princess, now known as Peach. As games progressed, graphics became more realistic, and the music became gripping (Nobuo Uematsu has scored much of my life through the Squaresoft titles).

I have a 1st Degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Not because I knew anyone with that skill, or because I needed protection. The reason? The Tekken series. I saw Baek from Tekken 2 fight one time and wanted his skills. The style was graceful, fierce, and fast. My desire to emulate an emulation drove me to acquire a skill I am proud of (and helped attract my wife . . .)

I own a handgun. Time Crisis is to blame. Hiding behind objects amidst a battlefield of innumerable uniformed guards was intense and exhilarating. The best part was holding a replica gun with recoil action. It gave me a desire to own one for myself. Now I have the equipment to protect my family.

My favorite (and my wife's) coat that I wear today was based on the one that Squall from Final Fantasy VIII wears. I actually searched for such a coat for seven years before I found it. But I did. (Anything familiar about his name?)

But, on to more important things: my wife. 
Seeing the world of archeology from behind Lara Croft was a fascinating thing. She is strong, agile, quick, courageous, and independent. The character of Lara Croft was no doubt created for a male-centered video game market. However, Tomb Raider was wildly popular with both males and females. For women, Lara Croft personifies what they desire if they could stay away from work or stay away from home. For men, Lara Croft personifies the external attitudes of what they desire in a woman. Unfortunately, most men couldn't (or wouldn't want to) handle a strong-willed, independent, quick-thinking, do-it-herself woman. However, this personality is one that I desired. Of course, without the quick-tempered, gun-blazing consequences of disagreement.

I somehow found just what I was looking for. But my wife is hotter than Lara, even when she is dressed like Lara (Halloween proved that to me). Another thing that Lara doesn't have that my wife does is the ability to play, and beat me, in Tekken

I stopped finding toads and finally found the Princess, now known as Saundra. My wife and my relationship is like that of Mario and Princess in Mario Kart: Double Dash. She holds on to the back of my cart while tossing obstacles at my competitors and shoves us away from cliffs as I power-drift us around the turns of life and on to victory. 

 . . . all because of the power of video games.



Friday, November 19, 2010

"The More You Know"

Today I played the part of a substitute teacher at a University in the area. I was instructing undergraduate Pre-Law students on how to brief a case. I am one that does not really do something unless I understand the reason for why I am doing it. "Reason" does not adequately catch the meaning. I should say that I must understand the PURPOSE for doing something. As I was instructing these neophytes on why briefing is important, I almost said, "Knowledge is power." I didn't. I try to stay under three clich├ęs a day. I had already exceeded that restriction, so I kept the idea to myself. However, I did instantly recall two vivid instances that recently occurred in my life.

Instance one: Several weeks ago I was on the phone with an adverse party. I was laying the groundwork for the position my client wants to take in a contract battle. As I was nauseatingly explaining the basics of evidence at a jury trial, the voice on the other end said, "There won't be a jury. Your client signed an arbitration agreement . . ." As I sat uncomfortably silent, expression like a deer in headlights, I felt crippled. I felt incompetent. I felt defeated. I felt powerless.

Instance two: Again on the phone. A different day, a different adverse party. This time, while the other voice was explaining to me how they thought claims are settled (or more precisely, how little my client should be settling for), I simply indicated that my client is beyond settling and will initiate a law suit. The other voice shot back, "How do you have jurisdiction?" When I precisely and cogently explained how civil procedure in Federal Courts works, I heard the same deafening silence I experienced a week prior. The other voice quickly retreated to a conversation closing comment and vanished. I sat comfortably silent, expression like a champion prize fighter. I felt accomplished. I felt victorious. I felt powerful.

That's the precipice I stand on daily. The precipice of knowing/not knowing. I can easily slip to one side or the other. Most of the time I make sure I slip to the "knowing" side. I do so with preparation, research, and outlining my conversations. I take these painstaking steps to ensure that I have the knowledge I need. I understand that greater success is a direct result of the more I know.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Salute our Military, Past and Present. God Bless America!

A very, very, very warm and sincere thank you to our veterans that have served in all the wars in American history. A very special thank you and appreciation to those that offered their lives for those of us who enjoy the freedoms American has given us. An especially warm and sincere thank you to my wife that served in the Air Force for 6 years active duty and 2 years reserve; I love you. Thank you!

Tribute to Our Veterans Video

Please watch and honor our vets!

Fare thee well!

The Prime Minister of Britain announced that Great Britain would begin a massive overhaul of their welfare system. He wants to cut $29 billion from the welfare bill by using a simply logical approach. He thinks those who "persistently reject work" should give up their $105 weekly payment. Brits that refuse to go out and get employment could lose their benefits for up to three years. The report stated that 1.4 million people in GB have been on the welfare system for over a decade.

The United States spent . . . wait for it . . . hold on to something . . . $714 BILLION (raise pinky finger backward to right side of mouth, a la Dr. Evil) in fiscal year 2008. Some of the criticism, including my own, include the idea that some of the people collecting welfare benefits are doing nothing to contribute to society. And the system is set up so they really do not need to. This type of system does not motivate successful or disciplined behavior. Instead, it tells Americans, "Please do not participate in growing our country. Please drain the lives of those around you by letting them support you." AND SOME ACTUALLY LISTEN AND OBEY!

Workfare: "A form of welfare in which capable adults are required to perform work, often in public-service jobs, as a condition of receiving aid" (not my definition, but a good one to boot). If Workfare were required in all the states, and not just some, our country could benefit massively. Or if even the benefits of those on welfare, that are capable of working, were restricted until those recipients were willing to work, the US could benefit.

I hope that President Obama follows Prime Minister Cameron's lead and says "Fare thee well" to the current welfare system.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

Our Western society has a problem with elders. It seems to reject the wisdom of years and the experience of the aged. It is always looking for the next best new thing while tossing out the old. Younger adults portray more competence than their older counterparts - and they believe it. The Western culture is individualistic - my car, my job, my self. The Eastern culture places a heavy weight the experience of their elders. The Eastern culture is personified - our family, our country, our home. I believe our culture does us a disservice by extinguishing the effect of our elders.

Mark Twain remarked one time, "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." The November issue of "AARP Bulletin" printed a mini-article entitled, "No Verdict on Retirement for This Judge." The write up describes the oldest sitting judge, the Honorable Wesley E. Brown of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, as "sharp as ever." Judge Brown just turned 103 years this past June. He has been a judge for the last 48 years. His clerk has been with him for the last 23 years. (When I interned with the Honorable Charles E. Poston, his practice was to cut the clerks loose every year so he could train them into valuable lawyers. I wonder who is more the judge at this point: Judge Brown or his clerk.) His closest competitor is the Honorable Dan Russell of the Southern District of Mississippi - age 97.

Can judges, at that point in their life, still adequately adjudicate? Good ol' Ben Franklin said, "Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late." Judges Brown and Russell have had a few years to get wise.

Twenty years ago, John Ashcroft, then Governor of Missouri, took a case to the Supreme Court that paints a delicious picture of this debate. Gregory v. Ashcroft, 501 U.S. 452 (1991). The Missouri Constitution was amended to require Missouri judges to retire at age 70. The Governor wondered if judges beyond the age of 70 could properly administer justice. This question reached the Supreme Court and the final decision was rendered on June 20, 1991. The Justices rendered a 7-2 decision ALLOWING the limit on judges and found it was not age discrimination. Can you spot the two judges that dissented based on their ages? The judges, listed by seniority (on the court, not age) were the following ages AT THE TIME of the opinion:

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, born 1924, age 66 - majority
Byron White, born 1917, age 74 - majority
Thurgood Marshall (the first African-American justice), born 1908, age 82 - dissent
Harry Blackmun, born 1902, age 88 - dissent
John Paul Stevens, born 1920, age 71 - majority
Sandra Day O'Connor, born 1930, age 61 - delivered the majority opinion
Antonin Scalia, born 1936, age 54, majority
David Souter (was just appointed during the Court's term), born 1939, age 51 - majority

The Court's reasoning was based on very clever arguments by the Governor: 1) Judges are not "employees" and do not fall under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) classification and therefore cannot be subject to discrimination, and 2) the Fourteenth Amendment does not give them equal protection (meaning the State of Missouri is a sovereign that can make that law).

Back to our Senior (citizen) judges: Brown and Russell. These judges were 84 and 78 at the time that opinion was handed down. And they've been on the Federal bench ever since. I do not discredit these judges. My father is 76 and his mind may be sharper now than I have known it in the past. Even though his body tells another story, his mind is as agile as a 30 year old.

However, there is a point that our aged friends may be on the back end of competence or sound reasoning. For instance, all the Supreme Court Justices under 80 voted the same way. Even those in their 70s saw the law the same. This case even brought ideologies together: Stevens and Scalia, Souter and Rehnquist. I do not think this opinion was based on ideology but personal flavor. Which may give some introspection into why Marshall and Blackmun dissented. Now, do not get me wrong, not ALL 80 year olds are on the back end. Not all 90 year olds are. But it may be worth it to judge each judge on an individual basis, allowing for the fact that too much experience can be detrimental.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Toyota May Be Just-In-Time

AutoNation, Inc.'s chairman and chief executive, Michael Jackson (he promises that the kid is not his son), encouraged American consumers at the end of October by stating, "We continue to see a gradual recovery in the U.S. auto industry, but it's pretty tough out there."

General Motors is breaking records as well. It made its first profit since 2004 (talk about a good investment for the US . . . [it would have been better to sell half of it to Fiat . . .])! It actually profited the first quarter of 2010.

On the other side of the world, Toyota Motor Corporation, the world's biggest automaker, is once again increasing its performance. In the last three months, its revenue grew 5.8% - a measly $59.58 billion. I wonder how much better they could do if the US (or Japan for that matter) would spot them an extra $25 billion. In your dreams! (I had that nightmare in 2008, but the company was GM.)

I would encourage "The Big Two and a Half" (that includes the remaining 65% or more of Fiat owned Chrysler) to steal another play from the Toyota Motor Corp. coaching staff. The first play they stole was Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing. And it paid off big time. Toyota used its Samurai ways and created a streamlined manufacturing process that decreased wasted time, movement, and space. It increased oversight measures and developed three page long mathematical calculations to determine the best minute of the day to order the correct parts. This allowed them to minimize storage costs, wait-times, and assembly line foul ups. JIT is the basic standard for manufacturing processes.

Why can't the Three Stooges of the American auto industry figure out what Toyota does best (make money) and try to emulate the mysticism (after all, if Tom Cruise can become a Samurai . . .). I know its hard out there in a big open world with competing pressures. Find what you're good at and try that. We all know that GM has not been good at making money. In that vein, learn from the pros and fire the cons.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"The Times They Are A-Changin'"

"Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’."
~Bob Dylan

Last night I watched a political climate change that hasn't happened in 70 years. The GOP regained more than 60 seats in the House of Representatives to hold a 239 majority. The last time a swing of this magnitude occurred was in the 1938 midterm elections when the GOP gained 72 seats. I hope that I can paint a picture of what the 2010 midterm elections mean to Americans by recounting the state of America in 1938.

FDR was pushing his third New Deal project. He had an overwhelming following in the election of 1936. The GOP had been struggling the previous eight years. FDR seemed to be unstoppable. And may have been had he not been the end of himself. His confidence lead to a court packing scheme that shifted the tide even in Democrat circles. His plan was to make a law that increased the number of Supreme Court Justices to twelve from nine. That way he could appoint three more judges that suited his political agenda. He expected others to die during his term and would then appoint others that also suited his politics.

Amidst a steadying Great Depression, the Roosevelt Recession pushed the unemployment rate up to 20%. Union violence escalated. A Gallup poll showed 66% of Americans wanted FDR to pursue conservative politics. He didn't.

"Que the '38 midterm elections please!" In comes a true "switch-in-time" that saves more than nine Justices. This one saved the GOP and the American people. After the House went to the GOP with a gain of 72 seats, the GOP controlled politics until 1958.

This short history lesson cannot truly convey the major political upheaval that America experienced by trying to pull a marauding President in from a drastically changed landscape.

Today is just a little bit of history repeating. Obama has given the American people rhetoric, lip-service, and a plan for two years. He has been the Democrats' President for two years. He has been pushing agendas that have grown the deficit by more than $3 trillion since he took office. The unemployment rate is at 9.6%.

America has decided to take the country back from a marauding President with an abnormally progressive agenda.

My "Hope" is that this midterm election "shakes [Obama's] windows and rattles [his] walls, for the times they are a-changin'."

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Oh the places you'll go . . ."

Campaign season is almost over; which means it is in full swing, using a full-court press, making a goal-line stand. Candidates are giving their final push into the larger voting markets while making bigger and better promises. Campaign offices have the lights on later and later as they attempt to persuade the names in their phone banks and hit the addresses in select neighborhoods. Volunteer staff eyes are red and burning, heads are aching, and feet are throbbing. So I ask, "What's the point . . .?"

This past Saturday, my wife and I arrived at the local GOP headquarters at 7:45 a.m. We had breakfast and then jumped in a truck with an older couple to canvass the area with literature. We knocked on 79 doors in state-university neighboring areas. A progressive area; a low-income, rental property area; and an educated area. We saw a number of different types of people. We interfaced with as many ideologies as we saw people. We were surprised with the stratified support.

Even for an attorney with nerves of steel never at a loss of words, there is a discomfort that comes with knocking on someone's door at nine in the morning to remind them to vote for my party member. Even in the Red State we live in, we were in a remarkably blue neighborhood. This added to the discomfort. Then there was the self proclaiming unable-to-vote-convicted-felon. This too added to the discomfort. Then there was the 3.4 mile walk to hit the doors in a logical order. The discomfort continued to mount. I become acutely aware of my tiring, stiffening legs. More discomfort . . .

Back at the ranch, we decide to get to calling the phone bank calling list. On the other end of every other call awaits an uninvited berating. Then the hang ups. This job is not for the sensitive or emotional. The cold and stoic win.

What a way to spend a half-day! If I would have known what my wife and I were in for . . . I would do it again every single time. Why? Not because I'm a masochist. Not because I'm a self loathing martyr. It is because I care about the current and future state of our culture and society. Because I will not stand idly by and watch our county be given over to traitors and terrorists. Because I will not complain about the poor choice of candidacy after the election without doing all I can to provide a better choice for candidacy before the election.

We are all subject to the same duty: the duty to keep freedom in America. There is only one way to keep freedom. By fighting for it. Whether by proactive campaign measures or on the front lines of battle, it will be fought for. Let's ask former President Ronald Reagan what he thinks and let him wrap us up.

LION HEARTED: "Mr. Reagan, how can we keep freedom and why it is important to do so now?
MR. REAGAN: "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

Friday, October 29, 2010

“. . . you will look Lawyerly.”

Judge Chamberlain Haller admonishes Vincent “Vinny” LaGuardia Gambini for not wearing the appropriate attire to court. This year, as last year, my wife and I will look lawyerly on All Hallow’s Eve. We are going to subject ourselves to the continuing and rapid degradation of Western Society. We are dressing up as Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, and Birdgirl, his trusty legal sidekick.

We are going to the downtown area, getting a corner window seat at a busy intersection, and will watch the parade of party go-ers, clubbers, and costumed youth. We expect to comment, laugh, and look, “visually, with our eyes” at the amazing, clever, cute, and sordid. We will leave with more social distaste than we need. We will leave with more social conversation than can fill a public forum outside of Post Office sidewalks.

This display of First Amendment rights will be the most colorful (outside of a gay-rights parade in NYC), joyful (outside of African-American newscasters when President Obama was elected), and irreverent (outside of an Islam-excepted-moratorium-on-national-prayer-at-a-breakfast). And we’re going to watch the spectacle with front row seats . . . while looking lawyerly.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Your Reputation Proceeds Me

I received a call from a prospective client a few weeks ago. The person called on the second to last day of the statute of limitations (SOL). (A statute of limitation is a legal cutoff date that bars any action after that date.) He tells me of his problem, and his desire in the action, and of his previous experience with an attorney . . .

He had an attorney on the case for the last year. He had an attorney on the case for the entire time before the SOL. He had an attorney that would not return his calls. He had an attorney that too many people in need are familiar with. He had an attorney that gave the rest of us a bad name.

Will I neglect a case in the future? Probably. Will I make mistakes that do not serve my clients interest? Almost guaranteed. Will I leave my client wondering why attorneys are so unhelpful and so highly paid? I pray I never do.

Everything I do as a professional is an advertisement for my ability to serve others. If I'm late to my dentist appointment, or worse yet (depending of your view) drunk at a baseball game, I'm telling the world, "I can help you, although you can't rely on my word, and you can't count on my controlling myself."

You, attorney that has ignored your client; or taken advantage of them financially; or encouraged divorce to make a quick buck, your reputation "proceeds" me. And I'm fighting to renew the profession's reputation without having had a chance to display it.