Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why I Can't Take the East Coast Media Seriously When They Pretend To Take California Seriously

On a day when all the candidates are in California, we find this geographic oddity in the very first line of a Slate article on the state of the campaign:

For the first time today, all of the presidential candidates are east of the Mississippi.

How about free maps for all political journalists!

It's fun for everyone when the DC media mob -- which occasionally goes years without making it west of 36th & M in Georgetown -- starts to write deep-think pieces about California. Alas, we're in for 120 hours of bad puns ("The candidates head to La-La land..."), cliches ("It's hard to campaign in a state as diverse as California"), decades-stale demographic pronouncements ("In order to appeal to Latino voters, the candidates will stay in San Diego and Los Angeles"), incorrect political pronouncements ("The Schwarzenegger endorsement of McCain will go a long way with hard-core Republican voters in California who have their doubts about the Senator's conservative credentials"), misunderstood highway denominations ("Obama will then head down the 101"), the conflation of different regions ("Reaching out to his Silicon Valley constituency, Obama campaigns at Glide Memorial in San Francisco "), and general medicinally induced wonder ("Wow, this is a big state.").

I'll keep my eyes peeled for the best (worst) in East Coast pundit-ing about us, but I invite readers to do the same.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Next Kennedy?

Sunday, Caroline Kennedy wrote a New York Times editorial endorsing Barack Obama for president. She wrote that qualities of "leadership, character, and judgment" were more important in this election than policy choices and experience. She compared Obama to her father, saying that both men shared a vision of the American Dream that people desperately needed to believe in.

Monday, Senator Edward M. Kennedy made a public announcement that he too would be supporting Obama's campaign. The article mentioned that after he learned of Ms. Kennedy's op-ed piece, he decided to make his support public.

I'm not sure what the Kennedy's stand to gain by endorsing one candidate over another. It doesn't seem likely that the clan will produce another JFK. Perhaps, by adopting Obama, they are trying to recreate the past, to bring another idealistic young man into the office of the presidency. Certainly there's still a kind of magic still surrounding the Kennedy name. Evoking an image of the young JFK, the Kennedy's say Obama can "inspire" and "change" the country.

I would ask one question. Has the tide of the country changed so much in the past forty years that its governance is now too complex for the idealists, impossible for any but the experienced and vetted to navigate with any sort of certainty?


Someone Out There IS Thinking!

I'm not exactly Cell Phone Guy (most days I don't even carry it with me), but I think this idea is flippin' cool:

BART is beginning a four month test of near-field technology for ticket sales. If successful, it would allow people to pay for a ticket automatically as their phone passes through the gate. No more standing in line at the ticket dispenser, nor more dealing with Petition Guy as he solicits your signature in said line, Guitar Player Guy as he vies with Petition Guy for your attention, and no more paying 4.00 for that 3.40 ride.

Of course, it could guarantee a getaway for Mugger Guy who grabs your phone and sprints for the BART station . . .

Anyway, you might not be as thrilled as me [insert paranoid privacy concern here], but convince is always a selling point with me, and I hope the project works as well as planned.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Do you politically match your law firm?

This article will hopefully be interesting to the 80% of you Berkeley students who plan to head off to the world of Big Law.

From the article:

DLA Piper has given the largest amount to date, gifting $356,100 (£180,300) to Hillary Clinton’s cause, making the firm her top contributor. The donations have come from individual partners rather than the firm.

Sidley Austin has donated $203,325 (£103,000) to her main Democrat rival, Barack Obama. The candidate and his wife both previously worked in the firm’s Chicago office.

Other firms to have contributed include Kirkland & Ellis, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Greenberg Traurig, Patton Boggs and Latham & Watkins, all of which have given more than $100,000 (£50,600) to Clinton’s campaign.

UPDATE: try this link for more donation openness: here.

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More California Election Madness

California has a unique primary system. In past primary elections, "decline-to-state" voters could show up to their polling place and vote as either Republicans or Democrats by requesting the ballot.

However, for this year's CA presidential primary, the California Republican Party decided to not allow "decline-to-state" voters the opportunity to request and vote with a Republican ballot. The result is that any "decline-to-state" voter who wishes to have a say in one of the two important primary battles must vote the Democratic ballot, even if the individual would likely prefer to support the chances of a Republican candidate.

My initial reactions: (1) sucks for McCain; and (2) good for Obama - people who would have picked up that Republican ballot may now be grabbing that Democratic ballot for fun, and they really don't like Hillary.

Any other observations / predictions? What do you think?


A Little Help Here

I'd like some help from the N&B community. Like many of you, I'm sure, I've been seeing tons of ads both for and against Props 94-97, regarding Indian gaming. I'll admit to some ignorance on this one, and doing some research on the issues hasn't cleared things up for me. As is usually the case with these ballot propositions, there is so much misinformation, hidden special interests, and partisanship floating around that it is nearly impossible to get a clear idea of what the propositions will really do.

So, can anyone out there (objectively) tell me what these props are really going to do? And can anyone give an (informed) opinion on how you think we ought to vote?


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Confession of a 1L Gunner

Forgive me Armen, for I have sinned.

I have lusted after a professor. I have desired to know her - not in the Biblical sense, but as two intellectuals, united on a higher plane than that of ordinary mortals. I have waited, all semester, to feel the thrill of eye contact in a crowded classroom, that jolt of electricity when I asked a question that makes her search the vast library catalog in her head for the answer. The moment when she would realize that I, I above all students, was her intellectual equal.

I have felt wrath. How dare that professor assign me an H. An H! Can't he realize that my superior intellect and my razor-sharp wit entitle me to the highest possible grade? Even if my answers weren't the best in the class (which I'm sure they were), I should be given HH's simply on the basis of my study habits. I finished all my reading for every class over Thanksgiving Break, and had all my outlines done in March. Doesn't that deserve a top grade in and of itself?

I have also felt pride. I know it's a sin, but how can I not be proud of my prep school education and my Ivy League diploma? Besides, my daddy promised to get me a clerkship at the Supreme Court when I graduate. And he's paying my law school tuition. And my rent. And the payments on my new car. Of course I'm proud of my daddy. What girl wouldn't be?

I'm sorry for my sins. This semester will be different. I'll try to give the 2 and 3L's in my elective a chance to talk before I raise my hand. It's just so awkward when they don't volunteer... I have to do something about it, don't I? I'll try listening to what the other students have to say, too. I guess it's possible that they might have something worthy to contribute. Although I can't imagine what. I should probably stop telling everyone how smart I am and how great my daddy is. It's not a wrong to think it... is it?

What's that? You think I should spend time in prayer and contemplation? That's a great idea, but I'd better get working on my brief, if I want to get both the awards in WOA.

Thanks for listening to my confession. I feel better already.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

...Or You Could Call a Congressman

[Ashley, a 2L doing a field placement at the EFF, asked me to post what looks like a media release. Hyperlinks slightly modified by me. Enjoy. -- Armen]


As you may or may not know, this Monday there will be a vote on an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The current version awards both prospective and retrospective immunity to telecomms who assisted in the NSA warantless wiretapping program.

EFF has started a website, where users post photos and videos showing they are against telecomm immunity and government spying. We are trying to create as much media buzz as possible before Monday's vote.

Please, please, please take a few minutes today or over the weekend (the rain probably has you stuck inside anyway) to post a photo or a video to Also, if you could take a second and digg this (free registration required to vote for it) to bring more awareness, we would REALLY appreciate it.

If you'd like more information, visit this website.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Quick Notes From Dean Edley 3L Town Hall

- Edley and Shelanski were unwilling to talk about the drop in bar passage rates, claiming it is due to "very unfortunate circumstances," and that they will tell the student body when they find out the reasons.

- Edley & Shelanski: Class registration times are NOT based on your student ID number despite anecdotal evidence to the opposite.

- Ortiz and BarBri have been passing the buck back and forth over morning BarBri classes at Boalt. Stay tuned.

- Shelanski: Professors have absolute discretion over whether or not they post their teaching evaluations. Take home message: if someone doesn't have his or her evals posted, assume that professor sucks and received terrible evaluations.

Please add your observations and thoughts in the comments.

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Two Lunch Break Questions

When there's nothing good on TV at lunch, I get to reading (oh no!). Today, I got to wondering too:

1. Why hasn't the California Law Review updated its website? Here's the current issue. Sadly, no links to the articles. If you don't link to it, no one can read it folks...

2. But what's this? A patent article! Cool! Unfortunately, "Tamiflu, the Takings Clause, and Compulsory Licenses: An Exploration of the Government's Options for Accessing Medical Patents" was a disappointing read (I went on to Westlaw to pull a copy). This typo caused a chuckle: "Through such licenses, the government can infringe on and manufacture a patent for as long as necessary." Yes, thousands of beribboned documents for all!

But what seemed odd was that the author didn't explore the most sensible way for the government to use a patent: just negotiate a license. The article was instead premised on the government having to take the patent owner's intellectual property rights to be able to manufacture a medicine. My biggest concern: "taking" medical patents will destroy any incentive to do medical research. Yes, in this round, we get free Tamiflu. But next time that avian flu (or staph, or whatever) evolves a resistance to Tamiflu, there will be nothing to combat it because no one believed that they could recoup their costs by doing vaccine research. In my opinion, the article takes a dangerous approach by focusing only on compulsory licensing and takings as ways for the government to interact with patent holders.

Ok, I'll add a third thought. For anyone interested in the Eleventh Amendment issue and public university immunity, see this cert petition.

Back to work!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Won't Somebody Please Think of the Children?

[Illustrious Co-Blogger Disco Stu is having problems with Blogger. He asked me to post this in his stead. -- Armen]


Alumni, specifically Boalties who were there in 2003. Surely you've seen the news that you're getting a refund. It could be over $10,000 for some of you. I've got an idea. A wonderful awful idea. For those of you getting a refund and those of you able to afford it, give it back to Boalt. I'm not suggesting those of you in public service making $60K / year return this refund, although that would be great. I am suggesting those of you that took your summer job at 125K, then were at 135K by the time you started and are now making above 170K, give this money back to the school and state that has given so much to you. The state can't afford to hand out an extra $40+ million. Boalt surely can't afford to get reduced funds from the state.

Sure, this is easy for me to say, as I'm not getting a refund. And maybe I wouldn't be advocating giving back such a high lump-sum that could reduce my debts further. But I honestly think that if I got this money back from the state, I would return it to Boalt. And I think this for the same reason I don't mind that the democratic president I vote for will almost surely raise my taxes: I can afford it, others less fortunate than myself, cannot. Our state and Boalt needs money badly. And you're all in a position to give it to them.

Let's see this big hit for the state turn into a big win for Boalt.

Who's coming with me?

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Teach Me, Coach Me, but Prosecute HIM!

This NY Times article describes an example of what is, to me, the most compelling argument against the death penalty: sometimes we screw up.

The short version of the story is that Virginia prosecutors coached a witness to lie in order to achieve a murder conviction against his confederate. The slightly longer version is that for a decade the Virginia bar, for whatever reason, contributed exactly nothing to bringing forward allegations of prosecutor misconduct.

The article alludes to legal ethics. I would like to know the answer to this question: What legal ethics rule did the bar think they were enforcing? Assuming they dropped the ball (which, in fairness, may not be the case -- there could be more to the story than the Times has to say) how does one go about bringing charges of misconduct against the bar?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Freedom of the Press

While perusing the Oakland Tribune, I noticed an article about a 10-year-old boy who had been shot during his piano lesson. A stray bullet, shot during a robbery of the gas station across the street, had gone through the wall of the room he was in. This raises all sorts of wonderful questions about gun control (in response to the incident, Peralta is sponsoring a buyback program) and the Second Amendment (exactly, what do those, pesky commas mean, anyway?). I'm sure we'll debate it all to death when the Supreme Court rules on the DC gun control case.

According to the father,
"His heart twinged, he said, when he overheard Christopher telling a nurse he played center on the Crocker Highlands Elementary School basketball team. Afterward, "He said, 'Daddy, I don't want to be paralyzed,' and I didn't respond to him.""
I can understand wanting to wait to tell the kid he's going to be paralyzed for life until he's recovered a little more. What I don't understand is letting the national news media know before the kid does. Bad enough that he'll never play basketball again. How do you think he'll feel when he finds out that his classmates knew he before he did?

Then again, in a society where we frequently compete to see who can air the most dirty laundry on television, it doesn't surprise me much that common standards of decency are suspended for the sake of a good story.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Inmates Litigating Badly

A propos this and this.

Nevada Caucus Pregame

Things are getting exciting! If I know EW, he's already gone to Vegas to campaign...

I've been curious about the recently dismissed caucus lawsuit. I'm not familiar with the pleadings or the substance (here's one link on the odd math), but here's what troubled me. You are a service union member working in a casino. Your union has endorsed a candidate. Because of your job, you can only attend the unionized casino-worker-only caucus near your job site. Does anyone really think that worker has complete freedom to vote their true preference? The union caucus takes everything bad about caucuses (the bullying, viability requirements, and lack of a secret ballot), and compounds it by mixing it up with work. Is that illegal or unconstitutional? I have no idea (indeed, cf. New York state judge convention decision this week upholding questionable selection process). But it smells terrible in my opinion.

So here's my prediction: Obama carries the union caucuses at percentages much higher than the rest of the state. Controlling for income, ethnicity, etc., the results will still be disproportionately in his favor at those caucuses. At which point, I wonder if anyone else will feel a little bit queasy.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008


There are times when you think of something, wonder if you should share it, and then think better and are glad you did not. This does not appear to be one of those times.

Yesterday Apple’s Steve Jobs announced online movie rentals. He also proudly announced that 27% of the US smartphone traffic travels through an Apple device. Finally, he announced the release of a shiny new laptop, small enough to fit inside and A4 envelope, with scaled down hardware capabilities and scaled up wireless capabilities. It seems clear that Apple is hedging their bets on their ability to channel large shares of the consumer market through an Apple device. So . . . since large portions of the internets are devoted to “adult content,” and since (arguably) that cozy little room behind the closed door is the lifeblood of the neighborhood video store . . . will Apple’s thirst for market dominance tempt them to offer adult content through iTunes?

The Apple image, to me, is essentially the image portrayed by Steve Jobs in his advertisements – trendy, clean, neutral, yuppie-ish, etc. I do not think it is unrealistic to picture someone like Jobs when you try to conjure up a face for that mysterious term, “liberal elite.” That’s why, say, conservative fundamentalist mothers (and their various pastors) might freak out if they perceive iTunes to be pipelining pornography into their teenage son’s bedroom, and associate Apple with something from Revelations, and Jobs with, well, the devil. That’s a tad extreme, but you get the point. And that's all to say nothing about the radical (dare I say 'hysterical'?) left . . .

On the other hand, there is a lot of money lurking out there to be made. It does not take a genius to realize that “one click ordering” of adult content (through a service like iPorn?) could be a big, big money maker. Is that more or less money than the way-right and way-left bring in, such that alienating them would be worth it? Would the Assorted Outraged be likely to use the services anyway? Would anyone even care? Am I making a mountain from a mole hill?

My gut tells me that they will do it, but not until after iTunes movie rentals become more established. I couldn’t seem to get to sleep last night, and I used the service to rent “The Italian Job” (don’t bother). It worked very, and I think that market establishment will not take long at all.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Stop, restart.

Pity the poor students in Securities Litigation last semester. Everything they learned has been replaced. For those who get a kick out of snark, see part III of Stevens' dissent. Any deeper analysis than that will take time, there's a lot of substantive securities law and a lot of substantive legislative interpretation being hashed out in there.

Also, do the non-settling defendants in Enron look smarter or luckier today?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Bookbuying Woes

I noticed that the text for the Exempt Organization Seminar is egregiously expensive. The Law of Tax-Exempt Organizations, 8th ed. (ISBN 0471268208) is currently offered in the Boalt Bookstore at $187.50 for a used copy. This is the most expensive assigned text I have even seen. If anyone else is taking this class (and there can't be too many of you) I suggest you check out the Amazon Marketplace listings, where there are a few used copies around $20, and some new ones for $70.

UPDATE: The professor of the Exempt Organization Seminar was so appalled at the price of the assigned text that he decided to not require it for the course.

It's no secret that the bookstore here at Boalt (run by Ned's Books, not the university) is consistently the most expensive place to buy casebooks. Students are encouraged to buy our books at the Boalt store because there is a slight kickback of profits to BHSA. In fact, the Boalt administration is so invested in ensuring that students overpay for their casebooks at Ned's Books that it intentionally releases the list of assigned texts only one or two business days before classes start, in order to make online ordering difficult. Most students then end up going to the Boalt bookstore because they want to have their books in hand before classes start in order to do the first day's reading - as it is hard to find an online retailer who will deliver a Friday order to you by Sunday without charging an egregious shipping fee (buying directly from Amazon, especially if you have Amazon Prime, is an exception to this).

When the difference is only $10 per casebook it's hard for me to justify the hassle and wait of ordering online, but more often then not, the price difference is much greater (especially if you use services like, ebay, or Amazon Marketplace - all of which can be searched simultaneously by ISBN through a website like akabook).

Ned's Books has what it believes is a captive market (again, assisted by Boalt administration) and therefor has no motivation to offer a competitive price. The best solution I have found so far is to make all my casebook purchases at Ned's Books, then order the same books online, then return the read, but unmarked Ned's Books casebooks when my discount books arrive (usually a few days before the return deadline). Also, instructors typically decide on their casebooks early, and will tell you what they are if you email them in advance.

Yes, I'm Jewish (insert cultural stereotype here).

PS - If anyone else has encountered any particularly egregious instances of price-gouging by Ned's Books feel free to post it in the comments area. Also, I welcome any arguments about why students should consciously overpay for our casebooks.

[And, Patrick wonders: do I really need to buy the WOA reader? I didn't even touch the LRW reader.]

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Shameless plugs?

The worst course I ever took in undergrad was an American Lit course. From the description in the course reader, I'd expected to read the American greats - Melville, Hawthorne, Faulkner. Instead, the reading list reflected the professors attempt to perform self therapy. Every book we read had as the protagonist a man undergoing a mid-life crisis. They all bore an eerie resemblance to the professor. Ever since, I've been wary of taking courses where the reading list focused more on the professor than the students.

This semester, I've got two courses in which the textbook was authored, either in full or in part, by the professor. This concerns me. There's always the possibility of the professor being so certain of her theories that she refuses to allow students to bring up alternate explanations. Then there's the question of kickbacks - did the professor really choose the best book for the course, or did she choose the one that would make her more money? It also makes me wonder if this is a professor who's so caught up in academia and research that she doesn't have a clue how her theories stand up outside the textbook.

On the other hand, the fact that the professor wrote the book means (theoretically) that she actually knows what she's talking about. It won't be one of those first year classes where the professor knows as much as (or less than) the students. It also means that the professor is (or should be) intimately familiar with the text and can answer student questions thoroughly and effectively. Plus, the professor has the option to give the text to the students for free - eliminating the question of whether the prof chose a book that would put more money in her pockets.

Thoughts on this from people who've taken courses from profs who've assigned their own texts?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bar Passage Rates

I don't have too much time to say anything substantive, but the complete bar pass results came out. I will add that someone from USF forwarded me the results gloating about their higher pass rate (85) compared to Boalt's (82). My reaction: Enjoy OCI with the downturn in the market.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What the??

How in the world did Hillary resuscitate a moribund campaign in 24 hours? How did the polls -- not just the day-befores, but the exits -- get it so wrong? Everyone's got a theory! Pick your favorite!

The Tonya Harding Moment. The talking heads seem to be latching onto the emotive, teary-eyed moment yesterday when Hillary sounded less like a telemarketer and more like a person. She didn't quite feel our pain -- like her husband likes to do -- but she felt her pain. And that meant she's not a cyborg. It also didn't help that Edwards responded by saying she wasn't macho enough to be President -- rekindling suspicions of sexism and generating a wave of last-minute grrl-power sympathy. Evidence: The exits say late-deciding voters went overwhelmingly for Hillary -- along with female voters.

The Howard Beale Moment: Less remarked upon has been this moment from the Saturday NH debate when Hillary said (paraphrasing here), "Let's cut the bullshit!" I thought it was absolutely brilliant (although I have a special fondness for assertive women), but the mostly male pundits immediately pilloried her for being "angry" and "vicious" -- which seem to be the pundits' code-words-of-choice for when Hillary acts like a you-know-what. But such naked sexism may have backfired (just as with the reaction to the crying), while also proving that Hillary has a bit of fight in her.

Indeed, too many commentators have sotto vocce suggested that Hillary gets only two choices: she can be a b-----, or she can be weak and emotionally unstable. That's a pathetic, outdated dichotomy -- and it would be sweet irony indeed if the visceral reaction of New Hampshire voters against such tired cliches drove Hillary to victory.

The Bradley Effect. Or did it have something to do with Obama or, more troublingly, race? Some researchers have noted that the final vote tallies for African American candidates tend to drop precipitously from their support in the final polls -- ostensibly because Americans don't like admitting to another person they're not voting for the black guy. It's possible this effect overstated Obama's support -- he had anywhere from a 7 to a 13 point lead yesterday. This effect wouldn't have shown up in Iowa, either, since those caucuses are public. This would bode ill for upcoming matches in South Carolina and Super Tuesday. Evidence: No one can really prove this at all.

Anyway, if you're into identity politics, there's your explanations! But it could also be due to...

The McCain Drain. NH voters unaffiliated with either party can request a Democratic or Republican ballot. Is it possible that a good number of New Hampshire independents -- those naturally inclined to vote for Obama -- decided that Obama had the race so wrapped up that they could give their vote to McCain, thus saving us all from the Huck & Mitt Show? That might be a little too much strategery for the average voter, but it wouldn't surprise me. Evidence: Someone crunch the exits and tell me!

The "We're Part of History!!!" Bubble. There's always been something slightly...messianic about the support for Obama. His post-racial promises, his post-politics appeal, the poetry of his campaign -- any other 'P'-words you can think of. This weekend, it almost seemed like supporting him became a statement as much about your values as his. The same hipsters who loudly order a fair-trade latte, who pay with their hemp wallet, who sport a Kinks t-shirt -- they all rushed to get their hands on those purple "Stand Up For Change" signs. And they told everyone that asked -- especially pollsters -- that they were part of the Obama wave.

But, whoops, then they either 1) didn't bother to show up to vote (scooter broke down!) or 2) changed their mind after the contact high wore off. This would be the slightly-better-for-America counter-part to the Bradley Effect thesis: it's not that such voters told pollsters one thing and did another because they're racist; they told pollsters one thing and did another because it impressed their barrista.

The Polls Are Always Screwed Up Theory. They messed up in 2000, 2004, 2006 -- why start getting it right now? Is it possible that calling listed landline phone numbers between the hours of 5 and 8 PM to demand 15 minutes of people's intimate thoughts on their vote for President doesn't exactly capture 98% of the electorate anymore?! Tell me that's not true!

The Bill Clinton Jedi Mind Trick. Somehow, some way, Bill Clinton angrily calling Obama a "fairy tale" today activated some deep-seated, genetically engineered, governmentally controlled gene in the Democratic voter, commanding him or her to vote for Hillary and then commit seppuku to hide the evidence. You think I'm kidding -- but read Free Republic tomorrow. Sith apprentice Michael Whouley might also have something to do with it.

The Wrath of Old People. Hillary did very well again among voters over 40 -- just as she did in Iowa. But this time, they counted for more of the electorate. Older voters have always been a bit immune to Obama's appeal, and it's possible they simply came through for Hillary in greater numbers, enough to tip her over the edge.

Indeed, it might be the wrath of the whole historic Democratic coalition, according to this excellent summary of exit-poll cross-tabs: union households, low-income voters, Catholics, etc. They all broke for Hillary. Independents, professionals, and upper-income voters all stuck with Obama.

What's amazing about Hillary's rebuilding of the old-school liberal coalition (if it holds up) is that Hillary is the ostensible moderate in the race -- the one who was supposed to have pissed off all these voters by tacking right in the last six years. Meanwhile, all the the post-docs and professionals and too-cool-to-care urban indies -- the ones who are supposed to be discerning fiscal moderates, the ones who loved Atari Dem Gary Hart and New Dem Bill Clinton -- are flocking to the liberal candidate, Obama. This is a total inversion of traditional Dem politics.

Of course, in truth -- labels aside -- there's very little daylight between Obama and Clinton on most issues. But that just means we could be witnessing the fracturing of the left into camps divided more by temperament than by policy. Do you want new, untested, idealistic, brazen, and inclined to fight -- or old, experienced, pragmatic, cautious, and inclined to deal? That may say more about your Presidential preference than any policy questionnaire or issue space.

Upset over the quality of the BCS bowl games, the New Hampshire voters want to see this thing go 12 rounds. This is the most likely explanation, in my book. After the LSU-Ohio State snoozer (and the impending NFL routs), voters want something competitive to keep them awake until the Groundhog pops up. And damnit, so do we!

So next week, when you're sitting in property or antitrust and can't stand the boredom, but you have something interesting to read in Slate or the NY Times or Huff Post about national politics, say a quiet 'thank you' to the good people of Nashua, Hanover, and Dixville Notch. By engineering the perfect finish, they made sure this damn thing will never end.

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Welcome to your life...

Hey Boalties: the New York Times would like to give you a wonderfully depressing look at your future - here.

My favorite quote: "Forty-four percent of lawyers recently surveyed by the American Bar Association said they would not recommend the profession to a young person."

Now that's something we can include on our updated "UC Berkeley School of Law" brochures (which have been notably stripped of any reference to the word "Boalt"). I guess it may be a good thing law school feels like it ages you 10 years - we're not "young persons" anymore...

My response to the article: I can see how some lawyers 10+ years out of law school can feel duped, but given as much as this has been talked about over the past couple years (read: Loyola2L), does anyone currently in law school have a right to feel the same? I'd chalk that up to not reading N&B before applying to Boalt.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Hey Judge, Kiss My...

Apparently, signing a court document by asking the judge to kiss your [certain lower body part] is sufficient for contempt. Attention colleagues who are seeking the litigation path: you've been warned.

Tangentially related to future employment, I was wondering if anyone got something really good from their future employer over the finals/holiday season. I've heard many classmates who have received the tried-and-true cookies and/or brownies. I even heard that one firm decided to send a leather-like blanket (sounds cozy, no?). Anything else good / way out-there received by Boalties this year (or if it's really good, in years past)?

PS: A certain N&B milestone occurred on Jan 1, 2008 with my fellow co-blogger's post. According to Blogger count, the "2008 List of Banished Words" was N&B's 1,000th post. Congrats to Armen and the other bloggers who helped get N&B off the ground, turning it into one of the top "lawyer in training" blogs according to the ABA Journal.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Meanwhile, in Dick Cheney's bunker...

Iowa raises more questions than answers for the GOP, but I'm afraid I lack any serious insights -- mostly because it's hard to take the Republican Party seriously any more. When the average American has seen his wages decline, his health care disappear, his financial situation endure unprecedented volatility, his country lose soldiers and respect, the GOP response to this is to intone deeply about...cutting federal spending and gays and the need to "get tough" with terrorists? I mean, are you serious? You're not kidding around about this Presidential thing? As Woody Allen said to the Christopher Walken character in Annie Hall, "Right. Yep, well, I have to go now Duane -- because I'm due back on Planet Earth."

But here's some quick thoughts:

-- Shorter Giuliani: "Yeah, whatever. I'm still going to scare the shit out of old people in Florida."

I don't really understand Rudy's strategy. Any GOP Boalties want to explain it to me? He may be leading in the national polls and in Florida in California, but how can he possibly think that he can endure three weeks of repeated, embarrassing losses in the early primaries, and still expect the polls on 2/1 to look like they did on 1/1? In many ways, he's got the Hillary problem: coasting on name ID in the national polls, but discovering that when voters start to pay attention, they don't really like him.

Not that I mind. One of the more interesting stories of the last two years has been to watch Giuliani transform from tough-yet-friendly moderate into Al Haig in drag. I mean, this is the only Republican President that would make me genuinely fear for my life. His foreign policy is one part Curtis LeMay, two parts Major Kong. His domestic policy is simply mean and vindictive. The New Yorker said it better than I can.

-- Shorter Romney: "Let's see how many 'silver medal' Olympics analogies I can fit into one sentence!" Sucks to spend $30 million and finish second. At least his hair still looks good. Wish I had hair like that. Wish I had money like that. It's over if he doesn't win New Hampshire. But at least he can look forward to a thinly veiled character portrait on the next season of Big Love.

-- Shorter Huckabee: "There's more to me than Jesus. Hell, there was more to Jesus than Jesus." I know Democrats are salivating at a Huckabee nomination -- but I'm not so confident. I've seen him now 4-5 times in the last week, and he is amazingly genuine, folksy, honest -- and sharp about diffusing the scary aspects of his social conservatism. He's talked repeatedly about how his values mean more than "God and gays" -- how it informs his concern with poverty, energy independence, and rebuilding our foreign alliances. I think he could be dangerous in a general election. And his guitar may trump even Bill's sax appeal. (That's sax, people).

At the same time, it's fun to watch the GOP establishment descend into apoplexy over him. As Alice said in the post below and I've alluded to in the past, Huckabee threatens the 30-year, bullet-proof GOP strategy of getting elected with evangelicals and then governing for CEOs. His weird populism, his lack of unfettered fealty to big business, his genuine social conservative convictions -- all of this threatens everything the GOP mandarins have held dear for a generation. (Sort of like how Obama threatens Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson). I expect the knives to grow even longer now -- and maybe even look for the type of nasty, whispering campaign than was loosed on McCain in 2000 (and on Democrats in every election). The GOP devouring one of its own: fun for the whole Dem family!

-- Shorter Thompson: "Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. What? Hell, Russians are going to find that sub before we get near her anyway. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz."

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Caucus Raucous

Hah, not quite Armen! What I did say was that, in early Fall, the CW was crystallizing dangerously against Obama -- and it was. But then things changed with that Nevada debate where Hillary stumbled on the Iran resolution, her Presidential records, and Social Security, and suddenly the dynamic of the race shifted-- the press got more combative, Obama found his voice, and Hillary started to sound a little -- forgive the gendered term -- hysterical. Then, about three weeks ago I noted the very dangerous trend where the sooner the state voted, the more they didn't like Hillary, and that culminated tonight in a solid 9-point Obama victory.

I think Hillary is in deep trouble. The most amazing part of tonight isn't the results, but the polls: Obama convincingly won almost every demographic that matters: young voters, independent voters, voters who decided in the last week, voters whose first choice wasn't viable, voters who favor change over experience, new voters, women, and so forth. Those numbers explode so many of Hillary's purported strengths: electability, inevitability, the gender issue. What does she fall back on now?

You could see her confusion tonight with her deer-in-the-headlights speech -- her desperate attempt to claim the 'change' mantra that Obama owns. Before tonight, her slogan was, "Experience!" Now it's the Potomac two-step, "I have the bring about change." But an 8-word campaign theme is 7 words too many.

Amazingly, the best message for Hillary would be the same one that might have won the election for Al Gore in 2000: "I'll do what Bill did!" But she's afraid to go there -- wants to be her own woman and all that psycho-babble. But without making at least the implicit promise that we'll get the Bill Clinton economy and the Bill Clinton foreign policy without the Bill Clinton upholstery strains, there's not much to her candidacy. I like Hillary -- I still like Hillary -- but I don't see how she recovers.

Obama, meanwhile, takes the Big Mo to a New Hampshire electorate that is famously independent, moderate, and discerning -- perfect for him. And his speech tonight -- which I'd bet a hundy he wrote himself (just trust me on this) -- was nothing short of spectacular. He finally found the magic from the 2004 convention , and I can't think of another politician in America who can talk with a straight face about "hope" and "optimism" and "reform" and not sound like a car salesman. Here's predicting he wins New Hampshire by at least 7.

Meanwhile, should we say Kaddish for John Edwards? I love the fact that he talks about poverty, class issues, economics, bread-and-butter and the dinner-table too. Lord knows this country needs it. But he was too strident too win -- and too strident to govern. (The trendy leftys who bash Obama for his post-partisanship and long to sic Edwards on the GOP -- I'm talking about you here Paul Krugman -- should familiarize themselves with this bit of Senate procedure before pretending a President Edwards can tell the GOP they're evil and then expect them to vote for a single-payer health care system). Edwards may have finished second, but he's out of money and trailing in New Hampshire badly -- and I don't think the second-place finish was decisive enough to give him any momentum. If a state he's spent the last 18 months in -- a state rocked by economic turmoil and downsizing -- doesn't give him more than 3 votes in 10, what other state will? South Carolina?

If Edwards is truly finished though, let's pause to appreciate this moment in American history: The African American and the female candidate will fight on for the Presidency, but the first person to head for the exits is the...wealthy, white, WASP, good-looking, heterosexual Southern male. Amazing. Only took 235 years or so.

Anyway, it should be a fun five days and a fun five weeks here. Someone I was with tonight saw the results and said, "Oh no, now we're not going to get to see any campaign ads!" (Never mind that most Californians would find that a blessing -- not me or my friends!) But I think we'll see plenty starting in about three weeks -- and I think our vote on 2/5 will still matter -- and that's something to be excited about in the New Year.


De Ja Vu All Over Again

Based on the Iowa results that are coming in, midwestern GOP wants a Southern governor who's on a mission from God. And it looks like the Dems have a real race on their hands don't they? Just a short few months ago co-blogger Earl Warren thought Hillary had it all wrapped up. I hate politics, but at the same time I love politics. Ugh.

And just to spice things up, Iowa Dem results can be found here, where it looks like Obama's lead is expanding. The problem of course is that this only indirectly relates to the apportionment of convention delegates. If you want to learn more about this whole weird system, try this.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 List of Banished Words

Each year Lake Superior State University publishes a list of words and phrases they believe should be banned in light of their uselessness. Here are highlights from the 2008 list:

POST 9/11 – "'Our post-9/11 world,' is used now, and probably used more, than AD, BC, or Y2K, time references. You'd think the United States didn't have jet fighters, nuclear bombs, and secret agents, let alone electricity, 'pre-9/11.'"

'BLANK' is the new 'BLANK' or 'X' is the new 'Y' – "In spite of statements to the contrary, 'Cold is (NOT) the new hot,' nor is '70 the new 50.'"

RANDOM – "Outrageous mis- and overuse, mostly by teenagers, i.e. 'This random guy, singing this random song…It was so random.' Grrrrr."

IT IS WHAT IT IS – "This pointless phrase, uttered initially by athletes on the losing side of a contest, is making its way into general use. It accomplishes the dual feat of adding nothing to the conversation while also being phonetically and thematically redundant."

UNDER THE BUS – "Please, just 'blame' them."

The complete list, with comments, is here.

If you can't see the intuitive appeal in not butchering our language, there may be a practical reason to pay attention to the list as well: The University once received a letter from an Arizona Supreme Court justice who said he posted that year's list on a bulletin board and prohibited all attorneys from using those words.



With the New Year, I wanted to flag a story I noticed a little while ago. The Senate recently confirmed a Boaltie to the Eastern District of Kentucky, the Honorable Amul Thapar. Future commencement speaker? Sixth Circuit judge? Supreme Court justice? The sky appears to be the limit for Judge Thapar.

Best wishes in 2008 to Judge Thapar, and to all the '07 Boalties who are now appearing on their firms' websites.