Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Monday, November 23, 2015

One of the lawyers on the panel I was judging moot court with last Friday was the kind of guy who carries a copy of the US Constitution in his jacket pocket. I've been thinking about that, and I have concluded that people who carry texts around like that are pretty much always going to be people I'm going to have a problem with. Bibles, Korans, copies of The Great Gatsby-- whatever it is, the only reason you can possibly have for carrying it around is because you are hoping for the chance to wave it at someone. Sure enough, this guy spent the afternoon happily brandishing his pocket Constitution at a succession of poor undergraduates whose only offense was to have had the presumption to have wandered into the room. Another highlight: he didn't like the way one of the students tied his tie.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

To Wooster College over the weekend, where my BuffState students competed in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association's tournament, and I sat as a judge. Until I started working with BuffState students on moot court I'd never heard of Wooster College, but come to find out it is a pretty fancy school, and a beautiful campus.

I have some issues with undergraduate law competitions, but as between mock trials and appellate advocacy programs I favor the later-- the skills the students acquire in a moot court setting are more in the nature of critical reading and analysis, and there are not many undergraduate activities that involve engaging in high-level abstract discussions. I wish there were some that did not involve encouraging students to go to law school, but we take the world as we find it. I judged three rounds on Friday, and felt as though the students I worked with this semester compared very favorably to five of the six teams I saw. The sixth team, from the University of Central Florida, would have been the best advocates in the room on any given day at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. As it happens I was on a panel with the retired director of the legal clinic at the University of Akron School of Law. Akron is a better regarded school than I would have guessed, what with it being in Ohio, and in Akron, but even so it seemed pretty inappropriate to me when this guy gave a recruiting pitch to the two guys that were so good. Horribly, he gave passionate voice to the canard that a law degree is versatile. Akron is reasonably affordable-- less than UB for in-state residents-- but the fact remains that a JD is the opposite of versatile-- it confers the ability to sit for the bar, but the only JD required occupation that exists is Lawyer.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The only part of the 9/11 Commission's report that remains classified are the parts about Saudi Arabia.  It is probably past time for someone to read those parts from the well of the Senate. But here's the thing: whatever those 28 pages say, we already know the truth: The Saudis are the bankers for international terrorism. Charley Pierce:
It's time to be pitiless against the bankers and against the people who invest in murder to assure their own survival in power. Assets from these states should be frozen, all over the west. Money trails should be followed, wherever they lead. People should go to jail, in every country in the world. It should be done state-to-state. Stop funding the murder of our citizens and you can have your money back. Maybe. If we're satisfied that you'll stop doing it. And, it goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway – not another bullet will be sold to you, let alone advanced warplanes, until this act gets cleaned up to our satisfaction. If that endangers your political position back home, that's your problem, not ours. You are no longer trusted allies. Complain, and your diplomats will be going home. Complain more loudly, and your diplomats will be investigated and, if necessary, detained. Retaliate, and you do not want to know what will happen, but it will done with cold, reasoned and, yes, pitiless calculation. It will not be a blind punch. You will not see it coming. It will not be an attack on your faith. It will be an attack on how you conduct your business as sovereign states in a world full of sovereign states.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I haven't been watching the Republican Presidential debates because why bother? Anyone who has been paying attention since 1980 or so knows that the policies that are instituted by Republican Presidents are bad policies that cause actual harm, and the huffing and puffing that goes on in the preliminaries is pretty meaningless. As a friend notes elsewhere, if you could own a mutual fund that was fully invested under either Democratic or Republican presidents for the last 100 years or 50 years or 15 years you really would want the Democrat's mutual fund... by a lot. I'm not so sure that the Republicans that get to sit in The Big Chair are even the ones that are calling the shots. St. Ronnie was non compos, GHWB basically went with the same team, and was so disconnected from reality that he was dumbfounded by basic consumer purchases, and, well, we know who ran the W show.

I don't know what shadowy forces are lurking behind the current group. Trump, I suspect, is really just making an ego play. In a way that makes him the most dangerous: if a dog ever actually caught a car it wouldn't know what do do with it, and would walk away. If Trump were to attain the Presidency he'd just turn it over to a group of fawning lackys.  One of the small pleasures of observing Republicans at a remove is watching as the political press keeps getting it wrong, but  it appears that the columnists think it is going to come down to Ted Cruz vs. Marco Rubio.  Cruz is an asshole, but he is an asshole in a way that reminds me of Nixon. Rubio seems like a puff of air-- weightless, colorless and largely undefined. He is Vice-presidential timber I think, but I've been wrong before. Either way, it looks like the two characters that the conventional wisdom believes will come out on top (this week) are Hispanic, and that's kind of interesting. Republicans have been saying for years that they need to reach out for the Hispanic vote, but they are really terrible at it. Part of the reason for this is that they don't really understand what the Hispanic vote consists of. People from Puerto Rico? Mexican descended Americans? Cubano-Americans? Some other sort of brown persons? They don't know. Hell, Cruz is Canadian.

The other problem they have is that they think Hispanics should vote for them even though they almost never support any policy that resembles things that the Hispanic demographic wants. Rubio tried, and that turned into his biggest liability.

All of which leads me to wonder about Hispanic voting behavior and what studies have been conducted about it. On an intuitive level I doubt that there is a Hispanic block, as such, on a national or state-wide level, although maybe Cubano-Americans in Florida are an exception. I think I want to look into this.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bands I Wish I'd Seen (Part of An Ongoing Project Now That I Have Written About It Twice). One of the things that I am enjoying about Apple Music is that it makes dipping into stuff I wouldn't ordinarily give a thought to really a snap. So, for example, Genesis' Foxtrot. I suppose that's the Peter Gabriel Genesis side to get if you are only going to get one (and post Peter Gabriel why bother?). That said, when I was in college there was usually a copy around if I wanted to hear it, and in the ensuing 30+ years I can't say that the urge has come upon me. Today it did, and you know, I just don't get it. I saw Peter Gabriel several times and he was always terrific, so I guess maybe context matters when experiencing "Supper's Ready".

Monday, November 09, 2015

There are, I think, a lot of good reasons to believe that American universities took a wrong turn when it comes to sports-- in a different world college sport would look a lot more like what goes on at the D-III level, and not at all like a farm system for the professional sports entertainment complex. Still, what we have is what we are going to be living with for a while yet, and because of that we get to hear university presidents and their minions explain that college sports prepares students for later life and teaches important leadership skills. Maybe it's even true: I think that sports can teach the value of preparation and delayed gratification, and maybe the best leaders on campus of Missouri University as we speak are the members of the football team. I will say this much-- I have never been more proud to have a Mizzou window sticker on my car than I am right now. Go Tigers.

UPDATE: When the football coach is against you there's no place to hide

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Speaking of Championship Vinyl, one of the scenes I love in High Fidelity is when Rob reviews his list of dream jobs: "Journalist for Rolling Stone magazine, 1976–1979; producer for Atlantic Records, 1964–1971; any kind of musician ('besides classical or rap'); film director ('any kind except German or silent'); architect." I'd have to say that rock critic would be on my list. I have a lot of rock critic heros, and Jon Landau would have to be on my top five list, but until yesterday I'd never read the piece that was the source of his most famous remark: " I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.". Actually, I assumed it was just a quip, but no, here it is, in the original context. Of course, Landau subsequently moved on from rock crit and became Springsteen's manager, but in a meaningful way the linked to essay beautifully captures the odd nostalgia for one's own recent past that characterized Springsteen's work up to that point. That's pretty powerful music criticism.

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