Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thinking like a lawyer

They [Prof S, they = you law school professors] warn student in law school that the student will "think like a lawyer." I admit to wondering instantly what does that mean? I struggled through the first year only to be thankful that I could still think at all. And then...........I realize....

1. I will begin to catagorize statements I hear out of my courtroom as to whether they are hearsay. For instance, a friend might want to tell me what another friend said about me (in normal land this is gossip, or even perhaps libel/slander) and I will say, Objection, hearsay. Well, I might not say it out loud, but I am beginning to think it through in my head. I am catagorizing, was that an out of court statement asserted for the proof the truth therein?

2. Cross examination makes it way to my courtroom (oops, I meant my home). "Mom, Walker is being mean to me!" To which I set my daughter down, under a spot light and the drill begins......"Mean is so ambigious. Define mean." Oh, he called you a name. What name was that? Were there any witnesses to his alledged name-calling? Did you do anything to provoke the alleged incident? All this while her eyes are growing bigger, rounder, and absolutely more blank looking. And you wonder, is that hearsay, or is there some exception to the rule.

3. In my courtroom, I rule. Yes, this is right. I interpret the law. This means that my daughter, while she can certainly proffer a nice, reasoned argument to advocate for herself, I and I alone decide the outcome. No jury allowed in my courtroom. And darn it all, when I ask a question or make a statement, do not, I repeat do not, answer my question with a question. Especially the word why. This is my courtroom, I get to talk.

4. It's political season. Normally I am excited at this prospect, but as the candidates and parties yak at me I want to yell at them: Counsel, where's the merit? Where are the facts! This court deals with facts, not speculation. Give me substanitive issues here. Followed by: Stop leading the witness! Followed by: Liar, you just committed fraud, misrepresentation, and perhaps even inducement. And then I want to sit the candidates down and explain this little piece of paper to them called the Constitution and define to them what their powers as the President would be versus the power that they held in the Congress. AGH.

So, it's true. The lense that I view the world with is forever changed. Whether for the good or the bad, I guess that all depends on who you pose that question to.

Phew, glad I got that out of my system.......................

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout Fails......Saga Continues

When the votes came down, I have to say I was shocked. The bailout failed. It seems that "we the people" are calling our congressional reps and making it clear that because their seats are all up for grabs every 2 years, they better be voting it down-----and many did.

What I find fascinating was the voting breakdown in the state of Oregon. Oregon has 5 Congressional seats. No surprise that Congresswoman Hooley voted for the bailout. 1) She is a true party woman; 2) she is not running for re-election. Wu, DeFazio, and Blumeanour voted against the bailout. This shocked me. These reps are solid party hacks and usually vote party lines. So what gives here? None of these men have any real competition. I am still trying to puzzle this one out.

Greg Walden is a Republican and voted for the bailout. There could be many reasons for this, but I do admit to a bit of confusion on this vote as well. However, at a guess, he has been in this seat since 1992, and someone in the party pulled in a favor. Likely he has no real competition either for his seat, and so it was expedient (in other words, perhaps someone now owes him a favor) and of no consequence.

I did about lose my lunch when watching Madame Speaker pointing the evil finger at the Administration. (Lady, do you know how to zip it?----Obviously the answer is no!) What bothers me the most is that Congress is responsible for this current crisis, not the President. Congress should have been passing oversight rules. Congress should have been insuring there was oversight on the lending institutions. Congress should have been doing alot of things, instead the Dems have blamed the Pres, and the Republicans have let them and then stood back and tried to stay clear of the stink fumes so as not to infect them. Well Madame Speaker, you have been in charge of making laws and allocating oversight for two years now and have sat on your thumb. Do not go shifting the blame. Buck it up, admit it, and play nice. This could have been the making of you. Now you look like a party hack and your nice, cushy Speaker gig could be up if your buddies lose confidence in your ability. Negotiation 101: Don't bite the hand that feeds you before you get your food.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hitting "The Wall"

This week, I hit the preverbile wall. What is "the wall" one might ask? It is when your body, mind, and spirit cannot handle one more new thought, one more stressor, or one more unexpected happening. Unfortunately, it is not good that the wall came so early in the semester.

10 days ago, I woke up and was just plain tired. My daughter was sick. So, I called into work (since I did not have classes) and we slept---almost 24 hours straight!!!! Saturday was no better, and on Sunday, my daughter was running a fever and sick. Monday, I took her to the doctor and she tested positive for strep. Lucky me. By the way, Sunday I woke up with a sore throat. I missed classes on Tuesday, went to work on Wednesday as the walking wounded, and by Thursday I was in the doctor's office.

Maybe it's the fact that I am starting my sixth consecutive year of schooling, I don't know. But I am tired of class. Here's hoping this last week "off" rejuvenates me. 8 more weeks to go before finals.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Truth About the Current Financial Crisis

This blog is supposed to be about my experiences in law school, but every once in awhile, I have to take on current events. Earlier this week, our school had a professor that used the email list serve to send out a email which blamed the current crisis on the Bush Administration. In addition, it stated that George W. was going to hand out a 700 Billion dollar blank check to his pals on wall street. This set me off. Law professors should be more educated about the powers of the president than the average person. When I go to the nail salon, I expected to hear a comment like this. I do not expect to hear this at my school.

Here is the truth: In 1977, a Democratic controlled Congress passed The Community Reinvestment Act in which President Carter signed into law. This instructed lending institutions to expand the percentage of loans issued to minorities and the poor for homes. In 1995, under a Democratic controlled Congress, this act was expanded tremendously and signed by President Clinton. This directed that 42% of all of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's loans must be issued to low income and minorities. Thus truly began the sub-prime mortgage nightmare. There were no regulations built in that allowed for executive power oversight, and indeed no independent agency was given the authority to oversee what was happening within the mortgage practices. Delegating this oversight is the responsibility of THE CONGRESS, not the President. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began issueing loans to people, where it took 40-50% of thier incomes to make the monthly payments. With the price of oil and food increasing dramatically in the past 2-3 years, this caused substantial strain on the ability of people to pay their mortgage notes.

Now, this is an ABC Sesame Street account of the story because it is much more complex than this. This recount does not account for hedgefunds and the lack of oversight on the wall street fat cats.

In 2003, the Bush Administration recommended what the NY Times called "the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago." This change was to move governmental supervision of two of the primary agents guaranteeing subprime loans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae under a new agency created within the Department of the Treasury. However, it did not alter the implicit guarantee that Washington will bail the companies out if they run into financial difficulty; that perception enabled them to issue debt at significantly lower rates than their competitors. The changes were generally opposed along Party lines and eventually failed to happen. Representative Barney Frank(D-MA) claimed of the thrifts "These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis, the more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing." Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) added "I don't see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing."

This is worriesome to say the least that we have placed, as a country, the power in the hands of the democrats who refused to see the writing on the wall. I point this out to say that Bush's Administration attempted to address this issue 5 YEARS AGO. AND CONGRESS FAILED TO ACT. I think this was willful blindless on behalf of the branch of government that is supposed to make the laws and to arrange for oversight of the laws.

If the Bush Administration is guilty of anything, it is in not being aggressive enough in bringing the problem to light. Perhaps the administration was distracted by other issues, but that does not excuse the Administration for remaining silent for so long. They should have been calling the Congress out on the carpet and alerting the American people of the fact that their elected officials were unwilling to regulate this are of law. Too much rides on financial markets for these institutions not to be regulated by the government. I do not mean controlled, I mean under scrutiny for abuse.

Congress makes the laws. The President enforces the laws. Period. But right now, it does not matter who got this country into the situation, what matters now is how do we get out? It is time for all of us to let our officials know that enough is enough, and if you can't fix this responsibly, then we the people, will boot your butts out of office November 4th. Stop bickering and start working---Oh, and make the fat cats pay, not we the people. We did not get us there, you did Congress men and women. Suck it up and stick it to those that abused the system and those that fell asleep at the wheel when they should have been watching.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

2nd Year Stress

Second year in law school, I am finding, is absolutely tougher than the first year. Let me explain. As a second year law student, you know the ropes of the schooling. You know how to outline, you know what you can get away with as far as reading/not reading, you know your own study habits. So the journey should be easier, right? Wrong.

There is one major change: work. The first year of law school, at least at Willamette, you are banned from holding a job. But your second year, it is considered an advantage. Now don't get me wrong, I love me job. I believe in what I am doing, I work with a GREAT group of lawyers and paralegals, and in many respects classtime is about learning the law, but at work I get to see the law applied to the "real world." This is irreplaceable. However, it is difficult to balance work and school. Throw into that children, housework, and a daughter's very busy social schedule = one VERY tired mommy.

I am approaching the wall hitting break. Unfortunately, I had not come even close to this mythical, but real wall, last year until November.

Last year for me was a breeze. This year is feeling a little stormy.