Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Stupid Is As Stupid Does - Legislator Author of HB 2610 Abuses Public Trust

A Missouri Legislator proposed HB 2610 - a bill that states that legislators serving the minimum 2 year term, that is less than 5 months each term, is qualified to become a lawyer or judge. Cool!  No requirement of going to any stupid law school, learning, contracts, torts, real estate law, or anything except how to pass legislation. No tests. No studying. No bar exam. No college even necessary. Presumably, a high school diploma is not needed. No ethics exams. No three years of intensive study. No bar exam. No moral and ethical qualifications probed. All you need to do is file to become a representative in a small county with no resistance, and after two years, you too, can sit as a judge on Missouri's highest court, the Supreme Court. You, too, can ignore precedents, statutes and constitutional mandates to further your narrow biased or crazy agenda. What difference is it if a little chaos ensues, if you can further your narrow-minded uneducated right-wing agenda and punish all people who have different opinions. 

And Missouri residents pay the salary of this bozo who either could not get into law school or is too lazy to earn a law license the regular way- after years of work. Scary.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Atticus Finch, Harper Lee, and the American Presidential Election

Doesn't it make you tired?  Our country is divided.  Some of us want to keep Muslims out of our country. (What a cockamamie idea - I'm sure they must be native Americans, since the rest of us come from immigrants.) Some of us want single-payer health care.  Others want no legal abortions no matter what. Free college. No IRS. No Obamacare.  No government. More government. No national debt. More national debt. Oy. We cannot agree on anything. 

Doesn't it make you tired?  Hillary Clinton is a dishonest bitch. Bernie Sanders is an old hippy.  Donal Trump is .... well, Donald Trump. Cruz is mean and creepy. Rubio is a robot. Who is fit to be President?

I must like conflict more than I care to admit, because I have dealt with conflict professionally for close to 33 years. But, I am growing tired. I fear this country is turning into a big dysfunctional family. We fear everything - terrorists, wackos, "thugs,' rich people, poor people, corporations, politicians. I understand Rodney King, "Why can't we all just get along."

Where are the rational people?  Harmony must count for something. We need more empathy.  As Harper Lee wrote, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." Of course, she also wrote, "Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it."  

And so it goes.  Ms. Lee also wrote, 'They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."  

So, the political climate has been crazy ever since we elected a Black man. And now a woman is running. Is racism or sexism partly responsible for this discord?  Maybe.

And so it goes.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Why I Support Hillary, Part II

I understand Bernie Sanders supporters.  Part of me wants to be a Bernie Sanders supporter, and I will be if he is nominated.  However, I wanted to explain why I, and probably some other women of my generation support Hillary.

I have grown up with Hillary Clinton.  When I started practicing law in 1983, there were essentially no women civil trial lawyers in Kansas City, with the notable exception of one.  I was so fortunate to try my first case with the only woman that I know tried civil jury trials before me, Martha Hickman. When Martha got out of law school, she could not join the local bar association because of her gender. Martha was my only female mentor and I was fortunate to work with her on several cases. However, most female lawyers on the plaintiffs' side had no mentors.  When I was searching for a job out of law school, knowing that I wanted to be a trial lawyer, several male lawyers in male law firms asked me how I expected to be a trial lawyer and still mother my child.  They were parents, too. In never occurred to them that my struggles with life balance should have been there struggles, too.  In fact, just this summer, a male lawyer who was opposing counsel told me that he thought it was too hard for women to be trial lawyers and have a family.  His wife had quit law when she got pregnant. I did not argue with him, I just went about the business of representing my client trying his case.  My children, now grown, are well-adjusted adults, who incidentally appreciate both of their parents. Plus, my son is just as ardent a feminist as is his sister.

I remember when Hillary was first lady.  I worked in an office where it was common for some of the employees to constantly ridicule her.  And ridicule her they did.  She couldn't do anything right.  I never understood why people hated her so much. I could never see what she was doing wrong as first lady. Sure, she took a more active role in policy decisions than any other first lady.  But, she is very smart and driven.  I think people were threatened by her. I really admired how she held up when her husband was being impeached.  I would have withered under all of the scrutiny.  She did not. She is determined, perhaps to a fault.  

Many women today have never been without female role models. I think that's great.  I think Bernie Sanders respects women.  However, he has never personally felt the sting of non-acceptance based on gender.  Women make up 52% of this country.  It's time for a woman to be President.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Why I support Hillary Clinton, and Love Bernie Sanders

When I was 19 years old, the Constitution was amended to allow 18 year olds the right to vote. The first opportunity I had to vote was in the Presidential election on 1972. I was young and idealistic and sick of the war in Vietnam. There was one candidate who offered a clear choice to end the war - George McGovern. Most of today's electorate are too young to have experienced the 1972 Presidential election the way I did. I had posters with sayings like, "What if there was a war, but no one showed up," and "Make love, not war."  Unbelievably, I was selected as a delegate to the 1972 Missouri Democratic election. What an experience!  It changed the trajectory of my life. Instead of pursuing education to become a psychologist, I changed my major to political science, which led me to law. As a lawyer, I have chosen to fight for civil rights. I learned so much from that election. And one thing I learned, from being an avid supporter of George McGovern is that candidates on the fringes or extremes of a party will lose in the general election. George McGovern lost every state except Massachusetts and President Richard Nixon, one of the worst presidents in history, was elected in a landslide.  If only Hubert Humphrey had publicly cut ties to President Lyndon Johnson sooner, this country might be a different place.

Bernie Sanders has a great idea. I support a political revolution. Wall Street is too powerful. The recession was a series of crimes committed by investment banks. And, yes, I believe it could happen again. The banking crisis politically is akin to the Vietnam War.  And, for the same reasons George McGovern lost in 1972, Bernie Sanders will lose if he is the Democratic nominee in 2016.

Bernie Sanders has one big idea - breaking up the banks, like McGovern's one big idea, which was ending the unpopular Vietnam war. Plus, I live in middle America. We are the Midwest, but more appropriately, we here in Kansas City are the Heart of America. I have many similarities to Bernie; I am descended from European Jews, even Polish Jews on my dad's side, and I am not very religious. I don't know if Bernie's supporters realize that in this day and age in middle America being a non-religious Jew, especially with a pronounced New York accent, is not a great selling point. There are many evangelicals in middle America and Bernie's views, spiritually and politically, differ greatly from theirs. I am more practical than my 19 year old self, I do not want another Nixon in the White House.

Plus, I like Hillary. I relate to her. In trial, jurors have commented on my clothing, jewelry and whether I "look" like a lawyer in ways the youngest or weirdest male lawyers have never known. Hillary is the most persistent person in the world. She has been the subject of public scorn since the 1992 presidential campaign of her husband. Her marital problems and personal life have been the subjects of public comment for decades. She has "cankles'', wears ugly pants suits, gained weight, is shrill, is phony, and everything she does is scandalized. She is 'bossy' and too loud. There is no other presidential candidate who, during my lifetime, has been subjected to such scorn. You can't tell me that this is anything but sexism. Yet, she never gives up.

I do not agree with everything Hillary does. I was saddened when she voted to attack Iraq. I wondered how she could stay married after her husband's dalliances became so public. I think she is overly hawkish at times and I disagree with her position on the death penalty. But that woman never gives up. She is an incredible role model for America's, and the world's, girls and young women.  We need a woman president. The world needs us to have a woman president. And she is smart, and savvy, and hard-working. We need Hillary Clinton. The Republican alternative is way too scary.