So it’s Wednesday and I’m watching the second night of the excellent Vietnam in HD series on the History channel while my Iroquois are locked in a quagmire against the Greeks in my game of Civilization V. They’ve got a veteran on and he nearly breaks down talking about how much it hurt him to be despised when he came home from the war. I thought to myself that at least one good thing that came out of Vietnam was that our country learned to distinguish between the political leaders who order wars and the fighting men and women who execute the policy. It’s a point that the very same veteran ended up echoing on the last night of the series.
Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, a law professor was writing a screed objecting to a solicitation to send care packages to troops deployed in Afghanistan.
Let me say that again: the professor was pissed off that students were asked if they could send care packages to soldiers serving abroad.
The crowd was not as extreme as the massive banner suggests.
There was more excitement in Oakland yesterday, as several thousand people enacted a citywide “general strike” and marched across town and “took over” the Port of Oakland. No one is exactly sure what those quoted phrases were supposed to mean, specifically, even though crowd estimates ranged from 3,000 to 40,000.
But one thing was for sure: the Occupy Oakland crowd wanted to make a ruckus. They wanted to disrupt the city’s business as usual. And they did. Lots of businesses closed for the day, including one of my favorite coffee shops. Embattled Oakland Mayor Jean Quan recommended city employees take the day off (excluding police, who did not appreciate the snub).
At least one Oakland law firm tried to keep its motor running, although building management locked the building down like a private tiger collection.
Let’s take a look at the official memo, courtesy of an anonymous tipster….
I’ve said from the beginning that while the goals of the Occupy Wall Street crowd were not wrong, their tactics have been lacking. The denizens of “Wall Street” (at least not in its geographic form) didn’t cause the collapse of the American economy; they’re just trying to figure out how to profit from it. There’s been an entire legal structure erected to protect the banking industry; wagging your fingers at them isn’t going to do a whole hell of a lot.
And it’s not like “the banks” or whoever can’t fight back. Occupiers might be angry at Wall Street or corporate America or whoever, but it’s “the law” that will be in charge of actually crushing their little movement. The people in Oakland already saw what the police can do. And the police are just the storm troopers of the military-industrial complex. City ordinances, curfews, and unsympathetic judges: these are the people and things that can turn Occupy Wall Street into Alderaan.
But maybe the protesters are starting to understand the true power of the dark side. And maybe they’ll have some new hope if they get some fully trained lawyers on their side (as opposed to non-lawyer volunteers)….
On the other hand, It might be cool to have a pirate teacher.
The only things worse than obnoxious teenagers are the parents of obnoxious teenagers who still act like obnoxious teenagers themselves.
It is not hard to imagine an angsty teenager, angry at her school, hitting the ‘net and writing cruel words about a school employee on her blog. It’s also not hard to imagine word getting back to the school, and some unpleasant consequences for the student.
What just doesn’t compute is how that scenario translates to a four-year legal saga culminating in an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. And the lawsuit is spearheaded by the teen’s parents.
At least one mother-daughter team believes a 17-year-old’s right to call her teacher a douche bag online is of utmost First Amendment importance. Apparently the Supreme Court does not…
A wheelchair-bound Oaklander in the tear gas fog. That's hardcore.
It has been a strange couple of days. I woke up on Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. to finish some writing. It was still dark, but I heard several helicopters buzzing near my house. I checked Twitter and discovered several hundred police officers were clearing out the Occupy Oakland tent city a few miles away.
Well, I wasn’t expecting the morning’s eviction to turn into a national media s**t storm. By Tuesday evening, somewhere around 500 people were marching through downtown Oakland. Police told them to go home, but they didn’t. People started throwing things at police. Police launched tear gas. By the time things wound down at around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, police had fired several rounds of tear gas and beanbags at protesters, and there were various semi-confirmed reports of rubber bullets, flash grenades, and even a sound cannon.
Why do you care? Well, it turns out these protesters are not just deadbeats and drug addicts. There were several lawyers in the crowd, too. We spoke with a few of them, starting with Shahid Buttar. He is a Stanford Law School grad and the Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He spent Tuesday afternoon lecturing on privacy in a UC Berkeley journalism class, then spent the night getting tear gassed in downtown Oakland….
Three protesters on their way to Occupy Wall Street. Fellow New Yorkers, note the Duane Reade shopping bag.
Over the weekend, I realized that I needed some new white dress shirts. So I headed downtown to the Brooks Brothers at One Liberty Plaza here in Manhattan.
One Liberty Plaza — also the home of another white-shoe institution, the Cleary Gottlieb law firm — happens to be located across the street from Zuccotti Park, site of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Since I was going to be in the neighborhood, I decided to pay a visit to OWS, keeping an eye out for law-related angles to the event.
I brought my trusty camera and reporter’s notebook, so I could record my impressions and interview some of the protesters. What did I observe?
Reading the Wall Street Journal would probably be better than occupying the street itself.
No mob has ever changed the course of history. I’m sure we can all point out some famous mobs, but if you look beyond rabble, there is always a smart person or organization who knows how to use and manipulate the mob in order to make it an agent of change. French people organized in the streets a lot, and it took a Robespierre to turn them into a revolution. Angry poor white people have been ridiculously pissed off since the Civil Rights movement, and it took a Grover Norquist to turn that passion into an anti-tax platform that’s against the economic interest of the very mob that advocates it.
For the last two weeks, the Occupy Wall Street people have been a mob — a leaderless, unfocused, and harmless mob. They’re not even violent. And so they are (for some) easy to dismiss, ignore, and deride.
The lawyers in the audience should be thankful for that. Because if this collection of people could get their act together, they wouldn’t be occupying Wall Street. They’d be occupying K Street. They’d be occupying First Street. They’d be sitting in the lobby of the Lipstick Building or the Death Star asking questions of the people who help “the banks” get around any regulation the overmatched SEC can come up with.
The Occupy Wall Street people have no frame of reference; they’re like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know… look, they’re just out of their element….
Just because Nonie Darwish is controversial doesn't mean she shouldn't be allowed to speak.
It appears that some people have forgotten that they are free to not attend events sponsored by the Federalist Society.
There is a controversy bubbling at George Mason University School of Law because the law school’s chapter of the Federalist Society has invited Nonie Darwish to speak at an event. Darwish has been described as a “notorious Islamophobe” who argues that Islam should be “annihilated.” Some people on campus, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, have asked the law school to disinvite Darwish.
Come on, people. We live in a world where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gets to speak at the U.N. (to say nothing of Columbia University). Ahmadinejad has been described (by me) as a “notorious a**hole” who argues that the Holocaust “didn’t happen.”
The world is just going to be a lot easier to navigate if the Federalist Society can invite whom they want and the American Constitution Society can invite whom they want…
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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