IndyLegal

See a California Law Student's random ramblings on legal related topics. And Hey! You can even submit your own!
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I will be posting criticism and commentary about the movies “A Time to Kill” & “Unthinkable.”

UPDATE:
Senate members appear to have reached an agreement that would reverse the doubling of interest rates on subsidized federal student loans. that climbed to 6.8 percent earlier this month, when Congress failed to avoid the hike.

Under this new agreement, students could see a lower rate through 2015! A vote on the proposal could come as early as today.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/17/politics/student-loans/index.html

The Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection will hold a hearing on Wednesday, July 17 entitled “Shining a Light on the Consumer Debt Industry.” The scheduled witnesses are Corey Stone, CFPB Assistant Director, Office of Deposits, Cash, Collections, and Reporting Markets, and Reilly Dolan, FTC Acting Associate Director, Division of Financial Practices.

It will be interesting to see what kind of coverage this gets, and whether anything productive actually takes place. With student loan debt surpassing credit card debt (and soon to be surpassing the median yearly income for recent grads).

                     Zimmerman celebrates getting away with murder 

Late Saturday night, a Florida jury of George Zimmerman’s peers found him not guilty in the death of 17-year old Trayvon Martin. And let’s make no mistake about it, this was a jury of George Zimmerman’s peers and not Trayvon Martin’s. The verdict of this 83% White and 17% Hispanic jury puts a cap on the criminal aspect of this racially charged case that held most of us captive for well over a year. I won’t get into the details of the case, cause you should already know the story. Instead, I’ll focus on the fallout from this disappointing albeit unsurprising verdict. 


                     Post-verdict rally in Los Angeles 

Needless to say, people around the country were upset. Even as far as Los Angeles, people gathered together to rally for Trayvon (pictured above). Many suspected that a “Not Guilty” verdict would incite riots across the nation. Well I hate to break it you all, but there won’t be any riots. Why not? Cause this isn’t anything new.

We all know about Rodney King, and if not then read my blog post about it. But Rodney King is just one of many examples of the type of racially charged trials and outcomes Black America has become accustomed to. The accounts of these racially explosive cases are important for revealing facts and evidence of racial feelings, for the ways in which the jury system was racially structured, and for the ways the trials themselves were morphed with racial tracings. For some great examples, we need not even leave the good ol’ state of Florida. 

For those that don’t know, Miami-Dade County was in turmoil prior to 1980. From August 1968 through July 1979, at least thirteen significant civil disturbances rocked the city, involving violent confrontations between blacks and whites. The predominantly white police were under attack during many of these riotous episodes - a fact not forgotten by these officers or the black community. In February 1979, police had raided the Miami home of a black school teacher who was “mistaken” for a cocaine dealer. Officers beat both the teacher and his son and vandalized their home. The police department, however, took no action against the offending officers (Montgomery 1980).

The next year brought a new murder, then another two years later, and still a third in 1989. These cases all ended the same way, with all-white juries exonerating all-white police officers of killing three African Americans: Arthur McDuffie in 1980, Nevell Johnson in 1982, and Clement Anthony Lloyd in 1989.

The 1980 Miami uprising was fueled by a case in which four white police officers were tried on charges that they had beaten to death a thirty-three-year-old, black insurance executive, Arthur McDuffie, who had been arrested for a traffic violation. McDuffie, a divorced father of two small children, was riding a 1973 black and orange Kawasaki 900 motorcycle. Within three minutes of his apprehension, McDuffie had been set upon by as many as six to twelve police officers who used eighteen-inch Kelite police flashlights to crush his skull.

Despite the eye witness testimony of several police officers, the county’s medical examiner, and several other experts, the all-white jury found all police officers not guilty after less than three hours of deliberation. Immediately after the verdict was announced, eruptions shook neighborhoods throughout the county - lasting three days - leaving eighteen people dead, including whites who were beaten or burned to death in their cars. A community survey immediately after the riot indicated that 26% of black residents admitted to participating in the riots.

Two years had passed when in December 1982, another civil disturbance was sparked by Miami police officer Luis Alvarez. Charged with manslaughter in the death of twenty-year-old black motorist, Nevell Johnson, Alvarez had shot and killed Johnson while on patrol. After a two month trial, the all-white jury deliberated less than two hours over the evidence presented, finding that the twenty-four-year-old officer was not guilty in the shooting death of Johnson. The announcement of the acquittal quickly spread throughout the Miami area, letting loose another racial confrontation in Miami. In the predominantly black Liberty City area, two police officers were , and the police arrested more than two hundred rioters, mostly young black males. 

Seven years later, after the fatal shooting of another Black motorcycle rider, Clement Anthony Lloyd, by police officer William Lozano, riots erupted at the scene, spreading to other parts of Dade County. This time 136 buildings were burned and looted, one man was killed, and seven others were shot after three nights of racially fueled civil disturbances. 

So what’s changed since then? Why is the response to the Trayvon Martin verdict so subdued? Is it because Zimmerman was factual innocent? No. Is it because we live in a post-racial society now? No. The unfortunate truth is, the black community has become accustomed to this. We are no longer surprised by stories of those like Trayvon Martin and Celement Anthony Lloyd. Because cases like those in haven’t become any rarer than they were in Miami during the 1980’s, nowadays there’s another Travyon Martin every 36 hours. 

It’s like the death of an elderly, long suffering loved-one; we are very disappointed and downright depressed when it happens, but we aren’t exactly surprised. I don’t think anyone whose been paying attention to Black America can say they were surprised or shocked by yesterday’s verdict. And that’s why there won’t be any riots, we’re at the acceptance stage now. After 300+ years of America’s justice system devaluing Black lives, we understand what this is. This is the land where Black people are worth less than dogs. This is America. 

All Dogs To Heaven, All Niggers Rot in Jail. 

So I decided to drop the whole mixtape thing I had going, despite the overwhelming praise it received from my many fan(s)! But part two of my Supreme Court summary is going to be just as awesome! Let’s go in:

American Express v. Italian Colors

So this decision didn’t really get much attention from cable and network news agencies. In fact, I didn’t see it on tv at all. And I watch the news at least like one hour a month? But despite the lack of attention from what Sarah Palin likes to call the “lamestream media" (be honest, she’s pretty adorable), this 5-3 decision is actually pretty important. Why is that Indylegal? Good question! Because it’s yet another decision by The Supremes that shows our justice system’s unbelievable favoritism towards corporations, further privatizing and restricting access to justice for everyday Americans.

Now the actual legal issue in this case is quite boring, and could be hard to follow. After all, were all on tumblr right now, so our intelligence is most likely median at best. Am I right? But I’ll do my best to explain things in simple terms without butchering the facts.

So US law says that certain B.S. agreements are unenforceable even if all parties agree to them in a contract. These agreements have traditionally been made void if they eliminate victims’ ability to enforce their statutory rights. So when American Express used its monopoly powers to force agroup of small business owners to accept a ridiculous amount of credit card fees causing said business owners to pursue a class action suit, American Express pointed to a clause that not only prevented this group from accessing courts to resolve their issue, but also prevented them from joining together in their forced arbitration hearings.

Now as even if a layman knows, doing legal shit is expensive. In fact, the high cost of bringing actions against American Express was too damn high for these small business owners, leaving them without “effective vindication” of their federal rights under antitrust law. Not only are these mandatory arbitration clauses forcing victims of corporate abuse to forego the courts in favor of privatized (and confidential) justice, but homies can’t even afford that shit. Now that sounds like just the type of B.S. agreement that US law says is unenforceable right? Well yes and no. Yes, that is the type of agreement that US law says is unenforceable. But no, The Supremes did not give even a single piece of $hit. Dissenter Justice Kagan actually puts this whole thing in a funnier light than I ever could:

Here is the nutshell version of this case, unfortunately obscured in the Court’s decision. The owner of a small restaurant (Italian Colors) thinks that American Express (Amex) has used its monopoly power to force merchants to accept a form contract violating the antitrust laws. The restaurateur wants to challenge the allegedly unlawful provision (imposing a tying arrangement), but the same contract’s arbitration clause prevents him from doing so. That term imposes a variety of procedural bars that would make pursuit of the antitrust claim a fool’s errand. So if the arbitration clause is enforceable, Amex has insulated itself from antitrust liability—even if it has in fact violated the law. The monopolist gets to use its monopoly power to insist on a contract effectively depriving its victims of all legal recourse.

And here is the nutshell version of today’s opinion, admirably flaunted rather than camouflaged: Too darn bad.

So wtf Supreme Court? We know you already think corporations are people, but aren’t people also people? Why did you so blatantly side with corporate interests on this one? 

Well unfortunately for us #oldrules people, American Express is just one of many cases that demonstrate The Supremes’ extreme and continued favorability toward corporate interests.

The homies at Media Matters said it best:

American Express is yet another example of the conservative justices’ extreme and continued favorability toward corporate interests, especially those pushed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and utter hostility toward class action lawsuits and the consumers and workers who bring them. And these decisions - AT&T v. Concepcion, Comcast v. Behrend, Wal-Mart v. Dukes - are piling up at an alarming rate.

American Express will only add fuel to the fire by underscoring new ways that corporations can now insulate themselves from a vast range of federal laws.

So given how important I’ve tried to make this decision seem, isn’t it weird that this shitty blog is probably the first time you’ve heard of it? Why hasn’t these been on the real news? Well the truth is, news and media corporations are probably not going to be parties to these unfair contracts, or at least not on the losing side. As we should all should know, news and media corporations are…. corporations! In fact, they’re some of the biggest corporations out there! So is it really any surprise they tried to (and succeeded at?) hiding this story? If it’s still not clicking for you, I suggest you try suing your cable/satellite/internet company and see if you make to court. 

Man I love The Supremes! They may all be slightly passed their primes, but they can still produce that magic when they all get together! What? No, I’m not talking about some lame MoTown group! I’m talking about The Divine Nine, The Judicial Review Squad, The High Court, The Supremes! The Supreme Court just dropped a new mix-tape worth of decisions these past two weeks. So let’s go in on the three soon to be hit singles (how are we liking this metaphor?):

1. Affirmative Action (Remix pt. 2 ft. Young Kennedy)

Fisher v. Texas, the affirmative action case, had a lot of press before it dropped. But did it live up to its Magna Carta hype? No, not really.

The suit against the University of Texas was filed in 2008 by white student, Abigail Fisher (scored lower than me on the SATs… just saying) who was rejected by UT Austin.  Most students are admitted to UT Austin under the Top Ten Percent Plan, which guarantees admission to all Texas students in the top ten percent of their high school class. The remaining students are admitted under a holistic admissions process that considers race as one of many factors in a student’s application file.

The court issued a 13-page opinion that was hardly the game changer pessimists and conservatives have long thought was just on the horizon. Instead the court released a 7-1 majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to re-evaluate the case.

“Strict scrutiny must not be strict in theory but feeble in fact,” Kennedy wrote. “The reviewing court must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.” These alternatives could include things such as targeted recruitment and financial aid packages tailored to help low-income students. The court upheld Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, two cases fundamental in defining universities’ rights to consider race as an admissions factor.

Several civil rights groups hailed the decision as the best thing to drop since Drake’s HYFR video. “Today’s decision is an important victory for our nation’s ongoing work to build a more inclusive, diverse America,” said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “We believe that the University of Texas’ admissions policy is a carefully crafted one that will ultimately be upheld by the Court of Appeals.” 

However, some of the music purists like my friends at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund were more realistic. In a neurtal review, they admitted that while Affirmative Action Case (Remix pt 2) definitely slaps, “the Court added a wrinkle by sharpening the standard that universities must meet, requiring colleges to show there were no ‘available, workable race-neutral’ alternatives available to them.” Ideally, the Supremes could’ve went harder on what we all expected to be a classic. Still better than anything off Yeezus.

On a serious note, this worked out way better than it could have. In a country with an African American president, it’s hard for a lot of people to understand why we still need affirmative action. But the truth is we still live in a country with more black males in prisons than in universities. We still live in a country where the average white household is worth more than 22 times the average black household. So either black people are really just genetically inferior to white people, or there are a series of unfortunate systemic issues that create these racial disparities. If you believe the latter, then you see why we still need affirmative action. 

2. Proposition 8 Was the Case

The Prop 8 case was an awesome moment. Though I’m not a member of the LGBTQ community, I’ve been an ally since before I was even smart enough to realize why being an ally was the right call. I was stoked to hear that Prop 8 had been overturned and that homosexual couples could now get married in California. Then I remember thinking, “Wait, the Supremes usually drop nationwide hits, why is this only playing on California radio-waves?” As it turns out, The Supremes didn’t really go in on this one either. Let me explain

Prob 8 passed way back when. People were pissed and sued. When the plaintiffs won and Prop 8 was invalidated, the California governor and attorney general decided not to appeal. So instead of admitting defeat (like Laker fans should be doing right now) the homophobic proponents of Prop 8 appealed the ruling. Fortunately for supporters of equality, you can’t sue the government if the government hasn’t actually done anything to you personally.

So the Court held that these proponents had no case because the case wasn’t theirs. The Court said nothing of the constitutionality of state laws banning gay marriage. So that sucked. It was kind of like Rick Ross on that song UOENO: the Court sounded really cool, but damn did it say the wrong thing.

All in all, it was a solid victory. It was a moment that should and will be celebrated for years to come. However, marriage equality should by no means mark the end of the journey for LGBQ rights in the US. Even today, less than half of US States provide protections to the LGBTQ community from employment discrimination. It’s great that Prop 8 was defeated, but legislation like the Employment Non-Discrimination ACT is still needed. Ignition was cool, but R. Kelly didn’t stop there. He needed to make that remix, just like we need to keep fighting for LGBTQ rights!

3. Voting Rights Act Case

Wow, they really blew this one! Congress renewed the Voting RIghts Act in 2006. To do so, it had to decide which states had the worst records of voting discrimination (which states were openly hella racist when it came to voting) in order to determin which states should be required to get permission before making changes to their electoral system (aka making more bs racist laws). Congress used thae same data from 1972 that was used when the Act was first passed. The Court said this was bad because the data was too old and that some states with the worst records in 1972 now had the best records!

Any normal individual would look at that data and say “Oh this means the Act must be working. States that were hella racist can’t be openly racist now! Thanks to this law, they have to ask before they try and prevent minorities from voting.” The Supreme Court looked at that same data and said “Oh, this law works really well. Let’s get rid of it.” Kid Cudi never should’ve stopped rapping to pick up pop-rock or w/e that crap was, and we never should’ve abandoned the VRA 1972 data. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the next national election. “But IndyLegal, what about all the local and state elections that will be affected even sooner?!” Lol… please. Local election news? Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

My initial thought is that minority voter turnout won’t see a decline. Instead, groups like the NAACP, Rock The Vote, and other civil rights groups will get out to the states and counties with racist laws and help minorities jump through whatever new hoops are placed infront of them. Obviously, this is a completely fucked up situation. Minorities already have enough hoops to jump through, and laws shouldn’t exists if their sole purpose is to increase the burden on already disadvantaged people. But all in all, I don’t think the outcomes of any elections will be negatively affected by this decision. 

So with that we conclude my review of the Supreme’s lates mixtape. There are a couple of rare gems and the B-side that I’ll be reviewing shortly. Stay tuned kidz!

"On the morning of October 15th, we got a telephone call, and they told us he was blown up to pieces by the drone. And they saw only the back of his hair. You know, his relative, his cousin, he knew his hair from the back, and he recognized it, and he knew that Abdulrahman really was dead. But they could not recognize his face or anything else."

That’s a quote from Nasser al-Awlaki, father of Anwar al-Awlaki, in the film Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield. He is describing the murder of his 16-year-old grandson, Abdulrahman. This US born, American citizen was killed by drone strikes while he was having dinner with his friends and cousins. Why was Abulrahman killed? Let’s ask Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs:

“I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father. If they’re truly concerned about the well-being of their children, I don’t think becoming an al-Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.” - Robert Gibbs

So when asked why a 16-year-old, US born citizen was brutally murdered without due-process by extra-legal means, the official White House response was that he was born into the wrong family. I see you Gibbs, but I don’t feel you bro. So let’s ignore that for the time being. We’ll ignore the fact that Abdulrahman was murdered a full month after his father was confirmed dead, effectively rendering an already illogical argument irrelevant. Let’s just talk Abulrahman’s father, Anwar.

Anwar al-Awlaki was a US born, Yemeni-American imam who had been accused of being a terrorist leader of the militant Islamist group Al-Qaeda. Prior to being labeled terrorist leader, al-Awlaki was considered by the US government and the media to be a moderate Muslim cleric. He had even been invited to a lunch at the Pentagon immediately following 9/11. He and other Muslim leaders were brought in to consult the US Government on how to root out extremism in the Muslim community. Unfortunately for Awlaki, he became increasingly radicalized after the US continuously attacked the Muslim world. He began to proclaim to his followers that it was both the duty and the right of Muslims to be more than just passive receivers of violence by the US. He insisted that the Muslim world must actively engage in defending itself against he United States as a means of deterring further violence. He must have forgot where he was and who he was dealing with. This is Murhhika dawg, and we don’t really play that shit. We destroyed an Olympic Medalist’s
life because for throwing up a black power solute in the 60’s. You’re going to talk trash about us, without even winning us a gold medal? I can’t see this working out well for you… But let’s read on. 

Shortly after Anwar’s change in tone, the US Government claimed to have discovered that Awlaki was doing more than just relaying messages and ideas of violence self-defense, but that he had taken up an active role in fighting back. They claimed that he started to have an operational role in several terrorist plots and eventually claimed he was now a leader in Al-Qaeda. Shortly after being added to the President’s terrorist list, on September 2011, two Predator drones fired missiles at vehicles containing US born Anwar al-Awlaki and three other suspected al-Qaeda members in northern Yemen’s al-Jawf province. Awlaki, a US born citizen, was accused of a crime and killed without due process in classic 1800’s lynching fashion. Just as the US went outside the law to incite fear amongst African Americans, it does the same to Muslim citizens. Muslim citizens who wish to speak out against the atrocities that the US government continues to commit against the Muslim world will undoubtedly now think twice. The status quo is again enforced. Only this time it’s not a lynch-mob, but the Executive Branch of the US Government that enforces it.

Lynching is not just a forgotten part of US history, it is a hidden reality of modern-American life. So don’t say things the US isn’t trying to hear. And they’ll know if you do cause they have COMPLETE access to all your email accounts, facebook accounts, google user data and pretty much everything you do over the phone and online.

And if you upset the US enough, they will find you, they will kill you, and they will kill your children. Literally. So fall inline, cause these are some straight up thugs, and you can’t hang.

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Hello Tumblr! It has been far too long since my last post, and I apologize to my loyal readers. All 1 of you. I’ve been a little busy though, so before I get started let me give you all some updates on my life:

1. Finally earned my BA! I am now officially a well-read, articulate, highly motivated, and professional individual. The piece of paper I spent 3.5 years earning proves it. In all honestly, I loved my time as an undergrad, it’s been the best years of my life so far.

2. Enrolled in law school! I had some fortunate opportunities as an undergrad student and managed to use those experiences to gain some law school acceptance letters, and even some scholarships. I had some great offers, even turned down some Ivy Leagues. In the end, I’ll be continuing my education as a Trojan. I’m just a California Boy!

3. Started working in a non-profit law office that serves low-income members of the community. As fun as changing the world through tumblr is, it’s been nice to “act local.” 

Anyways… Let’s talk about racism and shit. 

Check out this picture from my homie at brofiling

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“Race” is a lie. It is a social construction. It is not rooted in science, but in the imaginations of ruling classes. The human Race is the only real Race. Though Race is a lie, the consequences of Race are very real. The consequences of Race in the US have been especially real. In the US, Race has been negotiated by real courts, it continues to have real legal standing, and it continues to have a very real impact on people’s life opportunities.

For many of us, Race represents a certain commonsensical way of thinking based on understandings (and more often misunderstandings of) cultural norms, history, the law, and politics. Race also serves as a set of psychological motivations that affect our decision-making, both on a conscious and subconscious level.

Just as Race is socially constructed, the racial hierarchy that places such an extreme value on Whiteness was also constructed. Being White in America is about more than just being art of a plurality. White is a form of property in America. And like any other form of property, Whiteness can be inherited, Whiteness holds value under the law, and Whiteness is used to signal status.

To reinforce the value of Whiteness, the US has continually created and passed immigration polices that created “desirable” Races from Europe that were valued more than the “less desirable” Races from Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world. All in the name of fabricating this commonsensical form of association. The US Supreme Court, in U.S. v. Bhagat Singh Thind, reinforced this commonsensical view of Whiteness when a former US Military man was denied citizenship. The court ruled that even though he was “Caucasian” by anthropological standards, he was not “White” by the “common sense” standards of the average White person. 

This association of White and American is one that still exists, and it played a big role in the media’s coverage of the Boston tragedy. White people are understood to be “normal” and everyone else gets moved into this “other” category. This association with White as “normal,” as “American,” and for all intents and purposes as “good” is what made it okay for an injured Saudi man to be tackled during the immediate aftermath of the bombings in Boston. As the New Yorker reported “Many, like [the innocent Saudi dude], were wounded; many of them were saved by the unflinching kindness of strangers, who carried them or stopped the bleeding with their own hands and improvised tourniquets. ‘Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood,’ President Obama said. ‘They helped one another, consoled one another,’ Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, said. In the midst of that, according to a CBS News report, a bystander saw the young man running, badly hurt, rushed to him, and then ‘tackled him,’ bringing him down. People thought he looked suspicious.” Why did he look suspicious? Because he did not look White.

His lack of Whiteness, is what also led the media to rave about the courage of the White person who tackled him even days after it was learned he was innocent. This same lack of Whiteness is what led Trayvon Martin to be ignored for so long. It’s what keeps names like Amadou Diallo, and Sean Bell from becoming household names. It is what creates another Trayvon Martin every 36 hours in the US.

So what does any of this have to do with the picture I posted? Since my rambling probably made you forget about the photo, here it is again:


image

Why is The Week portraying the suspects as non-White? It’s not because they aren’t actually White, as even their official FBI profiles list them as White. But associating White with “terrorist” is something America refuses to do. Common sense teaches us that White people can never be terrorists, even if history tries to teach us something else.

Why is any of this important? Because tragedies like these happen for a multitude of reasons. Nothing can excuse the actions of these two terrorists, please make no mistake about my position on that. However, events like these represent many societal failures. A truly evil person is a rarity, and a person born truly evil is unheard of. If we want to live in a better society, free of these unnecessary tragedies, we have to understand how our society is failing. We have to stop blaming the non-existent other.

Race is a lie. Race is fake. But perpetuating that lie has very real consequences.

So this post is going to be significantly less entertaining than most of the other stuff I have on here. Though I know humor is how one conquers the blogosphere, there are some issues that I just refuse to make jokes about. I know that using humor is a good way to introduce people to topics that they woud otherwise shy away from (or run away from), so I’ll continue to post that sophomoric shit the kids are all about.

Anyways…

Obama defeated Romney on Election Night. Hopefully that isn’t news to you as its been dissected by every single news outlet that I know of for the better part of these last two weeks. While there is plenty of coverage about the election, very few are accurately describing why Obama won by such a large margin. In fact, I did some looking around and I only found one op-ed article written by Joel Benenson from the New York Times that denounced the mainstream media’s (MSM) coverage of the election. Joel argued that Obama won the election because of the values he represents, not because of demographics. While others have mentioned that Romney lost because of his stance, or perceived stance, on social issues, My buddy Joel and I seem to be the only ones that think Obama won because of his stance on the economy, not despite it. 

Like Joel, I do not believe the Obama won because of his skill in incorporating Latinos, Women, Youth, or any other group into his voting pool. I believe this election clearly illustrates that the majority of voters believe in Obama’s Keynesian(-ish) policies, especially when the only other legitimate option is Republican neo-liberalism. I know I just used Republican and liberal in the same sentence, but neo-liberalism is different than what we in the US consider liberal politics. For a biased, yet accurate definition of neo-liberalism, click here.

What you should take away from this election, and what you will not find in the MSM’s analysis of it, is that Obama ultimately won because the majority of voters trusted his economic stewardship more than they trusted Romney’s. In fact, as Joel points out, most voters stated one of their top worries about Romney was that he “won’t de enough to restore security for working and middle-class families.” Joel goes on to discuss that only 18% of voters actually believe that the middle class always does well when big corporations do well.” If only 18% of voters believe in your economic theory, you are probably going to lose any presidential contest you enter, regardless of your race and the races of the voters.

What all of this reveals is that the real flaw in the Republican Party does not lie in their social policies, though they could use a revamp in that area as well. The American public made it clear that they were not just rejecting Romney. They were rejecting the economic policies that have characterized the Republican Party since 1980. 

Obama won! Nate Silver proved that math is a legitimate academic pursuit. Americans decided that Obama should win, but shouldn’t have a Congress that’ll actually let him accomplish things. Californians voted to tax the rich to pay for public school administrative salaries (ok I guess some books, classes, teachers, and other important resources will be provided too). Californians voted to label GMOs, but a crazy conspiracy is preventing the truth from coming out. LGBT rights were won in several states. A hindu woman and a Buddhist man were elected to Congress for the first time. One state had a female Governor and an all female Congressional squad for the first time ever. Our nation’s first Black president will actually serve two terms, which is remarkable news coming from a country with enough audacity to make February its Black History Month. Okay, I think I got all the boring old people stuff out of the way. Let’s talk about Marijuana!

Colorado and Washington became the first states in American history to make marijuana legal. I was probably one of the few students at my university who was hoping for this to fail (just lost 100 followers), but it wasn’t because of some deep morale issue. It’s great that voters decided to take the issue into their own hands, but Federalism makes this issue somewhat sticky, and not the good kind of sticky you were probably hoping this post would be about. 

The newly legitimized political media outlet that is twitter has been dominated by tweets of prospective college students fantasizing about puffing that magic dragon openly on the grassy knolls of universities in Colorado and Washington. However, these fantasies may prove to be nothing more than pipe dreams. As University of Washington spokesman Norman Arkans put it, student who think “they are going to walk around campus smoking a joint, [should know] it’s not going to happen.”

Despite the historic votes in these two states, the federal government still considers marijuana to be very illegal, meaning that universities who want to keep their federal funding for research, student aid, and more importantly administrative salaries will have to abide by federal laws. ”We get caught in the vise between the state law and our obligations under the federal government. While it may be legal two blocks off campus, [our campus] will be illegal under federal law, so it will be illegal on campus,” says Arkans.

In Colorado, The University of Denver and The Evergreen State College are waiting to hear from lawyers and the government on how the ruling will affect them. University of Denver spokeswoman Kim DeVigil said her campus, which had already banned tobacco smoking, will remain a smoke-free campus, “so regardless you can’t smoke in dorms, buildings or any grounds. We will comply with state, local and federal laws.”

High Times Editor-in-chief Chris Simunek also believes University culture in Washington and Colorado won’t see much change. ”I find it difficult to believe that universities are all of the sudden going to cannabis-friendly coffee shops on campus. I think for universities it is going to be best for them to look the other way, like they have been doing for years,” he said, aslo adding that “any student who is really interested in marijuana already knows that these are easy towns and easy states to find marijuana. Kids shouldn’t choose their college by how good the herb is.”

So while many will still celebrate these historic votes, prospective college students should understand that it probably won’t affect their college experience. As the Federal government proved in establishing national speed limit and drinking age regulations, it won’t hesitate to pull funding from states and universities that don’t play by the rules. 

Wow! It’s been a long time tumblr… A lot has happened… Let’s start with the newest battle in the war on women. 

Rep. Todd Akin, a republican senate nominee, has recently come under some fire after he suggested that victims of what he called “legitimate rape” will rarely get pregnant. Despite the obvious absurdity and ridiculousness of the actual science behind his claim, what is truly upsetting is why he said it. He, like many Republicans before him, was trying to hash out why abortion shouldn’t be allowed, even in the case of rape. While arguments for regulations on abortions can potentially have some merit and validity, the idea that women who are the victim of rape or incest should be forced to give birth to their abuser’s or assailant’s child is ridiculous. I have the utmost respect for women who decide to go to term after a forced pregnancy, just I have the utmost respect for women who decide not to bring a child that was forced onto them into the world. And that’s kind of the point, whatever happens should be the woman’s choice and no one else’s. Here are Akin’s comments below: 

A lot of people covering this story have been giving what they call “mainstream” Republicans credit, as a number of them have come out with strong statements condemning Todd Akin’s comments and asking him to drop out of the Senate race. Heck even Romney asked him to step down! What’s missing from these media equivalents of pats on the back for the Republicans is the hollow and fake nature of their statements. 

Yes Todd Akin is an idiot, and his statements should be condemned, but do the Republicans condemnations actually reflect their views of abortion? In short summary, no they absolutely do not. Let’s take a look at some other statements about rape made by Republicans. Anna North from the Democratic Underground  wrote earlier about Republican Henry Aldrige who made a similar comment to Mr. Akin, arguing that when a woman is raped, “the juices don’t flow”. This was followed by a another republican who argued that when a woman is raped she emits a “certain secretion” that prevents her from getting pregnant. So Republicans disagree about whether juices flow or don’t flow during rape, but they agree that pregnancy isn’t possible.

While it is really fun to pick out crazy statements made by Republicans, it isn’t really fair for me to claim that it is representative of the entire party’s views. So let’s look at some actual Republican policy. 

First there’s H.R. 3: The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. This bill would cancel all public funding for abortions and all public funding for healthcare plans that provide abortions. 235 Republicans voted for this bill, 0 voted against it. 0, zero, none nadda, zilch. But it’s just the House, and we all know all the serious politics take place in the Senate. So is this really a fair characterization of the Republican party? Well let’s look further.

Just today, the GOP approved a draft for their official 2012 platform (that’s kinda like the republican doctrine or “manifesto”) which reportedly called for a federal ban on abortion including those women who become pregnant as the result of rape or incest. This is exactly what Todd Akin was trying to argue for with his ridiculous medical claims. The really messed up part is he actually deserves more forgiveness than the average Republican. If Akin truly believed those idiotic medical claims, then he has reason to argue that their doesn’t need to be an exception for rape in abortion law. He’s wrong of course, and the idea that rape is the only instance when abortion is acceptable is wrong as well, but at least he can claim stupidity. All these other Republicans are arguing for the same policy as Akin, even though they are fully aware that women who are raped can get pregnant.

                     Replican Vice Presidential Nominee with Todd Akin

So what are they condemning Akin for? Agreeing with them for the wrong reason? Or are they mad that he brought to light an import social issue that exposes a vulnerability in Republican politics in the middle of an election? I don’t have the answers, but I think it’s important that we all ask the questions. 

I’m currently in the process of moving, so I haven’t had access to the interwebs. I could bike to a coffee shop to post new articles on my blog… but damn that just sounds way too hipster. Even for me. So in the mean time, all of you should send me a bunch of questions and submit your own stuff to IndyLegal. Doesn’t that sound fun?

Now I get it!

"The news for would-be attorneys keeps getting worse. According to analysis from the Wall Street Journal released yesterday, only 55% of class of 2011 law school grads were employed full-time as lawyers nine months after graduation. The other 45% may be unemployed, working at Starbucks or starting their own law school hateblogs. Couple this with declining starting salaries (they fell $9000 between 2009 and 2010) and the fact that 85% of law school grads are facing an average debt load of $98 500 and you can see why law school as a career path has taken a public lambasting in recent years." -Forbes writer, J. Maureen Henderson (Full Article)

Just wanted to tell you that I was very impressed and moved by your U.S. MSC essay on your tumblr. It was really well put together and very eye-opening, and personally it was very reinforcing of my personal career goals. It definitely reinforced what I would like to achieve and how I would like to make a difference through social work one day. So thanks and great paper. If we ever run into each other next school year, I would definitely love to hear more about what you know/think about this subject. Very interesting!
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