Friday, October 31, 2008

My endorsement

Cherished readers, I know I’m hardly your first source for hard-hitting political commentary. In fact, I try to keep anything too far off the topic of Harvard, Cambridge, or at least my own life out of this blog entirely. But with something so important coming up in just a couple of days, I wanted to let you know some of my thoughts regarding this year’s Presidential election. I hope you won’t mind if I set up my soap box here just for a moment.

Over the past eight years, I’ve seen billions—soon to be trillions—of dollars spent on a divisive, deceptively plotted war that could have been spent lowering my college tuition or funding my mom’s underprivileged public elementary school. I’ve seen gay friends and loved ones demeaned by wave upon wave of state laws and amendments limiting their rights and social standing. I’ve seen my medication costs skyrocket after the deals between drug manufacturers and college health clinics like mine, which once made prescription birth control affordable on a student budget, were outlawed. (Apparently President Bush thinks I am less likely to engage in behaviors he disapproves of if they become less safe. Maybe next we should make airbags and seatbelts more expensive to discourage drunk driving.) Finally, as a vegetarian who used to enjoy freedom from food-borne illnesses like salmonella and E.coli, I’ve seen that fringe benefit disappear because of the weak and ineffectual FDA born from big agriculture's massive contributions to George Bush.

These are only a few ways my life has changed under Bush policies, and they are just a drop in the bucket of nationwide suffering these past eight years. My troubles are nothing compared with the loss and confusion of the family whose soldier dies needlessly overseas or people losing their homes due to predatory mortgages they didn’t understand and market nosedives they couldn’t predict. They are nothing compared with the fears of people facing illness or disability without medical insurance or whose public housing has been abandoned by the government, then demolished and never replaced. Homes are still uninhabitable, families still adrift in the bungled cleanup of New Orleans that should have been finished two years ago. Osama Bin Laden is still missing. Women still earn up to a fifth less than men putting in the exact same hours on the exact same jobs. And in the worst assault yet on what America stands for, prisoners are still being detained in Guantanamo Bay without formal charges. This is the Bush legacy.

This tirade may sound overly focused on a man who isn’t running for President right now—but I say it because I just can’t believe things will be different enough if John McCain is elected. He vows to continue the Iraq war in pursuit of a victory his own experience should tell him will never come. His health care plan is eerily similar to those useless Bush rebate checks: send Americans cash so they can “choose” for themselves… between for-profit corporate insurers accountable to no one. He has voted over and over against helping women achieve pay equity or gain access to the contraception that would prevent many of the abortions he so opposes. Despite his newly-professed belief in economic regulation, nothing in his recent record indicates that he’ll defy his party’s close ties with corporations to do what’s right for the rest of us. And he has almost completely backed off from the anti-torture stance that once made him such a class act.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama has demonstrated sincere concern for the social justice issues our government has neglected far too long: poverty, race inequality, public education, the environment, equal rights, civil liberties, health care, and more. He wants a shot at fixing these things without worsening our calamitous national deficit. I say we give him one.
I believe John McCain is a patriot who has spent his life—and nearly lost his life—in service to his country. However, he doesn’t know what’s best for this country anymore. After too many years in league with an out-of-touch party and a reckless administration, he simply isn’t a compassionate choice for President of the United States.
Barack Obama is, and I’ll be voting for him on November 4, and I hope you will too.
Thanks for listening, and we’ll be back to the regular material next week.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Greetings from sunny El Paso!

In the week since I last posted, I've been let out on fall break (hence the absence of posts about HLS!) I'm spending the week with my dad's side of the family, and while some of you loyal readers are actually here right now, I'm sure the rest are curious what I've been up to.
And I can't think of a better way to explain than this:

Isn't she wonderful?
Well, I hope you're all having a week as lovely as mine. But I doubt it!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

By popular demand

Here it is, folks: proof that I live in New England in autumn!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Moving right along

So the semester continues on, and fall is advancing at the same breakneck clip as everything else around here. I seem to be settling into a steady enough routine, though unfortunately one that involves coming home after dark at least a couple of nights each week.

The week or so since I last posted has been eventful as ever. Monday was especially packed, with a meeting of my great Medicine, Ethics, and Law Through Film reading group back-to-back with a lovely banquet for the Public Service Initiative. Also, I may not have made it to Scalia last Thursday, but I did check out an appearance by the ever-controversial Dr. Jack Kevorkian. I even snapped a picture to prove it:

That's him at the podium, and beside him is Harvard Law's famous professor Alan Dershowitz.

Politics of euthanasia aside, I always found Dr. Kevorkian a little creepy. It seemed bad to have a guy I would've associated with death on looks alone serving as spokesman for physician-assisted suicide. But in person, he appeared far healthier and more relatable than he ever seemed on 60 Minutes. He used the word "nincompoops" to describe the Supreme Court- it was very humanizing.

Also this week, I had a mock hearing in preparation for my work with the Tenant Advocacy Project. TAP is a group of students who, under lawyers' supervision, represent public housing tenants who are facing eviction or other problems with their landlords or housing authorities. The hearing went well- my only real mistake was being too timid about cutting my "client" short when she started to ramble- and now I'm feeling less nervous about having a real case before long. 1L's are allowed to work in pairs on their first case, and a classmate has already asked me to work with him, which I took as a real compliment. Exciting!

A few other exciting things are coming up soon:
  • The moot court Harvard is about to host for a real Supreme Court case! A lawyer who will soon argue before the Court is coming next week to try out his oral arguments before a "court" of nine experts, among whom is my Torts professor. We're all expected to go watch, and are being assigned the case materials for reading next week so we'll understand it all. We Harvard nerds find this very thrilling, even if it does coincide with the stress of our final memo due date for LRW.
  • Training for my Election Day activity of choice: exit polling for a professor who's studying polling places, race issues, and general voter trends in Boston. My work can spot election law violations and help assess this election once it's all over!
  • Fly-out week, the fall break 1L's get to enjoy while 2L's and 3L's travel the country for job interviews. I'm headed to El Paso to see my baby sister... and get warm.

Between this wealth of outside opportunity and the more steady, predictable struggle of keeping up with my reading and dragging my butt to class, I've definitely got my hands full. In fact, I think Russell worries about me a little. But I watched TV tonight and even found time to write you guys a nice, long update. So you be the judge.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nino et al.

Today the whole school is in a twitter because Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is on campus to give a lecture. Half the student body must be packed into the Ames Courtroom as I type- I think it says something about our general nerdiness that this is a much bigger deal than when Alec Baldwin showed up for a talk on fathers in family law a few weeks ago.

It made for an interesting day: one of my classmates found out that Scalia actually taught Legislation and Regulation to Section 4 this morning! (After which I spent most of lunchtime swapping "Dude, we go to Harvard Law" moments with him and a few others- turns out I'm not alone.) Later, I learned that another classmate once had a boss who called all the Supreme Court Justices by their first names or nicknames, and Scalia's is "Nino."

Now, "Nino" is hardly my favorite Supreme Court Justice, but I'd probably be in Ames with everyone else if I weren't in desperate need for some time at home during this unusually long day. Thursdays are always longest for my section because of their spread-out class schedule, but today I have Tenant Advocacy Project training tacked on from 6 to 9 at night, too. So at 3:30, when Legal Research and Writing let out early for Scalia's speech, I couldn't resist heading home for a little bit. (Maybe I could have resisted for Ruth Bader Ginsburg- but hey, someday I may just get the chance.)

Either way, walking home only to come back in two hours proved surprisingly worthwhile, because being outdoors in Cambridge today is a joy: the weather is crisp and sunny, with just a hint of fall color starting to show up on the trees. Combined with the fact that tomorrow is Friday, and I finished all tonight's reading during breaks today so I could watch the Vice Presidential debate this evening, and Russell's job placement with the Harvard Disability Services Coordinator is going swimmingly, and Thai is on the menu at TAP training tonight... this makes for a pretty good feeling overall.

Hoping you're all just as happy- if maybe a little less busy. Until next time, love to everyone!