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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Palin’

A law student client – already an MBA – said she needed convincing to drop out of her third-tier school.

I told her to calculate the return on investment for the final three semesters.

She crunched the numbers.

“Debit-wise, I’ve burned $80k in savings and I’m looking at another $100k of borrowed money. On the credit side, I might find a low-salary doc review gig.” She pretended to scratch notes. “So… big loans, interest payments, inadequate cash flow…opportunity cost of eighteen more wasted months learning legal mumbo-jumbo followed by the bar exam…”

“In other words…” I egged her on.

“I’d be totally screwed.” She affixed the cap on her pen. “Thanks. I’m convinced.”

I posed the question we were dancing around: “Why are we having this conversation?”

My client laid out the background: “My dad’s a lawyer. My mom’s a lawyer. My little brother’s taking his LSAT. This is what my family does. If I quit, I feel like I’m failing.”

She added: “It seems like it was different in my parents’ day.”

That’s because it was. A generation gap has opened in the legal world. On one side there are lawyers over-50, for whom law still looks like a safe, reliable ladder to the upper-middle-class. From the other side – where their kids are perched – law more closely resembles un ascenseur pour l’échafaud.

My client’s parents live in a time warp – a world trapped in a snow globe. Mom’s worked for 25 years as an in-house lawyer for a state college – safe, not terribly stressful (or interesting) work, with a decent salary, good hours and benefits. Dad’s worked for decades as general counsel for a local business. It’s no wonder that for them – and their generation – law still epitomizes a safe, low-stress career with good pay and benefits.

These over-50 types can’t imagine how bad it gets nowadays for someone calling himself an attorney. Their Weltanschauung doesn’t encompass windowless warehouses packed with contract lawyers logging 18-hour shifts of doc review for hourly wages, no benefits. Mom and Dad haven’t seen young partners at top firms getting de-equitized and struggling to snare in-house positions. If they knew that reality, they’d also realize their own sort of safe, steady work with benefits, a decent wage and reasonable hours constitutes a pipe dream for a kid graduating law school today.

Another client of mine – a 20-something from a decent school entering her third year in biglaw – summed up her reality thus:

“Really? I spent myself into life-long debt, endured hours of property law lectures, analyzed Erie problems on brutal exams, crammed for the bar…all so I could waste two years on doc review, then wait to get laid off (with the de rigueur bad review and zero career prospects) so someone younger and cheaper can take my seat? Really?”

If she’d studied computer science, or gotten an MBA or just quit school after college, she might have become a better-paid “e-discovery provider.” As a JD, it’s strictly “e-discovery peon.” In any case, five years from now a computer program will do doc review all by itself. As one client put it: “that’s when attorneys start living in cardboard boxes on the sidewalk.”

This isn’t your grandfather’s biglaw.

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It’s hard to conjure up bad stuff to say about clerking. It’s an honor, and an all-expense-paid ticket on an exclusive legal gravy train. If you’re lucky enough to clerk for a federal district or circuit court judge, you can rest assured you’re looking good and feeling good. You might even shoot the moon and sing with the Supremes. In that case, you’re good to go: You’ll never have to practice actual law again. You can sign up now to teach a seminar on “Law and Interpretive Dance” at Yale or attend sumptuous international human rights conferences hosted by African dictators. Life is good at the top. Imagine the stimulation of interacting one-on-one with the mind of a Clarence Thomas (and acquiring access to his porn collection.) You could be the clerk who builds an ironclad case striking down universal access to healthcare – or witness the day Justice T opens his mouth to speak during oral argument.

Even if you’re clerking for an obscure political hack (which is the norm), as a clerk you qualify to skip out of biglaw hell. The deal – as you probably know – is thus: you get to work non-law firm hours for a year, then return to the firm as though you’d suffered with the other monkeys. If you finish two clerkships, you double your fun and skip two years of Hell-on-Earth – then return with a third year’s salary!

Clerking gigs can be hard work – you could be researching and writing twelve hours a day. But you’re not putting in weekends (usually), and thanks to the court calendar, there are slow times built into the schedule. Your judge could turn out to be geriatric and losing his marbles (not a rare occurrence) or simply a lunatic – but you’re still doing substantive, important work – rather than, say, researching an un-busy partner’s attempt at a treatise or frying your brain with doc review.

Clerking is a sweet deal – one good reason to do litigation instead of corporate. As a clerk, you might learn something. That’s probably not going to happen as a junior doing corporate.

Yes, there’s a catch, and it’s a whopper: Most clerkships – a whole lot of clerkships – require relocating to the middle of freakin’ nowhere.

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There are foods no rational human would knowingly ingest:  the stuff listed on this website.

Why would you eat a double bacon peanut butter egg and cheese burger with chipotle mayo?

Because you think it will taste good.

To be precise, a little child inside you thinks it will taste good.  That little child is unconscious, and he seeks pleasure.  Freud called him the “Id.”  He doesn’t think.  He reaches for something shiny because it’s shiny.

Welcome to the appeal of Sarah Palin.

Sarah is the political equivalent of marshmallow fluff, chocolate fudge, mac & cheese and cookie dough in a deep fryer.

Why does she look like she’ll taste good – and why is she so bad for you?:

FIRST REASON:  Sarah has an easy answer for EVERYTHING.

Millions of Americans without healthcare?  Sarah would shrink government while lowering costs, cutting taxes and creating jobs.  It’s THAT SIMPLE!!

Foreign Affairs?  Sarah would stand tall against our enemies and stop terrorism in its tracks while keeping us the strongest nation in the world.

Immigration? Sarah would stand up for real Americans and protect our jobs.

The environment?  There’s plenty of oil – we just have to drill for it!  Sarah doesn’t believe in global warming.  We can do whatever we want.  That’s what the planet’s there for – having fun!

What else is there?

Who cares!

Sarah would cut taxes, build the economy, create jobs, shrink government, make America strong and bring the family back – like things used to be in the olden days!  Everything would be super!!

You betcha.

Does any of this make sense?

Does washing down a bag of Doritos with a two liter bottle of Mountain Dew and a super-size bag of peanut butter M&M’s make sense?  Does it have to make sense?

It feels good.  Until a few hours later.  When you throw up.

SECOND REASON:  Sarah’s just like you!

Palin’s Tea Party supporters are always stressing how “real” Sarah is.  That word – “real” – is code for “just like me!”  Your Id, like a small child, is by definition a narcissist – he cannot see where he stops and another person begins, so doesn’t see anyone or anything beyond his own reflection.

Neither does Sarah!

She brings you…you.  Not like that weirdo Obama, who’s…well…umm…he looks “different” –  you know what I mean?

Your Id wants to have fun.  He seeks pleasure.  That’s the “Pleasure Principle.”   Your unconscious – this child – is utterly regressed.  He likes sugar, and shiny things.  He likes Sarah.

In case you need a male Sarah Palin?  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

That would be Scott Brown.

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The phrase “addicted to oil” gets bandied about a lot with reference to the USA’s massive reliance upon – and consumption of – fossil fuels.

It’s worth taking a look at what drives an addiction, any addiction.

First, there is the physical element – the fact that, due to your genetic predisposition, you crave a substance, such as alcohol or drugs.  In the case of the USA and oil, that translates into some unique factors in our history and our geography.  Settlers from Europe “discovered” a vast, sparsely-populated continent.  They found oil there, invented the automobile, and the land grab already underway switched into high gear. Behind romanticized notions like “frontier” and “cowboy” lies a wasteful low-density settlement pattern that renders mass transit a virtual impossibility.  As a result, “the American Dream” always seems to involve owning a big house far away from everyone else, and driving hundreds of miles per day in a gas-guzzling car.

The second factor spurring addiction is aggression.  As the addict awakens to the cost of his behavior, it begins to take on a different tinge – it becomes about anger.  As one of my clients, a recovered alcoholic, told me – when you’re doing something so obviously self-destructive, there’s always a “to hell with it” attitude running things, an attitude of aggression.  You can wrap yourself up in excuses, but deep down every addict knows what he’s doing is not only self-destructive, but destructive, period.  Feeding the addiction becomes an outlet for aggression.

There are good evolutionary reasons why discharging aggression feels good.  The aggressive animal can intimidate his rivals and mate widely, producing the most off-spring.  The animal who most enjoys aggression, like the animal who most enjoys sex, is the animal who reproduces most successfully.

The problem with discharging aggression, at least in humans, is that it produces a hang-over.  You awaken to remorse.


It’s fun to chant “drill, baby, drill” with cheap demagogues like Sarah Palin and Michael Steele.  There’s a major “to hell with it” factor at play.  You don’t care about pollution – you just want to have fun, like Arnold Schwarzenegger storming LA in a Hummer or Palin blasting around a pristine forest in a snowmobile. You hate feeling deprived and controlled. You want what you want, when you want it.  Get out of my way and let me guzzle!  I’m going to get drunk tonight and Par-TAY!!!

Sounds like every alcoholic on a binge since the dawn of time.

Then comes the morning after.

It will take more than a single morning-after and one bad hang-over to wake this country up to its addiction.  At very least, it will require hitting a true bottom – like the environmental holocaust happening right now in the Gulf of Mexico.  After this calamity, there can be no more denying how far things have gone.  The USA is a sad case.  A wreck.  Let’s be realistic – we’re hard-core users.  If that oil weren’t swirling in deadly currents in the Gulf and the Atlantic right now, it would be burning in power plants and a million internal combustion engines, its deadly currents rising into our atmosphere to wreak a different kind of havoc.  We’re unleashing astonishing destruction each and every day.  We know that.

We are Americans and we are fossil fuel addicts.  We know it is bad for us.  We know it is bad for our neighbors and our family – the Earth and every species on it.  The question is whether this is it – we’ve hit bottom – or whether we’ll go right back to bingeing.  How bad does it have to get?  Can we get clean, or will we continue as we have been – following in the footsteps of so many addicts before us – killing ourselves and wrecking the lives of others.

It is a common trope in books and films about alcohol and drug addiction that to truly hit bottom you have to do something you regret for the rest of your life.  Typically, that involves causing harm or death to a helpless innocent, like a child.  The alcoholic who drives home drunk and hits a third-grader crossing the street usually sobers up, because that’s a pretty awful bottom to hit.

We’re there.  Take a look at the pictures of wildlife destroyed by this spill.

We did that, because of our addiction.

It’s time to own the situation – to get clean and sober.  Enough is enough.

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Sarah Palin’s nickname in high school was “Sarah Barracuda.”

Supposedly, this reflected “her competitive streak.”

Charming.

How did this happen?  How does a child grow up with a grasping nature so extreme that she becomes nicknamed after a vicious carnivorous fish?

There aren’t many clues in Palin’s early biography, which reads like a carefully pruned and polished star cheerleader’s resume…which, of course, it is.

Sarah was born the third of four children.  That’s our one clue.  Perhaps she had to compete for attention with older and younger siblings.

At some point in Sarah’s life – I’d guess the first five minutes – she decided there wasn’t enough out there for her.  At least, not enough out there for her if she was going to share any of it with anyone else.

Maybe it was a sense of poverty.  Maybe the Palins were poorer than their neighbors.  Or maybe competing with those siblings was enough.  But somewhere during that childhood, profound feelings of deprivation developed in Sarah’s psyche, and a famine mentality set in.

After that, all we can do is sit back and watch a mighty appetite gobble everything in its path.

When people are subjected to a severe deprivation, like a famine, they hoard and deny others and generally act in ways they aren’t proud of.  During the famine in China that occurred as a result of Mao’s Great Leap Forward campaign in the late 1950’s, widespread starvation led to cannibalism among the rural peasantry.  Hunger can drive people to do terrible things.  They can turn vicious.

A bit like a barracuda, tearing off hunks of flesh to gulp down its maw.

A bit like Sarah Palin.

Here’s a charming quote from the Barracuda herself:  “I love meat. I eat pork chops, thick bacon-burgers, and the seared fatty edges of a medium-well-done steak. But I especially love moose and caribou.”

The mental image is of a gaping mouth, with sharp teeth.

How about her politics?  Could they even be considered politics?  Mostly, it boils down to Sarah, Sarah, Sarah – and making money for Sarah.

She quit her job as governor to give speeches to the highest bidder, write a book and work on tv – all for enormous sums of cash.

She was willing to speak (and no doubt thrill and inspire) the Tea Party wackos – for many, many thousands of dollars.

Even when she was working for John McCain, it was clearly all about Sarah – her expensive clothes, her big family (she has five children), her gigantic super-church, her enormous state – even the humongous “big box” stores she enticed to the little town of Wasilla to replace its now-moribund downtown.

Something in Sarah’s background left her feeling hungry – deeply hungry – and she is still grabbing up everything at the table.  Her “politics” are a philosophy of greed.  She can get married – but gay people can’t.  She doesn’t want to pay taxes – even to help other Americans survive.  She’s got her healthcare – if you don’t have yours, well, tough luck.  She’ll drill for every drop of oil in a nature sanctuary until her giant SUV is purring like a kitten, slurping it all down, belching, and demanding more. Immigrants can stay out – this country is Sarah’s, securely stolen from indigenous peoples and guarded with guns guns guns and more guns, wonderful guns.  Sarah doesn’t like government – she wants to go it alone, because she’s got hers, and you can worry about yourself, thank you very much.

Sarah wants to get a gun and go out in nature and kill something beautiful and devour it.

A couple more charming quotes:

“If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?”

“I always remind people from outside our state that there’s plenty of room for all Alaska’s animals – right next to the mashed potatoes.”

Sarah is a predator.  She’s earning a lot of money chomping her way through a frightened minority of mostly older, white Americans who are terrified of the future and will buy all the double-cheeseburgers, super-size fries and giant cokes they need to maintain a secure perimeter of human fat cells.  Hunkered down in their gated retirement communities, clinging to their beloved guns, they crouch by the glow of their wall-size flat-screen plasma tv’s and defend what’s rightfully theirs – which is to say, everything.

Sarah represents insecurity in love.  Somewhere along the way, early on, she decided there wasn’t any love out there for her.  So she had no love to spare for anyone else.

Kill or be killed.  Eat or be eaten.

There’s room for you next to the mashed potatoes.

That’s the barracuda’s creed.

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