Monday, June 30, 2008

"Let it [flow], let it [flow], let it [flow]!"

Well, it looks like the Bush administration has been working on a short term solution to the oil dilemma afterall. After years of fighting in Iraq, in what the liberals had called a war for oil (before citing personal vendettas Bush had against Saddam), it looks like we may finally see some of that oil. 5 major U.S. oil companies apparently have negotiated behind the scenes with the Iraqi government. Hopefully an influx of new sources of oil will result in an alleviation of the gas prices a bit. Psychologically it should make people feel better, and that's where most of the damage has been done.

You stay classy,


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Updates, Part Deux (that's Part 2 for you non-Frenchies)

So I recently came to the realization that I only have a few weeks left here in Spartanburg. What initially was proposed to be a long, boring summer, in which I would immerse myself in work to escape the mundane small-city life, has turned out to be a great experience that has zipped right by (sorry to end a sentence in a preposition, but I'm too lazy to re-write it). Although I admittedly have not been out and about, taking advantage of the nightlife that I have discovered along the way, I have made a number of wonderful contacts, and have been incredibly productive this summer. I have placed a few new pegs in my places-to-visit map, driving throughout the South and discovering a few famous places along the way (see my previous post on the Beacon, for example).

Yesterday, we had a going-away reception for one of the attorneys. It was held at an unbecoming, local wine store, a true gem that I had not even noticed as I passed it to and from work each day. They have an excellent selection of wines from around the world, and at great prices, too. I returned this evening after work for a wine tasting, where a packed house sampled a spectrum of Spanish wines. I snagged a few bottles on my way out (pinot noir, petite syrah, and a French burgundy table wine). I started on the pinot noir, the safest of the three -- Mark West, from California. This was actually one of the most popular wines at my old restaurant gig, as a server at the Ft. Lauderdale Pan-Asian restaurant, Wild East.

Also, I have put it off long enough, but I'm getting back in the gym. Freshly motivated to regain my pre-law school bulk (when I was working out 5-6 times a week). I've always been cyclical with working out. Between my Sophomore and Junior years, I worked out like an animal. Then, during my junior year I got a girlfriend, and all that training dwindled. After I got out of college, I immediately started working a full-time job. The commute was a solid hour and change, so I often lacked the energy to keep up a routine. After some time, I discovered a Bally's nearby, then the firm packed up and moved from its Coral Gables location to downtown Miami, with no Bally's nearby (the ensuing battle to cancel my membership is a story for another day). After some time off from the weights, while working on law school applications and working a couple of part-time jobs, I joined up at the nearby Shula Athletic Club. Much like the post-Sophomore year summer, I bulked up. Then a minor time commitment called "law school" came around, and the gym has been on the backburner ever since. So, it's about time that I got back on that horse. I have SOME free time now, and as a 3L, I should be able to manage my time and keep it going hardcore for the year (at least until the bar exam and a 100-hour-per-week firm job).

Then again, I'm looking at the Fall courses, and I want to take 8 or 9 classes. Yeah, probably not gonna happen. As it is, I'm signed up for 7 of them. And I'm thinking of dropping arguably the easiest one (Employment Practices) for a personal interest, "fun" course in Securities Regulation (well, it IS what I want to practice, in part). I have to figure out what I'm doing this upcoming semester, class-wise. But all that can wait until August 21, when classes start up. I have several job fairs to attend, and a loooong list of prospective employers to whom I plan to send resumes. Gonna be a busy month.

Finally, for those of you in South Florida, let me know if you'll be around for the 4th of July weekend. I'm planning to head down the day before and to stay through the weekend. And Marta's school seems to hate its student body -- it scheduled all summer term law exams for July 5-7. Seriously? You're gonna schedule exams for the 3 days after July 4th? That's un-American. What the hell is that? In any case, my girlfriend will have her nose in a Real Estate Transactions textbook for 2/3 of my trip down to Miami. So, if any of my buddies wanna hang out, drop me a line.

Until then...

You stay classy,


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Personal Updates

Just wanted to give you an update on a few things. Yesterday, June 23, marked exactly 1 month remaining for my summer position. Time really has flown by! Also yesterday, the dogs got haircuts. See below for the Guapo "before," the Lola "before" and the combined "after" shot.

Clearly, a lot of fur has been removed. I opted to go for the short cuts, rather than the traditional schnauzer cut, since we're getting into the hottest time of the year and all. I figured they'd be more comfortable with shorter coats.

Oh, and I snapped the photos with my new camera:

Gotta love new toys, right?

You stay classy,


Monday, June 16, 2008

Is Drudge Screwing with the Liberals?

Throughout this primary season, I have been surprised to see so much Obama coverage on the Drudge Report. As a strong conservative and regular viewer of the site, it honestly was starting to bother me. Apparently I wasn't the only one to notice, as one article went so far as to suggest that he liked Obama. See this article from the Politico, for example. I cringe at the thought. But I also find it interesting that soon after the Dem primary was wrapped up, Obama coverage was bumped. In fact, just a few hours ago Al Gore endorsed Obama -- seemingly a big news story for those interested in the campaign and supporting Obama. Yet, you have to scroll down to the bottom of the articles to see it. Btw, he usually highlights in red the big, breaking news articles.

Instead, the top of the webpage has links to the recent flooding in Iowa, a positive story about Bush visiting Europe, recent news from the Supreme Court, and news about the Saudis agreeing to pump out more oil.

So, could it be that Drudge was in the plan that Rush Limbaugh famously dubbed, "Operation Chaos"? Rush -- if you recall from the Texas primary / caucus -- was promoting votes for Hillary Clinton once it appeared Obama had locked up the nomination. Perhaps Drudge was the yang to Rush' yin?

Or, maybe Drudge is so convinced that Obama is the weaker candidate (as many Republican genuinely believe), and he wanted to help set up a general election matchup against him.

If so, it was genius, and it got plenty of media attention. Maybe it even caused some Republicans to crossover and vote for him in some of the open primaries.

Whatever the case may have been, now that we are in the general election, I encourage everyone out there to put in your vote for McCain. It is scary to think of all the wrong changes Obama would try to make to this country, were he elected President. We can't let that happen.

You stay classy,


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect

During my first year of law school, it was a laborious task to write a Closed Memorandum (an analysis of legal issues from a "closed" set of sources).

Then, I moved on to an Open Memorandum, where the entire legal universe was up for grabs in my paper. I didn't know where to start, what it was that I was looking for, how to look for it... I was lost. Then, once I DID find some research, I had to figure out how to use it, and how to piece things together into a coherent and persuasive argument. But even then I had some guidance. We had mandatory and optional conferences with our legal writing professor, and we could express concerns and seek help. After much effort, I managed to throw a little something together.

The summer after my first year, I interned with a judge in Miami. My job was to review arguments on appeals the court was scheduled to hear. I would read and research both sides in each case, and then I would embark on additional research. Most of this research was related to Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure (courses I had not yet taken in law school), so I was kind of learning on the go. However, the experience was great, and I began writing memoranda with great efficiency and ease.

Fast forward to the present day.

I've been working about 3 1/2 weeks now, and I've worked on all sorts of legal matters (Employment, Securities, Property, Franchise, Contracts, and many other topics). What I really have noticed, however, is the ease with which I'm pumping out these memos now. Within the past couple days, I threw together a 26 pager, outlining 8 arguments that could win in court.

Although I never appreciated the legal writing experiences I have had in the past, the results are beginning to show -- particularly my skills in analysis and argumentation.

So for those of you about to start law school, or just finishing your first year and dreading having to write memos all summer long... just relax, take it in as a learning experience, and it will pay dividends down the road.

You stay classy!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Proper Respect

So, apparently I'm a little ideological and partisan in many of my blog posts, so I wanted to take a moment to recognize all the good things the Democrat-controlled Congress has actually accomplished. The Democrats have helped this country by doing the following:

Impressive list, huh?

You stay classy,


Monday, June 09, 2008

Energy Hypocrisy (continued)

While listening to the radio on my way back from work this evening, I realized I completely forgot to mention one of the worst offenders in the insultingly high gas prices -- OPEC.

I heard an unsettling statistic on the radio. Although we are buying oil at over $135 per barrel, OPEC's oil production costs are less than $2 per barrel. You read that correctly. OPEC is hosing us for over $130 per barrel in profit. I knew it was bad, but wow... that is really bad. I'm gonna have to bump Congress down to the #2 worst offender spot, now.

OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is a group of 12 states. These states are:

1. Algeria
2. Angola
3. Indonesia
4. Iran
5. Iraq
6. Kuwait
7. Libya
8. Nigeria
9. Qatar
10. Saudi Arabia
11. United Arab Emirates
12. Venezuela

There are a few thoughts that immediately come to mind, as I peruse this list.

Iraq -- where are our oil revenues? Rupert Murdoch, some time again, predicted that the oil from Iraq would result in $20 per barrel of oil. Yeah, that's really worked out. So much for the liberal claims that this war was about oil. If it was, the Iraqis "ain't payin up!"

Iran / Venezuela -- is it really a surprise to see OPEC screwing us on oil prices with these two countries on the list? They are led by total scumbags, Chavez and Ahmadinejad, who hate the United States and would do anything harm us.

I heard Bill O'Reilly talking on the radio earlier, and he was calling out the group of OPEC "thugs," citing the obvious notion that it's a national security issue to be relying on so many foreign sources of energy.

But he took it a step farther, arguing that government needed to mandate higher fuel efficiency standards and to require all kinds of hybrid and new technology vehicles. Last time I checked, people are feeling the crunch of higher gas prices, and the market already is figuring it out. Just a couple days ago, I heard that a major car maker (I want to say Ford, but I can't recall) is nixing a huge chunk of SUV and Truck sales in favor of more fuel efficient cars. We really don't need government getting into it and screwing around with the market. Market mechanisms are driven by supply and demand, with the largest factor being profitability. Unless you have spent that last few years living in an underground nuclear fallout bunker (I'm thinking that Brandon Frazier movie, "Blast from the Past"), it's impossible not to know that gas is expensive and that fuel efficiency is important. And the market reflects that. Car makers are touting the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, and many now offer a locked-in $2.99 per gallon gas price with a new vehicle.

But I will let you in on a little secret: the math has been done, and when you compare a normal gas-guzzling SUV to one of the new hybrid SUVs, it takes over 3 years for you compensate for the higher pricetag in gas savings. So, is it really worth that extra few thousand bucks? Only if you do a serious amount of driving.

Anyway, I just wanted to throw in that tidbit about those thieves OPEC.

You stay classy,


Friday, June 06, 2008

Energy Hypocrisy

We've all experienced, one way or another, the ever-increasing gas prices. And as people point fingers and look for answers, the most popular target is inevitably... the oil companies. The companies who are making record profits, while the "price at the pump" is affecting daily decisions, making us choose the Wendy's or Taco Bell value menu, instead of spending $8-10 on a better quality meal elsewhere. While it is true that the price has in fact risen, it is hardly the oil companies who are to blame. I'll explain (and please keep in mind that I do not receive any money or support from these companies... this is all me).

Historically, the oil companies have made a percentage profit on every dollar of oil. For argument's sake, let's say 5%. So, if gas is $1 per gallon, the companies get $0.05 for each gallon you pump. If the price quadruples (as it has) to $4 per gallon, that same 5% rate would also quadruple the dollar amount of oil company profit ($0.20 per dollar, in this example). So, technically the oil companies are in fact making a killing off the price of oil jumping, but they haven't changed their "going rate." By the way, neither have the Federal and State governments. Check out this chart, and look at each oil company's profits compared to the total amount of taxes collected:

(click the image to enlarge)

Courtesy of the Tax Foundation

As you can see, the government pockets 2-3 times as much for each dollar than what the oil companies are collecting. Maybe people should start pointing their fingers at their local and federal government instead. Granted, given the huge profits, the oil companies COULD take in less profit to lower the price of gas. But they should not be vilified for making their profits. They are in the business of making money off of importing and selling oil. Last I checked, that wasn't the government's line of work.

It surely wasn't the oil companies that designed and sold all these bigger, fuel inefficient SUVs. It wasn't the oil companies who stand in the way of additional drilling in domestic locations, like in Alaska and off the coast of Florida. It wasn't the oil companies standing in the way of building new oil refineries.

1) Oil companies didn't make and sell bigger, fuel inefficient SUVs

The big car companies banked on the attractiveness of bigger, tougher, better trucks and SUVs. And Americans fully bought into it. Having a big, bad truck or SUV pads our egos and makes us feel bigger and tougher. Hell, the few times I've borrowed my parents' Chevy Suburban and stopped at a light next to a small compact car, I felt automotively-superior (not sure that's a real term, but whatever). On an unrelated note, I recently heard on the news that Hollywood hypocrites stars feel the "in" or "cool" thing is to be seen in a Toyota Prius. Yeah, ok.

2) Oil companies aren't standing in the way of domestic drilling

As the price of oil climbs higher and higher, these companies are pocketing their short-term profits, but they have to have long-term concerns. With the current trend, of oil prices, people will begin making drastic changes to their daily lives, avoiding driving, using bikes, moving closer to work, working closer to home, working from home... anything to avoid having to spend sky-high prices on oil. That's why some of the companies are investing big bucks on hybrid and other new technologies. But if the companies want to stay in business, as they know it, they need to find some more oil. It's in their interest to find and to pump out more of the black gold. So, why aren't we drilling in domestic locations, where we know there are rich oil deposits? Our Democrat-controlled Congress is standing in the way, saying we will ruin the environment by drilling. This is an obvious pander to the liberal tree-hugger segment of the base, but the arguments have no merit.

While Dems complain about how we'll ruin the lives of the caribou in the area, the Alaskans (who presumably would hate such a horrible environmental disaster) are actually big supporters of the drilling. It will create job for the state, and surely will pump money into the local and state economies. So, those concerns are b.s.

How about the oil deposits off the gulf coast, off the western coast of Florida. Well, more concerns about the oil spilling out into the ocean and harming the sea life. However, the reality is that our technology has improved to the point where we can drill safely off the coast while avoiding such disasters. During Hurricane Katrina, not that long ago, nearly 1,000 oil rigs off the Louisiana coast were damaged or destroyed. Do you remember all those stories about oil seeping out everywhere? No, I don't either. That's because not a single one of the rigs gave off any oil. Our technology has improved the risks of potential environmental hazards to the point where they are not a major concern.

3) Oil companies want more refineries

They import the crude oil, and they want to sell it to us. Well, it has to get refined first. We have not built a new refinery in over 30 years, and all of the current refineries are filled beyond their desired capacities. They are prepping that gasoline for us as fast as they can, but unless we have more of them, it's hard to keep up with the steadily rising demand of new drivers in a growing population. Again, these companies want more oil to come in. Limiting the amount that can be processed does not help achieve that goal. I can't recall the state (I'm thinking South Dakota, but I'm not 100% sure) that recently voted in favor of a ballot initiative to build a new refinery. I heard about it on the news, and they mentioned how it would be the first in almost 4 decades. The next comment was, "Well, it remains to be seen what will happen now... the environmental groups are soon going to get involved."

Which creates a perfect transition to my next planned post on the theory of Global Warming... the environmental hoax du jour.

So, you stay tuned. But more importantly...

You stay classy


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Change We Can Relieve Ourselves In

As I sit here watching Obama's democrat primary "victory" speech, I am astonished by the applause and cheers to comments that mean absolutely nothing.

As the audience shouts "Yes we can," I wonder if they know what they propose it is that they can do. Oh wait, I forgot... Change, right? They're going to bring the "right" change, or "change we can believe in," or "change to Washington."

Obama makes the same misleading statements over and over again.

"McCain is a 3rd Bush term" -- this is ridiculous. McCain and Bush practically hate one another, and McCain is best known for pissing off Republicans as a "maverick."

"McCain wants a 100-year war in Iraq" -- Mac actually wants to do the job the right way (the way we should have done in Vietnam before retreating), scaling down the forces as the circumstances dictate, and eventually reducing the presence to that of what we have in Japan or South Korea. A presence of 20,000-30,000 soldiers at a base, who will not be actively fighting or taking casualties.

These are just a coupe examples. I'd add more, but frankly I get upset just repeating them, and I have some work to do.

By the way, nowhere in these speeches does Obama say what the heck he plans to do about any of the problems facing this country. When he does offer up a plan, it's usually a plainly stupid one. And he responds to criticism by tweaking his answer.

Case in point: One of the primary ways he separated himself from Hillary Clinton in the primary was by vowing to meet with our enemies and the leaders of nations that openly hate us "without preconditions." He was clear about it in the debates. Now, after he tied the liberals around his pinkie finger and set his sights on the general, he is saying he would go into the meetings with a strict agenda setting out



He backtracks and tries to parse his words. Do most politicians do such things? Sure they do. But they do not proclaim to be Washington outsiders, bringing a new type of politics. He is using the same old political tricks, and he is proposing many of the same old failed policies of the past: bigger government, more taxes, more regulation, higher tariffs on trade, taking advantage of the segments of the society that feel victimized and offering up benefits galore with no way to pay for them.

At first glance, it may be surprising that so many "smart people" support Obama -- college students, graduates, professors. But it actually makes a lot of sense. College students are very idealistic, thinking they can make such a big difference and change or do anything. The gobble up this "change" message like one of my dogs when I toss them some cheese. And many graduates and professors are in the most liberal block of the democrat party.

Update: Obama just said in his speech that we will look back on history and say that "this was the moment when we decided we would provide for the sick." Right, because before the Dems named Obama their candidate, nobody has cared about sick people.

I am stupefied by how many people chant and cheer along to the empty rhetoric.

And as poor as the political environment has been for Republicans lately, I am anxious to get into the general election debates, where Obama cannot hide from these questions anymore. Let's see if he can withstand the Republican "political machine" and the Mac attack.

Obama's message is like a toilet, and the GOP will do to the former what most people do on the latter, post-Taco Bell.

You stay classy,