Stuart’s fiery rebuttal on the student loan issue.
For those of you who like to have the facts before you come to a conclusion (i.e., wimps), here is some factual background.
Last month, the New York state bar denied admission to a would-be lawyer because he owed $400,000 in unpaid student loans. This week, Sean Carter and Stuart Teicher battle it out over the issue of whether failure to repay indebtedness is a moral failing or the new American way.
Sean Carter starts the debate here:
In this second installment of the podcast, Sean and Stuart discuss Souter’s eccentricities, the nomination of Judge Sotomayor, one firm’s decision to recruit via Second Life, and recent news stories.
May is supposed to be a happy time, isn’t it? Pretty flowers, the smell of freshly cut grass, Cinco de Mayo and baseball. Well, for this Yankee fan May has brought moans and groans- and not just from the team….it’s the new building that stinks too.
The new Yankee Stadium is a disappointment. They replaced the “House that Ruth Built” with “The House that No-one Built,” as my wife affectionately calls it. I have a different name– “The House that Steinbrenner built which is located in the parking lot of ‘The House that Ruth Built’ which, incidentally, is now the parking lot of the new Yankee Stadium.” It doesn’t have much a ring to it, I know.
The facts don’t lie: 200,000 home runs hit during the first ten games, empty seats, the A-Rod saga…I wouldn’t be surprised if the Babe himself put a plague on the place. I could see him in Baseball Heaven, smoking a stogie, laughing every time another dinger rockets out of the stadium (oops, did I say ‘Rocket?’ That’s a whole other headache).
As a fan, I guess there’s really only one option- don’t buy tickets. It appears that lots of my fellow Yankee fans are exercising that option, what with empty seats galore at each game. The lawyer in me, however, urges me to ponder my legal recourse.
Sure, I’ve thought of the obvious claims like fraud and misrepresentation. When you field a team of all-stars, pay them the kinds of salaries they’re earning and they still stink as much as they do, a ticket holder can make a colorable claim for consumer fraud. Very few fans would argue that they received the benefit of their bargain, so maybe a breach of contract claim would work as well.
Personally, I think a more proactive approach is warranted. I’d like a salary deceleration clause inserted in each Yankee player’s contract—decrease their pay for a given game by a percentage that corresponds to the number of empty seats at that game. I know what you’re saying—Donald Fehr would never go for it. My reply? Union, shmunion. Of course it would probably never hold up in court– it would probably be struck down with an argument akin to “spot zoning.” It would also probably be attacked for humanitarian reasons—I think super-agent Scott Boraswould burst a blood vessel in his head if the League ever tried it. Heck, the mere mention of it probably just gave him a headache (it’s okay Scott- pull over your Bentley, take a deep breath and relax).
Not exactly a stellar start for the new Coliseum…hey there’s an idea—maybe they’d fill those empty seats with the errant ‘man vs. lion’ match up. I can see it now: General Manager Brian Cashman running in the outfield, his tie flapping in the wind as he tries to elude Leo the Lion. Of course, that’s a kinder fate than he’d suffer at the hands of the fans.
All of the brouhaha about the latest Star Trek movie got me thinking about the true genius of its creator — Gene Roddenberry. At the very least, we can credit Roddenberry with single-handedly improving the gene pool by allowing for easy identification (and segregation) of the true dorks amongst us (i.e., those wearing Starfleet uniforms to the movie premiere and/or speaking Klingon in the line). Furthermore, he could see amazingly well into the future. By my count, the original 1960s show gave us a preview of at least three significant technological advances well before they should have been logically conceivable.
Take, for instance, Captain Kirk’s communicator — the predecessor to today’s flip phones. Roddenberry was able to think up a lightweight portable phone during a time when the average telephone weighed about 70 pounds (and that was the “slimmed down” princess phone). Furthermore, Roddenberry was able to envision that this phone would not have to be plugged into a jack on the Enterprise despite the fact that, during that time, there were cords long enough to accomplish the feat and in use in our grandmothers’ kitchens. The man was genius!
He used the same foresight in creating the first compact “floppy” disk. During this time, computer data was often stored on circular reams of film the size of, say, New England. Yet, the Enterprise’s computer could accept floppy disks to access data. And, no I’m not referring to the original disks that were actually floppy and never worked. I’m referring to the later disks that were hard and also, never worked.
Furthermore, he outfitted Uhura with the first Bluetooth device, starting a trend that is the rage today. Interestingly, Uhura and Kirk went on to make television history with the first interracial kiss, starting another trend that appears to be even more popular today (sorry, couldn’t help myself on that one). In any event, I think it’s clear that Roddenberry had an incredible predictive ability about the future, which sadly, doesn’t bode well for the future of the legal profession.
After all, in more than a dozen movies and television series, there has yet to be a prominent role for a lawyer. With a crew of thousands, the starship Enterprise doesn’t carry a single lawyer despite the fact that one of Picard’s most trusted advisors was a psychic (Deanna Troi). What in the world did he need a psychic for — in case, they ran across a race of Miss Cleos? And while I’m not so sure that Picard had much use for a lawyer, I know that Kirk needed an entire law firm to deal with his sexual harassment and paternity cases alone (at the very least, he could have used Maury Povich for those “Are You My Baby Daddy?” incidents).
Yet, in Roddenberry’s vision of the future, there were very few lawyers and these surviving few weren’t exactly F. Lee Bailey (or even, Beetle Bailey for that matter). Take, for instance, Samuel Cogley (pictured left). The only thing more confusing than the look on his face was his legal strategy; or lack thereof. Cogley was a “old school” lawyer with such a disdain for technology that he carried around a stack of law books with him in the 23rd century. He attempted to defend Kirk in a case of negligent homicide by attacking the validity of … get this … the scientific evidence. Think about it. Unless you’re representing a former Heisman trophy winner or one of the Little Rascals, that defense won’t work in the 21st century. However, to try such a defense in the future before a trier of fact consisting of Star Fleet commanders is just the kind of incompetence that might explain our future scarcity.
And no matter the cause, we have to face the fact that our profession is going the way of the dodo bird, the 8-track tape and “opposite marriage.” And the sad part is that it will happen sooner than we think. After all, it didn’t take two centuries for Roddenberry’s technological predictions to come true. In some cases, it took less than two decades. Therefore, it might be a good idea for you to start thinking up an alternative career, perhaps one in the exciting field of air conditioner and heating repair. And before you scoff, please remember that Scotty had a very prominent career as the Enterprise’s chief engineer — a job that largely consisted of keeping the ship from overheating (“It’s gonna blow, Cap’n!”). Either that, or I suggest you work on your psychic skills.
For the last week, speculation has run wild concerning Justice Souter’s replacement on the High Court. According to a recent Time magazine article, the frontrunners to replace Souter include legal luminaries such as Solicitor General Elena Kagen, Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Wood, Second Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Others have suggested that the President might reach into the political arena and pluck out Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm or current Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano. And as usual, the so-called pundits have all but ignored the most logical pick for Obama. That’s right! Former pop star and current American Idol judge Paula Abdul.
Think about it. For one, she meets all of the demographic criteria. She’s a woman. She’s relatively young. And I think she’s a person of color. In fact, given the ambiguity in her ethnic identity, she’s the ultimate “minority” justice. At present, Obama is getting pressure from both blacks and Latinos to appoint either the third African-American justice or the first Latino justice. With the right accent, Paula could pass muster with both constituencies. In fact, given her last name, Obama could probably pass her off as Arab American as well. As a result, appointing Abdul to the high court would free up the position for white men for the next half century.
Second, she meets the next most important criteria for a Supreme Court nominee — no clear record on where she might rule on the issues. In almost a decade of watching American Idol, I have yet to hear her give an opinion on abortion, stem cell research, the continuation of college football’s BCS format, or any of the other important issues likely to come before the Supreme Court in coming years. And while people might naturally assume that she is liberal, no one would go so far as to call her an “idealogue.” After all, to be an idealogue would require that she actually have ideas from time to time.
Third, the President recently said that he wanted his nominee to have “empathy.” Well, no one has more empathy than Paula Abdul. When the other judges are harshly deriding a contestants performance because it was “pitchy, dawg” or “cabaret and indulgent,” Paula always goes out of her to find a positive note. “Well, at least, you remembered most of the words and you even got a few notes in tune too. Good job!” This type of empathy would certainly come in handy when the Court hears cases involving the handicapped, the mental ill, and that adorable 16-year-old Somali pirate. As an added benefit, I’m sure that lawyers appearing before the Supreme Court would appreciate a counterbalance to Scalia’s normally gruff demeanor. I can hear Justice Abdul now. “Tony! Stop it! You big meanie!”
Perhaps the only drawback is Abdul’s nomination is her complete and utter lack of legal knowledge. Yet, I hope that Obama won’t let this minor “technicality” stand in his way. For one, the issues decided by the Court are not nearly as complex as one might imagine. As proof of this supposition, I run around the country giving a CLE course on the most recent Supreme Court term. I rest my case. And besides, it’s not like any justice other than Kennedy has a say in the outcome of these cases anyway. Quite frankly, I often wonder why the rest of them even bother to show up. If I was on the court, I’d probably make the following call twice a week. “Hey, Tony! I’m thinking about calling in sick today and going fishing, so just put me down for what you decide on the Gonzales case!” Even Paula Abdul (or one her personal assistants) can do that!
And, if you’re still not convinced, just ask yourself when was the last time the Supreme Court had a really top flight choreographer to help them prepare for their annual holiday gala. It’s been a while; at least, since Justice Frankfurter left the Court in 1962. As I see it, the person who can stop Justice Thomas from doing the “funky chicken” deserves a job with lifetime tenure; to say the very least.
Of course, you might be partial to one of the other American Idol “justices,” so here is your opportunity to vote for your favorite. The results will be announced during our next podcast.