Monday, August 30, 2004

NOT GUILTY

Today I had my first full trial, which was for failure to obey the lawful orders of a police officer. My client, CK, was found not guilty after 30 minutes of deliberation by the 6-person jury.

Most of my case involved attacking the only state witness - Commander O'Leary. I tried to drive home the notion that he was acting recklessly during the anti-war protest, and that the arrest of CK was also reckless. I also portrayed him as distrustful and contradictory. I believe my most brilliant move was maneuving in jury selection to keep a key juror - a gentleman who was later the foreman of the jury and very sympathetic to our case.

I objected about 6 times and all were sustained. The prosecutor made several missteps - I only caught about half in time.

Ultimately I allowed CK to testify and I think he came across as honest and not at all violent - as the prosecutor and O'Leary tried to portray him. I also had a reporter from the Austin Chronicle testify. He came across as trustworthy, and added to the impeachment of O'Leary. Among other things, he was able to testify that O'Leary sprayed him and other reporters with pepper spray directly, even though O'Leary had just testified that he only sprayed into the air.

Paraphrasing part of my closing arguments: "In this country we do not punish people for exercising their 1st Amendment rights. Indeed, we provide added protection for political speech such as this. But CK has already been punished. He was punished by Commander O'Leary on that day, when he was pepper-sprayed, arrested, thrown to the ground, and thrown in a paddy wagon. The punishment stops here today. The rights of assembly and speech that our neighbors exercised on that day are critical to a functioning democracy, as is the jury system that you are all a part of today. Each of your opinions and thoughts are critical to a decision in this case. Thank you for your time."

Sunday, August 29, 2004

SEBASTIAN THE DOG


Sebastian the Dog
Originally uploaded by Carlos Villarreal.

So here's the dog that I own. He's part whippett and part something else. My biggest problem with him is he likes to attack other dogs sometimes. If we meet another dog on the street, he will sometimes bite it on the face. He can be vicious sometimes, though he never randomly attacks people. He did once bite my friend forrest in the nose when he was dancing in my living room and he bit david also one time when he was trying to get Sebastian inside. But if he meets random people on the street he's real nice or just ignores them.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

FAT ALBERT, TELEVISION, SITTING, SELLING AND LEAVING

The other day I was riding the bus in Austin and I noticed a woman wearing a t-shirt with the image of Fat Albert and his gang watching television in amazement, and the image of the twin towers under attack appearing on the television screen. The text said something like, "September 11, 2001: The Day Everything Changed." I wondered why anyone would produce such a shirt, much less purchase it, much less wear it, much less wear it in public.

Yesterday I spent most of the day loading a giant crate with my furniture and boxed items. It's one of these services where they leave the crate at your door, you load it up and they take it away. Then in two weeks or so, it appears at your new address. Unfortunately that means that for two weeks or so, I will be living with only the possessions that fit in the trunk of my car, my dog, and an air mattress.

I have to admit that I miss my television quite a bit. Not because there was anything interesting on, but just because it made my life less quiet, and less contemplative. It was a simple way to fill empty moments in my life. I often had it on with the sound muted. I was raised with television as a constant presence, and I notice when it isn't around.

The only thing I miss more than my television are places to sit. It is really hard to do anything in your house if you have no place to sit down besides the floor and the toilet.

This past weekend I had a moving sale. I knew the so-called "earlybirds" existed, but I didn't realize how aggresive they could be. The sale was posted as starting at 8 am, but people were on my front porch and looking through my windows by 7:15 am. About a quarter of the items I was selling were snatched up the moment I brought them out of my home. Someone even bought the microwave that at one time had a roach living in its clock. I made nearly $300 in total, with about $30 coming from items left in my house by former roommates - THAT'S 10%!!!

When am I leaving, you ask. I'm really milking the whole moving thing, you say. Damn, this is the first time I've done something like this in my life, except for Boston, but that was just for one summer, and it was a total disaster. Give me a break! Anyway, my plan is to litigate my first trial this coming Monday and to be in El Paso or New Mexico by Tuesday night.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

IGNORING THE LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES OF LESSER-EVILISM

I haven't decided on the best plan to deal with this year's election. A Green-Safe-States Strategy? A Nader-Hopeless-But-Genuine-Alternative Strategy? A Kerry-Defeat-Bush Strategy? A Bush-Consolidate-Opposition Strategy?

I'm most sympathetic at this point to voting for Nader or Cobb - assuming they are on the ballot. One of the reasons is because of a problem I see with the Leftist-Pro-Kerry camp. I respect these folks, but I disagree with their central arguments.

They believe that a vote for Kerry is really a vote against Bush, and acknowledge that we have a lot of work to do after a Kerry victory. They might say something like, "Vote for Kerry, then take to the streets the next day." They often recognize the problems with lesser-evilism, but believe this is a unique election with higher stakes. This year the most important thing is simply to defeat Bush. Finally, they will argue, as Tariq Ali does, that it is easy to support a 3rd party candidate when you are relatively comfortable - but Bush's policies are actually affecting people, killing people, and causing suffering.

This argument is short-sided and sometimes used as a way to silence opponents of lesser-evilism.

First, I think we need to strip away the Bush opposition based mostly on a visceral reaction to his appearance and his style. One of the ways Democrats have managed to push their party to the right is by wrapping their proposals in much more appealing packages. These proposals, like cutting taxes on corporations or kicking desperate families off of welfare, would have been unacceptable a couple of decades before, even if Republicans attempted them. We work with the United Nations, under Democrats, to starve the children of Iraq. We are "peacekeepers," under Democrats, when we bomb poor people, and we are sensitive about using words like "crusade" when we enforce our policies overseas through violence.

Of course there is a difference between Kerry and Bush, and I'm willing to acknowledge that fewer people will suffer under a Kerry presidency. But, I think there is a chance, maybe 20% or so, that any differences in suffering throughout the world will be negligible and a smaller chance, maybe 5% or so, that suffering will increase under a Kerry presidency. Still, the chances are greater that fewer people will have their homes bombed and more children will have health care under Kerry. That is a real difference that has a real effect on human lives.

This type of argument, however, can probably always be made as we look at two candidates from the two dominant parties. The policies of the dominant party in the United States, as long as we remain as powerful as we are now, always have an affect on people's lives in this country and throughout the world. One choice over the other for U.S. president will always lead to more or less suffering, more or less human misery, and more or less death and destruction because of the power that office has in a very powerful government. The real question is how much suffering will be caused in the long run by consistently falling into the lesser-evilism trap every four years, while both parties continue to move to the right.

It isn't necessarily true that things have to get worse before they get better, but it seems inevitable that things will continue to get worse until we can crack the two dominant parties. We will never accomplish that by destroying third party candidates out of fear and guilting their struggling supporters. If a Kerry victory makes a slight difference in the short-term, it will only prop up the continuing move to the right in this country. A vote for Kerry may slow-down that move, but it simultaneously strengthens a movement among the rich and powerful in this country to cut social programs, dominate the globe, and force millions into wage-slavery. If not now, then when will we halt this downward cycle?

Monday, August 16, 2004

THE LIBERAL ARGUMENT FOR STAYING IN IRAQ

This is from the Guardian, written by Kamil Mahdi - an Iraqi and professor:

Some liberals who opposed the war subsequently adopted an argument that the US and Britain now have a responsibility to remain in Iraq and to see to it that the country arrives at the safe shores of democracy and stability.

This argument is based on the presumption that, left alone, Iraq would fall into internecine conflict which only the US and Britain, being such civilised and civilising nations, could address. This was always a convenient myth, but the repeated military offensives against Iraqi cities must now make it clear that chaos and internecine conflict is with us already, and it is being expanded and prolonged by foreign military forces.

It is time to set an early date for a complete withdrawal of foreign forces and then to ask what can and should be done to help Iraq.


I am in complete agreement.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

PUERTO RICO BEATS USA!

I thought I hated the olympics. But, mostly out of boredom, I've watched about 4 hours already. Yesterday morning I saw the Chinese women's volleyball team beat the U.S. team. The U.S. was ranked #1 going into the games. Just now, I watched the Puerto Rican men's basketball team beat the U.S. team.

I think I like watching the U.S. lose, not because I hate the U.S. or because I don't like the athletes. When I see the Puerto Ricans win, I sense the disappointment of American nationalists all over the country. Nationalism is one of the aspects of American culture I really can't take, so in my mind, a victory against the U.S. is a victory against that awful sentiment.

I'm also a sucker for underdogs.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

BAY AREA DAY 6

First my hero of the week (as if I name a hero each week - I don't, but check in next week anyway): the person who burgled Paris and Nicky Hilton's apartment. He or she is even more of a hero generally than John Kerry, who I understand went to Vietnam and killed people even though he was a privileged white boy.

Now, today I signed a lease. I'm paying an excessive amount of money to live in a one-bedroom space - the first floor of a house near Glen Park in San Francisco. The main reason I decided on this place was because of my dog, Sebastian. I think he would freak out living in a dense urban area. He already barks repeatedly at anyone who comes near my place in Austin, imagine if he lived in a place where hundreds of people pass the front door and window every day. Many of the other places I was looking at, you see, were in the more dense areas of the Mission or the Castro. Great neighborhoods, but not necessarily for an out-of-control dog like Sebastian.

Plus, the place I'm going to rent includes my own private deck and garden. Perhaps the frigid, moist climate of the area will increase my chances of successfully growing a plant or two.

Finally, the place I chose is a long walk, or a short bus/trolley/cable car ride from the more bustling areas of San Francisco. The Bay Area has roughly 30 different forms of public transportation, which is great, but it would still be cool if I could be catapulted to my office every morning.

Right now I'm staying in a hotel with "European charm." This means that it has tiny rooms, some of which require a walk down the hall to take a shower. Still it isn't bad for its central location and relatively inexpensive cost.

But now I'm done. What should I do all day Sunday - my last day in the area? I think I'll watch cable TV in my hotel room until noon and then sit in a cafe and update my blog.

Friday, August 06, 2004

BAY AREA DAY 5

San Francisco is full of beautiful people - and not in a superficial way. Anyway, I may have found a cool place to live - I hope I can afford the deposit and all my moving expenses. If you want to donate to my efforts, I have a pay pal account. Just let me know.
BAY AREA DAY 4

I got the job!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

BAY AREA DAY 3

The interviews are over. Nothing that interesting happened today besides the interviews. They were at a law office in Oakland, first with the hiring committee, then with the full board. I dressed up in a suit and took the train - I felt very out of place in the Mission in a business suit - more comfortable in downtown Oakland near the courthouse. They said they would have a final answer by early next week, but wouldn't rule out the possibility that I could hear sooner. It is between me and one other person.

There are lots of boys and men around here who hold hands, hold each other, and are generally affectionate in public. It reminded me about how nice a relationship can be. Maybe I shouldn't give up on love.

O.K. no more beer for me.
BAY AREA DAY 2 SUPPLEMENT + ARMCHAIR PSYCHOLOGY

I forgot to mention that when I was looking for an advertised rental in a neighborhood south of the mission a small Japanese man came up to me and asked me "what street?" I tried to explain to him and he grabbed the print out from my hands. We finally came to an understanding and he grabbed my arm, told me how to hold my printed out map, and pulled me in the right direction. We walked for two blocks and he asked me how much the place was. I told him (but I won't mention it here) and he told me "that's too much." He then let go of my arm and crossed the street toward his bus stop without saying goodbye. I thanked him, but he walked really fast and I'm not sure he heard me.

Now, read the news article below - disgusting homophobic hate crime. But notice that one of the men charged with the crime has the last name "Gay." Hmmm I wonder why he has it in for homosexuals? Teased a little too much as a kid? Maybe there should be mandatory intervention for kids with such names by middle school.

Here's the article if you're interested ....

Four charged with sexual assault, robbery

Attack stemmed from meeting at gay bar, police say.
Advertisement

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Austin police on Tuesday charged four suspects in connection with a sexual assault and robbery of a gay man at his Southeast Austin apartment, in what detectives described as a hate crime.

Charged with aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon are Shawn Michael Regan, 21, of San Marcos; and Donald Roy Bockman Jr., 24; Darren Gay, 21; and a 16-year-old, all of Austin.

Bockman and Gay are being held on $200,000 bail each; Reagan and the juvenile are being sought.

Aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon are first-degree felonies that carry a punishment of five to 99 years or life imprisonment.

Police said the 32-year-old victim, whom police did not name, was drinking at Oilcan Harry's, a gay bar on Fourth Street in the Warehouse District. When the bar closed about 2 a.m., he invited a man to his apartment, police said, and the man asked whether his three friends could come along.

After they arrived, the four visitors beat, sexually assaulted and robbed the victim during a two-hour ordeal, police said. They directed obscenities at the victim about his sexual orientation during the assault, investigators said, leading them to believe the attackers were not homosexual.

The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the sex crimes tip line at 974-5095 or CrimeStoppers at 472-8477.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

BAY AREA DAY 2

Today I walked a lot. My legs are tired and my shoulders hurt cause I was carrying a bag.

The coolest thing that happened is that a guy in a big Corona truck - meaning it was one of those beer delivery trucks full of Corona - was stopped and I was walking on the sidewalk. He kept hitting his brakes making a squeeky, rusty-gate kind of sound that trucks and buses always make cause they don't have great brakes. He managed to get my attention, which I realized he had been trying to do, and he smiled at me. I guess he was flirting.

I also realized that when a rental ad describes a neighborhood as "rough around the edges," that means that it is being gentrified but isn't completely hip and trendy yet.

Tonight I ate at a restaurant that specialized in uncooked food. Everything was vegan and there was no need to mention that anywhere - it was a given. But the menu specified when the food had been partially or completely cooked, and most of the food was not cooked. The food I ordered was bland and dry.

Monday, August 02, 2004

BAY AREA DAY 1

Southwest is actually a decent airline. The seats are more comfortable than some more expensive airlines and everything feels a lot more efficient. I heard they pulled out of one airport because of too many delays. I appreciate that kind of pressure, as long as it doesn't endanger passengers.

It also seems they take more advantage of "direct" flights with stops. In other words, I have been on a few Southwest flights where we stop in other cities, but I don't have to change planes. When I've gone with other airlines, I'm always hiking across George Bush Intercontinental to my connecting flight. This time I stopped in San Diego and got to see the California coast from really high up in the sky.

I can't say much about the Bay Area yet because I've barely seen it. It's cool - the temperature that is. It's August, but it's in the upper 60's and I had to put on a jacket. I thought it was odd that the BART is carpeted and has cloth seats. Walking about 5 blocks from the BART to the place I'm staying in San Francisco was interesting. There were 2 or 3 Mexican guys playing accordions on the street corner, a Taqueria, a Meditteranean restaraunt, a big, old Catholic church, two guys holding hands walking down the street, and a guy who passed me, smiled and said, "pareces como mi." I may have the exact words wrong, but he pointed to his face and I think he said I looked like him, which I sort of do.

Now I'm in the H Cafe - one-half block from where I'm staying - and it conveniently has wireless internet access. Some cute guy just sat next to me, so I have to stop writing and concentrate on ignoring him.