Thursday, October 27, 2005

What now? Meirs and the next option...

George Bush can pick the most radical right wing ideologue and demand that the right stand up and fight every inch of the process for confirmation. A candidate without the slightest hint of moderation would be an open invitation to the base to put up or shut up.

Unfortunately, Bush has never seen fit to rub anyone's nose in their own crap, so expect a moderate conservative (is that possible?).

The person whose opinion I would most like to have for a recommendation to the Court is Judge Roberts.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

On Bankruptcy....

Newcomers, my partner is a bankruptcy attorney, I work in the office. The last three weeks have been....busy. Some interesting news.

The US Trustee has reported that over 205,000 bankruptcy cases were filed LAST WEEK. The number of filings for October appears to be easily over 250,000 and it may approach 500,000 since mid September....we filed the equivalent of 4-5 months worth of cases last week. Amazingly, the electronic case filing system seems to have held up under the onslaught...however, one thing has fallen apart. Each bankruptcy case is assigned to a trustee that reviews and administers the case. Most trustees hand 75-150 cases per cycle. Right now, their load is closer to 500 (guessing based on our experience in our two districts and reports from other districts). The law requires that a hearing on the case be held no earlier than 20 days after filing but no later than 45 days after filing. Due to the load, hearings are being set WELL outside that time frame. Some districts are setting hearings as late as MARCH 2006. This is probably ok as there will be very few filings over the next three months.

There have been several rulings dealing with the new law provisions already active, among the most interesting is that Arizona and Minnesota homesteaders are not bound by the $125,000 equity caps...primarily because the law says that if you choose state exemptions, the bk law can limit the exemption to $125,000. In Arizona and Minnesota, no choice is possible, therefore, the limit is not applicable. On Monday a ruling in Georgia came down that said that attorneys admitted to the bankruptcy bar are NOT Debt Relief Agencies under the bk law. One provision in particular was cited as damning - attorney regulation is a STATE responsibility...any attempt by the bk law to regulate attorneys would be a federal intrusion into state domain and as no one seems to have brought that up before, it must mean that the law was not intending to regulate attorneys. This law is going to be such fun...

Some interesting anacdotes: an attorney mailed petitions to the court on Friday...they got sent back - there is no mailbox rule. Cases are not filed until they hit the clerks desk. We had a potential client slip a small retainer fee with a note under our door asking for an emergency filing, sometime after 2pm Saturday when I left the office but before 11am Monday when I returned. Needless to say, no emergency filing. They had been in our office on 10/4 and were informed that all fees and paperwork had to be in by 10/12....too late. And given the need for a lot of preparation for filing under the new law, we could not prepare a petition before their home would be sold at foreclosure auction next week.

If 500,000 cases were filed in the last 30 days leading up to the law change, AND each case had at least $10,000 in unsecured debt (our average was closer to $40k), then $5,000,000,000 (billion) in unsecured debt was cleared away from consumers.

UPDATE: Victoria attended CLE on Friday and the clerks from the BK Court said that as of last Friday, 19 cases had been submitted after the law change, all were mailed on Friday 10/14 and all were wrong and returned.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Lost their minds

In thinking about the unbelievable screeching going on about Meirs FROM THE REPUBLICANS I can only be reminded about two things:

Howard Dean yyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa


Many of those from the right opposed to Meirs have lost their minds....

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I got to thinking tonight...

I know, dangerous...but I have it covered...

Bush. Interesting read today on some characteristics of Bush and something struck me. He is a born-again Christian. Now we know many of them that give that a bad name and further, many more that scare the bejezus out of less religious folk. But: turn the other cheek; do what is right, not popular; stand up for your principles; associate with people of good character; do not speak badly of your neighbor. In general, I see that Bush has lived up to those. I have come to a decision on Meirs...

I have read George Will and Ann Coulter. I have read the debates (such that they are) on a dozen blogs and listened to the talking heads for the last 36 hours. Two things have been of interest.
Bork. A legal genius. Very conservative. Big fight. Lost. Got Stevens.
Thomas. A legal lightweight. Conservative. Big fight. Won? Got Thomas.
Souter. Got Souter, lost.
Roberts. A legal genius. Conservative (?). Minor fight. Won.

After the last 20 years, all the wonderful legal minds we have on the current court, we get Kelo. Also, for those completely normal people, there was a ruling a couple years ago In re Seminole Tribe that is just terrible. We recently lost a case against the State because of that case, the state ignored the bankruptcy court and we couldn't do a damn thing about it....couple lost their home.

Ann Coulter thinks we need the best legal minds possible on the court. Rush makes the point that we don't want "touchy-feely" types making decisions. It seems to me that the result is Kelo. Law without compassion is not JUSTICE. Was it the best legal minds that found privacy in the constitution? Does ANYONE think that privacy is bad? You know, the Founders probably never envisioned that someone standing on a hill could not only hear what was being said in the house over the hill IN THE NEXT COUNTY, but could READ what was being written at the same time. Our Constitution is designed to change, to be changed, we just don't want judges doing it. It doesn't seem to me that it takes the best legal mind possible to understand that.

I don't think Bush is beholden to his base. I think he cares more about this COUNTRY than just about anything else and his actions are designed to promote that. Seems to me that those that voted for Bush in the first place (and the second place) did so BECAUSE he cared more about the Country than polls or being liked. Seems to me that the nomination of Meirs is exactly in keeping with HIS goals. That he chooses people based on his faith and trust in them should be considered a POSITIVE. Maybe Meirs is NOT the best LEGAL mind available, but if Bush looked around and said this is the person I most trust NOT to legislate from the Bench, then he picked exactly the right nominee for his goals for the country.

I for one (and there are damn few of us) am willing to accept the nomination and pending any information that suggests she is unfit to serve - being Christian, woman, lawyer, not a judge, not the best legal mind are all not issues - she should be confirmed.

Update: How many people now complaining about Bush's pick were stating that he had the right to have his choice approved absent any evidence that he was unfit?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Hello? Government?

From the IRS Website:

> Housing and Utilities Allowable Living Expenses
> /*Disclaimer:* IRS Allowable Expenses are intended for use in
> calculating repayment of delinquent taxes. They are not intended for
> use in bankruptcy calculations./

Did anyone check with Congress...because in 12 days we have a law that SPECIFICALLY states those expense tables are to be used for bankruptcy calculations...

What is wrong with me?

I am a reasonably intelligent person. Fairly well read. Educated to a degree.

I read an editorial in the WSJ and find it's arguments compelling. A few days later, a rebuttal makes an equally (and heretofore unconsidered) strong case for exactly the opposite position. I read George Will, whom I admire greatly, and feel like an idiot, not even a honest one.

I am partnered with a very liberal Democrat, I understand implicitly the value of dissenting opinions. I acknowledge that honest people can have equally compelling, but opposing positions on many issues. How many people in this country (forget about considering the rest of the world for a moment) do not build into their daily lives opportunities for competing ideas?

When important decisions are made and respected people hold conflicting opinions on an appropriate do you decide who is right? This is important. We elect people to make tough decisions because in our analysis, those people most consistently reflect our own positions. But what happens when they do not make decisions we agree with?

I have often said (and did so again yesterday) that when a republican or democrat is elected President, they all seem to come to the understanding that they are no longer a democrat or republican, but the President of ALL OF US. The likelihood that a President will piss off both the opposition AND his own base approaches certainty is inherent in the job.

So, the right is disappointed (to use a term) that Miers is 1) a lightweight, 2) a close and loyal friend, 3) a missed opportunity to have a 'debate'. They complain that Bush has no stomach for a fight...that he is showing weakness.

Point: Less than 50% of the people continue to support the war in Iraq. That means that people that elected Bush are against the war. If the President has a weakness, it is in doing the right thing even when all around him abandon him and not calling them on it.

The same groups/individuals that claimed Roberts was "an inspired choice" now complain that Miers is completely idiotic one. Selections made just a couple of months apart by the same person. I'm confused....what's wrong with me?

Monday, October 03, 2005

A few minor rants

1. I have turned off anonymous postings, the spam level jumped over the weekend, yes, you commentors over the weekend ARE SPAMMERS, I don't give a damn about your pathetic sites.

2. Bush's selection of Supreme Court. What can I say...I bailed on the Republicans months ago. DeLay should not have been indicted for election violations, HE SHOULD BE IMPEACHED FOR "WE HAVE CUT ALL THE FAT POSSIBLE". GIVE ME A BREAK.

3. Bicyclists that complain I don't follow the rules of the road...and then break the rules of the road. The person that complained I didn't signal my turn as he went through the stop sign....asshole...

4. It is less than 14 days until the new bankruptcy law goes into effect. People are coming out of the woodwork and expecting us to jump. I had someone try to get us to file a case with no filing fee, no attorney fee...his complaint...he was broke.

5. Credit card minimum payments are going to 4% this month; gas is $3 a gallon here in Madison, WI; heating oil is over $2 a gallon (3 times what it was two years ago when people SCREAMED); natural gas is double last years price (on this note, our local gas supplier offers commercial accounts a fixed price over the winter, usually about a 15% premium to the current, but usually lower than the expected peak price, we took the deal 3 out of the last 5 only paid off the first year, since then, about 20% more on average....we aren't going to do it this year and take our chances) - can anyone say recession?

6. Speaking of which - the reports that August numbers were down because of the hurricane is frankly a little hard to swallow...come on people, it hit on August 30th.... Everyone in government/politics/economics is going to spin the September numbers as purely hurricane spikes(or troughs) but here is my prediction (and we know how well I did the last time there)...14% drop in retail sales this Christmas over last with 4th quarter growth less than 2%(maybe less than 1.5%). Watch 1st quarter numbers if oil, gas and heating fuels stay where they are the new year we may be filing more bankruptcies than ever.

7. From a long time ago: Rush said that nothing important was ever done by a moderate...I beg to differ. Moderates get up every morning and go to work. They do not lead marches, sit outside a ranch, create billion dollar companies, run for statewide or national office. They do the job they need to do, earn their paycheck, pay their bills, raise their children and if they are really, really lucky, retire and enjoy some years of rest. Moderates are why this country works despite Bush, DeLay, Reid, Kennedy, Kerry, Roberts and Sandra Day O'Connor. Moderates keep Walmart, US Cellular, GM, Charter, Time, AOL, Rush, Monday Night Football and Budweiser alive. Oh yes....moderates are in Iraq right now...serving their country. Rush, next time you complain about moderates, take out your is filled with dollars given to you by moderates.

8. Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney: both of you just shut up.