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Archive for September, 2008

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its biggest point drop ever when Congress killed a proposed $700 billion rescue package. Also in New York, U.S.Attorney Andy Garcia of SDNY joined the SEC’s investigation into Freddie Mac’s corporate governance. Meanwhile, in Florida, Tramont Guerra & Nunez is soliciting members for a possible class action suit against Washington Mutual. Washington Mutual, which declared bankruptcy 3 days ago, is the biggest American bank failure ever.

And in GW Law news: Professor Banzhaf estimates that, if elected, John McCain runs up to a 40% chance of death or incapacitation while in office.

Dear readers, is there a silver lining amidst all these clouds?

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Monday Morning Reading

Good morning GW LAW.  Here’s a short list of things to read before you hit the books.

The financial apocalypse continues with Citigroup buying Wachovia’s banking arm

But don’t worry, the House will vote on the bailout plan today.

How are we going to navigate the job market with this crisis?  Check out this blog by an alleged “Hiring Partner” for tips.

1Ls:  Why are you reading this?  Don’t you have a midterm to prepare for?

Speaking of tests, which would you prefer?  A grading system of high pass, pass, low pass, fail, or A, B, C, and F?

Hey bleary-eyed Van Vleck competitors!  In case you missed it, your briefs, for which you are getting HALF. OF. ONE. MEASLY. CREDIT. are due today.

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It looks like Uncle Sam might be spending quite a bit of our money to save our economy any minute now. A lot of people have already formed opinions on the bailout and it seems that the majority view out there is that people don’t want to bailout Wall Street and the execs who made bad decisions. On the other hand, a lot of folks wonder if it may be the only way to avoid an economic meltdown. Here’s some of the information you may need to form your own opinion: (more…)

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A Change Is Gonna Come

As promised, here is a response to the great suggestions that you contributed over the past few days.  The post is long, but its all important, so I didn’t insert a “continue reading” tab.  Thanks again for reading.

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We started this blog last year, just a bunch of 1L’s who were looking for a place to speak our views on anything and everything.  For most of us, this has been a first foray into the blogosphere.  Clearly, we enjoy giving our perspectives on life and the law, and we hope to continue to do so for a long while to come.  When we first started the blog, life was simple.  We didn’t have many readers, so in a sense, we were all blogging to each other.  Sure, every now and then a post would generate more traffic than others, but for the most part, it was us, and it was good.

But we knew that someday the time would come when we would expand and would increase our visibility both on the Internet generally, and as an online community for GW Law.  Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed the steps we’ve taken to start that expansion.  Flashy posters, some with weird jokes that no one understands, have been put up on all the bulletin boards.  Two new bloggers have joined our ranks, Gordon and KT, and we initiated our first ever blog poll.  With somewhat regular consistency, we have posted a morning reading list of fun and interesting things going on around the world.  The changes have made a difference, as already, this has been our highest traffic month ever.  This growth has not come without its fair share of mistakes and errors however.  Let’s chalk these up to growing pains.

Last week, a commenter took a hard line on a post that I wrote because he thought it was a shoddy job and that it did not provide any meaningful analysis.  He was right.  In my haste to keep the blog fresh with new posts, I learned one very important lesson about blogging: quality over quantity.  Authors have been criticized for being too defensive when someone takes a contrary position to them in the comments thread, and rightfully so.  Its not as easy to accept criticism and debate from readers whom you don’t know at all.  As I described above, we are no longer blogging merely for a small circle of friends, but have a larger audience that we trying to reach.  We, the authors, understand that now better than we did before.

There has also been criticism in recent weeks about editorial censorship, principally about deleted comments that the editor does not agree with.  Let me reiterate what I said yesterday: we do not delete any posts merely because we don’t agree with the commenter.  Here’s a great example:  In a post on March 20, 2008, Ms. Westbrook discussed the big hullabaloo over Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama.  We received a comment from someone unaffiliated with GW Law encouraging readers to visit his site to get the real truth about Rev. Wright.  He then went on in a subsequent comment to refer snidely to Ms. Westbrook as “darling” and call her an anti-Semite because she disagreed with him.  The comment stayed up, even though it bothered a great number of us because we felt as if one of our own had been unfairly attacked.  The only comment that has ever been deleted, as far as I know, was one that was deleted earlier in the week by me.  A commenter used an email address with a name that belonged to a contributor of this site, purporting to pass of his comment as someone else’s.  That’s it.

On the issue of comments, it should also be said that we on the site have been the targets of a fair number of “attacks” ourselves.  The point was made yesterday in the comments thread that last year, the 1L class was criticized for not being more active in school activities.  Members of this site reacted strongly, perhaps too strongly (see discussion above – we are learning) and asked for some type of proof to support the commenter’s assertion.  Rather than do that, the commenter criticized the authors for being too defensive.  That’s not ok.  If proof was offered to support the commenter’s assertion, and our authors still remained obstinate, then we would be guilty of being closed minded and too defensive.  That wasn’t the case though.  We really and truly want this site to be a great online community, principally for GW Law, but also for the world as well.  We hope that, as the authors learn to live with criticisms and adapt to a great audience, so too can our commenters be civil and reasoned in their discourse.

Having said all of that, there are several changes that have been made to this site that I wanted everyone to be made aware of.

  • We will no longer be “Sua Sponte: A Blog by GW Law Students” but instead “Sua Sponte: Just Some GW Law Students Getting Their Blog On”  The reason for the change is that we do not speak for the entire student body, but instead are just a collection of students who enjoy blogging and this new title better reflects that.  (If you have a better tag line suggestion, please share)
  • A new comments policy will be initiated and posted under the “Policies” tab at the top of the page.  Here is the gist:  The editor always reserve the right to delete any comment that is deemed to be offensive, crude, or inappropriate.  However, that is a right that we hope will have to never be used.  Our goal is to promote reasoned discource, and as such, comments should reflect the “cocktail party” rule.  If you wouldn’t say your comment aloud at a cocktail party, it probably shouldn’t be said here as well.  That’s a very loose idea, but I think it conveys the gist of our policy going forward.  If you ever feel that a comment has been removed unfairly, please contact the editor.
  • A new policy for guest and anonymous posts will be initiated and posted under the “Policies” tab at the top of the page. We always encourage those who wish to write with us to do so, but we
    also recognize that there are occasions where using one’s own voice in an online forum is uncomfortable.  We welcome the contributions of those who want to blog and respect the wishes of those who must do so anonymously.  If you feel that you must post something anonymously, you need to explain that to the editor, so that we can decide if the post will be published.
Nothing is going to be perfect, and there is still a lot of work to be done to make this site the best it can be.  While in many ways, the content and tone of the blog is driven by us, we want that voice to come more from our readers than anywhere else.  I hope you continue to read us, talk with us, and grow with us.  As always, you can always reach Sua Sponte by emailing suasponteblog (AT) gmail.com.  Whether its to ask an administrative question, to contribute a post, or to make a recommendation, we are always eager and happy to listen.
— Hamilton Fish
PS – If you haven’t heard the great Sam Cooke song that inspired the title of this post, click here.

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My recent post on the expansion of GW Law in the last few years drew some comments from students about maintenance issues.  One student wrote:

The women’s restrooms never have soap. The refrigerators in the building often go weeks without cleaning, and the drawers in the refrigerators themselves are usually broken. Some of the rows of desks in one of my Stockon classes is uneven, and if someone moves in my row, the other three all shift.

Another student wrote:

I think the problems with the bathrooms is that the staff generally is good with the daily cleaning (mopping, emptying trash, wiping counters) but neglects the more periodic maintenance (soaps, lightbulbs, sometimes bath papers).

I think it would be really helpful if commenters would add more on this issue, with specific things that the maintenance crew can do around the law school to improve the quality of life around the law school. The more detailed, the better: Specific rooms, specific lights, specific seats, etc. When we have a good list compiled, I’ll forward on the list to the maintenance staff, and maybe they’ll be able to improve the state of the law school.

I should add that I think the maintenance staff here is great: They’re nice people, very hard working, and they do a great job. But I’m sure there are things that you students see and run into that the staff overlooks because they’re focused on other things.

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McCain Campaign on Hold

I am sitting at home staring in rapture at CNN instead of working on Van Vleck-sorry Bessie! I have to say that I (and I think Anderson Cooper as well) am dumbfounded by McCain’s campaign suspension and his bid to cancel Friday’s debate.  McCain is not on the banking committee, so I do not understand why he feels he needs to be in DC and not campaigning. He will have to vote, and he will have to rally the GOP senators as they are currently the ones least supportive of the bailout-this I understand-but unless the senate vote happens Friday night I see no reason to cancel the debate. And I definitely do not understand him pulling his commercials. (Can they pull the 527’s next?)  Unless the vote ends up going through Friday evening, I think this was campaign masochism for McCain.  He comes off appearing intimidated by Obama-especially given his own admissions regarding his economic weaknesses and the fact that he is not on the banking committee (aka will not be working with Bernanke and Paulson on creating a final product to vote on). If he fails to rally the Republican votes to pass the bailout-er, rescue-bill, he will end up looking even more foolish. Adding to the fool factor: McCain has missed more votes than any other senator this year-more than Tim Johnson who suffered a brain hemorrhage; and standing up Dave Letterman tonight only to be caught on camera being pampered by Katie Couric’s make up artists.

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I was reading Tuesday Morning Quaterback this morning.  If you haven’t heard of it before, it is a blog on ESPN.com written by Gregg Easterbrook (brother of the esteemed 7th Circuit Appeals judge Frank), and provides a great wrap up of interesting plays and statistical tidbits from around the league as well as general commentary on the world around us.  This week, TMQ talks a lot about the financial crisis.  While I definitely don’t agree with everything the TMQ said, I think he makes a lot of good points about the total hubris Paulson and Bush are showing right now. (more…)

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