Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election 2012: A Letter to All "Undecided" Liberals and Left-Wingers [Op-Ed]

Everyone (and I mean everybody) is sick of Undecided Voters. I mean, seriously, give the rock you guys collectively live under a rest and let somebody else who needs it give it a whirl, like Rush Limbaugh. Boy, does that guy need a sabbatical from, well, life. His permanent hiatus from political discourse would alone launch us forward 50 years. However, as you may have surmised from the headline, I will neither rant about pigheaded buffoons who were trained with the other exceptional chimpanzees at the local zoo on how to use human technology nor on the general population of Undecideds, but just the lefties, because they are, by far, the worst of the bunch. 

Apparently, I am acquainted with some really smart liberal folks who have really smart liberal friends who are somehow still "undecided" about how to vote today because they are so smart they are dumb enough to think that the privilege of voting in this and any presidential election also allows the luxury of overthinking it. Honestly, I think it's rather naive and moronically idealistic to be so torn in your consideration of voting for one man in one presidential election, particularly Barack Obama, when your alternative is quite clear. You already know what you want and don't want, so what exactly is your reservation? 

As a staunch liberal, can you not see yourself voting for Barack Obama because he indeed was unable to heal the sick and lower the rising oceans (not that he promised to, as Governor Romney routinely likes to incorrectly state)? Of course not. Perhaps then it may be cause he can neither prevent unmanned aerial drones from bombing innocent civilians abroad as a routine practice in the War on Terror nor suspend the practice of terrorists and suspected terrorists from being detained for life without trial or getting their fingernails pulled out in dark undisclosed corners of the Earth? Will you not rush to support the President because he can't personally concoct a foolproof method to give everyone with a decent résumé and/or a college degree a good job that pays well all while uniting Black, White, Red and Yellow men underneath the same banner of freedom whether they were born here or not? 

Maybe you're a more conservative-minded liberal, like myself, and feel that your lack of enthusiasm stems from his downright refusal to prevent hundreds of  developing humans from being burned out of wombs daily as the highest court in the land says, 'that's okay!'? Perhaps you also disagree with the President's desire for all people to be treated equally based on universally applicable, mutually inclusive moral principles despite others wanting the different to remain marginalized based on individual religious beliefs? 

For every single aforementioned issue, either an institutional reform is required that transcends the limited presidency of one man and the institution of the Executive Branch of the United States, in general, or you just need to grow up and accept the fact that the President makes decisions for everyone and not just you and yours. To feel so entitled to your anger over one particular, or a host of issues, that the President was unable to address in 3.4 years that you can't even make a choice is just as bad as voting for the other guy. 

So, since we are at this impasse, I could list all the reasons why you should vote for your most liberal major party candidate this year, but instead, I want you to ask yourself, "Who taught you that it was alright to inject such idealism into politics, a machine of just the opposite?" When everything is on the line, is it okay for you to be that selfish? Did you honestly expect the "change" that the President promised in 2008 actually meant that all your solutions would be born right then and there? Simpleton, wake up. We both know there's more to it than a glass-half-full-half-empty analogy, but at the core, that's what it boils down to.

Look, I'm sorry he let you down. I'm sure he's sorry too. But the truth is, the world isn't black and white; there are at least 50 shades of gray from what I've heard (pun intended). There is such a thing as a "lesser evil" and choosing the lesser evil in this case does not necessarily meaning you are permanently accepting or compromising a fundamental ideal, but choosing a means least destructive to your end. 

We all know change takes more than the hard work of one man, one presidency, one generation. If you really want things to work, prepare to sacrifice your life, dying daily if you truly believe and want your ideals can be manifested. Until then, that sacrifice includes being responsible and sane enough to vote with conviction for the candidate who does the best he can to carry out the will of the People through the lenses of a deeply flawed, evermore complex and perilous system.

You got to take what you can get. Not anybody who matters will judge you  for voting for an imperfect candidate in an imperfect time for the right reasons, so neither should you (not that you should seek validation from others as it is an unhealthy practice). Besides, there will come a time when the choice is less clear, and even then your voice will be necessary. When that time comes, you may recall this moment, when you had to muster the conviction to vote for Barack Hussein Obama, even though you didn't like what he did or didn't do sometimes. Just imagine how much easier this decision will seem, in retrospect, compared to the options of the future.

So, go out there and vote, Libs! And work towards the future that will one day tolerate your idealism on election day.

C.J. Louis is a contributing writer to PolicyDiary. Follow him on Twitter @TheCeeJayLouis

Monday, March 26, 2012

The 'R' Word: Why Trayvon Martin's Death Is So Important [OPINION]

“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” ― Zora Neale Hurston

It is a crying shame how many people are truly showing their hypocrisy and illogical nonsense these past few weeks regarding what may be one of the most important events of our time. The people who vocally claim to advocate for fairness and justice seem to be the same folks whom are the most ignorant about what those principles really are. Will Cain, Geraldo Riviera and Everyone Else Who Doesn't Get It: This isn't about HOODIES. It isn't about SKITTLES or ARIZONA ICED TEA. It isn't about an empty bag of WEED and the school suspension that followed or a fake photo of some kid flipping the bird that isn't Trayvon. It isn’t even about a quite STUPID law. Believe it or not, quite aligned with popular belief and, unfortunately yet unequivocally, it’s only about RACE.

Race, a long standing issue in our community. Race, the invisible, pink elephant in the room that never seems to go away. Race, the institutional causeway for nearly every single thing which occurs in this nation. As AMERICAN as the Stars and Stripes, baseball and apple pie; from sea to shining sea, we cannot escape race: but my question is, “Why should we?” Why are we running from that which we cannot escape? Ignoring our history truly hinders us, it does not help. We all, White, Hispanic, Black and Etcetera, need to be able to accept the irony which lies within American History, and the inherent cynicism of it all, to address it. Otherwise, we are living in a MATRIX: a simulation of a false reality that drains the very core of our souls. WE are dying because of the perpetuation of illegitimate and very present fear by and among certain members of our community, bolstered by a government that has not done enough to ameliorate the issue.

To be CLEAR, the notion that we and our children currently live in a “post-racial” society kills us: it is a LIE and a false hope. For most of us, what's crazy is that we've only heard and read about these sort of racial killings from our elders and on the silent pages of text in history books: but its not the past, it is our lives today, still. Yes, indeed, this is a TRAGEDY, for it resulted in a beautiful life gone vis-a-vis gun violence, mired with the poison of racism. It is also a TRAVESTY that his death, like many others, after THIRTY DAYS, still hasn't been honored with the slight solace that comes with knowing JUSTICE is being dealt...a justice that has been stoppered by that which yet remains to be seen. So...to all those who question the legitimacy of our OUTRAGE…for those who still are ignorant as to who this young man is, why he was "suspicious," why he is dead and why do we care…I tell you: we wear hoodies, because if the notion that Black skin begets criminality is what killed this young man, then the truth that we’re just like everyone else, that we just want to live a life free of persecution and full of prosperity and equality, is what we'll show in our solidarity. We FAIL all children if we fail to act, to teach the history, to STAND OUR GROUND when INJUSTICE stares us in the nose with bloodshot red eyes and dares us to bust a move. We fail ourselves if we ignore the real BLACKNESS that plagues our society and we will all be consumed by it, whether we acknowledge it or not.

So, if you still don't know why to attend your local rally for the slain Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin, I'll tell you why right now. We all have a reason to stand our ground on this. We are all just as implicated. We need to show these killers out there and the perpetuators of this cycle of hate that we care about our community and we will rally every single time injustice is dealt to any member of our community. If it was you, we'd do it for you. And That's Real, damn it. Doesn't Matter If You're Not Black, What Matters Is That You're Human And Should Be Treated As Such. Don't be a Mainstream Activist. Don't be a Drive-by Supporter. Be ACTIVE not reactive. Let us lay down the marker by which we have cried, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!" for the umpteenth time and finally have gathered the collective resolve to do something about it and maintain that something for the generations to follow and have a torch to carry further and beyond anything we have imagined. If we cannot do this, then Dr. King will ALWAYS remain the greatest dreamer of us all. Lastly, know this: the WAR is cultural and the battle is principled; the fights are sequential, yet the VICTORY shall be universal. PEACE.

C.J. Louis is a contributing writer to PolicyDiary. Follow him on Twitter @TheCeeJayLouis

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Want to Learn about Texas Tech University School of Law?

A special thanks to Dean Stephen Perez, Assistant Dean for Admissions & Recruitment at Texas Tech University School of Law, for participating in our Admissions Spotlight Interview.  Joseph Fernandez from Parliament Tutors conducted this interview. 

As the Assistant Dean for Admissions & Recruitment, what are your day-to-day responsibilities?

I’m responsible for all aspects of admissions and recruitment.  Recruitment is mainly in the fall, where I handle the strategic decisions like where to recruit, what kinds of non-travel recruitment we will do, coordinating the creation of print marketing materials, and website content.  Around mid-November, that shifts to admissions, which involves managing the applicant review process, (LOTS of) reviewing files & making decisions, managing our student recruiters, and closely monitoring our application cycle to ensure we admit the quality and quantity of students we’re looking for.  There is also a great deal of recruitment that happens in the spring, only it is targeted at admitted students.  We have an admitted students day in the spring that my office plans, as well.
What do you consider the most significant parts of an application, the parts which applicants should prepare the most carefully?
The most important aspect of an application are the academic credentials – the LSAT and the GPA.  A student “prepares” for those far earlier than a year in advance (especially the GPA), whether they realize it or not.  The next most important piece is the personal statement and any addenda that a student might submit.  No matter how much I and my colleagues stress that this must be error free, the majority of essays still have errors ranging from minor typos to major writing problems.  Things like the resume and letters of recommendation are also important.
Is there anything you frequently see on an application that you hope to never see again?

Typos. Spelling errors. Semi-colons (they are RARELY used correctly). Headshots of the applicant! (there’s always a few every year.) Unexplained bad grades.  Countless students have horrible semesters or wild fluctuations in grades and provide no explanation, leaving me to assume they are simply poor students or unreliable. High school accomplishments.
What common pitfalls should applicants be careful to avoid? 
Leaving off experiences/jobs from the resume because they don’t think they are “relevant”.  Law schools are looking for well-rounded people with experiences and interests beyond law.  Plus, you don’t know what a reviewer might consider relevant.  Put as much as you can fit on 2 pages (max).
Are there any myths about the application process which you would like to dispel?

I don’t know that I know of any widely held “myths” about the process.
What advice would you give to an applicant with below-average test scores but significant work experience?

The two things are kind of unrelated.  Test scores are a measure of your ability to think critically and analytically under time pressure.  No amount of work experience is going to overcome significantly below par LSAT scores.  Someone with a 130 will never “work” their way into law school.  However, if test scores are low but in the range for a school, work and life experience can give the extra edge to a student and be the thing that makes the difference. 
Do you frequently have to turn away applicants whom you wish you could admit?  If so, what could those applicants do to be admitted?
Yes. We’re lucky enough to be a selective law school.  We have many applicants who will be admitted to other law schools, graduate, pass the bar, and become fine lawyers.  There are just too many for us to admit them all so we can only take the best of the group.  We always have hard-working, dedicated students that simply don’t have high enough grades and test scores to allow us to admit them over other people who are just as hard-working and accomplished that have better numbers. 
How much faith do you have in the ability of the LSAT to predict success in law school?
I don’t have to have “faith” in it.  There’s lots of statistical data behind the LSAT.  It isn’t perfect in that it doesn’t predict first-year performance (the ONLY thing the LSAT tries to predict, not bar passage or how good of a lawyer the student will be), but nothing is 100%. The LSAT is by far the best predictor of first-year success.  Adding LSAT and GPA together is even better. (GPA by itself is fairly week given the wide disparity between quality of schools, majors, etc.).  We have very few students with 90th percentile LSATs that don’t end up near the top of the class and our history has shown that students with LSATs below a certain level have a very hard time making it through.  Now that’s a pretty wide range, of  course, which is why we have to look at all the other aspects of the file.
What do you look for in a recommendation letter?
I look for how the recommender knows the student and how well they know each other in an academic or professional context.  Letters from family friends, relatives, or politicians are barely read.
Suppose an applicant has little or no experience relevant to your program, but has significant experience in other fields.  What can that applicant do to distinguish himself or herself in your eyes as a good candidate for your program?
I don’t put much weight on the idea of “relevant’ experience.  The law is so varied and there are so many different things people do with their law degrees that virtually everything a human being can experience is relevant.  I tell students not to worry if they don’t have any law-related internships or work experiences.  I care that students have experiences, period.  Law-related experiences are beneficial to students because they can help focus their interest in (or away from ) a particular practice area, but that is a personal benefit not one that will improve a student’s chances of admission.  A law firm job isn’t any better than a job at a bank, doing Teach for America, studying abroad, volunteering at your local church, or any of the other million things people do.  I tell students to go be interesting.  All the things I listed are things students should do anyway for personal growth, regardless of whether or not they help them get into law school.

Joseph Fernandez offers home tutoring with Parliament Tutor.  He is an LSAT Tutoring specialist. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Are Advertisers Making The Right Choice By Leaving Rush Limbaugh?

My latest on Mediaite: Are Advertisers Making The Right Choice By Leaving Rush Limbaugh?

Yes, I’m fully aware that Rush Limbaugh’s vitriolic and misogynistic comments have sparked a firestorm that has morphed into a full-on boycott. As of this writing, 15 advertisers have called it quits, and those who remain have few options — all of which are uncomfortable, and have the potential to affect the bottom line in one way or another. So which option should a company choose?
Should Advertisers Stay or Go?
It’s clear that if a company stays with Limbaugh, the negative press will continue and could lead to lower sales. No company can ever afford to embrace bad PR — especially if it’s due to something unrelated to their practices or products — particularly when the negative reaction is due to where they have chosen to advertise, a decision that is intended to create a positive consumer impression. On the other hand — and this is less spoken of — companies that quit advertising on Limbaugh’s show are almost certainly losing an opportunity to connect with Limbaugh’s estimated 15-20 million weekly listeners. (Admittedly, there are other shows and methods in which to reach this consumer segment.)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How Much Can I Improve My LSAT Score?

By Ryan R.

LSAT test-takers often ask how much they can improve their LSAT score? The answer is unequivocal: with the right preparation you can significantly improve your LSAT score.

What is the LSAT testing?

The LSAT tests a set of skills such as critical reading ability, deductive logic and inferential reasoning in addition to fluency with techniques such as formal logic and assumption recognition. While these skills are to a large extent critical for any successful law student or attorney to have, they are not innate and can be developed through practice.

How many point can your score increase?

It is not uncommon to become intimidated by the LSAT after your initial practice test. If you were a successful student in college then the idea of having just scored 60% on a test can be humbling. However, it should be noted that this score that would normally translate to failure on a college exam actually corresponds to the national average.

With a dedicated regimen of taking practice tests, studying specific question types and remaining devoted to your prep course, tutor and/or self studying, one can improve your starting LSAT score by more than 20 points.

Remember that you cannot assess your max potential strictly based on your starting score alone, but rather on how quickly this score improves.

Many people who start off by scoring in the 150s do wind up scoring in the 160s, and in some cases, even the 170s as these individuals have strong enough reading, writing and analytical skills when they first begin their prep, and once they develop the logic skills they never needed before prepping for this exam are able to achieve scores at the very top of the US population.

What about those starting with particularly low scores?

On the reverse end of the spectrum, individuals who start in the 130s and 140s do often improve their scores into the mid-150s. However, their ability to achieve a truly elite score may be hampered by their reading ability. Most people taking the LSAT believe that they have great reading skills, but when one is expected to have elite reading skills, scanning through the Sunday paper may not be enough practice.

If you’re starting with a low score approach, it is most prudent to consider investing a significant amount of time into studying, and not rushing into taking the test. It is also best to consider doing a lot of reading, as your score potential may be limited by your reading comprehension abilities.

Final Thought

In my experience as an LSAT tutor, I have found that those starting with particularly low scores are also the most likely to start their LSAT preparation particularly late as well and/or study less than their competitors. In this, they commonly create an additional disadvantage for themselves.

Like other standardized tests, the LSAT not only examines your aptitude, but also your work ethic. The amount you improve will be directly correlated with the amount of time you put into preparing for the LSAT.

Ryan R. offers LSAT Tutoring with Parliament Tutors, a New York Tutoring and Test Preparation service. He was raised in Long Island and graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2009. After scoring in the 99th percentile on his LSAT, he joined Parliament Tutors over 2 years ago. Ryan will be attending University of Virginia School of Law in Spring 2012.