Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

The very pillars supporting our society’s magnificent economic, cultural and political structures are being assaulted on the state and Federal levels. Employment opportunities, educational opportunities, advancement opportunities in our markets, medical care opportunities, and even our basic infrastructures are being assaulted by this newest of neo-conservative movements.

Foreign wars are strangling us as a nation.

Fear of ‘terrorist activities’ originating both outside and inside our country are strangling us as a nation.

Religious factionalism and religious fanaticism are strangling us as a nation.

Corporate propaganda as well as corporate entitlements is strangling us as a nation.

Of course, I am not claiming that the end of days is upon us. I have been warned of the coming Armageddon for six decades.

But I have seen the creation of a caste system that is becoming more and more rigid as time goes on and I become despondent.

It is this last avatar that interests Joseph Lelyveld most. “Great Soul” concentrates on what he calls Gandhi’s “evolving sense of his constituency and social vision,” and his subsequent struggle to impose that vision on an India at once “worshipful and obdurate.” Lelyveld is especially qualified to write about Gandhi’s career on both sides of the Indian Ocean: he covered South Africa for The New York Times (winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for his book about apartheid, “Move Your Shadow”), and spent several years in the late 1960s reporting from India. He brings to his subject a reporter’s healthy skepticism and an old India hand’s stubborn fascination with the subcontinent and its people.
Sometimes, Gandhi said Indian freedom would never come until untouchability was expunged; sometimes he argued that untouchability could be eliminated only after independence was won. He was unapologetic about that kind of inconsistency. “I can’t devote myself entirely to untouchability and say, ‘Neglect Hindu-Muslim unity or swaraj,’ ” he told a friend. “All these things run into one another and are interdependent. You will find at one time in my life an emphasis on one thing, at another time on [an]other. But that is just like a pianist, now emphasizing one note and now [an]other.” It was also like the politician he said he was, always careful to balance the demands of one group of constituents against those of another. ..

So Gandhi had three major goals and hundreds of minor goals.

He wished to end British occupation of his country.

He wished peace among the several religious factions in his country.

He wished to end the caste system.

The Brits might have represented a few hundred years of rule. 

But religion and caste represented issues present in India for thousands of years.

The Mahatma believed that he had left India in the 1890’s as a member of a higher Indian Caste; as an attorney; and as a full citizen of the British Empire at the age of 23.

Twenty years later he arrived at his home with an entirely different ethos. 

Twenty years of schoolin and they put you on the day shift. Another twenty years of real world study and you might become a giant.

Gandhi learned realities with which he had not been aware; he learned how to organize a community; he learned the sins of the individual factions within his Indian Community. It was as if he had been studying to be the greatest living Indian.

I was just struck by the amount of time involved in his schooling as well as the time involved in his struggle for his nation when I first studied about this man.

I am writing this piece because I was struck by the piano metaphor.

All things cannot be accomplished at once!

More than 70 years following the Mahatma’s death, the Brits do not control India.

But Gandhi could not stop the creation of Pakistan.

And religious tension and caste consciousness still rules the day on the subcontinent as the article points out.

India has a strong middle class though and the ‘flat world’ has been the source of many economic developments in that land.

I wonder also if the international corporation has taken the place of the Brits after all of these decades in ruling India, just as that model has done here.

The only point to be made here concerns leadership.

All things cannot be accomplished at once.

I lose confidence in our Democratic system, let alone my Democratic Party.  How our bicameral Congress ever accomplishes anything is beyond me!

I also lose confidence in my President from time to time.

But I think Barack Obama is doing the best anyone could under the circumstances.

He may even be seen as a great leader a decade from now.

I mean George W. Bush sure made Bill Clinton look a lot better!

A true leader must work on a number of issues; a number of projects. But that is just like a pianist, now emphasizing one note and now [an]other.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Regno di Napoli
Kingdom of Naples
Flag Coat of arms
Capital Naples

Italy had the strangest attitude toward treaties and wars during the first half of the 20th Century. To paraphrase Lawrence Oliver:

This is the tragedy of a country that could not make up it’s mind.

Italy begins WWI on the side of Germany (albeit before the fighting broke out) and ends up fighting with the Brits and the French.

Italy begins WWII on the side of Germany and ends up signing a peace pact with the Brits.
You can see this Italian ambiguity in the person of El Duce.

Benito Mussolini would give speeches in the 30’s denigrating the Germans for manufacturing theories about their super Arian Race. El Duce even entertained thoughts of backing the French in the years leading up to WWII and ended up as one of the Axis powers because he thought he would only lose a couple thousand troops in a war that would last a few weeks.

By July of 1943 most of the Italian people had had it with El Duce; 200,000 Italian boys had been stuck fighting on the Eastern Front; food rationing as a program was failing, spreading hunger across the land; and the Allied bombing  raids were not only killing civilians but also destroying buildings in their most ancient of cities. So Mussolini’s own party takes him down and imprisons him.

It did not help matters that Patton and Montgomery had already conquered Sicily and were landing on the Toe of the Boot!

By September of 1943 the makeshift Italian government signs an armistice with the Allies; even though El Duce had been freed by the NAZI’s and was claiming his own mobile government within the bounds of NAZI occupied Italy.


Greece and Italy, for thousands of years had no concept of ‘nation’ as we do today. City States ruled the day centuries before Christ. And to some extent, many Italians carry on their belief in the city state as their primary governmental and cultural unit.

Naples began as one of these city states established by the Greeks in the 9th century B.C.; a couple hundred years before the legendary Romulus and Remus established Rome as a city state.

I watched The Four Days of Naples (1962) last night. It was actually nominated for two academy Awards including one for Best Foreign Language Film. It has to be one of the greatest films I have ever viewed.
It begins with sailors and soldiers returning to their home in Naples. These young vets are jubilant!

We have lost the war and it is over! Hurrah!
Hitler has lost the war. Hurrah!

Then under direct orders of Der Fuhrer, the Germans arrive enforce. 

Cowardly Italian Fascist leaders simply took off for the hills ‘handing over’ the City of Naples to the NAZI troops.

Shortly after the film opens in jubilation, a German soldier claims that a returning vet attacked him and the young Neapolitan is summarily executed in a plaza after the commandant rounded up towns people to witness the event. The Italians were forced to kneel during the exhibition and applaud their new captors. It was like something out of Caesar’s Commentaries.

Other ‘round ups’ go into effect and soldiers are seen muscling their way into public buildings and private apartments.

And, all of a sudden it was like Naples was one large organism attacking a plague; a foreign bacteria that was threatening its very existence.

Five or six NAZI’s are killed by ‘terrorists’ and hundreds of Neapolitans are rounded up and led to a sports arena. Fifty are then selected by the army for summary execution.

Scores of Italians, ex-soldiers as well as citizens collect arms and begin firing on the German Soldiers and all hell breaks loose with the citizens in the arena running for their lives as the soldiers seek cover at the end of the arena.

The action all takes place between September 27th and October 1st of 1943.

The film is shot so perfectly that one barely has to glance at the subtitles to understand what is going on in each scene.

Now initially, the ‘plot’ is difficult to follow until you ‘stand back’ and understand that the actual events of those four days are difficult to follow.

This rebellion was not led by some Leninist Vanguard. No Committee was formed by the citizens of Naples to coordinate an attack upon their conquerers.

The people just rose up like they were all part of some chemical reaction.

The acting is superb.

I do not know what it is about Italian women, but their emotional make-up has got to have some genetic source. They express their jubilance, their disappointments, their pains, their sufferings and their losses in such a manner as to wake up the dead. It is like they are all starring in some Greek/Italian tragedy!

After seeing this film, I now know what Cassavetes was going for in all those independent films he made starring his wife.

In the midst of all this chaos, in the midst of all this bloodshed; there are truly comic scenes presented onto the screen.

At one point the citizen army barricades a city street with an old bus that these ad hoc soldiers will use to attack German soldiers and their tanks. An old man is standing on his balcony just over the bus and screams:

Why do you choose to fight here! Have you no consideration for other people and their property!


In another scene a group of freedom fighters is barraging NAZI soldiers with bullets. One of the fighter’s wives is literally hanging on to him, pleading for him to come home. Hahahah

Get away from me woman! Quit hanging on me. I am attempting to accomplish something here!

Oh and the tragedy!

A little boy is seen hiding from his mother throughout the film. He has found a helmet and wants to join in the fray. Later he finally accesses a rifle and finally shot dead in the street.

Oh, and not all the women are weeping and wailing in their homes over the deaths of their kin or hanging onto their menfolk. Many women join in the mayhem, fighting with their comrades.

In the final scene of the film the NAZI’s have given up and are leaving the city with white flags attached to their tanks and jeeps.

Now the reason for this withdrawal might have to do with German Intelligence telling them that the Allies were at the gate; after all the Allies arrived within hours of the Hun retreat.

But the film does not show one Allied tank; not one Allied soldier.

And Wiki recounts that the City of Naples accomplished this German surrender on its own.

The film is stupendous!

The actual historical event is unbelievable.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

If he ever had ever heard of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, it had never made much impact on him. It was so long ago, and in New York and the victims barely spoke English. And, anyways, what does it have to do with him?

And there he was, nearly a century later, and the Governor of Wisconsin: the state that had the Oshkosh Factory strike and Robert M. LaFollette and so much more that changed the nation in which we live. And, now he was talking to David Koch, a very wealthy man, who could really help him make his name in turning back Wisconsin's history and then the nations. Or at least he thought he was. He wasn't, of course. It was an adventurous blogger named, but he thought it was Koch and he wanted to make sure the rich man knew where this new Governor thought he fit in the new history they could write together:

this may seem a little melodramatic, but 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan, whose 100th birthday we just celebrated the day before, had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air-traffic controllers. And, uh, I said, to me that moment was more important than just for labor relations or even the federal budget, that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism because from that point forward, the Soviets and the Communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a pushover.

Then, perhaps to appropriately remember the young immigrants who jumped to their deaths or were burned to death at the Triangle building still standing 100 years later on Greene Street, just off Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, New York, New York, an air traffic controller---the only one on duty at the important airport near Washington, D.C. called---you cannot make this up---Reagan National Airport, fell asleep on his fourth consecutive 10 p.m to 6 a.m. shift and two incoming flights had to land without clearance or assistance from the tower.

The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (called, usually, "the FAA") was "personally outraged" he reassured us and once the sleeping culprit was found to have fallen asleep because he was tired, and not because of any drugs he might have taken, he was suspended. From now on, the tower will have two people on duty at all times.

Whew. Fortunately, with such decisive action we won't have to ask why a supervisor (who would not have been in any union even had the Great Reagan not run the union the controllers formed for themselves---PATCO---out of town causing Gov Walker to, perhaps, literally wet his pants) was on duty, or why he was doing four consecutive overnight shifts. We won't have to examine what the working conditions of the people charged with guiding airplanes out of the sky, and no union will be around to question whether how the FAA meets its responsibilities, because the union is gone and, whaddya know, so is communism in eastern Europe.

But the FAA's boss is "personally outraged."

The people who owned the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory would surely wanted to have suspended the person whose cigarette might have caused the fire that destroyed their plant, their business, almost their freedom, and, of course, the young women who died. It is hard to believe that they weren't "personally outraged."

We are over-regulated
? If you own the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, or want to make money flying airplanes with passengers, you might think so, but a moments reflection might make you wonder who would want to fly if there were no air traffic controllers to guide those flights to a landing.

But the taxes we have to pay to support all of this are too high. General Electric does not think so, or at least they ought not to.

Maybe this is too hard to understand. After all, who needs an education, when you have Michelle Bachmann around? (No word was provided on whether U.S. History was included in her curriculum, or its relationship to geography). In Park Slope, in Brooklyn, one of the best neighborhoods in the city, some children who should be entering kindergarten may not find a place in the local school

People who either failed to get an education, or ignored or forgot what they were taught, or simply say whatever might sound good to other empty headed people, have an answer for all this:

No new taxes. Public employees are responsible for the dire straits of our economy. The deficit---the horrible thing that was wiped out simply be the taxes collected when the economy was buoyant, albeit artificially---means that government needs to cut spending during a severe economic downturn.

As Bob Herbert explained this morning in his last New York Times column, these are the political conversations of a nation in a deep nosedive. And, sadly, there are no air traffic controllers around to help us out of this one.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Don't Touch That Dial ! More to come.

We now have our next media diversion. The so called Humanitarian Effort to protect the citizens of Libya from the dictator that has ruled the place for 42 years.  Another diversion for the viewing public. With all the appropriate eye candy.  Well at least Palin, Beck and Limbaugh are not top of the news. But lets take a look at those things that seem to have been bumped from peoples front page.

• The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami - They are still having problems with getting the nuclear reactors under control.  And the number of dead and missing tops 22,000.

• The Egyptians have approved a new constitution.  And it looks like the Muslim Brotherhood has made significant gains there as well.

• A judged has halted the implementation of Wisconsin's anti-union law, for now.

• Senator Gabrielle Giffords is still recovering from her head wound.

• The Housing market is still heading down the drain with Housing starts seeing their biggest decline in 27 years. And sales of existing houses still in decline as well.

• A new or old oil spill in the gulf.

• And we still have Afghanistan and Iraq and peat burning in Russia.

I cannot simply put all the blame on the media for for our short attention span. They respond to the viewers and when the viewers get bored they stop playing the program and switch to another program. So the media puts on what ever is new. But it seems to me that our collective consciousnesses has become more that a little superficial. Just look at Hollywood.  Each new disaster epic has to out do the last or nobody watches. And we wonder why it's kooks that wind up running for public office and get elected.   It appears as though you have to be totally outrageous to attract any attention so the outrageous run for office.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


                              Mister Ed.png

Jason Linkins sent me over to to read this segment taken from a deposition.

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- What is a photocopier?
That seems like such a simple question.
But last year, a lawyer in a public-records case being heard by the Ohio Supreme Court had a hard time getting a $64,000-a-year Cuyahoga County worker to say whether the county recorder's office had a photocopier.
The effort consumes nearly 10 pages of a court transcript.
The overall case is about whether deeds and other records at the county recorder's office -- records that were collected and are maintained with your taxes -- should be readily available at reasonable cost. …
David Marburger, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of title companies. Another attorney, Matthew Cavanagh, represents the county and raises objections.
Marburger: During your tenure in the computer department at the Recorder's office, has the Recorder's office had photocopying machines?
Cavanagh: Objection.
Marburger: Any photocopying machine?
Patterson: When you say "photocopying machine," what do you mean?
Marburger: Let me be -- let me make sure I understand your question. You don't have an understanding of what a photocopying machine is?
Patterson: No. I want to make sure that I answer your question correctly.
Cavanagh: Dave, I'll object to the tone of the question. You make it sound like it's unbelievable to you that he wouldn't know what the definition of a photocopy machine is.
Marburger: I didn't ask him to define it. I asked him if he had any.
Patterson: When you say "photocopying machine," what do you mean?
Marburger: Let me be clear. The term "photocopying machine" is so ambiguous that you can't picture in your mind what a photocopying machine is in an office setting?
Patterson: I just want to make sure I answer your question correctly.
Marburger: Well, we'll find out. If you can say yes or no, I can do follow-ups, but it seems -- if you really don't know in an office setting what a photocopying machine is, I'd like the Ohio Supreme Court to hear you say so. …
Marburger: I don't care what kind of technology it uses. Has your offices -- we don't have technocrats on the Ohio Supreme Court. We've got people like me, general guys --
Cavanagh: Objection.
Marburger: -- or gals. I'm not really very interested in what the technology element of it is. I want to know -- ….
Patterson: I'm sorry. I didn't know what that meant. I understand that there are photocopying machines, and there are different types of them just like --
Marburger: Are there any in the Recorder's office?
Patterson: -- there are different cars. Some of them run under gas power, some of them under electric power, and I'm asking if you could help me out by explaining what you mean by "photocopying machines" --
Marburger: That's a great point.
Patterson: -- instead of trying to make me feel stupid.
Marburger: If you feel stupid, it's not because I'm making you feel that way.
Cavanagh: Objection. …
Marburger: This isn't a patent case. There's no statute that defines -- where I'm asking him to define technology for me. I'm asking -- I want to find out from a layperson's perspective, not an engineer's perspective, not a technician's perspective, but from -- I have an idea.
Marburger: How about this: Have you ever heard the term "photocopier" or "photocopy" used in the Recorder's office by anybody?
Patterson: Photocopy? I'm sure in the time I've been there someone has used the term. ..
Marburger: Xerox. Is the machine made by the Xerox Company? Is that why it's called Xerox?
Patterson: No.
Marburger: So Xerox, in the parlance that you've described, the language that you've described, is being used generically as opposed to describing a particular brand; is that right?
Patterson: All of my life I've just known people to say Xerox. It's not commonplace to use the terminology that you're using.
Marburger: You mean it's more -- people say Xerox instead of photocopy?
Patterson: If you're referring to a type of machine where you place a piece of paper on the top and press a button and out comes copies of it, they usually refer to it as a Xerox.
Marburger: Have you ever heard it referred to as photocopying?
Patterson: Not with my generation, no.
Our legal system at work.

Our legal system at work. And this is an important legal case by the by. It has to do with properly substantiation for the chain of title. That is what title companies do.

I assume the problem has to do with county recording offices charging twenty bucks a page for public information, but I am too lazy to look into this right now.  As you all might be aware there are real problems documenting the chain of titles for real estate right now do to the mortgage fiasco.

The court time wasted, the legal billing hours wasted with this type of witness examination are astronomical.

The attorney could have had his/her staff procure the make and models of the machines available to the Registrar of Titles or the County Register prior to the examination of the worker.

But you must admit that the witness was being less than cooperative and opposing counsel was a jerk!

Quinn thinks that the time has come for everyone to shut the fuck up. hahahah

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Eating Cake

For those who are neither economists nor actors who play them on tv, it is not as easy as it is for Paul Krugman. With a Nobel under his belt, his Princeton and New York Times credentials intact, and maybe with an eye to not having to run naked through the streets, he tells us he has

developed a strong tolerance for nonsense. After all, if I got upset every time powerful people were illogical and/or dishonest, I’d spend every waking hour in a state of raging despair

For the rest of us, whose only contact with the people who decide these things is through television, radio or what passes for news dissemination in other forms, it is hard not to begin emulate air raid sirens. As Dr. Krugman observed later the same week, the fairy tale land that houses our national government has decided that the aftereffects of the economic collapse that their groupthink devotion to "de-regulation" are no longer something they need to try to fix.

While almost all of us have either lost our job or know someone who has, the need for a new New Deal has apparently passed, according to the current version of the same groupthink that got us in this mess. When people and businesses are unable or unwilling to spend money, the government's obligation to do so, to stimulate the economy has been self-evident at least since 1933, though, of course, there is a large segment of the population (the "haves" and the "think they are or may someday be the haves") who dissent from this relatively simple point.

And since there are many things a government, particularly the federal one, can do to stimulate an economy that has a concomitant effect on the welfare of those in need, or even the rest of us who drive on highways, would like to find another way to get to work, or feel the need to educate our children and protect all of us from harm, the need for the government to spend can achieve some significant ends.

Hence, in the 1930s, it was decided to improve the system of benefits for the unemployed, and to provide social security, particularly to those who would spend too many years unable to participate in the marketplace, much less survive. The people who opposed the government's involvement in the economy, did not, of course, like any of this and since then they have tried to repeal them or set them back.

And while President Eisenhower might have told his brother that these efforts were "stupid" and the number of people supporting them "negligible" his confidence that foolishness would never reign was misguided.

In fact, as Doc Krugman has observed a couple of hundred times, or at least it seems so, it is the Official View of Official Washington that the social security system needs to be "fixed" even though there is no evidence to support alarms that are designed to justify more good ideas from the same people who told us deregulation was a necessary.

Since this nonsense has worked so well, these same forces (yes, the same general group that "hated" FDR and whose hatred he welcomed) they have added to their lexicon of Official Truths that the massive collapse of our economy was not the result of rampant speculation and financial chicanery by the newly dereuglated, but because of "entitlements": the protections from depredation that were the lasting legacy of the New Deal, and public employees (of which, as always noted, your blogger is one).

That Social Security must be fixed and the deficit (essentially the product, by the way, of reduced tax revenues given the massive unemployment, and the larger benefits that need to be paid to those who would otherwise have nothing) the most important issue facing the Congress, a group of politicians unable to see what the rest of us can not escape, has become the currency of political thought is unquestionable. Those who still work need a little distraction as they get ready to travel on broken highways or defunct trains, but what they get instead are Professors Scarborough, Barnicle and their little sidekick,
Brzezinski, agog when the Senate Majority Leader dissents from the wisdom of the sages.

That anyone could say such a thing---that Social Security is fine--- and there are way more important things to do, is seen in our nation's capitol as so absurd that it must be the product of insanity or craven politicians still fighting their last re-election campaign. That Senator Reid's election was not even remotely as close as the experts told us it would be, that perhaps that is because the unemployed know better, does not even begin to enter their worldview.

The tea party people might have been on to something, thought the other things that move them caused them to get to the wrong conclusion. That our government is populated in its legislative branch, and some pockets of its executive, it appears, by smug, know it alls who actually know very little except what they tell each other, is unquestionably so. And "unquestioned" is the right word, because many of them cannot even begin to question the nonsense peddled to them.

And so the rest of just look at them with crumbs falling from our mouths.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fingers on the Scale

Nothing in the following post is intended to or can be read to suggest that any political organization or affiliations as exist in the United States of America are off shoots, related to, intentionally emulating or seeking to impose a fascist or communist system in this country. It just seems that way sometimes.

We heard them everyday in the summer of craziness during President Obama's first year, breaking up meetings members of Congress had to discuss a reform of the health care system, bullying those with contrary views. Not exactly the beer hall putsch, but not how we think our political system should or does operate.

The overheated screams accusing the President of being a fascist, a socialist or both, struck many of us as truly odd since our complaint was not the government was threatening to take everything over, but that it had become unresponsive to great needs on the one side and rampant fraud and corruption on the other. Before we could worry about a government dictatorship, we needed to see the existence of a government at all.

And in rapid succession over the past weeks or so, the point was graphically illustrated for us. 60 Minutes broadcast a searing report on the growing number of children suddenly thrown from a middle class life into abject poverty when their parents lost one, then both incomes. At least a few people watching this had to wonder whether insuring that the extreme wealthy continued to receive the tax breaks they berated Congress into giving them in 2001 and demanded their extension last winter, at the cost of disabling any effective government programs to help those with such sudden needs

The answer is surely not as simple as private citizens coming to the aid of the specific people identified in a television program, who represent a much larger community. The question is how did it come to pass that government has abandoned the mission it took on in 1933 to protect those who need its help?

You know the answer. The creed of the greedy, masquerading as a political philosophy:

government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem

So, they tell us today not to pay attention to starving children. The country's problem is caused by a federal budget deficit, and the only thing to do now is to cut, cut, cut. Shrink it until you can drown the government in a bathtub as Grover Norquist once told us.

The other view, the one that got us through the Depression and ushered, after a world war, the greatest period of prosperity the nation has ever known, that government must spend when others cannot or will not, is simply ignored in the flood of certainty that the federal budget deficit must be reduced even if children must go to sleep hungry, is nothing worth considering. As forecast in these very pages last week (not a particularly daring prediction, of course) polling which shows growing numbers of people disagreeing with the Official Wisdom of our public officials, would be dismissed as nothing more than the reluctance of a stubborn electorate unwilling to come to terms with What Must Be Done.

And since these opinion makers do not like too many people to notice how few clothes their emperors are wearing, they rig the debate and simply ignore any opinion other than the one they have embraced. As is universally understood, the motion picture actor, David Gregory (attempting to play the part of journalist, though not convincingly enough to completely debunk the idea that he is simply parodying actual news correspondents) illustrates better than anyone else the Beltway Knows Best ability to simply blow through opposing points of view.

One day in January he asks the Senate Majority one of those usual loaded questions that presupposes the conclusion he and his friends have already reached.

MR. GREGORY: Social Security, how does it have to change? What they put on the agenda is raising the retirement age, maybe means testing benefits. Is it time for Social Security to fundamentally change if you're going to deal with the debt problem?

Nothing in that question about what "debt problem" he means, particularly since social security is funded and administered outside of the federal budget which is said to be so horribly out of balance. So the question really is nothing more than why won't you agree to these Republican ideas, Mr, Majority Leader?

so the answer is not the one he wanted:

SEN. REID: One of the things that always troubles me is, when we start talking about the debt, the first thing people do is run to Social Security. Social Security is a program that works, and it's going to be--it's fully funded for the next 40 years. Stop picking on Social Security. There are a lot places we can go to...

MR. GREGORY: Senator, you're really saying the arithmetic on Social Security works?

SEN. REID: I'm saying the arithmetic on Social Security works. I have no doubt it does. For the next...

MR. GREGORY: It's not in crisis?

SEN. REID: No, it's not in crisis. This is, this is, this is something that's perpetuated by people who don't like government. Social Security is fine.

Oh, my. We can't have that. It's not in crisis? Is Senator Reid crazy?

Must be, because less than two months later, Gregory flatly tells his audience that social security is a "budget busting program."
Not that people say it is. It is. He says so.

MR. GREGORY: The White House and Republicans are far apart on how deeply to cut government spending. But is there an opening to fix budget-busting programs like Social Security and Medicare? I'll ask my exclusive guest this morning, White House chief of staff William Daley....

We will put side for now the ridiculous MTP (under Gregory, the showman) assertion that all of its guests are "exclusive" meaning, it appears, that at the exact second they are on MTP, they are not talking to anyone else.

Of greater importance is the "know it all" faux-question posed to the President's chief of staff, about "the big driver of the deficit, as you know"

MR. GREGORY: The big driver of the, of the deficit, as you know, Social Security, Medicare, those are the real budget busters. And it was interesting, Speaker Boehner gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal. I'll put a portion of it on the screen. This is what he said. Speaker Boehner said Thursday, "...he's determined to offer a budget this spring that curbs Social Security and Medicare, despite the political risks, and that Republicans will try to persuade voters that sacrifices are needed. In an interview with The Journal, Boehner said House Republicans would offer a budget for the next fiscal year that gets goals for bringing the programs' costs under control."

Is this an opening here? Did the president and Boehner talk about this and say, "Look, let's do something here together?"

Not only does he define "the problem" as the way Republicans see it, he tells the chief of staff that the Republican Speaker is courageous in trying to limit, end, destroy or otherwise trim back programs Republicans opposed when they were enacted, came to terms with eventually, but now want ended, lest they cost their benefactors anything.

Sorry, David. No dice. Sorry to disappoint you.

MR. DALEY: Well, the president's been saying for quite a long time that we, we've got to, not only address our current budget problems, we've got to get to these large--I would take some exception with your statement. Social Security is not the big driver of the deficit right now.

Well, actually, ever but we can accept that answer.

So this is how it all breaks down. And as far as sides trying to take over the government; trying to end the traditional functions of the legislative process within a republic, try these on for size:

Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 2, 2011:

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- At the last minute, Ohio Senate Republicans have changed the makeup of a committee that will vote whether to approve a controversial bill that would overhaul the state's collective bargaining rights.

Sen. Bill Seitz, of Cincinnati, who opposes the bill, has been removed from the committee and replaced with Sen. Cliff Hite, of Findlay. The switch was made to ensure the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee passes the bill, said Sen. Kevin Bacon, chairman of the committee.

Senate President Tom Niehaus decided to replace Seitz with Hite, Bacon said before the committee hearing this morning. As president, Niehaus has authority to remove and replace Republican committee members.

or this lovely example of representative democracy:

Those who decided to sit the last election out because they were angry with something the President did or did not do made all of this possible. But what these people have or are threatening to do with their supposed Mandate establish that the extreme fears expressed during the election were not extreme. Yes, the President owes us more than he has shown us, but punishing him with a lack of support endangers us all.

P.S. Tomorrow will bring us Frank Rich's last column in The New York Times. We will find him when he finally surfaces in New York Magazine this summer, but this is not a good time to lose his voice, even for a few months, and to have it re-appear in a less popular place than where it is heard right now. Nothing we can do about it, but to relish what we get as a farewell, and hope for the best in short order.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


File:The Jury by John Morgan.jpg                                        CONCERNED PEERS

The New York Times reports on the case of Julian P. Heicklen, a 78-year-old retired chemistry professor from New Jersey, who now faces federal criminal charges. What has the mild-mannered Dr. Heicklen done?
Since 2009, Mr. Heicklen has stood [at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan] and at courthouse entrances elsewhere and handed out pamphlets encouraging jurors to ignore the law if they disagree with it, and to render verdicts based on conscience. That concept, called jury nullification, is highly controversial, and courts are hostile to it. But federal prosecutors have now taken the unusual step of having Mr. Heicklen indicted on a charge that his distributing of such pamphlets at the courthouse entrance violates a law against jury tampering.
Federal prosecutors in New York have reached the alarming decision that informing individuals on the street in front of the courthouse (some of whom may be en route to serve on a jury pool) about the doctrine of jury nullification is a criminal act. Their view would find no sympathy among the authors of America’s constitutional system.
This is a big deal to me.

If you knew how much time was spent arguing over jury instructions; and how many appeals involved a strange sentence or two within those instructions, you would see how cumbersome our justice system really is. 

In some civil cases, in some criminal cases a score of pages will be read to a jury panel that includes no attorneys.  

How in the hell are these peers supposed to figure out all this mumbo jumbo?

Law & Order has done a remarkable job over two decades demonstrating how serendipitous findings by juries provide as much justice as the flip of a coin.

Nevertheless, there is little doubt as to the ability of a jury to nullify the law. Today, there are several issues raised by jury nullification.
  • First, whether juries can or should be instructed or informed of their power to nullify.
  • Second, whether a judge may remove jurors "for cause" when they refuse to apply the law as instructed.
  • Third, whether a judge may punish a juror for exercising his power of jury nullification.
  • Fourth, whether all legal arguments, except perhaps on motions in limine to exclude evidence, should be made in the presence of the jury.
In some cases, a stealth juror will attempt to get on a jury in order to nullify the law.[11] Some lawyers use a shadow defense to get information entered into the record that would otherwise be inadmissible hoping that evidence will trigger a jury nullification
And people who would like to get on with their everyday lives can be punished for not fulfilling their civic duty.
And who really wishes to become a juror anyway?

Deliberate disobedience for jury duty will no longer be tolerated in Brampton, a Superior Court judge says.
“Going forward, random checks of jury panel member absences can be expected with punishment where warranted,” Justice Casey Hill said in a judgment released this week.
Hill has been investigating an alarming rise in Peel residents ignoring requests to appear for possible jury duty.
During a five-month period, the fail-to-appear rate for prospective jurors has ranged from 11 and 22 per cent for 42 different trials between September and January.
Last week, Hill asked Crown Carson Coughlin to seek advice from the Attorney General in tracking down seven people who recently failed to show up for jury duty in Brampton.
The judge wants to know whether these people have moved, died, are in hospital or simply ignoring a court order.
It’s conceivable police could become involved in tracking them down with possible contempt of court charges laid.
There have been so many good films relating to this issue.

John Cusak is one of my favorite actors. You will find him in scores of films and usually you will have the opportunity to check out his sister costarring in the same flick. Hahahaha Who is fabulous by the way.

Runaway Jury is a fun experience in cinema. 

If you move to a new county, for whatever reason, you will receive a jury notification. Ha
That is how our system works and it makes no sense.

I moved into Virginia in January of 2006 and once I had a real address after of residing in a homeless shelter, I was notified.

Cusak’s character in the Runaway Jury does exactly this in some Parish in Louisiana. And he and his lover planned this entire ruse in order to get on the jury in a specific lawsuit. Cusak changes his name and starts up a shop  and shortly thereafter he receives his jury notification.  His purpose is to turn a jury against a corporate gun manufacturer that had destroyed his home town.  Some student pulled a Columbine that could just have easily been the nut who shot 19 people in Arizona and his hometown retaliated in the civil courts only to lose everything.

He gets on the jury by lying, but only by pretending that he does not wish to fulfill his duty as a citizen of the county.

Oh lord please let this panel pass me by so I may continue with my life. Ha

Hackman (who has been my favorite actor for decades) is the bad guy, running a scam that follows each and every juror from their birth to the date of their acceptance on the jury panel.

Bribery and extortion and all sorts of felonious conduct is involved in this example of jury tampering.

You realize of course, that in the days of olde a jury was supposed to be comprised of only those who knew the parties in a civil or criminal suit. Peers meant something in those days. Hahahahah

If you make a hundred grand a year, why in the hell would you wish to serve on a jury and receive the pittance of $30.00 a day with terrible take-out included?

And what about those cases that go on for months and months forcing citizens to put their lives on hold?

There is more than one example of a judge ‘imprisoning’ a jury for not convicting a defendant.

Bushel's Case arose from a previous case involving two Quakers charged with unlawful assembly, William Penn and William Mead. They had been arrested in August 1670 for violating the Conventicle Act, which forbade religious assemblies of more than five people outside the auspices of the Church of England. The judge in their case charged the jury that they "shall not be dismissed until we have a verdict that the court will accept." When the jury acquitted the two men, the judge refused to accept the verdict, fined them and sent them back to deliberate further. Edward Bushel, a member of the jury, refused to pay the fine, at which point the judge threatened him, saying, "[y]ou shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco. You shall not think thus to abuse the court; we will have a verdict, by the help of God, or you shall starve for it."

A short misdemeanor trial or a three day PI case could be a great lesson for a layman in how our system works.

Otherwise, a stay on a jury panel can be absolute hell!