STICKY, STICKY, STUCK

Since Trump took office in November, the news has been entirely about him. His tweets. His bad legislation. His even worse legislation. His bad choices for heads of various departments. Now, of course, we have the whole Russian adventure unrolling.

Also, this week, the Democratic party “announced” its new logos for … I don’t know. Whatever they are using logos for, I suppose. This is such a pathetic attempt at a logo, it makes me want to bang my head against a wall. It’s not new, pointed, interesting, or exciting. It has no drama, no energy. It appeals to no one and says nothing. It will not capture anyone’s imagination. No one will rally to whatever it stands for which, in my opinion, is nothing.

This dreary logo reminds me how stagnant we have become. The U.S. is stagnating. Republicans are tearing down anything that was accomplished in the past 8 years … while Democrats have nothing to say except how much they hate Trump. Which is exactly what the Republicans did while Obama was in office. It left them unable to govern when their turn came and this will leave Democrats equally lost — for the exact same reasons. Hating someone is not an agenda. It’s not policy. It’s not an idea and it’s not exactly a rallying cry.

America needs to move on.

We are fixated — paralyzed  — by “The Events Of Russia.” We are at a national standstill as we try to sort out the sludge. We are in a legislative hole in the ground. Trump may be great at grabbing the attention of news organizations, but while he plays games with our heads on Twitter, we have no working government.

He is an awful president. No idea how legislation should be written or what would be good legislation. He does not appear to be serving the American people. I’m not sure who, exactly, he is serving. I know it isn’t me.

While we are stuck trying to fix what happened in 2016, we are sunk in The Trump Trench. While we dither, we are the laughingstock of the world, the biggest fools on Earth. America is pathetic. The idea that this is how we will be for the upcoming 3-1/2 years is appalling.

Until we do whatever we need to do to get ourselves going forward again, until we lose this bad president, our country has no future. We will not be part of the ongoing events of the world — merely the butt of international jokes. The longer this continues, the weaker we get.

We have had other dreadful presidents, but none of them were president in this high-technology, fast-paced era. We are in the center of the world’s stage — and what do they see? A bunch of idiots led by a moron. You don’t think that gives them ideas we’d rather they not have?

We don’t have years to waste digging out of this quagmire. Whatever is going to get done? Get it done. Soon!

A PRO BONO CASE THAT BECAME A FRONT PAGE SCANDAL – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My ex husband, Larry Kaiser, was a young litigation attorney in New York City in 1979. His law firm assigned Pro Bono Appeals cases to junior associates as part of a public service program.

Larry was given the appeal of a defendant, Eric Michaels, who had been convicted, in a second trial, of rape, sodomy, robbery and burglary. His first trial had been declared a mistrial. It was clear that the defendant was rightfully convicted. He had definitely done it. So Larry had to look for a procedural irregularity that he could exploit to try to get the conviction overturned on appeal. That was his job, unsavory as it was.

Larry discovered that the trial judge, Judge Arnold Fraiman, had declared a mistrial for a questionable reason – he and several jurors were scheduled to leave on vacations. I believe the judge even had his wife and his packed suitcases in the courtroom. If this was seen as an abuse of discretion by the appellate court, it would invalidate the guilty verdict of the second trial. The entire second trial would be considered invalid as a violation of double jeopardy. You can only be tried once for any crime or crimes.

Larry was drowning in work so I helped him write this Pro Bono brief. It was very much a joint effort. I was practicing law at a small New York City law firm at the time. We won the appeals case and Eric Michaels was released from prison.

One morning shortly after the appellate verdict was rendered, I was getting out of bed and I heard Larry yelling from the living room. He had just opened the New York Times and found his case on the front page! The misconduct of Judge Fraiman was considered a big enough deal to warrant a prominent story. This was particularly true because his misconduct resulted in the release of a convicted rapist. The District Attorney of New York had described Eric Michaels’ crimes as some of the more vicious crimes prosecuted by the state in years.

Judge Fraiman was now in the spotlight. Larry was interviewed by several newspapers. Over the next few days, reporters dug into the Judge’s prior cases. And they discovered that the exact same thing had happened before. Judge Fraiman had previously declared a mistrial for the same reason – he was due to leave on vacation. His prior mistrial declaration had also been considered inappropriate by an appellate court. And again, an appellate court had released another guilty defendant back onto the streets because of Judge Fraiman’s actions in court.

This was now a really big judicial scandal. The story stayed in the news for a while and destroyed Judge Fraiman’s reputation. I think he may have been censured by the judiciary or by the Bar Association.

Larry always had mixed feelings about this case. He had a major legal success and got his name in the New York Times. On the other hand, he helped get a rapist released from jail. This is often the plight of lawyers in the criminal field.

It was also a prime reason I didn’t go into criminal law. Winning isn’t everything.

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES – BY TOM CURLEY

Stupid is as stupid does. The line comes from the movie Forrest Gump. It’s what Forest’s mother always told him when people would make fun of him for being … well … Forrest Gump.

The thing is, I never really understood what the phrase actually means. It sounds very profound, but what is it actually saying?

I only think of this because stupid has become a word that’s popping up more and more these days. The current “so-called administration”, has been labeled “ignorant,” “immoral” and “inept.” But lately a new word is emerging to describe our “so-called government.”

Stupid.

Also the word “idiot” is cropping up. The headline of a recent NY Post editorial was “Donald Trump Jr. is an idiot.”

Why? When he discovered the New York Times was about to publish a story exposing emails which proved he was meeting with Russian agents to acquire damaging information about Hillary Clinton from high level Russian government sources — because they wanted to help Trump win the election — what did he do? He released the actual emails. Proving he wanted to collude with Russian agents to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton and didn’t care that the Russian government was involved. He actually wrote back “I love it!”

HOW STUPID WAS THAT?

His defense was that he didn’t get any damaging info, so it didn’t count.

HOW STUPID IS THAT?  

It’s like saying “I went to rob a bank but when I got there they were all out of money,” so it doesn’t count.

And we all thought Eric was the dumb one.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Cheesy McCheese head, the actual President of the United States, recently stated — publicly — that the Mexican wall must be transparent.

Why you ask?  Because Mexicans will be throwing large bags of drugs over the wall. He didn’t want unsuspecting Americans on our side to get hit on the head by large bags of drugs.

No, I’m not making that up. Absorb that for a few minutes.

Everybody has role models.  Trumpy’s role models seem to be Governor LePetomaine from Blazing Saddles. “Work, work, work, work. Hello boys!”

And the rebel leader from Woody Allen’s Bananas.

REBEL LEADER: From this point forward, underwear will be changed every half hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside. So we can check. Every child under 16 years old, is now 16 years old.”

Previously, we learned how utterly incompetent this administration is. But now, we are also getting a handle on just how incredibly stupid they are.

I still don’t know exactly what “Stupid is as stupid does” means, but it seems to explain our current administration.

BLACKSTONE AND MUMFORD CANAL LOCKS

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Gears and Engines


Photo: Garry Armstrong

Despite many attempts, the machines used to open and close the locks at the Blackstone Canal in Uxbridge are simply not photogenic. Despite that, they are interesting. These are pretty large locks, too as this canal was intended to deal with full-sized barges coming down the river.

Locks on the Mumford – much smaller for a really narrow canal

THE MARK OF OPPRESSION – BY ELLIN CURLEY

In 1951, my father, Abram Kardiner, published a book with Lionel Ovesey, called “The Mark Of Oppression.” It tried to do what no one had ever done before using methodology that had never been used before. It examined the psycho-social effects of slavery and segregation on a sample group of 25 African-Americans living in Harlem, New York.

Dad and Ovesey used sophisticated psychological tools to get an accurate picture of the psyches of the subjects. They used therapy sessions, dream interpretation, Rorschach and TATs (Thematic Aptitude Tests). To analyze the family structure and child rearing practices, they used extensive professional interviews with trained professional observers spending extended periods in sample homes.

The book came up with psychological profiles and sociological analyses. It documented the damage that had been done to people who were treated by the rest of society as second-class citizens. The damage was deemed to be substantial. It was particularly critical in terms of the family structures and dynamics that evolved in the Black community. Namely, a predominance of poor, uneducated, single parent households, typically with mother as head-of-household. These less-than-optimal family and child rearing practices insured that the problems would be passed from generation to generation.

The book came out and was immediately politicized. It was a scholarly work, but because of the subject matter, it was picked up by lay people and by the press. The book was well received in the academic community but pilloried by both ends of the political spectrum – right and left.

Cover of paperback edition

The right was upset because the study seemed to prove that slavery and continued segregation did actual harm to actual individuals and communities. This was way before the civil rights act of 1965. So the segregationists still had serious political power. They did not want this sort of thing said out loud.

The more surprising attack came from the left. The liberals of the day were furious that African-Americans were being called ‘damaged’. They also hated that the blacks’ predominantly single parent, matriarchal households were being criticized. I think they were worried that if blacks were considered ‘different’ from whites in any way, that would get translated into ‘inferior’ and would justify politically inequality. The liberals wanted to propagate the myth that the black and white communities were identical in all ways.

My father was not a political animal. He did not do well with controversy, hostility or attacks on his work. He withdrew from the fray. The book didn’t go anywhere.

Jump ahead 65 years. The book just had a revival in, of all places, France. A French translation was just published in 2016 and is being read by French social scientists and psychologists. The book is relevant to the French today because there is a huge immigration problem in France. They are trying to assimilate many different cultures into the French mainstream and issues are arising. Immigrants are facing prejudice, hostility and discrimination from the native French population – very similar to what the blacks in America have experienced.

So Dad’s book finally has a chance to make a mark on the world. It will hopefully increase understanding about the negative effects our policies and social attitudes can have on a personal level. Maybe this will make at least some people more compassionate and accepting of others who are ‘different’. In today’s hate filled world, every little bit helps