I COULD BE THIS YEAR’S SINGULAR SENSATION – Marilyn Armstrong

This has been a heavy news year and I can’t imagine anyone arguing this point. No matter where you stand, the news hasn’t just been The News. It has been … NEWS.

Giant hurricanes. Massive flooding, Russians trying to steer our election. A moronic president and his equally moronic cabinet. Destruction of everything we believe in or at least an attempt to destroy everything in which we believe.  Mass shootings. More mass shooting. Fires sweeping entire states. Sex scandals that will eventually include every man in Hollywood.

With all of that going on, there has been hardly any reporting of gruesome crimes and criminals. Usually, we are demented about serial killers and torture … but we haven’t had anything that could top the mass dementia that has taken over our government. That’s why I was thrilled to find this headline from overseas:


Italian lodger tells police he is ‘guilty’ of cannibal murder. 

I bet our newscasters would be thrilled to have a shot at something really juicy. Since the demise of Jeffrey Dahmer, there hasn’t been an incredibly disgusting, gory serial murderer to liven up the news cycle. It’s been all politics, government scandal … and tweets.

TWEETS! Do you believe it? I don’t. It must be fake news.

That got me wondering. Who among the outside world would I like knowing was reading our stuff? I know a few of my favorite authors drop by if I review one of their books. They are polite and send thank you notes. It makes me feel all warm and cozy, knowing at least some of the things I write is getting read by people who care about it.

But how cool to be followed by a cannibal? What a coup! That would definitely come with bragging rights!

While Garry was working, we occasionally got phone calls late at night from convicted serial killers, sometimes critiquing his performance. Turns out, they watched him on the telly. Who’d have guessed serial killers watch the news … and have phone privileges? They also sent Christmas cards and occasionally, letters.

Perpetrators of gruesome murders currently on trial used to wave and wink at him in the courtroom. I’m sure other reporters were jealous.

From my perspective, it was intensely creepy and occasionally, downright frightening. It also made me wonder if these weirdo’s fondness for my husband and his work might encourage one of these “fans” to drop by for an unexpected visit. They clearly knew how and where to track him down. And if they found Garry, they’d find me. They were his fans, not mine.

On second thought, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover I’m could be a big hit in prison. If seven or eight thousand of my followers are actually incarcerated, that might explain those thousands of nameless followers who never leave comments or even a “like.”

By any chance are you a big literary agent? Just asking.

THE ODD LEGALESE OF WINNING AND LOSING – 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 won a major legal success and got his name in the New York Times.

On the other hand, he also 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.

WHAT HAPPENS IF NO ONE CARES ABOUT LAW OR ORDER? – Marilyn Armstrong

We make laws. We enforce laws or try to enforce them, anyway.

We’ve done such a great job trying to enforce stupid, meaningless laws while doing such a poor job enforcing more important laws, we’ve got millions of people in prison for doing nothing much — while corporate killers laugh among themselves.

Laws don’t apply to them.

In fact, we do not and could not actually enforce every law we make. The only way a nation can exist is when the population — which is to say most of its citizens — have a fundamental regard for law and carry with them the belief that order is a good thing.

Without a citizenry who respect the law, you have chaos, disorder, disunion and ultimately, the worst kind of tyranny. No country can maintain a police force to make everyone do the right thing. Most people do the right thing because they understand it’s right. That’s all the reason they need.

I don’t need enforcement. I get it. I understand. Probably, so do you. That’s the basis of a free society.

We should be crying out for mature, educated, reasonable men and women who can work together even when their parties utterly disagree about pretty much everything. We need people who care about the people they represent. When governments don’t care for people and stop believing the good of the nation supersedes their personal squabbles, it’s the end of democracy and freedom.

After that, the only way to maintain order is for everyone to be afraid, which is the definition of a police state.

If we can’t find bridges to cross, we have no government. We can make all the laws we want, but unless people believe in law and for the most part, live within it, life as we know it is over. The reason this — or any country — works is that most citizens do “the right thing.” They don’t need a gun pointed at them. There aren’t enough cops, guns, or prisons to make everyone obey if no one cares.

We either learn to behave like civilized people or it’s back to the dark ages — a world where only “might makes right.” But this time, we’ll have mobile phones!

I’m sure that will change everything.

UPDATED: DRIP, DRIP, DRIP, PLUNK – Marilyn Armstrong

Da Prez is screaming “Witch Hunt.” Meanwhile, we wait. And wait.  Because we know there’s evil afoot. We want to know what kind of evil.

We want details.

We want to know.

Today we learned a little. It’s interesting that while the Fed – Mueller and associates – are not pressing down hard on Cohen, New York State is pushing for a substantial prison sentence. Garry — who has a tendency to be right about many things political — thinks it’s a “good cop, bad cop” thing except in this case, it’s “good judge, bad judge.”

Robert Mueller

Our chief mobster can pardon Cohen on Federal charges — of which there are very few with no jail time involved — but he cannot pardon him on those New York state charges. I don’t think there’s a lot of love in New York for Godfather Donzo and I’m not expecting a strongly positive reaction to another plea from Cohen. Or Donzo.

There was just so much news today. I haven’t fully processed it and neither has anyone else, probably because this is just the beginning and we aren’t entirely sure, but we can certainly make some solid guesses. What today’s filings on Michael Cohen said is that this is one bad dude. That not only was he a criminal, but he was in it for his own profit and did whatever he did from a position of privilege and power.

Godfather 2 in service to Godfather 1. Or, as Garry put it, “Cohen is one evil dude.”

What was 45’s reaction to it?

How does he figure that?

This is, to put it mildly, a peculiar reaction to the sentencing filings on Michael Cohen. Among many other things, Cohen says the president ordered him to do it.

Take-away from the Mueller document:

Individual 1 is Da Prez. Totally cleared? Seriously? But wait. There’s ever so much more!

And this is but the tip of a huge iceberg

I cannot help feeling that it’s about time we got a little feedback from the investigation. We have, after all, been enthusiastically supporting it even though we had no idea what was going on. We hoped and I think we hoped rightly.

I had to assume that something was indeed going on. I did not expect to get a final report saying “It really was a witch hunt and the poor, bedeviled prez didn’t do nothing wrong, just like he said.”

Michael Cohen

No, I assumed he had done everything wrong. It was more a matter of proof, evidence, facts, legal briefs. This has been a lot like Watergate times 20. I remember with joy the pleasure I felt as in Watergate, the dominos began to fall.

Drip, drip, drip … plunk … rattle, bang, bang, bang.

And they all fell down. Finally, down went the Top Dog. Never did I imagine we’d wind up back in this place again with even bigger and more dangerous fish to fry.

Aside from setting our country back to being a proper nation, we’ve got a planet to save, wars to end, an atmosphere to preserve. Oceans to clean and many kinds of wildlife to save from extinction. Medical care to make available to all. There’s barely anything that doesn’t need saving.

I’m going to go with “save the planet first,” but that’s only because if we lose the planet, nothing else will matter.

Maybe, along the way, we will save ourselves from extinction. That would be a nice touch.

I just wanted to add this last bit, in case you weren’t clear on what I’ve been getting at:

As Bump writes:

Linking Trump to knowledge of the payment and the payment to the campaign is important. One of the defenses that might have been offered by Trump is that he regularly had his attorney pay off women to keep their stories quiet. The government filing indicates that AMI and Cohen discussed the company helping to make such payoffs as early as 2014. But the references to the rationale behind the payments in 2016 and the inclusion of the phrase “at the direction” of the candidate bolsters the evidence that the McDougal and Daniels payments were not just run-of-the-mill behavior.

Given that Cohen indicated that the payments were meant to influence the election and that they came at the direction of Trump, Lawrence Noble, former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission, told The Post, “there is little question Cohen, the campaign and the candidate are liable for the campaign finance violations.”

There are no innocents in this mix. They are all guilty and one of my biggest questions remains: HOW FAR DID THIS CORRUPTION GO? How many people — senators, military men, lawyers, wheelers and dealers, were paid to let the Russians play tiddlywinks with our electoral process?

To say that all politics is corrupt is maybe partially true, but this is not only corrupt. This is actively treasonous.

Actively treasonous and not just the president and his close little circle, but his whole “ring of thieves.” Nixon’s crime was a cover-up. This isn’t a cover-up. This is an active attempt to gain the services of an enemy foreign power to win the American presidency.

That’s treason and I don’t care how you spell it. I don’t merely want to “know more.” I want the whole story. Paragraph by paragraph.

ABOUT THE GOOD OLD FIRST AMENDMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

1st amendment cartoonThe first amendment says you can say, write, or publish whatever you want without fear of being arrested, shot, imprisoned, or otherwise legally penalized. On television, the internet, as film or in print. From your mouth or on your blog, even if what you are saying is incredibly stupid, baseless, and factually incorrect. Even if it offends everyone who reads or hears it. As an American, being a loudmouthed jerk is constitutionally protected.

However. The first amendment does not say you are required to utter, write, film, broadcast, or publish whatever idiocy crosses your mind. Just because you can, does not mean you should. The Constitution protects your right to be a moron. It does not mandate you actually behave like one.

Those are your rights. My rights include the right to ignore you.

A right is no substitute for intelligence. It’s healthy to think. It’s good to read a book, check your sources, find out what’s really the right thing. Your opinion is not as good as everyone else’s, not if it’s based on hatred, ugliness, nonsense, and fake facts.

It’s perfectly okay to believe in the truth, to support provable facts, and live in the same reality as the rest of the world. Believing whatever you “feel” is “right” is crap.

Give reality a chance. Try reading a book, something your president hasn’t ever done.

Try thinking.

Our nation will be grateful to you. I personally will be grateful.

WHAT’S AT STAKE – Jan Wilberg

As a young woman, one of the few major triumphs socially and politically for women was when in 1965 the Supreme Court ruled birth control legal — for married couples and later for everyone — and then, in 1973, came Roe v. Wade. Until those two decisions, women weren’t full and free citizens. A man could make a baby and walk away. A woman could not.

I and most other women believed we won that battle. We had won the right to decide what was right for our bodies. To be equals to the men in our world. Never did any of us imagine that as senior citizens, we’d find ourselves fighting the battle again.

I believe we will win this again, as we did before. I do not believe the courts will undo a couple of generations of law to make some old white men feel more powerful … but it’s a strange world into which we have roamed. I suppose anything is possible.

And now, from Jan Wilberg: WHAT’S AT STAKE.


sub-ju-ga-tion
noun: the action of bringing someone or something under domination or control


The guys in Washington can puff themselves up and talk all they want about their belief that life begins at conception, that the ‘unborn’ have rights that take priority over a living, breathing, born woman, that overturning Roe v. Wade would right a 45-year old wrong and set this country on a path of morality and righteousness. They lie.

All of this fervor to pack the Supreme Court with a solid anti-choice majority is about one single thing: subjugation.

The linchpin of gender equality is control over one’s own person. My husband controls his body. I control mine. Taken more broadly, men control their bodies. Women control theirs. That’s what we have now, more or less, although creeping restrictions on birth control benefits and access to abortion services erode this notion.

However, if one gender controls their person but the other cannot, then the two genders are not equal. In the event of an overturned Roe v. Wade, the genders would again become quite unequal with men having full agency over themselves while women’s agency is limited, proscribed, and subject to government intervention.

Taken a step further, if a pregnancy results from the actions of a man and a woman, it will be only the woman’s body subject to external review. The guy can pretend it never happened.

I know how this works. I lived through it.

I became pregnant before Roe v. Wade. I’ll die before I get the image of being completely trapped out of my head, a young, witless woman with no money, no options, boxed in by secrecy and shame, fraught with fear, fear of being found out, fear of doing something illegal, fear of getting hurt or worse. Just utterly trapped.

Meanwhile, my boyfriend was unmarked, he had not a single stain, he was unscathed. A not unkind person, he was, just by virtue of his gender, filled with options, not the least of which was driving away. How is this fair? I thought at the time, that I should be so stricken by this situation and he can be so free?

Because, dear one, you and your boyfriend are not equal. He controls his body. You do not.

How do I say this to women in the plainest possible way? If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the government will control what is happening inside your body. 

Years ago, I did abortion clinic defense with a friend of mine who was a devout Catholic. I would pick her up early in the morning and we’d drive to whatever clinic was being targeted that day by the anti-abortion protesters being bused in from other states. Once there, we would link arms with hundreds of other people, women in suits on their way to their office jobs, college students with Rasta hair, men wearing feminist t-shirts, and the protesters would yell at us, really yell at us, inches from our faces.

“Would you ever have an abortion?” I asked my friend one morning, the sun just barely up and the grass wet beneath our feet.

“Never in a million years,” she answered.

We pulled our linked arms closer so there was no space between us, each of us clenching our hands together into tight, strong fists. What we stood for was clear – our right to be in control of our own bodies, our own lives, our own beliefs, no one telling another what she should do. Freedom.


LEGALIZING THE RIGHT TO A GOOD LIFE is my own take on the matter and you are welcome to peruse it at your leisure.

_________________

Photo by Jose Fontano on Unsplash

via What’s At Stake

WHERE’S A GOOD LOOPHOLE WHEN I NEED ONE?

LOOPHOLE


noun
1. An ambiguity or inadequacy in the law or a set of rules, as in: “They exploited tax loopholes.” synonyms: Means of evasion, means of avoidance; More
2. Historically, an arrow slit in a wall.
synonyms: Means of evasion, means of avoidance.
verb
1. Make arrow slits in (a wall or building).


I was sure this was going to turn out to be something to do with hooking wool or weaving cloth. Who knew it was about arrow slits?

Plenty of loopholes?

As for ambiguities and inadequacies in the law or rules, we seem to have more than enough of them to last through a wide variety of lifetimes.

Right now, I’m looking for a loophole that will let us buy groceries when we are out of money. The loopholes all seem to be in the wrong place. A loophole that give us free food until the next check arrives. Now THAT would be a loophole worth pursuing.

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