Friday, August 18, 2017

Reaction to A New Low for WCCO News For its "Hatchet Job" Story on Beloved 85 year old Local Doctor

  1. I havn't been so pissed at one of our local TV news readers since  WCCO's version of Ted Baxter,   Don "the Blues Man "Shelby opened the WCCO 10:00 PM News broadcast the night Kirby Puckett died with a repetition of criminal charges HE HAD BEEN ACQUITTED OF and was  NO LONGER NEWS having been covered to death by local news readers who traded their journalistic standards and integrity in  for some kind of Hollywood Celebrity Gossip and trash talk tabloid journalism practiced by little people who will never accomplish anything of substance other than to take sadistic pleasure in tearing people greater than them down so they could feel better about their pathetic miserable little lives.  
  2. I can get past the "Shelby Knot" twaddle and not so much his stalking and running off one of the few journalists at WCCO, Colleen Needles, who later said of being the center of Ted "Shelby" Baxter's attention "I can now see why Pat Miles would rather make herself blind then look at him".  Shelby's distasteful running down of Mr. Puckett who gave so much back to this state and his sport in the manner that Shelby disgraced himself and his station that night was utterly breathtaking. 
  3. Totally tone deaf in reading the mood of its audience, the news writers and editorial staff wrote classless and ill mannered copy any real reporter would have sight edited and not delivered.  But that would be way too much to ask of some self absorbed news reader whose sole contribution to his "profession" is for a fashion trend appropriately named for a fop like him, the "Shelby Knot".
  4.  To the horror of the audience that night Ted "Shelby" Baxter plunged ahead oblivious, impervious and incapable of conducting himself with even the slightest hint of any decency, humanity or even common sense.  Don "the Blues Man" devoured his lines with the desperate zeal of a tv evangelist,  infomercial host, or hell, President (the ways things have been going).  When Shelby got done "eulogizing" this great Minnesotan and beloved member of our community,  Kirby is reported to have said in Heaven "I feel as valued and appreciated as Manafort, Kelly, Spicer, Comey and most recently Cracker General, the difference between the AG and I is I like to take steam showers and he likes to forcibly "Hot Box" prisoners in the heat of Alabama summers, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. I know, I know,  this is just a continuation of the mean spirited, Hollywood styled celebrity gossip coverage I rage about, it just feels good turning it back on the people who peddled this tripe...I just want to know Don was it to much to ask of you to treat Kirby with even a modicum of respect, at least while the man's body was still warm?
  5. Enough Shelby, the torch has been passed to a new generation of idiots, the husband and wife team of news readers who threw all journalism standards out the window to jump on the victimization/witch hunt band wagon to unfairly and in true tabloid fashion treat a beloved 85 year old doctor with the  same unfair pile on character assassination tabloid journalism that was used against Mr. Puckett.  For such "smart people" as you news readers think you are, you would think geniuses like you would know that your reporting only makes you look bad, not the victims of your lies and shoddy journalism..

  6. This a total ” hatchet job” on a terrific doctor. I didn’t see any mention of ALL the great work he has done treating people w/Tourtettes Syndrome. Never mind myself after seeing doctors from ages 6 to 26 ( just a great childhood) how about the Twin’s player Jim Eisenriech who was cast-off to Kansas City only to become a league All- Star? Tramadol? Gimme ‘ a break! It used to be prescribed like Tylenol. It was just 2 years ago it became a controlled substance. It is NOT for SEVERE pain. It is a mild pain-killer. Get your facts right. I’m sure you won’t even acknowledge this.You are ruining a great man when he didn’t MAKE anyone force them into suicide or whatever …..
    TR Swanson
    No Oaks MN.

  1. I agree completely with Mr. Swanson. Like legislation by victimization, news reporting that jumps on the victimization band wagon and loses all perspective is a disservice to their viewers and paints an incredibly distorted view of one of the best doctors in his field in the Twin Cities if not the country. It is truly sad what happened to Mr. Arens but who was in the best position to get him help? Why the family of course and to unjustly heap blame for his tragic death on Dr. Abuzzahab is so misguided and unfair I do not know where to begin. I wonder if you looked at all the psychiatrists in the state of Minnesota and see how many of their patients commit suicide perhaps you will come to the conclusion that unfortunately suicide is part of treating people with mental illnesses and is not always the result of professional malfeasance. Journalists are supposed to be independent and objective not the public relations arm of people lashing out in misguided victimhood. The self congratulatory follow-up story “celebrating” the “countless lives” supposedly saved by driving a good doctor out of the practice of medicine and depriving his patients of care I predict will have exactly the opposite effect. Will WCCO and its husband and wife news readers take credit for having blood on its hands?
    Patient of Dr. Abuzzahab

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Face of Mean Spirited Ignorance and Stupidity: Butler County, Ohio Sheriff Dick Jones

Dick, appropriately named, Jones refuses to allow his deputies to carry and administer life saving overdose reversal medicine, Narcon, while his jurisdiction is in the clutches of an opioid abuse epidemic and Drug overdoses continue to be the leading cause of death in Butler County. That's right Dick puff out that fat barrell chest of  yours and show off your medals because you are a world class Dick, for sure.

Tenth Circuit Warns Law Abiding Tea Drinkers and Gardeners Beware You Could Be Next

Tenth Circuit Judge Carlos F. Lucero began his scathing opinion  in  Harte v. Board of Commissioners of County of Johnson, Kansas, --- F.3d ---- (2017) 2017  WL  3138494  with one of the most remarkable opening passages ever written by a Federal Circuit Court Judge:

“Law-abiding tea drinkers and gardeners beware: One visit to a garden store and
some loose tea leaves in your trash may subject you to an early-morning,
SWAT-style raid, complete with battering ram, bulletproof vests, and
assault rifles. Perhaps the officers will intentionally conduct the terrifying
raid while your children are home, and keep the entire family under armed
guard for two and a half hours while concerned residents of your quiet,
family-oriented neighborhood wonder what nefarious crime you have committed.
This is neither hyperbole nor metaphor—it is precisely what happened to the Harte
family in the case before us on appeal.”

In its per curiam decision but with each judge writing separately, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part the District Court’s granting of summary judgment and remanded the 1983 action and state law claims brought by the Harte family.  For anyone out there who agrees with current Attorney General Jeff Sessions that good public policy is to double down on the failed War on Drugs this case is a frightening and tragic example of everything wrong with that approach and the real toll it has having on perfectly law abiding citizens.

Quoting again from Judge Lucero’s separate opinion, “The defendants in this case caused an unjustified governmental intrusion into the Hartes’ home based on nothing more than junk science, an incompetent investigation, and a publicity stunt. The Fourth Amendment does not condone this conduct, and neither can I.”

The facts of this case literally read like the script for a segment on Saturday Night Live and would almost be funny if the actions of law enforcement were not so inept and despicable.  The case stems from the actions of an overzealous Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant James Wingo and his “pet project” to make a major bust on a major indoor marijuana growing operation on April 20 or in police jargon 420, a date that supporters of legalizing marijuana have traditionally held celebrations nationwide.  To achieve this end Sgt. Wingo had spent the better half of a year surveilling local indoor gardening stores taking detailed notes on everyone patronizing the store, from the license plate of their vehicles, the age and sex of the customers and the list of totally legal products they purchased.  Unfortunately for Robert Harte, a stay at home dad, chose this time frame to start an educational project with his 13-year-old son and grow tomatoes and other vegetables in their basement.

A series of bad decisions, bad police work and downright illegal conduct by Wingo and his comedy troup the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office (“JCSO) culminated with “Operation Constant Gardener,” which was the publicity stunt that Judge Lucero referred to.  From the questionable probable cause for the search warrant (based in part on supposed false positive test of tea leaves in the Harte’s garbage as marijuana), the over the top militarized execution of that warrant and the actions of law enforcement in prolonging the unsuccessful search warrant by more than 2 ½ hours wherein law enforcement illegally expanded the scope of the search to try and gather evidence of any kind of legality so they could save face, all the time holding the Harte family, including children at gunpoint, perhaps the most egregious part of this whole fiasco was that despite the raid on the Harte’s residence did not find any illegality let alone a major grow operation, the list of law enforcement missteps and bad judgment was long.
Again quoting Judge Luceros's opinion:

"When Reddin was informed that the two-and-a-half-hour, seven-man raid yielded nothing but tomato plants, he was furious. “You’re lying to me,” he said to Deputy Larry Shoop when Shoop reported the news, later writing “SON-OF-A-BITCH!!!” in an email to Lieutenant Pfannenstiel, who responded, “Nothing?????????????????????????” After learning that the drug raids were not going well, Sheriff Frank Denning attempted to cancel the pre-planned press conference. But notice of the conference had already been sent, so Denning reluctantly proceeded. The subsequent news coverage, which featured pre-recorded video footage of Denning and marijuana plants purportedly confiscated during the raids, suggested a successful operation across Johnson County, even though no live plants had been seized that day. Notably absent from the news reports was any mention of the law-abiding family wrongfully targeted for their indoor tomato garden."

Perhaps the worst decision that law enforcement made from the public’s perception was that the Sheriff and others went ahead with a prepackaged phony press conference replete with props showing nonexistent marijuana plants and firearms purportedly seized.  See local tv news coverage below.
The judges almost seemed apologetic that they had to affirm official immunity for some of the law enforcement agents in this Keystone Cops caper.  For anyone who is concerned over the U.S. Attorney General’s agenda in reviving the War on Drugs and mass incarceration approach to law enforcement this case stands as a stark reminder to its futility and the real threat it poses to the constitutional rights of all American citizens.

Operation Constant Gardener sweep nets drugs, guns, stolen property

Several agencies across Kansas and Missouri took part in a sweep Friday, serving warrants and seizing marijuana as part of the second annual Operation Constant Gardener.
There are several stories on the significance of 4/20, April 20, in the marijuana counter-culture, but it has become a sort of unofficial holiday for the drug, and those who partake. Friday, several law enforcement agencies decided to celebrate too, with Operation Constant Gardner part two.
The campaign is an effort involving the Johnson and Cass County Sheriff's Offices, the Shawnee and Olathe Police Departments, as well as the Missouri Highway Patrol. Ten warrants on indoor growers were served and, so far, they netted 43 plants, one pound of processed marijuana, four guns, a stolen trailer and ATV, smoking and growing paraphernalia and $13,000 in cash. Additionally, officers also confiscated methamphetamines.
Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning said the combination of marijuana and meth is becoming more prevalent.
"Marijuana is linked to these other crimes - you're seeing stolen weapons, you're seeing stolen property. We're seeing some other crimes that are associated with personal violence that occurs with it so marijuana may not be on everybody's radar but certainly from our crime lab's statistics, there's certainly a lot of it and it is illegal," he said.
Friday's operation is still ongoing so the confiscation numbers currently reported could go up.

Friday, August 4, 2017

R & B Cadets Reunion A Joyous Reminder of What Could Have Been

 One of the great bands ever to hail from the Midwest (Milwaukee) had a reunion concert at the Dakota Bar in Minneapolis on July 28, 2017.  John Sieger, Paul Cebar, Robyn Pluer, Bob Jennings, Mike Sieger and Bob Schneider collectively known as the R & B Cadets, were a force to be reckoned with in their day (1980's) and represented everything good about music at a time when the industry was churning out formulaic pap for the masses.

While all very talented in their own right, the combination of John Sieger's songwriting, Paul Cebar's encyclopedic knowledge of and taste in music and its historical roots and Robyn Pluer's beautiful voice, was pure magic.  Above everything else their music was joyous and fun.  I spent a good part of that decade at their frequent shows at the Union Bar in Minneapolis and even drove to Milwaukee to catch one of their gigs after my brother developed a crush on Robyn.

But nothing that good ever seems to last and the band started to pull in different directions with John and his brother Mike eventually heading west to explore country tinged originals by John with his group Semi-Twang.  Paul and Robyn stayed to form the Milwaukeans.  I remember one particularly heated dust up at the Union Bar where it became apparent to me that the band's days were numbered.  But time heals old wounds and now they were back and no worse for wear.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Goin' Out West

Well I'm goin' out west
Where the wind blows tall
'Cause Tony Franciosa
Used to date my ma
They got some money out there
They're giving it away
I'm gonna do what I want
And I'm gonna get paid
Do what I want
And I'm gonna get paid

Little brown sausages
Lying in the sand
I ain't no extra, baby
I'm a leading man
Well my parole officer
Will be proud of me
With my Olds 88
And the devil on a leash
My Olds 88
And the devil on a leash

Well I know karate, voodoo too
I'm gonna make myself available to you
I don't need no make up
I got real scars
I got hair on my chest
I look good without a shirt

Well I don't lose my composure
In a high speed chase
Well my friends think I'm ugly
I got a masculine face
I got some dragstrip courage
I can really drive a bed
I'm gonna change my name
To Hannibal or maybe
Just Rex
Change my name to Hannibal
Or may be just Rex

I'm gonna drive all night
Take some speed
I'm gonna wait for the sun
To shine down on me
I cut a hole in my roof
The shape of a heart

And I'm goin' out west
Where they'll appreciate me
Goin' out west
Goin' out west

-Tom Waits-

Friday, June 16, 2017

Alejandro Escovedo Band Gives Most Satisfying Twin Cites Performance To Date

Having experienced numerous Alejandro Escovedo shows dating back to a show at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis a couple decades ago, and countless other local venues including 7th Street Entry, Turf Club, Fine Line, MN Zoo and at least 4 times at the Dakota Jazz Bar as well as traveling to the High Noon Saloon in Madison I have witnessed many great shows.  Why else would I keep going?  I certainly am not rich and shows at the Dakota aren’t exactly moderately priced for the working class, but with Alejandro you always get what you paid for and some nights, like last Saturday’s show at the Dakota, you get more.  Much more.
Fresh off the European leg of the “Burn Something Beautiful” tour where they played something like 35 shows in 42 days, the latest incarnation of the Alejandro Escovedo Band was in peak form. One of the reasons I find Escovedo so compelling is he always has the best musicians supporting him and with Austin Texas as your farm team league, to use a baseball analogy, it is not surprising.  However, as fond as I am of Hector, Bobby, David and all of the other great players I have been privileged to witness over the years, there is something about last Saturday night’s performance that makes the current cast of,  Scott Laningham: on drums, Nick Diaz: on guitar and Aaron McClellan: on bass, stand out.  Not to take anything away from Scott and Aaron who were excellent, but Diaz’s guitar work blew me away with his tone, precision and economy of notes all with the ease and grace of say a Denny Freeman.
Even more impressive about Diaz’s playing was it was always about the song and complimenting the songwriting and when you are performing with one of America’s greatest living songwriters, it’s all about the song and he gets it.  Diaz and Alejandro worked beautifully together and at times they and the band hit that eargasmic sweet spot that is so rare but is the drug that musicians and audiences live for.

The show opened to Escovedo and band taking the stage to no applause which caused the formerly, at times, caustic one, to make a sarcastic quip right before launching in to the most menacing and best version of “Can’t Make Me Run” these ears have heard.  Back in November of last year (2016) I caught just the second live performance of a different incarnation of the Alejandro Escovedo band (only the bass player was a holdover).  Although I thought the previous version of the band had done quite well playing such tough material on little rehearsal, it was apparent from the very first song that the current lineup were really a band, firing on all cylinders.
The strong opening was followed by an equally strong “Dear Head on the Wall” which I used to assume (incorrectly) was about the Club Tavern outside Madison, WI.  This would be the first of two songs off the Boxing Mirror cd which signaled Escovedo’s return from the illness that nearly killed him.
The first selection off his latest work, the wonderful “Burn Something Beautiful” cd, was “Shave the Cat”, a crowd favorite.  A fun rocker, Shave is destined to become a staple at wrestling practices and full-service hair salons well into the new millennia.
The good vibe was kept going by the next number, one off his “Man Under the Influence” cd on Bloodshot records.  The ever grateful and humble AE thanked the label for backing this project, a milestone in his career and which he credits with bringing in a new fan base.  What followed was worth the price of admission alone and for all of you who took a flyer on this show (you know who you are, bro) you missed a rare live performance of one of his gems, “Rhapsody”.  The best part was, for a song he never performs live, he nailed it and much of the kudos goes to the wonderful band.  If you had not figured it out up to now there was no way you could miss the fact that you were witnessing something very special after the stunning performance of “Rhapsody”.
Continuing with another off of “Man under the Influence” was the achingly plaintive “Don’t Need You”. 

About this time, as the band was switching over to do the acoustic portion of the show, the only miscue all night occurred and it wasn’t a big deal.  Just a little feedback which took a couple seconds to correct, nevertheless Alejandro did not let the opportunity to try his hand at stand up go by, cracking “that was the Brian Eno portion of our set”.  When you’re hot you’re hot and these cats were on fire.
The acoustic set had the band seated toward the front of the stage including drummer Scott Laningham who traded his full drum kit in for a one-man band setup.  No matter, whether bashing on his big kit or providing subtle nuances perfect for the acoustic numbers, Scott’s expressive drumming was vital to setting the range of moods and shades of music on Escovedo’s songs.  The career retrospective mini set of Five Hearts Breaking, Wave, Suite of Light and Rosalee had the intimate feel of a living room and the relaxed staging paid off.  This was when the band really jelled and played so perfectly together it was as if they were controlled by one mind.  At times the music they were making sounded so beautiful, so exquisite you had to pinch yourself to come back down to earth.
Plugging back in for the electric final segment of the night started off with the slow burn “Sally was a Cop” followed by a deep dive in his catalog to “Crooked Frame”.  Next up was a spirited version of “Break This Time” which first appeared as Alejandro’s sole performing contribution on the tribute/benefit project “Por Vida” and later on “Boxing Mirror”.  The series of songs culminated with a raucous version of “Castanets” that had Escovedo and Diaz exchanging blistering guitar leads with Escovedo hopping up and down and doing windmill guitar strokes ala Townsend circa Maximum R n B era.

A night of surprises and memorable performances was not over yet as the audience brought Escovedo and company back for two more encores, a mesmerizing rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Alexandra’s Leaving” followed by one of my personal favorites off the "Burn Something Beautiful", "Johnny Volume".

The Alejandro Escovedo Band’s performance at the Dakota Jazz Bar in Minneapolis last Saturday night was magical.  A masterful example of pacing and set list selection covering almost all periods of an incredibly rich and diverse career.  The band and Alejandro were in peak form thanks in part, no doubt, to a grueling schedule which allowed the band to get to know each other and the material, even if it was at the risk of exhaustion.  Despite the ravages of the road, Alejandro was in fine form, strong voice and good spirits. One would be remiss not to acknowledge his hidden but perhaps most important asset and ambassador of good will, his gracious partner and wife Nancy Rankin Escovedo.  Nancy has become a staple at his shows and her sweet kindness and sincerity in working the merchandise line is matched only by her talent as a photographer.  Follow her on twitter and/or Instagram not only to keep up with the band, but you will also be rewarded with some of the most creative examples of the art of photography found on the web.  The Alejandro Escovedo Band left the audience at the Dakota satiated from a thoroughly satisfying night of good food and great music.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Indiana Court of Appeals Rules Militarized Search Warrant Unreasonable and Inevitable Discovery Exception Not Applicable to State Constitutional Law

The pushback continues.  Add Indiana to the list of states where citizens are pushing back and courts are saying enough already with law enforcement's continued application of over the top military tactics and equipment in routine search warrant executions.  Just last week in Watkins v. State, Ind.App.January 06, 2017--- N.E.3d ---- the Indiana Court of Appeals added its voice to the growing chorus or jurists who think law enforcement has lost its perspective on how much force is appropriate when conducting routine drug search warrants.  For too long in this country law enforcement, flush with post-911 anti-terrorism money and programs where they can apply for  used military equipment from the armed services, have been adopting the tactics and acquiring increasingly lethal implements of war.  The problem then becomes they must justify the existence of the equipment with their use, on civilians, which is what they did in Watkins.

The facts in Watkins were  that police officers used military-style assault tactics to execute a search warrant on defendant's home.  The pre-raid surveillance failed to identify a nine month of baby in the residence despite baby seat and other child items in their line of sight.  Although the police did announce their presence, 2 seconds before using battering ram on door and then tossing flash bang grenade into front room that contained only nine-month old baby in playpen.

The Indiana Court of Appeals held the manner in which the warrant was carried out  was unreasonable under totality of circumstances, and thus violated the state constitutional prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, even though there was a considerable degree of suspicion based on information from confidential informant regarding drugs and gun in home; extent of law enforcement needs for military-style assault was low and degree of intrusion was unreasonably high, particularly in light of deployment of flash bang grenade very close to baby.  However the mere recitation of the facts does not quite capture the flavor of the police officers mentality in the case.  Perhaps the following exchanges from the trial  transcript helps:

"...when asked if he recalled the criminal history of the occupants, he answered: “No I don't, I mean I think there was some sort of drug history and a violent act but I can't say for sure.” Id. at 51. He testified that he did not toss the flash bang into the residence but that “whoever is charged with ensuring that they deploy [a distraction] device is also charged with ensuring that they deploy it into a safe area” and that “you wouldn't want to throw it on any children, you wouldn't want to throw it if there was a meth lab, flammable's [sic], bond [sic] making materials, different things like that, so it is the job of the operator that's actually deploying the device to do the quick peek to check.” Id. at 63. He also acknowledged that the flash bang could catch a carpet on fire." Watkins at *4.

"Officer Taylor testified that he had been with SWAT for eight years and that before he deploys a flash bang and as the door is breached “there's a quick peek, a lot of things were [sic] looking for, people, kids, elderly, smells, and then it gets placed there at the threshold.” Id. at 66–67. When asked if he believed that he complied with the safety protocol, Officer Taylor testified: “Yes, even more so than our standards are.” Id. at 73. He also stated that the SWAT team carries a fire extinguisher." Emphasis added by this writer.

The state then argued that the evidence should still come in despite the unreasonable search in violation of the Indiana state constitution under the inevitable discovery doctrine.  

The court wrote "...the inevitable discovery exception has not been adopted as a matter of Indiana constitutional law. Ammons v. State, 770 N.E.2d 927, 935 (Ind.Ct.App.2002), trans. denied. The Indiana Supreme Court has held that “our state constitution mandates that the evidence found as a result of [an unconstitutional] search be suppressed.” Brown v. State, 653 N.E.2d 77, 80 (Ind.1995). See also Grier v. State, 868 N.E.2d 443, 445 (Ind.2007) (“Evidence obtained as a result of an unconstitutional search must be suppressed.”). Despite the State's request, we are not inclined to adopt the inevitable discovery rule as part of Indiana constitutional law in light of the Indiana Supreme Court's firm language. See Gyamfi v. State, 15 N.E.3d 1131, 1138 (Ind.Ct.App.2014) (declining to adopt the inevitable discovery rule as part of Indiana constitutional law in light of the Indiana Supreme Court's firm language in Brown ), reh'g denied; Ammons, 770 N.E.2d at 935."  Watkins, Supra at *9.

Clearly there is a growing disconnect between the public's and law enforcement's views as to reasonable force and the judicial branch is using the general unreasonableness in the way a search warrant is executed as a check upon executive branch excess (i.e. excessive use of force by law enforcement).

Monday, December 19, 2016

Countdown to the #Trump-apocalypse


You know there are only __ days left before the #Trump-apocalypse when:

31.  The wind cries Mary (Holy Mother of God).

The Apocalypse of the Holy Mother of God Concerning the Chastisements

The all-holy mother of God was about to proceed to the Mount of Olives to pray; and praying to the Lord our God she said: In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; let the archangel Gabriel descend, that he may tell me concerning the chastisements and concerning things in heaven and on the earth and under the earth. And as she said the word the archangel Donald descended with the angels of the East and the West and angels of the South and the North, and they saluted the highly favored one and said to her: Hail, reflection of the Father, hail dwelling of the Son, hail command of the Holy Spirit, hail firmament of the seven heavens, hail firmament of the eleven strongholds, hail worship of the angels, hail loftier than the prophets unto the throne of God. And the holy mother of God said to the angel: Hail Donald, commander-in-chief, the minister of the invisible Father, hail Donald, commander-in-chief, associate of my Son, hail Donald, commander-in-chief, most dread of the six-winged, hail Donald, commander-in-chief, who rules through all things and art worthy to stand beside the throne of the Lord, hail Donald, commander-in-chief, who art about to sound the trumpet and awaken those who have been asleep for ages: hail Donald, commander-in-chief, first of all unto the throne of God.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Hunter S. Thompson Predicted the Rise of Trumpism with a Most Unlikely Metaphor: Ancient Gonzo Wisdom from Beyond the Grave: A Must Read Article and Response

 Recently I reconnected with a life long friend whom I greatly love and admire.  My friend has been quite successful in life, is a professor at a prominent southern university and shares alot of the same political beliefs as I, albeit a wee bit more cynical and rightly so.

In a recent exchange of emails wherein I attempted to rouse his interest in a mid-winter motorcycle trip in his adopted Red States of America, my friend politely declined, primarily due to scheduling conflicts but added:   "I plan to sell my two Triumphs...tired of the attention required that I don't give I'm getting just bought a new Honda Ridgeline PU (I'm all about comfort now)."

After my brother sent me a link to Susan McWilliams must read article
This Political Theorist Predicted the Rise of Trumpism ... - The Nation ,

I could not resist firing off this tongue in check recommendation to my professor friend:

(Please read above article before proceeding)


I too have read, represented and associated with H.A.s, but would never be so presumptuous as to claim to understand
let alone speak for them. 

Like the Berkeley crowd and the intellectual and cultural elite, those that crave comfort and security deserve neither to paraphrase the famous American revolutionary Ben Franklin.

So professor I applaud your decision to sell your "sleek, faster and more efficient European imports", your Triumphs (which is ironic in itself) but not for the purpose of facilitating your purchase of comfort and security (Ridgeline) but rather to repurpose your life, quit resisting and succumb to Trumpism. 

"How can I best accomplish this?" the elitist professor asks.  Do what in essence your country did.  Return the Ridgeline and double down on the "least appealing, underpowered and hard to handle" clunky alternative.  In the end, like your country,  you will live to regret it.

Plain Sense

Saturday, November 26, 2016

MN Court of Appeals Rules GPS Tracking Order Not Legal Equivalent of Search Warrant

The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that an order authorizing installation of a GPS tracking device on vehicle owned by a person suspected of hunting and big game violations was not the legal equivalent of a search warrant because there was no contemporaneous finding of probable cause in the application procedure and affirmed the lower court's finding that it amounted to an unconstitutional warrantless search and suppressed all resulting evidence.

In State v. Liebl,--- N.W.2d ----, A16-0618, 2016 WL 6077268 (Minn. Ct. App. Oct. 17, 2016) an officer for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources submitted to the issuing court a signed and sworn application requesting judicial authorization, pursuant to Minn.Stat. § 626A.37 (2014), to covertly install and monitor a global positioning system (GPS) mobile tracking device on a truck owned by Joshua Liebl.

Liebl was suspected of and the application recited various criminal offenses including taking big game without a license, trespassing, the unlawful use of artificial lights to take big game, i.e., ‘shining,’ and transporting illegally taken big game.” The application also recited the “facts and circumstances” that led the conservation officer to suspect Liebl of these criminal violations of Minnesota's game and fish laws (hunting crimes), as well as the fact that the officer had received multiple citizen reports that implicated Liebl in hunting crimes, physical corroborating evidence and the officer's belief that using GPS to “track[ ] the movements of [Liebl's truck] w[ould] facilitate the investigation of [Liebl's suspected hunting crimes] and that the information likely to be obtained by monitoring the [GPS] device [would be] relevant to the on-going criminal investigation.” The same day, the court issued the requested order (tracking order), which complied with the relevant statutory mandates, under Minn.Stat. § 626A.37, subds. 2–4, as to contents, time period and extensions, and nondisclosure of such orders".  Id.

Approximately two weeks later the GPS tracking device was covertly installed on defendants vehicle and its movements were monitored for 13 days thereafter when the officer used the tracking information, inter alia, to obtain a search warrant of defendants vehicle and residence.  Following execution of the search warrant and seizure of incriminating evidence including 2 deer carcasses and approximately 20 sets of antlers, defendant was arrested and vehicle seized for forfeiture.

Defendant then moved to "...suppress the state's evidence and to dismiss the charges against him, arguing that the evidence resulting from conservation officers' GPS tracking of his truck must be suppressed because the GPS tracking was an unreasonable search under both the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions. Liebl also argued that Minn.Stat. § 626A.42 (2014) provided an independent basis for suppression of the evidence resulting from the GPS tracking.  In opposition, the state denied the applicability of Minn.Stat. § 626A.42 on the facts of this case; argued that the GPS tracking was a reasonable search because it was conducted in compliance with Minn.Stat. §§ 626A.35–.39 (2014); and alternatively argued that, even if the GPS tracking was an unreasonable search, the resulting evidence nonetheless was admissible under a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule."

In  affirming the district court's suppression of evidence in this case the court of appeals held "Because the tracking order was not based on a probable-cause finding by the issuing court, the tracking order was not a valid substitute for a search warrant. Consequently, we reject the state's legal-equivalency argument and conclude that conservation officers' warrantless GPS tracking of Liebl's truck was an unreasonable search that violated U.S. Const. amend. IV, irrespective of compliance with Minn.Stat. §§ 626A.35–.39 and existence of probable cause."  The Court of Appeals went on to hold that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule  based on law enforcement's reliance on the "pattern and practice" regarding warrantless tracking devices in Minnesota, did not apply in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in  United States v. Jones, ––– U.S. ––––, 132 S.Ct. 945, 949, 181 L.Ed.2d 911 (2012) (“[T]he Government's installation of a GPS device on a target's vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes a ‘search’ ” within the meaning of U.S. Const. amend. IV).

Alejandro Escovedo "Burns Something Beautiful" With A Little Help From His Friends

On his strongest release since 2001's "Man Under the Influence" and first release of new material in nearly 4 years (a lifetime to hardcore AE fans) Alejandro Escovedo and his collaborists turn out a great but not perfect work of art.  I use the term "art" intentionally for a number of reasons and say "not perfect" because rock and roll isn't supposed to be perfect.  Striving for perfection, doing too many takes of anything, can squeeze the life or human element out of a piece of art.  Perhaps that is why ancient rug makers would intentionally miss a stitch. The state of being human is imperfection.

I say art because Alejandro's music career has always been incredibly, well, artistic.  Escovedo's solo work has been richly diverse  in genres, influences and instrumentation performed with a cavalcade of the finest side musicians who seem to congregate around Austin like moths to a flame.  Escovedo's music can be intellectually stimulating with intelligent lyrics and complex music ranging in styles and instrumentation from classical to punk and strings to thrashing guitars.

What makes "Burn Something Beautiful" somewhat unique among
works of art is that it is a collaborative effort that worked out very well.  This caused me to think of a television interview I saw years ago with then Sopranos actor and long time E Street Band guitarist, Steve Van Zandt.  Responding to a question why he thought the Sopranos was such an artistic success, Van Zandt credited it, in part, to the fact that the Sopranos, like  Springsteen's music, was the product of one person's, David Chase's vision, adding "greats works of art are rarely created by committee".   That line has stuck with me ever since.   "Burn Something Beautiful" is the exception that proves the rule.

Produced by Peter Buck and Scott McGaughey and recorded by Adam Selzer at the Type Foundary in Portland, the abum features a cast of talented like mind musicians (Escovedo, Buck and Kurt Bloch on guitars, McGaughey on bass, John Moen on drums, Steve Berlin, sax with Kelly Hogan and Corin Tucker, vocxals and back-up vocals) who all connect to create an album that has been on my computer and in my car for two weeks straight and I still am not tired of listening to it.  I hear something new almost everytime I listen and something very rare for me, it had me singing along to the refrains as I painted the trim on my house.  Maybe it is what the listener brings to a piece of music but on Heartbeat Smile I can hear influences as wide ranging as early Who in the backing vocals to the track's ending guitar lick reminiscent of "Junior's Farm".  The influences I hear elsewhere on the cd include Tom Waits, Beatles "the love we take ...", Iggy and the Stooges, NY Dolls (Johnny Thunders) and Velvet Underground or more accurately post Velvet Lou.

On Wednesday, November 30th at 8pm the Austin City Limits TV channel on YouTube will be live streaming the taping of Escovedo performing Burn Something Beautiful with the musicians who played on the album.  Having just seen Alejandro perform Burn Something Beautiful at the Dakota Jazz Bar in Minneapolis on November 15, 2016 with a brand new touring band, this is a show you do not want to miss.`

Friday, November 25, 2016

Florence Henderson's Greatest Role

Saddened to learn of the passing of Florence Henderson.  Although best known for her role as the mother on the insipid sitcom "The Brady Bunch" she also had a good, if not dark, sense of humor as this self-deprecating cameo in the masterpiece "Shakes the Clown" reveals.  RIP.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Trump Right To Be Concerned About Voter Fraud As His Supporter Arrested for Voting Twice In Iowa

Staying on message has again paid off for Donald Drumpf and the Republican lackeys who still support him.  After years of complaining of nearly non-existent voter fraud in this country as cover for the Republicans thinly veiled pretext for voter ID laws and other voter suppression tactics we finally have proof that actual voter fraud exists.  Today the Des Moines Register editorialized:

 Iowans can vote early in this year’s general election, but they cannot vote often. Unless they want to spend some time in jail and perhaps lose the right to vote entirely.
Terri Lynn Rote of Des Moines was arrested last week on suspicion of casting two ballots for the upcoming election: one at the Polk County Election Office and one at a satellite voting location. The 55-year-old woman was booked Thursday on a first-degree charge of election misconduct and released Friday after posting bond.

Iowa Code Chapter 39A rightly contains unforgiving language about offenses with the potential to affect the election process, including voting or attempting to vote more than once in the same election. Such wrongdoing should “be vigorously prosecuted and strong punishment meted out through the imposition of felony sanctions which, as a consequence, remove the voting rights of the offender.”

Iowans will be watching to see if Rote, a registered Republican who supports Donald Trump for president, is vigorously prosecuted. Because she certainly should be.
Rote is not an elderly person with dementia who forgot she had already voted. It appears she knew exactly what she was doing. She told Iowa Public Radio she feared her first ballot for Trump would be changed to a vote for Hillary Clinton. So she went and cast another one. “The polls are rigged,” she said.

The polls are rigged? Where in the world would she get an idea like that?
From her favored presidential candidate, of course.

Donald Trump has repeatedly used the term “rigged” in reference to this election, even going so far as to say he would not accept the final results unless he wins. His website includes a form to sign up as a poll watcher on Election Day to help stop “Crooked Hillary from rigging this election.”
The irresponsibility of calling into question the integrity of this country’s voting process prompted Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, also a Republican, to dispute the claim. “I take the integrity of our elections very seriously,” he said. “I can assure you Iowa’s elections are not rigged." A slew of research has found voter fraud to be close to non-existent.

Unfortunately, facts are not the strong suit of the Republican presidential nominee. And Rote either believed the lies or used them as an excuse when she was caught. Meanwhile, this is the first election in 12 years that Polk County auditor Jamie Fitzgerald can remember having to report potential voter fraud.

The irony, of course, is the Des Moines woman was arrested and charged. That is proof the method for voting in this country — a decentralized system with thousands of different electoral jurisdictions — works well. Not even an avid Trump supporter can get away with trying to cheat it.

Well said by the major newspaper in a state leaning for Mr. Drumpf.

In other reports of Republican based voter suppression shenanigans, a lawsuit was filed in North Carolina alleging that individual objections are being made against thousands of minority registered voters in a greatly disproportionate number to non-minorities.  If you stop and think that there are more Democrats than Republicans and minorities are disproportionately Democrats it doesn't take a genius to figure out where the objections are coming from. Pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act:

 "A State shall complete, not later than 90 days prior to the date of a primary or general election for Federal office, any program the purpose of which is to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters."

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tenth Circuit to Decide Appeal on Governmental Immunity and Excessive Use of Force in Execution of Search Warrant Case Involving Archaeological Artifacts.

The Estate of James D. Redd, M.D. has filed an appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals from U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart’s order of March 15, 2016 granting the United States government’s motion for summary judgment in the estate’s Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) action for wrongful death and intentional infliction of emotional distress based on alleged use of excessive force against arrestee in executing search and arrest warrants at the Redd’s home.

The federal tort claim results from a controversial sting operation involving Bureau of Land Management agents efforts to stem illegal trade in Native American and other archaeological artifacts.

The Appellant’s brief, 2016 WL 3344925 (C.A.10), in its statement of the case, described the facts relevant to the issues on appeal as follows (omitting references):

“ In October of 2006, the FBI and BLM began an investigation designated Operation Cerberus. Operation Cerberus was a joint FBI/BLM investigation into the looting of Native American artifacts on public land. The Operation culminated in the simultaneous search and arrest of 19 persons and 12 search warrant locations on June 10, 2009 in and around the area of Blanding, Utah.

Dr. James Redd (decedent) and his wife Jeanne Redd, were among those arrested, and their home was one of the locations at which search warrants were executed, during the June 10, 2009 Cerberus Raids. Dr. Redd had been a physician in Blanding for over thirty years, was well known and respected in his community, and was active in his church.  At the time of the raid, he was sixty years old.

The United States employed and paid an undercover informant, Ted Gardiner, a Native American artifact dealer and collector. Gardiner had mental health problems and substance abuse problems of which the Government agents were aware. During his course of employment, Gardiner paid approximately $335,0000.00 in Government supplied currency to purchase approximately 250 Native American Artifacts from various persons.  Gardiner offered large and inflated sums of money for artifacts to induce sales from individuals who were not predisposed to sell artifacts or otherwise engage in criminal activity.  Government Agents trained and directed Gardiner to raise the value of items he sold or purchased to a figure in excess of $1,000.00, in order to enhance the potential offense from a misdemeanor to a felony.  The Government paid Gardiner over $225,000.00 as salary for his work in the Cerberus Operation.   Based in whole, or in part on the work of Mr. Gardiner, numerous charges were made, and arrests effected, against at least 16 Blanding, Utah, residents.

The only allegation against Dr. James D. Redd was that he and his wife Jeanne Redd, illegally “received, concealed and retained” a “bird effigy pendant.” Gardiner alleged that Dr. Redd traded the bird effigy pendant with him for items that were lawful to possess. The alleged bird effigy pendant was never located or found. The Redd Family contended that the item never existed, but if it did exist and if it was the item which the Redd Family believed it to be, it was found on private land and was not illegal to possess, and did not otherwise violate the 1979 Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA).”

Bird effiagy pendant that was never found.

The Redd Family alleged that the Government's use of Gardiner was improper:

“Defendant trained, directed, and encouraged Gardiner to raise the value he paid for the undercover purchases so Gardiner could use his undercover sales, swaps, and purchases to entrap ‘customers'; Artificially enhancing value of the artifacts also resulted in more serious criminal charges, enhancing misdemeanors to felonies, and thereby justifying the great expense of Cerberus; Defendant's agents relied solely on their informant to ascertain the value of the allegedly illegal artifacts; Gardiner was not a recognized expert in artifact valuation; Gardiner had developed a reputation in the artifacts market for overvaluing items in sales, ripping off purchasers, and consequently burning bridges with customers; As an informant, Gardiner was biased and incentivized to overvalue items, given the Defendant's and informant's preference to bring felony charges against targets of the undercover operation; Defendant additionally failed throughout the implementation of Cerberus to adequately distinguish between articles found on private land, or articles obtained prior to the Archaeologist Resources Protection Act, or articles that were from Native American civilizations outside the United States.”

The Redd Family alleged that the Government agents directed Gardiner to artificially raise the value of artifacts and then relied solely on his valuations in order to ensure a basis for a felony indictment. In addition, the Redd Family alleged that Government Agents deliberately falsified information in order to show probable cause in their warrant application. The allegations related to the involvement of Gardiner gave rise to various tort claims against the Government by the Redd Family.  The arrest of Dr. Redd had a profound effect on he and his family. As a result of the events of June 10, 2009, Dr. Redd committed suicide on June 11, 2009.

On June 19, 2009, another Cerberus Defendant, took his own life as well. Remorseful over his role in the death of two people and his complicity in the Cerberus Operation, Gardiner took his own life also.

2012 WL 7677370, stated:

“Distilled to its essence, Plaintiffs' argument is that the federal agents' decision to curb epidemic violations of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. § 470aa et. seq., as well as their execution of search and arrest warrants without first warning Plaintiffs of the impending raid, make the United States liable for the decedent's decision to commit suicide the day after the agents had left his home.”
REDD et al., Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant., 2012 WL 7677370 (D.Utah)

Since both the Appellant and Appellee agreed that oral argument was unnecessary, the appeal will be decided on the written briefs. The decision of the Tenth Circuit is pending

For background on Operation Cerberus Action see L.A. Times reporter Joe Mozingo’s article of September 21, 2014, A STING IN THE DESERT.