Thursday, September 25, 2008

Finnish T.V. News Report On Americans' Attitudes Toward Firearms Overshadowed by School Shooting Tragedy Back In Finland

Back on September 3rd, my friend Mick Larson received a phone call from Paula Vilén, US Correspondent for Finnish Broadcasting Company, YLE. Mick is also the manager of the South St. Paul Rod & Gun Club of which organization I am a proud member. (This is despite the fact that my abilities with a shotgun are such that I have been told that my aim is so bad that I "Couldn't hit my ass with a fistful of rice!")

The Finnish television reporter and her crew were in town for the Republican Party National Convention and wanted to know whether it was alright to stop in and film a background report on American's attiudes toward firearms. The angle was an obvious one, McCain had just announced his moose hunter VP choice, Sarah Palin and the Finns could obviously relate to this very basic but practical qualification to hold the highest office of the land.

To see the clip that aired on Finnish television station YLE's nightly news cast back on September 4, 2008, go to the nine (9:00) minute mark of the playback counter.

Any European superiority or snarkiness in the tone of the report was wiped away by the tragedy of the Finnish school shooting. I feel for the families of the victims but I hope the Finns are wise enough to know that the answer or proper response to such tragedies is not banning guns, but rather educating people, whether it is on constitutional rights, gun safety, school bullying , mental illness or whatever was behind the evil acts of a selfish perpetrator.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Tactics of Decision Making: Beware the "Fast Sale" & the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf

"Hurry Up, Hurry Up!" the politician barkers yell, "Hurry up before all is lost". The Bush Administration is pressuring with all its might to ram egregiously bad legislation down the throats of the American people. But not so fast Mr. President! Remember the story of Peter and the Wolf?

Well, Wolf Shit!!

Or, as Dubbya now famously put it, "...fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...ehhrr...ah...Won't Get Fooled Again!".

As Senator Harry Reid stated earlier today, he will not be pressured into a rushed decision. As Reid observed, nothing good has ever come when the Congress was rushed into a decision by the Bush Administration and its choir, the Republican controlled Congress.

Nope. Not this time Bub. Your fanciful and woeful, gloom and doom financial procrastinations won't work their fear this time.

Unlike when the Republican controlled Congress was rubber stamping the Patriot Act, War in Iraq, ineffective K Street Corruption Investigation, the no negotiating provision of the Medicare Prescription Drug Act and the lack of oversight and investigation into the Justice Department Illegal Firing AND Hiring Scandals, this time the Democrats control Congress and they are holding out for the average American's rights; not the billionaire's bailout of the Investment Banking Houses.

Of course we demand drastic reduction in Corporate Officer compensation of the bailed out firms. Of course, as Democrats we demand provisions for affordable mortgages for citizens of modest means. Something that the Republicans are vociferously opposing with all their might.

If fairness and the rights of working Americans means that Congress hold out a little longer and read the fine print, not once, but twice, well that is just the way it has to be then.

And since they have to get it right the first time, yes, it will be worth it!

The Onion: "Rumors Swirl Around Palin"

The Onion, knowing all good humor and satire is based upon the truth, recently published the following:

Ever since Sen. John McCain's selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, the press has been abuzz with rumors about the former mayor of Wasilla, AK. Here are some of the more persistent rumors:

As a local Alaskan sportscaster, her signature on-air phrase was "Life begins at conception";

An evening-gown-clad Palin personally drilled a clumsy but functional oil well during the talent portion of the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant;

Actually a Muslim;

A lower-back tattoo of Alaska can be seen when Palin wears low-riding jeans;

In addition to the five children that the media are aware of—Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig—Palin also has nine secret children: Frag, Moss, Scoot, Skiffer, Minnow, Plow, Snatch, Twiglet, and Drum;

Elaborate moose-lowering-for-sex machine gathers dust in basement;

The Republican Party installed Palin as mayor of Wasilla, AK in 1996 to begin grooming her for a position as VP;

Palin a viable candidate.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Painful Palin Revelations Pose Grave Questions Concerning Her Character and Fitness For Office

In just a little over one week's worth of intense scrutiny, painful revelations have come to light concerning Sarah Palin's personal and public life which raise grave concern as to her character, judgment, experience and fitness to hold, potentially, the highest office of the land.

Most troubling is the now well documented reports of abuse of official power in attempting to have fired her former brother-in-law from his job as a state trooper, allegedly due to his bitter divorce and custody battle with Palin's sister. This is a very serious matter, allegations of abuse of official power by the chief executive and law enforcement officer whether it is by a governor or a president. The threat such abuses to power pose to a constitutional form of government are immense and well-known to those of us old enough to have lived through the Nixon Administration. There is currently underway an investigation of this matter which will hopefully be concluded sometime in October and before the November election.

On top of this very serious charge are the allegations reported in the Washington Post that Palin has repeatedly billed the State of Alaska for per diem expenses for days when she was not on the road but rather at home in the Governor's Mansion. Again, while stupid and dishonest as cheating on one's expense account is, it is the pattern of abuse of official power that should concern every voter. As a criminal defense lawyer, I have had clients who have gone to jail for felony theft that cheated on their employer's expense account.

Sadly, there are also the plethora of allegations from multiple sources starting to emerge concerning two of her children's rampant drug abuse, resulting in a son having to join the military or face the possibility of criminal charges for possession and/or abuse of oxycontin, cocaine and/or marijuana . A daughter is also widely reported to be a drug abuser and when her mother, Gov. Palin, learned of the news of her underage daughter's out of wedlock pregnancy, Sarah Palin threw her daughter out of the house. Hardly the official version portrayed to the faithful at the RNC.

Finally, hopefully, are the tragic stories starting to be reported of Mrs. Palin's extra-marital affair(s). Although I personally am a firm believer that one's personal life and family are out of bounds when it comes to politics, the Republicans cannot have it both ways. The Republicans pride themselves on being the party with moral principles. It was the Republicans that injected, with corrosive effects, the notion of religion and personal morality into this country's political culture. Now, like it or not, the chickens, or more correctly, caribou have come home to roost.

Friday, September 5, 2008

RNC Week In Review: Infiltration, Searches & Seizures, Crowd Control & Bill Starr

Sometime, probably a few months or so, after it was announced that St. Paul Minnesota won the bidding to host the 2008 Republican National Convention, the money and federal agency representatives started flowing into town.

One of the first things that was recommended was for local law enforcement not to be complacent or reactive. "You must be proactive..." I can just hear the feds saying to the local "Uh-huh and Yup Yup" boys and tailwaggers who make up the higher echelon of local law enforcement these days. It seems like everybody has been jealous since former thumper and king of racist language*, Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Stanek had his week in the sun following the MN Dot Tragedy (aka bridge collapse). (*Gov. Pawlenty had to withdraw his name as candidate to head the Minnesota Department of Public Safety after aspects of his personnel history came to light including questionable aggressive conduct and racial epitaphs used, some of which was documented at a deposition).

No by God, this event had to go off without a hitch. If that means trampling a few lines of writing on an old piece of paper, so be it. Never mind that those lines of writing are also known as the Amendments to the Constitution or "Bill or Rights", our guarantees of individual freedoms which are the hallmarks of our form of government and what makes us uniquely American.

As a criminal defense lawyer for over twenty years, I have become almost numb and almost come to expect the litany of lies and distortions found in too many applications for search warrants and investigation reports. The key word is almost because the day it stops bothering me is the day I have become a "law and order", (I don't mean Fred "indigestion-buurrpp"-Thompson, Republican).

So it comes to me as no surprise that local deputies of various local county sheriff departments infiltrated many political organizations, some justified, most not. The key issue is not whether some organization considers itself merely a political organization but rather does the organization have a history of illegal activity and is there credible, non-manufactured or non-government agent advocacy of illegal activity currently which would justify a local judge or magistrate to issue search warrants. The answer based on all the evidence I have seen so far is possibly yes, it may have been justified in the case of the anarchist organization the "RNC Welcome Committee" so long as it does not come out that it was the undercover government agents causing the agitation and encouragement to collect the urine, make the smoke bombs and twist the nails to flatten car and bus tires.

However, it appears at this time, based upon all available information, that police and sheriff department raids of independent filmmakers, journalists and documentarians such as the Eyewitness Video group from New York was completely and totally unjustified. The fact that the fingerprints of head of the the local "Uh-huh and Yup Yup" boys and tailwaggers, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, are all over illegal law enforcement conduct comes as no surprise to me. I remember then St. Paul City Council member and young Lieutenant Bob Fletcher of the St. Paul Police Department. It was the early 1980's and I was working a stint at the St. Paul Mayor's Complaint Office. Bob Fletcher was an apologist for police misbehavior and misconduct back then and therefore it is no surprise that he would be engaged in this kind of behavior now.

The person I am really disappointed in however, is Mayor Chris Coleman, who I greatly admire and like. Unfortunately, in this one instance I think Ramsey County and it's Sheriff got around the better judgment of the City of St. Paul, it's mayor and usually competent Chief Harrington.

The anecdotal evidence that brought it all home to me was when I read that my friend and mentor, St. Louis Park Attorney William "Bill" Starr got caught up in the collateral arrests along with reports of an elderly nun arrested.

Shame on local law enforcement for not rising above the extremely low bar it set for itself.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

P.O.W. Status, Bad Judjment, Quick Temper and Inexperience Do Not A President Make & Wishin' It Don't Make It So

God bless John McCain for his military service and misfortune for being a prisoner of war. But prisoner status should never be confused with job qualifications or there would be approximately 50% of all African American males between the ages of 18 and 35 qualified to be President of the United States and I just can't see the Alabama and South Carolina delegations to the Republican National Convention conceding this point.

Next is the huge question of sound judgment. Seriously, in your heart of hearts, does this country really need four more years of the quick tempered, ego-driven, knee-jerk judgment of the Bush foreign policy? The cold facts are that McCain followed the Bush policies, foreign and domestic, well over 90% of the time. On every big issue, whether it was going to war, caving in to big pharma, big oil and defense contractors, John McCain was walking hand in hand with President Bush like he was some kind of Saudi Sultan.

David Brooks, the New York Times shill for the Republican Lite brand has worn this analogy out, (but I repeat it here for all the RE-PUB-LI-CANS out there who ever since the Reagan years think that if you repeat a lie over and over and over again it becomes reality, like supply side works, Democrats are the tax and spenders, Iraq had something to do with 911, they hate us for our freedom, etc...)there are those who captain and steer the aircraft carrier and those who take off from it. McCain is definitely a fly boy and not a cool and collected captain. This country, with all the serious and complicated problems left behind for it by the departing administration, like a teenager leaves dirty clothes and wet towels on the bathroom floor, really needs someone to pick-up the dirty clothes and do the washing not just walk over it on their way out the door or taking off from the deck.

We have a big f---ing mess on our hands people, if anyone who has bothered to turn off American Idol, Big Bother or Duncing with the Starrs would know. Now I will try real hard not to cast dispersions here, but if you really believe that a woman who supported and encouraged the corrupt congressional delegation led by the likes of Terrible Ted Stevens, who were head and shoulders the biggest recipients of pork barrel per capita and now claims to be the one to clean up Washington and "drain the swamp" you really have to be stupid or perhaps related to a pitbull with lipstick aka third rate sportscaster with big hair.

Our way out of the desert both literally and figuratively will not be lead by apostates prone to vicious ad hominem attacks and appeals to base instincts, but rather, it will come from the calm studying of the facts surrounding our problems, including the historical roots which lead up to them. A truly wise leader will then have a robust and intellectual discussion of the issues with qualified and respected advisers, scholars, leaders and allies, of all viewpoints, and then and only then will he or she make sound policy and decisions.

The record (e,g, someone who is prone to abuse of official power, such as trying to fire one's former brother-in-law) clearly calls into question the person's fitness to hold the highest office in the land and be the chief law enforcer where the temptation to cut corners and rationalize illegal conduct will be immense while in office.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Sell the House, Sell the Car, Sell the Kids...I've Gone Native @ the RNC!"

Much like Marlon Brando's character, Colonel Kurtz, in "Apocalypse Now" I have finally snapped and am now hiding away in our own little local version of Cambodian Hell formerly known as Pigs Eye and now called St. Paul, as the adopted leader and Shaman of a local tribe, the Republicans.

This is a very odd tribe, these RE-PUB-LI-CANS. I mean, it's not so much their peculiar habits of dress, a uniform consisting of blue blazers for men, dress suits for the not so lil' women and big ugly hats for all. Talk about a city full of big hats and no cattle!!! But rather, it is more their peculiar manner of communication that really makes you have to wonder.

These Republicans do not seem too big on details, or the written word for that matter, as they appear to be a more primitive people; more comfortable expressing themselves, much like their not so ancient ancestors, the cromagnums and neocons, through picture glyphs, photographs and drawings, rather than through reasoned, rational and thoughtful speech or writings.

Circling the block of downtown St. Paul Wednesday late afternoon where my older brother, sister and I were having an early dinner in a restaurant, were a caravan of panel trucks with their sides turned into huge rolling billboards of crystal clear blown up images of decapitated and disemboweled, weeks old aborted fetuses. Talk about family values for 4:30 PM on the streets of a formally peaceful and respectful mid-sized Midwestern city! These heroes are true Christians, just ask them, they are more than happy to tell you thru their blaring bull horn and huge banner screaming "You Sinners Are Going to Hell" or other Christian-like sentiment.

Following our dinner, we strolled across the street to Rice Park where MSNBC had their stage and live outdoor studio set up. Clarance Page, Lawrence O'Donnell's replacement on the McGlauglin Group following his Mormon meltdown, walked by, Casper Milktoast in the flesh. The celebrity political newsreader Rachel Meadows was on stage along with the rest of the hot-air polluters. Just give me the freebies so I can get the hell out of here....

After collecting anthropological proof of this tribe's existence, we headed out of the tribes village, right past the preacher with the bullhorn. I was walking next to my older brother, a conservative appearing, corporate legal type and steered him right in front of the bullhorned preacher man and planted a kiss on him, much to his great surprise and the the preacher's chagrin, as he had earlier been railing on the "gays and homosexuals"!

As the Pink stickers on the progressives read: "Make Out, Not War!" But take this one person's humble advice: Not with your brother!! Yechh!! Sppittt!!!!