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).