December 31, 2010 § 1 Comment
For all you folks lamenting excessive seasonal snowfall while drinking hot chocolate in your McMansions, check out what we got at Fort Leonard Wood.
H/T to Capt. Spaulding’s World for posting the pic.
Also, feel free to check out this pic of a guy who’s been watching way too much Discovery Channel. Seriously, dude, the iPhone is great and all, but it ain’t going to protect you from tornado-force winds.
FYI, I wasn’t anywhere near Fort Leonard Wood at the time of the tornado, and reports indicate nobody was hurt.
I don’t believe in Global Warming anymore. Now, I believe in Global Fucking Insanity.
UPDATE: And suddenly it dawns on me that my 5th Wheel (a camping trailer) is parked in a lot near the tornado’s path.
UPDATE 2: Here’s a video of some damage at the Fort Leonard Wood Museum. My poor rig is located just over the hill. On a positive note, a lesson I’ve learned from watching the video is that, if a tornado is approaching, you should jump into the nearest tank.
December 30, 2010 Comments Off
Tucker Carlson’s misguided comments on national television reverberated a bit across the tubes as of late. In case you didn’t see it, here’s the video (H/T to Chuck Newton):
Execution for dogfighting? I suppose that may be popular in Suffolk County, NY, but I hesitate to think most decent folks would agree.
Why are harsh punishments so popular? Has there yet been a DA candidate who doesn’t run on a platform of “getting tougher on crime.” When candidates for any political office receive questions about crime and criminal justice, they all respond with some flavor of tightening the corset of justice just a bit more. It doesn’t matter the candidate. I guarantee that, if you asked a prospective candidate for Register of Deeds about criminal justice, he’d tell you that his goal is to use his position to make the county get tough on crime.
Have you ever heard of a candidate saying “I think we should take a close look at our criminal statutes and sentencing guidelines to ensure that people are punished appropriately, and not too harshly?” Never. A statement like that gets you the support of the CDL bar, a few civil libertarians and criminologists, and nobody else.
In my lifetime, statutory guidance on sentences (especially minimums) have skyrocketed. We hear about 3 strikes, 2 strikes, criminal recidivism, and the ever-specific-term “evil.”
What is to blame for the creep in harsh sentences? Why do some feel the need to institute the death penalty for intentionally killing a few pit bulls? I’ve got an answer. Movies did it.
December 28, 2010 Comments Off
But, what about the victim?
I hear the question all the time when I represent a service member who is charged/convicted of misconduct that involves a human object of the crime. It arises in typical fashion after I advocate particularly hard on some issue involving my client. I must remind the asker that my duty is to represent the interests of my client, and that a multitude of others are charged with holding the tissue box of the (alleged) victim. These others include prosecutors, paralegals, investigators, special agents, and victim advocates. The latter, in particular, are responsible for handling all needs and wants of the alleged victim. Why do they insist upon asking why I’m not chipping-in my support? I have great confidence in the caring abilities of the prosecutorial/victim advocate team.
Perhaps my confidence is misguided or misplaced.
December 24, 2010 Comments Off
This was certainly illuminating for me. My parents obviously neglected to inform me of the full meaning of Christmas.
I hope few are swayed by this. After all, the whole protection against crime thing could mean unemployment for me.
H/T to PZ Myers at Pharyngula
December 24, 2010 Comments Off
Originally published as a comment to a post at My Law License.
Christmas arrived once more, and the old curmudgeon at Simple Justice sat hunched over his keyboard. It was an old keyboard, once white, now stained a light, tannish brown. Some keys were missing, but he didn’t care. He’d never need to use “PrintScr” again. Not with his latest version of DOS. The large, yellowed computer box sat under his desk, streaked with shoe polish from being kicked on particularly trying days. The words, UNIVAC displayed faintly on its face next to the 5 1/4 inch floppy drive.
The faint light from the green, monochrome screen made his face look ruddy, but he didn’t care. He was alone. Just he and his blawg.
Tonight, he wouldn’t be disturbed. His phone, with its crystalish, rotary dial never rang at this time of night, and the cell phone, mandated by his wife, sat silent, turned off. The words JITTERBUG glowed lightly in bold cursive. AARP said it was the best phone. By god, if AARP says it’s good, then it must be damn good.
He tried to play nicely with others. He really did. He even opened a contest for the best blawg post, but that brought him nothing but despair. Some guy named Jamison shat upon the page with dozens of submissions, tearing a hole in the bandwidth. One of the posts, he suspected, was from ESPN, and not a blawg at all.
Tonight was the night when everyone across the blawgosphere would get their new toys. There were touch things. There were internet things. There were books in computers. There was legal research that looked like Google. There were Judges who, starting tonight, would start accepting motions filed over email. There were gadgets and gizmos. Some with apples, and some with other, glowing displays. To him, they were all fruity. The bile welled-up in his throat.
“Merry F-ing Christmas” he thought to himself as he prodded the yellowed keys. He’d be done in a few minutes with this post. Free again, for awhile.
Then, he’d do what he always did at this festive time of year while everyone else dreamed of gifts with lithium-ion batteries. He’d replace the pocket parts on all of his federal reporters. In these days of electronic unhappiness, it was the one thing that gave him sheer glee, if only for a while.
December 23, 2010 Comments Off
December 20, 2010 § 1 Comment
You know, I thought about what to give folks this holiday season, and I figured I’d give the gift of libertarian principles, gratuitous nudity, and lots of F-bombs.
That’s right. It’s the Criminal Justice episode of “Bullshit,” the Showtime series hosted by Penn and Teller. Enjoy (but make sure the kids are asleep).
And Part 2
This post will remain linked to the YouTube videos until and unless they are removed from that site.
December 20, 2010 § 3 Comments
H/T to Scott (the military Scott, not the Greenfield Scott) for bringing this article to my attention.
The NY Times published a story about 17-year-old Preston Hill, a high school wrestler from Fresno, CA. Soon, he faces a criminal trial. The charges: sexually assaulting a fellow high-schooler and wrestling teammate. Sexual assault is serious stuff. He must have done something really bad.
At 17 years old, Preston Hill is known around the Fresno area as an accomplished wrestler, a leader of his high school team, the Buchanan Bears, and a potential candidate for a college scholarship in the sport he loves.
But over the past several months, Preston has been battling another opponent, the Fresno County district attorney, who has charged him with a bizarre crime: using a wrestling move to sexually assault a teammate.
According to a police report, during a July practice Preston used a maneuver informally known as a “butt drag” — which involves grabbing the haunch of an opponent to gain leverage — to roughly and intimately assault a smaller, younger wrestler on his team in retaliation for a supposed affront.
Preston has denied attacking the younger boy, who is 14, telling the investigating officer that he was merely executing a common maneuver that “everyone does,” in order to “to motivate people who don’t move on the mats.”
“Hill replied that this was a wrestling move,” according to the police report.
Hmmm. Not quite the back-alley, broomstick antics I expected.
If you are like me, you are probably wondering about a “butt drag.” The following video explains it a bit (starting at .30).
So, is this an extension of the bully mania sweeping the nation? The complaining witness seems to think so.
December 18, 2010 § 1 Comment
December 17, 2010 § 1 Comment
Earlier in life I thought of lawyers as critical thinkers and folks who can separate the wheat from the chaff. However, as I continue in this profession, that perception continues to be severely eroded.
What makes me think of this? In two words: hero worship. I always thought of hero worship as something that developed in childhood and abated in early adulthood. I’m wrong, repeatedly and systematically.
Today, Scott Greenfield analyzes Gerry Spence’s blog, and I found it interesting since I rarely see criticism (or at least semi-critical commentary) of Gerry. He is a living legend, with a cult following that rivals crowds waiting to see “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” According to some, he has never lost a case (please do not get me started on this again). To some, he achieves god status. For this reason, please do not stand too close to Scott for the next day or so–especially if dark clouds are in the sky.
Over an extended period, Spence has offered posts that simultaneously paint him as the poor, despised, undeserving outsider, while embracing his victimhood as the catapult to his making him the advocate for the downtrodden that he is today.
“So, poor me, I was rejected as a kid when I wanted so desperately to belong to a fraternity. I was rejected from the legal fraternity when I failed the bar. How about when I ran for Congress, and after that, when I tried to get a job as a law professor, and later, when I wanted to become a judge and was rejected for both of these positions by the structure in power?”
“I have never thought about this in this way before – but all of these were, in fact, clubs: the fraternity, a club to be sure, the congressional and academic brotherhoods, and the political club that governs the judiciary. You did not belong to the club, Mr. Spence. You were an outsider. You were not to be trusted, because you did not belong and we will not have you.”
I almost cried as I read this, until I remembered that he’s got an awfully nice ranch in Wyoming for someone who has suffered so. It might have had something to do with the number of shoes that poor, downtrodden Imelda Marcos had in her closet. I bet Geoffrey Fieger didn’t have as many shoes.
December 17, 2010 § 2 Comments
Whether you are celebrating a certain holiday this season because your parents and community told you to do so, or you are making a freethinking personal choice, we hope you have a good one.
December 16, 2010 Comments Off
Since I’ve been on the subject of junk science, charlatans, and snake-oil lately. I became privy to an article talking about “Battlefield Acupuncture” (quoted from Defense.gov).
J.D. Nichols, a retired Navy flight officer and cryptologist, limped into the Air Force Acupuncture Center at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland early yesterday morning, leaning heavily on a cane.
A couple of hours later, moving easily without the cane and with the ends of tiny gold needles glittering in both ears, he waved goodbye to the military doctors who had reduced his pain using a technique called battlefield acupuncture.
The doctors, from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, were part of a workshop on the technique developed by Dr. Richard Niemtzow, a retired Air Force colonel who practiced medicine as a radiation oncologist before he studied acupuncture in 1994.
Nichols was one of four patients who volunteered for treatment at the 779th Medical Group’s acupuncture clinic, where Niemtzow and Dr. Stephen Burns, a retired Air Force colonel and full-time Air Force acupuncturist, train military doctors and treat patients.
“I walked yesterday and I barely made it home with the cane. That’s how much pain there was,” Nichols told the doctors after his treatment. “Now I’m walking without pain, as though I didn’t have the problem.”
As if military medicine wasn’t already the laughingstock of the medical community, this elevates them to cult status.
What is next? Reflexology? Firewalking? Alien probes used for their healing effect? Magnets? Snail-ooze treatments? Tantra?
December 15, 2010 Comments Off
With the recent conviction in the Lakin Court-Martial, I turn my thoughts to conspiracy theories.
It’s no secret that I follow Michael Shermer and his movement to inject logic and critical thinking into human culture. Dr. Shermer is the founder of “Skeptic” magazine and a frequent speaker on critical thinking, skeptical inquiry, and the scientific method.
Almost everywhere he goes, Dr. Shermer is confronted by conspiracy theorists, theologians, junk science whacks, pseudoscience whacks, and just plain whacks. As a result, he developed various coping mechanisms over the years for maintaining his sanity in the face of idiocy.
We face similar trials as Criminal Defense Attorneys. Many clients, in explaining their facts to me, pontificate that “the Army is out to get me.” I try to respond with logic. “OK, lets think about this, kiddo. If we include reserve and National Guard personnel, you are roughly 1/1,000,000th of the Army. Currently, you are a Private, and you haven’t yet finished basic training. Do you really believe that a bunch of Generals and Sergeants Major are conspiring to ensure that you fail in your entry-level schooling?” They look at me with blank stares for a few seconds. Then, they invariably reply “Sir, I just know what I know.”
Of course they do.
December 14, 2010 § 1 Comment
The ACLU is cracking-down on the government’s failure to provide them with complete information regarding sexual assault statistics in the military.
To support their demands, assertions, theories, and postulates, they provide some damning statistics. Let’s look at a few.
About 80 percent of unwanted or threatening sexual acts are not reported, according to the lawsuit. Victims who report abuse to their superiors often face social isolation, retribution and counteraccusations, the lawsuit says.
Hmmm, where to begin? So, 80% are not reported. If they are not reported, how do we know they exist? Further, how can we confirm that there was actually an unwanted or threatening sexual act? What is the confirmation process for this?
December 14, 2010 Comments Off
Hollywood A-listers including Clint Eastwood joined grizzled U.S. military veterans Monday to promote what they called the near-miraculous powers of meditation in overcoming war stress.
The event in New York drew an unlikely alliance ranging from fashion designer Donna Karan to traumatized veterans of World War II, Vietnam and Iraq.
Uniting them was a belief that transcendental meditation, dubbed TM for short, is the cheapest, most effective and medication-free way of healing people who have suffered severe stress in war and any other extreme experience.
Hey, great, they are getting together and raising money to teach PTSD sufferers to sit quietly and think about calming stuff. Since my wallet is feeling a couple of pounds too heavy, where do I sign-up? After all, I have a soft spot in my heart for PTSD sufferers, what with friends and family who have been diagnosed with the disorder.
Wait, wait, wait. I’m back to my senses. I’m the guy who subscribes to the Michael Shermer and Skeptic Magazine RSS feeds. TM is pseudoscience. Nothing more.
Do PTSD sufferers need to know how to take a break, eliminate stress, and relax for periods of time? Absolutely. Can this skill be taught by Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Nurse Practitioners, and Counselors already on the government payroll? Of course it can, and it is. In fact, these folks are doing a great job in making themselves and their programs available. I know. I’ve researched these resources for numerous cases and presented evidence of the programs to support my PTSD-suffering clients facing court-martial. I met some of the multidisciplinary and licensed professionals who develop and constantly improve these programs. They are fantastic, based on logical principles, and they work. The only thing they cannot directly treat is public and command awareness of PTSD, but the level of understanding and compassion is now higher than ever.
December 11, 2010 Comments Off
I’m on a bit of a video binge as of late, but, with all the hubbub about terrorism, TSA feelie feels, and porno X-rays, this was particularly poignant.
Bear in mind that George taped this in 1999.
Remember, folks, bullshit is bullshit, no matter the year. (that sounds like a line from Dr. Seuss, no?)
I miss George, but I find comfort knowing that he’s down there, screaming up at us.