Tuesday, August 09, 2016

We Must Be Friends

"We must be friends, not enemies."
                                             Abraham Lincoln-First Inaugural Address

"Hillary wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment.  By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks.  Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don't know."
                                              Donald J. Trump


It was my privilege to teach high school American history for a brief period of time.  When I was dropped in there, we explored the run-up to the Civil War.  I told the kids about how Lincoln was desperately trying to get the Union to hang together   And about how the Southern states left as soon as Lincoln took his hand off of the Bible. And off we went to the Civil War.  

"We must be friends, not enemies."

Honest to God I was as neutral as Switzerland with my classes.  I turned the liberal kids around as much as the conservative kids.  And I was in my happy place when I walked through the room putting hands on shoulders as I moderated and told yellers to shut up. 

God.  What fun.

But I have been around for some 60 years.  

And I have never seen once in my lifetime a major Presidential candidate insinuate that violence is the appropriate response to the outcome of an election.  And that's what Trump is suggesting.  Although I don't think he believes any of this.  Really. I don't. But his nutbar constituency  does. 

Good thing I'm not teaching anymore I guess.  I am an American.  I love my country. 

I would have to tell the kids what I think.  And why.  

Just as well.  




























Sunday, August 07, 2016

My Sunday Feeling



42 U.S.Code Section 1983 states in material part (as they say) that "Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory, of the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States...to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law..."

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America gives us freedom of the press, to petition the government for redress of grievances and freedom of speech.  These are basic bedrock freedoms we enjoy as Americans and they are given the highest level of protection.

Except in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.

The image of the small town law enforcement officer as some bumbling Barney Fife type has slowly been eroded over the years.  However, recent actions by the High Sheriff of Terrebonne Parish, a man by the name of Jerry Larpenter, have done much to revive that old unfortunate stereotype.

Carpenter got high pissed at a muckraking blog out of the Parish seat of Houma called Exposedat that aimed political corruption stories at Larpenter and some of his business associates along with other Parish political figures.  You can find it here at http://exposedat.in/wp . So, he ginned up a phony baloney criminal case of criminal defamation (I didn't even know such crimes were still on the books) of the PARISH'S INSURANCE AGENT against a local man he suspected of running the blog, obtained search warrants THAT A JUDGE ACTUALLY SIGNED OFF ON, and sent deputies out to the suspect's house to execute the warrants.

This being Louisiana and all, it should be noted at this juncture that the target of the investigation is a Houma police officer who used to be a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Deputy and New Orleans cop.  Make of this as you will.  

The deputies sent to execute the warrants seized two laptops, one of which belonged to the target's daughter, and 5 cell phones.  

The reason for these, shall we say, robust law enforcement activities?  Let the High Sheriff explain it.

"If you're gonna lie about me and make it [sic]under a fictitious name, I'm gonna come after you."  

And with the full weight and authority of the police powers of the State of Louisiana he should have added.  The language quoted above?  I predict that Mr. Larpenter, who may not be the brightest guy to ever put on a badge but that's just me, will come to rue dearly that he said that.

Because guess what?  Mr. Larpenter and Terrebonne Parish just bought themselves a 1983 suit, the pertinent language of which is cited above.  This is not even how you go about investigating crimes involving computers or other communication devices in the usual case.  9 times out of ten the cops issue an investigative subpoena against the Internet or cell phone providers.  They have the data.  But maybe computer records were not all the Sheriff was looking for.

That's how bad this is.  Mr. Larpenter used the power of the state to seize the target's property with the evident intent of silencing him in manifest violation of his First Amendment rights.  At least that's how it looks to me.

Had Mr. Larpenter had the foresight to consult me, or someone reasonably competent even, I would have advised him that the Federal Courts take an exceedingly dim view of attempts by governmental entities to criminalize political speech.  In any event I hope he likes New Orleans.  Because unfortunately for him, he and his big mouth are likely destined to spend time in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana defending any of a number of actions either brought by the target or the United States for violating the target's civil rights.  

What about the Judge you may ask? 1983 carves out an exception for judicial acts.  And it is a good thing he's immune.  Because, according to one of my little lawyer friends down there, the target got a hearing for the purpose of getting the warrants rescinded and at the conclusion the Judge wouldn't do it.

A common misconception held by young students, and Sarah Palin come to think of it, is that private entities can violate your First Amendment rights.  For the most part this is not true.  If I write a letter to the editor complaining about my boss at the lumber yard, and he fires me, that doesn't violate the First Amendment.  No.  Your rights of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment are implicated only if the government kicks your door down and confiscates your printing press.

Kinda like what went down in Houma the other day.  

Just when you think it can't happen in this country, it happens.  

Just a little something else to think about on Election Day.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Sunday Feeling


That didn't take long did it?  

Yesterday former KKK leader David Duke crawled out from under a rock somewhere in St. Tammany Parish to announce that he was running for the  Senate seat vacated by the equally loathsome David Vitter down there in the Pelican State.  In his remarks to the press after filing he stated that he was running "because the climate in this country has moved in [his] direction."  The nomination of Donald Trump as the standard bearer of what was formerly referred to with a straight face as the "Party of Lincoln"was all the proof he said he needed of this.  

I've written about Duke before.  Back when I was at Tulane, Duke owned and operated a bookstore in Metarie which specialized in white supremacist literature in Metro.  I seem to recall that he and some other "boys in the hood" came on campus for a demonstration which didn't amount to anything.  Tulane, being a private school, did not have-shall we say?-the constitutional duty to let Duke exercise his First Amendment rights on its campus.  Also, rumor had it back in those days that he was an informer for the FBI.  

So actually, there's nothing you could tell me about Mr. Duke that I wouldn't believe.  I think he's a stone con artist who may or may not believe the stuff he puts out.  But don't take my word for it.  

Because David Duke is a felon.  He did time as a guest of the Feds after pleading guilty to mail fraud and filing a false income tax return in 2002.  During 1993 to 1999, he convinced his weak-minded followers who weren't otherwise tapped out from giving to televangelists that he was broke and about to lose his home.  

This, of course, was not true.  

Indeed he had sold his home for a profit.  So what did he use the money for?  Gambling at casinos for the most part.  Really. And now he has the gall to run for the United States Senate.  

Then again, this is Louisiana and he is running to replace a scumbag like Vitter.  

Anyway, you would think that disavowing the candidacy of a racist criminal like David Duke would be the easiest thing in the world.  Indeed, it is for this reason that the Louisiana GOP and the Republican National Convention swiftly did just that.  I'm writing this at 5:30 CDT Saturday evening.  I checked before sitting down at the laptop and as of this writing we haven't heard "boo" out of the Trump campaign on this issue.

I mean, what is so hard here? Is it easier to refer to Hillary Clinton as "crooked?" How so?  David Duke DID TIME FOR SWINDLING HIS CONSTITUENTS OUT OF MONEY.  "Hillary as crook" may be a meme that resonates to those in the GOP that require red meat in their diets.  Duke's criminality, along with his racism, real or showbiz, are a matter of public record. 

So what's so hard Donald?  Maybe sometime tonight I will read that you indeed joined the GOP establishment (for once) and that you have denounced David Duke's candidacy.  Good for you.  What took you so long?

To me, that's the issue.  Duke does not have a snowball's chance in Hell of pulling this off.  He's been running for statewide elections and losing down there for as long as I can remember.  

Nope. To me the issue is what's taking Trump so long to denounce David Duke and his assertion that the advent of Donald Trump as presidential timber proves that the country has moved in Mr. Duke's direction?

How is this hard?

I mean really?





Sunday, July 10, 2016

My Sunday Feeling



Sometimes words are inadequate.  Or at least they are in the hands of someone as unskilled as me.  

What a terrible week for institutional America.  Or what is left of it.  

I'm just kind of numb.  

M said that she just wants to gather her family in and protect it.  She graciously includes me in that number.  But we both know she can't do that.  We know we have to go out into the world.  

But what a world.  

The Presidential election has already worn me out.  And it is not yet August.  The presumptive nominee of the Republican party is a xenophobic narcissist par excellence who consorted with mob types in his real estate career.  He is easily the least qualified candidate for the Presidency since-I dunno-I'm thinking-I dunno.  Hellfire.  Even Aaron Burr had qualifications. And now what the R's refer to still with a straight face as the "Party of Lincoln" even as their presumptive standard bearer is the second coming of IL Duce.  

On the other side of the coin, Hillary and her omnipresent shadow Bill, can't keep from shooting themselves in the feet when they could be coasting to the finish line.  My original plan a couple of days ago was to give a lawyerly explanation of why there was no criminal case against Hillary.  As in nada.  Zero.  Not from the criminal side.  Not from the Constitutional side.  Complete probable loser from the prosecution trial prep side of it.  

But that would have resulted in the usual Facebook explosion.  And I don't care enough about somebody who can't seem to stay out of her own way at times to waste time defending her.  Not that I would be defending her.  I would just be explaining things.

But then again, facts don't matter.  


Really.  Facts don't matter.  Not in a world where some folks consider it unfairly divisive to consider that a disproportionate number of black folks seem to get whacked during routine traffic stops.  Not when a Trump billboard around Morgan says that "The Only Reason That Hillary Isn't In Prison Is Because She Is A Female Democrat."  

Really?  That's what politics have dumbed down to?  

And then in Dallas cops, providing security for a peaceful march protesting the aforementioned, get gunned down by an African-American Army vet trained in the use of a tactical weapon who wanted to kill white cops.  Parse that sentence if you will. Oh. And get this.  There just happened to be an African-American guy wearing camo in the vicinity who was openly and legally carrying an AR-15.    Which in Texas you can do.  Talk about timing.  He immediately became a suspect.  As the kids say, "Yeah, right?"

Yeah, no.  This idiot, who is lucky that he wasn't blown into next January, is talking about suing for defamation.  Of course he is.  Is this a great country or what?

The police eventually sent a robot armed with a bomb to explode in the area in a parking garage in which the shooter had barricaded himself.  

Predictably, there was stuff on FB about how this was excessive force.

Like hell it was.  The line between law enforcement and war got really thin at that point.  I'm good with the resolution.  Then again I'm a law enforcement person.  I'm also widely considered to be what passes for a "liberal." I see no contradiction. Why is everything a zero-sum game?

I'll tell you why.  Because you don't have to think when you reduce the world to black and white. 

M is a woman who in the words of a friend upon meeting her said she "radiates peace." M's immediate reaction to all of this madness is to express a desire to, as I said, gather us all unto herself.  

But she is a Deacon in the One True Universal and Apostolic United Methodist Church. She knows the world must be confronted.  Me too.  We just confront it in different ways.  

But for now, with all of this sadness.  With all of this lunacy on the Internet passing for journalism.  With all these experts in the criminal law popping off on Facebook. 

I'm just numb.  

So I'm good with M pulling me and her kids within the arc of her long arms.  

I'm lucky.  It passes for safe.  It will do for awhile.  



























Sunday, June 26, 2016

My Sunday Feeling


The Washington Post referred to it as "economic insanity."  Stephen Marche of Esquire Magazine referred to it as "economic suicide."

The "it" referred to hereinabove is Great Britain's inexplicable decision rendered by its body politic to leave the European Union.  Well, the decision is explainable.  It's just not a very good explanation.  What it came down to is that the people that backed Britain leaving the EU, or "Brexit" to use the acronym, convinced a slim majority of British voters that a vote to exit was to cast off a meddlesome and officious foreign bureaucracy from the back of John Bull. It was also a referendum on the EU's liberal migration policies within the 28 nation bloc.  

Except there is this.  As Laurie Penny wrote in the New Statesman Friday morning, the vote was a not a referendum on the EU.  "It was a referendum on the modern world, and yesterday the frightened parochial lizard-brain of Britain voted out, out, out and today we've all woken up still strapped onto this ghost-train as it hurtles off the tracks."

The ghost train to which she refers is the one that left an economic bloc with a population of 508 million and a GDP of 17 trillion to go it alone.  The ghost train left in its wake-which, of course, assumes that trains leave wakes-a pound note that went through the floor almost immediately as prophesied by experts,more on that later, and has the Scots and Northern Ireland looking at ways to stay in.

God what a mess this could very well turn out to be.  

But I believe Ms. Penny is on to something.  The vote to exit the EU was a vote against the modern world with its emphasis on empiricism and expertise.  A world which is not exclusively white, male and straight.  

Predictably, as night followeth the day, Donald Trump, speaking in Scotland for God's sake, a Scotland that voted to stay in the EU, claimed that the vote was proof that "people want to take their country back" a none too subtle variant on his campaign promise to "Make America Great Again" a theme which resonates for a goodly number of voters here on this side of the pond.  Overwhelmingly older, less educated and white voters.  

So, in light of the stunning events in GB last week, the question not an inconsiderable number of folks are asking is whether a vulgarian like Trump can seize upon the momentum generated over there and get propelled into the Oval Office here?

Probably not.  It is because the Founding Fathers, particularly Alexander Hamilton, did not especially trust the electorate when it came to electing a President.  They feared that the masses could be manipulated by a future tyrant.  So the Electoral College got put into the Constitution.  And the states with the greatest number of electoral votes have not been in play for the Republicans for years.  It is hard to believe that this will change with a narcissistic xenophobe (Or one who panders to xenophobes at least. Who knows if Trump actually believe a third of this crap he's putting out?) at the top of the ticket.

Populist nationalist fervor can get issues like Brexit passed.  It is not enough-and least not in my lifetime-to get a President elected.

The vote on this year's Presidential race, like the vote on Brexit, will be a referendum on the modern world.  Will we look backward or forward? 

The Founding Fathers were always looking forward.  And we can thank them for ordaining a Constitution that protects us from ourselves.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Blows Against The Empire

I came back from the gym this morning to discover that my PC was running Windows 10.  This upgrade was completely unbidden by me.  

The only reason I still fool with the PC is because the government and the legal worlds have not yet migrated over to the Mac universe.  But I have Word for Mac. And the PC users can open my docs.  The folks at the paper that are in the world of Mac can't open stuff I send them from Pages.  

Go figure.

Anyway, I uninstalled Windows 10.  Microsoft asked me why.

"Because I was perfectly happy with Windows 7.  I didn't want this.  Didn't ask for it.  And you guys imposed this on me anyway.  What is wrong with you people?"

I'm not holding my breath waiting for a reply.  




Juggler!

This was at the Field Day at Holy Souls School last month.  This guy wasn't the only performer in the circus act that was there for the kids.  But these were the best pictures.   Or some of the best.








Sunday, June 12, 2016

My Sunday Feeling

As most folks that know me and/or follow this page have come to realize is that my relationship with the game of golf is problematic most of the time.  In Facebook relationship status terms," it's complicated." 

I have a trip coming up to Louisiana here pretty soon and the plan is to pretty much play golf for 3 or 4 days.  So you can imagine my abundant great joy at my last two outings being utter disasters.  As in barely getting the ball into the air.  As in looking like I had never touched a club in my life.  

People sometimes say that tennis is a lot like golf.  People who say that are idiots.  Tennis is nothing like golf.  

Even while enduring my worst ass kicking on the tennis court a spectator could deduce that I could play tennis at a certain level of skill and that maybe the other player was just too good that day or I was having an off day.  That would be about it.  

There are days on the golf course where it looks like I don't know which end of the club to grasp.  Last Sunday was one of those days.  This is not good seeing as how I have this trip coming up which is largely dedicated to playing the damn game.  So I contacted my friend Jerry to see if I could get a lesson in.

Jerry is an interesting guy.  Seventies.  First met him through his brother-in-law who is my Baptist preacher golf buddy.  Jerry also competes on the Senior long drive tour.  He knows a thing or two about striking the golf ball.  And he has a tendency to make things very simple.  Simple is what I need.  

"What have you done to yourself this time?" he said by way of greeting as I approached the lesson tee.  

I told him that, quite honestly, I was playing like radioactive dog shit.  He nodded.  Told me to step up and hit a few balls.  I was topping them and pulling them.  You know.  Radioactive dogs hit.

"You're delofting the club again," he said. "You've got that forward press going with your hands again."

He pulled a wedge out of my bag.  He held it up in front of me.  

"The Ping iron is a marvelous feat of engineering," he said. " It will do exactly what you make it do.  And you are making it hit worm burners."

Check ball position.  Pull hands to in front of right hip.  Start right shoulder going before the backswing.  

Bang!  Nothing to this game.

"Now we are gonna change how you set up.  What did you teach over there at Catholic?"

"Huh?"

"What did you teach?"

"History and choir mostly."

"Ah! An artist. Not a technician. Did you sit behind the desk when you taught?"

"Well no.  I walked around the room when I taught.  What's this got to do with golf?"

"This.  I've known you a couple of years now.  You can't stand still.  You walk around or rock back and forth while I talk."

"So?"

"So when a guy as fidgety as you spends a lot of time over the ball he starts fooling around with his grip and everything else.  You try to think the ball down field.  We're gonna change that. This is how you set up from here on out."

He took a club.  Walked over by me.  He started walking to the ball.  

"I'm looking at my target.  I'm not looking at the ball.  I stop at the ball.  I hold the club straight out to get my alignment.  I put the club on the ground and I aim the bottom part of the club at the target.  I take one more look downfield.  I hit it."

Bang.  He hit it.

"And I let it go. Whatever happens I let it go. I let the swing go.  I let the result go.  I let it go until the next shot. And I do it all over again."

Now this was pretty zen stuff for an older Baptist.  But I have to admit this approach made a lot of sense.  He's right.  A fidgety guy like me doesn't need to commune over the ball.  Bad things start happening when I have to time to think about it.  

Walk up and hit it.  And let it go.  

"This is supposed to be recreation right?" he said. "Go have fun with your buddy down there.  Eat a bunch of good food.  Call me when you get back and tell me about what all you did down there."

Let it go.

M doesn't always go clergy on me but she says there's a larger metaphor at work here as well.  I don't always go "touchy feely" on her but I think she's right.  

The game of golf can impart life lessons.

OK. Maybe that's not what M is getting at.   And I don't much believe that anyway.  

But I get Jerry's larger point.  And I'm gonna let it go.  

Maybe next I can cut down on my cussin' out there on the course.

Nah.  Some things aren't possible.