Friday, August 31, 2007

Political Science

Greetings, beloved! I am back from a little trip to Chicago where I had major fun. But more on that later.

While I was there, the news broke about United states Senator Larry Craig pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct stemming from an incident in the men's room of the Minneapolis airport in which he was accused of hitting on a vice cop in an adjacent stall. Naturally, Senator Craig, pictured here in his mug shot, with his American flag lapel pin and all, is a right-wing, gay-bashing, pro-family Republican. At least he was on the surface. Now he may fairly be considered to be a self-loathing, hypocritical closeted homosexual who attempted to engage in furtive anonymous sex with a complete stranger in a public place.
Craig says this is a complete misunderstanding and that he is not gay nor has he ever been gay. But c'mon. If he had nothing to hide or if he truly didn't have anything to hide why opt to plead guilty to a lesser offense just to make it go away?
This subject came up at dinner one night while I was in Chicago. My friends that I was staying with had invited their buddy Doug over so that I could meet him. I was warned in advance that Doug was "a real right-winger" but that he was a nice guy.
Which was true. I enjoyed my visit with Doug immensely. Presently, the dinner talk turned to politics. Doug must have been warned about me because he broached the subject of the Presidential race with an impish look on his face.
"So, who do you think will be our next President,hmmmmm?"
My mind had not been completely fogged by the wine yet so I decided to tread lightly. I told him that I thought it would be Hillary.
"I disagree," he said. "She's too angry."
"Why do you guys always view a woman with strong opinions as angry?" I asked. " Besides, she has a slew of money. And you have to concede that she never makes a mistake."
"I'll agree with you there."
"In any event," I said. " The next President will be a Democrat even if it's not Hillary. The economy is scary. The invasion of Iraq might be the biggest blunder in military history. The government's response to Katrina was unconscionable. And if all that wasn't enough, your firebrand social conservatives can't keep it in their pants. You guys are handing the election to the Democrats."
He took a sip of his wine. "I agree," he said. " You are absolutely right."
"I beg your pardon?"
"I agree. And it galls me to say so."
One of the few sensible conversations I have ever had with a Republican.

Stop The Presses!

A former teammate of Michael Vick's was asked by Sports Illustrated how he could have possibly gotten himself into such a predicament in the prime of his career.

"He's not that smart." was the response.

Friday, August 24, 2007

They Don't Make 'Em Like This Anymore

There was a time when eccentricity in basketball coaches was semi-normal. My eyes mist over as I recall Abe Lemons, Doug Moe, the McGuires, Al and Frank.

OK...the latter two were not related except their teams: Marquette and South Carolina routinely enjoyed bench clearing brawls. Those days are over. As well as the days of crazy guys getting NBA jobs.

Butch Van Breda Kolff was a piece of work. He was fired by the then New Orleans Jazz by the time I got down there. He coached UNO and did as good as someone could do with those guys. They were better than Tulane in any event.

He coached at Princeton, he played and coached in the NBA and he coached and taught history in a high school at Picayune, Mississippi.

You don't get these kind of characters nowadays.

Here is where you need to go if you have any interest in a good story.

Program note: I am off to Chicago to play golf in cooler climes and go to a Cubs game. Needless to say there will be nothing posted for awhile.

Talk amongst yourselves until I get back.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Think Marathoners Are Crazy?

Hit the link:

My Sunday Feeling

Rumor has it that Micheal Vick is going to make a deal with federal prosecutors in the criminal case against in him in which he is accused of fronting the money for dogfighting, crossing state lines to engage in a gambling operation (this one has really got the keen interest of the NFL) and the generic charges about crossing state lines to commit various and sundry felonies. As I have said in this space before, my friend Don made the observation, back in the day when he used to defend white collar criminals back in Alabama, that state lines were troublesome things. They sure as hell are. They confer federal jurisdiction upon your misdeeds.

According to ESPN Radio, Vick has until Monday to make a deal. Otherwise, the feds will bust him with a superceding indictment in which they will stack additional charges on him. Although I certainly don't know, my guess is that they have cooked up some financial crimes on him. Tax stuff. Structuring transactions to avoid detection of money laundering. After all, these morons did deal in lots of cash. You know, the kind of shit that the feds sometimes use as a threat in order to induce the defendant to concentrate the mind as my buddy PM might say.

ESPN Radio also says-remember those halcyon days of yesteryear when you listened to the radio to actually listen to a game or to catch the scores?- that Vick is considering going to trial. I can't believe that. If memory serves, according to the indictment they've got 3 CIs (confidential informants) that will testify against him, his co-defendants have copped pleas in exchange for ratting him out and God knows what the physical evidence is going to show. If a jury gets ahold of this he is toast. And now the State of Virginia has announced that they are going to charge him as well under the state's criminal statutes on dogfighting.

Guilty pleas are little morality plays. The most dramatic one I ever heard about happened years ago in the El Dorado Division of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. It was Division day in the Bankruptcy Court down there as well. All of the bankruptcy lawyers that practiced in that Division were there. The Bankruptcy Judge-I believe it was Judge Mixon- heard a few matters then called a 10 minute recess. He then reappeared in his suit coat and took a seat in the front row.

The bailiff came out and announced that the District Court was then in session and the late Orren Harris-Roarin' Orren as he was known back then-took the bench. Then the Marshals escorted in one of the Trustees that practiced there who then pleaded out to bankruptcy fraud before his peers and before the Bankruptcy Judge. Talk about sending a message.

Most of the ones I have seen are far less operatic in nature. The prosecutor reads the charge into the record. The court asks the Defendant if it is intention to plead guilty. The Court will also remind the parties that it is not bound by any Plea Agreement and that an upward departure or a lower departure from the sentencing guidelines (yeah, right) might be imposed at the sentencing hearing. The court will ask the Defendant if he is about himself; when was the last time he took a drink, is he on any meds that might impair his judgment at that moment, that sort of thing. A plea must be "knowing and voluntary." The requirement of "knowing" is not satisfied fulfilled if you got a buzz on in court. The court will ask the Defendant if he is pleased with the representation and advice given to him by his lawyer. This is to preclude a successful appeal based upon ineffective assistance of counsel.

Then comes the morality play. Or as I once heard Judge Hendren gently put it to a young man before him who had falsified a credit application to get new tires, " Tell me what you did, son." And so the Defendant will then explain what brought him to the courthouse that day. Note to MV: The Psalmist instructs us that God wilt not despise a broken and contrite heart. Neither wilt the Judge. This is a good place in the show to at least try to fake it. Oh. One other thing. When you are given the chance to speak before the sentence is imposed? That's another excellent opportunity. Your lawyers will remind you of this. Repeatedly.
But that's not the end of it. Guilt or innocence(so to speak) are not just moral concepts in this context. They have to be conclusions of law. So, if the Court is satisfied as to testimony of the Defendant, he will hear the following: "I will accept your plea of guilty and I hereby find you guilty." Congratulations. You are now a felon with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereto.

But I am getting ahead of myself. ESPN says Vick is weighing his options-if you want to call them that- and it is certainly his right to stand trial and to confront his accusers, which seem to have multiplied on a weekly basis.

My prosecutor buddy says that the last guy in gets the worst deal. Michael Vick is the last man in and the only man still standing. My best guess is that he is being strongly advised to get in and take his medicine and to not piss 'em off by being a smartass.

But who knows? Vick didn't get himself into this spot because he is the second coming of Wil Durant. And from what I can tell from my vantage point, he won't get out of it absent a miracle.

Program note: I was not able to do the usual blog alert that many of you actually like judging from the complaints I receive when I try to cease the practice. All of a sudden I can't send e-mail from Windows Vista. This is a bug that Microsoft hasn't come up with a patch for yet. The computer guy will come next week and hopefully fix the damn thing. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Prisoner's Lawsuit Of The Decade

Here is quite possibly the craziest lawsuit I have ever seen out of a pro se litigant. Pro se is Latin for "I'm nuts." Lest you think we engage in hyperbole upon occasion around here, I have been sued 3 times by complete and utter fools who were representing themselves. One of 'em got to the 8th Circuit and back before the US District Judge that wound up with the final incarnation of it finally put a bullet in the case once and for all. I don't know what your conception of hell might be but litigating against somebody who sues you in Federal Court while simultaneously denying that the Court has jurisdiction over him as a Christian Freeman is right up there for me.

Anyway, this is a lawsuit brought by a vexatious litigant and federal prisoner named Jonathan Lee Riches against Barry Bonds, Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig and-no lie- Henry Aaron's bat. I cannot possibly make this stuff up.

These nut litigants make much of coded language, capitalization and random inappropriate references to the law of secured transactions. Myself and about 3 other lawyers in the state actually understand all of this stuff. Maybe I'll explain it at a later date. Right now my hands won't stop shaking as all of these horrible memories of dealing with these idiots are rushing back.

Thanks to excellent bro Dave of the Ozarks for passing this along.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Some Straight Talk From The FBI

From yesterday's story in the Times-Picayune about a city councilman pleading guilty to a bribery charge:

"It's not unique to Louisiana. It's just brazen down here. Here in Louisiana, they skim the cream, they steal the milk, hijack the bottles and look for the cow. And it is brazen, the amount of activity down here where people think it's their right as soon as they assume office to steal from the people."

James Bernazzanni
Special Agent-in-Charge
FBI Field Office in New Orleans

Another Day Another Dollar

I ran into a buddy of mine who is a Deputy Federal Public Defender outside the courthouse this morning.

"What brings you here today?" I asked as we shook hands.

"Got to interview a guy that got caught with a machine gun that the government doesn't think he needs to have," he said.

" A machine gun?"

He just shrugged and rolled his eyes as he waved through the window at the Courtroom Security Officers to let them know he was there.

The door to the prisoner's entrance opened and a CSO waved him in.

"I'm sure he's got a perfectly reasonable explanation," I said to his back as he walked toward the courthouse.

"They always do," he said. "They always do."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Sunday Feeling

I recognized Mother as I approached the day room even though she had her back to me. Despite all of the physical debilitation attendant to her advanced years, her hair is still pretty much as red as it was when I was a boy. This is a source of much fascination to the staff there at St. Andrew's and the nurses always touch or stroke her hair when they talk to her. Maybe they do it for good luck.

Mother was having a pretty good day. She was "dialed in' as my brother the psych nurse likes to put it. You get what you get with Mom nowadays. Some days she is virtually incoherent. That day she was as on top of her game as she ever is.

After we had visited for awhile, she started looking rather anxious. She threw furtive sidelong glances around her to see if anyone was within earshot. She asked if we could move over to the other side of the room.

I wheeled her over by the patio and pulled up a chair. "What's up with you?" I said.

She tugged on her sweater. She put her hand over her mouth. Eventually she spoke.

" I need to ask you about the money," she whispered. " Do I have enough money?"

This was a sure sign she was dialed in. She never asks about her finances. She just leaves it all up to me and Ray the Magician, the financial planner who set her up years ago and has been performing the miraculous ever since.

" You certainly do," I said. "You have more than enough money and assets to last the rest of your life." Actually, the actuarial tables say she'll live until 92. I can't imagine that she will make that but Ray thinks he's got it covered in any event. As for me, I have a long term care policy. I don't want anybody white-knuckling over how they are going to take care of me in my golden years.

"How much money is that?" she asked. This is different.

" Well...." I said, looking to the ceiling, as if the numbers were superimposed up there. " You have about 2500 bucks coming in every month from your pensions. You are getting regular dividend checks in various amounts on a frequent basis. The investments Ray has made on her behalf are throwing off about nine grand a year in income for the Trust that pays all your bills. All in all, your total asset picture is in the low to medium six figures. You have enough money."

" Good. So I can move to Heber Springs."

"Goddamnit. Here we go again." I thought. It is during times like these that my usual poker face comes in handy. The less kind would call it a flat affect. Whatever. It has its uses.

One of the more heart-rending things that you notice in the nursing home is that the residents there pretty much all long for their old homes. I don't know if it is a longing for a geographical place as much as it is a former time when they were still young and strong. But it is palpable. Indeed, a lady wheeled herself over to me one day and asked me if I would take her home.

It breaks your heart.

This Heber thing started with Mom when Uncle Ralph, innocently enough, told her that they were building a new high dollar facility up there. Heber Springs is the county seat of Cleburne County, Arkansas where Mom and her family were all born and raised. Mother still speaks in almost operatic terms of her days on the farm, a feeling completely unshared by any of her brothers, who left the farm as soon as they could and who never had one good damn thing to say about it since my mind runneth not to the contrary. So now Mom has it in her head that she wants to go back to Heber since Cleburne County is from whence cometh her strength.

I made a note to myself. It said, "Kill Uncle Ralph."

"Living here is a real pain," she said. "Things would be better in Heber."

" Look," I said. " We are pleased with your care here. There's no guarantee that things would be better anywhere else."

" There's no guarantee that they wouldn't." I knew she was going to say that. This is a variation of the old "you don't know that it's not true" fallback position that was in her wheelhouse back in the day.

" Besides, you move to Heber and Bob can't come by everyday. I can't come as often if you moved. I just don't know about this."

" Well, I do. I'm going back to Heber."

She's not going anywhere and neither was this conversation. I kissed her goodbye and signed " I love you" to her. She likes it when I talk to her in sign language. Go figure.

" Don't worry," she said as I was leaving. " I'll call you before I move."

I was relieved. We were back to talking crazy.

The poker face was still on. "You be sure and get back to me on that one." I said.

I turned and walked out of the nursing home into the oppressive heat of a summer's day in Arkansas.

I was lucky and I knew it. I got to go home.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

When You See A Gent Paying All Kinds Of Rent For A Flat That Could Flatten The Taj Mahal....

Then he's doing it for some doll. Or because he/she has more money than sense.

3000 bucks a month rent for a space about the size of my house? The one I semi-own subject to the lien of the mortgage?


Hit the link:

Ever seen "Guys and Dolls?" Still hilarious.

So What?

My colleague in blogging, the irrepressible Floaty, asked a question last night that had been much on my mind after Barry Bonds broke the major league home run record.
"Shouldn't we all be happier?"
I would imagine that Bud Selig is doubly happy. This wearisome race finally ended and he didn't have to dignify this circus by his presence. Bonds is undoubtedly happy because now he will get to sit and rest up for the off season when he will most likely get traded to an American League team where he can play out the string as a designated hitter. At this stage of his career, he is about as mobile as a road grader. But Lord knows he can still get around on a fast ball.
And I am happy because now the Giants can go back to sucking in relative obscurity and I don't have to be annoyed by "cut-ins" whenever you-know-who is up to bat.
And I remember back in the 90s when baseballs were flying out of parks all over the place, there was a sense of joy and excitement about it all. I distinctly remember my brother and I hugging and cheering in the clubhouse at Burns park when Mark McGuire broke the single season record. Of course, that's before we knew the game was rigged.
Maybe we're not happy because only a complete naif still believes that Bonds was not assisted in his task by anabolic steroids. Perhaps we just don't like Bonds, who was a world class jerk in a sport full of them, who, if we are to believe the leaked grand jury testimony, turned to the juice because it pissed him off that all the attention was going to a white boy like McGuire. Maybe we're not happy because a closer examination of baseball's records reveal that the sanctity of many of them is in the eye of the beholder.
Maybe we aren't happy because we know this mark will get surpassed and the sooner the better. A-Rod just hit number 500. The pitching in the majors is not getting any better and they haven't pushed the walls of the ballparks out in the offseason. Indeed, I believe you will see somebody eclipse Barry Bonds's record-damn I hated typing that-before you see somebody win 300 games as the Mets' Tom Glavine did the other night.
And maybe we're not happy because as bad as this whole BALCO-steroids mess is, it pales in comparison to the Micheal Vick indictment and the allegations that an NBA official fixed games. Perhaps we are just numb to it all at this point. There is a stench associated with professional sports now. The FBI rarely plys its trade amongst the transcendent.
And so, my response is just that: "So what?" Barry broke the record. Now we can move on. Now he can get out of our face.
Not exactly transcendence but some good did come of all this, huh?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I have linked up to a piece by Christopher Hitchens on the assassination of a journalist in Oakland by a radical Muslim. This happened here in the good ole USA folks.

Now, these guys sound like they are as much criminals as anything. But they don't sound too different from the guys that blow up wedding parties and funeral processions in Baghdad.

As Hitchens says, this has to stop and it has to stop now. It may have been wrongheaded to view terrorism as a global law enforcement problem back in the day rather than a military problem.

But here on these shores it damn sure is.

It has to stop and it has to stop now.

Hit the link:

A Happy Man

This is my nephew Clarke last Saturday at Wrigley Field.
What can I say?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My Sunday Feeling

I've been struck down with my annual August sinus infection. Will be back soon.

Talk among yourselves...........

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Friday, August 03, 2007

Nooooooo....He's Not Bitter

Click on the link to see and hear completely rehabilitated and reformed televangelist/real estate developer Jim Bakker describe an incident he says took place while he was incarcerated. Not to call him a liar, but it ain't exactly like he was doing a stretch at Angola State Prison. So I have my doubts this actually happened. Anyway, stick with it until the end and you will also hear him make what I regard to be an admission against interest. But that's just me.

Why, oh why, do people give this man money? I don't get it.

Here's a fun bit of trivia: His cellmate for a time was none other than Lyndon LaRouche. Which proves that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has a sense of humor.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Italian Golfer Suspended for Doping

By Associated Press - August 01, 2007
ROME -- Italian golfer Alessandro Pissilli has been suspended after failing a drug test.

Pissilli tested positive for the diuretic Finasteride at the Omnium National Championship on June 29, the Italian Olympic Committee said Wednesday.

Pissilli, who plays on the Italian pro tour, was suspended by the Italian Golf Federation. He could face a two-year ban if found guilty of a doping violation.

His local golf club in Florence released a statement later Wednesday, saying he had informed authorities at the time of the test that he had taken the drug for almost two years to treat a prostate problem.

Golf has come under increased pressure from the World Anti-Doping Agency to introduce random drug testing after South African veteran Gary Player claimed at the British Open that some golfers were taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Finasteride also is used to treat hair loss but can mask steroid use. It has been at the center of several recent doping cases.

American skeleton slider Zach Lund missed the 2006 Turin Olympics because of a one-year doping suspension triggered by his use of the drug. He was later cleared of wrongdoing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

French runner Nordine Gezzar and former Premier League soccer player Stan Lazaridis of Australia also have tested positive for Finasteride.

Some People Have No Sense Of Humor

I have a brother who lives in Springfield, Missouri. He visits the Jim Bakker website from time to time for the same reason I do. Because it amuses him.

Apparently, there is a blog or a place where you can comment on some of the sermons/sales pitches. Evidently, Bakker made the statement, in reference to his latest real estate boondoggle, that "Jesus was coming to Branson." To which my brother anonymously posted the following droll comment:

"Cool. What theater?"

Apparently, the faithful were not amused and the flaming began which he said was simultaneously hilarious and scary. Alas, as you can tell from the comments to last night's post below, his post has been taken down, so I won't be able to put it up here.

But it sounded like great fun.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Prefigured In History By PT Barnum

Hell...prefigured in history by his own self.

Here, once again, is the link to the latest real estate development scam put forth by convicted felon televangelist Jim Bakker: .

I would say that funny stuff is forthcoming except that there's nothing much funny about gullible people defending this crook. It's just amazing.

The bringer of the funny stuff and I just need to figure out how to put it up here.

Stay posted.

High Dollar Drunks

Here is an amusing article from today's New York Times in which workers in high-class dining establishments in New York recount horror stories about drunk patrons. Most of the stories have to do with women disrobing and guys puking. Oddly enough, no fights are described. I guess wearing a suit imposes a check on some guys.

Now I have seen any of a number of fights, some of which I briefly participated in, in college bars and other far less ritzy joints than the ones set out in the article. And I once saw a couple of statuesque blondes making out in a beer joint in Gulf Shores. The one and only time I had a semi-sexual encounter with a drunk woman under similar circumstances happened in a nice restaurant here in town back when I was in my twenties.

I had gone to the bathroom. As soon as I stepped out, I felt arms going around my neck and someone's tongue going into my mouth. Once I was able to extricate myself, I saw that I was being assaulted by a cute and seriously intoxicated brunette who was struggling to remain upright in high heels. Seems she was put up to it by the other equally toasted women at her table.

I gallantly escorted this walking hangover back to her companions before returning to my date whose gaze encased me in permafrost. Should have stuck with the brunette.

Anyway, hit the link for an amusing piece about life in the fast lane:

Oh. Remind me to tell you sometime about the night I almost got killed at Fat Harry's in Uptown New Orleans.

I loved school.

Program Note

I have enlisted the help of my younger and more technically proficient friend Joy to help me make some changes to the look of this page. She was just fooling around with it yesterday. This is not the final product.

Bear with us.

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