Sunday, May 31, 2020

My Sunday Feeling

You could fill a thimble with what I know about psychology.  But I believe that the phrase "cognitive dissonance" pertains to things we experience that don't quite fit within our experience.  When things just don't look right.  However you define it, I'm pretty sure I  experienced it Wednesday morning.

I was driving down a major artery in the neighbors en route to the running track at school.  Suddenly I saw something low to my left out of the corner of my eye.  I looked in my side mirror and thought I saw a little boy, a baby really, walking down the sidewalk.  

I was like, what?  That's not supposed to be there.

I hung a left and went around the block.  There he was.  A toddler. No more than 3.  Barefoot and in his jammies walking toward me bigger than Dallas.  I started slowing down.  I guess that spooked the little guy because he turned and ran the other way.  I followed him as he went up the front steps of one half of a house.

I pulled onto a side street and got out of the car.  He was banging on the storm door and calling "Mommy! Mommy!"

What to do?  Apart from hoping that Mommy would open the damn door that is?   I started to go up the steps to bang on the door myself.  

But then I thought of George Floyd.  Certainly not in the sense that I feared any retaliation by the cops.  I'm white.  I'm older.  As far as I know, I'm not wanted for anything. I drive a late model car festooned with stickers that indicate that I am well educated although just because you have a particular school's sticker on your car doesn't mean much.  My stepson is a Georgia Bulldog fan for reasons that are by no means clear to me and despite my attempts to raise him better.  He has the red "G" on his truck.  Perhaps it is for "Go Figure."

No.  I was hesitant to intervene further because between the pandemic, the horrifying circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Floyd and the outbreak of protest afterwards along with the fact that there are touchy white folks out there with too many guns, I thought it not outside the realm of possibility that I might get shot for my trouble.  I mean, what's scarier than seeing a lost child with a stranger?  

And it occurred to me that "aint that a hell of a thing to have to worry about at a time like this?"

So I developed a plan.  I was not going to leave the little boy who was not particularly disturbed by my presence thank God.  I decided to give Mommy a couple more minutes to get her ass to the stoop and then I was going to call 911.  Let a cop knock on the door.  

A few minutes later I heard running down steps in the back.  A man who I assumed was Daddy came tearing around the corner with a cell phone in his hand.  He was obviously terror-stricken.  I came around my car with my hands held out to him as if to say "Whoa!.

I pointed to the porch.  

"He's right there.  He's OK.  I stayed with him."

The man scooped up the boy and held him close.

"Thank you," he muttered.  

"Look man," I said. "When I first saw your kid he was halfway down the block walking around like he owned the place."

I was yelling.  I am not a yeller.  

"Thank you. Thank you."

About that time a car pulled in behind me.  Lone female driver.  I figured it was Mommy.  

And I figured things were fixing to get real with Daddy.  I'm prescient like that. Besides, I had done my civic duty.  The child was safe.  I had experienced enough drama for one day.

Later on I wondered, and still do, whether my reluctance to put my hand on the child and knock on the door myself was justified. Or paranoia.  Or both.

But I know this.  The whole country seems to be on fire in 9 places at once.  And at a time when we could use a leader in the White House we have a rageaholic who seems intent on fanning those flames.  People are on edge.  And there are too many guns.


Aint this a hell of a thing to have to worry about when you're trying to get an escaped child home?

I mean really?   

I believe they call it "cognitive dissonance." 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

My Sunday Feeling

If memory serves, it was right around Katrina.  The United Methodist Church (back when there was such an entity) ran a series of ads.  The one I remember most showed a scene of devastation.  Police directing traffic.  Sirens.  People lined up to get food from a canteen van.  Rain.  Flashing lights.

A young man's face was superimposed on this scene.  His countenance was solemn if not grim.  He looked the viewer directly in the eye so to speak.  

"Do you recognize this?" he asked as nodded his head back toward the scene.

"This is church."  

I thought of this ad about the time that the Moron-in-Chief took it upon himself to threaten to "override" any particular governor's orders limiting crowds of people to gather so as to "open the churches."

Now, as a matter of Constitutional Law the Commissioner of the NFL has as much authority to "override" the governors as the President does.  Actually, Roger Goodell probably has more.  Let's see what happens if the Mayor of New Orleans tries to stick to her position that the Saints are not going to play in the Superdome during this crisis without permission from her office.

As Bugs Bunny used to say, "It is to laugh."

But hell this is football we're talking about.  That's important.

Besides Saints fans can just get all those bags out of storage and cover their faces that way.  It was good enough then.  It should be good enough now.  

But I ramble.

The cynics among us view this latest typically unenforceable edict by Trump, praying man that he is known to be,  against the states to be a dog whistle at the  evangelical types in his base alerting them that he is not letting "the State" tell the churches that they have to keep their doors closed. 

I'm willing to bet that this was his target audience because most "mainline denominations" including the Formerly United Methodist Church have voluntarily shut their doors for the time being.  This is not due to slavish obedience to government fiat.  They did it to keep their congregations and visitors safe. Think about it.  Off the top of my head I can't think of a better way to spread germs around then singing hymns and having Communion together. It is hard to maintain social distance at the Rail.  Which is, of course, the very idea.

But other folks, most of whom probably enjoy a closer walk with the Almighty than I do God knows, have pointed out the flaw in what passes for Trump's reasoning.  "Church" is not a building.  People are the church.  Church is what happens when you visit the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and try to bring aid and comfort to the victims of a natural disaster. 

But "Church" in this sense is not particularly narcissistic. It is outward directed. Not inward.  It is "Go out into the world to love and serve the Lord." It is not "Go out into the world to bitch incessantly about how unfair it is for you to have to wear a face mask before you can gain entry into Taco Bell."

But I will grant you this.  

Nobody takes up a collection at a disaster site.  They do at the Lakewood Church.

I'm certain that this latter consideration had absolutely nothing to do with the latest toothless pronouncement from the Roger Williams of Pennsylvania Avenue and FOX News.  


Sunday, May 17, 2020

My Sunday "On The Record" Feeling

And now, a little something from the public recorded. Where EVEN YOU can look up the facts if you are so inclined.

"The preceding statement is a summary, made for the purpose of providing the Court with a FACTUAL BASIS for my guilty plea to the charge against me.  It does not include all of the facts known to me regarding this offense. I make this statement KNOWINGLY AND VOLUNTARILY because I am, IN FACT, GUILTY of the crime charged.  No threats have been made to me nor am I under the influence of anything that could impede my ability to understand this Statement of the Offense fully.

I have read every word of this Statement of the Offense, or have had it read to me.  Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11, after CONSULTING WITH MY ATTORNEYS, I AGREE and STIPULATE to this Statement of the Offense, and DECLARE UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY that it is TRUE AND CORRECT."

Defendant's Acceptance of Statement of Offense in United States vs. Flynn, USDC No. 17-cr-0232 at Document 4.  Executed by Defendant on November 30, 2017 (emphasis supplied).

"I have read this Statement of Offense, and have REVIEWED IT with my client FULLY.  I CONCUR in my client's desire to ADOPT and STIPULATE to this Statement of the Offense as TRUE AND ACCURATE."

Attorney's Acknowledgement of the Defendant's Acceptance, executed by both attorneys for Flynn on that same date.  


" I cannot recall any incident in which the Court has ever accepted a plea of guilty from someone who maintained that he was not guilty and I don't intend to start today."

Transcript of United States District Judge Emmet Sullivan at the sentencing hearing of Michael Flynn on December 18, 2018, pg. 7, lines 15-17.

THE COURT: "All right. Thank you, Counsel. Thank you both.  Mr. Flynn, anything else you want to discuss with me about your PLEA OF GUILTY?  This is not a trick. I'm not trying to trick you.  IF YOU WANT SOME TIME TO WITHDRAW YOUR PLEA or TRY TO WITHDRAW YOUR PLEA I'll give you that time.  If you want to PROCEED BECAUSE YOU ARE GUILTY OF THIS OFFENSE, I will FINALLY ACCEPT YOUR PLEA.

THE DEFENDANT: "I would like to PROCEED, Your Honor."



THE COURT: All right. I am satisfied that Mr. Flynn entered his guilty plea while COMPETENT and capable.  He UNDERSTOOD the NATURE OF THE CHARGES AGAINST HIM and the CONSEQUENCES OF PLEADING GUILTY. Having carefully  read all the materials provided to the Court in this case, including those materials reviewed under seal and in-camera, I CONCLUDE that there WAS AND REMAINS to be a FACTUAL BASIS  for Mr. Flynn's PLEA OF GUILTY."

TRANSCRIPT OF SENTENCING HEARING, page 15, lines 21-25 and page 16, lines 1-15. 

Elsewhere in the transcript Flynn told the Court he knew that lying to the FBI was a "federal crime" and that he had no "challenge with the circumstances" by which he was interviewed by the FBI. He was given the opportunity twice by the Judge to withdraw his guilty plea before the Judge accepted it and he declined it both times (Actually he was given the opportunity three times given the colloquy above. Not only that,his attorney advised the Court that he did not believe that Flynn had been entrapped.

Now I don't know if Flynn's attempt to withdraw the guilty plea under these circumstances constitutes Criminal Contempt of Court or not.  

I do know that it's pretty clear that, as the old expression goes, Michael Flynn has done pissed off the Judge.  And that ain't gonna help him any.

These are indeed amazing times in which we live.  There are as many amateur experts on Federal Criminal Procedure running around on Facebook nowadays as there are amateur epidemiologists.

You can get your news from FOX if you want. But you can’t deny that this is what the man told the Court under penalty of perjury.

As the Old Perfesser Casey Stengel used to say, “You could look it up.” 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

My Mother’s Day Feeling

Too much action going on for blogging today.

Happy Mother’s Day to you (if you qualify) and your’s.

Talk amongst yourselves till next week.  

Sunday, May 03, 2020

My Sunday Feeling

I am reminded lately of an old expression in my line of work.  

"Everybody thinks they can coach baseball and practice law."

I will add to that.  "Everybody nowadays think they know more than experts."  

Way back in the day, back when I was a humble civil servant, I used to have to contend  with every nutbar shitbang legal theory that was percolating out there, primarily in the world of people that owed the government money. Let me try to remember some.

"The government does not have jurisdiction because I am a Christian Sovereign Citizen and I do not consent."  This I referred to as the "You can't sue us. We're Baptist" defense.  

"I am entitled to a trial because the filing fee represents a contract between me and the clerk.  So you can stick that Motion for Summary Judgment."

"The Amendment that created the IRS was invalid because Virginia is a Commonwealth and not a state."

Und sehr wider.

Typically, these "arguments" as such were put out by people representing themselves.  And any lawyer can tell you that a pro se litigant is the bane of our collective existence.  I remember one of these fools had somehow gotten ahold of an opinion letter I had written to the client agency authorizing them to do whatever oppression they were doing to this lady.  Her defense was that my opinion was "wrong" on the law. And she wouldn't come off that opinion in our deposition of her.

The exasperated Assistant United States Attorney led her down the path.

"Did you graduate from high school?"

"Yes." And she named the school and the date.

"Did you go to college?"

"I attended Northeast Louisiana."

"Did you graduate?"

"I did not."

"So you didn't go to law school did you?"


"And you don't have a license to practice law do you?"


"Did you know that my colleague here (that would be me) graduated both college and law school? And that he holds a license to practice law up in Arkansas? And that he's done so for 20 something years?"

"I assume that's true."

"And yet you think you know more about government regulations than he does?"

"On this one regulation I do."

Which she learned to her eventual consternation was not true.  Or at least her argument failed to impress whatever United States District Judge she tried to fly it past.  

I don't recall if this delightful encounter was prior to the Internet or not.  But I know this.  Expertise is no longer valued in this country.  Thanks to the Internet in our present age you have any of a number of crooks and nuts (sometimes both) peddling pseudo science and paranoid theories that have gained a purchase in the minds of some and created constituencies that insist that "belief" trumps knowledge.  The effect is that all kinds of people are like my old defendant.  They don't care what they are told by the authorities or professionals.  They don't believe stuff because they have a right not to.  And that is all that matters to them. 

And in Michigan, some of them protested government quarantine orders there by marching on the statehouse armed to the teeth.  I remember a day in the not so distant past when such behavior would have resulted in arrests (or worse).  Those idiots in Lansing should thank their lucky stars on the Confederate flags some were waving (talk about mixed signals) that the cops guarding the building were calm and professional.  

But is anybody surprised at this when we have a President who muses aloud during news conferences about unproven drugs (Chloroquine), quack remedies (injection of disinfectants) and who urges armed cranks to urge states to "open up" when his own administration urged them to "close down." And now the United States has the highest number of dead in the world during this pandemic.  

This must be said.  From what I can tell the vast majority of folks that are taking to the streets are white folks.  I wonder what the outcome would be if a crowd of black men with the same right to openly carry weapons as their cracker brethren took to the streets.  I just wonder.

Godalmighty.  Science doesn't cease to be science just because you don't "believe" it.  You cannot vote out the coronavirus or declare a shooting war against it.  I'm not saying that you don't have the right  to believe whatever damn fool notion that is rattling around inside your head.  I am saying that exercise of rights can be a delicate thing in a democracy.

You say you have a right not to cover your face.  Fine. I have a right not to let you in my store.

You say you have right not to vaccinate your child.  I have the right to ban you and your child from my medical office.

You say you have a right to go back to work.  Actually you don't.  But even at that your employer has the right not to call you back until there's work for you to do.  

You get my point.  

I don't know more about infectious disease and vaccinations than Dr. Fauci.  Most likely neither do you.  Just because you don't "believe" him doesn't make him wrong.  Just because you listen to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh doesn't mean you know the first damn thing about the law.

By the way.  Practicing law and coaching baseball ain't easy.

I know.  I've done both.  

Trust me.