Category Archives: law

Protecting Freedoms Or Prohitbiting Freedoms

If you troll about the back pages for world news rather than reading about one more local news event of no great moment then you may have seen the recent article discussing the prosecution of Le Pen’s daughter for disparaging a racial or religious group in France.  She is the daughter of the Le Pen of the right movement and anti-immigrant faction of the political spectrum in France.  She is mounting a candidacy for President at the present time and apparently has north of 20% support.   That amount is significant in France with their proliferation of parties.  Such a story focuses the mind on the constant clash of protecting our basic freedoms and rights under the Bill of Rights and the protection of individual groups or factions that may impinge on those freedoms.  The French strongly believe that they have the right to free speech but they also believe it has to be restricted to a confined bandwidth.   In Le Pen’s case she had spoken forcefully about Muslims and denounced them as terrorists in waiting and called for very restrictive immigration policies and citizenship rights for them.  Now she potentially faces jail time under French law for her utterances.  These special laws restricting speech and actions to protect minorities and special interest groups pervade the legal system throughout the Western World.   Stalin would have loved all that additional power granted to a central authority.  They would give an additional patina of legitimacy to authoritarian rules.  He loved pulling people in for “crimes against the people” or “counter-revolutionary activity”.

Sadly we in the West and the US in particular have gone down a similar path for several decades eroding our basic freedoms to free speech and actions.  These vague laws alleging protecting minorities or special interest groups simply permit draconian arrests and chills on our rights to express ourselves and advocate any position.  No one is more anti-crime than me or more devoted to a strong national defense than this writer but of equal importance is that right to speak our mind even when those words are abhorrent to most listeners.   The same is true for the so-called hate crimes that have blossomed like mushrooms in recent decades.    Our problem in the West and the US is not that we have too few laws to protect the people but that we have too many open to extensive abuse by central authorities.   Years ago I didn’t like the American Nazi party marching in Skokie, Ill but I also detested the Occupy Wall Street movement of just a couple of years ago and certainly was appalled by the Black Power advocates of the Sixties.  You should look at some of their language on YouTube.  They openly called for killing of policemen.

First on speech a free people should be allowed to say and promote any political or policy position they like without restriction.  No group should be granted special immunity from this discourse.  If you don’t like Muslims you should be able to say so as forcefully as you like; the same is true for any other group you dislike.  If you have a thing about folks from the Canary Islands you should be allowed  to vilify them and say they are not worthy of ever being allowed to immigrant to the US.  You don’t even have to have a good reason.   We now have laws against terroristic threats but I bet none of you could state an all-inclusive definition of what that means.  We let the Black Power folks openly threaten death and mayhem at ever turn why are things different now?  What it does is allow the Federal authorities to define that activity into whatever they like against whatever individual or group they don’t like at a given moment when they are using over the top rhetoric.

We really need to cut back on all these subsidiary crimes that allegedly protect some special group.  We are ceding too much power to another force that is not necessarily benevolent toward our freedoms.   We all can relate to real crimes–murder, arson, burglary, rape, assault, armed robbery, etc.  We know what those are and what those doing that punished period.  What difference does it make about the criminal’s motive?  Historically, under our criminal laws and today in that vast majority of incidences motive is deemed irrelevant the prosecution doesn’t even have to prove a motive.  The prosecution only has to prove you robbed the bank; they don’t have to prove why you robbed the bank.   The hate crime statutes hand unwarranted powers to the Feds without the restraint of the protection of our rights.  It allows an interpretation from on high that might not even make sense but that would be sorted out years later after the accused is in jail.  Prosecute the crime, not the motive.   Power once ceded to the central authority is never revoked without revolution or a sea change in political thought that comes only after severe tumult.  It is wrong and evil to beat and rob someone whether they are white, gay or a polygamist.    They are should be protected by our laws not the interpretation of events by politically motivated US attorneys and there are not any more political animals than our US attorneys.

The Zimmerman trial is a prime example of this potential abuse by the government.  Some have actively called for a civil rights crusade that he should be charged with a hate crime because the dead youth was black.  I haven’t followed the case much at all and have no opinion about who was wrong if anyone.  But I sure don’t believe anyone should be charged with a hate crime.  It was either murder or manslaughter or whatever or it wasn’t; race should not matter.    As said earlier Stalin would have loved all these laws because of the enormous power it ceded to central authority based on the whim of that authority to make the allegation under such vague laws.   Let’s get back to basics, after all it was the basics and adhering to them that gave us this great nation.  Not the populist dogma of the politician and cause of the generation.  The basics are omni-generational.

“A single death is a tragedy, a million death is a statistic.”  J. Stalin.


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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

So much to learn and so few students of life…..

When passing through the Panama Canal you are of course moving from the East to the West, the Atlantic to the Pacific.  In your mind’s eye you naturally conjure up the vision of the canal aligned East to West.  Take a look at the map however and you will see that Panama has a pretty sharp slant on that East/West alignment and the Canal passage from Atlantic to Pacific is actually moving from North to South.  After you make the passage it is in the open sea that you finally turn westward for your journey to the Pacific and the Far East.

Whether you support the Senate Immigration bill or oppose you should at least make sure you do understand the actual language used to implement those supposedly severe “trigger” requirements.  Look at it and pay special attention to the many times that the provisions of the triggers can be waived by the Homeland Security Secretary.  Criminal violations, language requirements, prior immigration law violations, fencing and other security requirements, etc. can all be waived at the discretion of the Secretary.  Of equal concern is the age-old problem that the Federal government regardless of who is in control will simply refuse to enforce the law or slow walk enforcement to such an extent that it is meaningless.  If we are going to have specific requirements for the path to citizenship they should at a minimum be real.  Example, the English language requirement only requires signing up for an English course, not completion or real proficiency in English and even that can be waived.  Remember also under existing law the President or Secretary of State can grant special status to anyone they choose for whatever reason.

In the Fall of 1942 as the German army was closing in on the epic battle at Stalingrad, the Soviets launched a massive counterattack north of there against the Nazi armies.  The area they attacked was manned mostly by the Romanian allies of the Germans.  They were there to fight the Communists, not support the Nazis.  Over 200,000 of the Romanians were killed, wounded or captured.  It was a major battle by any standard and one you have never heard about.  German reinforcements rushed to the breach and the Soviet attack was blunted and the battle for Stalingrad entered its bloodiest stage.

The Supreme Court ruling on the California Prop. 8 that had disallowed gay marriage is of great concern.  That concern has nothing to do with the merits of gay marriage.   The Supremes held that the proponents of Prop. 8 had no standing to even bring the case.  The Governor and other California officials had refused to defend the initiative passed by the people.  What if that Proposition had dealt with the tax rates or had mandated a flat tax and the Governor and other officials had refused to enforce that new law and would not defend it in court?   Who is in charge of our democracy?  The people or the politicians?  Under the law of the Supremes the folks who urged and passed that Proposition were mere “bystanders” with no stake in the outcome of the litigation.  The Angels on the head of the pin ruled the day and no one was allowed to move legitimate new laws through the legal process.  It may have been gay rights today but the grave concern is where this direction takes us on other non social issues in the future.

Snowden and the NSA matters raise areas of great concern and the old issue of matter of degrees.   We really don’t like the NSA looking into all of our calls, emails and locations with GPS devices.  We do want them to target terrorists and try to keep us safe.    If your 70-year old mom or dad has early stage Alzheimer’s and goes missing in the car with maybe an Iphone or IPad in tow and they are gone for a few days  you would surely want the police to be able to contact Apple or ATT and try to find the location of your missing parent.  This doesn’t even involve a crime but you wouldn’t want ATT to refuse saying it would violate your parent’s privacy rights.  It could be your 17 year old runaway son or daughter.   I want my privacy.  Let the Government target, profile like crazy and go after the really bad guys and leave the rest of us alone.  One of our greatest threats is our own home grown political correctness gone mad.

For our economy and job situation to improve and return to something resembling normality we need the Federal government in all its forms to back off and back out.  All financial institutions are overly regulated and their interests rates are under the thumb of the Federal Reserve.  The Stock market is dominated by the bond buying of the Federal Reserve.  The housing market is totally controlled by FHFA; over 90% of all mortgages are now backed by it.  Those interest rates affect the car industry and sales.  The new Obamacare looms over 1/6th of our economy.  All these factors are outright manipulations of prices, wages and the advancement of our economy.  The actual fundamentals of price, supply, demand and free bargaining between a willing buyer and will seller are completed distorted.   We need the Federal government in all its forms and its machinations to fade away.  Let’s have a real market based on consumer demand, true wages, profits, and innovation without regulation that kills entire industries such as it being proposed with the EPA death warrant for the coal industry.

Word choice can be so curious.  In England an elevator is called a “lift”.  Why isn’t it called a “down”.  I mean the elevator goes down as often as it goes up.   Maybe it is because lift simply sounds a bit more optimistic than down.

“to smell a rat” from Shakespeare.  Good advice when it comes to trusting Government.

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NSA And Big Brother Watchers

The issue of the moment is: are we watching Big Brother or is Big Brother watching us?    Our history and legal structure under the Constitution make clear that under ideal circumstances and normal operating procedure it is us that should be keeping any eye on Him to assure that He doesn’t get too big for his breeches.   The revelations of the NSA intelligence gathering into our phone records and then into our computer usage have raised both legitimate and the hysterical questions and concerns.  Let’s break this down into a rational and thoughtful examination of the law on the matter and our legal history and then we can address the question of the political or cultural propriety of doing any sweeping investigation of our “private” phone and computer use.

It has been revealed that the NSA which unfortunately I would wager about 90% of the population never heard of or understood its function until the last week has been systematically gathering data on phone calls made or received, the numbers, duration of the call and geographic location.  Next came the information that the agency was also gathering data on our computer use and apparently recording forever our websites visited, email traffic, chats and postings and maybe other data.   Supposedly all this was simply gathered and then used as a data base to project problems based on formulas developed by NSA nerds.  Many are calling for the arrest and trial of the man who leaked most of this information and others praise him and assert his rights to free speech and the press to go public with the news.


Contrary to popular belief we have never had a “right” to privacy until the one-off case in Roe v. Wade when the Supremes in a fit of legal amnesia and dementia declared that such a right existed in the “penumbra” of the Constitution.  No I am not making that up.  That was their reasoned conclusion.  We do have protections under the first and fourth amendments.   The first gives us the right to speak our mind and protects the  public debate in the press of any issue.  The fourth protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures and provides that no search warrant shall issue except upon probable cause and  must describe in detail the things to be seized.   These amendments do not stand for the proposition that you can’t be investigated for a believed crime.  Otherwise we would never convict anyone of anything unless it was done in front of eyewitnesses.   The first does not prohibit searches or seizures, only the ones that are “unreasonable” , again if the law agencies couldn’t investigate alleged crimes by taking evidence then we couldn’t convict very many people.   Also bear in mind that since our inception the consequences to the government for a violation of taking alleged evidence under the fourth is that any such evidence and any evidence directly or indirectly derived as a result of such seizure cannot be introduced at trial.   That is well-established law.

We are now at a moment when we have this still very ill-defined right of privacy and certainly a public expectation of some privacy.  But again that alleged right clashes with our legal precedent.   For example the courts have held for decades that the information on the outside of an envelope going in the mail is not private and the government can record and keep that data.   Historically, whether authorized or not our intelligence folks have in fact peeked in mail they believed was sent from or going to suspected terrorists or spies.   Almost a hundred years ago one of our Secretarys of State famously said when offered the content of private mail from alleged hostile foreign embassy personnel that “gentlemen do not read other gentlemen’s mail”.  In the age of Facebook, etc and the vast sweeps of data gathering by NSA that seems so charmingly naive today.   Likewise courts have held that when you go out in public on the street or wherever you do not have any right to privacy; thus all those surveillance cameras are legitimate and their images can be used as evidence in a trial even though the subject did not agree to being filmed.    The courts have also ruled consistently that when you use the phone there is no expectation of privacy.  Thus phone wire taps have been allowed for decades.  Lincoln during the War Between the States had his people routinely grab mail and intercept telegrams when believed to be important to the war effort.

But for the government to get your personal information the question comes are they required to prove up “probable cause” and get a specific warrant for your data.   In the NSA sweep of millions of phone records that clearly was not done as to each person.  Were we entitled to some right of privacy under that Roe reasoning when on the phone or our computer?   Was the gathering of that data an “unreasonable” search and seizure?  Or reasonable given the terrorists threat extant in the modern world?

For one I don’t like the idea of the Feds grabbing all that personal data even if it is ruled legal by the courts which would be a distinct possibility.  Don’t trust them generally speaking and a strong case can be made that the scope of these efforts are clearly overkill; that they cost too much money for such little results.  We would be safer if a far fewer number of analysts developed good profiling techniques and then really listened in or monitored everything these suspect folks here or abroad did.   That is a political decision of mine and ultimately the politics will determine the outcome of this debate.  Rest assured if we ever have a real war again and there is an existential threat to the nation we will do whatever it takes to win and personal liberties will be pushed aside just as they were by that great progressive Woodrow Wilson during WWI and Roosevelt during WWII.

Let’s hope that NSA, CIA and certainly the FBI are significantly reduced in size and thus cost soon and that they henceforth can only target our data upon specific probable cause.   All those agencies not counting the contractors who work with them total over 50,000 people.  Gee, how many does it take?  The cost of this alleged protection from terrorists is out of all proportion to the danger which is admittedly real.  Let’s fight the terrorists tougher, smarter and with greater effect by focusing our attention on the most likely suspects and leave the average Joe alone.

“Birds of a feather flock together”.  Identify the damn birds nand then check our their associates.


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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

The world turns and things happen, so we have thoughts to share about all those things that go bump in the night…..

There is justifiable concern about the new Obamacare exchanges being establish to enroll and monitor participation in that new socialized medicine program.  First, the complexity will create problems in and of itself.   The new system will be an interaction between HHS, the IRS, Homeland Security, Immigration, Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid programs.  Lots of luck with that working out right.   How comfortable will you be giving your social security number, address, and other personal data on the computer to all the agencies?  Sure as the world someone right away will be denied their application with the Feds saying they aren’t even a citizen when they were born and raised here and have been paying taxes for decades.   You want the NSA having access to everything on that application?   Also there has been recently concern about the IRS getting information about your health insurance or other health data.  The IRS official testifying said they would not get that info and only financial data to determine if you are eligible for a subsidy.  Not true.  Read the Obamacare act itself.  Under that the HHS secretary has the authority to troll all federal agencies for any information the Secretary deems appropriate to determine health policy and procedures under Obamacare.  Read it for yourself.   The IRS can get your health info to determine your eligibility and search for tax fraud.  Once you give your personal data to the Feds it is available to all the Feds.   Have fun.   All under the pains and penalties of the federal criminal statutes that cover any lying to a Federal authority of any kind.

Spain is definitely a left-leaning and socialist, big government haven.  They have many strict labor laws favoring the unions and workers like most of Europe.  But just within the last week that government has announced plans to consider lowering or eliminating the minimum wage to boost employment.  Given their history that is a real mind bender.

It is sad that we have lost 4000 plus killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Each is a tragedy for family and friends and has its own meaning.   After the phoney war during the winter of ’39 and ’40 when Hitler attacked France and the
West, the British lost about 50,000 dead within only about 6 weeks of combat before they withdrew from Dunkirk.  Then that late summer, fall and early winter of ’40 during the Blitz against Great Britain some 43,000 civilians were killed.

All Federal employees should be required to report any political contribution they make.  They should be allowed to make them all they want.  But they do work on our money and even Franklin Roosevelt said they should not be allowed to have a union.  The IRS scandal only highlights this need.  If 90% of them give to the Democrat party that is their right but the money they gave came from us in the first place and we should have a right to know their political donations.  When you are fighting with the folks at the Labor department or EPA you should at least know how prejudiced they may be against you because of your political leanings.   They should be neutral in all their work but the NLRB, EPA and the IRS actions of the last few years clearly reveal that those bureaucrats bring their politics to their job and allow it to influence their official actions.  That is contrary to everything American.  They are their to serve us, not dictate to us.

If your are not, you should be very concerned about our current Administration’s plan under Hagel to conduct joint military exercises with China within a day’s steaming of Hawaii.   It’s one thing to have lines of communication with their military to avoid accidental confrontations but quite another to let them look under our skirt at how our Navy operates during wartime.   China is on a massive military buildup with a strategic emphasis on their navy.  This is as stupid as continuing to supply Japan with iron ore and steel after their bloody wars and attacks against China and Manchurian during the ’30’s.   The young neocons in China are very aggressive in their approach to world affairs and seek a return to even more authoritarian control of their population.   If anything we should be telling them to stay the hell away from Hawaii and don’t even get close and not give them any data about our capabilities; they steal enough as it is.

The Feds for a long time have applied the carrot and the stick approach to “flip” targets of investigation or mere witnesses in some cases to reveal information about others.  They can be and often are ruthless in doing this.  They can promise to drop all charges, threaten to investigate your family members even if they had no connection to the events being investigated, put you in the worst prison in the country or recommend probation.  Those are only examples the threats and favors offered are manifold.  Now with the revelations about the very wide-spread surveillance the NSA and who knows what other government entity is doing with phone records and now your computer it is even more concerning.  They are allegedly grabbing email, chats, websites visit data, credit card data, cell phone locations and no doubt even more.  Soon when the SEC is investigating someone they will start off by saying we want to talk to you about those porn sites you visit, those cigars you ordered online and didn’t pay sales taxes for, that viagra you bought online, why were you seeing the doctor last May, tell us about that website with instructions for cleaning a .45 pistol?  Before they even get to the heart of the matter they will be intimidating you hard.  If any branch of the government has data on you do you really believe that eventually it wouldn’t be shared with any other branch of government?   Where do you want that wall of privacy to be built?  You best make up your mind soon and let it be known or the Feds will define it for you and mayhap you want cotton to their definition.

“A bad workman always blames his tools” Anon.


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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

We’ll take a peek at some history to get perspective on the news of the day and add a couple of random life thoughts for free….

Regardless of other troubling issues with the proposed comprehensive immigration reform what difference does it make if the illegals have to go to the “back of the line”?   Yeah, they have to pay some fines and wait for a while.   But the fact is they are “golden” once the immigration reform is passed.   They won’t be worried about having to wait.  They go the golden ring on the merry-go-round.  They can stay work, get benefits (read the fine print) and will get citizenship if they don’t commit a felony.  Doesn’t seem like much of a burden to have to wait until those who applied legally get processed first.   The line may be long but the point is they will get to the head of the line–guaranteed.

Another sore spot is that those who stole ID’s or forged paperwork should have to pay a special fine of at least $10,000.00.   If they stole someone’s social security number that money should go directly to the victim and those who made one up or forged paperwork should have the money go to the Border Patrol.

How many times have you read about some Federal employee who was derelict or really pulled a bad one that got “reassigned”, “fired” or demoted yet learn later that they were only shuffled around or in fact never fired.   You know, on the street without any pay.  Lois Lerner is the most recent example of this; she clearly was out of line if not doing something illegal yet she is on administrative leave with pay.  This problem is part politics and part the difficulty of firing a Federal worker due to the Civil Service Code and companion laws.   We’ll do an examination in detail later about the Civil Service Code.  For today though is suffices to say that it must be made easier to fire Federal employees for incompetence, laziness, criminal acts, negligence and those who simply can’t cut the mustard.  They system needs to be revised so there is a very quick appeal after a supervisor fires someone.  It should be like private industry where those above can fire those below.  The review board should meet within 30 days.  The board should consist of a union representative, a Federal worker and three private citizens.  The citizens should be at least 60 years old and have never worked for any governmental agency.  You want people with experience in life, who’ve seen the way the  world works, have some wisdom from living and understand the requirement that people do their jobs correctly and ethically or they get removed.  No appeal after that hearing.   Boy would that change things for the better.

You probably read the story about the 72 year-old fellow shot by the cops in his own yard.   They were responding to a burglar alarm across the street.  The man and his wife heard a commotion and he got his gun and went out back and then was shot by the cops.  Supposedly the cops were shining their flashlights and yelled “police” and when he didn’t drop his gun they fired and killed him.  A real tragedy.  He was no doubt pumped up with adrenaline and nervous.  Who wouldn’t be with those loud noises.  Even if they did yell out he might not have heard them correctly or at all and those lights were probably shining in his eyes so he couldn’t see clearly.  Under the circumstances how would he have known who they were and why would he believe they were cops even if they said so?   I mean this man was on his own property and doing something completely legal–carrying a gun which he had the right to do even without a carry permit and he had a right to defend home and hearth.   Why the hell didn’t they knock on the door or make a phone call to the house before they just barged in?  A sad case of friendly fire.   Can you imagine if he had shot one of the cops and the evidence was they never had identified themselves as such?

The headlines for the last month or so thunder with the news about the resurgent boom in housing.  They cite year over year increases that are dramatic.  Of course the percentages seem dramatic because we are starting from such a low base.  The raw numbers aren’t that impressive.  Only about 800,000 new starts a year last I read which is actually not very good and far below 6 years ago.  Also I have a question.   New housing starts require lots and lots of new lumber production for the building.   Yet, one–we are cutting timber for wooden pellets to ship to Japan for power plants and, two, the lumber futures have dropped sharply for the last 90 days by about 40%.   Some piece or pieces of that housing picture puzzle don’t fit.   Normally in a real housing upturn the lumber yards are working flat-out just to keep up with domestic demand and the price of lumber rises accordingly.

We’ll find out in time if Eric Holder lied under oath I hope.  You are reminded that there are three elements to taking an oath when testifying.  One–tell the truth.  Two–the whole truth.  Three–nothing but the truth.  If you fail on any of those three then you are lying under oath.  Q–was it day or night?  A–day, when if fact it was at night.  That is a lie under oath.  Q–did you see anyone come out of the house?  A–yes.  But in fact it was a one-legged man wearing a pirate hat and you simply state you couldn’t remember anything but a man.  That is a lie under oath.  Q–Tell us about that man?  A–well, he was carrying a large knife, when in fact he had nothing in his hand.  You lied and added an embellishment to the truth.   From watching the testimony and learning the facts of his personal review of subpoenas it is hard to see how Holder can pass muster under all three standards of the truth.

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people”   H. L. Mencken.  Pundit and social commentator.



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Genuis Of The Common Law

For the last couple of generations the US has been adding new laws at an exponential rate covering all manner of issues and concerns to some groups.  They range from EPA laws and those vast regulations to the new CFPB with its laws and regulations regarding real estate laws and the mortgages that protect lenders in real estate lending.   Those are only a couple of the examples.    Virtually every State now has a version of the Uniform Commercial Code that regulates all manner of commercial and banking transactions.  Those laws used to be covered under what were known as the law of Bills and Notes.  Indeed only 50 years ago law students took a course called just that.   The real estate laws have been historically a matter exclusively within the purview of the respective States under the recognized “police powers” of the States to regulate their own internal affairs for both criminal law and private property rights and laws of contract interpretation.   Except for Louisiana which had the Napole0nic Code all the States utilized the Common Law from England.   That Common Law and its few companion laws has served us very well for about 500 years and still can if allowed to work as intended.

The Common Law was designed and evolved to be a constantly changing system of judicial interpretation of the laws to meet the every altering facts of modern life.   There were few statutes but there was the precedent of prior case law to guide.  The law was changed slowly as it always should be to make sure the new interpretations fit with the needs of society and the needs of commerce among merchants and individuals.

Unfortunately today if you asked the typical twenty-something they would think that the EPA laws and regulations are the only thing that protects individuals from harm by polluting neighbors be they companies or individuals.  Everyone wants clean air and water to be sure.   The Common Law has provided a remedy for such an issue for centuries.  Two hundred years ago if you had an upstream neighbor, say a plant in the Midlands in England or Connecticut, that was manufacturing dinner ware and their production methods dumped polluted materials into that stream that crossed your property and harmed your cattle and crops you were not without remedy.   You could sue them.  People then as now did not want to be poisoned with bad air or fouled water.  Mostly it would have been a suit for nuisance and it could include damages if they injured you or your property.  The courts even then under the Common Law could issue and injunction against the offender to cease and desist.  The local Sheriff could and would enforce such injunction.  There is really no pollution issue today that couldn’t be remedied by private suit under the Common Law.  Individuals, cities, States, anyone suffering injury, could bring such a suit.  The same remedy would be available for air pollution.   Other than research and gathering of data why do we really need the EPA?   The Common Law has had a well established set of Riparian rights to control and litigate the rights to water and its purity for centuries long before any bureaucrat set to work.

Likewise consumers have for centuries been able to protect themselves from fraudulent activity by business.   There are several different types of fraud that have been recognized by the  Common Law.  The recent brouhaha over alleged mortgage abuse and violations of the Rules of Evidence is another prime example of the relief the Common Law affords the average Joe.  If indeed a borrower was deceived by a crooked lender then the mortgage would be void under the various fraud provisions of the Common Law and the lender would not have been able to prove the validity of the mortgage under the companion Rules of Evidence and thus would have been denied foreclosure.

We have been on a path of abandoning centuries of collected wisdom for passions and expediences of the moment for a perceived wrong without remedy when a remedy is in fact available.    Advice for the future generations, always look with a skeptical eye when some group says we need a sweeping overhaul of some major portion of our laws.  First of all it is usually some interest group behind it and their lawyers looking for work and a special bailiwick for their future careers because they can claim that only they understand the new law which they made zillions pr0moting and then drafting.   Inevitably such new sweeping laws create a new bureaucracy which then of course always sees future issues to resolve and regulate or else they are out of business.  As so much in life follow the money and see who benefits from these new laws in addition to the alleged benefit to the consumer or society in general.

Lord knows we have enough lawyers in the country to bring cases for alleged wrongs.  We are allowing a very tried and true system that still exist to whither away while we create vast new bureaus, agencies and boards with powers that the bureaucrats and the specialists in their domain to seek to constantly expand.    Yes our water and air are cleaner now than 50 years ago but that is NOT because of the EPA.  The same result could have and likely would have been attained by the use of the Common Law.   If you doubt these comments you are invited to research  the Common Law yourself.   That system worked exceedingly well.  Some cases may have turned our badly due to corruption or bad judges but the system was sound.  Today we still have to deal with corrupt bureaucrats or incompetent ones and a system that “we” have very little control over because the average Joe is not in the decision-making loop.  But under the Common Law the average Joe and all his thousands of cases were at the heart of the law-making process and over time it always got it right.

“Every wanton  and causeless restraint of the will of the subject, whether practised by a monarch, a nobility, or a popular assembly, is a degree of tyranny.”  Sir Wm. Blackstone, 18th century judge and commentator on the Common Law.

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Driverless Cars And The Future Revisited

There has been a lot of press lately about the advent of driverless cars in the near future.  Many are predicting that they will be common in another decade.  They have already been experimenting with some and they allegedly work just fine.   Heck folks are already noting that there will be a plethora of novel issues that will arise because of this new technological wonder.   Maybe it really will happen this time.  There have been many predictions in the past of some great leap forward in the technology of automobiles before.  If you read Look or Life magazines 60 years ago there were pundits who were predicting that most cars within a short time would really be flying cars.   They had lots of prototypes during that era.  Some were small with wings that would fold up or down just like the fighter aircraft on aircraft carriers during WWII.   Many others were a miniature helicopter.   There were predictions that the suburbs would be even farther removed from the city center and that fewer roads would be necessary because so many commuters would be flying in to work.  They believed the Interstate highway system had done all that was necessary the big challenge was going to be creating and controlling the flying lanes in and out of the city with different flight levels for inbound and outbound traffic and then the cross traffic.   Of course many really smart people were shortly predicting also that we were about to enter a new Ice Age.  The cost of the new control systems and the cars themselves were to be mostly covered by the gazillions of dollars saved in not building new highways.   They were going to be the next Big Thing.  How many flying cars you seen in your neighborhood lately?

Cars can be made to drive without human control now using off the shelf technology but it would have to be integrated to work properly.   The primary components will be a gyroscope of one type or the other, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), an inertial navigation system, GPS and radar.   We have all these already and have had some for over a century but they will have to be coordinated with a master computer software system even though the MEMS is a miniature computer and GPS works with computers.   We’ve had gyroscopes since early in the 20th century.  A fellow named Sperry developed the one that was the most famous and was used by the US Navy and other Navies around the world for decades.  It was purely mechanical and expensive to make but quite accurate.  What you say is the purpose of a gyroscope–the found true North.   You know that magnetic north is off by several degrees and hundreds of miles from the North Pole.   A gyroscope is  essentially a spinning wheel that never stops, indeed that is the whole point.  When operational the spinning gyroscope will aligned itself with the spinning axis of the Earth.  I don’t pretend to understand the physics of this but trust those guys in the lab coat it works.  It is momentum.   Once you know true north then you can start figuring out where you are, where you have been and where you are going.   They now have laser type gyroscope that serve the same purpose.  The MEMS measure torque and acceleration.  They use tiny mechanical measures and electric impulses to do this.  I can’t explain the science behind them but they work and have for a couple of decades.  By the way these tiny devices are already in use in your air bag deployment system and your electronic games and inkjet printer.   The gyroscope allows you to determine yaw, pitch, roll and direction of the vehicle it is in but it doesn’t tell you where you are without reference to something else.  The Inertial navigation system is used by the military because it doesn’t depend on outside factors to determine the direction of movement.  this is used for our rockets and cruise missiles.  It can’t be electronically jammed which is important in military terms but again it won’t really tell you where you are going.

So you need mapping by the traditional method even though enhanced with computer readings from “maps” built into the rocket or car or a GPS.  The GPS has been mostly used now for a couple of decades.  With GPS or mapping in the system then the “car” will know where it is and where it is going.   Lastly the car will have a small radar system to see objects, like other moving cars, and thus “advise” the total system when to turn or stop or slow down to avoid collision.  So all the parts to work the car and control its speed movement direction and acceleration are in place.  They will have to be coordinated by and utilize a master software program.    Many of the parts and pieces as you know are already in place in the newer cars today.  They all have GPS and those MEMS and some are getting radar.

First thing that concerns me is the idea of hacking.  Gee, the papers are filled almost daily with some story about hackers getting into all kinds of vital systems, banking, military, dams, Social Security, etc.  What will happen to the traffic on your favorite Interstate highway when  some pimply faced teenager hacks into the highway/car control system?   Or even worse a foreign entity that wishes us ill.  Of even greater concern will be a hacking into the GPS system.  So much of our modern world is now dependent on GPS that simply shutting it down or scrambling the signals would wreak untold havoc throughout our civilized world.  There is the conspiracy case to be made that the Government could shut down the system any time it wanted and ground us all for whatever their reason.  Remember the Boston lock down of just a couple of weeks ago? Imagine that anytime the Government thought it advisable.

There is also the question of the countless people who prefer to be in charge, they want to be driving that car not be dependent on some unseen distant computer system.  They like driving in addition to be a Type A personality.  Just because we can do it will that whole new system be marketable?   Will we be willing to pay the extra costs.  Of course there is the problem of computer shut down.  Not hacking just the typical computer crash.  We all know that does happen.  For whatever reason it just goes kablooey.   Be rather awkward at 70 miles an hour.   We’ll see how it turns out, or at least many of you will.

“Predictions are hard things, especially about the future.”  Yogi Berra baseballer extraordinaire.


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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Another whirl around the block and we still find new stuff that amuses or confuses us……

Little inside info for the non-lawyers out there–in the old days when the criminal defense lawyer hadn’t yet been paid his fee in full before the trial date the lawyer would often make a motion for a continuance to delay the trial because an important witness “Mr. Green” was not yet available.  Of course that meant the money was short and if he had decent relationships with the local DA office and judges it would be usually be granted at least a time or two.   Wonder how they handle that these days.  Probably about the same.

Two items that ought to be getting your attention–one, the Feds in the current administration have already indicated that they will be seeking an increase in the Federal debt by another 2.4 TRILLION!   That will bring the total debt to almost 19 TRILLION.  Two, your good friend and tax cheat Timmy Geithner at Treasury has put voice to the long sought Democratic goal of having no limit on the debt ceiling.   He uttered those sentiments just this past week.  They want the people to simply hand over our national credit card and trust them to use it wisely.  Does history support the notion that the Feds are trustworthy when it comes to controlling debt?

One wonders how many Italians will use the new self test for taxes due that the government there has put on the Web.  You download this program and enter all kinds of personal information about income and assets and then this program will flash red or green indicating whether you owe more taxes.  Supposedly it is an idea to reduce the amount of tax cheating in that country.  How many stooges will use that thing?  Of course you are told that the government can’t and won’t access the information.   Sure, and I’ll respect you in the morning he told her.

Speaking of privacy and your private emails did you read about the law proposed by that wonderful Lib Leahy.  He wants a very long list of Federal agencies and bureaus to be able to access your email if they declare an “emergency”.  Of course they get to decide what is an emergency.  Some of those friendly folks in the Federal government that would be able to utilize this new warrantless search of your email would include–the Dept. of Labor, SEC, FDIC, IRS, EPA, National Maritime Board, the Federal Reserve, among about 25 more.   Why in the world does the Labor dept, the Federal Reserve or the EPA have any business looking at your private email?   Leahy said he didn’t realize it went that far and is reconsidering but watch out; it will be back in modified form but amount to the same intrusion into your private life.   You have to fight to protect your freedom or it will slip away in the avalanche of Federal laws and regulations constantly cranking out in Washington.  Where is the ACLU?

As a young lawyer I called and offered to do work for the ACLU.  I was willing to work on freedom of religion and free speech matters. But I was rejected because I didn’t buy into the complete left-wing agenda.  They insisted I be willing to work on affirmative action and gender cases.   I suppose those non-union electrical volunteers from Alabama and Florida turned away from helping the Sandy victims felt pretty much the same way I did.   Ideologues would rather make common cause with a rogue than accept aid from a Good Samaritan.

Ask one of your doctor friends and you will find out that Thursday night and Friday after Thanksgiving is one the very busiest times in the ER.  People just can’t seem to resist over indulging in all manner of rich food and drink.  Yep, they overload their systems and clog them up.  Lots of emergency gall bladder operations at that time and the stomach pumps are kept busy.  Just ask and take heed.

For those who believe we can run up unlimited debt, run the printing press as long as it feels good, even consider defaulting on national debt and taxing the “rich” into oblivion, you might want to take a peek at the current state of the economy and political atmosphere in Argentina.  They have done all of that in the last decade or so.   The government has finally about run out of other people’s money, those with any money left are trying to get it out of the country around laws preventing that and making it a crime to remove your money.  The inflation rate is about 25% and they have unrest in the streets.    Kirchner and her left cohorts kept promising more stuff to the alleged poor and middle class and they are running out of “stuff”.   Will they go the complete authoritarian route and just confiscate all property a la the Commies or endure yet another revolution and a return to some semblance of private enterprise.  It could tip either way it appears at the moment but change for sure is a coming.

You always resent it when a friend or relative  tells you they know what is best for you.  Then why the devil do so many of us allow the Feds to do the same thing in every aspect of our lives?

As a child I loved Thanksgiving.  All the uncles and close friends of my mom and dad would come over for the big meal.  That was OK but what I really enjoyed was after the meal all the men folk would gather and begin talking about their experiences during the Depression and the War.  I always f0und those stories fascinating.   Some of the very best lessons I learned about life was sitting quietly over in the corner listening to those men talk.  They never bragged about anything but simple shared their experiences, the good and the bad ones.  In my mind’s eye I got to travel the world with those tales, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, the shores of Normandy, the jungles and atolls of the Pacific and the skies overhead.   It was instructive to hear how they all managed without any government assistance to endure the Depression and the lengths they and their families went to in surviving that episode.   The current generation thinks Operation Enduring Freedom was a real war and that not having an “entertainment” room in the house is suffering a real hardship.  That is if they get off their smartphones long enough to ponder such matters.

I personally wish almost all retail was close on Thanksgiving but I truly don’t understand the fuss about Wal-Mart and the workers protests.  I mean lots of people have had to work on Thanksgiving since forever.  Even the greenest Liberal likes the electric power to work and the toilets to flush on Thanksgiving.  You think those power plants and water treatment plants operate on automatic during a holiday?  They have workers.  Then of course there are the firemen, cops and the like and we all want at least a few gas stations to be open in case we have to travel on a holiday.  The list of those who have to toil on holidays is and has always been pretty long.  If you get the day with your family then merely being with them should be a reason for Thanksgiving.

Tax fairness as defined by the Old Testament–“The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than half a shekel”   Exodus 30, 15.

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

We remove the cobwebs from the memory box and see what’s inside with a couple of side trips to the news of the day.

Ms. Rosen picked on the wrong group to slander.  It doesn’t pay to arouse those soccer moms around the country.  They certainly won’t take lightly to being told they haven’t worked  a day in their lives.   I am sure that most of them when they finally call it a day, late in the evening, feel like they have put in a pretty full day’s labor.  Not to mention those middle of the nights calls to duty for sick kids.   The boss might send someone home with work from the office but a lot of moms are told at bedtime that “oh, mommy, I have to have a model in the morning of Long Island, made from homemade paste”.  Guess who gets to work on that one.

Well, centrally planned and prepared flight operations didn’t work out too well this week for our good friends in N. Korea.  Seems that someone salted the bird’s tail.   Their Gulag will no doubt have a few more occupants by the end of the weekend. 

You note how hostile Greece has become to Germany over the last year or so because of the conditions required by them for the bailout of Greece debt.  They are even using cartoons of Merkel dressed up as a Nazi.  The Greeks spent themselves into oblivion without regard to worrying about ever paying back that cheap money they borrowed and the lush government handouts that so many of them received and they relished the “red tape” bureaucracy that created pointless and even harmful government jobs.  There is always a price to pay; there are always consequences for our actions.  If they were smart they would embrace the German dominance.  Heck, they should let the Germans run their country for a decade or so.  They are Germans after all and things would get sorted out.  Same is true with all those southern rim European countries–just become provinces of Germany or allow Proconsuls from there run things.  Of course that means the corruption would have to end and the pay for no work.   But they will muddle along being the permanent beggars of the Euro-zone.

Since the oral arguments in the Obamacare case there has been much mention in the news of the Marbury v. Madison case that established the principle that the Supreme Court could find a law of Congress invalid if it believed such law was contrary to the Constitution.  The facts of that case were quite convoluted and filled with conflicts of interests including such conflicts by the Chief Justice, John Marshall himself.  Marbury was a fellow who was appointed by Adams to be justice of the peace in DC along with many others and a number of Federal Judges.  They were all done at the end of Adams term and he issued to appointments literally at the end of his term.   They were the “Midnight Judges”The official document, a commission, was to be delivered to Marbury by the Secretary  of State, John Marshall but he didn’t get around to it.  Jefferson was sworn in and John Marshall was replaced by Madison who did not deliver the commission because Marbury was from the wrong political party.  Marshall got the appointment to the Supreme Court.  When Marbury sued Madison demanding that he deliver the commission because he was duly appointed and confirmed by Congress Madison still refused and the issue was joined in the Supreme Court.  The Court ruled that Marbury was right that the delivery of the commission was merely  a ministerial act and that Madison was obligated to deliver it.  But, but but, the Court then went on the rule that the underlying law which had authorized the appointment in the first place was un-Constitutional.  Marbury was right under the law but the law was bad.  He won the legal argument on his right to have his commission but then lost because the commission was Constitutionally invalid.  He never did get his appointment.  Jefferson lost the legal argument but won  the political argument.

Everyone remembers that Germany surrendered in May of 1945 to close the European campaign.  But what most don’t remember is that it was two more years before peace treaties were ratified by the US Senate with most to the Eastern European nations and the Allies at the Treaty of Paris.  This was in 1947.  The delay was caused by concerns with the Soviet take over of that area and that fact that Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Finland and Italy had all been allies of varying loyalty to the Germans.  In Romania there was no local support for the Communist party.  But that didn’t stop Uncle Joe.  He simply imposed communists from elsewhere or a few hand-picked ones and finally held “elections” in 1948.   Violence was the road to victory in that election.   It was strictly force majeur to take the country.  The Romanian’s central planning ran all the way back to Moscow not even stopping at Bucharest.   Communists from around the world supported this move.  Their position was that the Soviet control would prevent the Romanians from returning their bad ways of the past and would guarantee their “independence”.  Strange way to define independence.

The birth seed of the European Union began with a consortium formed after WWII by several of the Western European nations to control, regulate and set prices for steel, coal and electricity because they saw no other way at that time to pull themselves up from the ashes; this group included Germany and France.  Although Germany at that point really had no option but to sign whatever was placed in front of them.

“A single death is tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.”  Joe Stalin.

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Rummaging around the corners of the mental attic we came across a few thoughts that only needed to be dusted off.  Maybe you’ll find  them worthy of a moment’s reflection or at least amusement.

It seems the European leaders are very good at having meetings and making announcements about plans to stabilize their Euro.  But have you noticed that the follow-up is pretty weak.  It seems so many of the deals never get actually implemented.  I mean there was a “deal” for the Greek debt about three months ago but no real money has changed hands and the Greeks haven’t yet satisfied the new loan terms.  Same is true with the alleged fund to back up the European banks and nations from almost a year ago.  The money hasn’t hit the table yet.  They seem to be good at having press conferences but not good at the follow-up execution of their plans.  I suppose Nero is their example.  After all Rome was eventually re-built.

Speaking of Greece, it is interesting that it is the private lenders, bondholders, of Greece that are having to take the 50% haircut. The various European governments and their central banks aren’t taking any loss on their bonds.  Makes one wonder exactly who in the future will be willing to loan to the Greeks.  It will probably be the European governments by hitting their taxpayers.  At least as long as those taxpayers believe the cost is worth it to keep the peripheral countries in the Eurozone.  The French and Germans may well decide it isn’t worth it.  Hmm, wonder is some day most of US citizens will feel the same way about California, Illinois and New York.  Why is it again we need to send a disproportionate amount of our tax money to those States while they never rein in their budgets?

I haven’t heard Tim Tebow ever say he believed the Lord gave him or his team a victory contrary to many news reports.   All I ever heard him say was that he thanked the Lord for a victory–quite a difference.

If you ever doubt the importance of the rule of law and the importance of which law applies then take a look at the Greek loan negotiations.  One of the requirements of the European banks and IMF is that English law applies to the new loans, not Greek.  Consistency and fairness regarding dealings among citizens in their private affairs and between citizens and their government are very important and our Anglo-Saxon common law is the best yet.  Far better than the many alternatives over the years tried by others. It is recognized even by those hostile to any vestige of English culture or heritage.

With the ongoing debates about the total US debt and the US tax code, we still like the idea promoted here before of making the Feds give a complete line item of the expense categories of the Federal budget on the back of your tax return.  Then you could check which programs you were willing to support and pay for.  The list would have military, HUD, welfare, EPA, etc.  Those that are real greenies could devote all their taxes to the EPA and those that don’t like it wouldn’t give it a dime for example.   Same with the military and all areas of government expenditures.  Its our money after all and I can’t think of a good reason why we shouldn’t have more input into how it is spent.  

During the political season (of course these day’s when does that season ever stop) it would be good if the politicos and the pundits would recall some sound advice from long ago.  When the government and its laws become too large and cumbersome then the politicians running that government are much more inclined to submit to the seduction of interest or resentment.  It seems BO in particular is into the resentment game and the interest game.  Why is it good for the body politic to have one large segment of the population resenting another large segment?  It would seem that is the perfect formula for extreme discord and eventually dis-union.  After all why expect one interest group to want to work with an0ther that they resent?  That resentment appeal is indeed a seduction and like all seductions a dangerous game to play.

In a society where the goal is equality of outcome,  history would unfortunately teach us that all that will produce is equality of servitude.   To achieve that equality of outcome always requires the blunt force of punitive measures by the government in charge.   There are no exceptions to that.  Why do you think Obamacare has criminal sanctions for those who don’t follow its mandate?  If you don’t report on the IRS forms correctly your insurance you will be guilty of filing a false document with Feds.  Don’t take my word for it, look it up for yourself; that is if you can find it in the gazillion criminal laws on the Federal books. 

What are the Scots thinking?  Do they really believe they will be better off as an independent country?    They are a great people with a proud history even if a turbulent one over the centuries.  Even the Romans find them so difficult to deal with they built Hadrian’s Wall at the border.  Whatever their cultural disputes with the English they will be worse off on their on.  They and their English brethren have survived many a hardship together and they have collectively advanced themselves immensely over the years.   They should think long and hard about what they will lose if they go it alone.  There will be no more pounds flowing from Whitehall to the north and I am not sure the world is beating at their door to buy Scottish goods and services. 

We have too many federal laws especially when you include all the regulations of our various agencies and bureaus of government; there are literally millions of them.  We need less laws and not more to fix our economic affairs.  I love the old Roman approach to new laws.  In the days before the Caesars the proponent of any new law would go before the assembly to offer it with a rope around his neck.  If the law wasn’t approved the innovator was instantly strangled with his own rope.  That would sure make politicos think a bit before they shot off their mouth about some new proposal.  Boy, makes you nostalgic for the old days.

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