Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Mexico Invasion Trial Balloon (Update)

Fred Reed is a very entertaining writer.  Like many really good writers, he also tends towards eccentricity; so he lives in rural Mexico and sometimes harbors opinions of the paranoid libertarian variety.

So when I saw this article I figured he was just spouting off based on some off the cuff remark by the Governor of Texas, to the effect that we should “send the Marines” into Mexico to do battle with the “drug cartels”.  But I forgot that remarks like this from governors of large states are never “off the cuff”.

Now we have a Washington Post columnist gently floating the same idea, so it has the look of a trial balloon being launched by the MIC (Military Industrial Complex)(h/t the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower).

It’s important for all of us, not just lawyers and libertarians, to realize that a lot of high ranking muckety-mucks in the United States military are susceptible to a peculiar form of temporary insanity.  I might go into more detail on that in a later post.

But for now, I simply wanted to go on record as saying that the suggestion of any kind of military operation in Mexico is a flagrant example of just this kind of temporary insanity, and I hope the trial balloon is quickly popped with a barrage of pins.

Update: “US Authorities” uncover a couple of border-crossing tunnels used to smuggle drugs from Mexico into the US. (Via Drudge)  This AP story is the result of prodding by the US officials themselves, of course.  The timing of this story, in light of the Texas governor’s remarks and the Washington Post editorial, not to mention other things I no doubt haven’t seen, looks suspiciously like one of those coordinated PR campaigns our government engages in from time to time.

I hope they’re not serious.

 

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Banks and the Courts

There are seemingly inexhaustible permutations to the whole financial crisis thing, but among the most telling are Florida’s “rocket-docket” specialty foreclosure courts.

You couldn’t have made this stuff up 10 years ago.  There is no way to describe these “courts” other than this:  rubber stamp machines to provide the gloss of legal process to large financial institutions.

Even the mainstream press, in Florida no less, is beginning to gag on this particular rotten fruit.

But what does it say about the justice system that anyone could have conceived of this idea in the first place?  Equal justice under the law may be largely a pipe dream, but the wholesale abandonment of the idea by the courts themselves, to the point where one already highly privileged class of litigants – banks – are awarded their own special courts to streamline the rapid granting of judgments in their favor, could not occur absent a long-standing, amazingly unselfconscious and incorrigible corruption, transcending the courts and the legal profession.  It took an article in the Rolling Stone magazine (previously cited here), of all places, to prompt that limited critical assessment by the Florida press.

How sad that the legal profession has been so silent, and indeed largely complicit.

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This is a little shrill, but…

Max Keiser is very entertaining.  If you have 8 minutes or so I recommend it.

 

 

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Gary North, Ellen Brown. Lawyers. Judges (again). National security state.

I just don’t know about Gary North.  He’s starting to appear like a lunatic.

In his latest round he’s pounding the table, declaring victory over and over, insulting his virtual opponent, Ellen Brown, and finishing with one of those videos from xtranormal.

Let us not rehash their debate in detail, though.  A pox on both houses, says I.

What I find especially obnoxious about North’s approach is his disdain for lawyers.  And not just the disdain itself, but the unstated presumption that his disdain is widely shared, and justified.  If you look at the video in the link the relevant portion is near the end of it, as if this is the crowning proof that he has “defeated” Ellen Brown:  after all, she is a lawyer.

And yet…you can learn things, even from blowhards like Gary North.  He links to another article, this one by Richard Posner of the US Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit.  It’s about how he, Judge Posner, has learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.  I mean, how he’s become a “Keynesian”. Somehow I missed this when it was published in ’09.

I remember Judge Posner from my Federalist Society days, back when he was one of their enfant terribles.

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Judge “reaches out” to Attorneys’ Clients

In a rare illustration of the unstated Way Things Are, a judge has extended a deadline for settlement in a major 9/11 lawsuit brought on behalf of police and firefighters and construction workers injured in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.

Almost all of the 10,000 plaintiffs have agreed to the settlement.  But there are 520 “holdouts”, and the judge “wants to make certain the 520 plaintiffs who did not join were aware of their options.”  He has appointed a “special counsel” to offer “free legal advice” to any of the holdouts.  He wants to “…make sure they weren’t giving up simply because they had become disillusioned with their attorneys.”

In other words, the judge harbors such a low opinion of the lawyers involved that he appoints another lawyer to offer free, independent advice to another lawyers’ client.  This gives “getting a second opinion” new meaning.

Implicitly, the judge believes the non-settling litigants can trust him and his appointed lawyer more than they can their own lawyer.  Or he suspects the litigants feel that way.

Who knows, maybe they ought to.  Besides, many of these litigants are special:  cops and firefighters, two of the most powerful public employee unions in New York.  They’re probably tough clients, being so used to getting their own way in courts and all.

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Happy Thanksgiving Amanda Knox and Other US Prisoners Here and Abroad

Thanksgiving and Christmas are terrible times to be locked up, even when you’re guilty.  For the many who are not guilty, it must be an especially sad and bitter thing.

Analysts, whoever they are, say that Amanda Knox has a good chance of acquittal on appeal in Italian courts.  If so, I can’t help but believe that Italian courts have something on ours here in the US.  Appellate judges here would never, ever take it entirely upon themselves to overturn a conviction in such a high profile case.

One other thing I’ll mention, because there is a relevant personal history:  it seems to me that on those rare occasions when the criminal justice system gets its mitts on a pretty young woman, it tends toward a unique kind of venom and vindictiveness, likely due to over-compensating for any appearance of leniency, but no less objectionable for that reason.

In any event, I am going to take a moment to remember in some personally significant way all prisoners on this day, and ask my readers, all three of them, to do likewise.

 

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Meanwhile, in Los Angeles….

Squatters are taking up residence in foreclosed homes.

Neighbors in the pricey areas are outraged, apparently.  They would prefer millions of empty homes, together with millions of homeless people?  They don’t say as much, but that’s the alternative.

Can all this foreclosed housing be re-allocated quickly and efficiently with a minimum of human suffering?  This is an easy question.  The answer is no.

I don’t approve of squatting.  It’s against the law.  But there has been so much law breaking leading to this point that singling out squatters for outrage is a too late half measure, at best.  Anyone feeling “outraged” should look in the mirror and take stock of his own role in making the world a place where these things are happening.  There’s more than enough blame to go around.

Happy Thanksgiving, though.  To the squatters and everyone else.

 

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Monetary wars. Gary North. Lawyers.

Some people are just blowhards.

There’s a guy named Gary North.  He writes about matters economic.  He’s a good writer.  He keeps his sentences very short.  And pointed.

He’s very sure of himself.  If there’s nothing else you can glean from his writing, you can glean this:  he knows everything there is to know about anything that’s important.  He’s made a fortune, he tells us, writing his newsletters and buying and selling properties and operating daycare centers.

He’s been having this ongoing, online/offline tiff with Ellen Brown – lawyer, best-selling author, amateur economist.  Brown and North agree on a lot of economic problems, but not about the solutions.  Brown doesn’t like a central bank, neither does North.  But Brown thinks money-issuance should be a purely government function.  It’s not clear what North thinks, other than that he disagrees with Brown on this point.  North may tend towards a gold standard with no government money issuance.  But he’s sort of cryptic about it all.

The reason for that?  Before he publicly commits, he wants to be sure he is in a position to profit and crow about it.

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Plea bargaining, lawyering and SHG

We come to the nub of another big disagreement.  I’m not sure why Greenfield is doing this to me.  Maybe he reads this blog and wants to debate the point, though he never wants to over on his own blog.

Anyway, on to it.  Scott has a post yesterday in which he more or less segues from the “justice” discussion of the other day into the context in which these ideas are applied:  defense lawyering generally and plea bargaining in particular.

It’s very revealing, overall.

As he makes clear in the comments section, at all times and in all events and for every client without discrimination, he is “gaming the system” for advantage, to “win”:

“You’ve fallen into my trap.  No, we try to win them all.  We don’t game the system for a plea.  We game the system to win.  Don’t you?”

For all his virtues, and they are many, Scott Greenfield is a menace.  He is a menace not only to his own clients, but to yours and mine, and to the courts, and to the profession.

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Orchestrated bank run in Europe?

December 7th?  69th anniversary of Pearl Harbor day?  I’m ambivalent about that.  For the PTB, though, this is terrifying.  About time they were terrified for a change.

H/T Zero Hedge, via Lew Rockwell.

 

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TSA and class conflict

I consider myself pretty much a libertarian, but this libertarian driven TSA stuff eludes me.  It’s gone completely viral.  Drudge is all over it.  Lew Rockwell is all over it, has been for weeks.  Bennett is all over it.  SHG is all over it.  Balko is all over it.  Crime & Federalism is all over it.  And that’s just a sample list from my small corner of the web.  I’m sure it’s much, much bigger than that.

It’s not that I don’t understand that being groped to board a plane is objectionable.  It just seems that the reaction is disproportionate. I don’t understand why this has gone viral while so many worse things get no traction.

Maybe on the level of tactics it makes sense, because there are two underlying aspects of this thing, both related to social class.  The first is that the complainants are the flying public, who still tend to be middle class.  The second is that the targets – the TSA workers – are thought of as lower class.  People who can’t find a job elsewhere.  Mark Bennett comments over at Crime & Federalism:

“…the TSA has hired an army of dead-enders.  If you are lucky to have a job, you don’t walk away from the unpleasant and evil tasks.  The state – and evil – thrive in recessions and depressions.”

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Justice is as justice does

Scott Greenfield is at it again.  Bringing up one of our big disagreements.  He doesn’t post my comments on his blog, so I won’t bother over there.

What is “justice”?  This was the question of one of the seminal works of western civilization, Plato’s Republic.  The whole dialogue dealt with it.  Various answers were considered and discarded.  The one that was settled upon was:  Justice is giving every man his due.

Not a lot of content there, admittedly.  One could argue that it’s really just a tautology, since you would have to go on from there and ask:  what is due?  And you would probably wind up back where you began.

And yet, and yet…  There were four cardinal virtues in western tradition:  Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice.  None of them is easy to define, yet they formed the basis for ideas about virtuous behavior for centuries.  They still do.

Scott says, basically, justice is in the eye of the beholder.  It means one thing to you, a different thing to another person, a third thing to another, and so on, ad infinitum.

In other words, objectively speaking, there’s no such thing.

It’s weird.  Scott says over and over, explicitly, that this is what he believes.  And then he says over and over, implicitly, that he believes no such thing.  He calls his blog “Simple Justice”.  He chronicles bad behavior by judges and others.  He decries unjust behavior by cops, prosecutors and so on, and then disclaims any intention to do that.

He’s very smart and very productive and very well intended and very much a good man and very, very much a part of the problem, although he doesn’t mean to be.

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A flop. Round two Keller. She wins again.

Well, the big day came and went with nary a whimper.

Of course, it is my fault.  By calling for a strike without ascertaining local support I set the whole thing up for failure.  In my defense, starting up a new blog with a new idea required something, anything to generate some interest.  After all, there are a lot of blogs out there and there’s got to be some reason to pay attention to this one as opposed to thousands of others.

I’m left with the problem I would have had at the beginning.  I can keep track of judges and prosecutors who seem like good candidates for a strike, but without any sort of prominence for this blog I will have to pick them from other blog posts or media reports.  I can then post something and see if any lawyers from the relevant geographic area respond.  The likelihood that someone will respond is very low unless my readership expands significantly.  More patience is required.  That’s okay.  I have plenty of that.

More seriously, my concern at the outset was not with the judges that make news because they are bad in some way the media find worthy of reporting.  I am more concerned with the routine and unreported perfidy that occurs on a daily basis.  The lawyers know about these things, but the media largely do not report them for reasons of their own. This blog could really fill a void there.

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STRIKE DAY. TEXAS. KELLER.

Don’t let her get away with it.

See here, and following links.  And so on.

 

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Striking obtains favorable results

In Washington state in 2003.

Were those lawyers stupid, too?

Kind of funny it hasn’t caught on.  There’s a lot to strike over.

 

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