Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's always shocking to me when I watch a t.v. show live and go to fast forward when commercials come on. Sigh. Television shows take a lot longer to get through when you can't fast forward through the commercials.

In the category of ideas that sound good until you actually think

Oh my goodness, but this would be a terrible idea. Our Legislative Post Audit agency looked into what the financial impact on the state would be if the state implemented a residency requirement for state employees. Currently, just under 3000 state employees do not live in Kansas. Most of those non-resident employees live in Missouri, but a few live in Oklahoma.

This makes sense because I would expect a lot of state employees work in the Kansas City, KS area and I have to say if I were one of them, I wouldn't want to live in KCK. Generally, of course, I think Missouri is a pit. The Kansas City suburbs on the Kansas side of the border and to the south of the city are a lot nicer, and have better schools, than their Missouri counterparts. But when it come to the city itself, KCMO has it all over KCK. I have said it before and I'll say it again: Kansas City is too cool a city to be stuck in icky old Missouri. But Kansas City, KS and its county, Wyandotte, are not somewhere I'd want to live. This northern part of the metro area isn't happy, bland, harmless suburbia, but impoverished blight characterized by drugs, gang activity, and family feuds. (Seriously, Wyandotte County has produced some highly entertaining, though tragic because someone died, family feud-type cases.)

One of the biggest KCK employers is the University of Kansas Medical Center. That hospital, though, is on the border. Literally. It edges State Line Road. That part of KCMO is pretty cool and if I were a doctor at that hospital, I would certainly think hard about living on the Missouri side. Also, I would guess if I were a resident, I would want to live pretty close, like in all of those rental properties within blocks of the hospital but on the Missouri side. So I would think a residency requirement would be hardest on that hospital. I think it might make it harder to recruit quality doctors if they wouldn't be allowed to live in some of the coolest neighborhoods near their place of employment.

But this idea (and as far as I can tell, this is still only an idea without a written bill attached) would be dumb for an even more obvious reason. Johnson County, one of the most populous counties in Kansas, is largely populated by people who work in KCMO. When I was a kid, we lived in JoCo (for the schools) when my dad worked at the Kansas City Board of Trade. In Missouri. An awful lot of my friends' parents also worked in Missouri. I'd guess some of those JoCo residents who work in Missouri are state employees. And then there's the whole Missouri and Kansas don't exactly love each other thing, so what do you think would happen if the state of Kansas imposed a requirement that all state employees had to live in Kansas? Like the state senator quoted in the article, I'm guessing it wouldn't take very long for Missouri to do the same. So, yeah, maybe we'd gain some new residents and the increased tax revenue they bring with them. But we'd lose some residents, too. And we'd make it a little harder to attract some new hires in the KC area.

On the whole, seems like a pretty bad idea that shouldn't be pursued.

Do these stories surprise anyone?

Today I have seen two stories that left me wondering why they were considered news stories at all. First, an openly gay music teacher at a Catholic school in the St. Louis area was fired. This comes after a recent US Supreme Court decision made it easier for religious institutions to fire people when the reason for the firing might violate some federal law but is based on religious doctrine.

I grant you the guy has some reason to be peeved. He has been openly gay at the school for years (his long-term partner is well known at the school) and there is no indication that there has ever been any dissatisfaction with his job performance. Second, the school set his last day for the very same day that the teacher and his partner will be getting married in New York. It's hard to see that timing as coincidental.

Then I saw a story about a lesbian being denied communion at her mother's funeral. Now, granted, the particular priest in this story was being a dick. A rude, disrespectful dick. To a woman whose mother had just died. Evidence of his bad behavior extends beyond just the denial of communion (read the story because I'm not going to repeat it all here).

So, yes, sounds like this priest is lacking in the compassion department and could use some refresher courses in being priestly. And I have to wonder if he really denies communion to all those who didn't immediately come out of confession. Does he double-check that no one else has coveted his neighbor's wife or dishonored a parent, etc? Does he refuse to serve women who take birth control?

But toward the gay teacher and the lesbian daughter, honestly, I don't feel all that much sympathy. Because what the hell did they expect? It's not news that the Catholic Church isn't super keen on homosexuality. It's not a new development that they think it's a sin, an abomination, etc. Or that the church opposes gay marriage. So I'm kind of at a loss as to why these two people keep looking to the church for comfort. It seems to me a lot like someone staying in an abusive marriage. He keeps hitting you, but you love him so you keep going back. That's your choice if you want to go back, but you probably shouldn't be all that surprised when he hits you again.

Look, I'm hardly one to talk about continuing to love something or one that doesn't love you back. But I just flat don't get how people can belong to a church and believe in its teachings when the church doesn't want them as they are. Both of the people in these stories are in relationships. Committed, long-term relationships. I can't understand how they can continue to cling to a church who would tell them that the most important relationship of their lives is a sin. But it's hardly a secret that the Catholic Church thinks exactly that. So it's no surprise to me that this man was fired and this woman was denied communion for not living according to church doctrine. Really, what did they expect?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do these people know me at all?

Recently, a friend of mine said something about the death penalty that shocked me. She's a defense attorney, so I didn't expect the level of bloodlust that she expressed. I called her on it because, well, that's what I do. She responded that we just needed to agree to disagree on this. Which made me wonder if she knows me at all. Because I can't agree to disagree. Not on the death penalty. Another dear friend that same day suggested I should not be quite so aggressive in my defense of the need for opposition to capital punishment. Sheesh! It's an epidemic.

So let me break it down for you. No, I can't agree to disagree. I can't be less aggressive in advocating for an end to the death penalty. It's kind of been my life's passion to argue against the death penalty. Since about the 5th grade when my jean jacket wasn't just decorated with Garfield buttons, but with buttons that read, "Execute Justice, Not People" and "Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?"

If you say someone deserves to die, I can't agree that that's an ok opinion to have. It is not in my nature to accept that as a respectable viewpoint. I guess I can respect your right to have that opinion, but I can't respect that opinion. And I can't not do everything in my power to change that opinion. (Especially when the person you're saying deserves to die is my client and you know it.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Funky town

I've always been a russophile. Loved the Romanovs, especially Anastasia. Loved Russian literature (except "Fathers and Sons" - awful, awful book). Loved beef stroganoff.

I'd like to think this is all based on my love of the color red and names like Zarya (which I totally want people to start calling me, but it's never caught on) and palaces and Catherine the Great (who, let's face it, was a total stud).

I'm afraid, though, that it stems a lot more from my tendency toward melancholy. There's something about Russian nihilism and fatalism that speaks to me. Because life often feels like a slog. A tough, unpleasant, pointless slog. It is very, very easy for me to get caught up in feeling that there is just no rhyme or reason for anything and that we're just moving from day to day until we die. And it's frankly a little exhausting. No, a lot exhausting. (Number one reason why I can't believe in some post-earth eternal life? Because the idea of not ever being done stresses me out beyond belief.)

I've been struggling with this a lot lately, this question of what is the point? What's it all for? I wake up every day in my house that I own (though not really as it could be taken away from me if I lost my job and failed to make a payment or two). I go to work, at a job that is contributing to society, so there's that. I eat lunch and I work out and I watch television or read or knit. Often, I have dinner or drinks with friends. I raise money for charity. I go on the occasional trip.

But it all feels so small, so monotonous. And more than a little pointless. (Honestly, if I believed in past lives, I would believe this was serious hangover from being a Russian nihilist.)

When I was 22 and unhappy with my work, I quit and got myself a new job. When I was 23 and scared of getting satisfied with that job, I set my sights on law school. When I graduated from law school, I had a whole career opening in front of me. But now I've got the my dream job. I've got my house and the dog I've always wanted. I feel like I'm out of things to work toward, so I don't really know where to go from here. There has to be something, though. Because I don't think I can take another 20 or so years of this before retiring, when I would just be even more bored.

While I hate that stupid Jack Nicholson-Helen Hunt movie, there's one line that speaks to me. What if this really is as good as it gets? Ugh. If that's the case, someone just shoot me now. Which proves that I'm really not Russian, because a true Russian would just resignedly accept her fate. :)

So if you've ever been in a life funk like this, what did you do to bust out of it?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Confess! (And I'm not a Hitchcock film)

I meant to blog about this New York Times editorial days ago, but I got distracted. By the ballet. (Romeo & Juliet. Spoiler alert: they die.) By that little Kansas-Missouri basketball game. (Learn what a backcourt violation is before whining that we didn't get called for one when we didn't commit one, MU geniuses.) And by $5 wine night at Genovese. (Thanks, friend.)

But you all should read the opinion piece. Because this is a question that comes up a lot. Why would an innocent person confess to something s/he didn't do? Most of us really can't wrap our minds around that idea. Of course, most of us have never been subjected to a Reid technique interrogation as the suspect in a crime, so we probably don't have a basis of knowledge on the topic. From DNA exoneration cases, though, we know that about 20% of wrongful conviction cases involve false confessions, so we probably need to get over our own inability to comprehend and simply accept that it happens.

I would like us to get to this point of simple acceptance because I don't think we'll address the question of how do we prevent false confessions until we do accept that they happen. And I do think we need to address the question of preventing false confessions.

I have been concerned about the Reid Technique of interrogation for years. It seems to be the technique used most frequently throughout this country's police stations. But I don't think the technique is designed to get the truth out of suspects of witnesses. It is designed to get confessions from individuals police have already decided are the suspects. Thanks to the DNA exoneration cases, we can now see how often the technique leads to confessions by individuals who were not responsible. And yet, the technique is still used with reckless abandon.

In Sarah's dream world, where I'm in charge of everything, police would stop using this technique yesterday. But I'm not in charge, so the best I can do is spread word about how easy it is to get an innocent person to confess to a crime he didn't commit by using this technique.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rock Chalk

I will officially declare that the second greatest Jayhawk comeback win of all time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Really, Arizona?

A committee of the Arizona House today advanced a bill that I find incredibly offensive on a personal level. Arizona HB 2675 would mandate that any student at one of the 3 state universities must personally contribute at least $2,000 of his or her own money to tuition each year, or $1,000 a semester. This proposal came about because one anomalous year, nearly half of students at those universities did not pay any tuition. According to the Regents, that figure was 36% last year and is now closer to 24%. Backers of the legislation say this encourages all students to have some "skin in the game." (Students on athletic scholarships and some merit scholars (no more than 5% of the student population) would be exempt from this requirement.)

The specific language of the proposed bill is actually quite horrifying to me.


Read that. A student can't use a private scholarship to meet that $2,000 contribution. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I was in college and law school, I scrounged to find every possible $500 and $1000 scholarship I could apply for. I got a couple, too, which came in very handy when I had to buy textbooks and food. I'm not entirely sure how I would have kept that money separate from my scant other funds and proven that I "earned' the $2,000 I paid in tuition rather than got it the slacker's way of tracking down, applying for, and winning scholarships.

The even more glaring part, though, is that a student can't use gifts to meet the contribution. Meaning their parents or grandparents can't give them the money. Goodness, what about college funds that were started when students were babies and that were increased on every birthday and Christmas through gifts from grandparents and aunts and uncles? Most of all, does this mean that parents, as a matter of law, can't pay in full for their children to attend college?

This is the part where I get really angry. Because here's my deep, dark secret (not really). My parents paid for my college. They paid for my tuition. They paid for my room and board. (Actually, they paid for my sister's room and board for 4 full years. They only paid for my board one year. The other 3, it never occurred to them that maybe some of the money they saved by me living in a college house where I didn't have to eat in the dorms should come to me since my 8 hour a week work study job left me with about $17 a week on which to eat.) They paid for my college just as their parents paid for theirs. And just as I would pay for any kid of mine. That's how we do things in my family. And I resent the hell out of anyone suggesting that this means I was some moocher who didn't have any skin in the game.

My parents worked hard to put me and my sister through college. They did it with pride and it would have been the ultimate disrespect to them had I not taken college seriously, flunked or dropped out, or, most of all, not let them do this for me. Many times in recent years, I have read and heard a lot of hostility being expressed toward those of us whose parents paid for college. As if that makes me an entitled, lazy mooch. As if it makes my parents enablers who can't say no to their spoiled brat. And now this. Members of a state legislature trying to make it a matter of law that students have to make a financial contribution to their own college tuition, no matter how much the parents want that not to be the case.

I'm not ashamed that my parents paid for my college. I'm honored that they made that possible for me. I would never disrespect them by not passing that favor on to any child of my own. I still would have figured out a way to go to college without their help, but I'm thankful I didn't have to. No Arizona student should be denied the opportunity of having willing and able family put them through college. Nor should any bright, industrious Arizona students who pound the pavement seeking out private scholarships be made to get a job or take out a loan if they were successful in finding other funding sources. Why should the legislature have any "skin in the game" of forcing students to work a job (or jobs) while attending college if it's not necessary?

Here's a thought, Arizona House. How about you worry about funding the state universities and keeping tuition costs as low as possible and let the students and their families (and all those private organizations that give out those little, private scholarships) worry about where the tuition money comes from?

Should a pharmacist's personal views affect my access to controlled substances?

Yesterday, a federal judge in Washington state ruled that the state could not force pharmacies to sell Plan B. Under Washington state law, pharmacies are required to dispense any medication for which there is a community need and to stock a representative assortment of drugs needed by the community. Several pharmacies sued, claiming that being required to stock and dispense Plan B violated their religious freedom because that drug can prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. The state countered that the law is religiously neutral, applies to all pharmacies and medicines, and promotes a government interest.

I'm certain that this will be appealed and I hope (and trust?) that the outcome must be different at the appellate court level because this can't be right. First, on the medical issue, Plan B is the same drug, just at a higher dose, as regular birth control and the same objection can be made to standard birth control. So this decision leaves open the possibility that pharmacies can decline to dispense birth control. That would be potentially devastating in rural communities where access to pharmacies is already limited. Second, which stems a little from the first, how far are we willing to take this? How many other drugs are we willing to allow individual pharmacists and pharmacies to choose not to dispense?

We as a society have decided to control access to certain substances. We require that doctors write prescriptions for drugs. We don't allow those drugs to be sold just anywhere; only a licensed pharmacist can dispense them. This system doesn't leave room for individual pharmacists to decide they don't like certain drugs. A Christian Scientist pharmacist can't be allowed to refuse to dispense drugs to their customers until those customers give healing through prayer a fair shot.

The judge in this case found that the state must allow exemptions for religous or moral objections. I find that a terrifyingly broad holding. A pharmacist could have a moral objection to pain killers and thus refuse to dispense them? I don't even know the wide scope of drugs that exist to treat all manner of conditions, let alone all the possible moral objections that individual pharmacists could have to certain drugs. As a patient holding a legal prescription, I shouldn't have to worry about my pharmacists moral or religious beliefs. Pharmacists just don't get to decide which of those drugs they'll dispense and which they won't. The FDA approves drugs. Doctors, in consultation with their patients, prescribe them. And those people who have voluntarily taken on the responsibility of dispensing them dispense them, without imposing their own personal religious or moral beliefs.

Plan B is in a unique position in a couple of respects. It doesn't require a prescription, but it can't actually be sold OTC just anywhere. It's in that gray area, like pseudoephedrine is in a lot of states. So it is still limited in terms of where and when it can be sold. It is also unique because it needs to be taken quickly for maximum effectiveness. Combine these factors and it becomes pretty apparent why the state wanted its citizens to be able to trust that they could find this drug at any pharmacy so they wouldn't have to drive all over or arrange transportation to get to the pharmacy in the next town because the one a block away refuses to sell it.

There are just some professions where you don't get to impose your own personal, moral, and/or religious beliefs on other people. Pharmacists, who voluntarily take on the responsibility of standing between people and controlled substances, are in just such a profession. They can have all the moral and religious beliefs they want, but they simply can't bring those personal beliefs into the pharmacy with them. I hope the federal circuit court sees this and overrules this decision.

A primer

When a jury is impaneled and sworn, the state presents its entire case and rests, and then the district court grants a defense motion to dismiss the case due to the state's failure to present sufficient evidence, that is an acquittal. It matters not what words the defense attorney and district court utter in making that motion and ruling on it. The judge doesn't have to say "acquittal" or "dismissed with prejudice." It sure as heck matters not what words the reporter who covers the day's developments use in a news story. Jeopardy has attached and a fact-finder (the judge) has made a substantive ruling on the merits of the state's case. The ruling cannot be appealed. The defendant cannot be retried. It is an acquittal.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

So, yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm done with this whole dating thing. It's awful. It's miserable. It's a form of torture that no human being should have to endure. I cannot take it any longer. I am officially done.

I'll be ok being single for the rest of my life. Never having that family I always expected to have. Really, I will.

Ok, I won't. I am desperately lonely and basically in mourning for the family I don't ever see myself having. But, holy hell, the dating scene around these parts sucks and makes me feel even worse about myself than the prospect of being alone and celibate for the rest of my life does.

My new favorite judge

It's probably not a good sign when at trial the judge is openly scoffing at your theory of the case. A lot of commenters are expressing dismay at this judge's behavior, but I have to say, there have been many times in my career where I have read a transcript and wished that someone had called out that ridiculous testimony or bizarrely illogical theory.

I don't know much about this Alabama "Honeymoon Killer" trial. But after reading this article, I'm wondering if the rest of the prosecution's case is as scoffable as the motive evidence presented in this article. Gabe Watson and his new wife Tina flew to Australia for their honeymoon back in 2003. Though they were not terribly experienced divers, they went diving. Tina ran into trouble, panicked, and drowned. Or Gabe turned off her oxygen supply and held her down to kill her, depending on which side you believe.

The little bit I have read, including this bit that the Judge scoffed at, makes me think there isn't anything real to this case. This article centers on the prosecution's questioning of the funeral director who ran Tina's funeral. Before the casket was closed, Gabe asked for Tina's wedding ring, though he wanted her wedding ring to be left on his hand. This, somehow, is to the prosecution evidence of motive? Evidence of murder? My response to that is kind of along the line of the Judge's. Who doesn't keep an engagement ring? I have my great-great-grandmother's engagement ring, so it clearly wasn't buried with her. My dad wears my grandfather's wedding ring. My mom has her mother's rings. My aunt has my other grandmother's wedding rings. Keeping rings is hardly an abnormal thing, and certainly not evidence of murder. Which was the Judge's point when he interjected in this trial. (Query: maybe this judge is one of the millions of Americans who passed on a ring of a now dead relative to his own son when his son was intending to propose marriage to a girlfriend?)

The attorneys prosecuting Gabe Watson also wanted to present evidence that he told his sister-in-law that he and Tina talked about their desired funeral arrangements on their long flight to Australia. Somehow to the state, this shows that Gabe had "murder on his mind" when flying to his honeymoon. It just doesn't seem that nutty to me that two newlyweds with lots of time to pass in close quarters would revel in their new marital bliss by talking about these kinds of things. And if he really did broach this subject because he was plotting to murder his wife, why would he relay this conversation to his wife's sister once he got back from his successful murdermoon?

I've read plenty of incidents of similarly ridiculous testimony, nonsense motive theories, and utterly illogical claims of "murder on the mind" type evidence like this. But I've never read a trial judge call the prosecution on it. Sometimes the complete lack of logic in what I read in a criminal trial makes me want to scream and throw things. The worst part is that since I'm reading the transcript, a jury obviously fell for it and convicted my client. I really wish more judges would be like this one and call out some of the nonsense that can pass for evidence in criminal trials. And that more judges would say to prosecutors, "If all you've got is that the guy kept his wife's engagement ring and talked about what kind of funeral she might like, you've got nothing."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Supreme Court Fantasy Land

The US Supreme Court issued a new decision today on when investigators are required to give suspects Miranda warnings. From the first headline I saw on msnbc, I was worried it was a broad, sweeping rollback on Miranda, but it's not. I still have some problems with it, though. (I knew I would as soon as I saw the majority opinion was written by Justice Alito.)

The case centered on the question of when a prison inmate is "in custody" for purposes of an interrogation about a crime. Miranda warning cases always center around the question of whether the defendant is in custody at the time of questioning. If the defendant is in custody, the police must inform her of  the famous Miranda warnings. If the defendant is free to leave, though, there is no warning requirement. Obviously, a prison inmate is in custody, but was this inmate in the custody of the sheriff's deputies who were questioning him?

The Court found that he was not, but in getting there, they once again revealed that when it comes to criminal law, specifically interactions with police, some of them (ahem, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, I'm looking at you) live in a fantasy land that has no connection with reality. And they feel no shame about issuing rulings based on their fantasy land without any sense of how the real people living in the real world will be affected.

For example, the Court reasoned that while a suspect yanked from his home, arrested, and facing suspicion would feel the shock of a tremendous change and would feel "inherently compelling pressure" to talk to police. Prisoners, they assume, wouldn't feel any such pressure upon being removed from their cells and taken to a room somewhere where they will face questioning on some new crime. The defendant in this case was removed from his cell very late at night by prison terms (something like 9 pm) and kept for hours. But, gee, there'd be no pressure in that situation. In fact, it would just be a nice break from the norm. Some new scenery, new people to chat with.

The Court also takes it on faith that a guy already serving a prison sentence won't make the mistake of thinking the people he's talking to might have some effect on his prison sentence. In Alito's world, there's no reason for a prisoner to think that a sheriff's deputy has any "official power" over him. And prison inmates won't feel compelled to speak out of fear of reprisal for non-cooperation. Right. Because those sheriff's deputies couldn't possibly talk to the corrections officers who control every aspect of the prisoner's life. The idea that failing to cooperate could make the inmate's life miserable at the hands of corrections officers just never occurred to the Court. It also doesn't seem to have occurred to them that even hardened criminals well-used to prison life might still be foolish enough to be coerced to talk to cops out of some desperate hope they might not get more time added to their sentence.

There's also a lot of musing about whether an inmate being removed from general population is being removed from a supportive atmosphere. I'm not sure that Justice Alito or any Supreme Court Justice is in any position to know what sorts of friendships or animosities develop in a prison's general population. Have any of them ever even set foot in a prison?

I also love the part where the Court concludes that the inmate would have felt free to leave the questioning even though he had to wait 20 minutes for a guard to escort him back to his cell. I gotta say, every time I've been to prison, I sure haven't felt free to leave. I can't just get up and leave a room. Doors won't open unless I have a prison official escorting me. So it's just a bit of a disconnect to have the Court applying its standard touchstone of whether a reasonable person would feel free to leave when we're talking about a police encounter inside a prison.

Under the facts of this particular case, I'm not all that bothered by the ruling in this situation. (As a criminal defense lawyer, I really have to pick my battles and this particular guy isn't close to the worst Miranda violation I've seen.) But I really do wish that the Supreme Court would buy themselves a clue about the real world before issuing decisions that will affect those of us who live here.

Have you heard about this lawmaker who won't honor those radical, communist, lesbian Girl Scouts? It's a pretty funny story and definitely earning him some mocking from many of my family members and friends today. It's easy to react by thinking it takes a special kind of loon to hate the Girl Scouts so much that he won't sign off on a harmless legislative proclamation honoring the 100th anniversary of the organization. Certainly on the substances of the complaints, I fall on the side of saying, "You go girls!" Calling the Girls Scouts a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood that encourages sex is just silly.

But the more I've thought about it, I have to admit one thing. Were I in his shoes, were I a state legislature being asked to honor the Boy Scouts of America, I would do what he did. Now, maybe you would respond that I would be petty to refuse to honor that organization. Or that it's a silly thing to make a principled stand about. But that organization went all the way to the Supreme Court to fight for the right to exclude gays, and justified it by citing their creed that requires Boy Scouts to live "clean" lives. And an organization that would go to such lengths to discriminate like that is not an organization I could honor.

So, while I think his complaints about the Girl Scouts are beyond silly (really, they're not some kind of training camp for radical feminazis*...), I really can't object to his refusing to sign the House Resolution. Because that is something I would do. Almost like I was guided through life to be one of those pro-abortion, homosexuality-promoting, radical lesbian Girl Scouts.

*In the interest of full disclosure, I was never a Girl Scout. This is as defensive of them as I ever thought I would be in elementary school. Because I was a Camp Fire girl. In first through third grades, we were the Blue Birds. And Girl Scouts at that time were Brownies. I bet you can guess what we Camp Fire girls decided was a Blue Bird's favorite food... And believe me, the Camp Fire girls were WAY more radical, feminist, hard core than the Girl Scouts in our area.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Winning at poker is a lot more fun than losing. And dominating feels pretty good.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The laugh of the day (because if we can't laugh at this, we might cry)

This guy is clearly a schmuck and I probably shouldn't give his words a platform, but Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association just has such a fabulous quote about women in the military, I have to share. Let's all just remember before reading that this guy is stuck about 3 centuries ago, has no idea what he is talking about, and does not need to be refuted because any "objective, logical, right thinking, clear-headed, non politically correct corrupted thinking person" can see through his nonsense. So just read it in the way I intended it, as your laugh of the day.

FISCHER: If our national security is on the line, the defense of your children, your family, when that’s on the line, who do you want manning the Howitzers? Who do you want manning the M-16s. Who do you want manning the fighter planes? Do you want somebody who is characterized by sensitivity, warmth and apprehension? That is somebody who is sensitive, who is warm and who is easily spooked? Is that who you want defending your national security?
Or do you want somebody who is characterized by emotional stability, dominance, rule, consciousness and vigilance? Well if your answer is B, which I think any objective, logical, right thinking, clear-headed, non politically correct corrupted thinking person would think, clearly you have just said we ought to have men in combat. … Women are not wired, either by evolution or by God, whoever is responsible for this difference, they are not prepared by DNA and innate personality characteristics to be in those positions.
 Right Wing Watch adds that Fischer said in a column today that “the average female soldier does not even have the arm strength to throw a grenade far enough to keep herself from getting blown up.”

There. You may now go back to your real world, where men aren't always emotionally stable and dominant and women aren't so weak they can't throw a grenade.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My new rule re: politics

I should not listen to anything Rick Santorum says. Or read it. Or talk about it. Or think about it.

He has nothing useful to say. He has no decent ideas to contribute to society. All he has is insulting, paternalistic, antiquated views on women and gender roles. And repressed, sad views on human sexuality that he feels government should impose on all of us (because that's his god's law, so we must all follow it).

It does me no good to read or listen to his nonsense. It just makes me angry and raises my blood pressure. So I'm going to do my level best to ignore him from here on out.

But so help me, GOP, if you nominate this schmuck, I will unleash the full weight of my fury to make sure he never, EVER sees the inside of the White House.

That prosecutor thing

It's nice to know that it isn't only prosecutors in the USA who are utterly incapable, or just flat unwilling, to admit when they're wrong. Prosecutors in Italy have officially appealed Amanda Knox's appellate acquittal. Because despite the total lack of any credible evidence against her and the great weight of reasonable, objective evidence that points solely to a third guy while Amanda and her new beau were far away at his apartment, prosecutors remain "utterly convinced" Amanda and Raffaele were involved. They just sense it. In their guts. Or their tingly thumbs. They can't just let it go, admit that they were wrong, and let these two young people they so grievously wronged try to rebuild their lives.

The same thing happened to the West Memphis Three, who weren't just exonerated, even though everyone knows they didn't kill those boys. No, prosecutors insisted that they could only be released if they pled guilty. It's such a sham and no one doesn't see exactly what happened. The prosecutors wouldn't have let a guy off death row if they thought he was a Satanic killer of young boys. We all know that. But they just couldn't bring themselves to admit they'd got it wrong. And the 3 men who had already spent nearly 2 decades in prison for a crime they hadn't committed and who finally had real hope of getting out before their entire lives were wasted (they're still in their 30s), so they really couldn't turn down the option of a plea, no matter how offensive it feels to plead guilty to a crime everyone knows you didn't commit.

These two cases are hardly isolated. The number of DNA exoneration cases in which the prosecution has refused to accept that the results make it pretty clear the defendant wasn't involved is pretty high. Even if the theory was always that the defendant acted alone and the semen deposited in the victim does not match, they'll all of a sudden say, "Well, gee, there must have been a second perp."  Not all prosecutors do this, of course. There are those who get that the job requires correcting mistakes and who freely, even happily, accept this part of the job. But there are an awful lot who can't ever admit mistakes.

I'm just glad to know it's not an American thing. It's a prosecutor thing.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dog days

Dog sitting is always, um, interesting. You get to see a dog personality entirely different from your own dog's. I enjoy getting to know other dogs. I even (sometimes) enjoy the explosion of dog energy in my house. I've sat for dogs who were nervous and whiny and dogs who were lazy and entitled. Maddie doesn't always get along with the interlopers, but I have always enjoyed having our guests. But I can't deny it. In the end, I'm always pretty happy to turn the dog back to its own rightful owner. (Just as I suspect the dogs are always happy to go home.) Every other dog always makes me realize what a perfect fit my sweet Maddie is for me.

So, it's nice to have you here, buddy, and nice to meet you. But I'm not gonna lie. I'm kinda looking forward to Sunday evening. When I can kick back on the couch with a glass of wine, a new episode of Downton Abbey, and just the one, perfect dog who belongs here.

Mini rant of the day

I find it frustrating (no, infuriating) how much time we in the appellate criminal law world spend arguing whether a fully-briefed, fully-litigated trial issue is preserved for appellate review by trial counsel saying exactly the right words at exactly the right time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My new business venture

This afternoon, some friends and I came up with a way for me to make some extra money on the side (and without  having to leave the house). Yes, we were at a funeral. Do you think increasing my revenue is an inappropriate topic for a funeral? I mean, not at the actual funeral, but at the lunch hosted by the church ladies afterwards.

Anyway, the idea is this: that people would pay me to update their Facebook feeds. Because apparently my Facebook feed is really funny. Just today, numerous people who I don't get to see that often opened conversations with me by telling me how much they love reading my Facebook posts. And these aren't the first people who have told me that. I've had friends e-mail me to say that or comment on a post just to say that they always look forward to reading my FB silliness. I even have FB friends who I have never met in real life but who friended me because they loved my comments on friends' posts.

So I think I could really make a go of this. Because I am full of this stuff. I already post way too much on FB, but y'all have no idea how much I hold back. How many things I want to post but don't because I just posted 20 minutes ago. This business idea would allow me to post all my nonsense without driving all my friends so batty they defriend me.

And it would be taking advantage of perhaps my biggest skill: connecting with people virtually rather than, you know, actually. I'm really good on the internet. Much better than in person. On the internet, people think I'm funny. They like me. Maybe I can translate that into some shoes. Because in person, people like my shoes.
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