Monthly Archives: November 2011
As long time readers of this blog know I am an attorney, for my sins no doubt. Although the bulk of my practice is civil, over the years I have defended hundreds of defendants accused of crimes, mostly felonies. This is part of my ongoing series about the life of a lawyer. For people who have not heeded my warnings about the profession and want to become attorneys, here are some tips regarding criminal defense work:
10. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!- Contrary to what you may have gleaned from television, movies and novels, almost all of your clients will be as guilty as mortal sin. However, there is a difference between actual guilt and what the State has the burden of proving at trial.
9. Clients lie- People accused of crimes will sometimes be forthright with their defense counsel, but frequently they will lie. This can be a dangerous handicap at trial, especially since an attorney has an ethical duty not to knowingly have his client commit perjury. Sometimes the best thing any defense attorney can do is to rip to shreds a client’s lies in an interview prior to trial and advise them that what you have just done is merely a foretaste of what they will receive in cross-examination from the prosecutor.
8. Cops lie- Not all cops by any means, but enough so that a defense attorney will treat police reports with the scepticism of a priest listening to a politician’s confession and not hearing the sin of lying brought up. An example of this is the videotaping of field sobriety tests. It was assumed in Illinois that this technological development would lead to more DUI convictions. After all, cops arresting people for DUI would routinely report that the person arrested had badly failed the field sobriety test. Instead, it has been a boon for defense attorneys, since the videotape evidence is often at variance with what the police initially report after the arrest.
7. Witnesses can surprise you-Last year I was defending an individual where a witness identification of my client was a significant factor. At the bench trial the State produced a witness to identify my client. The witness took a look at my client from the stand and said he could not be sure as to his identification. That took both the State and my client by surprise. Never assume that either your witnesses or the State’s will not give you both good and bad surprises.
6. Motion to suppress-Remember your constitutional law course? It wasn’t a complete waste of time after all! I enjoyed constitutional law in law school, and it is extremely useful on motions to suppress, as Supreme Court cases on fairly fine distinctions of constitutional law come in very handy in determining whether evidence is admissible or not. It is often advisable to do a motion to suppress even if you think you will lose. It gives you more insight into the State’s case as the prosecutor defends against the motion to suppress, since the investigating officers are subject to cross-examination, and often-times aspects of the case can be made to appear weak in the eyes of the judge, even if he allows the evidence in. That can be a useful factor at both the trial and, if your client is convicted, at sentencing. Most judges will be more inclined to leniency in sentencing in my experience if the conviction was based on some weak or questionable evidence. Continue reading
In case you had any lingering doubt that Rush Limbaugh makes a good charlatan’s living espousing half-baked pseudo-ideology slyly disguised as principled conservative philosophy, the winning radio host informs us that he doesn’t know what Classical Studies is, but he’s sure it’s a clever socialist plot. His faux-ignorant blather about the uselessness and insidiousness of studying Greek, Latin, Cicero, Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Virgil, the Bible—you know, the bulwarks of Western Civilization that any conservative worth his salt should have an interest in conserving—reveals that he has no regard for the origin and history of our ideas, for the development of the intellect, or for conservatism.
The source of the indignation is a rant which Rush apparently delivered on the air a week ago. Said rant was in response to this “We Are the 99%” plea which was posted in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement:
I graduate college in 7 months with a “useless” degree in Classical Studies. I have worked very hard and am on track to graduate with highest Latin honors. I am in a Greek organization with many volunteer hours under my belt.
MY JOB PROSPECTS?
I am one of the lucky ones, but I am still the 99%.
Welcome to the American nightmare.
Rush responded to this plea, in part, as follows:
[reads the above quoted "We Are The 99%" piece]
Now, do you think somebody going to college, borrowing whatever it is in this case, $20,000 a year to get a degree in Classical Studies ought to be told by somebody at a school that it’s a worthless degree? … [W]hy is it that no one in her life told her that getting a degree in Classical Studies would not lead to employment? In fact, how many college students do you think believe that just getting a degree equals a high-paying job? Probably a lot of them. Not that you can blame ‘em. That’s what they’ve been sold on. That’s what they’ve been told. Ergo, that’s what they expect. A college degree equals success, riches, whatever. Not work. This is key, now. Continue reading
Unfortunately I missed the Lincoln-Douglas style debate the other night between Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. It sounded like a fun* evening, and it’s refreshing to have something different than the painful two hour affairs involving all eight candidates offering one minute soundbites. Sadly, we’re scheduled to have 3,457** more of these standard debates. Joy.
Recently Rick Perry suggested that this debate overload might not be the best way to pick a candidate, and he even hinted at skipping a few. Had any of the other candidates said this he’d have been hailed a hero and carried off stage like Lincoln after the Jonesboro debate. But since Rick Perry has had, umm, less than stellar debate performances, it came off as a bit self-serving. Except he’s completely right.
If we must endure several more months of this debate hell, can’t we at least start thinning out the herd and allowing the candidates to go on for more than sixty seconds before some prissy debate moderator cuts them off?
One thing that we can do is start inviting only those candidates who actually have a shot at winning the nomination. Easy enough, except now we get into a debate about who should be allowed at the debate. This is the point where we have to pretend that Michelle Bachmann still might be the Republican nominee, so we can’t possibly shut out any candidate from the debate lest one of them gets hauled off in handcuffs protesting outside the debate hall due to his exclusion.*** In fact I can just imagine Rick Santorum breaking onto the stage bellowing “EXCUUUUUUUUSE ME” while yelling at Rick Perry that he was out of time. Sure it would be barrels of fun to watch Ron Paul’s fanbase immolate because the good doctor and only true constitutionalist (TM) was barred from the debate halls. But, in the interests of fairness, we probably can’t exclude any of these people. Except for Jon Hunstman. Seriously, I doubt Jon Hunstman views himself as a viable contender. No one noticed that he wasn’t at the last debate, including Jon Huntsman.
So what can we do to make these debates at least a bit more tolerable? Two changes might benefit both the candidates and the voters. First, we should have fewer candidates on stage. We can do this without eliminating candidates. If we’re really going to have two debates a week, just have different candidates at the debate. You can randomly assign candidates so that at the first debate you can have, say, Perry, Gingrich, Paul and Huntsman. Then, at the next debate, it will be Santorum, Bachmann, Cain and Romney. Then switch it up next week so that there are different pairings.
Second, discuss fewer topics and lengthen the time allotment. We don’t necessarily need Lincoln-Douglas essays, but let candidates spend three or four minutes expanding upon their answers. With four candidates you can still cover a lot of ground in ninety minutes or two hours, especially if we limit the moderators’ involvement in these affairs. Sure it won’t be as much fun as allowing a transgendered mutant space alien to ask a question about illegal immigration while forcing the candidates to answer in Esperanto, but it has the advantage of actually lending insight into the candidates’ thought processes.
Or we can just continue with the same exact format and grow dumber with each passing minute. The choice is yours.
*: Well, if you’re a political geek.
**: Number might be slightly exaggerated. Just slightly.
***: This actually happened in Atlanta in 1996 to Alan Keyes. I know because I was there supporting him and saw him get placed in the police cruiser. That was about as close as I have ever gotten to getting involved in an OWS-style protest. No justice for Keyes, no peace!
In the 19th century it became fashionable among pro-slavery advocates to deride the idea that the Declaration of Independence’s ringing assertion that “All men are created equal” applied to blacks.
In the Dred Scott decision the majority of the Supreme Court stated that it was a simple historical fact that blacks were not included:
The general words above quoted would seem to embrace the whole human family, and if they were used in a similar instrument at this day would be so understood. But it is too clear for dispute that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration, for if the language, as understood in that day, would embrace them, the conduct of the distinguished men who framed the Declaration of Independence would have been utterly and flagrantly inconsistent with the principles they asserted, and instead of the sympathy of mankind to which they so confidently appealed, they would have deserved and received universal rebuke and reprobation.
Yet the men who framed this declaration were great men — high in literary acquirements, high in their sense of honor, and incapable of asserting principles inconsistent with those on which they were acting. They perfectly understood the meaning of the language they used, and how it would be understood by others, and they knew that it would not in any part of the civilized world be supposed to embrace the negro race, which, by common consent, had been excluded from civilized Governments and the family of nations, and doomed to slavery. They spoke and acted according to the then established doctrines and principles, and in the ordinary language of the day, and no one misunderstood them. The unhappy black race were separated from the white by indelible marks, and laws long before established, and were never thought of or spoken of except as property, and when the claims of the owner or the profit of the trader were supposed to need protection.
Interestingly enough, John C. Calhoun, statesman and chief political theorist in defense of slavery, disagreed with this line of pro-slavery argument. While lamenting the inclusion of the “All men are created equal” phrase in the Declaration, he had no doubt that it was intended to apply to blacks:
They have been made vastly more so by the dangerous error I have attempted to expose, that all men are born free and equal, as if those high qualities belonged to man without effort to acquire them, and to all equally alike, regardless of their intellectual and moral condition. The attempt to carry into practice this, the most dangerous of all political error, and to bestow on all, without regard to their fitness either to acquire or maintain liberty, that unbounded and individual liberty supposed to belong to man in the hypothetical and misnamed state of nature, has done more to retard the cause of liberty and civilization, and is doing more at present, than all other causes combined. While it is powerful to pull down governments, it is still more powerful to prevent their construction on proper principles. It is the leading cause among those…which have been overthrown, threatening thereby the quarter of the globe most advanced in progress and civilization with hopeless anarchy, to be followed by military despotism. Nor are we exempt from its disorganizing effects. We now begin to experience the danger of admitting so great an error to have a place in the declaration of our independence. For a long time it lay dormant; but in the process of time it began to germinate, and produce its poisonous fruits. It had strong hold on the mind of Mr. Jefferson, the author of that document, which caused him to take an utterly false view of the subordinate relation of the black to the white race in the South; and to hold, in consequence, that the former, though utterly unqualified to possess liberty, were as fully entitled to both liberty and equality as the latter; and that to deprive them of it was unjust and immoral. To this error, his proposition to exclude slavery from the territory northwest of the Ohio may be traced, and to that of the ordinance of ’87, and through it the deep and dangerous agitation which now threatens to ingulf, and will certainly ingulf, if not speedily settled, our political institutions, and involve the country in countless woes.
Abraham Lincoln rose in defense of the Founders and the Declaration. Lincoln has attained such a folksy image in American folklore that we lose sight of how incisive a mind he possessed. It was on full display in this passage from a speech that he gave on June 26, 1857 on the Dred Scott decision: Continue reading
This can be considered a companion piece to my worst governor post which may be read here. The video above consists of selections from a speech by author Joel Kotkin to the Illinois Policy Institute explaining some of the ways in which the powers that be in Illinois have made the state completely uncompetitive with other states in producing sustained private sector economic growth. If I were starting out I would leave Illinois. Nothing good is going to be happening in this state economically for a very long time. The leadership of the state is completely blind to our problems and promote policies that drive businesses away and sink Illinois deeper in a fiscal morass. Illinois’ woes are completely man-made, and Illinois, thanks to a majority of the Illinois voters, remains wedded to a model of high government expenditure, hostility to private enterprise and unending political corruption that makes effective reform for at least the next three years a pipe dream.
The story about a soldier using a deck of cards as a mnemonic device to remind himself of the Bible, set in the video above in the Vietnam War, goes back to 1778. Versions of the story have been set in the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is the Afghanistan version:
A young soldier was in his bunkhouse all alone one Sunday morning. It was quiet that day, the guns and the mortars, and land mines for some reason hadn’t made a noise.
The young soldier knew it was Sunday, the holiest day of the week. As he was sitting there, he got out an old deck of cards and laid them out across his bunk.
Just then an Army Sergeant came in and asked, “Why aren’t you with the rest of the platoon?”
The soldier replied, “I thought I would stay behind and spend some time with the Lord.”
The sergeant said, “Looks like you’re going to play cards.”
The soldier said, “No sir, you see, since we are not allowed to have Bibles or other spiritual books in this country, I’ve decided to talk to the Lord by studying this deck of cards.”
The sergeant asked in disbelief, “How will you do that?”
“You see the Ace, Sergeant, it reminds that there is only one God.
The Two represents the two parts of the Bible, Old and New Testaments.
The Three represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
The Four stands for the Four Apostles: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The Five is for the five virgins, there were ten, but only five of them were glorified.
The Six is for the six days it took God to create the Heavens and Earth.
The Seven is for the day God rested after working the six days.
The Eight is for the family of Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives, in which God saved the eight people from the flood that destroyed the earth for the first time.
The Nine is for the lepers that Jesus cleansed of leprosy. He cleansed ten but nine never thanked Him.
The Ten represents the Ten Commandments that God handed down to Moses on tablets made of stone.
The Jack is a reminder of Satan. One of God’s first angels, but he got kicked out of heaven for his sly and wicked ways and is now the Joker of eternal hell.
The Queen stands for the Virgin Mary.
The King stands for Jesus, for he is the King of all kings.
When I count the dots on all the cards, I come up with 365 total, one for every day of the year.
There are a total of 52 cards in a deck, each is a week, 52 weeks in a year.
The four suits represents the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.
Each suit has thirteen cards, there are exactly thirteen weeks in a quarter.
So when I want to talk to God and thank Him, I just pull out this old deck of cards and they remind me of all that I have to be thankful for.”
The sergeant just stood there and after a minute, with tears in his eyes and pain in his heart, he said, “Soldier, can I borrow that deck of cards?”
Please let this be a reminder and take time to pray for all of our soldiers who are being sent away, putting their lives on the line fighting for us.
An interesting variant on this centuries old tale was set during the Korean War: The Red Deck of Cards: Continue reading
Giotto, morning star of the Renaissance, was noted for his wit and humor as well as his skill as a painter. Evidence of that is now coming to light, almost seven centuries after his death:
Art restorers have discovered the figure of a devil hidden in the clouds of one of the most famous frescos by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, church officials said on Saturday.
The devil was hidden in the details of clouds at the top of fresco number 20 in the cycle of the scenes in the life and death of St Francis painted by Giotto in the 13th century.
The discovery was made by Italian art historian Chiara Frugone. It shows a profile of a figure with a hooked nose, a sly smile, and dark horns hidden among the clouds in the panel of the scene depicting the death of St Francis. Continue reading
With the so-called Obama healthcare “reform” law and the horses out of the barn, Catholic leaders are now complaining with a fevered pitch that the administration’s definition of a “religious employer” is going to force Catholic and other pro-life healthcare providers to choose between violating their consciences or curtailing access to care. Catholic educational institutions will also be forced to provide employees with healthcare plans that are inconsistent with the Church’s moral teachings.
Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, the Chancellor and General Counsel of the Archdiocese of Washington, Jane Belford, said that if the definition of religious employer is not changed:
Catholic schools that teach abortion is morally wrong could have to pay for abortifacient drugs for their employees; and Catholic health clinics that refuse to provide contraception or sterilization for patients could have to subsidize contraception and sterilization for their employees.
Criticism has become more vocal since the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, approved new regulations that order nearly all private health plans to cover FDA-approved “contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling” as part of their “preventive services” for women. The new regulation defines a religious employer as a non-profit organization that “inculcates” religious values and primarily hires and serves people who share its religious tenets.
The problem this definition presents is that it excludes many “employers of conscience”—including Catholic hospitals, universities and social services—which serve all people in need, regardless of their religion and whose commitment to Christian service is not intended primarily to inculcate religious values.
The President and CEO of the Alliance of Catholic Health Care, William J. Cox, said this narrow definition HHS has overlooked “the contributions of Catholic health care and undid centuries of religious tolerance.” Cox testified:
It is particularly ironic that HHS is substantially burdening Catholic institutional ministries because they respectfully avoid inculcating religious beliefs, and compassionately serve persons of all faith traditions and those having no faith tradition at all…
Simply stated churches and religious institutions have the right to define and govern themselves free from government interference and entanglement.
The Catholic leaders were unanimous in imploring Congress to pass the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (HR 1179), which aims to expand the religious exemption allowed under Obamacare.
The criticism is accurate: The definition is exclusive rather than inclusive. It divides rather than unites. It’s dismissive of rather than accommodating.
At the same time, however, isn’t much of it a bit late in the “game”? After all, in the debate leading up to the passage of the so-called Obamacare “reform,” many Catholic leaders seemed very content to accept the “promises” the President and members of his administration offered them while lobbying for their support of the so-called “healthcare reform” scheme.
Having danced with wolves, why should the critics be unhappy that the wolves have bit the hand that fed them?
So, the horses are now out of the barn and the critics are hoping that the other side of the aisle will come to their aid. Let’s hope so!
But, having provided support in opening the barn door to this anti-life scheme, isn’t the criticism coming a little late? Who duped whom?
As an amateur curmudgeon I note with sadness the death of a professional curmudgeon: Andy Rooney who has passed away at age 92. Although my views of the network he worked for, CBS, are not printable in polite company, I had a soft spot in my heart for Rooney. As the above video indicates, although he was most definitely a political liberal he was also frequently subversive of the left wing pieties embraced by CBS.
Rooney served in the Army during World War 2 and was a patriot to his marrow as indicated by this poignant video:
In 1985 Rooney came out against abortion, which no doubt brought him unending grief considering the social milieu in which he lived. Go here to read his column. Agree with him or disagree with him, and I mostly disagreed with him, especially in regard to religion where he was a fairly snide atheist, Rooney always gave his honest opinion and that is to be respected. So rest in peace Mr. Rooney, I will miss you. Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Chester, America’s unofficial national anthem during the American Revolution. Written by William Billings in 1770, he added new lyrics to the song in 1778 and transformed it into a battle hymn for the Patriots in their war for independence. The song reveals the strong religious element that was ever present on the American side of the conflict, with most Patriots viewing the war as a crusade.
Let tyrants shake their iron rods,
And Slav’ry clank her galling chains.
We fear them not, we trust in God.
New England’s God forever reigns.
Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton, too,
and Cornwallis joined,
Together plot our overthrow,
In one infernal
When God inspired us for the fight,
Their ranks were broke, their lines were forced,
Their ships were
shattered in our sight,
Or swiftly driven from our coast.
The foe comes on with haughty stride,
advance with martial noise;
Their vet’rans flee before our youth,
gen’rals yield to beardless boys.
off’ring shall we bring,
What shall we render to the Lord?
hallelujahs let us sing,
And praise his name on ev’ry chord! Continue reading
Growing up, my family had a lot of odd conversations, especially on the rare occasions we watched TV. One of these led to my mom pointing out that a lot of the “strange” things that the Bible told the Jews to do were not just for religious reasons (I think it came out of a TV character using ‘religious’ as a synonym for ‘serves no practical purpose’)—they made very good practical sense, too. Simplest example, pork is horrifically dangerous if you don’t have a fridge and don’t know about invisible dangers. Continue reading
In a crowded field, Pat Quinn, Democrat Governor of Illinois, can now officially be proclaimed the worst governor in the United States.
He has been vying for the title ever since he took over from impeached and removed Governor Blagojevich, currently bound for a long stay in federal prison. Since taking over from his felon predecessor, he has the following accomplishments to his discredit:
In a midnight session of the lame duck legislature in January of this year he increased, in the midst of the worst economic slump since World War II, Illinois personal income taxes by 67-75%, and, as a result, the misgoverned state of Illinois became a national laughingstock.
Quinn got elected last year by a razor thin margin largely by under the radar last minute internet ads posted by Personal PAC, a pro-abort lobbying group, headed by a Terry Cosgrove. As payback Quinn appointed Cosgrove to a $46,000 a year job on the Human Rights Commission. Lake County Right to Life has good coverage on this story which may be read here. Regular Guy Paul has been on top of the story at his blog here.
Now I happen to know Cosgrove from the days back in the Seventies when we were both attending the U of I. He is a lapsed Catholic, now a militant atheist, homosexual activist and fanatical pro-abort. He was head of the local campus pro-aborts and I was one of the founders of L.I.F.E. (Life Is For Everyone), the campus pro-life group. One time I saw Cosgrove at Mass circa 1980 at the Newman Chapel, at Saint John’s. Puzzled why he was there, after Mass I found out why. At the pamphlet rack in the back I saw that he had stuffed pro-abort obscene anti-Catholic pamphlets. I disposed of them. He also said in one memorable public forum that he carried a gun to defend himself against “militant anti-choicers”, as he phrased pro-lifers. Quinn appointed him to the Illinois Human Rights Commission in April of this year. That a bigot like Cosgrove now has a seat on the Human Rights Commission in Illinois has a nice Orwellian touch.
Now Quinn has outdone himself and seized the title of worst governor. As further payback to Cosgrove and his pro-abort pressure group, Quinn is going to attend the annual fund raising dinner for Personal Pac and present an award. When challenged on this by every Catholic bishop in the State, and Cardinal George, the ostensibly Catholic Quinn responded that giving the award was the “Christian thing to do.” (Quinn obviously must have a unique gloss on the statement of Christ, “Suffer the little children…”.) Continue reading
Just so we’re clear, if this guy wins the Republican nomination, I walk:
Mitt Romney was firm and direct with the abortion rights advocates sitting in his office nine years ago, assuring the group that if elected Massachusetts governor, he would protect the state’s abortion laws.
Then, as the meeting drew to a close, the businessman offered an intriguing suggestion — that he would rise to national prominence in the Republican Party as a victor in a liberal state and could use his influence to soften the GOP’s hard-line opposition to abortion.
He would be a “good voice in the party” for their cause, and his moderation on the issue would be “widely written about,” he said, according to detailed notes taken by an officer of the group, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.
“You need someone like me in Washington,” several participants recalled Romney saying that day in September 2002, an apparent reference to his future ambitions.
Romney made similar assurances to activists for gay rights and the environment, according to people familiar with the discussions, both as a candidate for governor and then in the early days of his term.
People can change their minds on an issue, and if Mitt Romney has had a genuine change of heart on abortion, then that’s great. But how can anyone possibly trust this man? He’s a chameleon who changes his tune to suit his audience.
On the other hand, though Rick Santorum is not my first choice at the moment, he’s the only candidate who puts social issues first on his website. He’s by far the most passionate defender of the unborn we have in this race, if not the country.
Time magazine, anyone still reading it?, has a truly despicable piece by Bruce Crumley in which he basically says that “they had it coming” after a French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, was firebombed:
Okay, so can we finally stop with the idiotic, divisive, and destructive efforts by “majority sections” of Western nations to bait Muslim members with petulant, futile demonstrations that “they” aren’t going to tell “us” what can and can’t be done in free societies? Because not only are such Islamophobic antics futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy in the name of common good. What common good is served by creating more division and anger, and by tempting belligerent reaction?
The difficulty in answering that question is also what’s making it hard to have much sympathy for the French satirical newspaper firebombed this morning, after it published another stupid and totally unnecessary edition mocking Islam. The Wednesday morning arson attack destroyed the Paris editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo after the paper published an issue certain to enrage hard-core Islamists (and offend average Muslims) with articles and “funny” cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed—depictions forbidden in Islam to boot. Predictably, the strike unleashed a torrent of unqualified condemnation from French politicians, many of whom called the burning of the notoriously impertinent paper as “an attack on democracy by its enemies.”
We, by contrast, have another reaction to the firebombing: Sorry for your loss, Charlie, and there’s no justification of such an illegitimate response to your current edition. But do you still think the price you paid for printing an offensive, shameful, and singularly humor-deficient parody on the logic of “because we can” was so worthwhile? If so, good luck with those charcoal drawings your pages will now be featuring. Continue reading