Category Archives: Uncategorized

Short Take: Nothing To Hide

Maybe Idris Elba will play a lawyer in the movies, but he’s not one for real, no matter how sexy he is. That didn’t stop him from parroting the same simplistic slogan that cops have used forever to persuade people from refusing to consent.

British actor and 2018 “sexiest man alive” Idris Elba recently told The Sunday Times that the #MeToo movement is “only difficult if you’re a man with something to hide.” Vanity Fair contrasted Elba’s uncompromising stance with remarks made by Matt Damon and Henry Cavill, who both had to walk back their criticisms of #MeToo’s potential excesses and their perceived sympathy for accused men.

The appeal of the simplistic is undeniable. Short. Pithy. The sort of “answer” anyone, no matter how mind-numbingly shallow, can grasp. Continue reading

Judge Aquilina’s 156 Errors

While she never got that television show of her own, she did get to see her name emblazoned across the screen on Saturday Night Live and was interviewed on the Today Show. Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina was a star.

[Aquilina] told Today Show hosts Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie that she was surprised and pleased by how much the world took notice of Nassar’s case.

“This is a world-wide epidemic,” she said Monday. “It opened the world to say ‘me too, let’s start the discussion,’ which should have happened years ago and this (the widespread abuse by Nassar) never would have happened.”

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WaPo’s Alternative To Cross

Compromise is one of those words that feels good, because it seems as if it’s always more reasonable to be, well, more reasonable. Except when invoking the brilliance of King Solomon, people often forget that the entire point of “splitting the baby” was that it would end up killing the baby. It wasn’t really an invitation to compromise, but a test of who cared enough to save the baby from certain death.

In an editorial at the Washington Post on the proposed Title IX regulations, the brain trust addresses a concern that a system providing minimal due process will serve to dissuade victims from coming forward.

At the same time, though, there are ill-advised revisions that are cause for legitimate concern because of the chilling effect they would have on the willingness of students to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct.

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Not Worth Killing

The video of cops pulling her one-year-old son from Jazmine Headley’s arms, while another held onlookers at bay with her Taser, generated well-deserved outrage. The “offense” for which security guards in the SNAP office called in muscle was Headley’s sitting on the floor. To the extent there was any defense to the police conduct, it was that she was doing something she shouldn’t have been doing, and what else were they to do?

This rhetorical question, “what else were they to do,” has plagued criminal law and its reformers. There are rules by which society runs, some dealing with serious matters of life and death, others utterly banal, just random rules for their own sake.

As people fail to be as orderly as others want them to be, the question of how to deal with it short of a scene like this, risking maiming a baby over the grievous offense of floor-sitting, or more likely, refusing to be compliant with security guards who demand in impolite terms that you cease your grievous floor-sitting.

Conor Friedersdorf takes on the question. Continue reading

A Grand Futile Gesture

The New York Times has an excellent op-ed about how the internet, Dr. Google, spreads fake medical information that puts lives at risk.*

While misinformation has been the object of great attention in politics, medical misinformation might have an even greater body count. As is true with fake news in general, medical lies tend to spread further than truths on the internet — and they have very real repercussions.

We all knew the internet had the capacity to spread misinformation as well as reliable information. What we didn’t know, way back when, was whether people would be capable of distinguishing between the two. In contrast to the outliers, crazies and liars deliberately trying to scam people, some tried to provide sound information. After all, if the only information available on the internet was fake, then what else could people find? Continue reading

Informer 3838 Had Strong Feelings And A Lot To Tell

Had she been working off a case, having gotten caught for her own misdeed and doing what she could to save her own skin, there might have been some comfort taken in the parity of scoundrels. After all, there is no honor among thieves, so it would have been entirely understandable for one person devoid of integrity to save her own skin at the expense of another.

But that wasn’t the case at all, and her decision to become Informer 3838 was one of conscience.

In what is considered one of Victoria’s biggest legal scandals, it was revealed on Monday morning that the female criminal barrister, who operated as Informer 3838 from 2005 to 2009, gave police information about hundreds of criminals.
Some of the criminals were on the lawyer’s own client list and among the biggest names in Australia’s underworld, including jailed drug lord Tony Mokbel and his associate, drug trafficker Rob Karam.

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Short Take: Apple Warming

No one has studied this phenomenon, per se, but I bet if you surveyed the cellphone in the hip pockets of protesters against global warming, you would find that most have an iPhone. The same would likely be the case at a protest for pay inequality, even Occupy Wherever. So much for reading the box in which the beloved Apple device came.

Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.

The New York Times tells of Steve Jobs’ dreams crushed by the failure to establish manufacturing in the United States. Continue reading

Empathy, For Real

Way back, long before people proved their empathy by twitting “hopes and prayers” or condemning the unwoke for using offensive language like “hysterical,” empathy wasn’t something you signaled to your followers but actually did in real life. In 2007, I explained my take on charity.

Charity is giving something of significance without the expectation of anything in return.  Not recognition.  Not even a thank you.  It is giving for its own sake.

The phrase “virtue signalling” has become a ubiquitous insult, and with good reason. If the best you can manage is to twit empathetic phrases on the twitters or Facebook, then you’re just another scoundrel faking your empathy without actually helping anyone. Yes, I get it, spreading the word is itself virtuous as it gets others to similarly spread the word, and the word gets spread and spread, all the while no one ever doing much of anything other than spreading the word. Continue reading

Progressive unTaxing

There are two lessons that must be retaught every time a change is made to locales that tax based on the market value of real property. The first is that people don’t have a firm grasp of how taxes are assessed. The second is that people burned by the reassessment, meaning that their taxes will increase, will be outraged.

Nassau County, New York, is engaged in a reassessment, necessitated by myriad failures, both political and factual, but driven by a billion dollar hole produced by successful tax grievances that had to be repaid. The irony here is that half the billion went neither to the county nor the taxpayers, but to the cottage industry of tax grievance representatives, who took a 50% cut of the taxes they saved residents.

When people’s real estate taxes went up, they blamed the county, assuming it reflected a tax increase rather than a redistribution of taxes. In fairness, Nassau County real estate taxes are astronomical, but most of that is based on local school taxes, where per-pupil-spending exceeds $20,000. But since the county handles the assessment, how the pain is spread out comes back to the county, and makes the county the butt of ire. Continue reading