Sunday, April 30, 2006


VIA Breitbart, AP informs us Keith Richards of Rolling Stones fame has been injured while climbing a tree…

“Keith Richards Hospitalized in New Zealand”

Unofficial but impeccable sources among The Possum’s fellow tree-climbing wildlife relate Richards had lost touch with his inner monkey, which he was pursuing up a palm tree when he fell.

The fate of his monkey is unknown… It was last seen ducking into a bar in the Wakaya Club resort on Fiji island…

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Well it’s official… Tony Snow, that well-known, well-worn feature of FoxNews, will be the new White House Press Secretary:

“Tony Snow Named White House Press Secretary”,2933,193176,00.html

It was announced by a smirking Commander in Chief personally… You know he did this just to piss off liberals…

Oh well. At least it isn’t Sean Hannity… Or Rush Limbaugh…

Meanwhile, over at Think Progress, not a second has been lost in launching the first salvoes… Apparently it’s time to make Tony eat some words…

“Tony Snow On President Bush: ‘An Embarrassment,’ ‘Impotent,’ ‘Doesn’t Seem To Mean What He Says’”

You get the idea… At least it’ll make for lively press conferences. Welcome to the chopping block, Tony! You’re the first neck in line!


Monday, April 24, 2006


VIA The Statesman Journal AP relates the tale of three spurned lovers:

“Three teenagers hire out a beating of boyfriend, deputies say”

I was surprised this was a crime in Milwaukee, Oregon… Then I realized they hired it out…

They should have beat him themselves… Then they could have had him arrested for domestic violence…

Friday, April 21, 2006


The BBC reports on a study answering one of life’s great questions:

“Sex cues ruin men's decisiveness”

According to the study, men are distracted by anything to do with sex…

Whoda thunk it?

It’s amazing… Even taking into account this is a British study it’s truly amazing what some people get to study… It’s even more amazing what some people can find study funding for… And supremely amazing that they get paid to do these studies!

What I want to know is where can I find a job like that? I’d like to study whether or not there is a “distraction gap” between Republicans and Democrats…

Anyone willing to write my grant?

Thursday, April 20, 2006


My blogging colleague, moderate in training Karl at Leaning Straight Up, offers counterpoint to my arguments yesterday for the 9th circuit Court’s recent decision granting homeless persons in Los Angeles a stay of enforcement from the city’s draconian “loitering” ordinance:

“9th Circus…err…Circuit Court rules in favor of vagrancy”

» 9th Circus…err…Circuit Court rules in favor of vagrancy » Leaning Straight Up » Blog Archive »

Karl, I’d like to offer a few points for your consideration:

First, I note you are not linking the decision. Did you invest the effort in reading it and understanding it, as I did? I suspect not... More on that later...

And I see you are implying I am being heavy-handed with “Officer Dunby”… I’m “unfair,” you assert. Fair? Where we go to look at bunnies? Am I unfair? I think not…

On the issue of my suggestion Officer Dunby should “find a new job:”

I long considered adding those two last paragraphs and decided in balance they belonged there BECAUSE, as you apparently have, "Officer Dunby" ignored the decision in favor of his own unleavened views. In fact, as I pointed out, Dunby, possibly deliberately, misconstrued the decision. In a sense Dunby is like a general in a war. If he can no longer follow his leaders, he should resign. Especially if he feels compelled to lie - I won't minimize this - about the court's decision he is out of order. There are too many people, including bloggers like yourself, who will read his well-written piece, look at his badge and length of service... and be fooled. Misrepresenting the court is unforgivable.

Furthermore, if the man is this one-sided in his views, how can he be trusted in the clinches? I intuit a man so frustrated he could crack... Like the next time he is called "pig"... after he roughs up "a bum."

Do you want another Rodney King? Even if, as many say, King had it coming, do you want the LAPD dispensing summary justice? I think that's where Dunby is heading, based on his tone, his views, and his apparent self-need to misrepresent FACT.

As I say, I was conflicted on this matter. A little personal mea culpa... No, this isn't another revelation of an unsavory past like Daniel is Right was forced into.... More an admission of a sheltered past:

I have never been near anything like this. In fact, I have never lived in a town larger than 30,000. Things like Skid Row are beyond my experience. But a “thought experiment:”

The small town I live near has about 12,000 people. It could be divided into thirds, a central third on a bay with the other two-thirds on a low plateau, surrounding like a horseshoe. The central third is about the same size as LA’s Skid Row. So, take the whole population, cram them into 1/3 the space, and make a thousand of them sleep on the street. Now, assume some are criminal predators, some are addicts, some are fugitives... Some are loons...

All are still human, entitled to a minimum of respect. Dunby deals with that. He ought to be frustrated.

Disclaimer - I have some legal training - I AM NOT an authority!

When I read the decision - and I mean I put time into it - I read the dissent first. I was pretty much on board until I read the prevailing opinion. The dissenter, like Dunby, clearly mis-construed issues of fact in at least two precedential cases, and this was crucial to the issue. I think J Rymer, the dissenting judge, went into the case with his mind made up. He went after everything, including standing, and some of his points made sense in a very narrow way. But he ignored the larger issues of justice. I'm not going to reprint the whole 87 pages, but in short the issue is whether or not being homeless is avoidable. A secondary issue was whether or not the laws as written contain recourse.

The case was argued using the 8th amendment, which has long been interpreted as having three clauses. Aside: The dissenting judge suggested it was a 14th amendment case - one of his objections... Two of the clauses apply only after conviction. The lower courts and the dissent insisted on arguing the case should be judged based on the first two clauses. I find with the majority - the third clause applies to "what can be made a criminal offense." Thus the dispute over interpretation of the Ingraham and Robinson cases was crucial to the issue - both cases centered on involuntary acts.

Do you understand injunctive relief? It's a concept that dates back to the Normans - something else you can blame the French for - and it is invoked to prevent "irremediable harm" which is "immediate" and where "no other recourse" exists. It is just a stay of action, which is what the plaintiffs won. And the stay was very narrow...


The 8th amendment, by accepted precedent in Robinson, proscribes punishment for involuntary acts. Under the circumstances - living in LA with no reasonable shelter alternative - sleeping on the sidewalk became involuntary. Do these people have a "right" to be in LA? Nobody has addressed this matter. But it is assumed they do. Collaterally, is being indigent "involuntary?" It was assumed that in at least some cases this is true, and all three judges agreed. Testimony backed the assertion. The immediate harm suffered was the plaintiff's losing all their possessions upon arrest - an immediate and irrevocable harm. Frankly, this was the key issue to me. The likelihood of this occurring again and again conferred standing.

Recourse? Recourse only applied post-conviction, a distinction the dissent refused to acknowledge. There is the necessity defense:

"A court must instruct the jury on the necessity defense if there is evidence sufficient to establish that defendant violated the law (1) to prevent a significant evil, (2) with no adequate alternative, (3) without creating a greater danger than the one avoided, (4) with a good faith belief in the necessity, (5) with such belief being objectively reasonable, and (6) under circumstances in which he did not substantially contribute to the emergency."

But this doesn't apply before the fact, when the harm occurred.

It was also argued the defendants couldn't prove injury because they couldn't prove there was no shelter available at the time of arrest. The majority was convinced by evidence provided by surveys that Los Angeles has a constant shortage of emergency shelter. This was another issue the dissent misconstrued, claiming, incorrectly, and frivolously, I think - Los Angeles wasn't part of the surveyed population when it clearly was.

So, not to drag this out:

The defense established standing by demonstrating a harm likely to be repeated in the future. They demonstrated the harm was irremediable in current law - that no recourse existed - and that it was immediate. They demonstrated the harm was contrary to precedent - it was a necessary part of an involuntary status, unprosecutable under the 8th amendment. It was further agreed by all that the necessity defense would nullify the convictions, but that didn't bear on the harm of losing possessions, etc.


The Court allowed a stay in the Skid Row area only, from 9PM to 6:30AM. Anywhere else, and at any other time, officer Dunby and his cronies can roust to their heart's content.

I think this was a good decision.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Writing for National Review Online under the pseudonym “Jack Dunby,” an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department comments on the recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court granting injunctive relief against a Los Angeles city ordinance criminalizing sitting, lying, or sleeping on sidewalks or other public places:

“The Constitutional Right to Be a Bum”

To the author’s credit, he provided links to both opinions in the 2-1 decision. The 47 page majority decision:$file/0455324.pdf?openelement

And the 25 page minority opinion:$file/0455324d.pdf?openelement

I recommend reading both, along with Officer Dunby’s interpretation.

The facts behind the issue are sickening. Los Angeles County is home to tens of thousands of homeless persons – it is estimated that the homeless population exceeds available accommodations by at least 50,000.  “Skid Row” in Los Angeles is, according to the Court’s documentation, a fifty-square block district wherein live as many as 12,000 people. According to the Court, the City, since the mid 1970’s, has encouraged the concentration of the homeless in this area by concentrating homeless services in the district. Today, shelters and low-rent rooms in the district provide beds for about 10,000 persons. Most of the people who live in the district spend at least some time every month sleeping on the streets. Generally, if a person is taken into police custody – for whatever reason – the direct, immediate result is losing everything they own, since the arresting officers make no effort to secure the detainee’s meager belongings.

Officer Dunby characterizes Skid Row as “an underworld far beyond your worst imaginings”… and a “frothing maelstrom of depravity”… while insisting “The population of Skid Row in Los Angeles can be categorized as follows: the addicted, the crazy, and the lazy. In more than 20 years with the LAPD, many of them spent working in and around Skid Row, I've encountered only a handful of the truly unfortunate”…

The Court, in Officer Dunby’s view, by accepting the plaintiffs' “sob stories,” is demonstrating “a degree of gullibility troubling to find in those entrusted with high office.” Dunby insists “If these woeful tales are indeed true, then the plaintiffs are the only six people on Skid Row who are truly involuntarily homeless.” Ignoring the dearth of available housing, Dunby insists “You could have all the shelters you like on Skid Row… but if they all enforced those pesky prohibitions against the various vices there would still be a substantial number of bums out on the streets enjoying a life unconstrained by expectations that they behave themselves.”

I can’t help but intuit that the man is supremely frustrated… Frustrated to the point he deliberately mis-characterizes the decision. Summing the situation, Officer Dunby opines: “Thus, if the city cannot provide a bed for every last bum on the street, it is enjoined from arresting those who make their home on the sidewalks.”

Yet the actual decision plainly states the opposite:

“By our decision, we in no way dictate to the City that it must provide sufficient shelter for the homeless, or allow anyone who wishes to sit, lie, or sleep on the streets of Los Angeles at any time and at any place within the City. All we hold is that, so long as there is a greater number of homeless individuals in Los Angeles than the number of available beds, the City may not enforce section 41.18(d) at all times and places throughout the City against homeless individuals for involuntarily sitting, lying, and sleeping in public. Appellants are entitled at a minimum to a narrowly tailored injunction against the City’s enforcement of section 41.18(d) at certain times and/or places.”

I think Dunby is dead wrong. Although I am not qualified to have an opinion, I find the majority’s reasoning and interpretation of precedent more logical and compelling than the dissent.

And I find it a lot more human than the views of this obviously jaded, overly-judgmental cop.

Dunby implies the Court has created “a Constitutional right to be a bum.” I demur. What the Court has affirmed is a Constitutional right to BE. One of the freedoms a free society guarantees is the freedom to fail – fail, and try again, or not. When the city sweeps up people who have nowhere to go, treating them like garbage, causing them to lose everything they own, the city accomplishes nothing except perpetuation of the problem…

Its job security for the “Dunby’s” of the world, I suppose…

To which I would like to offer a bit of advice:

Get a new job. You and those of your fellows who stand with you on this. If this is an example of your approach to policing, you aren’t doing society any good. If you can no longer distinguish compassion from surrender, get a new job. If you can no longer support the Court but rather insist on mischaracterizing its decisions publicly, get a new job.

And the next time somebody calls you “pig,” consider for a moment they may have a point…

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


USA posted an in-house analysis of likely changes in abortion statutes in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned:

“'Roe v. Wade': The divided states of America”

If nothing else they have a nice map…

The article does a fairly good job of stating the obvious: As a lot of us have pointed out, a Roe reversal would likely turn a single national debate into 50 state debates with various resolutions – unless, of course, the Federal Congress acts on the matter…

Several states have already passed “what if” legislation - some designed to protect abortion, others to restrict or even criminalize it. And already new, unexpected players have entered the game…

Abortion access… The new board game…

South Dakota, where abortion bans have been legislatively popular for some time, was first to test the new Supreme Court waters by recently enacting a very strict abortion ban. Soon after, the President of the Oglala Sioux Nation, Cecelia Fire Thunder, announced the Sioux will, in the event that South Dakota’s ban becomes enforceable, open it’s own Planned Parenthood clinic:

“Tribal leader rallies for abortion clinic on reservation”

This interesting development roused my curiosity…

Wikipedia provides another nice map – tribal holdings Nationwide:

What if you put them together? What if you assume the tribes respond as they have to other boneheaded moralizing bans of the larger Nation by turning them into a business opportunity? Those casinos may be sprouting a new wing or two…

Most reservations are in the west, which, according to USA Today is safely pro-choice in any event. But along with South Dakota, several states in the intermountain and plains regions are expected to enact restrictions ranging from moderate to complete.

South and west of the Dakotas, every state likely to enact bans except Texas has a significant reservation presence. Every state likely to enact restrictions except Nebraska has a significant reservation presence.

The rust belt is another stronghold of anti-abortion sentiment. Michigan and Wisconsin are likely to enact bans – but both states have numerous small reservation holdings.

Then there is the south – solidly anti-abortion according to USA Today. Florida and Mississippi have many reservations; the Carolinas, Louisiana, and Virginia have a few. And let’s not forget Jack Abramhoff’s old buddies on the Mississippi River… Floating abortion clinics, anyone???

A new business opportunity for the “perpetually depressed” First Americans’ economies… Clothed in social justice… Does it get any better?

Or worse, depending on your viewpoint… Jill Stanek, writing for WorldNetDaily, accuses the Sioux of abetting white supremacists in their own slaughter:

“Sioux tribe plans to scalp its own”

Downright vitriolic, Ms. Stanek is…

All of which is offered as a comment and a caution: No matter where this argument is steered and no matter by whom there will certainly be unexpected outcomes. Consider: South Dakota today only has one abortion clinic. If the State Legislature’s will becomes law, South Dakota will still have one abortion clinic… And it will be beyond the power of that legislature to affect…

But wait! Perhaps the legislature will order the South Dakota State Police to stop women at the reservation line for mandatory EPT’s!!! After all, if you really think its murder…

Expect anything, especially when government meddles in the ungovernable… Pregnant in Austin? Knocked up in Knoxville? 747 clinics, now departing Seattle with stops in all major cities! Fly OOPS Airlines, and lose your problem in flight!

You may soon be unable to separate parody from reality. And it may not be necessary…

Sunday, April 16, 2006


A little Republican-sponsored “charity” for your Easter weekend…

From The New York Times:

“Medicaid Hurdle for Immigrants May Hurt Others”

“More than 50 million Medicaid recipients will soon have to produce birth certificates, passports or other documents to prove that they are United States citizens, and everyone who applies for coverage after June 30 will have to show similar documents under a new federal law.
The requirement is meant to stop the "theft of Medicaid benefits by illegal aliens," in the words of Representative Charlie Norwood, Republican of Georgia, a principal author of the provision, which was signed into law by President Bush on Feb. 8.”

State governments will be denied federal Medicaid money unless they verify citizenship by checking documents like passports and birth certificates for people who receive or apply for Medicaid.

It is expected this new requirement will “save” the Federal government $220 million in the first five years and $735 million in ten…

Or, put another way, between $44 million and $73 million dollars a year… Out of a couple of trillion, more or less… WOW! That’ll put a dent in the $300+ billion dollar annual deficits!!!

Presumably the assumption underlying the “savings” is that between 44 and 73 million bucks a year is being stolen by illegal aliens in the form of undeserved benefits. Of course, the “savings” accrue to the Federal State, not society… Hospitals are legally and morally required to provide emergency treatment. You don’t need an MBA to see that uninsured people will still get sick and when they finally arrive on the doorstep of your community hospital their needs will be immediate… And very expensive…

And the unintended consequences of the measure for American citizens are uncertain. Obtaining birth certificates may be quite difficult for many poorer, older citizens…

Do you have a birth certificate?

A lot of people apparently don’t… Representative Norwood’s colleague in the Georgia delegation, John Lewis, Democrat, said: “"Many older Americans do not have birth certificates because their parents did not have access to hospitals, and so they were born at home. In the last century, all over the South, because of segregation and racial discrimination, many hospitals would not take minorities."”

Seconding the idea is the Arizona governor's health policy adviser, Anne M. Winter: “[the federal requirement] would "reduce or delay enrollment for eligible individuals, mostly U.S. citizens." In many cases, Ms. Winter said, "Native Americans — the first Americans — do not have the documents" required to show citizenship. In addition, she said, older Medicaid recipients with Alzheimer's disease or other mental impairments may not understand the requirement and may be unable to retrieve the documents they need.”

New Jersey’s Medicaid director, Ann Clemency Kohler, concurs: “"There are lots of reasons why people born here may not have copies of their birth certificates. And many people in their 80's and 90's just don't have a driver's license or a passport because they're not driving or traveling overseas."”

On the other hand, Ann Clemency Kohler’s Georgia colleague, Dr. Rhonda M. Medows, commissioner of the state's Department of Community Health, reports Georgia’s enforcement of a similar law, which began in January, has not caused serious problems…

Our Governor, Chris Gregoire, pretty much sums up the case against: “"This provision is misguided and will serve as a barrier to health care for otherwise eligible United States citizens"”…

The case for can be summed up simply: Fraud is illegal. Benefits paid to illegal aliens are fraudulently obtained. The government has an obligation to enforce the law. Furthermore, this measure may help to discourage illegal immigration…

All fine points, I think… Fine issues of eligibility and practicality, “liberally” sprinkled with the plight of the disadvantaged; “conservatively” defended as necessary for an orderly, legal, secure society…

$44 million to $73 million dollars a year… Or, put another way, an average of 20¢ a year for every American citizen…

Damn you, Representative Norwood, you cheap bastard – and damn all those who voted with you. What is the human cost of this symbolic tantrum you have thrown?

People who raise practical issues are almost certainly correct – there will be people who are not only entitled to benefits but even currently receiving them who will be threatened with losing the life-saving medical care that is their right. Some may even actually lose benefits. Thousands? Millions? of our most vulnerable citizens will be seriously inconvenienced if not outright terrified by the possibility of losing their benefits.

But let’s assume that doesn’t happen. Let’s assume every damn one of the 35,000 people The Congressional Budget Office expects will lose coverage by 2015 are ineligible, fraud perpetrating freeloaders who deserve to be caught.

Is it moral to turn America’s broad back on sick people we have the power to help? Is it moral to force this dilemma onto State and local agencies and community hospitals?

Is it prosecution of the law, or persecution of the person, when you turn away someone sick, desperate, and destitute enough to commit fraud to obtain medical care?

Is persecution ever moral?

Keep my 20¢ a year, Representative Cheap Bastard… I don’t want it. I don’t want your blood money this Easter.  

And keep the mantle once again earned for your party – and sadly for all America, this time - by the actions of your kind: Mean Spirited.

But please, stay out of church… The sight of seeing garbage like you praying will make us all sick…

Friday, April 14, 2006


This one’s downright amusing…

VIA Drudge, The Smoking Gun reports:

“Sex On Menu At Hooters?
Suit: Staff trainer suggested waitresses put out for extra bucks”

From the article:

“Jarman Gray, a former assistant manager of an Alabama Hooters, charges that he was fired last year after complaining about comments made to employees by a female "visiting training manager." In his April 7 U.S. District Court complaint, the 31-year-old Gray claims that a trainer named Cat told waitresses that they were "the ones with the pussys and you are in control because of that." Then she reportedly added, "If you need the extra money, go ahead and suck a dick or fuck a customer if the money is right."

Her given name was Alley, I expect…

But I must admit I’m confused… Mr. Gray’s original complaint centered on sexual harassment… I’ve never been to a Hooters, but I would have assumed sexual harassment was the whole idea of the enterprise…


Well, the spring rush is unwinding and the world marches on whether we have our noses to the grindstone, buried in a pillow, or glued to the ‘puter screen…

Marches or sings…

Via Editor & Publisher we have word Neil Young is set to release a new, very political album containing a little ditty about impeaching the President…

“Neil Young, Son of Famed Reporter, Records "Impeach the President" Song”

How about that… I didn’t know Neil is a son of a reporter… Maybe that’s just more evidence of a “liberal” gene…

Trembling yet, Mr. Bush?

Back in 1959 one of my favorite comedians, Tom Lehrer, Released an album entitled “An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer” which contained a song called “Folk Song Army.” It ended,

“We are the folk song army
Words are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war & injustice
Ready, aim, sing!”

Sing real loud, Neil… Just sing GWB right out of the White House!

Sometimes, the best part of the circus is found outside the big tent…

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