Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Post SOTU Letter to My Congress Critter--Mimi Walters

Dear Representative Walters:

First I must extend to you my congratulations on your election to and service in the 114th Congress of the United States. I hope you serve well and honorably and do well by your constituents and by the Nation.
I watched the SOTU last night and I was impressed not just with the President's presentation but also by the dignity exhibited by your caucus. Your Members were for the most part dignified and pretty well behaved given their behavior in recent prior years.
What I am bothered about is that the Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader have taken upon themselves to wander off into the political territory generally occupied by Article 2 of our Constitution e
xecuting the powers of the Executive. I fully understand that the House and the Senate exercise lawful control over the Hill and it is within its rights to invite whomever it wishes to invite to speak to it. However such invitations should have at least some governmental and public purpose to them and the consequent disruption of their primary purpose, providing for the legislative governance of the Nation. The invitation extended to the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamen Netanyahu seems totally devoid of any public purpose or to accomplish anything of benefit given the duty of the Congress to work towards not only protecting the “state of the union” but also furthering the Founders' purpose of ensuring a “more perfect” one.
Mr. Netanyahu is regarded by many intelligent and thoughtful people both in and outside government to be a terrorist and a practitioner of state sanctioned terrorism. One only needs to recall the events between Israel and Gaza during the past year to recall acts of barbarism and terrorism on his part.
For Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell to invite Netanyahu to address the Congress for no good reason other than to embarrass the President of the United States is truly beyond the pale constitutionally and gives at least tacit support to the wrongful acts of Israel and its prime minister. I urge you to publicly disavow the action of your leaders.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Butchering Inconvenient People

Last night I watched a real union thug, not the imaginary ones invented by GOP politicians, on MSNBC defend the murder of a twelve year old boy cut down by other thugs for hanging out in a public park and doing things that twelve year old boys do and have done for millenia, going on imaginary adventures.
The 'union thug' was Jeffrey Follmer who is the president of the Cleveland PD's patrolman protective association and himself a low ranking patrol officer for the that city's police department. This is the same Cleveland that the US Department of Justice has strongly criticized as having a policy of deadly force use so terrible that the DOJ wants to have a receiver appointed by the federal courts to run that department. The DOJ inquiry was itself invited by the mayor of Cleveland who himself is horrified by the policies of his own police department. Apparently Follmer has great support within the department.
Thug Follmer's claim to fame is that he was infuriated by the Cleveland NFL franchise and he had demanded an apology for players wearing tee shirts supportive of Tamir Rice and John Crawford, twelve and twenty-two years of age respectively who were gunned down by Ohio “peace officers” who did not even make pro forma attempts to contact Tamir or Crawford before executing them. Their first and only contact with these two was to fire bullets into their bodies. Both were described only by the 'citizen informants' as black males in possession of guns. Apparently those officers knew (or thought they knew) all that was necessary to find them guilty of being scary dangerous people. It is apparently open season on black males in Ohio. Interaction between police in Ohio and black citizens is almost uniformly fatal to black males. So much for Equal Protection of the Law.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bolt Guns as Euthanasia

More information has come to light on the slaughter and butchering of Marius the young healthy giraffe killed Sunday by the Copenhagen Zoo in order to protect the genetic purity of its herd of giraffes. The Zoo contends in its defense that this final solution was necessary to ensure he didn't pass his genes on later generations. The Zoo claims that Marius was euthanized. However it has come to light that he was 'euthanized' by the use of a device called variously a bolt gun and a captive bolt gun. The latter is more descriptive of the process of 'euthanizing' the soon to be dead creature. The captive bolt gun does not actually kill its victim. It is analogous to the use of a sledge hammer. It does not shoot anything into the brain, the bolt is held captive by the gun and is reused again and again.
The gun was invented in 1903 and is used in slaughterhouses to stun and concuss the animal before it is skinned and dismembered. The device is powered by either compressed gas or by a blank set off by a firing pin which slams a bolt toward the forehead of the creature being turned into hamburger or in this case lion food. It does not kill the creature it merely causes a skull fracture and a consequent concussion and a lack of consciousness.
In simple English what this means is Marius was hit in the forehead by a piece of metal hard enough to cause him to black out or simply to see stars, we don't know which since this device has not yet been tested on the director of the Copenhagen Zoo. Immediately thereafter and presumably while still alive Marius was skinned and the process of butchering him begun. I am amazed at the abuse of the English language that occurs when this process is called euthanasia.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Butchering an Inconvenient Giraffe

Marius, a healthy 2-year-old male giraffe living at the Copenhagen Zoo has been euthanized; his body cut up and fed to the lions” so wrote National Public Radio this morning on its website. Those are pretty shocking words to hear or read. Euthanized? Really? What on earth was good about this death? That was a totally inappropriate word to use about this horrible event. The animal was killed. That animal was killed impliedly in public view of spectators and television cameras according to the author of the article. The giraffe was then skinned and butchered and fed to the Zoo's lion pride. I wonder if the Zoo was crass enough to sell tickets to this savage spectacle.
According to the article there was no room in the herd for this beautiful creature. They didn't want to give him away or lend him to some other zoo. They turned down offers to care for the creature. They turned down an offer from an undisclosed private person to pay the zoo almost seven hundred thousand dollars for the creature. That may or may not have a good decision. However declining that offer did not leave the Copenhagen Zoo with no alternatives other than slaughtering and butchering the animal for the benefit of the Zoo's lion pride. The justifications for the slaughter of the giraffe urged by the Copenhagen Zoo are almost laughable though. Preservation of the integrity of the gene pool could have been accomplished simply by excising the creature's testicles or otherwise preventing him from breeding. Removing him from the Zoo's herd and still preserving genetic diversity could have been accomplished simply by transferring it intact to another facility where his genes could be passed into another genetic pool. That would preserve some amount of diversity in the pool and prevent the donee institution from perhaps slaughtering one of its giraffes for the reasons urger in Copenhagen.
After reading the article and comments of Zoo management I am left with the feeling that this creature was slaughtered and butchered simply for the convenience of the Zoo or that the Zookeeper is truly a psychopathic personalty.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Chemical Plot Thickens in West Virginia

Freedom Industries Inc (“FF Inc”) at 1:25 pm Eastern time today filed an emergency petition under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. It is an incomplete filing and not much can be determined from the documents at this point. FF Inc now known as the Debtor and probably soon to be known as the Debtor in Possession must file the balance of the documents no later than January 31st unless the Debtor for good cause shown on motion receives an extension of that requirement from the bankruptcy judge assigned to the case. Failure to file the missing documents is grounds for dismissal and the clerk is authorized to dismiss the case if there is no filing by the due date. For some reason the filing information and the docket sheet do not disclose the name of the bankruptcy judge assigned to the case. The case number is 2:14-bk-20017.
The name of the Debtor is Freedom Industries, Inc. It is a West Virginia corporation. The debtor has filed an entire slew of 'first day motions' such as for leave to pay employees and to pay benefits and such other things this is always done on the day the case is filed. I have not reviewed those motions yet at any great length. There will be plenty of time to do this since this is only the first day of what will probably be a very long process. One interesting motion filed today as one of those First Day Motions is one authorizing the Debtor to use existing “cash management, bank accounts and forms” as it continues its operations. This is somewhat unusual since the law normally requires the Debtor to close all his bank accounts open at the time of the filing and to open new accounts in an approved bank showing the case number of the bankruptcy filing and that the Debtor company is the Debtor in Possession. I am mildly interested in the “whys” of this motion.
The president of FF Inc is one Gary Southern who apparently is one of the founders of the company. Recently it was taken over by another company called Chemstream Holdings LLC which is listed on the corporate ownership declaration filed in this case as the owner of one hundred percent of FF Inc's stock. A company with a similarly named entity Chemstream Inc. is listed on FF's list of its “20 Largest Creditors” which was filed today in the case. There is no information other than the address of the creditor in Storystown PA and the amount of the claim against the debtor which is shown as $175.566.75 set out on this document This is not inappropriate since the form and rule under which it is filed does not require any further detail. More will be known about this after Creditor Schedules are filed in this case in two weeks.
Expect more over this weekend as the documents are reviewed by me and other curious people and, since this filing is in response to a newsworthy event, the poisoning of 300,000 West Virginians by FF's leaky 35000 gallon storage tank containing MEBS, when news media start talking in earnest about this case.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Coming Changes in Marijuana Policy

When I first began practicing law I spent a lot of time in criminal courts all over southern California and in some places not in southern California. I was hungry and there was money to be made, justice to be done. I spent a lot time doing minor drug cases most of which were pot cases. On one occasion early on I remember being in a courtroom waiting for my case to be called. I was brought up to attention when the court called the case of one of the sons of a prominent California officeholder. I listened intently to the colloquies between the DA and defendant's lawyer. It was a discussion about terminating proceedings and sending the defendant off to drug school and bringing him back in a year or so and dismissing the case when he comes back to court. That was my very first exposure to pre-trial drug diversion for minor drug cases that had heretofore been treated as serious life changing felonies. That also marked the beginning of the changes in California law that ultimately resulted in the1996 passing by the electorate of the Compassionate Use Act which created the affirmative defense of a treating physician's recommendation. In the almost 18 years since its enactment it has created a booming new industry in California the medical marijuana industry. California may yet join the company of Washington and Colorado by the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. We shall see.
Colorado's model for legalization is an integrated model in which 70% of what each retailer sells must be produced on site. This has not yet been called the Tenant Farmer model but that is really what it is. One of the consequences of this regulation seems to me to result in an artificial shortage and consequently higher prices to the consumer. Perhaps allowing a retailer to sell up to 30% from non on-site sources is an attempt to ameliorate that economic fact of life. Colorado's scheme went into effect on January first and by all accounts was a bigger success than the first days of signup for the ACA. It will be fun to see how Washington handles the distribution issue later in the year when its system goes live.
Washington's model is more like California's alcohol model of the package store in which alcohol of mostly any brand and type is available for purchase. This plan would seem to be one that may result in cheaper prices for the consumer. However we should note that part of selling point in the legalization of recreational mota was the pocket book.
Both states share a single problem. That problem is how do we collect the taxes? Who is ultimately responsible to pay the taxes? There are a couple of models. The excise tax model in which the tax is imposed on the manufacturer and it is recovered by the seller by folding this tax and some administration fees into the price of commodity like the federal excise tax on automobile tires is one that may be used by Colorado. Another example of the excise tax model is the proof based tax on beverage alcohol paid to the federal government by a distiller of liquor. Then there is the transaction-based tax more commonly called the “sales and use tax” model. Under this model the ultimate consumer is liable to pay directly the sales or use tax imposed on the commodity. This tax is generally collected by the seller and remitted to the tax collector at regular intervals.
There is nothing to prevent either of those two states, Colorado or Washington from using one or the other method other than some proscriptions in the Constitution that forbids taxation of goods made in another and forbidding excise taxes or 'imposts' on the goods of another state. Thus neither Colorado nor Washington could tax the mota produced in the other state simply because it was produced elsewhere. There is also nothing to prevent either state from utilizing a double taxation scheme. Either or both of them could impose both an excise tax on each pound (or other unit) produced and a percentage based tax on the transaction with the ultimate consumer. Greed is not an unheard of phenomenon.
Once the federal government comes to its senses about the issue of marijuana (misspelled by the feds as “marihuana” because of the lack of Spanish language skills of a congressional clerk) and realize what the phrase “the marijuana industry is a $25 billion underground economy” means it will join the feeding frenzy also.
There is one issue that all of us should be concerned about and that is the danger that the new lawful industry in states doesn't end up becoming monopolized by large corporations so that Americans are forced to buy prepackaged mota from only specified and licensed providers. There needs to be some sort of safety valve because a monopolized industry is always bad economically and qualitatively for the consumer. If you doubt this look at your utility bills including your cable and internet bills and you will instantly see what I mean. This problem bothers me a lot. The only way I can see to solve this problem in these opening years of a new economy for mutual benefit is to permit each person to grow a certain amount of marijuana for his or her own personal or household use and for gifting purposes.
I suppose we shall see what we shall see once the lobbyists and special interests are heard from.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

West Virginia's Response to the Newest Chamical Disaster

The recent MEBS spill on the banks of the Elk River is the third environmental chemical disaster to occur in West Virginia in the last five years.
The first occurred in 2008 at the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute West Virginia. There was an explosion of a chemical waste tank containing chemicals used in fertilizers and pesticides in which two people lost their lives. The investigation went on for the better part of two years and resulted in 2010 of recommendations for better safety rules, set backs from water courses and better oversight of chemical facilities operating in West Virginia. In that same year in Belle West Virginia there was a release of toxic gas from a Dupont chemical plant that resulted in the death of one worker.
Again everyone consulted together. There were meetings after meetings and plans were drafted in the hope this would “never happen again.” These plans were polished and run by or perhaps even written by lobbyists for the chemical and mining industries that dominate the economy and politics of the Mountain State. The state's official motto (by act of its legislature) is the snappy Montani Semper Liberi which is roughly rendered in English as “Mountain Men are Always Free.” Apparently mountain men and women are not free from being poisoned by chemical explosions, leaks, and the poisoning of the state's somewhat potable water supply but they are free from those oppressive job killing regulations so hated by GOP congress critters and their pet tea baggers.. The current president of the West Virginia Senate told two reporters for the New York Times that the measure died because no one championed it in the Senate. No one championed it? Is he kidding? What do Mountain state legislators champion and enact in to law? State mottoes, state animals, state fish and state minerals? But they can not get reasonable health and safety laws enacted because no member has championed it? That says a lot about the state's legislature and the creatures inhabiting it.
Well here we are again. It's 2013 and another environmental disaster has occurred in  Somalia West. This disaster has affected some 300,000 customers of a for-profit run from New Jersey seller of domestic water service. Everyone has jumped on the band wagon this time for sure. Even the US Attorney for the southern district of West Virginia, R. Booth Goodwin II, is investigating this time in order to determine if any laws of the US have been violated in this latest disaster. On January 10th Mr. Goodwin released the following statement to the press on this latest disaster:
“Yesterday’s release of a potentially dangerous chemical into our water supply has put hundreds of thousands of West Virginians at risk, severely disrupted our region’s economy, and upended people’s daily lives. My office and other federal law enforcement authorities have opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the release. We will determine what caused it and take whatever action is appropriate based on the evidence we uncover.
I sure hope Mr. Goodwin has run that statement by the people and corporations that actually run West Virginia before making it. What will be the result of this investigation of this disaster? More meetings, more pressers, more smoke? More mirrors? More pollution and more coming environmental disasters is my guess. I am sorry to say that this will soon be forgotten and things will return to business as usual in the Mountain state.