Immigration placeholders, juxtaposed for easy future reference

May 21 2010

First, a shameless visiting foreign politician, pandering to other shameless politicians, idiots, or both:

Next, a politician with the stones to call out said shameless visiting foreign politician, and his colleagues in Congress for their idiocy:

And there’s this – a certifiable moron, who actually makes Michael Savage sound reasonable by comparison, no small feat:

Salient points:

  • Immigration is not the same as illegal immigration.
  • Immigration without assimilation destroys countries.
  • Illegal immigrants have the right to be sent home, humanely & quickly, perhaps to get into line and become legal immigrants, at which point they’re welcome.
  • Be wary of anyone who conflates opposition to illegal immigration with racism, or with opposition to immigration itself. They’re trying to trick you, and intentionally or not, are trying to destroy this country.

Repeat – They’re trying to trick you. Don’t be tricked.



I suppose this should make me sad

Sep 17 2007

But it doesn’t. From a WSJ email, dispatched this evening to my inbox, this story:

NEWS ALERT
from The Wall Street Journal

Sept. 17, 2007

William Lerach is set to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy in the criminal case involving the noted securities lawyer’s former firm, now called Milberg Weiss LLP. The plea agreement, which calls for a one to two year prison term, could be announced as soon as Tuesday.

I’m all for protecting the common man, the common investor, and I’m nothing if not both of those things. However, while Milberg Weiss (…Bershad Hynes & Lerach) LLP has always claimed that their seldom-seemly, and often seedy, pursuit of class action lawsuits, against any company whose stock price took a noteworthy downturn, was for the public good, I’ve never been able to agree.

Not in my stance as a champion of the unfettered right of public companies to run roughshod over their investors, either. Because I have no such stance. Instead, my dim view of him and all who practice his kind of law is justified by standard tactics he and his partners (current and former) have used in pursuit of specious claims. Think “greenmail”, ala Carl Icahn and Boone Pickens in the 1980s – make life tough enough for someone, even someone who’s got no basis for having to defend their actions, and they’ll pay you to go away.

As referred to in an Los Angeles Business Journal article of Sep 3, 2007, Lerach is an “economic terrorist”, and I don’t think that’s too tough a characterization of him. As the article says:

Lerach, of course, did not invent but did perfect the securities class action lawsuit. In that scheme, most any company that sustained a stock drop, even if it had nothing to do with anything of consequence, often found itself the recipient of allegations of fraud in a Lerach-engineered lawsuit. Likewise, companies that announced most anything negative could get the same kind of lawsuit – often within hours of the announcement.

Lerach then pounded the company, using the discovery process to find some little scrap somewhere in some underling’s file drawer that “proved” the company knew that bad news could develop.

In other words, this guy, and all lawyers like him, specialized in swooping in any time there was even a flimsy pretext for doing so. I mean, there’s no way a stock could drop without malfeasance and lying on the part of management, right?

Well, no – that’s wrong. But Lerach, et al, after having put their lawsuit’s stake in the ground, would then embark on forced discovery at their target companies, essentially fishing around for a reason to justify their lawsuit.

And one doesn’t have to be a big-business apologist to find that sort of thing to be outside the bounds of fair and reasonable play.

Over the years, I’ve been the recipient of at least 50 securities class action solicitations. I received one just the other day, “In re CARDINAL HEALTH, INC. SECURITIES LITIGATION“. And while I almost never take the time to participate in these paper chases, I’ve always paid particular attention to any such action which has either “Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP” or any of the many versions of “Milberg Weiss +/-Bershad +/-Hynes +/-Lerach LLP” listed as the attorneys looking out for my “best interests”.

Because they don’t, they haven’t, and investors are simply a raw material for them and their business process. And I throw their solicitations away as soon as possible, to avoid stinking the house up.

His former partner Bershad has already pled, and if the news report is correct, Lerach’s getting ready to do the same. It’s not the Christian thing to say, but I’m not much of a Christian anyway, so I’ll hope that Milberg, Weiss, and all the rest be following them to the pokey soon after.



On Gonzales

Aug 27 2007

Gad, I hate to seem to mimic the style of the “lovely and talented” John Edwards’ campaign, but my reaction to this morning’s news that Alberto Gonzales is resigning was, roughly, “What took so long?”.

No shock, but he’s being run out of town on a rail. Not alone among those with an opinion on the matter, I only think it’s a shame that he’s being run out for all the wrong reasons. The US Attorney firings? Pfft. Not a big deal – he, and the White House, have been well within bounds on the firings themselves, as previously discussed. Severe missteps, such as the McNulty Memorandum, should be considered embarrassments to him and the department, but are just horrifically bad administration, not criminal acts. As also previously discussed, his timid, goofy, and cackhanded defense of his boss, his office, and himself has been so inept that it’s been embarrassing to watch.

Never one to favor viewing people humiliating themselves (and thus, my aversion to most forms of reality TV), it’s been a cringeworthy handful of months, and the ordeal will soon be over.

Based on the WSJ story linked above and other sources, it seems there’s a race to the bottom of the barrel in search of his replacement. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff? What an awful choice he’d be, and not just because he looks like a character who could have played alongside Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice. He’s not obviously competent, and while that would make him a perfect stand-in for Gonzales, it would seem that now, in the last 17 months of the Bush administration, they ought to attempt to at least raise their game at the Justice Department.

Chertoff, far more so than the other choices mentioned in the WSJ article (Mueller, Johnson), strikes me a choice only slightly better than dragging Harriet Miers back out of mothballs and propping her up for yet another position beyond her scope.

Also odd, there were several names in the version of the WSJ story made available this morning (the link above is to a front-page version in tomorrow’s print edition, but earlier today it was the breaking news version). Louis Freeh and Ted Olson were both mentioned, and either of them strikes me as a potentially apt choice, so it comes as no shock to find them no longer on the list, as reported by the WSJ. The IHT version of the story, available here, retains mention of Olson, but also omits Freeh.

Like Rove’s resignation, the Democrats seem to have plans to continue their chase, harrying him as best they can in search of crimes not committed. Life would, I think, be far easier for the Dems if they just took what Bushies hand them on a silver platter (incompetence, ham-fistedness, PR stone-deafness) and ran with it, rather than inventing new crusades on which to wander. But that’s just me.



A potential new item for Bud Light’s “Real Men of Genius” series

Jul 6 2007

I bring you David Gross of San Francisco, who not only:

…asked his bosses for a radical pay cut, enough so he wouldn’t have to pay taxes to support the war.

but

In any event, his employer turned him down and he quit.

Which, I guess, good for him, standing up for his convictions that way and all. Left unanswered, at least for now, is whether federal taxes are levied on the wages of “guests of the Federal Government”. Why would I be curious about that? Because

Gross, 38, now works on a contract basis, and last year he refused to pay self-employment taxes.

Pre-mug-shot

All by itself, that doesn’t distinguish him from a lot of people. The AP story notes that between 8 and 10 thousand people fail to pay their taxes for reasons similar to those of Gross. Contained in the story, at a meta-level, is the fact that this particular non-Rhodes Scholar allowed the AP to write a story about him evading taxes. Nothing like calling out the IRS by name to get them to leave you alone. Posing in two pre-mug shots for the story? A priceless addition, though I’m sure the Feds could already have found him whenever and wherever they needed to.

Of course, these days, he won’t end up becoming a guest of the Federal Government:

Unlike the days when Thoreau was sent to prison in a tax protest against the Mexican-American War, modern war tax protesters rarely go to prison, according to tax resisters. The IRS may take their money from wages and bank accounts – with penalties and interest – after sending a series of letters.

“They’re very polite, which makes it a little boring,” said Rosa Packard of Greenwich, a longtime anti-war tax protester.

But if he thinks he is going to avoid collection of his taxes owed, by hook or by crook, after having trumpeted his resistance on a national newswire, he’s perhaps not smart enough to be gainfully employed, as a contractor or otherwise.

Will his protest, and others like his, have the desired effect? As James Taranto said in the OpinionJournal piece where I first saw this story, “Something tells us the economy will survive.”

Addendum – Mr. Gross expands on his and his fellow protesters’ thoughts and methods, with emphasis on the actual question I posed:

A frequent challenge to conscientious tax resisters whose resistance leads to fines and penalties is “won’t the government just end up with more in the end?”

The Ghandi quote that follows the snippet above is interesting and informative, if not completely dispositive.

Unlike Mr. Gross’ first commenter Ken (bottom), I have no desire to see Gross locked up, and wish him the best in what I consider to be a Quixotic quest, even though I disagree with it.



What’s wrong with this story?

Jun 18 2007

Subject? Supreme Court rulings. Found in today’s news, a story about the several decisions just handed down by our benign judicial overlords. The first two cases on which they ruled are interesting, but not part of the current exercise.

The case in question, Brendlin v. California, is covered in a Washington Post story entitled “Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Car Passengers”. The heart of the case?

The court decided that when police stop a vehicle, passengers are “seized” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment and — like drivers — can dispute the legality of a search.

The ruling overturned a California Supreme Court decision in the case of Bruce Edward Brendlin, who was arrested on parole violation and drug charges after a November 2001 traffic stop in Yuba City, Calif. Brendlin, who subsequently was sentenced to four years in prison, appealed his conviction on the grounds that the drug evidence should have been suppressed because the traffic stop amounted to “an unlawful seizure of his person,” according to today’s ruling.

Although the state acknowledged that police “had no adequate justification” to stop the car, in which Brendlin was a passenger in the front seat, it argued that he was not “seized” and thus could not challenge the government’s action under the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure protections. Government lawyers also argued that Brendlin could not claim that the evidence against him was tainted by an unconstitutional stop, according to the ruling.

California, in this case, was clearly and deeply wrong, and it’s good, if unsurprising, to find the Supremes coming down unanimously in Brendlin’s favor.

So, what’s wrong with the story, you might ask? Well, not so much the story as the storyline – The WaPo story didn’t cover this angle, but in the Wall Street Journal version of the story (subscription), I found this nugget:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP backed Mr. Brendlin, arguing that a ruling in the state’s favor would encourage police to conduct arbitrary traffic stops to target passengers, especially minorities, who lack the same rights as drivers.

Left unspoken is the irrelevant fact of Mr Brendlin’s minority status, but I’ll assume he’s black. He could have been chartreuse without having any impact at all on this case, for all it would have mattered.

So Brendlin got the precisely correct result from the Court, for what I think hope are the right reasons, including the prima facie absurdity of California’s position on the case. But the underlying theme, when the NAACP’s and ACLU’s involvement, their raison d’etre in this case, seems to indicate that absent some racial grievance, the alternative result would have occurred.

I have zero concern about the involvement of those two august organizations in providing Brendlin the legal and financial support in his battle, and good for them. Couching this as an issue that only or primarily resonates for minorities? That, I think, is a problem.



Comparative legal analysis

May 31 2007

What do these two suits have in common?

Couple sue Wal-Mart over slip in vomit” (AP/Nashville Tennessean) and
ACLU: Boeing offshoot helped CIA” (AP/Houston Chronicle)

Simple:

  • They each have a distinct odor associated with them
  • They’re both based on slippery circumstances
  • They’re both as baseless as the day is long

Only one of them, however, appears to have been categorized by the Associated Press as an “Odd Story”. So let’s look at that one first:

Couple sue Wal-Mart over slip in vomit

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — A woman’s fall in a puddle of vomit has resulted in a lawsuit against Wal-Mart. June Medema, slipped in the vomit at a Davenport Wal-Mart on June 13, 2005, according to the lawsuit, filed by Medema and her husband, James, in Scott County District Court earlier this month.

Medema claims that she was seriously injured in the fall.

The lawsuit alleges that Wal-Mart’s negligence led to Medema’s fall, but it does not specifically say how the store was negligent.

John Simley, a Wal-Mart spokesman, decline comment saying he hadn’t seen the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that Medema suffered serious neck and upper back injuries in the fall and has undergone several surgeries and is unable to work.

It’s a mercifully short story, so it’s included here in its entirety. All you need to know is in that third paragraph – “…but it does not specifically say how the store was negligent.” In order to prove negligence, of course, the Medemas will have to prove that Wal-Mart knew the vomit was puddled on the floor. Which will be rather difficult – if they didn’t see it, why should Wal-Mart have done so?

As to the second story, I can completely understand the ACLU going after a Boeing subsidiary – They can’t sue the US government or the CIA on a classified matter, so they simply picked someone else in the transaction chain to sue.

NEW YORK — A Boeing Co. subsidiary that may have provided secret CIA flight services was sued Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three terrorism suspects who claim they were tortured by the U.S. government.

The lawsuit charges that flight services provided by Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. enabled the clandestine transportation of the suspects to secret overseas locations, where they were tortured and subjected to other “forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

The ACLU, of course, has been known to provide valuable legal services. They’ve also been known to tilt at windmills in pursuit of an agenda that tends to be decidedly leftist. Not “liberal” – leftist. As I said, I can understand their grasping at straws to find someone to sue, because money-grubbers have to go where the money is, even if they expect to get no money out of the matter.

I can’t understand why they think their suit will survive a summary judgment request. Jeppesen Dataplan didn’t man the flight, didn’t own the plane, and didn’t load or unload alleged passengers from the alleged extraordinary alleged rendition alleged mission. Jeppesen provides flight planning services. Logistics.

Undaunted by this bit of reality, the ACLU soldiers on:

The ACLU said the company “either knew or reasonably should have known” that they were facilitating the torture of terrorism suspects by providing flight services for the CIA.

That’s one of the ten most absurd things I’ve read in the last 48 hours. Having been on flights which used the services of flight planning companies like Jeppesen, and having occasionally been with the pilot when he was planning the flight, I’m comfortable asserting that in no case did a flight services vendor demand to know, let alone show even the slightest interest in, what the purpose of the flight was. Which is just as well – it would have been none of their business, and they’d have been told as much.

It occurs to me that there are two other things these two suits have in common – they’re both weakly disguised fundraising attempts, and neither one will be successful at anything other than garnering publicity for its plaintiff.