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An open letter to former State Rep John Scott

Dear John:

While the old saying that “the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client” is mainly true, I feel in this instance I can take that risk, as I have a fool for an adversary. I write at this time to put you on notice that I intend to take legal action (the nature of which I decline to specify) against you for plagiarizing this blog. All the well written bits in the letter attacking Chris Conley, that appeared in today’s Day, which the preponderance of the evidence indicates that you ghostwrote, were written by me, in the course of a well deserved attack against you.

I demand redress.

To prove my claim, “let Facts be submitted to a candid world“:

The letter contains the following lines:

On the issues she mainly confined herself to a fierce and unaccommodating dedication to the interests of workers compensation lawyers everywhere, but especially those in Groton.

and:

Now I am pleased to report that Conley is actively engaged in advancing the interests of her constituent. You can check out the bills she’s sponsored or co-sponsored on her website but I will save you some trouble and tell you about one in particular, HB 6666, “An Act Expanding Remedies and Potential Liability For Unreasonably Contested or Delayed Workers Compensation Claims.”

Before I go on, I fully admit that I stole that “candid world” line above from Thomas Jefferson, but you see I put it in quotes, and that makes it okay, and anyway, Thomas Jefferson is dead and he doesn’t care.

Back to the main point, now that Tom has been put on his ease. Take a look at my blog here, where you see:

On the issues, he mainly confined himself to a fierce and unaccommodating dedication to the interests of insurance agents everywhere, but especially those in Groton

And if you go here, you see:

Now, I’m pleased to report that Scott is actively engaged in advancing the interests of his constituent. You can check out the bills he’s sponsoring or cosponsoring here. But let me save you some trouble and time. Here’s a sampling, selected by yours truly…

I don’t need F. Lee Bailey to prove this case, or even an expert witness. Look, I’m flattered and all, that you think so highly of my prose, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that you are making use of the sweat of my literary brow without my permission. And don’t try to say you didn’t write the letter. I know you did because a) hardly anyone reads this blog, but you do, and, b) I’ve known since I wrote them that those posts hit home. And of course, I’m not happy about the fact that you stole language I wrote to make a perfectly valid point against you so you could make a perfectly Fox Newsian invalid point against Chris Conley. I was particularly fond of my clever use of the singular “constituent”, and was mightily distressed when I saw that you stole it in pursuit of your sad little vendetta against Chris. Oh, by the way John, Chris’s proposal won’t be driving up her billable hours because worker’s comp lawyers don’t get paid by the hour. They get paid only if they deliver for their clients, unlike insurance agents like you who feel the need to force people to get insurance they don’t need through you.

So, case proven, and it only remains to make my demand for rightful compensation for your egregious plagiarism. Don’t worry, I don’t want your money. And I hereby release the person who signed his name to your screed of any moral liability, though legal liability is another thing altogether. No, I shall withhold my legal wrath provided you:

  • Humbly apologize for your premeditated theft
  • Admit that you are a sad and bitterly sore loser who has dedicated the time since your well-deserved defeat to unfairly sliming the person who administered that electoral whopping.
  • Agree to remain under the rock to which you were consigned in 2016, and stop penning letters to the Editor (for this is not the first) for other people to sign.

Should you fail to comply with these demands, I shall have no choice, as we lawyers say, but to take appropriate action.

I would be glad to discuss this matter with you or your attorney.

Tell it like it is

Atrios has nominated Jonathan Chait as one of America’s worst humans for suggesting that we lefties should not be applying the term “white supremacist” to Trump or his followers unless they themselves confess to being so. He links to this Chait takedown, to which the reader is referred.

I find myself in agreement with Chait, though I’m guessing he’d rather not align with me. I find the term “white supremacist” somewhat akin to the term “ethnic cleansing”, a term I have heard coming from the mouths of people who really should know better. That term was invented, or at least popularized, by the perpetrators during the genocidal wars in the former Yugoslavia. It was a way of making genocide sound somewhat more palatable, and still is. For myself, I think we should stick with “genocide”.

Calling someone a “white supremacist” somewhat avoids the issue of what he or she is in reality. The word is “racist”, a word that, at least to all right thinking individuals, connotes unmitigated loathsomeness. Let’s stick with “racist”. It gets the message across so well. And, just to be clear, I do believe that Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions and a host of other Trump hangers on are racists, pure and simple.

Update

A couple of days ago I remarked on the fact that I had never seen the obvious point made, in coverage of “free speech” attempts to legalize anti-gay discrimination, that the same logic could be applied to racial or religious discrimination. I still haven’t seen it made by a member of the press, but it appears that at least one judge has made the obvious connection.

Fresh off being labeled a hate group for promoting vehemently anti-LGBTQ extremism, hate group Alliance Defending Freedom’s lawsuit on behalf of a homophobic couple that wanted to challenge the Minnesota Human Rights Act by refusing service to same-sex couples has been dismissed by a judge, who wrote in his decision this week that the couple’s wish to put a notice on their website saying they wouldn’t provide video recording services to gay couples “conduct akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign”:

In his ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim described that as “conduct akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign” that may be outlawed without infringing on First Amendment rights.

“Posting language on a website telling potential customers that a business will discriminate based on sexual orientation is part of the act of sexual orientation discrimination itself,” the judge wrote. “As conduct carried out through language, this act is not protected by the First Amendment.”

via Daily Kos

This is not a departure, it is fairly well settled law. Some speech is more than speech; it’s action.

I’m glad to be wrong on this one. Here’s hoping the Supremes have as much sense as Judge Tunheim (but don’t count on it).

When he’s right, he’s right

As human beings, it’s incumbent upon us to recognize our common humanity. That means, for instance, that any human, no matter how reptilian he or she might be, must be recognized as a fellow human. Among other things we must recognize that we must listen to what each of our fellow humans has to say, as even the worst of us is not always wrong. Here’s a good example:

Responding directly for the first time to President Trump’s threat at the United Nations to destroy nuclear-armed North Korea, its leader called Mr. Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” on Friday ..

via the New York Times

See what I mean? You can’t argue with the man. He’s hit the nail right on the head. Just goes to show that we should give a respectful hearing to even the least among us.

Who knows. Someday, even Donald Trump, of all people, may get something right.

Sean freaks out

So, what does this mean:

Amid new rounds of reporting about the breadth of information being sought from current and former White House officials by Robert Mueller, the special counsel now probing possible ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, political reporter and Axios co-founder Mike Allen suggests that a potential “honey pot” of information might also be found in the copious notes taken by former press secretary Sean Spicer.

As Allen reports Thursday, “Former colleagues of [Spicer] tell Axios that he filled ‘notebook after notebook’ during meetings at the Republican National Committee, later at the Trump campaign, and then at the White House.”

But after reaching out to Spicer himself for comment on the existence of his notebooks, Allen—instead of a “no comment”—was given a cease and desist.

In a subsequent email, sent in response to an earlier request for comment, Spicer accuses Allen of “harrassment” and repeats his warning that if contacted again he “contact the appropriate legal authorities.”

via CommonDreams

Apparently Mike Allen is widely loathed, but so far as this exchange goes, it doesn’t matter. Allen is apparently a friend of Spicer’s, which goes a way toward explaining why he’s widely loathed, but makes Spicer’s response to Allen all the more mysterious. Query, what does this mean? Spicer has never, to my knowledge, been mentioned in connection with the Russian inquiry, but it sure sounds like he’s scared of something.

Anyway, my best guess is that Spicer has already been contacted by Mueller and his notebooks requested. Spicer has embarked on a rehabilitation tour, this morning arguing that it is entirely unfair for people to criticize him for lying. Well, actually, he’s arguing that he never lied, so it’s unfair for anyone to say that he did. Anyway, the question remains, why is he so sensitive about those notebooks? It wouldn’t be so bad to see him frogmarched out with the rest of them, would it?

Supreme Court about to legalize discrimination

It’s more than likely the case that the Supreme Court is about to legalize anti-Gay discrimination in the name of free speech and/or religious freedom. The case arises out of the refusal of a baker to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. It’s terribly unfair, he says, that he should be asked to use his creative talents to create a piece of art endorsing something to which Jack Philips, the baker’s owner, is opposed:

“It’s more than just a cake,” he said at his bakery. “It’s a piece of art in so many ways.”

The government, Phillips contends, should not be allowed to compel him to endorse a message at odds with his beliefs.

“I’m being forced to use my creativity, my talents and my art for an event — a significant religious event — that violates my religious faith,” he said.

via The Boston Globe

In any other legal era this argument wouldn’t carry the least bit of water, but given the present Supreme Court, it’s likely to win.

What is never mentioned in these articles, even by the people who are opposing these pernicious claims, is the fact that this is really just a foot in the door. Gays are an easy target, because 1) they are gays, and 2) the law is still unsettled with respect to them on a number of points.

But this argument, if trusted home, destroys all civil rights laws. If Mr. Philips can’t be expected to create his “art”on behalf of gays, what’s to say he can’t withhold it if the couple is interracial, or interdenominational, or choosing to say their vows before a justice of the piece or an Imam rather than a Christian cleric? This definition of speech is so broad that it’s hard to see what services are not covered. Why should a chef be required to implicitly approve of the idea of black people eating in the same restaurant as white people by being required to cook for them, which is every bit as much speech as baking a cake?

The argument is that the state can’t force one to “endorse a message at odds with [one’s] beliefs”. If I don’t believe that a person should be allowed to eat in my restaurant or sleep in my hotel, or work in my corporation because of the color of their skin, or their religious preference, etc., then this argument implies that I need not serve or hire them, as that would be an endorsement of the view that such people should be allowed to mix with good Christian white people.

This argument waits in the wings. The folks advancing these legal arguments play the long game. The racists on the court, see all this coming, but they realize too that it must be done, as the wicked witch said, “Slowly”.

It is an irony of our times that while the court expands this sham right to speech, it simultaneously restricts the fundamental right to speech: the right to express one’s political preferences at the ballot box.

A prediction

Three executives of the credit-reporting agency Equifax sold nearly $2 million worth of company stock within days of a massive data breach potentially affecting 143 million Americans — one that wasn’t publicly disclosed until more than a month later.

In a statement, Equifax says the executives “had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time they sold their shares.”

Equifax revealed the security breach late Thursday. On Friday, its stock price went sliding by double digits as millions of Americans struggled to get answers from the company about whether they were affected and what to do next. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has opened an investigation into the hack.

The credit reporting company has said that it discovered “unauthorized access” to its systems on July 29. The intrusion potentially jeopardized sensitive details including names, birthdates, Social Security and driver’s license numbers. The hackers also stole credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers.

Regulatory filings show the three Equifax executives — Chief Financial Officer John Gamble, U.S. Information Solutions President Joseph Loughran and Workforce Solutions President Rodolfo Ploder — completed stock sales on Aug. 1 and 2.

via NPR

Okay, so maybe you find it hard to believe that these guys, particularly the Information Solutions President were kept in the dark by their underlings about the massive hack. So does (almost) everyone else on the planet. But these guys aren’t worried. You see, in order for someone to be prosecuted for insider trading, someone has to charge them with a crime. What are the odds that the Trump/Sessions Justice Department will do that, because, funny thing, the greatest concentration of people who believe what these guys are saying happen to work for the Justice Department. At least, that’s my prediction. I’m happy to take bets on this one.

Friday Night Music Returns!

This used to be a regular feature, but it got harder and harder to find music that I 1) was familiar with and liked, and 2) was a live performance and not just music with an album cover as the video.

Anyway, I doubt that I’ll be doing this every week, but today, while I was working at home and listening to music, this song came up and I couldn’t resist looking to see if there was a live version of it by Paul Simon. As it turns out there are many.

When Simon first wrote this song we were in a what we thought were pretty bad political straits. Some of us feared, even at that point, that things could get worse, and I can certainly count myself among those who may have applied the “facist” label at times, but there’s something about the human psyche, at least the psyches of most humans, that refuses to believe that things can get really horribly worse. But one can’t help but think that if Simon could have had a glimpse of our actual future, he would have thought that he was living in the best of times, or near the best, anyway.

I chose this version because I liked the way he sings it in a sort of depressed voice. While the performance predates the election, it is still perfect for the age of Trump.

Paul Simon: American Tune.

Time to stop these activist judges!

Okay, I’ll start this by admitting that I’m not the most experienced federal litigator in the world, but I find this puzzling:

The City of Dallas voted Wednesday to immediately remove a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park, but the work was abruptly stopped by a federal judge.

Soon after the vote, workers in hard hats and yellow vests cordoned off the area around the Lee monument, which stands in Robert E. Lee Park, a green space in Dallas that is bounded on one side by Lee Parkway.

But their efforts came to a halt when Judge Sidney Fitzwater of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted a temporary restraining order halting the statue’s removal, according to Richard Hill, a spokesman for the city. A hearing on the proposed removal of the monument was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, according to The Dallas Morning News.

via The New York Times

Liberal judges are constantly accused of being “activists”, and I suppose there’s a marginal chance this judge is a liberal, though given the fact that Texas judges have been selected by whackjob Republican Senators for the past 27 years or so, that seems doubtful.

Here’s my question: How does a federal court have jurisdiction to involve itself in this case?

Federal courts have jurisdiction to hear two general categories of cases. The case must involve a “federal question” or there must be diversity of citizenship between the parties (i.e., the plaintiff must be from one state and the defendant from another). In the latter case, the plaintiff must also establish that there is an “amount in controversy” of $75,000.00 or more. It is unlikely that anyone is in a position to claim that he or she will be damaged to the tune of $75,000.00 by the removal of this statue, and it’s hard to see how a citizen of another state would have standing to bring the action in the first place.

How, particularly in the land of state’s rights (I know-state’s rights only applies when it suits their purposes) is the decision of a municipality about statuary a federal issue? What federal statute or right is implicated in the City Council’s decision to remove this statue? If the City of Boston wants to remove the Make Way for Ducklings statue (which, heaven forbid), does it need permission from a federal judge? Could a judge require a city to put up a statue on the petition of a random racist? Let’s turn it around, could a federal judge forbid the erection of a statue proposed by a municipality?

I can conceive of an argument for an affirmative answer to my last question. Back when a lot of these statues were erected, they symbolized, as they do today, the triumph of Jim Crow and the subversion by local authorities of the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps you could make something of that. But how do you argue that taking down a symbol of hate and repression presents a federal question? Imagine too, the reaction we’d hear from Tucker Carlson and his ilk if a judge ordered the removal of one of these statues If the local authorities refused to do so.

This movement to remove monuments to hate and treason is one of the few hopeful signs of the age of Trump. This activist judge should step aside and let the enlightened people of Dallas do the right thing.

Only one side!

Almost everyone on the left is aware of the “both sides” mentality of the mainstream press. Why, there are some bloggers who specialize in exposing the absurd lengths to which the media will go to insist that “both sides” are equally bad. (I highly recommend driftglass, see one of his many great takedowns of David Brooks here.) You know how it goes. Does the Republican Party cater to racists, and has it done so for the past 40 years? Well, what about the Democrats, who … who, well, who refuse to feel the pain of those racists, or something. There’s always something.

So, this morning I picked up the Boston Globe and read this headline: In age of Trump, politics has become a game with no shame So, naturally, I figured, somewhere in the article we would be assured that both sides are guilty of Trump’s transgressions, which in this case consist of refusing to admit he is wrong or apologize to those he has wronged, regardless of mountains of proof that he is wrong or that an apology is in order. The story documents the fact that lots of Republican politicians throughout the country are following Trump’s lead, and standing by outrageously false claims or outrageous and baseless insults directed at political opponents.

But, guess what?!!!! The article tells it like it is. I looked in vain for even a hint of an assertion that Democrats are doing it too. It’s not there! Could this be the beginning of the end of both siderism, or is this just the work of a new young journalist who has not yet caught on to the rules?