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DO I HAVE A CASE?

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Monday’s Collection of Information

In the iconic 1987 movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko proclaimed that “The most valuable commodity I know of is information“. Today’s blog is a collection of information. Valuable? After this, you might feel like we are zigging and zagging. Some useful; some useless; and something sad.  Our Blog!

First, I have stumbled upon some amazing mustard. (I suspect you didn’t see this one coming!) I am putting it on everything. Obsessively!

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Next is apparently how to keep pigeons off your porch. (In case pigeons are on your porch!) It’s this right here:

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(photography provided by renowned photographer Joel Bieber)

Yes, a balloon is the first line of defense! I guess pigeons are afraid of balloons with eyes?

Now, some serious discussion for the blog. Who was the youngest American serviceman killed in action? Honestly, this is terrible. The answer: Dan Bullock, at age 15.

 

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When he was 14-years-old, he altered his birth certificate to show he was four years older. He wanted to become a pilot, police officer or a Marine. So he enlisted and graduated from Parris Island boot camp in 1968.

He arrived it Vietnam on May 18, and was assigned as a rifleman. On June 7, while making an ammunition run to resupply his unit, he was killed by a Vietnamese night attack.

His grave did not even have a marker until 2000. Today, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial finally recognizes him as the youngest soldier killed. And I must ashamedly admit that I did not know his story until recently.

I said that this blog has lots of information. I felt that after that story of Marine Dan Bullock, I didn’t want to end there. It’s too sad.

So, I post some lion wisdom as part of the continuum of the blog:

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And finally, here is our pic o’ day.

I am thankful for Monday!

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Man Without a Country

     The Man Without a Country was a short story written in 1863 by Edward Everett Hale. It was intended to be a bit of propaganda for the Union during the Civil War. 

     It is the story of an American soldier named Philip Nolan, who renounced his country during a trial for treason. In the story, he is sentenced to spend the rest of his life at sea without ever hearing any news of the United States or even to have it mentioned. That’s why he was a man without a country.

     Through the years at sea, he went from being bitter about the United States, to desperately wanting his country back. Despite never escaping his sentence, he decorated his room on the ship, with a flag and a picture of George Washington. Later in the story, after he is found dead, the shipmates learn that he had written his own epitaph that patriotically stated:

                                In memory of PHILIP NOLAN, Lieutenant in the Army of the United States. He loved his country as no other man loved her; but no man deserved less at her hands.

     I write this blog because I recently watched a Frontline/PBS show titled United States Of Secrets. It’s the story of the United States Intelligence war on terror, and what was accepted as necessary to provide a secure country.

     There were many in the intelligence community, as well as Constitutional scholars, who believed that the rights of citizens were being trampled. One former NSA employee decided to do something about it. In response, Eric Snowden has become a man without a country.

     You can see it on Netflix. It’s certainly thought-provoking. If the assertions in the show are correct, than the government knows about my blog. And, it might also surprise you to learn the lengths that some businesses will go, to understand your search and spending habits.     

     And our pic o’ is also a bit of snoring technology.

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Snowden’s Passwords

In the movie Wall Street the classic line to cue an inside sale was “Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott steel” because it meant that Gordon Gekko had some insider trading information and everyone down the line needed to get in on the stock trade.

In that same movie, Gordon Gekko turns to Bud Fox and says, “The most valuable commodity I know of is information, wouldn’t you agree?” It’s based on the same premise that ” loose lips sink ships!”

Those quotes came to mind as I read about all the damage that Eric Snowden has done to our United States’ intelligence. The intelligence community is still trying to assess the amount of damage that has been done.

Up until now, it has been difficult to grasp how Snowden, as a contract employee for the National Security Agency, could possibly have secured all that information. Now, there might be an answer to explain it.

Reuters News  is now reporting that fellow workers unwittingly provided their passwords to Snowden, allowing him to access material that otherwise would have been blocked.  It is estimated that over 25 employees gave their passwords to him after he convinced them that he needed the passwords, because he needed access as a computer systems administrator.

Even employees who had been trained and warned, still let their guard down. They made the mistake in believing that everyone was an insider; and therefore, everyone was trustworthy.

On this Veteran’s Day, we stop to thank the estimated 23 million veterans in this country who have served, with the other 2.3 million who are in active duty. They are the opposite of what Snowden stands for, in that they have protected us and our freedoms.

The story of Snowden is not over. He will be brought to justice. At the same time, it is also a reminder that the enemy does not rest.

DID YOU KNOW that in West Virginia, no one may walk a lion, tiger or leopard; even on a leash. Of course it is also law that anyone who curses or swears in public will be fined one dollar for each offense.  (I just came back from West Virginia and I did not see anyone break the first law, but I may have heard the second law violated)

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Winning But Losing Verdict

Sometimes at dinner or a reception, someone will ask me if I am working on any exciting cases. Even as I typed that last sentence, I wondered how to respond, and that’s usually what happens when I’m asked that question.

Clients’ secrets and confidences normally put some restriction on what I can say. But, the truth is, I usually am working on “some exciting cases”.  In my mind, I define that as unusual and challenging.

The restricti0n on discussion is waived a bit, if I have filed suit. It’s odd though; I never describe a jury trial case. Maybe that’s because I’m not actually working on those right then.. Plus, my mind works like an old number 9 wash tub, which makes me forget details of  past cases, after I don’t need to know them  … first you fill it up and then you empty it when done.

So, while thinking about cases, and number 9 wash tubs, I sorta traveled down memory lane and did think about some past trials. One that specifically came to mind was the one that I always describe as “the one I won but lost”.

I had been practicing law for less than a year. Have you ever heard someone say that they “need a young lawyer who is willing to fight for me but won’t cost a lot of money”. Yep, that was me. Especially the money part; because I did not have that many cases to work on. Self-employed with more emphasis on self.

So, one day, a boy that had just enlisted in the military came to see me. He told me the story about a Navy chief  that had gotten drunk and beaten him up. He wanted me to sue the chief. I know, I should have stopped there. But a consultation only, doesn’t make for a  blog story about winning and losing.

I told him that I would take the case. I don’t even know if I understood the difference between negligence and intentional tort. The easiest way to describe that is that intentional means, NO INSURANCE is paying for the damages. That chief meant to hurt that new enlistee. Oh yes, they had both been drinking at the same place too.

I filed suit for civil damages relating to assault. The chief hired an attorney and never made an offer. That was OK, because I was ready to go to trial.

We put on our case. I cross-examined  the defendant. The jury seemed to be listening attentively; Although, while the trial was going on, I did notice that my client probably weighed 80-100 lbs. more than the defendant. That detail had previously escaped me. I just kept saying to myself…. assault has nothing to do with weight. Plus, my minister used to say, “the  freedom for your fist stops where my nose begins”.

I introduced my client’s hospital bill through him and after all the testimony, the jury got the case in about 2 hours. That included picking the jury and the Judge’s instructions.

The jury was out about 40 minutes. They came back with the verdict form in their hands and the judge asked the foreman to stand and read the verdict. “We the jury, find in favor of the plaintiff”.

My heart took a bit of a jump because I knew my client had won. The foreman went on to say, ” and award damages in the amount of $1″. I think I noticed the Judge fight a smile back.

The Judge then thanked the jury for their service and excused them. I walked my client out of the courtroom and into the hallway. I tried to give him some “glass half full” by saying that at least the jury had believed him.

He thanked me for “going to the mat for him”.  At the time,  humor was not proper, but  I thought , “look, I’ll waive my 1/3 attorney fee. You can keep the whole dollar”. Taking that case to trial made me realize that I was really a “glass half fool”.

Now, pic o’ day. It might be how I looked when the jury said “one dollar”.

Congressman Scott Rigell’s Dilemma

     I intended to move to Part 2, for yesterday’s blog, and got sidetracked on another blog story. I promise to get to the   “Why”, for the Governor McDonnell veto. In the meantime, I do what I seem to always enjoy doing….. I digress.

     I saw an article in Pilot Online  that  discusses the NO vote of Congressman Scott Rigell (R-VA), from the 2nd District. Bills becoming law have always held some fascination for me. It’s why I was a Political Science major in college, in the first place.

      Political Science majors were always known as people that didn’t know what they wanted to major in, so it seemed easy and not too much of a commitment toward any specific career. I once heard a minister joke that the way that some knew that they wanted to be ministers in churches, was that “they woke up in the morning, craving chicken and not wanting to go to work”. Kinda like Poly Sci.

     All that leads me to Congressman Rigell voting against the Federal budgetary deal, that funds the government through  the remaining months of 2011. I have seen both sides of the aisle agree on voting against it and for it. In this instance,  even liberal Independent Senator  Bernie Sanders  (I-VT) also voted against the budget bill.

     This shows different philosophies arriving at the same ending.   Sanders says he voted against it because it did not provide funding for programs that helped the poor and elderly. He thought the budget does not do enough in funding.

     Congressman Rigell thought it didn’t do enough in reductions . He was the lone Virginia legislator to vote against it because it does not adequately deal with the budget deficit. He feels that, as a fiscal conservative, he could not vote for this spending bill.

     Now, drawing on my old Political Science days, here is the interesting caveat. Rigell’s vote basically was voting to shut down the government. That would have the effect of shutting down government services; eliminating or delaying government worker pay; and halting or delaying military pay. The Second District (Rigell’s) has many government and military personnel that he represents…. His constituents that elected him. 

     Rigell said that passage of this bill increases the federal deficit. Such an increase “threatens the foundation of this country”

     To me, some of this blog gets a bit boring until you consider the following  question. As an elected Congressman, does he owe a duty to vote for his constituents or vote for what he thinks is best for the country. I suspect that the next election for Congress will have an ad that may ask prospective voters, that exact question. “Who does Congressman  Rigell represent?”  Kinda like trying to figure out the correct blog title spelling for  “dilemma” or “dilemna”.

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