No matter where you are we will come to you

DO I HAVE A CASE?

Currently Viewing Posts Tagged Politics

Consuming the Consumer?

Coming out of Thanksgiving, did you feel like this? Maybe I am blog confessing!

IMG_1860

 

Of course, this ad tells us it’s that time of year, not to mention that it’s a bit creepy. Right? Hopefully he is just being funny!IMG_1582

Which brings us to the real topic of being a consumer (since we are being bombarded with ads online and on TV that we need to shop)  and whether or not the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is protecting us, or slowing down business. (Is it causing Air Jordans to go up in price?)

The Agency was originally created under the Obama administration. It’s first director touts its accomplishments by stating that nearly 12 billion dollars were returned to consumers who were “cheated or mistreated by banks or other large financial companies“.

President Trump tweeted that the leadership of the CFPB “has been a total disaster as run by the previous Administrations pick. Financial institutions have been devastated and unable to properly serve the public. We will bring it back to life!”.

Here’s the politics as described in USA Today (article) It’s a story about dueling appointments and why.

On Friday, the original Obama-appointed pick stepped down and appointed his own replacement, his chief-of-staff. (Leandra English)  Under the law, the appointment names an acting director until the Senate can confirm a new pick of President Trump.

On Friday, Trump announced that he was appointing his budget director to also serve as the new acting director of the agency. (Mick Mulvaney) Mulvaney once characterized the consumer protection agency as a “sad, sick joke“.  Mulvaney said that he intends to head the agency and continue his current job, until a new agency director is appointed.

So the question for the courts becomes, does President Trump have the right to name a replacement until the Senate confirms a nominee, or does the current appointment by the prior agency director stand, until confirmation of a new appointee.

Why is this appointment so important. Well, if the supporters of the agency are right, then this agency protects consumers. If the Trump administration is correct, then the agency must be changed or dismantled because it creates major obstacles with his burdensome regulations.

Politics! The article details more about the agency. But this story and the upcoming appointment fight?  It makes holiday shopping and crowds seem like a walk in the park!

Finally, I guess I felt that I had license to post our first holiday pic o’ day. Here we go!

IMG_1557

Harassment in the News

I always like to start the week with some positivity!

IMG_1825

 

Because sometimes the real stuff seems pretty arduous! Like the enjoyment of Thanksgiving; but maybe not the week leading up to it.

So let’s talk about food for a second, and the psychology of it. When we arrive at a restaurant, most of us don’t have in our mind that we intend to eat dessert. In fact, you are probably like me. You are thinking that you need to be a little careful, because too much food means too much weight.

Then at the end of the meal, the server discusses the desserts and sometimes even brings the dessert tray to the table. All of a sudden, that chocolate cake or peanut butter pie causes us to forget our immediate eating worries. Psychologists call it “present-focus bias“. What is right in front of us is what is important.

To date, I have not written about the instances of sexual harassment in the news. In fact, I suspect that many men are not discussing it. They just agree that it is wrong and that things need to change. This is a topic where there is no argument.

Sexual harassment is the present focus bias. Not long ago, it was racial issues and police brutality. Then guns and violence were in the news. Soon, the news was discussing whether Confederate monuments should be removed.

So I thought I would just give you some thoughts to consider. The dictionary defines sexual harassment as, “Uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate“.

This falls within such framework that includes student/teacher and employer/employee.

As to employer/employee considerations, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines workplace harassment with these thoughts and potential guidelines:

Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

This is a topic that could be a long blog. For now, I just wanted to use this forum to put these thoughts out there.

Hopefully, the current headlines will serve to truly bring awareness to the problem where no one feels that they just have to accept harassment, or have fear of speaking up, or take action to bring about change. For however long this is our primary focus, it should remain a focus. Maybe, it won’t just fade away into the news cycle

And for pic o’ day… this just makes me laugh. It’s all in a name!

IMG_1824

Lincoln Media Versus Trump Media

Recently, I have seen messages on Facebook that are being passed around by Trump supporters, that basically say that never before has a President been so attacked by people and the liberal media. Then, they issue their “unbiased” request to “leave him alone and give him a chance“.

This isn’t a blog about whether to agree or disagree with how our President is being treated. Instead, I thought that a look back to Lincoln and the coverage of his Gettysburg Address speech might give you a smile.

First, just like many witnesses in car crashes, there was a difference of opinion about that day of November 19, 1863. Some memories in history:

One spectator noted that the weather was “bright and clear.” The Washington Chronicle reported rain showers.

Crowd estimates hearing the speech have ranged from 15,000 people crowding the town for the event. Others have recounted that there were over 100,000 people there.

Some went to their deaths insisting that Lincoln took a tour of the battlefield in the early morning hours on dedication day. Others swore that he stayed inside the Wills House until it was time to mount up for the procession to the ceremony (source)

Next is how the speech was reviewed by newspapers:

The Chicago Times reviewed the speech ,”The cheek of every American must tinge with shame as he reads the silly flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States”. This was the same newspaper that had described Lincoln by asking, “Is Lincoln less refined than a savage?”.

On November 23, 1863, they continued their assault on Lincoln and his speech with descriptions of  “ignorant rudeness,” “boorishness” and “vulgarity“, because they claimed that he included “political partisanship”..

The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania newspaper known as The Patriot and Union, reviewed the speech and the President by saying that he, “acted without sense and without constraint in a panorama that was gotten up more for the benefit of his party than for the glory of the nation and the honor of the dead.” How about that meanness? 150 years later, they retracted their bad review of Lincoln’s speech. (Here at Time.com)

The London Times described the ceremony as “rendered ludicrous by some of the luckless sallies of that poor President Lincoln”. They were already known as a regular critic of Lincoln and his Presidency.

I could keep inserting more critical reviews of the speech, but I will end with one from his hometown paper. On November 24, 1863, The Illinois State Register gave this scathing review, “Nothing could have been more inappropriate than to have invited the prince of jokers, Old Abe, to be present at the consecration of the Gettysburg Cemetery,” the Register wrote on Nov. 24, 1863.

“But having been invited, it was hoped by his apologists that he would at least refrain from his clownish jokes about standing over the new-made graves of thousands who had been slain in the recent battle“.

History records that Lincoln faced harsh criticism. And the worst was yet to come.

So when I see people angered by the way that Trump is being criticized today, it fits in with seeing through personal opinion. That’s expected.  I don’t understand why they think that Trump is facing a liberal media like never before.

One thing for certain, it didn’t impact Lincoln’s Sense of humor. He had some great quotes. “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”. And he described tact as “the ability to describe others as they see themselves”. And finally, “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.”  

See…some history and opinion.

I hope you have a great weekend. These are the good days!

And for our pic o’ day, sometimes I feel like this. Right?

IMG_1613

 

How About Some Politics

IMG_1797

Here’s the thing… I stayed up too late last night. I went to to the Washington Wizards game and then I watched the election returns unfold on my iPad, on the way home. (I wasn’t driving. I promise.) And I am going to do something that I rarely do in the blog. Talk politics!

I think election returns are like watching a sporting event. In the end, you feel true victory or loss. And every election, the candidates always say that “this is the most important election”. Is that possible?

All I know is that Democrats feel pretty happy about New Jersey and Virginia. Republicans in Virginia…not so much. (It is uncertain based on recounts, but Democrats may have erased a 16 delegate Rebublican majority in the house of delegates. Unexpected!) I think New Jersey republicans had already braced themselves for the outcome. The true test of an independent is whether last night caused mixed emotions.

But here is a reminder on how politics works. The Trump tax bill is a good example. In that bill, there is a tax credit for “unborn children” that applies under the college saver tax break. Do you see what that does? The bill summary specifically recognizes “a child in utero”. Abortion advocates are being impacted by a tax bill.

IMG_1798

Why would that be part of a tax bill? Because including that can motivate the base to support the tax bill, just to support an anti-abortion piece of legislation. And that’s how politics works! Legislation and laws determined the real wins and losses.

As application to the elections yesterday, what does it mean? Well, I personally don’t think it means anything to the national stage except that those two states did exactly what they wanted to do. No national message is being sent, despite what is being reported.  Just my thought.

Virginia had already previously voted for Hilary in the national election. Why is the election of a democrat for governor (Northam) all that telling? I think it’s just a reminder that Virginia is going to do what it wants to do. And the pendulum will swing back republican again soon. And that’s politics!

In the end, It kind of makes me miss the simplicity of Forrest Gump. In the movie, Forrest tells people, “My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump“. Wouldn’t life be simple if that’s how it really worked! I crave real!

 

And for pic o’ day, a reminder that no matter what happened in the elections, it’s no time to panic. Or maybe it is!

IMG_1787

History, Lies and a Liar

How about this as a starter for Our Monday blog? Did you refuse to turn back your clock? Not so much?

IMG_1794

I did learn on the internet this weekend that February 22, 2022 (2/22/22) falls on a Tuesday. We will be able to truly call it 2’sday. How about that! And you have to believe it because it was on the internet. Right?

IMG_1792

 

Which brings me to what is truth? It’s hard to know. Watching any TV right now pretty much guarantees a political ad. Right? I mean, come on!

That led me to wonder how often one politician calls another politician a liar. In the courtroom, that is a “no no”. Although, I have heard liar used. Usually, someone says of another lawyer, “You are practicing sharp practice” or “you are misrepresenting facts”. I have referenced Roger Clemens before, when he came up with a new word for liar during the Congressional steroid hearings. In discussing Andy Pettitte’s assertion that Clemens had injected steroids, Clemens simply dismissed the claim by saying that Pettitte just “misremembered“. A new word for liar.

That brings me to a portion of a transcript from a now deceased, Washington DC, defense lawyer. He also once owned the Baltimore Orioles. (Edward Bennett Williams, also known as EBW)

This transcript of his cross examination occurred during the time of the Watergate Scandal and subsequent hearings. John Connolly had served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Nixon and was charged with taking a bribe. Williams was defending Connolly.

As background, this is the same Connolly who had been Governor of Texas and had been seriously injured while riding in President Kennedy’s car, on the day that Kennedy was assassinated.

I could write a long blog, just about stories of Connolly. He was known as a master manipulator who would do things like instruct his aides to call airports where he was just arriving. The aides would ask airport announcers to page “John Connolly, you have an urgent call“. He wanted those at the airport to know that he was there, and also make him sound important.

That background also provides context to the following transcripts of EBW’s cross examination of Jake Jacobson. Jacobson was the principal bribery testimony witness against Connolly.  Jacobson was also a disbarred Texas lawyer.

In defending Connolly against these bribery charges, Williams obviously wanted to discredit Jacobson and destroy his credibility. This is how Williams (EBW) began Jacobson’s cross examination:

Q: Mr. Jacobson, you’re a liar, aren’t you, sir?

A: No, I’m not!

Q: Take a look at this document. It says “Statement of Jacob Jacobson” on the top. That’s you, isn’t it?

A: Yes.

Q: And that’s your signature on the bottom?

A: Yes.

Q: And the first sentence says, “I lied when I testified before the grand jury,” doesn’t it?

A: Yes.

Q: So you are a liar, aren’t you?

BOOM!

I guess Al Gore had not yet “invented the internet” (I love that whopper of a lie)… and Benjamin Franklin had not discovered electricity. So may it was hard to find the truth!

 

And finally for our pic o’ day!

IMG_1791

What Time Is It?

First is the part of the blog that makes me laugh!

IMG_1643

And now I am using the blog to really remind myself not to be in a hurry.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 is a good reminder of why:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

And the story of In God’s Time

The man asked, “God, what’s a million years to you?” and God said, “A minute.”

Then the man asked, “Well, what’s a million dollars to you?” and God said, “A penny.”

Then the man asked, “God…..can I have a penny?” and God said, “Sure…..in a minute.”

Simple reminders!

And then Our Pic O’ Day…because this has happened to all of us!

IMG_1646

A Stand, and the Power of Love

It’s worth a trip down history’s memory lane. It’s a picture about taking a stand:

IMG_1418

 

 

 

 

 

 

This picture was taken at the launch of the naval vessel Horst Wessel, on June 13, 1936. If you look closely, you can see August Landmesser (wikipedia) He refused to perform the Nazi salute during this launch exercise. A subtle yet profound act of failure to conform to the Nazi party. The story is the why, and what happened next.

Landmesser had joined the Nazi Party in 1931, because of the promise of better conditions for workers. In 1934, he met and married Irma Eckler, a Jewish woman. Soon after, they had a baby girl.

This explains his attitude by not saluting Hitler, because of the Nazi stance on Jews. Failure to do so with the possibility of being noticed was  publicly rebelling, and possibly leading to signing your own death certificate.

In 1937, they attempted to flee to Denmark but were apprehended. Because he was married to a Jew, he was charged and found guilty in 1937 of “dishonoring the race” because of Nazi racial laws.

He initially was able to argue that neither he nor his wife knew that she was fully Jewish. With this defense, he was acquitted in 1938 for lack of evidence. However, he was warned that a repeat offense would result in a conviction and multi-year prison sentence.

Much like his public display of rebellion, the couple continued their relationship. He was arrested again, and this time sentenced to two and a half years in a concentration camp. He never saw his wife or family again.

After serving his time, he was drafted back into the army and ultimately lost his life in a battle in Croatia in 1944. Earlier, his wife was detained by the Gestapo and then sent to a prison camp. There, she gave birth to their second child. Records show that she ultimately was killed in a concentration camp in 1942.

In 1951, post World War II, their marriage was recognized retroactively by the Senate of Hamburg. The two daughters were put in foster care and reached adulthood.  In 1996, one daughter wrote a book to highlight her parents’ lives as well as point out the importance of her father’s photograph.

Before jumping to the finality of our pic o’ day at the bottom, I wanted to just look back again at the courage of this man. Surely at the time of the photograph, he was already aware of the Nazi propaganda machine; and the probability that his non-loyalty picture would show up. At that time, it appears that all that mattered was his love.

 

 

And for pic o’ day, a good dog pic o’ always makes me laugh!

IMG_1384

 

What Do Those Signs Mean?

When I saw this picture, I knew I had to start the blog with it. I think I live by this mantra!

IMG_1237

 

We signed up a new client yesterday, who was hit by a truck while leaving a grocery store parking lot. The grocery store has signs hanging on several of their poles that say, “These premises are under closed circuit camera surveillance for your protection“.

Immediately, our investigator walked into the store to ask about the surveillance video, to help us prove our case. The manager just smiled and then admitted that they really didn’t have any cameras, just the signs. I guess it’s a bit like having a “Beware of Dog” sign… without owning a dog.

The “surveillance signs” seem like a good metaphor to lead into a quick discussion of some legislation being debated in Congress. H.R 1215 has been introduced by Representative Steve King (R-Iowa). It is known as the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017. For the purposes of this blog, I won’t get into an entire discussion of  the pros and cons of Obamacare or providing health care for the entire country. That would put us into a blog of sleepy time. Instead, I am just going to mention a few highlights of this bill.

The title of the bill relates to health care, but amendments also include (H.R. 382) which indicates the bills intent to “provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system”. That has a special meaning to insurance companies.

Here’s some items this “health care” bill includes: SKIP THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE DETAILS AND JUMP DOWN ONE PARAGRAPH TO THE REAL BLOG THOUGHT!

(Or just meander through)

A. A federal $250,000 non-economic damage cap on lawsuits to override state laws; B. elimination of naming doctors and drug companies in a single lawsuit that involves a claim relating to a prescription; C. establish a statute of limitations federally that restricts filing a lawsuit after 3 years, even if any state has a longer statute of limitation or even if the person injured did not know that they were hurt from something; a restriction of a percentage that a lawyer can charge for representing someone (although, there is no restriction on what can be charged by lawyers to defend the claims), D. and an elimination of joint liability for economic and non-economic damages in the same claim.

NOW HERE IS THE KICKER TO THIS BILL FOR OUR BLOG DISCUSSION!

This bill would require PLAINTIFF experts in any malpractice case to meet the following requirements: First, an expert would have to sign an affidavit 90 days prior to filing suit to outline the areas of malpractice by the defendant. Second, the expert must be in the same field of expertise as the defendant. And Third…. and the real amazing item to me: Any expert must be from the same state as the doctor who committed malpractice, or else must be in a contiguous state to the state where the malpractice has been supposedly committed.

Why am I focusing on the Third item, out of all the things I have mentioned? For instance, under this bill, a doctor at Duke, who might even be chairman of the department, cannot testify as an expert in a case in Pennsylvania.

Why do they do this? To restrict the ability to prove malpractice. If an insurance company can restrict experts that can be hired and restrict what lawyers can be paid, then they can restrict malpractice claims. They want to make it hard to hire an expert. And, they know how hard it is to get a doctor to testify against another doctor that they know, in the same state.

SOMEHOW, THIS GOES UNDER THE HEADING OF PROVIDING GOOD HEALTH CARE WITHOUT FEAR.

That’s why I say that those signs hanging in the parking lot are a good metaphor for such legislation.  I just wanted to give you something to think about. No wonder people want to drain the swamp!

And finally; yes I admit it, I do enjoy cake which causes me to post cake pictures:

IMG_1243

Retarded is Wrong

First, we all know that you should not have a dog doing work on your house. It’s just wrong!

IMG_1206

Second, the word retarded should not be in your vocabulary. It’s also wrong! Right?

It’s a word that’s considered to be “very insulting and inappropriate”. Unless you are talking about something like slowing down your speed on your bike. “I am retarding my progress“. See! There it is just a word that makes us happy. Like Pop Tarts, even though that’s two words.

So here is a  story where a kid uses retarded to describe his grandparents. And I am sure that as long as you are describing retirement… it’s OK!

IMG_1198

I will be taking a long weekend. I will be back with the blog on Tuesday. (Almost like retirement?).

It’s truly a weekend with great significance. A time to be thankful for our freedom. And a time to stop and remember those that have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom.    I hope you do have a great and thoughtful Memorial Day weekend. May we remember and never forget.

A boy scout offers a salute at the foot of a grave after volunteers placed flags at the Los Angeles National Cemetery on Saturday, May 28, 2016 in preparation for Memorial Day. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

The Regulation of Regulation

In the 1960’s there was a Hollywood Production code that determined what could be shown on television. The Music Picture Association of America had censors determine what had to be removed from various shows.

Because of TV censorship rules, actress Mariette Hartley was not allowed to show her belly button on Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek [episode #78 “All Our Yesterdays” (1969)]. Later, as a way to get back at the censors, Roddenberry got even by casting Hartley with “two” belly buttons in the Science Fiction move Genesis II (1973)

As to financial regulation, let’s look back at October 24, 1929. It is now known as the first day of the great Wall Street Crash of 1929. It is listed in history as Black Thursday.

Congress began to investigate the cause of the crash and amazing instances of fraud, skullduggery (I have always wanted to work that word into a blog!), and downright unscrupulous behavior. That’s when the idea was being floated to create an agency to regulate Wall Street. (In 1934, the Securities Exchange Commission was formed for just that purpose)

As the topic of Wall Street regulation was being debated, there were many against such regulation and oversight. For instance, Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange (1930-1935), was one voice who assured Congress that meddlesome bureaucrats would be bad for the market and bad for business. He told Congress that Wall Street could better police itself.

BEIJING, CHINA - MAY 17: A giant panda plays in a rocking chair at Beijing Zoo on May 17, 2017 in Beijing, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Maybe he thought that it’s much like this picture. If you give a Panda Bear a rocking chair, he will voluntarily stay in the chair. (Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to post a picture of a bear in a rocking chair)

If you click on the attachment of Richard Whitney, you can see what can happen with ‘voluntary”. After that self-regulation speech, he went on to steal $150,000 worth of bonds and $667,000 from the Stock Exchange Gratuity Fund, that had been set-up as a fund to aid widows and orphans of brokers.

Just something to think about when you hear politicians talk about why regulation is always bad. Or that it is restrictive and should be abolished. Sometimes, rules are necessary. Plus, no one would watch football if there were no rules… right?

And that takes us to pic o’ day, which is not good advertising:

IMG_1199

  • Archives

  • Menu Title