The rantings of a Public Defender constantly fighting against society's pervasive Police Industrial Complex. Enjoy the unique perspective of one whose life's work is to fight the system through the system.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Blogger Ross at Three Sheets to the Wind has a post about my comments about chickenhawks. Here is part of it, click here for the rest (he has a good blog, it's worth checking out).
  • But my point is more about the stupidity of the "chickenhawk" label. A chickhawk is apparently someone who has not served in the military but advocates military action. Now on the face of it is an ad hominem attack and I'd think a lawyer like PD Dude wouldn't engage in fallacious arguing. The appropriateness of military action has nothing to do with the person recommending it. It either is warranted or it is not. Whether the person advocating for the war has been to war or not is irrelevant.And it was irrelevant to the left when Bill Clinton, who didn't even bother to serve in the guard or reserve, was President and bombed Iraq and sent troops to Kosovo (not to mention continuing in Somalia). That, for the current "chickenhawk" name-callers is called hypocrisy.

Here is my response.

I think that the whole notion of "chickenhawks" came about due to the right. Remember, it was Bush Sr. who made a point about Clinton dodging the draft. The right has consistently used the left's unwillingness to serve, or opposition to the war, as unAmerican.
Now the tables are turned. At least those liberals who failed to serve opposed the war. There is a difference when you support something, but only support other people having to do it.
People like Cheney and Bush, Quayle, Buchanan, Limbaugh, Wolfowitz, Perle, and plenty of other present day hawks, not to mention the hawkish parents of at least some of these people (Bush and Quayle to name just 2) hold hawkish views, support sending people in to die, but are not willing to do so themselves. At the same time, they use (maybe not personally, but their political cohorts) language that assails the patriotism of liberals who protest and do not serve in the war.

Limbaugh made great hay over the years pointing out that Clinton was protesting and trying to avoid the draft while others were dying. Well, at least Clinton was opposed to the war he dodged, rather than supporting it like Limbaugh and avoiding it. I think that there is a qualitative difference. Regardless, this is a shield that has been turned into a sword by the left after years of being battered by it. It is only through the cruelest of ironies that just about every hawk in the Bush administration managed to avoid serving in the military, or at least avoided combat through personal or family connections. The administration doves (namely Powell and Armitage) both served in combat.

I don't think that you have to have served in order to lead, or even to lead us into combat. However, I think it represents something about a person's character when you are especially willing and anxious to send out troops into combat (as the neo-cons have clearly been), while at the same time you are equally willing and anxious to avoid serving on your own. If something is so important to risk so many lives, then it is important for all American lives, not just poor minority ones, or the lives of people without the connections to avoid the draft, get into the national guard (which during Vietnam was a get out of combat free card) or get college deferments.

Now, if Clinton had previously annuonced that he was a conscientious objector (CO), said that all killing was wrong, and he would not serve for that reason, and then gone on to become a president who bombed Iraq and Serbia and used force in plenty of other situations, then clearly we would have a similar situation. For that reason, I would have to say that anyone who feels that force is never justified is probably not someone able to properly lead this country. I would probably say this regardless of wether or not they served, as we need to use force in many instances. However, if such a person did become president and then used force, after justifying their non-service with a CO type of a claim, that person would have equally suspect character.

I do not consider it an ad homenum attack to point out how a person's lack of service may affect their thinking, and, especially in this administration, where the hawks so overwhelmnigly did not serve while the doves did, a clear pattern appears that cannot escape attention.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The latest from the right wing media machine has a classic one.  Drudge Report has a report about Kerry keeping an 8mm video camera with him while he was in combat, sometimes going back to places where they had fought earlier and reenacting the confrontation for the camera.

I dunno, maybe there's a little "I want to be president someday so I'm going to get this on film now to help my future career" going on here, but here's my thought:  I'd prefer a president who reenacts war scenes they took part in on camera for political gain, rather than a president who creates bogus scenes (eg - landing a jet on an aircraft carrier) harking back to an era when he dodged military service in a war he and his ilk happily supported.

I just love chickenhawks going after Kerry on the theory that he really didn't serve honorably. 
At least they can find people who actually served with Kerry.  I remember probably every famous person I ever went to school with or handled any case with.  If they hit it big, I'm remembering every interaction I ever had with them.  Don't you think that anyone who actually served with the president 30 years ago would not only be able to remember it, but actually talk about it with everyone they know?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Hey everyone, I've found a few new law sites that are pretty cool. Go check them out and let me know what you think.

True Believer is a DUI blog out of Santa Barbara (my alma mater, I'm proud to say). It has some good information you should know about before having "one for the road," or at least how to deal with it if you're pulled over after doing so (I'd just advise you take a cab, but if everyone did that, I may not have my house).

Crime and Federalism is a great blog that is not restricted to those issues alone. Lots of interesting things ranging from federal indictments, a cool little quiz (I may have got a couple of the questions right, but mostly by luck - damn, I thought I would do well on Jeopardy! Check this site out.

Real Lawyers have Blogs has some good information about setting up blogs as a part of your practice (this is something I certainly don't have to worry about in my job - cases come rolling in whether I like them or not). This is more for you civil folk out there, but check it out as well.

Finally, I'm A PD has a good site. A newbie PD starting out in Los Angeles, writes about her fights and frustrations. Don't worry PD, you're doing just fine. It takes a while to get really comfortable in this field, I know you'll be fine.

Sorry I haven't posted more. I have a couple of thoughts percolating, though.

Monday, July 19, 2004

First of all, long time no post.  No big reason, I just haven't felt it of late.  
 
Martha Stewart
 
My prediction.  She could easily get her conviction reversed.  But, I have little sympathy for the big time white collar defendants.  The only reason I have any sympathy for her is that I think she was the victim of a Republican House of Rep inspired witch hunt done primarily to divert attention from Enron (remember, that's when they started going after her and Wachsel, another big-time Democrat, at the time when the heat was turning on to the folks at Enron, who are big-time Republicans).
 
To begin with, how can the prosecution come up with a case for perjury against the ink specialist (who testified that there was a different ink on the page that said "sell at 60" or something to that effect), requiring him to have told a lie that was MATERIAL at the same time as they say his lie did not affect the litigation enough to warrant a new trial?
 
Perhaps I'm missing something, but I just don't see it.  If his lie is material enough to the prosecution that they file on him, then it must have affected the litigation.  This smacks of working out of both sides of their mouth.
 
Next, it seems wrong that she and Bokanavic were tried together.  I didn't follow the trial all that much, but statements that one of them made to the investigators were used in the joint trial, even though neither took the stand and neither had the opportunity to cross-examine them while the statements were being used against them.  This is a classic example of Aranda/Bruton, where your co-defendant's statement is admitted even though it implicates you and you don't have a chance to cross-examine that person on the stand.  I don't remember the example exactly from the case, but there were a couple of examples of where one person's statement hurt the co-D.  Such situations require severance.
 
Lastly, anyone who wants to go and criticise public defenders remember this, her high priced lawyers let her speak with the investigators, and it was these lies that resulted in her conviction.  Not because she lied to them and it made her look dishonest over a larger issue, but the lies were the crime.  I know of very few public defenders who would let their clients speak to the government when there is a chance of being filed on.  To put it in the context we can relate to more, if the police want to come and talk to you about your claiming too high a deduction for donating your car on your taxes (you claimed retail and only should've, in light of your car's condition, claimed high wholesale, or $500 more), would you go and try and talk your way out of this one knowing that talking your way out could get you in prison for a few years?  Any lawyer who let you talk is crazy.
 
Who knows, perhaps she insisted, this is not unusual in cases where you have high profile defendants who are used to getting their way and wowing the public.  If that's the case, then she certainly got what she deserves just for defying her lawyers when they suggested she act otherwise.  It's about time our advice turns out to be correct.