Protecting Democracy

What’s strange–

and really more dangerous than anything else

–is that both sides on January 6

thought they were protecting democracy.

No More English

Not Arabic; Gender also Appear in Arabic

Efforts to “de-gender” the English language by using neologisms (e.g. “latinx”) have failed, even though English is not as gender-obsessed as the Romance languages or German. The only real solution is a language that does not recognize gender at all. One such language–though to be clear, I don’t speak it yet–is Farsi, otherwise known as Persian, a genderless Indo-European, non-tonal language. From now on, please write in Farsi only so as not to offend anyone’s sensibilities.


(The French word for thanks is commonly used in Iran; a potentially dangerous intrusion from a gender-obsessed language that will have to be dealt with in the future.)

gender #latinx #genderbias #language #farsi #persian

British Ooze Under Your Shoes

Anyone who makes it from Calais, whether legally or not, should be given refugee status because of their successful efforts to land on British soil. Just as possession is 9/10ths of the law and “finders keepers, loosers weepers”:

“British ooze under the shoes” confers the ancient right of abode.

Some of these immigrants have traveled thousands of miles. That determination should be worth something.

Plus, these days, there’s lots of jobs to go around.

Convince me I’m wrong.

Assange Plea

Here are the outlines for a face-saving plea for the USG in the Assange case:

  • Guilty plea to a felony computer crime
  • Three year cap, credit for time in Belmarsh.
  • Non-reporting probation.

Julian gets his freedom back, USG gets a guilty plea, Julian free to travel anywhere except USA.

Not Refugees

Chilean-resident Haitians who have lived in Chile for five years are not refugees.

Chile #haiti #refugees #Panama

immigration policy

Evergreening the Vig


“To roll over unpaid amounts on loans, adding to the total amount outstanding.”

Loan sharks have long simply added unpaid vig to the total amt.owed without needing to name the practice.

banking #creditoreal #mafia

Save Money on Business Consulting

No need to waste millions on McKinsey’s business consulting advice; the t-shirt says it all.

LIV PGA Hypocrisy

There is so little to write about when covering golf that the slightest variation from the game’s white-bread norm is newsworthy. Because what happens in the game is infrequent and hard to see and takes little more than 90 seconds on Youtube (discounting the interminable ads, of course) discussing player’s fashion choices (Payne Stewart) sex addiction (Tiger Woods) or Saudi Arabia is about all the sports journos have to write about.

Thanks to LIV, the new Saudi-funded tournament, there is a lot to talk about, as talent to hit a golf ball must surely include an in-depth knowledge of the Kingdom, its customs and traditions. Who better to ask about Saudi Arabia than Phil Mickelson? Who has spent more time studying the nuances of the relationship between the United States and the Kingdom than Northern Ireland’s Rory McIllroy? Questions about the Islamic shari’a can be addressed to Bubba Watson, who surely must have expertise in this area.

John Daley hasn’t won a tournament in decades, but because he is “colorful” i.e., smokes, drinks, is unapologetically overweight and has a passion for Diet Coke, he is routinely granted sponsors’ exemptions anyway in a desperate effort to spice things up. Daly’s “non-country club appearance and attitude” (Wikipedia) have carried him far in a sport where homogeneity is king. Who are these sponsors anyway? Daly gets to play in PGA events, but a pro who played in a LIV tournament? God forbid.

Pro golfers, according to the PGA’s tax returns are independent contractors, except when they act like independent contractors and sell their services to the highest bidder. Then they’re something else, but exactly what no one knows. Foreign governments sponsoring professional athletics? The cheek!

But ask yourself if there would be the same reaction if Scotland, Spain or Japan—where golf is a legitimate religion—were sponsoring LIV instead. Probably not, which suggests that the controversy is merely masked Islamophobia, racism and good old American hate.

Sometimes I wish Eisenhower hadn’t taken up the game.

Kids Need Guns and They Need Them Now

“Imagine some would-be mass shooter bursting into a classroom only to be faced almost instantly by the barrels of at least 15 to 20 handguns.”

Read more:

Not Looking Good

The number of Active Covid-19 cases in Bahrain continues to rise.

On the Submission of Appellate Briefs

One great way to have a brief pompously returned is to you with directions to “correct and re-file” is to include any kind of graphic. The appellate clerk’s office is filled with martinets. Your only hope is to file an application for leave to include a graphic. 99% of these will be denied. Font-size, word count, how words are counted (teenager, teen-ager or teen ager?) are pimples the clerks love to pick.

After such an experience, and knowing that words expended to identify a font are not counted, I included a two-page history of a famous Venetian font, Bembo, with the story of its digital revival.

(This was done in the context of an Anders brief in a case where there were no issues but due process theater.)

The clerk’s office accepted the brief but told me not to do it again.

Kosovo and Ukraine

Kosovo voted for independence and the will of the people was respected.

Crimea voted for union with Russia and the will of the people was ignored.

The war in Ukraine is not what you think.

Not Looking Good

Active Covid-19 cases in Bahrain for the month of June, 2022. The numbers are going up, not down.

Lawyers Futzing

Do clients know they are paying seasoned lawyers to futz with document formatting? This is a direct result of getting rid of secretaries. How many fruitless attorney hours are wasted fixing fomatting; correcting autonumbering errors and the like?

Or my favorite: having local counsel fill in forms on templates where the phrase “use additional sheets where necessary” is missing.

How many hours lost (by clients but billed by law firms) as attorneys try to tweak the forms, fix hyphenation, add numbered lists, etc.?

If you were a client would you pay for it? So why do lawyers expect non-lawyer clients to dig into their pockets?

If typography is your hobby, have at it, but don’t expect the client to pay for your foolishness.

Infected Thought

Reuters asks: “should a female elephant have some of the same legal rights as humans? In a push to free the one named Happy from the Bronx Zoo, an animal rights group asks New York’s top court that question .”

What about male elephants? Should they not have the same rights as female elephants?

Or has the vice of political correctness so infected thought that Reuters thought it appropriate to tell us the elephant’s gender, as if it had anything to do with the issue?

How Many Banks?

According to the NY Times, at least 20 banks are putting up 1/3rd of the money Elon needs to buy Twitter.

Roe v. Wade Leak

First drafts don’t get typeset in 12 pt Century. This is a “draft” only in the sense that there may be line-edits and cites checked.

Not that there will be substantive changes.

Expect this to be the opinion of the Court. They have already voted.

Twitter’s Largest Foreign Shareholder

I have pointed out that KSA is the largest foreign shareholder of Twitter. I was corrected here and ate crow.

But this was just posted following PWBT’s dust-up with Elon Musk.

Musk #Twitter #SaudiArabia

Kyle Rittenhouse back in the News

Kyle Rittenhouse criticized Biden (for criticizing him). Kyle, here’s some advice: some day you might become a pundit. If that’s your goal—and we both know it’s not—enroll at the University of Arizona, the University of Illinois (SIU or Champaign, either will do); get your bachelor’s in criminology. Now try to parlay your fifteen minutes into a substantial gig. That might simply be a lowly but honest job as a police officer—which you did want—or a first responder. Maybe even a federal agent, though right now this is a stretch. You were already a fan of community service before your fifteen minutes; lending a hand now will be even more significant. Half the country hates you and a quarter of them will always hate you. You can still make important contributions to this country.

But political tweeting is not one of them. At least, not now.

Or, I suppose you could realize that in this country, notoriety has value. Even an acquitted defendant in a Wisconsin homicide case can grab headlines. Move to California, start dating wanna-be actresses: to be seen with you is a chance to be noticed. Try a reality: “Flip Like Ritt” can be the title of your show about how you rehab houses. Maybe do one season. Maybe a creepy Wisconsin show. The State boasts at least two notorious cannibal serial killers. Wasn’t there a witch in Waukesha? It might be a stretch, but there should be enough for etght episodes. Take acting lessons and who knows? You might make straight to video popular again.

The choice is yours. Personally, I think you’ve got a better shot with the first alternative, but then, I’m sitting in Saudi Arabia. Whaddo I know?

A Second Act

(Congressman Alcee Hastings died this week).

Alcee Hastings, a civil rights leader in the 1970’s, was the first black federal district judge in Florida. Judge Alcee Hastings sat on the bench in federal court while the old Miami power structure conspired to get rid of him. Later he would be indicted for bribery, acquitted and impeached anyway. Even today, the truth of the allegations against him are in dispute. The impeachment trial in the Senate only removed him from judicial office; for a second time the senators found him “not guilty” of accepting bribes. After he was impeached, he returned to private practice before running for federal office in Broward County. There he was elected to the US House of Representatives, today he is the longest-serving member of the House; a stunning reversal of fortune.

While I had one case before Judge Hastings while he was still on the bench, it did not go to trial. I was in his courtroom and witnessed him sentence a woman under the federal minimum mandatory guidelines, which he felt were unfair. He gave her a reporting date five years in the future. This was unheard of: the defendant would be able to go home and live her life for five years before having to surrender to prison. Judge Hastings disagreed with those laws, which had a disproportionate effect on black defendants. I wonder if this creative sentencing was the kind of conduct that was behind the successful effort to impeach him.

After he was impeached, Judge Hastings briefly went into private practice. He was always friendly and had a smile for everyone–and a long list of clients. After he left the bench, Judge Hastings started off, like I did, as a panel attorney, appointed by the court to represent defendants who had no money for his defense. I used to see him at MCC-Miami where we both came to visit clients. Those I know who practiced with him said that he made the transition from the bench without bitterness and did a good job for his clients. Judge Hastings had the opportunity to see the best Miami lawyers practice before him and was able to see their skills displayed.

Judicial bribery accusations were in fashion and the FBI had mounted an investigation of the Dade county judiciary they called Operation Court Broom. Sitting judges and attorneys were indicted in federal court, the Date county State court bench was accused of being a racketeering enterprise. Even “Maximum Morphonious,” a newsworthy tough judge and former Florida State beauty queen, was caught up in the allegations.

The Court Broom trials resulted not only in convictions, but Bar discipline and at least one sitting judge losing an election. A half-dozen or so lawyers were indicted for bribing the judges. All were convicted. All lost their licenses to practice law. State special public defenders not indicted had their invoices audited just to be on the safe side; one of them, former judge Ted Mastos, blamed “bad bookkeeping” on the fact that he had billed the State for more than 30 hours in a single day—they really should make accounting a required course in law school.

The most astonishing result in the Court Broom cases was the acquittal of Judge Philip Davis. Despite having been caught on tape snorting cocaine and taking a one hundred thousand dollar bribe, Judge Davis was acquitted. He was represented by Alcee Hastings.

They still talk about Hastings’ closing argument in the Justice Building. This goes to prove the wisdom that you never know what is going to happen at trial. A few years later, Davis was charged by the State for stealing money from a charity he had set up. Hastings was by then a sitting congressman and could not represent him. This time Davis, no longer a judge, was convicted. The sentence of twenty years seems rather harsh unless you take into account karma for the previous acquittal.

Another one of Hastings’ infamous clients was Yahweh ben Yahweh, a religious leader whose followers wore white robes and terrorized anyone who dared to stand up against them with violence.

Eventually the justice system came around to Judge Hastings’ view that the Sentencing guidelines were unfair. The guidelines were changed to be advisory, not mandatory. Crack cocaine guidelines were made consistent with those guidelines applicable to powder. But by then, Judge Hastings had long been off the bench. I never found out what happened to the woman who was given that five-year gift of time.

I never had the opportunity to try a case with Judge Hastings. He ran for Congress from a newly created district in Broward county, was elected and held his seat for twenty years. He never sought revenge against his new colleagues though they had voted to impeach him. I never heard anyone complain about his tenure as a Congressman. Ironically, at the time of his death he was on a committee which vetted candidates for the federal bench.

His life is strong evidence against F.Scott Fitzgerald’s adage that “there are no second acts in American lives.”

Don’t Turn off the Projector

Only one type of speech is properly prohibited and that is speech which seeks to censor others. A person who advocates censoring others should himself be censored. Censorship is needed, many will argue, citing the example of the one who yells “Fire” in a crowded theater. A person who commits such an act should be punished, but his speech cannot be the subject of before the fact censorship for the simple reason that it has not yet occurred. If there is evidence that a person will yell “Fire” when he is in a crowded theater—for example, if he has done so before1—then he can be barred from crowded theaters. The risk that someone will yell “Fire!” is no reason to pull the plug on the projector.

By all means, punish those who commit crimes and who cannot conform their conduct to the rules of society. In the 1970’s, the Progressive magazine was allowed to publish the design of a thermonuclear weapon, because prohibiting the magazine’s right to publish was considered a dangerous assault on the freedom of the press. Today the press applauds the deplatforming of a former president of the United States as well as his allies, those who believe conspiracy theories or even those who reject the approved narrative, lest those with weak minds come to believe lies.

Julian Assange sits in jail, as best as I understand, because he is a difficult personality The Legacy Media should be screaming bloody murder and demanding his release. They do not, afraid to lose their sources in the government and their privileged access as stenographers.

Embolden the censors and lose the Panama Papers. Lose the Paradise Papers.

How far the champions of the free press have fallen. How far have fallen we all.

  1. Or if he has threatened to do so. [return]

Da’esh and the Dakotas

The report of Jeffrey Stahl Ferris’ suicide after a federal jury found him guilty of terror-related charges in North Dakota seemed strange to me. Da’esh, that is, ISIS, has but a tenuous grasp of geography outside what were traditional Muslim lands. New York they know, Florida they know (because of Disney) and they know Washington. But that’s really about it. The plot to blow up the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago was not hatched by those accused of planning the bombing, but by a Lebanese informant who was paid handsomely for the suggestion. What would Da’esh want with North Dakota?

As it turns out, nothing. The Ferris’ case was only “terror-related” in the world of National Enquirer exaggeration and federal make-believe. Ferris lived and worked on the Chippewa Reservation and was a former EMT. After a series of incidents of vandalism, he came upon a group of teenagers he suspected of those crimes and chased them with his Jeep. They took off on motorbikes and four-wheel ATV’s. He caught one of them and held him at gunpoint while he called for police.

Holding the teen at gunpoint was the “terror-related” act. The report that he drove his automobile at high speeds closer to the teenagers sounded like another jihadi aiming a car at a group of innocent pedestrians in the big city, a scenario that has become all too common.

The jury found him guilty of the firearm in commission of a felony charge, but acquitted him on charges relating to the chase. He was convicted on one assault charge, and my guess is that is the same charge arising out of his pointing his gun at the teen while telling him he was calling the police.

At most this was an improper citizen’s arrest, committed by a man (who I guess) was tired of vandalism in his community. No one was harmed. Did he use excessive force? Let’s put it this way: if Ferris were a policeman, there would have been no charges. The AUSA would have laughed it off.

So what is going on here? What are the takeaways from this story?

Stories like this make it difficult to trust the Press. What went out on the wire around the world was a story of terrorism in North Dakota. It was nothing of the sort. Secondly, the need to prosecute, to make cases, filtered through the bunker war mentality of Washington makes even the most minor infraction a matter of federal import.

After 9/11, the FBI reassigned many of their agents to the jihadi beat without additional training. Agents that had previously monitored biker gangs were now asked to target Al Qaeda. It didn’t work.

Why the proverbial book was thrown at Ferris, I don’t know. Maybe he was just a cranky old man tired of the teenagers pissing on his lawn. But faced with an almost-certain seven years in prison, it is no small wonder that he took his own life.

Bad Luck for Me

I spent a good deal of February researching and writing a brief volume titled, Saudi Arabia Privacy Law, anticipating the effective date of Saudi Arabia’s own personal data protection law, modeled after the European Union’s GDPR. Unfortunately for me, one day before the law was to take effect, the Saudi regulator postponed enforcement of the law for one year. Since the law itself contains a one-year enforcement grace period, that means the law won’t take effect until 17 March 2024. Between now and then, the law’s implementing regulations as well as the law itself will be substantially modified from their present form.

The book will have to be substantially revised as well. Oh well.

Houthis Hit Refinery in Jeddah

The Houthis have substantially improved the accuracy of their targeting and hit an Aramco refinery in Jeddah. This is bad enough, but that refinery is supplied by Aramco’s East-West pipeline which carries 5 million barrels per day. If the refinery has to shut down operations or the storage facility where the oil is kept is compromised, the pipeline shuts down as well and 5 million bpd are lost to world markets.

The Interview with the Prime Minister

Context: a few weeks ago, an influencer announced that he had obtained an exclusive interview with the press-shy prime minister of Thailand and posted a selfie as proof. He boasted about his a journalistic coup and preached to other journalists to “push harder.” No interview was immediately forthcoming and the foreign press was suspicious and began to question his claims. Finally, he posted the “interview,” such as it was. The prime minister’s only contribution was the word ‘thanks.’ The foreign press began to mock the influencer, and I thought, maybe if the episode was portrayed as a bit of gonzo journalism, it would have been OK. I modestly suggested an alternative interview, which follows.

“ My editor called the night before and asked me where was the piece about the coup in Myanmar. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I was still in Thailand, and hung up the phone while I was talking so it would appear that I had been cut-off. A girl whose name obviously wasn’t Barby had given me a cat the night before. I vaguely remember, before the ya ba hit, something about taking care of it, but in the morning Barby had already texted me asking where the cat was–how did she get my number?–so I called the office and asked them about the next flight to Yangon. “Do you have your visa?” they asked and of course, “no,” I said, “I thought that was your responsibility.”

Stressed and getting more stressed by the minute, I went to the buffet in the hotel where I hoped I could at least get a cup of coffee. Maybe I could stay in Bangkok and file something from here, no one would ever know. A group of tourists were using plates as shovels at the free buffet; I had never seen such hungry people, though their waistlines suggested that throughout their long lives they had missed but few meals. I asked about the cat but no one knew anything; I approached the concierge and it turned out he wasn’t officially connected with the hotel but told me nevertheless all about his cousin who had a fine handicrafts shop featuring generous discounts and why I should visit. “I’m worried about the cat,” I told him. “Don’t worry about the cat,” he said, “it doesn’t know it’s lost.” I was afraid that the editor would cut me off so what the hell, I’d go to Burma for the day, with or without the visa. Maybe I’d offer a bottle of booze as a present, or a $100 bill and if anyone accused me of bribery I’d say I thought we had flown east and I was in Cambodia where visas on arrival are bought for a hundred bucks. Honest mistake.

I gave up on the cat and went back to the buffet where a minor consideration was exchanged for a glass of whisky. Old Commander, not Johnny Black, the bottle was from India, I had never seen it before but it went down smooth. I needed to take the edge of off the ya ba but wasn’t having much luck. Both the cat and the concierge were already in the past when a driver I hadn’t yet ordered to take me to the airport drove up. I took my suitcase and the laptop and flashed a White House ID I had been given from a friend who knew a guy who had once attended a fund-raiser hosted by the Clintons, it had his picture on it but so what, it was a great-official looking ID with the White House seal on it and everything that allowed you to attend an event that had occurred ten years ago. I put it on a lanyard and I must say, even without my glasses–maybe Barby could explain where they were–I looked official, good to go. My visage in the mirror was all bokeh, but hell, it smooths out the wrinkles so maybe that was OK.

On the way to the airport I was preparing to be held hostage or taken to the concierge’s cousin’s handicrafts shop on the way but neither event occurred or stop made and the driver accepted a modest tip without complaint. He asked me which airline and I didn’t know, so I told him “Burma” and I must have looked like those guys who are forever commuting between Isaan and Krung Thep so he dropped me at the domestic terminal.

At the counter I said “Burma” and they asked if I was going to the event. Not sure what event they were referring to, I nodded yes anyway but with the Old Commander and the still-potent effects of the ya ba and trying to remember what Barby had told me about the cat, everything was a blur, I did say Burma though, I’m sure of that–but as I made my way to the gate–getting through security wasn’t easy, I hadn’t brought a gun along because the x-rays always pick them up, but I had a pocket knife which I told them was for smoking tobacco–how do you smoke with a knife? they asked and I said, “it’s for cleaning out the pipe, not smoking per se” but they understood ‘Persian,’and then I’m whisked away to secondary where I explained that I wasn’t from Iran but they had already pulled my suitcase off the airplane, the luggage tag was marked ‘BFV’ on it, B for Burma, I figured, but the security officer and I ended up making friends and when I was asked if I had had anything to drink that morning I told the truth as you must always do with the police.

Seeing the lanyard around my neck, the officer assumed that I was some kind of big shot and offered me a beverage; I was happy to oblige–“I can’t let you drink alone,” I told him–and he did have Johnny Black, which was a tad better than the Old Commander, which by the way, wasn’t really that bad. I told him that I was on my way to Burma to write a story about the revolution; he looked at me and then at my glass, thinking that I was asking for more he poured a couple of fingers, a quite generous pour given that it still wasn’t noon and after we drained our glasses he personally took me to the gate, where I was surprised to see the press corps, what they were doing I had no idea, they couldn’t all be going to Burma, but then I looked at the leader board which said, “Buriram” so I figured we were going to Buriram. I showed my boarding pass–I hadn’t bothered to look at it before–and what the hell, Buriram was as good a place as any.

The airline rep at the counter saw the lanyard and asked me about it, I flashed it quickly, just long enough for her to make out the impressive looking seal. “The US is interested in this inaugural flight?” she asked. I pretended that I knew, but then asked, “what inaugural flight?” “The 737-Max has returned,” she said. “Like the swallows of Capistrano,” I replied, but she looked at me like she had no idea so I started to explain but, the hell with that, instead I asked her something ore important, if there was a bar at the gate, she said, no, and pointed back to the terminal. I wondered if there was time to get another drink–I could always get one on the plane, but one to smooth the take-off would help. For some reason I was assigned seat 1A.

As it was, I boarded last because I made the journey down the terminal anyway and they didn’t have alcohol so they sent me to one of the airline clubs but I didn’t have a pass to get in, so I flashed the lanyard while looking longingly at the bottle of Johnny Black on the counter just a few feet away. I really think the club attendant was going to allow me in officially but while she was still deciding I was already pouring. “You can’t leave with that,” she shouted as I made my way out the door. I couldn’t decide whether she meant alcohol wasn’t allowed in the terminal corridor or I because I had stolen the drink. “Don’t worry, it’s a traveller” I shouted as the door shut behind me.

I had almost finished the drink by the time I reached the gate, the last one on the plane. Seat 1A wasn’t far, thank God, and I handed my glass to the flight attendant who plucked the boarding pass from the coupon. 1A was already occupied. By, it turns out, the prime minister. “How ya doing?” I asked. “Has the beverage cart been by yet?” He shook his head. And that’s how I interviewed the prime minister.

Buriram is another story, but when I got back to Bangkok I wrote the above and called my editor. “Good news,” I said. “Forget Burma. I’ve got an interview with the prime minister instead.”

Push harder.”

Notes: ya ba is Thai for “crazy medicine,” the slang term for meth. The country to the west of Thailand is universally known as “Myanmar,” the word “Burma” is barely heard, and a Thai would pronounce that word as “burmá” anyway (but keep in mind that there is no hard border between ‘r’ and ‘l’ in spoken Thai. There are lesser known Angkor-era temples in Buriram, a pleasant city to the east of Bangkok, known for its football team.