Monday, October 17, 2016

Who's laughing now?

Snuffed out
Years back when obamacare was first introduced, there were claims that death panels would soon spring up.  As claimed by the GOP and other politicians, it was claimed that such death panels would have the power to determine who lived or died.  Of course, those pushing for obamacare poo pooed the idea as preposterous and so out in "left" field as to not warrant comment.

Seems the GOP and other politicians weren't so out in "left" field.  In 2015, Gov. Jerry (Moonbeam) Brown signed the End of Life Option Act.  What this act does is change California Health & Safety Code Section 443 et seq to include provisions to allow persons to be prescribed drugs by doctors to help end their life (i.e. state sanctioned, legal-assisted suicide) in instances where said persons are terminally ill.  As Gov. Moonbeam noted:
In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death.  I don't know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain.  I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to consider the options afforded by this bill.  And I wouldn't deny that right to others.
What a load of crap.  Have you EVER heard of a single instance where government has acted altruistically?!  It's always about money.  The only way to get government off your back is to sue them for lots and LOTS of money.  The only thing government understands (and knows what to do) is spending YOUR money.  

Of course, all of this talk of death and dying reminds me of that scene in Soylent Green where people tired of living go to end their life (and have their bodies dumped in a vat to be turned into food for the living).  In the case of the End of Life Option Act, I have no doubt but that insurance companies were begging to get this bill passed spending millions in political kickbacks (so that they don't have to pay for sick people anymore).  In fact, this bill was created in a "special" session and that it will be California taxpayers who will be paying for the "prescription" drugs (to the tune of anywhere from $400 to $5,000) to pay to terminate the lives of people we no longer want to take care of.  Yep, that's the kind of government intervention that I've come to expect from career politicians.

While I am ever cynical on the motives of government, that does not mean you should be or should allow yourselves to live in denial.  Best thing you can do, then, is bone up on this new End of Life Option Act (California is the 5th state to adopt such a law) so that you don't let someone else determine whether (or when) you go gently into that good night.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Privacy for whom?

It's all ok until you are caught
It's that time again.  Yep, time to throw your money to the wind and buy another lottery ticket for the chance (however ever large that is these days) to win millions of dollars.  

Of course, if you do win, everyone (including your family, neighbors, friends, and scam artists will come knocking on your door to claim a portion of your new found wealth.

Have you ever wondered why that is?  Why is it when someone wins the lottery that everyone knows it was you? Well, as it turns out, most every state that has a lottery has a rule that all winners names are public record; your name and the city in which you reside.  In 2013, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that called for a one-year delay in releasing names because it "could" reduce lottery sales.  No evidence that it would but heaven forbid we the people are secure in our persons

Really?  So the reason government releases the names of formerly private persons is to keep the money flowing?  That the only thing governments care about is money?  Don't care about privacy rights of the individuals - gotta make sure that pipeline of cash keeps moving through.  Heck, California made a game of all this by incorporating the "right" to announce people's names (specifically, those people who win the California Lottery) in the California Public Records Act.  

The thing that roils me is the reasoning politicians make for making the names of people public record who win the lottery.  "Winners need to be public so the public has faith in the lottery," said Phil Ting, D-San Francisco.  So, in politician-speak, what you are saying is, as long as everyone knows what every one is doing, we'll all have faith that no one is doing anything wrong?  Is that about it, Mr. Ting?

So, when you (Mr. Ting) assisted your fundraiser, Safai Ahsha, to avoid paying lots and lots of property taxes on a house purchased back in 2007, you made sure everyone was watching, right?  No?

Or how about when you repeatedly violated state ethics rules by ghost voting for fellow assembly members on bills, you made sure the public knew it was you all along, right? No?

Funny how the laws always seem to favor the politicians. Don't do things unless everyone knows who is doing them, right Mr. Ting?  I guess privacy "rights" only extend to the privileged few (i.e. politicians and criminals, but I repeat myself).

Monday, October 3, 2016

Word of the Month for October 2016: Stupid

Stupid people doing REALLY stupid things
I know.  I know.  It's not a nice thing to call someone STUPID.  My kids remind me of this every day as it is an entrenched part of my vocabulary. I say that word many, many times. Today, however, "STUPID" is exactly the correct word to use and is the word that I am going to use a few times in this post to describe the STUPID thing that these people did.

Earlier this year, three Canadians were arrested and charge with trying to smuggle over 200 pounds of cocaine into Australia worth $30 million.  Seems the trio had boarded a cruise liner in Southampton (England) which made several stops in South America.  I just checked the map and I gotta say, that is one heck of a cruise - from England, across the Atlantic, along the eastern side of South America, through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific, and down to Sydney, Australia.

Sad thing is, these girls are pretty hot (looking, not smart).  Here is where the STUPID part comes in. See, I would think that if you're going to smuggle $30 million in illegal drugs, you really, REALLY want to maintain a low profile.  Nope, these girls don't know the meaning of low profile since they documented their entire trip via social media.  In this case, Instagram.  

According to Webster's Third New International Dictionary unabridged, STUPID is defined as:
Marked by or resulting from dullness or unintelligent thinking; senseless (ex: a stupid refusal to be realistic)
I don't know at what point the authorities found out about the drugs.  Heck, the authorities don't know if the trio had the drugs when they boarded the boat or sometime during stops in South America.  The thing is they were on to these three from day one and were watching them like hawks.  

The reality of things are/were, at some point they were going to be searched and caught.  The sad thing is most criminals believe they'll never get caught.  Not only did these three get caught (thanks in no small part to the photos they posted on Instagram during the entire trip) but now they are all looking at life sentences.

Moral to this story, if you're going to do something illegal, DO NOT brag about it online.  Better yet, delete all social media accounts if you decide to go into a life of crime.  That way, you won't be tempted to do something STUPID, like post pictures of yourself doing something criminal.

Monday, September 26, 2016


Taking a bribe
In recent months (and years), we have read about stories where public "officials" have been caught stealing monies from the public till, OR getting caught accepting bribes, OR getting caught with their pants (or panties) down around their ankles.

Today's story is about an enterprising young man named Juan Lopez, Jr.  Seems Junior worked for the Orange County Superior Court as a Court Clerk.  While not a high profile gig (basically a glorified paper pusher), it was steady work.  For the record, Court Clerk's earn about $27,000 a year.  Not something to laugh at but in Southern California, that's pretty much poverty rate.

So, what's an enterprising Court Clerk going to do to make up the difference?  He's going to do some side work, that's what he's going to do.  In this case, for a "fee," Junior (allegedly) would make criminal cases and traffic tickets disappear.  That's right, disappear.  With a few subtle clicks on the computer, Junior could make it look like people served time, or that criminal charges had been dismissed, or even make it look like entire fines had been paid to the court.

I suspect it's not that people got off so much as monies were being denied to the cash-strapped Superior Court. Want to piss off a bureaucrat?  Take money from them (or ask them to take a pay cut) - which is what Junior was doing and, as such prosecutors are calling this a bribery case (because a "public" employee was taking side monies to effectuate favors for people).

In any case, Junior is looking at some serious time in the pokey.  If he's reading this blog (as he ans everyone should), I would suggest he head over to his local county law library and take a look at:

  • California Criminal Defense Practice (Lexis)
  • California Criminal Law: procedure and practice (CEB)
  • Criminal Law Defense Techniques (Lexis)
  • White Collar Crime (Thomson Reuters)

Moral to the story, I'm guessing they found out when Junior starting driving up in cars he couldn't possibly afford, or wearing clothes he couldn't possibly afford, or going on vacations he couldn't possible afford, or buying a house he couldn't possibly afford.  See a trend here?  If you're going to do something illegally, don't draw attention to yourself.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Where are your children?

Another ostrich hiding their head in the sand
Picture it.  You're unconscious laying in bed.  Dead to the world, you are dreaming of pink clouds and unicorns.  Well, I don't dream about pink clouds and unicorns, but you might. Anyway, around 2AM you get a knock on the door and find two police officers standing there.  Seems, they tell you, your son has been involved in a shooting and he is dead.  My son? Not my son.  My son is safe in his bed.  My son would not be out at all hours.  My son... 

Scary scenario, to be sure, but it's happening more and more.  Just today, I received a notice on my cell phone about yet another homicide of a 17-year-old kid who was gunned down at 1:12AM in a church parking lot of all places.  What I want to know is where were the parents in all this?  Did they know their kid was out after curfew?  I'm betting this isn't the first time kid was out past midnight so, where is the liability of allowing a kid to be out at all hours of the night?!?

Turns out, there are a number of states that have laws to prosecute parents and guardians who fail to supervise kids under their charge.  Under California Penal Code section 272(a)(1):
Every person who commits any act or omits the
performance of any duty, which act or omission causes or tends to cause or encourage any person under the age of 18 years ... to so live as would cause or manifestly tend to cause that person to become or to remain a person within the provisions of Section 300, 601, or 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both fine and imprisonment in a county jail, or may be released on
probation for a period not exceeding five years.
For reference Section 300 of the California Welfare & Institutions Code defines Children subject to Juvenile Court Jurisdiction, Section 601 defines minors who are habitually disobedient or truant (i.e. stay out after curfew), and Section 602 defines laws which, if committed by a person under 18 years of age, makes them wards of the court.

While there are parents out there in parental land who say they can't control their kids; that they aren't responsible if their kids are out late or commit crimes, that's just not true. Acting like an ostrich will not (and/or should not) absolve a parent of liability and saying you didn't see it doesn't make the problem go away.

What is the line, see a problem, fix the problem.  If you think your kid is out of control, seek help.  Do not do as the ostrich and look the other way.  Stand up and seek assistance for your kids.  In the very least, when they're being carted off to prison, they can't say you didn't try.