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Posted by on Jan 20, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 0 comments

My Thoughts on Alan Dershowitz

 

 

MY THOUGHTS ON ALAN DERSHOWITZ

Alan Dershowitz has been picked to be on Donald Trump’s legal team in the U.S. Senate’s upcoming impeachment trial. Here are my thoughts on this high-profile legal celebrity.

I keep on hearing that Alan Dershowitz is a great legal scholar. Yet, what I’ve observed over the past 25 years is an artfully-crafted illusion, the concatenation of a media-obsessed subterfuge of publicity willing to argue *any* side of *any* legal controversy, no matter how ridiculous, so long as he gets to appear on television and reinforce his own mythology. I haven’t seen nor heard Dershowitz argue *anything* convincingly since the Von Bulow trial, and that fabrication four decades ago was spun by a movie.

First, let’s get one thing out of the way. I have no issue with any attorney taking any case to provide the best legal defense possible. I need not explain that to readers. If you don’t understand it or disagree, then please stop reading. We have zero common ground. What I take exception to, and hereby question is Dershowitz’s presumed commitments to justice when he’s so often been on the opposite side of is own arguments.  Moreover, I’m not casting aspersion to the legal defense of murderers and scumbags, rather — I’m stating Dershowitz has demonstrated an appalling lack of ability to persuade and be effective, despite countless opportunities to argue in dozens of settings and cases.

Dershowitz’s willingness to play the provocateur of persuasion is certainly good for theatrics. He’s a master ringleader of any political circus once he enters the big tent. Yet, he’s become so soiled with personal and professional contradictions, it’s now impossible to take him seriously, on anything. Especially anything with a political connotation. Go back and watch Dershowitz’s commentary on the Clinton impeachment during the late 90s, or his countless appearances in defense of murderer O.J. Simpson. They’re cringeworthy.

Do you want a better example of Dershowitz as a legal and political failure? I’ll give you three, each off the top of my head:

1. Years ago, ESPN did a mock civil trial on Major League Baseball and the battle between big-market and small-market teams. The question was on baseball’s competitive balance. It was a bold three-hour experiment on live television. Dershowitz argued on behalf of small-market teams, a view which I was vociferously in agreement with. Yet, Dershowitz was destroyed by opposing counsel Bruce Cutler. It was a major league ass-kicking. I had several arguments swirling in my head while watching, which Dershowitz failed to bring up. It was an embarrassing performance and the first hint that Dershowitz wasn’t nearly as smart or gifted as we thought.

2. Following the 2000 presidential election debacle (the Florida results went to the Supreme Court), Dershowitz wrote a book titled How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000. Entirely sympathetic to Dershowitz’s argument, I was seeking supporting material on my own for Gore’s case. So, I bought and read the book. Rarely has any text ever swayed me in the opposite direction, but somehow this legal scholar managed to do exactly that. This book, written for laypeople (non-legal people like me, was an appalling misfire. How does an author manage to defeat his own argument within his own text? I vowed never to waste $25 on another Dershowitz book again.

3. A few years later, Dershowitz wrote The Case for Israel, supposedly a defense of the Jewish state. Eager to expose myself to opposite points of view, I cracked open the book at a Barnes and Noble and spent an entire afternoon suppressing disbelief at how poorly-constructed Dershowitz’s written arguments were, both morally and politically. Any contributor to Foreign Affairs could easily have deconstructed and destroyed Dershowitz’s so-called “defense” of Israel. Once again, he managed to move a reader *away* from his side of the argument.

In fairness to Dershowitz, I’ve seen him debate numerous times (twice in person). Once, he debated Alan Keyes on the topic of religion in government. Predictably, Dershowitz took the secular side and mopped the floor with Keyes, which wasn’t exactly saying much. More recently, Dershowitz (I thought) won a heated debate about BDS (sanctions against Israel) against Dr. Cornel West, who appeared woefully unprepared in the back and forth. Those are the only two moments of Dershowitz’s lengthy career when he advanced his case in any way, and both wins were softballs.

Now, Dershowitz somehow gets pegged for Trump’s legal defense. Call me unimpressed.

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Posted by on Nov 18, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

My Thoughts on the Latest Colin Kaepernick Controversy

 

My Thoughts on the Latest Colin Kaepernick Controversy

Would-Be NFL Player/Activist Fumbles at the Worst Possible Moment

 

I tried. I really tried.

I tried to support and defend Colin Kaepernick, the unemployed multi-millionaire quarterback-turned-activist who was clearly the victim of disproportionate backlash from NFL fans and teams.  Please, mark me down as a supporter and a defender.

Here’s some perspective:  Women-beaters, drug abusers, accused rapists, and dog killers have signed and re-signed with teams. Those clearly guilty of serious crimes are cheered by fans, their despicable acts all but ignored by tribal mobs. But Kaepernick, an activist making a peaceful display of protest against racial injustice in America becomes an outcast and a pariah. Shame on the fans and teams for losing all sense of perspective and for their grotesque hypocrisy. Cheering for women beaters and dog killers while blasting Kaepernick makes you look like a joke.

That said, the NFL held a so-called “workout” this past weekend, which was likely Kaepernick’s one and last chance to prove he belongs in a uniform under contract. Not only did Kaepernick blow this opportunity in the worst way, but he also embarrassed himself and harmed the noble causes he supposedly espouses:

Here’s my perspective:

(1) There are approximately 96 NFL quarterbacks on 32 team rosters, and even more with practice squads and on injured reserve. Question — Is Kaepernick a “top 96” quarterback? The answer is yes, or at least *was* yes. Kaepernick took his last snap three years ago, in 2016. Nonetheless, given the current dregs of NFL quarterbacking (Chicago Bears, are you listening), Kaepernick would likely be, at worst, a capable backup who deserves a chance at playing.

(2) I was never of a fan of Kaepernick’s skill set, even when he was successful as a starter. He’s not the quarterback I’d want to build a team around. However, he was a winner, albeit on a very good team at the time.  Given the older retreads, mostly losing quarterbacks, who continue getting plenty of opportunities (Derek Anderson, Matt Cassel), and even start games (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Schaub), Kaepernick should be on a team somewhere.

(3) Kaepernick handled the initial controversy terribly (back in 2016). Showing up to team practice in socks portraying police officers as pigs was disgraceful and stupid. His public comments about there being no difference between then-candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton showed appalling ignorance. His admission that he didn’t even bother to vote in the 2016 election reveals the downright stupidity of a social influencer and bad example for others to follow.

(4) I, and many others inclined to support Kaepernick, chalked up those dumb comments in 2016 to simple immaturity, and perhaps not understanding the gravity of his actions. Over time, we expected the activist to understand his cause has become much bigger than any individual. Given Kaepernick had three years to learn more, develop better understanding, and explain himself, we thought he’d mature and perhaps even admit he was wrong in the way he handled the scrutiny.

(5) Kaepernick’s opportunity to show his skills and demonstrate he was still in football shape was a unique chance not given to any previous player. He should have agreed essentially to do whatever it took to sign with a team and contribute. Prospective teams were reportedly not looking so much at Kaepernick’s arm or legs of physicality but wanted to see if he really wanted to play. Unfortunately, he answered these questions before the workout by getting into a pointless legal spat about liabilities and waivers, demanding that cameras be allowed onto the field when NFL rules forbid such media attention, and then moved the location at the last minute. Nothing was gained by this idiotic last-minute dispute.

(6) Showing up in a t-shirt with the letters “KUNTA KINTE” on the front of his shirt was football suicide. Anyone, including supporters, who thought Kaepernick would be focused on his game and wouldn’t be a distraction was shown to be foolish. This ridiculous optic of self-comparison to the slave from “Roots,” was mind-bogglingly stupid.

(7) Lest there remain any doubt about Kaepernick’s confusion and mixed intentions over the weekend, he also made a huge deal out of a new line of shoes being released by Nike. This was nothing but a media sideshow intended to cash a paycheck. No one should care what Kaepernick, the prospective NFL player, is wearing or promoting. But he made an embarrassing spectacle of himself in pimping his shoes. This wasn’t the first time Kaepernick has created a sideshow that detracted from his message.

(8) Kaepernick is finished as an NFL quarterback. He will never take another snap. Prior to this weekend, that was the NFL’s fault, in an obvious case of collective bias and collusion. Now, Kaepernick’s fate is his own doing. It’s his own fault, likely shared by some idiotic agents and personal advisors.

My main takeaway from this mess is that we can and should separate the message from the messenger. Indeed, the justice system in this country is biased. Protests are justified. Kneeling for the National Anthem is an act of patriotism. Speaking out for one’s personal beliefs is very American. Kaepernick is not only worth defending *on* the football field. He should be hailed as a hero and a role model.

But “off” the field, Kaepernick has fumbled at the worst possible moment. He turned over any advantage to his haters and detractors with a series of preposterous blunders. He lost the undecided and made a mockery out of those who were adamant in supporting him publically.

Surely, a decade from now, perhaps sooner, there will be an ESPN “30 for 30” when Kaepernick will be celebrated and remembered as a brave person of principle. In some respects, that praise shall be deserved. However, in the meantime, all Kaepernick has done is stupidly waste two opportunities — his chance to play in the NFL again, and our chance to evolve into a nation with a better understanding of social activism and the things worth defending.

Mr. Kaepernick — you’ve got your shoe company money. You got your media attention. Now, please — go away. I don’t want to hear from you again.

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Posted by on Sep 26, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 1 comment

What’s at Stake in the Latest Trump Scandal? Answer: Maybe the Future of American Democracy.

 

 

Provided you’re paying attention, we’re witnessing the nation’s ultimate test. We are about to find out in the coming weeks and months ahead — does our system work? Does democracy function? Will the constitution save us?

In the past, we’ve survived terrorist attacks, armed invasions, and even a civil war. But we’ve never been subject to a rebellious insurrection from within our own government at the very highest level, where the most powerful person in the country, cheered blindly by millions of loyalists, willingly and deliberately subverts 230 years of democratic tradition and openly trashes so many fundamental tenets of law, civility, and diplomacy.

In 1974, President Nixon came close to posing a similar threat like the one we face now. But Nixon, well trained in the law, highly-experienced in federal politics, and a proud veteran of World War II, had the common decency to save the nation from a grueling legal battle he could not win and resigned. The system *worked.*

I’m reminded of the tense scene from 1976’s “All the President’s Men” when Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee schools two young reporters working the Watergate scandal on what’s at stake in uncovering the crimes of a president.

“Have you seen the results of the latest Gallup Poll?” Bradlee asks Woodward on Berstein on his front lawn. “Half the country’s never heard of Watergate. Nobody gives a shit.”

Bradlee takes a long pause, then dismisses popular opinion and public indifference.

“….nothing’s riding on this — except the First Amendment, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country,” Bradlee says.

Although the scandals, the personalities, and the specifics are different today, Bradlee’s call to arms in defense of truth is a rallying cry every bit as important now as then. It reveals why Democrats MUST continue to investigate, and if warranted, pursue articles of impeachment. They MUST do this not because there are guarantees of success, but rather because the costs of doing nothing are much higher.

If we let this pass, it means our system will have collapsed. It means descending into a murky abyss where law and order no longer matters. It means lies can and will obfuscate the truth. It means an abrupt end to any co-equal branches of government and dissolution of the rightful powers and responsibilities they are granted by the constitution.

The stakes are even higher now than during Watergate because Nixon had no army of sycophants nor foreign confederates nor a slanted media eager and willing to knowingly pollute the minds of millions with his lies.  Indeed, Trump has all off these terrible tools at his disposal and he is using them like a sledgehammer.  He and his army of liars will make square pegs fit into round holes and call his version of the truth — a perfect fit.

If Trump gets away with such a vast panoply of high crimes, be certain that far worse crimes will follow.

Let us see if our system works and the truth shall set us free, once again.

 

 

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Posted by on May 19, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

Attention U.S. Secret Service: There is a Madman Loose in the White House

 

These tweets by Donald J. Trump speak for themselves:

Hypocrisy Exhibit A:

 

Hypocrisy Exhibit B:

 

Hypocrisy Exhibit C:

 

Hypocrisy Exhibit D:

 

Side Note:  Just curious about Twitter and its terms and conditions:  Isn’t there some rule about threatening to kill people on Twitter?  What about when someone threatens to kill 81 million people?

 

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Posted by on May 9, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 5 comments

So, You’re Still a Republican?

 

 

SO, YOU’RE STILL A REPUBLICAN?

Fine.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on MORALITY.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on your so-called “CHRISTIAN VALUES.”

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on TAKING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ACTIONS.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about GOVERNMENT SPENDING or FEDERAL DEFICITS.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on PAYING YOUR OWN BILLS.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on ADHERING TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on following THE RULE OF LAW.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about CIVILITY.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about CRONYISM, NEPOTISM, or CORRUPTION.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on PROTECTING THE COUNTRY FROM FOREIGN INTERFERENCE.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on anything to do with RUSSIA.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about CARING FOR THE POOR AND THE ELDERLY.

— — Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about RESPECTING FAMILIES OF THE WAR DEAD.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about CARING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT or PROTECTING ANIMALS.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about HONESTY.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about TELLING THE TRUTH.

From your deafening silence, your constant deflection, your incessant what-about-ism, and your self-imposed bubble of blind ignorance, you have made a clear choice, an appalling demonstration of precisely where you stand on all the important issues of the day, and it’s not flattering.

The bottom line is — you will NEVER lecture me again on anything.

 

— Nolan Dalla

 

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