Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stop Redistribution of Wealth

If Republicans are against redistribution of wealth, they should stop promoting it.  Over the past decades the productivity of American workers has shot up, while wages have flat lined.  Since productivity equals economic output, where has the wealth gone?

The wealth has flowed upward.  Tax policies that stem this flow are actually minimizing redistribution.  These are the very policies that Republicans condemn.

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Blog


I am devoting most of my blogging time to my new blog:

My new ebook  Southeast Asia on a Rope:  Thailand and Laos is now available on Amazon, Google Play, and most online retailers.  The companion volume  Southeast Asia on a Rope:  Cambodia and Myanmar,  will be available in a few weeks.

As 2016 draws closer, I will again activate this blog.  Thank you all for your support.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kurdling Iraq

The Iraqi Shias have proven incapable of governing.  Their military skills are limited to mosque massacres.  Armed opposition is beyond their pay grade.  Iraqi Sunnis are better fighters, but have a troubling tendency to fight for the wrong side.  ISIS is the Sunni side of the street.

Kurd is the word.  As many as 50 million stateless Kurds inhabit the Middle East and parts of Europe.  The desire for statehood, which subsumes their own religious differences, has caused problems for Turkey, our NATO ally.

Kurds are politically cohesive and fearless fighters.  Remove all aid and assistance from the current corrupt regime, and focus are largesse on the Kurds.  Recognize Iraq as a Kurdish State, in return for a Kurdish  commitment to tolerance of the non Kurdish population.  Kurds will flock from throughout the Middle East to defend their homeland.  Turkey's woes will wilt.

Iraqi Sunnis and Shias have been a pain in  the American ass.  Time to Kurdle their noodle.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Anti-semitism in Virginia's 7th Congressional District??

David Brat is a very religious man who wore his religion on both sleeves in a strongly Christian district. Did Eric Cantor's religion (Jewish) play a role in his defeat?

In hebrew, cantor means someone who sings and leads Jewish religious services.  But Cantor could not chant the psalms or sing the praises of Jesus that, if Brat's victory speech is any indication, were the score for the David versus Goliath epic.

Brat made no overt appeal to anti-semitism.  But did his preaching to the choir have a subtext?  Did Brat's speeches, peppered with New Testament quotes not only expose Cantor as an old school pol, but also as an Old Testament guy.

One parallel is the defeat of Tom Bradley, Los Angeles's first black mayor.  As was the case with Cantor, usually reliable polls had him well ahead.  Voters keep their prejudice out of public polls, but freely express it in the privacy of the voting booth.

Eric Cantor was divisive and polarizing.  I will not say a Kaddish for the death of his political career. But if he lost for the wrong reason, I will be singing a different tune

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Duke it Out

Arsenic and old waste are killing old Dan River, and injuring the North Carolinians who depend on it for their water supply.  Law suits by environmental groups to prevent disasters, like the February 2nd spill of coal ash into the Dan River from a Duke Energy coal ash dump, were blocked by John Skvarla, head of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

When a state fails to act, citizens may file suit on behalf of the public.  Environmental groups had given notice of intent to bring legal action to require Duke to clean up coal ash basins and pay applicable fines.  In March of 2013, DENR brought suit against Duke, precluding any action by environmental groups.  Ordinarily, a state stepping up to the bar is a good thing, but not when the defendant is buying the drinks.  North Carolina governor Pat McCrory spent 28 years at Duke and received 1.1 million in campaign contributions from the energy giant.

DENR entered into a proposed settlement with Duke.  Duke, a 50 billion dollar company, would pay $99,111 in fines, less than one week of compensation for the Duke CEO.  More importantly,  Duke was not required to take any corrective action.

John Skvarla is lying when he denies this was a sweet heart deal.  As a lawyer, I can state definitively that none of the usual reasons for a low ball settlement apply.  A typical reason for retreat is that interrogatories, depositions and other legal discovery highlight weaknesses in a case.  This settled before any such discovery.  A related reason is that mounting legal costs exceed the possible benefits of proceeding.  But in this instance North Carolina would have bourn no legal costs if it allowed private environmental litigation to continue.

The rationale offered by Skvarla is nonsensical.  He contends that DENR settled to avoid years of litigation that would have delayed dealing with coal ash.  This fails on two grounds.  The settlement did not require corrective action. More importantly, litigation does not prevent corrective action.  For instance, if someone slips on a crack in the sidewalk and sues the city, municipal repairs may not be introduced into evidence.  Public policy precludes corrective action being used against a defendant  in litigation.

Continued litigation would expedite, rather than delay, coal ash solutions.  John Skvarla is a liar.  Recently issued Federal subpoenas may reveal whether he and governor McCory are dirty liars.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Actions have consequences. Closing the government over the Affordable Heath Care Act is irresponsible.  Recall is a remedy. New Jersey and Wisconsin are two of the states that permit recall of Congressmen.  Swing districts in New Jersey held by Republicans are seats 2,3,5 and 7, in Wisconsin they are seats 1, 7 and 8.  If you live in one of those districts, please act now.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Danger of Safety

Safe districts are the bane of Democracy.  Extremism in the pursuit of job security is a vice.  Only a few Congressman are so lacking in intelligence, or so ideologically impure, as to believe that denying health care to millions is important enough to justify shutting down the government or defaulting on our national debt.  But their reelection may depend on well postured mendacity.

Money has polluted the system.  Presidential elections come as close as we get to pure democracy.  Through free media, and lavish spending by both sides on paid media, each candidate has ample opportunity to communicate to the American people.  A majority of registered voters go to the polls.  Local elections are different.  Motivated voters and ultraconservative donors are skewing low turn out elections.  The result is Republican legislators  have controlled redistricting.  In 2012, Democratic congressional candidates received one million more votes than their Republican counterparts.  But Republicans retained control of the House.

It is often said that, "All politics are local."  Recently that has been painfully true.