Death Penalties

March 20, 2018

The Trump Administration is proposing to allow the death penalty for “drug dealers”. The policy proposal allegedly developed by Kelly Ann Conway, is intended to make Trump appear to be serious about the latest and current drug epidemic, and to force Democrats to appear to be weak on the issue if they vote against it. One could imagine the conversation on the proposal from the Oval Office, with Kelly Ann suggesting to Trump that it was yet another way to get rid of more Mexicans (since he believes Mexico is sending us drug dealers) and African-Americans.

The current epidemic of opiate abuse is the result of decisions by drug dealers who will be exempt from the Trump proposal. If the proposed law included the CEOs and Boards of pharmaceutical companies, then it might deserve some serious debate, but of course big Pharma be exempt. This is another proposal that will result in the incarceration of only mid-level and street level drug dealers, primarily minorities who, sadly, would have been arrested or shot on some other pretext anyway. Drug policy in this Country has always been dictated by big business, or fueled by racist fears (e.g. Harrison Act). What else would one expect from a White House that considers White Nationalists as part of their political base?

What is new about the proposal is that it seems to be inspired by the authoritarian policies of a dictator much admired by Trump, Premier Li of China. Since he may be on a death penalty wish tear, Trump may also consider adding the following to his list:

  • Female Porn Stars who he has dated in the past
  • All women he has sexually assaulted
  • Any special prosecutors investigating him
  • Journalists not working for Fox Cable News
  • Late night comedians

It Must Be Hard (Or Not)

March 19, 2018

The revelations of Stormy Daniels continue to ratchet up with her attorney confirming that Trump and his representatives physically threatened her if she revealed their affair. Michael Avenatti is proving to be an attorney that I would consider hiring as part of the Fieger Team. He is fearless, dedicated and intent on bending power to his will. Now he apparently has several more clients, and it looks like he has a booming practice that rivals Gloria Aldridge. One can only hope that one of them will disclose Trump’s interest in their bladder activity… Na Zdorovie!

Bad jokes aside, the revelations about the reprobate Trump have to be humiliating for his family . On the other hand, the revelations do serve one important function: it continues to shine the light onto the hypocrisy of Evangelical Christians who continue to support and defend Trump. Power and money have proven to be mush more important to these “Christian” leaders than their Gospel.

I think you can separate individual believers from the leaders of the Evangelical movement. Many of them do try to live a life of faith, hopefully not blind faith in their “pastors” or political leaders who mouth the words to obscure their actions. Evangelical leaders justify their silence on the behavior of Trump before he became President by saying we have all sinned and need to be forgiven, but never address his persistent lying about the affairs or abusing people in his own Administration. These “pastors” justify their compromising their the tenets of their faith as a means of accomplishing the political aims of their movement exposes them as a political and not religious movement. That will be helpful to keep in mind as Trump will look to escalate the culture wars to obscure his criminal behavior.

Something Happening Here

March 10, 2018

One of the more persistent complaints of Trump apologists is that after a year of investigations, there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Russians. The rejoinder usually involves the mountain of circumstantial evidence, including the lack of any response of Trump to attacks on U.S. sovereignty and elections, despite widespread alarm by virtually all the rest of government agencies. Last week 200 Russian “mercenaries” attacked a position in Syria manned by Marine Special operators and their local allies. The Marines slaughtered the Russians without any American casualties, but who would doubt that even if American troops had been killed by the Russians that Trump would do nothing?

Another suspicious aspect of Trump’s actions since taking office, has been his consistent undermining of the NATO alliance, now including tariffs and a possible trade war with allies. The fracturing of NATO has been the prime goal of Putin, who still harbors territories in NATO aligned countries on Russia’s border. The decisions of this administration in the Israel and the Middle East has ceded our leadership. The ongoing dismantling of the State Department has also hurt our national interests, including not funding any diplomatic responses to Russian cyberattacks on our elections (we don’t even have enough Russian speaking staff at State anymore), and has left South Korea and Mexico without an ambassador.

To invoke the old Buffalo Springfield song, somethings happening here and what it is ain’t exactly clear… Here are two theories. It could be that Trump (aka Dennis Dennison) is so pathological that everything he touches descends into chaos and destruction. It could be that Trump is a Manchurian Candidate. His past business practices have left a wake of victims, especially his partners and employees. On the other hand, one can’t imagine a more favorable outcome for Putin.

(Dennis Dennison is the alias he allegedly used during his affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, who filed a lawsuit against Trump yesterday. I just want to her one thing from her attorney – and it involves urine.)

Trade Insights

March 9, 2018

The apparently unplanned announcement from Trump that the U.S. was imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports provided an unusual amount of insight into the Trump Administration, but perhaps more on the GOP Congress. The announcement of tariffs came without any apparent preparation. There was no formal statement prepared. The Departments of Treasury, State and Defense first heard the news from television. It was chaotic, which is what we have in Trump. It also tanked the stock market, and since we have been hearing constantly about how Trump has driven the stock boom, should we expect a statement that Trump is not responsible in any way for the crash in the market? Maybe not.

The policy itself was not only nonsensical, it was also destructive. I’m not even sure there was a policy behind the announcement. Trump initially said it was intended to counter steel dumping on markets by the Chinese. However, it penalized our allies who have not been dumping steel such as Canada and Mexico. The next day, after the EU and virtually every other steel an aluminum producing country threatened retaliation, Trump virtually blew the minds of every economist CEO and Republican Congressperson by saying that trade wars were good and easy to win. His statement ran contrary to, well, pretty much all human history and led to two World Wars. Then he said the real target was the EU, which had a huge trade deficit with us (which was untrue). Tomorrow there may be another target – or more likely another crisis.

We’ve come to expect this kind of chaos, confusion, and utterly ignorant statements from Trump, but the Congressional response was unexpected by some. There was a strong push back from GOP Congresspersons. Some expected the GOP to support Trump’s statements or at least his policy pronouncements, but the reality has always been that the GOP Congress is owned by big money and that means Wall St.

Paul Ryan says nothing after racist statements from Trump, misogynist statements, he supports the unethical (if not illegal) activity of Nunes to obstruct the Russian election interference, but when Trump imposes tariffs potentially costing Hedge Funds billions…

The potential internecine conflict between Trump and GOP Congress may reveal the true nature of the two, but the sad reality is that it will be at a cost to the Middle Class.

Geoffrey Fieger Takes on Trump’s Proposal to Arm Teachers

March 9, 2018

The proposal made by President Donald Trump to arm teachers with guns is not only unfeasible, it would be worse than ineffective. What we need is a rational discussion of rational proposals.

Arming, training (and maintaining what would be the equivalent of the third-largest army in the world) would be a logistical and economic nightmare. There may be some teachers willing to carry guns, but the vast majority of teachers do not want guns in the classroom. Recruiting armed teachers would be difficult, a fact recognized by Trump who proposed a “bonus” for volunteers. Normal attrition of licensed and trained teachers means the cost would continue and grow every year.

Then there is screening volunteers, training them and securing their weapons. This would require hundreds of millions of dollars, and I don’t hear the gun manufacturers, or the NRA volunteering to pay for it.

There is also the issue of liability, though it is likely that the U.S. Congress would grant the schoolhouse gun-slingers immunity from charges for killing children. The Trump administration has already spent us into record deficits, and many school districts are in debt. The reality is that arming teachers would not prevent mass murders, and would actually increase gun violence in schools.

The proposal to arm teachers is based on an absurd premise. Proponents claim it would act as a deterrent. Most school shootings are perpetrated by emotionally unstable white men. Their impulse is not guided by rational calculus. They are driven by irrational emotions. They have no plan for escape. They are motivated by the need for revenge, public recognition or self-destructive impulses. Many of the schools that have experienced shootings already had armed guards, and that did not deter.

Arming teachers does not mean it would be an effective response to an active shooter. The military spends at least six months training recruits on the proper handling of weapons and effective responses on the battlefield, with additional training to avoid shooting innocent people.

Trump, in another ad lib argument against his own proposals, observed that one deputy had spent his “entire life” training for the situation and failed to respond as trained. This is a well known phenomena, and the reason why law enforcement trains incessantly.

So what would make a teacher, with virtually no training, respond more effectively? Virtually all of the people supporting arming teachers have never been on the wrong end of an assault rifle, and base their claims upon ignorance and bravado.

Handguns are much less accurate than a long rifle and have less capacity. Law enforcement officers support an assault weapon ban for good reason — they know that a handgun is no match in a firefight. So, even if a teacher does choose to engage a shooter, they would be firing a less-accurate weapon (around panicking children) with far less capacity and firepower.

Unless we want teachers wearing Kevlar body armor and slinging an assault rifle while they teach, the proposal is obviously ineffective. It puts teachers and first responders at greater risk. In the chaos of a gunfight who is the shooter?

Did you know that the Republican Congress has outlawed scientific research into gun violence? What little data that is available demonstrates that the presence of more guns in a community only increases the incidence of gun violence. Putting a million more guns in schools will only increase gun violence in schools. So, in addition to mass murders, we would also have more gun deaths in schools.

I am the son of a school teacher, and the father of three school-age children. All rational people want schools to be safe in every way possible. But we must use effective and safe methods to protect our children. Red Flag Laws, extensive background checks, closing Gun Show Loopholes, banning sales of weapons of war — are all proposals that would work, and that a large majority of Americans support.

If anything is worthy of being a one-issue vote, it is the safety of our children. Here’s a proposal to make schools safe: the next time a candidate asks for your vote, ask them if they will take money from the NRA. If they say “yes,” then tell them they will not get your vote.

Geoffrey Fieger is the lead attorney at Southfield-based Fieger Law.

This article originally appeared as an op-ed in The Detroit Free Press on March 9, 2018. Find it here.

Teachers With Guns

March 8, 2018

The most current solution being floated by the NRA is for more people to have guns. Shocker there, right? Specificaly, they advocate that teachers carry guns. It’s not feasible, would not be effective and it’s a typically insane if not self-serving proposal from the merchants of death.

Is it feasible? If 20% of all teachers were armed, it would be the equivalent to the second largest army in the world. There may be some teachers who would want to carry a gun while in the classroom, but they would be a fraction of the 20% needed, and a tiny fraction of all teachers who overwhelmingly do not want anyone to have a gun on the classroom. Trump implicitly recognized this reality and has suggested a “small bonus” be offered to the classroom gunslingers to increase the volunteers.

The costs associated with about 1 million new guns, training, licensing, and safe storage would be hundreds of millions of dollars, and we don’t hear any politicians or the NRA offering to pony up the funds. Not even gun manufacturers have offered to pay for the army of the classroom, even though they would make a fortune in profits. Then there would be the cost of liability insurance, except it is likely that Congress would give immunity to any teachers who negligently shot and killed a child in the classroom. If a child is killed by an accidental discharge of a gun in their kindergarten classroom, well, in their minds it’s a small price to pay for the profits.

Would it be effective?

Congress has made it illegal to research gun violence, but the one thing we do know is that the presence of more guns increases gun violence.  Period. With a million more guns in schools the number of gun deaths is going to increase.

The armed services take months of training recruits on the proper way to handle a weapon and to respond to being attacked. They take months longer to teach trained soldiers and Marines to not shoot innocent bystanders when attacked. This is because the military knows from experience that unless a soldier is highly trained they are a bigger danger to themselves or their fellow soldiers than the enemy. Then there’s the issue of responding to fire from an assault rifle vs. a handgun. Police around the country have advocated for an assault weapons ban because they know from experience that even highly trained police officers are no match in firepower.

Handguns are not nearly as accurate as long guns and have less capacity for ammunition. In yet another instance of a Trump ad lib arguing against a Trump proposal, he told reporters that an officer in Parkland who “had spent his entire life training for this” didn’t do the job. So, their idea is to have a less trained teacher, run into a hallway with children running every which way and engage in a gunfight with a less accurate gun with less firepower and ammunition? First responders would have to distinguish teachers from shooters, putting both teachers and responders at greater risk. Then again, the teachers trying to respond to semi-automatic would most likely already be dead. Maybe the teachers should have an assault weapon slung over their Kevlar body armor as they write the daily lessons on the blackboard… it’s insane. I am all for increasing protection for schools. No measure will be completely effective, but a combination of common sense protective measures would reduce the number and lethality of the attacks – none more that a ban on assault weapons. Proposing more guns, more shooters and turning schools into a shooting gallery is not a common sense solution.

Invisible Hands and Money That Talks

March 7, 2018

My mother was a teacher. I have three children in school. So, I have more knowledge about (and emotional investment in) the most recent debate over how to end mass murders in schools than the average person. We have these debates often, after every school shooting (which happens often) – and maybe that says more about us as a society than the mass murders itself. We are the only country in the world that has this kind of mass murder and post massacre debates so regularly with no results. We have made a deliberate decision to allow our children to be slaughtered in their schools. You can deny your decision and protest that you don’t want children butchered, or that you don’t understand the issue enough to have an opinion about what to do… but if you haven’t even taken the time to send an e-mail to your congressperson demanding that SOMETHING be done, then your inaction makes you complicit. More than 80% of Americans say they support stricter gun laws, but what have that 80% done about it? Marco Rubio denied that taking $3 million from the NRA has affected his position on gun legislation. He said that people follow his position and then donate money to his campaign. Yet the overwhelming majority if his constituents support positions on gun laws that he has blocked.

We know why Congress has refused to reflect the will of the people on gun laws, and nobody kids themselves about the power of the NRA. They have money and they have an ability to mobilize their base supporters politically. The NRA is only the most powerful of several pro-gun groups (and they are pro-gun, not pro- 2nd Amendment – there is a distinction). The invisible power behind these groups is corporate, the merchants of death, the Military Industrial Complex. They make a lot of money by selling a lot of weapons. They own the leadership in these organizations and dictate the policies and strategies. Even a majority of NRA members believe in stricter laws, such a closing the gun show loop hole and more extensive background checks. In Congress they have men and women with no moral compass and an insatiable need for campaign money. This malignant relationship may be the best example of how money has corrupted our democracy. Money from the NRA has caused the will of the people to be ignored by a corrupted Congress and enabled the slaughter of nearly 100 children across the country in the first few months of 2018 alone.

There are people in the U.S. already identified and known to be sympathetic to ISIL – they go on ISIL websites and they contribute money to ISIL – are able to buy assault weapons and unlimited ammunition event though they are on the “No Fly” list? After the last mass murder in Las Vegas the only law on gun purchases were not to ban bump stocks – it was a law that enable mentally ill people to purchase assault weapons?

There is a movement to make gun laws a single issue vote and it is long overdue. If the safety of children in schools, or the safety of your own family is not the most important issue to you than what is? This should be the first question to anyone running for office: “Do you accept any money from the NRA?” If they answer “yes” then let them know they will not have your vote. Period. That’s the short term solution, but disempowering the NRA does not address the real power behind the curtains: the arms manufacturers.