GUNS AND COMMON SENSE

January 13, 2015

Guns have one purpose. To kill.

Four years ago, Representative Gabby Gifford was shot in the head while preparing to give a talk in her hometown. Twelve people were killed in Paris for drawing “offensive” satirical cartoons. Two years ago nearly two dozen children were slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Only a year or so before that, a lunatic killed a dozen movie goers in Colorado. It goes on, and on, and on, and on…

Incredibly, the news coverage of these regularly occurring massacres never assesses the deluge of guns in America as a contributing factor. The media doesn’t even explore or report on why we, Americans, mindlessly encourage easy access to guns, or why we are the only country in the world that does so.

And today – right now – there is a bill waiting to be signed by Rick Snyder that will further loosen gun laws in the state of Michigan – because we obviously need looser gun regulations amid the gun violence, don’t we?

This bill would make it possible for people who have been charged with stalking to have a concealed weapons permit, and thus, keep a gun on their person. This means anyone who has a PPO against them could get a gun. The stalkers lobby must be really strong in Michigan.

The bill also shortens the waiting time to get a gun. In the past, people had to go through a background check and get fingerprinted. Sometimes it would take up to 60 days or more for the background check to be cleared. Isn’t that good?

Under the new law, the application process will only be allowed to take 45 days. If the background check isn’t done by then, the applicant will get a temporary permit regardless.

This means that ANYONE — criminals, the insane, lunatics — will be able to get a gun because the bureaucracy may take too long to issue a decision. And the legislature has provided no new funds to speed up the process.

Our bureaucracy takes long to do anything. Look at the thousands of rape kits that haven’t been processed in the city of Detroit. Where is the money going to come from now to pay for this new expedited gun permit process??

Everything costs, everything takes time, but because gun manufacturers want as many people as possible to have guns, our Republican lawmakers are only too happy to oblige.

Does this make sense? Are we crazy?

The only good news is that Snyder hasn’t signed the bill. Yet. Perhaps, if any sense is left in our Republican dominated state, this bill will be left to die. Common sense would dictate that it never sees the light of day. However, if I have learned anything over the last 64 years, it’s that when it comes to guns, America has no common sense.

Advertisements

The Problem with Appellate Courts

December 8, 2014

At Fieger Law, I have preached holding the values of our democracy to a higher standard. We care for our clients and we win for them whether the case is in trial or on appeal.
We are not afraid to win.
In my America, people have the right to be judged by their peers, to have a trial lawyer fight for their rights in the court of law.
People are supposed to be given due process and are presumed innocent. But, that isn’t how it works, is it?
It’s also important to have an experienced attorney represent you in the appellate courts. At Fieger Law we have experienced trial lawyers and we also have an entire appellate department specializing in appeals.
The Fieger Law Appellate Department is considered our “think tank.” Our appellate attorneys provide the firm with research and expertise in the law. They spend all of their time focusing on every aspect of the law, constantly doing research to ensure that we win every case that comes through our doors.
In the appellate courts there are no juries and decisions are made by politically appointed judges.
The appellate courts don’t allow full hearing, only oral argument.
Once a decision has been made by the Court of Appeals, it is difficult to appeal the decision again. The only place to turn after an appellate decision is to the high courts: the State Supreme Court, or the U.S. Supreme Court. These courts hear few cases, and tend to turn down appeals unless there is some question regarding the law itself.
This often leaves ordinary folks with nowhere to turn.
You may have won a case at trial only to have an appeals court overrule the win, often for political reasons.


Labor in America

September 9, 2014

There was a recent expose on children working in the tobacco fields of the New South in the New York Times yesterday.

Numerous examples of children as young as 10 years old working 10 to 12 hours a day for less than minimum wages have been documented, many of them getting poisoned by the exposure to nicotine. It evokes the images of the antebellum South, but in reality they are a sign of the future to come. They are not an isolated instance of abuse. In fact, they are the new face of labor in America.

All across the Country, including the “Right to Work” Michigan, right wing legislatures are systematically reversing over 100 years of hard-earned labor rights. Right wing politicians, elected through the financial largesse of billionaires such as the Koch brothers are not only attempting to destroy labor unions, they are even attacking basic labor rights such as child labor laws.

So this fall, when you vote, remember the face of those child workers getting those jobs created by your Republican governor and Republican legislators. Snyder and Lynn-Land will put your children to work …


Back to the Future in Iraq

August 12, 2014

We have bombed/invaded or otherwise initiated violent actions in Iraq 17 times in the last 24 years, starting with funding the coup that installed Saddam Hussein as dictator. This is hardly a record number of violent actions, especially compared to the ones we have committed in Latin America, but the scale of carnage is becoming worthy of historic note.

Now, President Obama is about to metaphorically ski down the Iraqi slopes again, claiming to be only doing the minimum to prevent genocide. On one side are the neo-con chicken-hawks who created the disaster we are now dealing with, arguing for another invasion. On the other side are the neo-isolationists who mid-wived the ascent of ISIS (ISIL), arguing for ignoring reality. It is remarkable that there seems to be no one anywhere in a policy making position who acknowledges the hopeless reality that is Iraq and the wider conflicts in the Middle East.

Dick Cheney, possibly the most celebrated war criminal at large, recently admitted that Bush-Cheney knew that social chaos would result when they overthrew Saddam Hussein. This is a remarkable comment, given their absolute failure to plan to preserve social order after the invasion and the profoundly ignorant policies that nurtured the rise of violent chaos. It is a crime of historic proportions, and we are only beginning to pay the price that over a million dead Iraqis have already experienced.

The entire Middle East is an artifact of European colonialism that created artificial countries with politically defined boundaries. The social reality of that area for millennia has been tribalism, not nationalism. The defining identity of people there is their tribe or their sect. The Caliphates briefly united the area under Islam, but the conversion never took and Islam is now as divisive a force as tribalism. Even Israel’s veneer of democracy is paper thin worn by the very reason of its existence: Chosen People in their Chosen Land.  The entire region is the tar pit of democracies.

Historically, only dictatorships have kept the area’s violent nature in check. There isn’t any proven political movement that is their salvation, and every military action we undertake virtually ensures the need for future violence. These people hold blood grudges for centuries. There doesn’t even appear to be any economic salvation either. In our country, economic opportunities have helped transformed past divisions somewhat. We may still hate “those people,” but if we can make money from them, well then welcome! This is not the case in the Middle East, where, even on those rare occasions of economic prosperity, the tribal animus continues unabated.

It seems the best we can do is start to play the intransigent divisions to our advantage: paying them off to kill our enemies (a strategy that worked to end the Sunni insurgence after the invasion), or at least not come after us. A friend of mine has two sons who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and they both recount the same lesson: “They shoot at each other all day long until the Marines come along. Then they both shoot at the Marines until we are gone and go back to killing each other again.”

That is the only lesson we need to remember and base our policy on that.


Supreme Ruling

August 9, 2014

Just months before members of the Michigan Supreme Court are up for re-election, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that provided corporations a billion dollar bonanza. The 4-3 ruling on the application of the Corporate Tax Rule will result in at least a $1 billion refund to corporations doing business in Michigan, at a critical cost to Michigan citizens.

Not that the ruling should be considered a quid-pro-quo bribe. That is almost always impossible to prove without one of the guilty parties admitting it. Rather it was more like a wink and timely gift to their major money contributors to re-election. Their record of rulings speaks for itself: Corporations win virtually every case that comes before them (90% rulings in favor of corporate interests).

The contributions also speak for themselves: the vast amounts of money contributed by corporate representatives such as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce to re-elect the same Republican activist judges.

Everyone in the legal profession knows this reality: there is a bias against individual plaintiffs in favor of corporate defendants in the Michigan courts. The cases we take are affected by this realization. Even jury verdicts against corporations are never considered sacrosanct, as they have in the past and in other States. It’s just that seldom has a ruling that so profoundly hurts the entire State of Michigan been timed so suspiciously as this. It’s seldom been so apparent that the bent of this Supreme Court is pro-corporation even if it means betraying their political base.

Maybe it will be enough for Republican Gov. Snyder to begin to appoint judges that can restore balance and integrity to the courts.

 


The Terrorists Won

July 31, 2014

The U.S. is about to release the Senate report on the use of torture on prisoners during the Bush Administration. Although previously classified, the redacted report is expected to conclude that no significant intelligence was obtained through brutally torturing prisoners. I am sure some Americans who saw “Zero Dark Thirty” will insist that torture was effective, and war criminals such as Dick Cheney will insist that torture was not only effective – it was fun!

The reality is that the moment we began to torture prisoners was the day the terrorists won. They beat us. They accomplished their mission of transforming America and destroying whatever moral argument we retained. The moment we began to torture prisoners, we became no better than the terrorists.

The fear of terrorists was exactly what they wanted … fear so blinding that we ignored international laws, our own laws and began to willingly forfeit our Constitutional rights. They didn’t take our rights or our character – we gave it away. When we should have been less afraid of another 9/11 than of our response to that fear, we lost our perspective and lost the “war.”

The Senate report on torture is just another reminder of that defeat.


Crisis at the Border

July 10, 2014

The flood of women and children creating the crisis at the Texas border is not an immigration problem. It is a refugee problem. These children are fleeing countries where there is no rule of law, countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

The murder rate in these countries is more akin to a war zone like Syria, which is probably a valid analogy. Like any refugee crisis in any country, they are taxing local resources and the solution requires humanitarian and political efforts. And it’s only right that we do provide humanitarian assistance. These are countries that past U.S. Presidents deliberately destabilized. Remember the death squads Reagan secretly funded in El Salvador and Nicaragua? We sabotaged the legitimate political process in these countries because we didn’t like their politics. This left most Latin American countries hostage to those with the most guns, and today that means drug cartels. 

We should help these children because we helped cause the problems they are fleeing from and because it is the moral thing to do. The immoral thing to do is make them pawns in a cynical political war, or to fan the flames of hatred. Who could look at the scene of the protesters in Texas stopping busses full of terrified children and listen to the hatred spewing from their mouths and not feel ashamed for our country? Apparently, plenty of people who call themselves “patriots” and “Texans.”