Archive for Politics

At Home in Palma…

I’m sorry Seattle… I’m really tired of long winters, gray skies, and the rain that’s coming soon. When we left Saigon four years ago I put together the Surviving Seattle blog in an effort to cope with it, but in my heart of hearts I’ve always been a blue sky, warm water, palm trees kind of guy and this month I’m falling in love with Palma de Mallorca.

I don’t want to oversell it. We just spent a month in Berlin, and I’m easily seduced. It’s not really apfels and oranges to compare Seattle and Berlin to Palma. They’re both northern temperate climates and though our Berlin weather was seasonably good outside dining wasn’t really in the cards. On the other hand, stepping off the airplane in Palma on Thursday – the day a storm nearly blew Berlin away – the early evening sky was dark blue, and it felt like Santa Monica. Indeed, parts of the taxi ride from the airport into Palma looked like Marina del Rey. I immediately thought of tapas and wine at an outside table. Sidewalk cafes were tugging at me. I’ll own it; Southern California has always felt like my natural habitat. Berlin was a treat, Seattle is exciting, but I could live in Palma.

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City of Spies

It might have been lifted out of a spy novel–the caller, without identifying himself, simply referred to “the interview you requested…” The instructions that followed asked me to have the front desk contact “Mr. Winter” and, when cleared, directed to his room.  So, on a hot summer day in 1962, I drove from the Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro to the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles to meet with a CIA recruiter.

I knew, even then, that “Mr. Winter” was not his real name, but it was kind of sexy going through the charade. “Mr. Winter” fit the profile of what, in those days, was the stereotypical CIA spook – tall, Waspish, Navy-blue suit, white shirt, rep silk Club tie and the bearing of a Yale graduate. I don’t remember a thing about the interview except that it was business-like. I never heard another word from “Mr. Winter” or The Company.

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He’s Back…

No, not The Terminator; this time it’s Sebastian Lukacs Gorka, the red faced, bespectacled, Mephistopheles-like, Hungarian troll. Truth to tell, he never left; though on May 1, 2017, under pressure, the White House announced his imminent departure. Today (August 15), three and a half months later, four minority caucuses in the House of Representatives are again calling on the White House to fire the Deputy Assistant Advisor to the President – for his remarks in the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy.

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Mix Up Some New Kool Aid!

I grew up knowing America was the greatest country on the planet, that it offered its citizens the most opportunities for advancement, that its judicial system was the fairest, that it had the best education system in the world, that its elected officials (usually) respected the rule of law, and that politics was about more than money. I was proud to be an American. I still am, but these things are no longer true. We need to make a fresh batch of Kool Aid. Times have changed.

How do you fit in this picture?

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The Trump Defense

In criminal law there is a presumption of innocence (and sanity). Nevertheless, in some cases even though guilt is established, punishment may be mitigated when mental capacity is at issue. In those cases, an insanity defense based on the McNaughton Rule may apply. Established in an 1843 English case, the traditional rule states:

“that every man is to be presumed to be sane, and… that to establish a defense on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was laboring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong.”

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