Making a getaway in a three-piece suit

You may have read the article in the New York times today about the man who escaped his holding cell by simply walking out of the 100 Centre Street criminal courthouse wearing a three-piece suit.  robert tackman, image taken from: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/01/nyregion/01escape.html?_r=1&ref=nyregionRonald Tackman, who has been in and out of prison most of his life and has had numerous brushes with the law, was in New York Supreme Court from Riker’s Island on a felony robbery charge.  He was dressed in a three-piece suit while in his holding cell and a correction officer mistakenly let him out of his cell, believing that Ronald Tackman was an attorney.  More specifically, the corrections officer saw Tackman, assumed he was an attorney, and asked Taskman, in sum and substance, “What are you doing in the cell, counselor?”

Interestingly, according to the above-described New York Times article, “[t]he escape [ ] left correction officials scratching their heads for answers as to how a man who had been listed in the department’s files as an escape risk was essentially able to walk out the door to freedom.”

The answer is pretty simple:  Ronald Tackman was white. 

If Mr. Tackman was anything other than white, the likelihood of this event happening would certainly be next to nil.

For anyone who hasn’t been to 100 Centre Street in New York City, I suggest you go and see the dynamic going on.  Go to AR-3, which is the felony arraignment part, Part N or Part F, which are Criminal Court parts before a case heads to Supreme Court, or any of the Supreme Court Parts, like Part 22 or Part 23.  You’ll immediately notice that the majority, if not all, of the defendants are minorities.  Further, you will also immediately notice that the majority, if not all, of the attorneys representing these defendants are white.  And, add to that, the majority, if not all of the Corrections Officers, are white as well.  And, one final thing if it already isn’t obvious:  the majority if not all of the judges are white.

Is it any wonder, then, that a hapless Department of Corrections Officer “mistakenly” believed that an older white gentleman in a three-piece suit standing alone in a holding cell was actually an attorney?

The Department of Corrections will undoubtedly claim, after a “thorough investigation,” that the Officer actions were outside of “protocol” — suggesting that the error by the officer was merely an aberrant act, as opposed to the product of a deep rooted institutional racism.

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Honduras moves towards total isolation

Since the removal of President Manuel Zelaya in June, the provisional government has steadily and predictably isolated Honduras, both from the international community and, most importantly, from the most basic tenets of democracy.  roberto michelettiIn true Orwellian fashion, the provisional government has justified everything it has done — from removing President Zelaya without the due process required by its own constitution it is purportedly defending to suspending basic civil liberties — in the name of “democracy.”  I am not sure what planet Roberto Micheletti and his provisional government cronies are from, but they are singlehandedly facilitating the tortured history and doublespeak that represented what we all thought was a Honduras goverment of the past.  

If you think Honduras is headed towards a breaking point, you are wrong.  Wake up.  Honduras is already there.

As you probably all know by now, the provisional government shut down Channel 36 and Radio Globo, because they were broadcasting telephone calls from President Zelaya.  “Yeah, we can’t have that,” says Michelletti.  “He has to be out of sight, out of mind!  Let’s sweep it all under the rug and maybe the Honduran people in all their idiocy will forget that we roused him in the middle of the night and forcibly removed him from the country.  Shhhh!  If we don’t talk about it, then it’ll go away!” 

Whether you agree with Zelaya or not is not the issue; the provisional government circumvented democracy when it removed Zelaya and now is trying to tack legitimacy to its actions after the fact.  It doesn’t work that way.  That’s political science 101.  Is it me or is Micheletti trying to become yet another case study in how yet another Latin American government brings down its iron fist in the name of democracy?  What’s in the water over there?

And, to add insult to injury, the provisional government has threatened to shut down the Brazilian embassy within the next 10 days and yesterday expelled four diplomats from the Organization of American States.  The diplomats were apparently members of an advance team trying to negotiate an end to the crisis.  To his defense, I guess Micheletti, who clearly is living in some bubble world on his family finca and is taking massive doses of reality-altering medications, surely sees no need to end a crisis that doesn’t exist in the first place. 

What I find further infuriating is the fact that the United States and many news outlets here have described the “situation” or “crisis” in Honduras as a “political one.”  This label is doublespeak.  To be sure, while the forcible removal of a sitting president is, by definition, a “political situation,” is it also a mere “political situation” when the civil rights of its citizenry, guaranteed by its own constitution, is abrogated for no legitimate reason?  That to me is more than just a “political situation,” but a tragedy that tears the social and civil fabric of Honduras at its roots.  For the United States and other countries to sit idly behind the scenes as Honduras falls deeper and deeper into isolation — against the will of its people — is unacceptable. 

Only by fortune so far, and certainly not because of the actions of the provisional or de facto government of Honduras, has widespread violence not broken out.  But what has broken out is the widespread violence the de facto government of Honduras has lashed against its own citizenry, in the name of some twisted version of democracy.

EXCLUSIVE: Another Supreme Court Filing DROPS against Barack Obama

EXCLUSIVE: Here’s the most recent Supreme Court Filing against Barack Obama.  It keeps PILING UP against Barack Obama.  He’s in a load of trouble now.  I think it’s all over for him.  The internet powerhouses have truly done it this time with another great example of their legal minds.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF HAWAI’I
SUPREME COURT DOCKET NUMBER: CONFIDENTIAL

CHRISTOPHER JONES,
Petitioner,
HON. LINDA LINGLE, Governor; DEREK JETER, NY Yankees
HON. SARAH PALIN, Governor and VP Candidate;
Respondents.

EMERGENCY PETITION FOR A BILL OF LADING
INTRODUCTION AND PRELIMINARY STATEMENT
The question of the authenticity, public availability, and carbon content of the birth certificate of Senator Barack Obama (hereinafter “Senator Barack Obama”) has become a source of increasing embarrassment for me, myself, and especially I. Although Sena”tor” Barack Obama has posted a copy of his birth certificate on his own web site, and despite the fact that it has been corroborated to be a true short form birth certificate by the Hawai’i Department of Health, Senator Barack Obama still refuses to acknowledge that the birth certificate is fake, despite the fact that there is not even an iota of proof that it is, in fact fake. Accordingly, it is clear now – and do not ask how I know this because, let’s just say, I know this – that he was, in fact, born in Kenya, much less born at all.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS
1. The Petitioner
Petitioner Christopher Jones has been writing about Obama for over sixty-three years. Despite the fact that Senator Barack Obama was “purportedly” born in 1961 (a year that, as we all know, was the first “upside down year” and thus does not exist in duality or singularly for that matter), I have been following him for much longer than that. Trust me. I had an eye on him for some time and frankly I can’t trust an uppity intellectual such as Senator Barack Obama, who, according to my sources, is related to Sadam Hussein and is without question the Anti-Christ. I am the author of a book that hasn’t been published yet, “The History of Toilet Paper and the Asses That Loved Them.”

Although I am not a practicing attorney, I did go to law school but my passage to the Bar was steadfastly blocked by so-called “administrators” because, apparently, “they” thought I had some sort of “moderately servere character defect.” Yeah, whatever. We all know everyone who disagrees with me is a just a liberal, socialist, marxist bastard bent on burning the constitution and replacing it with the pig latin version of the Communist Manifesto, which, according to my sources, was written by the Isreali Mossad in 1987 and first drafted by Dr. Seuss in 1783 before he received his MD.

2. Birth certificate
I, along with about seven thousand others, including Santa Claus of all people, have applied for and was denied a copy of Senator Barack Obama’s birth certificate, along with a list of the last twenty things he had eaten from the frozen foods section. This is clearly an issue of national importance, because although we know that Senator Obama is qualified, we just can’t “trust” someone like Obama because, well, we can’t. I don’t think it would be a “safe” choice, particularly with this financial crisis, which was started by marxists such as Alan Greenspan and The Invisible Hand.

RELIEF REQUESTED
The Court should decide that the misapplication, misinterpretation, miscommunication, miscombubulation, and misappropriation of the relevant statue (see Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, a photograph which is attached to this Petition) raises issues of sufficiently massive public and national importance that this Court has no choice but to entertain.

BASIS FOR GRANTING RELIEF
The constitutional issue
In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966), the Supreme Court of the “United States of America” ruled that when a defendant is interrograted while in custody, the police, prior to that interrogation, must provide certain warnings and, if they don’t, the resulting confession will be suppressed. Similarly, this Court should give me Obama’s original birth certificate as well as the list of the last twenty things he has consumed from the frozen foods section, FORTHWITH.

The procedural issue
There is an anomaly under the procedues of Hawaii law, i.e., to provide someone with no standing to even request such items to get such items, and to provide someone with such items even though the request in the first place is frivolous. Of course, as we all know, legal procedures are simply procedures of the intellectual and we all have seen what has happened when we are too “intellectual” with things. After all, just look at the Constitution. Thus, procedurally, I am asking, and again pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436, and it’s companion case, Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), that this Court should grant me RELIEF as well as the money to publish my next book, “Obama: The Love of My Life and His Connection to the Crisis in the Suez and the Race to Space (Part 7: Where is the Dog?).”

The substantive issue
There are clearly no substantive issues here.

CONCLUSION
Most respectfully, Petitioner asks this Court to call me as soon as possible. I’ll be hanging out on 73rd Street and Lexington tonight with my friend Lester.

DATED: October 24, 2008
Honolulu, HI
Respectfully submitted,
CHRISTOPHER JONES

Bloomberg Gets His Wish: 29 to 22 to extend term limits

Just when you thought that the world was coming back to order again, there is this.  The New York City council voted to extend term limits from two to three.  Forget that New York City voters voted on this very issue, not once, but twice . . . flatly, expressly, and unequivocally rejecting proposals to extend term limits from two to three.  Forget that the main man behind this, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is an uber-billionaire who clearly held sway with the Council — all of whom, of course, now can run for another term. 

Bloomberg’s justification for extending his term limit from two to three had to do solely with the financial crisis.  Of course, let’s forget that Giuliani asked for the same thing after September 11, 2001, via a three month extension, but that was resolutely rejected.  If anything, it shows Giuliani wasn’t the brilliant politician as Bloomberg and his team of hacks are.

Christine C. Quinn, the Speaker and Bloomberg’s lap dog, commented about the extension of term limits in the most Orwellian of ways.  She said, “They should have the right to vote for the current mayor, or a new one, for their current City Council member, or a new one. That is exactly what is at stake today.”

Huh?  That seems to be putting the cart before the horse.  Yeah, sure, with an extension of term limits, voters can now choose to vote for Bloomberg, Person A, or Person B.  But that is not what’s at stake here, Ms. Quinn. 

First, what is at stake here is how an already inept council can destroy the will of the people.  Twice, and I will repeat this, twice, have the voters explicitly rejected by way of referendum any extension of term limits.  But no, apparently that doesn’t matter.  Nonetheless, the council, with the support of Bloomberg and two other billionaires, was able to get this horrific bill on the floor for a vote. . . a vote that everyone knew what the results would be, despite all the speeches by the politicians.

To be sure, as Ms. Quinn and others have pointed out, the people could vote out Bloomberg in the next election, as well as other people on the council who are enjoying the fruits of a third term that the people of the City of New York had previously took from them.  But that completely misses the point.  The point here is an abuse of the democratic process.  Plain and simple.  Just because an inept city council decided to conduct a vote doesn’t somehow bypass the abuse of the process.  There’s no “cancel out” here. 

It is also an abuse of something else that is not talked about as much:  the power of incumbency.  Incumbents, by the very fact of their office, have extraordinary power to get reelected.  Part of their job, by its very nature, includes running for reelection.  Need stats to back that up?  Just look to Congress.   For the House of Representatives, incumbents are winning more than 80 percent of the time.  For the Senate, incumbents are winning more than 75 percent of the time.  I mean, let’s look at Senator Chuck Schumer.  How many times do you see him on tv?  Sure, he’s “reporting” to the public about what’s going on but he’s also telling people, “Hey, I’m your Senator and vote for me.”  It’s free ad time. 

Term limits recognize how the power of incumbency destroys democracy, i.e., the ability of challengers to lodge a solid and credible campaign.  That’s why it’s not surprising that the voters — twice — rejected an extension of term limts.  Here, Bloomberg’s third term has essentially wiped out the chances of numerous candidates to run for election, not to mention the other “seats” in the other districts.  So, while the voters will have a choice this upcoming election, one must ask what kind of choice is it really.

And, what is particularly bothering is the apparent “emergency” that Bloomberg and by extension, the other assembly persons who are benefitting from this extra term, are using to support their term limit extension.  Yes, Bloomberg is a popular Mayor.  And yes, the financial crisis is, in fact, a crisis.  But to believe that it is such a crisis that Bloomberg and the council have the right to violate the will of the people is just ridiculous and simply overstates Bloomberg’s ability over anyone and everyone to get the job done.  Years from now, what will be the next justification?  There will always be something.  And, frankly, Bloomberg is no FDR.

What happened today was an affront to democracy.  Shame on the council.  Vote them all out.

Barack Obama and the Muslim Connection?

In the last several weeks, you may have heard or read those emails claiming that Barack Obama is a Muslim.  Although for most people, the truth has been set straight that Barack Obama is not a Muslim, the larger point often is missed, and like most points that are missed, it is the more important one.  To me, the fundamental question is not whether Obama is Muslim, but whether it should even matter to the American public that he is Muslim?

I’m sure some of the reasonable people out there are already answering that question with an answer that goes something like this, “Well, it goes to his character.  If he said he wasn’t Muslim but a Christian, but he really is a Muslim, you have to ask why he would lie like that?  I can’t trust someone like that.”

That’s a perfectly reasonable answer.  But I’m sure for the majority of those people who gave that answer, what response would you give if Barack always said he was a Muslim to begin with?  The answer would probably boil down to, “I like Barack and his policies but frankly, I just don’t trust the guy.  I can’t put a finger on it.”

Political correctness has just given us new codewords.  Discrimination is still discrimination though, even by another name.

The media, along with Obama’s supporters, have for the most part taken great strides in “debunking the myth” that Obama is a Muslim.  But they haven’t taken the next step, or even the a priori step, of contending why that question is flawed to begin with.  In an election of name calling, both Obama and McCain’s attempt to put the “Muslim question” into a nice, little soundbite is not so much an example of weak political will, but the failure of the United States to be truly an inclusive place for all.

It’s that whole idea, somehow, that being called a “Muslim,” or being associated with a “Muslim,” is akin to being on the side of a terrorist.  Of course, McCain doesn’t say this directly nor does Obama.  They are politicians, after all.  Of course, there are people out there — and I’m sure if you have a yahoo or google account, you surely have received these emails — arguing that there is a fundamental connection between Islam and terrorism, and that anyone who is a Muslim must be a terrorist by default.  

The question I ask is whether McCain and Obama’s actions have essentially extended this same message?  For McCain’s part, he doesn’t do enough to quell the members of the right who are constantly trying to paint Obama as a terrorist, with suggestions that he is, in fact, a Muslim.  McCain and Palin, for their part, discuss in the most ominous of ways, Obama’s “past” catching up to him and why no one should trust him.  For Obama’s part, he doesn’t do enough to raise the question to his constituents of why it is irrelevant what his religion is in determining whether he is “patriotic” enough to be president.  In the end, for both candidates, their claims that the U.S. is an inclusive country just rings hollow. 

After all, have you seen any of these candidates visiting a Mosque?  I haven’t.  I’m sure none of these candidates would want to be caught dead within 500 miles of one. 

Change we can believe in?  For whom?

Obama/Biden Proposal: Bankruptcy Courts to Re-Adjust Interest Rates? (Or is the Cram-Down Full of Crap?)

Unless you’ve been living in cave, then surely you’ve heard or felt the effects of America’s — and now, apparently, the world’s — financial crisis.  One of the issues is what to do with all the bad mortgages and those who are on the brink of foreclosure.  Last week, during the Biden/Palin debate, Biden provided an interesting answer:

“Number two, with regard to bankruptcy now, Gwen, what we should be doing now — and Barack Obama and I support it — we should be allowing bankruptcy courts to be able to re-adjust not just the interest rate you’re paying on your mortgage to be able to stay in your home, but be able to adjust the principal that you owe, the principal that you owe.”

Although to some pundits out there, this may seem like a completely radical idea — many will claim that a court doing anything resembling this is akin to socialism or communism — it’s not so out of left field.  What Biden, and by extension Obama, are talking about is essentially known as a “mortgage cram down.”  Yeah, it’s a pretty horrible name, but it essentially is a way to make mortgage payments more affordable once you declare bankruptcy.  In fact, Bankruptcy Law alreadly allows “lendees” an opportunity to “cram down” a second mortgage . . . but under limited circumstances. 

For instance, under 11 USC 1322(b)(2), a person filing bankruptcy under Chapter 13 may “modify the rights of holders of secured claims, other than a claim secured only by a security interest in real property that is the debtor’s principal residence, or of holders of unsecured claims, or leave unaffected the rights of holders of any class of claims.” Okay, what the hell does that mean in plain english?  It means a judge can’t “cram down” or modify your mortgage if it is already secured by your principal home.

Bottom line:  under the law as it stands, if you have a bad first mortgage, then you can’t get it crammed down.  if you have a bad second mortgage, then there’s the possibility that you can get it crammed down.  This law was written at some point in the 1970s.  If you read some of the legislative history behind this section (go to google), then you see that it was designed to encourage lenders to lend money to new home buyers.

So with all that in the landscape comes the Obama/Biden proposal, which has been, in one form or another, sloshing around in the Senate for several months now . . . before the financial crisis/monster became apparent to even those George Bush scientists.  Of course, banks hate the proposal or anything that would presumably alter a contract — under the theory that all the crammed down mortgages have to be paid by someone, so that someone is going to be us “Joe-Six Packs,” in the form of double digit interest rates, the end of 10% or less down payments, or really high closing costs.  According to the bank, they’re actually thinking of our best interests.  In the current landscape, this claim certainly rings a bit hollow.  Thanks Darth Vader for your words of encourgement, but if you don’t mind, I’ll be standing way over here.

But I digress.  Although certain Republicans — particularly ones who believe that every government intervention except for national security, military spending, and corporate welfare tax breaks is one step closer to a socialist and communist America — believe that the Obama/Biden is somehow some sweeping proposal is giving their proposal more credit and more expansiveness than is due.

I know certain economic theorists get in trouble for using rational actor theory but I’m going to do so here anyway to turn the whole thing on its head.  Let’s look at that 5% percent of the population, and even the ones that are near that group, who need some serious help on their mortgage (when I mean “serious help,” I mean those borrowers who are on the verge of foreclosure or who are already in foreclosure proceedings).  Contrary to what the banks are saying, do you think the majority of rational borrowers are conspiring in a secret basement room, trying to figure out how they can get their mortgage crammed down to match the decrease in the value of their home?  Jeez, most people have no idea what that means anyway.  Frankly, the average borrower just wants to make their damn mortgage payment.  The majority of homeowners are not first and foremost considering the amount owed . . . they are considering first and foremost their monthly payments.  That’s what a rational actor would do. 

When does the issue of how much a homeowner owes become central?  Well, I would imagine when a homeowner wants to sell their house or refinance.

In the end, if the Obama/Biden plan were to pass, I’m sure there’d be a segment of the population that might decide to muck around with the bankruptcy law for a cram down.  But that certainly doesn’t represent the majority of people who truly want to reduce their mortgage payments.  And, the fact is, the Obama/Biden plan doesn’t specifically address the main issue of what the average Mr. Joe Six Pack is dealing with:  PAYMENT!!

Finally, contrary to what the banks and alarmists are saying, the Obama/Biden proposal — in the context of a bankruptcy proceeding . . . some pundits are claiming that the cram down proposal applies to everyone and anyone — does not give a borrower a windfall, in the sense of paying a lower principal amount and keeping the profits.

The Next Little Thing (Or Rich People Hobbies)

This morning, you may have read the article in the New York Times, “The Next Little Thing,” about a movement where people build tiny houses — generally defined as less than 1000 square feet and, in some cases, less than 100.  Most of these people maintain their big houses elsewhere and, on the weekends or when they want to “get away from it all,” will live in their small shacks and lavish their “unencumbered lifestyle.”  Doesn’t this make you feel warm and fuzzy all over?  Damn, I wish I had thought of that.  I think I’ll just find some wood from craigslist and go up to some field in Westchester and build me a little house.

On its face, I have nothing against the small house movement.  Go ahead.  If everyone moves into small houses, then we can reduce our energy costs and perhaps have a mental health day every day of the week because our lives will be simpler.  Can’t we all just make our lives simpler? 

Frankly, though, I think the small house movement is a prime example of what happens when rich elites with the luxury and resources get together and try to do something so that other people will pat them on the back, so that they can be like “regular people.”  Apparently, the New York Times, in all its great wisdom, fell into the trap of reserving several pages in their paper on this movement.  What the New York Times doesn’t tell you is that these people don’t represent the majority of Americans — not because of their adventurous spirit, but because they are in a different tax bracket than the majority of us. 

Sure, while its notable that some people have made the “choice” to simplify their lives and move into a 100 square foot house, the majority of Americans frankly don’t have this choice.  No, it’s not because “these people” have limited vision.  Rather, a large percentage of Americans who are just trying to make ends meet lack the money and resources to do what the people in the tiny house movement — most of whom are receiving the majority of the tax cuts that Sir Bush has given — are able to do: go out into a field and build an 80 square foot house to live in.

What about the large segment of our population that live in a tiny house or a tiny apartment, not because it’s “cool” or “environmentally sound dude,” but because they cannot afford anything bigger?  What about the large segment of our population that work like dogs for eight to ten hours a day and still don’t have enough to buy a place of their own, much less save a little each month?  I’m sure we’d all love to have a ‘second house,’ even if it was 100 square feet — but if I did that, I’d have to go on public assistance.  I need to work to pay the bills, and I live pretty simply.  I would love to live on granola and farm on land, but unforunately my job isn’t around a farm and I don’t have any land to farm and granola is really expensive. 

I guess for rich people, choosing to live in a “tiny house” is cool and hip.  I think if they want to be cool and environmentally hip, maybe instead of building new tiny houses, they should move into houses that millions of Americans are living in now — you know, those cramped, overcrowded residences.  I’m sure we could find you a closet or something that’s even smaller than 80 square feet.  In return, the Americans living in these houses (clearly, according to the tiny house movement, who are short sighted and a slave to the rat race) could move into your big houses.  You know, like house swapping.  That would be more environmentally sound.  And that would be a hobby I would love to see happen.