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Clinton’s “Crime Act” comments not the crime, it’s intolerance of a new party

7 Apr
2016-04-07 (1) If I needed to provide a more specific illustration of just how my old party – the party of FDR, The Kennedys, LBJ, and Clinton built on common purpose, nationalism, and populist policies meant to extend opportunity to the most people irrespective of background and region – slowly worked to abandon me over the past 6-10 years as I was left to toil as a hopeless Red Stater orphaned by national strategists and still touting the glory days of sound economic priorities and political compromise from the 1990s, then today I certainly received a glaring case-in-point. By now, you’ve been bombarded somewhere by the Bill Clinton bickering flap with more aggressive protesting from “Black Lives Matter” campaign disruptors while stumping for his wife today.

CLINTON:

“The ones that won’t let you answer are afraid of the truth,” Bill Clinton admonished protesters at a campaign event for Hillary Clinton today in Philadelphia. The protesters peppered him with questions about the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, a piece of legislation that has become wrapped up in this campaign cycle as Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders both build criminal justice promises built on dismantling parts of it. The crime bill [was] a signature accomplishment of his presidency . . . ” [Source: The Atlantic.]
But wait . . . come again? Attacking the Explainer-in-Chief? You mean Thee One and Thee Only Man from Hope?? Our Bubba?!

IN RETROSPECT: Regarding the tenor of modern Monday morning quarterbacking and political critique of a widely-heralded bi-partisan initiative enacted two decades ago.

ap9409130391_wide-570b21ff250e994b1ceda5fcedd1254d842b5988-s900-c85

Mrs. Clinton (far left) looks on as POTUS embraces then Sen. Joe Biden upon signing Crime Act into law in ’94. 

Yes, folks in today’s arena, and particularly in today’s increasingly intolerant and irrational version of Democratic progressivism, even a global icon and successful two-term POTUS turned revered ex-POTUS, the Dems’ prodigal son and favorite political rockstar who not long ago dropped that campaign-saving convention keynote for the current POTUS, can be memed away without hesitation as some self-serving closet racist who should be subject to an ex post facto party excommunication, officially stricken from the historical record and all federal/state monuments, and subject to universal shaming on every screen we find ourselves staring at the next few hours and coming days.

why_blacks_love_bill_clinton-293x307 (293x307)

Forever living in the past? Or is it still great to be grateful for Clinton Years?

It’s a really sad statement of how the “third way” principles and Clinton’s party shift away from the Great Society to the more broadly inclusive and sustainable “community, opportunity, & responsibility” agenda he pushed for with such great success — whether or not you agree with how they should be viewed in historical contexts a generation later — have been almost entirely rejected in today’s increasingly dissent-free version of the party as somehow “Republican Lite” or just not bernin’ to the Far Left like all the cool kids.

Please, political progressive peoples out there in need of some serious introspection and empathy-refresher: ENOUGH “with us or against us” and more-righteous-than-thou demands and disrespect. Personal attacks to blur meaningful debate USED to be the m.o. for the “other side”, right? That’s the line I subscribed to for a very long time, too. Those vicious and vile Repugs, am I right? Those stupid Fox News and Rush Limbaugh holy rollin’ redneck pigs are not even human enough to warrant humanity seems to be the general take to varying degrees. I mean, sure, we are created equal . . . but some are more equal than others. I think that’s how the story goes, or at least it appears to the general take here as well in terms of recent liberal crusading getting the most attention. The big-tent and diverse views nature of the party has been swept away for a modern version of the party that emphasizes uniformity of beliefs and policies and winning the news cycle with slogans and attacking opponents personally rather than the hard work of building policy consensus and public approval. In many ways, the bumper-sticker debates of complicated problems and questioning the level of American-ism of political foes, and governing in ways that view even minor dissention as treasonous and a question of character very much parallels the Karl Rove -style politics that has been so destructive to our democracy and would presumably be the opposite approach taken by those who opposed him and the GOP brand he sold to the masses.
 
It seems now that despite years of being respected for policies and moderation that brought on prosperous times economically and culturally, today’s loudest voices in the party want him revised down as something entirely different . . .

Without any meaningful consideration of context or legitimate reasoning for differing viewpoints, Clinton can find himself a viral scapegoat on Twitter and in the blogosphere as he’s disrespected and seemingly tossed aside completely in a matter of HOURS as caricatures instantaneous appear and old stories are re-fitted to “confirm” the trending narrative and pile on, almost universally by using the same ol’ trusty GOP attack bulletpoints so many Dems are anxious to get loud about or issue through showing their activist bonafides by making asinine blanket-defriending threats on Facebook if anyone dares admit they might agree (or even just not find particularly disagreeable) whatever the media has deemed newly-scorned public sentiment for that news cycle.

 
Meeting Bill Clinton (2) Lay off my Bill, y’all. Or at least give ol’ Number 42 a basic level of respect when you want to judge his policies and question his motives. Few political or social change movements in recent history have had much impact if they failed to inject civility and build a dialogue from ideas; emotional demands and shaming all others into uniform rationale is not bridging divides, building consensus, or confirming intellectual/moral high ground.
 
I suppose nothing surprises anymore except the unflinching gall and hypocrisy of political idealogues of all stripes . . . many engaging in the very behavior they decry. So much faux-outrage and public affirmation obsession out there it has really halted any chance of meaningful debates and much-needed reforms. Not sure how this changes with the way this election cycle is playing out.
billquote
 
FURTHER READING: Want more thoughtful takes on the broader Lefty Revisionists v. Bubba’s Brand for national Dems? Check out this great piece (from said Lefties, presumably) over at Salon entitled: “The era of (Bill) Clinton liberalism is over. What does that mean for Hillary and the Dems?”
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Daily Affirmation…with JBW?!

16 Apr
20130223_152038(0)

Prof. W…at your service?

The Ironic Arkie: Demandin’ Personal Choice

9 Apr

 

Go ahead…and tread on me?

Ain’t it funny how the good folks here in Arkansas think the notion of government-promoted healthcare access as a fundamental right for all of our citizens is somehow an unconstitutional overreach by this president’s administration in dealing with state guidelines, yet have never (until recently) raised much stink about their completely acquiescence to state and local kingmakers in deeming them as lacking the personal responsibility and moral fiber required to let otherwise hard workin’ and tax payin’ Arkansans make the personal choices of whether or not they want to throw down some cash on a card game, purchase Arkansas’s Diamond Bear products freely, play up their southern bonafides by making their own mash at home, or simply drink on the state’s unofficial official deity’s Sunday holidays.

Of course, the sort of “Blue Laws” like we have in Arkansas are ones which restrict certain activities or sales of goods on Sunday, to accommodate the Christian Sabbath, in this case being the sale of liquor. The first Blue Law in the American colonies was enacted in Virginia in the early 1600s, which included required church attendance. Other early Blue Laws prohibited work, travel, recreation, and activities such as cooking, shaving, cutting hair, wearing either lace or precious metals, sweeping, making beds, kissing, and engaging in sexual intercourse.

Blue Laws have operated to protect Christian business owners from competition on their day of sabbath. However, they never sought to protect from competition those Jews and Muslims whose traditions call for Saturday worship, and thus have clearly established a double-standard to promote Christianity, which seems to me, even as a follower of Jesus in my own right, to run far more afoul of the U.S. Constitution than the legislation affectionately known as “Obamacare” could ever been seen as doing.

Although Blue Laws requiring Sunday church attendance disappeared in the 19th century because they so blatantly violated citizen’ rights to 1st Amendment religious freedoms, other such Sunday restrictions have continued to exist into the modern era, including in Texas, where such laws prohibited selling common housewares and washing machines on Sunday until 1985, and car dealerships in the state continue to operate under similar outdated prohibitions. Similarly, courts in New York and Connecticut have ruled that, because blue laws were created and propagated by religious groups for religious purposes, they are unconstitutional:

Buy Alcohol on Sunday? Connecticut Now Allows It

Gary Donaldson, left, Ben Schiano and Brooks Titcomb celebrating the Sunday sale of beer, wine and liquor in Connecticut.
By ELIZABETH MAKER
Published: May 20, 2012 in The New York Times

Nevertheless, we’re all too aware that Blue Laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays continue to exist and be enforced, especially among our fellow freedom lovin’ Southern brethren residing here in Arkansas and elsewhere in Ye Ol’ Confederacy.

The fact that ours remains one of only a handful of remaining states which still prohibit selling alcohol on Sunday — even as it is now the second busiest shopping day of the week — seem to make no sense in terms of economic losses for small business, statewide revenues from sales taxes, and most importantly, the fact that our state chooses to severely limit the personal freedoms of our adult population while their peers from freedom-hatin’ Lib’rul ‘Merica do not encounter the same government “overreach” that we do here in The Natural State. Indeed, as most Christians see little conflict in going to church in the morning, then watching a football game — maybe with the family, or maybe at a sports bar — in the afternoon, what is the remaining valid rationale for this Puritan ritual anyway?

Once again, we have here a severe case of The Ironic Arkie. (Look for more of these rants in the coming weeks.)

Check out some more local flavor on these broader issues from an earlier story by Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times:

City Wire has a good report on a federal lawsuit arising from the newly opened liquor market in Benton County. A prospective retailer has challenged the Arkansas law that prevents franchising of retail liquor stores and multiple ownerships as a burden on interstate commerce.

Macadoodles liquor chain sought to expand its presence in Arkansas in lawsuit, prior to more liquor law loosening seen in other locations after last election.

The plaintiff wants to run a Macadoodles, the retail chain that had to win a legal fight to open its store in Washington County and which has long enticed huge Arkansas business just across the Arkansas line in Missouri.

The link gives you lots more of the legal ins and outs.

Key points include that 1) there’s a grandfather clause in Arkansas law for related ownerships and 2) it’s well-known that there are families with related stores that already operate in Arkansas and, it is suspected, take advantage of combined buying power not readily available to single-permit owners.

Lurking in the background, too, is behemoth Walmart, whose heirs paid for the campaign to open Benton County to retail liquor stores and which is currently restricted to a single liquor outlet, on a nominally separate premises in Fayetteville. It took a long legal battle for Walmart to get that single outlet; it thirsts to sell more booze here. The situation exists because of Arkansas’s protectionist liquor laws. They are aimed, first, at protecting profit margins of wholesalers.

The interstate commerce clause is a mighty tool against state discrimination in commerce. Hard to see the compelling state interest in protecting wholesalers’ profit at the expense of higher retail prices for consumers. But lawyers are ready to explain.

And also don’t miss this 2012 piece from David Kinkade of The Arkansas Project.

A dedicated Arkansas Project reader sends along a link to this nifty map (pasted below) from those limey toffs at the BBC offering “a snapshot of wet and dry America.” They slipped out of their powdered wigs and put on their thinking caps to generate this graphic detailing the lingering effects of alcohol prohibition here in the U.S.

With 43 dry counties in red, Arkansas looks to be a national leader (?) on this front. I don’t think I realized how much of the nation lives in open territory when it comes to alcohol sales. I mean, geez, look at that vast swatch of liberatory bluish gray once you move west out of Oklahoma and Texas, and head north from Kansas. I also like that there’s “no data” on Georgia, so it’s grayed out like a medieval dragon preserve. That actually sounds about right.

This is really just an excuse to link to this masterly 2009 piece from the estimable Michael Tilley of the City Wire in Fort Smith, wherein he explored the “convoluted concoction of rules” that govern liquor sales in the Natural State—and lived to tell the shocking tale! A taste:

We have rules as to when and how alcohol can be sold from either a convenience store, grocery story or a bonafide liquor store; rules differentiating between sales of wine fermented in Arkansas and wine fermented outside the state. There are rules that say your local Chili’s or Applebee’s is simply a restaurant that can serve beer if built in a wet county, but is a special private club with a (wink, wink) membership policy to go along with food sales if it operates in a dry county.

There are rules on specific times hooch can be sold on the weekends because we’re all mindful of and in agreement with the seminal Harvard study proving that a beer sold at 9:59 a.m. on a Sunday morning leads to immediate and terrific societal destruction, whereas the same beer sold 61 seconds later is nothing more than a standard commercial exchange between consenting adults that results in a positive economic impact for the local economy and tax proceeds for state and local governments.

Not familiar with the Harvard study? Of course you’re not, because no such study exists. Which is something to keep in mind when considering dang near all Arkansas liquor laws and wondering if there is some pragmatic reason for their formulation — No Such Study Exists.

Do go revisit the whole thing and weep for the dearth of good sense that requires you to rush out and buy your Sunday beer supply at 11 p.m. Saturday.

MAP: U.S. Alcohol Sale Restrictions (BBC, 2012)

[Editor’s Note: Wait a minute…The Arkansas Project, you say? You just quoted and wholeheartedly agreed with them?!?

Yup. I’ve come to respect the heck out of Nic Horton and how he goes about his conducting his business, building his brand, and is willing to do the dirty work of research before public diatribes via keyboard, even when I might be well on the other side of the partisan fence on any given issue…this state needs more honest & open government crusaders, believe me.]

Quapaws Hint at Savaging Arkansas…with Economic Progress?

21 Feb

John Berrey, Quapaw Tribe Chairman

Very interesting developments could be in the works as leaders from the Quapaw Indian Tribe of Oklahoma continue to hint at the group’s long-term plans to replicate their successful casino business model with “new” formalized “legal” gambling to central Arkansas, which, goin’ by what the good folks here tell me, is somehow entirely different than what they’ve been doing down at Oaklawn in Hot Springs and on east of here at the dog tracks in West Memphis . . . but I digress.

You may recall that the tribe  purchased an 80-acre tract south of the Little Rock Port Industrial Park for $775,000 late last year, leading to the original speculation about the group’s true intentions on down the road.

Hey, for the record, I am certainly no gambler, and frankly have never quite wrapped my brain around the idea that all the unnecessary anxiety that comes with risking your own cash could be fun or entertaining. That being said, you can also put me on record as being counted among the generally pro- new revenue & stuff-to-do club on these sorts of things, rather than the many hell-in-a-handbasket Chicken Littlers we often find to have the loudest political voices among us. You know who I am talking about, that Family Council crowd of misguided do-gooders who continually seem happy in letting each of our bordering-state neighbors reap the financial rewards we have more or less gifted to their respective state budgets due to our collectively misplaced moral stands, which may very well come from an altruistic viewpoint, but obviously misses the bigger picture.

Source: Tribal Government Gaming (2009)

What the people who lobby hard against the prospects of a state lottery, bizarre legal relics like Sunday alcohol restrictions, and legal gambling via tourism-friendly casinos near the state’s most populated areas, is that maybe if a few slot machines and blackjack tables directly lead to helping our state combat hunger, provide our public schools with more resources or smaller class sizes for our children, or even might mean we can finally finish that Interstate 49 project Missouri and Louisiana keep waiting on us to complete our portion of (or any of the myriad other road improvements we desperately need for a modern economy), then by all means BRING THIS ON. Am I right or am I right?

(Editor’s Note: I am right.)

Tunica certainly isn’t Mississippi’s great ethical failing, folks. Perhaps Jerry Cox and the like can secretly lobby for passage of Arkansans for Compassionate Care ballot initiative and have a way to combat all those stressful, sleepless nights sure to come when those squaws bring all that sinful abomination to town.

Source: Arkansas Blog

It’s probably worth noting to readers that John Berrey, the Quapaw Tribe’s Chairman, recently completed a four-year stint as a member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a presidentially appointed post. So when you’re left muttering to yourself “how in the heck are they able to link this one to Obamacare so everyone here hates it?!” you’ll at least know where the enormous stretch would seemingly come from.

Hubert Tate

For more background, below you will find the accompanying commentary yesterday from KARK’s Hubert Tate.

Stay tuned. Could get real testy if this push becomes a reality.

An Indian tribe, native to Arkansas, has purchased 160 acres of land in Pulaski County, hoping to reclaim a part of its history in the state. The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma is trying to figure out the next step to develop the land, including the possibility of a casino. No decision has been made, but right now the tribe’s main focus is to reclaim its history in the State. The tribe had property in Pulaski County dating back to before the 1800’s, but the United States government forced them to surrender their lands.

“We really love Arkansas and see it as part of our home. Then in 1850s, we were removed from Arkansas and brought out to Indian Territory of Oklahoma,” said business chairman John BerreyQuapaw, Oklahoma is where the majority of the tribe’s 4,500 members are now located.

Property near the Little Rock Port Authority is where Quapaws were for decades before moving northwest, which is the main reason why the tribe purchased 160 acres near Thibault Road in Little Rock recently. Berrey says the focus is now on determining what to do with the land. “We are more concerned right now about our history and reestablishing ourselves to the people and children in Arkansas. We were part of the very beginning of the state and we want to be part of the future state of Arkansas,” he said.

Berrey says the tribe has a strong business arm in Oklahoma, including a portfolio of gas stations, restaurants, hotel, spa, golf course and two casinos, all of which provide more than 2,000 jobs through its enterprises in Oklahoma. So, KARK asked him about the possibility of duplicating the business model in Little Rock. He makes it clear, the group doesn’t have any plans right now to build a casino or anything else in Pulaski County, but he doesn’t rule out the possibility.

“I would never say never. We would love to help the state out in any fiscal situation. We would love to employ a lot of people. We have a great record in doing those type of things. So if the opportunity arises, we would probably take advantage of it , but right now, we are trying to protect it and be a good steward of what we own,” said Berrey, who also does acknowledge there has been mystery surrounding the possibility. “I just think people try to put stuff together that may or may not exist. (The tribe) can game. We don’t know what the opportunities are in Arkansas, but we just want to be part of the state,” reiterating his sentiment that there is no timetable to making a decision.

“Native Americans can have casinos under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. We have two, very beautiful, very nice casinos and are very successful in the casino business. We are very efficient and we have a very nice product and we are a big economic impact on the region,” said Berrey.

Located east of downtown near the Clinton National Airport, the recently-acquired tribal property has important historic and cultural ties to the area. To better understand the tribe’s ambitions and loyalties, Arkansas Business provided a concise and contextual history in a feature around the time of the purchase:

The newly acquired tribal property is on part of a natural levee that extends northwest from the former Thibault Plantation to the Clinton National Airport. This strip of high ground was home to a string of scattered dwellings and farms that date to 1300-1500 A.D.

Graves are part of the cultural equation, too. Local denizens of the era favored burials near and even in their dwellings. The Arkansas Archeological Survey will conduct a detailed survey of the property for the tribe to identify the historical secrets it contains. “It wasn’t a big, compact village,” said Tom Green, Director of the Arkansas Archeological Survey.

Berrey, a University of Arkansas journalism graduate, also noted that in addition to its “tremendous cultural significance,” the property possessed “economic development potential.” Most of the tribe’s property along the east side of Thibault Road is devoted to farming, and more than 20 acres is wooded.

That choice of names pays homage to the tribe’s name (Ugaxpa in the native tongue, meaning downstream people) and is a reference to the tribe’s migration downstream from the Ohio River Valley to what would become Arkansas.

Oh, and as far as that little “presidential appointment” quip I wrote about — well, perhaps these guys do have their Red State Bonafides in order on a very “different front” after all:

The tribe most associated with Arkansas (including the state name) is now associated with a highly successful gaming development: Downstream Casino Resort in OklahomaOn a different business front, the Quapaw Tribal Business Committee recently bought a 51% stake in Detonics Defense Technologies LLC, a high-end handgun maker.

“This is a very exciting venture that if all goes well will position the Quapaw Tribe as a premier minority contractor in the law enforcement and handgun training space for military, state and local law enforcement,” Berrey also noted in The Quapaw Tribal News. “It’s a very exciting mix.”

Redefining “Anti-Racist” [UPDATED]

22 Dec

[ORIGINAL STORY]

Wow.

Yes, it’s Arkansaw, so I get it. But it’s also 2013, folks, so pardon me while I’m still a bit shocked and dismayed by the following display of anti-enlightenment I recently had a chance to take in directly from our friends and neighbors to the north in A Place Called Harrison:


[STORY UPDATE]

From the Harrison Daily Times, November 29, 2013:

A Harrison Police report shows that a witness saw some people vandalizing a billboard on the Bypass early Friday morning and reported it to police. Now it’s under investigation as a criminal matter. The report shows the witness called police about 12:10 a.m. Friday to report seeing several people vandalizing the sign.

The sign, which has drawn much controversy since it went up, is bright yellow with the words “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White” emblazoned on it in black letters. The vandals had painted over part of the last two word and wrote the word “Love” on it.

Assistant Police Chief Paul Woodruff said the witness saw the act in progress and was able to give police the license plate number of a vehicle seen leaving the area Friday morning. He said the incident is an open criminal mischief investigation and no formal report had been finalized by Friday afternoon.

antiwhite_harrison

Hard to consider such an upgrade “vandalism.”

As loyal TWP followers and other newsies will recall, said billboard began causing a stir with local residents and travelers passing through along the busy U.S. 62/65 highway bypass when the sign went up sometime in mid-October, despite drawing the ire and condemnation of several city leaders. Since then, the company that owns the sign has refused to identify who is paying for this absurd public proclamation, only saying it was a “young man” who had agreed to pay $200 per month for a year.

For a growing town where most are eager to turn the page on an ugly history and want to promote commerce, investment, and be a place where young folks might stick around to raise their families, this has to be a very aggravating setback.

Hopefully the voices of “Love” truly do win the day for the citizens there and throughout our beloved, yet very racially-challenged Natural State.

[STORY UPDATE: PART TWO]

“The People’s Lawyer” (Campbell) doesn’t shy away from controversy, does he?

…and now: The Litigation.

A billboard located along Highway 62-65 in Harrison garnered national attention when it first appeared in October, as reported to you here on TWP.  The sign read, “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White,” until late November, when it was altered it to read, “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Love.”  Though sign owner Claude West has refused to say who rented the space for the bargain price of $2,400 per year, suspicions abound that the renter of the sign has ties to the Ku Klux Klan.  Only days before the sign went up, Thomas Robb, national director of the Knights of the KKK, posted on his Facebook page, “Anti-KKK is a Code Word for Anti-White.”

The suspicions that racist motivations were behind the billboard have only grown since this past Wednesday when a local resident, Chad Watkins of Harrison, was arrested and charged with defacing the sign.  Watkins’ friends created a Facebook page and fundraising website to call attention to the matter and raise money for Watkins’ legal defense.  Almost immediately, bigoted and hateful comments began appearing on both sites.

Watkins has retained none other than Matt Campbell of Pinnacle Law Firm in Little Rock to defend him.

“It’s incredible,” says Campbell.  “The majority of the people leaving hateful comments about Mr. Watkins online tout themselves as Christians, yet, only days from Christmas, they are angry because someone changed a hateful message to one of love.  They scream about constitutional rights, but they seem ready to condemn Mr. Watkins before he ever even has a day in court.  The cognitive dissonance is staggering.”

Watkins friends have created an online fundraising campaign to cover Watkins’ legal costs, and Campbell has stated that all money raised beyond actual costs and fees will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center at the close of the case.

“I’m doing it at no charge to him. He already has a fundraiser campaign set up for legal fees.  I told him I’d bill against whatever was raised, and, when the case was over, if there was excess money donated, we’d donate it to the SPLC.”

“Evildoer” graffitist, Chad Watkins

The Facebook page started on behalf of said vandalist, Watkins, includes the following formal description:

Let’s come together and raise money to help Chad Watkins with the legal fees he acquired when he “vandalized” an incredibly racist billboard with the word “LOVE”. If you’re from Harrison, I’m sure you’ve seen that hideous, racist sign on the bypass; It reads “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White”. It attracted lots of protestors, and made our entire town look bad to those passing by. Many of us locals were disgusted with the sign, and shocked that it was even allowed.

Several weeks after the billboard was put up, it was vandilized with the word “love”. We all silently cheered for the brave sole who did this! Surprisingly, we found out that the “vandal” was someone we all know and love- Mr. Chad Watkins. Sadly, he was caught!

Donate Here: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/9fHh3/ab/a2To93

(Southern Poverty Law Center ©)

The Pro Ses Are Coming

29 Nov

[Editor’s Note: This entry originally appeared on the The Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service on November 29, 2013.]

Law Libraries & Pro Se Litigants: Accessing the Information to Access Justice

One of the many effects felt downstream during the U.S. economic slump of the past several years has been the tremendous rise in pro se litigation (i.e., citizens who choose to represent themselves in court, generally due to their inability to afford an attorney) in today’s courtrooms. However, even as the need for access to professional legal services increases, officials in both federal and state government find themselves needing to cut existing services to lower budgets. Accordingly, many public law libraries find themselves taking on an ever-increasing role as the de facto “front line” for the growing demand for access to legal information, leading to increased pressure on law librarians and other legal-information professionals who provide reference services and often balance myriad other “new” duties in this transitional period of our profession.

With this new environment comes not only increased patron counts, but also the kind of expectations many of these laypersons have when they come see a “lawyer librarian.” In this role, we have a very important legal boundary when dealing with these patrons – we are not their attorneys, are not practicing law in this role, and cannot steer them into decisions by providing legal advice. It’s not only unethical; it can have negative repercussions should the person not have things go their way and feel they relied on your opinion to make a decision. With so many resources and layperson forms available now, however, and because many people are directed to law libraries by local court staff members without much direction as to what can be offered, many patrons have unrealistic expectations of what the reference librarian can do for them. That said, those in this field are librarians first – while legal boundaries must be respected, there is also a professional obligation for reference librarians of all stripes to treat all patrons equally and fairly and provide them with the tools they need to access and use the information that they seek.

Pro se patrons are a unique group of people from all sorts of different backgrounds, but almost all share a very limited background when it comes to the practice of law. Nonetheless, as persons representing themselves in court, they are required to perform at least some research to have a basic understanding of their legal issue, and they must submit documents that follow a certain basic format to be deemed acceptable in court. These patrons typically ask for assistance in choosing and drafting pleadings and forms, interpreting what something says, and in researching statutory law. Ethical conflicts arise regarding the level of reference service a librarian can give to the patron in this context, often when choosing forms, and particularly in drafting forms to be used in court. Patrons frequently inquire about the legal expertise of the person helping them, and, if that person mentions that they have a law degree, those expectations become even higher. Many library policies are vague on issues such as these, leaving librarians on their own when an insistent patron’s inquiry becomes problematic. The trick for librarians is to perform as experts on finding information, rather than as experts at analyzing all of the information gathered, in order to assist the patron in a meaningful way but also not cross into the unauthorized practice of law.

Fulfilling Ethical Duties While Avoiding Unethical Conflicts

The tools of legal reference are often very confusing to pro se patrons, and it is important that these patrons have someone to assist in the navigation of these tools, because, office water cooler stories aside, helping them remains our duty as librarians. To leave the user floundering about, unable to use available resources would be no less a disservice or wrong action than would giving out bad legal advice. The librarian’s loyalty lies with the patron and their information need. Yet fulfilling this need comes with restrictions that protect both the librarian and the patron who has taken on the task of handling the matter on their own. It is best for law librarians to help the patron as much as possible – providing basic source and term suggestions; instruction on using the tools, guides, referrals, and other pieces of assistance; and avoiding any lawyerly performance that might arguably establish a client-attorney relationship. There are certainly a broad range of approaches to this process, with some librarians acting as a source guide, and others as someone who teaches the self-litigant how to research on their own, but the bottom line is the same: if the line into “lawyerly function” is not crossed and the librarian is working inside the boundaries, they may assist their patrons without needing to fear unauthorized practice of law.

Game-planning for Law Libraries

Many library policies do not specifically address the problem of giving clear guidelines to both staff and pro se patrons about the scope of available reference service, beyond cautioning their librarians to tread carefully. Placing stated policies regarding the scope of available legal reference services in a prominent position where patrons can easily spot and read it as they wait their turn at the desk can be a great way to get everyone, staff and patrons alike, on the same page. In addition to increased awareness of policies, there should be available directories and referral lists of attorneys and local association numbers available to the patrons who need legal advice – what better way to show that librarians are here to help, but we are happy to defer to the “experts” when it comes to the actual practice of law?

Additional Reading

Randy Diamond and Martha Dragich. Professionalism in Librarianship: Shifting the Focus of Malpractice to Good Practice. 49 Library Trends 395 (2001).

Paul D. Healey. Pro Se Users, Reference Liability, and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: Twenty-Five Selected Readings. 94 Law Lib. J. 133 (2002).

Paul D. Healey. Professional Liability Issues for Librarians and Information Professionals (Neil Schuman Press, 2008).

Stephen Parks. A Lawyer/Librarian’s Efforts to Avoid the Unauthorized Practice of Law. Library Student Journal (2013).

Drew A. Swank. The Pro Se Phenomenon. 19 BYU J. Pub. L. 373 (2011).

Arthur J. Lachman. Self-help services: Reducing risk by avoiding the formation of lawyer-client relationships. NLDA Insurance Program Bulletin.

The Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service is a vehicle for identifying and addressing the pressing needs of our society. It examines issues lying at the nexus of policy, public interest, and academia, and raises awareness of topics insufficiently examined in traditional scholarly publications. [UALR Bowen School of Law]

Redbird Recovery: Thursday Morning Coming Down

31 Oct

Well, it’s over.

Barney Frank has sung.

Doris Kearns-Goodwin can now die a happy man.

And somewhere, Curt Schilling is still talking as he pretends he somehow deserves some of the glory for this.

Unfortunately, all we have going on here is Thursday Morning Coming Down for yours truly, as I add my name to disappointment roll call today, along with all of you other Cardinals loyalists out there.

There’s no joy to be found in Mudville at the moment.

No solace.

No, sir(s).

Not yet.

Matty C. makes final out at Fenway.

Umm…Wha-Wha-What Happened?

I reckon there’s plenty to discuss regarding things that quickly went downhill for the NL Champs in this noted “Weird Series” fall classic. From multiple quirky plays occurring all over the field, to the total disconnect from the Cardinal Way of sound fundamentals shown throughout regular season/previous playoff rounds compared to the various baseball brain farts that left us scratching our heads multiple times in this series. Those simply could not be the same Redbirds we all had been watching together for the last seven or eight months. Right?

Lacking the spirit in St. Louis? Freese & Jay done seen better days.

Am I incredibly bummed about all of those obvious failings? Of course I am. There were so many blatant miscues here and there it’s no wonder many in Cardinal Nation are e-ranting and e-whining on and on about them in today’s post-mortems. But it was certainly not at all shocking to see this team go down in flames and lose a series when our “Mr. Clutch” ace (Adam Wainwright) loses both of his starts, and especially when an entire half of the starting of line-up is barely making any contact whatsoever. “Big City” AdamsDavid FreeseJon Jay, & Pete Kozma? More like Out, Out, Out, Out! Seemingly e’r other inning; seemingly e’r single at-bat. Our ducks at the top-half of the order were continually hitting with nobody on and were left stranded out there on the bearded pond. It became awfully clear awfully early on that this no-show quartet had little business riding the bench somewhere on a sh!tty team, let alone on one the remaining two that were vying for the crown.

A clutch knock, fellas? Maybe a couple lil’ bloop singles that somehow find a way to fall in and break the funk? Hell, how about just a productive out that advances a runner???

NAH.

(Not even close.)

jbw_ms(seattlegame_2013)

Rest Assured: Serfass & Woodmansee (Baseball Nerds)

Ok, I’ve had a chance to swallow my pride and sleep on it now…and this is still not Happiness! Perhaps taking some time to “write out” my frustrations and slowly start rattling off those silver linings and looking ahead will be therapeutic. Perhaps things are just paining me that much more today because a very good friend, colleague, and fellow baseball nerd assured me several months ago that I had nothing to worry about all season with this team — they were destined for another championship run. Oh, and as if that false sense of security wasn’t cruel enough, it was none other than that ol’ Serfass Phamily Phave, Shane Victorino, that ended up doing us in!

Reeled in and filleted, I tells ya! What emotional battering! 😉

These f*cking guys? #FearTheHygiene

[Bitterly] Moving Forward…

From our Fearless Leader:

“There’s been a lot of talk about [being set up for success], and rightfully so,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Wednesday night, moments after a 6-1 Red Sox victory ended the World Series. “You look at the young arms. We’ve got experience behind the plate and in left and right. We’ve got a lot of young players out there. There’s a lot of things to be excited about moving forward.

“It’s really hard to think about at this point, because it’s so rare and special to be on this stage. And you hate to see anything slip away — not that we gave it away, they took it. They played us and they beat us.”

Matheny’s View? A Bright Future

“As we look through the season — and we’ll start doing that tonight, kind of reviewing what we were able to accomplish — we had plenty of adversity,” Matheny said. “[There were] plenty of things we had to overcome. And they did it in a style that represented the organization well, the way they played and didn’t back off one second, of the way they prepared. It was a relentless team, and I think that’s a way to label them. And I’m very proud to be a part of them.”

We’re beyond the “conventional wisdom” stage of what to do next at this point — it’s now an outright necessity for the team’s brilliant GM John Mozeliak to go ahead and tap into that surplus of young pitching talent in order to make a couple of significant upgrades going into 2014. Obviously, the stockpile of fastballin’ young’uns are the StL organizational strength and that highly-touted farm shouldn’t be sold outright for assumed instant glory…but we also find ourselves in a position where the team can afford to ship a couple of those arms for the sort of quick improvement to the regular line-up that puts us over the top come next October. It’s a rare luxury for a contending team to have, no doubt, and timing-wise, it’s very promising to see several solid (and very affordable) free agents out there this offseason that could quickly fill a need, too.

Top Priorities: Yunel Escobar at SS in 2014?

What’s Next? Who’s Next?

Among my laundry list of would-be improvements, whether filled via trade or scrap-heap signing, includes making an investment for a long-term SS solution the top priority of our Hot Stove efforts. Methinks Tampa Bay’s Yunel Escobar would be an absolutely perfect fit on this squad right now, so I’m going to go ahead and declare an “all in” on this call.  Beyond acquiring the next Edgar Renteria at SS, I also feel that infield depth is a serious concern moving forward…especially now that we have seemingly repaid our debts to Lucifer for the aformentioned Freese’s amazing 2011 playoff run (who’s soul was clearly being punished with his .170ish/0/0 series output…but thanks for the memories, right?). Behind newly-minted starters Matt Carpenter moving over to the hot corner, and the Flyin’ Hawaiian “Mighty Mouse”, rookie phenom Kolten Wong replacing him at 2B, I’m thinkin’ we rake in a reliable veteran who can play a few spots behind them and help be a clubhouse leader for us, someone like the highly-respected Michael YoungOmar Infante, or even another tenure for Rafael Furcal (if he’s willing to play for peanuts in order to be on a winner and prove he’s healthy again, that is). Just don’t get totally lame and pull another Felipe Lopez or Ty Wigginton on us again for that role, ya hear? I haven’t forgot.

Rosie2012stl

Closing Rosie!

Additionally, pressing team needs include filling a glaring void in CF with a solid option for the time being (1-2 years?), as well as adding another good lefty out of the ‘pen. For the latter, perhaps the hard-throwing former closer Mike Gonzalez could both compliment 1-batter specialist Randy Choate and serve as another reliable gap-filler between Martinez, Siegrist, and my main man Trevor Rosenthal at the back end of games. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing if we might throw a few bucks Roy Halladay’s way, have him play the role of his likely-departing buddy Chris Carpenter, and see if he might surprise some folks with another decent year or two as a fifth starter or converted RP on the cheap.

That’s my $0.02 on the Nows & the Laters following our latest crushing World Series defeat to those damned BoSox from Beantown. If you’re like me and from the Nintendo and Bases Loaded era, I think the proverbial “Agony of Defeat” can be summed up pretty well by the reaction of reliever Seth Maness to Jonny Gomes’ go-ahead HR in Game 5. (By the way, if you’re old school and scoring this at home, let’s just agree that it made just about as much sense to pitch to PAPI as it did to pitch to PASTE in the video game. Get out tha way! Yikes!)

WS2011_stlclasswar

Hot Stove Heaters: Will we see free agent bidding wars from the usual big market spenders this offseason?

Baseball writer Jayson Martinez over at The Bleacher Report adds his voice to the one of many out there today also touting a very bright future for those Birds on the Bat:

Earlier this season, I chose the St. Louis Cardinals as the “Most Brilliantly Run Franchise in Baseball”. True to form, they had another brilliant season that included their fourth World Series appearance in the past 10 years. While they couldn’t outlast the Red Sox, who beat them in six games, they shouldn’t miss a beat in 2014 as long as they continue to follow the model of success that’s allowed them to post winning seasons in 13 of the last 14 years.

As they’ve shown the baseball world throughout the season and into the playoffs, their young talent is for real, and they should continue to produce more homegrown talent that should put the team in a position so that they don’t have to rely on the free agent and trade markets.

Carlos Beltran: Sliding Away from St. Louis

The Cardinals have the financial resources to make moves in free agency and the farm system that would allow them to do nothing and still be a good team. It’s good to have those options. Some teams have neither.

General manager John Mozeliak had a quiet offseason prior to the 2013 season, opting to use his financial resources to lock up Craig and Adam Wainwright to long-term extensions. With most of his team’s core of talent under club control for several more seasons and several million dollars coming off of the books, he could focus more on adding another impact bat or pitcher to push the team over the top next season.

[. . .]

The question is whether they’ll have to spend that much to put together a championship-caliber roster for 2014. There really isn’t much that needs to be done. They’re great now and they’ll be losing just one key component—Beltran—to this year’s team. Finding an upgrade at shortstop is most likely at the top of the team’s “things to do” list this winter while adding depth to the pitching staff could also be on the agenda.

Prognosticate here with me for a moment, fellow citizens of Cardinal Nation. What’s your Day After diagnosis looking like? What is it now, just 104 days ’til pitchers and catchers can officially report? Today may not be Happiness, but that day, friends, will be Baseball Bliss all over again. 

How ’bout we just turn that bunch of Clydesdales horsies loose already! ¡Viva El Birdos! Dial me up some Mike Shannon on the radio!

Not that we’re doing any counting down or anything here at TWP. 🙂

Reflecting on These Tragedies

22 May

Joplin, MO Tornado Aftermath (Joplin High School | May 29, 2011)
Copyright © Jeff Woodmansee

Heavy hearts and somber thoughts as we all think about the devastation and sadness in Moore, Oklahoma right now, while also reflecting upon the eerily similar tragedy occurring two years ago today as Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery efforts are still taking place.

When Soldiers Go Social on Politics

29 Apr

File this one under “shameless self-promotion.”

My National Law Journal piece out today takes a look at the legal restrictions on soldiers’ political speech online — particularly making disparaging remarks about the commander-in-chief — in light of the popular use of sharing political views through social networking such as like Facebook and Twitter.

The National Law Journal (4/29/13)


Although the Uniform Code of Military Justice criminalizes a servicemember’s use of ‘contemptuous words’ against the president, some use social media to insult Obama.

Mike Ross 2.0: Ladies’ Man?

22 Apr

Ross-kick-off_womenLook out, it’s Mike Ross 2.0! The reinvented version, who was brought out of a very short political retirement by the party establishment, is forging ahead with a campaign strategery where he’ll tout himself as a “champion” for the rights of women in this state. Someone who will be able to defend them against those wacky GOP social ideologues who wasted no time in coming to power and enacting an agenda that seemed to offend the otherwise practical and sensible nature of Arkansans from all political stripes. By sharing his outrage about these  legislative controversies to voters, he seeks to prove his bonafides as Arkansas’s new Ladies’ Man, one might conclude.

Yes, really. He’s going there.

What’s that, you say? Everything he’s done as an elected official prior to his announcement of campaigning for governor tells us something entirely different?

Oh, I agree. Because your claims of the rhetoric not at all matching the reality is the one thing here that actually is true.

Now wipe that completely confused (and slightly constipated) look off your mug and walk through this with me.

Over at Arkansas Blog today, Max Brantley discussed the move from Planned Parenthood to highlight some of the former AR-04 congressman’s controversial and disconnected votes concerning the rights of women to control their own bodies and the funding for programs that support their overall health needs, and to press him on how he squares those actions with his recent rhetoric that tries to make his votes appear different than those cast by Republicans (and some Democrats) in the General Assembly:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross made encouraging sounds about looking out for women’s medical services and the ability to choose abortion when he announced last week. But his past record has included votes to restrict abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood, which recently survived a legislative attack on funding for its sex education work in Little Rock.

Republicans, who LIKED Ross’ past record, have been hooting about Ross’ pitch to women. Bill Halter, his Democratic opponent, has been beating up Ross as the next Jason Rapert. Ross himself has explicitly said 1) he’d have vetoed the abortion restriction bills Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed and 2) he would NOT support defunding of Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services in Arkansas.

An issue for the long-term? Republicans arguing that Mike Ross isn’t as liberal as he wants to you believe? Maybe not. But the Democratic primary is something else.

The facts: Mike Ross co-sponsored a controversial bill, long with Missouri’s infamous Todd “Legitimate Rape?” Akin, that sought to redefine the definition of rape and would have prevented women from obtaining important medical care, and has also twice voted to stop federal funds from going to groups like Planned Parenthood, who provide women with myriad health services beyond those related to pregnancy and abortion.

For his part, candidate Ross claims the legislation he helped put forth was somehow not the same as what was recently enacted in Arkansas, and that his position on abortion is actually “unchanged” from his time in the House of Representatives:

“Let me be clear about my position and what it has always been. I am personally opposed to abortion. I do not believe, I do not support government-funded abortions with state or federal dollars. But like Gov. Beebe, I believe, from a public policy perspective, it should be safe, legal and rare,” [Ross] said.

Despite his politically-expedient “evolution” on these issues, and his accompanying public display of “outrage” towards the likes of Sen. Jason Rapert and the rest of the ARGOP’s in leading the Arkansas Legislature to enact these sorts of restrictions, Boss Ross has an accessible voting record we concerned citizens can review which paints a very different picture of where the man actually stands. Indeed, his was a very shameful showing of bi-partisanship at its worst when it comes to siding up with Republicans in their “War on Women” crusades.

As you would expect, Bill Halter’s campaign wasted no time weighing in on the almost Mitt Romney-esque level of flip-flopping hypocrisy shown by the recently self-proclaimed “frontrunner”:

After announcing that he would not run for reelection to Congress and less than two months after saying he was not going to run governor, Mike Ross showed his true colors and voted for this ban. Only now that he is running for governor, has he chosen to flip-flop to suit his own political ambition. Mike Ross’s statements are not consistent with his own previous actions.

Mike Ross talks about believing in Arkansas values, but yesterday he demonstrated a determined willingness to ignore those values when it served his own political ambition.

With Bill Halter, Arkansans know where he stands. He would have vetoed the abortion bills and he never would have supported the attacks on women that Mike Ross promoted by cosponsoring and voting for legislation that would have restricted women from receiving important medical care.

Mike Ross’s record of denying women access to medical care is only one of many aspects of an overall record that Arkansans will find troubling. I am confident that the Arkansas press corps will do their homework and hold Mr. Ross accountable for his own record, rather than allow him to run on someone else’s record.

Democratic_Party_of_Arkansas_LogoThis state — and the floundering state party who, by any reasonable account, have been unable to regroup and come to grips with how to still have some relevance while in the minority, needs a leader with authentic convictions that understands how to build support for real reform so we can move ahead. In my mind, Democrats here should be lining up to support someone who is, at the very least, a consistent “D” in the way they generally approach policy. Hell, one day we may even learn to raise those expectations enough to get beyond some of the same unresponsive establishment do-nothing-ness that has allowed the party to  drift aimlessly into the political wilderness.

bill-halter-glowMore inspiring would be to see the calls for real reform led by someone that is not only bold enough to offer innovative ideas, but also has the conviction and know-how to effectively rally the masses against GOP priorities that thwart Arkansas’s economic and social progress. For my money, Bill Halter is the only person that provides a chance for this to happen.

We’ll never be able to truly move this state forward if we accept anything less than the best we have to offer. The days where we are able to collectively say “Thank God for Mississippi” may be dwindling, you know.

(You can watch Roby Brock’s full interview with Mike Ross from last night’s Talk Business show below.)