Month: May 2016

The New Sport of Kings: Casino Litigation Pt. 1

Until recently casino litigation meant law suits involving actual casinos.   No more.   Thanks to Peter Theil, the Paypal founder backing a law suit against Gawker media seeking vengeance, casino litigation now means  some fat cat fueling litigation for profit or private purposes.
It’s spurious for a lot of reasons, most directly that litigation is not particularly a game of chance, and the investors are not suckers holding cards that were dealt from the bottom.

Third-party financing of litigation isn’t new,  The most basic case, a personal injury case, is funded on one side by the plaintiff’s attorney’s line of credit  and sometimes a litigation funding firm and on the other side by an insurance company.  Not the same?  What about issues-based non-profit organizations funding lawsuits to test principles?  Flag-burning, integration, school prayer, women’s reproductive rights, etc.  Some even are test cases, situations designed for litigation to test the principle. No disrespect to the plutocrat who funded the law suit against the well-healed dot-com, but the only thing new about this case is the personal nature of the animus that fueled it.

If you’ve visited a state courthouse recently and witnessed the under-staffing, slowness and dilapidated conditions, you can safely conclude that if this is the era of casino litigation, the odds are against the courts.  Litigation has become an over-used tool of retribution, and the state court systems are not given the resources to keep pace with the case load.  For those cases that are truly casino litigation, shouldn’t the house at least get a piece of the action?  That’s the way it works in Vegas.

Democrats Play Final Jeopardy

The answer is Joe Biden.  Whatever the question is.

Who should be the VP on the 2016 ticket?

Who should run in place of Bernie and Hillary?

Who can beat Trump?

Yes, that’s right.  And they are all correct questions. Joe Biden is probably the  best-known and most trusted member of that party.  People believe in his honesty and sincerity.  Over the last eight years, he has learned to put a lid on it.  Joe connects with both the corporate center and the left wing.

But Joe is not running for a good reason. He could not commit himself to it. It appears that there is a new question, with Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the hot seat. The answer is Joe Biden.

Who should be Chairman of the DNC?

Biden would give the party credibility, and I believe that he would do the right thing, meaning that he will ensure a fair convention and will promote the candidate most likely to succeed, other than himself.  Unfortunately, I don’t think he is eligible.  He has a full-time job.

America Wurst

Being the Teflon Donald means never having to say you’re sorry or to explain yourself. It is unlikely that Mr. Trump’s invoking the slogan America First was intended to conjure the spirit of Charles Lindbergh. Colonel Lindbergh was a national hero for being the first person to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. His fame catapulted him into elite European circles. He had close contacts and honorary affiliation within Hitler’s Third Reich. In the United States in 1941 he took to the hustings to denounce American involvement in the European war. At the same he embraced Hitler’s racist views. The America First movement effectively ended when the Japanese Air Force attacked Pearl Harbor.
In Donald Trump’s views on foreign-policy, he declared that he would always put the safety and security of “America First” ahead of everything else. He made no reference to the movement of 1940s, and he made no comments embracing any of the philosophy of Adolf Hitler or Charles Lindbergh.
So it seems rather unfortunate Trump did not know the history of the slogan or that it is associated with the most despicable policies of the 20th century. Oops! I would almost rather believe that it was done due to cunning and not ignorance.

Why are We in Vietnam?

Norman Mailer’s late Sixties book by that name is timely again. Pres. Obama is visiting our former foe, and yesterday he announced a lift on the long ban of lethal weapons sales there.   He’s bartering for dock space at Cam Ranh Bay for our Pacific Fleet, so the armada has faster access to the South China Sea. That’s why we’re there.

China has been increasing its presence on the South China Sea, which is a very busy place. Bounded by The Philippines to the East and Vietnam to the South, it is a showplace for martial exhibitions and a forum for conflicting sovereignty claims. In short, it is a flashpoint. Parking the US fleet in Vietnam is like putting missiles in Cuba., minus the existential threat. It’s a way of warning China not to pick on our old friends, the Philippines, or our new best friend, Vietnam.

Hopefully, it has not been forgotten that Indo-China is not a puppet show.  Vietnam is suspicious of plays for dominance by all large powers. Same as it ever was.

I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party

 Bernie Sanders trails Hillary Clinton. Even though he can’t catch her, he refuses to concede.  He  he will try to convince the super-delegates that he gives the Democrats the best chance to win.Clinton insists that the nomination is all but official.  She will be the nominee.  The problem is that recent polls show her slipping against Donald Trump, the Republican nominee.  The same polls show Sanders leading Trump by double digits.  Sanders has a good argument, if you follow the polls.   Clinton and Trump are in a statistical dead heat, each with about 40% of the vote.  The other 20%, undecided, mostly are Sanders voters.  Sanders, with his support and Clinton’s, opens a large lead over Trump.

Super-delegates in the Democratic Party process were intended to smooth out some of the potential problems that crop up in primaries.  In a sense, they are successors to the party bosses who ran conventions in the past.   If the goal is to win the White House, they should be taking a hard look at the Sanders campaign.  However, Sanders has railed against Deborah Wasserman Schultz, the Convention Chairperson who supports Clinton. Presumably, she is not giving Sanders a fair hearing.

This spring we witnessed the Fall of the GOP.  Turns out, the announcement of its death was exaggerated. In the end, Trump and the party regulars, with a few notable exceptions, seemed to kiss and make up.  We didn’t realize that the Democrats were playing out the same drama, but they are. There has been no rapprochement between Sanders and the party apparatchiks so far. Many of Sanders’ voters will not vote for Clinton, Some consider her a “monster.”

The Democrats have made the mistake of viewing the 2000 election as an anomaly.  The Supreme Court stopping the Florida recount was a once-in-a-lifetime event.  However, the threat of a third-party run dividing the electorate is common.  The Democrats stick to the  narrative that Ralph Nader played the role of spoiler. They refuse to address the schism in the party that enabled Nader to make a meaningful run.

The Democrats are about to do it again.  In order to win nationally, the party moves center and marginalizes its most progressive members.  They are Sanders’ supporters, and many of them will be damned if they’ll vote for Hillary Clinton. For them, she epitomizes the Corporate Democrat.  Sanders won’t have to stage a third-party run like Nader.  Bernie’s voters will stay home, and the Democratic Party will lose its left flank and the White House, with no help from him.

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