Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ebola and Moses's Rod

This Ebola thing is a very serious matter.  As far as the practice of quarantining goes, I am most concerned over just what constitutes the proper balance between individual civil rights and liberties on one hand, and protecting the public on the other hand.  I will disclose that when my son was away at summer camp some years ago, there was an infectious disease incident that necessitated the quarantine of my son and his bunkmates for the better part of a week, and necessitating the scrubbing of Visiting Day (and disrupting the campers' families' plans big time).  But there was regular medical monitoring, and, after all indications showed negative, the quarantine was lifted.  Inconvenient as it was, proper balance was, in my opinion, achieved.

Though I am not without empathy for Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was placed in quarantine after returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, neither am I ready to hail her as a heroine. 

Kaci has lawyered up and got the worst of the quarantine restrictions lifted.  One of her lawyers is Norman Siegel, a hard-core ACLUnatic who attracts cases and clients from the leftward portion of the political spectrum. 

Kaci is now acting up and making a big kabuki production over her intentions to violate the quarantine imposed upon her.

But the Kaci Hickox Show is a natural and expectable outcome of the Obama administration's undiluted handling of the Ebola epidemic as a political issue and not as a public health issue.  Obama is playing politics.  Politics are trumping the scientific and public health concerns.  The various state governors are playing politics.  The CDC is playing politics.  Why wouldn't Kaci also play her political cards?

But the dynamic of Moses's Rod is now at work.  The Obama Administration has fashioned a rod with which to beat the public.  The rod is turning into a serpent, and may well bite the Administration apparatchiks in the toochas.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Got Adjourned.

It's a beautiful day here on Long Island.  Too beautiful to spend the day in court.

But I had a case on the court calendar.   Past tense is used because it turns out that it got adjourned for a week.  And I didn't know about it because the website for the New York courts was down for maintenance until mid-morning today.  And, it turns out, neither did my adversary.

But my drive to the court was not a total loss because I had other things to do in the vicinity, and the weather was and is beautiful.  And, best of all, the Judge's clerk confirmed that because neither I nor my adversary requested oral argument, there would be no oral argument and Hizzoner will decide the case on the papers alone.  So the adjourned date presents no conflict in my schedule.

[A number of years ago I had made the mistake of presuming that there would be no oral argument in a case in Brooklyn.  I did not go, and I defaulted for my client.  Fortunately, a co-defendant's attorney was there, the adversary was denied summary judgment in most respects, and the case settled among all parties a week later.  Turns out that the judge in question had, shall we say, ethical issues of a magnitude to warrant his removal from the bench, so he conveniently retired and pulled his pension (but not for long -- he had the pension terminated by The Judge on an Even Higher Bench not long thereafter.).  Unlike the late judge in Brooklyn, the judge I have on the current case doesn't like to play games, and doesn't like to call attorneys into court for unnecessary waits if such can be avoided.].

As for the current case, it is a civil matter, but the judge's courtroom and chambers are on the same floor as the criminal parts, so all kinds of low-rent riff-raff crowds the hallways awaiting trial.  It doesn't particularly cause me any fear (though my client was concerned for his personal safety when we went in for a conference a few months ago) because the defendants in the hallways are out on bail or on their own recognizance, and, crude as they may be, they usually know not to pull any shtick to warrant revocation of bail pending their trials.  The ones who are really dangerous are usually brought into court under Sheriff's escort, so they aren't problematic either as far as personal safety goes.

And because I have an official Attorney Secure Pass, I don't have to stand in line with them for the metal detectors.  My clients are usually not so lucky.

In any event, I am now back home, doing paperwork, and ready to take a break to do a little yardwork.

It's a beautiful day here on Long Island.  Too beautiful to spend the day in court.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Ebola in the Big Apple

Well, New York City has its first acknowledged Ebola case, and this evening, Mayor Bill the Sandinista de Blasio, Governor Andy Cuomo, and other health officials held a press conference at Bellevue Hospital, the designated isolation ward for Ebola patients.

I listened to it on the radio while driving home from school this evening.  Understand that the press conference was not my primary motivation for listening to that particular FM station; my reason for listening is that the station gives traffic reports every 10 minutes (I do not yet have a GPS in the car).

By the time I drove the car into my driveway, I was so sick from hearing that bullshit from the obviously politically-motivated press conference (never mind the Ebola virus) that I turned off the ignition and didn't bother to finish listening to that pap.  I fixed my dinner, read my e-mail, wrote up this posting, and will retire to bed as soon as it is posted.

Being married to a physician for 20+ years, I know better than to play doctor, so I will not now proffer any opinions regarding the medical aspects of this latest development.  I do, however, have common sense and logic, and am no less qualified than the next guy or gal to analyze the logical issues from the press conference.

Specifically, the speakers at that conference, medically-trained and otherwise, took great pains to emphasize that Ebola only spreads through exposure to body fluids and is not an airborne transmission thing; and you can't catch Ebola just by being in the same subway care as the Ebola patient.

Why, then, did they also note that the patient (himself a medical doctor who had recently returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa) was transported by specially-trained paramedics who have the appropriate equipment and protective clothing?

If the purpose of that press conference was to reassure me, it failed miserably.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Resolving the Washington Synagogue Scandals

[As mentioned by other blogers on other blogs, I am coming off a series of Jewish holidays.  I have been too preoccupied with other matters to do any posting, and blogging inactivity may well follow this current posting.  Wishing everyone a belated happy and healthy.]

Two major synagogues in Washington DC, each of which, in its own way, is more than a mere name to me.  Each of these synagogues has, within the past few weeks, been the subject of a scandal involving its respective alpha rabbi (though the word "scandal" may be a bit overly strong in the case of the first one discussed below).

The first controversy involved the Adas Israel Congregation.  Given my personal religious biases, I generally do not frequent this particular institution, though I make no efforts to discourage anyone who is so inclined from doing so.  Those congregations that go along with what is called "Conservative" Judaism have, over the years, allowed themselves to become instrumentalities of the leftist political agenda.  Forty years ago I did continue have a tenuous bond with a few specific Conservative congregations, but can no longer do so.  Seventy- and eighty-something years ago, when my mother-in-law was growing up in Washington, Adas Israel was the synagogue her family attended (back when it was at 3rd & G Streets).  My wife has a few cousins in the Washington area who still have connections of one sort or another with Adas Israel.  A number of years ago my wife and I attended a family wedding there.  Other than my personal religious inclinations and proclivities, I hold no ill will towards the congregation and trust that it will emerge honorably and intact from this current controversy.

It seems that Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, the Congregation's main spiritual leader, has revealed to his flock that his marriage is being terminated on account of his homosexual tendencies.

As much as I abhor such abominations, they are, without more, personal relationships into which I have no interest or business in insinuating myself.  In Gil Steinlauf's case, he did give the heterosexual thing an honest try, and it simply didn't work for him.  He is being honest, and, bedroom abominations notwithstanding, he has thus far handled the public aspects of his situation in an honorable manner.  To that extent, I wish him the best of luck.  My only concern is that he may, whether voluntarily or otherwise, allow himself to become a tool in the leftist deconstructionist political agenda that uses homosexuality as a pretext for its agenda of oppression.  This concern is not insignificant.

The second controversy implicates Kesher Israel, the Georgetown Synagogue.  My personal religious orientation is very highly compatible with this particular congregation.  Whenever I visit Washington on business I generally make at least one visit to Kesher Israel for prayer and/or study.

The Rabbi at Kesher Israel, Barry Freundel, has been charged with voyeurism.  He stands accused of placing a video camera in the mikvah at the synagogue, thereby intruding into the personal bodily privacy of the female users.  Aside from the criminal implications, this is a very serious matter because even the yet-unproven accusation can easily discourage women from taking the effort to practice observant Judaism.  To its credit, the Board of Kesher Israel has suspended Rabbi Freundel without pay, pending the outcome of the criminal matter.  Rabbi Freundel is, of course, innocent until proven guilty.

With tongue only partially in cheek, I propose the following resolution to the Washington Synagogue Scandals:  Have Rabbi Steinlauf and Rabbi Freundel switch positions.  The women who use the Kesher Israel mikveh would then be confidently assured that their new congregational rabbi, Gil Steinlauf, is definitely not interested in viewing surreptitious videos of their naked bodies.  And, if the charges against Barry Freundel stick, then Rabbi Steinlauf's wife Batya would finally be sleeping with a man whose hot interest in her female body will have been established beyond reasonable doubt.

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Friday, October 03, 2014

Yom Kippur 5775

The sun will soon set, and the Fast of Yom Kippur will be upon us.  This, of course, is the most solemn and holy day of the year on the Hebrew calendar.

During the late 1930's, my wife's grandfather tried, without success, to persuade his parents to leave Europe.  He lost contact with them, and their fate remains unknown, though, given the despoilments done in the vicinity of their residence, and some accounts of some survivors of their town, there can be little doubt that they were victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

So upon what day should my wife's grandfather commemorate their passing by reciting Kaddish?  He chose Yom Kippur.

There are more than one Jewish battle veterans who survived gunshot wounds to the stomach because they were fasting on Yom Kippur and their stomachs were empty.

I ask forgiveness from all I may have wronged, and grant forgiveness to all who ask me in earnest.

Have an easy fast!