Sunday, October 27, 2013

Five Reasons Why Americans Need Investigative Journalists

I was in college when Watergate erupted. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were national heroes. I don't know about other Baby Boomers, but I read the book "All The President's Men" and saw the movie version on multiple  occasions, and I was proud I lived in a country where freedom of the press was not only guaranteed, but also lionized. We have had a long string of journalists who have fought the hard fight to bring truth to the American people. Walter Cronkite, a Mizzou alum, lead American opinion away from the Vietnam War. Edward R. Murrough exposed Joseph McCarthy and his war on perceived "communists".  Those were the days.

Such is not our situation today.  The news media is driven by the almighty dollar and print media is becoming extinct. CNN is a shell of the dynamic news station that my father watched religiously. MSNBC and Fox News are a joke, with pundits, not reporters, pandering to the crazies. The Kansas City Star is a shell of its former self and has fared poorly under McClatchey. No more are there reporters beating down the doors to expose corruption and malice.  And local broadcast news is little more than hours upon hours of weather and sports reports, intermingled with car chases and monitoring of Twitter posts.   Sad and scary.

Who is there to uncover graft and corruption, corporate greed or misfeasance.  I am afraid almost no one remains to expose the liars, cheats and crooks in politics, government and big business.  Every once in awhile, a "greedy" plaintiffs' lawyer successfully exposes corruption, but not often. The press is called the "Fourth Estate" for a reason. Freedom of the press is integral in exposing corporate and government wrongdoing. But where is the press now, with huge newspaper lay-offs and the broadcast dribble that passes for "news,". Of course, government sponsored NPR and public television seem less dependent on wealthy corporations' largesse. I was pleasingly surprised to see the apparently unbiased reporting of Al Jazeera America, backed by Qatar.  But who is there to protect citizens?  Not nearly as many folks as there used to be.

Here are five reasons that Americans must have unfettered reporting:

1.  Unscrupulous politicians, who still exist, can have a hey day if no one is watching or reporting on malfeasance or even bad judgment.

2.  Corporations will be able to run rampant in their pursuit of unfettered greed. Remember tobacco officials testifying, under oath, that nicotine is not addictive.

3.  Massive numbers of the electorate may believe the candidate with the slickest commercials.   (Don't get me started on Citizens United).  Who will seek the truth?

4.  With no media checking on elections, the rich and powerful will call the shots, because of their greater ability to contribute enormous amounts to political campaigns without consequence or even publication.

5.  What is left of the press will, by necessity, be forced to pursue money to stay afloat rather than stories to inform the citizenry.   .

I don't think this is what the forefathers had in mind while they passed the first amendment. This is a frightening state of affairs.  Thank good news for Tony Botello and Without bloggers free from big money pressure, we would have even less information than we have today.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Rethinking Football, While You Can Still Think

This is not going to be a popular post, even in my own family while the Chiefs and  Mizzou Tigers are today undefeated.  Oh well.

My husband and I watched "League of Denial" on Frontline.  League of Denial. The documentary explored the overwhelming proof of brain damage in the brains of deceased NFL players.  One young college football player, who committed suicide at age 21, has extensive brain damage (CTE - chronic traumatic encephalopathy) even though he had no documented incidence of concussion. The program explored Junior Seau's suicide, along with dementia, addiction, violence and suicide in many other football players.  The NFL appears to be engaged in a cover-up, disavowing responsibility while ponying up $765,000,000 in a class action settlement by former players and their families.

My husband argues, the players know what they are getting into. They know they might be injured.  While I agree that many players may realize they are subject to traumatic arthritis and joint point as they age,do you really think they knowingly go into a job realizing that there is a probability they will experience brain damage which may cause personality changes, dementia and suicide. Plus, football players don't start playing as adults. They start playing football long before college. Sure, the boys playing football have the permission of their parents. But, do these parents really comprehend the real danger of brain damage to their children.

Sure, football is exciting and we have a sense of camaraderie in rooting for the old college or city team. It's great fun to tailgate. Why, in Kansas City passing Arrowhead Stadium hours before the game provides great olfactory pleasure, with the aroma of barbecue filling the air.  But, what are we really celebrating. Do we realize what significant brain damage risks there are to pro and amateur players alike.

Some people make a lot of money from football.  The NCAA, NFL, team owners and colleges can reap abundant riches, but at what cost?   Parents need to wake up. Football is not a safe sport for children. But, as long as there is such profit from the sport, it is not going away.  I know this viewpoint is not popular, not even in my immediate family. Watching gladiators die in the ring used to be popular, too.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I Hope I Can Be The Trial Lawyer Who . . .

I hope I can be the trial lawyer who:

1.  Cares deeply about my client,

2.  Fights for a  for a just and worthy cause,

3.  Treating the parties, witnesses, jurors and judge case with respect,

4,   Behaving honestly and fairly, with passion and sincerity,

5.  Without resorting to subterfuge, gamesmanship or other chicanery. 

That is the kind of lawyer I hope to be. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

There Is No "I" in T-E-A-M, But There Are 2 "I"'s in M-i-S-F-I-T

What is a team, a group of individuals with a common goal.  The team moves as a whole.

Team members are popular, usually attractive and and oftentimes smart.  What teams may not be are free-thinkers, misfits, and loners. I like representing the latter, those souls who may who be misfits, who I oftentimes feel are my compatriots.  Let's talk about some differences between team-players and misfits.


1.  You are part of a group, do not make waves.

2.  To be respected, work hard and don't care about recognition.

3.  If the the group likes it, it is good.

4.    Sometimes if the group doesn't like someone, they may be ostracized

5.   Team-players follow the rules, usually without question.



1.  Misfits do not fit in, at least in their own minds.  They may be too poor, too ugly, think differently, etc.

2.   Misfits don't follow the rules. Sometimes this makes them more creative.

3.   Many misfits have very good self-esteem and don't worry about making others like them.

4.  Misfits stand up for themselves and other misfits.

5.  Misfits report unethical or immoral conduct that the team players may condone.

6.   Misfits are scrappy and fighters, oftentimes.

Civil Rights are revered when the team-players respect the misfits.

Read DAVID and GOLIATH, by Malcolm Gladwell. It's great.

I am proud to challenge the status quo because I am a misfit who represents other misfits.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's Not A Dog Eat Dog World.

I have never known of a dog eating another dog. It may happen, but I suspect it is rare. I have never seen a rat race. Perhaps rats race, but none that I have ever seen have done so before.

Our problems are human related. Perhaps dogs think, it's a people eat people world. Figuratively, people do eat people. In the "The Power of Nice," a great book, the authors suggest sending business associates cookies.  Cookies are appropriate for lawyers, difficult or otherwise.

Sometimes I need to re-establish my humanity. Perhaps it's time to send cookies.

How To Have A Better Day . . .

1.  Don't take anything personally,

2.  Live in the moment,

3.  Count your blessings,

4.  Don't take anything personally,

5.  Don't take anything personally,   

Etc...   (Sigh.  . . .)!