Getting away with murder
Expanded from the 10-7-2007 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

"The law doesn't care about what's right or wrong, just what's legal or illegal."

So spoke actor Bo Hopkins in an ancient episode of the The Rockford Files.*

I was reminded of Hopkins' former character, a crestfallen ex-lawyer, in listening to the litany of Latino-lashers last week.

No matter the injustice of the latest cosmetic La Migra raids against fast food joints in Nevada or businesses in southern California, the media always find some self-righteous right-wingers willing to say the law is the law and if we don't respect the law, what kind of nation are we?

For starters, ask the law-flouting conservative president you voted for twice.

YAHOO WITH SHARP INSTRUMENT ALERT. KRNV TV-4, northern Nevada's NBC affiliate, traded much its credibility last week by helping some bearded yahoo commit a crime for the cameras. A business on Wells Ave. dared to display a Mexican flag above an American flag, which is not a crime anywhere.

Said redneck cut the rope, allowing both flags to hit the pavement – which, according to my Boy Scout manual, the American flag should never be allowed to do. He then crumpled up and stole the American flag, pulling out a buck knife and challenging anyone to fight him for it.

On camera, of course.

He is now talking about launching a website and getting an agent. His 15 minutes of fame are almost over.

Such stories cause chuckles in cigar-choked cherrywood club rooms running across ruling class America. Our untitled royalty revel in their ongoing success at keeping the lower classes fighting each other and ignoring the true cause of their problems: those at the top who control and exploit government for private profit whether on the sands of Araby or factory floors of General Motors.

If that's the law, then Charles Dickens got it right in Oliver Twist – "If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble,… "the law is a ass — a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience."

Ironically and appropriately, Mr. Bumble was the owner of an orphanage where he and his cruel wife exploited children.

Using the law to screw workers is nothing new. Farmers all over the nation, including Nevada, have for decades hired undocumented workers, housed them under inhuman conditions, then called the feds to have most of them deported before they are paid – after the crops have been harvested, of course.

Nevada gambling joints got a law passed defining casino markers as hot checks, thus forcing Nevada district attorneys to become their national collection agencies at taxpayer expense.

The yahoo who threw his beloved American flag to the ground is the perfect poster child for the misdirected anger of Americans who haven't had a raise since 1973, see their middle class lifestyle slipping away under a mountain of debt, and can't figure out why they work so much more for less.

Now, some flag-waving yahoo Nevada lawmaker will undoubtedly introduce a bill addressing this pseudo-problem which will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands before a court throws its out. Speaking of courts...

Last week, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas proved to womens' right activists all over the world that you never really lose your stalker. Clarence put out a book and gave copulative quantities of interviews trashing his unrequited love interest, Anita Hill.

Oddly enough, the strange justice has now affected the Nevada presidential primary. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., will have to answer for prematurely ending the 1991 confirmation hearings without listening to panelists ready to confirm Hill's testimony that Clarence is a male chauvinist pig.

I had the chance to ask Sen. Biden just that a few months ago and apologize for not doing so. I used my one opportunity to address national health insurance instead. Perhaps I will get another chance. If not, I hope someone else will.

It's now time to re-read my 1991 column analyzing Clarence's mindset and judicial temperament. Expanding on the writings of presidential historian James David Barber and former Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Al Gunderson, my analysis was reprinted by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Legal Journals.

Alas, I seem to have gotten Clarence right.

BIG MACK ATTACK. Las Vegas District Judge Douglas Herndon last week moved the Darren Mack murder trial to Gomorrah South. His lawyers should have pushed for Hawthorne, not Las Vegas.

A couple of decades back, I flew back to Reno from LV sitting next to a top gun criminal defense attorney. He advised that if I ever wanted to commit murder, or had a friend who did, try to get the trial moved to Hawthorne.

Well, said I, the beleaguered little town could certainly use the economic boost, but I failed to see any other reason.

"Hawthorne is more cosmopolitan," he said.

"It's diverse and thus more open-minded. You've got current and former military personnel who have lived all over the world, Native Americans and longtime ranchers. Selecting from that wide-ranging jury pool allows a defense lawyer a better shot at acquittal. People in Las Vegas or Reno operate on the assumption that if a murder case has gotten as far as a jury trial, the accused must be guilty and tend to fry anyone accused of doing it in their town. Hawthorne is the same way in that respect, but if it didn’t happen there, the client has a better chance to walk."

The makeup of Hawthorne has not changed since those comments.

Looks like the Mack defense made a mistake in not thinking small.

IT AIN'T NEWS 'LESS'N WE SAY IT IS. The Reno Gazette-Journal has yet to report the nurses union win at Renown/Washoe Med. (491 yes vs. 213 no.)

It will be interesting to see how the fight at St. Mary's shakes out. The Service Employees International Union, which represents the 900 Renown/Washoe caregivers, dropped out of the AFL-CIO, the main purpose of which is to arbitrate jurisdictional disputes between unions. The California Nurses Association is now actively organizing nurses at St. Mary's, as is SEIU.

Be well. Raise hell.

*The Rockford Files line was probably written by Steven J. Cannell, Juanita Bartlett and/or David Chase.

The Dean's List

   The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.

RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006


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Copyright © 1982-2007, 2009 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 39-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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