It's Friday. Let's Get Out Of Here.

Random Friday Morning Thoughts

  • I have never, ever considered a hamburger a sandwich, yet yesterday my favorite radio station crucified someone for saying that exact thing.  Afterwards, Google was not my friend. I'm disturbed by this revelation.
  • This story is getting a lot of attention. Woman dies. Husband, who has been dead ten years, found in freezer. Wife may have cashed VA checks. But everyone is going nuts over this: "In another strange twist, officers found a letter signed by [the dead husband] and notarized on December 2, 2008, stating that Jeanne was not the one responsible for his death. Police say the notary said she did not read the letter before notarizing it." That's the way it is supposed to be. A notary's purpose is to provide later proof that the signature of John Q. Public was indeed signed by John Q. Public, and she knows it was John Q. Public because she saw his ID or knew him personally.
  • Every day that exists where Trump stands impeached but not yet acquitted in the Senate is a day that drives him insane. 
  • Christianity Today came out with an article stating how ridiculous it was for Christians to support Trump, and that he should be removed from office. Predictably, Trump was not happy and responded this morning. There's a lot going on here. The magazine is far left? It supports someone who wants to take your guns? What's guns got to do with this? And he won't be reading "ET" any longer? Did he mean "CT"?  And if he did mean Christianity Today, does he think we believe he was actually reading it? 
  • I didn't watch the Democrat debate, but I see that there was a battle over "wine caves." I had seen the photograph of Buttigieg having a big time fundraiser in a fancy room, but I had no idea that's what the high-tone room was called. I was just couldn't get past the guy wearing shorts.

  • Sarah Sanders deleted a tweet last night and then apologized after she made fun of Joe Biden during the debate showing sympathy for those who stutter -- an ailment he has suffered from. #BeBest
  • I saw this photo captioned only with "43 Years Ago Today." I didn't remember it and had to look it up. That's from a NFL playoff game in Baltimore as the crowd was filing out. 
  • Christmas in Fort Worth in 1924.  That's not that long ago. Heck, my grandfather was a young man in 1924.
  • A Texas prosecutor is here because of President Obama's DACA program. He will also be deported if the Supreme Court agrees with Trump to kill the program. (I wonder if Mexico will also pay for a wall to keep him out once we kick him out.)
  • Speaking of Obama, what's he been up to? The video reminds you of how it used to be. 
  • There is a crazy case out of Austin right now involving a woman who went missing along with her three month old. Overnight her body was found in a trunk of a car at "a home" outside of Houston, but the baby was found alive inside. Fox 4 had a Twitter post about it early this morning, but I was stopped down by a comment. 

  • I looked at MDG Austin MAGA's account out of curiosity. It's so strange. Most of it is just retweets of right wing propaganda with a ton of retweets of Q Conspiracy theories. It has all the hallmarks of a Russian Bot, but I can't explain how it could specifically respond to a Fox 4 post.  Maybe a keyword generated response, but even that doesn't make sense. "Discernment."
  • Here's another funny one from the "Batman Signs" twitter account. Batman was in a pickle, but at least the Joker had applied for a patent. 
  • It seems like there are a lot of missing women out of Austin. The story on the front page isn't related to the woman found in the trunk overnight. 


Random Thursday Morning Thoughts

  • Like it or not, a U.S. president has been impeached for only the third time in history. 
  • The Impeachment of Trump has a weird twist to it when compared to Clinton. With Clinton, the Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate. Although the Senate didn't have enough votes to convict, the Republicans controlled the "hand off" of the Articles of Impeachment  from the House to the Senate.  That's not happening here. The House gave notice last night that they won't present the Articles to the Senate until there is some indication as to how the trial will be handled.  This is exactly like a DA getting an indictment from the grand jury but not "presenting" it to the District Clerk. Until he does, the indictment doesn't have a cause number and the court doesn't have jurisdiction. It doesn't happen very often, but it can happen. 
  • Nancy Pelosi, quickly admonishing the few Democrats who cheered at the announcement of the vote on Trump's impeachment, reminded us all what if felt like to be a child:
  • Trump blew off steam in Michigan last night. 

  • Oh, I should have known. The government is not tracking your vehicle to bust you for having weed legally purchased in Colorado in your car -- it's all instead for the greater good
  • Very random tangent:
    • I mentioned Kidd Kraddick just the other day (after for some reason thinking about "Butterfly Kisses")  and now the headline below is on the home page of the Dallas Morning News.  This is happening more and more to me -- the random and obscure reference which then pops into my life in some way in the next few days. Seriously, after I wrote the Kraddick bullet point, even I thought it was extremely weird. And now the name is relevant.  (But I think this phenomenon has a name.)
    • Speaking of that phenomenon to the extreme: I had a very weird experience earlier this year when I was cleaning out my office and made the decision to throw away an old 2014 issue of Texas Monthly. I had saved it because it had the story of former Montague County DA Tim Cole's reflections about the prosecution of the killers of an Oklahoma cheerleader.  I walked to the office kitchen and put the magazine in the trash. Less than fifteen minutes later, I met with a DWI client who, out of nowhere, brought up how he grew up "in that area where the Oklahoma cheerleader's body was found" and asked, "You ever hear about that?"   I went and dug the magazine out of the trash to show it to him in order to prove I was just thinking about a murder from 1996.
    • The other weird experience this year was when an investigator up at the courthouse just casually asked me if I had ever heard of a "Ladybird Deed." (Nope. Never. I'm a criminal guy. Not a real estate guy.) The next morning, out of nowhere, my one and only assistant came in and asked me to look at a deed for a friend because of one particular paragraph. "I know you don't do this stuff, but could you look?"  She had never asked me to look at a deed before. I read it, Googled the deed provision's terms, and "Ladybird deed" popped up.  The two (the investigator's question and my assistant's question) were 100% unrelated.
    • And if you want to see Mrs. LL go all slump shouldered on me, just watch me ask her, "Do you think it's possible we are all living in a computer simulation and there's now a glitch in my system?" You know, things I "think" affecting my "reality." 
    • But it kind of freaked her out last September when I had a bullet point that I "had no idea who Hammurabi was" (I had read it in the book Texas) and then, two days later, she was watching Better Call Saul on Netflix. As she watched Season 1, Episode 2, she witnessed Saul defuse a situation by asking a potential killer if he was familiar with the "Code of Hammurabi."
  • Unrelated, but I should have watched the Six Man football game I referenced yesterday. Sounds exciting
  • This has not aged well.
  • A Bowie City Councilman and the Mayor got all hot and bothered at each other in the office, and it's on tape with a grainy murky video.   It's about as entertaining as you would expect. (We even got the ol'  that's-not-a-threat-that's-promise thrown in.)


Random Wednesday Morning Thoughts

  • Today, for only the third time in our nation's history, the President of the United States will be impeached.  (The vote should be in the late afternoon or early evening.)
  • He fired off a Tweet-In-A-Letter yesterday which had more exclamation points than a high school break up letter. It needs to be displayed in the National Archives if for no other reason that to show how absolutely insane this time in history was.

  • For a man who cares about the "Trump brand" more than anything else, he can't be having a good day. 
  • And since I am Fair and Balanced™:
  • I've got questions.

  • And even more questions.
  • The Christmas light on the Wise County courthouse  aren't kept on overnight or fired up for the early morning hours before dawn. (I've got a $6.99 outlet timer for mine.)
  • Former North Texas State coach Hayden Fry has died. That's a name I heard all the time as a kid, but never really knew much about. Yesterday I was surprised to learn that he was born in Eastland and played football at Baylor. But the most confusing part was learning that after graduating from Baylor he joined the Marines and played football again for the "Quantico Marines" who went to the Poinsettia Bowl. Let me tell you something; I had never heard of the Quantico Marines but, I'll forego Space Force to bring that college team back. (It was disbanded in 1973.)
  • The Division I Six Man Championship high school football game starts at 11:00 a.m. in Jerry World. Not only will it be televised, but they'll have the overhead skycam on duty. McLean (13-1) vs. Blum (12-2). I thought I'd look up downtown Blum, population 444, on Google Streetview: 
  • I completely missed that the kidnapping in the Bronx of a 16 year old caught on security cam was a hoax. I mean, I didn't even know about the kidnapping. The whole thing sounds weird. I didn't need any more questions. 
  • Apparently it is early signing day for college football recruiting. All the schools are tweeting its signings this morning with cool graphics and highlight clips. Baylor is using muppets. That is, the player's voice is heard through a muppet. I think I'm OK with this. 
  • Messenger: Above the Fold
  • This front page makes me think of the Butterfly Effect on that lady.


Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts

  • The "Wise County Crime Report" published by the Messenger is a collection of incidents responded to by the Wise County Sheriff's Office. Normally they are funny or goofy but every now and then I'll see something newsworthy. A faithful reader sent me one yesterday which is more than worthy of multiple bullet points. Preface: If you are a, "If you ain't doing nothing wrong, you ain't got nothing to worry about" person, you can move along. 
    • In that blurb, somewhat innocently, we learn the Sheriff's Office uses "The Vigilant System" (not "Vigilante" but "Vigilant" -- although I justifiably keep reading it that way) that not only reads your license plate but also links into some kind of database of other license plate reader entries. 
    • We learned in this one random drug story that the system reading the license plate is capable of informing a deputy that the vehicle had been "in South Carolina within the last two weeks along with a trail back to California." Wow.
    • What's the reason it's a big deal? First, I've read hundreds of WCSO reports over the years (and DPS reports) and not once have they mentioned The Vigilant System. I've suspected it existed, but I've never seen it admitted it print. (I really want to know how the Messenger reporter so easily stumbled on this information.) 
    • I'll admit that a license plate reader in a cop car isn't that big of a deal in itself. The cop can read your license plate with his own eyes. But it's the collection of data that The Vigilant System hooks into that really gets my attention. 
    • For years, I've suspected there are data collecting license plate readers not only in cop cars but also along the side of the road that we might not even be aware of. Heck, some are obvious. I've mentioned a couple of times about the reader over 287 as you are about to merge with southbound I-35 right past Harmon Road in Fort Worth. Even if you don't take the new toll road (by exiting to the left), you go under a license plate reader before you merge onto the normal/free I-35. Why?
    • You know what I think really happened in this case? Before the stop for the "equipment violation", the deputy's car automatically scanned a car's license plate and it told him him it had been from South Carolina to California. That car obviously had had its license plate scanned by other cops and/or license plate readers above/along highways in other states and counties and fed into a database. The deputy then wanted to stop the vehicle because we've got a cross country traveler and cross country travelers might/possibly/who-really-knows-if-they-do have drugs on them. But you can't stop someone for simply traveling cross country so he stopped the vehicle for an "equipment violation." From there he asked for consent to search and, when refused, brought in the magic drug dog. 
    • But this is what is happening all the time in Wise County and here's the bigger picture ever since Colorado has legalized weed: We've got Sheriff's deputies, who used to promptly respond to burglaries and disturbances of rural Wise County citizens, patrolling 287 in cars equipped with The Vigilant System. If the System alerts them that the car is coming from Colorado, they find a pre-text reason to stop the car like an "equipment violation." Others include: Three miles over the speed limit (I've seen it), in Left Lane Not Passing (that's a big one), and Changing Lanes Without Signaling. They then ask questions unrelated to the traffic stop of questionable constitutionality, persuade the driver into giving consent, and, if they don't get it  -- and praying that a judge will say they have a "reasonable suspicion" to justify continuing to detain the driver -- bring in a drug dog of questionable skills which always seems to "hit" even on drugs that don't produce a smell (i.e, Colorado edibles, "vacuum sealed" weed, or pills.)
    • Legally speaking, the most critical aspect of the cop's interaction with the driver in that scenario is the moment he doesn't consent to search. At that point, the cop must write him a ticket/warning and let him go unless there is a reasonable suspicion to continue to detain him for other possible crimes. That's what bugs me about the "secret" existence of the Vigilant System. It's the real reason why the cop stopped the car and wants to search it in the first place. But they can't legally do that on Vigilant data alone. That's why every report I've read doesn't mention it. Instead, I read "independent" reasons like "the driver seemed nervous", "his carotid artery was pulsing" (yep, really), he "wouldn't make eye contact", and "breathing heavily." Throw in a past arrest for weed or a passenger not giving the exact same explanation as to "where you headed" or "where you been?" and they try to create the existence of reasonable suspicion. Sure they might throw in that the driver told them they were coming from Colorado (heaven forbid!) to try and bolster their claim of a "reasonable suspicion" but the cops already knew that from the start.
    • For all of you who like legal stuff, all of this is right out of Rodriguez vs. United States. Read it with the above scenario in mind and ask yourself: What exactly can the cops legally do once they stop you? (And are the questions of "Where you headed to" and "where you been" really related to the purpose of the traffic stop?)
    • Should you care about all this? You should. But I can't make you. And I suspect most of you won't. It's the new human nature not to care about anything unless it impacts you directly. 
    • And you want to know the scary part? I only learn about the cases where drugs are found. You and I aren't going to hear about the guy coming through the county for work or for vacation who was subjected to an hour long search of his personal stuff -- a search that led to the discovery of nothing and the driver is sent on his way. But you'll dang sure see it happen if you drive up and down 287 with any frequency.
    • #RantOver
  • In other normal bullet points:
    • The Richard Jewell movie bombed with only $5 million at the box office.
    • A concurring opinion came out from the Fifth Circuit by a Trump appointee which is a Pro-Life proponent's dream.
    • I don't know why this makes me giggle so much: 
    • A month ago, there was a school bond election in Midland that passed by 11 votes. Now they found another ballot box full of votes.
    • Bad lawyer.
    • Yesterday, “Curtis Flowers walked out of jail at 4 p.m. Monday, 23 years, six trials, and four death sentences after the day he first walked in.”  That's a lot to digest.  If you want to go down a rabbit hole, start researching this case where the same Mississippi DA kept excluding blacks from the jury, getting reversed, and doing it all again. The Supreme Court, just last year, was the most recent court to reverse his conviction.