Friday, 30 March 2012

Today Show versus Good Morning America?

You can imagine Matt Lauer waking up this week....with the April sweeps coming up and lots of fantastic guests fixed up for NBC's Today Show....feeling good.  Then someone sends him a text....there's this story of Katie Couric....coming over for a week or two in Good Morning America (ABC)....during the sweeps.

You can imagine Matt....kicking the door, then throwing a coffee cup against the wall, and finally yelling out the backdoor.

Katie's intention....just plain fill the shoes for a week or two....nothing more.  But it's a desire of ABC....to make the sweeps fall their way.  It means a huge number for commercial advertising.  To be honest, Katie is lined up and fixed for her talk-show.  To also be honest....no one much anticipates the afternoon talk-show to make any big numbers.

The guys who run the cameras for NBC....have to be grinning.  It's a pretty big stumble for the Today Show now.....if they can't beat Katie Couric.  Matt is looking over the visitor list again and gambling on calling in personal favors.  Can he get Madonna, or is it too late because Katie has already called?  Could he get the President?  Or did Katie already call the President?   You just don't know.

So what's left?  Well....Bryant Gumble.  Matt could call up Bryant and just whisper in his ear.....come over for five days....soak up as much rich coffee and free donuts as you want.  Dress up in the $800 suits and make women beg to watch the Today Show.  Maybe it's a weird idea....but if you want to beat Katie Couric....you gotta fight fire with fire.  Bryant could make women weep....just reading some Shakespeare words and asking stupid questions about the NCAA football possibilities in the fall.

Food Stamp Story

This is the deal.  You have Food Stamp card....you drive over to a place called Rose Supper Club....in north Montgomery, Bama....on the 6th of April.  As you come up and enter, the Food Stamp card gets discounted cover charge....which no one is talking much about the discount involved....and you get some free shots of something (no one talks about what beverage this might be or how diluted it might be).

Naturally, this has disturbed a number of folks throughout the civilized world. It's terrible that you entice these folks with Food Stamps.....to come over and drink booze.  Well....not really.

I looked over the offering, and frankly.....I can't say it really amounts to much.  You get a bunch of guys and gals to all show up.....drink cheap booze.....probably not getting drunk because it's all watered-down, and some folks go home with other folks at the end of the evening.  We can go ahead and admit that a fair number of Food Stamp folks.....are single....and probably need a night out as much as the next individual.

The comical side of this....is that this is a fairly decent place for the folks who hang out there.  The county is happy because some business is making money and paying tax revenue.  And as long as no one uses their Food Stamps at the bar.....there's not much wrong with this deal.

My Neighborhood

Today is a big day in DC....across the river from me.  The first medical mary-j-u-wanna shop opens in DC....called WeGrow (kinda like Wal-Mart, but in a different sense).  There's no free samples, and I'm guessing that folks are shocked as they step inside and learn you really need a doctor's prescription....to get your joint.  Naturally, nothing will be sold on the first day.....but folks will rush to the phone and call up the doc to ask for an appointment.

There are several rules to this DC deal.  First, all of the mary-j-u-wanna must be grown in the District....no importation.  Second, you are supposed to actually live in DC.....in order to get your stuff.  Third, you can't just open the packet there on the street and start smoking it.  You are supposed to take the sealed packet, and travel to your house/apartment.....where you can now rip it open and do your thing.  Third, there are only six cultivation centers authorized to grow the stuff....which strangely enough....almost all are on the east side of DC.

I sat and pondered over this episode and will make these predictions.

This rule about having to be a DC resident to buy the stuff?  I suspect that it might be a draw to convince some out-of-District folks to move to DC and set up a residence.  I might also suspect that some folks will claim they live in DC....getting set up with some cousin or old lady....but in reality....still live in Maryland or Virginia.

I suspect that some doctors will set up a simple $25 fee to hand out a prescription for a month's worth of mary-j-u-wanna.  Cash in hand.....the doctor from Cuba or Mexico or Honduras.....will make a ton of money, and quickly leave the US before the Feds discover their game.

Finally, I suspect that drug dealers on the street will begin to realize they can't make any money off mary-j-u-wanna sales in DC.....swapping over to heavier drugs or moving their operation across to Virginia or Maryland instead.  Maybe eighty percent of the users in DC will be clean users within three years.....buying only from the shops.

A Moment on Jury Reality

For folks who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s....if you sit and try to remember your civics teacher explaining case trials, grand juries, and plain-old jury trials....you will come to this realization that none of these topics were ever mentioned.  In fact, if you attended most college government classes, the odds are against you that these topics were ever mentioned.  So allow me a second to sit and pause over the Florida shooting episode, jury cases, and grand juries.

First, if you ever go and get into simple trouble....like tossing a bucket of paint on your neighbor's car, or stealing your ex-wife's car, or assaulting some bus driver....you simply get arrested, and your case is assigned to some prosecutor.  The case goes in front of some judge, who will listen to your defense, and eventually decide on his own if you are guilty or not....then dishes out the jail time or fine.

Second, if you ever go and do some pretty severe stuff....like killing someone, then the prosecutor goes out and has to gather the witnesses, and drag you to a grand jury.  There, the prosecutor has to present his case in a secret group meeting, and the grand jury (made up of regular folks), will agree to the charges.....and it goes to a judge to run a trial and a jury to pronounce innocence or guilt.  Each state has the little rules after the guilt....whether the jury makes the decision or the jury makes the decision.

Now, there's some things that you might want to realize here.  Back in the 1960s....any idiot prosecutor could appear in front of a Grand Jury, with a pretty lame case, and just talk his way through the Grand Jury, and get the charges fixed up.

Grand Juries in the 1960s and 1970s were made up of some interesting folks.  You had a couple of housewives who watched the Today Show and were entertained by afternoon soap operas.  You had a guy or two who worked at the local gas station....pumping gas.  You had a first-grade teacher.  You might have had an Army or Navy vet in the group.  Toss in a old retired guy or two from WWII.  And you had some clerk from the local bank.  This was a simple group to convince of severe charges.

Well....in the last decade.....things have changed a bit.

So now, the prosecutor has an Army vet with at least a two-year degree and fairly curious about things....enough to ask questions.  Two or three business folks will likely be in the group.....who tend to ask questions.  The housewives group?  Well.....they don't watch the Today Show anymore....they watch Fox News, and they ask questions.  Then you've got those pesky engineer guys who show up.....who form process groups at work and can play link-the-dots on a white board.

Suddenly, the prosecutor has people asking pretty demanding questions.  What was simple thirty years ago....is no longer simple.  Cops collected DNA but it doesn't match up?  Circumstantial evidence for everything you've got?  Cops dropped the ball on several bits of evidence?  The Grand Jury can stop you in a heartbeat, and just say "no" to the charges.

Which brings us to the Florida shooting episode between the Latino guy and the black kid.  Normally, a prosecutor would appear in front of Grand Jury within a week or so after the episode.  Cops would have enough evidence to get you fixed up.  Nothing has happened yet.  I'm suspecting that the evidence collected....really isn't that good, and the present Grand Jury probably has stopped some cases from progressing.  Course, Grand Juries only stay around for a certain amount of time, and then a new Grand Jury steps in.  Maybe a second Grand Jury would view the limited evidence better.

The statement involvement?  Well....they still have to entertain the Grand Jury, and I have doubts that they feel great about getting charges approved at the present time.

All in all....things have gotten tougher, not easier....for prosecution teams.

This all is foreign knowledge to the majority of folks upset by the mess in Florida.  None of them were ever told how jury system works and how American history has changed our whole perception of charges.  Getting into a jury trial today....is probably twice as hard as it was thirty years ago.  Toss in the science of jury selection, and you've got a pretty decent chance of beating a case by having a hung jury.