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Archive for December, 2010

Michael Vick’s Other Crime is Being Black

Friday, December 31st, 2010

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of people talking about Michael Vick not deserving of a second chance. Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson recently said Vick should have been executed for his dog fighting enterprise. Come on people, get a grip.  It’s almost un-American to say someone doesn’t deserve a second chance. Many people get a third, fourth and fifth chance after doing wrong. We give many white collar criminals, politicians, bankers, Wall street moguls and executives more chances than Vick received.  In fact, some white collar criminals who knowingly and willingly broke our economy for their own personal greed, didn’t need a second chance.  They never received indictments, trial or jail time.

The criminal system already made an example of Michael Vick. He received 21 months of jail plus 2 months home detention for his involvement in the criminal dog fighting enterprise. He had no prior criminal record. While I do not condone his acts against “man’s best friend”, that’s my point.  His acts were neither the killing or harming of a man, woman, boy or girl.  As a trial lawyer and former prosecutor,  I know that some persons who killed someone while driving while drunk don’t receive as harsh of a sentence as the one received by Michael Vick.  Just ask Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. And I’ve never heard of anyone saying that drunk drivers don’t deserve a second chance after release.  Domestic violence offenders rarely receive  21 months in jail for the physical, mental and emotional  abuses committed against their spouses and partners, which can last a lifetime. And I don’t recall the same outcries or calls for execution against the assaulters of domestic violence victims who have been beaten and brutalized.

What is fueling these insults against Michael Vick is the fact that he’s had a second chance and so far, has done well with it.  We should be using Vick as an example to help troubled youth and young offenders to turn their lives around if given a second chance. Michael Vick is a young, black man who is proving to society that he not only deserves a second chance but is doing quite well with it.

I wonder if Brett Favre committed the same acts, would Tucker Carlson be asking for his execution. I doubt it. For some, Vick’s second crime is being a Black man and making good on his second chance.

Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer and former prosecutor.  She holds a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School and  a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post.

Happy Holidays to Everyone

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

I am away on a brief respite from law and politics, although no one is ever entirely away from law and politics. The law and politics is intertwined in every aspect of our lives, whether we realize it.  But, I want to take the time away to wish everyone a wonderful holiday, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year.  Be safe,  joyous and blessed in the time with your family, loved ones and friends this year and the upcoming New Year.  Looking forward to 2011  and all that awaits us in the coming year in law and politics.

Debbie Hines, Esq. is a legal and political commentator who holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School. She also writes for the Huffington Post.

Senator Bernie Sanders Takes The Senate Under Siege

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Recently, Senator Bernie Sanders (I.VT) spoke for 8 hours on the floor of the Senate explaining the proposed tax plan by the Obama administration. He does not support those provisions to help make the rich get richer.  Earlier in the month,  Senator Sanders addressed the Senate about the 3 wars that are now facing America. They are the Afghanistan war, the Iraq war and the war of the rich against the shrinking middle class being fought here in America. Just like the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, this new war has the same casualties and costs of all wars.  The wars of Afghanistan and Iraq and the new war being waged by the rich for its tax credits cost us trillions of dollars. Coupled with the bail outs for the banks and Wall Street, these trillions have added up causing an economic recession of staggering proportions.  Senator Sanders makes the following key points with staggering, supporting statistics before the Senate:

  1. The middle class is now working longer hours for lower wages.
  2. The Wall Street executives, whom we bailed out after their reckless actions caused the American recession,  are now earning more than before the bail out.
  3. The middle class is collapsing while the rich are becoming richer.
  4.  The large corporations and CEO’s are taking their business to China in order to expand it there.
  5. The estate tax benefits will go to the top 3/10 of 1% of all Americans.
  6. Millionaires, billionaires and corporations who funded the campaigns are now asking for what they feel is due them.
  7. There is a move among conservatives to eliminate all social legislation to help the middle class and less forutnate.

Listen to the video and hear for yourself where we are heading in this country. After listening to the video, ask yourself if the 2% American rich should receive a tax credit for 2 years; if those top 3/10 of 1% of Americans inheriting millions should receive even greater preferential tax free status, while 99 % or the rest of us, the least of those among us and the shrinking middle class struggle to make it.  Ask yourself when will the insanity end in Washington, DC.   Click on to hear:     Senator Bernie Sanders Amazing Speech

Debbie Hines. Esq. is a political/legal commentator. She holds a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post.

President Obama’s Tax Plan Under Siege by Democrats?

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Majority Whip James Clyburn (D. SC)

When President Obama announced a compromise deal had been reached on the tax plan with Republicans, he said it was like a hostage taking situation with the Republicans taking the American people as the hostages.  Obama said he did not want to risk hurting the American people.  Ironically, parts of his tax agreement, if approved, would hurt the American people. He added it was a “not perfect” plan.  That statement is an understatement.  And if the Republicans held the unemployed and middle class Americans as hostages, then President Obama may now be under siege by his own party, particularly by Congress. 

At a meeting on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, December 8,   Rep. James Clyburn (D.SC) expressed grave concerns about the tax agreement reached by the White House.  As the third highest ranking Democratic member of Congress, Rep. Clyburn openly expressed his displeasure with key parts of the deal, before a small group of prominent African American bloggers and journalists. The most distasteful part of the proposal is the estate tax provision.  Americans need to know that President Obama’s proposed deal goes even farther than the former Bush inheritance tax laws.  Under the Bush inheritance tax, the first $3.5 million inherited by a single taxpayer and $5 million inherited by a married couple was exempt from any taxes, with any remaining amount taxed at 45%. Under the Obama deal, the first $5 million inherited by a single taxpayer and now $10 million by a couple would be tax exempt and any amount over that would be only taxed at 35%.  That change in the estate tax law, if approved and enacted into law, would add upwards of $60-70 billion by some estimates and up to $100 billion by others.  It affects only 3500 families in the entire country, according to Rep. Clyburn.  It’s ironic that President Obama, in stating he does not want to have the American people taken hostage and hurt, would rather risk draining our economy even further by helping the rich. Doesn’t the drain on the economy and deficit further hurt the American people?

The other component of the tax deal that is troubling to some Democratic lawmakers is the extension of the unemployment benefits to one year versus the extension of the Bush era tax cuts for everyone, including the 2% wealthy for 2 years.   Rep. Clyburn spoke about supporting a 1 year extension for both. The least of those among us need the most help. So why wouldn’t we extend the tax credits for the same period as the unemployment extension? Compromise is necessary in politics.  Compromise that is mutually beneficial to all is what is needed.  It’s troubling that we will further drain the economy to help the rich with tax cuts, yet the Republicans will cry socialism if we do anything to help the least among us.

It remains to be seen if the proposed deal, in its entire form, will pass Congress and Senate.  The notion of a filibuster has already been mentioned. It’s definitely a bitter pill to swallow for many Democratic lawmakers.  Many Democratic lawmakers may now hold the President’s plan hostage unless key provisions are changed.

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines, Esq. is a legal and political commentator. She also contributes to the Huffington Post.  She holds a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.