Bureaucrcy, Law, Media

Lawyers in the Control Booth

It was lawyers in foxholes, especially since Waco, then 911, providing, among other things, that allowed time for enemy killers, usually laying in mines, by requiring spotters to call in shots to judges and arbiters at a safe distance away, a cuppa Joe nearby, much of it third shift work (and you know how Army JAG’s are about working the red eye), with manuals as thick as the Bible listing all the current Rules of Engagement.

Ever seen a lawyer in a foxhole?

You won’t either. Although there are plenty of lawyers who had been in foxholes.

Our rules of engagement were largely Obama’s solution to making war more legal and more fair, more UN-like, but the deconstruction of ordinary common sense and civility among people by lawyers goes further back, at least to Shakespeare.

Before 911, it was lawyers in boardrooms, which helped transform the way American business is structured, and not in a good way, in the 1980s. Apparently that impacted the way business changed their approach to ethics, which I’ll address in my next piece on the Gutter-trash-ification of American politics.

When I was a JAG officer in Japan in the fading years of the Vietnam War, we had our attorneys sit in labor negotiations between Japanese management and unions. The Japanese companies brought no lawyers. Oh, they were there, alright, but they ran out to get coffee for their bosses. Our civilian law team from the States was irate, they’d never talked to a business “owner” before. So the Federal Bar Association filed some sort of complaint through the State Department, that Japanese buinessmen needed to up their lawyer opportunities in the boardroom if they wanted to do more business.

The price of eggs, and Toyotas, went up considerably by the mid-80s

But by then I’d stopped paying attention.

So today, if you like college or pro football you hate those long, drawn out pregnant pauses in a game while a team of “officials” in the instant replay booth look over a fumble, or a catch, or a step out of bounds, while the TV networks go over the same thing the “lawyers” in the booth are looking at, with their own “legal rules consultant”, second guessing what the official ruling will be. These delays actually are more boring in college games than they are in the pro’s, but I think people still see pro-game booth judgments being outcome determinative. Mattering more.

Because of Colin Kaepernick TV fans have become more cynical of the NFL than NCAA but that can change. There have been a bevy of last minute (literally last minute) booth-calls that some are beginning to believe are choreographed, or scripted, and those calls, or miscalls, from the booth have had something to do with it. If this is true, only lawyers would believe this improves the game’s brand-appeal.

You will soon see statistical reports…actually two sets, one from the League, another from private assessment groups…showing statistically the incidence rate based on the time of the game, and importance of the game in league standings. It will get very complex and nerdy. Just like lawyers.

Last week, in the New England Patriots’ loss the Chiefs, they had a touchdown taken away in the final minutes because the refs on the field had ruled the receiver out at the 3-yard line. The film clearly showed the receiver was inbounds, but since the Patriots had already used their allotted challenges, the “officials” in the booth allowed the call on the field to stand…even though they knew it was a “legal” touchdown.

On a larger cultural front, this is the same as saying the “the law”,  as determined by a bunch of lawyers, stands higher than “justice”, or in this case, “the game”.

A couple of years ago, before Kaepernick, this would never have occurred, and is now seemingly being fast-tracked in popular sport.

Lawyers’ fingerprints are everywhere, and before long all the network experts will have a “J.D.” at the end of their name and maybe even a special certification in Television Sports Analytics, which lawyers in the personal injury-ambulance-chasing business will want to complete, drawing from this NFL’s expanded “rules of engagement”, which not only covers whether a runner is down when his elbow hits the ground instead of the knee, but whether a blocker or tackler had a “mean look in his eye”, a grimace or just a certain “je ne sais quoi” when he bought that left forearm down on top of the quarterback’s head.

This can take eye-witness testimony to an intersection car crash to a whole new level of judgments.

When I think of the hundreds, if not thousands of roadside terrorists, who got away while some reg-reader thumbed through his or her rule book to decide whether it was okay to shoot him, it shouldn’t be hard to see where this leads.

If you want to know where this lawyer-thinking goes, first watch Chairmen Schiff or Nadler run their hearings and how they handle objections by the Republican “defense counsels”.

Where it ends up, and in nature, always ends up, is, as we observed in the trial(s) for murder of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was acquitted when it was determined that another Navy guy had (legally) killed the terrorist. But not before the Navy prosecution team was relieved (by the trial judge) for spying and hiding exculpatory evidence. Now the Navy is in full-scale review of how it allowed its JAGs to get so out of hand.

The Navy was Obama’s branch of the military, so the clean up will take awhile. But my old boss, Col Hal, saw it coming back in the 70s.

Corrupt lawyers.

But I repeat myself.

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