AP Images/Los Angeles Zoo/Tad Motoyama
Please note: Tommy the Chimp is not a person.

How Did I Miss That? Corporate Persons Trump Chimps; Used Casket Lawsuit

Steve Russell
12/12/14

The Washington Post reported that the Nonhuman Rights Project lost a unanimous opinion in New York’s Third Judicial Department turning away Tommy the Chimpanzee’s bid for personhood in law and therefore freedom. “They would have better luck in the courts,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller said drily, “if they incorporated the chimp.”

Corporations are legal persons and animals not, but dead humans were persons who ought to rest in peace. In 1981, they opened up Lee Harvey Oswald’s grave to quiet the conspiracy theorists who claimed he was not buried there. He was, but that did not have any effect on the tinfoil hat crowd who think Oswald was smart enough to get a job with a perfect sniper’s perch before JFK had any plans to visit Texas, much less Dallas, much less the particular street in Dallas.

A lawsuit just ended where Oswald’s brother is suing the funeral director who did the exhumation. Robert Oswald claims that he bought the pine box Lee Harvey was buried in for $300 and then Allen Baumgardner sold it second hand for $87,000. Baumgardner’s legal theory is that the casket was a gift to Lee Harvey that Robert did not expect to get back. Judge Don Cosby is expected to make a decision soon. “I can’t imagine,” Cousin Ray snickered, “why neither of these sterling characters asked for a jury trial.”

A more recent funeral happened when Dollree Mapp walked on. Mapp was the woman who stood up to Cleveland police, who were searching for a man allegedly involved in bombing Don King’s house, the same Don King who is now a famous boxing promoter but then was reputed to make a living in the numbers racket.

After the police shoved their way into Mapp’s home without a warrant, they found a pencil sketch of a naked person and some books with racy titles, which were illegal in those days. Her conviction was reversed in a Supreme Court opinion that started out to strike down the Ohio obscenity law for general nuttiness but veered into the Fourth Amendment and extended the Exclusionary Rule that products of unlawful search are not admissible in a criminal prosecution to state courts. So it was that this uppity woman of African-American and Mississippi Choctaw descent got her name on a landmark case, Mapp v. Ohio.

According to the Detroit Free Press, carjackings in the Motor City are down to one a day from more than three a day six years ago. Detroit’s lowered carjacking rate is still three times that of New York City, which has 12 times Detroit’s population. Police Chief James Craig was the victim of an attempted carjacking while he was in his police cruiser. Seeing those italics, Cousin Ray accused me of ignoring the value of a police cruiser. “Didn’t you see Blues Brothers?

It is axiomatic in politics that any candidate who makes light of polling data is losing. Mary Landrieu, the last statewide Democrat standing in Louisiana, proved that axiom once again by losing her runoff to Republican Bill Cassidy in a landslide. Technically, he barely cracked the landslide level, 55 percent, and some polls had his lead in double digits. That does not mean the polls were wrong. You can’t tell who will vote in a runoff and knowing the outcome in advance depresses turnout.

The second CNBC Millionaire Survey was released this week to test the opinions of the top 8 percent of Americans by investible assets (not by income). The sample attempted parity among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, which probably means Democrats were overrepresented. Millionaires matter when the Supreme Court instructs us that the First Amendment requires one dollar-one vote.

The result: Hillary Clinton won with 31 percent, followed by Jeb Bush with 18 percent and Chris Christie with 14 percent. Among Republican millionaires, Ms. Clinton ran in single digits, behind Jeb Bush (36 percent), Chris Christie (19 percent), and Scott Walker (18 percent). Socialist Bernie Sanders got no votes among Republican millionaires, but he did score 11 percent overall.

While 93 percent of millionaires voted, only 4 percent gave more than $1,000 to a candidate, 10 percent of Democrats and only 3 percent of Republicans. That’s much higher turnout than ordinary people ever produce. Turnout in presidential elections since 1972 ranged from 59 percent in 1996 and 2000 to 70 percent in 2008.

Campaign contributions are skewed in the same manner. Less than one percent of voters contributed 80 percent of campaign funds in 2008, when the Obama campaign set new records for low dollar fundraising. Four percent of the population contributed, but those who maxed out at $2,300 were less than one tenth of one percent. “So,” Cousin Ray summarized, “rich people are more likely to vote and they give most of the political money as well. That explains a lot.”

In other rich people news, Bloomberg reported that the Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid has sold out at $845,000 a copy. Production was limited to 918 vehicles. Americans bought 297. Cousin Ray would not say whether he bought one. “You never can tell when you might want to go zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds on 67 miles per gallon.”

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