Can I Watch My Neighbors With Binoculars?

Posted By on April 28, 2017

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The short answer is yes. You do not have an expectation of privacy when you are outside, even in your own yard. While law enforcement cannot come onto your property and search it without a warrant, they can watch your home from across the street or across the field with binoculars or any other device readily available to the pubic. And so can your neighbors, especially if you’re engaging in activity that invites scrutiny—like revving your engine or throwing wild underage drinking parties, both of which have been going on in my neighborhood for almost a year now. (more…)

Open Letter to the Rib Lake Town Board

Posted By on September 29, 2016

September 26, 2016

Dear Neighbor,

Enclosed please find an Open Letter to the Rib Lake Town Board concerning the impending vote to open all township roads to mass, unrestrained ATV use. Your property value and your quality of life could be adversely impacted by this decision.

I hope you will either attend the October 12, 2016 meeting of the Board or contact a Supervisor if you cannot attend, and let them know your position on this matter. The meeting is at the Rib Lake Town Hall across from Zondlos’s Bar at 7:00 pm.

Below is the contact information for the Chairman of the Rib Lake Board and the Supervisors. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Chairman Joe Knorn
N8650 State Hwy 102
Rib Lake WI 54470

Supervisor Ben Kauer
W1224 Wood Lake Ave
Rib Lake WI 54470

Supervisor Tom Wendt
9518 Spirit Lake Rd.
Rib Lake WI 54470


J.L. Cook, juris doctor
N7330 Evergreen Dr.
Rib Lake Township





The Abuse of “Stop and Frisk”

Posted By on September 23, 2016

New Jersey State Police pulls over a driver.

New Jersey State Police pulls over a driver.

I’d like to weigh in on something I saw on the morning news on September 22, 2016. Former Mayor Giuliani was on Fox and Friends talking about “stop and frisk.” This is a procedure upheld by the Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio. It’s known as a Terry Stop. In order for a law enforcement officer to stop you for questioning and search you for weapons—which is all they’re allowed to search for, she must have “reasonable” suspicion. However, during the interview, the Mayor stated that the police are only required have a “hunch” or “gut instinct” to perform a Terry Stop. This is grossly incorrect. (more…)

End the Prolonged Election Cycle

Posted By on August 3, 2016

An 1846 painting, The County Election by George Caleb Bingham, showing a polling judge administering an oath to a voter. Source: Wikipedia

The American Public is frustrated. It’s bad enough that since the latter part of the twentieth century, we’ve been bombarded every election cycle with non-stop television and radio coverage of national politics. Now we have to endure the vitriol of millions of zealots on social media, who have lost their identity to a political or religious ideology. For those of us in the reasoned minority, which shrinks with every election cycle, it’s overwhelming. (more…)

The Fate of Family Farms Under a Liberal Supreme Court

Posted By on February 26, 2016

The Supreme Court of the United States. Photo Source: Wikipedia

One of the most puzzling comments I saw on social media following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia came from a fellow alumni at Concord Law School. The poster offered decidedly less than heartfelt condolences for the legal giant’s passing, and then stated that the Court had eroded individual rights as a result of so-called conservative influence of some of the Justices. This puzzles me because anyone who has followed the Court for even a short time will concede that it is the justices with more liberal interpretations of the Constitution who have subjugated the rights of the individual to the rights of the State, and this is especially true where the individual is a landowner. (more…)

The Stigma of the Hoodie and the Constant Reminder of Death

Posted By on November 11, 2015

Front Cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Some Enchanted Evenings” album depicting death as a hooded figure

Imagine you’re walking down a dark road. What few street lamps there are either aren’t working at all or if they are working, they’re providing woefully little assistance as you make your way through the night. As you trudge through the darkness, you notice a dark figure in the distance. You keep walking, your attention now fully on the hooded figure that doesn’t slow as it approaches. Now, who or what do you think is approaching you, and does it matter?

In the above scenario, you could be in an inner-city neighborhood or you could be in 15th century London, making your way through the soot-covered streets of the city slums. Either way, the person in the hood scares you, and the reason is simple. The hooded figure is an almost universal archetype for death. Death has been depicted as a hooded figure almost as often as it has been depicted as an angel. It doesn’t matter if it’s Trayvon Martin or some medieval scallywag, if someone approaches you in the dark with their face covered, the natural human reaction is to be afraid. So, who thought making people fearful would be a great fashion statement? Criminals, that’s who. (more…)

Confessions of a Former Hillary Hater

Posted By on October 23, 2015

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks with Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretaries of State Henry A. Kissinger, James A. Baker, III, Madeleine K. Albright, and Colin L. Powell at the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the U.S. Diplomacy Center at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC on September 3, 2014. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks at the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the U.S. Diplomacy Center at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC on September 3, 2014. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

I spent the entire day of October 22, 2015 watching former Secretary Clinton testify in front of the Select Committee on Benghazi. It seemed like a good way to recover from oral surgery—a long dull day for a long dull pain. Instead, I watched in near disbelief as the Republican members of the committee launched what can only be described as a targeted and nasty political prosecution of Mrs. Clinton. In essence, I lost a tooth and my long-held respect for the GOP and Fox News.

I switched to Fox  back in 2007, when it was clear that CNN and MSNBC were in the tank for then Senator Obama. Their support for him was shameless, but their attacks on Clinton were petty and malicious. I decided that I didn’t want to get my news from people whose legs tingled at the sight of Barrack Obama. So, I switched to Fox, and for awhile I did think they were fair and balanced, at least in their delivery of the hard news. But a couple of years ago, I noticed that the anchors, especially the morning crew at Fox and Friends, were starting to sound like they worked for the Republican Party. That’s especially true for Steve Doocy and Elizabeth Hasselbeck. I swear I thought I saw Doocy ringing his hands cackling with glee as he told the morning audience how the FBI was investigating Mrs. Clinton. Not only was it unprofessional, it was kind of creepy. And I’m surprised Hasselbeck didn’t wet herself when she announced Mrs. Clinton’s unfavorable numbers were climbing. Yawn. Just give me the news. (more…)

Socratic Questioning and the Issue of Police Brutality

Posted By on August 14, 2015

Socrates. Photo Source: Wikipedia

Socrates. Photo Source: Wikipedia

I often complain about social media. It is, as author Andrew Keen calls it, The Cult of the Amateur. Most of what I see on social media is useless information. Memes that misstate a complex problem in the most ignorant of terms. Wiki warriors, armed with knowledge gleaned from the great gossipers and instigators of our time, offer up silly opinions and uninformed advice. I have come close to closing all of my social media accounts, starting with Facebook, on several occasions, but I’ve never actually done it. Because just when I’m sure I’m losing brain cells by participating in social media, someone like Dr. Brenda Nelson-Porter comes along, and I stay engaged. (more…)

Civil Gideon and Public Policy

Posted By on April 9, 2015

While the majority of Americans know they have a right to counsel when charged with a crime where imprisonment is the punishment, most don’t know that the right wasn’t applicable to the States until 1963 when the Supreme Court decided the case Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963). The court reasoned that the Sixth Amendment guaranteed this right in criminal actions. However, there is no such guarantee for civil actions, even those where a fundamental right is concerned. Only Massachusetts has recognized a right to an attorney in civil actions512px-Parenting where the guardianship of a child is at issue. In every other state, parents whose children have been removed from their custody are not entitled to representation, with disastrous results.

In a recent case involving the death of a child, an Alabama grandmother was convicted of murder after forcing her nine-year-old granddaughter to run for hours.  The girl’s father had custody of her after he used child protective services to harass the mother and hired an attorney to pressure her into giving up custody. After that, he took the child away, in direct violation of the custody agreement. The girl’s mother fought to regain custody of her for over three years. She was granted visitation rights in time to hold her daughter as she died. One cannot help but wonder if the outcome would have been different if the child’s mother would have had the benefit of counsel.

What are the public policy considerations, pro and con, when considering amending the U.S.Constitution to guarantee legal representation in civil proceedings where the individual’s life, liberty, or property interests are at stake?

Have a Little Emotional Neutrality with Your Net Neutrality

Posted By on November 14, 2014

Photo Source:

Photo Source:

I’m not sure how, but the issue of internet regulation has somehow become a partisan question, with dutiful minions from both major political parties —and a few from the fringe —taking up sides and decrying the ignorance or evil of the other side. Here’s an idea. Let’s take some of the emotion out of this. One of the first rules of conflict resolution is to determine who benefits from the conflict in the first place, because someone always benefits. Here, the beneficiaries of the conflict are major political action committees of every stripe that are conjuring up Orwellian images of compliance or restrictions (depending on who’s doing the conjuring) in order to raise money. Not surprising, because in the end, Net Neutrality is about money.

The latest decision by a three-judge panel from the D.C. Court of Appeals has once again brought out the emotional lunacy that politicians and their financiers so desperately rely on. So, let’s understand just what the court did and didn’t do. The case, Verizon v. FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION came before the court to answer one question: Does the FCC have the authority to regulate broadband providers as common carriers? The answer is a resounding no. (more…)

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