Tony Piel reports:
The Mueller Report is now available at your favorite bookstore as published by Skyhorse Publishing (2019). Liz and I purchased it at Barnes and Noble for $12, for the sole purpose of having access to the exact words and findings of the Mueller Report.
The only hesitancy I had about buying this particular book version of the Mueller Report was the fact that it is "introduced" by Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus of the Harvard Law School. After the "Introduction," you have to go to page 38 to start the actual (if still "redacted") Mueller Report.
Why is this important ? Because the "average" reader will probably be snowed under by the legalistic language, detracting and misleading statements up front by Professor Dershowitz and by Trump's appointee Attorney General William Barr. How so ? The Dershowitz "Introduction" concludes quite simply:
"The report is a complete exoneration" of Donald Trump, and therefore "We should put the allegation to rest both as a legal and factual matter."
We all know, or should know by now, that this statement of "complete exoneration" by the Mueller Report is utterly false. If the casual reader swallows the Dershowitz "Introduction," then why bother to read the actual report, which begins on page 38 ? If Trump is completely exonerated, why read further?
Oddly, there is no mention of who put the book together. Who decided to give first place to Dershowitz, followed by Barr, before getting to what the Mueller team actually wrote ? Did some partisan group want to get the report out first, precisely to undercut it ? Does Dershowitz not read or speak plain English ? Too many lunches at Mar-a-Lago ? Would you want to send your child or grandchild to Harvard at the risk of being taught, judged and graded by the likes of Dershowitz? I don't think so.
Here is an excerpt from the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision ruling that corporations are actually persons. Just folks, like you and me, with the same Constitutional right to buy politicians.
[W]e now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.Here is an excerpt from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist:
"If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is a ass --- a idiot."But how can it be a idiot, when Chief Justice John Roberts himself says:
"We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges....What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for."Particularly if we’re incorporated.
From ‘“Woe Unto You, Lawyers,” (Reynal & Hitchcock, 1939) by Fred Rodell, a Yale Law School professor:
The law not only can be bought, but most of the time it has to be bought. And since it has to be bought, its results tend to favor those who can afford to buy it . . . The law is constantly for sale, and generally to the highest bidder.”
…a turd in the punchbowl. From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Floyd Abrams is the nation’s most prominent First Amendment lawyer, and he almost always argues in favor of free speech. But he has struggled with the case of a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.The underlying issue here, which no court has seen fit to address, is whether any wedding guest would be dumb enough to eat a cake this man had been forced to bake.
Think rich people must be really, really smart, and poor people dumb as posts? Okay then, have you considered a job on the Supreme Court? You’d fit right in with the intellectual majority and you won’t even have to read up on the law. Ayn Rand is enough.
No, really. Just read this excerpt from the 2010 Citizens United decision, in which the conservative majority ruled that corporations are persons, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.
[W]e now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.
Our corrupt and vicious criminal justice system is one of the many actually important problems ignored in last year’s trivia-heavy presidential campaign. Here, then, are talking points that the 2020 candidates will no doubt find useful. Just kidding.
The primary reason for wrongful conviction is that the success indicator for police, prosecutor, and judge is conviction, not justice. Crimes are solved by wrongful convictions. High conviction rates boost the careers of prosecutors, and high profile convictions boost their political careers. The key to rapid and numerous convictions is the plea bargain.
And plea bargains suit judges as they keep the court docket clear. Today 97% of felony cases are settled with a plea bargain. This means police evidence and a prosecutor’s case are tested only three times out of 100. When the evidence and case are tested in court, the test confronts a vast array of prosecutorial misconduct, such as suborned perjury and the withholding of exculpatory evidence. In America, everything is loaded against Justice.
In a plea bargain police do not have to present evidence, prosecutors do not have to bring a case, and judges do not have to pay attention to the case and be troubled by a growing backlog as trials consume days and weeks.
In a plea bargain the defendant, innocent or guilty, is told that he can plead to this or that offence, which carries a lighter sentence than the crime that allegedly has actually occurred and on which the defendant is arrested, or the defendant can go to trial where he will face more serious charges that carry much harsher penalties. As it has become routine for police to falsify evidence, for prosecutors to suborn perjury and withhold exculpatory evidence, for jurors naively to trust police and prosecutors, and for judges to look the other way, attorneys advise defendants to accept a plea deal. In other words, no one expects a fair trial or for real evidence to play a role in the outcome.
This from The Washington Post:
As advanced CT scans and other analytical techniques become cheaper and more widely available, scientists are able to noninvasively tease out secrets locked within ancient sarcophagi. After examining what was long thought a jar of organs, Cambridge archaeologists discovered a tiny Egyptian mummy in May. The embalmed fetus, as young as 16 weeks, is the smallest yet found.And this from our next vice president:
A few months later, Dutch museum curators were shocked to see the bodies of 47 mummified infant crocodiles lining the walls of a sarcophagus. The curators were expecting to find just two adolescent reptiles.
The sweeping abortion bill that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law in March gained national attention for prohibiting women from electing to have an abortion due to the race, gender, or disability of the fetus. But the bill contained another unusual provision: It required that aborted fetuses receive what amounts to a funeral…
This sort of fetus funeral provision has recently gained traction in legislatures around the country: Arkansas and Georgia have similar laws on the books, while Ohio, South Carolina, and Mississippi have all considered similar measures in the last year.
…in New Jersey? Easy peasy. Just take on a divorced mother of four as your client and then throw her under a bus driven by a fat bully who thinks it’s going to Washington:
Even in January 2014, when a subpoena revealed the incriminating email Ms. Kelly had written before the closings — “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” — Mr. Christie and his aides were struggling to get their story straight. They found her a lawyer who assured her that everything was going to be fine and that they would find another job for her; then they fired her. (Ms. Kelly subsequently found another lawyer herself; Mr. Christie recently successfully nominated her original lawyer, Walter F. Timpone, to the state’s highest court.)
From the New York Times:
Mr. Baroni, once Mr. Christie’s top staff appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is accused of scheming to close access lanes to the bridge in September 2013 to punish a mayor who had declined to endorse the governor for re-election, and then covering it up. His co-defendant is Bridget Anne Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff to Mr. Christie…Yaddada, yaddada, and the band plays on, stuck on the wrong tune. Every sentient human being with an IQ reaching into the double digits is aware that Christie either must have known in advance or a few minutes afterward that the busiest bridge in the world had been throttled. The governor’s office was equipped with telephones, television and Wi-Fi. Whether he ordered the closing is irrelevant. What is relevant is that he could have stopped it immediately and didn’t — for four days.
In the military this would be called dereliction of duty, punishable under United States Code Title 10, Section 892, Article 92 by dishonorable discharge and confinement for up to one year. New Jersey has no such statute, but perhaps there is a higher law.
How else to explain that the fat bully from New Jersey has been turned into a poodle licking the boots of an even bigger bully until November 8. On that date both creatures will be paroled into irrelevance, proving that God is just. Now and then, anyway.
…corporations are people, too. From Naked Capitalism:
Their paper closes by examining the notion that right wing politics in America has been driven by donations piling up from eccentric entrepreneurs like investor and conservative mega-donor Foster Friess — the sort of people who are widely imagined to populate the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans — rather than mainline big business corporations, such as those on the Fortune 500 list.
On the contrary, the researchers find that “a simple count of firms and investors on Forbes show that the largest American corporations support Tea Party Congressional candidates and organizations supporting the movement, such as Freedom Works, at much higher rates than Forbes 400 members. Even making due allowances for Dark Money, the difference is substantial.”
Evidently American big business firms are not centrist, as many pundits would have it. As Ferguson and his colleagues put it:
Stories that the steady rightward drift of the American political universe is somehow the work of exceptionally ideological individual entrepreneurs are huge over-simplifications. If the center is not holding in American society — and it rather plainly is not — America’s largest companies are as implicated as anyone else; indeed, perhaps more so.
From Lawyers, Guns & Money:
And, you know, Trump has a point. Not because his comments about Curiel aren’t racist — they certainly are. But it is fair to wonder when his arguments somehow became taboo within the Republican Party.
You may remember, for example, the discourse surrounding the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. Her formal credentials were impeccable, essentially identical to Sam Alito’s. And, yet, Republicans routinely described her as “unqualified” because her background meant that she couldn’t be an impartial judge. A particularly common talking point was to compare Sotomayor (Princeton, Yale Law, more than two decade’s worth of experience as a federal judge) with Harriet Miers (SMU, no judicial experience, no experience as a prosecutor, holder of elected office or legal scholar, favorite justice was either Warren Burger or Earl Warren, she’s not sure) because they’re both women and therefore presumptively equally unqualified.
I’m also old enough to remember the National Review‘s chief legal affairs writer arguing that a judge should recuse himself from hearing a same-sex marriage case because he was gay.
In other words, Trump probably got the idea that only straight, conservative white men could be truly impartial judges from…listening to how Republicans talk about judges. No wonder he thinks the circular firing squad is unfair.
From The Onion:
In the case of the Baltimore shooting, however, the bureau took the unusual step of deeming part of that case a “bad shoot” in agents’ parlance. But the group did not fault the two agents who killed Mr. Harrison. Instead, it chastised only the agent who shot the tire, recommending that the agent be suspended for a day without pay, according to documents obtained by The Times in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.Only it isn’t, sadly, from The Onion at all. It’s from The New York Times.
The review group’s reasoning was that the bureau’s policy on using lethal force forbids firing a gun to disable a vehicle, and it concluded that this had been the agent’s motive in shooting the tire. But the same policy permits firing a gun to protect people from danger, and the panel decided that the two agents who shot Mr. Harrison were trying to keep him from driving into bystanders.
From The Associated Press:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Prosecutors at Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s upcoming criminal trial cannot show jurors a segment of a pipeline that exploded in a San Francisco Bay Area neighborhood or discuss how many people were killed and homes were destroyed, a federal judge ruled…I was about to snark something along the lines of “Would it surprise you to learn that Judge Henderson is a George W. Bush appointee” when I figured I’d better check. Might have been Ronzo who saddled us with this winner.
Viewing the pipe could create an emotional response in jurors, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson said Monday…Henderson also barred prosecutors from saying how many people died [ed. note: 8] and how many homes were destroyed [ed. note: 38] in the 2010 San Bruno blast as well introducing images of the explosion site. He said that information could unfairly prejudice jurors.
Turned out it was my old boss, Jimmy Carter. Oh, well…
From the Oxford Dictionary, “dead letter”: A law or treaty that has not been repealed but is ineffectual or defunct in practice.
From the U.S. Code,Title 18, Section 960:
“Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition to be carried on from thence against the territory or domination of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district or people with whom the United States is at peace, shall be fined not more than $3,000 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
From Harvard Magazine, here’s United States Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner. A Reagan appointee, he was cited by The Journal of Legal Studies as the most cited legal scholar of the 20th century:
About the Supreme Court, he said, “You know they still have a spittoon sitting beside each chair on the bench? What kind of crap is that? Right?” And: “Now who would say, for example, that the nine Supreme Court justices were the nine best lawyers in the country. That’d be preposterous. Now, what if the proposition was, well, they’re among the hundred best lawyers in the country. That would be ridiculous. Among the thousand best lawyers in the country out of 1 million lawyers? No! I think today’s Supreme Court is extremely mediocre.”
It’s startling to hear a sitting federal judge insult the justices on the record, but Posner’s view is that he gives the court and its precedents the respect they are due. Posner’s favorite Supreme Court ruling to attack in the past decade has been District of Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 case in which, by 5-4, the conservative majority ruled that the Constitution’s Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a handgun for self-defense.
To Posner, the decision and, in particular, the majority opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, is “an example of motivated thinking” — thinking shaped by how he and the other justices in the majority wanted the case to come out. They used their own version of history as a basis for their interpretation of the amendment, he believes, even though, by his count, 14 of the 18 historians who signed friend-of-the-court briefs disputed that view. The justices did “what is derisively called ‘law office history,’” Posner wrote about Scalia’s historical account: “The derision is deserved.”
From the New York Times:
One of those bills — which has been supported by Koch Industries, libertarians and business groups — would make wholesale changes to certain federal criminal laws, requiring prosecutors to prove that suspects “knew, or had reason to believe, the conduct was unlawful,” and did not simply unknowingly violate the law.Any lawyers out there? Whatever happened to ignorance of the law is no excuse?
Many laws already carry such a requirement — known as “mens rea” — but Congress left it out of many others, and libertarian groups say that has made it too easy to unknowingly violate obscure laws. Some environmentalists argue, however, that the real motive of Charles Koch, the philanthropist and the company chairman, in supporting the legislation is to block federal regulators from pursuing potential criminal actions against his family’s network of industrial and energy companies, a charge the company denies.
Read this entire story, then get back to me about how this is a Christian country. And don’t skip over the ads. The one below showed up in my download. Who knew Google’s algorithms had a sense of humor?
For Earl Harris, the problem was keeping up. He had a job in prison, cleaning the kitchen, but it paid only $7.50 a month — well short of the $168 the state of Missouri was billing him.
“Didn’t they know I was in prison?” he asks. “Weren’t they the ones that put me in there?”
When he got out in 2001, the unpaid amount was listed on his credit report — and pursued by an agency with the power to garnish 65 percent of his wages, intercept his tax returns, freeze his bank account, suspend his driver’s license and, if he failed to pay, lock him up again.
By then, his debt had surged to more than $10,000.
Harris entered barbering school but soon returned to drug dealing and was thrown back into prison for nearly a decade. Meanwhile, his child-support debt swelled to more than $25,000.
…it’s the principle of the thing. From the New York Times:
A test like Judge Diment’s — if individuals can pay, they will once threatened with jail, he asserts — is not unheard-of. Nor, for that matter, is jailing those who cannot pay: A new report by the American Civil Liberties Union in New Hampshire found that the state’s taxpayers paid $167,000 in 2013 to jail people who owed $76,000.
How many times do I have to say this? Loosen up, people. Have you ever tickled a cute little toddler? Been on a high school football team? What are you, some kind of sex fiend?
From Flagler Live:
More broadly speaking, however, is an issue that plagues both children and adults at summer camps alike: for fear of litigation, local interpretation of a state code very strictly forbids adults touching children, in any manner.From the New York Times:
Even to apply sunscreen to a burning child.
The players, both 17 at the time of the episode, had been charged with aggravated sexual contact and aggravated assault, among other crimes, and were tried as juveniles by a judge behind closed doors in Middlesex County family court.
Seven Sayreville players, from 15 to 17 years old, were accused last fall of attacking members of the freshman football team in a ritual that involved jumping and beating the younger players, groping their genitals or penetrating them from behind with a finger poked through pants. The scandal stunned the suburban town of 44,000 just southwest of New York City.
The Denver Post reported that 56-year-old Mark Iannicelli set up a small booth with a sign reading “Juror Info” outside the Lindsay-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver last week. The Denver District Attorney’s Office charged Iannicelli with seven counts of jury tampering after members of the jury pool were found to be in possession of fliers describing jury nullification.
Jury nullification allows juries to acquit a defendant who they may believe is guilty if they also believe that the law is unjust. The practice has been used by juries in the United States since the 1800s to nullify anti-free speech laws and laws punishing northerners for helping runaway slaves. It has most recently been used in drug cases when juries have viewed laws as discriminatory.
…and take a minute to, you know, think.
WESTPORT — A local woman was arrested after police said she left her infant alone in her car. Milan Kunajukr, 30, was charged with risk of injury to children. She was released after posting $1,000 bond…
Shortly after 7 p.m., police said they were called to the parking lot of Whole Foods, 399 Post Road West, on a report of an infant left unattended in a vehicle. Upon arrival the officers found the vehicle unlocked and running with the infant inside, police said.
The weather at the time of the incident was approximately 84 degrees, however the interior of the vehicle was cool as the air conditioning was on, police said. According to witness statements the infant was alone for approximately seven minutes. Kunajukr exited the store and returned to her vehicle a short time after police arrived.
From the New York Times:
In an affidavit filed in Tate County Justice Court last month, one woman, Ursula Miller, was charged for “yelling and clapping while inside the building after announcement had been made for all to hold their applause and celebrating until after the end of the [high school graduation] ceremony.”
Her “loud, boisterous noise,” the affidavit said, was “against the peace and dignity of the State of Mississippi.”
…with Alabama in between. From the New York Times:
Dr. Offit’s home state of Pennsylvania permits a religious exemption to the wearing of bicycle helmets, and is one of a few that permit parents with religious objections to medical care to adopt children. In places where these exemptions do not exist including Canada, Britain and, as of 2011, Oregon, medically avoidable deaths among children ascribed to parent’s religious beliefs have essentially disappeared. In most of the United States, they continue to occur.
From The Shreveport Times:
Editor’s Note: Attorney A.M. “Marty” Stroud III, of Shreveport, was the lead prosecutor in the December 1984 first-degree murder trial of Glenn Ford, who was sentenced to death for the Nov. 5, 1983 death of Shreveport jeweler Isadore Rozeman. Ford was released from prison March 11, 2014, after the state admitted new evidence proving Ford was not the killer.
I did not question the unfairness of Mr. Ford having appointed counsel who had never tried a criminal jury case much less a capital one. It never concerned me that the defense had insufficient funds to hire experts or that defense counsel shut down their firms for substantial periods of time to prepare for trial. These attorneys tried their very best, but they were in the wrong arena. They were excellent attorneys with experience in civil matters. But this did not prepare them for trying to save the life of Mr. Ford.Read it all, and don’t miss the video of Mr. Stroud discussing it. Plainly he is a man of honor and decency and dignity. Think how wonderful it would be, both for them and for the nation, if Dick Cheney and George W. Bush were to publish similar letters.
The jury was all white, Mr. Ford was African-American. Potential African-American jurors were struck with little thought about potential discrimination because at that time a claim of racial discrimination in the selection of jurors could not be successful unless it could be shown that the office had engaged in a pattern of such conduct in other cases.
And I knew this was a very burdensome requirement that had never been met in the jurisprudence of which I was aware…
After the death verdict in the Ford trial, I went out with others and celebrated with a few rounds of drinks. That’s sick. I had been entrusted with the duty to seek the death of a fellow human being, a very solemn task that certainly did not warrant any “celebration.”
But I dream.
Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 03:11 PM
From the New York Times:
Ms. Lynch is not expected to push for changing marijuana laws. Under Mr. Holder, the Justice Department did not stand in the way of states that legalized marijuana. And in his final months in office, he questioned whether the government should keep marijuana on the list of the most serious drugs, in the same category as heroin. Ms. Lynch, who told aides during the confirmation process that she had never smoked marijuana, does not share that view. She told the Senate that she did not support legalization and did not agree with Mr. Obama that marijuana may not be more dangerous than alcohol.
Another reason not to appoint career prosecutors to run the Justice Department, any more than banksters should run the Fed or the Koch Brothers Energy or union bosses Labor. Bad enough that both house of Congress are loaded down with lawyers, most of them former prosecutors thoroughly marinated in our astonishingly cruel and corrupt criminal injustice system. Incest is inevitable.
A Fulton County superior court judge handed down severe prison sentences to 10 former school administrators, principals and elementary school teachers for their role in a citywide test cheating scandal at the Atlanta Public Schools.
The educators and one other teacher were convicted April 1 for inflating test scores in 2009...
The case was brought by county prosecutors in what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — which backs the vendetta — called a “novel use” of state racketeering laws normally reserved for organized crime activities such as such as prostitution, counterfeiting or illegal drugs and weapons trafficking.
To the gasps of courtroom onlookers on Tuesday morning, Judge Jerry Baxter announced maximum 20-year sentences for three former school administrators — Tamara Cotman, 44; Sharon Davis-Williams, 59; and Michael Pitts, 59 — that include seven years in prison, 13 years on probation, fines of $25,000 each and 2,000 hours of community service.…
Judge Baxter was visibly enraged by the public sympathy for the educators whose families and friends packed the courtroom Monday to demand leniency. When spectators reacted with horror to his sentencing, the judge angrily blurted,
“Everyone starts crying about these educators. There were thousands of children harmed in this thing. This is not a victimless crime … When you are passed and you can’t read, you are passed and passed on, there are victims that are in the jail that I have sentenced, kids…”
After prosecutors sought to blackmail the educators with promises of lighter sentences if they accepted guilt and waived the right to appeal their convictions, Baxter reacted angrily, saying, “I’ve got a fair sentence in mind and it involves going to jail. Everybody.”
All involved are black except the judge, who is a vicious, ignorant bully who disgraces his race and his robe.
Thanks be to God that William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Anthony M. Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor managed to save us from having this turkey in the White House:
His slide show on the threat of climate change, presented in the movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” won an Academy Award. His efforts to spread the word about global warming earned him, along with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a Nobel Peace Prize. His was a dire call to strenuous and difficult action…
His slide show on the threat of climate change, presented in the movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” won an Academy Award. His efforts to spread the word about global warming earned him, along with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a Nobel Peace Prize…
Much of what he makes, including all salary from his early stage investing work as a partner at Kleiner Perkins and his Nobel Prize money, goes to his advocacy group, the Climate Reality Project…
He co-founded Generation Investment Management, a firm that takes positions in companies that manage themselves along principles of sustainability, including the effects of climate change. He also sits on the board of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which invests heavily in green start-ups. He sold his cable channel, Current TV, to Al Jazeera America in 2013 in a deal that earned him a reported $100 million … His success in the business world has surprised many people, Mr. Kramer says. “I didn’t think of him as a business guy — I’m sure nobody did,” he says, adding that “he is a phenomenally deep student of critical forces that ultimately change society.”
From The Guardian, another specimen of human filth from post-racist America:
The judge in Ferguson, Missouri, who is accused of fixing traffic tickets for himself and colleagues while inflicting a punishing regime of fines and fees on the city’s residents, also owes more than $170,000 in unpaid taxes.
Ronald J. Brockmeyer, whose court allegedly jailed impoverished defendants unable to pay fines of a few hundred dollars, has a string of outstanding debts to the US government dating back to 2007, according to tax filings obtained by the Guardian from authorities in Missouri.
Brockmeyer, 70, was this week singled out by Department of Justice investigators as being a driving force behind Ferguson’s strategy of using its municipal court to aggressively generate revenues. The policy has been blamed for a breakdown in relations between the city’s overwhelmingly white authorities and residents, two-thirds of whom are African American.
Investigators found Brockmeyer had boasted of creating a range of new court fees, “many of which are widely considered abusive and may be unlawful”. A city councilman opposing the judge’s reappointment was warned “switching judges would/could lead to loss of revenue”.
…except that the Supreme Court has since declared legal the whole corrupt process described below by Henry George, Jr. in The Menace of Privilege (1906). Which is, I guess, one way of stamping out crime.
There would, perhaps, be little need for the creating of corporations were it not for the granting of privileges. But artificial persons, which have more powers than natural persons and life-everlasting, are far better suited than natural persons to take care of privileges — to fight for their continuance and extension. As a consequence it has now become almost an invariable rule either for artificial persons under the general corporation laws to receive from Government the special grants of power; or else such privileges, being granted to natural persons, are at once by them turned over to corporations or artificial persons. And these artificial persons possessing Government grants, are the most active and most potent of all persons in politics.
The very significant aspect of the Presidential contest of 1904 was the charge by opponents against the managers of each of the two great parties of receiving campaign contributions from the large privilege-possessing corporations. More significant still was the common belief that the charge was true, the partisan view being that, while the opposing candidate would of necessity be contaminated by such money, their own candidate was too upright and too strong to be swerved in the least from principle, affected in the least for evil. Yet Presidents are but men, subject to men’s strengths and weaknesses. And just as Mr. Buchanan was most complacent in face of the growing aggressiveness of the slave power which seated him and supported him in the Presidency, so monopoly powers might reasonable expect at least protection from a Chief Executive which their money and their efforts materially contributed toward seating in the White House.
…this is getting boring. Maybe if a corporation showed up to petition for a redress of grievances?
At the Supreme Court, small teams of undercover officers dress as students at large demonstrations outside the courthouse and join the protests to look for suspicious activity, according to officials familiar with the practice…
A Supreme Court spokesman, citing a policy of not discussing security practices, declined to talk about the use of undercover officers. Mr. German, the former F.B.I. undercover agent, said he was troubled to learn that the Supreme Court routinely used undercover officers to pose as demonstrators and monitor large protests.
“There is a danger to democracy,” he said, “in having police infiltrate protests when there isn’t a reasonable basis to suspect criminality.”
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
When the rest of us act this way our parole is revoked. The rules, however, are slightly different for the loan sharks and market manipulators on Wall Street. From the New York Times:
The reopening of these cases represents a shift for the government, the first acknowledgment that prosecutors are coming to terms with the limitations of how they punish bank misdeeds. Typically, when banks have repeatedly run afoul of the law, they have returned to business as usual with little or no additional penalty — a stark contrast to how prosecutors mete out justice for the average criminal.
When punishing banks, prosecutors have favored so-called deferred-prosecution agreements, which suspend charges in exchange for the bank’s paying a fine and promising to behave. Several giant banks have reached multiple deferred or nonprosecution agreements in a short span, fueling concerns that the deals amount to little more than a slap on the wrist and enable a pattern of Wall Street recidivism.
Even now that prosecutors are examining repeat offenses on Wall Street, they are likely to seek punishments more symbolic than sweeping. Top executives are not expected to land in prison, nor are any problem banks in jeopardy of shutting down.
Today’s award is shared equally between Judge Thomas Keith in Peoria, Illinois, and that city’s mayor, Jim Ardis. In 140 words:
A Swat team burst into Elliott’s house in Peoria looking for the source of a parody Twitter feed that had upset the town’s mayor by poking fun at him. “My identity as mayor was stolen,” he said after he dispatched the police… A Peoria judge ruled that the police were entitled to raid the house under the town’s “false personation” law which makes it illegal to pass yourself off as a public official. Judge Thomas Keith found that police had probable cause to believe they would find materials relevant to the Twitter feed such as computers or flash drives used to create it. It is not known whether he now regrets his decision to send in the Swat team. One measure of its success is that there is no longer one parody feed ridiculing Ardis on Twitter — there are 15.
From the New York Times:
The Justice Department has countered that crisis-era wrongdoing often amounted to reckless or risky behavior, but not criminal misconduct. Senior executives were far removed from the front lines of fraud, the department has argued.
In recent months, however, the Justice Department has pursued actions against bank employees suspected of manipulating foreign currencies. Those cases are expected to conclude in the coming months.
“Corporations do not act criminally, but for the actions of individuals,” Mr. Miller said in the speech, adding, “The criminal division intends to prosecute those individuals, whether they’re sitting on a sales desk or in a corporate suite.”
As a people we are vicious, vengeful, ignorant, callous and most of all cowardly. What else could account for the Dickensian criminal “justice” system we permit to exist? Excerpted from We Meant Well:
…Debtors’ prisons in the U.S. were declared unconstitutional, but states have re-implemented them anyway. A person locked up can’t earn money to pay the debt. And most significantly, it ends up costing many jurisdictions more money to punish someone for not paying than they would have “spent” just forgetting the debt. So why do states do this? To be fair, many states do not, and some that do often try and work out some sort of payment plan first. OK, good enough.
Now this may all be for the best. On the streets, nobody is overly concerned about providing food, medical care and shelter to poor people; outside they’re lazy, don’t want to work, nip at the public tit and all. Why, it would be socialism to help them after all. However, inside the prison system they all get food, medical and dental care, all tucked in a warm bed. Our society is apparently more ready to care for a criminal than for a citizen down on his luck.
The reality in America is that far too many people go to jail as punishment for not paying the fees and court costs incurred finding them already guilty of something else. One is left with a tough conclusion: we are more and more a crude, course society on path towards some sort of feudalism, where the rich (if ever brought to court at all) pay their money and walk out, while poor people are punished for no valid reason. We as a society want to set examples, clear the streets of our lowers, punish those who aren’t able to pay the government for giving them their day in court. That’s who we are now. And you better pay your bills…
From The Pasadena Star-News of February 18, 2013, this touching story:
SAN FRANCISCO — On a May day in 2009, Vaughn Walker was going through one of his weekly routines as a federal judge, reviewing a stack of new lawsuits assigned to his San Francisco chambers, when one case caught his eye: Perry v. Schwarzenegger…
It did not take long for the veteran chief judge, himself quietly but openly in a longtime gay relationship with a doctor, to realize that he had inherited the legal challenge to Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. The silver-haired judge with the iconoclast’s reputation would be center stage in the gay marriage controversy.
“That’s when I had the ‘Oh my!’ moment,” Walker said during an interview last week…
Walker, after conducting an unprecedented trial, in 2010 declared the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, saying the law had no social justification and singled out same-sex couples for discrimination.
In 1997 a group of environmental protestors locked themselves together in the office of Republican Congressman Frank Riggs in Eureka, California. When they would not leave, police sprayed a solution of hot pepper into the eyes of four women, and then swabbed it directly on their eyeballs with Q-tips. Other sheriff’s deputies filmed the torture, for later use in a training film.
U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker later dismissed a suit for damages brought by the torture victims. He held that Eureka police had used “reasonable force” on the locked and helpless protesters.
But just suppose the judge’s own eyeballs had once been reasonably forced into a longtime spray relationship with hot pepper? Would that too, back in 1997, have triggered an “Oh, my! moment” in the chambers of the silver-haired iconoclast?
Thank God Almighty, the 1% is free at last! The Kochsucking majority on the Supreme Court just ruled that money speaks louder than words — your words anyway:
(CNN) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down current limits on the total amount individual donors can make to political campaigns…
The 5-4 ruling could have an immediate impact on November's congressional midterm elections, and add another layer of high-stakes spending in the crowded political arena.
Scalia Thomas & Roberts LLC, the legal branch of the Republican Party, thus returns us to the original intent of the Founding Fathers. Constitutional precedent for today’s ruling is to be found in the three fifths compromise, which took imaginary votes away from slaves and awarded them to their masters.
Charles Pierce at Esquire asks:
Is there some kind of employee of the month deal going on at the FBI? Just today, they've busted a California state senator and the mayor of Charlotte, as well as raiding the offices of an state assemblyman in New York?
More likely these obviously well-coordinated news dumps showing Your FBI at Work in War and Peace were planned as distractions. They follow on the heels of two equally well-coordinated news dumps: yesterday’s release of self-exonerating investigations into the FBI’s bungled killing of Ibragim Todashev last May in Orlando:
He hurled a coffee table at the FBI agent’s head, armed himself with a 5-foot metal pole and then charged at another officer, according to more than 100 pages of investigative reports released Tuesday by State Attorney Jeff Ashton.
In a letter written to FBI Director James Comey, Ashton stated: “My conclusion, based upon the facts presented to me in this investigation, is that the actions of the special agent of the FBI were justified in self defense and in defense of another.”
Curiously enough, Comey’s own investigation had come to the same reassuring conclusion. As the FBI has done after every one of the last 150 shootings by its agents. And will continue to do after every one of the next 150.
From The Angry Bear, on the Hobby Lobby silliness which our Republican federal courts are using to cripple the Affordable Care Act and expand the already enormous control that corporations exercise over our government.
The second momentary jolt for me was [Justice] Kennedy’s repeated indication that he believes that the constitutional rights that he said in Citizens United — he wrote that opinion — accrued to the corporation only derivatively as an “association of citizens,” in other words, through its members rather than as a separate entity, extend to all constitutional rights…
The First Amendment right Kennedy proclaimed of people unaffiliated with the corporation to hear the speech of the corporation was, of course, as I said yesterday really a proclaimed right of unaffiliated people to hear the corporation’s CEO’s speech, funded, though, by all the shareholders — or, as Kennedy out it, the association of citizens. The idea was that the political speech advanced the financial interests of all of the association’s citizen members, because they shared an interest in the financial success of the corporation and the political speech they were funding concerned financial matters. The premise was ridiculous; union members who owned shares of the company through their pension fund probably would not have supported anti-union candidates, for example.
My day began with my wife informing me she was not quite 300 dollars overdrawn at the bank. By an odd coincidence, I was in a position to make up that shortfall for her. And since we were low on cat food and the grocery and the bank are in the same shopping center, I opted to drive down and deposit cash rather than to do an online transfer. I'm old enough to remember when depositing cash was the fastest way to do that sort of thing.
Well, the nice lady at the bank informed me that I had to show ID to deposit cash into an account for which I am not a signatory. That was irksome, but not as troubling as the fun fact she laid on me next: As of March 1, no one but the authorized user of a given account can make a cash deposit into that account. This, I was told, is a new federal regulation to combat money laundering. In the interests of politeness, I refrained from pointing out that perhaps our federal regulators should be directing their efforts toward the banks themselves, rather than the customers of those banks.
However, I was rude enough to point out that in performing a very straightforward transaction, the base assumption was that I am committing a crime, until proof to the contrary is provided. Nor is this the only day-to-day transaction that is so treated. If I wish to purchase certain (nominally) over-the-counter cold remedies, I have to provide ID — because the base assumption is that these products are mainly purchased to make meth. I have to provide ID to buy a compressed air cleaner for my computer — because the base assumption is that I am purchasing it to get high. Apparently, in our business-friendly America, we can no longer conceive of legitimate uses for a lot of the products being sold to us. (While we're at it, if I buy that compressed air cleaner at the right electronics chain, I will be asked on my way out to furnish proof that I did not shoplift it.)
Even more troubling is the thought I had getting into my car: Apparently our government now views its own currency mainly in terms of how it can be used to break the law. Tell me I'm overreacting...
For the absolutely final final word on those anti-Christian and anti-life subhuman obscenities in Texas who tried to use a corpse to delay the still-birth of a doomed deformity, go to Stonekettle. And be glad you don’t live in Texas, unless you do. In which case embarrassment, despair, shame, regret or emigration would all be appropriate.
Tony in Florida writes:
You asked about the status of BitCoin. Here’s what the U.S . Constitution says about coinage:
“The Congress shall have Power to coin Money (and) regulate the Value thereof.”
“No State shall coin Money (or) make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.”
So, where does BitCoin fit in with all this? Can a Federal bank accept BitCoin and pay up value in dollars in payment of debts? Can a State bank accept BitCoin and pay up value in dollars in payment of debts? Then why do some banks do it? Is it for anonymity in drug dealing and “dark site” trading?
One of the many virtues of BitCoin is that their transactions are untraceable (except by the NSA) until tendered for dollars, gold or silver. Trading profits along the way go unreported to, and undiscovered by, the IRS, in America and around the world. This is an irresistible advantage of BitCoin over other forms of coinage. They should pay Jamie Dimond in BitCoin. Then he wouldn’t have to pay any taxes at all.
Does anyone, including the U.S. Supreme Court, actually read and think about the document known as the U.S. Constitution? Or do we just say whatever we wished it said, such as the proposition that financial influence of our legislators and public officials constitutes protected “free speech,” or Corporations (unmentioned in the Constitution) are “persons” with all the rights of persons including free speech (but not any of the liabilities of actual human persons, such as serving in the military draft, serving time in the federal or state penitentiary for acts of criminal nature, or being executed in Texas?
Well, cheer up, we can always buy our way out of almost any cul-de-sac — if we use BitCoin.
On January 17, The New York Times reported on a bungled execution by lethal injection in Ohio. The executed man was described by witnesses as having struggled and gasped in his final fifteen minutes of life following the injections; much of the article discussed a dispute over just how aggravated his struggle was ... or wasn’t. Did he gasp loudly, snort, and make choking noises during the struggle? Or did he merely snort loudly and make snoring noises, but not struggle? And so on — the fine calculus of death throes. (Only in America.)
But then came this: “But death penalty proponents said the episode was being sensationalized. ‘Some of the witnesses say he was heard to make snoring noises,’ said Kent Scheidegger, legal director for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. ‘O.K., I’ve made snoring noises. What’s not disputed is that he [the executed man] got a large dose of sedative. We’ve gotten namby-pamby to the point that we give murderers sedatives before we kill them.’”
(The article noted that some anesthesiologists have pointed out that there is a danger of the drugs Ohio used in the untested “cocktail” producing a condition called air hunger, “in which the gasping victim is unable to absorb oxygen.” As for the Foundation, well, it is proud to have former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese on its board of advisors.)
Fordham Law professor Deborah Denno, who according to the article is an expert in lethal injection cases, commented, “I think this [the Ohio execution] is the worst situation that lethal injection has been in since it was first administered 32 years ago.”
But our Kent will have none of this namby-pamby bullshit. “‘The main point to be emphasized,’ Mr. Scheidegger said, ‘is the inmate does get a sedative as the very first thing. However distasteful it may be to observe, he [sic] is not in any kind of extreme pain that ought to concern us.’”
Putting aside the nagging question of on what factual basis the lawyer Kent is able to make a declarative statement about the sensations the executed man experienced as he was dying, you may ask yourself, So what? After all, plenty of government lawyers — who have not themselves undergone anything close to torture, let alone serve in harm’s way in our military — have in the recent past made unilateral findings of fact as to what constitutes torture, and which tortures cause really bad pain as contrasted with sort of bad but not really bad pain.
No, this little episode bears repeating because it reminds us that our Republic is not riven just by conservative versus liberal, or haves versus have nots. There is this other divide that can blindside us: the split between those of us who, however vestigially, harbor a concern for fellow human beings — and those who are beyond being casually mean-spirited and have lapsed fully into being vicious pricks capable of bringing great harm upon all of us.
Let’s not get lulled into the namby-pamby notion that only convicted murderers of pregnant women, like the inmate in Ohio, are out there to harm us. Some threats come in disarming guises, brandishing law degrees.
Ethan Couch again, the spoiled 16-year-old killer of four given a walk by a kindly Texas judge. Yesterday I made a quick search of the initial coverage to find out who was responsible for spoiling this pathetic little rich kid. The only information I could find was that his parents were divorced. No names given. No occupations, no bio at all on this “wealthy family.” A psychologist testified that the parents were disasters, but again the news accounts left them nameless. The pickup Ethan was driving was owned by his father’s company, the watchdogs of the press reported, but apparently they were unable to dig out its name. To find it, I had to go to the Cleburne (Texas) Times-Review, in a December 3 story about the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit against Cleburne Metal Works, owned by one Fred Couch. Plenty of interviews with the parents of the killed; none with the killer’s parents. No mention of unsuccessful attempts made. No word as to whether they were even present in court. Nobody seems to have staked out the Couch mansion, or mansions. No photos of the parents who apparently infected their brat with affluenza at birth, and followed up regular maintenance doses for 16 years.
Judge Jean Boyd, it seems, isn’t the only one passing out free rides.
…but it makes up for that by being useless:
[FISA court judge John] Bates’ heavily redacted opinion suggests that the collection of the internet and email metadata from Americans in bulk provided only minimal relevant information to FBI for generating terrorism investigation leads, the entire purpose of the program. Bates questioned, as a “threshold concern”, the government’s willingness to represent its activities to the Fisa court it cites as the principal check on its surveillance powers.
We’re Number One again! Aren’t you proud?
Juvenile life without parole is banned in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by every single country in the world except three: Somalia, South Sudan and the United States. In Somalia and South Sudan, there are no known cases of people serving a life without parole sentence for a crime committed as a minor. In the U.S., there were around 2,500 as of 2008, according to a Human Rights Watch tally.
From the New York Times:
The defendant, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the only former Guantánamo detainee to be tried in the civilian court system, had appealed his 2010 conviction on grounds that his detention amounted to an unconstitutional delay in bringing him to trial.
The panel acknowledged that the nearly five-year delay was substantial. But, it said, “the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the government may purposely delay trials for significant periods of time, so long as, on balance, the public and private interests render the delay reasonable.”
Which is to say that, on balance, the constitutional right to a speedy trial no longer exists.
Former University of California, Davis policeman John Pike, who stirred public outrage by pepper-spraying peaceful student protesters during a 2011 sit-in against tuition hikes, has been awarded just over $38,000 in worker's compensation from the university for what Pike called psychiatric damage.
The ex-officer said he suffered mental distress after receiving more than 17,000 angry or threatening emails, 10,000 text messages and hundreds of letters when the video of the pepper-spraying went viral…
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Pike had earned more than $110,000 from his job in 2010, citing a database of state worker salaries from the last year for which figures are available.
From Jennifer Senior’s interview of Justice Anthony Scalia in New York Magazine:
Flogging. And what I would say now is, yes, if a state enacted a law permitting flogging, it is immensely stupid, but it is not unconstitutional. A lot of stuff that’s stupid is not unconstitutional. I gave a talk once where I said they ought to pass out to all federal judges a stamp, and the stamp says — Whack! [Pounds his fist.] — STUPID BUT — CONSTITUTIONAL. Whack! [Pounds again.] STUPID BUT — CONSTITUTIONAL! Whack! — STUPID BUT CONSTITUTIONAL … [Laughs.] And then somebody sent me one.
From the Constitution of the United States, Article [IX]:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Flagellation or flogging is the act of methodically beating or whipping (Latin flagellum, “whip”) the human body. Specialised implements for it include rods, switches, the cat o’ nine tails and the sjambok.
On the killing of Trayvon Martin, a couple of random thoughts leading to no useful conclusion:
We had four young children when the U.S. Information Agency sent us to Casablanca in 1966. Before leaving I bought a Saturday night special: a cheap Harrington & Richardson stainless steel snub-nosed, .32-caliber revolver. You never knew what might happen, I figured. Sure enough, next year came the Six Day War and a lot of talk in the papers about mob action against American facilities. But nothing came of it.
From there my family, my revolver, and myself were transferred to Laos, where an actual war was under way. True, it had not touched the capital city since the Kong Le coup in 1960. But still, you never knew. So I strapped on my six-shooter the first time I went hunting for orchids in the jungle outside Vientiane.
The holstered gun felt heavy and awkward on my belt, an annoyance really. Maybe foolish, too. No Pathet Lao patrols had been seen that near Vientiane in years, but then you never knew. What if I did, in fact, run across one? Well, what? Using the gun would surely get me killed. Just having it might. Who hunts orchids with a gun, unless they’re military or CIA? It began to seem wiser to leave my little toy at home, which I did from then on.
Besides, carrying that gun had made me feel like a total asshole, a feeling based on scientific fact. Studies going back centuries have found that carrying a gun around with you is an almost infallible asshole signifier. (Exceptions may be made for military or law enforcement personnel, but only rarely. Never, for big game hunters.)
My second random thought involves the Trayvon Martin jury, which the entire English-speaking world knows was composed entirely of women. Five were white, one Hispanic. They were all racists, of course, because everybody else in the world is racist whether they admit it or not, and why should these six be any different? The question was whether they would be able to set aside their biases, pro or con, under the watchful eye of the blind lady, Justice. Would the fact of being female make them more merciful or more harsh? Toward the victim or toward his killer? And so on.
It occurs to me, though, that the jurors’ decision may have been gender-influenced in an entirely different way. The six women would be unlikely to have much first-hand knowledge of contact sports and street fights. Male jurors might, though, and would have been less inclined to take Zimmerman’s plight seriously. They would know that scalp wounds tend to bleed out of all proportion to their severity — and Zimmerman’s were abrasions that hardly bled at all. They would know that finding yourself on the bottom in a struggle may be undesirable but is seldom fatal. They might feel scorn rather than pity for an older, heavier man who panicked after starting something that he couldn’t finish with a 17-year-old kid. Men might have found it beside the point whether Zimmerman felt his life was being threatened, which is the idiotically low bar set by Florida law. They might have found the more relevant and less moronic consideration to be whether he should have felt his life was in danger.
Basically, male jurors might have asked, didn’t the kid die because Zimmerman was such a pussy?
From the Washington Post:
A federal judge won’t block Florida’s plan to cut the required early voting days from 14 down to eight.
Judge Timothy Corrigan ruled that there was not enough proof that the change burdened the ability of African-Americans to vote. Nor did opponents prove that the law was discriminatory in intent or effect, he wrote.
In addition to cutting the number of mandatory early voting days, the new Florida law eliminates early voting on the Sunday before Election Day, a day when high percentages of minority voters headed to the polls in 2008. (That surge might be in part due to black church activism, known as “Souls to the Polls.”) The new law mandates two Saturdays and one Sunday for early voting, but not the Sunday before Election Day.
You will be astonished to learn that Judge Corrigan was appointed by George W. Bush, who was an American president for eight years despite what the Republican Party would like you to think.
From an article by Judge Corrigan, on a possibly unrelated matter:
Finally, how many of us have faithfully followed the admonition that we “never reject from any consideration personal to ourselves, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay anyone’s cause for lucre or malice”?
From Yahoo News:
CAIRO (Reuters) — An Egyptian court has sentenced an Islamist politician to jail for committing an indecent sexual act in public and assaulting police who arrested him, in a case that could damage the image of his ultra-conservative movement.
Ali Wanees was detained in June on a main road outside Cairo. A young woman wearing a full face veil was sitting on top of him in a parked car, according to police.
Wanees said the woman was a relative and he had been trying to revive her after she suffered from an ailment which he did not explain.
I’m a little shaky on Sharia law, but I don’t see the problem here. It’s not like she was driving without a veil.
Sure enough, justice is blind. Also deaf to reason and dumb. The proof is right there in the New York Times:
…The case involves Malaika Brooks, who was seven months pregnant and driving her 11-year-old son to school in Seattle when she was pulled over for speeding. The police say she was going 32 miles per hour in a school zone; the speed limit was 20.
Ms. Brooks said she would accept a ticket but drew the line at signing it, which state law required at the time. Ms. Brooks thought, wrongly, that signing was an acknowledgment of guilt.
Refusing to sign was a crime, and the two officers on the scene summoned a sergeant, who instructed them to arrest Ms. Brooks. She would not get out of her car.
The situation plainly called for bold action, and Officer Juan M. Ornelas met the challenge by brandishing a Taser and asking Ms. Brooks if she knew what it was.
She did not, but she told Officer Ornelas what she did know. “I have to go to the bathroom,” she said. “I am pregnant. I’m less than 60 days from having my baby.”
The three men assessed the situation and conferred. “Well, don’t do it in her stomach,” one said. “Do it in her thigh.”
Officer Ornelas twisted Ms. Brooks’s arm behind her back. A colleague, Officer Donald M. Jones, applied the Taser to Ms. Brooks’s left thigh, causing her to cry out and honk the car’s horn. A half-minute later, Officer Jones applied the Taser again, now to Ms. Brooks’s left arm. He waited six seconds before pressing it into her neck.
Ms. Brooks fell over, and the officers dragged her into the street, laying her face down and cuffing her hands behind her back…
The officers won a split decision in October from a 10-member panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. The majority said the officers had used excessive force but nonetheless could not be sued because the law on the question was not clear in 2004, when the incident took place. While the ruling left the three officers in the clear, it did put them and their colleagues on notice that some future uses of Tasers would cross a constitutional line and amount to excessive force.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski dissented on the first point, saying Ms. Brooks had been “defiant” and “deaf to reason” and so had brought the incident upon herself.
As for the officers, he said: “They deserve our praise, not the opprobrium of being declared constitutional violators. The City of Seattle should award them commendations for grace under fire.”
Another dissenter, Judge Barry G. Silverman, said “tasing was a humane way to force Brooks out of her car.”
Credit where credit is due. These adornments to the federal bench were appointed by President Reagan (Kozinski) and President Clinton (Silverman).
Not in the Times story, and probably of no significance whatsoever, was the name of the school to which Ms. Brooks was driving her son. It was the African American Academy.
Here’s another (see previous post) of George W. Bush’s adornments to the federal bench:
HELENA — Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull on Wednesday admitted to sending a racially charged email about President Barack Obama from his courthouse chambers…
The subject line of the email, which Cebull sent from his official courthouse email address at 3:42 p.m. Feb. 20, reads: “A MOM’S MEMORY.”
The forwarded text reads as follows:
“Normally I don’t send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.
“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’
“His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’”
WASHINGTON (CNN) — A federal mandate requiring tobacco companies to place graphic images on their products warning of the dangers of smoking was tossed out Wednesday by a judge in Washington, with the judge saying the requirements were a violation of free speech…I pass this along as a particularly striking example of cognitive dissonance. The second sentence directly contradicts the first, as the author hastens toward the greater good of freeing Big Tobacco from Big Government’s shackles. You may be surprised to learn that Leon was appointed to the bench by George W. Bush. Then again, you may not.
“The graphic images here were neither designed to protect the consumer from confusion or deception, nor to increase consumer awareness of smoking risks” said federal judge Richard Leon. “Rather they were crafted to evoke a strong emotional response calculated to provoke the viewer to quit or never start smoking.”
God know what he was telling Freddie Mac, but here's a summary of the clueless Newtster’s most recent attempt on history:
Gingrich, who explained that he was outraged by activist liberal elitist judges imposing their secular values on America (and more generally by “lawyers” who have come “to think that they can dictate to the rest of us”), declared that as president he would simply ignore Supreme Court decisions he didn’t like, abolish Federal appeals courts whose “anti-American” judges ruled in ways he didn’t like, and encourage Congress to subpoena judges to explain their decisions.
He claimed that Lincoln had similarly “just ignored” the Dred Scott decision, when he issued his Emancipation Proclamation; he said that Jefferson had similarly abolished Federal circuit courts whose judges he opposed; and he asserted that Jackson and FDR had also taken stances against what he declared to be the spurious doctrine of “judicial supremacy”— that the courts can pass judgment on the constitutionality of presidential actions or acts of Congress.
He insisted that the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision on detainees at Guantanamo could be declared “null and void” by the president “because it infringes on my duties as commander in chief to protect the country.”
He wrapped up his case by invoking those infallible and all-seeing guides, the Founding Fathers, who he said “were very distrustful of judges, saw them as an elite instrument of government designed to oppress people. And, as a result, consciously made the judicial branch the third branch and the weakest branch.”
You knew instinctively, of course, that all this was just more waste product from the GOP’s current White Hope (its Black Hope having self-destructed). But you probably didn’t have the time or inclination to do exploratory surgery. However The Liberal Curmudgeon (from which the above excerpt comes) has done a thorough dissection for you; sadly, the patient did not survive.
The entire legal structure, in an important sense, rests on irresponsibility. What is “precedent” but a passing of the buck? What is “originalism” but hiding behind the Founding Fathers?
Richard A. Posner, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a Reagan appointee, is nobody’s idea of a liberal. But he is everybody’s idea of a thinker, as you can discover by reading his book, Overcoming Law.
In a brilliant chapter called “Bork and Beethoven,” here’s what Judge Posner has to say about the childish and ahistorical theory of orginalism with which Justices Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia rationalize their prejudices:
Originalism is not an analytic method; it is a rhetoric that can be used to support any result a judge wants to reach. The conservative libertarians whom Bork criticizes (Richard Epstein and Bernard Siegan) are originalists; his disagreement with them is not over method, but over result. The Dred Scott decision — to Bork, the very fount of modern judicial activism — is permeated by originalist rhetoric…
Some of the most activist judges, whether of the right or of the left, whether named Taney or Black, have been among the judges most drawn to the rhetoric of originalism. For it is a magnificent disguise. The judge can do the wildest things, all the while presenting himself as the passive agent of the sainted Founders — don’t argue with me, argue with Them.
From McClatchy Newspapers:
WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors pursuing the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens engaged in “significant, widespread and, at times, intentional” misconduct but should not face criminal contempt charges, a special court investigator has concluded.
In a 500-page report, whose conclusions were made public Monday by a federal judge, special investigator Henry Schuelke III determined that prosecutors systematically withheld potentially useful information from Stevens’ defense team…
Nonetheless, after reviewing an estimated 150,000 documents and conducting numerous interviews, Schuelke concluded that criminal contempt charges should not be brought against the prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. The prosecutors, Schuelke reasoned, had not disobeyed a direct order.
“Because the court accepted the prosecutors’ repeated assertions that they were complying with their obligations and proceeding in good faith, the court did not issue a ‘clear and unequivocal’ order directing the attorneys to follow the law,” Sullivan stated.
The unspoken but inescapable assumption here is that federal prosecutors will only follow the law they are sworn to uphold if given a direct order to do so by a judge. It is equally depressing to see that nobody involved seemed to notice that the prosecutors repeatedly perjured themselves in court. Don’t try this at home, kids.
Or on the road. Eighty in a 40 mile zone? Sure I saw the sign, officer, but how can I be expected to obey the law when you didn’t order me directly to?
From the New Mexico Independent:
Though medical marijuana is legal in New Mexico, the drug is still regarded as an illegal scheduled substance by the federal government. Given the federal government sets the rules on who can own guns, medicinal marijuana smokers of this state and 15 others are barred from owning guns.
The point was reiterated in a late September letter written (PDF) by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and sent to federal firearms licensees. Owners of gun stores are instructed to withhold the sale of arms or munitions to anyone suspected of having an interaction or addiction to scheduled drugs, including marijuana. The letter specifies individuals known to have a medicinal marijuana card can be reasonably assumed to be an abuser of a controlled substance and gun shop owners must refuse purchase.
Moreover, the letter affirms the illegality of a medicinal marijuana smoker purchasing weapons. Already, those who seek to purchase firearms or ammunition must fill out ATF Form 4473. Question 11.e. specifically asks: “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” Answering ‘yes’ legally bars the individual from purchasing guns or ammunition.
The ATF letter several times referred to marijuana as an addictive drug. According to a summary of the book The Science of Marijuana (2008) in Psychology Today, a person’s risk of developing an addiction to marijuana is roughly 9 percent, compared to 33 percent for tobacco users and 15 percent for alcohol users.
From the New York Times:
Neither critique of the C.I.A. is new. In fact, some of the information that the agency argues is classified, according to two people who have seen the correspondence between the F.B.I. and C.I.A., has previously been disclosed in open Congressional hearings, the report of the national commission on 9/11 and even the 2007 memoir of George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director…
A spokeswoman for the C.I.A., Jennifer Youngblood, said, “The suggestion that the Central Intelligence Agency has requested redactions on this publication because it doesn’t like the content is ridiculous. The C.I.A.’s pre-publication review process looks solely at the issue of whether information is classified.”
She noted that under the law, “Just because something is in the public domain doesn’t mean it’s been officially released or declassified by the U.S. government.”
Somehow I missed this beauty when it first came out. In case you did, too, the full story is here. As far as I can tell from Google, the case has not yet been resolved in court.
RALEIGH, N.C. — A Bible-waving preacher protesting at a gay pride event was kissed on the cheek by a female gay rights supporter — a 74-year-old woman who was charged with simple assault, with the preacher’s blessing.
Joan Parker admits she kissed a preacher on the cheek at the Saturday event in Salisbury, N.C., proclaimed by the mayor as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Day.
“He was just waving his arms and has a Bible in one hand, up and down, and screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘sodomites’ and ‘you’re going to hell,’” Parker said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “I thought he needed a hug. So I gave him a hug…”
Rory Collins, police chief in the town located about 45 miles northeast of Charlotte, said Belcher wanted to press charges, which he hadn’t expected. Belcher contends police would have charged him if he had touched a 74-year-old woman and that he didn’t personally pursue charges…
Belcher contends the kiss “was just one of many attempts to silence the preaching to those in need of salvation who practice a death style that they call a lifestyle.”
The criminal code is brutally harsh about assigning responsibility where the lower orders are concerned. The kid sitting outside in the car while the others rob a convenience store is responsible for the clerk’s death, even if he didn’t know she was killed. So is the grandmother or girl friend who harbors the suspect knowing of his crime.
Try this on Goldman Sachs, AIG, Countrywide, or BP. The jails would burst. The shakiest entrapment and encitement tactics are routinely used against suspected terrorists, but almost never against bankers or CEOs or industrial polluters. Not to report a crime is a crime for you, but not for them. Shielding a criminal makes you a criminal, but not them.
Where’s the fairness? Fairness is for suckers. Grow up.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was ticketed by U.S. Park Police after being found responsible for a four-car traffic accident on his way to the high court Tuesday morning.
The incident occurred just before 9 a.m. on the southbound George Washington Parkway across the Potomac River from Washington in Virginia. Scalia reportedly rear-ended another driver who had stopped in traffic, and two other vehicles followed behind. No one was injured.
Mark Wilson reminds me that in 2001 I posted an item under the headline “Scofflaw Jurist OKs Soccer Mom’s Bust,” which I reprint below to save you the trouble of following its link. Nothing, it seems, is beneath plutocracy’s mouthpiece — including but not limited to the law.
In 1997 a soccer mom named Gail Atwater was bringing her two young children back from practice. She was almost home, travelling 15 miles an hour, when a Lago Vista, Texas, police officer stopped her pickup because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt.
The policeman arrested her in front of her children, handcuffed her, searched the truck, and took her to jail. There she was locked in a cell until she came up with a $310 bond for a $50 misdemeanor. She got home to find that on top of everything else, her truck had been towed.
It was okay, though.
Because on April 24, 2001, the United States Supreme Court decided, 5-4, that none of this violated Ms. Atwater’s constitutional right to be free of “unreasonable searches and seizures.” Among the majority, as is usual when the Bill of Rights is being undermined, was Justice Antonin Scalia.
On December 14, 2000, the New York Times ran the following copyrighted pictures of three Supreme Court justices leaving for home after the Court appointed George W. Bush president. The one on the bottom, the only one not wearing his seat belt, is Antonin Scalia. It was at that time, and had been since 1985, illegal under Section 40-1602 of the District of Columbia code to drive without a seat belt in place. Justice Scalia was not, however, seized, cuffed and jailed. Luckily for him, he had not yet got around to ruling that the Constitution permitted such a thing.
…is now the law of the land as far as I can see. Is there any other way to interpret this?
Washington (CNN) — The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a condemned Georgia inmate’s request that his execution be delayed as he attempts to prove his “actual innocence…”
[Troy] Davis was granted a stay of execution by the U.S. Supreme Court two hours before he was to be put to death in 2008, and the court in 2009 ordered the federal District Court to take another look at the case.
That court, after holding a hearing to review evidence, ruled in August that Davis “failed to show actual innocence” in the case. The District Court suggested that, for procedural reasons, Davis should take his appeal of its ruling directly to the Supreme Court…
Witnesses said Davis, then 19, and two others were harassing a homeless man in a Burger King parking lot when off-duty officer Mark MacPhail came to the man’s assistance. They testified that Davis shot MacPhail twice and fled.
Since Davis’ conviction in 1991, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted their testimony. No physical evidence was presented linking Davis to the killing of the policeman.
Prominent figures ranging from the pope to the musical group Indigo Girls have asked Georgia to grant Davis a new trial. Other supporters include celebrities Susan Sarandon and Harry Belafonte; world leaders such as former President Carter and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu; and former and current U.S. lawmakers Bob Barr, Carol Moseley Braun and John Lewis.
…With or without the 50 inmates, California will spend $10 billion a year on prisons, more than it spends on the University of California and California State University systems combined.
Until California politicians and voters confront the costs of the three-strikes sentencing law, we will be a little like Roney Nunez, the demented 85-year-old prisoner who reached down from his wheelchair and scratched the surface.
In 1960 I wrote a mystery which went unpublished because I was too young and stupid to make a handful of changes the editor wanted.
By now I barely remember the plot, except that the murder somehow hinged on an abortion doctor’s efforts to avoid prison — abortion being illegal although common in most states.
The idea came to me from my stepfather, who then lived in Virginia’s horse country. A gynecologist friend of his was correctly suspected of performing abortions, and the more respectable physicians of Rappahannock County called an unofficial meeting of the local power structure to decide how to deal with this outrage.
In the middle of this, the abortionist himself showed up and took the floor. “I thought I might be able to help you fellows out,” he said, and began to list the wives and daughters of the gentry assembled on whom he had performed abortions. He had barely begun when the sense of the meeting was discovered to be that the state police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney should immediately turn their attention to other matters.
For years my manuscript lay quietly in various attics, and in 1973 Roe v. Wade gave it the final coup de grâce. The book’s motive for murder would now seem a quaint anachronism, like speakeasies or the Hays Office.
But time, in the United States, has a way of running backwards—
Though Personhood USA has a reach into every state — and has collected almost 1 million signatures supporting personhood legislation throughout the country — the umbrella organization and its affiliates are currently throwing the most effort at Mississippi, North Dakota, Iowa, Montana and Nebraska.
On Valentine’s Day, Personhood began a matching program and challenged supporters to help raise $50,000 to make $100,000 to push anti-abortion rights legislation in North Dakota, Montana, Iowa and Mississippi. Today is the last day of the challenge.
Mississippi is the biggest target, as it has a personhood amendment on the ballot that will get a vote in November. If passed, the constitutional amendment would effectively make abortion illegal.
—and now has caught up with my poor little manuscript. Unfortunately, though, I can’t find the damned thing.
Another item for your cognitive dissonance file:
(CNN) — Amid a number of bills filed in Texas that address the issue of illegal immigration, one, proposed by Republican state Rep. Debbie Riddle, stands out.
As proposed, House Bill 2012 would create tough state punishments for those who “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” hire an unauthorized immigrant. Violators could face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
But it is an exception included in the bill that is drawing attention. Those who hire unauthorized immigrants would be in violation of the law — unless they are hiring a maid, a lawn caretaker or another houseworker.
These sorts of stories must seem incomprehensible to the more adult portions of the world:
The only U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental, a chemical used in executions, said today it will stop making the product.Look, people, we’re not putting poor old Rover to sleep here so he won’t hurt any more. We’re killing another human being and we don’t actually give a good goddamn whether it hurts him or not. We just don’t want it to hurt us. So we pretend it’s nothing but a painless medical procedure, sterile and strictly scientific. All done as Baby Jesus would do it, with loving concern for the poor sinner’s comfort.
Hospira, based in Lake Forest, Illinois, said it never intended for its chemical to be used to kill people. It intended to start making sodium thiopental at a plant in Italy, but Italian authorities required the company to guarantee the chemical would not be used in executions, Hospira said on its website… Hospira suspended production of the drug in 2009, and many state prison systems have run out, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Only a nation fundamentally childish could take any of this seriously. You want quick and painless? Luckily for you, extensive field work was carried out during the last century on modern, efficient, and economical ways of executing human beings. And — not that Stalin or Hitler or Mao cared — the winning technique just happened to be swift, sure, and painless. Here’s how the Mafia describes it: “Two in the head and you know he’s dead.”
Grow up for once in your life, America. The condemned man isn’t Rover, and you aren’t putting him gently to sleep so he can wake up in Doggy Heaven. Stop acting like you care, because you don’t. Or you wouldn’t be killing the guy in the first place.
For a certain type of story, the place you want to go is the Daily Mail. The legal troubles in Sweden of Julian Assange are that type of story. Sure enough, the Mail serves up the most complete version I’ve seen anywhere. Read it. You know you want to.
CNN’s 360 Degrees gives the third one to a logician from Arizona, State Senator Russell Pearce:
PEARCE: It’s wrong. It’s unconstitutional.
PAUL BEGALA: The 14th Amendment...
ANDERSON COOPER: Paul, go ahead.
PEARCE: Wait. Wait. You ask me why I wanted to change it. Let me tell you why. Let me tell you why.
BEGALA: The 14th Amendment is the Constitution. The 14th Amendment can’t be unconstitutional, Senator. It is the Constitution.
[Ed. note: To be fair, though, the language is pretty ambiguous: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”]
Senator Tom Coburn, who completed his legal studies at Oklahoma State University Medical School in 1983, knows as much about the law as a hog knows about Sunday. Nonetheless—
Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) asked if Ms. Kagan agreed with Critical Legal Studies, a left-leaning movement that flourished at Harvard Law School in the 1980s. CLS believed the U.S. legal system abetted traditional social and economic hierarchies, perpetuating an inequitable distribution of wealth and power.
“No,” Ms. Kagan wrote. “I do not agree with any of the ways of understanding law and the legal system that are described above.”
Likewise, Mr. Coburn asked if she “ascribed” to Legal Realism, an antecedent of critical studies developed in the 1920s by such figures as Jerome Frank, a federal appeals judge and former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman. Legal Realism rejected the 19th century view that law was akin to a science with unchanging principles that were discovered over time, and instead contended that law was a human creation that reflected human biases and imperfections.
“No,” Ms. Kagan replied.
The answer showed her to be either a liar or a fool. Liar is more probable. Her job at that moment was not to tell the truth but to get past the Senate and onto the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John G. Roberts had earlier showed her how the thing was done when he babbled on, at his own confirmation hearings, about baseball umpires and his undying fealty to the sanctity of legal precedent.
To anyone who is, unlike Coburn, actually interested in legal realism, I recommend reading not only Jerome Frank, but also Thurman W. Arnold, James Harvey Robinson, John T. Noonan, Jr., and Fred Rodell. Arnold, the most entertaining of these, is pictured below.
From Findlay, Ohio, comes news that:
(CNN) — The state board that licenses funeral homes in Ohio has opened an investigation into a funeral director in Findlay, Ohio, who is accused of mishandling a corpse, being naked in public and wearing the jacket of a deceased man in front of his family…
Other allegations against Routson include being intoxicated or addicted to illegal drugs, not properly disposing of waste materials and failing to properly sterilize instruments used in embalming. He’s also accused of being naked in public during business hours, threatening and/or harassing employees and partially embalming a corpse and then leaving it unrefrigerated for 13 days.
Which leaves hanging the main question: Why should a guy have to sterilize his embalming instruments anyway?
…where it is no longer legal to hold you down and insert a microchip in your head:
In Gov. Roy Barnes’ stump speech, the bill has become a routine example of the Republican tendency to attack problems that don’t exist, and ignore the ones that do. Besides, Barnes argues, if someone holds him down to insert a microchip in his head, “it should be more than a damned misdemeanor.”
Three states have instituted bans, and others have considered the legislation. In Virginia, a bill supporter declared microchips to be the “666” mark of the beast referred to in the Book of Revelation…
At the House hearing, state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Kennesaw), who is shouldering the legislation in the House, spoke earnestly for better than a half hour on microchips as a literal invasion of privacy.
He was followed by a hefty woman who described herself as a resident of DeKalb County. “I’m also one of the people in Georgia who has a microchip,” the woman said. Slowly, she began to lead the assembled lawmakers down a path they didn’t want to take.
Microchips, the woman began, “infringe on issues that are fundamental to our very existence. Our rights to privacy, our rights to bodily integrity, the right to say no to foreign objects being put in our body.”
She spoke of the “right to work without being tortured by co-workers who are activating these microchips by using their cell phones and other electronic devices.”
She continued. “Microchips are like little beepers. Just imagine, if you will, having a beeper in your rectum or genital area, the most sensitive area of your body. And your beeper numbers displayed on billboards throughout the city. All done without your permission,” she said.
It was not funny, and no one laughed.
“Ma’am, did you say you have a microchip?” asked state Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold).
“Yes, I do. This microchip was put in my vaginal-rectum area,” she replied. Setzler, the sponsoring lawmaker, sat next to the witness — his head bowed.
“You’re saying this was involuntary?” Weldon continued. The woman said she had been pushing a court case through the system for the last eight years to have the device removed.
Wendell Willard (R-Atlanta), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, picked up the questioning. “Who implanted this in you?” he asked.
“Researchers with the federal government,” she said.
“And who in the federal government implanted it?” Willard asked.
“The Department of Defense.”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
The woman was allowed to go about her business, and the House Judiciary Committee approved passage of SB 235.
…or did you already know that? From today’s New York Times:
Lawyers for the father of a Marine who died in Iraq say a court has ordered him to pay legal costs for the anti-gay protesters who picketed his son’s funeral. The protesters are led by Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. The father, Albert Snyder of York, Pa., had won a $5 million verdict against Mr. Phelps, but it was thrown out on appeal. On Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Maryland, ordered Mr. Snyder to pay the costs of Mr. Phelps’s appeal.
The United States Supreme Court agreed earlier this month to consider whether the protesters’ provocative messages, which include phrases like “Thank God for dead soldiers,” are protected by the First Amendment. Members of the church maintain that God hates homosexuality and that the death of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is God’s way of punishing the United States for its tolerance of it.
Bart Stupak might want to beef up his obstructionism by weighing down the health care bill with the language William Blum suggests below. Go for it, Bart. There are innocent lives to be saved!
About half the states in the US require that a woman seeking an abortion be told certain things before she can obtain the medical procedure. In South Dakota, for example, until a few months ago, staff was required to tell women: “The abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being”; the pregnant woman has “an existing relationship with that unborn human being,” a relationship protected by the U.S. Constitution and the laws of South Dakota; and a “known medical risk” of abortion is an “increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide.”
…I'd like to suggest that before a young American man or woman can enlist in the armed forces s/he must be told the following by the staff of the military recruitment office:
“The United States is at war [this statement is always factually correct]. You will likely be sent to a battlefield where you will be expected to do your best to terminate the lives of whole, separate, unique, living human beings you know nothing about and who have never done you or your country any harm. You may in the process lose an arm or a leg. Or your life. If you come home alive and with all your body parts intact there’s a good chance you will be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Do not expect the government to provide you particularly good care for that, or any care at all. In any case, you may wind up physically abusing your spouse and children and/or others, killing various individuals, abusing drugs and/or alcohol, and having an increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide.
“No matter how bad a condition you may be in, the Pentagon may send you back to the battlefield for another tour of duty. They call this ‘stop-loss’. Your only alternative may be to go AWOL. Do you have any friends in Canada? And don’t ever ask any of your officers what we’re fighting for. Even the generals don’t know. In fact, the generals especially don’t know. They would never have reached their high position if they had been able to go beyond the propaganda we’re all fed, the same propaganda that has influenced you to come to this office.”
…if you’re a health insurance company. Astonishing. Something else I unaccountably never knew:
As the debate over health care reform rages on, there’s been almost no attention to the fact that health and medical malpractice insurance companies since 1945 have been exempt from the federal antitrust laws aimed at keeping every other private market competitive. The McCarran-Ferguson Act has allowed insurance companies to dominate markets and reap enormous profits, according to several witnesses who testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this morning.
As Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) explained at the hearing, the health insurance industry — unlike any other private industry in the country — is allowed to engage in price fixing, bid rigging and market allocation, all of which would violate the law if any other sort of company did it. Last month Leahy introduced the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009, which would repeal the antitrust exemption for health insurance and medical malpractice insurance providers. Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) are co-sponsors.
Martha Bridegam sends along this emanation from Arkansas — another ripe specimen from the political cesspool out of which Bill Clinton hoisted himself, and which keeps trying to drag him back.
The story is majestic in its improbability. Imagine a would-be jailhouse smuggler filling up a Doritos bag with knives and needles and trying to sneak it past the guards. Imagine further that this smuggler is the sworn enemy of the prison administration.
By contrast, imagine this: A frequent and hated visitor is known to grab a bag of Doritos from the machine on her way in. A malevolent and dimwitted guard suggests leaving a Doritos bag full of contraband in the bin. Another guard, this one with an IQ that breaks into three digits but barely, points out that anyone smart enough to have been White House chief of staff might notice that the bag was (A) open, (B) clanked, and (C) weighed a lot more than a handful of Doritos.
Why not let the bitch buy her usual bag, take it from her for the usual X-ray, and then just replace it with a bag full of the tattooing gear we confiscated last week?
Note also the ridiculous but vicious overcharging — a separate felony count for each of the 48 “tattoo needles” — which has become customary in our ridiculous but vicious criminal justice system, and not just in Arkansas.
Read all about it here.
I have a fat and constantly growing file of FBI stupidity, inefficiency, incompetence, bribery, theft, entrapment, perjury, burglary, and murder. But this — this — still surprised. To think of such a thing requires a mind of vileness beyond the imagination of decent people. To carry it out is unspeakable.
…But Boyd, a 41-year-old mother of five and U.S.-born convert to Islam, reserved her sharpest comments for what she called a cruel trap that law enforcement authorities set up to get her out of her house Monday while agents scoured it for documents after the arrest of her husband, two sons and four other men.
Boyd, whose family lives in the Johnston County community of Willow Spring, described a harrowing experience Monday afternoon when she answered the door to find a man she thought was a family friend wearing a shirt that appeared to be bloodied. He told her that Daniel and their three sons, Dylan, Noah and Zakariya, were in a serious car crash. He asked her to get into a Highway Patrol cruiser that would take her to Duke Hospital, where they were being treated.
Boyd summoned her daughter and pregnant daughter-in-law. They wrapped their heads in scarves, grabbed their Qurans and flew out the door. For Boyd, it was a particularly painful experience. Her 16-year-old son, Luqman, died in a car crash near their home in 2007.
When they arrived at Duke Hospital, the cruiser took them to a construction site at the rear of the facility. A man dressed as a doctor came out and asked whether she was the wife. When she said yes, he extended his hand. She told him she does not shake men’s hands. He then grabbed her wrist and handcuffed her.
“I’m not a doctor. I’m an agent and your family is not in the hospital,” he told her. “You’re being detained, and you need to cooperate with us.”
Boyd estimates she was then surrounded by 30 agents who frisked her and asked whether she had weapons or weapons of mass destruction…
U.S. District Attorney George E. B. Holding declined to respond to Boyd’s version. “I am sticking to the four corners of the indictment. We try our cases in court and won’t go back and forth before then,” he said Tuesday.
Holding, you will be unsurprised to learn, is a piece of legal litter left over from the George W. Bush administration. He is a fat rich kid who owes his job to that unspeakable embarrassment from North Carolina, the late Senator Jesse Helms.
One of Obama’s most puzzling failures has been leaving so many George Holdings in their U.S. Attorney jobs, bad aftertastes from the most disgraceful period in the history of the Justice Department. When you move into a new house, it’s a good idea to clear out the old owner's garbage.
We are, as a nation, when it comes to sex, deeply insane. I am the father of five sons, all of whom at one point or another were both ten and fifteen years old. If anything so frightful, so revolting, so deeply scarring as this had happened to any of them at the hands of a pervert so vicious, I would not have rested until she was sentenced to harsh psychiatric evaluation followed by at least six weeks of group therapy, perhaps alongside the Prime Minister of Italy.
Under state statute, the only prison term possible for the former Tacoma school teacher, convicted of sex crimes involving a 10-year-old student and his older brother, was 25 years to life in prison…
Prosecutors contended that Rice had a sexual relationship with the 10-year-old boy for several months while she was a teacher at Tacoma’s McKinley Elementary School. The ordeal came to light in August 2007, when Rice sneaked the boy out of his home and drove him to Ellensburg. The two had sex at a rest stop before she returned him to his home, court documents alleged.
During the course of the investigation, detectives learned Rice also had sex twice with the boy’s older brother in July 2007. The boy was 15 at the time.
Steiner convicted Rice in April of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree child molestation and two counts of third-degree rape. He found the kidnapping and child molestation charges were predatory offenses because the victim was a student. The predatory designation – required when a teacher is accused of certain sex crimes – meant Rice faced stiffer sentencing requirements.
Wonderful post on unions by Joe Bageant today. The taste below contains a quote — the one about one man, one vote — that was new to me. The unnamed speaker had nothing to worry about. In two short years the Supreme Court would solve his problem by ruling in Buckley v. Valeo that money was the functional equivalent of votes: the more of the former you had, the more of the latter you could buy.
If a few pricks and gangsters have occasionally seized power over the dignity of labor, countless more calculating, bloodless and malevolent pricks — the capitalist elites — have always held most of the cards — Gould could sneer, “I can always hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” And why a speaker at the U.S. Business Conference Board in 1974 could arrogantly declare, “One man, one vote has undermined the power of business in all capitalist countries since World War II.” And why that same year Business Week magazine said, “It will be a hard pill for many Americans to swallow — the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more. Nothing in modern economic history compares with the selling job that must now be done to make people accept this new reality.”
Sparky Satori at Shorts and Pants reminds us of a former racist activist on the Supreme Court — Chief Justice William Rehnquist. A superior work of snark, found in its entirety here.
November of last year, it was assumed that the USofA had finally vanquished the lingering ghosts of racism and was poised on the cusp of a new post-racial dawn. The long dark night of lynching and discrimination was finally over. “Huzzah!” bleated the media, smugly self-congratulatory.
But that was then. This is worse. And leave it to the hyper-sensitive Republicans to sniff out whiffs of the new racism being foisted upon the nation by its first black President. GOP stalwarts Newt Gringrich and Rush Limbaugh were quick to alert the country to a leading practitioner of this new racism, Sonia “Maria” Sotomayor ["SoSo" to her non-friends]. But she’s not your average garden-variety racist, according to the GOP braintrust. Per Newt and Rush, she is a “reverse racist,” rarer than even the “Albino Negro.” This alone should disqualify her from sitting on the Supreme Court, which has never, ever had any benchers who suffered from an iota of racial insensitivity…
Here’s a snippet from the Nixon tapes to give you an idea of the vetting process from which Rehnquist emerged. Full transcript here. As always with Nixon, fascinating stuff. Sure he was evil, but nobody ever called him dumb.
RMN: Yeah, all right, call me back when you get it. But remember, let’s figure on the Rehnquist thing. The political mileage basically is the same kind of mileage if we were to go with Smith. The idea being that we are appointing a highly qualified man. That’s really what it gets down to.
[Attorney General] John Mitchell: Yeah.
RMN: And also he doesn’t smack of the corporate lawyer as much as Smith.
JM: No, he’s more of a general practitioner.
RMN: Incidentally, what is Rehnquist? I suppose he’s a damn Protestant?
JM: I’m sure of that. He’s just as WASPish as WASPish can be.
RMN: Yeah, well, that’s too damn bad. Tell him to change his religion.
JM: All right, I’ll get him baptized this afternoon.
RMN: Well, get him baptized and castrated, no, they don’t do that, I mean they circumcise— no, that’s the Jews. Well anyway, whatever he is, get him changed.
But to detractors, Judge Sotomayor’s sharp-tongued and occasionally combative manner — some lawyers have described her as “difficult” and “nasty” — raises questions about her judicial temperament and willingness to listen. Her demeanor on the bench is an issue that conservatives opposed to her nomination see as a potential vulnerability — and one that Mr. Obama carefully considered before selecting her…
This cheap bullshit requires only a one-word answer: Scalia.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, as we know. It would be foolish, for instance, to rely on your own experience when hiring law clerks. Just ask Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice.
So here’s Scalia speaking to students at the American University Washington College of Law on April 24:
But then he turned to a discussion of the student’s chances of obtaining the ultimate credential in American law, a clerkship with a Supreme Court justice. Not good, he said.
“By and large,” he said, “I’m going to be picking from the law schools that basically are the hardest to get into. They admit the best and the brightest, and they may not teach very well, but you can’t make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse. If they come in the best and the brightest, they’re probably going to leave the best and the brightest, O.K.?”
And here’s Scalia, still speaking to students at the American University Washington College of Law on April 24:
“One of my former clerks whom I am the most proud of now sits on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals” in Cincinnati, the justice said, referring to Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton. But Justice Scalia explained that Mr. Sutton had been hired by Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. after his retirement and then helped out in Justice Scalia’s chambers.
“I wouldn’t have hired Jeff Sutton,” Justice Scalia said. “For God’s sake, he went to Ohio State! And he’s one of the very best law clerks I ever had.”
Before leaving this discussion of the Supreme Court’s jester, I’ll point out that “the best and the brightest” described, in David Halberstam’s book of that name, the moral midgets from Harvard and Yale who lied us into the Vietnam War.
I am particularly sickened by stories like this because one of my sons is a physician who has spent the last 20 years of his life preparing for a career in the management of pain.
That he could be jailed by some cruel and ambitious prosecutor is appalling. That his equally innocent patients could be sentenced to a life of pain by a cruel system of criminal “justice” gone mad is even worse.
Presently, I face going to a Federal penitentiary for the next 24 years and eight months without possibility of parole for a CRIME THAT NEVER HAPPENED. My family is devastated, not only because I’m facing a prison term, but they witnessed what my wife of 23 years and I went through during the grueling years of my medical training, at such an advanced age (I graduated medical school at age 42). It makes no sense that I, as a 53 year old physician, would suddenly get involved in the drug trade when I’ve spent years lecturing to students about the abuse of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. I also spoke about teenage pregnancy, getting an advanced education (doesn’t have to be college). As an aside…imagine a product of the ghetto, becoming a board certified physician, Chief of Staff of a hospital, and Chairman of the Alabama Army National Guard Medical Board! Yet, the DEA and the U.S. Justice Department would have the general public believe that I was a common street-level drug dealer. What “profile” were they using?
For more of The Agitator’s coverage of pain treatment miscarriages of justice, go here and scroll around. Frightening stuff. A sample:
One red flag the government uses, for example, is to look for physicians who simply prescribe a raw number of pills that investigators say is too high, a practice pain advocates say has made doctors afraid of engaging in the high-dose opiate therapy course of chronic pain treatment that’s been so effective. Other red flags include doctors who spend what investigators say is too little time with patients to make an accurate diagnosis, a problem pain advocates say has become increasingly common not because more doctors are selling scripts to addicts and drug dealers, but because the few doctors who do still treat chronic pain are overwhelmed with patients whose former doctors have been arrested, stripped of their licenses, or run out of business by investigations.
In August of 2006 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a Justice Department lawyer named Steven G. Bradbury confessed his confusion over certain obscure terms used in the Geneva Conventions:
Although many of the provisions of Common Article 3 prohibit actions that are universally condemned, such as “murder,” “mutilation,” “torture,” and the “taking of hostages,” it is undeniable that some of the terms in Common Article 3 are inherently vague. For example, Common Article 3 prohibits “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment,” a phrase that is susceptible of uncertain and unpredictable application.
Bradbury was being too modest, however. More than a year before, he had already settled on at least one thing that does not constitute humiliation. Here it is, from a memo in May of 2005 to John A. Rizzo, a lawyer for the Central Intelligence Agency:
If the detainee is clothed, he wears an adult diaper under his pants. Detainees subject to sleep deprivation who are also subject to nudity as a separate interrogation technique will at times be nude and wearing a diaper.
If the detainee is wearing a diaper, it is checked regularly and changed as necessary. The use of the diaper is for sanitary and health purposes of the detainee; it is not used for the purpose of humiliating the detainee, and it is not considered to be an interrogation technique. The detainee’s skin condition is monitored, and diapers are changed as needed so that the detainee does not remain in a soiled diaper.…
This makes the matter plain. Forcing a prisoner to defecate in diapers while his jailers watch is not done with intent to humiliate, but simply to keep the man clean and healthy.
Bradbury does not address the possibility of collateral humiliation because for him intent is the main thing at issue. I find this argument convincing, and plan to use it if I am ever charged with murder for shooting Mr. Bradbury through the heart while intending merely to perforate his bowels.
…and the Honorable Jay S. Bybee is perhaps up around the gills somewhere, behind such moral vacuums as George Tenet, Richard Cheney and, at the very tippy-top where the hook ought to go but won’t, George W. Bush.
Following his spell as a torture enabler at the Justice Department the Honorable Bybee was appointed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals with the enthusiastic support of Senator Harry Reid and Senator Charles Schumer. I think we should all know more about the Honorable Bybee, and I will supply it later. Meanwhile, from The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — The first use of waterboarding and other rough treatment against a prisoner from Al Qaeda was ordered by senior Central Intelligence Agency officials despite the belief of interrogators that the prisoner had already told them all he knew, according to former intelligence officials and a footnote in a newly released legal memorandum…
Abu Zubaydah had provided much valuable information under less severe treatment, and the harsher handling produced no breakthroughs, according to one former intelligence official with direct knowledge of the case. Instead, watching his torment caused great distress to his captors, the official said…
The legal basis for this treatment is uncertain, but lawyers at C.I.A. headquarters were in constant touch with interrogators, as well as with Mr. Bybee’s subordinate in the Office of Legal Counsel, John C. Yoo, who was drafting memos on the legal limits of interrogation…
Brady Bonk asks, as should we all:
If “just following orders” is now in force, should the courts-martial of Lynndie England, Ivan Frederick, Charles Graner, Javal Davis, Megan Ambuhl, Sabrina Harman, Jeremy Sivits not be reconsidered?
In case you’ve always wanted a look inside Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s head, and who hasn’t, take a look at this. Truly scary stuff. Brief sample:
“I’m sure there are other things that have happened,” he said, wrapping up his answer. “So I would have to say just off the top of my head the Fourteenth Amendment. And I bet you someone’s going to hear that and say, well, no, it’s the dormant commerce clause or something.”
As to Thomas’s strange obsession with dishwashers, I won’t have anything useful to say until I have a chance to consult with my son Matt. He is a psychiatrist.
Meanwhile, for more on the man George Herbert Walker Bush considered to be the best-qualified candidate for the Supreme Court in America, see The Pubic Hair Test.
Final proof that we are, as a nation, mad:
(CNN) -- A former prison secretary has been sentenced to six months in federal prison for having sex with an inmate she was supposed to be supervising, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in the District of Colorado said Friday.
Janine Sligar, 47, of Wray, Colorado, was sentenced Thursday for sexual abuse of a ward. After serving her sentence, she will serve five years of supervised release and must register as a sex offender, spokesman Jeff Dorschner said in a news release…
According to the plea agreement, Sligar, a 14-year Bureau of Prisons veteran, said she and inmate Eric McClain met in February 2007, when he was assigned to clean her office.
“They began to have conversations and realized they had similar interests,” the plea agreement said.
That summer, they initiated a sexual relationship that included 10 to 20 sessions of oral sex and sexual intercourse, ending in October 2007, it said.
Remarkably, this is from a former federal judge and the current attorney general of the United States. Something very similar could have been said, and no doubt was, by the legal enablers working for Hitler, Stalin, and the Spanish Inquisition.
“There is absolutely no evidence anybody who rendered a legal opinion either with respect to surveillance or with respect to interrogation policy did so for any reason other than to protect the security of the country and in the belief that he or she was doing something lawful,” Mukasey said.
Try it yourself the next time you’re picked up for speeding. Explain to the the cop that your lawyer told you the speed limit was 95 and let me know how it works out.
I was married to a lady named Justice when I passed the Bar, the Committee on Character and Fitness confirmed my credentials and I took the lawyers oath in 1982. The old lady and I have been informally divorced for a number of years, but I continue to find Scott Horton’s blog, Harper’s No Comment to be the finest legal blog on the internet. There are a number of other non-legal blogs that I consider “the finest” of their ilk, including James Fallows’s blog at The Atlantic Magazine.
Today Mr. Horton delivers up another one of his fine and precisely worded works at his blog. A portion of the post follows, but to read the whole thing and get the included links necessary to understand the words provided here, you will need to directly visit Mr. Horton’s latest blog post. I provide herein a portion of Mr. Horton’s work from his blog in the space below:
Saturday the New York Times alerts us to a new opinion issued deep in the bowels of the Bush Justice Department. The decision emanates from the Office of Legal Counsel, an outfit stuffed to the gills with partisan hacks whose other criminal mischief includes a series of decisions issued to induce government operatives to engage in torture and other acts of official cruelty. The same hacks blessed the felonious surveillance of the communications of American citizens on terms which Attorney General Ashcroft and Deputy Attorney General Comey, neither a lion of civil liberties, considered untenable. According to the man who attempted in vain to clean up the office for Ashcroft, some of the opinions he was asked to render were designed–like the works of mafia consigliere — to provide a “golden shield” to protect policy makers at high ranks in the Administration from the near certain prospect of criminal prosecution. So dark are the works of this office that the Bush White House fervently wants to avoid them seeing the light of day.
When sunlight touches these writings, they tend to turn to dust. Exposed to the sanitizing criticism of the public, of Congress, and of the legal profession, they are revealed for works of glaring hackery. No proposition is too preposterous that it cannot be advanced in an OLC memorandum these days. They are now taught in law schools around the country as models of substandard, unprofessional and incompetent legal work.
But this week, the OLC coughed up another furball....