Archive for the ‘Law’ Category
The Corporate States of America just got itself a new jolt of freedom thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts and his Happy Conservative Warrior Quartet.
[T]he Supreme Court continued chipping away at federal campaign finance reforms with a 5-4 ruling striking down the federal cap on the total amount of money an individual donor can spend supporting candidates and political parties during a two-year election cycle.
The ruling, which split the high court along ideological lines, eliminates the aggregate the cap on the total amount of money an individual can donate to candidates and party fundraising committees during an election season, which was set at $123,200 for 2013 and 2014. That cap was so high that only…several hundred mega-rich donors reached it during the last election cycle.
Meaning that this ruling effects, at most, a mere few hundred people. Fortunately, those few hundred are the richest few hundred people in the country and who deserves a self-serving law that crews democracy more than them?
The ruling also could inflate the power of joint fundraising committees, which take large donations from donors and funnel the cash to candidates and party committees with full knowledge of who signed the original check.
“Eliminating these limits will now allow a single politician to solicit, and a single donor to give, up to $3.6 million through the use of joint fundraising committees,” said Michael Walden, president of the Brennan Center for Justice. “Following the Citizens United decision, this will further inundate a political system already flush with cash, marginalize average voters, and elevate those who can afford to buy political access.”
I don’t think Mr Walden gets it. See, money is free speech and in the CSA you only get as much FS as you can afford to buy and those few hundred have made sure you don’t get paid enough to buy hardly any so they get more than you or me and that’s the way it should be.
Get used to it. If you can’t afford to pay for an election, you don’t deserve to have one.
The Houston Chronicle is reporting that British Petroleum, fresh from their sterling response to their destruction of the Gulf of Mexico by pumping oil all into it – and over it and under it and next to it and… – namely, “God did it, not us, so how come we have to pay?”, is suing the US for refusing to give it more chances to spill just as much oil in other places, too.
BP sued the U.S. government on Monday over its decision to bar the British oil giant from new federal contracts to supply fuel and other services following the company’s agreement to plead guilty to manslaughter and obstruction charges in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.
The company said in court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Houston that the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to suspend the company from such contracts and its continued enforcement of that order is arbitrary, capricious and “an abuse of discretion.”
“Abuse of discretion”. That’s, like, if your boss rapes you at a company party but then he apologizes afterward, it’s an “abuse of discretion” to report him to the police anyway because he’s, like, totally sorry, dude, so it’s completely unfair to hold him responsible just because he, you know, did it. Read the rest of this entry »
Magicians use misdirection to pull off most of their tricks. While you’re watching the hand they’re waving, the other hand is hiding the goodies. American news media used to pride itself on seeing through the distractions to the truth underneath, but that was in the days before Richard Viguerie, Roger Ailes, and the rest of the AEI-inspired right wing noise machine showed everybody how much ordinary people hate anybody who fucks with their precious illusions, and how much more money news media outlets could make if they tossed Truth down the disposal and concentrated instead on feeding into the fantasy.
Now, after 30 years of corporate media whose idea of professionalism is healthy quarterly increases to the bottom line by refusing to challenge the illusions of their “audience” or make them uncomfortable in any way, we have a news media so degenerate that when a conscience-stricken NSA nerd blows the whistle on the largest govt spying operation since the fall of the Wall turned the Stasi into traffic cops, the single element they choose to key on is…the whistleblower. Read the rest of this entry »
I wish I could say it feels good seeing everybody finally catching up with me after a decade or so, but it doesn’t. I predicted Obama’s corporate sell-out and got kicked off a Democrat group blog. I predicted his continued support of the Bush attack on privacy rights, and even that he would strengthen that attack, and I got left-wing hate mail. I predicted that he wouldn’t close Gitmo, and discovered that I was a “traitor”, an “extremist”, and, somehow, a Commie conservative. Nobody wanted to hear it, let alone believe it, but here we are, 5 years later, with massive NSA spying approved by the Administration, drones and a new presidential power to use them against anyone he (or she) doesn’t like and on his/her own say-so and nothing more, a continuing Gitmo embarrassment that Obama won’t end even though everybody – even the military – wants him to, and a Justice Dept that seems more eager to protect corporate profits than civil rights. Even some of his most rabid supporters are now being forced to admit that a Third Way Dem hasn’t turned out to be much of an improvement over a whacko corporate Pub. Read the rest of this entry »
Of course survival isn’t the only goal, just the first one, and I guess we ought from time to time to be more positive and look at ways of making the New American Oligarchy work for you. It’s not impossible. In fact it’s relatively easy once you can wrap your head around what the New Rules mean. That meaning can be put very simply:
Money is all that matters.
When people who have no respect for law are teaching law, you know you’re fucked.
And yes, he’s stupid, too.
At C&L, Heather takes Bill Kristol to task for his ham-handed defense of Rand Paul’s dopey Civil Rights speech. First, Kristol:
He has a sort of sophisticated, complicated libertarian view of the Civil Rights Act. One of the ten provisions of the act applies to private businesses….but…there is something attractive about him. I mean, he’s plainspoken and seems like an honest and good-natured guy.
Heather is unimpressed.
Sorry Bill, but quite the opposite is true. His simplistic, purist views which have no basis in facts when it comes to their real world application are anything but “sophisticated and complicated”. He probably just reminds him a little too much of his girlfriend Palin, so of course he loves him.
But Heather, he’s right, you know. For a libertarian – or an alluvial deposit or the ficus in your foyer – Rand is complicated and sophisticated. For Kristol, too. Libertarians don’t get much more sophisticated than Rand Paul. Neither does that ficus.
As house plants go, Rand is a genius.
[T]he failure of the Johnsen nomination is NOT and NEVER WAS about a lack of votes. No, it is completely and unequivocally about the failure of Barack Obama and his Administration to support their own nominee and stand up for the values she proffered which led them to select her in the first place. This is about Obama, not the Senate, not Republicans and not about obstruction.
The Office of Legal Counsel is the former home of legal hacks/moral monsters Jay Bybee and John Yoo and Dawn Johnsen is unacceptable to head up the OLC because she was critical of legal hacks/moral monsters Jay Bybee and John Yoo? Really?
If you were Barack Obama and were pursuing the policies that he ended up pursuing, would you want Dawn Johnsen in charge of the office which determines the scope of your legal authority as President?
OK so we can’t agree on which Democrat healthcare reform bill will best preserve insurance company profits, at least we can all agree that there oughta be a law that David Brooks not be allowed to masquerade as a psychologist, historian, economist, or – Dawg forbid – a philosopher. Can’t we? Please?
And no matter which h r b will best p i c p, any bill that passes ought to require that “crazy fatigue” is fully covered, even if 2/3 of the country needs treatment.
Seems to me that of all the contests to cheat on, the Miss America contest ought to be the one most cheat-free. I mean, if the contest organizers are going to pay for contestants’ boob jobs, where will it end? Is nothing real any more? This has to be a violation of the truth-in-advertising law, doesn’t it?
The black community ought to consider passing a law against Star Parker. She’s giving them all a black eye. So to speak.
Sharpton blocked Limbaugh like Governor Orval Faubus tried to block black children from entering Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.
Can’t say it any better than TBogg.
Yes. Keeping Rush Limbaugh from joining a bunch of rich white men attempting to buy their way into a fairly exclusive club made up of other rich white men is just like calling out the National Guard to keep black children from going to school with white children.
Thomas Nephew at newsrack thinks there may be more hope in the Supreme Court’s language than I do, and he has a point.
To repeat the charge to the district court, the Supreme Court ruling states that “[t]he District Court should receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes petitioner’s innocence” (emphases added).
It seems to me this is a more hopeful situation than either Mick Arran or Robert (in another comment at the prior post) suppose it to be. While the framing of the question would seem to turn the usual presumption of innocence on its head (as Robert notes), it at least doesn’t necessarily change the definition of legal innocence, which remains “guilt not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
On that score, Mick suggests that “[w]hether a new trial will be granted, then, rests on whether or not the judge will consider the recantation of potentially perjured testimony on the part of witnesses coerced by police to be “new evidence”.” But while Mick is right that “the only new evidence is that the old evidence was bogus,” … that might be good enough. That’s because the Court didn’t actually ask for “new” evidence, it asked for evidence that couldn’t have been obtained at the time; absent mind reading skills, of course perjured testimony can’t be recognized as such at the time.
So it seems to me a district court may reasonably follow this decision’s instructions and find that seven of nine pillars of the prosecution’s case have been washed away, establishing reasonable doubt and legal innocence; the Court seems to emphasize that in this case, at least, it is incorrect to “[assume] as a matter of fact that petitioner Davis is guilty of the murder of Officer MacPhail … even though seven of the State’s key witnesses have recanted their trial testimony.” But enough of my Perry Mason impression. For better informed analyses of the legal implications, see publius and Lee Kovarsky (at ‘Obsidian Wings’), bmaz (at ‘emptywheel’), Josh Patashnik at The New Republic, and/or Lyle Denniston (at ‘SCOTUSBlog’).
I’m not now saying – and wasn’t originally – that Thomas’ interpretation is inaccurate. It isn’t. But I should perhaps have made myself clearer for those living outside Georgia: it isn’t the legal meaning of the language I’m concerned with so much as I am concerned about the way it can be interpreted by people looking for an excuse to end this case.
After several weeks of dicking around, the Supreme Court has sent Troy Davis’ case back to Georgia. Read the rest of this entry »
Way back in April of last year I wrote that there are some things that are above political loyalty and that the Constitution is one of them. In July I wrote in a post titled “The Constitution Doesn’t Poll Very Well” that noted how busily the Obama Admin and Congressional Blue Dogs were gutting the Bill of Rights. This past February I listed a number of Bush’s illegal powers that Obama was protecting despite his promises for “transparency, accountability and openness”. Now I have to report that Obama has decided to protect the people who retroactively wrote legal justifications for this illegal and immoral policy, defend the policy itself, and worst of all, accept torture as legitimate behaviour once he puts a Yoo-style legal framework around it so we can all pretend it isn’t inhuman.
As the attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., debates whether to appoint a criminal prosecutor to investigate the interrogations of terrorism suspects after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he is at the brink of a career-defining decision that risks the anger of the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency, one of the Justice Department’s main partners in combating terrorism.
There is no surprise then that Mr. Holder is said by officials to have been resistant at first to the idea of appointing a prosecutor, particularly since the Obama administration has made it clear that it wants to put the issue of interrogation practices during the Bush administration behind it.
Mr. Holder has told associates he is weighing a narrow investigation, focusing only on C.I.A. interrogators and contract employees who clearly crossed the line and violated the Bush administration’s guidelines and engaged in flagrantly abusive acts.
But in taking that route, Mr. Holder would run two risks. One is the political fallout if only a handful of low-level agents are prosecuted for what many critics see as a pattern of excess condoned at the top of the government. The other is that an aggressive prosecutor would not stop at the bottom, but would work up the chain of command, and end up with a full-blown criminal inquiry into the intelligence agencies — just the kind of broad, open-ended criminal investigation the Obama administration says it wants to avoid.
AG Holder is caught between a rock and a hard place. He’s under pressure both ethically and legally to prosecute torturers yet his boss doesn’t want him to prosecute any of the people who devised and ordered the torture to occur. Glenn Greenwald put what this means succinctly.
[T]he Newsweek reporter who first printed what DOJ officials told him about Holder’s intentions, Daniel Klaidman, confirmed in an interview on The Young Turks that Holder intends to confine any investigations only to “rogue” interrogators who exceeded John Yoo’s torture permission slips while shielding high-level Bush officials who acted in accordance with Yoo’s decrees. Proving yet again that there is nothing more difficult than satirizing our rotted political culture, here is what I wrote about Holder’s intentions last week:
Holder’s plan, at least at the moment, is — from the start — to confine the prosecutors’ authority to investigate to CIA agents who went beyond what John Yoo and George Bush decreed could be done (“he used more water than Yoo said he could”; “he tied him up for longer than Yoo authorized”; “the room was colder and the freezing water icier than Yoo allowed”). At least if these reports are accurate (and, for several reasons, that’s unclear), anyone who “merely” did what John Yoo said was legal — meaning everyone who matters — will be shielded and immunized.
If low-level CIA interrogators — and only them — end up as the targets of investigations because they used m0re water than John Yoo allowed, or turned the thermostat lower than the hypothermic levels which the DOJ permitted, or waterboarded with more frequency than Jay Bybee approved, I wouldn’t blame the CIA for being furious. It was the regime itself, implemented at the highest levels of our government, that was criminal. Prosecuting only low-level interrogators who followed the torturing spirit of those policies but transgressed some bureaucratic guidelines would be a travesty on par with what happened with the Abu Ghraib “investigations.”
(emphasis in original)
Worse, by putting the legal emphasis on whether or not the interrogators had exceeded the authority given them by Yoo and Bybee and the other apologists, Obama is tacitly accepting the Yoo/Bybee/Addington/Cheney assertion that a) torture is legal in the US and b) the president can legally order an illegal procedure as long as it is kept within whatever bounds are set by the president. Which in turn means that torture is now legal and that US presidents have the power to ignore treaty law, international law, and domestic law – the Constitution – just as Bush/Cheney claimed they did. It is a de facto rather than de jure assumption of power, quiet, even stealthy. Without facing the issue squarely, discussing it openly, or explaining it clearly, the Obama Admin is simply going to act as if it’s true, thus creating precedent and making it true.
Also known as “innocence” or “prolonged ignorance”, it is often encased in infantilism.
Shortly after the First World War, John Dos Passos declared in his seminal novel 1919 “the death of innocence in America”. It became a catchphrase, the summation of America’s sudden blasted knowledge of a world – Europe – from which it had always considered itself safely distant. The world had shrunk, Dos Passos was saying, and the USA had finally been drawn into it. We were part of a global reality whether we liked it or not. American men, after all, had died fighting a war that had started in Europe over European beligerences.
Needless to say, Dos Passos’ declaration of the death was premature and greatly exaggerated. It may have been clear to him and to the rest of that post-war generation of writers and political thinkers that the nation could no longer afford the luxury of the isolationism we had practiced with relief since the War of 1812, but as a people it turned out we had no intention of religuishing the useless but comforting ignorance that allowed us to escape responsibility for anything that happened on the world stage.
“Innocence”, either the loss of or the retaining of, became a major theme of the Roaring 20′s. Rather than embrace our new knowledge, we turned our backs on it and…played. From the self-involved if indistinct longing of Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby for easy pickings and no regrets to the open admiration of Capone and the Wild West he made of the Chicago streets as if the consequences could be shrugged off as easily as a viewing of a Hollywood gangster film, we clung to our native “innocence” as if it were armor plating against adulthood. We shrugged off responsibility, if anything, much more casually than our attachment to films and their stars. We shut our eyes and turned up our noses whenever “serious people” warned that Wall Street was having us on and the whole thing was going to come crashing down. When it finally did, we felt hurt, betrayed, as if a parental promise of an endless playtime had been reneged on without reason. We pouted.
I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t been looking in the right places or because there’s so much more of it around or because Barack Obama’s election made people – especially reporters and editors – braver about reporting this shit but there has been a mini-explosion of stories this week about racist cops, all of them ugly and all but one in the state of the union which I really wish we had let secede – Texas. Here are but three of them.
1. Take That, Granpaw
From The Field Negro comes a brutal and bewildering story out of Louisiana. You remember Louisiana, right? Jena? The nooses? The right-wing dismissing them as a “joke” or claiming racism doesn’t exist and it was all getting blown out of proportion? Well, this story from Homer may help put things in perspective.
HOMER, La.—On the last afternoon of his life, Bernard Monroe was hosting a cookout for family and friends in front of his dilapidated home on Adams Street in this small northern Louisiana town.
Throat cancer had robbed the 73-year-old retired electric utility worker of his voice years ago, but family members said Monroe was clearly enjoying the commotion of a dozen of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren cavorting around him in the dusty, grassless yard.
Then the Homer police showed up, two white officers whose arrival caused the participants at the black family gathering to quickly fall silent.
Within moments, Monroe lay dead, shot by one of the officers as his family looked on.
Obama’s actions are, at best, a mixed blessing so far. He has surrounded himself with establishmentarian Blue Dogs and Democrat conservatives, from his powerful Chief-of-Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, to Treas Sec Timmy Geithner (a Wall Street Willie if ever there was one), Leon Panetta at the CIA, and Larry Summers as a Presidential Advisor. While he has talked eloquently about Wall Street’s responsibility for the mess, he insisted in $billions$ in bail-out money to moribund, clueless auto CEO’s and is about to hand over another $30B to AIG because, you know, it ran through the first $100B paying for parties and executive bonuses.
But all of that was prelude to the real danger. It puts in context a much more conservative agenda. In “Dump the Dems 6” I warned, “The Democrats aren’t pretending to be like the Pubs to get elected. They are like the Pubs.” Obama seems to be going out of his way to prove it. Glenn Greenwald again reports on the heels of Marcy Wheeler’s excellent summation of the recent moves by the Obama Admin to make exactly the same arguments of presidential power that Bush made.
[T]he Obama DOJ is now spouting the Cheney/Addington view of government in its purest and most radical expression.
The brief filed by Obama on Friday afternoon (.pdf) has to be read to believed. It is literally arguing that no court has the power to order that classified documents be used in a judicial proceeding; instead, it is the President — and the President alone — who possesses that decision-making power under Article II, and no court order is binding on the President to the extent it purports to direct that such information be made available for use in a judicial proceeding.
What I’ve been afraid of is happening right now. Obama and the conservative Democrat leadership are fighting to preserve the very same power Obama criticized Bush for taking, using the same autocratic arguments that Bush used. Does it make them right just because a Democrat says them?
Of course not.