Friday, December 15, 2017

No, There Is No Precedent : Democracy Journal

No, There Is No Precedent : Democracy Journal
by Sean Wilentz (Princeton University)

The best historical analogies illuminate the past for the present, but the worst analogies domesticate the present to the past. And I cannot balk from stating, with great respect to my colleagues and friends in this symposium and to the editors of Democracy who thought it up, that historical analogies to the ascension of Donald J. Trump are among the very worst.
Understanding our current situation begins with the recognition that Trump and his incipient regime are utterly abnormal. Trump represents a sharp break in our national political history—something unlike anything America, in all of its turbulence, has seen before, his election the result of a fundamental collapse in our politics. Coming to terms with this requires, in part, finally admitting to ourselves that, although the constitutional trappings were respected, the events of 2016 resembled a foreign-abetted coup d’état more than they did an American presidential election. Coming to terms also requires paying close attention to the fact that Trump, by his own admission, learned his approach to leadership not in the rough-and-tumble of partisan politics, nor even in the wheeling-and-dealing of high-stakes New York real estate, but in the Roy Cohn school of political racketeering, including its links to organized crime—training that, apparently, has made Trump feel perfectly at home working with the syndicates of the post-Soviet Russian oligarchy.

A Cautionary Tale…Perhaps : Democracy Journal

A Cautionary Tale…Perhaps : Democracy Journal
by David Nasaw
The Democratic Party victory of 1948, while chock-full of sound and fury, signified next to nothing in the long run. There would be no extension of the New Deal, no grand social programs enacted. In 1950, the Republicans regained 28 seats in the House and five in the Senate. In 1952, effectively playing their anti-Communist card, they elected an ex-general as president and won a majority in both the House and the Senate.

If there is a lesson progressives can draw from these events, it might be that, to paraphrase Naomi Klein, “No is not going to be enough.” The Democrats may do very well in 2018, but their victory will be both short-lived and hollow if they do not offer voters a positive program that is both visionary and doable and changes the political discourse back from one based on fear of the future to one founded on hope for a better one.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

How Trump’s skepticism of U.S. intelligence on Russia left an election threat unchecked - Washington Post

How Trump’s skepticism of U.S. intelligence on Russia left an election threat unchecked - Washington Post

By Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Philip Rucker

***Nearly a year into his presidency, [Donald] Trump continues to reject the evidence that Russia waged an assault on a pillar of American democracy and supported his run for the White House.
The result is without obvious parallel in U.S. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president — and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality — have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat. The repercussions radiate across the government.
Rather than search for ways to deter Kremlin attacks or safeguard U.S. elections, Trump has waged his own campaign to discredit the case that Russia poses any threat and he has resisted or attempted to roll back efforts to hold Moscow to account.
His administration has moved to undo at least some of the sanctions the previous administration imposed on Russia for its election interference, exploring the return of two Russian compounds in the United States that President Barack Obama had seized — the measure that had most galled Moscow. Months later, when Congress moved to impose additional penalties on Moscow, Trump opposed the measures fiercely.

Judge Alex Kozinski made us all victims and accomplices.

Dahlia Lithwick is a brilliant lawyer-journalist who writes for Slate.  In this shocking confessional piece she describes how women acquiesced in the shameful and humiliating behaviour of a brilliant, powerful, and - now we all know- nefarious judge.
It's a must read. - gwc
Judge Alex Kozinski made us all victims and accomplices.
by Dahlia Lithwick

The first time I met Alex Kozinski was in 1996. I was clerking for the chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and there was an orientation for new clerks in San Francisco. One of my co-clerks and I were introduced to the already legendary, lifetime-tenured young judge at a reception, and we talked for a while. I cannot recall what we talked about. I remember only feeling quite small and very dirty. Without my prompting, my former co-clerk described this interaction in an email to me this week. “He completely ignored me and appeared to be undressing you with his eyes,” he wrote. “I had never seen anyone ogle another person like that and still have not seen anything like it. Was so uncomfortable to watch, and I wasn’t even the subject of the stare.”***

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Roy Reed, Times Reporter Who Covered the Civil Rights Era, Dies at 87 - The New York Times

Jim Dwyer writes
"‪Roy Reed, reporter, was near Meredith when he got shot, at the Selma jailhouse when King walked out, at the Pettus Bridge when blacks were bull whipped and clubbed. He would’ve been called fake news but he was the real deal. Don’t miss the John Schwartz obit "
When Dwyer, himself the "real deal",  uses the honorific "reporter" it reminds us of the heroics of the men and women, writers and photographers,  who bring us the stories of life and death, suffering and beauty around the world.
Roy Reed, Times Reporter Who Covered the Civil Rights Era, Dies at 87 - The New York Times
by John Schwartz

In “The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation,” Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff wrote that Mr. Reed “could write magically, choosing words that caught your eye.” Mr. Sitton hired him, they wrote, because he “knew Reed to be unfailingly accurate, deeply reflective, uncommonly polite, and, like the Times reporters who had preceded him in the South, he spoke Southern.”
Mr. Reed, in a memoir, “Beware of Limbo Dancers: A Correspondent’s Adventures with The New York Times,” wrote that “Speaking Southern was not just a matter of drawl or twang; it meant a different way of framing thoughts.” It meant that he understood the territory, even as he was appalled by the racism and violence that undergirded the suppression of voting rights.
Roy Earl Reed was born on Feb. 14, 1930, in Hot Springs, Ark., and grew up in Piney, in the state’s western Hill Country. His parents were Roy Edward Reed, a grocer, and Ella Meredith Reed. A younger sister, Hattie, died in 1964. In his memoir, he said that working in the store as a boy and talking to a black customer, Leroy Samuels, about the injustice of segregation helped awaken him from “generations of family prejudice lying not quite dormant in my young mind.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

When Judges Prey on Clerks - The New York Times

When Judges Prey on Clerks - The New York Times
by Prof. Dara E. Purvis (Penn State Law)

A few months after I graduated from Yale Law School in 2008, I started a clerkship for a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif. Almost immediately, I heard rumors that Alex Kozinski, another judge whose chambers were in the same building, often made inappropriate sexual remarks to female clerks.
Those rumors were finally voiced publicly last week when several of Judge Kozinski’s former clerks and staff members told The Washington Post and other sources that he had shown them pornography, discussed a “knock chart” that listed women he’d had sex with in college and publicly suggested that a clerk in another chambers should exercise naked when she had the gym to herself.
The novelist Heidi Bond claims that the day she started her clerkship, he grabbed her arm and said with a smile: “It’s too late now. She can’t escape any longer. She’s my slave.”
Ms. Bond tried to play it off as a joke. “I think you mean indentured servant.”
“No, I meant slave,” he said, grinning.

Monday, December 11, 2017

E.J. Dionne: Attacks on Mueller push us closer to the precipice - The Washington Post

The faux maverick Lindsey Graham recently joined the Trump cry for scalps:
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has often needled Trump, tweeted Friday: "I will be challenging Rs and Ds on Senate Judiciary Committee to support a Special Counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016 — not just Trump and Russia."
  • More Graham: "It's long past time for a Special Counsel to investigate Clinton email scandal, Uranium One, role of Fusion GPS, and FBI and DOJ bias during 2016 campaign
The attacks on Mueller push us closer to the precipice - The Washington Post
by E.J. Dionne
...The apotheosis of Republican congressional collusion with Trump’s efforts to hang on at all costs came at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. One Republican after another attacked Mueller and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as if the latter should be placed on a new compendium of subversive organizations.
The occasion was testimony before the committee by Christopher A. Wray, the Trump-appointed FBI director. It was heartening to see Wray stand up for his colleagues, which made you wonder if Wray may soon go the way of his predecessor, James B. Comey.
Deserving an Academy Award for the most striking imitation of a member of the old House Un-American Activities Committee was Rep. Louie Gohmert. The hard-right Texas Republican went through a roll call of investigators, name by name, asking Wray if each had shown political bias. Wray defended every one of them he knew and wryly smiled when he was unfamiliar with one of the five names on Gohmert’s hit list.
Gohmert might as well have echoed the favored question of the congressional inquisitors of the early ’40s and ’50s: “Are they now or have they ever been . . . supporters of Hillary Clinton?” When Republicans are FBI haters who are sidetracking probes into Russian subversion, the world truly is turned upside down.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Jeanine Pirro and Lindsay Graham Attacks on FBI and Justice Leadership

Be Afraid.  Be very afraid.  The Republican majority in Congress is a cabal of scoundrels, fools, and cowards.  Resignations by Flake and Corker, tepid protests by McCain, and wobbly stances by Collins are all that passes for resistance to Our Mussolini.  - gwc

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has often needled Trump, tweeted Friday: "I will be challenging Rs and Ds on Senate Judiciary Committee to support a Special Counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016 — not just Trump and Russia."
  • More Graham: "It's long past time for a Special Counsel to investigate Clinton email scandal, Uranium One, role of Fusion GPS, and FBI and DOJ bias during 2016 campaign

Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican - The New York Times

Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican - The New York Times
by Peter Wehner (White House aide in the last three Republican administrations)

"...There are of course a great many honorable individuals in the Republican Party and the evangelical movement. Those who hold different views than I do lead exemplary lives. Yet I cannot help believing that the events of the past few years — and the past few weeks — have shown us that the Republican Party and the evangelical movement (or large parts of them, at least), have become what I once would have thought of as liberal caricatures.

Assume you were a person of the left and an atheist, and you decided to create a couple of people in a laboratory to discredit the Republican Party and white evangelical Christianity. You could hardly choose two more perfect men than Donald Trump and Roy Moore."

Why these Alabama voters are sticking by Roy Moore – VICE News

This link will take you to the video of the Alabama focus group organized by Republican pollster Frank Luntz.  The rationalizations about why they support Roy Moore are stunning.
Why these Alabama voters are sticking by Roy Moore – VICE News
 Twelve conservative voters gathered inside a Birmingham coffee house Thursday for a candid discussion about the Alabama senate race.
During the frank discussion, some said they were voting for him primarily because he is not Doug Jones. But other participants dismissed the allegations against Moore and excusing others by reasoning that behavior now seen as unacceptable wasn’t a problem in Alabama decades ago.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation - The New York Times

Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation 

by Maggie Habermann, Glenn Thrush, and Peter Baker

"As he ends his first year in office, Mr. Trump is redefining what it means to be president. He sees the highest office in the land much as he did the night of his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton — as a prize he must fight to protect every waking moment, and Twitter is his Excalibur. Despite all his bluster, he views himself less as a titan dominating the world stage than a maligned outsider engaged in a struggle to be taken seriously, according to interviews with 60 advisers, associates, friends and members of Congress.

For other presidents, every day is a test of how to lead a country, not just a faction, balancing competing interests. For Mr. Trump, every day is an hour-by-hour battle for self-preservation. He still relitigates last year’s election, convinced that the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, into Russia’s interference is a plot to delegitimize him. Color-coded maps highlighting the counties he won were hung on the White House walls...." 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Powerful closing by Doug Jones

Check out @GDouglasJones’s Tweet:

Don Jr.'s attorney client privilege claim doubtful

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Fractured 2017 - Roger Cohen The New York Times

A Fractured 2017 - The New York Times
by Roger Cohen

"***The 21st-century world is a pyramid. Wiring everyone together did not so much empower everyone as connect the elites at the summit, the guys who had the view of everything and the means to turn what they saw into a geyser of cash. Busy with all that, sure of themselves, operating globally, benefiting from cheap labor and tax-lite impunity, they scarcely noted that they no longer had much connection with the masses below, whose view was still national, whose culture was still local, and who dimly suffered, with mounting anger, the transformative consequences of globalization.
Trump saw that he could be the vehicle of that anger. He grasped that nationalism, nativism and xenophobia were ripe for a rerun. Sovereignty is his mot du jour, even if — or more likely because — ever more of life is lived in a virtual reality where the nation is defunct. The ugly reactionary tide has not yet run its course. Trump will squeeze every last drop of political juice from it in 2018 and beyond. So will Europe’s rightist movements, still vigorous across the continent despite Emmanuel Macron’s uplifting victory in France. The neo-fascists of Poland, of Hungary, are on the march, their anti-Semitism not yet exhausted. In every Western democracy, Trump has helped unleash that which is most foul in human nature.
It’s the last stand of the white man, whose century this will not be. Demography is inexorable, as are movements in people’s minds. Wilson could still speak of colonialism as something to be adjusted, rather than the vile white exploitation of dark-skinned people that it was. Women, in his time, were mere adjuncts to men. The world moves on, but in zigzags, not straight lines. The front lines of race are no longer in British India. They are down the street, or over the tracks, within Western societies. Eurocentrism is over. Gender and sexuality are a battleground in the dismantlement of old ways of thinking. Yet the old, especially in male chauvinist form, never goes quietly. It digs in and it fights."

Tax Bill Offers Last-Minute Breaks for Developers, Banks and Oil Industry - The New York Times

Draining the swamp!

Tax Bill Offers Last-Minute Breaks for Developers, Banks and Oil Industry - The New York Times

Francis Revives the Workers’ Church - The American Prospect

Francis Revives the Workers’ Church: The Catholic Church in America—once an ally of workers and their unions—grew deferential to big money in recent decades. Now, prompted by the Pope, a new generation of labor priests and bishops is trying to change that.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

This Is How Every Genocide Begins – Foreign Policy

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about taxes at the St. Charles, Missouri, Convention Center on Nov. 29.
 (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
This Is How Every Genocide Begins – Foreign Policy
by Daniel Altman

Donald Trump’s retweeting of anti-Muslim propaganda videos is the most un-American thing he has done as president. I could just as well end this article here, as the truth of this statement should be self-evident. But let me explain.

A president can do many things that seem cruel, especially from the point of view of his political opponents, such as encouraging Congress to strip health insurance away from millions of Americans. He can also do many things to offend the moral sensibility of his constituents, such as talking about grabbing women by their genitals. He can even go so far as to call into question American values, perhaps by equating the actions of white supremacists and those who oppose them.

Each of these actions is abhorrent in its own way, but I would argue that none of them creates the same peril to the nation — and to humanity itself — as the president’s retweets. I know it may seem like an enormous exaggeration to pin such importance on the result of clicking a button on a webpage. But again, please bear with me.

Some of the greatest crimes in human history have begun with moments like this one. Social scientists agree that attacks on an entire class of people — whether identified by their race, religion, education, or any other distinguishing characteristic — do not happen spontaneously.

 First the mob has to be primed. The targeted group has to be demonized through a campaign of hateful misinformation, always presented as legitimate information by people in positions of trust. Then the signal for violence falls on ready ears.
It happened this way in Germany, Cambodia, Rwanda, and countless other sites of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and mass persecution. The pamphlets, megaphones, and radio broadcasts came before the pogroms, murders, and forced relocations.

The pamphlets, megaphones, and radio broadcasts came before the pogroms, murders, and forced relocations.
 And today, we have even more effective ways to reach millions of people at a time, as the president’s more than 43 million followers on Twitter can attest; the established media only magnify his reach. But could another crime on this scale happen here ....[keep reading]

Et tu, Sen. McCain? - Jennifer Rubin The Washington Post

Et tu, Sen. McCain? - The Washington Post
by Jennifer Rubin

Chcuk Schumer, today:

From the very beginning, the Republican tax bill has made a mockery, a mockery, of the legislative process.
Republican leaders disappeared behind closed doors and negotiated a framework for a tax bill, without a shred of Democratic input. Then Republican leaders wrote a bill, behind closed doors, without a shred of Democratic input. Republicans brought that bill through a markup in the Finance Committee, where it underwent the scrutiny of ONE – I repeat, ONE – expert witness. That’s it. Finance Committee Democrats offered sixty amendments to the bill but Republicans rejected every single one. Committee Republicans made it crystal clear they were not interested in bipartisanship.
Now that bill is before us on the floor. Even further, significant changes likely will be made by the Majority Leader today, he will get huge changes in a bill today and try to vote on it tonight… and this is tax, one of the most complicated issues before us. These changes and the way the Majority Leader is handling this make it impossible for any independent analyst to get a good look at the bill and how it would impact our country.***

Our political foundation is rotting away - E.J. Dionne The Washington Post

Our political foundation is rotting away - The Washington Post
by E.J. Dionne
Great nations and proud democracies fall when their systems become so corrupted that the decay is not even noticed — or the rot is written off as a normal part of politics.
President Trump has created exactly such a crisis. He has not done it alone. The corrosion of norms and values began long before he propelled the nation past the edge, and his own party is broadly complicit in enabling his attacks on truth, decency and democratic values.
In fact, Republicans are taking full advantage of the bedlam Trump leaves in his wake. They are using a twisted process to push through a profoundly flawed tax bill with scant scrutiny.***

Judge Pryor opposes plan to flood federal courts with conservatives

Conservatives Should Oppose Expanding the Federal Courts

Call for United Front: Ben Wittes in 18 Tweets


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Seven Critical Truths About North Korea - The New York Times

Seven Critical Truths About North Korea  NY Times

by Max Fisher

North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test has provoked understandable alarm, particularly among Americans worried about the threat.
But many analysts reacted with something closer to grizzled stoicism, greeting the launch as dispiriting but unsurprising confirmation of North Korea’s capabilities and intentions. For them, news of the test, like the missile program itself, is unwelcome and concerning but not too terrifying.
It’s worth reviewing, then, some of the fundamentals that guide those experts’ views of North Korea and its weapons.
(1) It’s over. North Korea is a nuclear power now.
Policymakers will debate for years the precise moment at which the door closed to preventing or rolling back North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. But that door is most likely now closed.
The North Koreans have little reason to give up their weapons programs, which bring them security against their otherwise vastly superior adversaries, and we have no way to make them.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Ballot security order vs. RNC may lapse

Friday, November 24, 2017

Child in Chief: How to for Petulance

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Five stages of Brexit

Where Brexit Hurts: The Nurses and Doctors Leaving London  Like Trump's the Brexit  campaign was built on a lie about healthcare.
Brexit, voters were told, will make $450 million more available for the National Health Service.
Not true.  The system is strained, thousands of nursing positions are unfilled, and Europeans feel unwelcome.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Time out: NFL conflicts of interest with public health efforts to prevent TBI | Injury Prevention

Another NFL Sunday of gladiatorial combat.
Time out: NFL conflicts of interest with public health efforts to prevent Traumatic Brain Injury | BMJ - Injury Prevention
  • Kathleen E Bachynski (NYU)
  • Daniel S Goldberg (U. Colorado Medical School)

  • Introduction

    A long-standing ethical challenge for public health organisations is how to manage conflicts of interest (COI) in partnerships with industry. This has been a particular concern with industries such as tobacco that produce harmful products and have a documented record of distorting health research. Consequently, in several cases, public health agencies have issued guidelines limiting industry-funded projects and collaborations to guard against COI.1
    In other cases, however, public health agencies accept industry funding. For example, the CDC Foundation is an independent organisation that connects the CDC, the US’s leading national public health agency, with private sector organisations and individual funding partners.2 The CDC Foundation receives millions of dollars from industry (eg, US$12 million in 2014) as well as other groups to support CDC projects. Whether this funding has influenced CDC research and recommendations, or whether this is a case of private companies donating money ‘in a transparent manner to do unbranded research’, is a matter of ongoing debate.3 4 Multiple studies have shown, however, that industry support of research does influence outcomes.5
    The National Football League’s (NFL) sponsorship and dissemination of research on sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including the league’s partnership with the CDC, represents an important recent case of troubling industry involvement with public health efforts. The NFL is a multi-billion-dollar corporation and the major professional league of American-style tackle football, a sport that involves repeated full-body collisions and high risks of injury.6 The NFL’s influence on TBI research and education is particularly salient given the prevalence of sports-related TBI, and accumulating evidence of the short-term and long-term effects of such injuries.7 Consequently, public health agencies need to consider whether and how to approach potential partnerships with professional sports leagues such as the NFL to address TBI.
    In this article, we describe several …

    Saturday, November 18, 2017

    Alexander Hamilton - 1792


    Babylon Revisited: Melancholy Thoughts After a Short Trip to Washington, D.C. – Foreign Policy

    Thomas Ricks is an award winning journalist who writes on military affairs an international relations.  His work appears on his channel  at Foreign Policy The Best Defense.

    He discusses his estrangement from Washington, D.C. and his retreat to an island in Maine.  More importantly he discusses his disappointment at the course our country took in Iraq.   For me the Vietnam war did that - see Ken Burns new documentary Vietnam.
    Babylon Revisited: Melancholy Thoughts After a Short Trip to Washington, D.C. – Foreign Policy
    by Thomas E. Ricks

    ...The Iraq War broke my heart. I never thought my country would invade a country so recklessly, with so little understanding of the culture of the place or the politics of the region. Why did not we see that taking over Iraq and insisting on American-style voting inevitably would empower Iran? Plus, we went to war on false premises. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spoke of the unknowables. But I think that we didn’t want to know what we should have known.
    On top of that, I was powerfully disappointed by the U.S. military I saw in Iraq. I had covered it for years, both in Washington and on the ground in operations in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Afghanistan. I covered the armed forces objectively, but I generally had been impressed by the character and competence of our soldiers.
    So, I wondered, how could our military then operate so clumsily, so counter-productively, and at times so cruelly, in Iraq? How could the army that I had seen deal so well with the tortuous problems of the Balkans operate so stupidly as to allow soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison to taunt, torture, and humiliate their captives? Didn’t American leaders see that this angered Iraqis and inflamed the insurgency? Most of all, the fact that something so wrong occurred showed how misbegotten the whole American enterprise in Iraq was.
    In response to all that, I wrote the book Fiasco, about the first few years of our war in Iraq. Then, a couple of years later, out of a sense of obligation to stick to the story, I then wrote a sequel, The Gamble, about Gen. David Petraeus and the “surge” in Iraq in 2007. Finally, to answer my own lingering questions, I next wrote The Generals, examining the lack of accountability among senior Army officers.
    But I was finished with Washington. I had seen too many people suffer in and from Iraq. I had lost friends. I saw good reporters struggle with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. I felt some of this myself. My dreams were black, and I would awake covered in sweat. My family was unhappy. I was twisted by stress.
    In short, I no longer could see the capital’s actions as a “game.” Washington’s actions had gotten hundreds of thousands of people killed and maimed. It made me sick, and worse, made me sad....

    Chairman of conservative group with major role in picking Trump judicial nominees proposes court-packing scheme – ThinkProgress

    Chairman of conservative group with major role in picking Trump judicial nominees proposes court-packing scheme – ThinkProgress

    Thursday, November 16, 2017

    Mistrial in Senator Menendez Corruption Case

    I have from the first thought the facts - or the legal conclusions to be drawn from the facts - were ambiguous in the Menendez case as they were in the Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's case in New York.  That view was strengthened when the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the definition of fraud  in the case of Governor Robert McDonnell v. United States. - gwc
    by Charles Toutant
    New Jersey Law Journal
    A mistrial has been declared in the corruption trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, multiple media outlets have reported.
    U.S. District Judge William Walls declared the mistrial at around 1 p.m. Thursday after hearing the jury declare for a second time that it was deadlocked. The judge interviewed jurors individually in chambers before calling the case a mistrial.

    Jurors said in their note that they “reviewed the evidence slowly, thoroughly and in great detail,” according to “We have each tried to look at this case from different viewpoints, but still feel strongly in our positions, nor are we willing to move away from our strong convictions,” the jury’s note said, as it was read in court by a defense attorney.
    The judge rejected calls from the prosecution to instruct the jury about reaching a partial jury verdict, in which jurors reach a decision on some charges but not all, USA Today reported.
    Thursday’s jury note marked the second time this week that jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked. Walls told the jury to continue deliberating on Tuesday after its first note declaring that a unanimous verdict could not be reached.
    The mistrial comes in the 11th week of a trial on charges that Menendez used the power of his office to aid Melgen with business and personal matters in exchange for flights on the doctor’s private jet, upscale hotel lodgings and campaign contributions. Menendez was also charged with failing to mention gifts from Melgen on Senate disclosure forms.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017

    The Latest Ploy GOP Considers to Avoid a Roy Moore Senate Problem Likely Violates the 17th Amendment | Election Law Blog

    The Latest Ploy GOP Considers to Avoid a Roy Moore Senate Problem Likely Violates the 17th Amendment | Election Law Blog
    by Prof. Richard L. Hasen (UCLA Law School)
    I spent a good part of my Saturday afternoon tweeting and blogging in conversations with Hugh Hewitt about ways Republicans could deal with the Roy Moore mess.
    At first Hewitt suggested cancelling the election altogether, and letting Strange just complete the term. I protested that cancelling an election already underway (military and other absentee  voter have already voted) is profoundly undemocratic and dangerous. It also appears to violate the 17th Amendment, which requires that an appointment of a temporary Senator be temporary, and that the state schedule a replacement vote.
    Eventually Hewitt relented on this point (not because he thought it was undemocratic—indeed he seemed to believe Republicans are somehow entitled to Alabama’s two Senate seats without an election), but because he thought it would violate the 17th Amendment.
    So he hit on another idea, and according to Politico it is an idea Republican leaders nationally are now weighing:  get Luther Strange, the temporary Senator appointed to replace Jeff Sessions, to resign, and then with the new vacancy, declare this election void and start over.
    I’ll talk about the political implications in a bit, but first the constitutional issue.  Here’s what the 17th Amendment says, in pertinent part:
    When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
    When Jeff Sessions resigned, that created a vacancy. Alabama law allowed the governor to fill that vacancy and to set the date for a special election. The governor (actually the predecessor) appointed Luther Strange and purported to set the date of the replacement election. (There’s some controversy about whether he had the authority to do this). The new governor reset (or properly set) the replacement election. We’ve had the primary, and now we are in the general election.
    The governor was mandated to issue a writ of election. Because the writ of election has been already issued to fill a vacancy, the election goes forward under the language of the 17th Amendment. Temporary vacancies filled by the governor don’t change that. That’s a separate part of the 17th amendment and separate from the duty to issue the writ of election when there is the vacancy of an elected Senator.

    Whitman budget has lessons for Trump plan

    Christine Todd Whitman is a never Trumper and representative of moderate Republicanism - a long New Jersey tradition.  BUT like otherwise she was slave to the anti-tax less government, hostility government demands of the GOP base voters - and others including Democrats who share those sentiments.
    The result was that she ran successfully against James Florio by promising a 30% income tax cut.  It worked electorally but was a longer term disaster.  Jim Florio talks about the experience in a letter to the editor of the Times:
     "Learning from New Jersey's tax folly," by former Gov. Jim Florio in The New York Times: "To the Editor: The people of New Jersey have particular credentials for evaluating President Trump's tax plan. In 1994, a similar regressive tax cut proposal was enacted in our state. The billions of dollars in lost revenue were not offset by program reductions or alternative revenues. The cuts and the resultant lost revenue were financed by a policy of failing to properly fund the New Jersey Pension Fund for the next 23 years, under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The New Jersey Pension Plan is now underfunded in excess of $60 billion. It is anticipated that the current G.O.P. plan will add $1.5 trillion to our national debt. Let's not duplicate New Jersey's folly." Read the report

    Thursday, November 9, 2017

    China: Revised Regulations on Religious Affairs | Global Legal Monitor

    China: Revised Regulations on Religious Affairs | Global Legal Monitor

    by the Law Library of Congress
    (Nov. 9, 2017) On September 7, 2017, China’s State Council released a revised version of the Religious Affairs Regulations (Regulations), which will take effect on February 1, 2018; the Standing Committee of the State Council adopted the Regulations on June 14, 2017. (Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe Guo Guowu Yuan Ling Di 686 Hao: Zongjiao Shiwu Tiaoli [Decree No. 686 of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China: Religious Affairs Regulations] (Aug. 26, 2017), State Council website.) The Regulations are formulated with the stated goals of ensuring citizens’ freedom of religious belief, maintaining religious and social harmony, and regulating the administration of religious affairs. (Religious Affairs Regulations 2017, CHINA LAW TRANSLATE (unofficial translation) (limited access).) Compared to the last version of the Regulations, which were released in November 2004 and took effect in March 2005, the revised version has amended, added, and abridged several provisions on  general principles, religious groups, religious schools, venues for religious activities, religious professionals, religious activities, religious assets, and legal responsibility (Regulations.)
    General Principles 
    The Regulations specify in Chapter I that citizens are entitled to the right of freedom of religious belief. ( 2 ¶ 1.) In the revised Regulations, an article is added stating that the management of religious affairs should adhere to the principles of protecting legitimate religious activities, curbing and preventing illegal and extreme practices, resisting infiltration, and fighting crime. (Id. art. 3.) Another new article prohibits individuals and organizations from creating contradictions and conflict between different religions, within a single religion, or between religious and non-religious citizens; from advocating, supporting, or funding religious extremism; and from using religion to undermine ethnic unity, divide the nation, or carry out terrorist activities. (Id. art. 4.)
    The Management of Religious Affairs 
    (1) Religious Groups and Schools
    Under the revised Regulations, a new article asserts that religious groups are authorized to perform several functions, including assisting governments at all levels in the implementation of laws, regulations, rules, and policies; preserving the lawful rights and interests of citizens with religious beliefs; guiding the group’s religious affairs; formulating a system of rules and regulations for the group and supervising their implementation; engaging in religious cultural study; and carrying out religious education and training. ( 8.)
    Article 9 of the revised Regulations states that only national religious groups and those in provinces, autonomous regions, and directly-governed municipalities may establish religious schools, select and send students of religion to study abroad, and receive students of religion from abroad. Other organizations or individuals do not have the right to set up religious schools, select students of religion to study abroad, or accept foreign students of religion. (Id. arts. 9 & 11.)
    (2) Venues for Religious Activity
    The revised Regulations specify that venues for religious activities include temples, churches, and other fixed places. Other religious gathering places should be determined by the religious affairs departments of province-level governments. (Id. art. 19.) In order to be established, a venue for religious activity must have the necessary funds from “legitimate sources.” The configuration of the venue should also meet the requirements of urban and rural planning. (Id. art. 20.)
    Another new provision prohibits the construction of large, outdoor religious statues outside of temple and church grounds. (Id. art. 30.)

    Wednesday, November 8, 2017

    Happy Anniversary to America’s Most Corrupted Election – Foreign Policy

    Voters cast their ballots at voting booths at PS198M The Straus School on Nov. 8, 2016 in New York City, New York. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Happy Anniversary to America’s Most Corrupted Election –Lawfare / Foreign Policy
    by Susan Hennessy and Benjamin Wittes //Lawfare//Brookings

    It’s the one-year anniversary of the day the American public elected Donald Trump president of the United States of America. It’s also the anniversary of the culmination of an unprecedented foreign adversary operation to interfere with and delegitimize the U.S. elections. The public has spent much of the last year debating whether such an operation really occurred, the extent of possible involvement of people in the United States, and what impact it might have had on the outcome.Far less attention has focused on how we’re going to stop it from happening again.
    We previously noted the startling lack of concern demonstrated by the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on the matter. Sessions testified before the Senate recently that notwithstanding the threat of future foreign interference, he’s not sure what the Justice Department is doing about it. It seems he hasn’t bothered to ask.
    Unfortunately, Sessions isn’t alone. Despite enduring interest in the issue of election security among the public and on Capitol Hill, the Trump administration has taken remarkably few concrete steps to counter the threat of foreign interference in 2018, 2020, and beyond.
    Below are some ideas on where the executive branch — with help from Congress — should start.
    First, it needs to disentangle pure election security issues from broader information operations or covert influence campaigns. Information operations certainly impact the broader context in which elections occur and can interact with election security issues to further undermine confidence. But they should be understood as a separate issue, with a distinct set of available solutions.
    Election security involves the more specific threat to election infrastructure and voting systems used in the management and administration of elections. Voting systems include things like voting kiosks, voter registration systems, election night reporting, and poll books (where voters check in). Depending on how broadly one construes election security, it also may involve protecting systems used by campaigns, parties, and candidates.
    The information security community has busied itself over the past year proving the alarming vulnerabilities in these systems. At the annual DefCon cybersecurity conference, it took hackers about 90 minutes to thoroughly compromise U.S. voting machines in ways that would allow them to remotely change vote tallies.
    To be clear, even if actually changing vote tallies isn’t a technical impossibility, it’s still extremely difficult to do so on the scale necessary to predictably change the outcome of a statewide or national election. The most probable actors with both the incentives and technical capacity to carry out sophisticated attacks are foreign governments. In order to successfully fix an election, they wouldn’t only have to beat forensic detection but also evade the U.S. and allied intelligence communities. The aftermath of the 2016 election demonstrated that is no easy task.

    Tuesday, November 7, 2017

    Backstabber: Trump disses Gillespie

    Friday, November 3, 2017

    “Clerking” for the Supreme People’s Court | Supreme People's Court Monitor

    “Clerking” for the Supreme People’s Court | Supreme People's Court Monitor
    by Susan Finder
    One of the unexpected influences of the United States system on the Chinese courts is the Supreme People’s Court’s (SPC) elite internship program, instituted in 2015.  (The German system of requiring law students to intern in courts, too, is an apparent influence). The word of mouth is that the SPC leadership noted that the US Supreme Court clerkships attracted top law students and wanted to do something similar in China.
    The program is a small example of “foreign beneficial experience,” about which I wrote about earlier this year. The official position on borrowing/referring to foreign legal models is set out in the 4th Plenum Decision (as I wrote earlier):
    Draw from the quintessence of Chinese legal culture, learn from beneficial experiences in rule of law abroad, but we can absolutely not indiscriminately copy foreign rule of law concepts and models.
    President Xi Jinping’s further gloss on this is:
    China shall actively absorb and refer to successful legal practices worldwide, but they must be filtered, they must be selectively absorbed and transformed, they may not be swallowed whole and copied (对世界上的优秀法治文明成果,要积极吸收借鉴,也要加以甄别,有选择地吸收和转化,不能囫囵吞枣、照搬照抄).
    Unlike Supreme Court clerkships, which are done by recent law graduates, SPC interns are generally required to be students, generally at the master’s or PhD level.  The SPC selects several dozen outstanding students (the number seems to vary) to participate in the sixth month program.  They must be recommended by their law schools (each runs its own selection process)–see this notice by China University of Political Science and Law.  Applications are made to the Political Department of the SPC (it handles personnel matters) rather than to individual judges.  The program is part of the SPC’s outreach to educational institutions and efforts to create a more elite judiciary.

    Postwar America's greatest environmentalist

    Environment, Law, and History: Postwar America's greatest environmentalist
    Tony Mazzocchi - Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers AFL-CIO!

    Thursday, November 2, 2017

    Trump: Our legal system is a "joke" and laughingstock - DOJ defends incommunicado imprisonment

    President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    Donald Trump, speaking after the truck attack in New York denounced "these animals", a term he did not use when a white supremacist carried out a similar vehicular attack in Charlottesville nor when another white madman with a rifle killed 59 and wounded 528.    Trump called the American legal system a "joke" and a "laughingstock".  At the same time the Justice Department filed a reply brief justifying holding incommunicado without charges an American citizen and asserted enemy combatant.  The case is John Doe and ACLU v. Mattis.  
    ‘Next Friend’ Standing and the Unnamed Enemy Combatant - Lawfare
    by Scott Harman
    If the court ultimately rules against the ACLU on scenario three, the executive branch will be able to detain Doe until the end of the conflict of which he was a part. Of course, such a policy would generate pushback both in Congress and abroad. The court has the capacity to mitigate the implications of, or to simply avoid, a dismissal of the ACLU’s petition for want of standing. But there is also a real chance that the case’s unique facts could lead it to become the most important detainee habeas case yet.

    Tuesday, October 31, 2017

    Compromise and the Civil War – Talking Points Memo

    White House Image result for john kelly
    Chief of Staff John Kelly continues to reveal himself not as an "adult in the room" but as a Trumpian and racist representative of the worst of Boston Irish culture.  The ilk that rioted over integration in south Boston in 1971.
    Kelly's latest is to paint Gen. Robert E. Lee as a man of principle who loved his state more than his country - something Kelly says was ordinary back then.  He also pinned responsibility on the "inability to compromise".  Josh Marshall works on that theme. - gwc

    Compromise and the Civil War – Talking Points Memo
    by Josh Marshall
    "...An even more critical driver of the South’s secession is tied to the structure of the electoral college. As I noted, for the first half of the 19th century, sectional peace was underwritten by allowing the South to dictate on the issue of slavery. More specifically, no party could hope to win the presidency without a solid political base in the South. Since the political class in the South was overwhelmingly (and eventually unanimously) in support of slavery, that meant no President who opposed slavery in any sense could ever be elected. But Lincoln won the presidency with only free states. This meant that the South’s ability to dictate national policy on slavery, at least at the presidential level, was at an end.
    It would have taken a lot longer for things to change in the Senate. But that was enough to drive all but a handful of slave states into rebellion. The more embattled slavery became, the more the South demanded a right to dictate national policy on the issue. It was an issue on which the political class in the South could accept no compromise. That’s what triggered the Civil War...."