Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘justice’

The October surprise ignored by the media

Posted by Richard on October 5, 2016

On Tuesday, Clinton cheerleaders and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) were practically chortling because a much-anticipated Julian Assange press conference turned out to be just about WikiLeaks’ tenth anniversary, with no Clinton-damaging October surprise.

But there had already been an October surprise on Monday. It’s just that only Fox News (and various alternative media sites piggy-backing on their story) chose to report it (emphasis added):

Immunity deals for two top Hillary Clinton aides included a side arrangement obliging the FBI to destroy their laptops after reviewing the devices, House Judiciary Committee sources told Fox News on Monday.

Sources said the arrangement with former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills and ex-campaign staffer Heather Samuelson also limited the search to no later than Jan. 31, 2015. This meant investigators could not review documents for the period after the email server became public — in turn preventing the bureau from discovering if there was any evidence of obstruction of justice, sources said.

Think about that for a moment. Not only did the Department of Justice and FBI hand out immunity deals to most of the people involved in the Clinton email affair (apparently without the usual requirement that they provide complete and truthful testimony), but they also agreed not to examine documents that might reveal a cover-up and to destroy the computers holding those documents so that no one could ever examine them.

I can think of only two explanations. Either the DOJ/FBI people responsible are so naive and easily duped that they shouldn’t be trusted to manage a kindergarten classroom or they colluded with the Clinton team to destroy evidence and obstruct justice. The latter is clearly far more likely. And it makes Watergate seem like the equivalent of jaywalking.

This is an October surprise that should have been breathlessly declared breaking news. It should have led off questioning at the vice presidential debate. It should have led to countless reporters clamoring for answers from Mills, Samuelson, FBI Director James Comey, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and Hillary Clinton herself. It should still be dominating the news cycle today.

Instead, a Google News search for “fbi destroy laptops clinton aides” (sans quotes) yields only this. Nothing from the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, or Boston Globe; nothing from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, or MSNBC; nothing from the Associated Press or Reuters.

The people who in journalism school worshiped Woodward and Bernstein, who preened about how they were going to “speak truth to power,” are in cahoots with the Democratic power elite to keep the American people in the dark.

Meanwhile, four Republican congressional committee chairmen have sent a letter to AG Lynch:

… The Republicans expressed “concern” that the “FBI inexplicably agreed to destroy the laptops knowing that the contents were the subject of Congressional subpoenas and preservation letters.”

The letter repeatedly cited Congress’ interest in the “evidence” that may have been jeopardized under the side arrangement.

The new letter asked Lynch why the FBI agreed to destroy the laptops and, significantly, what legal authority the FBI has to destroy records subject to a congressional investigation or subpoena. The letter also asked if the FBI followed through and in fact destroyed “evidence” from the laptops or the laptops themselves.

Asked for comment, a Justice Department spokesman said: “We have received the letter and are reviewing it.”

Based on past history, I predict DOJ will provide a less than satisfying response, various Republicans will bluster for a few minutes in front of microphones (and will be completely ignored by the MSM), and nothing more will come of it.

This country has become no better than a banana republic.

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Obama Justice Department organized and promoted anti-Zimmerman protests

Posted by Richard on July 10, 2013

Wow. Just wow. Venezuela ain’t got nothin’ on us. We’ve truly become a banana republic (emphasis in original):

Document: DOJ Community Relations Service was deployed to Sanford, FL, “to provide technical assistance for the preparation of possible marches and rallies related to the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old African American male.” 

Washington, D.C. – Judicial Watch announced today that has obtained documents in response to local, state, and federal records requests revealing that a little-known unit of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Community Relations Service (CRS), was deployed to Sanford, FL, following the Trayvon Martin shooting to help organize and manage rallies and protests against George Zimmerman.

JW filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requested with the DOJ on April 24, 2012; 125 pages were received on May 30, 2012. JW administratively appealed the request on June 5, 2012, and received 222 pages more on March 6, 2013. According to the documents:

  • March 25 – 27, 2012, CRS spent $674.14 upon being “deployed to Sanford, FL, to work marches, demonstrations, and rallies related to the shooting and death of an African-American teen by a neighborhood watch captain.”
  • March 25 – 28, 2012, CRS spent $1,142.84 “in Sanford, FL to work marches, demonstrations, and rallies related to the shooting and death of an African-American teen by a neighborhood watch captain.
  • March 30 – April 1, 2012, CRS spent $892.55 in Sanford, FL “to provide support for protest deployment in Florida.”
  • March 30 – April 1, 2012, CRS spent an additional $751.60 in Sanford, FL “to provide technical assistance to the City of Sanford, event organizers, and law enforcement agencies for the march and rally on March 31.”
  • April 3 – 12, 2012, CRS spent $1,307.40 in Sanford, FL “to provide technical assistance, conciliation, and onsite mediation during demonstrations planned in Sanford.”
  • April 11-12, 2012, CRS spent $552.35 in Sanford, FL “to provide technical assistance for the preparation of possible marches and rallies related to the fatal shooting of a 17 year old African American male.” – expenses for employees to travel, eat, sleep?

No, the documents reveal that the employees were “Thomas Battles, Regional Director, and Mildred De Robles, Miami-Dade Coordinator and their co-workers at the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service,” so they were already stationed in the area, not “deployed” from Washington. The expenses (admittedly small potatoes as far as government expenditures go; but still …) were probably for things like meeting rooms, “working lunches,” and maybe sign printing.

Set up under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the DOJ’s CRS, the employees of which are required by law to “conduct their activities in confidence,” reportedly has greatly expanded its role under President Barack Obama. Though the agency claims to use “impartial mediation practices and conflict resolution procedures,” press reports along with the documents obtained by Judicial Watch suggest that the unit deployed to Sanford, FL, took an active role in working with those demanding the prosecution of Zimmerman.

On April 15, 2012, during the height of the protests, the Orlando Sentinel reported“They [the CRS] helped set up a meeting between the local NAACP and elected officials that led to the temporary resignation of police Chief Bill Lee according to Turner Clayton, Seminole County chapter president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.” The paper quoted the Rev. Valarie Houston, pastor of Allen Chapel AME Church, a focal point for protestors, as saying “They were there for us,” after a March 20 meeting with CRS agents.

Separately, in response to a Florida Sunshine Law request to the City of Sanford, Judicial Watch also obtained an audio recording of a “community meeting” held at Second Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Sanford on April 19, 2012. The meeting, which led to the ouster of Sanford’s Police Chief Bill Lee, was scheduled after a group of college students calling themselves the “Dream Defenders” barricaded the entrance to the police department demanding Lee be fired.  According to the Orlando Sentinel, DOJ employees with the CRS had arranged a 40-mile police escort for the students from Daytona Beach to Sanford.

“These documents detail the extraordinary intervention by the Justice Department in the pressure campaign leading to the prosecution of George Zimmerman,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “My guess is that most Americans would rightly object to taxpayers paying government employees to help organize racially-charged demonstrations.”

I wonder if Department of Justice Community Relations Service employees will be “providing support” for the riots that many in the media are expecting when George is Zimmerman is (quite properly) acquitted.

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When straws are outlawed…

Posted by Richard on June 27, 2012

Every time I think I’ve encountered the ultimate example of  “zero tolerance” policies run amok, it later turns out I was mistaken. It’s happened again.

The Supreme Court has refused to hear Mikel v. School Board. That means Andrew Mikel II will continue to have on his record a full year school suspension and a juvenile court sentence to a diversion program for anger management and substance abuse counseling. For shooting spitwads at classmates during lunch period.

Mikel was 14 and an honor student active in Junior ROTC when he committed this heinous act in December, 2010. Spotsylvania High School in Spotsylvania, PA, called it “criminal assault and possession of a weapon,” and referred it to local law enforcement, which initiated juvenile criminal proceedings.

Mikel has been homeschooled since.

The Rutherford Institute fought the case all the way to the Supreme Court (emphasis added):

“There can be no justice in a nation where young people like Andrew Mikel have their futures senselessly derailed by school administrators lacking in both common sense and compassion,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “That the Supreme Court refused to hear Andrew’s case is a tragedy in itself, but by failing to intervene, the Court is legitimizing the perverse use of zero tolerance policies by school districts and the criminalization of America’s schoolchildren by teachers, administrators and police.”

Decrying the school’s actions as arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute filed a petition with the Circuit Court of the County of Spotsylvania asking the court to overturn the School Board’s decision. Although the Circuit Court ruled in favor of the school, it did acknowledge that it was “incongruous” that Andrew was suspended for the remainder of the year for spitwads while a student who punched someone in the eye could be suspended for only ten days. 

Ah, but the student who punched someone in the eye wasn’t armed with an illegal weapon — a straw and some hollow plastic “spitwad” pellets.

I have some questions for Spotsylvania school officials, police, and the courts through which this farce proceeded:

  • Is a straw automatically a weapon, or only if it’s “loaded” with a pellet?
  • What if the straw’s “unloaded,” but the student has the “ammo” elsewhere on his person?
  • Is it a worse offense if he’s carrying the straw concealed?
  • What’s going to be declared a weapon next — a rubber band? A spork?

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Court kills Amazon Tax

Posted by Richard on April 3, 2012

Woohoo! Colorado’s so-called Amazon tax has been ruled unconstitutional by the U. S. District Court in Denver:

In 2010, the Democrats in Colorado, in violation of the state Taxpayers Bill of Rights, passed a variety of tax increases known as the Dirty Dozen.  The state’s highly politicized Supreme Court gave the tax increases a pass around TABOR’s requirement for a citizen vote, but the federal courts are frequently a different matter, and so it has proved with one of the measures, the so-called, “Amazon Tax.”  That tax applied the state sales tax to sales by Amazon affiliates in the state, on the dubious proposition that the presence of a person who either owns a website (which could be hosted anywhere in the world) or who sells web ads constitutes a significant physical presence in the state.

Now, a federal court has decided that the tax violates the US Constitution:

On Friday, the federal court in Denver declared the 2.9 percent tax on purchases unconstitutional on the ground it was tilted unfairly against out-of-state retailers, and that it put an undue burden on retailers to either collect the tax owed by consumers or report consumer purchases to the state.

Judge Robert Blackburn’s ruling noted the legal language of the tax didn’t distinguish between in-state and out-of-state businesses, but the practical effect of the tax did.

“I conclude that the veil provided by the words … is too thin to support the conclusion that the Act and the Regulations regulate in-state and out-of-state retailers even-handedly,” Blackburn wrote.

The court applied what is known as the “negative Commerce Clause,” the notion that if regulation of interstate commerce is explicitly delegated to the Federal government, then it cannot be exercised by state governments. …

After the tax was enacted, Amazon simply terminated all affiliate relationships with Coloradans, so the socialist scum who enacted it gained no revenue as a result.

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Radical redistributionist blocked

Posted by Richard on May 19, 2011

The Senate has blocked the nomination of Goodwin Liu to the 9th Circuit Court by failing to invoke cloture. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) joined all the voting Republicans to block the motion. This is very good news indeed. The 9th Circuit Court is already home to some pretty far-left judges (and is the most frequently overturned circuit court), but Liu would have made them look restrained and centrist. As Reason's Ilya Shapiro noted:

As I blogged last year, Liu is, without exaggeration, the most radical nominee to any position that President Obama has made. He believes in constitutional positive rights — not that the welfare state and all its accompanying entitlements (and then some) are a good idea, but that they are constitutionally required.  That is, someone ought to be able to sue the government (qua the taxpayer) if they don’t have adequate health care, or food, or shelter, or… well, anything Liu envisions is part of his indeterminate Constitution whose evolving norms adapt to the times “in order to sustain its vitality in light of the changing needs, conditions, and understandings of our society.”


Moreover, he’s opined that words like “free enterprise,” “private ownership of property,” and “limited government” are “code words for an ideological agenda hostile to environmental, workplace, and consumer protections.”

People like Goodwin Liu should be kept as far away from a judicial appointment as possible. And a president who wants people like Goodwin Liu on the federal bench should have his appointments blocked by any means possible.

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Conflicting stories

Posted by Richard on May 3, 2011

Last night, I cheered the President. First, because he authorized the mission to get bin Laden and it was a success. Second, because he informed the nation in a speech that was commendably short, to the point, and non-professorial. He even graciously acknowledged the role of his predecessor. Granted, there were an inordinate number of references to "I," "me," "my," and "mine" — but I can forgive that. He's had a rough year, and wanting to crow about this success is understandable.

But today, we've been treated to conflicting stories about one of the important aspects of the mission and the President's authorization of it. First, there was this (emphasis added): 

May 2 (Reuters) – The U.S. special forces team that hunted down Osama bin Laden was under orders to kill the al Qaeda mastermind, not capture him, a U.S. national security official told Reuters.

"This was a kill operation," the official said, making clear there was no desire to try to capture bin Laden alive in Pakistan.

And that account was echoed in many places. India's NDTV had the timeline: 

On April 29, 2011, Obama signed the "Kill Osama bin Laden order." He gave the final go ahead for the secret operation at 8.20 am that day.

Slate's John Dickerson informed us that not only was it a kill operation (a.k.a. "targeted assassination"), but that critical information came from those infamous Gitmo interrogations (emphasis added): 

Detainees being held at Guantanamo provided some of the strongest information about those who were trusted by Bin Laden. They identified a courier and his brother who lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan, an affluent suburb where a lot of retired Pakistani military officers live.

Early Friday morning before departing to view tornado damage in Alabama, the president gave the order to initiate the operation to kill Bin Laden. On Sunday, he met throughout the day in the Situation Room, making final preparations and receiving updates.

HuffPo's Earl Ofari Hutchison crowed that this "shattered the myth" that Obama and the Democrats are soft on terrorism (emphasis added): 

… He refused to soften any of the provisions of the Patriot Act, promptly issued a shoot-to-kill order against the Somali pirates to free American hostages, stepped up the drone attacks on the Taliban in Pakistan, and approved the massive expansion of troops, bases, and spending on the Afghan War. But most importantly, he issued tough and secret orders to the CIA to continue to do everything to destroy and disrupt l Qaeda and to take out the one man that Americans most wanted dead, and that was bin Laden. Obama's order to the CIA and military counter-terror teams hunting bin Laden was clear; do not capture, but kill.

But at some point, administration officials had second thoughts about going with the "orders to kill" narrative. Time's Michael Scherer quoted an unnamed source as denying the Reuters account: 

“No U.S. forces go in and, if someone surrenders to them, will kill them,” the official says. “There was a presumption that it would likely end in a kill,” the official continued, citing the U.S. government’s expectation that Bin Laden would resist capture. “But to say that it was a kill mission is wrong.”

And he later updated with a named source (emphasis added):

As expected, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan confirmed that this was not a kill-only mission at the White House briefing. ” We certainly were planning for the possibility, which we thought was going to be remote,” Brennan said of capturing Bin Laden alive. ” If we had the opportunity to take him alive we would have done that.”

After that, things got even murkier, with multiple conflicting stories.

— Bin Laden was using a wife as a human shield. No, the woman was just caught in the crossfire. And it may have been a different woman in a different place.

— Bin Laden was shooting at the SEALs with an AK47. No, he was unarmed.

— He was given a chance to surrender, and shot when he didn't. Wait, is that narrative part of the "he was unarmed" story or part of the "he was resisting" story?

Maybe the chance to surrender was like on the cop shows, when they shout "Police, open up!" approximately 3/10ths of a second before smashing in the door. "Osama, surrender!" Bang! Bang! Bang!

The administration is apparently trying to walk a fine line. On the one hand, they want to portray the President as a strong, no-nonsense leader who's prepared to kill the bad guys and keep America safe (hey, there's an election in the offing).

On the other hand, they don't want him to appear to be a cowboy who ignored Reagan's 1981 executive order prohibiting assassinations and trampled on international law.

Personally, I've got no problem with the initial story. In any reasonably free and rational society, you could shoot bin Laden, claim the old Texas affirmative defense that "he needed killin'," and be confident that no jury would convict.

With the exception of whack-jobs like Cindy Sheehan and her ilk, I don't think the court of American public opinion has any problems with an order to take out this enemy of mankind. Like me, most people heartily agree with the President: "The world is safer: it is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden."

International public opinion is another matter.

But then, President Obama has always seemed more concerned about the latter than the former.

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bin Laden dead

Posted by Richard on May 2, 2011

Something happened tonight that hasn't happened in a long time: the President spoke, and I cheered.

Osama bin Laden, hunted as the mastermind behind the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, has been killed, President Obama announced tonight.

The president called the killing of bin Laden the "most significant achievement to date" in the effort to defeat al Qaeda.

Bin Laden was located at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which was monitored and when the time was determined to be right, the president said, he authorized a "targeted operation."

"A small team of Americans carried out the operation," Obama said. "After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."

DNA testing confirmed that it was bin Laden, sources told ABC News.

Hurrah, hurrah! Now where's that SOB Zawahiri?

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Punishing Christian speech, embracing Sharia law

Posted by Richard on November 11, 2010

Publicly professing a belief in Christianity or inviting others to learn about it are punishable offenses in more places than you might think. But the severity of the punishment varies considerably.

In Pakistan, they sentence you to death. And sometimes just shoot you on the spot.

In Dearborn, Philadelphia, and Wichita, they just throw you in jail for a while. Don't count on the ACLU and other human rights organizations to help.

Any statement suggesting that Islam is not the one true religion or that Islamic law shouldn't govern everyone everywhere is considered either "blasphemy" or "defamation" by the Islamists, and they're waging a worldwide campaign to criminalize (or silence through intimidation) such statements. They have the UN on their side.

Last week, Oklahoma voters — 70% of them — adopted a constitutional amendment barring judges from relying on Sharia or international law for court rulings. They were perhaps motivated by the Islamists' war on free speech and the growing trend in Europe of bending to Sharia, as evidenced by:

  • court decisions in Italy and Germany acknowledging the right of Muslim men to beat their wives and daughters.
  • the establishment in Britain of a Sharia court system parallel to the English courts and supplanting them for members of the Muslim community.
  • the criminal prosecution of Geert Wilders (Netherlands), Elisabeth Sabaditsch Wolff (Austria), Jussi Halla-aho (Finland), and Brigitte Bardot (France), among others, for criticizing Islam. 

The will of Oklahoma voters has been thwarted for now by a restraining order granted to the Islamist group CAIR (an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorist funding case). Ironically, this ruling protecting the right of Muslim men to claim that Sharia law authorizes them to beat women — and to silence those who criticize them for that — was issued by a judge who was once a prominent women's rights advocate.

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Whose money is it?

Posted by Richard on November 5, 2010

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in another important Institute for Justice case, Wynn v. Garriott. I haven't been keeping up with all of IJ's fine work lately and was unfamiliar with this case, which made its way to the Supremes after the 9th Circuit reversed a ruling that the suit was frivolous.

But over at Big Government, Adam B. Schaeffer made it clear why this case is extremely important: 

The 9th Circuit’s reasoning arrogates to the state all property , dissolving the distinction between public and private funds as well as public and private choices. It is a disturbing, dangerous decision.

They assert that tax cuts are the equivalent of government funds, a conclusion possible only if one assumes that all personal income belongs by default to the state rather than to the individual who earned the money. It asserts as well that when taxpayers and parents privately choose to support religious educational organizations, they are in violation of the First Amendment. This reasoning blatantly ignores the logic and plain meaning of the 2002 Zelman decision upholding school vouchers, among others.

Here is a prediction; the court will have their absurd ruling on an Arizona education tax credit program posted on the wall of judicial shame like so many others issued from their Circuit.

But I want more from the Court. This ruling is so awful that I can only pray SCOTUS rules beyond the questionable standing of the plaintiffs and comprehensively dismembers this most egregious 9th Circuit decision.

The Obama administration has weighed in on the right side, according to the WaPo article linked above. But I suspect their motives. Acting Solicitor General Neal K. Katyal (to the apparent surprise of his former boss, Justice Kagan) argued that the taxpayers challenging Arizona's tax credit for private education donations didn't have standing to bring their suit.

I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that the Obama administration fervently hopes this case is decided on the standing issue and not on the merits because a decision on the merits is almost certainly going to go against one of their cherished, bedrock philosophical beliefs: that the government ultimately owns and controls everything.

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Punishing the victim

Posted by Richard on July 9, 2010

Here's a local story I would have missed if it hadn't been for Sharp as a Marble (I'm tempted to link-leech his Rage-O-Meter):

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. – Admitted thieves are going free, while an elderly Wheat Ridge man is facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars, all, he says, for trying to defend his property and his life.

Here's the story in a nutshell: Back in February, two illegal aliens with lengthy criminal records stole a trailer from 82-year-old Robert Wallace. He saw them and ran out with his handgun to stop them. They tried to run him over, and he fired. One of the perps was injured. 

The Jefferson County DA has now charged Wallace with 12 felonies, including four counts of attempted murder. (How does shooting at two people, whatever the circumstances, result in four counts of attempted murder?) He could spend the rest of his life in prison. 

The two perps, one of whom is allegedly part of a "major auto theft ring," were let go and not charged with anything. 

Unbe-frickin-lievable. Does JeffCo DA Scott Storey think this is Great Britain? If you think this is outrageous, you might want to drop him a note about it.

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Protecting the Black Panthers

Posted by Richard on July 1, 2010

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is investigating the Justice Department's dismissal of Voting Rights Act violation charges against the New Black Panthers — a dismissal that was ordered after the career attorneys at the DOJ Civil Rights Division's Voting Rights Section had already won. One of those career attorneys, J. Christian Adams, recently resigned and went public (emphasis added):

On the day President Obama was elected, armed men wearing the black berets and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were stationed at the entrance to a polling place in Philadelphia. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters and poll watchers. After the election, the Justice Department brought a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and those armed thugs. I and other Justice attorneys diligently pursued the case and obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the charges. Before a final judgment could be entered in May 2009, our superiors ordered us to dismiss the case.

The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.

… 

The assistant attorney general for civil rights, Tom Perez, has testified repeatedly that the "facts and law" did not support this case. That claim is false. If the actions in Philadelphia do not constitute voter intimidation, it is hard to imagine what would, short of an actual outbreak of violence at the polls. Let's all hope this administration has not invited that outcome through the corrupt dismissal. 

Others have falsely claimed that no voters were affected. Not only did the evidence rebut this claim, but the law does not require a successful effort to intimidate; it punishes even the attempt. 

Read the whole thing. And if you wonder about Adams' claims about the evidence and testimony, you might want to look into it. Start by reading the affidavit of Bartle Bull (PDF), an attorney poll observer at the precinct in question. It's only three pages, and well worth your time. Mr. Bull helped secure the voting rights of blacks in Mississippi in the 1960s and worked on the Bobby Kennedy and Jimmy Carter campaigns — not exactly a right-wing bigot.

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Celebrating the death of a murderer

Posted by Richard on July 25, 2009

At our breakfast gathering this morning, I told my compatriots about a joke Jimmy Fallon told regarding the probable killing of one of Osama bin Laden's sons. One person in the audience cheered, and a couple of people applauded. The rest sat in stony silence. A friend suggested that maybe they thought it wasn't appropriate to joke about the death of anyone.

I consider that explanation unlikely. I suspect that a significant percentage of the typical Jimmy Fallon audience considers slasher movies and Grand Theft Auto to be high entertainment. But it got me thinking. 

It's a common belief among Christians that all human life is sacred/valuable (many other religions/cultures share that belief, and some extend it to other creatures as well), and that therefore the death of even the vilest murderer or brutal tyrant should be mourned — or at least not celebrated.

I completely disagree. That belief shows a callous disregard for the murderer's future victims. When an al Qaeda leader is killed, how many people will not be blown up or shot, how many women and children will not be brutalized and subjugated, how many men will not be beheaded as a consequence of his death?

If you've studied free-market economics, you may be familiar with Frédéric Bastiat's essay, “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen.” In it, he argued that we tend to focus on the immediate, intended consequences of an action (what is seen) and fail to recognize the later, unintended consequences (what is not seen). For instance, when the government allocates a few hundred billion dollars for "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects, we see the jobs created (they put up big signs at the project sites to make sure we do). But we don't see the goods that would have been purchased, the investments that would have been made, and the jobs that would have been created if the government had left that money in private hands instead of taxing or borrowing it away. 

I contend that the death of a murderer represents a moral issue analogous to Bastiat's principle of economics. You can see the lifeless body of a terrorist or serial killer (or at least the news reports) and recognize that a human life has been taken. But too often, you fail to see the lives that have been spared in the future as a consequence of his death.

Not me. I celebrate the deaths of barbarians like Saad bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — because I'm gladdened by the thought of the innocent victims, the honest and peaceful people, who will be spared because of their demise. And I unashamedly value the lives of the latter more than the lives of the former. Ridding the world of such evil men and preventing their future acts of violence is the noble, decent, civilized thing to do. It is virtuous and it is just.

If you still insist that all killing is always wrong, here's a thought experiment. You see a man with his knife raised, about to stab the chest of a helpless, bound woman. There is a gun at hand. What would you do? Would you shoot him, trading his life for hers?

Would you do nothing, because taking any life is wrong? Then she dies, and he can move on to the next victim.

If all human life is equally valuable, and pain and suffering are bad, maybe you should shoot her! Either way, someone dies, and (since you don't care who) you can at least spare her a more painful death. 

I would shoot him without hesitation, and if I succeeded, I'd be relieved and happy for her and for his future victims. The lives of honest, peaceful, innocent people are infinitely more valuable than the lives of murderous predators.

Likewise, I hope that Predator drone did take out Saad bin Laden, and I'm gladdened by the thought of the lives that will be spared as a result of his death. Making a joke or two at the scumbag's expense is not out of order.

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Chrysler deal lives, Rule of Law is dead

Posted by Richard on June 10, 2009

This is terrible news. The Supreme Court has turned its back on Chrysler's secured creditors:

In a victory for the Obama administration driving the restructuring of bankrupt Chrysler, the court denied a request from Indiana pension funds to delay the sale to a group led by Fiat, a union-aligned trust and the U.S. and Canadian governments.

The White House welcomed the high court's action.

The Supreme Court decision followed a one-day stay issued by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that prevented the Chrysler/Fiat deal from closing on Monday as planned. The Fiat option was the only one pursued to save Chrysler from collapse.

The pension funds said the bankruptcy and appeals courts are moving too fast and contended that Chrysler's sale would unlawfully reward unsecured creditors ahead of secured lenders.

They also said that the plan amounted to an illegal reorganization and that the Treasury Department overstepped its legal authority by using financial bailout funds for Chrysler when Congress had intended the money for banks.

The Treasury has dedicated more than $12 billion for Chrysler and roughly $50 billion for GM as part of the government's bailout of stricken U.S. automakers.

From now on, whenever Tim Geithner and Barack Obama shout "It's a crisis! We have to act right now!" they're free to shred existing contracts, stiff secured creditors, and redistribute to their friends what's rightfully owed those creditors. So long, Rule of Law; hello, Peronism. 

So tell me, are you more or less likely to invest in corporate bonds knowing that Washington can wipe you out or give you pennies on the dollar with a wave of the hand?

What about Treasuries? This administration has now demonstrated that it has no respect for the contractual obligations entered into by others — and the Supremes have decided that it's expedient not to stand in their way. Does that make you more or less confident that the government will stand behind its own debt obligations? How do you think it makes the Chinese and Europeans feel about that?

This is a very sad day. Our president is a lean, cool, charismatic version of Hugo Chavez, and he's turning this country into a banana republic. And no one dares to stand in his way. 

I'm disgusted. 

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Empathy vs. the rule of law

Posted by Richard on May 28, 2009

At GetLiberty.org, William Warren succinctly summarized the problem with Sonia Sontomayor in this cartoon:

"What About the Constitution?" by William Warren

Dr. Thomas Sowell addressed the issue in greater depth in his latest column

Barack Obama’s repeated claim that a Supreme Court justice should have “empathy” with various groups has raised red flags that we ignore at our peril — and at the peril of our children and grandchildren.

“Empathy” for particular groups can be reconciled with “equal justice under law” — the motto over the entrance to the Supreme Court — only with smooth words. But not in reality. President Obama used those smooth words in introducing Judge Sotomayor but words do not change realities.

… Speaking at the University of California at Berkeley in 2001, she said that the ethnicity and sex of a judge “may and will make a difference in our judging.”

Moreover, this was not something she lamented. On the contrary, she added, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

No doubt the political spinmasters will try to spin this to mean something innocent. But the cold fact is that this is a poisonous doctrine for any judge, much less a justice of the Supreme Court.

That kind of empathy would for all practical purposes repeal the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees “equal protection of the laws” to all Americans.

The Sotomayor nomination, the railroading of bondholders, the massive expansions of wealth redistribution, and countless other actions and pronouncements have made it crystal clear that Barack Obama doesn't value the Constitution or "equal justice under law" very much. He gladly tosses them out when they interfere with his desire to expand the power of government and forcibly impose greater equality of outcomes. As Friedrich A. Hayek observed, the latter is incompatible with the former: 

From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time.

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Audit Congress update

Posted by Richard on February 16, 2009

Last Monday, I posted about the new site, AuditCongress.com. I hope you checked them out. Now they've got a petition up, and I enthusiastically support it (I suspect I was one of the first to sign it). So please visit (or revisit) AuditCongress.com, click the link, and sign their petition. Here's the entire text of the petition:

Whereas the Citizens of The United States of America have officials elected and appointed to offices of the highest power and responsibility, and whereas these same officials are human, and subject to the same faults as are all humans, and whereas recent history has shown that members of our Congress as well other high government officials may not have paid the taxes for which they are responsible:

We the undersigned Citizens of The United States of America hereby call upon both houses of the Congress of the United States, the President of the United States, as well as the President's appointees, to immediately volunteer to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service of the United States. Further, we call upon them to make public, in summary, the results of that audit. We further call for an annual audit for all of these named officials to be completed no later than June 30 of the following year, again making the results public within 30 days.

We petition the President to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to conduct audits for all volunteers immediately and to publish the summary results.

We petition the President to within the calendar year 2009, author and offer legislation to Congress enacting into federal law an annual income tax audit process for all of Congress, the President, and all of the President's appointees. We call on the President, The Secretaries of the Cabinet, and members of Congress to actively promote this legislation within the Congress on behalf of the American People until such time as it becomes the law of the land.

I love this idea and think supporting it is a no-brainer. I've got a suggestion for the next step: Dan and Peter should draft a candidate's pledge of support for the Audit Congress idea and ask potential candidates for Congress in 2010 to sign the pledge. Let's see which candidates are willing to say, "I'm squeaky clean and have nothing to hide." And let's let the public know who isn't.

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