…so…it’s a mite pretentious to go borrowing lines from shakespeare for the title & all…but I got somewhat distracted yesterday by some stuff from the land of the bard which it could be argued might indeed make for references to “a whole tribe of fops”…or indeed the sentiment of “stand up for bastards”…but I’ll get to that later…although, speaking of the UK…if anyone’s interested it would appear that the cops over there seem to think they might have arrested the people responsible for shooting that activist the other day
…but the chances are they won’t be throwing away the key…which you may or may not think is a good thing
Life-without-parole sentences are steadily replacing the death penalty across the United States. Almost 56,000 people nationwide are now serving sentences that will keep them locked up until they die, an increase of 66 percent since 2003, according to The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit that advocates for shorter prison terms.
By comparison, only 2,500 people nationally are on death row according to the Death Penalty Information Center; the number of new death sentences dwindled to 18 last year, as prosecutors increasingly seek life instead. Executions are less popular with Americans than they used to be, according to Gallup, and are astronomically expensive to taxpayers. In Dallas, the district attorney’s office says it asks for capital punishment only for egregious crimes where defendants present a continuing threat to society.
But as life without parole displaces capital punishment, the country’s patchwork system of public defense hasn’t kept up. Only 11 states report having minimum qualifications for lawyers who represent impoverished people facing a lifetime behind bars, according to the nonprofit Sixth Amendment Center. In Texas, there’s a continuing dispute over whether the standards for death penalty defense apply if prosecutors seek life without parole instead.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/life-without-parole-sentences-are-exploding-america-s-legal-defense-system-hasn-t-kept-pace
…& although the woman who was shot would appear to still be in critical condition it’s sort of amazing to me anytime the phrase “shot in the head” doesn’t go hand in hand with a fatality…which in itself is hardly surprising, I guess
…so I guess I’d be inclined to think that what’s true of suicides is liable to hold for disputes that end up involving firearms…which is why this kind of grandstanding seems…ill-advised…even by the standards of texas?
Abbott, a Republican, said last month that he would support the so-called permitless carry bill, which would apply to people 21 and older beginning later this year.
The bill’s authors have said the law is necessary because obtaining a license to carry a handgun in the state — which requires training, a written test, fingerprints and other measures — “infringes” on Texans’ Second Amendment rights.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/texas-lawmakers-ready-to-let-residents-carry-handguns-without-permit
…but then…they do say talk is cheap
…maybe they just mean the kind of talk people are prepared to be quoted on
The memo in question concerns Barr’s rationale for not charging Trump. In justifying this decision, Barr cited an OLC memo he claimed he’d relied upon in making it.
In a case that began when Trump was still president, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed suit to access the memo. Trump’s Justice Department wanted to keep it secret.
Biden’s Justice Department has come to the same conclusion, arguing that since it relates to internal deliberations it shouldn’t be made public.
But in a ruling earlier this month, federal judge Amy Berman Jackson excoriated the department. Having read the memo, Jackson suggested it indicates that Barr and the department badly misled the public in claiming it as the rationale for not charging Trump. She ordered the memo released.
[…]The department had claimed Barr relied on the OLC memo in his decision-making, as though it were some kind of neutral arbiter whose judgment he sought. But Jackson revealed that, in fact, the OLC memo was written in cooperation with Barr while he was making his own decision about how to handle Mueller’s report.https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/05/25/memo-bidens-doj-time-open-books-trump-russia-scandal/
The ongoing fallout from the handling of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings is likely to fuel and frustrate Trump’s biggest critics, particularly Democrats who have long argued that Barr stage-managed an exoneration of Trump after Mueller submitted a 448-page report describing his investigation into whether the 2016 Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the election, and whether Trump tried to obstruct that investigation.
Portions of the memo that remain sealed contain brief factual and legal analyses of at least some of the incidents of possible obstruction that Mueller found. The memo concludes that each did not meet the threshold the Justice Department would need to file a criminal case, even if doing so had been possible, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the document is sealed. The analysis focused at least in part on the lack of a precedent for building an obstruction case around instances of the president using his executive power in ways that would normally be allowed, such as the firing of James B. Comey as FBI director in 2017, these people said.
“The suggestion that the Attorney General’s advisors were helping him make a decision about whether to initiate or decline a prosecution is contrary to the very memorandum at issue,” Jackson wrote in a newly unsealed section. “So why did the Attorney General’s advisors, at his request, create a memorandum that evaluated the prosecutive merit of the facts amassed by the Special Counsel? Lifting the curtain reveals the answer to that too: getting a jump on public relations.”
Jackson concludes that rather than weigh legal issues, the memo shows Barr’s Justice Department “was girding for a preemptive strike on the Mueller report instead.”
For decades, Justice Department policy has held that sitting presidents could not be charged with a crime. But the memo to Barr went beyond that constitutional position, arguing “certain of the conduct examined by the Special Counsel could not, as a matter of law, support an obstruction charge under the circumstances. Accordingly, were there no constitutional barrier, we would recommend, under the Principles of Federal Prosecution, that you decline to commence such a prosecution.”
The memo also argued that the Justice Department should make a decision whether Trump broke the law — even though Mueller had very carefully avoided answering that question, citing Justice Department policy against charging a sitting president.
“The Attorney General’s characterization of what he’d hardly had time to skim, much less, study closely, prompted an immediate reaction, as politicians and pundits took to their microphones and Twitter feeds to decry what they feared was an attempt to hide the ball,” Jackson wrote.
In the case of the memo on whether Trump could be charged, the judge concluded that, rather than Barr following OLC advice, his decision and the memo “were being written by the very same people at the very same time,” working “hand in hand to craft the advice” that the office supposedly delivered to Barr.
“Not only was the Attorney General being disingenuous then, but DOJ has been disingenuous to this Court with respect to the existence of a decision-making process that should be shielded by the deliberative process privilege,” Jackson concluded, writing the memo “was expressly understood to be entirely hypothetical” and that prior redacted versions of the document “deliberately obscured this fundamental aspect of the exercise.”
The judge found that claims made by the department to try to shield the memo from public scrutiny “are so inconsistent with evidence in the record, they are not worthy of credence,” and said the department sought to “obfuscate” that it had set out to create a legal justification for a decision Justice Department leaders had already made — to not accuse the president of a crime.Justice Dept. releases part of internal memo on not charging Trump in Russia probe [WaPo]
…the devil, as the saying goes, is in the details
…although the broad strokes seem clear enough to me…same as it ever was?
…if you had all the facts in front of you not charging the guilty-looking-motherfucker would seem unjustifiable one would assume
…& although mueller was arguably quite adroit in finding a way to dance around that…barr is too much the blunt instrument to have managed the same feat…although from the looks of it most of the lines of defense being adopted by the most criminally implicated alleged president in history seem to only to be interested in the sort of details that change “say, it ain’t so” into “say it ain’t so”
Lawyers for former President Donald Trump urged a federal judge late Monday to dismiss a lawsuit against him filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat who helped argue the House impeachment case against Trump.
The former president has absolute immunity from civil lawsuits over his official actions while in office, his lawyers argued, and he was free as president to advocate for Congress to take action favorable to him in counting the electoral vote, just as he was free to push Congress to pass bills he supported.
They also said the lawsuit improperly invites the federal courts “to make a determination about what is or is not proper for the president to say at a political speech advocating for governmental action.”
The mob attack on the Capitol was “a direct and foreseeable consequence of the defendants’ false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the defendants’ express calls for violence,” Swalwell’s lawsuit said.
In their response, the Trump lawyers argued that because he was impeached, tried in the Senate and acquitted, Trump cannot be sued for the same conduct.
The Constitution provides that a president who is impeached and convicted in the Senate can, once out of office, be subject to criminal or civil actions. His lawyers argue, without offering any legal support, that the opposite must be true: A president acquitted in the Senate is beyond the reach of the courts over similar claims.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-asks-judge-to-throw-out-capitol-riot-lawsuit
…& while we’re on the subject of bogus blunt instruments
Arizona Republicans passed a measure on Tuesday to strip Democrat Katie Hobbs, the current secretary of state, of her ability to defend election lawsuits, a seemingly partisan retaliation for her sharp criticism of the party’s controversial election audit.
The bill, which passed both the state’s House and Senate Appropriations committees, puts the attorney general, Republican Mark Brnovich, in charge of defending all lawsuits through January 2, 2023, which is around the end of his and Hobbs’ current terms.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/arizona-republicans-introduce-bill-strip-powers-democratic-secretary-state
This measure, which has to pass the full legislature, comes as Senate Republicans are leading a 2020 election audit of the state’s largest county. They have hired several firms to conduct the audit, which is led by Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based firm that has no experience auditing elections and is run by a supporter of former President Donald Trump who has promoted baseless election conspiracies.
“The fact that the legislature has singled me and my office for these unjustifiable restrictions — restrictions which expire at the end of my term — make it clear what this is really about: partisan politics,” Hobbs said in a statement. “The most extreme members of our legislature think they can stop me from doing my job and working on behalf of Arizona voters. I’ll keep proving them wrong.”
“Unfortunately, it appears AG Brnovich isn’t asking forgiveness for his behavior — he’s asking our legislature to authorize it,”
The results of the presidential election in the state were razor-thin, with the incoming president triumphing by a bit over 10,000 votes. There were vague questions about the validity of the outcome, including unsupported conspiracy theories about foreign actors shifting the results. But those were just theories, ones offered by supporters of the losing candidate without any robust evidence.
So, attorneys for the winning candidate dismissed the idea that a recount was needed.
“On what basis does [Green Party candidate Jill] Stein seek to disenfranchise Michigan citizens? None really, save for speculation,” Donald Trump’s attorneys wrote in a legal filing in December 2016 objecting to Stein’s effort to count the cast ballots again after their client’s win. “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”
Oh, did you think I was talking about something else?
It is also the case that all available evidence suggests that the 2020 presidential election was not tainted by fraud or mistake, including in Michigan, where Biden won by 154,000 votes, or in Arizona, where he won by about 10,500. Yet the response from Trump and his allies to the idea that votes should face new scrutiny has been very different.
So, in Arizona, the Republican-led state Senate authorized an effort to scrutinize the results not statewide but in one county, Maricopa, that alone accounted for Biden’s margin of victory. That effort is being conducted not by experienced auditors but instead by a firm that hasn’t done this work before and that is run by a guy who has actively embraced the sorts of fraud allegations for which no available evidence exists.
Over and over, those close to the Arizona effort have used the same descriptor for its eventual outcome: no-win. If the audit simply shuts down, like Trump’s fraud commission, there’s no reason for Trump supporters or the firm running the audit not to hype the idea that it found significant irregularities. If it releases findings that throw more than 10,000 ballots into some sort of “unverified” category — as seems almost certain — the forces of reality will be forced to note all of the asterisks and bad decisions that undergird those findings as the findings themselves are hailed as bulletproof by Fann and Trump. If the results of the review mirror the confirmed result in the county (which, incidentally, had already passed a state review), there will be a lot of pressure from Trump’s base of support on Fann and Trump to reject them. In no scenario is the result one that everyone will be motivated to accept.
We need to be specific about one point. That the process is unfolding as it is necessarily a function of trying to undermine the results of the election. It was motivated by that outcome and is predicated on the idea that there are ballots to be thrown out. There is no way that the most egregious conspiracy theories can be confirmed as false because such theories, like water, will reshape to fill whatever container they’re in. That numerous ballots have already been flagged as suspect according to observers — often for reasons that experienced observers understand aren’t suspect at all — means that the desired gray area has already been created.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/26/unresolvable-dishonesty-heart-arizona-election-review/
…in fact the bullshit the GOP seems to be trying to flood the field with at a state level is (no doubt by design) somewhat dizzying…doubtless we’ll get back to the undermining of roe v. wade in days to come…but you know this bullshit?
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill Monday aiming to punish social media companies for their moderation decisions. The law would fine Internet companies if they suspend political candidates in the run-up to elections. It also would also make it easier for the Florida state attorney general and individuals to bring lawsuits when they think tech companies have acted unfairly. (You can read more about the Florida law in my Monday article).
Legal experts say they expect to see lawsuits challenging the measure. Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University Law School in California, described the bill as bad policy and warned that some of its provisions are “obviously unconstitutional” because they restrict the editorial discretion of online publishers. He said some aspects of the law also would be preempted by a federal Internet law known as Section 230 that shields Internet companies from lawsuits over posts, photos and other content shared on their services.
“I see this bill as purely performative; it was never designed to be law but simply to send a message to voters,” Goldman said in an interview.
The Florida legislation, which takes effect July 1, underscores how Republicans are increasingly targeting tech giants in state legislatures, while their ability to take action at the federal level is limited as Democrats control Washington. The Biden administration recently revoked a Trump-era executive order calling on the Federal Communications Commission to rethink the scope of Section 230 and when its liability protections apply.
The Texas Senate has approved legislation similar to Florida’s that would prevent large tech companies from blocking or discriminating against users based on their viewpoints or location within Texas. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has expressed support for that bill. North Carolina and Louisiana state lawmakers have introduced similar measures.
“It’s open season on the Internet at the state level,” Goldman said.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/25/technology-202-tech-groups-criticize-florida-social-media-law-unconstitutional-setting-stage-legal-action/
…but that’s the way it goes when you’re a special case
But for how many years should Apple get to milk billions of dollars of almost pure profit from an invention first released back when George W. Bush was president? What justification is there any longer for Apple’s severe restrictions on how users and software makers can do business with each other, other than that it has the market power to impose them? Isn’t it time we were all given a break from the Apple tax?
Apple’s tax is a great boon to its bottom line. It is a costly drag for the users who spend enormous sums on its products and for developers looking to create apps to add tricks to your iPhone. And it can no longer be defended with a straight face.The Apple Tax Is Rotten
…it’s like the cash truly enormous business interests hold the purse strings to exerts its own gravity & the physics of the legal landscape warps in its proximity
…although to be fair…or not as the case may be…that gravity well seems to bend both ways
…so, anyway…that business I was talking about way back at the top…well…there’s this guy, see…you might have heard of him even…he’s called dominic cummings…& basically he’s kind of an asshole…he’s the one that royally fucked up the government’s position on the whole lockdown thing by swanning off to a place called barnard castle…for the longest time boris acted like he couldn’t do without him but in the end he got fired from his (unelected) post as special adviser…& I’m not saying he’s a bitch…but you know that thing they say about “a woman scorned”?
Cummings’ evidence on Wednesday was being closely watched across Westminster, after a string of highly critical tweets in recent days in which he has criticised the decisions made by his former boss, and the preparedness of Whitehall for a crisis.https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/may/26/uk-government-failed-public-on-covid-response-says-dominic-cummings
…so…yeah…the brexit-happy champion of let’s-fuck-shit-up-&-call-it-progress was out for payback because he got used as a handy scapegoat a little while ago…& basically seemed to take the attitude that if they were going to throw him under a bus he was going to find a bigger bus & throw some others under that…particularly this dude called matt hancock…who to be fair hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory as the health secretary…but also his old chum boris
Boris Johnson is unfit to be prime minister after presiding over a chaotic and incompetent pandemic response that caused many thousands of unnecessary deaths, his former chief aide Dominic Cummings claimed in an excoriating attack.
In a seven-hour hearing before MPs in Westminster, Cummings gave a damning account of the government’s approach, laying much of the blame on Johnson and the health secretary, Matt Hancock.
The ousted aide said the prime minister had failed to grasp the gravity of the situation and held out against lockdowns meaning “tens of thousands of people died who didn’t need to die”. He portrayed Johnson as obsessed with the media and making constant U-turns “like a shopping trolley smashing from one side of the aisle to the other”.
Other allegations in Cummings’ no-holds-barred testimony included:
* Hancock lied repeatedly to colleagues, causing the cabinet secretary – and Cummings – to urge Johnson to sack him, though the prime minister was told that “he’s the person you fire when an inquiry comes along”.
* Cummings heard Johnson say he would rather see “bodies pile high” than impose a third lockdown – something the prime minister has denied in the House of Commons.
* The government was woefully under-prepared for the pandemic, with no sense of urgency or plan for steps to protect vulnerable people, such as shielding.
* Ministers were assured patients leaving hospital for care homes would be tested first but belatedly discovered this was happening “partially and sporadically”.
* The prime minister’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds, meddled in hiring decisions to try to secure jobs for her friends in a way that was “unethical” and “illegal”.
He claimed that only in mid-March was an initial plan to pursue “herd immunity”, by allowing the virus to spread but delaying the peak of the outbreak, belatedly abandoned. Herd immunity “was the whole logic of all the discussions in January and February and early March”, Cummings told the hearing.
He said the prime minister had repeatedly played down the seriousness of the disease, calling it a “scare story”. Cummings even claimed officials deliberately kept Johnson out of emergency Cobra meetings lest he hamper the response to the virus.
“Certainly, the view of various officials inside No 10 was if we have the PM chair Cobra meetings, and he just tells everyone ‘don’t worry about it, I’m going to get [England’s chief medical officer] Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with coronavirus, so everyone realises it’s nothing to be frightened of,’ that would not help, actually, serious planning.”https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/may/26/boris-johnson-is-unfit-to-be-prime-minister-says-dominic-cummings
…quite the sideshow, I’m sure you’ll agree
Who better to judge the true significance of Dominic Cummings’ Big Day Out at parliament than Dominic Cummings himself? Not the grave-faced, shaven-headed man we’ve been watching, ladling out his revenge cold, but an earlier incarnation. Before he became chief adviser to Boris Johnson, before he compromised his own government’s lockdown rules by driving the family to Barnard Castle; before all of that, when he was just a guy holed up in a bunker with his blog, composing screeds about Bismarck, he anticipated the absurdity of today’s carnival: “The political-media system,” he wrote in a 2017 post, “actively suppresses thinking about, and focus on, what’s important.”
Westminster demands a diversion and, over the months leading up to this hearing, Cummings has made himself its distractor-in-chief. Ever happy to fatten the beast he only pretends to despise, he has drip-fed journalists poison about his former confidants. And a grateful press hyped up the coming “Domageddon”, describing him as the “terrifying” kamikaze genius prepared to slay the prime minister or, at the very least, detonate Matt Hancock for “lying”.
In a country that as late as 2019 considered itself to be among the best prepared on Earth to handle a pandemic, hundreds of thousands of families are today struggling with premature death or the nursing of a chronically ill loved one, and the loss of vital income. Forget the blame game being played on Downing Street, this is an indictment of an entire governing class: lethal in its complacency, cocksure despite its manifest inadequacy, and forever blocking its eyes and ears to the lessons from history, or even the TV pictures from hospitals across northern Italy.
“When the public needed us most, the government failed,” Cummings acknowledged on Wednesday. And tens of thousands died as a result. That’s what counts, not who said what about herd immunity. The machinery of state buckled, the government all but collapsed – not just once, but again and again: from PPE to lockdowns to test and trace to care homes. The result is that Johnson’s UK stands alongside Donald Trump’s US as a cautionary tale of what happens when a ragtag bunch of cash-in merchants, state-haters and incompetent braggarts are allowed to run a country in grave danger. Plenty of examples of that were given to the parliamentary committee: Johnson pretending to be the mayor from Jaws, Cummings dreaming of replacing dull old civil servants with supercomputers, and Hancock blagging his way through.
The thread that pulls all this together is denialism. The denial you saw etched on the face of Hancock last spring is now writ large across what Cummings calls the “political-media system”. Many of the pundits and politicians refuse to take on board how singularly badly the UK has handled the pandemic, even while relatively poor states such as Vietnam have done much better.The Dominic Cummings circus is an indictment of the entire governing class [Guardian]
…so…yeah…if the steam coming out of my ears yesterday disrupted the local weather conditions in your neck of the woods I can only apologize…but if any of that should happen to infuriate you anywhere like as much as it does me…maybe, like me, you might find a certain solace to be found courtesy of one john crace
Not so much a parliamentary hearing, more an eight-hour Netflix miniseries. The one where a lone delusional narcissist drives into town to take revenge on a whole bunch of other delusional narcissists. With a bit of Independence Day and Spider-Man thrown in.
Dominic Cummings’ appearance before the joint science and technology and health select committee always promised to be good box office and it didn’t disappoint. By the end of the session the body count included Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, half the senior civil servants in Downing Street, Cobra, Carrie Symonds and Dilyn the dog. Not forgetting Cummings himself. It’s not in Dom’s makeup to resist a self-inflicted wound.
His was a tale of hubris. The Dominic Cummings who was shocked to find there was a man called Dominic Cummings who had been the chief adviser to the prime minister. The man who could write endless 15,000-word esoteric blogs about why he was right about everything yet was unable to fulfil his basic job description. The chief adviser who was unable to advise. Whose position as the second most powerful figure in Downing Street was meaningless because his advice was consistently ignored.
Which isn’t to say the apologies weren’t self-serving. Cummings knows the rules of the game and if you want to go on the attack, then it’s first best to make sure you’ve covered your back. First in the crosshairs was the health secretary. Hancock was basically a serial liar who should have been fired back in April last year. Saying that patients would be tested before being released into care homes was only the greatest in an extensive catalogue of crimes, Cummings claimed. Dom – along with most of Downing Street – had begged the prime minister to sack him on a daily basis, only for Johnson to refuse, because he wanted to save him as a sacrificial lamb for the inevitable public inquiry.
But it was the revelations about Boris that were the most startling. Not so much the stuff about herd immunity, the mayor of Jaws, “kung flu”, wanting to be injected with coronavirus live on TV by Chris Whitty, rejecting a September circuit breaker or letting the bodies pile high rather than have a third lockdown: all these had been heavily trailed. It was the levels of sheer incompetence that were gobsmacking. The deputy cabinet secretary who had barged in to conclude: “We’re absolutely fucked”; a cabinet that had ceased to function and a leader unfit for office whose actions had cost the lives of tens of thousands of people.
Boris was basically an out-of-control shopping trolley careening from side to side down the aisles. A man who woke up without a plan and just reacted to whatever he had read in the papers. “The country deserved better than a choice between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn at the last election,” said Cummings, apparently having forgotten that he had done more than almost anyone to get Boris into No 10. There again, he also said it was crackers someone like him should have got into such a powerful position in government and that thousands of people could have done the job better than him.https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/may/26/dominic-cummings-the-movie-jaw-dropping-grubby-and-delusional
It had been by turns both jaw-dropping and grubby viewing. On balance, it felt as if some light had crept through the cracks. The families of the bereaved deserved better than truths carved out of a desire to settle some personal scores. But for now they would have to settle for what they could get.