Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 11:43 pm

Speaking of Justice Department malfeasance …

… having lost on the merits in the al-Haramain case, primarily by failing to offer a substantive defense for its illegal warrantless wiretapping, the Justice Department is now trying to fend off the judge’s proposed punishment by — wait for it —  trying to argue the case on the merits.

Snarks former federal prosecutor bmaz:

To me, based on my experience with courts and advocacy, the DOJ’s attitude is so malignant and unsophisticated that the only explanation is that they are desperately trying to get Judge Walker to lash out at them in order to contaminate the record. It is either that or Coppolino, Hertz, Letter et. al are such crappy lawyers they simply do not know better and, as craptastic as some of their work has been in this case, I do not buy that they are that poorly skilled.

Sheesh. If I have some time this weekend, I’m going to edit Wikipedia so that if you look up “Aegean stables,” you find a picture of the Justice Department. And one thing’s for sure: Eric Freaking Holder is no Herakles.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 11:11 pm

The OTHER report on John Yoo

Some months ago, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility issued a scrubbed report saying that by writing memos permitting torture, then-Justice officials John Yoo and Jay Bybee, now a Berkeley law professor and a federal appeals judge, respectively, had showed bad judgment but hadn’t committed “intentional professional misconduct,” which would merit disbarment.

I say “scrubbed” because the professional staff who prepared the report originally did conclude reach a misconduct conclusion, but a longtime Justice honcho, David Margolis, overruled them. (I examined the ridiculosity of Margolis’s action here.)

But torture wasn’t the only thing Yoo was going under the microscope for defending. He also was — and remains — under investigation for defending the idea that the President can order his fellow citizens wiretapped without a warrant. As it happens, a federal judge has finally, and officially, called bullshit on that notion. So that report will make interesting reading, too, even if Margolis once again steps in to get Yoo off the hook. And don’t bet that won’t happen: Margolis is a Justice lifer, for good or ill, and his current bosses appear to want that power just as badly as his old ones did.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 8:36 pm

Odds and ends for 1/19

He got that nickname the old-fashioned way: Blogger Ben Shapiro betrays such staggering ignorance of how the world and people work that he was long ago dubbed “The Virgin Ben.” He has branched out into writing about cinema for know-nothing blogger blowhard Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood site, and his virgin effort there suggests that he has never so much as held hands in a movie theater, either. (Tintin has better snark on this subject than I do.)

Dead. Bank. Walking: Citi lost $7.6B in 4Q2009. It should have been nationalized a year ago.

Why does Lisa Murkowski hate clean air and her own constituents’ villages?: On Wednesday, the Senate will vote on a measure sponsored by Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican who is the leading beneficiary of utility-industry political contributions, to gut the Clean Air Act. Murkowski’s bill was written by two staffers she hired away from lobbying positions with the utility industry.

You know all those YouTube clips from the movie “Downfall” that have Hitler raging about everything from subprime mortgages to “The Tonight Show”?: The director of “Downfall” loves ’em. It makes me happy to know that.

So far the good guys are winning: Blogger Marcy Wheeler, herself a lawyer, says the plaintiffs’ attorneys in Perez v. Schwarzenegger are outlawyerin’ the attorneys for the defendants (i.e., gay-marriage opponents). She also says science is winning, which is even better news.

More from Marcy: “Call me crazy, but …”: The FBI, between 2002 and 2006, illegally collected more than 2,000 U.S. telephone-call records. “Call me crazy,” Marcy says, “but since we know the FBI and NSA were illegally wiretapping organizations like al-Haramain in 2004, you have to wonder whether this was an attempt to clean up poison fruit from earlier, even more illegal surveillance.” OK, Crazy Lady, yes, we do have to wonder this. But only ’til the forthcoming Inspector General report proves it, I suspect. UPDATE: IG report here (306pp .pdf); as of early 1/21, I haven’t read it.

Some of the best and worst of local-TV journalism, all in one clip. (h/t Neill McNeill on FB) Contrast with this, on an arguably far more serious subject.

Racism is dead. OK, maybe not. (Warning: If you read the comments under that column, your brain cells that die will not be replaced.)

Public service: Alan Wolfe reads Game Change so you don’t have to. Bonus: He concludes that the DFHs are right.

Public screwing: The Charlotte Observer lays off more people. Memo to newspapers: You can’t cut your way out of this crisis. Memo to commenters: It ain’t the bias, it’s the advertising, and, oh, by the way, I’d really like a 7.0 earthquake to take out your house tonight while leaving your neighbors’ untouched, you self-righteous jackasses.

Shorter James Kunstler: Reality will not ignore YOU (Where have I heard that before?): “… reality doesn’t care what anybody believes, or what story they put out.  Reality doesn’t ‘spin.’ Reality does not have a self-image problem.  Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management. These days, Americans don’t like reality very much because it won’t let them push it around. Reality is an implacable force and the only question for human beings in the face of it is: what will you do?”

RIP: Carl Smith and Kate McGarrigle.

Have they found a real, live (dead) chupacabra?: Nah. But it sure looked like one.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009 11:25 pm

If Howard Kurtz gets any stupider, the universe is going to implode

The Washington Post’s media “critic” says that in the 2000s, “The media scorecard wasn’t all bad. … Newspapers exposed George W. Bush’s domestic surveillance program.”

Yeah, the New York Times wrote about it … after sitting on the completed story for more than a year, a period that included Bush’s 2004 re-election.

And then it did screwall to follow up, let alone push for a proper criminal investigation and indictments, even though damning evidence was all over the public record, including Bush’s own “Yeah, I did it, and I’m going to keep doing it and I dare you to stop me” radio address in December 2005.

Because of Howie the Putz, somewhere an honest journalist’s kids are going hungry.

UPDATE: It would appear that CNN’s Candy Crowley and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews also are threats to the continued existence of the universe. I’m sure someone on Fox is, too, but I’m too old and short of brain cells to be able to afford to check and identify the individuals.

Monday, November 2, 2009 8:45 pm

Apparently Obama thinks we can’t handle the truth

This was wrong when Bush did it, and it’s still wrong now that Obama is doing it:

The Obama administration has, yet again, asserted the broadest and most radical version of the “state secrets” privilege — which previously caused so much controversy and turmoil among loyal Democrats (when used by Bush/Cheney) — to attempt to block courts from ruling on the legality of the government’s domestic surveillance activities.  Obama did so again this past Friday — just six weeks after the DOJ announced voluntary new internal guidelines which, it insisted, would prevent abuses of the state secrets privilege.  Instead — as predicted — the DOJ continues to embrace the very same “state secrets” theories of the Bush administration — which Democrats generally and Barack Obama specifically once vehemently condemned — and is doing so in order literally to shield the President from judicial review or accountability when he is accused of breaking the law.

The case of Shubert v. Bush is one of several litigations challenging the legality of the NSA program, of which the Electronic Frontier Foundation is lead coordinating counsel. The Shubert plaintiffs are numerous American citizens suing individual Bush officials, alleging that the Bush administration instituted a massive “dragnet” surveillance program whereby “the NSA intercepted (and continues to intercept) millions of phone calls and emails of ordinary Americans, with no connection to Al Qaeda, terrorism, or any foreign government” and that “the program monitors millions of calls and emails . . . entirely in the United States . . . without a warrant” (page 4).  The lawsuit’s central allegation is that the officials responsible for this program violated the Fourth Amendment and FISA and can be held accountable under the law for those illegal actions.

The “17-dimensional chess” theory holds that Obama is having his administration make these arguments hoping that they’ll lose in court, to create a legal precedent that would discourage future attempts to pull this kind of stunt. Me, I think he is, in all sincerity, getting, and taking, some extremely bad and illegal advice.

Thursday, June 18, 2009 8:55 pm

Memo to the attorney general

TO: The Hon. Eric Holder, Attorney General
DATE: 18 June 2009
RE: The Bush administration’s illegal warrantless-wiretapping program

You may think there’s some meaningful distinction between “in contravention of” and “illegal,” or between “inconsistent with the dictates of — of FISA,” and “illegal.” But those of us who speak English know otherwise.

You weasel.

It was illegal. It was both a criminal and a civil violation of the law. In fact, the program constituted repeated violations because it was reauthorized every few weeks for quite a while.

But I guess you can’t use the word “illegal” because then you’d have to, well, do something about it.

Like, you know, your job.

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