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27 June 2016

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Alexandria

McDonell's conviction was a miscarriage of justice. Having worked for a governor and a President, I can say without hesitation that America is a "pay for access" democracy. It has always been thus. Donors make campaign contributions because they want to get in front of decision makers. Politicians remember who has given and who hasn't. It is not a "quid pro quo" system, but they do try to help their "friends". The system opens doors, but donors do not always get what they want. That is how I got towards the top of the queue in our political spoils system. The Supreme Court Justices recognize that this is the system, and has always been thus, because that is for the most part how they got their jobs.

LeaNder

sorry, I was distracted. I'll study this more closely. Not that events in Libya aren't important.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_Select_Committee_on_Benghazi

random choice:
"According to The Hill, the hearings provided a positive momentum for Clinton's 2016 campaign, with her performance generating headlines such as "Marathon Benghazi hearing leaves Hillary Clinton largely unscathed" (CNN), and "GOP lands no solid punches while sparring with Clinton over Benghazi" (The Washington Post). Her campaign received a windfall of donations, mostly coming from new donors.[65]"

***************
can anyone tell me, if I am completely wrong that this committee, I should have at least used that term, triggered the larger Clinto-email-private-server issue. I have to admit that I was basically skeptical, when I stumbled across the committee, I guess, earlier on here.

LeaNder

Following you off-topic: I noticed both, IZ. But interesting development no doubt. Although concerning Russia, keeping to the same argument.

A couple of members of the German government, I may get details wrong, recently were prevented by Tayyip to enter Turkey. They may have had the same more general idea to visit German troops in Incirlik. In any case, the German minister of defense is allowed to visit Incirlik now.

The argument for the decision to not let the members enter, seems to have been the recent parliament decision on Armenia. More precisely calling it genocide. Would/Could have a more Kemalist government responded differently?

ex-PFC Chuck

I’m disturbed that the decision appears to reinforce the Citizens United notion that the only kind of corruption that counts is quid pro quo corruption. Larry Lessig, in his book “Republic, Lost” which was inspired by that decision, argues that clauses in Sections 6 and 9 of Article I of the Constitution should be read to prohibit what he calls “dependence” or “systematic” corruption in general, rather than only the specific manifestations of it that were pertinent two and a quarter centuries ago. By basing their decision only on the free speech clause of the First Amendment and not considering these other clauses relevant, the author argues that the Citizens United majority dropped the ball. In a brief reprise of the book I read several years ago I’m unable to find a succinct definition of “dependence corruption,” but as Lessig puts it: “the challenge [facing the framers of the Constitution] was to craft a government in which each department was sufficiently independent to protect itself against systematic corruption by another, and to protect the people against systematic corruption by the government. From that perspective, the important question is whether we could call deviation from that dependency [on the will of the people] ‘corruption’ . . In my view, the answer to this question is obviously yes. Dependence corruption is plainly corruption. It also plainly infects the political system for the same reason that quid pro quo corruption does.” (p 241-242) In an environment in which a lot can be conveyed by winks and nods and there are built in incentives to kiss up to the boss, I find it a stretch to believe that gifts of the size and type in this case won’t have an effect on some elected politicians, if not McDonnell.

“Republic, Lost: The Corruption of Equality and the Steps to End It” http://amzn.to/1kb1KVs

Thomas

Ishmael,

Newcomer here SmoothieX12 has been giving a heads up recently that something major was coming down the pike and, I believe, these are the first steps that are being publically shown of what went down in private.

observed

+10

Ishmael Zechariah

Thomas,

Things are in flux in Turkey. Two bombs just went off and there is shooting in Ataturk Airport, the main one, in Istanbul. Something is happening. There will probably be an immediate news blackout. We will try to find out what we can and I will try to keep SST posted. Perhaps Kunuri can also help.
Ishmael Zechariah

observed

Yes, this must be why certain campaigns have such contempt for those who consider corruption to be a higher morality way of life. They (HRC supporters come to mind) especially Dem to be saying, "what, after you crazy? Why do you want a *higher* ethical standards!"

Tyler

I thought Thomas' dissent on the Texas Abortion case was pretty on point. He's not kidding when he states that abortion has become this sanctified object that the usual rules do not apply to when it hits SCOTUS.

SCOTUS hasn't been about rule of law for a while, tho. More about carving out more special privileges for progressive pets.

Fred

Tyler,

Here's another governmental overreach from the sunny islands of Hawaii:
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/hawaii-becomes-first-us-state-to-place-gun-owners-on-fbi-database/ar-AAhBtsP

Thomas

God bless friend.

oofda

Didn't want to weigh in again, but I have to differ with the thought that the DoJ prosecuted McDonnell 'in the sure knowledge that he had violated no law.' That would have been an egregious breach of ethics. The case looked like corruption, at least it passed the test with a team of prosecutors- who are career DoJ people. And they don't want to be tarred with a dodgy prosecution on their resume. The Court ruled against the instruction, which ventured into a fuzzy area of the law. So be it, sometimes the prosecution's theory holds up-sometimes not.

I hope no one is condoning what McDonnell and his wife did. Would a Virginia businessman promoting business that didn't give the Governor a Rolex or the loan of a Ferrari get the same access? Virginia legislators tightened up the rules on gifts in the wake of McDonnell's indictment- that means people thought something was wrong, if not illegal. I have had to investigate and deal with corruption and it is a corrosive force.

turcopolier

oofda

I lack your puritan enthusiasm for human perfection. I also have so much experience of mere DoJ lust for victory to agree with you. it is in fact the Department of Injustice. pl

alba etie

observed
It was IMO worth noting that the Obama DOJ tried and convicted Congresscritter Chakah Fattah (D ) for multiple Fraud counts regarding campaign contributions ..

Tyler

Fred,

Dead gay island wanting to be ruled over a chieftain. Go figure.

LeaNder

Ok, I somewhat avoided to look closer into this ...

However, since there is now a new definition of "official act", and the evidence at trial was not tested against that new definition, the supreme court said that the federal court of appeals is ...

There is no "new" definition of "official act" it still is: 18 U.S. Code § 201 (a) 3. The Supreme Court does not follow the reading/interpretation of the earlier courts.

Strictly already a lower court could have granted the plaintiff's motion to modify the jury instruction. In which case the Supreme Court wouldn't have needed to decide on the issue.

What they did, they carefully documented chronology of events, gifts & loans versus limited activities by the governor to help his "noble donor" to reach his three central aims (Fourth Circuit opinion, pdf p. 30, second paragraph, document p. 25).

But, these activities (earlier usage of "offical acts") never rise to the necessary "official act" (Supreme Court), in layman's terms McDonnell doesn't "misuse" his power as governor. He only facilitates encounters with the respective doorkeepers, who in turn are fully free to decide on the issues at hand. Apparently, they weren't convinced and didn't feel pressured to do anything by McDonnell, but were free to decide against the "generous man". Mind you had the briber reached his aims, the gifts and loans would have resulted in gains much, much, much higher then his "investment". Gambled and lost?

I only recall a this hearsay assessment suggesting political pressure:
A UVA employee in the university research office, who had never spoken with the Governor about Anatabloc, testified that she wrote a pro/con list concerning research studies on Anatabloc. The first “pro” was the “[p]erception to Governor that UVA would like to workwith local companies,” and the first “con” was the “[p]olitical pressure from Governor and impact on future UVA requests from the Governor.” Id., at 4321, 4323 (Sharon Krueger).

Probably the result of this, quite stark, or funny if you like:
The guest list for the event included researchers at the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University. During the event, Star Scientific distributed free samples of Anatabloc, in addition to eight $25,000 checks that researchers could use in preparing grant proposals for studying Anatabloc. Governor McDonnell asked researchers at the event whether they thought “there was some scientific validity” to Anatabloc and “whether or not there was any reason to explore this further.” Id., at 3344.

It's not the governor directly exerting pressure here. You can blame McDonnell for allowing something like this to happen in his house, but, as we know, he was a bit in a fix, and may even a bit surprised, or embarrassed. Swiftly jamming verbally on the legal brakes.

And now I read it all. Good bye. ;)

Babak Makkinejad

I think communists also shared in this idea of human perfectibility; aiming for the "Communist Man".

I suspect this was a common inheritance from the Enlightenment Tradition.

bt

I also agree.

This decision, along with rulings like Citizen's United are creating an environment where wealthy people and corporation can effectively purchase the government. This has always been going on, but now they don't even have to hide it.

Similar / related decisions granting "personhood" to corporations and "religious rights" to businesses are equally troubling. The wealthy are pouring billions into our elections and they don't need to disclose the expenditures and who they are supporting, so you can't even follow the money for the quid pro quo. The government is more or less being taken over by the wealthy.

Not good at all.

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