Re: Rule Of Law

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What now? Learn to pick your friends.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 10:44 AM
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Start snitching!


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 10:47 AM
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Two cheers for international law!


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 10:52 AM
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baa, in the apocalyptic totalitarian future, you'll put in a good word for me, right?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 10:52 AM
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One problem with the rule of law is smarty pants lawyers. When on of them finds a "loophole" that either no one had noticed before, or thought no one would ever be so crass as to try, well then katie bar the door. Everything is legal unless it isn't.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 10:53 AM
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Yeah. It's funny, people talk about losing faith in the government after Watergate, but in retrospect Watergate and Nixon's impeachment look so innocent and healthy. We elected a criminal who brought with him a team of criminals to misuse government power for personal ends, and when it was revealed, people were shocked. And they threw him out.

Now, it's like we've seen enough of the inside workings of the government to see it crawling with maggots, riddled with rot throughout, and nothing's happening to make people trust that it's going to get fixed. Maybe this is just realism replacing naivete, but there was something valuable about the naivete -- about being able to trust that there were limits beyond which people in power wouldn't go.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 10:54 AM
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well then katie bar the door.

Ay-yi-yi, Katie! Whatever became of the Navajo rug and you?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 10:55 AM
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and nothing's happening to make people trust that it's going to get fixed.

Nothing has happened to make me think that most people care one way or the other. That's what was shocking to me. Now I think we're mostly custom driven, and law's just a nice skein for power.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 10:56 AM
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Threadjack: It looks like the stupid Coleman-Domenici amendment is up for a vote today (that's the one that makes it so that if you report an assault or domestic violence and you're an illegal immigrant the cops can shop you to immigration. Which means that if you're an illegal immigrant woman being beaten by your spouse, you can choose between deportation and calling the cops. If this is of political concern to you, there is a link to NOW's page on it here and they're urging you to call your senator. Unfortunately worthless, greedy, piggish empathy-less Senator Coleman from Minnesota is one of the sponsors, so I could only effectively call one of mine.

Seriously, no matter how you feel about immigration, this kind of thing is already a HUGE problem in immigrant communities even with the firewall that is supposed to exist (illegal AND legal, because a lot of legal folks know illegal folks). And if it makes any difference to you, remember that a lot of "illegal" residents are just students and random visa over-stayers, and there are a lot of illegal immigrants who are refugees who can't get legally but who nonetheless fled real danger.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 10:57 AM
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What does Jim Henley say? Why the hell does that site never work for me?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 10:57 AM
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The interesting thing to me, as pointed out in the link, is that the Dems don't seem all that eager to undo the damage. It really looks like they can't wait to use the tools developed by these jokers for their own nefarious schemes, some of which may even be welcomed by the electorate. But the process has definately been warped. Too much power in too few hands.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 10:59 AM
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7: I don't know what happened to Katie, but here's the rug.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:04 AM
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Now we step up to the gates of the saltworks to be braned.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:06 AM
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11: He says that we're fucked. Excerpts:

[Quoting someone else] The rule of law has been fundamentally compromised in the United States. What do we do now, particularly if we personally still care about the rule of law and don't want it to be any further violated by whatever steps we might take in response? How do we work within the system to save the system?

...
Jason explains the stakes pretty well in the rest of the piece. "BTFOOM" is my very own internet abbreviation for "Beats . . . Me."
...

So, I'm kind of at a loss, guys! I know that violence isn't the answer. It takes about five seconds reflection to recognize that, other than stroking one's sense of frustration, violent opposition to government authoritarianism simply reinforces the assumptions and habits of mind that destroy the rule of law in the first place.

But that doesn't mean I have a foolproof idea otherwise. It looks like the Bush Administration will leave office with all the doors they've opened unshut. There will be no definitive repudiation of their assumptions and methods. As Jason and Arthur Silber and others have argued over the years, the problem isn't just what they've done but what they can do.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:08 AM
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14 to 10, not 11.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:09 AM
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I know that TLL prides himself on cynicism and all, but 4 kinda worries me more than the linked post (which I agree with too). When smart people, especially smart people who are themselves lawyers, start bitching about what's wrong with the rule of law, we're in trouble.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:11 AM
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9: Phone calls made. (I couldn't get through to Hillary's office -- left a message on her NY office's voicemail -- but I figure she's reliable on this sort of thing.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:17 AM
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16: And I really do disagree with it. Laws that are inherently technical, like the tax and campaign finance laws, are all about finding and exploiting loopholes, but that's inherent in the nature of the game.

Laws that are really meant to govern substantive conduct, on the other hand, I rarely (not never, but very rarely) see exploitation of something that looks like a 'loophole'. I may see legal results I disagree with, but very very rarely something that there isn't a solid substantive reason for.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:20 AM
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Ah. Okay, here's what you do:

Pressure the democratic presidential candidates to promise a thorough investigation of the Bush administration's torture of detainees & abuses of executive power--either through a special prosecutor at DOJ, an independent commission with real powers (subpoenas, staff with security clearances sufficient to access classified info, power to recommend declassification of documents as needed, etc), or some combination of the two.

I suppose I should write a manifesto about this in a post instead of repeating myself in comments. But manifesto-drafting is time consuming & people tend to ignore me.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:23 AM
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18: I find that astonishing.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:24 AM
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Yay, LB! Regardless of the larger picture, I will be a happier person if this stupid thing is defeated.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:27 AM
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I'm not claiming that every legal result is just, or that judges don't get stuff wrong, or that there aren't bad laws. But specifically what TLL was talking out: looking at something someone is doing and saying "Huh. It seems so devastatingly wrong, but if you look at the letter of the law, it's not illegal. That bastard! If only this situation had been considered when the law was drafted." doesn't happen much at all IME.

(I'm actually working on a case which is as close as you usually come to that kind of situation -- my client is morally in the wrong, in that we're not paying for something we used. But it's not a 'loophole' that's going to make them get away with it -- much more like the classic Animal House argument: "You fucked up, you trusted us.")


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:29 AM
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Bitch, please do not insult those called to the bar by including me in their ranks. The current monkeybusiness does make me wonder how The Founders could have been so prescient as to anticipate the power grab. Good old bear fucking Washington warned of "factions", and of course famously warned against "foreign entaglements". Checks and balances are worth a good God Damn if they are not exercised. C'mon Nancy- do your job! Stop worrying about how big your plane is and start acting like the third most powerful officeholder in America.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:34 AM
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11: Evidence, please.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:36 AM
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18: There's a reason why the cliche about the letter vs. the spirit of the law exists; yes, legalism can lead to injustice. But it's a hell of a lot better than any known alternative--at least with legalistic arguments, the basis for judgment is (theoretically) available to anyone who cares to look into it.

23: Really? Your pseud always led me to think you were a lawyer. What are you, then?

Pelosi's gone ahead and done quite a lot of acting like the third most powerful officeholder, actually. The Malkins and Coulters just make a big fat fucking noise about the plane thing because they're hoping if they do, people like you will make precisely that mistake.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:39 AM
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Well, no one should have expected anything like MCA repeal other than as a rider to DOD appropriations. We're not there yet, so it's early to give up.

In the meantime, the MCA process is pretty thoroughly discredited -- even the proponents of the system have to have been embarrassed by the use of the great new war crimes tribunal on the smallest of fish.

On Suspension, it just takes time: Justices Kennedy and Stevens were wrong, imo, to send the Boumediene petitioners to their DTA remedy, but the legal proposition -- exhaust statutory remedies before facing constitutional issues -- is one of long standing, and is fundamentally sound.

Obviously, it'd be really good if 10 Republican senators would be willing to join in an effort to restore the rule of law. To the extent that offering bills that won't pass is a means to get there, i've got no problem with it. On the other hand, I don't like the courts seeing us losing in Congress, because they can draw the wrong inference.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:42 AM
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, the basis for judgment is (theoretically) available to anyone who cares to look into it.

Which is to say that there are constraints only so far as enough people (or enough of the right people) care. And it turns out that sometimes they don't. I took that to be, to a rough approximation, what Henley was talking about, and it's just depressing.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:46 AM
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25 b. Commerical Real Estate Broker. When it comes to leeching, brokers have it all over lawyers.
25 a. I am in complete agreement with the quote attributed to Winston Churchill that Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. I extend that to the rule of law. I do not believe that humans can create a better system for self governance. But as with any system, there are flaws. Only God is perfect.
25 c. was a small joke. apparantly too small.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:51 AM
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23: If you actually believe that whole GOP bamboozlement about Nancy Pelosi and the airplane, well, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'm looking to sell. Sounds like you might be interested.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:52 AM
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Care, or can afford to hire people to care for them. Yes, I know. Inequity of resources is depressing. But again, theoretically, these issues are addressable through stuff like appeals and public defenders and the lot. It's a pretty nice system, as systems go.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:53 AM
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28: Huh. I'd been assuming lawyer from your pseud as well, but not-a-lawyer makes much more sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:54 AM
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28a: Ah. Yeah, and real estate in some parts of the world is definitely a leech-like activity. But I didn't think real estate people were supposed to wear tassled loafers.

28b: The question is, are the flaws in the implementation or in the system itself?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 11:59 AM
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30: I think we're talking about different things. I don't think the issue is the resources of the parties involved in the suit, but the rather the resources or influence of the parties concerned about the suit. I think it probably works out fine at the moment, because we're a big enough country with no stable majority political or economic power in most areas, but I think that's pretty much the reason it works out in most cases.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 12:03 PM
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The firm I used to be associated with is big on pocket squares and cufflinks, too.

32 b. Same diff, no? Unless by system you mean the idea of rule of law, which is neutral.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 12:05 PM
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34b: "Same diff" sounds like the kind of thing I'd say. And in a sense, you're right. But that's not exactly what I meant; I meant that the flaws in the legal system as such seem to be implementation, rather than inherent. Which means, again theoretically, that they're fixable or overcomeable.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 12:08 PM
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I tend to agree with LB except with regard to a lot of regulatory law and criminal sentencing (even with recent improvements). Oh, and the law of corporations. But IAOACL.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 12:08 PM
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It is still my fervent hope that Blair will one day touch down in some nation where there's a prosecutorially inclined judge or advocate, and he gets banged up for war-crimes.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 12:09 PM
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31. I had always wanted to be a lawyer, but I knew my senior year I couldn't sit in a classroom another second. After the Marines I thought about it, but went to work in the family business, as previously discussed.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 12:09 PM
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If you actually believe that whole GOP bamboozlement about Nancy Pelosi and the airplane

Mr. Prosecutor, it is my belief that the sans cullote starlet brigade of Brittany, Lindsay and Paris is a GOP plot to keep America distracted. What is that shiny thing over there?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 12:21 PM
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The level of public indifference is what really scares me. Over the long run (and even the short run), law comes to mean what the prevailing opinion in the interpretive community of lawyers, judges, and policymakers is prepared to let it mean. Which reflects public opinion. If you really have a country that's comfortable with letting habeas corpus go, then the letter of the law will not save you. You'll always be able to produce "loopholes".

With that said, there has been *some* Supreme Court pushback agains the Bush admin power grab. The new Roberts court worries me though, Bush has had I think a higher priority on judges who support his imperial executive theories than on more traditional culture-conservative issues.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 12:46 PM
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I have been trying to convince myself that the 20s were worse-- JE Hoover's trial-less deportations, Sacco + Vanzetti, Teapot dome... 6. gets it about right, though, imo, the real problem is deep public apathy about very bad things. Even if people who have both reason and compassion get into power, it'll be because their ads were better. I fear that the bottom-up trouble will be very slow to change, and emotionally satisfying war-crimes trials for the likes of Rumsfeld will not help. Having Ashcroft in place HELPED the cause of civil liberties.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 12:52 PM
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That's why we need to at least give the public the opportunity to know what happened.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:16 PM
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18: There's an urban legend about a burglar, always in California, somehow injuring himself during a home break-in and robbery attempt, (usually he falls through the skylight,) and that he sued the homeowner and won some millions of dollars. Have you heard this one? Do you know if it actually describes any real cases? Many of the conservatives/libertarians I know have repeated it, and even some of the liberals.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:16 PM
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In happier news, one can make rainbows from a crystal chandelier, if one is so inclined.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:17 PM
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It's a hoax, pdf. The comments in that link make me sad. Stop listening to Rush Limbaugh already.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:20 PM
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44: How inclined? Should I lean against the wall? I need specifics!


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:21 PM
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Stop listening to Rush Limbaugh

Ummmm.......


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:22 PM
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All you need is 40 zombie Republicans to block almost anything. The list of less-zombie Republicans who will occasionally oppose Bush is very short: Specter, Snow, Collins, Lugar, Hagel, Smith (OR), and Coleman. (McCain used to be on the list). That still leaves 42 bitter-enders.

This is not to say that any of the seven I named is more often good than bad. It's just that they're not always bad. Hagel and Lugar are very conservative, but not insane, and the rest of them represent states where a real Republican would have trouble being elected. I suspect that most of them are more conservative than they seem and cut lots of little deals so that they can look independent with meaningless symbolic dissents while never seriously impacting the Republican program.

Awhile back, for what it was worth, I finally accepted that a solid majority of the American people disagree with me about almost every issue. This did not make me feel better about the American people, or about my ability to participate in American politics. By now my choice is between meaningless venting, depressive lesser-evilism, and giving up.

(Yeah, some Republicans oppose Bush for pork-barrel reasons, and a lot of them opposed him on immigration. They're still zombies.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:22 PM
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I just meant that the burglar story was the sort of nonsense one was likely to hear from Rush.

As for the rainbows, one needs simply to let the prism break the light, by placing it in-between the light source and the wall. This will soften the hearts of miserly ladies.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:26 PM
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How the f*** do any of you know that the American people disagree with the Democrats about the rule of law if the Democrats won't talk about it because they assume that the American people disagree with them? Is this based on specific polls? I never see them on these threads. Is it based simply on Bush getting re-elected? Well, public opinion has *actually changed* on some issues since 2004.

I am so fucking tired of liberal resignation about the worthlessness of American voters. Public opinion is not etched in stone. Doesn't the fact that polls tend to shift by 30-40 points depending on how you phrase the question tell you anything.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:26 PM
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I am so fucking tired of liberal resignation about the worthlessness of American voters. Public opinion is not etched in stone. Doesn't the fact that polls tend to shift by 30-40 points depending on how you phrase the question tell you anything.

Yeah. Ordinary citizens knew Nixon was a worthless sack of shit, and cared about it, because they were getting information from people in positions of power that let them understand what a worthless sack of shit he was. That could happen again -- the American public hasn't gotten any more useless since the Seventies.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:29 PM
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50: Perlstein's cover article in this week's Nation is really good on the relationship between Dems and "the American people," btw.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:30 PM
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right on, Katherine.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:30 PM
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By now my choice is between meaningless venting, depressive lesser-evilism, and giving up.

And we all know which of these three options that Emerson has chosen.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:42 PM
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9: That bill needs to go down hard. It won't do a damned thing to help deportations, since funnily enough, ICE is still underfunded and local police can't deport people for looking Mexican. So what you'll have is people who are here illegally or unsure of their immigration status (because that isn't always clear) or worse, live with another innocent person who could be deported, not calling the cops. And either settling on their own terms or being beaten. Enforcement of immigration 0, abusers 1.

Fuck that for a bag of chips. I called my non-dickish Senator.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:56 PM
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1.) What does IAOACL stand for?

2.) I care a lot about all of the things that our government does, but (outside of volunteering for presidential campaigns) I don't do much about them. I'm not even sure what I could or should do. And there are so many things going wrong that I don't even know where to start. I don't have the expertise to do the sort of legal work that Katherine does nor large sums of money. I don't feel stuffing envelopes, on a consistent basis, is a good use of my time.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 1:57 PM
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I Am Only A Commercial?/Criminal? Lawyer, I think.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:02 PM
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It's a mystery. But one of the letters stands for "clown."


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:05 PM
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Wouldn't it be "corporate" since he finds loophole in corporate law, by his own admission?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:06 PM
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Wait, TLL's not a lawyer? The fuck?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:06 PM
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I never admitted anything of the kind.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:11 PM
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clearly he isn't.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:12 PM
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I Admire Other Anatomical Clown Lawyers


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:16 PM
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Text- I infered it from your post. Not very lawerly of me at all. Hell, the poor quality of my arguments should have clued you in long ago.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:16 PM
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What we need is another Spanish Civil War.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:29 PM
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Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisi... Civil War!


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:31 PM
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Nobody suspects the butterfly.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:32 PM
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The American public hasn't gotten any more useless since the Seventies.

The media have, though. And the opinion leaders. And the 20%-30% in the Republican core are more fascist than ever. And the big blob of eclectic moderate low-information voters (for example, the small but measurable demographic which voted for Bush in part because he was strong on environmental issues) hasn't improved or dwindled much.

Nixon went down because finally he was too much even for the Republicans. I can't see that happening now, for the reasons I gave.

You do have to understand that the solid majority of the American people disagree with me about almost every issue includes anyone who's enthusiastic about Hillary. Hillary is a hawkish corporate Democrat , though she will be better than Bush in every respect.

I'm not saying that the Republicans can't be beat. I'm saying that Hillary probably can't be beat.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:35 PM
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Doesn't the fact that polls tend to shift by 30-40 points depending on how you phrase the question tell you anything?

Sure. It tells me that poll results are written on sand.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:37 PM
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I thought it was I Am Only A Country Lawyer, imitating the various Jimmy Stewart characters.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:37 PM
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I thought it was I Am Only A wizardCocksucker Lawyer.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:41 PM
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I Am Only A Caveman Lawyer?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:42 PM
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It was whatever you thought it was, all along. Just ask B.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:43 PM
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But the Democrats still seem to fundamentally not understand how to drive media coverage in their favor. (it's not by following friendly advice from David Broder).


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:43 PM
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I Am Only A Clerk, Law.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:44 PM
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I'm closer to Emerson on this, though I don't think the majority disagrees with me so much as the opinions of most people (inc. myself in most areas) are "written in sand." You cannot appeal to the "American people." The "American people" don't think one thing on one topic. You have to figure out what subset of Americans will robustly support the values you believe to be most important, and then make a deal. That is, "Learn to pick your friends."

As far as I can see, that's exactly what Henley and some of the other reasonable, etc. libertarians are doing. I doubt very much that they're comfortable with Dem economic policies, or domestic policies broadly. But those aren't the values Henley appears to be most worried about.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 2:49 PM
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The American public hasn't gotten any more useless since the Seventies.
I would argue that at least the liberal wing of the American public has gotten, in some respects, much better since the 70s.
Seventies activists in particular were addicted to symbolic action and political theatre rather than effective action and electoral politics. I lost count of the number of bootless petitions for one unrealistic goal or another whose supporters would claim "but it sends a signal ...". Fuck a bunch of that. Do you remember 70s street demonstrations that always seemed to devolve into breaking the windows of college-town local merchants? One could hardly devise a better method for driving those who don't already agree with you into hatred of your cause.

I see around me far fewer simple-minded bumperstickers pretending to influence the world while only stoking the owner's feeling of self-righteousness. Here in the Bay Area, bumperstickers have become a comparative rarity, and I think that's partly due to people's belated realization that sloganeering just doesn't get the job done.

Subpoenas, now -- those have the potential to get the job done. I'm lovin' me some Congressional subpoenas, and I'm confident we're going to be seeing more of them.


Posted by: joel hanes | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:09 PM
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If Tim agrees with me, the end times are here.

I really believe that the media are lost to use. Everybody knows that Murdoch, Moon, and Scaife are bad guys, but I believe that Sulzberger and Graham have both bought into both the neocon military fantasies and the free-market anti-tax agenda. The CNN / ABC / CBS / MSNBC / radio bosses are more faceless, but they're bad guys too.

My theory is that management manages, and that if the most prestigious and successful media in the country consistently come up with very bad political,economic and international journalism with almost always spins in a center-right direction, probably that's what the management wants.

Looking at who gets hired, promoted, and fired. There's a long list of quality journalists who can't work in the mainstream. TV is worse: Coulter, Savage, and Beck, are dishonest, accurate, and scurrilous, but they're mainstream. No one to the left of the right wing of the Democratic party gets that kind of attention. (Krugman is from the right wing of the Democratic Party).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:10 PM
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Oh, I'm not suggesting that the innate decency of the American people will somehow ride to the rescue. Most voters are busy, fairly apathetic, don't know what habeas corpus is, and even if they're very well informed & care a lot it's often not immediately obvious what to do about it.

I'm just saying, voters aren't so set against us, and they're reasonably easily persuaded. There's no need at all for the Democrats to be afraid of them; to conclude that they're inevitably opposed to us and that we can only win by disguising what we really stand for.

There are two thoughts driving my focus on an investigation launched immediately by a Democratic president:

(1) I just what to know what they did. I've been trying to figure it out for a long time, with moderate success, but there are still gaps in what we know. I want to know if I've met anyone who was wiretapped; if I guessed right about why Arar was sent to Syria; & what Rumsfeld & Cheney knew and when they knew it about abuse at Bagram & Camp NAMA.

(2) If you gave me or a number of better-qualified people:

(a) subpoena power,
(b) a higher security clearance,
(c) a megaphone,

I bet you we could convince a majority of voters that the Bush administration's contempt for the rule of law was a terrible mistake that we cannot afford to repeat.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:11 PM
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50. If public opinion really is this volatile, this suggests that working for advertisements to shift public opinion is worthwhile; it worked for smoking. This seems to me to be a distasteful fate for a democracy. Less apathetically, I have been trying to evaluate the democratic candidates based on their stances on a few issues that are unpopular and thus cost something to act on(scrubbers for the old power plants in the Ohio valley, drug war sentencing guidelines, and visas for the Iraqi unfortunates who were seen to work with our soldiers, and that's what they are, even stoned-looking Lynndie England). I'm having a hard time doing it. Are there advocacy organizations that try to present voting records in a way that allows inspection of the details? LCV puts up checklists for various bills, better than nothing, but I want to know when the candidates stood up for unpopular amendments, not just a summary endorsement. I'm looking for the fine-grained information summarized in 48., but for the Dems.
Is this too long-winded for local tastes?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:13 PM
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Yeah, between 2000 and 2006 Democrats were damned effective at getting rid of bumperstickers in Berkeley, and they did it without street demonstrations! I'd forgotten about that accomplishment. Touche.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:13 PM
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78: I think a lot of news isn't about political bias, but about theater now days. That is why you get Coulter and Sharpton on news shows all the time. People tune in to see what crazy thing they will say next. It is also why the news channels were bidding to get Paris Hilton for her first post jail interview.

What I always wanted to see was a news channel devote a one hour program every day where they got together a bunch of policy wonks from different sides of one issue and talked about it in depth. They could show it at 3am for all I care. I would tape something like that.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:37 PM
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That is why you get Coulter and Sharpton on news shows all the time. People tune in to see what crazy thing they will say next.

Sharpton doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with Coulter. He's had a couple of things he should probably apologize for (not his initial position on Tawana Brawley, but for not backing down), but 95% of his participation in the public discourse is reasonable and valuable. Coulter, on the other hand, is pretty much globally worthless.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:40 PM
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You get lots of sober, sensible people like George Will and David Broder. But not from the left wing of the Democratic Party, and seldom from unions or labor.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:42 PM
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83: But he's black.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:43 PM
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sober, sensible people like George Will and David Broder

Even though I know you're being ironic, you're still making my brain hurt.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:43 PM
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83: Coulter is the lowest of the low. I didn't mean to put them in the same category. They do get put on TV for somewhat the same reasons though in that they tend to be obvious targets for the other side.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:47 PM
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I'm hopeful, as opposed to optimistic, that the coming-clean will occur, as in the Seventies, and there will be fewer mistakes this time. But even the partial victories of those days, Watergate, Church Commission, etc., look good to me now, and would be worth repeating.

People forget that there was a great deal of opposition in media to at least the counterculture then. Not as biased as now, but hardly leftward-tilting at any time. What's different is how accessible alternative media is now; then you had to seek out Ramparts or I.F.Stone's Weekly, and for broadcast, listen to shortwave. We can follow links and read very subversive things easily.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:58 PM
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85: what? Why am I always the last to know these things?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 3:59 PM
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Ooooh. My kind of thread.

I don't believe in Law, or in the Rule of Law, as either as an ideal or as a reality. Admiration for THE LAW is fetishization and kitsch, very very much the religion of liberals. The Constitution as 900 foot plastic light-up Jesus.

I do believe in people and politics.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 5:07 PM
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Bob is waiting for the right Dear Leader to follow. Triumph of the Will? Or Triumph of the Bill?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 5:12 PM
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91 is the purest example of projection I have yet seen on this blog, with the obvious exception of Ogged calling w-lfs-n gay.

I am an anarcho-syndicalist or left-communist, TLL, so anti-authoritarian that I think science is a system of mind-control. I accept no substitutes for Nobodaddy.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 5:49 PM
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92: god, I fucking love it when people use "anarcho-syndicalist".

Back in the good ol' days Cult of the Dead Cow called ourselves a "neo-marxist anarcho-syndicalist terrorist organization dedicated to the sole purpose of getting on TV"

NPR host's reaction when I explained that on air? Pretty much defined nonplussed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 6:44 PM
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Dennis?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 6:59 PM
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Back on topic:

"Political rights do not originate in parliaments; they are rather forced upon them from without. And even their enactment into law has for a long time been no guarantee of their security. They do not exist because they have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them will meet with the violent resistance of the populace."

Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism

I have been polite enough not to use words like "coprophilia" and "coprophagia" to describe the relationship between bourgeois liberals and their laws. But you would think that an immediate lesson might have been learned by the Geneva & Torture not protecting prisoners or preventing torture. If there had been the broad willingness to protect and enforce these standards, the misson of deterrence would likely have been a political redundancy.

Do such laws & institutions serve any purpose whatsover? Sure, they comfort the comfortable.

The end for Mussolini was far more effective than the Nuremberg Trials. I have no hope that the present regime will end so satisfactorily.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-27-07 7:42 PM
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