Tuesday, April 29, 2008

First Thoughts on Crawford v Marion

I've only read the controlling opinion (Stevens, Roberts and Kennedy) so far, so I'll probably have more to say later, but there seem to me to be three flaws with it on a first read:

1) Pages 17 and 18 list a small number of Indiana citizens who claim that the law imposes a burden on them that will prevent them from voting. While Stevens argues that the burden on most of these voters isn't excessive, it does in fact seem to be for the homeless. He notes that

The record does contain the affidavit of one homeless woman who has a copy of her birth certificate but was denied a photo identification card because she ddi not have an address. But that single affidavit gives no indication of how common the problem is.

In sum, on the basis of the record that has been made in this litigation, we cannot conclude that the statute imposes "exessively burdensome requirements" on any class of voters.

Let's see: homeless people have no home. If they have no home, they have no address. Apparently, if they have no address, they can be denied photo ID by the DMV. If they have no photo ID, they now cannot vote. This seems a to be a class of voters who now have an excessive burden placed on them.

2) Stevens references a lower court's decision, which found a study claiming that 989,000 Indiana voters did not have the required photo identification to be "utterly incredible and unreliable," yet we are never told why this is, or presented with any evidence to the contrary. Rather, we are given the district judge's estimate that only 43,000 people don't have the required ID. What the judges estimate is based on is unclear, as is why it should be accepted by the Court while the original study should not be.

3) Precedent requires the State to put forward interests to justify the burden being imposed by its restrictions on voting. The interest put forward by the State is the need to curb vote fraud, yet the State was unable to present any evidence of vote fraud taking place which this law would actually prevent. The Court admits as much, noting that "The record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history."This seems a rather large problem with the State's argument. Rather, the State is left to argue that voter fraud has happened elsewhere, yet the evidence is still incredibly weak. As disclosed in footnotes 11 and 12, it boils down to the actions of Tammany Hall's Boss Tweed in the 1860s, and that, in Seattle, after an investigation into fraud in a gubernatorial race in 2005, "One voter was confirmed to have committed in-person voting fraud."

While footnote 12 argues that there have been other examples of vote fraud elsewhere, it admits that "the brief indicates that the record of evidence of in-person fraud was overstated because much of the fraud was actually absentee ballot fraud or voter registration fraud," both of which would not be curbed at all by this new law.

This seems an example of a solution in search of a problem. The State's compelling interest is to prevent Tammany-style fraud, despite no proof of such fraud ever occuring in Indiana. And for that, it is disenfranchises thousands of voters.


Courtesy of the Associated Press, reporting on today's Indiana Democratic Primary.
About 12 Indiana nuns were turned away from a polling place by a fellow bride of Christ because they didn't have state or federal identification bearing a photograph.
Sister Julie McGuire said she was forced to turn away her follow sisters at Saint Mary's Convent in South Bend, across the street from the University of Notre Dame, because they had been told earlier that they would need such an ID to vote.
The nuns, all in their 80s or 90s, didn't get one but came to the precinct anyway.
"One came down this morning, and she was 98, and she said 'I don't want to go do that,'" Sister McGuire said. Some showed up with outdated passports. None of them drives.
They weren't given provisional ballots because it would be impossible to get them to a motor vehicle branch and back in the 10-day time frame allotted by the law, Sister McGuire said. "You have to remember that some of these ladies don't walk well. They're in wheelchairs or on walkers or electric carts."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Today's SCOTUS ruling is crazy interesting - I find it difficult to believe that no substantive evidence, or certainly not much, has been found that indicates the identification law does not impose a burden on the poor/disabled/old. Of course, there's an inherent methodological problem in trying to prove that - you have to prove the counterfactual that there had not been the ID law, then would have voted. I want to take a look at the briefs and Amicus submitted in this case.

Also, interestingly, though most of the major newspapers suggest that the court's ruling is a sign. win for those who are proponents of ID requirements and that therefore other states are going to have a very difficult time overturning the ruling, I don't think this is the case. The court ruling applies specifically to Indiana in that the the party arguing for overturning the law did not show that in Indiana there had been a significant burden. However, if one could show that there had been a burden in other states, it's very feasible that the court could rule differently there and then the entire thing could just proceed on a state by state basis. That would also present problems, of course.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

John Ashcroft Schooled By College Students

This is amazing. Some highlights from a recent Q&A with John Ashcroft at Knox College:
TOM: This story was made public by ABC a few weeks ago. It claims that you, Rice, Tenet and others met in the White House to discuss different methods of "enhanced interrogation," is that correct?

ASHCROFT: (angrily) Correct? Is what correct? Is it correct that this story ran on ABC? I don't know that. I don't know anything about it! Is it a real story? When was this story, huh? Huh?

TOM: Um, early April, April 9th, I think...

ASHCROFT: (interrupting) You think? You think? You don't even know! Next question!

TOM: The article says that you discussed "whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning"...
ASHCROFT: I said, next question!
ASHCROFT: No. No it doesn't violate the Geneva Conventions. As for other laws, well, the U.S. is a party to the United Nations Convention against Torture. And that convention, well, when we join a treaty like that we send it to the Senate to be ratified, and when the Senate ratifies they often add qualifiers, reservations, to the treaty which affect what exactly we follow. Now, I don't have a copy of the convention in front of me...

ME: (holding up my copy) I do! (boisterous applause and whistling from the audience) Would you like to borrow it?

ASHCROFT: (after a pause) Uh, you keep a hold of it. Now, as I was saying, I don't have it with me but I'm pretty sure it defines torture as something that leaves lasting scars or physical damage...

A STUDENT FROM THE AUDIENCE: Liar! You liar! (the student is shushed by the audience)

ASHCROFT: So no, waterboarding does not violate international law.
ME: First off, Mr. Ashcroft, I'd like to apologize for the rudeness of some of my fellow students. It was uncalled for--we can disagree civilly, we don't need that. (round of applause from the audience, and Ashcroft smiles) I have here in my hand two documents. One of them, you know, is the text of the United Nations Convention against Torture, which, point of interest, says nothing about "lasting physical damage"...

ASHCROFT: (interrupting) Do you have the Senate reservations to it?

ME: No, I don't. Do you happen to know what they are?

ASHCROFT: (angrily) I don't have them memorized, no. I don't have time to go around memorizing random legal facts. I just don't want these people in the audience to go away saying, "He was wrong, she had the proof right in her hand!" Because that's not true. It's a lie. If you don't have the reservations, you don't have anything. Now, if you want to bring them another time, we can talk, but...

ME: Actually, Mr. Ashcroft, my question was about this other document. (laughter and applause) This other document is a section from the judgment of the Tokyo War Tribunal. After WWII, the Tokyo Tribunal was basically the Nuremberg Trials for Japan. Many Japanese leaders were put on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture. And among the tortures listed was the "water treatment," which we nowadays call waterboarding...

ASHCROFT: (interrupting) This is a speech, not a question. I don't mind, but it's not a question.

ME: It will be, sir, just give me a moment. The judgment describes this water treatment, and I quote, "the victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach." One man, Yukio Asano, was sentenced to fifteen years hard labor by the allies for waterboarding American troops to obtain information. Since Yukio Asano was trying to get information to help defend his country--exactly what you, Mr. Ashcroft, say is acceptible for Americans to do--do you believe that his sentence was unjust? (boisterous applause and shouts of "Good question!")

ASHCROFT: (angrily) Now, listen here. You're comparing apples and oranges, apples and oranges. We don't do anything like what you described.

ME: I'm sorry, I was under the impression that we still use the method of putting a cloth over someone's face and pouring water down their throat...

ASHCROFT: (interrupting, red-faced, shouting) Pouring! Pouring! Did you hear what she said? "Putting a cloth over someone's face and pouring water on them." That's not what you said before! Read that again, what you said before!

ME: Sir, other reports of the time say...

ASHCROFT: (shouting) Read what you said before! (cries of "Answer her fucking question!" from the audience) Read it!

ME: (firmly) Mr. Ashcroft, please answer the question.

ASHCROFT: (shouting) Read it back!

ME: "The victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach."

ASHCROFT: (shouting) You hear that? You hear it? "Forced!" If you can't tell the difference between forcing and pouring...does this college have an anatomy class? If you can't tell the difference between forcing and pouring...

ME: (firmly and loudly) Mr. Ashcroft, do you believe that Yukio Asano's sentence was unjust? Answer the question. (pause)

ASHCROFT: (more restrained) It's not a fair question; there's no comparison. Next question! (loud chorus of boos from the audience)

I don't get it...

There's been some, but not much, coverage of massive food shortages and food-riots recently, such as in Haiti and elsewhere, but could the same thing happen here?

The US is obviously nowhere near that stage yet, but we are beginning to see some ominous signs. According to Reuters yesterday, we're beginning to run low on basic ingredients, such as flour and wheat.
Already feeling the pinch from soaring wheat and flour prices, U.S. bakers are now beginning to experience some supply shortages.

Rye flour stocks have been depleted in the United States, and by June or July there will be no more U.S. rye flour to purchase, said Lee Sanders, senior vice president for government relations and public affairs at the American Bakers Association.


For bakers, rye grain is not the only supply stock that is declining. In the past the market has typically had a three-month surplus of wheat stocks to serve as a cushion against supply interruptions, but now the surplus is down to less than 27 days worth of wheat, Sanders said.
Meanwhile, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, apparently the US is now beginning to have runs on food suppliers:
[I]n the US, now major discounters are seeing runs on products, particularly rice, as both Sam's club, the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. operated discounter, and Costco Wholesale Corp. have seen shelves cleaned out of rice as consumers worry about higher prices.
Sam's Club has decided to put limits (or rations, if you will) on the amount of 20-pound bags customers can purchase every week, and Costco earlier this week said it was considering such limits as well.
As the cost of basics like rice, wheat, corn and soybeans are reaching record highs, will the "developed" countries begin to really be hurt by this? When was the last time that major food wholesalers had enacted rationing policies? And how is more attention not being paid to this?

This isn't just happening "over there" anymore...

Friday, April 11, 2008


http://stuffhillpeoplelike.blogspot.com/ - EBL and Garbo, I think you guys will appreciate this...

Also, if you haven't already, check out the original: http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Time to Bring Our Troops Home! (From the South???)

This is too good to pass up:

Earlier this week, I mentioned that the conservative blog RedState is trying to pressure the traditional media to treat critiques of John McCain's embrace of a 100-year occupation of Iraq as lies and distortion.

Today, RedState sent an email alert to readers to further push the point ... making a, shall we say, novel argument (emphasis added):

Clearly McCain was talking about a peace time standing presence ... Someone should ask the Democrats if they think we're still at war with the confederacy, the Germans, and the Japanese given all the standing American armies in the South, Germany, and Japan.

As I said in my previous post, "Claiming a 100-year occupation in Iraq would be like Germany or Korea reveals an immense lack of foreign policy knowledge, judgment and vision. The situations and political dynamics have absolutely no similarity." (For more on that point, check out Agence France Presse, Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, Talking Points Memo, Booman Tribune, The Newshoggers and Juan Cole.)

But hey, at least Germany and Japan are like Iraq in that they are other countries.

I can't believe I am wasting 15 seconds of my life to type this, but having military bases in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina does not constitute a permanent occupation. Does RedState really believe that 140 years after the Civil War, American troops have a "peace time standing presence" in the American south?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Let's Stay Safe Guys

Don't overdo the blogging. I'm looking at you Lang.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The World's Most Expensive Pep Rally

The fictional brokered convention scenario got me thinking about something that's been bothering me for a while: what, exactly, is the point of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions?

Nominally, the conventions have three goals:

  1. To nominate a party's candidate for president;
  2. To nominate a party's candidate for vice-president; and
  3. To adopt the party's platform

In reality, the party's platform is worked out months in advance by members of the respective parties' Platform Committees, and are ratified by the conventions as more or less a formality. For the most part, all people care about when paying attention to the conventions (to the extent that anyone actually does pay attention...) is the nomination of the parties' tickets, which brings me to my second question: What is the problem with having the primary campaign actually last up until the convention?

Clearly, this year, this question applies to Democrats rather than Republicans, but it hasn't actually been an issue in decades for either party. The last GOP nomination to be decided at the Convention was in 1976 (Gerald Ford over Ronald Reagan), while for the Democrats, it was in 1980 (Jimmy Carter over Ted Kennedy). Even these nominations, however bitterly contested, were still settled on the first ballot of the convention. To find a truly contested convention in which there wasn't a clear front-runner, we have to go back roughly twice as far, to 1952 for Democrats (Gov. Adlai Stevenson defeated Senators Estes Kefauver and Richard Russell, and former Commerce Secretary and Ambassador Averell Harriman on the third ballot), and 1948 for Republicans (Gov. Thomas Dewey defeated Governors Harold Stassen and Earl Warren, Senators Robert Taft and Arthur Vandenberg, Rep. Joseph Martin, and General Douglas MacArthur on the third ballot).

The possibility of the Democratic nominee remaining unclear until late August, however, has left many Democrats apoplectic, and Republicans giddy, over the potential for four more months of internecine Democratic fighting.

This crisis has been deemed so important that both Howard Dean and Harry Reid have called for the process to somehow resolve itself by July 1st, to keep it from harming the Democrats chances in November. Yet short of either candidate voluntarily dropping out by then, its unclear how, if at all, party leaders could actually enforce this deadline. Rather, there are no signs of, or suggestions for, Obama leaving the race, and Hillary has explicitly said that she is willing to stay in until Denver, declaring

"I know that there are some people who want to shut this down and I think they are wrong. I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan. And if we don't resolve it, we'll resolve it at the convention."
The only concrete idea for forcing an earlier end to the primary is Tennessee Gov. Philip Bredesen's call for a “superdelegates’ primary” in June or July, pushed most prominently in this NY Times Op-Ed. Bredesen writes:

“In early june, after the final primaries, the Democratic National Committee should call together our superdelegates in a public caucus.

“There will have been more than 20 debates, and more than 28 million Americans will have made their choices and voted. Any remaining uncertainty in our nominee will then lie with the superdelegates, and it will be time for us to make our choices and get on with the business of electing a president.

“This is not a proposal for a mini-convention with all the attendant hoopla and sideshows. It is a call for a tight, two-day business-like gathering, whose rules would be devised by the national committee, of the leaders of our party from all over America to resolve a serious problem. There would be a final opportunity for the candidates to make their arguments to those delegates, and then one transparent vote… This is a business meeting of a few hundred people almost three months from now, not an extended cast-of-thousands convention.”

My problem with all of this is simple – aren’t these calls for an earlier decision by superdelegates really just an argument for moving the convention up? What is the point of having a convention at the end of August, if the party’s leaders seem united in consensus that we need a nominee by July?

Gov. Bredesen’s description of his plan really highlights the absurdity of this. While he declares that this isn’t a proposal for a mini-convention, there seems to be little difference. Breaking it down, he suggests:

  1. “A tight two-day business-like gathering,” – as opposed to the four-day Democratic National Convention;
  2. “whose rules would be devised by the national committee” – as the Democratic National Convention’s are;
  3. “of the leaders of our party from all over America” – such as the delegates who will be attending the Democratic National Convention;
  4. “to resolve a serious problem” – choosing the party’s presidential and vice-presidential tickets, which is the purpose of the Democratic National Convention;
  5. “There would be a final opportunity for the candidates to make their arguments to those delegates” – because clearly during the four-day Democratic National Convention, there’s no time for the candidates to speak;
  6. “and then one transparent vote” – which is exactly what happens on the final day of the Democratic National Convention.

So if we are now saying that this absolutely must be done in June or July, what is the point of the convention itself? The party’s platform will be written in advance, and it is apparently no longer necessary to hold a convention to choose the nominee. We’ve just removed all rational for holding a convention in the first place. If we insist that the nominee be chosen months earlier, the convention is just an elaborate coronation ceremony, costing the government and party tens of millions of dollars. All we are left with is what Bredesen refers to as “all the attendant hoopla and sideshows” that accompany the “extended cast-of-thousands convention.”

I'm fully in favor of holding the convention earlier in the summer if the party thinks that an extended general election is beneficial, but divorcing the end of the nominating process from the convention is a mistake. At that point, the convention is just an opportunity for special interest groups, party leaders and politicians to waste millions of dollars wining and dining themselves. Somehow that just doesn't seem necessary.Thus has the Democratic Party rendered its national conventions the world’s most expensive and pointless pep rally.

A West Wing Writer's Take on a Brokered Convention

My favorite excerpt from it:
Brian Williams sets the table with his solemn intro to NBC's coverage: The pledged delegate score is Obama 1,688, Clinton 1,539; Obama holds a slim popular-vote lead of 1.5% with 30 million votes cast; 263 superdelegates remain uncommitted. Anything can happen.

Howard Dean opens the convention and gets booed off stage. The delegates hold him responsible for the mess they're in. Dean grabs Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi as he rushes out of the convention hall. Dean tells them they've gotta figure out a way to stop the bleeding tonight. Dean, Reid and Pelosi get heckled by passing delegates as Obama Girl happily signs autographs in the background.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Big Pharma with Big Protection

Mind boggling. That is the only way to describe it. The courts are debating giving them a shield against lawsuits. The premise is that no agency nor court has enough expertise to disagree with the FDA, and therefore no lawsuits should be able to be brought against the pharmaceutical companies because the FDA already made their ruling on whether the drug was safe. So far, that sounds extremely reasonable. It keeps the courts from being clogged with ludicrous cases and saves these companies money which could, in theory, lead to lower drug prices.

But wait! There seems to be no protection against a company misleading the FDA. The company still cannot be sued. The Vioxx debacle and the Ortho Evra issues are going to be reoccurring situations from now on if this shield law takes effect. In essence, we have incentivized lying to the FDA. Without the "stick" of lawsuits to keep these companies honest, what is there? Drugs will be released to market, turn a profit for the company, and then some outside researchers will show that the drugs raise the risk of some ailment. The pharmaceutical company knew this as well but they suppressed the data. Too bad, there is no recourse for the injured consumer. I pray for the sake of America's health that the courts rule against these shields.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Next Stage of the Campaign?

In discussing Clinton's new ad (which can be seen at this link), Todd Beaton writes:
Turning her focus on John McCain is really smart for a couple of reasons. Obviously it's best for all involved for her to turn her fire away from Barack Obama, perhaps most importantly for her so she doesn't scare off wavering superdelegates who fear she'll ruin Obama and the party's chances in November if he's the nominee. But also, it actually behooves both Clinton and Obama to focus on criticizing McCain because if this nomination is going to hinge on electability, as it seems it just might since ultimately the nomination will be left up to the subjective judgment of the superdelegates, letting the supers see just how they intend to go head to head against McCain, seeing sort of a preview of coming attractions -- whether through ads or just rhetorically on the stump -- is actually a really important part of this stage of the campaign, which, as sad as it is, is largely about wooing the superdelegates.
This reminded me of a theory I'd had, so I went digging through old emails and found the one from February 6th, the day after Super Tuesday. The text is below, and clearly it hasn't played out this way so far, but I wonder if it isn't still possible, at least to some degree. The aforementioned post made me think it is, but we'll see how this all plays out in the coming weeks and months. Anyway, here's what I originally wrote:

From what I've read, it seems as if to win the nomination flat-out through the rest of the primaries and caucuses, either candidate would need to win something like 80% of the remaining delegates, which doesn't seem likely. I haven't put much thought into this, but it occurs to me that having a Republican nominee and an extended Democratic primary, to be decided by superdelegates or some sort of back room deal between Clinton and Obama, could actually be a blessing in disguise. Since nothing like this has ever occurred in modern American politics, there has been discussion of this possibility as a nightmare scenario for Democrats, but I think it could also offer an unexplored and unmentioned upside.
This (increasingly likely and entirely unprecedented) scenario could offer two advantages. First, for better or worse, the nomination would be in the hands of party insiders, be they powerbrokers who try to arrange some sort of deal, or superdelegates who are all either elected or party officials. While this might seem undemocratic, it also offers an opportunity to have a more substantive campaign. Unlike the voting public, these insiders are all in some sense professional political operatives. Many of these individuals know and personally work with both Senators Clinton and Obama. They have first-hand experience with these people and would be less likely to be swayed by media coverage. Rather, they would have a much greater interest and ability to demand a specific policy agenda from the candidates. Picture a group of populists in the Senate led by Sherrod Brown offering their vote in exchange for a more populist economic platform, or Senator Feingold negotiating for a group whos primary interest in civil liberties, in exchange for their support. They are much more familiar with the issues being discussed in the campaign than the average voter, and less likely to be swayed by demagoguery and pandering. This could lead to a much more substantive discussion, which would in turn be less divisive since, as is often noted, Obama and Clinton aren't all that far apart on policy.
Second, imagine the following: a single Republican nominee running a general election against two popular Democrats (three if you count Bill...) simaltenously. Clinton and Obama have shown that they're capable of having substantive policy discussions without attacking each other. Imagine if they were able to keep that up, while simultaneously going after the Republican nominee?

The Republican nominee's attention and attacks would have to be divided to parry and attack multiple targets, while the Democrats would essentially get to tag-team the Republican. Since McCain, Clinton and Obama are all guaranteed to get lots of press coverage, it would be virtually impossible for the Republicans to go after either Democratic candidate while ignoring the other. On the other hand, knowing who the eventual Democratic nominee will be up against could allow both Clinton and Obama to focus on their eventual adversary. If (and its obviously a big "if") the campaign were to play out this way, it would also offer Democrats a unique insight into who the better nominee would be between Clinton and Obama. Every political junkie has their own theory about who would fare better in a general election, but this would actually allow an opportunity to SEE how they would run against a Republican in the general election, not just speculate about it.

This is obviously entirely hypothetical, but I think its possible.

Predictably Irrational

One of the central tenets of economics is that people are rational actors. A slight problem with this assumption, however, is that it is blatantly untrue (as detailed entertainingly by MIT Professor Dan Ariely's new book, Predictably Irrational). A result of this assumption is that, when we see large numbers of people acting in the same way, we believe that there has to be some explanation, leading to rationalizations of phenomena that may be entirely random.

As a prominent example, Freakanomics co-author Stephen Dubner points out the comically useless explanations offered daily by newspapers for the stock markets swings. He notes an article from Yahoo News yesterday declared:
“Stocks Surge to Start Q2″
Wall Street began the second quarter with a big rally Tuesday as investors rushed back into stocks amid optimism that the worst of the credit crisis has passed and that the economy is faring better than expected.

The problem being that the headlines appearing alongside this newsbrief seem to contradict the thoughts assigned to investors:
  • "Celent: 200,000 US Banking Jobs at Risk"
  • "Manufacturing, Construction Weaken"
  • "Ford, Toyota U.S. Sales Down in March"
  • "Congress Has Big Questions for Big Oil"
  • "U.B.S. Will Write Down $19 Billion"
All of this leaves me wondering why, exactly, the author thought that this signaled investors' belief that the worst was over and the financial crisis had passed.

Instead, Dubner suggests two headlines for the stock markets movements that are probably much more accurate:
"Stocks Surge, Reasons Unknown; May Be Nothing More Than the Random Fluctuation of a Complex System"
"Stocks Dive: Three First-Movers Sold Hard and Then Everyone Else Inexplicably Followed."

"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted"

John Yoo's memos authorizing torture on behalf of the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel were released yesterday. As described by Marty Lederman, "It is, in effect, the blueprint that led to Abu Ghraib and the other abuses within the armed forces." If only this were an April Fool's joke...

The full memo can be found in two parts:

Part 1
Part 2

I'll keep adding on notable responses to it as I see them, feel free to send me any you guys see. Wild guess, but somehow I think this will inspire alot of discussion...

The March 2003 Yoo Memo Emerges!: The Torture Memo to Top All Torture Memos by Marty Lederman

Full Employment Memo for Bloggers (and Prosecutors?) by Marty Lederman

Yoo's Utter Glib Certainty by Emily Bazelon

John Yoo's Living Constitutionalism by Orin Kerr

Another Stinkin' Memo by Phillip Carter

John Yoo's War Crimes by Glenn Greenwald

The Legality of Evil: The Torture Memos and the Living Constitution by Jack Balkin (which contains my favorite response so far: "Yoo's torture memo sounds very lawyerly in its arguments. This observation points to an important fact about legal discourse: Lawyers can make really bad legal arguments that argue for very unjust things in perfectly legal sounding language.")

The Payoffs of Defending the Yoo Memorandum by Stuart Benjamin

The Green Light by Scott Horton

The "John Yoo, Let's Pretend We're Lawyers" Game
  1. Open both parts of that opinion in your PDF reader (Part One, Part Two)
  2. Using the search function on your PDF reader, search for the word "Youngstown"
  3. Guess how many citations to Youngstown you find--go on, guess!
Take an 81-page opinion dealing with the degree to which the President's power is bound (or not) by existing laws during war time


And in case you were worried that Yoo simply doesn't know about Youngstown, see this link, that demonstrates that Professor Yoo believes it is the first text to consider in any discussion of separation of powers.

What To Do About You by Christopher Hayes

Memo linked to warrantless surveilance surfaces
by Pamela Hess and Lara Jakes Jordan

This article needs to be quoted in part, because it is fucking terrifying:

For at least 16 months after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001, the Bush administration believed that the Constitution's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures on U.S. soil didn't apply to its efforts to protect against terrorism.

That view was expressed in a secret Justice Department legal memo dated Oct. 23, 2001. The administration on Wednesday stressed that it now disavows that view.

The October 2001 memo was written at the request of the White House by John Yoo, then the deputy assistant attorney general, and addressed to Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel at the time. The administration asked the department for an opinion on the legality of potential responses to terrorist activity.

The 37-page memo is classified and has not been released. Its existence was disclosed Tuesday in a footnote of a seperate secret memo, dated March 14, 2003, released by the Pentagon in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Yoo/Chertoff/Ashcroft Memo? How Did the OLC Opinion Come to Be Issued from DOJ, Anyway? by Marty Lederman

Outrage at the Latest OLC Torture Memo by Dawn Johnson

There's a War Crimes Tribunal in Your Future by Jack Balkin

Yoo Talkin' to Me? Plausible Deniability, and Other Reasons Why Warfare by Midlevel Legal Memoranda is a Really Bad Idea by Dahlia Lithwick

Stuck on Yoo by Deborah Pearlstein

Actually, the Answer is Rather Easy by Marty Lederman

Simply Mistaken? by Benjamin Wittes

Jonathan Hafetz

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"I'm Glad I Got Out When I Did"

Great interview with former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil. Some highlights:
It’s so hard to understand how the subprime mortgage crisis has triggered a financial crisis of global proportions. If you have 10 bottles of water, and one bottle had poison in it, and you didn’t know which one, you probably wouldn’t drink out of any of the 10 bottles; that’s basically what we’ve got there.
McCain recently confessed in public that his grasp of economics is limited. Yeah. That’s a great place to start from, isn’t it?

Have you seen Dick Cheney since he fired you? I have been to a few events where the vice president was there, but we both did our best to ignore each other. You know, I was a pallbearer, and he was a pallbearer, too.

You mean at President Ford’s funeral? Yes.

And you didn’t say hello? Nope. It was a good time to be alone together.

Are you ever confused with former Yankee outfielder Paul O’Neill? I once gave a speech in New York when I said that whenever I called up a four-star restaurant for a table, they’d fall all over themselves. Then they’d say, “Will Mr. Jeter be coming with you?”


Do you feel bitter about your service for the Bush administration? No. I’m thankful I got fired when I did, so that I didn’t have to be associated with what they subsequently did.