After reports that Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) is on the verge of being indicted for using campaign funds to cover-up an extramarital affair, his attorney Wednesday issued a defiant statement impugning the legal underpinnings of the government's case.
The statement suggests that Edwards, a onetime presidential contender, is either taking a firm stand in plea negotiations or outright fighting the charges and will opt for a trial instead of agreeing to plead guilty for a lesser charge.
Here's the statement from attorney Greg Craig (President Obama's first White House counsel):
John Edwards has done wrong in his life -- and he knows it better than anyone -- but he did not break the law.
The government's theory is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law. It is novel and untested. There is no civil or criminal precedent for such a prosecution. The government originally investigated allegations that Senator Edwards' campaign funds were misused but continued its pursuit even after finding that not one penny from the Edwards campaign was involved. The Justice Department has wasted millions of dollars and thousands of hours on a matter more appropriately a topic for the Federal Election Commission to consider, not a criminal court."
The Federal Election Commission only has the power to fine campaigns and is notoriously weak when it comes to determining whether lawmakers broke the law. For example, the FEC found that Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) did nothing wrong by having his parents pay $96,000 to his mistress and her husband, but a Senate Ethics Committee investigation found that Ensign had lied to the agency that the money was a "gift" and not "severence."
When the bipartisan ethics panel's final report found Ensign's behavior so egregious that the special prosecutor on the case was planning to recommend expulsion from the Senate, if he had not resigned. The committee then forwarded the new evidence to the Justice Department and FEC for further review.
Only 5 of the 47 GOP senators voted against the House GOP's Medicare-abolishing budget plan moments ago.[...]
Read The Full Article:
Ever since I can remember IQ tests and what they are supposed to measure has
been one of the biggest controversies in psychology. The one thing most people agreed upon was that, whatever was being measured, these tests did not measure "intelligence."
The latest explanation is that they measure a person's "motivation" AND the likely hood of future success ("Motivation Plays a Critical Role in Determining IQ Test Scores" ScienceDaily 4-27-2011). And by "motivation" is meant that of the person being tested for taking the test itself.
Research carried out at the University of Pennsylvania by Angela Lee Duckworth
looked for a correlation between IQ test taking scores and the motivation shown by the test takers-- did they bother to finish, did they rush through the test just be done with it, were they just going through the motions having no real interest or belief the test meant anything versus following orders, taking it seriously and thinking a high score would benefit them.
"When people use IQ tests in social science research, where thousands of kids are taking IQ tests where it doesn't matter to them what they get, what's the effect of motivation on those scores?" Duckworth asked.
What the research showed was that long term outcomes could be predicted by these tests (higher economic and social status). "But," Duckworth said, "what our study questions is whether that's entirely because smarter people do better in life than other people or whether part of the predictive power [is] coming from test motivation." In other words the IQ tests may be measuring motivation to succeed rather than raw intelligence.
Then she asks, "Could it be that part of the reason doing well on this test predicts future success is because the kinds of traits that would result in you doing well -- compliance with authority, self-control, attentiveness, competitiveness -- are traits that also help you in life?"
Now "compliance with authority" and "self-control" (i.e., rebelliousness) may well be traits that exploited groups within society lack and thus are not traits valued by mainstream society. It would seem the tests also measure DOCILITY as well as motivation.
Duckworth's conclusion regarding her study is it "means that for people who get high IQ scores, they probably try hard and are intelligent. But for people who get low scores, it can be an absence of either or both of those traits."
So, if you get a low score you are either not intelligent or not motivated, or both. It follows, however, that intelligent, even very highly intelligent, people could score low on the IQ test because they are not motivated to go along with the social regime in which they find themselves. Therefore IQ tests are UNRELIABLE measures of a person's "intelligence."
On the other hand people who are docile around authority and take orders easily are likely to score high on the test compared to people who question authority and the status quo-- everything else being equal-- so the that test's main use would seem to be as a tool used by the powers to be to identify and hold back people who might potentially challenge their monopoly and control of power.
The results of Duckworth's study suggests that progressives should object to the use of IQ tests on students and young people by the authorities in an attempt to classify their future behaviors.
Read The Full Article:
Do we even have to pretend this is a coincidence? There's a reason why so many politicians vote the interests of the wealthy and retire as millionaires -- because they're playing the system. Maybe it's time for a new system, one in which their investments are put in a blind trust until the day they leave:
Members of the House of Representatives considerably outperform the stock market in their personal investments, according to a new academic study.
Four university researchers examined 16,000 common stock transactions made by approximately 300 House representatives from 1985 to 2001, and found what they call "significant positive abnormal returns," with portfolios based on congressional trades beating the market by about 6 percent annually.
What's their secret? The report speculates, but does not conclude, it could have something to do with the ability members of Congress have to trade on non-public information or to vote their own pocketbooks -- or both.
A study of senators by the same team of researchers five years ago found members of the higher chamber even better at beating the market -- outperforming it by about 10 percent, an amount the academics said was "both economically large and statistically significant."
"Being one of 435, as opposed to one of 100, is likely to result in a significant dilution of power relative to members of the Senate," the researchers wrote.The researchers, Alan J. Ziobrowski of Georgia State University, James W. Boyd of Lindenwood University, Ping Cheng of Florida Atlantic University and Brigitte J. Ziobrowski of Augusta State University, noted that the circumstances are ripe for abuse.
[...] The House ethics manual clearly states that "all Members, officers, and employees are prohibited from improperly using their official positions for personal gain" and members must disclose their holdings annually.
But the House's official position is that demanding that members either divest themselves of potential conflicts or recuse themselves when there is a conflict is "impractical or unreasonable" because it "could result in the disenfranchisement of a Member?s entire constituency on particular issues."
Ever since 2006, a small coterie of Democrats has been trying to officially prohibit members of Congress and their staffs from using non-public information to enrich their personal portfolios.The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act was most recently re-introduced in March by Reps. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.) and Tim Walz (Minn.).
It has not been heard from since.
When I was a reporter, working on a story that a congressman was accepting financial benefits from an insurance company for which he earmarked legislation, I was flabbergasted to discover that it was perfectly okay with the House Ethics Committee. I learned that it is almost impossible to find a member guilty of anything, so when they boot someone on ethics grounds, rest assured it had to be pretty bad.
One of the most controversial national security policies of the Obama administration revolves around the case of radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen living in Yemen. Awlaki is suspected of being engaged in helping inspire and organize terrorist attacks against the United States. More than a year ago, the Obama administration gave the green light to a potential targeted killing of Awlaki, effectively targeting a U.S. citizen for assassination.
As the New York Times reported at the time, “It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said. A former senior legal official in the administration of George W. Bush said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president.”
Now, in an interview with The Atlantic, GOP Presidential contender Herman Cain was asked about this policy and whether he would also approve of assassinating Americans. Cain at first seemed unaware of the policy, but later affirmed that he believed every American has a right to due process and that we should not be assassinating U.S. citizens:
INTERVIEWER: President Obama has said that he has the authority to assassinate American citizens if he’s declared them an enemy combatant in the War on Terror. Al Awlaki is one guy who is on the official government list where he can be taken out. Do you have any thoughts on that? Is it a good policy because it allows us to take out Americans who may have joined Al Qaeda? Or is it a bad policy -
CAIN: Well first of all, this is the first that I have heard – you’re saying it’s okay to take out American citizens if he suspects they are terrorist related. Is that what you said?!
INTERVIEWER: Yes, that’s what I said.
CAIN: I’ve got to be honest with you. I have not heard that. I had not heard that’s something that he said. I don’t believe that the president of the United States should order the assassination of citizens of the United States. That’s why we have our court system, and that’s why we have our laws. Even if the person is suspected of being affiliated with terrorism, if they are a citizen of this country, they still deserve the rights of this country, which includes due process. Osama bin Laden was not a citizen of the United States of America. So I would not have changed the decision the president made in that regard. But if you’re a citizen, no, it is not right for the president to to think he has the power to have you assassinated. No. He has the power to make sure you’re locked up, but you have to go through due process.
Cain’s position puts him to the left of the Obama administration and many of his Republican colleagues. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), for example, vigorously spoke out against an American Civil Liberties Union legal challenge to the Obama administration’s kill order, saying that the lawsuit would have limited “the Commander in Chief?s options” and “do great damage to our national security.” (HT: @ggreenwald)
Moments ago, the Senate killed the House Republican budget, authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), that would effectively end Medicare. The bill passed the House in April with only 4 Republicans out of 242 voting against it, but in the intervening weeks, the plan proved to be extremely unpopular, as demonstrated by numerous confrontations at constituent town halls, devastating polling, and most recently, by the an upset in a special election that hinged largely on the Medicare plan. When the bill finally came up for a vote tonight in the Senate, five Republicans out of the 42 voted against the plan, making the final vote 40-57. Watch it:
As the plan proves more and more toxic, Republican House members may regret their votes. But perhaps they should have considered that before hastily voting on a radical plan to privatize and effectively dismantle one of the cornerstones of the American social safety net.
Bill Clinton was the ultimate DLC guy in office, and a lot of his economic team is sitting in the Obama White House. They don't want an excuse to do nothing either, I'd suspect.Except doing nothing is the best hope of actually keeping safety net benefits[...]
Read The Full Article:
Glenn Beck, referencing a recent Supreme Court decision determining that California prison conditions constitute "cruel and unusual punishment," absurdly accused former White House advisor Van Jones of orchestrating a plot to release prisoners "out onto the streets." But California state officials have proposed shifting low-level offenders to county jails and other facilities as a response to the court ruling, rather than releasing large numbers of prisoners.
Beck: Releasing Prisoners "Out OntoThe Streets" Is "Exactly What...Van Jones Ha[s] Been Waiting For." In a segment dedicated tothe CA prison decision, Beck said:
California has a budgetproblem. Their solution? They have to cut the inmates by 33,000. They have toput that many inmates back on to the streets before the prison sentence arefully served. The headline was cut 33,000. But don't worry, it's not likethey're just flinging open the doors of jail or anything. Officials have twowhole years to release those criminals out onto the streets. That's only 1,300people a month that just get out of jail for free.
As if the slow ,steady relief of convicted pedophiles or thieves or abusers, orviolent criminals,or whatever they're releasing out on the street, anyvariation of dirt bags, releasing them slowly into the streets is somehowbetter or different than just releasing all of them. The decision calls on thestate to release up to 110,000 inmates in California.
Now, you would think this isn't a popular idea and you'd be right for peoplelike you. But this is exactly what people like Van Jones had been waiting for. Remember,Van Jones, we told way back, he'd been meeting with prisons. He's talking toprisons, he's given speeches, he's gave a speech to San Quentin, and he'stelling them that they are the entrepreneur of the future.
They -- and the president knows this -- are the ones that are going to changethe course of America and they're counting on them. And oh, I bet they are.Aren't you, Van?
I contend that people like Bill Ayers and Frances Fox Piven are counting onthem, too. Let me ask you this, what's the first thing that Saddam Hussein did,or Moammar Gadhafi, to create chaos? If they're in trouble or they want tocreate trouble, they open the prisons. Now, we're doing it because the SupremeCourt says we have to. [Fox News, GlennBeck, 5/24/2011]
NYT:"Justices, 5-4, Tell California To Cut Prisoner Population." From a May 23 New York Times article:
Conditions in California'sovercrowded prisons are so bad that they violate the Eighth Amendment's ban oncruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday,ordering the state to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates.
Monday's ruling in the case,Brown v. Plata, No. 09-1233, affirmed an order by a special three-judge federalcourt requiring state officials to reduce the prison population to 110,000,which is 137.5 percent of the system's capacity. There have been more than160,000 inmates in the system in recent years, and there are now more than140,000. [The New York Times, 5/23/11]
LA Times: "[Justice Kennedy] Cited A Former Texas Prison Director WhoToured California Lockups And Described The Conditions As 'Appalling' [And]'Inhumane.' " From a May24 Los Angeles Times article:
In presenting the decision,Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a Sacramento native, spoke from the benchabout suicidal prisoners being held in "telephone booth-sized cageswithout toilets" and others, sick with cancer or in severe pain, who diedbefore being seen by a doctor. As many as 200 prisoners may live in agymnasium, and as many as 54 may share a single toilet, he said.
Kennedy, whose opinion wasjoined by his four liberal colleagues, said the state's prisons were built tohold 80,000 inmates, but were crowded with as many 156,000 a few years ago.
He cited a former Texas prisondirector who toured California lockups and described the conditions as"appalling," "inhumane" and unlike any he had seen "inmore than 35 years of prison work." [Los Angeles Times, 5/24/11]
NYT: JusticeKennedy "Described A Prison System That Failed To Deliver Minimal Care ToPrisoners ... And Produced 'Needless Suffering And Death.' " From the May 23 New York Times article:
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy,writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that broke along ideologicallines, described a prison system that failed to deliver minimal care toprisoners with serious medical and mental health problems and produced "needlesssuffering and death."
Justices Antonin Scalia andSamuel A. Alito Jr. filed vigorous dissents. Justice Scalia called the orderaffirmed by the majority "perhaps the most radical injunction issued by acourt in our nation's history." Justice Alito said "the majority isgambling with the safety of the people of California."
The majority opinionincluded photographs of inmates crowded into open gymnasium-stylerooms and what Justice Kennedy described as "telephone-booth-sized cageswithout toilets" used to house suicidal inmates. Suicide rates in thestate's prisons, Justice Kennedy wrote, have been 80 percent higher than theaverage for inmates nationwide. A lower court in the case said it was "anuncontested fact" that "an inmate in one of California's prisonsneedlessly dies every six or seven days due to constitutionaldeficiencies."
"A prison that deprivesprisoners of basic sustenance, including adequate medical care, is incompatiblewith the concept of human dignity and has no place in civilized society,"Justice Kennedy wrote on Monday. [The New York Times, 5/23/11]
AP: "A Second Judge In The [Lower Court] Case HasBlamed Crowding For Contributing To Poor Care For Mentally Ill Inmates, LeadingSome To Kill Themselves." Froma May 23 Associated Press article:
A special panel of threejudges based in different parts of California decided in 2009 to order the prisonpopulation reduction. Monday's order puts them in charge of how the statecomplies. The 2009 ruling grew out of lawsuits alleging unconstitutionally poorcare for mentally and physically ill inmates. One case dates back 20 years.
The growth in the prisonpopulation in the nation's most populous state can be attributed in part toyears of get-tough sentencing laws, including a three-strikes law that sendsrepeat offenders to prison for life. As of May 11, there were roughly 143,000inmates in a 33 adult prison-system designed to hold 80,000.
At the peak of overcrowding in2006, nearly 20,000 inmates were living in makeshift housing in gymnasiums andother common areas, often sleeping in bunks stacked three high. Prisondoctors conducted examinations in shower stalls or in makeshift offices withoutrunning water, often in full view of other inmates.
One of the federal judgesinvolved in the lower court ruling once blamed the prison system's poor medicalcare for causing the death of about one inmate every week due to neglect ormedical malpractice.
The same judge in 2006 seizedcontrol of the prison health care system, putting it under the management of afederal receiver. A second judge in the case has blamed crowding forcontributing to poor care for mentally ill inmates, leading some to killthemselves.
At the time, then-Gov. ArnoldSchwarzenegger declared a public safety emergency because of the crowding. Hethen began shipping inmates to private prisons in Arizona, Mississippi andOklahoma. More than 10,000 California inmates are now housed in private prisonsout of state. [AP, 5/23/11, emphasis added]
LA Times:"State Officials Vowed To Comply [With The Ruling], Saying They Hoped ToDo So Without Setting Any Criminals Free." From a May 24 Los Angeles Times article:
The U.S. SupremeCourt ruled that California must remove tens of thousands of inmates fromits prison rolls in the next two years, and state officials vowed to comply,saying they hoped to do so without setting any criminals free.
Administration officialsexpressed confidence that their plan to shift low-level offenders to countyjails and other facilities, already approved by lawmakers, would ease thepersistent crowding that the high court said Monday had caused "needlesssuffering and death" and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.
Gov. Jerry Brown'stransfer plan "would solve quite a bit" of the overcrowding problem,though not as quickly as the court wants, said Matthew Cate, secretary ofCalifornia's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. "Our goal is tonot release inmates at all.''
But the governor's plan wouldcost hundreds of millions of dollars, to be paid for with tax hikes that couldprove politically impossible to implement. And at present, Brown's plan is theonly one on the table.
The governor issued a mutedstatement calling for enactment of his program and promising, "I will takeall steps necessary to protect public safety." [LA Times, 5/24/11]
AP: "The Decision ... Doesn't Mean The PrisonGates Will Swing Open In An Uncontrolled Release." From a May 24 AP article:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruledMonday that California must drastically reduce its prison population to relievesevere overcrowding that has exposed inmates to increased violence, disease anddeath.
The decision, however, doesn'tmean the prison gates will swing open in an uncontrolled release.
The high court's 5-4 decisioncalls on the state to cut the population to no more than 110,000 inmates. Toget there, state officials have two years to either transfer some 33,000inmates to other jails or release them. California has already been preparingfor the ruling, driven as much by persistent multibillion-dollar budgetdeficits as by fears for the well-being of prison inmates and employees. Thestate has sent inmates to other states. It plans to transfer jurisdiction overothers to counties, though the state doesn't have the money to do it.
The ruling gives Californiatwo weeks to submit a population-reduction plan and two years to comply.However, Justice Anthony Kennedy, a California native who wrote the majorityopinion, said the state could ask a federal court for more time to reach the110,000-inmate target, even as he chastised California for allowingunconstitutional conditions to persist for years.
"Our goal is to notrelease inmates at all,'' said Matthew Cate, the state corrections secretary.Shorter term inmates will leave prison before the Supreme Court's deadlineexpires, and newly sentenced lower-level offenders would go to local jailsunder the plan.
With that said, there are noplans at this time to release any of the inmates currently housed at the twoMonterey County prisons, Salinas Valley State Prison and the CorrectionalTraining Facility, said Oscar Hidalgo, spokesman for the California Departmentof Corrections and Rehabilitation. The eventual goal, Hidalgo said, is toreduce the inmate population at the state prisons through initiatives such asthe realignment program.
But sending more prisoners toMonterey County Jail presents its own problems, with the jail badly in need ofupgrades and already housing more inmates than it was designed for, saidMonterey County Sheriff Scott Miller. Concerns over prison crowding andsecurity grew over the weekend with a pair of riots that injured inmates, butno guards. [AP, 5/24/11]
Only 5 of the 47 GOP senators voted against the House GOP's Medicare-abolishing budget plan moments ago.[...]
Read The Full Article: