Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How is this acceptable?

The eighth amendment says

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

But what is excessive has to be determined as relative to the means of the accused.

And what has happened in California reflects systemic violation.

Wealthy murder suspect freed on bail as man accused of welfare fraud stuck in jail

Joseph Warren sees no sunlight and never gets fresh air.

The 60-year-old San Francisco man, locked up for more than a month, said he has become suicidal, rarely eats the jail food and tries to sleep as much as possible when he’s not crying in his small cell.

As a gay man, he is afraid he will be assaulted in the shower.

Warren is awaiting trial on welfare fraud charges.

Charged with stealing roughly $5,000 from the government – an accusation he denies – a judge recently set his bail at $75,000, which he can’t afford.

His only options are to plead guilty or stay incarcerated.

In the same region, another criminal defendant is preparing for trial in a very different setting.

Tiffany Li, a wealthy real estate heir who is accused of conspiring to murder the father of her children, is able to remain under house arrest after posting $4m in cash and pledging $62m in property for her bail.

She has a multimillion-dollar mansion 10 miles south of Warren’s jail.

The parallel cases moving through the San Francisco Bay Area’s courts have shone a harsh light on a system that critics say is fundamentally flawed and unconstitutional, where wealth can buy freedom even for those accused of the most serious offenses while others facing minor charges are jailed indefinitely simply for being poor.

Both reasonable bail and a speedy trial are regularly denied by the states, with horrific impact mostly on the poor.

That is not acceptable.

This could not occur in a criminal justice system doing everything reasonable to punish only the guilty.

Monday, April 24, 2017

What the press is not saying

Emmanuel Macron v Marine Le Pen: who are they and what are their policies?

Marine Le Pen is a French nationalist, a throwback who rejects the eclipse of both the ideal of nationalism and the pre-eminence of the nation-state in Europe.

And she is a pro-labor, pro-welfare state nationalist.

Were it not for her nationalism, or were the year 1940, she would serve well as a moderate French socialist.

But given the chance she would undo the EU, undermine NATO, close France to immigrants and refugees, and perhaps hand certain countries back to Russia with a shrug.

Macron is a standard issue center-right politician who rejects nationalism and whose patriotism is not a rejection of the growing significance of the European Union.

Given the chance, he would harm the position of the French working class.

But he would support the EU and NATO, and be less hostile to immigration and refugees.

France is the only country in Europe where nationalist, populist parties are not also opposed to the welfare and regulatory state and enemies of working people.

What outcome would be better for America?

The defeat of Le Pen.

A post-nationalist, united Europe is better for us as regards global security and as regards its effects on our domestic politics.

We don't need anybody pouring gasoline on the fires of tribalism and identity politics.

We need to strengthen, not fray, the ties that bind together the American people.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Crazy for all these years

While MSM Focuses on Insignificant Alt-Right, They Should Be All Over the Black Bloc

Sorry, who?

This is who.

Politico connects the dots

Trump, the champion of Buchananism.

A surprisingly sympathetic interview with PB, himself.

Buchanan, for his part, feels both validated and vindicated. 

Long ago resigned to the reality that his policy views made him a pariah in the Republican Party—and stained him irrevocably with the ensuing accusations of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia—he has lived to see the GOP come around to Buchananism and the country send its direct descendant to the White House.

“I was elated, delighted that Trump picked up on the exact issues on which I challenged Bush,” he tells me. 

“And then he goes and uses my slogan? It just doesn’t get any better than this.”

No freedom to listen for Berkeley college Republicans and their fellow students

That's the important flip side of no free speech for Ann Coulter.

UC Berkeley students threaten to sue over Ann Coulter visit

The University of California at Berkeley students who invited Ann Coulter to speak on campus are threatening to sue the university if it doesn't find a proper time and venue for the conservative pundit to speak next week.

. . . .

Berkeley officials on Tuesday informed the Berkeley College Republicans and the nonpartisan BridgeUSA, which organized the Coulter event, that it was being cancelled due to security concerns.

The cancellation comes after a series of violent clashes this year on campus and in downtown Berkeley between far-right and far-left protesters who come armed with pepper spray, Molotov cocktails, brass knuckles and soda cans filled with concrete.

Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks said that police have "very specific intelligence regarding threats that could pose a grave danger to the speaker," her audience and protesters if the event goes ahead next Thursday.

Officials offered an afternoon event on May 2, when they can offer an "appropriate, protectable venue" but Coulter rejected it, saying she is not available that day.


The period is known as Dead Week, when students are studying for final exams.

Dhillon said the university offered eight possible venues for the event students had planned to take place between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. but then abruptly cancelled the event.

Patti said in a letter to Dhillon that university police and officials have determined neither the group's free speech nor the safety of the university's 36,000 students can be safeguarded on April 27.

Bernie Sanders and Robert Reich, both of the old-style left focused primarily on issues of class rather than identity, join Bill Maher, he who could give a shit about your pitiful, fragile identity, in sticking up for AC's right to speak.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Maduro leads Venezuela towards chaos

Venezuela's latest corporate target is Spain's Telefonica

Uncompensated seizure of private property for public use.

Maduro's announcement comes just a day after General Motors (GM) said authorities unexpectedly seized its auto manufacturing plant in Venezuela, showing a "total disregard" of its legal rights.

Huge swaths of Venezuela's economy have been nationalized in recent decades, including private oil, telecommunications, energy and cement businesses.

. . . .

The recent large-scale protests erupted after Maduro's administration barred opposition leader Henrique Capriles from holding political office for the next 15 years. 

At least nine people have been killed in the protests. Maduro has been accused by the opposition of behaving like a dictator.

In late March, the loyalist-backed Supreme Court tried to strip the opposition-led National Assembly of its powers, but quickly reversed course after a severe public outcry. 

The Supreme Court also blocked all reforms from opposition lawmakers.

GM isn't the only company in crisis in Venezuela

Latin America nations condemn Venezuela violence

And in a further lurch to the left, reminding us not only of Allende's subversion of the Chilean state but of Hitler's brownshirts and Mussolini's blackshirts, we see this.

Venezuela's Maduro to provide guns to 400,000 loyalists amid peaking tension

Venezuela's purely local mess can quickly become a national security problem for the US if Maduro allies his Bolivarian Revolution with Russia or China, or worse still with North Korea or Iran.

Will Buchananites praise Putin for this, too?

Russia just effectively banned Jehovah’s Witnesses from the country

Russia has an ugly history of persecution of the Witnesses, going back to Stalinist times.

Once a KGB thug, always a KGB thug.

Tu quoque

Rich people, or those who seem rich, are easily targeted as hypocrites when they rail against the obscenities of shockingly selfish superfluity.

But that does not invalidate their denunciations of inequalities capitalism generates and our bourgeois government tolerates far in excess of what is necessary to power aspiration and innovation in a mixed economy optimally ordered and regulated to best benefit all.

Or, certainly, those worst off.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A recipe for stupidity

Turkey referendum: Erdogan camp set to win after most votes counted

If you want to legally adopt a really stupid change to constitutional arrangements, put it to a plebiscite.

Adoption only requires more than half the votes cast in exactly one trip to the polls.

Sure, Article V is too demanding and gives way too much power to voters in tiny states at the expense of voters in populous states.

But the method of deciding on Brexit in Britain and on this change in Turkey is ridiculous.