A group of executives who want to fight global warming has published a new report calling for countries to spend up to $600 billion a year over the next two decades to boost green energy deployment and energy efficiency equipment.
The Energy Transitions Commission’s (ETC) report claims that “additional investments of around $300-$600 billion per annum do not pose a major macroeconomic challenge,” which they say will help the world meet the goals laid out in the Paris agreement.
ETC is made up of energy executives, activist leaders and investment bankers, including former Vice President Al Gore, who would no doubt get a piece of the trillions of dollars they are calling for.
ETC’s goal is to “accelerate change towards low-carbon energy systems that enable robust economic development” and limit global warming. ETC’s report comes out as the Trump administration considers whether or not to stay party to the Paris agreement, which went into effect in 2016.
Donald Trump has ordered Obama-era policies meant to comply with the Paris agreement be rolled back, but the White House is mulling whether or not to pull out of the agreement altogether. European countries and energy companies have been pressuring the White House to stay party to Paris.
Royal Dutch Shell, for example, aided the pro-Paris faction of the Trump administration by publicly supporting continued U.S. participation in the United Nations deal. Shell is a major producer of natural gas, which the company bills as a way to fight global warming.
Shell funds ETC, and the group’s report mainly targets emissions from coal use. ETC calls for “a rapid decrease in unabated coal consumption, a peak of oil in the 2020s and a continued role for gas provided methane leakages are reduced significantly.”
ETC says global carbon dioxide emissions need to be cut from 36 gigatons to 20 gigatons by 2040, and the world needs “net zero” emissions after 2050 to keep global temperatures from hitting 2 degrees Celsius by 2100.
To meet that goal ETC claims the world needs “investment in renewables and other low-carbon technologies some $6 trillion higher ($300 billion per year); while the largest required increases – of almost $9 trillion ($450 billion per year) – will be in more efficient energy saving equipment and buildings.”
That’s a $15 trillion price tag to theoretically limit future global warming.
ETC says fossil fuel investment would need to be cut $3.7 trillion over this time, and that’s on top of fundamentally altering their economic systems to make green energy cost-competitive with fossil fuels in some parts of the world by 2035.
The group says an “explicit, predictably rising, forward price curve for carbon, resulting from policy, reaching approximately $50 per tonne in the 2020s and rising to around $100 per tonne in the 2030s – is essential to drive decarbonization beyond power, to reinforce regulatory-driven improvements in energy productivity and to prevent falling fossil fuels prices from undermining the pace of the energy transition.”
This report, by Michael Bastasch, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
According to multiple sources, Barack Obama has signed on to deliver a speech to Wall Street in September for which he will be paid $400,000. For the time being, however, he is charging nothing. And judging from remarks he made Monday at the University of Chicago, he is worth every penny.
The speech marked his first public engagement since leaving the White house, and the subject — the lingering inequities of race in the U.S. — was distressingly familiar not only coming from America’s first black president but from a man who is on pace to become one of the nation’s richest.
In the speech, a video clip from which appears below, he spoke of the “stereotypical profile of somebody who has a good likelihood of shooting or getting shot here in Chicago.”
“What was striking when you sat down with these guys,” he continued, contrasting youths he had met to the six “young leaders” who joined him on stage, “was they are young.”
If you had listened to them talking, you would recognize them as not that different from any other young man 18 to 24. What was different was their circumstances.
They had grown up in some cases in foster care or their mother was a drug addict and they had been neglected, so even within the city boundaries a lot of times we will characterize our neighbors as something entirely different than us, that we can’t understand and that we are afraid of and we can’t communicate with. Political rhetoric reinforces that. They need to be heard too.
If the six of you had been in that conversation, you would have come away not saying, ‘these are some thugs or super predators that I can’t relate to.’ You would actually say, ‘man, if I had gone through what they went through, I’m not sure how things would have worked out for me, either.’ [Emphasis added]
Super predators? Where did that phrase come from? For the answer you would need to go all the way back to 1994, to the presidency of Bill Clinton, whose much-in-the-news-then-as-now wife said in support of her husband’s tough “three strikes and you’re out” crime bill (beginning at 0:42):
Not just gangs of kids any more. They are often the kinds of kids who are called ‘super predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they end up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.
(h/t Christian Datoc, Daily Caller)
Former President Barack Obama’s decision to accept a $400,000 fee to speak at a health care conference organized by the bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald is easily understood. That’s so much cash, for so little work, that it would be extraordinarily difficult for anyone to turn it down. And the precedent established by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, to say nothing of former Federal Reserve Chairs Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan and a slew of other high-ranking former officials, is that there is nothing wrong with taking the money.
Indeed, to not take the money might be a problem for someone in Obama’s position. It would set a precedent.
Obama would be suggesting that for an economically comfortable high-ranking former government official to be out there doing paid speaking gigs would be corrupt, sleazy, or both. He’d be looking down his nose at the other corrupt, sleazy former high-ranking government officials and making enemies.
Which is exactly why he should have turned down the gig.
Hillary Clinton’s Department of State aides allegedly threatened a South Asian prime minister’s son with an IRS audit in an attempt to stop a Bangladesh government investigation of a close friend and donor of Clinton’s, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group learned.
A Bangladesh government commission was investigating multiple charges of financial mismanagement at Grameen Bank, beginning in May 2012. Muhammad Yunus, a major Clinton Foundation donor, served as managing director of the bank.
Sajeeb Wazed Joy, son of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and permanent U.S. resident, recalled the account of the threatened IRS audit to TheDCNF. The allegations mark the first known instance in the U.S. that Clinton’s Department of State used IRS power to intimidate a close relative of a friendly nation’s head of state on behalf of a Clinton Foundation donor.
Joy told TheDCNF it was “astounding and mind boggling” that senior State Department officials between 2010 and 2012 repeatedly pressured him to influence his mother to drop the commission investigation.
The commission report was released in early 2013.
“They threatened me with the possibility of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service,” he said. “I have been here legally for 17 years and never had a problem. But they said, ‘well, you know, you might get audited.’”
“They would say over and over again, ‘Yunus has powerful friends’ and we all knew they were talking of Secretary Clinton. Everybody knew it was Mrs. Clinton,” Joy told TheDCNF.
The Prime Minister originally disclosed in general terms the pressure exerted on her son at a February reception in Munich. Sources such as the Dhaka Tribune carried the news throughout the country.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said her son Sajeeb Wazed Joy had to face pressure from the US State Department to keep Muhammad Yunus as the Grameen Bank managing director,” the Tribune reported.
“Hillary Clinton phoned me and exerted the same pressure. Even the U.S. State Department summoned my son Joy three times and told him that we would face trouble,” Hasina added.
Hasina said State Department officials told Joy that Clinton would not take the matter lightly.
“Convince your mother,” she recalled Joy quoting officials.
However, Hasina never provided details of the ordeal her son faced until his interview with the DCNF.
The World Bank also decided to rescind a $1.2 billion loan to Bangladesh while the IRS was pressuring Joy in 2012. The money was requested in order to build a key bridge near the capital city of Dhaka. The World Bank leveled bribery charges against two Canadian officials, but a Canadian court later acquitted both individuals.
Former Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dijou Moni, who twice met with then-Secretary of State Clinton, told TheDCNF it was apparent there were links between the World Bank loan cancellation and Yunus. Moni now is chairwoman of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs.
“Whether there was any abuse by the U.S. Government or the secretary of state, that I cannot say,” Moni said. “I can only say we saw two facts: One was the communications from the State Department, and then the other one was the withdrawal of World Bank’s loan.”
But she was more direct about Yunus’ role in the World Bank cancellation.
“Professor Yunus obviously tried to punish or tried to retaliate and punish the government of Bangladesh, especially [Prime Minister] Sheikh Hasina,” she said. “He knew how important the Padma [bridge] was for our economy, for our people’s government, and it would revive the whole of south of Bangladesh.”
“Obviously, he tried to use that to get out of the situation he was in, and he wanted to punish the government,” she said.
Joy claimed he received threats from all levels of the State Department.
“The threats came from all levels. It came from the U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh to pretty senior officials within the State Department.”
Joy regularly met many State Department officials as he lived near the nation’s capital. He considered many to be friends and colleagues, but the tone and substance of the discussions radically changed beginning in 2010.
“Previously, we pretty much discussed many issues, things like trade, finance or national security. But then, the only thing they would be harping on was Yunus. They had one obsession, to save Muhammad Yunus.”
Clinton met with Yunus three times as secretary of state while the Bangladesh government investigation was underway, according to an August 2016 Associated Press report on Clinton Foundation donors.
Throughout the Bangladesh government’s investigation, “He (Yunus) pleaded for help in messages routed to Clinton, and she ordered aides to find ways to assist him,” AP reported.
Nonprofit government watchdog Judicial Watch obtained Clinton emails that showed her aide Melanne Verveer regularly updated Clinton on Yunus’ ongoing plight.
Clinton also supported Yunus in other ways. The U.S. Agency for International Development, part of State Department, partnered with the Grameen Foundation for a $162 million micro-finance project in 2009. The agency separately awarded $2.2 million to the foundation.
Yunus first ran into trouble when a 2010 Norwegian documentary charged that he diverted nearly $100 million of Grameen Bank funds to finance his private enterprises. Yunus presently owns more than 50 private and nonprofit companies, ranging from Grameen Telecom to firms in the fashion industry and even a yogurt company.
Joy said word of the $100 million diversion did not sit well with many Bangladeshis who earn an annual per-capita income of $1,314.
“The whole Grameen Bank embezzlement issue was important for us,” Joy said. “You know, he took $100 million from Grameen bank and transferred to his private trust to create 57 personal, private sector projects.”
Joy added that “Yunus eventually paid it back, but that’s not the point. He took the money, and the bank is a state-bank not authorized to provide big business loans.”
After the Bangladesh government commission report came out in 2013, officials removed Yunus as managing director. They invoked a rule stating bank executives can only work up to the age of 60. Yunus was 70 at the time.
Prior to the scandal, Yunus was a high-flying bank executive who championed “micro-credits,” small loans to try to lift the poor out of poverty.
He won the admiration and later financial and political assistance of the Clintons when the former president was governor of Arkansas.
The Clintons also frequently hosted Yunus at their foundation’s annual Clinton Global Initiative galas in New York. He was a heavily promoted as a CGI speaker nearly every year from 2008 to 2016, according to the foundation’s website.
Yunus was awarded the 2006 Noble Peace Prize, reportedly with backroom lobbying by Bill Clinton.
As a New York Senator, Clinton successfully pushed Congress to award him the Congressional Gold Medal. Then-President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 2010.
Yunus in turn was a donor to the Clinton Foundation. Grameen America, one of Yunus’ major American organizations, gave between $100,000 to $250,000 to the foundation, according to the Clinton Foundation website. His Grameen Research group donated $25,000 to $50,000.
TheDCNF contacted both Grameen America and the Clinton Foundation seeking comment but received responses from neither.
This report, by Richard Pollock, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
New figures from the federal government finds in parts of the Bay Area, some people who bring in a six-figure income can be considered “low-income.”
Edward Apana of South San Francisco – married, with 2 children – says the cost of living in the Bay Area is a challenge. So to hear that six-figures is now considered “low income” is a bit shocking, but not that hard to believe.
“Between the two of us, we can still make San Francisco, San Mateo County home,” Apana told KPIX 5 “If one of us were to lose our job, it would be kind of tough.”
The new numbers come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and specifically have to do with eligibility for government assistance for housing.
HUD says a family of four in San Francisco or San Mateo County with an income of 105,350 is now considered “low income.” For Alameda and Contra Costa County, $80,400 is considered low income.
“These are certainly dramatic numbers,” said Michael Bernick, former director of the state Employment Development Department.
A Seattle woman said a Bank of America ATM in Wedgwood dispensed a fake $20 bill during a transaction Monday.
Darcy Fox stopped at the bank on 35th Ave NE and NE 85th St to withdraw $300.
She said when she got her cash, she immediately noticed one tattered bill. After a further look, she said the bill was clearly prop money. President Andrew Jackson’s face was misshapen, and several areas clarify the bill is not for legal use and is for ‘Motion Picture Use Only.’
“It bewildered me that they could actually have that occur at a bank,” Fox said.
Fox brought the bill inside to report the incident to the bank manager immediately.
Bank of America confirms the incident and said they gave Fox a real $20 bill Tuesday in return. A spokesperson called it an isolated incident that they will report to local authorities and the Secret Service.
A spokesperson for the bank also told KOMO News there are safeguards to keep fake money out of ATMs, but for security reasons they would not go into detail.
Just as he has done with practically everything else since Donald Trump was inaugurated, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is making his decisions based on politics rather than what’s good for the nation. In recent weeks he has insisted he was willing to shut down the government if funding for the border wall with Mexico was still in the continuing funding resolution. Yet in 2006, before he was leader of the Senate opposition and before Trump was president, Schumer voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act.
Eighty senators in total voted for the law, including 26 six of the 44 Democrats. Eleven years later some of those Democratic senators are still serving in the upper body, and one Democratic member of the House who voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act is now in the Senate.
So what’s the difference between then and now? There are only two I could find.
The first is that the 2006 proposal was for a double-layered fence with barbed-wire on top and room for a security vehicle to patrol between the layers. The 2017 proposal is for a wall, 30 feet high, that will be more difficult to climb and resistant to tampering or damage.
The only other difference is that Donald Trump is president. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been doing whatever he could to throw roadblocks in front of the new administration. He slow-walked each and every cabinet pick so that the new president wouldn’t have the benefit of cabinet secretaries to help him serve the public.
Schumer also sacrificed the filibuster on Supreme Court picks, as he led a filibuster on Neil Gorsuch, even though he knew that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would go for the nuclear option and Gorsuch would be approved anyway.
Such is Chuck Schumer. The needs of America do not matter. In fact the only thing that matters to Schumer is sating the extreme left-wing of the Democratic Party.
Cross-posted at The Lid
Are you freaking kidding me? Thirteen-term Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters, Beltway barnacle permanently affixed to U.S.S. Government, is now the fresh-faced “rock star” of the Democratic Party.
“Auntie Maxine” is stoking the resistance, inspiring millenials, combating hate, crusading against corruption, and invoking the counterinsurgent cry to “stay woke!”
I do not have enough guffaws to give.
This new spokesmodel for civility and clean government has stoked division and exploited taxpayers for decades.
Change agent? She has served on the Democratic National Committee since 1980—when the Atari 2600 was cutting-edge, Kim Kardashian was a newborn, and Al Franken was hamming it up on Saturday Night Live.
Rep. Waters has spent thirty-seven years in office—many of those years as head of the Congressional Black Caucus—promising to make life better for constituents in economically ravaged South Central Los Angeles.
What do the denizens of her district have to show for it? Staggering levels of persistent unemployment, poverty, and gang violence as the 25th anniversary of the L.A. riots looms this coming weekend.
What does Rep. Waters have to show for it?
[Ed. – The question we should be asking.]
The most shocking aspect of the Easter Sunday Facebook murder of 74-year-old Robert Godwin, Sr. might be that this sort of social media mayhem is losing its ability to shock.
In March, a video of a 15-year-old girl being sexually assaulted by several teenage boys was streamed on Facebook.
In February, a teenager was convicted of fatally shooting his friend; the killer implicated himself by sending a selfie with the dying victim on Snapchat.
In January, four people were arrested after broadcasting a video on Facebook that showed them taunting and beating a mentally disabled teenager who had been bound and gagged.
Already this year, a 14-year-old girl in Florida and a 33-year-old man in California have committed suicide on Facebook.
Last year, an armed woman in Maryland live-streamed her fatal standoff with the police, and a 12-year-old in Georgia recorded her own suicide by hanging via the Live.me app.
[Ed. – No one’s questioning the ‘love’ part.]
“I felt loved and remembered loving the moments that my parents shared with us by exposing us to all types of people from all walks of life. We grew up appreciating my father’s success because we knew the prejudice and racism he endured getting to where he got and how hard he worked for our family,” Evin wrote in her statement. “When people are so quick to cast hate, and make accusations of horrific violence against my dad, they are callous in their carelessness about the harm they are causing to others.”
The comedian, 79, has been charged with three counts of felony aggravated assault from an alleged encounter with Andrea Constand in 2004, but he has pleaded not guilty.
As previously reported, Constand claimed that the actor drugged and violated her at his home when she was a Temple University employee. In recent years, dozens more women have come forward accusing the Cosby Show alum of sexual misconduct.
[Ed. – Notice also that vanilla, the ‘white’ flavor, is the villain.]
After watching the clip of Rachel Bloom on Bill Nye’s show that’s supposedly about science, one had to believe that we had seen Peak Nye. Not even close. Nye seems to have decided to dedicate his new Netflix series to a string of very strange takes on sexuality, and his latest one features an ice cream orgy that ridicules religious belief, while making an incoherent argument that feelings are bad … unless they’re good. Or something (via Twitchy):
Sweet Jesus, there's more cringeworthy video from Bill Nye. https://t.co/2SaePiSy6E
— Jason C. (@CounterMoonbat) April 25, 2017
Er … wut? Let’s start with the feelz first. Vanilla gets tagged as the antagonist in this video because of his/her feelings, which gets ridiculed for its lack of science, and yet the appeal to change Vanilla’s mind is based entirely on feelings. Everyone is made different, but no one respects vanilla’s individuality. In fact, in terms of today’s political climate, all the other flavors sexually harass vanilla and pressure him/her into participating in an orgy. On most college campuses these days, every other flavor involved in this incident would get expelled under Title 31 [Flavors].
The prospect of a government shutdown appears less likely after President Donald Trump dropped his demand to include funding for a proposed border wall with Mexico in must-pass spending legislation, and a new Morning Consult/POLITICO survey suggests most voters think that’s the right move.
In the poll conducted from Thursday and through the weekend, only 27 percent of registered voters said funding the wall was important enough to prompt a government shutdown on Saturday — making it their lowest priority. Sixty-one percent of voters said it wasn’t important enough to prompt a shutdown.
The idea of a shutdown over wall funding was more palatable to Republicans. Four in 10 GOP voters said the issue was important enough to prompt a shutdown, compared with 19 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of independents. Still, roughly half of Republicans (51 percent) said it wasn’t worth a shutdown.
Americans are generally allergic to governing by crisis. Almost 7 in 10 (67 percent) said members of Congress should take all necessary steps to avoid a shutdown, and try to achieve their policy goals another way, up just slightly from earlier this month.
He wore the uniform proudly, serving his country for four years in the Marine Corps.
He trained for danger, but danger found him at home in a Bedford drive thru.
“It’s tough,” said the victim’s brother-in-law Erick Stahl, himself an Afghanistan combat veteran. “Not everybody’s built to handle what we do overseas, and to see it at a McDonald’s, of all places, is sad.”
The victim, 25-year-old Justin Lampkins, was in his truck with friends, three vehicles back at the drive-through.
Suspect Evan Schaffer was in the first truck. When cars weren’t moving up to the window, “a horn was sounded. The accused got out of the first pick up truck and went back to the third truck which the victim was in and engaged and battered the victim. Punched him,” according to Bedford assistant police chief Joe DeWees.
Police say it’s not clear who honked the horn.
They say Shafer then walked away from the former Marine he’d just allegedly punched. They say friends tried to calm the suspect down but he went back to Justin’s truck.
It’s odd to defend clear-cut violations of the law and then complain that the law isn’t being enforced harshly enough. But that’s what the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and a gaggle of other left-wing groups recently did.
They fault the acting head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Candice Jackson, for having objected in the past to clear-cut violations of the civil rights laws that she is now charged with enforcing, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
They cite a recent Pro Publica article, noting that Jackson once objected to universities’ limiting class sections to members of particular races—a practice they euphemistically refer to as “equal opportunity/affirmative action policies”:
In past writings, Ms. Jackson appeared to be ignorant of the history and continued presence of race and sex discrimination, as evidenced by her claims that equal opportunity/affirmative action policies discriminate against White students.
These complaints were contained in April 24th joint letters to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and to Senators. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, et al.
These letters defend practices that the courts have ruled illegal, and every current U.S. Supreme Court justice would find illegal. It is illegal to have race-based classes, which no court ruling has ever suggested is valid under an affirmative-action or diversity rationale. Civil rights laws do not contain exceptions for particular races, much less countenance segregation. Title VI says that “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Title VI, which OCR is charged with enforcing, has been construed by courts as banning race-based scholarships reserved for a particular race. (Podberesky v. Kirwan, 38 F.3d 147 (4th Cir. 1994) (striking down race-specific scholarship for blacks under the Constitution and Title VI)).
In 1976, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that whites are protected by the civil-rights laws against racial discrimination. (McDonald v. Santa Fe Trail Transp. Co., 427 U.S. 273 (1976) (interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to forbid race-based firings of whites)).
The Supreme Court has struck down other race-specific programs by lopsided margins. (See, e.g., Rice v. Cayetano, 528 U.S. 495 (2000) (7-to-2 Supreme Court ruling invalidating race-based election reserved for Native Hawaiians)). While the Supreme Court has allowed race to be used as a “plus factor” in college admissions to achieve integration or promote diversity, it has never allowed racial segregation, blanket exclusion, or race-specific classes or sections.
Ironically, after attacking Jackson for complaining about discrimination, these groups lecture Education Secretary DeVos about her need to “demonstrate a commitment to core American values of equal opportunity, nondiscrimination, and…the rule of law,” including enforcement of “schools’ responsibilities under Title IX.”
For example, an October 20, 2015 letter urged the Education Department to pressure colleges to ban anonymous social media applications such as Yik Yak, after some students used them to say things that were sexist, racist, or intimidating. This letter was signed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and many of the other groups that also signed the April 24th letters to Secretary DeVos and to Sens. Alexander and Murray. Their 2015 letter urged the blocking or “geo-fencing of anonymous social media applications that are used to” make bigoted or otherwise “harassing” remarks, and “barring the use of campus wi-fi to view or post to these applications.”
Such demands for nanny-state bans under Title IX and Title VI were foolish and counterproductive, and had no statutory basis, as even liberal writers noted. As Amanda Hess of Slate pointed out, it was ironic that:
Feminists and civil rights groups are trying to get universities to block the very app that gives marginalized students a voice on campus…. The app [Yik Yak] is massively and broadly popular among American college students, including female students, LGBTQ students, and students of color…. Yik Yak is an essential outlet for many college students who are adjusting to a new community and exploring their own identities…Students routinely use Yik Yak to discuss experiences with mental illness or same-sex attraction or other intimate subjects they don’t feel comfortable announcing on the quad.
These censorship demands were, as I noted in the Chronicle of Higher Education (quoting Justice Felix Frankfurter) like “burning the house to roast the pig”; UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh’s related commentary in the Washington Post “correctly described [the anti-Yik Yak groups] as a ‘national coalition in favor of campus censorship.’” Contrary to what these demands suggested, “There is no racism or sexism exception to the First Amendment on campus, as court rulings like Dambrot v. Central Michigan University (1995) make clear.”
These same groups have also defended Education Department rules imposed under the Obama administration without notice and comment, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, that micromanage college discipline and ignore Supreme Court rulings limiting Title IX liability.
The Leadership Conference has also supported race-conscious rules issued in 2014 without notice and comment under Title VI. Those rules pressure schools to have racial proportionality in school discipline, which is something the Supreme Court has made clear is not required by Title VI, and which a federal appeals court has ruled is unconstitutional.
The last few months have seen expletives ringing from large sections of the Democratic bench. In a New York Magazine profile this month, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) included one “f*ck,” two “f*cking”s, one “bullsh*t,” one “pissed off,” one “they suck,” and a “what the hell is going on?” DNC Chairman Tom Perez has awkwardly but assuredly brought profanity into his stump speeches, saying at a January DNC Future Forum, “if you don’t have the trust of the community, then you ain’t got sh*t,” and telling a New Jersey Working Families Alliance event in March that Republicans “don’t give a sh*t about people.” Kicking off an eight-state “Come Together and Fight Back” speaking tour alongside Senator Bernie Sanders in Portland, Maine last week, Perez turned to the president’s spending proposals—“They call it a ‘skinny budget.’ I call it a sh*tty budget.” By Thursday, the shop at Democrats.org was selling “Democrats give a sh*t about people” shirts.
A 2009 study noted that we swear almost as frequently as we use first person plural pronouns. A 2016 AP/NORC poll found that one in four American adults use the f-word daily, up from 15 percent 10 years ago. The number using it “several times a day” doubled.
This won’t be a comprehensive commentary on the “Bundy trials” issue, by any means. Just a couple of initial reactions to the end of the first Bundy ranch trial on Monday in a mistrial for four of the defendants, declared by Judge Gloria Navarro of the U.S. District Court of Nevada.
Two defendants were convicted by the jury: Todd Engel of Idaho on two charges, and Greg Burleson of Arizona, who in fact was acting as a federal informant throughout the Bundy ranch standoff in 2014. Burleson was convicted on eight charges, including assault on a federal officer, threatening, two counts of “firearm in relation to a crime of violence,” and interference with interstate commerce by extortion.
The federal government reportedly has charges pending against a total of 17 defendants, including Cliven Bundy and other members of his family. There are two additional trials to go.
But this first trial won’t help federal prosecutors get the other convictions they’re after. In spite of Judge Navarro’s best efforts, the jury simply wouldn’t return convictions for conspiracy in the cases of any of the defendants. Nor would the jurors find four of them guilty of firearm offenses and assault charges.
Instead, the jury, which began deliberations on 13 April, deadlocked on all four of the other defendants: Eric Parker, Scott Drexler, and Steven Stewart of Idaho, and Richard Lovelien of Oklahoma. Judge Navarro sent them back for more deliberation last week, but they were still unable to come to agreement.
It sounds as if that is a good thing for the integrity of the federal justice system. There has been a lot of reporting that Navarro ran the trial in a remarkable manner, in many cases refusing to allow the defense to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, while also allowing those same witnesses to sit in the courtroom for the trial when they weren’t on the stand. (Yet prospective defense witnesses were required to leave the courtroom, except when they were on the stand.) Defense lawyers, it is reported, were prohibited in at least some instances from making their own objections. Navarro silenced them and objected on their behalf.
Even professional media outlets recorded the serious questions raised about Navarro’s decisions. The Arizona Republic acknowledged these concerns:
Judge limits witnesses, arguments by defense attorneys
Navarro would not allow the defense to argue about constitutional protections to the jury.
Navarro also prevented the defense from calling a string of witnesses about what happened in the run-up to the standoff, ruling they could only testify about what happened on the final day of the standoff.
But this brief summary doesn’t fully convey the reality. The defense team originally planned to call as many as 30 witnesses. Navarro prohibited them from calling all but four (one of whom was defendant Eric Parker). The prosecution was permitted to call 35. In fact, the prosecution completely dominated the proceedings: in a two-month period of witness questioning and argument, the defense got two days to bring its witnesses and make its case. (According to one observer — link below — the jury was present for only 15 minutes of that two-day period.)
The limitation in scope of testimony for the defense certainly looks like something an appeals court would have found astonishing, if any of the men had been convicted of conspiracy. Conspiracy was what the prosecution was trying to prove. And yet an AP story had this to say about Navarro’s ruling on the scope of defense testimony (confirming the point made by the Arizona Republic, above):
Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ruled that any testimony should focus on the standoff itself, not incidents preceding it.
If she wanted to have conspiracy convictions overturned on appeal, Navarro could hardly have found a better method.
Obviously, none of us was in the jury room. But it’s hard to imagine watching the unbalanced trial proceedings described by observers — and acknowledged, elliptically, by the mainstream media — and thinking that the defendants were getting a fair shake. It sounds like if I’d been on that jury, I would have had a hard time convicting even Greg Burleson of anything, as unsympathetic as he undoubtedly was.
The four on whom the jury deadlocked will have to face a new trial before Navarro, starting on 24 June. Frankly, Navarro shouldn’t get to hear this case again. Apparently, she regards the mere sight of a pocket version of the U.S. Constitution as incendiary:
Other spectators confirmed Lamb’s account and more. Many of those in the courtroom carried pocket-sized Constitutions; Judge Navarro subsequently ruled that the Constitution was not allowed in the courtroom unless it was turned face-down. On April 10, a man named Neil Wampler was escorted out of the courtroom and his things collected by a U.S. marshal because he had a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his pocket that was visible to the judge.
I’m sure Navarro was having to deal with unusual circumstances (e.g., defendant Todd Engel representing himself, and failing on at least one occasion to obey her instructions during a cross-examination). But it’s her job to uphold the constitutional rights of defendants, period. And if she wasn’t allowing cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, and she outright prohibited a defense geared to creating reasonable doubt about conspiracy, in a conspiracy trial, then she was failing in her job. There’s no excuse for that. The taxpayers’ time should not be wasted on judges who can’t deal with unusual defendants, except by mistreating them.
And yes, Navarro was appointed by Obama in 2010.
[Ed. – And he said it in an exchange on CNN with Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Neato mosquito.]
The panel discussion was on the April 22 edition of CNN’s New Day Weekend, hosted by Victor Blackwell. During the discussion, Blackwell asked, “The president during the campaign said he would quote/unquote cancel that [Paris Climate Agreement] — has not done it yet. How would you advise the president, if you had his ear, on how to move forward on the Paris Climate Agreement?”
William Happer, an atomic physicist and the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics (emeritus) at Princeton University, answered, “Well, you have to consider many things but on the face of it, it should be cancelled. I can imagine you might want to consider ties with allies, and things like that, that might perhaps make that unadvisable. But I don’t think it makes any scientific sense.”
“It’s just a silly thing, I think,” said Prof. Happer. “To me, it’s very similar to the  Munich Agreement that Mr. [Neville] Chamberlain signed.”
It does get pretty hard to believe in an impartial judiciary and the actual meaning of the “rule of law,” when many judges seem to have so much involvement in partisan politics and money.
Judge William Orrick III of the U.S. District for Northern California today issued an injunction against President Trump’s order to withhold certain federal funds from sanctuary cities. He was responding to separate suits brought by the city of San Francisco and nearby Santa Clara County.
According to AP:
The injunction will stay in place while the lawsuits work their way through court.
The judge said that President Donald Trump cannot set new conditions for the federal grants at stake. And even if he could, the conditions would have to be clearly related to the funds at issue and not coercive, Orrick said.
Now, to start with, it sounds like Orrick is just making that up. “Not coercive”? What does that even mean? The federal government is coercive with money all the time. There are many superb examples, starting with funding for education programs, which put a number of hapless school districts under effective consent decrees — a few explicit, more in all but name — over the expansive Obama-era reading of Title IX. Another, closer to home, is policing and “civil rights” programs — which have yielded a similar result with highly coercive consent decrees for dozens of cities and counties.
But there’s another salient point, which is that Orrick has based his decision on a reading of the Trump order that is not what the Trump administration thinks the order says, or what the administration’s lawyers say it intends.
During a recent court hearing, the Trump administration and the two California governments disagreed over the order’s scope.
San Francisco and Santa Clara County argued that the order threatened billions of dollars in federal funding for each of them, making it difficult to plan their budgets.
But Readler, acting assistant attorney general, said the threatened cutoff applies to three Justice Department and Homeland Security grants and would affect less than $1 million for Santa Clara County and possibly no money for San Francisco.
In his ruling, Orrick sided with San Francisco and Santa Clara, saying the order “by its plain language, attempts to reach all federal grants, not merely the three mentioned at the hearing.”
“And if there was doubt about the scope of the order, the president and attorney general have erased it with their public comments,” the judge said.
In other words, the judge is adducing what he thinks he heard in “public comments.” That might be applicable if the plaintiffs were alleging an injury already done to them by the order. But they’re seeking preemptive relief, without any evidence of injury having been done.
The basis for this court ruling looks questionable. We’ll see what the legal experts say.
In the meantime, it’s just kind of ridiculous that it turns out William Orrick was not only appointed by Obama (confirmed to his current seat in 2013), but was a major fundraiser for Obama.
Wikipedia cites Public Citizen:
According to the Public Citizen, a non-profit, consumer rights advocacy group, William H. Orrick III, who was employeed by Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, raised at least $200,000 for Barack Obama and donated $30,800 to committees supporting him.
Orrick’s other connections with the Obama administration relate directly to immigration issues. In 2009, before he was appointed to the bench, he joined the Obama Justice Department (emphasis added):
During his time with the Obama administration, Judge Orrick supervised the DOJ’s office of immigration litigation, and says some of his proudest work came in helping to roll back notoriously strict state-level immigration laws that had cropped up in Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and elsewhere.
He saw being a judge as a way to continue this work against the rule of law in the administration of immigration in the United States:
In 2012, on the recommendation of Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Judge Orrick was nominated by Obama to the Northern District, a post he says he began looking into largely because he felt it would allow him to continue the public service work he had begun with the DOJ.
“I was so enjoying my work every day trying to the right thing for the government,” he says. “I thought: I would like to figure out how to continue doing this the rest of my life, and I have friends who are judges in this district and seem to be enjoying themselves quite a bit.”
So it’s a good bet that if the U.S. Constitution said in black and white that “Donald J. Trump shall have the explicit power to deny federal funds for policing programs to cities that refuse to comply with federal law in their police policies,” Orrick would still have ruled against the Trump administration.
Law has to work for the people. They have to be able to trust it. Selective refusal to enforce the law of the land — the entire basis of operation for illegal-migration advocacy — cannot be held to be “law working for the people.”
And Trump was elected precisely because of that. The people don’t trust what the “enforcement of law” has turned into in America: a political game, in which the people themselves are held arbitrarily at risk. And they are not wrong to be worried and angry about that. They see far more clearly than legal specialists do that the Orrick ruling is part of a wrong pattern, one that just keeps finding ways to thwart the rule of law.
It doesn’t even really matter how Orrick’s ruling is next ruled on, or what anyone says about the framing of Trump’s order. What matters is that things should never have come down to this in the first place. The root problem is that they have. New rounds of rulings and orders can’t fix that. You either enforce the law on the underlying issue — in this case, immigration — or you don’t. Congratulating yourself on any other legal or judicial successes is merely a form of political perversion.
No matter what the judicial outcome is for the Trump sanctuary cities order, the tragedy — and it is a tragedy — will be that it does not represent the operation of the rule of law. We’re beyond that now. And it’s a very dangerous place to be.
[Ed. – It’s a think-tank. It doesn’t sell anything, it can’t vote on anything. The only thing these “protesters” can want is to make being a Heritage employee high-cost and uncomfortable. We’ll have to hope the good-natured humor of the response from some Heritage workers (below) will outlast the nothing-better-to-do endurance of the thugs. These protesters are the Brownshirts of 2017.]
Protesters demanding a “budget for the people” stormed the offices of the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
The Twitter account “People’s Action” tweeted out videos of protesters entering the building and chanting “shut it down!”
— Katrina Trinko (@KatrinaTrinko) April 25, 2017