Legal Information Institute

Inward Focus (Split Canyon Distraction Mix)

[#resist]

Protesters demonstrate on 16 September 2017 in Tunis against parliament passing an amnesty law for officials accused of corruption under toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. (Photo: Agence France-Presse)

There is nearly a joke waiting here—

Hundreds of Tunisians protested on Saturday in the streets of the capital against a widely contested new law that grants officials from the former regime involved in corruption amnesty from prosecution.

Tunisia’s parliament on Wednesday approved a law protecting officials accused of graft during the rule of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, triggering angry protests by the opposition and activists.

Waving flags and banners saying “No to forgiveness”, “Resisting against mafia rule”, around 1,500 people marched through the capital’s central Avenue Habib Bourguiba in the company of opposition leaders.

After months of protests, the law was amended from an original draft which would have also granted amnesty to corrupt businessmen. Now they will be liable to prosecution for crimes committed during Ben Ali’s 24-year rule.

(Reuters)

—because it should not be quite so easy for Americans to empathize so proximally.    (more…)

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Cowardice and Hatred, or, Alabama

The heart of cowardice: Alabama.

Perhaps “Yellowhammer State” is the wrong nickname for Alabama, which seems determined to identify according to its titanic yellow streak.

This is what cowards do:

Less than two weeks after a federal judge ordered him to comply with her ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, Mobile County’s probate judge has indicated he will not process a couple’s adoption petition until after the Supreme Court decides another case.

That has put Cari Searcy’s second-parent adoption in legal limbo and prompted her lawyers to filed a new lawsuit Tuesday in federal court asking for an order prohibiting Probate Judge Don Davis from “directly or indirectly” enforcing the state’s same-sex marriage ban that the federal judge struck down last month.

It was Searcy’s inability to adopt the boy that she and spouse Kim McKeand have raised since birth that prompted them to challenge Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage.

David Kennedy, one of the couple’s lawyers, expressed exasperation at Davis’ decision. He noted that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. “Ginny” Granade’s order to take effect and that Granade handed down a separate order on Feb. 13 specifically instructing Davis to stop enforcing the gay marriage ban.

(Kirby)

And if this isn’t enough of an indictment of the low character of Alabama, well, they do go on:

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said today he has a traditional view of marriage and he understands Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s resistance to the state’s acceptance of same-sex marriage.

“I’ve always believed and still believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I voted on that in the U.S. Senate,” Shelby, a Republican from Tuscaloosa, said after speaking this morning to the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I think the overwhelming majority of the people still believe that.”

(Cason)

We should not be surprised. Neither Shelby’s ignorance nor cheap hatred reflects anything unusual about what goes on in Alabama. Consider that by Shelby’s logic―

“We had a federal district court in Mobile make a ruling, then they had a ruling from the 11th Circuit, but the Supreme Court hasn’t. So I think that’s the point [Roy Moore is] making, that it’s not a final ruling, as I understand it,” Shelby said.

―nobody anywhere needs obey a court until they reach the Supreme Court and lose. And if that sounds strange, it is. But it’s also the result of applying Shelby’s particular argument to general consideration. In a more mundane consideration, it is also worth pointing out that Sen. Shelby is wrong; polling shows Americans support marriage equality. But, hey, this is Alabama, so what need have they for reality or basic decency, right? Just say whatever the hell they want, because, you know, they’re from Alabama, which means they’re automatically correct even when reality disagrees.

Really. Alabama. They keep electing these bigots; at some point those votes start to reflect on the character of the state, and it is not what we might call a flattering picture.

But, oh, how they do go on: (more…)

Not Exactly the Moral of the Story

"U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks in Washington on Dec. 2, 2014." (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Compartmentalization. Equivocation. Misdirection.

Watch the birdie.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has once again dug himself a hole, and yes, he’s annoyed that anyone noticed:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday continued to walk back his comments that parents should be allowed to choose whether to vaccinate their children, saying he holds the same position as President Barack Obama on the matter.

“I got annoyed that people were trying to depict me as someone who doesn’t think vaccines were a good idea,” Paul told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday, noting that he had been vaccinated before a recent trip to Guatemala and had vaccinated his children.

“I’m not sure I’m different from the president or anyone else on the position,” Paul said. “We have rules to encourage people to have vaccines in the country, but I don’t think anybody’s recommending that we hold them down.”

(Levine)

Did you catch that?

(more…)

A Long Note on Political Tradition in These United States

President Barack Obama, delivers his State of the Union speech at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 12, 2013 in Washington, DC.  (Charles Dharapak/AP)

By now of course we have become accustomed to the proposition that Republicans, once elected, would rather sit around. To some it actually seems a very sick idea; not only did the Speaker of the House demonstrate that Republicans conisder their job description to include going on vacation instead of actually working because, well, the most important part of the job is election and re-election, but in recent months the GOP has shown more and more willingness to simply admit that the inherent failure of government is more of a conservative goal than anything else.

Boehner and the band skipped out on gigs that might need Congressional attention, such as the Daa’ish question, the Ebola question, and the Immigration Reform question; despite their howls of rage regarding the latter, the fact of executive action occasionally arises when Congress refuses to pass a bill and the Speaker of the House calls on the President to use his executive authority. They could have skipped screeching themselves hoarse by simply sticking around and doing their jobs. Then again, the prior statement is controversial if only because it would appear that Congressional Republicans appear to believe their first, last, and only job is to win votes. Given their reluctance to undertake day-to-day Constitutional functions of Congress, such as advising and consenting to presidential appointments—or, as such, formally refusing the nomination—we ought not be surprised that the latest duty Republicans wish to shirk is sitting through an annual speech.

Nearly 16 years later, another Democratic president, also hated by his Republican attackers, is poised to deliver his penultimate State of the Union address. And like Pat Robertson, the idea of denying the president a SOTU invitation is once again on the right’s mind.

“Yes, there’s a risk to overreacting, but there’s a risk to underreacting as well,” said Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review. “And I fear that’s the way the congressional leadership is leaning.”

Mr. Lowry suggested one way Congress could react. “If I were John Boehner,” he said, referring to the House speaker, “I’d say to the president: ‘Send us your State of the Union in writing. You’re not welcome in our chamber.'”

Lowry may not dictate GOP decision making the way Limbaugh and Fox News do, but it’s important to note that he isn’t the only one publicly pushing the idea.

Politico reported yesterday that congressional Republicans are weighing a variety of tactics to “address” their disgust over Obama’s immigration policy, and “GOP aides and lawmakers” are considering the idea of “refusing to invite the president to give his State of the Union address.”

Late last week, Breitbart News also ran a piece of its own on the subject: “Congress should indicate to President Obama that his presence is not welcome on Capitol Hill as long as his ‘executive amnesty’ remains in place. The gesture would, no doubt, be perceived as rude, but it is appropriate.”

(Benen)

Wait, wait, wait—sixteen years ago?

Yes. Like impeachment chatter and stonewalling, Republicans want to make refusing to hear the State of the Union Address part of their standard response to any Democratic president.

(more…)

A Toxic Troika? A Note on ‘Optics’ and ‘Metrics’

Jeb Bush, left, speaking Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C., in support of Thom Tillis, a Republican candidate for the Senate. Credit Chuck Burton/Associated Press

When studying the Castor and Pollux of politics and punditry it might help to bear in mind that many of the buzzwords are intended to sound quasi-scientific in order to hide the fact that the terms describe artistic results. A metric, for instance, is simply an abstract measurement in unknown units compared to a presupposed psychomoral idyll that may or may not be available for examination and should never be trusted in the first place, anyway. The metrics of a situation are whatever the pundit wishes to describe in order to make his or her own narrative sound that much more compelling.

But then there are the optics of a situation, and this is a fairly easy explanation. Political optics are, quite literally, nothing more than appearances within a frame described by a pundit’s metrics.

In one of his first public appearances of the 2014 campaign, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida had a vivid preview Wednesday of the challenges he would face with his party’s conservative base should he seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

Standing alongside Thom Tillis, the North Carolina House speaker and Republican Senate candidate, Mr. Bush outlined his views on two of the issues he cares most passionately about: immigration policy and education standards. But as Mr. Bush made the case for an immigration overhaul and the Common Core standards, Mr. Tillis gently put distance between himself and his guest of honor, who had flown here from Florida on a dreary day to offer his endorsement in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate.

(Martin)

Ah, optics!

(more…)