Sunday, October 31, 2010

Who’s the daddy?
Paternity can now be verified by a simple test – but that doesn’t mean it should be

It’s a wise child, they say, that knows its own father. Nowadays, however, wisdom is hardly required; DNA tests can do the job with scientific certainty. For the entire course of human history, men have nursed profound, troubling doubts about the fundamental question of whether or not they were fathers to their own children; women, by contrast, usually enjoyed a reasonable level of certainty about the matter. ...

...By contrast, the old situation, in which women presented men with a child, and the man either did the decent thing and offered support, or made a run for it, allowed women a certain leeway. The courtesan in Balzac who, on becoming pregnant, unhesitatingly sought, and got, maintenance from two of her men friends, can’t have been the only one. Uncertainty allows mothers to select for their children the father who would be best for them....

...Our generation sets a good deal of store by certain knowledge. And DNA tests have obvious advantages when it comes to identifying less happy elements of our heredity: congenital disease, for instance. But in making paternity conditional on a test rather than the say-so of the mother, it has removed from women a powerful instrument of choice. I’m not sure that many people are much happier for it.

Ontario priest arrested for alleged sex abuse
ONTARIO, Calif. (KABC) -- An Ontario priest is behind bars on suspicion of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy.

The Rev. Jose Alejandro Castillo was arrested Monday on multiple counts of lewd acts against a child following a three-month investigation.

His bail was set at $7 million.

Castillo serves at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and is known as "Father Alex."

Police said Castillo met his alleged victim through the church, where he's been a fixture for seven years. ...

Public employee unions funnel public money to Dems
Who is the largest single political contributor in the 2010 campaign cycle? You can be pardoned if you answer, erroneously, that it's some new conservative group organized by Karl Rove. That's campaign spin by the Obama Democrats, obediently relayed by certain elements of the so-called mainstream media.

The real answer is AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The union's president, Gerald McEntee, reports proudly that AFSCME will be contributing $87.5 million in this cycle, entirely or almost entirely to Democrats. "We're spending big," he told the Wall Street Journal. "And we're damn happy it's big."

The mainstream press hasn't shown much interest in reporting on unions' campaign spending, which amounted to some $400 million in the 2008 cycle. And it hasn't seen fit to run long investigative stories on why public employee unions -- the large majority of which work for state and local governments -- contribute so much more to campaigns for federal office....

Anchorage CBS Affiliate Caught on Voicemail Conspiring Against Alaska's GOP Senate Candidate
The following voice mail message was inadvertently left on the cell phone of Joe Miller campaign spokesperson Randy DeSoto.

The voices are believed to be those of the news director for CBS Anchorage affiliate KTVA, along with assignment editor Nick McDermott, and other reporters, openly discussing creating, if not fabricating, two stories about Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joe Miller....

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Opinion allows Collin DA to fund weapons for courthouse security team
...The county commissioners have given up their effort to stop Roach from spending $25,000 on high-powered rifles, shotguns, helmets and shields to outfit a one-of-a-kind courthouse security team.

The commissioners, who approve the district attorney's overall budget, sought a legal opinion but found that Roach can use asset forfeiture funds for the purchase....

Black Panther case reveals schism
...Interviews and government documents reviewed by The Washington Post show that the case tapped into deep divisions within the Justice Department that persist today over whether the agency should focus on protecting historically oppressed minorities or enforce laws without regard to race. ...

...In recent months, Adams and a Justice Department colleague have said the case was dismissed because the department is reluctant to pursue cases against minorities accused of violating the voting rights of whites. Three other Justice Department lawyers, in recent interviews, gave the same description of the department's culture, which department officials strongly deny. ...

The danger of the partisan mind
...The advent of the Obama era has evidently put Democratic minds at ease. But why? Is government now, as a matter of fact, less of a threat to American citizens? President Obama seems no better than George Bush on those issues that presumably led a majority of Democrats to view Washington as a threat. Indeed, the continuity between the Obama and Bush administrations on these issues is so complete, it would be misleading to characterise Mr Obama as "Bush light". Mr Obama's stance on civil liberties and executive power amount to a vigorous affirmation of the very policies he openly deplored during the campaign. He has, for example, asserted the authority to order the assassination of American citizens, which seems pretty threatening to me. The fact that the Obama administration is deporting record numbers of undocumented immigrants may not seem a threat to citizens, but it is. And as we noted the other day, the Obama Department of Justice has directly threatened to arrest and imprison Californians who buy and sell marijuana, whether or not California voters choose to make it legal in their state.

Mr Waldman is right to suggest that today's Republican alarm and Democratic light-heartedness are partisan phenomena. But one is no sillier than the other. The majority of Democrats who saw government as a threat in 2007 were right to do so, and nothing truly significant has changed since then. Likewise, the overwhelming majority of Republicans who were at ease with the state in 2007 were profoundly misguided; one wishes they had been roused from their oblivious slumber for better reasons....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Disappointed Obama isn't FDR? Let's remember the real deal about the New Deal.
...Take the first claim, for instance, regarding Roosevelt's economic recovery. After inheriting his own economic crisis, FDR instituted the New Deal, rescuing the American economy from total collapse. Roosevelt, however, did not bring the US economy back to full health. In 1941, the year America declared war against Japan, the US unemployment rate stood at 9.9 percent. That’s right, even after the Works Progress Association, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Lend-Lease Act put Americans back to work, unemployment was higher than it is right now.

In 1941, even after the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Lend-Lease Act put Americans back to work, unemployment stood at 9.9 percent – higher than it is now. ...

...Take the second claim, that FDR vanquished the fascists – the geopolitical Enemy No. 1 of their time. Well, yes, he did. However, he only succeeded in doing this by striking a deal with Joseph Stalin – a murderous dictator in his own right – and allowing the Soviet Union to absorb atrocious losses on the eastern front. By the war’s end, the United States had suffered approximately 600,000 casualties, overwhelmingly military. The Soviet Union? Over 25 million, more than half of them civilian....

Proposed Government 401k Grab
...In a nutshell, under the GRA ["Guaranteed Retirement Account"] system government would seize private 401(k) accounts, setting up an additional 5% mandatory payroll tax to dole out a “fair” pension to everyone using that confiscated money coupled with the mandated contributions. This would, of course, be a sister government ponzi scheme working in tandem with Social Security, the primary purpose being to give big government politicians additional taxpayer funds to raid to pay for their out-of-control spending...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Europe on track for Kyoto targets while emissions from imported goods rise
The huge extent to which Europe has exported its global warming pollution is evident from two sharply contrasting reports on how much greenhouse gas emissions have fallen or risen since world leaders signed up to huge reduction targets in the Kyoto protocol.

The European Environment Agency reported that by the end of last year emissions produced by the current 27 member countries have fallen by more than 17% since 1990, putting them "well on track" to meet the target to meet the EU's own pledge of a 20% reduction by 2020 . The original 15 EU member states who signed Kyoto have dropped their emissions by 6%, giving them "a headstart to reach and even over-achieve" their target under the treaty of an 8% reduction. Emissions from the current 27 member countries have fallen by more than 17% since 1990, putting them "well on track" to meet the target to meet the EU's own pledge of a 20% reduction by the same date, added the report.

However a report due to be published soon by the Policy Exchange thinktank has measured the emissions generated by goods and services consumed by those countries and found that it has increased by more than 40%....

Challenger to Barney Frank: Show us the docs
Sean Bielat, the Republican challenger to 15-term Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, is demanding Frank provide documents related to a private jet trip Frank took with a billionaire hedge fund head from Portland, Maine to the Virgin Islands for some sun-filled days of R&R.

The documents, Bielat said, would show what amount Frank reimbursed the billionaire hedge fund head for the private jet travel. The issue is important because members of Congress are required to reimburse private groups and individuals for travel at market rates....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stance on Fannie and Freddie dogs Frank
When US Representative Barney Frank spoke in a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill seven years ago, he did not imagine that his words would eventually haunt a reelection bid.

The issue that day in 2003 was whether mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were fiscally strong. Frank declared with his trademark confidence that they were, accusing critics and regulators of exaggerating threats to Fannie’s and Freddie’s financial integrity. And, the Massachusetts Democrat maintained, “even if there were problems, the federal government doesn’t bail them out.’’

Now, it’s clear he was wrong on both points — and that his words have become a political liability as he fights a determined challenger to win a 16th term representing the Fourth Congressional District. Fannie and Freddie collapsed in 2008, forcing the federal government to buy $150 billion worth of stock in the enterprises and $1.36 trillion worth of mortgage-backed securities.

Frank, in his most detailed explanation to date about his actions, said in an interview he missed the warning signs because he was wearing ideological blinders. He said he had worried that Republican lawmakers and the Bush administration were going after Fannie and Freddie for their own ideological reasons and would curtail the lenders’ mission of providing affordable housing.

“I was late in seeing it, no question,’’ Frank said about the lenders’ descent into insolvency.

Republican Sean Bielat, who is trying to unseat Frank, has been hammering away at him with a website titled “Retire Barney’’ that features clips of Frank at the 2003 hearing and elsewhere. During debates this week, he called Frank “one of the leaders of the economic disaster’’ because he supported Fannie and Freddie when they were taking the risks that led to their collapse....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sean Bielat blames Barney Frank for crisis
Barney Frank’s GOP challenger came out swinging in a pair of debates yesterday, faulting the 30-year Democratic congressman for the nation’s great economic collapse.

“He supported housing policies that casued the economy to crumble,” said Sean Bielat, who’s running for the 10th congressional district....

Economic Misconceptions
...Bill Goffe recently (2009) surveyed one of his macro principles classes and found, for example, that the median student believes that 35% of workers earn the minimum wage and a substantial fraction think that a majority of workers earn the minimum wage (Actual rate in 2007: 2.3% of hourly-paid workers and a smaller share of all workers earn the minimum wage, rates are probably somewhat higher today since the min. wage has risen and wages have not).

When asked about profits as a percentage of sales the median student guessed 30% (actual rate, closer to 4%).

When asked about the inflation rate over the last year (survey was in 2009) the median student guessed 11%. Actual rate: much closer to 0%. Note, how important such misconceptions could be to policy.

When asked by how much has income per person in the United States changed since 1950 (after adjusting for inflation) the median student said an increase of 25%. Actual rate an increase of about 248%, thus the median student was off by a factor of 10....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Congressional Staffers Gain From Trading in Stocks
...At least 72 aides on both sides of the aisle traded shares of companies that their bosses help oversee, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of more than 3,000 disclosure forms covering trading activity by Capitol Hill staffers for 2008 and 2009.

The Journal analysis showed that an aide to a Republican member of the Senate Banking Committee bought Bank of America Corp. stock before results of last year's government stress tests eased investor concerns about the health of the banking industry. A top aide to the House Speaker profited by trading shares of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in a brokerage account with her husband two days before the government authorized emergency funding for the companies. Another aide to Republican lawmakers interested in energy issues, among other things, profited by trading in several renewable-energy firms.

The aides identified by the Journal say they didn't profit by making trades based on any information gathered in the halls of Congress. Even if they had done so, it would be legal, because insider-trading laws don't apply to Congress.

A few lawmakers proposed a bill that would prevent members and employees of Congress from trading securities based on nonpublic information they obtain. The legislation has languished since 2006....

Pot calls kettle . . . .
Glenn Reynolds nails this one: the Obama Democrats’ campaign riff against foreign donations to Democrats is bogus—and according to the New York Times, no less. This looks like a matter of projection, since it’s well documented that the 2008 Obama campaign did not put in place address verification software that would have routinely prevented most foreign donations. In effect they were encouraging donations by foreign nationals. Here’s the Washington Post on this back in October 2008:

Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor’s identity, campaign officials confirmed. Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged.”

And here’s our own Washington Examiner editorial from the time:

“Then there’s the question of whether foreign nationals are contributing to the Obama campaign. There is more than enough evidence to warrant a full-scale investigation by the Federal Election Commission, including the $32,332.19 that appears to have come from two brothers living in a Hamas-controlled Palestinian refugee camp in Rafah, GA (that’s Gaza, not Georgia). The brothers’ cash is part of a flood of illegal foreign contributions accepted by the Obama campaign.”...

Barack Obama has proved the greatest fund-raiser of all time by a long shot. His campaign has raised more than $600 million - $150 million in September alone. But the campaign has also failed to adopt standard protections against fraudulent giving.

The average contribution to Obama in September was just under $86. And federal law only requires the disclosure of identifying information for contributions in excess of $200. Campaigns must keep running totals for each donor and report them once they exceed $200.

The Federal Election Commission says the Obama campaign has reported well over $200 million as coming from contributions of $200 or less. Only a small portion of that sum is attributable to donors the Obama campaign has disclosed.

No presidential campaign has ever before received such a gargantuan sum of money from unidentified contributors. ...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pastor arrested on 11 sexual abuse charges
A pastor of a Las Vegas church was arrested Friday on 11 sexual abuse charges, five years after a similar case against him was dropped.

North Las Vegas police arrested Billy Eckstine McCurdy, 57, following an eight-month investigation into allegations that he sexually assaulted teen boys at his home.

McCurdy is the pastor at Revival Temple Church of God in Christ at the intersection of Tonopah and Vegas drives. At the church Friday night, men in all black suits said no church officials were prepared to comment on the arrest....

1970 tape recording of Kent State shootings reveals sound of pistol shots
A tape recording of the 1970 shooting deaths of four Kent State University students by Ohio National Guardsmen reveals the sound of pistol shots 70 seconds earlier, a newspaper reported Friday citing the work of a forensic audio expert.

The finding lends support to a theory that the guardsmen thought they were being shot at during a campus Vietnam War protest. Witnesses said at the time that an FBI informant monitoring the protest fired warning shots because he felt threatened. ...

Did Obama Administration Illegally Review “Opponent’s” Tax Return?
President Barack Obama’s habit of “naming names” of perceived opponents such as FOX News may be ugly, tasteless, and morally questionable, but his right to do so is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, his administration may have crossed the line by examining the tax records of a private corporation that funds conservative candidates and causes.

Recent remarks by a member of the administration concerning Koch Industries, a Kansas-based company, suggest the White House knows more about the corporation’s tax status than federal law permits. ...

NOW endorses Brown within hours of “whore” audio release
... Jerry Brown announced he has received the endorsement of the National Organization for Women, less than 24 hours after the emergence of a recorded message in which Brown can be heard in a conversation with advisors in which someone calls Whitman a “whore.” Coincidence? You be the judge.

Whitman’s campaign pounced after the audio was made public, sending out a release Thursday night from spokeswoman Sarah Pompei calling the use of the term “an insult to both Meg Whitman and to the women of California. This is an appalling and unforgivable smear against Meg Whitman. At the very least Mr. Brown tacitly approved this despicable slur and he himself may have used the term at least once on this recording.”

As if on cue, Brown’s campaign Friday released the endorsement from NOW championing Brown’s record on women’s rights. ”As Governor, Mayor, and Attorney General, Jerry Brown has promoted and defended women’s rights,” said California NOW President Patty Bellasalma...

The scientific world is fracturing
The rift between real science (the pursuit of truth) and PR-science (the pursuit of of money and power) is growing. Associations like The Royal Society, the APS, and the American Chemical Society are beginning to fracture internally as eminent members reject the unscientific pronouncements made on their behalf by small “secret and stacked” committees.

Hal Lewis comes from the elite upper levels of science — a physics professor at University of California (Santa Barbara), and a member of the Defense Science Board (a group of the top 40 or so, advising the Pentagon).

He’s resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) today, after 67 years. The APS is the world’s second largest organization of physicists, with 48,000 members. He is scathing of the fall from grace of the once renowned institution....

... For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

...So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Fed Officials Mull Inflation as a Fix
The Federal Reserve spent the past three decades getting inflation low and keeping it there. But as the U.S. economy struggles and flirts with the prospect of deflation, some central bank officials are publicly broaching a controversial idea: lifting inflation above the Fed's informal target.

The rationale is that getting inflation up even temporarily would push "real" interest rates—nominal rates minus inflation—down, encouraging consumers and businesses to save less and to spend or invest more....

White House Already Granting Exemptions To Obamacare All Over The Place
The Obama administration is already carving out exemptions to Obamacare, in order to allow some employers (like McDonald's) to provide very minimal coverage to employees, far below the law's standards.

According to NYT, the administration has already granted 30 such waivers to various organizations.

The administration is already having to deal with private insurers who say they will scale back their coverage if they can't get flexibility on laws that compel them to cover every sick child....

Another brilliant moment in AGW marketing
...Bolt also objects to a video embedded on his site that exploits a child’s supposed nightmare (while hugging a polar-bear doll, natch), but that one is more stupid than offensive. It argues that we should allow governments to impose Draconian policies because a child has a nightmare, and ends with several children saying “Save the world!” into a camera. It’s a good way to avoid acknowledging that the AGW hysterics still haven’t built a single successful predictive model proving their assertions about future weather systems, still haven’t addressed the serious data gaps in their studies, still have Rajendra Pachauri at the head of the IPCC despite the serial scandals regarding their academic standards of inclusion in the report, and in general having offered little but apocalyptic posturing. Putting a noose around a little girl on an ice cube is all they really have.

Projected Interest Payments on Federal Debt Balloon
This chart by Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy examines likely options for the long-term cost of carrying the debt held by the public if investors begin to demand higher interest rates. This chart compares the Congressional Budget Office Alternative projection of net interest costs, which incorporates likely policy changes while assuming that the interest remains constant at just below 5%, with these same projections at long-term interest rates of 6% and 7%. At an interest rate of 6%, the interest cost of the debt balloons to 59.8% of GDP by 2084, at an interest rate of 7%, this cost more than doubles to 136% by 2084. ...

US History: 13 Myth-Busting Facts That Will Make You Rethink Everything You Know
...Hoover tried many things, but sadly, America might have been better off if he hadn’t. But was the new guy— Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- really all that different? The truth is, most of FDR’s initiatives were simply continuations (or expansions) of Hoover-era policies.

The only real difference was FDR’s willingness to distribute relief aid directly to ordinary Americans, which alleviated suffering but did little to end the downturn. Aside from this, their supposed differences are mostly the product of PR spun by both sides during the 1932 election.

So why did a strategy that failed for Hoover work for FDR? Easy: it didn’t. In fact, the series of social and economic reforms enacted by FDR (collectively known as the New Deal) delayed recovery by allowing big business to form anti-competitive cartels, raising the price of consumer goods, discouraging hiring by decreeing high wages, propping up failing businesses, and crowding out private investment. ...

3M to Change Health-Plan Options for Workers
3M Co. confirmed it would eventually stop offering its health-insurance plan to retirees, citing the federal health overhaul as a factor.

The changes won't start to phase in until 2013. But they show how companies are beginning to respond to the new law, which should make it easier for people in their 50s and early-60s to find affordable policies on their own. While thousands of employers are tapping new funds from the law to keep retiree plans, 3M illustrates that others may not opt to retain such plans over the next few years...

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Final Solution to the Global Warming Skeptic Question
...As several commenters pointed out at Ed’s post, the proposition of the video is Nazism. It’s not “like” Nazism – it is Nazism. This is partly because a tortured idea of environmental-ecological hygiene was a strong element in Nazism. But that’s not the most important reason. The “No Pressure” video’s proposition is Nazism because it implies a moral justification for “problematic” humans being exterminated. It shows the global-warming skeptics dying because they “deserve it” – because they interfere with realization of the urgent collective idea.

This is Nazism. It is the very heart of Nazism. It is why Nazism produced euthanasia of the old and disabled, why it justified ghastly eugenic experiments on “problematic” humans, and why it led to the Holocaust of the Jews....

...The central moral vulnerability of radical environmentalism is that it does exactly what the Nazis did: it advances arguments that would justify a wildly hubristic, fabulist attitude about our fellow humans; and it never mitigates the force of that rhetorical theme with an uncompromising commitment to the moral right of those fellow humans to their lives and liberty.

This latter form of mitigation is not a given in any time or place. It cannot be left to operate on its own, because it doesn’t. The moral right to life and liberty has been defined out of effective existence by every collectivist ideology and most forms of autocracy. ..

Teachers aren’t heroes and pretending they are only muddles the debate over education reform
Teachers are not heroes.

I know, you are not supposed to say that. You are supposed to only speak about the unbelievable job that teachers do under impossible circumstances all the while being paid slave wages. But, for the most part, this is American mythology....

...Do we really want our “best and brightest” to go into teaching? How about having them become CEOs of innovative companies that create jobs and expand our economy? How about they go into the sciences and invent ways for us to live our lives better?

Mark me down as one who doesn’t think we should hope our very “best and brightest” go into teaching remedial math. I prefer them curing cancer. I’m quite content with having a reasonably competent, acceptably intelligent, friendly and committed person teach addition and subtraction to America’s tots, thank you very much....

...What’s more, when Podgursky crunches the numbers, the average salary of public school teachers on a per hour basis isn’t so bad compared to other professions – they actually fare better than accountants and some types of engineers...

Former Edwardsburg pastor pleads guilty to attempted criminal sexual conduct with 14-year-old
A former Edwardsburg church pastor will spend 21 days in the Cass County Jail, serve a six-month probation and register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to having sexual contact with a 14-year-old member of his congregation.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said Friday that John Lohr, 41, of Cass County’s Howard Township, was sentenced after admitting to attempted fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in the fall of 2009 with a minor female who reported it to police....

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Misbehaving Federal Prosecutors
Last week, USA Today published the results of a six-month investigation into misconduct by America’s federal prosecutors. The investigation turned up what Pace University law professor Bennett Gershman called a pattern of “serious, glaring misconduct.” Reporters Brad Heath and Kevin McCoy documented 201 cases in which federal prosecutors were chastised by federal judges for serious ethical breaches, ranging from withholding important exculpatory evidence to lying in court to making incriminating but improper remarks in front of juries.

The list is by no means comprehensive, and doesn’t claim to be....

...When the Bush administration drew criticism for firing seven U.S. attorneys a few years ago, much of the outrage was directed at the administration’s perceived politicization of the Justice Department. But that was really only a symptom of a more fundamentally broken system. The deeper problem is that we have a federal criminal justice system that can be so easily manipulated in the first place. The number of federal laws reaches well into the thousands, and it's growing. Many are so broadly written they allow prosecutors to ring just about anyone they please up on federal charges. This creates a system driven by politics, not justice. It makes criminals out of all of us, making actual enforcement of the law arbitrary and corruptible. Worse, every incentive for a federal prosecutor pushes in the direction of winning convictions, with little if any sanction for crossing ethical and legal boundaries in the process. It's a system that’s not only ripe for abuse, but that actually rewards it.

Of the 201 cases USA Today reviewed in which a judge publicly reprimanded a prosecutor, the paper found just one in which a prosecutor "was barred even temporarily from practicing law for misconduct." The Justice Department refused to tell the paper about which, if any, of the cases resulted in internal discipline taken against the offending prosecutors. Rather appallingly, DOJ cited the need to protect the prosecutors' privacy. Never mind that they’re public servants who have been reprimanded by a federal judge for abusing their power. Not to mention that said power is among the most serious we afford to a government official. Prosecutors have the power to take away a citizens’ freedom. Even in cases that don’t result in a conviction, a federal indictment or even investigation can bankrupt the target of the investigation. The idea that prosecutors who abuse that power should be escape public scrutiny out of concern for their privacy is not only preposterous, it's another symptom of a system with misplaced priorities.

USA Today’s finding of little to no sanction for misbehaving prosecutors is consistent with other studies. According to an Innocence Project study of 75 DNA exonerations, prosecutorial misconduct factored into just under half of those wrongful convictions. In none of those cases did the offending prosecutor face any serious sanction....

Exposing DEA agent costs KCK police detective his job
Max Seifert shot men who tried to kill him and helped solve one of the area’s most horrific animal abuse cases.

But a federal judge says the case that cost the Kansas City, Kan., detective the most was his honest investigation of a road rage attack by a federal agent.

Seifert exposed the truth about a man who was beaten and charged with a crime after he wouldn’t let an unmarked car pass him on the right.

For crossing “the thin blue line,” U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson wrote, Seifert was forced into retirement....

...Seifert’s troubles began seven years ago after Drug Enforcement Administration agent Timothy McCue tried to pass Bowling on the right in a wide lane. Bowling sped up and the cars collided.

Bowling drove forward before he pulled over so he wouldn’t block traffic, the judge wrote. That’s when McCue, gun out, rushed him. Bowling was beaten unconscious by McCue and then taken to jail.

The case ended with the recent order for the U.S. government to pay Bowling for McCue’s actions, but a previous ruling outlined allegations against the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., settled its part of the case last year for $425,000 but admitted no liability on conspiracy, malicious prosecution or abuse of process.

Before that settlement, the judge issued the pretrial ruling that described how Seifert was pressured to play along with a cover-up that started soon after the crash. Officers at the crash scene failed to report or photograph Bowling’s injuries or report what witnesses said, the judge wrote. ...

Exchequer vs. Economist
...Socialist or otherwise, all states finally rest on force: You decline to participate in whatever is the Netherlands’ version of serving the community through the instrument of the state long enough, they send a guy to your house with a gun to seize your stuff or haul you off to jail; resist and there will be violence. That’s what states do, and it is not necessarily illegitimate.

The resort to violence is what makes the question of what kind of things it is legitimate for states to do an important moral concern. It seems to me perfectly reasonable to shove a gun in somebody’s face to stop him murdering, raping, or robbing. It seems to me entirely unreasonable to shove a gun in somebody’s face to extort from him money to fund a project to get monkeys high on cocaine. ...

...But I would like to make it clear that I am not indulging in a figure of speech: I think it’s a pretty useful heuristic: If you’re not willing to have somebody hauled off at gunpoint over the project, then it’s probably not a legitimate concern of the state...

Obama Justice Department Rocked
The former head of the Justice Department’s New Black Panther trial team, Chris Coates, testified Friday before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. See here and here and here (subscription required). Before Coates broke his silence, the commission’s critics, a minority of the commissioners, and the mainstream media insisted that the dismissal of a slam-dunk voter-intimidation case had no significance beyond the single incident on Election Day 2008. However, Coates’s account of the administration’s hostility to race-neutral enforcement of voting laws and refusal to enforce Section 8 of the Voting Rights Act (requiring that states clean up their voting rolls to prevent voter fraud) blew that assertion to smithereens....

...Try as Democrats might to ignore the blockbuster evidence, Coates’s testimony was a game changer. Granted, the testimony contained information already revealed in conservative outlets and by former DOJ attorney J. Christian Adams. But Coates confirmed these facts and added a wealth of new details. An African American attorney and his mother (who also works for DOJ) were harassed for working on a voting case brought against an African American defendant. Obama’s deputy assistant general for civil rights, Julie Fernandez, repeatedly told attorneys not to enforce Section 8 or bring cases against minority defendants. Coates’s supervisor, who directly ordered the case’s dismissal, told him to stop asking applicants if they could enforce laws in a race-neutral fashion. Coates briefed civil rights chief Thomas Perez on the hostility toward race-neutral enforcement of voting laws — before Perez feigned ignorance of such sentiments in sworn testimony. In sum, Coates’s appearance was the scandal’s tipping point.

Conservative outlets have reported on the case for over a year; mainstream reporters have averted their eyes. After Coates’s performance, the Washington Post’s page-one story proclaimed that the case is “ratcheting up.” Politico had pooh-poohed the story; it now acknowledges that conservatives had it correct all along. (“Coates’ highly-charged testimony before the Civil Rights Commission echoed [conservatives’] allegations, as well as the testimony of J. Christian Adams.”) The testimony was so stunning that the New York Times might have to cover it...

FBI investigates prominent labor leader Andy Stern
The FBI and the U.S. Labor Department are investigating prominent labor leader Andy Stern in their probe of corruption at the Service Employees International Union, according to two people who have been interviewed by federal agents.

The two organized labor officials met with federal agents this summer to answer questions about a six-figure book contract that Stern landed in 2006 and his role in approving money to pay the salary of an SEIU leader in California who allegedly performed no work.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation. The FBI and the Labor Department's office of inspector general declined to comment for the record.

The disclosure about the federal inquiry of Stern - who abruptly resigned as president of the 2.2-million member SEIU in April - comes just weeks ahead of contentious congressional elections in which the union is spending an estimated $44 million to support its favored Democratic candidates.

The SEIU has been plagued with several financial scandals since 2008, when the Los Angeles Times reported that Tyrone Freeman, head of the union's largest California local, misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars from the union....