The rule of law in America today

Does it exist? Is the United States a Nation of Laws? It is clear that some rules do exist. But do they conform to the spirit and letter of the rule of law doctrine?

Glenn Greenwald thinks not. He recently identified four rules of American justice:

(1) If you are a high-ranking government official who commits war crimes, you will receive full-scale immunity, both civil and criminal, and will have the American President demand that all citizens Look Forward, Not Backward.

(2) If you are a low-ranking member of the military, you will receive relatively trivial punishments in order to protect higher-ranking officials and cast the appearance of accountability.

(3) If you are a victim of American war crimes, you are a non-person with no legal rights or even any entitlement to see the inside of a courtroom.

(4) If you talk publicly about any of these war crimes, you have committed the Gravest Crime — you are guilty of espionage — and will have the full weight of the American criminal justice system come crashing down upon you.

It is thus clear that some Americans are not subject to the rule of law. The rule of law makes sense only when everyone is subject to the same laws. The United States is not a country governed by laws.


Update

David Dayen of FireDogLake walks over some of the same ground as Greenwald:

The Administration has reserved some of its most punitive uses of their prosecutorial discretion for government leakers and whistleblowers. Government information gets leaked all the time, of course, often by official sources doing so on behalf of the Administration for political reasons. But no Administration has prosecuted as many government officials for leaking as this one; in fact, the six criminal cases are more than all other Presidents combined. It has unquestionably had a chilling effect on other whistleblowers. The case against former NSA official Thomas Drake, which thankfully collapsed last year, is the most celebrated of these cases. But the inadequacy of that case has not stopped the Justice Department from continuing to wage war on leakers.

Quote of the day

David Vest took stock of the national Republican Party and its anti-Obama politics:

When the GOP retook the House and promptly made it clear that the supreme goal was to prevent Obama’s re-election, they showed themselves to be united by opposition, as never before. Nothing mattered except turning the president out of office. Nothing seemed more inevitable than Obama’s defeat.

And now look at them: a party dominated by evangelical Protestants, yet forced to choose from a pool of candidates that has so far included two Mormons, a couple of Catholic has-beens, a manifest dimwit from Texas, a wild-eyed nutjob from Minnesota, a singing pizza salesman and Ron Paul.

If there existed a sinister Republican plot to make Obama look like Charlemagne by comparison, how would it be different?

Vest on Newt:

If the media uncovered proof that Newt had stolen food stamps from his blind grandmother, shot three orphans in the back, and paid for a former gay lover’s sex change operation with taxpayer funds, would they dare to report it and suffer the fate of CNN’s John King? If so, Gingrich would promptly gather one hundred evangelicals together and explain that so great was his love of country, that his hard-working patriotism led him into houghmagandy with whoever was handy, in ways that were not always in accordance with his blah blah blah, and besides the elite media loves to use this kind of trash to tarnish America and protect Barack Obama. (Insert standing ovation here.)

Rodney Howard-Browne blesses Newt’s campaign

The logo of Revival Ministries International; ...

Sarah Posner reported that:

Today Newt Gingrich made an appearance at River Church in Tampa, Florida, pastored by Rodney Howard Browne. Slate’s Dave Weigel tweeted that in introducing Gingrich, Browne prayed that America “will not allow the killing of unborn babies, and the takeover of Islam” and “the Constitution that we have, and your word, and Jesus is the only way we can be delivered from this plight.”

Howard-Browne is a charismatic revivalist who preaches the Prosperity Gospel. His sect is called Revival Ministries International.

Gingrich, on the other hand, belongs to a well-known church to which many Republican politicians belong, the Opportunistic Pettifoging Mudslingers. I’m sure Howard-Browne and Gingrich have found common ground on which to stand.

Newt accused of playing the “Race Card”

For more, see this Think Progress article.


Update

Laura Flanders addressed Gingrich’s performance in South Carolina:

South Carolina. It’s going to be the state that keeps on giving to President Barack Obama. I’m not talking votes; I’m talking hate. Newt Gingrich’s primary win has the pundits praising his “debating skills,” but the less prudish among us can be clear: Gingrich’s skills aren’t rhetorical; they’re racial. He’s feeble at striking down his opponents’ arguments; what he’s great at is digging up his audience’s racial rage. It worked for the former Speaker in South Carolina; it’ll work against the Democrats all year.

Quote of the day

The “Report Abstract” for the “Growth in the Residential Segregation of Families by Income, 1970-2009” study tells that:

As overall income inequality grew in the last four decades, high- and low-income families have become increasingly less likely to live near one another. Mixed income neighborhoods have grown rarer, while affluent and poor neighborhoods have grown much more common. In fact, the share of the population in large and moderate-sized metropolitan areas who live in the poorest and most affluent neighborhoods has more than doubled since 1970, while the share of families living in middle-income neighborhoods dropped from 65 percent to 44 percent. The residential isolation of the both poor and affluent families has grown over the last four decades, though affluent families have been generally more residentially isolated than poor families during this period. Income segregation among African Americans and Hispanics grew more rapidly than among non-Hispanic whites, especially since 2000. These trends are consequential because people are affected by the character of the local areas in which they live. The increasing concentration of income and wealth (and therefore of resources such as schools, parks, and public services) in a small number of neighborhoods results in greater disadvantages for the remaining neighborhoods where low- and middle-income families live.

From austerity to rebellion?

Robert Skidelsky, a Keynesian political economist, thus addressed the scourge of deficit mania:

This, the official doctrine of most developed countries today, contains at least five major fallacies, which pass largely unnoticed, because the narrative is so plausible.

First, governments, unlike private individuals, do not have to “repay” their debts. A government of a country with its own central bank and its own currency can simply continue to borrow by printing the money which is lent to it. This is not true of countries in the eurozone. But their governments do not have to repay their debts, either. If their (foreign) creditors put too much pressure on them, they simply default. Default is bad. But life after default goes on much as before.

Second, deliberately cutting the deficit is not the best way for a government to balance its books. Deficit reduction in a depressed economy is the road not to recovery, but to contraction, because it means cutting the national income on which the government’s revenues depend. This will make it harder, not easier, for it to cut the deficit. The British government already must borrow £112 billion ($172 billion) more than it had planned when it announced its deficit-reduction plan in June 2010.

Third, the national debt is not a net burden on future generations. Even if it gives rise to future tax liabilities (and some of it will), these will be transfers from taxpayers to bond holders. This may have disagreeable distributional consequences. But trying to reduce it now will be a net burden on future generations: income will be lowered immediately, profits will fall, pension funds will be diminished, investment projects will be canceled or postponed, and houses, hospitals, and schools will not be built. Future generations will be worse off, having been deprived of assets that they might otherwise have had.

Fourth, there is no connection between the size of national debt and the price that a government must pay to finance it. The interest rates that Japan, the United States, the UK, and Germany pay on their national debt are equally low, despite vast differences in their debt levels and fiscal policies.

Finally, low borrowing costs for governments do not automatically reduce the cost of capital for the private sector. After all, corporate borrowers do not borrow at the “risk-free” yield of, say, US Treasury bonds, and evidence shows that monetary expansion can push down the interest rate on government debt, but have hardly any effect on new bank lending to firms or households. In fact, the causality is the reverse: the reason why government interest rates in the UK and elsewhere are so low is that interest rates for private-sector loans are so high.

As with “the specter of Communism” that haunted Europe in Karl Marx’s famous manifesto, so today “[a]ll the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise” the specter of national debt. But statesmen who aim to liquidate the debt should recall another famous specter — the specter of revolution.

Newt wins South Carolina primary

Gingrich’s comfortable victory over his rivals ought to slow the Romney train for a week or two.English: Newt Gingrich at a political conferen...

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