Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Some good news on Paul Minor and others

Posted by Charles II on December 15, 2009

Scott Horton writes:

Federal prosecutors who brought a controversial corruption prosecution against trial lawyer Paul Minor and two Mississippi judges, Wes Teel and John Whitfield, suffered a one-two punch in federal courts this week. The result is that Minor, Teel, and Whitfield are now all likely to be freed.

An opinion handed down in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans struck down convictions for bribery, finding that the charges, even if true, did not actually constitute a crime….The charges took the novel view that campaign contributions and campaign finance assistance can be viewed as bribes paid to judges. But this rationale was applied to only one side of the political ledger.

This is how despicable the Republican-controlled justice system became. Democrats were judged to have accepted bribes simply for accepting campaign contributions, even though they could not be said to have done anything in return. Republicans were never similarly charged, as of course they should not be.

The Southern courts are heavily stacked with Republicans, so the Appeals Court that is rectifying this case, as well as the Supreme Court which is likely to throw out other charges as unconstitutional, are Republican. Nor are the hands of the Obama Justice Department clean, though whether that is due to Monica Goodling hires or to Eric Holder is unclear.

But the wrongful charges were brought by Republicans, tried by Republicans and wrongfully judged by Republicans. Paul Minor spent time in jail. His wife died while he was there, and he was prevented from being with her, even briefly, near the end by Republicans. There is a deep evil in what was done to him.

By Republicans.

11 Responses to “Some good news on Paul Minor and others”

  1. Thanks for continuing to watch this, Charles!

  2. Stormcrow said

    If you think that’s evil, just wait until you see what happens after the Repubs retake the White House in 2012.

    Which they will do. Obama has made that certain, by selling out his own base.

    I’ll be mildly surprised if we have another Presidential election, after 2012.

    If I were 20 years younger, I’d be writing this from Canada. Just hoping it was far enough away when things finally went completely south in the US, and doubting it.

    As it is, I’m stuck here.

    • Charles II said

      And good cheer to you, this Yuletide, Stormcrow!

      Seriously, as grim as the situation may look, just remember that the right-wing is completely incompetent. They will not last long before they bankrupt the US and the whole cycle of war and profligacy will grind to a halt. Cold comfort to us, but great news for the rest of the world.

      • Stormcrow said

        Remember how France responded to its own bankruptcy, 215 years ago?

        One word, and I’ll bet its already flashed through your mind.

        Yep. Napoleon.

        Followed by 20 years of war, on a scale the planet had never seen before.

  3. Charles II said

    Stormcrow says, “Followed by 20 years of war, on a scale the planet had never seen before.”

    In those days, war was self-financing for the victor. Nowadays, war just impoverishes everyone, including through global warming. So, what you fear could happen, but I think that the homeostatic mechanisms are a little more tightly drawn than they used to be.

  4. Stormcrow said

    Actually, war was not self-financing, in general. This is just wrong.

    Spanish conquests in the New World could carry their own weight, but their (failed) attempt to suppress the Netherlands’ bid for independence was one of the enterprises that bled money all over the place for 80 years.

    Jeeze, Charles, you ought to know better than this. We’ve talked about the “Price Revolution” here, IIRC. That set up the Spanish Empire for collapse.

    I just got finished reading a history of the fourth-fifth century crisis that finally collapsed the Western Roman Empire. The non self-financing nature of warfare was a key driver of the crisis. If the Romans hadn’t flat run out of money for new regiments, we might be having this conversation in Latin instead of English.

    Warfare required external financing as early as the late 15’th century. “External”, as in, you had to raise money from a trans-national banking establishment if you wanted to keep armies in the field for longer than about three months. And peace was often dictated more by bankruptcy than by the result of the clash of arms.

    References upon request. But if you have to good fortune to have a copy of William McNeil’s The Pursuit of Power, or Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers available, you shouldn’t need them.

  5. Stormcrow said

    My reference to Napoleon was an allusion to the fact that his wars amounted to an attempt to externalize the consequences of the financial crisis that brought down the House of Valois.

    That was a crisis that the previous 150 years of French empire building (combined with a really dreadful taxation system) had generated.

    Modern empires are wretched things at best. The sort of solid external forces that drove the formation of the Roman Empire simply did not apply to the extended overseas colonial empires of the 17th – 20th centuries.

    In the wake of the revolutionary change in military affairs wrought by modern infantry weapons, networked communications, and distributed models of military organization, it’s gotten to a point where anybody with a working brain is going to ask “Just why the hell are we doing this???”

    But an empire in being is going to exert powerful homeostatic forces upon the world around it even when it’s obviously dying.

    That’s where Napoleon comes into the picture.

    And this could happen again.

    • Charles II said

      I don’t think you actually disagree with what I said. For example, “Spanish conquests in the New World could carry their own weight,” directly confirms my statement while “their (failed) attempt to suppress the Netherlands’ bid for independence was one of the enterprises that bled money all over the place for 80 years” falls in the category of not being the victor and therefore having to spend money. For “a history of the fourth-fifth century crisis that finally collapsed the Western Roman Empire,” the question would be whether the barbarians found the conquest to be profitable, not Rome. True, banking does defer payment, but if you’re not winning, the bankers get nervous and stop lending.

      In the larger picture, war impoverishes everyone. But it enriches certain people at the expense of others. Thus in World War I and II, we sold arms to everyone until we got involved, once involved, we let everyone else take the brunt of the battle, and we grew rich.

      Empire is a different story. Our system of economic empire was the most successful, since it didn’t kill the host as quickly as the European system. But it still weakens the colonies and corrupts the colonizer. The Chinese model is probably the most successful. Emigrate to the colonies, retaining a distinct identity, gradually building up the numbers to dominate the politics.

  6. Stormcrow said

    Actually, I think I do disagree.

    Empires tend to be money-losers for the polity as a whole. The reasons they get built are either ..

    * Defensive considerations.
    * Rome, Russia, China

    * The interests of some small but influential subset of the population.
    * America
    * Britain post 1500
    * Netherlands
    * European overseas colonies taken as a set), or

    * A combination of these two
    * Rome if you’re thinking of Carthage during the middle Republic rather than the later Empire).

    The problem, in the second half of this millenium, is that the benefit/cost ratio has been dropping like a meteor. The only reason the Brits managed to maintain an empire of the size they had, prior to 1940, was the fact that they had access to industrial technology and the half of the world they were holding down didn’t.

    When that monopoly was broken, the handwriting was on the wall.

    But NONE of these was a wealth generating machine in any real way. Even Spain undermined itself by the totality of its plunder: Price Revolution. A.k.a., the 16’th century gold inflation, which set Spain upon the slippery slope to imperial eclipse.

    The Roman Empire existed in a sort of dynamic equilibrium between what its provinces could produce behind the shield wall of the frontier, and the cost of maintaining that wall.

    I also have to quarrel with your Chinese “model”. That Chinese “model” you’re referring to wasn’t really a Empire model at all. It was the simple personal response of millions of individual Chinese people to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty.

    Hell, as I’ve said earlier in this thread, if I were in my late 30s instead of late 50s, I’d be packing myself. I don’t know what history has in store for us, but I do know it isn’t going to be pretty. I don’t want to be on ground zero when it arrives. The Chinese parallels from its 19’th century near-collapse? The Taiping Rebellion and the Third Pandemic, to name only two.

    If the collision with industrializing Europe had happened 200 years earlier, things would have played out very differently indeed. The European powers would have hit the Qing and the Qing would have hit right back. Hard and directly. I read about the founders of that dynasty a few years back. Not the sort of people it pays to screw around with. No.

    The model of Empire the Chinese have used for the last couple of thousand years is a straightforward Territorial model that any Roman emperor of the Antonine period or later, or any Russian Tsar, would have recognized instantly. The American (and Soviet) Hegemonic model is its antithesis.

    However, China’s territorial empire benefited from interior lines in a way the Roman Empire, built around the Med as it was, could not.

    • Charles II said

      Whether Chinese emigration has been a deliberate policy or not, it’s worked out rather nicely for the central government. They have influence almost everywhere in the world, even in the US.

      There’s an interesting book about the Qing by Gavin Menzies, BTW. It seems like Chinese emigration may have been part of the Qing plan.

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