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The complete history of Barack Obama's second term -- click Views/Repies for top stories
 
 
 


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Beckwith

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Reply with quote  #51 

No longer just

Jack Butler says in the 1966 film "A Man For All Seasons," which depicts Sir Thomas More's steadfast disapproval of King Henry VIII's marital infidelities, More stirringly defends the rule of law. Rebutting his son-in-law, who says he would hypothetically "cut down every law in England" to find the devil, More asks, "And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?"

More argues that abandoning equal enforcement of the law imperils all citizens. Unfortunately for today's United States, this is exactly what John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky say the Department of Justice is doing under Attorney General Eric Holder. To this enterprise, Fund brings tireless reporting, and Spakovsky brings his own experience in the Justice Department (as counsel to the assistant attorney for civil rights) and contacts therein.

Together, they have assembled a brief yet persuasive argument that, as one former career lawyer put it, "Holder is the worst person to hold the position of attorney general since the disgraced John Mitchell, who went to jail as a result of the Watergate scandal." The authors guide us through Holder's unique judicial malpractice: his Department's long Supreme Court losing streak; his convenient memory lapses, lack of knowledge, and outright lies about what he knew and when he knew it; and his becoming the first-ever attorney general to be held in contempt by the House of Representatives.

But the authors do not limit themselves merely to what Holder has done or failed to do. We also see rampant abuse in particular divisions of the Justice Department: the strategic non-enforcement on behalf of environmentalists known as "sue and settle" practiced by the Environment and Natural Resources Division; discrimination in the Civil Rights Division, especially concerning voting; and the Pigford Scam, which entitled anyone who had ever given a thought to farming to a government payout.

Focusing on both Holder and the DoJ helpfully reminds us of scandals, some fresh and some old, and their oft-forgotten victims. Some stories, especially former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tony Perez's unconscionable, trans-divisional dropping of one DoJ lawsuit against St. Paul, Minnesota, so that it would not pursue a case against the DoJ that could have killed his precious, dubious theory of "disparate impact," deserve far more attention than they have yet received.

On many occasions, moreover, the Justice Department has abused its status as "the largest law enforcement agency in the world with investigators and agents, lawyers, and prison officials all combined in one government department" to transform life into a living hell for objects of its ire.

These targets have ranged in size from Gibson Guitar, raided SWAT-style and then prosecuted by the Justice Department on the ultimately dubious charge of using illegal wood, to the Sacketts, an Idaho family that the EPA decided lived on government "wetlands," with the family incurring daily fines for not moving (fortunately, the Supreme Court saved them).

In one moving passage, the authors detail how department employees viciously insulted Spakovsky himself, accusing a child of parents who bitterly opposed and fled the Nazi and Soviet regimes of fascist sympathies.

It all adds up to an agency in dire need of reform. But the authors' call to action is somewhat lacking. They suggest mostly administrative tweaks, and approvingly quote former attorney general Edwin Meese's counsel that nothing can compare to "making sure good people are elected who will appoint good people to offices within the executive branch."

This is all well and good, but by their conclusion the authors seem almost to have forgotten that they've indicted not just Attorney General Eric Holder, who will leave with President Obama in January 2017, but also the entire Department of Justice, including career employees who will outlast almost any administration.

If Holder alone were responsible for Justice's problems, righting the agency would be far easier than if its general character had become leftist and lawless. In More's terms, it is not a case of cutting down the laws to pursue the devil. Instead, if the DoJ now suspends and refashions laws for its own ends, then what we have is the devil himself cutting down laws that stand in his way.


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Beckwith

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Operation Choke Point hearing reveals DoJ threats and strong-arming

Jonah Bennett is reporting that a Justice Department fraud prevention program came under fire Thursday for allegedly morphing into actively pressuring banks to deny financial services to businesses for political reasons.

Operation Choke Point functions as a partnership between the Department of Justice (DoJ) and various other federal agencies which deal with bank regulations, specifically the Treasury and the SEC. The objective of the project is to choke-off fraudulent businesses from accessing financial services, in an effort to protect consumers.

The controversy, however, is over allegations that the DoJ is pressuring financial institutions to decline doing business with so-called "high risk" industries which line up squarely against the political leanings of the current administration. These businesses include ammunition sales, payday loans, pornography, fireworks companies, and others—24 industries in total, as listed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

"Operation Choke Point is one of the most dangerous programs I have experienced in my 45 years of service as a bank regulator, bank attorney and consultant, and bank board member. Operating without legal authority and guided by a political agenda, unelected officials at the DoJ are discouraging banks from providing basic banking services…to lawful businesses simply because they don't like them," said William M. Isaac, former chairman of the FDIC.

Thursday's House Judiciary Committee hearing focused on the legality of DoJ overreach. Letters have poured in from company owners in support of these suspicions, noting startling cases where the DoJ reportedly has directly strong-armed banks into dropping clients not engaging in fraud.

Virginia Republican Rep. Robert Goodlatte revealed that one of the more egregious examples sent in to the committee was a meeting between the DoJ and a bank regarding the continued provision of financial services to a payday loan company.

The DoJ official reportedly told the banker, "I don't like this product, and I don't believe it should have a place in our financial system. And if you don't agree, there will be an immediate, unplanned audit of your entire bank."

The Justice Department has now served over 50 subpoenas on banks, and Alabama Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus expressed considerable concern that dragging banks into a long and expensive process is just an underhanded way of encouraging banks to drop clients as an easy-out.

"Subpoenas are expensive to comply with and can bring unwanted scrutiny. The natural reaction from a financial institution might be to sever relations with the merchant and be done with it," Bachus said Thursday in a hearing at the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.

Missouri Republican Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer brought forward the End Operation Choke Point Act Tuesday to curb the DoJ's activities in this area. The act would provide financial institutions with safe harbor to serve customers engaged in legal activities, so as to cut out politically motivated attacks on businesses deemed undesirable by the Justice Department.

There is no justice from the Obama-Holder Justice Department.


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Beckwith

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To impeach Holder

Joel Gehrke is reporting that Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and a group of House lawmakers are building a case for impeaching Attorney General Eric Holder.

"Impeding justice is intolerable and he should not be permitted to refuse the American people a true investigation into the actions of those who used the machinery of government to target, intimate, and silence them for politically driven reasons," Cruz said during a June 26 floor speech.

Cruz had made such comments before, but this speech was different. He spent 40 minutes laying out the case for Holder's impeachment -- spending the bulk of that time on the IRS scandal, but also citing the Justice Department's failure to enforce various laws, the department's Operation Fast and Furious, and Holder's role in the administration obtaining journalists' phone records.

Cruz demanded that Holder appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS scandal. "If [Holder] refuses, Senator Cruz will support measures to move forward with his impeachment," a Cruz aide told NRO.

Representative Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.) raised the idea during a Republican conference meeting Wednesday.

"[Boehner] gave us no hint one way or the other," he said, though the speaker publicly opposed the impeachment of Obama on the same day.

Gosar said that he had also spoken with House majority leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) and whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) about moving to impeach Holder.

"They have not said that they oppose it," Gosar said.

A House leadership aide says that the impeach-Holder caucus has "been picking up a lot recently." Representative Pete Olson (R., Texas) introduced articles of impeachment against Holder in November. As of last week, he had 27 co-sponsors.

It's not clear how that process would work, according to the leadership aide. "We've already held him in contempt," the aide said. "I've seen a lot of Impeach Holder hashtags, I have not seen a lot of detailed [plans]."

Gosar says the process should begin with the House taking a vote of no confidence in Holder, before the August recess (141 lawmakers have co-sponsored his no-confidence resolution).

If, as is nearly certain, Obama were to ignore such a no-confidence vote and refuse to remove Holder during the August recess, then impeachment proceedings would begin in September, according to Gosar's plan.

"This is exactly what Pelosi did with Alberto Gonzales," Gosar said. Gonzales, who served as attorney general under George W. Bush, resigned his post in 2007 after Senate Democrats attempted to pass a no-confidence resolution condemning his tenure. "The president should restore credibility to the office of the attorney general," then–House speaker Nancy Pelosi said at the time. "Alberto Gonzales must resign."

Gonzales did resign, and Gosar hopes to achieve a similar outcome one way or another. "We're at a constitutional crisis," he said. "This is about getting somebody who enforces the constitutional rule of law, making sure that the president's getting good legal advice, and it happens today."

Representative Steve King (R., Iowa), who issued a statement echoing Cruz's call for an impeachment if Holder doesn't appoint a special prosecutor for the IRS, says that it will require "a long hard slog of building the case." House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) will have to sign off on the impeachment, he says.

"That is not going to happen until there are enough Republicans and some Democrats who would be supportive of this if it comes to a vote on the floor," King said. "And at that point, possibly, John Boehner would, reluctantly, let's say, give a green light to such an action in the House of Representatives."

To build that kind of support, King said they would need the help of outside groups rallying the base. Gosar said that he has been organizing phone call campaigns to the speaker's office, so that Boehner would hear from Republican voters who support the measure.

That's a process that recalls the effort by Cruz and Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) to defund ObamaCare, which began this time last year.

"If Eric Holder continues to refuse to appoint a special prosecutor, I believe the House of Representatives should impeach the attorney general," Cruz reiterated in a conversation outside his office Wednesday afternoon. The senator wouldn't say how close he is to giving up on Holder and proceeding with the impeachment plan, which would of course depend on action in the House.

Is Cruz in contact with House members about it? "I am in regular communication with members of both bodies on an ongoing basis," Cruz said, "about a host of issues."


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Beckwith

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Obama's "enforcer" is threatening the "separation of powers"

Greg Corombos says Eric Holder evolved from a widely respected prosecutor into an increasingly partisan operative, who eventually felt free to trump justice with politics when his ideological soulmate tapped him as attorney general.

That's the thesis of "Obama's Enforcer[image]," a new book by former Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky, who is now with the Heritage Foundation. His co-author is longtime investigative reporter and columnist John Fund.

Attorney general is a political appointment, and those nominated for the job usually share some if not many ideological similarities with the president who chooses them. However, von Spakovsky said there is a stark difference between past attorneys general and what we've seen from Eric Holder.

"Holder has put politics at the forefront, ahead of justice," said von Spakovsky. "You can look at prior attorneys general and you will find that they, very carefully, treaded the line between working for the president and trying to put his priorities in place but on the other hand, realizing they are the attorney general. The interests of justice and nonpartisan enforcement of the law takes a higher priority. Past attorneys general of both parties have done it very well."

He added, "That is not the way Holder has run the Justice Department. He obviously considers himself part of the president's political team first, attorney general a distant second. You can see that in the way that he's conducted himself and the way they have politicized the prosecution process."

According to von Spakovsky, Holder approached the law much differently earlier in his career. A generation ago, officials in both parties applauded him as a tough-minded prosecutor and judge. Slowly, his actions began to reflect his deepening political philosophy.

"He went from being a very nonpartisan, professional lawyer to having politics and ideology driving him," he said. "A (40-year Justice Department) lawyer we talked to thinks some of that may have been influenced by the woman he married (Sharon Malone) because of the very bitter attitude she has toward the experiences of black Americans."

The book alleges Holder's increasing partisanship was already on display while he was deputy attorney general in the later years of the Clinton administration.

"He did things there like recommend pardons for 16 terrorists in American jails. Why? They were Puerto Rican terrorists and the thought at the time was this might help Hillary Clinton with her Senate run in New York, so he sacrificed national security for political advantage," said von Spakovsky.

Last decade, Holder shed his Clinton loyalties in favor of Barack Obama, following Obama's meteoric rise during and after his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign. By 2008, Holder was not only solidly on board for Obama early in the race against Sen. Clinton, but he was a chief fundraiser and surrogate for his candidate as well. The reason, according to von Spakovsky, was an instantaneous ideological symmetry. He said that can be seen today, as both men have little regard for enforcing laws with which they disagree.

"This attorney general believes he can refuse to defend any law that he doesn't like, and that's the way he has approached his office. That is extremely dangerous. It violates separation of powers. It can tear apart the kind of constitutional structure we have," said von Spakovsky, citing Holder's refusal to enforce immigration law, mandatory drug sentences and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Worse yet, say the authors, is that Holder is encouraging like-minded state attorneys general to follow his lead and not enforce statutes that run contrary to their political beliefs, particularly in the state-by-state debates over the definition of marriage.

Another development von Spakovsky and Fund find very troubling is the politicizing of the Office of Legal Counsel, or OLC, which they claim is critical to maintaining judicial impartiality in the U.S.

"The Office of Legal Counsel is a very special office within the Justice Department," said von Spakovsky. "Its job has always been to provide legal opinions to the president, and particularly on the constitutionality of proposed legislation and actions the president wants to take. It has the highest, most sterling reputation of any office or division within the Justice Department. They've always been known as an office that will provide an objective opinion. They don't care who's in the White House or what opinion the White House would actually like to have."

He said that's all changed under Holder's time in office.

"For the first time in it's history, Eric Holder has changed that. He has installed someone who will give him the legal opinions he wants despite them not being correct," said von Spakovsky.

The clearest example of this, according to the authors, is Barack Obama's attempt to make recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, even though the U.S. Senate was not technically in recess.

"We spoke to veterans of that office who said that opinion was an embarrassment," said von Sakovsky. "It was very clear they had written the conclusion they wanted and then tried to make up the law to fit it. Some of the arguments they made were described as laughable by a former OLC lawyer who had worked for several different administrations."

In addition to refusing to enforce laws contrary to his beliefs, Holder is also accused by Fund and von Spakovsky of harassing citizens and businesses with crippling fines and court costs for the smallest and most questionable violation of federal law and regulations. They also say Holder and his allies in the Justice Department have made a habit of getting sued by their own friends to change laws without congressional approval.

"The administration and the Justice Department have been engaging in what we call collusive settlements. These are what we call ‘sue and settle' cases, where the department will go and solicit one of their allies, a political advocacy organization and say, ‘Why don't you guys sue us, claiming that we haven't, for example, issued a particular type of environmental regulation that we all want but don't have the legal authority to issue. As soon as you file the lawsuit, we will not fight it. We'll immediately surrender and agree to settle. The settlement agreement, which we can get rubber-stamped by a federal judge, will let us do whatever we want,'" said von Spakovsky.

"Those kinds of cases have skyrocketed under the Holder Justice Department and under this administration. That's a pretty clear indication of the kind of abuse that the department is engaging in."

Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Hans von Spakovsky here (cursor down) . . .


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Beckwith

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Issa: Operation Choke Point is illegal and must be dismantled

ObamaHolder.jpg

Michael Patrick Leahy is reporting that the Justice Department's "Operation Choke Point" is so flagrantly illegal it cannot continue in any form under the law, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa's staff said in a new report, setting up a constitutional confrontation between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.

"In light of the Department's obligation to act within the bounds of the law, and its avowed commitment not to 'discourage or inhibit' the lawful conduct of honest merchants, it is necessary to disavow and dismantle Operation Choke Point," the report said.

The controversial Obama administration initiative known as Operation Choke Point was launched in 2013.

DOJ has said the program is targeted at fraud, but the oversight committee report provided evidence the program was "was created by the Justice Department to 'choke out' companies the Administration considers a 'high risk' or otherwise objectionable, despite the fact that they are legal businesses."

In one internal document uncovered by the committee, Obama administration officials described banks cutting off an entire class of businesses -- Internet payday lenders -- as a "significant accomplishment" of the investigation. The document also acknowledged "the possibility that banks therefore may have decided to stop doing business with legitimate lenders" but said "solving that problem -- if it exists -- should be left up to the legitimate lenders themselves" who can make additional efforts to prove to banks they are not engaged in fraud.

"Such an expectation -- 'if they are legitimate, they can prove it' -- is patently absurd, and reminiscent of the formulation that "if one is not a witch, then they will sink rather than float," the report said.

The report said "Operation Choke Point has forced banks to terminate relationships with a wide variety of entirely lawful and legitimate merchants," and that the Department of Justice "is aware of these impacts, and has dismissed them."

The report was issued more than four months after Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, requested the Department of Justice turn over all documents related to the secretive Obama administration initiative.

The initial deadline for compliance with the request, January 23, 2014, passed with no indication that the Department of Justice had complied.

Sources tell Breitbart News that the long delay between Chairman Issa's request for documents from the Department of Justice and the release of the staff report was caused by a reluctance on the Department's part to fully comply with the request. It is still unclear if all the documents requested have been turned over to the committee.

The report found that Attorney General Eric Holder knew about Operation Choke Point prior to its launch, knew that it was designed to target legal, law abiding citizens, and fully supported its implementation. It also suggests that subsequent to the discovery of the program by the press in late 2013, there may have been an effort by the Department of Justice to cover up key aspects of its operation.

Executives in the payday loan industry have said their industry was targeted by the initiative. Lisa McGreevy of the Online Lenders Alliance, said the staff report confirmed what the industry has been saying for some time. According to McGreevy, the Department of Justice has been "engaged in a coordinated effort to eliminate the online lending industry and choke off consumer access to the short-term credit millions of Americans need."

Though spokespersons for the Department of Justice publicly denied targeting a specific industry, the report found that "[c]ontrary to the Department [of Justice]'s public statements, Operation Choke Point was primarily focused on the payday lending industry."

Many business executives have publicly expressed concern that the list of targeted industries has steadily expanded beyond the payday loan industry. The staff report confirmed those concerns, nothing that manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of firearms and ammunition, and coin dealers are now also being targeted by the Department of Justice.

The program's lack of statutory authority was also addressed.

"Operation Choke Point," the report said, "is being executed through subpoenas issued under Section 951 of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989."

Noting that "[t]he intent of Section 951 was to give the Department the tools to pursue civil penalties against entities that commit fraud against banks, not private companies doing legal business," the report concluded that "[d]ocuments produced to the Committee demonstrate the Department has radically and unjustifiably expanded its Section 951 authority."

This approach, the report said "fundamentally distorts Congress' intent in enacting the law, and inappropriately demands that bankers act as the moral arbiters and policemen of the commercial world."

On Thursday, Justice Department spokesperson Emily Pierce commented on one aspect of the staff report, stating that the Department "only investigate[s] banks and third-party payment processors that violate federal law, and these documents suggest nothing to the contrary."

The Department of Justice has not responded to a Breitbart News request for comment on the staff report's conclusion that the Department should "disavow and dismantle Operation Choke Point."



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Beckwith

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DoJ's pernicious "Operation Choke Point"

Tom Blumer is reporting that the head of the American Bankers Association criticized the Justice Department on Friday for coercive tactics aimed at getting banks to stop doing business with legal businesses that it has put on a list of "risky profiles," such as payday lenders.

"Justice's new probe, known as 'Operation Choke Point,' is asking banks to identify customers who may be breaking the law or simply doing something government officials don't like," ABA President Frank Keating wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. "Banks must then 'choke off' those customers' access to financial services, shutting down their accounts."

So it's not just the IRS employing choke holds.

Holder's Justice Department is targeting 30 "high-risk" industries, as labeled by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in 2011, in a report titled “Managing Risks in Third-Party Payment Processor Relationships.”

The FDIC’s list of 30 high-risk merchant categories that are currently being pursued by Holder's DoJ.

 Ammunition Sales
 Cable Box De-scramblers
 Coin Dealers
 Credit Card Schemes
 Credit Repair Services
 Dating Services
 Debt Consolidation Services
 Drug Paraphernalia
 Escort Services
 Firearms Sales
 Fireworks Sales
 Get Rich Products
 Government Grants
 Home-Based Charities
 Life-Time Guarantees
 Life-Time Memberships
 Lottery Sales
 Mailing Lists/Personal Info
 Money Transfer Networks
 On-line Gambling
 PayDay Loans
 Pharmaceutical Sales
 Ponzi Schemes
 Pornography
 Pyramid-Type Sales
 Racist Materials
 Surveillance Equipment
 Telemarketing
 Tobacco Sales
 Travel Clubs

DoJ is essentially employing a variant of the tactics former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer used against mutual fund companies last decade: threatening to smear them in the business community and otherwise make their lives miserable unless they settle.

Even despite these tactics, some readers may be reacting to all of this as a good idea. After all, payday lenders don't have the cleanest of hands, and some -- but far from all -- may be operating illegally. There are two problems with this position.

The first is that the DoJ doesn't have the constitutional authority to go after businesses whose illegality has not been established by threatening their bank and financial services providers with legal sanctions and regulatory harassment if they don't participate in the persecution.

There are these things called laws which must be passed to declare certain financial practices and contracts illegal. That hasn't happened. Short of that, there at least need to be court rulings having the same effect. There is apparently no evidence that DOJ has involved the courts at all.

The second is that although the bankers' montage concentrated on payday lenders, many more business endeavors besides payday lending are involved. At least some of them, as odious as nanny-state officials and other might believe they are, operate legally.

According to a January post at the web site Cryptocoins News, the net DoJ is casting is very wide.


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lawyer12

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You know what is amazing, the NAACP just gave their 2nd lifetime achievement award to Los Angeles Clippers (NBA basketball) team owner Donald Sterling, a known racist who shows his disdain for blacks and other minorities.  Donald Sterling is a DEMOCRAT.  Now, should any of us be surprise with Holder, Obama and the other Democrats that they are rascist, sexist, etc... and these so called organizations designed to destroy racism, feed their nonsense?

I am not.  Being a christian and conservative is the way to go.

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The Obama-Holder clemency program -- subverting the law while promoting crime

Paul Mirengoff says the Obama administration's plan to enable certain prisoners convicted of drug-related felonies to obtain clemency is, as I argued here, a usurpation of congressional power and is designed to help the Democrats in a trying election year. Andy McCarthy amplifies this objection.

But what about the merits of the new clemency program which applies to prisoners who: (1) have no history of violence, (2) have no ties to criminal organizations or gangs, (3) have a clean prison record, (4) have already served 10 years or more of his sentence and (5) would likely have received a substantially shorter offense if convicted of the same offense today?

One can sympathize with criminals who meet all of these criteria. But only leftists and some libertarians view criminal sentencing issues primarily from the criminal's perspective. Society's interests must also be given strong consideration. As Bill Otis says, individuals and communities victimized by the drug trade should be the focus of our concern, not the criminals who do the victimizing.

It is here, I think, that the substantive case for clemency breaks down. According to the Justice Department's own study cited by Bill Otis, 77 percent of drug offenders will return to crime after their release. Thus, to release them prematurely from legally imposed sentences is virtually to guarantee more crime more quickly.

Do the clemency program's criteria reduce the odds of recidivism? Perhaps. But a criminal with no history of violence, no known ties to gangs, and a record of okay conduct in prison still presents a risk of committing drug offenses (which are non-violent and not necessarily gang related) upon release. Absent empirical evidence that the risk is insubstantial, society's interest is in requiring these felons to serve out their terms.

Society's interest must, of course, be balanced by considerations of fairness. But Congress performed that balancing when it set the sentences in question and later declined to make new, lighter sentences retroactive.

In the end, therefore, we can say this about the Obama-Holder clemency program: it subverts the law by imposing by decree a measure Congress refused to pass under the Constitution's legislative process; it will promote crime; and it does these things in order to obtain political advantage for Democrats.

To most of us, this is a travesty. To Barack Obama and Eric Holder, it's a good day's work.


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Eric Holder cancels police academy speech after protesters demand new officers arrest him

April 24, 2014 By

In an shameful act of cowardice, the Attorney General, the top law enforcer in the nation’s Justice Department, has cancelled a speech he intended to give at a police academy graduation in Oklahoma City after protest organizers called for the new law enforcement officers to place the Attorney General in handcuffs for his wanton disregard for law and order in the U.S.
 
Holder was expected to address 42 new police officers in Oklahoma City on Thursday. Protesters have demanded that the Attorney General be arrested and while Holder will still be in Oklahoma City, he will not be giving a speech at the police academy graduation.
 
Hundreds of citizens were to be joined by law enforcement officials and other irate patriots who still labor under the idea that the Attorney General ought to be held accountable by the law.
 
Republican U.S. Rep. James Lankford, who is running for the U.S. Senate, highlighted Holder’s visit as inappropriate given Holder’s “tactics of obfuscation and redirection of blame.” 
“Given his numerous questionable decisions, his unwillingness to cooperate with congressional investigations and his Justice Department’s opacity under this President, he would not be my first choice to stand as this Administration’s example of justice, leadership and integrity,” Lankford said.
 
“Holder’s action before Congress and his unwillingness to cooperate with our investigations of Operation Fast & Furious, the IRS targeting scandal and numerous other Justice Department boondoggles led the U. S. House to finally hold him in Contempt of Congress,” Lankford said. “For an executive agency with ‘justice’ in their title, they seem remarkably reticent to seek it when it involves their boss.” 
Holder is an absolute disgrace. The man who has been tasked with ensuring that the laws of the land are being enforced has noticeably picked which laws will or will not be enforced on his watch.
 
Wilfully refusing to defend traditional marriage, codified in law by the Defense of Marriage Act, Holder sat on his hands as DOMA was scrapped. Since then, he’s advised state governments to not enforce laws on the books related to marriage and immigration issues.
 
Holder has also worked to block voter ID laws while claiming that voter fraud is not a problem.
 
This is from the same man who made it one of his first item of business after being appointed Attorney General to drop the case against Black Panthers who intimidated white voters with clubs outside voting stations in Philadelphia in 2008.
 
And, of course, the Attorney General has become infamous for his refusal to hold himself or his department accountable for the gun-running scheme, Fast and Furious, that left Border Patrol Agents Brian Terry dead and firearms in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
 
This shouldn’t be a partisan issue; the simple fact is that we should not, we cannot have a disgraced “law enforcer” lecture new officers on the value of law and order when he, himself, remains in contempt of Congress.
 
Originally posted by Pylgram in another thread.

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Congressman wants to halt Holder's pay

Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold wants Congress to halt Attorney General Eric Holder's paycheck as long as he remains in contempt of Congress. He told Greta Van Susteren Thursday night that it could help hold people like Holder to account, explaining, "If you're in contempt of Congress, we don't pay you."

Van Susteren wondered whether that could potentially backfire in the future, like if there's a "rogue Congress" in the future that decides to go after a government official for purely partisan reasons. Farenthold insisted contempt of Congress is not something done on a whim, and said, "We've got to come up with some enforcement mechanism, and this is what I think we have the constitutional authority to go."

He emphasized this is not specifically about Holder, but "pulling power back to Congress" in the face of Holder using the "Obama administration playbook of stonewall and delay."


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Federal judge says Eric Holder was "disrespectful," and set "a dangerous precedent"

Richard Berkow is reporting that  Washington, D.C., federal judge rebuked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday for overstepping his authority and disrespecting the judicial process.

"I regret that, before we voted on the amendment, Attorney General Holder instructed assistant United States attorneys across the nation not to object to defense requests to apply the proposed amendment in sentencing proceedings going forward," Judge William Pryor Jr. said at a public hearing, according to the National Review. "That unprecedented instruction disrespected our statutory role ‘as an independent commission in the judicial branch,’ to establish sentencing policies and practices under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984."

Eric Holder pointing at GohmertA day earlier, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, accused Holder of ignoring subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary Committee.

Obama’s procrastinator-in-chief had been expected to appear before the Sentencing Commission to defend his breach of protocol, but he never showed up. Since the sentencing guidelines themselves were never at issue, the commission unanimously passed the amendment to reduce non-violent drug dealers’ prison terms by 17 percent. But Holder’s attempts to sidestep the constitutional process remain a sticking point for Pryor and other critics.

"The law provides the executive no authority to establish national sentencing policies based on speculation about how we and Congress might vote on a proposed amendment," Pryor said, according to The Blaze. "We do not discharge our statutory duty until we vote on a proposed amendment, and Congress, by law, has until Nov. 1 to decide whether our proposed amendment should become effective."

When fellow Commissioner Jonathan Wroblewski tried to defend Holder by calling his behavior lawful and respectful, Chief Judge Rosario Hinojosa rebuffed him, accusing Holder of setting "a dangerous precedent."

"For those committed to the rule of law, the question…it’s whether the Attorney General, the chief law enforcement officer in the United States, is committed to following the law as it exists, or instead, as he wants and speculates it might become," Georgetown law professor William G. Otis said in a statement, National Review reported.

Rest assured, Holder's role as an administration lightning rod will not soften any time soon.


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Eric Holder plays the race card -- again

Holder is having a bad week.

Judge William Pryor of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit slammed Attorney General Eric Holder for doing an end run around federal law and things got heated Tuesday at the House Judiciary Committee Justice Department oversight hearing between Rep. Louie Gohmert and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Then Holder appeared at Sharpton's house that racial shakedowns built, the National Action Network and said:

You look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee. It had nothing to do with me. Forget that.  What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? [crowd applauds] What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?

Cry me a river.

Obama and Holder hold their current positions BECAUSE of their race -- a fact that is accepted by almost everybody -- but whenever either one of them is the target of criticism, they hide behind cries of racism.

Obama and Holders continued use of the race card is an insult to the real victims of racial victimization.


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Judge slams Eric Holder for reducing drug crime sentencing without Congress

Ken Klukowski is reporting that Federal judges usually only speak through the written opinions and orders of their courts, confined to a case currently before them. And it’s exceedingly rare for a federal appeals judge to take someone on a national politician by name. Yet Judge William Pryor of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit did just that, slamming Attorney General Eric Holder for doing an end run around federal law.

Congress created the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 1984, comprised of federal judges and top lawyers. The commission makes recommendations to Congress on what kind of sentences should be handed down when someone is convicted for various types of federal crimes. Congress then decides whether to accept, reject, or modify those suggestions, and then they become part of the law that federal prosecutors enforce in court.

One top federal judge is accusing the nation’s top prosecutor of violating that process, as Pryor rebuked Holder for his recent conduct. The commission was debating a proposed amendment regarding drug conviction sentences, whether to send it to Congress. If the commission took that step, Congress would have until November 1 to decide what -- if anything -- to do about it.

Yet as Pryor -- who is also a former state attorney general -- said in a public statement today:

But I regret that, before we voted on the amendment, the Attorney General instructed Assistant United States Attorneys across the Nation not to object to defense requests to apply the proposed amendment [to modify pending sentences]. That unprecedented instruction disrespected our statutory role… and the role of Congress, as the legislative branch, to decide whether to revise, modify, or disapprove our proposed amendment… The law provides the Executive no authority to establish national sentencing policies based on speculation about how we and Congress might vote on a proposed amendment… I hope that we can avoid, in the future, the kind of improper instruction that he sent federal prosecutors…

In other words, Holder instructed every federal prosecutor nationwide to act as if the change had taken place, resulting in lighter sentences for drug crimes. Experts have harshly criticized Holder on drug prosecutions, where his lenient views are well known, and where he has already ordered his prosecutors not to prosecute certain drug offenses in the name of "conserving scarce resources."

The Constitution requires that the president "take care that the laws be faithfully executed," and his attorney general -- in particular -- is tasked with carefully enforcing those laws in court. That constitutional command seems to be irreconcilably opposed to Holder’s actions. While every prosecutor exercises "prosecutorial discretion" to decide which cases are most important, it never means that a prosecutor can change the law or pretend it doesn’t exist.


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Holder claims "vast amount" of discretion in enforcing federal laws
   
Benjamin Goad is reporting that Attorney General Eric Holder maintained Tuesday that he has a "vast amount" of discretion in how the Justice Department prosecutes federal law.

Holder's remarks, during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, came in response to GOP accusations that he is flouting the law with his department's positions on marijuana legalization, criminal sentencing and a contentious provision of Obama's signature healthcare law.

Leading the questioning was House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who asked Holder whether he believed there were any limits to the administration's prosecutorial discretion.

"There is a vast amount of discretion that a president has -- and, more specifically, that an attorney general has," Holder responded. "But that discretion has to be used in an appropriate way so that your acting consistent with the aims of the statute but at the same time making sure that you are acting in a way that is consistent with our values, consistent with the Constitution and protecting the American people."

Holder said the Justice Department must defend federal laws on the books unless it concludes that "there is no basis to defend the statute."

He cited, for example, the administration's decision no longer to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibited same-sex couples from receiving certain federal benefits. That position, Holder noted, was upheld by the Supreme Court, which later struck down main provisions of the statute.

Republicans on the panel argued, however, that the Obama administration has gone to unprecedented lengths in its liberal use of discretion on several fronts.

"All of this demonstrates a pattern on the part of the Obama administration to ignore or rewrite the very legislation that places limits on the executive branch authority, for purely political purposes," Goodlatte said.

Historically, the boundaries of prosecutorial discretion are murky, making it difficult for the administration's critics to say Holder or Obama has crossed them, UCLA law professor Adam Winkler said.

But, more than its predecessors, the Obama administration has used prosecutorial discretion on some of the day's most divisive issues, inviting criticism from his opponents on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Winkler said.

He cited the DOMA stance and the administration's decision to halt deportations of many illegal immigrants, among other cases.

"This administration has gotten into hot water because it has used prosecutorial discretion in high profile, controversial areas," Winker said.

On Tuesday, Republicans also grilled Holder on the Obama administration's decision not to interfere with marijuana legalization efforts in Colorado and elsewhere, as long as states establish adequate regulations.

Goodlatte criticized the decision, saying it is tantamount to ignoring the law.

"The Justice Department's decision not to enforce the Controlled Substances Act in states whose laws violate federal law is not a valid exercise of prosecutorial discretion, but a formal department-wide policy of selective non-enforcement of an Act of Congress," Goodlatte said.

Holder countered that the DOJ was merely focusing on the most dangerous aspects of marijuana crime, such as trafficking or sales to minors.

"We don't prosecute every violation of federal law," he said. "We don't have the capacity to do that and so what we try to do is make determinations about how we use our limited resources."

Under Holder's "Smart on Crime" initiative, the DOJ has altered the charging policies with regard to mandatory minimum sentences for certain nonviolent, low-level drug crimes.

Democrats on the panel lauded the move.

"In a country where nearly half of all federal inmates are serving time for drug offenses, the harshest [punishment] should be reserved for violent offenders," said Rep. John Conyers (Mich.), the committee's top Democrat.

But Goodlatte said judicial decisions meant to avoid triggering "mandatory minimum" sentences would put Holder at odds with the law.

"The attorney general's directive, along with contradicting an act of Congress, puts his own front-line prosecutors in the unenviable position of either defying their boss or violating their oath of candor to the court," he said.

Holder also faced questions from Republicans on the legality of the administration's decision to delay the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

In a terse back and forth with Holder, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) argued that because an implementation date had been written specifically into the legislation, the executive branch had no authority to delay it.

"When Congress puts effective dates in laws, do we need to further state that the effective date cannot be waived or modified by the executive branch, or is the president required to follow the law, and also follow the dates set by Congress?" Chabot asked.

Holder responded that "the president has the duty, obviously, to follow the law," but that "it would depend on the statute" and statutory interpretation of the law.

Holder also sought to deflect criticism over remarks he made during a speech to state attorneys general, which Chabot interpreted as suggesting they need not defend state laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

"What I said was decisions not to defend statutes should not be based on politics or policy…" Holder said.

"You guys would never do that," Chabot interrupted, with more than a hint of sarcasm.

Tensions also flared when Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) renewed a request for documents related to the Fast and Furious arms-trafficking operation.

"I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our Attorney General but it is important that we have proper oversight," the Texas Republican said, referring to the House's 2012 vote to hold Holder in contempt for withholding information about the botched operation.

Angered, the usually reserved Holder wagged a finger at Gohmert.

"You don't want to go there, buddy, all right?," he said.

"I don't want to go there?" responded Gohmert. "About the contempt?"

"No. You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me," Holder replied. "I think it was inappropriate, I think it was unjust, but never think that that was just a big deal to me. Don't ever think that."


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Eric Holder defends using Justice Department airplane for 27 personal trips

Joel Gehrke is reporting that Attorney General Eric Holder disputed a Government Accountability Office report on his use of Justice Department airplanes for personal trips, saying it overstated the number of trips he took and failed to recognize that some trips were job-related.

"My staff keeps telling me to take it easy, you know, well, this is one that gets me," Holder told Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing. "There was this notion that we've taken -- I think it was described as hundreds of personal trips. That was wrong. GAO counted flights, not round trips. And we looked at it and figured out from the time period that they were looking, we took not hundreds, but 27 personal, four combined -- official and nonpersonal trips -- and none of the trips that I took or that the [FBI] director took ever had an impact on the mission capability of those airplanes."

Holder made the comment when asked if he would report those trips to the General Services Administration in the future.

"We didn't have a reporting requirement that existed before," he said. "If they want to change those rules, we'd be more than glad to make sure that we share that information with the appropriate organization, but this is something that is really wide open."

Holder noted that he has responded to multiple Freedom of Information Act requests and provided the information to GAO, as well as to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

"Just so that people understand that we're making appropriate use of DoJ aircraft," Holder told Wolf. "A lot of this stuff was described as mission and nonmission, and the way in which that was defined was not necessarily correct, because a nonmission trip -- for instance, the trip that I took to Newtown to visit the school after the shooting -- was described as a nonmission trip."

Holder's misuse of taxpayer-funded, government aircraft for his personal use is the least of his high crimes and misdemeanors.


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Justice Department won't charge Ohio woman who voted six times for Obama

J. Christian Adams is reporting that last week Al Sharpton embraced convicted vote fraudster Melowese Richardson at a “voting rights” rally in Cincinnati.  The United States Department of Justice under Eric Holder has done nothing to Melowese Richardson 410 days after she admitted on camera that she committed multiple federal felonies by voting six times for Barack Obama’s reelection.

Federal law makes it a felony to vote more than once for president.  In fact, 42 U.S.C. Section 1973i(e) subjects Richardson to twenty-five years in federal prison for her six votes for Obama.

The lack of DoJ action against an unrepentant federal vote fraudster combined with Richardson’s lionization by Sharpton and the organization that sponsored the rally demonstrates how the Justice Department is facilitating a culture of brazen criminality on the eve of the 2014 midterm elections.  The failure to indict Richardson is the latest example of Holder’s department excusing lawlessness in federal elections and abandoning law abiding Americans.

Melowese Richardson was charged with state voter fraud crimes in Ohio.  She was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison on July 7, 2013. Unfortunately, instead of serving five years, Richardson was set free after only eight months.

A state court judge dismissed her May 2013 conviction and five-year prison sentence and allowed her to plead no contest to four counts of illegal voting, the same charges for which she was convicted.

Richardson was represented by the George Soros-funded Ohio Justice and Policy Center, which claimed she suffered from bi-polar disorder.  No claim was made that she was insane when she committed her election crimes.  Nor was any effort made to establish her insanity.

Her mental state was healthy enough to appear at a rally this week with Al Sharpton where she received warm applause and a hearty embrace by Sharpton.

Federal criminal charges, even after a state court conviction, do not implicate double jeopardy. The Justice Department routinely charges criminals who were previously subject to state charges.  The Justice Department’s US Attorney’s Manual spells out the three tests for a federal prosecution of Richardson, standards which are easily satisfied.

First, the matter must involve a substantial federal interest; second, the prior prosecution must have left that interest demonstrably unvindicated; and third, applying the same test that is applicable to all federal prosecutions, the government must believe that the defendant's conduct constitutes a federal offense, and that the admissible evidence probably will be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction by an unbiased trier of fact.

Federal charges against Richardson easily satisfy DOJ guidelines.  There is a unique federal interest in ensuring voter fraud does not taint the election of the President and Congress.  Second, the federal interest in having valid elections for President and Congress remains unvindicated; Richardson walks free and is now being cheered at rallies. Last, Richardson admitted on camera that she committed multiple federal felonies and her handwriting matched the ballot applications that were sent to her house.  Game, set, match.

DOJ doesn’t hesitate to bring federal charges against local police officers.  For example, when a policeman receives a light sentence in state court after allegedly employing excessive force against a citizen, the DOJ Civil Rights Division is keen to initiate federal prosecution to exact its own federal pound of flesh against that officer.  But the failure to prosecute Richardson demonstrates that criminal behavior which aids the reelection of President Obama receives very different treatment.

Federal charges against Richardson for voting for Obama six times can be initiated by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Springer, who serves as the District Election Officer (DEO) in Cincinnati.  U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart could also initiate charges, as could the Public Integrity Section in Washington D.C., or even Eric Holder himself.

DEO Anthony Springer donated $750 to Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign according to FEC records.

Ohio Votes sponsored the rally where Richardson appeared with Sharpton.  According to their website, it is a “year-round, statewide, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) voter mobilization initiative. It galvanizes nonprofits based in low income Ohio communities to increase voter participation and join efforts for fair elections.” The umbrella organization received $1,886,723 in government grants in 2012.  The organization’s tax returns state the group exists to change “onerous voting laws” and that it focuses on “educating voters on the mechanics of how, when and where to participate in early voting for the Presidential election.” 

The IRS continues to provide the group 501(c)(3) tax exempt status despite its active role in the reelection of the President, and its embrace of election criminals.

After the outrage dies down, Melowese will probably get the "Freedom Medal" from Team Obama.


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Eric Holder and other DoJ officials exploit loophole to travel at taxpayer expense

Richard Berkow is reporting that a newly-released Government Accountability Office report reveals that Attorney General Eric Holder, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, and other top Department of Justice officials continue to take personal trips on the public dime, despite repeated cautions.

The latest flight and personal-expenses tab runs to $7.8 million, the Washington Post reports.

Although Holder is required as Attorney General to use-non-commercial flights, he also is supposed to reimburse the government for his personal trips. But a bizarre Government Services Administration exemption, which allows exemptions to intelligence agencies to not document unclassified personal travel, has proven a golden loophole. Yet this exemption blatantly contradicts guidelines set in place during the Clinton administration by the Office of Budget and Management, according to the Post.

The non-partisan Congressional GAO takes the GSA to task. "GSA regulations that allows intelligence agencies not to report unclassified data on senior federal official travel for non-mission purposes is not consistent with executive branch requirements, and GSA has not provided a basis for deviating from these requirements," the report reads. Subsequently, GSA has promised to rectify the non-mission exemption.

In August, Judicial Watch obtained records of Holder charging the taxpayer for his business and personal expenses, jetting across the country to make political speeches and living in the lap of luxury, to the tune of more than $4 million.

No response has yet been issued by the Justice department or the FBI, but "the most transparent administration in history" continues to prove as clear as mud.


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Eric Holder to state attorneys general -- you don't have to enforce laws you disagree with

Katie Pavlich is reporting that Attorney General Eric Holder is taking the lawless attitude of the Obama administration and passing it down to state attorneys general. Yesterday during an interview with The New York Times, Holder said state attorneys general do not have to enforce laws they disagree with, specifically when it comes to the issue of gay marriage.

It is highly unusual for the United States attorney general to advise his state counterparts on how and when to refuse to defend state laws. But Mr. Holder said when laws touch on core constitutional issues like equal protection, an attorney general should apply the highest level of scrutiny before reaching a decision on whether to defend it. He said the decision should never be political or based on policy objections.

"Engaging in that process and making that determination is something that's appropriate for an attorney general to do," Mr. Holder said.

In 2011, the Obama administration announced attorneys in the Department of Justice would not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, which was later struck down in 2013 by the Supreme Court.

The "rule of man" has replaced the "rule of law" in the Obama regime.


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Hundreds of career prosecutors revolt against Eric Holder

Paul Mirengoff is reporting that hundreds of career Justice Department lawyers have broken into open revolt against Attorney General Holder over his support of legislation that would drastically cut back on mandatory minimum sentences for drug pushers. The legislation Holder supports, known as the Durbin-Lee bill, would overturn the current mandatory minimum sentences not only for marijuana violations but for all drug offenses, including major and repeat trafficking in heroin, meth, PCP and other extremely dangerous, and often lethal, drugs.

This was too much for hundreds of federal prosecutors. Today, Chuck Grassley, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, read aloud from a letter the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys sent Holder three days ago. The portion Sen. Grassley read states:

We believe the merits of mandatory minimums are abundantly clear. They reach to only the most serious of crimes. They target the most serious criminals. They provide us leverage to secure cooperation from defendants. They help to establish uniform and consistency in sentencing. And foremost, they protect law-abiding citizens and help to hold crime in check.

As Bill Otis says, career prosecutors are not an activist political lot. For this many of them to have spoken up here, and done so publicly, is a testament to how damaging they know the Durbin-Lee bill would be.

Otis also contends that if this sort of revolt had happened during the Bush Administration, it would be page one news. He's right. Indeed, when even one career prosecutor takes issue with a Republican administration, the mainstream media typically portrays him as a paragon of professionalism resisting the evil forces of partisan politics.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, coverage this massive revolt against Holder receives.

It should receive plenty, not only because of its unprecedented nature, but also on the merits. As the prosecutors' letter explains, the increased use of incarceration, of which mandatory minimum sentencing has been an important part, has been a key to the tremendous gains the country has made over the last generation in suppressing crime, which is now lower than we have seen for 50 years. Bill Otis supports this contention.

Mandatory minimum sentencing has the related but added virtue of reining in the sometimes ideological, sometimes naïve, and sometimes careless decisions of sentencing judges. Criminal sentences should not rest on the extent to which a defendant draws a bleeding heart judge or a gullible one.

Durbin-Lee, and Holder's support thereof, is another front in the war on standards. I feel indebted to the courageous career prosecutors who have called the Attorney General on it.

John Hinderaker adds: There must be many, many lawyers and other employees of the Department of Justice who are appalled at how Eric Holder and Barack Obama have politicized the Department. This revolt may be only the tip of the iceberg.


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DoJ Demanding ability to veto parents' choice of school

Alec Torres is reporting that on Tuesday, the Department of Justice filed a proposal to oversee Louisiana’s school-choice program. The proposal, if accepted, would give the DoJ the ability to veto scholarships given to children, which allow them to attend a school of their choice.

In November, the DoJ dropped its injunction against Louisiana’s school voucher program after failing to produce documents to prove that the program impeded the federally mandated desegregation process. However, in lieu of the injunction, the DoJ instead filed a proposal to oversee the program, requesting that the federal government have 45 days to review detailed information about all scholarship applicants -- including their race and the race-makeup of the voucher schools they wish to attend -- before the applicants are awarded their school vouchers. During that period, the federal government could veto any scholarship if they determined that it would unacceptably change the racial balance of the school the student was leaving or going to.

Most students who receive school vouchers in Louisiana are low- and middle-income minority students who, without the voucher, would be relegated to failing public schools.

Louisiana’s governor, Bobby Jindal, responded to the DoJ proposal in a statement:

President Obama’s Department of Justice is continuing its attempt to red-tape and regulate the Louisiana Scholarship Program to death.  The Department’s request for a 45-day review period for every scholarship award shows the Justice Department believes bureaucrats in Washington know better than Louisiana parents. 

I am also shocked to learn that the Justice Department is now asking for the state to provide an analysis of the racial composition of our state’s private schools.  The federal government’s new request is a frightening overreach of the federal government and shows it knows no bounds.

President Obama’s Department of Justice has admitted it cannot prove that Louisiana school choice is violating desegregation efforts, yet it continues to seek the ability to tell a parent their child cannot escape a failing school because their child is not the ‘right’ race.

The Department of Justice proposal reeks of federal government intrusion and proves the people in Washington running our federal government are more interested in skin color than they are in education.

The State of Louisiana issued a counter-filing, offering to share relevant information but contending that it would not “cede its sovereign authority over the Scholarship program or the public schools.”

The list of the information the DoJ wishes the state to provide about each school-voucher applicant is here (cursor down) . . .


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Obama: yes to terrorism abetter, no to little sisters of the poor

Paul Mirengoff says after five years of an increasingly radical presidency, it comes to this: Team Obama has  released Lynne Stewart, convicted of abetting a notorious terrorist, but is  litigating in order to coerce a group of nuns who embody compassion. Isn’t this what Communists used to do when they came to power -- release the "political prisoners" and harass the deeply religious?

Obama’s supporters say he’s not out to get the Little Sisters of the Poor. To escape federal punishment that threatens to end to their charitable work they need only sign a piece of paper. But that’s also how it worked in Communist states. There too, the persecuted could sometimes get the government off of their back by signing away their principles.

Obama’s supporters also say that the administration released the terrorism-abetting Lynne Stewart not out of solidarity with her, out of "compassion." But why compassion for someone who, without remorse, helped a bloodthirsty terrorist advance his murderous mission -- the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center -- and not for The Little Sisters of the Poor? Leftist ideology has driven the administration’s moral compass seriously out of whack.

I’m not saying that Barack Obama and Eric Holder have taken American into Communist totalitarian territory. But they do seem to be nudging us down that terrible road.


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Eric Holder and IRS officials coached tax-exempt black ministers on how to engage in political activity

Patrick Howley is reporting that Attorney General Eric Holder and IRS officials advised black ministers on how to engage in political activity during the 2012 election without violating their tax-exempt status.

Holder, then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, and Peter Lorenzetti, a senior official in the scandal-plagued agency's exempt organizations division, participated in a May 2012 training session for black ministers from the Conference of National Black Churches at the U.S. Capitol hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Holder spoke at the event.

"We're going to, first of all, equip them with the information they need to know about what they can say and what they cannot say in the church that would violate their 501(c)(3) status with the IRS," said then-CBC chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri. "In fact, we're going to have the IRS administrator there. We're going to have Attorney General Eric Holder there…the ACLU."

Cleaver's session advised black ministers on "draconian laws" including voter ID laws. Cleaver was a sharp critic during the 2012 campaign of Republican Mitt Romney's policies.

As The Daily Caller has extensively reported, the IRS harassed conservative and tea party groups during the 2012 election cycle with improper reviews of their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt applications.

"[The CBC] had the IRS members there specifically to advise them on how far to go campaigning without violating their tax-exempt status," George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told The Daily Caller.

"I viewed the meeting as highly problematic. Eric Holder heads the agency that prosecutes organizations who give false information to the government. The Justice Department coordinates with the IRS on actions taken against not-for-profits. These ministries are given not-for-profit status on the basis that they are not engaging in any political activities. Here, the Obama administration was clearly encouraging them to maximize their efforts by showing them where the lines were drawn in federal case law," Turley said.

"It is a fundamental precept that cabinet members should not engage in political activities. The most important of those cabinet members would be the Attorney General of the United States. To have the attorney general actively advising political allies of the president showed remarkably poor judgment on his part," Turley told TheDC.

"I believe this session undermined the integrity of the justice department, signaled to other Justice Department officials that the attorney general wants to support these black ministries as much as possible," Turley said.

Obama won 93 percent of the black vote in 2012, according to exit polling.

"This event was open to all faiths, denominations, colors, creeds, and political affiliations," Rep. Cleaver told TheDC in a statement. "We were pleased to have leaders from our government provide information on compliance with the law and participation in our electoral system."

The IRS and DOJ did not return requests for comment.


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Standard & Poor calls federal lawsuit "retaliation"

Jonathan Stempel is reporting that Standard & Poor's said on Tuesday the U.S. government filed a $5 billion fraud lawsuit against it in "retaliation" for its 2011 decision to strip the country of its "AAA" credit rating.

The McGraw Hill Financial Inc (MHFI.N) unit was the only major credit rating agency to take away the United States' top rating, and the only one sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly misleading banks and credit unions about the credibility of its ratings prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

In a filing with the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California, S&P said the lawsuit filed on February 4 attempts to punish it for exercising its First Amendment free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution, but also seeks "excessive fines" in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

It said the government's "impermissibly selective, punitive and meritless" lawsuit was brought "in retaliation for defendants' exercise of their free speech rights with respect to the creditworthiness of the United States of America."

S&P seeks to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought again. The August 2011 downgrade of the U.S. credit rating to "AA-plus" from "AAA" reflected concern about Washington's ability to address the nation's swelling debt.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

On February 5, Associate Attorney General Tony West, who then held that role in an acting capacity, said there was "no connection" between the downgrade and the filing of the lawsuit. The government said its investigation began in November 2009.

In its lawsuit, the government accused S&P of inflating ratings to win more fees from issuers, and failing to downgrade collateralized debt obligations despite knowing they were backed by deteriorating residential mortgage-backed securities.

In Tuesday's filing, S&P estimated that more than $4.6 billion of the alleged losses may have resulted from CDOs that were structured, marketed or sold by Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) or Citigroup Inc (C.N). It also said more than $1 billion came from debt that was never issued in the first place.

S&P also said the government lacked authority to sue under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, because no federally insured financial institutions were affected by violations.

The government has in recent months made more use of FIRREA, which was passed after the 1980s savings and loan crisis, in part because of its lower burden of proof and longer statute of limitations than other laws.

S&P has said its own statements about the independence and objectivity of its ratings were "puffery" that could not be taken at face value.

On July 16, U.S. District Judge David Carter called that proposition "deeply and unavoidably troubling," in a decision denying S&P's bid to dismiss the government's case.

S&P is separately trying to dismiss similar lawsuits by 15 U.S. states now pending in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The states want these cases moved to state courts.

The case is U.S. v. McGraw-Hill Cos et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 13-00779.


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