It's not a smoking gun. But Standard & Poor's claims in a new court filing that it has documents showing that government lawyers who have targeted the firm over its flawed ratings on mortgage bonds also had "intense interest in and engagement regarding S&P's downgrade of the United States."* * *Justice says there was no connection between the downgrade and its decision to charge S&P. But in a Tuesday federal court filing in the Central District of California, S&P says it has obtained internal Justice documents showing "that the two topics were often linked."
The documents are under a protective order and thus not public. But it's safe to assume S&P would want to stick to the facts because federal Judge David Carter can see the documents too. If S&P is right, then Justice will have to explain why lawyers tasked with investigating pre-crisis mortgage bonds were so keenly interested in a downgrade of government debt that took place years after the mortgage bond ratings. Do prosecutors investigate every time someone expresses a skeptical view on Treasury bonds?
Recently in General Category
In the name of patient privacy, a Daytona Beach, Fla., nursing home said it couldn't cooperate with police investigating allegations of a possible rape against one of its residents.
The U.S. Department of Justice has joined the discussions over a controversial float in the Norfolk [Nebraska] Independence Day parade.
The Department sent a member of its Community Relations Service team, which gets involved in discrimination disputes, to a Thursday meeting about the issue. Also at the meeting were the NAACP, the Norfolk mayor and The Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
The Odd Fellows organized the parade. One of the floats included a zombie-like mannequin standing near an outhouse labeled "Obama Presidential Library."
The float's creator, Dale Remmich, has said the mannequin depicted himself, not President Barack Obama. He said he is upset with the president's handling of the Veterans Affairs Department.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office there, the number of Nevada attorneys convicted of serious federal crimes is on the rise.
"There's been a significant uptick," David Clark, chief counsel for the State Bar of Nevada, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It's a combination of economic realities and the increased vigilance on the part of federal prosecutors to go after lawyers.
Mind you, the overall total is not huge. Between 2008 and 2014, 23 lawyers--" mostly from Las Vegas"--were convicted, most for financial crimes such as tax evasion and bank or mortgage fraud, the Review-Journal reported.
I have more than a few doubts about DOJ's priorities, but if the Department is paying more attention to the private bar, congratulations to Eric Holder. I've often wondered about the client-uber-alles "ethics" of the private bar, but, for however that may be, there is absolutely no excuse for looking the other way at outright criminality.
Meanwhile, in real America, veterans are denied care. Other Americans are forced to buy insurance they don't want at costs they can't afford while their taxes bail out insurance companies in league with the Obama administration. Meanwhile, in the real world, Americans are abandoned when under attack by terrorists in Benghazi, and terrorists are released from Guantánamo in return for an American who abandoned his fellow soldiers.
And now the Obama administration stands and watches as Iraq, abandoned after a noble if difficult effort on the part of American soldiers and Marines sent to Iraq with the blessing not just of George W. Bush and John McCain but of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and John Kerry, falls apart under the assault of an al Qaeda army that turns out not to be "on the run."
This is not to mention a national debt we can't pay off because we've become addicted to a debt-fueled entitlement state that tells us the individual is not responsible for his life and choices, but the government is.
Yes, well, giving bigger breaks to felons through "sentencing reform" fits right in, doesn't it? Just as the power vacuum in the Middle East will be filled with terrorists, the responsibility vacuum here at home will be filled with criminals. Let's not kid ourselves.
Repressing free expression is a natural human weakness, and it is up to us to fight it at every turn. Intolerance of ideas - whether liberal or conservative - is antithetical to individual rights and free societies, and it is no less antithetical to great universities and first-rate scholarship.
There is an idea floating around college campuses - including here at Harvard - that scholars should be funded only if their work conforms to a particular view of justice. There's a word for that idea: censorship. And it is just a modern-day form of McCarthyism.
Think about the irony: In the 1950s, the right wing was attempting to repress left wing ideas. Today, on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas, even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species. And perhaps nowhere is that more true than here in the Ivy League.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . . we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth. "
-- Abraham Lincoln, 1863
By Mr. Comey's own account, he [initially] brought to the job a belief, based on news media reports, that the threat from Al Qaeda was diminished. But nine months into his tenure as director, Mr. Comey acknowledges that he underestimated the threat the United States still faces from terrorism.
"I didn't have anywhere near the appreciation I got after I came into this job just how virulent those affiliates had become," Mr. Comey said, referring to offshoots of Al Qaeda in Africa and in the Middle East during an interview in his sprawling office on the seventh floor of the J. Edgar Hoover Building. "There are both many more than I appreciated, and they are stronger than I appreciated."
Based on what he now knows, Mr. Comey said, he is convinced that terrorism should remain the main focus of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Whew! I'm happy and comforted that the head of the FBI understands that there are more important federal priorities than reviewing how allegations of rape are handled in Missoula, Montana.