Saturday Open Thread

I've been writing the next "chapter" of what I call the "DEA's Most Excellent African Adventures" for days but keep getting pulled in by databases I run across while trying to connect more dots. Some I've used for a while, but others are new to me.

If you are interested in world wide drug busts and seizures, here are a few that can suck up a weekend of reading time (they are updated daily and you can set your own search terms):

For free federal and many state court decisions, check out CourtListener. It's an academic, open source project with more than 800,000 opinions, with internal hyperlinks to other cases. It's searchable by keywords, names, dates and court. In addition to all federal circuit opinions, here is the list of other federal and state court opinions that are included. It's updated daily. [More....]

Back to the DEA's African Adventures series. Here's the shorter version: DEA agents go to Africa, set up an elaborate sting with it's highly paid informants, whereby cocaine from South America is flown to Liberia and elsewhere in Africa, so that it can be transported to Europe, its final destination. Even though the cocaine isn't headed to the U.S., the feds in the U.S. indict the participants, have them arrested/kidnapped in Africa and fly them to the U.S. to stand trial on charges ranging from conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit narco-terrorism, to conspiracy to distribute or import drugs.

Sometimes they have the informant say he's sending his share of the cocaine to the U.S. to ensure jurisdiction. Other times, they don't even bother. The courts routinely reject defense arguments of manufactured jurisdiction and outrageous government conduct, even in the face of blatant kidnapping and rendition involving allegations of torture by the foreign police.

This has been a particularly expensive project since no one else seems interested in covering it and I'm left connecting the dots on my own. I've downloaded more than 100 pleadings and briefs in the related cases from PACER.

If you missed yesterday's Birthday Post and would like to make a donation to TalkLeft, I'd really appreciate it. TalkLeft's PACER bill alone runs $100 to $200 a month. Even if you aren't interested in the DEA's African Adventures, please consider that I do the same for the other legal cases I write about in depth, from terrorism to electronic surveillance, computer hacking, drug trafficking, and high profile political and celebrity trials. And that PACER is just one of the many non-free resources I use to ensure the accuracy of my writing and sleuthing.

Have a great weekend. This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Book recommendation. One of the best (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by caseyOR on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 06:39:04 PM EST
    novels I have ever read. 5 stars, 2 thumbs up, #1 with a bullet and any other rating systems superlatives you can think of should be awarded to this book.

    The book is Life After Life. The author is Kate Atkinson. She is a Scottish writer, probably best known for her books about English private detective Jackson Brodie. Masterpiece Mystery aired a series based on the Brodie books.

    This book is not about Brodie. It takes place in England, with side trips to Germany, in the years from 1910 to the 1970s. I have never read a book structured quite like this one. Its is compelling writing. While not a mystery, the book is a page-turner. On a couple of nights I found myself still reading at 3 AM because I was so loathe to put down the book.

    I read a lot, a whole lot, 3-4 books a week. It has been a long time since a novel grabbed me like this one did.

    If you enjoy good, really good, well-written and thought-provoking fiction, read this book.

    Gen. Morrison explains it all to you. (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 06:40:54 PM EST
    Responding to an announcement that New South Wales police and the ADF Investigative Service are investigating allegations of serious sexual misconduct in the Australian Army, Lt. Gen. David Morrison, ADF Chief of Staff, broadcast a statement to the ranks yesterday which leaves no doubt regarding his stance on the subject of sexual harassment and misogyny:

    "By now, I assume you know my attitude to this type of conduct. I have stated categorically many times that the Army has to be an inclusive organization in which every soldier -- man and woman -- is able to reach their full potential and is encouraged to do so. Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this Army.


    "On all operations, female officers and soldiers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian Army. They are vital to us in maintaining our capability, now and into the future. If that does not suit you, then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude and behavior is acceptable, but I doubt it.


    "Every one of us is responsible for the reputation of our Army, and the culture and environment in which we work. If you become aware of any individual degrading another, then show some moral courage and take a stand against it. No one has ever explained to me how the exploitation or the degradation of others enhances capability or honors the traditions of the Australian Army.

    "I will be ruthless in ridding the Army of people who cannot live up to its values, and I need every one of you to support me in achieving this. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. That goes for all of us, but especially for those who, by their rank, have a leadership role.

    "If we are a great national institution, if we care about the legacy left to us by others who served before us, if we care about the legacy we leave to those who will, in turn, protect and secure Australia, then it is up to us to make a difference. If you're not up to it, find something else to do with your life. There is no place for you amongst this band of brothers and sisters."

    Wow. "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept." That's a point we would all do well to remember.


    I saw that video and wondered why (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by caseyOR on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 06:49:46 PM EST
    our military leaders find it so impossible to be as clear and forthright on this issue as Gen. Morrison. Instead we are treated to the sight of our military brass, seated before the Senate Armed Services Committee, making it painfully clear to everyone that they just do not get it, and don't really care to.

    It seemed to me that our brass was mostly upset that they had to give any time at all to the issue of sexual assault and harassment.


    I know. (none / 0) (#10)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 07:05:13 PM EST
    I finally got around to watching that Senate hearing, and frankly, I was embarrassed for them. It's physically impossible to be any more clueless and indifferent to the issue than the military brass were on that day.

    General Speak, word salad (none / 0) (#14)
    by MKS on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 07:58:16 PM EST

    Saw this one, (none / 0) (#11)
    by Zorba on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 07:05:37 PM EST
    And I was sad that none of our high-ranking officers have come out with a statement even half so forceful.
    But kudos to Gen. Morrison.  Can we hire him to advise our military?

    Riot Police Clear Gezi Park (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by shoephone on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 06:50:27 PM EST
    Meta... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Edger on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 08:04:03 PM EST

    Obama, June 7:

    "No One Is Listening To Your Telephone Calls" <grin>

    NSA, June 15:

    The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.

    Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that."

    If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.
    Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, Nadler's disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 08:52:24 PM EST
    I finally figured out how the GOP got insane. It goes back to Reagan and his speech in 1964. He said John Kennedy was a communist. This 1964 speech what would be called pure tea party pandering these days. I started laughing he sounded so crazy in that speech.

    I think (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by lentinel on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 12:07:08 PM EST
    we can trace the Democrats nuttiness back at least to that nut of nuts, LBJ. Naming everybody after himself is but one of the symptoms of this true flake.

    Of course, in retrospect, he looks comparatively good because he knew how to get things through congress, as opposed to, say, the current occupant of 1600 Penn.

    But that war in Vietnam.

    He'll never live that down.
    Nor should he, wherever he currently resides.


    You're right (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 12:35:35 PM EST
    but honestly LBJ must have had somewhat of a conscience because I think Vietnam is the reason he died so soon after leaving office unlike George W. Bush who seems completely devoid of any type of conscience about what he did.

    I suppose (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by lentinel on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 12:58:47 PM EST
    it's possible that Johnson developed a bit of conscience - having been responsible for so many unnecessary deaths of young people would be an enormous burden for someone able to feel - but Johnson showed such intransigence while in office that I'm inclined to think that if he felt anything, it would be the disgrace of being forced to commit to not running for another term.

    Of course, we agree about Bush. A truly insular sealed-off nut-job.

    You might be inclined to excuse Obama some grounds, but when he said, at that library dedication, that to know W. is to like him and that he is a good man, my stomach went into cartwheels.

    I wonder what Obama is capable of feeling, I must admit.

    Here we are, comparing Reagan with Johnson. Obama with this spying mess is being compared to Nixon. To tell you the truth, they all make me unwell.


    Obama saying that about Dubya... (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Dadler on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 02:41:06 PM EST
    ...reminded me of Dubya saying he just knew in his heart that Putin was a good man -- and also because Vlad was wearing a crucifix.



    Obama took (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 04:16:43 PM EST
    or his speechwriter took those words right out of Bush's campaign back in 2000. Obama comes off as very cold.

    Well, I can see the comparison with Nixon but unfortunately it's probably legal to do what Obama is doing. It was not for Nixon.


    Obama obviously would have thought... (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Dadler on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 05:56:43 PM EST
    ...that Daniel Ellsberg should have been found guilty and been sent to jail back in Dick's day.

    Undoubtedly (none / 0) (#30)
    by shoephone on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 06:23:05 PM EST
    Was (none / 0) (#32)
    by lentinel on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 06:43:18 PM EST
    it legal for Nixon to tape everyfkingbody without their knowledge and consent?

    From David Frost's 1977 Nixon Interviews: (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 08:11:49 PM EST
    Nope (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 08:15:25 PM EST
    and that was kind of my point. Nixon didn't have the odious Patriot Act among other things to back him up. Never fear Dick Cheney is on the case screaming that Snowden is a "traitor".

    OK (none / 0) (#36)
    by lentinel on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 09:13:51 PM EST
    Got it.

    Just (none / 0) (#37)
    by lentinel on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 09:23:59 PM EST
    to be certain...

    Is listening in on private conversations without a warrant something that is actually authorized by the patriot act? My impression is that the NSA took it one step beyond...


    I believe it is. (none / 0) (#62)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 12:49:07 PM EST
    Remember the vote back in 2008 on warrantless wiretapping?

    Love this quote re women in classical music (5.00 / 4) (#17)
    by DFLer on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 11:29:33 AM EST
    In 1939 Nadia Boulanger was asked what it was like to be the first woman to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the world première of Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks. She replied
    "Well, I have been a woman for 50 years now and have recovered from my initial astonishment."

    Been waiting for an appropriate opportunity to post. Today seems like a good day.

    "Is our voters learning?" (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 05:52:47 PM EST
    Here's an interesting read. The jury's out:

    Pasadena Weekly | March 28, 2013
    Are Americans too stupid for democracy? - "In 2011, Newsweek asked 1,000 Americans to take the standard US Citizenship test, and 38 percent of them failed. One in three couldn't name the vice-president. A 2009 study in the European Journal of Communications looked at how informed citizens of the US, UK, Denmark and Finland were of the international news of the day, and the results weren't pretty."

    This is, sadly, unsurprising (none / 0) (#29)
    by shoephone on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 06:22:17 PM EST
    How many can even name their own congressional representative? How many can remember more than two of the first ten amendments to the constitution?

    You know... (none / 0) (#31)
    by lentinel on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 06:40:17 PM EST
    I actually had to stop and think for a few seconds to remember who the vice-president is.

    I'm inclined to think that it has more to do with Biden than my diminished mental capacity... but nevertheless - it happened...


    Even more sadly, I bet ... (none / 0) (#63)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 03:35:14 PM EST
    ... more people know that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West recently had a baby girl, or to whom the term "Big Three" refers in NBA basketball (the Miami Heat's LeBron James, DeWayne Wade and Chris Bash), than know who their state legislators or city councilmembers are.

    And if you show U.S. citizens under age 35 an unlabeled map of North America, the odds are probably better than even that most couldn't point to within 500 miles of where they actually live.

    This is what happens when we're conditioned to willingly forgo hard information, and to instead demand to be entertained -- or at the very least, assert what most Americans mistakenly believe to be our constitutional right to not be bored.

    Welcome to Stepford, U.S.A.


    More to the point, this is what happens (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by caseyOR on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 05:09:47 PM EST
    when we stop teaching civics to our schoolchildren. It wouldn't hurt to add geography back to the grade school/middle school curriculum either.

    I despise the infotainment industry, but I do not blame it all on the American people. I remember the chasing of the Clenis all over the media. Ted Koppel was running with it every night on Nightline. He insisted on wasting countless hours of TV on the whole stupid thing even though the American people had made it clear that they were not interested. Koppel insisted that the people should be interested, must become consumed with the chase of the Clenis. He was angry that Americans refused to be as sucked into it as the national had become.


    I know who my elected reps are... (none / 0) (#67)
    by kdog on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 11:12:59 AM EST
    it hasn't done me much good...in fact, it's kind of depressing and leads to defeatism.

    Sometimes I think that the apolitical have it right, ignorance is bliss.  The rabbit hole goes deep.  


    Except that if ignorance were really (none / 0) (#68)
    by jondee on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 04:26:24 PM EST
    bliss, we wouldn't have so many people walking around medicated, or self-medicated..

    In the words of the late Alan Watts, there's a taboo here against knowing who you are..against resisting being an adolescent impulse-buyer (of products, or personalities.)


    From the MIT Technology Review (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 02:28:31 PM EST
    A great little piece on a "little" computer/video game sensation called MINECRAFT (link) that my no 13 y.o. son has played for a few years. It is the antithesis of the first person shooter game. Instead it is a sort of simple virtual blank slate upon which creativity awaits. If you have a kid my age, you will know this game, if you don't, it's a great read to get a handle on a genuine worldwide sensation. And, at the least, I am so happy that my son is into a game that doesn't require you to desensitize to violence and kill "virtual" people.

    This story is getting big play on sports' blogs... (none / 0) (#2)
    by magster on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 02:31:01 PM EST
    but should be spread in political blogs too.

    Putin flat out stole NE Patriots owner's Super Bowl ring

    New potatoes! (none / 0) (#3)
    by Zorba on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 03:13:31 PM EST
    The potatoes are now ready to start digging as new potatoes!
    Love them.

    Roma tomatoes! (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by nycstray on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 06:20:48 PM EST
    Have set fruits :-P

    I got them in late, so I'm pretty surprised . . .

    I'll have to go check my volunteer potato patch and see if I have some newbies. Enjoy yours!!!!


    It's mango season out here. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 07:01:33 PM EST
    We have so much of the ubiquitous fruit this year that we can't give them away fast enough. The Spouse and Elder Daughter are making chutney and jam, and we're doing some serious canning. The nice thing about mangoes is that they preserve easily, and also make great (and healthy) dried fruit snacks.

    I am unreasonably jealous of you, Donald. (none / 0) (#33)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 07:56:21 PM EST
    Mangoes are by far my favorite fruit although there's no way to grow them here in zone 5.  

    Looking on the bright side of Global Warming, though, if I live long enough, I may one day have the chance.


    Hey Pirate Crew! (none / 0) (#12)
    by nycstray on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 07:20:48 PM EST
    Why aren'tcha all at this weekend's NorCal Pirate Festival? Let's just say there's a lot of them cruising my 'hood today (and tomorrow) :)

    It's an annual event . . . .

    It's NCAA College World Series time: (none / 0) (#13)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 07:26:12 PM EST
    Remember, it's a double elimination tournament.

    Game No. 1 (completed earlier): Mississippi State 5, Oregon State 4.

    Game No. 2 (8:00 p.m. EDT): Indiana v. Louisville

    Game No. 3 (Sun., 3:00 p.m. EDT): North Carolina State v. North Carolina

    Game 4 (Sun., 8:00 p.m. EDT): UCLA v. LSU

    Game No. 5 (Mon. 3:00 p.m. EDT): Oregon State v. Indiana-Louisville loser
    (Loser will be eliminated, and winner will play the loser of Game No. 6 on Wed., June 19)

    Game No. 6 (Mon. 8:00 p.m. EDT): Mississippi State v. Indiana-Louisville winner

    Maybe Obama (none / 0) (#22)
    by Edger on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 03:48:50 PM EST
    will finally grow a spine and veto something?

    June 16, 2013: House Passes Ban on Drone Strikes Against US Citizens

    Except there is an exception (none / 0) (#24)
    by CoralGables on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 04:26:30 PM EST
    (b) EXCEPTION.--The prohibition under subsection shall not apply to an individual who is actively engaged in combat against the United States.

    Even if passed that exception permits exactly how they have used them. Perhaps even more so as it would now permit the use of drones within the borders.

    I read that wording as a feel good bill which in actuality might grant permission to expand the current use.


    It goes without saying...but, I'll say it anyhow (none / 0) (#25)
    by christinep on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 05:49:38 PM EST
    The "big questions" charged with ethical challenges in whatever direction one chooses is not the same as those into-the-night discussions we had so long ago in the 60s and 70s (or actually in any decade.)  And, I'm not even talking about something like national security vis-a-vis privacy that has occupied so many of us in the past days.  No, what about the countries ... Syria and/or Turkey, esp.  

    When we talk about the need for guidelines or standards in the 21st century, so far there has been the incident or crisis of the moment.  One is "for" or "against"...one is aghast/outraged or supportive.  Well...for me, the Syria situation defies lots of my plug-in-the-precepts.  Let's see:  We have the oppressive government that hasn't compromised or appear to have given an inch, and bombs (and seems to have) & used chemical warfare in the country; and, we also have the ill-defined group of protesters, rebels (and their children) who are putting their lives on the line, but also bringing in assistance from known/suspected jihadists.  Forget the obvious politics; think rather of the "yoiks" factor.  

    The "Yoiks Factor."  We seem to have moved from  the do-not-intervene/do-not-get-dragged-into-the-civil-war-bit-by-bit to supplying some kind of arms to the rebels.  Is there a right answer...is the "right" answer here one of pragmatism and/or one of morality?  Ah, the Twenty-First Century!

    I have no idea anymore about how to approach this (other than desiring a bit of summer escapism.)  But, the seasons don't wait in the MidEast.  What do you all think?

    Oh...and, Turkey.  That may be even more complex ultimately???

    Leave it alone (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Dadler on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 06:06:07 PM EST
    Instant media and soundbite psychology has made our Superman Complex worse than ever. We are a nation that doesn't even believe its own citizens matter more than money, for heaven's sake, and yet we can go bankrupt ourselves for bullets and bombs at every turn in every corner of the world. It really is inexcusably sick and disgusting that we have, literally, no national imagination anymore.

    All we can contribute to that region militarily is what almost all militaries bring -- more misery and even more resentment in the long run since, obviously, we will be taking sides in a conflict we do not even marginally understand the implications of.

    Make America a truly great and egalitarian place, others will follow. That's how you make real and long term change. By example.


    I concur.... (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by kdog on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 06:28:13 AM EST
    the rebels we give missiles to today will be the oppressive regime tomorrow...when in doubt, first do no harm.  I'd limit aid to food and medical supplies...no money and certainly no weapons.  And that goes for the world over...Israel, Egypt, everybody.  Effective immediately would be nice.

    It may sound cold, and easy to say from the couch in a relatively peaceful place...but Syrians need to sort out Syria, Turks need to sort out Turkey, and Americans need to sort out America.  We're well past due for own, hopefully non-violent, revolution. You don't go trying to fix the neighbors house when yours is in desperate need of repair.

    Things are tough all over, and we create more problems than we solve getting involved in domestic disputes, not to mention making as many enemies as friends, and worsening our rep as global empire maker/world dominator. As painful as it may be to watch from the sidelines, or as much as may hope for the toppling of some of the world's worst regimes...I still say stay the f*ck out of it. I wouldn't want Russia or China or whoever getting involved in our self-determination.    



    "Labor Re-education classes" (none / 0) (#38)
    by Politalkix on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 11:45:59 PM EST
    Supreme Court Rulings (none / 0) (#40)
    by CoralGables on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:39:39 AM EST
    coming this morning (Monday) starting at 10:00am ET. Possibilities are: Affirmative action in higher education; Voting Rights Act section 5; and California's Prop 8 and the Federal DOMA.

    Of course they could also come this Thursday or next Monday but if you're interested in following today's announcements,

    Here is the link to live coverage from SCOTUSblog

    How 'bout them Spurs? (none / 0) (#42)
    by kdog on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:59:24 AM EST
    One more San Antonio!  Remember the Alamo! ;)

    Surprisingly (none / 0) (#44)
    by CoralGables on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 09:12:58 AM EST
    The Heat is a 7 point favorite in Vegas for Tuesday night. I'm a bit shocked by the margin based on how poorly they played last night. Then again the Heat is 12-0 against the spread in the game following their last 12 losses, so stats say we're looking at a Game 7. Logic tells me the Heat could go down like a round clown Tuesday.

    I think it goes seven. (none / 0) (#64)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 04:04:43 PM EST
    Honestly, after Friday night's game I was more than half-expecting Miami to finally assert control over San Antonio yesterday, rather than vice versa. If the series holds true to form, the Heat win going away in Game 6, setting up Game 7 to mirror the highly competitive Game 1 and become the bookend. If it goes seven, it's anyone's series.

    Then again, I can't just blithely dismiss your prognostication, which says the Heat neatly fold up like cheap lawn furniture at home in Game 6, as they did against the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 -- or as the Mavericks did against the Heat five years earlier in 2006.

    We'll see if the Big Three show up to play cohesively on Tuesday night. But if they don't and Miami loses Game 6 and the NBA championship along with it, I'd look for the Heat front office to keep DeWayne Wade and LeBron James, but probably send Chris Bosh packing for elsewhere during the off-season.



    Another Vegas betting line for you (none / 0) (#65)
    by CoralGables on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 04:35:27 PM EST
    As of this afternoon (Monday at 4:00PM ET) LeBron James is the 4-5 favorite to be the Series MVP. Vegas still thinks Miami wins it. If they do, it will be a raucous Game 7 in Miami for sure.

    Tom Goldstein (none / 0) (#43)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 09:06:27 AM EST
    One of the bloggers (and a lawyer who argues before the Supreme Court), made the following comment on the LiveBlog:

    ... I think it's likely -- based on the second panel on the statistics page that shows which Justices have authored opinions in which sittings -- that between fifteen and seventeen of the remaining nineteen decisions will be authored by conservative Justices. That's just an educated guess.

    Food for thought...


    Harris v. United States (none / 0) (#45)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 09:15:25 AM EST
    Overruled today by Alleyene v. United States, holding that:

    Any fact that increases the mandatory minimum is an "element" that must be submitted to the jury.


    Majority is Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Dissent by Roberts, joined by Scalia and Kennedy. Alito dissents separately.


    This is a major criminal law ruling on the right to a jury trial. The Court reverses an earlier contrary ruling.

    (Quotes from the LiveBlog)


    Supreme Court StrikesDown Arizona Law... (none / 0) (#49)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 10:09:51 AM EST
    ...requiring proof of citizenship to vote.

    The vote was 7-2, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the court. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, two members of the court's conservative wing, dissented.

    Justice Stevens (none / 0) (#41)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:46:50 AM EST
    writes that he probably would have sided with the majority in Maryland v. King (although he admits, he had not read the briefs) (see pp.12-17). His replacement (Kagan) voted with the dissent.

    Here's a ruling right up theTL alley (none / 0) (#46)
    by CoralGables on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 09:17:19 AM EST
    Justice Thomas sided with the left leaners on the Court giving a 5-4 ruling on Alleyne v United States

    I'm shocked. When Thomas and Scalia split I no longer have confidence the sun rises in the east. What is happening at SCOTUS.

    Actually, (none / 0) (#47)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 09:33:35 AM EST
    According to SCOTUSBLOG, Thomas usually sides with the left on issues of right to trial by jury.

    And Scalia and Thomas have agreed 90% of the time.


    Kagan/Sotomeyer? Ginsburg/Souter? (none / 0) (#48)
    by squeaky on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 10:01:03 AM EST
    ..Scalia and Thomas have agreed 90% of the time.

    It's commonly assumed that Justices Scalia and Thomas are the two Supreme Court justices who are most likely to vote together.  However much that may have been true during Justice Thomas' first several years on the Court, it is becoming less true over time.   This past term, according to statistics collected by the folks at SCOTUSBlog, the two sets of justices most likely to vote together were the Chief Justice and Justice Alito (96.2%), and Justices Sotomayor and Kagan (94%).  Perhaps even more surprising, the Scalia-Thomas pairing was not even in the top ten most common pairings.


    ....the view of Thomas as Scalia's lapdog is strange. Scalia/Thomas agree at 86.7% while Ginsburg/Souter are at 85.6%. This roundup of the SCOTUS 2010 term shows most of the conservatives and liberals agreeing with each other aound 80% of the time. Apparently from the years 1994-2004 Scalia and Thomas's voting records were slightly more in alignment than anyone else's. In other recent years, it's been Roberts and Alito. Doesn't seem like a solid basis for an inference about a special relationship between Scalia and Thomas.


    It's also worth noting that there are more unanimous Supreme Court decisions than 5-4 Supreme Court decisions, and that's even among the tiny percentage of cases the Court chooses to decide. Of course, the split decisions tend to be the ones that dominate the headlines.




    Stats are funny things (none / 0) (#50)
    by CoralGables on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 10:15:25 AM EST
    and sometimes pretty meaningless and/or misleading. More interesting is, has there ever been a 5-4 decision where Thomas sided with the four (perceived) left leaning justices resulting in a majority?

    For instance, Sotomayor and Kagan voting together and losing 5-4 is meaningless. If they split and one writes the opinion in a 5-4 decision, that's worth checking out.

    We know Roberts and Alito split on Health Care leading to a 5-4 upholding the ACA, That's noteworthy, while most of the times when they vote together in a 5-4 it's just run of the mill.


    Update your data (none / 0) (#51)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 10:41:18 AM EST
    2012-2013 term

    Scalia - Thomas agreement - 90%

    The two most likely to be in agreement - Kagan and Sotomayor at 96%.

    But it's actually not news that most opinions tend to be 9-0 or 8-1 (50% since 2005 fall into this category).  5-4 cases during this same time period have averaged around 23% of all decisions.


    The Dadler Comics have been renamed (none / 0) (#52)
    by Dadler on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 10:48:23 AM EST
    And they have a new blog for themselves, titled AN AXE LENGTH AWAY, which is a line from the JD Salinger short story, "For Esme - With Love and Squalor."

    Here is volume 39 (link)

    RIP (none / 0) (#56)
    by squeaky on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 11:15:32 AM EST
    a line from the JD Salinger short story

    Good thing JDS is resting in peace, otherwise your fame may have come from a getting sued for infringement.


    You could be right (none / 0) (#61)
    by Dadler on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 12:24:12 PM EST
    But since you can't copyright a title, I think I might have been in the clear. Can't sue me for a sequence of four words that make no mention or even allusion to Mr. Glass, er, Salinger. But he'd have fought it tooth an nail, I'm sure.

    The upcoming ACA exchanges (none / 0) (#53)
    by shoephone on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 10:56:36 AM EST
    Reading through the article (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by CoralGables on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 11:29:11 AM EST
    it's actually mostly positive at the expectation that costs are and will be dropping.

    Yes (none / 0) (#59)
    by squeaky on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 11:41:51 AM EST
    My health insurance premium dropped this year.. I was amazed.

    There are pros and cons in the article. (none / 0) (#60)
    by shoephone on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 11:43:08 AM EST
    The fact that a lot of citizens have no clue what's going to be offered in their states next year is not a good thing.

    Yep (none / 0) (#54)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 10:59:19 AM EST
    Just found out my (pretty decent) Care First Blue Cross plan will be discontinued as of the beginning of the year because it is an HDP (high deductible plan).  So, I will have to re-apply for a new plan, which I've already been told, will most likely cost more than the large amount I am already paying.

    Woo hoo!


    That stinks (none / 0) (#55)
    by shoephone on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 11:08:32 AM EST
    and Blue Cross and Blue Shield are already such expensive plans! Don't know if it's the case out there, but here in WA, they have been the only provider of self-insurance plans,and they have raised premiums roughly 30% since 2009. As someone who is once again in the self-employed pool, I can tell you... it's impossible to afford.

    Yep (none / 0) (#57)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 11:20:27 AM EST
    Especially as I went to the HDP in the first place just this past January, because they had already raised my rates almost 20%!

    And of course, that doesn't count the multiple phone calls, emails, and time that it took to switch from the same plan with a $5000 deductible to a $10,000 deductible, because (under Virginia law), I had to fill out a whole new application - with medical history and everything - and then of course, paperwork gets lost, calls don't get returned, etc.