Archive for Civil Liberties

¿Cuba Libre?

You tell me:

Here is what the U.S. Agency for International Development, which takes its foreign policy guidance from the White House and the State Department, has to say about Cuba:

Cuba is a totalitarian state which relies on repressive methods to maintain control. Criticism of national leaders or the political system can lead to imprisonment. Members of the security forces harass and physically assault human rights and pro-democracy advocates, dissidents, detainees, and prisoners. The Cuban Government does not allow independent monitoring of prison conditions by international or national human rights groups and continues to refuse access to detainees by international humanitarian organizations (U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011).…

The Cuban Government routinely denies its citizens freedom of association and does not recognize independent associations. The Cuban Constitution prohibits any political organization that is not officially recognized. As a result, grassroots community efforts which operate in a democratic manner are extremely limited (U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011)….

The Cuban Government owns and the Communist Party controls all print and broadcast media outlets. News and information programming is nearly uniform across all outlets, and the law prohibits distribution of printed material from foreign sources considered “counterrevolutionary” or critical of the government. Foreign newspapers or magazines are generally unavailable, and distribution of material with political content, interpreted broadly to include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is not allowed and can result in harassment and even detention.

The Cuban Government controls nearly all internet access, with the exception of extremely limited facilities, where foreigners and citizens are allowed to buy Internet access cards for use at hotel business centers, where the price of Internet access is beyond the means of most citizens. Authorities review the browsing history of authorized users, review and censor e-mail, employ Internet search filters, and block access to Web sites considered objectionable (U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011).

Under the arrangement Obama has crafted, Cuba is required to do not a damn thing about reforming any of this. In “exchange,” the United States of America gives Cuba full diplomatic recognition. Plus, Obama tells the world’s other despots that a windfall from Uncle Sam could be awaiting them, too, if they abduct American citizens and hold them for ransom.

It’s true that we have diplomatic relations with just about everybody—North Korea being the only notable exception. But Havana doesn’t sound a whole hell of a lot freer. Pyonyang with an extra ration of fried plantains. Beijing with palm trees.

Cuba’s current sugardaddy, Venezuela, is in its own circle of Hell. If there was ever a time to squeeze Cuba for human rights concessions, this was that time. I guess human rights are just another first-world, colonial imposition on the indigenous proletariat of the world, and Obama says [bleep] that noise. Besides, Major League Baseball could do with a few more power pitchers and right-handed bats.

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Shiva’t Up Your A**

We printed the Mohammed pix, so…

A New Zealand bar manager in Myanmar has been arrested for allegedly insulting Buddhism after posting an online advertisement showing a psychedelic image of Buddha wearing headphones, police said Friday.

The offense carries a penalty of up to two years in prison.

Police arrested Philip Blackwood on Wednesday along with two Myanmar nationals, including the bar’s owner, Tun Thurein, and an employee. Authorities then shut the V Gastro Bar, a tapas bar and lounge, which had opened just two weeks earlier in an upscale Yangon neighborhood.

Is Yangon anywhere near Rangoon? I can’t find it in my 1960 edition Golden Book Encyclopedia. Of course, I can’t find Myanmar either.

But what little I know about Buddha suggests he wouldn’t throw people in prison for such an “offense”. Indeed, if he was offended at all, he’d just chalk it up to suffering. Which is to Buddhism as forgiveness is to Christianity, tikkun olam is to Judaism, and, um, well, uh, peace is to Islam (whew!).

PS: I tried to find an image of Mohammed wearing headphones, but failed. Apparently no one is that depraved.

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We Can Quantify The Loss Of Personal Freedom Under Obama

Do you remember all those people who claimed that George W. Bush was taking away our personal freedoms? All those fiery dinner parties? Where are those folks now?

Americans’ assessments of their personal freedom have significantly declined under President Obama, according to a new study from the Legatum Institute in London, and the United States now ranks below 20 other countries on this measure.

The research shows that citizens of countries including France, Uruguay, and Costa Rica now feel that they enjoy more personal freedom than Americans.

As the Washington Examiner reported this morning, representatives of the Legatum Institute are in the U.S. this week to promote the sixth edition of their Prosperity Index. The index aims to measure aspects of prosperity that typical gross domestic product measurements don’t include, such as entrepreneurship and opportunity, education, and social capital.

The freedom scores are based on polling data from 2013 indicating citizens’ satisfaction with their nation’s handling of civil liberties, freedom of choice, tolerance of ethnic minorities, and tolerance of immigrants. Polling data were provided by Gallup World Poll Service. The index is notable for the way it measures how free people feel, unlike other freedom indices that measure freedom by comparing government policies.

“This is not a good report for Obama,” Legatum Institute spokeswoman Cristina Odone told the Washington Examiner.

In the 2010 report (which relied on data gathered in 2009), the U.S. was ranked ninth in personal freedom, but that ranking has since fallen to 21st, with several countries, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom passing the U.S.

The nation’s overall personal freedom score has declined by 17 percent since 2009, with a 22 percent drop in combined civil liberty and free choice contributing to that decline.

Of the eight categories in the index, personal freedom was America’s second lowest performance relative to other countries. The U.S. had its lowest ranking when it came to safety and security (a broad measure of how threatened citizens feel in instances such as walking late at night, or expressing their opinions) — ranking 31st out of 142 countries.

More at the link.

– Aggie

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Why Bother With Elections?

No matter how you vote, the machine registers for the democrat.

Early voting just started last week in Maryland, but there are already accusations that some voting machines are changing Republican votes to Democrat. Now Republicans are calling for an investigation by the State Board of Elections.

As Marylanders go to the polls, there are concerns that the vote you cast may not be for the candidate you want.

“We’ve heard from scores of citizens in our district and around the state who have had this problem where they hit one button to vote for one person, and when they go to the summary they see that the other person was checked,” said Del Nik Kipke, (R) Anne Arundel County.
Republicans say they’ve received several dozen reports of Republican votes being changed to Democrat.

Del. Kathy Szeliga says it happened to her.
“I kept pushing the Republican guy’s name and the machine kept going beep, beep, beep,” said Szeliga, (R) Baltimore & Harford co.
Now GOP leaders are calling for an investigation.

Investigation, eh? That’ll make a big difference.

– Aggie

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So Much for Diversity and Tolerance

First, language requirements; what’s next, ID cards?

The Navajo Nation’s top court on Wednesday tossed one of the presidential candidates off of the ballot, ruling in a case that touched a raw cultural nerve.

In a three-page decision, the Navajo Supreme Court upheld earlier rulings that Christopher C. Deschene was not qualified to seek the tribe’s top elected post after the candidate refused to demonstrate whether he is fluent in the Navajo language.

Tribal law requires presidential candidates on the reservation, the largest in the U.S., to be fluent in the language, part of the Navajo cultural identity as well as a practical necessity in a region where many people adhere to the traditional ways and language.

Hey, Lizzie Warren! How do you say “tenure track” in Cherokee? She’s out.

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You Watching The Ferguson Riots Tonight? [UPDATED]

Looks like the autopsy supports the police officer’s story

FERGUSON, Mo. (KMOX) – A report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this morning shows the official autopsy supports Ferguson officer Darren Wilson’s claim that Michael Brown struggled with him in his patrol vehicle, and that Brown did not have his hands up when he was shot Aug. 9.
A source tells the Post-Dispatch that Wilson testified to the Grand Jury that when he tried to get out of his SUV to talk to Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson about the theft of cigarillos, Brown slammed the door shut and punched him in the face.
Wilson pulled his weapon, and Brown grabbed it. At one point, the barrel was pointed at Wilson’s hip, then a shot was fired hitting Brown’s hand.
Wilson says he then chased Brown, who turned and ran toward him. Wilson said “stop,” then fired. Brown kept coming, so Wilson fired several more shots.
The Post-Dispatch also had three experts examine the official autopsy.
St. Louis medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham says the report supports claims that there was a “significant struggle” in Wilson’s patrol car, and Brown suffered a hand wound at “relatively short range.”
A forensic pathologist from San Francisco, Dr. Judy Melinek, says based on a bullet wound to Brown’s arm, Brown’s palms could not have been facing Wilson in the standard surrender position – with hands up and palms out – when he was shot, and Brown was falling forward or lunging when he was hit by the fatal shot to the top of his head.

Can Eric Holder demand that the Grand Jury indict the police officer anyway? Or can they just throw him in jail or execute him without a trial? Because if not, expect riots (weather permitting).

– Aggie

UPDATE
BTL here, adding this nugget:

Angry protesters in Ferguson, Mo., shut down CNN’s live broadcast Monday night after repeatedly heckling the reporter and cameraperson for working for an organization “run by AIPAC” and “Zionists.”

The heckling is audible in a video filmed by protester Bassem Masri, whose Twitter profile touts the Palestinian cause and reads “long live Palestine.”

“You fucking lie about Ferguson; you lie about Occupy Wall Street; you lie about Palestine. You’re all run by Zionists,” one protester said. “We’re holding y’all accountable.”

The hecklers threatened to shut down future CNN broadcasts. “They’re an AIPAC-run agency,” Masri said. “Don’t even think that we won’t.”

No wonder Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson couldn’t wait to get there.

PS: Curiously, CNN doesn’t mention any of this.

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The Continuing Democrat War On Women

First we had Ayaan Hirsi Ali denied her commencement address and honorary degree at Brandeis. Next we learn that Condoleeza Rice has decided to withdraw her address from Rutgers after a lot of protest. And now we learn that Christine Largarde, the head of the IMF, has withdrawn her commencement speech from Smith College:

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund has withdrawn as Smith College’s commencement speaker after faculty and student protests.

The women’s college in Northampton, Massachusetts, announced Christine Lagarde’s withdrawal Monday. According to the college, she said it was clear that many did not want her on campus and that she did not want to distract from a joyous occasion.

An online petition with hundreds of signatures said Lagarde represents a corrupt system that fuels the oppression and abuse of women worldwide.

Smith President Kathleen McCartney said in a statement issued to the school community that she stands by the decision to invite Lagarde, the first woman to hold the IMF’s top position.

Former Smith and Brown University President Ruth Simmons is stepping in as the May 18 commencement speaker.

Ruth Simmons is doing the world a disservice. They should have some sort of neo-Nazi speaker, or perhaps maybe ask the state to release a con artist for a day to speak to the gals. They should be ashamed of themselves.

On a related note, Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse writes in today’s Wall Street Journal:

There was a time when people looking for intellectual debate turned away from politics to the university. Political backrooms bred slogans and bagmen; universities fostered educated discussion. But when students in the 1960s began occupying university property like the thugs of regimes America was fighting abroad, the venues gradually reversed. Open debate is now protected only in the polity: In universities, muggers prevail.

Assaults on intellectual and political freedom have been making headlines. Pressure from faculty egged on by Muslim groups induced Brandeis University last month not to grant Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the proponent of women’s rights under Islam, an intended honorary degree at its convocation. This was a replay of 1994, when Brandeis faculty demanded that trustees rescind their decision to award an honorary degree to Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In each case, a faculty cabal joined by (let us charitably say) ignorant students promoted the value of repression over the values of America’s liberal democracy.

Opponents of free speech have lately chalked up many such victories: New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly prevented from speaking at Brown University in November; a lecture by Charles Murray canceled by Azusa Pacific University in April; Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state and national-security adviser under the George W. Bush administration, harassed earlier this month into declining the invitation by Rutgers University to address this year’s convocation.

Most painful to me was the Harvard scene several years ago when the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies, celebrating its 50th anniversary, accepted a donation in honor of its former head tutor Martin Peretz, whose contributions to the university include the chair in Yiddish I have been privileged to hold. His enemies on campus generated a “party against Marty” that forced him to walk a gauntlet of jeering students for having allegedly offended Islam, while putting others on notice that they had best not be perceived guilty of association with him.

The entire article is well worth your time.

– Aggie

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The Left Continues To March Leftward

This would be a dog-bites-man story if it weren’t so Orwellian

In the U.S., the politics of the left versus the right rolls on with the predictability of traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. It’s a lot of honking. Until now. All of a sudden, the left has hit ramming speed across a broad swath of American life—in the universities, in politics and in government. People fingered as out of line with the far left’s increasingly bizarre claims are being hit and hit hard.

Commencement-speaker bans are obligatory. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice withdrew as Rutgers’s speaker after two months of protests over Iraq, the left’s long-sought replacement for the Vietnam War. Brandeis terminated its invitation to Somali writer Hirsi Ali, whose criticisms of radical Islam violated the school’s “core values.”

Azusa Pacific University “postponed” an April speech by political scientist Charles Murray to avoid “hurting our faculty and students of color.” Come again? It will “hurt” them? Oh yes. In a recent New Republic essay, Jennie Jarvie described the rise of “trigger warnings” that professors are expected to post with their courses to avoid “traumatizing” students.

Oberlin College earlier this year proposed that its teachers “be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.” The co-chair of Oberlin’s Sexual Offense Policy Task Force said last month that this part of the guide is now under revision.

I think it’s fair to say something has snapped.

Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich was driven out as CEO for donating money to support California’s Prop. 8. An online protest tried to kill Condi Rice’s appointment to the Dropbox board of directors over Internet surveillance. Incredibly, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston didn’t cave.

Earlier this year, faculty and students held a meeting at Vassar College to discuss a particularly bitter internal battle over the school’s boycott-Israel movement. Before the meeting, an English professor announced the dialogue “would not be guided by cardboard notions of civility.”

This gets worse and worse. Go to the link and read about the Harvard undergrad who published an article in The Crimson suggesting that we drop academic freedom in favor of social justice. And that we stop all research that doesn’t comply with her idea of social justice. And then read about the agreement that the Obama administration… never mind – I’ll post it:

It’s obvious that the far left has decided there are no longer constraints on what it can do to anyone who disagrees with it. How did this happen? Who let the dogs out?

The answer is not university presidents. The answer is that the Obama administration let the dogs out.

The trigger event was an agreement signed last May between the federal government and the University of Montana to resolve a Title IX dispute over a sexual-assault case.

Every college administrator in the U.S. knows about this agreement. Indeed, there are three separate, detailed “Montana” documents that were signed jointly—and this is unusual—by the civil-rights divisions of the Justice and Education Departments. Remarked DoJ’s Joceyln Samuels, “The government is stronger when we speak with one voice.”

That’s real muscle. But read the agreement. It is Orwellian.

The agreement orders the school to retain an “Equity Consultant” (yes, there is such a thing) to advise it indefinitely on compliance. The school must, with the equity consultant, conduct “annual climate surveys.” It will submit the results “to the United States.”

The agreement describes compliance in mind-numbing detail, but in fact the actual definitional world it creates is vague. It says: “The term ‘sexual harassment’ means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” But there are also definitions for sexual assault and gender-based harassment. All of this detailed writ is called “guidance.” As in missile.

No constitutional lawyer could read this agreement and not see in it the mind of the Queen of Hearts: “Sentence first, verdict afterwards!” Indeed, the U.S. Education Department felt obliged to assert that the agreement is “entirely consistent with the First Amendment.”

First Amendment? It’s more like a fatwa. The Obama administration has issued a federal hunting license to deputize fanatics at any university in America. They will define who gets accused, and on what basis.

The White House enabled these forces again last week, releasing an Education Department list of 55 colleges that are “under investigation” for possible Title IX violations. Not formally cited but “under investigation.” The list includes such notorious Animal Houses as Catholic University, Swarthmore, Knox College, Carnegie Mellon and Harvard Law School. In truth, every school in America is effectively on the list.

And there’s more at the link. The really unfortunate thing for all of us that just want to be left alone is that there probably is no country left on earth where that can happen. If Texas secedes from the Union, I’ll join them. If they’ll have me…

– Aggie

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Obama’s IRS Lies And The MSM

In fact, the IRS did not hassle “progressive” groups

IRS agents testified before Congress that the agency’s political targeting did not apply to progressive groups as Democrats and the media have claimed, according to a bombshell new staff report prepared by the House Oversight Committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa.

IRS agents testified before Oversight that ACORN groups were scrutinized because the agency thought they were old organizations applying as new ones. Emerge America was scrutinized for potential “improper private benefit.” No evidence exists that the IRS requested additional information from any Occupy Wall Street group.

“Only seven applications in the IRS backlog contained the word ‘progressive,’ all of which were then approved by the IRS, while Tea Party groups received unprecedented review and experienced years-long delays. While some liberal-oriented groups were singled out for scrutiny, evidence shows it was due to non-political reasons,” according to the Oversight staff report, which was obtained by The Daily Caller.

“[T]he Administration and congressional Democrats have seized upon the notion that the IRS’s targeting was not just limited to conservative applicants,” the report states. “These Democratic claims are flat-out wrong and have no basis in any thorough examination of the facts. Yet, the Administration’s chief defenders continue to make these assertions in a concerted effort to deflect and distract from the truth about the IRS’s targeting of tax-exempt applicants.”

“[T]here is simply no evidence that any liberal or progressive group received enhanced scrutiny because its application reflected the organization’s political views,” the report stated.

Big surprise.

– Aggie

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Identify The Difference Between Wisconsin Prosecutors And The KGB

From the Wall Street Journal, this depressing story of Democrats run amok.

I am so appalled by this that I am reprinting it in full. This poor woman is alone and persecuted by the state apparatus. Read this, and then explain to me why the US is better than Putin’s Russia or any other authoritarian regime.

‘My greatest fear,” says Kelly Rindfleisch, is that most people “look at my story and think, this is just politics. And it’s only going to get worse until all of us are impacted.”

The resident of Columbus, Wis., is sitting at a restaurant in Chicago, talking for the first time to a reporter about the four-year criminal investigation that has stolen her life savings, isolated her from friends and former colleagues, and put her in danger of losing her home. As a midlevel staffer for then-Milwaukee County executive Scott Walker, she became collateral damage in the pursuit of Mr. Walker by Milwaukee prosecutors. When the secret investigation turned up nothing on the governor, prosecutors made Ms. Rindfleisch their consolation prize.

In October 2012, she pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office for sending fundraising emails during the workday for Brett Davis, a candidate for lieutenant governor. She is now appealing that conviction, but she is also a target of prosecutors’ continuing pursuit of theories of illegal political coordination between conservative groups and the Walker administration. A leak about that secret probe (which she won’t discuss) recently cost her only means of income.

In slacks and a boxy sweater, the 45-year old Ms. Rindfleisch has a defeated tone but still sounds incredulous about the process that began with her looking for a job to pay the bills and ended with prosecutors turning her life into a “deterrent.” It’s a cautionary tale about what it’s like to get caught in the grinder of modern winner-take-all politics.

The story began in January 2010 when Ms. Rindfleisch was hired as a policy adviser for Mr. Walker’s Milwaukee County executive’s office. To make her mortgage payments, she took a second job as a part-time fundraiser for Mr. Davis. Mr. Walker was gearing up to run for governor in 2010 but endorsed no one for lieutenant governor.

Then in May 2010 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a story about Darlene Wink, a constituent-services coordinator in the county executive’s office who had posted pro-Walker comments on the newspaper’s website. Investigators from the district attorney’s office soon seized documents and a computer from Ms. Wink’s office.

Affidavits in support of search warrants that we’ve seen from that period show that prosecutors and chief investigator David Budde used this as an opening to investigate others who had corresponded with Ms. Wink. Eventually they happened onto a senior aide to Mr. Walker, Tim Russell, and his correspondence with Ms. Rindfleisch.

On Nov. 1, 2010, the day before Mr. Walker was elected governor, investigators from the D.A.’s office, including Mr. Budde, returned with a warrant for the office computer’s hard drives. “Our chief of staff wasn’t there so I was the one who had to deal with it,” Ms. Rindfleisch says.

Investigators told her they were looking into her work for Mr. Davis and had search warrants for her house and car. “I said I needed to contact county corporation counsel and they wouldn’t let me. . . . I assume that they’re using the John Doe secrecy order to justify that.” Under Wisconsin law a John Doe is a kind of grand jury probe bound by secrecy, though somehow details about the targets always seem to leak. (It was widely reported in 2012 that Mr. Budde had a Recall Walker sign in his front yard.)

“They took away my phone and kept me in my office against my will” while taking the computers, Ms. Rindfleisch says. One investigator, Bob Stelter, “pulled me into the room and told me how much trouble I was in.”

She soon learned the issue was her fundraising work for Mr. Davis. Though she had not used county resources—she used her personal computer, personal phone and email accounts to do the fundraising—she didn’t always leave the building. “For me, it didn’t make sense to take five minutes to get outside to respond to an email for 30 seconds and then spend another five minutes to get back inside,” she says. “The only thing I was using was time.”

Though her hours were supposed to be 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., she says she never left at 4 p.m. and averaged 9-10 hours a day in the office. According to prosecutors, her work for Mr. Davis was perfectly legal but her presence in a government building when she sent the emails was a felony. With that threat dangling, the D.A.’s office gave Ms. Rindfleisch immunity to talk about anything related to Mr. Walker and told her that investigators would “look favorably” if she cooperated.

“I had answered all their questions truthfully and provided any factual information I had knowledge of,” Ms. Rindfleisch says, but they kept asking the same questions and intimating that she was holding back. “In one of the interrogations, they had the gall to bring up my dad. . . . They were going through my emails, and my dad’s obituary was in there. . . . I wanted to say, my dad would be disgusted by what you are doing, that you are destroying everything he put his life on the line for” fighting in World War II.

As an older single woman, Ms. Rindfleisch says, prosecutors may have seen her as an “easy target” who could be pressured to implicate others. “I know who they were targeting. They were targeting Tim Russell, Jim Villa and John Hiller who were the three closest to the governor. . . . I felt they were trying to intimidate me into providing speculation that would implicate [them] in some wrongdoing. But I didn’t have any knowledge of anything they’ve done wrong.”

When her cooperation produced nothing against Mr. Walker, Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm charged Ms. Rindfleisch in January 2012 with four felony counts of misconduct in public office. “I had been told again and again and again that if I cooperated they would look favorably on this. And instead they charged me with four felonies that could have amounted to 12 and a half years in prison.”

Fundraising in a public building is a misdemeanor under section 11.36 of the Wisconsin criminal code. But in Ms. Rindfleisch’s case, prosecutors opted for the much less specific misconduct charge in order to convict her of a felony. Section 946.12 of state law bars public officials from acting in a way that is contrary to their duties and confers a “dishonest advantage” on themselves or others.

By then the political environment was vicious. Wisconsin was inflamed over Mr. Walker’s union reforms and election recall fervor was at its peak. “One of the Madison stations broadcast my address and this was at the height of the recall and they were trying to get signatures,” she says. She was unable to pay her legal bills.

“I was in a deep, deep depression,” Ms. Rindfleisch says. “I knew I wouldn’t make it through [a trial], having to sit there and listen to people talk about me, and I knew that emotionally I couldn’t do it. So Frank [Gimbel, her lawyer] got me the best deal he could,” pleading no contest to one felony. At her plea hearing, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Hansher would only accept the deal with a guilty plea. “The judge sentenced me to [six months in] jail and three years probation, which is completely inconsistent with what other people have been sentenced to.”

It was, however, consistent with what prosecutors requested in a sentencing memo written by assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf. Like many criminal defendants, Ms. Rindfleisch had “positive aspects of her life,” he wrote, but with the exception of a minor detail she “provided no information deemed useful by prosecutors.” While that doesn’t mean she was untruthful, he continued, “it is my judgment that her loyalties rested and continue to rest” with the Republican Party and Friends of Scott Walker.

The memo asked the judge not to be swayed by Ms. Rindfleisch’s good character, but to see her work as an “aggravated offense” that “is properly addressed with a jail sentence as a condition of probation.” “Deterrence,” he added, “is a key component” of her sentence.

At the sentencing hearing, Mr. Landgraf spent most of his time discussing issues unrelated to her charges—spending over an hour on a 78-page slideshow largely composed of emails and other allegations of coordination between the county executive’s office and the Scott Walker for Governor campaign. No charges were ever filed against Ms. Rindfleisch related to her communications with the Walker campaign.

As for residual loyalty with Mr. Walker and the GOP, there’s no evidence of that. Mr. Walker has declined multiple opportunities to speak on Ms. Rindfleisch’s behalf, and her former colleagues have been similarly silent.

“I liquidated my entire retirement, $75,000, to pay part of my legal fees,” she says, and she now owes thousands of dollars in taxes on the money she withdrew. She asked Phil Prange, a friend and fundraiser for former Gov. Tommy Thompson, for help with a legal defense fund, but prosecutors heard about it and called to ask him about it. After that, there was no more help. “They cut off any means I had of being able to pay for those bills . . . They did everything they could to financially devastate me,” she says. (Mr. Prange declined to comment.)

And they’re still doing it. In February, prosecutors disclosed her as a target of the current John Doe investigation by failing to redact her initials (as well as those of Wisconsin Club for Growth director Eric O’Keefe ) on court documents. If this was an accident, it also conveniently exposed two of the prosecutors’ main political targets. Despite her plea deal, Ms. Rindfleisch has the right to challenge the process used for evidence gathering and she is now appealing her conviction on grounds that the search warrants were overly broad. Mr. O’Keefe has spoken out against the current Doe investigation in statements to this newspaper.

Last month, a court released some 27,000 pages of Ms. Rindfleisch’s personal emails at the request of Wisconsin media outlets. That exposed thousands of personal emails irrelevant to any public interest in the case, further isolated her from friends and made it impossible for her to get a job. When the news of the second John Doe probe broke, the man she had been working for doing online marketing stopped returning her calls. She worries about defaulting on her mortgage. Her probation officer has asked if she has considered changing her name.

Ms. Rindfleisch realizes she is taking a risk in speaking publicly about her case. “I have no doubt there will be repercussions for me for talking. They’ll figure out a way to do it. But it’s going to be harder for them to try to do that. If they put me in jail at least people will know exactly what they are doing,” she says, referring to reprisals by prosecutors.

“I’m not telling my story to help [Scott Walker], or to hurt him,” she adds. “I don’t care who is doing it, the right or the left. I don’t want this to happen to anyone. I’m hoping that by telling my story I can wake people up to realize what’s happening.”

Ms. Levy is a senior editorial writer for the Journal who has been following the John Doe investigations in Wisconsin.

I truly believe that before we get on our high horse about Putin or anybody else, we ought to take a look in the mirror.

– Aggie

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Liberal Fascist Professor Wants Climate Deniers In Jail

This will happen someday.

The importance of clearly communicating science to the public should not be underestimated. Accurately understanding our natural environment and sharing that information can be a matter of life or death. When it comes to global warming, much of the public remains in denial about a set of facts that the majority of scientists clearly agree on. With such high stakes, an organised campaign funding misinformation ought to be considered criminally negligent.


Many scientists recognize these civic and moral obligations. Climatologist Michael Mann is a good example; Mann has recently made the case for public engagement in a powerful New York Times opinion piece: If You See Something Say Something.

[Here he is discussing the Italian earthquake in 2009, in which scientists were imprisoned for failing to warn the public that a devastating earthquake was possible – Aggie]
If those with a financial or political interest in inaction had funded an organised campaign to discredit the consensus findings of seismology, and for that reason no preparations were made, then many of us would agree that the financiers of the denialist campaign were criminally responsible for the consequences of that campaign. I submit that this is just what is happening with the current, well documented funding of global warming denialism.

More deaths can already be attributed to climate change than the L’Aquila earthquake and we can be certain that deaths from climate change will continue to rise with global warming. Nonetheless, climate denial remains a serious deterrent against meaningful political action in the very countries most responsible for the crisis.

Climate denial funding

We have good reason to consider the funding of climate denial to be criminally and morally negligent. The charge of criminal and moral negligence ought to extend to all activities of the climate deniers who receive funding as part of a sustained campaign to undermine the public’s understanding of scientific consensus.

Criminal negligence is normally understood to result from failures to avoid reasonably foreseeable harms, or the threat of harms to public safety, consequent of certain activities. Those funding climate denial campaigns can reasonably predict the public’s diminished ability to respond to climate change as a result of their behaviour. Indeed, public uncertainty regarding climate science, and the resulting failure to respond to climate change, is the intentional aim of politically and financially motivated denialists.

My argument probably raises an understandable, if misguided, concern regarding free speech. We must make the critical distinction between the protected voicing of one’s unpopular beliefs, and the funding of a strategically organised campaign to undermine the public’s ability to develop and voice informed opinions. Protecting the latter as a form of free speech stretches the definition of free speech to a degree that undermines the very concept.

What are we to make of those behind the well documented corporate funding of global warming denial? Those who purposefully strive to make sure “inexact, incomplete and contradictory information” is given to the public? I believe we understand them correctly when we know them to be not only corrupt and deceitful, but criminally negligent in their willful disregard for human life. It is time for modern societies to interpret and update their legal systems accordingly.

We are turning into a fable about a society that destroyed itself through its own stupidity. The Little Red Hen or something out of Aesop. Just imagine a professor writing something from a conservative perspective (I know – that will never happen) and suggesting that the other guys be tossed in jail. We are living the Salem With Trials. I keep assuming that this craziness will pass, but I have had to accept that it won’t until things get even crazier.

– Aggie

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Nice T*ts

That’s not me talking; it’s Edward Snowden.

You should be flattered:

A British spy agency collected millions of still images while eavesdropping on Yahoo webcam chats by citizens of the U.K., the U.S. and other countries, according to a new report Thursday.

Citing documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the Guardian reports that the British program known as “Optic Nerve” was designed to test and improve the agency’s facial recognition software capabilities. According to the documents, the British spy agency GCHQ snooped on “unselected” Yahoo users—that is, people who were spied on at random regardless of whether or not they were suspected of any wrongdoing—during webcam chats and took millions of still shots at five-minute intervals. The GCHQ does not have the technical capability to ensure that no images of British or American citizens were included in the bulk collection, the Guardian reports, and proper legal authorization is required for GCHQ to conduct data searches on people likely to be in the U.K. at the time.

In sorting through the massive amount of information it collected starting in 2008, when Optic Nerve first launched as a prototype program, U.K. spies were met with an explicit challenge: pornography

“Unfortunately, it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person,” one document leaked by Snowden says. “Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography.”

I’m sorry, is that wrong?

But it ain’t just British spooks:

The British surveillance agency GCHQ and the United States National Security Agency (NSA) have intercepted and stored webcam images of millions of users worldwide of the online news and social networking provider Yahoo.

Obama didn’t begin this massive violation of privacy, but it’s all his now. And he’s done so little about it, it makes me wonder what movies he’s showing in the White House screening room.

Untitled

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