Justice DeLay-ed, not denied

It ought to be a somber moment when a man who was once a high-ranking member of the leadership of our nation’s Congress is convicted of a high crime for his actions while in office, and it would have been in a more innocent day.  But on this day, I admit to being downright giddy that Tom DeLay—the Hammer—once my representative in the United States Congress—was nailed by a jury in Austin, Texas for violating our state’s election laws.

I don’t mean just that I was pleased Delay Trial because someone who broke the law was convicted of the offense; we all should take comfort when the system shows that the powerful are not above the law.  I mean, I was gleeful to hear that this particular sanctimonious, obnoxious, slimy, dishonest bully was finally getting what he deserved.   His wife and daughter seem to understand the seriousness of his predicament: not satisfied with mere victory at the polls, he engineered an illegal money-laundering plot to ensure partisan victory into the next generation—and that was before the Citizens United decision would have made it so easy to avoid prosecution for corrupting the process.

Schadenfreude?  You bet your ass.

The guy who forced a redistricting of the just-completed redistricting in order to secure a Republican majority that was already without doubt, is now a convicted felon?  Excellent.  The guy who insisted that lobbying firms fire every Democrat on the payroll in order to play ball with the Republicans in power, will now carry the stain of criminality for the rest of his life?  Perfect.  The guy who threatened that judges would become political targets if they couldn’t see their way clear to ignore the law to advance his partisan agenda?  Outstanding!

Sentencing comes in December so we don’t know yet if he’ll actually go to prison, but there’s hope, America…don’t give up hope.

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The gentleman from Pearland yields…

…to the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist from The Washington Post, Tom Toles:

Toles on Citizens

Friday rant, Declaration of Incoherence edition

Apparently now we not only hold SOME truths to be self-evident, but also just about ANY POSITION we happen to prefer. It’s pretty self-evident that Obama is not a U.S. citizen because we don’t like him. It’s clear that he wants to take everybody’s guns away because that’s what a president who isn’t a real citizen would do. He’s somehow against white people because he just MUST be. The economic rescue package didn’t do any good because it was Democrats spending money. It’s Democrats who are the worse deficit offenders because Republicans keep saying so. Tax cuts pay for themselves because we don’t like taxes. Climate change is a hoax because we don’t like the implications.

Even the most cursory examination of evidence is now too much to ask. Climate change deniers continue to send me their strange little clutch of misleading factoids and sly questions as if I had never seen that stuff before. But it’s pretty clear that they have not themselves read the overwhelming case for climate change, or simply are unable to evaluate or even grasp the concept of PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE. It’s not that the political spectrum drifts left or right, it’s that’s it is cascading into absolute fantasy. It is impossible to engage in debate with these strange fevers, because they emanate from HOT HEADS. Excuse the cold water, but all opinions are NOT created equal.

Somewhere (perhaps in Miami) Leonard Pitts, Jr. is smiling.

I agree with Scalia—I know, it surprised me, too!

Doe v. Reed was the last case the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments on before the end of the term: should your signature on a ballot petition be allowed to be kept secret.  In her report on the oral arguments legal analyst Dahlia Lithwick noted that Justice Antonin Scalia appeared to believe it should not be when he argued

…you can’t run a democracy this way, with everybody being afraid of having his political positions known.

I agree, and this week the court ruled 8-to-1 against the plaintiffs; Justice Clarence Thomas was the man Choire Sicha identifies as the only person “brave enough to protect bigots from angry gays.”

I was thinking that it seemed cowardly for people concerned enough about the all-but-marriage law in Washington to sign the petition to overturn it but then seek to hide their involvement.  If people want to take the job of writing laws into their own hands, well, OK…we do have elected representatives to do that for us, so initiative or referendum already smells a little like “sore loser at work,” but OK.

But then, having undertaken that effort, to then say that you shouldn’t be publicly identified as having supported the effort—to keep from being harassed because of your beliefs—just seems cowardly.

You want to participate?  Great!  Just remember, don’t bring a pocketknife to a gunfight, and if you want to win the pot, you’ve got to show your hand when it’s called.

Yes, some people will say bad things about you…offer mean opinions of your cognitive skills…sling epithets.  Get over it.  Hiding from confrontation, or even discussion, about differing opinions just reinforces the poisonous political atmosphere.

But consider, it apparently is a First Amendment protection to have your political participation kept anonymous in some instances, like a secret ballot.  The Supremes left open the opportunity for the plaintiffs in Doe to get what they want from a lower court.

Here’s what’s more concerning: in a report on the growing fear of intimidation for voicing unpopular positions, Lithwick discusses the possible application of this idea to political participation in the form of financial contributions to campaigns.  Yep: hiding from public view the identities of people who give campaign money to our representatives.  Imagine that, on top of the Citizens United v. FEC decision that has given corporations the same right to donate money as is already enjoyed by actual real human people.

So, are you OK with letting companies make unlimited campaign contributions, in secret?  I’m waiting for my buddy Scalia to jump on that one.