Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Great Gift 5/22/16 - A Dharma Talk

Monday, May 23, 2016

The US Justice Department Lies - and is caught by a Federal Judge. Guarding people from the guardians.

From  a recent court finding:

"To say that the Government acted contrary to its multiple assurances to this Court is, at best, an understatement. The Government knowingly acted contrary to its representations to this Court on over 100,000 occasions.
This Court finds that the misrepresentations detailed above: (1) were false; (2) were made in bad faith; and (3) misled both the Court and the Plaintiff States."


"Now, however, having studied the Government’s filings in this case, its admissions make one conclusion indisputably clear: the
Justice Department lawyers knew the true facts and misrepresented
those facts to the citizens of the 26 Plaintiff States, their lawyers and this Court on multiple occasions.

       The Government’s Explanation

The Government claims that the reason its lawyers were not candid with the Court was that they either “lost focus on the fact” or that somehow “the fact receded in memory or awareness.”

I wonder if any one can use this excuse with the government? 

For the full details of the lies, misrepresentations and worse, see the ruling cited below:

And here is the start of the court's remedy:

"hereby orders 

that any attorney employed at the Justice Department in Washington,
D.C. who appears, or seeks to appear, in a court (state or federal) in any of the 26 Plaintiff States annually attend a legal ethics course.
It shall be taught by at least one recognized ethics expert who is
unaffiliated with the Justice Department. At a minimum, this course (or courses) shall total at least three hours of ethics training per year.
The subject matter shall include a discussion of the ethical codes of
conduct (which will include candor to the court and truthfulness to third parties) applicable in that jurisdiction."

For the rest of the order see the above citations.

Here are some news reports and analysis of this case from across the political spectrum:

What can we learn from this, what can we clarify from this?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Much Ado About Nothing, Part B 5/15/16

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the people from the "guardian" governmental officials? Further IRS follies

"...despite the IRS’s claim that it got rid of its infamous targeting lists, there is “absolutely no showing” that the agency has in fact stopped using the underlying “criteria” that originally “identified and targeted for mistreatment based on political views.”

The hearing also showed the degree to which the IRS has doubled down on its outrageous revisionist history, and its excuses."

The hearing referred to is before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The paired cases in the hearing were Linchpins of Liberty, et al. v. United States of America, et al. and True the Vote Inc. v. Internal Revenue Service, et al.

"At one point, an incredulous Judge Sentelle (one of the Appeals Court Judges) noted that the IRS might be more believable if it had ever shown “a bit more contrition.” He said: “The Court would have to be awfully ignorant not to recognize that there has likely been an egregious violation of the First Amendment rights of American citizens by the IRS, and the IRS to this day seems very resistant to acknowledgment of that.”

An IRS lawyer rolled out the defense used by former agency official Lois Lerner that the targeting was just the unfortunate use of “inappropriate” criteria, but Judge Sentelle reminded the lawyer of the IRS’s vindictiveness. He noted that on one occasion the IRS simply shelved the application of an organization that had sued it. The agency “came to Court not having done anything to eliminate” the problem, he said, so “It’s just hard to find the IRS to be an agency we can trust, isn’t it?”

Judge Sentelle said there is a “pretty good case” that “egregious violations of the Constitution” had been committed, and he dared an IRS lawyer to “stand there with a straight face” and say otherwise. Judge Ginsburg, who spent the hearing catching out the IRS’s conflicting statements, at one point simply asked: “How much has really changed?”

For the full review of the particulars of this case see:

And for another recent Supreme Court decision against administrative abuses see the following ruling, this time against Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for abusive litigation,  EEOC having been called by some "government’s most abusive agency."

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that “it would make little sense if Congress’ policy of ‘sparing defendants from the costs of frivolous litigation’ depended on the distinction between merits-based and non-merits-based frivolity.”

Here are several reviews of this case:


Monday, May 16, 2016

Who Speaks For the Birds? Can we broaden our Bodhisattvic clarifications to ask, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the birds from the "guardian" governmental officials?

Our governmental officials are offering another instance of using, and abusing, their administrative power and going around the law passed by Congress and the rulings adjudicated by the federal courts.

Here are extensive extracts from an article which points out this instance of tendencies what I have previously called "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the people from the "guardian" governmental officials?", though in this case the people includes many beings, especially birds.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency charged with protecting bald and golden eagles, is once again trying to make it easier for the wind industry to kill those birds....

Two weeks ago the agency opened public comment on “proposed improvements” to its eagle conservation program. It wants to extend the length of permits for accidental eagle kills from the current five years to 30 years. The changes would allow wind-energy producers to kill or injure as many as 4,200 bald eagles every year. That’s a lot. The agency estimates there are now about 72,434 bald eagles in the continental U.S.
Let’s hope Judge Lucy H. Koh is keeping an eye out. Last August, Ms. Koh, a federal judge in California, shot down the Fish and Wildlife Service’s previous “improvements....”

...Judge Koh noted in her ruling, one of the agency’s own eagle program managers warned that 30-year permits are “inherently less protective” and “real, significant, and cumulative biological impacts will result.”

A 2013 study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin estimated that wind turbines killed about 888,000 bats and 573,000 birds (including 83,000 raptors) in 2012 alone. But wind capacity has since increased by about 24%, and it could triple by 2030 under the White House’s Clean Power Plan. We don’t really know how many birds are being killed now by wind turbines because the wind industry doesn’t have to report the data,” says Michael Hutchins of the American Bird Conservancy. “It’s considered a trade secret.”

The new rule could further harm golden eagles, which are rarer than bald eagles and are being whacked by wind turbines in far greater numbers. Mr. Hutchins says that the lack of protection for golden eagles is “the biggest weakness of this whole rule.”

The double standard is stunning. In 2011 the Fish and Wildlife Service convinced the Justice Department to file criminal indictments against three oil companies working in North Dakota’s Bakken field for inadvertently killing six ducks and one phoebe.

Now see how the agency treats wind: In 2013 it submitted to the Federal Register that “wind developers have informed the [Department of the Interior] and the Service that 5-year permits have inhibited their ability to obtain financing, and we changed the regulations to accommodate that need.”

Nine months after being rebuked by a federal judge, America’s top wildlife protector is still bending over backward to accommodate an industry that is killing iconic wildlife while at the same time collecting huge subsidies from taxpayers. If there’s a better example of regulatory capture and crony capitalism, I can’t think of one."

What can be our skillful Bodhisattvic responses to this? Might our actions include contacting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and commenting during its opened public comment period on “proposed improvements” to its eagle conservation program?