Taxpayers get to pay the price for official state bigotry

Two months after the U.S. Supreme Court ended the legal debate over gay marriage by declaring that the constitutionally protected civil right to marriage must be extended to same-sex couples nationwide, attorneys general and governors who fought it are receiving unpleasant souvenirs of failure: Invoices from the attorneys who beat them.

States that defended same-sex marriage bans — most did, to some extent — are now being asked to pay the legal fees for those litigants under a 40-year-old federal law that says the court “in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party … a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.”

Or as Michigan attorney Dana Nessel put it: “It’s the price governments pay for defending bigotry.”

Defeat won’t come cheap — or, in many cases, without further legal wrangling.

Michigan is weighing its response to a $1.9 million demand from attorneys for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, plaintiffs in one of the four cases that went to the Supreme Court and was decided in June. In Kentucky, another state involved in the Supreme Court showdown, the bill for services rendered is $2.1 million. South Carolina has been ordered to pay $130,000, and Florida’s attorney general is fighting a tab of about $700,000.

Several states have struck agreements already. Pennsylvania settled for $1.5 million, Wisconsin for $1.05 million, Virginia for $580,000, Oregon for $132,000, Colorado for $90,000, Utah for $95,000 and North Dakota for $58,000. The varying prices reflect the length of the battles or their intensity.

“This is exactly what Congress created this law for,” said Stephen Rosenthal, a Miami-based attorney who fought Florida’s ban. “It’s a recognition that people need lawyers to fight the government, which has lots of lawyers, when they feel their civil rights are being violated. To encourage lawyers to take these cases, you need to provide the potential to get paid in the end.”

The attorneys general of Michigan, Florida, South Carolina and South Dakota did not respond to requests for comment.

Sometimes the creeps who fight tooth-and-nail against progress get what they deserve. Taxpayers – who elected creeps to represent them – get to foot the bill.

Free rides for Rick Perry on corporate jets are just part of the job


Pilgrim Chickens on the left – with his favorite chicken plucker

On a July morning in 2008, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and several aides boarded a plane for Washington to lobby on ethanol use, an issue important to corn growers and livestock owners in his state.

The growers favored federal rules requiring the use of the corn-based fuel in gasoline, but beef and chicken suppliers said the rules would raise the price of feed stocks. Mr. Perry was firmly in the livestock camp, and he took his case straight to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, urging him to waive the ethanol mandate to lower the cost of corn.

While executives from the livestock industry did not attend Mr. Perry’s private meeting at the E.P.A., the governor would not have made it there without them — literally. The Hawker 800XP plane that Mr. Perry and his team flew from Austin to Washington and back was provided by Lonnie Pilgrim, one of the world’s largest chicken producers and a leading critic of the ethanol mandate…The poultry magnate also flew the governor to Washington in June to take part in a news conference on the issue.

The two trips, each valued at $9,179, were among more than 200 flights worth a total of $1.3 million that Mr. Perry has accepted — free — from corporate executives and wealthy donors during 11 years as governor, according to an analysis of Texas Ethics Commission records by The New York Times.

Although many of the trips were for political or ceremonial events — not unusual for elected officials — others involved governmental functions, including some that were of interest to the planes’ owners. As a result, a group of well-heeled businessmen has effectively helped underwrite some of Mr. Perry’s activities as governor.

The head of a Texas oil refinery spent almost $20,000 flying Mr. Perry and his staff to a trade meeting in Mexico, where the governor asked Mexican energy officials to consider more joint ventures with Texas oil companies. Other Texas business owners have paid Mr. Perry’s way to Washington to lobby on immigration, testify before Congress and meet with the homeland security secretary.

Mr. Perry’s travels adhere to Texas ethics laws, and he is far from alone in accepting gifts of air travel. But among politicians he stands out for taking private flights for activities that are considered part of his job as governor. That is different from campaign travel or the sort of quasi-official trips for which officeholders normally use private planes, like attending a conference or giving a speech.

Texas ethics laws, of course, is a contradiction in terms. Ethics has little or nothing to do how Rick Perry or pretty much any other Texan governs. Taking care of the Big Boys is what counts. The Texas legislature will make certain laws are bent, broken, or stapled together to allow for as much influence as “grassroots” organization like the Petroleum Club or Chickenpluckers International require.

RTFA for lots of details, anecdotes, the sort of corrupt practices considered trivial in Texas.

Criminal proceedings against Mozilo will be dropped

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have dropped their criminal investigation into Angelo R. Mozilo, the former chief executive of Countrywide Financial, once the nation’s largest mortgage lender…

The closure of the case after two years of inquiry follows last October’s settlement by Mr. Mozilo of insider trading allegations made by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Regulators had contended that Mr. Mozilo sold $140 million in Countrywide stock between 2006 and 2007 even as he recognized that his company was faltering. Countrywide and Bank of America paid $45 million of Mr. Mozilo’s $67.5 million settlement, and he was responsible for the rest.

Without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Mr. Mozilo agreed to be banned from serving as an officer or a director of a public company.

The conclusion by prosecutors that Mr. Mozilo, 72, did not engage in criminal conduct while directing Countrywide will likely fuel broad concerns that few high-level executives of financial companies are being held accountable for the actions that led to the financial crisis of 2008.

Hundreds of billions of dollars have been lost by investors while millions of borrowers have lost their homes. Few of the people who ran the institutions that contributed to the disaster have been found liable…

Even as criminal and civil prosecutors are closing investigations into financial executives, private litigation is swelling. Investors who purchased dubious mortgage securities are bringing a wide array of cases against mortgage lenders and the Wall Street firms that enabled them. These investors maintain, citing internal documents and e-mails, that those putting together mortgage securities knew that they contained problematic loans that would likely fail…

In his years at Countrywide, Mr. Mozilo became one of the highest-paid executives in America. From 2000 until 2008, when he left, Mr. Mozilo received total compensation of $521.5 million…

Mozilo received a pat on the butt and wall-to-wall money from Bank of America on his departure. A historically criminal act even if the Department of Justice and the SEC feel successful prosecution at this time is unlikely. The operative phrase being “at this time”.

As civil cases proceed, the Feds retain the right to acquire information from those lawsuits to predicate future criminal prosecution against this creep. Still, it’s a sad day when the attitudes, premises and culture of American jurisprudence continues to bend over backwards to avoid criminal proceedings against the greedy bastards who brought down this economic house of cards.

Archbishop says Brits should pick up the tab for Pope’s visit


“Cripes! Pat him on the head gently to wake him up – last time, he farted!”
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

UK taxpayers should help pay for the Pope’s trip to Britain, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has said.

Critics are angry that up to £12m is to come from the public purse. But Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols told the BBC it would be a “sad day” when the UK “closes its doors and says we can’t afford state visits”.

He also hinted the Pope may meet victims of the Catholic abuse scandal during this month’s four-day visit…

All he has to do is drop in at pretty much any Catholic Church and ask around.

This trip, which will also include events in London and Birmingham, will be the first ever official state visit to Britain by a serving Pontiff…

But Archbishop Nichols told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme it was right the taxpayer and the Church shared the bill because the Pope was coming at the invitation of the government.

Amazing piece of reasoning. Explained, I guess, by all the other rules of logic ignored or abused by Christian theologists.

This is the leader of probably the oldest international institution, that serves humanity in a tremendous way right around the globe…”

Earlier this week, an aide to Archbishop Nichols, Edmund Adamus, told Catholic news agency Zenit that Britain had become a “selfish, hedonistic wasteland”.

Maybe that’s why the Pope is coming to town? To get in on the hedonism.

Don’t piss off California cabbies!

LOS ANGELES — A taxi driver has been arrested after he allegedly rammed his cab into a home in the Cahuenga Pass over a fare dispute…

A honeymooning couple from Italy say the cabbie got lost several times during their trip from Beverly Hills.

After about 50 minutes, the couple reached their destination and disputed the $35 fare. They offered the cab driver $26 and some advice — get a GPS device.

As the husband and wife walked from the cab, they say they saw the taxi bearing down on them.

They moved out of the way, and the taxi crashed into the home just as a resident was opening the door, according to LAPD Officer Carter.

He crashed the car into the house. He tried to kill us,” the male passenger, Fabrizio Pasucci, said.

The cab driver, Robert Kazaryan, was taken into custody and was facing a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

He was being held on $30,000 bail.

A simple “Har!” will suffice.

Are you ready to include prayer in Health Care Reform?

A little-noticed measure would put Christian Science healing sessions on the same footing as clinical medicine. Critics say it violates the separation of church and state.

I wouldn’t use the word “critics”. How about people with a brain? How about Constitutionalist?

Reporting from Washington – Backed by some of the most powerful members of the Senate, a little-noticed provision in the healthcare overhaul bill would require insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments as medical expenses.

The provision was inserted by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) with the support of Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry and the late Edward M. Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, home to the headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist.

The measure would put Christian Science prayer treatments — which substitute for or supplement medical treatments — on the same footing as clinical medicine. While not mentioning the church by name, it would prohibit discrimination against “religious and spiritual healthcare.”

It would have a minor effect on the overall cost of the bill — Christian Science is a small church, and the prayer treatments can cost as little as $20 a day. But it has nevertheless stirred an intense controversy over the constitutional separation of church and state, and the possibility that other churches might seek reimbursements for so-called spiritual healing…

Dr. Norman Fost, a pediatrician and medical ethicist at the University of Wisconsin, said the measure went against the goal of reducing healthcare costs by improving evidence-based medical practices.

“They want a special exception for people who use unproved treatments, and they also want to get paid for it,” he said. “They want people who use prayer to have it just automatically accepted as a legitimate therapy.”

Let’s face it. The religious nutballs who dedicate their lives to bankrolls and political power will jump on this bandwagon like stink on a cesspool.