Daily Archives: December 1, 2010

This is One of the Biggest Stories in History (Update)

And it is clearly the biggest “economic” news, by far, ever.  Dwarfs the stories about the Great Depression.  It’s so big, I don’t expect the MSM will ever really report on it.  It’s incomprehensible to them.

The Federal Reserve, which I think has been under pressure to do so from a lawsuit (more on that later, probably) has disclosed its “emergency lending” activities in the wake of the 2008 debacle.

Included in the data are hundreds of billions of purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS’s) from various “primary dealers” (government privileged banks and lenders) – which is kind of unsurprising to those who have been paying attention – and…hold on to your hats….$8 trillion in loans to the European Central Bank.

That’s $8 trillion, with a ‘t’.  If that’s really true, I mean if it’s confirmed and not just some kind of misprint. or. something.  I don’t know, I’m just speechless.

The guys over at Zero Hedge will be dissecting this stuff for a while, so I recommend you read that blog often.

Mind-numbing.  That’s all I can say.  For now, anyway.

UPDATE:  Drudge, citing this link, reports that the US will “bailout” the EU.  I think the US already did.  Nothing they could do from here could significantly add to what has already happened.

TENTATIVE CORRECTION:  While the Zero Hedge article referred to “loans” to the ECB in an “emergency”, it is more likely that the $8 trillion figure is related to day to day liquidity swaps that are used to clear financial transactions.  Doesn’t change the nature of the story overall, it’s still the Hugest Most Humongous Thing.  I’ll continue to review the data and reports about the data as we go along.

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Filed under financial crisis, Judicial lying/cheating

The Jury Pool (Update)(x2)

Bennett comes up with a great question for a juror questionnaire:

“The government should do whatever it takes to [solve the problem of the day]. Strongly agree / Agree / Disagree / Strongly Disagree?”

This perhaps puts the coda to his many recent posts about TSA privacy infringement.

I don’t know specifically about Texas, where Bennett is, but in most places the pool of potential jurors is taken from voter rolls.  Voters are the roughly one-half of the adult population that harbors an abiding faith in government, albeit with varying degrees of fervency.  It’s one reason juries are so inclined to convict in criminal cases.

For criminal defense lawyers it’s a really good thing to get issues like that out in the open during jury selection.  But it would be important to keep in mind that you can’t brow beat the potential jurors with libertarian ideas to which they are, through years of thought habits, somewhat unreceptive. You can’t undo years of programming in a few days.

But you get it out there, you talk about it, you plant a seed.  And then you try the case and hope for the best.

In any case, it’s a very intelligent proposal for a juror question.

UPDATE:  Norm Pattis has a cool post about the whole Steven Hayes thing in Connecticut.  So true to point out that middle class white victims = trial of the century; but a black kid getting murdered doesn’t generate much copy in the MSM.  Or have too much significance in the minds of jurors, either.

UPDATE II:  I wonder if Bennett worries that by discussing jury selection strategy and tactics under his own name he might be prejudicing future clients.  As in, next time he goes to pick a jury one of them googles him and sees what he’s up to and what he thinks about it, and doesn’t care for his opinion.  But Bennett has a reflexive, and frankly not very rational, hostility to online anonymity.

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Some Historical Bromides Reconsidered Through Mort Zuckerman & USNWR

Via Drudge and US News & World Report, Mort Zuckerman says western civilization is almost done.  Who knew?

First, he gives a little very cursory history:

“The modern world has for centuries been dominated economically, intellectually, and physically by the civilization that arose in Western Europe in the wake of the Renaissance and Reformation and spread across the Atlantic.”

An historian Zuckerman is not.  The “civilization that arose in western Europe” and “dominated”, blah blah, existed before the Renaissance and the Reformation.  It would be fairer to say that it “arose” out of the ruins of Rome.  This was so commonly understood as recently as, say, 70 years ago that all higher learning (meaning after grade school), everywhere in Europe and even in the US required a working knowledge of Latin – a long dead language – for the simple reason that it had been the language of Rome.  It was a natural homage to our ancestry, and a reminder of the true roots of western civilization.  How soon we forget.

But I digress.

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As the SCOTUS goes…

so go the lower courts – but not in the way they’re supposed to.   Lower court fealty has nothing to do with case “law”.  It’s more like the way Hegel used to talk about the “weltgeist” and the “zeitgeist”, spirits that moved the times without explicit instruction.  Lower courts absorb the lessons as if by osmosis.

I’m not talking about legal precedent, in other words, which explicitly says this or that in words that every literate person can read; I’m talking about the unstated principles that seem to govern judicial behavior, but which could never be stated explicitly in a judicial opinion.  SCOTUS doesn’t say, and will never say, “we are hostile to the expansion of the rights of individuals against large institutional litigants like the government, insurance companies and banks.”  But it would be the truest statement they could make, the most reliable indicator of how cases will come out in that court, and the best way to describe how lower courts “follow” the Supreme Court.

They had a lively discussion over at Simple Justice the other day, prompted by a New York Times op-ed delving into the mind of recently retired SCOTUS Justice Stevens.  The NYT article is primarily focused on the death penalty. Greenfield at SJ and most of the comments focus on a perhaps larger problem of systemic integrity.  Scott lets loose a little:

“…we want to believe that the Supreme Court decides cases based upon reason and logic, with a bit of precedent thrown in for consistency.

To believe otherwise is to admit that we’re wasting our time playing this game.  It suggests that this is a big charade, spouting platitudes about the greatness of the system to men and women whose decisions were made long before we stepped foot in the courthouse.  If so, that really sucks…Us groundlings in the process want to believe that we can march over to the courthouse and, through the use of well reasoned, well documented, argument and proof persuade a judge to rule in our favor. “

Be careful of actually believing what you merely want to believe, Scott.  But it’s nice to see you wearing your heart on your sleeve once in a while.  Still, I’ve already dealt with this issue quite a bit; you’re a little behind the curve.

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Filed under Judicial lying/cheating