Our reporting on justice issues in Alabama and beyond has drawn the attention of national Web sites in recent days.
New York-based Above the Law (ATL), which might be the nation's most widely read legal Web site, yesterday highlighted our post on Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance Jr. and the $25-million federal lawsuit pending against him. An item on the Vance case was included in ATL's "Non Sequitirs," a daily roundup of unusual legal news.
The day before, the Philadelphia-based progressive Web site OpEd News (OEN) included an interview with yours truly about President Obama's reaction to the IRS scandal. Joan Brunwasser, who I consider one of the finest interviewers in the progressive blogosphere, focused on Obama's outrage over the IRS's targeting of conservative groups compared to his apparent unconcern about Justice Department abuses, such as the political prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Brunwasser's piece is titled "Obama A Big Hypocrite? Ask Legal Schnauzer, Roger Shuler."
Today, Debra J. Saunders, of the San Francisco Chronicle, cites our work while examining Eric Holder's sorry performance in a piece at sfgate.com. The Saunders piece is titled "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Attorney General."
Our blog has enjoyed a substantial national (even international) audience for several years, but it is particularly gratifying to have fellow journalists take note of our work--and the role that activities in Alabama play on the big legal stage.
Above the Law is the brainchild of Yale law graduate David Lat, who has found a sizable audience for his site's snarky, gossipy, insider take on the world of law. Here is ATL's take on the Vance lawsuit:
Alabama judge faces $25 million lawsuit alleging he improperly took a case from another judge and issued damaging rulings. This is the judge who ran against Chief Justice Roy “Don’t Remove the Ten Commandments From the Courthouse” Moore. The moral of the story is: don’t use the Alabama judicial system. [Legal Schnauzer]
Unfortunately, for those of us who live in "The Heart of Dixie," the Alabama legal system is the only one we have.
At OpEd News, Brunwasser and I take a big-picture view at Obama's response to the notion that government agencies target certain individuals and groups for political reasons. Brunwasser asked what bothered me about Obama's reaction to the IRS scandal, and here is part of my response:
In early January 2009, just a few days before he took office, President-Elect Obama said he intended to "look forward, as opposed to looking backwards" on apparent crimes under the Bush administration. As president, Obama seems to have followed through on that pledge because his Justice Department has failed to review political prosecutions such as the one involving former Governor Don Siegelman in Alabama, where I live.
Political prosecutions, of course, were just of one of many improper acts on the justice front during the Bush years--torture, warrantless wiretapping, firings of U.S. attorneys were among the others. In essence, Obama issued a decree that no one would be held accountable for those acts.
Obama's "look forward" statement made no sense at the time, and it makes even less sense now, coming after he expressed outrage the other day over disclosures about the IRS targeting conservative groups for political reasons. Obama said in a news conference that he would not "tolerate" such actions, that wrongdoers must be held "accountable," and the problem must be "fixed."
But his inaction toward the DOJ shows that he will tolerate the targeting of political opponents, that he will not hold individuals accountable for such actions, and he will not take steps to fix the problem. Obama was uttering empty words at his press conference about the IRS. Many of us expect that from a Republican chief executive; we should demand better from a Democrat.
Are there signs of hope for those who want the Obama administration to address DOJ abuses? I struggled to find any:
I don't believe progress will be made until the Obama DOJ grows a spine and initiates an investigation of the Siegelman case and other Bush-era political prosecutions. Pardoning Don Siegelman would be a positive step. But we cannot allow such manipulation of our justice apparatus to remain unaddressed. If Obama leaves office with these issues still hanging, he has been a failure, in my view.
Also, this could wind up at Obama's doorstep someday. He has appointed any number of large donors to ambassadorships and such. Once he's out of office, a Republican DOJ could claim that appointments involved "inferred quid pro quos," and Obama and those donors could be at huge risk. The president ignores this issue at his own peril.
More importantly, it imperils the Democrat Party. Are candidates and donors going to get involved if they know they might wind up in federal prison for engaging in standard political behavior? The Siegelman case already has had a chilling effect here in Alabama. Many statewide offices no longer attract a serious Democratic candidate. If political prosecutions are allowed to stand, look for that trend to spread to other states.
Meanwhile, Debra J. Saunders calls Eric Holder "President Obama's worst appointment"--and we certainly agree with that assessment. From the Saunders piece:
Attorney General Eric Holder is President Obama’s worst appointment. Holder started out with baggage — the Clinton pardons of Marc Rich and unrepentant Puerto Rican terrorists. With the media leak investigations, he is carrying more baggage. And Holder’s load is likely to become heavier.
Nonetheless, the president told reporters last week, Holder has Obama's full support.
Debra J. Saunders
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., questioned Holder about the pardon process as he urged the AG to consider pardoning former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Roger Shuler of the Legal Schnauzer blog reports on the issue here. There’s some political risk in pushing for a pardon for a fellow politician, but Cohen has bipartisan cover. And the exchange shows the pressure that will be brought to bear on the president as he is about to leave office.
Will Obama decide he wants to commute and pardon politically-connected offenders? Or will he continue to use this presidential power sparingly?
Saunders explores those issues in a piece titled "Obama Is Stingy With His Pardons." It's important reading for all of us who have closely followed the Don Siegelman saga.
Let me be the first to congratulate and commend you for your courage and to thank you for being the media we wish we had in Alabama instead of the Alabama media we have.
Congrats, Roger. Your work deserves a wide audience.
I became a Joan Brunwasser fan after reading your post about her a few weeks back. Thanks for turning me on to Joan B and OpEd News. Both are terrific.
The Schnauzer's bark is being heard. Bravo!
Not only is Holder Obama's worst appointment, he might be the worst AG in nation's history, especially when you consider the mess he inherited and has refused to clean up.
Debra Saunders might be a "token conservative," but I certainly appreciate her interest in the Siegelman case.
Eric Holder been blackmailed by Karl Rove and will anything to help Don Siegelman period.
Would love to know what Rove has on Holder and/or Obama. I bet there is something. Do you remember the reports about Bush admin, in its last days, using FBI to get dirt on Obama and associates? I bet that story is on target, and I bet Rove did get some sleaze from that little operation.
Nice going, Roger!
LS have you looked at the form 990 for Alabama Policy Institute for 2012 (filed then for the 2011 calendar year)? It may just show that Gary Palmer is paying for (or passing payments through to) yellowhubbardpolitics.com . .err . .make that YELLOWHAMMERPOLITICS.COM . . .there is a payment for an "investiagtive reporter" in there . . .why does a "nonpartisan" nonprofit need to pay for an "investigative reporter?"
Anon at 2:13--
Some excellent snooping on your part. No, I haven't seen the 990 for Alabama Policy Institute, but you ask a heckuva a question: Why would this nonpartisan, nonprofit need to pay an investigative reporter? Does it say how much they paid for said services?
Great Journalistic Reporting, especially the deep investigative that can't be disputed because of the obvious ~truth fact checked.
Do the confident, such as Yogi Berra, say it for you Roger?
"... If it is the truth it ain't braggin ...."
You are recognized because you're top dog in the junk yard and the top dogs in the real law are in honor of truth written well and the rule, letter, spirit of the law blessing real justice, too.
Irony makes this a better sell anyways Roger. What do you say?
LS: Do you think Rove could have uncovered Obama's homosexual relationship with Rahm Emanuel?
Anon at 5:51--
I didn't know Obama had a homosexual relationship with Rahm Emanuel. But I wouldn't be surprised if the FBI or someone privately uncovered something about Obama, Holder, Emanuel that is serious enough to make sure the boat doesn't start rocking in BushLand.
API's 2012 990
Well, that's interesting. They paid $17,344 for an investigative reporter. Hmmm. Not sure what to make of this info.
And "e.f.a." thinks all Eric Holder has in his closet are clothes.
LS is anon hinting to that "investigative reporter" being you? Do tell. Is it you?
I think Anon is hinting that the "investigative reporter" is Cliff Sims of Yellowhammer Politics. It definitely isn't me. The organization in question is a right-wing outfit, so I'm sure they would not be interested in having me as an investigative reporter.
My understanding is Justice Richard Sanders in the State of Washington uncovered that Obama is a FRAUD. At this time there is a mad scramble to figure out what is going to happen next.
Justice Sanders wasn't hired to uncover the cover up.
He was formerly a Supreme Court Justice for the State of Washington, and when the ballot found a demand for Obama to prove he has the right to be in the position he is in as POTUS, uh oh.
The woman who did her best to ask the proper question: Do you, Mr. ? named Obama, have a right to be on the ballot in the State of Washington? She was sanctioned for doing her civic duty. Justice Sanders knew it didn’t cost what the State Attorney General was going for in sanctions and he said so, and took the case: “It’s time to fight”, he has said, thankfully. He has a facebook page where the story has been told, I do believe.
Rahm Emanuel and whatever moves. He is a 'sensualist' as the saying goes, anything that gets his pecker up and Obama, Nancy Pelosi, whatever he can do to be keeper of the lies.
Michelle demanded he leave the White House, Rahm. He was actually living there with his main squeeze, Obama.
Monarch Slaves always have 'handlers', this is what the conspiracy theorists say.
e.a.f. hates me now for sure.
sent an email hope it gets to you, just a draft, but could be a thumbnail for your work, jpeg "Roaches In Robes"
a good luck onward and upward,
If API is quietly paying Mike Hubbard's mouthpiece (Cliffy Sims) then they are surely violating their "nonpartisan" tax-exempt status . . .but what else is new. They do that every single day.
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