A Very Special Episode, Featuring Dave Chappelle, of the Unfolding Rep. Jefferson Scandal…

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So embattled, scandal-plagued Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) is feeling the love of congressional Republicans who are all a-titter over what The Hill calls the "the first-time-ever search of a sitting congressman's office."

Here's a long story about it and the possible separation of powers issues that it raises (or not), which are serious and important. And then there's improbable cameo during a press conference by Jefferson:

In a surreal moment at Jefferson's news conference, entertainer Dave Chappelle wandered through, having just come from Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union, where he does his banking. The comedian signed a few autographs before moving on.

End times? Or just good times? It's tough to tell anymore. More here.

NEXT: X-Men Confidential (Less Than Excelsior Edition)

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  1. I love how we finally get bipartisan opposition to searches by law enforcement…when those searches are part of a bribery investigation.

    I dunno enough details to say if they have a reasonable complaint, but doesn’t it just figure that all 535 of them would oppose attempts to investigate bribery?

  2. oppose attempts to investigate bribery

    I read the wiki on this guy Jefferson, T. They say that he did not take the money in exchange for any specific vote of specific result. As you probably know, I have asked HnR what “bribery” means here at HnR a couple of times. The responders (not u in particular) say that bribery should require the promise of a specific result or vote.

    In other words, no room for the HnR crew to get on a high horse here. Under the prevailing HnR view, there was no bribery, and that delegitimizes the entire search.

    My recommendation: the HnR crew (Jersey and joe and the Reasonwriters excepted) should take a pause here to reconsider what bribery *really* is.

  3. “the first-time-ever search of a sitting congressman’s office.”

    Did they shoot his dog? They usually do that.

  4. Dave – I love it!

    JMJ

  5. Get a room, boys.

  6. Well, someone needs to let the FBI know that Wikipedia has all the answers on this case, so they can save time and money on the investigation.

    And Dave, if you can point out where any Reason commenter other than a troll EVER said that a Congressman taking money from one party to be given to another party to ensure that contracts be given to his campaign contributors wasn’t corruption, please do.

    And JMJ, you sure are a cheap date, if Dave W’s little comment was enough to get you so excited.

  7. to ensure that contracts be given to his campaign contributors wasn’t corruption

    My point is that is not what Jefferson did. Judging from the Wiki it appears he took the money in order to carefully consider the (sting) contractors product and to recommend it, as appropriate, in accordance with the excercise of his best independent judgment and best interests of his constituents.

    Where’s the harm in that? Reasonwriters go through a similar process everyday.

  8. Oh, am I going to regret this …

    Dave, please tell us what bribery really is.

  9. Dave W:

    As far as the definition of bribery, I don’t care because, when it comes to corruption, politicans should be presumed guilty until proven innocent.

    Seriously though, I think it’s is fun/horrible to watch people who have authorized raids on private companies, citizens, etc., yet when it happens to one of their own, they get all up in arms.

  10. Since the omniscient Wikipedia knows all…

    On July 30, 2005, he was caught on video tape by the FBI accepting a $100,000 dollar bribe in $100 dollar bills in a leather briefcase at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington.[9] Jefferson told an investor, Lori Mody, who was wearing a wire, that he would need to give Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar $500,000 “as a motivating factor” to make sure they obtained contracts for iGate and Mody’s company in Nigeria.

    That shares little reality with your interpretation, Dave.

  11. My guess is that Reason writers don’t hide the (cash) money in their freezers, though. I guess you could write that off as eccentricity, but it sure smacks of a guilty conscience to me.

  12. Jason Ligon,

    It depends on how it is legally defined.

  13. I think this is great. Let the jackboots storm into Congressional offices instead of picking on regular schmucks. Hell, let the tanks roll in front of the Capital Building.

    Congress can retaliate, in the short term, with their capital police force. Later, they can conscript a Congressional army to lay siege on the White House.

    The Supremes will have their own secret security force, and concentrate on sabotage if one side gets too powerful.

    And then we can have TRUE separation of powers…

  14. I have asked that at HnR a couple of times precisely because I do not know.

    The best approach my mind can think of to solving the problem is to make all the financial transactions with politicians transparent and then let the voters decide what they think is copacetic. The transparency is key.

    But don’t let this krazay proposal distract from the important point here: HnR needs to rethink what bribery is and isn’t, so they can let me know. The answers I got here in 2005-2006 were woefully underinclusive.

  15. My guess is that Reason writers don’t hide the (cash) money in their freezers

    You put your weed in there!

  16. You know, I haven’t followed the case. I don’t know what he did or didn’t do and whether the allegations, even if true, rise to the level of bribery.

    I just think it’s funny that as soon as a Congressman is accused of bribery they’re all like “FBI going through people’s stuff!?!?!? That ain’t right!”

    This guy could be totally innocent for all I know. I just find it amusing that it took a bribery allegation to bring Congress together.

  17. While wiki might have conflicting info about Jeffie, his MySpace account proves conclusively that he didn’t break any laws, meant no harm and was only in the freezer to cool down before it got sent to the really hot Africa to help kids with AIDS as directed by BONO. Case Closed.

  18. Let’s break it down, then:

    On July 30, 2005, he was caught on video tape by the FBI accepting a $100,000 dollar bribe

    I don’t think any bribery has been admitted. The use of the word “bribery” seems conclusive here and not considered. the Wiki should probably say “alleged bribery.” That is the traditional courtesy in the world of print media.

    in $100 dollar bills in a leather briefcase at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington.

    So the Congressman wants to be discreet in his business dealing. No rule against hiding business transactions just because they might turn out to be politically embarrassing. I think there should be a rule about this (see my previous response). Are you saying that there should be a rule against otherwise legal cash transactions done outside the public eye? I would like it if you did.

    Jefferson told an investor, Lori Mody, who was wearing a wire, that he would need to give Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar $500,000 “as a motivating factor” to make sure they obtained contracts for iGate and Mody’s company in Nigeria.

    And here’s the payoff: no promise of a specific result. Accordingly, in the court HnR opinion, Jefferson is innocent notwithstanding the Wiki’s conclusory ascription of guilt.

  19. You know, I haven’t followed the case. I don’t know what he did or didn’t do and whether the allegations, even if true, rise to the level of bribery.

    If I were you, I would give this unresolved matter some serious thought before you decide how you feel about campaign finance law.

  20. Dave W.,

    And here’s the payoff: no promise of a specific result.

    Bribery doesn’t require that. Indeed, how would you deal with a charge of inchoate bribery?

  21. Wikiwikiwiki-

    SHUT UP!

    -wikiwikiwikiwikiwikiwiki

  22. OK, so, supposed that the briefcase full of money came from ADM and the Congressman in question was from Nebraska or Iowa and chaired the committee that handles corn subsidies….

  23. Of course the FCPA does allow for payments to smooth the way through bueracratic entanglements. Since this case involves some involvement with Nigeria that exception to the FCPA might aid in the Congressman’s case.

  24. O, PL, don’t make me try to dig up the old bribery threads. I tried that yesterday after I checked the Jefferson wiki and the threads were hard to find because I was posting under all kinds of krazay names for some addled reason.

    I have an important patent application to write today, but maybe this evening we can dissect some of that ol’ RCDiness and get everybody on a better intellectual track here.

  25. or, suppose that the briefcase full of money came from coke / pepsi and the Congressman in question was from Atlanta Georgia. Oh, here is another briefcase: it is from the McDonald’s / Burger King guy. And what is this: another briefcase from M&M mars. And Sara Lee.

    And you wonder why this issue, out of all the issues in the world, has sparked bipartisan, unanimous (except maybe for Ron Paul and Barney Frank) outrage.

  26. Dave W.,

    I don’t think it really matters what the denizens of H&R think “bribery” means. So looking to them as an authoritative seems, well, just odd to me.

  27. Unless of course someone here either practices or teaches an area of the law which deals with the various aspects of bribery.

  28. PL – you have to have a quid pro quo, right?

    JMJ

  29. I don’t think it really matters what the denizens of H&R think “bribery” means. So looking to them as an authoritative seems, well, just odd to me.

    Like I hinted at in my comment to T.: the laws in this area (eg, campaign finance laws) should be crafted to reduce or eliminate bribery. Accordingly, you can’t have an informed opinion on that, I think, until you have some idea of what bribery is. I mean, there will always be difficult margins, but what happened with Jefferson should be considered as a typical paradigm case that results in a clear answer. Somehow it doesn’t. So we take it as an opportunity to pause and resolve our thoughts on bribery. Then we will better know what to make of that John McCain.

    As T. is learning: science is easy compared to law.

  30. I don’t even care if the allegations are true or not. The spectacle of Congress, having given the Administration a complete pass on all its power grabs over the last 5 years, is suddenly upset when that power threatens them.

    Fuck you Congress. You completely ignored your responsibility of oversight of the Administration. Now you have to live with it too.

  31. Bribery.

    I’m not sure this is really a “gotcha” moment for those who support campaign finance “reform”. This is about as bad as it gets, and if it isn’t bribery, we might as well stop doing anything to stop the cash flow to our officials. There’s a line somewhere between raising funds for a campaign and being paid outright to influence an official vote or action. It’s naturally very fuzzy, because money given to a campaign will naturally have the effect of having some influence on the official in question, but I think there is an appreciable difference between this kind of thing and direct campaign contributions (which are limited and sorta tracked, anyway). There’s also a difference between money going towards re-election and money going in your pock–I mean, freezer.

  32. Jersey McJones,

    Maybe. In some instances – as I recall from criminal law I think – you don’t even have to prove that a party was accepting a bribe to convict them. It becomes an instance where the party should have simply known that they were being bribed.

  33. I think the first big leap that must be made is in the consideration of money as “speech.” It’s sort of like how we have come to think of a corporation as a person, with the rights inherent in that. A corporation is just a piece of paper – it is the people that work for that corporation who should be acountable for their actions as a corporation. This is why – as liberal as I am – I do not care for corporate taxation.

    Anyways – money is not speech, and the sooner we realize that the better.

    JMJ

  34. It’s no wiki, or even the livejournal lawz entry, but here’s the definition of bribery from legal-dictionary.

    bribery n. the crime of giving or taking money or some other valuable item in order to influence a public official (any governmental employee) in the performance of his/her duties. Bribery includes paying to get government contracts (cutting the roads commissioner in for a secret percentage of the profit), giving a bottle of liquor to a building inspector to ignore a violation or grant a permit, or selling stock to a Congressman at a cut-rate price. Example: Governor (later Vice President) Spiro T. Agnew received five cents from the concessionaire for each pack of cigarettes sold in the Maryland capitol building. The definition has been expanded to include bribes given to corporate officials to obtain contracts or other advantages which are against company policy.

  35. Unless of course someone here either practices or teaches an area of the law which deals with the various aspects of bribery.

    Ahem ahem,

    Actually chaps, I teach a course titled ‘Bribery. THE FACTS’ at Oxford and Harvard (summer sessions).

    It’s a very complex and illusive area of law and the UK common law system has given the term a trecherously high number of definitions, which can be very difficult to apply to any given case. However, just last week the House of Lords ruled on the ‘official line for bribery’ with a hairline majority of three to two.

    The ruling states that bribery is when someone has pictures of another person naked with a carrot up their bottom and a kiwi fruit in their mouth and threatens to go the press NATIONWIDE (or global with the advent of the internet) unless demands are met (demands can include money, sports equipment or a lifetime supply of hagendaas ice cream)

    These are the facts.

    I teach a cool course. You guys should come check it out sometime. You don’t need particularly good grades to get in. Just legs. And arms (to write I guess).

  36. Oh, incidentally, I think one of the prices you should have to pay to be in Congress or in the White House is that you are subject to warrantless, random raids and sting operations. Pro Libertate’s politicians must be above suspicion–just like Caesar’s wife 🙂

    Is this the right time for me to renew my call for the creation of the Office of the Censor? Huh? Can I?

  37. Actually guys. Best to just ignore me. I’m talking about blackmail.

  38. This is about as bad as it gets, and if it isn’t bribery, we might as well stop doing anything to stop the cash flow to our officials.

    I proposed doing nothing whatsoever about the cash flow, or the extant bribery law, except to make all the cash flows transparent and public. If some happen to be on the wrong side of the fuzzy line, then the FBI can prosecute without all this brewhaha of the Jefferson case. If the transaction is not a bribe, then the voters can make of it what they will.

    What about my proposed solution, PL?

  39. Pro Libertate,

    There are other statutes which also deal with bribery. The FCPA is one that comes to mind.

  40. Mark,

    🙂

  41. The “Other” PL: Yeah, I know, but that statute was the meatiest. It’s like trying to round up all of the privacy laws–it’s just not worth it for this forum.

    Dave: As we’ve discussed before, I am all for transparency. But I do draw the line at money given to a politician that goes straight into his pocket. I suppose we could go back to the old, old days, where public officials didn’t get a salary at all, but earned all of their wages via bribes. I’m a thinkin’ that’s a bad idea, though.

  42. Title 18 U.S.C. ? 201

    (2) being a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for:
    (A) being influenced in the performance of any official act;
    (B) being influenced to commit or aid in committing, or to collude in, or allow, any fraud, or make opportunity for the commission of any fraud, on the United States; or
    (C) being induced to do or omit to do any act in violation of the official duty of such official or person;

  43. Dave is weaseling here in yet another attempt to be a Socrates to we knuckle draggers.

    Dave, I asked you to tell me what constitutes bribery in your estimation. I’ll do my non lawyer best, qualifying all of the following by acknowledging this is armchair analysis.

    A google of ‘elements bribery’ gets you:

    “Bribery is the tender (or receipt) of anything of value to (by) a public office holder with the intent that the public office holder will be influenced in the performance of his/her official duties. In addition to bribery, public officer holders can be additionally charged with conflict of interest (personally profiting from office) and/or criminal misconduct (where applicable). It’s also a crime to fail to report a bribe.” from here: http://faculty.ncwc.edu/TOConnor/293/293lect14.htm

    The hairy beast is intent to influence. You don’t have to show that tit for tat actually occurred, but you do have to show that something of value was given with the intent to influence.

    A campaign contribution can always be said to seeking to influence the election itself in favor of a generally preferred candidate. This is clearly not bribery. The stronger claim that the behavior of said candidate is sought to be influenced by way of the contribution can’t be proven in general because the weaker claim is nearly always credible – and perfectly legitimate, I might add.

    To argue that all money going to a campaign constitutes bribery puts you in the spot of essentially requiring public financing. Then, from the standpoint of the locals, you have a first amendment problem. If you prohibit me from taking out advertisement with my own money to support a candidate at precisely the most politically significant times of the election cycle, you are certainly squashing the free expression of political speech.

  44. Two issues being conflated here…

    1) Did the guy take bribes? That is up to a court of law, jury of peers, etc. Personally, I think he did, unless this donation was properly filed and recorded with the FEC, etc. But again, final decision is to be rendered via a trial.

    2) Can the FBI (or any law lnforcement group) search a congressman’s office (warrant or no warrant) as part of an ivestigation of said congressman? With certain exceptions, Congress seems to be of the opinion they are immune to such things, which in my view is more than enough reason to send every last one of them (aside from the exceptions, whoever they may be) home this November.

  45. OK, Dave, if it handing over a sack full of cash that goes directly into the elected official’s pocket for the purpose of influencing the discharge of their official duties isn’t bribery, what is?

    And this particular use of money wasn’t for the purpose of communicating anything, so it really doesn’t have anything to do with the First Amendment objections to campaign finance control.

  46. Pro Libertate,

    That’s cool.

  47. You libers are getting yourselves painted into a corner here with Dave. Better think carefully how you approach this question, lest your ideology show some cracks… 😉

    JMJ

  48. Jammer,

    There are two different issues here. First, did Jefferson commit a crime that he should be prosecuted for? For that question, he should have the presumptions and rights of any person charged with committing a crime.

    However, there is a second question. Should a Congressman who accepted money under suspicious circumstances and stored it in his freezer be allowed to remain in office? Hell, no. And the circling of the wagons that’s going on in DC tempts me to demand that Congress cease all business and assume the position for the full-body-cavity-search treatment right now. The corruption looks to be at a very high level. In any case, our blessed legislature should vote to remove this jackass today. Just like they should’ve done with Rostenkowski or dozens of other obvious scumbags.

  49. JMJ,

    If you put it on a t-shirt, you wouldn’t have to keep repeating yourself. To explain yourself, however, may actually take some effort.

  50. OK, Dave, if it handing over a sack full of cash that goes directly into the elected official’s pocket for the purpose of influencing the discharge of their official duties isn’t bribery, what is?

    I don’t know that, but what I do know is that the sack, the cash and the pocket aren;t relevant under the language of the bribery statute Chewy quoted for us. Yet you seem to think these factors are relevant. I call this mindset freezer-obsession.

    And this particular use of money wasn’t for the purpose of communicating anything

    You have got to be kidding me. that money was to give Jefferson the resources to fully evaluate the contractor’s product so that he would know whether and how strongly to recommend the product if such a product recommendation ever happened to become relevant in the well-executed discharge of his Congress duties. That is wonderful, imortant communication because it helps ensure that the best products only get in to the hands of our soldiers, sailors and FEMA evacuation technicians. What could be more communicative than the evaluation process facilitated by that hundred thou?

  51. Pro Libertate,

    That’s cool.

  52. As T. is learning: science is easy compared to law.

    Of course law is difficult…only because language is ambiguous. If language weren’t mathematically ambiguous, law would be cake. That’s all law has going for it as far as difficulty is concerned.

  53. Dave,

    The cash is quite relevant under the statute. “…anything of value…”

  54. Law is difficult in the same way this next sentence is:

    k0wkdfve rty55445+++ dh ?? bledgdtr.

    Oh, and the other tricky part is that the law keeps moving the characters around and changes the meaning of each word on a random basis.

    If I had it all to do over again, I’d be an engineer or maybe a physicist. Law is for people who don’t know what they want to do when they grow up.

    Dave, if you do patent law, you have a science or technical B.S., right? What’s it in? I have a very, very useful B.S. in finance. Yes, I know, you are all bowing before the mighty power of my undergraduate degree 🙂 I don’t know WHAT I was thinking.

  55. smacky,

    While, I don’t agree with Dave W’s remarks (law and physics are difficult in their own special ways), it is a little more than the indeterminancy of language which makes law difficult.

  56. being a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for:
    (A) being influenced in the performance of any official act

    Would this make all campaign contributions illegal. Let’s take the case where the politician receiving the campaign contribution (through proper channels of course) believes exactly as you the contributor want her to believe and has no areas of uncertainty in her mind that your money might be influencing. Even this would seem to be a bribe under the statutory language because that money will help prevent the Congressperson from changing her mind, especially when it comes time to make compromises and strike deals. Even if the Congressperson’s opinions and positions remain perfectly static that money is still an influence because it presumably help maintain that stasis, in the face of opposition and legislative business.

    In other words, the bribery statute either isn’t enforced or else it doesn’t mean what it says it means.

    More evidence that we need to be thinking about how the bribery laws should read so that we can work towards getting rid of the jarring incongruity between what the bribery law says and what it means in reality. The danger is that we are using the fuzzinesss of the bribery law as a nose of wax to go after pols we don’t like, while at the same time protecting our MIC clientele from bribery prosecutions.

  57. “What could be more communicative than the evaluation process facilitated by that hundred thou?”

    Political advertising during a campaign comes to mind.

    What a pain in the ass. You clearly think you have a point of some kind here. Bribery is about intent, and you have to prove intent. There are a lot of crimes in this mold, and the fact that you have to prove intent conclusively to a jury doesn’t mean that you get to squash 1st amendment protected speech every election cycle to make yourself feel better. It just means that the law in general requires you do prove something that is difficult to prove.

  58. a lawyer is scared of blood and can’t do math.

    and suffers from an inferiority complex, obviously. or at least the ones who flunked out of ambulance-chasing school to become patent lawyers.

    (and failed the physical requirements in meter maid school. damn. there went a potentially glowing career as an undercover traffic cop)

  59. VM,

    Well, you moose smell. 🙂

  60. science or technical B.S., right?

    BSME. my patent work has mostly been in electronics.

    I was kidding about the law and science thing. it is an old and humorous bone of content in between me and T. My brother is a chemistry PhD (U of Wisc). I know science is hard. I just get a sad kick out of scientists who minimize the difficulty of jurisprudential thinking. You get some pHD waltzing in and saying “I know how to amend the US constitution.” that kind of thing makes ORLY the Owl spin his head all the way around, souped up gifstyle.

    PS to VM: the objective math tests said I was fine at math; the folks in my legal accounting class really took me to the cleaners, tho.

  61. PL,

    Law minus verbal ambiguity would just be regular arguing. Sure, that’s difficult. But so is deciding what toppings are going to be on a shared pizza. (In other words, not difficult in a particularly intellectual way).

  62. VM, that may be generally true. I’ll never forget the panic of my Torts class when we had to do damages calculations. Involving nothing more exciting than doing some algebra and calculating some percentages. I think only me and the four or five engineers and accountants in the room thought the whole thing was no big deal. Oh, the one freak math major probably was okay, too 🙂

  63. smacky,

    I disagree, but so be it.

  64. But so is deciding what toppings are going to be on a shared pizza.

    Yes, the law is as unscientific as economics. I never thought of it that way.

  65. Pro Libertate,

    Yeah, but are you scared of blood?

  66. Anyway, now that this has turned into a “bash attorneys” contest…

  67. Pro Libertate,

    Yeah, but are you scared of blood?

    *I* am. I have considered law momentarily a few times. Maybe Dave W. can take me under his big, downy ORLY owl wing and show me the way of the Jedi.

  68. Anyway, I’m not bashing law or lawyers. I was just taking contention with Dave W.’s statement (which I guess he said is a joke) that law is more difficult than science.

    Carry on.

  69. PL 1 and PL2:

    hokae. good call. a more serious comment knocked me out of the obnoxious tree. i’ll behave (somewhat):

    some lawyers. 🙂

    (and the MD/JD/MBA type i know is good at everything. grin)

    and: does this mean the discussions will head in the social science vs physical science debate? or i have a paper in front of me by Feltovich about Law and Economics… that’s a fascinating connection!

    cheers

  70. Maybe Dave W. can take me under his big, downy ORLY owl wing and show me the way of the Jedi.

    You are not the first person to suggest that I teach law. I should have applied myself at the proper times. Well, must get to patent application. Statutory bars, donchaknow. Check back in this evening to see whether there is convergence toward any particular definition of bribery.

  71. Yeah, but are you scared of blood?

    Well, PL 1.2, we’ll see when it comes time to take your head. There can be only one!!! (All: Yes, it’s a conversation continuing from another thread–we’re multi-commenting today).

    Seriously, the only blood I fear is black blood of the earth.

  72. smacky,

    Well, we can at least agree that the remark concerning science v. the law (which was apparently made in jest) if it were a serious one is, well, silly.

  73. Pro Libertate,

    I got my katana waiting! 🙂

  74. I used to be on the fence about term limits, but I don’t see any other option. It doesn’t matter which party or who they are (with a very few exceptions) these guys get up there and it completely goes to their heads. Other than a tort lawyer or a State AG, there is no lower form of life than a long sitting Congressman. The Consititution needs to be ammended; no more than two terms in the Senate, no more than four terms in the house and no more than 18 years total service in congress by anyone.

  75. You know, in all seriousness, I’ve sometimes thought that once I’m a professor I might do a totally off-the-wall sabbatical in a patent law firm.

    No, really. Let me explain:

    I know that some patent law firms hire scientists. I figure that a sabbatical in such a job, as an internship or whatever, would be very educational on a number of levels. For starters, it would show me a very different side of science than I’m used to: How is scientific knowledge used to facilitate legal work that in turn affects technological enterprises? Also, it would give me an inside view of a career path that some of my students may take. Finally, if it worked out well, maybe it would help facilitate a relationship between my university (whichever one I wind up at) and the firm, as well as their clients. This could lead to internships for students, collaborative research projects, etc.

    I know I’d have a lot to learn if I took such a job, and I’d have to go in at the bottom rung. I don’t even know if I’d find a firm willing to hire a professor who only plans to stay for a year of sabbatical. Maybe they’d let me be an intern or something.

    Or maybe it wouldn’t work out at all and it’s all just a big pipe dream. Still, it’s something I’ve thought of trying once I’m a professor.

  76. John,

    I always liked the idea of just randomly picking people by lottery for the House and Senate. 🙂

  77. In all seriousness, I think there are too many smart people who stumble into the law. We, of course, need lawyers for various reasons (the abuses of the legal system I put aside for the moment), but it’s frankly appalling the dearth of Americans going into the sciences or technical fields. When I was at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (at Ohio State), there were very few students that were from this country. If we’re going to stave off the robot hordes from Japan in 2030, we’re going to need some homegrown scientists and engineers to help out.

  78. In all seriousness, I think there are too many smart people who stumble into the law. We, of course, need lawyers for various reasons (the abuses of the legal system I put aside for the moment), but it’s frankly appalling the dearth of Americans going into the sciences or technical fields. When I was at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (at Ohio State), there were very few students that were from this country. If we’re going to stave off the robot hordes from Japan in 2030, we’re going to need some homegrown scientists and engineers to help out.

  79. Pheleutherus,

    You know radom selection works pretty well most of the time for juries. In fact when it doesn’t, (say the OJ case) it is ussually when the lawyers have manipulated the pool and kept it from being truely random. Most people are serious and would do their best to do the right thing and if you did a truely random selection from every district over the course of 435 of them you would get a good reflection of the actual mood of the country. I don’t think it would work badly at all and it certainly couldn’t work any worse.

  80. As for you, Pseudo PL, my Two-Handed Highland Claymore is sharp and ready.

    You know, random selection (with some minimal criteria to get in the pool, perhaps) is a great idea. They couldn’t be any worse, and the very fact that they are random would make us keep a closer eye on them, I think.

  81. PL-

    I’m not planning to stumble into it as a career. But I think that once I’m a professor, and have the professorial prerogative of sabbaticals, I’m going to try to do sabbaticals in places where many physics professors have never worked. Places where many of our students, however, will work. See if I can find private sector employers willing to hire a physics professor for a year, and use that year to (1) learn as much as I can while being useful to them and (2) develop contacts and collaborations that might lead to interesting research back at the university, or lead to internships for my students.

  82. Pro Libertate,

    As I recall, many, many years ago I wrote a paper on this subject for a political science class.

  83. “In all seriousness, I think there are too many smart people who stumble into the law. We, of course, need lawyers for various reasons (the abuses of the legal system I put aside for the moment), but it’s frankly appalling the dearth of Americans going into the sciences or technical fields. When I was at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (at Ohio State), there were very few students that were from this country. If we’re going to stave off the robot hordes from Japan in 2030, we’re going to need some homegrown scientists and engineers to help out.”

    I think you are absolutely right Thoreau. As a lawyer, other than when I was trying cases as a prosecutor or in Iraq, I have generally found my profession to be less than gratifying. I often wish I would have become an engineer, particularly a construction engineer out actually doing something. I think that our universities bear some of the blame for not enough talent going into engineering. Engineering and science education desperately needs to be updated and made more relevant to what the private sector needs. All of my friends who got engineering and science degrees ended up getting management jobs that truthfully a liberal arts major like myself would have been better qualified. They don’t get to do science and just deal with people and push paper; the two things they thought they were avoiding when they went to engineering school.

  84. If I had it all to do over again, I’d be an engineer or maybe a physicist. Law is for people who don’t know what they want to do when they grow up.

    Hear Hear. I’m a lawyer too and it’s a pathetic existence.

    If I had the opportunity to travel back in time, I’d tell my younger self to follow my heart and inate sense of rhythm into the world of competitive ballroom dancing. Sigh…..

  85. Pro Libertate*,

    That might have something to do with the fact that law typically promises more money. Maybe the smart people going into law really are smarter.

    *I don’t like Phil Lip’s new screen name because now I can’t abbreviate his or Pro Libertate’s screen name with “PL” if they are on the same thread, because it wouldn’t be clear as to which one of them I am addressing.

  86. Ah, thoreau, I smell some Feynman influence, if I’m not mistaken. Just stay away from the booze and the hookers. And the safe cracking. I recall that he got some pretty good insights into physics while taking a sabbatical to play around with biology. Anyway, I think it’s a great idea.

    Bizarro World PL: Our sword discussion presents an alternative route for selecting our politicians. Electiondrome. Two go in, one comes out.

    I rather like the idea of random appointments. And that fits in with my desire to revive the Roman censor here in the U.S.

  87. God Mark,

    Is there any lawyer other than some filthy rich sleazy tort lawyer who doesn’t regret becoming one? I should have been a theoretical physicist. Oh the joys of quantum electro dynamics. But I hear most people who get PHDs in physics end up working outside the field. Sometimes I think the whole purpose of modern society is to ensure that none of us get to work in the field we would most like.

  88. some patent law firms hire scientists. I figure that a sabbatical

    As far as background reading, I would start with this book:

    http://tinyurl.com/kltfy

    It is about claim drafting, and I would say that patent law (when approached correctly) is more than 50% about claim drafting / interpretation and less than 50% about other things (some of which are nonsense and some of which are valid areas of concern, like enablement).

    Such a sabbatical will help you make sure you recognize patenatble work in your own lab and help you make sure that you are working with a good patent atty on your own applications. It will also help you recognize applications *not* worth pursuing — which is important because patent law firms usually want to do the work whether it is worthwhile or not.

  89. Dave W first said, “My recommendation: the HnR crew (Jersey and joe and the Reasonwriters excepted) should take a pause here to reconsider what bribery *really* is.”

    Then when asked what he thinks bribery is, he said, “I have asked that at HnR a couple of times precisely because I do not know.”

    Oh, you’re asking us because you don’t know, but you recommend that we consider what it really is?

    Dave W, your disengenuousness staggers the imagination.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, to answer to your question. Prove in a court of law that there was a quid pro quo and he hangs. If the jury has reasonable doubt, perhaps because, as you suggest can happen, they buy the argument that the money given was no more significant to the decision making process than any large campaign contribution, then he walks. This is how it should be. If it’s difficult to prove a quid pro quo, oh well, that’s life. Dave W, though you seem reluctant to come out and say so (apologies if you have indeed done so, I haven’t read each and every post on this thread), you are obviously implying we should broaden our definition of bribery, possibly so that it can potentially include all campaign contributions. Come out and say that and we can address it. For one, I’ll concede that there are pros and cons to all courses of action, and I’ll concede that the difficulty of proving quid pro quo bribery is the downside of restricting government punishment to when it can be proved. But then, there are downsides to broadening the definition or treating all campaign contributions as potential bribes as well, and I consider those downsides much more problematic.

    Regarding Congressman Jefferson, I don’t claim to know if he’s guilty of bribery, though hiding the money seems to reflect that he knew its discovery would be a serious problem for him. That may not be enough to convict him in a court of law, but we don’t have to hold ourselves to the same standards when making casual observations.

  90. Pro Liberate,

    Actually, while Feynman smoked dope a few times, he never drank. He didn’t like it and was always said that his brain was such a wonderful toy, he never wanted to risk damaging it.

  91. Dave-

    What are the odds of a patent law firm hiring a physics professor who expresses sincere interest in working there for a year, and who is willing to learn and start at the bottom? My background is in applied areas of optics, materials science, and biophysics.

    Would they see the potential for a long-term relationship with his university as a plus? The university could be a good place to recruit, provide a pool of experts who can consult in the future, and perhaps provide clients as the faculty and students seek to patent their own work.

    Of course, all of this is several years off, and I don’t even know that my first sabbatical would be in patent law. But I definitely want to spend my sabbaticals in places where most physics faculty have never worked, so I can bring something interesting back to my students.

  92. . . . I’ll concede that the difficulty of proving quid pro quo bribery is the downside of restricting government punishment to when it can be proved. . . . Regarding Congressman Jefferson, I don’t claim to know if he’s guilty of bribery, though hiding the money seems to reflect that he knew its discovery would be a serious problem for him. . . .

    Couple response, Fyo:

    1. I am not neccessarily arguing for a broader standard of bribery. With enuf transparency, I wouldn’t mind writing bribery out of the law altogether.

    2. I do think we should have a reasonably clear and common conception of what bribery looks like in the real world, including what kinds of evidence would normally be sufficient to show the mens rea aspect. My point on this thread is that we don’t have that.

    3. Further on the mens rea difficulties here, too many people think freezer = mens rea. that is both underinclusive and overinclusive. What would they say if the money was found under his mattress instead? Or in a safe in his apartment? Why should any law fundamentally and pervasively hinge on something like that? with such cloudy indicia, the bribery law begins to seem more like a trap for the unwary than it seems like something that would actually keep politicians honest.

    4. There are obvious reasons why Jefferson would want to hide this transaction besides illegality. Accordingly, the hidden nature of the transaction is equally compatible with both guilt and innocence.

  93. “My background is in applied areas of optics, materials science, and biophysics.”

    Find a lawfirm that works in those particular areas of patent law. More importantly, talk to the firms whom who work with and see who their lawyers are and then use them as a reference. If it is a big enough and important enough client, the law firms will pay you gobs of money to hire you if the think it will keep the client happy.

  94. John, I just listened to a Feynman book on tape (Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!), and he said that he did drink for a while, but he quit for the reasons you gave. He was certainly a brilliant man, and his love of knowledge–any knowledge–was (and is) an admirable trait.

  95. I don’t know about the prospects, T. When times are good they hire lots of people. When the work dries up, some people’s lives get really shattered. O well, at least I have some job. Better get 2 it.

  96. That is funny Pro, I finally got around to listening to that book last Chistmas when I had to take a long drive. He was really great man. I think everyone ought to have to read his “Cargo Cult Science” speech.

  97. God Mark,

    Is there any lawyer other than some filthy rich sleazy tort lawyer who doesn’t regret becoming one?

    John,

    You’re absolutely right.

    As an aside, have you employed the ‘God Mark’ as in ‘you’re trying my patience’ or is it a term of respect for what you see as my superior and divine like reasoning skills?

  98. You know radom selection works pretty well most of the time for juries. In fact when it doesn’t, (say the OJ case) it is ussually when the lawyers have manipulated the pool and kept it from being truely random.

    Well, lawyers manipulate the pool like that on every case. It’s their job.

    On the other hand, I’d say the jury on the OJ case did their job quite well. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly think OJ most likely “did it.” But the prosecution truly put on a terrible case, and as a result I’d say they did not get past the burden of “reasonable doubt.” Things like having your star witness demonstrably lie on the witness stand and the gloves you say the perpetrator wore not fitting the defendant will reasonably make the jury think your whole case may be full of crap.

  99. Pro Libertate,

    I read Six Easy Pieces a few months ago.

  100. Mark,

    It was more of a sigh. Sort of a “God you are right Mark”, but considering your superior reasoning skills, perhaps it was a Freudian slip.

  101. Dave, if you don’t even know what bribery is, just how effective of a lawyer are you, anyway?

  102. Mark,

    It was more of a sigh. Sort of a “God you are right Mark”, but considering your superior reasoning skills, perhaps it was a Freudian slip.

  103. Phileleutherus Lipsiensis,

    That’s in my pile of books to read. I’m starting to go back into my science cycle, after a year of being back in history and philosophy. I’m even contemplating a robot/electronics hobby.

    smacky, although Quasi-PL hasn’t officially acknowledged it, I’m pretty sure he’s using Richard Bentley’s pseudonym. So just call him that (unless he objects) to distinguish between the two of us. That, or wait until our sword fight. There can only be one PL.

  104. Brian24,

    I do not, repeat, do not want to make this an OJ thread. However, reasonable doubt to me is when there is a reasonable explanation for the facts in evidence besides the accused being guilty. I see no reasonable explanation for Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson’s blood being in O.J.’s home and O.J’s blood being at the murder scene on the morning after the murders other than O.J. being guilty. The defense never gave a reasonable explanation for how the police could have plantd all of that evidence. The fact that Mark Furman was a lier and dropped the N-Bomb repeatedly does not create the reasonable inference that he planted O.J.’s blood at the scene and the victim’s blood at O.J.’s home. That verdict had nothing to do with the evidence and everything to do with celebrity and racial politics in L.A.

  105. Cmon, Dave, no dodging. I ask you if you think something is bribery, and you can’t answer the question, evading by saying you don’t understand the statute.

    So I’m asking again.

    OK, Dave, if handing over a sack full of cash that goes directly into the elected official’s pocket for the purpose of influencing the discharge of their official duties isn’t bribery, what is?

  106. Pro Libertate,

    Yeah, Richard Bentley will do.

    The Six Not So Easy Pieces is next for me.

  107. Dave W,

    1) Okay, at least now you’re admitting you have an agenda. So what, praytell, would give us the “transparency” that would allow us to do away with bribery altogether?

    2) Odd for you to want bribery better defined when you also want to write it out of the law altogether, but I suppose you mean it to be a second best. But if you think we should have clearer rules of evidence for bribery cases, you would enhance the discussion by telling us what you think they should be. And if you really, really don’t know what they should, why do you expect US to know?

    3) & 4) I addressed this when I said we were not held to the strict standards of law in a courtroom when making casual observations. I’m not sure what the “obvious” reason would be for hiding the cash other than he just thought it would look bad even if it wasn’t illegal. But then, no one actually said he was guilty of bribery at the time you made the comment I quoted.

  108. That, or wait until our sword fight.

    That’s hott.

  109. OK, Dave, if handing over a sack full of cash that goes directly into the elected official’s pocket for the purpose of influencing the discharge of their official duties isn’t bribery, what is?

    It would have been nice if Cheney had been forced to disclaim any continuing consideration from Halliburton when he was elected. Just one example, but kind of a big one realitywise. There are many. I am not saying that Congressperson Jefferson neccessarily is or should be deemed innocent of corruption. I am saying it is intellectually dishonest to single out his case because it involves marked bills in the freezer. the cash, the directness, the sack, the pocket, the freezer should not be the touchstones that separate what Jefferson did from legal conduct.

    Approaches I am open to:

    a. No anti-bribery law, but demanding standards of transparency and publicity.

    b. a tough anti-bribery law (Jefferson and Cheney sharing a cell at Supermax, the superprison).

    c. Some other kind of bribery law where the language of the law matches people’s behavior and ethics-related expectations in real life (eg, something totally unlike the bribery law Chewy quoted us).

  110. Ah, lass, you like a man with a sword, do you?

  111. Dave W,

    So how does the definition that Chewy quoted not match people’s ethics-related expectations? Seems pretty clear to me. Except maybe that “influence” is overly broad and could possibly apply to more than quid pro quo situations. And while I know people suspect Haliburton gets government contracts cause Cheney thinks they’re cool more than because they deserve it, and maybe they’re right, but what has Cheney actually done that constitutes bribery or should (if you had to settle for option 2) land him in jail?

  112. Ah, lass, you like a man with a sword, do you?

  113. Ah, lass, you like a man with a sword, do you?

  114. Of course, if we really want to have fun with this discussion, we’ll drop the bribery issue and get into the scope of the Speech and Debate Clause. As Nick mentioned, that is the real meat and potatoes of the argument. Did the raid violate Congress’ prerogatives? The argument is that we don’t want the executive to have the power to harass the legislature. Just like we don’t want Congress zapping administration officials with bills of attainder. Frankly, I think blocking off Congress completely from searches or having to get permission from Congress beforehand (and, thus, giving time to the bad guy to destroy evidence) is taking a good idea a little too far.

  115. So how does the definition that Chewy quoted not match people’s ethics-related expectations? Seems pretty clear to me. Except maybe that “influence” is overly broad and could possibly apply to more than quid pro quo situations.

    You got it. Chewy’s law makes every campaign contribution illegal if you take it seriously. Every campaign contribution is given for that reason: influence.

    One or more on this thread think you have to have some kind of window into the giver’s or the receiver’s mind to determine whether influence was intended. That isn’t correct. The criminal law uses “objective” standards for these kinds of inquiries. Does somebody believe that their $25 to the Hillaryfund will influence how Hillary will rule? You better believe it does in the world of reasonable people. If Hillary noticed that somehow her campaign contributions were somehow coming mostly from Republicans somehow, that sure as shooting would influence her rule. Conversely, if the lion’s share came from Democrats, then that would be an influence too — an influence to try to keep her from going too rightwing (as some have accused her of doing already). Campaign contributions may have purposes in addition to influence, but influence is always, always a big part of the mix, whether the contributor wishes to admit that or not. i mean, do you think ppl who get convicted of first degree murder admit their intent explicitly?

    Chewy’s rule is not limited to quid pro quo situations, which makes me wonder how it can possibly be the operative rule (prosecutorial discretion? judicial activism?). If it were the operative rule, then every campaign contributor could be prosecuted. I would be one of the few people not to go to jail.

  116. Of course, if we really want to have fun with this discussion, we’ll drop the bribery issue and get into the scope of the Speech and Debate Clause. As Nick mentioned, that is the real meat and potatoes of the argument. Did the raid violate Congress’ prerogatives?

    Outside of my peripatetic bribery and campaign finance concerns, I think the interesting question is whether the FBI did this on purpose to get the Bush administration out of their face. It was pretty predictable what would happen when the FBI did this search. I don’t think this was about the 90 thou in the freezer.

    And whaddya know: Congress grew cajones practically overnight. So nice of the FBI to bring it all back home for those critters.

    In other words, this is about the Fourth Amendment, psychologically speaking.

  117. John,

    Ok, I don’t want to make this an OJ thread either, but quickly: the defense made the case that the investigators did a shoddy job and then lied about it. When the prosecution presented a shoddy case and a major police witness lied on the stand, it certainly lent weight to that interpretation of events.

  118. but quickly: the defense made the case that the investigators did a shoddy job and then lied about it. When the prosecution presented a shoddy case and a major police witness lied on the stand, it certainly lent weight to that interpretation of events.

    It probably didn’t help that the LA cops had a pervasive reputation about lying about the crimes of black people. Juries get to determine credibility. the jury in LA probably had different experiences with police credibility than u or I. That matters.

    A wise man once wrote that juries should start lissening to people smarter than themselves. By the same token, they shouldn’t be required to take seriously the word of a thoroughly corrupt agency either.

    Even the Supreme Court doesn’t get to 2d guess a jury’s credibility determinations. Think about that!

  119. I just want to mention that I own a sword.

  120. Does somebody believe that their $25 to the Hillaryfund will influence how Hillary will rule? You better believe it does in the world of reasonable people.

    No, not at all.

    It works in the opposite way. We have certain expectations for how Hilary will operate in office. We give money based on that.

    But is your concern really the statutory wording?Has anyone ever been convicted of taking a campaign contribution without a quid pro quo being established? If so, you might have a point and maybe the statutory language needs to be tightened up. If not, then you’re making a lot of noise over nothing. Please tell us which it is, and if it’s the former, examples please. I expect it’s the latter because the phrase “in order to influence” is interpreted in this context to mean in order to directly influence, with the idea that one has a specific deal. The difference can be subtle, but it’s real enough. Again, show me that politicians have been prosecuted without a specific deal being the basis of that prosecution, and you have a point about the wording. Though I don’t know why you would make such a big deal about that, so once again I suspect there’s more you’re implying that you’re holding back on.

  121. “Even the Supreme Court doesn’t get to 2d guess a jury’s credibility determinations. Think about that!”

    There are good reasons for that in that we don’t want judges overturning juries as a rule. That said, the jury was on crack. You just can’t get around the fact that there was O.J.’s blood at the scene. I don’t care if the CIA was there to frame O.J., the cops only had the victim’s blood not O.J.’s. He might as well have left a DVD of him committing the crime at the scene. Add that to his strange behavior the morning after the crime (lying to the limo driver and all), his obvious motive (Nicole finally told him to go to hell for good that day), the complete lack of any other person with a motive to kill Nicole Simpson, and his fleeing from prosecution and its about as good a murder case as you can have without a confession.

    The jury was black and hated the LAPD and wanted to stick it to them by aquiting OJ. That maybe the LAPD’s own fault, but it doesn’t change the fact that the jury let a guy who any reasonable person would know it guilty of a brutal double murder go free. Oh well I guess this is an OJ thread but at least it is just you and I and Brian.

  122. You just can’t get around the fact that there was O.J.’s blood at the scene.

    Who found OJ’s blood at the scene?[/b]

    Who determined thatthe blood sample was OJ’s?

    Presumably, whoever it was had constructive access to OJ’s blood. Otherwise they couldn’t have proclaimed a match. Whoever that person was, the jury had to find that person credible. here’s a hint, former prosecutor: whoever that person was specifically, we do know he was with the police.

    Add that to his strange behavior the morning after the crime (lying to the limo driver and all), his obvious motive (Nicole finally told him to go to hell for good that day), the complete lack of any other person with a motive to kill Nicole Simpson, and his fleeing from prosecution and its about as good a murder case as you can have without a confession.

    Weak, John. Real weak. This is good evidence for making OJ a suspect, but to convict on that? No way! In a fmr prosecutors wet dreem.

    The jury was black and hated the LAPD and wanted to stick it to them by aquiting OJ. That maybe the LAPD’s own fault

    If the police habitually lie then their testimony should never be used to convict anybody. That is what credibility determination is all about. If you run with a gang that lies a lot, then that is going to damage your credibility, bad. That is not just the way some stout black women think. That is the way we all think. that is the way the jury was supposed to think.

    So what does Dave W. think?

    I think he did it not because of the blood tests (that stuf gets faked) or the motive or the opportunity or the fleeing or any of that. I think he did it because there were a lot of journalists trying to poke holes in the case and they failed. I know they failed because if they succeeded we would have heard about it. Only thing is: this kind of “evidence” is not appropriate for a juror to consider. If I were a juror, I, accordingly, would not consider it. Not sure how I would have voted. I am not a trusting type, but maybe a little more coptrusting than the actual OJ jury (understandably) was.

  123. Mark, you did competitive ballroom dance? What kind? I’ve been dancing for a couple years, and I’m going to start competing next semester.

    John-my father jokes that you can tell a lawyer’s IQ by figuring out how long it took him to stop actually practicing law. And Cargo Cult Science is an awesome speech.

  124. It works in the opposite way. We have certain expectations for how Hilary will operate in office. We give money based on that.

    So naturally Hillary would be expected to be influenced to follow your expectations. I guarantee you that a lot of people will spend a lot of Hillary’s term(s) trying to persuade her to act against expectations for the perceived good of the nation. Those contributions will work to influence her to hew to the expectations of the donors. That is influence. It may not be a quid pro quo, but it is influence.

  125. Who found OJ’s blood at the scene?[/b]

    Who determined thatthe blood sample was OJ’s?

    Dave,

    It would take a coverup bigger than watergate and faking the moon landing combined to pull that off. Mark Furman alone or even him and his buddies couldn’t pull that off. Where does the police get O.J’s blood? Since the defense had access and used their own experts to test the blood, even if the police could have gotten a lab expert to lie and say it was O.J.’s blood, they still would have had to have gotten some of his blood to give to the defense and also gotten everyone else to keep quiet about it and also commit purjury for it. Unless the police killed Nicole and procured O.J.’s blood beforehand, they would not have had any the night or the day after the murder. Why on earth would the police wanted to have framed O.J.? How could they have constructed such an elaborate plot in a few hours the morning after the murder? Unless the Police killed Nicole, they had no idea the murder was coming and would have had little time to construct this elaborate plot to frame a wildly popular celbrity. Certainly, framing wildly popular celbrities is a common in-door out-door sport for police departments. It is not poor people who get framed, it is the rich ones.

    “Weak, John. Real weak. This is good evidence for making OJ a suspect, but to convict on that? No way! In a fmr prosecutors wet dreem.”

    If that were the only evidence, you would have a point. You commit the worst bit of sophistry imagineable, in that you take each piece of evidence and examine it individually and dismiss it because that alone doesn’t prove guilt. You miss the point. It is not his behavior, motive etc.. alone that makes him guilty, it is those things combined with all of the forensic evidence that make him guilty. By your theory the evil LAPD just happend to frame a famous celbrity for a muder who also just happened to be unnactounted for at the time of the murder, behaved consistently with committing the murder and also had a motive. Either the LAPD are the luckiest people on earth or they got the right guy.

    Your posts proves that on some subjects people really do go insane. There is just no reasoning with people about the O.J. case.

  126. To join the O.J. thread, I think you’d have a different result today. DNA evidence was relatively new back then, and the public was far less comfortable with it than they are in today’s CSI-Peoria culture. I bet he’d go away if the trial were happening now, even with the issues with Furman and the acquitting glove.

    I wasn’t very impressed with the prosecution or the defense in that case. Nor was the judge high on my list, either.

  127. “One or more on this thread think you have to have some kind of window into the giver’s or the receiver’s mind to determine whether influence was intended. That isn’t correct. The criminal law uses “objective” standards for these kinds of inquiries.”

    Well, according to the supreme court, the objective standard for bribery is very high becuase you have to demonstrate that there was an expectation of quid pro quo. No matter what the objective standard might be, “any transaction for any purpose” is not a workable bar. The crime of bribery is just hard to prove, and appropriately so.

  128. That is influence. It may not be a quid pro quo, but it is influence.

    Everything we do has some sort of influence on others. But so what? There are larger issues and smaller issues. As the old saying goes, you can’t see the forest for the trees. If Hilary discovered that Republicans were most likely to contribute to her campaign, she’s at least as likely and maybe more so to decide that Republicans have come around to her way of thinking (and voting) and she should therefore continue doing what she’s doing rather than decide that this means she should change her ways to vote more like a Republican. Anyway, you can’t outlaw all influence, you just can’t, and you shouldn’t try. But you can outlaw outright attempts to curry favor on specific votes, which is what I believe our bribery laws do, their potential for being interpreted more broadly notwithstanding. I’ve asked if you can demonstrate that they are indeed enforced in a manner with that broader interpretation, and your silence on that matter is defeaning.

  129. Pro Liberate,

    The OJ case proved that if you are going to fuck up, fuck up big. The prosecution in that case was unimagineably bad. They totally screwed up the case from day 1, yet Darden and Marcia Clark got big money book deals and went off into Court TV heaven after it was over. Terrible.

  130. The responders (not u in particular) say that bribery should require the promise of a specific result or vote.

    Although late to the thread, I’ll throw my pseudonym into the pool including Jason Liqon and fyodor that agrees that a specific favor is required in order for a bribery charge to stick. That doesn’t mean that if someone says “hey, this was just a donation” that you need to take them at face value if it smells fishy.

    I also concur with Dave W. that the benefits of full disclosure outweigh the costs of losing anonymity with political contributions.

  131. I’d like to reiterate a point I made earlier. Proving the crime of bribery should be hard. Ejecting a politician for suspicious circumstances should be easy. Like nailing O.J. for wrongful death was 🙂 Frankly, I think there’s enough on Jefferson right now to oust him. So what if it might not be fair? No one has a right to be in Congress. Yes, I know, this sort of thing could be abused, but I prefer easy exit options to the corruption we have today.

  132. Pro,

    I don’t think having a rule that says that sitting Congressman ought not to keep 1000s of dollars wrapped in their freezer is too terribly onerous. There is such a thing as “appearance of impropriety” and it is a standard worth keeping.

  133. Pro Lib:

    Conflict of interest is an excellent way to get your politician outta there without convicting him of bribery.

  134. Just to beat my drum that no one else is interested in hearing, I really think we should have a fourth branch of government, The Censor. The Censor (more than one person, almost certainly) would have, as its sole responsibility, the ability to review the fitness of all members of the federal government. With the power to remove anyone (with appropriate due process). There would need to be checks on its authority, as well as some mechanism to prevent it from being strictly a tool of partisan politics, but I think it could be done.

    I discussed this here a while back, but, as usual, the discussion degenerated into the censor wearing a toga and the first one being, oddly, Jennifer Garner. We’re really strange.

  135. It would take a coverup bigger than watergate and faking the moon landing combined to pull that off.

    EXACTLY! That is exactly what: (i) we both consider dispositive for purposes of our own respective opinions; but (ii) jurors cannot legitimately consider.

  136. That is exactly what…jurors cannot legitimately consider.

    Jurors CAN legitimately consider their own experiences with police to lead them to the conclusion that the police cannot be trusted and therefore the evidence cannot be, but they CANNOT consider the logistical factors that would make the falsification of the evidence extremely unlikely?

    This seems rather contradictory, but I’ll concede that the logistical difficulty of falsification may not have been as clearcut to the jurors as it may be to detached observers if the prosecution did not explain it as such.

  137. ProL –

    I like your Censor idea, although the name could use some marketing work.

    One thought though – What if a community consistently voted for people the Censor office would never allow?

  138. SixSigma,

    It’s a classic name, though. And it’s scary 🙂

    As for the possible anti-democratic effects of removing unethical and/or anti-Constitutional politicians, I don’t care. The “will of the people” doesn’t trump our interest in liberty and in accountable government. Besides, if Chicago no longer has full-time representation, I’m sure they’ll survive 🙂

  139. This seems rather contradictory, but I’ll concede that the logistical difficulty of falsification may not have been as clearcut to the jurors as it may be to detached observers if the prosecution did not explain it as such.

    That is exactly it. If these facts were not in evidence, then the jury isn’t supposed to be making assumptions either way on this factual (as opposed to credibility) basis.

    If a prosecutor were so inclined (eg, if a prosecutor knew he has a jury of 12 Dave W.s lol), then she should certainly be free to introduce any evidence she wanted related to integrity of the evidence chain, including the large, interlocking organizational web of police personnel basically vouching for and overseeing the evidence handling. There may even be cases where prosecutors basically use this strategy in real life, I don’t know.

    On the other hand, I can imagine that some jurors have limited experience with organizational accountability and interlocking webs and may not be amenable to this method of persuasion. If that is true, then the police really have only one option left if they want their credibity back. Do you know what this option is?

  140. should be –credibility– also see ans at sig link if u were stumped by my ?tion

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