Tag Archives: Lack

U.S. to return about $100 million to the Treasury for an Afghanistan project due to a lack of transparency

U.S. to return about $  100 million to the Treasury for an Afghanistan project due to a lack of transparencySecretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the United States would return about $ 100 million to the Treasury for an energy infrastructure project in Afghanistan and would withhold a further $ 60 million in planned assistance to the country due to a lack of transparency.



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Chris Hayes and Progressives’ Lack of Respect for the Constitution

Chris Hayes and Progressives’ Lack of Respect for the ConstitutionLast week, conservatives in the Twitterverse had a good chuckle at the expense of MSNBC host Chris Hayes for something he said about the Electoral College on his show.“The weirdest thing about the Electoral College,” he offered, “is the fact that if it wasn't specifically in the Constitution for the presidency, it would be unconstitutional.”This is one of those things that sound a lot better in your head than they do coming out of your mouth! We’ve all been guilty of saying something similarly dumb, and most of us have probably been subjected to some good-natured ribbing over it. Hayes didn’t appreciate the ribbing, though, and took to Twitter a few days later to blast the entire conservative movement:> These days, conservatism is a movement deeply paranoid and pessimistic about its own appeal, increasingly retreating behind counter-majoritarian institutions: the senate, the courts, the electoral college.> > — Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) September 1, 2019> And so they are increasingly focused, as a matter of tactical and tribal fidelity, on ways to uphold minority rule. It’s a sad place for a movement to be.> > — Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) September 1, 2019I certainly agree that the Republican party needs to focus on broadening its appeal. But here’s the catch: Hayes’s armchair psychoanalysis notwithstanding, he is just plain wrong about the Constitution. And by that I do not mean that his breezy, clever-sounding point is actually a tautological non-sequitur. I mean that his underlying reasoning is false.Here’s his full original assertion:> The weirdest thing about the Electoral College is the fact that if it wasn't specifically in the Constitution for the presidency, it would be unconstitutional. Here’s what I mean by that. Starting in the 1960s, the Supreme Court started developing a jurisprudence of one person, one vote. The idea is that each individual vote has to carry roughly the same amount of weight as each other individual vote, which is a pretty intuitive concept, but is not a reality. There are all sorts of crazy representational systems that were created that would not give one person one vote, and that would disenfranchise certain minorities.If Hayes hadn’t been so glib, he might have said that the Electoral College runs contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. But, as I said, that is not true, either.The Supreme Court’s one-man-one-vote rule applies to state legislative elections and the House of Representatives, which makes sense in the constitutional scheme. The House of Representatives is the national institution of representation in our government. But our system is not wholly national. Here’s James Madison in Federalist No. 39:> The House of Representatives will derive its powers from the people of America; and the people will be represented in the same proportion, and on the same principle, as they are in the legislature of a particular State. So far the government is NATIONAL, not FEDERAL. The Senate, on the other hand, will derive its powers from the States, as political and coequal societies; and these will be represented on the principle of equality in the Senate, as they now are in the existing Congress. So far the government is FEDERAL, not NATIONAL. The executive power will be derived from a very compound source. The immediate election of the President is to be made by the States in their political characters. The votes allotted to them are in a compound ratio, which considers them partly as distinct and coequal societies, partly as unequal members of the same society.For these reasons, as well as others, Madison concludes, “The proposed Constitution . . . is, in strictness, neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both.”So, Hayes is right in a very narrow sense: Neither the Senate nor the Electoral College would make any sense in a strictly national government where the states no longer had any sovereign function. At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, this is what Madison wanted, more or less: to strip the states of their power in national affairs. But it just could not pass muster, and the Convention embraced the compromise pushed by small-state delegates: a compound republic embracing both national and federal modes.This is really Civics 101, and I’m not at all sure how many pundits on the left fully understand it. I rarely if ever see prominent progressives seriously engage with The Federalist Papers or Madison’s notes on the Constitutional Convention. Sometimes I wonder if they even know to look in those places for explanations of our constitutional structure. I get the impression that they think the whole design is a product of simple-minded men who lacked their sophisticated views on government. Yet when you read through the original debates about the Constitution, it becomes clear that the Founders often thought through these issues more carefully than contemporary intellectuals.Why are they so intent on attacking the Constitution in this case, anyway? There are, after all, other ways to ameliorate the problem of divergence between the popular vote and the Electoral College. Each state’s apportionment is the sum of its House and Senate delegates. The size of the House of Representatives is not fixed at 435. That number could be expanded, which would be completely consistent with the Constitution — probably more so, as the founding generation was skeptical that large districts could actually be representative. An expanded House would alleviate the frustrations of the large states, and it might also mitigate the problem of money in politics.Moreover, why are states given a pass for allocating electors on a winner-take-all basis? Again, it is not required under the Constitution, and in the early days of the republic electors were often allocated on a proportional basis. If the 2016 election had been conducted on that basis, Hillary Clinton’s Electoral College haul would have gone from 227 to about 255 — not enough for her to win the required absolute majority under a 538-vote Electoral College, but perhaps enough to win such a majority of the larger electoral-vote total created by an expanded House.I do not like it when the Constitution is attacked in this way, but not because the Constitution is perfect. It is far from perfect. Nobody understood that better than Madison, who was at first deeply frustrated by the finished product. Yet when he started to see the criticisms of it, he noticed that they were scattershot, parochial, and sometimes even contradictory. He realized that the choice facing the country was not between the Constitution and some other alternative, but between the Constitution and chaos leading toward disunion.I think the same holds true today. We should respect the Constitution if for no other reason than that it may be the last thing still holding us together. Such respect does not necessitate that we blindly accept the institutions it bequeathed us as they are. But we should thoroughly understand it before we criticize it, because it deserves better than facile straw-man attacks — especially when, as in the case of the Electoral College, there are alternative remedies that could be pursued within its framework.



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Executive Director of House Dems’ Campaign Arm Resigns amid Backlash over Lack of Diversity

Executive Director of House Dems’ Campaign Arm Resigns amid Backlash over Lack of DiversityThe executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) resigned Monday after Democratic lawmakers and DCCC staffers lashed out publicly at the organization's leadership over their failure to prioritize racial diversity.Allison Jaslow announced her resignation during an emergency meeting that was held on Monday morning in response to calls from staffers and lawmakers for an “immediate restructuring” of the group's senior leadership, Politico reported.Democratic representatives Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela of Texas specifically called for Jaslow's resignation in a statement provided to Politico on Sunday.“The DCCC is now in complete chaos,” Gonzalez and Vela said in their statement. “The single most immediate action that Cheri Bustos can take to restore confidence in the organization and to promote diversity is to appoint a qualified person of color, of which there are many, as executive director at once. We find the silence of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on this issue to be deafening.”Politico highlighted a longstanding rift within the DCCC last week, publishing a report that quoted staffers and lawmakers complaining about a lack of racial diversity within the group's leadership, and among the vendors hired by the group.DCCC chairwoman Cheri Bustos was forced to return to Washington on Monday to address lawmakers' and staffers' concerns after an emergency meeting on Friday, which Bustos did not attend, and a conference call on Saturday, proved insufficient.Jaslow reportedly wept while assuming blame for the lack of diversity during the Friday meeting while Bustos responded to the complaints by emphasizing her marriage to a Mexican man and her son's engagement to an African-American woman during the Saturday call. She also agreed to hold mandatory diversity training for Committee staff.



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Curtis Flowers: Death row inmate has conviction quashed due to lack of black jurors

Curtis Flowers: Death row inmate has conviction quashed due to lack of black jurorsThe US Supreme Court has quashed the murder conviction of a black man on death row in Mississippi because of a prosecutor’s “relentless” efforts to stop African Americans appearing on the jury at successive trials.Curtis Flowers, 49, has already been tried six times and now could face a seventh trial following the decision by the country’s highest federal court.He has been in jail more than 22 years, ever since his arrest after four people were found shot dead in a furniture store in Winona, Mississippi, in July 1996.The removal of black jurors deprived inmate Mr Flowers of a fair trial, the Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.A series of trials stretching back more than 20 years shows District Attorney Doug Evans made a “relentless, determined effort to rid the jury of black individuals,” with the goal of an all-white jury in Flowers’ case, Justice Kavanaugh wrote.“The numbers speak loudly,” Justice Kavanaugh said in a summary of his opinion that he read in the courtroom, noting that Mr Evans had removed 41 of the 42 prospective black jurors over the six trials. “We cannot ignore that history.”Mr Flowers was found guilty in his first three trials, but the three convictions were overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court due to “prosecutorial misconduct”. The fourth and fifth trials ended in mistrials.He was convicted again on the sixth trial in 2010, when the jury was made up of 11 whites and one African American and Mr Evans struck five black prospective jurors – a conviction overturned on Friday.In a dissenting view, Justice Clarence Thomas called Justice Kavanaugh’s opinion “manifestly incorrect” and wrote that Mr Flowers “presented no evidence whatsoever of purposeful race discrimination”.Justice Thomas, the only African American currently on the Supreme Court, said: “The state is perfectly free to convict Curtis Flowers again.”Mr Evans said he remained confident of Mr Flowers guilt but had not yet decided whether the state of Mississippi would order a retrial, according to American Public Media. He denied trying to exclude African Americans from the jury.Mr Flowers’ defence lawyers have argued that witness statements and physical evidence against him are too weak to convict him of the killings of four furniture store workers.“A seventh trial would be unprecedented, and completely unwarranted given both the flimsiness of the evidence against him and the long trail of misconduct that has kept him wrongfully incarcerated all these years,” said Sheri Lynn Johnson, who represented Mr Flowers at the Supreme Court.“We hope that the state of Mississippi will finally disavow Doug Evans’ misconduct, decline to pursue yet another trial and set Mr Flowers free.”In the course of selecting a jury, lawyers can excuse a juror merely because of a suspicion that someone would vote against their client using “peremptory strikes”, but they have been the focus of the complaints about discrimination.The Supreme Court tried to stamp out discrimination in the composition of juries in the Batson v Kentucky decision in 1986, ruling that jurors couldn’t be excused from service because of their race.Additional reporting by AP



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Joe Biden laments lack of personal connection in politics as he pledges to respect space

Joe Biden laments lack of personal connection in politics as he pledges to respect spaceFacing allegations by several women of unwanted touching, former vice president Joe Biden is bemoaning the lack of personal connections in politics.



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Trump claims 'total exoneration' from Mueller summary despite lack of answers on obstruction

Trump claims 'total exoneration' from Mueller summary despite lack of answers on obstructionPresident Donald Trump claimed "complete and total exoneration" despite outstanding questions on obstruction.



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Trump halts new North Korea sanctions despite lack of progress in talks

Trump halts new North Korea sanctions despite lack of progress in talksThe president reverses a decision by the Treasury Department to impose additional sanctions on North Korea.



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Border Patrol Releases Migrants, Citing Lack of Space in Detention Centers

Border Patrol Releases Migrants, Citing Lack of Space in Detention CentersU.S. Customs and Border Patrol on Tuesday released 50 migrants recently detained at the border near Mcallen, Texas due to a lack of space in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers they would otherwise be sent to while awaiting their asylum hearings.CPB officials told the Los Angeles Times that the migrants released Tuesday represent just the first wave of a group of hundreds whom they will be forced to release in the coming days due to a lack of resources.Border Patrol spokesman Carlos Diaz said the 50 migrants were given notices to appear in court and released to local charities after their processing center in McAllen was overwhelmed by the number of migrants arriving each day.“It is a crisis,” an unnamed CPB official told the Times. “It’s not a self-proclaimed crisis.”The unnamed official's assessment of the situation at the border echoes those of President Trump and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who have raised alarms in recent months about the particular challenges posed by the high numbers of Central American families arriving at the border every day.“In February, we saw a 30 percent jump over the previous month, with agents apprehending or encountering nearly 75,000 aliens,” Nielsen told the House Committee on Homeland Security earlier this month. “This is an 80 percent increase over the same time last year. And I can report today that CBP is forecasting the problem will get even worse this spring as the weather warms up.”“Over 60 percent of the current flow are family units and unaccompanied alien children, and 60 percent are non-Mexican,” she added, likely referencing the provision in U.S. immigration law that requires asylum-seekers native to non-contiguous countries be allowed to remain in the U.S. while their asylum applications are adjudicated.



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Stephon Clark shooting: Protests over lack of charges for police who shot dead unarmed black man

Stephon Clark shooting: Protests over lack of charges for police who shot dead unarmed black manAt least 80 protesters have been arrested after they marched through Sacramento to demand two officers face charges for shooting and killing Stephon Clark. Initial reports did not say Mr Clark could be armed, but officers opened fire after mistaking his phone for a gun. The Sacramento county district attorney, Anne Marie Schubert, said the officers did not commit a crime and were justified in using lethal force.



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Stephon Clark case ends with no charges and a disgraceful lack of justice — yet again

Stephon Clark case ends with no charges and a disgraceful lack of justice — yet againDecisions by California prosecutors, attorney general to let cops go is travesty, reinforces distrust. Prosecutors must hold cops accountable.



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