Maura Ewing – Philadelphia’s New Top Prosecutor Is Rolling Out Wild, Unprecedented Criminal Justice Reforms

Link to an article by Maura Ewing:

“Philadelphia’s New Top Prosecutor Is Rolling Out Wild, Unprecedented Criminal Justice Reforms”

 

Bonus links: “Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner Promised a Criminal Justice Revolution. He’s Exceeding Expectations.” and “Meet Larry Krasner” and “Ending Civil Forfeiture In Philadelphia” and …And the Poor Get Prison

 

No doubt about it, Krasner is one of the most heroic public servants in office in the U.S. today.  Nothing about Krasner’s policies is “wild” though, and it is quite sad that in this day and age they are “unprecedented” — his policies should probably be the norm not the exception.  It is, however, important to note that a key factor in Krasner winning office was substantial funding from out-of-towner George Soros.

The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives

Link to a “video” from a symposium by The Modern Money Network about the book The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives (2017) by Jesse Eisinger:

“The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives”

 

Admittedly, this “video” is really just audio.  But Bill Black‘s introductory comments make very clear how U.S. Department of Justice (non)prosecution of financial sector crimes is a matter of shifting ideology, or, more precisely, the activities of federal prosecutors really represent the outcome of an ideological war and class war over which class and which ideology will control the state and its judicial apparatus.

 

Bonus links: …And the Poor Get Prison and Why Not Jail? and The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology and The Fragile Absolute and The State and Revolution

Bonus quote: “Does the masses’ struggle for emancipation pose a threat to civilization as such, since civilization can thrive only in a hierarchical social order?  Or is it that the ruling class is a parasite threatening to drag society into self-destruction, so that the only alternative to socialism is barbarism?”  Slavoj Žižek, Afterword to Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin From 1917 (pp. 209-10).

D. Casey Flaherty – Law Departments and the Foundation of Law Firm Marketing Bullshit

Link to an article by D. Casey Flaherty:

“Law Departments and the Foundation of Law Firm Marketing Bullshit”

 

The title of this article is misleading.  The foundation of law firm marketing, and all marketing, is capitalism.  All marketing is misleading.  The entire article is confused because it makes vague references to things like improvement, efficiency, or whatever, without really explaining who benefits or in what way.  Anyway, the parts about the “lawyer theory of value” are useful, as a specific illustration of the old saying “to a hammer every problem looks like a nail.”  But that doesn’t really explain much.  The labor leader Tony Mazzocchi once said that the construction trades would “pave over the Atlantic Ocean, if given the chance.”  It is no different with lawyers and lawyering.  A rather useful frame to apply to these questions is what Paul Kivel discussed in his article “Social Service or Social Change.”  A better framework is public benefit, and a (materialist) distinction between public and private benefit.  Laywers, as part of what Kivel terms the “managerial class”, tend to look like self-interested collaborators with society’s bad actors (the exploitative “power elite”).  The Flaherty article at most sees the problem as one of degree, not of kind.  But corporate benefit — as in increased profits for shareholders of a particular company — is a stupid metric, one that presupposes capitalism and an unfair social structure.  Yet, it is also true that lawyers can do good.  Take, for instance, something that Moshe Lewin discussed in The Soviet Century, about how the Khrushchev administration dismantled the Stalinist gulag system in the former USSR and unwound the brutal system of arbitrary arrest by the NKVD through…increased use of lawyering! This latter example (drawn from a different country and historical period) illustrates a public benefit.  After all, confronting institutions known for arbitrary persecutions leading to executions, torture and imprisonment in slave labor camps was fraught with potential peril and hardly a simple matter of self-aggrandizement.  Flaherty stops well short of concern for public benefit, discussing only private concerns within the realm of corporate law — and, it should be mentioned, the private self-interest of legal consultants like Flaherty.  But if Flaherty did raise concerns about public benefit, it would probably mean eliminating corporations and corporate law departments entirely, and likewise eliminating the need for consultants like him.  The cynicism of this article reflects what Peter Sloterdijk called “enlightened false consciousness”.  Or, perhaps, this can be explained by Upton Sinclair, who long ago said it is hard to get someone to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.

David Walsh – Actor Matt Damon Comes Under Attack for His Criticisms of the Sexual Misconduct Campaign

Link to an article by David Walsh:

“Actor Matt Damon Comes Under Attack for His Criticisms of the Sexual Misconduct Campaign”

There are some useful reader comments under this article, especially from Jason Kennedy (criticizing the typical class-reductionist argument style of WSWS, which is prone to making a few sweeping, unsupported conclusions propped up by vague soak-the-rich populism).  Trying to smear, shame and scapegoat the rich (including rich workers) undermines the effectiveness of the article by resorting to incoherent populist tactics — a problematic approach, lest Friedrich Engels‘ writings be dismissed on the same basis.

 

Underlying most of the #MeToo debate is a political/ideological divide.  On the one hand the most outspoken #MeToo advocates adopt extreme forms of liberal fear of making offense and a kind of “eggshell plaintiff” approach combined with a reactionary Ayn Randian acceptance of unilateral subjective belief as objective fact and a logic of victimization that anchors sociopolitical legitimacy in a victimhood identity.  On the other hand, there is the belief that every human activity should be judged according to its meaning in the total context, and not according to what an individual agent believes the significance to be. In this latter sense, many of the #MeToo advocates are self-serving opportunists stoking a “moral panic” for personal career advancement to the detriment of the public and the fair treatment of those accused of misconduct, often by conflating unrelated personal grudges or generalized (and non-sexual) ressentiment with sexual misconduct.

 

Bonus links: “Opposition Mounts to Sexual Harassment Witch-hunt” (“Under the blanket category of ‘sexual harassment,’ an extremely broad range of activity, including that which falls under the framework of normal interpersonal relations, is effectively being criminalized and associated with the horrific crime of rape. The effect is to create a situation where virtually anyone can be singled out and smeared with the charge of being a ‘sexual predator.'”) and “The Destruction of Matt Taibbi: How the Alt Right and Sloppy Reporting Smeared the ‘Rolling Stone’ Journalist” and « Nous défendons une liberté d’importuner, indispensable à la liberté sexuelle » and “Geoffrey Rush Lawsuit Strikes Blow Against Anti-democratic #MeToo Campaign” and “#MeToo Witch-Hunt Targets Veteran Actor Morgan Freeman” and “The Downfall of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman” and “Sex and the New York Times: When ‘Her Too’ Isn’t ‘Me Too'” and “Dominican-American Author Junot Díaz: The Latest Artist Victimized by the #MeToo Campaign” (“Well-paid academics and aspiring academics and others, full of jealousy and spite in many cases, are dishonestly taking advantage of, twisting, amplifying an individual’s difficulties and peccadilloes, and even perhaps missteps or misdeeds, to advance themselves and their careers. *** The politics are unwaveringly those of personal identity and the concerns are trivial and selfish.”) and “The Newest #MeToo Atrocity: Opera Singer Plácido Domingo Comes Under Attack” and Slavoj Žižek Quote About Victimhood Status