Presidential golf and vacation

On a day with very little posting, it seems kind of lame of me to simply pick on a WP columnist for writing an idiotic column.  But…  Dana Milbank can, at times, be quite good.  But he can sure also be a grade A hack.  Apparently, presidents don’t deserve to play golf?

The death toll is approaching 1,000 in the Egyptian military’s crackdown, the Edward Snowden case is straining international relations and new questions are emerging about privacy violations at the National Security Agency. But Obama, who just returned from a nine-day, six-golf-round vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, remained out of sight at the White House…

By now it should be obvious that running the country is not an 11-month job, yet the administration is still operating under the old ways.

This was stupid when Bush was president and its stupid now.  And there was probably plenty of this every time other presidents took vacations.  Do you really even want a leader so stressed out he’s not allowed to take a vacation?  And does anyone seriously think he wasn’t nonetheless getting national security briefings every day?  Just political punditry at its absolute worst.

Photo of the day

I don’t always take the time I should with the actual National Geographic magazine, to which I subscribe, but I did read the fascinating article and admire the amazing pictures about lions.  In Focus presents a gallery of the best of them:

The Vumbis rest on a kopje, or rocky outcrop, near a favorite water hole. Lions use kopjes as havens and outlooks on the plains. When the rains bring green grass, wildebeests arrive in vast herds. (© Michael Nichols/National Geographic)

The safest place to make huge mistakes with no consequences?

Why, as part of the law enforcement/prosecution side of our criminal justice system.  Actually, mostly just the lawyers get to destroy people’s lives due to mistakes and face no consequences.  A police officer who mistakenly shoots someone he should not have may lose his job, and in extreme cases, face prosecution.  But if you are a prosecuting attorney who wrongfully destroys the life of a defendant through willful misbehavior (unless it’s the Duke lacrosse case, the exception that proves the rule), it’s all good.   NC has had an unfortunately long string (and I’m sure we’re not alone) of prosecutorial misconduct sending the wrong man to prison for decades.  And what happens to this bad-faith prosecutors?  Typically, they end up with a little soreness on their wrist.

Case in point, N&O article yesterday about a SBI agent who “took the confession” of a man with an IQ of 50 (and somehow did not realize he was mentally disabled) and wrote it in such language that it was obvious to pretty much everybody (except a credulous jury, apparently) that there’s no way that anybody with an IQ of 50 could have possibly written it.  Meanwhile, once getting this “confession,” he failed to follow up on a number of promising leads or investigate the case further in any meaningful way.  End result?  Wrong man is in prison for 14 years and the state is out an $8 million settlement to him.  And the investigating agent?  Happily working away in his job as if nothing happened.  So wrong!

The misconduct of State Bureau of Investigation Agent Mark Isley has rung up all sorts of costs: a $7.85 million payout for taxpayers and their insurers; 14 years behind bars for an innocent man with a severe mental disability; and another scar for law enforcement.

Isley, however, still has his job at the SBI, and there’s no indication from Attorney General Roy Cooper that it’s in jeopardy.

Cooper, a four-term Democrat, refused to be interviewed last week about Isley and the Brown case. Isley, head of the bureau’s Medicaid Fraud Section, could not be reached for comment.

Jim Coleman, a Duke University law professor and co-director of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic, says wrongdoers in law enforcement are rarely held accountable.

“The misconduct in this case is another black eye for the criminal justice system,” Coleman said. “They simply take the loss and move on as if nothing happened. Until there are consequences, nothing will change.”

The recent settlement ended three years of litigation between the SBI and attorneys for Floyd Brown, a 49-year-old man with an IQ around 50. Records from the lawsuit reveal new details about Isley’s attitude toward the case and his handling of it.

If there’s anybody above the law in this country, it’s those in the district attorney’s offices and those who do their investigations.  This is truly a massive failure of American justice.

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