Two days ago, I wrote:
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Government of the United States is increasingly corrupt.
And immediately I received a bazillion emails from people who thought I should have skipped the adverbs and just said: "The Government of the United States is corrupt."
As it turns out, that's what I said here with reference to the prosecution of Dinesh D'Souza, who has been paraded in handcuffs, made to post bail of half-a-million dollars and hand over his passport, and cannot travel internally within the United States without the permission of a judge. All for a "campaign finance" infraction of $15,000. As I said last month, "Americans should be ashamed of themselves for putting up with" this ugly racket.
Today, Powerline's John Hinderaker writes:
With respect to Dinesh D'Souza, who made a popular documentary film that was critical of Barack Obama and has now been singled out for criminal prosecution, the U.S. Attorney's office in New York made the risible claim that the alleged violation came to light during the FBI's "routine review" of FEC campaign filings. That piqued the curiosity of four Senatorsâ€“Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Charles Grassley, all of whom are members of the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FBI. So they wrote this letter to FBI Director James Comey.
The senators want Director Comey to explain to them what exactly are these "routine reviews" of campaign filings, how are they conducted, and what government entities are involved. Once they have these answers, they'll presumably be reassured by the happy coincidence of an entirely random "routine review" just happening to alight on the one guy in the country who made a hit anti-Obama movie.
John thinks they'll be a long time waiting:
Here is a prediction: the four senators will never get coherent answers to their questions. In particular, they will never get a truthful answer to question number four, "How and why was this particular review initiated..?" I think the U.S. Attorney's prosecution of Dinesh D'Souza is politically motivated and is intended to punish D'Souza for criticizing Barack Obama.
It's certainly an effective punishment, and not just because the malign alliance of a corrupt bureaucracy and a politicized judiciary is unlikely to end well for D'Souza. Years before the eventual outcome will be known, he will have to devote enormous amounts of time and money to fending off Obama's prosecutors that he would have been able to devote to making more movies and books critical of Obama. In effect, this is the government version of a SLAPP suit - a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Obama puts a troublesome critic on ice, and mutes many others.
Are the causes of action in Steyn's counterclaim valid? I won't express a legal opinion here, but I do think that in the broader picture, Mark is on to something. There is zero chance that Mann's lawsuit will ever result in a verdict in his favor. He can't possibly satisfy the actual malice standard, even if you assume that the statements Steyn and others have made about Mann's role in the global warming scam are potentially actionable. But that was never Mann's purpose: his lawsuit was a political act, intended to suppress political debate. Steyn's counterclaim, and his future conduct of his own defense, will join the battle where it counts.
I know nothing about law except what I learned as a schoolboy. For example, way back in 1166, the Assize of Clarendon began what we now understand as the right to trial by jury, which was generally welcomed as an improvement over trial by combat or trial by ordeal. But it's only better if it's the right to a speedy trial. Otherwise, as in the sclerotic and diseased system prevailing here, trial by jury is itself deformed into trial by ordeal. In a speedy-trial system, a litigant has to be very sure that he wants to go to court. But, in America today, an abusive litigant funded by others - as Mann is - well knows that he can simply file a suit and drag things out, taking his opponents out of the public square for years on end - just as Obama plans to do with D'Souza. If the DC Superior Court and whatever dump of a New York courthouse D'Souza winds up in offered the same express service as Henry II did with the Assize of Clarendon, that would be one thing. But, as it is, in America the very justice system itself has become tyrannous. That's its appeal to Mann, and to Obama.
D'Souza's situation is far more serious than mine: The "most powerful man on the planet" has decided to teach him a lesson, pour encourager les autres. In such a disturbing atmosphere, I am mildly reassured that even a mere four senators are willing to push back a little.