Category Archives: Courts

a “bad day”

It has been days since I have watched corporate TV news.  I have been reading, writing, painting and binge-watching Dickens, Trollope, and Austen on Amazon Prime. 

Every time I turn on the corporate news I find CNN hosts interviewing other CNN hosts about their new books.  On MSNBC, I find people like Jason “Island of misfit black girls” Johnson, pontificating and acting like he’s something other than a vicious attack dog there to repeatedly blame the progressives in the Democratic Party for all the failures of the party establishment.    

Morning Joe has turned into a prayer meeting with Joe Scarborough spending whole segments lecturing viewers on what a “true Christian” is.  This is the news?  Mika Brzezinski relentlessly promotes her “know your worth” marketing/money making strategy.  She actually seems to think that people are going to believe this from a woman who “knew her worth” to such an extent she had an adulterous affair and then married her boss.  She defers to him, babies him, allows herself to be regularly demeaned, interrupted and ridiculed by him.  This is women knowing their worth.

In the afternoons, former Senator Claire MacCaskill has taken obsequious behavior to new heights, fawning over Nicolle Wallace at every turn, baking cakes for Wallace and lighting candles on the cake while lauding Wallace’s journalism.  This is the news?

MacCaskill does this while the other members of the panel (including the other prime ass-kisser, Jason Johnson) clap their hands like school children.  It is just nauseating.

There is no, no international news anymore on either CNN or MSNBC.  The amount of information being communicated is almost nil.  It’s like a televised circle-jerk, reporters interviewing other reporters, promoting each other’s books or (worse still) interviewing members of Congress, as if any member of congress is going to say anything either interesting or informative.  There are only a handful of people in the entire Congress who say ANYTHING that is not a collection of focus-group tested nonsense. 

The corporate media is, in short, like a toy my friend told me she bought her grandson a couple of years ago.  I couldn’t even grasp what she was talking about as she described this gadget.  It was a mechanical thing that had no purpose except to move.  It was called a “fidget spinner.”  The corporate news media is an intellectual fidget spinner – words and words and words and interview after interview after interview filling up space, for no reason except to make money for somebody and create the impression that things are under control.  As Scarborough says the “institutions are holding.”

Meanwhile, the institutions are not holding.  The criminal enterprise that was the Trump administration has gone without accountability or punishment, and will continue to do so.  The legal system works to prosecute, hold accountable, and punish only the poor.  We are repeatedly treated to an orgy of spectacle creating the impression that the powerful will be held accountable only to watch the whole sorry exercise collapse.

The Supreme Court which has sold democracy down the tubes with decisions such as Citizens’ United, is poised to further structure the legal system to favor the wealthy and powerful.  The Congress is afraid of its shadow.  If the Biden administration does not do away with the filibuster, alter the Supreme Court, fight for ordinary Americans, and ensure election fairness and security, the Trump/McConnell crime family will be back in power partially in two years, and totally in four.

All you have to do it look at the flood of voter suppression laws that have been passed in Georgia and other states to see that Republicans are going to make sure that the Democrats lose control of the Congress in 2022 and the presidency in 2024.  They are circling like sharks.  All four years of Trump did for them was to give them the smell of blood and demonstrate how easily they could turn this into an authoritarian Christian nationalist state.

Meanwhile, Ari Melber makes jokes, quotes banal rap lyrics (of sexist rap stars) like they were great literature and/or philosophy and interviews celebrities, barely keeping himself from peeing his pants with glee at his proximity to fame.  It is all just really disgusting.

And, then there’s today.  A 21-year-old man has murdered eight women and was on his way to murder more.  But, as the Georgia Sheriff’s office spokesman said, he “had a bad day.”  There are so many things wrong with this story and the coverage of it and the people involved, I don’t know where to begin.

I feel like my mother when she first started watching the O.J. Simpson trial.  She watched for a couple of hours.  “What do you think?”  I said.  “I think they should all be put in prison now,” she replied getting up in disgust to go and read.  “Who?” I asked.  “All of them.”  She said.  “Simpson, the judge, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the reporters, all of them.”  She was, of course, right.

That’s precisely what I feel about everybody involved in this murder case in Atlanta.

The Georgia Sheriff and CNN are talking about “sex addiction” as if sex addiction was  something real.  Law enforcement, politicians and the corporate media are actually mouthing the ludicrous sex equivalent of the “Twinkie Defense” for this Long guy.  The Cherokee Sheriff’s office guy, Baker, found it his responsibility to provide an excuse for a man who walked into businesses that employ women (at starvation wages) to cater to the perverted pleasures of men and murder them.   What is this Baker, Long’s defense attorney?  Official law enforcement provides a narrative for the future jury pool excusing this man because of his “sex addiction.”

“Sex addiction?” There is no such thing as a sex addiction.  It’s a fake con devised by the rehabilitation industry to make money.  No serious person would even allow those two words together to come out of their mouth.  A male reporter on CNN said that the young man “had issues.”  ISSUES?////// ISSUES????????? 

He hates women, that’s the issue, he hates and despises women and has racist exploitive sexual fantasies about them that he felt entitled to act out.  It has nothing to do with addiction.  Long is not mentally ill, that we know of.  He is just the same kind of oppressive, abusive, exploitive, violent bastard that this culture turns out by the millions.  He’s just like Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, that old man who used to be a comedian who doped and then raped women (I’m 70.  I can’t remember his f…ing name), Weinstein, Cuomo, and God knows how many more. 

But, we can’t talk about that.  We can’t talk about a culture that makes the hatred of women fundamental, trades in the commodification of women’s bodies at every turn, provides a market for sexual perversion of every sort and then blames the impoverished women who are forced to participate in it for their own destruction at the hands of the very men they are forced to service. 

This guy “had a bad day.”  That’s what Baker, the Sheriff’s Office guy, said. He had a “bad day” and “issues” and “a sexual addiction.”  No, the women who were killed and their families had a bad day, a tragic day.  This guy acted out his violent racist sexual perversions, violent sexual perversions that are fed every day by the media and the entertainment industry and politics. 

putting together the pieces: reality winner, chris hayes podcast

If you are new to the Reality Winner story, this is an excellent place to begin. There are a number of things I disagree with in this podcast, especially the assumptions and analysis of Chris Hayes at certain points, but it is well worth listen to.

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/explaining-why-reality-winner-still-prison-kerry-howley-podcast-transcript-ncna1119756

Putting the pieces together: reality winner

PUTTING TOGETHER THE PIECES: Reality Winner

In June 2018, Reality Winner pleaded guilty in a plea agreement that resulted in the longest-ever sentence imposed for a leak of national security information to the media.   

As her mother wrote:

Although Reality’s legal team did their best to build a defense for her, the court ruled against them at every turn, and the threat of 10 years in prison and hefty fines if she didn’t prevail at trial became too much to battle against.

Despite having a spotless record, distinguished military service, documented volunteerism, and service to her community, the government’s sentencing memo…portrayed Reality as an enemy of the country.

On August 23, 2018, the court sentenced Reality to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

In a press release, U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine stated that resolving the case with this plea agreement was the best resolution, as a trial…[might] risk the further disclosure of classified information.

He said that the sentence imposed on Reality “promotes respect for the law and affords deterrence to similar criminal conduct in the future” — using Reality as the example. He referred to her as a “quintessential example of an insider threat.”

After releasing a press statement bragging about the length of the sentence, Christine continued to preside over her persecution.  He fought her move for Compassionate Release. 

Sources:

•        https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/atlanta-us-attorney-brings-in-assistants-who-worked-on-voter-fraud-issues-raising-fears-of-political-interference/2021/01/08/c4057f9a-51c9-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html

Twitter: cjjohns1951

Essential reading

Podcast of Preet Bharara

Bharara is a former U.S. Attorney.

In this episode, Bharara interviews Rachael Maddow about her book “Bagman.”

Notes:

Agnew was on the take in Maryland before he was chosen Vice President by Nixon.

Nixon liked Agnew partly because he talked aggressively about race in his speeches and public appearances.

Agnew was essentially getting a cut of every construction contract in Maryland. He wanted to try to establish that relationship with federal contracts.

George HW Bush tried to squelch the investigation into Agnew’s criminal behavior. These Bushes have a lot to answer for. They are a crime family just like the Trumps only better behaved in public and more circumscribed.

When Agnew started to be aware of the fact that he was being seriously investigated, he invented a story that he was the target of assassination plots. He talked publicly about buying a gun to protect himself against government agents.

Agnew engaged in “grievance politics.” He was always the victim being pursued by bad men. After he left office he established a career for himself as an “anti-Semite” for hire.

no federal pandamic plan, mcconnell packing the courts and other morning delights

MORNING RUNDOWN

•       At the beginning of the pandemic, because of the total lack of a federal plan to deal with the problem, New York spent $1.1 billion for supplies to deal with the crisis.  According to the New York Times (NYT) Both the state and city governments entered into contracts rushing to try to deal with the pandemic.  Now they are trying to avoid paying vendors who they say didn’t deliver on time, and making void contracts now that the crisis has abated.  The New York Times called the behavior a “frantic buying spree.”  But, this buying “spree” was the result of the lack of a federal plan and the decision to allow states to bid against each other for emergency supplies. (See NYT, 12/17/20)

•       Several health care workers in Alaska have had severe reactions to the new vaccine.  There is no coverage of the idea that rational people may be reluctant to have a vaccine because it was developed under the Trump administration.  There are almost weekly stories about the Trump administration’s successful influence over the CDC.  The corporate media is filled with stories about how black people and reluctance to get the vaccine.  To give you an idea of how in touch these corporate media people are, one commentator noted that black people were reluctant to get the vaccine because of the Tuskeegee “airmen.”    (NYT, 12/17/20)

•       The Judiciary is time bomb waiting to explode. (NYT, 12/17/20)   The NYT reviewed more than 10,000 published decisions and dissents during the first three years of the Trump administration.  Trump appointees were “more likely…to disagree with peers selected by Democrats…” and “more likely to agree with their Republican colleagues.”  The “published opinions from the nations’ appeals courts this year show that Trump appointees stand out from other judges…”  The “conservative imprint” is only deepening.  One of the reasons we managed to escape another Trump term is the federal judiciary.  But, that is the reason Mitch McConnell is packing the federal courts with “right-thinking” judges.  Next time, these judges may side with even the most outrageous lawsuits to maintain the power of the Republican party.  McConnell has encouraged federal judges to retire to make room for these more radical colleagues. (NYT, 12/17/20)

•       The new version of the stimulus bill doesn’t include the get out of jail fee card for corporations wanted by McConnell (NYT 12/17/20)

What Could Go Wrong?

Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has crafted and circulated to legislators a new “anti-mob” piece of legislation.  This legislation is an expansion of Florida’s “stand your ground” law.  The law would:

  • allow armed citizens to shoot suspected looters or anyone engaged in “criminal mischief” that disrupts a business;
  • allow vigilantes to justify violent actions against protesters;
  • opens for door for death as a punishment for property crimes;
  • allows people to use force against people who engage in criminal mischief that results in the “interruption or impairment” of a business;
  • enhances criminal penalties for those involved in “violent or disorderly assemblies;”
  • makes it a third-degree felony to block traffic during a protest;
  • allows the withholding of state funds from local governments that cut law enforcement budgets.

Ceballos, Miami Herald, 11/10/20).

Nevada: stop the count

5:00 PM

The Nevada Independent is reporting that Trump’s campaign and Nevada Republican Party officials have filed an emergency appeal requesting the Nevada Supreme Court to immediately order Clark County to stop processing mail ballots.

Even though a District Court last week, issued an order denying their request, they have gone to the Nevada Supreme Court. The request is for Clark County to stop using an automatic signature verification machine and to stop “duplication” of all mail ballots. The “duplication” occurs when a mail in ballot has something wrong with it that prevents it being processed by a machine, so another ballot is created to record the vote.

If Clark County doesn’t immediately stop counting, the attorneys argue, “Nevadans – and the rest of the country – will be left wondering whether the results of the election are legitimate.”

The Registrar of Voters in Clark County has stated that if the use of the signature verification machine is stopped, it is unlikely that they will be able to complete the counting of ballots by the deadline set by state law.

And, this is exactly the intent. The Republicans will do anything to win, anything.

We don’t need voluntary capitulation

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Even though a Texas Judge ruled that Republicans who sought to throw out 127,000 ballots cast in drive-thru locations in Harris County, Texas did not have standing, Harris County decided to close down most of its drive-thru voting locations overnight.  Why?  The judge in the case, Andrew Hanen, found it necessary to go beyond the legal issues and advance his own political agenda in his opinion.  Hanen wrote that he wouldn’t vote in these drive-thru voting locations, legal or not.

So, this is where we are in this country.  The court now does not even have to rule against the forces of democracy for a county to voluntarily close down entirely legal voting options.

The County Clerk admits that Republicans are pursuing a strategy of trying to keep Americans from voting, and defends the decision as one which will protect votes.  But, in closing down the voting locations what he does, in the long run, is to encourage Repubicans to do exactly what they have done in this case, i.e., bring a completely baseless lawsuit that clearly has no legitimate basis and use it as intimidation to suppress voting.   

It is not the first time Hanen has used his judicial opinions to go beyond the legal issue at hand and pursue his ideological agenda.  He is in fact notorious for doing so. These are the kinds of judges McConnell and the Republicans have stacked the courts with. 

Make no mistake, when Republicans claim that they oppose “activist judges” they are lying.  They support “activist judges” and are appointing them at record levels. 

There are Democrats in the Senate who are complicit in this packing of the courts with right-wing activists.  And, voluntary capitulation is a characteristic of a country descending into authoritarianism.   

the “elite industrial complex” at work

What Elie Mystal calls the “elite industrial complex” has already started, before the election(which the Democrats are convinced they are going to win) to make the case for allowing Trump and the Republican crime family escape accountability for all the crimes they have committed not least of which is an attempt to subvert democracy and turn this into an authoritarian kleptocratic state.

We wouldn’t even have a crime network running the government, had we a functioning criminal justice system for white collar, corporate and political criminals.  Just take your pick from the various scandals and crimes the Trump family has been accused of (  sexual assault against women, including marital rape; defrauding the U.S. government through racial discrimination in housing; tax fraud; consumer fraud through Trump University; tenant intimidation; bankruptcy fraud; use of undocumented workers, including models; casino fraud; antitrust violations; money laundering; refusing to pay workers and contractors; charitable foundation fraud through the Trump Foundation; various frauds and scams related to ties with organized crime).  As Jeff Wise has written in the New Yorker:  “His entire life, after all, is one long testament to the power of getting away with things, a master class in criminality without consequences..”

But the elite industrial complex has already started working over time to pave the way for minimizing, normalizing and burying Trump’s crimes.  

On October 16, the Washington Post published an astounding article by Jill Lepore who claimed to be responding to a suggestion by Chris Hayes that “if we survive this” (meaning the Trump administration,) we should establish a truth and reconciliation commission.  She noted that NPR did a piece about a truth and reconciliation commission the same week.

“This is a terrible idea.” She wrote. 

Lepore then reminded the reader that this country has a tradition of a “peaceful transfer of power” and of conceding an election “without violence.”  What she didn’t point out was that there is nothing, nothing about a truth and reconciliation commission that implies a non-peaceful transfer of power or a resort to violence.  Lepore is, therefore, objecting to something that has never been proposed, setting up a straw man to knock it down.  This is how she starts.

Lepore then goes on to quote Thomas Jefferson.  “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it.” 

Lepore is arguing that the crime spree that has taken place in the past four years, calls for violence, threats not to allow an election, reminders by the likes of Mike Lee of Utah that the goal is not democracy, are just errors of opinion.  No.  These are not errors of opinion.  Shaping foreign policy to fulfill your own personal agenda and financial interests instead of that of the country is not an “error of opinion.”  Soliciting a bribe from the leader of another country, proposing to release public money in exchange for dirt on a political opponent is not an “error of opinion.”  I could go on for pages if not books in this vein, but you get the point.  Only an imbecile or a propagandist would call these errors of opinion.

The quote itself ends with a phrase that contradicts Lepore’s premise.  Jefferson says to let these folks stand undisturbed “where reason is left free to combat” their wishes to dissolve the union or change its republican form.  But, reason is not free to combat this effort at replacing a democratic system with an autocracy.  We have Fox News churning out propaganda 24 hours a day.  We have social media promoting the worst, most base fear mongering propaganda 24 hours a day.  No.  Reason is not “left free to combat” the threat.  So the quote Lepore’s using contradicts the argument she is advancing.

Lepore then quotes Justice Robert Jackson, chief counsel for the U.S. at the Nuremberg trials.  “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.”

Once again, Leopre’s own quote belies her entire argument.  The crimes and attacks on democracy and justice by the Republicans have indeed been “calculated,” “malignant” and “so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored.”  And, democracy “cannot survive their being repeated.” 

I am not at all convinced that Joe Biden will even win the election.  The Republicans have been working for decades to install a system of voter suppression, stuffing the courts with right-wing religious zealots, voting system manipulation, data mining through social media (Cambridge Analytica) and legislation that erodes voting rights.  They have too much to lose to allow a Biden win and I do not think they will do so.  And withe Supreme Court packed with right-wing ideologues who have no respect for the law, I doubt we will get another chance to hold a fair election.

Lepore goes on to assert that Trump was elected in a “fair election.”  But, there is evidence that this is not the case.  A former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, an expert in election security, has said as much.   We have indictments of Russian nationals who hacked computer systems.  We have a Mueller report that details the handing over of computer voting information to the Russians by Paul Manafort.  And, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Lepore self-righteously asserts that truth and reconciliation commissions don’t take place after democratic elections.  Well, that may well not have been a democratic election.

And, then, idiotically enough, Lepore just asserts, without question, that we can trust “investigative journalism, a functioning judiciary, legislative deliberation and action and dissent” to solve any problems caused by the crime spree of the last four years.

Well, investigative journalism is the first thing to go in newsrooms taken over by conglomerates and has been gutted.  We certainly don’t have investigative journalism from television networks that are owned by corporations.  The Republicans have worked for decades to stock the courts with ideologues who have no respect for law, but for dogma and some of whom have even been deemed incompetent by their own Bar Association.  Mitch McConnell bragged recently on Fox News that he totally blocked any legislative agenda the Obama administration had in the last six years Obama was in office.  And, we just had an impeachment process where Republicans in the Senate voted not to even hear evidence against the President, let alone convict him.  Dissent has been met with violence and illegal surveillance of the protestors, and Lepore is suggesting we rely on people protesting during a pandemic.

In short, this essay is idiocy and the fact that the Washington Post published it is a travesty.  But, as Elie Mystal notes, it’s the “elite industrial complex at work.”  Rick Stengel was on MSNBC waxing poetic about the “lovely” way in which the Biden campaign refused to engage in recriminations.  And, Joe Biden is part of this complex.  As Lepore points out, Biden has already said that pursuing charges against Trump officials is “probably not very…good for democracy.” 

“We are facing too many crises, we have too much work to do, we have too bright a future to have it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division.”  This was Biden at Gettysburg, delivering a speech that had been carefully crafted to make the case for unilateral surrender. 

So, Biden and the “elite industrial complex” like Lepore will work to convince us we just have to engage in “self-reflection.”  Sen. Cory Booker thinks what we need is a “return to civic grace.”

Leopore ends with the statement: “Lock him up” cannot be the answer to “lock her up.”  What she fails to see, however, is that one of them is guilty and the other is not.