Category Archives: Graft, Greed and Corruption

Jury Selection: Ahmaud Arbery Case

Ahmaud Arbery Blog #5, Monday 18 October 2021

Approximately 1,000 people were called for jury duty in the Ahmaud Arbery case in Brunswick, Georgia.  Roughly 600 of them showed up on Monday when jury selection began.

During the first part of the day, the judge considered objections to juror questions.  The judge increased the number of peremptory strikes of both the defense and the prosecution.  In cases where there are multiple defendants, it is common for the judge to increase the number of peremptory strikes.  One lawyer on Court TV, however, commented that he thought it was unusual for the judge to give the prosecution additional strikes.

Defense attorneys tried to exclude the press from juror questioning entirely, but the judge allowed two reporters in the courtroom to take “notes” on jury pool members’ answers to questions. This means that the only access the community has to the answers of potential jurors is filtered through a third party. Because only people involved in the case are allowed in the courtroom, members of the community have no independent source for this information. The reporters are not making a transcript, only making “notes.”

According to these “notes,” one juror who was retired military was dismissed from the jury pool.  This man said that he had a negative view of Gregory McMichael, but not evidently of Travis McMichael.  When asked why, he said that Greory McMichael seemed to him to be the “lead dog.”  This potential juror also said that he got the impression that Gregory McMichael was “stalking” Arbery. 

Another potential juror said that he had seen the video of the killing a number of times and that he was “sick of the video.”  He also said that he had talked about the video with his brothers, one of whom was also called for jury duty.  This same juror claimed not to care what happened in the case, but admitted that he had “said they were guilty.”

Federalist Society Justice: Chris Hedges Interviews Steven Donziger

If you want a glimpse of what the legal system is already looking like under the reign of the Republicans and the Federalist Society, listen to this podcast where Chris Hedges interviews Steven Donziger “the human rights environmental justice attorney, about the grim reality when we confront the real centers of power.Donziger has been fighting polluting American oil companies for nearly three decades on behalf of indigenous communities and peasant farmers in Ecuador, and has been under house arrest in Manhattan for nearly two years. He went on trial in federal court in New York two weeks ago on contempt of court charges, which could see him jailed for six months, for appealing the demand to hand over his computer, cellphone, and other electronic devices to the court, a violation, he argues, of attorney-client privilege. No attorney without a criminal record in federal court has ever before been detained pretrial for a misdemeanor offense.”

YouTube channel: On Contact

People somehow believe that the authoritarian take over of the government will not affect them, that their lives will go on as usual. This is not the case. Increasingly, Republican ideologues are being appointed to the courts. They have no interest in law, reason, or justice. They have interest in power.

In this instance, the courts are persecuting an attorney for daring to confront the criminal behavior of a corporation. Federalist schooled Republican judges are using the criminal justice system to make sure that other attorneys realize that if they go after those in power, they risk their careers, their families and their livelihoods. This case is designed to send a message.

YouTube channel: On Contact

FOR ALMOST THREE MONTHS THERE WERE NO ARRESTS AFTER THE KILLING OF AHMAUD ARBERY IN GLYNN COUNTY, GEORGIA

Cars line up along Highway 17 in Glynn County, Georgia to protest the County handling of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

AHMAUD ARBERY

#2 PROSECUTORS

The date for the trial of the three men who hunted down Ahmaud Arbery and shot him in the street is October 18, 2021 in the Glynn County Courthouse, Brunswick, Georgia.

For almost three months after Arbery, 25, was shot and killed, there were no arrests, no charges brought and almost no local press coverage.  But one of the men who joined the chase of Arbery as Arbery jogged through a Brunswick, Georgia neighborhood filmed the chase and the shooting.  When the video went viral, media attention was attracted to the case.  At that point, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) took the investigation out of the hands of local officials.  Charges were brought in days.

The local prosecutor in Brunswick, Georgia, Jackie Johnson, where the shooting occurred recused herself almost immediately.  Gregory McMichaels, 64, had been a police investigator in her office.  After making a decision to recuse herself, Johnson contacted another local prosecutor, George E. Barnhill, Sr., and asked him to advise the county police department about the case. 

Barnhill then advised the Glynn County Police Department that the three men who armed themselves and pursued Ahmaud Arbery in a suburban neighborhood and then shot him in the street, appeared to have been acting in self-defense. 

At much the same time as she was contacting Barnhill Sr. and asking him to consult with the Glynn County Police Department, Johnson, contacted the state Attorney General and requested a new prosecutor.  The state Attorney General assigned the case to Barnhill Sr., the same Barnhill who had been asked by Johnson to give advice to the Glynn County Police Department.   It is unclear whether Johnson recommended Barnhill to the state Attorney General.  It seems likely that she did.  It was later revealed that Johnson did not tell the state Attorney General that she had requested Barnhill, Sr. to give advice on prosecution to the Glynn County Police Department.

After Barnhill, Sr. was given the case, the family of Ahmaud Arbery found out that Barnhill Sr.’s son worked in Johnson’s office.  They then objected to the elder Barnhill’s appointment.  As far as can be determined, the family was not aware at the time that Johnson had asked and Barnhill,Sr. had already advised the Glynn County Police Department on prosecuting the case.  They were, however, aware that Barnhill Sr.’s son, George F. Barnhill, not only worked as an attorney in the Brunswick DA’s office, but that the younger Barnhill had worked with Gregory McMichaels, on a case against Ahmaud Arbery years before.

After being notified by the family of their objections, Georgia Attorney General, Chris Carr took the Sr. Barnhill off the case and assigned the case to Tom Durden from the Atlantic Judicial Circuit in Hinesville.  Durden announced plans in early May of (2020?) to ask a grand jury to consider criminal charges.

Carr later made a statement that the elder Barnhill never mentioned potential conflicts when he was initially asked to take over the case, nor did Barnhill Sr. mention that he had already offered the Glynn County police department an “initial opinion.”  This opinion was that the three men had most likely acted in self defense, i.e., that they should not be prosecuted.

The case was later transferred to the DA in Cobb County, Georgia.  It is unclear why Durden was taken off the case.  

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported in June of 2021 that a grand jury had been convened to investigate the actions of DA Jackie Johnson in the Ahmaud Arbery case.

it’s not the job of the government to protect people. It’s the job of the government to make money for people (our people): FDA and aduhelm

A day after a Fox News anchor, Brian Kilmeade, argued that it was not the job of the government to protect people, the NYT is reporting that the FDA approved the use of a drug, Aducanumab, manufactured by Biogen when there was no conclusive evidence that the drug was effective in treating Alzheimer’s.

As is noted in the Times, officials from Biogen worked closely with the FDA during the application process to “…jointly assess the data and chart a path forward.” They also participated in a “joint Biogen-FDA presentation to a committee of independent experts.”

It took a consumer advocacy group filing a complaint and demanding an inspector’s general investigation of the “collaboration” to initiate an internal review. 

essential podasts: ahmaud arbery. “I just need to know what he was doing wrong.”

https://www.wabe.org/shows/buried-truths/

On a Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery jogged through a neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia.  He had jogged in the neighborhood before.

But, this jog ended with a retired police investigator and his son, Greg and Travis McMichaels, jumping into their pick up truck and pursuing Arbery.  They shot Arbery in the street and killed him.

For nearly three months, the police, prosecutors, and press DID NOTHING.  Only when a video of the killing surfaced on social media was national attention focused on the case and the total lack of action about the murder. 

Another man in the Satilla shores neighborhood phoned 911 about Arbery jogging.  After a few seconds, the caller said: “He’s running now” referring to Arbery.  The 911 operator asked:    “What is he doing?”  Then, she asked: “I just need to know what he was doing wrong.” 

Every citizen of this country needs to listen to the podcast about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery based on an investigation conducted by members of Emory University.

“I just need to know what he was doing wrong.” 

ON POINT WITH RENATO MARIOTTI: MATT GAETZ

CORPORATE NEWS IS NOT WORTH YOUR TIME

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti talks about the possible prosecution of Matt Gaetz.

Notes on the Podcast

  • Gaetz has finally hired an attorney and stopped running his mouth so publicy.
  • Gaetz is trying to act like Trump in response to the investigation.  The big difference is that Trump controlled the Justice Department, Gaeta does not.
  • There is no accountability.  We are still waiting for Trump to be indicted.
  • Barr did fantastic job misleading the pubic about Trump’s collusion with the Russians. 
  • Gaetz thinks he can talk his way out of this.
  • Gaetz’s girlfriend is the daughter of a big donor.
  • Greenberg was the tax collector in Seminole County.  He created a website slandering his political opposition as a pedophile.
  • This person, went to authorities which led to an investigation of Greenberg.
  • The investigation uncovered evidence of an identity theft scheme, making drivers licenses for women he is meeting on a Sugar Daddy website. 
  • Then, the investigation led to uncovering his interactions with an underage girl who had been interacting with Matt Gaetz.
  • Politico reported that a few days before Greenberg was indicted, he texted all his buddies that they had better lawyer up.  This text provided the feds a list of witnesses.
  • They don’t need to prove Gaetz knew her age.
  • There’s the sex trafficking statute (Commercial Sex Act) they can prosecute him under.  This involves transporting underage person for commercial sex.
  • They would argue that this wasn’t commercial sex.
  • Gaeta has a very good lawyer. 
  • Gaetz is sending payments to Greenberg and Greenberg is distributing the money.  Greenberg can testify about the purpose of the payments. 
  • Greenberg can tell the story of the criminal activity.

https://tunein.com/podcasts/News–Politics-Podcasts/On-Topic-with-Renato-Mariotti-p1151906/?topicId=162380555

Economic rape and the republicans

  • The Republicans are turning a massive failure of infrastructure and privatization in Texas into a condemnation of renewable energy.  Even the Governor of the State is on national television spewing lies and disinformation. 
  • Gov. Greg Abbott, on Fox News, said that the problem was caused by renewable energy systems.
  • Officials were told in 2011 that they needed to winterize the Texas system.  But, the State of Texas didn’t make that winterization and other changes obligatory.  Because the grid is operated by private companies, allowed to make as much profit as they can, the State failed to winterize and now we are watching people lose their lives.
  • Message #1: Don’t elect people to run government that don’t believe in government.
  • Message #2: Capitalism is going to kill us.
  • Message #3: We are living in a failed state. 

scarborough, both sidesism, fbi, georgia is not a beacon of hope

Joe Scarborough, both-sideser in chief and head MSNBC misogynist is at it again this morning joined by his usual kiss ass crew.  He got in a little trouble yesterday by repeatedly asking guests whether it was necessary to impeach Trump.  The dreadful Mika told him to stop and he responded like the petulant bully he is, by berating her and trying to embarrass her on national television.

This morning, he and Peter Baker are trying to figure out how “we” can work with the Republicans like James Langford, who have suddenly had an attack of conscience over trying to overthrow an election.

But, for Scarborough and Baker, that’s just a minor blip.  Sedition?  Just apologize and Scarborough will find a way to launder your reputation (if you are a Repubican). 

Baker’s contribution to this was to lament the fact that, in his words, both sides have decided to go back into their partisan corners.  Equal corners, right?  One side is providing the rationale for sedition and the other is trying to restore democracy, but they are both equally to blame. 

On to other matters.

On Ari Melber’s MSNBC show last night, Eugene Robinson (Mr. Mild Manners himself) said that the Republicans created this division and now they are buying body armor.

AOC was evidently so afraid when the attack was going on, she was fearful of going into a safe room with Republicans.  She thought they might lead the attackers to her.  It was not an unreasonable suspicion since one of the members of the House was texting out the location of Nancy Pelosi.

Lindsey Graham characterized the impeachment proceedings as “sheer hatred.”  I can’t wait to find out why Graham did a 180 turn to support Trump.  Maybe if Trump gets more and more frustrated, he will start to spill the dirt. 

Rep Madeleine Dean, who will be one of the impeachment managers said “Lindsay Graham knows better.”   “You too” she said referring to Graham, “are complicit…” 

Trump evidently brought Bannon back into the sedition circle.  Roger Stone was the one who came up with the “Stop the Steal” rallying cry. 

Tony Schwartz is saying that Trump is now moving “between rage and delusion.”  And that Trump has unleashed forces that we may well see become more powerful in the future.  

Peter Strzok, former FBI, expressed “frustration and anger” at the lack of preparedness at the Capitol.  If you look at other events, Strzok argued: “The government can secure the capitol when it wants to and that didn’t happen here.”  Strzok said that the tour groups that evidently went through the Capitol the day before the assault needed to be “looked into.”

Elizabeth Newmann, former Assistant Secretary for Threat Presentation and Security Policy at DHS, explained that the Terrorist Watch List is a separate list from the No Fly List and is broader, larger.  She says it includes “suspected white supremacists.”  But, she also said, this list functions more as an alert system than a surveillance system.  If, for example, someone got arrested, law enforcement could run the name and the person would show up as on this Terrorist Watch List.  But, there is no ongoing surveillance on these people.  So, they could all decide to go to Washington at the same time and go and there would be no automatic alert because of this list.

Last night, Rachael Maddow was commenting on the absurdity of having people on this list, but not knowing that they were all converging on the same problematic location.  The only way law enforcement could know this is if these people were under constant surveillance and I’m not sure that’s what we want.

A number of people are already pointing out on Twitter and in articles that this siege of the Capitol may well end up working to the disadvantage of legitimate protest.  As always, it’s easy to argue for more surveillance of individuals when they are opposed to you politically.  But, these same surveillance measures can be turned quickly against legitimate protest.

I heard no discussion yesterday of the way in which a person might be put on this Terrorist Watch List.  Once on this list, are you ever taken off?  What surveillance measures can the government take after you are put on this list? These are questions we need to answer.

Newman, after explaining the list, went on to say that there was “no excuse for the lack of preparation” at the capitol.  She pointed out that that the Executive Branch, while reluctant to tell another branch of government what to do, has a “duty to warn” of dangerous situations.  They, for example, should have issued a “Joint Intelligence Bulletin.”  They did not.  “They knew that violence was planned” Newman continued.  “You always assume the worst, prepare for the worst…”

Petef Strzok expressed disappointment that we had not heard from Director Wray.  He wondered whether the FBI attempted to warn other agencies but was prevented from doing so.  Strzok didn’t say by whom. 

Anna Palmer noted that since the COVID outbreak, the Capitol had been like a “ghosttown.”  She noted the extensive security measures for even going into the Capitol as a reporter.  “It’s been months since people were even around” she noted.  These tours were highly unusual. 

Biden has named Jamaal Bowman head of the DNC.  It has not escaped notice that Bowman is against Medicare For All. 

And, lastly, in Georgia…

I had an interesting exchange with a friend on Facebook.  He commented that when the FBI asked all these low-level attackers who are being arrested if they had any coordination or contact with Congressmen or Trump, they would flip and implicate them.

I responded: True, if the FBI agents ask them.

Now, as usual, he took exception to this.  Most people, especially those who have worked around law enforcement accept a law enforcement ethos.  They resist any aspersions on the integrity of the force, even confronted with daily evidence to the contrary.

He responded in a curious way.  First he said that I shouldn’t paint all agents with a “broad brush.”  Seemed to me that he was painting them with a broad brush, just assuming that the FBI would be trying to turn offenders on higher ups.  Why this assumption is made, I don’t know. 

We have just witnessed years of the most curious behavior on the part of the FBI and the Justice Department in recent memory.  Why did James Comey make public the absurd reopening of the investigation of Hillary Clinton right before the 2016 election?  Why did he within the past few days argue publicly that Biden should pardon Trump?  What was going on in the New York City office of the FBI in 2016 that almost lead to a work stoppage?  These are just a few threads that need to be followed up here.  In addition, why was the Justice Department so easily compromised by Jeff Sessions and then Bill Barr?  Why was the Mueller investigation so limited as to make it meaningless?

I’m sorry, but I just don’t think we can assume that all those FBI agents out there are crusaders for justice especially when it comes to investigating people at the top of the food chain.  (See Jesse Eisinger’s “The Chickenshit Club.)

Then, my friend said that the last time he talked to me I was (overly) concerned “dismayed” with voter suppression in Georgia, and Georgia had become the beacon of election security.  Georgia, he said had become the “honest election state that is saving democracy. What truly happened?”

Now, I have no idea what this last paragraph has to do with FBI agents working overtime to get dirt on powerful Congressmen, but there you are.

I find the statement amazing.  I fully realize that the media, prone as they are to simplistic narratives, is trying to make heroes out of Raffensperger, Sterling and Kemp, but anybody who reads should know that Georgia is far from a beacon of hope.

Brian Kemp’s government spent a fortune on a fancy new voting machine system.  And they conducted a propaganda operation by replacing all the “I voted” material with “I secured my Vote.”  It was all a propaganda operation.  I did poll worker training in Georgia before the general and I left at lunch and didn’t go back.  It was obvious to me then that the new system was unwieldy and full of holes.  The measures taken to “secure the vote” were geared toward security threats in the 19th century.  Nobody could answer questions about hacking into the system. 

Even though the media has touted “paper ballots” as an indication of transparency, in Georgia, they are not really “paper ballots.”

The ballots are marked by a machine.  Then, the voter gets a sheet of paper which has his choices printed on it. The voter is supposed to check these choices to make sure they are right.  But, the scanners that count the votes do not even register the words printed on the ballot.  They count a bar code at the bottom of the ballot.  The voter cannot read the bar code.  The poll workers cannot read the bar code.  I don’t think anybody outside of the Voting Machine company can read the bar codes.  It’s protected by law.  What kind of state of affairs is that?

Before the general election, Brian Kemp’s government made a decision that any recount in Georgia would be done by simply feeding the same ballots (with the same bar codes) through the scanners again.

In short, Georgia spent a fortune on a voting system that is impenetrable.  They regularly send out “experts” who claim that the system cannot be hacked.  But, Jennifer Cohn, Jonathan Simon and the Coalition for Good Governance have repeatedly offered evidence that at best, we don’t know this.

In addition, Kemp is the king of voter suppression.  That’s how he won a race against Stacey Abrams for governor.  Raffensperger and Sterling were in the voter suppression game up to their eye balls.  Kemp, Raffensperger and Sterling are like the guys who are willing to drive the getaway car, but not willing to go into the liquor store with the gun.

Oh,

Just in case you hadn’t heard…Kyle Rittenhouse is out on bail and sitting in a bar drinking and yucking it up with the Proud Boys. Reality Winner has COVID and in still in jail.  I know she’s not receiving her mail because I have a box of returned letters.

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.

Podcast: Preet Bharara

https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/preetbharara

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.

Angew 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.