Category Archives: Justice

OPENING SUBMISSIVE STATEMENT: AMY CONEY BARRETT: HANDMAIDEN OF OPPRESSION

Just note the phrases of submission, of deliberate non-threatening language in the opening statement of ACB. The play here is: Look, this is a soft-spoken, non-threatening, non-intellectual mom, home, apple pie person. How could you be afraid of this? But, make no mistake about it, this woman is the handmaiden of oppression.

Statement:

“I thank the President”  “my family” “I thank” “I am especially grateful” “it has been a privilege” “my family” “my husband” “have been married” “he has been a selfless” “marriage”  Marriage “is easy.”  “far luckier in love than I deserve.”  “parents” “wonderful children.” “parents” “her parents’ “love” “liberal arts” “brought him home” “happy-go-lucky”  “kind” “our delight” “loves watching movies” “mom” “siblings” “dearest friends” “happy” “so grateful” “my parents” “my parents” “life of service, principle, faith and love.”  “grade-school spelling bee” “Dad sang” “devoted teachers” “high school” “literature class” “my first presentation” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” “feared I had failed” “my professor” “filled me with confidence” “mentor” “degree in English” “passion for words” “legal mentors” “my first job” “continues to teach me” “he is cheering me on”  “from his livingroom” “taught me” “devoted to his family” never let the law define my identity” “discussed the issues with my colleagues” “remain mindful” “I read every word from the perspective of the loosing party” “one of my children was the party””I would understand” “fairly reasoned” “deeply honored”  “sacrifice, particularly from my family” “believe deeply” “humility” “with appreciation” “I was nine years old” “grace and dignity” “When I was 21 years old” “just beginning my career” “forever grateful” “honor of a lifetime” “valued colleague” “I might bring a few new perspectives” “first mother of school age children” “only sitting justice who didn’t attend law school at Harvard or Yale.”  “Maybe I could even teach them a thing or two about football.”  “I would like to thank” “reached out with messages of support” “I believe in the power of prayer” “so many people are praying for me.”  “I pledge faithfully”

The Supreme Court is a nightmare.

Women, just think about where we are. This statement was not an exposition of brilliant legal reasoning. Instead, it was a woman displaying stories about her children, her husband and how wonderful he is, how she might teach men on the Supreme court something ABOUT FOOTBALL. What a f…ing embarrassment. Disgraceful.

Ginsburg, celebrity culture and “civil grace.”

Saturday 19 September 2020

I despise the celebrity culture that has taken over this country.  The Democratic National Convention was nothing other than a cheap, vacuous, celebrity infomercial devoid of policy and full of “cult of personality” programming.  It was an embarrassment. 

Somehow, we were supposed to believe that because Joe Biden is a nice guy and has lost family members, he should be president of the United States.  Somehow, we were supposed to pat ourselves on the back and glory in the fact that we had nominated an African American, Asian woman to be vice president.  Never mind the policies of these two people.  Never mind their histories.  It is supposed to be enough that these two are telegenic, just as nice as they can be, and fit certain categories of human beings.

That is evidently where we are.

After the convention we were treated to more infomercials.  In one of them, Kamala Harris had a charming, laughing, conversation with Barak Obama about Biden liking ice cream and wearing a certain kind of sunglasses.  This was seriously intended to get us to vote for the Democrats – the fact that the party elite could chat on television and laugh about the personal foibles of the candidate.  This is what they think of us.  This is nothing but insulting.

In the true fashion of this celebrity worship culture we have going on, the corporate media is this weekend, endlessly talking about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  We are in the middle of a war for  a democratic society, and we are engaging in celebrity worship.

As Elie Mystal pointed out writing in the Nation, we don’t have time for this, and Ginsburg would be the first person to see that we don’t have time for this.

Ginsburg occupied a pivotal position on the U.S. Supreme Court and her death has created a crisis that just illustrates the dysfunction of the government and the society.  The death of a judge, one judge, shouldn’t throw the country into a crisis.  The appointment of one judge shouldn’t mean the difference between democracy and authoritarianism.  But, it does.  It hands to the Republicans the opportunity to conclusively warp this society into an authoritarian kleptocratic state devoid of rights for regular ordinary human beings. 

This is where we are.  We have to fight this authoritarian take-over with everything in our beings.  But, tonight, on CNN they are hosting Scalia’s son to discuss (out of all the other things about Ginsburg’s life) the beautiful relationship between Ginsburg and one of the arch enemies of law and therefore democracy, Antonin Scalia. 

I’m sorry but I just can’t stomach this.  I suppose there is somewhere, something laudatory about being able to be friends with people who are sitting at the peak of privilege and wealth and power and working to destroy democracy and the rule of law for the rest of us, but I just don’t see it. 

If we have to sit through this eulogizing of Ginsburg, the last thing we need is to have right-wing Federalist Society zealots to talk about her.  The last thing we need is to try to convince people that what we need is more bipartisan cooperation.  No, we need less, and we need to fight for democratic law and democratic institutions.

The corporate Democrats who have much more reason to talk about Ginsburg, are bad enough.  Last night, Nina Totenberg was on Rachael Maddow talking about her friendship with Ginsberg.  She said wistfully that Ginsburg had planned to retire in 2016 and have her successor named by the first woman president.  Isn’t that special?  I might plan to have thoroughbred horses fly out of my ass, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

This story was presented as if it demonstrated something positive about Ginsburg, and it has been retweeted today by people who obviously think the same thing.

To me, it just demonstrates what was wrong with the Democratic Party elite in 2016 and what is still wrong with the Democratic Party elite today. 

Barak Obama declined to tell the American people the truth about something crucially important to them.  He refused to tell them that Russian operatives had intervened in the 2016 election to the extent of penetrating the voting systems in 50 states. 

Obama made this decision, as far as I can tell, because first, he was afraid of the reaction of Republicans if he came out and told the American people without bipartisan support.  He was so afraid of appearing partisan he lied by omission, lied about something vital to the functioning of democracy.  Mitch McConnell refused to join Obama and make a public, bipartisan statement and Obama didn’t have the guts to do it alone.

Second, Barak Obama was afraid of tarnishing his cherished legacy by appearing to be “partisan” in the 2016 election.  He was more concerned with his legacy (to people who despise him) than his country. 

Third, Barak Obama was so sure Hillary Clinton was going to win, he decided he wouldn’t have to tell the truth to the American people.  Clinton could solve the problem after she was elected.

All three of these excuses stink to high heaven and again illustrate something characteristic about the Democratic corporate elite.

This professional class of Democrats think they know better than the American people how to run the country.  They think that their judgement is better than everybody else’s. 

They can handle, among themselves, an unprecedented intrusion into the election process.  Why tell the unwashed masses?

Obama reportedly thought that telling the truth would shake the confidence of the American people in the election process.  He’s not the only member of the Democratic elite to think this.  There are an astounding number of people out there who will react like vicious dogs if the integrity of the election process is even questioned.

The logic of this position just amazes me.  It goes something like this.  The election process has been corrupted but we mustn’t tell the American people because it might shake their confidence in an election process that because of corruption can be no longer relied on.  So, it’s better to have the American people believe a lie, continue to trust an election system that can’t be trusted.  It’s better because we (the Democratic elite) can deal with it ourselves, behind closed doors.  That worked out really well.

This same kind of hubris evidently led Ruth Bader Ginsburg to think she could continue (in ill health and advanced age) to sit on the Supreme Court and have Clinton name her replacement.  Having the first woman president name her replacement made a good story, a fitting end to her career.  And, like Obama, she was convinced (so convinced she was willing to risk our future) that Clinton was going to win.  Even with a compromised election process (which they all knew about), Clinton’s baggage and low approval ratings and an e-mail scandal, Clinton was going to win.  Why?  Because they wanted her to.

I’ve got news for these people.  They don’t get to determine what’s going to happen.  They don’t control events.  What kind of delusional hubris leads one to stay in a position at the Supreme Court, a crucial position, a history changing pivotal position, counting on the fact that they are going to waltz out with the first woman president because that’s what they want to happen?

I’m sorry.  Ginsburg appears to have been a wonderful person, lawyer, activist, but someone genuinely concerned with and committed to the struggle, with the future of the country for ordinary people, would have resigned during Obama’s administration to make sure that the ideals she believed in and fought so hard for, had a chance of continuing. 

And, I fault not only Ginsburg but Obama and his administration for not pushing her resignation.  I ask you: What is wrong with these people?   

I keep going back to a film quote.  As Yankees are overrunning Atlanta, Aunt Pittypat is concerned about Scarlet having a chaperone.  Dr. Meade, in utter and complete frustration yells:  “Good God, woman, this is a war, not a garden party.”

But, this Democratic elite – the politicians, the “strategists,” the pollsters, the pundits – all of them are so filled with pride and smug assuredness that they can’t see what is happening around them.

Even now, after all the mistakes of 2016, the Democratic corporate elite seems to be waltzing off an electoral cliff supported by their own delusions.

Ginsburg wasn’t a healthy 50-year-old.  They knew she was ill, had known for years.  If they couldn’t convince her to resign when Obama could nominate a successor, they should have had a strategy for what they were going to do if she suddenly died during Trump’s administration.  They should have hit the ground running on Friday night, not sat stunned, grief stricken, and still counting on the Republicans to “do the right thing.” 

I mean, Jesus F…ing Christ.  Anybody who is now, four years into this administration, relying in any way on the Republicans to do the right thing, is just brain dead (I include Cory Booker in that category).

For the first time on Friday night, I heard Chris Hayes interview somebody (Rebecca Traister) who sounded like I and a lot of other people have felt for four years.  Traister was and said she was terrified and furious.  She sounded like somebody who was terrified and furious, not like the stable of “calmers”, the “institutions are holding” gang on MSNBC who have been interviewed today.  Cory Booker, Klobuchar, the presidential historians, Hirono (as much as I love her), Capehart, Jarrett.

I swear I think that part of the deal to convince all the corporate democrats to drop out of the race and endorse Biden was an agreement by MSNBC to interview them every fifteen minutes.

Last week, Cory Booker was on Ari Melber’s (also disgustingly celebrity laden) show claiming that what we needed was a “return to civic grace.”  That’s Booker’s answer to an authoritarian take-over, a return to “civic grace.”  I’m sure Mitch McConnell will take that “return to civic grace” and stuff it up Booker’s nose.

elie mystal, writing in the nation @elienyc

Elie Mystal, today, writing in the Nation:

I would like to mourn her. But even Ginsburg herself realized there would be no time for that.

McConnell has already removed the filibuster rule for Supreme Court appointments, which means he needs only 50 votes to confirm a new justice (since the vice president breaks any ties), and he has 53 Republicans.

It’s not hard to see how McConnell will control his caucus. Remember, while some Republicans will occasionally furrow their brows in performative outrage at the latest Trump tweets, almost all of these people are in favor of the hardcore conservative legal policies Ginsburg spent her life opposing.

Republican senators might not like Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, but they love taking health care away from millions of people; they love the deregulation that leads to environmental destruction; and they consider it a moral imperative to reduce a pregnant woman to the legal status of a medical incubator…

Obama either didn’t anticipate McConnell’s unprecedented maneuver to block his nominee or thought that Garland’s moderate stances would cause other Republicans to resist McConnell’s gambit to block him.

These are people who support “…the right to bear shoulder-launched grenades…”

It would now seem like the list of potential Supreme Court nominees Trump produced last week was released with some kind of inside information about Ginsburg’s failing health

McConnell has proven that the composition of the Supreme Court is a function of raw political power.

We must do everything we can to stop McConnell from filling Ginsburg’s seat and, however that turns out, we must retake political power and reform a Supreme Court that has been irrevocably broken by McConnell’s ongoing hypocrisy.

Two justice systems: lori loughlin

DAILY BLOG:

  • Lori Loughlin was sentenced to two months for paying bribes to get her daughters into USC.  Loughlin not only paid a bribe, she cheated some other deserving student out of a college education.
  • There are two justice systems in this country.  Race and class intersect to create sentence disparities.
  • While some studies report that arrest and prison admission rates are “dropping” for black people it’s because that rate dropped from black people going to state prison eight times the rate of whites, to five times.
  • And, black people are spending longer in prison. 
  • https://www.themarshallproject.org/2019/12/03/the-growing-racial-disparity-in-prison-time
  • According to a U.S. Sentencing commission Report, black men receive 19% longer sentences than white men for similar crimes.
  • The report also found that judges are more likely to use their discretion to cut an offender’s sentence if the offender is white.

We cannot continue to have a justice system that fails to prosecute white collar, corporate and political criminals.

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GEORGIA ON MY MIND: Voting in Brian Kemp’s Georgia

kemp
Stealing the Vote
 
The Republicans are using a variety of methods to steal this election. At the moment, the focus is on disenfranchising people because their ballots by mail don’t arrive on time. The Republican party is actively sabotaging the post office to make sure that your ballot doesn’t arrive on time. But, this is just one of the issues.
 
In Georgia, for example, if the signature you use to sign your mail-in ballot does not match exactly the signature as you wrote it when you got your driver’s license, they can (and I suppose will) throw it out. For example, I use my first two initials and my last name to sign almost everything. It’s quicker and easier. But, I also sometimes write my first name, middle initial and last name. On the ballot I just used in the primary, I signed both ways just to make sure there was no confusion. Today, I learned that this means that my ballot was almost certainly thrown out.
 
If your signature changes in any way, since you applied for your driver’s license, your ballot can be thrown out.
 
There are a thousand and one different catches like this that can be used to throw your vote out.
 
1) ballot arrives late due to post office
2) signatures that don’t exactly match your driver’s license signature
3) having had your name stricken from the voter rolls because a name similar to yours appears in another state. (Read Greg Palast’s book about how many people were purged in Georgia because their first and last names were the same as someone in another state (for example, George Mason). These people were purged even though the Georgia person was named George A. Mason and the Virginia person was George B. Mason; even though the birth dates were different.
4) having been purged from the voter registration roles because you didn’t vote in two elections
 
This list goes on and on and on. It’s not reading that I especially enjoy, but if you want to understand the true depth of the voter manipulation that is going on, you have to do it. They are depending on people not reading about this, not researching this.
 
They are also depending on people NOT WANTING TO BELIEVE that the voting system is this terrible. I have had friends, Democrats, get angry, really angry because I tried to tell them about the research demonstrating how much vote manipulation is going on (in this case in Georgia). People get mad because they want to think that all they have to do is vote.
 
There is a reason the state of Georgia spent a small fortune on complicated new voting machines just before the election. And, there is a reason they made every polling place replace all their signs that said “I voted” with “I secured the vote.”  This is a propaganda campaign to convince people that their vote is counted in a fair election.
 
To give you just one example: the state of Georgia maintains that you have a paper ballot with these machines . A paper ballot means that your vote can be verified, right? You get a piece of paper printed out with your voting choices on it. You are supposed to check these and make sure they are right before running the paper ballot through the scanner which records your vote.
 
But, your actual vote, the vote that is recorded by the scanner that you put your ballot through, does not even recognize the printed material. It reads a bar code at the bottom of the page that YOU CANNOT READ. So, just because you check and see in the printed part that you voted for Biden, nothing prevents the bar code from saying you voted for Trump. You would never know.
 
Just recently, the State of Georgia said that in any recount, the recount would be confined to running the ballots through the scanner again. IF YOUR VOTE WAS RECORDED INCORRECTLY IN THE BAR CODE, RUNNING IT THROUGH THE SCANNER AGAIN ISN’T GOING TO CHANGE THAT.
 
The State of Georgia (run by the criminal Brian Kemp) was explicit. Any recount would involve ONLY running the ballots through the scanner again.
 
We cannot just assume that “overwhelming voter turn out” will win this election for us. Voter turnout means nothing if your vote is not counted, or counted incorrectly.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Maxwell, Epstein and Political Context

jeffrey epstein

There are two documentaries out about Jeffrey Epstein.  One, “Who Killed Jeffrey Epstein?” is part of a series by Investigation Discovery.  The other is a Netflix release “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” based on a book by James Patterson.

But, as Elizabeth Vos points out in an article in the Consortium News (6/18/20), neither covers Epstein’s place in a larger political narrative.  In treating Epstein’s activities as separated from their political context, they turn Epstein into a sexual predator, committing crimes that float free of their political context.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were part of an international scheme to compromise and then blackmail influential people.  There is evidence that this operation was part of the compromising of the Republican party long before Trump became the nominee.

Even though Epstein’s death in prison is widely accepted and indeed repeatedly reported as a “suicide” no thinking person can accept that narrative on face value.  There is so much that is suspicious about the death and there is a plethora of evidence of the interests of powerful and rich people in his silence.  Epstein knew the secrets of a lot of powerful people and his death was essential to protect those people.  The refusal of the media to question that death is just part and parcel of their subservient status with regard to those in power.

Ghislanie Maxwell, who had finally been arrested in New Hampshire on July 2, 2020, is the daughter of Robert Maxwell, the former owner of the New York Daily News and The Mirror.  He was given what Vos describes as a “state funeral” in Israel after his mysterious death in 1991.  Maxwell “fell off” his yacht in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, much like enemies of the Russian state repeatedly “fall” out of windows.

Israeli sources say that Epstein worked for Israeli military intelligence.   Ari Ben-Menache, a former Israeli intelligence officer, told Consortium News that Robert Maxwell introduced his daughter and Epstein to Israeli intelligence after they engaged in a blackmail operation for Israel.

According to Ben-Measche’s book “Epstein: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “[Epstein] was taking photos of politicians f**king fourteen-year-old girls — if you want to get it straight. They [Epstein and Maxwell] would just blackmail people, they would just blackmail people like that,” he says in the book.

 

Glynn County, Georgia: Site of the Aubery Killings

browning Michael Browning, Glynn County Commission

 

It was in Glynn County, Georgia that three men stalked and killed Ahmaud Arbery.  One of the men documented the killing on video.  But, when police from the Glynn County Police Department arrived at the scene of the murder, they made no arrests.  One of the three men, Gregory McMichaels, is a former police officer and investigator for the Glynn County DA’s office.  Gregory McMichaels, his son Travis, and a neighbor who filmed the murder were allowed to go home after pretty much dictating the police report.

Later, another officer from the Glynnn County Police Department phoned the mother of jogger, Ahmaud Arbery, and told her that her son had been killed in a burglary.  This was untrue.

The DA in the county promptly recused herself from the case giving as the reason that Gregory McMichael had worked as a police officer in the 1980s and in the district attorney’s office until 2019.  She passed the case on to another DA who maintained that the two men were acting in self defense and should not be charged.

The case was later shifted to another DA.

Meanwhile, the Aubery family’s lawyer released the videotape of the killing and there was a public outcry as citizens watched these three men shoot and kill another man in broad daylight.

After bringing in investigators from the state, the three men were eventually charged, but only after a public outcry and national coverage of the murder.

Much of the attention in the case has been on the District Attorneys involved and their unwillingness to bring charges against the three men.  What should also have been brought out was the history of the Glynn County Police Department which not only failed to make an arrest in the case, but for whom one of the assailants (Gregory McMichael) used to work as a police officer and investigator.

The Glynn County Police Department has a history and it is not a proud one.  As Page Page, a criminal defense attorney in Glynn County stated in an interview, “There is not just one prior case.  There are many prior cases.  And each one is a separate Netflix episode.”

In 2018, Glynn County Police Lt. Robert Sasser killed his estranged wife and a man she had been seeing.  He then took his own life.  This final act followed a history of problematic behavior, much of it witnessed by members of the very police department he worked for.  But, that police department failed to act.

The family of Sasser’s wife is now suing the police department arguing that the department’s failure to act led to their daughter’s death.

In 2010, Sasser and another officer were involved in a brutal police shooting of a woman who led them on a low-speed chase.  The officers opened fire on her.  Nevertheless, Sasser avoided any punishment for the act and remained on the force.  The family of this woman is also taking legal action.

In 2018, the police department saw its certification with the state taken away because it did not meet basic police standards.  Part of the report that led to the de-certification noted that even though African Americans make up 26% of the population in the county, they make up only %12 of the police force.

In 2019, the county’s drug task force was disbanded after a state-led investigation.  This investigation found misconduct by Glynn County police officers, one of whom was having sex with an informant.

Then, Glynn County Police Chief John Powell, was indicted for perjury and witness tampering.  This was four days after the Arbery shooting.  This police chief remains on administrative leave.

County Commissioners have defended the police department handling of the Arbery case.  They blamed the DA for the decision not to arrest the three.  Commissioner Peter Murphy said that the police were told by the DA’s office not to make an arrest.

The DA, Jackie Johnson, says her office didn’t tell the police whether to make an arrest.  Johnson maintained that the police and the county commission wanted to smear her.

“I think it’s retaliation for me being the whistleblower on their police department multiple times over the last year.”

We have no idea what this means.

In June of 2020, the Glynn County Commissioners (some of whom are lame ducks leaving office) met to approve creating a new job for the Police Chief, John Powell.  Approximately $150,000 of county “reserve” funds were to be used to make a job for the indicted Police Chief.

But, the local newspaper, the Brunswick News, reported that the vote was to occur.  When the County Commissioners met at a scheduled meeting all had agreed to, two of the members were missing.   One of the Commissioners gave a statement to the local newspaper that it would be “unfair” for the Commission to go ahead without the missing two members.

I suspect that what he meant was that they didn’t want to go ahead unless all the Commissioners were implicated in the decision.

The members present voted to “defer” the decision about using county funds during a pandemic to create a job for the indicted police chief.  The Commissioners failed to reveal when they planned on meeting again.

The outrage about the history of the Glynn County Police Department had led to a bill passed by the Georgia legislature allowing the citizens of Glynn County to vote on whether they wanted to dissolve the Police Department entirely.

The Glynn County Commissioners announced through one Michael Browning (one of the lame ducks) that the County Commission would hire lawyers and pay them with county funds to sue the state of Georgia if they went ahead with plans to allow the citizens of Glynn County to vote on dissolving the police department.

 

Glynn County Commissioners: Update, Job for Indicted Police Chief

john powell

The Brunswick News is reporting this morning that the Glynn County Commissioners (the county where Ahmaud Arbery was killed) “deferred” to create a job for the Police Chief who has been indicted.  Just let this sink in.  The Glynn County Commissioners were creating a job out of reserve county funds (at a time of a pandemic) for a police chief who has been indicted.

Powell was the Police Chief when Ahmaud Arbery was killed and his officers failed to make an arrest of the killers.  They also phoned Arbery’s mother and told her that Arbery had been killed during a break-in.  One of the men who killed Arbery is a former police officer.

John Powell and the County Commissioners presided over the Glynn County Police at a time when the agency was involved in repeated scandals including a now disbanded narcotics unit, a police officer who was allowed to stalk and finally kill his ex-girlfriend, and a woman shot inside her car.

One of the County Commissioners narrowly escaped being prosecuted for insurance fraud recently because he got his wife to plead guilty to the charges and argue that he didn’t pay any attention to what was going on in his own insurance company.

These men must be removed from office, never allowed to hold office again and shunned.

 

The Brunswick News and the Arbery Killing

videoVideo of protest about the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

This is a letter to the editor that appeared in the Brunswick News (5/14/20).  It needs to be pointed out, however, that the Brunswick News is consistently filled with right-wing material and right-wing political commentary from syndicated columnists.  The editorial page regularly includes an article by the now deceased Billy Graham.  The newspaper also frequently publishes what are essentially campaign ads for the current Representative, (Not your) Buddy Carter.

Letter to the Editor, Brunswick News.  5/14/20.

I never thought that I would be a protester. My mom and dad raised me to respect the law and to submit to authority.

Then a young man was murdered.

I initially called for peace and trust. I worked with law enforcement officials during my career in child protection. In my day, we all dedicated our lives to being moral and ethical servants of our community.

Somehow, Jackie Johnson was elected to work with us, as our chief law enforcement officer. Things changed.

A police officer stalked his wife and subsequently killed her. He was shielded by the DAs office.

A former employee, armed and angry, kills a young man. We now know that she instructed that her former employee not be arrested before recusing herself and hand-picking her successor, who likewise refused to make an arrest. We then learn that he was also conflicted and indebted to DA Johnson through his son’s employment.

The governor needs to suspend DA Johnson until such time as she can be investigated. We need to be able to have faith that “equal protection under the law” are not hollow words.

DA Johnson, step down. We have no faith in you.

Mark Newman