Category Archives: Law and Justic

The boot of authoritarianism: if they thought for one minute they could get away with it

Dereck Chauvin put his knee on the neck of George Floyd, stared into the camera and dared us to do anything about it.     

         Donald Trump did exactly what Chauvin did – he put his knee on the neck of democracy, decency, legality. He stared into the camera and dared us to do anything about it.

         Putin has done exactly what Chauvin did – he has put his knee on the neck of Navalny, stared into the camera and dared us to do anything about it.

         These are lessons, authoritarian lessons.  They are demonstrating to us that that they can do whatever they want.  They can even murder one of us right in front of our very eyes and we can’t do a damn thing about it.

         We have won tonight, in the Chauvin case.  We have won because of the mobilization of millions of people putting pressure on the system to live up to its ideals.  We have won because of the courage and discipline of a group of witnesses.  We have won and we can win again.

         We must stand together and stand up to the boot of authoritarian rule on our necks.  We stopped them with the Chauvin verdict.  That’s why the legal system avoids jury trials if at all possible, especially for powerful defendants.  We can, and we must stop them again.  We must demand that the participants in the corrupt crime spree that was the Trump administration are held to account.  We must demand that dangerous men like Putin and the oligarchs that surround him are held to account.

         If we do not see, truly see that these actions are preparations for authoritarianism, they will come back for us. They are obviously not phased in the least by the electoral defeat in 2020.  The tidal wave of voter suppression being orchestrated by the Republicans is just another way to take power because they cannot win it legitimately. It is their way back in power.  We must take them seriously or we will find ourselves in 2022 and 2024 with another authoritarian take-over of the governmental process. If we flirt with that possibility, we may never recover.

         That look you saw on Chavin’s face when he was kneeling there, crushing the life out of a man, is the same look you would see on the face of Bill Barr, Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Pompeo, Pence, Steven Miller, Manafort and many others while they crushed the life out of anyone who opposed them if they thought for one minute they could get away with it.   If we let them get away with it, they will crush the life out of democracy and our lives will be unalterably changed.  If we don’t take them seriously, if we don’t fight them we will find ourselves living under that knee being given the same compassion and respect Dereck Chavin gave George Floyd. 

MORNING NEWS RUNDOWN

News Roundup

Police

  • On the internet: Video after video of police officers behaving abusively, escalating situations, cursing at people, threatening them, intimidating them, killing them, all over the country.  CNN has an expert on to explain that our brains work differently when we’re under stress. 
  • The “stress professor” and the Vanderbilt guy both agreed that we need more training for police.
  • I’ve been involved in criminology in one way or another for fifty years.  I did research on female police partners and male use of deadly force in the 70s.  Training is not the problem.  Minneapolis, for example, spent a small fortune on training. 
  •  Police culture will win out over all the training and policy in the world.
  • If you look at the Derek Chauvin case as an example, Chauvin didn’t take the stand because basically his defense is that he didn’t do anything wrong and that he would do it again if he had the chance.

Authoritarians

  • It appears that Alexander Navalny is dangerously close to dying.  In the past, he told colleagues he couldn’t understand people using hunger strikes to advance their cases.  It seemed, to him, merely a way to hand the state a tool.  But, evidently the situation for him in prison was so bad, he resorted to using his own body as a tool to try to get help.  It’s unlikely to work. The world stands by and watches. 
  • Gary Kasperov, former Russian chess player and current activist, pointed out on Twitter that the West continues to deal with Putin as if he were some quasi-democratic head of state.  Kasperov noted that Biden’s decision to turn around a ship to try to appease Putin was the wrong tactic.  Autocrats, kleptocrats, authoritarians view offers of compromise as weakness.
  • Biden deals with Putin the way the Democrats deal with the Republicans.  When will they learn that authoritarians cannot be compromised with or appealed to?

Corporate News

  • Joe Scarborough, who helped elect Trump, is now back to his rabid Republican heckling.  It is difficult for me to understand how anybody could think that Scarborough was an ally.  He and the dreadful Mika were up Trump’s ass until Trump threatened to reveal their adulterous affair.  People need to remember we have Mika on tape asking Trump’s permission to ask him a “hard” question.  Morning Joe as outlived its usefulness if it ever had any.  It belongs in the Chris Matthews trash bag of programming.  MSNBC needs to do better. 
  • While I’m on MSNBC, the nightly news programs continue to use Jason “island of misfit black girls” Johnson as a commentator.  He lost his job at the Root for his nasty, racist comment about the women who worked for Bernie Sanders, and MSNBC punished him with a few weeks off air.  But, he’s back now with a vengeance.  Joy Reid loves him because she actively worked to destroy Sanders’ campaign.  The lesson here?  You can say anything and get away with it if it’s about Bernie Sanders or his campaign. 

Cats

  • The new feral cat we are socializing woke me up at 3:30 in the morning because his food bowls were empty.  I’m wide awake, but he’s back asleep, stretched out at the foot of the bed on a quilt. They learn so quickly.  Cats are the masters of psychological manipulation.  His name is Oliver Wendell Holmes.

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.

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.

Stealing the 2020 election. I hope I’m wrong.

Saturday 12 September 2020

It has become obvious to me that the Republican Party is stealing the 2020 election. 

They are stealing it behind our backs and they are stealing it in front of our faces.  All you have to do to come to this conclusion is spend some time researching targeted voter sabotage as practiced by the Republicans since at least 2000. 

But, instead of looking at the evidence and making a plan for what to do when the Republicans pull off yet another theft of a major election, the Democratic Party, the corporate media and regular citizens are busily waltzing off a cliff in a haze of self-congratulatory delusion.  If, they tell us, we just go out and vote, Trump will be defeated, and all will be well.

I do not believe this to be true.  I do not believe it to be true because I cannot look at the evidence that is available and come to that conclusion.

One of the first things you learn as a researcher is to question most what you want to believe.  People in this country WANT to believe that the voting process is fair, that all they have to do is vote.  There is an almost pig-headed refusal to look at the evidence that the voting system is not fair, has been rigged in the past, is being rigged now, and that rigging will likely determine the outcome of the 2020 election.

The Democratic Party leadership and party strategists desperately want to believe that all they have to do is put out ads, analyze polls, make campaign appearances (sometimes) and get out the vote.  This is all they know – conventional campaign tactics.  And, they simply refuse to accept the fact that we have entered a world in which conventional campaign strategies are meaningless.  I don’t care how many polls you analyze, or how well you analyze them, if the vote count is manipulated, your effort will be irrelevant. 

But, on the corporate news programs I listen to hour after hour of discussion of the polls and demographics, and likely voter turn-out.  Corporate news pundits giddily and endlessly talk to other corporate news pundits, none of them willing to acknowledge the fact that if the Republicans do in this election what they have been doing in other elections for two decades, none of the polls and none of the analysis, is relevant.  This means, of course, that the pollsters and strategists themselves are not relevant, and that is one thing they will never admit.  So, they lie to themselves and they lie to us.

With this lie, they make us believe that a corrupted voting system is fair because THEY WANT TO BELIEVE THAT IT IS FAIR.  If it is not fair, if all the traditional campaign strategies are useless, they might have to DO SOMETHING.  They might have to stop rabbiting on endlessly on cable news, stop comparing each other’s living rooms, stop telling jokes and selling a “return to civic grace” as the answer to all our problems.  They might have to do something.  And, that’s the problem.

The demographics of the voting population, the polls, getting out the vote, promoting mail-in ballots, won’t make a damn bit of difference if the Republicans at the state and county level manipulate the vote count to win as they have done in the past.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that they will not manipulate the vote count and a great deal of evidence that they will.  But, by ignoring this fact, the DNC, the strategists and the pollsters and the corporate news pundits keep themselves at the center of a rat wheel of influence, money, talk and activity.

The result, I fear, is that once again on November 4, we will be sitting in our homes looking at stunned corporate media pundits, strategists and pollsters disoriented and wondering how Donald Trump managed to win the electoral college yet again.  They will babble about how amazing it is that the exit polls (if we even have them) could be so wrong.  They will make the excuse that Trump voters don’t show up in the polling because they are ashamed to say they are voting for Trump.  But, they will never, never question the integrity of the voting process itself.

When Trump has apparently secured enough electoral college votes to win, there will be nothing the Democrats and the corporate media and the strategists and the pollsters will be prepared to do.  They will wring their hands and lament.  They will talk about writing strongly worded letters.  But, they will not question the validity of the results of the election and they will not fight to ensure that there is a fair election vote count.  They have never effectively done so in the past and they will not do so in 2020.

Between now and November 3, (in order to try not to go bat-shit crazy) I intend to examine and share the information that is available to demonstrate what is almost certain to happen on November 3. 

I am painfully aware that this is a process that makes people feel uncomfortable.  People do not want to examine or talk about the corruption of the voting system.  It’s inconvenient, it’s frightening, it’s paradigm changing and it means that they might have to DO SOMETHING. 

People struggle to hold on to what makes them feel safe, and if this election is stolen like others before it, it will mean that we will be living in a different world.  People are understandably afraid of that.  But, putting our heads in the sand will not save us.  On the contrary, I believe putting our heads in the sand will leave us disoriented, disorganized, demoralized and even more vulnerable to the onslaught of authoritarianism that will follow if Trump manages to remain in power.

The rights we think we have, the rights that we rely on to conduct daily life, will no longer exist for us, and that is a frightening prospect.  But, no matter how much we want to believe that all we have to do is get out and vote, that desire doesn’t make it a reality.

Even among the community of people who study election sabotage and who have been warning about hackable modems in voting machines, voting systems that cannot be audited, the purging of voter lists, outrageously biased voting rules and a hundred other things that can and will be used to alter the vote count, there is still the tendency to want to argue that “overwhelming turnout” can overcome any voter system sabotage that may occur. 

I simply cannot understand how this makes logical sense. 

If Republicans sabotage the vote count, turnout, “overwhelming” or otherwise will not make that vote count accurate.  If you can change vote tallies you can change thousands of votes or hundreds of votes.  I have asked this question over and over to various experts in the field.  The best answer I get is a rather weak statement about how “overwhelming voter turnout” will make it harder to alter the vote.

But, I don’t even understand the logic of this.  Why will it make it harder?  And how? 

I can cast a vote for one candidate, but I cannot in any way determine how other people in my country cast their votes.  If the county says that I was the only person voting for Biden in the entire county, how am I supposed to contest that?  I have no access to the actual votes.  I have no idea how other people voted.  And, evidently in Georgia, there is not even an auditable vote count. So even if people in authority demanded a “recount,” it wouldn’t make vote sabotage any clearer.

In the state of Georgia, a recount of the votes involves nothing more than putting computer generated ballots through the same scanners a second time.  A human being cannot determine by looking at these ballots who the voter voted for.  The actual vote is recorded in a bar code that is unreadable by a human.  So, a recount is just recounting the same ballots (which might be manipulated) all over again.  That is useless.

I don’t know what to do but try to put together for myself the evidence leading to the conclusion that the Republican Party will successfully steal this election.  It’s there now.  There’s no need to wait until the election to see the outlines of the methods Republicans are using to manipulate the vote.  They are doing it before our eyes.

If you have information, please let me know.  If you have information refuting the supposition, please let me know also.  If you find an argument weak, suggest another one.  I’m open to all reputable information and welcome all critique.  But, I cannot stand silent behaving as if I believe that voting is going to oust Trump and the Republicans.  They have too much to lose to allow this vote to go against them.  And, delusion is dangerous.  In this case will only leave us totally unprepared for dealing with the outcome of another stolen election.

I hope I’m wrong about this.  I truly hope I am wrong, but I do not think I am. 

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.

  •  
  •  

Latin America, the “Democratic” Party and Never-Trumpsters

elliott

There are three important stories in the news within the past week relating to Latin America.

First, the Trump administration has appointed Elliott Abrams U.S. Special Representative for Iran.  For those of us who have been interested in Latin America for decades, Elliott Abrams is a criminal who is widely despised.  He should be in jail.  If there was anything like a justice system for high level corporate, political and white collar criminals, he would be.

As Common Dreams (8/6/20 ) has noted, “Abrams is one of the architects of right-wing “regime change.”  He “has made a career of lying and committing criminal acts that have led to the death and suffering of innocent people from Guatemala to Iraq.”  “He embraces militarism, covers up for gross human rights abuses, and has a history of supporting authoritarian regimes.”

As if this wasn’t enough, Abrams pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 1991 as part of the Iran-Contra affair.  He was later pardoned by George H.W. Bush.  Abrams admitted that he had willfully withheld information from congress in 1986 when he testified about the “secret Contra supply network and his role in soliciting a $10 million contribution for anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua” (the Contras).

See “CODEPINK Denounces Elliott Abrams’…”  common Dreams.  August 6, 2020

The second story is about the release of a report detailing a State Department plan for regime change in Nicaragua intended to oust popularly elected members of the Sandinistas.

Ben Norton reports in The Grayzone that:

  • This newly released document outlines plans for USAID to oversee a regime-change plan to oust Nicaragua’s elected leftist government.
  • USAID (also widely despised in Latin America), is planning to establish a “market economy” in Nicaragua and purge the Sandinistas.
  • The socialist government in Nicaragua is democratically elected.
  • USAID, as always, functions here as a “regime-change” vehicle that “uses the pretense of humanitarian aid to advance Washington’s aggressive foreign-policy interests.”
  • The document presents this as a plan for “Nicaragua’s transition to democracy.” This is a euphemism for removing the leftist Sandinistas.
  • The report doesn’t even pretend to be anything but a hardline neoconservative document. It refers to the “Ortega regime”  and makes it clear that the intent is to install a “neoliberal administration that will privatize the economy and…purge all institutions of any trace of the leftist Sandinista movement.”

The third, and related story, is that Joe Biden has recruited Anna Navarro to help him mobilize the Hispanic vote.  The Democrats are opening positions of power within the party to a variety of never-Trump Republicans who have no goals or interests in common with publicly stated Democratic positions.

As Ban Norton (3/1/20) points out in his article published on The Gray Zone, Navarro has become “something of a celebrity among the anti-Trump republicans…”  She has also become a welcome anti-Trump Republican voice among the corporate media.  She is, for example, a frequent commentator on CNN and “The View.”

As Norton points out, “corporate media networks give Navarro a massive platform to attack progressives like Bernie Sanders and rebrand her neoconservative politics before impressionable liberal viewers who despise Trump, Navarro’s professional background has faced little scrutiny.”

Navarro, however, “lobbied for El Salvador’s corruption-drenched right-wing government.”   “Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) documents reviewed by The Grayzone reveal that Ana Navarro and her Republican lobbyist husband, Al Cárdenas, have worked with some of the most corrupt right-wing governments in recent Latin American history, including leaders who have overseen egregious human rights abuses and been convicted for serious criminal offenses.”

“Navarro hails from a wealthy family in Nicaragua, and still today she remains a staunch supporter of the Contras, far-right death squads that the CIA armed and trained in the 1980s in a regime-change war targeting the country’s socialist Sandinista government. The Contras waged a relentless terrorist campaign, massacring and torturing civilians in hopes of destabilizing the country. And Navarro has celebrated them as freedom fighters.

Navarro, now calls herself a “strategist” has branded herself a “moderate.”

None of this bodes well for Nicaragua or Latin America.  And, it only reinforces the argument that Joe Biden, the corporate Democrats and the corporate media are turning the Democratic Party into Republican-light.  It gives us even less reason to stay with the party.

Saturday Morning Articles

anna navarro 1

SATURDAY MORNING ARTICLE RUN DOWN

 

USAID plans for coup in Nicaragua

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/08/04/usaid-document-nicaragua-coup/

 

Biden is putting us in bed with the likes of Anna Navarro

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/03/01/contras-cnn-ana-navarro-lobbying-corruption/

 

Trump puts Criminal Elliott Abrams Representative in Iran

https://news.yahoo.com/u-iran-envoy-brian-hook-173327817.html

 

Victims in Epstein Case Get Second Attempt

https://news.yahoo.com/epstein-victims-second-chance-justice-181228243.html

 

Don MaGahn

https://www.newsweek.com/other-donald-behind-donald-trump-457514

Elliott Abrams Should be in Prison. A New Low for the Trump Administration. The Criminal Mind

elliott

This is a good summary of some of the reasons Elliott Abrams should be in prison: Common Dreams, August 6, 2020

Abrams’ resume includes:

  • In the 1980s, he defended the infamous Guatemalan General Efraín Ríos Montt, whose violent crackdown on the indigenous Ixil Mayan people of Guatemala was so brutal that it was classified as genocide by the United Nations.
  • He denied that the Salvadoran military was responsible for the devastating El Mozote massacre where, in 1981, a U.S.-trained battalion murdered more than 500 civilians, slitting the throats of children along the way. Not only did Abrams deny the massacre and push for continued US support for the notoriously brutal Salvadoran government, but he even claimed in a 1994 interview that “the U.S. administration’s record in El Salvador is one of fabulous achievement.”
  • He is vehemently anti-Palestinian and shamelessly supports Israel. As George Bush’s aide on the National Security Council, Abrams did everything he could to thwart peace negotiations. He repeatedly undercut any U.S. pressure on Israel to stop the building of settlements and cited the Holocaust as justification for Israel’s killings of Palestinians (Jews are “a people who had learned from history what happens to Jews without security”). In 2015, he applauded then-Speaker John Boehner’s decision to invite Netanyahu to address Congress without the approval of President Obama. He lauds Evangelical descriptions of Israel such as the belief that “Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects Americans.”
  • In 1991, Abrams pled guilty to withholding information from Congress related to his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal, the secret and illegal scam in the 1980s to siphon profits from Iranian weapons sales to support the right-wing Contra rebels trying to overthrow the Sandinista government.
  • Abrams was a key supporter of the disastrous invasion of Iraq. In 1998, he submitted a letter to President Clinton encouraging him to depose Saddam Hussein. As Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy during George W. Bush’s second term, Abrams was in charge of promoting Bush’s strategy of “advancing democracy abroad.”
  • Abrams championed the U.S. overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, echoing the tactics used by the neocons for intervention in Iraq.
  • Abrams’ opposition to the Iran Nuclear Deal is epitomized by his attempts to encourage Israel to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites before negotiations became too serious. He expressed concern that Israel’s capacity to impede the deal was “already being narrowed considerably by the diplomatic thaw, because it is one thing to bomb Iran when it appears hopelessly recalcitrant and isolated and quite another to bomb it when much of the world — especially the United States — is optimistic about the prospect of talks.”
  • In January 2019, Abrams was appointed to be the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, and used his position to support an attempted coup, quash diplomatic talks, and increase brutal sanctions, even during the pandemic.

Abrams has now been appointed as the U.S. envoy for Iran, managing a situation that is already a tinderbox, with the Iranian people suffering immensely from U.S. sanctions. Rather than receiving this new position, Elliott Abrams should be barred for life from government positions and recognized as the war criminal that he is.

https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2020/08/06/codepink-denounces-elliott-abrams-appointment-next-us-special-representative

Article in Common Dreams