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.
• 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)
“Six days after President Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture notified food safety groups that it was proposing a regulatory change to speed up chicken factory processing lines, a change that would allow companies to sell more birds. An earlier USDA effort had broken down on concerns that it could lead to more worker injuries and make it harder to stop germs like salmonella.”
This is what Republicans stand for. There’s no reason to ask why Republicans “went along” with Trump. They didn’t go along, they happily colluded with him because he delivered policy changes that they had advocated for decades.
Trump most likely lost because of mail in ballots. So…
The Georgia state senators pledged on Tuesday to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting, require a photo ID to obtain a ballot, outlaw drop boxes and scrap a court agreement to quickly tell voters about signature problems on ballots so that they could be fixed…new york times.
It is increasingly apparent to me that watching the corporate news will be as difficult over the next four years as it was over the last four.
Nicolle Wallace, one of the Never-Trumpers that the corporate Democrats love so much, just begged a reporter for information on Republicans who are likely to cooperate with the Democrats. The reporter cited SUSAN COLLINS as one of those likely Republicans. Susan Collins? If we are pinning our hopes on Susan f…ing Collins, we are in sad shape.
Wallace and the reporter spent ages discussing how “fascinating” watching the relationship between Biden and McConnell was going to be. It will be a real test, the reporter said, to see if Biden can move McConnell on “anything at all.”
There is no test here. And, Biden is wasting his time. McConnell is not going to cooperate with Joe Biden because Biden’s a nice guy. The Democrats essentially nominated and ran Biden not for any policy agenda, but because he was a “nice guy.” Well, I will just go out on a limb here and say that Mitch McConnell is not going to change the total obstruction that has characterized his entire leadership due to the power of Joe Biden’s personality.
Mitch McConnell, Bill Barr, Pompeo and others are on a mission. They perceive themselves to be fighting a war and that war didn’t end just because we were lucky enough to have Trump turned out because of mail-in ballots.
The entire Democratic nominating convention was a celebrity creation exercise. It had nothing to do with policy which was hardly mentioned. It was about creating and marketing a celebrity. Part of that process was trying to convince the consumer that the power of Biden’s personality was going to change politics in Washington.
I am afraid that Biden has come to believe his own hype and truly thinks that he’s going to walk into the Senate, put his arm around Mitch McConnell and say, “come on man” and McConnell is going to go down on his knees. It ain’t gonna happen. I’ll say it again. It ain’t gonna happen.
But corporate media hosts like Nicolle “I facilitated torture” Wallace will spend hours of valuable ideological real estate publicly wondering which Republicans are going to “cooperate” and the ins and outs of some kind of personal relationship between Biden and McConnell.
The corporate media and the Democratic Party still perpetuate the notion that Trump and the Republican Party are different. Biden has said that once Trump is gone, the Republicans are going to return to “normal.” The Republicans were completely willing to use Trump and his crazed supporters as a vehicle to advance their agenda. They are not going to stop advancing that agenda, not now, not when they are this close to establishing a one-party authoritarian state.
If Democrats think that the power of Biden’s personality is going to change what is, for Republicans, a holy war, they are delusional. But, I guess we already knew that.
Mike Siegel, progressive candidate for the House in Texas is interviewed by Deconstructed. The district Siegel ran in was drawn to be permanently Republican through gerrymandering.
According to Siegel, the Democratic Party has a narrow range of issues it “recommends” their candidates run on. The Party does the research, the polling, and tell the candidate what they should do. If they receive any push back, it is possible for them to withdraw funds and ruin the campaign, so most candidates find themselves in a position to go along.
Party pollsters do the research and tell the candidate what the talking points are, what segment of the voting population the candidate should reach.
Organizing with poor people is a long difficult process and it doesn’t appeal to the donor class. As Siegal says, “We need to get out the non-voters.”
The Party, Siegal says is “too invested in conservative donors” These donors are “moderating the message” so that only an extremely narrow set of issues is ever talked about. “They (the party operatives) are cynical about democracy…”
Party consultants produce TV ads in a quick time frame. Then, they come to the candidate and say: Give me this many dollars, we can run this may ads, we can expect this much shift in the polling.
The consultants tell the candidates: We made 2,000 calls, these are the issues that matter. These are the issues you should stress. These are the talking points. As Siegel says, “it’s relatively conservative.”
The consultants do their research and say your issue is, for example, health care, these are the talking points.
As Siegel says of the party consultants: “They completely narrow what they think you can accomplish.”
If the candidate disagrees or tries to change the messaging of the campaign, the consultants say: “That doesn’t poll quite as well as health care.”
“At every point they (the consultants) push back against you.”
As Siegel points out, there are not pollsters and consultants who work with a populist message. There are no people you can hire who know how to run what Siegel calls a “left campaign.”
The framework, according to Siegel, is how can you raise and spend x dollars and change vote this much.
Siegel challenged one of the wealthiest members of congress, and had a lot of progressive support, but came up short.
Siegel says: “We need to do deep organizing.”
But, the take-away from the interview is that the Democratic Party, their donors and their elite consultants have no interest in “deep organizing.” Deep organizing takes time and money and an actual interest in the problems of working and lower class people. It involves demonstrating to people who have seen politicians come and go and their lives not change, that politics is important to them. The issue is demonstrating this, not just telling them.
Another problem is that the Democratic party is a party obsessed with technocratic solutions. One of the points that screams out from this interview with Siegel is that pollsters are dominating party strategy. These are the same pollsters who (based on their scientific models) predicted landslides in 2016 and 2020. Either their technology was wrong, or Republicans are systematically stealing elections through electronic voting manipulation. There are no other options. But, electronic voting manipulation is an issue that Democrats consistently refuse to talk about. In fact, just raising the issue provokes angry denials and even more angry accusations about the motivations of people who talk about the issue. It is the unspeakable topic.
The Party pollsters would rather point to their own failures in predicting the outcomes of the last two elections than admit that the vast difference between the poll numbers and the election results might be the product of cheating. There is a very good reason for this. If, in fact, Republicans are cheating, systematically, repeatedly then pollsters become irrelevant. The last thing they want to be is irrelevant because they would then be out of business.
So, the consultants and pollsters themselves acknowledge that their predictions have been wildly inaccurate, but they are still put in the position of essentially determining the way individual Democratic campaigns are run. How does this make sense?
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.
Not long ago a friend of mine was complaining about MSNBC. “I don’t watch MSNBC anymore,” he said. “I’m tired of the blame game.”
I didn’t question the statement since I figured I’d already pushed the conversation to its limit. That means, I had already opened my mouth at least once. In this day and age, for me, that’s always one too many times.
I spent almost ten years living outside the country, missed the entire 80s, while this country was going through what another friend referred to as the “moving right show.” When I returned to the country, I usually refrained from talking about politics since my perspective was radically different from almost anybody I socialized with on a regular basis. And, I was a writer. You don’t need to talk to people about politics and law if you write about them. In fact, most of the time, it’s the last thing you want to talk about.
The past four years, however, have not only pushed me further to the left than I already was (which was pretty far to the left), but made me believe that it was possible to talk to other people about politics since the Trump/Republican crime family was openly dismantling everything decent there ever was about the society.
But, what I quickly found was that even though people wanted to grouse, when you got right down to it, they didn’t want to do much more. What most people wanted was to 1) vent and to 2) “get back to normal.” They didn’t much appreciate it when I pointed out that “normal” was what got us Trump.
In the past four years I have been infuriated, disgusted, and repelled by Trump and the Republican party. But, my real rage has been provoked by Democrats. I suppose you expect the worst from your enemies, but when you see it coming from your friends, it is both disheartening and alienating.
Early on in 2016, after Trump was elected and people (even in Georgia) started to mobilize, I had an exchange with one of the group of women I call the “southern ladies” that summed up my dilemma.
We were at a street demonstration peopled largely by the elderly and women. (I am both.) An acquaintance said: Now, we have to be careful that we’re respectful. I looked at her and blinked. “Why?” I asked. She looked back at me and blinked herself. Neither of us could understand what on earth the other was talking about.
I have spent the past four years trying to understand what she was talking about, what the Democratic Party was talking about. I have been dumfounded, utterly dumbfounded by people who act like the worst thing in the world would be to be perceived by other people as “disrespectful.”
Now, I grew up in the South where being rude was a cardinal sin. But we are watching the destruction of democracy, the transformation of a country into an authoritarian kleptocratic state and people, grown people, are worried about whether or not they will be perceived by the people dismantling democracy as disrespectful. I don’t get it.
And, it’s not only regular people. I sit and watch hearing after hearing where Democrats are in a position to expose the utter corruption and rot that is characteristic of the Republican party and Senator after Senator, Representative after Representative virtually gets down on their hands and knees and apologizes for asking questions. It disgusts me and enrages me.
And, as if things weren’t bad enough, the week after Diane Feinstein went out of her way to grovel at the feet of Lindsay Graham and possibly cost the Democrats a crucial Senate seat, Democrats have already started promising Republicans not to hold them accountable for the crimes that brought us to this point. Democrats, like my friend, might call this “the blame game” but in my neck of the intellectual woods we call it justice. And I am a believer in justice.
We would not even be here, on this precarious knife edge, if there was justice in this country for white collar, corporate and political criminals. Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and many others would not even be in a position to hold office if we had a criminal justice system that prosecuted the crimes of the wealthy. They would be in jail. Instead, they control the government.
And, already, even before the Democrats have won the election *, they are already trying to bow down and promise they will not hold accountable the people who have done everything in their power to steal and degrade democracy. On Nicolle Wallace’s show on Monday, Rick Stengel found it necessary to point out one of the things that he thought was “lovely about the Biden campaign.” Lovely? This thing was that the Biden campaign talks about “bringing the country together [in a way that] is not about recrimination, not about punishing people who may have made a mistake.” We need, says Stengel to be “moving ahead.”
I have been saying for months that people who think that a Biden administration will do anything to hold the Trump/Republican crime family to account are delusional. Biden will do exactly what Obama did in the face of people who had recklessly and greedily brought down an economy. He will say that we need to “move on.” People like Rick Stengel are just paving the way.
George Bush used the Justice Department to create a fictional legal foundation for the use of torture, but Obama said we should move forward not backward.
Every time leadership evades responsibility for holding criminals accountable for their crimes, it paves the way for more crime. Barak Obama and Eric Holder paved the way for Trump as surely as if they had nominated him as the candidate of the Republican party.
*I do not believe that the Democrats will win the “election.” I believe the Republicans will steal it.
• The Supreme Court has sided with South Carolina Republicans attempting to suppress the vote by reinstating a law requiring witness signature for mail-in ballots. This decreases the vote by making it more difficult for people to vote, requiring them to risk COVID by having someone else witness the ballot, and provides yet another point top invalidate votes (the verifying and matching of the witness signature).
• In Florida, the voter registration website crashed and stayed down for several hours on Monday, the deadline to register. Again, every obstacle decreases the vote which is what the Republicans are counting on.
• In Iowa, Republicans blocked sending out ballots that had pre-filled voter information on them. Tens of thousands of ballots were invalidated. This means confusion, the likelihood that people will send in the wrong ballot, and the necessity of the state to send out replacement ballots a month before the election.
These are three incidents in three states, being replicated all over the country.
In Georgia, software on all the states voting machines is being replaced A MONTH BEFORE THE ELECTION. This software change is being done by the voting machine company, unverified, unexamined, and uncertified.
The Republicans are pulling out all the stops. They have too much at stake to lose this election. They are going to lie, cheat and finally steal this election and the Democrats and the media are going to be caught off guard. VOTING IS NOT GOING TO BE ENOUGH.
And: Pennsylvania’s online system for registering to vote and applying for and tracking mail ballots crashed over the weekend, triggering an outage that stretched for more than 24 hours and prompted frustration from voters weeks before critical election deadlines.
A discussion of politics, law, justice, and crime.