Category Archives: Rule of Law

Joe Biden says we owe Anita Hill a lot. Well we owe Joe Biden more. We owe him a swift boot in the ass.

clarence

Last night, in a CNN townhall, Joe Biden once again gave a response to a question about the Clarence Thomas hearings that was untruthful, evasive, and incoherent.

I sat in front of my television and played it back over and over again to make sure I got every word right.

I’m going to post the entire quote just so you can see how deceitful and incoherent it is.

““I opposed Clarence Thomas (unintelligible) beginning.  I believed Anita Hill from the beginning. And I tried to control the questions under the laws that exist for the Senate.  And I was unable to do it.  Just like the last hearing…they were unable to control, keep people from being able to ask questions.  What I did was I made a commitment; I made a commitment never again would the Judiciary Committee only have men on that committee.  So, I went out and I campaigned for two people, Carol Mosley Brawn, an African American senator from the state of Illinois and Diane Feinstein…on the condition that if they won they would join the committee….I kept that commitment.

And secondly I made another commitment, that I was going to get the Violence Against Women Act passed which…I wrote myself, the Violence Against Woman Act.  Number three, I’ve spoken with Anita Hill and I apologized for not being able to protect her more.  I’m trying to think, and I raised the question for example, I raised the question, should we in fact have those hearings in camera….when, because you’re gonna always be subject to being vilified no matter who comes and says he said she said this happened, and so here’s the deal….and she said, and I think she’s right, she said No, it’s better not to do that.

We should have it in the open, so we gotta find a way to change the rules as to what can be asked, but in a hearing….it’s impossible to say you can’t ask the question…I won’t go into more detail…I wish I could have protected her more.  I publicly apologized, apologized then and I was able to…we owe her…a lot…because what she did by coming forward, she gave me the ability to pass the violence against women act.  We owe her a great deal of credit.”

Now, to take it apart.

Biden first starts with an irrelevancy.

“I opposed Clarence Thomas (unintelligible) beginning.  I believed Anita Hill from the beginning.”

Then, he continues:

“And I tried to control the questions under the laws that exist for the Senate.  And I was unable to do it.”

What questions is he talking about?  What questions would he have controlled?  What questions were determined “under the laws that exist for the Senate.”  How would questions have changed the outcome of the hearing?

“Just like the last hearing…they were unable to control, keep people from being able to ask questions.”

What hearing is he talking about?  I assume he’s talking about the Kavanuagh hearing.  Well, again, the problem in the Kavanaugh hearing was not “controlling” the questions.  The problem was in adequately investigating the claims.

The allegations were not investigated, and like in the Clarence Thomas hearing, women who could have corroborated the testimony of Blasey Ford were not called.

Democrat Chris Coons did his usual holier-than-thou “bipartisan” deal with Jeff Flake and provided cover for Republicans to vote for Kavanaugh.  They arranged an “investigation” that didn’t investigate.  The FBI investigation was severely curtailed, so severely curtailed they didn’t even interview some of the women who claimed to have been abused by Kavanaugh.

This is a common tactic in Washington.  If there’s a problem, if people like Susan Collins are whining that they are going to look bad if they vote to put a rapist on the Supreme Court, legislators like Chris Coons help arrange for a sham investigation.  This looks “bipartisan.”  And, the bipartisanship is presented as if it were a end unto itself.

The “bipartisanship” looks reasonable, but it is just a way of placating opposition.  The “investigation” finds nothing, but it’s not intended to find anything.  And, then, people like Collins can say, see we had an investigation there’s nothing there.  In the Clarence Thomas hearing it was having the hearing itself.  We had a hearing, it was pubic, you can’t keep people from asking questions, we did what we could.

Then, comes an incoherent irrelevant distraction.

“What I did was I made a commitment; I made a commitment never again would the Judiciary Committee only have men on that committee.  So, I went out and I campaigned for two people, Carol Moseley Braun, an African American senator from the state of Illinois and Diane Feinstein…on the condition that if they won they would join the committee….I kept that commitment.”

So, Biden’s arguing that having women on the Clarence Thomas Judiciary Committee would have changed everything.  It might have changed some things, but there were women on the Judiciary Committee when the Kavanaugh hearings took place.  And, the main problem was not that there were no women on the committee.  It was that Joe Biden refused to call the other women who could have corroborated Anita Hill. So, once again, a distraction, an evasion, essentially a lie. And, why does it absolve Joe Biden for what he did in the Clarence Thomas hearing that he later, after getting the backlash, went out and supported some women for Congress?

Biden goes on:

“And secondly I made another commitment, that I was going to get the Violence Against Women Act passed which…I wrote myself, the Violence Against Woman Act.”

Again, what does this have to do with his behavior and actions during the Clarence Thomas hearings?

Biden continues:

Number three, I’ve spoken with Anita Hill and I apologized for not being able to protect her more.  I’m trying to think, and I raised the question for example, I raised the question, should we in fact have those hearings in camera….when, because you’re gonna always be subject to being vilified no matter who comes and says he said she said this happened, and so here’s the deal….and she said, and I think she’s right, she said no, it’s better not to do that.”

He says “I apologized.”  What more can I do?  Well, as I find myself repeatedly pointing out these days (Chris Matthews, MSNBC) there are things you can’t apologize for.  Michael Bloomberg evidently thinks that it’s sufficient that he apologized for ruining thousands of lives with Stop and Frisk.  And, he, like Biden, is irritated that somehow people don’t think that’s enough.  It’s like they are saying: Jeeeeze, I apologized, what more do you want?  You’re just harassing me.

There are things you can’t apologize for.

Then, after some incoherent faffing around, Biden actually BLAMES ANITA HILL for how the hearing came out.  He says that he offered to do the hearing in private and she said no.  So, she was to blame because she wanted a public hearing, not some kind of behind-closed-doors dirty little boys backroom session.  Again, Joe Biden refused to call the corroborating women for their testimony.  That has nothing to do with whether the hearing was public or private.

Biden continues (yes, I know but it will be over soon).

“We should have it in the open, so we gotta find a way to change the rules as to what can be asked…”

Changing what could be asked is not the issue, the failure, the refusal to include the testimony of the corroborating witnesses is the problem.  Distraction, obfuscation, evasion.

“but in a hearing….it’s impossible to say you can’t ask the question…”

Nobody ever suggested changing the rules so that people couldn’t ask certain questions although judges makes this determination in trials every day.  There are questions that are relevant to the issue at hand and questions that aren’t, questions that are designed to inflame and prejudice.  But, that is again not the issue.  The issue is how Biden chose to act when he had power.  He chose to bury the truth, to subject Anita Hill and the rest of us to that humiliating process without providing the witnesses who could have supported her.

O.K.  Here he goes again.

“I won’t go into more detail…I wish I could have protected her more.

Yes, I am sure Joe Biden doesn’t want to go into more detail because the details are damning.  Read Jane Mayer’s book about the Clarence Thomas hearings.

And, the “I wish I could have protected her more,” is just my favorite.  How much more paternalistic, patriarchal and sexist can you be?  Anita Hill didn’t ask for protection.  She didn’t need protection at the hearing.  She needed protection and support to oppose the blatantly sexist, aggressive, abusive and coercive nature of Clarence Thomas’ weirdo sick toxic male behavior.  She didn’t get it and the rest of us didn’t get it.  Clarence Thomas got a seat on the Supreme Court.  Joe Biden is largely responsible for that fact, and he paved the way for Brett Kavanaugh to take his seat beside Thomas.

“…I publicly apologized, apologized then and I was able to…we owe her…a lot…because what she did by coming forward, she gave me the ability to pass the violence against women act.  We owe her a great deal of credit.

Here, Biden finishes up by trying to placate us, and portraying himself (as he always does) as Mr. Nice Guy.  He says we owe Anita Hill a lot.

Perhaps so, but, we owe Joe Biden a lot more.  We owe it to him to get him out of public life along with the rest of the men who have openly, brazenly flouted their power over women and used that power to the detriment of all of us.  We owe it to ourselves to stop people like Joe Biden lying and covering up their abusive behavior.

Get them out.  Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg, Chris Coons, Bret Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas.  The list goes on.

Joe Biden is Full of it: The Clarence Thomas Hearings

I am still watching the Biden town hall on CNN, but I just want people to hear the bullshit answer Biden just gave to a woman in the audience.  She made the statement that times had changed since the Clarence Thomas hearings, and asked Biden how he had changed and how he would answer people who were still unsatisfied with how he handled the hearing.

I just want you to read the answer he gave.

  • “I opposed Clarence Thomas (unintelligible) beginning. I believed Anita Hill from the beginning. And I tried to control the questions under the laws that exist for the Senate.  And I was unable to do it.  Just like the last hearing…they were unable to control, keep people from being able to ask questions.  What I did was I made a commitment; I made a commitment never again would the Judiciary Committee only have men on that committee.  So, I went out and I campaigned for two people, Carol Mosley Brawn, an African American senator from the state of Illinois and Diane Feinstein…on the condition that if they won they would join the committee….I kept that commitment.  And secondly I made another commitment, that I was going to get the Violence Against Women Act passed which…I wrote myself, the Violence Against Woman Act.  Number three, I’ve spoken with Anita Hill and I apologized for not being able to protect her more.  I’m trying to think, and I raised the question for example, I raised the question, should we in fact have those hearings in camera….when, because you’re gonna always be subject to being vilified no matter who comes and says he said she said this happened, and so here’s the deal….and she said, and I think she’s right, she said No, it’s better not to do that.  We should have it in the open, so we gotta find a way to change the rules as to what can be asked, but in a hearing….it’s impossible to say you can’t ask the question…I won’t go into more detail…I wish I could have protected her more.  I publicly apologized, apologized then and I was able to…we owe her…a lot…because what she did by coming forward, she gave me the ability to pass the violence against women act.  We owe her a great deal of credit.”

 

 

 

 

Just Another Coinkydink: There are so many coincidences. Don’t believe in conspiracy theory.

 

Mitch McConnell

  • In September, Mitch McConnell announced that he would block a bill  to lower prescription drug costs.
  • By the end of December McConnell had raked in more than $50,000 in contributions from political action committees and individuals tied to the pharmaceutical industry.
  • The bill that would have allow the federal government to negotiate prices for Medicare, restrict price hikes and limit out-of-picket costs.
  • McConnell called this “socialist price controls.”
  • 80% of Americans believe that it is only right to have the federal government negotiate prices with the Drug Companies.
  • Mitch McConnell says no.
  • Then,
  • “On Oct. 16, McConnell received a $2,500 check from Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ political action committee, according to McConnell’s reports to the Federal Election Commission.
  • The same campaign finance filings show that a few weeks after that, multinational pharmaceutical company Novartis’ PAC also sent $2,500 to McConnell. Then, a PAC for another pharma company, Emergent BioSolutions, kicked in $2,500.
  • By the end of December, McConnell’s campaign reported, he had received at least $30,000 more from the corporate political action committees of Bluebird Bio ($2,500), Boehringer Ingelheim ($5,000), Greenwich Biosciences ($2,500), Teva USA ($10,000), and UCB ($2,500).
  • According to filings from his Bluegrass Committee leadership PAC, Merck & Co. also contributed $5,000 to support McConnell and Sanofi donated $2,500.
  • Over that time period, McConnell’s campaign also received $5,000 from Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O’Day, $2,000 from Amgen lobbyist Helen Rhee, and $5,600 from his former policy director and current Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America registered lobbyist Hazen Marshall
  • Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Gilead Sciences, Merck, Novartis, Sanofi, Takeda, Teva, and UCB are all members of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which has said the bill would have a “devastating effect on the industry” and would cause fewer treatments to be developed.”

But, least you all be consumed by CONSPIRACY THEORIES, all claim that there is no connection between the donations to McConnell and “positions taken on specific legislation.”

Please, don’t be a fool.  Vote Republicans out of office.  We have to end this government by corporations.  And, just another plea: don’t let the words: “I don’t believe in conspiracy theories” come out of your mouth.  Do you know how much money these corporations and the right have spent to have that scripted statement come out of our mouths?

the American Independent (2/18/20)  https://americanindependent.com/mitch-mcconnell-pharmaceutical-industry-donations-prescription-drug-costs-senate-gop-republicans/

Truth May Matter, but Justice Evidently Does Not: The Stone Sentencing

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I don’t know how many more days like this I can handle.

 

Roger Stone, convicted for witness tampering, lying to Congress and obstructing an official proceeding was today sentenced to 40 months in prison.  The media immediately turned the judge, who rejected an initial Justice Department recommendation that Stone get between 7 and 9 years, into a hero.

 

Ari Melber on MSNBC (who evidently considers himself the Consoler in Chief) once again had guests on to tell the American people that the judicial branch is holding steady, the last bastion of integrity and justice.  The institutions, so he claims, are holding.

 

Well, I’ve got news for Ari F…ing Melber, the institutions are not holding.  The executive branch is a criminal enterprise masquerading as a government (Sarah Kenzior), the Congress is toothless and being led by the nose by a collection of thugs who are either being bought off or extorted or who are just so craven for power they will do anything.  This same group of thugs is appointing new federal judges at breakneck speed.  Their nominees are so inept and ignorant they would never ever get near a courtroom as a judge unless there were a thoroughly corrupt administration shoveling them into lifetime positions.  The media is controlled by corporate interests and mediocre star reporters who laugh and joke their way through crisis after crisis after crisis.  The institutions are crumbling before our eyes.

 

Neither the corporate press nor the members of Congress are brave enough to see what’s happening and convey the seriousness of the situation.  The institutions are holding, they say.  Nothing to see here.  It will all be alright.

 

It reminds me of something that happened to me in Scotland years ago.  I went along with a friend to a house where the father of the family had thrown himself out a window.  Fortunately, he fell into the lovely Scottish garden below.  I was charged with sitting with the young son.  At some point I said: It’ll be alright.  The kid’s head snapped around and he stared at me with incredulity and contempt.  “Alright,” he said.  “Alright? My father just jumped out of a window.”  I nodded.  “You have a point.”  I said.

 

Sentencing for white collar (political and corporate) criminals is already an obscene joke in this country.   Take a look at Jesse Eisinger’s recent (and totally ignored) book “The Chickenshit Club.”  Eisinger details what happens these days to prosecutors who try to aggressively prosecute white collar criminals.  It’s an endeavor which is against their career interests.    Most white collar (corporate and political) criminals are not prosecuted.  The Justice Department almost always does deals with their attorneys before they come to trial.  A trial is considered time-consuming, expensive and unnecessary.  Smart prosecutors are expert negotiators and deal makers. As Eisinger points out, not only have prosecutors learned that they put their careers on the line if they fail to negotiate a deal, the institution itself has lost the expertise to prosecute cases and take them to trial.

 

Line prosecutors in the Stone case, though, did go to trial.  These prosecutors risked their careers but they proved their case and then recommended a sentence that was squarely in the middle of (already lenient) sentencing guidelines.  Their reward?  William Barr intervened, overruled them and after they resigned in protest sent his cronies into court to claim that DOJ had reconsidered the sentence recommendation and decided a lesser sentence was appropriate.

 

Then, when most of us who are sane and love the law and the concept of justice noticed, when something like 2000 former DOJ officials wrote a letter of protest, Barr sent his minions back into court to say that it had all been a misunderstanding.

 

Nobody who has a brain can mistake this series of events for anything but what it was – an attempt by Barr and Trump to see if they could simply throw caution to the wind and direct the sentencing of one of Trump’s buddies.  They tried, they got some push back, and they backed off to some extent.  But, make no mistake about it.  They will try again, and they will probably succeed.  This is (like the pardons) a softening of the ground.

 

Because of this, what was needed from the courts was a strong statement that high-level government officials cannot just dictate prosecution and sentencing.  What we got was the same “chickenshit” response from Jackson we saw previously from Mueller (who defined his investigation so narrowly it could not really be effective).  Jackson compromised, caved, backed down.

 

Earlier in the day, Seth Abramson tweeted that Trump used professionalism against people.  He predicted that Jackson would give Stone a lenient sentence in the name of being “reasonable,” or “fair” or “unbiased” or “professional.”  In doing so, she failed to send a message that the justice system is going to fight.

 

This morning, when I first heard the reporting that she was talking tough in court, I knew we were in big trouble.  In highly publicized cases like this, when judges talk tough, they sentence light.

 

“What did you expect.”  My partner said to me as I was pacing around the house indignant at the lenient sentence and the reaction of the corporate media.

 

“I know, I know” I responded “but it’s like knowing somebody’s going to die and having it actually happen.”

 

“You thought you might be wrong?”

 

“I was hoping, hoping I might be wrong.”

 

But, I was not wrong.  Of course, I was not wrong.

 

Tuesday night, Ari Melber had Melissa Murray on his show and she told a story about lecturing students.  She was talking about Nixon vs. Fitzgerald. She told her students that in immunizing the president from civil suits the courts did not make him a king.  He was still subject to other checks – the impeachment process, the free press, the effect on his legacy.  Her students, 112 men and women learning to be lawyers, laughed at her.  Well they should have.  I would have laughed at her.

 

Murray, as much as I love her, is another of those people (like Joyce Vance, Chuck Rosenberg and others) who’s identity is bound up with believing a fairy tale.  That fairy tale is that there are people with integrity who will stand up to injustice, corruption and the destruction of democracy.  The fairy tale is that these people will step up and save us. They will not.  We live in a society largely made up of conformists, of cowards, of people who are too timid and too comfortable to rock the boat.  Their careers and their inflated salaries are more important to them than their county, democracy or justice.

 

Jackson said in her decision today that the truth matters.  Maybe, but justice evidently does not.

Barr Auditioned to do Exactly What He is Doing. He Won’t Resign

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Bill Barr wrote a letter to the Trump administration auditioning for the job of Attorney General.  Barr decided at some point that Trump could be used to usher in an age of quasi-religious authoritarian government in the United States that people like him have been working to bring about for decades.  He sees himself as carrying out a mission and he will not resign because he is disapproved of by DOJ officials, prosecutors or judges.  He, like Trump, has no shame.

In an article (12/5/19) by Damon Linker, entitled “William Barr is shockingly clear about his authoritarianism,” Linker points out that:

In his “…October 11 speech at the University of Notre Dame,” Barr “…embraced a deeply anachronistic vision of religion in American public life. It was a story of a morally upstanding Republican majority upholding biblically based Judeo-Christian piety and righteousness against an aggressive minority faction of liberals and progressives who use positions of cultural and political power to impose an agenda of moral relativism on the nation.”

People like Barr believe that “…it’s crucially important for the future of American democracy that this (Barr’s) side prevail in its battle against godless relativists…”  In doing so, “Barr was providing a justification for using all the powers of the federal government to bring about that outcome.”  Just think about that.  William Barr is providing a justification for using all the powers of the federal government to bring about” the outcome he advocates.

If any more evidence is needed, five weeks after the Notre Dame speech, “…came Barr’s even more alarming speech to…The Federalist Society. Here he described the presidency (and because of that, American self-government itself) as under siege by Congress and the courts. The greatest achievement of the American constitutional framers, he claimed, was the creation of a strong, independent, and unitary executive. And yet the liberals and progressives in charge of these other branches of government do everything in their power to hobble and weaken the presidency, which should, and will, do everything it can to reaffirm its distinctive powers and prerogatives.”

According to Barr, Trump “…would ideally also be free…to impose the travel ban, end DACA, add a citizenship question to the census, and make American foreign policy in Eastern Europe serve his personal whims and conspiratorial obsessions without having to face any pushback from Congress or the courts. No subpoenas. No irritating injunctions. No pesky Freedom of Information Act requests. No endless investigations. Trump would simply lead, and everyone else would follow.”

Then, “at the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing….Barr made a point of singling out those “communities” that fail to show “the respect and support that law enforcement deserves.” Those communities that don’t express the proper “support and respect,” he warned ominously, “might find themselves without the police protection they need.”

“It’s hard to read that passage without hearing it as a threat to minority (and especially African American) communities that have taken a stand in recent years against police brutality and excessive force….”

“It would be hard to think of a purer expression of the authoritarian mindset than this statement.”

“But Barr’s statement isn’t just an expression of authoritarianism. It’s also a reflection of the mob-boss mentality that prevails in the administration Barr serves with such abundant loyalty and enthusiasm….That isn’t how the rule of law is supposed to work. It’s the way authoritarian regimes, crime families, and robber gangs work. Unfortunately, it’s also how the president and his henchman at the Justice Department would very much like American government to work, from the Oval Office on down to the streets of our cities.”

“It’s up to the rest of us to show them both that we don’t share their admiration for rule by thug.”

See “William Barr is shockingly clear about his authoritarianism.” (12/5/19) Damon Linker.The Week.