Category Archives: Southern Justice

In my neck of the intellectual woods, we call it justice

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 once 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.”  Most of the time, when I returned to the country, I 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, you don’t want to talk about them.  It’s the last thing you want to talk about. 

The last 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 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 goes 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.”  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.”  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.  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 this “election.” I believe the Republicans will steal it.

STEALING ELECTIONS: THE HISTORY

code red

If you have not started following Jennifer Cohn on Twitter, you should.  She is essential if you want to understand what is likely to happen in the 2020 election with election security.

Among the things you should note for today are:

  • Even when the GOP allows Hand Marked Paper Ballots, they are careful to ensure that no one gets to look at them in a meaningful way. In 2000 and also in 2016, the GOP blocked hand recounts despite irregularities with electronic totals.
  • 6,000 votes disappeared in the dead of election night in Don Siegelman’s run for governor in Alabama in 2002. Alabama’s Attorney General (Republican Bill Pryor), a client of Karl Rove, seized the paper ballots in question before Siegelman could have them recounted.  Pryor then illegally certified the results.
  • Siegelman’s experience is just one example of blatant, before our eyes, vote cheating. The Republicans cheated, stole an election, and none of them were ever prosecuted.  Don Siegelman was the one who wound up in prison.

Notes:

People you can follow onTwitter: @jennifercohn1, @DonSiegelman, @JonathanSimon14,

Don Siegelman’s book: Stealing our Democracy.  https://www.amazon.com/Stealing-Our-Democracy-Political-Assassination/dp/1588384292/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=don+siegelman&qid=1598819261&sr=8-1

Jonathan Simon’s Book: Code Red  https://www.amazon.com/CODE-RED-Computerized-Elections-Democracy-ebook/dp/B087L8PWZP/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=code+red%2C+jonathan&qid=1598829001&sr=8-1

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.

 

Georgia Justice: Voting Machines and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Stenographic Reporting

mark niesse

This is a short article, a small point, but ideology and attitudes are made up of countless small points, repeatedly pounded home that go into constructing people’s opinions.

This is an article that appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today.

Article: https://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/amid-budget-cuts-georgia-pays-keep-old-voting-machines-storage/lPTO8DwteQouaFssNpImeN/?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=campaign_1220886

Niesse, Mark (5/15/20) “Amid budget cuts, Georgia pays to keep old voting machines in storage.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

First, there is the headline.  The headline opposes the budget cuts from the state of Georgia and the money being spent to house voting machines used in the 2016 (and I think 2018) elections.  The obvious message is that we are wasting tax payer money to house unneeded voting machines when we are in the middle of deep budget cuts.

Here is the first sentence of the article:

“As Georgia is preparing for deep budget cuts, the state government is paying $432,000 a year to store 30,000 voting machines that will never be used again.”

First, as a reader pointed out, why should it cost almost half a million dollars to store some voting machines for a year?

Second,  the reporter is asserting something he has no knowledge of, that is whether the machines will be “used” again.  The voting machines will certainly be used again if they are evidence in a lawsuit to see whether there were election improprieties.  And, that impropriety will certainly not be uncovered if the voting machines are destroyed.

So, the argument that the reporter is just reporting the facts is clearly absurd.  It is not a fact that these machines will “never be used again.”  This is an assumption on the part of the reporter, clearly the assumption that the state of Georgia wants people to believe.

So, why does the reporter take on as fact an assumption that supports the state’s side in this dispute over the voting machines?

An attorney for the secretary of state’s office, Bryan Tyson, in a letter on May 9, asserts:

“Continuing to preserve the DREs (the voting machines) at a significant cost to Georgia taxpayers in times of national crisis for state budgets across the country is wasteful and unnecessary.”  This was a letter directed toward the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the citizens of Georgia who want to know whether or not these voting machines were compromised in some way.

The citizens involved want to preserve the machines, to find out whether “viruses or malware” which might have infected the machines might have spread to the state’s replacement voting system.

There has been a proposal to destroy two-thirds of the machines but no agreement on which machines to dispose of.  This makes perfect sense.  If the machines were infected, why destroy any of the evidence that might demonstrate that fact?

“We’ve tried to work with them,” said David Cross, an attorney for a group of plaintiffs suing the state. “If we could at least do an analysis of a reliable statistical sample, we could see if the old system was compromised.”

This seems to be a reasonable position.  But, the reporter after noting that statement, then repeats the scare statistics of budget cuts as if this had anything to do with the voting machines.

“All state agencies, including the secretary of state’s office, are planning for 14% budget cuts in the upcoming fiscal year — more than $3.5 billion.  The secretary of state’s office is preparing to slice $3.2 million from its $24 million budget through a hiring freeze, licensing board changes and leaving some positions unfilled, Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said.”

“There are so many ways we could spend money outside storage costs,” Fuchs said. “We could use that for fighting real security threats rather than activist’s lawsuits.”

That’s how the reporter chooses to end the article, with a statement by the Deputy Secretary of State calling the people on the other side of the lawsuit “activists” (which I presume is in his mind a negative thing) and maintaining that this fight is not about “real security threats.”

The AJC reporter should be ashamed of this stenographic reporting.

I am a resident of Georgia.  I am tired of the graft, corruption, hubris and collusion that goes into making the state government part of the Republican for-profit free-for-all con game.

 

 

 

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