Category Archives: Trump

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative Podcasts: Sheer Intelligence

Robert Scheer interviews Max Blumenthal about the “lesser of two evils” approach centrists in the Democratic Party have been pushing for decades.

The Clinton Machine Will Do Anything to Stop Bernie

https://www.kcrw.com/culture/shows/scheer-intelligence/the-clinton-machine-will-do-anything-to-stop-bernie

NOTES:

 

 

 

The Trough, Jeff Van Drew, The Family Foundation, The War for a Religious State and other Thoughts

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Van Drew and the Trough

Five aides to Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the only Democrat to come out against impeachment, have resigned.  Van Drew announced that he will not vote for impeachment.

In a letter of resignation the staff members told the Chief of Staff: “Van Drew’s decision to join the ranks of the Republican Party led by Donald Trump does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office.”  “Over the past year, Trump Republicans have sided with special interests over the needs of working people,” they said. “Worse, they continue to aid and abet Trump as he shreds the Constitution and tears the country apart. They have refused to grapple with how the President of the United States has jeopardized our national security for his own political advantage.”  “Van Drew’s decision to join the ranks of the Republican Party led by Donald Trump does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office.”

It should be a serious subject for discussion just how craven men and women will become to hold onto a position in Congress.  One only has to think of the enormous increase in the personal wealth of Mitch McConnell to understand just how much money these man and women expect to make from their positions of public service.

As I used to tell my students when I taught Criminology – they don’t come to public office and become corrupted, they go into public service because they are corrupted and plan to become more so.

The Republicans Cannot be Shamed

I have a little clue for CNN and MSNBC. Both cable news networks have shown clips of Lindsay Graham asking members of Congress to wait and weigh the evidence before deciding on impeachment when Clinton was the object.  They then show video of Graham proudly proclaiming that he is not an objective juror in the Trump impeachment.

Trying to point out the hypocrisy of Lindsay Graham, Mitch McConnell  or any other Republican is a waste of time.  THEY DON’T CARE.

The Republican party is trying to install a one-party religious state in this country.  They are fighting what to them is a holy war against the rest of us and against democracy.  They cannot be shamed or embarrassed.  They cannot be reasoned with because they are trying to colonize reason and use it for themselves and their own power.

Appeasers like Joe Biden, Cory Booker and Buttigieg are our worst enemies.  They encourage people to believe that when Trump is gone (if he ever is) things will return to “normal.”  But “normal” is what got us Trump.  The Bill Barr’s, the Mitch McConnell’s, the Jim Jordan’s, will still be there. The Fellowship Foundation will still be there.

Those who don’t see the fight and won’t engage in it, must get out of the way and be left behind.

Proof of Collusion: Seth Abramson

All you have to do is read this book to see how Robert Mueller was either a Chickenshit (See book by Eisinger) or part of the project to cover up the Trump/Russia collusion.  Neither alternative is a good one.

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Impeachment Battle Stations: Jonathan Turley is a Sell Out

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I am at impeachment battle stations this morning, surrounded by cats.  One of them is already snoring.  I miss my little Burmese who died recently.  He had watched 21 years of CSPAN and news shows and was a kitty genius.  He appreciated and would have schooled the other cats on the historical significance of this event.

Jonathan Turley will read a statement this morning which is longer than the statements of any of the other lawyers appearing.  He will finish with a hilarious (I’m not serious) narrative about how even his dog is angry, but we don’t need to rush into impeachment.  Isn’t that just so cute?

Turley used to be a principled analyst and commentator.  Then he was hired by the Republicans to destroy the ACA.  Jonathan Turley fought AGAINST providing health insurance for low income people.  This is the kind of scum he became after the Republicans bought him off.

Turley will say that there is no “statutory crime” here.  But, the Constitution doesn’t require a statutory crime to impeach.  That’s just how shameless Turley has become in terms of advancing nonsense as legal reasoning.

Brian Williams (why does he still have a job) is telling us that it is understandable that nobody will read the House Intelligence Committee Report because it’s 300 pages.  Is he talking about himself?  I read 300 pages regularly and know other people who do.  The mediocrity that fills the corporate news is just so tiresome.

Afternoon Notes: Epstein, the House Intelligence Committee Report, MSNBC,Ukraine

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House Intelligence Committee Report

The House Intelligence Committee has released their preliminary impeachment report.

Included are phone records that document phone calls between Giuliani and OMB, made from the White House.  This makes it impossible to maintain the fiction that Giuliani was conducting a “rogue operation.”

Epstein

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz told The Miami Herald on Wednesday that he does not believe investigating the outcome of pedophile multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s case is a wise move, saying it would set a “dangerous” precedent of second-guessing prosecutorial decisions.” The Intellectualist.

If you don’t know just how outrageous this plea deal was, you need to do some reading.  The plea deal immunized not only Epstein, but anyone associated with him, unnamed.

Ukraine Scandal

Seth Abramson pointed out on Twitter that the Trump/Ukraine story is far worse than the Democrats are presenting.  They are conducting a concerted attempt to dumb down the impeachment inquiry to the most elementary story hoping that then, people will understand it.

Abramson writes: “It’s much worse than we’ve been told.”

Trump, Pompeo, Giuliani, Nunes, Solomon, Parnas, Lutsenko and Fruman, Abramson notes began their plotting much earlier than is being considered.  (Note: Schiff referred to this in his statement today after the report was released).

The plotting began at a time when the participants didn’t know if Mueller would take down Trump.  It started when Trump learned he was being investigated over Russia.

Trump, Abramson argues, believed that Mueller would take him down.  The push towards Ukraine was a defense to allegations he knew were being made against the Kremlin, which he believed were going to be connected to him via Manafort.

This was not a plot against Biden.  Biden was just the icing on the cake.

“This was a plot to exculpate Trump, Putin and the man who connected them: Manafort.  It was a plot to end sanctions and pave the way for Trump deals in Russia.”

The key events started before anyone knew that Biden was going to run for president.

Duncan Hunter and Sentencing

Duncan Hunter is going to be allowed to plead guilty to corruption charges he vehemently denied for years.  Hunter claimed the charges against him were politically motivated and a (sign) “witch hunt.”  He refused to admit his wrongdoing, publicly claimed that he was being persecuted and still holds his position in the congress, but he is being allowed to plead guilty to one charge.  Even though he has been charged with multiple crimes, and potentially faces five years in prison, the reporting is that he will most probably get a little over a year.

There is no functioning criminal justice system for white collar, corporate and state criminals in this country.  That’s why Trump and Manafort and others like them were running around free to engage in political campaigns.  This must stop or we will have no democracy left.

The Corporate Media

At this extremely serious time, Nicolle Wallace has Donnie Deutsch on her show as a member of the panel.  Deutsch is a “marketing expert.”  This, folks, is where we are as a country, and where the corporate media is.