Tag Archives: Roger Stone

Stealing the Election: Behind our Backs and in front of our faces

It is tempting to think that authoritarian governments come to power through sudden and dramatic coups, but often they do not.  Instead, they come to power through a creeping co-opting of authority.  This is the preferred method, the most successful method of taking control. 

A sudden, dramatic take-over of a society provokes resistance.  Sliding the society into authoritarianism accomplishes the same thing, but doesn’t so dramatically jar everybody’s sensibilities.

The Trump Administration could try to cancel the 2020 elections and stay in power.  But, that would draw a backlash, and hopefully a powerful resistance.  The Republicans would prefer to to stay in power through a manipulated election, and that is what they are seeking.  Republicans want the show and appearance of an election without the actuality of an election, i.e., they want a pre-determined outcome.  In other words, they want exactly what Putin has. 

It is clear that the Republicans want to remain in power by manipulating the 2020 election process.  They do not want to bring troops into polling places and seize ballots, but they are not above doing that if they must.  They are clearly planning strategies for both eventualities.    

One of the techniques authoritarian governments use to bring about illegal and unconstitutional change that ensures the maintenance of their power is to test out their intentions ahead of time.  Test, measure reaction, pull back if necessary, test again or go forward.  The history of the Trump/Republican administration is one of using this strategy.

On first consideration, this might seem counter intuitive.  Why would they signal in advance their intention to subvert the law?  Why alert the opposition so they can prepare? 

One very good reason is to inoculate citizens and the media, slowly injecting the idea of electoral intervention a little at the time so that if it becomes necessary, the idea will not be totally new.

First, this means that Republican supporters will be brought along carefully, introducing them to the idea, signaling what may come.  Second, the introduction of the idea allows time to lay the foundation of the argument of why this may become “necessary.”  Third, the advanced announcement, or threat, causes the opposition to go on alert.  As time passes though, and other threats are issued, the heightened sensitivity can’t be maintained, and the opposition relaxes. 

The Republicans have turned this threat/reaction circle into a joke, a way of ginning up outrage among their opposition which they then ridicule.  The legitimate outrage at the idea of the subversion of democracy becomes an object of mockery.  So, Republican supporters know exactly how to react to this moral outrage if and when it actually happens.  They jeer, mock and dismiss.

Fourth, the announcement alerts the opposition, but through repeated threats, the opposition wears down and the heightened sensitivity cannot be maintained.  The press loses interest in even covering the threats because they aren’t new.  The press and the citizenry become desensitized. 

The Republicans have used this tactic repeatedly through various surrogates and through Trump.  At the moment, they are testing the waters of electoral interference through people like Roger Stone.  There are a number of reasons why Roger Stone is not in prison.  First, he was paid off so he would not do a deal with prosecutors and tell them about the Republicans’ various corrupt activities.  Second, Stone functions as an effective mouthpiece.  He publicly says that the Republicans should do this or that.  Then, Republicans wait for the reaction.  That reaction informs them of just how far they can go. 

Roger Stone, stated over the weekend on Alex Jones’s Infowars that Trump and the Republicans should seize total power over the society and jail opponents including Bill and Hillary Clinton should he lose to Biden.  Stone argued that Trump should consider invoking the Insurrection act.  He also recommended arresting Harry Reid. 

Stone said: “The ballots in Nevada on election night should be seized by federal marshals and taken from the state. They are completely corrupted. No votes should be counted from the state of Nevada if that turns out to be the provable case. Send federal marshals to the Clark county board of elections, Mr. President!”

Later, attacking the Democratic governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak, Trump said: “This is the guy we are entrusting with millions of ballots, unsolicited ballots, and we’re supposed to win these states. Who the hell is going to trust him? The only way the Democrats can win the election is if they rig it.”

On Sunday, on ABC’s This Week, senior Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller also attacked mail-in ballots in Nevada. He also called Sisolak a “clubhouse governor … who, by the way, if you go against him politically … politically speaking, you’ll find yourself buried in the desert.”

So, the Republicans are signaling that they may intervene in the election if it becomes necessary, telling their supporters what to expect and providing a rationale for the clearly illegal and unconstitutional action.

Stone, in the interview, advocated “forming an election day operation using the FBI, federal marshals and Republican state officials across the country to be prepared to file legal objections [to results] and if necessary to physically stand in the way of criminal activity.”

In an interview broadcast on Saturday night, Trump told Fox News he would happily “put down” any leftwing protests about the results of the election.  “We’ll put them down very quickly if they do that,” he told Jeannine Pirro.

As well as signaling his supporters and threatening his opponents, this move is also a head-fake.  In other words, Republicans are shouting from the media mountain tops that they may well physically intervene in the election, seizing ballots, sending in troops.  The corporate media spends hours and hours talking about this and pointing out the obvious fact that it is illegal and unconstitutional.  But, what the Republicans are hoping for, banking on, is that they can accomplish the same take-over of the election process through more covert means, voter purges, voting machine processes that are impenetrable and therefore subject to manipulation, refusing to count mail-in ballots that come in “late,” closing polling places, etc.

The Republicans are stealing the 2020 election.  They are doing so behind our backs and in front of our faces. 

See, the Guardian

https://news.yahoo.com/roger-stone-donald-trump-bring-021241564.html

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

roger 2

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.