And Speaking of Voting Rights …

I had considered doing a Saturday Surprise post today, but … frankly, my heart wasn’t in it and my mind kept going back to an editorial I read yesterday by Attorney General Merrick Garland.  Perhaps there might be a Sunday Surprise tomorrow, but for today, please read AG Garland’s words, think about them, put them into the context of the post I wrote yesterday about Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964.  Then ask yourself … WHERE are we headed?  WHY should a person’s right to vote be infringed upon because of the colour of their skin?  And WHAT, if anything, can We the People do to stop this runaway train that will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, rob them of their voice in our country’s government?


Merrick Garland: It is time for Congress to act again to protect the right to vote

Opinion by Merrick B. Garland

Friday, 06 August 2021

Merrick B. Garland is attorney general of the United States.

Our society is shaped not only by the rights it declares but also by its willingness to protect and enforce those rights. Nowhere is this clearer than in the area of voting rights.

Fifty-six years ago Friday, the Voting Rights Act became law. At the signing ceremony, President Lyndon B. Johnson rightly called it “one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom.”

Prior attempts to protect voting rights informed his assessment. The 15th Amendment promised that no American citizen would be denied the right to vote on account of race. Yet for nearly a century following the amendment’s ratification, the right to vote remained illusory for far too many.

The Civil Rights Act of 1957 marked Congress’s first major civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. That law authorized the attorney general to sue to enjoin racially discriminatory denials of the right to vote. Although the Justice Department immediately put the law to use, it quickly learned that bringing case-by-case challenges was no match for systematic voter suppression.

Things would not have changed without the civil rights movement’s persistent call to action. By the time a 25-year-old John Lewis was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the Justice Department had been embroiled in voting rights litigation against the surrounding county for four years. Although the county had approximately 15,000 Black citizens of voting age, the number of Black registered voters had only risen from 156 to 383 during those years.

By 1965, it was clear that protecting the right to vote required stronger tools. The Voting Rights Act provided them. Central to the law was its “preclearance” provision, which prevented jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices from adopting new voting rules until they could show the Justice Department or a federal court that the change would have neither a racially discriminatory purpose nor a racially discriminatory result.

By any measure, the preclearance regime was enormously effective. While it was in place, the Justice Department blocked thousands of discriminatory voting changes that would have curtailed the voting rights of millions of citizens in jurisdictions large and small.

One thwarted change involved McComb, Miss. A large group of Black residents in the city had long voted at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, which was close to their homes on the east side of railroad tracks that run through the city. In 1997, the city tried to move that group’s assigned polling place to the American Legion Hut on the west side of the tracks. To cross those tracks, Black voters on the east side — many of whom lacked transportation — would have had to travel substantial distances to find a safe crossing. Recognizing that difficulty, the Justice Department blocked the change.

While the Voting Rights Act gave the Justice Department robust authority, it also imposed checks on that power. Jurisdictions had the option to go to federal court to show that their voting changes were lawful. This ensured fairness and accountability, but without the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness that existed prior to 1965. It was a balance that worked and received broad support: Congressional reauthorizations of the act were signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon in 1970, President Gerald Ford in 1975, President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and President George W. Bush in 2006.

That invaluable framework was upended in 2013, when the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder effectively eliminated the act’s preclearance protections. Without that authority, the Justice Department has been unable to stop discriminatory practices before they occur. Instead, the Justice Department has been left with costly, time-consuming tools that have many of the shortcomings that plagued federal law prior to 1965.

Notwithstanding these setbacks, the Justice Department is using all its current legal authorities to combat a new wave of restrictive voting laws. But if the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance provision were still operative, many of those laws would likely not have taken effect in the first place.

In a column published after his death, Lewis recalled an important lesson taught by Martin Luther King Jr.: “Each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something.”

On this anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we must say again that it is not right to erect barriers that make it harder for millions of eligible Americans to vote. And it is time for Congress to act again to protect that fundamental right.

A Bombshell That Few Noticed

Last week, we found out that the former guy had instructed then-acting-attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R congressmen.”  I saw this headline in numerous news sites that I visit daily, and like most of the rest of you, I growled a bit, called him a few choice names, then moved on to other stories.  But as Robert Reich points out … that was the wrong move.  This is THE story that is most important in its implications.  I’ll let Mr. Reich explain …


A Trump bombshell quietly dropped last week. And it should shock us all

Robert Reich

A newly released memo shows that Trump told the acting attorney general: ‘Just say the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen’

We’ve become so inured to Donald Trump’s proto-fascism that we barely blink an eye when we learn that he tried to manipulate the 2020 election. Yet the most recent revelation should frighten every American to their core.

On Friday, the House oversight committee released notes of a 27 December telephone call from Trump to then acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, in which Trump told Rosen: “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R congressmen.” The notes were taken by Richard Donoghue, Rosen’s deputy, who was also on the call.

The release of these notes has barely made a stir. The weekend news was filled with more immediate things – infrastructure! The Delta strain! Inflation! Wildfires! In light of everything else going on, Trump’s bizarre efforts in the last weeks of his presidency seem wearily irrelevant. Didn’t we already know how desperate he was?

In a word, no. This revelation is hugely important.

Rosen obviously rejected Trump’s request. But what if Rosen had obeyed Trump and said to the American public that the election was corrupt – and then “left the rest” to Trump and the Republican congressmen? What would Trump’s and the Republicans’ next moves have been? And which Republican congressmen were in cahoots with Trump in this attempted coup d’état?

Make no mistake: this was an attempted coup.

Trump knew it. Just weeks earlier, then attorney general William Barr said the justice department had found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have overturned the results.

And a few days after Trump’s call to Rosen – on 2 January – Trump told Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, to “find” votes to change the election outcome. He berated Raffensperger for not doing more to overturn the election.

Emails released last month also show that Trump and his allies in the last weeks of his presidency pressured the justice department to investigate totally unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud – forwarding them conspiracy theories and even a draft legal brief they hoped would be filed with the supreme court.

Some people, especially Republican officeholders, believe we should simply forget these sordid details. We must not.

For the first time in the history of the United States we did not have a peaceful transition of power. For the first time in American history, a president refused – still refuses – to concede, and continues to claim, with no basis in fact, that the election was “stolen” from him. For the first time in history, a president actively plotted a coup.

It would have been bad enough were Trump a mere crackpot acting on his own pathetic stage – a would-be dictator who accidentally became president and then, when he lost re-election, went bonkers – after which he was swept into the dustbin of history.

We might then merely regret this temporary lapse in American presidential history. At best, Trump would be seen as a fool and the whole affair an embarrassment to the country.

But Trump was no accident and he’s not in any dustbin. He has turned one of America’s two major parties into his own cult. He has cast the major political division in the US as a clash between those who believe him about the 2020 election and those who do not. He has emboldened state Republicans to execute the most brazen attack on voting rights since Jim Crow. Most Republican senators and representatives dare not cross him. Some of his followers continue to threaten violence against the government. By all accounts, he is running for president again in 2024.

Donald Trump’s proto-fascism poses the largest internal threat to American democracy since the civil war.

What to do about it? Fight it, and the sooner the better.

This final revelation – Trump’s 27 December call to the acting attorney general in which he pleads “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” – should trigger section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars anyone from holding office who “engaged in insurrection” against the US. The current attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland, should issue an advisory opinion clearly stating this. If Trump wants to take it to the supreme court, fine.

It’s Only A Matter Of Time

This, from a press release by the Department of Justice, U.S. District Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California, yesterday, July 16th

According to court documents, Ian Benjamin Rogers, 45, of Napa, and Jarrod Copeland, 37, of Vallejo, began planning to attack targets they associated with Democrats after the 2020 Presidential election and sought support from an anti-government militia group. According to the indictment, the defendants planned to use incendiary devices to attack their targets and hoped their attacks would prompt a movement.

The indictment describes how Copeland and Rogers used multiple messaging applications and discussed the attacks on numerous occasions. For example, in late December 2020, Copeland told Rogers he contacted an anti-government militia group to gather support for the movement and in January 2021, Rogers told Copeland “I want to blow up a democrat building bad.” Copeland agreed, saying, “I agree” “Plan attack”.  The agreed to start with the Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento and to “see what happens.”  In one exchange, Rogers wrote to Copeland, “after the 20th we go to war,” meaning that they would initiate acts of violence after the inauguration on January 20, 2021.

According to court documents, on January 15, just four days after that exchange and five days before the trigger that Rogers and Copeland identified as the start of their campaign of violence, law enforcement officers searched Rogers’s home and business and seized a cache of weapons from Rogers’s home, including 45 to 50 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and five pipe bombs. Copeland allegedly also attempted to destroy evidence of the plan; after Rogers’s arrest, Copeland communicated with a leader of a militia group who advised Copeland to switch to a new communications platform and delete everything he had. Copeland agreed and when law enforcement obtained Copeland’s devices on January 17, Copeland’s communications with Rogers were missing.

Additional documents filed by the government argue that the defendants understood they would be viewed as domestic terrorists and hoped that their violent acts might start a movement to overthrow the government. In November of 2020, Rogers allegedly used encrypted messaging applications to tell Copeland that he would “hit the enemy in the mouth” by using Molotov cocktails and gasoline to attack targets associated with democrats, including the Governor’s Mansion and the Democratic Headquarters Building in Sacramento.

Rogers and Copeland are both charged with conspiracy to destroy by fire or explosive a building used or in affecting interstate commerce.

Rogers & Copeland

Prosecutors, national security officials and politicians have warned that after Trump and his allies ramped up his lies of a stolen election in November and after a mob of hundreds of Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol on January 6, their inflammatory rhetoric could lead to violence.  Gee, you really think???

I have questions …

  • How in the hell did Ian Benjamin Rogers acquire “40-50 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and five pipe bombs”??? Would you not expect that background checks would have red-flagged this somewhere along the line?  Oh wait … I forgot … you can buy a gun without a background check … apparently you can buy LOTS of guns without a background check.
  • How many more similar plots are out there that the federal authorities aren’t aware of? You know and I know that this was not the sole plan among Trump-supporting lunatics.  You’ll remember that Trump appealed to his supporters and told them to “… fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”  These two got caught … how long until one doesn’t get caught in time?  It’s only a matter of time …
  • WHY isn’t the former guy in jail for inciting to riot with his words? Trust me, if I said the things that the former guy has said, my ass (and the rest of me) would be sitting in a jail cell awaiting trial for inciting violence at the very least.  Is he somehow … more special than you or I?

I sincerely hope that Rogers and Copeland spend the next 20 years, the maximum possible sentence for their crimes, in prison, but the odds are against it.  And one last question … if they had succeeded in their plot, would they be getting a fist bump from the likes of Josh Hawley, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz and Margie Greene, and would they get an “Atta Boy” from the former guy and his cronies?  Think on that one when you go to bed tonight.

4 Details From Merrick Garland’s Voting Rights Announcement

I was thrilled to read yesterday … or was it the day before? … that the Department of Justice under Attorney General Merrick Garland will be taking on the issue of voting rights, given that the U.S. Senate is almost certain to refuse to uphold and protect our civil rights.  Our friend TokyoSand has written about some of the details of Garland’s plan, and included a short video clip of his speech that I hope you’ll take time to watch.  Thank you, TS, for all your good work!


4 Details From Merrick Garland’s Voting Rights Announcement

It’s been rough on the voting rights front these last few months, but on Friday, a little sun broke through the clouds.

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks about a jurys verdict in the case against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, at the Department of Justice on April 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Attorney General Merrick Garland made an important speech outlining some actions the the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice would be taking to combat the attack on voting rights. He specifically mentioned the 14 states that have passed laws that make it harder to vote. He even referenced the SCOTUS decision back in 2013 that invalidated a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that opened to the door to a renewed rush of discriminatory actions.

View entire original post …

They Still Walk Among Us … WHY???

The majority of the people who have been charged with attacking Congress and the Capitol on January 6th are not in jail.  On average in the U.S., only about 25% of people charged with a crime are released while awaiting trial, but among this bunch of thugs and white supremacists, 70% are out on bail at this time.

Eric Munchel, known as “Zip Tie Guy”, who was photographed wearing tactical gear and carrying wrist restraints in the Senate chamber, was released in late March, along with his mother, after an appeals court questioned whether he posed any danger outside the specific context of January 6th.

Richard Barnett, the Arkansas man photographed with his foot on Nancy Pelosi’s desk, was released in late April, nearly two months after screaming during a court hearing that “it’s not fair” that he was still in custody when “everybody else who did things much worse are already home”.

Legal experts are predicting that a substantial swath of the alleged rioters may not serve any prison time at all, even if they are convicted or plead guilty.  According to Erica Zunkel, associate director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School …

“I’m both surprised and not surprised. Most of these people are white. The majority of people in the federal system are people of color.”

And there, no matter what other excuses we may be given, lies the crux of the matter.  Racism rears its ugly head, even in matters of treason, of attempting to overthrow the government, in matters of attempting to murder the U.S. Constitution.

At least 440 people have been arrested on charges related to the January 6th attack, according to the justice department, including at least 125 charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.  Of those, 330 or more have been released from custody pending trial.  44% are charged only with misdemeanors, such as entering a restricted building or disorderly conduct.  BULLSHIT!  Each and every one was a part of a larger movement that was intended to murder people such as Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, and worse yet, to murder whatever shred of democracy remains in this country.  They fully intended to take away our votes, to turn the tables and hand over the Oval Office to the biggest thug of them all!

Richard Barnett has a webpage soliciting donations for his legal defense!  Barnett breached the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, put his nasty feet on her desk, stole her mail, and left her an obscene note, and yet he is not behind bars today.  According to the website …

For a $100 donation, “Richard will send you an autographed picture of him sitting in Pelosi’s office personally addressed to whomever you like. Richard sends his deepest thanks & appreciation for any amount of money. His employment was terminated because of public pressure to fire him after his arrest.”

The site also says that “He is instead asking those who disagree with him to reconcile the federal government’s all-out prosecution of January-sixers with its failure to prosecute the 200+ Code Pink demonstrators” from the Cavanaugh hearings.  The site also notes that this is a private campaign, as GoFundMe refused to allow his campaign.

And then there’s Federico Klein, a former State Department appointee of the former guy who participated in the attack on January 6th.  Klein was still working for the State Department on January 6th when he helped lead the assault, physically fighting against the front line of officers, even assaulting officers with a riot shield he’d stolen from them.  According to the Court filing …

“Klein’s willing and enthusiastic participation in violence against police officers protecting a lawful proceeding of Congress, for which he is charged with multiple felonies – including a crime of violence – weighs heavily in favor of detention. Not only was his individual conduct and encouragement to other rioters violent and dangerous, but his actions heightened the overall violence and dangerousness of the day.

Notably, one video captured Klein encouraging other rioters to attempt to breach the Capitol by shouting, ‘We need fresh people, we need fresh people’ multiple times.”

Arrested in March, Klein was released on an unsecured bond last month, and worse yet, it is reported that Justice Department lawyers are considering offering a plea deal to Klein.  Say WHAT???  WHY???  This is a man who served as a political appointee in the State Department from 2017 until his resignation on January 19th, 13 days after he attacked Congress.  This is a man who had taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, who had top security clearance!

On Friday, the United States Senate, by its action to deny the establishment of a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6th, told us that they do not take the assault on our government, on We the People, seriously.  They told us that We the People no longer matter.  It appears that the Department of Justice and the Courts feel the same as Congress.  So, are they going to simply give these people a slap on the wrist and tell them to behave, give them the freedom to do the same or worse after the election in 2024?  Think about it.

A Man Of Honour & Integrity Speaks

I have wondered lately about Robert Mueller.  I understood why he was keeping a low profile … to an extent.  His work was done, he did it well, and while I wish he had done more, I also realize that he was prohibited from doing so by the abominable U.S. District Attorney, William Barr.  However, I was surprised that with all Trump’s recent blathering about the Mueller investigation having been a ‘witch hunt’, after the Department of Justice dropping the charges against Michael Flynn, and now Trump commuting Roger Stone’s sentence, Robert Mueller remained silent.  Trump and his henchmen have used every trick in their books to attempt to override the indictments the Mueller team made, and to attempt to convince the public that the Mueller investigation was a sham, naught but an attempt to bring Trump down.  I thought surely it must eat at Mueller, surely he must be itching to speak out, to defend his work, if not his own integrity.  Well, the Roger Stone episode was, apparently, the straw that broke the camel’s back, and Robert Mueller has spoken.  His words are far more important and more intelligent than any you’ll hear from Stone, Flynn, Barr, or Trump.  Mr. Mueller has something that none of them has:  honour and integrity.


Robert Mueller: Roger Stone Remains a Convicted Felon, and Rightly So

By Robert S. Mueller III

JULY 11, 2020

Robert-Mueller

The work of the special counsel’s office — its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions — should speak for itself. But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office. The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.

Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy. It was critical that they be investigated and understood. By late 2016, the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate. And the FBI knew that the Russians had done just that: Beginning in July 2016, WikiLeaks released emails stolen by Russian military intelligence officers from the Clinton campaign. Other online personas using false names — fronts for Russian military intelligence — also released Clinton campaign emails.

Following FBI Director James B. Comey’s termination in May 2017, the acting attorney general named me as special counsel and directed the special counsel’s office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The order specified lines of investigation for us to pursue, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. One of our cases involved Stone, an official on the campaign until mid-2015 and a supporter of the campaign throughout 2016. Stone became a central figure in our investigation for two key reasons: He communicated in 2016 with individuals known to us to be Russian intelligence officers, and he claimed advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ release of emails stolen by those Russian intelligence officers.

We now have a detailed picture of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel’s office identified two principal operations directed at our election: hacking and dumping Clinton campaign emails, and an online social media campaign to disparage the Democratic candidate. We also identified numerous links between the Russian government and Trump campaign personnel — Stone among them. We did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its activities. The investigation did, however, establish that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. It also established that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.

Uncovering and tracing Russian outreach and interference activities was a complex task. The investigation to understand these activities took two years and substantial effort. Based on our work, eight individuals pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial, and more than two dozen Russian individuals and entities, including senior Russian intelligence officers, were charged with federal crimes.

Congress also investigated and sought information from Stone. A jury later determined he lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.

The jury ultimately convicted Stone of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness. Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.

Russian efforts to interfere in our political system, and the essential question of whether those efforts involved the Trump campaign, required investigation. In that investigation, it was critical for us (and, before us, the FBI) to obtain full and accurate information. Likewise, it was critical for Congress to obtain accurate information from its witnesses. When a subject lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable. It may ultimately impede those efforts.

We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law. The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.

Just A Little Bit Of Snark …

These days, I typically am not even out of bed before I have a lovely buildup of snark.  Perhaps I should stop reading the headlines on my phone before my feet even hit the ground?  Today is no exception …


A new idiot on my radar … this one a Democrat!

This morning, a new abomination crossed my path and left me (nearly) speechless.  And this one, my friends, is a democrat!  Meet Rubén Díaz Sr., a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 15th District of New York, South Bronx.

Ruben-Diaz

Mr. Díaz was born and raised in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, served in the U.S. Army from 1960-1963, and moved to New York City in 1965, the same year he was found guilty of marijuana and heroin possession charges and was sentenced to probation.  The following year he became an evangelical Christian and eventually an ordained minister.  But those are not the reasons I call him an abomination.

Mr. Díaz is both a homophobe and a misogynist … not to mention that he enthusiastically supported Donald Trump in 2016!  Let’s take a look at just a few of his political stances …

  • In 1994, while on the Civilian Complaint Review Board, Díaz was critical of the city hosting the Gay Games, claiming that doing so would lead to an increase in AIDS cases and to wider acceptance of homosexuality by young people. Díaz wrote that hosting the Games would lead children “to conclude that if there are so many gay and lesbian athletes then there is nothing wrong, nor any risks involved.”

  • In 2002, Díaz was elected to the New York State Senate. He represented the 32nd district in the New York State Senate from 2003 to 2017, during which time he attempted, along with two other state senators, to use his leverage to ensure that the Senate would not vote on the issue of same-sex marriage.

  • In 2017 Díaz was elected to the New York City Council, representing the 18th district. Last year, Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for Díaz’ resignation after Díaz claimed that City Council was “controlled by the homosexual community”.

  • He is strongly against a woman’s right to choose an abortion, saying, “Abortion is the American Holocaust…. The comparison is plain: six million Jews were exterminated by Hitler in Germany; Almost 48 million babies have been exterminated in the abortion clinics of America. We have simply been in the killing for a longer period of time than Hitler.”

  • Most recently, he claimed that he would not “rat” on fellow council members if he saw evidence of sexual harassment. “I’m not gonna rat my people out! This place is full of rats! So we’re supposed to be rats?”  He later claimed his comment was misinterpreted.

Interestingly, Mr. Díaz’ own granddaughter is a member of the LGBT community, and during one of his rallies, he called her on stage and proceeded to say how much he loved her.  Her reply …

“You cannot tell someone that you love them and stay silent when people call for their death. ‘Love’ is empty when you say someone’s life isn’t natural.”

Díaz’ support of Trump, much like most evangelicals, is based on Trump’s promise to nominate Supreme Court Justices who would, given the chance, overturn Roe v Wade and Obergefell v Hodges, thus returning the nation to the dark ages where women and LGBT people were treated as second-class citizens.  Sadly, Mr. Díaz is polling high in his district.  There are some 12 democratic candidates running for the congressional seat, but only one, Ritchie Torres, who seems to stand a chance.  Let us hope the people in his district wake up and smell the coffee before the primary election on June 23rd.


There’s a price to pay for listening to Trump …

Today, the New York Times reports that in at least 21 states, the number of coronavirus cases is on the rise.  The only thing that amazes me about this is that people are amazed by it.  The health experts all warned this was what would happen, but … to our government, it seems that the economy is of greater importance, greater value, than our lives.  Florida is one of those 21 states that have seen an increase in cases, and the RNC has tentatively scheduled their national convention in Jacksonville, Florida, where they plan to hold a “large-scale event” in August, further endangering thousands of people.  What could possibly go wrong, eh?


Michael Flynn – it ain’t over yet!

Last month, after the Department of Justice, without cause, dropped all charges against Michael Flynn, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan asked former federal judge, John Gleeson to weigh in on the matter.  Flynn had, after all, entered into a plea agreement, pleading guilty of charges of lying to Congress, while being let off the hook on numerous other charges in exchange for his guilty plea.  And then, suddenly, almost certainly under the orders of Donald Trump, William Barr announced that the charges were being dropped.  As I said at the time, I smelled a very large rat.

Well, former Judge Gleeson also smells one, and he has recommended that sentencing should proceed.

“The facts surrounding the filing of the Government’s motion constitute clear evidence of gross prosecutorial abuse. They reveal an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump.

Everything about this is irregular.

President Trump today has the unreviewable authority to issue a pardon, thus ensuring that Flynn is no longer prosecuted and never punished for his crimes because he is a friend and political ally. But the instant the Executive Branch filed a criminal charge against Flynn, it forfeited the right to implicate this Court in the dismissal of that charge simply because Flynn is a friend and political ally of the President.”

Gleeson recommended that Judge Sullivan not pursue new charges of contempt of court, but rather that he instead proceed to sentence Flynn on the original charge, to which he pled guilty two-and-a-half years ago.  We will see where this goes, but I think we can all make an educated guess.  Sigh.

I Smell A Rat …

What in the Sam Heck is going on here?  Three stories from yesterday should make your blood boil, for all three show just how big a bully Trump has become and how the safeguards to keep a president from acquiring too much power are crumbling under his bluster.


For those who may be unfamiliar or have forgotten about the Bridgegate scandal in 2013, a very brief synopsis:

Two of Governor Chris Christie’s associates, Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, ordered the closure of two of three lanes on the very busy George Washington Bridge at the point of access/egress to Fort Lee, New Jersey.  The closures were proven beyond a doubt to have been politically motivated as retaliation against Fort Lee’s Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who had not supported Christie as a candidate in the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election.  They caused massive rush-hour traffic tie-ups for a full week for no reason at all.  Also involved, or at least in the loop, was Bridget Kelly, deputy chief of staff in Christie’s office.  All three were tried and found guilty on all counts in November 2016.

Yesterday, however, nearly four years after their conviction, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously to overturn the convictions.  The Court held that Baroni and Kelly for no reason other than political payback reshuffled the lanes on the George Washington Bridge.  Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the move jeopardized the residents of Fort Lee but concluded that “not every corrupt act by state or local officials is a federal crime.”

ratI smell a rat.  The Court admits that it was a politically motivated move and that it had negative consequences for the residents of a town, yet … no harm done, nothing to see here, folks?  Christie has become quite a bootlicker to Donald Trump, and just yesterday he came onto my radar for claiming that there was really no point to saving lives, that it was more important to get the economy up and running.  Perhaps this is his reward?


Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in 2017 about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.  He confessed, pled guilty … and yet yesterday, the Department of Justice under the ignoble William Barr dropped all charges against him.  Yep, you heard me right … dropped all charges … free to go, nothing to see here, folks, and have a nice day Mr. Flynn.

Right before the charges were dropped, however, an interesting thing happened.  The lead prosecutor, Brandon Van Grack, withdrew from the case without giving a reason, only a terse single sentence to Judge Emmet Sullivan that he would be quitting the case.  Almost immediately thereafter, the Justice Department announced the charges were being dropped.

Again, I smell a rat … a big, fat rat named Donald Trump.rat-trump


And last, but certainly not least, there’s this …

In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in March cleared the way for Congress to access secret evidence from Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in one of a set of separation-of-powers lawsuits between House Democrats and Trump.  If there is nothing to hide, after all, then why shouldn’t Congress and ultimately, We the People have access to everything?

But noooooo … Trump has asked the Supreme Court to block the ruling!  Again … what are you hiding, Mr. Trump???  And once again, I smell a rat.ratWill the Supreme Court capitulate?  Well, they seem to be on a roll of supporting Trump and whatever he asks for these days, don’t they?  The only time they decided against him of late was on April 27th when they ruled that the federal government owes health insurers massive payments from prior ACA (Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare) funding commitments that Trump & Co attempted to renege on.  While I applaud that decision, it is literally the only one in which Trump has not had his way.  Checks and balances???  Hah!


There are six months left until the election, my friends.  Every week, the abominations multiply almost exponentially.  How much more damage can he do before then?  Perhaps by November he and his family will have claimed ownership of the United States, renamed it “The Divided States of Trump”.  How much longer will Congress … and We the People … put up with this b.s.?  Or, will we sit back like good little citizens and trust the wheels of justice to work for us until one morning we wake and realize we are subjects, not citizens?Time-to-go

Sneaky

This, my friends, is how democracies die …

“The Justice Department has quietly [emphasis added] asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States.

Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted.

[…]

The move has tapped into a broader fear among civil liberties advocates and Donald Trump’s critics — that the president will use a moment of crisis to push for controversial policy changes. Already, he has cited the pandemic as a reason for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims. He has also pushed for further tax cuts as the economy withers, arguing that it would soften the financial blow to Americans. And even without policy changes, Trump has vast emergency powers that he could legally deploy right now to try and slow the coronavirus outbreak.

The DOJ requests — which are unlikely to make it through a Democratic-led House — span several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated.”

You can read the rest of the article here, but let’s talk a bit about what this could mean.

This could mean, if somehow either Congress passed it, or failing that, Trump took his ‘executive power’ to an unprecedented level, that you might be arrested for any or no reason.  Say your state is under a mandated “lock down” (something that is outside of the law to begin with), and you are out for a walk in your neighborhood.  A police car is patrolling the area, sees you, stops and the officer arrests you simply for being outside.  He couldn’t do that under normal circumstances, and if he did, you would be able to appear before a magistrate, explain the situation, and almost certainly be released immediately.  But, if this suspension of constitutional rights were to fly, you could be arrested, tossed in jail, and not go before a judge “until this crisis is over” … possibly months or even as long as a year.

That scenario is frightening enough, but let’s project a bit.  If allowed to suspend constitutional rights, what other areas of our civil liberties might be affected?  The one that worries me the most is the 1st Amendment, our rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  Already, our right to peaceful protest has been suspended by default with the ruling that no more than ten people are allowed to gather in one place.  What next?  Could it become unlawful to … say, speak against our government, to call Trump out on his lies and ignorance?

I don’t know where this will go, and I hope that the Democratic-majority House of Representatives will put a stop to such nonsense, but I do not have a crumb of trust in our government at this time – not Donald Trump, not William Barr and his Department of ‘Justice’, not the Republican-led Senate under Mitch McConnell.  I don’t trust our law enforcement agencies, nor our Departments of Labour, Education, Health and Human Services … none of them.  They are led by people who do not care about the people of this nation but will do almost anything to enhance their own profits and power.  Just something to think about.  Let’s keep our eye on the ball and hope our free press does the same.


And just one little snippet that I found humorous in a macabre sort of way …

“In Rhode Island, among businesses cited for ignoring social-distance warnings was Wonderland, a strip club, where customers were still receiving lap dances last weekend.”

Gotta get your priorities straight, y’know!

Is it time for The Office of Public Prosecutions?

The nation … at least those of us who aren’t drinking Trump’s toxic concoction, is aghast at the breech of protocol in the Department of Justice regarding the Roger Stone case. Our friend Jeff has done some research into the way some other nations have gone about ensuring that the Department of Justice is not influenced by the government, but rather remains independent in order to maintain the rule of law. I hope you’ll take a minute to read Jeff’s piece, for this is something that will affect us all for years, perhaps decades to come. Thanks Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

In the age of Trumpism, it’s time to look how other countries ensure an independent Justice Department

During the Trump era, it’s rare that I agree with anything Alan Dershowitz says. The 81-year-old ‘TV’ lawyer has gone off the deep end it seems, especially when you consider his ridiculous performance during the recent impeachment trial.

But once in a while, he gets it right. A few nights ago on CNN, he was debating his former pupil, Jeffrey Toobin, concerning the recent intervention of Bill Barr into Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendation from federal prosecutors. Dershowitz, of course, first sided with Trump on the issue, saying that he did have the ‘legal’ right to intervene in that particular case. There was nothing in the law that says he couldn’t do it.

But then he also explained that it wasn’t right for him to do so. Because of the long understood norms and…

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