There is a distinct problem in this country with excessive inbreeding of politicians, lobbyists and journalists. In a country where so many are now ruled by so few in power, it is becoming, if not already become, the biggest threat to American democracy. I would add in corporations, but, heck, who do you think the politicians, lobbyists and journalists represent at this point?
Now, corporations and their money through their mouthpiece lobbyists have long had a stranglehold on politics, whether through the corps themselves or their wealthy owners. But the one saving mechanism has historically been claimed to be the “Fourth Estate” of the American press who were there on behalf of the people as a check on power. But what if the Fourth Estate becomes, in fact, part of the power? What then?
What if the crucial check on federal and state power is by journalists who are little more than stenographers clamoring for access and/or co-opted social friends and elites with the powers that be? What if the sacrosanct civil servants of this country are nothing but Kardashian like shills out for a free gilded ride before they leave office to cash in with private sector riches befitting their holiness?
Golly, if only there was an example of this incestuous degradation. Oh, wait, get a load of this just put up by Kate Bennett’s KGB File at Politico:
In a generally stay-at-home administration, one member of the Obama Cabinet is proving to be the toast of the town. Jeh Johnson, the oh-so-serious-on-the-outside secretary of Homeland Security, is fast becoming Washington’s No. 1 social butterfly, dining out at posh restaurants like CityCenter’s DBGB, as he did last week with a small group that included Amy Klobuchar, Steny Hoyer, CNN’s Jim Sciutto, the New York Times’ Ashley Parker, author Aaron Cooley, and lobbyist Jack Quinn and his wife Susanna.
For a guy who’s been running a 24/7 war against terror since 2013, Johnson seems to have a lot of time to trip the light fantastic. He can often be seen enjoying regular catch-up sessions with BFF Wolf Blitzer at Café Milano (back table, naturally); and mingling at black-tie soirées, such as the Kennedy Center Spring Gala, the Opera Ball, or a champagne-fueled VIP garden party at Mount Vernon to toast French-American relations, all of which Johnson attended—and stayed at beyond the requisite cocktail-hour schmooze.
Story Continued Below
“There’s rarely an invitation he’ll turn down,” says an aide to Johnson, who prefers to remain anonymous, of his boss’s penchant for spending three-to-four evenings a week at social functions — and actually enjoying them.
I am not going to bother to dissect that, it speaks all too clearly for itself. And it is hard to figure which is more pukeworthy, the bon vivant civil servant or the elitism displayed by the supposed watcher last bastion journalists. It is all of the same cloth.
What’s wrong in Washington DC? Here you go. When the pathology on the boneyard of American democracy is run, this vignette will appear.
Maybe this is why Tom Vilsack could find a spare couple of hours out of one of his days to explain in a deposition why he and the Obama Administration knee jerkily demanded Shirley Sherrod’s resignation based upon a crank fraudulent video by a schlock like Andrew Breitbart.
Because “Executive Privilege” now means “Privileged Executives” who can party all night with their elitist journalistic pals and screw the rest of the government, and people it serves, during the day. Just like the Founders envisioned obviously.
Okay, long story short, a couple of months ago my wife set me up with her dermatologist for a head to toe skin exam to insure against skin melanoma. A perfectly reasonable thing, though, to be honest, would not have otherwise been on my pretty much lunkheaded list of things to do.
Okay, so, today was that appointment. A rather attractive woman doctor searched me from head to toe (no, not “there” you perverts) and found, after five decades of life in the desert sun, that I had zero issues. But then she asked if I had any “concerns”, and a friend had, a couple of months ago, pointed out some splotches on by bald ass head.
So, I mentioned that and the pretty doctor explored my cranium and, among randomly assholey and curmudgeonly thoughts, found several “surface areas of concern” on my scalp. She promptly took out a Batman Mr. Freeze like can of torture and nuked my crown with some freaking liquid hell. Cool at first, but then quickly like a blowtorch cutting into your skull. Ow!
Oh well, once over, stung a little, but no big deal. Except I looked at me skull in teh mirror and it looks like a lunar landscape. Jeebus.
Here is a bloody secret about blogging: The best ideas you express often come from others, even if you value add on to them. Welp, there will be no value adding on here, this post is 100% the work of our longtime friend at both Emptywheel and FDL, the one and only Peterr:
I had this vision of Donald Trump taking down the Statue of Liberty, replacing it with an even larger figure of himself, with a new poem inscribed on the base befitting his views on immigrants.
The New New Colossus
Not like the New Colossus, French-built bile
With calling torch and open arms so grand;
Now on this isle a Grander One shall stand:
A mighty huckster with a scam, whose smile
is a racist, hateful sneer, with his pile
of ego-sculpted hair. From his grasping hand
comes a devil’s contract; his beady eyes demand
payment ‘ere any travel one more mile.
“Keep, foreign lands, your homeless poor,” cries he
with flapping lips. “Give me your greedy, your rich,
Your coddled wealthy yearning to pay me,
the grasping powers drawn here by my pitch.
Send these, the makers, ready with my fee;
I snuff the lamp of Liberty, that bitch.”
I leave it to your imagination to envision the figure of The Donald standing astride New York harbor for yourself.
Okay, Peter is a long time friend, and his take totally merited publication. But Lady Liberty takes some attending to. You have to want the freedom of this country, you have to want it bad, and you have to be willing to fight for it, even when that freedom makes your blood curl (props to Sorkin’s American President). But wanting the American ethos is easy for an apparently gerbil topped pretender like Donald Trump. Trump wants the limelight, wants all the glory, and never wants to answer for the hell of stupidity, bankruptcy, loss of jobs and ignorance that he really stands for. Troll on Donald.
So many have given their lives for the right of a hollow shill to troll the American electorate. So many have died for that. So many just to give a blowhard clownshow jackhole the right to parade around like he is diddly shit other than the court jester and a sideshow amusement huckster.
The American people can propagate and tolerate an enormous amount of stupid, but not enough to let a pompous, bankruptcy generated, pompous jackass like Donald Trump through the door. Just an opinion, and a sincere hope.
Nope. George Bush was one thing, Trump is a bridge too far.
With the latest furor over minor children and the border already in full swing on top of all the other immigration fear mongering going on in this election year, you would think you had about heard it all when it comes to preening idiotic nonsense from “conservative” politicians.
Exhibit A: This somewhat beyond amazing story of Adam Kwasman, a current member of the Arizona State Legislature and a candidate for Congress in Arizona LD-1. Kwasman, in a mad rush to the gun nut bigot fest protest of immigrant children in southern Arizona, inspired by the Murietta hatred, saw a bus load of YMCA campers in a school bus on their way to summer camp. Kwasman, displaying every ounce of his razor sharp Einstein like brilliance, immediately concluded they were evil immigrants.
He [Kwasman] had tweeted from the scene, “Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law.” He included a photo of the back of a yellow school bus.
Kwasman later told me he saw the migrant children. “I was actually able to see some of the children in the buses. The fear on their faces…. This is not compassion,” he said.
But there was a problem with Kwasman’s story: There was no fear on their faces. Those weren’t the migrant children in the school bus. Those were children from the Marana school district. They were heading to the YMCA’s Triangle Y Camp, not far from the Rite of Passage shelter for the migrants, at the base of Mt. Lemmon.
12 News reporter Will Pitts, who is at the protest scene, says he saw the children laughing and taking pictures of the media.
Watch Brahm Resnik make an idiot of Kwasman at this link. I will not embed the video because I cannot get rid of the auto play command.
Proving it is never too late to shine your lame duck ass for a new generation of 1% oligarchs, Barack Obama laid open the real constituency of national politicians. And proved certain any inference that such was only the constituency and province of the GOP, Koch Brothers et. al is false.
If this is not stupid and ugly to the common Democratic fanchild, it is hard to imagine what is, or could be. From the New York Times hagiography:
On a crisp morning in late March, an elite group of 100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes filed into a cozy auditorium at the White House.
Their name tags read like a catalog of the country’s wealthiest and most influential clans: Rockefeller, Pritzker, Marriott. They were there for a discreet, invitation-only summit hosted by the Obama administration to find common ground between the public sector and the so-called next-generation philanthropists, many of whom stand to inherit billions in private wealth.
“Moon shots!” one administration official said, kicking off the day on an inspirational note to embrace the White House as a partner and catalyst for putting their personal idealism into practice.
I guess the Obama White House couldn’t fathom a better phrase for coming in their pants over big money.
If there is a more sick comment on the perverted state of US national politics, it is hard to imagine what it would be.
We are ruled by a bunch of oligarchs, and political handmaidens that kiss the oligarch’s asses and hew their beck and call. If the fact the great once and forever symbol of the common citizen “hope and change”, Barack Obama, is such a distant leader, constantly beholden to not only the future of the moneyed class, but the current too, then there is no reality for the American public.
The well-heeled group seemed receptive. “I think it’s fantastic,” said Patrick Gage, a 19-year-old heir to the multibillion-dollar Carlson hotel and hospitality fortune. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Mr. Gage, physically boyish with naturally swooping Bieber bangs, wore a conservative pinstripe suit and a white oxford shirt. His family’s Carlson company, which owns Radisson hotels, Country Inns and Suites, T.G.I. Friday’s and other brands, is an industry leader in enforcing measures to combat trafficking and involuntary prostitution.
Oh my. And holy crap.
The New York Times penned a factual report of this sick instance. Will the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, or any of the other august opinion pages of national press, deign themselves honest enough to write opinion and/or editorial pieces recognizing this political cancer for what it really is?
If you did not view the video, and listen to the lyrics in the video above, do so. Because that is exactly the class of “super citizens” your elected leaders are beholden to. The handful of billionaires count for far more than the actual billions of people on this earth.
Want proof? Look no further than the “liberal”, “socialist”, “Democratic” Obama White House, who just demonstrated the problem in Technicolor.
And, before you chafe, of course it would be even worse with Republicans in charge. But the question is no longer just which party is in control of the levers of power (though it DOES matter for SCOTUS), but where the values of the country really are.
It is almost impossible to fathom the country’s values are with the pimple faced, Bieber banged, teenager scions of billionaires the Obama White House so calmly and cooly glad-hands.
[Seriously, watch the video from the one, the only, fantastic Tubes:
Young and rich
Everything I desire
Light bulbs with shades
in every room
And work is play–believe me
Nothing must come too hard
It comes in the mail
Maybe our leaders should find a more representative, and morally balanced, set of leaders for the future.]
Really, get out if you are a citizen, or an American communication provider, that actually respects American citizen’s rights. These trivialities the American ethos was founded on are “no longer operative” in the minds of the surveillance officers who claim to live to protect us.
Do not even think about trying to protect your private communications with something so anti-American as privacy enabling encryption like Lavabit which only weakly, at best, even deigned to supply.
Any encryption that is capable of protecting an American citizen’s private communication (or even participating in the TOR network) is essentially inherently criminal and cause for potentially being designated a “selector“, if not target, of any number of searches, whether domestically controlled by the one sided ex-parte FISA Court, or hidden under Executive Order 12333, or done under foreign collection status and deemed “incidental”. Lavabit’s Ladar Levinson knows.
Which brings us to where we are today. Let Josh Gerstein set the stage:
A former e-mail provider for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, Lavabit LLC, filed a legal brief Thursday detailing the firm’s offers to provide information about what appear to have been Snowden’s communications as part of a last-ditch offer that prosecutors rejected as inadequate.
The disagreement detailed in a brief filed Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit resulted in Lavabit turning over its encryption keys to the federal government and then shutting down the firm’s secure e-mail service altogether after viewing it as unacceptably tainted by the FBI’s possession of the keys.
I have a different take on the key language from Lavabit’s argument in their appellate brief though, here is mine:
First, the government is bereft of any statutory authority to command the production of Lavabit’s private keys. The Pen Register Statute requires only that a company provide the government with technical assistance in the installation of a pen- trap device; providing encryption keys does not aid in the device’s installation at all, but rather in its use. Moreover, providing private keys is not “unobtrusive,” as the statute requires, and results in interference with Lavabit’s services, which the statute forbids. Nor does the Stored Communications Act authorize the government to seize a company’s private keys. It permits seizure of the contents of an electronic communication (which private keys are not), or information pertaining to a subscriber (which private keys are also, by definition, not). And at any rate it does not authorize the government to impose undue burdens on the innocent target business, which the government’s course of conduct here surely did.
Second, the Fourth Amendment independently prohibited what the government did here. The Fourth Amendment requires a warrant to be founded on probable cause that a search will uncover fruits, instrumentalities, or evidence of a crime. But Lavabit’s private keys are none of those things: they are lawful to possess and use, they were known only to Lavabit and never used by the company to commit a crime, and they do not prove that any crime occurred. In addition, the government’s proposal to examine the correspondence of all of Lavabit’s customers as it searched for information about its target was both beyond the scope of the probable cause it demonstrated and inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement, and it completely undermines Lavabit’s lawful business model. General rummaging through all of an innocent business’ communications with all of its customers is at the very core of what the Fourth Amendment prohibits.
The legal niceties of Lavabit’s arguments are thus:
The Pen Register Statute does not come close. An anodyne mandate to provide information needed merely for the “unobtrusive installation” of a device will not do. If there is any doubt, this Court should construe the statute in light of the serious constitutional concerns discussed below, to give effect to the “principle of constitutional avoidance” that requires this Court to avoid constructions of statutes that raise colorable constitutional difficulties. Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. City of Alexandria, 608 F.3d 150, 156–57 (4th Cir. 2010).
And, later in the pleading:
By those lights, this is a very easy case. Lavabit’s private keys are not connected with criminal activity in the slightest—the government has never accused Lavabit of being a co-conspirator, for example. The target of the government’s investigation never had access to those private keys. Nor did anyone, in fact, other than Lavabit. Given that Lavabit is not suspected or accused of any crime, it is quite impossible for information known only to Lavabit to be evidence that a crime has occurred. The government will not introduce Lavabit’s private keys in its case against its target, and it will not use Lavabit’s private keys to impeach its target at trial. Lavabit’s private keys are not the fruit of any crime, and no one has ever used them to commit any crime. Under those circumstances, absent any connection between the private keys and a crime, the “conclusion necessary to the issuance of the warrant” was totally absent. Zurcher, 436 U.S., at 557 n.6 (quoting, with approval, Comment, 28 U. Chi. L. Rev. 664, 687 (1961)).
What this boils down to is, essentially, the government thinks the keys to Lavabit’s encryption for their customers belong not just to Lavabit, and their respective customers, but to the United States government itself.
Your private information cannot be private in the face of the United States Government. Not just Edward Snowden, but anybody, and everybody, is theirs if they want it. That is the definition of bullshit.
Whole lotta nothing going on in the nation’s capitol. Guess that is not exactly news, but, still, it seems extra fubar currently. Ah well, what to do? Rock and roll baybee. And trash talk, of course. Seriously, as I look up at my TeeVee right this instant, Ralph Reed is on CNN blowing some perverted shit out of his ass. Really, Ralph Freaking Reed. It is just stupid out there. On MSNBC, Alec Baldwin looks like he is sitting in a Chicago steak/chop house yammering with some twit I don’t immediately recognize. Oh, wait, it is Bill de Blasio, the soon to be chameleon new mayor of New York. Is he a Weatherman anarchist from the 60s or a neo-liberal from the present?? Who knows? Who cares? He will be far better than Mayor Bloombito, so teh New Yarkers are gonna have that going for them. Let’s play games.
Gotta start with the pros this week. Lot to talk about, but first off I would like to not that right now, the ‘Ole Geezer, Mr. Brett Favre, could play quarterback this Sunday better than what service the Bucs, Jags, Vikings and Giants at a minimum. And, arguably, maybe the Raiders, Bills, Cardinals and Steelers too. He is rested. And he is ready. And he is way more fun than the others. Bring back the FavRuh.
In case my lead has not exactly engrossed and hooked you, I guess we can talk about actual games. If we must. Okay. Here we go….I must admit I am strangely perplexed by weird games lately, as we are still early in the season and the wheat has not yet completely separated from the shaft. Well, except for STRONG ARMED PEYTON MANNING AND THE DONKOS! While Bieber Brady is still looking for his next hairstyle, Happy Faced Peyton is rolling. As long as Peyton keeps a Jockey’s Neck Like Bollocks, he could obliterate very sacred records this year. We shall see.
So, back to the offbeat games of interest. First up is Deetroit trying to shakedown the Brownies in the Dog Pound. Who are teh Kittehs? Hard to tell, but they need Megatron to tell. And he is questionable (though I expect he suits up and plays, like the stud he is). But Cleveland has a sneaky good defense, and there is some momentum in mistake by the lake land. If Brandon Weedon can get the Brownies offense 28 points or more, they well could win. But you have to figure Matt Stafford and Reggie Bush can put up that.
Steelers at Jets, Jets, Jets is another goofy game. Steelers can’t be as bad as they have shown so far, can they? Actually, maybe. And the Jets are a tougher D than some they have faced so far. This is a gut check game; if Big Ben and Stillers have any game at all, they will bring it. They might; but I am not betting on it. Cheese at Ravens is also interesting. League is sleeping on both right now, even though Baltimore is the defending Super Bowl champ and GB is, well still the Pack. Both seem still unsettled and adjusting to huge losses. Ravens lost by retirement and players moving on. Pack has lost by injury mostly except for Greg Jennings, who they let leave. Jennings ain’t the problem, the injuries are. This is a pick em, whoever wants it more will win.
The super rejuvenated Saints, and man have Sean Payton and Rob Ryan turned that gig on a dime, roll into Foxborough to meet the Pats. Later in the year, with a little more gelling, Bill Bel, Major Tom and the Whoevers win this game at home. Not right now though, Saints and Drew Breeeezz got to much jazz. And on Sunday night, we got Skins at the ‘Boys. Will take a heroic effort from RG III to win this; I think Romo will cut the bad edge off of last week’s disappointment.
In the student athalete category, seems like a somewhat quiet week. Guess the biggest interest is whether or not Mack Brown can pull a jackrabbit out of his ass, er hat, and upset Freepatriot’s Boomer Sooners. If not, Mack may get knifed by the time that giant schooner can roll a circle. Game is in Austin though, so there is that. PolitiFact Check rates this: Orange Crushed!
ESPN and some other cackling birds are clucking about Mizzou at the Dawgs in Athens Georgia. Nuh uh. Aaron Murray and the Hounds got WAY too much for the Tigers. Florida at LSU may actually be the best real contest of the day. Gators starting to live a little now that Driskel the water pistol is down for the count. Still, the Tigers in Baton Rouge in a big night game; gotta take the Po Boy home cooking there. Also the ‘Ole Ball coach and the Cocks are going to Sooo-eee-pigeeee land in Ar-kansas. The okies from Muskogee were not cool with those wheat stalks on the Kansas license plates, so they seceded and called if Our Kansas. Or, if Old McDonald spelled it, Arkansas. Or something. Am tempted to take Brett Bielema and the Hogs here. Just because. But I can’t, South Carolina is just a better team. Fighting Journalists may have a tough time in Camp Randall Stadium with teh Badgers. Would be brutal to lose two in a row after such promise, but Wisconsin is a decent team and is at home.
This weekend is the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Which used to be a penultimate and deciding race in the Circus schedule, but no longer. And no drama at this point, it is another Vettel and Red Bull year. Hard to be excited, I am, however, excited about next year and the new car specifications.
Also, baseball. Sadly, the Pirates got keelhauled by the Cardinals in the deciding game 5 of the Divisional Series and are out. Hopefully the Dodgers claim the Bum status of old and win the NL. As to the AL, hard to pick between the Tigers and Boston. Both great teams, both a lot of fun and interesting. But gonna be a Detroit Breakdown, so……Go Sawx!!
That is it folks. Shut it down baybee!
Something funny happened in the Eastern District of North Carolina today. Out of the blue in an extremely significant case, and without particular notice to interested observers, much less the public, the criminal case against former Blackwater executives for weapons trafficking, and a myriad of other weapons violations, ended. Poof! Gone with an undeserved and inexplicable sweetheart misdemeanor plea.
A federal weapons case against the defense contractor formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide ended Thursday with misdemeanor pleas by two former executives, who were fined and placed on probation.
The case stems in part from a raid conducted by federal agents at the company’s Moyock headquarters in 2008 that seized 22 weapons, including 17 AK-47s. An indictment alleged that the company used the Camden County Sheriff’s Office to pose as the purchaser of dozens of automatic weapons.
The indictment also alleged that Blackwater purchased 227 short barrels and installed them on long rifles without registering them and that company officials presented the king of Jordan with five guns as gifts in hopes of landing a lucrative overseas contract and then falsified federal documents once they realized they were unable to account for the weapons.
Gary Jackson and William Matthews, the former president and executive vice president of the company and both Navy Seals, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count each of failure to keep records on firearms. They were sentenced to four months of house arrest, three years on probation and fined $5,000.
The original indictment was fifteen counts, count em 15 counts, most all serious felonies with significant punishment in the offing. Now granted, a few counts were pared off after a motion to dismiss by a court order dated February 4, 2013, but significant and substantive counts remained viable against Blackwater executives Jackson and Matthews.
But, instead of taking them to trial, or even extracting a reasonable plea that did justice for the public, the DOJ collaborated with the defense and walked into court without notice today, filed a new information containing a single misdemeanor charge and proceeded to sentence them on the spot to a hand slap.
Here is how the official DOJ Press Release described it:
United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today GARY JACKSON and WILLIAM WHEELER MATTHEWS, JR. pled guilty before United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan, to one count each of failing to make and maintain records related to firearms in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(m) and 923(g)(1)(A).
Additionally, Judge Flanagan sentenced JACKSON and MATTHEWS to 3 years probation, 4 months house arrest with stipulations, and fined them $5,000.00.
According to the Criminal Information filed on February 14, 2013, JACKSON and MATTHEWS, between 2005 and 2007, were employees of a corporate entity formerly known as Blackwater which was a licensed federal firearms manufacturer and dealer, and whose responsibilities for a certain period of time included direct or indirect supervisory authority over employees whose duties included the making and maintenance of records required by federal law. (Emphasis added)
Oh yeah, there was one other mention of note in the release:
The corporate entity formerly known as Blackwater has entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the government in which it has agreed to extensive ongoing compliance programs and the payment of approximately 7 million dollars in fines.
How nice. The Deferred Prosecution Agreement was actually entered into and noticed back in August of last year. It was easy to see the DPA coming, and as much as the US Government relies on Blackwater/Xe/Academi for their security adventures, it was predictable they would be given a DPA (and, hey, DPAs provide lucrative paydays to former DOJ friends who get set up in cushy monitor jobs).
The DPA was easy to see coming, today’s sweetheart plea was not. No, it happened basically as a covert op on the public and interested legal community. Did you notice the bolded date in the DOJ press release? DOJ states the plea was entered on February 14, 2013. What is interesting is that it was not placed on the official court docket until today – at the same time Judge Louise Flanagan, a conservative Bush appointee, was accepting the plea and sentencing Jackson and Matthews, thus ending the case. All designed so the public would not know and could not have any input. Diametrically contrary to the fundamental precepts of the American justice system.
How little of a wrist slap is the sentence? I’ve had common DWI clients sentenced to more. Compare and contrast to the punishment the DOJ sought to impose on Aaron Swartz.
The sentence is now done and entered, but what about the process? It was a stunning affront to justice and the public right to know. I have complained relentlessly about the collusion between the DOJ and another Bush era criminal, former Office of Special counsel Chief Scott Bloch. But at least in Bloch there was minimal notice given to the public and we knew what was coming, in spite of inexplicable collusion between the DOJ and the criminal defendant. Not so in the case of these Blackwater executives, Jackson, Matthews, et al.
Even in Bloch, in spite of complete collusion on the part of the DOJ, the court set sentencing for nearly three months after the entry of the plea. Not so with Judge Flanagan and the Blackwater boys. How unusual is it that a Federal court sentences criminal defendants immediately in high profile important cases with important implications like this? VERY UNUSUAL.
In fact it is simply stunning, all the more so considering that the parties and the court hid the fact the plea was entered from the public and the court docket system in the period between the entrance of plea on February 14 and the plea acceptance and immediate sentencing today.
To give you an idea of how out of the ordinary such a sentencing on the spot is, there are directly applicable provisions in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that must be specifically obviated on the record to even attempt it. Rule 32(c) provides:
(c) Presentence Investigation.
(1) Required Investigation.
(A) In General. The probation officer must conduct a presentence investigation and submit a report to the court before it imposes sentence unless:
(i) 18 U.S.C. §3593 (c) or another statute requires otherwise; or
(ii) the court finds that the information in the record enables it to meaningfully exercise its sentencing authority under 18 U.S.C. §3553, and the court explains its finding on the record.
(B) Restitution. If the law permits restitution, the probation officer must conduct an investigation and submit a report that contains sufficient information for the court to order restitution.
18 USC 3593 concerns death penalty cases, so the ONLY way Jackson and Matthews could have been sentenced today is for the court to have made a specific finding, based upon information on and in the record, and then stated the specific reasons for the decision, and evidence supporting it, all on the record.
Did Judge Flanagan do that? Well, we do not know because there is no sentencing minute entry on the docket as there normally is. It just isn’t there. What’s more, we cannot know if there was a stipulation to hide the plea entry and immediate sentencing plans in the plea agreement (docket number 364), because the plea agreement is SEALED.
All ability of the public to know this was coming, and to discern what really happened, has been secreted from the public. Secret justice (or, more properly, injustice).
How and why did all this occur? Undoubtedly because of the highly classified and incestuous relationship between Blackwater and the US Government, and the resulting ability of Blackwater to literally blackmail and extort concessions through graymail threats (See here for a short history of graymail).
So, through secrecy, classification, graymail and direct collusion with the DOJ, Blackwater, and its executive henchmen, win and the American public lose yet again. I have been practicing criminal law for 25 years and I am absolutely offended by what occurred in Judge Louise Flanagan’s courtroom today. Both she and the Obama Department of Justice should be made to answer for it.
[UPDATE: It appears the plea agreement itself is not completely sealed, it is just kept “unavailable” from the public docket. Upon information and belief, it can be viewed if you personally go to the clerk’s office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and ask to see it. The other items described in the post as missing from the docket entirely remain so missing.]
The event we have all been waiting for is here in time for the Christmas Holidays! Yes, it is the long awaited news on the DOJ “prosecution” of the former Office of Special Counsel head under the Bush/Cheney regime, Scott Bloch.
As you may recall, when we last heard tangible news on the Blochhead front, it was June 20 of this year when his release restrictions were voided. The court voided Bloch’s release conditions because the DOJ had inexplicably left the case hanging in limbo after the previous guilty plea had been set aside, thus allowing Bloch to withdraw from it, all the way back in August of 2011.
So, between August 2, 2011 and December 21, 2012, a period of nearly a year and a half’s time, the DOJ has done nothing whatsoever in furtherance of prosecuting Scott Bloch. Until today. And the vaunted Department of Justice has, on the Friday before the Christmas holiday…..filed a Motion to Dismiss. However, that is not the end of the story, as clause 5 of the Motion to Dismiss contains this language:
Concurrent with this Motion to Dismiss, the government is filing a new information.
Well, not quite concurrent, as the Motion to Dismiss was filed mid to late morning, and the new information was just now made public. The new charge, a misdemeanor, is pursuant to 18 USC 1361 Depredation of Government Property or Contracts. The factual basis is made out from the “seven level wiping” Bloch caused to be done. Here is the new information just filed.
Well, at least that is what the information is SUPPOSED to charge. That is the crime noted in the caption, and clearly the crime contemplated by the framing, but in the key statute recitation paragraph, the controlling body of the document mistakenly charges 18 USC 1362 instead. A year and a half the DOJ has had to conjure up this smoking pile of whitewashing garbage, and they still Continue reading
America, indeed the nation, is in a financial and legal moribund lurch. No longer, if there ever was, is there taxpayer money and ethics left on balance to be wasted on entrenched politicians sucking at our tit. You say your’s is the worst? Well, then you do not live in Maricopa County Arizona, the home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
It is time for Sheriff Joe to go. ADIOS ARPAIO! There is a fiscal, legal and moral case to do so.
My friend Tim Murphy, of Mother Jones, laid out the “bizarre” freak show nature of Arpaio’s current reelection campaign in superb detail. But only part of the story was told, understandable as there is SO much to tell in the Arpaio saga. Here is the rest of, or at least some of the rest of, the story.
Joe Arpaio did not magically come to be Sheriff of Maricopa County. It happened because the two previous occupants of the Sheriff’s Office were, shall we say, problematic on their own. There was Dick Godbehere, who was, prior to being Sheriff of the fourth largest county in the United States, literally a lawn mower repairman. No, I kid you not. And he served with the same level of sophistication you would expect of a lawn mower repairman.
Then came Tom Agnos, who was supposed to return “professionalism” to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). But Agnos was a subservient Sun City resident who led the MCSO into not just the biggest cock-up in Maricopa county law enforcement history, but one of national and international proportion. The Buddhist Temple Murder Case where nine buddhist monks and acolytes were lined up and shot in the back of the head, execution style, at the Wat Promkunaram Buddhist Temple on the west side of Phoenix.
It was out of the Buddhist Temple Murders Joe Arpaio came to be. A group of prominent Phoenix trial attorneys, both criminal and civil, wanted an alternative to Tom Agnos and the whitewashing coverup he was conducting on one of the greatest coerced false confession cases in world history. The group of trial lawyers coalesced around the upstart primary candidacy of a local travel agent with a colorful background. Yep, one Joseph Arpaio.
Joseph Arpaio promised that initial group of trial lawyers he would clean up the MCSO, release the damning internal report of the gross misconduct that had occurred in the Temple Murder Case under Tom Agnos, which lead to at least four false and heinously coerced confessions, and that he would refuse, under all circumstances, to serve more than one term in office. It was a promise made and, obviously, a promise long ago broken.
To be fair, Arpaio did release the internal report on the Temple Murder Case, which led to five plus million dollar settlement for some of the most wrongfully arrested souls in American history. But with that promise kept within a short time of taking office, Joe Arpaio breached the solid promise he made to the people who gave him the seed funding carrying him into office. And Arpaio has made a mockery of his word, as a man, ever since by repeatedly running for office and sinking Maricopa County into depths of depravity and fiscal distress beyond comprehension, from the vantage of the MCSO.
Arpaio’s false pretenses to get elected have turned into the fodder of liability for the county he was supposedly elected to serve and protect.
How deep has Arpaio’s liability effected the taxpayers, and residents, of Maricopa County? To the tune of at least $50 Million dollars. AT LEAST. Because that figure not only does not count the costs of defense, and they are usually astronomical in the larger cases against Arpaio, because he never admits responsibility, but also does not consider Maricopa County is self insured and may not, necessarily, publicly disclose all smaller payouts. There may, or may not, be a lot more payout, or a lot more, we just don’t know.
So, what is the ledger to date? Here it is is in all its sick glory. $50 Million dollars of unnecessary payout, all because of a man, who promised, and who was initially sponsored, and brought to election, by a group who wanted change and the diametric opposite of what came to be.
Here is the worse part: the $50 Million figure is, by all appearances, devoid of the real and hard actual costs of defending all the action on which payout was made in that spreadsheet. Hard costs are known in the legal world as attorney fees, court costs, expert witness fees, service costs, evidentiary laboratory fees – in short, fees that can add up to millions in, and among, themselves, irrespective of the underlying root liability payouts. In short, the $50 Million you see in the ledger is but a fraction of the real cost of Joe Arpaio’s criminally and civilly negligent insolence as Sheriff of Maricopa County. Nor does the figure, of course, include the losses that already should have come from the Deborah Braillard case, much less the Matty Atensio case.
Who is Matthew Atensio represented by? That would be by one prime example of tort liability counterbalance to egregious wrongdoing, Michael Manning. Who is Michael Manning? Well, Manning is the grinning man in the photograph above, with the somewhat soullessly dumbfounded Joe Arpaio at a charity fundraiser. Manning has a right to grin at the sight of the “Toughest Sheriff In America”, because Michael Manning, alone, has taken the greatest portion of the nearly $50 Million (and very much increasingly counting) toll on the taxpayers of Maricopa County, the narcissistic propaganda obsessed figurine Joe Arpaio has cost. And Manning and fellow Phoenix attorney Joel B. Robbins, have laid the wood to Sheriff Joe, and the worst is yet to com in the form of the Atensio litigation and other compelling cases (not to mention Braillard which should have settled and, now, instead awaits a larger jury verdict on already determined damages).
You think the moral and tort liability train fueled and paid by the taxpayers and citizens of Maricopa County has sailed into the sunset? Oh no. There are mountains of liability and taxpayer’s coffer’s payouts on the horizon. The only question is if the residents and voters of Maricopa County will wake up and end the madness now, or whether they will give yet another term of office to the Most Liable and Wasteful Sheriff In American History”.
The dedicated folks at “Adios Arpaio” have done yeoman’s work in identifying, registering, and encouraging tens of thousands, if not more of, not just latino, but voters of all colors and stripes, to vote in this election. A heroic effort.
But where does that leave the citizens of Maricopa County? Arguably still short against the self promoting dynamo that is Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It is a living monument to the benign destruction caused by hyped belligerence, ignorance and apathy in a designated and restricted electorate. Joseph Arpaio came into office as the the promised one term agent of well meaning, and will leave, to the shame of Maricopa County as perhaps the most disgraceful official ever elected in the county. The only question is, whether that is now or four years from now.
Will morality and justice be delayed? By the real signs on the ground in Arizona, as opposed to national hype, probably no. It will, nevertheless, be an everlasting blemish on the character of the electorate of Maricopa County. It wasn’t as if you, and actually we, didn’t know.
The better question is what becomes of the righteous Adios Arpaio movement? Honestly, if this level of awareness and action had been brought here in relation, early on, to the Scott Norberg deaths at the Maricopa County Jail facilities run by Joe Arpaio, perhaps soooo much more death, destruction and liability could have been avoided. Not to detract from anything, everything, existing now, that did not then, in the way of putting a stop to Arpaio, is it enough? No, likely the current effort, much less this post, is not.
But, then, let it not be said there was not effort and argument made between then and now. There is a man, Arpaio, who should be removed from office and, if the electorate’s voice is willing to suffer exactly that, a remedy for the corpse of Matty Atensio, who died for Jesus’s sins, but so far, apparently, not Arpaio’s sins. Like an imperious “Wall Street Bankster”.
Where is the bullshit in Maricopa County going to end? Will the truth of the civil, criminal and moral liability of “The Toughest Sheriff in Town” be exposed? Only the voters of Arizona, who are not half as stupid as generally portrayed, will decide.
I sincerely hope intelligence and discretion win out over appearance and material duplicity. But, then again, such would not seem to be the characteristic of the modern Arizona electorate. It is a screwed up place in a screwed up time.
But, if the Leader of the Free World, Barack Obama,much less Joe Biden, cannot even be bothered to haul at least one of their self serving ass here to Arizona, when the election and morals are on the line, in a state in the process of turning from Red to Blue under the absentee watch, then why exactly should lifelong Democrats here give a flying fuck about the national ticket? Seriously, tell me why?
So, there is no national action, to even respectably mention, in Arizona. Arizona has been left to fend for itself as being useless and worthless by a craven two party system of two hollow jackasses but, even more significantly, by a national press system of court jester reporters, stenographers, and thin skinned puppet stringed mopes who cannot tell the difference between themselves and the common political flaming jackasses they cover. There is a national press who shouts “Semper Fi” while selling out everything they were trained and hired to do. I know several will read this, the question is who among them will adopt it, who will ignore it, and who will whine like pathetic thin skinned poseurs? Boo yah bitches, I am waiting. Show us your colors; if you cannot now in the heat of battle, then when? Answer up.
Which leaves us where we entered, with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is a blight upon Maricopa County. Unelect him. Adios Arpaio.
There are further vignettes to be painted regarding Arpaio. Here are a couple of particularly poignant ones. Arpaio And Thomas: The Most Unethical Sheriff And Prosecutor In America Conspire To Abuse Power And Obstruct Justice oh, and not to mention the seminal “House Judiciary Cuffs Joe Arpaio, The Most Abusive Sheriff In America“. Read and know both if you want to know Sheriff Joe.
Unelect this guy!