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Our analyst graduated from one of the top law schools in the country, and we have relied on his expertise in a number of posts over the years. He says it's highly unlikely Judge actually will answer certain key questions from the FBI, and that could have a negative impact on Kavanaugh's nomination -- at least in the court of public opinion. Here is our expert, in his own words, from an email written last Friday:
For more than a week now, people have been asking why the Senate Judiciary Committee's majority members and Trump did not want this F.B.I. "follow up" investigation.
And, for more than a week, I've been saying there's at least one VERY SIMPLE REASON why they did not want an F.B.I. investigation. And, it's the same reason the majority members refused to issue a Senate subpoena ordering Mark Judge to appear yesterday to give testimony.
It's as simple as the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Here's what's going to happen and here's my tip. I'm 99.99 percent CERTAIN that as the F.B.I. is at this very moment preparing to visit Mark Judge and to interview him, Mark Judge is going to refuse to answer any questions. Mark Judge will take the Fifth, no question about it.
If that happens, how will it look for Kavanaugh? Very bad, says our expert:
That optic alone will pretty much implode Judge Kavanaugh's chance to ascend to the Supreme Court. Dr. Ford provides compelling and highly credible testimony to the SJC yesterday, and then, when the F.B.I. interviews Judge, he takes the Fifth. In other words, Kavanaugh's good friend Mark Judge, who was allegedly in that bedroom with Ford and Kavanaugh is going to invoke his right to remain silent in order NOT to incriminate himself. WOW. It's already looking bad for Mark Judge for the F.B.I. to get involved, and this F.B.I. investigation has hardly started.
Here's something else. In most jurisdictions, there are certain crimes that have no statute of limitations. Murder, of course, is the most common crime that has no statute of limitations. However, several states have other serious crimes to which there is no statute of limitations. In many states, there is no statute of limitations for rape or attempted rape. It's my understanding the sexual assault Dr. Ford alleges Brett Kavanaugh committed against her has NO statute of limitations in Maryland.
We also know that if a 17-year-old black boy in Maryland had pushed 15-year-old Christine Ford into a bedroom and threw her on a bed and jumped on top of her and tried to remove her clothes, that black boy would have been thrown in prison for a very long time. So this allegation of sexual assault by Dr. Ford against Brett Kavanaugh is still very serious today, even if it happened 36 years ago.
In short, Judge has to think about his own criminal liability -- and about what others are likely to tell the FBI regarding his actions during that 1980s time period:
Furthermore, Mark Judge will also invoke the 5th to avoid self-incrimination in light of his former girlfriend reporting that Judge once admitted to her that he and high school friends had sex with one or more girls when they were drunk or had been drugged. . . .
My point. We have a lot of people out there who think very simply. HOWEVER, it's those same simple-minded people who are going to be troubled as soon as it's reported that Kavanaugh's good friend, and the other boy alleged to have been in that room with Ford and Kavanaugh, refuses to speak and has exercised his right not to incriminate himself. That's something that simple people believe is indicative of wrongdoing and criminality and attempting to hide and conceal the truth.
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said this afternoon, with regard to Kavanaugh, that the truth has a "funny" way of eventually coming out. And he spoke with notable assurance that ultimately, the truth is going to catch up to Kavanaugh.
Our expert already has a pretty good track record of predicting twists and turns in the Kavanaugh hearing:
Still, I have watched all this drama pretty well and have made some accurate predictions that have come true. During the lunch break yesterday, I predicted to my wife that in the SJC's afternoon session, Senator Lindsey Graham would reclaim his 5 minutes and kick the woman questioner to the curb and launch a tirade and, boy, did I call that one accurately. I think it's virtually impossible that Mark Judge will do anything other than invoke his right not to say anything that might incriminate himself. Then, it's just simpletons who will have to think about birds that flock together. And, Brett Kavanaugh is hoping that most simpletons will never know what the urban slang phrase "Devil's Triangle" really means. (It actually means a threesome that involves two males and one female).
What about those steps Judge already has taken indicating he's thinking along Fifth Amendment lines? We will examine that in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)
The St. Louis Cardinals' season ended yesterday with a thud, the Redbirds missing the National League playoffs for the third year in a row. I'm pretty much a lifelong Cardinals fan, so that stings. But there is a bright side to all of this, thanks to "Rally Cat," the feral kitten who was living in the cracks and crevices of downtown St. Louis until he wandered into Busch Stadium one evening in 2017 and scampered across the playing surface in the midst of a Cardinals game against the Kansas City Royals. "Rally Cat" captured the hearts of Cardinals fans everywhere, and we now know he went on to find a good home.
St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina, likely a future Hall of Famer, played a central role in the "Rally Cat" drama. Molina was at bat when he spotted something strange scooting across the outfield. Molina pointed his bat at the object, and the game came to a halt as television cameras focused on what broadcasters first through was a squirrel. Here's how a recent report at ksdk.com describes what happened next:
For those who don't remember, the saga of Rally Cat began on August 9, 2017, during a game against the Kansas City Royals at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals down, one run with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, were interrupted one pitch into Yadier Molina's at-bat by a feral cat darting across the outfield.
There were smiles, there were laughs and there were bite marks, but a grounds crew member successfully swiped the kitten into his arms and into safety. Just one pitch later, Molina blasted a grand slam into the left-field stands.
Thus, Rally Cat blossomed from just a cat to a next-level idol.
Yes, the tiny kitten, after taking a few bites out of the grounds-crew member who made the mistake of running while carrying him off the field, seemed to spark a Cardinals' rally. Hence, the name "Rally Cat." Here's more from ksdk.com:
Despite some initial adoption confusion, the St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach took him into their arms for a peaceful retirement from the big stage. Thursday, the outreach provided an update into the life of Rally Cat, saying he was having the time of his life with both his human and kitty friends — even if he is still shy around strangers.
The fine folks at St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach tweeted an update about perhaps the most famous kitty they have ever rescued:
Rally Cat update: RC is enjoying his retirement with his human sibling and kitty best friends.
He is still a little shy around strangers, but he's blossomed into a total lap cat with his family.
The video below shows "Rally Cat" in action on the surface of Busch Stadium. And, as you can tell from the photo above, he has turned into a mighty handsome feller -- with a cozy place to call home.
The transcript, which is embedded at the end of this post, is from an interview SJC staff members conducted with Kavanaugh on Sept. 26. Kavanaugh apparently had an unnamed attorney present on his end of the line during the interview.
Questions about the allegations of Julie Swetnick begin the interview. On page 10 of the transcript, a staff member pivots to an anonymous letter, where a woman says Kavanaugh and an unnamed friend gave her a ride home from a party -- with her in the passenger seat, Kavanaugh driving, and the friend in the back seat.
Kavanaugh interrupts the interview to state that he does not believe he has seen the letter. A staff member says the 2 1/2-page, handwritten letter was received at the office of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a member of the SJC, who forwarded it to the chairman and ranking member for "due diligence." A staff member reads the letter into the record during the interview:
Dear, Senator Grassley, et al.
The current situation regarding the accusations made by Dr. Ford against Brett Kavanaugh have prompted me to write you today. I have moved on with my life since he forced himself on me as well. The times were so different, and I didn't expect to be taken seriously, embarrass my family, be believed at all.
I was at a party with a friend. I had been drinking. She left with another boy, leaving me to find my own way home. Kavanaugh and a friend offered me a ride home. I don't know the other boy's name. I was in his car to go home. His friend was behind me in the backseat. Kavanaugh kissed me forcefully. I told him I only wanted a ride home. Kavanaugh continued to grope me over my clothes, forcing his kisses on me and putting his hand under my sweater. 'No,' I yelled at him.
The boy in the backseat reached around, putting his hand over my mouth and holding my arm to keep me in the car. I screamed into his hand. Kavanaugh continued his forcing himself on me. He pulled up my sweater and bra exposing my breasts, and reached into my panties, inserting his fingers into my vagina. My screams were silenced by the boy in the backseat covering my mouth and groping me as well.
Kavanaugh slapped me and told me to be quiet and forced me to perform oral sex on him. He climaxed in my mouth. They forced me to go into the backseat and took turns raping me several times each. They dropped me off two blocks from my home. 'No one will believe if you tell. Be a good girl,' he told me.
Watching what has happened to Anita Hill and Dr. Ford has me petrified to come forward in person or even provide my name. A group of white men, powerful senators who won't believe me, will come after me. Like Dr. Ford, I'm a teacher, I have an education, a family, a child, a home. I have credibility. Just because something happens a long time ago, because a rape victim doesn't want to personally come forward, does not mean something can't be true.
When Kavanaugh is asked for a response to the letter, he replies:
Nothing -- the whole thing is ridiculous. Nothing ever -- anything like that, nothing. I mean, that's -- the whole thing is just a crock, farce, wrong, didn't happen, not anything close.
As this post is written, about 9 p.m. CDT on 10/1/18, The Daily Wire (TDW) appears to be one of only two news sites to publish a story about the transcript. The other is the Palmer Report, which provides a straightforward account.
The Daily Wire is a conservative news and opinion site, founded in 2015 by Ben Shapiro, and its treatment of the Kavanaugh-transcript hardly is a model of journalistic fairness. From the TDW report, by Amanda Prestigiacomo:
On Sunday evening, the Senate Judiciary Committee released the transcript of a telephone interview with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh given by Senate Democrats on Wednesday, the night before the hearing. The interview included questions regarding a highly dubious, nonspecific, anonymous accusation of rape received by the office of Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). . . .
By bringing up the totally baseless and ambiguous accusation, the Democrats ensured that it would be on record to add to the cloud over the judge.
Andrew Kreig published a link to the transcript yesterday at The Justice-Integrity Project, plus a link to the Palmer Report article, and that is where we found it.
Where is this story headed? That's hard to say. Is the letter legitimate? Is the woman's story for real? Will the FBI look into it? Will the woman come forward?
This much seems clear: If the answer to the above questions is yes, Brett Kavanaugh might be in more trouble than anyone ever imagined.
|Jason and DianaKander|
Kander, a Democrat, was widely considered a front-runner in the mayoral campaign, but he posted a message to his campaign Web site and Facebook page saying he had experienced suicidal thoughts and was withdrawing from the race. Reports The Kansas City Star:
Kander posted a message on his campaign website and Facebook page saying that in the 11 years since leaving Afghanistan as an Army intelligence officer, he has experienced depression, nightmares and suicidal thoughts. He said he needed to abandon the mayoral race, in which he was seen as a front-runner to win the 2019 contest, to focus on his mental health.
“Instead of dealing with these issues, I’ve always tried to find a way around them,” Kander said. “Most recently, I thought that if I could come home and work for the city I love so much as its mayor, I could finally solve my problems. I thought if I focused exclusively on service to my neighbors in my hometown, that I could fill the hole inside of me. But it’s just getting worse.”
Quite a few political observers immediately questioned whether mental-health issues related to military service were the real reason for Kander's withdrawal. We have reported on Kander's apparent connections to fund-raising fraud and campaign violations, dating at least to his failed U.S. Senate race against GOP incumbent Roy Blunt. They include a scheme to buy Diana Kander (Jason's wife) a spot on The New York Times Bestseller List.
A number of commenters at the Tony's Kansas City blog said they believed Kander's dubious fund-raising tactics were about to catch up to him, in the form of a criminal investigation. (Comments are embedded at the end of this post.) Count our own legal-affairs analyst -- we call him Ozark Mountain Lawyer (OML) -- among the skeptics. States OML:
So today [Kander] announced he's calling it quits and withdrawing from the KC mayoral race. He claims he ended up at a veteran's facility and that he was suicidal.
Yeah, right. He's probably received word that a grand jury in KC may be investigating all of the crimes he and his wife and accomplices have committed over the past several years.
Of course, there's going to be a lot of speculation as to the real reason(s) Kander withdrew. This is especially so, since the KC Star had already published a story, boldly saying that Kander was a shoo-in to be elected mayor.
I think it's again incredibly deceptive for Kander to claim he suffered all kinds of psychic injuries while in the military. As the Kander Memo showed, for almost all of Kander's time in the military reserves, he was state-side doing duty every other weekend. The fact is, Kander was on active duty only for six months total; he spent three of those months in Florida at a military base there, and then only three months total in Afghanistan, as an office clerk for some top brass, safely ensconced in a highly-secure office compound. How much so-called "intelligence" work can you do in only three months? Because Kander was only in Afghanistan for three months, he barely had time to fully unpack his suitcase before he had to repack to go home.
There's a real reason why Kander withdrew from the KC mayoral race, but it's not the reason Kander is telling reporters now.
Kander has been seen as a political up-and-comer, not only in Missouri, but on the national stage. Reports The Kansas City Star:
Kander’s service in the military has been part of his political profile. After one term as Missouri secretary of state, Kander ran in 2016 for U.S. Senate as the Democratic nominee against Republican incumbent Roy Blunt. Kander’s campaign famously featured a television advertisement in which he assembles a military rifle blindfolded.
Kander narrowly lost his contest against Blunt in a year when most Democrats in statewide races were pummeled and Donald Trump carried Missouri by 19 points over Hillary Clinton. Kander’s performance, coupled with an effervescent personality, made him a leading progressive personality on cable television news shows.
Kander was frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for Missouri governor, Congress or even for the White House. That’s part of what made his decision to run for mayor all the more surprising.
The word is "confidentially," and it largely has been ignored in news reports about claims from Judge and his attorney that he will openly answer questions from FBI investigators. At least three news outlets have reported on Judge's use of the "C word" (see The Hill, CNBC, and USA Today), but we are not aware of any that have spelled out what it likely means.
The FBI interviewed Judge on Tuesday, according to a report at The New York Times. Was Judge forthcoming? We've seen no reports on that issue. From The Times:
The bureau appears to be moving quickly; on Tuesday, investigators wrapped up an interview with a crucial witness, Mark Judge, a friend and high school drinking buddy of Judge Kavanaugh who has been identified as the only witness to the alleged sexual assault of Dr. Blasey. Mr. Judge’s name came up frequently last week when the judge and Dr. Blasey testified before the Judiciary Committee.
We do have this quote from Judge's attorney, Barbara Van Gelder, from a piece at The Hill:
“Mr. Judge completed his FBI interview,” Barbara Van Gelder, Judge’s attorney, told The Hill in an email. “We are not commenting on the questions the FBI asked Mr. Judge.”
Before the interview took place, Van Gelder told USA Today: "Mr. Judge will answer any and all questions the FBI wants to ask him." But that's not what Judge himself said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here are his words, per The Hill:
I will cooperate with any law enforcement agency that is assigned to confidentially investigate these allegations.
Was Judge expecting to have a confidential encounter with the FBI? Our expert -- we call him Ozark Mountain Lawyer (OML) -- wrote a Sept. 28 email to Legal Schnauzer, saying Judge's use of the "C Word" is both glaring and bizarre. And it suggests Judge will invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself:
Mark Judge claims that he will cooperate with the F.B.I.'s investigation so long as the investigation can be done "confidentially." See? Mark Judge is already setting this up to refuse to answer questions. Whoever heard of an ordinary citizen saying that he or she will cooperate and answer questions posed by the F.B.I. so long as the F.B.I. promises the interview will be treated confidentially? Is Mark Judge out of his mind? Or does he think he is an entitled white guy who can demand conditions from the F.B.I.? Plus, it's an absurd condition, because the F.B.I. submits all of its reports to the Senate and other government agencies and, ultimately, those records will be subject to review by the public under the United States Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA).
Also, if you have a woman who has alleged that two men pushed her into a bedroom and sexually assaulted her, whoever heard of the right or the chutzpah of one of those suspects saying to the F.B.I., "Yeah, I'll talk with you and cooperate, as long as you promise that my cooperation will be treated 'confidentially.'"Do these privileged and affluent white boys, who grew up in the D.C. North Land of Maryland, think that they're members of some sort of privileged rich white boys' club? This is absolutely nutty for Mark Judge to even make the suggestion that he will cooperate if the F.B.I. assures him that his statements will be treated confidentially?
So, what is ahead? OML says Judge appears to be creating false headlines that suggest he plans to cooperate with the FBI, when he actually has no intention of doing so:
Mark Judge is saying he will cooperate with the F.B.I. but then adds the proviso that he will require that his cooperation be treated confidentially. He is fencing with the F.B.I. Not real smart. I think he's playing with fire here too, because it's like he's spoofing Christine Blasey Ford for her initial request that her information be treated confidentially. Victims have some good reasons to want confidentiality, but the alleged criminal perpetrator has no reasonable right to expect any confidentiality from law enforcement, unless, apparently, you're a rich and affluent white male from north D.C. land.
Bottom line is that Mark Judge and his tribe are creating this highly misleading headline on the Web that Mark Judge will cooperate with the F.B.I., which I predict, will be a sham impression as we move forward, when Mark Judge starts waffling and saying that he's not going to talk to the F.B.I. unless they promise it will be treated confidentially, which is a promise and condition the F.B.I. will not make or give to him.
For right now, I'm assuming that Mark Judge and his crowd are only creating a headline to make it appear that Mark Judge has nothing to hide, when he will go on to blame the F.B.I. for not giving him confidentiality, thus in his pretense warranting his decision not to speak at all. It's all a tactical set up for Mark Judge not to talk.
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FBI director Christopher Wray has professional ties to Russia, and that likely explains a Brett Kavanaugh background check that widely is being described as a "sham," according to an Alabama political insider.
Donald Trump nominated Wray to lead the FBI in June 2017, having fired James Comey roughly one month earlier. In 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Wray to lead the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Before going into public service, Wray was a partner at King and Spalding, an Atlanta-based law firm with 10 offices around the country -- plus 10 international branches, including one in Moscow.
King and Spalding's extensive ties to Russia should raise eyebrows about the cursory supplemental background check of Brett Kavanaugh by Christopher Wray's FBI, says Jill Simpson -- whistle blower, opposition researcher, and retired lawyer from Rainsville, Alabama. In a Facebook post yesterday, Simpson notes King and Spalding's ties to a number of dubious characters and activities related to Russia.
They include Sergei Millian, a one-time Russian translator who has headed the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce (Russia Am Cham, based in Atlanta) and reportedly was a primary source of information for the Trump-Steele dossier. In short, Millian likely has loads of blackmail-worthy dirt on Trump, and guess what law firm has represented Russia Am Cham? It's King and Spalding, of course, says Simpson.
The firm also has ties to Trump-affiliated mobster Felix Sater, and Simpson says the firm (via Russia Am Cham) was involved in a failed lottery deal -- involving oily Alabama lawyer Rob Riley and his associate, Robert Sigler -- that fleeced the late Milton McGregor, attorney Tommy Gallion, and other prominent Montgomery business types out of about $40 million. King and Spalding, says Simpson, has ties to Russian oligarch/mafia figure Oleg Derispaska, one-time Trump campaign chair and convicted felon Paul Manafort, and Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions.
|Christopher Wray and Donald Trump|
FBI director Christopher Wray should be forced to resign over [the Kavanaugh supplemental background check]. It was Wray's firm, King and Spalding, that used to host the Russia Am Cham conferences for Oleg Deripaska, Mr Millian, and Mr. Sater -- the Riley/Sessions Gang attended when they beat Milton McGregor and his buddies out of $40 million for a fake Russian lottery.
Wray's firm represents the Russian Oil and Gas Business firm that Vladimir Putin directs. Also, Christopher Wray was a Yale Law School graduate, just like Kavanaugh, and has been buddies with the Kavanaugh, Rove, and Sessions crowd for years.
The FBI's Kavanaugh background check is just a report done by a member of the Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump Russian Mafia. I tried to say last week it would be bullshit, due to Wray's ties to the Russian Mafia. His old firm is a big part of Putin's legal team. Until we as a country crush the New York/Alabama/GOP Russian Mafia, we are going to continue seeing this level of corruption.
How sketchy was the FBI supplemental background check on Kavanaugh? It probably would have to improve to merit being called "cursory". According to one report, FBI agents interviewed nine individuals -- but they apparently did not include chief accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, nor any of her corroborating witnesses. From a report at New York magazine:
Several people who reached out to investigators to offer information said they were also left hanging. NBC News says dozens of potential witnesses have come forward to FBI field offices, “but agents have not been permitted to talk to many of them.” The New Yorker spoke to several people who were also unable to get an audience with the FBI despite their ability to corroborate [Deborah] Ramirez’s story and information refuting claims Kavanaugh made during last week’s testimony.
|Russian drilling platform in the Arctic|
Is Brett Kvanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court because Russian-mafia interests have infiltrated the highest levels of U.S. government? The answer is yes, says Alabama political insider Jill Simpson, and other voices back her up. Were machinations in the Kavanaugh confirmation driven largely by a GOP desire to remove sanctions that have put a hold on a $500-billion Arctic drilling project that Vladimir Putin desperately wants? Simpson -- who has deep knowledge of modern-era relations between Alabama and Russian political figures -- says the answer is yes, and significant evidence backs her up.
Those two factors, combined, paint a grim picture of democracy's future in the United States -- especially if somnolent American voters do not wake up, starting with the November mid-term elections. Even then, the infiltration is so serious -- and its threats to the Mueller investigation so significant -- that it might be too late.
The clearest sign of Russian-mob influence came with the FBI's cursory supplemental background check on Kavanaugh -- given that bureau director Christopher Wray has major ties to Russia, via his affiliation with Atlanta-based law firm, King and Spalding. Simpson spelled that out for us in a post on Friday A June 2017 USA Today article, just after Donald Trump had nominated Wray to replace the fired James Comey, adds layers of specifics. From USA Today:
The most troubling issue that Wray may face is the fact that his law firm — King and Spalding — represents Rosneft and Gazprom, two of Russia’s largest state-controlled oil companies.
Rosneft was prominently mentioned in the now infamous 35-page dossier prepared by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele. The dossier claims that the CEO of Rosneft, Igor Sechin, offered candidate Donald Trump, through Trump’s campaign adviser Carter Page, a 19% stake in the company in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia. The dossier claims that the offer was made in July while Page was in Moscow.
Rosneft is also the company that had a $500 billion oil drilling joint-venture with Exxon in 2012, when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was Exxon’s CEO. However, the deal was nixed by President Obama in 2014, when he imposed the sanctions that crippled Russia’s ability to do business with U.S. companies. The lifting of sanctions by the Trump administration would enable Exxon to renew its joint venture agreement with Rosneft, and the law firm of King and Spalding could end up in the middle of the contract negotiations between those two companies.
There you have references to both the $500-billion drilling deal and King and Spalding's likely presence in the midst of contract negotiations. How much in legal fees have the Obama-era sanctions cost King and Spalding? Is it in the tens (maybe) hundreds of millions of dollars? Is FBI director Christopher Wray, a former King and Spalding partner, keenly aware of that -- driving him to direct a sham FBI background check that would ensure Kavanaugh's placement on the U.S. Supreme Court, as a sure vote to support anything that would lift sanctions. How many individuals -- perhaps including Wray, GOP U.S. Senators, White House officials, and Kavanaugh himself -- have been promised loads of cold Arctic cash to make the drilling deal go through. If that scenario, in fact, is playing out, it speaks to massive international criminality.
Here is more from USA Today about Wray, King and Spalding, and energy-related conflicts in Russia:
The law firm’s representation of Gazprom raises even more serious conflict issues for Wray. Gazprom was a partner in RosUkrEnergo AG (“RUE”), which is controlled by Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash. He is under federal indictment in Chicago for racketeering charges, has had numerous financial dealings with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and is generally considered to be a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
Though there is no indication that Wray personally worked on any of the Rosneft or Gazprom legal matters handled by his law firm, he might well have an ethical and legal conflict of interest that would prevent him from any involvement in the FBI’s Russian probe. When a law firm such as King and Spalding represents clients, then all of the partners in that law firm have an actual or potential conflict of interest, preventing them from undertaking any representation of any other client that has interests clearly adverse to those of these two Russian companies. These conflict rules continue to apply even after a lawyer leaves the law firm, so Wray could be ethically barred from involving himself in a federal investigation that includes within its scope a probe of Rosneft, Gazprom and affiliated companies. The public appearance of conflict of interest and impropriety might require him to recuse himself from the investigation.
If Wray was confirmed as the FBI director, and then had to recuse himself with regard to some or all of the Russia-related aspects of the critical investigation being conducted by the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller, the potential damage to the investigation could be significant. If Wray refused to recuse himself from the Russia-Trump investigation — or at least acknowledge the potential conflict issue, a serious cloud could be cast over the FBI’s level of commitment to the investigation.
As for the Arctic- drilling deal, Simpson says it is the "Billion Dollar Baby" bouncing around behind the scenes of the Kavanaugh contretemps. We first wrote about Big Oil's plans for Arctic drilling in July 2010, and followed with a July 2018 post, focused on the likely interest of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) in pushing the Russia deal through. From a Simpson Facebook post:
FBI Director Christopher Wray does not have me fooled, and he should not have any women fooled on what he is up to with the Kavanaugh appointment. His approval of Kavanaugh is all about a Russian Oil Company drilling in the Arctic. We have already gotten rid of his buddy, Rex Tillerson, over the Exxon deal, and now it is Wray's time. Christopher's law firm, Atlanta's King and Spalding, represents Putin's two biggest oil and gas companies, which are Roseneft and Gazprom. They (the Roseneft bunch) had a deal to do the work on the Arctic Drilling with Putin and, well folks, Christopher is in the FBI chair to put that deal through for the Russian government. It is a $500-billion deal, but we are watching the situation closely at the Alabama Resistance.
Putting Kavanaugh on the court is hugely important, as he will be their spy and Ratfcker on the Supreme Court to push through the oil drilling Arctic deal. So pay attention closely as this GOP Mafia Gang wants to put the world at risk drilling in the Arctic.
They need Kavanaugh on the bench to do so. Trump is their side show to distract us from what is truly at play. These men work for Vladimir Putin on his $500 billion Arctic deal. The FBI director's firm represents the Russian government.
Here's more from a second Simpson Fasebook post:
Have you ever wondered why the FBI is not going out and arresting all these folks involved with Russian election theft in 2016? Well the former law firm of FBI director Mr Wray firm represents Putin and his gas and oil companies, which are the biggest businesses he owns and controls in Russia. Essentially, our FBI has been infiltrated at the top levels by Putin's No. 1 law firm in the United States. In fact, the FBI director's firm (King and Spalding, of Atlanta) put together the biggest deal Putin's bunch had ever attempted -- the $500-billion Arctic drilling deal with Exxon, which was stopped when President Obama put sanctions on them for the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
They thought getting Trump elected would lift the sanctions, but the Alabama Resistance released the info that stopped them in January 2017. They are, however, still putting players into position, like Kavanaugh and Wray, to try to put the deal through. You all will notice these guys come from Yale, the same school Bush went to.
This deal with Putin is being conducted through the Exxon bunch. So we must watch them closely. I am going to tell you these Good Ole boys want that $500-billion Arctic deal, and we must say no. This is why the GOP is so lined up with Putin.
|Clint Toedtmann and Jenna Harmison|
So perhaps it's only fitting that an individual with a legitimate criminal record -- a serious offense, for which he pled guilty -- is about the join the judge's family. You could call it karma.
Clinton J. Toedtmann is set to marry Jenna Harmison (the judge's daughter) on Oct. 13 (Saturday) in Ozark, MO. That will give Judge Harmison a second son-in-law. We soon will be reporting on some curious machinations regarding his other son-in-law, attorney Eric Ryan Olson, and that clearly had an impact on the bogus guilty verdict Harmison issued against Carol -- in a case where SHE was charged with misdemeanor "assault of a law enforcement officer," even though the cops broke HER arm. Let's get serious: Who assaulted who here?
The answer is obvious, and Carol intends to pursue criminal charges against thug-cops and prosecutors under federal civil-rights law (42 U.S.C 242 -- deprivation of rights under color of law). Defendants likely will include Harmison son-in-law No. 1, Eric Ryan Olson. (More on him in upcoming posts.)
|Clint Toedtmann mugshot|
Toedtmann pled guilty on April 5, 2017 and was sentenced on May 31, 2017. Here is the docket entry for his sentencing:
Sentencing Hearing Held
STATE BY APA DODD. DEFT WITH ATTY RUSSELL. JUDGMENT: SIS FOR 2 YRS CASP 3 PROBATION ON BOTH CTS -80 HRS CASP W/I 6 MONTHS, DEFT TO SERVE 48 HRS IN GCJ BEGINNING 6/2/17 AT 8:00 PM UNTIL 6/4/17 AT 8:00 PM. DEFT DTO FILE SATOP COMPLETION W/I 2 WKS PLUS COSTS INCLUDING CVCF and 160 LER. DEFT TO CONSUME NO ALCOHOL DURING PERIOD OF PROBATION. STAY TO 6/29/17. JUDGE IMHOF/JFC COPY OF COMMITMENT LETTER TO GCJ. /JFC
Here are the key points we take from this:
(1) Toedtmann received a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS), with two years of probation;
(2) Toedtmann was sentenced to 80 hours of community service via the Missouri CASP program;
(3) Toedtmann was sentenced to 48 hours in the Greene County Jail -- from 8 p.m. on 6/2/17 to 8 p.m. on 6/4/17;
(4) Toedtmann is not to consume alcohol during his probationary period, which is ongoing and apparently is supervised.
That last item might put some restrictions on any reception planned for the Harmison-Toedtmann wedding.
(To be continued)
|U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY)|
Is Brett Kavanaugh safely ensconced on the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), where he can conduct dirty work to support Donald Trump and the lifting of sanctions against Russia that would allow a $500 Arctic oil-drilling project to move forward? Not necessarily.
The whole Kavanaugh house of cards could crumble under any number of scenarios. If Democrats win one or both houses of Congress in the November midterms, that could spell major trouble for the newest member of SCOTUS, including possible impeachment. Any cooperation former Trump attorney Michael Cohen provides to the Robert Mueller investigation could lay bare the role of Russian-mafia interests in pushing for Kavanaugh on the court. And there is always the possibility Kavanaugh could face criminal indictment related to allegations raised against him during the confirmation process -- including possible charges for rape, sexual assault, kidnapping, and perjury.
If voters make the GOP pay at the polls in November for the Kavanaugh mess, two words -- "Jerry Nadler" -- could become prominent on the political scene. Reporter Matthew Miller explains in a piece at Politico:
First, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, could make clear that, should he become a subpoena-wielding chairman in January, he will aggressively investigate the FBI’s conduct in the Kavanaugh investigation. Notifying the FBI and DOJ that he will subpoena documents, demand interviews with officials at every level, and ultimately hold a hearing will have a dramatic impact on an agency that rightly worries about its public standing—and where key officials worry about their personal reputations—after several years of GOP attacks.
This comes under the heading of "political hardball," a sport where Democrats tend to consistently lose to Republicans. But Nadler has promised a Kavanaugh investigation if his party gains control of the House. Also, The Washington Post explains how Kavanaugh could be impeached:
“Much of Washington has spent the week focusing on whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court,” Lisa Graves wrote in a Slate column on Sept. 7, more than a week before the New Yorker published the then-anonymous sexual assault claims of Christine Blasey Ford. “After the revelations of his confirmation hearings, the better question is whether he should be impeached from the federal judiciary. I do not raise that question lightly, but I am certain it must be raised.”
Graves wrote that Kavanaugh had misled the Judiciary Committee about the stolen documents that Graves had written as chief counsel for nominations for Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) when he was the chairman of the committee.
Kavanaugh, she wrote, “lied. Under oath. And he did so repeatedly.”
Therefore, she concluded, “he should not be confirmed. In fact, by his own standard, he should clearly be impeached.”
Michael Cohen could provide another arrow in the Democrats' quiver. From a January 2018 report by Kevin G. Hall at McClatchy:
The mysterious Russian businessman who went by the name Sergei Millian claimed last year to have long helped Donald Trump pursue Russian investors, a claim the president’s team flatly denied.
The claim is again under scrutiny with the sudden release late Thursday of closed-door congressional testimony.
A Washington intelligence consultant whose reports are at the center of probes into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign told lawmakers that Millian organized a trip for Trump representatives to promote the billionaire’s vodka brand in Russia.
The testimony of Glenn Simpson drew a sharp denial from Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, and only added to the shroud of mystery hanging over Millian, who was a visible figure early in the investigations into Trump’s ties with Russia but since had disappeared from view.
Since that report, Cohen's office and homes have been raided, he has pleaded guilty to making hush payments to women who claimed to have extramarital affairs with Trump, and Cohen has indicated he will cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Muller. The McClatchy report, noting Millian's ties to the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce (based in Atlanta), indicates Cohen's cooperation could prove fruitful for the Mueller team:
Simpson, according to the 165-page transcript, alleged that Millian came to the United States under his real name of Siarhei Kukuts. After becoming Sergei Millian, he helped run a group with little Internet footprint called the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce. Millian has said on resumes that he is from Belarus and from Russia, Simpson said. . . .
Cohen acknowledged last year that he and another Trump associate, Russian émigré Felix Sater, had pursued a Moscow hotel deal for the Trump Organization during the presidential campaign. In an email to Cohen made public last year, Sater boasted, “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.”
Asked anew about Millian on Thursday night, Cohen steadfastly denied any connection.
“I have never met Mr. Milian (sic). He e-mailed me several times with various issues,” Cohen said in an email response to McClatchy, adding that by November 2016 he’d “demanded (Millian) cease contacting me.”
Perhaps Cohen's seized documents -- and prompting from Mueller investigators -- will help refresh his memory.
As for possible criminal indictments against Kavanaugh, readers might be surprised to see kidnapping on the list. That generally is seen as a crime where bad guys abduct someone, take them to a remote location, and demand a ransom. But the offense has a broader definition than that in many states, including Maryland, and it seems to apply to Dr. Christine Blasey Flord's description of Kavanaugh's attack on her. An attorney, writing at Daily Kos,wonders why kidnapping and related offenses have taken a backseat to "sexual assault" in the Kavanaugh discussion:
I realize there is no statute of limitation on felony sexual assault in Maryland. I assume there may be statutes of limitation on “false imprisonment” and “kidnapping.” I am NOT suggesting Kavanaugh be charged with these crimes, but I don’t understand why the terms “False Imprisonment” and “Kidnapping” are not mentioned as well as “sexual assault”.
I have never done criminal work (I was a civil litigator for twenty years, including three and a half years as a Trial Attorney with the Department of Justice’s Civil Division in the seventies). Yesterday, as I was reviewing the allegations of the Blasey Ford accusation, it struck me — wait a minute — isn’t that false imprisonment and/or kidnapping???
Kavanaugh allegedly grabbed her in the hall as she was on the way to the bathroom and pushed her into another room, where he then locked the door, turned up the music and covered her mouth. (Mark Judge may have helped with some of those actions).
Once in the room, he assaulted her, with Judge looking on and egging him on, including directing him while giggling maniacally. When Judge joined them by jumping on Kavanaugh’s back (wonder what he had in his mind???? I don’t want to go there), she escaped by “unlocking” the door and going out into the hall and escaped.
To me, it appears that Kavanaugh (and Judge’s actions) provide the elements of the crime and or tort of False imprisonment. The issue with kidnapping is a little less clear, because it varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In common law it generally included an aspect of sending the person somewhere else, but I also remember issues where just moving the person from where they are to somewhere else against their will could be kidnapping.. . .
Again, I’m not suggesting legal charges on these two crimes and torts be brought against Kavanaugh and Judge, but I am suggesting that the discussion needs to include a discussion of these two additional aspects of the attack. Adding the totality of the charges that could have been brought underscores the severity of Kavanaugh's actions.
Our research indicates there is no statute of limitations on kidnapping in Maryland. It also indicates that Dr. Ford's description of events points to kidnapping under Maryland law. From our legal-affairs analyst, a University of Virginia law graduate we call "Ozark Mountain Lawyer":
Here's quick law in Maryland on kidnapping.
Nutshell: kidnapping in Maryland is considered as false imprisonment with any movement or concealing of the victim.
Dr. Ford testified she walked upstairs and used the restroom and then as she was trying to go back downstairs to the living room, she was pushed from behind and forcefully moved into a BEDROOM and then forcefully moved to lay down on a bed and then was jumped on by Kavanaugh (more physical restraint) and the Kavanaugh also allegedly tried to CONCEAL the kidnapped victim by having closed and locked the bedroom door and turning up the music and Kavanaugh putting his hand over her mouth to conceal their having taken control of the victim and hiding her in the room to have their way with her. This is clearly KIDNAPPING and criminal assault and felony attempted rape. See Johnson v. State, 439 A.2d 542 (Md.App. 1982), at pp. 432-33. See other Maryland kidnapping decisions cited on page 433.
Can you imagine a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice being criminally charged with sexual assault and kidnapping (not to mention perjury and rape.)? It could be right around the corner -- unless, of course, Russians help steal the 2018 election, too.
|Clint Toedtmann mugshot|
The future son-in-law of Missouri judge Jerry Harmison had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of almost twice the legal limit when he was charged with DUI in February 2016.
Clinton J. Toedtmann, who is set to marry Jenna Harmison on Oct. 13 in Ozark, Missouri, pled guilty in May 2017 and will be in the midst of a two-year probation when he steps to the altar on Saturday.
Perhaps that is a touch of karma for Judge Harmison, who found my wife, Carol, guilty of "assault of a law enforcement officer"in a case where there was no probable cause to support charges, much less a prosecution, and the "victim" admitted he initiated contact with Carol, meaning she could not be guilty. On top of that, Harmison ignored post-trial motions that showed he was, by law, disqualified from hearing the case due to a conflict involving his other son-in-law -- attorney and former prosecutor Eric Ryan Olson (more on that coming soon); that cop-witnesses presented rampant inconsistent statements under oath, and at least one clearly committed perjury; that all evidence was due to be suppressed because of an unlawful eviction that violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Judge Harmison will at least have the peace that comes with welcoming a son-in-law who has a criminal record because of a crime (a serious offense, by most any standard) he actually committed. Meanwhile, the crooked Harmison -- an appointee of disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens -- has left Carol with a criminal record for an offense even his own judgment shows she did not commit. In fact, Harmison is so crooked and incompetent that his judgment does not even say what offense Carol supposedly committed. That should make us all feel confident in the judiciary.
|Clint Toedtmann and Jenna Harmison|
On 02-25-2016, I was on patrol driving east on Walnut from Grant. I observed a black Chevrolet Cruz disobey a stop sign at Main and College then failed to signal at Campbell and Elm. I stopped the vehicle at South and Elm and contacted the driver who was identified as Clinton Toedtmann.
While speaking with Toedtmann, I could smell an odor of intoxicants in the vehicle. Toedtmann exited the vehicle to take the Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). Prior to the tests, Toedtmann advised me that he had drink (sic) two to three beers. I observed Toedtmann's eyes and they appeared to be watery and bloodshot.
Public records indicate Toedtmann spent 48 hours in jail, and he wound up with the mugshot above as a keepsake.
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In the wake of Brett Kavanaugh's partisan rant before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a number of legal observers have expressed concerns about his ability to hear cases in an impartial manner.Based on our experience with federal courts, which goes back about 10 years, they should not worry. U.S. federal courts are infested with judges who make no attempt to rule with impartiality -- with quite a few making no attempt to even appear impartial. That means Kavanaugh should be an appropriate fit on the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS).
Kavanaugh will sit near the top of a system that was crooked long before he became a household name, and his presence isn't likely to make it any more crooked than it already was.
Perhaps the most corrupt federal judge we've encountered is Virginia Emerson Hopkins, from the Northern District of Alabama -- and to top it off, she has the judicial temperament of a wolverine. She makes Brett Kavanaugh look like Fred Rogers.
In fact, while the Kavanaugh fracas was playing out, we received an order from Hopkins in our "Jail Case" that is a model for crookedness on the postmodern federal bench. Given that Hopkins has consistently ruled contrary to black-letter law -- always against us -- it's the latest sign that Hopkins would not know impartiality if it bit her in the ass. (Hopkins already has issued wildly unlawful rulings in the case on the statute of limitations and state immunity issues.)
Again, why worry about Brett Kavanaugh on SCOTUS if district judges -- the ones closest to the public, the ones who actually conduct trials, the ones most likely to cheat and act like scoundrels -- get away with churning out smelly orders that have nothing to do with the facts and law of a particular case.
Hopkins' order, dated Sept. 28, 2018, involves our status as in forma pauperis (IFP) litigants, which means we are entitled to proceed by paying a partial filing fee or no fee at all. Multiple courts already have found that we meet the standards for IFP status -- including the court in this very case, the "Jail Case."
But that's not enough to satisfy Hopkins. She claims our financial data with the court was filed roughly two years ago, and thus, is out of date. She fails to mention that the financial data is old because her colleague, R. David Proctor (the original judge in the case), ruled that we had IFP status, but we were not entitled to have the court issue summonses and conduct service on defendants -- despite clear federal statutes that hold to the contrary. That forced us to appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, which found Proctor was so wrong that even they had to reverse -- after letting the case sit for about a year.
Any staleness that has accumulated on the case is due to R. David Proctor, who is so corrupt that -- get this -- he recused from our "House Case" after admitting he had a conflict, but that only occurred to him after he had cheated us over and over, prompting us to file recusal motions, even though it is his duty to step down when he knows he has a conflict.
How can Brett Kavanaugh make this dumpster fire any worse?
Consider this from Hopkins' order (embedded at the end of this post), where she responds to our Notice of Appeal and Motion for Leave to Proceed on Appeal In Forma Pauperis (also embedded at the end of this post):
In their motion, the Plaintiffs note that "upon filing of an affidavit [the Plaintiffs] received approval from the district court to proceed IFP in the instant matter." [citations omitted]. The affidavit to which the Plaintiffs refer was filed in their initial Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, which was filed on March 26, 2016, at the time this case was initially filed. . . . The Order to which they refer only granted them partial IFP status. . . . The Court also notes that another IFP motion to prosecute an appeal was filed on September 6, 2016. . . . Although that motion was denied by the previous judge assigned to this case . . . , the Eleventh Circuit ultimately granted the Plaintiffs leave to appeal IFP.
We learn three key points from this:
(1) Hopkins admits we already have been approved for IFP status in this very case, the "Jail Case."
(2) The Eleventh Circuit reversed Proctor on his "partial IFP" finding and his denial of our previous motion to proceed on appeal IFP;
(3) In short, Proctor's cheat job was so blatant that even the Eleventh Circuit couldn't stomach it -- and that is remarkable.
As for Hopkins, she and her buddy have been spanked on their respective asses for failing to follow the law -- and her answer to that is to continue violating the law. Consider this from her order:
The most recent of these two motions, and the affidavit associated therewith, contains information that is more than two years old, and therefore out of date. Accordingly, the Plaintiffs are DIRECTED to file a current affidavit, in the form attached to this Order, within 14 days. The failure to provide the affidavit will result in the motion being denied.
Is any of this in line with the law? Not one word of it. Did Hopkins bother to check the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (FRAP) before going off on a mild version of a Kavanaugh-like rant? Obviously, she did not.
If she had, she likely would have encountered Rule 24 on page 79 of FRAP as found at the Eleventh Circuit's Web site. Under Item No. 3 ("Prior Approval"), the rule states in imminently clear language:
A party who was permitted to proceed in forma pauperis in the district-court action, or who was determined to be financially unable to obtain an adequate defense in a criminal case, may proceed on appeal in forma pauperis without further authorization, unless:
(A) the district court—before or after the notice of appeal is filed—certifies that the appeal is not taken in good faith or finds that the party is not otherwise entitled to proceed in forma pauperis and states in writing its reasons for the certification or finding; or
(B) a statute provides otherwise.
The law could not be more clear: A party who already has been permitted to proceed IFP in the district court -- and Hopkins admits we have been -- does not need further authorization to proceed IFP on appeal. The rule notes two possible exceptions, but Hopkins cites neither one in her order. The rule says nothing about a party being forced to file a new affidavit because trial-court incompetence has caused the data to be "out of date."
|Virginia Emerson Hopkins|
But the key point is this: We've caught Hopkins making up law, something she's done throughout our case -- and her bogus rulings always go against us. So Brett Kavanaugh's ascendance to SCOTUS is not going to introduce partial, unfair judges to the system; it's already choking on them.
Does that mean we should just shrug our shoulders and accept crooked judges? Heck, no. We probably will file a new affidavit just to see if that satiates Hopkins, but we also will file a Motion to Strike her order as unlawful.
Our court system is like a house that's being eaten by termites. You might not be able to see the damage yet, but it soon will collapse to its foundation. That requires the legal equivalent of the Orkin Man, to spray and kill the pests in the midst of their dirty work. We're talking about a real FBI investigation -- the kind that was not done in the Kavanaugh confirmation.
In the Northern District of Alabama alone, I can point to at least a half dozen judges (not counting the dead William M. Acker Jr.) who have repeatedly violated federal laws and should be in prison. I have little doubt that other districts around the country are also filled with scofflaws.
As it is, our tax dollars are being used to support a court system that is controlled by what amounts to organized crime. How long are we -- regardless of political ideology -- going to stand for that?
An Atlanta law firm is preparing a lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and it is expected to hit the dockets in 2019, according to a report at banbalch.com. The complaint is expected to center on Birmingham attorney Burt Newsome and efforts by Birmingham's Balch Bingham law firm to essentially steal his lucrative collections practice and ruin his law business.
The RICO case also has the potential to unearth all kinds of misconduct that has gone uncovered (so far) in the North Birmingham Superfund scandal, which featured Balch Bingham in the center ring, with numerous political behemoths revolving in various orbits above.
Does anyone believe Balch partner Joel Gilbert, Drummond Co. VP David Roberson, and former state lawmaker Oliver Robinson were the only criminal actors in that scam? Was Jay Town, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, more interested in protecting certain political heavy hitters -- yes, you Richard Shelby, Jeff Sessions, Luther Strange, and Jabo Waggoner -- than achieving full and comprehensive justice?
The Newsome RICO case, with Buddy Parker of Atlanta's Maloy Jenkins Parker firm reportedly at the controls, could answer those questions and many more. Meanwhile, a lawsuit involving Newsome is dragging through state courts in what banbalch.com has described as "a corrupt and unconstitutional Star Chamber," presided by Judge Carole Smitherman. For good measure, banbalch.comhas documented about $30,000 in donations that have gone to Judge Smitherman and her husband, State Sen. Rodger Smitherman -- from Balch-affiliated individuals or entities. Hmmm . . .
Somebody must be nervous about all of this because the Newsome family has been the target of what appears to be an orchestrated terror campaign, the kind of thing you would expect from those associated with organized crime. The RICO statute, appropriately enough, is designed to combat organized crime -- of which there is no shortage in Alabama.
Who should be nervous about the looming Newsome RICO case? Banbalch.comprovides a fascinating list of possibilities:
A ground-breaking expert on money-laudering, Buddy Parker, Newsome’s RICO attorney, is looking at all the moving parts and intricate details, even the mundane aspects of the case that may have been overlooked, or unknown to observers, including us.
Persons and entities of interest we are learning about (some for the first time):
* Alabama State Representative Jim Hill, an attorney who represents co-conspirator John W. Bullock, and Hill’s ties (as a former judge) to the Alabama Judiciary System.
* John W. Bullock and his business the Pink Variety Store near Pell City, Alabama.
* Diane Bullock, the ex-wife of John Bullock.
* Virginia Voitus, an alleged girlfirend of John Bullock, and former bank teller.
* Alabama Power’s Government Affairs Department and employee Melissa Black.
* Scott, Sullivan, Streetman, and Fox, P.C. the law firm that has remained silent even though associate Robert M. Ronnlund has allegedly engaged in criminal obstruction of justice and alleged alteration of evidence.
* The detectives at the Calera Police Department including one who allegedly verbally disparaged Newsome over the phone. Calera Police was the agency that provided a statement (not sworn nor under oath) calling the pre-paid cell phone number connecting all the co-conspirators “a routing switch.”
* The Alabama Supreme Court and Associate Justice William B. Sellers, a former Balch Bingham partner.
* State Senator Rodger Smitherman and Judge Carole Smitherman who have received over $30,000 in questionable campaign contributions. Judge Smitherman presides over the secret Star Chamber.
* The Columbiana Police Department which pulled over and arrested Newsome in May of 2013. Newsome was pulled over after attending a publicly-known court hearing.
* Verizon and alleged employee Jason Forman.
Behind-the-scenes ugliness already is in play, according to banbalch.com:
We learned what appears to be the most damaging evidence is alleged witness tampering and intimidation by alleged “racketeers” linked to Balch Bingham.
One of the key witnesses to the Newsome Conspiracy Case was allegedly told not to provide testimony or evidence and then was eventually and abruptly fired.
Could the RICO case present a powder keg that is set to blow up in the faces of powerful and corrupt Alabama interests, come 2019? Banbalch.com suggests the answer is yes:
Ironically, every move hidden or unhidden, done inside the secretive Star Chamber or not, we are told only helps Newsome. With 44 retaliatory orders signed by Judge Smitherman, and the cast of dubious characters rejoicing with every questionable filing, antic, motion, and lop-sided “victory” (including the unsolicited responses to the Alabama Supreme Court about Newsome’s Writ of Mandamus), only help solidify the civil RICO case.
Although they may not find a “briefcase full of cash,” the intricate details, alleged money-laundering, and manipulation of the Alabama legal system (including law enforcement) should create a solid civil RICO case that will fundamentally impact not only Balch Bingham, but the entire judiciary system in Alabama.
|Bill Pryor, as a percussionist in his college band|
Shane Rogers-Mauro, a flight attendant who lives in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area, says Pryor sexually harassed him while the two were classmates at Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana Monroe) in the early to mid 1980s. Rogers-Mauro, who is active in Broward County Democratic Party politics, said a number of other classmates have contacted him since Pryor's name surfaced on Trump's list of possible SCOTUS nominees roughly two years ago and said they had similar experiences with the future judge (and attorney general of Alabama). That means we likely will have a string of posts about Bill Pryor's loutish behavior toward men -- Pryor is married with two children and has been ardently anti-LGBT in his public statements -- that might rival Kavanaugh's alleged behavior toward women.
But Legal Schnauzer needs your help. Loyal readers have helped sustain this blog -- even when I was unlawfully thrown in jail for daring to report accurately and aggressively on subjects that ruling elites did not want uncovered. And we invite your support to help continue the battle. My wife, Carol, and I have paid an enormous emotional and financial price for engaging in journalism that portrays modern-day "Big Mules" in a not-so-favorable light. In essence, conservative forces have stolen everything we owned, forcing us to live like refugees in a state (Missouri) where we do not want to be. On top of that, deputies -- at the behest of a crooked landlord and lawyer -- conducted an unlawful eviction, which led to them breaking Carol's arm so severely (a comminuted fracture) that it required trauma surgery and almost six months of physical therapy for repair.
We believe our kind of fearless reporting is essential in helping Alabama (and many other states) become the kind of place where constitutional rights are protected for everyone -- rather than having favors dished out to a select few. If you are able to help us along that journey, please click on the yellow donation button to the right, under the "Support the Schnauzer" headline. If the payment options there do not work for you, please contact us at email@example.com, and we would be glad to make other arrangements.
The notion that federal judges have ugliness in their backgrounds is not a surprise to us. We've seen (and reported on) their crooked rulings from the bench for years, so it only stands to reason that quite a few of them have mistreated others away from the bench.
You might say Pryor is Brett Kavanaugh's alter ego. They share radical right-wing views, they both came out of the Federalist Society, and Pryor -- thanks to his affiliation with former U.S. Senator and Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- appeared on Trump's SCOTUS short list before Kavanaugh did. In fact, Pryor appeared to be the favorite to fill the late Antonin Scalia's seat until our reporting about Pryor's connections to 1990s gay pornography via badpuppy.com made the media rounds across the country. In other words, our journalism already has helped shape the nation's highest court -- you're welcome, Neil Gorsuch -- and we are on the verge of showing that Bill Pryor (like Kavanaugh) does not have the background or judicial temperament to sit on the federal bench.
|Shane Rogers-Mauro, as a trumpeter at|
Northeast Louisiana Universiy
Our Schnauzer nose is pressed to the ground on judicial issues that dominate today's headlines, and the latest on Bill Pryor can be found only at our blog. To continue with such hard-hitting, exclusive reporting, which the mainstream media (MSM) largely will not touch, we need your help.
Readers have played a central role in unearthing stories that often go unreported elsewhere. We stand ready to keep those Schnauzer claws digging. For those who are able to provide financial support, your help is greatly appreciated. It comes at a critical time in our nation's history, as it appears a foreign power has chosen our "president," and federal judges are being exposed as thugs and liars, who have no respect for the rule of law or the rights of others. For more than 11 years, we have been on the front line of efforts to make sure concepts like "rule of law,""due process," and "equal protection" matter in our society.
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|Steve Marshall and Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley,|
the disgraced governor who appointed him.
Alabama Political Reporter (APR) broke the story of Marshall's cozy relationship with 3M and noted that his response had been mostly to feign ignorance and attack reporters who ask pesky questions on the subject.
Records from the Alabama Secretary of State (SOS) show 3M gave Marshall $2,000 on 9/7/2018. The company gave $500 on 4/3/18. 3M is just one of several polluters to dump cash into Marshall's coffers. (Records showing the 3M donations are embedded at the end of this post.)
How could this be criminal? If it involves a "quid pro quo" (something for something) agreement -- such as, "We will contribute to your campaign if you promise not to sue us"-- that would appear to constitute federal funds bribery under 18 U.S.C. 666. That's the same statute under which former Alabama governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy wrongly were convicted and sent to federal prison for roughly six years each.
It's ironic, then, that Marshall's Democratic opponent is Joseph Siegelman, Don's son. When the 3M funds are combined with $735,000 in illegal contributions Marshall took from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA, former employer of Jessica Medeiros Garrison, one-time campaign manager and mistress for former AG Luther Strange), it raises serious questions about the incumbent's fitness for office.
We have no doubt that Joseph Siegelman is the better candidate, and APR publisher Bill Britt seems to leaning in the same direction, with an editorial about Marshall's dubious donations from RAGA. Writes Britt:
RAGA is not registered with the state and commingles its funds with other political action committees, masking the donors contrary to Alabama law. Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton knows Marshall’s contributions were unlawful, so does Secretary of State John Merrill, but no one is willing to act. Even Marshall himself is on the record saying the type of contributions he received from RAGA are illegal and banning such contributions was, “the only legal protection standing between Alabama voters and the reality or appearance of quid pro quo corruption.”
Perhaps the larger question for the Commission and the Alabama Republican Party is should a candidate who willingly takes illegal campaign contributions be allowed to remain on the ballot? . . .
The right remedy in the Marshall situation lies with the Alabama Republican Party, which is responsible for pursuing such violations and taking appropriate action, but the so-called party of law and order has taken a pass on the Marshall fiasco, choosing to remain silent.
Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan and the Executive Committee could end the charade by immediately moving not to certify Marshall’s votes in the upcoming general election. Of course, this would mean conceding the race to Democrat Joe Siegelman. This might not be palatable, but how much more bitter is a win by cheating?
Since the party will not act on the issue, it falls to Ethics Commission Chairman Judge Jerry Fielding who can swiftly move to bring the Marshall matter before the Commission. . . .
It is now time for the commission to act because the people have a right to know if their attorney general is a cheat.
As for 3M, its donations to Marshall are about as smelly as those from RAGA. Writes APR's Josh Moon:
When the attorney general of Minnesota learned of the years of pollution dumped from a 3M plant into his state’s waterways, he filed a lawsuit demanding the company clean up its mess.
A few years later, on the eve of the trial, 3M settled, agreeing to pay $850 million to make Minnesota’s water clean again.
Michigan has followed suit, with its Republican governor asking his attorney general to also file suit against 3M.
At least three other states have also filed lawsuits against the company, with court records documenting decades of pollution and also concerted efforts by 3M and other polluters to mask the dangers of that pollution.
Alabama isn’t one of those states.
Oh, we have the pollution. Testing near a 3M plant in Decatur has shown high levels of pollutants similar to the ones in Minnesota and Michigan, and it has left residents in Lawrence and Morgan counties afraid to drink their tap water.
But Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall isn’t filing a lawsuit.
Instead, he’s busy threatening reporters and pretending like he has no clue about the three-year-long ordeal.
Does Marshall deal with such issues in a forthright manner? Nope, he draws a page from the Donald Trump playbook and blames the press for his own shortcomings. Writes Moon:
Multiple sources have confirmed to APR that a spokesperson in Marshall’s office, communications director Mike Lewis, contacted WHNT-TV station, at Marshall’s direction, to complain about reporter Chelsea Brentzel, who is the station’s lead reporter on the ongoing water issues in north Alabama.
Brentzel’s mistake: Accurate reporting.
With residents clamoring about the water situation, she and WHNT have produced multiple stories, asking for comments from multiple state officials. That included Marshall, whose office continually ignored their requests for comment.
The one time Brentzel was able to corner the AG, back in July, to ask if any legal action was planned, he said the Alabama Department of Environmental Management hadn’t told him to file a lawsuit.
But when Brentzel quoted Marshall’s opponent, Joseph Siegelman, in a recent story saying he would take action if elected and questioning Marshall’s lack of action, suddenly the station couldn’t get the AG’s office off the phone.
Sources familiar with the calls said Lewis, at Marshall’s direction, complained about Brentzel’s recent story, calling it “political.” Because making sure the people of the state can drink their damn water is political now.
And then there was the threat.
Lewis informed the WHNT bosses that the AG’s office planned to freeze out Brentzel and would no longer respond to her requests, according to the sources.
Heck, 3M is just one of several polluters who appear to be playing footsy with Steve Marshall. Consider a few others who have dumped cash on him, per SOS records:
* International Paper PAC-- two donations totaling $5,000
* Koch Industries (Wichita, KS) -- two donations totaling $10,000
* Monsanto (St. Louis, MO) -- one donation of $1,000
* McWane Inc. -- two donations totaling $20,000
* Coalbed Methane Association of Alabama -- four donations totaling $4,000
|Craig Unger and "House of Trump, House of Putin"|
Donald Trump's ties to the Russian mafia -- and his ability to launder money for them via various properties -- goes back at least 35 years, according to the investigative author of a new book.
Craig Unger's House of Trump, House of Putin probably stands with Bob Woodward's Fear as the two most important books so far on Trump's ascendancy to the White House. In an interview with Salon's Chauncey DeVega, Unger says it is astonishing that Trump rose to lead the United States, given his long-term ties to a foreign adversary and his deals with shady money men from Russia. Let's check out highlights from the interview:
Trump businesses as an instrument for money laundering
Chauncey DeVega (CD): Given all that is publicly known about Donald Trump and his suspicious connections to Russia -- never mind his anti-democratic behavior -- on a certain level it is surreal and almost unbelievable that he became president and has not yet been removed from office.
Craig Unger (CU): It is astounding. When John Brennan lost his security clearance the contrast was so stark -- there is no way in the world Donald Trump would have received a security clearance, and he is president of the United States. Donald Trump has had contacts with the Russian mafia for 35 years. His properties have laundered money for them. The Russian mafia are connected to Russian intelligence. They’re living and have been working in Trump's building. Trump has even partnered with them. There are so many ways in which he’s compromised. As you say, I think it’s all on the public record. The Republicans are also implicated. As I explain in my new book, the Russians didn't just go after Donald Trump: They went after the entire Republican Party. There is Russian money going into the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the NRA, and then to Republican officials and candidates directly.
The media and murky money
CD: Why has the American news media been largely unable to effectively explain to the public the threat Trump embodies to the country and the world?
CU: The news media is so fractured and factionalized. Therefore there is no shared national narrative. For example, let’s say MSNBC gets it right at times. But that still leaves hundreds of millions of Americans who are not getting the message. The Trump-Russia story is also complicated but the news cycle is too fast. Plus, it is fragmented by social media. So it’s very hard for people to draw back and see the big picture. The news almost never offers the deep background into how this whole Trump-Russia scandal began.
Putin uses the Russian mafia as a weapon. This is part of the geopolitical conflict. This is many ways goes back to the ending of the Cold War. It wasn’t really over. Most Americans do not understand that fact. Yes, the Soviet Union crumbled but Russia didn’t give up. The KGB sat there and waited. They started various companies. You have at least four billionaires with those connections who ended up partnering with Donald Trump 25 years later.
I think one of the powerful unseen forces here is that at the end of the Soviet Union, you suddenly have trillions of dollars that have to be laundered. It opened the floodgates for the Russian mafia and for the oligarchs. A good way to launder that money is through real estate. Trump made it clear he was ready, willing and able to do that without asking any questions. Trump was $4 billion in debt after his casinos failed in Atlantic City. He came back thanks to the Russians.
The late 1980s, and the rise of Donald Trump's presidential ambitions
CD: Donald Trump's relationship with Russia is not new. When they looked at Donald Trump back in the 1980s what did they see?
CU: First of all, the Russians had a history of looking at influential businessmen. It appears that Russian intelligence also saw him as a presidential candidate. That surprised me. I was here in New York as a reporter in the 1980s, and I didn’t think of Trump as a presidential candidate. When Trump first visited Russia in 1987, he immediately came back and took out full page ads in The New York Times, Boston Globe and Washington Post. These ads were very anti-NATO, anti-Western alliance, and that was exactly what the Russians want. It is so striking that Trump would do that over 30 years ago. It is almost as if Trump had been channeling those ideas and serving the KGB's aims way back in 1988.
Trump, Putin, The Apprentice, and the collapse of the Soviet Union
CD: After the fall of the Soviet Union, Putin takes control. How does he develop a relationship with Donald Trump?
CU: It did not occur in a personal way at first. Everything happens through proxies. They are enormously important. Going back to 1984 -- this was when Putin was still in the KGB -- Trump had started laundering money for the Russian mafia. In ‘92, the Russian mafia had people like Vyacheslav Kirillovich Ivankov, who was one of the key figures under the mob boss Mogilevich. The FBI was looking all over for him but he was actually in Trump Tower. A lot of the Russian mobsters were going to Trump Tower as well, presumably to launder money as well. So you saw this budding relationship. Trump was completely overextended in Atlantic City. He ended up $4 billion in debt. He had no future at all until the Russians came to his aid.
I think a lot of people get the chronology wrong and think Trump came back because of The Apprentice. But The Apprentice didn’t start until 2004. By 2002, a company called Bayrock Group LLC had moved into the 24th floor of Trump Tower. They began partnering with him. They made Trump an offer that he could not refuse. It was a completely different paradigm from his old business relationships. Suddenly Trump started dealing with cash and he couldn’t get bank loans except some from Deutsche Bank. He was so bankrupt that almost no Western bank could loan him a dime.
Trump and the GOP give Putin a much-needed boost
CD: What do the Russians want from Donald Trump? He would not have been given all of those huge sums of money without some expectations, either implied or explicit.
CU: This is why I think you have to look at the geopolitics and the history of the entire operation. If you go back to the Cold War, Americans simply thought we won. The Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union folded. Well, it’s not that simple. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, one Eastern bloc nation after another began tilting towards the West and joining NATO. When Putin came to power, he wanted to fight back, to regain some of that ground. Putin wanted to do battle with the Western alliance. With Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin found one of the few Americans who wants to destroy the Western alliance. He has been quite consistent on this point of view. But somehow he and the rest of the Republicans have taken it to heart and that is the direction they’re moving in as well. It’s been great for Putin and I think that’s exactly what he wanted.
Can Democrats save us from a dangerous and compromised president?
CD: I have described Donald Trump's White House as the "Kremlin on the Potomac." Do you think that is accurate?
CU:It’s so much darker than anything I could imagine. When I grew up, one of the great movies was "The Manchurian Candidate." It was about a conspiracy to install a brainwashed communist as president of the United States. What has happened with Trump rivals "The Manchurian Candidate." It is actually hard to imagine, but this is where the United States and the world are right now. I’ve always been reluctant to use words like "treason" or "fascism" to discuss Donald Trump. But I think we’ve entered a very dark period in American history. We can't turn this around and save the country from Donald Trump and his allies unless the Democrats win Congress in the midterms.
What happens when the Mueller report is released and feces hits the fan?
CD: When Mueller's report is released, what do you think will and should happen? I am concerned that of course Trump's supporters will say it exonerates him, no matter how damning the evidence is. Trump's opposition will see Mueller's report as confirming their worst fears. There will be no closure, only more discord and perhaps even potential violence and large-scale civil unrest.
CU: I won't speculate on the contents of Mueller's final report. But I will say that we need to have a shared national spectacle. Everyone needs to see the same thing. That’s not happening right now. A couple of weeks ago, there was one of these spectacular news days surrounding the Russia investigation, and in all, it was a horrible day for President Trump. I wanted to see how Fox News was covering it. They had an item on whether a giraffe is actually a mutant horse. Huge parts of the country are in the dark. Fox News has been incredibly successful in dumbing down a large part of the American electorate. That is something we’re going to have to change.
A democracy at risk?
CD: How would you explain to the average American why Donald Trump's relationship with Vladimir Putin and other Russian interests is so important?
CU:This goes to the heart of whether or not we’re a democracy. I believe that Vladimir Putin selected and chose the president of the United States to do his bidding. That is an existential crisis for the United States. Americans better wake up, because our democracy is at risk
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The event involves my wife, Carol, and it happened in a public place -- the Social Security Administration Building on West Battlefield in Springfield, Missouri -- at about 10 a.m. on Tuesday. An ambulance was called, and EMTs recommended -- probably based on Carol's extreme disorientation --- that she be taken to the Cox Medical Center South ER.
It's a good thing they made that recommendation -- and we followed it -- because tests revealed a number of potential problems. I'm going to hold off on details because Carol was kept at the hospital overnight for observation, and there still is a lot I don't know.
But this much is clear: Carol broke a bone in her left arm -- the same one that Greene County deputies shattered so severely in September 2015 that it required about eight hours of trauma surgery and roughly six months of physical therapy to repair. Was Carol more susceptible to Tuesday's injury because of police brutality she experienced three years ago? There is no doubt in my mind that the answer is yes.
One preliminary finding yesterday suggested the Alabama bastards who cheated us out of our jobs -- me at UAB, Carol at Infinity Insurance -- contributed greatly to Carol's injury. Like many people, our health insurance was tied to our jobs, and when we were cheated in the workplace -- and the evidence is overwhelming that I lost my job because of coverage at this blog on the Don Siegelman case (a UAB human-resources official inadvertently admitted that to me in a tape-recorded phone call) -- and Carol was cheated out of her job because she was married to me. It probably didn't help her situation that at least one prominent member of Alabama's corrupt Riley machine was on the board of directors where she worked.
|X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm|
from 2015. That injury might have
led to another one yesterday
Yes, you read that correctly: Carol's medical emergency yesterday came five years to the day that Shelby County Sheriff thugs broke into our home, beat me up, doused me with pepper spray, and hauled me to jail over a 100-percent civil matter that did not involve a whiff of a criminal allegation. If you want to grasp how grossly unlawful that is, I encourage you to read a U.S. Supreme Court case called Payton v. New York, and this post we wrote about issues Payton addresses.
My blogging likely will be off schedule for a number of days, with limited opportunities for posts and likely not many chances to moderate comments. I hope to provide updates as information becomes available. This is another example of the fallout that comes when political and legal thugs heap abuse on a couple simply because I've reported accurately on the many ugly and inconvenient truths at the heart of Alabama's court and political systems.
We appreciate any and all healing thoughts you might send our way.
|Carol Tovich Shuler|
The tests included exams of Carol's head, heart, lungs, blood, and more, but no abnormalities were found that could cause her to pass out. Doctors and nurses said high stress levels and improperly treated anxiety and hypothyroidism were the most likely causes of what they call syncope.
One certainty is that Carol has a broken humerus in her left arm, near the shoulder. She has a followup visit scheduled with an orthopedist, and we expect to learn then if her injury will require surgery.
Why have Carol's medical conditions been improperly treated? That goes back to both of us being cheated out of our jobs -- her at Infinity Insurance, me at UAB -- and our health insurance. It also goes to judges unlawfully dismissing our employment discrimination cases in the Northern District of Alabama. Being cheated in the workplace and in court has repercussions, and Carol's fainting spell is a classic example of that.
As for stress, we've already mentioned what Alabama political/legal criminals did to us at Infinity and UAB -- all in retaliation for accurate reporting on this blog, especially about the Don Siegelman case. Consider a few of the other slightly stressful events we've experienced, all of which amount to an attack on the First Amendment and America's free-press protections:
(1) My unlawful arrest and five-month incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama, making me the only U.S. journalist to be jailed since 2006 and likely the only one in American history to be targeted in a 100-percent civil matter, involving a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, which have been unlawful prior restraints under more than 230 years of First Amendment law. This came after unflattering and accurate reports on a number of GOP thugs -- including Karl Rove, Bill Pryor, Rob Riley, Liberty Duke, Luther Strange, and Jessica Medeiros Garrison. None of my posts ever has been found defamatory, as a matter of law, in court.
(2) The theft of our Birmingham home of roughly 25 years, via a wrongful foreclosure.
(3) An unlawful eviction in Springfield, MO, which included Greene County deputies threatening us with assault weapons and assaulting Carol so severely that her left arm was shattered just above the elbow -- a comminuted fracture that required about eight hours of trauma surgery and six months of physical therapy.
|X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm,|
from 2015, courtesy of Missouri cops.
(5) A guilty finding in Carol's case from Judge Jerry Harmison Jr., even though it had no basis in fact or law. Harmison is so incompetent and crooked that his order did not mention the offense Carol supposedly committed -- did not outline the elements of the so-called "crime."
(6) Multiple cheat jobs in federal and state courts on the above-mentioned issues, and more.
(7) All of the above led to mounting financial pressures that have caused us to struggle in recent weeks to keep a roof over our heads.
The good news, for now, is that Carol is home and resting comfortably, and we are working to get her back on a proper medication schedule. We will have other issues to consider in the coming months, but the focus now is on the healing process.
|Accused mail bomber Cesar Sayoc|
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We have been through one of the most horrific news weeks in modern American history, and it all has a Groundhog Day quality here at Legal Schnauzer. That's because many of today's headline-grabbing stories include elements that we have experienced in our battles against courtroom and political corruption over more than 18 years in two states -- Alabama and Missouri.
In a 72-hour period on the domestic landscape, we've had: (1) A mass shooting, targeting Jews and killing 11, at a Pittsburgh synagogue; (2) The arrest of a mail bomber, who sent suspicious packages to individuals and organizations he apparently considered to be enemies of Donald Trump; and (3) The deadly shooting of two black customers at a Kentucky grocery store, after the shooter failed to break into a black church.
All of that does not include the abduction, torture, murder, and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was attacked at the Saudi consulate in Turkey while trying to obtain documents related to his impending marriage. The Khashoggi killing could be labeled an international incident, but he worked for The Washington Post and apparently was targeted for opinions he expressed in that U.S. newspaper.
The trail of trauma probably has many Americans asking, "What's the world coming to?" We don't have a tidy answer to that question, but we do know the alarming trends did not just manifest in the past week or so. We've seen them brewing for years, as we have fought mostly far-right corruption in the Deep South and Midwestern Ozarks. Consider some comparisons:
Attacking the free press
The Khashoggi killing and the mail-bombing campaign, for which a Florida man named Cesar Sayoc is charged, involved attacks on a free press. Khashoggi expressed critical opinions about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and paid for it with his life. Sayoc's targets apparently included the CNN building in New York City.
|Legal Schnauzer has been attacked because of our|
journalism, and I have the mugshot to prove it.
This was five years ago, long before hardly anyone imagined that Donald Trump might wind up in the White House.
Criminality and causation
Cesar Sayoc, the accused mail bomber, has an extensive criminal record, with nine previous arrests. We can identify with that. Our legal travails started when an individual named Mike McGarity moved next door to us, and after proving that he was a bully and a threat-maker who was impervious to reason, we learned he has a criminal record, with at least eight convictions (including sex- and violence-related offenses).
McGarity long has worked at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, and it remains unclear how he slipped through the cracks of a company that, as a federal Medicare contractor, is supposed to conduct extensive background checks on potential employees.
Mental illness and family dysfunction
Gregory Bush, charged with the Kentucky shootings, has a history of mental illness, according to press reports. Mail-bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc was enraged at his mother and driven to support Trump because of that, according to a report at the Daily Beast.
|Scene of Saturday's Pittsburgh synagogue shooting|
Tribalism and democracy
Earlier this month, a research group released a report about growing tribalism in the age of Trump. From The Atlantic's George Packer, in his analysis on the rise of tribal thinking:
We live in a time of tribes. Not of ideologies, parties, groups, or beliefs—these don’t convey the same impregnability of political fortifications, or the yawning chasms between them. American politics today requires a word as primal as “tribe” to get at the blind allegiances and huge passions of partisan affiliation. Tribes demand loyalty, and in return they confer the security of belonging. They’re badges of identity, not of thought. In a way, they make thinking unnecessary, because they do it for you, and may punish you if you try to do it for yourself. To get along without a tribe makes you a fool. To give an inch to the other tribe makes you a sucker.
We noticed this trend in summer 2016 and used two terms, "The New Confederacy and "Conservative Tribalism," to describe it. (Also see here.) Our reports centered on the criminal trial of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, and here is how we described the disturbed mindsets that were on display:
[The Hubbard trial] was about the kind of mindset that has come to hold back many areas of the Deep South, not to mention other states where Southern thinking tends to hold sway. We are thinking of Great Plains or Midwest states, such as Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah.
What is this mindset all about? We have broken it into two parts -- one called "The New Confederacy," and the other called "Conservative Tribalism." Both were on display in the Mike Hubbard trial.
"The New Confederacy" includes individuals who tend to self-identify as "patriots," even though they reject fundamental tenets of the U.S. Constitution. These modern-day confederates tend to especially reject the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection, which became part of America's constitutional landscape after the Civil War.
From 1866 to 1868, Southern states bitterly opposed ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Hubbard trial showed that many Southerners, especially elites, still despise the principles of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Here is more from our 2016 posts:
Conservative Tribalism, to a great extent, is at the heart of the legal difficulties that my wife, Carol, and I have experienced . . . and gave rise to this blog.
What do we mean by tribalism? Here is one of the most useful definitions I've seen:
Tribalism is the state of being organized in, or advocating for, a tribe or tribes. In terms of conformity, tribalism may also refer in popular cultural terms to a way of thinking or behaving in which people are more loyal to their tribe than to their friends, their country, or any other social group.
For our purposes, the key element is this: Members of a tribe are more loyal to that unit than to most anything else, including their country and its laws, constitutions, and governing concepts. In our experience, tribalism has been particularly evident among those who identify as conservative. But I have little doubt that liberal and moderate tribes are out there as well.
How is this for irony? George W. Bush, our most recent "conservative" president, led us into wars in two countries -- Afghanistan and Iraq -- that have been dysfunctional for decades (centuries?) largely because of tribalism. Bush supposedly tried to bring democracy to countries where it had almost no chance to thrive -- because tribalism was likely to keep it from taking root.
Tribalism, in fact, might be the single greatest threat to American democracy, and we will have more on this subject in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)
|Virginia Emerson Hopkins|
Imagine you are involved in a legal case, and you (or your attorney) make a citation to law that you know is correct -- and you know it's a winner. You know this because . . . well, (A) You can read; and (B) It involves legal issues that are present in your case.
You, however, are dealing with a crooked judge so what can he do? You've boxed him into a corner. But he wants to cheat you, and he can't counter with a legal argument because you are right -- and he knows it. So, the judge issues an order that says he "disagrees" with your citation to law -- and that's it. No explanation, no citation to law that shows you are wrong (this isn't an option because there is no such citation). Nothing. Just "I disagree," maybe with a little dig at your status as a commoner who cannot possibly understand the mystical vagaries of the law.
It all reminds me of "We Just Disagree," the 1977 hit from English singer-songwriter Dave Mason, who performed with Traffic, Fleetwood Mac, Steve Winwood, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, and at least two former Beatles.
Who could turn a classic song into an evil courtroom sham? Leave that to U.S. Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins, of the Northern District of Alabama, who is so crooked that she's creepy -- and to my knowledge, I've never seen her. She must squeak when she walks from all the oil and grease dripping off of her.
Hopkins' disagreeable con game came in her order on our Rule 59 Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment in "The Jail Case," which centers on my wrongful arrest (a kidnapping, really) and five-month incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama. (The Rule 59 motion, two amendments to it, and Hopkins' order are embedded at the end of this post.)
Hopkins dismissed our complaint primarily on two grounds: (1) Statute of limitations, claiming we had filed the lawsuit too late; and (2) State immunity, claiming deputies, under the Alabama Constitution, are protected from suit -- even when they intentionally, maliciously, and violently break the law.
In other words, we backed Hopkins into a corner, where she could not counter with a valid citation to law. So, what did she do?
(1) She cited law -- correctly by the way -- that governs Rule 59 motions. From her order (Doc. 168-1, dated 8/27/18):
Rule 59 motions should only be granted on grounds of newly discovered evidence or manifest error of law or fact. Jones v. Thomas, 605 Fed. App'x 813 (11th Cir., 2015).(2) Since our Rule 59 motion and amendments presented 74 pages of examples where Hopkins committed "manifest errors of law or fact," she could not explain all of that away. So, she didn't even try. Here's what she did, directly from her order:
Plaintiffs do not assert that there has been any change in controlling law or that there is newly-discovered evidence. Rather, they assert that the undersigned has made errors of law and of fact. The undersigned has carefully considered all of the arguments that the Plaintiffs have made but disagrees. Plaintiffs simply misunderstand either the opinion or the law or both. Accordingly, the Motion To Alter Judgment is due to be denied.As you can imagine, Hopkins was not about to admit that she made 74 pages worth of errors. And she could not back up her rulings with actual citations to law. So, she resorted to what we now will call "The Dave Mason Trick." It involves a judge essentially saying, "There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy; there's only you and me, and we just disagree."
Note the little dig that we "simply misunderstand the opinion or the law or both." That's a curious way of putting it, given that Hopkins seems to be admitting there is a difference between her opinion and the law.
She sure as hell is right about that, and we will show you why in an upcoming post.
For good measure, let's check out a video of Dave Mason performing "We Just Disagree." The video has more than 7 million views, and they don't make songs like this anymore:
(To be continued)
U.S. coverage on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has tended to have a "Yes, that is horrible, but it can't happen here" tone. That notion, however, is misplaced. It can happen here, and it has happened here. I know because I'm a U.S. journalist who has been targeted and abused, very much in the way Khashoggi was targeted.
Evidence suggests Alabama thugs intended to kill Carol and me -- and did not only because Carol managed to avoid capture. (See here, here, and here.) We still fear for our lives every day, just as Jamal Khashoggi did.
|Roger Shuler mugshot|
Abuse came for my wife, Carol, and me in two American states -- Alabama (where we lived as a married couple for 25 years) and Missouri (where we have been forced to live as refugees for more than four years) -- and it started between 2008 and 2013, long before Donald Trump took office. Alabama has an ugly history of being "ahead of the curve" on white privilege and extremism, and the Missouri Ozarks aren't much different; I refer to the southern half of the Show Me State as "Alabama with snowballs."
Neither Carol nor I has been beheaded or dismembered -- yet -- but we have the bruises and broken bones to show that American thugs mean business when they try to shut down a free press. In October 2013, Alabama deputies broke into our home in Birmingham, slammed me to a concrete floor three times (much like the "body slam" of a Montana journalist that Donald Trump celebrated to much laughter at a recent rally), doused me with pepper spray, and hauled me for a five-month stay at the Shelby County Jail -- making me the only U.S. journalist to be incarcerated since 2006, and likely the only journalist in U.S. history to be arrested over a preliminary injunction that has been an unlawful "prior restraint" under more than 230 years of First Amendment law.
Here is some irony that hits close to home: Khashoggi was murdered while visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkey to obtain a document that would allow him to get married. His wife-to-be was waiting outside in a vehicle while Khashoggi, according to multiple reports from Turkish officials, was being dismembered alive inside the consulate. In essence, Saudi butchers used Khashoggi's desire to get married against him.
U.S. thugs have done much the same thing to Carol and me. Here in Missouri, thugs concocted an eviction that was unlawful in at least 10 ways as an excuse for throwing us on the streets and causing almost all of our possessions to be stolen. In the process, a thug-cop we call "Mr. Blue Shirt" viciously slammed Carol to the ground and yanked on her arms in an upward and backward motion, breaking her left arm so severely that it required eight hours of trauma surgery and almost six months of physical therapy.
Have the cops taken any responsibility for what they did? Hah, are you kidding? They brought bogus "assault of a law enforcement officer" charges against Carol, falsely hinted she broke her own arm by flailing about while handcuffed in the back seat of a patrol car, and stuck us with a bill of several thousand dollars for medical expenses.
Yes, you heard that right: In the U.S., cops can beat you up (when they had no lawful grounds to be on the property), break your arm, blame you for it, and leave you stuck with the bill. (More on that in an upcoming post.)
|X-ray of Carol Shuler's|
Carol and I believe it is possible to turn the situation in America around, to make this a country where constitutional rights and the rule of law are respected and protected. We plan to be part of the fight to make that happen, but we need a roof over our heads and a few of life's necessities, like food.
Your donations will be greatly appreciated.
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