The Republican efforts to repeal and replace the extremely popular Obamacare with an extremely unpopular Graham Cassidy bill may have just been dealt its death blow by Senator Susan Collins or Maine. Tonight, as live debate was going on in Congress, Collins declared that she will vote “no” on Graham Cassidy. She is the third Republican… Continue Reading →
Democrats won handily in two out of three special state elections held last night, in counties where Trump won by big margins. We need seats to control redistricting.
The one we lost? Mississippi.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right? I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it”
– President Trump
I have been seeing this assertion that the so-called “Anti-fa” is a direct left wing equivalent of the “Alt-Right” as far as a propensity for violence in op-eds and comment sections of the media as well as social media. I know that in Berkeley the “Anti-fa” showed up outside an event that featured Milo Yiannopoulos and there were violent attacks and acts of vandalism from the group. Antifa activists vandalized property and committed violence on Inauguration Day in Washington. Their actions have been relatively isolated, focused on disrupting white “Alt-Right” rallies and mostly not instigating trouble on their own.
An account of the violence of white supremacists in Charlottesville by Jason Williams brings to question the accusation that the counter protesters provoked the violence on Friday…
On Friday night, hundreds of white supremacists and neo-fascists had a torchlight march across the University of Virginia’s campus, a place to which they had not been invited. They openly chanted fascist slogans like “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us”.
When they reached a much smaller group of counter-protesters gathered around a statue of Thomas Jefferson, they surrounded them, hurled verbal abuse and then commenced beating them with lit torches and fists, and using pepper spray on them. Some protesters told me they had been sprayed with lighter fluid while naked flames burned all around them. Some of the people trapped around the statue responded with fists and pepper spray, but their actions, and their posture, was entirely defensive from the start. The “alt-right”, on the other hand, came prepared for violence, and they were spoiling for it.
Here is a description of events that took place on Saturday…
It was basically impossible to miss the antifa for the group of us who were on the steps of Emancipation Park in an effort to block the Nazis and alt-righters from entering. Soon after we got to the steps and linked arms, a group of white supremacists—I’m guessing somewhere between 20-45 of them—came up with their shields and batons and bats and shoved through us. We tried not to break the line, but they got through some of us—it was terrifying, to say the least—shoving forcefully with their shields and knocking a few folks over. We strengthened our resolve and committed to not break the line again. Some of the anarchists and anti-fascist folks came up to us and asked why we let them through and asked what they could do to help. Rev. Osagyefo Sekou talked with them for a bit, explaining what we were doing and our stance and asking them to not provoke the Nazis. They agreed quickly and stood right in front of us, offering their help and protection.
Less than 10 minutes later, a much larger group of the Nazi alt-righters come barreling up. My memory is again murky on the details. (I was frankly focused on not bolting from the scene and/or not soiling myself—I know hyperbole is common in recounting stories like these, but I was legitimately very worried for my well-being and safety, so I was trying to remember the training I had acquired as well as, for resolve, to remember why I was standing there.) But it had to have been at least 100 of them this go around. I recall feeling like I was going to pass out and was thankful that I was locked arms with folks so that I wouldn’t fall to the ground before getting beaten. I knew that the five anarchists and antifa in front of us and the 20 or so of us were no match for the 100-plus of them, but at this point I wasn’t letting go.
At that point, more of the anarchists and antifa milling nearby saw the huge mob of the Nazis approach and stepped in. They were about 200-300 feet away from us and stepped between us (the clergy and faith leaders) and the Nazis. This enraged the Nazis, who indeed quickly responded violently. At this point, Sekou made a call that it was unsafe—it had gotten very violent very fast—and told us to disperse quickly.
While one obviously can’t objectively say what a kind of alternate reality or “sliding doors”–type situation would have been, one can hypothesize or theorize. Based on what was happening all around, the looks on their faces, the sheer number of them, and the weapons they were wielding, my hypothesis or theory is that had the antifa not stepped in, those of us standing on the steps would definitely have been injured, very likely gravely so. On Democracy Now, Cornel West, who was also in the line with us, said that he felt that the antifa saved his life. I didn’t roll my eyes at that statement or see it as an exaggeration—I saw it as a very reasonable hypothesis based on the facts we had.
I am sure that accounts of events of last weekend in Charlottesville will slowly come out, giving a more clear picture of events. I am not one to condone violence, but, if the “Anti-fa” was, indeed, protecting peaceful protesters against a violent, angry mob, I can only say I am glad they came to these people’s aid.
With these accounts, I would say calling both these groups, Alt-Right and Anti-fa, the same would be a false equivalency.
In July of 2015, South Carolina Highway Patrol Honor Guard quietly removed the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina Statehouse. The flag was surrendered to the museum curator of the Confederate Relic room in the State Museum, down the road from the Capitol.
I live in a town that if I drive 30 minutes east, I can have all the advantages of a bustling, diverse city. I can drive just 20 minutes to the west and be at a run-down roadhouse bar that displays its hatred and bigotry openly with sign and flags. Their changeable copy sign protested the removal of the flag in South Carolina. In the western area and the northwestern area of Georgia, the reaction to South Carolina retiring the Confederate flag was seen for weeks. Some towns were witnessing parades of trucks flying U.S. flags, “Don’t tread on me” flags, and Confederate Flags on the weekends for weeks that summer. These parades put some towns’ streets in gridlock. Minorities and immigrants were harassed.
In Douglas County, Georgia, the county where I live, was not spared these demonstrations for the love of Confederate Flags. A group the named themselves “Respect the Flag” were parading around the county on a Sunday in July 2015. 5 trucks pulled into an empty lot next to the home of an African American family that was having a gathering for a kid’s birthday outside. A member of Respect the Flag pulled a shotgun and pointed it at party-goers, used racial slurs and threatened to kill people at the party.
Here is the 911 call of one the people attending the party….
Two people, Kayla Rae Norton, 25, and Jose Ismael Torres, 26, were convicted of gang activity in February 2017. The judge sentenced Torres to 20 years, with 13 to serve in prison. Norton was given 15 years, with six to serve.
In reaction to this sentencing, Stephen Howard, imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi, announced that 200 members will arrive in Douglas County to protest in March 2017. He threatened that the group will be armed and dressed in full robes. (The courthouse is approximately three blocks from where the African American family that was harassed lives.) I decided to go witness the rally with camera in hand. When I arrived, the Klan had not arrived, yet. There was a large law enforcement presence. The crowd was rather large in front of the courthouse. Most people there were in protest the Mississippi KKK. There were a handful people in support of the KKK. There were a few tense moments and words exchanged, but, for the most part, it was peaceful and without incident.
The Mississippi Klan did not show up for their demonstration.
Election season in Douglas County last fall did not go by without incident. Thom Wortham, Douglas County Commission Chair was campaigning at a festival that was held at the courthouse. Commissioner Wortham was elected in 2005 and it was expected that his challenger for the seat, Ramona Jackson Jones, would not pose much of a threat. All of this changed when a festival goer caught Wortham on a cell phone video making racist remarks regarding what would happen to Douglas County if the leadership in the county was primarily African American. (Douglas County is 41% African American.)
Randy Travis Fox5 report:
This video was the primary reason that Wortham lost his seat to Ramona Jackson Jones, as well as the first elected African American Sheriff of the county, as well as an African American Tax Commissioner.
And these are recent incidents and within a mile of my home.
These racists, Klan members, Alt-right, white supremacists whatever they call themselves, are in plain view. They are just not hiding anymore.
They say it is about flags and monuments. Charlottesville was not about a monument. The threat against that African American family was not about a flag. It is about the bigotry and racism like the thoughts expressed by Wortham.
And, yes, people are resisting.
All in plain view.
A young paralegal from Greene County, Virginia, was identified as the victim of violence that broke out after hundreds of white nationalists converged Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, to participate in the Unite the Right rally held against the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the Emancipation Park. Heather Heyer,… Continue Reading →
Imagine if you took every single gripe you’ve had with Verizon over the past five years — the time it blocked Nexus 7 tablets for five months; the time it forced you to pay $20 per month for tethering; the time it tried to make you use a mobile wallet app called “ISIS” — and finally put your foot down. For a year, you spend free moments holed up in library stacks, speaking with experts, and researching and writing a sprawling legal complaint about the company’s many, many misdeeds. And then you file it all with the FCC, hoping to get some payback.
That’s exactly what Alex Nguyen did. And one day very soon, Verizon may have to answer for it.
Nguyen is a recent college graduate living in Santa Clara, California. And for much of 2015, he spent his time digging through years of Verizon’s public statements and actions, assembling more than 300 citations into a 112-page document that could well have been his master’s thesis. (In fact, he studied computer science.) The document catalogs a dozen questionable actions Verizon has taken since 2012, assembling a body of evidence in an attempt to prove that the carrier has violated a number of open internet protections.
“CARRIERS HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOREVER. VERIZON, IN PARTICULAR, HAS BEEN ONE OF MOST BRAZEN.”
Finally, when he wrapped up in the middle of last year, Nguyen paid a $225 filing fee and handed his complaint over to the FCC. It would end up being the only formal complaint filed under the net neutrality rules.
While both political parties have denounced the rising cost of prescription drugs, neither Democrats nor Republicans have done much to address the problem. But this summer, a new tool to restrict the rising prices of drugs developed with taxpayer dollars has been introduced by the two U.S. senators who don’t belong to either party. The mechanism… Continue Reading →
Panhandle Slim (Scott Stanton) had to appear before Savannah Code Enforcement regarding one of his paintings he has placed in Savannah as part of his “Walls of Hope” project. There are some members who are at odds with his project as some believe it does not match the city’s aesthetic.
Here is an article about the latest controversy….
While we watch the Trump administration spin its wheels and the Republican Congress do everything except legislate, special counsel Robert Mueller is assembling his team very quietly.
If one looks closely, these are experts in the field of financial crime.
And this is a stealthy cast of characters…
Aaron Zebley, Mueller’s chief of staff when he was FBI director
- Zebley was an elite FBI agent for 7 years in the Counterterrorism Division
- He was instrumental in tracking down dangerous Al Qaeda members back in 1999
- He then became a prosecutor and one of Mueller’s go-to confidants
- He was part of the I-49 team: a small group of FBI agents based in NYC who were actively searching for Osama Bin Laden before the 9/11 attacks
James Quarles III, former Watergate investigator
- A litigator and a partner at WilmerHale, where he started in 1975. He runs the DC office of the firm
- He served as an assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate investigation
- During that investigation, Quarles focused on campaign finance research — something that will certainly be called upon throughout the Russia investigation, particularly after the FBI issued subpoenas for financial disclosures from Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort
- He has argued cases in front of the Supreme Court
Jeannie Rhee, former deputy attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel
- Rhee was senior adviser to former Attornery General Eric Holder for two years
- She advised him and the WH on “constitutional, statutory and regulatory issues regarding criminal law, criminal procedure, executive privilege, civil rights and national security,” according to WilmerHale.
- She tried more than 30 cases when she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the D.C. Attorney’s Office
- She rejoined WilmerHale as a partner in the Litigation/Controversy Department where she advised “clients who are the subject of government investigations” regarding “white-collar criminal investigations, False Claims Act allegations and securities enforcement matters.”
- In 2015, Rhee represented Hillary Clinton in a case about her private email server, according to Politico.
Andrew Weissmann, DOJ criminal fraud section chief
- He was Mueller’s one-time general counsel
- Previously led the fraud unit at the DOJ
- Weismann oversaw the Enron Task Force in the early 2000s, investigating the failed energy company
- From 1991 to 2002, Weissmann handled cases against various crime families in NY as part of his work in the office of the U.S. Attorney for New York’s Eastern District
- He worked at a law firm where he focused on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, securities fraud, and other issues.
Michael Dreeben, DOJ’s deputy solicitor general
- Dreeben currently serves in the Justice Department, overseeing its criminal docket before the Supreme Court and handling its appellate cases
- He has argued more than 100 cases in front of the Supreme Court
- He was a deputy in the Office of the Solicitor General
- He’s been heralded as “1 of the top legal & appellate minds at DOJ in modern times,” and has been called “the most brilliant and most knowledgeable federal criminal lawyer in America—period.”
Lisa Page, an experienced DOJ trial attorney
- There has been no official announcement from the special counsel about Page, but WIRED notes Mueller has reached out to her
- Her investigatory expertise: organized crime cases, money laundering, and one particularly relevant case where she partnered with Hungary’s FBI task force to investigate European organized crime.
Note: Her work in Hungary is what led to the ongoing money laundering case against Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian leader who was once business partners with Paul Manafort.
Andrew Weissman is a person of particular note as he is known for “flipping witnesses.”
Andrew Weissmann, who headed the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal fraud section before joining Mueller’s team last month, is best known for two assignments – the investigation of now-defunct energy company Enron and organized crime cases in Brooklyn, New York – that depended heavily on gaining witness cooperation.
Securing the cooperation of people close to Trump, many of whom have been retaining their own lawyers, could be important for Mueller, who was named by the Justice Department as special counsel on May 17 and is investigating, among other issues, whether Trump himself has sought to obstruct justice. Trump has denied allegations of both collusion and obstruction.
“Flipping” witnesses is a common, although not always successful, tactic in criminal prosecutions.
Robert Ray, who succeeded Kenneth Starr as the independent counsel examining former President Bill Clinton, noted that Trump’s fired former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, has already offered through his lawyer to testify before Congress in exchange for immunity, suggesting potential willingness to cooperate as a witness.
“It would seem to me the time is now to make some decisions about what you have and what leverage can be applied to get the things you don’t have,” Ray said, referring to Mueller’s team.
I think the depth and breadth, the warp and weave of all things Trump and Russia is going to be quite a tale.
Better than any crime fiction written.
Today is the day for the special election in the sixth congressional district of Georgia. The race is between seasoned Republican political veteran Karen Handel and Democratic newcomer Jon Ossoff.
The special election is considered the referendum on the Trump presidency, so far, as if the absurdity of it all isn’t apparent. But, what is noteworthy is that this is the district that Newt Gingrich represented. And things in the area have certainly changed, as the demographics of the Atlanta area are shifting to the left.
The polls on this race are pretty much a dead heat. What else is notable is the big impact that newly politically active women are having in this race and it is in Ossoff’s favor.
In the wake of Donald Trump’s November defeat of Hillary Clinton, many of these Georgia women have remade their lives, transforming themselves and their communities through unceasing political engagement. To visit Georgia’s sixth in the days before the runoff is to land on a planet populated by politically impassioned women, talking as if they have just walked off the set of Thelma & Louise, using a language of awakening, liberation, and political fury that should indeed discomfit their conservative neighbors, and — if it is a harbinger of what’s to come — should shake conservative America more broadly.
And then there is the money pouring into the district for this race. One of Handel’s criticism of Ossoff is that there is a great amount of money coming to him from outside the district. Act Blue has been an influential source for bringing in out of district money for Ossoff. The amount of money spent on advertising has been astounding.
An election-eve analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows that roughly $42 million has been spent or reserved for TV and radio ads in the race – including about $27 million since the first-round of voting in April winnowed the field in Tuesday’s vote to Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel. That doesn’t include the other cash spent by the campaigns and the super PACs and outside groups supporting them for other trappings of the campaigns, including direct-mail, staff payroll, consulting fees and digital ads.
The analysis shows Ossoff laid out $14.2 million on ad time and spent at least another $8 million on other costs. Handel spent $2.5 million on TV, radio and cable spots and had at least $1 million in other expenses.
And some of the ads by PACs are just ridiculous, as this ad is…
Both campaigns have denounced this ad, BTW.
So, most polls have Ossoff ahead by a razor-thin margin. Personally, I think that Handel will win.
But, I have my fingers crossed.