All water under the gate, as they say.
For the sake of historical interest, the investigative journalists at ProPublica report that back in the 1980s and '90s, the Trump Organization was one of several big New York real estate interests that paid bribes to corrupt tax assessors to reduce the tax valuations on properties in the Big Rotten Apple, according to five of the criminals themselves. Two of the convicted former city tax assessors said they personally took money from middlemen on the behalf of the Trump Org, and three others "said they had indirect knowledge of the payments." They were all interviewed as part of a story for the radio series "Trump Inc." produced by ProPublica and WNYC.
Then again, they're all convicted crooks. Who you gonna believe, them, or the president of the United States, who never done nothing wrong ever in his life? Or at least has always had friends to make sure he never suffered any consequences.
Here, have a listen!
The tax assessment scandal was quite the big deal in New York at the time, though a bit overshadowed by the 9/11 attacks.
The city employees were among 18 indicted in 2002 for taking bribes in exchange for lowering the valuations of properties, which in turn reduced the taxes owed for the buildings. All of the 18 eventually pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan except for one, who died before his case was resolved.
And talk about lucky duckies! Not a single real estate developer or building owner was ever charged, in part because the (alleged) crook at the heart of the scheme died of a stroke, literally the night before he was supposed to talk to the prosecutors. Depositions can be very stressful. A list of some of the properties that got lower valuations in the scheme didn't include any Trump properties, either.
The ProPublica story is careful to cite the Trump Organization's complete denial of any wrongdoing, and notes, "No evidence has emerged that Donald Trump personally knew of or participated in the alleged bribery." It's just one of those they-said/we-deny things.
There are a few updates! The kids are still missing though.
It has now been about a half a year since anyone has seen 7-year-old Joshua "J.J." Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, the missing children of Idaho Mormon Doomsday Cult Mom Lori Vallow. Vallow, who was arrested on February 21, has yet to mention to anyone where they are or even if they are alive. With a $5 million bail hanging over her head, she apparently just sat there in jail every day rather than say "This is where my kids are," and she has yet to offer a plea. If she stays there, it is going to be very difficult for her to be the reincarnated god who guides us all through the End Times in July, as she has planned.
The most recent development in the Vallow case is that the presiding judge who set the $5 million bail (but reduced it to $1 million last week) has agreed to recuse himself from the case. Mostly because it is apparently the law in Idaho that anyone who is on trial for anything gets at least one judge-dismissing freebie, but also because that judge presided over her previous child custody case.
Judge Faren Eddins said Friday he would err on the side of defendants' rights. In Idaho, a person has a right to "disqualify a judge, without reason, without cause, just because," at least once in a case, he said during a Friday hearing.
A quick primer on restorative justice.
In March of 2019, Patrick W. Carlineo Jr. of Rochester, New York, called up Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's office and, speaking to an aide, threatened to "put a bullet" in Omar's skull.
"Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her, she's a [expletive] terrorist. Somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull. Back in the day, our forefathers would have put a bullet in her [expletive]. ... I'll put a bullet in her [expletive] skull."
On Friday, Carlineo was sentenced to 366 days in prison, for the crimes of threatening to kill a United States official and being a felon in possession of a gun, with a chance to get out in 10 months on good behavior.
Now, if you were to hear that this was not exactly the outcome Omar had hoped for, you might assume that it would be because Carlineo's sentence — on the low end of the federally recommended 12-18 month sentencing for such a crime — was not harsh enough. In fact, it was the opposite. When Carlineo pleaded guilty in November of 2019, Omar sent a letter to Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr. saying that she wished for him to show compassion and not harshly sentence or fine Carlineo, because she did not think that would help anything.
Kindly Florida Woman Changes Voters' Registration To Republican, Sparing Them Eternal Damnation In Socialist Hell
She'll likely do less time than the black woman who voted by accident.
Cheryl A. Hall of Florida (of course) was charged Thursday with the crime of conjuring up Republican voters from thin air. This magic trick involved filling out voter registration forms with false information and enrolling at least six Democratic and independent voters in the Republican Party without their consent.
Hall worked for the voter registration group Florida First, which received much of its funding from America First Policies. The solipsistic name should clue you in that the organization supports Donald Trump. Last year, America First Policies declared its plans to invest $20 million on voter registration.
"There are millions of patriotic Americans who believe in the America First movement, but aren't registered to vote," said America First Policies President Brian O. Walsh. "Returning power to the people requires an active, engaged citizenry. Let your voice be heard. Join the movement. Register today."
This was a stark change from the normal Republican tactics of actively preventing people from voting. Hall believed in America First's mission so fully she didn't just register new voters, she made them Republicans at the same time! No fuss, no muss! It's unclear if she also subscribed them to So You No Longer Care About Your Fellow Humans magazine.
Trump's Blackwater Buddy Erik Prince Recruiting Only The Fanciest Ex-Spies To Narc On Liberal Groups
If only Nixon was so lucky!
Just a few years back, it seemed that things like COINTELPRO and "Nixon's habit of spying on left-leaning groups and people" were things everyone collectively agreed were wrong and bad. One of those old timey things that was supposed to be an embarrassing blight on our history. But hey! I also thought that about anti-immigrant fervor, freaking out about "the reds," and scientific racism were not ever really going to be things again, so we all have our biases. In Nixon's day, he at least had the sense not to blare his plans from the rooftops, but as evil as he was, he was still smarter than Donald Trump.
Today, The New York Times is reporting that Erik Prince, of Blackwater and also of being Betsy DeVos's brother has been working in conjunction with James O'Keefe's Project Veritas to recruit ex- CIA and M16 spies to infiltrate liberal groups for the purpose of discrediting them. Not just "antifa" affinity groups, but Democratic congressional campaigns, unions and other groups on Trump's enemies list.
Nathaniel Woods was 43.
There are lots of arguments against capital punishment. Many of us, surely, could go on all day with them. I certainly could. But the most compelling of all is the fact that sometimes we get it wrong. Our justice system is far from perfect, and we have certainly convicted many people of crimes they did not commit, we have sentenced people to death who were later proven innocent, and we have, indeed, executed people who later turned out to be innocent.
And we may have done it again. In fact, we probably did.
That is definitely a thing that sounds true.
When last we left Doomsday Cult Mom Lori Vallow, she was being arrested for "two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children." Children who, by the way, have been missing since September.
And this story, involving mysteriously disappearing children, a mother who is convinced she is a reincarnated god, a Mormon offshoot doomsday cult preparing for the end of the world, two dead spouses, one possible attack on another person (Vallow's niece's husband), and matchmaking ghosts has not gotten less weird.
The latest news in the case is that Vallow's new husband, doomsday cult leader/novelist Chad Daybell has told the press that Vallow's children are safe. He has not, however, said where they are or even how he knows this. As you may recall, Chad Daybell believes that, as a side-effect of a near-death experience, he is able to "pierce the veil" and communicate with the dead. So it is entirely possible that he has obtained this "intel" on the children not from first-hand knowledge of their whereabouts, but from Casper the Friendly Ghost.
Brief interview with a hideous man.
CBS's once hard-hitting news magazine show "60 Minutes" did an astonishingly bad piece yesterday on Eddie Gallagher, the former Navy SEAL who is much beloved of Donald Trump. It's a hell of a puff piece on a convicted (BUT PARDONED!!) (BUT ALSO NOT EXONERATED!!!) war criminal, as interviewer David Martin presents Gallagher much as he wants to be seen: the victim of a massive conspiracy to ruin the good name of a great warrior. Lt. William Calley could only have dreamed of such a sympathetic portrayal.
Let's just say that the citizens of Twitter were not fans: Look at the ratio of comments to "likes" on this promotional tweet:
There's covering both sides, and then there's journalistic malpractice; the 60 Minutes Gallagher piece almost looks like something that could run on Fox News, but for a few moments when Martin at least gestures to the barbarity of what Gallager was accused of.
Guess conservatives will finally stop accusing "60 Minutes" of having a liberal bias now, huh?
Like everything involving immigrants, it's a crisis!
The Trump administration's total war on immigrants took another big step forward this week, as the Justice Department opened a whole new section devoted to stripping US citizenship from naturalized citizens who lied on their citizenship application forms. The DOJ is spinning it as an effort to rid America of the very worst, scummiest criminals who have wormed their way into Our Great Nation, no doubt due to liberals who hate America. The actual number of people who'll end up losing their citizenship is likely to be small -- in the hundreds, at most -- but the new "Denaturalization Section" of the Office of Immigration Litigation will help achieve some top administration goals: It will reinforce the narrative that immigrants in general are criminals and all pre-Trump laws were too lax, plus it will send immigrants the message that they're never safe -- not even after they become citizens.
Orange is the new 'Hot Pockets'
Michelle Janavs is the heiress to the vast Hot Pockets fortune — a fortune she owes almost entirely to broke college students — and she is set to appear today for sentencing in a Boston federal court for having paid California college admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer to create fraudulent college applications and ACT test scores in order to give her daughter an unfair advantage in getting into college.
Lady Hotpockets is one of 53 people, including Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives" and Lori "Aunt Becky" Loughlin, to participate in the scheme.
Instead of having her daughters take ACT tests like everyone else has to, Janavs paid Singer $100,000 to have his associate take the test for them. They also say she gave Singer another $200,000 to be used to bribe an official at the University of Southern California to pretend that one of her daughters was being recruited to play beach volleyball for the school.
Ilhan Omar's Challenger A QAnon-Believing, Alleged-Multiple-Offending Shoplifter On The Run From The Law
And we're not even making fun of her.
Danielle Stella wants Ilhan Omar's seat in Congress. Any Republican would have a hard enough time unseating Omar, given that Minnesota's Fifth District is heavily Democratic, but Stella has more obstacles in her way than the average Minnesota Republican. For one, she is a QAnon believer. Like, among other things, she believes that JFK Jr. or someone is posting secret clues to the internet in order to keep people apprised of Donald Trump's ongoing war against pedophiles who kill children in order to get high off of their adrenal glands.
For another, she can't campaign in the district she is competing for, on account of how there is currently a warrant out for her arrest and she is on the lam.
As The Guardian reported back in July of last year, the 31-year-old special education teacher was arrested twice last year on shoplifting charges — one for allegedly awarding herself a discount of nearly $2400 from a Target, and another for $40 in "cat merchandise" from a supermarket. The Target arrest occurred in January 2019, when police say she scanned about $50 worth of items at the self-checkout, and then walked out with 279 more, totaling $2,327.97.
Still no word on where her damn kids are!
Lori Vallow, (allegedly) a reincarnated god sent to lead us all when Jesus comes back in July of this year, as well as mother to two children — Tylee Ryan, 17, and Joshua Vallow, 7 — who have been mysteriously missing since September of last year, has finally been arrested on the island of Kaua'i in Hawaii. Vallow was supposed to show up in court in Idaho on January 30 to explain where her kids are, but decided to stay in Hawaii instead.
According to a statement from the Kaua'i Police Department, Vallow is being charged with "two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children. She was also charged with arrests and seizures – resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, and contempt of court – willful disobedience of court process or order."
The maximum sentence on each count of child desertion in Idaho is 14 years.
The real truth comes out.
President TyrantStupid is saying the quiet part loud again:
Let's piece this apart.
WHAT IS BERNIE MADOFF, CHOPPED LIVER?
Donald Trump was feeling merciful today, so he did us a favor though and granted clemency to a load of famous crimers, including former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik, former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., and fraudy inside trader Michael Milken. Kerik, Milken, and DeBartolo all received full pardons, while Blago only had his 14-year sentence commuted, allowing him out of prison but leaving his conviction for trying to sell an appointment to the US Senate seat that had been held by Barack Obama.
Trump also granted clemency to a number of less well-known people, including some women convicted of drug offenses, who appear to have actually turned their lives around in prison. It is not yet known whether the women were insulted by being included in a clemency spree with those scummy fraud men.
The Chicago Tribune's headline for the story was a masterpiece of pointed omission:
It's good to have cover-up artist friends in high places.
Do us a favor real quick and remember everything we know about Bill Barr's Justice Department lately, including the fact that Barr has been personally intervening in cases related to Donald Trump, and has even been "micromanaging" certain cases at the usually crazy independent Southern District of New York (SDNY). Got all your knowledge about Barr's Justice Department and SDNY at the front of your brain?
Are you also remembering that Rudy Giuliani himself has been under criminal investigation by SDNY, but instead of a perp walk, we have learned recently that Giuliani has a secret shoe phone back channel to Bill Barr, so he can deliver all the absolute bullshit "evidence" against the Bidens he's been collecting from craven liars on his Ukraine vacations?
Did you read Liz's latest story about Bill Barr's ratfuckery at the DOJ for the benefit of Donald Trump's authoritarian pals in Turkey?
Now read this scoop from CNN, which is that already-indicted Rudy Giuliani pal Lev Parnas might end up with more indictments from SDNY:
First, the bureaucratic roadblocks. Next, the transformation into giant insects.
As we have noted several times, there's a certain horrifying brilliance to the endless schemes Stephen Miller has contrived to limit immigration — not just by those terrible murderers and rapists Donald Trump scares Fox viewers with, but anyone trying to use the legal means of immigration the Right is always screaming about. It's very much like the infinitely creative ways the white power structure in the Jim Crow South came up with to humiliate black people and make their lives miserable. Someone should do a study on the psychology of all that, how it's tied to authoritarian thinking. Miller and his minions have managed to weaponize virtually every part of federal law to keep people out.
That zero tolerance of immigration extends even — or especially — to those the law is supposed to help. Like for instance victims of crimes. Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell explores the administration's latest twist of the bureaucratic knife, in which an undocumented woman she calls "Yolanda" went to the police to report she'd been violently raped, then left trapped in a basement for hours. Congress passed a law allowing crime victims who cooperate with police to apply for what's called a "U Visa," because fighting violent crime is a good thing. But not as important to this administration as blocking all immigrants.
Yolanda's application was denied because the administration decided last fall it will now reject visa applications that include any blank spaces, even when there's no earthly reason to fill in the blank. Yolanda's son has no middle name, so she wrote nothing for that item. Sorry, your application has been rejected because it's incomplete.
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