Today marks the one-year anniversary of our house being stolen by corrupt Republican officials in Shelby County, Alabama.
Actually, that statement is not 100 percent accurate. (More on that in a moment.) But it illustrates a common tactic that Republicans use against their perceived enemies.
I call it "financial terrorism."
I'm hardly alone as a target of financial terrorism, as practiced by America's right wingers. Alabama attorney Jill Simpson, a GOP whistleblower in the Don Siegelman case, has been the target of a mysterious automobile "accident" (her car was run off the road) and an even more mysterious fire at her home.
The goal of the GOP crowd that orchestrated the Siegelman (Alabama) and Paul Minor (Mississippi) cases in the Deep South probably involved more than possible prison sentences. My guess is that Karl Rove & Co. wanted to ruin the men financially. And they probably have come close to succeeding.
In some cases, the GOP resorts to what you might call "techno/financial terrorism." One Alabama Web journalist has seen his servers attacked on more than one occasion. A major national Web journalist recently has seen her e-mails and other electronic data mysteriously disappear.
Mrs. Schnauzer and I are convinced that Alabama GOPers have tracked our phone records and used that information to cost her several jobs. We also have little doubt that our bank and other personal records have been checked. This is particularly easy with us because our situation involves multiple corrupt judges. And who signs orders to produce bank and phone records? Judges, of course.
So what about our house? Longtime readers will remember the saga from last spring, which involved several steps:
* Writ of execution--We received this document from a sheriff's deputy, threatening to seize our cars and/or house in order to satisfy a "judgment" against me in the amount of $1,525. The "judgment" was the result of a lawsuit brought by our troublesome neighbor, Mike McGarity. The judgment was not remotely lawful (long story), but Shelby County Circuit Judge G. Dan Reeves signed it, so that apparently gave the sheriff the authority to conduct a harassment campaign regarding our property. The judgment, by the way, had sat idle for three years, with no one ever sending a demand letter. But McGarity's attorney, William E. Swatek, suddenly became interested in the money when I started this blog, telling the world about the sleazebags who run the Shelby County Courthouse.
* Notice of Levy--We received this document after threats to seize our cars didn't fill us with the desired amount of fear. The notice of levy specifically threatened seizure of our home and the lot it sits on. Trust me: You haven't lived until you come home to find a Notice of Levy taped to your garage door.
* Notice of Sheriff's Sale--This little baby, also taped to our garage door, informed us of the date and time that our house was scheduled to be sold, on the courthouse steps in Columbiana, Alabama.
The corrupt folks who run Shelby County gave us the impression that our entire house was going to be sold, and we were going to be thrown into the streets. Only after conducting our own research did we realize that they could not do that for several reasons: (1) My wife jointly owns our house, and she was not a party to the judgment, so they could not touch her portion of our house; (2) They could only touch my portion of our house in roughly the amount of the judgment; (3) The result of a sheriff's sale is a document called a sheriff's deed, which is similar to a lien and sits quietly on the property until the owner tries to sell it. At that point, the sheriff's deed must be dealt with.
That's what I meant when I said they didn't actually steal our entire house. But they did steal the full ownership rights to our house. And in the process, they violated our civil rights in multiple ways and probably committed several federal crimes. If the Obama Justice Department ever appoints real U.S. attorneys in places like Alabama, perhaps they will do something about it. I'm definitely going to try to do something about it in a civil matter.
For good measure, Mrs. Schnauzer and I were on hand last May 12 to videotape the bogus sheriff's auction of our house. Bill Swatek, our neighbor's dirtbag lawyer, was the "winning bidder"--and we now occasionally get mail for him at our house. Think I'm going to call and have him come over and mow "his" lawn.
Swatek, by the way, is about as sleazy a lawyer as they come--and that's saying something. He's been disciplined by the Alabama State Bar three times, including a suspension of his license, and he's been tried for perjury. But he still has a bar card and is able to pull off stunts like the one you see in this video, which is kind of a cross between High Noon and Smokey and the Bandit.
Just how sleazy is Bill Swatek? Here is an overview. Want to get a feel for his sleaziness in all of its glory? Check out our three-part video series:
* Bushies Protect Alabama Attorney With an Unsavory Past
* An Alabama Portrait of Sleaze in the Age of Rove, Part II
* An Alabama Portrait of Sleaze in the Age of Rove, Part III
What have we learned from our encounter with GOP financial terrorism? Many things. But a couple of things stand out:
(1) Republican bad guys tend to be stupid--I often hear Karl Rove referred to as a "genius." Nothing could be further from the truth. Rove and his minions are dumb criminals, who make very little effort to cover their tracks. I don't have the first day of law school, and I figured out how they operated a long time ago. Other Americans can do the same thing.
(2) Republican bad guys are unbelievably arrogant--I'm convinced these people believe no one will ever really fight back against them. I think they believe progressives, Democrats, liberals, and moderates are a bunch of wusses, who will let them get away with most anything. I can't speak for all progressives, but I know some individuals who aren't going to sit around forever and just take it.
I get the feeling that GOP bad guys have never asked themselves this question: "What if we pushed the wrong person too far? What if that person decided to push back in a rather painful way?"
Maybe it's time they started thinking about that.