Monday, August 31, 2020

Donald Trump is a narcissistic personality in command at a time of crisis, and that likely explains his dismal performance amidst a global pandemic

 
The primary message of last week's Republican National Convention (RNC) seemed to be: We are living in dark days, and the best way out of them is to re-elect the president (Donald Trump) who led us into them.

That might not make sense to you, and it certainly doesn't make sense to me. But here is a bigger message, one you did not hear at the RNC: Donald Trump likely is a narcissist, which makes him a bad president and a dangerous SOB.
 
Narcissism might be the No. 1 characteristic that makes Donald Trump unfit to be president, especially at a time of crisis, according to a recent New York Times analysis. Writes Jennifer Senior in an op-ed piece titled "This Is What Happens When a Narcissist Runs a Crisis:Trump’s catastrophic performance has as much to do with psychology as ideology":

Since the early days of the Trump administration, an impassioned group of mental health professionals have warned the public about the president’s cramped and disordered mind, a darkened attic of fluttering bats. Their assessments have been controversial. The American Psychiatric Association’s code of ethics expressly forbids its members from diagnosing a public figure from afar.

Enough is enough. As I’ve argued before, an in-person analysis of Donald J. Trump would not reveal any hidden depths — his internal sonar could barely fathom the bottom of a sink — and these are exceptional, urgent times. Back in October, George T. Conway III, the conservative lawyer and husband of Kellyanne, wrote a long, devastating essay for The Atlantic, noting that Trump has all the hallmarks of narcissistic personality disorder. That disorder was dangerous enough during times of prosperity, jeopardizing the moral and institutional foundations of our country.

But now we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. The president’s pathology is endangering not just institutions, but lives.
How does Trump's narcissism endanger us all? Writes Senior::

Let’s start with the basics. First: Narcissistic personalities like Trump harbor skyscraping delusions about their own capabilities. They exaggerate their accomplishments, focus obsessively on projecting power, and wish desperately to win.

What that means, during this pandemic: Trump says we’ve got plenty of tests available, when we don’t. He declares that Google is building a comprehensive drive-thru testing website, when it isn’t. He sends a Navy hospital ship to New York and it proves little more than an excuse for a campaign commercial, arriving and sitting almost empty in the Hudson. A New York hospital executive calls it a joke.

Second: The grandiosity of narcissistic personalities belies an extreme fragility, their egos as delicate as foam. They live in terror of being upstaged. They’re too thin skinned to be told they’re wrong.

What that means, during this pandemic: Narcissistic leaders never have, as Trump likes to say, the best people. They have galleries of sycophants. With the exceptions of Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, Trump has surrounded himself with a Z-team of dangerously inexperienced toadies and flunkies — the bargain-bin rejects from Filene’s Basement — at a time when we require the brightest and most imaginative minds in the country.

Faced with a historic public health crisis, Trump could have assembled a first-rate company of disaster preparedness experts. Instead he gave the job to his son-in-law, a man-child of breathtaking vapidity. Faced with a historic economic crisis, Trump could have assembled a team of Nobel-prize winning economists or previous treasury secretaries. Instead he talks to Larry Kudlow, a former CNBC host.

Meanwhile, Fauci and Birx measure every word they say like old-time apothecaries, hoping not to humiliate the narcissist — never humiliate a narcissist — while discreetly correcting his false hopes and falsehoods. They are desperately attempting to create a safe space for our president, when the president should be creating a safer nation for all of us.

What about the chaos that seems to surround Trump? That could have its roots in the president's narcissism:
Third: Narcissistic personalities love nothing more than engineering conflict and sowing division. It destabilizes everyone, keeps them in control.

What that means, during this pandemic: Trump is pitting state against state for precious resources, rather than coordinating a national response. (“It’s like being on eBay,” complained Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York last week.) His White House is a petty palace of competing power centers. He picks fights with Democratic officials and members of the press, when all the public craves is comfort.Narcissistic personalities don’t do comfort. They cannot fathom the needs of other hearts.

Trump seems to hold more grudges than all previous U.S. presidents combined. That probably is not by accident:
Fourth: Narcissistic personalities are vindictive. On a clear day, you can see their grudges forever.

What that means, during this pandemic: Trump is playing favorites with governors who praise him and punishing those who fail to give him the respect he believes he deserves. “If they don’t treat you right, don’t call,” he told Vice President Mike Pence.
His grudge match with New York is now especially lethal. When asked whether New York will have enough ventilators, Trump bluntly answered “No,” and then blamed the state.

As leaders, narcissists desperately want to project strength. In fact, they often are anything but strong:
And most relevant, as far as history is concerned: Narcissistic personalities are weak.

What that means, during this pandemic: Trump is genuinely afraid to lead. He can’t bring himself to make robust use of the Defense Production Act, because the buck would stop with him. (To this day, he insists states should be acquiring their own ventilators.) When asked about delays in testing, he said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.” During a news conference, he added the tests “we inherited were “broken, were obsolete,” when this form of coronavirus didn’t even exist under his predecessor.

This sounds an awful lot like one of the three sentences that Homer Simpson swears will get you through life: “It was like that when I got here.”

Most people, even the most hotheaded and difficult ones, have enough space in their souls to set aside their anger in times of crisis. Think of Rudolph Giuliani during Sept. 11. Think of Andrew Cuomo now.

But every aspect of Trump’s crisis management has been annexed by his psychopathology. As Americans die, he boasts about his television ratings. As Americans die, he crows that he’s No. 1 on Facebook, which isn’t close to true.

But it is true that all eyes are on him. He’s got a captive audience, an attention-addict’s dream come to life. It’s just that he, like all narcissistic personalities, has no clue how disgracefully — how shamefully, how deplorably — he’ll be enshrined in memory.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Jerry Falwell Jr.sex scandal might lead to resignation as GOP, with support from evangelicals, prepare to back Trump re-election in busy convention week


Giancarlo Granda (Reuters)
As the Republican convention kicks into high gear,  evangelical leader,Jerry Falwell Jr., who rallied religious-right support to help put Donald Trump in the White House, submitted and then withdrew his resignation as president of Liberty University in a sex scandal that might make Trump himself blush. The "pool-boy scandal" began to break wide open Sunday evening, with a report from the Washington Examiner. How cringe-worthy does the story get? Consider this from Yahoo! News:

Suspended Liberty University leader Jerry Falwell Jr. confirmed to Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard late Sunday that his wife, Becki Falwell, had an affair with a young man they befriended and went into business with in Florida eight years ago. In a long statement, Falwell said he and his wife "forgave each other" — he suggested he had also "important smaller things" to atone for, quoting a Bible verse about visual adultery — and had decided to come forward because his wife's former lover had been extorting them for "huge amounts of monies" to stay quiet. "I'm just tired of it," Falwell told Bedard. Falwell said the young man — Giancarlo Granda — had created a "'fatal attraction' type situation," referring to a famous 1987 movie in which a jilted extramarital lover boiled a pet rabbit, among other acts of retaliatory intimidation. Granda, 21 at the time of the affair, told the Examiner in an email that "any allegation of extortion" is false, "defamatory, and belied by clear documentary evidence," adding that the attempt by the Falwells "to sandbag me" with this "last-minute story" just "reeks of desperation," and "the WHOLE truth will come out." The salacious nature of the relationship between the Falwells and Granda emerged when Michael Cohen, the former fixer and lawyer for President Trump, told comedian Tom Arnold in a secretly taped conversation that he had destroyed risquĂ© "personal" photographs involving the "pool boy" on behalf of Falwell weeks before Falwell unexpectedly endorsed Trump for president. Falwell said Sunday he "was not involved" in his wife's "inappropriate personal relationship" with Granda, and mentioned "fantastic" and "prurient, untrue aspects" of the relationship "based on the individual's misrepresentations." Liberty University, a conservative evangelical Christian college founded by Jerry Falwell Sr., confirmed Friday that Falwell has been placed on indefinite paid suspension while the university investigates "various rumors and claims" about him and decides if he will be fired. He makes about $1 million a year as president of Liberty University, The News and Advance reports.

Falwell, 58, has been on leave since apologizing for posting (then deleting) a photo of himself with his arm around a woman, both their pants partially unzipped, at a "Trailer Park Boys" costume party on a 164-foot, six-bedroom yacht owned by NASCAR mogul Rick Hendrick. Falwell's family has reportedly been taking family vacations on the yacht since Liberty University signed a multi-million-dollar sponsorship deal with Hendrick Motorsports.

The pool boy/business partner has refused to go quietly. He says Falwell Jr. was an active participant in the affair, according to a report at Reuters:

In a claim likely to intensify the controversy surrounding one of the most influential figures in the American Christian conservative movement, a business partner of Jerry Falwell Jr has come forward to say he had a years-long sexual relationship involving Falwell’s wife and the evangelical leader.

Giancarlo Granda says he was 20 when he met Jerry and Becki Falwell while working as a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel in March 2012. Starting that month and continuing into 2018, Granda told Reuters that the relationship involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on.

Granda showed Reuters emails, text messages and other evidence that he says demonstrate the sexual nature of his relationship with the couple, who have been married since 1987. “Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda said in an interview. Now 29, he described the liaisons as frequent – “multiple times per year” – and said the encounters took place at hotels in Miami and New York, and at the Falwells’ home in Virginia.

His friendship with the Falwells eventually soured, Granda told Reuters, in part because he wanted to dissolve his ties with the couple and fell into a business dispute with them.
Granda first emerged as a figure in the Falwells’ circle two years ago, when BuzzFeed News reported that the couple had befriended Granda and gone into business with him, buying a Miami Beach youth hostel in 2013. At the time of the BuzzFeed article, a representative of the Falwell family said Granda was “offered a share” in Alton Hostel LLC because Granda lived in Miami and would act as a manager of the youth hostel. Corporate records show that Granda currently has a stake in that venture.

On Sunday night, however, as Reuters was preparing to publish this article, Jerry Falwell issued a statement to the Washington Examiner in which he said that his wife had had an affair with Granda and that Granda had been trying to extort money from the couple over the matter. Granda denies any such intent, saying he was seeking to negotiate a buyout from a business arrangement he says he had with the couple.

Falwell’s statement Sunday to the Examiner said nothing about Granda’s account alleging that the evangelical leader had his own role in the affair, and Falwell didn’t address questions from Reuters about it. In the statement quoted by the Examiner, Falwell said that “Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved.”

News of the entanglement could pose a fresh threat to the influence of Jerry Falwell, a towering figure in the U.S. evangelical political movement. His 2016 endorsement of Donald Trump helped the twice-divorced New Yorker win the Republican nomination for president.

From a CNN report on Falwell Jr.'s resignation:

The revelation adds new depth to Jerry Falwell Jr.'s swift and remarkable fall from grace. In June he apologized after deleting a much-criticized tweet that showed one person in black face and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

On August 7, Liberty University's executive committee said they asked Falwell Jr. to take an "indefinite leave of absence" after he posted a photo on Instagram that showed him with his pants unzipped and his midsection visible. In the photo, Falwell is holding a cup of dark liquid and has one arm around a woman whose shorts are also unzipped.

In a radio interview soon afterwards, Falwell Jr. said the woman was his wife's assistant. He said the pair were at a costume party and "it was just in good fun," but added he should never have posted the photo and said, "I've apologized to everybody and I promised my kids I'm going to try to be a good boy from here on out."

Falwell Jr. was one of the first evangelical leaders to endorse Trump when he ran for president. He remained a strong supporter after the President took office, irking some Liberty students and former employees who believe Trump doesn't share their values.

The Lynchburg, Virginia, university was founded in 1971 by Falwell's father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, a conservative Christian stalwart and founder of the Moral Majority movement. Jerry Falwell Sr. died in 2007.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Mounting evidence suggests former U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, who resigned under odd circumstances in July, was involved in scheme to steal clients and ruin the practice of Birmingham lawyer Burt Newsome


Jay Town
A Birmingham attorney, who says Alabama Power and the Balch Bingham law firm conspired to frame him for a crime in order to steal some of his clients, is asking the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a criminal investigation of former U.S. Attorney (USA) Jay E. Town for his alleged role in the scheme.

Burt Newsome states that Town resigned as USA for the Northern District of Alabama but says the matter should not end there. Newsome wants the DOJ to investigate if Town engaged in criminal conduct and asks three DOJ officials to help launch a probe. Town abruptly resigned on a Friday afternoon, one month after Newsome dispatched a letter to the DOJ Office of Inspector General (OIG), asking it to investigate Town for the following: blocking an investigation into Alabama Power’s payments to Rodger and Carol Smitherman while Carole Smitherman was presiding over the Newsome case; blocking an investigation into the cop son of an Alabama Power executive being involved in Newsome's false arrest; blocking an investigation into why the defense in the [David] Roberson case was banned from mentioning Alabama Power during Roberson’s criminal trial; and then, when Newsome asked the Montgomery FBI to investigate all of this, since Town was blocking the Birmingham FBI, Town blocked the Montgomery FBI from looking into any of this, as well.

Newsome points to evidence that Town was involved in a fraudulent deposition of a Verizon employee named "Jason Forman," who apparently proved to be an imposter. How strange was the Verizon deposition? We addressed that in a post dated 3/2/20:

Did Birmingham law firm Balch Bingham combine with Verizon Wireless to orchestrate a bogus deposition in a lawsuit over the alleged attempted theft of solo practitioner Burt Newsome's lucrative collections practice?

Thanks to top-notch original reporting from K.B. Forbes, publisher of the Web site banbalch.com, we have already pointed to peculiar circumstances surrounding the video deposition -- supposedly of a Verizon records custodian named Jason Forman -- that suggest the answer is yes. In fact, there is reason to wonder if the deponent really was named Jason Forman and if he even worked for Verizon. Forbes suggested in a recent post that "Forman" was an actor and noted examples from the past where Alabama utility companies and their associates have resorted to such skulduggery.

How would parties in a lawsuit even attempt to pull off such a hoax? In this instance. the parties were communicating electronically across roughly 900 miles, with some in Birmingham, AL, and others near Verizon headquarters in Bedminster, NJ., and that likely enhanced the opportunities for subterfuge that might not be present in an old-fashioned, face-to-face deposition. Why would someone attempt such a stunt? Newsome's legal team had discovered that alleged conspirators connected to Balch had used an Alabama-based phone number -- (205) 410-1494 -- to communicate , likely via prepaid "burner" phones, about the scheme to steal Newsome's practice. The hoax apparently was designed to keep Newsome from gaining access to communications among those who were trying to ruin him professionally.

Did the "Jason Forman" deposition follow normal procedure? Not exactly:

Another oddity: At the beginning of the deposition, Forman had no attorney present to represent him and object, if necessary to certain questions. The normal process, as I understand it, is to have an attorney present, who can object to questions and then usually instruct the deponent to answer the question, even if it is found later to be inadmissible at trial. If the dispute is particularly serious, the deposition can be interrupted, with the issue taken to a judge for resolution. But my understanding is that parties usually are encouraged not to let discovery disputes get that far.

That's why deponents generally answer questions, over their own attorney's objections, with admissibility and other issues to be resolved later. In this instance, with no attorney present for Verizon at the beginning, "Jason Forman" (a non-lawyer) essentially made his own objections and steadfastly refused to answer certain questions, especially if they could lead to personal identifiers.

"Jason Forman" refused to provide the most basic personal information, as seen from this section of the deposition transcript:

Burt Newsome (BN): State your full legal name, for the record.

Jason Forman (JF): Jason Forman, F-O-R-M-A-N.

BN: Do you have a middle name, sir?

JF: Yes, Eric, E-R-I-C.

BN: So Jason Eric Forman?

JF: Correct.

BN: Okay. And what's your home address?

JF: I'm not giving you that.

BN: Well, I mean you're under oath here.

JF: There's no reason for you to have where I live, sir.

BN: This is important stuff.

JF: There's no reason for you to have where I live, sir. You can have my office address, which is 180 Washington Valley Road. . . .

BN: What's your home phone number?

JF: I'm not giving you that, either. I can give you our office number . . .

BN: What's your Social Security number?

JF: I'm not giving you that, either.

BN: Okay . . . Let the record reflect he's refusing to answer questions as well, which is another reason that I object to this deposition. . . . And what's your educational background?

JF: I have a degree in criminal justice.

BN: And where did you get that from, sir?

JF: I'm -- you're asking a whole lot of personal information, and it's not relevant to what we're doing here. I'm here to testify to records. I'm not giving you my resume. It's unnecessary.

BN: Your technical background is relevant to the case and to what you're testifying about.

JF: I have been -- I have been a custodian of records for Verizon Wireless since 2003.

BN: Where did you get your degree from, sir?

JF: I'm not answering any more personal questions. If you have records about the case. If you have questions about my office. I'll be happy to answer them. I'm not here to answer personal questions about my personal background. I'm not an expert witness in that capacity.

Was "Jason Forman" stonewalling? Well, he ultimately testified, seemingly based on no technical expertise, that the (205) number was a router switch, not a phone number. Was that an attempt to put the burner-phone issue to rest? Apparently so.

For good measure, photographic evidence indicates the deponent, and the Jason Forman who actually works for Verizon, are not the same person.

Who just happens to have real ties to Verizon? That would be Jay Town, who is a member of the New Jersey Bar. From a report at banbalch.com:

We, the CDLU, have questioned the legitimacy of the deposition. Was it a real or staged event? Highly unusual, the deposition with Verizon did not take place at their large corporate campus.

Instead, this deposition supposedly took place at a Regus Center (a rent by the hour office space facility) in Bedminster, New Jersey less than 10 miles from Verizon’s Corporate Headquarters located in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

And what law firm represents Verizon regularly? McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney and  Carpenter in Morristown, New Jersey, just one mile away from Verizon’s Corporate Headquarters.

And who worked for McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney and Carpenter before his career as a prosecutor?

Jay E. Town

Pulling in all their weight to crush Newsome, we suspect Balch (and/or their sister-wife Alabama Power) appears to have reached out to Town for his assistance in July of 2017, a tour de force.

How far do Town's tentacles reach? A published report suggests they reach Calera, Alabama, as does the fishy router-switch story. Per a 2/25/20 post from banbalch.com, a Shelby County attorney named
Robert Ronnlund, whose wife Millicent Ronnlund is an attorney with Balch Bingham, filed an unsworn Calera Police Department affidavit with the narrative that the (205) 410-1494 number was not a phone number but a “routing switch.” My, that story travels far and fast. How could that happen? Consider this from a report about Town's resignation at al.com:

“Jay Town changed the culture for law enforcement (in the Northern District of Alabama),‘' said Calera Police Chief Dave Hyche, who formerly worked alongside Town as an ATF supervisor. “Aggressive prosecution of violent offenders has to continue.”

“There is no doubt that the violent crime rates would be exponentially higher without aggressive federal prosecution,‘' Hyche said. “His shoes will be hard to fill.”

So, Jay Town has friends and admirers in the Calera PD, which just happened to file an unsworn (and apparently false) affidavit re: the burner-phone issue in the Newsome case.

Does anyone see a disturbing pattern here? Burt Newsome does -- including evidence that, on four separate occasions, Town blocked the FBI from investigating his case, Newsome claims Town's hasty resignation and exit from Birmingham were designed to stave off a full investigation. He asks the DOJ officials to make sure the matter receives a full criminal review.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Senate Intelligence Committee Report could set the foundation for a criminal prosecution of Trump for treason -- with states holding the "trump" card


Donald Trump and Roger Stone

The Senate Intelligence Committee Report (SICR) on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, released Tuesday, could lay the foundation for criminal prosecutions at the highest levels of government -- including one against Donald Trump for treason, under 18 U.S.Code 2381 -- a lawyer source tells Legal Schnauzer.

The fact that this exhaustive report is led by the Republican U.S. Senate is devastating to Trump. His fate is now sealed, no matter what happens. Even if he "won" again, a lot of Americans are going to see him as so illegitimate that he cannot possibly last long at the White House. We have a traitor in the White House, that's for sure. . . .

Actually, and this is important: This new Republican-led U.S. Senate is EXHIBIT 'A' in a massive prosecution against Trump and others for criminal interference with the U.S. election in 2016. Also, this report is EXHIBIT 'A' in a criminal prosecution against Trump for treason.

Our source begins by noting the straightforward elements of treason:

Three key elements are necessary for an offense to constitute treason: an obligation of allegiance to the legal order, intent, and action to violate that obligation.

How could this be applied to Trump?

I would argue that Trump and his people acted in concert with Russia and Putin in an act of levying an undeclared war on the the United States and its democratic system by colluding to interfere with a U.S. presidential election and to help install Trump in the U.S. presidency so Trump could continue to harm the U.S. and give "aid and comfort" to Russia and Putin. Take, for example, what illegitimate president Trump did in one phone call to Saudi Arabia. Trump told Saudi Arabia that if the Saudis did not cease and desist from engaging in an oil-price war with Russia, that Trump would order all U.S. military out of the Saudi region, thereby leaving Saudi without sufficient military protection. This one act by Russian agent Donald Trump meant a huge, hundreds of billions, in benefits to Russia, Putin, and Putin's cadre of Russian oil billionaires.

I believe that any nation that seeks by subterfuge and stealth to undermine another nation's democratic elections is actually engaged in undeclared war on that nation. It's so frightening to understand that in the case of Trump, he and his campaign people actually acted in league and in concert with Putin and Russia in perpetrating an undeclared war on the election system of the United States, thereby causing Trump to be installed as U.S. president when, truth be known, Trump was not a legitimate winner of that election. It's just like Laurence Tribe explained, Trump only "won" by engaging in unlawful and criminal conduct to interfere with the U.S. election of 2016.

Our source adds details to the treason picture that probably are unknown to most Americans:

Also, any nation, such as Russia and Putin, that seeks to undermine our election system is acting as an "enemy" and Trump "adhered" to the "enemy" by working in concert with Russia and Putin.

Trump can pardon himself for treason, but states also have criminal treason laws. Any state in the U.S. could, based on the Republican-led report, file a state criminal treason charge against Trump et al. and sentence the convicted to death. Trump cannot pardon for state crimes. And, in fact, it would be a state crime for a U.S. citizen to collude with Russia to win the White House and then exercise the powers of the U.S. presidency to abuse and act unlawfully to those states for the 4 years that Trump has done so.

So, in other words, if Trump's collusion with Russia is shown, it not only constitutes treason under U.S. federal law, but it also constitutes treason under the criminal treason laws of the states.
Our source provides an example of how this might work:

Imagine Trump being criminally prosecuted for the crime of treason against the State of Oregon:

(1) A person commits the crime of treason if the person levies war against the State of Oregon or adheres to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. (2) No person shall be convicted of treason unless upon the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act or upon confession in open court.

ORS 166.255 (1) - Oregon State Legislature

Finally, our source wonders about a "rest of the story" element to the SICR:

With this Republican-led U.S. Senate report, do the Senate Republicans know something that we don't? This is almost like that group of Republicans who went to Dick Nixon's White House and told Nixon flat-out that he was through and that if he didn't resign soon and skedaddle out of D.C., that Nixon would be impeached and convicted.

Suppose Trump were to "win" this 2020 election. Seems to me that next year, the House would impeach Trump again, based on this recently released report and the grounds for impeachment would be treason, etc., and colluding with Russians in 2016. How the hell could Republicans vote to save Trump's treasonous ass? This time, the Republicans vote him out and then they get the church-boy Pence as their president. Don't like the thought, but would relish Trump being out so he can start getting hit with all kinds of criminal prosecutions.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Report from Senate Intelligence Committee provides devastating new details about Trump campaign's associations with Russia and Vladimir Putin in 2016


Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin

Donald Trump sought a meeting with Vladimir Putin in 2013. Three years later, Putin personally orchestrated the theft of emails from the Democratic Party and the campaign of Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton. Along the way, Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort put national security at risk because of his interactions with individuals tied to the Kremlin.

Those are among the highlights from a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report that was released yesterday and prompted some Democrats to declare the Trump campaign had, in fact, colluded with Russia in 2016. From a report at The Washington Post:

Five Democrat senators ­— including Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), the party’s 2020 vice-presidential nominee — asserted the report “unambiguously shows that members of the Trump Campaign cooperated with Russian efforts to get Trump elected.” Referring specifically to their findings on Manafort, the Democrats wrote, “This is what collusion looks like.”
How reckless were Manafort's actions? From The Post:

In its nearly 1,000-page report, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee found that Trump’s then-campaign chair Paul Manafort worked with a Russian intelligence officer “on narratives that sought to undermine evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election,” including the idea that purported election interference emanating from Ukraine was of greater concern.

The investigation determined that a Russian attorney who met with Manafort — along with the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and son-in-law Jared Kushner — at Trump Tower ahead of the 2016 election had “significant connections” to the Kremlin. The information she offered them was also “part of a broader influence operation targeting the United States that was coordinated, at least in part with elements of the Russian government,” the report stated. . . .

The report lays out in detail how Manafort — who actively sought a job working for Trump in 2016 — shared information about the campaign with his former Ukrainian business contacts, including Russian intelligence officer Konstantin Kilimnik.

The committee wrote that Manafort and Kilimnik went to significant lengths to keep their contacts hidden and secret, using encrypted apps and even sharing an email account, so they could leave each other messages in the draft folder. Among their initiatives was an effort to promote a theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the U.S. election — a theory Trump has bought into as president.

The revelations about Putin might be the biggest stunner in a stunning report. Even our old "friend" Roger Stone makes an appearance:

The committee did find, however, that Putin personally directed the 2016 hack-and-leak campaign targeting the Democratic Party, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the campaign of Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton. The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks “actively sought and played a key role in the Russian campaign and very likely knew it was assisting a Russian intelligence influence effort,” the report stated, surmising that a Russian military spy agency, known as the GRU, transferred hacked emails to WikiLeaks likely because it offered a more effective platform for publicity than the GRU’s own methods.

Yet investigators could not “reliably determine the extent of authentic, nonpublic knowledge” Trump’s friend Roger Stone had about WikiLeaks’s plans.

The panel noted that its investigation was hampered by several witnesses refusing interviews and requests to produce documents, citing Fifth Amendment rights that protect against self incrimination. These included Stone, Manafort and Gates. The panel requested but did not obtain an interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

An LS lawyer source says the report could set up Trump and Manafort to be prosecuted for treason:

Think about it: A candidate for U.S. president seeks, through surrogates, help from Russia and Putin to win a U.S. election. If that's not treason, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

How deep is the doo-doo that Jay E. Town, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, has stepped in -- apparently because of Balch Bingham?


Jay Town (from banbalch.com)  

Jay E. Town, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, has resigned, but that does not mean his troubles are behind him, according to a report at banbalch.com (BB), under the headline "Balch Stooge Jay E. Town Flees as Probe Continues." Writes BB publisher K.B. Forbes:

Disgraced Ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town resigned his office effective at midnight on July 15, 2020.

Fleeing the corrupt cesspool in the middle of the night, Town’s statement of “wanting to spend more time with his family” is a stock-and-trade, bullshit excuse when political appointees are abruptly shown the door.

Town was an ambitious political animal who spent decades building his image only to see his future crumble when photos were published of him chugging cocktails with former Balch Bingham partner and Alabama Power CEO Mark A. Crosswhite at the Moon Shine Lounge.

And what truly forced him to abruptly quit, resign?

The answer to that question remains murky, but Forbes suggests that current behind-the-scenes activity might shine light on it in the not-too-distant future:

We believe an intense DOJ probe that we, the CDLU, provoked that is looking closely at, among many things, Town’s alleged corrupt assistance and blocking of four FBI investigations in the Newsome Conspiracy Case.

Burt Newsome, a Balch competitor, was targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed starting in 2012 in an alleged conspiracy to steal his business servicing banks.

The case now sits before the Alabama Supreme Court.

No matter how the court rules, the never-ending entanglement has damaged the careers of numerous Balch stooges, including Town, and tarnished the reputation of the once-prestigious law firm.
Balch backers probably did not help their cause by dispatching a team of phony protesters that wound up terrorizing the wrong family in a suburban Birmingham neighborhood:

Just days before Town’s resignation, Balch defenders terrorized the wrong family and orchestrated the worst publicity campaign ever in the defense of Balch.

The foolish efforts flopped and backfired.

And now a resignation will not bring Town’s troubles to an end.

Why not? Forbes provides background:

On the contrary, his resignation amplifies curiosity about what did Town do and when will he answer for his alleged misconduct.

Congressional leaders and oversight aides are being briefed, while more evidence is being dispatched to Main Justice.

Hiding in a corner office of a private, cyber security company and engaging in an examination of conscience, Town must come to terms with opening up about his alleged illicit relationship with Balch, Alabama Power, and Crosswhite.

Inherent goodness shall prevail.

If not, Town would not have resigned, and he, himself, absolutely, positively, and unequivocally knows it.

Monday, August 17, 2020

LGBTQ community earns a major victory before SCOTUS, but pending police-brutality case in Kansas City, MO, indicates much work remains to be done


Kansas City cops rough up Breona Hill.

LGBTQ Americans earned a major victory recently when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it is unlawful to discriminate against them in the workplace. A pending police-brutality case in Kansas City, MO, however, suggests much work remains in the fight for human rights.

KC officers Matthew Brummett and Charles Prichard stand indicted for assault in the 2019 arrest of Breona Hill, a 30-year-old black transgender woman. As seems to be the case in many cases of police violence, a citizen video has played a key role. From a report at metroweekly.com:

Two police officers in Kansas City, Mo., have been indicted on assault charges after they were caught on video using what critics say was excessive force while trying to arrest a transgender woman.

The officers, Matthew Brummett, 37, and Charles Prichard, 47, were charged with fourth-degree assault for their actions when attempting to restrain and handcuff 30-year-old Breona Hill last year.

Prosecutors allege that the video, shot by a passerby on his cell phone, shows the two officers slamming Hill’s face against the concrete sidewalk and kneeing her in the face, torso and ribs at various points during the arrest.

According to the indictment, the officers were called to the scene on May 24, 2019, after Hill became involved in a dispute with the owner of a beauty supply store. The owner phoned police to ask that Hill be removed from the premises.

Prosecutors say Hill allegedly flung slurs and insults at the store owner, and the officers decided to arrest her, charging her with trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The officers later claimed she resisted arrest, and was wrestled to the ground as they attempted to restrain her. Hill was later taken to Truman Medical Center and treated for injuries, including a cut above her right eye and bruises on the left side of her face, reports NBC News.

Hill was later killed in an unrelated shooting in October — becoming the 22nd known transgender or gender-nonconforming person fatally injured in an act of violence in 2019. A suspect has since been charged in that case.

The video of Hill's arrest is graphic and hard to watch. (Video is embedded at the end of this post.) An officer pounds Hill's head, face first, into a concrete sidewalk. Hill also winds up with an officer's knee in the back of her neck, reminiscent of the George Floyd killing by cops in Minneapolis. How did the video come to exist? Metro Weekly explains:

The bystander who filmed Hill’s arrest, Roderick Reed, said he was driving by when he saw an officer punch a woman, prompting him to grab his cell phone and start filming. Reed says he saw Brummett and Prichard kneeling on Hill while Brummett slammed her face into the ground twice. Prosecutors say Hill can be heard moaning and crying in pain, and asking for help. They also claim the actions caught on video don’t match with the officers’ statements about the arrest.

Audio from the cell phone video captures Prichard threatening to take Reed’s phone as evidence and saying Reed is going to get “a ticket,” according to the charging documents. Reed was later cited for allegedly interfering with Hill’s arrest and blocking traffic.
Here's how the Advocate describes the video:

The video “shows the officers kneeing the woman in the face, torso and ribs and forcing her arms over her head while handcuffed,” the AP reports. They are also accused of slamming her face into the sidewalk. She “can be heard moaning and crying in pain” on the video, according to the news service. Hill was black, and the officers are both white.

The head of the KC police union, to no one's surprise, defended the officers' actions, but that did not fly with an attorney for Hill's family:

Brad Lemon, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 99, issued a statement accusing Peters Baker of pursuing “a politically motivated prosecution that is unfortunately becoming all too commonplace across our country.” He also claimed Hill “purposefully struck her head against the concrete” and said the charges against the officers were “unjustified.”

But David Smith, a lawyer for Hill’s family, said that Reed’s video footage proves the officers used excessive force and questioned the sufficiency of the department’s internal investigation.

“The police investigate their own incidents with no outside agency involved,” Smith told The New York Times. “The community is in uproar over this. All you have to do is watch the video. A picture speaks a thousand words, but a video speaks two thousand.”

Smith pulled no punches when describing the officers' actions to The Kansas City Star (subscription only):
Part of Hill’s arrest last May on suspicion of disorderly conduct, trespassing and resisting arrest was captured on video by a passerby’s mobile phone. The footage remains painful to watch. While pinned to the ground, Hill’s face was violently slammed to the pavement.

Other transgressions followed. Photos provided by Hill’s attorney show the painful wounds that resulted.

The attorney, David R. Smith, likened the officers’ behavior on video to that of hardened criminals.

“These officers are thugs,” Smith said.

In the video footage, she did not appear to resist and did not appear to pose a threat to police, herself or others. The aggressive tactics continued long after Hill had been subdued.

Here is more from the Advocate:

Brummett and Prichard said she was resisting arrest and that they used reasonable force. She was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

But a grand jury Friday indicted both officers on charges of fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor. David Smith, a lawyer for Hill’s family, said he was “thrilled” the officers had been charged and was optimistic that the charges would be upgraded to a felony, local TV station KSHB reports. “That’s what these officers deserve,” he told the station.

To the AP, he added, “You don’t treat this woman like a piece of trash because you think she is a freak.” He also provided the media with a photo of Hill showing several bruises on her face, and he called on Police Chief Rick Smith (no relation) to resign.




Thursday, August 13, 2020

Black Lives Matter videos question sincerity of Southern Co. CEO Tom Fanning when he denounces racism while embracing Balch Bingham law firm





Tom Fanning -- CEO of Southern Company, parent firm of Alabama Power -- in early June released a statement denouncing racism in all its forms. But two new videos from Black Lives Matter (BLM) raise questions about the sincerity of Fanning's statement -- given his company's ongoing relationship with Birmingham's Balch Bingham law firm, with its recent history of racially dubious actions.(See videos above and below.)

The first video is titled "Big Oil Stands With Black Lives Matter." How solid is that support? Well, that is uncertain, per globalwitness.org:

Despite Chevron’s public comments in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Global Witness finds that Chevron gives over four times more campaign funding to US politicians who fail to uphold racial justice and civil rights legislation.

As the United States faces a watershed moment in the country’s movement for racial justice, Chevron is aiming to portray itself as an ally to Black communities with public statements of solidarity in the struggle against systemic racism. However, Global Witness found that behind the scenes, the company funnels hundreds of thousands of dollars through its political action committee to politicians whose civil rights voting records earned “F” grades from the NAACP[1]. According to a Global Witness analysis, Chevron gave over 4 times more in political funding to candidates with “failing” civil rights grades than to politicians with “passing” grades, as scored by the civil rights organization’s 2019 Legislative Civil Rights Report Card for the 116th Congress.


K.B. Forbes, publisher of banbalch.com, brings matters closer to home:

An international grassroots effort in the Black community to hold Southern Company CEO Thomas A. Fanning accountable for hypocritically denouncing racism while utilizing the embattled and alleged racist law firm Balch Bingham is now percolating.

Two new videos are out on YouTube and generating buzz. Fanning’s June 6th statement denouncing racism in all its forms is questioned in both videos.

“But sir, was this just a media stunt or a publicity circus?”

The videos discuss items that this website has outlined including:

* The North Birmingham Bribery Scandal that suppressed African-Americans from having their toxic and contaminated property tested by the EPA.

* The letting-go last year of Balch’s only African-American female attorney who headed diversity efforts, while the law firm hired 8 new associates months later, all of them white.

* Balch Bingham’s refusal to apologize to the African-American community of North Birmingham for convicted-felon and ex-Balch partner Joel I. Gilbert’s misconduct.

What were the words Fanning stated quite eloquently earlier this summer? Let's take a look:

I want to follow-up on the public statement the Southern Company Management Council issued one week ago regarding our struggle for racial equality across this nation. I want to be very clear about what this company stands for and what our short- and long-term response will be.

Racism, in any form, is abhorrent. It cannot and will not be accepted, ignored or dismissed. It must be confronted head-on across our society as it is within our company. The time has come to uncover and destroy systemic racism in all its forms.

We find ourselves in a critical and historic time. While we could be secure in knowing that justice and equality are embedded in Our Values – the ethical and moral compass that centers us – ultimately, we must realize that there is more work to be done and that we are being called to do it.

This week, we asked employees to share their voice to have it be heard by our organizational leaders as we consider additional solutions moving forward. I thank those who have taken the time to present their thoughts and feelings.

I reviewed the feedback with the Southern Company Management Council earlier today. We agreed that it is so important for all of us to keep the conversations going and listen to one another. Out of the different themes that arose, one question stands out: How do we make sure this time is different?

Those are powerful words. But BLM raises this question: Do they mean anything, as long as Fanning embraces a racially insensitive law firm, such as Balch Bingham?


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Roger Stone's network of Facebook frauds sent a barrage of profane, warped, and nonsensical language in cyber stalking campaign against Legal Schnauzer


Roger Stone
(Part 3 -- Warning: Post contains profane language)

(Click here for Part 1)

(Click here for Part 2)

What is it like to be targeted for a cyber harassment campaign by a disinformation network associated with Trump ally and GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone -- a network Facebook disbanded because of its use of fake accounts and phony personas?

Graphika, an NYC-based firm that uses artificial intelligence to analyze social-media activity, provided several examples of messages the Stone network sent to Legal Schnauzer (LS) -- along with our response to them. Let's take a journey through the misguided minds of individuals who participated in the Stone network, courtesy of the Graphika report.

First, what types of LS reports seemed to spark ire, even outrage, in the Stoners? I addressed that question in a couple of posts, first in one dated January 6, 2017:

The ugly e-mails started around the middle of November [2016] after we wrote posts about two Alabamians -- Jeff Sessions (Trump's pick for U.S. attorney general) and Bill Pryor (a Sessions protege and likely Trump nominee for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court).
I povided more details in a post dated December 15, 2016:

The deluge of comments, most of which I deleted or sent to spam, seem to come in several categories -- rants about the defamation lawsuit GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison brought against me, rants about the first nude Bill Pryor photo . . .  rants about our reporting on "Luv Guv" Robert Bentley and his adviser/mistress Rebekah Caldwell Mason, rants about alleged violations here of the Child Protection Act (related to the Pryor photo), bogus claims of e-mail communications with me, and general harassing, profanity-filled tirades.
With that as a backdrop, let's look at samples from the Graqphika report:

The Jessica Garrison Lawsuit

(1) Trumpista (sent 12/2/16) -- "They already served you, and YOU are the one responsible for updating your mailing address. . . . They served you at your self-provided last known address, and that was sufficient. (The) judge did not accept (your) lawyer's shuffling excuses, and you lost because you didn't notify the court or check the docket. Frankly, I think you failed to update the court deliberately, in hopes you would delay proceedings.

The Truth -- The first sentence tells you this anonymous commenter (they all are anonymous or appear to use fake names) is clueless. The issue in the Garrison case is not that I wasn't served originally; it's that I never received notice of Garrison's default-judgment application and hearing. Alabama law requires that a plaintiff (Garrison) provide three days' notice -- the burden is on Garrison, not me -- and it's undisputed that Garrison provided zero notice; the docket indicates she did not even try. That's why I did not appear for the hearing, why her default-judgment was entered without opposition, and why it now is void. Notice that the Trumpista relies on emotion and unsupported assertions and zero citations to law. That's a style we've seen over and over.

(2) Trumpista (sent 12/3/16) -- "If the (default) motion didn't reach you it's because you avoided it. And the judge didn't give you any slack. His ruling isn't void or voidable, because his ruling is a discretionary one. It doesn't really matter, of course, whether the judgment is void or voidable, because you are judgment proof. You might have collection attempts made in the future if you ever inherit anything or win a lottery. They've got 20 years to collect.

The Truth -- Alabama law could not be more clear on this. Without proper notice to defendant, an order of default is void, and it is not a matter of judicial discretion. Alabama law says such an order "is void, not merely voidable." (See Abernathy v. Green Tree Servicing.) In fact, the order can be attacked as void at any time; there is no time limit on having the order declared a nullity. (See McConico v. Patterson.) Again, notice the Trumpista makes no citation to law; I suspect that's because the law does not matter to her and her brethren. She only cares about coming out on top in a corrupt world and harassing those who don't share her warped worldview.

"Luv Guv" Bentley and his main squeeze, Rebekah Caldwell Mason

Trumpista (sent 11/30/16) -- "My husband and I pay our taxes, Mr. Shuler, allowing people like you to live off social services. Oh, don't think we don't know all about your current circumstances. Confidential my ass. You sick fuck.

"I don't usually swear, but when someone is a sick fuck -- like Roger Shuler -- I call them a sick fuck. Seriously, I've never been so sympathetic toward redneck police before reading about what has happened to Shuler.

:Shuler needs an ethics checker. I never claimed to be intelligent, but I'm not an old pervy prick like you, Shuler."

The Truth -- Now, that was enlightening, wasn't it? That was attached to a post about Bentley and Mason, although I don't know why. After all, Bentley supported John Kasich, not Trump. Anyway, it's nice to know that a person who uses the term "sick fuck" over and over doesn't normally swear. Must be one of Trump's supporters from the religious right.

The nude Pryor photo is of an under-aged teen, pointing to a violation of the Child Protection Act
Trumpista (sent 11/28/16) -- "We are legally and morally obligated to report content online that we reasonably believe does not comply with the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act. Period, full stop. You cannot prove that the nude image you published is of a person 18 years of age or older. This is not in dispute at all.

"We will keep reporting your site, FOREVER, to make sure that your abusive exploitation of children and adults is flagged by Google, Bing, and everyone else. I think you can expect us to never give up.

"You produce fake news that abuses women and children."

The Truth -- This came from a repeat commenter who calls herself "Sarah." I have multiple law-enforcement and legal figures on tape saying the photo was taken while THE Bill Pryor was a student at Northeast Louisiana University (now Louisiana Monroe) and, like most college students, he was 18 or over. The Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act " places stringent record-keeping requirements on the producers of actual, sexually explicit materials. The guidelines for enforcing these laws . . . require producers of sexually explicit material to obtain proof of age for every model they shoot, and retain those records." Is Legal Schnauzer a "producer of sexually explicit material," one who "shoots models"? Not exactly. I pointed this out to "Sarah," but she wasn't interested in hearing it because it is . . . the truth.


I'm telling you that we communicated via e-mail, and you said ugly things to me!

Trumpista (sent 11/28/16) -- "I've engaged Mr. Shuler twice now through email about important issues, and each time he has ended up demanding to know "who I am working for" and my home address. Well, he has my real name (twice now!) but not my address, because we all know what he will do with that information: try and connect me with his other "enemies" in his vast, impossible conspiracy, and then sexually smear me (I'm a woman).

The Truth -- This was another missive from "Sarah." I told her I had no memory of communicating with someone who went only by the first name of Sarah, and that I had checked my records and found no such communications. I asked "Sarah" to send me copies of such e-mails and -- surprise, surprise -- I'm still waiting for them.


Cursing and harassing up a storm

Trumpista (sent 11/30/16) -- "I don't usually swear, but when someone is a sick fuck -- like Roger Shuler -- I call them a sick fuck."

The Truth -- I don't have anything to add. Just had to repeat that classic.

Trumpista (sent 11/29/16) -- "Coward. You endanger children. Coward. You whore out your wife. Coward. You lie. You lie. Coward. You hate children."

The Truth -- Something tells me this person thinks I'm a coward. And "you whore out your wife"? Where on earth did that come from? As you can see, this person is more than a little unhinged, and I've received several dozen similar comments.

So, the "post-truth" world is coming? My mailbox says it's already here.
Is this as vile as the Stoners get? Nope. We have other examples that probably are more twisted than these.

Plus, we have this question: Did the Stoners limit themselves to digital harassment or did they engage in other forms of dirty tricks against my wife, Carol, and me. We will address those issues in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Our reporting on Jeff Sessions, Bill Pryor, and other Alabama politicos made us a target for a Roger Stone cyber harassment campaign via fake Facebook pages


Roger Stone and Donald Trump
(Part 2)

(Click here for Part 1)

How did Legal Schnauzer land amidst Facebook's takedown of pages and accounts associated with Donald Trump ally and self-proclaimed GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone, a story that made global headlines last week?

Facebook released a report on July 8 about its internal investigation, titled "Removing Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior," focusing primarily on the size, scope, and fraudulent nature of the Stone network.

Sarah Jameson
 Last Friday, New York City-based Graphika, which uses artificial intelligence to analyze social media issued a followup report titled "Facebook's Roger Stone Takedown," which focused on how the Stone network operated, the messages it sent, and the people it targeted. Partially with help of search warrants from the Robert Mueller investigation, Graphika determined I was one of those targets. The report provides details about the barrage of nasty, profane comments and emails we began receiving around November 2016. Graphika shines light on just how crude and threatening Stone -- and perhaps other Trump allies -- can be, targeting Legal Schnauzer for what likely can best be described as a cyber harassment and cyber stalking campaign.

Graphika begins describing my experience with the Stone network on page 26 of the report, under the sub-heading "Harassing Behavior":

Harassing Behavior

Some of the network’s activity also suggests harassment or incitement to harassment, sometimes in a coordinated fashion. One such incident was attributed to the “Sarah Jameson” persona. According to legal blog “Legal Schnauzer” in January 2017, a persona with this name sent the blogger at least one “argumentative and ugly” email. A persona more broadly called “Sarah” sent many more messages. The blogger associated the emails with the Facebook account and included a copy of its profile picture.

What seemed to prompt rage-filled responses from the Stone surrogates?  I addressed that question in a post dated January 6, 2017:

Evidence in our spam folder here at Legal Schnauzer suggests a Donald Trump ally and former Richard Nixon dirty trickster somehow is involved in a series of harassing, profanity-filled e-mails we started receiving about seven weeks ago.

The ugly e-mails started around the middle of November after we wrote posts about two Alabamians -- Jeff Sessions (Trump's pick for U.S. attorney general) and Bill Pryor (a Sessions protege and likely Trump nominee for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court).

Were the nasty comments from Stone's network sparked only by our coverage of Sessions and Pryor? Oh, no. Other Alabama-related reports set them off, as I noted in a post dated December 15, 2016:

What were the nutty, creepy comments that we received after our recent reports on Donald Trump nominee Jeff Sessions and likely nominee Bill Pryor? Are the comments connected to longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, a frequent guest on the Alex Jones InfoWars show and admitted associate of the WikiLeaks operation that produced hacked e-mails from the Hillary Clinton campaign?

We will save that second question for another day? But we will dive right in on the first question and note that the deluge of comments, most of which I deleted or sent to spam, seem to come in several categories -- rants about the defamation lawsuit GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison brought against me, rants about the first nude Bill Pryor photo (a second one is coming), rants about our reporting on "Luv Guv" Bentley and his adviser/mistress Rebekah Caldwell Mason, rants about alleged violations here of the Child Protection Act (related to the Pryor photo), bogus claims of e-mail communications with me, and harassing, profanity-filled tirades.

I ran a few of these comments and tried to engage the sender in fact or reason-based dialogue. It soon became apparent that was a waste of time.

We even received nasty comments related to our reports on the unlawful eviction that led Missouri deputies to break my wife Carol's arm. Not content to claim Carol somehow broke her own arm, the Stone bunch included wildly defamatory comments about Carol, even worse than what they said bout me. Of course, these people supported a "pussy grabber" for president, so it probably should be no surprise that they would attack a woman -- even one who had been the victim of police brutality.

Want a sampling of messages that appeared to come from the Stone network, along with my response, in a few cases? Here is one from the Graphika report:


The First Nude Bill Pryor Photograph (It's not him, it's not him!)
Trumpista (sent 11/25/16) -- "You can see what I've told you. Natural (hair) parts do not change over time by themselves. Pryor would have no reason to force a part change, the mid face is not the same, it's visible, measurable, and philtrums grow longer, not shorter with age. Pryor's ears are set higher. He has deviations in his nasal cartilage not visible in the pic of the adolescent nude. The nasal bridge and eye socket are different. You are a liar if you pretend measurable differences are not visible.

"You don't have anyone who investigated the photo on tape saying there was a finding that the picture was of him. You can't, because there was no such finding, and the picture is of someone else."

The Truth -- This person was asked to give her name, contact information, and any expertise upon which the claims are made. Of course, that information was not forthcoming. I have multiple law-enforcement officials and legal insiders -- some of them on tape -- stating that they were involved in an investigation of the Pryor photos when they first surfaced, they traced the photos to Monroe, Louisiana, (where Pryor went to college), and it is, in fact, the Bill Pryor who now is a federal judge. The commenter, by the way, has no answer for the fact that both the young and older Pryor have strabismus (crossed eyes) and attached ear lobes, relatively rare conditions.

We will present more samples, cited by Graphika, in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)

Monday, August 10, 2020

Legal Schnauzer winds up in the middle of Facebook's effort to remove fraudulent accounts associated with Trump ally and GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone


Roger Stone
In January 2017, we published a post in which I expressed suspicions that someone associated with Donald Trump ally and GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone had targeted Legal Schnauzer for a stream of vile, profane, and threatening comments. Turns out we were right.

Facebook made international headlines last Friday with reports that the cybersecurity firm Graphika had determined that Stone and his associates created a disinformation network that prompted Facebook to launch a takedown effort of fake accounts that stretched from Canada to Brazil, from Ecuador to Ukraine. From a report at the South Florida SunSentinel, which covers Stone's home base of Fort Lauderdale:

Roger Stone spent a half-century honing his skills as a political operator and building a reputation as a stop-at-nothing dirty trickster, in support of a range of big-name politicians and causes, including Donald Trump and Richard Nixon.

Now, a report from the cybersecurity firm Graphika suggests that Stone — who in recent years has become one of Fort Lauderdale’s best-known residents — was able to translate his real-world approach to the online world, exploiting the social media platform Facebook as he pursued goals that included promoting Trump and himself.

A closer look at the document shows how the Sunshine State emerged as an epicenter for the disinformation network, which set out to meddle in Florida politics and beyond.

The social media giant ultimately took down a network of 54 Facebook accounts, 50 pages and four from Instagram, another social media site it owns. A map showed 15 locations of the accounts were in Florida, mostly along the east coast from Vero Beach to Miami; a handful were elsewhere.

Some pages associated with Stone promoted Stone, and often his books. Some attempted to influence legislation and criticized enemies — including Hillary Clinton — sometimes with negative messages. Some used fake names and were illustrated with faces found on the internet.

Our investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates,” Facebook said. Some had links to the far-right group Proud Boys, Facebook said.
Facebook apparently spared no expense in tracking the Stone network. From Facebook's report on its internal investigation:

We found this network as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region. Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to political consultants and former government employees in Ecuador and Estraterra, a Canada-based PR firm. Estraterra is now banned from our platforms.

Several of these Pages had links to Proud Boys, a hate group we banned in 2018. Some Pages appeared to have acquired followers from Pakistan and Egypt to make themselves seem more popular than they were. This network — which was also active on other internet platforms — was most active between 2015 and 2017. Since then, the majority of these accounts have been dormant, and some were permanently deleted by the users. The Page admins and account owners posted about local politics in Florida, Roger Stone and his Pages, websites, books, and media appearances.

Stone's social network unraveled primarily because of his ties to the Proud Boys and Robert Mueller's investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal from the 2016 presidential election. From the internal Facebook report:

We first started looking into this network as part of our investigation into the Proud Boys’ attempts to return to Facebook after we had designated and banned them from the platform. We identified the full scope of this network following the recent public release of search warrants pertaining to the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in response to a joint petition from The New York Times, CNN, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and Politico. Our investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates.

How does Legal Schnauzer enter the picture? The SunSentinel explains:

The [Facebook] report, issued last month, tied one example of online harassment by the network to a Sarah Jameson Facebook account, which purported to be a woman living in Plantation.
Sarah Jameson
Roger Shuler, who writes an online blog called “Legal Schnauzer,” said he received a barrage of profanity-laden emails from some claiming to be a “Sarah Jameson” in 2015 and 2016. The person emailing was upset over Shuler’s critical posts about then-U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and federal Judge Bill Pryor.

Shuler said he looked up Jameson’s Facebook page and found a “Roger Stone shrine.” It seemed bizarre enough for him to write on his blog about the account with only 18 friends and posts promoting Stone.

“I definitely had suspicions that it was a fake account or a false identity,” Shuler said. “It was kind of like a fan-girl page. Not much in-depth information. Whoever it was seemed to like Roger Stone for some reason.”

“It made me wonder: Roger Stone is known for dirty tricks. Was he involved in some of this?” Shuler added.

The Mueller search warrants apparently helped prove, among other things, that Stone and Co. targeted Legal Schnauzer for what likely can best be described as a cyber harassment and cyber stalking campaign. Ours is the only blog mentioned in the Graphika report as a specific target of the Stone network:

Similarly, a Facebook account called “Sarah Jameson” that Facebook identified as part of the network matched names and profile pictures with an account called @S_jameson82 on Twitter. The Twitter account was created in 2016 and stopped posting in early 2017; of its 20 most recent posts, 11 focused on Stone or advertised his books. Most of the rest focused on Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016 and the controversy over his ban on immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries in early 2017.

Some of the network’s activity also suggests harassment or incitement to harassment, sometimes in a coordinated fashion. One such incident was attributed to the “Sarah Jameson” persona. According to legal blog “Legal Schnauzer” in January 2017, a persona with this name sent the blogger at least one “argumentative and ugly” email. A persona more broadly called “Sarah” sent many more messages. The blogger associated the emails with the Facebook account and included a copy of its profile picture.

How ugly did the messages from "Sarah" get? We will address that question in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Is Dr. Anthony Fauci's credibility in tatters after he seemingly buckled to political pressure and endorsed opening schools amidst COVID-19 pandemic?


Dr. Athony Fauci

Has Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's most prominent infectious-diseases expert, sullied his credibility by stating U.S. schools should be able ro open safely this fall despite the coronavirus pandemic? Have persistent bullying from Donald Trump -- and reported threats against Fauci and his family -- created a level of intimidation that caused Fauci to jump on the Trump Train to open schools, consequences be damned?

Those questions came to mind earlier this week after Fauci, the nation's most trusted voice on the COVID-19 crisis, said schools should be able to open safely, in the face of published reports suggesting that is not likely to happen. From an article at CNN:

Schools and college campuses across the country should be OK to reopen, but officials need to proceed with caution and make safety a priority, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.

The default position with K-12 schools should be to reopen them, said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

There are two big reasons schools should go back to in-person learning, Fauci said Monday. Students need the psychological and nutritional benefits of being in school, and parents may have to "dramatically modify their work schedule."

Notice that the "two big reasons" Fauci cites for reopening schools have nothing to do with safety of children, teachers, administrators, or others in the classroom environment. This doesn't sound like the same guy Americans have come to trust as a straight shooter. And what about those ominous reports Fauci seems to be ignoring? One comes from the Chicago Tribune, under the headline "Children may carry high levels of the coronavirus, up to 100 times as much as adults, new Lurie Children’s Hospital study finds":

It has been a comforting refrain in the national conversation about reopening schools: Young children are mostly spared by the coronavirus and don’t seem to spread it to others, at least not very often.

But Thursday, a study introduced an unwelcome wrinkle into this smooth narrative.

Infected children have at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats as infected adults, according to the research. Indeed, children younger than age 5 may host up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract as adults, the authors found.

That measurement does not necessarily prove that children are passing the virus to others. Still, the findings should influence the debate over reopening schools, several experts said.

“The school situation is so complicated. There are many nuances beyond just the scientific one,” said Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, who led the study, published in JAMA Pediatrics. “But one takeaway from this is that we can’t assume that just because kids aren’t getting sick, or very sick, that they don’t have the virus.”

From a commentary by Mark Karlin at BuzzFlash:

Indeed, the CDC, which just a few days ago succumbed to the political pressure of the Trump White House and announced that schools were safe to open, has now, just a short time later, come to the inevitable recognition of what the scientific data reveals: “A new [CDC] report suggests that children of all ages are susceptible to coronavirus infection and may also spread it to others….”

BuzzFlash has written two recent commentaries on actual statistics from the most pro-Trump pandemic raging Red States that indicate widespread presence of the Coronavirus among young people, including infants, 1-10 year olds and teenagers. There are many examples of transmission between adults and children at summer camps, and even at daycare centers. We do know that more than 1300 confirmed infections occurred in Texas child care centers. That includes 441 children. The numbers have risen as Texas, one of the states exploding with Coronavirus, has experienced increasing infection.

In addition, many summer camps experienced large cluster outbreaks among students and camp counselors. The Daily Beast reported on July 31 that a Georgia overnight camp opened on June 21 and closed on June 27 because 76 percent of the campers who were tested for the Coronavirus came back positive. Other campers, with a median age of 12, still remain to be tested, which means the positivity rate may still be higher.

The other troubling report comes from a Washington Post op-ed by Arizona school superintendent Jeff Gregorich:

This is my choice, but I’m starting to wish that it wasn’t. I don’t feel qualified. I’ve been a superintendent for 20 years, so I guess I should be used to making decisions, but I keep getting lost in my head. I’ll be in my office looking at a blank computer screen, and then all of the sudden I realize a whole hour’s gone by. I’m worried. I’m worried about everything. Each possibility I come up with is a bad one.

The governor has told us we have to open our schools to students on August 17th, or else we miss out on five percent of our funding. I run a high-needs district in middle-of-nowhere Arizona. We’re 90 percent Hispanic and more than 90 percent free-and-reduced lunch. These kids need every dollar we can get. But covid is spreading all over this area and hitting my staff, and now it feels like there’s a gun to my head. I already lost one teacher to this virus. Do I risk opening back up even if it’s going to cost us more lives? Or do we run school remotely and end up depriving these kids?

Some of these kids are out in the wilderness right now, and school is the best place for them. We all agree on that. But every time I start to play out what that looks like on August 17th, I get sick to my stomach. More than a quarter of our students live with grandparents. These kids could very easily catch this virus, spread it and bring it back home. It’s not safe. There’s no way it can be safe.

If you think anything else, I’m sorry, but it’s a fantasy. Kids will get sick, or worse. Family members will die. Teachers will die.