Jun 28, 2017

Ruthelle Frank, Civil Rights Worker, Dies at 89

Ruthelle Regina Frank, (August 21, 1927 - June 4, 2017)
Ruthelle Frank lived in the tiny village of Brokaw in northern Wisconsin. She led a life as a public servant and a public intellectual.

Ms. Frank died this week at 89, (Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune).

The last six years Ruthelle Frank has been the co-plaintiff in the major federal voting rights case, Frank v. Walker, still being litigated at the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, (Wisconsin Public Radio, ACLU,).

On March 9, 2012, I had the pleasure to speak with Ruthelle Frank by phone in Brokaw, (Mal Contends), following rightwing attacks against Dane County Judge David Flanagan and Dane County Judge Richard G. Niess after the judges had ordered injunctions of Wisconsin Republicans' photo voter ID law, litigated simultaneously in state court, (The Capital Times, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker, Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker,).

Said Frank, in a previously published piece in Mal Contends:

'I have been living here 83 years; everybody knows me. We [Brokaw] have 194 people. I maybe could have voted last month illegally,' Frank said. 'I wasn't allowed to vote legally though, because I didn't have a valid Wisconsin ID.'
'My motto is: You don't use what you have, you lose it. But I have never seen treatment like this, what is going on,' said Frank. 'I'm fighting for everyone who has lost his [voting] rights. This isn't right, it's just plain crazy. Just because we're old, and can't get around like we're young doesn't mean we're stupid and can't think and shouldn't be able to vote.'

Asked about GOP criticism of Dane County Judge David Flanagan's temporary injunction barring implementation of the voter ID law while having signed a recall Walker petition, Frank said, 'as far as I'm concerned, he has an opinion about Scott Walker and he [Flanagan] has to live his own life, you're not supposed to speak what you believe in?'

Frank whose story was broken by Robert Mentzer last year in the Wausau Daily Herald, sang the praises of old-school journalism, singling out Mentzer.

'I called up Bob Mentzer of the Wausau Daily Herald and told him what was going on; and he just said, 'he's driving over,'' said Frank.

As the state and federal law suits against voter ID laws across the country continue, Frank said she is optimistic and ready for the fight.

'We're going to make it, we're are not going to crawl under a rock. I'm talked to people from California, Washington and even had a relative in Florida call me after seeing me on [Rachel Maddow]. Keep writing and thank you for spreading the story,' Frank said.

Ruthelle Frank, (1927-2017), lived her life and fought for her rights and those of her fellow Wisconsinites with whom Ms. Frank felt she gave a common effort.

Jun 25, 2017

NYT Video Shows Police Execution of Philando Castile—Watch, Bear Witness, then Summer Fun

Four-year-old girl tried to calm her distraught mother,
Diamond Reynolds, after killer cop, Jeronimo Yanez,
gunned down Philando Castile in 2016 in Minnesota, (CNN).
Yanez was acquitted in June 2017.

Why victims of American police state don't take to local paper or social media and complain: Fear of the police

: Madison, Wisconsin police officer, Angela Kamoske, reacts in Minnesota paper.
There is embedded in our political culture a fascistic character of the American citizenry.

This unthinking tendency manifests post-911 as the cult of the police—an evangelical, ideological deference to law enforcement that is so powerful, police can execute a citizen in cold blood on video and the majority of the white populace will applaud or look away.

But this cult is of the most insidious strain, mutated into unacknowledged fear of the police and a pathological aversion to thinking.

I joined a small, local Facebook group in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, curious to see how this liberal segregated community of 25,000 would respond to an image of the police killing of Philando Castile from Minnesota in the days following the acquittal of the killer cop, Jeronimo Yanez.

The Castile image is of the man's blood staining a white t-shirt, presumably exit wounds sustained after bullets pierced Castile's heart.

Facebook comments ranged from an admonishing complaint that the Castile image is "distasteful" to a demand, (subsequently granted), that the image of Philando Castile be taken down.

Distasteful. No comments were posted criticizing this murder, the killer cop, acclaiming the humanity of Castile or expressing sympathy for the Castile family.

This is roughly what I expected.

This Summer Americans will witness 100s of new police killings of the citizenry, most of which will meet with the overwhelming approval of white America, cheered on by the Trump administration, (Cop Block, Killed by Police).

Ever wonder why victims of the American police state do not take to the local paper or social media and complain? The answer is fear of the police in the land of the free and home of the brave, a well-founded fear.

Consider. Would anyone after being terrorized or witnessing terror inflicted by the police complain to the local Fusion Center that police are terrorizing innocents? How about a young, black woman profiled, harassed, demeaned, arrested and traumatized by police? Now, consider a complaint to the Fusion Center: Hey, the police are terrorizing me, what can you do about it?

Is this really the only possible society attainable? Orwell would puke were he alive.

Today is June 25, Sunday. Over the weekend four more people were killed by cops, (Killed by Police).

One hopes the American people live life happy and have a great Summer. It's truly beautiful outside.

But please first bare witness and view Yousur Al-hlou's narrative video in the New York Times of the police execution of Philando Castile, then rock out the Summer.

Consider as well, reading two of the great anti-fascist works of the 20th century: They Thought They Were FreeThe Germans, 1933-45 by Milton Mayer, (University of Chicago Press. ©1955), Warrant for Genocide: the Myth of the Jewish World-conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, (Harper and Row, 1967), by Norman Cohn.

From Milton Mayer:

'What no one seemed to notice,' said a colleague of mine, a philologist, 'was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.

'What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

'This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.'

Consider as well Glenn Greenwald's  No Place to Hide, Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State.

Jun 22, 2017

Eliminationist Rhetoric of the Most Deadly

Four-year-old girl tried to calm her distraught mother,
Diamond Reynolds, after cop, Jeronimo Yanez, gunned
down Philando Castile in July 2016 in Minnesota, (CNN).
Yanez was acquitted in June 2017.

Stop police death squads. How many must die?

No doubt the Minnesota cop unions got a nice laugh out of the acquittal of killer cop, Jeronimo Yanez.

Sick, heartless killer cops like Yanez walk away from the shattered lives of their brutality and a well-vetted collection of jurors watch a black man, Philando Castile, murdered on video and inform black Americans: Tough, your lives don't matter.

This is the verdict from Minnesota. Few minority Americans were surprised.

If you were a cop in Minnesota, what would you do? Would you speak up, write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper and say: 'Philando Castile was not killed in my name, I do not support the killer, Jeronimo Yanez. My heart and my support go to the family of Philando Castile?'

Such decency is unthinkable from a cop, but how about us? Who will condemn killing of our fellows?

If you are a cop anywhere, what would you do? Speak out? Any cop reading this piece today. Put your name to text, identify yourself as a cop, and compose a comment. I'll run it.

Today is June 22, 2017, roughly half-way through the calendar year. As of this date, 569 people have been killed by cops. By Dec. 31, 2017 people killed by cops will exceed 1,000. You can count on it.

Philando Castile was shot through the chest and killed by cop
to the approval of fellow cops and Minnesota jury. Cops
got another one.
Remember Philando Castile, human being.
From the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild suggesting protection from killer cops in 2016. No such protection has been adopted to this date:

By National Lawyers Guild - Minnesota Chapter:

The National Lawyers Guild - Minnesota Chapter unconditionally condemns in the strongest possible terms the murder of Philando Castile by St. Anthony Village police officer Jeronimo Yanez. The NLG expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences to Mr. Castile’s family and loved ones.

It is a tremendous outrage that the repeated unjustifiable police killings, especially of African American males, have become such common knowledge yet continue unabated. While no one deserves to die at the hands of law enforcement, there is no pretext for police to attempt to rationalize the murder of Mr. Castile because he had so clearly done nothing wrong, was an exemplary citizen, and the horrendous death and police indifference to the effects of their actions was so painfully captured on cell phone video.

The NLG demands that government leaders end their pattern of enforcing the continued deadly status quo by failing to take any concrete action to hold police accountable or enact any meaningful reforms. The salience of this latest atrocity must spur immediate action to hold the responsible police officer accountable and initiate systemic change to end the serial police killings as well as the larger dynamic of police abuse and oppression in communities of color. The NLG recognizes that the most affected communities must have a voice in the specific changes to made, but calls for the following actions to be taken immediately:

1. A special independent prosecutor must be appointed to investigate and bring criminal charges against the murderer in this case. The special prosecutor must be independent of police influence, and have access to funding needed to hire investigators, experts, associates and cover other expenses needed to conduct a full investigation and prosecution. Responses to previous police shootings have repeatedly and invariably demonstrated that elected and career prosecutors are too beholden to police interests to be capable to delivering justice. The Ramsey County Attorney, the governor, and other appropriate officials must collaborate to make the special independent prosecutor a reality.

2. The office of an independent prosecutor must be permanently established to investigate and prosecute cases of deadly force and other abusive police conduct.

3. Minnesota law must be amended so that police officers have no more authority to use deadly force than other citizens. Specifically, Minnesota Statute § 609.066 which authorizes use of deadly force by peace officers must be repealed.

4. A special civilian commission must be established to propose specific, comprehensive and systemic reforms to police powers, policies, and governance. A majority of the commission must include representatives of communities disproportionately harmed by police abuse.

Jun 20, 2017

Wisconsin Voter Obstruction Is as Republican as Racism and Corruption

Fitchburg Wisconsin — Wisconsin is regarded by civil rights workers as the worst state to be black and brown in America.

But not only because most white Republicans work to ship minorities into prisons and segregated sectors in Wisconsin's few urban regions of significant populations.

Blacks are targeted at the polls.

Republicans and only Republicans engineered the transformation of Wisconsin election law in an ambitious project to "disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government," in the words of Judge Richard Posner of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in a major voting rights case still being litigated, (Mal Contends, Mal Contends, The Progressive).

Among those likely to vote against the Republican Party are the easily identifiable folks of black and brown skin color.

Though nationally the Republicans' obstructive photo voter ID law garnered wide attention, dozens of party-line statutes have been passed by Republicans since 2011, (Ferral, The Capital Times).

The Republican gerrymandering effort intended to stop non-Republicans from using the polling place to safeguard their interests is one major objective of the Republican anti-voting project, (ScotusBlogElection Law).

Obstruct Voters Locally

Other Republican initiatives include white poll workers interrogating voters at the polls, and in an escalation of conspicuous hostility the use of expensive civil citations against voting rights activists: Me.

This Summer Mal Contends will litigate two bogus disorderly conduct civil citations issued by the city of Fitchburg, Wisconsin against me.

One citation was written on August 9, 2016, Fall Primary Election Day. This citation will be argued in front of a jury this Summer in Dane County Circuit Court.

A second citation was written on May 10, 2017 alleging even more misconduct on Aug. 9, 2016 and served seconds after the litigation of the first citation in Municipal Court resulted in a judicial ruling of no fine. The presiding Municipal Judge, Hamdy Ezalarab, recused himself from hearing the second citation which will heard at trial on Aug. 3 at 6:00 p.m by a substitute judge

The Fitchburg City Attorney's office, Mark R Sewell and Valerie A. Zisman, is engaged in misconduct and malicious prosecutions, among other violations of ethics which I will pursue in the future.

Stay posted. This may appear light stuff from a small, corrupt Wisconsin city. It's not light stuff. From an email sent by me to the Wisconsin Elections Commission on Aug. 5, 2016, four days before I was obstructed from voting on Aug 9, received the first two of four visits to our home by armed Fitchburg Police, and received the first of now two civil disorderly conduct citations:

From: Mike Leon [ ...]
Sent: Friday, August 05, 2016 8:42 AM
To: Lowe, Diane - ELECTIONS
Subject: Polling Place
Importance: High


Could you email me a URL or GAB (WEC) memo that would indicate how many election inspectors are supposed to hand out ballots at a table in a polling place? I believe it to be two.

A ... chief election inspector in our polling place, where I worked on April 5, positioned one election inspector at the ballots table, and predictably quite a voter bottleneck ensued.

Other elections to my memory featured two inspectors on ballots.

I need a memo or other publicly available authority on this two-people-on-ballots question.

I emailed our election and city clerk, around late April on this but no one got back to me. They are not too crazy about questions RE what they regard as their apparent turf, though I believe myself as a resident and long-time election inspector to be a stakeholder.

Administering elections should be about rules and regulations, to my view.


Jun 19, 2017

Mueller Team Investigating Trump-Campaign-Russia Has Fixable Problem

Updated - A Reuters report by Karen Freifeld this morning notes the prosecutorial experience of two members of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller's team: Andrew Weissmann and Kathryn Ruemmler, (New York Times).

Weissman and Ruemmler have garnered plaudits, yet, Weissman and Ruemmler share a troubled history as prosecutors. One wonders why this history does not inform national reporting as indictment Summer begins.

Freifeld's Reuters report notes of Andrew Weissman that he "headed the U.S. Justice Department's criminal fraud section before joining Mueller's team last month, is best known for two assignments - the investigation of now-defunct energy company Enron and organized crime cases in Brooklyn, New York - that depended heavily on gaining witness cooperation."

Omitted is Weissman's conduct on the Enron Task Force that to any fair observer is appalling. Ever hear of the proven innocent James Arthur Brown of Merrill Lynch? Likely not. Bill Fuhs?

Bill Fuhs was pursued by Weissman and colleagues under the ludicorus "honest services" provision of a federal wire fraud statute, (Powell, Enron Barge). Brown was later proven innocent, and on two counts was effectively relieved of the charge stacking-induced perjury and obstruction of justice criminal counts in 2015. [If you live in Wisconsin, mention of honest services may bring to mind the corrupt prosecution of the proven innocent Georgia Thompson in 2007, (U.S. v. Georgia L. Thompson, argued and decided on April 5, 2007))]

Bill Fuhs should never have been indicted, and the prosecutions are a stain on the United States Department of Justice and the American federal judiciary.

Consider as well Kathryn Ruemmler of the Mueller team.

As noted by one of the nation's foremost federal appellate attorneys, Sidney Powell, Ruemmler ignored the mandates of the Brady Rule to disclose exculpatory evidence in the same criminal persecution that her colleague, Andrew Weissmann pursued, in the Enron mania:

They, [Weissmann and Kathryn Ruemmler], not only hid the exculpatory evidence they had yellow-highlighted, [revealing intent of prosecutors to ignore clear evidence], but in defiance of a court order, they gave the defendants misleading summaries instead.

Even the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, whose record on the Enron Task Force’s trials was embarrassing at best with several Supreme Court reversals, held that Ruemmler and her team 'plainly suppressed' evidence favorable to the defense. That finding establishes a clear violation of ethical rule 3.8–not to mention the Supreme Court’s admonition that the United States Attorney 'seek justice.' This is NOT what we would call 'impeccable legal credentials' or 'impeccable judgment'–unless that kind of calculated dishonesty and win-at-any-cost mentality is exactly what you want. Indeed, why is she still practicing law?, (Seeking Justice).

Staffing up one of the most monumental investigative units in American history is not off to an even start.

Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to this republic.

So, why is Robert S. Mueller even considering Andrew Weissmann and Kathryn Ruemmler when their records reveal they pursued innocents, acted without regard to ethics, effectively betraying our country no less?

Trump's PR messages now is that Robert Mueller's investigative dream team is engaging in a withhunt.

With Weissmann and Ruemmleron on the team, the accusation has at least prior plausibility.

My god, Robert Mueller, please don't screw this up. Staff should be beyond reproach.

Consider that prosecutors who pursue innocents without regard to ethics and human decency do not pay a price in their careers at the United States Department of Justice, American law, or society broadly.

Prosecutors should pay a price.

The valuation of this price ought not lead to blotching the pursuit of justice of the most dangerous man on the planet, President Donald Trump, who after-all retains the rights of the innocent as he is being investigated by the United States Department of Justice under the color of law.
-- Both Bill Fuhs and James Brown were among those prosecuted by the Enron Task Force.