Category: Crime

Trump hints at declaring martial law in Illinois’s largest city, even though seven cities have higher murder rates

A few hours ago, President Donald Trump took to Twitter and hinted at possibly declaring martial law in Chicago over the city’s high murder rate:

I really don’t know of any presidential powers at Trump’s disposal that could be used in regards to a city having a high murder rate outside of two presidential powers: one would be to declare a state of emergency in Chicago, and the other would be declaring martial law in Chicago. Unlike a state National Guard or a state militia, the President cannot take over a city police force.

States United, part of the Mike Bloomberg-aligned pro-gun control political network that has been known to support far-right Republicans, has a couple of infographics about the actual state of the Chicago murder crisis:

As you can see, guns originally purchased in states like Indiana, and, to a lesser extent, Wisconsin and Mississippi, all three of which have weaker gun safety laws than Illinois does, have played a large role in Chicago’s murder crisis, and seven U.S. cities (St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans, Cleveland, Newark, and Memphis) all have higher murder rates than Chicago does. Despite the facts, Trump and his Republican allies haven’t hinted at martial law in cities with a higher murder rate than that of Chicago, and Trump and his Republican allies want to make it easier, not harder, for people to take guns across state lines.

While murder is a serious problem in this country, declaring martial law is going to do absolutely nothing to solve the murder crisis of Chicago or any other city.

My endorsements for the 2016 general election

With a few Democrat vs. Democrat contests on the ballot in the states of California and Washington, as well as numerous referenda on the ballot at the state, federal district, and local levels in many states and the District of Columbia, I hereby announce a slate of endorsements in various elections and referenda that are on the ballot in the November 8, 2016 general election.

U.S. Senate in California – Kamala Harris

California has an unusual U.S. Senate election this year, in that, instead of a Democrat, a Republican, and one or more minor party and/or independent candidates on the ballot, there are two Democrats on the ballot and no other candidates on the ballot. I endorse Kamala Harris in the California U.S. Senate race. Harris will fight to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons, end mass incarceration, ensure that women get equal pay for equal work, and protect California’s environment. Kamala’s opponent is Loretta Sanchez, who has a pattern of making offensive remarks that one would expect from someone like Donald Trump.

7th Congressional District of Washington – Pramila Jayapal

I endorsed Pramila Jayapal in the Seattle, Washington-based 7th Congressional District of Washington via Twitter a while back, so I’ll reiterate my endorsement of Pramilia here. Pramila is a Bernie Sanders-backed progressive who has fought for immigrant rights and common-sense ideas to strengthen America’s economy. Pramila’s opponent is a fellow Democrat, Brady Walkinshaw. Walkinshaw, who is heavily backed by the Democratic establishment, is a centrist Democrat who has openly attacked Pramilia for being a genuine progressive.

State of New Columbia Advisory Referendum – YES

You may be wondering what the State of New Columbia is, it’s not a current U.S. state, but it is a proposed U.S. state consisting of the current District of Columbia, which is our nation’s capital. While residents of our nation’s capital are patriotic U.S. citizens who pay federal taxes and vote on which presidential and vice-presidential ticket should receive the federal district’s three electoral votes, they don’t have any voting representation in Congress. The only remotely feasible way for the residents of our nation’s capital to get real representation in both houses of Congress would be for our nation’s capital to become a new state, since independence from the United States is completely illogical, retrocession of the federal district to Maryland is something that Maryland politicians won’t support, and the status quo is simply unacceptable. While a YES vote on the statehood referendum would not automatically make our nation’s capital the 51st state to join the Union because of the fact that the referendum is non-binding, it would send a powerful message to Congress, which has the power to make our nation’s capital a state, that the citizens of our nation’s capital want statehood.

California Proposition 61 – YES

A large number of propositions are on the California ballot, one of which is Proposition 61, which, contrary to right-wing attacks from Big Pharma, Republicans, and corporate Democrats, would lower drug prices for many Californians. Specifically, the measure would prohibit drug makers from charging those who have been prescribed medications more than what veterans who get their health care from the VA system pay for their prescriptions. I endorse a YES vote on California Proposition 61.

Maine Question 5 – YES

In Maine, it is not unheard of for statewide candidates to win election with only a plurality of the popular vote, owing to Maine being considerably less politically polarized than the country as a whole. Ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, would allow voters to mark first, second, third, etc. preferences on their ballots, and, if one candidate has a majority of first preferences, he or she is the winner, but, if no candidate has a majority of first preferences, the second, third, etc. preferences of voters who voted for candidates that received few first preferences can be used to determine a majority winner. If Question 5 were to receive a majority of YES votes, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, gubernatorial, state senate, and state house elections in Maine would use ranked-choice voting instead of the current plurality voting system. I endorse a YES vote on Maine Question 5.

Nebraska Referendum 426 – RETAIN

Unlike most referendums in the United States, in which voters are asked to vote YES or NO on a ballot measure of some kind, Nebraska’s Referendum 426 asks voters to choose between REPEAL and RETAIN, specifically, regarding a Nebraska state law that repealed the death penalty in Nebraska. I encourage Nebraskans to RETAIN the ban on the death penalty in the Nebraska state jurisdiction, and, thus, I endorse a RETAIN vote on Nebraska Referendum 426. If someone is wrongly convicted of a capital crime, sentenced to death, executed, and it is found out after the execution that the person was wrongly convicted, there is no legal recourse in that situation. If someone is wrongly convicted of a major crime, sentenced to life imprisonment, and then found out that the person was wrongly convicted, the person can have his/her conviction overturned and be released from prison. That’s just one reason why I oppose the death penalty.

42nd Legislative District of North Dakota (State House) – Kylie Oversen

Normally, when I endorse a Democratic candidate for public office, it’s in a contested Democratic primary or a Democratic primary that may be contested. I will make one exception to that rule every two years by endorsing a Democratic candidate that I believe is a truly special person for the general election. For 2016, I endorse Kylie Oversen in her re-election bid for her North Dakota House of Representative seat in the 42nd Legislative District of North Dakota. When it comes to reproductive rights, Kylie has gone above and beyond what is typically expected of a pro-choice elected official by helping women who wish to seek an abortion by serving as an abortion clinic escort:

(Oversen is the person on the right-hand side of the picture)

In addition to her support for women’s rights, Kylie has consistently supported progressive ideas and values on many political issues facing North Dakota.

Crooked Donald Trump used his foundation to buy off Florida Attorney General

By Donald Trump’s own standard of using a personal or family foundation for corrupt purposes, Trump is even more crooked than the Clintons ever could be.

Amid all of the corporate media hullabaloo about the Clinton Foundation and their corrupt dealings is recent media attention to a 2014 fundraiser for Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, which was hosted by Trump:

…In March 2014, Donald Trump opened his 126-room Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, for a $3,000-per-person fundraiser for Pam Bondi. The Florida attorney general, who was facing a tough re-election campaign, had recently decided not to investigate Trump University.

Trump did not write a check to the attorney general that night. The previous fall, his personal foundation had given $25,000 to a pro-Bondi super PAC. But by hosting her fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago and bringing in some of his own star power, Trump provided Bondi’s campaign with a nice financial boost.

Since he began his run for the White House, Trump has repeatedly claimed that Bondi is merely someone he has supported politically. But his fundraising efforts for her were extensive and varied: In addition to the $25,000 donation from his foundation and the star-studded Mar-a-Lago event, Trump and his daughter Ivanka each gave $500 to Bondi’s campaign in the fall of 2013. The following spring, Ivanka and her father donated another $125,000 to the Republican Party of Florida ― Bondi’s single biggest source of campaign funds.

The reason why Trump’s ties to Bondi have come under public scrutiny in recent days is because of a couple of reasons.

First, that $25,000 check from Trump’s personal foundation to And Justice For All, a pro-Bondi SuperPAC, was a violation of IRS rules for Trump and his foundation. The IRS levied a $2,500 penalty against Trump for the illegal campaign donation from his foundation.

Second, Trump got something that is, to use a Rod Blagojevich saying, (expletive) golden in return for his efforts in helping Bondi get re-elected. Bondi’s office is supposed to be responsible for processing complaints against the fraudulent Trump University and its fraudulent predecessor Trump Institute, both of which masqueraded as online higher education institutions. However, Bondi’s office has done virtually nothing with the complaints, while the Connecticut Attorney General’s office, which is currently held by Democrat George Jepsen, has successfully helped people refunds for people who are victims of Trump’s deceptive practices.

Donald Trump has been caught engaging in some of the most blatant political corruption I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Although I’m probably asking too much of the GOP-controlled Florida state government, the State of Florida should assign a special prosecutor to determine whether or not criminal charges should be filed against Trump.

The percentage of rapes committed by white people is higher than the percentage of white Americans

Leslie Salzillo, a contributor to the progressive website DailyKos, wrote this piece about an online video showing a white woman, who was harassing a black man, falsely accusing the black man of threatening to rape her. You can view the video here.

I want to make a couple of points here.

First, rape and fear of rape have been used since before the founding of the United States of America in a racist manner against black people. Examples of this include Europeans in the 17th century falsely accusing black slaves of rape, accusations of rape being committed by black people being used to cover up crimes committed by white people, and the infamous Willie Horton ad that was aired on American television by a political organization supporting Republican George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential bid. Rape is a serious crime, and, if you’re using rape or the fear of rape to spew bigotry towards minority groups, you’re part of the problem when it comes to the pervasive rape culture in this country. While some black people are rapists (a famous example being former professional boxer Mike Tyson), and all rapists are criminals, black people are often falsely accused of rape, while actual white rapists often get no punishment or very light punishment for violating women.

Secondly, these are actual statistics on the demographics of American rapists, as well as the demographics of American aggravated assaulters and American automobile thieves:

For the sake of completion, 63.7% of the total American population is Non-Hispanic White, meaning that the percentage of rapes committed by white people in America (67.2%) is higher than the percentage of total white people in America.

Joe Walsh issues death threat against President Obama and Black Lives Matter activists

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a screengrab of a death threat made by a former elected official against the current President of the United States. The author of this blog post strongly condemns violence and all threats of violence.


Former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), who represented parts of the Chicago suburbs for one term from 2011 to 2013, took to Twitter to declare a race war and issue a death threat against President Barack Obama and activists of the Black Lives Matter movement. Walsh has since deleted the tweet, but here is a screengrab of it:

It’s worth noting that the death toll last night’s mass shooting in Dallas, Texas is, as of the writing of this blog post, at five.

Walsh has (rightfully, in my opinion) received a lot of criticism online for threatening to kill the president, with lots of people calling for WIND-AM, a Chicago radio station that employs Walsh as a right-wing talk radio host, to fire Walsh, as well as for the Secret Service, which is legally responsible for protecting the president, to detain Walsh:

Joe Walsh, who was voted out of office in 2012 after repeatedly making vile, rude, and bigoted remarks, declared a race war against America and the values America stands for, and he also threatened to kill President Obama and people who are active in the Black Lives Matter movement, a non-violent movement that seeks reforms to law enforcement and criminal justice practices that are discriminatory against black people. WIND-AM should fire Walsh immediately, and all appropriate law enforcement agencies should detain Walsh, and, if it can be proven that Walsh was plotting to kill anyone, he should be arrested and charged with all appropriate crimes. Walsh is a disgrace to my state and my country.

BREAKING NEWS: Police officers shot at Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a breaking news event. Information may change rapidly.


Multiple members of the Dallas Police Department (Dallas PD) and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) police forces, as well as a 37-year old woman by the name of Shetamia Taylor, were shot at a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, Texas. Five of the officers who were shot have been killed, and two snipers, whose identities are not known at this time, are believed to be the perpetrators of the attack:

Violence against law enforcement, or, for that matter, any person, is NEVER acceptable. While there is a ton of institutional racism in this country, and it’s true that law enforcement officers have killed black people in situations in which they would not kill a white person (think of the deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, LaQuan McDonald, Tony Robinson, Eric Gardner, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castle at the hands of law enforcement), committing acts of violence does not do a damn bit of good to advance the Black Lives Matter cause. The Black Lives Matter cause is a cause that I strongly support, but I absolutely oppose all forms of violence. If you’re going around shooting police officers, you’re just as evil of a person as the police officers who killed people like Alton Sterling and Philando Castle.

While a motive for the shooting of the Dallas police officers is not known at this time, I strongly suspect that someone had every intention of disrupting what, up until the shooting, had been a peaceful protest, in an attempt to make the protesters that did not engage in violence of any form look bad.

My thoughts about flag burning

A little over 30 miles from my home, a flag-burning case is all over the local news.

In Urbana, Illinois, Bryton Mellott, 22 years of age, was booked by local law enforcement for burning the U.S. flag as a form of political protest. Specifically, Mellott was booked for disorderly conduct and violating the Illinois flag desecration statute, which officially classifies flag desecration as a felony in Illinois.

I want to share my own thoughts about flag burning.

Unless there are aggravating circumstances in a particular case (such as flag burning on government property of any kind, flag burning on private property not owned by the individual burning the flag without permission from the property owner, or causing a broader public danger by burning the flag (such as igniting a wildfire or setting fire to something other than the flag)), flag burning should be considered a form of protected free speech. As someone who comes from a family that has had many family members serve in our nation’s Armed Forces, I regard the U.S. flag as a very important national symbol, and burning the U.S. flag is something that I would never do. If I wish to air some kind of grievance that I have about politics or government policy, I will write a blog post, either on this website or another website, about it. However, as long as no damage is being done to property other than the flag itself, the flag in question is the property of the individual burning it, and the flag burning is taking place on one’s own private property or, if on someone else’s property, with permission from the property owner, I don’t believe that flag burning should be a criminal offense of any kind. Keep in mind that I don’t personally approve of burning the flag as a form of protest, and it is something that I would never even consider doing. If you wish to dispose of a U.S. flag in a proper and dignified manner, I recommend contacting an organization like the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for information before disposing of the flag.

Also, I strongly disapprove of making violent threats towards people, even people who are convicted or accused of criminal activity. We have a judicial system in this country that is built on the principle of due process, not vigilantism.

(TRIGGER WARNING) Donald Trump allegedly raped an underage girl repeatedly during the 1990’s

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following blog post contains a graphic description of sexual assault. Reader discretion is strongly advised.


It’s not just a lack of campaign funds and using his campaign money to enrich himself (see here and here) that are major political problems for Trump. Now, Trump is being sued in federal court for allegedly raping an underage girl multiple times in the 1990’s at sex parties hosted by ultra-wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein of “Lolita Express” infamy. Here’s the details on the Trump rape allegations:

In the court filing, “Defendant Trump” allegedly “initiated sexual contact with Plaintiff at four different parties. On the fourth and final sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied Plaintiff to a bed, exposed himself to Plaintiff, and then proceeded to forcibly rape Plaintiff. During the course of this savage sexual attack, Plaintiff loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but with no effect. Defendant Trump responded to Plaintiff’s pleas by violently striking Plaintiff in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted.”

In the next section, she adds that “Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened Plaintiff that, were she ever to reveal any of the details of the sexual and physical abuse of her by Defendant Trump, Plaintiff and her family would be physically harmed if not killed.”

The defendant is asking a federal judge to waive New York state’s five-year statute of limitations in sexual assault cases. You can view the full text of the lawsuit here.

This isn’t the first time Trump has been accused of rape. Trump’s first wife, Ivana Trump, publicly claimed that Trump made her feel “violated” during sexual intercourse. That prompted the Trump campaign to falsely claim that marital rape isn’t a crime (in all U.S. jurisdictions, marital rape is a criminal offense).

It isn’t just Donald Trump’s bigotry, use of campaign cash to line his own pockets, failed businesses, and penchant for fraud that are disgusting. His sexual behavior is also disgusting and unacceptable, and, if Trump wants to talk about the sex lives of Democratic politicians, I’ve got no problem talking about Trump’s sex life.

WISCONSIN STATE REP. MELISSA SARGENT: “We must work to end the rape culture”

REPUBLISHER’S NOTE: Below the horizontal line is an op-ed, originally published by the Madison, Wisconsin-based newspaper The Cap Times, that was written by Wisconsin State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison). The op-ed has been republished to this blog, as it appeared on The Cap Times’s website, with permission from Representative Sargent.


A young woman woke up not sure where she was.

She was covered in pine needles, her hands and elbows bloody. As she laid on a hospital gurney trying to put the pieces together, doctors performed one invasive procedure after another to determine what had happened. She was told — hours later, after she was finally allowed to shower — that she had been sexually assaulted and was found unconscious behind a dumpster.

By now, many of you have heard about this brutal rape on the Stanford campus. The power of social media allowed millions of us to read the chilling testimony that the victim read aloud to her assailant in court. And like me, I’m sure you were horrified by the light sentence — at most, six months in the county jail and three years’ probation — that the judge gave to the Stanford student. Not even a slap on the wrist.

This case is the definition of our society’s rape culture.

This made me think back to a few weeks ago when I was visiting a middle school in my district. I was talking to a young woman about her college plans. This seventh-grader said she has just read UW-Madison’s campus climate survey, which showed that one in four women will experience sexual violence during their time on the Madison campus. She told me that she felt she had to choose between her safety and her ability to pursue higher education.

This is wholly unacceptable.

As women, we are taught almost from birth that we have to be careful, and take extra precautions for our safety. There is a strict set of unwritten rules for women: Don’t walk alone, don’t drink too much, don’t wear that skirt. We live in a culture that views rape and sexual assault as inevitable, as something that “just happens” to (a certain kind) of woman, as something that can be prevented if we as women just follow that laundry list of unwritten rules — and always as something that is the victim’s responsibility to stop.

These attitudes are all part of rape culture. We live in a world where everyone from the media, to teachers, to school administrators, to many elected officials contribute to and normalize sexual violence against women. The media debate whether a rapist’s sentence will ruin his life — rather than talking about the lifelong impacts for the victim.

Sexual assault isn’t something that happens somewhere else, to someone else. It’s happening right here — to us, our sisters, our friends, our daughters. And it’s happened to me.

Every parent should know that this is what our children are being taught. Our daughters grow up hearing that if a boy hurts her, it’s love. Our sons grow up hearing that “boys will be boys” is an excuse for their actions.

Every parent should be acutely aware that this is the world their children are growing up in. While Brock Turner’s six-month sentence seems like such a far cry from justice, in actuality he is receiving more punishment than 97 percent of rapists, who face no jail time at all.

We must teach our children to do better to stop this community of inaction. We must stop victim-blaming altogether. And we must say that rape is rape — no excuses, no justifications.

 

George Zimmerman proves once again that he has no sense of decency

George Zimmerman, who is best-known for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, is now in the news yet again. This time, he’s selling off the gun that he used to kill an innocent teenager:

George Zimmerman says he is auctioning off the gun he used to kill Miami teen Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman made the announcement on Wednesday night during a newscast on Orlando’s WOFL television.

The online auction starts Thursday. The opening bid is set at $5,000.

I wouldn’t pay a damn penny for any firearm, let alone $5,000+ for a firearm that George Zimmerman used to kill an innocent black teenager. Zimmerman has absolutely no sense of decency, and, quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of Zimmerman being treated like a celebrity by the corporate media.