Tag: crime

(TRIGGER WARNING) Stealthing is rape

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a description of sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.


Stealthing is RapeI fully understand that this story isn’t going to get a ton of attention anywhere because of the U.S. House vote on taking health insurance away from millions of Americans earlier today, but, as reported by the Madison-based Wisconsin State Journal’s Molly Beck, a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Assembly has proposed legislation that would criminalize nonconsentual condom removal during sexual intercourse, which is also known as “stealthing”, in the State of Wisconsin:

As far as I know, no state has a law on the books explicitly defining stealthing as rape or explicitly criminalizing stealthing, and there’s not a lot of statistics about stealthing available. That doesn’t change the fact that stealthing is rape. If one sexual partner requests that another sexual partner use a condom during sexual intercourse between the two sexual partners, and then one sexual partner removes the condom and continues intercourse without using the condom without the other sexual partner consenting to sexual intercourse without use of the condom, that is rape.

Melissa Sargent, the Wisconsin legislator who proposed the anti-stealthing bill in her state, is one of the best advocates for women holding elected office anywhere in the country. Even though Sargent is a very progressive Democrat in a state whose government is controlled by very conservative Republicans, Sargent has had success when it comes to getting legislation designed to protect women enacted. A notable example of Sargent’s work when it comes to protecting women is Sargent’s successful 2015 push to make upskirting a felony in Wisconsin.

I encourage elected officials in all U.S. jurisdictions to criminalize stealthing, because stealthing is rape.

Advertisements

(TRIGGER WARNING) Comparing Bernie Sanders to a domestic abuser minimizes domestic abuse

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a tweet that includes an image depicting violence against women. Reader discretion is strongly advised.


The Democratic Party is being increasingly dominated by two forms of progressivism. One form of progressivism prioritizes human rights issues, especially in regards to women’s reproductive rights, over other issues. This form of progressivism is associated with very liberal voters who voted for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries/caucuses, who are the core base of support, although not 100% of the support, of the resistance to the Trump Administration. The other form of progressivism prioritizes economic issues, especially in regards to efforts to reduce income inequality, over other issues. This form of progressivism is very strongly associated with Bernie Sanders, in fact, Sanders has often by criticized by progressive critics of Sanders for having supported candidates for public office who oppose abortion rights (although Bernie himself has a very pro-choice voting record as a U.S. Senator) and not regarding reproductive rights as an important issue.

Sanders has come under extremely heavy criticism for publicly endorsing Omaha, Nebraska mayoral candidate Heath Mello, who, as a member of Nebraska’s unicameral state legislature, voted for legislation that required doctors to give women who consider terminating a pregnancy a list of ultrasound providers. Although Mello has publicly disavowed his past support for anti-abortion legislation, the bill that he supported as a state legislator was designed purely to shame women, and nobody can re-write history.

Sanders’s support for Mello has prompted a large amount of criticism from progressive critics of Sanders. While most of the criticism has been over the fact that Sanders has, despite being pro-choice himself, endorsed anti-choice politicians from time to time, as well as Sanders not regarding women’s rights issues as important, there has been at least one example of criticism of Sanders that goes straight into the gutter of American politics. This was a tweet that somebody going under the alias “BroStoogeRally” posted about Bernie endorsing Jon Ossoff, a pro-choice and anti-interventionist Democrat who is running in a special election in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia:

Really? Bernie endorses a candidate with a realistic chance of winning a U.S. House seat that was previously held by a Republican who is now a member of the Trump Cabinet, and this guy has the gall to compare Bernie to a domestic abuser? Bernie is, to my knowledge, not a domestic abuser, and comparing someone like Bernie to a domestic abuser minimizes violence against women, which is a serious problem in America. Although these statistics date back to no later than late 2014, nearly 5 million American women each year experience physical violence by an intimate partner, one in four American women will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner, and over 38 million American women have experienced physical intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetimes. It is inherently clear that domestic violence is a major problem in America, and using graphic images of domestic violence to compare political figures who aren’t domestic abusers to domestic abusers minimizes the serious problem in America that is domestic violence.

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 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.

Texas grand jury INDICTS two anti-abortion zealots behind Planned Parenthood smear campaign

Texas grand jury INDICTS two anti-abortion zealots behind Planned Parenthood smear campaign

A grand jury in Harris County, Texas (includes nearly all of Houston) has officially indicted two individuals associated with the altered videos that were part of an attempt to smear Planned Parenthood over fetal tissue research:

  • David Daleiden, executive director of the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) – Indicted on a felony count of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to the purchase of human organs
  • Sandra Merritt, employee of CMP – indicted on a count of tampering with a governmental record

The grand jury was originally convened to investigate Planned Parenthood over the videos, but decided to turn the tables on the anti-abortion smear artists and indict two of them instead. I hope that Daleiden and Merritt are prosecuted to the fullest and fairest extent of the law.

Gannon the Cannon gives the finger to a Democrat on the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly

Earlier today, Wisconsin State Rep. Bob Gannon (R-Slinger) flipped off Wisconsin State Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) during a debate about Gannon’s racist remarks about crime in Milwaukee:

Several Democratic lawmakers from Milwaukee chastised state Rep. Bob Gannon, R-Slinger, for his comments, which they believed were racially charged. After a heated back-and-forth, Gannon flashed Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, his middle finger and walked out of the Assembly chamber.

“It is wholly inappropriate to give somebody the finger, for God’s sakes, on the floor of the Assembly,” Barca said, asking for Gannon to be reprimanded.

Gannon later apologized for making the gesture. It was the state Assembly’s first time meeting in 2016.

Gannon has earned a reputation of being a loose cannon and a racist. Prior to this most recent incident, Gannon made remarks encouraging concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit holders to shoot and kill “scumbags” and blamed black people for Wisconsin’s economic problems, the latter of which prompted the floor debate over crime in Milwaukee.

Gannon makes me look mild-mannered by comparison, and anyone who has met me, either in person or online, knows that I have a temper. What Gannon did on the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly earlier today was extremely inappropriate, and people with Gannon’s attitude are why Wisconsin’s political climate is absolutely toxic these days. Wisconsin gave America kindergarten, and, quite frankly, kindergartners are more civil than Republican politicians these days.

The Washington County, Wisconsin Democratic Party issued this response to Gannon’s use of a certain inappropriate hand signal on the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly:

Granted, it would be an absolute miracle if Gannon were to lose re-election to a Democrat, but Democrats should run a candidate against Gannon. I would be willing to do an email interview with a Democratic candidate in the 58th Assembly Candidate of Wisconsin, if one were to run for that seat.

Wisconsin Republican state legislator calls for gun owners to carry out vigilante executions

Wisconsin State Rep. Bob Gannon (R-Slinger) issued a press release calling for state legislators to pass legislation designed to put guns in the hands of drunk Wisconsin college students.

If you think that’s irresponsible, what’s even more irresponsible is Gannon’s remarks calling for concealed-carry permit holders to shoot and kill alleged criminals:

Wisconsin does not have a death penalty law, but with significant practice and careful aim, law abiding citizens can help clean our society of these scum bags. Criminals no longer have any fear of our courts or our prisons, so it’s time that the citizens of this fine state stand up and fight back. A gang banger in the mall with a gun is going to think twice if there could be a law abiding CCW holder standing behind them fully prepared to shoot center mass, as this is how you’re trained to eliminate the threat these creeps pose to you, your family, and all law abiding citizens unwillingly dragged into their public crime spree.

If Republicans like Bob Gannon get their way, Wisconsin will become a state full of George Zimmerman-like gun-toting stalkers hunting and killing people, especially minorities and women. That’s downright barbaric.

Joe Biden’s “Susan Happ” problem

With Vice President Joe Biden likely to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, I do want to bring up an historical parallel between Biden’s likely presidential bid and Jefferson County, Wisconsin District Attorney Susan Happ’s failed bid for Attorney General of Wisconsin last year.

The parallel between Biden and Happ is this: Both Biden and Happ are/were, prior to running for higher office (or, in Happ’s case, after winning a statewide Democratic primary in Wisconsin), viewed favorably by voters not because of their actual track records or positions on the issues, but because they liked the candidates personally. In Biden’s case, he’s seen by many voters across the country as an approachable guy with an interesting personality. In Happ’s case, she was seen by many voters in Wisconsin as someone who rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in a television ad.

Happ’s campaign to become Wisconsin’s top prosecutor fell apart not long after Happ won a contested Democratic primary with a narrow majority of the vote. Republicans and the far-right corporate media in Wisconsin viciously attacked Happ’s record as a county-level prosecutor, making her look like a corrupt prosecutor who gave out light sentences to Democrats and political cronies, when, in reality, it was a major distortion of Happ’s record. The sustained attack on Happ damaged her campaign and allowed Republican racist Brad Schimel to be elected Attorney General of Wisconsin.

Biden has a legitimately awful record, especially as a U.S. Senator from Delaware, including, among other things:

  • Helping put right-wing extremist Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court despite serious sexual harassment allegations against Thomas
  • Voting to repeal the Glass-Steagall regulations on banks and other financial institutions, which led to the Great Recession
  • Voting for the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages prior to being ruled unconstitutional by a conservative U.S. Supreme Court
  • Publicly claiming that “abortion is always wrong”
  • Helping enact legislation, signed into law by George W. Bush, that made it harder for Americans to file for bankruptcy
  • Helping enact legislation that expanded the prison-industrial complex in the United States
  • Voting for George W. Bush’s unjustified Iraq War

It wouldn’t take much for one of the Democratic presidential candidates already in the race to brand Biden as an awful politician, if Biden were to run.

I believe that there is an important lesson that is to be learned from the failure of Susan Happ’s campaign for Wisconsin Attorney General last year. When one runs for public office, his or her track record can, either fairly or unfairly, be used against him or her by any political opponent. While Joe Biden’s decision on whether or not to run for president is entirely Joe Biden’s decision to make, I would caution him that his record as a U.S. Senator would likely come back to haunt him politically.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton indicted on securities fraud charges

Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes white-collar crime.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been indicted by a grand jury on three criminal counts by a grand jury in Collin County, Texas (northern Dallas suburbs, including McKinney, Plano, and Frisco). Two of the charges are for securities fraud, the other is for failing to register with the Texas securities board:

The grand jury in the northern Dallas suburb of McKinney handed up a three-count indictment against Mr. Paxton several days ago, officials said. The indictment is to be unsealed on Monday, when Mr. Paxton is expected to turn himself in to the authorities at the Collin County Jail. The charges — two counts of first-degree securities fraud and one count of third-degree failure to register — are tied to Mr. Paxton’s work soliciting clients and investors for two companies while he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives but before he was elected attorney general in November 2014.

In the most serious charges — first-degree securities fraud — Mr. Paxton is accused of misleading investors in a technology company, Servergy Inc., which is based in his hometown, McKinney. He is accused of encouraging the investors in 2011 to put more than $600,000 in Servergy while failing to tell them he was making a commission on their investment and misrepresenting himself as an investor in the company, said Kent A. Schaffer, one of the two special prosecutors handling the case. The group of investors had been Mr. Paxton’s friends and included a colleague in the Texas House, State Representative Byron Cook.

[…]

The grand jury in Collin County, which began hearing evidence in early July, determined that Mr. Paxton’s failure to register with the state for his work for Mowery Capital Management amounted to a crime, and charged him with the one felony count of failure to register. Mr. Paxton had also failed to register with the securities board during his work in 2011 for Servergy, but Mr. Schaffer said they decided not to seek a failure-to-register felony charge from the grand jury in that instance because the statute of limitations had run out.

To put that into perspective, the top law enforcement official in the State of Texas is now under indictment for:

  • Encouraging his buddies, which include Texas State Representative Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), to invest in a technology company without telling them he was making money off of their investment
  • Misrepresenting himself while encouraging his buddies to invest in the technology company
  • Working for an investment advisory firm without registering with the Texas State Securities Board

Ken Paxton should resign the office of Attorney General of Texas immediately, as he is an absolute disgrace to Texas. Sadly, this kind of criminal activity by right-wing politicians in Texas is far too commonplace. There are good people in Texas, but it seems to me that they’re in the minority, especially when one considers how ridiculously easy it is for Republican crooks to get elected statewide there.

As I said above, everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes white-collar crime.

How taxpayers effectively subsidized the Charleston shooting

You might be shocked to find out about this, but taxpayers effectively subsidized the mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, which was perpetrated by 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof and claimed the lives of nine people, including Reverend and South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney (D-Ridgeland).

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a non-profit investigative news organization, detailed how taxpayers effectively subsidized the mass murder at Mother Emanuel in their report:

Alleged Charleston gunman Dylann Roof wrote that he was never the same after discovering a website with “pages upon pages of these brutal black on white murders.”

The pages that left Roof in disbelief were the product of a white-nationalist group subsidized by American taxpayers.

The Council of Conservative Citizens Inc. is listed by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit organization that promotes social welfare, also known as a 501(c)(4). Such groups pay no federal taxes, a form of government subsidy.

To summarize all of that, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white supremacist organization, incorporated as a nonprofit “social welfare” organization, legally exempted itself from federal taxation, and published racist screeds on its website that prompted Roof to perpetrate a mass murder in a place of worship. In other words, the federal government effectively subsidized the Charleston shooting by exempting the CCC from federal taxes.

The CCC may legally be a “social welfare” organization, but, in reality, they are not a social welfare organization. The CCC is a white supremacist organization that, among other things, publicly supports far-right, anti-immigration politicians and political parties, glorifies black-on-white violent crimes, absurdly blames Chicago’s high murder rate on a misperceived lack of guns in the city, and has posted ads from at least one company selling Confederate flags online to its website. Furthermore, the CCC’s president, Earl P. Holt, has donated to many Republican politicians, including, among many others, Joni Ernst, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Jim Oberweis, Louie Gohmert, Todd Akin, Tom Emmer, Allen West, and Steve King; in fact, in some campaign finance reports, Holt listed himself as a “slumlord”. For the federal government to effectively subsidize such a hateful organization is, in my opinion, absolutely disgusting.