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View Diary: "Prosecutorial Gaps": The People Vs. The Justice Department (240 comments)

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  •  Granted, you make a good point however,... (10+ / 0-)

    Just because crazy people have used a term or phrase or title doesn't mean they now own it.  That is what Frank Luntz is a genius at.  He takes words that sound good and twists them into new meanings and we let him.  Words like liberals and socialism and unions and community organizers and even democracy (we are a republic don't you know) have become taboo.  And what do progressives do?  "Oh, we shouldn't use that word anymore because people now think liberalism is bad" I say screw them and we will use the words we like.

    Ray said:

    I call on legal experts (lawyers, judges, university professors), writers, researchers, students, and average citizens to form this crowd-sourced citizens' "Grand Jury" panel tasked with producing a "People's Indictment" if it is indeed found that these government functionaries violated both, the law, and their oath of office.
    I think that it is clear that he wasn't promoting racism or prejudice or calling for some kind of witch hunt here.  He called on experts and professionals to demand justice where our elected officials have turned a blind eye.  What else should we call it?  I think a citizen's grand jury is perfectly descriptive and to hell with the pricks who misused those words for hate in the past.

    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 02:32:56 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  A six-grader can see that it is clear I'm not (9+ / 0-)

      advocating or promoting racism or prejudice, etc.  It must be painful to have to explain it.  But either way, thanks for the effort.

      •  Where in my post did you see any suggestion... (8+ / 0-)

        ...that you were "advocating or promoting racism or prejudice"?

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 02:47:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Let's set aside the unimportant thing about (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lyvwyr101, DeadHead, gerrilea

          the "Citizens Grand Jury," which is a side issue...

          Did you read the diary?  What do you think about the central theme?  What is your take on what Judge Rakoff wrote, or the information from the links to articles and studies?

          Any substantive feedback, counter-argument?

          •  Huh? The peroration of your diary, your (4+ / 0-)

            concluding wrap up of all that has gone before, is a side issue?

            At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

            by serendipityisabitch on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:00:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Wait -- if it is a side issue (7+ / 0-)

            why is it the first 3 words of your title?  This is classic Ray response.  As soon as something obviously wrong is pointed out in one of your posts, you first insult the commenter (the 6th grade education with a smirk on your face reply) and then you say -- let's not talk about that unimportant thing -- let's talk about the content of my diary which basically has to do with your unimportant thing in your title.

            I only read for amusement here so I will move along before your friends tell me to.

            " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

            by gchaucer2 on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:01:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Okay, so let's say that the words (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lyvwyr101, gerrilea

              "Citizens Grand Jury" are as important as you claim.  And points have been made here about why some find those words have such import.

              I think folks made their point... Now, do you have something to say about the topic of the diary, the theme?

              Do you have an opinion as to why no top-level Wall Street executives have been prosecuted?

              How do you feel about it?  Do you think things have been handled properly in that respect?

              •  Have they been directly charged (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                6412093

                with an actual crime?  That would be the first step.  If they stole then under what statute could they be convicted?  What law/s would be applied?  

                "You want to be a bit compulsive in your art or craft or whatever you do." Steve Martin

                by Kristin in WA on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:23:51 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  FRAUD, criminal FRAUD. (0+ / 0-)

                  Why haven't their collaborators in that conspiracy, ie the "Credit Reporting Agencies" been prosecuted as well???

                  Their fraud has gone on to become Crimes Against Humanity!

                  How many millions, world-wide, are forevermore destitute and living in perpetual poverty because these bastards???

                  Steal 4.5 million homes, get invited to the White House, "steal an education" for your child and spend 5 yrs in jail!!!!!!!

                  -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

                  by gerrilea on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 09:19:21 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  It's not "a side issue" at all. (4+ / 0-)

            If your purpose is to use this process to actually formulate a movement that is likely to succeed in its goals, then the choice of the term you use as its title is far from a "side issue." Anyone conversant with the literature about propaganda, persuasion, and rhetoric would be loathe to deny the power of words, associations, and descriptions.

            The words you use to describe what you're doing are going to color people's opinion of what you're trying to accomplish even before they actually see it, and even if they choose to look deeper into what you're doing, their initial reaction to the "headline" you've used to describe it will affect their responses. In this case, the title you've chosen is likely to have a strong negative association with the very same knowledgeable people you're trying to reach in order to make your movement a success.

            If the goal is to make your movement a success, that's a pretty big issue.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:01:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Okay, you made your point about something you (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lyvwyr101, happymisanthropy

              find extremely important.  Now, and again, what do you have to say about the content of the diary?  Do you have an opinion about why no criminal charges have been filed against top Wall Street executives?

              •  do you concede his point? (7+ / 0-)

                Ray, if you want to be considered a stand-up guy, every now and then you should stand up.

                "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

                by HudsonValleyMark on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:08:09 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, it was a mistake to use the term (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  WB Reeves, lyvwyr101, ZhenRen, TheMomCat

                  "Citizens Grand Jury" in the title because of the reasons brought up by JamesGG.  I removed it from the title.

                  I now invite people to discuss the issue at hand.

                  •  So you are deleting this stuff too? (4+ / 0-)
                    I therefore propose this course of action: I'd like to propose that a crowd-sourcing panel of concerned citizens come together to gather information, evidence, and testimony so as to determined whether top Justice Department officials have violated their oath of office by failing to prosecute businesses due to conflict of interests.

                    Namely, this citizens' panel could be tasked with determining whether the fact that these officials have gone through the revolving door of law firms, like Covington & Burling, had in any way influenced their actions, or lack thereof, when it comes to decisions to prosecute wrongdoing by executives at those firms--given the fact that this law firm is in the business of providing legal services to those same firms.

                    I call on legal experts (lawyers, judges, university professors), writers, researchers, students, and average citizens to form this crowd-sourced citizens' "Grand Jury" panel tasked with producing a "People's Indictment" if it is indeed found that these government functionaries violated both, the law, and their oath of office.

                    And, if it is so found, I call on all citizens to demand a proper investigation, indictment, prosecution and lengthy prison sentences to those officials having been found guilty of wrongdoing, of abuses of power.

                    Once the preliminary investigation is concluded, a public indictment should be produced and made available to the general public...

                    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

                    by Empty Vessel on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:21:43 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  No, that's the central call to action of the diary (5+ / 0-)
                      •  So its central to the diary (5+ / 0-)

                        but everybody who disagrees with the idea of a citizen "grand jury" is deflecting from the central point of the whole diary.

                        A better example of you not understanding the difference between disagreement and derailment would be hard to find.

                        People think your "grand Juries" could go bad fast, and point to numerous examples.

                        How would you make sure your "grand juries" don't go bad, get hijacked by crazies, or simply legitimize crazies from starting their own "grand juries"?

                        And yes, the term, and the concept behind the term, is in the text I quoted, not just your title.

                        "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

                        by Empty Vessel on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:28:42 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Think of it as the Occupy Wall Street ethos. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          TracieLynn

                          What I mean is that OWS propagated across the country pretty fast (in 2011) and their message was based on reality, on the actual central challenge we are facing: the exploitation of the 99% by the 1%.

                          I know you express concerns about this type of citizens' involvement, but I would argue that the current situation is far more dangerous and absurd than almost anything one could imagine...

                          We are talking about the wholesale takeover/capture of the levers of power by undemocratic forces (corporatist cartels) engaging in massive crimes, looting, that have resulted in untold misery, on the suffering of millions of people.

                          My safety valve for the process?  Here it is:

                          I call on legal experts (lawyers, judges, university professors), writers, researchers, students, and average citizens to form this crowd-sourced citizens' "Grand Jury" panel tasked with producing a "People's Indictment" if it is indeed found that these government functionaries violated both, the law, and their oath of office.
                          But again, we are now force to improvise because our institutions have failed us.  We need to do something; we can't just complain.
                          •  It seems that your safety valve (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Hey338Too, fcvaguy, 6412093

                            is exactly what it is you aim to destroy--the justice department that oversees the existing legal structures.  Not seeing how that can work.

                            "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

                            by Empty Vessel on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:55:32 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The Justice Department seems to be corrupt (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            lostinamerica, TracieLynn

                            to the core, victim of a very damaging graft and conflict of interest culture.

                            At least that's the perception I (and many other people) have in the face of the unprecedented lack of criminal prosecutions of Wall Street executives, who appeared to have committed massive crimes.

                          •  And I agree (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Hey338Too

                            my problem is your solution demands a safety valve, and the safety valve is the very thing that is the problem.

                            You see the problem?

                            "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

                            by Empty Vessel on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:02:36 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Here's where I'm coming from: (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            TracieLynn

                            I don't believe in the proposition that truth, morality, ethics, democracy, justice, and the rule of law are "in the eyes of the beholder."

                            I think that things are either just, or unjust, truth or false, ethical or unethical, moral or immoral.

                            And I think that people of good-will can join together and come to agreements on those issues.

                            I have confident that the Occupy Wall Street movement can do that.

                            That's my perspective, and it colors my opinions.

                            I fully understand you may have a different perspective.

                          •  I'm not sure I follow you (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Hey338Too

                            A "public indictment" produced by a self-declared citizen's grand jury has no apparent enforcement mechanism. Its influence depends on its credibility.

                            There have been "Citizen Juries" — on policy issues, nothing to do with shadow indictments — that were designed to be credible, although of course no one had to pay any attention to them.

                            "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

                            by HudsonValleyMark on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:33:37 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  I support calls to action (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Hey338Too, serendipityisabitch

                        and Ray's suggested placarding is a good idea.

                        However I remember Ray's prior call for a day of action to begin last October.

                        When that day came and went, and Serendipity asked Ray what were the results, Ray and others sharply attacked Serendipity for even bringing it up.

                        I gave $5 to Daily Kos for my participation in Ray's October day of action, but I guess I was the only chump that honored that call for action.

                        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

                        by 6412093 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:24:51 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Hell, how do you think (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Ray Pensador

                      the goddamed United States Government was formed? Did they get permission before they formed a "people's assembly"?

                      What is the difference? Why is it okay when some people do it, and not okay when others do it?

                      Basically, every established State and its supporters object to people gathering together outside the auspices of the state.

                      And once the revolt establishes a new order, that order does exactly the same.

                      LOL.

                      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                      by ZhenRen on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:24:05 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Glad I could recommend this N/T (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    lyvwyr101

                    Nothing human is alien to me.

                    by WB Reeves on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:22:55 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  progress! (4+ / 0-)

                    I don't think the strategy(?) of a citizen's grand jury works any better after being taken out of the title, but maybe it can be salvaged.

                    I'm not sure why you're citing Rakoff: I don't see any hint in the article that he thinks anyone at DOJ is guilty of corruption. He even says:

                    At the outset, however, let me say that I completely discount the argument sometimes made that no such prosecutions have been brought because the top prosecutors were often people who previously represented the financial institutions in question and/or were people who expected to be representing such institutions in the future: the so-called “revolving door.”
                    (And he elaborates.) If one can trust his stated judgment, going after DOJ for "conflict of interest" probably isn't the best way to go after the failure to prosecute. Of course you aren't bound to defer to Rakoff just because you quoted him, but I was stuck by the omission of context.

                    "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

                    by HudsonValleyMark on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:35:08 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Is that what this post is about? (5+ / 0-)

                Is this post simply about expressing outrage that the Justice Department hasn't filed criminal charges against Wall Street executives?

                Or is this post about the constructive actions you would like to respond to that non-filing?

                Because If it's just about expressing outrage, then I'm forced to ask how it's different from previous works by you and others denouncing the lack of criminal charges against Wall Street executives, and what compelling reason you believe someone would actually click through to see it, given that most people have likely already formulated their opinion on the matter.

                If it's about the response you're calling for, I'm forced to wonder why you don't find feedback on one of the most important aspects of the constructive action you're calling for here—an aspect that has the potential to sink the whole enterprise—to be "extremely important." Is this about building a successful movement, or not?

                "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                by JamesGG on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:18:07 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Good question; very well-formulated. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  lyvwyr101, serendipityisabitch

                  Yes, in my activism and in anything I write my only purpose is to contribute in whatever way I can to the success of the fast-spreading social justice movement.

                  Also (and I think people familiar with my writing know this) I never advocate for people not to stay fully engage in the current system as it is.  That means voting, campaigning, volunteering, manning phone banks, putting flyers and posters for preferred candidates, donating, etc.  I don't advocate retreating from the system in any way.

                  Regarding this call to action here one of the main purposes is to keep the issue in the forefront of debate.  Another purpose is to counteract the feeling many people have that those who have been engage in wrongdoing are going to get away with it and that there is nothing we can do... I totally reject that.  I think at the end justice will prevail, not matter how long it takes.

                  So by engaging in this type of campaign, which does has a symbolic aspect, I believe we help in both, motivating those within the movement, and also sending a message to the powers that be that we are paying attention.

                  Hopefully that answers your question, but if you need more clarification, I'd like to expand further.

          •  Shorter comment (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hey338Too

            That I guess translates into a shorter diary.

            You know all those things I said we should do about all the injustices I noted about the Justice Department in my diary...nevermind, didn't really mean any of it.

            "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

            by Empty Vessel on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:17:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  huh???? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch, Hey338Too
            the "Citizens Grand Jury," which is a side issue...
            That was the be-all and end-all conclusion of your diary. Your diary actually read very well up until you came up with this whacky extra-judicial idea.

            Have you read much about the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror? What you're recommending is exactly like that - people's juries which resulted in 16,000 people sent to the guillotine.

    •  So is it about reclamation or effectiveness? (4+ / 0-)
      Just because crazy people have used a term or phrase or title doesn't mean they now own it.
      It's not just that they've "used" the term—it's that they're the only people to have used the term. White supremacists don't "own" the title of Citizens' Councils of America either, but given the history of organizations with that name, no sane person who did their research would ever consider that kind of name for their organization. At a certain point the association is so strong that "reclaiming" the title is kind of a lost cause.
      I think a citizen's grand jury is perfectly descriptive and to hell with the pricks who misused those words for hate in the past.
      Presumably, Mr. Pensador would like to have at least some people of color involved with this project, and they might be a little bothered by a group that has chosen a name that is primarily associated with Tea Partiers and white supremacists.

      But it's not just about that; it's also about legitimacy. "Citizens' Grand Jury" doesn't just say "birther" and "white supremacist," it also says "crackpot," since there is no legal system in the United States that grants even a shred of authority to such "grand juries."

      If one is trying to organize progressive change and trying to form a group that will be taken seriously, why would one choose a name whose primary association is with birthers and white supremacists, and which would almost immediately brand the movement as a fringe crackpot movement rather than as something worth actually taking seriously?

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 02:45:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG, serendipityisabitch, 6412093

        It is unfair that only the far right wing gets to be a crackpot. We demand equal rights. 14th Amendment. All Amendments after the Bill of Rights are invalid!!!(Oh god, maybe it's catching)

        Look, I tried to be reasonable...

        by campionrules on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 02:48:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Couldn't you say the same thing about Socialists? (4+ / 0-)

        After all, Hitler formed the National Socialist German Workers'  and the Soviet Union was the United Soviet Socialist Republic (and it also had the word union in there).

        As I said, you made a good point but it is also important that we reclaim words that are useful to us without fear of what negative conotations the rightwing have applied to them.  There is no prescribed method in law to address these issues when so many of our politicians have been corrupted by financial interests that they all (at least a vast majority of them) are ignoring their responsibilities and are refusing to enforce the laws that are there to protect the citizens of this country.  There are no appropriate words for that except a revolt which I do not believe you would find any more tasteful.

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:03:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This isn't the same thing at all. (3+ / 0-)

          It's not like "liberal" or "socialist," where a term that once had a positive connotation has been twisted into something negative. It's not like there was a proud tradition of the "Citizens Grand Jury" before the Birthers and white supremacists soiled them. This is the choice of a term whose only connotations have been Birtherism, white supremacism, and nutbaggery.

          And yes, if a socialist were talking about starting a group called the "National Socialist Party" and asked for my feedback, I'd tell them that the name would be a terrible idea, and that trying to "reclaim" that term would be a poor choice on their part.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:10:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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