HomeUncategorizedWe need to do better than “anyone but Trump”.

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BennyLeu2500orlbucfanDon midwestmagsview Recent comment authors

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Thank you Subir!

I totally agree with you-we (urgently) need to do better than ‘anyone-but-Trump’.

We don’t have the luxury of eight years of minimal, or even no, progress. And we need M4A yesterday.

Don midwest
Don midwest

It didn’t work last time and it has been a huge way to get donations and it saved MSNBD

Therefore, do it all over again!

We are less bad.


T and R, Subir!! 🙂


“People like Paul Manafort, guilty of innumerable crimes, get handed watered down sentences by judges who suddenly discover the injustice of mandatory sentencing rules when the person receiving the sentence looks like them. Meanwhile, the same judges don’t blink twice at sending a poor, black/brown person to jail for years over the theft of some bread.”

Sorry, but this is factually incorrect.

2 judges sentenced Manafort. Judge Jackson sentenced Manafort within guidlines. A portion of her sentence had to run concurrent with Manafort’s sentence in VA because they were for the same crime. You could disagree on how severe she felt the witness tampering was, but she laid out logical, coherent reasons why she believed he didn’t deserve the max on that.

Judge Ellis is another story. He went way on the low side. But there was no mandatory minimum for the crimes Manafort was convicted of. Where I felt, and a lot of other people felt, Ellis went too light was on the “Manafort has led a blameless life.” Yeah, except for all the years he committed crimes & just didn’t get caught/charged with. “He’s a low risk of recidivism” except for his witness tampering, his violating his plea agreement, the additional, unconfessed money laundering the SCO was still trying to figure out. Ellis pretty much seems to have picked a number & then tried to – and failed – to justify it.

However, while Ellis has given out mandatory minimums where the law requires – usually drug cases – he is a critic of them. https://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2018/07/06/t-s-ellis-mandatory-minimum-sentences-697826

Ellis has complained directly to Congress about what he’s called the “excessive” sentences required for some offenders. He’s also publicly lamented the situation, as he did recently during a drug dealer’s sentencing that took place in an Alexandria, Virginia courtroom packed with national media, high-powered prosecutors and others awaiting a key hearing in the case against Manafort.

“This situation presents me with something I have no discretion to change and the only thing I can do is express my displeasure,” Ellis said last week as he sentenced Frederick Turner, 37, to a mandatory minimum of 40 years in prison for dealing methamphetamine. “I chafe a bit at that, but I follow the law. If I thought it was blatantly immoral, I’d have to resign. It’s wrong, but not immoral.”


However, in another case, the 78-year-old judge is going even further.

In April, confronted by a 28-year-old armed robbery convict facing a mandatory minimum 82-year sentence, Ellis’ frustration grew so intense that he balked at imposing what he called a “very severe” sentence. Instead, the judge recruited a high-powered law firm to scour the law in search of some way to avoid imposing what is effectively a life sentence on Lamont Gaines, who was convicted of a string of robberies of 7-11 stores and a check-cashing business.

The judge appointed Daniel Suleiman, a former aide to Attorney General Eric Holder, to come up with any argument that might help Gaines win a more lenient sentence. Suleiman, a partner at Covington & Burling, set on one possibility: a Supreme Court ruling in April that invalidated a law very similar to the one requiring the lengthy sentence for Gaines.

In a brief filed last month, Suleiman argued that the April decision has “direct application” to Gaines’ case and “would permit this Court not to sentence Gaines to 82 years.”

Federal prosecutors rejected that argument last week, insisting that the 82-year sentence is still required in the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander Blanchard and Rebeca Bellows filed a brief urging Ellis to consider Gaines “real-world conduct” and reminding the judge that the defendant “endangered…victims’ lives and instilled them with the fear they would be physically harmed.”

Ellis has yet to signal whether he’ll buy into the new argument to cut down the potential sentence in Gaines’ case.

Ellis’ current preoccupation with federal sentencing laws is not that the mandatory minimums for specific crimes are too harsh, but that in cases involving multiple charges the result can be unjust, resulting in decades of extra incarceration for a defendant who chooses to go to trial rather than plead guilty.

And judges don’t set the mandatory minimums. Legislators do. So if we the voters don’t agree with mandatory minimums, if we the voters believe that white collar crime is too lightly punished, then we the voters need to elect legislators who share our values.


My observation from a perch is that this particular cycle has become more of choosing the American Idol than who has the vision and the movement going for him (or her).

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