Guillermo Calvo Mahé and Diana Marcela Cardenas Garcia, November 30, 2018
Late last night (November 29, 2018), Gregg Jarrett, a partisan Republican published an important article, not necessarily objective but accurate just the same (“Cohen guilty plea does absolutely nothing to show wrongdoing by Trump”, Fox News). It raises an issue far more general and far more abusive than the point he successfully made. The utter unfairness and unreliability of the principal pillar of the ill-named United States justice system.
The examples cited by Mr. Jarrett illustrate why I have long criticized the concept of plea bargaining, now spreading to Colombia where, although a United States citizen, I currently reside. It always either helps the guilty or hurts the innocent and such utter incoherence is justified because of judicial and prosecutorial docket congestion (the probability is that one in five of every incarcerated Americans is imprisoned unfairly). The argument used to justify the plea bargaining concept is that if every criminal charge had to go to trial the judicial and prosecutorial systems would collapse. Libertarians argue that a much better, more reasonable and more just solution would be to amend penal codes by reducing the number of human actions and interactions legally prohibited to a manageable level (especially so called victimless crimes, like most drug related offenses) and to prioritize their prosecution so that resources are allocated to prosecuting the most serious among them. They also argue that the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments’ due process provisions require that such be the case. The “guilty pleas” in the Mueller indictments to date represent the very worst aspects of the plea bargaining system, not only because, as in the case of confessions elicited under torture they are utterly unreliable, but because the related investigations are designed to create allegedly criminal activity for mere partisan political purposes where none, at least not relevant to the investigation’s purported purpose, existed.
In totalitarian systems penal laws are designed so that the maximum number of people violate one or more government imposed prohibitions making virtually everyone guilty of something. Consequently, virtually anyone can be selectively prosecuted in order to maximize government control and affect who gets to participate in governance. The Mueller “investigation” into alleged Russian interference in the United States presidential election of 2016 meets the foregoing description and little else. It is limited to Russia and to the Trump campaign ignoring “meddling” on behalf of Mr. Trump’s opponent by many foreign powers, something both her campaign and the corporate media (a much more accurate term than mainstream media) bragged about not only during the 2016 campaign but also when she ran against Barrack Obama (see, e.g., “Bill boasts that world leaders are pulling for Hillary”, Michael Saul, New York Daily News, Sep 23, 2007; “The world is pulling for Clinton” by Joseph Joffe published in USA Today on October 3, 2016; and, from the right, “Foreigners Want Hillary Clinton for President: A Good Reason to Vote for Donald Trump” by Doug Brandow published in The National Interest on October 28, 2016).
As important as the reality of how unfair the plea bargaining system is, perhaps even more important is the impact of the Mueller investigation on the notion of functional democracy. The concept behind the Mueller investigation utterly ignores the fact that United States voters are entitled to all the information and opinions necessary to make informed electoral decisions, regardless of the sources, and that in a globalized, United States-led world, people and governments everywhere have a legitimate interest in sharing information with the United States electorate to influence United States elections in their favor. That is what the First Amendment is all about. It is for the American electorate itself to evaluate the information they receive, determining its relevancy and accuracy, not for self-appointed censors such as Facebook or Google or Twitter to do so, purportedly saving us from ourselves. Certainly that is not an appropriate role for all too frequently discredited intelligence agencies. Unfortunately, the United States corporate media ignores that necessity, having eschewed real journalism in favor of dissemination of paid propaganda and purported entertainment.
I recall a quote from long ago that has always impacted me, one declaimed by Walt Kelly’s newspaper comic strip character Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us”. Today, we seem much more like the Stalinist government of the Soviet Union during the 1930’s and 1940’s than the utopian “beacon on a hill” we perceive ourselves to be; much more like the society George Orwell warned against in his two political novels, 1984 and Animal Farm, few things illustrating such reality as does the current Democratic Party inspired Mueller witch-hunt.
I do not care for Donald Trump as a person. Unlike his former pals, Bill and Hillary Clinton (as well as many, many other Democratic Party politicians) who fed at the trough of his political largesse, I have never liked him, perhaps an unfair reaction on my part. I criticized him in posts on Citadel Facebook sites during the early stages of his successful presidential campaign as unworthy of our support because of his refusal to aid his alma mater (New York Military Academy) in its hour of need, and, in most instances, I do not support his policies feeling that they are short sighted even when successful. But he is not always wrong and his characterizations of the Mueller investigation and of most news reporting in the United States today are spot on. Not that Mr. Trump is a fount of veracity and accuracy but he is a much lesser danger to democracy, liberty and pluralism than are his deranged opponents in their anti-Quixotic quest to undo the results of the Clinton defeat in the last presidential election. The real dangers to the American electorate and to the world in general lie in the constant harrying of nuclear armed Russia, in the Mueller led subversion of the United States system of justice and in the subversion of “truth, justice and the [purported] American way” (see the old Superman television series) through self-serving and unreliable plea bargains.
Something to think about.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé and Diana Marcela Cardenas Garcia; Manizales, 2018; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at email@example.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at www.guillermocalvo.com. Diana Marcela Cardenas Garcia is a Colombian social communicator and journalist who collaborates with Dr. Calvo on diverse civic, social and political projects.