Tag Archives: U.S. Department of Justice

Hypocrisy in Action

I’ve often noted that conservatives can be incredible hypocrites.  For years they said no divorcee would be elected to the presidency.  Then they got Ronald Reagan, the nation’s first divorced Chief Executive, whose wife was the nation’s first divorced First Lady.  They dubbed Bill Clinton a draft dodger and condemned him for protesting against the Vietnam War while he was in college.  Then they elected George W. Bush who earned a comfortable spot in the Texas National Guard in 1968 and failed to complete his tenure.  They also elected Dick Cheney who claimed he had “other priorities” during the 1960s.

Conservative hypocrisy has reared its bigoted head once again – this time in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.  Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, Rick Scott and Tommy Tuberville submitted the correspondence to Garland complaining about what they perceive to be a double standard in punishment by the U.S. Department of Justice against the January 6 Capitol Hill rioters.  In contrast, they declare, many of the various protestors to the George Floyd killing who became violent haven’t met the same degree of discipline.

In part, the letter states:

“DOJ’s (U.S. Department of Justice) apparent unwillingness to punish these individuals who allegedly committed crimes during the spring and summer 2020 protests stands in stark contrast to the harsher treatment of the individuals charged in connection with the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. To date, DOJ has charged 510 individuals stemming from Capitol breach.  DOJ maintains and updates a webpage that lists the defendants charged with crimes committed at the Capitol. This database includes information such as the defendant’s name, charge(s), case number, case documents, location of arrest, case status, and informs readers when the entry was last updated.  No such database exists for alleged perpetrators of crimes associated with the spring and summer 2020 protests.  It is unclear whether any defendants charged with crimes in connection with the Capitol breach have received deferred resolution agreements.”

Please.  Spare me the anxiety.

The five angry White male senators don’t seem to understand the difference in the two events.  While some of the Floyd protestors devolved into rioting and vandalism, the original intent was to demonstrate against police violence; a recurring dilemma in the U.S.  The intent of the Capitol Hill rioters, however, was to disrupt congressional business and kill someone – most notably Vice-President Mike Pence.

Conservatives have warned about threats to national security posed by Islamic vigilantes and illegal immigrants for as long as I can remember.  But, these weren’t the people who stormed Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, as Pence oversaw certification of the 2020 presidential election.  The rioters were mostly White people – many of them former military and/or law enforcement – from across the country who felt their dear leader, Donald Trump, had been cheated out of a second term by a corrupt electoral system.  I can almost hear Al Gore and Hillary Clinton laughing.

But I don’t recall bands of angry liberals storming Capitol Hill in January 2001, demanding Al Gore be lynched.  I also don’t remember seeing similar renegades bursting into Capitol Hill in January 2017, calling for Joe Biden’s head.  And it’s obvious to most of us with more than half a brain that the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections were fraudulent.  Yet conservatives denounced anyone voicing their disdain to those two events as whiners and sore losers.  We were justified, though, in protesting.  But we never got violent.  No one smashed windows, kicked in doors and hollered for blood to be spilled.  Neither Al Gore nor Hillary Clinton stood before angry supporters, urging for violent retribution against Congress.

It’s ironic, however, that Merrick Garland is in a leadership position.  Five years ago President Obama nominated him to replace Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Republicans – who held a majority in the Senate – refused to grant Garland the decency of a fair hearing.  Yet, they rushed through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett last year, following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Again – hypocrisy in action.

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DOJ Files Antitrust Suit Over E-Book Pricing

Last month the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against Apple and 5 major publishers – Hachette, Harper Collins, MacMillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster – alleging collusion in e-book pricing and sales models.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis A. Pozen and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen made the announcement at DOJ headquarters in Washington, D.C.  It’s surprising to see that digital publishing – a truly 21st century technological phenomenon – has fallen under the glare of the nation’s top law enforcement official.  But, it’s equally serious – and perhaps even warranted – as the number of publishing outfits diminishes.  It appears the 5 publishers named in the suit most feared the Amazon giant.

According to the suit, filed in the Southern District of New York, the 5 publishers “feared that lower retail prices for e-books might lead eventually to lower wholesale prices for e-books, lower prices for print books, or other consequences the publishers hoped to avoid.”  It also mentions “deflating hardcover prices” and charges that the “Publisher Defendants were especially concerned that Amazon was well positioned to enter the digital publishing business and thereby supplant publishers as intermediaries between authors and consumers.”

When the 5 publishers couldn’t force Amazon to stop selling e-books at such sharply discounted prices, they conspired to increase those very same e-book prices and thereby limit competition in the sale of digital books.  To accomplish their goal, the publishers teamed up with Apple, which had the same desire to restrain retail price competition over e-books.”

The lawsuit further alleges that Apple wished to raise the profit margin for e-book retailers above what Amazon and its competitors had been making.  The suit also claims that prior to negotiating with Apple, executives with the 5 publishers engaged in a series of meetings, telephone calls and other communications where they “agreed to act collectively to force up Amazon’s retail prices and thereafter considered and implemented various means to accomplish that goal, including moving under the guise of a joint venture.”  One e-mail stated that “without a critical mass behind us Amazon won’t ‘negotiate,’ so we need to be more confident of how our fellow publishers will react…”  It also charges that publishers sought to destroy evidence and conceal their communications, showing they knew their activities were illicit.

This conspiracy would make the Enron scoundrels proud.  And, the 5 publishers almost sound like the “five families;” a.k.a. the mafia.  It’s distressing for writers, whose first love is the written word, to see the creative world run smack into the brutality of corporate politics.  There are mixed feelings.  On one side, no decent writer wants to see their publishing choices limited to just a handful of conglomerates.  On the other is the leeriness of government interference in the arts.  But, there’s a reason it’s called show business.  It’ll truly be interesting to see how far the DOJ will go with this case.

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