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Tag: richard nixon

If There's A Crime Wave, That May Well Be Trump's Fault Too

On June 8, San Francisco voters recalled the city’s most recently elected district attorney, Chesa Boudin, because of perceptions of rising crime in the city. Two days later, the public hearings of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the Capitol began.

Associating increasing crime and evidence of wrongdoing by former President Trump is not a coincidence.

There’s some debate whether crime rates have, in fact, increased. In San Francisco, for instance, the number of rapes and assaults fell below pre-pandemic levels while Boudin oversaw prosecution of crime in that city. Across the country, crime rates hardly crested in ways that suggest a wave; datapoints for all sorts of crimes, from the severe to the silly, are scattershot.

But the murder rate is the bellweather of crime data — homicides can’t easily be reclassiffied as other crimes that don’t end in death — and murder is up in San Francisco and elsewhere, rising from 5.1 per 100,000 people in 2019 to 6.5 per 100,000 people the next year, so something is happening although clear explanations elude us.

Until 2020, most blame for rises in crime landed on the so-called Ferguson Effect: the theory that public disapproval of law enforcement, as evidenced by mass protests, causes police officers to either fear enforcing the law because of criticism or legal liability, or to refuse to do their jobs without broad public support. Heather MacDonald, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, championed this explanation of crime. Former Director of the FBI, James Comey, reinforced the same idea in 2016; instead of calling it the Ferguson Effect, he called it the “viral video effect.”

There’s a perception that police are less likely to do the marginal additional policing that suppresses crime — the getting out of your car at 2 in the morning and saying to a group of guys, ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’” he told reporters.

But right now, criminologists don’t know why violent crime is up in certain places. Inflation explains the increase in property crimes, but the increase in violent crimes is somewhat of a mystery, one that finds convenient explanation for the unprecedented chaos of 2020-21: The pandemic, stupid.

A change in routine activities is related to a change in crime,” says Richard Rosenfeld, Curator’s distinguished professor emeritus of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

“One criminologist has referred to the pandemic as the greatest criminological experiment in history,” Rosenfeld continued. “I don't know if that's the case, but it certainly did fall in line with, in my business, what we refer to as the routine activity theory of crime. That is how crime patterns are tied to the day to day activities of the population.”

It makes sense to invoke COVID commotion to explain the unexplainable. But other historical events occurred simultaneously with the pandemic: namely, impeachments of the president.

The House of Representatives voted to impeach then-President Donald J. Trump on December 18, 2019 and the Senate acquitted him on February 5, 2020, two days after the Trump administration declared COVID-19 a public health emergency and twenty days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned of a pandemic.

That was just the first impeachment. The second iteration of impeachment — when the House voted to impeach Trump again on January 13, 2021 and the Senate acquittal happened exactly a month later — coincided with the pandemic's second wave of infections.

The causation that some criminologists are attributing to the pandemic might well belong to the formal accusations against the leader of the free world.

Understanding why the crimes of a president could inspire or unleash crime amongst the electorate is where political sociology and the study of deviant behavior collide. Researchers from Washington State University went directly to that intersection, hypothesizing that, after the Watergate scandal, government institutions’ perceived loss of legitimacy would cause an “increased risk of revolution, rebellion, and/or wholesale violations of the laws.”

While the attitudes of people surveyed didn’t adhere to the hypotheses exactly, crime did increase after Watergate; the researchers weren’t wrong. After the crimes and cover ups committed by the various personalities connected with the scandal revealed themselves starting in 1972, rates of lawbreaking — outside the White House — rose, and significantly. Between 1973 and 1974, the number of overall crimes committed increased by 1,535,000, one of the largest jumps in the country’s history. Between 1974 and 1975, that same count went up by over one million again: 1,039,000 more crimes overall.

To be clear, the idea that a public exposure of wrongdoing at the highest levels of government and society delimits deviance doesn’t track entirely. In 1998, President Bill Clinton underwent the same House indictment-Senate acquittal two-step Trump did, but crime decreased in 1999 and thereafter.

But Clinton’s impeachment was different; institutions didn’t lose their legitimacy during that process— despite unethical and unorthodox behavior by special counsel Kenneth W. Starr and the three judge panel in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals that appointed him.

The Monica Lewinsky scandal was about what a man did in the Oval Office, not the office itself. A president can ethically get his joint copped while occupying the position. Clinton was a classic case of sexual indiscretion, perhaps even harassment. His behavior was inexcusable, for sure, but nothing that the average cad hadn’t already done or couldn’t do in his own workplace.

Orchestrating break-ins on political opponents – whether in some swank Northwest Washington apartment complex or the House of Representatives — is never legal or ethical. These indiscretions are rarefied, almost impossible for the average American to conceive, much less pull off. It would make sense that exposing them could unleash mass repudiation of the criminal code.

This explanation of crime spikes doesn’t debunk the Ferguson Effect, which posits that police recede in the face of criticism of their treatment of the public. Rather, it’s the flip side of Ferguson; that criticism of police is just a symptom of law enforcement’s loss of institutional legitimacy. Crime follows the fall, like it did after Watergate, and as it’s likely doing now.

There’s not quite enough evidence — mercifully, the United States Congress hasn’t completed enough impeachments for a robust study sample — to conclude that indicting and tossing a president of office can set off a crime spree. It’s still just a theory. But it’s not an outlandish one.

Chandra Bozelko did time in a maximum-security facility in Connecticut. While inside she became the first incarcerated person with a regular byline in a publication outside of the facility. Her “Prison Diaries" column ran in The New Haven Independent, and she later established a blog under the same name that earned several professional awards. Her columns now appear regularly in The National Memo.

The 'Soft On Crime' Party? It's Not The Democrats

"Soft on crime" is the old dog whistle that Republican senators like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley used to smear Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as they attempted to derail her historic Supreme Court nomination. Their racist deception failed. Jackson is almost certain to be confirmed — and her strong public approval ratings rose after the disgraceful performance of Cruz, Hawley and their GOP colleagues during her nomination hearings.

But let's consider the Republican regurgitation of that familiar phrase, certain to be heard over and over again before November's midterm election. Look back in history, look around today, and one fact is pretty obvious: It's the Republican Party and its leadership that are ridiculously squishy on crime, perhaps due to their continuing propensity for criminal behavior.

The president who most memorably deployed that epithet in my own early political experience was Richard M. Nixon, whose campaigns relied heavily on racialized crime rhetoric. Of course, he resigned from office just ahead of the prosecutors who could easily have sent him to prison for a long roster of felonies — from bribery, extortion, obstruction of justice and witness tampering to conspiracy and tax evasion. His vice president Spiro Agnew also departed under a cloud of criminal prosecution and barely avoided prison after acknowledging various petty bribes.

"I am not a crook," Nixon lied. (His symbolic legacy can be seen in a tattoo on the back of political crook Roger Stone, who made his bones as a low-level Watergate offender and whose more recent felony convictions were pardoned by Donald Trump — but we'll get to that.)

Despite Nixon's epoch-making scandal, he was surpassed in at least one respect by Ronald Reagan, another loud critic of Democrats' supposed coddling of criminals. By the end of Reagan's two terms, his administration had established a new and still unsurpassed record for the number of felony convictions of federal officials in American presidential history. In scandals that ranged from Pentagon procurement scams to influence peddling, perjury and the sale of arms to the Iranian mullahs, the Reaganites displayed an impressive range of delinquency — including Edwin Meese, the law-and-order attorney general who came within a hair's breadth of indictment in a defense contracting scandal and resigned his office in disgrace.

Given that tawdry history, it may be hard to believe that those were the good old days. Yet the Republican Party has since developed an even greater tolerance for villainy of every kind, as epitomized by its Dear Leader and would-be 2024 nominee, Donald J. Trump.

Trump had mastered the art of escaping accountability for felonious misconduct even before he entered the Oval Office — as we know from looking back at his numerous alleged tax crimes, swindles and perjuries. It is an art he has since perfected, as anyone can see by consulting the handy catalog provided by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group. Included there is the copious evidence revealed by former FBI director Robert Mueller, a lifelong Republican, that Trump committed numerous obstructions of justice. He couldn't be prosecuted because he was president.

Certainly, no president has ever been as "soft on crime" as Trump himself. He repeatedly abused the pardon power to protect his own hide from potential testimony by his criminal associates — notably including the aforementioned Stone, his former campaign manager and massive tax criminal Paul Manafort and his former adviser Steve Bannon, who escaped trial for swindling gullible conservatives in his "We Build the Wall" crowdfunding scam. Trump also pardoned Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter, two former Republican members of Congress convicted on a raft of felony charges — but then again, Republican voters had already reelected both scoundrels.

If he could, Trump would surely exonerate the mob that attacked police officers, vandalized the Capitol and sought to murder his own vice president on Jan. 6, 2021 — many of them losers, like Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, with extensive prior criminal records. In fact, he praised them even before their excrement was mopped up from the Capitol hallways. To Trump and many of the Republicans in his political entourage, those insurrectionist thugs are "patriots."

Still, the criminal and other deviant behavior among Republican politicians is now worrying party leaders, who fear that prominent GOP midterm candidates are just too sleazy to win. Why is it even possible for a man like Eric Greitens — who resigned as Missouri governor because of his violent crimes against women — to return as a serious contender in that state's U.S. Senate race? Well, Greitens boasts the support of that law-and-order avatar Rudy Giuliani, now under criminal investigation, and members of the Trump family. The former president has enthusiastically endorsed other candidates credibly accused of similar offenses, including Herschel Walker in Georgia and Max Miller in Ohio.

Maybe the Republicans should stop calling anybody "soft on crime" — unless they're talking about themselves.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

How Biden Is Reversing Four Decades Of Reaganism

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Four decades after the Reagan era, the United States has embraced another president who could reshape the ideology behind the size of the American government. A new op-ed published by The New York Times highlights the similarities and differences between President Joe Biden and former President Ronald Reagan.

While Reagan aimed to drastically alter the size of the American government and its spending, it appears Biden plans to embrace the same type of changes — but in reverse. The former senator spent his younger years working with Republicans and other Democratic lawmakers to bring down the government's deficit by curbing spending. But, things are quite different now.

According to the essay by columnist Lisa Lerer, Biden has "put forward a very different approach, one that historians, political scientists and strategists in both parties believe could signal the end of fiscal conservative dominance in our politics"

During Biden's recent speech before Congress, he signaled that his agenda would be "packed with "once in a generation" investments that would touch nearly every corner of American life, everything from cancer research to child care to climate change."

"It's time we remembered that 'we the people' are the government. You and I," Biden said. "Not some force in a distant capital."

When former President Barack Obama took office in 2009, he made it clear that he was completely aware of how Reagan's policies influenced lawmakers' perspective on spending and deficits.

"Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not, and in a way that Bill Clinton did not," Mr. Obama said during his 2008 campaign. "He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like, you know, with all the excesses of the '60s and the '70s, and government had grown and grown, but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating."

But despite his awareness, Obama faced a substantial number of hurdles and was ultimately unable to gain bipartisan support for many of his proposed legislation and policies. Subsequently, he too began adjusting his presidential agenda.

However, the silver lining is that the Biden administration may be able to close in the gaps and accomplish some of the initiatives the Obama administration could not.

Trump Faces Pardon Dilemma As He Maneuvers To Avoid Indictment




This article was produced by the
Independent Media Institute.

Donald Trump is becoming more fearful and anxious by the day. Above everything else, he desperately wants to save his own skin and avoid spending his remaining days outfitted in an orange prison jumpsuit. This is why, as the legal challenges to his humiliating defeat at the polls fail one by one, he will eventually shed his phony tough-guy facade and seek refuge in a presidential pardon for the myriad of federal felonies he may have committed.

The question is not whether Trump will pursue the pardon remedy, but precisely when and how he will do so. Even though a presidential pardon would apply only to federal offenses and leave him exposed to charges under New York law arising from the ongoing probe conducted by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, he has no other viable choice.

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Like Nixon, Trump Evades Taxes — But The Striking Similarities Only Begin There

Donald Trump's tax returns are the talk of the town, and news outlets and the Twittersphere are humming with comparisons to another White House occupant plagued by tax scandals: Richard Nixon.

"'People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook,' Nixon said," tweeted Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell on Monday. "The comment wasn't about Watergate, but rather funny business in his tax returns."

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‘Law And Order’ Is Trump’s Only Play

The Queen of Soul sang it clearly. The "Respect" Aretha Franklin was craving — yes, demanding — in that classic is still in short supply for black Americans. More protesters have been arrested than police officers involved in the death of George Floyd, the black Minneapolis man who died after now-former officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on the handcuffed man's neck for nearly nine minutes while three fellow officers stood by or assisted.

Would there have been protests across the country and the world if Chauvin and his fellow officers had been charged immediately? There is no way to know for sure. But it is clear that the anguished reaction has been about much more than the death of one man, and has been generations in the making.

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Trump Can’t Win By Stoking White Fear Of Riots

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Nineteen-sixty-eight was one of the most tumultuous years in American history. Cities across the country burned after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Robert Kennedy was gunned down a few months later. There was a lot of crime, and widespread unrest in response to the seemingly endless war in Vietnam. A bloody police riot marred the Democratic National Convention.

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Trump Says He ‘Learned From Nixon’ — But Did He?

Donald Trump on Friday morning defended his behavior and comments surrounding the Russia investigation, saying he "learned a lot from Richard Nixon" about how to handle probes into his administration.

"I learned a lot. I study history," Trump said in an interview with Fox & Friends — referring to what he learned from Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre," in which Nixon fired Department of Justice officials looking into his handling of the Watergate scandal.

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