Extortion

extortion (noun)

ex·​tor·​tion | \ ik-ˈstȯr-shən

1 : the act or practice of extorting, especially money or other property especially : the offense committed by an official engaging in such practice.

Merriam-Webster

1. Illegal use of one’s official position or powers to obtain property, funds, or patronage.

2. The act or an instance of extorting something, as by psychological pressure.

The Free Dictionary

The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.

The Free Legal Dictionary

Law. the crime of obtaining money or some other thing of value by the abuse of one’s office or authority.

Dictionary.Com

Extortion is the crime of obtaining something from someone, especially money, by using force or threats.

The Collins Dictionary

Extortion is a crime in which one person attempts to force another person to do something against his will. Extortion is used to force the victim to give property or money to the perpetrator, or to take some action, such as giving someone a promotion, or voting for something. This is done by threatening the victim’s property, person, or loved ones with harm, by intimidating the victim, or by falsely claiming a right. While extortion cases generally must contain some type of threat to the victim, his property, or his family to be classified as extortion, it does not need to involve actual physical injury, or relate to any other specific unlawful act.

The Legal Dictionary

Don Corleone (Marlon Brando): Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, consider this justice a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.

The Godfather, screenplay by Mario Puzo

The President: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, There’s a lot of. talk about Biden’s son, that Eiden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.

Donald Trump, released transcript of phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky

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On the Campaign Trail – 1

I haven’t been paying that much attention to the Democratic Presidential Campaign. It’s way too early, and there are far too many candidates. The need for the Democrats to not only unseat El Presidente but retake the Senate and keep the House is too important to worry about who wins the eventual nomination – especially when any one of them is good enough to win. There’s strong reasoning behind the “Vote Blue – No Matter Who” slogan.

Of course, that’s not going to stop me from having opinions.

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Burying the Lede

I did not watch Mueller’s testimony yesterday, but I did read about it – even following a liveblog. I was not expecting much, since all the information was already out there. And, being a professional and as bipartisan as he could be, Mueller wasn’t going to be tricked into saying anything damning (that wasn’t already covered in his report).

Even so, there were still things that need to be mentioned. Unfortunately, the press is far more concerned with the “optics” of the hearings (the tone of the questions, Mueller’s uncertainty and reticence) and picking winners and losers than discussing the content.

So instead of headlines like “Six Takeaways from the Hearings” and the usual “Dems Disappointed”, I would have gone with something completely different if I had any front page editorial control:

MUELLER CONFIRMS TRUMP NOT EXONERATED

* Says Trump lied to cover up his involvment
* Trump can be indicted once out of office
* Schiff calls Trump “Disloyal”
* Russia still trying to interfere in our elections

See? It’s not hard.

One might come across some of these (or similar points from the hearings) buried deep in the later paragraphs of a story. To bury the lede like that is a colossal failure of journalism. I cannot tell what is in the minds of the mainstream press. Perhaps they are trying to maintain a sort of bipartisan neutrality in the matter, and not come down on one side or another. Or maybe they want to milk any “controversy” for as long as they can in order to keep readers. Or worse, they just don’t care. It can’t be that they are afraid of any pushback from daring to criticize El Presidente, can it….

Thankfully, there are still a handful of journalists (and the places that publish their work) who know what their proper role is.

A US election was hijacked. Trump stood by as it happened and profited from it. And ever since he has attempted to cover up this original sin of his presidency. At the hearing, Mueller did not rail about Trump’s serious misconduct. But in the quiet way of an institutionalist who respects norms and rules, Mueller made it clear: Trump engaged in treachery. This is not news. But it remains a defining element of the Trump presidency that deserves constant attention.

David Corn, Mother Jones

The “failure” is not of a prosecutor who found the facts but might be ill equipped to make the political case, but instead, of a country that won’t read his report and a media obsessed with scoring contests rather than focusing on the damning facts at issue.

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

What should be important to all of us is that the world heard (again) that the Russians continue to undermine our democracy, that the Trump campaign was not averse to accepting Russian help in the 2016 presidential election and actively sought to cover up its actions, and that there was convincing evidence the president of the United States obstructed justice. And those are just some of the things that were discussed at the hearings….

But when folks follow [Trump’s] lead and focus on performance and visuals rather than the substance, they’re playing Trump’s game on Trump’s turf. And when that happens, Trump wins. So if you’re playing that game and still wondering how Trump always seems to get away with the outrageous and the unconscionable, you should just look in the mirror.

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post

If only we were paying attention……

On the 2019 All Star Game

Just a few random notes – in no particular order – about this year’s All-Star Game.

Determining that one league dominates the other based on one single game – where the managers seem to place more importance on getting every player in the game instead of, you know, winning – is ludicrous. Especially in an era when players switch leagues so easily. Aside from the significant role of chance in any individual contest, taking that logic to its extreme means that Don Larsen is the greatest pitcher of all time. And how can you say one team “dominated” the other when the final score was 4-3?

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Is It Impeachment Time Yet?

As the president shows more of his general unfitness for office on a daily basis, the calls to impeach him are steadily growing more frequent and more strident from those on the farther left. Their frustration is evident, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to brush the matter aside, saying that in effect, they’ll do it when the time is right.

Pelosi is correct, of course. The time is not yet right to begin the proceedings. It’s not that we don’t yet have sufficient evidence; it’s that impeachment – though conducted as if it were a criminal proceeding – is a political process. And the situation isn’t politically ripe to even start holding hearings.

A quick review of the procedure is in order. Continue reading

Reporting on the Report

Now that the “suitable for the public’ version of the Mueller Report has been released, and we’ve had time to read it and mull over the contents, what have we learned?

First, it seems that we were overreacting about the possibility of Attorney General William Barr going overboard with his redactions. The amount, where they came in the report, and the general reasons for them, seem to actually be reasonable. Most of them were in the section about Russia’s cyberattacks and interference in the 2016 election campaign. And given that those threats are still active and being fought by the relevant intelligence agencies, it’s reasonable that one would not want to let any of the details be made public. Making them available to important members of Congress is entirely justified, though.

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On the Green New Deal

The freshmen class of Democratic representatives (and one or two on the Republican side of the aisle) came up with this nice little legislative proposal to attack global warming head-on, and deal with a few other pet social and economic issues.

As a set of policy goals or a proposed platform, it’s a lot like Wilson’s Fourteen Points. As a detailed legislative package, well, it’s a lot like Wilson’s Fourteen Points….

And it doesn’t help that its backers, so far, seem to be adopting the tactic of browbeating the opposition until they cry “Uncle!” and give up. Hanging out in the halls of Congress harassing people isn’t going to win them over to your side. Yes, the matter is extremely urgent, but why not come up with a better approach – one that explains the dangers if we don’t do anything, gives some ideas about what will have to be done to avoid that fate, and makes the necessary steps more palatable?

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Feel the Bern

So Bernie Sanders has tossed his hat into the ring. In one day, he raised kajillions of dollars, and that was enough to make him the “front runner” in the primary campaign. Nevermind that fundraising does not directly correlate with votes, and that the first actual primary is a year away, his supporters from 2016 (perhaps “fans” or “acolytes” would be a better term) are rallying around the banner.

His campaign was questionable back then, and it has some questions now. This time around, because the circumstances are quite different, he’s got a few additional hurdles in the way. We’ll leave out the fact that he’s four years older….

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Now That The Smoke Has Cleared

Well, almost cleared. Or at least cleared enough for us to see the lay of the land after the elections. Technically, there’s a Senate seat from Florida that’s heading for a recount, and in Georgia, Stacey Abrams isn’t going to concede until every single vote has been counted (seriously, why are we letting one of the candidates in *any* election be the person who sets the rules for that election?).

The Forces of Democracy did very well. Though they lost a few seats in the Senate (taking control of that house was a long shot), they did garner control of the House of Representatives. Of considerable importance as well, they won a goodly number of governorships and state offices. And several states also passed decidedly Democratic measures (like Florida, where over one million residents got their voting rights restored).

So, now what?

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On the Kavanaugh Matter

NOTE: I strongly disagree with Judge Kavanaugh’s political views. But he is entitled to them, and they are not in themselves reason to keep him off the Supreme Court. His probable perjury before Congressional committees, questionable finances, and inability to give a straightforward answer to simple questions on his judicial philosophy are.

I think (at least I *hope*) we can all agree that the vast majority of men are not sexual predators, perverts, or even creeps. But “Distinguished Man Treats Women Properly” isn’t going to sell any papers, so we’re constantly bombarded with stories of Men Behaving Badly.

The latest one has to do with a successful jurist being accused of an attempted rape that he is said to have committed over thirty-five years ago.

Whatever you think of Judge Kavanaugh or statutes of limitations, it shouldn’t be hard to see why a lot of men are nervous.

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