Thursday, December 21, 2017

Notes from the Kakistocracy: Postville Pardon

Some things are impossible by definition: four sided  triangles, married bachelors; others, by laws of nature:faster than light speeds. In this last year, I see now that there is another category of impossibility---call it politically impossible, and in Trump's kakistocracy, it is impossible to be too cynical.

Case in point: Trump just commuted the prison sentence of an Iowa meatpacking executive whose business relied on i) exploiting undocumented workers from Central America, many of whom are languishing in prison right now for immigration related offenses, and ii) fraudulent financial dealings. Did I mention that a) his business was kosher meat packing, and b) he's orthodox jewish---Lubovitch in point of fact, and c) Alan Dershowitz has been his lawyer, the same Dershowitz who has been appearing on tv as if on an infinite loop arguing that presidents can't obstruct justice as a matter of legal impossibility (there's another category of impossibilities for you)?
President Trump on Wednesday commuted the prison sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, whose Iowa meatpacking plant was the target of a huge immigration raid in 2008, and whose 27-year prison sentence angered many Orthodox Jews.
Mr. Rubashkin made national headlines nine years ago after federal agents arrived by helicopter at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, and detained nearly 400 undocumented immigrants, including several children, who were working there. Mr. Rubashkin was the company’s chief executive, and the plant had been the largest kosher meatpacking operation in the country. He was later convicted of bank fraud in federal court.
Many Jewish leaders have rallied behind Mr. Rubashkin, whose treatment they said was unfair, perhaps even anti-Semitic, and whose sentence they considered unduly harsh and out of line with what other white-collar criminals received. Mr. Rubashkin had tried for years to get a reduced sentence, but was repeatedly turned down by the courts.
“The president’s review of Mr. Rubashkin’s case and commutation decision were based on expressions of support from members of Congress and a broad cross-section of the legal community,” the White House statement said.
Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, said on Twitter that the commutation was “a real Hanukkah miracle” and that he was “proud to be a part of a large, bipartisan group” that had pushed for that outcome.
Gag me with a fucking menorah.
Alan M. Dershowitz, an emeritus law professor at Harvard and a noted author, said he had been working on the case for about five years and had personally asked Mr. Trump to consider commutation. Mr. Dershowitz said he had made a similar request to Barack Obama during his presidency, but that he had declined.
“It was just compassion and justice,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “This was a bipartisan thing. It was a nonpartisan thing. And it was the right thing to do.”
But the commutation was not universally cheered. Robert Teig, a former federal prosecutor in Iowa, said that Mr. Rubashkin’s sentence “was what he earned because of his conduct” and that “it’s a sad state when politics are allowed to interfere with the justice system.”
“Really, this is 180 degrees contrary to a tough position on illegal immigration,” said Mr. Teig, who said Mr. Rubashkin had probably been Iowa’s largest employer of undocumented immigrants.
You get that wrinkle? Is it a surprise? Trump's war against immigration isn't targeting businesses that exploit undocumented immigrants (some of his businesses rely on that). It is against the immigrants themselves.

What happened to the plant employees? Do they get any presidential amnesty? Commutations? Pardons? No, that would be one Hanukkah miracle too far.
Around 300 employees of the plant, many of whom were Guatemalan, served prison sentences for identity theft, and several managers and supervisors were convicted of felony charges of harboring illegal immigrants. The immigration-related charges against Mr. Rubashkin were dropped after he was convicted of fraud. Prosecutors in his case said he had fabricated collateral for loans, causing the banks to lose more than $26 million.
Interested in this case? I recommend you start your research with Postville, by Stephen Bloom.

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