The sentence handed down by Judge T.S. Ellis to Paul Manafort is shockingly light. Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman was convicted of various financial crimes and could have ended up with 25 years in prison. Instead, Judge Ellis sentenced him to 47 months. To add insult to the overall injury, Ellis opined that Manafort had lived “an otherwise blameless life” as part of the justification for the light sentence.
Judge Ellis handed down a fundamentally biased sentence. Law Twitter is right about that, and rightly inflamed. Ellis is the same judge who gave former Louisiana congressman Bill Jefferson a 13-year sentence following conviction on corruption charges. It’s the longest sentence ever handed out to a member of Congress. (Jefferson was released after serving only four years, when Ellis accepted a Jefferson plea deal in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonnell v. United States, which redefined our understanding of bribery of public officials.) This seems like a good time to mention that Jefferson is an African American while Manafort is an otherwise blameless white man.
One of the most stupid lies he has repeatedly told was that he didn’t drink much, even though all signs point to the opposite. Well, one of his Yale classmates and roommate of Debbie Ramirez (second accuser), Liz Swisher, went on CNN to directly contradict his ridiculous “I was a totally sober choir boy” story.
Austrac may or may not have given CBA assurances that it would warn it ahead of any action but it is consistent with what we know of the banks and their regulators that they expect to be forewarned of any regulatory action and they expect to be given – and almost always are given – the ability to negotiate an out-of-court settlement on any issue of substance.
Frustration and bewilderment are common in media accounts of this administration’s expansive chaos. Even well educated writers turn to expletives, as if proper language were inadequate to convey the shock and dismay. Still, it is not that difficult to identify the source of puzzlement: neither Trump nor his appointees follow the rules. From the beginning he has systematically pursued the substitution of a pre-modern style of arbitrary rule for a modern, rule-based government. What we call chaos is what he calls power. The bad news is that, with help from a gullible press, this administration has been surprisingly successful in confusing these two systems in the public mind. That is dangerous. The longer we fail to mark the distinction between arbitrary and rule-based government, the more successfully the president can install personal privilege as the default conception of authority in the popular imagination.
In an article titled Inside the terrifying mind of Tony Abbott, Bernard Keane quotes a study from 2015 which looks into the psychological basis for climate change denial and why one particular demographic — older white males — tends to dominate the ranks of climate denialists. The study identified that “denial is driven partly by…