Power Abuse by the Power Elite

Charles J HynesPower concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. — Frederick Douglass

Keep those words in mind. Always. It doesn’t matter how friendly or noble power seems. Power is like the will. Before Obama became president, he seemed like someone who was against the overreach of presidential power. Hell, he still seems that way. Yet his administration has been one of the most abusive of any—just ask John Kiriakou. But that’s old news, I suppose.

Friday, I saw a very interesting article over at Talking Points Memo, Ex-Brooklyn DA Accused of Funneling a Whole Lot of Money to Political Consultant. According to the article, Charles J Hynes used “money seized from drug dealers and other criminal defendants to pay a political consultant in his failed re-election campaign last year.” I just love this because it gets to the very heart of what is wrong with our society. According to the power elite from the 1980s onward, non-sanctioned drug use was so terrible that due process didn’t matter. If the police thought someone was a drug dealer but they couldn’t prove it, they just took his possessions and then it was up to him to prove that he wasn’t a drug dealer.

Notice that the Tea Party and other conservative apologists get up in arms about a 4.9 percentage point increase in the top marginal tax rate. That is tyranny! That is theft! But when it happens to relatively poor people, well, they just don’t care. And the fact that all it has managed to do with all this totally unconstitutional theft is make drugs more available to users, doesn’t really matter. Because it isn’t about protecting the poor drug addict; it is about taking money from the poor and potential interlopers and giving it to the rich and powerful.

In the case of Hynes, he used the money to try (unsuccessfully it turned out) to stay in power. But this was hardly the first time that Hynes had abused his power. There were a number of high profile cases. A good example was his prosecution of John O’Hara for voting in the wrong district—a form of voter fraud. He was prosecuted because O’Hara ran against one of Hynes’ political allies. There are lots of wrongful murder prosecutions too of course. And there is much else, because in addition to simply being a terrible person, Hynes was a District Attorney: the most powerful position in our legal system. And repeat after me, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

But the use of raw government theft from the powerless—something that pretty much everyone in the power elite thinks is just fine—to illegally try to stay in power is almost too much. But it gets better. The money, taken from poor people, was used by Hynes and given to “widely respected jurist” Barry Kamins. Kamins and Hynes discussed how to attack Hynes’ Democratic primary opponent Kenneth P Thompson. But that’s not all. They also discussed pending cases, which I suspect is totally common, but technically wrong, and morally outrageous.

Kamins’ lawyer’s justification was this, “Joe Hynes and Judge Kamins have been good friends for 40 years and have talked politics for much of that time.” He said other things, but that’s the meat of it. And the fact that he (and probably most people in the power elite) think that is fine is a big part of the problem. I don’t want cops being friends with prosecutors; I don’t want prosecutors being friends with judges. For all of those people, the whole legal system is just a game that they get paid to play. But for the people who get arrested and prosecuted and imprisoned, it is something much bigger.

Jabbar Collins spent 15 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit because of misconduct by Hynes’ office. After being freed, Collins sued various prosecutors:

The lawsuit charged that prosecutors in the district attorney’s office routinely coerced witnesses to testify through illegal threats and intimidation, and that Hynes “maintained a policy, custom and/or practice of deliberate indifference to violations by his employees of the constitutional rights of individuals who were investigated and criminally prosecuted.” In a hearing for the lawsuit, Judge Frederic Block said Vecchione’s behavior in Collins’ trial had been “horrendous” and asked the lawyer for the city, “Hynes hasn’t treated it seriously, has he?” In February 2013, Block denied the city’s motion to dismiss the suit, but said that while Collins could move forward in the suit against New York City, Vecchione and the other individual prosecutors named were immune to prosecution.

Which does get to the very core of the issue in the abuses of the power elite. They get promoted and they make money by abusing the powerless. But when they get caught, nothing happens to them. Collins may win his lawsuit, but it won’t be the people who colluded against him who will pay the price. So it makes perfect sense that Hynes and Kamins thought they were above the law—because they pretty much are above the law. And in the end of this, they will get some minor punishment. But it won’t destroy their lives—not like it did the lives of so many poor people who they prosecuted and punished.

Afterword

I cropped that image of Hynes above so that you could see that American flag lapel pin. I just love that. So patriotic! Like most of the power elite, he loves America! It’s just its ideals and people he’s not so hot on.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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