Category Archives: Law/Justice

Saturday Odds & Sods: Up Above My Head

Trout and Reflected Tree by Neil Welliver.

The weather rollercoaster continues unabated in New Orleans. We’ve gone from air dish weather to heater weather and back again. One day of the French Quarter Fest was rained out, which resulted in wet tourists whining about the wash-out. It was a day I was glad to no longer be a shopkeeper. Dealing with drowned Quarter rats was never any fun.

One of Grace’s colleagues gave us fancy club seats to the Saenger Theatre’s Broadway series complete with free food and valet parking. Thanks, Ritu. We saw Rent, which I liked a lot. The best part of the evening was a bossy African-American woman usher who combined sternness and politeness.  One patron was confused about how they ordered the rows and the usher said, “You’re in row H. It’s the alphabet, m’am. It’s the alphabet.” Fuckin’ A.

You’re probably wondering why an agnostic is posting a gospel tune as this week’s theme song. It’s because Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an amazing singer, songwriter, and character.  Up Above My Head is also a real toe-tapper. What’s not to love about a church lady with an electric guitar? We have three versions: Sister Rosetta, Rhiannon Giddens, and the Jayhawks.

Now that we’re imbued with the spirit, let’s jump to the break.

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Tenure: Thanks for fucking it up for everybody else

I’ve written before here about the fundamental misunderstanding most people have about tenure, including why it matters, how it works and what it’s supposed to provide. The simplest explanation is that tenure guarantees educators and scholars at institutions of higher education the right to fearlessly challenge convention within a field, seek scholarship in areas that might not jibe with social norms and conduct research in ways their expertise dictates is necessary and valuable.

It’s not meant to protect you when you act like a dick.

Unfortunately, the public seems to think that tenure does this, which is why they’re constantly looking for ways to eliminate it. The term “life time employment” is bandied about whenever tenure is discussed, as is the idea of ivory towers, elitism and generally haughty assholes.

And, again, when people like Randa Jarrar and John McAdams are in the news, it’s easy to see why the public thinks this way.

Jarrar, a creative-writing professor at Fresno State, took to Twitter in the wake of Barbara Bush’s death to call her “racist” and accuse her of having raised “a war criminal.” (I’m assuming she meant Millie, but I could be wrong.)

barbara

She then followed up with this gem:

In another tweet, the professor wrote: “I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee.”

Of course, everything is subtle and nuanced on Twitter, so she completely solved the problem of a grieving nation in less than 280 characters…

Or, a large group of angry Twitter users started spreading this dung pile like Nutella all over the place, allowing CAPS LOCK NATION to come flailing at this educator.

And of course, because Twitter is a place of reason, logic and decency, Jarrar said she understood their point, she did not wish to continue the argument and she quietly let the issue die…

OR, she decided to fuck with each and every one of them over and over again, including posting what was supposedly her private phone number, but actually turned out to be a suicide prevention hotline in Arizona. This led to CAPS LOCK NATION flooding the center with threatening calls and preventing actual work from getting done, so that was helpful…

Still, of all the stupid shit that came out of this, the one that really had me considering a CAPS LOCK NATION MEMBERSHIP CARD was her mention that she had tenure and then this:

“I will never be fired.”

Fresno State says it’s “looking into the matter” which means that six people are now in a room going, “So… that happened…” Still, it’s better than what Marquette University is dealing with this week, thanks to an angry tenured professor on the other end of the political spectrum.

John McAdams is the poli sci prof and “everybody’s asshole grandpa in every bad comedy film” who used his blog as a cudgel against colleagues and foes alike. The university had a stack of paper on this guy dating back to the Clinton administration, all of which basically demonstrating he’s the exact reason people think tenure is a “Designated Asshole Pass.”

The U apparently found the straw that broke the camel’s back in McAdams’ post about a grad student teaching a class, in which a conservative student voiced an opinion the instructor found to be homophobic. McAdams posted about her by name and apparently encouraged people to “let your voice be heard,” which is a great code phrase for “break out the caps lock and call her a whore.” He apparently also was hostile to her, to the point where she dropped out of her program and finished elsewhere.

MU suspended McAdams and he’s now at the state’s Supreme Court, suing to get his job back. His argument is that tenure protects him and that his “free speech” on the blog should not allow for retaliation. (Point of order: Marquette is a private school, so this gets even weirder, as the court is clearly figuring out…)

So, to recap, two people who have diametrically opposing belief systems and who teach in two fields that just scream to John Q. Public “If my kid majors in this, he’s never getting a fucking job,” are espousing their rights to be assholes. They also are arguing their dickish behavior is protected by tenure so, “neener, neener, neeeeennnerrr…”

And academics wonder why people hate us…

Tenure is supposed to be a shield against the encroachment of external forces as we use our expertise to find out greater truths and research complex problems that may go against the societal grain. Running your mouth on social media and then hiding behind your “big friend” isn’t what anyone had in mind for this thing. Even more, all it does is really fuck over the rest of us who are actually doing those things and understand there is a concept called objective reality, something you bypassed long ago.

We’re like the people who are in a fraternity who have good GPAs, do good philanthropy work and then have to explain, “No, we’re not those idiots from Syracuse.” No matter what we say, people are still giving us the stink eye.

So, on behalf of the actual working scholars, academics and people who teach without managing to say shit like “y’know what’s wrong with the Coloreds these days,” I’d like to thank professors Jarrar and McAdams and others who think tenure is a lifetime “get out of fuckups free card,” thank you for fucking this up for the rest of us.

 

Client Number 3

Everything involving Michael Cohen has a zany aspect:

In a letter Sunday night, Cohen’s attorneys claimed that Cohen had been engaged in “traditional legal tasks” with at least three clients in 2017 through 2018. The letter named President Donald Trump, who has already sought to get involved in the current dispute over the seized documents, and Elliot Broidy, a GOP fundraiser for whom Cohen arranged a hush payment for a Playboy model he impregnated, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cohen resisted naming the third client, citing his client’s preference that his identity not be made public.

And Client Number 3 is Sean Hannity.

I wonder if hush money was involved? Hannity has always had a devoted family man facade so it if it is, this is getting juicier by the day. From now on, I shall call Hannity Client Number 3. I’d like to thank Michael Cohen for helping me out. That’s much funnier than Fox News Meathead even if the latter is true.

Pass the popcorn and cue the Hannity GIF:

Someone Sean GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Comeypalooza 2018

Comeypalooza 2018 rolled on with his interview with my diminutive countryman, George Stephanopoulos, last night. My evil side wished they’d done it standing up since Comey is 6’8″ and George is 5’7′. Of course, such interviews are filmed with the participants seated but I can dream. This day after kinda sorta instant analysis is *not* a dream.

Watching Comey reminded me of how complex life is. I was every bit as mad at Comey as most Clinton supporters in October 2016. I excoriated him in a post entitled Easy Comey Easy Go. I even unfavorably compared his FBI to one of America’s most distinguished prosecutors, Robert Jackson. I still think he fucked up with his ham-fisted intervention in the election BUT unlike many powerful people he’s willing to admit the possibility that he made a mistake. Comey is not the “untruthful slimeball” of Trumpian tweets but a flawed human being capable of doing fine things but also capable of screwing up. Bigly.

Even if he doesn’t explicitly say that he’s trying to make up for that epic mistake in 2016, it’s obvious that he regrets any role he played in electing Donald Trump. Some of the language he used in the interview with my diminutive countryman was eye-popping. This is the money quote on Trump’s fitness to be Oval One:

A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person’s not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that’s not a policy statement. Again, I don’t care what your views are on guns or immigration or taxes.

There’s something more important than that that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.

On balance, Comey’s role in the rolling dialogue as to whether Trump is fit to be president* is a useful one. He can be on the annoying side when he’s tending the Comey Myth but his insights into Trump’s personality are fascinating. These two men were destined to clash. They’re not just from different worlds but from different solar systems.

Watching Comey I kept thinking this guy must have been a great trial lawyer. He’s a stellar wordsmith and story-teller. Plus juries love a lawyer with a sense of humor, especially a prosecutor. Nobody expects a prosecutor to be funny. The same qualities will make him an outstanding witness for the prosecution.

The George & Jim show only ran for an hour Sunday night but the conversation went on for 5 hours. The full transcript is fascinating reading and can be found HERE.

Life Imitates The Sopranos: Michael Cohen Edition

I’ve spent a fair amount of time the last few years chastising people for comparing the Trump crime family to The Godfather. The correct comparison is The Sopranos who had a portly hot head as boss as opposed to the dignified Vito and Michael Corleone. I’m glad to see that whoever made this video Josh Marshall posted gets it.

The backdrop may be swankier than the Pork Store in Newark but the feel is the same. I wonder if Cohen ever tans himself Paulie Walnuts style?

Repeat after me: Michael Cohen is a fixer. Fixers don’t get attorney-client privilege. Just having a law degree doesn’t confer privilege on a conversation. If that were the case, my conversations with Della Street and Paul Drake would be privileged. Then the world would learn that they’re both butt-heads. Uh oh, I just pierced the human-cat privilege…

Since we have new Michael Cohen pictures it’s time for a side-by-side picture with a different Sopranos character. It could be called when Paulie met Michael:

Maybe Cohen can help Paulie find the Russian guy they lost in the Pine Barrens. Nah, that would take a modicum of competence.

Watching the video of Cohen walking the streets of New York gave me an earworm, which could be the alternate soundtrack to the Fixer stroll. That’s why the Bee Gees have the last word:

 

Endgame

I’d like to believe this is true: 

Of course Trump is raging and furious and terrified. Prosecutors are now looking at his core. Cohen was the key intermediary between the Trump family and its partners around the world; he was chief consigliere and dealmaker throughout its period of expansion into global partnerships with sketchy oligarchs. He wasn’t a slick politico who showed up for a few months. He knows everything, he recorded much of it, and now prosecutors will know it, too. It seems inevitable that much will be made public. We don’t know when. We don’t know the precise path the next few months will take. There will be resistance and denial and counterattacks. But it seems likely that, when we look back on this week, we will see it as a turning point. We are now in the end stages of the Trump Presidency.

Ryan’s trying to get out before he gets blamed for anything (too late, dipshit) and McConnell’s pretending like he don’t even KNOW these people at this party he is at with his name on the door, and everybody in the Resistance — those who aren’t total garbage, anyway, yeah I’m looking at you Frum — is so tired we can’t remember what protest we were even at last week.

So I’d like to believe it’s almost over but I don’t. Our systems were designed to do things slowly. Election by election, seat by seat, fight by fight. I’d like to believe we’ll get out of this before November but I don’t see any other way out.

A.

Steve Bannon Is A Moron

Sloppy Steve’s pinky promise.

We already knew that Steve Bannon was an extremist and looks like an unmade bed at a thrift shop, but last night we had proof positive that he’s a moron, or as my man Rex would say: A FUCKING MORON.

Sloppy Steve is trying to worm his way back into Trump’s good graces by proposing a ridiculous “plan” to dispose of the Mueller probe:

The first step, these people say, would be for Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the work of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and in recent days signed off on a search warrant of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen.

Bannon is also recommending the White House cease its cooperation with Mueller, reversing the policy of Trump’s legal team to provide information to the special counsel’s team and to allow staff members to sit for interviews.

And he is telling associates inside and outside the administration that the president should create a new legal battleground to protect himself from the investigation by asserting executive privilege — and arguing that Mueller’s interviews with White House officials over the past year should now be null and void.

This is a hare-brained scheme worthy of Wile E. Coyote and is apt to work as well as this:

Fail Looney Tunes GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

If Bannon were a lawyer, which he most assuredly is not, he’d know that our legal system disfavors ideas such as “retroactive” executive privilege. If Team Trump refused to allow staffers to grant witnesses, prosecutors would simply issue grand jury subpoenas to compel their testimony. If they declined, they’d be held in contempt, fined, and clapped in jail. This White House is sufficiently incompetent without having staffers in the slammer.

Bannon is, of course, pandering to the Insult Comedian by proposing a “plan” that gives him an excuse do what he wants to do anyway. It is not, however, as simple as the feeble minds of Bannon and Trump would have you believe. If Rosenstein and Mueller were removed tomorrow, the investigation would continue. The press and public tend to view these things as duels between individuals when the battle is institutional in nature. The referral of the Cohen search to New York proves that. Repeat after me: the investigation would continue.

A quick sidebar. I wish the press would stop asking Trump if he’s going to “fire Mueller.” It comes off as a taunt, dare, or challenge to his manhood. And we all know that arrested adolescents are insecure about their teeny, tiny wangers.

I have no idea where this thing is going or what will happen next. Anyone who says they do has been smoking weed with former Speaker Boehner. We can dream that there are more like this anonymous Republican Congressman whose hilariously profane grocery store rant was quoted by Erick Erickson.  

“It’s like Forrest Gump won the presidency, but an evil, really fucking stupid Forrest Gump. He can’t help himself. He’s just a fucking idiot who thinks he’s winning when people are bitching about him. He really does see the world as ratings and attention. I hate Forrest Gump. I listen to your podcast and heard you hate it too. What an overrated piece of sh*t movie. Can you believe it beat the Shawshank Redemption?”

<SNIP>

“I say a lot of shit on TV defending him, even over this. But honestly, I wish the motherfucker would just go away. We’re going to lose the House, lose the Senate, and lose a bunch of states because of him. All his supporters will blame us for what we have or have not done, but he hasn’t led. He wakes up in the morning, shits all over Twitter, shits all over us, shits all over his staff, then hits golf balls. F*ck him. Of course, I can’t say that in public or I’d get run out of town.”

The cowardly Congresscritter *claims* many House GOPers would vote to impeach *after* their primaries but who the hell knows? As entertaining as this rant is, I agree with former Republican Congressman David Jolly:

That was a jolly good quote, eh wot?

Back to Steve Bannon. His trial balloon was leaked so that it could be shot down. The worst possible thing Trump could do is to make like the Queen of Hearts and chop off everyone’s head. It would make today’s feverish and overheated environment look like a garden party. Of course, Trump loves disorder and confusion. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

Steve Bannon is a moron in a party of morons and the president* is the biggest moron of all.

Repeat after me: the investigation will continue even if Bannon pinky swears that it won’t.

An Attack On Our Country?

There’s been a feeding frenzy over the raid on Michael Cohen’s office, apartment, hotel room, and hot tub. I made the last bit up. There’s even been some tut-tutting about Cohen being Trump’s “lawyer.” At the risk of sounding like a broken record: Cohen is not a lawyer in the usual sense. He’s a fixer/gangster. He’s more like a caporegime in the Trump crime family than a “personal lawyer.” It looks as if the fixer is fucked. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

More alarming was Trump’s latest public meltdown, which may be the creepiest one yet. He was surrounded by the military brass and his national security peeps including John Bolton and his mustache. The meeting was ostensibly about Syria. Instead of refusing to comment on Cohen, the Kaiser of Chaos lost his shit:

So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man. And it’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time.

<SNIP>

And it’s a disgrace. It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.

Like a Good Banana Republican, the Insult Comedian conflates his own legal woes with the problems of the nation. The presence of men in uniform evoked a cabinet meeting in Peron’s Argentina, Pinochet’s Chile, or better yet, Noriega’s Panama.

Trump keeps setting firsts. No previous president has ever ranted in public like this. Even Tricky Dick only did it in private. The world was privy to Trump’s unhinged internal monologue this afternoon. I usually find him annoying, this tirade was scary and like the Tom Petty/Mudcrutch song, I don’t scare easy.

As an opponent of Trump’s I’m glad he keeps lighting his own house on fire. His fatal inability to shut the fuck up will be his eventual downfall. The only question is timing. It can’t come soon enough for most of us, but it may take years. We’ve had bad presidents before but only Nixon approached this level of lunacy. The immediate future looks bleaker than it did when Tricky left office. Solid, sensible, mainstream conservative Jerry Ford succeeded him. Mike Pence is no Jerry Ford. He’s more like Spiro Agnew on steroids.

Shorter Adrastos: the fixer is fucked and the country is fucked up. Fuck that shit.

The Fog Of Scandal

Donald Trump seems to be surrounded by a magnetic field that attracts greedy and venal people. The greed field seems to repel anyone with integrity and even an ounce of human decency. The schlemiel phase of the regime ended with the departures of Reince, Gum Spice, and the cameo appearance of the Mooch. It’s in the full-tilt cartoon villain phase as names such as Pruit, Zinke, Devos, Carson, Ross, Mnuchin, and Kudlow continue to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

In addition to the greed field, the Trump regime is encased in a permanent fog of scandal. It’s a fog as dense as the Insult Comedian’s intellect and nearly as impenetrable. The people around Trump are the sort of rich people whose only goal in life is to further enrich themselves now that they’re in public office. As I said in a different context the other day, they can’t help themselves. I’m reminded of one of the cornerstone lies of the Trump campaign:

“My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy,” declared Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign. “I’ve grabbed all the money I could get. I’m so greedy. But now I want to be greedy for the United States.”

In addition to good old-fashioned plundering and theft, Team Trump and its allies are trying to turn the clock back to the early 1880’s. That was before the civil service was introduced to the federal government by, of all people, a legendary grifter, Chester Arthur. Arthur was a hack placed on the 1880 GOP ticket by New York Senator Roscoe Conkling whose picture is still in the dictionary next to the word corrupt. Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

The dread Newt Gingrich has been trying to eradicate and/or erode the civil service for decades. He appears to be making some headway since Trump’s idea of “draining the swamp”is to eliminate non-partisan experts and bring on the greedheads and lackeys. Believe me.

There’s a swell cover story in New York Magazine wherein Jonathan Chait argues that Democrats should run against the fog of scandal enveloping the nation’s capital:

“Small episodes of corruption can play an outsize role in American politics, since the human scale of petty self-dealing is often easy to understand. And in Trump’s case, the smaller and larger scandals reinforce each other. Why is Trump giving rich people and corporations a huge tax cut? Why has he been threatening to take away your health insurance? Why is he letting Wall Street and Big Oil write their own rules? Above all, if Trump supposedly believed that “if I become president, I couldn’t care less about my company — it’s peanuts,” why are his children still running it? For the same reason he has let his Cabinet secretaries run up large travel expenses, and why his son-in-law met with oligarchs in China and the Gulf States whose money he was trying to get his hands on.”

Chait argues at the beginning of the piece that Kremlingate is:

“…substantively important, but it is also convoluted and abstract and removed from any immediate impact on voters’ lived experience.”

I agree with Chait that Krelimgate is complicated and foggy in its own way. BUT it’s the spoke on the wheel of scandal that’s driving the country over the cliff. I may need some anti-metaphor medicine, I seem to be wheeling them out left and right…

The only way people can prevent the Trump regime from driving the country into a ditch is to organize and vote in such great numbers that the voter suppression mechanisms devised by Republicans will be overwhelmed.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appears to be terrified of a blue wave that could wash away the fog of scandal both in Washington City and the state capitals.  The good news is that the Kaiser of Chaos is oblivious, basking in the applause of his supporters and staff of sycophants. It’s what happens when you live inside the bubbly right-wing echo chamber. Believe me.

The last word goes to Todd Rundgren and Utopia’s cover of the theme song of Trump’s shitty reality show:

First Draft Potpourri: The Legal Merry-Go-Round

I originally considered giving this post the sub-head, The Legal Docket. But given that it’s partially Trump related, I think Merry-Go-Round is more suitable. Trump’s legal woes do make me dizzy, and when I contemplate Stormy/Stephanie spanking him with a magazine with his face on the cover, I feel like puking. Somebody  pass the barf bag. Please.

Let’s start with the funniest legal story of the week thus far.

The di Genova Fiasco: So Trumpy decided to hire Fox News legal big mouth, Joseph di Genova after seeing him on teevee. He *thought* he liked the cut of his jib, not that the Insult Comedian knows what a jib is. What could possibly go wrong? Everything.

The announcement was made *before* the president* met di Genova in person. What could possibly go wrong? Everything.

It turned out that Trump didn’t like di Genova and his wife/law partner Victoria Toensing as much IRL as on cable news:

The senior administration official said the couple also looked disheveled when they came to meet with the president on Thursday, which helped convince Trump they weren’t the right fit for the team.

That trumped their obvious conflicts of interest. It’s always appearances with the Kaiser of Chaos. He hired Tillerson because he looked distinguished and Mattis because of his nickname, Mad Dog. The good news is that , unlike his boss, the general isn’t one.

So, Trump’s teeevee watching cost him his lead lawyer, John Dowd, and he’s still scrambling to find a decent replacement. We’ve come to a weird moment: no reputable lawyer wants to represent the Current Occupant. The reasons are manifold:

  • He’s known to stiff people who work for him.
  • Taking him on as a client would piss-off female partners at large law firms and hurt efforts to recruit women associates.
  • There’s an excellent chance that Trump would ask them to do something unethical and/or illegal in defending him. Who the hell wants to be disbarred because of an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head?
  • Life’s too short to have a raging, gaping asshole as a client.

No wonder nobody wants to work for him, not even tribal GOPers like Ted Olson. Maybe Michael Cohen can help, uh, fix the Trump defense team. If they settle the Stormy/Stephanie case, maybe Michael Avenatti can rescue Trump’s leaky legal ship.  #sarcasm

The Stevens Bombshell: You’ve all read or heard about retired Supreme John Paul Stevens’ op-ed piece in the Failing New York Times. Justice Stevens advocates repealing the Second Amendment. I’m certain that Stevens knows how difficult it is to repeal an amendment. I think he dropped this bombshell to get our attention and make us focus on the lunacy of the NRA/GOP’s absolutist position on guns in the post District Of Columbia vs. Heller world.

Stevens also wanted to remind us of conservative/Nixon appointed former Chief Justice Warren Burger’s view of the Second Amendment:

During the years when Warren Burger was our chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge, federal or state, as far as I am aware, expressed any doubt as to the limited coverage of that amendment. When organizations like the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and began their campaign claiming that federal regulation of firearms curtailed Second Amendment rights, Chief Justice Burger publicly characterized the N.R.A. as perpetrating “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

I’m glad Stevens has lobbed a hand grenade into the gun control/safety conversation. It’s also an excellent time to revisit his scathing dissent to Scalia’s fakakta majority opinion in Heller.

Let’s move on to another legal eagle op-ed in the FNYT. This piece comes from Duke Law Professor and former Clinton administration Solicitor General, Walter Dellinger.

Indict The Fucker Now, Try Him Later: Dellinger, of course didn’t refer to the president* as a fucker but I like to be direct. Dellinger was the lead government lawyer on the Clinton-Paula Jones case when the Justices ruled that a sitting president *could* be sued. He believes that the logic of the case applies to Trump:

In Clinton v. Jones the entire court agreed that the fact that a federal court’s exercising of its constitutional power to hear a case “may significantly burden the time and attention of the chief executive is not sufficient to establish a violation of the Constitution.” Mere indictment of a president would not meet the stringent standard in Clinton v. Jones for presidential immunity from ordinary legal processes.

Read the whole thing. It’s clear that current DOJ guidelines *only* bar trying a president while in office. An indictment is a whole ‘nother thing.

Repeat after me: Indict The Fucker Now, Try Him Later.

That concludes this brief ride aboard the Legal Merry-Go-Round, which is a term I prefer to carousel since it’s infinitely more evocative.

The last word goes to the Waterboys whose song, Room To Roam, has a merry-go-round feel to it. I hope it doesn’t make you dizzy.

The Red Stick Alton Sterling/Jeff Landry Blues

The news that Gret Stet Attorney General Jeff Landry declined to press charges against the Alton Sterling beatdown cops came as no surprise. The merits of the case had nothing to do with it even though Landry put on a show for the cameras.

Here’s my instant analysis:

Landry is a wildly ambitious politician with a gift for PR, not the law. He was elected to Congress in the Tea Party wave election of 2010 but lost his seat to redistricting. The only memorable moment of his tenure was when he waved a sign from the floor during a 2011 speech by President Obama:

Landry has spent his tenure as Attorney General picking fights with Governor John Bel Edwards even when his office didn’t have jurisdiction. He’s *that* kind of legal eagle. If he were in private practice, he’d volunteer to represent Trump for the headlines.

I’m glad that the Sterling family’s lawyers and advisers prepared them for this outcome: they expressed disappointment, not shock. This cake was baked long ago.

As to the Sterling case, there’s a chance the killer cops may get fired for violating departmental procedures. It’s not as satisfying as seeing them perp walking in orange jump suits, but it’s something.

As to Jeff Landry, if the wind is blowing in the right direction, he’ll challenge Edwards next year. But the Governor’s poll numbers are pretty good as of this writing, if that’s still the case Landry will run for re-election. He’d miss the cameras and attention that being AG brings his way. It’s all about politics, not the law.

I’ll give my friend Clancy DuBos the last word on Jeff Landry:

Earl Long used to scoff that if you wanted to hide something from then-Attorney General Jack Gremillion, put it in a law book. Today, Uncle Earl would surely say something similar about Louisiana AG Jeff Landry…

Stormy Sunday: An Interesting Anticlimax

The tweeter tube was wild before Anderson Cooper’s interview with Stormy Daniels aired. They were impatient with the Kansas-Duke overtime whereas I was thrilled to watch Coach Buy-A-Vowel suffer after screwing up at the end of regulation by not calling a time-out. Coach K struck out.

The hype over AC/Stormy was overwhelming. There was no way it could have lived up to expectations greater than Pip’s and it did not. I was underwhelmed by the hype. I hate hype and always view it with skepticism.

People were hoping that the Stormy/Stephanie interview would be the magic bullet that would slay the monster. It was not, unless that is, Michael Cohen is the monster you had in mind. CBS has reported Trump and his Fixer dined at the White House the night before the interview. Presumably, Cohen ate well-done steak and kissed Don Donaldo Il Insulto Comico’s ring as well as his copious rump. Cohen will continue to maintain his Don had nothing to with the hush money. Nobody will believe him. He’s the perfect patsy.

As to the interview itself, not much new news was made but Stormy/Stephanie was very impressive. She came off more like the madam in a Western than a stripper/porn actress. I’m not sure if she was more  Joanie Stubbs in Deadwood or Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke:

Whatever she is, Stormy/Stephanie was impressive and, more importantly, credible. Her portrayal of Trump as a buffoonish blowhard rang true and she didn’t overstate. I suspect some people hoped that she’d denounce him as a monster and the worst president* ever but that would not have been as effective.

Trump comes off as pitiful. He’s definitely got the worst and creepiest pickup line of all-time: “You remind me of my daughter.” He deserved the spanking he got from her just for that line.

I admit to hoping that Stephanie/Stormy would show a bill from an abortion provider that was paid for by Donald Trump. The only new news was this description of the wise guy style threat she received in Vegas, baby:

Daniels said she was on her way to a fitness class with her infant daughter in Las Vegas when she was accosted in the parking lot.

“A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone,” she said.

This sounds like something Cohen would hire someone to do but he’s denied it and she, quite rightly, did not tie it to Trump’s Fixer. The Fixer’s lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to Stormy/Stephanie, which will be ignored. Along with flawed non-disclosure agreements, cease and desist letters are a dime-a-dozen in Trumpworld,

I’m not sure where this story goes next. Team Stormy was wise to put her on 60 Minutes, which shows that she’s not in it for a quick pay-off. I don’t think it’s going to cost Trump the support of the horny louts who comprise a slice of his base base. It’s part of the steady drip, drip, drip of scandal. It’s certainly easier for people to understand than Kremlingate. Up to now, the volume of scandals has helped Trump but in the long run, the fog of scandal may prove to be his undoing.

Finally, my favorite part of AC/Stormy fest was when she described Trump watching Shark Week on teevee during their second meeting. I’d like to thank the good people at Slate’s Brow Beat for figuring out which episode it was.

I’m pretty sure Trump identifies with the shark. The problem for him is that the real shark in this case is Team Stormy’s Michael Avenatti, not Michael Cohen who is a fixer, not a litigator. This brings to mind a classic lawyer joke:

Why won’t a shark attack a lawyer swimming in the ocean?
Professional courtesy.

March Madness On The Potomac

Yesterday’s septuagenarian smackdown was just a prelude to the crazy that was March 22, 2018. Mark the day, it was when it became obvious that the president* has decided to entrust his political and legal fate as well as our national security to his gut impulses. 

For the better part of the last month, Donald Trump has been winging it. His standoff with his chief of staff, John Kelly, appears to be resolved for the time being, with Trump having decided to return to the seat-of-the-pants decision-making that he believes won him the presidency. That doesn’t mean he has fully given up the idea of firing Kelly, though. One outside adviser to the White House said Trump has recently mulled the concept of creating a new West Wing structure without a chief of staff, one that would instead have four co-equal principals reporting directly to him. Trump seems to be loving his new freedom. “He was fucking excited and jubilant,” said one Trump friend who spoke to him in recent days. “He was like, everything’s great and these fuckers in the media are beside themselves.”

Everything’s great? Who knew? I certainly didn’t. This is what happens when the dumbest guy in the room thinks he the smartest.

All presidents live inside a bubble but for Trumpy to think everything’s great as the Mueller probe closes in, Stephanie/Stormy is slated to appear on 60 Minutes on Sunday, and he maniacally fires people is crazy even for him. The March madness mantra at the White House is let Trump be Trump.

John Dowd is out as Trump’s personal lawyer to be replaced by a married pair of Fox News contributors and the possible return of Marc Kasowitz. It’s the legal equivalent of going to the mattresses and preparing for a PR war against the Special Counsel and his crack team. In contrast, Trump’s team is full of crackpots. Believe me.

I’ll miss mocking Dowdy, which is why I’m posting this Separated at Birth-style tweet:

There’s nothing funny about Thursday’s other big news. The McMaster baiting finally ended and he was fired. His replacement is the war monger’s war monger, John Bolton. Trump purportedly decided not to give Bolton a job before this because he didn’t like his mustache. I am not making any of this up. I wish I were, but March madness is in the air.

The Bolton appointment is a reminder of how bad the Bush Junior administration was. Bolton and his mustache came to public prominence during the Beavis-Duce years. He was unconfirmable as UN ambassador and was given a recess appointment. At the UN, he alienated friends, poured gasoline on fires, and made Dick Cheney look like a peacenik.

Bolton has inverted the Churchillian aphorism to “better war, war, war than jaw, jaw, jaw.” He makes John McCain look like George McGovern.

Long-time readers know that I’m usually a glass half full kind of guy. The Bolton appointment makes that well-nigh impossible. Bolton never met a war that he didn’t like or a treaty that he didn’t want to tear up. The Iran nuclear deal is dead and war with Iran is more than just Bibi Netanyahu’s wet dream. It’s a possibility.

The Trump presidency* seems to have reached its Hitler in the bunker moment. It’s March madness on the Potomac writ large. The ascendancy of Bolton and Pompeo means that the country is fucked unless Trump decides to ignore their advice in the same way he’s ignored the so-called national security “grown-ups.” That means we’re subject to the whims of the Kaiser of Chaos, which is not a place any of us wants to be.

The last word goes to the usually calm national security/foreign policy writer Fred Kaplan:

 

When Scandals Collide

I’ve considered starting a regular feature: the scandal of the week. The problem with that notion is that it’s more like the scandal of the day, hour, or second. There are so many Trump administration* scandals, that my head is spinning like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist:

We’ll skip the projectile vomiting GIF even though Team Trump makes me wanna hurl.

One of the funnier minor scandals is brain-dead retired brain surgeon Dr. Ben Carson’s $31K table at HUD. He’s acting like a character in a sitcom and blaming his wife. You cannot make this shit up, y’all.

This tweet from a Herriman biographer and Laissez Boy Michael Tisserand sums it up:

Of course, Ralph Kramden was smarter than Ben Carson. I’ve decided Dr. Ben is a surgical savant. The man is a blithering idiot in the rest of life. He should heed my advice in this post from 2015: Brain Surgeon, Heal Thyself. I lied about the advice thing. I mocked him relentlessly in that piece. Trumper mendacity appears to be contagious.

Looks like I got sidetracked by what is best described as a brain surgeon fart. The focus of this post is *supposed* to be the two scandals that are consuming the president*: Kremlingate and the Stephanie Clifford Shitstormy. You can tell that Trumpy has retreated to the panic room of his mind when he attacks Hillary Clinton and tweets WITCH HUNT, WITCH HUNT. Insult Comedian meet Kaiser of Chaos.

Trump knows from witch hunters, his mentor the dread, as well as dead, Roy Cohn was Tailgunner Joe McCarthy’s sidekick. Cohn may have been an evil asshole but he was an excellent lawyer as opposed to the misfits, has-beens, never-wases, and wannabes Trump has assembled.  There’s been tremendous turmoil and tumult on Trump’s legal team: they’re playing T-Ball while Team Mueller is playing hardball. It’s been hilarious to watch Dowdy, the Mustache Man, and company bumble. Making matters worse, Trump has added Fox News conspiracy theorist Joseph  diGenova to the team; mostly because he saw him lying on Fox and Friends or some such shit. Shit meet storm.

In the Stormy Daniels case, Trump’s mouthy fixer, Michael Cohen, is up against a superb lawyer, Michael Avenatti. Cohen and his idiot client have stumbled into every trap laid by the cunning Avenatti. The non-disclosure agreement was supposed to keep Trump out of it by calling him David Dennison: chili magnet. Instead, Trumpy filed a massive counter-suit thereby outing himself. Dumbass.

Like Putin, Stormy/Stephanie must have some serious dirt on Trump or he wouldn’t be fighting back so hard. We all know that the overgrown, brain addled frat boys who make up much of Trump’s base envy his affairs with porn stars and Playboy playmates. My hunch is that he’s one of those rich guys who’s submissive and likes his bum bashed. That would not go down well with his debased base who mysteriously think this whiny baby man is a stud. Once again, weak lawyering makes Trump’s situation worse: Michael Cohen is a fixer, not a litigator. He’s in quite a fix right now.

The Stormy/Stephanie shit storm is a mere sideshow to the main event: Kremlingate. Trump is thrashing about, threatening people, and acting like a methy teenager. For the moment, he seems to have abandoned the “be nice to the wolf at your door” approach preferred by Cobby and Dowdy. That does not mean he plans to fire Bobby Three Sticks. Plan is a word that is not in the Insult Comedian’s vocabulary. Anyone who tells you that the Kaiser of Chaos is either going to fire or not fire Mueller is talking through their hat as a character in a Thirties Warner Brothers film would surely say at this pont. Nobody knows. Deranged people are unpredictable. He’s likely to do anything. Right now, he’s dangerous because he’s cornered. I have studied this president* very closely and cannot say for certain what will happen next. Believe me.

We had something confirmed last week with the firing of Andrew McCabe. In addition to liking blondes with big boobs, Donald Trump is a sadist and Jeff Sessions is a weakling. Firing McCabe at 10PM right before he planned to retire is an act of petty vengeance that will backfire. It’s called witness tampering and it’s something that Roy Cohn and your basic mob lawyers are adept at. Cohn would not have done it openly and never would have bragged about it on twitter. Of course, he died in 1986 but maybe they have social media in hell.

The Congressional Republican leadership continues to pretend all is well and that Trumpy is normal and worthy of defending. If the president* were not guilty, he would not be trying to derail the Mueller investigation both publicly and privately. He’s acting guilty because he is. The good news is that his efforts are clumsy and stupid. The bad news is that this criminal was elected at all.

Watching scandals collide is not pretty. It’s what Gret Stet Senator John Neely Kennedy would call “as ugly as boiled sin.” Stay tuned. The worst is yet to come.

The Fixer

I’ve written about Michael Cohen before. He was malaka of the week in July, 2015 because of an incident involving Trump’s first ex-wife Ivanka. At that point, I viewed him as a peripheral player in Trump World. In 2018, I think he may be the linchpin to the Insult Comedian’s relationship to dirty Russian and Ukrainian money. Why? He’s Trump’s fixer.

Cohen is currently trying to fix the Trump-Stormy Daniels mishigas. I’m one of the few people who believes that Cohen *may* have paid off the porn star girlfriend with his own money. But I don’t believe that he mortgaged his house to do it. Cohen allegedly owns an apartment building in New York City for which he paid $55 million. Does that sound like a cash strapped guy to you? I think he’s working a future jury pool by posing as a working class lawyer. It’s a lie but what else would you expect from Trump’s fixer?

Here’s the reason I think Cohen might have paid hush money to Stephanie Clifford. He wants to impress and/or pay tribute to the boss. His relationship to Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto is akin to a Mafia wise guy-don relationship. That’s why I’ve paired him with Soprano family consigliere Silvio Dante. It’s easy to imagine Silvio or one of the capos paying off someone for Tony. Once again life imitates The Sopranos.

The Sopranos analogy breaks down because Tony was *sometimes* loyal to his crew and might have even paid his fixer back. Trump is legendary for disloyalty and refusing to repay debts. That’s right, Don Donaldo is worse than Tony Soprano.

The last word goes to Pearl Jam, not the E Street Band. Sorry, Little Steven.

 

Malaka Of The Week: Sam Nunberg

Former Trump adviser and Roger Stone protegé Sam Nunberg had a manic Monday. I’m uncertain if it was performance art, an emotional meltdown or both, but it was a spectacular spectacle. And that is why Sam Nunberg is malaka of the week.

Nunberg worked for Trump for five years. He was ousted when the dread Corey Lewandowski became campaign manager. Nunberg blames Lewandowski and Hope Hicks for drawing attention to a bigoted tweet that proved to be his undoing. Ironic, innit? Half of the Insult Comedian’s tweets are bigoted and he won the electoral college. It’s good to be quasi king.

A subpoena from Team Mueller triggered Nunberg’s epic meltdown/publicity stunt. He did four, count ’em four, cable news interviews: two with CNN and MSNBC each. The craziest of the bunch was the one he did with Ari Melber on The Beat. The beat did indeed go on and on and on and on as did Nunberg.

Nunberg spent the segment asking for legal advice and bragging about how he planned to defy the subpoena because he didn’t have time to comply. Additionally, he called Trump stupid and the “most disloyal person you’ll ever meet.” My favorite bit was when he told Sarah Huckabee Sanders to shut up. The entire White House press corps has wanted to do so but have bit their collective tongues until they bled.

Despite the attacks, I wonder if Nunberg was trying to impress the president* with his brash bluster and bravado. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s method to Nunberg’s malakatude, not madness. That’s what New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi and the Atlantic’s McKay  Coppins think and they know him better that the twitteratti. Here’s what the man with the Dickensian name wrote about Nunberg Monday:

But as anyone who’s known Nunberg for a while can attest, his behavior Monday doesn’t necessarily require special explanation. He’s been pulling stunts like this for years—this is just the first time he’s gotten the kind of audience he’s always craved.

I think that’s right. It was a tabloid stunt worthy of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. It’s just a pity that Nunberg didn’t flip a table: he might have gotten a rise out of CNN’s Jake Tapper or Erin Burnett. The latter insisted Nunberg had boozy breath, which wouldn’t surprise me in the least. He denied it, but who believes anything he says?

In the end, Nunberg appears ready to comply after his enormous meltdown/publicity stunt. Wise choice: Bobby Three Sticks will insist. I’m sure Numberg impressed Roger Stone, which doubtless was one of his goals. And that is why Sam Nunberg is malaka of the week.

The Nunbergian stunt gave me an earworm. He’ll have to comply with the subpoena or go to jail. They’ll give him no choice in the matter. The last word goes to Aimee Mann:

White Girl, White Lies

I had a Rachel Maddow moment yesterday. I cannot count how many times she’s opened a show during the Trump era by declaring that breaking news had obliged her to throw out her planned programming. That’s what happened to me: I planned to write about Hope Hicks and her white lies testimony when I heard she was running away from the circus. I decided to let the post rest until I figured out how to use such a swell title.

I will spare you the Hope puns circulating on the internet even if it’s tempting. There’s a piece at Slate about these jokes. The author, Heather Schwedel, said that the hopelessly unqualified communications director had a film noir femme fatale name. I beg to differ: it sounds more like a golden/silver age of comics super hero sidekick chick such as Lois Lane or Lana Lang. That analogy breaks down when you realize that would make the president*  Superman. Stuporman is more like it.

I like how Lois is plotting against Lana. It’s very Trumpian.

As a former lawyer, I must say that Hicks’ white lies testimony was a master stroke. She told the truth about lying but minimized it at the same time. She seems to have a better mouthpiece than her loudmouth boss, which isn’t saying much. Actually, all the very white liars around Trumpy have better lawyers than Cobby and Dowdy.

There’s a raging debate as to whether or not to believe the White House spin on the timing of the Hicks split. The official line is that she had been thinking of doing so for quite some time and that the timing was a coincidence. While I am loathe to believe anything that comes out of this White House, that may be a half-truth. Hicks was involved in spinning the Rob Porter clusterfuck and was even dating the abusive former aide. Who wouldn’t want to escape the memory of that?

The white lies line has me thinking of the other white people in the Trump ambit who have been lying their pale asses off. Who’s whiter than Roger Stone? Julian Assange, for one, and those honking honkies seem to be in cahoots over the leaking of the hacked DNC and Podesta emails. That’s a crime but Roger couldn’t resist bragging about it. Now it’s his turn in the barrel.

Given all the criminal activity in the West Wing, I begin to wonder if the federal prison system will have to open a Trumper wing. Better still, they could dedicate an entire jail to the Trumpers. I have a place in mind:

I realize that Alcatraz closed as a prison in 1963 and has been run by the National Park Service since 1972. But the poetic justice of  incarcerating Trumpers on an island in one of the bluest states in the union is irresistible. Besides, the Insult Comedian is always looking for new branding opportunities and Ryan Zinke seems devoted to destroying the national parks system so Alcatraz is perfect. They could even reserve Al Capone’s old cell for the Current Occupant should he require alternative federal housing.

If the soon-to-be former communications director winds up in trouble, Alcatraz would be perfect. She might even be able to escape since we all know Hope Floats

The Hope jokes have given me a venerable earworm so CSN get the last word:

The Oaf Keepers

The Oath Keepers are a far right fringe militia-style organization that’s described thusly by the Southern Poverty Law Center:

The Oath Keepers, which claims tens of thousands of present and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members, is one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today. While it claims only to be defending the Constitution, the entire organization is based on a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans.

In the wake of the Parkland massacre, this bunch of gun-toting nutters has volunteered to post armed guards outside schools. It’s a lousy idea cooked up by the group’s founder Stewart Rhodes:

Rhodes wants the military and police veterans who make up Oath Keepers’ membership to volunteer for unpaid, rotating shifts at schools of all levels, and colleges, throughout the country. He and two other representatives of the fringe militia community will hold a webinar Monday night where they plan to encourage Oath Keepers to station themselves at schools “to protect the children against mass murder, and to help train the teachers and staff.”

“I think it’s essential,” Rhodes told TPM in a Monday phone call. “It’s part of our responsibility to do what we can.”

“And what we can do is be outside of schools so that we’re closer if an attack happens, or when one happens,” Rhodes continued. “We’ll be there to be a fast response.”

Armed vigilantes outside schools? What could possibly go wrong? Everything. Sounds like a game of Russian roulette vigilante-style. Who you gonna call? Oaf Keepers? Hell to the no.

The Oaf Keepers held the aforementioned webinar at which they declared war, on the victims:

During a meandering Monday night webinar held by the far-right, anti-government group, the gun writer David Codrea referred to Emma González and David Hogg, survivors of the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Florida as “the enemy.”

González and Hogg have been at the forefront of a student activist movement urging Congress to pass gun control legislation.

Codrea, a writer for the Oath Keepers and War on Guns blogs, also said that Gonzalez’s father is a “refugee from Castro’s Cuba,” and lamented that the National Rifle’s Association 595,000 Twitter followers paled in comparison to the one million that follow “this young Communist girl.”

Has this cretin ever met any Cuban immigrants? The chances of the daughter of a Cuban immigrant being a “young Communist girl” are slim and none and slim is hoping to buy an AR-15 at Dick’s Sporting Goods next summer. If the Gonzálezes were Communists, they’d still be living in the land of old cars and even older leaders.

Codrea’s declaration of war on the Parkland kids is one of the reasons I’ve dubbed his group  the Oaf Keepers. They’re idiots with a skewed take on the constitution and modern civil society. One might even call them the real crisis actors since they always show up when there’s trouble (Ferguson, the Bundy Ranch) and make things worse with their oafish posturing. Unfortunately, they’re well-armed oafs who think they know best. They do not.

As you may have noticed, I believe that satire and ridicule are the best weapons in dealing with groups such as the Oath Keepers. This proposal is the pernicious “good guy with a gun” myth writ large. I shouldn’t even dignify it with the word proposal: it’s showboating at its worst much like the Insult Comedian’s claim that he “would have gone in there” during the Parkland massacre. Yeah, right, a chickenhawk with 5 deferments is suddenly Charles Bronson in one of the Death Wish movies:

Shooting 80'S GIF by RETRO-FIEND - Find & Share on GIPHY

Of course, Bronson with a pistol wouldn’t have stood a chance against a white dude (it’s always a white dude) with an assault weapon. Besides, that’s a bad vigilante movie, not real life. Life is unpredictable. It doesn’t always follow the script.

Guns and schools don’t mix. The last thing we need are vigilante crisis actors intervening in this volatile situation. Who you gonna call? Oaf Keepers? Hell to the no.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Papa Was A Rolling Stone

Hesitation Waltz by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a frustrating week at Adrastos World HQ. Every time I think my pernicious and persistent cold is getting better, I backslide. I would have preferred to be really sick for a few days and then better. Make up your mind, cold.

In local news, the lame duck New Orleans City Council has been up to all sorts of mischief: voting to approve a new power plant for Entergy that won’t solve our blackout  problems and allowing taller buildings to be constructed alongside the Mother of Rivers.  I suspect that the presence of Mayor-elect Cantrell on the Council is one reason they feel free to take such votes. It does not bode well for those who hoped the incoming Mayor would be more neighborhood/citizen friendly. Score another win for real estate developers who are the worst people in the world. Exhibit A for this argument currently lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This week’s theme song is a tribute to Temptations singer Dennis Edwards who died earlier this month at the age of 74. Papa Was A Rolling Stone was written by Norman Whitfield and Barret Strong and was a monster hit in 1972. Here are two versions for your enjoyment: the Temps and David Lindley.

Now that I’ve dissed real estate developers and my stupid cold, it’s time to roll over to the break. I’m too enfeebled to jump.

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Meme Of The Week: Teacher Of Fortune

The country has been buzzing this week over the notion of arming teachers. Let’s clear something up: it’s not Trump’s idea. The NRA has been floating this misguided and downright moronic idea for years. If the Insult Comedian ever had an original thought, his brain would explode thereby injuring the dead nutria atop his head.

This ridiculous idea is based on the “good guy with a gun” myth, which, in turn, comes from the movies as Michael F pointed out yesterday. Wayne LaPierre and Dana Loesch have obviously seen too many action movies: vigilante flicks have long been a Hollywood staple. Things don’t work like that in real life as we learned from the story of the terrified deputy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

I won’t go into the practical problems with this ludicrous idea because I don’t feel like writing a 2,000 word post on this subject. I think that this meme from my friend Michael Styborski sums up how preposterous the arm the teachers notion is: