Category Archives: Law/Justice

The Scandal Tornado

There were few genuine scandals during the Obama administration. There were plenty of attempts by morally and ethically bankrupt Republicans to conjure up scandals, but the record is clear: nobody on Team Obama was indicted let alone convicted.

In contrast, there’s a deluge of Team Trump scandals; so many that it’s hard to keep track. There’s the scandalous pandemic response, the babies in cages scandal, and the corrupt cronyism and nepotism that’s rampant in this administration. The Mustache of War has belatedly chimed in with a new scandal involving China. Tornadic activity swirls above the White House on a daily basis. It’s amazing that the roof is still on the building.

There are so many scandal tornadoes that it’s hard to keep track of them all. I continue to believe that the worst scandals involve William Herrmann Goering Barr and the Justice Department. There’s cronyism, corruption, and mendacity aplenty at the DOJ but until recently Barr maintained an air of competence in furtherance of his nefarious schemes. Until the botched firing of SDNY honcho Geoffrey Berman last weekend.

Initially, Barr claimed that Berman had resigned. He did no such thing. Then, Barr dragged the Impeached Insult Comedian into it and claimed he’d fired Berman. Trump disputed Barr’s lie with one of his own. In the end, they wound up with a less pliable replacement thereby proving that it truly is the Sovereign District of New York.

Another scandal tornado landed with the public statement of Aaron Zelinsky who was the lead prosecutor in the Roger Stone case:

“What I heard — repeatedly — was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president.”

Anyone surprised? Roger Stone and corruption are synonymous. In fact, he’s a one-man scandal tornado. Zelinsky is testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee today. It should be interesting to see how GOPers handle it. We know that Gym Jordan will shout in defense of President* Pennywise. He has no conscience to wrestle with, after all.

The Kaiser of Chaos took his own personal scandal tornado to the pandemic plagued state of Arizona yesterday. One could even call him the White Tornado like in the old Ajax commercials:

Admittedly, that analogy is imperfect. President* Pennywise spreads dirt and destruction wherever he goes. Perhaps that makes him Pigpen’s evil twin:

The Impeached Insult Comedian was in Arizona to plug his stupid wall and oblige his supporters to sit in close proximity to one another. This time a smaller venue was chosen so it was not a repeat of the Tulsa Trainwreck other than the pandemic spreading possibility of this rally. In a church no less. I guess evangelicals expect the pandemic to bring on Armageddon. I have no idea why they’re giddy at that prospect, but they are. They and Trump deserve each other.

As long as Trump remains in office, the country will be on a permanent Scandal Tornado Watch. The only way to end that is to vote him out. Make it so, America, make it so.

The last word goes to ELO with a tornadic tune:

Bad Company

I thought my war with insomnia was over. It returned with a vengeance last night. It seems to have me by the throat once again. Beats the hell outta having Paul Douglas tugging at your lapels as in the featured image from Panic In The Streets. You can tell Douglas was pissed-off by not being cast to repeat his stage performance in Born Yesterday. Damn you, Broderick Crawford. It had to be said.

I woke up feeling overwhelmed by the flood of newsworthy events. So much so that I nearly called this post Pity The Pundit. I decided against that because it’s too Trumpy. I’ll take your scorn over your pity any day.

Since I’m bad company, I’m taking a scattershot approach to this post. I have no idea how it will turn out but sometimes writing is about the journey and I’m not talking about the band either. They are, however, one of my guilty pleasures:

The cool kids will scorn me after that but so what? I’ve made my position on scorn versus pity clear. That’s what happens when you’re bad company. I’ll get to the band of that name later.

My irritability level rose when people began insisting that the Impeached Insult Comedian was personally aware of Juneteenth and the Tulsa riot when his next rally was planned. Someone on his staff knows some history or used the Google but everyone should know by now that President* Pennywise doesn’t plan a damn thing. He outsources his thinking to Steven Miller and William Hermann Goering Barr.

Repeat after me: Trump is a fucking moron.

Thus spake the tea for the Tillerson man, Rex. Everybody knows. That reminds me of a song. I know, everything reminds me of a song. Everybody knows that too:

Since I’ve been wearing my lawyer hat of late, I planned (something I do and Trump does not) to write at length about John Gleeson’s scorching attack on the Justice Department in the Flynn case. Everybody knows that everything about the Flynn case is “irregular” and based on this unprincipled principle:

“The facts surrounding the filing of the Government’s motion constitute clear evidence of gross prosecutorial abuse. They reveal an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump.”

I might have substituted the word crony for ally, but cronies are usually allies whereas allies are not always cronies. Does that make any sense? If not, I don’t care. I’m bad company.

Yesterday, something weird and unprecedented occurred. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff apologized for being photographed with the Kaiser of Chaos. It was the right thing to do in this context but still weird. Even generals typically like being photographed with the sitting president.

The Milley apology is clear and convincing evidence that Trump is a pariah. After the reaction to the bible photo-op, nobody should think the military will do anything to keep this mook in power. I doubt that the serving brass likes President* Pennywise any more than the retired brass. If you don’t believe me, read this piece by Slate’s Fred Kaplan wherein he gets down to brass tacks. I like the word brass. It’s brassy.

I really went on, didn’t I? Perhaps this post should be called Pity The Reader. I know what Mr. T would call it:

In the immortal words of Nick Lowe and Rockpile: “I’ve been a fool too long. I had you figured out all wrong.” Now that I think of it, Seconds of Pleasure came out around the same time The A-Team ruled the airwaves.

That was surely a pitiable passage but what can you expect from a guy who’s bad company?

The last word goes to Bad Company and Rickie Lee Jones:

Still Can’t Trust That Day

Tropical Storm Cristobal was something of a non-event in New Orleans. Other parts of the broader Metro Area and Gulf South weren’t so lucky. We’re still experiencing the odd severe rain band but if this is our tropical system for the year, we’re lucky. Knock on wood.

An odd phenomenon of the social media era is people complaining about preparing for a storm then bitching about it not being severe. It’s what we want, y’all.  Is it my fault if you bought too much water and food you’ll only eat when the power is out? Talk about first world problems. Eat your Vienna Sausages and STFU.

A friend of mine made a more salient point on Facebook. Why can’t our brains process more than once thing at a time? Locally, we’ve gone from focusing on the pandemic to the protests and, briefly, to hurricane season. The MSM has this problem in spades: one major story at a time is all they can handle. The pandemic didn’t go anywhere. Our inability to multi-task is likely to lead to a second wave.

The Trump regime has largely abandoned the subject of the pandemic since it was a loser for them. They’re now fixated on LAW & ORDER. The big question for me is this: SVU; Criminal Intent; or the original Law & Order?

William Hermann Goering Barr faced the nation yesterday. It was a pitiful performance as he tried to argue that pepper spray and tear gas are not chemicals. It reminded me of a kid who discovers for the first time that a tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable. Barr is not a kid and ketchup is neither a vegetable nor a fruit.

There’s been much mockery of Willard Mittbot Romney for marching in the BLM protest yesterday. It doesn’t make him a hero, but I believe in coalition building so I’ll take allies wherever I find them. Besides, he earned some cred with me by voting to remove the Impeached Insult Comedian from office.

The Gray Lady seems to have recovered from losing its Cotton Pickin’ Mind after publishing a fascist op-ed from Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. The opinion editor quit in the face of widespread unrest on the paper’s staff. Maybe the opinion page will abandon its recent obsession with trying to “challenge” the paper’s liberal readers. They should leave “owning the libs” to Fox News.

Finally, a few unfashionable thoughts about the latest craze: “Defund the Police.” In this instance, the details are, on the whole, good not devilish. Reducing the police’s involvement in things they’re bad at handling such as mental illness and domestic violence is a good idea. The label sucks. It implies that utopia will be the result of the George Floyd protests.

Violent crimes still need investigating; what is needed is to demilitarize the police and address racist violence by law enforcement. The overall idea behind “defund the police” is not a bad one but the presentation is terrible. It implies that “burning down” the system is a good idea. I had hoped that Trump’s “burning down” US foreign policy among other things would have disabused people of the notion that disruption and destruction are good ideas. Like Cory Booker, I prefer reform and rebuilding.

Repeat after me: Words Matter.

The last word goes to Stephen Stills with a song written in 1971 that’s still relevant today:

The Fog Of History: Barr/Goering

My default in discussing the Trump regime’s authoritarian side is usually Fascist Italy, not Nazi Germany. Like Mussolini, the Impeached Insult Comedian is an opportunist and mountebank. Attorney General William Barr, however, is a true believer in an unholy mishmash of right-wing Catholicism and absolute presidential power. He’s still waddling his way to infamy.

Pairing Bill Barr with Hermann Goering is, at one level, odd. Goering was an opportunist and mountebank working for a true believer, Adolph Hitler. In reality, Barr and Goering are opposite sides of the same corrupt coin: they sold their souls and considerable talents to a leader bent on destruction, domination, and chaos. Trump may not know what Gotterdammerung is, but he seems determined to repeat it on the streets of our nation’s capital. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

The Barr-Goering comparison struck me last night while watching Lincoln Project honcho Steve Schmidt on The Rachel Maddow Show. They had a lively discussion about the unmarked, un-badged law enforcement officers strutting about the capital this week. They appear to be a mixture of private cops and federal corrections officers. Schmidt quite rightly denounced this saying, “America doesn’t have a secret police.”

The image of Goering flashed into my head at that point. He was the founder of the Gestapo, Nazi Germany’s secret police. Himmler may have perfected the instruments of repression, but Goering was present at the creation.

I groan every time I hear the sitting Attorney General called “the nation’s highest law enforcement officer.” Instead, they’re the people’s lawyer. The former label has stuck and is being applied in a perverse fashion during 2020’s Days Of Rage. President* Pennywise has put Barr in charge of enforcing the federal response to the current wave of protests. In a time of sinister developments, this may be the most sinister of all.

If Hermann Goering were alive, he’d be struck by the irony of the situation. He was the bull goose war criminal at the first Nuremberg Trial. The lead American prosecutor was former US Attorney General, Justice Robert Jackson. Our current AG is employing police state tactics in support of the Current Occupant. The mere possibility that Goering and his ilk could have the “last laugh” because of Barr’s corrupt malefactions is deeply disturbing. Goering knew from corruption, which was eloquently pointed out by Bob Jackson in his closing argument:

“The large and varied role of Goering was half militarist and half gangster. He stuck his pudgy finger in every pie. He used his SA musclemen to help bring the gang into power. In order to entrench that power he contrived to have the Reichstag burned, established the Gestapo, and created the concentration camps.”

Unlike Goering, Barr does not appear to be financially corrupt but his political and legal corruption is a bottomless pit. There is no bottom with Barr and Trump. As long as they’re in office, we’re going to hell in that proverbial handbasket.

As a student of history, I don’t make Nazi analogies lightly. Until recently, I was a firm believer in Godwin’s Law. Trump and Barr have made Nazi analogies not only apposite and appropriate but imperative as even General Mattis has come to understand:

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis writes. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”

“Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that ‘The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was “Divide and Conquer.” Our American answer is “In Union there is Strength.”’ We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.”

I wish that General Mattis had come out forcefully against Trump before this. But I understand the reluctance of an apolitical officer corps to get involved in politics.

The last word goes to a tweet from the daughter of the man who played resistance leader Victor Laszlo in Casablanca:

Bill Barr: Waddling His Way To Infamy

Attorney General Bill Barr is my bete noire in the Trump regime. There are many villains from which to choose but most are clownish louts unworthy of my scorn. Barr is a different story: he’s as smart as his boss is stupid. He’s also a political, legal, and religious zealot.

Barr does not look like a fanatic. He does not have crazy eyes or any physical manifestation of a zealot. He’s a short and pudgy 70-year-old man who, absent his power, would disappear into the crowd. Hence, the Magritte fog of scandal featured image. Barr looks like a Magritte man but underneath his banal exterior, he’s a David Koresh-level fanatic.

Barr’s latest shameful trick was ordering Lafayette Square cleared so the Impeached Insult Comedian and his henchmen could stroll to the “Cathedral of Presidents.” The stunt was described thusly by retired Admiral Mike Mullen:

It sickened me yesterday to see security personnel—including members of the National Guard—forcibly and violently clear a path through Lafayette Square to accommodate the president’s visit outside St. John’s Church. I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump’s leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent.

Whatever Trump’s goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.

There was little good in the stunt.

Barr and his master, the Kaiser of Chaos, do not care what decent people such as Admiral Mullen think. The former is wrapped in a cocoon of ideological fervor, the latter is encased in a bubble of narcissism and fantasy.

Watching the clips of Barr’s shameful stroll with Trump led me to exclaim, “The son-of-a-bitch is waddling.” He looked out of breath while President* Pennywise was out of his depth as a national leader. Yet, this is the man who Barr thinks should have dictatorial powers. The AG would argue that *all* presidents should have those powers, which he seems to think are endowed upon all Oval Ones by some deity somewhere. Like the Blues Brothers, Bill Barr is on a mission from God. That’s some scary shit, y’all.

Unlike Barr, Defense Secretary Esper seems embarrassed by his part in the bible stunt. He claims ignorance, which may or may not be true. Of course, he’s not a religious fanatic like Barr who revealed the depths of his zealotry in a speech given at Notre Dame law school last October. I’ve never been a fan of Opus Dei style right-wing Catholicism. That describes Barr in a wingnut shell.

In 2020, Barr is using his religious zeal, legal skills, and formidable intellect to further the ambitions of an unhinged monster. They have both committed a series of impeachable offenses in recent weeks. I’ve long thought that Barr should be impeached. There’s no time like the present.

Bill Barr may think he’s on a mission from God. Instead, he’s waddling his way to infamy.

The last word is in the nature of a warning to Barr:

Beware, Bete Noire.

Wake Me Up On Judgment Day

I wrote this post yesterday morning. Since it’s about the big picture, I’ve let it be. The details will remain in dispute for quite some time. Besides, I can’t top A’s Sunday eloquence:

I appropriated the phrase The Fog of History in 2014 during the Ferguson police riot. That’s why it fits our current situation so well even if the image from The Lady From Shanghai isn’t precisely on point; it’s still cool. There *are* echoes of 1967 and 1968 but the context is not the same. A lot of pent-up anger and frustration has been vented on the streets of many of our cities; both short-term and long-term.

The short-term frustrations involve the pandemic and economic calamity brought on us by the Trump regime’s grotesque incompetence. People have been cooped-up for two months, so part of the unrest is down to stir craziness as well as the Kaiser of Chaos’ need to constantly stir the pot. Chaos is all he knows. He has neither the foggiest notion of how to unite the country nor the slightest inclination to do so. He just stirs the pot: consequences be damned. Fuck you. Donald.

The long-term frustrations involve the original reason for the protests, police brutality and racist violence against people of color. The encounter between George Floyd and MPD Officer Derek Chauvin was brief and brutish. It cost Floyd his life and Chauvin his job, which is not a fair trade off for such a cold-blooded act.

Charges have been filed against Chauvin. Allow me to put my lawyer hat on for a minute. The reason he’s been charged with 3rd degree homicide and manslaughter is a pragmatic one. Prosecutors will not have to prove INTENT, which is one reason police prosecutions often fall short. Defense lawyers invariably use a combination of self-defense and resisting arrest arguments to defeat murder charges. Removing intent from the equation strikes me as wise. I think there *was* intent, but convicting Chauvin is the most important thing. The recent case of Philando Castile is a bitter reminder that juries almost always defer to the cop’s judgment.

I nearly leapt into the murky waters of this story on Friday. But I wanted to have a better idea of who was responsible for the arson and looting and why it happened. The fog has lifted somewhat, and it appears that the worst of the non-police violence was instigated by far right and far left extremists. Shorter Adrastos: I see white people.

For all we know, it’s an unholy combination of the extremes. The right-wing extremists want to provoke a race war and the left-wing extremists want to provoke “the revolution” whatever the hell that means in the American context. Thus far, they’re making the streets of some cities look like Berlin in 1930.

The far right and far left have often converged in our history. I’ve closely studied the post-World War II Red Scare and it’s replete with stories of committed communists becoming McCarthyite witch hunters. Whitaker Chambers is the best example. He went from being a Soviet spy to an editor at Time Magazine, which was a festering pit of anti-communist fervor back then. That concludes this brief history lesson.

Back to the current unrest. I’m relieved that much of the violence is down to white extremist agent provocateurs as I think looting and arson are stupid. As Minnesota native Bob Dylan put it in a 1966 song, Absolutely Sweet Marie: “To live outside the law, you must be honest.”

I expect the Kaiser of Chaos and his supporters will overplay their hand and the pot stirring will blow up in their faces. People want their president to lead, not tweet and incite violence from the White House bunker. Any other president would have urged calm and asked both sides to stand down. President* Pennywise is incapable of such leadership. As our Scout Prime said the other day on Twitter, “I wish we had a president.”

I’m not making any other political or legal predictions about recent events. I’m keeping my head down and rationing my news and social media intake. Shit was already hard enough before this shit went down. Repeat after me: I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I realize Wake Me Up On Judgment Day is an odd title for an agnostic to use. It’s the title of a song on an album that’s been my “happy place” this weekend, Steve Winwood’s Back In The High Life Again. That’s why Winwood gets the last word with a song that reflects my unrealistic desire to hibernate until the shit is scraped off the proverbial fan.

Twit Takes On Twitter

President* Pennywise has been a busy boy of late: pitching fits and issuing orders left and right. Far right.

It’s unclear how meaningful Trump’s social media executive order will be. I was initially dismissive but the good people at TPM think it will, at the very least, cause chaos and confusion. It’s all the Trump regime seems capable of right now. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

One group that seems likely to benefit are lawyers, which is ironic given all the Republican fulmination about trial lawyers, especially here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Phony Eddie Rispone spent much of his losing campaign attacking billboard lawyers. So it goes.

As with so much of Trump’s recent flailing about, the twit taking on Twitter is a sign of weakness. Twitter was afraid of Trump until recently. His inane and untrue rantings put the platform on the map: people who wouldn’t know a twit from a tweet have heard of it thanks to the Impeached Insult Comedian.

The fact that Jack Dorsey and his minions have turned on Trump is a sign that he’s losing. So much for all the winning the Kaiser of Chaos promised his supporters. It’s another sign that he’s following in the footsteps of Charlie, not Martin Sheen. The latter played a fictional president who was re-elected. That prospect is slipping away, which brings us to a brief musical interlude;

That song should be inapposite as it’s about a lost love, but Trump is acting like a scorned lover rejected by the Tweeter Tube. Oh well, he’ll always have Mark Zuckerberg.

I stumbled into a piece this morning that perfectly captures Trump’s latest toddler tantrum:

And what kind of president issues an executive order only to defend himself? This action is only because his feelings were hurt. This executive order doesn’t have anything to do with protecting anyone except Donald Trump. While the Trump cult and Republicans label liberals as ‘snowflakes,’ they are the most vicitimed and whiny people on the planet. Their leader is such a snowflake that he’s issuing an executive order because his feelings were hurt. In case you’re a Republican, THIS is why there’s a great big giant Trump Baby balloon. And the worst thing is, Twitter hasn’t even restricted him. He can still lie and defame people on Twitter without any empathy.

In short, Trump is what a friend of mine calls a whiny titty baby. He should stick a pacifier in his big fat bazoo and STFU. We all know he’s incapable of that, but I can dream, can’t I?

The last word goes to Richard Thompson with a song that fits Trump’s current losing streak:

The nerve of some people. I don’t know who you think you are.

The Flynn Case: Shit Gets Even Weirder

I predicted that Judge Emmet Sullivan wasn’t going to take the Flynn dismissal motion lying down. BUT I didn’t expect him to appoint a noted former federal prosecutor and judge to act as a special master. That’s some special and masterfully weird shit:

While judges do sometimes appoint such third parties to represent an interest they feel is not being heard in a case, Judge Sullivan’s move was highly unusual, said Samuel Buell, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches criminal law at Duke University.

Judge Sullivan, he said, is essentially bringing in an outsider to represent the point of view of the original prosecutors, who believed Mr. Flynn had committed a crime before Mr. Barr intervened and essentially replaced them with a prosecutor willing to say he had not.

“This is extraordinary for the judge to appoint somebody to argue against a prosecutors’ motion to dismiss a criminal case,” Mr. Buell said. “But it’s extraordinary for a prosecutor to move to dismiss this sort of criminal case.”

And John Gleeson is not an ordinary retired federal judge. He co-authored an op-ed for the WaPo denouncing Barr’s dismissal of the Flynn case. More importantly, Gleeson is the guy that got Gotti. That’s right, he was the lead prosecutor at the trial that stripped the Teflon off the Teflon Don. The man is a bona fide bad ass.

Gleeson’s op-ed is apt to foreshadow the arguments he’ll make as what the Times called an Outsider and I called a Special Master. Tomato, tomahto:

Prosecutors deserve a “presumption of regularity” — the benefit of the doubt that they are acting honestly and following the rules. But when the facts suggest they have abused their power, that presumption fades. If prosecutors attempt to dismiss a well-founded prosecution for impermissible or corrupt reasons, the people would be ill-served if a court blindly approved their dismissal request. The independence of the court protects us all when executive-branch decisions smack of impropriety; it also protects the judiciary itself from becoming a party to corruption.

There has been nothing regular about the department’s effort to dismiss the Flynn case. The record reeks of improper political influence. Hours after the career prosecutor abruptly withdrew, the department moved to dismiss the indictment in a filing signed only by an interim U.S. attorney, a former aide to Attorney General William P. Barr whom Barr had installed in the position months before.

Sorry for that long quote. Consider it a preview of coming attractions. It’s what happens when you violate first rule of litigation: Never piss off the judge. I learned that on my first day of law school. Judge Sullivan is righteously pissed. Hell hath no fury like a federal judge scorned.

I expect the flying monkeys of Trumpistan to rain hellfire on this move by Judge Sullivan. Guess what: he’s out of fucks to give. As for Judge Gleeson, do they really think that mean tweets will bother a man who received death threats from the Mafia? Donald Trump is a fake tough guy; John Gleeson is the real deal.

Repeat after me: Gleeson is the guy that got Gotti.

The last word goes to Rodney Crowell:

Barr-Flynn: Some Serious Banana Republic Shit

It’s *almost* a relief to be back on the Trump Regime scandal watch. The Barr-Flynn story is *almost* as ominous as the mounting COVID-19 body count but less lethal.

We’ve all been waiting for the pardon shoe to drop in the Flynn case, but Barr deserves credit for originality in criminality. I like to think of myself as well-informed, but I’ve never heard of prosecutors dropping charges against a defendant who pled guilty; at least in an American jurisdiction. This is some serious Banana Republic shit.

Any other Attorney General would have had their underlings pull such a shameful stunt, but Bill Barr is made of sterner stuff. He did it in broad daylight then bragged about it on television. It makes him the Trumpiest Trumper in Trumpistan.

Judge Emmet Sullivan will not be amused. He essentially called Flynn a traitor in open court. But it’s unclear what, if anything, he can do to thwart DOJ’S surreal stunt other than hold a hearing and ream them out. That’s why I used the Magritte Fog Of Scandal image. This is some surreal shit.

As the economy crashes and the scandals mount, the Trump regime is out of fucks to give. Accepting a guilty plea from a defendant then saying “never mind” is a terrible precedent. It resulted in the lead prosecutor resigning but that doesn’t matter to Team Trump. All that matters is that the Caudillo is happy. This is some serious Banana Republic shit.

The last word goes to Richard Thompson with a different type of pleading:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Ghost Of You Walks

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

Richard Thompson-Edward Hopper month concludes with a perverse pairing of Hopper’s most famous painting and a lesser known RT gem.

There’s not a lot to report this week since we’re on lockdown like everybody else. The polls don’t seem to reflect the Impeached Insult Comedian’s notion that people are desperate to resume normal life and take another bite out of the COVID-19 apple. Even 70% of rank and file Republicans would rather not die. Imagine that. So much for the Trump Death Cult.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for his 1996 album You? Me? Us? Dig those crazy question marks. It also has a cool Max Ernst-like collage album cover, which may turn up some Wednesday. You never can tell.

We have two versions of The Ghost Of You Walks for your listening pleasure. The studio original and a live teevee performance on the BBC’s Later with Jools Holland. The latter is just the two unrelated Thompsons: Richard and Danny.

I’m not afraid of ghosts but if you are, let’s jump to the break to escape.

Continue reading

That’s Why I Call Him The Kaiser Of Chaos

This is the third post with this title. The Kaiser of Chaos is my third favorite Trump nickname after the Impeached Insult Comedian and President* Pennywise. One nickname was modified in December, the other is of a more recent vintage, but the Kaiser of Chaos is the one that fits these chaotic times. It’s concise, it’s forceful, it’s descriptive. And now the featured image is in black and white.

I first paired Trump and Kaiser Bill in 2018. It makes even more sense in 2020. The latter wreaked so much havoc and chaos that the Hohenzollern dynasty was deposed at the end of the Great War. That was when the Spanish Influenza upended the world. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Calling members of the current GOP conservatives is a bitter joke. True conservatives prize stability and order above all else. The party of Trump is all about chaos and disorder. It’s not just Kaiser Don, it’s the whole despicable crew:

  • Bill Barr is threatening to join lawsuits aimed at upending the sort of stay home restrictions urged on the country by his master. Coherence be damned.
  • In the Gret Stet of Louisiana, Rev. Tony Spell has been arrested for defying the stay at home orders of Governor Edwards. He called the first COVID-19 death among his flock a fake and a hoax. These bozos should use a thesaurus. Their stage patter is getting stale.
  • In South Dakota, the Trumper Governor is ignoring a COVID-19 breakout at a pork plant. She apparently plans to pork the entire state in the Ned Beatty/Deliverance sense of the word.
  • In Georgia, nitwit Republican Governor Brian Kemp thinks that there’s a safe way to get a haircut. I don’t know about you, but my barber gets up close and personal when shearing my locks. There will be blood on the floor, not hair if any barbers or hairdressers prematurely open their doors. Better shaggy than dead.
  • In Wisconsin, there’s wholesale chaos wrought by the state GOP. I’ve urged our Scout to write about their lethal antics. I hope she does.

This is just a sample of the crazy going on across the country. All these incoherent actions have only one thing in common: CHAOS. They want to blow enough smoke that the nation suffocates. It’s the Trumper version of drowning the government baby in the bathtub.

The only antidote to the chaos and confusion is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Let the Republicans follow the Kaiser of Chaos off the cliff. The original Kaiser of Chaos fled to Holland after abdicating the throne. Let’s send the Kurrent Kaiser packing to Florida where he can hang out with his pal Gov DeSantis. They deserve each other. The country does not.

Since the post is full of K-words, the last word goes to The Kinks; twice because of the Two Kaisers.

Rising Anxiety

Fear is almost as contagious as the virus. It’s everywhere on social media, which is why I’m rationing my use. I’m also tired of listening to know-nothing amateur epidemiologists who think they know it all. Access to the internet doesn’t make you a scientist, it makes you someone with too much time on their hands. Oops. That’s all of us right now.

The old NOLA Bloggers email list has been resurrected. I’ll explain why in a moment but a comment there gave rise to this post title. Cliff Harris asked if there would be a Rising Tide Social Distance Conference, Karen Gadbois replied that it should be called Rising Anxiety. I have no interest in a conference reboot, but I like the phrase Rising Anxiety, so I stole it.

Back In The Saddle: The OG NOLA bloggers are rising from a protracted slumber. After Maitri the Magnificent announced the return of her VatulBlog, George Loki Williams asked aloud if he should revive Humid City. In response, I quoted this passage from my recent Bayou Brief column Love In The Time Of Coronavirus:

I started blogging a few months after the levees broke. I didn’t expect to still be writing on the internet 15 years later, but I found my voice. I’m glad that I’m still at it: It’s therapeutic and reduces my anxiety level during this unprecedented crisis. I’d hate to be reduced to venting on social media like some other OG NOLA bloggers. I wish more of them would resume writing. Consider that an invitation, y’all. If you do, I’ll spread the word hither and yon.

I’m a man of my word. Loki announced the comeback at Zuckerville:

Good luck, y’all. Not sure about that whole blame thing but it gives me an excuse to post this Del Amitri song:

The Fantastic Florida Flim Flam: Trumper Governor Ron DeSantis followed the lead of his hero President* Pennywise and announced his state “borders” were closed to cars from New Orleans. Too many people took this illegal, unenforceable, and unconstitutional order seriously. It’s a clumsy attempt to divert attention from this:

The flap is based on a “blame New Orleans for having Mardi Gras” controversy that raged online. I’ll let my friends Stephanie Grace and Clancy DuBos shoot it down. I prefer to save my ammo for higher hanging fruit.

I do, however, agree with the parade route book signer and Herriman biographer:

The Tweet Heard Round The World: Athenae’s boyfriend John Kerry is obviously not planning to run for office again:

I’ve always heard that Big John could be salty in private. Glad he’s shown off his “out of fucks to give” side in public.

That reminds me of a song. I know what you’re thinking: everything reminds me of a song.

Unimaginable: Gal Gadot and some other celebrities have collaborated on a quarantine version of John Lennon’s Imagine. I hate Imagine. It’s one of Lennon’s worst songs.

Here’s a better tune for these trying times:

Bored Boris: The British Prime Minister’s anti-pandemic efforts were just as feeble and late as those of the Impeached Insult Comedian. Adding insult to the injury he inflicted on his country, Bozza is afflicted with the 21st Century plague. Karma is a bitch.

I hadn’t planned to write about the oafish PM until I got a text from my good friend and Spank krewe mate, Greg Hackenberg: “If you aren’t working on a post about Boris Johnson that does not include Peter Gabriel’s I Have The Touch, I’m not sure I know you anymore.”

You still know me, Greg:

Shake those hands, shake those hands…

Finally, Project Novel will begin in earnest at 3 PM today. There’s enough interest in my legal murder mystery, Tongue In The Mail, for me to proceed. I’ll be posting two chapters at a time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It even has its own category, Project Novel: TITM.

Pondering Boris Johnson’s bad karma gave me an instant earworm. The last word goes to Warren Zevon and John Lennon with another song that’s much better than Imagine:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Game Pieces

The featured image is of Max von Sydow playing chess with Death in the Ingmar Bergman classic, The Seventh Seal. Von Sydow had a long acting career in America; often playing in horror movies. He died earlier this week at the age of 90. This is the first time I’ve ever started a Saturday post with an obit. I like to change things up.

The Seventh Seal is set during the Black Plague. It was an era with clueless and ignorant leaders; much like the US&A in 2020. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

This week’s theme song continues our board game theme. The Game Pieces was written by Chris Leslie and Nigel Stonier for Fairport Convention’s 1999 album, The Wood and the Wire. Here’s a woody and wiry live version:

I’m a lousy chess player but I know a good song about chess when I hear one. Just say Yes:

Now that we’ve established that we’re all good people, let’s take a straight and stronger course to the break.

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Disbar Barr/The Pardon Bender

Leave it to the Impeached Insult Comedian to ruin a perfectly good original post title (Disbar Barr) by going on a pardon bender. He may not drink but he’s drunk with power. I’m not sure what Bill Barr’s problem is other than his deranged boss. A big problem indeed.

Disbar Barr: The legal profession as a whole has finally noticed that Bill Barr is acting as Trump’s personal lawyer, not as the public’s lawyer. They should have understood that when he sat on the Mueller report, then spun it incorrectly. Barr may be shitty at dispensing justice but he’s good at cover ups. He’s like one of Rene Magritte’s non-descript men falling in line behind his president*.

A petition has been signed by 2000+ former DOJ lawyers over Barr allowing Trump to pretend to be the nation’s number-one law enforcement officer when he’s really the nation’s number-one lawbreaker. It’s unclear if Trump thinks he’s George III or Judge Roy Bean who was the law west of the Pecos. It is clear that among the actors who played Roy Bean, Trump resembles Edgar Buchanan or Walter Brennan more than Paul Newman.

The MSM hasn’t been much more acute than lawyers about Barr. When Barr said that Trump’s comments made his job harder, he meant his job covering up the crimes of the president* and associates. It’s what he’s dedicated his tenure at DOJ to, after all.

Barr isn’t the first corrupt Attorney General. Nixon henchmen John Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst went to jail over their roles in Watergate. Barr makes them look like pikers. The former AG he’s most like is Gamaliel’s guy, Harry Daugherty who was indicted on corruption charges then acquitted. The indictment did ruin Harry’s career as a bag man so there is that.

There’s a chorus of voices demanding that Barr resign. He will only listen to his master’s voice, alas. I’m not buying the leaks that he’s thinking of hanging it up; not Judge Roy Bean style.

I, too, think Barr should resign. Additionally, he should be disbarred for egregiously unethical conduct. Repeat after me: Disbar Barr.

The Pardon Bender: There are still people who think that President* Pennywise had a logical political reason for issuing 11 pardons in one day. He issued them because he has the power and was getting antsy over Mike Bloomberg getting more pub than him for a few days.

Pardoning Blago ain’t gonna help in Illinois or Western Indiana. Illinois House GOPers should be up-in-arms but they’re so afraid of their feudal suzerain that they’re biting their tongues until they bleed. And now for the obvious musical interlude:

It appears that personal lobbying and Fox News viewing explain the pardon bender. Fox News contributor Bernie Kerik is Rudy’s stooge, so the Kaiser of Chaos pardoned his stooge’s stooge. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

There was a Gret Stet connection to Tuesday’s pardon bender. Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo testified against the man he bribed, former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. DeBartolo cut a deal but was a convicted felon until the Impeached Insult Comedian pardoned him at the behest of Jerry Rice and other former players. Dollars to donuts that Trump will claim he did this for black folks.

While this *could* be the prelude to pardoning the “very unfairly treated” Roger Stone, Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort, Trump does not think that far ahead. He lives in the moment and doesn’t mind the denunciations: he’s the center of attention where thinks he belongs. It’s not unlike the guy who was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest and said, “Because it’s there.” With Trump and pardoning, it’s “Because I can.”

The WaPo revived one of the Impeached Insult Comedian’s greatest hits in its pardon piece:

“He’s been in jail for seven years over a phone call where nothing happens — over a phone call which he shouldn’t have said what he said, but it was braggadocio, you would say,” Trump told reporters last year. “I would think that there have been many politicians — I’m not one of them, by the way — that have said a lot worse over the telephone.”

Blago’s call was perfect as was his hair when he wore a toupee. I wonder if his rug was in storage at the prison or at home with his family. Enquiring minds want to know.

It’s time to Rufusize the last word:

Still There’ll Be More

pennywise_3_trump

Image by Michael F.

Some of President* Pennywise’s evangelical supporters, including Rick Perry, claim that he’s the chosen one. They’re big on Old Testament wrath so they’re happy with Trump’s revenge campaign. Apparently, Christian charity is reserved for Trumpers.

The post title comes from Keith Reid’s lyrics for a Procol Harum song. Here’s the least offensive verse:

I’ll bathe my eyes in a river of salt
I’ll grow myself right up to the sky
I’ll sing in the forest, tear down the trees
I’ll foul all the fountains and trample the leaves
I’ll blacken your Christmas and piss on your door
You’ll cry out for mercy, but still there’ll be more

I come from a long line of grudge holders but I still agree with George Orwell who wrote an essay called Revenge Is Sour. I believe in justice, not vengeance but President* Pennywise disdains the former and lives for the latter.

I was in the Krewe du Vieux bubble when Trump’s Friday Night Massacre happened. When the bubble popped, I was appalled but not surprised to learn that the Impeached Insult Comedian went on a firing spree against those with the cojones to testify; even smug major donor Gordon Sondland. Trump’s treatment of Col. Vindman was particularly sadistic:

Friday’s developments were dizzying, even by recent standards. President Trump ordered dismissed from the National Security Council staff a key impeachment witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and—even more inexplicably—his twin brother, an ethics attorney on the NSC legal staff. That action was followed within hours by the firing of Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, another key impeachment witness, who reportedly refused to resign. The Vindman brothers were publicly escorted out of the White House, a method that current and former officials readily understood as a form of stigma rather than any decent expression of appreciation for their service. In case there were any doubt about the motivation for all of this, a series of tweets by the president and his son made clear that Lt. Col. Vindman’s ejection was a direct response to the testimony he provided Congress that pointed to the president’s wrongdoing.

President* Pennywise doubled down by urging, but not ordering, the Army to punish Vindman.

This is the second time Trump has intervened in the military’s disciplinary procedures. The first time was to rescue a war criminal from well-deserved ignominy. This time, he’s urging the Army to punish an officer who did his duty and reported wrongdoing. There’s no offense to punish so presumably the Army will show more intestinal fortitude than Senate GOPers.

Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski claimed that Trump would learn his lesson from the impeachment process. As I said earlier today: “The only lesson the Impeached Insult Comedian has learned is that he can get away with anything as long as his party backs him up.”

Thanks Lisa and Sue. You should have known this was coming. If you didn’t, you’re idiots as well as enablers. I hope Sara Gideon opens a well-deserved can of whoop-ass on the Senator who should be called Runaround Sue. And now for a brief musical interlude:

In other Trump Unbound news, he intervened in the Roger Stone case. The line prosecutors, who take election fuckery seriously, wanted to throw the book at Ratfucking Roger. President* Pennywise made his displeasure clear and DOJ backpedaled like Ginger in an Astaire-Rogers movie.

DOJ supervisors have claimed that they were “blindsided” by the sentencing recommendation. That’s nonsense. The line prosecutors were Bob Mueller’s people who do everything by the book, which means the supervisors are lying.  All four line prosecutors have resigned from the case in protest. Judge Amy Jackson Berman is unlikely to be amused.

Trump’s subjugation of the Justice Department is one of the most sinister things he’s done. Bill Barr should be impeached and/or disbarred for acting like the Impeached Insult Comedian’s personal lawyer. Barr has brought DOJ to its lowest repute since Watergate. The DOJ’s reputation took a huge hit during the Nixon years: two of Tricky’s AGs, Mitchell and Kleindeinst, went to jail. Order was restored by Jerry Ford’s AG Edward  H. Levi and the department has largely dispensed impartial justice ever since.

It’s astonishing how much damage Trump has done since the so-called adults in the room left government. Things are so bad that John Kelly and Jeff Bo Sessions look good in retrospect. Unlike Barr or Trump, Jeff Sessions at least had some ethical boundaries.

Back to the post title. I posted the less offensive verse of Still There’ll Be More earlier. It’s easy to imagine President* Pennywise singing this verse in his Trump Unbound mode:

I’ll put a blight in the orchard
I’ll run wild through the fields
I’ll waylay your daughter and kidnap your wife
Savage her sexless and burn out her eyes
I’ll blacken your Christmas and piss on your door
You’ll cry out for mercy, but still there’ll be more

The only mercy we’re likely to get is from the voters on November 3rd.

Repeat after me: The national house is on fire and the arsonist lives in the White House. The only issue in 2020 is TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP.

 The last word goes to Procol Harum:

 

Three Days

That’s not a lot of time if you’re rich but it’s an eternity if you’re not: 

When you can’t jail people on misdemeanors, “right there, the misdemeanor population of the jail is reduced substantially,” Coffin said. The same goes for all but only the worst of felonies, too.

Instead of going to jail following arrest, people charged with those crimes are now being given tickets and never go into police custody.

But that might not mean what you’d expect: there are not 100 accused criminals walking around who would have previously been jailed until trial. Here’s why:

Under the old rules, a large number of inmates were in jail for only very short periods of time, typically one to three days following arrest. After that, many accused inmates were either released by a judge or able to make bail. So those accused criminals were free for most of the criminal case under the old system, too.

In fact, roughly half of the jail’s inmates, in the past, were held only one to three days before release. That means that people accused of crimes have long been walking free. Now, they simply avoid being jailed in the first place.

“Only” one to three days.

One to three days being one to three days you’ve got to arrange childcare (difficult to do from a cell) and someone to fill in for you at work or you just miss work entirely or both, which if you’re hourly is the majority of a week’s wages, which is rent or groceries or some unholy medical bill for, like, a fever of 104 or getting hit by a car.

One to three days is enough to send most financially comfortable families into some kind of chaos wherein all the spinning plates come crashing down, like don’t let’s even talk about how if you’re not home for three days nobody feeds grandma or takes the kids to school with their hair brushed and their coats zipped.

There are a lot of people carping in the comments about “criminals” getting put back out onto the streets and I hate to break it to you but nobody’s a criminal til they’re convicted and if they’re not, now you’ve just ruined their lives for being arrested. We say all this “innocent until proven guilty” crap and that doesn’t actually mean anything if after you’re exonerated you’re unemployed, homeless and your kids were taken away.

A.

The Roberts Option

Chief Justices Chase, Rehnquist, and Roberts.

When Neal Katyal speaks, I listen:

Yet Republican members of the Senate have signaled that they intend to uphold Mr. Trump’s unprecedented decision to block all of this material.

But it turns out they don’t get to make that choice — Chief Justice John Roberts does. This isn’t a matter of Democrats needing four “moderate” Republicans to vote for subpoenas and witnesses, as the Trump lawyers have been claiming. Rather, the impeachment rules, like all trial systems, put a large thumb on the scale of issuing subpoenas and place that power within the authority of the judge, in this case the chief justice.

Most critically, it would take a two-thirds vote — not a majority — of the Senate to overrule that. This week, Democrats can and should ask the chief justice to issue subpoenas on his authority so that key witnesses of relevance like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney appear in the Senate, and the Senate should subpoena all relevant documents as well.

The Senate rules for impeachment date back to 1868 and have been in effect since that time. They specifically provide for the subpoenas of witnesses, going so far in Rule XXIV as to outline the specific language a subpoena must use — the “form of subpoena to be issued on the application of the managers of the impeachment, or of the party impeached, or of his counsel.”

As you can see, there is no “Senate vote” requirement whatsoever in the subpoena rule. A manager can seek it on his own.

Rachel Maddow asked Adam Schiff about this possibility last night. He was cagey, which is a good sign.

I hope they give this a shot. It will put the Chief Justice on the spot, but if Salmon P. Chase could do it, so can he. Roberts is just sitting there like a hood ornament right now, after all. It would be like throwing a live grenade in his lap ala Bolton-Rudy. The wheels keep on turning. Stay tuned.

Throwback Impeachment

Are you ready to party like it’s 1999?

President Trump plans on adding former independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr and the defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz to his legal team for his trial by the Senate, a person briefed on the plan said Friday.

Mr. Starr, whose investigation into President Bill Clinton’s sexual relationships led to his impeachment, will be joined by Robert Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr as independent counsel and wrote the final report on Mr. Clinton, the person said.

Rounding out the team will be Mr. Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor emeritus who became famous as a defense counsel for high-profile defendants like O.J. Simpson.

The White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, and Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, will lead the legal team.

Let’s review the bidding. Starr and Ray were integral components in what Charlie Pierce calls “the hunt for the president’s penis.” Dershowitz was against impeachment before favoring it.  Lev Parnas placed Jay Sekulow in the same leaky, unethical boat as Rudy Giuliani: he has knowledge of the Ukraine scam as it happened. He should recuse himself but won’t. Trump likes sleazy lawyers.

Two of these lawyers have links to sex scandals. Starr to the Baylor football sex scandal and Dershowitz to master perv Jeffrey Epstein That’s probably why the Impeached Insult Comedian picked them. Pervs of a feather flock together.

Lapsed liberal and obsessive contrarian Alan Dershowitz has also been portrayed onscreen. A show biz touch that surely appealed to President* Pennywise. Ron Silver played him in  Reversal of Fortune. On television, he was played by Richard Cox in American Tragedy, and Evan Handler in The People vs. OJ Simpson. Handler, who usually sports a shaved head, rocked a toupee as Dershowitz:

I somehow doubt that they’ll want to be known as the Dream Team 2: the Scream Team is more like it. I wonder if Rudy plans to sit in the gallery and heckle. Now that would be must-see teevee.

The last word goes to Prince:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – cofefe and yeggs edition

Ah – I remember so well the righteous indignation of the Freeperati when this news broke:

Oklahoma police officer gets a Starbucks cup labeled ‘Pig’
NY Post ^ | November 29, 2019 | 3:34am | Joe Tacopino

Posted on 11/29/2019, 7:31:53 AM by conservative98

A police officer in Oklahoma was dismayed when he bought a coffee at the local Starbucks on Thanksgiving and noticed the name on the label was “Pig.”

The chief of police the Kiefer, Okla. said one of his officers trekked to Starbucks to get some java for a dispatcher when he received the insulting label.

“What irks me is the absolute and total disrespect for a police officer who, instead of being home with family and enjoying a meal and a football game, is patrolling his little town,” Chief Johnny O’Mara said in a Facebook post that included an image of the “Pig” coffee cup.

1 posted on 11/29/2019, 7:31:53 AM by conservative98
Go get him, boys!
To: conservative98

 

I would FIRE this whole group of employees IF I could not get the truth of WHO did it.

I would make sure that his/her personnel record PERMANENTLY reflected that behavior. In a small town, getting another job with that resume will be tough.

The next thing I would do is buy a coffee maker for the police station along with a few cans of good coffee grounds.

87 posted on 11/29/2019, 11:02:15 AM by ridesthemiles

Yeah!!

To: conservative98
It would be A SHAME if some police emergency happened at Starbuck’s, and no cops showed up. Just Sayin’.

45 posted on 11/29/2019, 8:47:26 AM by ZOOKER (Until further notice the /s is implied…)
Even better!!
To: conservative98

 

The Chief should announce that if the police are not welcome there, then the police will not enter the store for ANY reason…attention thieves

9 posted on 11/29/2019, 7:41:27 AM by Rumplemeyer (The GOP should stand its ground – and fix Bayonets)

TrumpCopCoffee
And then…

Kansas officer faked story of expletive on Starbucks cup Chanel 9 News ^ | 1 Jan 2020 | Staff Posted on 1/1/2020, 4:25:16 PM by BlackVeil

A Kansas police officer has resigned after he admitted to making up a story that a McDonald’s employee wrote an expletive and the word “pig” on a coffee cup, the police chief announced Monday. …

1 posted on 1/1/2020, 4:25:16 PM by BlackVeil
Ruh Roh.
.
Who is to blame here?
To: Red Badger

 

It has metastasized:

This need to cast onesself(sic) as VICTIM.

Long in the ghetto, that new, weird ambition has infected cops.

6 posted on 12/31/2019, 8:34:20 AM by gaijin

To: BlackVeil

 

Eventually, everyone else learns this crap from the homos.

3 posted on 1/1/2020, 4:27:57 PM by fwdude (Poverty is nearly always a mindset, which canÂ’t be cured by cash.)

.
That was easy.
.
More embarrassed rationalization after the cream and sugar.

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The Tribe Gambit

I’m firmly on the record as favoring cunning and guile in our political leaders. Nancy Pelosi has these qualities in spades. She’s also smart enough to listen to outside advice. In this case from the great constitutional scholar, Larry Tribe, whose December 16th WaPo op-ed serves as a map to the post-impeachment landscape:

Now that President Trump’s impeachment is inevitable, and now that failing to formally impeach him would invite foreign intervention in the 2020 election and set a dangerous precedent, another option seems vital to consider: voting for articles of impeachment but holding off for the time being on transmitting them to the Senate.

This option needs to be taken seriously now that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has announced his intention to conduct not a real trial but a whitewash, letting the president and his legal team call the shots.

Such an approach could have both tactical and substantive benefits. As a tactical matter, it could strengthen Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) hand in bargaining over trial rules with McConnell because of McConnell’s and Trump’s urgent desire to get this whole business behind them. On a substantive level, it would be justified to withhold going forward with a Senate trial. Under the current circumstances, such a proceeding would fail to render a meaningful verdict of acquittal. It would also fail to inform the public, which has the right to know the truth about the conduct of its president.

Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have had the good sense to pay heed to Tribe’s advice. In contrast, the usually cautious Turtle stuck his head far out of his shell on Fox the other day. He was speaking to an audience of two: Sean Hannity and the Insult Comedian. Unwise choice.

McConnell’s attempt at schoolyard insults yesterday has failed. He taunted the Dems for chickening out after impeaching the president*. The Speaker was unimpressed:

On Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggesting she was “too afraid” to deliver a “shoddy work product” to the Senate, Pelosi said: “Oh pfft,” according to Politico. “Fear is never a word used with me. You should know right away. … I’m never afraid and I’m rarely surprised.”

On House Republicans at times obscure behavior during the House debate and vote on the articles of impeachment Wednesday: “Some of them don’t believe in the Constitution. … They didn’t act upon it, they acted completely against it. They believe in Donald Trump,” she told Politico.

I’m not surprised that Nancy Pelosi is playing hardball: she learned it at her father’s knee. I am. however, pleasantly surprised by Chuck Schumer’s conduct. The jovial Senator has become a serious mensch. One might say that he learned it at Nancy Smash’s knee.

The Tribe Gambit lobs a hand grenade in the GOP’s lap. There are some Republican Senators who want at least the appearance of a fair trial in their body. McConnell and Graham have badly overplayed their hand. It will require their colleagues to answer questions about the basic fairness of the Senate trial at home over the holiday recess.

In 1999, Bill Clinton got a fair trial in a Republican held Senate. All Schumer needs twenty years later is for four Republican Senators to vote to have witnesses and documents produced by both sides. They need not commit to convict but basic fairness demands that there be a trial whose result can be accepted by the voters. Stay tuned.

Back to Larry Tribe. As a Russian history buff I was thrilled that he used this analogy:

In 1787, the year our Constitution was written, Catherine the Great traveled to Crimea in Ukraine — yes, that Crimea, the one Vladi­mir Putin occupied by illegal force — where her former lover Grigory Potemkin had built a fake village to impress the Empress. It seems suitably ironic for McConnell to propose building a Potemkin “trial” to exonerate Trump. But irony is no substitute for common sense.

One more reason that I’m a Larry Tribe fan boy.

The last word goes to the man himself from his appearance last night on The Last Word with Laurence O’Donnell. One could even call it when Laurence met Lawrence: