Category Archives: Law/Justice

The Trump Tax Story: Short Form

It landed like a thermonuclear weapon on Sunday afternoon. You know what I’m talking about. The New York Times got ahold of President* Pennywise’s tax forms.

Trump’s lame response proves that he’s the man without a plan. They should have been expecting this shoe to drop for years but they were still caught with their pants down then proceeded to trip over them. Slapstick ensues when a cartoon villain is elected president*.

The main story is enormous. Mercifully, they’ve provided us with summary of their findings: 18 Revelations From A Trove Of Trump Tax Records.

No one is surprised that Trump paid little or no taxes, alas. They’re spinning that as smart, not unpatriotic. The super rich evade taxes all the time. Last year, Pro Publica ran a piece showing that the place where a taxpayer is most likely to be audited  is:

Humphreys County, Mississippi, seems like an odd place for the IRS to go hunting for tax cheats. It’s a rural county in the Mississippi Delta known for its catfish farms, and more than a third of its mostly African American residents are below the poverty line. But according to a new study, it is the most heavily audited county in America.

They should be knocking on the doors of Trump Tower, Mar a Lago, and the White House instead. Talk about a rigged game.

The most devastating revelation contained in Trump’s taxes is what a shitty businessman he is. It’s confirms what many of us have known or suspected but the NYT has the details. It’s all about the write-offs for the Trump family. I wish I could write-off haircuts on my taxes. Not much savings this year since I haven’t had a haircut since February. Thanks, Donald.

No one story is going to topple the Impeached Insult Comedian. It’s the drip, drip, drip effect hence the Magritte featured image. It’s what did in Tricky Dick during Watergate: drip, drip, drip. One of the most devastating drips was Nixon’s tax fraud. It’s something that people understand. They still do.

It’s obvious why Trump has hidden his tax forms. They paint him as just another grifter intent on chiseling a system in a way that ordinary people can’t. It’s essential to his fragile self-image that he be rich, rich, rich, not drowning in debt. The fact that some of his largest loans come due soon is one reason he’s so desperate to be re-elected. He needs Bill Barr to protect him from prosecution and financial ruin. It’s an excellent reason to vote the crooked motherfucker out of office.

It’s time for them to go. Make it so, America, make it so.

The last word goes to Robert Cray:

I know that Trump doesn’t file 1040s but that’s a helluva song.

Drip, drip, drip.

Saturday Odds & Sods: You Won’t See Me

Masks by James Ensor.

It’s been cool all week in New Orleans. It’s unclear if Fall has fallen or it’s a cruel hoax. My money is on the latter. The heat doesn’t usually break here until sometime in October. The good news is that we’re not under threat of a tropical system. It feels odd not to be checking the spaghetti tracks every few hours but that’s another autumnal augury. End of obligatory weather-related opening passage.

This week’s theme song comes from one of my favorite Beatles albums, Rubber Soul. It was one of the first albums I ever owned. When my father saw the cover he said, “Those are the ugliest women I ever saw.”

To this day I’m uncertain whether or not Lou was joking. The only one who would have made an ugly woman was the drummer. Sorry, Ringo.

You Won’t See Me is a Macca song, but it’s credited to Lennon & McCartney as were all the pair’s songs. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have three versions of You Won’t See Me for your listening pleasure: The Beatles original, and covers by Bryan Ferry and Canadian songbird, Anne Murray.

I never expected to post an Anne Murray song at First Draft, but I might as well go big and post her monster hit from 1970:

Let’s spread our tiny wings and fly away to the break.

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She’s Dead, and Life is Possible. She Made It Possible.

We had built a fire in the backyard on Friday because it was the first night it seemed cold enough to do so. It took forever to get it started. The wood was cold and a little damp from sitting in the garage all summer. The butane lighter was starting to run out of juice and we didn’t have any matches. We snapped sticks for kindling, crumpled up paper and scrap cardboard, lit it over and over and over again.

When the logs finally caught, we sat back in camp chairs, roasted marshmallows. I’d been telling myself and Mr. A and Kick, who is six, that we would get through the winter with this fire pit. Even if there was a foot of snow, we would shovel out a spot and have little parties out here, just the three of us and the very few people admitted into our quarantine circle.

It got dark. Kick counted stars. The logs popped and settled and I pondered building the fire back up. We could stay up late, could open another bottle of wine, could make just one more s’more. It took almost an hour to get this fire going. Seemed a shame to waste it.

Kick and Mr. A took a walk while I started a new book. They came back, sat down, and he looked at his phone.

There are, and always have been, ways to change a hopeless world. Maybe no one knew that as well as Ginsburg: 

Earlier, I spoke of great changes I have seen in women’s occupations. Yet one must acknowledge the still bleak part of the picture. Most people in poverty in the United States and the world over are women and children, women’s earnings here and abroad trail the earnings of men with comparable education and experience, our workplaces do not adequately accommodate the demands of childbearing and child rearing, and we have yet to devise effective ways to ward off sexual harassment at work and domestic violence in our homes. I am optimistic, however, that movement toward enlistment of the talent of all who compose “We, the people,” will continue.

Despair is an insult, to the memory of someone like that. So what’s to be done? Fight, obviously. Fight not just with words and statements and stern tweets but with quorum calls and sit-ins on the floor, with every tool your arsenal, with every inch of your resolve be it polite and acceptable to pundits or no.

The last time this happened, this what could have been done: 

First, they’d initiate a quorum call or a roll-call vote. This, of course, would require a Democrat to be in the chamber, and perhaps several other Democrats to support a request for a vote or quorum call.

However, their physical presence in the chamber does not mean they automatically count toward a quorum. The Senate does not have turnstiles to count people as they enter or exit; instead, senators usually count toward a quorum when they cast a vote or answer when their names are called during a quorum call (more on this below).

Getting a vote on a procedural matter would require some rejecting unanimous consent agreements that preclude spontaneous roll-call votes and some preparation, perhaps in consultation with the Senate parliamentarian.

Make them show up, every day, every time. Make them pick nits. Make them maneuver. Make them MAD. Make them tired. Make them work. Make them do it over and over and over again. Could they overcome this or any other parliamentary procedure you throw at them? Of course they could. THAT’S NOT THE POINT.

The point isn’t to win. The point is to fight. To slow it all down. To make them pay for every inch they take. To drag this out until it’s impossible to justify the cost of the fight. To make it politically unwise to continue. To focus attention.

And once and for all time to make it clear that when something matters you show up armed to the teeth.

For too long we’ve accepted “there was nothing else we could do” as if it’s somehow ever okay to say that as long as you’re alive. Yes, we continue to ride that Democratic pony because the choice is between that pony and an angry sexually ravenous wolverine with mange and we’re not idiots, but it doesn’t mean we can’t kick that pony in the ass. Especially when the pony keeps asking us for money.

We’re out here phone banking and letter-writing and digging pennies out of the couch cushions and throwing cash we can’t afford to give at candidates who have no shot in hell and what we want to see, as we home-school our kids and side-hustle for more side hustles to keep up with rising expenses and the absurd need for food and heat, is a level of fight that understands and honors that.

That feels as desperate as this does, as we do. That seems to suit the occasion. That takes us seriously. That doesn’t justify racism or bigotry but instead of acting like we’re in some kind of debating society calls fascism and idiocy what it is, punches it in the face and leaves it by the side of the road.

You want to say something matters to you? Then what are you prepared to do? I know people are sick of me saying this and I should probably grow up, but what are you prepared to do? If the answer from those who are empowered to represent us is something like, “sit around waiting for David Brooks to be disappointed enough to write a column about it” then get out of the goddamn chair and let someone else sit in it.

Someone who has ideas about what to do, instead of how to get away with doing nothing.

The fire burned out fast. I wanted another drink but wanted to check in on friends too and I’m too old to drunk-text with any dexterity; it was time for Kick to go to bed and she didn’t understand why her parents were upset. I pulled her close.

Someone important died, I said. Someone who cared about the kinds of things we care about and was in a very powerful position to protect people. And we need all the people like her we can get right now.

“We are going to try to make the world better for you,” I told her. “We try to do that every day.”

Less a lie, I hoped, looking at her face, than a prayer.

The coals were settling, sparks drifting upward. Her hair smelled like smoke. How long have we sat around fires, promising our children tomorrow would be better than today?

As long as there have been children. As long as there have been fires.

A.

After Justice Ginsburg

Krewe of Mishigas Float, 2019. Photo by Dr. A.

The news came on a Friday night. Because of the pandemic, most of us were home. It lit up new media and old, social media and anti-social media. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died at the age of 87.

This frail-looking and petite woman was so mentally and morally tough that some thought she was immortal. I’ve spent a lot of time around people over 80 in the last decade, so I was not surprised. It was a nearly unparalleled act of will for her survive the sort of major illnesses that would have finished off lesser beings. As depicted by the Krewe du Vieux sub-krewe of Mishigas in 2019, Justice Ginsburg was a fighter,

There have been many marvelous tributes to Justice Ginsburg. Here’s a brief list:

Pierce made an apt comparison between Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall. As a litigator, Ginsburg followed the trail blazed by Marshall and fought to establish important rights for women. Thurgood Marshall, however, was a reluctant judge. He preferred being on the other side of the courtroom. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was just as distinguished a jurist as an advocate. Those two skills rarely coincide. She was a remarkable person who led an exemplary life both personally and professionally. Above all else, she was a fighter.

While I wish that Justice Ginsburg had retired while Barack Obama was still president, her reasons were based on her experience as a Justice. Each generation of Justices learns a different lesson: Bill Brennan and Thurgood Marshall retired when they did because of the negative example set by Hugo Black and Bill Douglas who stayed on the Court too long. Ruth Bader Ginsburg saw her friend and colleague Sandra Day O’Connor regret her retirement to care for a husband who died while she was still on the court. That was a major turning point as her replacement was Samuel Alito who is an unbending member of the conservative bloc whereas O’Connor was the ultimate swing vote.

We’re on the cusp of another turning point with Justice Ginsburg’s death 46 days before the election. Those of us who admire Justice Ginsburg should follow her example, get off the floor, and fight back. I heard despair and defeatism this weekend. That’s a shitty way to honor a tough old bird like RBG, Dahlia Lithwick said it best:

America has lost a warrior, and it’s OK to be crushed. I am flattened. And I will mourn, because she deserves to be mourned. But we are also facing an almighty battle that will rage in the coming weeks, with attempts to fill her seat in an unseemly and grotesque manner. It will be hard and painful, but if you find yourself feeling hopeless and powerless, then you are emphatically doing it wrong. Because if anyone had a right to say “nah,” it was the woman who couldn’t get a job or a clerkship after graduating at the top of her class. But she pushed on, and then she pushed forward. She stepped into the fight of the phenomenal women who paved the path before, and now, well, it’s time to step into her fight and get it finished. I think the Notorious RBG would have peered owlishly out at all of us tonight and asked what the heck we are waiting for. And I think we can probably honor her best by getting to it.

The confirmation battle is joined. The most cynical man in politics has already discarded the rule bearing his name. The Turtle plans to move a Trump nominee through the Senate. I suspect he’ll do the most cynical thing imaginable and hold the vote in the lame duck session. To do otherwise, would doom the only thing that McConnell cares about as much as SCOTUS, his Senate majority.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham has already flip-flopped on his pledge not to push a nomination through in an election year. Nobody should be surprised. In 2016, Graham called Trump “a kook and a con man” among other ephemeral epithets. Now they’re golfing buddies.

The Democratic minority should announce a concrete and specific Court reform plan. (Don’t call it court packing, that evokes FDR’s failure in 1937-38.)  It should expand the number of Justices to eleven. They should also pledge to abolish the filibuster if a Trump nominee is rammed through. It’s time for it to go.

I saw some despairing tweets that a SCOTUS battle would decide the presidential election in Trump’s favor. Color me skeptical. Conservatives who care about SCOTUS and abortion sold their souls to President* Pennywise long ago. In 2020, it’s more likely to galvanize Democrats. A reminder that the Kavanaugh Mess did NOT turn the 2018 mid-terms in the GOP’s favor. The number that counts is this: 204,122 and counting dead of the novel coronavirus.

Back to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was an inspiring figure who will be missed, especially by the young women she inspired to fight the good fight. Women will decide the 2020 election. My hope is that they will be inspired to keep fighting until Democrats recapture the White House and Senate. Vote like the fate of the Republic depends on it. It does.

The last word goes to RBG’s close friend Nina Totenberg with a tweet for the ages:

Sally Can’t Dance?

It’s time to sally forth on another week. There’s a storm in the Gulf, which will make landfall near me. It’s taken a jog to the East so New Orleans is  no longer in the bull’s eye but we could still lose power. If that happens, I wanted to chime in early as opposed to often.

I set a precedent with Hurricane Laura of using a featured image from the movie Laura. Today, I’m using my favorite fictional Sally. It’s Sally Rodgers as played by the late, great Rose Marie. She’s surrounded by Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie and Carl Reiner as Alan Brady. They’re three zany peas in a wacky pod. If the Van Dyke and Reiner clans were humorless, I’d apologize for using a picture in which Dick and Carl are semi-decapitated. It adds to the surreal nature of this Monday. We still can’t trust that day.

First, our good friend and beloved colleague Tommy T is having some health issues that prevented him from posting this morning. If you’re religious, pray for him but whatever you do, don’t prey on him. Get well soon, buddy.

Best wishes to my West Coast friends who are dealing with a deadly and smokey round of fires. They’re wearing masks for more than one reason today.

We continue with a quote from a Flynn case filing, which means we need a proper subject header:

Retired federal judge, former Gotti prosecutor, and all around badass, John Gleeson filed a brief last Friday blasting Bill Barr’s corrupt DOJ. Here are some snippets provided by TPM’s Josh Kovensky:

The Justice Department’s move to drop charges against Michael Flynn “reflects a corrupt and politically motivated favor unworthy of our justice system,” the court-appointed attorney arguing against the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss stated in a Friday filing.

“In the United States, Presidents do not orchestrate pressure campaigns to get the Justice Department to drop charges against defendants who have pleaded guilty — twice, before two different judges — and whose guilt is obvious,” wrote John Gleeson, a former federal judge and prosecutor appointed to oppose the Justice Department in the case.

The extraordinarily scathing brief alleges in detail and with precision that the Justice Department broke from decades of procedure to help out a friend of President Trump’s. Dripping with contempt for the government’s position, Gleeson argued that federal prosecutors were too lazy to respond to earlier arguments he had made, including whether the content of Flynn’s lies was material.

He added that the DOJ typically does not “make a practice of attacking its own prior filings in a case, as well as judicial opinions ruling in its favor, all while asserting that the normal rules should be set aside for a defendant who is openly favored by the President.”

“Yet that is exactly what has unfolded here,” Gleeson wrote.

Tell us what you really think, Judge. John Gleeson is not afraid of a mean tweet from the Impeached Insult Comedian. He’s the guy who got Gotti, after all.

In other news, President* Pennywise is still holding super-spreader campaign events despite remonstrations from state and local officials. This 74-year-old man is acting like a rebellious teenager. His followers are even less mature. It’s time for them to go. Make it so, America, make it so.

I’m an avid consumer of local news during Hurricane season. I had this amusing exchange with a local weatherdude:

I am easily amused this morning. I tend to laugh in the face of disaster. So it goes.

There was much talk about Sally songs this weekend. Here’s a selection of them beginning with the song that gave this post its title:

The last word goes to Wilson Pickett. If he were still with us, he’d insist:

Hang Up The Goddamn Phone

I have an admission to make. It may send me to hell in a hand basket, but I’ve developed a sneaking fondness for Michael Cohen. I had a lot of fun at his expense when he was still Trump’s fixer but I quite like Mikey the Flipper as well as his book title: Disloyal.

The Maddow-Cohen interview was more fun than a barrel of monkeys for me, and more uncomfortable than a ferret down the trousers for President* Pennywise. Cohen mostly stuck to what’s in his book but there was a lot a good stuff in the interview. He talked about his and Trump’s role in planting the first story below:

Mikey the Flipper also dished on the Falwell cuckold mishigas. That’s where my new catchphrase comes from: Hang Up The Goddamn Phone. Thus spake Becki Falwell to Jerry Junior. What is it with all the Juniors in this story? It almost makes me nostalgic for this Junior:

Always put the lid on the blender, Corrado.

Mikey the Flipper was cagey and credible last night. He declined to speculate on things he lacked direct knowledge of such as money laundering. He did, however, state something that observant Trump watchers already knew: Donald has no sense of humor. That doesn’t mean I’m abandoning the Impeached Insult Comedian as a nickname. Having a sense of humor requires an ability to laugh at yourself or even smile spontaneously. All Trump can do is mock others and dish out lame nicknames. He’s never come up with anything as good as the Kaiser of Chaos, after all.

One thing that pleased me inordinately about the interview was this colloquy commenced by Rachel:

“You say at the very end of the book that the president and Attorney General William Barr ousted the U.S. Attorney of New York and tried to install, effectively, the president’s golfing buddy as the new U.S. Attorney there because the president, in your view, wanted to arrange for himself to be indicted while he’s still in office because that would give him the opportunity to pardon himself after he lost the election,” she said.

“Well, my theory is that if he loses, there’s still the time between the election and the time that the next president would take office,” Cohen elaborated. “And during that time, my suspicion is that he will resign as president, he will allow Mike Pence to take over, and he will then go ahead and have Mike Pence pardon him.”

“And it’s a very, let’s just say it’s a very Nixon-type of event and it was probably discussed between Roger Stone and President Trump at some point,” he continued. “That this is certainly one way to avoid any potential prison time.”

When Dr. A heard that she said, “That’s what you’ve been saying.” And I said it here at First Draft in an August 13th post,  An Alternative Post-Election Scenario. No wonder I’ve become fond of Mikey the Flipper as opposed to Mikey the Fixer who was a big-time asshole.

I mentioned the possibility that I might go to hell in a hand basket for liking the new improved Michael Cohen. The last word goes to the good old Grateful Dead with an alternate means of transportation to Lucifer’s domain:

Hang up the goddamn phone, y’all.

Rebirthing Birtherism

I had a relative who tried every new age fad. One of the weirdest fads was rebirthing: the notion that if you regress to the womb, you will achieve enlightenment. Yeah, right. Whatever.

There’s a form of political rebirtherism abroad in the land. This time it comes not from gullible new age flakes but cynical “conservatives.” I put that word in quotes for a specific reason: ain’t nothing conservative about Trump era conservatism. Conservatism is supposed to preserve the best of the past instead of wrecking the present.

The people floating the racist “Kamala Harris is not a citizen” canard are not conservatives, they’re radicals out to deny and destroy the plain language of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

All persons means all persons, not just white Trump voters. One thing that the MSM has largely ignored in its stories about reborn birtherism is that John Eastman, who wrote the specious Newsweek article cited by the Impeached Insult Comedian, ran for California Attorney General in 2010. He finished second in the GOP primary in a race that was won by Kamala Harris in a general election squeaker. That makes this racist attack on Senator Harris a combination of sour grapes and right-wing ideology; a toxic blend if ever there was one.

I’ve read Eastman’s piece but I’m not linking to it because it’s what Sherlock Holmes would have called a tissue of lies. Instead, read Mark Joseph Stern’s brilliant piece in Slate. He ably disembowels Eastman’s tawdry theory so I don’t have to. Stern points out the links between this witless and baseless white supremacist theory to the Federalist Society and the Claremont Institute:

Why, then, do outlets like Newsweek and the Washington Post keep publishing articles that promote this lie? A coterie of racists based at the Claremont Institute hope that if they repeat it enough, they can leave the door open for a mass expatriation of second-generation Americans, most of them minorities. Indeed, there are few if any supporters of this falsehood who lack connections to the Claremont Institute. Eastman is a senior fellow at Claremont and the founding director of its Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. Josh Hammer, the Newsweek editor who commissioned the piece, is a former fellow at the institute. Michael Anton, who manipulated the text of a quote from the Senate debate over the 14th Amendment in a Washington Post op-ed to make this lie seem more credible, is a senior fellow there.

<SNIP>

The Claremont Institute masquerades as an intellectual salon of the right, but it is really just a racist fever swamp with deep connections to the conspiratorial alt-right. It even granted a fellowship to Jack Posobiec, who helped promote the notorious Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Claremont’s resident bigots offer deranged fantasies of violently expelling Americans from their home country because of their ethnic backgrounds. Their work deserves the intellectual weight given to that of David Duke and his Nazi-loving fellow travelers.

The principle of Birthright Citizenship was upheld by the same Supreme Court that validated Jim Crow in Plessy v. Ferguson. Children of immigrants who are born in America are Americans. Period. Case closed.

I remember when Newsweek was a vital and respected news outlet instead of a source of racist Trumper disinformation. I subscribed to it for decades. Unlike its rival Time Magazine, it stopped being vital quite some time ago. Newsweek alum Jonathan Alter sums it up perfectly:

Finally, I have a new featured image as well as a new blog category: The Legal Docket. I like having featured images for my posts and I’m donning my lapsed lawyer hat so much that it was time to do this. The inaugural image is of Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes Monkey Trial. Film buffs will note what a good job Bud Westmore did of making Fredric March look like Bryan in the original Inherit The Wind.

I originally planned to write a more Newsweek focused post and use the song below for the post title. I believe in recycling so Jethro Tull gets the last word:

An Alternative Post-Election Scenario

As the campaign season unfolds, it becomes clear that the fate of the Republic is hanging by a thread or like Harold Lloyd in the featured image. If the election is a fair one, it’s clear that President* Pennywise will lose. But he and his minions are determined to steal the election. The good news is that they’re doing it in broad daylight when such a theft is best accomplished covertly as in 2016.

Even better news for those of us who believe in democracy, the man who brought peace to the Middle East and tamed the pandemic, Jared Kushner, is Team Trump’s election fuckery point man. Why the Kaiser of Chaos still thinks he’s a renaissance man is beyond me. Of course, a fuck-up is bound to identify with another fuck-up. Incompetence thy name is Team Trump.

The avenue of election fuckery that concerns me the most is Trump’s Postmaster General messing with the mail. But they’re facing a ferocious push back and have been known to cave when that happens. Stay tuned.

There are many dire post-election scenarios out there. Some think the Impeached Insult Comedian will simply refuse to leave office. The proponents of this view are unclear how this can be accomplished. Once Joe Biden takes the oath of office, Trump’s orders will be ignored. Given Trump’s strained relationship with the military brass, a Seven Days In May type coup isn’t going to happen.

Others fear that Trumpers will take to the street, riot, and augment the confusion caused by their dear leader. I’m skeptical.  Recent pro-Trump rallies have flopped as more and more of his supporters realize they’ve been marks in an elaborate con job. There are enough armed extremists out there to cause trouble but not enough to keep the Kaiser of Chaos in office.

The preceding scenarios illustrate why it’s important to roll up the popular vote as well as win the electoral college. If, like me, you live in a red state, your vote still matters. Running up the score will make the Trumpers think twice about pulling any extra-constitutional stunts. Did I just use Trumper and think in the same sentence? There’s a first time for everything.

Let’s turn to the alternative scenario of the title. Trump has a well-established pattern of running away from trouble. This meme from 2018 sums it up:

He’s all bluster and bullshit. He’s a physical and moral coward. If there’s a blowout. he’ll fold like a cheap suit. It’s what happened when the legitimacy and legality of Trump University and the Trump Foundation were questioned. He quit. He’s a quitter, y’all.

In this scenario, President* Pennywise and his lawyers will cut a deal with Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire. A resignation in exchange for a pardon. That would make Pence the 46th president for a few months. That puffed-up little chump will jump at the chance to piously lie, “there was no deal, that would be inappropriate.” It’s the only way Pence will ever be the Oval One. He’ll be a Hoosier Hasbeen after the election.

Trump would cite poor health as his reason for resigning during the lame duck period. If he buys into it, he’ll be the sickest man in human history, tremendously ill, and all the usual bluster and bullshit. Lying is like breathing to this evil fucker.

A reminder that a presidential pardon only covers federal crimes. New York DA Cy Vance will still be on the case; many of Trump’s crimes took place in the Empire State.

Whatever happens, we can expect a flurry of post-election presidential pardons. The most interesting question is whether Trump would issue an anticipatory pardon of Princess Ivanka and Slumlord Jared. Jerry Ford pardoned Tricky Dick *before* he’d been charged with anything. I’m not sure that Trump would do it: his sense of family loyalty is limited as his niece Mary can attest. Donald threw her father, Freddy, to the wolves, after all.

On the 46th anniversary of Tricky’s quitting, historian Michael Beschloss posted this picture of his farewell address:

 

 

 

I had long thought that Nixon’s bizarre, rambling, and shambolic speech was the weirdest thing to ever happen in the White House. It’s a daily occurrence with the Impeached Insult Comedian: the man who cannot pronounce Yosemite. Hasn’t he ever hear of Yo Semite Sam?  Oy, just oy.

The last word goes to James Taylor with a song that begins with these lyrics:

Remember Richard Nixon back in ’74
And the final scene at the White House door
And the staff lined up to say good-bye,
Tiny tear in his shifty little eye,
He said, “nobody knows me, nobody understands.
These little people were good to me,
Oh I’m gonna shake some hands.”

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Higher Ground

Blue Night by Edward Hopper.

The tropics have been busy this week. There are two named storms in the Gulf. Neither is headed our way, but it’s been a wet week. Oh, to be on the dry side of a storm.

It was qualifying week for the 2020 election in the Gret Stet of Louisiana.  Senator Double Bill Cassidy gained a name opponent when Democratic Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins filed to challenge him. He has his work cut out for him: he’s not well known in South Louisiana. The spineless incumbent remains a heavy favorite.

The most interesting local race is for Orleans Parish District Attorney. Incumbent Leon Cannizzaro is retiring, which makes it a wide-open race. City Council President Jason Williams looked like a very strong candidate until he was indicted on federal tax charges. The funniest moment of qualifying week was when Williams told us not to be distracted by his indictment. Dude, you’re running for DA. You need a better argument than that.

This week’s theme song was written by Stevie Wonder for his smash hit 1973 album Innervisions.  It’s about reincarnation or some such shit but I like it for the funky groove.

We have two versions of Higher Ground for your listening pleasure: Stevie’s original and a 1989 cover by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Glad I was able to funkify your lives today. I took lessons from the Meters:

That George Porter Jr. bass line makes me want to jump…to the break. See you on the other side.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Heart Of The Sunrise

Wheatfield with Rising Sun by Vincent Van Gogh.

It’s been a difficult week in New Orleans. Mayor Cantrell has, quite wisely, rolled back the “reopening” to what amounts to Phase 1.5. Here’s hoping that people get the message and stop acting as if we’re back to normal. Even Gamaliel wouldn’t find this normal and he lived through the last great pandemic. That’s great as in big, not good. Pandemics are never the latter.

I’m trying to bring some beauty to an ugly era with this week’s theme song. It was written by Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, and Bill Bruford for Yes’ 1971 Fragile album. It was the first track they rehearsed and recorded with Rick Wakeman.

We have two versions of Heart Of The Sunrise for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 21st Century live version.

Before jumping to the break, another song from Fragile:

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Split Decision

The Summer Of Sam Fuller continues here at First Draft. The new Fog Of Scandal image is how the murder of Tolly Devlin’s father was shot in today’s PFT film noir, Underworld U.S.A. What’s more noir than shadows? Not a damn thing.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with the ruling by SCOTUS in the Trump tax cases. Not a damn thing. Don’t jump my shit or I’ll have a Tolly Devlin moment:

 

The post title is not 100% accurate but it’s what I predicted yesterday so I’ll stick with it:

 

I’ve never been compared to a Dutch seer before. I kinda like it. Thanks, Paul. Hmm, I wonder if the Dutch Dude wore seersucker…

The following analysis is as instant as it gets.

There was a clear victory for the Manhattan DA’s office in its case, which re-established the obvious principle that any POTUS is NOT ABOVE THE LAW. Trump’s legal team made preposterous arguments that made him either a king or a deity. The Kaiser of Chaos is neither; that nickname notwithstanding.

Both the New York case and the Congressional case have been remanded to the lower courts to address the details of the complaints so as Yogi Berra probably never said, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”

We may not see the records as soon as we might like but President* Pennywise is a loser in the long run. And he hates losing. Neener, neener, neener. I never get tired of Trump losing.

Other than the rule of law, the real winner today was Chief Justice John Roberts who, like any sensible Chief, prefers to stay out of the political thicket, which is as thick as it’s ever been. Thanks to a president* who is truly as thick as brick, which means as smart as a lump of shit. Make that orange shit and it fits…

Even Justice Bro believes that presidents DO NOT HAVE ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY. The Impeached Insult Comedian is already whining like a stuck pig, but he hasn’t attacked Kavanaugh. Yet. The clock is still clicking.

The cases have been remanded to the lower courts to handle the details. Congress may still prevail if they narrow their subpoena. Btw, that’s a word I can never spell without resort to a spell checker. The mere thought gives me a series of Tolly Devlin moments:

Finally, here’s summation of the case written in the style of Mongo of Blazing Saddles fame:

 

The last word goes to Steve Winwood with Joe Walsh:

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: