Category Archives: Law/Justice

Judge Ellis Is Not Sui Generis

The MSM is gobsmacked by TS Ellis, the judge in the Manafort case. The political reporters among them are convinced that he’s one-of-a-kind and that federal judges are Olympian figures who don’t say things like this:

“I am a Caesar in my own Rome,” he said at one point, discussing why he refused to allow defendants to plead no contest instead of guilty. “It’s a pretty small Rome,” he added.

What Judges like Ellis do is bring the Socratic Method to the courtroom. He just happens to be a bit stricter and considerably funnier than most judges. He’s not sui generis. The courts are loaded with tinpot dictators who run the show with an iron fist.

The Ellis coverage reminds me of a close encounter I had with one of my sterner law professors. I’ll call him Professor Hardass. He was tyrannical in class. He expected students to be perfectly prepared and beyond punctual. If you were unprepared and couldn’t bluff your way through it, he asked you to leave in a theatrical manner. If you were late, the door was locked and woe betide to anyone who knocked. The one time I saw someone attempt this, they were rewarded with a withering glare and wagging finger.

Having said that, Professor Hardass was a great teacher. He made the material come alive. His classes were never dull. I had him for Criminal Law as a 1L, he focused on two crimes: burglary and RICO. To this day, I’m fairly knowledgeable about both subjects. The latter comes in handy in the age of Trump since the administration* is an ongoing RICO violation.

As a 2L, I threw caution to the wind and took another class from Professor Hardass. This time, we were assigned a paper. I turned it in to his secretary who placed it on his surprisingly cluttered desk. Guys like Professor Hardass are usually clean desk types. It turned out to be a clue as to who he really was.

When grades were posted, I received an incomplete. I knocked on Professor Hardass’ door and entered the lion’s den. He was seated at his desk with a stack of papers in front of him. He looked at me balefully over the top of his horn-rimmed reading glasses as I’d seen him do dozens of time in class. I told him I *had* turned in the paper on time.

To my great surprise, the facade vanished. He smiled at me and said: “Let me check. As you can see I keep an untidy office.

He found my paper amidst the clutter and began apologizing profusely for his mistake. I must have looked shocked because he looked at me with a smile and said: “That’s right, we’ve never met outside of class before. I play a character in class. I’m the jerkiest judge one could ever encounter: rigid, dictatorial, and hostile. I want my students prepared for the real world.”

He offered me a cup of coffee, read my paper on the spot, and gave me an A. Professor Hardass turned out to be a helluva nice guy.

I’m not sure whether or not Judge Ellis is a nice guy away from court but I know he’s not sui generis. There are dozens of Judge Ellis’ out there and some of them are just trying to move their dockets along and keep the lawyers in front of them on their toes. They don’t call his circuit the rocket docket for nothing.

GOP SCOTUS SOP

I really hadn’t planned a sequel to Monday’s GOP SOP post but it’s time for another acronym fest. The GOP SCOTUS SOP is what could be called the “nice guy narrative.” We’ve seen it many times over the years as far back as Rehnquist and more recently with John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch, and now Brett Kavanaugh.

Here’s how the Divine Dahlia Lithwick put it at Slate:

I like Brett Kavanaugh. If niceness-to-me-alone is the sole indicator of judicial qualification then, like the authors above, I’m all in. Kavanaugh has never been anything but kind and courteous to me, personally. Unfortunately, that calculation leaves out millions of nameless, faceless, vulnerable people who don’t often get a chance to write op-eds about the carpool skills and free-floating niceness of Article III jurists.

Niceness is nice. I’d even go so far as to venture that niceness is very, very nice. But it’s not the basis from which to offer someone lifetime tenure on the highest court in the land. And I am still waiting for the Republican appellate lawyers, D.C. lobbyists, and operatives to stand up and tell us how “nice” Judge Garland was. Because I would submit that he was just about equal in “niceness” to Kavanaugh, and yet it mattered not one bit to anyone two years ago, since at that time, niceness was irrelevant. At the very least, then, we should be able to agree that if Garland’s kindness to small animals and assorted D.C. charities was immaterial in 2016, Kavanaugh’s warmth of character should not be an issue in 2018.

I hereby stipulate that Kavanaugh does not pull the wings off flies, walks little old ladies across the street, and does not beat his wife or children. Hereinafter I will call him Mr. Nice Judge. None of that matters. His views and experience are what matters. And that’s the problem with this nominee. His years as a senior aide to George W. Bush have given him the most expansive position on executive power imaginable. As far as Mr. Nice Judge is concerned the Oval One is an elected dictator who can do whatever the hell he wants, whenever the hell he wants to.

Even more worrisome is the fact that Mr. Nice Judge has been involved in some serious GOP overreach: the Starr chamber investigation, the 2000 Bush-Gore recount, and the Bush  administration’s un-American  torture policies. That is why it is so important that Senators have access to his papers from his time as W’s staff secretary. What was his role in that process?

Belying his Mr. Nice Judge tag was Kavanaugh’s role in the Starr chamber investigation into Clinton White House counsel Vincent Foster’s suicide, which the wingnuts of the day posited was a murder ordered by the Clintons:

In early 1995, however, Kavanaugh offered his boss, independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, the legal rationale for expanding his investigation of the Arkansas financial dealings of President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, to include the Foster death, according to a memo he wrote on March 24, 1995. Kavanaugh, then 30, argued that unsupported allegations that Foster may have been murdered gave Starr the right to probe the matter more deeply.Foster’s death had already been the focus of two investigations, both concluding that Foster committed suicide. ““We are currently investigating Vincent Foster’s death to determine, among other things, whether he was murdered in violation of federal criminal law,” Kavanaugh wrote to Starr and six other officials in a memo offering legal justification for the probe. “[I]t necessarily follows that we must have the authority to fully investigate Foster’s death.”

That’s not very nice, is it? But that doesn’t matter. One can be a great Supreme Court Justice and still be a colossal dick, IMO William O. Douglas was a prickly prick but one of the greatest Justices to ever don robes whereas William Rehnquist was a sweetheart. Their views are what mattered, not their niceness or lack thereof.

So, the next time you hear a testimonial to Mr. Nice Judge, ignore it and focus on the fact that he’s likely to vote Roe vs. Wade into oblivion and stated in a public forum that US vs. Nixon (the Watergate tapes case) was wrongly decided.

Senate Republicans have got the confirmation process down to a science, which is why I call it the GOP SCOTUS SOP. Hopefully, red state Democrats won’t fall for it. Just remember:

Life Imitates I, Claudius: Trump As Tiberius

There have been a spate of stories this week depicting the Trump White House as the court of a mad king/emperor. We’ve learned that many of Trump’s associates prepare CYA documents because of his slipperiness, mendacity, and disloyalty. The Insult Comedian expects absolute loyalty from his underlings but, as we’ve seen over and over again,Trump’s loyalty is a one way street.

Then there was this alarming report by Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman:

 Whether it’s confidence, bluster, or delusion, Trump is venting to advisers both inside and outside the White House that the Manafort trial proves Mueller has nothing on him and his family, because Manafort’s trial doesn’t involve Russia or the 2016 campaign. “The Manafort trial is spinning him into a frenzy,” one Republican in frequent contact with the president told me. Another Republican told me Trump thinks “the only thing the trial shows is that Manafort is a sleaze.”

It takes one to know one. Trump is also being fed patent nonsense by his lawyers:

Trump’s latest attacks on Mueller are partly being enabled by conversations with his attorney Emmet Flood, one source told me. “Emmet feels there’s nothing there with collusion, so it’s fine for Trump to comment and tweet,” the source explained. This person added that Trump appears to be in earnest about his desire for Sessions to end the Mueller probe, and spoke of a timeline of a couple of weeks. Otherwise, Trump has threatened to fire Rosenstein himself.

Sessions has recused himself from the investigation he CANNOT fire Rosenstein and/or Mueller. Ever since Trump’s disastrous performance in Helsinki, elected Republicans seem less inclined to further his “you’re fired” delusions. They’re not criticizing him but they’re showing more caution, especially since the Jordan-Meadows attempt to impeach Rosenstein fizzled. But the truth has no meaning for Trump, so who the hell knows what he’ll do next? I’m a pundit, not a prophet.

I’ve spent part of this week comparing historical characters and their fictionalized selves to the freak show that is the Trump administration. I’ve also dubbed Trump the Kaiser of Chaos because of his similarities to the infantile and petulant Kaiser Wilhelm II. BUT Kaiser Bill was never this crazy.

My friend Dakinikat of Sky Dancing fame calls Trump Kremlin Caligula. It’s a good one but Trump increasingly reminds me of another crazy Caesar who was also depicted in the classic teevee series, I Claudius: Caligula’s predecessor, Tiberius. In that great 1976 series, Tiberius was installed via the machinations of his mother Livia. That, in turn, left him dubious of his own legitimacy and led him to do crazy and extreme things. Sound familiar?

At the end of his life, Tiberius isolated himself from the court at Rome and spent most of time debauching at his version of Mar-a-Lago: his villa on the Isle of Capri. Neither golf nor cable teevee had been invented at that point but I’m sure Tiberius would have dug them.

It’s side-by-side picture time. On the left is Trump without his epic combover and orange spray tan. On the right is George Baker as Tiberius who is oranger than Trump in this shot.

The good news is that George Baker grew up to play nice Inspector Wexford in The Ruth Rendell Mysteries. Trump will never grow up. He’ll always be Trumpberius.

Paul Manafort Meets Dollar Bill Jefferson

I’ve been reluctant to write anything about the Manafort trial because I expect him to cop a plea before it starts. Why? The evidence against him is overwhelming and a guy who worked for foreign dictators is not the most sympathetic defendant imaginable. Additionally, his wing man Gary Gates is the prosecution’s star witness. Hopefully, I’m wrong because the trial is bound to be entertaining and informative.

The pre-trial period has gotten me thinking about my former Congressman, Dollar Bill Jefferson. The main thing Dollar Bill and Paul Manafort have in common is the most eccentric judge on the federal bench, TS Ellis. I followed the Jefferson trial closely and enjoyed Ellis’ judicial antics. He walked up to the boundary of reversible error in that case but never quite crossed it. Judge Ellis hasn’t changed, he’s as quirky as ever. Rachel Maddow has had a great time reading the pre-trial transcripts aloud on her show, which is another reason I hope the trial proceeds. I’d hate to deny Rachel that pleasure.

Superficially, Manafort and Jefferson have little in common. One is an Italian-American Republican, the other an African-American Democrat. In addition to Judge Ellis, they have three things in common: intelligence, greed and, most fatally, hubris. Dollar Bill was, perhaps, the smartest man in Gret Stet politics but greed led him to overreach, which, in turn, landed him in prison. At least he never worked for a foreign dictator, which makes Manafort far worse. I have also come to the conclusion that Manafort was planted on Team Trump by the Russians. Dollar Bill betrayed his constituents, Paul Manafort betrayed his country.

In a piece I wrote for the Bayou Brief last December, I described Dollar Bill as follows:

In 2017, Dollar Bill is a living, breathing cautionary tale.

<snip>

Dollar Bill’s political legacy was swept away in a tide of graft, greed, and corruption. He got away with it for so many years that he thought he was bulletproof. He was not. It’s a shame because he could have been a great man instead of what he is: a convicted felon who was so disgraced that he lost his final race in 2008 to a Vietnamese-American Republican who had never before held a political office, Joseph Cao.

Dollar Bill went to trial, the same path Manafort is on today. He should be a cautionary tale for Manafort as well: he was convicted and Judge Ellis threw the book at him. Ouch.

Finally, since it’s First Draft’s annual fundraiser and the Manafort-Jefferson connection is fueled by money, I thought I’d let Dollar Bill do some tin cup rattling on our behalf:

Click here to see Athenae’s fundraising post and please give until it hurts. Thanks, y’all.

The Fog Of Scandal: Liars Calling Other Liars Liars

This is the week Michael Cohen and Donald Trump finally broke up. Their relationship has been slipping away ever since the raid on the former Fixer’s office but this week divorce papers were filed in the form of leaks and tweets. It seems that Cohen has gone from a willingness to take a bullet for Trump to shooting at him. In the immortal words of Lynyrd Skynyrd: Gimme back my bullets.

The Cohen-Trump recording released at the beginning of the week offered more questions than answers. Other than proving that Trump lied about paying off Karen McDougal, its legal relevance is dubious.

Last night’s leak was a horse of a different color; not that either Trump or Cohen knows anything about horses. All I know is what I see during Carnival parades whereat I’m impressed that horses can shit and walk at the same time. Michael Cohen can barely walk and chew gum at the same time.

Back to last night’s breaking news. Cohen confirms what has been obvious to anyone without a pro-Trump bias: Trump knew in advance about the June, 2016 meeting between Manafort, Junior, Slumlord Jared and some connected Russian shitbirds:

According to sources with knowledge of the situation who spoke to CNN, Cohen claims he was present when Donald Trump Jr. told Donald Trump about the potential meeting with a Russian lawyer, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, and Trump green-lit it. While he doesn’t have any evidence to validate his claims, Cohen is reportedly willing to share that information with special counsel Robert Mueller.

This, in turn, led liar Rudy to claim that liar Cohen was lying:

“I don’t see how he has any credibility,” he said. “There’s nobody that I know that knows him that hasn’t warned me that if he’s backed up against a wall he’ll lie like crazy, because he’s lied all his life.”

Projection thy name is Rudy.

The world knows that most of Cohen’s lying has been in service of  big fat liar Donald Trump.  Who believes any of these lying liars? Cohen’s yarn is plausible but needs corroboration. One reason I’m inclined to believe it was this morning’s Trump twitter meltdown. It’s what happens when he feels cornered.

The most alarming sub-plot of this story is the statement drafted for Junior when the first story about the meeting came out. Here’s Josh Marshall’s take:

Then there’s what happened in the aftermath of the Times stories breaking the news about the Trump Tower meeting that were published just over a year ago. Mueller’s investigators have focused closely on the fact that President Trump dictated a statement which was released in the name of his son Don Jr. about the meeting. It was a false cover story which quickly fell apart. He claimed it was about adoptions. How did he know about it? Well, it seems that he knew about it in advance. But there’s another thread to the story.

Trump dictated that false statement, with the cover story about adoptions only hours after he had a one on one meeting with Vladimir Putin (with no other US persons involved) which was apparently also about adoptions. As I explain here, if you put all this information together, there’s a pretty strong case to be made that not only did President Trump know about the Trump Tower meeting in advance but that he concocted his false cover story with the assistance of Vladimir Putin.

Was this discussed at the one-on-one Putin-Trump meeting? Enquiring minds want to know. Of course, if David Pecker had the story, he’d sell it to the Donald.

Speaking of peckers, a closing note about Junior’s new squeeze former Fox News bot, Kimberly Guilfoyle:

 Six sources said Guilfoyle’s behavior included showing personal photographs of male genitalia to colleagues (and identifying whose genitals they were), regularly discussing sexual matters at work and engaging in emotionally abusive behavior toward hair and makeup artists and support staff.

Was it Junior’s pecker? Eww, just, eww. It may be time to hurl, and I’m not lying about that.

Wingnuts Can’t Count

I hate what the Republicans have done to the House of Representatives. It was never a perfect institution (nothing human ever is) but, beginning with Newt Gingrich, they’ve transformed it into a theatre of the absurd. I almost called it a Kabuki theatre but I don’t want to confuse Jason Spencer into thinking that’s a Chinese, not Japanese thing. Kanichiwa, Sushi, Sony, Nissan. Sorry, I just can’t let go of Malaka Spencer a man who puts the dim in dim sum.

The latest empty GOP gesture comes in the form of articles of impeachment filed against Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. The so-called Freedom Caucus is the author of this idiot plot led by the Tar Heel twit, Mark Meadows, and the Buckeye rape enabler, Jim Jordan.

The charges are specious. Essentially, Rosenstein is accused of insufficient servility towards House GOPers and failure to aid and abet Trump’s Kremlingate cover up. The votes don’t appear to be there but the Insult Comedian is pleased: he likes others to do his dirty work for him. Jim Jordan seems to be his new fixer. He’s even dumber than Michael Cohen and that’s saying a lot.

Rod Rosenstein has turned out to be the unlikely hero of this sordid mess. He looks like the sort of guy who got stuffed into lockers in high school by louts such as Jim Jordan. Rosenstein turns out to have a steel spine and brass balls. He rarely lets House wingnuts see him sweat and he shouldn’t sweat this fakakta impeachment effort.

The House Wingnut Caucus does not appear to have the votes for this abuse of democracy. They don’t care. It’s all about publicity and sucking up to the Insult Comedian. It’s a sham and a shame, but one cannot shame the shameless or those who cannot count.

Here’s Jim Jordan trying to count:

He *may* be able to count to 20 by using all his fingers and toes but I have my doubts.

This preposterous impeachment is yet another reason that Democrats need to retake the House. Let’s put Jordan and Meadows out to pasture.

The Fog Of Scandal: The McFaul Guy Gambit

Wednesday is often referred to as Hump Day. Yesterday, Wednesday, July 18, 2018 will be remembered as a day that America was humped by its idiot president* and his criminal administration. Fuck it, strike the word humped, we were fucked. The only way the situation can be un-fucked is with massive turn out at the polls this fall. We seem to have finally hit the much ballyhooed constitutional crisis. Believe me.

The president* spent the day sowing confusion over his remarks at the infamous Helsinki presser. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. He inches up to admitting that Russia interfered with the 2016 election but adds qualifying language because a full admission means that the Mueller probe is NOT a witch hunt. It’s why he cannot go there. His endless denials and denunciations of the investigation are signs of guilt. People with nothing to hide do not act like this.

The Failing New York Times broke a monster story on Hump Day eve. It shows why former CIA director John Brennan’s hair has been on fire. Make that would be on fire if he had hair. I still detect a faint whiff of burning edges…

Here’s the money quote:

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

By my estimation as a lapsed lawyer, this makes Trump an accessory after the fact to a criminal conspiracy. It’s time to ditch the word collusion. It’s not a legal term and it has been used to envelop the Mueller probe in the fog of uncertainty. C is for Conspiracy, not Collusion. C is also for Cover Up and Constitutional Crisis.

It’s been abundantly clear for quite some time that the president* has been compromised by the Russians. That view has finally gone mainstream after the Helsinki summit. Welcome to the fight, y’all. The acknowledgment that Trump is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vladimir Putin is more important than the details. We may not learn the nature of the kompromat for a while but once again: actions speak louder than words. I say money, you say pee tape. Let’s call the whole thing off. What would I do without Ira Gershwin?

There was a brief flurry of condemnation from GOPers after the “I don’t know why it would be Russia” outrage. Once again, it involved words, not action. Trump’s  follow-up statements were made to allow Republican office holders to crawl back under their beds and hide. There *is* political collusion between them and their dear leader. Republican Senators, even those not up for re-election, are terrified of their base, so they fall in line when they should heed Athenae’s advice and CAUCUS WITH THE DEMOCRATS.

Speaking of spineless Republicans. If former Indiana Senator and current Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coates, had any gumption he’d resign after months of disrespect from his boss. They seem to have banned gumption for the duration of the Trump era. Gumption is another word I’m trying to revive. Use it and pass it along.

One of the most sinister things to happen at the Helsinki summit was the private meeting between Trump and his spymaster. The Russian side are talking up various “agreements” between Putin and his puppet. We’ve already heard about the “incredible offer” to exchange law enforcement information. I call it the “let the fox investigate the chicken coop” offer. It’s truly an incredible offer per the second definition offered by Dictionary.com:

  1. so extraordinary as to seem impossible: incredible speed.
  2. not credible; hard to believe; unbelievable:The plot of the book is incredible.

This entire story is incredible. A book publisher would reject it out of hand as totally (another favorite Trump word) incredible.

Things got even more bizarre yesterday when Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to rule out allowing the Russians to interrogate American citizens such as former Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. Sanders declined the offer and gave her stock ignorant reply: “I’ll get back to you on that.”

The State Department later ruled it out BUT this was a no-brainer except for this brainless administration. We do not hand over our former officials to the Russian secret police just because Putin hates them and they did not vote for Trump. As of this writing it’s unclear what the Trump regime policy is.

Hopefully, they won’t make Michael the McFaul guy. You were probably wondering when I’d circle back to the post title. I like to keep y’all off balance.

Despite Putin’s McFaul guy gambit, the Ambassador is nobody’s patsy. He’s not going down without a fight:

Upon hearing of the McFaul guy gambit, I had a shot of bourbon and tweeted this out:

The Daily Beast’s crack national security reporter, Spencer Ackerman, surveyed past and present American diplomats about the McFaul atrocity. The last word went to a current US official who used what the Grey Lady would call undiplomatic language:

The current U.S. diplomat said the openness to turning over McFaul capped off a shocking week for U.S. geopolitics.

“The president has first and foremost his interests at the top of his mind, as opposed to the government’s. That’s very clear over the past week and a half, between shitting on our NATO allies and kissing Putin’s ass,” the diplomat said. “He cares more about himself than the nation and any of us who serve it.”

The diplomat continued: “Either he’s compromised by Putin or he’s a pussy, in which case he should grab himself.”

I wish I had thought of that.

My last word goes to my countryman, Toronto Star cartoonist Theo Moudakis, who is not a malaka unlike this organ grinder and his monkey:

Tweet Of The Day: PBJ Meets Mariia Butina

I keep waiting for former Gret Stet Goober Bobby Jindal aka PBJ to re-surface as a member of the Trump administration. I believe he’s already grovelled his way out of trouble for calling the Insult Comedian names when PBJ was a presidential candidate. PBJ is an expert brown noser when need be. It’s part of his kiss up, kick down persona.

Thanks to Shannon Watts, PBJ is back in the news after the indictment of Russian agent/NRA fan girl Mariia Butina. FYI, I conferred with a Russian speaker of my acquaintance and was informed that Butina is a 2-i Maria. You’re not seeing double, it’s spelled Mariia. That reminds me of the fine Louisiana name Couvillion. There are two-i and one-i Couvillions. My main man Eddie was a two-i Couvillion. The ayes apparently have it.

Ms. Watts is a pro-gun control/anti-NRA activist with 245K twitter followers. This week she posted a series of pictures of the Russian redhead with well-known wingnuts including the man who sacrificed the Gret Stet’s economy on the altar of his futile national ambitions.

One of the ginger influence peddler’s specialities is posing for pictures with defeated GOP presidential candidates. Here’s one with former Senator Man Dog Sex:

Rick Santorum is still a colossal dick as well as a Russian dupe.

Here’s Doc’s buddy Scott Walker with the gun nut femme fatale:

Finally, it’s the Grand Vizier of gun nuttery’s turn in the Butina barrel.

I’d like to thank Shannon Watts for posting this treasure trove of tweets. Keep up the good work.

I suspect PBJ may even be grateful for the attention. Unlike, Mariia Butina, he can’t even get arrested.

How DID the GOP Become the Party of White Supremacy So Fast?

It’s an eternal mystery.

IRWINTON, Ga., Jan. 21— G. Harrold Carswell, President Nixon’s Supreme Court nominee, during a campaign for the Georgia Legislature in 1948, made a speech in which he said that he would always be governed by the “principles of white supremacy.”

A.

The Strzok Hearing: Shitshow Or Kangaroo Court?

The post title is a rhetorical question: that fakakta hearing was both. It was inevitable in the Trump era that a joint hearing of two Congressional committees would be a shitshow.

I only watched a few hours of the Strzok hearing. In addition to having other shit to do, I found the posturing and Kangaroo Court antics of Congressional GOPers to be tiresome in the extreme. Perhaps that’s because they’re extremists as well as extremely stupid. I’m old enough to remember when *some* Congressional right-wingers were intelligent. The door slammed on that era in 2010 with the teabagger wave election.

As to the witness, he’s a badass with an awesome first name. Peter Strzok held up under withering fire and never called Louis Gohmert Piles and Jim Jordan stupid or Trey Gowdy a weasel. It must have been hard: Strzok is so much smarter than the Kangaroo Court critters who were grilling him. To use a grilled cheese analogy, he did Gouda…

Republicans tried to flip the old adage “actions speak louder than words” on its head. As far as they were concerned, Strzok’s texted words were more important than the fact that he never acted on them. The hearing could have been shut down after the witness pointed out that all he had to do to torpedo the Trump campaign would have been to leak word of the investigation. Instead it went on for 11+ hours of madness.

I learned this week that Peter Strzok was the counter-intelligence agent who cracked the case that inspired The Americans. I saw some members of the twitterazzi compare Strzok to Stan (The Man) Beeman when in fact (fiction?) Strzok is comparable to his first boss, Frank Gaad who was played by Richard Thomas. Good night, John Boy.

The Strzok shitshow won’t change any minds. It was a performance piece staged by House Republicans to support the Kaiser of Chaos by blowing enough smoke to cover the Capitol Dome. You cannot shame the shameless.

Let’s circle back to the post title.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Kangaroo Court as:

  1.  a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted
  2.  a court characterized by irresponsible, unauthorized, or irregular status or procedures

I first heard of Kangaroo Courts when I was a kid. It’s customary for baseball teams to hold them to boost morale and esprit de corps. The judge is usually a veteran player, the best player on the team, or the funniest guy in the locker room. Holy locker room talk, Batman.

Two of the greatest players of the Sixties, Bob Gibson and Frank Robinson, were the judges for the Cardinals and Orioles respectively. That was a long-winded way of posting a picture of Judge Robinson and teammate Davey Johnson both of whom were later managers:

Obligatory San Francisco Giants reference. Frank Robinson was not only the first African-American manager in baseball history, he managed the Giants from 1981-1984. F Robby could do it all: hit, run, field, manage, and judge.

Invasion Of The Federalist Society Body Snatchers

Charlie Pierce has a theory that the Federalist Society has a lab where they grow GOP judicial nominees. It’s hard to argue the point that they’re pod people like the ones grown in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Btw, Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version is one of the few remakes I like. It’s more of a re-imagining. Besides, what’s not to like about a movie set in San Francisco with Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, and Jeff Goldblum. I do, however, still revere the 1956 Don Siegel directed original with Monty Clift’s bestie, Kevin McCarthy who should never be confused with the House Majority leader. End of film buff reverie.

Let’s get back to the matter at hand: pod person Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I skipped the fakakta dog and pony show staged by Trumpy’s new flack, Bill Shine. It was timed to boost the ratings of Shine’s pal, Sean Hannity. That Fox News meathead is now the most influential media type in the land. I feel as if I’ve died and gone to hell. At least the 8PM EST timing juiced up my girl Rachel Maddow’s ratings as well.

One deviation from the Federalist Society playbook is that Kavanaugh had a rough ride in his first confirmation process. He was nominated by George W Bush in 2003 and not confirmed until 2006. He’s been compared to two movie characters: Zelig by Chuck Schumer and Forrest Gump by Dick Durbin. Here’s why: Kavanaugh is a political animal who was involved in the Clinton impeachment, the 2000 Bush-Gore recount, and was a senior aide to George W Bush before moving to the Federalist Society greenhouse/lab and rehatching as a federal judge.

One serious problem Kavanaugh faces is that Senator Durbin believes that he lied at his confirmation hearing. Kavanaugh claimed that he was ignorant of some of the nastier practices of the Bush administration’s so-called war on terror. Unfortunately, lying is not disqualifying in the Trump era. Durbin is still on the judiciary committee and ready to call Kavanaugh out.

The more I look at Kavanaugh’s track record, the more I see why McConnell preferred another pod person. Kavanaugh’s paper trail is long, extensive, and contradictory. Senators have customarily been allowed to pour over the nominee’s documents, which in this instance could number up to a million because of Kavanaugh’s association with Ken Starr and Bush the younger. There are emails involved. That should give wingnuts a boner but it won’t because:

There seem to be two reasons why pod person Kavanaugh was selected in the face of opposition by social conservatives:

First, Team Trump schmoozed Justice Kennedy into retiring with the promise that his former law clerk would be his successor. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would join fellow Kennedy clerk Neil Gorsuch on the bench. There’s been some mutterings of a corrupt deal but this seems more like mentoring run amuck. You can tell that Trump out-sourced that part of the process because he’d have no problem betraying Kennedy. Stiffing people is what he does. Just ask his former chaffeur.

Second, I’m convinced that the president* selected pod person Kavanaugh because he views him as a human get-out-of-jail-free card. I’ll let girlfriend Dahlia Lithwick explain:

Over what I believe to be a surprisingly authentic warning from Mitch McConnell not to select Kavanaugh or Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat left by Anthony Kennedy, the president chose the guy who had the most to say about imperial presidents. This is not a surprise. Beyond the fact that Kennedy doubtless approved of Trump’s selection—Kavanaugh, like Gorsuch, clerked for Kennedy—the single greatest selling point for Kavanaugh had to have been the much-reported line from his 2009 Minnesota Law Review article, in which he wrote, “Even in the absence of congressionally conferred immunity, a serious constitutional question exists regarding whether a President can be criminally indicted and tried while in office.” A President Trump seeking justification to immunize himself from prosecution needed to look no farther than Kavanaugh’s caution in that same article that the indictment and trial of a president “would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas.”

Being a GOP pod person, Kavanaugh was for vigorously investigating presidents before he was against it. I suspect that had something to do with his days in the Beavis-Duce White House. Repeat after me:

I’m milking that meme for all it’s worth. It was originally supposed to be the featured image for a post centered on the IOKYAR-ness of this nominee. That was before I entered the Federalist Society lab/greenhouse and tripped over a pod.

The nomination of pod person  Kavanaugh provides opponents with more ammunition than any other potential nominee, which is the incompetent Trumper twist on the Federalist Society formula. I still expect the latest pod to be hatched at the Supreme Court after narrowly being confirmed. BUT the extent of Kavanaugh’s paper trail should slow things down considerably. I’m sure the Turtle has a few tricks stored in his shell but we saw with the failed ACA vote that Chinless Mitch is not infallible.

More importantly, Trump has given Democrats an issue gift for the election. Here’s girlfriend Dahlia again:

In short, this means that Trump didn’t just give Senate Democrats the talking point that Kavanaugh is an all-but-certain vote to erode or end Roe v. Wade. That statement, while true, could’ve been made about any of the judges on the president’s short list. In selecting Kavanaugh, Trump has given Democrats an additional talking point: The president picked a guy he hopes will hand him a get-out-of-jail-free card.

A pair of Democratic senators have already jumped on this bandwagon, with Jeff Merkley tweeting that the pick indicates Trump “is terrified of Robert Mueller” and Cory Booker stating that he “literally selected the one person who has a pretty good written record of saying, ‘Hey, if you’re a president under investigation, I don’t think you should be allowed to be under criminal investigation.’ ”

Whether this is true or not, or even supported in Kavanaugh’s extensive record, the fact is that Senate Democrats will be able to spend the summer arguing precisely what the president doesn’t want them to argue: that the Mueller probe is ongoing, that close Trump confederates have been indicted and other indictments are coming, that many of the legal questions surrounding the Mueller investigation may end up before the Supreme Court, and that the president may have hand-picked a judge solely for the possibility that he may vote to exonerate him.

Donald Trump always puts his own selfish interests ahead of the national interest. He’s done it again. He can’t even follow the Federalist Society script and nominate another Roberts or Gorsuch. Kavanaugh seems genial enough but he’s a flawed pod person who will make it easier for the Senate minority to slow things down. Thanks, Trumpy.

I’m not though throwing memes at you. Let’s pay a visit to the Federalist Society lab/greenhouse in glorious black and white.

Quote Of The Day: Alternate Reality Edition

It comes from a column by the Observer’s Will Hutton. He’s writing about hardcore Thatcherites and Brexiters but it applies equally to American teabaggers.

There is truth. One of the reasons for our current disastrous plight is that politicians, especially but not only on the Thatcherite Eurosceptic right, have come to feel that what is true is what they believe. Their beliefs may not correspond to reality but that does not matter. Others may think they shamelessly lie or deceive, but what matters is an intent to be truthful to their beliefs, even if the gap between what they say and what is true is so yawning anyone else would regard their utterances as bare-faced lies.

This reminds me of the members of the so-called House Freedom Caucus. They’re currently in thrall to the Insult Comedian but *they* believe their own rhetoric. They hate Hillary Clinton and she was Secretary of State when Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi happened. Therefore she must be guilty of some sort of crime. And don’t forget those emails.

One of the most obnoxious and deeply stupid members of the Freedom Caucus is Ohio’s Jim Jordan. He’s gotten himself in a spot of bother over accusations that, as an assistant wresting coach at Ohio State, he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse by the team doctor. Jordan has denied the allegations but I’m skeptical. This is a man who lies, or fantasizes in the sense described by Will Hutton, every day. The president* insists he’s a good man who’s being lied about. That means, of course, that he did it.

There are some calls for a Congressional ethics inquiry but that’s unlikely. The activity occurred long before Jordan was elected to the House. I am, however, enjoying this sanctimonious investigator being hoist on his own petard. The dotard who watches teevee at the White House probably doesn’t know the word petard. Look it up, dude.

Jordan’s inaction in the face of evil makes him a third-rate Joe Paterno to Dr. Richard Strauss’ Jerry Sandusky. He’s not as culpable as Paterno because he wasn’t head coach BUT his moral responsibility is the same. Inaction often speaks louder than words.

Jordan will continue to denounce and deny the allegations. I’m sure he believes his story because he’s certain of his own rectitude.  To paraphrase the immortal words of Difford and Tilbrook, the truth is NOT his middle name:

 

A Few More Thoughts About The Kennedy Retirement

I missed some important points when I wrote yesterday about Justice Kennedy’s exit, stage right.

First, we’ve gotten so used to phony libertarians like Senator Aqua Buddha and the Koch brothers that we don’t recognize the real deal. Anthony Kennedy is opposed to excessive government regulation in ALL AREAS. On the plus side, he’s championed gay rights and opposed the overruling of Roe v. Wade. On the minus side, he applies his libertarianism to economic and free speech questions and we end up with the Kennedy who supported this term’s awful rulings and Citizens United. He’s simply being consistent in favoring as limited a role for government as possible unless there’s a national security rationale as in the Muslim ban case.

Second, the impact of Kennedy’s exit, stage right, on the fate of the Mueller investigation is worrisome. The Supremes are likely to vote on various aspects of the investigation, which means that Trump has yet another serious conflict of interest:

We know that Chinless Mitch doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the niceties of the law. He believes in power, pure and simple. He clearly regards the McConnell Court as his most important legacy. Conservatives long ago honed in on the federal courts but whenever I urge people to vote based on Supreme Court nominations, I’m rewarded for my efforts with a glazed look.

As to the president* he’s a walking conflict of interest, so why would he care? He has important work to do: engaging in a cover-up in plain sight is difficult and a Gorsuch clone on the court would suit his purposes.

Finally, I wrote the first draft of this post before a remarkable piece appeared in the Failing New York Times about Team Trump’s successful effort to schmooze Justice Kennedy by shrewdly playing on the law clerk connection. The mere fact that they did something competent should send chills up and down our collective spines since Trump is an autocrat in search of an autocracy.

The money is passage is about Kennedy’s son, Justin, who has a longstanding business relationship with the Trumps:

But they had a connection, one Mr. Trump was quick to note in the moments after his first address to Congress in February 2017. As he made his way out of the chamber, Mr. Trump paused to chat with the justice.

“Say hello to your boy,” Mr. Trump said. “Special guy.”

Mr. Trump was apparently referring to Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin. The younger Mr. Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people with knowledge of his role.

One cannot expect Kennedy’s perorations about dignity and respect to trump crony capitalism. #sarcasm.

We’re really on our own now.

On Our Own Now: Justice Kennedy Exits, Stage Right

I planned to write about the McConnell Court after the appalling decision in the Muslim ban case, which featured an off-hand reversal of the infamous Korematsu ruling. I hadn’t planned to write about Anthony Kennedy but then the news cycle went berserk and my plans changed.

Liberal twitter was on suicide watch after Kennedy’s announcement. There was fear in the virtual air. Kennedy *was* a swing vote on some issues that matter to liberals: abortion, guns, and gay rights. BUT he was also a conservative Reagan appointee who voted with right-wing justices in 13 out of 13 5-4 decisions this term.

The great Dahlia Lithwick wrote one of the best pieces about Kennedy’s exit, stage right:

It was always more fan fiction than reality that Justice Anthony Kennedy was a moderate centrist. Democrats liked to soothe themselves with the story that Kennedy was a moderate because he’d provided the fifth vote to support continued affirmative action, reproductive rights, and gay rights and had strung the left along with the tantalizing promise of someday finding an unconstitutional political gerrymander. But we always knew that Kennedy was a conservative, indeed a very conservative conservative. Recall that in the famous study done in 2008 by Richard Posner and William Landes, “Four of the five most conservative justices to serve on the Supreme Court since the time of Franklin Roosevelt, including [John] Roberts and [Samuel] Alito, are currently sitting on the bench today.” And Kennedy? He was ranked in that study as the 10th most conservative justice in the past century.

To the extent we wrote paeans to Kennedy, it was for his occasional defections in areas that materially affect the lives of millions of people—women, minorities, LGBTQ couples, voters, Guantanamo detainees. And to be sure, each of those votes was well worth it. But we knew that for each such vote, there was a Bush v. Gore, a Citizens United, a Shelby County.

Kennedy’s opinions this term reflected an exhaustion with the law and the court that shouldn’t surprise anyone. He’s 81 years old and ready to sit back and do whatever retired Supremes do. We should have never regarded him as a legal savior of sorts. We’re on our own now.

I am not optimistic about the chances of defeating Trump’s next nominee BUT it’s a battle well-worth waging. The filibuster was nuked for SCOTUS nominees during the Gorsuch confirmation process BUT the GOP majority is nominally 51-49 but actually 50-49 because of John McCain’s illness. I am not optimistic about rhetorically pro-choice Senators Collins and Murkowski voting NO since Republican moderates almost always cave. Jeff Flake has made noises about holding up judicial nominees until McConnell allows a vote on tariffs but it’s unclear if that would apply to Kennedy’s soon-to-be vacated seat. Besides, Flake has been all hat and no cattle in his opposition to the Orange menace. We’re on our own now.

Having said that, Senate Democrats owe their base a fierce fight over this nomination. The future of Roe v. Wade is at stake. Overruling that 45 year-old precedent will NOT automatically render abortion illegal nationally, BUT it would allow states to do so. I expect the Gret Stet of Louisiana to be one of the early entrants in the odious race to abolish abortion. Louisiana Republicans have been working over-time to make Democrat John Bel Edwards a one-term Governor and a Roe reversal would hand them a cudgel. Edwards is rhetorically  pro-life and, like Justice Kennedy, has supported restrictions. But Governor Edwards would have to deal with an enraged Democratic base if he signed a bill banning all abortions. I somehow doubt he views that prospect with anything but foreboding. He needs Gret Stet liberals if he is to be re-elected. It will be a major test of coalition politics here in my backyard. Stay tuned.

Kennedy’s exit-stage right-is a reminder to liberals that we should stop looking for saviors. There’s no deus ex machina that’s going to drop from the sky and save us from the Trumper horde. We have to do it ourselves at the ballot box. There remains an excellent chance to flip the House but control of the Senate is up in the air despite the GOP’s narrow margin. It’s a tough map for Democrats, which is why everyone needs to forget about 2020 and focus on state and congressional elections. We on our own now.

Like many, I had hoped that Anthony Kennedy’s personal qualities would make him loath to allow the loathsome Insult Comedian to appoint his successor. Kennedy is famous for using words like dignity and respect in his opinions. Ain’t nobody less dignified or more disrespectful than Donald Trump who has already made the Kennedy retirement about himself. Dahlia Lithwick, once again, summed up my feelings on this point:

Many of us predicted that Kennedy would not allow Trump to replace him with someone who would dismantle his legacy. We were wrong. Many of us believed that a lifelong devotee of dignity, civility, and the rule of law would not want his work tarnished by a president who routinely attacks individual judges and the very notion of an independent judiciary. We were wrong. That two of Anthony Kennedy’s last judicial acts included a letter that opened “My dear Mr. President” and a vote to grant that same president a virtual blank check on the national security front certainly suggests that nothing about a president who liesbullies, and destabilizes the rule of law was any kind of real impediment to Kennedy’s departure.

2018 is the most important off-year election in the history of the Republic. It’s a chance to check the wild excesses of the executive and legislative branches.  Organize and vote like your life depends on it.

We’re on our own now.

INSTANT UPDATE: In the least surprising development ever, Jeff Flake has announced that he won’t put a hold on a Supreme Court nominee.

We’re still on our own.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Day I Get Home

Fantastic Landscape (Volcano Erupting) by David Alfaro Siquerios.

Our visit to Virginia was a quickie. One of the highlights came on the return trip when we met longtime First Draft readers Lex and Carroll Alexander for lunch. We rendezvoused at Stamey’s in Greensboro, NC and ate the food of their people: barbecue. The meal included perhaps the best peach cobbler I’ve ever had. A good time was had by all but I’m afraid Carroll and I did most of the talking. She has family roots in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and I was eager to untangle them. Nosy might be a better word, but it’s always fun to learn someone has Momus/Comus/Proteus old line krewe types in the family. You never know what happens when you give someone’s family tree a shake. All sorts of oddities are likely to fall out.

On a weird note, I got into a twitter slagging match last week with a Gret Stet legislator’s wife. My crime was criticizing her hubby’s voting record. She was not amused and he contacted me by DM. “Perfection” is a terrible burden and they don’t carry it well. #sarcasm. I wound up inviting them to a “block party” so the fight would end. I’m not sure why they think fighting with citizens is a good move but they do.  I’m not the first person to have this experience and won’t be the last. Weird, weird, weird.

This week’s theme song wedged itself in my head on our trip home. The title is a minor misnomer  as we got home last Sunday. The very Beatlesque The Day I Get Home was written by Difford and Tilbrook for 1991’s Play album. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original studio recording and a swell live performance.

Now that we’ve trekked home, it’s time to jump to the break without crash landing. Knock on wood or some such superstitious shit.

Continue reading

Hostages To Misfortune

Every time we think Trumpism cannot get worse, they exceed our already low expectations. The family separation policy makes sucking up to dictators and fighting with allies look positively tame. Angela Merkel is a tough woman who can take care of herself. Children torn from their parents cannot. Let the children go, Mr. Trump.

Team Trump’s chaotic messaging has made matters even worse. The very white lady at Homeland Security cannot keep her story straight, Jeff Bo is quoting the Bible, and the president* started blaming Democrats the minute the story blew up in the administration’s face. Democrats are supposed to repeal a non-existent law so the kids can go free and/or be deported. It’s the clusterfuck of clusterfucks. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

What’s really going on is a hostage crisis. Team Trump are the kidnappers. They’re making unreasonable demands: FUND THE WALL or else. The hostages are children torn from their parents and placed in cages, cells whatever you want to call them. What’s important is that this outrage stop. Pronto.

Trump has no problem using immigrant children as hostages. There’s a long history in this country of demonizing non-white children as Rebecca Onion pointed out at Slate:

Like so many cruelties that have intensified under Trumpism, the idea that only white American children are truly “innocent” and worthy of protection isn’t his invention—it’s just subtext, made text. As historian Tera Hunter wrote in the New York Times, “child-snatching” has a long history in the United States. Black parents in slavery and Native American parents facing white colonialism had children sold, killed, or put into boarding schools and re-educated out of their culture. “Nits make lice,” Col. John Chivington is supposed to have said before the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado in 1864, when his soldiers killed a group of Cheyenne and Arapaho, women, children, and all. Part of the rationale for these atrocities was that these children are not really children, in the way white people understand it—those families were not really families, and those people were not really people.

It’s horrifying that Trump *is* capable of saying something as deplorable (there’s that word again) as “nits make lice.” In this instance, it’s probably good that his ignorance of history is as profound as his malice for everyone who does not look like him. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen such raw, naked, overt racism in the White House. It should curdle the blood of all decent Americans. It was too much for Laura Bush. Let the children go, Mr. Trump.

Adding to the horror of the situation is that the New Yorker is reporting that the government does not have a plan or protocol to reunite the families they’ve torn apart.  They think of them as pawns in this president’s* game of low brow chess with Congress. It’s because the families consist of “nits and lice” as far as the Trump regime is concerned. They do not give a damn.

I thought of Francis Bacon’s words when I sat down to write this post:

He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.

There’s no fortune to be made in this situation. Donald Trump’s goal is to wreak as much havoc and destruction as possible while he’s in office. They say that misery loves company and the Insult Comedian is one miserable, angry son-of-a-bitch. His election made us all hostages to misfortune.

We should resist in whatever way available and, more importantly, get out and vote this November. Only a Democratic Congress can reign in this cruel, racist, and evil government. I’m tired of being a hostage to misfortune.

The last word goes to the good people at the New York Daily News. A tabloid headline speaks louder than a thousand words;

And Then?

Donald Trump is not gonna quit.

Donald Trump is not gonna get impeached, tried, convicted and removed from office.

Donald Trump is not gonna be indicted, probably.

Stop fantasizing about these scenarios.

Donald Trump will be president until 2020.* No matter what happens with Russia, no matter what happens with Congress. We have him for two more years, and we just have to handle that. You know why?

Because any other scenario leads to a truly horrifying amount of violence for the marginalized communities already under attack. Think about it.

Trump resigns. (This presumes a sense of shame he and his advisors don’t have and can’t develop. He’s not going to go quietly and build a presidential library somewhere. I don’t care how long the pee tape is or what he looks like in it. He can’t stop, because if he could stop he’d have done it already.)

Trump gets impeached and tried in the Senate. (The circus that was the Clinton impeachment would look like a parking lot carnival. Hearings would be disrupted constantly, the cable news complex might just actually explode, and it would be impossible to get a word in edgewise in any medium whatsoever. The wrangling alone over the timing and disposition of the trial, the testimony, the amount of witness tampering that’s possible when your entire administration is in hock to the Russian mob? By the time we get around to day one it’ll be 2045.)

EITHER of those come true, and the current culture war dunks itself in lighter fluid and runs through a fireworks tent. Democrats are already DEMONCRAPS and a threat to our democracy, liberals are for threatening and doxxing and attempting to rape, people are screaming about brown-people voter fraud in elections the Republicans WIN.

Trump gets kicked out and/or convinced to quit because of scandal, and remember that whackjob who showed up at the pizza joint? His mini-mes will be in every post office by the following weekend. It’s ALREADY not safe for Hillary to appear in public without a bulletproof vest, you think anybody with an “I’m With Her” hat is gonna be safe?

Trump dying in office is actually worse than either of those scenarios. The man is elderly and obese and not, shall we say, in a good mental place right now, and was not healthy even when he was young. The presidential schedule is punishing even for a guy as lazy as he is, with all the air travel and such. So let’s say he dies of what are declared natural causes, which to the sane among us would be a reasonable pronouncement for a septuagenarian who thinks exercise is a scam.

What do you think happens next?

The investigations on Timmy’s YouTube Amateur Fest, otherwise known as Fox and Friends. That’s what happens next. The theories about poison and secret garrotings and who the White House doctors REALLY ARE, those are what will make it onto Fox News. On 4chan and the MRA subreddits there won’t be theories, just conspiracies, about how someone killed THEIR LORD. His embodiment of their resentment is all that’s keeping them from swatting every girl who was mean to them in high school. Remove that, and there’s just no damn telling.

If God forbid he is assassinated all fucking hell breaks loose. This is actually our worst nightmare. There are people in this country who think they are fighting a race war and they’re not on the fringes anymore. All it would take was one whisper on the wind that a black or brown or Muslim person killed Trump (no matter WHO it actually was) and nobody would be safe.

Every fucking day I hear somebody fantasizing about one of the above scenarios without thinking about who’s going to get hurt once we witness Trump getting his ass beat thoroughly in an election or a courtroom or by his own arteries. I just want us to understand that while there may be rejoicing in liberal blogistan the hatred he’s unleashed is going to be vented on people who already have more to lose and we have to figure out how to keep them safe.

Whenever someone wishes Trump would get indicted or otherwise split town, I have to ask them what they think happens next. And what happens after that, and after that, and after that. We have to start planning for more than just stockpiling champagne.

A.

*Would LOVE to be wrong about any of this and will cheerfully accept the ribbing that will come with my wrongness.

Scott Pruitt: Chickenshit Grifter

I’m sure you’ve all heard about Scott Pruitt having an aide badger Chik-fil-A into giving his wife a franchise. Hey, they’ll need an income when Scotty stops grifting the EPA. It’s gotten so bad that Gret Stet Senator John Neely Kennedy publicly urged Scotty to “stop acting like a moron.” The national media has learned what the Louisiana press has known for years: Neely likes spouting off on teevee and usually has a corny one-liner saved up. If he weren’t a Republican, I might offer to supply him with some Neelyisms but he is so I won’t. Besides, I’m not adept at Hee Haw humor.

Back to Scott Pruitt. The reason I call him a chickenshit grifter is that he’s fond of grifting relatively small amounts aka chickenfeed or chickenshit. He’s even been asked to stop messing up the White House mess by eating there so much. Yo, Scotty: pay your tab, it’s only 400 bucks.  In short, this is chickenshit grifting at its smallest and pettiest. Avarice thy name is Scotty.

I was astonished when this tweet landed on my timeline:

I checked to make sure this was an genuine Fox News feed. It is indeed and it’s actually “fair and balanced.” I didn’t know they were allowed to criticize Scotty. This could be a signal to the Insult Comedian that it’s time to stop watching Scotty grift. Grift, Scotty, grift.

One would think that, as a major criminal, Trump would be offended by the picayune and penny-ante antics of Scotty. They’re both grifters but Scotty is strictly small time. He’s hanging on because the president* likes his terrible policies but he can turn on a dime; just ask Trudeau or Macron. I wonder when Scotty will ask for a pardon. Let’s start the countdown…

Whenever I think of Chik-fil-A, I think of this masterful float by the Krewe du Vieux sub-kreme, Seeds of Decline, as well as this photo by my erstwhile nemesis, Michael Homan.

Photograph by Michael Homan.

Since I refuse to give Homan the last word, I might as well expel this disgusting earworm from my head.

One of these days I’ll write new lyrics and transform that horrendous tune  into Watching Scotty Grift. There could even be an alternate version, Watching Scotty Blow.

The answer, my friend, is grifting in the wind, the answer is grifting in the wind.

It’s Good To Be Kaiser

The Kaiser of Chaos was feeling feisty this morning. He tweeted out a preposterous assertion of executive authority:

So, why tweet this if you’re a not guilty man? (Like “collusion,” “innocent” is not a legal term of art: please substitute “conspiracy” and “not guilty.”) Something big is going on behind the scenes right now. This is the latest in a long line of panic tweets sent by the man who thinks he’s dictator. He’s a dictator in his mind only but the public needs to pay careful attention when he gets like this.

Trump’s plan is to live and die by the tweeter tube so it’s only fitting to post a twitter riposte to the president*:

I’ve complained before about amateur internet and cable teevee lawyers. Trumpy is by far the worst of the bunch. Frankly, his real lawyers aren’t much better after that fakakata memo they sent to team Mueller asserting that it’s legal for the president* to shit on the constitution and wipe his ass with the bill of rights. And of course Mayor Noun Verb 9/11 has been all over teevee belching and farting smoke. I’ve come to the conclusion that Rudy and Trumpy are the same dude. Heckuva job, Rudy.

Very few genuine legal eagles think that Team Trump’s claims hold any water. If they did, we’d already be living in a dictatorship instead of watching a pre-Great War style autocratic hereditary monarchy creep up on us. There are signs of it every day; particularly in the admonitions to exempt Trump’s family from criticism and scrutiny. His son-in-law and daughter are White House aides so they’re fair game. Junior and Eric have big mouths so they are too. I feel sorry for Melania and cannot blame her for disappearing. Lord, what a family.

Back to legal scholars. I’d like to direct your attention to two op-ed pieces in today’s Failing New York Times. The first by a Democrat: former Deputy Attorney General and US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Harry Litman. The second piece is by former Reagan and Poppy Bush White House counsel, Douglas Kmiec. who deftly lays out precedents on executive power. Holy bipartianship, Batman.

There are also some swell pieces at Slate. The first by Jed Shugerman posits that Trump’s lawyers seem to have admitted that he obstructed justice. It’s a detailed essay so you should read it for yourself but it’s as convincing as hell. We already knew that a legal team featuring Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani, and the departed John Dowd was not ready for prime time. The Shugerman piece confirms that belief.

Finally, the divine Dahlia Lithwick conducts an extended interview with Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe; known to our readers as Larrrr-eeee Tryyyyyy-buh. Tribe and Dahlia both urge Democrats to avoid “magical thinking” and understand the limits of what can be accomplished by Team Mueller, impeachment, and the 25th amendment.

These are perilous times. We have a petulant president* who believes that he is above the law. He’s surrounded by yes men and women who only tell him what he wants to hear. He conducts himself like a medeval monarch dispensing justice to his followers and denying it to his opponents. I’m fond of the Kaiser Wilhelm II analogy because *that* fucking moron was deposed at the end of the Great War. Like Trump, he was an arrested adolescent who fled to Holland to avoid being arrested. I wonder if they’d take Trumpy in? Not bloody likely.

One more tweet before we go. If only the Kaiser of Chaos would listen to Jerry Ford:

For the record, Ford’s Attorney General, Edward Levi, was the one who cleaned house at the Justice Department after Watergate. It’s his legacy of apolitical justice that’s under attack by the Kaiser of Chaos and the Duke of Deception, Rudy Giuliani.

The last word goes to the late Tom Petty. All you have to do is substitute Kaiser for King:

Saturday Odds & Sods: I Heard It Through The Grapevine

The Memory by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a long, hot pre-summer so far, which has me feeling languid and ennui laden. We went to an anniversary/hurricane season opening day party yesterday at Chez Homan. Long time readers might recall Michael as my blog nemesis. The feud is over and I won.

I’m still suffering withdrawal symptoms from the end of The Americans. A bit of Moscow summer weather sounds rather appealing at this point. Of course, they make you drink vodka so I’ll pass. I guess that makes me as stubborn as a Moscow Mule…

It’s too hot to be wordy so I’ll keep this snappy. I know, famous last words and all that shit.

This week’s theme song was written by the brilliant Motown songwriting team of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1966. It was originally recorded by Gladys Knight & the Pips but Marvin Gaye’s rendition was the bigger radio hit. It’s a foolproof song, which has been recorded many times over the years. We’re featuring Gladys, Marvin, and CCR today.

Now that we’ve shared some juicy gossip. lets find some shade and jump to the break.

Continue reading