Category Archives: Law/Justice

Rising Anxiety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a better tune for these trying times:

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

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

You still know me, Greg:

Shake those hands, shake those hands…

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

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

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Game Pieces

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

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

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

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

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

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Disbar Barr/The Pardon Bender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time to Rufusize the last word:

Still There’ll Be More

pennywise_3_trump

Image by Michael F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The last word goes to Procol Harum:

 

Three Days

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Only” one to three days.

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

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

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

A.

The Roberts Option

Chief Justices Chase, Rehnquist, and Roberts.

When Neal Katyal speaks, I listen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Throwback Impeachment

Are you ready to party like it’s 1999?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The last word goes to Prince:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Yeah!!

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

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

 

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

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

TrumpCopCoffee
And then…

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

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

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

 

It has metastasized:

This need to cast onesself(sic) as VICTIM.

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

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

To: BlackVeil

 

Eventually, everyone else learns this crap from the homos.

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

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

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The Tribe Gambit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talking Turley

I only watched bits and bobs of the Con Law seminar on the Hill yesterday. Watching Louie Gohmert Piles causes my blood pressure to spike and Gym Jordan gives me a headache, so I need to ration my exposure to them. I am, however, acquainted with the GOP’s witness, Jonathan Turley who, as far as I know, is not a Republican and didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. I was relieved to hear that.

Turley was for impeachment before he was against it. It was a repeat performance: He testified before the Judiciary committee during the Clinton impeachment inquiry as did Michael Gerhardt, I’m not sure why they missed Professor Karlan back then. Perhaps their premonitive powers told them she’d make a joke about a future president’s* then unborn child. The Barron flap was right up there with Barack Obama’s tan suit as a phony “scandal.” It was barren of genuine outrage, but everything is phony about the Trumps.

Back to Jonathan Turley. I knew him when he was a baby law professor at Tulane, and I was a student. He was among the friendlier and more approachable faculty members. I can’t say that I knew him well, but I socialized with him in groups because of the POPS program. When I was a 2L, Tulane Law instituted a community service requirement, that’s when Turley launched the Program for Older Prisoners.

The premise of POPS is that older prisoners have mellowed with age and are unlikely to commit crimes upon release. It’s pitched to conservative pols as a cost-saving measure and to liberals as a humanitarian policy. Law students were dispatched to prisons to interview candidates for the program, reports were prepared, and passed on to the authorities. It’s more involved than that but, as you’ll soon see, my personal experience with the process is limited.

I made two trips to Angola State Prison to meet with prisoner/candidates. I seem to have drawn the short end of the straw: both convicts were convicted rapists and pedophiles. One was a very muscular, heavily tattooed 65-year-old who was unrepentant about his perverted predilections. I asked him why he’d applied given his lack of remorse. He hadn’t a visitor in years and wanted someone to talk to. The other guy was a repentant perv, but a poor candidate for early release. Suffice it to say I didn’t recommend either of them. My skin crawls recalling the first guy whose name I’ve withheld to protect the guilty.

Turley was a surprisingly subtle choice for committee GOPers to make. His position is not that Trump is a good guy who should never be impeached but that Congress should wait for the courts to rule on the pending witness and document cases before proceeding. In the abstract, there’s some merit to this argument BUT given the Trump regime’s relentless stonewalling it’s a terrible idea in the real world. The reason for the expedited process is a genuine concern that Team Trump will stage an encore performance of 2016 in next year’s election. Two stolen 21st Century elections aren’t enough; they want to complete a trifecta in 2020.

Unlike the House Republicans who called him to testify, Jonathan Turley is neither a bad nor venal person but he’s wrong about the Trump impeachment inquiry. I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t link to Dana Milbank’s hilarious takedown of the Turley testimony in the WaPo. I can’t resist quoting Milbank quoting Turley:

“I get it: You are mad,” he testified. “The president is mad. My Democratic friends are mad. My Republican friends are mad. My wife is mad. My kids are mad. Even my dog seems mad — and Luna is a goldendoodle and they don’t get mad. So we’re all mad.”

Damn right we are! But nowhere in the Constitution does it state that a president shall not be impeached if people — or their dogs — are mad.

I’ll be doggone. Lawyers say the darndest things.

The last word goes to Aaron Neville and the Neville Brothers:

Quote Of The Day: Impeachment Report Edition

I’m working my way through the House Intelligence Committee’s report. It’s essentially a narrative history of what happened with Ukraine and why it matters. It’s more readable than the Mueller Report. It doesn’t hedge its bets and calls an Igor an Igor and a Lev a Lev.

Today’s quote comes from Chairman Adam Schiff’s preface:

Nevertheless, there remain unanswered questions, and our investigation must continue, even as we transmit our report to the Judiciary Committee.  Given the proximate threat of further presidential attempts to solicit foreign interference in our next election, we cannot wait to make a referral until our efforts to obtain additional testimony and documents wind their way through the courts.  The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress.  Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a stronger or more complete case of obstruction than that demonstrated by the President since the inquiry began.

The damage the President has done to our relationship with a key strategic partner will be remedied over time, and Ukraine continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support in Congress.  But the damage to our system of checks and balances, and to the balance of power within our three branches of government, will be long-lasting and potentially irrevocable if the President’s ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked.  Any future President will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance, or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three.

Jerry Nadler says that he’s not going to “take any shit” from committee GOPers. Let’s hope so. Some of the looniest members of the Republican caucus are on the Judiciary Committee. The first day sounds as dry as a bone so perhaps they’ll nod off. I’m not sure if Louie Gohmert Piles, Jim Jordan, and Matt Gaetz will understand all the big words used by the law professors. I’m skipping it. I’m not in the mood to watch them throw shit against the wall just to see how much of it sticks. Now if Larry Tribe were testifying, I’d be there.

The phone records are particularly interesting. What was the man who puts the cow in Moscow, Devin Nunes, doing on the phone with the conspirators?

A phone song is in order. The last word goes to the Kinks:

 

It’s A Plame Shame

The MSM is full of former Bushies trying to convince the public that President Beavis was a prince among men compared to the Current Occupant. While it’s true that Dubya had better table manners, it should not be forgotten that the Beavis-Duce administration was almost as fond of smear tactics as the Trump regime.

According to Team Bush-Cheney, those of us who opposed the Mess in Mesopotamia were soft on terrorism at best, traitors at worst. The difference between Bushies and Trumpers is that most of the time Dubya let others do the lying and smearing on his behalf.  Genuine upper-class twits swells let the help do the dirty work for them: Poppy had Lee Atwater; Junior had Karl Rove. The Insult Comedian enjoys wallowing in the mud alongside Gym Jordan, Devin Nunes, and John Neely Kennedy. More about the latter next week at the Bayou Brief.

That brings us to two people the Bush administration gleefully smeared: the late Ambassador Joe Wilson and his then CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame. Scooter Libby was convicted of disclosing Plame’s identity: his sentence was commuted by Bush; Trump pardoned him in 2018. Karl Rove escaped indictment by the skin of his teeth; surviving to take up residence as a Fox News pundit. Robert Novak the right-wing columnist who published the story was not indicted either, but the man known as the Prince of Darkness finally went to hell in 2009. It’s unclear if he went there in a bucket: 

I think of Valerie Plame with each Republican demand that the Ukraine scandal whistleblower be outed. Here’s what the spy who was forced out of the cold has to say about it:

“I feel personally for this whistleblower. I know what he’s going through,” says Plame. “His career is over. His world, it’s already been upended. I don’t think he’ll remain anonymous for long.”

The good news is that Valerie Plame survived the Bush smear campaign, moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and started a new chapter in her life. After a tough year in which her father and husband died, she’s landed on her feet again. She’s the subject of a flattering profile in the WaPo and is running as a Democrat for a House seat in New Mexico. This ad is a knockout:

The Plame-Wilson affair was such a cause celebre that a movie based on their respective memoirs was made in 2010, Fair Game. Naomi Watts and Sean Penn played the couple. It’s the rare case in which the real people were more attractive than the actors portraying them. It’s a good movie, check it out if you haven’t seen it.

There was also this song by The Decemberists:

The next time a Bush acolyte tries to tell you that their guy is a much better man than President* Pennywise, remember the smear campaign against Valerie Plame. Dubya just knows what fork to use and would have had the good sense to stay off social media. Otherwise, he set the table for the Insult Comedian’s smear tactics.

I couldn’t resist a rock and roll pun in the post title, so the last word goes to Peter Frampton:

Instant Analysis: Impeachment Hearing Day One

I saw most of today’s hearing. Here are my takeaways:

—Nancy Smash was right to make the intelligence committee and Chairman Adam Schiff the tip of the impeachment spear. He was unflappable even in the face of moronic provocations by the Republican minority. He ruled on their sporadically dumb motions and moved on.

—I might rather have a beer with George Kent (I’ve heard he’s very funny offstage) but Bill Taylor is an impressive and formidable man. He reminds me of the small c conservatives who used to be common until Newt, W, the Tea Party, and Trump dumbed the GOP down.

Taylor reminded me of my father’s friend Paul Haerle who was a San Francisco super lawyer and California Republican Chairman from 1975-77. He ran afoul of the right wing of his party for supporting Ford over Reagan in 1976, resigned the next year, and focused on lawyering.

A quick personal story: I worked as a paralegal on the plaintiff’s side of a massive anti-trust case for a few years. It involved accusations of price fixing by Kaiser and other cement companies. I worked on the document production at Kaiser cement HQ in Oakland with another young paralegal with whom I shared a mutual disdain.

Anyway, the jerk-alegal and I were present to shuffle papers for a deposition. Paul Haerle was there representing the cement overlords. My nemesis glared at me, but his face fell as I addressed his big boss:

PA: “Hello Mr. Haerle. I’m Peter, Lou Athas’ son. We’ve met before.”

PH gave me a big smile and said: “Great to see you again. I miss your dad. Haven’t been to our Kiwanis club for a while. Give him and your mother my regards.”

PA: “Will do, sir.”

PH: “When you talk to your mom, tell her I’d love to eat her delicious Greek cookery again.”

My nemesis’ head looked like it was about to explode. He was not invited to dinner at my parents’ house. Paul Haerle was, and a good time was had by all.

That was quite a digression even for me. I’ll try and do better; not that y’all believe that.

—Neither Taylor nor Kent fell into any Republican traps. They insisted that they were fact witnesses and that it was up to Congress to deal with impeachment. I was relieved that none of the GOPers called Kent a “bow-tie motherfucker.” I guess none of them heard Omar call Brother Mouzon that on The Wire.

—Jim Jordan was there: unjacketed and unhinged. He seems to think that talking really fast and loud will dazzle the witnesses. They were emphatically undazzled by the second-rate wrestling coach. Jim Jordan to the rescue? Not even close.

—The GOP’s defense of Trump is ridiculous. Just because the crime was not perfected doesn’t make it legal. The only reason aid to Ukraine was not withheld is that Congress intervened.

—Democratic counsel Danny Goldman rocks. He showed why Schiff opted to have a genuine trial lawyer handle much of the questioning. Much like when Law & Order‘s Adam Schiff had Jack McCoy do likewise. You didn’t think I’d pass a chance to make that joke again, did you?

—Finally, a point of order from the sensible party on the Tweeter Tube:

I did not know that. Unlike House Republicans, I learn something new every day. I’ll remember that the next time I order Chicken Keev.

The last word goes to ELP:

 

Frat Boy Tantrum In The House

Both Michael F and I have already commented on the Brooks Brothers Riot reenactment staged by approximately 30 House GOPers. They’re the worst of the worst: Steve King was there, Matt Gaetz was the ringleader, and pizza was delivered to a secure room. Holy security breach, Batman.

Keeping terrible company was the Gret Stet of Louisiana’s own Steve Scalise, House GOP Whip and a man who aspires to be Speaker of the House. What House? Animal House? I’ll have more about Scalise in my Bayou Brief column next week.

The most disturbing aspect of this political tantrum was pointed out by Wired’s Brian Barrett:

So when Gaetz and House minority whip Steve Scalise and their merry band of lawmakers literally barge into a SCIF—they finally left after a five-hour standoff—they’re not just causing a fuss. They’re making a mockery of national security and to a lesser extent putting it at risk. Especially the congressmen who, as numerous outlets have reported, brought their smartphones into the room.

“A SCIF is designed and regulated to be a secure space—and that means keeping out electronic devices that malicious actors can exploit to conduct surveillance,” says Joshua Geltzer, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council. “Bringing those into such a space can cause real national security vulnerabilities. Doing so for a political stunt potentially sacrifices security for partisan points.”

Remember when national security was the GOP’s calling card? It was a major reason they won 5 of 6 presidential elections between 1968 and 1988. Now they’re the pizza party party led by a president* who is Putin’s puppet. Reagan weeps.

Dim Florida Trumper Matt Gaetz has clearly seen too many action movies. He even got his name on the gossip site TMZ:

Gaetz compared his move to the Spartans in the the 2006 movie, “300.” Seriously, you gotta see how pumped he was — we fully expected him to shout, “This … is … Washington!!!”

Apologies for the exclamation points in triplicate, that was the gossip rag, not me. It does, however, point out how juvenile and jejune this frat boy tantrum was.

Gaetz may think that he’s Gerard Butler in 300 but there’s a more apt cinematic analogy:

That’s Gaetz’s DUI mugshot paired with John Belushi as Bluto in Animal House. Apologies to Belushi’s fans and family but Bluto and Matty are peas in a pod. TOGA. TOGA. TOGA.

This stunt was a noisy attempt to distract attention from the devastating testimony of Ambassador William Taylor, which, in a sane world would have led to calls for President* Pennywise’s resignation. This is not a sane world, alas.

If Bill Taylor is so horrible, why did Secretary of State Pompeo personally ask him to go to Ukraine? The GOP’s only answer was a frat boy tantrum in the House. It’s a gross process argument that insults the public’s intelligence; much like Trumpism and Teabaggery.

Allow me to put my lapsed lawyer hat on again. In the impeachment process, the House is like a grand jury and impeachment is like an indictment. They’re at the evidence gathering stage right now: taking depositions to nail down witness testimony. This same process was used by the dread Trey Gowdy during the BENGHAZI, BENGHAZI, BENGHAZI investigation. It was followed by public hearings. House Democrats are walking in Trey’s footsteps as it were. There will be public hearings, which are akin to a preliminary hearing in the criminal justice system. It’s an imperfect analogy but it’s mine, all mine.

The Senate is the trial court in the impeachment process. Senators sit as jurors and Team Trump will have the right to present a likely ludicrous defense. They should skip the “president* is above the law” argument. It’s not going to fly with lawmakers. It will be much harder to argue process in the Senate and it’s all Republicans have left in their ongoing quest to defend the indefensible.

Back to the House: if 30 is an accurate count of how many House GOPers pitched a frat boy tantrum the other day, that means 167 members did not participate. I hope they’re suitably mortified by this stunt. So much for dignity and decorum. They’re all Bluto now:

Finally, I watched MSNBC yesterday as Elijah Cummings’ body lay in state. The dignified and solemn behavior of House Democrats stood in stark contrast to the petulant antics of Matt Gaetz, Steve Scalise, and their epic frat boy tantrum. Dignity and decorum are still alive and well even in the era of Trump.

It’s Good To Be Fake King

I wrote about Team Trump’s surreal and specious legal arguments two weeks ago. They’re at it again. This time in an appeal of the New York financial records case:

[Manhattan District Attorney General Counsel Carrey ] Dunne brought up Trump’s famous statement when he caught fire during the 2016 Republican primary, saying, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

“If he did pull out a handgun and shoot someone on Fifth Ave,” Dunne asked, “would the local police be restrained?”

“Would we have to wait for impeachment?” he added.

<SNIP>

But when Consovoy retook the podium with his booming voice and somewhat bilious affect, fielding more questions from the court, he doubled down on his argument that congressional, federal, and state bodies are forbidden from investigating a sitting President.

Judge Chin raised Dunne’s point. He asked Consovoy for his “view on the Fifth Avenue example.”

“Local authorities couldn’t investigate, they couldn’t do anything about it?” he asked.

“No,” replied a visibly annoyed Consovoy amid stifled chortles.

“Nothing could be done? That’s your position?” Chin repeated.

“That is correct, that is correct,” Consovoy responded, before qualifying it by saying that a president could be prosecuted after leaving office. He also conceded that documents could be gathered in the course of such an investigation.

Boiled down to its less bilious essence, lawyer Consomme’s argument is that the president* is above the law; that’s some weak-n-watery broth. That argument was called “repugnant” by the trial judge and had courtroom observers laughing yesterday. The only reason it’s funny is that Team Trump’s attempt to take Manhattan is doomed to fail. Before going into details, a brief musical interlude:

The only question is whether the court will rule narrowly and bounce it back to the trial court or write a detailed and scathing opinion. Trump’s lawyers will appeal in either event but the Supremes are unlikely to grant cert on a narrow opinion. But if the Second Circuit is feeling expansive, it would be an excellent test of whether the current court is conservative or radical: only a rabid wingnut could buy Trump’s “l’etat est moi” argument.

It’s a pity that lawyer Consomme didn’t attack the “phony emoluments clause” as part of his case. I’d be interested to see how the SCOTUS originalists  would react to that. Silent Clarence might even speak during an oral arguments on that point.

In other Trumper legal madness, a lawyer for one of Giuliani’s goons, Lev Parnas, claimed executive privilege. Rudy’s bagman was part of Trump’s legal team? This ridiculous argument won’t fly: it’s yet another ploy to buy time.

The most interesting thing about the Giuliani goon case is whether they’ll roll over on Rudy. That, in turn, would force Rudy to contemplate throwing Trump to the wolves. It’s possible. Their relationship has always been transactional as pointed out in a must read piece by Michael Kruse at Politico Magazine.

Trump’s legal strategy, such as it is, is to kick the can down the road. It’s unlikely that his lawyers believe their own argument. The president* is NOT above the law and if he were, such extreme power could not be based on Justice Department memos.

The Kaiser of Chaos *is* stupid enough to believe that he’s above the law after a lifetime of getting away with everything. The courts are unlikely to buy these specious and surreal arguments. If Trump is surprised by this, he’s truly the King of Fools. The last word goes to Dwight Yoakam:

Yeah, I know. The title led you to expect Tom Petty would get the last word. I hate to disappoint my readers:

 

We Are So Afraid

Teaching cops to see themselves as the last line of defense against a roiling mob of lawbreakers intent on raping and pillaging across the land has, shall we say, consequences: 

The most important thing for a police officer is to be sure they “go home at the end of the day,” they tell themselves repeatedly, including in police trainings on use of force. “It’s better to be judged by twelve than carried by six,” is a common refrain every police officer has heard repeatedly throughout their careers. Officers and their union representatives have said it to me dozens of times over the years.

In reality, though, the people who pick up your garbage are significantly more likely to die on the job than police officers. That doesn’t mean police don’t have difficult jobs, that they aren’t subject to lesser assaults, or that they are never justified in using force. But in terms of going home to their families at night, construction workers, truck drivers, farmers, and fishermen all have more dangerous occupations.

Much of this exaggerated fear stems from how officers are trained. Amber Guyger had received deescalation training as mandated under Texas’ “Sandra Bland Act,” but she said she never considered following it over the course of her encounter with Botham Jean. And Dean had just completed 40 hours of CIT training aimed at dealing with people with mental illness; in essence, CIT courses are a version of deescalation training.

However, deescalation tactics are not typically included in the general use-of-force curriculum officers take at the academy. They’re treated as an extra, an add-on, not as a fundamental philosophy that should infuse every encounter where force is used. In addition, there is a sizable cottage industry of fear mongering cop trainers teaching officers to adopt a “warrior” mentality.

Is it just cops, though, when so much of our entertainment culture is about law enforcement? I mean, honestly, I see so many people who aren’t cops adopting the framework of “readiness” and buying “tactical” and “survival” shit for themselves, though the most they’re in danger of is missing out on a ground beef sale at the Hy-Vee.

That’s all they see all day long. That’s the conversation we’ve been having since 9/11 at least: How to prepare yourself for war. I was watching broadcast TV the other day, to catch the football game and every single promo for a TV show was about the police or military. SEAL. SWAT. Chicago PD. NCIS. SVU. Criminal Minds.

Not just cop culture but hyper-dramatized cop culture, where every moment is a life-or-death sitch, where it’s kill or be killed on the mean streets of whatever town. Nobody’s filling out paperwork or chipping in for an office cake or getting hassled about desk assignments. It’s just a parade of horrors, of us-against-the-horde life-or-death fights, and that gets inside your head, and the kind of people who who respond to those types of scenarios with FUCK YEAH LIGHT ‘EM UP are not who you want on the wall.

I think about this all the time. My neighborhood Facebook group, ordinarily less racist and paranoid than NextDoor, descended into chaos recently because a woman raised the alarm about rowdy kids in the park. Wasn’t anyone else worried, she asked, about how unsafe the park felt these days?

Were the youth shooting off firearms? Doing heroin? Torturing farm animals in ritual sacrifice to summon a flesh-eating demon from the Hellmouth?

Nope. They were swearing. Loudly.

Sixty-seven posts later, we had a thread featuring a parent opining that it was unwise to let a 12-year-old walk more than four blocks by himself here in Mayberry, that “we pay taxes” so therefore no kids should be in the public park absent everyone’s approval, that “the world” was “not like it used to be” and it was “time to move!”

Move where, no one could say, but presumably somewhere whiter and older, because that’s the only way to be safe. From the kids. Swearing.

I wanted to reach out to the 12-year-old who’s not allowed to walk anywhere by himself and offer him some drugs and a stripper in the gender(s) of his choosing. I wanted to bake the kids swearing in the park cookies and teach them some of David Simon’s dialogue, like if you’re gonna do this do it right. I wanted to tell everybody to get a fucking hobby and quit peering out your window looking for something to be upset about.

I wanted to scream that walling yourself off in your house and watching endless law enforcement shows about how the city’s going to kill you and gibbering online about not being able to control the behavior of everyone around you leads directly to exactly where you are, and you hate it here.

This supposedly smart mindset, where you’re always expecting the worst and prepared to meet it, guns blazing, doesn’t make you feel safe. It makes you fucking miserable, and miserable to your neighbors as well.

We are so goddamned scared of each other. And I understand why, when it’s direct trauma you’re responding to. You got mugged late at night on that street and you don’t want to go down it, that’s fair. I lock my doors and windows at night. I live in the city and I’m not saying anybody should be an idiot.

When our garage got broken into and some lawn stuff got stolen I called the cops with a middle-class white chick’s supreme confidence and watched them do their job with proper gratitude.

But not everything’s a crisis. Our cities are not going down the tubes because cops are too reluctant to shoot people. The parts of our cities that are in crisis are in crisis in no small part because we’re terrified of one another, all the time. We’ve convinced ourselves that the only way to deal with that terror is to knight a group of people to protect us, give them military-grade weapons and almost no training, and send them out into the streets to face what we tell them is basically The Purge.

If they’re scared, too? If they’re more scared than we are? Then where do we turn?

A.

Lock Them Up?

During a crisis there’s always the temptation to fight fire with fire, especially when the executive branch is trying to burn the government down. It’s tempting to say “lock them up” when an executive branch official under “orders” defies a congressional subpoena. But however appealing the idea is, it’s always wise to look before leaping into what could turn out to be a ring of fire.

I pride myself on my knowledge of Congress and its history. That’s why I’ve been telling people that Congress lacks the power to arrest contemnors and must rely on referrals to the Justice Department to enforce contempt citations. We all know how that would go with Bill Barr in charge. Those contempt citations would disappear into a black hole and become part of Barr’s contemptible cover-up.

It turns out I was wrong about the whole arrest power thing. Here’s how Cornell Law professor Josh Chafetz explains it in a New York Times op-ed:

The House should instead put back on the table the option of using its sergeant-at-arms to arrest contemnors — as the person in violation of the order is called — especially when an individual, like Rudy Giuliani, is not an executive branch official. Neither house of Congress has arrested anyone since 1935, but it was not uncommon before that point (and was blessed by the Supreme Court in 1927).

There are some major problems with the superficially appealing notion of Congress resorting to its power of inherent contempt. Let me list the defects:

First, any power that has not been exercised in 84 years is suspect. It opens the door to valid-sounding criticism of the majority. Just because Congress has this power doesn’t mean they should set the dial on the Wayback Machine to 1935 and dust it off. The mere thought makes me sneeze. Achoo.

Second, they do not have facilities to house contemnors (my new favorite word) and the US Marshal Service is unlikely to be willing to transport people to the nearest federal slammer. Their big boss is the Attorney General who is the Contemnor-in-Chief’s henchman.

That means that contemnors would have to be held in empty offices, the mail room, or subway tunnels. This would look ad-hoc and improvised as well as opening the door to valid-sounding criticism of the majority that could undermine the growing popularity of the impeachment inquiry. Why create martyrs? Especially when the other side is adept at playing the victim card. It’s one of the few things they do well.

Third, invoking inherent contempt gets us bogged down in another procedural argument that will lead to litigation. Political junkies, lawyers, and Senators may like procedural arguments but the public hates them. Procedural arguments are not only boring, they’re losers. We should stick to the substantive arguments in favor of impeachment and removal instead of discussing process. Hell, I’m a political junkie and my eyes glaze over when process is the subject of the day.

As emotionally satisfying as it would be to see Don McGahn, Rudy Giuliani, Hope Hicks, and other miscreants frogmarched to the pokey, it’s a loser in the court of public opinion and impeachment is a political process. Just because the Insult Comedian lacks impulse control does not mean his opponents should follow suit.

Adam Schiff’s big picture strategy of folding contempt of Congress into the articles of impeachment is a wise one. We already have the smoking gun: the White House memo describing the Trump-Zelensky call. Getting bogged down in procedural arguments will slow things down and make the fog of scandal even denser. There’s already too much denseness in Washington as is.

My answer to the rhetorical question posed in the title is a resounding NO. Democrats should be the smart party, let the Republicans be the stupid party. They’ve earned the title.

The last word goes to Crowded House:

 

Adventures In Trumper Lawyering

I started this post earlier this week but there’s a new example of crazy Trumper lawyering every day. I gotta give them credit for creativity as well as chutzpah for making some uh, inventive, arguments. The client is driving the train and it’s Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train; either that Casey Jones is at the wheel. Driving that train, high on cocaine…

ALL ABOARD THE LEGAL CRAZY TRAIN.

The Trump v. Vance case led off the week. The Insult Comedian’s lawyers were suing to prevent Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. from obtaining the holy grail of Trumpistan: the tax returns. The case should have been filed in state court since it involved an issue of state law, which is where the judge tried to bounce it back to before Team Trump appealed in federal court. I had a great conflicts of law professor, that’s why I remember this stuff. Hats off to the late Luther Love McDougal.

The craziest argument in this case is that a sitting president CANNOT BE INVESTIGATED. Judge Victor Marrero (not to be confused with the Louisiana town) wrote an opinion that was a giant fuck you to Team Trump:

The president asserts an extraordinary claim in the dispute now before this court.  He contends that the person who serves as president while in office enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind.

Bared to its core, the proposition the president advances reduces to the very notion that the founders rejected at the inception of the republic and that the Supreme Court has since unequivocally repudiated that a constitutional domain exists in this country in which not only the president, but derivatively, relatives, and persons and business entities associated with him are in fact above the law.  This court finds aspects of such a doctrine repugnant to the nation`s governmental structure and constitutional values.

Repugnant? That’s some strong stuff for a federal judge. Repugnant arguments result in indignant opinions.

You’ve all heard about the White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s nutty letter to the House leadership denouncing the impeachment inquiry. It read more like a campaign screed than a legal opinion. The effective bottom line of this remarkable document is that the constitution is unconstitutional. I shit you not: the impeachment inquiry is unconstitutional even though it’s in the document itself. So much for originalism.

The next lunatic argument comes from the Department of Justice. You know, the place where Bill Barr orchestrates the Trump cover up. DOJ lawyers argued that the 1974 Watergate grand jury case was wrongly decided. They did everything but invoke the Nixon-Barr doctrine:

On Thursday, two of Rudy Giuliani’s criminal associates were indicted by the Southern District of New York. The crazy came from one of their lawyers: former Trump mouthpiece, John Dowd. He claimed executive privilege before Congress because of their work with Rudy in Ukraine. Seriously?

You cannot make this shit up:

Only days ago Dowd told congressional investigators that his clients would not cooperate in their impeachment inquiry. But beyond that blanket resistance he said that there were specific issues which would make any discussion of cooperation take a long time untangle. The key one was attorney/client privilege. With the client being the President of the United States.

<SNIP>

Dowd explained that Parnas and Fruman worked with Rudy Giuliani on his representation of President Trump and thus were shielded (at least on some topics) by the Attorney/Client privilege between Giuliani (Attorney) and Donald Trump (client).

Oops, it wasn’t executive privilege, it was derivative attorney-client privilege. Is this like when Paul Drake (not the cat) worked as a shamus for Perry Mason? Does Hamilton Burger know about this? How about Lieutenants Tragg, Anderson, or Drumm?

My mind is still reeling from the legal crazy of the week. I mentioned two rock songs at the top of the post: Ozzy Osbourne and Warren Zevon & David Lindley get the last word.

 

Crazy Rudy’s Daffy Dossier

Rudy Giuliani has always been an asshole but not long ago he was a well-respected asshole. He was US Attorney for the Southern District of New York when the office decimated the top ranks of the Five Families. He was a two-term NYC Mayor who was dubbed “America’s Mayor” after 9/11. He was even the pre-season frontrunner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. In 2019, he’s become a punchline even in his hometown:

New York is a tough town even if it’s “the town so nice, they named it twice.”

I’m uncertain if it’s the Trump effect, lingering bitterness over Hillary Clinton winning the Senate seat that he coveted in 2000, or if he’s simply gone bat shit crazy. The result is the same: Rudolph Giuliani has become a laughingstock except in those quarters where “owning the libs” is as important as life itself. He’s become the Pagliacci of our national politics, a sad clown beating on a drum for the Insult Comedian.

That brings us to Rudy’s latest misadventure. There was a whole lotta hype on Tuesday and Wednesday about the State Department Inspector General’s request for an urgent meeting with relevant Congressional committees. It was widely speculated that the IG had gone rogue.

Instead, the IG turned over what is best described as a propaganda dossier in support of the discredited notion that the real 2016 scandal was Ukraine helping the Democrats. The mystery of where the hell this fakakta thing came from was solved when the artist formerly known as Mayor Combover took “credit.” Crazy Rudy strikes again.

I must give Team Trump credit for originality. They’ve spread the fog of scandal to Foggy Bottom. Watergate never touched Nixon’s national security team because he kept them away from the White House Horrors. President* Pennywise lacks Tricky’s gift for deviousness: he’s a spoiled brat used to getting his own way. Just ask the President of Finland.

In recent days, the Insult Comedian seems bound and determined to take his obsequious Veep, Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire, down with him. Publicly criticizing and implicating the man who can pardon you strikes me as stupid even for Donald Trump. It’s what happens when you lack either long-term plans or impulse control.

Back to Rudy Giuliani. I enjoy kicking him around, but I feel sorry for him. He used to be a man to be reckoned with instead of a national joke. He’s lawyered up but I still expect him to testify on Capitol Hill. Rudy never met a camera or microphone he didn’t love. He’s never turned down a chance to be on teevee and he’s not about to start now.

I referred to the packet in question as a daffy dossier for a reason. Both Trump and Giuliani are Toons. The problem is that they’re both Daffy Duck when one of them needs to be Bugs Bunny. Someone needs to stay in control of their emotions, especially when Porky Pig Pompeo is in charge at Foggy Bottom. Bill Barr probably thinks he’s Bugs when instead he’s Elmer Fudd hunting for wascally wabbits in Italy. Suffering succotash, what a mess.

I resisted the temptation to post a clown song as the last word. Instead, a song that’s about who Rudy used to be before he threw it all away to become Donald Trump’s patsy:

The Latest Trump Dignity Wraith

I watched the first 2 1/2 hours of Admiral Maguire’s testimony. It was a sad spectacle to watch a man with such a distinguished service record jump on hand grenades to protect a president* who would stab him in the back without any hesitation.

Like so many others in this administration, Maguire confuses his oath to protect the constitution with an oath to protect President* Pennywise. Maguire is just the latest in a long line of Trump dignity wraiths. His testimony was not only cringe inducing, it was in clear violation of the first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.

The notion that you should clear a complaint with persons mentioned in it defies logic. Trump and Barr are discussed in the whistleblower’s complaint yet they had a say in its release. Unbe-fucking-lievable. Why didn’t Maguire run it by Rudy Giuliani while he was at it?

The high point of the hearing was when Illinois Democrat Mike Quiqley set up a devastating inquiry about Rudy by discussing how arduous the security clearance process is. The artist formerly known as Mayor Combover does not have a security clearance but seems privy to all sorts of secrets, which he, in turn, blabs about on television.

I must admit that the Republicans on this committee are not as stupid as House Judiciary Committee GOPers. There’s no Gym Jordan or Louis Gohmert Piles on the Intelligence Committee. Of course, Devin Nunes claimed that Democrats are hunting for “nude pictures” of Trump. Nobody other than the Insult Comedian himself wants to see such pictures. I’m certain he would find them “perfect and beautiful” like his phone conversation with the hapless Ukrainian president.

Finally, committee Republicans made a big deal over Democrats “destroying” Maguire’s reputation. If that happened this morning, it was political suicide, not murder. Anyone who gets involved with Trump gets slimed; even retired Navy Seals with impeccable records. Maguire is just the latest Trump dignity wraith. He won’t be the last.

If the Admiral wishes to escape the well-deserved obloquy heaped on past Trump dignity wraiths, I have some unsolicited advice: Retire, Maguire.