Tuesday, May 30, 2023

You Know….

...freedom of speech... ...is also the freedom to say really dumb things. And just because Democrats don’t stop them from saying it, and don’t unleash the flying monkeys onto Twitter immediately after something is said, doesn’t mean “they win and we lose!”

Really. Get over the zero sum game reasoning. Granted, nobody’s paying attention to DeSantis right now (beyond political Twitter). But right now he’s nothing more than one more declared candidate for the GOP nomination for president.

And I gotta tell ya his outreach, even to MAGA, sux.

As much as I enjoy it, political Twitter is getting real hard to take seriously. This one, for example, is only a few hours old, and already it's running away with itself:
No. Just: no. Paxton is bragging a la Trump's "border wall" pronouncements. There are no facts here, not as he describes the case. Calm down. There is a reason criminal investigations are long and complicated while internet memes spring up in a few hours and become "true" in less time than that. As I mentioned before, what the Texas Supreme Court said was that voters could mean "covid" when they said they had a "disability" (the term in the statute) and needed a mail-in ballot.

The respondents do not have a ministerial duty, reviewable by mandamus, to look beyond the application to vote by mail. Moreover, while the State has alleged that the Clerks are accepting “improper application[s],” there is no evidence in the record that any has accepted a faulty application.

The Clerks have assured us that they will fully discharge their duty to follow the law. We are confident that they will follow the guidance we have provided here. Accordingly, we conclude that issuing the writ of mandamus to compel them to do so is unwarranted.

Got that?  Paxton asked for a court order (mandamus) telling county clerks not to accept mail in ballots because the "disability" was covid, even though the box only says "disability," not "...and which one?"  The court said, explicitly (last sentence) they wouldn't issue such an order.

That's what Paxton asked for.  That's what he didn't get.  The court did, in dicta, say counties can't send ballot applications to all and sundry, but only to those who request one, again per the statutes.  The court also said covid was not a "disability" under the statute; but the county clerks didn't have to check on what voters meant by "disability."  So whether or not covid was the reason, was a moot point.  Paxton spun that bland statement into a "win!"  It wasn't.  What I said in 2020 still holds:

(My suspicion is Paxton's office said "Hey, we won!" and reporters were stupid enough to take their word for it.  The opinion isn't even that hard to read, and surely they have access to lawyers if they stumble over "mandamus" and don't understand that's what Paxton was asking for and didn't get.  We the people really are not well served by our institutions, including the "fourth estate."  My daughter The Golden Child scion of a lawyer would understand this ruling better than that, and she might ask me what "mandamus" meant anyway.  Ignorant reporters reporting on legal decisions are the worst.) 

Let me put it in plain sentences.  Paxton sued to get a court order.  He didn't get his court order.  Lawyers call that "losing."  Paxton says he won, anyway.  Paxton is a liar spinning things to his own advantage, a la Trump.  End of story.

Except now, instead of credulous and ignorant reporters, it's people on Twitter who think Paxton is telling the truth (for once?), and has given away the game.  He's mini-Trump, however, and he's not even lying.  He's just full of empty braggadocio, which in this case is not a crime.  He didn't win that issue.  He didn't suppress any ballots in Harris County.  He didn't do anything but waste taxpayer money on a case that he took to the Supremes, who wouldn't touch it with a club.

Now please get over it.  Please.  I remember when the important thing in on-line political discussions was to be the "fact-based community."  Whatever happened to that? 

Or How To Buy A Microwave Oven

I’ve bought an entire range and oven (natural gas.  The black helicopters can pry it from my cold, dead fingers. By the way, it has excellent ventilation.) and didn’t get anything in writing. Well, except the e-mail confirmation of what I bought and what I paid. On my phone. Which is how I bought it, too.

“Get it in writing”? What does that mean? Even FoxNews doesn’t know.
And as long as we’re talking about Republicans: arbeit macht frei.  Or at least it adds value to your humanity.
And "fake news" is soon to be retired to the Museum of Forbidden Phrases.
I can’t decide which is sadder. Although I’m pretty sure Boebert is running third.

πŸ… πŸ†

The fun part here is: how would that be enforced? I mean, you could kick a few people off of committees, but pretty soon that becomes self-immolation. And what about MTG, who is praising the deal? Excommunicate her? Don’t threaten me with a good time. Still don’t understand how they thought they could enforce that.  Or how nobody could have foreseen: Which raises the question: why do all the House Republicans keep voting in lockstep? Where is this majority that is being so abused?

There’s a reason you don’t ride the tiger to the end of the line.
But you always find that out when it’s too late.

Dark Brandon Ascendant

“Look On My Works, Ye Mighty, And Despair”

This got so little attention I assumed it was only visible on Trump’s website. I didn’t realize it was part of the record of the impeachment proceedings. Paxton is not Abbot’s attorney general. It’s an elected office over which the governor has no authority.
Trump’s ignorance makes this tweet true:
But more and more that just doesn’t matter to the rest of us.

The Intertoobs Run On Fear*

Fear which, like an old steam engine, must be stoked constantly. So AI is the next horseman of the Apocalypse which will doom us all.

Since nukes and the internet and Trump didn’t do it.

I mean, how does AI make this worse?
Fewer staff writers? Increased unemployment for professional liars? More pictures of Republicans in 19th century (style) military uniforms?

*(and what is outrage but the fear that somebody, somewhere, is getting to something you can’t, or that you don’t like?)


I’d like this to be true, but: nope.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said former President Donald Trump would have lost in Texas in the 2020 election if his office had not successfully blocked counties from mailing out applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters. 
Harris County, home to the city of Houston, wanted to mail out applications for mail-in ballots to its approximately 2.4 million registered voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the conservative Texas Supreme Court blocked the county from doing so after it faced litigation from Paxton's office. 
"If we'd lost Harris County—Trump won by 620,000 votes in Texas. Harris County mail-in ballots that they wanted to send out were 2.5 million, those were all illegal and we were able to stop every one of them," Paxton told former Trump adviser Steve Bannon during the latter's War Room podcast on Friday. 
"Had we not done that, we would have been in the very same situation—we would've been on Election Day, I was watching on election night and I knew, when I saw what was happening in these other states, that that would've been Texas. We would've been in the same boat. We would've been one of those battleground states that they were counting votes in Harris County for three days and Donald Trump would've lost the election," the Republican official said.
Besides, Paxton was bragging to Steve Bannon. Reality was harsher:
Although the [Texas Supreme] court sided with Paxton's interpretation of what constitutes a disability, it indicated that it is up to voters to assess their own health and determine if they meet the state's definition. 
"We agree, of course, that a voter can take into consideration aspects of his health and his health history that are physical conditions in deciding whether, under the circumstances, to apply to vote by mail because of disability," the court ruled.
The high court also rejected Paxton’s request to prevent local election officials from sending mail-in ballots to voters who were citing lack of immunity to the coronavirus as a disability. Those officials denied they were operating outside the law and argued they cannot deny ballots to voters who cite a disability — even if their reasoning is tied to susceptibility to the coronavirus. 
When voters cite disability to request an absentee ballot, they're not required to say what the disability is. The voters simply check a box on the application form, and if their application is properly filled out, locals officials are supposed to send them a ballot. The state ultimately conceded that officials can't reject those voters.
I remember this case, and though I’m too lazy to search my archives, I remember it wasn’t a victory for Paxton. He tried to spin it into one, but the Supreme Court threw all his legal theories into the shredder. He’s not belatedly confessing a crime here. He’s bragging about something he bragged about 2 years ago. And his brag has all the substance of Trump’s brag that he built the border wall.

Sorry, but there’s no there, here.

No Filter At All

Not a dog whistle. Boy, that AI sure fooled me! So you’ll obliterate Disney, Target, and Anheuser Busch, and any other company that doesn’t agree with you 100%? And then eliminate or outlaw any person who disagrees with you? I’m sure this will include banning all the books, just to tidy up.

Sounds fair. And: outreach!
One of these people is obviously suffering from dementia. And the other one is the sitting President of the United States.

Keep Telling Yourself That

"Can’t find his pants”?

Sure, whatever.

My Sentiments Exactly

(And no, I’m not going to hunt it down. Life’s too short. I remember seeing some episodes of “The Sopranos,” and all I could think was that Scorsese did it better. So I’m sure I’m not poorer for this.) Oh, okay, that’s why I didn’t watch it. (Pretty sure that makes it no more than a drop of water in the cultural ocean.)

Monday, May 29, 2023

On This Week

I don’t understand the relevance of this at all. Oh, that’s right!

Memorial Day

“I Am A Child Of The Sixties…”

And this is the militaristic bullshit I despise on Memorial Day. I don’t care what nouns they use, or don’t use. The entire sentiment is wrong.

The day began as a day to remember dead family members lost in the Civil War. It was an informal observance in the south, of a war fought to maintain the Union and, belatedly, free the slaves. The revolutionary war was fought for our freedom, but one of the freedoms established from that was no standing army. We didn’t have one for a century or more. The Pentagon was built by FDR as a government archive, not as a permanent military headquarters. He expected the huge wartime military to disband, as it always had before.

We didn’t win our freedom in the Civil War, or any territorial or imperialist war of the 19th century; nor in any war in the 20th century.. Nobody won our freedom, or preserved it, in Korea or Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan. Especially in Vietnam and Afghanistan, a lot of people died to no purpose at all.

It’s Memorial Day. Honor the dead. They deserve that much. But leave the bullshit to others. And leave them to their own devices.

Electoral Math Is Hard

It's the electoral math that confuses me. Cruz only beat Beto by 2 points, but he beat Beto. I’m not sure Paxton would lose in ‘24, even after the House vote (if they hadn’t impeached, I mean). I don’t see any recent history to indicate otherwise.

This vote was to establish some standards for Texas government, however low they are (until he came begging the Lege to pay for his sins, they weren’t too bothered by him).

As for the math that confuses JMM, I believe Dutton voted “Present, Not Voting.” He wanted the other Dems to join him in that, denying the Republicans a majority vote.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

“…that word means what you think it means.”

What job,  pray tell, do you think he’s been doing?
Among other things, Paxton allegedly fired four employees after they reported “acts of criminal bribery, tampering with government records, harassment, obstruction of justice, and abuse of office” to the FBI. 
FBI agents executed search warrants on Paul’s home and office in August 2019, the lawsuit says. 
From there, Paul started calling in favors with Paxton. They included him asking Paxton to execute search warrants on nearly everyone involved in the chain of events that led to Paul’s own search, including: 
Per the lawsuit, Paul and Paxton enjoyed a cozy personal relationship as Paul made his demands. Paul allegedly hired Paxton’s mistress, which she then hid on her Linkedin profile. He gave Paxton a “major remodeling” of Paxton’s home in 2020 as well. 
In exchange, Paxton used his office to undertake a series of action so egregious, the lawsuit says, “that they could only have been prompted by illicit motives such as a desire to repay debts, pay hush money, or reciprocate favors extended by Paul.” 
In one instance, Paxton allegedly intervened to approve an open records request from Paul’s attorneys for records related to the FBI searches. When the records were released, Paxton allegedly “personally took the file, including all the responsive documents, which included documents sealed by a federal court, and did not return it for approximately seven to ten days.” 
In another, Paul was facing litigation from a charity that his businesses had partnered with. The charity sued Paul’s company, claiming that it was being denied access to books and records from its business partner, with a receiver eventually being appointed to oversee the companies. 
Paxton allegedly tried to use the attorney general’s office to interfere in the case, including one episode in which staff purportedly had to talk him down from appearing in person at a hearing in the matter.  
Keep in mind: these are allegations made in the lawsuit. But Texas House investigators later corroborated many of these claims after Paxton agreed to issue an apology as part of a $3.3 million settlement that lawmakers never agreed to fund. 
Other allegations involved Paxton issuing a legal opinion which used COVID-19 to justify halting foreclosure proceedings in August 2020, just as Paul had several foreclosures pending in Austin. 
But arguably the most stunning allegations — substantiated by the Committee’s investigation — show how far Paxton went in trying to block the FBI’s probe. 
“The OAG has approximately 400 open criminal cases and 2,000 open criminal investigations each year,” the lawsuit reads. “Paxton rarely showed an interest in any pending criminal investigations, but he showed an extraordinary interest in investigations sought by Nate Paul.” 
Paxton allegedly set up a meeting with the Travis County District Attorney in an effort to have a criminal investigation into the federal prosecutors and FBI agents examining Paul opened. Specifically, Paxton wanted the officials to investigate a claim by Paul that the feds had forged a search warrant after a real one had been signed off on by a federal magistrate, thereby unlawfully gaining access. 
As Attorney General officials denied that claim, Paul leaked the fact of Paxton’s investigation into his obviously false claims to the media — a winning strategy if there ever was one, but an approach which pales in comparison to what may have been the denouement of Paxton’s attempt to use his office to help his buddy out. 
In September 2020, Paxton hired an attorney named Brandon Cammack as outside counsel. With five years of experience under his belt, Cammack allegedly began to investigate those investigating Paul. 
Paxton purportedly claimed that he was “tired of his people not doing what he had asked,” before allegedly directing Cammack to act as a “special prosecutor.” 
Per the lawsuit, Paxton empowered Cammack to act as a “special prosecutor” even though he hadn’t yet signed a contract with the Office of the Attorney General. One of the alleged whistleblowers to-be refused to sign an employment contract for Cammack; Cammack then, allegedly, at Paxton’s direction, falsely claimed to be a special prosecutor “in order to obtain grand jury subpoenas under false pretenses to investigate, harass, and intimidate Nate Paul’s perceived adversaries.” 
In that mostly fake role, Cammack allegedly obtained 39 grand jury subpoenas directed at “law enforcement agents and federal prosecutors” involved in the Nate Paul investigation — much of the list that Paul initially asked Paxton to investigate. 
It’s a stunning allegation of abuse of power, and one that essentially reads like a crime spree undertaken from within and with the reins of a state law enforcement agency.
And then he asked Texas taxpayers to pay for his behavior. All good for Texas? 

We must have different dictionaries.


The problem with Covid is that more people didn’t get sick; or die. Rich people need our sympathy. And their money. Math is hard.

“Don’t Let Paxton’s Corruption…”

...distract from the fact that Paxton won re-election.
It is an attempt to overthrow an election. I look at it as an attempted coup to disenfranchise voters like me who just four months ago voted for Ken Paxton knowing all these allegations were out there,” Glass said outside the House gallery immediately after the vote.
Says a woman who ran for Governor as a Libertarian in 2014. Not necessarily a representative sampling, IOW. More people in the Capitol didn’t seem to know anything was going on:
Two women walked out of the Capitol into the sunshine, one of them expressing surprise that the building remained open after 5 p.m. on a Saturday. 
“They’re voting on something today,” the other one said, but she couldn’t remember what.
Of course, there are always political activists who think everyone thinks like them:
I’m here to watch history in the making and stand for our Attorney General Ken Paxton,” said Marcia Watson, 60, with Citizens Defending Freedom, a political nonprofit. 
Watson said none of the information revealed by the House General Investigating Committee, which has been secretly investigating Paxton since March, is new to voters and that voters reelected him despite the accusations and indictments against him.
I, for one, wasn’t aware of the charges of constitutional bribery (state, not federal, constitution). Too bad the Lege disbanded that Public Integrity Unit in Austin. They could use it about now.

And contrary to MAGA opinion, voters do not have an unalloyed choice to vote for corrupt politicians. The people have a say through their representatives, and Paxton could be barred from holding state office for life.

Me, I look forward to that.

(And for the people disappointed in the evidence presented to the “grand jury,” just wait for the trial. I really want to see Paxton’s defense.)

Saturday, May 27, 2023

You’re Gonna Face Trial, Ken

You ready for that?
Ken Paxton blasted his impeachment and suspension from office, calling the proceeding a “politically motivated sham” pushed by Democrats and those he called “Republicans in name only.” 
He is now hoping for “a quick resolution” in the Republican-dominated Texas Senate, which will hold a trial after the similarly GOP-controlled Texas House voted overwhelmingly to impeach him as attorney general. 
“I am beyond grateful to have the support of millions of Texans who recognize that what we just witnessed is illegal, unethical, and profoundly unjust,” Paxton said in a statement Saturday. “I look forward to a quick resolution in the Texas Senate, where I have full confidence the process will be fair and just.” 
The Office of the Attorney General has also released a 56-page report that it says “unequivocally refutes incorrect testimony” shared to the House investigative committee. The OAG added that the report is the work of an external law firm, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, that it had hired to further examine claims of retaliation. 
“This report, along with other clarifying and ultimately exonerating information, could have been readily available to the committee investigators had they merely asked,” the OAG says in a statement. 
The Saturday impeachment vote mandates that Paxton be temporarily suspended from his role and Gov. Greg Abbott — a former attorney general himself — can appoint a provisional person to fill the vacancy until after the Senate conducts its trial.
The report referenced must be about the whistleblower suit (not the criminal case for securities fraud or the FBI corruption investigation). Which raises a question:

If the testimony related to that case presented to the House committee (which the OAG couldn’t possibly have access to) is so easily refuted, why did Paxton come to the Lege seeking $3.3 million to settle the case?

Well, maybe he can explain that at his Senate trial.

The πŸ‘Ώ Is In The Details

Was this why? Or was it just the threat? Very optimistic headline. In the spin zone. Apparently he needs the spin. This, however, is a curious analysis: Hello? Default catastrophe? Do Dems vote to let that happen? If they save McCarthy, does he owe them? If they save him, after this what leverage does McCarthy have? The Freedom Caucus wants him out, and he can’t threaten Dems with, well, anything. How is this other than a win-win for the Democrats? Especially if Biden negotiated this and gave McCarthy nothing? Or is it?
"Biden and McCarthy held a 90-minute phone call earlier on Saturday evening to discuss the deal," Reuters reported. "The deal would avert an economically destabilizing default, so long as they succeed in passing it through the narrowly divided Congress before the Treasury Department runs short of money to cover all its obligations, which it warned Friday will occur if the debt ceiling is not raised by June 5."
“Hearing @SpeakerMcCarthy’s soon to be finalized agreement on the debt limit will clawback $400 MILLION from the CDC 'Global Health Fund' that sends money overseas to countries like China," she wrote. 
Then she added: 
"Here’s a few other countries that will no longer get access to these taxpayer dollars: Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burma, Cambodia, China, Ivory Coast, DRC, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Mail, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe." 
The congresswoman added: If 
"Also on the chopping block is nearly $1.5 BILLION from the CDC’s 'Vaccine Distribution and Monitoring Program.'"
Pretty weak tea. Then again, Biden may have struck a good deal after all. MTG always was all talk and no action. She talks loudly, but even she knows a global economic catastrophe is not good for the brand. That she takes the first sign of a deal, is telling.

Ken’s Last Day At Work

For awhile, anyway. Eh, not really. I’d have been surprised if he hadn’t been impeached. “Follow the money” is the soundest political advice there is. This day just gets better and better. In case you’re wondering, the full complement of the Texas House is 150. Which means more than 2/3rd voted for impeachment (a majority is all that was necessary). That is a signal the Senate probably won’t ignore.

Are The People Who Won’t Allow…

...you to criticize other people in the room with you?

And how are they stopping you? (Disagreement, even criticism, is not the same as preventing you from doing something.)

Ken’s In Trouble

And not getting much support, either.

(Threatening the people who will decide his tenure in office? This guy’s as dumb as Trump!)
A member of the House General Investigative Committee said Attorney General Ken Paxton called several lawmakers and threatened them with political consequences if they voted for his impeachment. 
“I would like to point out that several members of this House while on the floor of this House, doing the state business, received telephone calls from general Paxton personally, threatening them with political consequences in their next election,” state Rep. Charlie Geren said. 
Geren’s claims came as part of the opening remarks of the House’s impeachment hearings. Geren spent most of his time refuting Paxton’s claims that the impeachment is a political witch hunt and that the whistleblowers who sued him were “political” appointees. 
Geren reiterated what the committee said in its articles of impeachment: That it would not have scrutinized the issue had he not requested that the Legislature sign off on a $3.3 million lawsuit settlement to the former employees. 
“We are here today because the attorney general asked the state Legislature to fund a multimillion-dollar settlement,” Geren said. “There was no investigation prior to this time. We wanted to look further into the reasons behind that.” 
Geren then argued that the lawsuit settlement was an attempt by Paxton to conceal potential wrongdoing. 
“This settlement served to stave off a trial, including a discovery process that could have brought new info to light,” he said.
Ken’s  “defense”  is that voters knew all this in 2020. Whenever someone says all the information is already available, it usually means they want to keep any further information from getting out.

It’s what I call the ‘hang them out and judge them later’ policy,” said state Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, who under House rules was allotted 30 minutes to respond to the committee’s report. 
Smithee said that he was not making a statement on Paxton’s guilt but rather was condemning the process. 
“What you have in this case is triple hearsay. … It is hearsay, within hearsay, within hearsay,” he said. 
After Smithee closed his speech, applause broke out from some in the gallery overlooking the House floor. 
Another lawmaker, state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, compared Paxton to former President Donald Trump, who Tinderholt said was subject to one of “the most egregious impeachments in the history of the United States.” 
Tinderholt also cited recent statements in which Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz separately condemned the investigation and said they support Paxton.
Yeah, comparing Paxton to Trump is not really helpful. And attacking the process is not really a defense. (And hearsay only matters in a court of law where rules of evidence apply. And what you think is hearsay, ain’t necessarily so.)

Trump and Cruz didn’t offer defenses, either. Although Trump is probably going to call Paxton’s phone calls “perfect.”

Dear Rep. Biggs:

Fire your staff. They’re useless. Or you are; but I’m pretty sure we can’t get you to resign.

Dear Elmo:
  Fire everybody. You’re obviously not using them anyway, and you’re delaying the inevitable. Go ahead and set that $44 billion on fire and get it over with.

We can all see you want to.

Legal Briefs

The committee stressed that Paxton’s request earlier this year for the Legislature to pay $3.3 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit led to its investigation and ultimately the articles of impeachment. The memo also said impeachment is not a criminal process and its primary purpose is to “protect the state, not to punish the offender.” The memo also addressed arguments by lawyers with the attorney general’s office who called the committee investigation illegal because impeachment proceedings could not be initiated against Paxton for crimes alleged to have occurred before his last election in 2022. 
The memo said the so-called “forgiveness doctrine” did not apply in Paxton’s case. The committee cited the most famous impeachment case in Texas history to support its argument, noting that in 1917, Gov. James Ferguson was impeached on four articles that related to his conduct before and during the 1916 election. The Senate convicted Ferguson on those counts.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Ball’s In Your Court, Ken

Oh, no, that’s not the fun part.
Appearing on the far-right television network Newsmax, Paxton told U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, that "liberal Republicans" were working with Democrats to remove him from office for pushing a conservative agenda. Gaetz asked Paxton if he was confident that he had enough votes in the House to block an impeachment. Paxton said no.
"Liberal Republicans”? In Texas? Name 3. Please; I’m begging you.
“The corrupt politicians in the Texas House are demonstrating that blind loyalty to Speaker Dade Phelan is more important than upholding their oath of office,” Paxton said in a calm tone as he read from prepared remarks. “They are determined to ignore the law. They have denied me the opportunity to present the evidence which contradicts their politically motivated narrative.”
Yeah, that’s what the trial in the Senate is for. But you settled the case by the whistleblowers, and will have to put on your defense against the securities fraud charges. Which criminal case is still pending. You’ll also have to present a defense on the civil charges, which case probably isn’t going to settle now. I think there are some new, interesting criminal charges in the 20 counts, too. I’m anxious to see your defense to those.

Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, huh, Ken? Well, you asked for it. This is unprecedented, you say. That just assures it gets a lot of attention. Good luck with that.


We have very different definitions of “hard work,”  Or “journalism,” for that matter. Now, eating chicken tenders 3x a week, THAT’S good old American labor!

“My Emotional Support Beer” 🍺

And in Colorado: The funny part is, you could change “Russian” to “authoritarian” and the critics of Boebert would nod at the sagacity.

Careful what you wish for.*

*I don’t disagree with Biden, but can we make our points without vague and glittering generalities that sound pretty much the same whoever uses them?

Dear Ken:

Wish in one hand, shit in the other; see which fills up faster. Money doesn’t talk, Ken. It shouts. Digging into the taxpayers ribs for $3.3 million SCREAMS!

And frankly, Ken, the only defense your supporters can come up with is that you’re conservative, and the committee is controlled by Democrats? This is Texas, Ken. Nobody is buying that. And 20 counts against you, the best you’ve got is: “rigged”? Why not go with “deep state”?
Good luck on Saturday. I think you’re gonna feel even more alone. (And by the way, Ken; support from Don, Jr. is not support in the Senate, where you really need it.)

(Paxton has played mini-Trump in Texas as much as he can. Now we’ll see if it pays off. My guess is: no.)

The Telling Part

The telling part is, just days ago Trump’s lawyers repeated their defense that Trump didn’t know what was in the boxes, that they were packed by staff, so he was ignorant and innocent πŸ˜‡.

And yet here is the former Judge in the case pointing out the evidence shows Trump had documents in his bedroom. So he was unaware? For how long?

Yeah, Trump is not being well served by his counsel.

Nor does he have a snowball’s chance in hell.

The Paxton Impeachment Ain’t About Dade Phelan

"Here are the 20 articles of impeachment filed against Ken Paxton.”

The tl:dr is that eight charges are directly related to Paxton using his office to help his friend and political donor Nate Paul. 

Three are based on his firing of whistleblowers about his relationship with Nate Paul, which led to the civil suit Paxton settled that brought him to the House asking for $3 million.

Three more are based on his securities fraud charges.

The rest allege conspiracy and other general charges of abuse of office, mostly around the specific charges if bribery and obstruction of justice. Some of the above include charges of constitutional bribery.

A simple majority in the House can impeach, but 2/3rds of the Senate must vote to remove him from office. Paxton’s wife is a state senator. Expect the rules the Senate adopts for the trial to force her to recuse. Unless, of course, the Senate wants to make this worse.

Upon impeachment Paxton will be suspended from office pending outcome of the Senate trial.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Whole Lotta Nothin’ Goin’ On!

Keep in mind press reports are an incomplete record of the information the special counsel has. More so because non-lawyers don’t understand what’s important and what isn’t ( they misunderstand “intent” and think “motive” matters thanks to a century of murder mystery fiction). So what’s revealed here doesn’t mean the investigation is “heating up” or that we know what the charges will be. There are always things that are only revealed in court. If someone says “key evidence” is missing, for example, they’re a fool. The prosecution is never going to reveal all it knows, until trial. What isn’t revealed can only be guessed at.

Then again, this report is based on a judge’s memorandum. 
Lot of Twitter speculation on whether or not the Espionage Act would be used. This is pretty clear evidence that: yes, it will be. It doesn’t prove Trump is guilty; but it does indicate the grand jury is very likely to return some very serious indictments.

And yes, Trump will go to jail insisting he did nothing wrong. He’ll find a lot of people there insisting they didn’t, either.

Money And Scandal

Details here: So I’ll take that as read and move on to answering emptywheel’s question. And the answer is simple: money and scandal. (And it has nothing to do with the Speaker. That was started by Paxton after he got wind of the investigation. Too late to do anything about it.)

Paxton did a lot of untoward favors for a rich Austin developer (as in using his agency to investigate claims of a conspiracy against said developer, by said developer. Maybe a criminal matter, but the Texas AG has no criminal prosecution authority) back in the day. That led to charges of corruption by several AG employees who either quit or were fired (yes, I’m restating things, but I need to), a civil suit, and a settlement of $3 million and change.

Paxton went to the Lege this session to get the payment authorized. Now he’s asking for money to pay off whistleblowers (who, by state law, should be paid by the state) for exposing his corrupt dealings.

Scandal. And money. (There are other scandals for Paxton that this brings attention to. But that just makes this precipitating scandal worse.)

Texas voters don’t pay attention to much. But they pay attention to money and scandal. Especially state money and state scandal. The House committee started this investigation when Paxton came to them asking for the money. They did it in secret so Paxton couldn’t intimidate witnesses or make back room deals. They knew they couldn’t justify the payment, so they had to investigate Paxton. (And to repeat, that’s why it’s not connected to Phelan. That’s Paxton’s misdirection, nothing more.)

Money; and scandal. Real easy to understand. Real hard to defend Paxton this time.

Not that the Lege ever had to before. Paxton holds his official by election, not by appointment. His scandals were his own. They never reached the Lege until he asked for money.

And that forced them to pay attention. And refuse responsibility for his abuses of office; which are now grounds for his impeachment and removal from office. 

All it takes is a majority in each house; and they can stay in session past Monday (sine die for the regular session) for as long as necessary to take care of it. Or they can come back later, on their own initiative.

My money is on Paxton being out of office before August. Maybe before July.

Certainly before September. I don’t think either house wants to sleep on this.

Why Won’t Democrats Negotiate?

But why are the Democrats not negotiating? And their candidates for party leader are running against the past, but promising to bring it back to the future. Well, and fan service: "Culture war" is literally all they’ve got.

“We Don’ Need No Steenken’ License!

As an ordained minister with no license to practice therapy in any form, I am qualified to say this is an unmitigated disaster of an idea.

I don’t have to accept the legitimacy of the philosophy or theory of psychology/psychiatry to recognize people trained and licensed in the field are better equipped, in general, to deal with counseling and therapy than anyone labeling themselves as “pastor.” To say that title is not regulated is an understatement.

Literally anyone can claim a congregation, a church, or just to be a “preacher.” None of that qualifies you to engage in counseling. I know, for example, that in the Baptist tradition, you can be ordained just because a congregation decides to. You need no more qualification than that. Which doesn’t exactly mean you know anything about even “pastoral care.”

I put the words in quotes because it’s what I was taught in seminary; and my professors made it clear what we learned there was just enough to make us dangerous. We were told to move any serious matter to someone qualified; someone with a license, in other words. Our pastoral care was meant to comfort the afflicted; the mourning, the worried, the about to marry or die. In my first church, when I was still in seminary, I had a parishioner whom I was told had multiple personalities. (I never spoke to the therapist or got an official diagnosis.) One night I got a call from this person, who was in great distress. It wasn’t like the movies, where the personalities are dramatically distinctive. But it was clear I was talking to a person in extremis. All I could do, and kept telling myself through the conversation, was not screw it up, not make the situation worse. That’s all the qualifications I had then, or have now, almost 30 years later.

And I’m an ordained minister with a seminary degree. I’ve dealt with death, and the dying and the mourning, the anxious and the angry and the despairing. But I don’t consider myself fit even to be a counselor to, especially, children.

What about the volunteers telling school boards they are pastors just because they think God has said do? They may be sincere and godly people, but qualified as counselors? No; not at all.

I fear there is a school board in Texas that would allow such people on campus, especially in small towns where challenges to these volunteers on 1st Amendment grounds are the least likely. Then again, those schools probably aren’t hiring the highest caliber of school counselors to begin with. So this would just be insult on injury.

I can imagine the most notorious MAGA school boards almost advertising for volunteers as soon as the law allows, and lots of small or rural boards quietly approving such volunteers (if they don’t use them already, simply by not refusing their offers of help in the face of yet another school tragedy). Some of the counseling may be well-meaning, and some of it may be disastrous. The question is, why do we need to make things worse? Isn’t the purpose of the state to prevent that as much as it can?

More Of Rob Ron!

"What's a "lb."? How you pronounce it?"--Churchy LaFemme Statistics vary: 500,000; 200,000. Why not go for a million? Sure.  Anyway, a lot of people. Or, in context of a national election: not. In which case, make up new numbers. Well, I suppose. JMM's thesis (and it's a good one) is that Desaster's presentation was entirely to internet incels and bubble-dwellers who understand terms like "woke mob." So the implosion on Twitter, he argues, is not the real story. But, would you buy a used car from this guy?

And If The Courts Won't Give Him The Document....

...he'll defund the courts, too!

(You'll note the Committee is not going to court to enforce its subpoena.  Part of the reason why is that Congress doesn't have a separate law firm to go to court on behalf of a Committee.  I believe the general practice is to ask the DOJ to represent Congress in such matters.  But considering the FBI is refusing the document on the grounds it interferes with law enforcement investigations, I don't see the DOJ taking the opposite view on behalf of Gym Jordan.  Now, yes, a private law firm can take whatever position a client needs to uphold in court, but the DOJ IS part of federal law enforcement.  AWKWARD!

So Gym Jordan can't shit, and he can't go blind.  He's stuck "demanding," but with no way to enforce his demands, except to "defund" the FBI.  Which is a non-starter of the first water.

I mention this because it reinforces the point about Biden using the 14th Amendment and that issue being tied up in litigation. But by whom?  Individual Congresscritters?  Would they have standing, much less the willingness to spend that kind of legal coin?  By Congress?  How?  Asking the DOJ, part of the Administration, to represent an interest contrary to that of the Administration (not the President personally, but the office thereof)?  DOJ could politely decline, and point out the suspension of Biden's move would cut off their funding until Congress raises the deb ceiling, so they can't afford to take the case (their lawyers are all on unpaid leave!).  Congress hires a law firm?  Again, how do they authorize those payments through the Treasury without raising the debt ceiling?

It sounds too simple, even to me.  But everyone says there will be "litigation," as if this were a superhero movie where everybody wears tights and nobody ever has to go to the bathroom.  I mean, in reality, litigation involves lawyers (Congress can't represent itself in court) and parties (who has standing to sue on this issue?).  I'm stuck wondering where the first come from, and who can show standing for the second?  Seems to me you have to do that just to get an injunction, even a TRO, to stop Biden from using the 14th.  I don't see any of this being automatic if Biden makes his decision.  Who tells the Treasury: "No, you can't do that, I don't care what the POTUS says?"  Because that's what would have to happen.  I mean, unless Janet Yellen just goes rogue and refuses a Presidential directive.  And then that's a whole different kettle of litigious fish.)

Meanwhile: No wonder Gym is screaming about an FBI document he can't have.  He knows what kinds of questions Democrats would ask Durham.