Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Worth Emphasizing

First, set the table:
I guess the Republican Party is just going to pretend that their nominee isn’t actually going to trial in March on easily-proven federal felonies and is just hoping that trial won’t turn out like every other court case Donald Trump has ever been involved in.
Then the meal:
In a 35-page decision, Judge Engoron also excoriated Trump and his lawyers for making nonsense arguments, so badly misquoting legal cases that they turned the law upside down, and other legal misconduct. 
Five Trump lawyers were each fined $7,500 for making “frivolous” arguments. 
A judge calling a lawyer’s argument “frivolous” is the equivalent of saying it is no better than nonsense from a drunk in a bar, as I teach my Syracuse University College of Law students. 
Trump's lawyers suck. The briefs presented to Chutkan are a joke. They presented no viable defense in the fraud case (summary judgment is VERY hard to win. If you can’t derail it, you really have no defense. You should always have a summary judgement defense.). He presented no defense to E. Jean Carroll, and is again facing a damages-only trial against her, having lost a partial summary judgment in that case, too.

To say his future includes jail time is almost not a prediction now, and more a statement of fact. Snowballs in hell have a better chance than Trump in court, going forward.

The Three Kinds Of Appraisals

According to my bankruptcy professor, a sitting bankruptcy judge at the time during the great Texas real estate collapse of the’80’s, there were three kinds of real estate appraisals:

 1) windshield;

 2) wild-ass; and 

3) “Hell if I know, but it looks good on paper!”

 To which we now add a third: the Ted Cruz.

I’ve been to Mar-a-Lago many times. It is a spectacular property. 
The idea that it is worth only $18 million—give Palm Beach astronomical real estate prices—is utterly idiotic. 
Only one problem there, Rafael:
It's not the judge's valuation. It's the Palm Beach County assessor's. And while $27 million is obviously an undervaluation, Mar-A-Lago can't be developed or turned into a single-family estate. Its deed requires it to remain a club, which radically reduces its re-sale value.
You’re a Harvard trained lawyer and former Solicitor-General of Texas. You do know how to read 35 page court order, right?

Nice Work If You Can Get It

"There is also an IRONCLAD DISCLAIMER CLAUSE!"
The court ruling against you is pretty much ironclad proof it wasn’t.

⚰️πŸͺ¦

 Stick a fork in ‘im, he’s done.

A New York State judge on Tuesday cancelled all of the business licenses for the Trump Organization and its 500 or so subsidiary companies and partnerships after finding that Trump used them to, along with his older two sons, commit fraud. 
Under the New York General Business Law you can only do business in your own name as a sole proprietor or with a business license, which the state calls a “business certificate.” All of Trump’s businesses were corporations or partnerships that require business certificates.
And now I know why the judge fined the lawyers:
In a 35-page decision, Judge Engoron also excoriated Trump and his lawyers for making nonsense arguments, so badly misquoting legal cases that they turned the law upside down, and other legal misconduct. 
Five Trump lawyers were each fined $7,500 for making “frivolous” arguments. 
A judge calling a lawyer’s argument “frivolous” is the equivalent of saying it is no better than nonsense from a drunk in a bar, as I teach my Syracuse University College of Law students. 
Those lawyers may well find it wise to hire their own lawyers as Judge Engoron’s findings could form the basis of disbarment proceedings, something already underway against Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, the former federal prosecutor, and John Eastman, a former dean of the Chapman University School of Law in Orange, Calif.
ETTD. Everything. Basically, Trump has been forced into Chapter 7:
Barring a highly unlikely reversal by an appeals court, Trump’s business assets eventually will be liquidated since he cannot operate them without a business license. Retired Judge Barbara Jones was appointed to monitor the assets, an arrangement not unlike the court-supervised liquidation of a bankrupt company or the assets of a drug lord. 
Creditors, any fines due the state because of the fraud, and taxes will be paid first from sales of Trump properties. 
The various properties are likely to be sold at fire sale prices and certainly not for top dollar when liquidation begins, probably after all appeals are exhausted.
🎢 Turn out the lights, the party’s over…🎢

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Well, That Explains It

I’d wondered how Trump was liable for fraud without reliance by the entities he defrauded. Common law fraud requires both fraudulent intent and reliance on the misrepresentations to someone’s detriment. But Trump was charged under a New York statute, not common law:

The reason for that is the statute that was invoked," Conway continued. "It's called the Martin Act, which was enacted 102 years ago. And it is extremely powerful, a weapon the state can use against fraudsters. It's powerful for a number of reasons. One is, it doesn't require proof of fraudulent intent by the business or its CEO or any of its officers." 
Conway explained it also doesn't require proof that Trump's fake numbers "are actually relied on by anyone. It's enough that the numbers kept on the books, whether the company be publicly traded or a private corporation like trump corporation — it's enough that the numbers are false." 
Despite complaints by Eric Trump, there was no dispute that the numbers were fake.  
"Trump's defense, which isn't a defense under the Martin Act, was, well, nobody was going to rely on it, we basically said nobody should rely on it, essentially, everyone knows I'm lying because I'm a liar," Conway said. "Not far from the truth. The other aspect of the Martin Act and that's the most important piece of what happened today, is that it provides for extraordinary remedies even in the civil context. And those remedies include, basically, the stripping of the ability to do business in the State of New York and ordering the dissolution of a business doing business in New York. And that's what the judge did today." 
Ultimately, it's still up to a jury to decide exactly what Trump owes in damages — but irrespective of that, said Conway, "the Trump Organization is out of business. And that's not good for Donald Trump."

Trump would be right in his defense if reliance were an element under the statute; but it isn’t. His lawyers should have explained this to him. Maybe they did, and he paid no attention. 

It doesn’t matter now.

Donald Trump is no longer in business in New York State. A judge canceled all of his business certificates and appointed a judge to monitor the assets. 
Barring an unlikely reversal by an appeal court, the assets will be sold and Trump, Don Jr., & Eric are barred from business.

Well now I know what happens to the jet. I wonder who owns MAL?

And who cares?
Hey @PhilipRucker ? Will you be assiging 6 journalists to write about how a judge found Trump and TWO SONS engaged in a decade of fraud, like you assigned 6 journalists, several conflicted, to report that Biden's son unlawfully owned a gun for 11 days 5 years ago?
It’s a fair question.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before


Add a few gratuitous references to case law, and this could be a pleading in one of Trump’s cases. Once again, Trump running for President is supposed to be a kind of “King’s’X’” that exempts him from all liability, criminal or civil.

Yeah, it doesn’t work that way.

And the funny thing about that MAL appraisal he and Eric are on about (committing still the fraud they were just convicted for): Trump’s “evidence” for this valuation was in his deposition, where he said he just “felt” it was the right number. That’s a failure to present evidence; the kind of thing summary judgments end up getting decided on. Why Trump’s lawyers let that happen is another question entirely.

“If they do this to me, they can do this to YOU!” Yes, if you commit fraud for decades and base your income on doing so, you can be convicted of fraud, too.

This is a child throwing a tantrum, not an adult facing what just happened to his business. It’s insipid, stupid, and fails to grasp reality. What it doesn’t present is any kind of response to the judgment.

My Civil Rights have been violated, and some Appellate Court, whether Federal or State, must reverse this horrible, un-American decision.

Yeah, I’m sure some Appellate Court will read this post and swoop in and save Trump’s bacon. That’s how it works, isn’t it? 

This is a man who doesn’t know whether to shit, or go blind.

This entire scream just presents more evidence this man is not fit to be POTUS. That he’s not fit to do business in New York State alone is reason enough to reach that conclusion.

Lies And Consequences

As I was saying about growing up to be Trump’s lawyers:

Engoron also ordered sanctions for Trump's attorneys. Each will have to pay $7,500.
No idea why they were sanctioned, but judges don’t sanction lawyers willy-nilly.

Judge Arthur Engoron in Donald Trump's NY civil case found Trump liable for fraud Tuesday and ordered the cancellation of all business certificates of all entities controlled or owned by Trump or his family in NY. 
The ruling found that the disgraced ex-president and his company deceived banks and insurers by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing. 
It is the harshest repudiation yet of the perceived image of Trump as a shrewd billionaire business mogul and paints a picture of a career criminal who made money by scamming his financiers. Trump lied about the value of his assets for years to secure favorable loan terms and defraud insurers.
This is where I remind you that Trump gave a 7 hour deposition in this case, which the court considered and found not credible as a matter of law. Trump’s defense was that his financial statements all included a “worthless” clause:
This clause is basically a disclaimer at the beginning of the statements that any entity who receives them should conduct their own assessment of the value of his properties and he was not responsible if the valuations provided by him were incorrect. Essentially, it is his position that this clause gives him immunity from being held liable for any misrepresentations since that disclaimer renders all the numbers in the statement "worthless."

That’s like Trump’s claim the PRA protects him from criminal prosecution in Florida. Or those signs people put up saying “Not Responsible For Damages.” Yes, under the right circumstances, they are. So is Trump. His “worthless” clause, was.

Here is a quote from the order that hammers this point home:

The defenses Donald Trump attempts to articulate in his sworn deposition are wholly without basis in law or fact. He claims that if the values of the property have gone up in the years since the SFCs were submitted, then the numbers were not inflated at that time (i.e.; "But you take the 2014 statement, if something is much more valuable now - or, I guess, we'll have to pick a date which was a little short of now. But if something is much more valuable now, then the number that 1 have down here is a low number. NYSCEF Doc. No. 1363 at 69-75). He also seems to imply that the numbers cannot be inflated because be could “find a buyer from Saudi Arabia” to pay any price he suggests.
That gives you a good idea why this happened:
In addition to finding that Trump committed fraud, the judge canceled the certificates of various Trump businesses, appointed a former judge as an independent monitor of the Trump Organization, and will appoint receivers to manage the canceled LLCs.
I’m guessing the jet is a company asset. I know what would happen in bankruptcy, but what does Trump hold onto of company assets if the companies are shuttered?

I’d like to think even credulous Beltway journalists understand this is fraud of the first water. And that maybe the guy who thinks it’s just fine is not just another Presidential candidate.
Curious where those journos who reported that it was BREAKING news that the son of a Presidential candidate unlawfully owned a gun for 11 days 5 years ago are on the news that the corporate person of a Presidential candiate engaged in longterm fraud?
Yeah; I’m not holding my breath.

This is the 3rd time in a month that we've seen at least a partial summary judgment in a key Trumpworld case.

 First it was Giuliani's defamation case.  

Then it was Trump in second E. Jean Carroll case.  
Now, Trump's NY fraud case.

Word comes that Trump’s lawyer has hired a lawyer. No, not that; to help him represent Trump. An SDNY alum. Given what Trump demands of his lawyers, it says something that this one is working on Trump’s cases, but not for Trump.

Trump has four criminal trials in his future. There is no reason to believe that future is any brighter than the recent past. The question now is: the political press has ignored a judge’s ruling that Trump is a rapist. Will they also ignore that his business career is one long case of fraud?

Besides, I understand Joe Biden is still old.

The leading Republican candidate has been found liable for sexual assault and fraud, his companies found guilty of fraud, and he's charged with 91 OTHER felony counts. That he is not dismissed politically out of hand says much more about us, than about him.

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Trump's Lawyers....

This is far worse than I ever would have imagined:

For hundreds of years, our country has embraced the core value that the “government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content,” Case 1:23-cr-00257-TSC Document 60 Filed 09/25/23 In re Murphy-Brown, LLC, 907 F.3d 788, 796–97 (4th Cir. 2018) (quoting Ashcroft v. ACLU, 535 U.S. 564, 573 (2002) (internal quotation marks omitted)). This freedom from government censorship is fundamental to our national ethos and “it can hardly be doubted that the constitutional guarantee has its fullest and most urgent application precisely to the conduct of campaigns for political office.” Monitor Patriot Co. v. Roy, 401 U.S. 265, 272 (1971).

Tossing these foundational principles aside, the Biden Administration charged President Trump—the leading contender in the 2024 Presidential Election—for statements he made as president. Now, keenly aware that it is losing that race for 2024, the prosecution seeks to unconstitutionally silence President Trump’s (but not President Biden’s) political speech on pain of contempt. See Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’ n, 558 U.S. 310, 349 (2010) (“If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”).

The correct terminology is "former President Trump." We only have one president at a time.  I do like the "keenly aware" stuff; but it's bullshit as a legal issue (i.e., assuming facts not in evidence, and all that).  And the motion by DOJ is aimed at maintaining the fairness and authority of the court and the criminal process.  Note how quickly they conflate whatever Trump says with "political speech."  I'm only surprised they didn't lead off with "ELECTION INTERFERENCE!" 

This is the heart of their argument:

In support, the prosecution presents nothing but pretexts, claiming that the Court must muzzle President Trump to ensure that: (1) the prosecution, the Court, and witnesses are not “intimidated” by political criticism; and (2) the District of Columbia citizenry (who voted by a margin of around 95% for Biden in the 2020 election) do not magically transform and become biased in President Trump’s favor.

To say it's utter bullshit is still to give it too much regard.  You can be forgiven for forgetting Trump is out on bail (he could be in jail, where his pronouncements would be controlled by the Bureau of Prisons).  You can also be forgiven for wondering how "witness intimidation" is actually protected "political speech."  This is a shell game, in other words; but one with no pea, and no shells.  "No damned cat, and no damned cradle!"

That's not a winning argument.  This isn't even "throw it against the wall and see what sticks!"  This is a Trump-quality rant presented as a legal pleading.  I can't wait to see how they appeal this to the D.C. circuit.  Oh, no, it doesn't get any better:

At bottom, the Proposed Gag Order is nothing more than an obvious attempt by the Biden Administration to unlawfully silence its most prominent political opponent, who has now taken a commanding lead in the polls. Indeed, this very Motion came on the heels of adverse polling for President Biden. His administration’s plan is quite simple: unleash a 45-page speaking indictment, discuss and leak its talking points in the press, and then cynically attempt to invoke the Court’s authority to prevent President Trump and those acting on his behalf from presenting his side of the story to the American people during a political campaign. This desperate effort at censorship is unconstitutional on its face. NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415, 445 (1963) (the First Amendment is a value-free provision whose protection is not dependent on “the truth, popularity, or social utility of the ideas and beliefs which are offered”).

If you're wondering what NAACP v Button has to do with that paragraph, I can only tell you:  so am I.  To say none of that amounts to a legal argument should, I would hope, be obvious to anyone except a die-hard MAGAt.  It's not the the motion is completely daft:

As the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized, “speech critical of the exercise of the State’s power lies at the very center of the First Amendment.” Gentile, 501 U.S. at 1034; New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 273 (1964) (“Criticism of their official conduct does not lose its constitutional protection merely because it is effective criticism and hence diminishes their official reputations.”). This includes criticism of the Court and the Special Counsel.

It's that the attempt at an argument consistently misses the point, and hopes the judge will be beguiled to do so, as well. Criticism of the Special Counsel is not witness intimidation, and criticism of the judge and the proceedings is language not protected by the First Amendment. Indeed, the argument here is simply "ELECTION INTERFERENCE!", in which a political campaign is akin to McCarthy's idea of super-investigative powers bestowed by a claim that a House investigation is an "impeachment inquiry."

The prosecution would silence President Trump, amid a political campaign where his right to criticize the government is at its zenith, all to avoid a public rebuke of this prosecution. However, “above all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.” Police Dep’t of City of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92, 95 (1972).

The prosecution may not like President’s Trump’s entirely valid criticisms, but neither it nor this Court are the filter for what the public may hear. 

Trump wants to make this about his "entirely valid criticisms," but that isn't the issue.  He desperately wants it to be, though, because without that, HE HAS NO VALID DEFENSE TO THIS MOTION!

Again:  it doesn't work that way.  Even Aileen Cannon would know better.

This is a literal statement in this motion:

If the prosecution wishes to avoid criticism for abusing its power, the solution is simple: stop abusing its power. The Constitution allows no alternative.

And then the response goes on continuing to complain that DOJ has presented no evidence in support of its motion. 

Try to follow this reasoning, for example:

Quite the opposite, the prosecution’s cited posts [in context, that would be the Truth Social posts cited in the DOJ motion] show that President Trump intends to redress the unfairness of this proceeding through legitimate means. This includes, for example, filing motions with the Court—a form of relief that President Trump has every right to pursue and talk about. 

Trump has every right to pursue motion practice in court.  He doesn't have every right to talk about it outside the court.  And posting on social media is not a prerequisite, or even an adjunctive practice, to seeking redress in court "through legitimate means."  But the argument here is that, for Trump, a presidential candidate, it is.  Who knew declaring your candidacy for POTUS gave you extra-constitutional powers?

It goes on and one like that for 25 pages, over and over again asserting that DOJ is doing the political bidding of Joe Biden, Candidate, and Trump is a victim of the Deep State.  Well, that part is implicit rather than explicit, but it's not hard to find.  The sad thing is to compare this quality of legal representation with that being given Hunter Biden, where his very able defense counsel is tying the Special Prosecutor in knots, and ably suing people like Giuliani for slander and invasion of privacy.  It's worth paying attention to what Hunter's lawyers are doing because, by contrast, Trump's lawyers are from Clown College. 

Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy.  I'm looking forward to the DOJ response.

Insatiable Curtiosity

At this point I'm just wondering how much of this was given to the J6 committee in interviews before her (briefer) public testimony?

On New Year's Eve, Hutchinson was told by her boss, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, to start putting together a plan. She ignored it, hoping it was a fleeting idea. He asked again the following day.

"I called Kevin [McCarthy]. 'Hey, I know that you’ve never personally brought a presidential package up to the Capitol for the State of the Union. But we’ve used your leadership office as a holding area for the staff. If we were to make a movement from the rally at the Ellipse to the Capitol on January 6th, do you think it would be a viable option to use the same plan? I’m just trying to gauge what your thinking is about this.'"

McCarthy freaked.

“You guys aren’t coming to the Capitol, right?” he asked Hutchinson. “There’s no way he wants to do that. Why would he want to come up to the Capitol?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Mark just asked me to figure out if there was a plan that we could potentially put in place. Kevin, I assure you this move can’t happen as of now. There are going to be way too many people. It’s not safe to bring him up.”

“So why even ask about it?” McCarthy said. Hutchinson wrote he was "losing patience" over the conversation. “I’m asking you to cover my back so I can tell Mark and the president that I made a call to Capitol Hill about it, and there are people on the Hill who are aware of a potential movement.”

“Yeah, okay, no. You guys aren’t coming here," McCarthy said.

“I know! I just have to ask," she told him. 

Not that I question her veracity; I just wonder how much of this was available public knowledge, v. what's coming out now.  Knowing the media (which is still reporting on the DOJ "gag order" motion as if it weren't filed 10 days before it was partially unsealed at the motion of the DOJ), I wouldn't be surprised if some of this could have been publicized months earlier.

It would also lend credence to her recollections to know they'd already been given freely, under oath.

It's Only Racism When It Favors Non-White People

Mo Brooks takes to Xitter:

GOP blames activist federal judges for injecting racism into Congressional redistricting, THUS

handing Congress to #Socialist #Democrats GOP: PLACE BLAME FOR BAD JUDGES WHERE IT BELONGS: #DonaldTrump #RichardShelby &

ShelbyCOS #KatieBritt, who appt them! 

Gee, I wonder what triggered him?

In yet another blow to Alabama Republicans, the Supreme Court has declined to reinstate a congressional map ruled a racial gerrymander by lower courts, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The order is the second time this year that the generally conservative-favoring court has blocked congressional lines found to discriminate against Black voters in the state, who for years have only been given a single majority district out of seven, despite making up a quarter of Alabama's population.

A lawsuit heard by the Supreme Court in the previous term, Allen v. Milligan, found that this arrangement was illegal under the Voting Rights Act, and that Black voters had a right to a number of districts more representative with their share of the population — a decision that surprised many legal observers, who had expected the justices to rule for Alabama.

...

The consequence of the ruling was that Alabama was required to draw a new map that contained two majority-Black districts. However, the legislature openly defied this order, drawing a new map that, just like the old one, only had a single majority-Black district.

A three-judge panel overseeing the redistricting, including two judges appointed by former President Donald Trump, rejected this remedial map as not compliant, paving the way for a court-appointed special master to select a map instead. Alabama responded by appealing, unsuccessfully, to the Supreme Court to reinstate the map they had drawn. 

Everybody knows black people don't vote right!  Damned outside agee-taters!

"Are There No Workhouses?"

Freeze 'em in the dark!

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is reportedly embracing drastic measures to avoid a government shutdown, including a massive 70 percent cut to a program that provides assistance to lower income families who have trouble affording heat during the winter.

The Washington Post reports that McCarthy has decided to push through a number of cuts demanded by far-right members of his caucus with the hopes of getting enough votes to avoid a shutdown of the House over a spending bill – despite the fact that the proposed cuts would likely be doomed in the United States Senate.

In addition to the aforementioned cuts to home heating, the Post reports that the plan being put forth by Republicans also calls "for a roughly 80 percent cut to funding for schools that serve high concentrations of students in poverty," and would also "cut by at least half a fruit and vegetable benefit for poor pregnant mothers, which serves roughly 5 million people." There would also be "multibillion cuts to the National Institutes of Health, Head Start, and preschool grants."

If that doesn't work, starve 'em!  Either way, fuck 'em!  Poor people ain't worth shit!

And because she's in the news: a reminder that Cassidy Hutchinson is 26 years old, and has more poise and maturity than any member of Congress or public figure currently berating her.  You may disagree with her politics or her public statements, but I would be proud to have her as a daughter (and I like to think, with justification, my 32 year old daughter would show as much poise and steel were she similarly situated).

This afternoon [the day of her testimony before the House J6 committee] a 26-year-old former assistant showed more courage and integrity than an entire administration full of grown-ass adults who were purportedly working in service to the American people, but had long ago decided to serve only their ambition and grievance.

Cassidy Hutchinson did so at risk to her safety. Her social circle. Her career.

And she overcame all of the self-serving rationalizations that prevented the powerful, whose manhoods she held in her palm, from stepping to the plate.

She shames every Republican who still thinks they have to kiss Trump's ring finger. 

FAFO: Federal Courts Edition

 Especially when it comes to rules of procedure, Federal courts don't play:

Meadows's Georgia legal team gets a reprimand from 11th Circuit Court of Appeals -- with threat of automatic dismissal -- if they don't start filing properly.

Just how many completely up-fucked lawyers are out there? 

Not So Past

So…

A) Ken Paxton initiated settlement discussions in the civil suit by former Texas AG employees that lead to his impeachment (this fact is actually a bone of contention now).

B) Pursuant to those discussions the case was abated by the Texas Supreme Court.

C) Since the settlement is dead, because the House can’t take up the issue of funding it until the next regular session in 2025, if at all, the plaintiffs want the case to go forward.

D) That kind of delay, by the way, is fine with Paxton:

A spokesperson for Paxton’s office did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Earlier this year, Paxton’s office argued against making the lawsuit active again since a settlement was on the table, telling the court that approval of the settlement could take more than one legislative session.

E)  Paxton is taking that line because returning the suit to active status:

...would allow [the plaintiffs] to do what the House impeachment managers could not — including examining financial documents and putting Paxton, Paul, Paxton’s girlfriend Laura Olson and Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton under oath.
Will the Supreme Court go along with Paxton’s argument? It seems pretty clear the House response of impeachment rather than funding is “not only’No,’ but ‘HELL NO!’” And while legislatures do change after every election, I don’t know of a legal doctrine that says you get another bite at the apple (or several more) on that basis. Legislative acts are presumptively binding on subsequent legislatures. It would be an extreme injustice to tell plaintiffs whose suit has been authorized that they have to wait until a legislative session finally approves a settlement previous sessions have refused to authorize. Not only is there no such doctrine, but how many sessions do you make them sit through before you finally take “No” for an answer?

Paxton thinks he’s invisible and bulletproof; but I think plaintiffs get their day in court; and that includes a lot of discovery and evidence the Senate impeachment trial never heard. Even if it means Laura Olson taking the 5th in public.

As William Faulkner said, the past isn’t over. It isn’t even past. Much as Paxton might wish it to be so he can run for Cornyn’s seat and leave all this far behind.

Monday, September 25, 2023

πŸ‘©‍⚖️



According to Andrew Weissman, that picture depicts Trump “receiving” a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(n):
(n) It shall be unlawful for any person who is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce any firearm or ammunition or receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

That depends, of course, on what the word “receiving” means. All I can do is refer to my one federal criminal case (yes, I know how pathetic this sounds. In my defense, I’m not reliving a long-past glory.), which involved this very statute (though not this very section). My case involved “possession” of a firearm by a convicted felon.

I put “possession” in quotes because it’s a legal term of art in this discussion. It’s the term used by the statute, and the courts have decided it means “custody and control,” not “possessory interest.” To explain: you may take my gun (let’s say), and now have “custody and control” of it. But if I can prove my possessory interest, I can recover the gun, at law, from you. My claim, in law, is superior to, and different from, your possession/possessory claim.

But this statute doesn’t require possessory interest. It just requires “receiving.” Trump taking it from the gun dealer, as he clearly did, is enough. At least according to former federal prosecutor Weissman, and I defer to his superior knowledge.

"But that's not the law. It's not that you can't buy a gun," said Weissmann. "The law is that you cannot — 922(n), to be a nerd. It's that you cannot receive a gun, that has traveled in interstate commerce. That means it's traveled across state lines, and a Glock has traveled across state lines because they're either made overseas or they're made in Georgia, but they're not made in South Carolina."

Now, does that mean Trump’s going to face a new criminal charge in South Carolina federal court? No; not at all likely. But, it is likely Jack Smith is already amending his motion pending before Judge Chutkan:

"So, the issue here is not that he would be charged with that separate offense, it's that while this motion is pending, what Judge [Tanya] Chutkan will have in front of her is not just the [Gen. Mark] Milley statements, but also someone who has flagrantly boasted about doing something. So, to me, he is really daring the court to do something. It's like a child, except it's much more serious because it's somebody who's out on bail on 91 felony counts."
Is Trump “daring” the court? IMHLO, no; I don’t think those facts are so clearly in evidence. But I also don’t think “motive” (that favorite term of murder mysteries which really isn’t a legal term) is relevant here. Trump can’t claim he didn’t know about 18 U.S.C. 922n; because he probably didn’t. It didn’t matter to my poor client that he didn’t understand the legal definition of “possession” (he kept saying, correctly, that the gun wasn’t his. We couldn’t get him to understand that didn’t matter.). He went to jail (again), anyway (and yes, to this day I think that was a miscarriage of justice). It simply doesn’t matter what Trump knows.

Weissman is right, regardless, because Trump is ignoring legal advice he’s presumably getting to shut up and stay away from gun shows (among other things). He’s doing what he wants to do and can’t conceive that there will be consequences. He is behaving just like a child, and it may well be Chutkan has to constrain him because he won’t constrain himself.

She has to justify whatever she does to the D.C.circuit, who will undoubtedly be asked to review it. But Trump is giving her ample grounds to set his trial date much earlier AND restrain his behavior on an escalating basis: fines and more hearings on his violations, leading to stronger measures.

This is not going to end well for Trump. FAFO is a terrible way to deal with a federal judge.

Adding: this isn’t really relevant to any court action, but it underscores what a sleaze Trump is:
This particular gun shop has a bit of a history. Interesting that the Trump campaign would choose this particular one to visit. 
The Palmetto State Armory supplied the mass shooter in Jacksonville with the AR-15 that was used in the recent racist mass shooting. The weapon even infamously had swastikas etched into it.

I Go Out For Few Hours…

 …and everybody goes crazy!😜 

amazing - during a Fox News interview w/ Brian Kilmeade, former president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko denounces Victor Shokin, who plays as a leading role in Kilmeade's conspiracy theories, as a "completely crazy person" & says "there's something wrong with him" as Kilmeade melts
Something like this:
KILMEADE: Shokin didn't get fired because of Joe Biden? 
POROSHENKO: He was fired because of his own statement 
KILMEADE: Alright. Mr President, thanks so much.
I’m pretty sure Hunter got to Poroshenko and bought him off with China money.

Then Trump gave a speech:
Trump: When I come here, everyone thought Bush was going to win… They thought Bush because he was supposedly a military person. He got us into the Middle East
Okay, so...

A) No idea where “here” is.

B) Shrub? Poppy? Jeb!? Trump ran against one of them. The other two got us into the Middle East, and back into the Middle East. Which we’ve been “in” since before the establishment of Israel. 

C) Only Poppy could be vaguely described as a “military person,” Because he was a pilot in WWII. Shrub famously avoided service. So, again: who the hell?

D) “Mom!! Grandpa needs his meds again!”

And then (or before? Does the timeline matter?), Trump went to a gun shop in SC.  Where he was presented with a gun that had his face carved into the handle. And Trump said, twice: “I want to buy this gun.”

His campaign dutifully reported that he had done so.  Until a few minutes later, when Xitter reported that would be a violation of federal law, as Trump is under (multiple) felony indictment(s). At which point the video of Trump slobbering over the gun, offered as proof of his 2nd amendment bona fides, was deleted, and the purchase of the gun staunchly denied.

Except MTG, noted legal scholar and Trump fanboi #1!πŸ‘†, said she was there and he DID buy it!

18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(1) makes it a federal crime to sell a firearm to a person who is under felony indictment. 
And 18 U.S.C. § 922(n) makes it a federal crime for a person under indictment to ship or transport a firearm.
We’re waiting to see what Jack Smith thinks.

Trump in South Carolina claims that Biden is "trying to bludgeon the boating and maritime industry ... with a speed limit of less than 11 miles an hour." He then says the real whale killers are "windmills." 
"They're driving the whales a little batty," Trump adds.
Whales 🐳 are jumping into windmills? Speed limits in boats? The Coast Guard is getting radar guns?

When do we stop talking about Biden’s age, and start talking about Trump’s lost marbles? 

Obama’s Tan Suit

 Trump, so often it’s not “new”:

Trump said the Chair of Joint Chiefs he appointed committed “treason” & should be executed, his Chief of Staff was “a disgrace,” his Press Sec was “a highly unstable nut job,” his AG was “mentally retarded” & “lazy,” his NSA was “stupid,” and his SecDef was “weak & ineffective.”
Washington pundits last week:
As little as I have loved Republicans the past few years, coinciding with the rise of our own little autocrat, at least Donald Trump knows how to dress,” @kathleenparker writes.
Trump this morning:
Pennsylvania is at it again!" Trump posted on his Truth Social website. "The Radical Left Governor, Josh Shapiro, has just announced a switch to Automatic Voter Registration, a disaster for the Election of Republicans, including your favorite President, ME!" 
"This is a totally Unconstitutional Act, and must be met harshly by Republican Leadership in Washington and Pennsylvania," Trump added. "Likewise, the RNC, and Ronna McDaniel, must spend their time working on this, instead of meaningless Debates where I am up by more than 50 points. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and others, are far more important than 'Aida,' Sloppy Chris, Lyin’ Mike Pence, Nikki 'Birdbrain' Haley, Ron ('Dead Campaign') DeSanctimonious, and the others. Start suing now, & get the right lawyers this time! The Pennsylvania Republican Party must likewise not let this happen. It will be a disaster for our Nation, which is being destroyed by these Lunatics, Marxists, & Fascists, whose only real ability is to CHEAT on Elections. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
It was called "Motor Voter” when it started almost 40 years ago. And yeah, Trump’s only point is that this means more people could vote, and Republicans can’t have that.

But Senators are not wearing dark suits and dull ties in the chamber. Because while they engage in wholly undignified acts (Cruz reading “Green Eggs and Ham” comes to mind), they must be well dressed while doing it. You know, to maintain the dignity of the institution.

And when Donald Trump threatens to stomp his little feet all over the Constitution if he can be POTUS again? Well, at least he won’t do it while wearing a hoodie.

I think the GOP loves to go after matters of dress because they know the D.C. punditry is all about appearances. They all so want to be recognizable faces on TeeVee, and you can’t do that without make-up and a hair stylist. And clothes everybody notices by not noticing.

So NEVER a tan suit.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Be Careful What You Wish For

 Well, he’s clear about what he cares about:

The Republicans lost big on Debt Ceiling, got NOTHING, and now are worried that they will be BLAMED for the Budget Shutdown. Wrong!!! Whoever is President will be blamed, in this case, Crooked (as Hell!) Joe Biden!" Trump said on Truth Social. "Our Country is being systematically destroyed by the Radical Left Marxists, Fascists and Thugs - THE DEMOCRATS. UNLESS YOU GET EVERYTHING, SHUT IT DOWN! Close the Border, stop the Weaponization of 'Justice,' and End Election Interference - WE MUST HAVE HONEST ELECTIONS."
He’s going to be very annoyed to find out there are government functions that are already funded and not subject to the funding bills Congress can’t agree on right now. Although Congress is functioning the way he wants it to:
To the best of my recollection all past shutdowns were based on the house not agreeing with the senate or both houses in conflict with the executive. I don’t remember one that came about because the house couldn’t agree with itself. Basically a shutdown because the House can’t come up with its own position to negotiate with the senate and the White House.

Not the way he says he wants it to; but the ways he’s asking for it to. You know, like those proverbial deals with the Devil? Or wishes on the monkey’s paw?

Yeah, Trump is getting exactly what he wished for. Sucks to be him.

And apparently this is what Trump means by getting “something” instead of “nothing.”

House GOP is demanding - or else they’ll shut down the government - that the following be cut 27%: 
-Social Security Administration 
-Nutrition assistance for poor newborns 
-Money to ensure our drinking water is safe 
-Most federal education money 
-Federal cancer and stroke research
I’m a little confused about the infant care issue. Is that because Dems are aborting babies after birth, so fewer newborns need nutrition assistance? 

And obviously SS Administration needs to be 27% less efficient, for the good of the country on Medicare and SS. I understand the over 65’s went for Trump in 2020. They’ll be good with this, right?

Cutting federal education money is gonna hairlip Texas GOP Senators who say schools get federal money, they don’t need more state money (or the money the state takes away from them now).

Safe drinking water? Doesn’t everyone just drink bottled water now?

πŸ•³️

 Is this before, or after, he impeaches Biden?

"I say up front, openly, and proudly, that when I WIN the Presidency of the United States, they and others of the LameStream Media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events," he said, arguably challenging the very notion of an American free press. "Why should NBC, or any other of the corrupt & dishonest media companies, be entitled to use the very valuable Airwaves of the USA, FREE? They are a true threat to Democracy and are, in fact, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE! The Fake News Media should pay a big price for what they have done to our once great Country!"
I’m sure Thomas and Alito will be kewl with running roughshod over this much of the First Amendment. (Gotta keep the religion language so the right-wing cranks can sue to protect “their” Xianity.)

And he does know broadcasters pay license fees, right? That are set (ultimately) by Congress.  No, of course he doesn’t know that.  The man is a black hole of information.

Well, now we’re talking about him again. And he’s establishing the topic. No bad publicity, and all that….

⛈️

 I had read that this was a disaster in the making, political malpractice of historical proportions, campaign malpractice: Trump was going to meet with UAW workers while Biden stayed in the White House. But today comes this:

While Joe Biden arrives in Michigan this week as the first US president to join a picket line of striking union workers in over 100 years, Trump will appear at a non-union auto parts plant to complain about electric vehicles.
Which, you know, actually makes sense.

Suddenly I consider news reports about the future to be as reliable as the 10 day weather forecast.

Cancun Ted

 Yeah, this is what we didn’t understand as we froze in February while Ted left the most expensive neighborhood in Texas to go to Mexico for the beach:

While speaking at The Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was asked about his family excursion to CancΓΊn while millions of his constituents were suffering without power due to the effects of a devastating winter storm. 
Cruz said he doesn't know how to string power lines and that he doesn't have the ability to control the weather. 
Cruz continued by adding he was at home with his family, and they were without power, so he made a decision to take his kids to the beach. Cruz ended his response by saying, 'I get that if you've been told Cruz is the devil, then screaming CancΓΊn is a wonderful partisan thing to do. But if, at the end of the day, your greatest criticism of me is that I took my kids to the beach, I can live with that.'
Is this where I point out there is a Texas beach less than hour from Ted’s Houston home? Or that Ted turned around and came back to Texas the minute the photos of him in the airport came out?

People froze to death. Ted went to the beach. If you’re okay with that, Ted, you’re sub-human. But then, we knew that.

(And power lines weren’t down, Ted. Generators failed, across the state. What have you done since then to champion policy changes so that technical failure doesn’t happen again? Too busy making podcasts and excusing yourself for being simulacrum of a human being? Can’t begin to do anything for the benefit of Texas? Nothing occurs to you along those lines? Why am I not surprised?) 

(And all summer we’ve faced the threat of blackouts and rolling brownouts because the system can’t supply demand. And the solution from
ERCOT is to turn the thermostat up on the hottest days; or to pay millions to crypto miners to stop burning massive amounts of electricity fruitlessly. Any concerns about that, Ted? Maybe we should all go to the mountains?  Asshole.)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz called school choice a civil rights issue and defended his decision to go to Cancun during the 2021 winter storm in an interview Saturday at The Texas Tribune Festival. 
Cruz’s comments on school choice come just days after Gov. Greg Abbott said a special session on the issue would start next month. 
“It’s the civil rights issue of the 21st century,” Cruz said, causing some laughter from the crowd at Austin’s Paramount Theatre. 
Cruz said he doesn’t hesitate to campaign against fellow Republicans who oppose school choice.
School choice is an issue important enough to arouse the interest of a U.S. Senator. A failing electricity grid? Eh, that’s a problem for state legislators, right, Cancun Rafael?

Dog Bites Man

 Haven’t I heard this somewhere before?

Trump said the Chair of Joint Chiefs he appointed committed “treason” & should be executed, his Chief of Staff was “a disgrace,” his Press Sec was “a highly unstable nut job,” his AG was “mentally retarded” & “lazy,” his NSA was “stupid,” and his SecDef was “weak & ineffective.”
I know I’ve heard this before:
Where are all those people who were telling me in 2021 that if we stopped talking about him he would go away and become irrelevant?
"How can I miss you if you won’t go away?” is becoming the common sentiment about Trump. Familiarity breeds contempt, and Trump is becoming far, far too familiar. 

I mean, when you catalog Trump’s disdain for his former appointees and staff, it’s indefensible and reprehensible; but aside from MAGAts, who doesn’t know this about Trump by now? It’s not like Trump doesn’t proclaim it every time he thinks the country’s attention is moving away from him. Trump is clearly convinced there’s no such thing as bad publicity; but is he right?

Besides:
The GOP is nothing more than a “merry band of chaos carnival clowns…political pyromaniacs…” Rupert Murdoch’s legacy at FoxNews played a major role in creating this mess.
True; but why was it so easy? I don’t remember Chomsky and Marcuse being this effective on the left. Or Pacifica Radio, for that matter. Why is that?

Would that the world was as simple as Xitter insists it is.

D.C.Pundit Problems

 I’m doing my best here:

What We Lose When We Loosen Dress Codes Allowing senators to wear what they please on the Senate floor may seem like liberation, but abandoning the dress code could wind up symbolizing the failure to
Since I can’t embed the  xweets, I have to copy them; sort of. This method has its drawbacks.
“As little as I have loved Republicans the past few years, coinciding with the rise of our own little autocrat, at least Donald Trump knows how to dress,” @kathleenparker writes.
These are from Doug J Balloon, but they are real, not parody.

I remember “dress codes” from high school. We didn’t have much of one by then: everyone was wearing blue jeans and sneakers and shirts: male and female alike. Every male’s head had fairly short hair, though some of us, having relatively recently escaped burr haircuts and crew cuts (ask me about the color, texture, and near impossibility to wash out, of Butch Hair Wax, a/k/a “greasy kid’s stuff in Brylcreem ads. Oh, go ask your grandpa! Punk kids!), thought we had “long hair “ because it touched our ears. (As age makes my ears more and more resemble Dumbo’s, I reconsider my tonsorial choices.). Eventually, in college, I had “long hair.” Given my hair’s nature, it came closer to helmet hair than the classic hippie look. I plan to burn all those pictures before I die.). 

We had one student who, in high school, could grow a full beard, and also wore his hair down to his shoulders. He wore t-shirts, blue jeans, and sandals. Exclusively. There were rumors about how he got away with it (most centering in a “note from his doctor.) To this day I have no idea how he managed it.

He even got a two page spread in the yearbook as “Mr. Robert E.Lee” (it was the name the school, and obviously the high honor for seniors). The award traditionally went to a couple: “Mr. and Miss (wrong as it is, I want to say “Mrs.” I’m too lazy to correct my memory by finding those yearbooks.). That year the female half was the half of a couple whose boyfriend expected the award alongside his sweetie. He was a confirmed redneck: he wore cowboy boots, cowboy hat, big shiny belt buckle; and had a ring in his back pocket from the ubiquitous Skoal can.

Usually the couple was photographed together. The girl refused to be photographed with Mr. Hippie, and the boyfriend threatened to pound him to s pulp if he saw any pictures of them together. The boyfriend was built like a fire plug and looked like he wrestled bulls to the ground in his spare time.

I still love the sense of humor the student body showed in electing those two to that honor.

But the point is, we had teachers insist clothes made the student and sloppy dress meant sloppy minds. Even then we knew that was bullshit. I wore jeans through high school, college, and graduate school and law school. I wore suits daily (between school stints) for years, giving it up except for Sunday worship and occasions when I was officially a pastor, until I took up teaching again. I’ve been wearing jeans since, and have a suit only for funerals and weddings (when I’m officiating, at the latter). My dress code is button down shirts and jeans and, in summer, Topsiders or boots, depending.

I used to despair at the rise of “casual wear” in adults. Now I consider suits ridiculous, especially ties. WTF?🀬 It’s a ridiculous expense, aside from the suit itself. Is there really an argument for either that doesn’t involve “we’ve always done it this way!” in some variation or another?

And especially in matters of the conduct of the U.S. Senate, does it really matter how they dress on the Senate floor? Or does it matter more what they do there?

Ted Cruz can take the chamber floor dressed in a tuxedo; he’s still a braying ass.

Unless there’s some roving band of rednecks looking to beat up Sen. Fetterman for not wearing a tie in the Senate, I don’t see the problem here. Except now I think the handwringing D.C. pundits are the rednecks in this analogy…

Saturday, September 23, 2023

πŸ€

I know Trump is (reportedly) still raising cash to fund his legal bills, but those are going to skyrocket soon, and I suspect his fundraising won’t.
Both Project Veritas and the MAGA movement were built around powerful, egocentric leaders who see themselves as above the law. Both were also constructed on the quicksand of conspiracy theories and lies," he wrote for MSNBC before predicting, "Veritas was brought down by a combination of outside demands for accountability, O’Keefe’s egotistical overreach, and internal divisions. And it appears that a similar fate awaits Trump’s MAGA empire." 
After suggesting, "O’Keefe’s willingness to lie and his sense of being above the law were a precursor for Donald Trump when he entered the presidential race," Creamer claimed the similarities go even further. 
"O’Keefe allegedly treated Project Veritas’ funds like his own piggy bank — much the way Trump treated the government’s classified documents, which he famously says are 'mine,'" he wrote.

Trump is treating his fundraising like “his own piggy bank,” and he’s not campaigning (his last rally was less than “sold out”). He’s avoiding debates, a strategy that works for him so long as he walks on water. But he’s running the same old same old, and may have exceeded his sell-by date. There are at least indications Trump’s limitations are becoming obvious. And his own personal white whale, impeaching Biden, is not exactly garnering the unalloyed support of all the crewmembers of the Pequod.

And the general election is still more than a year away: with three, if not four, criminal trials, before November 2024.  I’ll say again: the cost of trial is going to equal or exceed what Trump has spent so far on any one case. The expense of criminal trials is going to eat up funds raised for anything, and the time he must spend in court/not campaigning (at all) is not going to improve his numbers or his fundraising.

In other words, long way to go, and a lot we KNOW is going to happen. It’s what we don’t know that turns inevitable challengers into has-beens who never had a chance. Did anybody see Hillary losing in 2015? Or in ‘16? Right now Trump is almost inevitable because he sucks all the air out of the room.

But the room needs air. And the air in this room is getting stale. Familiarity breeds contempt, and Trump’s schtick is, arguably, becoming too familiar. He’s in the room, but more and more people are leaving it.

Trump is an attention junkie. But what if people get tired of giving him the attention? Boebert is talking like she’s ready to get out of the spotlight she chased so hard. MTG doesn’t want to go back to chasing cameras outside the Capitol, but what other future does she have? Gaetz wants to be Governor of Florida. Ken Paxton wants Cornyn’s job because he’s seen how hard Ted Cruz doesn’t work; and he wants to spend more time as far away from his wife as he can get.

And House Republicans are starting to talk about how dysfunctional the House is, because they want somebody else to blame for the shit they’re being covered in. The rats in the barrel are eating each other.

Pass the popcorn. I’ve been waiting a long time for this.

🎭

 


People talking about what they do:

Boebert: “I’m done wasting time. I have 4 boys at home, I have a grandson at home. I would love to spend more time with them. I have put my life on hold to come here and provide results. I’m not here for the political show, the political theater.”
Funny. She liked it until she went to a real theater. 🎭 

OTOH, what, exactly, does she think she’s accomplished so far? Or is she thinking about quitting before she gets fired?

And Ken Paxton thinks he’s now invisible and bulletproof and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
In May, I called on liberal Speaker Dade Phelan to resign after he was recorded numerous times presiding over the Texas House in a state of apparent debilitating intoxication. Despite this embarrassing conduct, & his continuing erratic behavior, Phelan has refused to resign. He has also wasted millions of tax dollars on a politically motivated sham impeachment, killed a critical border security bill & empowered an Obama lawyer to stop conservative legislation. As the legislature prepares for an anticipated special session to provide children with more opportunities for quality education, it is critical that Dade Phelan resigns as Speaker or is removed from his leadership position. The people of Texas deserve serious, conservative, & unimpaired leadership
Phelan is elected by district, not statewide. Patrick (and Paxton, tacitly) has been after Phelan for years. 

This is just fundraising twaddle. Paxton wants Cornyn’s job and Phelan’s term runs through 2025. Nobody’s gonna give a shit about Paxton’s impeachment in 2025. Or in 2024, for that matter.

Nobody expects Phelan to go anywhere, or Abbott to get his way on school vouchers. Funny how nobody is worried about school funding. Still.

And I still think that’s going to bite everyone in Austin (for 6 months every two years) on the ass.

60 Cases

What Trump also told Kristen Welker 
 "The election was rigged. There’s no question about that. There’s so much proof on it. Even if you go to the more modern-day proof with the — they call it Twitter Files, FBI and Twitter, or you take a look at the Amazon stuff or the Google stuff, or you take a look at '2,000 Mules,' you take a look at all of the ballot stuffing that’s on tape, you take a look at the fact that the legislatures didn’t approve a lot of the things that were done in the elections, and they had to approve. And we could go on forever. We could go on forever. But, but no. I want somebody that’s going to be strong, respected, tough, and fair."

 60 cases, and he couldn’t prove any of this in court. Rudy Giuliani lost a defamation suit on “ballot stuffing,” and nobody has found any evidence of it, or any of the crap in “2000 Mules.” Cyber Ninjas spent weeks in Arizona, and just found more votes for Biden.

But I repeat myself. Bring it into court and prove it, or go away. Put up, or shut up. The world ain’t on Xittter and doesn’t solve its problems by who has the most insane conspiracy theory. Or the most clueless response. (Xitter still sucks!)

Of course, this is a guy whose standard of evidence is:

"It hasn’t been debunked. It’s on camera."

So I’m arguing with a fool. Still, I look forward to Trump having his day(s) in court. He’s gonna be so disappointed that what he says on the intertoobs doesn’t even get spoken in the courtroom.

🍿 

Arsonist Complains About The Forest Fire He Set

Newt Gingrich Speaks:
"We have some Members who not only can't play chess or checkers, they can't even play Tic-Tac-Toe." 
Gingrich then said that these Members are "playing games" and "aren't just hurting the Republican Party, they're hurting the country." He then called out Matt Gaetz specifically, calling him "frankly deranged ... he hates Kevin."
And also too:
Gingrich: The members who are playing games aren’t just hurting the Republican Party, they’re hurting the country because they’re taking the focus off of Biden.
Somebody ask Newt about the time he shut down the government because he didn’t get a good seat on AF One. And how that worked out for his Speakership.

John Boehner and Paul Ryan are smart to stay retired. People in glass houses, and all that.

FAFO 🐊

 Kyle Cheney, noting Trump’s “Truth” tirade against Gen. Milley:

One question I have about Trump’s overnight attack on Milley: Is he on the government’s witness list for Trump’s DC trial? He was a key Jan. 6 committee witness who said Trump privately admitted losing the election.
George Conway comments that Trump is “just so mind-bogglingly stupid,” because in so many ways Trump opens doors for people to testify against him, and then gives them good reason to.

There’s an argument that republishing all the crap Trump spews is helping Trump. This is the counter-argument. Kristen Welker was lambasted over her “LOOK AT ME!  LOOK AT ME!" publicity stunt of an interview, but it’s now also acknowledged Trump threw away his “reliance on counsel” defense in that interview. Day by day he eliminates any reasonable doubt in his criminal cases.

Cheney wonders if Milley is on the witness list because there is a standing order against Trump tampering with or intimidating witnesses. Again I’ll note that Trump has never been in a criminal trial in his life, and he has no idea how to cope with it. He’s also of the lifelong opinion that any publicity is good publicity, and he constantly seeks attention.

That driving principle has turned toxic, and it’s soon going to prove punitive. 

He’ll find out.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Do They Listen To Themselves?

 We start with BoebertJuice (as she shall be hereafter known):

McGovern: If this were a more serious effort this would have been done in July. 
Boebert: It should have been done in July, you're correct.
The competition with Matt Gaetz is stiff:
Gaetz: We’re going to have make some choices about our leadership. We’re going to have to deal with their failures
But no further calls, please, we have a winner:
Neguse asks Clay Higgins if he thinks COVID is dangerous. Higgins says “I would put a virus along the lines of the flu far down my list of priorities that I would consider dangerous.” Neguse introduces an article titled “Clay Higgins: Covid almost killed me”

Failure To Launch πŸš€

 Remember when we were being invaded? Good times, good times:

Neguse: My question why has it taken 100 days for the homeland security subcommittee and the full appropriations committee to bring this bill to the rules committee if the situation on the southern border is as urgent as you and I both believe it is?

Could it be because, if they solved the problem (or just said they did. Some people still think Trump actually built a wall that actually works. And why is it no longer keeping all the scary brown people out? That’s Biden’s fault.), they’d have to find something new to scream about and terrorize people with?

Whatever happened to the talk of invasion, anyway? You still hear about it once in a while, but it doesn’t have the same verve, the same manic energy it used to have. It’s like all the fizz has gone out of the bottle…

Neguse: Americans might wonder how did we get here and what legislative strategy has the House Republican Caucus devised to avoid a government shutdown. Apparently, that strategy is waste an entire summer debating bills on protecting gas stoves….

Go on!…. 

Neguse: The question that I am trying to reconcile is why the Republican majority decided to spend the summer on bills on gas stoves and the prairie chicken and then send everyone home for a 47-day recess, only to come back seven days before the government is slated to shut down.
I have it on good authority that it’s Biden’s fault. Failure to lead, or something…

Anyway, unimpeachable (!) authority that it’s not the House GOP’s fault!
Boebert: Unfortunately we've wasted many months and we're at this deadline of government funding running out and us on the brink of a shutdown… My colleagues and I are fighting to fund the government.
They just run the House. You can’t hold them responsible for its failures to govern.

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is Still A Looney Tune

 Jenna Ellis hasn’t fallen that far from the tree:

"If it comes down to Trump v. Biden… Why wouldn’t principled conservatives vote for @RobertKennedyJr who may run Independent?" Ellis asked her audience. "At this point, he’s said willing to negotiate with Republicans as much as Trump is willing to with Democrats on pro-life and the LGBTQ agenda." 
She added that Kennedy "also tells the truth about Covid mandates and the vax. He’s honest."

🍿 🌈 🐢

 Ya just hate to see it, don’t ya?

From questioning the outcome of the 2020 election, to her presence at the January 6 'stop the steal' rally, to her praise of Donald Trump for being the only candidate with the 'courage' to discuss the epidemic of covert child-sex-trafficking in the United States," a frustrated Rothman writes, "Autenreith lent credence to every paranoid shibboleth that signifies membership in the MAGA tribe. She paid for her fealty to Donald Trump's movement with her candidacy, and her constituents will be the ones who suffer for it." 
Rothman adds that the same night in a New Hampshire election, MAGA Republican candidate James Guzofski "went down to defeat handily" in a district that conservative GOP Gov. Chris Sununu won by 22 percent in 2022. 
"Guzofski argued that the COVID-19 vaccines with which at least 270 million Americans were inoculated are a deadly menace — an odious feature of the 'Plandemic,'" Rothman observes. "He condemned Mike Pence, who 'betrayed the president and the Constitution' by failing to halt the electoral-certification process on January 6, 2021. He circulated an absurd petition calling for a 2020 election revote." 
This type of "kookery," Rothman warns, is causing Republicans to lose races they could be winning. "Registered Republicans appear committed to testing the general electorate's tolerance for their preferred nonsense," the conservative writer laments. 
"General-election voters appear to be as eager as ever to demonstrate the folly of their judgment. Until this dynamic changes, Republicans will continue to lose races up and down the ballot."
Yup. Damned shame. 😈

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Hide-n-Seek Champions

Well, maybe:
Gaetz says his biggest concern right now with their divided caucus is that House Dems have 213 signatures on a clean CR, and if they get just 5 moderate Republicans to join them it will pass “like shit through a goose.”
Where do these 5 come from?
The House GOP, which is “tearing itself apart”, is divided into three factions. There’s the Freedom Caucus; abt 160 reps who do what the Freedom Caucus tells them to do; and about 20 moderates who bitch and moan before doing what the Freedom Caucus tells them to do.
I think they’re like Sasquatch: I hear reports of them, but no evidence. True hide-n-seek champions.

πŸ” ✈️ πŸ₯ƒ

As you may know, David Brooks found himself in Newark Airport with enough time to buy a hamburger πŸ” and several glasses of brown liquor. πŸ₯ƒ That’s according to the restaurant in the airport.

Brooks’ xweet was heard ‘round the world, but the best responses belong to Doug J Balloon.

The First Amendment issues:

There is no constitutional prohibition against drunk-tweeting about airport bar prices, so I don’t see why liberals are attacking David Brooks. 
-Jonathan Turley
The (obvious, really) sheet pan connection:
Wish you had time to travel? These sheet-pan burgers and fries will make you feel like you're at the Newark Airport.
The inevitable Maureen Dowd article:
Whiskey River, Take My Mind 
Red-headed stranger David Brooks is on the road again at the Newark Airport, but the price of scotch has his blue eyes crying in the rain. Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be pundits. 
by Maureen Dowd
And personal favorite and best of class:
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to a deli at the Newark airport. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named 'Padrino' and 'Pomodoro'. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and we got drunk on scotch.
🀣🀣🀣🫠

It’s Lonely At The Top

Uneasy lies the head beneath the crown. Or just unresolved issues:
Murdoch's fiery internal note sent to all staff on Thursday: "Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth."
Judges would also accept: “Everybody hates me, nobody loves me, I’m gonna eat some worms.”

Or just the obvious observation that it’s far easier to get sympathy when you can identify a group others can easily hate, too. “Elites,” after all, do not have gender, race, color, or creed in common. They’re just the ones who look down on “us.” No one can blame you for looking down on them.

Indeed, this reminds me of an ad showing a white-haired man in a corner office with a young assistant standing at his elbow as he announces he’s doing whatever the ad is selling (which involves, IIRC, getting it cheaper), and he concludes: “It’s just my way of sticking it to the man!” To which the startled assistant replies, bewildered: “But I thought you were The Man, sir?”

Third alternative: Rupert Murdoch really is that insecure and self-centered and overly concerned with himself. Sad, really.

Hallowe’en Is Coming

 So if you’re looking for nightmare fuel:

Well, one thing the country needs to understand clearly, is that under the Constitution ... there's only two people who can give a lawful order to the Armed Forces," said McCaffrey. "They're both civilians. One's the commander-in-chief, the president in that function, and other is the Secretary of Defense. The Chairman of the JCS has zero command authority, nor do the service chiefs their advisers — they're advisers to the president, vice president, National Security Council." 
What that means, McCaffrey continued, is that "when we end up with a president like Trump, who essentially is a Mafia-like figure in his understanding of the use of military power, or for that matter, domestic law enforcement, who lacks character, who has installed in office an acting Secretary of Defense and his gang of cohorts who he has reason to believe will follow his orders, then we're in enormous peril. That's what we're seeing, again, out of this brilliantly resourced article ... we have no defense against a president with this lack of character, and we were in enormous national peril."

πŸŽ₯

Remember when Trump was rambling in public about Biden getting us into World War II if we re-elected him, and what a devastating nuclear Holocaust that would be, “like the world has never seen”? Seems like that was only last week…

Anyway, Pepperidge Farm remembers:
Most important message in @JeffreyGoldberg astonishing profile of Mark Milley: Donald Trump's own top military appointees feared that left to his own devices, Trump could start a nuclear war out of brute stupidity.
If you just keep in mind the man projects like a cineplex, much of what he says you can explain. The rest you can just chalk up to brute stupidity.
"If you look at what happened last weekend, where you looked at him and he just got lost, he just blanked, he couldn't even remember, one, who he was running against in 2024, and then -- and I know it was almost eight years ago, it was a long time ago if you're -- we've all been around people with dementia, people getting older, forgetting things. Well, it was his history, so if his mind wasn't jumbled at that moment, he would have remembered he ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016. He couldn't remember who he ran against in 2016, so he just slid [Barack] Obama in there, just a catch-all, I guess – if you start your career with a racist conspiracy theory about Obama, he's got that back there somewhere. He is living somewhere in 2011, 'I'll just say Obama's name, people seem to like that.'" 
The 77-year-old Trump and his allies frequently say that President Joe Biden, who's 80, is too old to run for president, and many Democrats worry about that, as well, but Scarborough believes the op-ed was expressing concerns on the right that the former president might be slipping due to his age.
"Slipping due to age" is a relative, and very individual, thing. Joe Biden has forgotten more about politics, campaigning, and governance, than his critics ever knew. The proof of that pudding is in his record; and please to remember every President’s record is assessed after his term ends, not in mid-term. LBJ did more to create modern America than FDR; but because of Vietnam it was decades before we began to see that.

Trump is not too old to be president. He’s too bluntly stupid. I mean, we have video.

🐘 🏫 πŸ’°

 


So, the Houston Chronicle can acknowledge this:

Still, Spring Branch is speaking for many frustrated districts with this protest, districts that are seeing rising costs due to inflation on everything from food to fuel to insurance. On top of that they’re dealing with a severe teacher shortage, largely stemming from pay, the end of federal COVID era-funding and in some are seeing funding losses associated with falling enrollment. 
If flying a flag and uttering words of defiance draw some attention to the plight of public schools in this state, good. 
Texas ranks 42nd in per-pupil funding — several thousand dollars behind the national average — and doesn’t even get close to keeping up with inflation. Some state leaders gave the distinct impression that they planned do something about lagging education resources and teacher salaries, what with lawmakers swimming in a $33 billion budget surplus.
And can criticize this:
Some of Spring Branch’s demands in the past year — such as increasing the basic allotment by $1,000 — are debatable. The amount, if applied statewide, would be astronomical and some local Republican state senators had argued that it’s better to direct funding toward specific uses, such as teacher pay raises, rather than hike base funding.
And do it all without betraying even a base understanding of school finances in Texas. The Chronicle talks a good game:
Texas ranks 42nd in per-pupil funding — several thousand dollars behind the national average — and doesn’t even get close to keeping up with inflation. Some state leaders gave the distinct impression that they planned do something about lagging education resources and teacher salaries, what with lawmakers swimming in a $33 billion budget surplus.
But they don’t mention where that budget surplus comes from. It’s a direct result of what they open their argument with: “Robin Hood.”

Yes, Texas schools got screwed in the last session because funding got caught in the fight over Abbott’s pet project, school vouchers. Got caught, and no new funding for schools was approved. But $1000.00 per student is not a “debatable” sum, because 1/3rd of that record state surplus is local school taxes. Even the Comptroller of Public Accounts acknowledged that, back in January. He argued that money should go back to the schools. Nobody listened. Nobody’s listening still, not even people who think they are championing the schools. 

That’s the elephant in the room. That money should be returned to the schools without argument.

But it’s part of the way the state is paying for the reduction in the rate of property taxes, which fund the schools. Legislators are paying that bill by robbing schools. This simple reality, this basic fact that has been true of “Robin Hood” for 50 years now, goes entirely unmentioned in this editorial.
Normally, we’re on the side of Robin Hood — or at least the spirit of Texas’ Robin Hood school funding law that requires property-rich school districts to share their tax wealth with poorer districts. 
But even the real Robin Hood folk hero known for his vigilante wealth redistribution would be no match for today's Texas Legislature, where elected leaders seem intent on robbing students across the state of adequate public school funding.
But maybe they could figure out what’s actually the fuck going on. Cause it ain’t school finance, and it ain’t “Robin Hood.” It’s taking money from independent school districts and using it to fund state government so legislators can claim they “lowered taxes,” and additional funding of $1000.00 per student is “too expensive,” and public schools waste money anyway, so let’s just take that money away and give it to private schools while not spending any money on oversight of how state funds are being used by non-public schools.

When elephants fight, the African adage supposedly goes, the grass gets trampled. Public schools, and the children they educate, are the grass, at least for the next biennium. And no one is paying attention.

We did vouchers at literally the turn of the century, and it was such a disaster even the Lege had to shut it down in the session after it passed it. Which was two years later and a lot of money and lost educational opportunities under the bridge. But Greg Abbott wasn’t governor then so what the hell? And besides, history is bunk. 

And seeing what’s right in front of your nose takes more effort than most people can manage.