Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Pretty Sure That’s What Mary Trump Said He’s Always Been

"F*CK ALL Y'ALL! Now vote for me!"

A reminder: Trump has already burned through almost $39 million in campaign cash on legal fees; and nothing much to show for it. Trump ain't gonna spend ALL that money on lawyers between November 4 and December 8. He's probably gonna spend a bunch of it between now and November 3rd. The more he spends now, the less he has to spend on lawyers. The more he saves for lawyers, the deeper he sinks in the polls, and the less likely those lawyers can save him (hint: they can't, anyway). What to do, what to do.....? VERY unlikely to have any $$$ left in November. This is the guy who bankrupted a casino, a football team, and an airline. Because this just won't get old. He's doing his damndest. See? I think the tax returns settled that issue.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

No Wonder Trump Wants To Talk About Hunter Biden

"We have not succeeded...in introducing really effective public health measures" is 2020 in 11 words.

Who Among Us Is The "Low Information" Voter?

What we found is that most Americans — upward of 80 percent to 85 percent — follow politics casually or not at all. Just 15 percent to 20 percent follow it closely (the people we call “deeply involved”): the group of people who monitor everything from covfefe to the politics of “Cuties.” 

At the start of the year (i.e., pre-pandemic), we asked people to name the two most important issues facing the country. As expected, we found some clear partisan divides: For example, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to cite illegal immigration as an important issue. 

But on a number of other issues, we found that Americans fall much less neatly into partisan camps. For example, Democrats and Republicans who don’t follow politics closely believe that low hourly wages are one of the most important problems facing the country. But for hard partisans, the issue barely registers.

...

Hard partisans are twice as likely as people who pay less attention to politics to say that they would be unhappy if their child married someone of the opposing party. Hard partisans are also more likely to speak out about these political likes and dislikes. Almost 45 percent of people who are deeply involved say they frequently share their views on social media — in some cases, daily. It’s only 11 percent for those without a politics habit. To put this in perspective, a Pew study finds that 10 percent of Twitter users are responsible for 97 percent of all tweets about politics.

This gap between the politically indifferent and hard, loud partisans exacerbates the perception of a hopeless division in American politics because it is the partisans who define what it means to engage in politics.

....

For partisans, politics is a morality play, a struggle of good versus evil. But most Americans just see two angry groups of people bickering over issues that may not always seem pressing or important.

....

Each day, partisan Democrats wonder whether that day’s “outrage” will finally change how people feel about President Trump. Partisan Republicans wonder the same thing about Joe Biden. But most “regular” voters are not paying that much attention to the daily onslaught. It turns them off. And the major scandals that do break through? Well, to many of them, that is “just politics.”

I wasn't going to do it this way; but then I figured, why get in the way?  It's not the entire piece; but it's a good selection of that argument.  A solution?  I think it's been this way since 1776, at least.  I don't see anything changing it anytime soon.  As I like to say, Jules Verne had his world traveler Phileas Fogg cross through the American frontier of the 19th century, where he found a riot going on in a town.  Except it wasn't a riot, it was an election; for city dog-catcher.

Sounds about right.

But Trump Is Immune!*

Doesn't that count for something?


*according to Dr. Donald J. Trump

Louder and Funnier

Going directly to my previous point:

— $38.7 million in legal and “compliance” fees. In addition to tapping the RNC and his campaign to pay legal costs during his impeachment proceedings, Trump has also relied on his political operation to cover legal costs for some aides.

Legal fees are high, but that's still a lot of money.  The next largest expenditure of the Trump campaign (per financial disclosures) is:

— At least $35.2 million spent on Trump merchandise.

Three guesses where much of that money goes; first two don't count.  Only Parscale got out with more money:

Since 2017, more than $39 million has been paid to firms controlled by Parscale, who was ousted as campaign manager over the summer. An additional $273.2 million was paid to American Made Media Consultants, a Delaware limited liability company, whose owners are not publicly disclosed.

So the money that didn't go for grift went largely to lawyers.  Trump is not paying for all those election challenges.  He won't pay for the ones after the election, either.  Who will is becoming a very interesting question. 

November 3rd is Two Weeks Away

The funny part is that Trump is worried about losing Texas. Meanwhile, the 'rona is having all kinds of ancillary effects.

History Lessons?

One of the key lessons I learned from watching and working with Trump on The Art of the Deal—and from grappling with the Trump in me—is that we don’t get stronger by disowning the weakest parts of ourselves. Nor do we become more secure by rationalizing, minimizing and denying our shortcomings, or projecting them onto others.

The reality is that all of us struggle at times with fear, insecurity, and a sense that we’re unworthy. These feelings are an ineluctable part of being human. The most profound shift in my own life occurred when I finally recognized that I no longer needed to battle against feelings I had spent so much of my life avoiding—most of all the fear of not being good enough. That is part of who I am, but it’s not all of who I am. Seeing that has allowed me to open my heart in ways I never could before. There is so much less to defend.

We can’t change what we don’t notice. The first challenge of a post-Trumpian, post-paternalistic future is for men to summon the courage and the humility to embrace their humanity, meaning the full range of their emotions, including the most uncomfortable ones. “When we fight against and/or hide from unpleasant or painful sensations and feelings,” the psychologist Peter Levine has written, “we generally make things worse. The more we avoid them, the greater is the power they exert upon our behavior and sense of well-being.”

We can run but we cannot hide, because wherever we go, there we are. Trump will never change or heal, but we men can. The more we accept all of who we are, the less compelled we become to defend our value, and the more energy we free up to care for others and the world we share.

We went through this in the '60's and '70's (late '60's, not the "Mad Men" '60's which were just an extension of the '50's into anachronism).  Alan Alda was our avatar, I remember it well.  By the '80's we had "cowboy" Reagan (who was never any more a cowboy than Marion Robert Morrison was) and every one had to be "manly" again.  And we were soon back to what Tony Schwartz describes here.

Will we learn this lesson again?  Or rather, unlearn the lesson we've been teaching boys for 40 years?  This is a gross generalization, by the way.  Schwartz reaches a bit for for rhetorical effect when he writes:

For Trump, and for so many men desperate to hold onto control they fear is slipping way, the tactics include disparaging rather than encouraging others, reacting harshly rather than reasoning calmly, seeking certainty rather than struggling with complexity, and blaming others in a conflict, instead of first reckoning with their own responsibility. As the psychologist Terry Real puts it, “We raise boys to live in a world in which they are either winners or losers, grandiose or shame-filled, perpetrator or victims.”

The power that most men feel is fleeting and fragile, easily shattered by criticism, and uncushioned by the capacity for intimacy. Without deep relationships, including with themselves, too many men find themselves perpetually looking for ways to fill their inner emptiness and prove their worthiness.

We don't all raise boys to live in a world of winners or losers; but it is too prevalent a model.  And Schwartz' solution is a little too heavy on the Robert Bly for me (again, look it up, punks!  And git offa mah lawn!).  But I do think something's gonna give when Trump is removed from public life (and social life, one rather hopes.  Society should extract its pound of flesh, so to speak.)  We'll just have to see what results; and mostly, what we do with it.

"These Were The ’Wing’d-with-Awe,' Inviolable"

"All for want of a nail."

The still prevailing political narrative is that Trump will go to the Supreme Court where ACB will personally coronate him and the Republic will die. I exaggerate only slightly. There’s just one problem with that scenario: Trump needs lawyers to do it, and Trump is running out of money.

The campaign is helping fight accusations Trump harassed and sexually assaulted women. It’s helping keep documents about his business deals hidden. Other cases are proactive, such as attempts to enforce nondisclosure agreements and to punish media companies the campaign accuses of defamation. And it is responding to lawsuits from people who say they were assaulted at Trump events, including one from a Missouri man who claimed he was arrested after laughing at a MAGA rally.

Taken together, the cases reflect the legal morass the Trump campaign will face, win or lose, after Nov. 3.

“Even if he loses the election, very little actually ends once Trump leaves the White House in January 2021,” said Bradley Moss, a Washington lawyer whose firm represented former White House aide Cliff Sims, who was the target of a Trump campaign suit for violating a nondisclosure agreement when he published his own White House memoir.

“Litigation Trump has personally brought under his own name or through the campaign, whether it be protecting his tax returns or suing Omarosa, will continue for however long there is money to pay the lawyers,” Moss added.

Trump is not paying the arbitrator in the Manigault (remember her?) case he brought.  If the bills go unpaid, the case could be dismissed.  Trump is paying lawyers through his campaign (maybe where some of that $1 billion went?).  As the money runs out, who pays for all those lawsuits?

Already, the Trump campaign has spent millions of dollars on completed legal work, including helping defend Trump against allegations he worked with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election and on his impeachment trial, during which he was accused of pressuring Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter.

The campaign has also teamed up with the Republican National Committee on more than 40 lawsuits challenging voting rules in states across the country. An RNC official said the official Republican Party is not involved in any non-voting cases.

“We anticipate most of these will be moot after the election, although a few may not be, and we will continue to litigate as necessary,” the official said.

So after the election, who pays for all those lawsuits claiming voter fraud that are going to wind up in the Supreme Court?  Because they aren't going to get there with Trump acting pro se.

"Slow on the leash,
Pallid the leash men!"

Tempests and Teapots

Actually, Trump says "if people call." If he'd included the possessive personal pronoun "my," it would still describe a criminal act. And he speaks extensively of what he could do. The caption to Aaron's tweet isn't misleading, it's perfectly accurate. Why people insist on cleaning up what Trump said remains a mystery to me.  Maybe it's the continuing confusion of speech and act.  Trump loves to speak, but seldom acts.  This is why (redux!) he won't challenge the election outcome and get it to the Supreme Court.  He'll tweet about it, but he won't be able to do it.  Why not?  He doesn't have a Jim Baker on his side.

Jim Baker took the Florida recount to the Supreme Court.  He knew what he was doing, and how to do it.  He was also much smarter (and savvier) than W.  W. was fine with that.  Trump has no Jim Baker on his side because Trump has driven away all the qualified people, and can't stand the thought that there exists anywhere in the land someone smarter than him ("Mirror, mirror, on the wall....").  That's why he loses so often in court and sends his lawyers in with arguments a first-year law student wouldn't try to defend.  (I thought of this watching "Trial of the Chicago 7" when Mitchell sends Schultz to court to try the 7 on conspiracy on a law that's never been used, period, and a conspiracy charge that can't establish all 7 defendants actually talked to each other before reaching Chicago.  In the end they were convicted of inciting a riot, so in a sense Schultz was vindicated.  He was also smart enough to include other charges which had a better chance of success.  Mostly his case was torpedoed by Judge Hoffman.).

Trump may try to go to court in November (on whose dime, I wonder?  I don't think the GOP wants to pay for that, and his campaign is broke.  Where'd the billion dollars go?), but he'll need a cognizable legal argument, not just "FRAUD!"  And he'll certainly grouse on Twitter and in public, but do his complaints constitute Presidential action?  Well, remember when he tweeted "Invoke P!"  Nobody knew what he meant, until he finally explained "P" meant the Defense Production Act.  That was on March 19-20, 2020. He finally employed the DPA on April 2, 2020.  This is the guy who's gonna force the election into the Supreme Court or the House of Representatives?

Not unless we do it for him.

Monday, October 19, 2020

And This Is Perfectly Normal

Trump’s Gonna Walk For Sure

Closing Arguments

I really think this explains what follows (and it might help to be listening to Paul Simon's "Graceland" while you read this. I'm listening to it as I type. Something appropriate about that coincidence.)

Trump is the poster child and the Superspreader-in-Chief for a deeper illness in America. It afflicts men and takes the form of patriarchy and toxic masculinity—a system in which (mostly white) men promiscuously wield their privilege and power to control others.

To counteract his own feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, Trump’s primary defense has long been the grandiose insistence that “Only I can fix it.” It’s a zero-sum game. If he doesn’t “win” in every contest, real or imagined, then he sees himself as a loser. If he isn’t in total control, he feels weak and humiliated. If he isn’t dominating, he is succumbing.

This is what Trump believes it is to be a real man, and from that perspective, his recent behavior makes perfect sense. No disease is going to tell Trump what to do. He treats COVID as just another opponent he must squash—not by bringing the crisis under control for the sake of all citizens, but by minimizing and sneering at it himself. Likewise, no one is going to make him denounce the white supremacists who support him, and no defeat at the polls is going to force him to voluntarily give up the presidency, even if each of these stances make it more likely that he’ll lose the election.

Trump’s lack of empathy and absence of conscience have long given him the license to invent his own rules, define his own reality, defy norms, and break multiple laws. He lies without shame, and the more unacceptable he finds the facts, the more he dissembles. The volume of his lies has increased from five per day in the first year of his presidency, to 23 a day in the spring of this year, and almost certainly much higher during the past several months. In the 18 months that I spent with Trump to write The Art of the Deal, I never once saw him express affection or comfort to anyone, including his three young children. I saw no evidence that he ever had a single true friend.

Now, sensing defeat, Trump is doing what he’s always done under stress: doubling and tripling down on whatever fictional facts he wishes were true. But this time, his brazen tactics have produced exactly what they’re meant to defend against. He looks weaker, more vulnerable, and more out of control than at any time since his election. His poll numbers have plummeted.

Really haven't seen a better description of "toxic masculinity" than that highlighted passage.  Now what's he doing with it as the days darken and the weeks to November 3 run out? 

Projecting like a cineplex. Attacking the people with the megaphone is never a show of strength. Gee, why is that? He probably won't like this one, either: Is it time to talk about "herd immunity" yet? At this point it's safe to say they've given up on the entire country. [Insert "His supporters' lips move when they read" joke here.] I know, but I'm fed up worrying about the feelings of those "snowflakes." Especially when Il Duce is the Criminal-In-Chief.

He's Not Trying To Lose

He's in a round room looking for that corner he was told to piss in.


October Surprise, at last?

Trump-Jungend?

I doubt it.  I also doubt they're that enthusiastic about Biden.  I suspect they just despise Trump.  Works for me.

“In ballots returned before in-person voting opened on Monday, Florida voters under 65 years old accounted for about half the ballots cast, marking a 12-point uptick in their share of the early vote compared to this time in 2016,” CNN.com reported.

Previously, the share of the Florida electorate that is over 65 was as much as 64 percent. Now, they’re just 52 percent. Older voters should be the ones voting by mail and voting early given the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic. But it appears that younger people are the ones turning out instead.

“This boost in early turnout among younger voters may reflect nationwide organizing efforts to mobilize young people to vote early, while seniors in the state may already be accustomed to voting early in previous cycles,” said CNN.

I still expect GOTV efforts to upset polling models and predictions about outcomes. And I'm pretty damned sure they aren't voting for this:
The only surprise there is that he still hasn't learned a thing. then again, why should he? Right, GOP Senators?

Or He's Looking For A Way Out

I'm almost sure they're going to control the microphones so he can't rant and rave again. That brought the whole concept of the "debate" into question.  Will the "Commission" let the concept die on their watch, or act to save it? (Kill it, for all of me; but this would be a matter of pride.) "BDC"? "Deleted her account"? Yeah, he wants to walk.

Pointing and Laughing

Might as well.

Cornyn's Second Chance

Now he can say he was for it before he was secretly against it even as he said he was for it.

At Least They Can Keep Him Off Twitter?

 “A lot of Republican consultants are frustrated because we want the president’s campaign to be laser-focused on the economy,” said David Kochel, a Republican strategist in Iowa. “Their best message is: Trump built a great economy” and Covid-19 damaged it, and Mr. Trump is a better option than Mr. Biden to restore it, he said.

Yeah, about that:

The official unemployment rate at the end of September was 7.9%.

Maybe they just need to keep Trump off the phone:

"Boffo"?  Is he writing for Variety circa 1950?

No idea what he's talking about here: "Boffo"Laptop is devastating"? The bubble is real, man. "Already winning many states, not reported"? He does understand votes aren't tallied until polls close on November 3rd, right?

I'm surprised he didn't mention boat parades. And they clearly aren't keeping him off Twitter.

"I Am Running Against A Corrupt Political Class"

Takes one to know one? What about the kiddie porn? Russian intelligence? Or Russian agitprop? Or pure bullshit? And where's the chain of custody establishing this was Hunter Biden's laptop (and why did he cross the country from California to New Hampshire to leave it with an obscure computer repair shop there? Low taxes?)?  Or just the metadata?

Where's that "opportunity to bring truth" run off to?

On Watching Sorkin’s “Trial of the Chicago 7”


Just the opening scene, when Mitchell forced the prosecution on Schultz, who argues quite reasonably that a criminal conspiracy can’t be made when the conspirators haven’t even met each other. Mitchell’s response is: “Telephones.”

True? Close enough for highway work, as a friend taught me. And I’m struggling again to find the legitimate difference between Mitchell and Barr, and how fragile the Union is now, but not in 1969. Once again, not knowing history, we seem to imagine it only happens now, and all that came before pales in comparison, or wasn't really important.  Well, wars, maybe; but we know how those turned out, so in the end they aren't that important, either.  We really do need to learn from history.

The best scene in the opening montage (setting the time and place for the trial as efficiently as possible) is watching Walter Cronkite describe Chicago in ‘68 as a “police state.” “There isn’t any other way to say it,” he says. He should be better remembered for that. We should also be more aware of what was done to Bobby Seale in this trial.

The funny thing is, I remember thinking of William Kunstler as a wildly radical lawyer. I thought that about him for decades. I guess it was this trial that radicalized him, or gave him that reputation. What’s that saying, that which you oppose, you come to resemble? I think that’s because you see yourself in what you oppose, otherwise why oppose it? Of course, it was years later that I learned to respect Ramsey Clark. Michael Keaton as Mr. Clark makes me respect Ramsey Clark all over again.

There is a scene where Abbie Hoffmann is describing their capture in the riot at the Haymarket Tavern. He describes the Tavern as a place where the 60’s never happened, the '50's inside while outside the 60’s is being enacted. I lived in a Chicago suburb for a year. The sixties still hadn’t happened there in the late ‘90’s. It was still the’50’s there. Literally. It was very strange.

How many in the audience remember Vietnam, or the draft? Narratively, that mention of the draft (the only one in the film) is to emphasize the divide between those who went to war and those like most of the defendants who didn’t (college was the way out). There was a very real class divide that frankly, no one at the time openly acknowledged (with the exception possibly of Mr. Seale, all the defendants were either too old for the draft (Hayden and Dellinger) or had college deferments. Rich kids went to college, working class sons went to war.) You really want Sorkin to stop everything and explain that to an historical certainty? As for the lottery, that’s almost as ancient as impressment (look it up), and as foreign. Yeah, I practically remember my draft number (187, IIRC, in the last year of the draft), but I’d have to explain all of that in great detail to my daughter so it carried the emotional impact it had for me. Just the idea of it is all the movie needs.

Watch the movie, if you can. It’s not history, but it’s entertaining and pretty damned enlightening. 52 years later and we’re still fighting the same fights. Hell, 244 years later and we’re still fighting the same fights.

It’s a helluva show. Too bad it’s not fiction.

I Was Against It...

while I was for it, but it was a double super secret I kept even from myself.

At least until November 4th.

Pat McCrory Was Beating This Dead Horse On MTP Yesterday Morning

Fortunately he brought it up too late and Chuck Todd was able to skip him for one more rational thought from someone else before the show ended.

The best part is Giuliani admitting he peddled the story but found no takers except the Post; and even their people didn't want their names on it.  Giuliani is a sad, broken man pursuing some fame or sense of significance that left him behind decades ago.

You Know Why I Post This One

Now if they just have time to make it into a TeeVee ad.

In 2021?

Or if he loses is he gonna do it in 2020 out of spite?

FRAUD!!!!!!

When he doesn't, he'll claim millions of illegal immigrants voted illegally.  He did it four years ago, and he's spent the last four years trying to get the band back together.  Why not play all the hits he thinks he had back then?  But do we have to hear about his intestinal disorders? That's gotta be what it is, right? TMI, man! TMI! Nevada seems to be where he lost it (again). Wonder if anybody's paying attention anymore?

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Why Not 100,000?

By next week it’ll be 5 million. Why not? He’s absolutely innumerate. He just thinks bigger sounds better.

Once More, With Feeling

Texas doesn’t register voters by party’s, so talk of the record voter registration here is muted. We can’t say what it means, but the cities of Texas are largely blue (it ain’t just Austin anymore, and hasn’t been for years) , and that’s where the early voting is. It’s also unlikely Beto was inspiring large GOP registration.

As for Laredo, etc., all the poor and Hispanic counties in Texas went for Clinton in 2016. They are as staunchly Democratic as any counties in Texas.

The Blue Wave is real.*


*Whole Foods counties are those with major urban areas. 57% of voters in Texas live there.

The Gob She Is Smacked

Cornyn’s opponent (M.J.Hegar) is a women running ads that mention her 2 children.

Maybe not the best analogy, is all I’m saying.

And Photos of Hunter Biden Eating Puppies!

And running over kittens with a lawn mower! While smoking!

Can we bust Giuliani for the kiddie porn that isn’t there?

This is just going to get more pathetic, isn’t it?

In Texas

A lot of Republicans (especially for Federal office) are making no mention of Trump in ads, and are running like they are conservative Democrats. It’s like a time warp and it’s 50 years ago when all politicians in Texas were Democrats.

But the Democrats are not running like Republicans. That’s new, too. So is this:
 Double Super Secret Opposition! So secret even Cornyn just found out about it!

“A dull head among windy spaces “

8 Miles High

I’ll accept the accolade of “most intriguing political state, “ but otherwise this is the view from very high up and very far away. Even the summary of the article misleadingly implies Dallas and Ft. Worth are politically equivalent. They aren’t.

Outside of Fort Worth and the cities of west Texas, the cities of Texas are Democratic. And frankly, there are no major cities in west Texas.  And the shift is not just demographic. People don’t vote based on demography, they vote for persons. This is part of what Beto did in 2018: he gave us someone to vote for. The rest he has done in the last two years.  Balz doesn’t even mention it, but Beto has run a massive voter registration campaign that got 97% of eligible voters registered in Travis County (Austin) and several million voters across Texas. You can upset a lot of predictions, which are after all based on electoral history, by increasing the number of people who can vote.
As of Friday, 27% of registered voters had voted in Denton County (D/FW area), up from 19% for the same period in 2018. Harris County (Houston) jumped from 16% to 21%.  Almost 2 million voters had voted statewide by Friday in Texas’s 10 most populous counties where 57% of registered voters live. Over 20% of voters in those counties have voted. Did I mention Beto has a massive GOTV campaign running?

Can I tell you what this means for November 3rd? No; no one can. I can say Texas is not a red state, it’s a low turnout state. If Trump has changed that it will at least cost the GOP the Capitol in a redistricting year, which will cost them the House for at least a decade. M.J. Hegar is hammering Cornyn on COVID, the stimulus that isn’t, and ACB. That is so new (a Texas Democrat hammering a GOP incumbent, I mean) I’ve never seen it before, and it might work. Turnout is heavy, and the conventional wisdom is that high turnout favors the Democrats. Why else are Republicans so anxious to keep people from voting?

The view from the ground is really much more interesting than from 8 miles high.

World Class Trolling

It Seems To Me a Gross Injustice....

That I can't vote against this guy four or five times. Hasn't he earned it? Don't we deserve that much? Seriously.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Interesting Times

It's no appeal to fame by association to say that I knew Mike Luttig (as he was known then; he became "J. Michael" and I became "Robert M." Such are the vagaries of adulthood).*  I went to school, from 2nd grade through 11th, with him in Tyler, Texas. 2nd grade because he's almost exactly a year older than me, putting me a year ahead in school.  He's as far to the right as I am to the left, no surprise (on his part) as he grew up in Tyler and clearly has been a life-long Republican (I wonder if he switched as Texas went from one-party Democratic to one-party Republican.  Probably, but who knows?)  I looked him up on Wiki to be sure it was the same guy (just double checking memory), and I found this, which I didn't know:

Luttig's father, John Luttig, was fatally shot in 1994 in a carjacking by Napoleon Beazley, who, at the time of the crime, was a seventeen-year-old minor.  Luttig testified in the sentencing portion of the trial, providing testimony supporting imposition of the death penalty.  Beazley was convicted, condemned to death, and eventually executed after twice appealing to the Supreme Court, where Justices Antonin Scalia, David Souter, and Clarence Thomas recused themselves because of past associations with Luttig. Scalia recused himself because Luttig had clerked for him, and Justices David Souter and Clarence Thomas recused themselves because Luttig led the George H. W. Bush Administration's efforts to gain the Senate's confirmation for them.

I note that not for the murder (which is a terrible thing, made worse because it was adjacent to a car theft), but because so many justices recused themselves from the appeals of the death penalty Luttig testified in support of.  (I am also anti-death penalty, but offer no judgment on his actions in this matter.)  I understand the need to recuse in those appeals; what I wonder is how that would apply to any appeal to the Court in November or December by Trump on an electoral challenge, where Justice (?) ACB would be concerned.

I'm not well versed in this area of law (or any area of law by now; I haven't practiced in 30 years), but Luttig's summary of that "2009 Supreme Court ruling" is interesting:

Caperton involved a litigant who spent $3 million to help elect a West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals justice, who then voted to reverse a $50 million damage award against his benefactor. The U.S. Supreme Court found that the judge should have recused himself. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said that recusal may be constitutionally required even where a judge is not actually biased, if there is a “serious risk of actual bias.”
The appearance of conflict of interest would, I thought, have been the key in this ruling.  Maybe it was, and Luttig's analysis is ill-advised.  I can't say.  But the language he quotes here is about a "serious risk of actual bias."  This kind of risk, the majority held, requires by the Constitution a recusal from the case by a federal judge.  My understanding is that Supreme Court justices don't like recusal being forced on them (by whom, among other problems?) and would chafe at the idea the Constitution holds that recusal can be required.  I tend to agree with Scalia (!), at least as Luttig quotes him:

Justice Antonin Scalia, while criticizing the majority for constitutionalizing the judge’s recusal decision “in a manner ungoverned by any discernable rule,” wrote that “in the best of all possible worlds, [judges should] sometimes recuse [themselves] even where the clear commands” of the Constitution don’t require it.

But that's the basic idea of recusal:  whether required or not (and who would require it of a Justice?  The Chief Justice?  That role is a title, not a superior office or even first among equals.  After all, who tells the Chief Justice to recuse?).  And there may be opinions that have established a Constitutional standard for recusal; but even such standards are subject to interpretation because, again, who tells a Justice they must recuse?  Would the rest of the Court ever take such extraordinary action?  It would shatter the comity of the Court, and not to the advantage of the nation.

Luttig's analysis returns to grounds I thought more important to such an analysis (which doesn't make him right on this point, it just fits my understanding better);

The question for Barrett, if it arises, will not be whether she personally believes she can be fair in deciding an election case but, rather, whether a reasonable person would conclude that her impartiality would be inescapably overborne by the flood of influences brought to bear on her.

The "reasonable person" is an old legal standard from English common law.  It's not, except by implication and history, a Constitutional standard.  That doesn't mean it's opposed by the Constitution, but in the context of a Constitutional requirement to recuse, I want to clarify that point for the non-lawyers.

Luttig makes things a bit clearer, at least for me, and answers my question (or not?) about why and when Justices recuse:

Among these pressures are her nomination, due to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, little more than a month before the election, the unavoidable fact that Barrett would be deciding the political fate of the president who nominated her only weeks ago, and President Trump’s ill-timed calls for Barrett’s swift confirmation so that she can be seated in time to decide the election cases. These bludgeoning pressures alone are at once singular and unprecedented, unsurpassed and quite possibly unsurpassable in their magnitude. By comparison, the pressures believed put on the West Virginia judge in Caperton pale.

But while Caperton would seem to apply to Barrett’s decision with proverbial vengeance, only the Supreme Court knows whether this precedent applies so as to require her recusal from the 2020 presidential election cases. And only Barrett will know whether, in Scalia’s words, even if Caperton may not require her recusal, it counsels that recusal.

So could the 8 formally tell the 1 to step away from this one?  I honestly don't know.  Then again, peer pressure is a powerful thing; maybe they just need to drop a few hints in chambers to the newest member.

Judge Luttig says ACB was justified in not answering the question of whether she would recuse from any election related cases involving Trump.  Sen. Whitehouse begs to differ, and offers his analysis of Caperton which is different only in emphasis from the outcome the Judge reaches.  It's worth quoting more than a few lines:

In 2009’s Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Company, the Supreme Court considered whether the Constitution’s guarantee of due process required West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin to recuse himself from an appeal of a $50 million judgment entered against a coal company. Benjamin joined the bench after the coal company’s chief executive spent $3 million to help Benjamin win election to the court. The plaintiffs sought Benjamin’s recusal, but he refused, insisting he wasn’t biased. He then cast the deciding vote to overturn the jury’s verdict against the coal company.

The Supreme Court ruled that Benjamin’s participation in the case violated due process. “Just as no man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, similar fears of bias can arise when — without the consent of the other parties — a man chooses the judge in his own cause,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote. Isn’t that just what would be happening here?

Because of the potential for bias, the Constitution demands recusal here, too, under the factors the court applied in Caperton: Trump had “disproportionate influence” over Barrett’s selection. He has a “personal stake” in any case.

Finally, those disputes are “imminent”; they could already be pending, or filed days after Barrett takes office. This “imminence” requirement is critical. Unlike the nominations of Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, Trump and Republicans are today talking openly of the court settling the 2020 election, and Republicans are fast-tracking Barrett’s confirmation to beat Election Day.

No one admitted in Caperton that the campaign contributions were made specifically to help the coal company’s case. Here, the president actually announced he’s hoping Barrett will help him keep the presidency by ruling for him in any election dispute.

The White House is resisting calls for Barrett’s recusal, saying that would somehow compromise her “judicial independence.” But that’s not the actual constitutional precedent; and it overlooks that judicial nominees — including Barrett — commonly commit to recusals in their committee questionnaires.

I think just in terms of argument Sen. Whitehouse makes the better case; but Judge Luttig would not disagree with the result, even if he wrote a concurring opinion, rather than joined the Senator's.

May you live in...well, I don't know.  I think the times have been interesting enough for awhile.


*then again, I once worked for a lawyer who is now a sitting Federal judge and who has handed down some rulings I'm quite proud of him for (the 5th Circuit, on the other hand, has reversed him on those, being a frightfully ideological cabal).  He's a Republican appointed by W., which tells you a lot about the 5th Circuit.  And I owned a chair for many years of my early married life once owned by Judge Wayne Justice, the judge famous in Texas for desegregating the Tyler schools and forcing Texas to reform it's antiquated and antediluvian prison system.  He was probably the most hated man in Tyler (where he lived) for years.  I have my connections to legal fame.  I just don't parade them about. [insert smart-aleck emoticon here]

Again: Thread

It is both brief and assertive and, IMHO, perfectly valid in its conclusions. Saying Trump is corrupt based on his public actions is not the same thing as saying he's guilty of crimes (which can only be said after a jury trial or a guilt plea is entered in a court of competent jurisdiction). But Agnew was corrupt: And so was Nixon. The only difference is, Agnew pled guilty, and Nixon was pardoned.

Trump is corrupt.  EOD.

We Aren’t All Stupid

But we might as well be.

“Is This How Stupid We Are Now?”

No, not we. Some of us, though. There are always some of us stupid enough. The rest of us are only stupid when we leave the credulous minority in control. Of course there are those we don’t think of as stupid, but who are equally credulous, and think deficits are evil, “big” government is bad, and government run like a business is the best of all. Oh, and that things and ideas matter more than people.

Stupid is as stupid does.

That said, David Frum is right: the thread is worth reading.

They Remind Me Of Cults...

...throughout history predicting the end of the world or the fall of their oppressors and the triumph of their total victory, only to be disappointed time and again.

If memory serves, JFK, Jr. was supposed to reveal himself on the Mall in 2019 during Trump’s 4th of July rally. Sadly, the dead are truly and finally dead, and really should be left to Rest In Peace.

I Think He’s Running Against

...his record.

Is He Trying To Motivate Us?

Because, it's working.

Chronicling The Decline

Friday, October 16, 2020

Holy Crap These Guys Are Good

Let's see if we can end the day there.

Following Up On What I Said Last Night

Bellowing Into The Void

I can see where this might work in rural areas. Then again, rural areas aren’t known for the plenitude of billboards. And if Texas is any indication, the cities are voting in record numbers.

And that’s where the people are; and the “sanctuaries.”

"Big Mo!"*

Is anybody else seeing the elevator from "The Shining" spewing blood and carrying the furniture away on the tide? Yeah, about that: Winning hearts and minds; refusing aid for wildfires. He went on for twice as long as you did. He got a bigger audience. He was reassuring and avuncular, you were arguing with Savannah Guthrie. The only upside for you is that fewer people saw this than probably should have:


*ask your grandfather!  Punks!