"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Monday, June 01, 2020

Round 'em up!

"I might have others, but I can't think of them right now."

Later that same day:

And then they laughed at Trump's mighty sword? Where are the thousands of troops to sweep them off the streets?

Will Trump send "thousands" of U.S. troops to Virginia tomorrow?  Will water run uphill?  Stay tuned.

I thought that was a given, like George Floyd died of asphyxiation, not heart problems.

To Trump, we are all props and playthings.


I take it back.  They will be sending federal troops to Virginia tomorrow.

Who put a spine in the Old Grey Lady?

So that call to the governors went well, eh?

The question answers itself, doesn't it?  I wasn't going to close with this, but I think now it's the right thing to do.  Go read what George Will said; and be aware I don't expect to ever tell you to do that again, so long as I live, world without end, amen.

How Trump's "Orders" in his speech today are likely to go down

And the church he walked to?  It's not a prop, or a national monument.  It's a church, with a pastor and real people with real compassion.

At what cost?

By the way, Trump in the Rose Garden tonight pretty much called for what Sen. Cotton has been calling for:

Trump at least thinks that's what he's going to get.  He pretty clearly said if the looting doesn't stop, the shooting starts.  He warned that "thousands" of "heavily armed soldiers" will be dispersed in D.C. (bullshit, as I said earlier).  Oh, and his emphasis, which no one is noting yet, on protecting our "2nd Amendment rights."  As if life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and equal protection of the laws, and due process, and freedom of speech and assembly, were secondary to the right to keep and bear arms.  Truly he thinks from that right all others flow.  Or more likely he doesn't think at all, he just knows a hot button and when to push it.

And still the question remains:  how does he plan to pull this off?  Sign an EO and retreat to the bunker for another night?  Turn the lights off so nobody can see the fortress he's in?  What a pitiful excuse for a President he is.

Remember how long it took him to finally and actually "invoke 'P'!"?  Invoking the Insurrection Act will take even longer.  Actually implementing it will be an act beyond his ability.  Which doesn't mean it won't be bad.

Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming

So the response is?

No, they wanted to clear the way for the Emperor:

140 cities, with protests in (I'm gonna say) 49 out of 50 states.  20 of those states have already deployed the National Guard.  So what's the plan for tomorrow night, Mr. President?

Wait, maybe they aren't:

And that's just D.C.  The 140 other cities; what about them? Meanwhile:

How many of those protesters between the White House and the church were engaged in violence when they were hit with tear gas and flash bang grenades?

But first, the real question:  is there a plan to deploy troops in all 50 states?  It isn't clear there's even a plan to deploy MP's in D.C., even though Trump said "thousands and thousands" of troops would impose order on the city, while the DOD says 250 MP's are coming from Ft. Bragg, but with no mission yet.  What's the plan, then?  "Get 'em!"?

In a variation on the old military line, belligerence is not a plan, either.

And the hint at Kent State in the title was not an accident.  If Trump carries out his threat to invoke "I", he won't be able to say it's the governors' fault when things get worse:

No shit, Sherlock.  Whatever happens, the pain will fall on we, the people, and it may be November before we can do anything about it.  In the meantime, the caption to this picture says it all:
Yeah, that's very apparent.

Meanwhile, back in the courtroom

This brief is why some people publicly (but not in court) argued that Sullivan shouldn't be able to hire a lawyer to represent him on the writ of mandamus application filed by Flynn's lawyers.  The brief is just that damned good.

But you'd have to be a lawyer to appreciate it, so let me take just the opening statement, which doesn't bristle with legal citations, to show you what I mean:

It is unusual for a criminal defendant to claim innocence and move to withdraw his guilty plea after repeatedly swearing under oath that he commit- ted the crime. It is unprecedented for an Acting U.S. Attorney to contradict the solemn representations that career prosecutors made time and again, and undermine the district court’s legal and factual findings, in moving on his own to dismiss the charge years after two different federal judges accepted the defendant’s plea.

So, start by stating the obvious; but also, framing the narrative.  But if there is precedent for this action by the DOJ, let them bring it forward.  That entire second sentence is simply the argument of this brief in, well....brief.  I aspire to teach my composition students to understand an introductory paragraph and how to use it this well.

These reversals presented Judge Sullivan with several substantial questions. Was he required to grant the government’s post-plea motion to dismiss, and reverse his findings that Mr. Flynn’s false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russia were material, without any inquiry into the facts set forth in, and surrounding, the government’s filing? What implications would dismissal have on Mr. Flynn’s separate false statements to the Department of Justice about his work for Turkey, which were part of his plea agreement but not addressed in the government’s motion? Do the facts here provide reason to question the “presumption of regularity” that ordinarily attaches to prose- cutorial decisions, United States v. Fokker Servs. B.V., 818 F.3d 733, 741 (D.C. Cir. 2016)? And what, if anything, should Judge Sullivan do about Mr. Flynn’s sworn statements to the court, where he repeatedly admitted to the crime and to the voluntariness of his guilty plea, only to now claim that he never lied to the government and was pressured and misled into pleading guilty? Because the parties before him now support the same relief, Judge Sullivan turned to an approach used by federal courts across the country, as well as district courts in this Circuit: He appointed an amicus to present counterarguments, and set a briefing schedule giving the government and Mr. Flynn the last word.

Again, framing the narrative, but also casting the actions of Sullivan as both fair and reasonable, and in the interests of justice.  Or, as they put it in the next paragraph but one, citing the governments own brief:  "Rule 48 does not require Judge Sullivan to serve as a mere rubber stamp."

The question before this Court is whether it should short-circuit this process, forbid even a limited inquiry into the government’s motion, and order that motion granted. The answer is no. Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy that should be denied where the district court has not actually decided anything. The government’s motion is pending before Judge Sullivan and could well be granted, so Mr. Flynn can obtain the exact relief he seeks through ordinary judicial process.

Mandamus is the root of our word "mandate."  It is an order of a superior court directing an inferior court to take certain actions because it has acted in error.   It is commonly used where an interlocutory appeal is appropriate, as when a court has taken action injurious to the moving party, before a final order in the case has been entered.  Flynn is, basically, seeking an order from the Appellate court directing the trial court to enter a final order, an order of dismissal.  The basic argument in this paragraph (but not the only one in the brief) is that it's too early for a mandamus action, that Flynn may yet get what he wants and until he does, the Appellate Court has nothing to do here.  Which is almost a jurisdictional argument (lack of jurisdiction cuts off anything a court can be asked to do, or try to do); the fact it isn't the primary or strongest argument in this brief tells you something about this brief.  But it's a point they pick up again two paragraphs later:

Mr. Flynn’s case has garnered considerable attention. But that is no reason to resolve it outside the normal judicial process. This is a “court of review, not of first view.” Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709, 718 n.7 (2005). The questions presented should be resolved by the district court in the first instance. If Judge Sullivan’s decision is anything short of what the parties sought, this Court will have an opportunity to review it, without writing on a blank slate.

There's been a lot of chaff around the facts of this case.  As presented in this brief, Flynn was charged with lying to the FBI about the phone calls with the Russian Ambassador, and to the DOJ about the work he'd done for Turkey without registering as a foreign agent.  He pled guilty to the former, so he wouldn't face charges on the latter.  Flynn went through an examination of the evidence and charges against him in court twice, and both times entered a guilty plea.

The brief on the facts of the case is worth reading, if only to see how thoroughly mendacious Flynn's defense is.  He has filed a sworn affidavit that contradicts every statement he made before Sullivan, under oath, in accepting his guilty plea, and he challenges the court record implicitly by claiming he was hastened into a guilty plea, when the record shows Sullivan gave Flynn multiple chances to not enter the plea.  And the thing, this isn't a matter of dueling facts and questions of fact:  everything Flynn said on the record under oath in open court, he now says he didn't say, didn't mean, or didn't understand what his words meant.  Flynn is only arguing with himself, in other words.  The power of that argument on the appellate level, though, is this, and goes back to that "blank slate" comment:  the trial court is the trier of facts.  When facts are in dispute, a finder of fact must sort true from false, and that finding cannot be disputed by an appellate court.  The appellate court can review a finding of law, an application of evidentiary rules, a decision even on an objection to a question:  but it cannot overrule the finder of fact and find its own set of facts.  Sullivan's argument here is that the final finding of facts has not been made, and until it is, the trial record is incomplete.  An incomplete trial record cannot be subject to a mandamus to dismiss that case.  In fact, doing so would be almost inherently improper on the part of the appellate court.

And as for the state of the record right now, or Judge Sullivan's duties as a judge:

The motions to withdraw the guilty plea have not been decided. Judge Sullivan has yet to receive any declarations from Mr. Flynn’s prior counsel; question Mr. Flynn under oath about the withdrawal, see Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(d)(2)(B); or assess his credibility regarding the claims in his declaration.
And then the brief addresses the legal questions of the case; which I could explain to you, but by the time I did that would make a lawyer of you, and that would kill you.  So thank me for sparing you that; although the last paragraph of the brief bears repeating:

Week after week, this Court addresses all manner of legal questions aided by factfinding and legal analysis from the able district judges in this Circuit. In this unusual case, one of those long-tenured judges appointed an amicus to enhance his ability to perform those precise tasks in the near future. Because our judicial system is premised on the notion that adversarial presentation of the issues leads to better decisions, and because no decisions have yet been made, the Court should holster the “potent weapon[]” of mandamus, Will v. United States, 389 U.S. 90, 107 (1967), and allow Judge Sullivan to evaluate the government’s motion to dismiss in the first instance.
Believe me, that's good stuff!

I Take This As Confirmation the Bunker has a Commissary

...or at least a hamburger grill.

Another Way

Well, there you go.  How many more nights of rioting in Minneapolis will this provoke?

I added that to this post; and then I thought about it again, and want to add this, and shift directions:

George Floyd’s brother Terrence led protesters in a tearful prayer at the makeshift memorial that has been set up at the site of his brother’s death in Minneapolis.

He begged the crowd for calm as protesters around the world have marched in solidarity with those demanding justice.

Linking arms with friends and family, Mr. Floyd shouted down the crowd asking, “what are y’all doing?” Saying that breaking down businesses and setting things on fire isn’t going to bring his brother back. He explained that he’s more upset than anyone, but “if I’m not wilding out” others shouldn’t either.

“My family is a peaceful family. My family is God-fearing. Yeah, we’re upset, but we’re not going to be repetitious,” he continued. “In every incident of police brutality, the same thing ends up happening. Y’all protest. Y’all destroy stuff. And if they don’t move — you know why they don’t move? Because you don’t destroy their stuff, y’all destroy our own stuff.”

He asked the crowd for “another way.”
Consider the wisdom of that, while our leadership is talking about "dominating" the "battlespace."

There is a video of Mr. Floyd's remarks at the link.

How The People Do It

George Floyd was from Houston.  This is what people in Houston did yesterday to honor him.

More on this here.

The Hole Just Goes Deeper

Gee, I wonder where all this police violence is coming from?

Yes, it's as bad as you think.

And when you think the reports can't get any worse:

Where is this "battlespace" exactly? Downtown Dallas? Lake Street in Minneapolis? Lafayette Park? Brooklyn? And "the right normal"?  You mean when blacks know their place and die quietly at the hands of white police officers?

By the way:  foreign protest good!  Domestic protest bad!

And if you have an hour to kill:

"If it weren't for those meddling lawyers!"

Which reads in relevant part:

The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both, or by any other means, shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it—

(1) so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or

(2) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.
Start with the first part:  "so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection;"

Well, there is no "right, privilege, immunity or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law" about having your business looted or burned (yes, it is illegal, but under state law) nor by the burning of police cars or by people massing in the streets.  Even if there was, are the "constituted authorities of the State...unable, failing], or refus[ing] to protect [any such] right, privilege, or immunity"?  In the several states where marches and violence are happening?  Do we have a large enough military for that?   And is the President willing to declare so many states failures?


Is the course of justice being impeded if the State in question (which one, again?) doesn't arrest as many people as the POTUS thinks they should?  That doesn't really go to the second clause, because that clause references "the laws of the United States."  Are the FBI and U.S. Marshals unable to do their jobs in those states because of the marches and the violence?

This law doesn't have the scope Trump and some in the White House (or outside of it; Tom Cotton is salivating for it, too) think it does.  Although I await the inevitable Presidential tweet:  "INVOKE 'I'!"


“It’s been inflammatory, and it’s not OK for that officer to choke George Floyd to death but we have to call for calm. We have to have police reform called for. We’ve called out our National Guard and our State Police, but the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House is making it worse,” [Illinois Governor J.B.] Pritzker said. “And I need to say that people are feeling real pain out there. And we’ve got to have national leadership in calling for calm and making sure that we’re addressing the concerns of the legitimate peaceful protestors. That will help us to bring order.”

Trump responded, “OK, well thank you very much, J.B. I don’t like your rhetoric very much either because I watched your response to coronavirus, and I don’t like your rhetoric either. I think you could have done a much better job, frankly.”

The president also said the country needs “law and order.”

Do we need a President hiding in a bunker with the lights off, telling everybody else to get tough?

“We’re strongly looking for arrests,” Trump said on the teleconference call with Attorney General William Barr and Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also on the line, according a source familiar with his remarks. Trump said he fully agreed with the way Minneapolis Gov. Tim Walz handled protests over the last few days.

“We got a lot of men. We have all the men and women that you need. But people aren’t calling them up. You have to dominate,” Trump said. “If you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”

“And you have to arrest people and you have to try people and they have to go to jail for a long periods of time,” Trump said.
“It’s going to get worse and worse just like Occupy Wall Street. It was a disaster,” Trump said, adding “one day, they just said that’s enough and they just went and wiped them out.”
“And after that, everything was beautiful and that was the last time we heard about it,” he said.


“They’re anarchists, whether you like it or not. I know some of you guys have a different persuasion and it’s OK, I fully understand. I understand. I’m for everybody. I represent everybody. I’m not representing radical right, radical left. I’m representing everybody. But you have to know what you’re dealing with and it’s happened before. It’s happened numerous times.


Despite fires set ablaze during protests and looters smashing stores with baseball bats on Sunday, he said “Washington was under very good control and we’re going to have it under more control.”

“We’re going to pull in thousands of people,” he said.

“But you’ve got to arrest people. You have to try people. You have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff,” Trump said. And you have to let them know that. They’re trying to get people out on bail in Minneapolis. I understand they’re in there trying to get all these guys out on bail.”

Kerosene.  Fire.

No, really? Unhinged?

Turn the lights out again?

And Then There is Our Former President

Brave, Brave Sir Robin Crawled out of his bunker

Because somebody's got to be "in charge," and it sure can't be the POTUS!  Right?

Surveillance for thee, but not for me!

This Fish is Rotting Rapidly

And we'd do it, too, if not for that meddling "rule of law!"

What are the rules for the use of force? Does looting justify shooting? 

No. Federal military forces responding to civil unrest comply with Standing Rules for the use of Force (SRUF). These rules are generally less permissive than Standing Rules of Engagement (SROE) that the military uses in operational environments overseas and more traditional military missions. Both sets of rules are promulgated via the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and tailored to the individual mission. To be sure, these rules governing the use of force are policy guidance, but they reflect the complex strategic, legal, and morality issues that are in play whenever the U.S. military uses force on our own soil.

Kill 'em all!  Teach 'em a lesson!  Right, Senator?  Bring in a few helicopter gunships to soften 'em up, then drop paratroopers firing as they land right in the middle of 'em!

What's that Orwell quote?

Two college friends are former prosecutors and commented after having read the charging documents. The first said the charging document looked like it had been written by the defense with all kinds of holes big enough to drive a truck through. The second was stunned that they only charged 3rd degree and manslaughter given the facts alone from the first video. The first also read the initial autopsy report and said it was also deeply problematic, having statements that Floyd died of something else, there could have been contributions from intoxicants when there was no toxicology results yet. His take was the prosecutor and coroner were helping set up an acquittal. There is much more broken here than Chauvin and the three other (former) officers.

About what's the hardest thing to see is what's right in front of your nose?

I find it easy to accept vicious police officers reacting with excessive violence to a large black man.

I don't mean to excuse that violence.  I only mean I've come to accept it happens, and it is reprehensible.  But DA's and coroners joining in the conspiracy?  That part I still have trouble wrapping my head around.

Maybe I should give a bit more deference to the wisdom of the crowd.  And look more carefully at what's at the end of my nose.


Well, there you go.  How many more nights of rioting in Minneapolis will this provoke?

I'm not going to get tired of this anytime soon

Meanwhile, context:

Looks a lot like "premeditation" to me

To recap:

Yeah, how did that work out?

Trump spent that night in the bunker below the White House.  The next night, he retreated to the bunker again, and turned the lights off.
But before that, and during the day when it was safe, he found someone to blame for all this:
And got his AG to join the chorus:
The answer to that question is:  "No."

75 U.S. cities experience protest marches and violence.  Trump manages to notice three of them.  And even his advisors don't take the "Antifa" line seriously:

Nor do his former allies:
Not that there won't be some serious bullshit swirling around this election:
But does anybody really expect this guy to inspire armed insurrection when he doesn't win in November?  The strongest thing he's done this week is suggest his supporters rally 'round the White House.  And they aren't real inspired by his leadership.

And then there's that "thin blue line" in the middle

Those "legitimate problems" include where this all started:
And how it's being handled:
This is a reminder of who should be in charge:

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

“Many are asking the president to give an Oval Office address on these riots because our country is just experiencing so much chaos right now,” Fox News co-host Ainsley Earhardt wondered.

“The president has addressed this repeatedly,”[White House Press Secretary Kayleigh] McEnany replied. “The first day he saw this video he addressed the horrific death of George Floyd. He’s addressed the issue of law and order in our streets.”

“But here’s the thing, Ainsley, a national Oval Office address is not going to stop Antifa,” she added. “What’s going to stop Antifa is action. And this president is committed to acting on this.”

"Is it safe?"

Well, the sun came up, and look what came out:

Plus hiding in the White House and turning off the lights?

Don't worry; we won't forget.

"Turn out the lights, the party's over!"

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Coward in Chief

Interesting problem: does he understand he needs to respond to a problem that involves other people, not just him? Everything just swirls down the drain of dis self-concern, doesn’t it?
Brave, brave Sir Robin:
Of course he did. Living in a fortress is not enough. He’s got to go to the nuclear bunker. Because people outside are yelling things, and he might hear them.

The Hunting of the Snipe

That would be this guy (from Trump's twitter feed);

And here's what Axios said:

As recently as Saturday night, senior administration officials told me that the designation of a violent cohort of far-left activists, antifa, as a terrorist organization was not being seriously discussed at the White House. But that was Saturday.

Behind the scenes: The situation changed dramatically a few hours later, after prominent conservative allies of the president, such as his friend media commentator Dan Bongino, publicly urged a tough response against people associated with antifa (short for "anti-fascist").

A senior White House official told me that on Sunday morning, President Trump discussed the move with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Attorney General Bill Barr. 
Then, at 12:23pm, Trump tweeted: "The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization  
Yes, but: There currently is no law under which Trump could formally designate antifa, a loosely defined and domestic movement, as a terrorist organization. Only the State Department can designate foreign groups as terrorist organizations.

Mark Bray, author of "Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook," wrote of Trump's tweet: "To explain a little: it's like calling bird-watching an organization. Yes, there are bird-watching organizations as there are Antifa organizations but neither bird-watching nor antifa is an organization."

About an hour after Trump's tweet, Barr said in a statement that antifa protesters were engaged in domestic terrorism.

"To identify criminal organizers and instigators, and to coordinate federal resources with our state and local partners, federal law enforcement is using our existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces."

"The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly."

In other words, they're chasing shadows and hunting snipe and generally carrying on as if someone had stolen the tarts, while 75 cities burn and roil and the people scream for justice.  Pretty much justifies this observation:

Where is Donald?

Nixon slipped out of the White House one night to talk to anti-war protestors and others on the Mall.

Where is Donald?

Oh.  Clearly not where the people are:

I'm only sorry I'm not in Minneapolis.  Seems like a good reason to break social distancing.

A Really Stupid and Futile Gesture

A) Does he understand the National Guard are under control of state governors?
B) Does he care about the other 75 cities where protests have been staged?
C) Are the National Guard there to protect us from the police?

Do not tell me again about people setting fires and otherwise protesting "improperly."  I don't wanna hear it.
And in lieu of actually doing anything:

And soon after the Black Panthers, the Weather Underground, the SDS, and the Symbionese Liberation Army!

I'm so glad Twitter regards this stuff as a public service:

He doesn't know what the word means; he does know how to do it.

The future isn't over yet.

Finally, a real public service.

"Largely" is hiding a really big elephant in the room, and not very successfully.

I blame Antifa.  And outside agitators!

Let us now praise decent men.

And is Trump looking out the window?

I love ya, Mags, but the war wasn't over in '69, and the violence on the streets in America didn't end in 1970 either. Nixon was visiting anti-war protestors on the Mall in his first term, for pity's sake.  And his re-election platform was a "secret plan to end the war." The National Guard murders (I have my opinions) at Kent State were May 4, 1970.  And later, the terrorism in the '70's, a continuation of the political violence of the late '60's, was dwarfed only by 9/11, and throughout most of the '70's Americans took it as much in stride as the weather.

Things were different, then.

Ox. Gored.

Sure they are.

Which came first?

Do we blame the people for being out of control?  Or the police for being out of control?

My money is on the latter.  Sure, blame is a useless exercise and tit for tat for tit for tat is an endless regression with no clear starting point; but the whole point of "law and order" is "order," and you quite honestly don't get that at the end of a billy club, from a can of tear gas, or via the bumper of a car.

"I and the school children know/What everyone must learn/Those to whom violence is done/Do violence in return."  Everybody's (mis)quoting Yeats these days; I prefer Auden for the occasion.

Yes, people running wild in the streets are responsible for their actions, just as the police are responsible for throwing gasoline on those actions, rather than water.  This fire is being put out with kerosene, from the White House down to the street level.  I don't care how many people are on the streets in how many cities:  the police have an obligation, a duty, a mission, to maintain order on those streets.

Not to meet crowds with greater escalations of violence as a way of beating the people into submission.  This isn't nearly so much on the people, as it is on the state, on the police, on the officials who are supposed to protect us, but seem to think that "protection" means bashing us in the head to satisfy their inability to cope; just like the President's.

I'm tired of reading tweets berating the people for the violence.  I blame the police.  They are the ones who need to be held to account first.  In New York City police were taping over their badge numbers:

Gee, I wonder why?

Is America great again yet?