Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What Ted Cruz Is Afraid Of

We send Cruz to D.C. to get him out of Texas. (And considering what Beto is doing for voter registration and turnout, we got the better end of that deal. The GOP may wish Cruz lost in 2018 before this year is out.)

Nope, No Racism Here!


Concluding Unscientific Post-Mortem

Hey! Trump didn't shoot Medgar Evers! How can he be a racist, huh? So now his staff want somebody other than Trump at the next debate? Exactly. Credit, after all, where credit is due. Biden's been doin' this a bit longer than Trump (a bit longer than Hillary, too). Yeah, about that: Well, that was 2 years ago: What have you done to us lately?

The Cure for Rank (and largely uninformed) Speculation Is...

....actual knowledge. Ladies and gentlemen, Professor Laurence Tribe, et al.

Let The Games Begin!

I know people who changed the channel last night because the "debate" was such a shitshow. Even Chris Wallace agrees it was out of hand and out of his control.

If the Trump campaign wants it a little bit louder, and then louder still, and a little bit worse, and then worser still, I have but one response:


This Is My Shocked Face

All I want to know is: how did the Republic survive this long after such allegations?

"Law and Order"

Trump last night:

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," Trump said after Biden named the far-right group. "But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left."

Yeah; the problem is on the "left."

Wray said the FBI sees the left-wing anti-fascist movement known as Antifa “as more of an ideology or a movement than an organization,” though some domestic terrorism investigations target those who self-identify with the Antifa movement.

And he said the FBI has seen individuals who identified with the Antifa movement “coalescing regionally into what you might describe as small groups or nodes. And we are actively investigating the potential violence from those regional nodes, if you will.”

Some Republican lawmakers have called for investigations into Antifa and its funding in connection to arsons and riots that were spurred during demonstrations that started in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests. The FBI has not identified Black Lives Matter “in any way,” Wray said.

Boogaloos is considered a right-leaning, anti-government movement that started online and reportedly has connections to white supremacy and advocating for a second civil war. Wray said Boogaloos, like Antifa, is more of a movement or an ideology than a group itself.

Self-identifying members of Boogaloos have been charged in connection with the shooting death of a federal agent in California, as well as providing support from Minnesota to Hamas, a militant Islamic Palestinian nationalist movement, lawmakers and Wray said.

“I think one of the things that a lot of people don't understand about people who subscribe to this sort of Boogaloo thinking is that their main focus is just dismantling, tearing down government, and they're less clear on what it is they think they're going to replace government with,” Wray said. “I'm not even sure they would all agree with each other.”

And Stand By?

His ignorance is his defense.  Biden identified them as a white supremacist group because Trump can't denounce white supremacists, he needs a group name (he asked for one repeatedly), and then all he can do is tell them "Stand down and stand by."

Which is not quite the same thing as "I repudiate thee and all thy works."

I kinda long for the old days when politicians offered non-denial denials and less than ringing repudiations or endorsements and journalists could parse their statements in a way that would make a writer of midrash envious.  Now Trump just says it out loud and all the journalists can do is say "well, he said that, too."

Because, you know, "objective."  As in:  Trump never shows up in public in white robes and white hood, so he's not "objectively" a racist.

I'll retire to Bedlam....

I'm A Little Confused

“He did what I expected him to do last night. He announced what he was going to do,” Biden said from the podium. “I think the phrase was, ‘Now I can become really vicious,’ I think that was his phrase at some point. Look, last night reinforced to me why I got in this race in the first place.”

Biden then referenced Trump as an anti-American treasure.

“Trump’s constant disregard and unwillingness to speak to COVID and the fact that 205,000 people have already died and over 7 million are infected and it’s likely to get worse – he didn’t want to talk about it at all,” Biden said. “In terms of election legitimacy, he made it clear he didn’t think this was going to be – if he lost – it wouldn’t a legitimate election. He’s already began to plant seeds of doubt in the legitimacy of this election. No other president [has] ever done that before.”

Biden continued, “And his dog whistle to white supremacy, when asked if he’d condemn white supremacy, he said he didn’t say a word, and then when I said, ‘Well, how about the Proud Boys?’ which is a white supremacy group, he said, ‘Well, I just told them to stand down and stand ready.’ Stand down and stand ready based on the outcome of the election? And last night, I think, was a wake-up call for all Americans.”

Biden said he tried speaking directly to the camera and to the American people throughout the debate.

“Trump has no plans, no ideas,” Biden said.

I've read a number of commentaries now on the "debate" last night (these things aren't "debates" at all, but anyway....), and they all seem determined to be even-handed about what Trump did and how Biden responded.  I have to say, I especially appreciate all the concerned white people who think Trump's fervid embrace of white supremacism isn't really that big a deal:

To the extent that there was a substantive headline, it was Trump’s refusal to disavow white supremacy—after, it should be noted, claiming that he has been great for African-Americans—and his continued campaign to undermine public confidence in the upcoming election by baselessly asserting that ballots will be interfered with. “This is not going to end well,” he said, of the election, showing once again that his plan is to attack the very idea of voting itself. He then repeated it, as if for emphasis. “This is not going to end well.” It sure sounded like a threat.

"To the extent that there was a substantive headline"?????  I would just adopt the remarks of Mr. Jones, and leave it at that.  I get that Biden didn't stay "above the fray" against Trump, but if he had, wouldn't we be doubting his seriousness and moral fibre right now?  And frankly, only one person on that debate stage was "unpresidential," and you know what?  He happens to be the POTUS!  We only have one of those at a time, you know.

All of which walks us all the way around the block to bring us back to the words from Mr. Biden I started with.  He doesn't insult the President, or tell him to shut up (though his comment then was in response to Trump's hectoring and being "unpresidential"); but he does provide a better commentary on what happened last night than anything else I have read, by anybody else (including yours truly).

I've got to give him high marks for that.  It's about time somebody spoke sense, and it's rather reassuring it comes from the candidate for the highest office in the land.  He's not perfect, but he's so much better than what's there now it's not even funny.  It's scary, in fact.  It points out sharply what we've been missing as a counry these past 4 years.

"Really Don't Mind If You Sit This One Out...."

“Only three things happened for me tonight,” Jones said. 

“Number one, Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacy,” he explained. 

“Number two, the president of the United States refused to condemn white supremacy,” he continued.

“Number three, the commander-in-chief refused to condemn white supremacy on the global stage — in front of my children, in front of everybody’s families — and he was given the opportunity multiple times to condemn white supremacy,” Jones said.
It had to be a "who," some specific group (Biden proferred "Proud Boys"), otherwise Trump wouldn't denounce the idea outright. But even Trump didn't try to say the quiet part out loud. With friends like these, Trump doesn't need any enemies.

Trump Can Never Fail

He can only be failed.

And From There He Went On To Talk About The Leaves

And he wrapped it up with a "Sir" story.

Made sitting through the whole shitshow worthwhile.

(Idle historical note:  in the early medieval period you could walk from France to Poland and never see the sun, because the continent was so heavily forested.  That's the story, anyway.  That changed with the advent of the plough (the Romans used a stick.  Literally:  a stick.)  Trees came down and "sheer plod [made] plough down sillion shine" and European civilization was transformed.

I've been to Europe, albeit 40+ years ago.  Traveled through a bit of the Schwarzwald, if memory serves.  I don't remember one "forest city" in Europe at all.  Or much forest, for that matter.

And most of the forests in California are federal property.  Always good to keep that in mind.)

Magic Language Alert

When the phrase "under God" was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance, it was meant to bar Communists from saying the pledge, because they were godless. I suppose their tongues were going to burn, or something.

Which is really funny since Trump doesn't know the words to the Star Spangled Banner.

I'm not sure why Trump thinks "law and order" is a conjuring phrase.  Biden did say the words last night; he just refused to play the semantics game of saying the phrase as if it means something.  Trump wants it to burn Biden's tongue, or prove Biden is a radical leftist beholden to anarcho-syndicalists.  

All Trump really does with this is throw more meat to his shrinking base.  Nobody else cares.

So many such minutes

So little time. And then Old Ricky Face looks forth: Yeah, it was that bad.

So Am I

In context, it's a lot different. Nice.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

I Could Potentially Be A Millionaire

But that isn’t likely to happen either. You’re too kind. He told them to stand by.

But You Called Him The Worst President Ever!

Pretty sure that’s gonna be the consensus on this one. Despite the pearl clutching on PBS.
Most of us heard what Trump said to the Proud Boys.
But Biden told Trump to shut up! Oh...never mind.

Post-Debate: “Was It Good For You?”

Including “and” and “the.”

People on PBS are terribly upset the candidates weren’t nice to each other. One wonders where they’ve been for the last 4 years. Or if they expected Biden to be a Buddhist monk.

When the dust settles (and we quit talking about process):

As I said earlier:

But Biden told Trump to “shut up!”

“Will You Shut Up, Man?”

Is it too late to get those parrots into the debate hall?

I didn’t have “Trump challenging somebody’s numbers.” But I expected “SOCIALISM!” And Trump arguing about 200,000 is not that bad.
Now he’s arguing with the moderator. And Biden laughs as Trump spews bullshit. Could be worse. And points for Biden calling Trump a clown.

“Would you shut up, man?” “ Keep yappin’, man.” Seems appropriate.
Yeah, I think he is.

(He’s laughing again.)
I can’t believe Trump walked into the swine flu. Oh wait, I do.
Nixon lost the debate to JFK on appearance. The “just kidding “ defense! Do I have to drink? 🍸
“Don’t ever use the word ‘smart’ with me”? Why, because you don’t understand it?

“No serious person said the opposite.”
Am I supposed to elect the President based on the size of his crowds? Trump opposed closing the economy. The states did it anyway. The increase in employment is twice nothing (still nothing). And he names states where Biden is leading.

“People want to be safe.” “I brought back football.” “I paid millions of dollars in taxes.” “Show us your tax returns.” When do we get to see them? “ When they’re finished.”
”You’re the worst President we’ve ever had! Come on!”
Eh, you don’t swing at every pitch.

“He doesn’t want to let me answer because he knows I have the truth.” “ It’s hard to get any word in with this clown.” 🤡 “Frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting than he has.”

Unless you don’t believe you are 10 points down in the polls (Trump is, of course).

The Lovely Wife just made the same point. “He wouldn’t know a suburb unless he took a wrong turn.”

Oddly, Trump wasn’t upset by this.
I had quit before they started. I just didn’t know it would be this bad. “Do it. Say it.” Trump’s response is to tell Proud Boys to “stand by.”

“He never keeps his word.”

Forest fires! 🔥 Rake the leaves! Rake the leaves!! Yes!!!! The leaves!!!!!! 🍁 And a “Sir” story! DRINK!! 🍹
A bit out of chronology, but I can’t let that go unrecognized.
Well, sure.


We Have A Winner!

no more calls, please.

(The White House will issue a statement later tonight acknowledging Biden has a better sense of humor. Just to further lower expectations.)

Old School v. New School

Old school:

Most immediately, the president’s merger of his election-fraud message with the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice puts Republican senators in an uncomfortable position. Trump has argued that confirming a new justice is “very important” to winning any post-election cases. This casts aspersions on the justices’ independence and makes confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett a cornerstone of Trump’s election chaos strategy.
New school:

Cruz said he does not think Barrett should recuse herself from a court decision on the election should it come before her as a justice. "The reason we need a fully functioning court is to have nine justices who can resolve any dispute and ensure that the law and Constitution are followed," Cruz told NPR.

Move along, America.  Nothing to see here. 

Presidential Debate 2020

I think "scared shitless" is the correct description. I'm sticking with water. My liver is old.

"Some People Say"

On the one hand: this is an obscene abuse of power which dwarfs anything (but doesn't excuse) Comey did in 2016.

On the other hand:  does anybody really care by now?  Is anyone in the electorate all that worked up about Trump's constant cries over this conspiracy theory?  Anybody who doesn't believe it already?

Yeah, we know Trump has destroyed much of the strength and credibility of the U.S., for reasons that largely amount to "California should rake its forests" kind of reasoning (i.e., he's a stupid incompetent boob who is so far in over his head he can't look up to see bottom anymore).  But we're not going to start to cleanse the Augean stables until Trump is not in there filling them up.  So the only question at the moment is:  does this move the needle at all in Trump's favor in November?

And the answer, given that Biden has been holding a steady lead over Trump for months, and is now pulling away in Pennsylvania and pushing Ohio and Idaho to only "Leans R," (or maybe Trump is doing that),  is:  no.  This won't make any more difference than the debates tonight.

Clean Bills While You Wait

I favor one tweet in the stead of several where a thread is involved. Even with all the tweets, this is complicated and arcane stuff (and this one has nothing to do with Trump's tax returns, but with filings required by the UK for the Aberdeen golf course).  You may read the rest as you wish.  For me, the bottom line is Trump expends a great deal of energy protecting his financial records from scrutiny.  I don't think it's psychological or even pathological.  It seems more plausible it's because his actions are largely criminal.  Why are all Trump's golf courses described as "money-pits" and why does he go from failure to failure without ever crashing to the ground?  And if he is a billionaire (as Forbes alleges), it has to have been since "The Apprentice" (per latest NYT reporting).  How did he parlay $167 million in fees and an additional $250 million in monies for promotional deals ancillay to the fame he earned on TV, into billions?  It's not that he's a brilliant business man like Musk, or a brilliant investor like Buffet.

Is it all about the money laundering?  Well, why wouldn't it be?  And doesn't that explain the sheer obscurantism of the records that are being reviewed?
I'm hardly a forensic accountant, but that sounds like money laundering to me.

Armies of Lawyers, Part Deux

Well then, let me:

Powell just steamed into a series of statements as fiery as they are baseless.

She said that Gleeson had “picked up the mantle to continue a political prosecution of General Flynn that has no basis in fact or law” after arguing that the whole Russia probe had been launched “to get General Flynn, and thereby get President Trump.”

“Only in other countries have any of us seen this happen,” Powell added.

Only the introduction to the main essay, that:

Powell takes it further with each argument, if imaginable, saying that the Flynn case was a “coup to take out President Trump.”

“Mr. Gleeson is lost down the rabbit hole on the other side of the looking glass,” Powell added. 

You read that right:

After allowing Powell to go on at length about why she thinks the DOJ mishandled Flynn’s case, Sullivan asks her point blank what Brady material (the term for the exculpatory materials the government is obligated to turn over to a defendant) the government supposedly withheld from Flynn.

Powell has been alleging Brady violations for nearly a year, and Sullivan already once has issued a lengthy opinion rejecting her claims.

Powell points to a few specific things: the disclosure in an inspector general report that an FBI agent used a defensive briefing for Trump as an opportunity to collect information on Flynn; evidence that supposedly shows that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn thought he was telling the truth at the time; and supposed evidence that the FBI deep state was going after Flynn as a way to take down Trump.

The evidence she likes is good; the evidence she doesn't like is "bad" (none of the above is evidence in a court of law, BTW):

Without any hint of irony, Powell says that the judge should treat Trump’s tweets and the Strzok claims that his notes had been altered as “extrajudicial” and as “red herring[s].” 

 There's a lot more too this than I have captured, but let Mr. Kirschner provide the last thought:

The amicus gets that:

“There’s an unspoken premise that I’m not sure is correct which came up in today’s proceedings,” Gleeson said. “The government has not said that if you deny this motion to dismiss, it will not continue to prosecute this case.”

“And if you say no, they’re packing up and going home? They haven’t said that yet,” Gleeson said, adding that it would be an “enormous disrespect” to the court to do so.

Gleeson added that the case “has everything to do with the President’s belief that this is some kind of witch hunt, and an Attorney General who has said publicly that the President’s tweets … made it very difficult for the Justice Department to get the trust of the courts.”

Armies of Lawyers

Are they all this (in)competent? Wait! She wasn't through! Why not?  Accepting a pardon is an admission of guilt.  Flynn apparently can't stand that thought now, even though he's already admitted his guilt.  And yeah, that's how far she got on the claim of "executive privilege." That's not all she did, either. BTW: Only the BEST people! (and that privilege claim? Died the minute she admitted meeting with Trump.)

All of this inevitably led to:
Followed by: Lawyer's note: this kind of thing only succeeds if the system is irrevocably corrupted. It's not succeeding yet, but the last time I say a lawyer pull this kind of stunt, it was William Kunstler. Then again, Julius Hoffman was an ass. Still, you never piss all over the judge who can rule against you while he/she can still rule against you.  But just to prove Flynn's lawyer is talking off the top of her head (she'll be bald and nothing to show for it): That kind of thing takes an entirely separate hearing, with evidence presented, etc.  The judge handled it as a judge should: That was not a rhetorical question. Not really. But now it gets good: At which point Kirschner lost his connection to the feed. Pity. It was just getting good.

The Fish Rots From The Head

And the fish can’t learn to ride a bicycle.
”Army of lawyers,” huh?

Isn’t That How Michael Bloomberg Got Rich?

And Warren Buffet? And Bill Gates? And Elon Musk?

Everything Hinges On The Debate

Biden could send 3 squirrels in a trench coat out tomorrow night and still win! SO SAY WE ALL!
Trump is not the frightening warrior you are looking for.

And a report on Houston political ads: Republicans are talking about scary people who want to end life as we know it ( which doesn’t sound that bad right now). Democrats are talking about healthcare; in the middle of a pandemic. Oh, and attaching Republicans to Trump. Democrats seem to know who their voters are. This is new for them.