Monday, May 10, 2021

Shoehorning Reality

"We have looked at the data," Psaki explained. "We don't see much evidence that the extra unemployment insurance is a major driver in people not rejoining the work force. We actually see the data and our analysis shows that the lack of vaccinations, the lower rate, which is why I refer to the data and the week that it was taken -- it has an impact. Child care has an impact. Schools reopening has an impact." 

"But there's also the need to pay a livable working wage," she added. "And that's one of the reasons the president will talk about that this afternoon."

Doocy disagreed: "Anybody who is making $32,000 a year is better off financially just taking the unemployment benefits. So is the White House creating an incentive just to stay home?"

Which pretty much means $32,000 a year is shit wages, because unemployment benefits are not that good. The President has announced what he will do, and it sounds pretty much like what states (well, Texas, anyway) do already:
Now, this is about three degrees removed from reality, to be honest.  The states offer and operate unemployment benefits because it's a good idea even the meanest state can't get away from (ahem, Texas, ahem). They also set the terms for receiving such benefits, and in Texas, as I understand it, those terms include actively looking for a job.  The amount allocated by Congress to extend unemployment benefits is not an endless benefit that will keep people at home paying their cable fees so FoxNews stays in business in perpetuity (unlike Social Security, which is indirectly subsidizing FoxNews, at least until the oldest Boomers die off).  And the President can't really tell the states how to allocate funds, except very indirectly.  By the time the message actually reaches the people on unemployment, through the machinery of government, many of them will either have returned to work (the ones with no other choice), and the rest will have gone to school or sold the house and bought an RV (yes, I actually read these stories in a WaPo by way of Anchorage Daily News report.  Probably fewer such people in the country than than there are actual transgendered students in the entire country actively involved in school athletics, but we might as well make a big deal out of every little thing, huh?), or just decided to live on their investments (again, another group out there), etc., etc.

But the people declining to take shit wages because they want something better after a year of covid shutdowns?  Piss on 'em, says FoxNews.  God be with 'em, sez I.  And the Law, and the Prophets, truth be told.

That, however, doesn't get me to this.

Two years before the 2020 election, the conspiracy that Donald Trump won the election was part of a plot cooked up by a Texas Republican businessman, reported a Washington Post exposé.

In a shocking report, the Post revealed Russell J. Ramsland Jr. pitched an idea that "seemed rooted in evidence."

The theory was that "voting-machine audit logs — lines of codes and timestamps that document the machines' activities — contained indications of vote manipulation." There was just one problem, they didn't have a candidate to test the theory.

How they got here from there is interesting; but the more interesting part is the "theory":

"ASOG's report claimed that audit logs for Dominion machines showed an alarming 68 percent 'error rate,'" said the Post.

While that might sound astounding, when a University of Michigan computer science professor conducted an analysis, it was revealed the audit log was "meaningless."

Pay attention; this is where the stupid comes in.  Or, as Orwell put it:  "Ignorance Is Strength."

Professor J. Alex Halderman, "who as part of the lawsuit examined the Antrim [County] results and the ASOG report at the request of the Michigan secretary of state and attorney general, wrote that audit logs record multiple lines for each ballot scanned and that many of those lines are 'benign warnings or errors' that have no bearing on the accuracy of the machines' count."

The example he gave was that ASOG was counting the warning "ballot has been reversed" to claim that votes were tampered with.

"But that entry means that a voter attempted to feed his ballot into the machine and the machine balked and spit it out — just as a vending machine often balks at a wrinkled dollar bill," said the report. Halderman's report explained that it happens "all the time."

ASOG then claimed that ballots were sent to electronic "adjudication" where officials manipulated them. Halderman's report found that Antrim County didn't even do an electronic adjudication. While ASOG may have found some security weaknesses, there was never any proof that the weaknesses were used by anyone to hack the election.

Trump is drawn to ignorant people because he understands how they think.  So he loves this pile of conspiracy theories that start with a pea under all the mattresses.  An imaginary pea under fictional mattresses, but then again, he's no princess.

But much of the objection to reality (people are making too much on unemployment; computers make records of everything they do, which must be evidence if malfeasance!) is literally an objection to:  reality.  Which is complicated and includes far more than you understand.  Maybe Peter Doocey thinks $32,000 per annum is a princely sum (I'm old enough to remember when it was, but I doubt he is).  His ignorance is not the sword and shield of rigtheousness he thinks it is.  As for computer code, I'd ask someone what it meant if I read it, just as you ask a lawyer what the statute means, because the plain language of the legislature is never black and white.

But it's easier to pretend your that smart; and that you're that strong.

Cultic Practices

The earliest reference I can find to suggesting Reagan belongs on Mt. Rushmore is 1999. "History has already vindicated Ronald Reagan's positions, and we should honor him appropriately for his achievements." Five years later Reagan was dead, and the push began anew.  

There is just one problem. It can’t be done.

I was at Mount Rushmore last year, and I asked one of the National Park Service rangers about adding Reagan’s visage to those of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. He said it would be impossible. There is simply not enough space to add another face, and besides, it wouldn’t be safe.

Well, there wouldn't be just one problem.  But still, it just can't be done.  Some people wanted to see Trump put on the monument; not the least of those people being Donald Trump himself.  CNN reported Trump talked to Gov. Noem about the possibility.  Of course, it's a national monument, so South Dakota has no say in the matter.  He also denied talking to her, for what that's worth.  Just a few weeks ago he complained he'd already be up there if he were a Democrat.  (The only Democrat on the mountain is the "original" Democrat, Thomas Jefferson.  Washington eschewed party labels, and TR and Honest Abe were both Republicans.) So, sure, he didn't talk to Noem about it.

See what you can start with the simplest of Google searches?

I raise this because we are hearing once again that Donald Trump has converted the GOP into a cult, with himself as its fearless leader.  The biggest problem with this complaint is all the "never-Trumpers" (who must be GOP to qualify; the rest are just Democrats or don't like Trump) who were Reaganites and Reagan acolytes for the past 40 years.  More than a few of them wanted to see Reagan on Rushmore, or on a dollar bill (well, something larger than the dollar, but anyway) and probably canonized, if Benedict hadn't retired.

There was a ferocious cult around Reagan, from the moment he was nominated.  And it lasted until Donald Trump became the new cult leader.  There are historical parallels to this.  Texas was a one-party state, and that party the Democrats, from Reconstruction onward (Texas was a state for only a few years before it joined the other Southerns and seceded, so those few years barely count).  As the Democratic party became more and more identified with liberal causes, but mostly with civil rights and equal justice for blacks, Texans proclaims the party had left them, and almost overnight went from solidly blue, to solidly red.

Texas didn't really change at all.  The labels changed, but the politics of the state went on as ever before.

The GOP didn't change because of Trump.  The voters (the "base") did what they were expected to do since the days of Reagan:  they followed Dear Leader.  Reagan was a ditzy old man even before the Alzheimer's became obvious, and his handlers knew how to handle him.  Trump was a clod of dirt in a suit, but nobody handled him and he didn't handle anything except his iPhone.  But the differences between Trump and Reagan, or either man and their supporters?

Not worth bothering about.  Mostly distinctions without a difference.  Trump was more nakedly racist and nativist and xenophobic, but then the sequel always has to play into whatever latent strengths the original had, if only to strike the familiar chords.  And those chords must always be struck harder in order to sound.

So now is the GOP going to "destroy democracy"?  They tried with Trump, we are told.  Truth is they tried half-heartedly, at best.  Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz had no plan at all to stop the election of Joe Biden.  They didn't want the responsibility for the Constitutional crisis.  Just as Donald Trump doesn't want the responsibility for the raid on the Capitol (and whether any actually leads him to answer in court is still an open question).  But the people who physically entered that building are being held responsible, and the trials will take years to finish; not because they will be protracted affairs, but because there will be so many of them. The public is fully behind this:  who do you think is giving all those names to the FBI?

Trump and the GOP are going to "destroy democracy"?  Hardly.  Democracy is the rock upon which they founder.  Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are not comic book villains who want to take over the world.  They've seen the work of government and by and large, they don't want it.  Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz don't want to pass bills, a la Ted Kennedy or Bernie Sanders:  they want to get in front of TV cameras.  Nice work, if you can get it.  Frankly, if democracy was so fucking fragile an election scandal would founder it, we'd have failed in the days of the "machines" that bought and paid for votes.  The system we have now is worlds away from the corrupt practices that passed for legitimate within memory green of some old enough; some of it going on in the 20th century just passed. (Lapham’s Quarterly recently featured an issue on "Democracy" which included a selection from the memoir of Harpo Marx, who recalled going to vote with his grandfather, a non-citizen and unregistered voter.  He and his grandfather rode in a car sent by the local "machine" to get him to the poll, get his vote, and take him back home.  Both grandson and grandfather, at the time anyway, considered it a grand part of America.) The past isn't over; it's certainly not that long passed.  If we the people could destroy democracy, we'd have done it by now.  We didn't do it in the Civil War, we didn't do it in the Great Depression (came much, much closer to anarchy and chaos then), and we're not going to do it now.  Trump is not Vladimir Ilyich Ulonov; he's not going to master mind anything.  The "audit" in Arizona already has the cockroaches scurrying just because the DOJ came in and fumbled for the light switch.  As a country, we've survived violent suppression of the vote and subtle suppression of the vote.  The only lie was when Justice Roberts declared the year of jubilee and eviscerated the Voting Rights Act.  Democracy in America has always been a blood sport, and the winners have always been at war with the losers, and the fix has always been in, and the prospects for peace have alwasy been awful.

What else is new?

The GOP became a cult of personality when they canonized St. Ronnie as the second coming and son of George Washington.  Now they've anointed Trump, just without all the historical palaver or any obeisance to good sense.  Reagan had least had popular appeal.  Trump is as appealing as a road apple.  If Democrats lose offices, it will be because Democrats run lousy candidates at the local level.  Same as it ever was.  With a little bit of luck, or a little extra push from the state Democratic party, Beto O'Rourke could have retired Cruz.  But where are the Betos of yesteryear, today?

We gotta figure this out, and the first issue is not to whine like the Republicans and motivate our base with outrages about their politicians.  The opposite of that is not "bi-partisanship" (which voters don't really give a wet snap about); the opposite of that is accomplishment and good candidates.

The GOP has neither, and they have a demented old man as their figurehead.  Let them wear that albatross.  Give the people someone to vote for, and a reason to vote.  The GOP is a cult now, not a political party.  Trump will bear them all into the sea, and good riddance to the lot of them.  They are not an essential unit of democracy.  The nation will get along just fine without them.

Wealth Is A Disease

Can the rest of us divorce Bill Gates, too?

Sunday, May 09, 2021

If Only

By the time officers arrived, six people were dead and one was severely injured. 

That victim later died in the hospital. The children at the party were unharmed and are now in the care of relatives.

We'd recognized the constitutional right of those kids to keep and bear arms, the good guys with the guns might have gotten the bad guy with the gun.

The horror and trauma those kids will live with the rest of their lives will be alleviated by knowing at least this is America, where they have freedumb.

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together*

We would also accept "The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley."  Not because this anecdote indicates a creeping rise of believers among non/antagnostically non-believers, but because exposure in this culture is inevitable, and really, as a parent, you need to be ready for it.

Toddlers ain't gonna take themselves to church.

Reminds me of my daughter watching animated Peter Rabbit stories as a child.  Each one had a live-action introduction with an actor playing Beatrix Potter, complete with RP accent.  My daughter said "Peter" with perfect BBC intonation for months.

She got over it.

*What?  It's Sunday.

A Long Time In The Life…

...of a two-year old? Or evidence even the educated among us are ahistorical and too affected by video culture where all problems are solved in two hours or less, and whatever opens the story is directly connected to the conclusion coming soon!

Have we had an election since January 6th? Did we turnout all the Representatives and Senators who voted to overturn the Presidential election on January 7th?  Does one event truly open all eyes and make everyone turn to the light and recognize what just happened and what needs to be done?  I remember Kennedy’s assassination; MLK’s; RFK’s.  Or school shootings since Columbine.  If those didn’t move the needle, it’s hard to imagine what will.

The needle is not the measure.  This isn’t about needles.

Trump is wildly unpopular outside the tiny GOP base. The punderati has to gossip about the parties, rather than talk about substance (Covid, the economy, etc.). Something like 75% of Americans identify as “Democrats.” What will happen will happen in the future . The problem is we are always expecting the future to be now, which makes us think the present is already the past.

It’s Still The Same Old Story

Where are the statues of Caesar? Napoleon? Ozymandias?

A fight for love and glory. But all fame is fleeting. Not just for the hero, but for society.

Sic transit gloria.

Shorter And Sweeter

Who cares what Michael Tracey thinks?

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Maybe Because Now…

...white people feel affected? Not just brown and black people?

Authoritarianism is as American as violence. And both are only bad when they’re directed at you.

Real Court v. TeeVee Court

Had a few like that in Family Law cases (child custody issues, mostly; sometimes property division). Not as unusual as the internet and mass media might lead you to believe. Yes, Truth is usually stranger than fiction. You thought Aaron Sorkin made this stuff up for entertainment? Uh....yeah. I have a theory about movies and fantasy that I may come back to in another post. It connects here because basically everything you see in movies/TeeVee is fundamentally a fantasy, no matter how "serious" it is. But this mess with this probably emotionally disturbed (at least) man leads us to the other "legal" story that's a hot mess right now. Everybody's giving Trump free counsel on how quickly and badly Rudy is going to flip on him.  Most of these opinions come from armchair trial lawyers whose courtroom experience is limited to TeeVee shows and Aaron Sorkin movies, at best.  A few are lawyers turned TV pundits who know better than to clutter up the preferred narrative with things like facts and how criminal cases actually work.   But Preet Bararah pointed out the other day that Rudy probably has nothing to bargain with, because the prosecutors don’t trust him.  A plea arrangement is only as good as the witness is credible, and honestly, what credibility does Rudy have.  Would you want to put him on the stand?

As for the “insurance” he supposedly has, if prosecutors think that has any relevance, they can get a search warrant for it.  It isn’t a bargaining chip at that point.  If it’s evidence of a crime, he can be forced to turn it over.  And just because he thinks its worth something, doesn’t mean it is.  Prosecutors could well prefer to prosecute Giuliani than to make a deal with him.

“Eat The Rich”

We Are So Proud

I'd like to say it's just statistics, that we're the 2nd most populous state in the country, and deep red to boot. But I know better. More rabid assholes per square inch than anywhere else in the country. Most of them rich white people (who else can afford to jaunt off to D.C. in January to cause so much trouble just because?). Most of them from the Dallas area (again, if you knew Texas, is just “yup.”)

Sometimes ya gotta face facts.

The Funny Thing?

Based on his memoir, I'd call Obama a nominal Christian. Not a criticism, just an observation. His connection to the church is tenuous, at best. And the connection to church is an important part of being a Christian, IMHO.

Trump, of course, is practically the opposite of a Christian.

Joe Biden is a very faithful and devout member of the Roman Catholic Church.

And the Devil can cite scripture to his own purposes.  The closest Donald Trump can get is "2 Corinthians."

Case closed.

Why Not Vote For Congressional Dysfunction?

(Honestly, I think this would be the goad that would drive Democrats to the polls.)

"Old Age That Is Tied To Me As To A Dog's Tail"


Respectable white people marvel at the fact that Americans consuming right-wing propaganda inhabit a fact-free world. As a consequence, they do not take it seriously. People who insist on inhabiting a fact-free world are not just ignorant—not when democracy depends on the ability of individuals to associate and organize themselves for the purpose of self-rule. When huge numbers of people inhabit a fact-free world, and collectivist leaders police the integrity of that groupthink, they threaten not only democracy's ability to function minimally, but its survival. Liz Cheney is now being reassimilated into the collective. Democracy itself faces the very same fate. Do not marvel at these people and their fact-free world. Regard them as the danger they are.

I'm used to people inhabiting a fact-free world.  I grew up among earnest young Southern Baptists who asked me earnestly (as only young Southern Baptists could do in those days) if I'd accepted Jesus "into my heart."  The sub-text was that I wasn't a Southern Baptist (I was a Presbyterian, as foreign to their concept of the world as a Muslim, which was an unimaginable person in those days.  Little green men from Mars were more plausible in my hometown.), so I must be in spiritual trouble.  I responded to such queries by saying I wasn't sure which ventricle Jesus would fit into.

I just got tired of the question, and responded like a smart ass.

I had people earnestly tell me the leather peace signs attached to my leather sandals (it was the '70's, what can I tell you?) were Satanic emblems.  Had I known then what I know now (that the symbol was created in the '50's by a British anti-nuke group), I'd have laughed louder and harder.  But the concerned parent was earnest in her concerns; and as clueless as a goose. I soon learned most people are; and that "most people" included me.

I was educated in Texas history by two old women who sincerely believed Davy Crockett looked like John Wayne and died valiantly at the Alamo (new research says he begged for his life before he was executed), and the Alamo itself was a brave stand for liberty.  (The Texas battle for independence was all about slavery, which Louisiana allowed but Mexico, which Texas was then a part of, didn't.  Even Sam Houston told Travis to burn the Alamo and leave it, and help him in the actual battle with Mexico. Travis was less brave hero than stubborn fool.)  I was also taught Marxism was Communism was Socialism was all antithetical to American freedom and the free market capitalism that made America great.  This at the end of an era of American socialism that began under FDR and continued through Nixon/Ford (the years I was in high school) and didn't come fully to an end until Reagan replaced Carter.

And there our cycle of boom and bust began with a vengeance, and the stability of the economy since the end of WWII was put through an historical shredder.  But nobody acknowledged that fact, either.

So don't begin to tell me about a "fact-free world."  I haven't even scratched the surface, and believe me just because your political opponents don't think the world works the way you do, it doesn't mean your "facts" are real and theirs are all falsehoods.  Democracy managed quite well during the "Red Scare" (another fact-free assertion of national danger) and Reagonomics (as fact-free as it gets), and even under LBJ/Nixon and the Vietnam War (a military endeavor so fact-free it led to 1968), and political violence in the '70's.  We've conveniently dropped the political violence of the '70's down the memory hole, replacing it with John Travolta posing under a glitter ball.  Funny, that.  We fear the possibility of violence just as our Senators fear the possibility of a filibuster.  Either is enough to paralyze the system or the national discussion.  Don't begin to talk to me about a "fact-free world."  I won't have it.  In fact, I'm likely to jam it down your throat.

"Regard them as the danger they are"?  And what, you represent salvation and the guide to the Promised Land?

The irony is, this is the title of this commentary: "The GOP's bizarre obsession with 'critical race theory' has almost nothing to do with critical race theory."  And this is the opening sentence:

The right-wing media apparatus, which is global in scale, has lately been making a fetish of something called "critical race theory" (CRT). This has prompted academics to defend it. It's not a radical political ideology, they say. It's merely a form of critical inquiry. It is not the boogeyman it's being made out to be. There's nothing to fear.

I've gotta say, that "which is global in scale" passing fancy echoes the "world-wide communist conspiracy" language of my youth.  Any minute now we're gonna resurrect the "domino theory" as more countries succumb to "the right-wing media apparatus, which is global in scale." 


But in the entire article you never get one hint, one reference, one suggestion, about what "Critical Race Theory" is.  It is, in other words, as fact-free an analysis as the "fact-free world" it adjudges is inhabited by "the other side."

Go away.  Learn something.  Live longer.  Or maybe just reflect that your experience is not a font of wisdom; that experience itself is not a guide to enlightenment, that maybe you know less than you think you know, that maybe history and reality are far, far more complicated than any story somebody told you, or that you now tell yourself.

Or at least get offa mah lawn.  Punks.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

Now, wait a minute: So this is a fake video?

Six months removed from his Election Day loss, Trump has emerged from his West Palm Beach hibernation — refashioning himself as the president of the Republican States of America and reshaping the party in ways both micro and macro," The Washington Post reported Friday.

"He has also privately revived his claims that he plans to run for president again in 2024, decrying what he views as the 'low ratings' of the Biden administration, said one person who has spoken with Trump recently," the newspaper reported. "He rails that President Biden is 'a disaster' and argues that 'Joe isn't in charge, everybody knows it's Kamala' — a preview of his likely message portraying Biden as an unwitting stooge of Vice President Harris, this person said. Nonetheless, Trump is not expected to make an official decision or announcement until after the midterm elections, an adviser said."

I can't read the article (pay wall; what're ya gonna do?), so I have to rely on Raw Story's version.  But it's unclear, to begin with, how Trump has "emerged"?  The article doesn't seem to quote Trump directly, but rather quotes an "advisor."  And the picture it paints in that quote in the tweet is in sharp contrast to that video, where people are pointedly not even paying attention to the fat old man at the microphone interrupting the band's set (or probably talking while the band takes five).  But the video and the article do agree that Trump spends time "fulminating against the 2020 election results."  Which is all I expect him to do in the "rallies" his "advisers" have announced are imminent (I'll still believe it when I see it).

I really am wondering what "emerged from his Florida hibernation" means.  I mean, the guy's not a bear, and this has the ring of "people are saying" about it.

"Trump's reappearance is fueled by an ego-driven desire to remain at the center of national attention, said former advisers and allies who are in touch with Trump," the newspaper reported. "The defeated ex-president is propelled primarily by a thirst for retribution, an insatiable quest for the spotlight and a desire to establish and maintain total dominance and control over the Republican base, said several former senior White House advisers."

Yeah, that "insatiable quest for the spotlight" was going to drive him out of hiding eventually. (That's also the reason I'm not impressed with Rick Wilson's critique of the label "the former guy."  Trump is not Voldemort; but he wants to see his name in print (notice he says Biden is getting "low ratings").  Why give him the pleasure, says I?)  The question is:  who's going to pay attention?  The GOP in D.C., clearly.  Outside of D.C., the GOP will pay attention only so long as Trump is seen as influential in local races; and I don't see that lasting too long.  Because voters will be the first to say "What have you done for me lately?"  (Nobody has noticed that the most rabid Trump supporter/office seeker in the North Texas race tout le monde was watching barely got 1% of the vote.  What's a guy gotta do, huh?).

Besides, that quote in the first tweet describes what Trump did for four years in the White House, and where did that get him?  If Trump's going to push the same old lines, the law of diminishing returns is going to set in rapidly. 

Friday, May 07, 2021

Remember The Water Cup… “Jurassic Park”?

I’m pretty sure these guys do, too.

Remember when the GOP told us the states were “laboratories of democracy”? Yeah, that was when the GOP was running the DOJ; or at least wanted the DOJ run as if they were in charge.

Elections have consequences. And the history of civil rights enforcement in this country has almost always meant the involvement of the DOJ.

Which is why the clowns in Arizona felt the ground tremble. 🤡 

That's It, I'm Starting A Jen Psaki Fan Club

Who's with me?

A lot of people agree with me; but the best part is what Ms. Psaki said about the experience she brings to this job:

How do you think you will engage the right-wing media ecosystem, if I can call it that? I'm thinking of networks like Fox, but also OANN and Newsmax that have larger and larger audiences. And some of them, like Fox, have, at least on a basic level, acknowledged that Joe Biden won the election. Others are pushing completely discredited theories, but they're all going to be there. They're all going to have an audience, and they're all going to have questions for you.

That's right. And you know, Steve, again, just to go back to how valuable I find and how much I'll rely on my experience at the State Department, there were many, many days where there were journalists — I'm air quoting that — who are from Russia or China, essentially arms of the government, you know, arms of the state-run media. And we let them in the briefing room, and they ask questions, and sometimes I had a little fun with them, you know, about who they were asking the question on behalf of.

I think we have to make her Press Secretary for Life, a permanent fixture of the White House.  It's the only way to preserve our democracy and our American Way Of Life! 

Does Anybody Really Care?

Per Axios:

 Trump senior adviser Jason Miller tells Axios Trump rallies are likely to "start as soon as late spring or early summer."

Miller said Trump "has already begun to vet and endorse candidates for 2022, with an eye toward electing not just Republican candidates, but America First Republican candidates."

"His endorsement lifts candidates above the pack and often clears the primary field," Miller said. "The general election endorsement provides access to 'Trump voters' not normally accessible to Republicans."

Late spring means May; and it's already May 7.  Early summer means June.  Is there any plannig for this underway?

Maybe.  And good luck with it.  Frankly, I won't believe it until I see it.  But endorsing candidates for election in November, 2022, in June 2021?  Um, yeah....

I know this gets the punderati all excited, because they get something to talk about and send cameras too and chew over on cable TV and Sunday morning, but to the rest of us?  Besides, this isn't about endorsements; it's about the grift.  Trump will raise money from these rallies (otherwise he won't do them).  And some cities won't host them (the ones his campaign stiffed).  He'll stiff new cities, because the money raised is Trump's, and he won't let go of it.  Indeed, with so many cities suffering after the pandemic, he may not find too many cities anxious to host him without payment for police and other expenses made up front.  Which will probably chill his enthusiasm for travel.

Either way, I got better things to do with my summer.  And again, I'll refer you to the tens of people outside the arena where Arizona is "re-counting" ballots.  If that stretches into the summer, I expect the sidewalks to clear.

There aren't that many mad dogs or Englishmen in Phoenix.

Iron Grip? Or Sweaty Grasp On Reality?

Rick Wilson's thesis (I'd say "Mr. Wilson," being a well-reared Southerner; but I'm older than he is, so "Rick" it is. Also a Southern tradition.) in five tweets or less (the best arguments are made in a short tweet thread, right?) is that Trump is the GOP, now and forever, and we must all be very afraid, and very vigilant, pure in thought, word, and deed, as we stand against this scourge.

First, I grew up with this nonsense.  If your American hearts were Americanly pure, we would each of us be warriors against the scourge of International Communism.  So yeah, I'm allergic to the argument, prevalent across the political spectrum on the intertoobs, that we must remain vigilant in our efforts and pure in our political thought if we want to achieve victory over our political opponents, who are not just people who disagree with us about political ends and means, but existential threats who will destroy our very way of life if we waver for a moment.  I heard "reasoning" that attached to communism, to civil rights activists, to advocates of social justice, opponents of the Vietnam War, even people who questioned American consumerism.

Feh.  I discard it.

But now we are to fear a man with no political acumen, no organizational skills, no administrative abilities, a man shorn of access to his beloved social media outlets (which is apparently the only power he had, we are now told; even as we are told he is more powerful than ever), a man in self-exile ranting to tiny crowds of people who pay dearly for the privilege of being at his country club (these things that pass for knowledge I don't understand) about an election he lost decisively, a man who has done literally nothing since leaving office to impress upon the masses that he is still important.  George W. Bush is a more influential political figure; Barack Obama a more exemplary one, Bill Clinton more important to the country (and yes, I list them in order of diminishing returns on their positions as ex-Presidents), and none of those three hold a candle to the example of Jimmy Carter, probably the greatest ex-President, or ex-office holder of any kind (including retired Supreme Court Justices) in American history.

Among that group, Trump is an absolute cipher.

Did he influence the vote in the recent Texas special election?  Not enough to give the widow of the office holder more than the sympathy vote that should have put her over the top, sympathy which undoubtedly won her the 15% she did gain.  Did he rebuke the Democrats there?  They never had a realistic chance in a special election where only the most faithful of the faithful were going to turn out, and even then their contender came in third.  Is he controlling the GOP across the states?  They were this way before Trump came along.  Once elected, they carry out their orders like sleeper agents activated long after the Cold War has ended, or Japanese soldiers in caves on deserted islands still fighting for a vanquished Empire.  Politicians always fight the last war, and always enact the last directives from the last election.  Trump's influence on the country is, at best, a dead hand.  He's been out of office less than four months; did we expect his influence over state politicians to vanish like a haze in the morning?  His racism, his xenophbobia, his hatreds, are still with us; of course they are. He had four years to poison the system, and he poisoned it well.  Joe Biden is the anti-venom, but even anti-venom takes time to work.  This is not the final five minutes of the TV show, where the good guys declare victory and the preferred wounded (i.e., the non-"red shirts") miraculously recover and we know all will be well.  We've just begun our recovery.  It's gonna take awhile.

What has Trump done?  He's convinced the incumbent GOP in D.C. that he's the king-maker.  I'm sure internal polling says he is; but the next election is still a year away, and what will happen then is anybody's guess.  Trump's influence today is because the incumbents in the House won under Trump.  If Trump is not connected to their victories in 2022, he's history.  Ancient history.  And how will he be?  What energy is he going to rally in the next year?  What claim to glory is he going to assert?  He's still licking his wounds at his loss.  If past is prologue, he'll spend rallies complaining about vote fraud and "dumped ballots" found in rivers.  Maybe he'll even mention bamboo!

Political loss is painful; as Dick Nixon, who said he wouldn't be around for the press to kick anymore, exemplified.  But Nixon wasn't the sociopathic narcissist Donald Trump is.  Trump isn't coming back. He simply won't make the effort, because he won't run the risk.  He was the apotheosis of the GOP, but that moment has passed.

For all the incumbents in D.C. still insisting they are Trump stalwarts, Trump's brand has ended.  His supporters wonder what happened, why the predictions of "Q" didn't come true.  The GOP in D.C. insists the seditious insurrection on January 6 didn't even happen, even as ordinary citizens across the country continue to contact the FBI and turn in rioters from that day.  If the FBI has caught so many from Texas and elsewhere, it's not just because each and everyone of them was dumb enough to trumpet their presence on social media.  More and more of the arrests are being made from tips; tips from people who honor the rule of law far more than they honor Donald Trump.

Wilson's argument is ultimately an inside baseball/under the stitches argument.  The battle between Elise Stefanak and Liz Cheney is completely a Beltway battle.  Who among us really cares?  I've never liked Liz Cheney's politics*, and her push back on Donald Trump doesn't transmute her into a hero, or even the enemy of my enemy.  She did what should have been done, which hardly makes her a profile in courage. Then again the GOP never pushed Tailgunner Joe out of the Senate, though they had good reason to do so.  This is politics:  it's a game of cowards who fear losing their position, their prestige, their power, at any moment.  John McCain didn't; he knew what a real fight was like, what real loss of power and prestige meant.  I didn't always admire John McCain's politics either, but I could still admire John McCain.  And yet his image was as a "maverick," even though his most consequential vote was to refuse to repeal Obamacare.  That was simply the right thing to do, but in D.C., it was an heroic and notable act.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a hero.  John Lewis was a hero.  Politicians in D.C.?  Not so much.

Is Trump actually controlling the party?  Or is the party fearful of its own shadow, of the beast it stirred up to win elections, and which is now intent on devouring it?  Trump has no political skills, no administrative skills, not even any interpersonal skills.  LBJ knew how to cajole, overpower, persuade, convince.  Trump didn't know how to set up a State of the Union address.  If Trump can't control the party, if he can't oversee it, if he can't use the party to set up candidates, establish policies, organize GOTV efforts, direct funds strategically:  what is the party for?  Trump isn't going to hold rallies for the party.  He's going to hold rallies for Trump.  If the party is only a rigid and brittle and one-dimensional identity, if it is only against and is basically for nothing except what it doesn't have or doesn't want the country to have, what power is that?

Joe Biden is offering the country a great deal, and all of it concrete.  Donald Trump promised the country a booming economy (it collapsed under his tenure), an infrastructure plan (that became a political joke), a replacement of Obamacare (which never materialized, in any form), a border wall what was never more than a few miles longer than when he took office, and mostly told everyone who would listen how many great things he did, when he did nothing and what did happen under his watch (the covid vaccine of Pfizer) happened despite his pitiful efforts and wholly apart from them (what, he directed Dolly Parton's donation to the effort, which actually helped directly?).  Now Trump promises to whine like Grandpa after too much sherry about how he was robbed.  Yeah, that's inspirational.

Besides, if I'm going to listen to Wilson and be afraid, why shouldn't I listen to Frank Luntz and chuckle mordantly?

Luntz, who has been critical of Trump for peddling false claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election, says his research indicates the former president's messaging is working with the GOP base. 

"More than two-thirds of Republicans believe that the election was stolen,” Luntz reported. “What Donald Trump is saying is actually telling people it's not worth it to vote. Donald Trump single-handedly may cause people not to vote. And he may be the greatest tool in the Democrats' arsenal to keep control of the House and Senate in 2022." 

If Trump controls the GOP, this is the control he has; because the GOP has control of government only to the extent it can get its voters to the polls.  And Trump has absolutely no GOTV charms at all.  If anything, he's the anti-GOTV politician.  

There's also the argument (one I favor, clearly), that Trump doesn't control the GOP because there is no GOP anymore (I'm not sure there's a Democratic party either; my argument here is even handed.  What's the purpose of party conventions now?    Political parties exist in state law as the entities that organize primaries and authorize names on ballots, and do little more any longer.).  Trump controls a handful of GOP office holders, but more truly he's just the godfather of many a nasty GOP politician and a really nasty strain in American politics.  But he didn't invent that; he just brought it into the light.  He just produced the inevitable:  that the GOP would say out loud what Lee Atwater said in the '80's you had to say sotto voce.  Did Rick Wilson warn us about Atwater; or Karl Rove?  Newt Gingrich?  Phyllis Schlafly in the '70's (well, he probably wasn't old enough then, was he?)? His prescience and Cassandra-insights seem a bit late to the party.  I think what he actually fears is that American conservatism has shed it's Bill Buckley facade of Eastern erudition and dignity and gone full white-trash crazy.

But that's on him, and his GOP.  Sorry; that's not a judgment; it's just fact.
Be careful what you wish for; you might get it. You should at least take credit for it.

And besides, there's always a bigger picture, which doesn't include Trump valiantly carrying the banner of the GOP into battle:
Fighting the last fight is really not gonna GOTV in 2022.  Or 2024, for that matter.

*The irony is, this is the control Dick Cheney wanted (and Wilson worked for Cheney).  But Cheney wanted it on his terms.  The problem is, it's easier to set things in motion than it is to control them, and it's more likely you'll get the power ginned up than that you'll be able to control, especially after you leave office, which, inevitably in this system, every office holder must do.  The most ambitious leave the earliest; but they also do the most damage.  So, no, I don't put Liz Cheney on a pedestal, or call her a "hero" because she rounded up former Defense Secretaries to write an open letter in WaPo, or because she opposes Trump.  The enemy of my enemy is not always my friend, because her view of what government is for is just as pernicious as Trump's.   The difference is, Trump is a nihilist.  He doesn't understand what government is for, and he doesn't care; all he cares about is Trump.  That's the essence of nihilism:  everything outside of Trump is nothing, and doesn't matter.  Just because he's worse than Cheney, doesn't make her good.

Freedumb Of Speech

More pertinently, why did they publish the piece in the first place? It’s not like WaPo is Facebook. WaPo actually has editors and complete control over what it publishes.

Which answers the question about the title change, doesn’t it?

(Yes, it’s a bit of a rabbit hole, but the Mediaite article puts you in the know. The issues raised by the pandemic have just begun, and they aren’t all issues of politics or public policy.)

Best Argument I Know Against The Death Penalty

Its finality.

Justice is not served if the wrong person is convicted. Justice is undone if the wrong person is executed.

This Could Cause Me To Re-Evaluate My Relationship With Starbucks

I might have to start going there more often.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Tucker Carlson Thanks You For Playing

Tucker Carlson doesn't care about a short-term ratings boost.  Reportedly, he doesn't have enough advertisers to juice his advertising rates if he wanted to.

Tucker Carlson is on FoxNews for as long as FoxNews still has contracts with cable companies.  And the primary reason those companies have contracts with FoxNews is now Tucker Carlson.

What Tucker Carlson wants is the attention of Twitter.  What Tucker Carlson wants is to live rent-free in the "head" of Twitter.  Twitter is the audience that keeps Tucker Carlson on FoxNews; and keeps FoxNews on cable.

Tucker Carlson thanks you.

Sometimes Just Seeing The Tweets Next To Each Other... enligthening. Mitch McConnell. Chuck Grassley. Donald Trump.  At 56, Kevin McCarthy is a stripling.  Everybody also ignores him. Alright, I have to comment here. Trump's "political comeback" is a joke.  I read a Politico article recently (which I couldn't find again this morning, damn the luck) about what Trump is doing now.  Basically, he's not leaving the confines of Mar-A-Lago.  He's not doing rallies, he's not going out to pitch for GOP candidates; nothing.  (Ignore that "support" he gave the widow of Rep. Wright in north Texas at the last minute.  Special elections always appeal to, basically, primary voters; and voters love to elect grieving widows to replace dead husbands.  Trump had zero effect, since Wright is in a run-off, as could have easily been predicted.)

The article pointed out Trump was "lost" without Twitter to rant on.  Now he doesn't have Facebook, and he doesn't even reach for his new blog to complain about that, he goes to e-mail, secure in the knowledge the journalists he reaches will repeat his nonsense on Twitter (and probably Facebook) for him.

Trump is 75 years old.  In 2024, he'll be 78.  And he's already acting like an old man.  (Why do you think Biden made sure cameras saw him riding a bike?)  He's locked himself away in Florida, and if he leaves it will only be because the place is closed and he'll have no one to rant at then.  His declarations he will run again in 2024 are grifting motions, nothing more.  He won in 2016 by a fluke, more because he ran against Hillary Clinton than anything else.  He's not a political genius, he's proof our system is much more vulnerable to abuse than ever we wanted to acknowledge.  He couldn't make a comeback if he wanted to.  And it's pretty clear he doesn't want to.  He wanted Facebook for the grift; not for political strategic reasons.

Behold Grandpa Trump:
Trump won 74 million votes in 2020 because he was the incumbent. The last incumbent to lose re-election was Poppy Bush, who was never really much better as a politician than Hillary.  In fact, if memory serves, every incumbent President who lost re-election in the 20th century was a Republican.

Trump is not Nixon.  Trump is not even Bill Clinton (You have to be this old to remember “The Comeback Kid”). He ain't comin' back.

Mysterium Tremendum

I'd seen a reference to this provision (federal law requires preservation of ballots for 22 months following an election) on Twitter, and consequently thought little of it.

Turns out it's real; and turns out we have a real DOJ again.

In a letter to GOP Senate President Karen Fann, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said the Senate’s farming out of 2.1 million ballots from the state’s most populous county to a contractor may run afoul of federal law requiring ballots to remain in the control of elections officials for 22 months. And Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan said that the Senate contractor’s plans to directly contact voters could amount to illegal voter intimidation.

And it seems the "Cyber Ninjas" mean to contact voters personally, because, you know, "facts."  Which, as we will see, could be a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1960.

Arizona SOS Katie Hobbs sent the "auditors" a six-page letter and threatened to take them to court.  The auditors have their own response:

Which is true, but the "Cyber Ninjas" were hired and are being overseen by Ken Bennet, AZ SOS from 2009 to 2015.  He's never overseen an audit, either, because under AZ law audits are conducted by counties; never by the SOS.

It's going to be a good thing we have a functioning DOJ again.  It's also going to make a difference.  Yes, political Twitter is very afraid of the effects on democracy this "audit" is going to have.  But political Twitter is never happy unless it has something to fret about.  Trump's "Big Lie" got him nowhere except self-exile to Florida, and the collapse of the GOP like a souffle dropped after it left the oven.  That collapse has been inevitable since Phyllis Schafly rose from obscurity to defeat the ERA.

And if the pandemic has proven anything, and if the insurrection at the Capital proved anything, it's that the vast majority of Americans appreciate and abide by the rule of law.  I've yet to see a picture of the "crowds" outside the arena where the AZ recount is occurring that shows more than 10 people.  The recount itself is moving painfully slowly because they don't have nearly enough people to accomplish the task.  And this is just the first part of what the AZ GOP senators set in motion:
The ballot hand count is one of the three pieces of the audit. The two others are a "forensic audit" of the ballot-counting machines and a canvass of voters in specific precincts. The audit is expected to be complete come time in the summer.

The recount itself is going to deep into the summer, at this rate.  The canvass of voters?  Who's gonna do that?  Two guys in a car?  And the audit of the ballot-counting machines?

I think the DOJ is going to step in before that.  Because I don't think the DOJ is playing:

The first issue relates to a number of reports suggesting that the ballots, elections systems, and election materials that are the subject of the Maricopa County audit are no longer under the ultimate control of state and local elections officials, are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors at an insecure facility, and are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised or destroyed.1 Federal law creates a duty to safeguard and preserve federal election records. The Department is charged with enforcement of provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1960, 52 U.S.C. §§ 20701-20706. This statute requires state and local election officials to maintain, for twenty-two months after the conduct of an election for federal office, “all records and papers” relating to any “act requisite to voting in such election...” Id. at § 20701. The purpose of these federal preservation and retention requirements for elections records is to “secure a more effective protection of the right to vote.” State of Ala. ex rel. Gallion v. Rogers, 187 F. Supp. 848, 853 (M.D. Ala. 1960), aff’d sub nom. Dinkens v. Attorney General, 285 F.2d 430 (5th Cir. 1961) (per curiam), citing H.R. Rep. 956, 86th Cong., 1st Sess. 7 (1959); see also Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses, Eighth Edition 2017 at 75 (noting that “[t]he detection, investigation, and proof of election crimes – and in many instances Voting Rights Act violations – often depend[s] on documentation generated during the voter registration, voting, tabulation, and election certification processes”).

If the state designates some other custodian for such election records, then the Civil Rights Act provides that the “duty to retain and preserve any record or paper so deposited shall devolve upon such custodian.” 52 U.S.C. § 20701. The Department interprets the Act to require that “covered election documentation be retained either physically by election officials themselves, or under their direct administrative supervision.” See Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses at 79. In addition, if the state places such records in the custody of other officials, then the Department views the Act as requiring that “administrative procedures be in place giving election officers ultimate management authority over the retention and security of those election records, including the right to physically access” such records. Id. We have a concern that Maricopa County election records, which are required by federal law to be retained and preserved, are no longer under the ultimate control of elections officials, are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors, and are at risk of damage or loss.

Why do I think they are serious?  For one thing, the law being cited there is the Civil Rights Act of 1960.  That alone is a notice that there's a new sheriff in town.  For another, this letter to the President of the Arizona Senate isn't just a "Remember us?" letter.  It's a warning that there's more to come:

We would appreciate your response to the concerns described herein, including advising us of the steps that the Arizona Senate will take to ensure that violations of federal law do not occur.

That's not a request.  That's a warning.

Yes, the conspiracy crazies are going to insist antifa and Venezuela thwarted the efforts of God-fearing Americans to save us from flouride in our drinking water, but just because it's on Twitter doesn't mean the whole country trembles.  As Charlie Pierce put it: "when this DOJ gets 'concerned,' the ground starts to shake a bit."

That's not the ground the rest of us stand on.  It's just been a while since we've seen that.  We don't know to expect it anymore.  But we'll remember.

I Don’t Have A Dog In This Fight

Which is why I’m REALLY enjoying it.  Especially because meanwhile, in the White House: "Eat the rich" is a really good bumper sticker.

Abandon All Hope....*

Popehat got me started and now you all have to suffer for it. First, here's the opinion in Carver v. Pierce (1648):

Carver brings an action upon the case against Pierce for speaking these words of him, Thou are a thief, for thou has stolen my dung; and hath a verdict.  The defendant moved in arrest of judgment, that the words were not actionable:  for it is not certain whether the dung be a chattel, or part of the freehold, and if so, it cannot be theft to take it, but a trespass, and then the action will not lie.

Bacon, Justice:  Dung is a chattel and may be stolen.

But Roll, Justice, answered:  Dung may be a chattel, and it may not be a chattel; for a heap of dung is a chattel, but if it be spread upon the land it is not, and said, the word thief here is actionable alone, and there are no subsequent words to mitigate the former words, 
and there are no subsequent words to mitigate the former words

Bacon, Justice, said:  It doth not appear in this case of what value the dung was, and how shall it be known whether it be a felony or petty larceny.

To this Roll answered:  The words are scandalous notwithstanding, and actionable, though the stealing of the dung be not felony.

So before returning to Popehat's analysis, and whether or not to take it seriously in matter of the Powell/Wood defense, let's put this matter in lay terms.

First, understand this opinion turns on the issue of definitions.  When is dung chattel, and when is it not?  That's actually an important question, as I'll come to in a moment.  When it a crime a felony, and when is it petty larceny?  Also an important question.

And remember the base issue of definition: it draws a line between what is the thing defined, and what is not.  You may find such line drawing petty and even "legalistic."  But we all do it all the time, lest we erase all boundaries and invite complete chaos.  Maybe we'll get back to that, too.

Are we having fun yet?

So, Pierce calls Carver a thief for stealing Pierce's dung.  This results in a verdict of slander for Carver.  Pierce appeals, on the grounds that if the dung were chattel, it was theft by Pierce; but if not, it was a trespass on real property, and so the action against Pierce was erroneously brought and the court failed for want of jurisdiction (basically.  Let's not get too far into the weeds here.)

Why does this matter?

Well, theft involves the improper taking of chattel (today, personal property).  You can only take real property by trespass (such as farming it, building on it, etc., without permission.  If the owner allows that long enough, the owner can lose title to the property to the person using it without permission.  So it pays to object to such unpermitted usage.)  You take chattel by...well, taking it.  So was the dung chattel, or real property ("part of the freehold")?  If the latter, then Carver couldn't be a thief, no matter what Pierce said.

I actually faced this question of definition in court once (yeah, I have to flense my memoirs into blog posts; deal with it).  The bank (my client) had a lien on the real property of the defendant.  That meant the land and the building affixed to it.  Now, everything attached to the building and regularly conveyed with it (the light switches, the ceiling lights and fans, etc.) are "fixtures."  Not real property, but not chattel; part of the "freehold," in 17th century English law language.  My case involved a refrigerator.  Normally that's not a fixture.  It's a lamp, a TV set, a radio:  it plugs in to the outlet, you unplug it and remove it.  Like a stove (unless it's built in ) or a microwave (ditto).  But this was a commercial refrigerator.  The storage unit was in the kitchen, the compressor was outside.  It was connected through the walls, much as an A/C unit has a compressor outside and blower and ductwork inside (also fixtures, by the way).  So it was a matter of definition:  if the refrigerator could be removed simply by unplugging, the bank had no claim to it.  But if it was attached to the walls, like a ceiling fan or an A/C unit, it was part of the real property.

See?  These distinctions matter.  (The situation also determined what kind of writ I had to get the court to order to prevent removal of the appliances. An injunction wouldn't do; I had to use a writ of mandamus.  You don't want to go into those weeds.)

So if the dung was spread (as fertilizer), it was part of the freehold, and accusing Carver of taking it would actually make his act a trespass, not a theft (again, you can't steal land, you can steal chattel).  So accusing Carver of theft is "not actionable," i.e., not a complaint the court can rule on (so much of law actually turns on whether the court can take any action; back to the question of jurisdiction), because the statement by Pierce doesn't say whether the dung was chattel or "part of the freehold."  In the ambiguity, is Carver accused of a crime?  Or a trespass?  It's a bit of a Shroedinger's cat problem, except you can never open the box, so the cat is dead and alive simultaneously.  If you can't open the box, it can't be an action the courts can rule on.  The court isn't saying, in other words, that the words aren't slanderous (again, the matter of definition).  The court is saying it can't determine whether or not the words were slanderous, and therefore must reject the case. (Please not that even if the facts of the case proved by evidence the dung was chattel, the ruling would stand; because the statement by Pierce doesn't establish that fact.)

What about that last line of the tweets, that this is the Wood/Powell defense?  In a minute; first, note the ancient rule  drilled into my head by my Torts Professor (say it with me now):  "Change the facts, change the outcome."  It holds as far back as the 17th century. The court in Carver couldn't change the facts, so it had to reject the outcome (the facts were too ambiguous in the statement upon which the action was brought).  But if Pierce had said "Carver stole my dung pile!", the outcome would have been different.  Or if Pierce had said "Carver scooped the dung off my field!," the outcome would have been different.

If you read carefully, you'll not that Justice Roll wants to call it slander ("scandal") because Pierce called Carver a thief "and there are no subsequent words to mitigate the former words."  He sticks to that reasoning, insisting the statement is slander whether or not the stealing of dung is a felony (i.e., whether or not the dung was chattel or part of the freehold in the statement by Pierce).  It's a position that would make a great many more statements said in anger into actionable slander than the courts would really want to deal with.  But it’s the position that became the basis of modern libel law.  Once again, how you define things matters.  The court was defining this action in a way that meant it didn’t have to rule on it (ambiguous facts, basically, which slips through the net of “cause of action”).  We still have “failure to state a cause of action” in the law, but courts tend to interpret that very broadly now, allowing in almost anything that does state a colorable cause of  action.  Like a Wood or Powell election fraud suit.

The argument of Roll is the one that leads to the modern cause of action for slander.  Bacon is following the traditional reasoning, which is to find a reason not to accept the case in the first place.  “Failure to state a cause of action” was commonly invoked, and relied on, as the courts sorted out what they wanted to deal with, and what they wanted to leave alone.

The decision in Carver turns on the question of definition, and on whether the accusation against Carver was actionable or not (not really on whether it was "opinion."  That's modern American 1st Amendment jurisprudence.  We won't distinguish it here, just note the distinction because otherwise we commit the sin of anachronism.).  The court decides on the issue of action, and determines they can't rule on the facts before them because there is too much ambiguity in the statement.  Roll insists it is clearly slanderous ("scandalous" in his language); Bacon insists the legal issue turns on whether or not Carver was accused of theft or a trespass; and in the ambiguity, Carver fails to state a cause of action.  It's not even a question of whether or not it is a defamatory statement (Roll insists it is, Bacon dodges the question).  It's a question of whether or not the court has to get involved.

And the court decides it doesn't.  Popehat is right on that:  this case best captures what it's like to be a lawyer.  It’s also the Wood/Powell defense.  I.e., failure to state a cause of action. 

Well, it’s as much of a defense as W/P has come up with.  I didn’t say it was a good one.

*Don't say you weren't warned....

A Government of Laws? Or Of Persons?

The "Cyber Ninjas" can declare Bozo the Clown the winner in Arizona, and the GOP state senators can hold hands and chant in chorus in front of a mirror and hope Trump appears behind them.

It only makes a difference if we let it.  And despite Twitter and cable news and pontificating pundits scared of the collapse of democracy which isn’t happening but could, this doesn’t matter.  Nothing the “Cyber Ninjas” does is credible or authorized or official or even verifiable.  It’s a joke.

Treat it as such.  Or make democracy collapse by refusing to see the difference between the clown show and the circus.

Do You Miss Him Yet?

Is This Racist?

Or is it just stupid?

And no, those are not mutually exclusive categories.

Also:  what makes this guy an “official”?  Except an official crackpot?

Our lines are open.  Operators are standing by.  This is a free call.

No Comment

Same. Blogs are very easy to ignore. Trust me on this. 

And this is as close as I'm ever getting to it:
I was going to just not bother to post this; but everything old is new again. And we should do likewise, and not comment on it, At all.

Take Their “Evidence” Seriously Enough To Ask: How Could There Be Such Evidence?

Which would mean the entire Georgia election has to be called into question.  It would also mean there was evidence for these allegations, evidence that could be presented to a court.  But where does the number come from, and how was it arrived at, and how was the “proof” to this allegation collected, verified, and then forwarded to Rep. Stefanik rather than the Georgia SOS or anybody else in or connected to Georgia?  How was this number possibly calculated, who calculated it, what evidence did they rely on to calculate it, what process was followed, what access did these persons have to the ballots, how were they able to assess them? That’s just a start.

If we’re going to continue to play these games, we need to start asking these questions.  The lies are perfectly obvious, but we need to start treating them as lies, not just as “no proof has been presented.”  We need to stop saying they haven’t presented any evidence, and simply call them liars.  And we need to call them liars based on the flimsy nonsense they are presenting, and how it doesn’t even pass the smell test.  We don’t need to say they can’t prove it; we need to say, pointedly and clearly, that their “evidence” is simply impossible.  It can’t be true, because it can’t exist.  Period.

I mean, we can do that, or we can wring our hands about what the Republicans are doing to each other and to “democracy.”