Friday, March 31, 2023

Perspective

Wait a minute: the country won’t stand for it, and people better be careful? Who is “the country” there, and who are the people? And isn’t he going to be disappointed to find out most of the country doesn’t even know who he is?
"AFTER 8 YEARS OF VARIOUS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED INVESTIGATIONS, HOAXES, SCAMS, AND WITCH HUNTS, THIS MUST MAKE ME THE MOST HONEST AND HONORABLE MAN ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD," he wrote. "NOBODY IN HISTORY HAS EVER BEEN THROUGH THE SCRUTINY THAT I HAVE. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!
Is he going to make this argument in court? Two, three, four times? He’s gonna need it. And is he gonna do that 2, 3, 4 more times? I just don’t think the shock value is going to be there much longer. Reality starts to rear its ugly head, even on Twitter. No, we got it, Lindsay. (You can’t blame the audience for your failure.)
You know, what's interesting is ... Donald Trump's attorneys were blindsided by this announcement, to the point where Donald Trump was actually praising the grand jury and saying, look, I have new respect for this grand jury, they're not going to indict me at all," said Reid. "And obviously, the [D.A.]'s office was very stealthy about making sure they had no idea that it was coming, even though he previously predicted he was going to get indicted. Do you think he was genuinely shocked and really believed he had beaten it?" 
"Yeah, because again, Donald lives in Donald's head," said Cohen. and the fact that you had people like [Trump attorney] Tacopina and people like [former Cohen adviser] Bob Costello and a whole slew of other pundits on this station, as well as other stations telling you, for example, Bob Costello went in to testify, all of a sudden, he's now impeached my credibility. Obviously, we know that's not true. In fact, nothing that he said clearly changed anybody's mind."
With friends like these...you need new friends. Perspective. You mean we don’t know what the sealed indictment says before it’s unsealed? The Republic teeters…the First Amendment hangs by a thread….

“Of Course You Know, This Means War!”

A) It’s a simple matter. Bragg goes to the Supremes, who mandamus the extradition, and the U.S.Marshals tell the Secret Service: “What about it?”

And:

B) The court takes into account how much of a flight risk Trump is, considering how much trouble it was just to get him arraigned. And also mulls over a gag order, just to keep a leash on him. Trump would certainly lose the benefit of any initial doubt in how the court should treat him.

This “war” is not being fought on cable TeeVee, or the Internet. And Jenna Ellis is a fine example of the caliber of legal counsel Trump has. Though I don’t mean his NY lawyers are as stupid as she is.

But boy, is she stupid.

Put A Pin In It…

And next week we’ll find out if this is right.
JT: I think it’s business records falsification. I think it’s tax evasion, and I think it’s conspiracy. And I think it’s a scheme to defraud. The successful jury trial is a blueprint—so the same charges we saw that were successfully brought against Trump Organization. This is going to look a lot like that.
It certainly makes sense.

Old Times There Are Not Forgotten

The home schooling comment brought me up short. A part of the far right has moved beyond hostility for public schools, to hostility to the whole idea of schools, even religious or private. Twenty years ago now, I had a legal colleague that was deeply conservative. He and his wife had moved their two daughters out of public school into a very conservative evangelical run school. After a few years they weren't satisfied with even that and decided to homeschool their girls so as to keep them away from influences with which they disapproved. He and his wife had attended public schools, he was Ivy League educated and had a law degree, yesterday they rejected any type of formal schooling. Looking back they were the leading edge of today's conservative trend.

Growing up as a kid of the 70's, my middle school science and math teacher had a pile Mother Earth News magazines we could read if we were done with our work. Mixed in with the fun articles on how to raise milk goats and turn an old lawn mower and car alternator into an arc welder (yes this was a real article I wanted to build but my dad was rightly concerned about a 6th grader and enough electrical energy to melt metal). Mixed in were articles of hippies and back to earthers that had pulled their kids from schools so they wouldn't be indoctrinated and could run through the trees rather than sit at a desk. It was the beginning of the home schooling movement. I've mentioned before, but our commissioner of education Frank Edelblut in New Hampshire home schooled his 7 children. He also actively working to gut the public schools in the state and funnel what little education money there is to private (particularly religious) and home schoolers. 

This congressman, our commissioner of education and my former colleague are very different from those back to the land hippies of the Mother Earth news. Whereas the hippies wanted no structure, these latter day home school advocates want absolute control over their children. They all seem to also share a certain nihilism about society and institutions, a rejection of community and any collective action. Looking at that utterly depressing Christmas scene, it's barricading yourself away from the world with literal guns to greet anyone unfortunate enough to show up at the door. For the commission and the congressman, there nihilism isn't just personal, but extends to pulling down the world about them. Be that defunding schools and loading them with onerous requirements, or refusing to make them safer by even the most minimal of gun control (I just finished an article today that seriously questioned if limitations on high capacity magazines could withstand SCOTUS review). 

The current fight is about the existence of public schools, the deeper fight will be about whether we have schools at all. My own faith calls for me to go out into the world, to be in communion and community with all, to hold myself accountable and responsible for others, particularly those with the least. At the same time we have a whole culture that is moving in exactly the opposite direction. This culture controls our state government (a minority of votes but a majority of power through extreme gerrymandering). People that previously weren't concerned with the school budget, or votes for it because it helped local children, are being told the schools are riddled with CRT, teaching children to be trans, teaching socialism and more. They now are energized to tear down the schools. Yesterday our school budget failed, as did the bond issue for a new elementary school to replace the one that regularly floods in the rain and had kids in trailer classrooms in the parking lot. Somehow the two conservative school board candidates that wanted to cut the school budget even more lost to two more reasonable candidates. I am thankful for small miracles, but also yesterday the school emailed everyone they are looking for two community members to be on a committee that will review high school books objected to by parents. 

It's hard to feel hopeful under the current circumstances. 

The same thing is happening in Texas.  The Lege is considering (who knows what will be decided?) giving every parent who wants it $8000 to pull your child from public school and put them in private school.  Mostly this will help parents who already have kids in private school, i.e., the ones with money.  $8000 a year won't pay for much private school, and certainly won't buy you a slot in a private school, so it's a boondoggle and aid to the rich (funneling more money upwards).  If it passes.

Texas currently takes local school tax dollars, which are supposed to stay local, to Austin and applies it to the general fund.  Which should violate the state constitution, which prohibits a statewide property tax.  But the Texas Supremes ruled a few years back that was not a statewide property tax, so carry on (they started this 40 years ago with a ruling that the school funding system violated the State constitution.  So Austin took the money and "redistributed it," realized no one was looking, and started keeping some of it.  The State Supremes didn't want to get in the middle of that fight, so they punted.)  The state pays districts based on attendance.  Remove more kids from the classroom to public schools, lower the state funding.  Most urban districts get less back from Austin than they put in, already.  So let's lower it some more.  (I have my doubts this "voucher" will pass, or last very long.  Rural districts see themselves getting screwed, and they have the Texas GOP by the short hairs.  That and they did this about 20 years ago, and it was such a disaster I think there was a special session just to end it.  But we'll see....)  There's also talk of cutting state payments to schools by $1000 per student.

The local school district here is in serious trouble of going broke.  Literally.  A state agency running out of money.  And the school board is so worried about CRT or what the people who put them on the Board care about (whatever the latest shibboleth is), they won't pay attention to the looming financial crisis.  I guess they can't believe a government entity can run out of money.  But in essence, it soon will, maybe by next fall (when the laws passed in this session usually start taking effect).

If this district is in trouble, so are many, many others.  Mostly in urban, "blue" areas of the state.  (Yeah, the Lege particularly wants to fuck with Houston, and not just by taking over the largest school district in the state. That's why I put that tweet up there.)  It will be interesting if the state has such a large surplus it cuts property tax rates (the taxes collected by cities, counties, and school districts) as a reward to taxpayers, and ends up running several school districts into, well, propbably not bankruptcy; but complete financial inability to operate.  That'll be popular.  I'm not sure they aren't dumb enough to do it, too.

I do think the intent is to destroy the public school system.  I just don't entirely think they'll get away with it.

There's a current controversy at the local school district.  The district is being overwhelmed with demands for book reviews from one parent or another (or probably often not parents, just residents of the district).  This prompted a backlash of people challenging perfectly anodyne books in a (misguided) attempt to show how foolish the (let's call it) first group was being.  Caught in the middle are layers of administrative staff and the Board.

There are two levels of review (initial and appeal) before there can be an appeal to the Board.  One of these recently went on for months because the Board and the complainant couldn't agree on a schedule for the final hearing (it can be like herding cats).  So the Board President proposed a Solomonic solution, and cut the baby in half.  Well, to hear the local news tell it, that's what he did.

The Board decided (4-3) to suspend (for now) the regular review process and set up a single review:  with the Board.  Ordinarily I'd be opposed to this (FWIW to the Board) because it's a 4-3 conservative crazy board.  But reports are they, too, are sick of books and book controversies.  This new process will establish one review, one day for review, you show up to make your case (pick your time, but be there), and it's an up or down vote.  The only result will be the book is "reserved" so it can't be plucked off the shelf by eager fingers (which, in my long experience in school libraries, never enter such libraries).  At worst entire school libraries will end up “reserved."  But books will not be "banned". (That was the problem with local news coverage.  One TV station came to the Board meeting for that vote, reported on it, and never talked to anyone in the district about the backstory.  They just reported the controversy, speaking to a few people in the audience, and presenting it as a review to "ban" books.  As shoddy a practice of "journalism" as you can imagine.)

Of course, the way state school finances are going, the libraries may be shut down anyway, the librarians laid off.  It's that bad on the horizon.

The ray of hope is that parents and residents are sick of this fighting, and even the school board is getting tired (if not more enlightened.  Too few of them seem to appreciate the real problems of the district are financial, and that such is their fiduciary duty to be concerned with.  They aren't functioning, IOW, as a responsible school board.).  A true crisis might galvanize both reform and support for the public school system, despite the best efforts of the GOP.

But even if it does, the cost will be very, very high.

On the statewide level, Dan Patrick (Lite Guv, ruler of the Texas Senate) wants to eliminate tenure at UT.  Not just Austin, but the statewide system.  Rick Perry tried to mess with education at UT (requiring the hiring of more adjuncts; the academic equivalent of peonage).  UT Alumni made sure that didn't happen.  I suspect the same people will squash Patrick like the cockroach he is (he's unkillable politically, but he is often thwarted.  Like a cockroach.).  But there is a concerted and undeniable interest in destroying public education; for reasons I can't quite make sense of.  The anti-education GOP can do a lot of damage, but they can never reach their goal.  What I don't understand is why they are trying to.

I suspect it has to do with Brown v. Board, and the inability to ensure a white public school system that is separate and unequal.  Old times there are not forgotten, after all.  The two high schools in my hometown were both named for racists:  Robert E Lee and John Tyler (Tyler was the President who pushed to get Texas into the Union, so there would be another slave state on the roster).  They've both been renamed because Lee was more notoriously racist than Tyler.  John Tyler is now just "Tyler High School."  Lee is now "Tyler Legacy."  The new building even looks rather like a Greek Revival Southern Plantation house.

Old times there are still not forgotten.  I remember the "legacy" of the race riot at Lee the year after integration took effect.  It wasn't really a "riot," but we took it as one at the time.  I remember the racism aimed at black students by white students before and after that. "Legacy" is a helluva choice for a name.

At least it's still a public school system.  How much longer we'll have that is anybody's guess.  The state Constitution requires the Legislature establish a public school system.  The state Supreme Court will undoubtedly not require that school system to be adequately funded.  Not anymore, they won't.


Cut The Cord

I'm SO glad I don't have cable. Oh, Lindsay, you're such a card! (Don't quit your day job.) (No, I don't think he's referring to BLM "getting away with it" in protests years ago.  I think he's referring to the Southern view of NYC as "lawless" and the current ranting that a Black DA won't prosecute "real crime" while he chases Trump for "hiding an affair from his wife."  Lindsay is not at all original, nor all that subtle in his racism.)
In a post on The Donald, one member wrote, “This cannot go unpunished,” adding that Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg "needs to pay dearly.”

....

Another member, which Vice News describes as an "influential neo-Nazi account on Telegram," wrote, “The whole trans terrorist thing must have been polling badly so they decided to indict Trump based on the testimony of a lying jew and lying whore."

Soros?

“Can’t we put a bounty on Bragg’s head? Time to fight lawlessness with lawlessness,” one user wrote. In response, someone said: “Hey man a lot of us are thinking the same thing, but if I said what should really happen I'd be charged with ‘terroristic threats.’” Another added: “The unjustified prosecution of President Trump is state terrorism. Respond to terrorism with terrorism.”

Dear DOJ:  1000 arrests.  Message received.

Another user referring to the heightened security the day after the indictment, wrote: “Hopefully, it will be remembered as a day of slaughter.”

“They want you p---ed. Looks like WW3 could be off the table for now, so onto plan B: civil war," another user wrote.

Talk is cheap. Law enforcement should keep an eye on these people, but between talk and action there is a wide, wide gap.  Randos on the intertoobs talking tough from their basements is not Proud Boys and Oath Keepers stockpiling armaments in a New York (this time) hotel room and making plans to attack the Manhattan courthouse.  "Plan B: civil war"?  Right.  You and what army?  These guys aren't as big a threat as Timothy McVeigh was.
"Order Unsealing A Grand Jury Matter"  Just dropping that here to remind you Gym Jordan & Co. ain't got shit, ain't gonna get shit, ain't nothin' but shit themselves.  Bragg couldn't even report he'd filed the indictment with the court until this order.  Courts don't play.  Jordan isn't playing, either.  He's eating his crayons.  (If you're particular, this document memorializes an order the court probably entered verbally following the hearing referenced therein yesterday.  So Bragg didn't overstep by announcing the indictment yesterday.  But is Jordan ever going to so much as get Bragg before a committee?  No.) Maybe for pundits and cable talking heads. I think the rest of us will be just fine.  Because, hand to God, the "stress test" for democracy was 4 years of Trump in the White House, and the way he completely mishandled Covid, producing cracks and fractures and anxieties and angers we'll be dealing with for a generation or longer.  Although I still think the salubrious effect of covid was to make many workers re-evaluate their relationship to their jobs and their employers (more demanding to remain work from home; organizing unions in their workplace who can't work from home (Starbucks, etc.)  Every cloud a silver lining.)  This is the "American system" cleaning up from the party and setting the chairs back up they way they should be.  "Stress test"?  Shit, man, I was here for Vietnam and civil rights and Nixon and Reagan.  "Stress test" my ass.

In the interest of blog post economy, I'm gonna just join up another post with this one, like some kind of unholy chimera:
Now do leaning on state officials to get the election results you want.

Then do hiding classified documents and obstructing the search to recover them, combined with conspiring to unleash a violent mob on the Congress when in session in order to overturn the results of an election you didn't win.
And how many times can J.D. Vance blame the subways of New York for indictments in Georgia and by the DOJ? How many racist tropes can they invoke over classified documents and "perfect" phone calls and "BE THERE! WILL BE WILD!"?

Well, I'm sure they'll come up with something.

Meanwhile, there's a criminal case to prosecute.  And the quality of that prosecution rests as much on Trump's defense as it does on the prosecution's case.  Yes, the latter has the burden of proof.  But they've had a year in a grand jury to prepare to meet that burden.  That significantly shifts the burden to the defense, to explain away everything the indictment says Trump did (whatever that is).  Yes, there will be motions to dismiss (it would be malpractice not to); and motions for change of venue (again, malpractice not to).  But the latter probably won't work because Trump has ginned up most of the publicity here (who said he'd be arraigned two weeks ago?).  The dismissals probably won't work, either.  I don't think Bragg is that bad at his job, nor are Trump's lawyers that good.

There's a reason Trump has crappy lawyers, and it's because he's the client from hell.  But crappy lawyers present crappy cases.  Including all the suits to set aside the 2020 election, how many cases has Trump won in court recently?  How well do his legal arguments do? Most of them end up sounding like Trump translated through a lawyer's vocabulary, and little more.  There are fundamental differences between the ways lawyers argue in court and politicians argue in public, and even greater divergence between legal arguments and the arguments of tinpot dictators and petty demagogues.  Trump makes his lawyers sound like him.

I ask again:  how many arguments have his lawyers won since he started hiring lawyers en masse to challenge the 2020 election, and to defend him against civil and criminal investigations?  Everything he's taken to court, in the form of motions of one kind and another (or the civil "suit," if that's what it was, against the DOJ over MAL documents), has been a loss (in the cited case, and absolute spanking, even of the judge).  He's not winning anywhere, and part of the reason for that is the lawyers he hires, and has to hire, because he won't listen to his lawyers.

Put it this way:  OJ had his "Dream Team."  He hired them, and he shut up and let them work.  And he won.  Trump doesn't have a "Dream Team" because even if he put one together, he'd never shut up and let them work.  There's some talk of a possible "gag order" in the Manhattan case.  If there ever is one, it'll be because Trump won't shut up.  And the more he talks, the more he hurts himself in trial.  He can't use that as a defense that the jury pool is tainted; not when he's the one tainting it.  He can't use that as any kind of defense at all.  But the prosecution can use it against him.

Trump really is his own worst enemy.

If Trump Changes His Mind On Tuesday...

Shit, that would be fun!

Interesting...πŸ€”

Having corporations pay sex workers for the purpose of benefitting a political campaign is. The company that owned the National Enquirer paid for the first payment, to McDougal; Trump Organization, by reimbursing the payment that Michael Cohen made, eventually paid for the second payment, to Daniels.

The charges brought against Trump in NY reportedly relate, at least in part, to the second payment — to the treatment of the reimbursement to Cohen as a legal retainer rather than a reimbursement for a political donation. That is, the cheapskate billionaire, who could have legally paid off the women himself, allegedly covered up his cover-up.

Trump’s eponymous corporate persons have already been found guilty of serving as personal slush funds. In 2019, he admitted the Trump Foundation had engaged in self-dealing. And last year, a jury convicted Trump Organization of compensating employees via untaxed benefits rather than salary.

The new charges against Trump aren’t so much unprecedented, as they simply charge Trump’s biological person with the same crimes for which his corporate persons have already been convicted.
I'm gonna leave out the supporting facts (you can read it at the link above), and focus on this idea from the House Judiciary Committee that Trump is being investigated for things he did before taking office:

In 2018, in the days after SDNY seized phones that included recordings of conversations about the hush payments, Trump is suspected of floating a pardon to Cohen to keep him quiet, about this and about the impossibly lucrative Trump Tower deal both had lied to hide from voters in 2016.

....

Note that the payments for Cohen’s legal fees — which stopped after he pled guilty — are another expense that Trump Organization may not have accounted for properly.

Later in 2018, during the period where he was feigning cooperation with Mueller’s prosecutors but really just stalling past the midterm elections, Paul Manafort attempted to lie about some aspect of a different investigation

I've already heard it pointed out once today that payments to Cohen for reimbursement continued in Trump's term in the White House.  Just because he was POTUS, he can't hide his criminal liability.  If lawyers can't hide behind attorney-client privilege, the GOP-imagined "Presidential privilege" has no chance at all.

More fun with corruption!

In the months after Cohen’s plea, Main DOJ attempted to interfere in the Cohen investigation repeatedly, as laid out in Geoffrey Berman’s book. They did so first on Rod Rosenstein’s orders, by demanding the SDNY rewrite Cohen’s statement of offense to hide the degree to which Trump ordered the hush payments (Rosenstein’s deputy, Ed O’Callaghan tried to eliminate all reference to Individual-1).

....

Then, after Bill Barr came in, he amazingly tried to order SDNY to dismiss the charges against Cohen entirely, the functional equivalent of what he tried with Mike Flynn, undoing a successful criminal prosecution after the fact.

As long as we're "testing democracy," let's get the "test" right:

There’s a lot of shite being written about how the indictment of a former President — for actions that stem from cheating to win — will test democracy.

But Trump’s serial cover-ups of his own actions in this and other matters already threaten democracy.

Trump is right: This is about free and fair elections. This is, like most of his allegedly criminal behavior, about his refusal to contest elections fairly. It’s about his corruption of the entire Republican Party, from top to bottom. And it’s about one of at least six times that Trump and his agents have tried to cover up that he cheated to win in 2016.

It doesn't have to do with the legal system doing its job.  It has to do with the alleged criminal trying to evade the law.

"A Date That Will Go Down In History"

"All the news that fits." (No, it's not real.) But as long as we're talking about famous people and humor: I'm not sure they don't believe in witches, though: Is she bringing her crowd with her? Or does she hope there'll still be some left at the store when she gets to the city? "You suggest that your request has a valid legislative purpose because Congress may consider legislation to shield former presidents from state criminal investigations for 'personal act' that do not involve their conduct in office." Well, some ex-Presidents; but not all of them. Seeing as only GOP ex-Presidents have needed protection from criminal investigation in my life time (Nixon; Reagan; Bush; Trump) and three of them received that protection (Presidential pardons), clearly this won't apply to Democratic ex-Presidents ("LOCK 'EM UP!"). But if the investigation does "not involve their conduct in office." why do they need protection from criminal investigation?
You did not identify any such legislative purpose in your initial letter, suggesting that your proposal to “insulate current and former presidents” from state criminal investigations is a baseless pretext to interfere with our Office’s work. Indeed, we doubt that Congress would have authority to place a single private citizen— including a former president or candidate for president—above the law or to grant him unique protections, such as removal to federal court, that are unavailable to every other criminal defendant. “[E]very President takes office knowing that he will be subject to the same laws as all other citizens upon leaving office. This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a bug.” Comm. on Ways and Means v. U.S. Dep’t of Treasury, 45 F.4th 324, 338 (D.C. Cir. 2022).

I'm still asking: why do ex-Presidents get this special consideration, and then only those of one political party?  Of course, history tells us only those of one political party need it, so maybe that answers my second question.

I've got to end with this, because Bragg ain't playin':

Finally, as you are no doubt aware, former President Trump has directed harsh invective against District Attorney Bragg and threatened on social media that his arrest or indictment in New York may unleash “death & destruction.” As Committee Chairmen, you could use the stature of your office to denounce these attacks and urge respect for the fairness of our justice system and for the work of the impartial grand jury. Instead, you and many of your colleagues have chosen to collaborate with Mr. Trump’s efforts to vilify and denigrate the integrity of elected state prosecutors and trial judges and made unfounded allegations that the Office’s investigation, conducted via an independent grand jury of average citizens serving New York State, is politically motivated. See, e.g., Annie Grayer et al., Inside the backchannel communications keeping Donald Trump in the loop on Republican investigations, CNN.com (March 28, 2023), https://tinyurl.com/mr3n675p (“House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik . . . and Trump spoke several times last week alone, where she walked him through the GOP’s plans for an aggressive response to Bragg.”). We urge you to refrain from these inflammatory accusations, withdraw your demand for information, and let the criminal justice process proceed without unlawful political interference.

Odds the House even seeks a subpoena?  Zip and none.  Still.  Odds they can enforce it?  Even worse.

Meanwhile, best way to watch FoxNews ever: 34 counts so far. Fox really needs to save some for Georgia and the DOJ.

Don’t Talk Shite, Boy

You just embarass yourself.

You Say That Like It’s A Bad Thing

Or: Trump supporters go whistling past the graveyard.
"This only helps Trump -- polling shows most voters, including independent voters, see this as partisan,” said one GOP strategist. 
“The rumor of Trump’s indictment only strengthened his position in the GOP primary, I would expect his numbers get even stronger." 
The strategist insisted the indictment would put Democrats on the ropes because they would be forced to comment on anti-Semitic conspiracy theories involving billionaire philanthropist George Soros. 
“It will force their hands to comment on a Soros-funded DA, or not,” the strategist said, “which speaks volumes for GOP voters.” 
Another source who has spoken to Trump for decades agreed, saying the criminal indictment would put Trump in a stronger position. 
“Donald Trump fights his best from the ropes, he really does,” the source said. “Some of his best knockout punches have been from the ropes.” 
“No one is above the law, everyone is entitled to due process,” said one longtime Republican strategist and adviser. “If this was politically driven, every American should be concerned… Justice shouldn’t be arbitrary.” 
“Bet he smiles in his mugshot,” the operative added. “Maybe he’ll bring back THE KRAKEN.”
Bringing back THE KRAKEN is what raises it to art.

That bubble is going to burst so hard. Especially when Smith finally gets indictments and everybody just says: “Get in line.”

The Wisdom Of The Crowd

How About We Not Treat Presidents Like Quasi-Kings?

And recognize that, if not for Gerald Ford and Poppy Bush issuing Iran-Contra pardons , this wouldn’t be unprecedented. And we might actually have learned enough from history by now to have avoided a Trump presidency.

And certainly to have stopped treating presidents as quasi-royalty.

“Two-Tiered Justice “

Cry me a fuckin’ river. 😭  Your client is a two-year old child:

Buckle Up, Buttercup

They've never been "shielded from indictment." Indictments either weren’t necessary, or the President shielded themselves (George H.W.). Or were shielded by their hand-picked successor (Nixon/Ford).

That’s what’s been true for two centuries. Don’t “both sides” this shit. The fault here lies with Trump, entirely. His was the most corrupt administration since Nixon’s. (Nixon’s AG and VP both went to jail, aside from his White House counsel and several aides).
Of course, this is also true: So buckle up, buttercup. We have yet to hear from Georgia or the DOJ.

We’re just getting started. And remember: justice is a rectifying force.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

I Really Can’t Wait For The Trial

On the flip side, I don’t think the Secret Service is worried about what DeSantis won’t do. Tl;dr: Trump is going to NYC for arraignment. Still not a legal defense. Then again, the indictment is still sealed. 😸 Well, he said he wanted it to be on a Tuesday. Legal Twitter is the best Twitter. No knowledge or experience required. FoxNews is obviously in the camp that Presidential candidates are protected from investigation and prosecution. Does that cover any other office being sought? Why, or why not? And yet Kevin McCarthy can’t keep Empty G in line. (And yes, Biden doing what she demands would be an abuse of power.) Definitely not. Co-counsel Eric Trump. "Facts are stupid things." 😼 
I really can’t wait for the trial.
"He was never going to get indicted as a sitting president, and I think that he has an overconfidence in his ability to impact events by intimidation tactics, by pushing out headlines. This is now in the hands of whatever judge he draws, and what the voters think."
Future's so bright...

This Is The Weakest Argument

Trump is being indicted for something (or some things) he did before he won the Presidency. How is this prosecution political? Because he was POTUS once? Is that a “King’s ‘X’” for all of his life, before and after his term? Is he exempted from investigation and prosecution so long as he even tries to run for office? No other office holder or candidate for office gets this privilege. Why a former President?

Still Enjoying It

Still wondering what the Secret Service will do. Looking forward to the trial testimony:

I Do Intend To Enjoy This

Too late for some of us.

The Best Part About This...

...is that it's a "FUCK YOU!" to everybody who thought they knew what the grand jury was up to (well, and to Empty G, and Chip Roy, and Clay Higgins; and Gym Jordan, and James Comer, and Kevin McCarthy...).  And they still don't know:

The indictment is under seal, and the exact charges are unknown. However, they stem from a $130,000 illegal hush payment Trump is accused of facilitating through his former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, to adult film star Stormy Daniels, to cover up an affair the two of them had during the 2016 presidential election.

Trump will rant and rave, and even if he decides to hide in Florida, DeSantis won't help him.  I'm still wondering if Secret Service will recognize an obligation to turn him over to arraignment and processing.  That's a very interesting question.  And if he crosse the judge so much the judge puts him in jail pending trial...?

All sorts of interesting things to come.  And lots and lots of people (starting with Trump, but not ending with him) have no idea what they are talking about.

Keep that in mind.  And let the court system work. 

I (Too) Have A Dream

That second quote actually makes perfect sense to me. The Constitution establishes the federal government. "Well-regulated militias" are a state concern, and especially in the late 18th century, a necessity for protection of the state (since the country didn't extend from sea to shining sea at the time). The "limitation" is on the federal government to allow the states to defend themselves, something no longer needed except by police forces.  I've never understood how that clause is eliminated in favor of "EVERY MAN AS MANY AR-15'S AS HE CAN AFFORD!!!! AND TWICE AS MUCH AMMUNITION!" 

And I still stay the way to control guns is through ammunition. Especially the ammunition for AR-15's. Start there. Tax it out of existence. It won't get that much cheaper on the black market. Tax the bejeesus out of it. It's not perfect, but there is no 2nd Amendment right to use a gun. None at all.

Yeah, but I can dream, can't I?

Tell Me You Don't Know Anything About Incarceration, Without....

...you know the drill. Yeah, it is: That's "shaman's" lawyer. And the reference to Carlson? Yeah, he's supposed to get credit, too: Yeah, it's a whole thing. People on twitter are mostly ignorant morons. That includes U.S. Representatives who you expect would have staff to keep them better informed. So empty G's rants about jailhouse conditions?  Equally ignorant.

You really can't fix stupid.

Leaderliness

I'll just bring this back from two days ago, and drop this beside it: Does McCarthy really think this is going to absolve him of responsibility when the U.S. defaults and the world economy starts crashing? Does he think he's a back-bencher, or does he think he's 3rd in line to the Presidency, holding one of four Constitutionally identified offices (POTUS, VPOTUS, Chief Justice, and Speaker)? Hint: Gingrich just shut down the government (he never let the government default), and it didn't go well for him.


Pretty easy to see McCarthy in that cartoon.

“April is the cruelest month…”

I mean, with that to look forward to. As I’ve surmised: he has no idea what’s coming. And he may find out even campaigning for President won’t keep him out of jail.

The Fear Of The Other Will Always Be With You

something about this tweet, and this tweet: Being back to back in emptywheel's twitter feed is just so perfect (and I take it as coincidence on her part; nothing more).

I remember the '60's, a period later described as a "near civil war," as a time so racous and fractious it was said many societies break up over such unrest.  The war, civil rights, multiple public assasinations, violence (around those assassinations, around the unrest), etc.   Inflation took hold at the end of the '60's, and wasn't broken until Volcker clamped down hard on the economy in the '80's (one vestige of that is credit card interest rates.  Prior to Volcker raising interest rates to control inflation, states had usury laws that capped interest rates at what would be considered absurdly low rates today.  Interest on loans still fluctuates, but credit cards regularly charge 2.5 times the highest possible rates under usury laws which were long ago abandoned.  So it goes.).  The '70's was a time of widespread political violence, mostly an outgrowth of the tensions and violence of the '60's ("Network" wasn't written in a vacuum.  Chayefsky only lightly exagerrated what was going on at the time, though we remember that decade now as all disco and "Saturday Night Fever.").

And I remember, in the late '70's, drinking beers with people convinced the social order was collapsing and we'd all need guns to protect ourselves and we'd better be stocking up on supplies because social order was done for.  (The same idiotic "survivalist" food supplies I can now buy in Costco. I think they mean it as a much more reasonable protection against another Harvey event.  Sic transit gloria.) Again, all those apocalypse movies that turned into zombie apocalypse video games that turned into move franchises?  Nothing new under the sun.  The "end of the world at the hands of humans" genre dates back to the '50's and atomic bombs:  either nuclear war ending all things, or "atomic radiation" creating giants ants, giant people, giant somethings.  I watched a lot of movies on local TV from the '50's about the "end of the world,"  Read a lot of science fiction about it, too.  Eventually it gave way to "bioweapons" which merged with "zombies" from "Night of the Living Dead" and when people quit listening for air-raid sirens and buying cars with symbols on them for CONELRAD stations (for use in national emergencies) and noting where the air raid shelters were (or building them in their backyards), they just shifted their anxiety to societal collapse because if the nukes weren't gonna bring it, "crazy people" were.  Or "big governments," which were the same people who were gonna bring nuclear apocalypse, so it was a pretty easy transition.

It was rather legitimately based on "economic anxiety" because the American Dream of the post-war era began to fail by the '70s,  a failure Reagan accelerated in the  '80's as boom and bust became a regular pattern we all just adjusted to.  Salaries soared for certain groups/businesses, and then those high-fliers were homeless and a new group soared to heights Midas never dreamed of; and the cycle repeated, about once every 7 (or less) years.  The Texas economy smashed to bits over the S&L debacle.  Bankruptcy, once barely a niche practice, much less a boutique one, became the only game in Austin.  I still remember the shift in understanding over the "bankruptcy stay." A lawyer at a docket call announced a case was stayed because on party had filed bankruptcy.  Lawyers harrumphed that Texas judges wouldn't recognize such nonsense; but fairly quickly we all did, because it was in the Bankruptcy Code, and where nobody had encountered it before, it quickly became SOP.

And then there was a boom again, and everybody forgot about the bust; until the next bust came along.  And housing prices soared, and mortgage rates soared, too.  And it was going too fast and too hard and something had to give, so why wouldn't it be society itself, and social order, and the "American Way Of Life" nobody could afford anymore, but nobody could do without, either.  My parents had bought their first house before I was conceived.  I bought my first house before my daughter was conceived, but I was married for 15 years before she came along, and in the house less than a year.  My parents were in a house almost the moment after they married.

Economic anxiety was very real, even if it wasn't by 2016.

So I've heard the grumbling that upsets Jeff Sharlet so, all my adult life.  I suspect it was there in the '60's, and the '50's, and the '40's.  In fact, my reading in American literature convinces me it's been there, one way or another, since the Republic.  It was certainly a factor in the Revolution, which was always more about economics than politics or "democracy."  Frankly, looked at a certain way, the "American experiment" is always about to fly apart.

Looked at another way, it isn't.  Apocalyptic visions of social dysfunction and moral breakdown led the reporting on New Orleans during the drowning left by Katrina.  Stories poured out of horrors in the Superdome where people sheltered:  gangs and violence and rape and murder and looting and burning and pillaging and...  Precious little of it was true.  People huddled in the 'Dome took care of each other, helped each other, cared for each other.  Much as would happen when busses of people came to Houston and were sheltered here before being relocated to housing and, in many cases, new lives.  There was some property crime, some "bad actors" set loose in neighborhoods.  But social order didn't break down then any more than it did years later when Harvey flooded Houston and the "Cajun Navy" came from Louisiana to help.  People helped their neighbors; they didn't kill them and steal their stuff and the town didn't dissolve into anarchy.  Not even years earlier when everyone created a traffic jam from here to Dallas and the town stood empty, ripe for the plucking.  Those of us who stayed here didn't rampage through empty houses, stealing electronics and guns and food.

But, you know, some cranks (there are always cranks.  I've known hundreds of them in 60+ years) threatening violence (and talk is cheap; still) is a sign of the end times.  Again.

Sure it is.  This time, right? Not like all those other times.  This time it's different!

Sure it is.

Back In The House Of Mouse

This is the analysis I was looking for this morning:

But Disney’s lawyers are smarter:

The board announced that a hired special council [sic] discovered agreements were made in February between Disney and Reedy Creek, weeks ahead of the signing of HB-9B, which handed over direct control of the district’s development rights and privileges to the company.

Board member Ron Peri’s said the group of five that Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed to take control of Disney’s “corporate kingdom” has very little power to govern.

The agreements even make the new board get Disney’s permission before trying to do anything! Sometimes it’s awesome to behold lawyers at work.

As it turns out, seizing control of a lawfully constituted board doesn’t turn on a dime and while DeSantis talked up his plan to the fawning right-wing press, the old board continued entering agreements in the best interest of the area it oversaw. And the best interest of the area involved tying up the land in concrete agreements benefiting the company that drives all economic growth in the area and not the current governor’s polling in Iowa. Tying them up as long as the Rule Against Perpetuities will allow!
And that is why it still makes it onto the bar exam.

The Rule Against Perpetuities is a bit of law professor navel gazing that the courts go hold of to, as they please, eliminate contracts and landholdings that, well, simply go on too long.  It's a way of keeping property (mostly land) from being held by one entity or family for too damned long.  And it seldom comes up again in a lawyer's life after the Bar Exam.


It's buried in the legalese there, but the contract provides that, if it is deemed to violate the Rule Against Perpetuities, then the term of the contract shall run until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of King Charles III of England. It's hard not to agree with Joe Patrice, that: "Maybe DeSantis shouldn’t have made all the “corporate kingdom” swipes."

I point this out because tout le Twitter is talking about the "King Charles" clause.  But such clauses (despite the reference to the monarch of England, which is not common in contracts) as this, preserving the agreement against challenges like the Rule, are very common.  Most contracts are written with all kinds of provisions to set the term in ways the courts won't undo; as well as all manner of clauses for "severance" so that if one clause is found in violation of law, the rest of the contract abides.  Courts usually act in favor of the contract if they can, and lawyers have learned over the centuries how to make the contract survive if it, to use a metaphor, loses a limb or two.  That's exactly why this clause is there.  There are no doubt many such clauses in this contract (as well as the blanket severance clause every contract has as a matter of course).

Which makes DeSantis' response ("An initial review suggests these agreements may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law.") really weak indeed.  It's what you say when you don't really have anything but want to go to court anyway.  I'm not saying Disney has this sown up.  I'm just saying DeSantis is pretty much up shit creek without a paddle.

Or, as Patrice puts it:

DeSantis may well try to toss legally executed agreements in the rubbish, but there’s not a lot to suggest that the legal team assembled by one of the most powerful entities on the planet asked GPT to throw together a slapdash agreement.

I'd say this clause alone is a fine example of how well-crafted this agreement is.  And certainly good enough to spank DeSantis in public. 

The old board GAVE PUBLIC, CONTEMPORANEOUS NOTICE OF ALL OF THESE AGREEMENTS. If DeSantis could’ve been bothered to stop yammering to every cable news outlet about stopping the woke mob, he might’ve sent some lawyers to do something about these deals. But he slept on his rights — or more accurately the rights of the puppet board he planned to install — and the deed is now literally and figuratively done.

DeSantis couldn't be bothered with the details.  He just wanted the public applause. Gee, whose governance does that sound like?

Now let’s all go over to Truth Social and watch Trump roast this guy for bungling his first attempt at playing with the big kids.

I'm sure somebody on Twitter will tell me all about it.