Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Conventional Wisdom Watch

And an empty field helps Trump. Aside from DeSantis, whose numbers are dropping like a stone in deep water, the field might as well be empty. If it was only Trump, non-Trump voters would not vote in the primaries. A few voters will turn out for Haley or Scott or (yeah, right!), Christie; but this isn’t 2016. Trump is not a spoiler with a reputation from reality TeeVee. The field is not a toss-up. It’s Trump’s race to lose.  There’s nothing now to indicate he would lose the nomination to any one other candidate in 2024.

Crowded field, empty field: same results. Unless that crowded field dilutes his support, and throws the whole thing into the convention. Funny nobody regards that as a possibility yet.  But prognosticators are always fighting the last campaign, and in the GOP this year that means 2016.

But you can’t replay that one and expect the same results.

This Is So Pathetic…

...it’s laughable. Sad, too; in equal measure. This is just a laundry list of crazy. It almost makes Chip Roy seem sensible. It certainly attempts to up the ante on the crazy that crashed and burned in the debt ceiling negotiations. Yeah, I think Mad Marge is trying to get her street cred back. First 19 tweets to justify the debt ceiling settlement, and now this? She’s trying to get invited back to the kewl kids table.

Two Things Can Be True At Once

It can be correct that journalists are being played. But that’s not just because they can’t distinguish what they know from what prosecutors know; because the lawyers on a case ALWAYS know more about it than even the clients know.

That’s because the lawyers are uniquely placed to know the facts and the law of the case. But that means they know the law that applies to the facts, and what those facts and those laws (and “laws” here means statutes, common law (although there is no common law in the U.S., but there is. It’s complicated. And then there’s case law, both guiding (in general) and directly relevant) mean to each other in prosecution or defense; but that should be “and,” not “or.” You have to think both sides. 

And you have to know the basic tenet of law: “Change the facts, change the outcome.” Sometimes one minor change in fact is meaningless; sometimes it changes the law that applies and how it applies. How do you know when the latter happens? Go to law school. Get a law degree. Practice law. And try your case in court. And see how it turns out. One judge may say the change in facts makes a significant difference in what law applies, and how. Another may say it makes no difference at all.

This is why we have trials; and appeals.  And legal commentators who talk like fools; and those who are careful not to draw hasty conclusions. And reporters who want the answers to be simple and straightforward. And why we can’t have nice things.

And journalists imagine they understand what a criminal investigation is doing because they know there’s a tape where Trump says something they think is incriminating? Or something?

They have no idea. For example:
This is useful evidence for the narrative to the jury; but it’s not legally dispositive, or crucial.

Trump could not legally declassify documents, whatever he says. And the court would block any “evidence” that he could, and instruct the jury in the charge to ignore any claims to the contrary. This tape could be used to show Trump knew he hadn’t declassified the documents; but that would go to the veracity of his defense, not to establish his guilt.

I should say “attempted defense.”  Trump will try to put that defense into play.  This will help blunt whatever he gets in around the judge’s orders. And it will show Trump knew what he had and knew that he had it.  That’s really more important to the prosecution. If only because it establishes a violation of the Espionage Act:
e) Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it;
That’s not a dispositive citation because the case law can alter the outcome, and we don’t know the facts even of this tape. We don’t know what the prosecutors know, plain and simple. So when you get this: That is, a lawyer on TeeVee discussing a case he/she is not involved in. I’ve worked on cases where other lawyers discussed what the case, when they had no idea what the facts, and so the applicable law, was. Or what we needed it to be for our client (yes, it works that way, too). Lawyers on TeeVee are pretty much talking out of their ass. Not always, but take it with a large amount of salt. They are trying a case that isn’t in court yet, on TeeVee. How much do you think that’s worth now? Trump’s lawyer is on TeeVee because…well, I don’t know why. Because Trump wants him to be? Probably. Think back to O.J.’s “Dream Team” ( if you can). They tried their case in court, not in the press. They did a very good job. Trusty shouldn’t be in front of cameras, either. He should be talking to his counterparts at the DOJ, not on TV sets and sending letters to the AG (a. pointless and even revealing (of weakness) act). But even then, he could win for his client. It all depends on the courtroom. Nothing else matters.

Trusty won’t answer the questions because he shouldn’t. There are laws and legal ethics involved. He really shouldn’t be in front of that camera.  Even what he says is trying the case on TeeVee. Which is useless. As is breathless reporting about the investigation “accelerating” or “taking a new turn,” or any of the other legal reporting cliches.

And it really, really, REALLY, doesn’t matter what gets reported or what TeeVee lawyers say it means. Whatever reporters know, they don’t know what prosecutors know. The best commentators limit their comments accordingly. And prosecutors don’t tell reporters everything they know for the same reason Jim Trusty evades questions on CNN. 

The cases won’t be decided by polls or tweets or ratings. They will be decided by juries, in courts of law. Everything else is persiflage.

A belated example of what I mean:
Investigators have several recordings. We have a few minutes of one. We know far less than they do. And a little knowledge is always a dangerous thing.

“Cancel Culture” Is Now A Meaningless And Empty Phrase

Please cancel it from your vocabulary..

(Did you see what I did there? 😼)

So It’s NOT Just Me!

And how many outside the bubble will even hear it?

I Remember When "W" Had A "Mandate"

Or "politica capital," as he put it, and he was gonna spend it cutting Social Security. Not for retirees, he insisted; but for their grandchildren.

It was the proverbial turd in the national punchbowl, and even W dropped it like a bad habit less than six months after the ballot counting had stopped.  Seems grandparents are rather fond of their grandchildren.  And Social Security and Medicare are still the third-rail of politics, because old people are still reliable voters.

Not to mention anyone of working age with a job and an investment already in the fund.

So, sure, Kev, you're gonna get a "bipartisan commission" together. And they're gonna recommend cuts to Social Security and Medicare, because those programs help people, not political donors (defense contractors and contractors to military bases and the communities that benefit economically from military bases).

Tell me one commission that came up with one good suggestion that actually became law.  The last one I can remember that actually saw a recommendation implemented created the Dept. of Homeland Security.  And though I sound like an MTG acolyte to say it (*shudder!*), we could pretty much do without that one.

So, like most commissions, this one is just for show, right? Gotta appease your Freedom Caucus crazies somehow, huh?  I mean, if you're to remain the weakest Speaker since John Boehner, right? You know you could step down and let somebody else win that title, right?  Although then they'd be the weakest speaker since Kevin McCarthy, so I guess that's not much of an improvement, is it?

Too bad.

I Am Not Googling “Tuck Swimwear”

I’m just not. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

A Presidential Campaign In The Bubble, For The Bubble

Governor Ron DeSantis kicked off his official presidential campaign tour on Tuesday, traveling to Iowa after announcing last week he was launching a White House run. On Wednesday, the Republican bragged to GOP voters that in Florida he recently signed a bill into law banning teachers from forcing children to pick pronouns, insisting it is happening in other states. 
“It is wrong for a teacher to tell a student that they may have been born in the wrong body, or that their gender is a choice,” DeSantis announced. 
“We don’t allow this in the state of Florida, and we actually just signed legislation protecting students from having teachers force them to pick pronouns, which they are doing in some parts of this country, at [a] very, very young age. We’re not competing in the ‘pronoun sweepstakes.’ We’re going to have school just like school’s been, from time in memoriam [sic], we’re not going to do all this other stuff,” he declared.
You’ve got to be so deep in the bubble that doesn’t need an explanation. But outside the bubble: “Huh?”

Should be an interesting primary season.  If I can manage the bloody awful journalism we’re gonna get.

The Mad Old Hermit Endorsement

JMM’s comments are good; but it’s the drawing of Randy Quaid as bearded crackpot that raises it to art.

If this doesn’t make its way into a Biden campaign tweet, I shall be disappointed.

Time For A "Greater Tuna" Revival In Austin!

Or "A Tuna Christmas" for the holiday season! Back where it all began!

πŸ‘΄πŸ»

I'm old enough to remember when Andrew Bacevich was a voice in the wilderness saying this about the GOP (that they weren't "serious"), and using Reinhold Niebuhr to back it up.

That was 15 years ago. I doubt anyone would remember.  But I'm not impressed with the Lincoln Project/Resolute Square/Atlantic crowd now who want to purge their garments so that they be white as snow.  I'm not interested in hanging blame on them for the sins of their fathers, either.  But Jeebus, fellas, show a little humility and awareness of history.  15 years is a lifetime ago only to punk kids who've only been alive for 30 or less. (Yes, Nichols says he's been arguing with the Heritage Foundation for 40 years.  That only makes his argument worse.  Heritage hasn't changed its stripes.)

You can do better.  And yes, Heritage was always a nest of kooks.  Nothing's changed except, like all things and persons that age, their true nature is just more obvious.  This is the future you worked so assiduously to create when you were younger (you're all still younger than me!  Damn punk kids!).  Quit denying responsibility for it.

Bacevich didn't.  That's why he's ignored today, and still a more serious thinker than all of you combined.

In Niebuhr's view, although history may be purposeful, it is also opaque, a drama in which both the story line and the dΓ©nouement remain hidden from view. The twists and turns that the plot has already taken suggest the need for a certain modesty in forecasting what is still to come. Yet as Niebuhr writes, "modern man lacks the humility to accept the fact that the whole drama of history is enacted in a frame of meaning too large for human comprehension or management."

Such humility is in particularly short supply in present-day Washington. There, especially among neoconservatives and neoliberals, the conviction persists that Americans are called up on to serve, in Niebuhr's most memorable phrase, "as tutors of mankind in its pilgrimage to perfection."

Exactly.  

Now git offa mah lawn! 

Elon Musk Is A Troll IRL

He's 52 years old (near enough for dammit) and, like a junior high student just discovering "girls," thinks this is how you flirt with them.

Of he's just a jackass.  Either one works.

By the way: Elmo, however, remains a genius.

ADDING: and no, Musk didn't buy Twitter for some strategic reason, nor is he using it as part of a grand scheme to communicate racism and conspiracy theories (although that is how he's using it, it's just not a diabolical plan).  Musk bought Twitter because he thought it'd be cute (or fun; or he was drunk; or he is that stupid.  I think any one of those is valid.)  to make an offer on it, but in his mind he had his fingers crossed.

Except the board of Twitter and the chancery court in Delaware didn't see it that way.

Musk didn't have a three-dimensional chess plan for Twitter.  He blurted out an offer that he later tried to label "just kidding!" Except if I'd offered to buy Twitter for a gazillion dollars, Twitter wouldn't have noticed, much less tried to hold me to it.  Musk, OTOH, was at the time The Richest Man In The World.  When he tried to back out of the check his mouth had written that his ass couldn't cash, that title was his undoing.  (The irony here being when  George Soros' investment fund dumped their Tesla stock, and Musk got all pissed off and revealed his anti-semitism for all to see.  And Soros was perfectly within his rights to sell Tesla stock, just as Twitter was within its rights to call Musk on his offer.  Only Musk thinks the rules don't apply to him.)  There was no clever plan for world domination.  It was just the act of a rich fool finding out his mouth really could write checks his ass couldn't cash (sorry; I liked that metaphor so much I had to use it twice!).

Stop looking for explanations that are more complicated than the facts in the public record.  That's how conspiracy theories are born.

Now Do Florida

Or, to be fair: Texas.

I Am Obviously A Dinosaur πŸ¦•

No, not the cool kind, either. πŸ¦– 

Can’t Count To Three…

Doesn’t understand the oath of office.
Under [Joe] Biden's current policies, even though these millions of illegal border crossers have entered the country unlawfully, all of their future children will become automatic U.S. citizens," he said. "Can you imagine? They'll be eligible for welfare, taxpayer-funded health care, the right to vote, chain migration, and countless other government benefits, many of which will also profit the illegal alien parents." 
"As part of my plan to secure the border on day one of my new term in office, I will sign an executive order making clear to federal agencies that under the correct interpretation of the law, going forward, the future children of illegal aliens will not receive automatic U.S. citizenship."
Can’t read the constitution.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
That’s the one he swears to preserve, protect, and defend. It doesn’t say presidents can determine citizenship. It says citizenship is determined by place of birth.  Congress can’t alter that. The President can’t alter that. That’s the only possible “correct interpretation of the law.”

I have to add he has a very limited vocabulary:

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Put A Fork In Her, She’s Done

From now on, MTG needs to hear only two words: “Tara Reade.” Asked as a question. Asked by anyone who has her in front of a camera.

You Know….

...freedom of speech... ...is also the freedom to say really dumb things. And just because Democrats don’t stop them from saying it, and don’t unleash the flying monkeys onto Twitter immediately after something is said, doesn’t mean “they win and we lose!”

Really. Get over the zero sum game reasoning. Granted, nobody’s paying attention to DeSantis right now (beyond political Twitter). But right now he’s nothing more than one more declared candidate for the GOP nomination for president.

And I gotta tell ya his outreach, even to MAGA, sux.

As much as I enjoy it, political Twitter is getting real hard to take seriously. This one, for example, is only a few hours old, and already it's running away with itself:
No. Just: no. Paxton is bragging a la Trump's "border wall" pronouncements. There are no facts here, not as he describes the case. Calm down. There is a reason criminal investigations are long and complicated while internet memes spring up in a few hours and become "true" in less time than that. As I mentioned before, what the Texas Supreme Court said was that voters could mean "covid" when they said they had a "disability" (the term in the statute) and needed a mail-in ballot.


The respondents do not have a ministerial duty, reviewable by mandamus, to look beyond the application to vote by mail. Moreover, while the State has alleged that the Clerks are accepting “improper application[s],” there is no evidence in the record that any has accepted a faulty application.

The Clerks have assured us that they will fully discharge their duty to follow the law. We are confident that they will follow the guidance we have provided here. Accordingly, we conclude that issuing the writ of mandamus to compel them to do so is unwarranted.

Got that?  Paxton asked for a court order (mandamus) telling county clerks not to accept mail in ballots because the "disability" was covid, even though the box only says "disability," not "...and which one?"  The court said, explicitly (last sentence) they wouldn't issue such an order.

That's what Paxton asked for.  That's what he didn't get.  The court did, in dicta, say counties can't send ballot applications to all and sundry, but only to those who request one, again per the statutes.  The court also said covid was not a "disability" under the statute; but the county clerks didn't have to check on what voters meant by "disability."  So whether or not covid was the reason, was a moot point.  Paxton spun that bland statement into a "win!"  It wasn't.  What I said in 2020 still holds:

(My suspicion is Paxton's office said "Hey, we won!" and reporters were stupid enough to take their word for it.  The opinion isn't even that hard to read, and surely they have access to lawyers if they stumble over "mandamus" and don't understand that's what Paxton was asking for and didn't get.  We the people really are not well served by our institutions, including the "fourth estate."  My daughter The Golden Child scion of a lawyer would understand this ruling better than that, and she might ask me what "mandamus" meant anyway.  Ignorant reporters reporting on legal decisions are the worst.) 

Let me put it in plain sentences.  Paxton sued to get a court order.  He didn't get his court order.  Lawyers call that "losing."  Paxton says he won, anyway.  Paxton is a liar spinning things to his own advantage, a la Trump.  End of story.

Except now, instead of credulous and ignorant reporters, it's people on Twitter who think Paxton is telling the truth (for once?), and has given away the game.  He's mini-Trump, however, and he's not even lying.  He's just full of empty braggadocio, which in this case is not a crime.  He didn't win that issue.  He didn't suppress any ballots in Harris County.  He didn't do anything but waste taxpayer money on a case that he took to the Supremes, who wouldn't touch it with a club.

Now please get over it.  Please.  I remember when the important thing in on-line political discussions was to be the "fact-based community."  Whatever happened to that? 

Or How To Buy A Microwave Oven

I’ve bought an entire range and oven (natural gas.  The black helicopters can pry it from my cold, dead fingers. By the way, it has excellent ventilation.) and didn’t get anything in writing. Well, except the e-mail confirmation of what I bought and what I paid. On my phone. Which is how I bought it, too.

“Get it in writing”? What does that mean? Even FoxNews doesn’t know.
And as long as we’re talking about Republicans: arbeit macht frei.  Or at least it adds value to your humanity.
And "fake news" is soon to be retired to the Museum of Forbidden Phrases.
I can’t decide which is sadder. Although I’m pretty sure Boebert is running third.

πŸ… πŸ†

The fun part here is: how would that be enforced? I mean, you could kick a few people off of committees, but pretty soon that becomes self-immolation. And what about MTG, who is praising the deal? Excommunicate her? Don’t threaten me with a good time. Still don’t understand how they thought they could enforce that.  Or how nobody could have foreseen: Which raises the question: why do all the House Republicans keep voting in lockstep? Where is this majority that is being so abused?

There’s a reason you don’t ride the tiger to the end of the line.
But you always find that out when it’s too late.

Dark Brandon Ascendant




“Look On My Works, Ye Mighty, And Despair”

This got so little attention I assumed it was only visible on Trump’s website. I didn’t realize it was part of the record of the impeachment proceedings. Paxton is not Abbot’s attorney general. It’s an elected office over which the governor has no authority.
Trump’s ignorance makes this tweet true:
But more and more that just doesn’t matter to the rest of us.

The Intertoobs Run On Fear*

Fear which, like an old steam engine, must be stoked constantly. So AI is the next horseman of the Apocalypse which will doom us all.

Since nukes and the internet and Trump didn’t do it.

I mean, how does AI make this worse?
Fewer staff writers? Increased unemployment for professional liars? More pictures of Republicans in 19th century (style) military uniforms?

*(and what is outrage but the fear that somebody, somewhere, is getting to something you can’t, or that you don’t like?)

Nope.

I’d like this to be true, but: nope.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said former President Donald Trump would have lost in Texas in the 2020 election if his office had not successfully blocked counties from mailing out applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters. 
Harris County, home to the city of Houston, wanted to mail out applications for mail-in ballots to its approximately 2.4 million registered voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the conservative Texas Supreme Court blocked the county from doing so after it faced litigation from Paxton's office. 
"If we'd lost Harris County—Trump won by 620,000 votes in Texas. Harris County mail-in ballots that they wanted to send out were 2.5 million, those were all illegal and we were able to stop every one of them," Paxton told former Trump adviser Steve Bannon during the latter's War Room podcast on Friday. 
"Had we not done that, we would have been in the very same situation—we would've been on Election Day, I was watching on election night and I knew, when I saw what was happening in these other states, that that would've been Texas. We would've been in the same boat. We would've been one of those battleground states that they were counting votes in Harris County for three days and Donald Trump would've lost the election," the Republican official said.
Besides, Paxton was bragging to Steve Bannon. Reality was harsher:
Although the [Texas Supreme] court sided with Paxton's interpretation of what constitutes a disability, it indicated that it is up to voters to assess their own health and determine if they meet the state's definition. 
"We agree, of course, that a voter can take into consideration aspects of his health and his health history that are physical conditions in deciding whether, under the circumstances, to apply to vote by mail because of disability," the court ruled.
The high court also rejected Paxton’s request to prevent local election officials from sending mail-in ballots to voters who were citing lack of immunity to the coronavirus as a disability. Those officials denied they were operating outside the law and argued they cannot deny ballots to voters who cite a disability — even if their reasoning is tied to susceptibility to the coronavirus. 
When voters cite disability to request an absentee ballot, they're not required to say what the disability is. The voters simply check a box on the application form, and if their application is properly filled out, locals officials are supposed to send them a ballot. The state ultimately conceded that officials can't reject those voters.
I remember this case, and though I’m too lazy to search my archives, I remember it wasn’t a victory for Paxton. He tried to spin it into one, but the Supreme Court threw all his legal theories into the shredder. He’s not belatedly confessing a crime here. He’s bragging about something he bragged about 2 years ago. And his brag has all the substance of Trump’s brag that he built the border wall.

Sorry, but there’s no there, here.

No Filter At All

Not a dog whistle. Boy, that AI sure fooled me! So you’ll obliterate Disney, Target, and Anheuser Busch, and any other company that doesn’t agree with you 100%? And then eliminate or outlaw any person who disagrees with you? I’m sure this will include banning all the books, just to tidy up.

Sounds fair. And: outreach!
One of these people is obviously suffering from dementia. And the other one is the sitting President of the United States.

Keep Telling Yourself That

"Can’t find his pants”?

Sure, whatever.




My Sentiments Exactly

(And no, I’m not going to hunt it down. Life’s too short. I remember seeing some episodes of “The Sopranos,” and all I could think was that Scorsese did it better. So I’m sure I’m not poorer for this.) Oh, okay, that’s why I didn’t watch it. (Pretty sure that makes it no more than a drop of water in the cultural ocean.)

Monday, May 29, 2023

On This Week

I don’t understand the relevance of this at all. Oh, that’s right!

Memorial Day

“I Am A Child Of The Sixties…”

And this is the militaristic bullshit I despise on Memorial Day. I don’t care what nouns they use, or don’t use. The entire sentiment is wrong.

The day began as a day to remember dead family members lost in the Civil War. It was an informal observance in the south, of a war fought to maintain the Union and, belatedly, free the slaves. The revolutionary war was fought for our freedom, but one of the freedoms established from that was no standing army. We didn’t have one for a century or more. The Pentagon was built by FDR as a government archive, not as a permanent military headquarters. He expected the huge wartime military to disband, as it always had before.

We didn’t win our freedom in the Civil War, or any territorial or imperialist war of the 19th century; nor in any war in the 20th century.. Nobody won our freedom, or preserved it, in Korea or Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan. Especially in Vietnam and Afghanistan, a lot of people died to no purpose at all.

It’s Memorial Day. Honor the dead. They deserve that much. But leave the bullshit to others. And leave them to their own devices.

Electoral Math Is Hard

It's the electoral math that confuses me. Cruz only beat Beto by 2 points, but he beat Beto. I’m not sure Paxton would lose in ‘24, even after the House vote (if they hadn’t impeached, I mean). I don’t see any recent history to indicate otherwise.

This vote was to establish some standards for Texas government, however low they are (until he came begging the Lege to pay for his sins, they weren’t too bothered by him).

As for the math that confuses JMM, I believe Dutton voted “Present, Not Voting.” He wanted the other Dems to join him in that, denying the Republicans a majority vote.





Sunday, May 28, 2023

“…that word means what you think it means.”

What job,  pray tell, do you think he’s been doing?
Among other things, Paxton allegedly fired four employees after they reported “acts of criminal bribery, tampering with government records, harassment, obstruction of justice, and abuse of office” to the FBI. 
FBI agents executed search warrants on Paul’s home and office in August 2019, the lawsuit says. 
From there, Paul started calling in favors with Paxton. They included him asking Paxton to execute search warrants on nearly everyone involved in the chain of events that led to Paul’s own search, including: 
Per the lawsuit, Paul and Paxton enjoyed a cozy personal relationship as Paul made his demands. Paul allegedly hired Paxton’s mistress, which she then hid on her Linkedin profile. He gave Paxton a “major remodeling” of Paxton’s home in 2020 as well. 
In exchange, Paxton used his office to undertake a series of action so egregious, the lawsuit says, “that they could only have been prompted by illicit motives such as a desire to repay debts, pay hush money, or reciprocate favors extended by Paul.” 
In one instance, Paxton allegedly intervened to approve an open records request from Paul’s attorneys for records related to the FBI searches. When the records were released, Paxton allegedly “personally took the file, including all the responsive documents, which included documents sealed by a federal court, and did not return it for approximately seven to ten days.” 
In another, Paul was facing litigation from a charity that his businesses had partnered with. The charity sued Paul’s company, claiming that it was being denied access to books and records from its business partner, with a receiver eventually being appointed to oversee the companies. 
Paxton allegedly tried to use the attorney general’s office to interfere in the case, including one episode in which staff purportedly had to talk him down from appearing in person at a hearing in the matter.  
Keep in mind: these are allegations made in the lawsuit. But Texas House investigators later corroborated many of these claims after Paxton agreed to issue an apology as part of a $3.3 million settlement that lawmakers never agreed to fund. 
Other allegations involved Paxton issuing a legal opinion which used COVID-19 to justify halting foreclosure proceedings in August 2020, just as Paul had several foreclosures pending in Austin. 
But arguably the most stunning allegations — substantiated by the Committee’s investigation — show how far Paxton went in trying to block the FBI’s probe. 
“The OAG has approximately 400 open criminal cases and 2,000 open criminal investigations each year,” the lawsuit reads. “Paxton rarely showed an interest in any pending criminal investigations, but he showed an extraordinary interest in investigations sought by Nate Paul.” 
Paxton allegedly set up a meeting with the Travis County District Attorney in an effort to have a criminal investigation into the federal prosecutors and FBI agents examining Paul opened. Specifically, Paxton wanted the officials to investigate a claim by Paul that the feds had forged a search warrant after a real one had been signed off on by a federal magistrate, thereby unlawfully gaining access. 
As Attorney General officials denied that claim, Paul leaked the fact of Paxton’s investigation into his obviously false claims to the media — a winning strategy if there ever was one, but an approach which pales in comparison to what may have been the denouement of Paxton’s attempt to use his office to help his buddy out. 
In September 2020, Paxton hired an attorney named Brandon Cammack as outside counsel. With five years of experience under his belt, Cammack allegedly began to investigate those investigating Paul. 
Paxton purportedly claimed that he was “tired of his people not doing what he had asked,” before allegedly directing Cammack to act as a “special prosecutor.” 
Per the lawsuit, Paxton empowered Cammack to act as a “special prosecutor” even though he hadn’t yet signed a contract with the Office of the Attorney General. One of the alleged whistleblowers to-be refused to sign an employment contract for Cammack; Cammack then, allegedly, at Paxton’s direction, falsely claimed to be a special prosecutor “in order to obtain grand jury subpoenas under false pretenses to investigate, harass, and intimidate Nate Paul’s perceived adversaries.” 
In that mostly fake role, Cammack allegedly obtained 39 grand jury subpoenas directed at “law enforcement agents and federal prosecutors” involved in the Nate Paul investigation — much of the list that Paul initially asked Paxton to investigate. 
It’s a stunning allegation of abuse of power, and one that essentially reads like a crime spree undertaken from within and with the reins of a state law enforcement agency.
And then he asked Texas taxpayers to pay for his behavior. All good for Texas? 

We must have different dictionaries.

☠️

The problem with Covid is that more people didn’t get sick; or die. Rich people need our sympathy. And their money. Math is hard.

“Don’t Let Paxton’s Corruption…”

...distract from the fact that Paxton won re-election.
It is an attempt to overthrow an election. I look at it as an attempted coup to disenfranchise voters like me who just four months ago voted for Ken Paxton knowing all these allegations were out there,” Glass said outside the House gallery immediately after the vote.
Says a woman who ran for Governor as a Libertarian in 2014. Not necessarily a representative sampling, IOW. More people in the Capitol didn’t seem to know anything was going on:
Two women walked out of the Capitol into the sunshine, one of them expressing surprise that the building remained open after 5 p.m. on a Saturday. 
“They’re voting on something today,” the other one said, but she couldn’t remember what.
Of course, there are always political activists who think everyone thinks like them:
I’m here to watch history in the making and stand for our Attorney General Ken Paxton,” said Marcia Watson, 60, with Citizens Defending Freedom, a political nonprofit. 
Watson said none of the information revealed by the House General Investigating Committee, which has been secretly investigating Paxton since March, is new to voters and that voters reelected him despite the accusations and indictments against him.
I, for one, wasn’t aware of the charges of constitutional bribery (state, not federal, constitution). Too bad the Lege disbanded that Public Integrity Unit in Austin. They could use it about now.

And contrary to MAGA opinion, voters do not have an unalloyed choice to vote for corrupt politicians. The people have a say through their representatives, and Paxton could be barred from holding state office for life.

Me, I look forward to that.

(And for the people disappointed in the evidence presented to the “grand jury,” just wait for the trial. I really want to see Paxton’s defense.)

Saturday, May 27, 2023

You’re Gonna Face Trial, Ken

You ready for that?
Ken Paxton blasted his impeachment and suspension from office, calling the proceeding a “politically motivated sham” pushed by Democrats and those he called “Republicans in name only.” 
He is now hoping for “a quick resolution” in the Republican-dominated Texas Senate, which will hold a trial after the similarly GOP-controlled Texas House voted overwhelmingly to impeach him as attorney general. 
“I am beyond grateful to have the support of millions of Texans who recognize that what we just witnessed is illegal, unethical, and profoundly unjust,” Paxton said in a statement Saturday. “I look forward to a quick resolution in the Texas Senate, where I have full confidence the process will be fair and just.” 
The Office of the Attorney General has also released a 56-page report that it says “unequivocally refutes incorrect testimony” shared to the House investigative committee. The OAG added that the report is the work of an external law firm, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, that it had hired to further examine claims of retaliation. 
“This report, along with other clarifying and ultimately exonerating information, could have been readily available to the committee investigators had they merely asked,” the OAG says in a statement. 
The Saturday impeachment vote mandates that Paxton be temporarily suspended from his role and Gov. Greg Abbott — a former attorney general himself — can appoint a provisional person to fill the vacancy until after the Senate conducts its trial.
The report referenced must be about the whistleblower suit (not the criminal case for securities fraud or the FBI corruption investigation). Which raises a question:

If the testimony related to that case presented to the House committee (which the OAG couldn’t possibly have access to) is so easily refuted, why did Paxton come to the Lege seeking $3.3 million to settle the case?

Well, maybe he can explain that at his Senate trial.

The πŸ‘Ώ Is In The Details

Was this why? Or was it just the threat? Very optimistic headline. In the spin zone. Apparently he needs the spin. This, however, is a curious analysis: Hello? Default catastrophe? Do Dems vote to let that happen? If they save McCarthy, does he owe them? If they save him, after this what leverage does McCarthy have? The Freedom Caucus wants him out, and he can’t threaten Dems with, well, anything. How is this other than a win-win for the Democrats? Especially if Biden negotiated this and gave McCarthy nothing? Or is it?
"Biden and McCarthy held a 90-minute phone call earlier on Saturday evening to discuss the deal," Reuters reported. "The deal would avert an economically destabilizing default, so long as they succeed in passing it through the narrowly divided Congress before the Treasury Department runs short of money to cover all its obligations, which it warned Friday will occur if the debt ceiling is not raised by June 5."
“Hearing @SpeakerMcCarthy’s soon to be finalized agreement on the debt limit will clawback $400 MILLION from the CDC 'Global Health Fund' that sends money overseas to countries like China," she wrote. 
Then she added: 
"Here’s a few other countries that will no longer get access to these taxpayer dollars: Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burma, Cambodia, China, Ivory Coast, DRC, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Mail, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe." 
The congresswoman added: If 
"Also on the chopping block is nearly $1.5 BILLION from the CDC’s 'Vaccine Distribution and Monitoring Program.'"
Pretty weak tea. Then again, Biden may have struck a good deal after all. MTG always was all talk and no action. She talks loudly, but even she knows a global economic catastrophe is not good for the brand. That she takes the first sign of a deal, is telling.

Ken’s Last Day At Work

For awhile, anyway. Eh, not really. I’d have been surprised if he hadn’t been impeached. “Follow the money” is the soundest political advice there is. This day just gets better and better. In case you’re wondering, the full complement of the Texas House is 150. Which means more than 2/3rd voted for impeachment (a majority is all that was necessary). That is a signal the Senate probably won’t ignore.

Are The People Who Won’t Allow…

...you to criticize other people in the room with you?

And how are they stopping you? (Disagreement, even criticism, is not the same as preventing you from doing something.)

Ken’s In Trouble

And not getting much support, either.

(Threatening the people who will decide his tenure in office? This guy’s as dumb as Trump!)
A member of the House General Investigative Committee said Attorney General Ken Paxton called several lawmakers and threatened them with political consequences if they voted for his impeachment. 
“I would like to point out that several members of this House while on the floor of this House, doing the state business, received telephone calls from general Paxton personally, threatening them with political consequences in their next election,” state Rep. Charlie Geren said. 
Geren’s claims came as part of the opening remarks of the House’s impeachment hearings. Geren spent most of his time refuting Paxton’s claims that the impeachment is a political witch hunt and that the whistleblowers who sued him were “political” appointees. 
Geren reiterated what the committee said in its articles of impeachment: That it would not have scrutinized the issue had he not requested that the Legislature sign off on a $3.3 million lawsuit settlement to the former employees. 
“We are here today because the attorney general asked the state Legislature to fund a multimillion-dollar settlement,” Geren said. “There was no investigation prior to this time. We wanted to look further into the reasons behind that.” 
Geren then argued that the lawsuit settlement was an attempt by Paxton to conceal potential wrongdoing. 
“This settlement served to stave off a trial, including a discovery process that could have brought new info to light,” he said.
Ken’s  “defense”  is that voters knew all this in 2020. Whenever someone says all the information is already available, it usually means they want to keep any further information from getting out.

It’s what I call the ‘hang them out and judge them later’ policy,” said state Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, who under House rules was allotted 30 minutes to respond to the committee’s report. 
Smithee said that he was not making a statement on Paxton’s guilt but rather was condemning the process. 
“What you have in this case is triple hearsay. … It is hearsay, within hearsay, within hearsay,” he said. 
After Smithee closed his speech, applause broke out from some in the gallery overlooking the House floor. 
Another lawmaker, state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, compared Paxton to former President Donald Trump, who Tinderholt said was subject to one of “the most egregious impeachments in the history of the United States.” 
Tinderholt also cited recent statements in which Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz separately condemned the investigation and said they support Paxton.
Yeah, comparing Paxton to Trump is not really helpful. And attacking the process is not really a defense. (And hearsay only matters in a court of law where rules of evidence apply. And what you think is hearsay, ain’t necessarily so.)

Trump and Cruz didn’t offer defenses, either. Although Trump is probably going to call Paxton’s phone calls “perfect.”

Dear Rep. Biggs:

Fire your staff. They’re useless. Or you are; but I’m pretty sure we can’t get you to resign.

Dear Elmo:
  Fire everybody. You’re obviously not using them anyway, and you’re delaying the inevitable. Go ahead and set that $44 billion on fire and get it over with.

We can all see you want to.

Legal Briefs

The committee stressed that Paxton’s request earlier this year for the Legislature to pay $3.3 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit led to its investigation and ultimately the articles of impeachment. The memo also said impeachment is not a criminal process and its primary purpose is to “protect the state, not to punish the offender.” The memo also addressed arguments by lawyers with the attorney general’s office who called the committee investigation illegal because impeachment proceedings could not be initiated against Paxton for crimes alleged to have occurred before his last election in 2022. 
The memo said the so-called “forgiveness doctrine” did not apply in Paxton’s case. The committee cited the most famous impeachment case in Texas history to support its argument, noting that in 1917, Gov. James Ferguson was impeached on four articles that related to his conduct before and during the 1916 election. The Senate convicted Ferguson on those counts.