Thursday, February 29, 2024

Run To The Border

"Something else”? Does it matter? They speak languages nobody’s ever heard of, anyway.

The Only People Who Matter

"Nobody” = white people like Donald Trump. Ignorant xenophobes, IOW.

What? I’m tired of ignoring reality. See? Fuck ‘em.

Pitchforks And Torches

Is there a way to pin people down and make them commit to doing something while the initial moral revulsion is in control of their minds, before the self-interested rationalizations kick in?

Sure. Mob violence. Nobody is ever so certain of their moral authority as a person in a mob.

Moral revulsion is a terrible motivator. Not just because it fades so quickly, but also because it is so unreliable. Cold hard reason should have driven the effort to DQ Trump. Obviously he should have been tossed out and barred from ever seeking office again. Self-interest could have seen to that, too. It can be the guide to doing the right thing, just as it can lead us to doing the wrong thing.

But we’re always the ones responsible for our actions; for choosing what we do, and for choosing those we put into government.

October Surprise 😲

Delays have consequences.

“QAnon-Like Make-Believe”

Or just to explain things they really don’t understand. Is Josh serious? Or did he forget to post some kind of emoji indicating sarcasm? Because it’s hard to slip a piece of paper between that sentiment and the ignorant ravings of the person this Arizona election official is responding to: People really need to spend some time away from the Twitter machine.

Step Down Off The Ledge

 I mentioned Obama effectively dispatching the Navy Seals to assassinate Osama Bin Laden and everyone in that compound at the time. It was criticized at the time as a possible violation of U.S. law. Emptywheel now points out Trump’s lawyers though about such real world examples, too:

Update: Here’s the language from Trump’s brief that addresses this problem.
“The panel opinion ignores the long history of real-world examples of Presidents engaging in actual behavior that political opponents viewed as egregious and “criminal.” Instead, keying on the Special Counsel’s arguments, the panel fretted about lurid hypotheticals that have never occurred in 234 years of history, almost certainly never will occur, and would virtually certainly result in impeachment and Senate conviction (thus authorizing criminal prosecution) if they did occur—such as a hypothetical President corruptly ordering the assassination of political rivals through “SEAL Team Six.” D.C. Cir. Oral Arg Tr. 10:19-21. Such hypotheticals provide fodder for histrionic media coverage, but they are a poor substitute for legal and historical analysis. Confronted with real-world hypotheticals—such as President Obama’s killing of U.S. citizens by drone strike—the Special Counsel conceded below that Presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts likely exists and would apply, directly contradicting the “categorical,” App’x 20A, holdings to the contrary of both the appellate panel and the trial court. D.C. Cir. Oral Arg Tr. 49:18-22 (Special Counsel admitting that a “drone strike” where “civilians were killed … might be the kind of place in which the Court would properly recognize some kind of immunity”). Further, the logical presupposition of such speculative hypotheticals—i.e., that the Founders supposedly must have intended that no alleged Presidential misdeed could ever escape prosecution—is plainly incorrect and contradicts the basic premises of a system of separated powers. “While the separation of powers may prevent us from righting every wrong, it does so in order to ensure that we do not lose liberty.” Morrison, 487 U.S. at 710 (Scalia, J., dissenting). 
Jack Smith’s response doesn’t really deal with this issue in depth. 
7 A sufficient basis for resolving this case would be that, whatever the rule in other contexts not presented here, no immunity attaches to a President’s commission of federal crimes to subvert the electoral process. See Amici Br. of John Danforth et al., at 7. The court of appeals’ analysis was “specific” to the allegations that applicant conspired to “overturn federal election results and unlawfully overstay his Presidential term,” Appl. App. 31A, and a stay can be denied on that basis alone, leaving for another day whether any immunity from criminal prosecution should be recognized in any circumstances. See Gov’t C.A. Br. 45-49 (explaining that foreign affairs are not implicated in this case); cf. Nixon, 418 U.S. at 707, 710, 712 n.19 (reserving whether an absolute presidential-communications privilege might exist for military, diplomatic, or national security secrets).

 I think Trump’s lawyers push the point too hard and much too far. But, as ew points out, the D.C. circuit dodged the question almost entirely. Although everybody and his dog considered the Circuit court opinion unassailable and the last word on the subject, it could be a majority of the Court wanted to chew on this bone a bit. And perhaps reasonably so.

Counter Narratives

Trump is running out of money. The longer it takes these cases to get to trial, the less money Trump has to spend on them. He’s been spending like the proverbial drunk sailor on shore leave. Delays do indeed just delay the inevitable. They also cost money. The thing about governments are: they never run out of money. Not for criminal prosecutions, anyway. Besides, it’s not like the Court postponed arguments until next October. It is still not yet March.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A Simple Desultory Philippic

The problem is that this is going to feel to a lot of folks watching at home, like the Court is by and for former President Trump, another 7 or 8 weeks, gosh, maybe even three months when you factor in how long it will take the Court to rule of delay in the January 6 prosecution — even in a context in which I still think it's likely that Trump is going to lose," he said. "And I think this gets to the broader problem, which is as these cases get backed up against the timing of the election year, every little delay on the Court's part looks like it is nefarious; looks like it's substantive, and bodes at least in the short-term well, for former President Trump." 
Vladeck found it impressive "how fast the court moved to hold argument in that case" where it took about five weeks to weigh in versus the immunity case which clocked in closer to seven or eight weeks. 
"And yet, even though it's now it's been gosh, three weeks tomorrow since the oral arguments, still no decision... what that suggests to me is that the Court really doesn't feel like it's in a hurry.
If I understand correctly:

A) if the Court moves quickly (a la the Watergate tapes case, where the Court heard arguments on July 8, 1974, and issued their opinion on July 24, 1974. (Is it relevant Nixon first refused to release the tapes on July 23, 1973? It’s only relevant because it took that long for the issue to get to the Supremes, because Jaworski and the House were both after them, on separate tracks.), then they are on the side of Trump’s enemies. (Nixon lost the tapes case. I don’t remember anyone pointing out which President appointed who on the Burger Court. Now it seems to be a reflexive element of reporting on any federal judge today.)

B) if the Court moves deliberately, it’s on Trump’s side.

C) The Court has signaled in oral arguments that it disfavors applying clause 3 of the 14th to Presidential candidates. But it hasn’t ruled, and now Illinois has blocked Trump from their primary ballot. I still don’t see how that’s a Constitutional crisis in the making, but challenging the signatures needed to get him on the ballot is no big deal; especially if the challenge succeeds? Isn’t that federalism? Is there a Constitutional right to Democrats and Republicans being on state ballots, but not third party candidates?

I’m sorry, I’m wandering.

D) if the Court rules against Trump on immunity, it’s put a thumb on the electoral scales.

E) If the Court rules for Trump on immunity, it’s put a thumb on the electoral scales (among other things)

F) Whatever the Court does in the 14th Amendment question, it’s put a thumb on the electoral scales.

Have I got that right?

The authority of the Court rests on acceptance of the validity of its rulings, and only secondarily on the reasoning. The reasoning of Roe was harshly critiqued by sharp legal minds who liked the outcome, for 50 years. Dobbs, most understand, was not nearly so well argued. It’s the outcome of Dobbs, though, that’s the real problem. Ditto Bush v Gore. That was a hasty decision because of the deadline set by the Electoral Count Act. But everyone just knows it as a bad decision, where the Court put its thumb on the scales.

But Brown v Board? Miranda? Gideon? Even Griswold (which treads on the same ground as any argument for government bans on IVF)? Most people can’t explain the reasoning (or how Dobbs directly threatens Griswold); but they are very comfortable with the results.

That said, it does matter how the Court decides the immunity issue and the 14th Amendment question, and I don’t just mean what the result is. The reasoning is important. Can the Roberts Court do what the Burger Court did, in 16 days? That is, write a unanimous opinion that is almost universally accepted? Not today they can’t, and not just because of who’s on the Court. But this issue of immunity hasn’t been pending for nearly a year, and it doesn’t involve the sitting President and a “cancer on the Presidency.” So while the sense of urgency might be strong, this is not 1973-1974 redux. Nixon had a lot of power Trump doesn’t have right now. It’s ultimately up to we, the people, to see that he never gets it.

We are acting like a nation of children upset that Christmas isn’t coming fast enough, and afraid Santa won’t bring us what we asked for.
That, she said, is "the way that the question is framed." "Whether and if so to what extent a former president enjoys presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts. There are some tells there in the language," Rubin said. "As lawyers, our professional hazard is to parse words too closely. The phrase alleged to. Alleged by who? If you ask Jack Smith, everything they are alleging is outside of Donald Trump's official purview as president by interfering with an election over which a president has no administrative responsibility. Nothing about this is official. Alleged is by him." 
She continued: 
"The Supreme Court is essentially giving in to his reframing of the question. And then the D.C. Circuit and ruling said that he has no categorical immunity. They have reframed it, whether and if so to what extent? They are opening the door to that there is a possibility that a president could have immunity to some subcategory of official actions, but not as to others."
 That’s Lisa Rubin trying to parse the one page order issued by the Court today (without, again, noting this action is pursuant to a request by Jack Smith). I will only note that Ms. Rubin’s last foray into Court Kremlinology was to assert the opinion on this case was being held up by Alito’s draft of a dissent.
Maybe the better course of action is to wait until Christmas morning before we decide whether we’re happy with what Santa brought us. Or just wait for a final ruling and critique that.

The Supreme Court is not Santa Claus. It’s not going to bring us the elimination of Donald Trump before November 5, 2024. The Supreme Court is neither democracy’s savior, nor its deus ex machina. Nothing is going to save us from the responsibility of doing the right thing ourselves.

Whatever the Court does is going to be seen as “election interference” by somebody. And the more we expect the courts to save our democracy by ruling the right way, the more we the people distort, and distrust, our constitutional system. It works pretty well for us. But it doesn’t work in spite of us. If we want to save the Republic, we have to do it ourselves.

The Supreme Courtologists On Twitter Are Nothing Less Than Breathtaking

And I LIKE JMM. But Jesus, does he talk out of his ass! Especially on matters involving courts and the law, to which he brings the knowledge and expertise of an historian. And I don’t mean a legal historian.

This is where I remember the Kremlinologists didn’t see the USSR collapse until long after it was over.

A Reminder

Trump thinks the Georgia case is teetering on the brink of dismissal because of the last day of the hearing. I don’t expect him to understand what the Supreme Court just did, either.

But tout le legal Twitter (the biggest oxymoron on the intertoobs) is overlooking the fact Jack Smith asked the Supremes to treat Trump’s appeal as an application for a writ of certiorari. It says so in the order. This is neither evidence of corruption nor more needless delay. This is actually ending delay, because there’s no way the Court grants Trump what he asked the D.C. Court for: unbridled authority to order Seal Team 6 to kill someone, anyone. (Yes, there’s the case of Obama ordering the death of Bin Laden. Not exactly a political enemy, though. Or an example of the absolute immunity Trump wants.)

Me, I think the Court wants to issue a final ruling, not just let the lower court ruling stand for that district alone (the lower court opinion can be persuasive in other districts, but it can’t be binding).

What would Alito, say, or Thomas do? Carve out exceptions for murder of citizens (but not asylum seekers?)? Make case-by-case determinations? Even if that’s what they want, can they get 3 more votes for it? 

I think the majority want this heard and settled quickly. They don’t consider it a major constitutional issue they need to ruminate on. After all, they could have easily set it for end of term arguments; or even next term.

So much to speculate on, so little to speculate with. Until today, “smart money” said Alito was drafting a dissent and holding everyone up. Yeah, well…
As good a guess as any. Yeah, don’t forget that, either. That leniency might be short-lived.


Certiorari was requested by the Special Counsel. Sounds like they want a ruling from the Court for good and all. I suspect the Court wants to rule on it too, once and for all.

Trump has raised the same claim in Florida. 

Might as well end it, eh? Besides:
MAL may happen before DC, which is not the worst thing. Manhattan is on. No immunity claim there (nothing alleged about what he did as POTUS). Georgia might still happen this year; who knows? It’s just now March, after all.

This is probably the worst news for Trump since the Appellate Division declined to accept his offer of 5 cents on the dollar.

You Can Borrow Money; You Have To Post The Bond

Which doesn’t solve the problem of funding the bond. 

As many commentators have pointed out: do you want to loan money to a man who might win the Presidency? Because he’d probably block you from enforcing the loan, especially if he loses on appeal (and this order gives no one any reason to think he will win).  Who wants to be on the hook for this? Especially if the collateral is Trump’s buildings, which the lien holder would sell at fire sale prices, too. That might take a lot of buildings; and time. Multiple defendants, and if owners challenge? Well, that’s what Trump does, isn’t it?

Granted, Letitia James might do no better than fire sale prices on enforcement, but she isn’t trying to recoup money loaned out by the state. Collateral for this bond might well be all of Trump’s properties. And even then, would it be worth it? 

I don’t think this order gets Trump any further along than he was yesterday.

And I think today was the last day to appeal the second Carroll judgment. Unless he got a stay I don’t know about.

Nikki Haley Is Only Getting Votes Because She’s Not Trump

I agree with the analysis here, but I think Haley is only attacking Trump because it keeps her (barely) in the running. Trump is grossly incompetent and unfit for office; but that’s about all the difference there is between her and Trump.

Being the leader of a “pro-democracy coalition that has yet to be organized and recognized for long-lasting change” is chimerical anyway. That’s like running in a platform of Mom, America, and apple pie. What king-lasting change is it looking for, except “Not Donald Trump!”?

Haley has stumbled across a coalition she doesn’t want. It reminds me of the people who tried to build a third-party around Ross Perot, for people who didn’t like the two major parties but wanted a real political party that reflected their ideas.

It died with Perot’s failure to win. Mostly because they all had different ideas about what a political party should really be.

I don’t like Haley, but she’s not that naive.

They Want Ice Cubes In Hell, Too 🧊

I ain’t readin all that. I’m very happy for u tho. Or sorry that happened  Sounds like a personal problem, to me. Or, you know, not.
"The obvious point of such a facially absurd award is not to deprive Appellants of some purported 'ill-gotten gains,' but, rather, to impose a half a billion-dollar penalty for engaging in transactions with satisfied counterparties," the filing states. "The presence of a $100 million bond would only augment the security originally deemed sufficient by the Attorney General."
Translation: “It’s not fair! They’re being mean to me!” IOW:  to say that language fails to make a legally cognizable argument is to say water is wet.

And people in hell want ice cubes they aren’t going to get.

Every losing party thinks it’s not fair. Obviously that’s not grounds for special treatment.
"In the absence of a stay on the terms herein outlined, properties would likely need to be sold to raise capital under exigent circumstances," Trump's attorneys wrote. "And there would be no way to recover any property sold following a successful appeal and no means to recover the resulting financial losses."
Sux to be you, bro. Trump’s mouth finally wrote a check his ass can’t cash.

(Frankly, his alternative is to file bankruptcy. Which I expect the court is going to tell him. A final judgement of a court of competent jurisdiction is beyond the reach of equitable relief of “irreparable harm.” Trump had that opportunity when he could have entered settlement negotiations before the final judgment. Too late now to say the amount the state was asking for all along represents “irreparable harm.” That ship has sailed.)

(Adding: the purpose of an appeal bond is to make the plaintiff whole after the appeals run their course, so justice is not denied because the losing party has hidden all its assets. It’s not to punish Trump. If he has to sell properties at fire sale prices, well, it saves Letitia James the trouble.😈. Which is actually something they argued to the Court.)


 Let’s start here:

“It's very strange to me why none of the testimony either on the first day of the hearing or this day today of the hearing focused on a financial conflict of interest and things like, 'How did you decide to hire him?' 'What was the process?' Was he vetted?' 'Who discussed the amount of money you are going to pay him when he submitted his hourly invoices?' 'Was somebody looking at those invoices and was their quality controls in place?' Or whatever it was?" said Agnifilo. 
"There could have been a whole line of questioning that established a potential financial conflict of interest, regardless of when a relationship started between Fani Willis and Nathan Wade."
Needless to say, there was none of that. Probably because Ashleigh Merchant, the lawyer who tried to make this turkey fly, knew she couldn’t prove that. She always claimed her evidence came from the Wade divorce proceedings before they were sealed. When those proceedings were unsealed, inconveniently, she found herself playing Geraldo Rivera in Al Capone’s vault. She then proceeded with what she’d planned to do the whole time: smear Willis. That went to shit in court yesterday when her star witness disavowed any knowledge of his own allegations, such as they ever were.

So what’s this, then?
The fact that Fani Willis and 'Lover' Wade unquestionably started their relationship BEFORE the beginning of their FAKE case that was brought against me and many others, would unequivocally mean, according to virtually all legal experts and scholars, THAT THIS CASE IS OVER!"
That’s the cry of a frightened child hiding under the covers, trying to wish the monsters away. The only thing missing is: “MOMMY!!!!!!”

But it’s implied.

The relationship between Willis and Wade has nothing to do with the findings of two grand juries. At best, there was a question of their veracity in this hearing. The assumption/expectation that either lawyer would be dumb enough to lie in this hearing was always ridiculous and insulting. In the end, Ashleigh Merchant brought this hearing on very weak grounds that ended up making her look worse than her star witness (who was pretty bad on the stand). Merchant took a shred of something she thought was evidence (it was just “speculation”) and tried to MacGyver it into an escape plan for her client. But reality refused to write that script.

She really should have known better. And Trump? Trump just doesn’t know anything. I’m not sure the man is competent to handle his own affairs.

News Needs A Story

The Narrative must be served.

Everything New Is Old Again

I have a vague memory of a cartoon that featured beatniks in a coffee house snapping their fingers to indicate approval of a performance. It was meant to be mockery (it was a cartoon, after all), but I assume it was based in reality. An alternative to applause, IOW. Because, you know, gotta rebel against conformity; or something.

Pretty sure you could find the same thing in some’50’s movies with beatniks in smoke-filled rooms listening to poetry.

In case you’re wondering why anyone is talking about this:
Snapping is the new clap. Or the old one. Anyway, don’t say anything nice about Chik-Fil-A among hipsters. Or hep cats. They might snap you with a wet towel, or…wait, that’s not right…

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Breaking News! Story To Follow!!

With 27% of the precincts reporting, Biden won 79.9% with just 2.7% for Dean Phillips and 14.4% Uncommitted. However, that number of Uncommitted is expected to drop as the votes continue to come in from counties that are very favorable to Biden. 
Meanwhile, in primary after primary, Donald Trump's margins of victory are less than the polls indicated and far less than he predicted. He defeated Nikki Haley by 67-28% with 31% reporting. The 538 polling average had Trump winning by 57 points. Not quite. The reality is that the Democratic Party is united behind their president, and the Republican Party under Trump has never been more divided or dissatisfied with their candidate.
Trump continues to underperform. And then it went...down: It’s all about the narrative though. Primaries with incumbents are inherently boring; and news needs a story.

Why This Is Bad News For Joe Biden

The Devil Is In The Details

Which is what Katie Phang provides, if you’re interested. I’m camping onto Bradley Moss’s comments because he pretty much says what I was thinking as I listened live this afternoon.

And it’s easier than thinking up my own version:
The conclusion I reached with the first question. Yes, it went about that well. That was a persistent theme of the hearing. Sure sign it’s not going well, when you threaten your own witness because you didn’t prepare the testimony correctly. (By which I only mean you were clear on the testimony before the hearing.) Like that. 

I will drop in this bit from Katie Phang:
It arguably was; but he wasn’t the attorney who tried to turn it into a hearing to DQ Fani Willis.  No, Bradley doesn’t shine. But he didn’t file the motion. The lawyer who brought this had the burden of proof, and she let that wander into trying to smear Wade and Willis as liars because she knew she couldn’t establish the conflict of interest. She deserved what she got from Bradley today. He forced her to spend two hours trying to impeach her own witness.

She had nothing. She always had nothing. She knew (or should have known) she had nothing. No wonder Fani Willis was so pissed.

Missed This

She did spend most of the hearing trying to salvage the wreck of her case that went up on the rocks with the first question.

She didn’t. IMHLO, anyway.

I Have Another Question πŸ™‹‍♂️

Why did this start (and is it still there? Two! I have two other questions!) in the Consumer Protection division of the Texas AG? What consumer interests was the AG trying to protect? (I have three questions!!)

What the fuck is going on here? (Amongst my questions are…!) I guess the state register issue is Consumer Protection because it’s a charity. But if they are alleged to be involved in human trafficking and human smuggling, those are criminal issues that need to be referred to the El Paso DA . I’m very suspicious of establishing a crime as a basis for civil action without first establishing the crime in criminal proceedings. Among other things there’s a 5th Amendment issue if you force Annunciation House to turn over documents that might incriminate it. (See, e.g., Jeffrey Clark’s successful quashing of a document production request from the  D.C. Bar. Clark is facing criminal charges in Georgia, but Paxton is alleging crimes by Annunciation House. It seems to me the principle holds.

Of course I think it’s grounds for dismissal that Ken Paxton is just massive dick abusing his office for political purposes. But that’s not grounds for the court, even if they could take judicial notice of that fact.

The Party’s Over

I listened to about an hour of this hearing. It was over with first question.

This was a continuation of Bradley’s testimony from the prior hearing. He was Wade’s divorce lawyer and ex-law partner. His testimony was stopped for an in camera hearing on the issue of attorney-client privilege. The court limited the topics he could be asked about, and the hearing today started there. He answered the first question, and every one after, pretty much as above. Any hope Roman’s attorney had of impeaching the testimony of Willis and Wade was dashed. She tried valiantly to impeach Bradley, but that doesn’t prove Willis or Wade lied.

There’s a good recap of the hearing here: Bradley was not a good witness, but it seemed Roman’s lawyer was trying to use him to impeach Willis and Wade; and that didn’t happen. 

MSNBC was breathlessly announcing this could be the end of Willis, of Wade, of the entire prosecution. Nope.  This entire effort is still a nothing burger.

Context Is All

Nothing against “uncommitted” as a vote, but arguably that’s the category of the majority of registered voters who never bother to vote. That said, JMM says  the proponents of “uncommitted” think ~15K is a “big win.” I heard Michael Moore make the same argument in the same expectation, trying to warn Biden that he ignores this sentiment in MI at his peril.

But the percentage of “uncommitted” in Dem primaries in Michigan has been dropping since 2012, and the 19K in 2020 (slightly down from 21K in 2016, but 21K was 11% of the vote that year), was only 1% of the vote.

In what universe is 1% a “big win”? A Trumpian sarcastic one? 🀷🏻‍♂️ 

History Lessons

 Newt Gingrich served divorce papers on his second wife while she was in a hospital recovering from cancer treatments.

He closed down the government because Bill Clinton didn’t give him an honored place in Air Force One.

He was a disruptive force the House long before Silicon Valley claimed the term as their own.

He was brutal to his enemies and didn’t much care for the concerns of anyone who disagreed with him.

He was a serial liar who puffed up his paltry credentials with claims of knowledge about US history that were absolute garbage.

He broke the ground and sewed the dragon’s teeth whose chaos Donald Trump tried to reap.

I say “tried” because Trump hasn’t won an election since 2016, and has never led the GOP as a whole to any political victory.

And it’s not as if any of Gingrich’s qualities are in doubt, or hidden:

Gingrich is not a nepo baby. But he is certainly a mean, petty SOB. Gingrich is an adulterer, and he does think himself infallible.

The main difference between Gingrich and Trump is that Gingrich was never POTUS. After the failed debacle of the Clinton impeachment, and the government shutdown, he fell from the third-highest Constitutional office in the land, to leaving Congress in disgrace. A brief, but ignominious, career. But he convinced enough people that if s back-bench bomb thrower could overthrow the Speaker of the House and become Speaker himself, why not a non-politician boob for President? And even then the groundwork was laid by the Tea Party which was invented by the Koch Brothers, et al., to keep alive what Gingrich brought to the Party.

There is indeed nothing new under the sun, and not even Trump sprang full-grown from the brow of a discontented electorate.

He Seems Nice

The Consumer Protection Division of the attorney general’s office launched an investigation into Annunciation House on Feb. 7, demanding the release of documentation within one day, the small nonprofit requested an extension to review what information the organization was legally required to turn over. 
The state denied the extension, so the Catholic nonprofit sued the state, requesting a court rule on which documents the group must hand over to the attorney general. Additionally, to buy time, Annunciation House also requested a restraining order against the attorney general to grant the Catholic organization relief from the state’s immediate demands. 
In turn, Attorney General Ken Paxton announced his office was suing the organization for failing to comply with the demand and suggested the religious nonprofit of “worsening illegal immigration.” If a judge sides with the state, the lawsuit could prevent the group from operating in Texas, which it’s done since 1976.
To be clear:
Paxton's office accused Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, of "facilitating illegal entry to the United States" and "human smuggling," filing a lawsuit in an attempt to shut it down.
Is this a stunt by Paxton? Is the Pope Catholic?
Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House, told reporters at a Feb. 23 press conference that the nonprofit has been providing basic resources like food, shelter and water to migrants and refugees who arrive at the border for nearly 50 years in consultation with the U.S. Border Patrol. 
"There are individuals who have decided that that should be illegal," he said. 
In a Feb. 20 statement announcing his lawsuit against Annunciation House, Paxton's office alleged the group was a "stash house" facilitating illegal entry to the United States, a charge Garcia took particular umbrage with. 
"I personally am taken aback by the use of words like 'smuggling,' to call our houses of hospitality 'stash houses,' " he said. "Is there no shame?" 
Jerome Wesevich, a Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorney representing Annunciation House, said Paxton's office sent representatives to Annunciation House demanding the group hand over documents within just one day and without judicial review, which he said was outside appropriate legal norms and requirements. 
Wesevich said that courts, not the attorney general's office, are the appropriate arbiters of whether documents should be turned over, and, if so, then which documents.
Paxton wants some of that sweet “border crisis” attention to shore up his GOP cred as he attacks fellow Republicans in the primaries. But did you miss that part about Annunciation House working with Border Patrol?
Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, who represents a district that includes El Paso, in comments at the press conference, called Annunciation House "a key partner to the United States Border Patrol."
So Paxton’s claim is: a) Border Patrol is a dupe; b) Border Patrol is a partner in human trafficking. I want to see the evidence on that one.
“I can tell you that in the U.S. Congress, the extreme far-right members of the Republican Party have done everything possible to eliminate financial support to local governments and organizations that are providing care, humanitarian care, to migrants," [Escobar] said. "I have heard on the House Judiciary Committee Republican colleagues denounce and attack Catholic Charities and the Catholic Church for the way that it seeks to help support immigrants and migrants and asylum-seekers." 
Some Republican lawmakers in 2023 sent a letter to Catholic Charities, probing their work with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
I guess Jesus was pro-human trafficking, too. The Deep State is deep.
Wesevich said that courts, not the attorney general's office, are the appropriate arbiters of whether documents should be turned over, and, if so, then which documents. 
"This should be an orderly process," Wesevich said. 
"What has turned into this, a roomful of people," he said, gesturing at those gathered for the press conference, "could have been handled in a few emails between reasonable people. Instead, it appears that Attorney General Paxton wants to use this request for documents simply as a pretext to close Annunciation House, and he did not realize what he was getting himself into. So we feel that the law is pretty strong on our side." 
Wesevich said, "Attorney General Paxton compounds his abuse of power by focusing it on a religious organization that is putting the Catholic faith into practice." 
Annunciation House, Wesevich said, "does not decide who gets to come to the United States and who gets to stay here." 
"Other people worry about those things," Wesevich said. "Annunciation House only provides basic services to vulnerable families. Food, clothing, a place to lay their heads. America remains a free country where the law protects Annunciation House's right to do this work." 
Wesevich quipped that it wasn't just the law on Annunciation House's side, but the Gospel as well. 
"It's all in the Bible," he said. "Attorney General Paxton may want to dust off his Bible and read through it sometime."
Paxton doesn’t have a legal, or moral, leg to stand on. Simply treating human beings like human beings is apparently beyond the pale, however.

There really is no bottom, is there?

Sex Is Bad!

It has something to do with sex? Which they’re against; except when they’re for it. Because they think it has something to do with sex? Which they’re against, except when they’re for it. Big, strong men, with tears in their eyes. Who are against sex, except when they’re for it. Except when they’re for it. Come out boldly against sex. Except when they were for it. Nancy Mace is definitely against sex. Except when she’s for it. Just ask the Washington prayer breakfast. They missed Jack Abramoff and want that scandal for their own. Because they’re against sex; except when they’re for it. It’s a Republican thing.

Monday, February 26, 2024

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place*

If it’s not 50% Anonymous Four and 50% Judy Collins/Linda Ronstadt, I just want silence for my AirPods.

Scratch that. I just want silence. Gone are the days when I wore a younger man’s clothes and did my best work in a noisy bagel shop in Webster Groves, MO.

I’ve already said too much. Now I have to find my bug out bag and execute my exfil.

*My absolute favorite of Hemingway’s stories. Had he written nothing else, he would still deserve all his accolades. It’s a narrative experiment as brilliant as Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”


He wants to win the election.

He wants to stay out of jail. Which means he has to pay the lawyers.

He can’t do both. He doesn’t have enough money.

Shit? Or go blind? The wages of sin, and all. πŸ’©

Kinder, Gentler Version Of The Great Replacement Theory

From a white South African native.

This is my shocked face. πŸ˜‘


 When I was a legal assistant, one of the cases I remember was a lawsuit against the engineers of the Performing Arts Center on UT-Austin campus (now an "old" building, it was brand new then.  I think I actually went into one of its spaces to hear a "tracker organ" play a soundtrack to a silent film version of "Phantom of the Opera."  I think I did.  I'm old, I forget things.  Screw you, punks!) I only remember now it involved UT as a plaintiff, and the architects and the engineers we represented (the engineers, not the architects.  Sorry.), as defendants.  Anyway, we asked for a document production.

Now, civil discovery is broader than criminal discovery, but it isn't limitless.  You can't ask for "everything related to the claims, plus anything else you might have hanging around, that will exonerate our client."  I used to write those things up, long ago:  requests for document production.  It ran to several sentence paragraphs, each carefully tailored to be as general as possible, but also specific enough not to be too general.  Think of a trolling fish net fine enough to catch small fish, but big enough to catch as many fish as possible.  Of course, then you have to sort through each individual fish.

Usually this results in some limitations on what is produced, and you have to ferret out more based on what you find.  Civil discovery can be the reason civil cases take so long to get to trial.  But UT being UT knew it had done nothing wrong: the blame fell on the architects or the engineers or the contractors (the building had flooded during a heavy spring rain, just as it was finished.  Not a good look for the drainage engineering our client did.  The linch pin was whether we were asked to design for a 25 year flood (cheaper, and what we insisted the architect instructed), or for a 100 year flood (I think the flood that did it counted as a 50 year event.  Bigger than 25, anyway.).  Anyway, UT had nothing to hide, so on the day appointed I was ushered into a large room in downtown Austin and told:  "You have 8 hours.  Mark what you want, and we'll copy it and deliver it to you.  Have fun."  I'm pretty sure the guy smirked when he said that.

This was in the days before computer files for almost any purpose.  Everything was paper:  memos, letters, notes, building plans, construction plans, etc.  I plowed through it gamely, looking for whatever documented what happened and why.

And here I could go off into my greatest minor triumph as a legal assistant (my careers have been a series of minor triumphs, most of them notable only to me.  So I won't bore you.).  But my point (and I do have one), is that this was extremely rare.  Most document productions returned a tiny box, maybe an envelope, of documents, and much squabble over what else they had, which was usually discovered in depositions of witnesses and party representatives (where companies were concerned, especially).  Even then, you had to show some connection to the issues of the case.  It was by no means a "give me all the documents you have in the world, and let me find something I can try to build a conspiracy theory on."

Which is what Trump is asking for in Florida:

In the 12-page filing, Smith explains that asking for something doesn't mean it should be delivered — particularly if the base of the request is a conspiracy theory with no evidence supporting it.

"For example, in [Washington,] D.C. and Fulton County, Trump asked for all the 'deleted' 1/6 committee materials. Judge McAfee denied that, saying 'they don't exist,'" explained legal analyst Allison Gill, who hosts "The Daily Beans" and co-hosts the "Jack" podcast.

"Trump also asked in both jurisdictions for all material and communication from any agency in government that exonerates him. Trouble is, to compel discovery, you have to be specific about a document or documents you know the government is keeping from you," Gill wrote.

She explained that Trump can't make vague requests to see emails and documents — he has to identify them specifically.

"You have to say, 'I have developed evidence (and here it is) that the DNI sent an email to the [Department of Justice] with evidence of voter fraud, and I need that for my defense,'" Gill said.

Civil discovery isn't as narrow as criminal, but that's partly because criminal practice involves a government on one side, and you can't demand the entire government turn over every document it has so you can find something, anything, you can build a defense on; if you're lucky.  When you read about cases where a memo was found in corporate archives that cinched the case for the plaintiff, a) that mostly happens on TeeVee, not in real life. B) it came out because someone asked for the right documents in the right way, and the corporation couldn't dodge revealing the paperwork, try as they might have.

Trump is on a fishing expedition (remember my net metaphor?  I knew we'd get here.).  You have to be more specific than "give me all the documents the government has until I prove my crazy theory that I can only allege right now, but I know it's true and failure to deliver the documents will PROVE a COVER UP!  WATERGATE WATERGATE WATERGATE!!!!BENGHAZI!!!!!!!!!!!!"

There are other problems with the request, but this one underlines the fact Trump is acting as his own lawyer, and using licensed lawyers in court to do it (at the peril of their ability to practice in federal court, or in some cases, to practice law again at all.  Any lawyer who's this much of a stooge is going to be advertising on match book covers afterwards.  And yes, I know, nobody uses matchbooks anymore.  Kinda my point.).  This is not only a waste of time, it's a waste of money; but Trump's still acting like he has the money to waste.

That's gonna be a real hard habit to break, especially since the "She doesn't need the money, I don't have to guarantee any payment while I appeal" defense is really not going to work.

Oh, by the way, Smith filed a new response to Trump's motion to dismiss for selective prosecution:

In a new filing, Smith responds to moves by Trump and his co-defendants to collect evidence they believe will prove they've been the victims of a "selective prosecution."

Smith uses the Hur Report to counter their demands.

"The defendants have not identified anyone who has engaged in a remotely similar suite of willful and deceitful criminal conduct and not been prosecuted," wrote Smith in his new filing. "For example, their primary competitor is Joseph R. Biden ... But as the Hur Report itself recognizes, 'several material distinctions between Mr. Trump's case and Mr. Biden's are clear.'"

Smith argues that while the Hur Report notes there was no clear evidence that Biden were highly classified, Trump "engaged in extensive and repeated efforts to obstruct justice and thwart the return of documents bearing classification markings."

Ultimately, said Smith, "the defendants' request for discovery on a selective prosecution theory can be denied on this basis alone."

Yeah; Trump should have read past the first page. 


Okay, I'm through.  Punk kids!

Merde πŸ’©

 “Having argued to the jury that President Trump has great financial resources, Plaintiff is in no position to contradict herself now and contend that she requires the protection of a bond during the brief period while post-trial motions are pending,” Trump wrote in an application for his stay. “This fact nullifies risk to the judgment creditor and weighs heavily in favor of an unsecured stay.”

Nice try.

I found a case while Googling (i.e., not real research) the topic of excessive punitive damages (IIRC).  It involved a major corporation hit with a HUGE judgment claim.  The upshot was, the Major Corp spent 30 days trying to come up with the money for the bond, and couldn't do it.  IIRC, the plaintiff was another major corporation, so there was no lack of resources on either side of this fight.

Anyway, they had to settle, because they couldn't stay enforcement of the judgment.

With, or without, remembering that case correctly (and that the information I read was anywhere near accurate), Trump's argument here has a snowball's chance in Texas.  In July.

He can't raise the money for either judgment for a bond. He's scared shitless. πŸ’©