Always take the source of your information into account

Seems obvious, I know. I knew somebody who is a compulsive liar who committed criminal fraud a few times. He’s slick though, never paid a fine, never even been dragged into court. He’s reasonably good at his grift and, especially, at playing on people’s sympathies to convince them he had no choice whenever he did something indefensible. He could still be right about what he read in a book, something he saw, of course, but I used to take everything he said with the proverbial pood of salt. If you know somebody has a bias, take it into consideration when you assess what they have told you. It is quite easy today to find out if somebody taking a public position is being paid for their political bias, it takes a few clicks.

Of course, today, in public life, bias is no vice, neither is lying to achieve a morally higher goal. Transactional is what “win at all costs” is called today.

I was sickened by the recent Supreme Court dead of night summary decision, on party lines (the “moderate” corporatist John Roberts betrayed his own) that stripped millions of Texas women of the right to choice guaranteed by Roe v. Wade. The inventive new law allows a muscular minority in the great state of Texas to deputize citizen vigilantes to run to court to stop abortions and make some good money doing it — at absolutely no risk to themselves. The majority (60% appointed by Trump) wrote that the law’s scheme is so novel and complex that nobody can easily tell if it is unconstitutional, since it doesn’t empower government but private citizens to enforce an unconstitutional new law, and therefore, it’s hands off until ten more states do the same thing and the case winds up on the actual docket of the Supreme Court. We don’t even get to the issue of constitutionality, say the right wing majority, because the law to prevent abortions was done so creatively.

Then, in Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post, opinion columnist Henry Olsen ran a column called The Supreme Court had no reason to block Texas’s abortion law. It is a short, forceful piece arguing that the court could not have “legally” acted any differently than the five right wing zealots did. Here’s a slice:

Most legislatures that have sought to limit legal abortion contrary to Roe v. Wade have run afoul of this because the laws they passed made the state the agent of enforcement. The state could thus be enjoined by a court from enforcing the law given its presumptive unconstitutionality. The Texas law, however, avoids this by placing the exclusive authority to enforce the law in the hands of private citizens who could sue abortion providers in civil actions. Therefore, there are no governmental defendants who have the power to harm.

The point is not whether Olsen is right or wrong in his opinion. The question is who is this dispassionate observer? Here you go:

Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. 

Ethics and Public Policy Center:

The Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) is a conservative[2][3] Washington, D.C.-based think tank and advocacy group. Founded in 1976, the group describes itself as “dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy”, and advocacy of founding principles such as the rule of law.[4] The EPPC is active in a number of ways, including hosting lectures and conferences,[5] publishing written work[6] from the group’s scholars,[7] and running programs[8] intended to explore areas of public concern and interest.

EPPC’s current president is Ryan T. Anderson, who previously worked as the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. On February 1, 2021, he succeeded Edward Whelan,[9] who now serves as EPPC’s vice president[10] and holds the title of distinguished senior fellow and Antonin Scalia Chair in Constitutional Studies. George Weigel, Catholic theologian and papal biographer, is also a distinguished senior fellow.[11]

EPPC is a qualified 501(c)(3) organization[12]

We also learn, without any details, that EPPC founder was deemed too controversial for government work during the Reagan administration:

EPPC was founded in 1976 by Ernest W. Lefever, an American political theorist. He was nominated in 1981 for a US State Department position by US President Ronald Reagan before ultimately being rejected for the opportunity for his controversial background.[14] He served as president of EPPC until 1989 and continued to write scholarly articles for EPPC until his death in 2009.[15] Lefever said upon founding the institute that “a small ethically oriented center” should “respond directly to ideological critics who insist the corporation is fundamentally unjust.”[16]

As far as American persecution of the corporations being a crime against Judeo-Christian ethics, Mr. Lefever wrote:

The Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, “is one of several [organizations] devoted to improving public appreciation of the role of business in what it terms a ‘moral society.’ It was founded by Ernest Lefever, who expressed his concern that ‘U.S. domestic and multinational firms find themselves increasingly under siege at home and abroad. They are accused of producing shoddy and unsafe products, fouling the environment, robbing future generations, wielding enormous power, repressing peoples in the third world, and generally being insensitive to human needs. We as a small and ethnically oriented center are in a position to respond more directly to ideological critics who insist the corporation is fundamentally unjust.'”[1]

According to the EPPC website the organisation was “established in 1976 to clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy issues.” [2]

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Or, in other words:

Tom Barry has this to say about EPPC:Created in 1976, EPPC was the first neocon institute to break ground in the frontal attack on the secular humanists. For nearly three decades, EPPC has functioned as the cutting edge of the neoconservative-driven culture war against progressive theology and secularism, and the associated effort to ensure right-wing control of the Republican Party. It explicitly sought to unify the Christian right with the neoconservative religious right, which was mostly made up of agnostics back then. A central part of its political project was to “clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy.” Directed by Elliott Abrams from 1996-2001, EPPC counts among its board members well connected figures in the neocon matrix including Jeane KirkpatrickRichard Neuhaus, and Mary Ann Glendon.

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It is, like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Institute for Humane Studies (Charles Koch’s favorite charity) funded by right wing billionaires and their charitable trusts. You can read all about it in a minute here. My point is, take the known bias of the writer into account when deciding how much credence to give his legal, moral or justice analysis. It is quite possible that EPPC and many groups like it had a hand in thinking up the innovative new anti-abortion Texas bounty hunter law. Former fellows and resident conservative scholars include Rick Santorum and pardoned felon, former president of the highly moral Judeo-Christian EPPC, Elliott Abrams [1].

In any case, it’s pretty clear why Henry Olsen supports the Supreme Court’s unappealable refusal to intervene. In fact, Olsen’s op-ed is probably also displayed prominently on the website of his main gig, scholar and senior fellow at the venerable right wing “think tank” (yep, it sure is). One of the great innovations of the Koch network is the seamless blending of “fact” and “fiction,” done in ideological hot houses called “think tanks”, slanted opinion that emerges as somber, considered influential news and other public opinion shaping forms, like op eds in prominent mass media.

This presentation by Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) lays out the judicial part of the doggedly field-tested, effective (and handsomely funded) right wing strategy to dominate democracy, though they represent a minute, infuriated minority galvanized into political action by the Warren Court’s 9-0 1954 decision that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. Fury at “activist” judges led them to form a network dedicated to ensuring their activist judges became the majority on the federal bench. This rightwing network kicked into high gear when the death of Scalia gave “illegitimate” Obama the opportunity to shift the 5-4 court with the addition of the truly moderate Merrick Garland, an outcome to be prevented at all costs (and financed to the tune of tens of millions of dark dollars). Whitehouse lays bare a large swath of the “vast right wing conspiracy” that Hillary Clinton was mocked and vilified for talking about. The first rule of fight club is shut the fuck up about fight club!

[1]

Elliott Abrams:

Iran-Contra Scandal

Abrams was heavily involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. In 1991, Abrams was indicted by the Iran-Contra special prosecutor for giving false testimony before Congress in 1987 about his role in illicitly raising money for the Nicaraguan Contras. He pleaded guilty to two lesser offenses of withholding information to Congress in order to avoid a trial and a possible jail term.[5]

He was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush along with a number of other Iran-Contra defendants on Christmas night 1992.[6]

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Nazi minority/majority never fails to deliver

Like-minded, extremely conservative inheritors of intergenerational wealth don’t need to meet secretly in dark rooms, (though they also do that), to advance their common schemes. Not a criminal conspiracy in the strict legal sense, but a commonality of interests that leads them to act as one to advance identical goals.

Their useful idiot Trump is not a player of three-dimensional chess or even checkers, he’s an angry member of their exclusive, entitled club, which runs on imagined grievance as it plays to the passion of millions of enraged grievants on the ground.

We now have three new carefully vetted extremist Supreme Court Justices, appointed by a twice impeached president who sought and accepted the help of Vladimir Putin, after his party abolished the filibuster to push three judicial extremists, none of whom got close to 60 votes (Gorsuch led them with a robust 54 ayes). His side is set up to win every ideologically driven case 6-3, or at worst 5-4. Give ’em this, Nazis never sleep, and, though likely to commit suicide when it all turns to shit, they’re bold.

Texas, the hang ’em high state, has just given vigilantes a win-win bounty to turn in anybody who might be thinking of helping someone get an abortion still legal under Roe v. Wade. This newly deputuzed army of religious zealot Christian Soldier bounty hunters are free, in Texas, to carry guns they no longer need permits for. Five unappealable Nazis give the temporary thumbs up to the administratively innovative Texas scheme. What could go wrong?

Corporate Democrats, who carefully weigh every action while studying the polls and consulting their most generous donors, are capable of spending months thinking about and debating their timid counter-actions, for example whether they have an absolute right to investigate a bloody riot at the Capitol designed to overturn the 2020 election, or protect the right to vote, or whether the Constitution will allow the creation of five more seats on the Supreme Court to restore a semblance of credibility to our highest court (spoiler, it will). Nazis, on the other hand, do not hesitate, they follow their shock troops into the breach.

How about we open a bunch of federal abortion clinics in Texas, deputize Texas doctors to provide abortions legal under federal law (credit to Elie Mystal) until the lower federal court can rule on this creatively unconstitutional new lynch mob law? Too radical? Will it make violent Nazis too angry? Why not find out, in the name of protecting the rights of our most vulnerable?

Good analysis of our out of control, radical 6-3 Federalist Society Supreme Court, by Jamelle Bouie:

In the Dead of Night, the Supreme Court Proved It Has Too Much Power

“Moderates” have to get into the fight for democracy

The men who drafted and fought over the blueprint for the American experiment in democracy began with the famous words “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union…” and then set out a plan they hoped would establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to the people and the people’s posterity. Of course, at the time, “the people” was understood to exclude the majority of humanity, women were to have no political say, Blacks were not universally considered human, let alone part of “the people”, indigenous Americans were excluded as were poor “white” men and many others over the years.

After the bloody Civil War the constitution was amended to include former slaves, and anyone else born in the United States, as citizens with Privileges and Immunities subject to Equal Protection by the federal government. Immediate steps were taken, notably by the Supreme Court, to thwart this change, but it is written into the Bible of American democracy and would eventually, almost a century later, after decades of court battles and bloody street protests, become enforceable law. Of course, it would be more than half a century after the end of the Civil War, after a long fight, before women got the vote, but the animating idea of “a more perfect union” seems to have been that democracy is an evolving work in progress, infinitely perfectible.

Resistance to this progress has always been the work of reactionaries, conservatives, the organized right. In every era they united to oppose the evolution of democracy. Their game is always perpetuity– keeping things as they are and making sure the status quo never fundamentally changes. Some have advanced shrewd arguments for their view that the way things are is about as good as it can be, advanced theories that showed the dangers of including everyone in democracy, they raised the terrifying specters of Socialism and COMMUNISM. Others simply did the grunt work to make sure people they didn’t like couldn’t vote, couldn’t get their day in court, couldn’t stand on rights guaranteed to them in the constitution. The most intellectually ambitious reactionaries created high-minded philosophies to justify their reactionary views. The Originalists, for example, hold a judicial philosophy that minimizes the radically democratizing changes to the Constitution made after the Civil War, always harkening back to the “intent of the framers,” the original wealthy white men who hammered out the original slavery-protecting “Originalist” Constitution almost a century earlier.

There are scholars who point out, with ample proofs, that the post-Civil War Constitution is a radically redesigned blueprint much more in line with a modern, ethnically diverse, largely urban, non-slave holding democracy than the unamended Originalist version. Radicals on the left want to create fundamental change in their lifetimes, not just plant seeds that will germinate a few generations from now. They recognize that time is running out to fix a badly dysfunctional system. “Moderates” are the “reasonable” compromisers who advocate a middle ground, some changes are needed, they concede, but change is best achieved in small, sometimes imperceptible increments.

Reactionaries, for whatever reason, always seem more energetic, better funded, more fanatical, more devoted, better organized, more relentless and readier to resort to any means necessary to achieve their aim of keeping things just the way they are. The reactionaries of their day said “fine, you have the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments — we have States’ Rights!” and one of the rights of those states was to find workarounds for the new prohibition against slavery (the clause “except as punishment for a crime” came in handy), the Supreme Court helped out with the 14th, leaving virtually every detail of federal citizenship in the hands of the states until 1964, and, as for the right of American-born Blacks to vote… whell, there are ways to squash that shit, right at the polls. if they don’t get the message with the damned lynchings and having their damned homes burned to the ground. As for blocking all federal legislation to stop lynching, or enforce the unalienable human rights (in a democracy) we call Civil Rights, we have the filibuster!

Adam Jentleson, who recently wrote a history of how the filibuster, almost always used to advance slavery and then segregation, came to cripple the Senate, had an op-ed in the NY Times the other day entitled When Will Biden Join the Fight for Voting Rights? He begins by setting out all that Biden has accomplished with a mere 50 votes in the Senate, deftly sidestepping the filibuster to provide funds to fight Covid-19, to give economic relief to millions, to lift millions of children out of poverty. He then points out that racism at law has always required, under the filibuster, a supermajority to rein it in.

During the Jim Crow era, the Senate held long, contentious debates on the bills that built the middle class, such as Social Security or Medicare, but none of those bills needed to get a supermajority to proceed. By contrast, popular bills to stop lynching, end poll taxes and fight workplace discrimination faced endless filibusters, and were blocked by supermajority thresholds. While Mr. Biden and Senate Democrats aren’t intentionally recreating such an unfair system, in practice, they are, perpetuating the same double standard that upheld Jim Crow for almost a century.

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His essay is worth reading. He continues:

But they can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. In March, during his first speech on the Senate floor, Senator Raphael Warnock argued that “no Senate rule should overrule the integrity of our democracy.” If Senate rules happen to preserve what Warnock called “Jim Crow in new clothes,” just as they preserved the original version, they must be reformed. For Democratic leaders, this means finding the political will to never again allow bills that guarantee equal access to voting and representation to suffer unequal treatment.

Recall that on the day Warnock was declared the winner of the Georgia runoff for Senator, a mob carrying the Confederate flag stormed the Capitol, injuring 140 Blue Lives Matter officers in hand to hand combat to prevent the final certification of the winner of the presidential election. Reactionaries will always do whatever it takes. If it takes a lynch mob, so be it. The hopped up grunts, as always, will go to prison, meantime, we get what we need — a violent, galvanizing argument to rally our side.

All the rest of us have is law and the enforcement of law. If a parliamentary rule prevents any action in the Senate, if even one defiant member of the opposition party registers an intention to “filibuster”, there has to be a way to fix this. Jentleson, a former Senate staffer, offers a workaround to those who claim, incorrectly, that the filibuster is about protecting “bipartisanship.”

[S]enators can reclaim their right to shape the rules of the Senate even when doing so runs afoul of the parliamentarian, a staff member whose influence has grown dramatically in recent decades as senators lost faith in their ability to interpret Senate rules. Up until now, senators have enthusiastically abused the spirit of reconciliation while adhering, with comic devotion, to its letter; they use it to pass trillions in spending but studiously discard the provisions the parliamentarian deems insufficiently “budgetary,” such as a minimum wage increase. But only senators and the vice president preside over and vote in the Senate, and they have final say over what gets included in reconciliation bills. Rather than acting as automatons who simply read the rulings that the staff hands them (literally), they can include civil rights in the forthcoming reconciliation bill and, when the parliamentarian rules against it, Vice President Kamala Harris can issue her own ruling countermanding the parliamentarian. Fifty senators can sustain Harris’s ruling and pass voting rights, without ever having to vote to alter the filibuster itself.

Senators can also simply reform the rules to ensure that civil rights bills are treated equally. Given the Senate’s ugly history of blocking such legislation, there is ample justification for targeted filibuster reforms to ensure that civil rights bills receive majority votes.

Of course, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema oppose ending the filibuster, and imbue bipartisanship with lofty importance. But at the end of the day, it is up to Mr. Biden to bring home the small number of votes needed to end the tiered system that forces voting rights legislation to garner supermajorities in the Senate, while other bills sail through with just 50 votes.

Biden has the bully pulpit now and Jentleson argues that he must do everything in his considerable power to rally his party to the cause of protecting voting rights, federal enforcement of which has been systematically dismantled by the reactionary majority on the Supreme Court. If the many Republican state voter suppression laws are allowed to stand unchallenged (except in courts where resolution of the issues is years away) then we will have, in the next election, a gerrymandered Republican majority, in the House and likely also in the Senate (two for each state, populations be damned). Then, under existing parliamentary rules, anything else Biden has planned will be subject to the mockery of an obstructionist right-wing joke. Ta ta to bipartisanship and democracy, both. Welcome to the One Party United States of Charles Koch and friends.

. . . it is impossible to look at the effort Mr. Biden has devoted to voting rights until now and conclude that he is pulling out all the stops. His heart does not seem to be in this fight. Instead of pressing for the reforms necessary to pass these bills with 50 votes, he has defended the filibuster, while his administration has been challenging civil rights leaders to “out-organize” the Republicans who have implemented systematic, state-sanctioned voter suppression. Many find his stance naïve. “‘Just count the jellybeans’ is a helluva strategy,” political analyst Bakari Sellers tweeted in frustration.

He concludes:

The effort Mr. Biden poured into infrastructure shows what genuine commitment from the White House looks like. While the president has given one major speech dedicated to voting rights, he has held numerous speeches and events on infrastructure, sending the signal that the issue is a top priority. His cabinet and staff practically camped out on Capitol Hill. By late July, according to Bloomberg’s Jennifer Epstein, his staff had held at least 998 meetings and calls on infrastructure; the office of legislative affairs had held 330 meetings and calls with members of Congress and their top aides in the previous month alone.

Mr. Biden has invited comparisons to President Lyndon Johnson, but Mr. Johnson paired accomplishments like Medicare with the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. Then, as now, the task was deemed so daunting that some cautioned against investing too much of the president’s political capital in the effort. By the time of his assassination, President John F. Kennedy had let segregationists take civil rights hostage to his top domestic priority: a tax cut.

But when Mr. Johnson’s advisers counseled him to give up on civil rights, too, he shot back, “What the hell is the presidency for?” He personally intervened to get the civil rights bill to the floor, then forced his former mentor, fellow Democrat and self-avowed white supremacist, Senator Richard Russell, to lead a filibuster for roughly three months, betting that he could crack an obstructionist front that had remained solid since Reconstruction ended in 1877. Mr. Johnson had to deal with more than a few reluctant senators — most of those filibustering the civil rights bill were Democrats. To beat them, Mr. Johnson did not use magic powers. He simply spent months working every angle, relentlessly.

If Mr. Biden fails where Mr. Johnson succeeded, he will have left intact the system of legislative segregation that preserved Jim Crow. Whatever else he accomplishes, that will remain part of his legacy.

The president may try everything and fail. But the stakes are so high, he has to try.

As Joe Biden himself has said many times — come on, man!

Good Day, Fascists

Former Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, the man who heroically tried to keep his boss Donald Trump in power by amplifying Trump’s absurd and false claims after the Orange Polyp lost the election, no doubt fancies himself a man of principle. Most fascists believe they are serving a higher calling that does not require them to play by the ordinary rules, rules made for weaklings. They operate with urgency, goaded by a sense of outraged grievance. As Trump said during his long exhortation on January 6, before sending an angry mob down to gently hug and kiss the Capitol Police: “when you catch somebody in a fraud you’re allowed to go by a different set of rules.” Indeed.

Today Jeffery Clark, a man who went by a very different set of rules (“alternative rules”) that included attempts to have the DOJ knowingly lie to keep Trump in power, heads the New Civil Liberties Alliance, the extreme right-wing outfit that is dragging universities into courts to challenge mask mandates and trying to get the eviction moratorium lifted. You know, NEW civil liberties. A reminder of what fascists actually stand for, from that great article on the shady history of American fascism that I cited the other day:

Fascism is not a principled or ­ideological stand; it is the politics of grievance, an ­instrumentalist response to a ­political ­situation it perceives as unacceptable. ­Fascism is the counter-revolutionary politics of force, justified by ultra-nationalism, glorified by myths of ­regeneration and purification, performed by masculine cults of personality and sold as the will of the people.

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After Hitler launched a bloody and failed insurrection in Munich, 1923, his famous Beer Hall Putsch, a sympathetic right wing judge in the scrupulously democratic Weimar Republic gave him a platform to make patriotic speeches to his fellow citizens, day after day. He got a slap on the wrist by way of a sentence, for treason, a short stay in plush accommodations in Landsberg Prison. He emerged as a national celebrity with a book to sell.

After Trump launched a bloody and failed insurrection on January 6, a quick, failed second impeachment and … crickets. Sure he’s been harshly punished by Twitter, and Facebook tiptoes around a temporary ban until, presumably, the incorrigible liar changes his stripes, but otherwise . . . crickets. Where are the federal charges? Where is the indictment in Georgia for his seditious recorded call to Raffensberger during which he violated every clause of the Georgia criminal law regarding interference in elections? It’s mystifying and disquieting that, even with the Fourteenth Amendment specifically banning insurrectionists from holding public office, the man who has always played by radically different rules is poised to be the GOP presidential candidate in 2024, perhaps after serving as savage, punishing Speaker of the House for a couple of years.

It is exhausting to repeat that American democracy itself hangs in the balance, as the forces of democracy fret about the right thing to do, while the well-funded friends of fascism are busy day and night planning and carrying out the next steps in their decades-long campaign for one-party rule. 51 votes in the Senate would end the filibuster, or carve out an exception for voting rights, which should not be in question more than 50 years after the Voting Rights Act the now supermajority right-wing Supreme Court has been vivisecting in recent years.

The 51 principled votes to limit or abolish the filibuster could be there, should be there, except that Kirsten Synema insists on performing her quirky, haughty, mavericky dance, Joe Manchin meets with oil and coal barons to get his orders, and Dianne Feinstein, who gushed at Miss Lindsey Graham’s graciousness while shoving Federalist Society superstar Amy Coney-Barrett down the nation’s throat, sits on the fence, referring obliquely to some higher principle about compromise. Trump’s people have no such scruples.

What is wrong with the NY Times?

America’s journal of record, the venerable Grey Lady, has a consistent tic that drives me mad. It also undermines the paper’s famous credibility and detracts from its often excellent investigative reporting. The tic is unrelated to the paper’s commitment to good writing (most of the material in the New York Times is well-written) — it is a determination to appear objective at all costs that often teeters into misinforming readers. Here are two examples that leaped out at me the other day and grabbed me by the throat.

The article, entitled Former Acting Attorney General Testifies About Trump’s Efforts to Subvert Election begins:

WASHINGTON — Jeffrey A. Rosen, who was acting attorney general during the Trump administration, has told the Justice Department watchdog and congressional investigators that one of his deputies tried to help former President Donald J. Trump subvert the results of the 2020 election, according to a person familiar with the interviews.

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It is very good news that Rosen is speaking, voluntarily, to the Inspector General of the DOJ and a Senate Committee. Only good can come from Rosen confirming details of the depths that Trump was willing to go to to preserve his reign.

The article goes on to describe a Trumpist in the DOJ, Jeffrey Clark, who was working directly with his master to overturn the results of the 2020 election so that Trump could illegally remain in power. Acting AG Jeffrey Rosen, Clark’s boss, asked Clark not to have further meetings with Trump alone. Clark continued to meet with Trump alone. The DOJ had announced, under Barr and under Rosen, that they had found no fraud on a level that could have changed the outcome of the presidential election. Clark pressed the DOJ to change its position to give traction to Trump’s Big Lie about the stolen election he claims to have won in a landslide. Clark drafted a letter to Georgia officials based on this unfounded lie, that he asked Rosen to sign. The New York Times:

Mr. Rosen also described subsequent exchanges with Mr. Clark, who continued to press colleagues to make statements about the election that they found to be untrue, according to a person familiar with the interview.

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statements that they found to be untrue

His colleagues “found them to be untrue” these statements Clark was pressuring them to make?

Clarification? Clark wanted them to make statements that the DOJ had investigated and found to be false, baseless, not based in evidence? Statements that some in the DOJ “found to be untrue”? An honest disagreement between colleagues in these highly charged partisan times? The Times, setting new standards for anodyne exposition? Seriously.

Then, as far as clarity, good writing, elegance of language in the service of informing readers:

He also discovered that Mr. Clark had been engaging in unauthorized conversations with Mr. Trump about ways to have the Justice Department publicly cast doubt on President Biden’s victory, particularly in battleground states that Mr. Trump was fixated on, like Georgia. Mr. Clark drafted a letter that he asked Mr. Rosen to send to Georgia state legislators, wrongly asserting that they should void Mr. Biden’s victory because the Justice Department was investigating accusations of voter fraud in the state.

Such a letter would effectively undermine efforts by Mr. Clark’s colleagues to prevent the White House from overturning the election results, and Mr. Rosen and his top deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, rejected the proposal.

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Idea for the copy editor, change one word to make this sentence more clear and more accurate:

falsely asserting that they should void Mr. Biden’s victory because the Justice Department was investigating accusations of voter fraud in the state.

Look, it was false because the DOJ was not investigating accusations of voter fraud in the state when Clark wrote the letter. It was false because Clark knew that there were no ongoing investigations. It was knowingly false, because, in spite of knowing it, and three recounts in Georgia, Clark tried to get his boss to sign the false letter. I understand the Times may want to avoid implying intent on the part of Mr. Fucking Eichmann Clark, but “wrongly” is ambiguous, open-ended and just plain misleading. There are many reasons a person can be wrong, knowingly lying is only one.

Medal for most squeamishly anodyne sentence in the article, with a star for contortion:

Such a letter would effectively undermine efforts by Mr. Clark’s colleagues to prevent the White House from overturning the election results, and Mr. Rosen and his top deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, rejected the proposal.

Or, perhaps just a tad more accurately

The false letter Clark wanted his boss to sign would have put the acting AG on record as knowingly lying to overturn the election Mr. Trump continues to falsely insist he won, in a fucking landslide.

Come on, Grey Lady, we want to believe you’re better than this…

Here’s a roadmap for the Justice Department to follow in investigating Trump

Opinion by Laurence H. Tribe, Barbara McQuade and Joyce White Vance [1] from the August 5, 2021 Washington Post:

As evidence of Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election mounts, the time has come for the Justice Department to begin, if it hasn’t already, a criminal investigation of the former president’s dangerous course of conduct. Attorney General Merrick Garland has worked to restore the badly frayed public trust in a nonpartisan DOJ. But failing to investigate Trump just to demonstrate objectivity would itself be a political decision — and a grave mistake. If we are to maintain our democracy and respect for the rule of law, efforts to overturn a fair election simply cannot be tolerated, and Trump’s conduct must be investigated.

The publicly known facts suffice to open an investigation, now. They include Trump’s demand that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “find” 11,780 votes to declare he won that state’s election; Trump’s pressure on acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen as well as Vice President Mike Pence to advance the “big lie” that the election was stolen; the recently revealed phone call in which Trump directed Rosen to “just say the election was corrupt, [and] leave the rest to me,” and public statements by Trump and associates such as Rudolph W. Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks on Jan. 6 to incite the mob that stormed the Capitol.

None of these facts alone proves a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, but together they clearly merit opening a criminal investigation, which would allow prosecutors to obtain phone and text records, emails, memos and witness testimony to determine whether Trump should be charged

One possible charge is conspiracy. It is a federal crime for individuals to agree to defraud the United States by interfering with governmental functions. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III included such a conspiracy in his indictment against the Internet Research Agency, alleging the Russian group engaged in a conspiracy aimed at “impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions” of government agencies.

An investigation could also explore whether Trump agreed with others — Giuliani, Brooks and possibly members of his inner circle — to obstruct Congress’s function of exercising its statutory duty to certify the election results on Jan. 6. By using disinformation to sow unfounded doubt, Trump and his allies may have tried to induce members of Congress to vote against certifying the election results, creating enough chaos to throw the election to the House, where Republicans controlled a majority of state delegations.

Another plausible charge is obstruction of an official proceeding. The relevant statute makes it a crime to corruptly obstruct, influence or impede any official proceeding or attempt to do so. Agreeing with others to obstruct the Jan. 6 vote certification for a wrongful purpose and the commission of any act in furtherance of that agreement would suffice to prove a violation, putting Trump at the heart of a conspiracy, with his public statements and tweets constituting overt act

A related but distinct charge is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, “RICO,” which has often been used beyond its original intended target of organized crime. To prove RICO, the DOJ would need to establish that Trump was associated with an enterprise affecting interstate commerce, such as the office of the presidency, and committed at least two racketeering acts. One such act is extortion, which encompasses transmitting a threat to harm another’s reputation with intent to extract something of value. Trump’s conversations with Raffensperger, in which he suggested the secretary of state might have committed a crime and “that’s a big risk to you,” could fit that definition.

Equally fit charges for investigation include violating the federal voter fraud statute and coercing federal employees to violate the Hatch Act by working to advance his political candidacy. Trump’s well-documented efforts to pressure state officials not to certify Biden’s election could run afoul of the voter fraud law, which prohibits anyone from defrauding the residents of a state of a fair election by tabulating false ballots, although Trump might argue that he believed he had won in those states.

Likewise, Trump’s pressure on Rosen to “just say the election was corrupt” could run afoul of the Hatch Act’s criminal provision, which makes it “unlawful for any person to intimidate, threaten, command, or coerce” a federal employee to “engage in … any political activity.” It doesn’t get much more coercive or political than pressuring your attorney general to declare an election corrupt without proof.

Two other potential crimes that merit investigation are inciting insurrection and seditious conspiracy. Both statutes appear to fit the facts, but the DOJ might hesitate to bring charges because of possible defenses. For instance, even though language intended and likely to incite imminent violence meets the Supreme Court’s test for unprotected speech, a court might conclude that Trump’s exhortations to the crowd do not rise to that level of incitement and are protected by the First Amendment.

The bottom line is this: Now that Trump is out of office, the DOJ’s view that sitting presidents cannot be indicted no longer shields him. Attempted coups cannot be ignored. If Garland’s Justice Department is going to restore respect for the rule of law, no one, not even a former president, can be above it. And the fear of appearing partisan cannot be allowed to supersede that fundamental precept.

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[1]

Laurence H. Tribe is Carl M. Loeb University Professor emeritus and a professor of constitutional law emeritus at Harvard Law School. Barbara McQuade is a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School and the former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Joyce White Vance, the former U.S. attorney in Alabama, is a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law.

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Why is Jeffrey Clark an American Eichmann?

After Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, by a healthy 10% margin in the popular vote (81,000,000 to 74,000,000) and the identical, “historic” Electoral College “mandate” that Trump got vanquishing Crooked Hillary in 2016, the Orange Polyp went to work. According to his playbook, announced before the election, he never committed to the peaceful transition of power, if he lost. His loss, he said, could only result from massive communist/BLM/antifa/pedophile cannibal fraud. He still claims to have won by a “landslide”, an alternative fact most Republicans apparently take as true.

The former president was often dismissed as unhinged, delusional, crazy, and a compulsive liar. Of course, the faithless said the same about Adolf Hitler. Both men had the talent and charisma to convince millions of their unhinged delusions. What is keeping America from greatness? Mexican rapists, in caravans, bringing drugs — and China, Jina! Wait, also Muslim terrorists who hate our freedom. Also, sexed up women getting abortions whenever they want. Also, black people who are angry for no fucking reason even though America kisses their asses every day out of liberal guilt for something nobody ever even did to them. Poor people and cripples, bitter about being losers, who expect the government to give them money for nothing. Etc. With Hitler, it all boiled down to the Jews – get rid of the poisonous Jews and Aryans live happily ever after. With the elites who find Trumpism useful, all of the above, but also, mostly the Jews, and those who think, for whatever crazy reason, that it’s not the fucking Jews. Or, to put it more bluntly, whoever we can pin our own crimes on.

As a Jew whose large family was almost completely exterminated in the Nazi era, I am prone to see Nazis among supremely ambitious people who are merely extremely prejudiced and unprincipled. Is Lyin’ Ted really a Nazi? Give the boy a chance, I say, and he’ll do whatever needs to be done for his party. Mitch McConnell? The impartial juror who announced he was working closely with Trump’s defense team to quickly end the farce of a trial in the Senate where no witnesses or testimony would be allowed, the guy who rammed religious extremist Coney Barrett on to the Supreme Court days before the election? Please. Jim Jordan? He speaks to the president “all the time, yes, I spoke to him on January 6, sure I did, but, you, heh… now that you ask when I talked to him on the 6th… heh… ahumenuh humena humena…”. Alabama representative Mo Brooks, in his bullet proof vest, exhorting an armed crowd to go to the Capitol and fight for America, after organizing three White House strategy meetings for his fellow Congressional presidential election challengers prior to January 6 to plan for the big day? I shouldn’t call Brooks a Nazi, he might merely be a high-spirited klansman, for all I know.

While all this seditioning was going on (and it is still going on big time as AG Merrick Garland methodically works to prove the DOJ is now non-political again) we now know, with proof from newly released DOJ memos and other documents, that Trump made a continuous effort to use the DOJ to overturn the 2020 presidential election in states Trump lost (Congressional races won by the GOP in the same elections would not be challenged, no fraud there). Bill Barr, a conservative Christian culture warrior who served as historically shameless, bellicose gunsel for Trump, announced, after blusteringly promoting massive voter fraud allegations for months, that there had been no fraud on a scale that would have changed the election results anywhere. Then, with a final wet kiss to his former master, Barr resigned to spend Christmas with his family (and presumably to avoid future prosecution for seditious conspiracy to commit the insurrection that was being planned).

The lackeys at the top of the DOJ resisted Trump when he asked them to merely announce the election had been corrupt, in spite of the fact, established by the DOJ’s own investigations, that it had not been, and let him and Brooksie, and Jordan, and a few other hearty fanatics, “take care of the rest”. Then, in his moment of need, Trump found his loyal American Eichmann, Jeffrey Clark, right there at DOJ. Like Eichmann, Clark was ready, willing and able, to promote any lie that might be useful to his Leader.

Clark drafted a letter for the acting-AG to sign, informing Georgia officials that they had a legal responsibility to obey the will of the Republican state legislature, not the courts, not the election boards, not the fatuous arguments of cynical liberal constitutional law liars who clearly were involved in the corruption that stole the election from the rightful winner. This letter is part of the public record now, and Barr’s successor, to his credit, refused to sign it (to his discredit, he kept his mouth shut about, and gutlessly tap-danced around, the whole ugly insurrectionish episode).

There was a standoff, a la Trump’s old reality TV show The Apprentice, Clark, his audition letter in hand, arguing to be made AG so he could sign it, with the rest of DOJ leadership threatening to resign. Trump decided not to risk the resignation of DOJ leader and called Georgia instead, finally getting through, on his 18th try, on January 3, to ask the fellas there to give him a break and find the stinkin’ 11,780 votes he needed, and then proceeded with his desperate last stand, the January 6 MAGA riot to “stop the steal”.

Eichmann, the man who kept the trains rolling to the death camps, packed to capacity, was a man of modest intellectual gifts, an incomplete high school education and a talent for bureaucracy. Clark, an accomplished attorney, graduated from college and law school, had a distinguished legal career at one of the world’s top corporate law firms, fighting for ultra-conservative causes and making enough money and powerful right wing contacts that he is set for life (he’s now Chief of Litigation & Director of Strategy at New Civil Liberties Alliance, a self-described young and vibrant organization focused on restoring the historically more robust civil liberties long enjoyed by federal and state citizens—liberties that have come under fire with the rise of the modern “administrative state.”) He’s fighting for “civil liberties” like the right not to be forced to wear a fucking mask by an overreaching government. American Nazis always find well-paying jobs with like-minded, right wing billionaire-funded outfits fighting for their version of liberty and justice.

Hannah Arendt painted an unforgettable and insightful portrait of this kind of ambitious, mindless, true believing public servant in her masterpiece Eichmann in Jerusalem. He is supremely ambitious, does what he’s told, never questions his superiors, proceeds with absolute faith and unwavering belief in the rightness of his cause, knows the millions he loads on to trains are going to death camps, steels himself and does his duty no matter what.

Not to torture this comparison beyond the plain fact that both men, Eichmann and Clark, were ready, willing and able to do whatever was needed to advance their beliefs and their careers — and serve their masters. Of Eichmann, Arendt noted the lack of what we usual call “evil” in his CV and pointed out how he reflected a chillingly modern concept of evil, flowing directly and inexorably from a hateful belief system implemented on a mass level by an unblinking loyalist bureaucracy. From the intro:

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As for what most of us call “conscience,” the Nazis, like the current GOP, had that shit covered. For Nazis conscience was, as Hitler himself had said, a debilitating “Jewish invention.” Conscience, they believed, made people weak and vulnerable and must be rooted out of the Nazi soul, like any vestige of human empathy that did not serve the Leader’s vision. For the current GOP? I don’t know, you tell me.

American Eichmann, Jeffrey Clark

Sickening

Clark’s anti-democratic treachery was already known and reported on back in January. Insurrection moves fast, democratic adjustment to insurrection moves with deliberate, lawful slowness.

The NY Times (January 24, 2021):

Justice Department colleagues said they were shocked by Mr. Clark’s embrace of the president’s falsehoods and plan to oust the acting attorney general in an effort to overturn Georgia’s election results.

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Jeff Clark is the newly established Chief of Litigation and Director of Strategy for the nonpartisan New Civil Liberties Alliance. NCLA is a young and vibrant organization focused on restoring the historically more robust civil liberties long enjoyed by federal and state citizens—liberties that have come under fire with the rise of the modern “administrative state.”

Before joining NCLA, Mr. Clark was dual-hatted as the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division at the U.S. Justice Department from 2020-2021, as well as the Senate-confirmed 35th Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) from 2018-2021. ENRD is a component of the Justice Department with an illustrious, more-than-a-century’s worth of history. He has personally appeared in every federal Court of Appeals. . .

. . . During his two periods of service inside the federal government, Mr. Clark focused on how to implement Federalist 51’s vision of “oblig[ing the government] to control itself.” Now at NCLA, he will focus on enforcing, from the outside, the constraints of the Constitution and the laws on the government.

Interspersed with his government service, Mr. Clark was a partner at the international law firm of Kirkland and Ellis LLP, where he practiced general appellate litigation, environmental law, and administrative law. Moreover, Mr. Clark has also worked in numerous substantive areas of law, ranging from labor law, to class actions, to intellectual property, to bankruptcy, and to products liability.

(from his Linked in profile)

Note on American “politics” to a friend overseas

As for the Orange Polyp, things are finally closing in on him.   There is now proof of three meetings he attended with a dozen Congressional lackeys to plan the spontaneous (ad budget to promote the lie that he won was a modest $50,000,000) January 6 “protest” that degenerate, Negro commies made to look so bad by dressing as a violent white MAGA mob and putting dozens of cops in the hospital, with help from the FBI, a dead Venezuelan socialist and other nefarious traitors, freedom haters and never-Trumpers.   I really don’t see how he and his insurrectionist buddies get out of this one.   

The impeachments were a joke, because, although strong cases were presented each time, his loyalists are so shameless and so terrified of his sadistic wrath they’d acquit him (after a trial with no witnesses, where the foreman of the impartial jury announced he was working closely with the defense) of publicly raping and eating a five year-old, but courts are a different matter.  Even the zealot judges he appointed from the list given to him by the extreme right wing legal fraternity (The Federalist Society the Koch-funded Nazis call themselves) ruled against him in hundreds of cases — a couple even ripping him new assholes.   Evidence or lack of it still rules in court and there are very few cases in which a judge can safely rule against the evidence (and those are mainly on the unappealable Supreme Court where the majority wins no matter how asinine their opinion). The numerous cases against Trump do not favor him.

Not to say he won’t bring a lot more pain on a lot more people before he’s done– and if they don’t prosecute him soon it may well be too late for all of us, AMERCA WHILL B GREAT AGIN, but it really looks like the tide is finally starting to turn against the enraged giant baby.   The shit in his diaper doesn’t smell quite as sweet to many who used to pretend to love sniffing it, to coin a disgusting phrase.