The DOJ needs to prosecute the Malignant Orange Polyp

It is certainly frustrating waiting for justice to be applied to our former (and future, and present, if you ask him) president. We are a nation of laws, we are told, and most laws are absolute for most of us. Obstruction of justice, which the law-is-for-chumps Mr. Trump did at virtually every turn, is a federal crime that he needs to be prosecuted for and convicted of.

I’m not sure what is taking the Fulton County DA so long about prosecuting the former president for his clear violation of Georgia criminal law. If you listen to the tape of Trump’s 18th post-election call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger, with the Georgia law in front of you, it is hard to imagine how any lawyer would be able to defend Trump against the charge that he committed every illegal act listed in the law in his attempt to influence election results, using threats, cajoling, joking, personal appeals to convince the fellas to find him a lousy, stinkin’ 11,780 votes, one more than needed, to give him the state. The search “status of Fulton County, Georgia criminal case against Trump update” brings up March 2021 “updates”, as does every related search. Nothing since then. WTF, y’all?

Since childhood, Trump has never been held accountable for anything, which is why he behaves the way he does. He has never paid a price for anything that wasn’t immediately forgiven or reimbursed by somebody else. His numerous bankruptcies, for incompetent management of a string of business ventures, did not harm his gold-plated luxury brand or his personal fortune. The tax avoidance schemes of his father, of Trump himself, though brazen, are perhaps typical of plans used by the super-wealthy to avoid the payment of taxes. There may be nothing criminal about what appears to be a long history of Trump tax fraud. There may be tax-related criminal charges coming, assuming the Manhattan DA, who let Trump and his children off for their apparent fraud in connection with the Trump SoHo a few years back, makes good on getting an indictment and conviction this time.

We are a nation of laws, and you violate them at your own risk. I know that I am paying about as much in penalties as Trump paid to the IRS in total tax for 2017. I’m being punished for being a year late filing my 2019 taxes. The fine, about the amount of tax I owed (and paid) is on an income perhaps one hundredth of what the former president’s was. Unlike Trump, I have no appeal of that fine under the law. Interest is being added for every day I am late paying the full amount. I can argue all I want, I just have to pay the outrageous, disproportionate (it’s as large as the tax bill I paid — a 100% penalty rate) non-negotiable fine. Fair or not, it’s my punishment for breaking the law and an indelible lesson to me going forward. It is a mistake I don’t plan to make again.

As for Trump, since he never learned a lesson like this, he knows as much now as when he was an out of control five year-old bullying his mom.

Here are some selections from the Boston Globe series making the case that we cannot ensure democracy going forward unless we prosecute our norm, rule and law busting former president (who claims to still actually be the president, Biden is a cheating liar, as illegitimate as the Birther President, Biden’s radical pal, ask any of the tens of millions of the base who believe this). The short Boston Globe series approaches the corruption and irregularity of the troubling Trump presidency from several angles, asking some basic questions along the way.

Is a president, deep in debt ($400,000,000 of it coming due very soon, from Mr. Trump) who continues to operate his businesses (having his sons run them), while fighting to hide all financial records, an obvious target for crafty foreign manipulators to take advantage of? The Globe gives a few examples:

Take Saudi Arabia’s payments to the Trump Hotel, which totaled $270,000 between November 2016 and February 2017. Those payments came just a few months prior to Trump finalizing one of the largest arms deals in US history with the kingdom. He also later went on to protect the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, after the brutal killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. “I saved his ass,” Trump bragged to the journalist Bob Woodward, in reference to bin Salman. “I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop.”

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To avoid these kinds of conflicts of interest (Saudi Arabia is also a longtime tenant in Trump Tower) the Globe advocates for two laws (you listening, Kyrsten? Joe? Dianne Feinstein? [1]). One is a law requiring a sitting president to divest from all of her businesses when taking office (generally done, but not by Trump). The other is the mandatory production of tax returns for all candidates for the presidency (another tradition Trump ignored). Pretending to be under audit for five years would no longer be a lawful excuse for a presidential candidate refusing to produce tax returns. The tax returns would show who the candidate got paid by, who he owes money to and whether it is likely he is a crook.

Nepotism, a mark of autocracy and monarchy everywhere, while technically illegal for US government appointees, arguably does not apply to appointments by the president and vice president. It can be accomplished if one finesses the law a little, for example, by not paying wealthy appointees a salary for their public service, even as that service may also enrich them in many other ways, as Ivanka and Jared’s experience as public servants illustrate. Loss of salary is the current penalty for violating the anti-nepotism law, so if you forgo a salary to make a lot more money while in office, well… nobody’s business, under our current laws. The reason for a stronger anti-nepotism law is clear.

That distrust [of officials appointed by nepotism] would be justified. Filling up key government posts with close relatives of the president, for example, will probably result in a staff that’s more loyal to the president than they are to government institutions, or even to democracy itself. Nepotism is also unlikely to produce the most competent government; Kushner, for example, was profoundly unqualified for his wide-ranging role, and the American people paid the price when he took a leading role in the Trump administration’s coronavirus response. . .

. . . When Trump hired Kushner, some legal scholars argued that the president does not have to abide by the federal anti-nepotism statute. That’s why, in order to ensure that this degree of corruption does not take place, Congress should pass a bill to make explicit that the president cannot appoint a relative to any official government post, even if they forgo a salary. In the event that a president’s relative is widely perceived to be the best qualified for a certain role, that appointment should require a waiver from Congress so that the candidate can be evaluated on their merits. Appointments of family members should be the exception, not the norm.

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Obstruction of Justice while in office, anyone? Protected, as Mueller concluded, by an Office of Legal Counsel memo, from the days of Nixon, that advises the DOJ against indicting a sitting president for any crime. So, even if you can’t exonerate him in the face of an impressive amount of evidence, you also cannot accuse him of obstruction either, since that would be unfair to the guy who wouldn’t be able to defend himself until out of office. What’s a law-abiding Boy Scout Special Counsel to do?

Right out of the gate, Donald Trump appeared to break the law and brazenly admit it to the entire nation — not with remorse but with pride and conviction. Within four months of being sworn in, Trump fired FBI director James Comey, which the White House insisted was a decision rooted in Comey’s mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. But Trump rebuffed his Department of Justice’s line of reasoning in a television interview with NBC, saying that he was planning on firing Comey because of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. . .

. . . It might sound reasonable to say that indicting a sitting president could pose political problems — and potential national security risks — because a criminal trial would effectively incapacitate a president. But an indictment does not necessarily mean that the president has to sit through a criminal trial. That could always be postponed until a president leaves office. In that 1973 memo, the rationale for not indicting a sitting president, even if all proceedings are deferred until they are out of office, rests merely on the perceived damage the image of the office of the president might endure. “The spectacle of an indicted president still trying to serve as chief executive boggles the imagination,” the memo said.

A greater spectacle, however, is a reckless, authoritarian president who is seen on the world stage bending the rule of law to his will. That’s why presidents should be indicted for crimes that they commit, with their trials postponed to when they leave office. Had Mueller been able to operate under a guideline that allowed for Trump’s indictment, the former president probably would have faced legal accountability for his early acts of obstruction of justice. That, on its own, could have deterred him from obstructing justice later in his presidency, as he did during his first impeachment inquiry.

So while presidents should not, for logistical reasons, be required to be a part of a criminal trial while in office, they should not be immune from indictments. Because until presidents can be indicted, they will always be, by definition, above the law.

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Corrupt presidential pardons given as part of a quid pro quo, a dangled pardon in exchange for lying to protect the president from criminal or civil liability, need to be overturned, and explicitly outlawed. The pardon power has generally been used to correct injustices, Trump wielded his pardon power in a characteristically “transactional” way, arguably to obstruct justice in several famous cases (Stone, Manafort, Flynn, Bannon, etc.).

But Donald Trump has proved that a president can use his pardon power not as a corrective for injustice but in exchange for political and personal favors — or even as a tool of coercion or manipulation — and get away with it. In stark contrast to his immediate predecessor, Trump granted clemency to only 237 people. And though some of those acts of clemency included commuting unjustly long sentences for minor offenses, over 100 of them, according to the Lawfare Blog, were granted to people who either had personal connections with the former president or advanced his political cause. Trump was hardly the first president to use his pardon power nefariously, but his blatantly corrupt use of it should be a wake-up call to lawmakers of both major parties that executive clemency must be reformed to limit its potential for abuse.

Boston sucks! Boston sucks!

[1]

The senior senator from California, on why she sees no need to fix the filibuster rule:

“If democracy were in jeopardy, I would want to protect it,” she told Forbes on Wednesday. “But I don’t see it being in jeopardy right now.”

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Twenty minute drill on America’s would be tyrant

If rich parents pay a very young kid $200,000 a year (from1948-58, before he got a substantial raise), he is a millionaire before he hits puberty. If he remains a bully in adolescence, you send him to military academy, where, to boost his low self-esteem, you visit every weekend with an age appropriate cute rented girl, a model. He poses for photos with these adorable models and is seen by his peers as a ladies’ man. He excels at making his bed and disciplining younger cadets, he looks good in his uniform.

As a young adult you put him in charge of the highly lucrative family business. He soon branches out to running his own other businesses as well. No matter how many times he fails, by taking stupid risks, you bail him out. Teach him how to use the bankruptcy code to preserve his personal wealth each time he dissolves a failed business venture.

It becomes apparent that he will never be satisfied just to be a rich celebrity playboy with his amazing sex life in the tabloids every day, but that is a start. He makes important contacts in tabloid world, including a powerful man named Pecker. He is introduced to important political contacts and he donates money to them, tax deductible donations.

He is eventually seen as a “useful idiot” to extremely wealthy right wing extremists, a block of religious extremists of a certain stripe, a once powerful foreign adversary led by an autocratic former spook skilled in dirty tricks. Aided by a cabal of domestic political dirty tricksters (two of whom he will later pardon for felonies committed in his name) and the profit-hungry mass media (he is a ratings goldmine), he becomes the GOP candidate for president.

He is cheered by millions of tabloid readers, every bigot in the country, as well as every white person with a grievance, tens of millions of whom vote for him. He is also supported by many of America’s wealthiest, to whom he has promised (and will deliver) a huge tax windfall worth many billions of dollars. With the help of the media (everyone loves a star), a huge, skillfully targeted Russian social media campaign enriching America’s richest 32 year-old entrepreneur, and strategic payments to silence two women he had extramarital affairs with, he becomes the 45th US president by a slim, beautifully engineered Electoral College margin.

But he’s the same person he always was– low self-esteem, an angry bully, a person with no idea how to actually run a business (the family business has always been a closely held dictatorship) a man with childishly weak impulse control who has famously never compromised, not once, ever. The times he did have to settle some of his thousands of lawsuits, papers were signed saying he didn’t compromise. The term “doubling down,” a desperate gambling move to appear confident, becomes part of normal American English. He demands loyalty, and when he doesn’t get it, he lashes out, takes revenge. He’s angry, vindictive and increasingly delusional.

When he loses his re-election bid, he manages to convince tens of millions of people, not defaming any particular religion, that wealthy Jew Cannibal Pedophile Satanists have stolen the election from him, in league with America hating Muslim-American terrorists, dead Mexican rapists, angry Black terrorists (with irrational anger at a system that gives them everything), a few million Asian disease spreaders (causing a pandemic to support the usurper Biden), vicious anti-fascist doom squads laying waste to American cities (out of an irrational hatred of fascists), traitorous Republican state officials, Socialists, Communists, Reds, Anarchists (entire illegal jurisdictions of them!) enraged homosexual and environmental extremist terrorists and so on.

Angry people, we note, will believe anything that supports their rage.

Oh, during the lead up to his first impeachment he was in a rage about the sick, dangerous enemies who were arrayed against him. Daily he’d vent about the maniacs out to get him, simply because he was the greatest genius ever to be the American president. One day he said this:

Two years later we find out he ordered the Department of Justice to investigate Representatives Schiff, Eric Swalwell, their staffs, and their families. The DOJ issued subpoenas, with gag orders to the subpoenaed companies (Apple and Microsoft), to conduct a long “leak” investigation looking to turn up dirt to discredit these vicious enemies of America’s greatest president. Apparently they didn’t turn up anything useful, and this illegal misuse of the government to hunt the president’s enemies was hidden, but not that well. Now it is public knowledge, among about 61% of the population.

But the fucking leaks don’t stop! The NY Times reported the fake news today that Trump had the DOJ issue subpoenas to dig into the phone records of then White House counsel Don McGahn II and his wife. [1] The man was open about hating his many crazy, dangerous enemies, his fulminations against them united his base (Al-Qeada, in Arabic), and it is no surprise that he openly (if secretly) used his DOJ to go after them. In spite of that, the NY Times attacks him, with that typical “objective” tone they use so despicably:

Still, the disclosure that agents secretly collected data of a sitting White House counsel is striking as it comes amid a political backlash to revelations about Trump-era seizures of data of reporters and Democrats in Congress for leak investigations. The president’s top lawyer is also a chief point of contact between the White House and the Justice Department.

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The question before us all now is how strenuously will Attorney General Merrick Garland defend America’s greatest former, and future, president against these scurrilous charges that he innocently (and within the scope of his duties) used the FBI to engage in numerous personal witch-hunt fishing expeditions against a small handful of his many nefarious enemies?

Let us all remember the great man’s pronouncement, via twitter, the day after he was completely exonerated of any and all wrongdoing by the “conflicted” partisan traitor Robert Mueller III.

[1] from that lying article, about the timing of the DOJ subpoena of McGahn:

Because Mr. McGahn had been the top lawyer for the Trump campaign in 2016, it is possible that at some earlier point he had been among those in contact with someone whose account the Mueller team was scrutinizing in early 2018.

Notably, Mr. Manafort had been hit with new fraud charges unsealed the day before the subpoena. Subsequent developments revealed that Mr. Mueller’s investigators were closely scrutinizing some of his communications accounts in the days that followed.

Another roughly concurrent event was that around that time, Mr. Trump had become angry at Mr. McGahn over a matter related to the Russia investigation, and that included a leak.

In late January 2018, The New York Times had reported, based on confidential sourcing, that Mr. Trump had ordered Mr. McGahn the previous June to have the Justice Department remove Mr. Mueller, but Mr. McGahn had refused to do so and threatened to resign. The Washington Post confirmed that account soon after in a follow-up article.

The Mueller report, and Mr. McGahn himself in private testimony before the House Judiciary Committee this month, described Mr. Trump’s anger at Mr. McGahn after the Times article, including trying to get him to make a statement falsely denying it. Mr. Trump told aides that Mr. McGahn was a “liar” and a “leaker,” according to former Trump administration officials. In his testimony, Mr. McGahn said that he had been a source for The Post’s follow-up to clarify a nuance — to whom he had conveyed his intentions to resign — but he had not been a source for the original Times article.

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NOTE: McGahn was a liar, according to Mr. Trump, because he refused to memorialize the lie that Mr. Trump had never asked McGahn to do the thing McGahn refused to do, and in the process of that refusal becoming public, had made Mr. Trump look like a liar. Which, of course, would make McGahn a complete fucking liar, as well as a leaker, and, of course, he probably lied about the extent of his leak to the enemy press. Hence, the subpoenas.

FURTHER NOTE: just because Trump had the investigation into his own White House counsel started the day he learned that Mueller brought new fraud charges against his campaign’s point man with Putin (via Konstantin Kilimnik), Paul Manafort, who lied repeatedly to Mueller, is no reason to add these leaked leak investigations to the long list of Mr. Trump’s alleged “pattern and practice” of using the DOJ in the course of “obstructing” justice, or whatever you want to call the crazy five year conspiracy by sick and dangerous traitors to bring our greatest American to his knees, something that will never happen.

My man, Don McGahn

Don McGahn, Trump’s first White House lawyer, is a dedicated conservative who was largely responsible for the selection and lifetime appointments of Messrs Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. After Trump fired FBI director Comey, for refusing to commit to personal loyalty to the president and for not dropping the “Flynn Thing” (Mike Flynn’s illegal contacts with Russia that he lied about), the DOJ appointed a Special Counsel to investigate numerous connections between the Trump campaign and Russia and Trump’s suspicious loyalty to Vladimir Putin, a foreign leader who had openly (and secretly) helped Trump win the “close” election of 2016.

During his famous Oval Office reaction to the news of Robert Mueller’s appointment as Special Counsel, Trump said “this is the end of my presidency, I’m fucked!” according to sworn witnesses. You can look it up. Trump was outraged at this intrusion on to his unlimited executive powers. Partisan witch hunt was a common cry, conducted by “sick and dangerous individuals” who he would punish when the time was right. After a moment of self-pity Trump exploded at his team for letting this witch hunt start in the first place, and his vendetta against the loyal, but not loyal enough, Jeff Sessions began in earnest.

Members of Trump’s inner circle lied to Mueller’s investigators, in exchange for the promise of a pardon from the big guy, which they got. Mueller found 140 instances of coordination, working together, direct communication, collusion, between members of Trump’s campaign and the Russian government, a foreign actor who worked tirelessly to swing the election to Trump. Mueller found there was no doubt of the ongoing collusion, which is not a legal term, but that there was “insufficient evidence” of a criminal conspiracy. Mueller also noted evidence had been withheld and numerous witnesses had lied to him. Hence Barr’s finding of “no collusion” and the announcement that Mueller had “exonerated” Trump of all wrong-doing.

When Mueller started digging he encountered so much lying from Trump’s people, the president’s refusal to answer even written questions his lawyers had agreed to have him answer, defiance of every subpoena and numerous other maneuvers to avoid production of evidence that he began to investigate Trump’s apparent obstruction of justice. One of the ten instances Mueller gave to illustrate what appeared to have been a consistent pattern of obstruction (a substantial pattern that did not allow Mueller to exonerate Trump, even if he also couldn’t directly accuse him of — per DOJ memo about accusing a sitting president of a crime — Mueller took that extra step– if he can’t be prosecuted, it’s unfair to accuse him) involved White House counsel Don McGahn.

At one point Trump asked McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn advised the president that firing the Special Counsel investigating obstruction of justice would look bad, could bite him hard. As McGahn told Mueller’s investigators, he’d refused to fire Mueller, consulted his own lawyer, packed up his office and wrote a letter of resignation to Trump. Trump didn’t accept McGahn’s resignation, instead asking him to write a memo stating that they had never discussed firing Mueller. McGahn revealed all this, under oath, to Mueller’s investigators.

When Congress sent McGahn a subpoena to appear before a committee looking into impeaching Trump, McGahn filed a federal suit seeking a ruling on whether Congress had the right to subpoena him, whether such a subpoena would violate attorney-client privilege and any other defense to giving testimony that he could think of. The suit dragged on for a couple of years, long past both Trump impeachments. The predictable delay prevented McGahn from giving public testimony that could have seriously hurt his demanding, sometimes lawless, former client. While nothing McGahn did was illegal, it certainly fits into Trump’s pattern of doing everything possible to obstruct any investigation into anything he has ever done.

Recently McGahn agreed to testify in Congress, behind closed doors, with his own lawyer, and Trump’s lawyer, in the room. According to the deal he struck with those who had subpoenaed him years earlier he would not answer anything outside of the scope of what he had revealed to Mueller under oath. I started reading the transcript of his testimony, which was released in its 240 page entirety the other day. I made it to page 8 where I read:

In a nation of angry, divided, freaked out citizens, this McGahn shit is a dead letter, ancient history, irrelevant, Trump already got away with obstruction of justice, and nobody is going to do anything about his incitement to riot, we’ve seen it a hundred times over now — he publicly did many things far worse than asking his lawyer to lie for him and make a written record of the lie.

Moderate Merrick Garland’s DOJ is so far following up on all of Barr’s objections to investigations into Trump’s monkeyshines. No public disclosure of Barr’s lying, falsely classified memo, we appeal the judge’s ruling, no prosecution of Trump and Barr for using teargas, horses and batons against a peaceful protest for Trump’s photo op, we move to dismiss the lawsuit, no penalty for a president defaming a private citizen “during the scope of his duties,” we appeal the denial of our right to substitute ourselves for the former president in this lawsuit according to federal law.

I may be the only person, certain the only poor bastard I know, who is wondering “what the fuck?!” as I read the words from the McGahn transcript “although this interview is not under oath” you’re still not allowed to lie, you know.

My only hope, I think, is that my head will explode before too much longer. We live in Berlin 1932 and we are watching the principled, decent, reasonable, elected Weimar government let the angry right call all the shots, many of them based on outright, easily demonstrable lies. Alternative facts, driving new laws that could help Trump loyalists overturn the next election, if Americans turn out in large numbers to vote the wrong way again, next time. What could fucking go wrong?

You can say “seig heil!” can’t you you? I know you can.

Follow the Dark Money

If there is a chokepoint in democracy, a vulnerability in the experiment in majority rule, count on the clever engineers of the Koch network to find and exploit it. In this case, it is the two “centrist” Democratic “mavericks” who espouse fundamental change to the current partisan acrimony over a sensible, necessary, straightforward rules change that will allow their 51 votes to rule on policy. The party they advocate cooperating with is the one that has been forcing 51-49 outcomes on their opponents as often as humanly possible when they had control of the Senate.

So the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce may have given Manchin and Synema a lot of money. Whose business is that? The Supreme Court said wealthy donors that make political contributions in a certain way are engaged in protected First Amendment speech, not campaign “speech”, which would, theoretically be subject to regulation, so it is fine that the wealthy donors keep their names out of it. Dark money, Mitch McConnell’s fondest wet dream. Three Supreme Court cases make the irrefutable case that this is the case, that the status quo Manchin and Synema refuse to challenge is the law of the land. Unless, by some chance, the law of the land gets changed by something like the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or the For the People Act.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act, been there, done that. It solved the problem, now it is time to move on from enforcing it, said John Roberts in 2013. When John Roberts ruled that because the US now had a mulatto president it proved that racism was no longer a factor in American politics, and, he claimed, the data Congress relied on in almost unanimously reauthorizing the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act was old, from 1965, a time when there was racism in the USA, it was no longer necessary to strictly enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Under this wrongly decided, unappealable ruling formerly racist states no longer had to clear new voting laws before they could be put into effect, as formerly required under the Voting Rights Act, as the 98-0 Senate voted to continue requiring. His 5-4 majority overturned the two lower court cases where Shelby County, Alabama, a carefully chosen plaintiff, had lost in federal court.

Immediately after this decision came down, literally days after Roberts used his cockeyed rationale (the dissent pointed out the hundreds of hours of debate in both houses, and the thousands of pages of pertinent contemporary voting data produced before the Senate voted 98-0 to extend the law) to craft the cynical 5-4 Shelby County v. Holder ruling (and Shelby County itself had recently been found guilty of some race-based voting shenanigans) cutting enforcement out of the Voting Rights Act, the first few of almost two hundred new state voter suppression laws were enacted by a number of states, led by the great state of Texas.

This desired result was but one success of the anti-majoritarian project of the forces that founded the John Birch Society and then efficiently engineered their advocacy into a more and more effective political action network. Appoint federal judges from partisan lists maintained by the Federalist Society (a business networking fraternity for committed right-wing law students, lawyers and judges) and then have other members of this society bring cases designed to be upheld by a now 6-3 Federalist Society Supreme Court. They’ve done this very well over the years, to sometimes horrific effect, and the plan is to soon end a working class woman’s ability to make the painful decision to end an unwanted pregnancy.

To be sure, Charles Koch and his buddies don’t care about the lives of the unborn, fetuses, whatever you want to call them. They simply recognize a great opportunity to galvanize the support of millions of fervent GOP voting Christians who want this done. This large block of conservative Christians will vote for virtually anyone who announces a firm commitment to end the state sanctioned mass murder of the unborn.

A case to end partisan gerrymandering, Rucho v Common Cause (2019) wound up upholding the right of the right-wing network to continue conducting its successful Operation Red Map (the plan to take over the majority of the state governments) by drawing districts however they please to maximize their power in the state house and the House of Representatives. The Roberts court declared that partisan gerrymandering, because it is a partisan political issue, was something the Supreme Court was forbidden to rule on, due to the famous Political Question Doctrine [1]. The ruling meant partisan gerrymandering, the process that brought us Marjorie Taylor Jew-Anon, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert and a host of firebrand GOP luminaries (they run in crazily convoluted districts drawn to be 70% Republican), cannot be challenged in federal court. Done and done.

Then there is arguably the most important and destructive Supreme Court case in recent history, the 2010 5-4 Citizens United ruling that removed limits on campaign spending by certain legally created non-profit entities and corporate persons. The questions teed up for Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy (who wrote for the 5-4 majority, and for whom Boof Kavanaugh once clerked) were four:

Question

1) Did the Supreme Court’s decision in McConnell resolve all constitutional as-applied challenges to the BCRA when it upheld the disclosure requirements of the statute as constitutional?

2) Do the BCRA’s disclosure requirements impose an unconstitutional burden when applied to electioneering requirements because they are protected “political speech” and not subject to regulation as “campaign speech”?

3) If a communication lacks a clear plea to vote for or against a particular candidate, is it subject to regulation under the BCRA?

4) Should a feature length documentary about a candidate for political office be treated like the advertisements at issue in McConnell and therefore be subject to regulation under the BCRA?

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If this sounds like “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” you are not wrong. Can we distinguish between protected “political speech” and that regulated as “campaign speech”? Does it not rest largely on where we put the “quotation” marks?

So, in the meantime, and without new laws to prevent it (such as the For the People Act, HR1, the bill Manchin has already committed to voting against) the law of the land is that

1) all state laws to restrict voting, no matter how discriminatory they may smell, are presumed not to be discriminatory unless successfully challenged in court, surviving all appeals;

2) the political party that controls the state legislature (see Operation Red Map, they have 30 of 50 states now) draws the gerrymandered districts most advantageous to increasing their power and those gerrymanders cannot be challenged in court, and;

3) the flow of dark money allowed by Citizens United (with the Court’s assurance that democracy would be protected because all these dark money sources would be disclosed to the public) may not be challenged, as it is obviously protected “political speech” and clearly not “campaign speech”.

Manchin refused to say which parts of the For the People Act are repugnant to his sensibilities. Given the similarities between his recent incoherent op-ed and the equally sophisticated position of Americans for Prosperity, a Koch operation, one suspects there may be financial and career incentives involved for Joe Fucking Manchin.

How much dark money does the conservative, indispensable Manchin get from the secret liberty caucus? Synema? It’s nobody’s right to know that, ask John Roberts.

For now, it is enough to know this, Manchin will not vote with the rest of the Democrats to change the law to protect voting rights from the fraudulent fraud-based voter suppression laws popping up in more and more heavily gerrymandered, dark-money funded state legislatures. Synema is now free to vote however she likes, though she’s a rock on the sanctity of the filibuster rule, preferring the more reasonable “change in behavior” that would make the Senate as collegial as it was when Charles Sumner was almost caned to death on the floor of the Senate in those bipartisan days leading up to the glorious Civil War the brave, outnumbered insurrectionists never lost.

History, yawn.

[1] You can read about it here, the recent history of the Political Question Doctrine.

A condensed explanation, from the link above:

Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Roberts, while deploring the practice of partisan gerrymandering, concluded that no judicially manageable standards existed that could be applied by the federal courts.  Justice Kagan, writing for four dissenters argued that the lower courts (two district courts, one in North Carolina considered a Republican gerrymander and one in Maryland considering a Democratic gerrymander) have done an admirable job separating the typical run-of-the-mill partisan gerrymander (which Kagan and the dissenters suggest would be constitutional) from the extreme gerrymanders (using new technological tools that allow parties to maximize their political advantage) that the dissenters contend violate both the Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment.  Rucho leaves modern politics in a mess.  The beneficiaries of gerrymandering have zero incentive to adopt more neutral redistricting approaches and Congress is too polarized to act.

Dumbocrat Joe Manchin and the Bipartisanship Trap

I’m convinced now, after his incoherent “op-ed” the other day, about his fond, Anne Frank-like hopes for bipartisanship and the sanctity of the filibuster, that Joe Manchin is an idiot.   As smart as Trump himself, or Kyrsten “just change human nature, parliamentary rules are forever” Sinema, is what I’m saying.  That our all-wise Founding Fathers made no provision for one or two idiots ending democracy was a serious oversight. It would be great to live in a country where majority rule, open public debate, bipartisanship and a sense of fair play were rewarded. We don’t live in that country, unfortunately.

The echoes of the high-minded liberal democracy in 1920s Germany, the Weimar Republic, relying on the better angels of Germany against a charismatic radical movement are hard to ignore (historians refer to this stance as the Weimar Republic’s “supine passivity” in the face of Nazism).  It’s part of the problem of having well-meaning “moderates” and “compromisers” like Biden, Pelosi and Schumer in charge of the opposition party in a time of unprincipled, fantasy-based, well-financed, no-compromise extremism on the other side.   

I don’t know if it’s a lack of guts, smarts, an inability to see just how radical and insane (and essentially unpopular, when you poll on actual policies) what they are up against is, or just Charles Koch’s complete victory in his well-engineered 50 year war against “majoritarian tyranny,” (his network has captured most state governments and now dominates the federal courts) but the Democratic party’s halting steps toward justice and accountability, even to investigate a carefully orchestrated, presidentially stoked lie-fueled (ad budget $50,000,000) riot to overturn an election, are really disturbing, as I don’t need to tell you, I’m sure. What do Democratic leaders not understand about Berlin 1932?

How Democrats got played into “bipartisanship,” by McConnell’s 51-49 Suck it Caucus is beyond me.   The stunningly partisan McConnell’s sudden call for bipartisanship, by the party that gave us the last two party-line 51-49 “Suck It” Supreme Court justices, is the glue trap the dim Mr. Manchin is firmly stuck to (and, yes, Trump won Manchin’s conservative state by 40 points…). We also recall that McConnell got his 6-3 Supreme Court by changing the filibuster rule for Supreme Court justices, as he will nuke the filibuster itself, should he regain majority power in the Senate.

Someone compiled this chart of major post Civil War civil rights legislation, to show that amendments and laws supporting real social change are rarely, if ever, passed on a bipartisan basis.  Those who want slavery, and believe that Negroes, because they are inferior, “have no rights a white man is bound to respect” (in the infamous phrase of Justice Roger Taney), are never going to suddenly compromise with those who want to amend the constitution to make slavery and racism at law illegal.

There was a kind of bipartisanship, since World War One, between Dixiecrats (racist southern Democrats who ruled the now solidly Red South) and racist Republicans, who united, time after time, to filibuster and block debate on bills that would have made lynching a federal crime, as well as the two twentieth century Civil Rights Acts.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act, which finally made enforcement of the 1870 Fifteenth Amendment possible, somehow passed on a bipartisan basis [1].

The most recent reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, 98-0 in the Senate, was struck down by John Roberts in his deeply flawed, unappealable 5-4 Shelby County v. Holder ruling back in 2013 [2] (tip of the cap to Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society for finding the weak-ass local Alabama case that allowed Roberts to neuter the Voting Rights Act and usher in the age of baseless fraud challenges to fraud-free voting).

The only thing recently that gave me any optimism was this bit from Heather Cox Richardson last night:

At the same time, McConnell appeared to win the filibuster over the January 6 commission only by appealing to his caucus to vote against it as a personal favor to him. Even so, lots of senators chose to be absent on that day. It is not clear to me that McConnell is confident he can hold the filibuster wall as he was able to in the past, and having continually to defend filibusters of popular measures can only hurt the Republicans.

source


That 35 cowardly weasels can stop all debate, hell, even one can do it, with an email, under present McConnell rules (Lyin’ Ted Cruz had to read Green Eggs and Ham not long ago to filibuster, I think it was Obamacare, suggesting the GOP-majority must have tweaked the talking filibuster rule recently) makes me want to holler.

But maybe, hopefully, Heather Cox Richardson is right and this 35 out of 50 filibuster vote shows how weak and counter-productive (for the GOP) McConnell’s “scorched earth” threat really might turn out to be. Can it be much more scorched than this, Joe Manchin?

[1]

The House approved this conference report version of the bill on August 3 by a 328-74 vote (Democrats 217-54, Republicans 111-20),[48] and the Senate passed it on August 4 by a 79-18 vote (Democrats 49-17, Republicans 30-1).[20]:167[49][50] On August 6, President Johnson signed the Act into law with King, Rosa ParksJohn Lewis, and other civil rights leaders in attendance at the signing ceremony.[20]:168

source

[2]

Today, thanks to the last two 51-49 Suck It justices added by Messrs Trump and McConnell, that vote to strike down the Senate’s unanimous will, and the enthusiastic support of former president George W. Bush, who signed the law after making some remarks about its importance to democracy, would be a “bipartisan” 6-3 overturning of majority rule.

Fucking Democrats…

Instead of giving the Republican senators a stark choice last week between voting for the bipartisan January 6 Commission and facing a majority Democratic House Select Committee investigating the MAGA riot, with the power to subpoena whoever they want and broadcasting their sworn testimony live on television (with no veto from GOP reps, who could include insurrectionists Mo Brooks, Madison Cawthorn, Marjorie Taylor QAnon, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, etc. — see full list of House 2020 election-contesting Select Committee contenders at [1]), we read that Democratic leaders are still fretting about the right way forward.

There’s still a ghost of a chance, some optimistic Democrats appear to think, that six more Republicans will come forward to sacrifice their careers, and possibly endanger their families’ lives, by voting for the evenly bipartisan commission Republicans in the House demanded, and got.

Here’s a headline, reporting the most recent “action” by the Democrats:

Pelosi Weighing Options On How To move Forward With Jan. 6 Commission.

I know that the Democrats, like the Republicans, work for corporations, that not alienating wealthy mega-donors is the name of the game, and that they rightfully don’t want to look like like McConnell’s lockstep, vindictive, truth-defying Trumpist zombies, but WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK is wrong with Democratic leadership?

Vote A or you will get B, motherfuckers.

What is hard about framing a simple choice like that? It presents the only two choices open to anyone who wants to fight to preserve democracy. If not A, we must do B, there is no third option, no compromise possible with a party of blustering zealots and cringing careerist cowards.

Mind you, this filibuster was over something that should not have been partisan, like wearing a mask during a deadly pandemic (“Auschwitz!”), or getting vaccinated (“traitor!” “wimp!!!”) should not have been partisan. “Should” is a quaint word from a bygone time, a precatory word from the old world of norms, a word with no legal force or power. Still, it is hard to imagine (the above examples aside) anything more bipartisan than investigating on attack on Congress, Republicans and Democrats and their staffs all fled an angry mob of normal tourists on an normal mission to hang Trump’s loyal vice president and anyone else they found.

It benefits only their leader to cover up an investigation into the roots of the riot that overran the police, surged into the Capitol after breaking windows and doors and actually halted a joint session of Congress that was about to finalize the peaceful transfer of power. The peaceful transfer of the presidency has been a hallmark of American democracy since the founding. Until a particular wealthy compulsive liar refused to accept the voters’ verdict and decided to send a mob to stop it.

There is also, of course, the matter of learning for sure exactly who organized, paid for, and planned the attack that breached the Capitol. The organizers and financiers of the dress rehearsal for an all-out insurrection are all still out there. They have to be encouraged that, so far, but for a few of their pawns arrested and on their own, the mad plan worked so well and nobody is coming after the instigators so far.

If you don’t think the riot was serious as terminal cancer, consider: if the tens of thousands of Trump supporters who swarmed the mall had followed the boldest 800 or so over the barricades and into the Capitol, there quite likely would have been state funerals for Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi and others.

One thing I will say for Trump’s followers in Congress, and Nazi-types in general, they boldly and forcefully confront enemies and never publicly back down. They fetishize boldness. Boldness is a hallmark of the in-your-fucking-face provocative style of fascist/klan rallies. McConnell will never back down from his comment that 100% of his focus is on obstructing anything Biden and the Democrats try to do. There is no sniffing the wind, no deliberating, discussing, debating. They (or their leader) make a decision, no matter how stupid, and boldly stick to it. If it turns out to be wrong, they simply make it a rallying cry, to “trigger” the other side, their hated enemies. It works well for a solid 39% of Americans, we can say that for it.

Even fucking Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post ran this editorial, not long after Trump demanded a filibuster of a commission to investigate his riot and McConnell asked for the filibuster as a “personal favor,” and it was so.

“HOPEFULLY, MITCH McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are listening!” Once former president Donald Trump ordered Republican leaders in Congress on May 18 to block an independent commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6, the fate of the panel was sealed. On Friday, 35 Senate Republicans, including Mr. McConnell (Ky.), delivered the fatal blow by upholding a filibuster. But that must not be the end of efforts to get to the bottom of the most serious attack on U.S. democracy since the Civil War.

Having tried bipartisanship on an issue of such critical importance, Democrats must now undertake their own investigation. Just as President Biden used reconciliation to enact covid-19 relief in the face of GOP obstruction, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should use her authority to appoint a select committee to investigate what happened on Jan. 6.

Such a committee, used in the past to examine such issues as the response to Hurricane Katrina, would have its drawbacks. It would be composed of members of Congress and not experts. Mr. McCarthy would likely use his appointments to lard the committee with members intent not on getting at the truth but protecting Mr. Trump. And it might be more difficult for the public to accept its conclusions. But Friday’s vote — in which Republicans prevented the commission bill from even coming to the floor for debate — leaves Democrats with little alternative. The country needs answers to such questions as what led to and who was responsible for the attack on Congress, and why there was a delay in getting reinforcements to the Capitol to help besieged police officers.

During negotiations over the commission bill in the House, which passed with bipartisan support, Republicans got everything they asked for, including equal representation on the commission. Democrats were prepared to offer further concessions in the Senate. But most Republicans, as Friday’s vote made clear, would just as soon forget about the day thousands of Mr. Trump’s supporters breached the Capitol and assaulted police officers as they tried to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election results. No doubt, they know that much of the responsibility for the riot lies with Mr. Trump, and they are loath to incur his wrath or that of his base.

In a closed-door meeting with his conference, Mr. McConnell argued that a lengthy commission wouldn’t be good politics heading into the midterms; he engaged in extraordinary arm-twisting, going so far as to tell wavering Republicans that their support to filibuster the bill would be a “personal favor” to him. It worked: Only six Republicans voted to advance debate on the commission: Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah) and Ben Sasse (Neb.).

Ms. Pelosi suggested during an April interview with USA Today that she might move to establish a select committee to investigate Jan. 6 if efforts for an independent commission failed. A statement she issued Friday in response to the Senate’s vote makes no mention of a select committee but stated that “honoring our responsibility to the Congress in which we serve and the Country which we love, Democrats will proceed to find the truth.” Proceed they should.

source

But only after A LOT more hand-wringing over the “right way” forward, like the agonizing year-long deliberations over whether Trump’s documented obstruction of justice, by itself, was enough to justify an impeachment (Nancy decided it wasn’t — an impeachment for extorting the new Ukrainian president and contempt of Congress — a political entity even more unpopular that Trump– would rally more Americans to the cause of impeachment, since it was more tangible and understandable than an abstraction like Obstruction of Justice, she argued).

Here’s a thought:

Maybe Joe Manchin has another good idea, or the coy Kyrsten Sinema will get inspired to offer any idea. Actually, Sinema reared her adorable little corporate head the other day, during a bipartisan Border Wall photo op with John Cornyn (R-Tx) to say this (which does not actually qualify as an idea):

“Well, as folks in Arizona know, I’ve long been a supporter of the filibuster, because it is a tool that protects the democracy of our nation, rather than allowing our country to ricochet wildly every two to four years back and forth between policies.”

Wait, here’s her idea! (from an April 2021 interview with Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal in which the senator for Arizona big business– she always listens to Arizona business leaders, she says — spelled out what needs to happen, instead of modifying the sacred Senate procedural rule so skillfully used by reactionary obstructionists)

“When you have a place that’s broken and not working, and many would say that’s the Senate today, I don’t think the solution is to erode the rules,” Sinema told the Journal. “I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together, which is what the country wants us to do.”

Brilliant. Simply change human nature. I feel much better now.

How 35 obstructionists can uphold a filibuster is another head-scratcher, maybe one of those moderate centrists can explain to the rest of us.

Free gold, losers!

[1] Any of these 139 Trumpist patriots who voted to block confirmation of Biden Electors in the House would be an excellent candidate for the House Select Committee to investigate Benghazi, er, the January 6 MAGA riot. Many supported a commission to investigate election “fraud” before Biden could be sworn in, all later voted against a bill to form a bipartisan commission to investigate the riot that they helped inspire. (I know Frank Lucas and Lloyd Smucker are in there twice, they deserve to be, great men, both).

(Also, formatting with this fucking intuitive WordPress editor was close to impossible for an old man like me… these are screen shots of screen shots, good luck making a collage, or formatting columns, with this ingeniously re-designed program… it’s so brilliantly simple to work with their innovative “blocks”…)

Anyway, here they are:

Military Coup, anyone?

Not to question anyone’s credibility, but over the weekend pardoned felon Mike “Lock Her UP!” Flynn, speaking at a four day QAnon conference in Dallas (he took an oath to “Q” on July 4, 2020, nuff said) told a crowd that a Myanmar-style military coup in America “should happen here”. Flynn, who insists Trump won the popular vote and Electoral College in 2020, was one of the keynote speakers at the For God and Country Patriot Roundup, along with his former attorney, Kraken-releaser Sidney Powell, and Texas Representative Louie Gohmert and he was only answering an audience question honestly.

When the clip was played on fake news, it was, of course, made to sound bad and Flynn immediately shot back that reporting he supported a military coup in the U.S. was a “boldface fabrication” and that his words had been taken out of context:

“Let me be VERY CLEAR – There is NO reason whatsoever for any coup in America, and I do not and have not at any time called for any action of that sort,” Flynn said in a post on Telegram, a social-media app that has been favored by far-right groups.

“Any reporting of any other belief by me is a boldface fabrication based on twisted reporting at a lively panel at a conference of Patriotic Americans who love this country, just as I do,” Flynn added to his 227,000 subscribers.

source

Kooks like Liz Cheney immediately tweeted mean things about Flynn. Flynn, of course, was helpless to fight back, having been banned from Twitter by the radical left on January 8, 2021, after wholeheartedly supporting the Stop the Steal riot of January 6.

If you read Flynn’s Wikipedia page… well, no comment. I don’t want to be taken out of context. I suggest a quick skim. All the quotes below are from that article. Here’s a paragraph that jumped out at me, from a Trump campaign rally in 2016:

During the speech, Flynn attacked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton; he encouraged the crowd to chant “Lock her up!”; saying “Damn right! Exactly right! There is nothing wrong with that!”[7] He called for Clinton to withdraw from the race, claiming that “if I did a tenth of what she did, I’d be in jail today.”[58] He repeated in subsequent interviews that she should be “locked up”.[106] While campaigning for Trump, Flynn also referred to Clinton as the “enemy camp”.[58] Six days after the speech, Flynn stirred up a controversy by retweeting anti-Semitic remarks, which he later apologized for and claimed were unintentional.[113] During the campaign, Flynn also posted links to false articles and conspiracy theories relating to Clinton on Twitter,[114] including the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.[115]

Pizzagate, you will recall, was the forerunner of the full-blown Trumpist QAnon conspiracy movement. It turned out there was no basement in the DC pizza place where Hillary Clinton and fellow powerful Democrat Satan-worshipping pedophile cannibals allegedly locked children in the basement for sex and blood drinking purposes, it was a sick fantasy hatched by people who wanted to LOCK HER UP (as Jair Bolsonaro later did to his popular opponent in Brazil, shortly before the election). Now the baseless conspiracy about the child sex trafficking pizza joint is a footnote, and the starting point for the massively popular theory, embraced by millions, who believe, as the mysterious “Q” teaches, that Donald J. Trump is the only thing standing between decency and Tom Hanks fucking and killing every child he can get his disgusting hands on.

Apparently mad as hell, after Obama forced him to retire from the military for his hard-ass management style [2], Mike Flynn went on to make considerable money working for Putin and the dictatorial leader of Turkey, among other clients. While working for them he served as a campaign advisor to presidential candidates Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Lyin’ Ted Cruz, and finally, the last Republican standing, Donald Trump. Little known fact:

In July 2016, it was reported he was being considered as Trump’s running mate; Flynn later confirmed that he had submitted vetting documents to the campaign and, although a registered Democrat, was willing to accept the Republican vice-presidential nomination if chosen.[108][109] However, Trump instead selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

Pence, of course, famously went on to betray Trump, in a way Flynn never would have. Trump didn’t listen to Flynn and Powell (and America’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani) when they urged him, days before the Capitol riot, to invoke the Insurrection Act to impose martial law and retain power after traitors claimed he “lost” the rigged, stolen 2020 election. For some reason, Trump hesitated — and the moment to seize power was gone. Alas!

Fortunately for Mr. Trump, there are millions of very angry Americans who believe Q are ready to go to war to reverse the stolen 2020 election and rescue America from the grips of antifa, BLM and the likes of fucking Tom Hanks. The declared neutrality of moderate, centrist Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in this fight will be a huge help to the cause. USA! USA!!!!!

Ya gotta love Mike! Flynn, NOT Pence!

[1]

Communist mouthpiece Business Insider added a gratuitous inflammatory editorial comment (that I prudently decided not to emphasize myself, in the interest of objectivity — what point to mention that Flynn’s 22 days as presidential national security advisor was the shortest term in US history for someone serving in that vital role?) after General Flynn straightened out the fake news:

“I am no stranger to media manipulating my words and therefore let me repeat my response to a question asked at the conference: There is no reason it (a coup) should happen here (in America),” Flynn wrote Monday.

Flynn served as national security adviser under Trump for 22 days before resigning. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with a Russian ambassador, though he later retracted his plea and was pardoned by the former president last November.

[and then — more incendiary, defamatory lies by CCP mouthpiece “Business Insider” !]

As CNN reported Monday, Flynn continued to repeat false claims about the 2020 election during last weekend’s convention, saying, “Trump won. He won the popular vote, and he won the Electoral College vote.” Trump won neither the popular vote nor the Electoral College vote.

source

[2]

More baseless Deep State smears against one of Trump’s best people:

In a private e-mail that was leaked online, Colin Powell said he had heard in the DIA (apparently from later DIA director Vincent R. Stewart) that Flynn was fired because he was “abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc.”[71] According to The New York Times, Flynn exhibited a loose relationship with the truth, leading his subordinates to refer to Flynn’s repeated dubious assertions as “Flynn facts”.[73]

More weasel dancing by the Biden DOJ

This story snuck by fast, leaving barely a ripple, but coming on the heels of the Department of Justice appealing Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s ruling that Bill Barr’s disingenuous “deliberative” Mueller memo must be released to the public, it is alarming. The Washington Post:

The American Civil Liberties Union of D.C., Black Lives Matter, other civil liberties groups and individual protesters accuse Trump and senior officials of driving the June 1 events. Military, federal and local police forcibly cleared the square using batons, clubs, horses, pepper spray, smoke and fired projectiles 30 minutes before a citywide curfew began. Images of violence drew a national backlash against Trump’s calls for “overwhelming force” to put down those he called “THUGS” and domestic terrorists. The nation’s top military official later apologized for walking with Trump before television cameras that day.

Lawyers for the ACLU said that despite legal precedents, the government’s defense would “authorize brutality with impunity” in the heart of Washington at one of the most symbolic spaces within the seat of the federal government.

source

DOJ lawyers argued a few days ago that the case must be dismissed. They argued that the ACLU’s lawsuit over the June 2020 violent dispersal of a peaceful crowd so that Trump could walk to a photo op must be thrown out because the President and Attorney General were acting within the scope of their authority, Barr exercising the “paramount” government interest of protecting the president when he ordered federal anti-riot police to use force to drive a peaceful crowd from Lafayette Park.

The Washington Post notes that right before Trump’s walk to the church to menacingly hold up a Bible:

Trump called on governors to “dominate your city and your state” in the hours before the crackdown, adding, “In Washington, we’re going to do something people haven’t seen before.”

Earlier, he tweeted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” as protests raged in Minneapolis. Trump also threatened that if demonstrators outside the White House breached its gates, they “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs and most ominous weapons I have ever seen.”

Finally, the suit asserted that even as police moved on the square at 6:43 p.m., Trump spoke a few hundred yards away in the Rose Garden, saying, “[If] a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John's Church across from Lafayette Square.

The ACLU had the better argument, that peaceful protesters have rights that prevent the federal (or state) government from burning, beating, shooting or giving them asthma attacks with chemical irritants:

The lawsuits seek damages and a court order declaring that authorities conspired to violate civil rights statutes and the First and Fourth amendment rights of protesters injured after being burned, beaten, shot or put into respiratory distress.

As Trump told his riled up supporters during his #Stop the Steal rally on January 6:

“When you catch somebody in a fraud you’re allowed to go by very different rules.”

Presumably the same goes for lawful protesters, when they represent something as ugly and divisive as police accountability for the murder of unarmed, unresisting citizens — when they refuse to stand down in the face of concrete threats and ultimatums, you’re allowed to go by very different rules.

The DOJ, because, as it points out, the current president would never use violence against peacefully protesting anti-racists, moves to dismiss the case against Barr and Trump on those grounds, and on the grounds that Barr and Trump were acting completely within the scope of their duties when they used violence against a crowd, after numerous ugly provocations and threats by the president and the Attorney General, culminating in a calculated show of unconstitutional force to violently and “illegally” deprive citizens of their rights.

Compare Trump and Barr’s response to the peaceful protest on June 1 to the federal response to the January 6 riot, during which a violent crowd of excited normal tourists fought police, breached, overran and vandalized the Capitol to prevent the final certification of Trump’s loss to Biden. Because, when you’re with president Trump, you’re allowed to go by very different rules.

Nothing to see here. If you have asthma, don’t go to a peaceful protest that might be broken up by unaccountable government force including pepper spray, smoke bombs, stun grenades, tear gas and the armed charge of horse-mounted anti-riot police — in defense of the president’s unlimited right to provoke and order violence. You have to use common sense!

Democracy loses in the Senate 35-54

Fair is fair, when dealing with uncompromising transactional extremists.

In fairness to the 35 courageous Republicans who showed up today to vote for the filibuster to block formation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 riot, they and many close colleagues might well be implicated in the planned insurrection, or just as bad, forced to commit perjury if called to testify, so you can hardly blame them for objecting.

Some who voted “nay” today may well have career-related reasons for paranoia and legitimate concern, particularly those, like Lyin’ Ted Cruz [1], Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, Lindsey, who made fiery speeches about the millions of Americans who believe the election had been stolen from their leader, how they are entitled to a special commission to thoroughly investigate disproven claims of voter fraud to protect the integrity of the election process before Biden could be sworn in, and then, after the riot, voted to block certification of Joe Biden’s victory. Then amplified ridiculous claims to keep the lie that fomented the riot alive in everyone’s social media feed, on cable news and all over the internet.

There are many intriguing questions we don’t yet have answers to about Trump’s MAGA riot at the Capitol, basic questions of fact.

For example, how many of the rioters currently on trial for violently breaching the Capitol on January 6th were given guided tours of the building by radical new members of Congress, like the Jew-loving firebrand from Georgia, on January 5th?

How many then headed over to the torchlit rally headlined by fiery Q-Anon enthusiast Mike “Lock Her Up” Flynn and self-proclaimed Republican Ratfucker Roger Stone that night?

How many members of Congress, and their staff, were out in the ruckus on the streets of DC, excitedly whooping it up the night before the riot, fraternizing with the extremist “militias” and those ready to fight the Steal?

Many simple questions will require perjury to answer in a way favorable to Mr. Trump.

Was Kevin McCarthy’s colleague lying when she affirmed, in an affidavit introduced at the second impeachment trial, that Trump had told an agitated McCarthy “Well, Kevin, I guess some people are more upset about this than you are” and that Kevin responded “who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”

Yes or no question, Kevin.

Was your colleague lying when she swore to the veracity of those two quotes?

As Robert Reich wrote yesterday, on the eve of the rigged vote to further obstruct justice:

The 35 GOP zealots who gave the thumbs down on debate may have shot themselves in the demanding Trump’s dick today, though. A Democratic party controlled House Select Committee will be far worse for them than the bipartisan one they negotiated for, and then, after Democrats agreed to all their terms, voted to prevent debate on.

Showing as much character, integrity and artistry in deal-making as their leader himself. They filibuster because their dear leader can’t get over his temper tantrum about the election he insists was stolen from him, in spite of his muscular efforts to rig it in his favor.

That’s the real devilish ugliness of the filibuster — it prevents DEBATE, public discussion of the merits of the issue under consideration. In the legislative house where open debate is required before lawmakers decide what is best for our great nation, or, as today, with the prevention of any debate, what is in the best interests of an insane giant baby.

Paging senators Manchin and saucy Kyrsten Fucking Cinema…

[1]

You really can’t make this shit up

This is from the DOJ press release of Michael Cohen’s guilty plea following the “Filing of Eight Count Criminal Information Alleging Concealment of More Than $4 Million in Unreported Income, $280,000 in Unlawful Campaign Contributions.” The details of how they orchestrated the campaign contributions crime are truly byzantine, involving the machinations of at least one unnamed David Pecker.

On June 16, 2015, Individual-1 began his presidential campaign.  While COHEN continued to work at the Company and did not have a formal title with the campaign, he had a campaign email address and, at various times, advised the campaign, including on matters of interest to the press, and made televised and media appearances on behalf of the campaign. 

In August 2015, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Corporation-1, a media company that  owns, among other things, a popular tabloid magazine  (“Chairman-1” and “Magazine-1,” respectively”), in coordination with COHEN and one or more members of the campaign, offered to help deal with negative stories about Individual-1’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.  Chairman-1 agreed to keep COHEN apprised of any such negative stories.

Consistent with the agreement described above, Corporation-1 advised COHEN of negative stories during the course of the campaign, and COHEN, with the assistance of Corporation-1, was able to arrange for the purchase of two stories so as to suppress them and prevent them from influencing the election.

First, in June 2016, a model and actress (“Woman-1”) began attempting to sell her story of her alleged extramarital affair with Individual-1 that had taken place in 2006 and 2007, knowing the story would be of considerable value because of the election.  Woman-1 retained an attorney (“Attorney-1”), who in turn contacted the editor-in-chief of Magazine-1 (“Editor-1”), and offered to sell Woman-1’s story to Magazine-1.  Chairman-1 and Editor-1 informed COHEN of the story. At COHEN’s urging and subject to COHEN’s promise that Corporation-1 would be reimbursed, Editor-1 ultimately began negotiating for the purchase of the story.

On August 5, 2016, Corporation-1 entered into an agreement with Woman-1 to acquire her “limited life rights” to the story of her relationship with “any then-married man,” in exchange for $150,000 and a commitment to feature her on two magazine covers and publish more than 100 magazine articles authored by her.  Despite the cover and article features to the agreement, its principal purpose, as understood by those involved, including COHEN, was to suppress Woman-1’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.       

Between late August 2016 and September 2016, COHEN agreed with Chairman-1 to assign the rights to the non-disclosure portion of Corporation-1’s agreement with Woman-1 to COHEN for $125,000.  COHEN incorporated a shell entity called “Resolution Consultants LLC” for use in the transaction.  Both Chairman-1 and COHEN ultimately signed the agreement, and a consultant for Corporation-1, using his own shell entity, provided COHEN with an invoice for the payment of $125,000.  However, in early October 2016, after the assignment agreement was signed but before COHEN had paid the $125,000, Chairman-1 contacted COHEN and told him, in substance, that the deal was off and that COHEN should tear up the assignment agreement.   

Second, on October 8, 2016, an agent for an adult film actress (“Woman-2”) informed Editor-1 that Woman-2 was willing to make public statements and confirm on the record her alleged past affair with Individual-1.  Chairman-1 and Editor-1 then contacted COHEN and put him in touch with Attorney-1, who was also representing Woman-2.  Over the course of the next few days, COHEN negotiated a $130,000 agreement with Attorney-1 to himself purchase Woman-2’s silence, and received a signed confidential settlement agreement and a separate side letter agreement from Attorney-1. 

COHEN did not immediately execute the agreement, nor did he pay Woman-2.  On the evening of October 25, 2016, with no deal with Woman-2 finalized, Attorney-1 told Editor-1 that Woman-2 was close to completing a deal with another outlet to make her story public.  Editor-1, in turn, texted COHEN that “[w]e have to coordinate something on the matter [Attorney-1 is] calling you about or it could look awfully bad for everyone.”  Chairman-1 and Editor-1 then called COHEN through an encrypted telephone application.  COHEN agreed to make the payment, and then called Attorney-1 to finalize the deal.

The next day, on October 26, 2016, COHEN emailed an incorporating service to obtain the corporate formation documents for another shell corporation, Essential Consultants LLC, which COHEN had incorporated a few days prior.  Later that afternoon, COHEN drew down $131,000 from the fraudulently obtained HELOC and requested that it be deposited into a bank account COHEN had just opened in the name of Essential Consultants.  The next morning, on October 27, 2016, COHEN went to Bank-3 and wired approximately $130,000 from Essential Consultants to Attorney-1.  On the bank form to complete the wire, COHEN falsely indicated that the “purpose of wire being sent” was “retainer.”  On November 1, 2016, COHEN received from Attorney-1 copies of the final, signed confidential settlement agreement and side letter agreement.

COHEN caused and made the payments described herein in order to influence the 2016 presidential election.  In so doing, he coordinated with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.  As a result of the payments solicited and made by COHEN, neither Woman-1 nor Woman-2 spoke to the press prior to the election.

In January 2017, COHEN in seeking reimbursement for election-related expenses, presented executives of the Company with a copy of a bank statement from the Essential Consultants bank account, which reflected the $130,000 payment COHEN had made to the bank account of Attorney-1 in order to keep Woman-2 silent in advance of the election, plus a $35 wire fee, adding, in handwriting, an additional “$50,000.”  The $50,000 represented a claimed payment for “tech services,” which in fact related to work COHEN had solicited from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign.  COHEN added these amounts to a sum of $180,035.  After receiving this document, executives of the Company “grossed up” for tax purposes COHEN’s requested reimbursement of $180,000 to $360,000, and then added a bonus of $60,000 so that COHEN would be paid $420,000 in total.  Executives of the Company also determined that the $420,000 would be paid to COHEN in monthly amounts of $35,000 over the course of 12 months, and that COHEN should send invoices for these payments.        

On February 14, 2017, COHEN sent an executive of the Company (“Executive-1”) the first of his monthly invoices, requesting “[p]ursuant to [a] retainer agreement, . . . payment for services rendered for the months of January and February, 2017.”  The invoice listed $35,000 for each of those two months.  Executive-1 forwarded the invoice to another executive of the Company (“Executive-2”) the same day by email, and it was approved.  Executive-1 forwarded that email to another employee at the Company, stating: “Please pay from the Trust. Post to legal expenses. Put ‘retainer for the months of January and February 2017’ in the description.”

Throughout 2017, COHEN sent to one or more representatives of the Company monthly invoices, which stated, “Pursuant to the retainer agreement, kindly remit payment for services rendered for” the relevant month in 2017, and sought $35,000 per month.  The Company accounted for these payments as legal expenses.  In truth and in fact, there was no such retainer agreement, and the monthly invoices COHEN submitted were not in connection with any legal services he had provided in 2017.

During 2017, pursuant to the invoices described above, COHEN received monthly $35,000 reimbursement checks, totaling $420,000.

  

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You can’t touch me for any of this, FEC deadlocked! LOSERS!