Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Speaking The Unspeakable

Rod Rosenstein has submitted to President Trump his letter of resignation, concluding "America first," mimicking a successful campaign slogan. More significantly, he commented "I am grateful... for the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations," an odd remark for someone holding a position in which he should have no personal conversations at all with the President of the United States of America.

The letter itself may be a plea for a nomination to a federal judgeship.  Taking a different approach,
 CNN anchorperson Don Lemon asked colleague Chris Cuomo Monday night “I’ve been wanting to ask you this. There have been reports about him, right. Do you think he’s a double agent type?”

We don't know, and may never know, whether Rosenstein simply was able to see beyond the horizon by recognizing that he had in Robert Mueller a man with impeccable credentials who could be rolled. We may learn what Rosenstein was up to if House Democrats succeed in having the now ex-Special Counsel testify, under oath, in public, and in a manner to elicit the most information. 

That is the only way in which it will be even possible to determine what Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed by then-Acting Attorney General Rosenstein, was thinking as he conducted an investigation, prepared a report, and looked on as the report was delivered to Congress. For now,  unfortunately, we have to lean on those few individuals who will question conventional wisdom, recognize a sort of Republican version of bait-and-switch, and have the courage to be politically incorrect.

The latter brings us, as it often does, to Bill Maher, who Friday evening noted "if Dostoyevsky had written the  report, it would be called 'Crime and No Punishment.'" He continued

Mueller's report is full of buts:  Don Jr. met with the Russians, but; Manafort gave internal polling data to a Russian, but; Trump obstructed justice every day, but....

Throughout, pundits, lawyers, and Democratic politicians have lionized Mueller as the stern and objective tough-guy ex-Marine who has selflessly and tirelessly served the public interest in both Republican and Democratic administrations. The image, which somehow has largely persisted even following release of the report., has not escaped the attention of Maher, who stated

Just because you have a stone face, doesn't mean you belong on Mt. Rushmore....

And you, tough guy, couldn't get the the President's taxes. You couldn't "follow the money?" You couldn't interview Trump, we're told, because he couldn't testify under oath without perjuring himself?" And that's our problem? It's one feckless punt after another.

Although a memorandum from the Office of Special Counsel investigating Nixon and one from the Office of Independent Counsel investigating Clinton argued that an incumbent president could be indicted, lawyers (with journalists and others following their lead) have been arguing otherwise. Unsurprisingly, in 1973, the Office of Legal Counsel under President Nixon's Justice Department, as well as the same office under the Clinton Justice Department in 2000, contended that a sitting president could not be indicted.

Despite the conflicting legal history, it became accepted wisdom that a President while in office is immune to indictment. Though (or maybe because) he isn't a lawyer, Maher understands

For a guy who didn't want to break precedent by indicting a president, Mueller sure created a lot of new precedents. That's what law is- new precedents. It's always evolving. You can't indict  a sitting president? It's not in the Constitution. It's not even a law. It's a guideline, like drinking white wine with fish or f _ _ _ _ _ _ your cousin. It's a f_ _ _ _ _ _ memo.

In a passive-aggressive manner, the Special Counsel seemed to be urging impeachment proceedings.  "While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime," Mueller noted, "it also does not exonerate him." He acknowledged "if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state."  But Maher recognizes

The Attorney General is corrupt. The Congress is dysfunctional. What good is leaving a road map for impeachment if you know a tribal before party Republican Senate will never remove the President?.Bob, your trail of bread crumbs isn't good enough. We're not that smart anymore. America is an aging shortstop. You have to hit it right at us.

While the subject (Donald Trump) of the investigation was not interviewed in-person (and otherwise, only about collusion) and the President's taxes not requested (as far as is known)

To me, this report is summed up in the words "Donald Trump Jr. declined to be voluntarily interviewed." So make him. Was he too busy? You couldn't work around his tweeting schedule?

We don't know why Robert Mueller conducted a shoddy investigation, nor whether the apparent careerist Rod Rosenstein foresaw how it would play out or instead has some hidden interest in the rule of law or the quaint notion of equal standing under that law. However, it is clear that sworn testimony by Robert Mueller, though not sufficient, is necessary to determine what happened and why.

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Pound Him

While recognizing that not all Democrats are created equal and sentiments inevitably vary, The New York Times finds that many Democratic voters are cool to impeaching Donald Trump and to the fight that it would entail.

At a meeting four House Democrats held with constituents in south Philadelphia,45-year old Joshua Thaler remarked

I believe that Congress should not pursue impeachment, and I say this as someone who deeply loathes the president and absolutely believes he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. It keeps the conversation on Trump rather than on our agenda.

On the occasion of a town hall event held by Democratic congresswoman Debbie Murcasel-Powell at a restaurant in Miami

“Someone has got to take a stand,” Mr. Bell said. But in an interview afterward, he added that impeachment would be a mistake.

Mr. Trump’s attempts to thwart Mr. Mueller’s investigators and Congress were “not right,” Mr. Bell said, but he said of the president, “He likes a fight, so if you try to fight him, you’re playing in his field.”

When Democratic representative Mike Levin appeared before constituents in Carlsbad, California

the only questioner who mentioned impeachment outright told Mr. Levin she was worried that a drive to oust the president would backfire and allow Mr. Trump to play the victim in the 2020 presidential election.

“He will rally his base, and we won’t have an opportunity for our candidates to talk about the issues because all the air will be sucked out and focused on him once again,” she said.

We should expect members of Congress to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. (April 29 is National Bad Cliche Day. Let your hair down, dress to kill, and use one today.) It is, though, understandable that rank-and-file Democrats would be reluctant to advocate impeachment of President Trump.  

For a year or so now, House Democrats have been touting the greatness of Robert Mueller and the sins of Donald J. Trump. Now, prompted by the opposition of their leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they are conspicuously reluctant to support impeachment. It would be naive to expect their constituents to support what House Democrats are fearful of undertaking.

Naive, but also wise.  Responding to the Times article, Steve M. recognizes "We need to be sensible -- but I think we need to be less afraid of our shadows."

The Washington Post video below is summarized "The Fix's Callum Borchers explains the years-long feud between President Trump and the hosts of MSNBC's 'Morning Joe,'" which resulted from Morning Joe helping get Trump elected, after which the latter turned against the hosts.

Check out the date: June 29, 2017. Mika Brzezinski and Scarborough kept it up for 18 months, and on February 21, 2019 Scarborough remarked in part

Donald Trump has been warned repeatedly that talking about enemies of the people is a Stalinist phrase, that it will encourage some of his more unhinged followers.

We’ve all known that Donald Trump and his words and his attacks about enemies of the people would lead to this type of behavior. This is now the second time that we know about, from the pipe bombs to yesterday, but yesterday was obviously far more specific, far more dangerous. And know that is exactly what Donald Trump is encouraging.

We heard nary a peep from Trump. Scarborough has continued the past two months, this morning noting

We are so far beyond dog whistles. The blood, the blood that is spilled is on your hands ... from white nationalists, from people that listen to that sort of rhetoric. You are just inciting violence.

The extremely erratic and unpredictable Trump may (probably not) respond to the MSNBC host.  But for a couple of years now, Scarborough and Brzezinski have berated, blasted, and (figuratively, thankfully) beheaded Donald Trump. And Trump's responses have been limited and muted compared to his vile comments about individuals who have not continually criticized, castigated, and condemned the President.

It's fashionable to point out that Donald Trump is a "bully." Only infrequently, though, does someone prescribe the prescription for the diagnosis. a bully does not back down in the face of timidity but only when confronted. Frequently.

Scarborough/Brzezinski understand. If most Democratic voters do not, it's up to the party's political class not to buck up back down when faced with a President who exploits anything he perceives as weakness.

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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Gutless, As Usual

The issue of abortion has brought out the sniveling, sniffing coward in the White House, who at an electionrally in Green Bay, Wisconsin claimed

The baby is born, the mother meets w/the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. Then the doctor and mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.

A few months ago, in his last State of the Union address, the sniveling, sniffing coward in the White House had declared

Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful, babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth.

You'll be shocked to learn that Trump made up the part about the New York legislation pertaining to ripping a baby from a mother's womb:

The legislation in New York would not have “allowed a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.” It states a health care practitioner “may perform an abortion when, according to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case: the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.”

You will be equally shocked to learn that Trump was wrong upon claiming the Virginia legislation authorizes capital punishment:

The now-tabled bill in Virginia would have reduced the number of doctors required to agree that “the continuation of the pregnancy is likely to result in the death of the woman” or “impair the mental or physical health of the woman” from three to one. It would have also removed the phrase “substantially and irremediably” from the section describing the required conditions for a woman to have an abortion.  In other words, continuing pregnancy would no longer have to “substantially and irremediably impair” a woman’s physical or mental health, it would simply need to “impair” it. Lastly, the bill would have removed the 24 hour waiting period. The bill also specifies that measures of life support “shall be available and utilized” if there is evidence of viability.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) was widely criticized for his comments on the bill after he told a radio show, the procedures are “done in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s not viable. So in this particular example, if a mother’s in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” Critics suggested the governor was endorsing infanticide. His office later said the governor was referring to medical treatment, not ending the life of a baby.

Trump not only wants to deny a woman reproductive freedom. He  wants to deny women's agency.  The language of  "ripping a baby from the mother's womb" portrays a woman so vacuous and emotionally fragile as to allow a baby to be snatched from her body without even a peep of protest.

That may be his particular perception of women. That may be the perception of women common in the community of forced-birth advocates, except in the Texas legislature

Generally, though, their motivation is less a low opinion of women- though that is a factor- than it is their cowardice.  Hiding behind the language of executing a baby or ripping it from a womb constitutes a refusal to accept the consequences of your own ideology or political values. 

There are many women who vote, and they would not take kindly to an abortion regime in which they are held partially responsible for the death of what forced-birth advocates insist are babies. And so we get the language of right-wing victimhood which creates an alternate universe in which the few doctors who perform an abortion are felons and the women who request them are victims.

It is only fitting that Donald J. Trump would be behind the violent language of executing a baby or ripping it from a womb and the cowardice that accompanies the graphic, deceitful rhetoric.

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Saturday, April 27, 2019

A Very Good Day

One of the best days for Donald Trump in campaign 2016 was Halloween, when The New York Times misled the country with the headline "Investigating Donald Trump, FBI Sees No Clear Link to Russia."  Besides being highly misleading, it now appears- almost 30 months later- to have been flat-out inaccurate.

And one of (perhaps the) the best days of the Trump Administration transpired when The New York Times on September 21, 2008 reported

The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.

Rosenstein, as well as a Justice Department official present in the room denied that the remark was meant to be taken seriously, but almost no one bought that story and the damage was done. President Trump recognizes leverage when he sees it.

On October 17, 2018 the President met with Rosenstein on Air Force One, after which Trump- who has without evidence complained that President Obama wiretapped him-  declared he had "a good relationship" with the DAG, with whom he "had a very good talk." 

And a very good talk it probably was for Mr. Trump. Prescient Elie Honig and Mimi Rocah, both former US Attorneys at the SDNY, wrote a couple of weeks later

But the mere fact that Trump has summoned Rosenstein for the meeting creates an appearance—at a minimum—that Trump continues to try to exert influence over Mueller. That Rosenstein is attending the meeting similarly leaves open questions of what assurances he will have to give the president to remain in place.

Now we learn that Rosenstein was "teary eyed" in the meeting and told the President "I give the investigation credibility. I can land the plane." Pleading for his job, he then (and thereafter), told Trump that he believes the latter is being treated "unfairly,'" as described by The Washington Post.

The Post has reported that in Rosenstein's speech Thursday

“Some of the nonsense that passes for breaking news today would not be worth the paper it was printed on, if anybody bothered to print it,” he said.

He also criticized the Obama administration for not publicizing the “full story” about Russian hacking and social media influence operations.

Evidently concerned he wasn't being sufficiently transparent about his partisan bias, Rosenstein added “The rule of law is our most important principle. As President Trump pointed out, ‘we govern ourselves in accordance with the rule of law rather [than] . . . the whims of an elite few or the dictates of collective will’.”

A slightly more generous Elizabeth de la Vega, in two tweets, poses five questions (though #1 and #4 are similar):

"The big picture on Rod," Benjamin Wittes argues, "is extremely complicated."  Yet just barely, and without answers to questions such as those posed by de la Vega, it will become quite clear that Rod Rosenstein became severely compromised when reports of his threat to record the President emerged.  That report, as well as the one of September 21, 2008, could scarcely have been better for Donald J. Trump.

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Member Of The Club

Huffington Post reports

Anita Hill, the law professor whose landmark testimony against now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is credited with transforming Americans’ understanding of sexual harassment, said Thursday that she is unsatisfied with Joe Biden’s apology to her.

The interview she gave to The New York Times was published the same day Biden announced his candidacy for the 2020 presidential nomination. In it, Hill says a phone call Biden made to her earlier this month did not address the consequences of how he handled her Senate Judiciary Committee testimony in 1991.

“I cannot be satisfied by simply saying I’m sorry for what happened to you,” she said. “I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose.”

Biden was serving as the committee chairman when Hill came forward with allegations that then-Supreme Court nominee Thomas had sexually harassed her at two different jobs. Biden has long faced criticism for mishandling how Hill’s testimony was presented to the senators before they ultimately voted to confirm Thomas, who denied all of her allegations.

“The focus on apology to me is one thing,” she continued. “But he needs to give an apology to the other women and to the American public because we know now how deeply disappointed Americans around the country were about what they saw. And not just women. There are women and men now who have just really lost confidence in our government to respond to the problem of gender violence.”

Specifically, Biden is blamed for not shielding Hill from Republican attacks during the hearing and for the way he structured the hearing. Notably, he allowed Thomas to testify before and after Hill, and he did not call upon three female witnesses who could have bolstered Hill’s testimony with accounts of their own experiences with Thomas.

The issue has cast a cloud over the former vice president’s political future for years and has only grown more damning as women have come forward in recent weeks to say he’d inappropriately touched them in the past.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), the first African American member of Congress from the state, endorsed Biden on Thursday. She said she took him at his word that he wished he could have done things differently back in 1991 and said she wanted voters to give him a chance to earn their vote.

“What I have seen over the course of the years, and as a result of that hearing, [is that he] has been introspective about it, has tried to actually dedicate his life to ensuring that issues like domestic violence, equal pay, issues even regarding the representation on the Judiciary Committee, are at the forefront,” she told HuffPost on Thursday.

However, Joe Biden's problem is not his stance on domestic violence, equal pay, or  quota issues, but rather that whenever in doubt- or not in doubt- he will defer to colleagues. Professor Hill recently stated that

she also faults Mr. Biden for letting the hearings get out of control — “The process went completely off track” — and for failing to restrain Republicans like former Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who brandished a copy of “The Exorcist” during the hearings, and former Senator John C. Danforth of Missouri, who while advising Judge Thomas enlisted the help of a forensic psychiatrist who suggested Ms. Hill suffered from “erotomania.”

In November, 2017 The Washington Post interviewed five female members, past or present, of Congress who have been strong supporters of Hill and critics of the manner in which the Delaware senator handled the hearings.  One of them noted

We went to see Biden, because we were so frustrated by it. And he literally kind of pointed his finger and said, you don’t understand how important one’s word was in the Senate, that he had given his word to John Danforth in the men’s gym that this would be a very quick hearing, and he had to get it out before Columbus Day.

This was not a matter of keeping one's word. As Democrat Jamie Raskin, US Representative from Maryland, noted this week "Biden’s chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee during the Thomas nomination reflected his sense of institutionalism a lot more than any sense of feminism."

Whatever change Ms. Rochester has seen in him, Biden has not changed fundamentally.  The democratic socialist magazine Jacobin explains

Nothing epitomizes Biden’s politics better than the speech he gave in 2011 at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center, named after the Republican Senate Minority Leader who had at that point just finished up historically routing Biden and the administration he served. McConnell, who had candidly admitted his top goal was making sure Obama was “a one-term president” unless he did the GOP’s bidding, had turned a sixty-vote Democratic supermajority into an unavoidable necessity, stifling Obama’s legislative agenda and even slowing economic recovery to produce the Democrats’ “shellacking” in 2010. He then used this as leverage to get one of the most lopsided legislative “deals” in memory, trading the extension of unemployment insurance for the continuation of tax cuts for the rich, a markedly lower estate tax, and other giveaways that infuriated Democrats.

Joe Biden's apparent change of heart on women's issues does not reflect a new sensibility, but rather his enduring instinct to go along to get along. He has been a member of the boys club for a long time, and it is no different now that it is a boys and girls network. The gender composition is far more diverse, but he will still defer, suck up to power, and for the sake of collegiality and a sense of belonging consistently compromise any principles he may appear to have.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

(Nearly) Empty Promise

Cenk Uygur (video, below) is pleased with the response of Pete Buttigieg at his CNN town hall meeting to a question about campaign finance. The brilliant, very smooth, and otherwise superficial mayor stated

Corporations do not equal people and that money does not equal speech. Dome have said that within the framework of the constitution, you  can't draw those boundaries and that led to a decision that I think has been disastrous for our politics, which is the Citizens United decision. I don't believe that the Constitution says that but if it does, then that's going to be the direction that our federal judiciary takes going forward, then I think it's necessary to formulate a constitutional amendment to clear this up once and for all. I'm under no illusion that it's possible overnight to get that reform but I think most Americans actually agree that we need to get money out of politics.

Uygur wonders why the other Democrats running for President haven't brought up the need to topple the Citizens United decision, because of both the pernicious influence of money in politics and the practical difficulty of success.

There is, however, a third reason. Several of them have pledged not to accept donations from lobbyists, a promise first made (and largely kept) by Barack Obama in his 2008 campaign, then repeated in 2012 (somewhat kept). We're reminded

In his two runs for the White House, President Obama pledged that he would not accept money from registered lobbyists. But his campaign received donations from people who, while not registered, walk and talk an awful lot like lobbyists, including advisors who manage lobbyists. Consider that

Sunlight’s investigation into the political 1 percent of the 1 percent — the donor class whose members individually contributed at least $12,950 to political campaigns in the 2012 election — showed that many, many big donors in the influence business have contributed to the president.

At least four dozen of them — lobbyists and employees of lobbying or public relations firms — contributed to the president in 2011 or 2012. One officially registered lobbyist even donated and, unlike the other registered lobbyists who did so, his contribution was not refunded.

President Obama pledged on the campaign trail in 2008, “We will not take a dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs. We’re going to change how Washington works.”

But the policy ended up meaning that he would not accept money from officially registered lobbyists, a porous legal standard that allows many to influence government officials without ever registering to do so. Unless one spends at least 20 percent of his time lobbying on behalf of a client in a three-month period and makes more than one contact with an executive or legislative branch official, there is no need to register.

A recent Center for Responsive Politics report showed that of the registered lobbyists that deregistered in 2012, 46 percent remained with the same organization, suggesting that it’s easy for a lobbyist to adjust her workload to avoid registering.

That does not render irrelevant or moot a vow to eschew funds from lobbyists. However, its significance is limited and as a means of getting money out of politics (evidently Uygur's highest priority), it is being rendered meaningless. Kevin Robillard notes for Huffington post

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign won’t accept donations from federal lobbyists – but a fundraiser scheduled for the first day of his campaign also shows the limitations of such a pledge.

Biden is set to attend a fundraiser Thursday night at the Philadelphia home of Comcast executive David Cohen, according to an invite first published by Politico and later obtained by HuffPost. While Cohen is not a registered lobbyist, he does oversee the cable giant’s massive D.C. lobbying operation, which spent more than $4 million and involved more than three dozen lobbying firms in the first quarter of 2019 alone.

It sometimes may seem that Amazon (and a few other mega-corporations) rules the world. But not as long as there is a Comcast. Robillard adds

Cohen, a former top aide to then-Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, is a major political player in Pennsylvania and Washington, and Comcast’s lobbying operation is considered among the nation’s most powerful. But it’s fairly easy for Cohen and others to avoid registering as lobbyists, as long as they don’t spend more than 20 percent of their time directly interacting with lawmakers and staff.

Kirsten Gillibrand also is taking advantage of this loophole and Buttigieg, as well as "lesser-known candidates" Hickenlooper and Delaney are accepting money from lobbyists, However, Biden's move demonstrates that we have sort of come full circle:

For instance, Daniel Cruise, the head of government affairs for Juul, donated $2,800 to the presidential bids of both Harris and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Cruise is not a registered lobbyist. It’s also not the first time Cohen has taken advantage of such a loophole – he was able to donate to President Barack Obama and Biden’s 2012 reelection bid, which also eschewed lobbyist donations.

Of course he did.  This was only one of the cons the "only candidate who doesn't takea dime from oil company PACs or lobbyists" pulled off on the Democratic electorate, which still idolizes him.  It continues in both spirit and substance in the vow of those Democratic presidential aspirants not to accept money from lobbyists as they avoid, as Uygur indicates, taking the hard position on money in politics.

That Pete Buttigieg (Buttigieg!) is the first Democrat to go further rhetorically than Barack Obama demonstrates that for all its diversity in gender, race, and gender preference, this field of candidates thus far has been unwilling to stand apart in what really matters.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Going Down The Same Road

We've seen this play before. The Washington Post reports

As the words left his mouth, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) could see the shape of the attack ads that could be used against him.

A questioner at a CNN town hall Monday night asked the presidential candidate whether he believes that incarcerated felons — the Boston Marathon bomber, for instance, or sex offenders — should be allowed to vote while they are serving their sentences.

Sanders’s answer: an unapologetic “yes.”

“I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy — yes, even for terrible people — because once you start chipping away … you’re running down a slippery slope,” Sanders said. “I do believe that even if they are in jail paying their price to society, that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy.”

In a presidential campaign in which the Democratic candidates broadly embrace systemic changes to criminal justice — and as many Republicans also support such policies — Sanders’s comments nonetheless stand out.

Support has been growing nationally for re-enfranchising felons after they are released, and several states have taken steps in that direction. But the notion of voting rights for those still in prison has already opened up Sanders and other Democratic candidates to attacks from Republicans painting them as soft on criminals.

GOP operatives did not wait long to launch such attacks.

“Bernie Sanders, the current front-runner for the Democratic nomination, just made it clear he wants convicted terrorists, sex offenders, and murderers to vote from prison,” the Republican National Committee said in an email to supporters shortly after Sanders’s statement that included a clip of the remarks.

“The Boston Marathon Bomber killed three people and injured 280 more,” the email said. “Bernie’s concern? That he gets his absentee ballot.”

There is no actual voting constituency committed to extending the franchise to individuals in prison.  Presumably, those most supportive of extending this right.... obviously are incarcerated, thus unable to vote and unable to apply serious political pressure. While in the general population there is some, and in the black community and in the elite punditry overwhelming, support for criminal justice reform, it's very likely that most Americans remain opposed to allowing incarcerated persons the right to vote.

It's going to happen, though. It won't be next month, next year, or in the presidential term of Donald Trump, Mike Pence, or a Democrat, but it will come about.

Fifteen years ago, Gallup found "roughly 6 in 10 Americans remain opposed to same-sex marriage, with only about a third supporting the concept." However, approval (now approximately 62%) of  same-sex marriage grew fairly rapidly in the public, the President of the USA in 2012 finally admitted he supported it,  and the Supreme Court ruled (narrowly) in 2015 that states could not prohibit gay marriage.

Currently, preventing incarcerated felons from voting is the politically safe option. It comes at no cost to taxpayers, prompting many Americans to favor it as a means to make criminals suffer without causing themselves any guilt or discomfort.

It is an exercise in self-deception. Most inmates are alienated from orthodox, law-abiding society and are little interested in voting. Those who do want to cast a ballot are more likely than their peers to want to be a productive citizen and adjust to societal norms. Discouraging that is counter-productive to any rehabilitative goal.

The concept of encouraging individuals- prisoners, immigrants, maybe others- to become an American is alien to a lot of people, and generally to the Republican Party. It contributes to the substantial support- among many "moderate" Republicans and centrists- for guest-worker programs, wherein the immigrant is permitted to work at a low-wage job but is denied the rights of Americans.

Therefore, and because fear is what most Republican campaigns are mostly about, if Bernie Sanders is nominated for President a major GOP tactic will be to link him to child sex predators, the Boston Marathon bomber, and possibly serial killers. Sanders evidently understands this. (There will be an effort to link any other nominee to Sanders' support of extending voting rights to prisoners, with less effect.) 

Neither Republican nor Democratic politicians will recognize the parallel to same-sex marriage. Even Pete Buttigieg, who touts his marriage to a man, lacks the courage to acknowledge this, which as an extraordinarily bright individual he almost surely recognizes. (Buttigieg will take a bold stand on an issue.... when pigs fly.)  Politicians know what the right policy is, but figure they have enough time to "evolve" on the vote as they did on marriage.

But whatever the impact on the political fortunes of the junior senator from Vermont, it is coming, as well it should.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Mostly Good

If as songwriter Steve Steinman claimed, two out of three ain't bad, Elizabeth Warren's response to a question at her CNN town hall meeting Monday evening wasn't bad.

Actually, it was quite good because she deftly avoided answering a fairly bad question while making the points she wanted to.  She was asked by St. Anselm College senior Jackson Dwyer

You have often been a vocal critic of police and the criminal justice system, both at the state and federal levels. As a Massachusetts voter and aspiring police officer who has lived through countless tragedies… how can you assure me that you will support legislation that keeps law enforcement safe?

Individual police departments throughout the USA prioritize the safety of their officers by equipping them with body armor and other equipment. There is little the federal government itself can do to enhance the safety of officers.

As the video posted by Think Progress indicates, Warren responded

You know, I talk with a lot of people in different parts of the criminal justice system, people who are law enforcement, people who are in the judicial system, people who are incarcerated … and what all of them tell me is we’ve got a problem. Our criminal justice system is broken, and right at the heart of that problem is race, and we have to address this head on.....

Study after study after study shows us that African Americans compared with whites are more likely to be — for exactly the same crimes — they’re more likely to be arrested, they’re more likely to be arraigned, they are more likely to be taken to trial. They are more likely to be wrongfully convicted and they are more likely to receive harsher sentences. That is a criminal justice system that is not only locking up too many people, it is a criminal justice system that has a problem of race right at the heart of it, and we need to call it out for what it is.

Racial disparity is probably at work if blacks are more likely than whites to be arrested for the same crime or if they are more often wrongfully convicted. They may be receiving harsher sentences because of racial bias. Sentencing, however, takes into account not only the offense but only the offender, such as his criminal record and likelihood of remaining out of trouble if not incarcerated.

If blacks are more likely to be arraigned, that, too, suggests racial disparity- but in the opposite direction. If someone arrested for an indictable offense is not arraigned, he may have been arrested unjustifiably or at least unnecessarily.

But this doesn't suggest a weakness in a candidate's response because the audience isn't eager to be bored by statistics, and too much detail or even explanation would brand a candidate- as Warren already has been- by the mainstream media as obsessively concerned with policy.

It's unfortunate, however, that neither Warren nor any other individual interested in reform ever dares to mention that injustice- especially racial disparity- in the criminal justice system varies markedly from one state to another. (That might hurt feelings.) Think Progress added

Warren closed the loop on the student’s question by responding that the best way to make police safer is, in fact, to make the criminal justice system more colorblind.

“No one is safer in a world where we have a broken criminal justice system… We need to make sure that everybody is entitled and gets good legal representation. Throughout the system we want to make sure the right people are incarcerated and not the wrong people because they couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer,” she said.

“Justice is not just for those who are rich, justice is for everyone and the only way we’re able to get that in America is if we’re able to put the resources into it. Third part of this is we should get rid of for-profit private prisons. It is an outrage in America.”

Private prisons often are owned by a company which has contributed to a judge's election or re-election, thus encouraging a judge to imprison a defendant.   Nothing would do more to end mass incarceration than eliminating private prisons.

If there is anything at the core of criminal justice malfunction, it is economics, of both the defendant and the system.  Once arrested for a serious offense, any person and any sandwich can be indicted, at which point a poor individual must rely on a (usually) overworked public defender, possibly hand-picked by the Court. A middle-class individual may be chancing bankruptcy to pay for a private attorney. The system isn't rigged, but it's close.

So Warren got two out of three right, failing on the third only as all others fail, refusing to acknowledge that not all states are born equal. That not only puts her far ahead of President Trump, but ahead of most of her Democratic rivals at present.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Hear No Evil, See No Evil

Trying to apply the lessons of an old scandal to a new one, Carl Bernstein on CNN recently stated

The system worked in Watergate. But it worked ultimately because there was a ‘smoking gun tape’. It’s very questionable whether the system would have worked without that gun.

There is by Robert Mueller's standards no smoking gun in Russiagate, no evidence of a certified, signed contract signed by "Donald J. Trump, President, USA" and "Vladimir V. Putin, President, Russia Federation." 

One never finds what one is determined to avoid finding. The Special Counsel wrote (in Volume II, page 13)

We also sought a voluntary interview with the President. After more than a year of discussion, the President declined to be interviewed.

(REDACTED. grand jury).

During the course of our discussion, the President did agree to answer written questions on certain Russia related topics, and he provided us with answers. He did not similarly agree to provide written answers to questions on obstruction topics or questions on events during the transition. Ultimately, while we believed that we had the authority and legal justification to issue a grand jury subpoena to obtain the President's testimony, we chose not to do so. We made that decision in view of the substantial delay that such an investigative step would likely produce at a later stage in our investigation.

So Mueller argues that issuing a grand jury subpoena to obtain the President's testimony would probably produce a "substantial delay." Yet, he "spent more than a year" pursuing the voluntary interview he had little reason to believe he'd get, after which he became concerned about a delay in the investigation.

If the Special Counsel's office truly were interested in having the President testify in person, it cold have promptly initiated the process by obtaining a grand jury subpoena.  Lawfare's Elie Mystal argues

The thought that Trump would fight too hard against a subpoena, or it would take too long for the legal process to play out, is not a sufficient reason to not attempt to secure testimony under oath. Again, who ELSE is supposed to secure Trump’s testimony? Congress? Then it becomes a partisan battle and not a legal one.

I can’t be sure, but I bet you 10 bucks that the redacted part of that passage is the grand jury asking for Trump to be brought before them to testify. I bet you that the grand jury asked Mueller to bring Trump before them, and Mueller declined to listen to them and issue the subpoena. Why? Why would he do that? I can only guess, but it sure looks like Mueller determined it would make him and his office look bad. If he had made the decision based solely on the “right thing to do,” the right thing to do would have been to gather as much testimony as possible from the person suspected of obstructing justice.

Nor can I be sure, but I'll bet you much more than 10 bucks that Trump's legal team refused to respond to questions about obstruction because "I don't recall" is not credible when the actions took place relatively recently and in full view, sometimes on video. By contrast, convenient forgetfulness about collusion/conspiracy is fairly credible because it occurred further in the past and is by intent somewhat obscured.

Mueller continued

We also assessed that based on the specific body of evidence we already had obtained of the President's actions and his public and private statements describing or explaining those actions, we had sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and make certain assessments without the President's testimony.

Well, now, that's a little odd, given that the President's

answers were unsatisfying to Mueller, according to the public version of the special counsel report released Thursday. The report took the step of introducing Trump's answers by saying after the investigators received them, they informed Trump's lawyers of their "insufficiency," noting in particular that Trump "stated on more than 30 occasions that he 'does not recall' or 'remember' or have an 'independent recollection' of information called for by the questions."

Subpoenaing the President would have been useful. It is conceivable that the President's legal team, concerned about the fallout of refusing to testify, would have complied. More likely, the lawyers would have refused a subpoena and forced a court challenge, in which case Trump's refusal to cooperate would have made obstruction of justice even clearer. Instead, Trump surrogates can argue, albeit against almost all evidence, that he complied with the investigation.

Robert Mueller did not pursue a subpoena for the same reason that he did not interview Jared Kushner or Donald Trump Jr., or Donald Trump in a meaningful way. Thankfully, he notified us when he wrote "We determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes." Mueller did not want to find out that the President committed a crime, and set out to conduct an investigation to avoid the obvious conclusion.

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Not What Losing Looks Like

Many of us hope Robert DeNiro's dream becomes reality, that he "can handcuff him and take him away in an orange jumpsuit."

Of course, we all know of whom DeNiro was speaking because we learned Thursday of the crime(s) committed by Donald J. Trump. (The chat with Stephen Colbert had been taped Tuesday.) That's all the more reason the famed actor is wrong when he asserts "this guy has proven himself to be a total loser."

As noted by Will Rahn of CBS News Digital, there are ten instances which the Special Counsel identified President Trump possibly committing obstruction of justice. They are, in Mueller's words:

- the campaign's response to reports about Russian support for Trump;
- conduct involving FBI Director Comey and Michael Flynn;
- the President's reaction to the continuing Russia investigation;
- the President's termination of Comey:
- the appointment of Special Counsel and efforts to remove him;
- efforts to protect public disclosure of evidence;
- further efforts to have the Attorney General take control of the investigation;
- efforts to have McGahn deny that the President had ordered him to have the Special Counsel removed;
- conduct toward Flynn,Manafort (Redacted);
- conduct involving Michael Cohen

One piece of evidence is fairly insignificant. Two can begin to grab the attention of a prosecutor, and three is highly suspicious. Ten, and no prosecutor will give the suspect a free pass.

Nobody- and that might even include de facto Trump attorney William Barr- would deny that obstruction of justice would be considered a "high crime" under terms of the Constitution's impeachment clause. Mimi Rocah tweets

As a federal prosecutor I was taught to pursue obstruction of justice cases with zeal because if obstruction goes unchecked our whole justice system is at risk. If we let the POTUS get away with obstruction, what message do we send to criminals, prosecutors & juries?

Not a good one, certainly. And even Robert Mueller, though afraid of offending his boss, the Attorney General, implied that the President of the USA probably did obstruct justice. In a passive-aggressive assertion that the President committed obstruction of justice, the Special Counsel implied that some other measure (i.e., impeachment) should be considered. Mueller concluded

... If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.

And yet, the Democratic controlled House of Representatives is slow walking the constitutional remedy, Elizabeth Warren is (at this moment) alone among Democratic candidates explicitly recommending impeachment hearings, and Democrats are being challenged not to justify their reticence but instead their belief that maybe, just maybe, the President should not be immune from consequences of his actions.

Though no one can know for sure how this ends, that doesn't sound like a "loser." That sounds a lot more like "winner," and a big one at that.

HAPPY PASSOVER                                                                             HAPPY EASTER

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Tinkers To Evers To Chance, Thomas To Kavanaugh To Barr

In her excellent analysis for Slate, Lili Loofbourow recognizes

In Barr’s summary of events, Trump wasn’t just innocent but wronged—a persecuted party whose injudicious actions could be chalked up to distress at being falsely accused. Sound familiar? It’s not a bad public relations strategy: It worked for Brett Kavanaugh. His extraordinary tantrum during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was rationalized by defenders as the understandable excess of a tormented man. No lawyer could have come up with a better defense for the president, anyway. As Fox News’ Chris Wallace characterized Barr’s press conference, the attorney general was essentially “acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president … talking about his motives, his emotions.” And just like Kavanaugh, Barr took his stage knowing he was performing for an audience of one.

And so, the nation whose elections were targeted and attacked by a foreign adversary (whose leader Trump constantly praises) was instructed, by its own attorney general, to forget its troubles and sympathize with the man who openly asked Russia to hack his opponent’s emails. Barr, no fool, understands that he has a challenging client. “In assessing the president’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context,” he intoned. That context turned out to be that Trump was upset. “Federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates,” Barr stated, presenting this as a hardship. Worse still, “there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability.” Our attorney general wishes us to understand that this, too, was unfair. That Michael Flynn, the man Trump had chosen to be America’s national security adviser, was an unregistered foreign agent who had acted on behalf of a foreign government was none of America’s concern. Neither was Trump’s subsequent defense of the man, long after his firing, nor his request for James Comey to let it go. It wasn’t the conduct that was unwarranted and inappropriate, but the scrutiny of that conduct. It is we—the news media and the American people—who ought to think long and hard about What We’ve Done.

Turning accusation against the accusers, William Barr adopted the highly effective Brett Kavanaugh playbook.  However, this was not a playbook written by the Supreme Court nominee or even his facilitator/chaperone, then-White House Counsel Don McGahn.  It merely was borrowed by Barr (and sure to be used again) after it was adapted last autumn for the Supreme Court nominee.  

McGahn probably realized it had been used successfully previously. Late last September in the wake of Kavanaugh's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Michael Rosenwald drew a parallel in Kavaugh's strategy and that of another Supreme Court appointee. He described the

fury from Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh as he angrily denied allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, calling his confirmation process a “national disgrace” during testimony before a Senate committee. He testified after his accuser Christine Blasey Ford described an alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh at a drunken Maryland house party in the early 1980s when they were in high school.

“You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit, ever,” Kavanaugh said.

Kavanaugh defended his innocence again and again.

“Listen to the people I know. Listen to the people who have known me my whole life. Listen to the people I’ve grown up with and worked with and played with and coached with and dated and taught and gone to games with and had beers with. And listen to the witnesses who were allegedly at this event 30 years ago," he said.

The comparisons with the Thomas/Hill hearing was inevitable.

In 1991, the Senate Judiciary Committee reopened Thomas’s confirmation to hear Hill’s sexual harassment allegations and the nominee’s response. The lurid testimony that followed — about penis sizes, breasts, pubic hairs and pornography — captivated the nation, with open arguments in homes and workplaces over who was telling the truth.

Following Hill’s testimony, Thomas angrily addressed the committee, saying:

Senator, I would like to start by saying unequivocally, uncategorically that I deny each and every single allegation against me today that suggested in any way that I had conversations of a sexual nature or about pornographic material with Anita Hill, that I ever attempted to date her, that I ever had any personal sexual interest in her, or that I in any way ever harassed her. Second, and I think a more important point, I think that this today is a travesty. I think that it is disgusting. I think that this hearing should never occur in America. This is a case in which this sleaze, this dirt was searched for by staffers of members of this committee, was then leaked to the media, and this committee and this body validated it and displayed it in prime time over our entire Nation. How would any member on this committee or any person in this room or any person in this country would like sleaze said about him or her in this fashion or this dirt dredged up and this gossip and these lies displayed in this manner? How would any person like it?

And then he uttered the most repeated and analyzed portion of his defense:

This is a circus. It is a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, as far as I am concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity-blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that, unless you kow-tow to an old order, this is what will happen to you, you will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate, rather than hung from a tree.

Circus. Lynched. Destroyed.

Those words set the tone for how Thomas saved his nomination, a defense that was later deemed shrewd and “well designed” by communication and rhetoric experts.

Kavanaugh shrewdly replaced the angry black guy shtick with the angry white guy shtick.

William Barr's line of strategy itself stretched from himself to Brett Kavanaugh and all the way back to Clarence Thomas. Rosenfeld noted 

“I desperately needed a break,” Thomas wrote in his memoir.

With his wife, Virginia, Thomas drove to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. From there, they took a ferry to New Jersey.

“The summer tourist season was over and the beach was deserted and quiet,” Thomas wrote, “but I found no peace there.” He had a nagging feeling that “my opponents were still holding something in reserve.”

He was right.

The day after returning to their home in Alexandria, Va., two FBI agents knocked on the front door.

“They flashed their credentials and started asking questions before I could close the door behind them,” Thomas wrote.

The first question: “Do you know a woman named Anita Hill?”

Oops. That "nagging feeling" probably was the realization that his history of sexual harassment in the workplace would catch up to him. Similarly, according to Jeff Sessions, when Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, on May 17, 2017 President Trump told then-AG Sessions “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked."

The parallel appears even greater when Rosenfeld explains that Thomas not only played the victim, vowing not to "provide rope for my own lynching" but also attacked the process. The nominee whined

I have endured this ordeal for 103 days. Reporters sneaking into my garage to examine books I read. Reporters and interest groups swarming over divorce papers, looking for dirt. Unnamed people starting preposterous and damaging rumors. Calls all over the country specifically requesting dirt. This is not American. This is Kafka-esque. It has got to stop. It must stop for the benefit of future nominees, and our country. Enough is enough.

On Thursday Attorney General Barr attempted to paint Donald Trump as a victim, complaining

In assessing the President’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion. And as the Special Counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.

Slate's David A Graham noticed

In short, the attorney general is saying that the president’s possibly obstructive efforts were not corrupt, because Trump sincerely believed he was the victim of a conspiracy. Because the president was “frustrated and angered,” Barr seems to think it was reasonable for him to, for example, pressure the FBI director to drop an investigation.

The President was "frustrated and angry," as was Clarence Thomas ("enough is enough") by those "reporters" and "interest groups" and "unnamed people."

William Barr took from the script written by Clarence Thomas and passed along to Brett Kavanaugh. Unfortunately, it looks as if Donald Trump may survive politically, as did Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas. And now- for the cherry on top of the cake- the fellow who smoothed the way for "high-tech lynching" Thomas to get a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land is set to announce his candidacy for the presidency of the United States of America.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

An Idea Worthy Of Buttigieg

For the love of God (possibly this politician's favorite phrase), please stop:

Protesters shouting about "Sodom and Gomorrah" interrupted South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday at an Iowa campaign rally.

Buttigieg hopes to become the first openly gay president in American history.

One of the men who shouted about the biblical cities destroyed by God's wrath for their sinful ways was Randall Terry, a Christian activist who founded the anti-abortion rights group Operation Rescue. The organization says it split with him 18 years ago and now considers him too radical.

The crowd at the Des Moines rally drowned out Terry's shouts by cheering Buttigieg’s name.

"The good news is, the condition of my soul is in the hands of God, but the Iowa caucuses are up to you," an unshaken Buttigieg responded, pointing at the crowd.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny reported that Buttigieg was interrupted three times by protesters and that they were all affiliated with Terry.

Randall Terry has to stop. He must stop not only because this is clearly intolerant. He must stop also because they can boomerang.

Pete Buttigieg is unusually quick on his feet as it is. And, unless his IQ is 100 points or so lower than suspected, he knew that he would face criticism, ridicule, or catcalls because he is gay. Moreover, this being the Democratic Party primary process rather than a general election including Independents and Republicans, calling attention to the mayor's sexual preference can only increase his popularity.

That would not be a good thing, and not only because Buttigieg's record as mayor has been, generously speaking, mixed.  Buttigieg,  well-informed, witty, civil, gay, and short, would like you to believe that he is the antidote to Donald Trump.

Nonetheless, there is one area, far more important than height or sexual preference, in which they are alike.

They both seem to have a problem with the United States Constitution. For Trump, in the matter of emoluments, immigration, and so much else, it is obvious. Not coincidentally, his Attorney General, who acts as the President's personal attorney rather than the nation's attorney, has the same allergy. Consider  

Amanda Marcotte argues that the offense cited is equivalent to a traffic ticket.  However, while a visa overstay is a mere civil offense, illegal entry is a Class B misdemeanor, roughly equivalent to what possession of a small amount of marijuana or stealing a loaf of bread would be on the state level. Still, not terribly serious- and individuals who apply for asylum have complied with the established, legal process and have broken no law.

Pete Buttigieg also has a bad court-related idea, an appellate rotation plan to increase the size of the Supreme Court, about which Mark David Stern explains

Also called the 5-5-5 plan or the “balanced court solution,” the 10 partisan justices would pick the remaining five justices from the federal courts of appeals and would need to select them unanimously. If the 10 partisans could not agree, they would lack a quorum to hear any cases. The Supreme Court’s work would grind to a halt until they reached a compromise.

One problem is immediately evident. Republicans being Republicans and Democrats being Democrats, the Democratic Justices would be tempted to acquiesce in the choice of the GOP Justices in order to allow court work to precede unimpeded. (Norms and the rule of law, you know.)

Assessing the proposal as a lawyer, Stern notes

This plan’s appeal is obvious—it gives neither party an advantage and thus avoids the judicial arms race that could result from straightforward court packing. Its flaw, however, is fatal. As Pack the Courts has explained in a white paper, the Constitution’s Appointments Clause declares that the president “shall appoint” Supreme Court justices “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” The justices themselves have no power to appoint other justices; that authority is explicitly assigned to the president alone. If Congress forced the president to share appointment power with the justices, it would radically alter a key constitutional procedure. That cannot be done by mere legislation. It requires nothing less than a constitutional amendment.

Pivoting from the legal to the strategic, Stern recognizes that appellate rotation

sounds technocratic and centrist. Buttigieg insists that he does not want to “make the court more progressive” but rather wishes to “arrest the decline in the perception of the court toward being viewed as a nakedly political institution.” Appellate rotation “takes the politics out of it a little bit,” making it the “most intriguing” option to him. “If we want to save that institution,” Buttigieg asserts, “I think we better be ready to tune it up as well.”

That line might poll well, but it’s the wrong way of looking at court reform—and not just because the “most intriguing” option is also unconstitutional. Buttigieg may not want to cross the Rubicon of altering the makeup of the Supreme Court, but Republicans already blew past that norm. In 2016, Republicans proposed, and partially enacted, their own version of court reform by refusing to even hold hearings for Garland. The GOP effectively shrank the size of the court to eight seats for more than a year, resulting in deadlocks that hobbled the court’s work. Then, multiple Republican senators—including John McCain, Ted Cruz, and Richard Burr—announced that they would not confirm any nominee put forward by Hillary Clinton if she won the presidency. Burr said he would “do everything I can do to make sure four years from now, we still got an opening on the Supreme Court.” Sympathetic commentators like Ilya Shapiro cheered them on, arguing that it would be “honorable” for the Senate to refuse to confirm Clinton’s nominees and “let the Supreme Court die out, literally.”

It's an idea that's unconstitutional, dependent on Republican good faith, and redolent of an individual who is afraid to wield power:

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One of Our Own, Or So He Says

So do your thing ,Charles! Stephen A. Smith on Fox News on Wednesday night commented I got to tell you something. As much as people may ha...