Friday, July 31, 2020

No Power?


 This is precious:
 

Also this:

You may have heard of the US Constitution’s emolument clause, which in Section 9 of Article I declares

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

Further, you may have noticed that Trump violates this clause daily, at least $971,000- and counting- having been transferred from taxpayers to the President’s private businesses.



So the Constitution means nothing to Donald Trump, unless he can cite, or twist, it to support actions he’d take anyway. However, the GOP might not even need the Constitution in order to delay the election.   Steve M points out that the National Constitution Center has found

Three opinions from the Congressional Research Service explain scenarios about the possible delays in the presidential election process. One report, released last month, indicates a state under its own laws could postpone the general election date that results in the selection of electors; in the election this year that date is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. At least 45 states have statutes that deal with election day emergencies, the CRS says.

Steve M goes on to explain

There are several states in which Republicans fully control the government but voters might prefer Joe Biden to Donald Trump -- Florida, Arizona, and possibly Georgia and Texas. There are other possible Biden states in which Republicans control the legislature -- Pennsylvia, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin. What might happen in those states?

Trump may also sign an Executive Order, such as he has on 213 occasions thus far, this one to delay the election. That might well be overturned by the federal courts, eventually reaching the US Supreme Court. Even though fast-tracked, the issue would not be settled overnight. Meanwhile, Trump might encourage his goons- such as those who came armed to several state capitols a few months ago to protest state closure regulations- to take to the streets. And as we learned from dispatch of DHS forces to Portland, Oregon, the President has at his command resources to use and abuse.

It’s not likely it would come to any of that. If Trump believes in mid and late October that he will win, he’ll have little incentive to delay the election.  If the election is very competitive, he’s likely to let it go forward (with, of course, GOP voter suppression) because he’d rather win an election than not, and not go full authoritarian until he’s granted a second term. However, if he appears to be a sure loser, Donald Trump will find some way at least to try to postpone the election, especially because the longer a vote is delayed, the more likely it is that a vaccine for Covid-19 will be ready.

In this election, Donald Trump has a lot at stake- the opportunity to leverage his power into ever greater personal fortune; his ability, absent a pardon from President Biden, to remain unindicted; and the potential to shape the USA into the sort of authoritarian state favored by TayyipErdogan, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin.  We know for sure only that the United States Constitution would not deter the self-designated Chosen One.



Thursday, July 30, 2020

A Simple Explanation


Reactions in liberal twiterverse to campaign news earlier this week were not surprising:


Joe Biden served loyally as vice-president to a president whom many, if not most, Democrats believe walks on water. Even then, Biden declined to run for President in the 2016 election cycle (excellent timing, as it turns out).




It may not be sensible to take advice about brotherhood from a guy who believes old people are "crusty" and uses white as a pejorative. 

But my favorite is from the woman who responded merely "Because it's a black woman."

The names which are believed to comprise Biden's current short list are Harris, Tammy Duckworth, Val Demings, Susan Rice, and Karen Bass. Each of the last three is black (and unlike Harris, on both sides of the family). All are women. And none has been attacked as excessively ambitious.

The notion that only blacks, or only women, or only black women are labeled "ambitious" or "opportunistic" would surprise Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated in June, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles the night of his victory in the California primary.  The Guardian has noted that only a month earlier, 67% of voters in a Gallup poll "saw him as an opportunist." Another word commonly applied to the white man from New York State was "ruthless."

In a famous exchange between Harris and Biden in a June, 2019 Democratic presidential debate 

There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school everyday, and that little girl was me,” she said.

Moments after the exchange, her campaign tweeted a photo of a young Harris and an accompanying caption that read: “There was a little girl in California who was bused to school. That little girl was me.” 

And the kicker was that Harris had attacked Biden for having the same position on busing that she held. In a post sometime after the debate I wrote (typed)


The former vice-president maintained

I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That’s what I opposed. I did not oppose-

After Harris reminded him that she was bused to school in Berkeley, California, Biden responded "because your city council made that decision. It was a local decision" and Harris countered with "so that's where the federal government must step in."

To summarize: Biden said that he supported busing to achieve school integration only if ordered by the local government, whereas Harris supported it even when ordered by the federal government.  Following the Senator's spontaneous, heartfelt message, by the next morning a supporter could buy for $29.99 to $32.99 a t-shirt reading "That Little Girl Was Me," which featured "a picture of a young Harris against a black backdrop." Six days later, however

“I think of busing as being in the toolbox of what is available and what can be used for the goal of desegregating America’s schools,” Harris said. After a reporter asked Harris to clarify whether she supports federally mandated busing, she replied, “I believe that any tool that is in the toolbox should be considered by a school district.”

Busing to achieve school integration was fine by both Biden and Harris- as long as the decision was made by the school district itself.




Before flaming out, Harris raised a huge amount of money from an encounter which- on her part- was in retrospect stunningly dishonest. There is only one reason- not race or gender- that some Democratic heavyweights believe the California senator should be considered unacceptably ambitious. It's because she is.



Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Yes, Russia, Russia, Russia

That's an issue which many people said was fake news," President Trump told Axios' Jonathan Swan on Tuesday, 7/28/00..

That was in response to Swan raising the issue of intelligence report(s) that Russia offered the Taliban bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. And so, in honor of the President, I will note that "many people say that Donald Trump is stupid."

Donald Trump embodies more sins and shortcomings than almost any American alive. However, actual stupidity is not one of them. Swan reports

In 2018, Gen. John Nicholson, then the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, accused Russia of providing money and arms to the group, saying, "we know that the Russians are involved."

Trump told “Axios on HBO” that he was not aware of Nicholson’s comments, and said evidence that Russia was aiding the Taliban “never reached my desk.”



Well, yes, but he stated also "I have heard that, but again it's never reached my desk." Because he wasn't informed, Trump eludes responsibility but cannot be accused of being daft, suffering from dementia, or having advisors so worried about his response (or lack thereof) that they'd keep critical information from him.

Additionally, the President never actually claimed that he wasn't advised of the intelligence, instead contending it "never reached my desk." That may be accurate because the intelligence report may never have been placed upon his desk. Trump may have learned a thing or two about splitting hairs from Bill Barr, for whom it works very well in congressional testimony.

(Something to look forward to whenever the USA gets its first female President: most women are not as prone to using such deceptive colloquialisms.)

It also may be splendid timing on the part of the President. Swan effectively questioned the President on the intelligence report about Putin's Russia. But the interview took place on Tuesday and thus the Axios guy didn't have the opportunity to ask the interviewee about the military's announcement on Wednesday that the USA will

cut by about a third the 36,000-strong U.S. troop contingent in Germany, faulting the close U.S. ally for failing to meet NATO’s defense spending target and accusing it of taking advantage of the United States on trade.

 “We don’t want to be the suckers any more,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday about the decision. “We’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills; it’s very simple.

President Trump thereby nurses his grudge against the country which is the largest (aside from the USA) contributor of developmental and military support to Afghanistan. It's "a slap in the face to a friend and ally," Senator Romney notes, and it further weakens the trans-Atlantic alliance, a major foreign policy tactic of Trump's friend and ally in the Kremlin.

It's highly unlikely that Trump had specifically asked the military to hold off on its announcement. Yet, the timing of the announcement benefits the commander-in-chief, an individual skilled at making known his desires and smart enough to understand their importance.



Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Not Such A Big Tent



This unusually popular governor is regarded as one of "the good ones," a moderate, anti-Trump Republican who advocates "a bigger tent party." The Hill notes

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), a frequent critic of President Trump, said Monday that while he was unsure whether he would vote for the president in November, he would not rule it out.

Asked by conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt whether he intended to vote for the president, Hogan replied “Like everybody else, I get to go into the voting booth and pull the lever for the person that I think is going to do the best job. And we’re going to figure that out in the next 100 days.”

“I’m going to try to make that decision like everybody else in America. I think we’ve got a long way to go,” Hogan said. “And I think right now, if the election were held today, the president would be in real trouble. But he’s certainly got time to turn things around. And I’m hoping that he’s able to get some of these things taken care of.”

Hogan, who said he wrote in his father rather than voting for either Trump or Hillary Clinton in 2016, has suggested he may not vote for Trump before, and has been particularly outspoken in his criticism of the White House’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, accusing the administration of leaving states to fend for themselves.

“It’s mixed messages — bouncing from one message to the other,” Hogan said earlier this month. “[Trump’s] entire administration is telling everyone to take it seriously while he tells everybody to not take it seriously.”

This presumably is the reason Hogan refuses to rule out voting for the evil presence in the White House:

The Maryland governor also suggested earlier in July he is considering a 2024 presidential run.

“After this November election is over, regardless of who wins, there are a large majority of Americans who are completely convinced our political system is fundamentally broken, and they’re going to be looking for something different,” Hogan told The New York Times.

Seemingly, perhaps, but not necessarily, and only in part because Republican voters- even ADJT (after Donald J Trump) will not be looking for a presidential nominee with the persona of a Larry Hogan.

It's hard to believe anyone reasonably concerned about human relations could entertain voting for the man who decades ago denied housing to blacks based on race, later maintained "laziness is a trait in blacks" which "is not anything they can control," typically discriminated against blacks (and women) in casinos he owned, catapulted himself into GOP hearts by claiming Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and whose enthusiasm for stoking racial animosity and tension has only increased the past few months.

It's possible, though, that Hogan is not an exception. (Videos below are from October, 2018 and December, 2015, respectively.) Georgetown law professor Sheryll Cashin, a student of residential segregation has written

In 2014, the Obama administration offered Maryland a selective “New Starts” grant of $900 million to finally build what was called the Red Line — a project that would not only have connected thousands of Black Marylanders to better jobs but would also create a comprehensive transit system that might restart the Baltimore region’s economy and improve race relations by building literal connections between communities.

Today, there’s no construction of rail in Baltimore. The $900 million has been returned to the federal government. The state of Maryland redirected $736 million of state funds originally set aside for the Red Line to building roads instead — in predominantly white areas. And the U.S. Department of Transportation, which was supposed to investigate whether that decision was illegal and discriminatory, quietly closed the case without making any public findings.

Transportation investment and disinvestment have been central in Baltimore’s long saga of racial segregation and inequity, and the Red Line was the most recent chapter. Since Gov. Larry Hogan killed the Red Line in 2015, it has become a rallying cry for transit and racial-justice activists in Baltimore and beyond.

But the full extent of the injustice is just coming to light. Material obtained by a legal clinic I worked with at Georgetown Law School, through Maryland’s freedom-of-information statute, shows that federal officials acknowledged the potential racial impact of the decision to cancel the Red Line and the possibility that the decision violated civil rights law — and then for unclear reasons, dropped their investigation.

It was Hogan’s decision to cancel the Red Line.... 

In Jan. 2015, Gov. Hogan took office. Less than six months later, in June 2015, he announced that the Red Line was canceled.

Hogan, founder of an eponymous commercial real estate business, was an established skeptic of transit rail, which he deemed too expensive, and a believer in highway asphalt. In his first bid for governor, he argued against light rail — which opposing suburbanites sometimes derided as “loot rail” — and strenuously advocated for roads. Rail, no; roads, yes — polar positions that helped to defeat Black Democrat, Anthony Brown.

While Hogan did not cancel a line connecting wealthy suburbs to the District of Columbia's Metro subway

He returned the $900 million selective federal grant for the project and reallocated all of the state money that had been earmarked for the Red Line's first construction phase — $736 million — to road projects in exurban and rural areas. In the end, not a single road or pothole in Baltimore would be paved with the money that had been set aside for the Red Line.



Larry Hogan is probably not a racist, possibly not even someone harboring racial animus. However, he has a high tolerance for those who are. And as someone who recommends "avoiding divisive rhetoric," the Red Line is a reminder of the motivation of Republicans with doubts about Donald Trump Hogan is illustrative of most of the Republicans who have their doubts about Donald Trump. The President is crude, rude, and phenomenally corrupt but at least he supports the kind of government Republicans favor.


 


Monday, July 27, 2020

Radical Views Of American History



Arkansas GOP senator Tom Cotton is proposing legislation to deter school districts from adopting as part of its curriculum the 1619 Proect, presented in The New York Times. The project, spearheaded by Nikole Hannah-Jones, aims “to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year” because that marks the arrival of African slaves in the Virginia colonies.

Cotton has stated in an interview

We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction,

The senator's comments have proven controversial:

Cotton did not say "the Founding Fathers said."  Prefacing the phrase with "as"- "as the Founding Fathers said"- indicates that he agrees with them. However, Bae Wells might be surprised to learn what Nikole-Jones and the Arkansas right-winger have in common. In her essay, the former wrote 

In other words, we may never have revolted against Britain if some of the founders had not understood that slavery empowered them to do so; nor if they had not believed that independence was required in order to ensure that slavery would continue. It is not incidental that 10 of this nation’s first 12 presidents were enslavers, and some might argue that this nation was founded not as a democracy but as a slavocracy.

Additionally

It was the relentless buying, selling, insuring and financing of their bodies and the products of their labor that made Wall Street a thriving banking, insurance and trading sector and New York City the financial capital of the world.

I don't know why Cotton stated "the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction." I'm not even sure what he means. Nonetheless, this is a classic example of the far right (Exceptional America) being so far right, and the far left being so far left (ignoring class, video below), that they meet in the middle. 

Nikole-Jones, eager (“DNA”) to attribute racism to genetics, contends “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.” Cotton maintains “no (other) country has ever done more to achieve” the “promise” that “all mankind is created equal”  and “The New York Times should not be teaching American history to our kids.” In that case, The New York Times, Tom Cotton, and Hannah Nikole-Jones are all alike.



 

 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Bigots Will Miss The Irony


This could be a problem for some people:

Five-term Los Angeles Rep. Karen Bass is the other Californian on Joe Biden’s short list to be his vice president. She’s rising up the veepstakes charts so fast that even conservative columnist George Will — the Ronald Reagan-cheerleader-turned-never-Trumper — said she’d be a great pick.

Like many of the other women on Biden’s short list, Bass, 66, is a ceiling-breaker. The daughter of a postal worker, in 2008 she became the first Black woman in history to lead the California Assembly or any similar legislative body in the country. But she’s also different. She’s a healer.




It wouldn't be a problem because Bass is fairly old, is considered favorably by lifelong conservative George Will, or even that she embodies the Democratic trait of bringing a knife- albeit an effective one- to a gun fight.

It would be because she is Karen Bass.

There are leftist pundits and tweeters galore who deride as a "Karen" those white women who fall short of a racial ideal. The racial slur took off most famously when Christian Cooper's 

sister Melody posted the clip of Amy — identified by the mocking name “Karen” — calling the police on Christian. Amy was recorded by Christian after he simply asked her to comply with New York City law and put her dog on a leash in a section of Central Park that’s known for bird-watching. Amy was clearly flustered by Christian’s actions because she told him to stop recording her right before she dialed the police.

Christian Cooper, as we famously learned, told Amy no relation Cooper to put her dog onto its leash, as is required in that section of Central Park. Nonetheless

Amy, clearly didn’t care, which caused Christian to respond, “Look, if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it,” according to his Facebook post. 

Then Christian says he pulled out a dog treat and called after Amy’s dog. He said he carries such items “just for such intransigence.”

When the dog started coming towards Christian this is when he says Amy yelled, “DON’T YOU TOUCH MY DOG!!!!!”

Christian went on to say, “That’s when I started video recording with my iPhone, and when her inner Karen fully emerged and took a dark turn.”

Look, if you're going to do what you want, I'm going to do what I want, but you're not going to like it, Christian warned the woman who was condemned for admitting she felt threatened. She was "flustered," where "flustered" is spelled "alarmed," a nearly unavoidable reaction under the circumstances.

Many of us, incurably old-fashioned, don't like being recorded in our lives and aren't comfortable with someone telling us he is going to do something we "are not going to like" if we don't do as we're told.  Or as those of us on the left are wont to put it, she felt "bullied."

Still, Amy Cooper was a "Karen," which might have seemed a little odd to a woman named Karen, a black woman with a reasonable chance of becoming the next vice-president of the United States of America. And it should strike all of us as racially biased, if not also sexist.  (There is no corresponding "Bill" or anything for a male, as if only women can be racist.)

Admittedly, it may not cause a problem for the "Karen" brigade. After all, it wouldn't be surprising if individuals prone to accusing others of racism, or of zealously protecting the white privilege for which they are denounced, did not recognize the irony of their own bigotry.



Saturday, July 25, 2020

Beneficial, Thus Far


Come for the Irish accent and stay for the fairly informative, albeit somewhat biased, report about application of Operation LeGend in Chicago:

 

On Tuesday, determined to avoid the mayhem and destruction following, and caused by, federal forces sent to Portland, Oregon, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot declared “Under no circumstances will I allow Donald Trump’s troops to come to Chicago and terrorize our residents.”

However, in what deceptively appears to have been a change of heart, the mayor's office on Wednesday stated

Mayor Lightfoot maintains that all resources will be investigatory in nature and be coordinated through the U.S. Attorney’s office. The Mayor has made clear that if there is any deviation from what has been announced, we will pursue all available legal options to protect Chicagoans.

God is in the details, it is said. (Trump version: "The devil is in the details. I should know.") And here, the details are critical.

The federal police or troops or whatever they were were sent to Portland without approval, or even notification of, the mayor of the city or the governor of Oregon. They were employees of the Department of Human Services and of the US Marshall's Office, as we learned only through court filings.  They were in unmarked uniforms placing dissidents in unmarked vehicles, taken in at least one instance to an unknown location. There is no indication that they had been trained for the task. In some countries this is known as a secret police force.

The forces sent to Chicago are decidedly police, rather than whatever they are in Portland, will not be dressed in camouflage, and reportedly will focus on '''gangs, guns, and drugs." Moreover, coordination with local government, assiduously avoided by DHS and the President in the Portland operation, appears central in Chicago as

The deployment of federal police in the city will be overseen by U.S. Attorney John Lausch, whom Lightfoot knows from her tenure as a former federal prosecutor.

“This is not patrol. This is not against civil unrest,” Lausch said. “This is working with the Chicago Police Department to do what we can to reduce the staggering violent crime we’re facing right now.”

The three federal agencies with police in Chicago are Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  They are a part of the Justice Department, which probably is better positioned, with officers more experienced, to perform their duty than the federal gangs sent to Portland.

Mayor Lightfoot still has reason to be concerned that the operation will be used for a) campaign propaganda by President Trump, as is likely; and the personnel for b) nefarious purposes (as in Oregon), which is far less likely. (If (b) occurs, reaction should be prompt and severe.) Attorney General Barr says that he will pursue Operation LeGend also in Albuquerque and has already done so in Kansas City, Missouri, where his estimation on Wednesday of the number of arrests was off by 20,000%

The Administration is allegedly, and presumably, responding to a recent spike in violent crime in Chicago. But lawlessness has long been a major problem in the city and there would be little concern if this project were not being carried out, ultimately, under the leadership of the most ill-equipped person to be President of the USA.  That begs a simple question: where was the last President when all this was happening?



Divisive Rhetoric, Bad Policy


In his news conference Thursday, President Trump quoted the portion of the July 10 news release in which the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote

Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in [a] social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical [and] sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.  This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality.  Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there has been [a] substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and [for] families.

Unsurprisingly, the President omitted the part in which the Academy noted

Withholding funding from schools that do not open in person fulltime would be a misguided approach, putting already financially strapped schools in an impossible position that would threaten the health of students and teachers.

And so the President who added "being at the school, being on the campus is very, very important" warned

We’re asking Congress to provide $105 billion to schools as part of the next coronavirus relief bill. ...

If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious, or homeschool of their choice.  The key word being “choice.”  If the school is closed, the money should follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions.  So we’d like the money to go to the parents of the student.  This way, they can make the decision that’s best for them.

He almost had us there with the "private, charter, religious" bit, pretending that he is interested in so-called school choice and in the value of having children in school with other children.

However, he then exposed himself, adding "homeschool of their choice."  "Being at the school, being on the campus is very, very important," Trump protested.  That seems curious because whatever benefits there may be to homeschooling, it is not "being on the campus."  That's the reason for the word "home."

President Trump's proposal is not about protecting teachers, maintenance workers, administrators, or other staff. It's not about children or even about "choice," except insofar as that serves a larger policy objective.

And that larger policy objective is to destroy the (traditional) public school system. In his incendiary speech at Mount Rushmore on the eve of Independence Day, Trump had declared

our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.

Elaborating on that theme, he said “in our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets and cities that are run by liberal Democrats in every case is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism and other cultural institutions. Against every law of society and nature, our children are taught in school to hate their own country and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that they were villains. The radical view of American history is a web of lies — all perspective is removed, every virtue is obscured, every motive is twisted, every fact is distorted and every flaw is magnified until the history is purged and the record is disfigured beyond all recognition.”

It seems to have escaped the attention of most of the news media that the President of the USA, citing no evidence, claimed that children are being "indoctrinated" and "taught in school to hate their own country."  But it isn't a mere passing thought of his or one more example of his fertile imagination.  It's laying the groundwork for further privatization of education, a fundamental objective of a party which believes nothing is so important that it can't be leveraged for private profit.

Not only Republicans fall prey to this warped priority. President Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan, was a leading proponent of charter schools, as more than a few Democrats have been (video below from 8/16).  But for now and at least the next six months, it's President Trump- and Education Secretary DeVos- who are pushing this more aggressively than has any Administration.


 


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Wishing Her Well




Donald Trump is a terrible President and possibly the worst human being in the country, aside from a murderer or rapist. However, he also is smart. Approximately an hour before President Trump commuted the sentence of Roger Stone, the latter told journalist/columnist Howard Fineman

I had 29 or 30 conversations with Trump during the campaign period.He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t. They wanted me to play Judas. I refused.

Neal Katyal and Joshua Geltzer explain

Sure, Trump helped Stone by invoking his extraordinary constitutional powers to relieve Stone of the consequences of his 2019 conviction for lying to investigators, obstructing a congressional inquiry, and witness tampering. But Trump, characteristically, did as little as possible: He commuted Stone’s sentence but didn’t pardon him. That means—as Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrote on Saturday—that Stone “remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.” A commutation does nothing to erase or even call into question a convicted defendant’s guilt.

Because of the prohibition of double jeopardy, Stone cannot be retried for the exact same offense. However, he can face charges for similar offenses and

A future Justice Department would be well within its rights to open a new investigation into Stone’s activities. Such an investigation wouldn’t be hard: The very facts the jury found sufficient to convict Stone suggest that he may be guilty of other criminal offenses.

This includes obstruction of justice and/or perjury, maybe aiding and abetting the email dump. Such crimes

have different elements from the ones Stone was convicted of, so they are not the same—and being forced to prove different facts to establish different elements of a crime is, in general, a key indication that prosecutors are not running into constitutional double-jeopardy concerns.

If the President had pardoned Stone for all offenses which might be related to this affair, Stone would be free-and-clear of all federal charges. But Trump didn't do so because he wanted the possibility of further criminal charges to hang over the notorious dirty trickster. 

That's how it's done in the underworld. Asked by David Letterman in 2013 about the Mafia, Trump responded "You just don’t want to owe them money. Don’t owe them money."

Better for them to owe you.  Now Stone owes Trump for pardoning him, with the implied threat of more legal trouble if he chooses to speak up.

Currently, Ghislaine Maxwell doesn't owe Trump. She has the goods on him, which was made clear when the President wished her well. It's the best of both worlds for him, with both the implied promise of a pardon or a commutation of sentence if she keeps her mouth shut- and much worse if she doesn't.

It's the way of La Cosa Nostra, which Donald Trump has played ball with for decades.  He has done it effectively with Roger Stone and now he's playing with Ghislaine Maxwell, who needs to makes sure she's paid up on her life insurance. She's not up against anyone stupid.



 



Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Violating


It's easy to pile on Tucker Carlson and if The New York Times isn't lying, he deserves all of this and more.  But this post isn't about Carlson; it's about Meghan McCain, one of the co-hosts of The View, and her, uh, unusual values.. The Washington Post reports

On Monday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson made a surprising accusation: The New York Times, he said, was trying to endanger him and his family by revealing where they live in an upcoming story. As he lambasted the newspaper on-air, Carlson suggested that his prime-time show could expose the home addresses of the reporter and Times editors.

Within hours, an army of conservative Twitter accounts started publicly posting the address and personal information of the reporter Carlson identified as the story’s writer. Many encouraged people to harass the reporter.

In a statement to The Washington Post, a spokesperson for the Times denied Carlson’s claims.

“While we do not confirm what may or may not publish in future editions, the Times has not and does not plan to expose any residence of Tucker Carlson’s, which Carlson was aware of before tonight’s broadcast,” the spokesperson said. The spokesperson declined to comment further when asked about the reporter’s doxing....

He identified the reporter behind the story as Murray Carpenter, airing his photo and calling the freelance writer a “political activist.” Carpenter’s website states that he focuses on science and environmental stories and has written for the Times, The Post and National Geographic, among other outlets.

Carlson also mentioned photographer Tristan Spinski and the Times’s media editor Jim Windolf by name.

“How would Murray Carpenter and his photographer, Tristan Spinski, feel if we told you where they live, if we put pictures of their homes on the air?” Carlson asked. “What if we published the home address of every one of the soulless, robot editors at the New York Times, who assigned and managed this incitement of violence against my family?"

He added: “We could do that. We know who they are.”

He- or, given that Carlson proudly uses the imperial "we"- they might as well as have done that because

Carlson’s supporters quickly got to work. Several accounts shared addresses, phone numbers and other contact information for the reporter. One account tweeted, “Give him a taste of his own meds.”





Of course, "meds" is popular shorthand for "medicines" or "medication," so Carlson's supporter was tweeting "give him a taste of his own medicines" or "give him a taste of his own medication." However, if that criticism is grammatically nonsensical, this makes even less sense:
It's curious that McCain would equate revealing a talk show host's "home area" with revealing his specific address. Carlson's program, is believed to garner more viewers than any cable news talk show in history, and Meghan McCain believes that identifying his current town of residence would be overly intrusive.

That would be "the most violating thing in the world." This, therefore, would not be:






The most violating thing in the world. The good news is that Meghan McCain evidently never has been raped, which would be more "violating" than what The New York Times was accused of planning. Even men understand that- but a lifelong Republican, a woman married to The Federalist publisher Ben Domenech, does not. She is still taken seriously.




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Monday, July 20, 2020


Fox News' Chris Wallace conducted with Donald Trump on Sunday a wide-ranging interview soliciting responses so Trumpian that CNN's Chris Cillizza was able to compile what CNN referred to as the "55 most shocking lines" of the President.

Cillizza's list was comprehensive. However, the 4:19 summary in the Washington Post clip below omitted what was probably the most dangerous remark made by the President.



Also emphasized is the series of questions about the novel coronavirus and, taken as a whole, the idea that Donald Trump is pleased with the great number of deaths should gain currency.  Asked about insufficient testing, the President (at 6:30 of the video of the full interview) admitted "iIn a way we're creating trouble" before catching himself and going to his "fake news" standby.

Attention has been paid to Trump refusing to commit himself to accepting the results of the 2020 election. However, given that he has not accepted the results of an election he won, the likelihood of him going quietly if Joe Biden beats him was always slim. However, the Intercept's Amanda Holpuch noted

Trump also made the astounding claim that in two weeks’ time, he will sign a new healthcare plan.

On the campaign trail in 2016, he promised to overturn the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, which provides health insurance to those who cannot otherwise afford it. An effort to do so in Congress failed. Late last month – during a pandemic – the White House wrote a brief in support of a lawsuit seeking to bring the ACA down.

Wallace pointed out that in three years, Trump has not unveiled his promised replacement.

Trump responded: “We’re signing a healthcare plan within two weeks, a full and complete healthcare plan that the supreme court decision on DACA [an immigration decision which went against the administration] gave me the right to do.

“So we’re going to solve – we’re going to sign an immigration plan, a healthcare plan, and various other plans. And nobody will have done what I’m doing in the next four weeks.”

"Astounding" it is. Vox's Aaron Rupar:
Charlie Pierce caught the Axios report that John

 Yoo detailed the theory in a National Review article, spotted atop Trump’s desk in the Oval Office, which argues that the Supreme Court's 5-4 DACA ruling last month "makes it easy for presidents to violate the law. The president has brought up the article with key advisers, two Trump administration officials tell Axios. Yoo writes that the ruling, and actions by President Obama, pave the way for Trump to implement policies that Congress won’t. Some could remain in force for years even if he loses re-election. 

Yoo — who next week will be out with a new book, "Defender in Chief," on Trump's use of presidential power — tells Axios that he has met virtually with White House officials about the implications of the ruling. What's next: The first test could come imminently. Trump has said he is about to unveil a "very major" immigration policy via executive order, which he says the Supreme Court gave him the power to do.

It goes back further, to then-Attorney General William Barr's ability to convince President George H. Bush to pardon everybody in the Iran-Contra scandal who could have implicated President Bush. They all relied on "a lushly funded network of conservative organizations to finance the scholarship that brought (Supreme Court Justice Antonin) Scalia’s opinion to political life."

What Pierce understandably doesn’t concede is the role President Obama’s Executive Order itself had in prompting the court case in which President Trump now finds solace and his Justice Department will use to defend any move Trump makes unilaterally on health care or immigration…. or anything else. Obama’s Executive Order, albeit compassionate, was always of dubious legality extended on behalf of individuals who (as children) were brought to this country illegally and which might come back to smack immigrants and health care consumers in the…. well, you know.

It would be ironic were an action of President Obama, so loathed by the current President, were successfully leveraged to extend the reach of the chief executive into areas which would prove very damaging to the nation. But that is the threat made by Donald Trump when questioned by Chris Wallace, and a reminder that if things are bad now, they could get much worse.









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Sunday, July 19, 2020

"Negroes"


I didn't wake up this morning and think "I believe I'll defend Roger Stone today."

And I won't. The race of an individual does not justify dismissing him (or her) or his (or her) comments. However, that is not why Roger Stone is being criticized after, as reported by The New York Times, he

was speaking on the “The Mo’Kelly Show," a program based at a Los Angeles radio station and hosted by Morris W. O’Kelly, known as Mo’Kelly.

On the show, Mr. O’Kelly questioned the role that Mr. Stone’s relationship and proximity to the president played in the commutation of his sentence.

The host asked: “There are thousands of people treated unfairly daily, how your number just happened to come up in the lottery, I am guessing it was more than just luck, Roger, right?”

Mr. Stone, who was speaking by phone, responded by muttering: “arguing with this Negro”; the beginning of his sentence was hard to hear. It sounded as if Mr. Stone were not speaking directly into the phone, but rather to himself or someone in the room with him.

When Mr. O’Kelly asked him to repeat what he said, Mr. Stone let out a sigh, then remained silent for almost 40 seconds. Acting as if the connection had been severed, Mr. Stone vehemently denied that he used the slur.

“I did not, you’re out of your mind,” Mr. Stone told the host....

Mr. O’Kelly continued the interview after the awkward exchange.





The host was right to complain “All of my professional accolades, all my professional bona fides went out the window because as far as he was concerned, he was talking and arguing with a Negro.” Unfortunately, he added that he was 

“disappointed and dismayed that in 2020, that’s where we are.”

“It’s the diet version of the N-word, but as an African-American man, it’s something I deal with pretty frequently,” he said. “If there’s a takeaway from the conversation, it is that Roger Stone gave an unvarnished look into what is in the heart of many Americans today.”

The Times reporters wrote also "The slur that Mr. Stone used was commonly used to refer to Black Americans through part of the 1960s, but for decades it has been considered offensive."

"Offensive" may seem an unassailable description unless one is aware 

The word Negro was adopted from Spanish and Portuguese and first recorded from the mid 16th century. It remained the standard term throughout the 17th–19th centuries and was used by such prominent black American campaigners as W. E. B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington in the early 20th century. Since the Black Power movement of the 1960s, however, when the term black was favored as the term to express racial pride, Negro has dropped out of favor and now seems out of date or even offensive in both US and British English. The 2010 US Census questionnaire was criticized when it retained the racial designation Negro as an option (along with Black and African Am.). The Census Bureau defended its decision, citing the 2000 Census forms, on which more than 56,000 individuals handwrote “Negro” (even though it was already on the form). Apparently, Negro continues to be the identity strongly preferred by some Americans..

In the 1950s and 1960s, relatively tolerant Americans would refer to black people as "Negroes" rather than as "colored people," which bears an intriguing similarity to today's "people of color."  Understood historically, the Times' "Roger Stone Uses Racial Slur on Radio" is narrow-minded.

It's understandable that Mr. O'Kelly would want to deflect attention from one of his controversial interview subjects, who apparently made a highly questionable remark. He may want to interview Stone again someday.

However, Roger Stone doesn't speak for me and possibly not for "many Americans today."  He didn't speak for me in the 1960s when  he employed dirty tricks for Richard Nixon, he didn't speak for me when he lied about colluding with Wikileaks to rig a presidential election, and he doesn't speak for me today when he is dismissive of his interviewers.

Tolerant whites invoked "Negroes" instead of "colored people" long before "people of color" became the culturally sophisticated term. Then, not all white people were alike, and neither are we all alike now. That's something both The New York Times and Morris O'Kelly would do well to understand.



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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Dry Run


On Tuesday, Oregon governor Kate Brown asked- to no avail- acting Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to take armed federal agents off the streets of Portland. They are "exacerbating the situation," Brown noted, "like adding gasoline to a fire."

Similarly, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler recognized their presence "is an absolute abuse of federal law enforcement officials" sent "purely for political purposes."

If  Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cucinelli is being honest- clearly open to debate-Brown and Wheeler probably are right. Cucinelli claims DHS, acting without local or state approval, may send more federal agents "to places like Portland." It's clear that the Trump Administration is instigating what reporter Charles Warzel (closely covering the continuing protests in Portland) calls "as close up to the line as you can get to actual war without live rounds."





Were that the sole motivation, it would be unbecoming even a President worthy of impeachment and removal from office. However


It's a prelude to either Election Day or  (more likely) a second Trump term.


This is more serious than it even seems. The aforementioned Warzel explains

Have you heard of Riot Ribs? There’s a guy named Lorenzo — he lives in Portland and came out one night grilling ribs for the protesters. He got tear gassed. He’s become something of a monument to the community. He Built a 24-hour rib restaurant — as much as you can eat. A local collective called The Witches created a fund-raiser for him while different houseless people helped to turn Riot Ribs into something bigger. Lorenzo set up résumé building programs and programs to get people showers and job interviews. It’s been a huge community effort. That's what people don’t see as much. You could go to Justice Center at night and provoke feds or you could eat ribs. It was this beautiful surreal community. Last night, police cleared out Riot Ribs.

There are two significant aspects to this. Local police, who have arrested five members of the operation, are trying to run it out of business because it is feeding the demonstrators, as well as helping the community.   The police moved in after twelve days, doing so only once it became clear that the federal government was sweeping innocent people off the streets.

It appears, therefore, that despite fervent opposition from Portland's mayor (and Oregon's governor), the locals are cooperating with the secret police- or soldiers- from Homeland Security.  We don't know for sure; this doesn't appear to be information that the media, especially cable news, is interested in.

It's bad enough that the federal government has turned lawless in an effort to determine how much authoritarianism the American people will accept. If municipal and/or state police departments, in Oregon and elsewhere, collaborate with them, the streets of many American cities will be rife with law enforcement officers, military and/or vigilantes aiming to turn the USA into an authoritarian state.



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Friday, July 17, 2020

Broken Windows


In 2015, Vox published an article summarizing 16 reasons crime may have plummeted across the nation since 1984. The reporters concluded that the impact on the crime rate of a vew was difficult to determine.

But Tucker Carlson is convinced he knows. At 32:24 of the video below, he states

One of the most impressive things that anybody in this country did in decades was to completely rehabilitate the City of New York, which many thought was lost. City leaders in the early '90s embraced policies that began with the "broken windows" theory of policing that actually worked. The city got safer, it got cleaner, more people moved there, the homicide rate collapsed completely, New York became one of the safest urban areas in the country, if not the hemisphere.





During this period, crime dropped throughout the USA, although, immediately a little more in New York City than elsewhere. However, NYC adopted other changes in policing and, as the Vox article reviews, many other factors played a role.

Still, New York did adopt the broken windows approach as Carlson observed. Vox notes that the impact of such a reform is hard to determine not only because other factors were not held constant but because different jurisdictions apply it in different ways.

So let's check in to a residential area of Tulsa, Okahoma, where on June 13 two black males, aged 15 and 13, were walking in the middle of a road with no sidewalks when they were stopped by members of the Organized Gang Unit of the police department. In a Facebook post, the department stated that the confrontation occurred near a housing complex with "a documented increase in criminal activity involving both juveniles and adults." The teens officially were stopped for "improperly walking along the roadway" by walking in the street in the direction of traffic.

In a video captured by a neighborhood resident

One of the officers is seen leaning into the car. After a few seconds, the officer can be seen kicking into the car. It is unclear what is happening inside of the car. Moments later, that officer throws the teen, who is handcuffed, out of the car and onto the sidewalk. The officer leans over the teen and points his finger into his face as he lays on the ground. At that point, the video ends.

The June 4 encounter with the two teens occurred near a housing complex that has had “a documented increase in criminal activity involving both juveniles and adults” recently, police said in Friday’s Facebook post.

The post includes a list of 10 police calls that it says occurred within a half mile of where the two teens were stopped. The calls include armed robberies, a quadruple shooting and a gang member’s drug trafficking arrest two days before the encounter.

There is no indication that these two fellows had engaged in criminal or delinquent behavior. They were walking down the street; jaywalking. Moreover, a neighborhood resident

also confirmed to CNN that she and other residents of the neighborhood regularly walk on the paved road rather than in the grass because there is no sidewalk and the grass is rarely cut.

"This is the place where young people come all the time. I walk all the time, and most of the time I come right there in the street and walk around," Corbitt said. "Because you see those bushes and weeds over there, I'm not walking through all of that. There's no real sidewalks here until you get to the parking lot so what is jaywalking really?"

But, hey, give us some more of that broken windows policing, Tucker. We leave Oklahoma and travel almost 1400 miles northeast to New York City, NY, in which:


Reportedly, the homeless man was charged with violent felony assault on the police officer.  That's an example of the New York City law enforcement tactic lauded by Tucker Carlson. Harass homeless people riding on public transit, or juveniles for jaywalking and maybe their older brothers for possessing marijuana for personal use (as New York City police officers did during their stop and frisk days). If you want to pit police against the community and boost those crime rates, you've found your formula




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