Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Abnormal GOP Normal

 As Newsweek has reported

Trump said in a Truth Social post on Monday that unspecified "conclusive" information proved the FBI had "buried" an investigation into a laptop previously owned by Hunter Biden, the son of 2020 election winner President Joe Biden. The former president claimed that the FBI's alleged "interference" into the election could only be remedied by him being declared the winner almost two years after he lost, or by the "minimal solution" of calling a new election that could lead to his reinstatement.

"This is massive FRAUD & ELECTION INTERFERENCE at a level never seen before in our Country," Trump wrote. "REMEDY: Declare the rightful winner or, and this would be the minimal solution, declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Election, immediately!"

(Warning: sarcasm ahead.)

I can't tell you (or Filipkowski) how impressed I am than no GOP member of the House or the Senate leaped to support a new election in 2020- which might invalidate the victories won by some of them that November.

Neither did any of them condemn Trump's tweet. That is simply not done. The previous day, George Stephanopoulos on This Week interviewed Republican senator Roy Blunt of Missouri about a report from ABC reporter Dan Pierre.  Stephanopoulos asked "You heard former President Trump in Pierre's piece saying he did nothing wrong. Do you agree with that? Was he right to take these documents to Mar-a-Lago?"

In pertinent part, Blunt responded "Well, I think we need to know more about the documents."  When Stephanopoulos interjected with "but, Senator, that's," Blunt stated "If there's a problem, the Oversight Committee should have been told."

In one way or another, Stephanopoulos asked the Senator six more times whether he agreed that Trump should have turned the documents over to the National Archives, Blunt would concede only "I understand he turned over a lot of documents. He should have turned over all of them. I imagine he knows that very well now as well." Stephanopoulos noted "well, he hasn't said that. He said he did nothing wrong."

Notwithstanding a strong effort from a journalist committing journalism, Blunt refused to concede that Donald Trump shouldn't have taken government documents, nor did he express support for the FBI performing the job it does regularly.  

The public is continually assured by the media- and even by some Democrats- that there are mounds of Republican Senators and Representatives appalled by Donald Trump who fail to criticize him only because they are afraid of the repercussions by the former President and his base.

This is, and has been, hogwash . Roy Blunt is retiring and does not have to fear a primary challenge from a Trump-endorsed opponent.  Surely, he is someone Bill Stepien, if asked, would consider part of "Team Normal" rather than "Team Crazy."  No one would mistake him for Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, or even his Missouri colleague in the US Senate, Josh Hawley. He even avoided the GOP go-to, "Hillary." Yet, he would not bring himself to agree that Trump was wrong to take documents to Mar-a-Lago.

He would not do so because he is unconvinced that Donald Trump did anything wrong. Blunt is fine with what the 45th President did because Trump is a Republican, Blunt himself is a Republican, and you are not. Aside from "but her emails," he is today's Republican Party. evolved from Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6).


Monday, August 29, 2022

Tweet of the Day- A New Explanation for Bias

Soledad O'Brien periodically posts short videos on Twitter and derives conclusions from limited information without context. However, some of her tweets are spot-on.

This is not a good thing, in most quarters is considered racist, and the offending individual, who is not a student, has been banned from all athletic activities on the BYU campus.

The university official seen in the video O'Brien posted stated

At last night's game, there were some egregious and hurtful slurs that were directed at members of the Duke University women's volleyball team. I'm the Athletic Director and I'm accountable for whatever happens at all our athletic events. 

He says there were "slurs" (plural) directed at "members" (plural) of a volleyball team. However, reportedly there was one particular slur ("ni**ers") directed at one individual.  There is little doubt there was only one victim because, in the same statement, Holmoe remarked

This morning, I visited with the young athlete on Duke's team and her coach. If you would have met her, you would have loved her. But you don't know her and so you don't feel that way. As children of God....

As O'Brien commented, "she was not harassed because BYU students 'don't know her.'" Nor is it pertinent that "had you met her, you would have loved her."

If they had met the athlete, Rachel Richardson, they might still have racially harassed her.  It was not lack of familiarity which impelled the spectator to use a racial epithet, allegedly repeatedly. She was harassed because the individual is a bigot infused with an absence of decency and/or manners, perhaps stoked by a sense of entitlement. It is not lack of familiarity.

There are a few major bromides in American politics. One is that when an individual says "apology," it is not an real apology, for if one is expressing actual regret, there is no need to say "I apologize." One other is that when an individual claims to be "responsible" or "accountable," he or she is nothing of the sort. Tom Holmoe's response is pitiful.


Sunday, August 28, 2022

Once The Game Ends, A Social Conscience

We'll assume, as the two colleges involved have, that most of the relevant facts of this incident are as thus far reported. In a state in which people famously oddly abstain from coffee, alcohol, and voting Democratic. The Washington Post has reported

A spectator was banned from Brigham Young sporting venues after a Black player on Duke’s volleyball team became the target of racial slurs during a game Friday at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah. Duke’s next match was relocated because of the incident.

The incident was first reported by Lesa Pamplin, an attorney in Fort Worth, who tweeted that her goddaughter, Duke outside hitter Rachel Richardson, was called a racial slur “every time she served” during a match between Duke and BYU on Friday. Pamplin also said Richardson, a sophomore from Ellicott City, Md., who is the only Black starter on the team, was “threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus.”

Richardson’s father, Marvin, told the Salt Lake Tribune that a spectator in the BYU student section repeatedly shouted the slur but was allowed to remain at the event, even after Duke players complained to referees. He said a police officer was later placed on the Duke bench.

Do you know who else was allowed to remain at the event? The players from Duke University, although they were not given a vote.  It would have taken a little courage but someone of authority- the coach, the athletic director, perhaps even the university Dean- could have pulled the players from the court. If a message against racism or bigotry- or, specificall,y racial slurs- needed to be sent, that would have had the greatest impact, especially because it would have been immediate.

Instead, Vice President and Director of Athletics Nina King said "First and foremost, our priority is the well-being of Duke student-athletes. They should always have the opportunity to compete in an inclusive, anti-racist environment which promotes equality and fair play."

Ms. King is sufficiently woke that she pleads for an "anti-racist" environment, yet did nothing to respond in real time to apparent bigotry.  We don't know whether she was informed of the situation during the game. If not, she should have been; that's why God invented cell phones.  Person or persons at Duke University failed.

Admittedly, at the moment of crisis, failure is an option. However, given an opportunity to think about it

NBA superstar LeBron James voiced his support for Richardson replying to Pamplin's tweet with, "@LesaPamplin, you tell your Goddaughter to stand tall, be proud and continue to be BLACK!!! We are a brotherhood and sisterhood! We have her back. This is not sports."

Sorry, LeBron. This is sports; it is precisely sports.  Given the choice between condemning egregious behavior as it occurred or continuing the sporting event, individuals of any authority decided the show must go on.  The environment that day did not successfully "promote equality and fair play" but, what the heck, there is a game to be won (or lost).

Additionally, even without James' urging, Rachel Richardson will "continue to be BLACK!!!" She really has no choice, just as those of are white have had no choice. If James meant something else- perhaps "continue to speak out against racism"- he needed to say so. Otherwise, we are left with a superstar urging a victim of bigotry not to change her race. Being constructive is a better option.

This event may lead to something positive. More likely, King Solomon's observation "there is nothing new under the sun" will be vindicated, and that includes the dominion of sports.


Friday, August 26, 2022

A Step Forward

With clarity, Joseph Briggs and Alec Phillips of Goldman Sachs summarize the student loan policy changes announced by President Biden as

(1) federal student debt forgiveness up to $10k per borrower—and up to $20k per borrower in many cases—among households with income up to $250k; (2) a continuation of the pause on current student loan payments through year-end, after which payments will resume; and (3) an income-driven repayment plan that would cap monthly payments to 5% of a borrower’s discretionary income (from 10% under an existing program).

As an investment bank and financial services company, Goldman Sachs is far less interested in moral hazard, closing the racial wealth gap, or other social implications of the policy than in its impact on the economy, including upon the national debt. The analysts conclude

While the program will ultimately increase the level of federal debt by roughly the amount it reduces student loan balances, the only near-term impact on Treasury cash flows will be a roughly $35bn annualized increase in student loan payments next year as payments resume, but at a level somewhat lower than the pre-pandemic trend due to debt relief.

This not being abortion, criminal justice, race, or religion and politics, about which I have original thoughts, I shall defer to experts and others for wisdom, and not  not only about the debt or inflationary impact of the President's policy.

Twitter liberals and the White House have been ridiculing Republican Representatives, among them insurrection-friendly Vern Buchanan, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and the cruelly named Markwayne Mullen for criticizing Biden's college loan semi-forgiveness a couple of years after they themselves received Payment Protection Plan grants or loans. Under-appreciated are the poor design and administration of that program. Admittedly, individuals the likes of Kanye West, Tom Brady, Jared Kushner, Reese Witherspoon, Gores Vitech Holdings, and the more than 400 country clubs and golf resorts who profited are not complaining. I suppose I wouldn't, either.

Business professor, author, and impressive media personality:

In a response Galloway applauded..... 

Colleges now won't reduce costs, but they probably wouldn't have, anyway. As "Marmalade" and Galloway obviously realize, the main problem is not that individuals go into debt to attend college but that college is much too expensive. It simply costs too much, and doesn't have to.

The predators have gone largely unscathed not because of a bipartisan conspiracy of silence.  Democrats ignore the problem because the academic community is a core supporter, part of the loosely linked Hollywood- academe- legal community triad. Republicans will not ignore the problem once they find a way to exploit it politically.

If there is a parallel between this policy and the PPP, there is also a parallel to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Former insurance company executive Wendell Potter, who believed the reform would be a marginal improvement to the status quo, in early 2020

maintained that a public option plan would not ultimately “get us where we need to be,” arguing that the fundamental problem with the current health care system isn’t about access, but rather about cost.

“We all theoretically in this country have access to health care, so that’s not the main issue,” he said. “It’s that we can’t afford it — even those of us who have health insurance can’t afford to get the care that we need.”

We have access to health care and to higher education, if only we could afford them. Yet, as the constitutional republic we have, with its innumerable flaws, is superior to the alternative, so, too, was the ACA superior to its predecessor.  (There is a sale at Costco this month on commas.)  President Biden's response to the college debt crisis is inadequate, probably inefficient, and could have been improved, but is better than nothing.


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

A Snowball Gaining Momentum

Inevitable perhaps, but not predicted:

A quarter of a century ago, I ran across a survey which indicated that a plurality of American voters believed life begins at conception, were fairly equally split between the pro-life and pro-choice perspectives, yet were solidly opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade.

I was perplexed that a large number of people believed life begins at 0 months of pregnancy but were perfectly fine with a court decision that put serious restrictions upon a state's ability to limit abortion.  Legal experts soberly lectured the public that rescinding Roe would not rescind the right to an abortion but merely return the matter to the states. Admittedly, it is now more than two decades since I viewed that poll and I don't remember one in the interim which asked the same set of questions. Still, the American public should be given credit for understanding what most lawyers, constitutional law experts, and I did not understand. 

Stern, a writer at Slate on courts and the law, links in another tweet to an article by Slate justice correspondent Dahlia Lithwick, who notes of "this week alone" a

Louisiana woman, Nancy Davis, who will be forced to carry a skull-less fetus for the next 6 months, and the 16-year-old in Florida deemed too immature to abort, but seemingly just fine to be a parent. Republicans devoted last month to calling a child rape victim who was denied abortion care in Ohio and flown to Indiana for treatment a liar. We're hearing horror stories about women denied access to methotrexate, which is used to treat certain types of cancer, because it can be used for abortion. We're hearing about pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for Plan B and oral contraceptives. We're hearing about the Texas woman who carried a dead fetus for two weeks, and the women who cannot be treated for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages until their own lives are at risk are now the stuff of daily reporting, as are the certifiably insane responses from Republican candidates, including Michigan's GOP candidate this week, who argued that 14-year-old rape victims should be forced to carry to term because the forced birth will provide a "bond" that is "healing."

Worse, these cruel responses to Dobbs probably are not certifiably insane.  Lithwick notes that Republicans may be doing "all this out in the open" because of "the inextricable need to perform religious extremism in many ways." More ominously, she suggests 

The other, possibly more depressing explanation, is that the forced-birth faction of the GOP, like the Trumpists who primary mainstream Republicans, believe that while they may not have the full authority of the democratic will on their side, they will always have the force of violence and vigilantism to fall back on. They aren’t as worried about a blue wave in November, propelled by angry women, and concerned fathers, and voters of color, and moderate Republicans, because law is increasingly being enforced by rogue state officials who are not in fact very bothered by the demands of popular majorities or even by electoral outcomes, should they even opt to concede to the existence of electoral outcomes.

The GOP is in a more enviable position than hosts and pundits at MSNBC and CNN realize. Republicans may regain their momentum, cruise in November to a majority in the House and the Senate and increase their majority control of Statehouses across the nation. Or they may not- and still demand, with the threat of violent mobs behind them, to remain in power.  At a minimum, the U.S, Supreme Court has unleased a terrible threat to reproductive justice and we are very likely nowhere near the bottom.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Tweet of the Day- Marsha and the IRS

Blackburn claims 

I've heard from so many people in our creative community, they're in the music industry, they're authors, they're very concerned about this because they know that they're organized as an LLC and pass through entity. Their gross is much higher than what their actual income, their profit is and they know that these are audits that are going to be coming to them.

A pass-through limit, the Limitation in Excess Business Losses, was originally enacted in the Republican Party's 2017 tax law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and was scheduled to expire after 2025. It was extended by a year in the American Rescue Plan, signed by President Biden in 2021.  The Inflation Reduction Act would extend it two years.

According to senior fellow Steve Rosenthal at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

The provisions hurt “rich guys” who were using business losses to take tax write-offs against bonuses, salaries and investment income....

The limitations can theoretically apply to any pass-through business that runs up a big operating loss each year. But real estate businesses — which can use rules around depreciation to consistently rack up big losses on paper — are likely among the most affected categories, according to Jeffrey Levine, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant based in St. Louis.

“It’s a really big deal for uber-wealthy people with a ton of real estate, and then the occasional business that loses a ton of money every year,” said Levine, who is also chief planning officer at Buckingham Wealth Partners.

Of the $80 billion for the IRS in the Inflation Reduction Act, only $45.6 billion is designated for enforcement.. And the 87,000 number probably is considerably exaggerated because it

appears to come from a 2021 Treasury Department estimate of the level of hiring needed to maintain IRS efficiency and keep up with retirements and other staff declines. However, the actual number of new IRS agents that will be hired because of the Inflation Reduction Act remains to be seen.

However many new agents are hired, the IRS has

an estimated $600 billion “tax gap.” (The tax gap is the difference between what people owe in taxes and what they actually pay.) To do that, the agency plans to focus on high-earners, large corporations, and complex partnerships. That’s potentially good news if you’re a household making less than $400,000 a year or a small business. But, if you are wealthy, you could see some increased audit activity in the coming years. Although, it’s hard to know what higher audit rates will look like, partly because IRS audit rates have historically been low.

That's bad news for Marsha Blackburn and her donors from the corporate sector, including those of real estate, who have contributed $829,787 to her from 2017 to the present.  However, she does get to frighten her constituents, and the satisfaction of knowing she has.


Saturday, August 20, 2022

Both Sides Now

Liz Cheney is not an enigma. We know who she is and has been; also, what she wants. It's not quite Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, yet:

In her concession speech Wednesday night, Cheney stated "I believe deeply in the principles and the ideals on which my party was founded. I love its history. And I love what our party has stood for. But I love my country more." For the prosecution, Charlie Pierce responded

Really? Its whole history, especially since 1965 or so? Did you love your party's Southern strategy? Did you love the Gingrich days? Did you love its turn toward voter suppression, crackpot economics, and the waterboard? Did you love it during the Schiavo fiasco, when GOP members of Congress threatened judges the way that so seems to bother you now? Did you love all the tactics employed in Florida, which included the possibility of fake electors, that put your Pops into the vice presidency so he’d be there to turn the country into a country that tortures? Or is it only Cheneys who can traduce the Constitution?

Well, O.K.  However, Cheney can remain the conservative she prides herself in being and yet be no hypocrite. Pierce challenges her to prove her mettle by supporting Democrats in critical races in Ohio, Wisconsin, Georgia, or Pennsylvania.  (My vote would be Ohio.) But that's expecting a little much for Cheney who, after all, is still a Republican. Whatever credibility she has left as a Republican- or even as a small "i" independent voice- would be erased.

Voting rights, however, is an issue inextricably- and for Cheney thus far, inconveniently- intertwined with her effort to prevent the triumph of authoritarianism at home.   Cheney needs to signal her support either for reconsideration of the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act or opposition to the independent state legislative doctrine the High Court has taken up in Moore vs. Harper.  Sometimes, "the Supreme Court follows the election returns."

That may not happen, but it's hard to overestimate the congresswoman's contribution to the destruction of Donald J. Trump and the threat he poses to democracy.  The past couple of weeks, we applaud Attorney General Merrick Garland for his decision to order the search of Mar-a-Lago. As far as is known, this had nothing to do with the attempted coup of January 6, 2021.

Nonetheless, it was related to the investigation into that coup.   Neither Garland nor anyone else in his department is unaware of the hearings into the insurrection, nor the further doubts it has raised about commitment of the former President to the Great American Experiment. to survival of the nation as a republic. Donald Trump has been wounded, slightly or significantly.

The betting here is that wound would not have been inflicted without Lynne Ann Cheney. She gave the committee bipartisan credibility it would have lacked if Adam Kinzinger were its lone Republican.  There is real doubt that sans Cheney there would have been any Democrat (nor Kinzinger) willing to play the attack dog- and if there were, that she or he would have been as effective. There would have been Democratic members satisfied to send the Democratic street the message that Donald Trump is a very bad man- and to leave it at that.

LIz Cheney won't leave it at that. This isn't to suggest that she's a friend to Democrats or even that her commitment to a fully Democratic society is complete.  For Democrats, retention of both congressional chambers is primary, defeat of Donald Trump secondary. Cheney wants to destroy Donald Trump. And that's why, at the moment, this tweeter has it right:


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Criminal Justice Ignorance

Do you remember those heady days two years ago? It was those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer when millions hit the streets to protest racial injustice in the administration of law enforcement. They weren't sound and fury signifying nothing, though they were sound and fury with relatively little impact.

I thought about them while watching the video, featured in my last post, which included well over six minutes of conversation between Don Lemon and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, which followed a short introduction by the CNN host. They agreed that Donald Trump broke the law and should be punished; also, that the ex-President is a very bad man, a conclusion unavoidable with any objective individual, let alone a center-left media personality and a lawyer who went to prison because of Mr. Trump.

Yet, they agreed also that an ex-President, in possession of classified information which could be compromised by a fellow prison inmate, should not be incarcerated.  Admittedly, they believe also that, if prosecuted and convicted, be may well be placed into home confinement. However, they were not particularly perturbed by their conclusion that Donald Trump very likely will not land behind bars (aside from the Library Bar at Mar-a-Lago) for offenses which would land any other American in prison.

Or would the latter individual? Donald Trump thus far has been treated by law enforcement with kid gloves. The temptation, indulged in by Messrs. Lemon and Cohen, is that this is privilege unavoidably afforded an ex-President. But we don't know that all of this is a privilege, or at least an advantage, afforded only to the leader of the Free World.

Enforcement of federal laws differs widely from that of state laws or local ordinances. It takes longer, with the government content only with evidence far in excess of what is necessary for prosecution of state or local offenses.

That results in penalties falling disproportionately upon Latinos and especially African-Americans.  It's not intentionally discriminatory, of course;  For a variety of reasons, state and local violations of the law are most common among blacks and, to a lesser extent, Latinos than among non-Hispanic whites. Members of aggrieved minority groups therefore get the short end of the stick.  Were they as professionally successful in modern America as whites, they, too, would be in a position to commit white-collar crimes and savor the benefits of involvement in the relatively fastidious and lenient federal law enforcement and criminal justice systems.

In light of the tumultuous days of summer/fall of 2020, Lemon and Cohen should at least recognize that individuals under federal investigation, or Donald Trump specifically, are conferred advantages unavailable to the fellow possessing illegal drugs for personal use, or for shoplifting, or for any other relatively minor state or local offense.

These considerably eclipse the advantages in the justice system gleaned from being white per se. You'd never know that, though, from Lemon, who was head over heels about the black lives protest two years ago after the murder of George Floyd. Nonetheless, as a show host with a large audience nationally, it's critical he understand the impact of a dual justice system, one in which suspected violators of federal law are dealt a far better hand than those alleged to have violated state laws or municipal ordinances. Yet, he is not even a little ill at ease that Donald Trump may evade the justice those latter scofflaws, many of them African-American, must endure. 

Our judicial system harms African-Americans disproportionately. If one is to take the proper lessons from the summer of 2020, he needs to know that the reasons go beyond, and outstrip, racism.


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

No One Is Above The Law, Except When He Is

In an interview on Monday night , CNN's Don Lemon and former  try to assure you that the former President cannot be incarcerated. And that "no man is above the law" (and as for women?) 

Lemon tells Cohen

So in saying that, people really get upset with me when I say "of course Donald Trump, everyone should pay the consequences if they break the law," right, that no one is above the law. Merrick Garland, the Attorney General said that as well.  But are Presidents above the law? You can't- you cannot put a former President in jail. You cannot put him in the general population. You can't do it.

You cannot put a former President in jail (probably meaning "prison"). However, no one is above the law. Right; got it.  An individual may conceal or destroy government documents, obstruct a federal investigation, or commit espionage and deserve to be imprisoned but if the most high-profile person in the USA does it, he cannot be sent to prison. Got it.

After noting he agreed with Lemon, Cohen remarked" I believe that what they will do is they will put him in a home confinement situation that is so severe that will be- especially for him, it will be like solitary confinement.."  

Especially for Donald Trump? If one must be confined to a home, a resort hotel such as Mar-a-Lago might be a nice option.   

Lemon then emphasized that with the information a former President he has, including those in the files seized at "his home," he cannot be incarcerated. Then followed an impressive climax, Lemon speaking first, Cohen responding:

Considering what you went through with the former President, do you believe that Presidents are above the law?

Absolutely not. 

Maybe Cohen meant that Presidents should not be above the law.  But in the words of the almost legendary Randy Newman, "I could be wrong now- but I don't think so." Cohen was trained, and practiced as, a lawyer, presumably is careful with words, and was asked whether Presidents are above the law, not whether they should be.

And it's clear that Cohen and Lemon are wrong. They made a legitimate case that, if convicted of heinous penalties, a former President wouldn't- and shouldn't- be locked up as any other American would be. But, alas, Presidents are "not above the law." 

Nonetheless, they are wrong. By their own argument(s), a President is "above the law." They're not the only ones making this argument- or, rather, blithely asserting it without explanation or evidence. Former federal prosecutors on CNN and MSNBC repeat the same bromide. However, Lemon and Cohen argued that Donald J. Trump will never see the inside of a jail cell. But, somehow, "nobody is above the law."

Sunday, August 14, 2022

A New Low, Them A New Low Until The Next One

Deceive (Merriam-Webster):  the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid


Can anything be any more deceptive than this from a Fox News host?


It's also a great display of cowardice. If Kilmeade had any backbone, he would own the image he had shown and defend it, even though it was the head of Judge Bruce Reinhart on the body of Jeffrey Epstein, who was with Ghislaine Maxwell at that moment. If he had any integrity, he would apologize. If he had at least a sense of shame, he would move on and forget it even happened. Instead, he couldn't- or wouldn't- resist the lure of deceit and, after relentless criticism on social media....


Brian Kilmeade did the nearly impossible. On Day 2, he exceeded the frightfully high bar for deceit he had set on Day 1.  He did not apologize, concede error, or ignored the controversy. He did the worst- he lied again. He lied about his lie.  He is truly a credit to Trump TV.


Saturday, August 13, 2022

Getting Out Over Their Skis

In July 9, when Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida was recognized as a more-than-viable alternative to Donald Trump in a presidential nomination contest, The New York Times reported

“I never thought I would say this, but it if was Biden and Trump I don’t think I would vote,” said Gretchen Aultman, a 74-year-old retired lawyer in Colorado who voted for Mr. Trump in 2016. “I liked Trump’s policies, but he was so abrasive and unpolished, and having him as president was just tearing the country apart.”

There are many Gretchen Aultman(s) in the Republican Party (actually, only one other Gretchen Aultman in the USA, it would seem, but you get my point). . They agree with Trump's views and values, probably would even vote for him in a general election, but do not long for another four years+ of turbulence. and tumult and a likelihood of domestic violence. If given a Trump-like alternative (such as the far-right and seemingly mean and vindictive DeSantis), would opt for the alternative in a primary, possibly denying Trump the nomination.

Nonetheless, a mere five weeks after Ron DeSantis as future GOP standard-bearer became all the rage, many individuals (including thoughtful media figures) have lost  perspective:


In five weeks, conventional wisdom has pivoted from "DeSantis and Trump might have quite a battle against each other" to "if this raid is a flop, it's Trump, for sure."

It will not be a flop and will go beyond archiving infractions. However, even if it doesn't, it is 23-25 months or approximately 104 weeks until the 2025 Republican convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

A lot can happen in that time. Only seven weeks ago, the US Supreme Court had not overturned Roe v. Wade and set GOP governors and legislatures free to enter women's uteruses.  One of the two plotters of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks and current head of Al Qaeda was still alive. And there had never been a raid on the home or resort facility of a current or former USA President.

So, America, let's cool our jets.... at least until the mid-term elections are over.


Friday, August 12, 2022

A Possible Workaround

Uh-oh. This guy speaking on Newsmax is wrong but....


The Newsmax guest is former U.S. Representative Michael Grimm of New York State, who contended in relevant part

That's why we have a classification system. And that's why those plenary powers of the President of the United States include literally just saying right now "this is declassified. This is classified. This is declassified." That's all he has to do. He doesn't even have to fill out paperwork. If he says it's declassified, it's declassified.... And who can possibly say that as he walked out, ten minutes before he was no longer President, he didn't simply say "those 15 boxes, those 20 boxes, are now declassified.?"

Grimm is not a lawyer, though that's probably irrelevant because lawyers are often wrong, GOP lawyers often disreputable. For what it's worth, he's very likely wrong about a President's legal discretion on classification. Bradley Moss, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who works on national security cases, told Politifact

Follow-through is required.

He had to identify the specific documents he was declassifying, he needed to memorialize the order in writing for bureaucratic and historical purposes, and he needed to have staff physically modify the classification markings on the documents themselves. Until that was done, the documents, per the security classification procedures, still have to be handled, transmitted and stored as if they were classified.


Richard Immerman, a historian and an assistant deputy director of national intelligence in the Obama administration, disagreed and said that, while the president has the authority to declassify documents, there’s a formal process for doing so, and there's no indication Trump used it.

“He can’t just wave a wand and say it’s declassified,” Immerman said. “There has to be a formal process. That’s the only way the system can work,” because otherwise there would be no way of knowing who could handle or see the documents.

“I’ve seen thousands of declassified documents. They’re all marked ‘declassified’ with the date they were declassified,” Immerman said... 

"Trump could say we're declassifying this until he's blue in the face, but no one is allowed to touch those records until the markings are addressed," said Moss, a frequent Trump critic on Twitter.

But there are ways around the law and

Kash Patel, a Pentagon chief of staff during the Trump administration, told Breitbart News in May that the documents previously recovered from Mar-a-Lago had been declassified by Trump, but their markings were not updated. “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves,” Patel said then.

“It’s information that Trump felt spoke to matters regarding everything from Russiagate to the Ukraine impeachment fiasco to major national security matters of great public importance — anything the president felt the American people had a right to know is in there and more,” Patel said then, adding that he was with Trump when the then-president said, “We are declassifying this information.”

Patel, who declined comment on the documents this week, told Breitbart that the “White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.”

It does mean the information wasn't declassified. However, it does not mean that the President didn't intend for it to be declassified or claim that he did, especially because

A source who had discussed the matter with Trump but was not authorized to reveal those conversations said the former president wasn't concerned with formal protocol.

"We’ve told him there’s a process and not following it could be a problem but he didn’t care because he thinks this stuff is dumb,” the source said. “His attitude is that he is the president. He is in charge of the country and therefore national security. So he decides.”

Therefore, Trump's attorney could argue that the President believed that his power was limitless and "so he decides." And that he decided (all of) those documents should be declassified.  Counsel might maintain that it was his intent, and his order to subordinates, that the material be declassified. It was not his fault that it was not. Don't blame him.

Many of the documents thus remained classified. That, too, may have been a strategically brilliant move on the President's part.  While a document is classified, it is of greater value than otherwise- more valuable to the USA government and to any foreign governments which might be interested in the information it includes.

Whatever he took and whatever he claims, Donald Trump knows more about the process than do Michael Grimm and Trump's faithful and misguided followers.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Oh, Those Evil Jews

On August 10, 2022 Majority Report with Sam Seder became Majority Report without Sam Seder, with his co-host, Emma Vigeland, conducting a bash Israel session with a fellow (hereafter, "fellow") unnamed in this clip. (Given his ignorance, he's better off unnamed, anyway.)

On Tuesday, Ilhan Omar squeaked through a primary challenge from what Vigeland and fellow referred to as a "centrist," Don Samuels. Given that Omar is progressive and probably the most virulent anti-Israel member of the House of Representatives, this greatly concerned Wednesday's hosts. Fellow stated at 2:01 of the video below

it's another in a pattern of these attacks. Samuels implied that Omar was alienating certain communities, particularly Jewish folks, which I think is a smear on Ilhan Omar and I think it is a smear that is being weaponized against progressives all over the place.

How could anyone possibly believe that Omar has alienated the Jewish community? In January of 2019, Omar

defended her 2012 tweet in which she accused Israel of “evil doings” and said that Israel had “hypnotized the world.”

“Those unfortunate words were the only words I could think about expressing at that moment,” Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview aired Wednesday night.

The tweet, which said that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,” came in reaction to Israel’s November 2012 operation against Hamas in Gaza.

In February of 2019

Omar responded to a tweet from journalist Glenn Greenwald, who posted about House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatening to punish Omar and another congresswoman for being critical of Israel.

Omar wrote back, "It's all about the Benjamins baby," a line about $100 bills from a Puff Daddy song.

Soon afterward, Omar invoked the old stereotype of Jews possessing a dual loyalty when she remarked

I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association), of fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policies?

Omar also has accused Israel of being an "apartheid regime," which is standard fare for critics who don't know what constitutes apartheid. However, it is an effective smear because it simultaneously accuses Israel of being evil and of copying the regime of apartheid South Africa. It thus perpetuates the inaccurate and dangerous perception of much of the anti-Semitic left and anti-Semitic right of Jews as constituting a race.

Worse, Vigeland adds

Ilhan is particularly susceptible to it because of her bravery in speaking out against the Israel lobby and Israeli apartheid in Palestine, right, and because of her status as someone born out of the United States; came here as a refugee and being Muslim. I mean, straight up there is a bigotry that it- and being a black woman- all of those things intersect in this toxic stew of bigotry that makes her an easy target for these kinds of folks...

Oh, give me a break.  On two occasions in early 2019, the House passed a resolution rebuking Omar, yet on neither occasion was her name mentioned. You may not believe extraordinary courtesy was prompted by her "status as someone born out of the United States," becoming "a refugee and being Muslim."  You also might believe that I could beat Kevin Durant one-on-one.

No bigoted screed is complete without the imputation of racism, so beginning at 7:11 the fellow comments

I think anybody who takes money from that particular wing of Zionist lobbying groups like AIPAC basically, like, anti-labor, pro-settlement folks like that's the modern Jim Crow wing of the Democratic Party.

Sorely tempted to make the bad even worse, Vigeland adds

Yeah, you're a supporter of apartheid if that is the case and it's just being exported instead of being here.... it's an extension of white supremacy. I mean, let's be real and especially in with the news of over a dozen Palestinian children being murdered....

Israelis as practitioners of white supremacy is a particularly repugnant theme. In a guest column in the Los Angeles Times three years ago, Hen Mazzig noted

Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, was not established for just one type of Jew but for all Jews, from every part of the world — the Middle East, North Africa, Ethiopia, Asia and, yes, Europe.

He explains

I am Mizrahi, as are the majority of Jews in Israel today. We are of Middle Eastern and North African descent. Only about 30% of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi, or the descendants of European Jews. I am baffled as to why mainstream media and politicians around the world ignore or misrepresent these facts and the Mizrahi story.

The race-obsessed left now can add Emma Vigeland to the likes of others. Mazzig writes

The likes of Women’s March activist Tamika Mallory, Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill and, more recently, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) falsify reality in their discussions of Palestinians’ “intersectional” struggle, their use of the term “apartheid” to characterize Israeli policy, and their tendency to define Israelis as Ashkenazi Jews alone.

I believe their misrepresentations are part of a strategic campaign to taint Israel as an extension of privileged and powerful white Europe, thereby justifying any and all attacks on it. This way of thinking signals a dangerous trend that positions Israel as a colonialist aggressor rather than a haven for those fleeing oppression. Worse, it all but erases the story of my family, which came to Israel from Iraq and Tunisia.

For most of history, the Mizrahim have been without sovereignty and equality in the Muslim world. In Iraq, despite being “equal citizens” on paper, my family experienced ongoing persecution. The first organized attack came in 1941, the brutal Farhud, a Nazi-incited riot that claimed the lives of hundreds of Jews and forced the survivors to live in fear. My great-grandfather was falsely accused of being a Zionist spy and executed in Baghdad in 1951. My mother’s family was permitted to emigrate that same year, but with only one suitcase.

Any erasure of the Mizrahi experience negates the lives of 850,000 Jewish refugees just like them, who, even in the successor states to the Ottoman Empire of the early 20th century, were treated as “dhimmis,” an Arabic term for a protected minority whose members pay for that protection, which can be withdrawn at any time. Demographic ignorance also works to deny the existence of almost 200,000 descendants of Ethiopian Jews who were threatened by political destabilization in the early 1990s and airlifted to Israel in a daring rescue operation.

Those "dozen Palestinian children being murdered" in Vigeland's telling? That loathsome disingenuousness awaits another post. 

A significant portion of the anti-Semitic right pretends race is no factor in American society while anti-Semites on the very far left continually perceive race where it is not. That's not the way to find common ground.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Tweet of the Day- Defunding the F.B.I.

Sometimes the best tweets are sarcastic:

Vice reports 

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert released a video stating that she’s “pissed.” She described the actions as “totally un-American” and “Gestapo crap" and added “the department of injustice needs to be cleaned out.” Tagging the FBI in a tweet, she wrote, “the GOP majority must defund all forms of tyranny throughout Biden’s government.”

Fringe-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene unsurprisingly also got in on the action. She has tweeted an upside-down American flag—a symbol traditionally associated with distress—and wrote “DEFUND THE FBI!”

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced his plans to investigate the person he believes to be behind the search.


Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., another close Trump ally, called for the "complete dismantling and elimination of the democrat brown shirts known as the FBI."

"We must destroy the FBI," he wrote in a subsequent tweet.

Some lesser-known Trump supporters went even further than that. Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini called for his state to "sever all ties with DOJ immediately."

Two Democrats- Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush- in the United States House of Representatives have publicly supported defunding the police. They are clear and explict that communities must be rid of all police.

But now it seems there are three House Republicans- Boebert, Greene, and Gosar- who want to dump the primary federal law enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Bitecofer understands that journalists will be loathe to put Republicans on the spot by asking if they want to defund the nation's premier law enforcement force.  However, Democrats have a responsibility- to lead the Beltway media where it does not want to go.

The media cannot be expected to raise issues Democrats themselves appear to be avoiding.  And so pundits and politicians of a liberal bent must force the issue and accuse Republicans of defunding the FBI. Make Republicans deny that they want to defund police; when they're denying, they're losing, as House Majority Leader Clyburn recognizes.


Of course, most Republicans don't want to eliminate a police force. But neither are there more than a very few Democrats who ever have suggested that police forces should be disbanded. Yet, there are prominent Democrats- especially Clyburn, largely responsible for the presidential nomination of Joe Biden- who have publicly spanked unnamed progressive Democrats for wanting to do so.

It's not too much to expect Clyburn and the others to do to Republicans what a few Democrats did to members of their own party. They accused Democrats of wanting to leave the nation's citizens unprotected against dangerous criminals, or at least seeming to do so. Now let's see them turn the argument against the GOP.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Kick Me

"This is terrible. More, please."  CNN reports

New York Mayor Eric Adams has claimed that some migrants are being "forced" on buses from Texas, as 14 more asylum seekers arrived in the city Sunday on another bus sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Fifty-four asylum seekers arrived in New York Friday on board a bus from Texas, according to the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Abbott's office indicated that New York is now a designated "drop-off location for the busing strategy as part of the governor's response to the Biden administration's open border policies overwhelming Texas communities," according to a statement released Friday announcing the arrival of the first bus.

"It's unimaginable, what the governor in Texas has done," Adams told reporters Sunday. "When you think about this country, a country that has always been open to those who were fleeing persecution and other intolerable conditions, we've always welcomed that. And this governor is not doing that in Texas, but we are going to set the right message, the right tone, of being here for these families."

On Monday, Adams called it a "mean and cruel thing."   Thus:

True to the "kick me" sign affixed to Mayor Adams' posterior

Manuel Castro, commissioner of the mayor's immigrant affairs office, told CNN New York is a right-to-shelter city, so anyone who needs shelter may receive it. However, the city has "exhausted" its regular shelter space, so it has leased additional space at hotels, he said.

"These are families, these are people," Castro said. "They have a right to be here as asylum-seekers and New York is here to welcome them. They frankly need a lot of support. They've traveled a long way to get here."

Adams repeated Monday he hoped to be in touch directly with the White House about federal assistance on the matter.

"Right now, we are at a state where we must get to the assistance from the federal government," Adams said.

The Biden administration has "been in regular contact with Mayor Adams," White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan said, and the administration is "committed to working with them as we do effectively with other local leaders through FEMA funding and other support".....

Adams issued an emergency declaration last week to "rapidly procure shelter and other services" for people seeking asylum in the city. Those who want to stay in New York will go to shelters, and volunteer groups will be helping "those who want to go somewhere else" to travel to another location, the mayor said.

Score one- one big one- for the mayor of Texas, in a hotly contested re-election race in a conservative state as he

claimed in a statement Monday, though, that the asylum seekers freely chose to go to New York, "having signed a voluntary consent waiver, available in multiple languages, upon boarding that they agreed on the destination."

"What's horrific is the thousands of illegal immigrants overrunning and overwhelming our border communities with populations smaller than a New York City borough, and Mayor Adams is hypocritically upset about welcoming a few dozen into his sanctuary city," Abbott said. "If the mayor wants a solution to this crisis, he should call on President Biden to take immediate action to secure the border—something the President continues failing to do."

A fierce critic of the Biden administration's immigration policies, Abbott began sending hundreds of willing migrants on buses to Washington, DC, earlier this year as an affront to the administration. Abbott's office has said that "to board a bus or flight, a migrant must volunteer to be transported and show documentation from DHS."

More than 5,100 migrants have arrived in Washington from Texas on more than 135 buses, according to the governor's office.

"In addition to Washington, D.C., New York City is the ideal destination for these migrants, who can receive the abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about within the sanctuary city," Abbott said Friday.

His state has been busing people to Washington, DC and New York City "to provide relief to our local partners," Abbott said in the statement.

In some instances of GOP extremism- such as President Trump's policy of family separation at the border- cruelty is the point. Not in this case, though. Governor Abbot has no problem with New York City providing emergency services, ongoing social services, or amnesty for the immigrants he has sent to New York City.

With Eric Adams' assistance, Greg Abbot has made his point:  Texas is for Texans, New York City and other liberal cities are for immigrants, with sanctuary and a full panoply of, as conservatives put it, "free things."

Obeidallah is right. NYC can't fight this on its own, and the federal government must intervene to address an appalling policy established to set one state against another. In the absence of action by the Department of Justice, Governor Abbott will successfully convince voters that conservatives believe America is for Americans, not for outsiders, whatever their need; and that conservatives are men of action, not men who will take it up that part of the anatomy where NYC Mayor Eric Adams has the "kick me" sign.


Racehorse Genes

Credit the discovery to Michael D'Antonio.  He conducted a series of interviews with Donald J. Trump in 2014, of whom Donald Trump Jr....