Thursday, March 30, 2023

Good Anger



It was not a quiet day in the corridors of the House of Representatives as Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a 

former middle school principal, yelled at his GOP colleagues Wednesday and repeatedly called them “cowards” for not supporting stricter gun measures in the wake of the Nashville school shooting.

The exchange between Bowman, D-N.Y., and Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., occurred just outside the House chamber and was widely circulated on social media after several journalists posted video of it.

Bowman, a former principal at Cornerstone Academy for Social Action in the Bronx, can be heard yelling: “They’re all cowards! They won’t do anything to save the lives of our children at all!”

He continued: “Pressure them, force them to respond to the question: Why the hell won’t you do anything to save America’s children? Let them explain that all the way up to Election Day on 2024.”

Several lawmakers walk by Bowman without engaging, before Massie stops in front of him and says there has never been a shooting at a school where teachers were allowed to carry guns.

“More guns leads to more death,” Bowman responds. “Look at the data. You’re not looking at any data.”

Massie, who in 2021 tweeted a holiday photo with family members holding guns and text asking Santa to “please bring ammo,” then asks Bowman whether he would co-sponsor legislation he introduced last year to repeal a federal ban on guns in school zones. Massie has pointed to data from a controversial gun researcher to argue that such bans are ineffective.

At one point in Wednesday's exchange, Massie can be heard telling Bowman to “calm down.”

“Calm down? Children are dying," Bowman responded. "Nine-year-old children. The solution is not arming teachers."

The argument followed the murder on Tuesday of three children and three adults at Covenant School, an elementary school affiliated with the Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Nashville. Individuals such as Tennessee governor Bill Lee and First Lady Jill Biden called for "prayer(s)" (because of course they did) and within a few days- perhaps even before you are reading this- the pursuit of gun safety legislation will have paused yet again.

However, if there is any chance of forestalling the onset of apathy, it may be with such confrontations as Representative Bowman precipitated. "Cowards," he calls members of Congress who won't address the reason- availability of firearms- innocent individuals are so easily killed in bunches.

He is right, of course, because many of them are cowards, afraid to stand up to varied gun lobbyists. 

Nonetheless, motivations may be complicated or diverse, though conservatives may not like the latter characterization.  You may be familiar with US Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia, who labeled the 1/6/21 attack on the Capitol a "normal tourist visit," co-sponsored in late February a bill to make an AR- 15 style weapon the National Gun of the United States, and a few days later handed out two months ago lapel pins in the shape of an assault weapon. Lovely.

The congressman also is the owner of the $25 million business known as the Clyde Armory gun store. Maybe he opposes gun safety because he owns the business or owns the business because he supports the right to arm criminals and disturbed people. But it's no coincidence his extremist legislative priorities dovetail neatly with his fulsome financial interests.

And then there are the true believers such as Massie. He tried to block President Trump's coronavirus relief bill, was the sole vote in the entire Congress against extending legislation blocking guns built using 3-D printers, and has tried to dismantle the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency. Even the mainstream media wouldn't try to pass this guy off as a "moderate Republican."

Though Massie may have an economic motive in fervently opposing gun-safety legislation, a coward, or even one of those wackos Republicans imply all mass shooters are, he appears to be a far-right true believer. He is best known

for posting a photo to social media that shows his family holding powerful guns, just four days after a teenager killed four students at Oxford High School in Michigan. In that attack, the shooter used a gun his father had bought as an early Christmas gift for his son.

"Merry Christmas!" Massie wrote as he posted his photo, adding, "ps. Santa, please bring ammo."





Cowardly, self-serving, and/or deeply misguided, the GOP will fight to the death (literally in a way) to make sure that murder by gun remains an ever-present danger. The least Democrats can do, as Jamaal Bowman has done, is to call out those Republicans who are committed to this deadly enterprise.




Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Yes, We Can Kill Even More


As Barack Obama periodically declared, "yes, we can!"

After incidents of mass killing at schools, thoughts turn toward curbing the great American killing machine. However, in nearly every case, no gun safety legislation is enacted. Yet, one state has acted promptly following the massacre at the school at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville.  Hannah Schoenbaum of the AP reports

North Carolina residents can now buy a handgun without getting a permit from a local sheriff, after the Republican-controlled state legislature on Wednesday overrode the Democratic governor’s veto — a first since 2018.

The House voted 71-46 to enact the bill, which eliminates the longstanding permit system requiring sheriffs to perform character evaluations and criminal history checks of pistol applicants. The Senate overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto in a party-line vote on Tuesday.

The permit repeal takes effect immediately. Cooper and Democratic lawmakers warned it allows more dangerous people to obtain weapons through private sales, which do not require a background check, and limits law enforcement’s ability to prevent them from committing violent crimes.

But bill supporters say the sheriff screening process is no longer necessary in light of significant updates to the national background check system, and that the permit requirement didn’t serve as a crime deterrent.


If that sounds like a rationalization, well, of course it is. Before Governor Cooper's veto was overwritten, Schoenbaum had noted

Although bill supporters say substantial updates to the national background check system have rendered the requirement duplicative, Democrats warn that its repeal would create a dangerous loophole. Background checks are not mandatory for private gun sales or exchanges between individuals, which require only a sheriff-issued permit.

Gun-control advocates and Democratic lawmakers argue the sheriff’s evaluation is sometimes the only barrier preventing someone with a history of violence or suicidal ideation from obtaining a gun. Its repeal, they said, would enable more people to acquire firearms from unlicensed private sellers — those not obligated to verify that the buyer can legally possess a gun — online and at gun shows.

Asked on Wednesday if the United States Senate will consider gun safety legislation, Senate Minority Whip John Thune said "It's just premature to talk about it." The Republican majority of the North Carolina legislature begs to differ- it's never premature to encourage mass murder.



Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Off-Key


It was the good, the bad, and the ugly when while addressing the Small Business Administration Women’s Business Summit

US President Joe Biden on Monday (local time) termed the school shooting at Nashville which claimed the lives of six people as “sick” and said that the US has to do more about gun violence and stressed that “it’s ripping the soul of this nation.”

Biden’s remarks come after a person killed six people, including three children at Covenant School in Nashville.

He also called on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban and said that the shooter in Nashville reportedly had two assault weapons and a pistol.

So the President urged Congress to pass an assault weapons ban.  High-capacity magazines, allowing allowing users to get off numerous rounds of ammunition in an instant, have no legitimate recreational use. They are used to kill lots of people, quickly.  Admittedly, banning muskets, as intended by the Framers, could be violative of the Second Amendment.

Nevertheless, it was bad when Biden added

It’s just sick. You know, we’re still gathering the facts of what happened and why. And we do know that, as of now, there are a number of people who are not going to, did not make it, including children. And it’s heartbreaking. A family’s worst nightmare.

Commission of a horrific act we could not imagine ourselves or our loved ones does not qualify the act as sick. It would be more accurate to characterize it- as Democrats assiduously avoid doing- as evil. We probably will never know for sure because assailant Audrey Hale was killed by police but

The shooter had drawn detailed maps of Covenant School, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said in a press conference. Drake said that the suspect in Monday’s shooting was armed with three firearms, CNN reported.

Drake further said that the shooter entered the school by shooting through one of the doors. The shooter was once a student at the school, CNN reported citing initial findings from police.

According to CNN, John Drake said, “We’ve also determined that there were maps drawn of the school in detail of surveillance, entry points, et cetera. We know and believe entry was gained through shooting through one of the doors, is how they actually got into the school.” (ANI).

As I'm writing (typing) this, Nashville Police is revealing that Hale possessed seven weapons bought- legally- at five different stores.

This was not an impulsive act but one which was carefully planned. Thus, one cannot suggest (as Biden did) that the murderer was "sick" simultaneously from disregarding the possible impact of her identification as transsexual.  I wouldn't go there- but neither would I blithely refer to an evil act as sick.

But while Biden should be lauded for reminding the public that assault weapons should not be possessed by non-civilians, he ought to be condemned for flippancy at the planned event.  The conservative daily rag New York Post notes

My name is Joe Biden. I’m Dr. Jill Biden’s husband,” the 80-year-old president began his remarks at an East Room gathering of women-owned businesses.

“And I eat Jeni’s ice cream — chocolate chip. I came down because I heard there was chocolate chip ice cream,” he said.

“By the way, I have a whole refrigerator full upstairs,” Biden added at his only scheduled public appearance of the day. “You think I’m kidding? I’m not.”

After addressing the murders in Nashville, the President

returned to the subject of ice cream with another shout-out to a rep from Jeni’s, an Ohio-based chain with shops across the country, including a location near the White House.

“The businesses represented in this room stretch across industries, from restaurants to architectural firms to hardware stores, plus Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. And by the way — by the way, it is splendid,” Biden gushed.

“If I were allowed to take you upstairs, you got a whole freezer full of Jeni’s chocolate chip ice cream,” Biden went on — closing his eyes slightly as if to reminisce about taking a bite.

“You know it’s pretty dull when you’ve been in public life as long as I have and you’re known for two things: chocolate chip ice cream and Ray-Bans sunglasses, but what the hell,” the president added.

Joe Biden does very good stand-up. However, whatever the original purpose of the gathering, this occasion called for solemnity and was not the time to be jocular.  As I'm writing (typing) this, Nashville Police is revealing that Hale possessed seven weapons bought- legally- at five different stores. This highlights both the horrid nature of the act committed and the need to ban the sale, transfer, manufacture, and importation of these deadly weapons.


 

 

Monday, March 27, 2023

Authoritarian Allies


It's an interesting, not rhetorical question, asked by one tweeter: "why are we letting one man systematically destroy our nation right before our eyes?"

Among the many answers is that it's not only one man (or woman).  Note that

A group of lawmakers led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) visited the D.C. jail Friday where Donald Trump supporters have been held for rioting at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The delegation consisted of House Oversight Committee members investigating the supposed unequal treatment of Jan. 6 rioters Greene describes as “political prisoners"...

After touring the facility for about two hours with about a dozen colleagues, including two Democrats, Greene told reporters the visit confirmed her view that there’s a double standard.

“There’s a very different treatment for pretrial Jan. 6 defendants,” she said.

The two Democrats from the committee, Reps. Robert Garcia (Ca.) and Jasmine Crockett (Texas), agreed that Jan. 6 defendants received different treatment ― except they said it was better treatment.

Meanwhile

A trio of House Republican committee chairs say the House of Representatives could soon take up legislation to strip state and local prosecutors of the authority to prosecute former presidents in response to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s potential indictment of former president Donald Trump.

In a letter to Mr Bragg, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, and House Administration Committee Chair Bryan Steil rejected arguments the Manhattan prosecutor gave in response to the trio’s demand that he give evidence before their panels about the ongoing investigation into Mr Trump.

Mr Bragg’s probe could result in the twice-impeached ex-president becoming the first former US chief executive to face criminal charges over hush money payments he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016.

Last week, Mr Bragg’s office slammed the 20 March demand for his testimony as “an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution” which only arose “after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged [Congress] to intervene”.

“Your letter treads into territory very clearly reserved to the states. It suggests that Congress’s investigation is being ‘conducted solely for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to ‘punish’ those investigated,’ and is, therefore, ‘indefensible,’” said Leslie Dubek, who is Mr Bragg’s general counsel, in a response sent to the chairmen on Thursday.

There is a story here beyond the obvious ones about criminality and the separation of powers.

Grossly lacking prescience, Politico on the day after last year's mid-term elections reported

As the night wore on, Republicans began to express concern that the results were not what they were expecting, or hoping for. Senior party officials vented that in too many contests, candidates had embraced positions adopted by Trump that were too far outside the mainstream.

With Trump poised to announce a 2024 bid, some said the party needed to have a post-election reckoning — and a discussion about whether the GOP needed to turn to someone else.

How times have changed- and in less than five months.  Tim Alberta in The Atlantic finds

Piety aside, raw political calculation was at work. Trump’s relationship with the evangelical movement—once seemingly shatterproof, then shaky after his violent departure from the White House—is now in pieces, thanks to his social-media tirade last fall blaming pro-lifers for the Republicans’ lackluster midterm performance.

And yet, as the perspective of white evangelicals has takes a slightly nuanced (not what they're know for) turn, House Republicans are fronting for Donald Trump's authoritarian schemes.

Only a few seconds into the video below, Michael Steele remarks "I need to start with a question for today's Republican Party. What the hell's wrong with you?

You will get the answer to that question from few pundits or journalists and from even fewer Democratic politicians. But the problem is that, whether they actually agree with Donald Trump- the jury is out- House Republicans really like what Donald Trump is doing. They really, really do like it, and want to make sure everyone knows it.





Saturday, March 25, 2023

A Fitting Representation



This year is the 30th anniversary of the siege in which

Federal agents raided the compound about 10 miles east of Waco on Feb. 28, 1993. They were trying to arrest sect leader David Koresh for stockpiling illegal weapons, but Branch Davidian members had been tipped off about the raid and a shootout ensued. Four agents and six Davidians were killed that day, leading to what would become a 51-day standoff.

As the weeks dragged on, federal authorities said they were becoming increasingly worried about the Davidian children possibly being abused. Then on April 19, 1993, after an FBI negotiator shouted over a loudspeaker for Koresh to lead his people out and “be a messiah, not a destroyer,” military vehicles began ramming the buildings and spraying tear gas inside.

A few hours later, flames were seen spreading through the compound. Authorities said the Davidians died by suicide by setting the fire and shooting themselves. Survivors have denied there was a suicide pact, saying military vehicles knocked over lanterns and ignited the blaze.

Nearly a dozen Davidians went on trial; all were acquitted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges. But five were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and weapons charges, and three were convicted on weapons charges.

It was thus Donald Trump's modus operandi to choose Waco for his rally on Saturday evening. In a commentary appearing in June, 2020 in The Washington Post, history professor Peniel E. Joseph noted

President Trump’s original decision to stage his first public rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa — the site of the worst anti-black racist massacre in American history — has deep roots in political leaders’ strategic displays of political solidarity with racists and those who support racial terror. The vocal minority of Never Trumpers — including such notable conservative intellectuals as George Will, Max Boot and William Kristol — proclaim their loyalty to a different Republican Party, that of Ronald Reagan.

Reagan, the iconic former B-movie actor, California governor and two-term president, ushered in “Morning in America” through trickle-down economics that paved the way for the huge wealth gap the nation suffers from today.

Black America remembers Reagan much differently than apologists who claim him as a politically conservative figure who stood above the racist din of some of his more unseemly supporters.

As the Republican nominee for president in 1980, Reagan staged an Aug. 3 rally at the Neshoba County Fair in Mississippi, an event that was weighted with racist symbolism. Neshoba County was the site of the brutal murders of the black activist James Chaney and white civil rights workers Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman.

Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman were killed during 1964’s Mississippi Freedom Summer, a historic effort by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to bring democracy and racial justice to the Magnolia State. The interracial trio of activists went missing June 21 outside of tiny Philadelphia, Miss. Their bodies were recovered Aug. 4 in an earthen dam, and they have become enshrined as three of the most visible martyrs of the civil rights era.

The fact that two white men were murdered by a combination of racist law enforcement and white vigilantes lent their deaths more weight in the public’s imagination. Freedom Summer continued, with activists emboldened, rather than fearstruck, by acts of racial terror orchestrated by Mississippi officials. Almost 1,000 white volunteers bolstered the SNCC staff’s efforts to organize Freedom Schools, literacy and civics classes, voter registration and integrated libraries.

Reagan knew all of this and still held a raucous rally in Neshoba County, where he declared his allegiance to “states’ rights,” a dog whistle fully understood by the white people in attendance who embraced the conservative former California governor and actor as a political hero straight from central casting.

There is a straight line in the Republican Party from the man Archbishop Desmond Tutu labeled "a racist, pure and simple" to Donald J. Trump. Ever eager to stir up racial animosity, the 45th President of the USA, updated for the 21st century, is a proper heir to the patron saint of the GOP. It will be Donald J. Trump in the flesh in Waco, Texas. But the ghost of Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6) will join his Republican Party in attendance.



 




Friday, March 24, 2023

Escalating


The New York Times reports

In an overnight social media post, former President Donald J. Trump predicted that “potential death and destruction” may result if, as expected, he was charged by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, in connection with hush-money payments to a porn star made during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Hours later, the district attorney’s office discovered a threatening letter addressed to Mr. Bragg containing white powder — later determined not to be dangerous — in its mailroom...

Around midday on Friday, a threatening letter containing a suspicious white powder was found in the mailroom for the district attorney’s office, which is in the building where the grand jury meets, a spokesman for the Police Department said.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said that Mr. Bragg had informed the office that the powder was immediately contained “and that the N.Y.P.D. Emergency Service Unit and the N.Y.C. Department of Environmental Protection determined there was no dangerous substance.” In that message, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, the office’s leadership assured prosecutors that “we are well-prepared for any possibility.”

The envelope in which it was sent was addressed to Mr. Bragg, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The person said that inside the envelope was a single piece of white paper with a brief message containing the typewritten words “ALVIN: I AM GOING TO KILL YOU” followed by 13 exclamation points.

The comments from Mr. Trump, made between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on his social media site, Truth Social, were a stark escalation in his rhetorical attacks on Mr. Bragg ahead of a likely indictment on charges that Mr. Trump said would be unfounded.

“What kind of person,” Mr. Trump wrote of Mr. Bragg, “can charge another person, in this case a former president of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting president in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a crime, when it is known by all that NO crime has been committed, & also that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our country?”

“Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truely hates the USA!” the former president wrote.



I don't know whether Donald Trump is a psychopath, which is an informal term rather than an official clinical diagnosis and refers in psychiatry to someone with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). Common symptoms which Trump exhibits are behavior which conflicts with social norms, lack of empathy and remorse, and manipulating and/or hurting others. But they include also an inability to distinguish between right and wrong and disregard for safety and responsiblity.

I don't believe the ex-President generally possesses the latter two but your mileage may vary. That illustrates the point that none of us can responsibly diagnose him without a personal examination.

Nonetheless, if we cannot prove with our limited knowledge that Trump is "a degenerate psychopath," we do know that he truly hates the USA, which indicates that at least part of his threatening tweet constitutes psychological projection. In a tweet given little attention, last October 30 Trump posted on his Truth Social

The Witch Hunt continues, and after 6 years and millions of pages of documents, they've got nothing. If I had what Hunter and Joe had, it would be the Electric Chair. Our Country is Rigged, Crooked, and Evil - We must bring it back, and FAST. Next stop, Communism!

Just as New Year's Eve is Amateur Night, so is sending white power to one's antagonist while threatening "I am going to kill you" in all caps followed by multiple exclamation points.  As Donald Trump could attest to, this is not how La Cosa Nostra and other professionals do it.

Nevertheless, somehow in some way at some time this will escalate into the kind of violence the ex-President will savor. It's tempting to say that Trump won't be satisfied until one of his acolytes murders at least one critic or opponent of his.  However, he still will not be satisfied, his bloodlust rising to a new level.





Thursday, March 23, 2023

Same Player, Same Tune


Yes, we are going again- only not in the way the Speaker of the House wants us to believe.

We've seen this play before because they've run this play before.

  In September, 2015 E.J. Dionne Jr. noticed

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the likely successor to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), told Fox News’s Sean Hannity explicitly on Tuesday night that the Clinton investigation was part of a “strategy to fight and win.”

He explained: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.”

The Republican-led House hasn’t been particularly good at governing, but perhaps governing has never been the point. Why govern when there’s a future election to influence?

Then, governing wasn't the point because there was a future election to influence. And influence they did. In June, 2017 NBC News reported

Endless investigations. The biggest scandal since Watergate. Coverups. An inability to govern. A possible constitutional crisis. These were all arguments that Donald Trump made against Hillary Clinton in the closing days of the 2016 presidential election.

They brought the receipts, recalling 

October 28 in Cedar Rapids, IA: “As you’ve heard, earlier today the FBI after discovering new emails is reopening their investigation into Hillary Clinton… The investigation is the biggest political scandal since Watergate and it’s everybody’s hope that justice at last can be delivered.”

November 2 in Miami, FL: “If Hillary Clinton were to be elected, it would create an unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis. Haven’t we just been through a lot with the Clintons, right?”

November 2 in Orlando, FL:: “Hillary is likely to be under investigation for many years, probably concluding in a criminal trial.”

November 4 in Atkinson, NH: “She'll be under investigation for years. She'll be with trials. Our country, we have to get back to work.”

November 4 in Wilmington, OH: “Hillary has engaged in a criminal massive enterprise and cover-ups like probably nobody ever before.”

November 5 in Reno, NV: “There's virtually no doubt that FBI Director Comey and the great, great special agents of the FBI will be able to collect more than enough evidence to garner indictments against Hillary Clinton and her inner circle, despite her efforts to disparage them and to discredit them. If she were to win this election, it would create an unprecedented constitutional crisis. In that situation, we could very well have a sitting president under felony indictment and ultimately a criminal trial.”

November 5 in Denver, CO: “Her current scandals and controversies will continue throughout her presidency and we will make it honestly, look, it's gonna be virtually impossible for her to govern. Now, the Republicans have talked very tough and the Democrats. It's gonna be just another mess for another four years, folks. A mess. We've got to get back to work, right? I mean, we have to get back to work.”

November 6 in Minneapolis, MN: “First thing you should do is get rid of Clinton. Hillary Clinton will be under investigation for a long, long time for her many crimes against our nation, our people, our democracy, likely concluding in a criminal trial.”

November 6 in Moon Township, PA:  “The investigations into her crimes will go on for a long, long time. The rank and file special agents at the FBI won't let her get away with these terrible crimes, including the deletion of 33,000 emails after receiving a congressional subpoena. Right now, she's being protected by a rigged system.”

On October 27, 2016, the day before Trump began his barrage of statements claiming that election of Hillary Clinton would bring unprecedented chaos to American government, Trump trailed his opponent by 5.4 points in the Real Clear Politics average. Approximately 24 hours before the polls opened, the deficit had dropped to 2.5 points, critically assisted by the announcement on 10/28  by FBI director Jim Comey that he had found a new trove of suspicious Clinton emails.

Comey figuratively plunged the knife into the heart of the Democrat's campaign on October 28. After the induced hysteria had subsided, he pulled the knife out by announcing on November 7 that they were emails already examined. These actions only enhanced the argument, central to his campaign, that Trump made on November 2 that "If Hillary Clinton were to be elected, it would create an unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis."

This was the culmination of the complaint of Majority Leader McCarthy 13-14 months earlier that Hillary Clinton not only was "untrustable." Left unstated but implied was the chaos of Benghazi and the subsequent hearings would become the norm, with the chaos of endless committee hearings, if she were to become the nation's chief executive.

And now we have the same, but with increased institutional power and influence, Kevin McCarthy trampling over the fundamental concept of separation of powers by threatening investigations into a "radical DA" who would dare enforce the law against a private citizen, Donald Trump.

McCarthy boasted in 2015 that hearings into Clinton's role in Benghazi had brought her poll numbers down. Those hearings laid the groundwork for the overwrought, largely trumped-up (pun intended) e-mail scandal, exploited by an irresponsible media. Dionne then recognized that tax money "was going out the door primarily to affect the chances of one particular candidate for president." It's more than six years later, but as Chris Cillizza explained ten months ago, Kevin McCarthy is owned lock, stock, and barrel by Donald J. Trump.


 




Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Aside From Everything He Said, He Is Right


What are they teaching at the William and Mary Law School?

Matt Gaetz graduated in 2007 from the law school at William and Mary in Virginia, passed the bar exam, became a lawyer, and appears to know little about criminal proceeding. In the video available below, he states

If I were governor of Florida, I would not allow any Floridian to be hauled before some sort of Soros-backed prosecutor in some blue city over politics. And I wouldn't make an exception to not protect the President of the United States.

Ron DeSantis should be standing in the breach to stop any sort of extradition of President Trump from the State of Florida and the fact that he's not doing so puts every Floridian at risk to be the subject of false allegations.


During the 2022 election cycle, the social justice organization Color of Change PAC endorsed Alvin Bragg for Manhattan District Attorney. A few days later, George Soros gave one million dollars to the group, which reportedly spent approximately half a million dollars to get Bragg elected. Thus, the connection between Bragg and Soros is very much indirect. Gaetz- and other Republicans- could attack Color of Change for considering race as a factor in its support of candidates, but that would require Republicans to confront the issue of race which, contrary to elite opinion, they generally are reluctant to do.

It's misleading and very clever for Gaetz to refer in this context to "President Trump" rather than "ex-President Trump" or "Donald Trump." We learned during the presidency of Donald Trump that he wouldn't be charged with an offense simply because of the bizarre perception that a sitting President could not be charged because, well, a sitting President could not be charged. No one is above the law except when he is.

Of course, we don't know whether Donald Trump is the subject of false allegations because no indictment has been handed down. However, he now is the ex-President, the former President, now a private citizen for the purposes of criminal prosecution.

If indicted, he probably will turn himself in to authorities in New York City. If he does, extradition is a moot point because he will not have been arrested in the State of Florida, which would have exposed him to extradition. Were he to be arrested in his home state and then challenged extradition, Trump would nearly certainly fail in his fight against extradition because the grounds for success are very limited. That would be the case for anyone and even if Representative Gaetz were Governor Gaetz, he would not be able to block return of the defendant to New York State. 

I'm certain that the inability of an alleged offender to block the charging state from getting hold of him never bothered Matt Gaetz before. I am less certain how someone can graduate from a law school and pass the bar exam without understanding that no governor can fight extradition of a resident of his own state who turns himself in to another state without being arrested.

Many cable news lawyers apparently know so little about criminal law, sometimes even going so far as to maintain- with a straight face- that prosecutors are immune to political pressure. However, even by the fairly low standards for these lawyers, Matt Gaetz's evident, though perhaps feigned, ignorance stands apart. Hopefully, William and Mary is not churning out candidates for the profession who are as willing to pontificate about that which they know so little.

It's a safe bet that in any one year, thousands of Floridians already are at the risk of false allegations without an expression of concern from Matt Gaetz These are primarily misdemeanants but- having neither the money nor the power over others as does Trump- the alleged offenders are prosecuted, put onto probation, or even incarcerated. (If you would have guessed this would be a priority of black lives matter protesters, guess again.) Money talks, power shouts, and that will continue to be the case whatever happens to Donald Trump.



Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Probably Not Headed for Divinity School


In my last post, I argued that we could argue whether Lauren Boebert, she of the public display of pious religiosity in the Capitol rotunda, is sincere about her Christian convictions. There isn't too much doubt about the most famous Republican in the country, though:

He could have gone with Psalm 23, "The Lord is My Shepherd" (very relatable) or The Lord's Prayer, referred to by some Catholics as the "Our Father." Alternatively, he might have said that his favorite depends upon how the Holy Spirit moves him at the moment or what he was praying for on that day. Something. 

The congresswoman is a believer- or at least pretends to be- and if she isn't, at least appears to understand the fundamentals of Christian faith. When it comes to Boebert's sincerity, your mileage may vary. But Roger Stone couldn't be this naive, could he?


Donald Trump has rarely if ever even tried to hid he contempt for Christianity.


 


Nor his ignorance of it (and asking for forgiveness is not the purpose of communion). 




Admittedly, Trump couldn't have gone down the "all of them" road. Sarah Palin went there when as a vice-presidential nominee in 2008 she was asked "what newspapers do you read?" "All of them..." It didn't go down well.  

The ex-President probably should have replied "John 3:16" or said "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son." It's not the full verse but enough that everyone would have known what he was referring to because it's the most widely-known verse in the entire Bible. Of course, it may not matter because Roger Stone is not alone among the tens of millions of Trump admirers who would still support him if he said "child molestation is my favorite felony."



Monday, March 20, 2023

"When You Pray, Go Into the Capitol Rotunda"



On a positive note, this certainly beats a family Christmas card with her four sons posing with a firearm:


This actually reflects very coherent Christian theology, aside from one thing. The congresswoman states "there's nothing that you left out, Jesus." As this tweeter notes, prayers are to be made in Jesus' name, not to the Son but to the Father. John 16:23-24 (ESV) reads "in that day, you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." 

Nonetheless, there is a major problem in Boebert's prayer. It is not in her prayer but in the context of her delivery. Jesus Christ did not say "pray to your Father, who is in secret, unless you bring your cameraman along. Rather, as Jesus himself was reported by Matthew (6:5-6, NIV) to have advised

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret .And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Public displays of feeling and emotion, genuine or otherwise, are as common these days as a blade of grass. Behavior at music concerts and the  ubiquity of selfies are a trademark of this "hey, look at me" period in western culture. So we can't know for sure whether Lauren Boebert is insincere.  That's God's decision.

The congresswoman would be wise to heed Paul. However, this being Boebert, she would benefit as much to heed James, step-brother of Jesus, who reputedly stated "if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God...." 




Sunday, March 19, 2023

In the Background



In a post on his social media account, Donald Trump on Saturday morning tweeted

“THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK, “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”

Saturday afternoon, he was back with

“WE JUST CAN’T ALLOW THIS ANYMORE,” he wrote. “THEY’RE KILLING OUR NATION AS WE SIT BACK & WATCH. WE MUST SAVE AMERICA!PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!”

As CNBC noted

Trump’s lawyer Joseph Tacopina was not informed about the possibility of Trump being arrested on Tuesday.

“No one tells us anything, which is very frustrating,” Tacopina told CNBC. “President Trump is basing his response on press reports, and the fact that this is a political prosecution and the DA leaks things to the press instead of communicating to the lawyers as they should.”

The press report Tacopina is complaining about is the report by the press of what Donald Trump is claiming. The ex-President claims for two reasons that the sky is falling. It's a fund-raising tool, but almost anything Trump says or does is motivated by a lust for more money.

In this case, Trump also is trying to intimidate. The conventional wisdom is that the 45th President wants to intimidate Alvin Bragg into choosing not to prosecuting him. 

But Bragg may already know whether he is going to charge Trump or is simply going through the motions. Although the ex-President would like to dissuade Bragg, Trump is as interested in Attorney General Merrick Garland. 

On August 8, 2022 the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a search of the Trump compound at Mar-a-Lago, seven months since we read

Property receipts from the search indicate that at least some of the information confiscated was classified at the highest levels, including top secret/sensitive compartmented information (TS/SCI), intelligence that could reveal how and from whom the United States acquires information from other countries. Media reports also indicate that former President Trump’s lawyers inaccurately told the FBI in June that they had returned all requested classified documents to the government. The property receipts show that the lawyers’ reported declaration was false and that former President Trump put America’s national security at serious risk.



Merrick Garland- at least as of now- has not charged Donald Trump for violations far more serious than that alleged in the Stormy Daniels matter.  Once the search in Florida took place, an indictment generally was thought to be around the corner. Now, the Manhattan District Attorney appears on the verge of announcing an indictment of Trump in a case which is both more difficult to prosecute and which a conviction would carry less prison time than would the classified documents case.

It's past time to observe that the Attorney General is intimidated by the idea of obtaining an indictment against the ex-President. If his fear of pressing charges results in no prosecution, Merrick Garland will go down in history as not only a very bad Attorney General but also a cowardly.




Saturday, March 18, 2023

Woke Awakened


If only:


The genesis and evolution of the term "woke," if one is to read Wikipedia carefully, is complex and confusing.  Thus, it can mean a variety of things, one of which is:

As the Democratic congressman understands, Republicans have abused the term, weaponizing it for strategic advantage. Yet, Joe Biden, though possibly the best president since mid-last century, has made it easy. Joe Biden promised a black woman as his first Supreme Court nominee, and the highly impressive Ketanji Brown Jackson was a very good selection.

Nonetheless, Pete Buttigieg, who was probably nominated so there would be an openly gay individual in the Cabinet, has been a bad Transportation Secretary, at least until recently. Karine Jean-Pierre, black and gay, is out of her element as Press Secretary, the job clearly being too big for her. 

Kamala Harris was a staunch advocate of mass incarceration as California Attorney General and- in the midst of a nationwide wave of demonstrations against (in part) mass incarceration- was deemed the perfect individual for the Democratic Party to place a heartbeat from the presidency. (Can you say "privilege"?) At times seemingly unsure of herself, Harris is strikingly unpopular, yet as V.P.  the leading candidate to succeed Biden someday as the presidential nominee of her party.


 


Republicans don't criticize President Biden or his party because of the immutable characteristics (race, gender, sexual preference) of his appointees or nominees. That would expose them to )largely unjustified) condemnation as racist, sexist, or "homophobic"  by the mainstream media for questioning the safe and easy narrative.

A portion of the mainstream media which would excoriate Republicans for suggesting that highly important federal government positions should not be made because of race, gender, or sexual preference is paradoxically loathe to challenge Republicans directly when they attribute border policies, immigration policies, or financial action (by government or corporations)  to "woke politics" or "woke."

Republican politicians, strategists, and pundits may not understand "woke" in the same way that "Dr. Science, Esq." does. They may not be able to define it.  But they believe that every time a Democrat pats himself or herself on the back for a selection based on inherited characteristics, it is in lieu of merit.  They don't like it and they vote.

 


Thursday, March 16, 2023

History History Repeating Itself




A politics professor and Eurasian scholar, Jessica Pisano, wrote a piece for Politico Magazine shortly after the invasion by Russia of Ukraine.  Perhaps anticipating nonsense such as Hannity and Graham are spewing now, she asked readers to

Consider where Trump and Biden stand on three key issue areas the Kremlin cares deeply about: NATO, political leadership in Ukraine and undermining democracy. Under Trump, there was little daylight between Russia and the United States on these issues.

 Even as Trump’s vocal criticisms may have inadvertently strengthened the alliance, Trump worked to diminish the influence of NATO, reportedly planning to withdraw from it in his second term. As a candidate, Trump had even remarked that, “Maybe NATO will dissolve, and that’s OK, that’s not the worst thing in the world"...

When Zelenskyy beat an incumbent president in a landslide, Trump actually withheld military aid to Ukraine, sending personal emissaries to Kyiv to try to pressure and undermine Zelenskyy in the eyes of Ukrainians by asking him to “do us a favor, though"...

And Biden has worked to protect democracy. Unlike Trump, rather than questioning the integrity of contests his party lost, Biden has spoken forcefully about the close legal scrutiny and fairness of all the 2020 elections. And he has supported congressional efforts to protect the franchise in the United States.

In Trump, Putin had a fellow-traveler. Far from ensuring world peace, the Trump years instead offered Putin a useful pause he utilized to further military readiness and prime the Russian population for a hot war.

She concluded

Far from deterring Putin, Trump did the opposite. Thanks to Trump, Putin was able to take advantage of a period of apparent detente during which Trump actually pursued Putin’s own policies of weakening NATO and democracy and destabilizing the West — leaving Putin free to prepare his war against the free people of Ukraine and their democratically elected government.

The argument that Russia had "a realistic fear" of the ex-President bears a resemblance to two widely held views persisting from the Ronald Reagan era. One is that the Soviet Union folded only because of the fear of President Reagan or of the military buildup (i.e., Pentagon empowerment) he engineered, rather than the commitment of Mikhail Gorbachev to restructure of the Soviet system because it was hopeless.

Contrary to myth, Reagan was not the only American president who helped bring down the Iron Curtain but played a role similar to that of the presidents (Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Carter,) who preceded him and also implemented a policy of containment. 

Nor was President Reagan responsible for the release of the last 52 of the 66 Americans taken hostage by the Shiite government in Iran, evidently as punishment of President Jimmy Carter for having the temerity to allow the deposed Shah of Iran to receive medical treatment in the USA.  After being held for 444 days, those hostages were freed moments after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as President. However, in 2016, the Annenberg Public Policy Center in its fact check noted "experts we interviewed, including those who have spoken directly to the hostage-takers, say the motivation for releasing the hostages then was a hatred of Carter."

Vladimir Putin did not invade Ukraine on President Trump's watch because they were getting what they wanted from Trump, whom they helped elect in 2016 and hoped to see re-elected in 2020. Yet once again, Republicans try to create an alternate reality, a portrait of an ex-President as the tough guy contrasted to a wimpish Democratic president.  A powerful and false message, it never should go unanswered by Democrats.




Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Problem of Kamala Harris


As Business Insider notes (and is discussed in the video from CNN below)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has called Vice President Kamala Harris twice to apologize for an offhand remark about the upcoming 2024 election, but reportedly Harris hasn't called Warren back.

The perceived vice presidential snub came after Warren gave a radio interview in January in which she was dodgy about endorsing Harris as the VP candidate as President Joe Biden signaled his intent to seek reelection, CNN reported.

"I really want to defer to what makes Biden comfortable on his team," Warren told Boston Public Radio when asked about Harris, shortly after enthusiastically endorsing Biden.

She added: "I've known Kamala for a long time. I like Kamala. I knew her back when she was an attorney general, and I was still teaching and we worked on the housing crisis together, so we go way back. But they need — they have to be a team, and my sense is they are — I don't mean that by suggesting I think there are any problems. I think they are."

Within days, Warren issued a statement saying that she "fully" supports a Biden-Harris 2024 ticket "and never intended to imply otherwise," Boston Public Radio reported.

A source close to Harris told CNN that the incident was "pretty insulting."

Insulting? Now it's "pretty insulting" when a Senator states "my sense is they are" a "team." Now it's "pretty insulting" when a Senator who has praised the President, acknowledges what everyone knows- that the choice of a running mate is the prerogative of that President.

But as every pol in the Democratic Party realizes- which evidently no one will admit- there is something "pretty insulting" in this saga. The report continues

Warren, however, has not been able to speak with the vice president since, the outlet reported. Instead, Warren has only communicated with Harris' chief of staff, Lorraine Voles, who returned Warren's call in lieu of the vice president, CNN reported.

Warren is a United States senator, an essential part of a bare majority in the upper chamber of members of the party of the President and of the Vice President. Yet Harris wouldn't call her, leaving the task to her chief of staff, as if to say "I'm too important to listen to her."

If Warren has lost confidence in Harris, she is not alone because

The feud joins a list of other infractions made by those within the Democratic party who have, in the eyes of Harris' staff, snubbed her performance and abilities.

In February, several Democrats from the White House and congress told The New York Times they had lost hope in Harris, who they felt failed to rise to the occasion of her office.

I don't know what the occasion is of the vice presidency, given that the only constitutionally specified duty of the office is to cast the deciding vote when there is a tie in the Senate, which Harris has done very well. However

Months before (February), Biden himself hinted at tensions when he was quoted as telling a close friend that Harris was a "work in progress" in Chris Whipple's book "Fight of his Life," Business Insider previously reported. At the time, according to Whipple, Biden was annoyed that First Gentleman Doug Emhoff had complained about Harris' policy assignments.

Credit Joe Biden for at least recognizing the obvious.  Less credit should be given the vice president, who now won't call a prominent United States senator to complain about a perceived slight and apparently left it to her husband to complain about policy assignments.

Nevertheless, one can credit Kamala Harris with this: she has attitude, only not in a good way. In July, 2020 the American Prospect explained

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a leading candidate to be Joe Biden’s running mate, repeatedly and openly defied U.S. Supreme Court orders to reduce overcrowding in California prisons while serving as the state’s attorney general, according to legal documents reviewed by the Prospect. Working in tandem with Gov. Jerry Brown, Harris and her legal team filed motions that were condemned by judges and legal experts as obstructionist, bad-faith, and nonsensical, at one point even suggesting that the Supreme Court lacked the jurisdiction to order a reduction in California’s prison population.

The intransigence of this legal work resulted in the presiding judges in the case giving serious consideration to holding the state in contempt of court. Observers worried that the behavior of Harris’s office had undermined the very ability of federal judges to enforce their legal orders at the state level, pushing the federal court system to the brink of a constitutional crisis. This extreme resistance to a Supreme Court ruling was done to prevent the release of fewer than 5,000 nonviolent offenders, whom multiple courts had cleared as presenting next to no risk of recidivism or threat to public safety.

Why bother showing any respect for the court-- or for Elizabeth Warren or even Joe Biden, other than to come out periodically and strategically declare her undying admiration for him.  Yet Kamala Harris, selected to be the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee because she was born female and black, feels snubbed or, in the last decade's lexicon, disrespected.

During the period of black lives matter and of the George Floyd protests, Kamala Harris, a powerful, de facto advocate for mass incarceration, was placed on the presidential ticket by the nation's more liberal party. Elizabeth Warren hurt her feelings and won't return her call. Harris is a problem, though one of his own creation, for Joe Biden.  In some way at some point, consequences for the Democratic Party and the nation itself may follow. 


 


Subservient

The husband-wife (or, rather, wife-husband) duo of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and Martha-Ann Alito nee Bomgardner flew an upside do...