Thursday, December 12, 2019

How Far They’ll Go

I didn’t watch the live hearing yesterday in the Senate concerning the FBI report by the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, on his investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign.  According to Dana Milbank at the Washington Post, it was bizarre.

Mr. Horowitz said he found no evidence of political bias, but lots of procedural errors on the part of the investigators.  So therefore the Republicans proclaimed that there was tons of evidence.  They didn’t produce any, but they’re sure it’s all there and that somehow we’re all missing it.  Not only that, lack of such evidence is proof positive that there is a lot of it.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) topped them all, arguing that the failure to find political bias proved there was political bias. “Is not the lack of evidence that you’re talking about itself evidence of bias?” he asked Horowitz.

So when we get around to the trial in the Senate, rest assured that the Republicans will trot out their millinery provided by Alcoa and claim that the conspiracy is so vast and deep that only they — the ones with no evidence whatsoever — are the ones who know the real truth.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Law Schooling

Yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing was as expected: boisterous and boorish on the part of the Republican shills, who displayed not only their fealty to Trump; they also showed how little they paid attention in law school.  They got schooled by one of the witnesses.  And how.

Charles P. Pierce:

I don’t mean to diminish the gold-standard, A-level Founders porn with which the nation was gifted on Wednesday. I am a ridiculous nerd for such stuff, and not even the woebegone visage of Jonathan Turley, who’s seeing all those juicy Clinton impeachment TV appearances coming back for him like the visitation of the spirits at Scrooge’s place, can take the smile off my face.

But the best practical argument made in the context of 2019 politics came from Professor Pamela Karlan, who announced her presence with authority by clapping back ferociously on Rep. Doug Collins, the bellowing bullshit auctioneer from Georgia. Because he apparently believes that everyone is as deeply afflicted by deliberate ignorance as he is, Collins snarked about how none of the expert witnesses possibly could have read all 300 pages of the House Intelligence Committee’s damning report by the time they came to testify. To which Professor Karlan replied:

Here, Mr. Collins I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts. So I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.

I do not envy those of Professor Karlan’s students who show up unprepared for class.

I didn’t stick around for the whole mess yesterday, but last evening as I was driving I heard one nitwit — Rep. Stubey, I think was his name — carry on about how Trump was denied his Sixth Amendment rights to confront his witness and how unfair it all was because he was being railroaded and tried and convicted. Well, A) the hearing was not a trial, and B) the Sixth Amendment applies only to criminal trials. Impeachment and removal is not a criminal trial. Trump may well have committed criminal acts, but he’s not going to be tried for those; he’s being removed from office. The criminal cases will come after, and no, double jeopardy will not be attached because a conviction in the Senate is the outcome of being voted out of office based on the articles of impeachment, not the actual criminal act itself. That’s for the Southern District of New York to do.

In my non-law-school way of thinking, the closest comparison impeachment comes to is a really drawn-out job termination hearing. If you suck at your job, you get evaluated, and then they fire you. If the reason for your termination was embezzlement or giving trade secrets to your competitor, you lose your job. If the company decides to report you to the authorities for your criminal act, that’s another matter. That’s pretty much what happens with impeachment. Trump’s life and liberty are not at stake; his job is in jeopardy, and there’s no constitutional guarantee to protect that.

If I were the law schools where some of these Republican minions got their degree, I’d take a close look at the poor examples of jurisprudence they turned out and think about getting their diplomas back.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Live Feed — Here Comes The Judiciary

The impeachment saga moves to the House Judiciary Committee today.  The Washington Post says the Republicans are getting “ready to rumble.”

Defenders of President Trump often describe the impeachment inquiry as a “circus.”

But after the partisan theatrics expected during Wednesday’s first hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, they might need a stronger word.

When Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) gavels the room to order at 10 a.m., some of Capitol Hill’s most aggressive and colorful characters — Republicans and Democrats — will be seated on the dais, ready to inject new friction and hostility into the second phase of the inquiry.

There could be disruptions from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), the Fox News favorite who led a conservative revolt against impeachment in mid-October by storming the secure room where depositions were taking place.

There could be conspiracy theories from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), who nearly named the intelligence community whistleblower during a recent speech on the House floor.

And there could be antics from Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), a vocal Trump critic who brought a bucket of fried chicken to a hearing in May to highlight the absence of Attorney General William P. Barr, who was scheduled to testify.

Add to these another 38 lawmakers — many Trump loyalists or pro-impeachment Democrats ready to do battle — and you have a potentially explosive mix of personalities whose excesses could dominate the proceedings.

“It’s a bunch of brawlers sometimes on the Judiciary Committee, so it should get pretty hot under the collar as we go along,” said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a member of the panel, during an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“I don’t think things have been done the way they’ve been done in the past . . . so it causes some rancor and it should be much more feisty, I would say, than the Intel Committee was,” he said.

The reason for this expected response is rather obvious: they have no reasonable defense of Trump and his corruption, so they’re doing everything they can to distract the attention away from it short of releasing a flock of pigeons and running a stampede of goats through the hearing room.  And I wouldn’t put that past them, either.

Charles P. Pierce:

The Democratic report is an outright burial job. The president* tried to extort an agreement out of the government of Ukraine to help him ratfck the 2020 election. All the receipts are there, in four-part harmony and full orchestration, with circles and arrows and paragraphs on the back explaining how they all would be used as evidence against a renegade presidency.

In dealing with reports such as the one released on Tuesday, it is always important to remember the ARF Principle: Always Read Footnotes. For example, heres a piquant bit of information that you would miss if you abandoned the ARF Principle. Rep. Devin Nunes, Republican of California, ranking member of the House Intelligence committee and former White House lawn ornament, is all over this report. Calls between Nunes and John Solomon, the enormously useful reporter formerly working at The Hill, are featured. These are the people the president* left on the beach. And this is the true bottom line.

This will be all over the TV today because they love to put on the shouting matches; it’s great for ratings and the stakes are higher than the showcases on “The Price Is Right.”

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Chosen What

Funny, he doesn’t look holy:

Outgoing Secretary of Energy Rick Perry revealed in an interview over the weekend that he believes President Donald Trump is “the chosen one” who was “sent by God” to lead us.

The former Governor of Texas sat down with Fox News, portions of the interview aired this weekend on Fox & Friends.

“God’s used imperfect people all through history,” Perry said, naming several Biblical figures. “King David wasn’t perfect, Saul wasn’t perfect, Solomon wasn’t perfect.”

He added: “And I actually gave the president a little-one pager on those Old Testament kings about a month ago and I shared it with him. I said, ‘Mr. President, I know there are people that say you said you were the chosen one and I said, ‘You were.’ I said, ‘If you’re a believing Christian, you understand God’s plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet in our government.’”

And if you’re a believing Christian, you’d also know when you’re being lied to and your wife and daughter wouldn’t be safe around this psycho.

If Rick Perry really believed that Trump is the chosen one, why is he quitting his job and getting out of town one step ahead of the process server who’s waving subpoenas from Congress and various other courts?

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Eating Their Own

Not that I pay a lot of attention to right-wingnuts and their peccadilloes, but via those who do, Michelle Malkin has been fired over her support of a Holocaust denier.

A conservative group cut ties with right-wing columnist Michelle Malkin on Sunday over her support for an anti-Semitic internet personality, ramping up a growing conservative civil war centered on college campuses.

Malkin’s firing from Young America’s Foundation, whose speakers bureau had booked Malkin for speeches across the country for the past 17 years, marks the latest battle between supporters of Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and more establishment conservative figures.

“Michelle Malkin in no longer part of YAF’s campus lecture program,” a YAF spokesman said in an email to The Daily Beast.
Malkin didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Hard out there for a pimp, eh?

Monday, November 18, 2019

Lowering The Barr

Via the New York Times:

Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday vigorously defended President Trump’s use of executive authority and suggested that House Democrats were subverting the will of voters by exploring whether to remove the president from office for abusing his power.

Mr. Trump campaigned on a vow to upend Washington, and voters were aware of his agenda when they elected him president, Mr. Barr said.

“While the president has certainly thrown out the traditional Beltway playbook and punctilio, he was up front about what he wanted to do and the people decided they wanted him to serve as president,” Mr. Barr said in a speech at a conference hosted by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group influential in Republican politics.

Mr. Trump’s opponents “essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple by any means necessary a duly elected government,” Mr. Barr added.

His forceful defense of the president came after some of Mr. Trump’s allies have in recent weeks accused Mr. Barr of failing to vociferously back the president. Mr. Trump was said to be frustrated that Mr. Barr urged him to release a reconstructed transcript of the July call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at the center of the impeachment case. The president also wanted Mr. Barr to hold a news conference to say the president had violated no laws, only to have Mr. Barr rebuff the request. Mr. Trump has denied that account.

Speaking for an hour at the upscale Mayflower Hotel a few blocks from the White House, Mr. Barr hit back at the president’s critics on an array of fronts as he argued that Mr. Trump, in his capacity as president, has not overstepped his authority.

While Mr. Barr never uttered the word impeachment, he castigated those he sees as stalling Mr. Trump’s agenda. He defended the president’s right to set policies, steer the country’s diplomatic and military relations and keep executive branch conversations confidential from congressional oversight.

“In waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in shredding norms and undermining the rule of law,” Mr. Barr said.

He noted that opponents labeled themselves “the resistance” immediately after Mr. Trump was elected and accused them of “using every tool and maneuver to sabotage the functioning of the executive branch and his administration.

“Resistance is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power,” Mr. Barr said. He added that it connotes that the government is not legitimate. “This is a very dangerous and indeed incendiary notion.”

This is both hilarious and troubling at the same time; a common reaction to most of the antics of the current administration.  While they reek of rank hypocrisy — carrying on about how “resistance” to Trump is somehow undemocratic while forgetting how they supported the Tea Party antics and right-wing nutsery against President Obama — Mr. Barr, who has been Attorney General before in comparatively normal times, seems to forget that the job of being Trump’s personal lawyer is already taken by Rudy Giuliani, and he’s doing a bang-up job at that.  Unless, of course, Trump is putting the squeeze on him to support him regardless of the fact that the Attorney General is supposed to work for us, not him.  That would explain, perhaps, why Mr. Barr delivered a speech that, as Charlie Pierce remarked, would have been “best delivered while wearing a uniform and mirrored shades, and while standing on a balcony.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Nazi Boy

Gee, what a surprise.

In the lead-up to the 2016 election, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller sought to promote white nationalism, far-right extremist ideas and anti-immigrant rhetoric through the conservative site Breitbart, according to a report released Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The report is the first installment in a series that draws on more than 900 emails that Miller sent to a Breitbart writer over a 15-month period between 2015 and 2016 and were given to the SPLC. The report describes Miller’s emails as overwhelmingly focused on race and immigration and characterizes him as obsessed with ideas such as “white genocide” (a conspiracy theory associated with white supremacists) and sharply curbing nonwhite immigration.

In the wake of the news Tuesday, at least one member of Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), called for Miller to resign.

Miller did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said via email that she had not seen the report but called the SPLC “an utterly-discredited, long-debunked far-left smear organization.”

“They are beneath public discussion, even in The Washington Post,” Grisham said of the civil rights nonprofit.

Among the more damning email exchanges highlighted in the SPLC report is one that shows Miller directing a Breitbart reporter to aggregate stories from the white-supremacist journal American Renaissance, or “AmRen,” for stories that emphasize crimes committed by immigrants and nonwhites. In another, Miller is apparently upset that Amazon removed Confederate battle flag merchandise from its marketplace in the wake of the 2015 Charleston church massacre; others reportedly show him promoting “The Camp of the Saints,” a racist French novel popular among white nationalists. (Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Post.)

SPLC’s report indicates Miller was widely successful in molding the race- and immigration-focused stories that appeared on Breitbart. It repeatedly details how an email from Miller corresponded to a related article later appearing on the site.

There’s all sorts of psychology to explain why a Jewish guy would go all in with white supremacist bullshit, but the scary thing is that this little twerp has the ear of Trump and has been dictating immigration policy since the beginning.  Very fine people on both sides, you know.

[Mocked-up photo via Balloon Juice.]

Friday, October 25, 2019

Matt And The Freudian Slipper

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL, more’s the pity) compares his storming of the SCIF in the Capitol with a really homoerotic movie.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Flailing

Via the Washington Post:

Republicans’ defense of President Trump grew more frantic and disjointed Wednesday, with House members storming a closed-door meeting, delaying the testimony of an impeachment witness as the GOP grappled with a growing abuse-of-power scandal centered on the president.

A group of Trump’s congressional allies escalated their complaints about the impeachment inquiry by barging into a secure facility on Capitol Hill where a Pentagon official was to testify before the House Intelligence Committee.

Their intrusion, which caused the testimony to be delayed for about five hours over security concerns, came a day after the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine testified under oath that the White House had threatened to withhold military aid unless the Ukrainian government announced investigations for Trump’s political benefit.

It’s not only desperate, but it has the added bonus of being egged on by Trump, and since they were trying to disrupt an evidentiary hearing, piles on the obstruction of justice charges.  Or, put another way: he committed impeachable offenses in his attempt to subvert his impeachment.  (But then, when your lawyers argue in court that you could literally get away with murder, what’s the big deal?)

More on the security concerns from Adam L. Silverman at Balloon Juice:

These morons, in an attempt to create a spectacle that will take over the news cycle about impeachment so that the majority of the public that isn’t paying close attention at all times just throws its hands up in disgust, didn’t just force entry into the House of Representatives’ Secure Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), they brought their unsecured cell phones with them. Moreover, they then took imagery with those phones – pictures and/or videos – of classified spaces and, potentially, any classified information that had been taken out in advance of the deposition and was in public view for those members of the House, Republicans and Democrats alike, who actually had the need to know to access it today. And then they started texting and tweeting and emailing that out. On unsecured devices and unsecured and non-governmental networks! This required, as was reported, the SCIF to be closed once they finished their pizza, Chick Fil-A, their stunt and finally gave up and left, so it could be swept and resecured before the delayed deposition could finally take place. What Congressman Gaetz, Congressman Scalise who is the #2 Republican in the House/Republican House Caucus, and their 28 or so colleagues did wasn’t just a stupid stunt, it was a major security violation.

How major? Off the top of my head the number of Federal felonies committed by Gaetz and his colleagues is:

  1. Forced entry into a SCIF
  2. Criminal trespass in a SCIF
  3. Bringing unsecured electronic devices into a SCIF
  4. Taking imagery – pictures and video – of classified spaces and materials on unsecured devices
  5. Transmitting imagery – pictures and video – of classified spaces and materials on unsecured devices to unsecured devices through a variety of unsecured platforms (texting, tweeting, emailing, etc)

It has now been reported that Congressman Thompson (D-MS), the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, has asked the House Sergeant of Arms to take action against Gaetz and his colleagues.

Rep, Matt Gaetz (R-FL, of course) is in the running against Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to the the stupidest person ever elected to Congress.

Is it any wonder why all of a sudden Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Majority Leader, has no idea what Trump is talking about in connection with Ukraine, his phone call with President Zelensky, or if he could pick Trump out of a line-up.  McConnell, who has his own re-election to worry about, is not about to expose himself to any chance he’ll be dragged down with Trump.

Things are going to get even more wild as we head to the end of the year.  Fasten your seat belt and get the popcorn.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

All He Wrote

Ambassador William Taylor spent nearly nine hours in closed session with the House committee yesterday.  His opening statement can be read here, and you can download it here.

From the Washington Post:

America’s top diplomat in Ukraine delivered a forceful blow to President Trump’s account of his “perfect” dealings with that nation, telling lawmakers Tuesday that the White House had threatened to withdraw much-needed military aid unless Kyiv announced investigations for Trump’s political benefit.

The explosive, closed-door testimony from acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. undermined Trump’s insistence that he never pressured Ukrainian officials in a potentially improper “quid pro quo.” It also offered House investigators an expansive road map to what Taylor called a “highly irregular” channel of shadow diplomacy toward Ukraine that lies at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

In a 15-page opening statement, obtained by The Washington Post, Taylor repeatedly expressed his shock and bewilderment as he watched U.S. policy toward Ukraine get overtaken by Trump’s demand that newly elected president Volodymyr Zelensky “go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of [Democratic presidential candidate Joe] Biden and 2016 election interference.”

“ ‘Everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance,” Taylor said he was told by Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

A seasoned diplomat, Army veteran and meticulous note taker, Taylor told lawmakers that former national security adviser John Bolton and other officials from the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA tried unsuccessfully to get a meeting with Trump to persuade him to release the money — nearly $400 million intended to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia.

But Trump’s hold on the aid extended well into September, and Taylor said he found himself considering resignation. “I could not and would not defend such a policy,” Taylor said.

The blockbuster testimony came hours after Trump escalated his attack on the impeachment inquiry, tweeting that it was a “lynching” and drawing swift condemnation from Democrats and some Republicans for equating the constitutional process with the barbaric killing of African Americans.

Cue up the attacks from the White House and let slip the lapdogs of toadyism to try to discredit Amb. Taylor — “Okay, who’s gonna believe a seasoned veteran and career diplomat over a sleazy real estate grifter?” — and then claim that because Ukraine finally got the money, there was no quid pro quo.  Yeah, no; if you walk into a bank and pass the teller a note demanding cash and they arrest you before you actually get the loot, you’re still guilty of attempted robbery.

So, Amb. Taylor’s statement has basically corroborated the testimony of Trump and the rough transcript he released of the call to President Zelensky and supports the conclusion of acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.  All that’s left now is to watch and be entertained by the Republicans trying to explain it all away and figure out a way to save their own asses after defending the indefensible.  At some point they have to decide it’s us or him, and when they do, it’s won’t be pretty for Trump.  One can only hope.

As for the “lynching” comment, that was purely aimed at the base of the party (like this fine example) who have been so put-upon for the insufferable oppression they’ve been under for not being able to use certain words and the utter shame of having to share a lunch counter with someone who doesn’t look like them.  Oh, the humanity.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Annals Of Irony — Part Infinity

Hey, remember how when there was a mass shooting — yes, there have been so many — the gun nuts blamed violent videos for causing people to grab their AR-15’s and commit slaughter?  Something should be done about that.

Via the New York Times:

The creator of a gruesome video that showed a fake President Trump killing journalists and political opponents and that was played at a meeting of a pro-Trump group over the weekend is part of a loose network of right-wing provocateurs with a direct line to the White House.

The unidentified creator of the video operates under the name “The GeekzTeam” and has proclaimed on Twitter to be a “red blooded American with ZERO tolerance for the liberal agenda.” Like many such amateur agitators, the GeekzTeam specializes in creating pro-Trump internet content, often by remixing the president’s image into clips from popular movies and television shows.

Another of the provocateurs, Logan Cook, who often has posted videos on MemeWorld, his website, participated in a social media summit at the White House in July and took his children to meet the president in the Oval Office, accompanied by Dan Scavino, the White House social media director.

But background checks and banning certain weapons would be an assault on our liberties.

As If To Prove The Point

Yesterday’s post about the inability of conservatives and Trumpers to use humor was made glaringly clear by the Trump campaign’s tweet to Elizabeth Warren.

Unless you think this is their idea of punching up and admitting that Sen. Warren is superior than they are. Otherwise, as Digby notes, let’s all freak out about how mean she was to the God-fearing Jesus-shouters who have an unnatural obsession with other people’s private lives and how it might ruin her chances for winning over the MAGAnauts.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Little Twerp Is Back

Ralph Reed, the flaming hypocrite of “Christian” family values, is peddling a new screed that instructs all true believers to back Trump because… oh, who cares.  He’s never been anything more than just a grifter and a con man who’s gotten by on his quickly-fading rent-boyish charm who, instead of selling Earth Shoes or swampland in Collier County, Florida, happened on the flocks of pigeons who will gladly fork over their savings for his brand of Jesus.

This little twerp made his name screaming about Bill Clinton’s penis and is now telling us that pussy-grabbing is “low priority” because he thinks he’s getting what he wants from Trump.  Apparently he’s crafty enough to sell this to the foolish and the weak, but not smart enough to know that Trump will use him like he has everyone else and then never look back.

He’s got nothing to do with god or Christianity.  He and Trump deserve each other.

More From The Stable Floor

Sheesh.

Trump said Wednesday that it would be “easy” for the United States to form new alliances if Syrian Kurds leave the fight against the Islamic State to fend off a Turkish attack, noting that “they didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us in Normandy” and were only interested in fighting for “their land.”

“With all of that being said, we like the Kurds,” he said in response to questions about Turkey’s incursion into Syria.

He got this talking point from some right-wing nutjob.  Who needs the State Department when you’ve got the blogosphere?

For more background on the history of the Kurds and our constant betrayal of them, read this post by Adam L. Silverman.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Multiplication Table

Via the Washington Post:

An attorney for the whistleblower who sounded the alarm about President Trump’s pressure on Ukraine said Sunday that “multiple” whistleblowers have come forward, deepening a political quagmire that has engulfed the president as well as several of his Cabinet members.

The news comes as House Democrats are accelerating their impeachment inquiry and subpoenaing documents related to Trump’s efforts to push foreign countries to investigate one of his political opponents, former vice president Joe Biden.

“I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General,” the whistleblower’s attorney, Andrew Bakaj, said in a tweet. “No further comment at this time.”

Not unlike the Harvey Weinstein case where at first it was he said/she said, now with the “multiple whistleblowers” coming forward, it’s going to be that much harder for Trump’s supporters to say it was just one misguided traitor.  Granted, it won’t stop them from trying, but it’s going to make them look even more desperate, more claiming it’s all a vast conspiracy, and it will shorten the fuse on the inquiry.

And it may even get the pundits and the both-siders to put a stop to their chin-stroking and tolerance of the bullshit.  Hey, if Chuck Todd can finally show some backbone and exasperation, there’s hope yet.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Going For The DNA

Via the New York Times:

The Trump administration is moving to collect DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of people booked into federal immigration custody each year and to enter the results into a national criminal database, an immense expansion of the use of technology to enforce the nation’s immigration laws.

Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that the Justice Department was developing a federal regulation that would give immigration officers the authority to collect DNA in detention facilities across the country that are currently holding more than 40,000 people.

The move would funnel thousands of new records to the F.B.I., whose extensive DNA database has been limited mainly to genetic markers collected from people who have been arrested, charged or convicted in connection with serious crimes.

There have long been calls to collect immigrant DNA records to help identify criminals who have previously been in immigration custody but may not otherwise be known to the authorities. Congress passed a law authorizing a broad collection of DNA data in 2005, but at the time an exemption was put in place to protect immigrants.

A homeland security official said in a call with reporters on Wednesday that the exemption was outdated, and that it was time to eliminate it.

And tattooing them on the forearm is a bit too on the nose.

Pro-trump anti-immigrants advocates will argue that it’s no different than taking a mug shot or fingerprints.  That’s true, but that’s only done when someone has been arrested and placed in custody.  The only crime these people committed was seeking legal asylum during the time of Trump.

Since I’m not a lawyer I can’t say whether or not this is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, but I’m pretty sure there’s an attorney out there who can make the case and a judge who will enjoin the practice, much in the same way they did against drug testing applicants for welfare.  There is no probable cause for the unwarranted taking of a DNA sample, and assuming these people will commit a crime in the future opens the door for the state to take a DNA sample every time someone is stopped for speeding.  Try that and see how it goes over.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Keep A Civil Tongue

I’m hearing second-hand about the outbreak of in-fighting at Fox News between the various hosts and pundits and wild-eyed guests who are all attacking each other for not supporting Trump enough or daring to offer the opinion that what he did with Ukraine was anything but full-on perfect.

Then Trump retweeted something by a hack evangelist about starting a civil war if the House impeached him and now we’re getting into incitement.

I get it that going to extremes in a Twitter thread is what it’s all about, but at some point one of those borderline readers is going to take it seriously and load up a van with bombs and go after a news crew or a member of Congress and then…

Oh, right…

A Florida man accused of mailing pipe bombs to a number of prominent Democrats and Trump critics, as well as CNN, has pleaded guilty before a federal judge in New York.

Cesar Altieri Sayoc, 57, was arrested in late October and was scheduled to go on trial in July on charges related to using weapons of mass destruction and transporting explosives. None of the devices exploded. He has been held without bail since his arrest.

This was a year ago.  Imagine what could happen when the House actually gets around to doing something.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Lying And Dividing

Anyone who’s watched law and order TV shows, including the actual “Law & Order” series and their offspring (all over cable TV if you look beyond the paid programs for skin cream and boner pills) knows the drill: a suspect will first deny any knowledge of the alleged crime.  “I had nothing to do with it; it’s all bullshit.”  Then under questioning and faced with the evidence, the line will shift to “Well, maybe I did know something, but it wasn’t me.”  Then with more evidence, such as pictures or recordings, it becomes “Well, yeah, okay, but there was nothing wrong with it; it was just two people talking.  Can I see my lawyer now?”

I think we’re getting to that last part now with Trump and the whistle-blower and Ukraine.  He’s gone from claiming it never happened (“Fake News”) to admitting — boasting — that he did bring it up more than once in his phone call in July with the president of Ukraine.

“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place, was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Trump told reporters Sunday morning. “And Ukraine, Ukraine’s got a lot of problems.”

And while Trump and his minions may try to cling to their stories as well as their Miranda rights, a large number of Republicans are making tracks.

Since Trump’s inauguration, a Washington Post analysis shows, nearly 40 percent of the 241 Republicans who were in office in January 2017 are gone or leaving because of election losses, retirements including former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), and some, such as [Rep. Paul] Mitchell, who are simply quitting in disgust.

As the article in the Post notes, as they go, the party is remaking itself in the image of Trump.  That means that for every Republican that retires or quits, there’s a bench of MAGA-hat wearing xenophobic evangelical hypocrites and know-nothings who will rush in to fill the void, especially in blood-red districts where fear and loathing of Others runs rampant even as their businesses and crops go rotting thanks to Trump’s tariffs and immigration deportations continue.

That scenario may be making it easier for the Democrats to take control of the House by a wider margin than they have now, and take back the Senate.  But that’s more than a year away, and meanwhile, we have a White House that is being run like a bad spinoff of “The Sopranos.”  And our adversaries are watching it.

Friday, September 20, 2019

This Could Be The Big One

Via TPM, it’s looking like the whistleblower complaint to the DNI has to do with Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukraine by withholding military aid unless they helped him go after Joe Biden and assist in Trump’s reelection.

Fierce denials from the White House, but they’re doing everything to keep anyone from investigating it, including courting contempt of Congress, so it sounds like we’re skating really close to the truth.

And then Rudy Giuliani let the cat out of the bag.

“No, I didn’t!  Yes, I did!”

Wow.  Happy Friday.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

He’ll Get His

I watched some of Corey Lewandowski’s sideshow yesterday on Capitol Hill.  My first thought was that he’s mastered the art of being a smug douche and was performing for an audience of one.  That point was proved by glowing praise tweets from Trump.  He’s got a great career coming as a pundit on some cable show running on Sinclair channels after he gets his ass handed to him in his run for the Senate.

But my second thought was that I’ve seen his kind of snotty behavior and disrespect for what he perceives as enemy interrogation before; specifically when John Ehrlichman testified before the Senate Watergate Committee in July 1973 and his combative, sneering attitude.  Watching him joust with Senate Majority Counsel Sam Dash made my blood boil back then, and I remember thinking that somehow, some way, the universe and karma will get their due.

They did.  Ehrlichman was convicted of conspiracy and other Watergate related crimes, went to jail, and spent his post-jail time and the rest of his life trying to make a buck off his experience and parlay his bitterness about not being pardoned by Reagan into a living until he died in 1999.  He wrote a lot of books and sold a made-for-TV movie.  That seems to be the way this sort of career ends up.

As for Mr. Lewandowski, he will exploit his Trumpian period by punditry and grifting, making appearances at the alt-right versions of Comic Con, signing books and autographing old MAGA hats, later to be sold on E-bay for $5.99.  Maybe, like Ehrlichman, he’ll grow a beard, become contemplative in his old age, and live in a hogan outside of Santa Fe.  Whatever.  He’ll get his.  Karma always delivers.