Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, January 6, 2021 5:04 pm

We told you this would happen

Republicans on a dangerous antidemocratic path since 1994 today conjured violence in the people’s U.S. Capitol.

As I write, hundreds or thousands of pro-Trump supporters have breached the U.S. Capitol — for the first time since the War of 1812, according to the Capitol historian — and forced the suspension of what should have been a pro-forma, if lengthy, counting of Electoral College ballots. TV news shows evidence of at least five injuries and is reporting that at least one person has been shot and critically wounded (UPDATE, 5:48 p.m.: she died) inside the Capitol. Moreover, at least one explosive device was found at the Capitol. These rioters — yes, rioters — were there at the urging of President Donald Trump, who spoke at the protesters’ rally earlier today and urged them to march on the Capitol, raving falsely that the election had been stolen from him.

So many of us told you this would happen. You laughed, or demurred, or insisted that we were taking Trump too seriously. Not so much, it turns out. Welcome to the banana republic, population: you.

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd calls this “unfortunate.” But it is seditious conspiracy. U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called it “sedition” and said, correctly, “This is what the president has caused.”

Here is the seditious-conspiracy statute, 18 USC 2384:

“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

The rioters conspired to oppose by force the authority of the U.S. government and by force prevented, hindered, and delayed the execution of U.S. law, and took and possessed the Capitol contrary to the authority of the U.S. government. Every single one of them needs to go away for 20 years. So does Trump himself for inciting this sedition.

It’s not just Trump who has brought us to this pass. It also is the Republican Party. Republicans have been marching down an antidemocratic, minority-rule path since at least 1994. Republicans rioted in 2000 to interrupt the vote recount in Florida — not one of them was arrested, and a recount was unlawfully stopped — and Republicans have ignored decade-old warnings that the likeliest source of domestic violence and terror was not Islamicist terrorism but homegrown right-wing white nationalists.

And so here we are.

It’s not clear now why the Capitol Police weren’t prepared for this, but they weren’t. The protest had been talked about on social media for days, and Trump had been egging his right-wing nationalist followers on. Moreover, its lack of preparedness raises the question of how it is going to ensure security and safety at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration in two weeks.

It’s also important to note that if this had happened in any state, that state’s governor could have called out the National Guard immediately. But in D.C., that request must be relayed up the Department of Defense chain of command, which delayed the Guard response today. If you’re looking for another argument for statehood for the District of Columbia, welp, here you go.

How did Capitol Police allow this to happen, and how are they going to ensure safety at the presidential inaugural in two weeks? One of those questions has a long-term answer, but one needs to be answered right away.

How do we prevent this from happening again? For one thing, swift enforcement of the criminal law, and, yes, some people need to be made examples of. For another, Donald Trump must be impeached immediately and removed from office to ensure he never again holds a position of trust and responsibility within the U.S. government. He also needs to be criminally charged after leaving office for inciting this riot, for it wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t egged the protesters into rioting and sedition. He eventually gave in to requests from Republicans to urge the rioters to stand down, but even in doing that, he made clear where his sympathy lay, calling Biden supporters names and telling the rioters, “We love you.”

Three other Republicans, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, bear particular responsibility for today’s insurrection. They were the prime movers behind the efforts of some Congressional Republicans to overturn the valid, duly certified electoral-college ballots submitted by some states that Biden carried. They knew that under our Constitution and the law, they had zero chance of success, but Cruz and Hawley, at least, both hoped to win the approval of the Trumpite base as they plan their respective runs for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Gohmert, after his joke of a lawsuit was dismissed, went on the far-right-wing outlet Newsmax to say that the correct response to the dismissal of his suit was “violence in the streets.” All three should be expelled from Congress and indicted and prosecuted, as well.

The government must begin taking white-nationalist terrorism seriously, devoting resources to undermining and punishing it swiftly and harshly when it manifests. Biden, in his remarks, emphasized that the rioters were a tiny minority, and perhaps they are. But they look more numerous than that — and a number of rioters told MSNBC reporters today, “This is not over.”

But we’re not going to be out of the woods until American voters start holding Republican politicians responsible for sedition. And I see zero likelihood that that is going to happen anytime soon. So it’s entirely possible we could see sedition like this again, perhaps as soon as at Biden’s inauguration.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Saturday, December 12, 2020 2:01 pm

Punish them, or they’ll just keep coming back

The Constitution specifies how sedition by American officials should be treated. Let’s follow the Constitution.

Ever since the pardon of Richard M. Nixon by Gerald Ford, we in America have been letting GOP criminals off the hook. Ford pardoned Nixon. Reagan and Bush the Elder got away with Iran-contra. Not only that, on his way out of office, Bush the elder pardoned Iran-contra conspirators with the assistance of Bill Barr, then as now an attorney general who believes there are no legal constraints on the executive branch. Bush the Younger, and his minions, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Don Rumsfeld, et al., got away with torture.

And what do we have to show for all this lenience? The worst batch of GOP criminals yet.

It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump and his minions will be held to account. But as bad as their crimes were, there’s one even bigger issue implicating Trump, 18 state attorneys general, and more than half of House Republicans: seditious conspiracy, an attempt to overturn the lawful and fair outcome of a presidential election.

Earlier this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued four other states, arguing 1) that they had violated their own constitutions/laws by allowing executive-branch officials rather than legislators to change election laws and 2) that Texas somehow had been harmed by this. Notwithstanding the fact that Texas did some of the same things that it was accusing other states of doing, 17 Republican attorneys general filed amici briefs signing on to the suit, as did more than half of House Republicans.

The suit was the most egregious of more than 50 legal actions Trump’s lawyers have taken since the election to try to overturn the will of the people. Joe Biden won the election popular vote by 81 million to 74 million and the Electoral College by 306 to 232. Had all the votes been counted on election night, people would be talking about Biden’s comfortable margin of victory. Vote tallies eventually were certified throughout the United States, and Biden won fair and square. Even Bill Barr who has served in office more as Trump’s personal attorney than as attorney general for all the people, admitted finding no significant issues in the election, let along anything approaching the wild accusations of cheating that Trump supporters had leveled. (That has led to renewed talk that Trump might fire him — imagine, not being corrupt enough for Trump.)

But because it took most of a week to count the ballots — because of Republican-approved measures, but that’s a long story — Trump could screech about “election theft” and his backers believed him, the fact that he is, at this writing, 1-56 1-58 in court notwithstanding. Many of those suits were almost literally laughed out of court.

The attorney general of Pennsylvania, one of the states sued by Texas, didn’t laugh at the suit. He snarled at it instead, calling it “seditious abuse” of the legal process. And he was right: The lawsuit was a seditious conspiracy of the type barred by 18 U.S.C. 2384:

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

The suit struck the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, at least, as in violation of this statute, at least as far as conspiring to overthrow a duly elected government went. (And there’s precedent for documents being acts of sedition: Consider the articles of secession of the Confederate states.) And believe it or not, the Constitution has something to say about that. From Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment:

No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

“No person SHALL.” That means that the House has an affirmative duty not to seat for the 117th Congress (which opens Jan. 3) any House member who signed on to the “seditious abuse” of the Paxton lawsuit. And IANAL, but as I read this, residents of the states whose AGs signed on may sue in federal court to have their respective AGs removed. I hope at least some of them will. (Paxton himself has more immediate problems: He has been under indictment since 2015 on securities-fraud charges, and some top aides who recently left his office have accused him of taking bribes and abusing his office. I speculate, and I am not alone, that he started this whole thing just to catch Trump’s eye in hopes of being pre-emptively pardoned before Trump leaves office.)

Refusing to seat that many House members at once would be unprecedented and would heighten the already huge conflict between Republicans and Democrats. And I’m not under any illusions that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have the guts to do it, even though the language of the 14th Amendment appears to give her no choice. And I get the idea that Biden and his team, as well as congressional Democrats, will face so much Trumpian damage come Jan. 20 that their triage of the many crises we face may not allow time to be devoted to this.

But the Republicans have been playing with the fire of fascism since at least 1994 and arguably since the early 1960s. Their doing so has damaged the country repeatedly in significant part because they are never held to account. It is high time they got burned by their own flame, in public fashion, to discourage anyone else from engaging in sedition. Otherwise, history suggests, it’ll happen again. And next time, the perps might be just as evil and unpatriotic as Trump and his allies — and nowhere near as stupid.

Thursday, December 10, 2020 4:28 pm

Friday Random 10, Thursday edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 4:28 pm
Tags: ,

Monkey Sees — Chris Mars
Say a Prayer — Tom Verlaine
Smells Like Teen Spirit — Nirvana
Mixed Emotions — Rolling Stone
Nashville Skyline Rag — Bob Dylan
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town — Pearl Jam
There at the Top — Squeeze
This Too Shall Pass — OK Go
Pablo Picasso — Burning Sensations
I’ll Go Crazy — James Brown

lagniappe: Look Through Any Window — Hollies

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 5:51 pm

There must be prison

If President-elect Joe Biden doesn’t appoint an attorney general who is inclined to investigate and prosecute at least the biggest crimes of the Trump administration, then he is being derelict in his duty.

Donald Trump has committed so many crimes — not just impeachable offenses, but outright crimes — in broad freakin’ daylight that it seems impossible to consider that perhaps he shouldn’t be investigated and prosecuted for them once he leaves office.

But apparently it’s not impossible for Joe Biden to consider. NBC News reported today that Biden has told aides that he’s concerned that investigations would divide the country, but that he would leave decisions up to an independent Justice Department.

On the one hand, this was predictable, given how Biden campaigned as a uniter and not a divider. And, sure, everyone wants to dial down the partisanship a little, right?

But on the other hand, OH COME ON.

I can’t believe we’re even having to say this, but, hell, YES, he should be criminally investigated, prosecuted if probable cause is found, and sent to prison if convicted. Biden says he wants the Justice Department to be independent — and that’s good! But if he doesn’t appoint an attorney general who is inclined to investigate and prosecute at least the biggest crimes of the Trump administration, Biden, who as president has a constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” is being derelict in his duty.

Here’s the thing: For 50 years, we have been letting criminal Republicans off the hook. What do we have to show for these 50 years of letting GOP criminals off? More and worse GOP criminals. The normalization of everything from political dirty tricks to torture and treason. And a republic that was at the edge of the abyss before Biden beat Trump and is still one hell of a long way from out of the woods. If we are to avoid anything like a Trump administration again, which everyone who believes in democracy thinks would be a good thing to do, then we must punish Trump and his minions.

The sins of Donald Trump and his minions have been so many, varied and spectacular that if I were to list them all I’d be writing this blog post for the rest of my life. Just for starters, let’s look at the stuff he did right out in the open, like permanently separating immigrant children from their parents at the border — at least 666 that we know of. I am not a lawyer, but that appears to me to constitute one form of genocide under the U.S. genocide statute, 18 USC 1091(a)(6). And it’s not just Trump who is culpable; other investigative targets should include Alex Azar, then and now Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Kirstjen Nielsen, then Secretary of Homeland Security, as well as Trump White House aide Stephen Miller, who has been reported as being behind the separation plan.

In addition, federal prosecutors in Manhattan named “Individual-1,” later identified as Trump, as an unindicted co-conspirator in the conspiracy to violate election law by funneling hush money to Stormy Daniels. Currently, a Watergate-era Justice Department policy precludes indictment of a sitting president, but that protection evaporates once Trump leaves office Jan. 20.

Vol. 2 of the Mueller Report indicated that Trump obstructed justice up to 10 times during the investigation. Indeed, Special Counsel Robert Mueller made it clear that if not for that Justice Department policy, he would have indicted Trump on a number of those counts. (Some more clearly include all three statutorily defined elements of the crime than others.)

And those are just what is out in the open. Subjects crying out for either new or renewed criminal or counterterrorism investigation include the 2016 Trump campaign’s relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Trump’s finances, of which the little that has come to light has suggested the possibility of tax fraud, bank fraud (or both), and conspiracy. Trump’s former CFO cooperated with the Mueller investigation and is now cooperating with state and local prosecutors in New York.

It’s not just that the crimes themselves are bad, although they are. Trump’s entire administration was full of grifting (almost $200 million in tax money to his resorts for golf alone), and he ran the government not like a chief executive, but like a mobster. Every relationship was purely transactional, with nothing undertaken in the nation’s best interests. He didn’t even try to govern in the interests of states that had not voted for him in 2016.

The reason that prosecution would be so symbolically important is that it would send the signal that that’s not how you faithfully execute the office of president — and that no one else should try it ever again.

Joe Biden also would be wise to ponder his decision in the context of the 2022 midterms. Voters in the 2018 midterms indicated strongly that they wanted Trump held accountable, and a majority of Americans approved his impeachment earlier this year. If Biden doesn’t at least look like he’s trying to seek justice for Trump’s crimes, a lot of the Democratic base will sit home in 2022, just as they did in 2010, with disastrous results for the party, for the country as a whole, and for many states. They shouldn’t — I get it; it would be stupid and self-destructive — but they probably will.

Finally, if Trump and at least some of his minions do not go to prison for their crimes, then the country will be admitting that we are no longer a nation under the rule of law. And if we’re not that, then what good are we?

Saturday, September 12, 2020 8:00 am

The Panthers will go 4-12 and miss the playoffs

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 8:00 am
Tags:

Obviously, I’d love to be wrong about this. But facts are facts.

I’ve been watching this team since its first home exhibition in 1995. As goes the O-line, so goes the season. The Panthers, who gave up more sacks than anyone else last year, have a decent O-line on paper, but basically no depth. Moreover, starting left guard Dennis Daley already is out with an ankle injury for Week 1, and as I write this there’s no one listed behind him on the depth chart. Obviously SOMEbody will play, but that’s going to hurt the run game and result in a lot of pressure on QB Teddy Bridgewater.

As for the rest of the offense: The WRs are potentially a huge threat, especially if Curtis Samuel breaks out like he hinted at last season, and offer Bridgewater a lot of weapons, not to mention RB Christian McCaffery, who is as good a slot receiver as there is in the league (and proved it last season with a 1,000/1,000 season) when he’s not running the football. If Bridgewater gets time to stay in the pocket and work his progressions — and that’s a big if — the Panthers may hang a lot of points on a lot of people.

But that won’t be enough. The defensive front seven couldn’t and didn’t replace the retired ILB Luke Kuechly. First-round draft pick Derrick Brown and Kawann Short, returning from injury, will make the Panthers tough up the middle. But will the linebackers be able to close the deal on running plays? And will that front seven be able to sack the star QBs they’ll be facing twice in Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan? Depth also is a concern here.

But the real concern, and it’s huge, is the DBs. Tre Boston returns at safety, but he’s joined by Juston Burris, who has started only nine games in his career. Donte Jackson has this year to prove he can be the man at CB1, and while he has shown flashes, he’ll face some of the toughest WRs in the league twice and I just don’t know how he’ll do. Rookie Troy Pride will start at the other corner, and you know QBs will be firing at him early and often.

On special teams, I’m not sure K Joey Slye won’t be gone by midseason. (I was reminded again Thursday night watching the Chiefs that the Panthers could have had Harrison Butker at kicker but let him get away. That one hurt.) Pharoah Cooper will return kicks and punts, but this special team is going to have to perform significantly better than it did last year.

But here’s the biggest reason I think the Panthers are going to have a poor year: luck. For them to have success (a playoff spot, which they still might snag at third in the division under the new playoff format), a lot of things would have to break just the right way in the league’s toughest division. The Panthers haven’t been lucky since the 2015 season, and I’m not feeling lucky on their behalf heading into 2020. I think injuries will hurt the O-line and the linebackers, and I don’t think our corners are up to their competition. I also don’t think this new, young team will be able to handle adversity well, starting with the fact that they’re playing the eighth toughest schedule in the league. I see wins against perhaps the Chargers, Lions, Bears, and Washington and a high draft pick again in 2021. Again, I hope I’m wrong.

Friday, September 11, 2020 8:37 am

“For Thou are with us …”

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 8:37 am
Tags: , ,

As is my custom on this day, I’m going back to read Sarah “Sars” Bunting’s post-9/11 essay, “For Thou Art With Us,” and I strongly urge you to do the same.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 7:04 pm

Bob Woodward has blood on his hands

Filed under: Evil — Lex @ 7:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

Bob Woodward knew early this year that Donald Trump understood early on that COVID-19 would be a dangerous epidemic but denied that for weeks and called the pandemic a “hoax.” Had Woodward reported that at the time he knew it, he might have saved tens of thousands of lives. Instead, he held onto that information to drive up sales of his book. And now, as I write, we’re a tad shy of 190,000 COVID-19 deaths, most of which could have been prevented had Woodward acted.

Woodward’s behavior has been called an example of the “beyondist personality,” author David Dark’s word for one who speaks of himself “as operating outside of ‘politics’ & thereby capable of opining & weighing in magically above the fray.” But there’s no such thing. What Woodward did is sociopathy, plain and simple, and no different from Trump’s. And not just Woodward but also the top managers of The Washington Post have blood on their hands for letting Woodward delay the release of this information.

Sunday, August 16, 2020 10:04 pm

An open email to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy

via email: louis.dejoy@usps.gov

Dear Postmaster General DeJoy:

You need to undo all the changes you have made that have hampered delivery of mail generally and mail-in ballots in particular.

Failure to do so, given Trump’s statement on Fox Business News Thursday morning that he is cutting funding to the USPS to prevent delivery of mail-in ballots, implicates you in conspiracy to deny U.S. voters their civil rights, a felony violation of 18 USC 241 punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine.

Failure to do so also would constitute a violation of 18 USC 595, election interference, punishable by a year in prison and a fine.

It also would constitute a violation of 18 USC 1703, which makes interference in mail delivery by an officer of the USPS a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine.

You’re trying to help Trump steal an election, and we’re not going to let that happen.

Sincerely,

Hooper “Lex” Alexander IV
Greensboro, NC 27403

Friday, August 14, 2020 7:00 pm

Here’s how to get Postmaster General Louis DeJoy fired and charged for his role in Trump’s attempt to steal the election

UPDATE: Added all members of the Board of Governors (h/t @DataAndPolitics)
UPDATE: Corrected email address (h/t @C0URTNEE)
Robert M. Duncan: mduncan@inezdepositbank.com
John Barger: barger.jm@gmail.com
Ron Bloom: ron.bloom@brookfield.com
Roman Martinez: roman@rmiv.com
Donald Moak: lee.moak@moakgroup.com
Wiliam Zollers: directoraccessmailbox@cigna.com

Dear Members of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors:

I write to you in your capacity as members of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors to ask you to remove Louis DeJoy as Postmaster General and refer his case to the U.S. Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.
As postmaster general, DeJoy has introduced slowdowns in mail delivery and removal of sorting equipment and postal boxes without adequate explanation. He has done this, according to President Donald J. Trump, for the express purpose of hindering delivery of mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3, 2020, general election.
In so doing, he has committed criminal violation of 18 USC 241 (felony conspiracy to deny civil rights), 18 USC 595 (election interference) and 18 USC 1703 (felony interference with mail delivery by a member of the U.S. Postal Service), whence my request for a criminal referral.
I look forward to the board’s prompt attention to this matter.
Sincerely,
Hooper “Lex” Alexander IV
(address)
Greensboro, NC 2740X
(phone)

Wednesday, July 15, 2020 5:57 pm

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis: “Look! A squirrel!”

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote both of my congresscritters, demanding to know what they were going to do about Trump letting Russia get away with putting bounties on the heads of U.S. service members in Afghanistan. My senior senator, Richard Burr, who says he will retire after the 2022 elections, responded almost immediately but said he was still waiting to find out more about the situation. Inasmuch as he is chairman of the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I seriously doubted that there was much more he needed to know, but at least he responded — a low bar, but significant for a guy who’s retiring.

My junior senator, Thom Tillis, who’s running for re-election this year, took a while longer to write back. And I’ll let you read what he wrote verbatim:

Dear Mr. Alexander:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the reports that Russian military operatives offered bounties to Taliban and Taliban-affiliated militants to attack United States and coalition servicemembers in Afghanistan. I appreciate hearing from you.

As you may know, on June 26, 2020, the New York Times published an article alleging Russian GRU operatives provided “bounties” to Taliban and Taliban-affiliated militants as payment for attacking U.S. and other Western coalition forces deployed in Afghanistan. According to the New York Times article, the anonymous American officials based their assessment primarily on intelligence obtained from interrogations of captured Afghan militants and criminals.

While American Intelligence agencies have not yet been verified these reports, I take them incredibly seriously. No nation or terrorist group should escape retribution after targeting American troops or civilians.

Therefore, I called for the United States to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, if the intelligence community corroborates and verifies the allegations made in the New York Times report. Designating Russia as a state sponsor of terror is one of the strongest actions the administration could take against Putin, and it would instantly force Russia into pariah status with the international community.

As the intelligence community works to verify the intelligence, I will continue to carefully monitor the U.S. operations in Afghanistan and our national security interests in the broader region. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will continue to attend any classified briefings on this matter.

Moving forward, it is imperative the United States continues to oppose Putin’s destabilizing tactics designed to divide and mislead us. Russia remains an authoritarian police state committed to undermining the interests of the United States and our allies and partners. In recent years Putin has illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula, waged expansionist wars against Georgia and Ukraine, attempted to interfere in elections in the United States and other democracies. He now threatens our North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partners Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. Russia has also shamefully chosen support the foremost state sponsor of global terror, Iran, a regime that continues to support war criminal Bashar al-Assad and his grip on power in Syria.

For these reasons, I support taking tough punitive actions against Russia, including the use of crippling financial sanctions to pressure Putin to stop continued Russian aggression.

Thank you again for contacting me, and I will keep your views in mind. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me again about other issues that are important to you.

 

Sincerely,

Thom Tillis

U.S. Senator

We’ll talk in a minute about what he said, but first I’d like to talk about what he didn’t say.

He never mentioned Trump’s name.

He never mentioned the president in any way.

He basically ignored the thrust of my question in the hopes that I wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t care.

In so doing, he made it clear that he is ride-or-die Trump, that there is nothing Trump could do that would cost him Tillis’s support.

Uh-oh. I noticed. (And now, so have you.)

And there is nothing Tillis can do that would lead me to do anything but vote for his Democratic opponent, Cal Cunningham. If you can’t vote for Cal, please send him money. This race could dictate control of the Senate come 2021. And I don’t have to tell you how important that is.

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 10:12 pm

Farewell, Cam Newton

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 10:12 pm
Tags: , ,

The Carolina Panthers are shopping QB1 Cam Newton in a trade, and they also have signed New Orleans backup QB Teddy Bridgewater as their new QB1 at roughly $21 million/year.

I am not surprised that the Panthers are shopping Cam Newton. His recent injury history and uncertain recovery timetable made that inevitable.

What I AM pissed about, however, is, with the benefit of hindsight, how badly the Panthers organization misused and ill-served the most talented athlete ever to wear the Panthers’ black and blue.

At almost NO time in Newton’s nine seasons with the Panthers did the team ever provide him a rock-solid offensive line. O-line has been problematic for the entire history of the franchise, so you would think the Panthers would learn a lesson, and you would be wrong.

The Panthers’ selection of complementary offensive weapons also has been inexcusably hit-and-miss. Both once- and current GM Marty Hurney and ex-GM David Gettleman bear the responsibility for that.

To the extent that, in the history of the franchise, the Panthers have been consistently competitive, that is pretty much 100% attributable to QB1, Cameron Newton. And now Hurney and head coach Matt Ruhle are going to attempt to rebuild the offense around former New Orleans QB2 Teddy Bridgewater. Well, we’ll see how that goes.

But in the quarter-century history of this franchise, the one player most consistently associated with post-season wins was Cam Newton, a guy the team never supported. I hope he lands somewhere where management will appreciate and support his talents. Sadly, that team ain’t the Panthers and never has been.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 6:28 pm

Today is the day the United States became an autocracy

We are in a very bad place. We need to vote Trump out in November. And God help us if we do not, because no decent person will be safe.

I’ve said, on here and on social media, that there is no bottom to what Trump and the GOP are willing to do, and today we got proof of it.

Longtime GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone who has thumbed his nose at the law pretty much his entire adult life and who was convicted of lying and obstructing justice in the Mueller investigation, is going to be sentenced. Federal prosecutors recommended a sentence within the appropriate sentencing guidelines — a range of roughly seven to nine years.

Then, later today, after tweets from Trump that the proposed sentence for Trump was far too excessive, the Justice Department said it would be recommending a much lower sentence for Stone. It also said that what the career prosecutors had recommended had never been communicated to their higher-ups.

Obviously, the safest course in any situation is to assume that Bill Barr’s Justice Department is lying. But that was particularly obvious in this case because not only did all four career prosecutors assigned to the case withdraw from it after Justice’s statement, one of them also quit the Justice Department entirely. Lawyer Twitter seems to have never seen anything like it. Neither have I.

Make no mistake: Trump and Barr are using the power of the Justice Department to protect their political friends. And if you think they won’t also use that power to attack and punish their political enemies, you are 12 different kinds of stupid. Trump, particularly has a vengeful streak a mile wide, a product of his malignant narcissism. And Barr has shown no inclination to press his boss to stay within law and ethics. To the contrary, he has facilitated his boss’s every illegal desire.

Today is the day the United States became an autocracy. Newspapers and cable news won’t say that, but I will because it’s true. We are in a very bad place. We need to vote Trump out in November. And God help us if we do not, because no decent person will be safe.

UPDATE: Senate Republicans just blocked three election-security bills. Sleep well, America.

Thursday, December 19, 2019 12:52 pm

Impeachment is only the beginning

I know you don’t want to, but please do me a favor and watch the three-minute pre-impeachment speech given last night by U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., because I think you need to see and hear it to understand just how much danger the country would remain in even if Donald J. Trump disappeared tomorrow.

After the votes last night to impeach Trump, MSNBC commentator Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush 43 administration official, decried the “cheap tribalism” of Congressional Republicans, calling it “sad.”

Well, don’t be sad, be terrified, because the problem with Republicans goes way further than “cheap tribalism.” The party has been on an unbroken 50-year slide toward dictatorship, and it shows no signs whatever of being ready to get off the ride. Trump is merely the logical, predictable, and predicted result of that slide, a symptom and not the disease.

Indeed, Trump could be gone tomorrow and we would still have to reckon with the fact that one of our two major parties has forsworn constitutional democracy in pursuit of absolute, dictatorial power. The GOP is now the party of treason, not nearly enough Americans understand that, and not nearly enough of those who understand it are saying so, including our so-called liberal media.

Again, if you doubt me, welp, just watch Nunes’s speech (or Mitch McConnell’s much longer speech from this morning, embedded below), in which Nunes ludicrously insists that it was the Democrats, not the Republicans, who colluded with Russia. While Nunes was last seen suing an imaginary cow, he cannot be underestimated because his speech is weapons-grade batshit and Reichstag-fire evil — and there’s not a Republican man or woman in the House or Senate who doesn’t agree with him.

I don’t know how you fight an entire party, but I do know that it starts with not giving them a single vote and denouncing them at every opportunity. But if we don’t fight it, America’s 232-year experiment with constitutional republican government could be over not in years, but in months.

(Here’s McConnell’s speech.)

 

Sunday, December 15, 2019 9:53 pm

I’m supporting Elizabeth Warren for president. Here’s why.

I set a simple but high bar for my choice for president in 2020. The only person who cleared it is U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

I posted on Twitter in March 2019 that I wouldn’t be picking a Democrat to support for president in 2020 until at least October 2019. I ended up waiting longer than that, figuring that circumstances would make a lot of my decisions for me. And so it has come to pass.

I’m supporting U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, for the Democratic nomination for president. The selection process wasn’t so much a weeding through of candidates as it was a very simple process of elimination.

Here’s what I mean: I decided well before the 2018 elections that my choice for president in 2020 was going to have to be able to get enough stuff done in the way of cleaning up after Dump so that by, say, June 2022, Democratic congressional candidates not only would have made big progress toward de-Trumping the government but ALSO would have a solid platform on which to run and win.

Accomplishing that was going to require a president who had two traits: a solid record of knowing how to move the levers of the federal government to GET SH*T DONE, and a long list of IOUs from Congressional Democrats in order to GET SH*T DONE.

Those criteria effectively filtered the field for me: It left Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden. That’s it. Nobody else met those criteria. So it’s not like I have to go negative on anyone else in the field, even if I were so inclined.

But I had a second criterion as well.

My choice for the Democratic presidential nomination needed to have grasped, beyond any doubt and without any hesitation, just how big an existential threat to the Republic the current Republican Party is. My candidate had to understand that the GOP is now the party of treason and be under no illusions about the possibility, let alone advisability, of “working with” the GOP as it is currently constituted.

And after that? Elizabeth Warren stands alone.

Your own criteria for a candidate might differ, and that’s fine. And I’m not going to say much negative about other candidates, except for: 1) cleaning up after Donald J. Trump is no job for a federal-government virgin, and 2) serving as president of the United States is no job for a narcissistic billionaire dilettante, of whom the Democrats allowed WAY too many into the race.

I could say a lot of nice things about many of the other Democratic candidates. And given that the base of the Democratic Party is basically women of color now, I would be remiss if I, an old white guy, didn’t admit I’m not entirely comfortable ruling U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris out.

But my criteria were my criteria before any candidate announced, I stand by them, and Sen. Harris made her own call for her own reasons. I understand if you don’t share my preference, but I hope you will.

And, finally know this: I understand that the chances that Warren won’t be the nominee are nontrivial. But I pledge, right here and right now, to support the eventual Democratic nominee with my time, my money, and my vote, whoever he or she turns out to be, because voting for that nominee is the ONLY way to ensure that we make Donald Trump a one-term president and turn him over to the tender mercies of the criminal-justice system — which defending the Republic demands we do. He needs to die in prison in a diaper, his following in the GOP needs to be not just discredited but sentenced to spend at least 40 years in the wilderness, and voting blue is the best and only way to make sure that happens.

So, what happens if Trump gets convicted, or loses in 2020, and refuses to leave?

No one sane wants to think about what might happen, and what might have to be done, if Trump gets convicted or loses in 2020, but refuses to leave office. But the sane people had better start thinking about it, because for damn sure the insane people already are.

I know I would welcome reporting from national news outlets that, without disclosing classified details, makes clear that if Trump refused to leave when the time came, he would be evicted with dispatch and he and anyone who helped him would be prosecuted for sedition. I think it would do a lot to tamp down all this talk by Trump backers of revolting if things didn’t go his way.

And that would be a good thing.

Saturday, December 14, 2019 2:12 pm

We’re not nearly as worried about 2020 election security as we should be

Earlier today I started a Twitter thread on this subject. It ended up being long enough that Twitter was a cumbersome format for reading it, so I’m combining the thread and reposting the content here, with a bit of editing and formatting to make it more like a regular blog post.

A thread of uncertain length on 2020 election security:

I think that up to now, GOP attacks on an honest voting system have been attenuated: They wanted just enough votes to win without, they hoped, attracting much attention. And I think it’s fair to say that that’s what they’ve gotten.

When Jeb Bush and his Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, illegally kicked a bunch of Florida voters off the rolls just before the 2000 election, the attention in the immediate aftermath of the election wasn’t on that act. Rather, it was on recounts, stopping recounts, and hanging ballot chads – all of which were important but missed the bigger picture. It took the investigative work of reporter Greg Palast to bring the voter-roll purge to detailed light in a chapter of his 2002 book, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.”

In 2004, the issues seemed to revolve around the state of Ohio rather than Florida, and its secretary of state. There were reports of voting-machine malfunctions and other irregularities that seemed to suggest the possibility of sabotage. But nothing was ever conclusively proven.

Then Obama got elected, and the Republicans seemed to recognize the need for more and better ways to fix the vote. Vote suppression seemed the way to go, which is why Chief Justice John Roberts practically went case-shopping to get Shelby County v. Holder before the high court.

(It didn’t help that Dems stayed home in droves in 2010 because they were mad that Obama didn’t give them a rainbow single-payer health-insurance unicorn or whatever. That temper tantrum put a lot of psycho Republicans in power at all levels and, in Congress, often at the cost of Dems who had voted for the Affordable Care Act.)

Immediately after Shelby County — and I mean “immediately”; some of the bills were pre-written — GOP legislatures across the country began enacting vote-suppression measures. One was voter ID, based on fictitious claims that in-person vote fraud was a widespread problem. Such requirements, of course, usually were accompanied by measures that severely limited the types and availability of complying ID. No state university ID cards, for instance. Availability was limited by limiting the number of locations where one could obtain valid ID, which put a huge burden on people without reliable transportation — the people who disproportionately are minorities and vote Democratic.

And voter-roll purging became more widespread, led by transparent opportunists like then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whose “Crosscheck” program – a sloppy way of matching voter names against lists of convicted felons, say – was adopted by Republicans in more states. (The fact that such efforts appeared to be felony violations of 18 USC 241 was widely overlooked.)

But even that wasn’t enough for the Republicans, so Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign accepted the fruits of Russian hacking of Democrats’ computers.  (The Russians also hacked GOP computers, and while there’s no proof, it’s a popular theory that they found info with which to blackmail some GOP officials into doing their bidding.) And let us not forget Russian manipulation of social media to influence public opinion, using messages targeted to many different relatively small groups of people to try to influence outcomes at the margins.

The result, of course, was that while Trump lost the 2016 popular vote by almost 3 million votes, he won the Electoral College by a mere 80,000 votes divided among just three states: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

(And don’t get me started on the Electoral College: Its purpose, per the Federalist Papers, was to prevent the election of a demagogue. It has failed in that purpose twice in the past 20 years. Its real purpose was to get slave-owning states to ratify the Constitution, and it serves no useful purpose today and should be scrapped lest our future be that of minority governance. But that’s an issue for a different thread.)

So we know what happened in 2016: Far from being an awful candidate, Hillary Clinton could be defeated only by a perfect storm of a slave-era election mechanism, Russian election sabotage in cahoots with Trump’s campaign, GOP vote suppression, and possible machine hacking.

(The lousy news media coverage of the campaign also immeasurably helped Trump, as did James Comey’s bogus announcement of possible new evidence against Clinton right before the election. But those, too, are subjects for another thread.)

So Trump got in and started criming on Day 1 with violations of the Emoluments Clause. He has crimed away since while weakening our global standing, viciously attacking our most vulnerable Americans, betraying our national security and our allies, and ignoring the existential disaster that is climate change. His popularity remains underwater, and a slight majority of Americans favors his impending impeachment.

Regarding that impeachment: I am under no illusions that the GOP-controlled Senate will vote to convict. McConnell and his party are too corrupt. So our only way of getting rid of this agent of a hostile foreign power is at the polls on Nov. 3.

The problem for the Republicans is that they have become so corrupt, and their corruption so thoroughly intertwined with Trump’s, that they cannot allow Trump to be beaten. If he is, not only is it game over for him, with indictments likely the instant he leaves office, but it’s also game over for them — their tax cuts, their appointment and confirmation of inept and corrupt judges, their profiting from the school-to-prison pipeline and for-profit corrections, and so many, many other scams, particularly if Warren or Sanders wins.

So Republicans must win in 2020 by any means necessary. Any. Means. Necessary. And that means not just stealing the presidency again. That means congressional races, legislative races, you name it. The alternative is too frightening for them to contemplate.

And why shouldn’t they? It’s not like we have a lot of ways to detect and stop it even after the fact, let alone in real time. For example, international voting-rights groups have found that comparing exit polling against ballot counts is a reliable way to detect cheating. But we don’t do that in the U.S. Because of Republican opposition, we have enacted no protections against foreign sabotage of our elections. We do not routinely audit voting machines and elections. We have mandatory recounts in far fewer situations than robust election security would call for. We need to be using voter-hand-marked, voter-verified, hand-counted paper ballots to prevent electoral sabotage and fraud. But because our elections are governed by state and local governments, almost nowhere are we doing so.

Which all brings me to my concern: If the Republicans decide to steal big in 2020 — so big that it becomes obvious to most people, not just interested parties like me — what’s to stop them? We have no standard mechanism for election do-overs. (The do-over this year in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, which was ordered after widespread absentee-fraud ballot by employees of a Republican candidate, is an exception.) We have no constitutional mechanism for undoing fraudulent elections,  let alone mechanisms for undoing the consequences of fraudulent elections. We can’t fire all the bureaucrats appointed by a fraudulently elected president. We would have to impeach them (and all the judges), one at a time, and then hold individual Senate votes to remove them from office — again, one at a time.

So what’s to stop Republicans from going so big on election theft that everyone is aware of it? Because no one will be able to do anything about it but demonstrate. And the GOP has an answer for that, too. From Trump’s executive order this week about Judaism down to bills in state legislatures, Republicans are seeking to criminalize our First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition our government for redress of grievances. So while I have no evidence that suggests the GOP WILL do this, I look at our situation and their corruption and think, well, why WOULDN’T they?

If Americans protested and Republicans tried to put down those protests, we might have riots. And, having no answers to how to fix this, I have to confess that I don’t know which I’m more afraid of: that we might riot, or that we might not.

Friday, December 13, 2019 4:30 pm

Want to know how crooked the Senate Republicans are? Here’s how crooked the Senate Republicans are.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear that Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial will be a sham. That would mean that Republican senators would be violating the Constitution, their existing and upcoming oaths to support the Constitution, and the Senate’s own rules. When that happens, Democrats must hold not just Republican senators but all Republican candidates accountable across the board.

With the full House of Representatives scheduled to vote Wednesday on the two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, The Washington Post has reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republicans plan on “holding a short impeachment trial early next year that would include no witnesses,” with an immediate vote to acquit.

That would mean that all the witnesses who testified before the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees in recent weeks would not be able to repeat their testimonies in a Senate trial. It also means that Donald Trump would be unable to call witnesses in his own defense; he has said he wants to call House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, former Vice President Joe Biden, Biden’s son Hunter, and possibly other witnesses. This would be to create a narrative suggesting that rather than abusing his office to try to get Ukraine to announce a corruption probe of the Bidens, as one article of impeachment alleges, Trump actually was urging Ukraine to investigate alleged corruption on the part of the Bidens, the younger of whom sat on the board of a Ukrainian business.

But Republicans, the Post says, would rather just reject the articles and go home.

Can they do that? Probably; Article I, Sec. 3, clause 6 of the Constitution gives the Senate the sole power to try cases of impeachment. Chief Justice John Roberts would preside, but unless an actual lawyer wants to argue otherwise, it looks to me as if the Senate can do as they damned well please in this regard. (That said, I think Roberts would be fine with the Republicans’ plans anyway; he almost always is. His reputation for caring about his and the Supreme Court’s places in history have always struck me as overblown.)

But there’s something else that affects this dynamic, something Senate Republicans really hope you don’t know about: the Senate Rules in Impeachment Trials. This article in The Bulwark helpfully explains how and why the Framers decided that the Senate, rather than the Supreme Court, should try impeachment cases, and how those rules come into play:

Hamilton reported that the Court lacked the political fortitude to weather the storm that would attend any verdict: the Court’s legitimacy as a final tribunal for ordinary legal disputes would be undermined if it took on the issue of high politics as well. The Court might be able to mitigate partisanship, but it would risk its own legitimacy in doing so.

The Senate, on the other hand, was a more promising venue because it was a political body, but not as tightly tethered to factionalism and political passion as the House. It was designed to take a longer view and was therefore a promising site for such extraordinary trials.

But, you say, today’s Senate is tightly tethered to factionalism. And you’re right. But the Framers thought about that, too:

The idea was that rather than lowering the Supreme Court down to high politics, the Senate would be raised up. To raise the Senate up to the demands of high politics, the Framers decided that the Senate would need to recompose itself into a new institution—an impeachment court. (Emphasis in the original — Lex)

This transformation was serious enough that senators would have to take a new oath of office.

According to Article I, section 3, clause 6 of the Constitution, senators, when sitting on a trial of impeachment, “shall be on Oath or Affirmation.” When they are elected to the Senate, all senators swear a general Oath to uphold the Constitution.

But the Oath taken in an impeachment trial is different. It is a juror’s oath and a judge’s oath—not a legislator’s oath. Rule XXV of the Senate Rules in Impeachment Trials provides the text: “I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of ____, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.”

For an impeachment trial of a president, the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides. He can be overruled by a majority vote of the other judges/jurors—which is to say the senators. But it is vital to remember that the Constitution asks them to remember that they are not sitting as senators, but now as judges and jurors.

So much so that for this brief period the senators are all equal. For the course of the trial the roles of Majority and Minority Leader, President Pro Tem, Committee Chairs, Whips, and so forth no longer exist. For the duration of the trial the Senate is a literally new institution with new rules, new norms, and new responsibilities.

The more people who understand that, the more people will see that any attempt by Senate Republicans not to have a full and fair airing of the facts — or to acquit Donald Trump in the face of these facts — is constitutionally flawed and violates the Senate’s own impeachment rules. Democrats need to point that out in real time during the trial as well as afterwards.

And afterwards, Democrats in every 2020 race, from president down to dogcatcher, need to hang that corruption, that violated oath, like a putrescent albatross carcass around the neck of not just every Republican senator, but every Republican running for office in 2020, from Dump down to dogcatcher.

I am not optimistic that Democrats will win the White House in 2020. I think it’s entirely possible that the Democratic nominee can win the popular vote by 5 million and still lose the Electoral College through a combination of Russian sabotage, hacked voting machines, and GOP vote suppression in key swing states including North Carolina. But if there’s a way to win this election by a margin too big to steal, this is it.

A pep talk when the good guys badly need one

My friend Dan Conover posted something on Facebook Thursday that was so good that, with his permission, I’m sharing it. I’ll have a minor footnote of my own at the end.

* * *

The news is awful these days. Or should I say, the Republican *response* to the news is awful. Grinds the soul. Shreds hope. And the natural reaction is to retreat into pessimism. After all, what can we do?

Well, here’s a pep talk from history, and it’s as much for me as you.

On March 15, 1781, a fragile and reconstituted American Army under General Nathaniel Greene — a Quaker — finally turned to fight a pursuing British Army commanded by Lord Cornwallis at a place called Guilford Courthouse.

Greene’s army outnumbered Cornwallis’ redcoats, but that barely concerned the British commander. His army was comprised of battle-hardened professionals. The bulk of Greene’s force were simple militiamen. Locals with no experience or training. The kind of unreliable amateur fighters Cornwallis had routed time and again in the South.

How would such men stand up to cannon fire and bayonet charges in a major battle?

Greene, who understood both the limitations and the value of his militiamen, deployed them as the first defensive line the British would encounter. Before the battle commenced, he visited those nervous citizen soldiers, and gave them simple instructions: Hit the enemy hard once once or twice, then run like hell.

When I was a kid visiting the battleground in Greensboro, N.C., I felt disappointed to read that plaque. Reports that many of the militia fled the field after just one volley didn’t exactly fill me with Tar Heel pride in those days.

Now I understand Greene’s wisdom. He knew untrained irregulars under untested leadership couldn’t be counted on to hold up through the prolonged chaos of battle. But he also knew that he couldn’t win without them. That’s why he put them up front and kept things simple. Hit the Redcoats one good lick.

And brother, did they.

Cornwallis sent his best, most veteran infantry unit marching across the field toward that Carolina militia, bayonets affixed to enormous Brown Bess muskets. Just the sight of the Empire’s fearsome soldiers had sent previous backwoods militias running for home.

But those untrained Tar Heels stood their ground until the enemy was right in front of them — and unleashed a devastating 1,500-gun volley. An officer in the Scottish infantry unit that received that volley, the 71st Regiment of Foot, later described how it mowed down half of his proud Highlanders in an instant.

Some of those Carolina farmers ran off after that. Others stuck around to reload and try again. Some stood their ground and died on it.

But they did the job that was needed. And it mattered.

By the time the advancing Redcoats reached Greene’s Continental regulars, the British casualties were so high, and their tactical situation was so dire, that Cornwallis did the unthinkable. He ordered his cannon to fire, point blank, into the hand-to-hand melee in front of him.

Again, Greene was wise. Rather than have his precious Continentals cut to shreds by cannon, he ordered a retreat. Cornwallis slaughtered as many of his troops as ours with that order, but that’s why history records Guilford Courthouse as a British victory.

A truly Pyrrhic victory. Modern historians consider Guilford Courthouse to be the decisive battle of the Southern Campaign — and the singular disaster that forced Cornwallis to Yorktown, where his surrender to General George Washington seven months later effectively ended the American Revolution.

Like the militiamen of 1781, we don’t have to be superheroes. We don’t have to win every battle. We just have to show up when it counts, and do the job.

And we’ve been doing it, too. Instead of shrinking from the clear and present danger last year, we showed up in force in November 2018. That’s how we won back the House of Representatives, and our votes 13 months ago are why Trump’s Ukraine treason is bound for an impeachment trial in the Senate.

Sure, Trump’s base still doesn’t get it. But there were plenty of Lindsey Graham-ish Tories in the Carolinas during the Revolutionary War, too. They were on the wrong side then. They’re on the wrong side now. Fuck ’em. March on.

And no, we’re not likely to remove Trump from office in the Republican Senate. But so what if Trump wins a sham trial in that McConnell-controlled chamber? As British politician Charles James Fox wrote after learning of Cornwallis’ “win” at Guilford Courthouse, “Another such victory would ruin the British Army!”

It’s not going to be easy between now and the election. Our enemies know they’re outnumbered, which means they’re going to pull every dirty trick they know to break our morale and keep us away from the polls on Nov. 3, 2020.

Our side is going to make mistakes, too. It’s nature of conflict. Get your mind right for it.

But if we show up and vote when it counts? Like those nervous North Carolina farmers taking their one shot in 1781, we’ll make history.

Don’t we owe them that?

* * *

Lex again. I have lived in Greensboro for more than 30 years. Not only have I visited the battleground site numerous times, as a reporter I covered the commemoration of the battle more than once. Yet never before has anyone explained to me how and why the Continental troops achieved what they did as well as Dan has. Thanks, pal.

 

In which a UMich law professor blows up every single House GOP defense of Trump

In one handy Twitter thread, law professor Barb McQuade demolishes the bullshit “defenses” Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have been offering against Trump’s impeachment. She shows that the Republicans really do have nothing, zero, zilch, zip, nada.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 7:56 pm

Bill Barr is the worst attorney general ever.

What should be crystal clear after today is that not only is Donald Trump dangerous to the Republic, so is Attorney General Bill Barr. Pursuing a propaganda theory that started with the Kremlin, Barr directed the Justice Department’s Inspector General to investigate the beginnings of the department’s 2016 investigation of Trump campaign connections to the Russians. Trump partisans thought this probe would come up with all sorts of derogatory information. But on Monday, the IG reported: Nope, all clean. Some procedural mistakes, but no hint of bias, and all standards for a proper Justice investigation were properly met.

Barr responded immediately that “in my view,” the IG investigation was inadequate and that the original investigation had been flawed, and never mind that what matters legally isn’t his view but whether departmental standards had been met — which, the IG determined, they had.

So Barr, still intent on pushing Kremlin propaganda to protect the criminal in the White House, has commissioned U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut to do ANOTHER investigation. And THIS time, he’s convinced, he’ll find proof that the original investigation of the Trump campaign was flawed all along. As former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi told MSNBC, “He’s shopping for outcomes, not searching for facts.”

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over and expecting a different result. But Barr isn’t insane, and the real goal here isn’t the result. It’s the APPEARANCE that the original Trump investigation was somehow flawed. THAT is what Barr is trying to sell to Trump voters, and he’s violating his oath of office to do it. We’ve had a run of mediocre to bad attorneys general since John Mitchell under Nixon, but Barr is by far the worst of them all. The nation’s chief law enforcement officer is using the powers of his office to protect a criminal. He, too, must be impeached, and abuse of office, obstruction of justice and obstruction of Congress should be only the starting point for his articles of impeachment.

Monday, December 9, 2019 9:08 pm

If I’d wanted a take this stupid, I’d have subscribed to the Times, not the Post.

Some people have asked me why I found Matt Vizer’s Washington Post story on Elizabeth Warren’s legal work (which I’m not going to link to) so objectionable. The short answer is that both factual accuracy and contextual accuracy matter, and while the story appeared to be factually accurate, it was wildly flawed from a contextual standpoint.

What do I mean by that? Well for starters, the article started out by saying Warren had made $2 million from her legal work. What it should have said in the headline and the same sentence was that she earned that $2 million over about 30 years, so that her average annual income from that work was about $66,000.

The article also should have pointed out that by the standards of corporate lawyers, Warren was grossly underpaid. Top corporate lawyers today command in excess of $1,000 per hour, or more than $2 million per year, not over 30 years.

Contextual accuracy also demands that before anyone stars hinting at impropriety, Warren’s earnings be compared with those of the Clintons and Obamas, who can command several times more money for a one-night speech than Warren averaged pear YEAR during her 30 years of legal work.

It’s fair to ask questions about some the clients Warren chose to represent. But contextual accuracy also requires pointing out that even as she was representing them, she was working to make it more difficult for them to behave in predatory fashion. And in the context of the presidential election, that matters a lot: As one lawyer, Warren couldn’t do much to change the system. But as president of the United States? She might be able to do quite a lot, particularly if Democrats hold the House and retake the Senate. (So could a couple of other current Dem candidates, and I’m reasonably sure that Kamala Harris, who has dropped out, would’ve been able to as well.)

Finally, contextual accuracy demands that the story point out that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, WHILE ON THE WHITE HOUSE PAYROLL, earned between $29 million and $135 million in outside income in 2018. (The reporting requires only ranges, not specific amounts, be reported.) In the face of that level of corruption, the Post’s absurd focus on Warren looks not just misguided but slanted. Indeed, I’ll wager that if the facts had been the same and Warren had been a man, the story wouldn’t even have been conceived, let alone published.

In short, this was the kind of contextually stillborn story that the New York Times specializes in — it was a Hillary’s-emails-type story about Warren. And that’s not just wrong, it’s insulting. If I wanted a take like that, I’d subscribe to the Times. Matt Viser and his editors should be ashamed.

Republicans: Nothing left but bullshit

Because I have a job and a life, I caught only a few snippets of today’s Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing, but this is how stupid and contradictory Republicans are. The committee’s ranking minority member, Doug Collins, and several others called this a “focus-group impeachment” and said no president ever had been impeached so early in his tenure. Well, calling it a focus-group impeachment implies that there’s public support for it – but Republicans keep insisting that the issue is a loser with voters. (How much of a loser is it? Support for impeachment is at 50% in Ohio. Let me say that again: IN. OHIO.)

Republicans also argue that Trump can’t be impeached because he didn’t succeed in completing a quid pro quo. (He did, but set that aside for now.) But they also argue that he can’t be impeached because there’s no evidence because his obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice DID succeed. Sorry, kids, but you don’t get to have it both ways.

And today, committee member John Ratcliffe reached up into his descending colon and pulled out the notion that the whistleblower had somehow perjured himself in his complaint.

Not to be outdone, the committee’s Republican counsel, Stephen Kastor, lied under oath to the panel, stating that the readout of Dump’s July 25 telephone call with Ukrainian president Vlodymyr Zelensky made clear that there was no quid pro quo. In fact there was — read it for yourself. Problem is, if chair Jerry Nadler makes a criminal referral to the Justice Department, as might normally happen, Attorney General Bill Barr will just quash it.

They’re not arguing facts, except to insist that what clearly exists doesn’t. They aren’t arguing the law; they’re arguing a manufactured version of the law. They’ve got nothing but bullshit. No facts. No law. No logic.

And that news media aren’t saying that, simply and forthrightly, is just one more illustration of how much danger this constitutional republic is in.

Sunday, November 17, 2019 7:01 pm

Falcons 29, Panthers 3, and, gawd, what an awful game

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 7:01 pm
Tags:

Hooper and I went to Charlotte for the game, and I am heartily sorry that we did. I said it at the beginning of the season and I will say it again: The Panthers are not a good football team. Worse, after some progress, they are regressing.

This team’s chances have depended all year on the performance of QB1, and this is what I saw from the stands: Kyle Allen’s performance today was miserable, with four picks, three of them in the end zone; five sacks; and 11 QB hits. The passing game was a triple whammy: Receivers weren’t getting separation, the O-line wasn’t giving Allen time, and Allen was making some bad choices and bad throws. Even one of his attempts to just throw the ball away turned into an interception. Sure, he ended up with 300-plus passing yards, but much of that came during garbage time.

One remarkably unsuccessful passing attempt for a TD came on what looked like a busted play, when Allen throw the ball into coverage rather than simply running in from about the 12 when he had a wide-open lane in front of him. I have suspected for some time, and I am not the only one who suspects this, that Allen is being coached not to run because Panthers coaches know that if he gets hurt, Will Grier is their only other option and that Grier is not an NFL-caliber quarterback. At halftime, I thought seriously about starting a “KAEP-ER-NICK!” chant, and some people sitting around us said they thought it wouldn’t have been a bad idea.

The defense actually had a decent day, limiting the Falcons to 3 points total in their first three possessions, which started at the Panthers’ 25, the Panthers’ 28, and the 50. It held the Falcons to 54 rush yards on the day. But the Falcons’ Matt Ryan threw for 311 yards, 143 and a score to Calvin Ridley and 91 more to Julio Jones. And there were times when Luke Kuechly’s own defense seemed to be confusing and confounding him.

I will take a moment to congratulate Christian McCaffrey, who combined 14 carries for 70 yards with 11 catches for 121 yards, making him, if I understood the PA announcer correctly, the fastest player ever to 1,000 rush yards and 500 receiving yards in a season. UPDATE: Per ESPN, McCaffrey now has 246 career receptions, the most recorded by any running back in his first three seasons, breaking the record of 238 held by Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson. He also has 2,592 rush yards and 2,035 receiving yards in his career, joining Herschel Walker as the only NFL player to top 2,500 rush yards and 2,000 receiving yards in his first three seasons.

That said, while the Panthers faithful continue to chant “MVP!” at him, realistically, with the years people like Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson are having, McCaffrey needs about 10 more TDs and/or for the Panthers to finish 11-5 with a playoff spot to even have a chance. One thing is clear: Despite all he does, he cannot, himself, carry this team to the playoffs.

Right now, the Panthers are 3 games behind the Seahawks and 2 1/2 games behind the Vikings in the race for an NFC wild card spot. They could still make the playoffs, but they have another game against the Falcons, two against the division-leading Saints, and games against the Redskins, Colts and Seahawks. Of those six, only the Washington game looks definitely winnable — but at 2-7 going in today, the Falcons looked beatable, too.

The NFL’s cosmically complicated playoff formula says otherwise, but realistically, the Panthers have lost all they can lose now without forfeiting a playoff spot. Players — and coaches — now need to be playing for their jobs, because I sense a big housecleaning coming after this season. And after what I saw today, I would welcome it.

Saturday, November 2, 2019 6:33 pm

So much for “no collusion”

Thanks to a lawsuit filed by Buzzfeed News, CNN and other outlets, some of the FBI interview forms (Form 302s) and emails that formed the basis for the report by special counsel Robert Mueller have been made public. Reporters for those outlets have been digging through them all afternoon, tweeting one nugget after another. (More will be released each month for what could take years.)

But here’s the big picture: There is documentary evidence of presidential candidate Donald Trump telling his staff in 2016, “Get the emails,” referring to the emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee’s server. The records show that those emails were known to be the work product of Russian-allied entities, e.g., Wikileaks.

So what does that mean?

Telling your staff, “Get the emails” is the same thing as telling your staff, “Go collude.” Which is one HELL of a long way away from “no collusion.” It’s almost as much a long way from “no conspiracy.”

So why was this fact — excuse me, this SMOKING GUN — omitted or redacted from the Mueller report? And was the omission Mueller’s work, or FBI Deputy Director Rob Rosenstein’s, or then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s, or someone else’s? Because it looks like Trump’s guilty of conspiracy and whoever covered that fact up is guilty of obstruction of justice. And those documents still have been public for only a few hours.

Friday, November 1, 2019 7:33 pm

Adieu, Beto O’Rourke

Filed under: I want my country back.,Salute! — Lex @ 7:33 pm
Tags:

Earlier tonight, Beto O’Rourke announced that he was exiting the race for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. He should have done so sooner, but I’m still glad he ran.

No matter what he said, this decision was all about money. He pulled out now because he had little left and no prospects of raising much more, as the next round of FEC filings will show. Although he was running third in the polls in Iowa, his single-digit support nationally did not bode well for a sustained campaign.

Still, it’s a damn good thing he ran. He centered his campaign on a number of issues that get way too little in-depth coverage: immigration, climate change, LGBTQ+ issues, and, especially, guns.

He was the one Democratic candidate willing to say what needs to be said: There is no good reason for any American to be allowed to own military-grade weapons, and bans on ownership of such weapons have been found constitutional.

O’Rourke has a huge and loyal following as the result of his unsuccessful 2018 campaign to oust Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. But he says he will not be running for office.

That doesn’t preclude his being selected to be the running mate of the eventual Democratic nominee. And Texas, a Republican bastion for decades, has become increasingly purple. With O’Rourke on the ticket, it’s not impossible to think the Dem nominee could carry Texas, and if he/she did, it would be game over for Dolt 45.

But the same thing might be true of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, an already-established swing state.

I wish O’Rourke well in his personal endeavors and thank him for running. I just wish the half-dozen or more other Democratic candidates who have no chance of winning would do the same.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019 7:05 pm

U.S. Rep. Katie Hill, #MeToo and GOP hypocrisy

U.S. Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., abruptly resigned Sunday after news broke, and revenge porn surfaced, showing that she had had a sexual relationship with a campaign staffer. The lurid part, in addition to the aforementioned revenge porn (and more on which anon), was that the relationship apparently at least started out as a “throuple,” that is, with Hill and her husband, Kenny Heslep, jointly and willingly inviting the staffer to join them for sex.

Democrats immediately and properly decried the revenge porn. But a lot of them also said Hill shouldn’t have been so quick to resign. They argued that the revenge porn made Hill the victim in this scenario and that her soon-to-be-ex-husband, who Hill has said was “abusive” in their relationship, should be punished for distributing it. And they argued that the “success” of this revenge porn made it more likely that others would use the same tactic in the future.

Well, they were half right.

In light of the #MeToo movement, which sprung up about two years ago, Congress enacted a new code of conduct barring relationships between members and staff. (Campaign staff aren’t covered, but the inherent dangers are real whether the staffer is House or campaign. Besides, “Katie Hill shouldn’t resign because she slept with a campaign staffer rather than a Congressional staffer” is not a hill any half-smart Democrat should be willing to die on.) Hill admitted she had had such a relationship. That alone merits her resignation, or her expulsion had she not resigned, whether there had been nude photos or not. Indeed, her behavior had become the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation by the time she resigned.

If Hill and Heslep had invited some consenting adult with no employment ties to the U.S. Congress or any member, I would have no problem with that and would argue that she should stay in office if she wanted to. That’s because I try to mind my own business when the public’s business isn’t compromised or potentially compromised or when a politician isn’t demonstrating rank hypocrisy in the juxtaposition of his public deeds and positions with his private actions. (Those who argue that Hill could have become the victim of blackmail probably didn’t realize, or care, that the blackmailer here was, according to Hill, her own husband. They’re also unconsciously validating our society’s practice of shaming women doing some of the same things men are applauded for in the sexual arena.)

But Democrats also are right to claim that there has been a significant double standard and point to U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who has been indicted on campaign-finance charges and who allegedly used campaign funds to support extramarital affairs with at least five women, including lobbyists and congressional staffers. Hunter’s problems became apparent in 2018, when he was indicted. They grew worse when his wife pleaded guilty in June and named Hunter as a co-conspirator. Hunter has sat tight in his congressional seat, though. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should have held an expulsion vote no later than when his wife turned on him this past summer, and that she has not properly grates on a lot of Democrats (and at least one unaffiliated voter).

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., resigned from the Senate in January 2018 after several women accused him of touching them inappropriately prior to his Senate career. He was right to do it. But he resigned when Republicans like Hunter are staying in Congress after far worse abuses.

And then there’s the abuser-in-chief, who has admitted on video to serially sexually assaulting women (“When you’re a star, they let you”) and has been credibly accused of it by no fewer than 25 women. Granted, there’s no rule that a president should resign because of sexual misconduct. But why should Donald J. Trump be held to a lesser standard than members of Congress?

No one, irrespective of sex or gender orientation, should ever be forced by an employer to engage in unwanted sexual activity, or have unwanted sexual activity be made a condition of continued employment or promotion. The House rules, broadly but wisely, ban any kind of sexual relationship not just with members’ own staffers but also with ANY congressional staffer, so as to preclude even the possibility of sexual harassment. That’s as it should be, and Hill must live with the consequences, irrespective of the fact that she was the victim of revenge porn.

Oh, you thought I’d forgotten about that. I don’t know why any woman would allow herself to be photographed in a compromising position (actually, I do, but that’s a subject for another post). But those who do should be guaranteed the security of their privacy by those who possess the pictures, and betrayal of that privacy, already a crime in California, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, should be a felony with mandatory prison time.

(Conservative news outlets are having a field day with this story, not least because they like giving women no benefit of any doubt. Hill, the first openly bisexual person to serve in Congress, was a natural target. Anna North of Vox does a good job of examining this double standard at the end of this article.)

 

 

Sunday, October 27, 2019 7:57 pm

And the Panthers come crashing to Earth

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 7:57 pm
Tags: , , ,

I didn’t watch the Panthers-49ers game. (Traveling.) But I didn’t have to. ESPN score updates and brief snatches on the radio told the story: In losing to the 49ers 51-13, the Panthers show that they are a bad team.

Kyle Allen’s 4-0 winning streak and low number of interceptions had a lot of people thinking he was the QB1 of the future, and for salary-cap reasons, he might yet be. (The Panthers would have only $19 million in dead money if they don’t renew Cam Newton’s contract after next season, and the Panthers would have to sign him to an expensive, long-term contract if they want to keep him.)

But good QBs don’t go 19 of 37 for 158 yards, no TDs and three picks.

Good teams don’t allow the opponent’s RB1 to run for three TDs and catch a fourth, especially when the opponent’s starting offensive tackles and fullback all are out with injuries. The Panthers rank 27th in the league in rush defense and have given up a league-worst 12 rushing TDs.

Good teams might lose to a team as good as the 7-0 49ers, but they don’t lose by 38 points.

Christian McCaffrey had a 40-yard TD run and 117 rushing yards on the day. But he cannot carry this team. The O-line cannot continue to give up seven sacks in a game no matter who’s lined up behind center.

One thing was made obvious today: The Panthers’ best chance to win is with a healthy Cam Newton under center. But the last time he was healthy any length of time was four years ago. And the defense, whether in 3-4 or 4-3, simply cannot stop the run.

This team has serious problems. Of the four teams they have beaten, only one, Houston is any good.  And this was a team supposedly built to win the Super Bowl this year.

Head Coach Ron Rivera is going to have to fix problems on both sides of the ball, particularly the O-line — he said after the game, “Problems will be addressed,” but he always says that after a loss — and pray for Newton’s prompt return. Otherwise, he’s gone after this season and he won’t be the only one.

 

 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019 6:22 pm

Sure, you can riot … if you’re a white Republican

Once again, the GOP has proven itself literally lawless. Let’s be very clear about what happened today. The Republicans who attempted to get into the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility in which three House committees are taking depositions and testimony from witnesses in the impeachment investigation BROKE THE LAW. Several took their cell phones into the facility and even “broadcast live,” violating security regulations.

Republicans are fond of talking about a “secret impeachment,” and unfortunately, even a few journalists have started using that phrase. There is no secret impeachment. There is a secret impeachment INVESTIGATION, just as there was before articles of impeachment for Bill Clinton were publicly discussed and voted upon. The only difference is that Clinton’s investigation was conducted by a special prosecutor (which the GOP-controlled Congress sought and the Clinton Justice Department granted), while Democratic House members and staff are conducting the investigation by themselves because the Trump/Barr Justice Department would not appoint a special prosecutor.

(Republicans also are insisting that for an impeachment investigation to be “official,” the full House must vote on it. The Constitution says no such thing. They’re counting on your not knowing that.)

If the investigation recommends articles of impeachment, any discussion or vote on those articles, in committee or in the full House, will be conducted on live TV, and Republicans know it. They just hope you’re not as informed as they are.

Moreover, both Republican and Democratic members of all three committees already are present in the SCIF, and Republicans are getting equal time to ask witnesses questions. They complain of leaks by Democrats, and that’s a legitimate complaint. But the absence of leaks by Republicans, even to such reliably Trump-friendly outlets as Fox & Friends, Breitbart or Tucker Carlson tells you all you need to know about the substance of what the committees are hearing.

Knowing this, and having no other way to stop the hemorrhage of damning information about Trump, Republicans today simply rioted to disrupt the hearing.

This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened. During the disputed Florida election of 2000, Republicans sent Congressional aides to literally throw a temper tantrum (when it’s not white boys doing it, we say “riot”) outside one location where recounts were under way. The so-called Brooks Brothers Riot in Florida during the 2000 election recount actually succeeded in stopping a recount that was finding more and more unread ballots actually to have been votes for Democratic candidate Al Gore.

The Republicans stole the presidency in 2000. They stole the presidency again in 2016. They’re trying to do it again in 2020. We cannot allow that.

In impeachment, remember, the House acts as a grand jury, considering whether to effectively indict the president (or other high federal officials) on charges, on which the Senate acts as jury in holding a trial. An ordinary defendant with an ordinary grand jury doesn’t even get to see or hear witnesses, let alone confront and cross-examine them. In an impeachment proceeding, the Republicans will be able to cross-examine witnesses and perhaps even offer their own, if the Democratic majority allows them to subpoena them.

They shouldn’t bother. Trump’s Emoluments Clause violations are a matter of public record, and his abuse of office in hinging military aid to Ukraine on that government’s willingness to dig up dirt on the son of a possible Democratic challenger was nailed down as a quid pro quo by former Ambassador Bill Taylor in his testimony Tuesday. No witness can exculpate him.

But just as important is the Republicans’ willingness to break the law to bring about their desired political result. House Democrats should vote to censure every Republican who took part in today’s disturbance, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi should order suspended for a week without pay any congressional staffers who took part in the disturbance. She needs to make clear that we, the American people, will have law and order, Trump’s gangster instincts and corrupt government cronies like Bill Barr be damned.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 5:28 pm

Why civilization is overrated and other interesting facts

Friend Dan Conover has some insights into how disease has affected civilization. He’s also got the lede of a lifetime: “In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, I’m here to talk about everyone’s favorite topic: disease.”) Some I knew about; many I did not. Worth a read. (No, I haven’t read Guns, Germs & Steel. Yes, I am a bad person for that. But it’s on my list.)

Friday, October 11, 2019 7:36 pm

End of an era: Shepard Smith quits Fox News #ShepSmith

I wonder to what extent Bill Barr’s recent meeting with Murdoch influenced Smith’s thinking. That said, he has been a small ray of sanity at an otherwise diseased news outlet for a long time. Put another way, journalistically speaking, he has served his time in hell. I admire his decision and wish him all the best in the future.

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