Sunday, November 29, 2020

This Dark Memorial In Some Discarded Corner of America

(Update: Infidel753 was kind enough to include this in his weekly blog roundup this Sunday!)

It's something that pops up on Twitter every so often, ever since November 2016, essentially this one question most of the people I follow end up asking aloud: "Does this Shitgibbon donald trump actually get a Presidential Library?"

As a professional librarian this is a question that interests me and compels me to answer. Well, the simple honest answer is "Yes" the Shitgibbon will be granted the ability to form his own Presidential Library. The situation is a little more complicated than that.

We need to note what a Presidential Library actually is, what purpose it serves. If we go by the laws - like the Presidential Libraries Act of 1986 - set up by Congress, the primary purpose of the library is to serve as a depository for the National Archives and Records Administration (the agency responsible for storing, indexing, and sharing official documents so the government can keep track of what the hell it's doing and so historians will have something to argue over 100 years from now).

Every administration, especially trump's as President Loser of the Popular Vote (Twice), will have a stockpile of papers, memos, agendas, agreements, Executive Orders, and other tidbits required by law to remained stored and made available for future reference. Personal notes and papers - diaries and private correspondences - are also considered for collections to add context (this is optional, some Presidential private papers remain with family or were destroyed after death). 

As the powers and responsibilities of the Executive branch grew, the need to store and archive grew with it. Sharing these responsibilities out to a library dedicated to that particular President (mutter grumble trump shouldn't fcking count but he does mutter mutter) is a way to keep things organized by era (and to keep it from being kept in one oversized warehouse constantly expanding to keep up with the storage. Look at your own closet, how stuffed is it with 10-20 years worth of books, utility bills, and winter holiday cards?).

To that end, the Presidential Library serves as an academic research facility, with study areas, meeting rooms, and workstations to allow visiting students/researchers to access the materials for their needs. This part will be most like a small college library with clerks, assistants, and full-time professional librarians overseeing access to the collection.

But in practice a Presidential Library is more akin to a museum (close cousin to the library). The facility will be open for tours, displaying memorabilia, artwork, and promoting themes and iconography prominently associated to that administration. A mock-up of the Oval Office will be built (it would likely be where the carpeting and furniture from that tenure ends up). Presentation halls for large gatherings to one side, gift shops on the other.

A perfect example is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. It's best known as a popular tourist attraction where every four years the Republicans would host a primary debate (so that the candidates can suck up to the ghost of Saint Ronnie to appeal to their party voters as Reagan's Heir to the Throne) in California.

The thing is, while NARA provides some funding, that funding is very limited. Every Presidential Library - and there are several NOT supported by the National Archives, usually the ones before FDR when the agency started managing presidential papers - has to fund itself in some form or another (hence the paid tours and gift shops).

Many a Presidential Library started through private funding and the setup of a non-profit organization to manage/oversee that library/museum. The non-profit is responsible for finding the land, planning the architecture, paying the construction, and hiring most staff at which point NARA signs off on the deal and shuffles the collected papers to that library's storage shelves. (Some libraries, serving more as memorials/museums, are overseen by National Parks instead. There's still a non-profit overseeing each of those)

This is where it gets tricky for trump himself. his track record with non-profits is... um... colorful at best, criminal (at the New York state level) at the least. trump's ability - or even the ability of his family and business associates - to start such a non-profit has been crippled at the moment (that and he's too busy grifting over the "fake votes" argument to set up emails begging for library funds). I haven't seen a foundation/non-profit set up for a Presidential Library for him, have you? (seriously if you did and it's a legit one not a parody site, add the link to the comment section please and thank you)

Another thing to consider is the overall mess trump's administration has been. Archivists, historians, and other observers have been complaining about the lack of effective record-keeping in his offices. A combination of understaffing and unqualified hires contributed to a disorganized management system. When you consider the possibility of half the things trump and his cohorts did in the White House - the way they broke the immigration policies and committed potential human rights abuses towards children, for God's sake - we're facing the possibility that half the documentation for trump's would-be library will be missing, destroyed, or redacted into solid pages of black lines.

It's not going to be much of a Presidential Library if the President Loser of the Popular Vote (Twice) shredded the entire paper trail.

Another big question about a trump Library will be "where the hell are they gonna put that thing?"

Insert flaming dumpster GIF here.

Others have already planned out a trump Presidential Library... as being a long hallway of Twitter posts and nothing more. Another one has plans for a fake border wall and COVID memorial pool.

Okay, all joking aside, this is a serious question. Most Presidential Libraries place themselves in areas of most importance to the President it honors (usually birthplaces, colleges they attended, or their primary residence when they became President). Gerald Ford is unique among NARA-supported facilities by having a Library where he went to college (Ann Arbor) and a separate Museum where he grew up (Grand Rapids). U.S. Grant's Library is at Mississippi State University (!) rather than Illinois or other places he resided. Obama is setting up his Center (it won't be a library for some reason, more a museum and advocacy office) where he came to political power (Chicago) instead of birthplace (HAWAII, YOU BASTARDS) or college (Columbia or Harvard). 

trump's Library placement situation has already been discussed, among the more serious punditry, although it's still a guessing game at this point. It seems unlikely trump will get an opportunity to use his college - UPenn and its Wharton College of Business have not bragged about their connection to trump since 2016 - and his unpopularity in New York (city and state) makes it unlikely he'll find a place in his birth-town of Queens.

One thing trump has advantage of is he already owns properties across the states - his trump Towers, his trump Resorts - that he could arguably turn into tax write-offs um non-profit center(s) to build his Library. Mar-A-Lago has oft been cited as a likely spot: It's where he relocated his residency status in 2019 and more likely where he'll go into hiding from arrest warrants after January 20 until he can sneak a ride out to a nation that won't extradite him. Property laws in Florida are relatively protective for owners: Lawsuits that might otherwise wipe out every other source of revenue trump could have won't be able to touch his Florida properties. It is unlikely that NARA will approve it as an archives location, however: Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach is right between the Atlantic Ocean and Intercoastal Waterway, extremely vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding. It would never be a library in any sense.

As a Presidential Museum, of course, it would make perfect sense. The museum won't need to answer to the demands of history or accuracy: the trump Museum would be a grand display of trump's narcissism. Every nook, room, and hallway filled with garish, gaudy tributes to trump's "greatness". A performance hall with a stage dedicated to any speaker offering praise and holiest-of-thous to a con artist, an assembly dedicated to the greed and graft of a corrupt overlord.

It's why I don't see a future trump Library as being anything more than an oversized gift store: Balanced between a Far Right bookstore selling trump ghost-written hagiographies at 100 bucks a cover, and a South Florida tourist trap shilling MAGA beach towels and trump-signed golf clubs.

Any honest, reputable librarian with a Masters degree in Information Sciences is going to steer clear of the place. I doubt there will be a need for a librarian at all: Only hucksters need apply.

Friday, November 27, 2020

trump Keeps Banging That War Drum in the Middle East, November 2020 Edition

It's like these fuckers WANT to start a war they know Biden would have to resolve on his own. Reported just today via The Week:

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a nuclear scientist who has been suspected of leading Iran's nuclear weapons program, was shot and killed Friday while traveling in a vehicle east of Tehran, Iranian state media said. He was apparently taken to the hospital for treatment, but doctors were unable to save him. Fakhrizadeh has long been a top target of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif believes Jerusalem was behind the assassination, but a spokesperson for the Israeli military refused to comment. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed retaliation against the perpetrators. Not much is known about Fakrizadeh, believed to be 59, but a 2007 CIA assessment said his role as a physics professor was likely a cover story, and it later became clear he was in charge of Iran's warhead development, The New York Times reports.

Refer back to what happened at the very start of this year, when trump and his administration ordered a public strike in Iraq killing a top Iranian military official. What I said then:

This isn't like the strike Obama called on Bin Laden back in 2011. Bin Laden by then was a pariah figure among most Muslim power brokers and nations with few allies to defend or mourn him. The backlash against his death was meager (and in some ways welcomed) across the Middle East. This is different. Soleimani was a high-ranking figure within the Iranian government itself, a major player with ally Syria, and someone well-connected among the Shi'a militia forces threatening much of Iraq and Kurdish areas not yet flattened by Turkey/Russia.

This is like Iran calling an airstrike on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The kind of thing that would trigger a major political and military response from us. The kind of thing where a declaration of war would be a rational response.

And yet it wouldn't surprise me if trump and his remaining foreign policy/military advisors would welcome this move. trump thinks war is a game and probably thinks this is the kind of thing that will win him more support and silence his Democratic critics.

But war for political gain is no longer a smart move. War for conquest and resources ends up squandering both...

It's telling that the cooler heads prevailing from that mess were the Iranians, who know damn well getting into a straight-up fight with the United States will hurt them as much as it would hurt us. Most evidence seems to point to Iran doing their best to survive trump's bullying until Biden enters the Presidency and resumes diplomatic efforts that would benefit them.

Today's attack - suggested to be an Israeli strike but with U.S. and Saudi backing, considering the reports coming out that Netanyahu and his head of Mossad (intelligence agency) secretly met with U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and the crown prince Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia about four days ago - is another attempt to goad Iran into war, something that would fulfill trump's self-promotion as a military genius who knows better than the generals as well as start a quagmire he wouldn't have to worry about after January 20, 2021.

This is serious shit. Again.

Referring to Cheryl Rofer at Balloon-Juice, who has a background in foreign policy and nuclear proliferation, this is not good news:

Israel, and the Trump administration, have been trying to break the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) so that it cannot be revived. The JCPOA froze and even pushed back Iran’s nuclear weapons program, putting it under greater international scrutiny than any nuclear program in the world.

But war with Iran is what Mike Pompeo and other Trump advisors have wanted. It is also what Netanyahu wants, as long as the losses are primarily America’s.

On top of the devastation of the Iraq War, a war with Iran would tear the Middle East apart. Those desiring war imagine that it would destroy Iran without extreme damage to themselves...

I'm not an expert on these matters the way Rofer is, but I'd wager she would agree with every point I've made about why a war with Iran is a bad idea.

How much of this is trump thinking a declaration of war against Iran - if he can provoke them into making a massive attack against U.S. forces in the area - would allow him to suspend the election transition is pure speculation. It wouldn't work because the election is hard-wired into the Constitution and he can't stop what's coming this January 20th. 

We should consider this is trump's way of getting his mobs to cheer him on as a war hawk, while leaving the bills to get paid by Biden as a vindictive Fuck-You parting gift.

The year that is 2020 isn't done with us yet...

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Turkey Sacrifice Day 2020: The Big Question

I mean, seriously, YouTube's been around for more than a decade, and yet we can't get a clean copy of the most epic punchline in television history?!

This is like someone videotaped the television. It's a copy of a copy, blurry and out of alignment.


Also, say a prayer to the New York Jets in honor of the Butt Fumble. I have spoken.

Here Come The Pardons: The Beginning of the End for trump

(Update: Thanks this weekend to Tengrain for including this article in Crooks&Liars' Mike's Blog Round-Up! Have some pardoned turkey while you're here...)

And no, this is NOT the annual pardoning of the turkey I'm talking about. Per Ryan Lucas at NPR:

President Trump has pardoned his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who spent years enmeshed in an often bizarre legal war with the government that sprang from the Russia investigation.

Trump announced the news Wednesday on Twitter as Americans prepared to observe the Thanksgiving holiday this week.

So, yeah, he just... tweeted it out. Again. Back to Lucas:

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador and then cooperated extensively with prosecutors. But he ultimately reversed course and accused the government of trying to frame him.

Flynn went so far as to withdraw his first plea of guilty and substitute a second plea of not guilty, even though he'd acknowledged the underlying conduct that was against the law and been close to receiving a sentence...

The Justice Department was not consulted about the Flynn pardon in the way it often takes part in the preparation of presidential pardons, a department official said on Wednesday. The official described the situation on the condition the person not be identified.

The Justice Department did get a "heads-up" on Wednesday, the official said, and the person said "this is obviously an appropriate use of the president's pardon power."

Justice Department leaders would have preferred, however, for Flynn's case to have been resolved in court, where federal Judge Emmet Sullivan still had not ruled on the government's request to abandon its prosecution...

It's that ongoing matter that may still be an ongoing matter even with this pardon. It all depends on the exact wording that will end up in the paperwork. For more, let's head over to Emptywheel who's been covering the Michael Flynn case for the past few years and (catches Emptywheel finishing off a once-full bottle of scotch) uh let's give it a minute, okay here we go:

None of the outlets reviewed how complex successfully pardoning Flynn will be, without making Trump’s — or Flynn’s son’s — fate worse. That’s true because the posture of the Flynn case before Judge Emmet Sullivan is such that Sullivan has multiple possible options for holding Flynn accountable, depending on when Sullivan moves and when Trump does.

If Trump pardoned Flynn for the crimes to which Flynn pled guilty, false statements, today, a Foreign Agent of Turkey pardoned right alongside a Thanksgiving turkey — then DOJ’s motion to dismiss the prosecution for Flynn’s false statements charges would likely be mooted. But there’s still a pending motion to withdraw Flynn’s plea before Judge Sullivan, which by itself mooted DOJ’s promises not to prosecute Flynn for hiding that he was working for the government of Turkey rather than just a foreign business in a FARA filing in March 2017. Plus, when Flynn pled, it was understood that would end the investigation, but given that he reneged on his plea, there’s nothing stopping DOJ from investigating Mike Jr for his involvement with Turkey, if Flynn were pardoned.

But that’s still not adequate. Flynn made multiple materially conflicting statements before Judge Sullivan and the grand jury. When directing amicus John Gleeson on what he should consider, Sullivan asked whether he should hold Flynn in contempt. Gleeson said that, instead, he should consider those additional lies when sentencing him on the charged crimes. DOJ argued that Sullivan should, instead, refer the charges to DOJ. Even if Sullivan referred those charges today and Bill Barr declined prosecution (as DOJ made clear in hearings they would), Biden’s DOJ could reopen the case. So to get Flynn out of trouble for his efforts to blow up his own prosecution, Trump would have to pardon those crimes as well. But if Trump pardoned Flynn today, Sullivan could wait and ultimately hold Flynn in contempt; while Trump succeeded in freeing Joe Arpaio of criminal contempt with a pardon, it’s not clear whether that could work preemptively.

Assuming Trump does pardon Flynn for some or all of these crimes, it would add several overt actions to obstruction charges against himself. So unless he’s sure that Mike Pence would give him a last minute pardon (or certain that his own self-pardon would withstand legal review), then pardoning all Flynn’s crimes would pile up his own exposure.

Then, if Trump does pardon Flynn, it will surely become a matter for a hearing before one or the other of the Judiciary Committees into Trump’s abuse of the pardon power. Flynn will have no Fifth Amendment privilege and Biden’s DOJ will have the ability to enforce contempt motions from Congress. As I have noted, in the process of attempting to blow up Flynn’s prosecution, Ric Grenell and Sidney Powell and DOJ have released documents that will make it far harder for Mike Flynn to sustain his claim not to remember what Trump’s involvement in the “collusion” with Russia was. Public testimony (or even depositions run by staffers) might elicit evidence that would subject Trump himself to conspiracy charges or might result in new false statements charges...

Not that any of this matters to trump. What's happening here, since there's little Flynn can do for trump personally anymore, is that trump is starting to clean up as much evidence of his criminal misdeeds that he can. For all of trump's bullshit about the 2020 election results - that Biden "stole" the win from him - he can't avoid the facts that Biden honestly won the Popular and Electoral votes and that no matter what Biden is getting sworn into office January 20, 2021. trump has a deadline now, and even he knows it.

This pardon is one in a long line of expected moves involving many of trump's handlers - Manafort, Stone, etc. - designed to "pay off" or confirm the loyalty of these corrupt people to the corrupt lord for whom they've done the dirty work. Even with the arguments about the Fifth Amendment and what these crooks may face in future criminal investigations, this is trump's way of making sure they remember they are all in the same boat and that they'll need to keep their damn mouth shut, any investigations and legal systems be damned.

This is all for show, political kabuki, trump giving these men a "clean bill" that they can then use to crow to trump's base. You can see it already with other Republicans hailing Flynn as a "victim" of wanton librul witch-hunting. This is trump playing to the cameras, not to the legal system or the history books. 

But like everything else trump does, as Emptywheel is pointing out, it's being done in a haphazard way, without much thought or care into the process. Meaning that, despite all of trump's hopes, his pardon power doesn't have the reach he thinks it has. Flynn is still vulnerable to jail time. Prosecutors are bringing up their arguments that Manafort should face his state charges - which had been dismissed earlier - because the federal ones he's been convicted for are about to get washed away.

And has been noted before, any pardons trump thinks he can make for himself isn't going to save him from New York's legal system: Rumors abound that both the criminal and civil investigations into possible tax evasion and fraud are set to go out the second trump is no longer in office.

trump's faithful can yell and scream all they want. The media punditry chiding Biden into offering trump a pardon so "we can put this behind ourselves for the good of the nation" need to recognize that JUSTICE should matter more than their fantasies of bipartisanship (THAT ship sailed the minute Mitch decided to obstruct Obama 24/7 back in 2009). trump's caused too much damage to our political norms, trump has committed too many crimes in office and beforehand to be so easily forgiven.

trump is at the end of his last big con. This is all just him flailing about as he falls into the deep pit he deserves. It's now a question of how many deluded souls fall in with him.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Five Reasons trump Refuses To Concede (w/Update)

(Update: Thanks as always to Batocchio for adding me to Crooks&Liars' Mike's Blog Round-Up! Stay safe out there, readers, wear the damn masks and watch out for coup attempts)

We're about two weeks into the reality that Pennsylvania called for Biden, clinching the Electoral count he needs. We're two days out from Georgia finishing their recount efforts – they have rules to recount if a result is too close, and it was looking that way for both the Presidential ticket and one of the Senate races – and confirming that Biden won that state (arguably the first real crack in the GOP Southern Strategy we've ever seen, more on that another time) pretty much putting Biden at 306 Electoral Votes to trump's 232 (in a great irony, this is the mirror result of 2016 where trump had 306 to Hillary's 232, except this time Biden also has the Popular Vote locked in).

And here's trump still, denying the results, screaming about fraud, and sending mixed messages and different lawyer teams into (and out of) various states trying something, ANYTHING, to get the courts to flip the majority will of Americans so HE can outright steal a second term and stay in power.

It's both horrifying – trump is no longer hiding his obsession to rule as a dictator – and hilarious – his efforts are so pathetic even wimp fights are more brutal.

So just to pass the time – until the moment when trump decides to go full coup d'etat and call out his Proud Boys supremacist militias to overthrow the state governments, or he succeeds in convincing three state legislatures (Michigan's, Pennsylvania's, and Georgia's) to ignore the votes and illegally seat their own pro-trump Electors – here's my five cents on why trump is behaving this way.

Reason One: trump's narcissism.

We've known going into this nightmare that trump is pure Id, even more than his Ego. Operating on impulse and on the bare minimum of self-awareness let alone awareness of others.

Trump has made it clear he views the world in the simplest of terms: That people are divided into Winners and Suckers, and that HE (champion and most excellent of the former group) shall never be lumped in with the latter.

So just on this mindset alone, trump cannot admit – not to others, not to himself – that he lost. Granted, he's lost before: His many bankruptcies should be viewed as admissions of failure, except that thanks to his lawyers and through the mercies of bankruptcy laws trump was able to wiggle his way out of responsibility and still claim himself a successful businessman who “gamed the system.” His failure with the USFL vs. NFL antitrust lawsuit should be a glaring example – if you ever read the jury findings, you'll see how the jurors recoiled from trump's bullshit and saw him as the instigator and not the victim – except that trump still blames everyone else for that folly. The Trump University scam that was haunting him during the 2016 campaign itself should be viewed as a loss, except again he worked out a plea deal that guaranteed the settlement would cast no blame nor lingered on the open fraud he and his cronies committed.

In one respect, trump lost in 2016: The Popular vote clearly went for Hillary. But due to the broken and anti-democratic nature of the Electoral College, trump squeaked into winning three battleground states with literally mere hundreds of votes that gave him their Electoral Votes instead. It should be noted that trump promptly crowed – against all evidence – that he had won a LANDSLIDE, not just the College but also the Popular vote, and claimed it was the greatest victory in history (ignoring the Electoral and Popular vote blowouts of 1984 and 1932 (we don't count Nixon's 1972 blowout because the cheating exposed by the Watergate scandal negates that)).

Trump can't crow like that this time. The illusion of the Electoral College can't grant him that excuse. So he has to settle on denial. Constant, whining denial that he's the victim of voter fraud and to get us to pity him back into office.

Reason Two: Republican Denial of Democratic Party legitimacy

In this, trump is not acting alone. One of the reasons why trump's attempts to subvert the election results is ongoing is because the rest of the Republican Party has no choice but to agree with him.

Just as trump has to deny Biden his victory, the Republicans have to deny the Democratic Party theirs. The whole point of GOP gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts is to reduce the majority advantages the Dems hold across most of the large-population (and most battleground) states. Remember, Republicans are currently in power as a minority (political, not ethnic) party.  If the Democrats hold at least two parts of the federal government – the Executive, and part of the Legislature with the U.S. House – that reduces the strength they have on the national stage, and makes them vulnerable – through investigation and oversight by a Dem-controlled Justice Department – at the state level as well.

The more trump screams that Biden cheated and stole the election from him, the easier it becomes part of the Far Right Narrative that the Republican party can shill on Fox Not-News and other wingnut outlets. The Narrative will repeat the story they sold to the world when Obama was in office: The Democratic leadership is illegitimate and must be obstructed for the greater good. Where the GOP sold that by accusing Obama of being a Fake American (dirty Mooslim Kenyan Usurper Socialist), they will repackage by accusing Biden of being a Fake President (demented anti-Catholic Usurper Socialist).

We're seeing the ramifications of that right now. A little-known agency in the Executive branch (GSA) that oversees the Transition period is refusing to recognize Biden, cutting off Biden's team from coordinating with the government to ensure a smooth entry in January. Considering this can hamper Biden's ability to manage an out-of-control pandemic as well as handle any foreign disruptions, this singular act of spite can get people killed...

Reason Three: Making Money.

One of the greatest sins of the Citizens United court ruling has been to let the political campaign system turn into a financial free-for-all with little oversight and too much cash getting wasted on Gods-know-what.

We've already seen glimpses of this with the growing scandal revolving around trump's banished campaign manager Brad Parscale. We're seeing more of it right now in the past two weeks where trump's campaign – and other Republican PACs – have been spamming email requests (more like demands) to their voting faithful to help pay for the legal fees of trump's ongoing lawsuits to nullify thousands of mail-in ballots he doesn't like.

Thing is, you need to read the fine print in these fundraising emails: A number of them state that depending on the amount donated the first amount – say, the first $5,000 of a donation – won't go to the legal effort. That money would go instead to pay off debts in trump's campaign instead (and maybe even to trump himself).

It's another grift. Trump is trying to squeeze out every last penny from his sucker fanbase. Always the dollars, always the fucking dollars.

Reason Four: There is nowhere else for trump to go after all this, except to jail.

I keep harping on this fact: trump's whole life has been a series of escalating con games, moving up from property ownership and renting, to land speculation, to casinos, to golf courses, to team sports ownership, to marketing books, to marketing junk, to marketing himself as a celebrity, to marketing himself as God-Emperor. Every step a con, scheming his way into a fantasy life of permanent wealth he can never attain because he's borrowing too much and spending too much. Every business move collapsing onto itself due to his own mismanagement and abuse, setting himself up just enough so he can jettison the failure and move on to the next big deal.

This is pretty much how he gambled his way through life, and how he scammed his way – through bullying the Republicans into accepting him as a candidate, through bullshitting his way through every primary, through overwhelming the national media to give him free airtime 24/7 to shill his campaign – into a White House he really didn't earn or deserve.

Once in the White House, trump behaved the only way he knew how: Grabbing everything he could in fits of greed, cutting corners by ignoring rules and practices set in stone to ensure legal norms were upheld, and letting his underlings waste time and resources to pander to his whims. Trump violated the Emoluments Clause from Day One, for God's sake. Aided and abetted by a Republican-controlled Congress until 2019, trump ran rampant allowing his agencies to fleece the taxpayers at will, promoting cronyist behavior at every turn

The Hatch Act – separating the needs of election campaigning from the powers of the Presidency – was broken so many times by his handlers and then by trump himself that the law itself currently isn't fit on paper for use as toilet paper.

And all of this – thanks to trump firing agency-level Inspector Generals and abusing the Justice Department as his own law firm defending every corrupt act in trump's administration – happened with little oversight and legal accountability, right up to his getting impeached for using foreign policy to compel another country to interfere with our own elections. With a Republican-controlled Senate covering his ass, trump never had to worry about the consequences of every sin he's ever committed.

Until now.

With all the things he's done – before and during his tenure – trump was protected by a questionably legal standing order that sitting Presidents are immune from criminal investigations and charges (civil matters is a different matter per Jones v Clinton). Once trump is officially done as President – the second Biden swears his Oath of Office on January 20 2021 – trump is criminally liable for every potential criminal act, especially the Emoluments violations as well as any national security violations he may have done. Granted, there are statutes of limitations, from what I've heard they last five years so any law he broke in 2017 has to be reviewed and charged by 2022.

The other thing the Presidential status protected trump from were the criminal and civil matters he broke before he ran for office, such as the sexual assaults that have been documented and especially the one (maybe more) awaiting his DNA sample in civil court. Trump had mastered – thanks to his army of lawyers, the only ones he ever really pays well – the tactics of delay delay delay to force his legal opponents into giving up and dealing out. However: he's used that trick too many times, he can't use being in office as an excuse after January, and he's now at the end of the number of other tricks he can keep pulling off before the judge(s) simply decide to hold him in contempt.

Piling on top of that are the reports that trump – for all his stealing and thievery in office – is broke, millions of dollars in debt, and some of the largest debts are due within the next four months. If he were still President past January 2021, he could delay those debts even further (or pay them off abusing his access to funds, further criminalizing his actions while in office). Alas, he won't be able to do that with Biden winning...

And the most obvious thing of all, the Sword of Damocles dangling over trump's head, are the criminal charges awaiting him with the State of New York. Following on the investigations into trump's bribing of mistresses and illegal use of funds from his now-defunct charity, these are legal matters that even as President trump cannot stop or delay. 

Oh, trump could force his owned Department of Justice to intervene, maybe even arrest state-level officials, maybe even steal off evidence and destroy it all in the Attorney General's office, but it would be such a violation of federalism (separation of Federal and State powers) that it would trigger straight-up Civil War. Trump could try pardoning himself, but Presidential pardons only cover federal crimes, not state. Hilariously enough, New York's District Attorneys could hit trump with criminal charges even if trump had won this election cycle, creating the unique sight of the Commander-in-Chief Loser of the Popular Vote wearing an orange jumpsuit while in handcuffs.

New York's legal system - spearheaded by DA Letitia James - has trump by the short hairs, and he knows it. The only real escape from that was staying in the White House under siege for four years until he got the gardeners to dig him an escape tunnel to Bermuda.

Anyone genuinely dreaming of trump running for the Presidency again in 2024 has to wake up to the reality that by 2024 trump can well be sitting in a safe-watch wing of an upstate New York prison waiting out a 5-year sentence after a jury finds him guilty of at least one count of fraud. Anyone – trump included – thinking he can start up his own media empire to rival Fox Not-News is ignoring this reality as well.

Let me repeat: This is it for him. Trump has nowhere else to go, other than prison on fraud charges, or exile to a country that doesn't extradite to the United States.

Reason Five: Straight-up Delusion

trump has yet to play out every trick he can pull to steal away Biden's Electoral win. Of great concern is the reported effort by the state legislatures in key battlegrounds – Pennsylvania, Michigan, and now Georgia – to ignore the majority votes in their own states, nullify those votes in fact, and directly select their state's own Electors.

This is where the vague wiggle room of laws hurt us. The Constitution itself doesn't spell out how the states select their Electors: it was assumed that every able-bodied citizen under the law (propertied white men first, then all white men, then all men regardless of race, then all women also regardless of race, then all Americans 18 and older) would vote and the states write in laws to accept that, and for the most part it's gone that way. Only rarely – I know of one instance, South Carolina in 1860 had their legislature pick the winner because they feared even a Pro-Union Pro-Slavery Southerner could win – had a state overridden the voting process. Only once since then – the 1876 election where two states could not agree on certifying which Electors to send – had this been an issue (and the solution for that was undemocratic as hell and the results allowed Jim Crow to flourish). 

The expectation is that the state legislators will respect the rights and the views of their state's majorities and choose Biden's roster of Electors to complete the process. The situation won't put trump's ass on the line, it'll be the legislators who would have to deal with angry voters – not just Democrats but even Republican voters who still (yes there are many) respect the right of voting – within minutes of breaking tradition (and even their own state's election laws).

And... it's looking like the states in question - even Arizona - are refusing trump's call to subvert the election results. So this is pretty much a moot point.

After this, trump's only remaining move to stay in power is an outright coup d'etat.

This isn't over yet.

trumpian Denial of COVID-19 Is Dooming, Will Doom Us

I saw this on Twitter this morning.

This is not only happening in South Dakota but also North Dakota, and Montana, and Iowa, and Wisconsin, and Illinois, and Ohio, and Florida, and...

It's happening in every state, at some level, where there's enough trump-worshipping denialists who've been told by their media overlords that COVID-19 is a Chinese-backed Socialist plot, that it's a hoax pushed by libruls to take our freedoms, that oh heavens if they do get it there's a miracle cure that trump himself took that's readily available at some rural underfunded clinic instead of a high-tech military hospital.

It doesn't occur to the trumpian "true believers" that trump intentionally refuses to take an active effort to control the pandemic's spread, they don't hear you when you point out how trump himself openly declared "I'm not taking any responsibility at all" to mandate nationwide health guides and public safety rules.

And because of trump's failures at leadership - his active avoidance of it - we are now facing a massive upward spike of COVID positive infections across the entire nation, here have John Cole at Balloon Juice share a few words ("What the Fuck Is WRONG With People") on this (complete with links to charts):

We’re gonna blast past 200k (cases daily) before we even get to Thanksgiving. If I were God emperor, I would lock everyone down, issue mask mandates, and mount speakers every 100 yards playing this nonstop until people didn’t want to leave the fucking house...

I laugh-cried at the “if people don’t learn” part. The most American thing in the world is NEVER FUCKING LEARNING ANYTHING EVER.

The worst thing about this is that Trump’s followers are literally a cult. Anything he says or does they mindlessly repeat and replicate. If that motherfucker would just have asked his followers to wear a fucking mask we wouldn’t be in half the mess we are in right now.

We're well past the point of hospitals being overwhelmed. Our health care workers - nurses especially - are threatening national strikes to force the government to do SOMETHING to put the nation back on lockdown like we did in March-April. But we're running into the seasonal holidays - when people want to gather families for Thanksgiving, when they feel the need to go Christmas shopping in-person because GODDAMMIT that's what Black Fridays are for - the most God-awful worst time to try and impose any lockdown at all.

trump meanwhile is sulking and throwing hissy fits about Biden's popular vote and Electoral College win, still screaming about it being stolen even as his lawyers keep failing to prove ANY kind of voter fraud happened at all. trump will refuse to do anything to help a nation he's likely viewing as having betrayed him. The Pandemic Response team that's supposed to be run by VP Pence hasn't even done anything in two weeks.

We are literally facing a winter of chaos and calamity, and while we may have a calmer future promised to us with Biden entering the Presidency in January, between then and now we are doomed to suffer at trump's whims.

Gods help us.

Friday, November 13, 2020

This is 2020 Friday the 13th Edition

Just throwing this out there.

After 87,000 turkeys exploded in fire, Greenberg shuts down for holiday season (via Dallas Morning News)

The newly-elected Senator for Alabama, former football coach from Auburn Tommy Tuberville, doesn't know who the United States fought against in the Second World War (via Political Wire). Yeah, Tuberville is pretty much going to be the DUMBEST Senator in toady's Congress (and in a field containing Marco Rubio, that takes some effort).

trump is threatening to start his own trump-flavored Far Right media empire (via Bloomberg). Considering how every other trump-promoted endeavor has turned to ash, Fox News shouldn't worry...

Oh, and we're seeing massive spikes in COVID-19 infections meaning an equivalent spike in the number of deaths within the next week.


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Truth About Republican Obsession With Voter Fraud That DOES NOT EXIST.

In short:

It's not that the Republicans are eager to lie about mass fake voting they can't even prove in the courts.

It's that the Republicans are eager to believe that massive numbers of voters - Blacks, Women, Youth, Non-Christian, essentially anybody registered Democratic Party - are Fake Americans, and will deny those "Fake Americans" their rights so that Republicans can stay in corrupt minority rule.

Every chance that trump's lawyers have had to prove in court that there's any coordinated nationwide effort to commit voter fraud, they've failed to prove that. They're following in the footsteps of Kris Kobach, whose constant court battles over the narrative that there's a conspiracy of fake voters ended in resounded defeats on the simple reality Kobach could never prove a word of it.

And yet, the Republicans will insist on that argument that the election results favoring Biden or ANY Democrat for that matter is fraudulent.

Because they are at the point they can never accept anyone else outside of their tribe as true Americans.

This is how dangerous the current Far Right Narrative has gotten.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

It's All Over Except for the trumpian Lawsuits

They called it in Pennsylvania. Biden and Harris won the Electoral College.

There are reports of fireworks across the globe.

With all the partisan strife across the United States, at least 75 million of us voted for Biden to help us recover from the disasters - and yes there have been many - of the trump regime.

It's only a partial victory, though. And trump is not going to take this sitting down. Lawsuits are already getting flung across half the states in a vain attempt to nullify the actual votes counted. There remains the small possibility that trump can get his puppets on the Supreme Court to throw out the results altogether in a legal mind screw that would disenfranchise much of the nation. But if trump is expecting another Bush v Gore, it's not the same situation: Where that was a decision forcing the Florida recount to end, trump is asking the courts to not let ANY counts (negatively affecting HIM) happen at all. It'll be a legal step too far...

It's not over yet, America. There's still the Georgia Senate elections to runoff, and a chance at a 50-50 control to negate McConnell's power. They'll need your help (via ActBlue), get to it.

More on this later. For now, America, WE DANCE (And Philly fans punching a police horse as expected).

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

The Post-Election 2020 Super Conniption Blues

(Update: Many thanks to Infidel753 adding me to Crooks&Liars' Mike's Blog Round-Up this morning! I'm a little busy working on NaNo today so... good luck writers!)

While the Presidential election is still getting counted out in the final states, with everything literally on the line for 270 Electoral Votes, there are a few things I wanna get off my chest tonight.



I'm not even yelling at the trump voters from 2016 who voted again for the WORST SHITGIBBON ON THE PLANET, because they have been lost to us since even before 2016 2010 2000 1992. They're gleefully showing up for a man who will infect them with the Coronavirus at rallies and still vote as though he's their Personal Jesus Reagan.

No, I'm talking to a number of you Independent or centrist voters who didn't care to vote or voted differently in 2016, only to show up this election cycle to vote for a man in trump who spent the last four years objectively being the WORST POSSIBLE PERSON TO EVER SERVE IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND THIS IS GOING ALL THE WAY BACK TO JOHN ADAMS FOR GOD'S SAKE AND EVEN ADAMS HAD FCKING INTEGRITY, HELL EVEN GRANT AND HARDING WERE NEVER THIS BAD, ONLY JOHN TYLER AND ANDREW JOHNSON WOULD GIVE THIS SHITGIBBON A RUN FOR HIS MONEY SO WHY THE HELL DID YOU VOTE trump THIS TIME?!?!


Here, I tweeted this earlier today:

I'd been noting for four years how trump never moved to the center of the political spectrum, never made himself more appealing to moderate voters to broaden his base, that he kept pandering to the 42-44 percent of the population that would have never guaranteed a popular vote win.

And the SOB still garnered more votes to him.

This was after constant and well-documented violations of the Emoluments Clause, revelations about bribing mistresses and porn actresses, case after case after case of him sexually assaulting women as proof of the vulgarity he revealed before the 2016 election. This was after trump's taxes went public this year, highlighting tax dodges and questionable claims that demonstrated trump wasn't just a failed businessman but arguably a tax fraud.

It was as though a massive plurality of Americans, maybe not a majority of us, just didn't give a fuck about ethical and honest leadership after all.

This was after a near year-long failure of leadership by trump and his administration in combatting and managing a global pandemic that was manageable if someone competent and caring set federal mandates for public safety (masks and social distancing) and fought hard to get Congress to fund for state aid and expanded benefits for the citizenry. trump refused to lead, even mocked the COVID-19 pandemic even as it spiraled out of control, even after he contracted the damn thing himself he never acknowledged the severity of it all. trump has a goddamn body count of 230,000 preventable deaths (and growing by the day) far worse than most wars other Presidents had overseen, and at least those leaders held themselves to account in some form or another. trump's failure on this matter made the United States one of the worst nations to handle the pandemic, likely prolonging it far longer in ways to make our recovery longer and more painful than what our counterpart Western European nations will do once we can get a safe vaccine going.

And the SOB still garnered more votes to him.

And the most obvious problem of all: How this openly race-baiting, rage-inducing tinpot encouraged the very worst in America, through appeals to violence, through the insults and denigration of Blacks, Latinos, Women. trump never appealed to the better angels, he always took the opportunity to summon the worst demons and historic wrongs that haunts our nation to this day. It's the one thing constant about trump that his fanbase will always fall for, always love him for. Allowing them to be as vulgar and hateful as he is.

And the SOB still garnered more votes to him.

I know we are living in a nation where there are far too many people being assholes than we had realized until 2016. I know. I can't understand it, but I know - like Rude Pundit in 2014 and Ed at Gin and Tacos in 2018 both pointed out - that the partisan divide in the United States created by the Far Right exists and can never be fixed. What I'm railing about now is how somehow, with all the bad shit trump served us for the last four years, even more Americans decided - against the availability of a reasonable, relatively normal political figure in Biden - to go with the SOB.

I may live in Florida, I may be half-mad myself. But Jesus Christ, even I know where the line shouldn't be crossed. trump shouldn't have even gotten 63 million voters this year, he didn't do anything to deserve getting 50 million voters this year. 

And the ETERNAL SHITGIBBON THAT IS trump is still one bad state turnout against Biden away from stealing off with another goddamned Electoral College theft.

This is unforgivable shit here, America. What the hell.

This ain't the end of my ranting. I am still royally pissed and will add more thoughts about all this.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Election Night 2020: I'M PERFECTLY CALM



I know it's going to be a long night and there's obviously going to be a few bad steps here and there and some states may not vote the way I'm praying to God they should vote but you know it's a free country and and and and um JESUS FCKING CHRIST AMERICA STOP VOTING FOR THAT SHITGIBBON! 


Okay, I'm eating ice cream now and will try to avoid watching the poll results - the skewed, too-early-to-call-it poll results that the media loves to shove down our throats until we're begging them to stop.

I'll update when I can.



Update 10:35 PM. I will never understand it. I mean, I *know* we are surrounded by an army of assholes, but you would think that after trump's epic failures of leadership - letting Puerto Rico fall apart, his tariff war follies, the evil of his family separations at the border, the financial corruption, and this year alone allowing a pandemic to rampage across our country... we still have too many Americans buying trump's bullshit and voting for him. His pandering to their most sadistic hates and their most ill-informed fears, and he's still... God. This is insane...

trump's supposed to be losing the suburbs what the hell is happening...?

Monday, November 02, 2020

Waiting on the Edge of 2020

This is the last night of uncertainty before an entire week of chaos. After four years of despair.

Pippin : It's so quiet.

Gandalf : It's the deep breath before the plunge.

Pippin : I don't want to be in a battle. But waiting on the edge of one I can't escape is even worse.

This election cycle has been a war of sorts, with actual blood spilled and conflicts dotted across the landscape. We had trumpsters in their coal roller trucks attempt a Mad Max attack on the Biden campaign bus. We've had the wingnuts parade through Black neighborhoods - with police escort! - in blatant intimidation efforts to scare voters off from tomorrow.

Election Day will be more chaotic. Expect trump's "Observers" showing up in police or militia uniforms with loaded firearms strapped to every limb as the intimidating thugs they are. Expect last-minute tweets and text messages aimed at registered Democrats warning them to avoid their precincts when things are actually safe. Expect interference and blockades of precincts as the hour gets late, before the polls officially close, in order to stop late-arriving voters from getting in line. Hell, I'm expecting Russia to attack our power grid in battleground states to fuck up the electronic voting machines throughout the day.

Election night is going to be worse. Television, having spent decades turning the evening into high-drama events watching maps change colors, are going to be tempted - or pushed by trump - into declaring victories where ballots haven't even begun getting counted. But the old ways of covering the results doesn't work anymore: the reality that it takes days if not weeks to fully account for every submitted ballot means we shouldn't declare anything until it's all done. The problem with that is, trump wants his excuse to claim victory and to hell with the rights of the voters, so the intense "gaming of the refs" is going to create noise and anxiety for all Americans - and the world - that we shouldn't have to endure.

For myself, living in the middle of Florida where every third pickup truck is flying a 14-foot flag of trump's head photoshopped atop Rambo's body, the stress tomorrow - RIGHT NOW in fact - is going to be the worst I've felt even than 2012 during the runup and worse than 2016 when the dread of trump's Electoral College chicanery became all too real. Part of me hears the polling saying that Florida is 4 points in favor of Biden and Harris, but I know what the local Republicans are going to do to fuck up the turnout and I worry that I'm going to bed tomorrow night with my home state making the same damn mistake they made in 2016 (and 2010 and 2014 and 2018 with the Governor and Senate elections, we got screwed with Rick "No Ethics" Scott and Ron "No Masks" DeSantis thanks a lot).

And I worry - and hope - about North Carolina and Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin being real for Biden and for the Democratic Party. And I worry about the Senate races - we NEED to ship McConnell to the pit of Hell he richly deserves - that the Democrats need to win alongside winning the Presidency with Biden. And I hope, oh Lord I do hope, that the signs of Blue Waves happening in Georgia and Texas and Iowa and Arizona are true, especially my birth state of Georgia.

I want to see some hope of sanity after all of this madness. I know the viciousness of the trumpshirt followers won't go away, nor the calculated sadism of the Republican Party leadership, but we need to see a fighting chance to push back against their cruelty, rage, and greed.

I will see you on the other side of the storm.

Vote Tuesday if you haven't already. Vote Blue across the board, America.

Stay safe. This isn't over even when the ballots are all counted.