…they say comedy is all about the timing
But in a letter to the archivist of the United States, the White House counsel, Dana Remus, wrote “these are unique and extraordinary circumstances” and the documents “shed light on events within the White House on and about January 6 and bear on the Select Committee’s need to understand the facts underlying the most serious attack on the operations of the Federal Government since the Civil War”.
The decision, which affects only the initial batch of documents reviewed by the White House, sets up a potential showdown with Trump, who has repeatedly downplayed the events of 6 January and sought to recast the rioters as “patriots”. The Guardian reported that he plans to sue to prevent release of the documents if necessary.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/oct/08/biden-overrules-trump-white-house-files-6-january-panel
He said: “It’s another grand distraction, because Biden and the Democrats don’t want you to see how badly America is losing due to their incompetence.”
Joe Lockhart, a former White House press secretary, tweeted: “Any legal move to claim executive privilege for the former President’s aides runs counter to existing law and should be prosecuted as obstruction of Justice. That is a crime in plain sight right now.”
…& here & there it may have been observed that there can be a thin line between comedy & tragedy
Trump has instructed several of his top advisers to defy subpoenas from the House select committee examining the insurrection. A letter from his lawyer declares that Trump-related information sought by the committee is shielded “from disclosure by the executive and other privileges.”https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/08/trump-jan-6-committee-electoral-count-act/
…pretty sure at this point multiple courts have ruled that he can’t assert executive privilege…let alone confer it on minions
…any more than he has blanket immunity of the sort the senate so handily gave him where those impeachments were concerned…so presumably some of these jokes have now been dragged out time & again to the point where they must eventually get to be just so old we officially pass the point where they’re tragic
…but also pretty much not funny?
We see the same ominous pattern as in the Panama Papers leak of 2016 and the Paradise Papers leak of 2017: legalized corruption at the highest levels, on an almost unimaginably vast scale. And it appears that the people most empowered to end this nightmare are the most heavily invested in prolonging it for their own benefit.
Each successive leak drives home the same message: Abandon any hope that government will serve the people or that the rule of law will be applied equally to all, the foundational premises of modern government.
Many of the individuals exposed in the Pandora Papers are politicians — more than 330 of them, from 90 countries, including 35 current and former heads of state — and their lifestyles are made possible by exploiting the nations they purport to serve. The revelations highlight several politicians who campaigned on vigorous anti-corruption platforms, like Prime Minister Andrej Babis of the Czech Republic, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.
That so little has changed after the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers is not lost on the public. By my count, there have been fewer than 10 convictions resulting from previous offshore leaks, and only one involved a politician.
People are angry and they know they are being ripped off, but watching successive iterations of public corruption on flamboyant display, followed by no consequences, is an affront to the spirit of democracy. As the economist Thomas Piketty noted even before the Panama Papers broke, many respond to the appeal of ethnonationalist politicians, who promise to crack down on elite corruption.To All the Elites, the Pandora Papers Have Made Us Angry [NYT]
…though some jokes have to go through certain rituals in the modern age…rites of passage like the ever-reliable “there’s always a tweet”
…& arguably one of classics is to have turned up in the simpsons at some stage
And this is where it helps to be, as I am, an obsessive fan of the early trials and tribulations of a permanently jaundiced, four-fingered cartoon family. Because this is basically the Sideshow Bob defense.
In Trump’s case, set aside a months-long campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the election, followed by a frenetic behind-the-scenes effort to browbeat local officials into overturning the result and enlist the Justice Department to do so as well. (To say nothing of his encouraging the Jan. 6 mob that ransacked the Capitol and interrupted the certification of Biden’s victory.)https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/08/how-simpsons-explains-gops-latest-trump-defense/
The Sideshow Bob defense isn’t the only Hollywood defense out there. My colleague Philip Bump alludes extensively here to a variation on another from-the-movies tactic, the Otter Defense, though he does not use the name.
As I wrote Thursday: “With his fraternity on trial, Eric “Otter” Stratton argues the process is really an indictment of America itself and declares ‘you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you bad-mouth the United States of America.’”
And don’t get me started on U.S. politicians using the Chewbacca Defense.
…the thing is…delayed gratification is all well & good…but there seems to be some difficulty really sticking the punch part of some of these punchlines
…so then comes the part where I have to wonder how patiently is too patiently…when it’s so transparently the case that an integral part of the deal is that dragging things out (even if the outcome does in fact remain inevitable) while arguing in bad faith works in favor of letting a bad situation get worse
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday vowed that Republicans will not offer any more assistance to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. In a letter sent to President Biden, McConnell made clear he would be willing to allow the United States to default on its national debt rather than work with Democrats.
The letter came a day after the Senate passed a bill on a party-line vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling through early December, temporarily staving off a potential government shutdown and default. McConnell and Biden also spoke about the matter by phone Friday, said a person familiar with the conversation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to confirm a private phone call.
In the letter to Biden, McConnell took credit on behalf of Republicans for having “filled the leadership vacuum,” likely referring to the handful of GOP senators who had helped advance Thursday’s measure procedurally. No Republican senators ultimately supported the final measure, which passed on a 50-to-48 vote.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/08/mcconnell-vows-republicans-will-not-help-raise-debt-ceiling-december/
…& was it kinda-sorta funny when for a while there it looked like he was actually struggling to scare up enough votes from his side of the aisle to get over the bar for cloture on a vote he actually wanted to make it…yes…I guess it was…but plenty of things are funny that maybe shouldn’t be…& to stick to just the money/politics/justice thing & not all the other things that goes for that are also kind of a big deal when you get down to them…when it comes to the simple question of “at what point do we get to see what it looks like when one of these jokers actually goes down?” there’s a distinct possibility that “after the mid-terms” may not be soon enough to guarantee it’s on the ever side of never…despite the fact that there would appear to be such a surfeit of evidence as to be well into parody territory…there’s a veritable cottage industry that’s solely books presenting “revelatory” recollections dating to the previous “administration” of things a certain mcconnell-flavored senate declined to countenance in advance of the fait accompli by which they allowed the most impeached of ex-presidents to skate charges…which was certainly offensive…& seems like maybe it ought by rights to rise to the level of being an offense
In effect, there were two insurrections, not one, Schiff argues, and he is more interested in the insurrectionists wearing suits and ties than in the shirtless ones in buffalo horns. “We came so close to losing our democracy,” he writes, looking back on the varied political and legalistic efforts to overturn the 2020 vote and to convince the public that the contest was illegitimate. “The system held, if barely.”
“Midnight in Washington” can be self-serving and score-settling and fawning at times — it is a politician’s memoir, after all — but it presents a persuasive case, befitting a former prosecutor, for how the erosion of checks on executive power is one of the most destructive legacies of the Trump years. And even as he provides insider details on how congressional investigations and impeachments really work (“the threat of a perjury charge can really sharpen the memory,” he deadpans), Schiff highlights individuals who responded to Trump’s “stress test” of our democracy either by defending the system or by capitulating to this “uniquely American brand of authoritarianism.” This book is one more prosecution, a 500-page closing statement on an era that has not yet closed.
Schiff hurls plenty of words at Trump — calling him “a petulant child,” “weak” and “unbalanced mentally” — and accuses him of politicizing America’s intelligence agencies and treating the Justice Department as his personal law firm. But Trump does not get all the credit, or blame, here. The Republican Party was already headed in the direction that he would take it.Adam Schiff points to a second insurrection — by members of Congress themselves [WaPo]
…not that I really need any further proof that a man so dishonest that I find myself hard-pressed to believe anyone would buy a used car off him (let alone do the sort of business that involves sums in the tens and hundreds of millions) is (& was) consistently dishonest whether he’s trying to chisel relatives out the inheritance pot or leveraging crippling debt to underwrite a lifetime performance of “a poor man’s version of a rich man” would prove to be exactly that person in every situation
If you want to see how Donald Trump has talked a much better financial game than he played, all you need to do is examine the numbers behind his fall from the Forbes ranking of the 400 richest Americans.
Trump this week was dropped from the Forbes 400 list for the first time in 25 years. According to Forbes, Trump is worth $2.5 billion, the same as last year, when he ranked 339th on the list. While many other players have added substantially to their wealth, Forbes says Trump’s wealth has stayed stagnant.
This just confirms what any number of journalists, including me, have written for years: Trump, who inherited lots of money from his father, really isn’t a very good businessman.
Trump probably hasn’t been a successful businessman for at least a decade. And before that, he presided over six Chapter 11 bankruptcies, mostly in the casinos that he bought (and mismanaged) in New Jersey.
On Forbes’ 2011 Rich List, Trump was listed as having a net worth of $2.9 billion — which is $400 million more than Forbes says he’s worth now. Adjusted for inflation, that $2.9 billion is worth more than $3.5 billion in current dollars. That’s something over $1 billion more than Forbes says he’s worth now.
When Trump became president, he could have sold his properties and avoided capital gains taxes by getting a ruling that he was eligible for a special tax break available to government employees who sell assets to avoid conflicts.
If Trump’s assets were really worth $3.1 billion — that’s Forbes’ number — and he sold them for that amount and put the proceeds into an S&P 500 index fund, he’d currently be worth more than $6 billion. Which is way more than double what Forbes says he’s worth.https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/10/06/trump-forbes-billionaire/
…up to & including presuming himself putative CEO of what he seemed to think was USA PLC …& merely the latest acquisition to the trump branded stable of effectively criminal enterprises…& a general election being not unlike a vote of no confidence by a mere board of directors that could be end-run to engineer a favorable result
What Trump was trying to do from Nov. 3 to Jan. 6 was slapdash and ad hoc. But it was all directed in the same way: throw as much nonsense as possible in Biden’s path to the presidency. That his pre-Jan. 6 effort included Eastman’s memo and calling Georgia and replacing Rosen and encouraging a rally is a sign of an incoherent strategy except that it was wide-ranging. This is what he always did, saying or doing whatever he thought might convince people to do what he wanted. His was a spaghetti-at-the-wall presidency; his was a spaghetti-at-the-wall coup.
And this is why it’s important not to underestimate the breadth of support Trump’s effort enjoyed. Legislators in multiple states eagerly endorsed and bolstered his claims prior to the inauguration — and afterward, as we’ve seen in Arizona. State legislators held those hearings and signed letters demanding action in Washington on Trump’s behalf. Attorneys general from a number of Republican-run states signed on to an at-times laughable legal effort to challenge his loss at the Supreme Court. The majority of the House Republican caucus voted to object to the ballots submitted by several states. His efforts came down to a handful of people — Pence, the judge in Wisconsin, the capitulation of those board members in Wayne County, Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger — who stood in his way.
All of that was before the months-long post-inauguration effort to rationalize and bolster Trump’s efforts. States have changed voting laws and increased the power of political partisans to evaluate the results of elections. Prominent Republicans like Pence and Raffensperger have been targeted for ouster or criticism. There has been an effort to populate positions within the Republican Party and in election-organizing bodies with people sympathetic to Trump’s claims of fraud. One of the Wayne County officials had publicly endorsed Trump’s claims before the election, in case you’re wondering what effect that might have.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/08/hollowness-it-didnt-work-defense-trumps-attempt-retain-power/
…it’s sort of facile to say that money shouldn’t buy justice…but it sure does seem like that justice system isn’t costing some people the kind of things it’s costing others
Ms. Bolden is one of more than 700,000 people in Florida who are barred from voting because they can’t afford the financial obligations stemming from a prior felony conviction. “It’s like I’m not a citizen,” she said. “That’s what they’re saying.”
This is the way it’s been in Florida for a century and a half, ever since the state’s Constitution was amended shortly after the Civil War to bar those convicted of a felony from voting. That ban, like similar ones in many other states, was the work of white politicians intent on keeping ballots, and thus political power, out of the hands of millions of Black people who had just been freed from slavery and made full citizens.
Even as other states began reversing their own bans in recent years, Florida remained a holdout — until 2018, when Floridians overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to nearly everyone with a criminal record, upon the completion of their sentence. (Those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense were excluded.)
Democratic and Republican voters alike approved the measure, which passed with nearly two-thirds support. Immediately, as many as 1.4 million people in the state became eligible to vote. It was the biggest expansion of voting rights in decades, anywhere in the country.
That should have been the end of it. But within a year, Florida’s Republican-led Legislature gutted the reform by passing a law defining a criminal sentence as complete only after the person sentenced has paid all legal financial obligations connected to it.When It Costs $53,000 to Vote [NYT]
This isn’t just Kafkaesque. It may well be the deciding factor in Florida elections: Donald Trump carried the state by roughly 370,000 votes in 2020, or about half the number of Floridians who are denied the right to vote because they can’t afford to pay their fines and fees.
For the lucky ones who can determine what they actually owe, the state layers one obstacle on top of another. It continues to add new fees for court appearances. It sells off the debt to private collection agencies, which tack on interest of up to 40 percent. Most crippling of all, it suspends the driver’s licenses of people who miss a payment. In a state where about 90 percent of people use a car to get to work, a suspended license makes it essentially impossible for people to earn the money they need to pay their fines and fees.
…then again…it’s sunday…& not getting to something on a sunday doesn’t count as a delay…right?