“Organ cat, prayer book, Bruges or Ghent c. 1480-1490 (Baltimore, Walters Art Museum
It has been another busy news week, and today there are some stories that follow up on recent news and others that look further back in time. As we move closer to the midterm elections, things are looking better for Democrats to keep control of the Senate. Of course the fallout continues from the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. The judge in the case released more information on the search warrant, and there could be more coming. A court has ordered the DOJ to release a memo related to the Mueller investigation that Bill Barr refused to make public. A Michigan judge made an important decision on abortion laws in the state. Finally, the NYT published a fascinating op-ed by two law professors who argue that the U.S. Constitution is “broken.”
On Thursday, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seemed to admit that the Grand Old Party doesn’t have the highest quality roster of candidates.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell said. “Senate races are just different, they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”
Writing in Vanity Fair, Eric Lutz reported, “He didn’t mention any of those candidates directly, but he almost certainly could have been talking about any of Donald Trump’s handpicked contenders, who earned the former president’s support seemingly for one of two reasons: He knows them from television, or they’re loyalists who have organized their campaigns almost entirely around his 2020 election lies. There’s a lot of crossover there, obviously, but the first camp includes Mehmet Oz, a former TV doctor who apparently believes raw asparagus belongs in a crudité, and Herschel Walker, the former football great whose own campaign staff reportedly regards him as a ‘pathological liar.’” [….]
“Then there’s the second camp of MAGA candidates, which includes the likes of Blake Masters, the Peter Thiel protégé who literally has the backing of some of the Internet’s most well-known white nationalists. (Masters has attempted to distance himself from this community.) One of several extremists on the ballot in Arizona, where election deniers Kari Lake and Mark Finchem are respectively running for governor and secretary of state, Masters is trailing Democrat Mark Kelly by eight points, according to a Fox News poll released this week,” Lutz reported. “None of this to say to say that these bumbling extremists can’t win; if a country is capable of electing Trump president, Georgia is certainly capable of electing a guy like Walker. But McConnell’s apparent sense that this batch of bozos might dash GOP dreams of a Senate majority may be well-founded, even if midterms tend to favor the party that doesn’t control the White House.”
Republican Senate hopefuls are getting crushed on airwaves across the country while their national campaign fund is pulling ads and running low on cash — leading some campaign advisers to ask where all the money went and todemand an audit of the committee’s finances, according to Republican strategists involved in the discussions.
In a highly unusual move, the National Republican Senatorial Committee this week canceled bookings worth about $10 million, including in the critical states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Arizona. A spokesman said the NRSC is not abandoning those races but prioritizing ad spots that are shared with campaigns and benefit from discounted rates. Still, the cancellations forfeit cheaper prices that came from booking early, and better budgeting could have covered both.
“The fact that they canceled these reservations was a huge problem — you can’t get them back,” said one Senate Republican strategist, who like others spokes on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. “You can’t win elections if you don’t have money to run ads.”
The NRSC’s retreat came after months of touting record fundraising, topping $173 million so far this election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures. But the committee has burned through nearly all of it, with the NRSC’s cash on hand dwindling to $28.4 million by the end of June.
As of that month, the committee disclosed spending just $23 million on ads, with more than $21 million going into text messages and more than $12 million to American Express credit cardpayments, whose ultimate purpose isn’t clear from the filings. The committee also spent at least $13 million on consultants, $9 million on debt payments and more than $7.9 million renting mailing lists, campaign finance data show.
One implication of the new information is that even if Trump is right about the documents being declassified, he still could have broken the law, Lawrence Tribe, a Harvard constitutional law scholar, tweeted….
[The cover sheet] showed that the FBI believes that Trump may be guilty of the willful retention of national defense information, concealment or removal of government records, and obstruction of federal investigation.
Bradley P. Moss, a national security attorney, told Insider that the new documents “clarify but ultimately do not change much” of what we previously knew.
A striking detail, he said, is that the FBI believes Trump has obstructed its probe.
“Clearly, the FBI currently believes Mr. Trump not only took properly marked classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, but he kept them and resisted turning them over when confronted by the government,” Moss said.
The day after federal agents searched Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump told a group of conservative lawmakers that “being president was hell,” according to three people at the meeting.
But to some he sounded ready to have the job again.
“He was not to be deterred,” said Rep. Randy Weber of Texas, one of a dozen Republican House members who met with Trump on Aug. 9. He described Trump’s state of mind in the immediate aftermath of the search as “pretty miffed, but measured.”
Everything that’s occurred since that Bedminster, New Jersey, meeting — and since federal agents seized a trove of top secret and other highly classified documents from his resort — has put Trump exactly where he and his supporters want him to be, according to people close to him. He’s in a fight, squaring off with Washington institutions and a political establishment he says are out to get him, issues he brought up in the meeting with the lawmakers and in conversations with others.
Taken together, it’s reoriented Trump’s thinking about whether he should announce a presidential campaign before or after the midterm elections, according to those who have spoken with him over the past two weeks. They said Trump feels less pressure to announce early because viable challengers who might otherwise force his hand have faded into the background. But there are other reasons to wait.
Trump is now inclined to launch his candidacy after the November elections, in part to avoid blame should an early announcement undermine the GOP’s effort to win control of Congress, said one person close to him, speaking on condition of anonymity to talk more freely.A post-midterm announcement would suit Republican leaders who’ve been urging Trump to hold off so that he doesn’t overshadow the party’s candidates.Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign and administration official, described Trump’s attitude in recent days after speaking with him, as “business as usual.”
Business as usual for Trump: the possibility of multiple criminal charges and crappy lawyers who have no clue how to defend a criminal.
Judge orders release of Bill Barr’s memo protecting Trump
A federal appeals court has ordered the release of a secret Justice Department memo discussing whether President Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The unanimous panel decision issued Friday echoes that of a lower court judge, Amy Berman Jackson, who last year accused the Justice Department of dishonesty in its justifications for keeping the memo hidden.
The panel of three judges, led by Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan, said that whether or not there was “bad faith,” the government “created a misimpression” and could not stop release under the Freedom of Information Act.
The memo was written by two senior Justice Department officials for then-attorney general William P. Barr, who subsequently told Congress that there was not enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s inquiry. A redacted version was released last year but left under seal the legal and factual analysis.
Department officials argued that the document was protected because it involved internal deliberations over a prosecutorial decision. But the judges agreed with Jackson that both Mueller and Barr had clearly already concluded that a sitting president could not be charged with a crime. The discussion was over how Barr would publicly characterize the obstruction evidence Mueller had assembled, the Justice Department conceded on appeal.
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the Justice Department must make public an internal memo senior lawyers there prepared in 2019 about whether then-President Donald Trump’s actions investigated in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia amounted to crimes prosecutors would ordinarily charge.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Justice Department failed to meet its legal burden to show that the memo from the department’s Office of Legal Counsel was part of a genuine deliberative process advising then-Attorney General William Barr on how to handle sensitive issues left unresolved when Mueller’s probe concluded in March 2019.
Trump was never charged in Mueller’s probe and the special prosecutor’s final report declined to opine on whether what he did in response to the investigation amounted to a crime.
However, some Trump opponents have called on the Attorney General Merrick Garland to reconsider the issue now that Trump is no longer president. Release of the long-sought DOJ memo could fuel those calls and draw more unwanted attention to Trump’s potential criminal liability at a time when he is besieged by a slew of other legal woes relating to his handling of classified government records, his role in inspiring many of those involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and his broader efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.
The decision from Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Cunningham comes after two days of hearings and means every county in Michigan with an abortion clinic is at least temporarily immune from the threat of criminal prosecutions over abortion procedures.
“As currently applied, the court finds (the abortion law) is chilling and dangerous to our state’s population of childbearing people and the medical professionals who care for them,” Cunningham said.
“The harm to the body of women and people capable of pregnancy in not issuing the injunction could not be more real, clear, present and dangerous to the court.”
At times, Cunningham seemed to ridicule arguments from conservative prosecutors seeking to enforce the 1931 abortion law. He said prosecutors would suffer zero harm from not having the ability to prosecute abortion providers.
Going much further, he told these prosecutors to instead focus their efforts elsewhere.
“The court suggests county prosecutors focus their attention and resources … to investigation and prosecution of criminal sexual conduct, homicide, arson, child and elder abuse, animal cruelty and other violent and horrific crimes that we see in our society,” Cunningham said.
Is the Constitution broken?
Ryan D. Doerfler and Samuel Moyn, law professors from Harvard and Yale respectively, published this guest essay at The New York Times: The Constitution Is Broken and Should Not Be Reclaimed. You’ll need to go to the NYT link if you’re interested, because it’s very long. The main idea is that the Constitution is dated and favors conservatives; liberals need to change their thinking about “constitutionalism.”
When liberals lose in the Supreme Court — as they increasingly have over the past half-century — they usually say that the justices got the Constitution wrong. But struggling over the Constitution has proved a dead end. The real need is not to reclaim the Constitution, as many would have it, but instead to reclaim America from constitutionalism.
The idea of constitutionalism is that there needs to be some higher law that is more difficult to change than the rest of the legal order. Having a constitution is about setting more sacrosanct rules than the ones the legislature can pass day to day. Our Constitution’s guarantee of two senators to each state is an example. And ever since the American founders were forced to add a Bill of Rights to get their handiwork passed, national constitutions have been associated with some set of basic freedoms and values that transient majorities might otherwise trample.
But constitutions — especially the broken one we have now — inevitably orient us to the past and misdirect the present into a dispute over what people agreed on once upon a time, not on what the present and future demand for and from those who live now. This aids the right, which insists on sticking with what it claims to be the original meaning of the past.
Arming for war over the Constitution concedes in advance that the left must translate its politics into something consistent with the past. But liberals have been attempting to reclaim the Constitution for 50 years — with agonizingly little to show for it. It’s time for them to radically alter the basic rules of the game.
In making calls to regain ownership of our founding charter, progressives have disagreed about strategy and tactics more than about this crucial goal. Proposals to increase the number of justices, strip the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to invalidate federal law or otherwise soften the blow of judicial review frequently come together with the assurance that the problem is not the Constitution; only the Supreme Court’s hijacking of it is. And even when progressives concede that the Constitution is at the root of our situation, typically the call is for some new constitutionalism.
If that whets your appetite for me, click the link and read the rest.
Those are today’s main political stories as I see it. Maybe we’ll have some time to take a breath before more shocking news breaks. I can use a quite weekend and I wish you the same.
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
The fat lady hasn’t even started to warm up, she won’t be singing anytime soon.
Since CDC announced the new COVID-19 mask guidance for vaccinated Americans, a flurry of right-wing accounts — seemingly belonging to unvaccinated people — have tweeted saying they “identify as vaccinated” and won’t be wearing a mask.
In one of his final acts, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s multi-pronged efforts to remain in power laid the groundwork for the unprecedented burst of violence terrorizing Israeli streets https://t.co/phWDy07bNk
A day after the Israeli military misled reporters over its offensive, this. We are not the story. A building is nothing beside the people who have died. But this is a shocking assault on the free press. More power to my brave colleagues at @AP and @AJEnglish in Gaza https://t.co/r2Wjbhk2dg
BREAKING: The Israeli military says it has targeted the home of Gaza's top Hamas leader after nearly a week of heavy airstrikes and rocket fire into Israel from the territory ruled by the Islamic militant group https://t.co/hjq3NyosWg
"Mental illness does not give anybody the right to put their hands on my child," Amy Sutherland, Jamal's mother, said as she fought back tears. "That's my child. I love my child. His father and his brothers, they love Jamal." 💔💔💔 https://t.co/SpZfUZRIXN
The death of Jamal Sutherland in a South Carolina jail after officers tried to remove him from his cell using pepper spray and Tasers has raised calls for changes in the treatment in custody of the mentally ill. https://t.co/gUGJ6rDTC4
With all the bullshit lately about fucking Bernie Sanders…and since the one person who could stand up to tRump has/was left to drop out (Kamala)…to where we are seriously looking at a old white guy (Biden)…to wit, do we honestly think the elections are actually “secured” anymore (Putin)…
I feel that when tRump is re-elected, we here can tell all those news media assholes, BernieBros, Biden Shills, Tom Perez and the rest of the damn fools…
The President of the United States has, today alone, retweeted 2 QAnon fan accounts, a Pizzagate account, an account that compared his following to a cult, and an account that described Obama as “Satan’s Muslim Scum.” And this insanity isn’t even a blip on the news radar.
Government photographer Simon Edelman was fired by the Trump admin after he leaked a photo of Energy Sec. Rick Perry hugging a coal exec. Perry announced his resignation today. pic.twitter.com/unfz2QtkP3
Dec 24: Christmas Eve Dec 25: Christmas Day Dec 26: Boxing Day Dec 27-30: Every day feels like a Sunday, proof that time is a social construct Dec 31: New Year's Eve Jan 1: New Year's Day Jan 2: Reality hits
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.