Friday Reads: Waiting on Justice

Justice By Miles MacGregor

Good Day Sky Dancers!

One of the recurrent themes in the headlines these days is the long uneven road to American Justice. We got a brief respite a few weeks ago with the Chauvin trial which quickly dispensed with a murdering cop once the system was put to work in the proper way.  This was a state case handled by the Minnesota AG Keith Ellison, the former Minnesota Congressman.

You can watch some CBS video on conversations with Jurors in the case here. You can tell they took their duties seriously and not one of them will ever be the same.  Such is the cost of justice to all of us and a burden worth paying.

We’re beginning to see the Department of Justice work in the proper way too.  Many of the key appointments are focused on both ridding the corruption of the Trumpist regime and moving forward to ensure we live up to our Constitutional promise, our rule of law, and our inspirational founding with many coming together to make one.

Zachary Basu at Axios reports today that “Merrick Garland rapidly erasing Trump effect at Justice Department.”  We need no reminder of the role of Bill Barr in blocking prosecution to many criminal activities.

  • Attorney General Bill Barr played a central role in the Trump administration’s most high-profile controversies, from undermining the Russia investigation to intervening in the cases of indicted Trump associates to ordering the forcible clearing of protesters in Lafayette Square Park.

The Biden/Garland Justice Department will play a central role in restoring rule of law and enacting many of the Biden/Harris Justice priorities.

  • DOJ’s broad authority also overlaps with many of the issues at the top of President Biden’s agenda, including restoring faith in government, promoting racial justice and police reform, and curbing gun violence.

Here are just a few of the actions taken to date.

The Justice Department also announcedon Wednesday that three Georgia men were charged with federal hate crimes in the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, whose death was a rallying cry during last year’s racial-justice protests.

  • In Michigan, a superseding indictment was filed against five men accused of plotting last year to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, with prosecutors referring to the alleged crimes as “domestic terrorism” for the first time.
  • That shift comes amid new developments in the investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which has been described as the most complex probe in DOJ history. Garland, who played a leading role in the prosecution of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, has vowed to make prosecuting the Capitol rioters his “first priority.”

Other major steps taken in Garland’s first 50 days include:

  • “Pattern or practice” investigations into the Minneapolis and Louisville police departments, following the deaths last year of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
  • A 30-day “expedited review” into how DOJ can better prosecute and track hate crimes amid a surge in violence against Asian Americans.
  • The revocation of a Trump-era policy that restricted federal funding for “sanctuary cities.”
  • Responsibility for five of the six executive actions on gun control ordered by Biden.

ABV Gallery (abvatl.com) artists Tommy Bronx and Ash “Wolfdog” Hayner installed a new mural at the intersection of Irwin and Randolph Streets in the heart of the Old Fourth Ward.

The biggest headline grabbers at the moment are the supoenas served on Rudy Guilliani and the stories of sex trafficking and child rape coming out of the Matt Gaetz investigation.  Both of these are sordid in their own way and full court press is to be expected.  However, the work going on to prosecute the insurrectionists as well the additional addition of federal hate crime charges to the murder of unarmed black men by police and others is significant.  The new addition of Covid-19 based hate crimes against those of Asian descent will likely be in the headlines shortly.

The New Republic has a feature article on the AG.  “The Mystery of Merrick Garland. Biden’s attorney general is neither an ideologue nor a partisan, but a consensus-builder. How will he wield his power in this historic, politically charged moment? The piece was written by Matt Ford.

So how did Garland get tapped to be Biden’s attorney general? The most cynical interpretation of Biden’s choice is sheer pragmatism. Nominating Garland all but assured a smooth path to confirmation through the Senate, no matter who controlled it. (Biden nevertheless waited until the outcome of the Georgia runoffs was clear before making the Garland pick public.)  Garland’s nomination also freed up a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is usually considered the second most powerful court in the nation and a warm-up spot for future Supreme Court nominees. There is even perhaps a dash of sympathy in the choice: Garland’s nomination gives him a chance to not be remembered as the would-be high court justice who was blithely snubbed by the U.S. Senate.

Nominating Garland, however, also fits well with the vision of governance that Biden had offered voters on the campaign trail. He is neither an ideologue like Sessions nor a partisan like Barr, partly because of his judicial oath and partly because of his temperament. Garland’s own sister toldThe New York Timesin 2016 that she didn’t know her brother’s party affiliation. In more than two decades on the D.C. Circuit, Garland carved out a reputation as a consensus-builder. From his elevation to the appellate bench in 1997 to his nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016, Garland wrote just 11 dissenting opinions—a testament to his ability to bring colleagues of all stripes together.

“He was not a hands-off, let-the-clerks-just-do-their-thing kind of judge,” Jessica Bulman-Pozen, a Columbia University law professor who clerked for Garland from 2007 to 2008, told me. “He was himself totally steeped in every case. He knew all the details. He knew the record.” Garland is often described as a centrist or a moderate, because he does not fit neatly into any particular ideological box. That description, however, is less revealing than it seems. “I don’t want to say he’d be sort of moderate in the sense of waiting or restraint in addressing [things],” Bulman-Pozen said, “but I think moderate perhaps in the sense of being careful, conscientious, thorough.”

So, the salicious cases are heating up today.

There is nothing like a story from a desperate man who can turn state’s evidence on a higher up. The Gaetz Saga gets more sordid daily. 

Welp, it looks like Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz better start working out so that he can fight off attackers in prison because he’s about to lose his job and go straight to the pokey if anything in his former friend’s letter is true.

Joel Greenberg, a longtime associate of Gaetz, admitted in a letter that he and Gaetz paid for sex–including sex with an underaged girl.

According to a scathing report in the Daily Beast, Greenberg reportedly wrote a handwritten confession letter claiming that he and Gaetz were “involved in sexual activities” with a girl who was 17 at the time.

“From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18,” he wrote.

“I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.”

Shepard Fairey’s one-hundredth mural on the Founder’s League building on Clemence Street in Providence. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Speaking of badly behaved and nasty Trust Fund babies, Tucker Carlson tried to give Rudy Guiliani a platform.  The SDNY probably  hopes old Rudy will keep going on TV to blabber away at this rate.  However, let’s turn to the NYT version today. “Firing of U.S. Ambassador Is at Center of Giuliani Investigation“.  I really would be thrilled if former Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch got the last word on this as a witness.

It was a Pyrrhic victory. Mr. Giuliani’s push to oust the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, not only became a focus of President Donald J. Trump’s first impeachment trial, but it has now landed Mr. Giuliani in the cross hairs of a federal criminal investigation into whether he broke lobbying laws, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The long-running inquiry reached a turning point this week when F.B.I. agents seized telephones and computers from Mr. Giuliani’s home and office in Manhattan, the people said. At least one of the warrants was seeking evidence related to Ms. Yovanovitch and her role as ambassador, the people said.

In particular, the federal authorities were expected to scour the electronic devices for communications between Mr. Giuliani and Trump administration officials about the ambassador before she was recalled in April 2019, one of the people added.

The warrant also sought his communications with Ukrainian officials who had butted heads with Ms. Yovanovitch, including some of the same people who at the time were helping Mr. Giuliani seek damaging information about President Biden, who was then a candidate, and his family, the people said.

At issue for investigators is a key question: Did Mr. Giuliani go after Ms. Yovanovitch solely on behalf of Mr. Trump, who was his client at the time? Or was he also doing so on behalf of the Ukrainian officials, who wanted her removed for their own reasons?

It is a violation of federal law to lobby the United States government on behalf of foreign officials without registering with the Justice Department, and Mr. Giuliani never did so.

Even if the Ukrainians did not pay Mr. Giuliani, prosecutors could pursue the theory that they provided assistance by collecting information on the Bidens in exchange for her removal.

There’s a lot of Trumpist folks gonna lose their freedom.  I’m pulling that Gaetz and Guiliani lose everything they’ve got.  Get those January 6 insurrectionists too!!!

Meanwhile, I’m going to be watching the return of our Department of Justice.  Have a great weekend!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

Santiago Rusiñol

By Santiago Rusiñol

Good Morning!!

Yesterday was a historic day.

But the biggest accomplishment of the day was the House passage of Biden’s $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan Act. Also huge: the Senate confirmed Merrick Garland as U.S. Attorney General. They also confirmed Marcia Fudge as the first Black woman Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in more than 40 years, and Michael Regan, a Black man, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The New York Times: Congress Clears $1.9 Trillion Aid Bill, Sending It to Biden.

Congress gave final approval on Wednesday to President Biden’s sweeping, nearly $1.9 trillion stimulus package, as Democrats acted over unified Republican opposition to push through an emergency pandemic aid plan that carries out a vast expansion of the country’s social safety net.

By a vote of 220 to 211, the House sent the measure to Mr. Biden for his signature, cementing one of the largest injections of federal aid since the Great Depression. It would provide another round of direct payments for Americans, an extension of federal jobless benefits and billions of dollars to distribute coronavirus vaccines and provide relief for schools, states, tribal governments and small businesses struggling during the pandemic.

“This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation — the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going — a fighting chance,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. He said he looked forward to signing what he called a “historic piece of legislation” on Friday at the White House.

The vote capped off a swift push by Mr. Biden and Democrats, newly in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, to address the toll of the coronavirus pandemic and begin putting in place their broader economic agenda. The bill is estimated to slash poverty by a third this year and potentially cut child poverty in half, with expansions of tax credits, food aid and rental and mortgage assistance.

Henri Lebasque

By Henri Lebasque

According to CNBC, people who have direct deposit could start their $1,400 checks next week.

The American Rescue Plan Act is expected to be signed by President Biden on Friday, and stimulus payments could start being sent out within days of him signing. That means Americans could start seeing the money as early as next week.

The first people to receive the checks are likely those who have direct deposit set up with the IRS. That’s because the government already has their account information on file and doesn’t need to go through the process of printing, sorting and mailing physical checks or pre-paid debit cards.

Americans who don’t have direct deposit will have to wait for the payments to be produced and sent, a process that can be time consuming.

The Washington Post: How big is the Biden stimulus bill? And who gets the most help?

This latest round of aid, which was rejected by all Republicans in Congress, marks the first major legislative victory for President Biden. In contrast with the emergency bills passed last year, the Democratic bill focuses the vast majority of aid on households, states and cities, and vaccine distribution. There is little money directed this time toward businesses….

Over half the money — 54 percent — in the bill goes toward households. In addition to the popular $1,400 checks, there is also funding for extra unemployment insurance through Labor Day, expanded tax credits, and various programs to make rent, food and health insurance more affordable.

Economists say low- and moderate-income Americans will benefit the most from this aid, especially individuals earning $75,000 or less and couples earning $150,000 or less. The number of Americans living in poverty is predicted to drop in 2021 by as much as a third because of this legislation.

The cash infusion is expected to result in a 20 percent income boost for the bottom 20 percent of earners (those making $25,000 or less), according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

At The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer writes that the bill will an important impact on climate change: The Weekly Planet: Biden’s Stimulus Is a Big Deal for Public Transit.

In little-noticed ways, the rescue bill is going to reshape several areas of American climate policy. It will revive a number of crucial, pandemic-hammered institutions central to the country’s climate response. More important, it shows how the prevailing atmosphere of American governance has shifted.

Giovanni Segantini

Giovanni Segantini

This isn’t to say it’s a climate bill, per se. But it is part of the broader climate agenda being advanced by the Biden administration.

First, the bill devotes $30.5 billion to public-transit agencies. “COVID has really decimated transit ridership, and that has eaten a huge hole in agencies’ budgets,” Ben Fried, the communications director at the think tank TransitCenter, told me. Including the latest bill, Congress has spent $60 billion on transit over the past year, money that has been key to keeping the agencies solvent, Fried said. “If they didn’t get funding, then transit would have faced existential peril at the end of last year.” In Washington, D.C., for instance, the local Metro system was contemplating eliminating weekend service and permanently closing 19 stations. The new bill is enough to support agencies’ daily operations into 2023, he said….

Second, the rescue bill has quietly become an infrastructure bill. It devotes $350 billion to supporting state and local governments. These funds, initially proposed to plug COVID-19-created holes in public budgets, in many cases now exceed those holes. So the Senate has allowed states, cities, and counties to spend that money on improving services such as water, sewage, and broadband. Because many water systems are vulnerable to climate change and must be adapted, this is de facto climate funding. The bill also contains $31 billion for tribal governments and Indigenous communities, including line items for new infrastructure, housing, and language preservation.

More broadly, the bill epitomizes the Biden administration’s more forceful approach to running the economy. It shows that much of the American political establishment—from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York to Jerome Powell, the Donald Trump–appointed Federal Reserve chair—is comfortable pursuing a strategy of restoring full employment as quickly as possible, even if that creates some inflation in the short term.

Read the rest at The Atlantic.

Tonight President Biden will give a prime time speech to discuss the way forward. CNN: Biden seeks to chart a path out of the pandemic in prime-time address.

President Joe Biden can report in his first prime-time address Thursday that a vaccination drive now reaching 2 million people daily has brought America far closer to exiting the pandemic than when he took office 50 days ago.

With new infections and deaths way down from their peaks of a horrific winter, Biden can afford to conjure hope that better days may be imminent and will speak to the nation from a position of political strength. He is also armed with a newly passed $1.9 trillion Covid-19 rescue package — his first major legacy achievement — which represents an ambitious attempt to rebuild the US economy to favor the less well off.

Victor Gilbert

Victor Gilbert

“This bill represents a historic, historic victory for the American people,” Biden said Wednesday, touting his rescue plan that finally cleared Congress on Wednesday and pivoting to an address that he said would inform the country what “comes next” in the effort to prevail over the coronavirus. A clear majority of Americans — 60% — approves of the new President’s handling of the pandemic in a new CNN poll. He has reintroduced the nation to calm, functional leadership and a scientific approach to the public health crisis, and has ended the stream of vitriol that poured from the Oval Office for four years.

Yet in a national crisis this deep and in a country so polarized less than two months since ex-President Donald Trump’s insurrection, nothing is remotely normal. While Biden honored campaign promises to take the virus seriously, to secure funds to get kids back to school and to help Americans pummeled by the economic crisis, his White House is weighed down by stark challenges.

A White House official said Biden’s Thursday night speech, expected to last about 20 minutes, would focus on the lives lost and changed in the pandemic and the work Biden’s administration has done to rapidly increase the vaccination effort. The President will also explain what must still be done to defeat the virus, the official said.

Next, Biden will begin a “media blitz” to sell his plan. Vanity Fair:

After President Joe Biden signs his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law this week, he is set to embark on a press tour to sell his COVID-19 relief package to the American public, starting with a primetime address on Thursday, likely followed by his first formal news conference in the days after, CNN reports. The media and travel blitz comes as reporters have grown increasingly frustrated over lack of access to Biden, who has yet to hold the kind of solo, back-and-forth press conference that his 15 most recent predecessors—including Donald Trump—had all submitted themselves to by this point in their term. He has also yet to address a joint session of Congress, another appearance reportedly set to take place next month. 

While Biden taking off on meticulously planned sales tour may not yield the type of freewheeling exchanges that reporters are clamoring for, it makes political sense for the White House to get the president on the road. Biden’s relief package is overwhelmingly popular among Americans—about 70 percent—but less so with GOP lawmakers in Washington, whose total opposition required Democrats to push the bill through the budget reconciliation process. Going that route means many provisions, such as increased subsidies for health insurance and expanded child tax credit, have a one-year expiration date. “Making them permanent will require another act of Congress that would likely need some Republicans on board,” according to CNN.

Eerno Järnefelt

Eerno Järnefelt

It will be a two-part effort, starting with spelling out the impact of the package to Americans. Biden has said that the Obama administration “didn’t adequately explain what we had done” with the 2009 stimulus. “I kept saying, ‘Tell people what we did.’ [Barack Obama] said, ‘We don’t have time. I’m not going to take a victory lap.’ And we paid a price for it, ironically, for that humility,” the president recently told House Democrats. This time around, Biden’s team is focused on making sure Americans know that relief measures, such as individual stimulus checks, come as direct results of his American Rescue Plan, and are reportedly using local media and outside coalition groups to help establish that connection. 

Among the groups and leaders supportive of the package and thus capable of being leveraged by Biden’s team are “over 400 bipartisan mayors and governors, organized labor and the business community, as well as economists and experts from across the political spectrum,” one White House official told Axios. Benefits to schools, vaccine distribution, and food supply for low-income families are among the parts of the package that cabinet officials and White House aides will team up to publicly promote, according to another administration official. Axios notes that the strategy at play extends beyond short-term goals, such as the 2022 midterms; maintaining wide support for the bill rewards Biden’s ability to “build on the legislation and make it harder for the next Republican president to unwind.”

Much more is happening. Here are some additional stories to check out today:

Buzzfeed News says that today is a one year anniversary of our realization of the seriousness of the pandemic: March 11: Tom Hanks, The NBA, And COVID’s Day Of Reckoning In The US: An Oral History.

NPR: Whistleblowers Allege Improper Hiring At Justice Department During Trump’s Last Days.

The Bulwark: Can Biden Restore the Pentagon’s Balance of Power?

The New York Times: Oath Keepers Founder Is Said to Be Investigated in Capitol Riot.

The Washington Post: Veteran charged in Capitol riot once served in Marine One squadron, officials say.

Trump is in more trouble in Georgia than we realized. CNN: Wall Street Journal: Trump pressured Georgia investigator to find ‘the right answer’ in baseless fraud push.

More trouble in New York too. Reuters: Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen to meet again with Manhattan DA in Trump probe.

Talking Points Memo: Cuomo Accuser Claims Governor Groped Her At Executive Mansion.

That’s it for me today. What’s on your mind?


Monday Reads: Rule of Law! What a Concept!

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’ve been watching the Merrick Garland confirmation and have been just so overwhelmed with wonky joyness over the discussion between Senator Amy Klobucher from Minnesota and the Judge up for the AG position.  I’ve been hearing basic American Economic liberty concepts like tougher Merger & Analysis scrutiny and trust law enforcement for huge, monopolistic companies including all the usual suspects in social media.

Then, I  watched him worddance with glee around some Republican Senator obsessed that their gun fetish and penis enhancer opportunities would be stolen in the name of protecting citizens from armed terrorists and criminals.  He waltzed around them like a professional ballroom dancer.

I feel ready to bring out my Nina Simone again!   It’s a new dawn! It’s a new day! 

Merrick Garland: “I would not have taken this job if I thought that politics would have any influence over prosecutions and investigations.”

More on that in a minute.  Here’s a bit of good news via the Supreme Court with the exception of Uncle Clarence Thomas who still is looking to convince every one he’s just a melatonin-capable version of wipipo.  They did, however, reject Stormy Daniel’s appeal of her defamation of character suit against Trump.

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal by adult film star Stormy Daniels in a defamation suit she brought against former President Trump.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump in 2018 after he suggested on Twitter that Daniels had lied about being threatened by an unknown man in 2011 in relation to her alleged affair with the former president.

Daniels appealed to the Supreme Court after her case was dismissed in the lower courts. The justices on Monday denied her petition without comment.

Oh,  and I’m not quite done with Ted Cruz memes either.  I think JJ, BB, and I have all had a lot of fun with them this week but not quite enough.  But anyway, here’s the other SCOTUS decision for NYC.

More  from Scotus Blog from Amy Howe: “Justices will not block New York grand jury subpoena for Trump’s records.”

The Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for a New York grand jury to obtain former President Donald Trump’s financial records. Over four months after Trump asked them to intervene, the justices turned down a request by the former president to stay a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit that permits Cyrus Vance, the district attorney for Manhattan, to enforce a subpoena to Mazars USA, the president’s longtime accountant. Monday’s order means that Vance and the grand jury likely will finally acquire eight years of Trump’s tax returns and other related records, although grand jury secrecy laws may preclude them from becoming public.

The court’s order came in a dispute that began in 2019, when Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars as part of a state grand jury’s investigation into criminal violations of New York law. The investigation includes a probe into hush-money payments that were made to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. A federal district court in New York and the 2nd Circuit rebuffed the president’s request to quash that subpoena, prompting Trump to appeal to the Supreme Court. The justices ruled in July that the president is not categorically immune from state criminal subpoenas, but they sent the case back to the lower courts to allow the president to challenge the subpoena on other grounds.

When the case returned to the district court, the president again asked the judge to quash the subpoena, arguing that it was a “fishing expedition” issued in “bad faith” to harass him. But the judge rejected the president’s contention and granted Vance’s motion to dismiss the president’s claims, prompting the president to appeal to the 2nd Circuit, which upheld that ruling.

So, this is where the Trump family crime syndicate gets its fortunes, freedom, and time ate up by courts, lawyers, and fees.  And this is where he looks to use Republicans again for fundraising and personal gain.  From Axios and Mike Allen: “Scoop: Trump to claim total control of GOP.”  Couldn’t happen to a better group of insurrection enablers.

In his first post-presidential appearance, Donald Trump plans to send the message next weekend that he is Republicans’ “presumptive 2024 nominee” with a vise grip on the party’s base, top Trump allies tell Axios.

What to watch: A longtime adviser called Trump’s speech a “show of force,” and said the message will be: “I may not have Twitter or the Oval Office, but I’m still in charge.” Payback is his chief obsession.

Axios has learned that Trump advisers will meet with him at Mar-a-Lago this week to plan his next political moves, and to set up the machinery for kingmaking in the 2022 midterms.

  • Trump is expected to stoke primary challenges for some of those who have crossed him, and shower money and endorsements on the Trumpiest candidates.
  • State-level officials, fresh off censuring Trump critics, stand ready to back him up.

Why it matters: Trump’s speech Sunday at CPAC in Orlando is designed to show that he controls the party, whether or not he runs in 2024.

  • His advisers argue that his power within the GOP runs deeper and broader than ever, and that no force can temper him.
  • “Trump effectively is the Republican Party,” Trump senior adviser Jason Miller told me. “The only chasm is between Beltway insiders and grassroots Republicans around the country. When you attack President Trump, you’re attacking the Republican grassroots.”

The big picture: The few Republicans who have spoken ill of Trump since the election — including House members who voted to impeach him, and senators who voted to convict — have found themselves censured, challenged and vilified by the parties in their home states.

What’s next: Trump’s leadership PAC, Save America, has $75 million on hand, and he has a database of tens of millions of names.

The long game: Many Trump confidants think he’ll pretend to run but ultimately pass. He knows the possibility — or threat — gives him leverage and attention.

A Trump source said some Republicans have told him: “If you endorse me, I’ll run.”

Hope he keeps their nuts in cracker for a few years at least a few years. So, back to the Merrick.  Garland Hearing and Senator Klobucher whom I still love from the presidential primaries.

This is the sort of thing economists live for …  And of course the Republican think he’s going to make the DOJ a hotbed of political activism and gunhating.  They’re just the part of white outrage and hypocrisy any more with Tax Cuts for the rich thrown in.

Additionally, there was a strong statement on the current state of Domestic Terrorism which is probably why the gun nut senators were out in force today.  From Chris Strohm at Bloomberg:

“We are facing a more dangerous period than we faced in Oklahoma City,” said Garland, who led the prosecution of the worst domestic attack in the U.S., the truck bombing of the federal building there in 1995.

Garland, who’s now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, appears headed for a bipartisan vote of approval in the Senate. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the committee’s top Republican, called Garland “a good pick to lead the Department of Justice,” and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he’s “very inclined” to support him.

As the Justice Department pursues criminal cases stemming from the Capitol riot, Garland pledged to lead the effort. “If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 — a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government,” he said.

Garland also signaled he’ll make decisions independently from Biden. “The president nominates the attorney general to be the lawyer — not for any individual, but for the people of the United States,” he said.

All of this is still very much breaking news as the hearing continues/

So, I’ll let us continue the discussion down thread as we continue to learn more about Garland and his views.  Sen. Lindsey Graham  asked Judge Merrick Garland the single most idiotic question I’ve seen so far .

“Do you promise to defend the Portland courthouse against anarchists?”

Next he’ll be asking to check the Biden Dog Beds for hidden communists I suppose.

So, hope everything is okay with y’all and you’re up for the vaccine or done with them by now!  It’s warming up down here so I’m feeling much better just with that!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: St. Patrick’s Day Edition

modigliani young woman in a yellow dress

Good Afternoon!!

If you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, have a good one!

I’m illustrating this post with portraits of unsmiling women by Amadeo Modigliani. Why, you may ask? It’s just a little symbolic protest of the constant barrage of “instructions” from the media on how Hillary Clinton should behave.

For months we’ve been hearing from various male commentators–and even from her very loud male opponent–that Hillary needs to stop “shouting.” As Lawrence O’Donnell condescendingly explained, with help from Chris Matthews, “the microphone works.” Hillary should speak more softly and modulate her “tone.” She’s not being “ladylike” enough for them.

Tsk tsk tsk

On Tuesday after Hillary swept five Democratic primaries, Howard Kurtz offered this:

Glenn Thrush agreed.

Britt Hume thought she looked angry.

And then there was Joe Scarborough:

Each of these men was resoundingly mocked on Twitter, but not one of them apologized. Instead they were defensive. They complained about being attacked for their helpful advice and provided examples of various negative things they had written about male candidates’ speeches. They refused to listen to women who tried to explain to them why such unsolicited advice is sexist. You can check out their timelines to read more.

Amedeo-Modigliani-Woman-with-Red-Hair-1917-large-1341477858

Every woman has experienced this kind of “constructive criticism” again again. It’s not helpful, and refusing to listen to women explain why is also sexist. Some examples at Vogue.

Samantha Bee had a great response. She tweeted a photo of herself frowning into the camera and asked for responses. Lots of other women tweeted back unsmiling selfies. Click on the link to go to Mediaite and see some of the responses.

Connie Shultz at The National Memo: Hey, Hillary: Smile, Girl.

You know, the world would be a happier place if a girl would just smile more.

Just ask the guys on Twitter.

Now, by “girl,” I mean a former U.S. senator and secretary of state who is likely to be the first female president of these allegedly united states.

As for “the world,” let’s narrow it down. We’re talking mean men who apparently spend much of their day breathing into paper bags because they’re not even allowed to ask a secretary to grab them a cuppa joe anymore without someone from HR signing them up for diversity training.

What? No more office wife? Evidence of hell in a handbasket right there. Just ask them.

So now we’ve got this Hillary woman going all presidential on us. She’s everywhere. Giving speeches. Declaring victories. Starring in one town hall after another. How much suffering must a good ol’ boy endure? ….

Some men hear what they want to hear, and too many men don’t want to hear from women at all. This is an unhappy century for them, and it’s only going to get worse. One grandmother barreling her way toward the presidency is bound to work up all kinds of other women who’ve had it up to here with the catcall mentality of men who measure our worth by our ability to make them feel better about their limited view of us.

Much more at the link.

Amedeo_Modigliani_-_Portrait_de_Jeanne_Hébuterne_au_Collier

Of course the advice about smiling and speaking in a softer tone are only the beginning of the unsolicited advice pundits have for Hillary.

Amanda Marcotte: Stop “helping” Hillary: Sorry, guys, but Clinton doesn’t need to smile, whisper, or have John Kasich as her running mate.

Tuesday night, those who were lucky enough to be watching their primary coverage on MSNBC were treated to what may be a record-setter in scorching hot takes, courtesy of, who else, Chris Matthews. “I do think if you could ever find a way to put a ticket together that would actually end some of this mishegoss, to use a Yiddish word,” Matthews spun out before coughing up, and you could feel this coming, that he’d like to see Hillary Clinton pick John Kasich as her running mate

“If Hillary Clinton were smart,” Matthews said, with a certainty that is unique to men discrediting the intelligence of women who are, in reality, much smarter than they are, “she’d make herself the alternative” for Republicans who don’t want to vote for Trump by putting Kasich on her ticket.
“Of course, this doesn’t happen in American politics,” he added wistfully, “because American politics is so free of wonder anymore. It’s so predictable.”
Yes, he said this during the administration of the first black president, during a campaign that pits the first major party female candidate against a reality TV star who is winning his party’s nomination against the party leaders’ wills and while running a fascism-reminiscient campaign. But what we really need to get out of the doldrums is for a liberal Democrat to pick a running mate that stands against everything she and her party stand for.

Read the rest at Salon.

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Of course the big news is President Obama’s Supreme Court pick of Merrick Garland. JJ covered it thoroughly yesterday. Today the pundits are speculating about why Obama picked an “old white guy” instead of making a “truly progressive” choice. Of course Merrick is Jewish, so he would add to the diversity of a court that is packed with right win Catholics. Forward.com:

Merrick Garland grew up Jewish in Chicago suburbs of Skokie, worked his way to Harvard Law School and investigated the Oklahoma City bombing as a federal prosecutor.

The “mensch” of a jurist with a most un-Jewish sounding name and a sterling reputation for fairness won a coveted spot on the Washington D.C. court of appeals and rose to lead that prestigious court.

After twice being passed over for the Supreme Court, he is now aiming to become an unprecedented fourth Jew on the nine-member top court.

“He’s a total mensch,” said Jay Michaelson, a Forward columnist who once clerked for Garland. “He really wanted to get the law right.”

Garland’s first cousin, Marty Shukert, an urban designer in Omaha, Nebraska, said it was “almost dreamlike” to see Garland nominated by President Obama.

Garland called the nomination “the greatest honor of my life,” in a carefully scripted roll-out to the nation.

Recounting his Jewish family’s battle with persecution, Garland made an emotional pitch for the job he has coveted for decades.

“My grandparents left the Pale of Settlement…in the early 1900’s, fleeing anti-Semitism and hoping to make a better life for their children in America,” Garland told reporters in the Rose Garden, flanked by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

As the headline of the story says, Garland seems like a real “mensch.”

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Josh Lederman at the AP: Analysis: Obama Dares GOP to Let Clinton, Trump Pick Justice.

By nominating an uncontroversial 63-year-old judge, President Barack Obama handed Republicans an unwelcome election-year proposition: Give in or risk letting Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump pick a Supreme Court justice the GOP might like even less.

Obama’s selection of appellate judge Merrick Garland landed with a bang the morning after primaries in Florida, Ohio and other key states made clear that Clinton and Trump will be their parties’ presidential candidates, barring extraordinary circumstances. Obama described Garland as an evenhanded consensus-builder, all but daring Republicans to block him and face uncertain consequences from voters.

Republican leaders dug in on their insistence that the next president get to choose the replacement for the late Antonin Scalia, the influential conservative and high court’s most provocative member. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it “an issue where we can’t agree.” ….

Republicans loathe Clinton, but they recognize that if she wins the presidency, she could nominate someone far more liberal than Garland, who’s regarded as a centrist. At the same time, the GOP establishment is extremely wary of the unpredictable Trump and desperate for an alternative.

A Democratic victory at the presidential level could be accompanied by a return of the Senate to Democratic control, further complicating Republicans’ ability to prevent Democrats from getting their way. Republicans are fighting their toughest Senate races this year in states like New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Illinois where Democrats are hoping independent-minded voters will be turned off by the GOP’s hardline position.

Brian Beutler calls Garland an “old white guy” and opines that Obama isn’t playing 11 dimensional chess. He just made a mistake in not choosing someone who would make all the progs happy.

Did you hear about the story that PBS News ran about the Tilly family, first-time voters working for Trump in North Carolina?  Please go to the link and watch it. PBS did not notice that a woman they featured prominently while she phone-banked for Trump had white supremacist tattoos all over her arms and hands. Gawker did notice. Here’s a photo of Grace Tilly.

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From the Gawker story:

Above, you see Grace phone banking for Donald Trump, with the Celtic Cross tattoo on her right hand. Despite the tattoo being in plain view of PBS’ cameras, the story never acknowledges that it is interviewing a walking white power billboard. The Anti-Defamation League explains that the Celtic Cross is one of the most “commonly used white supremacist symbols.” Mark Pitcavage, senior research fellow at the ADL, tells me:

The Celtic Cross is an ancient and revered Christian symbol typically not associated with extremism at all. However, one particular version of the Celtic Cross—a squarish cross with a thick circle intersecting with it (also known as Odin’s Cross), has become one of the most popular white supremacist symbols around. In the past 20 years, its popularity has done little but grow, thanks to its use as the logo by Stormfront, the largest white supremacist website in the world.

And on her hand, Grace has a large tattoo that reads “88,” which according to ADL is “code for Heil Hitler.” See that photo at Gawker. So far, PBS has reacted to the Gawker story.

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On Tuesday night we learned that the Sanders Campaign plans to try to convince superdelegates to vote for him at the Democratic convention. Yesterday they announced plans to poach delegates that are pledged to vote for Clinton. It’s hard to remember now that only a couple of months ago, Sanders was supposedly running a clean, positive campaign. Time reports on a call with reporters hosted by camapaign manager Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ and strategist Tad Devine:

Although the Democratic pledged delegates are bound to a particular candidate based on state Democratic votes, Sanders senior strategist Tad Devine suggested there is some leeway there. Devine pointed to the Carter campaigns 1980 victory and their worry about holding onto pledged delegates. The Carter campaign was “deeply concerned about the defection of pledged delegates” to Ted Kennedy, Devine said.

“My point is that a frontrunner in a process like this needs to continue to win if you want to keep hold of delegates,” Devine continued. When pressed by a reporter, Devine said there was no plan “at the moment” to try to sway pledged delegates.

Weaver said that Sanders is doing Clinton a favor by staying in the race–because Bernie will protect poor fragile Hillary from Donald Trump.

“Were this contest to end, you know, by Secretary Clinton, or us getting out—certainly if the Secretary were still in the race, she could expect months and months and months of immediate, and vicious, and very personal attacks from the Trump people,” Weaver said. “So I don’t know if that’s necessarily healthy for her.”

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WTF?! The people who said all along that the superdelegate process is undemocratic now want to win with their votes? And on top of that, they want to usurp the voters’ choices by stealing pledge delegates?

It’s just breathtaking. Here’s a great Greg Sargent interview with Hillary’s chief strategist Joel Benenson as an antidote: Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist: Sanders can’t win, and we’re ready to take down Trump. Read the whole thing at the WaPo.

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your Thursday.