Flynn Cuts His Deal

ABC News is reporting that in exchange with “only” being charged with two counts of lying to the FBI during its investigation of him, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn will “testify that Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians, initially as a way to work together to fight ISIS in Syria.”

I’ve said before that the only reason for Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to cut a deal with Flynn would be if Flynn could help Mueller reel in an even bigger fish than himself. And there really could be only one fish matching that description.


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Pseudonymous. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Lives in Southern California (for now). Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. Homebrewer. Atheist. Likes: respectful and intelligent dialogue, good wine, the Green Bay Packers, and long romantic walks on the beach. Dislikes: mass-produced barley pop, magical thinking, ketchup, and insincere people. If you follow him on Twitter at @burtlikko you may be disappointed.

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442 thoughts on “Flynn Cuts His Deal

  1. Yeah big boom. A few thoughts. This admin is already epically corrupt. One major and one minor official have already plead guilty and his former campaign manager has been indicted. There people are corruption prodigies.

    It depends a lot on when Flynn was directed to contact the russians. Big difference between during the transition and during the campaign. Also there is no way we are hearing all about what Flynn is spilling at this point. Kushner and the minor Trump’s are also going to a be a focus of what ever they are getting out of Flynn.

    I’ve had the revelation a few times with Flynn, but he is at the same time, a highly decorated and successful soldier and a comically greedy, arrogant and loose cannon doofus. Not that i ever thought all those things were separate but man this guy is a wing nut.

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    • This scandal is like an onion, if each layer of an onion was more mystifyingly moronic than the last.

      I think it’s much more likely that there’s hard evidence of serious illegality reaching all the way to Trump, not because I think he’s more corrupt, but because I think the people around him are so clownishly arrogant that they’d generate the evidence without needing to.

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      • I think it’s much more likely that there’s hard evidence of serious illegality reaching all the way to Trump, not because I think he’s more corrupt, but because I think the people around him are so clownishly arrogant that they’d generate the evidence without needing to.

        This, a thousand times over.

        Basically all the people involved in this thing are people who are used to committed crimes with complete impunity. They don’t have the slightest inclination to cover them up. And, in the rare instance they do want to hide them, they have no knowledge at all how to.

        For example, Jared Kushner asking the Russian embassy ‘Hey, can we use your secret communication equipment to talk to Moscow?’, which a) he asked in a stupid enough way that we learned about it, b) isn’t something that Russia isn’t going to let a American do, and c) that means, to ‘secretly’ talk to Russia, he would have to sneak to the Russian embassy, which I assure everyone that US intelligence services closely monitors the entrance to.

        So apparently he was fine with everyone knowing he was in constant contact with the Russian government _as long as_ they were unable to figure out what he was talking about? He thought we’d all be fine with that? What the utter hell?

        There are ways to secretly make contact with foreign governments and set up a secret communication with them, and by ‘secret communications’ I mean ‘communications no one know about’, not ‘communications that everyone knows about but does not know the contents of’. What Kushner did is stupid from top to bottom…I could figure out a better way to do it!(1)

        I mention this not because it is important, but because it is pretty indicative of the quality of intelligence and skill we’re dealing with here.

        1) Of course, I know that if I volunteer be an asset of a foreign power for some idiotic reason, I would have to communicate with them via dead drops and other signals until I prove myself. That’s how that works. Granted, Kushner is so stupid he wouldn’t realize that ‘members of the government secretly in communication with a foreign power’ is basically the definition of an intelligence asset.

        Pssst, Jared: If a foreign powers knows secrets about you that you would rather the world not know, especially if those secrets include agreements and communications with them, and you also have agreements with them to do things in exchange for other things…you’re an intelligence asset. You’re a ‘spy’, in the correct sense of the world. (People tend to misuse spy to mean ‘intelligence operative’, but it actually means the human assets that those operatives use to gather information.)

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        • Don’t forget ditching his SS detail for a week, right around when Manafort’s indictment dropped. Then getting it back.

          Or Rorabacher, whom even Paul Ryan thinks is on the Russian payroll.

          But especially — they wouldn’t have tried to cover things up until, oh, around inauguration at the earliest. But the Feds were watching Manafort all the way back to 2014, and the Feds were watching the Trump campaign by the summer of 2016.

          I’d put down money that not only does Mueller have solid evidence of the initial crimes, they watched the amateur cover-up and obstruction attempts in real time.

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      • Flynn’s apparently planning to testify that he was ordered to go ahead with contacting the Russians by Trump personally.

        Furthermore, it’s also come out that Trump has personally leaned on pretty much every Congressmen involved in the House and Senate investigations to “shut it down” and that Sessions curiously won’t answer whether or not he’s been told to interfere with it.

        Trump is acting guilty as hell. By itself, that might just be because Trump is — let’s say “Not used to being questioned”. However, Mueller acts like he has a tiger by the tail. And he’s staffed up like a man going after big game, and some of the people working for him — they wouldn’t have joined if Mueller hadn’t shown them something to indicate there’s a beast at the end of the trail.

        I think the question isn’t “Who” is guilty — it’s “how many besides Trump?” How many people are in Mueller’s crosshairs? Jarod, who still lacks permanent security clearance and likely can’t ever get it without Presidential fiat because he keeps forgetting to add contacts with Russians?

        Sessions, who also seems to have a real memory problem with Russia? Pence, who was involved in the campaign and the transition, and was a backer of Flynn? Rorabacher, because even the GOP thinks he’s owned by the Russians?

        That’s the question. Not “how bad” — it’s bad, you can tell just by who is working the case — the question is “How far”.

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        • We know that Assange/WikiLeaks personally contacted Trump Jr via a DM on Twitter. The whole thing is a huge nihilistic exercise by sexists, knee-jerk anti-Americans plus Russian meddling with the one country that can take them down.

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    • Among other things, he’s an odd duck among his peers in that most career military guys his age never have let go of their groomed instinct to treat Russia as an implaccable enemy.

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      • There is a giant bucket of repubs who hated the Soviets but have jumped on the Russia train big time in the last few years.

        You could make a spy thriller less outrageous then Red Dawn where a small cabal of KGB officers concoct the greatest scheme to keep power and covertly take down the US by collapsing the Soviet Union and using various indirect means and moles to neuter us. No i don’t think that has happened fwiw.

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        • There is a bucket of suprising size to me* but the norm is still more like McCain/Graham/Romney who when they tried to paint Russia as an adversary, were told LOL The Eighties Called.

          *though mostly its just Rohrabacher. I don’t even think there are even any actual paleocons in Congress anymore.

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          • The thing about Romney’s russia stuff is that he isn’t all that right that Russia major strategic adversary. China is the big player. They actually have a powerful economy and growing military. Russia is weaker economically and militarily. They have been very effective in using propaganda and non-military means to enhance their power. They are certainly aggressive in the local sphere of interest and Syria. Russia is more of a concern to project power in eastern and central europe now than a few years ago. So Romney can get a high five on that but China is a more serious power player at least in all the conventional ways.

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  2. This is going to be interesting. Flynn’s testimony could lead to some very damning evidence against Trump, impeachable evidence. This puts Republicans in the House in a bind. Impeach and convict Trump than you piss off his most loyal fans, who are a big part of the Republican voting base. Not impeaching Trump if Trump is clearly guilty of doing some very bad and illegal things during the 2016 Election could lead to an electoral blood bath for the Republicans in the 2018 mid-terms even with their very gerrymandered map. The fact that they are going to pass a hugely unpopular tax bill is not going to help things. Republicans in Congress still need Trump or at least a Republican in the President’s Office because a Democratic President won’t do what they want.

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    • The House isn’t’ going to impeach Trump unless there is a mega fish ton more evidence then whatever Flynn says and even then i doubt they’ll do it. I can’t see the R’s in the House having been taught any lessons in the last decades about why they should do the heavy lifting of impeaching Trump. If anything they have been taught to ramp up the bluster and go into hyper bitter campaign mode with all the dirty tactics they can muster. Trump is certainly going to do that.

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        • Yeah. Trump is a winner who isn’t held back by dumb bureaucrats and their regulations. He is rebel cop who doesn’t play by the rules. He does what needs to be done and what is right. Your petty lawyer bs laws and paper work don’t matter.

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        • I think Greg is mostly on track… it matters whether this is a false start penalty – which at the moment it is. Or whether Pillsy is right that the onion peels back and reveals something more than a false start.

          The indictment is for events that happen after Trump is elected President…

          So the optimist could say that there are pending indictments for what happened [long] before he was elected president and [immediately] after… but the pessimist points out that the thing that gets him *impeached* is clear proof of electioneering with the Russians. Or at least that’s how I would read the political calculus.

          Even the Obstruction of Justice matter – i.e. “Hey, can you leave Flynn alone [for stuff he did during the Transition]” – as it is currently reported, and absent any Flynn/Mueller booms – isn’t going to change the political calculus. (I suspect).

          So there might be a boom in the Flynn indictment, but I think this one is a little premature.

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          • The indictment is for events that happen after Trump is elected President…

            Just something to consider: Burt would know best, but I’m pretty sure that what he was indicted for *after* agreeing to cooperate is only a subset of lesser charges he could have been indicted for had he not. Lots of stuff we still don’t know.

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          • The only thing i would add or change is that the political calculus and actual criminal wrong doing are very different in this case. Some “minor” obstruction of justice is not going to change the politics since plenty of Trumpets have already gone hard on defending and excusing it. That doesn’t mean it may not lead to charges, a shift in perception by non-trumpet’s who aren’t D’s and be actually horribly corrupt.

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            • True… political calculi are in motion; I’m more in the camp that the left is not executing their politics on this matter very well.

              But, as someone interested in extricating us from Trump and *not* concerned with partisan Democratic objectives, I’m heartened Mueller doesn’t seem guided by them either.

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          • I agree with your analysis of the evidence on hand. “False start penalty” is a cute way to put it, but you’re right, that doesn’t seem all that serious. I can’t see an impeachment going forward on that.

            The thing is, the intel community knew a lot more was going on before the election, but can’t say exactly what they knew or how without compromising sources and methods. So a lot of this campaign is about figuring out the right maneuvers that will expose admissible evidence about those things that they already know happened.

            It’s not clear that Flynn has all of these pieces. I rather expect he doesn’t have all of them, but he has some. We might see Kushner targeted next. Or maybe Donald Jr.

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            • I guess at the moment I’m more in the camp that what the Intelligence Agencies know is that Trumps finances are an embarrassing mess with [legal] but embarrassing ties to people and situations that might or might not hurt Trump’s Brand and Fortune. And possibly that is Mueller’s “I am not a Crook” strategy for Trump to exit. Pull back the onion and show him that the cost of staying is greater than the cost of leaving.

              Or maybe there was deeply coordinated electioneering on behalf of Russian interests of which Trump is willing collaborator or at least a pawn.

              At the moment, I’m still in the first camp.

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              • I somewhat doubt that the Intel agencies know that much about Trump finances because of the restrictions on them looking at US persons.

                I mean sure, there’s probably some dangly ends of a diagram on a whiteboard focused on a person of interest that lead to Trump affiliated organizations. But there’s no network analysis that ties the Trump dangly bits together because that analysis would be illegal for a Intel agency to do.

                (It’s not for people in the Treasury or Justice departments though)

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                • But not for Mueller to connect the dangly bits with the bits from Treasury?

                  Presumably Mueller is methodically following protocol, so A has to happen for him to request B files from Treasury… but we have no idea whether Mueller is on A, B or L.

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                • The Intel agencies don’t, but if Mueller hasn’t already subjected everything Trump has ever even thought of to a full forensic audit he’s planning to. Far deeper than the IRS goes, even under audit.

                  Among the folks he’s hired are the top-tier folks for money shenanigans, and Mueller is approaching the whole thing almost like a mob case.

                  The indictment against Manafort showed exactly how deep into someone’s finances he’s prepared to go.

                  Now intel agencies might have given him some pointers on where to look — after all, Manafort’s dirty money was flowing in from overseas movers and shakers, and we know Trump is deeply in debt to the Russians and a lot of Russian money travels through his properties.

                  I’m not sure when the CIA or NSA has to stop following a trail, but I suspect they’re on solid enough ground tracing, say, a target’s money into a US bank or property. They might have to turn it over to the FBI on where it goes from there, but the FBI has some good people for that. (One of my DM’s is, in fact, one of those guys….)

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              • It’s a fair reading of what is known by you and me. I think there’s more than that, but that’s my intuition at this point, not evidence.

                I think Trump is weirdly naive, and probably agreed to things that didn’t seem like a big deal to him, but are actually a big deal. Naivete is not a valid excuse, though.

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        • Oh, so what if Trump sold out our government to Russia for a 20% interest in Gazprom? Al Franken touched a woman’s boobs!!!!!

          Fcuk Al Franken. It’s Kate Steinle who is going to reelect Trump.

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          • Before today I never actually knew her name. I knew that a woman in San Francisco had been shot by a guy who had re-entered the country after having previously been deported.

            You’re on to something that the actual facts of that case are not politically relevant.

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            • Once I learned the facts of this case I was shocked that it was… a tragic, stupid, possibly negligently homicidal, accident. This substantially lowered my already low opinion of the right-wing reaction to it.

              The problem with the Internet is that it breaches bubbles, not that it maintains them.

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                • So not being a lawyer, I was curious if it’s common for the lesser included charges (like involuntary manslaughter in this case) to depend on a completely different theory of the crime, and if so whether that usually works.

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                  • Prosecutors, even prosecutors in liberal areas, still have prosecuting spirit and make the same decisions as prosecutors every where.

                    SF is not as super-liberal as everyone imagines much of the time. The Chinese community is active, fairly socially conservative (not to fundie levels but they are not raging social liberals either. A large chunk of the Chinese community in SF does not want recreational marijuana and is doing their darndest to make it hard to open recreational marijuana stores.) There could still be pressure politically including from slightly more conservative suburban voters (though Bay Area suburbs are super-blue as well).

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                  • It would have been. has been explaining that a lot has to do with what the prosecutor argues to the jury. It’s a tough thing to make an “in the alternative, here’s the lesser-included charge” without seriously endangering the prime cause of action. “You should vote guilty on the murder charge! But even if you don’t, you should vote guilty on the manslaughter charge anyway!” It’s a needle’s eye that needs threading and not all lawyers are good at it.

                    But on my own behalf, I think that maybe charging him with murder was the mistake. The facts of the case look like manslaughter: he finds the gun, picks it up to check it out, and it discharges into a crowd, killing Ms. Steinle.

                    From my own admittedly limited experience out at the gun range, this suggests to me that he did several things wrong: he didn’t assume the gun was loaded, he didn’t confirm that the safety was off before putting his finger in the trigger guard, he “tested” the gun with his finger in the trigger guard, he did all this while pointing the barrel towards an area where there were people, and so on. Guns don’t “accidentally discharge” all on their own; rather, they are carelessly handled.

                    There’s no intent, but there is negligence in pointing the gun towards an area where there’s people, and that’s a pretty classic sort of distinction between murder and manslaughter. So the mistake was going for murder at all.

                    Why the prosecutor did that is always going to be murky. It’s likely politics had something to do with it. How much, we likely can’t ever really know.

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                    • Somehow, I think the outcry would have been considerably muted if this had been a white guy who accidentally fired his CC weapon and killed a woman he wasn’t aiming at, and any suggestion that he be prosecuted for murder one would have prompted outrage over the overcharging from a lot of people on the Right.

                      And seriously, they’d have a good point.

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                      • A “CC weapon”, by definition, is legal. This guy was a drug dealer who wasn’t legally supposed to have weapons at all, much less be “shooting at a sea lion” (one of his claims).

                        At best we’re looking at a guy with a history of (sometimes criminal) incompetence who’s already lost his right to bare arms and then, through incompetence, accidently killed someone. How many felonies is he supposed to be able to wrack up before society gets serious about taking a gun out of his hands?

                        And that’s “at best”. He’s clearly not cooperating with anything so there’s a ton of unresolved issues that very likely don’t reflect well on him (like whether or not he stole the gun).

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                        • So your argument is that he killed someone though criminal incompetence?

                          That’s quite plausible!

                          It’s also not anything like premeditated murder. Charging him with premeditated murder, when he killed someone through criminal incompetence, was stupid. And generally speaking, DAs shouldn’t be ridiculously overcharging people with crimes they obviously didn’t commit.

                          He actually was convicted on the charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, which makes the whole “jury nullification” angle look ridiculous, and suggests a degree of seriousness about taking the gun away from him.

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                          • So your argument is that he killed someone though criminal incompetence?

                            No, I’m saying that’s the most favorable view of what we’ve got… which includes him “finding” the gun under his seat (which I don’t believe. More likely is he’s either the guy who stole the gun or he bought it).

                            Other possibilities are he was threatening someone with it or did something else in theme for a drug dealer. I think he’s telling self serving lies and the case against him could have easily bloomed into something “drug trade” related.

                            a degree of seriousness about taking the gun away from him.

                            So now the number of felonies on his ticket has gone from 5 to 6, and it’s double triple illegal for him to have a gun.

                            Yep, he’ll respect that!

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                            • Maybe he found the gun, or maybe he bought it, or stole it.
                              Maybe he shot at an enemy, or maybe he mishandled it.
                              Maybe he was threatening someone, or maybe it was a drug deal.

                              Man!
                              That’s a lot of possibilities!
                              Y’know here’s a thought.

                              Maybe they should like, have an investigation to gather evidence, then hold a trial where all of those possiblities can be examined and cross examined, and get a bunch of disinterested citizens to make a ruling.

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                            • Well, he’ll be in jail or deported, so I don’t know why you’re so worried about that.

                              He was, after all, convicted of illegal possession. And it sounds like the feds will take their own steps to deport him.

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                              • Well, he’ll be in jail or deported, so I don’t know why you’re so worried about that. He was, after all, convicted of illegal possession. And it sounds like the feds will take their own steps to deport him.

                                I live very far away from this to “worry” about it.

                                Trump’s big point here is California was supposed to deal with this before he started killing people. Instead what California did was prevent the Federal government from doing anything… well that and announce your first murder is free if it’s only your 6th felony.

                                The optics of this are really bad for good reason. It’s handing Trump an easy victory.

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                                • California didn’t do this. A jury acquitted him, not any political actor within the state’s governmental apparatus. California charged the guy with murder, which is seemingly exactly what Trump would have wanted a prosecutor directly under his control to have done.

                                  As with a lot of things that come out of the justice system, it’s easier grandstanded about for political gain than actually understood, so your point about the optics should survive this quibble.

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                        • You’ll be happy to know that the civil suit for wrekless negligence against the Bureau of Land Management is continuing.

                          After all, if the BLM Ranger had stored his service weapon in a secure manner instead of in a backpack under the seat of his car, Katie Steinle would be alive.

                          I wonder if we can charge the Ranger with a Murder 1? It makes as much sense as charging someone who fired a gun in a completely different direction with the premeditated intention of killing a certain specific person via a Jim West (*) worthy shot

                          (*) Wasn’t SF (TV’s) Jim West’s home base? Perhaps there’s something in the air that makes ordinary people amazing marksmen?

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                          • It makes as much sense as charging someone who fired a gun in a completely different direction with the premeditated intention of killing a certain specific person via a Jim West (*) worthy shot

                            Your intentions follow the bullet… so what was he doing firing the bullet to begin with? Was he shooting the sea-lion who no one claims actually existed, or was he mishandling the gun that fairies left for him after stealing it from a car…

                            …or maybe he was shooting it at one of his fellow dealers? Killing the wrong person while attempting murder is still murder.

                            Everything up to the gun going off was illegal. It was illegal for him to have the gun. It was illegal for him to use it. His job (dealing drugs) was illegal. The gun was stolen. His being in the country was illegal.

                            If he pulled the trigger in the commision of a crime, then I’m guessing the laws being thrown at him get a lot heavier.

                            And yes, unfortunately we get deep into “we don’t know” territory so we have to accept the changing word of a 5 time felon who is heavily motivated to tell the best lie he can so it’s not his fault.

                            The gun he magically “found” under his seat had nothing to do with his extensive criminal history of this sort of thing. His extensive criminal history had nothing to do with him pulling the trigger.

                            With that as the public line, I can very much see why people are upset.

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                            • You’re asking the wrong question for a murder conviction. Specifically, the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt” does a lot of work you’re eliding.

                              My personal reaction, as a SF liberal who didn’t follow the case pre-verdict, is that none of the evidence removes all reasonable doubt he intended to kill her. I could easily imagine finding the lesser-included, but popehat’s point on how that’s a hard pitch to juries is exactly right.

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                            • And yes, unfortunately we get deep into “we don’t know” territory so we have to accept the changing word of a 5 time felon who is heavily motivated to tell the best lie he can so it’s not his fault.

                              Yeah, this. This is why I’m not really that invested in blaming the prosecutors. I don’t think that jurors are usually that interested in coulda shoulda woulda regarding secondary evidence when the prima facie evidence is as clear as it is. And, low level criminals who make mistakes that kill innocent parties are not (usually) sympathetic defendants.

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            • I believe the argument goes:

              “The real threat to America is undocumented immigrants who break laws in America, get deported, return, and are protected by a sanctuary city from being re-deported until after they accidentally kill an American.”

              I still find it supremely unconvincing as a generalized threat, but from what I’ve seen the sanctuary city bit is important to those making the argument.

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              • While it doesn’t necessarily matter if the spin masters get their spin going, but do we know if his presence in a sanctuary city actually made a difference? Was he someone they were trying to re-deport but couldn’t because he was in SF? Or was he simply operated under the radar and this could have happened anywhere regardless of sanctuary city-status?

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                • Somewhere in the middle, but the sanctuary city approach did matter, apparently.

                  From CNN: “Before the shooting, officials in San Francisco released Garcia Zarate from custody instead of turning him over to immigration authorities.”

                  He’s also been deported 5 times, so add that to the spin machine.

                  Again, I think this is a really non-convincing argument.

                  But the spin masters are in love with it already, as far as I can tell.

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            • Yes. The real threat to America is undocumented immigrants who break laws in America, get deported, return, and accidentally kill Americans.

              That’s just a part of it for this case, and not really the most important part.

              For citizens or aliens either one, whose criminal recklessness results in the death of another person, that’s exactly what manslaughter charges are for. In terms of the cultural health of America at large, it’s the jury’s actions which are far more ominous.

              I hope it turns out different but for now it looks like the San Francisco jury absolved the defendant of all criminal responsibility for an innocent person’s death for the purpose of giving the middle finger to Donald Trump.

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                • argues here that the jury applying the law as written could not possibly have reached a verdict other than a conviction, but exercised its so-called “sovereign right” to not apply the law in a situation that the jury found unjust.

                  I have strong feelings about this subject in what I suspect is diametric opposition to here, because allowed to run rampant, jury nullification removes jury trials from the realm of the rule of law. It is not for a jury to decide when a particular law applies to a particular case. It is for a jury to resolve disputed issues of fact, not determine questions regarding the applicability of the law.

                  And that’s what it looks like the jury did here, finding a reasonable doubt that there was intent to kill or even reckless disregard for safety. Now, I agree with that there is a pretty strong-looking claim for reckless disregard based on the facts of this case. It’s likely what I would have argued had I been the prosecutor. But I’m also hesitant to say the jury acted “irrationally” and with “willful disregard of the evidence” such that a “miscarriage of justice” has occurred, because I wasn’t in the courtroom to see and hear the evidence that was actually presented. (Those quoted words were not randomly selected, as you might imagine.)

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                  • Being the frothingly angry Team Blue Trooper that I am, I get regular FB alerts from my gun control groups, almost every single day, about accidental shootings wounding or killing people.

                    Guns discharged by toddlers, children playing army men, women fishing thru their purse, guys playing around while drunk, or stupid people deliberately shooting at the ground during stupid angry encounters.

                    I don’t seem to recall a lot of spin from the right or the left about how these people should all be prosecuted for manslaughter.

                    If this guy was a Florida Man who fired a pistol, and the bullet ricocheted off the ground and struck a woman, I suspect the national media would file it in the News Of The Weird column next to the Flat Earth Rocket Guy.

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                      • In fairness to Koz’s point… the Jury did have the option of taking one of the “Lesser Included” charges.

                        So, the *jury* also decided it wasn’t Involuntary Manslaughter or assault with a deadly weapon. He was convicted of possession of a firearm.

                        After six days of deliberations, a jury on Thursday convicted Garcia Zarate for unlawful possession of a firearm, which carries a sentence of up to three years. He was found not guilty of murder, as well of the lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon.

                        I’m not sure I have a strong opinion on what the proper punishment should be for the accidental firing of a weapon by a homeless man which ricochets and kills a woman – if those are indeed the “true” facts of the case. But it seems a story of prosecutorial failure more than anything else.

                        Unless the members of the jury make it about something else; but I don’t see how you can go to nullification without the Jury making it about nullification.

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                  • It will be interesting to see what comments the jurors make. Usually in a situation like this, there’s at least a couple who will make some public comments. If they were trying to flip the bird to Trump, you gotta figure they’ll want to get their money’s worth.

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            • If this is true, it’s hard to think of a more damning indictment of a country that already elected Trump once.

              I don’t why this should be an indictment of America, it seems to me that it would speak well for her. It’s becoming quite plausible that Americans are going to defend their prerogatives for self-determination, the point where the libs and the Establishment or the Deep State can’t maneuver around it, and they’ll have to quit trying.

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              • Evidently “prerogatives for self-determination” include demanding juries convict people for stuff they didn’t do because you dislike other, unrelated things that they did do.

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                • I have a much stronger view of nullification than most lawyers, and almost all judges. But the acquittal on all manslaughter charges, which is what happened here, is simply an outrage. There’s just no other way to put it.

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                  • The DA should have tried to just go for the charges they had a decent case for, instead of going with, “Maybe this guy is a reckless moron or maybe he’s a cold blooded killer who meticulously planned to randomly shoot someone he wasn’t aiming at.”

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                      • I thought the addendum to the Popehat tweets was useful to explain how they failed even on the “lesser includeds”

                        As a Sales pro, we would see it in a totally different light… we’d build a ladder to show that you definitely want involuntary manslaughter … and then start walking the customer, er, jury up the ladder towards the best deal you have – Murder 1. I mean, we know that we only get Murder 1 if the customer wants/needs Murder 1… but don’t screw your deal going for Murder 1 when Invol Manslaughter is a perfectly reasonable get.

                        They went for the big deal and screwed all the other deals on down the line. I’ve done that before; once.

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        • This seems to be what they are saying and it might work with enough of the base who have been fed anti-Democratic Party hate and anti-liberal hate for decades.

          Plus White Supremacy is a hell of a drug.

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        • Not even that. I can totally see McCain and Graham saying the house should back off and let the voters decide in 2020 whether they’re troubled by Trump’s choices, and that it really isn’t fair to deprive them of that opportunity.

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      • That’s my prediction to Trump is more useful to Republicans in office than out of office because of tax cuts and judiciary appointments. They won’t do anything against Trump and will try to shift the focus to the Democratic Party in any way, shape, or form possible. As mid-terms approach they will invoke all dirty tricks and culture war tactics possible to stem off or even prevent a blood bath.

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        • I’m sure some R’s in congress see Trump’s legal troubles as very good leverage over him. The more compromised he is the more power they have to help and protect him. I’m sure they want Trump needing cover from them and owing them favors. A weakened Trump gives them power and leverage.

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    • Just remember that impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. It has some legal trappings. Don’t let that fool you. It isn’t fooling Mueller, for instance.

      The rule of law exists only if there is political will behind it. That is the lesson of John Yoo and torture. Or of Andrew Jackson, for that matter. What’s behind the phrase “popular sovereignty” is the idea that if enough voters don’t care about rule of law, the President doesn’t have to pay any attention to it.

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      • This raises an interesting question for me, what happens if Trump is arrested, but not impeached? For that matter, what if he’s convicted of a crime but not impeached? Can he be President in prison, or is there a non-political mechanism for removing him?

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        • [W]hat happens if Trump is arrested, but not impeached?
          Absolutely no one knows. With this President, I think he pardons himself.

          [W]hat if he’s convicted of a crime but not impeached?
          Then shame on Congress, but you know they’ll still enjoy a 95% re-election rate anyway.

          Can he be President in prison…
          There’s no Constitutional impediment to this. As a practical matter that would be an amazingly difficult thing to do and holy crap would we look ridiculous to the rest of the world. At that point, I think we’re looking hard at the Twenty-Fifth Amendment.

          …or is there a non-political mechanism for removing him?
          There is one that is not necessarily political but which is definitely not legal. I hesitate to even mention it because no one, not even the most frothingly angry Team Blue Trooper, ought to want it. Nor should anyone advocate it. The disruption and damage such a thing would wreak upon the nation would be incalculably greater even than an impeachment.

          He should resign, or be lawfully removed from office through impeachment, or lawfully removed from office through the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. All three of those things are strictly political. But not the other thing. We are not Rome.

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            • My first, gut-level, reaction to this is that I don’t see a problem with a rule that presidents are immune from state statutory charges not recognized in federal law. I know nearly nothing about criminal law, so maybe I’ve just done something nutty, but I don’t see why California should be allowed to pass a law against–say–ownership of name-brand real estate by federal politicians then hold Trump accountable.

              Anyway, interesting question that would require a LOT more thought.

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          • I think the underlying question here is, what happens to America if about half of us decide that there is no crime or behavior whatsoever that would cause us to tolerate sharing power with the opposing power?

            I would say what happens then is the American experiment in self governance has failed, and we become merely another authoritarian regime.

            Because as much as we go on about authoritarianism and tyranny, what gets overlooked often is how wildly popular that is.

            All dictatorships draw their power from a large enough group of people who supply them with enough troops and money and support to remain in power.

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            • Semi-off topic:
              This is How Every Genocide Begins

              It happened this way in Germany, Cambodia, Rwanda, and countless other sites of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and mass persecution. The pamphlets, megaphones, and radio broadcasts came before the pogroms, murders, and forced relocations.

              When a large enough group of people decide that anything is acceptable so long as the other side doesn’t get power, then anything is possible.

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              • So rather than needing to defend himself against charges of sexual harassment (which he’s probably guilty of), Trump with one tweet now needs to defend himself against “genocide”… and in a week or year or whatever when the body count is “zero” this will look like hysteria.

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            • On my pessimistic days, I suspect we’re already there. And the only reason it hasn’t all hit the fan is that 35% are in one party and 15% are in the other, so they (we? – I did say it was on pessimistic days) can’t dictate terms. Yet.

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            • This is my fear. Our current legislative style (i.e. 60-votes for everying) makes governance impossible, which leads to hyberbolic legislative nonsense and no progress made on anything that Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders don’t agree on. So there’s no pressure release when things get out of sync, and instead the nonsense and dysfunction keep building.

              Either a really good engineer or an explosion seem necessary. And I don’t see the engineer, even though the explosion is unthinkable.

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              • Our current legislative style (i.e. 60-votes for everying) makes governance impossible, which leads to hyberbolic legislative nonsense and no progress made on anything that Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders don’t agree on.

                I’m not entirely sure this is a problem. Most of the big issues have already been solved, a lot of what could be done now comes down to “politicians justifying their own existence”.

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                • Look at the way the UK generally (maybe Brexit excluded) governs: parties form policies they actually want to have enacted, because if they win they’ll have the power to actually do them. Here, we have almost exactly the opposite style, because the governing party can’t really achieve anything legislatively.

                  The assertion that everything big has been solved suggests you and I are too far apart to discuss this productively.

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                  • The assertion that everything big has been solved suggests you and I are too far apart to discuss this productively.

                    Possibly.

                    But it’s not so much “everything big has been solved” as it is “there is no consensus on what to do about lots of issues”. Global warming, gun control, entitlement reform, etc. Yes, one side could get enough of a majority to ram through some “solution” in the teeth of the other, but our system is designed to make that hard for good reason.

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                    • That I agree with, with two caveats. First, it implies the GOP has a global warming solution other than denial, which I do not accept. Second, “the system” was not designed this way. The system was designed to allow majority rule in the Senate.

                      Filibusters are a historic accident as a result of Aaron Burr’s rule changes (yes, the guy featured in the best got milk commercial of all time) that was used for almost nothing except preservation of slavery/discrimination until the Gingrich era and is now used for literally everything permitted (by both sides).

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                      • …it implies the GOP has a global warming solution other than denial…

                        Doing “nothing” and handling the issues piecemeal as they come up while we wait for the technology to improve is a perfectly fine solution. Thankfully Congress is well equipped to do nothing. Denial is simply part of that “solution”.

                        Second, “the system” was not designed this way.

                        The system was designed to prevent one side from resolving contentious issues (specifically slavery) without the consent of the other side.

                        A side effect of the gov being so big, and so important, is lots and lots of stuff is “contentious”.

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                        • Doing “nothing” and handling the issues piecemeal as they come up while we wait for the technology to improve is a perfectly fine solution.

                          There’s a difference between saying:

                          “something is happening but we don’t have yet the tools to address the problem, and we will continue closely monitoring the issue, and developing the tools”

                          and saying:

                          “There is no such thing as Climate Change”

                          while lobbing snow balls in the Chamber and forbidding, or attempting to, to spend money in Climate Change research.

                          (redacted for unnecessary speculation about motives. was something that is pretty close to “You should acknowledge that difference.” – maribou)

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                          • @j_a That last para is really unnecessary except as an ad hominem on Dark Matter (which, to be clear, is unnecessary). Try a different phrasing next time…

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                          • Oh I know the difference, but we’re talking about politics. I’m great with having logical, data driven arguments which make math based evaluations… however that’s NOT what the GW debate is about.

                            The science of GW is all fine and rational. What to do about it is highly emotional and comes down to SOMETHING MUST BE DONE! (smbd) rather than economic evaluations of cost/benefit and sensible impact.

                            The SMBD people insist malaria coming back to America is a serious problem. The SMBD people insist hurricanes via GW is the major problem of hurricanes, as opposed to putting cities in harm’s way on every inch of the coast. The SMBD people insist the planet is in danger but we can’t build dams because it kills fish and we can’t build nuke plants because… well just because.

                            My general conclusions are…
                            1) Burning carbon has been an absurdly great net “good” for mankind
                            2) The planet isn’t really in danger
                            3) If it were we have on-the-self technology which works (nuclear)
                            4) The most economically rational thing to do at the moment is wait for technology to improve and tell people reassuringly “no, nothing needs to be done”.

                            We’re not actually arguing about the facts of GW, we’re arguing about the emotional response and how to deal with it. And “it doesn’t exist” is a fine emotional counter to SMBD’s overly emotional statements.

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                        • (*cough* no – Maribou)

                          The leader of the party controlling Congress says that climate change is a Chinese hoax. One of the Senators from that party wrote a whole book about who climate change is a hoax.

                          That’s not “handling issues piecemeal as they come up”. That’s a bunch of idiotic paranoia and lies aimed at preventing us from even dealing with issues piecemeal as they come up.

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                          • That’s not “handling issues piecemeal as they come up”. That’s a bunch of idiotic paranoia and lies aimed at preventing us from even dealing with issues piecemeal as they come up.

                            So if Malaria comes back to the US, you think we’re just going to ignore it? How about the recent round of hurricanes, are we pretending they never happened?

                            Having a local doctor spend a few hundred dollars a pop to cure immigrants or travelers who pick up Malaria in Africa is much cheaper and more effective than dialing back the temperature of the planet.

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                        • You and I are talking about different things.

                          Constitutional checks and balances are designed to slow down change. That’s why the senate has longer terms and (initially) wasn’t even elected.

                          The filibuster is a different animal, and makes a HUGE difference because it often prevents EITHER party from having the ability to run the Senate (without which, no laws can get passed). That’s not in the constitution, nor is it intended.

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              • Either a really good engineer or an explosion seem necessary. And I don’t see the engineer, even though the explosion is unthinkable.

                My guess is, that contrary to Chip’s apocalyptic intuitions, that the American people will give up on bipartisan governance. There’s going to be too much obstruction (in the non-criminal sense) to indulge too much support for political minorities.

                I have thought for a while that the GOP would be the beneficiary of this, though now I’m not so sure.

                In any event, this is dependent on our political tribalisms continuing in the direction they are currently going. But this is in no way inevitable.
                It’s never too late for libs to start to do the right thing.

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          • There is one that is not necessarily political but which is definitely not legal. I hesitate to even mention it because no one, not even the most frothingly angry Team Blue Trooper, ought to want it. Nor should anyone advocate it. The disruption and damage such a thing would wreak upon the nation would be incalculably greater even than an impeachment.

            Yeah, that definitely doesn’t sound good. I was think more like the rule in New Zealand where a Member of Parliament who is convicted of a crime with a maximum sentence of at least 3 years automatically lose their seat, but that’s a legal, non-political method.

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        • This raises an interesting question for me, what happens if Trump is arrested, but not impeached?

          Yeah. It’s a funny fact: Everyone assumes the president has some sort of immunity to Federal prosecution, but there is literally no such impediment in the constitution, except for the fact he can fire people who try to prosecute him.

          Except…can he really fire _everyone_ who can prosecute him? I don’t mean as a practical or political manner…I mean that question literally: Is everyone who could move the process forward fire-able by the president?

          Let’s imagine some sort of hypothetical world where the entire executive branch under the President agrees the President had committed a crime, and the courts agree also, and Congress refuses to do anything. Let’s also say the courts have held that the President cannot pardon himself. The president can fire the AG, he can fire deputy AGs, he can fire the US Attorneys…

          …but the thing is, it’s grand juries that indict. And they are secret. Also the president cannot fire those, nor does that really matter anyway, because the indictment already happened by the time he learned of it. Maybe a Federal judge also needs to then sign off on an arrest warrant (I think maybe that’s only needed if there isn’t an indictment?) but that hardly matters, as the President can’t fire Federal judges anyway.

          So there’s no way for the president to keep from being indicted and or to stop the courts system from issuing a warrant for their arrest, except to maybe fire literally everyone who can convene a grand jury well in advance of that. (Which is totally insane and would mean the US couldn’t prosecute Federal felonies.)

          Once that happens, would the US Marshals to enforce it? Can the president fire individual US Marshals? Can he fire them in _real time_, like when they show up to arrest him? (I bet their union contract says they can only be fired after a specific process.)

          Can he fire the people holding him in Federal prison? Maybe, but what would that accomplish?

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          • Let’s also say the courts have held that the President cannot pardon himself.

            I don’t want to get in the way of a fun thought experiment… but I think you play the game by *daring* him to pardon himself; which then fits the bill for impeachable overuse/abuse of power. That’s exactly the fig-leaf/positioning that you give congress to act. Trump takes the dare to protect himself, and in doing so, discredits himself – not to everyone, of course, but to enough that his exit can be engineered. Or, if it even gets to that point it is quite likely he resigns, Pence pardons and you get Democratic Jimmy Carter Redux in 2020.

            The idea is to envelop and force the surrender… not force a fight to the death.

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          • Yeah. It’s a funny fact: Everyone assumes the president has some sort of immunity to Federal prosecution, but there is literally no such impediment in the constitution, except for the fact he can fire people who try to prosecute him.

            I forget that’s an option available to him, our police don’t work like that.

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        • That is an interesting question. I had actually assumed that executive privilege meant he can’t be prosecuted for any act he takes as President. Though he can be impeached as such.

          But maybe he will be charged with things that came before that. We’re already in uncharted territory, given the Comey firing.

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    • I think Greg is right. The House isn’t going to impeach Trump. I and a million other people have written about how amazing it is that the GOP Congress is rushing this tax bill to pass. A tax bill that goes to cartoon levels of villainy and trolling.

      The only thing I can think of is that the GOP Congresscritters are taking the threats of their donors seriously and they know the spigot turns off unless they pass something. There is also the revolutionary vanguard and contempt for democracy that you have noted. The GOP has adopted a Property Rights above all attitude and if democracy is a threat to property and business rights, democracy has to go.

      Moore has pulled ahead again in Alabama and it looks like he is going ton win. The Democratic tide in Virginia was not enough to beat gerrymandering for the House of Delegates, the GOP still holds a bare majority.

      Plus the 2018 map is still extremely favorable for the GOP and Trumpistas. So doubling down on culture war and eww Democrats might save them in 2018 despite the massive unpopularity of Trump and the tax bill.

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      • The Senate map is favorable to the R’s in 2018. D’s should not get their hopes to high there. The House is, obviously, a different story and where the hopes should be pinned along with the state level.

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        • Under normal conditions, yes, but we are not in normal conditions. Senators are not protected by gerrymandering in the same way that House members are. The entire state elects them and if the Democratic voters in every state are motivated and anger towards the Republicans is big enough, even a favorable map for the Republicans in the Senate might not end that favorable.

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          • Oh i agree, that is true. However the map isn’t favorable to the D’s. That is a basic fact. The D’s or R’s, depending how you look at it, could still turn that around to lead to big D victory in the Senate.

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        • I concur but even then I suspect the GOP will take dent but maintain a slim majority. I hope I am wrong but we shall see. Though the resignations of people like Flake give me some hope that the map is more playable depending on how events turn out. Perhaps some red-state Dems will manage to hold on and Arizona will elect its first Democratic Senator in a while.

          The whole of 2017 is producing a lot of conundrums. I’m still largely a believer that politics is the art of the possible and good governance requires compromise and long boring of hard wood.

          Yet nearly the entire GOP has been acting in bad faith and with such contempt that I wonder if the Democrats would just be suckers to engage in good-faith negotiations and compromise? I want the GOP to know a taste of their own medicine. What good would it do for Democrats to reinstate the blue slip tradition that Grassley just chucked?

          What Franken and Conyers did was horrible but I question whether they should resign while Trump and Moore just double down on denials and survive. I’ve wondered about a world where each and every Democrat is forced to resign at the slightest hint of wrong-doing while GOP polls act with impunity, deny, and thrive.

          People have suggested to me that it is better for the Democratic Party to keep its integrity but I am not so sure. Frankly you need to be in power to change and influence policy and the idea of just maintaining integrity as the far right destroys the American economy and rolls back the last sixty years of social progress is risible. “We might be starving, sick, and freezing in dystopia because the GOP gutted the welfare state and instituted the Great Depression 2.0 and a new Gilded Age but hey, we have our integrity.”

          There is no value to integrity if it means privation and death.

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          • If over election cycles enough of the populace don’t ever vote for integrity then the American experiment has failed. That is possible.

            However the escalating “they are bad dudes so we need to go lower or we’ll always lose” is a highway to hell. The voters have to been given choices and if both sides are in a race to the bottom on low integrity then we’re sporked in the long and short run. There is always a new low to be found. You can’t out scum a real scum bag. That never works.

            Just speaking about the politics the D’s have an opportunity to go high on integrity. Some people have been looking for that for years. That was part of O’s appeal and the draw to Bernie. Heck even Trump tried to milk that with his drain the swamp stuff. People want that. The D’s have a giant opening to try to be the party of good, or at least significantly better, integrity. We’re going to have all the Trump morass and guilty pleas and trials and Moore’s mega ick factor and the swamp that is Trump. Dump Franken and Conyers, which does hurt, and bite the bullet on other D’s who might get hurt. But then go full throat on the R’s. That is a viable and i would strongly suggest a winning tactic in 18 and 20.

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            • Perhaps but I still think that the left in general has a purity pony problem. Look how many people said they just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for HRC because she gave speeches to Goldman at the going rate and went for a loon like Jill Stein. Look at Susan Sarandon’s op-ed in the Guardian which insisted that we would be at war if HRC is President.

              I do sort of admire the tactical voting abilities of the right at times even if grudgingly. Perhaps a lot of righties hate Trump’s vulgarity but they knew he would give them the judiciary he wanted and went for it. On the left we have people who say, “I just can’t bring myself to vote for someone I disagree with on 10 percent basis.”

              And frankly I am getting tired of the purity ponies on my side.

              Conyers should resign and his seat is probably safe. Franken should stay in for now pending investigation. He seems to be the only sincerely contrite person with a scandal.

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              • I agree about leftie ponies. However a person like Trump, or even being out of power like D’s are now, has a real way of clarifying issues to lefties who don’t like D’s. It’s one thing to not vote for Clinton after 8 years of O. It’s another thing when presented with Generic Non-Clinton D after 4 years of Trump. The lefties who won’t vote D then are an irrelevantly small number or are in safe D areas so the loss of vote wont’ hurt. Heck i voted Nader in 2000 but was here in AK at the time.

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              • Look how many people said they just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for HRC because she gave speeches to Goldman at the going rate….

                The going rate? Lol.

                I don’t know which would be worse, the idea that there’s other people paying six figures for the privilege of ladling more money to the Clintons, or that Goldman’s payments were a one-off.

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                • You do know those 10,000 a plate dinners that politicians are fond to throw collect more than one million in one evening?

                  For as long as presidential campIgns are a billion dollars affair, and it takes several millions to run for the Senate, all politicians of all denominations will, no, must, do the same.

                  Most Western democracies tackle this problem through very short, and mostly publicly funded campaigns. But we can’t, or won’t, do that here.

                  Like in many things, there are problems, there are possible solutions to the problem, and there are plenty of people that deny that there is a problem at all.

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                  • For as long as presidential campIgns are a billion dollars affair, and it takes several millions to run for the Senate, all politicians of all denominations will, no, must, do the same.

                    Whatever could be said of this, it’s not really relevant here.

                    The money Goldman paid went to HRC personally, and certainly not a campaign, illustrating perfectly the lack of legitimacy for HRC relative to Trump.

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            • I think the problem with the Democratic Party going high on integrity is that it requires a Party of Saints and we are never going to have a Party of Saints. Democratic inclined voters are going to need to decide what flaws they can live with in politicians and what flaws are deal breakers. Its going to have to be a fairly unified on this because each liberal faction can’t have its own deal breakers. There are lots of liberals that find Corey Broker’s tendency to seek public adulation too much for them. I really think that the ideal politician for too many liberals is a serious and self-effacing public servant that never tries to enjoy any perk of office.

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            • I mean part of it is everybody seems to be willing to say it isn’t enough, left, right, and center.

              They say Conyers should resign. The reaction isn’t, “Well, good.”

              It’s, “Why not Franken?”

              I mean, I’m not even saying it’s not a legitimate question, but the refusal to take the win is bizarre and useless.

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      • I just got back online and this morning in America is quite different than last night. Is there any indication that Flynn’s indictment is undermining the GOP’s tax bill push? From what I gather that whole process has gone sideways.

        Errr… even more sideways …

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          • The fun will be in reconciliation. The Senate bill, as passed, I don’t think can pass the House at all. The Senate margin is very slim, so any changes have to make sure they don’t “unbuy” Collins, Flake, and Murkowski.

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          • Just read this, from Claire McCaskill:

            This is so bad. We have just gotten list of amendments to be included in bill NOT from our R colleagues, but from lobbyists downtown. None of us have seen this list, but lobbyists have it. Need I say more? Disgusting. And we probably will not even be given time to read them.

            McConnell is the vilest.

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    • Their arrogance and lack of self-reflection knows no bounds. Even if the above is true, a Presidential candidate potentially committing treason by colluding and conspiring with a semi-hostile foreign power to win the Presidency is much more important than markets.

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    • I happened to be at the gym and caught Fox News in real time.

      My favorites: “Obama employee Flynn” and “Clearly, he won’t have any credibility on the stand because he’s pled to lying! Liar would just lie again” and then a massive wave of relief so strong you could almost touch it when they could switch to the “breaking news” of the Senate tax bill getting enough votes.

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  3. One other thing about the Flynn indictment: by flipping is Flynn demonstrating that he has little-to-no confidence that Trump would pardon him and his son after the investigation is completed? If so, that’s a pretty big deal, seems to me, since it implies that even Trump’s inner circle view his demands for loyalty as one directional and see him as an unreliable partner. I wonder if that will be a more prominent consideration for others going forward.

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    • I like that Flynn agrees to participate in any “covert law enforcement activities” so bear that in mind if he invites you over for tea.

      The agreement is also perfectly clear that Flynn is on the hook for anything and everything not related to the two charges… plus, by my reading, those two charges can change to become more and other charges…

      so, here’s my Burt Likko question: Am I right in seeing this as a no-deal deal? Flynn get’s nothing except reduced sentencing recommendation (from “6” to “4” and not even a guaranty) and Mueller gives him nothing else?

      My other question is that this seems very narrowly tailored to events surrounding his indictment, no? He’s waiving the 5th as regards his plea deal, obviously, but he doesn’t have to confess to shop lifting in the 8th grade?

      I’m assuming Mueller is holding all the cards and the agreement reflects that, but basically Mueller is pinky-swearing he might not indict him for something else? Without any sort of immunity, why would Flynn talk about events outside of the two he’s indicted on?

      To my untrained eye this looks like a ratfucking… is it?

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      • A prosecutor can’t bind a Court. A prosecutor can promise to advocate or not advocate certain things to the Court. He can also promise to not bring certain charges. Mueller agrees to advocate a lower sentencing reccomendation and the perjury charge that he brought was also part of the negotiation. He makes a point of noting that there were other charges that could have been brought, but he’ll accept just the perjury charge.

        No, he doesn’t have to confess to unrelated crimes. But the definition of what constitutes a related crime is going to be pretty broad, which cuts against both parties to the deal — it limits what Mueller can later prosecute upon, but it also requires sincere, earnest cooperation from Flynn.

        As for whether it’s a “ratfucking” or not depends on whose ox gets gored by the deal. If it turns out Flynn’s extra information really isn’t good for anything or anyone else, Mueller is screwed. If not, yeah, I think Trump & Co. are going to call it a ratfucking because they’re the rats what gonna get fucked.

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      • I like that Flynn agrees to participate in any “covert law enforcement activities” so bear that in mind if he invites you over for tea.

        The question to ask yourself is when did he agree to this.

        He pled today, but for all we know, he came to an agreement in principle with Mueller six months ago, and has been wearing a wire/making phone calls on a tapped phone/etc for months, deliberately fishing for incriminating statements.

        This is a really, really good deal for Flynn because,there’s lots and lots of things that we already know he’s guilty of that aren’t mentioned. Like not filing as a foreign lobbyist. And IIRC, he’s on the hook for potential military crimes — he’s high enough ranked that he not only was supposed to file FARA, he was supposed to go through military channels as well, retired or not!

        Mueller’s timing is impeccable.He had Kushner up to answer questions just a few days ago, and then casually releases the fact that Flynn clearly made a deal right after. Kushner, who has a real history of “forgetting” meetings with Russians.

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      • so, here’s my Burt Likko question: Am I right in seeing this as a no-deal deal? Flynn get’s nothing except reduced sentencing recommendation (from “6” to “4” and not even a guaranty) and Mueller gives him nothing else?

        I don’t know for sure obv, but my guess is that Flynn’s lawyers have some tricks up their sleeve that we haven’t seen yet. It could be something that effectively immunizes him against prosecution for other charges, something that will help him with the regular DoJ when Mueller’s people are gone, or something that will open up other legal avenues for him. Eg, the FBI agent that interviewed Flynn was just fired for bias. Depending on what was disclosed when, Flynn may have rights that a typical guilty plea doesn’t.

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    • The next time I see a handwringing article somewhere about how the young people have declining faith in democracy, I will laugh and point to this bill and its process.

      The oligarchs phoned up their servants in Congress and ordered them to loot the Treasury.

      What the American people want is irrelevant at this point, compared to the 0.1%.

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      • The oligarchs phoned up their servants in Congress and ordered them to loot the Treasury.

        If we don’t get growth, then expect the GOP to be (rightfully) thrown out of office.

        On the other hand if we do get the promised growth at the “expense” of sacrificing some liberal sacred cows, will that generate 2nd thoughts on how sacred these cows should be?

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        • Their own “dynamic scoring” says they’ll get 0.8% extra growth out of this. That’s with all the pixie dust they could scatter on the model.

          Which makes sense, as they’re focused on cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy. How’s that going to drive the economy? Has any business ever said “Well, we’re staffed up to meet current demand, but my taxes went down 15%, let’s just hire some people to twiddle their thumbs?”.

          This is literally Kansas writ large, with bonus stupidity tacked on. (The bill to give a tax break to a single school — DeVos’ of course, college funds for fetuses while making sure grad students go bankrupt, and lastly passing a bill that’s covered in hasty scrawls.).

          It says a lot about the GOP that every legislative push they’ve made required bills that weren’t released to even their own rank-and-file until a few hours before the vote, and passed in darkness.

          (I think the DeVos college amendment may have died. It was a little hard to keep track)

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          • Their own “dynamic scoring” says they’ll get 0.8% extra growth out of this.

            You say that like it’s a bad thing. Taking the economy from something like 2% to something like 3% is akin to the (reversed) wrath of god.

            An extra point of growth on a $15 Trillion GDP is $150 Billion just popping into existence every year… except it actually much better than that because next year you get more than that. Without more growth we don’t have the money to pay for entitlements without crazy levels of pain.

            If this works then the GOP will soundly deserve re-election. This is a REALLY big deal.

            Has any business ever said “Well, we’re staffed up to meet current demand, but my taxes went down 15%, let’s just hire some people to twiddle their thumbs?”.

            I think it’s more “our taxes went down to 15%, let’s not flee the country and move our headquarters (and lots of taxable dollars of economic activity) to Ireland”.

            To look at what good things we can expect, just look at what bad things are already happening.

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            • If this works then the GOP will soundly deserve re-election. This is a REALLY big deal.

              If the gains are uniformly — more or less — distributed across the wage-and-salary spectrum, then yes. If it all accrues to the hedge fund managers, or foreign owners of US stocks and bonds, not so much.

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              • If the gains are uniformly — more or less — distributed across the wage-and-salary spectrum, then yes. If it all accrues to the hedge fund managers, or foreign owners of US stocks and bonds, not so much.

                1st, if in 10 years Wall Street has managed to capture all the gains, then that’s an extra +10% of the economic pie going there which seems unlikely.

                2nd, reducing the complexity of the business tax code to something humanly understandable really should reduce economic inefficiencies. I find that hard to square with the idea that Wall Street takes everything.

                3rd, if we have to choose between not paying entitlements and tolerating more inequality, then that should be an easy choice.

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        • Supply side economics at this point is in the same dustbin as Marxism, Lysenkoism, or young earth creationism.

          Sure, they still have their fervent adherents, but its not worth arguing with them.

          Because it isn’t an actual belief formed by reason and empirical evidence, its a faith formed by other concerns, maybe cultural or personal. The actual theory is a proxy for intuitive feelings which can’t be articulated any other way.

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            • The highest individual income bracket was taxed at 91% when Reagan took office. Also, iirc, Reagan opened up trade by devaluing US currency which created more export demand. Not sure how economists break down the contributions each policy played in generating economic growth but I’d suspect the lions share is attributable to the latter.

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              • We’ve had multiple Fortune 500 companies openly flee the US and take their taxes+jobs with them. We have… what… are we into the Trillions of dollars parked off shore yet?

                Politicians have openly talked about “disloyalty” to distract from the truth which is the tax code incentivizes this behavior (i.e. it’s a political/economic failure).

                I don’t understand looking at that and then claiming the tax code is just fine as it is and there are no economic distortions worth fixing.

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                • Here’s the really weird thing, :

                  You are sorta right about the tax code.

                  Mostly because it is full of problems and loopholes.

                  In fact, a few years ago, Democrats were urging to the corporate rate down from 35% to 28% while closing loopholes, which would have raised revenue! Republicans were urging the same thing, but to 25%, which would have kept revenue the same.

                  If the Republicans had merely stuck with the 25% number, they would have been able to write an entirely reasonable tax reform that everyone liked. They probably would have gotten some Democrats on board. And, while they were at it, they could have thrown in all sorts of little Republican things that would have gone unnoticed. They could have even gotten away with some income tax cuts. (Or even gone with 26% and put some real personal income tax cuts in there.)

                  But, as they are infected with self-destructive brain parasites (1), they decided to try for 20%, which hasn’t ever been suggested as a corporate income rate, and in fact the 20% number is literally from that giant import/export tax restructuring they were thinking about doing a year ago but couldn’t get off the ground, aka, from an entirely unrelated thing.

                  Because of that moronic foundation, they wrote a moronic bill, having to do all sorts of things to make up the lost revenue. SALT deductions cut, all sorts of deductions cut, then trying to fix that by doubling the standard deduction, one mess on top of another.

                  And due to the aforementioned brain parasites, they also had to greatly reduce the ‘pass through’ rate for no reason at all, resulting in more nonsense to make it balance. Moreover, they did it in a way that blatantly helped monied interests.

                  ‘Oh, so if I own a company and don’t work there, I pay less taxes than if I do work there?’ I’m sure there’s all sorts of justifications where politicians think that makes sense, but actual voters are going to disagree.

                  It’s amazing how much of tax reform bill is a Republican own goal. The Republicans had absolutely no way of making a functioning health care bill that the American people liked and yet still conformed to conservative principles, so were always going to fail there. But they did have a chance of doing that with the tax reform, and they completely screwed up, in almost every possible way.

                  We’ll see if they manage to screw up even further by leaving the revocation of the insurance mandate in the bill and other dumb things, or if they will fail in an even dumber way by failing to get this thing through committee, so everyone is on record as having voted for horrible stuff and they have nothing to show for it.

                  1) I am just guessing, but it seems to be a reasonable guess.

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                  • because it is full of problems and loopholes.

                    Agreed.

                    Democrats were urging to the corporate rate down from 35% to 28% while closing loopholes, which would have raised revenue! Republicans were urging the same thing, but to 25%, which would have kept revenue the same.

                    These proposals were in the context of Obama trying to make a deal with the GOP. The bulk of the GOP was elected to not raise taxes, cosigning 28% would (rightfully) get them thrown out of office. 25% would indeed be the sane level. Obama wasn’t willing to sign off on tax reform unless it also included a tax increase.

                    As for now, I can’t see the “resist” crowd allowing 25% (or even 28%) if Trump gets credit for signing it. If we’re going to have a Trump tax reform then the GOP needs to make a deal with their loony right, which means 20%. There’s talk of “automatic” taxes if growth doesn’t appear so maybe it won’t be 20% in reality.

                    However, even if tax reform requires one party to have control over the Prez and both seats of Congress, then Obama had the chance to do tax reform (presumably at 28%), and position the Dems as the party of growth. I can even think of other progressive-friendly pro-growth reforms that were left on the table during his rule (directing the stimulus to infrastructure for example).

                    Growth really is the best measure of “goodness” to the nation, imperfect tax reform will be way better than no tax reform.

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                    • Obama wasn’t willing to sign off on tax reform unless it also included a tax increase.

                      You can hypothetically say that he would have fought it if it had gotten to him, but the reason tax reform did not move forward is that Congress fell into Republican hands and they made it clear they would not do _anything_.

                      Obama proposed 28%, Romney proposed 25%, a few other Republicans said 25%, and then the Republican Congress literally did nothing at all.

                      However, even if tax reform requires one party to have control over the Prez and both seats of Congress, then Obama had the chance to do tax reform (presumably at 28%), and position the Dems as the party of growth.

                      When? The Democrats barely got the ACA through before they lost their fillibuster-proof majority, in fact, they technically didn’t. (They had to pass the last technical correction under reconciliation.) Thanks to the Franken recount and the illness and death of Kennedy and loss of that seat, they had 60 votes for slightly over four months total.

                      And by the time they got to the next budget, it was Republicans in control of the House.

                      As for now, I can’t see the “resist” crowd allowing 25% (or even 28%) if Trump gets credit for signing it.

                      Yes. Which is, like I said, the Republicans are being astonishingly dumb here. They could have done tax reform at 25%, signed it into law, and had a bunch of bunch of people defending it, and even a bunch of the left going ‘Eh, it’s not completely unreasonable.’, and others screaming bloody murder.

                      It was the perfect chance to cause a split in the left, to cause a divide between the ‘oppose everything Trump does’ people and the ‘oppose the stupid things Trump does’ people.

                      But, nope. Blatantly stupid GOP proposal time!

                      If we’re going to have a Trump tax reform then the GOP needs to make a deal with their loony right, which means 20%. There’s talk of “automatic” taxes if growth doesn’t appear so maybe it won’t be 20% in reality.

                      I read somewhere, although I can’t be bothered to find it, that Trump has now indicated he’s willing to sign at a rate of 22%.

                      Which is hilariously stupid planning. All the Republicans got on record voting for what they voted for, automatically creating Democratic campaign ads, and then, oh, it turns out they didn’t need to do some of the most stupid things anyway. I mean, it’s still too low a rate, but some of the most horrible cuts could have been left out.

                      I can even think of other progressive-friendly pro-growth reforms that were left on the table during his rule (directing the stimulus to infrastructure for example).

                      I do not understand why you think the stimulus was not directed to infrastructure. Pretty much all the spending in that (As opposed to the tax cuts that the Dems had to jam in to get it passed.) was infrastructure or education.

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                      • When? The Democrats barely got the ACA through …they had 60 votes for slightly over four months total.

                        The GOP doesn’t have 60 votes right now. The Dems had 2 years to do this before they lost the House.

                        It was the perfect chance to cause a split in the left, to cause a divide between the ‘oppose everything Trump does’ people and the ‘oppose the stupid things Trump does’ people.

                        With Trump in charge “splitting” the Left is a moot point. He’s a “burn things down” kind of guy and there’s a lot of pressure to “resist”.

                        Trump has now indicated he’s willing to sign at a rate of 22%.

                        Trump is willing to sign whatever they put on his desk.

                        I do not understand why you think the stimulus was not directed to infrastructure.

                        Infrastructure investment: Total: $105.3 billion (wiki)
                        However that includes things like
                        “High Speed Rail” (aka Boondoggle): $8B
                        Various IT projects, improvements to gov buildings…

                        I read a report once that claimed useful infrastructure was only 1% of the stim, reading the wiki I’d peg it closer to 10%. It’s possible some of those “useful” lines are pretty boondoggle-ish but whatever, at best it was 10% of the stim.

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                        • The GOP doesn’t have 60 votes right now. The Dems had 2 years to do this before they lost the House.

                          I don’t know if you’ve forgotten about the ACA, or have decided that doing two giant economy-changing bills at once is possible, but, no, they did not have two years. Congress finished working on the ACA, at earliest, late December 2009. (It didn’t actually get completely passed until March 2010, but Congress wasn’t really doing things after December.) That means they had pretty much exactly one year until the House changed hand…except, as it was an election year, it was more like six months and then everyone spends all their time campaigning for four, and then two months being lame ducks.

                          But, anyway, Congress actually _did_ spend alot of time in 2010 discussing tax reform. There even was a major bipartisan plan introduced called ‘The Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2010’.

                          This bill attempted to set the corporate tax at 25% by, of course, removing most deductions. Heh.

                          And because the Democrat Congresses actually talk about bills and have them go through committees and get discussed instead of scribbling them on the back of cocktail napkins and voting on them before anyone notices, they basically ran out of time to do anything.

                          The bill was then re-introduced in the Republican House (Same name with 2010 changed to 2011.), and…went nowhere, thanks to mostly to, of all people, tax prep companies and Grover Norquist.

                          Not because it actually raised taxes, mind you. It didn’t. It was pretty clear he as upset for the same reason tax prep companies were…because the bill would have the IRS do the taxes for everyone and just tell you what you owe, and only a few people would have to counter-file to change that. (Why does Grover Norquist want taxes to be complicated? So people hate them. If he could figure out a way to make people file taxes while laying on a bed of nails, he would.)

                          Also, somewhere around that time, Republicans figured out it was more fun to pretend to repeal Obamacare than actually pass bills.

                          Trump is willing to sign whatever they put on his desk.

                          Or forget to sign it and just walk out of the room. *rimshot*

                          More seriously, Trump is willing to sign whatever they put in front of him if, and only if, he feels like it that day. But he got 20% in his head for some reason, and they clearly were worried he might balk if they ignored him. Now someone has convinced him that 22% is fine, and he probably thinks it’s his own idea.

                          It’s possible some of those “useful” lines are pretty boondoggle-ish but whatever, at best it was 10% of the stim.

                          Well, yes, but that’s because they really _did_ need 60 votes for that, and the Republicans made like third of it tax cuts and incentives.

                          Another large amount of it was necessary spending to keep states from going bankrupt or cutting back services ($87 billion to Medicaid, $54 billion to schools) or just the fact the Federal social programs were utterly out of money due to record demand ($40 billion to unemployment, $20 billion to food stamps, $25 billion to subsidize CORBA insurance)

                          Once you remove the tax cuts the Republicans forced in there, and the emergency ‘holy crap both federal and state services are having record demands by the suddenly-poor, and also record tax revenue decreases, and we have to fill in the shortfalls or this entire thing is going to fall apart’ part, infrastructure is literally most of the stimulus. There’s a bit of additional education spending, and a bit of additional research spending, and some random things that total nothing, but’s mostly infrastructure.

                          There was actually a lot of criticism from the left at the time that just handing poor people money, which they would then spend, would do a lot more to increase economic activity than having infrastructure projects that could take a year to get off the ground.

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                          • The two big possibilities I see are…

                            1) Growth policies weren’t a priority. Although it’s great to talk about your 3rd or 5th or 8th priority as though it’s going to happen, in reality it isn’t and didn’t.

                            or 2) The ACA and the Stim were thought to be growth policies (they were certainly sold as such at the time). If you believe making new entitlements is going to stimulate the economy, then odds are good your next “growth” policy will be similar.

                            In any case the Dem super majority (and the Dem majority) wasn’t used for growth. Whether that was because it wasn’t a high enough priority or because they just don’t understand how to do growth doesn’t matter.

                            and he probably thinks it’s his own idea.

                            Now that’s a useful skill.

                            Once you remove… infrastructure is literally most of the stimulus.

                            If you need to remove 90% of the total, then “most” of the remaining is a tiny amount of the original’s total. Let’s repeat, the Stim wasn’t an infrastructure bill.

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                            • Dark,

                              Can you provide, roughly if you need to, what growth numbers in, say jobs, stock market and/or GDP you’d need to see to confirm your belief that Trump is good for the economy. Or which numbers, if we fail to reach them, will convince you you were mistaken? Say by Nov ’18 or ’19?

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                              • GDP is where it’s at.

                                Off hand, +0.5% over Obama would be ‘success’, and +1% over Obama would be ‘outstanding success’, and +3% is into walking on water territory.

                                +1% would take us from roughly 2% to roughly 3%, so a 50% increase… except that 2% includes a 0.7% to 1.0% increase just from population growth. Subtract that (which we arguably should if we want to measure the change in the average “goodness” of people in the US) and Obama’s record looks a lot worse and increasing it would look a lot better.

                                Times are short, these are big icebergs with lots of noise in the data, if Nov of ’19 is as long as you’re willing to go then we’ll use that. Ideally (if that’s the word) we’d have 8 years of Trump and then after the fact slap down graphs.

                                My impressions thus far…
                                (good) Trump thus far has (amazingly consider how he ran on a cult of personality) regulation/administration reform, and tax reform.

                                (bad) Anti-free trade. Anti-immigration.

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                                • Thanks, Dark. Got called out of town almost immediately after asking the question, but did want to express my appreciation for your response.

                                  Trying to parse your answer; fair for me to read that an average annual GDP growth of 3.5% during Trumps term is the pass/fail line?

                                  Given all you’ve said about what you’ll excuse in the name of economic efficiency, is it safe to assume that Bill Clinton is your favorite president since Johnson?

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                                  • …that an average annual GDP growth of 3.5% during Trumps term is the pass/fail line?

                                    Obama set the bar really low here, his average growth per year was 1.5%, if we want to exclude the recession and only count his “recovery” years, then his average was 2.1%

                                    Plus 0.5% (which is actually more like a 50% increase for reasons I outlined) would be 2.6%, which I’ll call a “pass”, but just barely. 3.6% would be outstanding success.

                                    …Bill Clinton…

                                    Bill Clinton gave us Welfare reform (notice the lack of people dying in the streets) and NAFTA (sharing credit with the previous Bush but Bill signed and pushed it through), and also “pursued numerous trade agreements, most notably with China” (wiki).

                                    Economically I’m great with Bill Clinton. “A+” in effort, performance, and effect. His “third way” showed a focus on growth. He had to fight his party but (to his great credit) he made the case, and the country was better off for it. I fully agree with Bill’s statement that his numerous trade agreements were the equiv of a massive tax cut.

                                    Wiki claims that he’s ranked “average to above average” in terms of history, but that’s his outstanding economic performance being averaged with his impeachment and other scandals.

                                    The one quibble I have is how much of 911 (serious economic effects there both in itself and the wars afterwards) was his doing? There’s an argument his scandals stopped him from doing anything about Bin Laden and AQ. But that’s just a quibble.

                                    Most Presidents are mix-bags (Trump certainly is), but Bill appears to have been on the side of economic sanity and growth at every turn. I’m not sure I’d put him above Reagan (who had different challenges) but whatever.

                                    On a side note, it’s hard to picture Bill doing this in today’s Democratic party. They’ve gotten a lot more focused on inequality and Bernie Sanders style solutions.

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                                    • Note this was while he was in office. These ethical issues I’m going over with happened after he left office and she entered.

                                      Arguably they also happened before but whatever.

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          • I think the lie that this tax bill is about “economic growth” and that “the tax cuts will pay for themselves” will be exposed when (as is almost a certainty from what I gather) the Fed increases interest rates to slow down *current* economic growth. The question I keep hearing from financial/market analysts is “why cut taxes during a growth cycle?”. As if they don’t already know the answer.

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            • The word “lie” is important.
              I don’t see any good faith in this bill, or even this Congress.

              Nothing they have done is a good faith attempt to make things better for all Americans, and they barely seem to hide it anymore.

              I can be tolerant and respectful of earnest if misguided beliefs, but not this. This deserves indignation and condemnation, not in its effect, but its intent.

              This gets back to the discussions here about compromise and reaching across the aisle.
              This bill was written with the assumption that anyone who wasn’t a member of the 0.1% is a lesser being, unworthy of equal treatment.

              There is no place to compromise here. If they can’t view me as a full citizen equal to their donors then I have nothing to say.

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              • The weird thing about all this, Chip, is that the McConnell-led GOP expended a ton of energy developing a narrative – that tax cuts will pay for themselves, that this is a middle class tax cut, etc – that effectively no one believes. Only something like 15% of the population supports this bill, even with all the effort to make bullshit smell like roses. No one bought it. McConnell and the others didn’t care. They might as well have just been honest about what they were doing: rewarding their donors, throwing some targeted bones to Christians and home-schoolers, punishing the liberal academic elites, etc. And offering nothing for the middle class (as even Rubio said yesterday on the floor).

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                • I guess the point I’m making is that they weren’t lying to their base or electorate, they were lying to, and for, themselves. No one believes these ratfuckers anymore, so why persist with the pretense that anyone does?

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                  • The more interesting question is why the Trumpists will still support them, even knowing full well they are being lied to.

                    The Flight 93 essay posited that the Trumpists are defending Western Civilization from barbarians at the gate.

                    Those barbarians are you and me.

                    The Tea Party signs were filled with slogans like “We Came Armed- This Time” and “Soapbox-Ballot Box- Ammo Box“; and the Bundys were heroes to the Trumpists. Even now they threaten civil war if Trump is impeached.

                    They speak the language of war, not carelessly or ignorantly, but out of a sincere belief that we, you and I, and all liberals are the enemy to be defeated and conquered.
                    Not compromised with, not negotiated with, not accommodated under any circumstances.

                    They have decided that any pain they suffer such as unemployment or tax hikes or any indignities such as Russia meddling in our election, are worth it, sort of the war-sacrifice of defending their cultural position.

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                    • Problem is … what you’re calling “Trumpists” are a tiny fraction of the electorate. They were half the GOP primary voters, which is at best 1/6th of the electorate. Hell, even the SoCons weren’t on board with Trump in the primary.

                      The only way 1/6th of the electorate can control our political institutions is if competing coalitions are so fractured by negative partisanship and infighting they can’t muster a legitimate threat at the polls. So that’s the problem we face, seems to me. Eg., never-Trump conservatives, centrist Dem liberals and Sanders-style lefties constitute a vast majority of the electorate, but they all seem to hate each other. :)

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                    • They speak the language of war, not carelessly or ignorantly, but out of a sincere belief that we, you and I, and all liberals are the enemy to be defeated and conquered.
                      Not compromised with, not negotiated with, not accommodated under any circumstances.

                      Yeah Chip, why is that? Well, it’s same thing I was writing to pill about a moment ago.

                      You are, in your own formulation, in “resistance” against our means to resolve the exercise of political power in Our Republic as it has been in continuous operation since 1787. This is what is undermining our solidarity, as Americans, for Americans and America. This is resource that we need right now, and don’t have.

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      • If someone is 35 years old–so one of the older millennials–they’ve seen a horrible Republican President elected after losing the popular vote in half the elections they’ve participated in.

        People talk about things like these EV/PV splits and the huge advantages districting [1] give the GOP as if the fact that they follow the letter of the law means they’re indisputably legitimate, neglecting how much of a role unwritten norms play in making the US’s version 0.9a patch level 27 democracy function. If the Dems get 53% of the vote and 217 House seats in 2018, or Trump is re-elected with another EV/PV split, or, worse, both, I think there are going to be some very ugly consequences. And both those scenarios are unnervingly plausible.

        [1] And, with every passing year, voter suppression.

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        • We’ve moved from a politics framed by policy preferences to a politics framed by deeply personal issues.

          We don’t really argue over how to best bring about widespread prosperity and happiness. No one in the GOP even pretends to offer that as a justification anymore.
          Trump, Moore, the Tea Party, the Flight 93 essay…

          The entire conservative project now is about their loathing and disdain for their fellow Americans; Gays, transfolk, educated women, Muslims, urban minorities- The entire platform is predicated on what pisses those people off.

          Democracy assumes a good faith effort to improve the lot of the citizens. When a good portion of the citizenry despises the other part, the machinery breaks down.

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          • We don’t really argue over how to best bring about widespread prosperity and happiness. No one in the GOP even pretends to offer that as a justification anymore.
            Trump, Moore, the Tea Party, the Flight 93 essay…

            Au contraire. This is actually a very important point. We are going through some difficult times now, economically and culturally. We need to utilize, strengthen, grow our reserves of solidarity, trust, common purpose. That is the resource we are lacking. That is the resource the cultural and political energies of the Left are sapping away from us. That is the hope Right politics creates for America.

            And frankly, for all the bullshit drama and cacophony that Trump brings, he doesn’t change any of that.

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            • And frankly, for all the bullshit drama and cacophony that Trump brings, he doesn’t change any of that.

              Trump is “Right politics”. He was overwhelmingly supported by the conservative movement and still is, and handwaving away his “bullshit drama and cacophony”, especially when so much of that is in service his own grotesque racism and corruption, as strengthening “solidarity, trust, and common purpose” absolutely beggars belief.

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              • I’m not at all handwaving that away, in fact that’s a key premise.

                What we have at the moment is primarily a crisis of legitimacy, and libs have created a world where Trump is most legitimate major player in American politics. That’s basically the only reason why he’s here.

                Libs need to live in a world where their political aspirations exist inside a bigger picture of American culture instead of some kind of meta-guiding force hovering over it. Until that changes, libs as currently constituted cannot be legitimate participants in a pluralistic polity.

                I voted for Trump. But if you’re still lib in 2017, you are Trump.

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                • Until that changes, libs as currently constituted cannot be legitimate participants in a pluralistic polity.

                  I thought you were someone who I could discuss things with in a useful fashion.

                  I regret the error.

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                  • I thought you were someone who I could discuss things with in a useful fashion.

                    Why the hell not?

                    We have rules and traditions to explicate and constrain how political power in America is supposed to be exercised. Those rules apply to libs. Unfortunately, whenever libs catch a bad break from the voters or anyone else, that’s when the rationalizations or evasions start.

                    “Trump didn’t release his tax returns.”
                    “Trump’s hotel bills to foreign diplomats are emoluments.”
                    “Trump only won because Putin rigged our election.”

                    etc, etc.

                    Why can’t you just do the right thing for once, end the “resistance”, and try to earn back some of the credibility that you lost?

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                    • “Obama isn’t legitimately President because he was actually born in Kenya, and we have a completely deranged conspiracy theory to back it up.”

                      That was conservatives after Obama won. And I say “conservatives” because the most notorious advocate of this little bit of bizarre racist insanity is the guy conservatives nominated for the Presidency and currently sits in the Oval Office.

                      Oh, and when he got there without a popular vote majority, the message was that there was another crazy conspiracy that manufactured millions of illegal votes for his opponent. In, I dunno, California or some shit. Because that makes sense.

                      But yes, you clearly want to have a conversation with me. That’s exactly the sort of thing one is pursuing when one accuses one’s interlocutor of not being a legitimate participant in a pluralistic polity.

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                      • So what about it? If you try to formulate a complete argument along these lines, it’s apparent that you can’t substantiate the conclusions that you want.

                        There is simply no analog between birtherism and resistance the way you imply. Resistance is and has been central to the Left’s actions and self-understanding for the entire Trump Administration in a way that never applied to birtherism.

                        Trump didn’t need to win the popular vote to be President.

                        You know these things already, why are you trying to fight this battle over and over again?

                        Why can’t you just do the right thing instead? Accept that Trump is the entirely legitimate President of the United States and we as Americans should have solidarity behind the hope that he does well at it.

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                        • I think what Pillsy is trying to say, the argument you don’t think he can make, is that one of the American norm-based institutions worth defending is the idea that delusional conspiracy theorists shouldn’t become President of the US, and that the further destruction of that norm, one among many under assault, is worth resisting.

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                          • Ok, great. Where is the leverage to make that argument? There isn’t any. Or at least, there isn’t any in our current circumstances.

                            The Constitution and our traditions tell us who gets to be President, ie the guy who gets elected, with all the caveats and conditions associated with that. The idea that Trump is operationally disqualified as a delusional conspiracy theorist, that is not a norm that can be directly applied by libs. That has to be something that libs convince the electorate of.

                            And guess what, the voters aren’t having it. In fact, it’s not too reductionist to say that the Presidential campaign boiled down to the repudiation of that strategy.

                            Why aren’t voters listening to the libs, as they are making arguments which have at least some plausibility? Because it has been the essence of libs politics since at least the beginning of the Obama Administration that, when push comes to shove, they are not really accountable to the American people. And the voters are an obstacle to be maneuvered around instead of an actual constraint to be respected.

                            The voters aren’t having that. They are insisting on exercising the prerogatives of self-determination, in spite of the disapproval of the Establishment. Or perhaps more accurately, because of it.

                            That’s why Trump was here. If the libs had played this hand different, heck if they start playing it different now, Trump would be gone, or at the very least the dynamics of his Administration would be much different.

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                        • There is simply no analog between birtherism and resistance the way you imply.

                          Dude, the fucking President we’re supposed to unite behind is a birther. He’s a really famous birther. He became relevant in politics because he was a birther. The last GOP nominee needed to get his endorsement… because he was a birther.

                          Trump didn’t need to win the popular vote to be President.

                          You’re right. He didn’t. And yet he dreamed up a bunch of preposterous lies to excuse his popular vote loss, instead of, I dunno, maybe not doing that.

                          And that’s the problem with your argument. Every flaw you ascribe to liberals in general is embodied, in the most ridiculously over-the-top form, not just by “conservatives” in the abstract, but specifically the guy conservatives chose to be the leader of their movement and the country, and the guy an overwhelming majority of them still support.

                          A guy you called the “most legitimate player in American politics”, despite the way he does everything you say delegitimizes liberals.

                          Maybe you ought to come up with a single standard by which to judge legitimate participation in the American political process, instead of setting a high bar for liberals and a completely different (not to mention subterranean) bar for conservatives.

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                          • A guy you called the “most legitimate player in American politics”, despite the way he does everything you say delegitimizes liberals.

                            Right. Why did that happen? Because Trump, for all his crap represents the possibility for legitimate self-determination in American politics, and libs represent the rejection of that.

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                            • Libs appear to represent the rejection of that to about half the voters. Cons (? I guess that would be the equal term) appear to represent the rejection of that to the other approximately half of the voters. (I know a lot of grass-roots Democratic voters and they absolutely see Trump, for all his over-the-topness, as just the usual GOP crap magnified X100, and think Dems are the only party that even pretends to give a crap about their self-determination, whereas the GOP, in their view, actively wants to prevent them from having self-determination.)

                              So how does blaming one side or the other for alienating the voters and making them feel like they don’t have the option of legitimate self-determination move anything forward?

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                            • Why did that happen?

                              I still have no idea.

                              You have yet to come within a parsec of explaining why all the things that make liberals “illegitimate” do nothing to make Trump “illegitimate”. Maybe you think stuff like this…

                              Because Trump, for all his crap represents the possibility for legitimate self-determination in American politics, and libs represent the rejection of that.

                              …is self-evident, but nothing could be further from the truth.

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                              • You have yet to come within a parsec of explaining why all the things that make liberals “illegitimate” do nothing to make Trump “illegitimate”. Maybe you think stuff like this…

                                This may provide some useful context (or may not):

                                http://www.nationalreview.com/article/453599/bipartisan-elite-stuck-90s

                                Trump represents the possibility of the possibility of the grass roots asserting meaningful authority over people such as the ones MBD describes.

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                                • Trump represents the possibility of the possibility of the grass roots asserting meaningful authority over people such as the ones MBD describes.

                                  Yes, if by “grass roots”, you mean Republican grass roots.

                                  Which is, I suppose, consistent with the assertion that liberals aren’t legitimate participants in American politics, and internal consistency is a step up from your previous posts, so that’s nice.

                                  Still, it certainly doesn’t elaborate on, let alone justify, that assertion.

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                                  • Yes, if by “grass roots”, you mean Republican grass roots.

                                    No. The Establishment being repudiated in MBD’s piece is bipartisan, just the libs. And, the key crossing of the Rubicon against American self-determination was the passing of ACA, wherein a lot of weakly aligned lib/Demo/Obama voters flipped to the GOP.

                                    Which is, I suppose, consistent with the assertion that liberals aren’t legitimate participants in American politics, and internal consistency is a step up from your previous posts, so that’s nice.

                                    Still, it certainly doesn’t elaborate on, let alone justify, that assertion.

                                    You’re making this much more difficult than it is. Libs’ aspirations, crystallized in terms of the workings of government, are situated within our political culture. We have, in our Constitution and our traditions, well-defined mechanisms to implement our governance. Therefore libs’ aspirations are accountable to that.

                                    Instead, too often libs’ imagine their aspirations as some kind of meta/guiding force hovering over the political/electoral process, preventing things from deviating too far from their wishes. To do that, they have co-opted or corrupted various parts of government and created other quasi-governmental organizations that they can control.

                                    Therefore, apolitical Americans cannot trust the words of the lib Establishment. Therefore they cannot have any meaningful heart-to-heart interactions with them. (For example, the whole drama that ended in the sequester bill was a case in point. The libs basically did not want to have the budget process to be meaningfully accountable to Congress, in contravention of basic Constitutional design. This escalated the drama and the risk well beyond a point where it needed to be, because the Demo’s were so strong invested against the GOP’s legitimacy).

                                    Anyway, that’s a side point. The key consequence that motivated me to comment in the thread in the first place is this: we need solidarity and common purpose among Americans. We can’t have that while libs evade the electoral process and grass-roots culture where conservatives have a chance to win.

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                                    • The Establishment being repudiated in MBD’s piece is bipartisan, just the libs.

                                      Huh?

                                      And, the key crossing of the Rubicon against American self-determination was the passing of ACA, wherein a lot of weakly aligned lib/Demo/Obama voters flipped to the GOP.

                                      We have, in our Constitution and our traditions, well-defined mechanisms to implement our governance.

                                      You realize these two statements completely contradict one another, right?

                                      Because the ACA was just legislation, passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by the President. The policies implemented were close to the policies that Obama ran on in 2008, when he won the Presidency, and when the Dems won large majorities in the Senate and the House.

                                      It faced some challenges in court, and those challenges were ruled upon by courts, and in some cases finally resolved by the Supreme Court.

                                      Despite the fact that the ACA was not terribly popular after being passed, Obama was re-elected quite comfortably in 2012.

                                      That’s exactly what the traditions you describe dictate.

                                      Instead, too often libs’ imagine their aspirations as some kind of meta/guiding force hovering over the political/electoral process, preventing things from deviating too far from their wishes.

                                      Have you ever, like, met a conservative?

                                      Therefore, apolitical Americans cannot trust the words of the lib Establishment.

                                      You’re doing that thing again where you try to explain why Trump is uniquely legitimate, in contrast to the “lib Establishment”, and doing so by describing the “lib Establishment” in terms that fit Trump to a tee.

                                      (For example, the whole drama that ended in the sequester bill was a case in point. The libs basically did not want to have the budget process to be meaningfully accountable to Congress, in contravention of basic Constitutional design.

                                      I hardly even know where to begin with this. The sequester was defined in legislation passed by Congress, when, I might add, one chamber was still controlled by Democrats. Congress is, I would say, meaningfully accountable to Congress.

                                      I’d say that it was good that you brought up some examples to support your point, except they don’t support your point, they refute it. You talk about how “libs” reject the mechanisms that implement our governance, and then go on to talk about how “libs” used those very mechanisms to implement their preferred policies.

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                                      • , you’re missing all the clues that he’s about to jump ship on his current line of argument:

                                        ‘You’re making this much more difficult than it is.’

                                        ‘Anyway, that’s a side point.’

                                        ‘Therefore, apolitical Americans cannot trust the words of the lib Establishment. Therefore they cannot have any meaningful heart-to-heart interactions with them.’

                                        As his examples are total crap, he’s moved on to asserting the actual facts don’t matter, and what is important is how people _feel_ about ‘the libs’, how everyone hates them and they are destroying their chances of ever having a majority with how their behavior is being perceived.

                                        Koz masterfully switches between three separate arguments, so quickly that it’s easy not to notice that all of them are wrong:

                                        1) The left public is behaving in a disastrous and unprecedented way for America with ‘The Resistance’. Insert obvious rebuttal about ‘Tea Parties’ and ‘Second amendment remedies’ , and less obvious rebuttal of polls of Democrats showing they are more willing to say Trump, and even Bush, is legitimately President, than Republicans were willing to say Obama is.

                                        2) The Democrats in Congress are behaving in a disastrous and unprecedented way for America by refusing to go along with the right. (This line has been downplayed a bit recently with the obvious fact that the Democrats literally are not being allowed to do anything in Congress, but used to be big during confirmation hearings.) Insert obvious rebuttal of refusing to allow votes on Supreme Court Justice.

                                        3) Regardless of the actual truth of the matter, the _perception_ of the first two is destroying the Democrats chances of ever getting elected. Insert obvious rebuttal of this being incredibly stupid and wrong in every possible way, and Democrats have had a mysterious boost of somewhere between 10-20 points ever since Trump’s election.

                                        Every single one of those premises is nonsense, and very obvious nonsense that can be trivially proven with basic facts, but Koz will rotate between them so quickly that he can easily dismiss any argument against one of them by just moving to another. He’s talking about elected officials, no, wait, he’s talking about the non-existent California secession movement, no, wait, he’s talking about how that all _looks_ even if the facts are entirely made up, no, wait, he’s talking about it’s not acceptable to refuse to confirm Trump’s stupid choices for the Cabinet, no, wait, now he’s attacking Jeff Bezos and the liberal elite….

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                                        • Ugh, I regret this post now, it’s very repetitive of my previous one. My posts keep being much longer than they need to be.

                                          So here’s my actual advice WRT Koz: When the topic appears to change because you disproved his point, stay on the old one, and ask him, point blank, if he is conceding he is wrong. And refuse to move forward from that to new arguments.

                                          If you do not do that, in about five posts you will be right back on that old topic.

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                                        • Me:

                                          When I’ve gone over this with David before, he has gotten himself frustrated and pissed off in situations where he shouldn’t, because ends up focusing on distractions.

                                          David:

                                          very obvious nonsense that can be trivially proven with basic facts, but Koz will rotate between them so quickly that he can easily dismiss any argument against one of them by just moving to another.

                                          Yeah, like here.

                                          The idea of a fiduciary relationship is between people or organizations is kind of a complicated thing, but not really. A lot of people have some kind of a relationship with a stockbroker and internalize that he’s supposed to be acting in your best interest, not his.

                                          And I’m sure I’ve used that word over and over again when I’ve commented about this at the League, including in conversations with David.

                                          (redacted – this stuff is uncivil and unnecessary – as previous mentioned – maribou)

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                                      • Huh?

                                        Let me see if I can put this in a way where we’re talking apples to apples with each other. Again, this is not supposed to be difficult.

                                        In our political culture, there’s a political insider class and the relatively apolitical grass roots. That’s a simplification of course, but it’s good enough for our purpose.

                                        There’s also a fairly clear idea of what the relationship between those two classes is supposed to be. The political class has more immediate opportunities to act and has more specialized knowledge. The grass roots sovereign authority. The political class has no power except what is granted from the grass roots. Its powers are derivative.

                                        This relationship doesn’t work this way every time of course, but this is the ideal. This is the way it’s supposed to be, and therefore has important consequences. Specifically, the political class is supposed to honor fiduciary or fiduciary-like obligations toward the intent to the grass roots.

                                        Donald Trump is the most legitimate major player in politics, because above everybody else in recent politics, that actually is his relationship to the grass roots. Both in terms of how he got in office and his capacity to maneuver now the he’s there, Donald Trump doesn’t have any power base other than the support of the voters who voted for him.

                                        When I’ve gone over this with David before, he has gotten himself frustrated and pissed off in situations where he shouldn’t, because ends up focusing on distractions. One time I’m talking about how a bill gets through a committee in Congress, another time I’m talking about something that happened in a campaign, and didn’t you notice it’s kind of ridiculous to talk about the popularity of Donald Trump when his approval rating is at 40% and has been there forever.

                                        Those things shouldn’t be confusing if you keep in mind the quasi-fiduciary obligation from the political class to the grass roots. The nature of that obligation informs a lot of things, eg what things are supposed to happen in a campaign vs. in a debate in Congress vs in deliberations inside the executive branch. And in a pluralistic electoral process, there’s always going to be a significant number of voters who voted for the other candidate or the other party. What is relevant instead is that there’s no other power base whose presence or influence is at least somewhat hidden, like trial lawyers or Wall Street donors or the like.

                                        The upshot of this is trust. For all his buffoonery, Donald Trump is trusted but friend and adversary alike. It’s very often stupid and people don’t necessarily like it, perhaps for good reasons even. But people are going to take him at his word on a prima facie basis more than they would for other politicians. That’s what has to be regained especially by the Left where people know that they are going to be beholden to their activist groups.

                                        Like, for example Stillwater asked in a different comment why we can’t have a norm that says that buffoonish blowhards aren’t suitable candidates to be President. Well, we might except that the voters don’t trust you enough to listen to you pitch that. Whatever you say is simply taken as an attempt to backdoor your own policies or your own candidates that wouldn’t otherwise be able to stand up on their own on Election Day.

                                        Therefore for the political class, and especially the political class on the Left, let’s quit trying to get your own way so much and start honoring the fiduciary trust the grass roots places in you, to the extent that they do. That way, we can start to rebuild the trust among us as Americans that we need to move forward together, even in circumstances where we are political adversaries.

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                                        • ” he has gotten himself frustrated and pissed off in situations where he shouldn’t”

                                          This is dubious. Y’all are doing a good job of not talking about how each other supposedly feels, so leave statements like this out of it. (And don’t respond to me with insults about my supposedly poor moderating, either.)

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                                        • For a different take on why the Left might have a particular need to establish trust/safety relationships with opponents, while the Right doesn’t have the same need, you might want to check out

                                          https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2017/11/22/at-yale-we-conducted-an-experiment-to-turn-conservatives-into-liberals-the-results-say-a-lot-about-our-political-divisions/?utm_term=.a929f354031a

                                          (vexingly, the studies are behind paywalls)

                                          If you filter out the biases, and combine with previous studies, he’s basically saying they’ve established that the best way to get people to go left is to make them feel more safe, and to go right is to make them feel more scared.

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                                        • Donald Trump is the most legitimate major player in politics, because above everybody else in recent politics, that actually is his relationship to the grass roots. Both in terms of how he got in office and his capacity to maneuver now the he’s there, Donald Trump doesn’t have any power base other than the support of the voters who voted for him.

                                          OK, so you do admit that the grass roots you’re talking about are the rank-and-file voters who supported Trump, an overwhelmingly Republican and conservative group, correct? And an actual minority of voters any way you slice it?

                                          And, in fact, that they do not make up the entirety of the grass roots, either? There are liberal and left folks who are what you describe as the grass roots, too, and they not only loathe Trump, they do not trust him even a little bit. They consider him to be an erratic, lying, asshole bigot who’s unfit for the office he holds.

                                          If you’re wondering where the “resistance” comes from, a lot of it comes from those people. You argue that the political class ultimately derives its power from the grass roots, and if that’s the model, well, look how things have been going with the Democrats in Congress, as they’ve been pushed into an ever more confrontational role with the White House. Any instinct towards being conciliatory is absolutely revolting to their voters, their small-dollar donors, and their loosely affiliated leaners.

                                          That last is one of the consequences of people basically hating the crap out of Trump if they aren’t actual Republicans.

                                          This is why it’s relevant that every behavior you argue erodes trust in the “lib Establishment” is one that Trump engages in with malignant flamboyance. Sure, maybe his own grass roots gives him a pass on that shit [1], but the ones who voted for the other gal don’t, and they don’t trust him one bit as a result. That means that any sort of accommodation that the LE makes with Trump is all the more likely to be viewed as a betrayal.

                                          So even if we grant every single one of your premises about the proper relationship between the grass roots and the political class, and the political class betraying that trust, and the “lib Establishment” in particular needing to rebuild that trust, then the right course of action for the “LE” is to defy Trump.

                                          [1] Though the fact that they do is still a serious flaw in your argument.

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                                          • OK, so you do admit that the grass roots you’re talking about are the rank-and-file voters who supported Trump, an overwhelmingly Republican and conservative group, correct?

                                            This is an important question. And I’m pretty sure, that in the context where you asked it, the answer is going to be yes.

                                            All citizens get a vote, of course. But Trump has a particular fiduciary responsibility to his diehards, the people who voted for him with some measure of reluctance, and it’s useful to mention, the voters who didn’t vote for him but who plausibly could have based on this or that.

                                            In terms of legitimacy or plain politics for that matter, you’d like to have as broad a base of support as possible. But, you can’t have a strong fiduciary responsibility (in the sense of carrying out their intentions) to all the voters. Among other things, the intentions of one cohort of voters will be the plain contradiction of another, so no one could do both.

                                            That said, it is often a self-delusion of the political class, particularly on the Left, that what the people want is helplessly deluded, contradictory and incoherent, so I should just do what I want.

                                            And basically, at this point my prior stipulation that the grass roots is largely homogenous and a political falls apart. So to go further, we should probably split that apart.

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                                          • So even if we grant every single one of your premises about the proper relationship between the grass roots and the political class, and the political class betraying that trust, and the “lib Establishment” in particular needing to rebuild that trust, then the right course of action for the “LE” is to defy Trump.

                                            So to discuss this further, I think we have to modify the framework I suggested a few comments ago. Ie, I don’t think we can pretend that the grass roots are homogenous and apolitical any more. So like Caesar describing ancient Gaul, let’s say that the grassroots are divided into three parts: the politically-motivated Left base, the politically motivated Right base, and the largely apolitical remainder. Again, this is also a simplification but for now I think it suffices.

                                            Specifically, in this context we are concerned with the Left base. They are in a complicated situation. On the one hand, they participate in the sovereignty of the citizens. On the other, like any citizen they also owe a obligation of loyalty to our nation as a whole and its mechanisms of governance. They are not the only ones that could exist, but they are ours.

                                            The upshot is that lib base, properly understood, is in a situation analogous to a loyal opposition in a parliamentary system. They are at liberty to oppose the policy and personnel actions of the government (and most of the time they will), but are loyal to the source of the government’s power. And in fact, that’s exactly what the GOP did in the early part of the Obama Administration (that libs love to bitch about so much). That’s exactly what today’s libs aren’t doing wrt to Trump. The entire mentality and historical baggage of resistance works against that.

                                            So yes, the grassroots level lib resistance to the Trump Administration is a very bad thing and morally blameworthy.

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                                            • So all those folks calling their senators and representatives constantly, expressing their concerns, writing postcards, peacefully demonstrating, and doing everything they can to support Democratic candidates are…. morally blameworthy?

                                              You’re getting perilously close to “lib is a moral error” again here, Koz, and honestly at this exact moment my concern about that is not so much that you aren’t supposed to say those things – in the conversation you’re having right now, if that’s what you think it’s hard NOT to say so and I appreciate the effort you’re making – but that you actually think that is getting in the way of you understanding the situation, it seems to me.

                                              Do you think the politically motivated liberal base is all made up of rioters and people breaking windows? Do you personally spend any time with political motivated liberal base people?

                                              Because you seem to have an entirely different conception of them than fits the vast majority of the ones I know … most of them are exceedingly civic-minded and spend a great deal of time working together with both apolitical people and politically motivated non-leftists to accomplish divers goals. They have plenty of trust, respect, fellow feeling, etc., available to hand over to just about everybody (including people who voted for Trump, their dumb-ass Republican senators, etc.) at the first indication that said people aren’t actually out to ruin their lives. They don’t feel the POTUS and his staff are legitimate, for any number of reasons — a great number of “liberal base” people I know voted for Reagan and both Bushes, but are dismayed by Trump and the tendencies he represents that have been around the GOP longer than he has — and they’re mostly crushingly disappointed in the GOP for not stopping the tide (including being frustrated with their own loved ones who voted for the man in primaries) and crushingly disappointed in the Dems for not fielding someone other than Hillary and/or not being willing to support Hillary (depending) – but otherwise, they’re really not the people you seem to think they are. Heck, most of them would suffer through Pence, teeth gritted and taking all the civic actions they could to protect them and theirs from hostile legislation, just fine, without any need for resistance language or refusing to accept the situation.

                                              Maybe things are different living in a purple state… but somehow I don’t think so.

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                                        • Well here’s one problem.

                                          The “fiduciary” relationship doesn’t do any work here, to make a distinction between Trump, Obama, Ryan or any other politician.

                                          The sovereign people mentioned include waitresses and Wall Street bankers, gay activists and evangelical preachers, Trump supporters and Hillary supporters.

                                          Its not being made clear how Trump’s relationship to his supporters is any more “fiduciary” than anyone else’s.

                                          If the idea is that he can somehow “be taken at his word” well…I just will let that statement stand there for everyone to weigh its validity for themselves.

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                                          • The “fiduciary” relationship doesn’t do any work here, to make a distinction between Trump, Obama, Ryan or any other politician.

                                            Sure it does. All politicians in a democratic polity where authority derives from the consent of the governed, all of them have some fiduciary-like obligations to their constituents.

                                            But it’s the Left politicians in the US, especially since the beginning of the Obama Administration, especially Hillary Clinton, who have particularly failed those obligations.

                                            Trump, for all his faults, is much better in this way. If the House doesn’t pass his tax cut, it’s over. He is not going to get on the phone and tell some administrators in the IRS to cut taxes anyway. I don’t think he could if he tried. He has no power base except his office and the willingness of his grass roots followers to support him. And it was the latter who got him the former in the first place.

                                            I think you’re being a bit lazy trying to throw out a BSDI or tu quoque for the heck of it, when in this case it doesn’t stick. At least not for the most part. Bernie Sanders was a thing for a reason.

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                                            • But it’s the Left politicians in the US, especially since the beginning of the Obama Administration, especially Hillary Clinton, who have particularly failed those obligations.

                                              This claim would need a bit of explanation in order to be plausible.

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                                            • Fine. Let’s go through the fiduciary promises that Trump made during the campaign. Social Security benefits would increase. Medicare benefits would increase. Obamacare would be replaced with a program that provided more people with better coverage, much lower deductibles, and much lower premiums. The middle-class would see lower taxes, the rich would see higher taxes. Special rates for things like carried interest would disappear.

                                              I’m waiting to see legislation that looks anything like that.

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                                              • For the record, what folks do you consider his grass roots base?

                                                Pretty much the same people who are likely to vote Republican in a typical election: white, rural, exurban, married, employed, professionals (whose terminal education is below a doctorate), in contrast to the appropriate opposites, who may have misgivings about Trump but are not NeverTrump.

                                                To them, you add the Trump voters who were strongly associated with the GOP beforehand: white, working class, lower middle class, sporadically employed, concentrated in the Rust Belt and the border states.

                                                You also add NeverTrump-ish white upper middle class professionals, who did not vote for Trump would strongly tend to lean GOP in any other circumstance.

                                                To those you also add the anti-Clinton dissident Left, who did not vote for Clinton in 2016. They were strongly likely to support Bernie in the Demo primaries. They may have voted for Jill Stein, Bernie as a write-in, Trump, Evan McMullin, or even something further downballot.

                                                These are the people I’m talking about as grassroots in prior comments.

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                                            • But it’s the Left politicians in the US, especially since the beginning of the Obama Administration, especially Hillary Clinton, who have particularly failed those obligations.

                                              Ah, yes, Hillary completely failed her obligations as Sec of State by not doing…what, exactly?

                                              You know what, actually, wait, let’s back up a second. Before we can talk about what Hillary Clinton failed at doing as Sec of State, we must talk about what she promised her voters to do when they elected her Sec of State. (Wait, huh?)

                                              Trump, for all his faults, is much better in this way. If the House doesn’t pass his tax cut, it’s over. He is not going to get on the phone and tell some administrators in the IRS to cut taxes anyway. I don’t think he could if he tried. He has no power base except his office and the willingness of his grass roots followers to support him. And it was the latter who got him the former in the first place.

                                              This is utterly and completely disconnected from the claim you are pretending to make, which is ‘Politicians have a duty to voters to do what they promise, and everyone but Trump has failed at that’.

                                              The fact you claim Trump doesn’t have other methods of following his ‘fiduciary duty’ cannot possible be ‘better’ in the context of him completing his fiduciary duty. You might want to argue it’s better in some other sense, but you cannot argue it’s better in that specific sense.

                                              It is actually somewhat unclear why you think Trump doesn’t have all the options available to him as president as all other president. He, in theory, has as much power as anyone else.

                                              I mean, except for the obvious fact Trump is deeply stupid and unable to coherently do things in any logical way, and doesn’t even really seem to want to anything after his Muslim ban was so poorly received.

                                              But even if we go with the idea that Trump somehow is more limited than other US presidents, perhaps because of some hypothetical ‘deep state’ opposing him, that literally means the opposite of what you asserted…Trump is less likely to be able to do his ‘fiduciary duty’.

                                              If he cannot pass this tax bill (Pretending this tax bill is even slightly what he promised, which it is not.), then he has failed at his ‘fiduciary duty’, whereas some hypothetical president who is friendly with the IRS and could call up the IRS and get them to reduce taxes anyway (?!) would have succeeded.

                                              Asserting that Trump is better at something because he is less likely to succeed at it is complete gibberish.

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                                              • Ah, yes, Hillary completely failed her obligations as Sec of State by not doing…what, exactly?

                                                Well for starters, as the Demo nominee for President she characterized a number of Mr Trump’s voters as being deplorable. That is a horrible thing for any politician to do, let alone one as morally compromised as Mrs Clinton. Speaking in terms of the voters to the corrupt lib political class personified by Mrs Clinton, it is we who sit in judgment of you and not the other way around.

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                                                • Well for starters, as the Demo nominee for President she characterized a number of Mr Trump’s voters as being deplorable.

                                                  So, to be clear:
                                                  You built an entire argument that the political establishment were not doing what voters truly wanted, that voters want specific things and the Republican and Democratic establishment were not doing those thing. And thus, Trump.

                                                  The weird thing, _that_ is, to some extent, true. The problem is that you then included Hillary Clinton. (Hillary Clinton, of course, has not held elected office since she was a Senator, and no one’s running around complaining how she voted back then. Hell, most people have probably forgotten that even happened.)

                                                  When asked to explain this, the specific thing you point at is Clinton insulting people.

                                                  To repeat: An insult is your example of the failure of how ‘the political class is supposed to honor fiduciary or fiduciary-like obligations toward the intent to the grass roots’.

                                                  That not only is absurd, but barely even being understandable as an argument. A candidate insulting people is not even vaguely close to ‘elected politicians are not doing what their voters wanted’, which was the very specific basis of your entire argument.

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                                                  • You built an entire argument that the political establishment were not doing what voters truly wanted, that voters want specific things and the Republican and Democratic establishment were not doing those thing.

                                                    Not quite. My argument is that over say, the last ten years especially, lib politics have distorted and perverted (in the non-sexual sense) the relationship between the political class
                                                    and the nation it represents. (There’s also the fact that the Right/GOP has its share for the blame in this but for now at least that’s not relevant.)

                                                    That is, the authority of the political class is derivative from people. We sit in judgment of them, and not the other way around.

                                                    One way this is manifested is for public officials to follow through in office with the things they indicated during an election campaign. But this isn’t wasn’t the only example of what I was talking about in terms of the relationship between the political class and the grassroots. It may not even be the most important one. Things can change in the way we understand things, to the point where what a candidate’s policy intentions were during the campaign may not be feasible or even make sense.

                                                    So inadvertently or otherwise, you’re trying to narrow the scope of what I’m talking about in ways that aren’t justified from what I’ve written so far. It’s important to be able to see things from a broader perspective that what you’ve shown so far: specifically, the restoration and maintenance of the proper relationship between us and the political class.

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                                              • …his Muslim ban was so poorly received.

                                                But even if we go with the idea that Trump somehow is more limited than other US presidents.

                                                Your first statement proves your second.

                                                For a normal President, a “Muslim ban” would be “banning Muslims” or even just “the 50 Muslim majority countries”. Normal Presidents could certainly ban immigrants from countries we’re bombing because they can’t control their own territory, and could also ban immigrants from countries which actively support terrorism. Trump apparently can not.

                                                The phrase “Muslim ban” is hysteria. That a few Judges have bought into it showcases the extent of the problem. Similarly Trump makes a tweet and, with a body count of zero and an injury count of zero, I’m hearing “genocide” wolf screams.

                                                Turn off Trump’s all-provoking all-the-time twitter feed and look at what’s actually going on. His administration is obeying Judicial rulings, even the hysterical ones. The police are doing their jobs and enforcing the law against any crime of violence (yes, even if a Nazi did it). Trump’s judicial picks are serious.

                                                He’s not tearing up the rule of law, nor is he threatening to (remember his Twitter feed is turned off, it doesn’t exist).

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                                                • Turn off Trump’s all-provoking all-the-time twitter feed and look at what’s actually going on.

                                                  Sure, if you just ignore what the President says, you can absolutely pretend that things he’s doing for illegitimate reasons are actually being done for legitimate reasons.

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                                                  • I mean, sure, if you just ignore what the President says, you can absolutely pretend that things he’s doing for illegitimate reasons are actually being done for legitimate reasons.

                                                    He’s said everything about every issue. Ergo his “reasons” could be anything on any issue.

                                                    Basically, in practice, this means when the Left don’t like what he’s doing, Judges will read his mind, make sure he hasn’t changed it (or that he’s changed it back), and make sure he’s only allowed to do politically correct things no matter what the law says about his authority.

                                                    Because the will of the voters and rule of law is way less important than resisting Trump.

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                                                • The phrase “Muslim ban” is hysteria. That a few Judges have bought into it showcases the extent of the problem.

                                                  “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” -a press release by his campaign in response to San Bernadino

                                                  “I called for a ban after San Bernardino, and was met with great scorn and anger but now, many are saying I was right to do so — and although the pause is temporary, we must find out what is going on. The ban will be lifted when we as a nation are in a position to properly and perfectly screen those people coming into our country.

                                                  The immigration laws of the United States give the President the power to suspend entry into the country of any class of persons that the President deems detrimental to the interests or security of the United States, as he deems appropriate.

                                                  I will use this power to protect the American people. When I am elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we understand how to end these threats.” -Speech where Trump literally introduces his proposal

                                                  So, to recap: First Trump proposes stopping all Muslims from entering the country. Trump then, when later introducing his proposal to temporary stop migration from certain countries, not only calls it a ban, but says it’s the same ban as when he calls for ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’.

                                                  Now, I guess, if you want to nitpick, ‘Muslim ban’ might be mistaken to mean something else besides ‘ban on Muslims entering the United States’, it might mean removing Muslims already here…but I don’t think anyone’s making that mistake, so that’s a rather silly nitpick.

                                                  And, of course, you can argue what Trump tried to do is not ‘actually’ a ban on Muslims entering the United States, but it’s not other people that started calling it that, it’s literally Trump himself, as he introduced it.

                                                  For a normal President, a “Muslim ban” would be “banning Muslims” or even just “the 50 Muslim majority countries”. Normal Presidents could certainly ban immigrants from countries we’re bombing because they can’t control their own territory, and could also ban immigrants from countries which actively support terrorism. Trump apparently can not.

                                                  No, they can’t. Normal Presidents would understand there is a law stating that immigration law and immigration restrictions cannot be based on country of residence. They would also understand that they cannot is ban green card holders from the country, and that they should not (even if they can) cause total chaos at air ports by banning people the US has already issued visas to.

                                                  Trump’s Muslim ban (I say, using literally his words.) had a few things that were legal and constitutional, and a whole bunch of things that were not. Any judge would have blocked the entire thing. (And any other president would have run the thing past not-stupid people and would have started with the clearly constitutional things like the refugee and tourist stuff, let them become standard practice, and then tried the questionable ones separately and seen what happened, so even if those get shot down, the other stuff remains. And not tried the idiotic stuff at all.)

                                                  But you’re presumably talking about the suits against the ‘current’ EO, the EO where Trump has mostly reduced himself to the constitutional regulation of refugees and tourist visas, are being blocked because Trump is disliked.

                                                  But that is wrong. They are blocked because Trump has behaved like Trump, and judges do care about the fact that the government appears to be operating in some sort of rational and fair manner, or, in this case, not.

                                                  See also: The judges striking down Trump’s military trans ban. The military has a perfectly constitutional right to block trans members, the military is not subject to anti-discrimination laws at all. They can discriminate based on sex or even race!

                                                  Trump’s EOs are being blocked because Trump didn’t follow the procedures laid out to change those things, or, really, not that Trump didn’t follow a specific procedure, per se. While there are procedures that are supposed to be used to change that sort of thing, they are procedures that the military and civilian leadership has set up, and thus they themselves could presumable override.

                                                  It’s that he followed no procedure at all. He didn’t try to follow them, he didn’t ask for input and override it, he didn’t explain anything.

                                                  Judges do not like it when the rules are randomly changed out from under people with literally no discussion or warning, especially when the rule change appears to be solely out of malice. Judges will react to that, and move to immediately block such things from going into effect until they can be litigated.

                                                  Where the courts eventually side is something else entirely. I actually I suspect they will find the trans ban legal, if the government can come up with any justification besides the bogus ‘It costs money, herp derp.’ By that logic, the military could assert it is paying everyone in the armed forced named ‘Ted’ only in bananas, and only one banana a month, starting right now. I’m not sure if the military could do that, constitutionally speaking, but even if it can, it can’t just _start_ doing that for no reason and without warning on the grounds ‘it saves money’, because it is completely disruptive to all Teds.

                                                  And judge’s immediate reaction to random malice and lunatic behavior on the part of the government is going to be ‘Uh, first the government will stop that craziness, and then we’ll have the lawsuit about whether it is allowed or not.’

                                                  It has nothing to do with Trump…except Trump keeps doing it!

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                                                  • (Note: I am not claiming what Trump is doing is good policy nor even that he’s sane.)

                                                    First Trump proposes stopping all Muslims from entering the country. Trump then, when later introducing his proposal to temporary stop migration from certain countries, not only calls it a ban, but says it’s the same ban as when he calls for ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’.

                                                    Which means Trump is a liar. If I tell you I’ll sell you a stolen car and then actually produce a tricycle, you don’t get to arrest me for the non-existent car.

                                                    They are blocked because Trump has behaved like Trump, and judges do care about the fact that the government appears to be operating in some sort of rational and fair manner, or, in this case, not.

                                                    It’s a problem when Judges don’t follow the law and substitute their opinion on what the outcome should be.

                                                    Quoting from the WSJ, “Supreme Rebuke for the Judiciary: The High Court tells judges to follow the law, not anti-Trump fashion.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/supreme-rebuke-for-the-judiciary-1512432245

                                                    Judges do not like it when the rules are randomly changed out from under people with literally no discussion or warning, especially when the rule change appears to be solely out of malice.

                                                    How do you feel about Lois Lerner’s efforts to keep secret her testimony about using the IRS to target conservative groups?

                                                    https://www.wsj.com/articles/lois-lerners-secrets-1512339850

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                          • Dude, the fucking President we’re supposed to unite behind is a birther. He’s a really famous birther. He became relevant in politics because he was a birther. The last GOP nominee needed to get his endorsement… because he was a birther.

                            Meaning what, that Trump had an operational veto over Romney becoming the nominee in 2012? Lol.

                            Trump as the birther candidate went nowhere, and was going nowhere until he picked up the immigration issue in 2015.

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                          • Maybe you ought to come up with a single standard by which to judge legitimate participation in the American political process, instead of setting a high bar for liberals and a completely different (not to mention subterranean) bar for conservatives.

                            Don’t bother. He’ll come up with examples, and when you point out they are nonsense, he will flip premises entirely. In fact, here’s a question everyone should ask Koz when he starts in on this, because he likes to rotate between these all these premises:

                            Should the liberals stop opposing things that Republicans want because a) it hurts their chances, or because a) the Republicans won and that’s how the system works, or c) because they are objecting in new ways that threaten to undermine the entire system?

                            (Koz, you feel free to answer this if you want. But I’m mainly talking to the people bothering to talk to you.)

                            a) Right now, he’s in the ‘voters feel this way’ stage. But just wait until you point out that voters do not, in fact, appear to like Trump, and have never really liked Trump. And in fact the voters are pretty evenly split between the left and the right. And on top of that, what the left is opposing has massive objections to it, and literally every instance of Democrats standing up to Bush makes them more popular. This will flip him to:

                            b) Arguing that Democratic Congress are _objectively_ misbehaving, regardless of how the voters take it. That there is a system of governance and they should accept the will of the voter and not object to it. (Despite that always being how the system works.) This despite the fact that it’s pretty clearly the Republicans who crossed most of the lines, like refusing to hold votes on Supreme Court nominees and refusing to vote on anything the Democrats did and even introduced the Hastert rule over two decades ago. You pointing that out will flip him to the next stage:

                            c) In which he argues that the Democrats are behaving in ways no one has ever behaved before, outside the legislature, trying to undermine the president and government and using terms like ‘the Resistance’ and not accepting that Trump won the vote. But you point out that almost all this ‘undermining’ is because Trump is an idiot who doesn’t know how government works and the court do not like that, and Republicans literally started a bunch of groups called ‘Tea Parties’ and using the exact same ‘revolutionary’ terminology he suddenly has a problem with. And on top of that, more Democrats accept Trump and even Bush (Who actually had a real question mark over his election) as president than Republicans accepted Obama. He also used to bring up the supposedly made-up collusion charge here, don’t know if he’s still doing that.

                            At which point the circle is complete and he will loop back to (a), arguing that, regardless of the actual facts, what is important is how the voters _see_ those things, and what the liberals do is massively unpopular.

                            I’ve been in like four conversations that this happened in.

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  4. I’m glad that DC has a height limit for buildings, or a lot of White House lawyers would seriously injure themselves jumping out the nearest window after reading this Tweet.

    I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017

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    • So, basically, Trump is asserting the series of events is:

      He ordered Flynn to connect Russia, and stayed in communication with a Flynn during that.

      Flynn then, insanely, not only lied to the FBI about that, but lied to the vice president about that? Why would he lie internally?

      The idea he was lying internally made sense when Flynn was some rogue agent who had contacted Russia himself, perhaps for personal reasons or perhaps in a misguided attempt to help the campaign, and then lied to everyone.

      But the idea he was lying internally literally makes no sense at all anymore, especially as Trump insists that everything was completely legal and above board, except the lying. It is possible to dream up a reason for Flynn to lie about ‘stuff that looks bad but is legal’ to the FBI…it’s not possible to dream up a reason for him to be doing that internally, though.

      Additionally, it requires that Donald Trump a) didn’t bother to tell Pence about the communications with Russia at the time, and b) didn’t bother to tell him after he went on TV and said untruths about it.

      This is yet another episode of ‘If we assume everything Donald Trump says is true, everything is very very stupid’.

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      • He’s also telling us he knew Flynn lied to the FBI before he told Comey to lay off Flynn, and fired Comey for continuing his investigation.

        So he just confessed to obstructing justice in a Tweet.

        I guess maybe it is good Twitter didn’t ban him for (more of) his blatant TOS violations this week.

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      • A Narcissist’s Prayer

        That didn’t happen.

        And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.

        And if it was, that’s not a big deal. <— We are here

        And if it is, that’s not my fault.

        And if it was, I didn’t mean it.

        And if I did…

        You deserved it.

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    • This tweet shows the problem with Trump’s delusional conception of reality: he thinks that he himself couldn’t have done anything wrong by pressuring Comey to drop the Flynn investigation since, in his mind, Flynn didn’t do anything wrong. Flynn is a patriot, a good man, he would have directed Flynn to make those contacts himself, etc and so on. Lying to the FBI, therefore, isn’t doing anything wrong. Instead, the FBI investigation of Flynn’s activities is wrong.

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      • Dershowitz gets it!

        Richard Painter: Just got off a MSNBC panel in which Alan Dershowitz argued it is not a crime to lie to the FBI about a meeting with the Russians if the meeting itself was not a crime. Sheer nonsense. Lying to the FBI is a crime.

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        • I watched Dershowitz on BBC World News last night and that is certainly not what he said. He said lying to the FBI was a crime, but the conduct he lied about wasn’t criminal conduct. Sounds like fake news.

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          • I looked for a clip of the interview but can’t find one. I’m not a big Richard Painter fan, but it’s hard to believe he could get things *that* wrong without trying to. So maybe it really is fake news.

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            • I suspect they were talking over each other in the MSNBC segment. D’s main point though was that he doesn’t think Flynn is a useful witness anymore — he’s admitted to multiple false statements and is promising to help the prosecution in exchange for going easy on him and his family. He thinks he’s only useful as a background resource.

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              • he’s admitted to multiple false statements and is promising to help the prosecution in exchange for going easy on him and his family.

                ‘and his family’ assumes facts not in evidence. There’s apparently not any mention of Flynn’s family at all in his agreement.

                There also, even weirder, no mention of him getting a pass for ‘known crimes’ or whatever, which is apparently very weird. Normally, in a plea deal, basically every crime (Up to a certain point) would be on the table, and once signed, they would say ‘Now you have to tell us all your related crimes’.

                This plea deal, as I understand it, and I basically understand it almost entirely from watching Maddow Friday so could be entirely wrong, didn’t do that. There are crimes we strongly suspect happened, and strongly suspect Mueller knows about, that simply are not covered under this.

                I actually have a very strange theory about this, in that Mueller is basically laying a trap to see if Trump will idiotically pardon Flynn to try to stop his cooperation, at which point Mueller will charge Flynn with _more_ crimes. (And Mueller has some state crimes in reserve, like, oh, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, in case it’s a blanket pardon. But he saved some Federal crimes he can himself charge.)

                In fact, hilariously, Mueller could threaten to charge Flynn with additional crimes only if Flynn accepts a presidential pardon(1). Which could result in the amazing spectacle of Trump obstructing justice by issuing a pardon, and said pardon being refused.

                1) Legally, that sounds weird, but I’m not sure of any actual legal reason why it couldn’t be done.

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                • I actually have a very strange theory about this, in that Mueller is basically laying a trap to see if Trump will idiotically pardon Flynn to try to stop his cooperation, at which point Mueller will charge Flynn with _more_ crimes. (And Mueller has some state crimes in reserve, like, oh, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, in case it’s a blanket pardon. But he saved some Federal crimes he can himself charge.)

                  I’ve been thinking about this a little bit, and for the moment at least I’ve concluded that this plea agreement is sign of weakness for Mueller.

                  The alternative is some kind of rope-a-dope theory, one possibility for which I’ve quoted from you. But I’m not buyin’ it.

                  The point of this agreement is to rattle the cage of all the possible co-defandants as if to say, Flynn is talking to us. Whatever your criminal liability is, come find us now and cut a deal before we go after you ourselves.

                  But this is weak. The way to scare possible defendants/cooperators is with specificity, not vagueness. Mueller is getting a tremendous amount of implicit protection from the Left, who has invested huge hopes in him. Those hopes are going to be bitterly disappointed if the best Mueller comes up with is a Martha Stewart charge for Flynn.

                  There’s a lot of things that Mueller could try to build a theory for, but none that look like sticking for now. Therefore, the key barrier for Flynn is to come up with something serious that looks like it could stick, something that he intends to vindicate in court if he has to.

                  With this plea agreement, he is no closer to that than he was before. In fact, he may be even further away.

                  If it turns out that next week or the week after, there is a new plea agreement with Flynn covering other crimes, then I would substantially revise this opinion.

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        • I found a clip of the Painter/Dershowitz debate here. The relevant part starts at about 7:40 into the segment, and it looks like Painter’s claim may in fact be accurate: Dersh. suggests that Flynn’s having lied to the FBI “might not be a crime” if the content of his lie isn’t “materially relevant” to the scope of the FBI’s inquiry in which he answered. Seems to me the dispute is whether asking Flynn about contacts with Russians was “materially relevant” to an investigation into Flynn’s potential contacts with Russians.

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          • Yeah about that.

            John Dowd, President Trump’s outside lawyer, outlined to me a new and highly controversial defense/theory in the Russia probe: A president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice.

            The “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd claims.

            That defense worked great for Nixon.

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            • Dersh is working a different angle in the above clip than Dowd is, tho. While Dowd is saying Trump, by virtue of his office, cannot obstruct justice even if he was aware Flynn had committed a crime by lying to the FBI about Russia connections being investigated by Comey’s FBI, Dershowitz is arguing (or at least suggesting) that Flynn may not have committed a crime by so lying. And ironically, now there’s reporting that McGahn *also* was aware that Flynn “misled” the FBI and conveyed that information to Trump at least two weeks prior to Flynn’s dismissal and urged Trump to fire him on those grounds.

              I’m not sure I see how Dershowitz’s argument can be used to exonerate Trump, tho. Even if he’s right that Flynn’s deceptions didn’t rise to the level of a crime, Trump and his lawyers – in addition to Sally Yates, WH Counsel McGahn, and now obviously Robert Mueller – believed that they did.

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          • Right… but right before the 7.40 mark, Painter (possibly) concedes that the Russian contact was legal.

            Here’s the conundrum as I see it as of today, 12/4

            1. Flynn Lied about his contact with the Russians during the transition.
            2. Did he lie because he was afeared of where that thread leads or because he thought that by violating the norm (and possibly the Logan Act) he would not get his NSC chair?
            3. If he lied because there’s a there before the Transition… that’s Impeachment Zone.
            4. If he lied because he didn’t want to lose his seat (and that’s what many transition teams do)… that’s not Impeachment zone.

            The only thing that gets Trump Impeached (well, not the only thing), but the “thing” about the Russians has to be collusion during the election… not Israel or ISIS or the Logan Act (which I’d be willing to bet the SCOTUS would say doesn’t apply to the President Elect and his designees anyway).

            And here’s the double weird counter-intuitive take… if the White House team were competent, I’d place *more* value in Flynn betraying a possible election connection because a competent team would stonewall the Logan Act and force Mueller to come after them for that. But that certainly doesn’t exclude the possibility that Flynn really does have Electioneering issues to trade… just that I can’t exclude the possibility that he’s copping a plea to an act a competent White House would challenge. And to be clear… I mean challenge at the time of the hearings when he might have disclosed that he *did* meet w/foreign powers.

            But, we’ll see whether Flynn has gold or lead for Mueller.

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            • I think you’re forgetting about the whole bit where Trump actively attempted to obstruct justice. Like the parts where he bragged about it.

              You know, the thing Nixon did? Where he tried to order the DoJ to stop investigating? Fired people? The literal thing that Nixon resigned over (to avoid being impeached) that Trump has actively admitted to on several occasions?

              And honestly — Flynn wouldn’t plead if the Mueller didn’t have serious goods on him, and Mueller wouldn’t give him a sweetheart deal unless he had serious stuff on someone much more important than himself. And as he was NSA, that’s a really short list.

              One thing we should actively be aware of: What Flynn has pled to may or may not be the full list of things Flynn will eventually plead to, or the things to which Flynn is guilty or what he might know. That’s just what’s been placed into public knowledge, as a deliberate act by Mueller. Revealing Flynn’s guilty plea now is not something he had to do. He choose to release that information.

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              • No… I just don’t think you’re going to get an impeachment on Obstruction if the Obstruction is for the transition.

                I think the underlying assumption you have (that may be correct) is that there’s a bigger crime that rises to the level of Watergate.

                Watergate is Watergate because it goes to the heart of the democratic process… otherwise its just Iran/Contra… or any number of Govt. malfeasance inquiries.

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                • No… I just don’t think you’re going to get an impeachment on Obstruction if the Obstruction is for the transition.

                  Trump was President when he fired James Comey. He was President when he pressured James Comey to drop the Flynn investigation.

                  Those are the major obstruction charges, and are certainly relevant!

                  Moreover, the transition era stuff? As President elect — heck, as Presidential candidate — you don’t think crimes committed in the pursuance of office are impeachable?

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                  • Heh, blowjobs are impeachable.

                    Do you think you will get a conviction for this political argument? I don’t think you will. Maybe I’m wrong. But you can treat me as the canary in the impeachment coal mine if you want… When I and not Samantha Bee think we’ve got him… then we’ve got him.

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                    • That’s unrelated to my point. You talked about “obstruction during the transition” when Trump’s primary period of obstructing justice was…..as President.

                      This:

                      No… I just don’t think you’re going to get an impeachment on Obstruction if the Obstruction is for the transition.

                      Is meaningless. I’m not even sure Trump obstructed justice during the transistion, and if he did it pales in comparison to what he’s done as President (fire Comey, fire Yates, pressure Sessions, pressure the FBI, pressure Comey, pressure Congress).

                      He might end up in legal trouble for transition period obstruction, but why would anyone build an impeachment case on that when they have him admitting to pressuring, then firing, the head of the FBI to try to stop the investigation?

                      (And for the record, I think Trump could shoot a child in broad daylight and the GOP would say “It was a liberal child” and not impeach him. But you’re still weirdly conflating the timing of the Flynn lying to Trump’s obstruction, even though they didn’t happen at the same time.)

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                    • I think it’ll be sufficient for impeachment on its own [1] if the GOP gets shellacked in 2018 and things are looking grim for them as they close in on 2020. Of course, I also think things will get very dangerous for them if the Dems have an even one seat majority in the House.

                      [1] Or with a few other included things like self-dealing through the Trump Org [2].

                      [2] I am occasionally gabberflasted all over again that everybody seems to have decided that’s no big deal.

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                      • [2] I am occasionally gabberflasted all over again that everybody seems to have decided that’s no big deal

                        He’s broken so many norms that people just…forget.

                        Kushner wanted to use Russian secure lines to communicate privately with Moscow after Trump won. People forget.

                        Trump literally bragged to Russian journalists that he obstructed justice (his reasoning for firing Comey was, literally, a textbook case of obstruction of justice and abuse of power. He fired Comey to try to end an investigation he wanted ended. Case closed) and people are all “Maybe Trump didn’t do anything” when they really mean “Beyond all the laws he admitted breaking, maybe he didn’t do anything more”.

                        Trump’s charity is about eight kinds of illegal, and then he tried to illegally close it just recently like that’d stop the state of New York from investigating it, but it’s down the memory hole.

                        He’s currently lying about the Access Hollywood thing which we all got to hear with our own ears and to which he admitted and sort of apologized for and is now claiming it never happened.

                        And we still have people going “There’s no proof of collusion” (collusion isn’t a crime, so I assume they mean “shady and illegal crap involving Russia and the election”) when literally half his administration is constantly caught lying about meeting with Russians.

                        You can’t keep up with this. No one can.

                        I’m not surprised Mueller seems to be running this like a mafia case, rather than like a corrupt government official case. Trump’s campaign, associates, and relatives all seem enmeshed in Russian espionage, money, and shady dealings. You can’t just “investigate” Trump — you’re stuck investigating a dozen people all tied in a web of Russian money.

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                      • Well sure, the political calculus will change over time… I guess I am assuming that the Flynn/Manafort indictments signal some sort of denoument… if nothing immanent is going to happen then yeah, I have no idea what will happen in 2019 (or what new and interesting things Trump may do between now and then that makes Obstruction of Justice the perfect stick to beat him with).

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                        • I guess I am assuming that the Flynn/Manafort indictments signal some sort of denoument

                          That is not a super firm assumption. In fact, if you’re gonna make assumptions, assuming that this is only the beginning is equally — if not more — valid.

                          Mueller, as it’s been noted many times, as staffed up (and seems to be approaching this) more like a criminal conspiracy — almost like it was a mafia operation he was tackling. He has moved against little fish, has been very careful with his indictments, and when he unsealed those indictments, and shows no signs of “wrapping up”.

                          Do recall he’s got the pardon power to deal with, as well, which adds yet another layer of complexity.

                          Do recall that, by prosecutor’s standards, Mueller is moving extraordinarily quickly.

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                        • Right. I was trying to get at the idea that what Trump did could lead to his removal from office with a different political calculus.

                          This isn’t damning enough to do the trick now, but it’s damning enough that it cross the line in a plausible future.

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                • March,

                  One thing I keep thinking about is the magnitude and frequency of the Russia related lies coming out of this admin: Manafort, Gates, Flynn, Popadop, Sessions, Kushner, WiIlber Ross, Don Jr., Trump himself, as well as the degree of pressure Trump has applied to suppressing the investigations. He’s reportedly pressured Comey, Sessions, Ross, McMaster, Senators including Burr, and so on, to end the investigations as well as (even by his own admission) obstructed the investigation into Flynn.

                  Maybe there’s no ‘there’ there. Seems unlikely to me.

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                  • I agree with here.

                    That much pressure, on that many people, over that prolonged a period of time, after extensive consultation with personal counsel, is not just reflexive resistance to investigation and inquiry, nor is it inexperience with the protocols of holding high public office.

                    There’s an intent here, an objective.

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                    • And they all lie about the same thing — including Sessions. They lie about meetings with Russians. Each and every one of them. (And honestly, I think Pence is just been lucky he’s not been asked. He was undoubtedly involved).

                      My favorite bit of “WTF” evidence remains, of course, Jarod’s attempt to borrow the Russian’s own secure communication lines to talk to Moscow.

                      Because nothing says “This is all above board” like wanting to talk to Russia where not even your own government (the government you’re about to be in charge of) can’t hear.

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                    • There’s an intent here, an objective.

                      A lot of the Trump behavior makes sense when you realize that the high-end real-estate market in New York and a few other places basically _is_ Russian money-laundering.

                      It works thusly: Pretend I am a Russian oligarchs with dirty money, and you are someone named Tonald Drump who owns a bunch of New York real estate.
                      1) I buy a condo, or even group of condos, for a quarter of the real price from you. I then hand you the rest of the money, plus a bit more, under the table.
                      2) You, having a giant entwined ‘Drump Organization’ of some sort that contains hundreds of difference businesses in an impossible to follow way, injects the dirty cash somewhere it won’t be noticed, or just use it to buy things or bribe people in foreign countries, where you also have plenty of holdings.
                      3) Someone else, maybe an accomplice or maybe just some random guy who honestly wants a condo, buys the condo off me at full value.

                      Or, another way:
                      1) I have a bunch of money that I need to get to a business in the US, but I’m under sanctions.
                      2) I get a bunch of friends of mine to ‘rent apartments’ in very expensive buildings. Giant blocks of apartments that they do not live in, and in fact probably don’t really have access to.
                      3) You overcharge them for your already overpriced apartments, and thus end up with a lot of my money.
                      4) ‘You’ then invest that money in business ventures, but everyone understand I’m really the one funding it.

                      High end real estate is basically the perfect way to park and move money. It can’t be stolen, it can’t be counterfeited, it doesn’t lose value, it can be bought and sold privately with almost no one noticing, from other countries, and no one will even notice if you don’t use it. And the price seemingly can change on a whim, and no one bats an eye if those prices leap to astronomical figures for no obvious reason.

                      The entire high-end real estate market is this way. The whole thing. Well, it’s all used to park and move money around, but probably some of that is possibly legal. But a good deal of it is not.

                      And a good deal of the illegal money moving around this country is Russian.

                      So secretly making contact with Russians for illicit purpose is basically how Trump operates. It’s how he rebuilt his empire.

                      Of course he was going to keep doing that.

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                      • I suspect he could hide the laundering from an IRS audit, but really don’t think his books can handle a full FBI forensic audit.

                        Manafort’s books held up to casual scrutiny, and I note the FBI quickly and efficiently dissected his house of cards.

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                      • Da, tell me more about apartment rentals. Do these apartments have to even exist? Let’s say I own a 58-story mixed-use tower on Fifth Avenue, somewhere around 55th Street. I can rent out Unit 1101 to your friend Sergei, and Unit 1102 to your other friend Vashya, and Unit 1103 to your third friend Boris, and unit 1104 to your fourth friend Kristov. Only there are really only two units on the 11th floor at all; unit “1103” is really part of unit 1101 with a back door, and same fo 1102 and 1104.

                        Or, of course, I can enter into a lease and accept payments for unit 1101 with Sergei, and then also lease out 1101 to Vashya and lease it again to Boris and Kristov. So I’ve leased the same apartment four times and given that none of Sergei, Vashya, Boris, and Kristov are going to ever actually be in it, and I don’t have to record or disclose the lease anywhere to anyone, no one will ever be the wiser.

                        Maybe I can then actually lease out 1101 to an actor or an athlete or someone like that.

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                      • The good news is, assuming this is right, then you’ve got something impeachable and/or arrestable (President Pence, here we come).

                        The really bad news is you’re basically saying he’s been doing this for 40 years and no one has noticed. Not even a whisper of a problem. He was never the weak guy who can be tossed to the legal wolves. He never bragged about his illegal connections. No one in his circle (like his ex-wives) had problems which could be solved by talking to the authorities nor did they ever get pissed off at him. The various legal problems that his mob friends had over the years never spilled onto his doorstep. He never got greedy and none of his “friends” did either.

                        Trump, for decades, was amazingly closed-mouthed, smart, and even humble about all of this.

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                        • The really bad news is you’re basically saying he’s been doing this for 40 years and no one has noticed. Not even a whisper of a problem.

                          Trump’s actually only been laundering money for people since about 1990, so 25 years.

                          And if only someone had ever linked Trump to money laundering, like that time in 2105 the Trump Taj Mahal was found to have done that, or the time in 2012, or the time in 2010, or the time in 2003, or the time in 1998:
                          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_Rock_Hotel_%26_Casino_Atlantic_City#Money_laundering

                          There’s also the fun time when some of the very first Russian oligrachs, way back in 1992, (While they were still busy ‘privatizing’, aka, looting into powerful people’s pocket, the asserts of the Soviet Union.), bought five condos in Trump Tower to launder money, which the US government seized for that:
                          http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/30/nyregion/entrepreneur-who-left-us-is-back-awaiting-sentence.html

                          But perhaps more the point:
                          Using real estate for money laundering, it is entirely possible for, at Donald Trump’s end, everything to be ‘legal’. It is possible to set things up with deniability, where everyone on US soil can claim they didn’t know anything was wrong.

                          Casinos, as Trump found out, cannot actually operate like that and will be fined, but in real estate, it’s pretty much legal to get in bed with all sorts of shady people, as long as there’s a thin level of deniablity…all anyone has to do is have opaque corporate entities do the buying and selling and no one can detect any wrongdoing, and, if detected, no one can prove anything.

                          And note, I am literally uncertain that Donald Trump did illegal things here. I am not accusing him of criminal activity there, or at least not any that anyone will ever be able to prove.

                          I am accusing him of being used to making secret deals with Russian oligarchs, thus explaining why he thought that was perfectly fine to continue as president, except instead of deals of dubious legality about condos he would make deals about foreign policy and other such things.

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                        • The really bad news is you’re basically saying he’s been doing this for 40 years and no one has noticed. Not even a whisper of a problem.

                          Noticing that something fishy is going on is not usually the tricky part of getting criminal charges to stick to well-connected rich guys who make political donations.

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                  • And as soon as Trump is connected to Electioneering with the Russians, then there’s an impeachment case to be made.

                    What I’m tamping down is the idea that Trump is gotten with what we have right now… so we don’t need to worry about making the connection to the Electioneering.

                    So yeah, you see smoke and I see smoke… so bring us to the fire.

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                    • March,

                      And as soon as Trump is connected to Electioneering with the Russians, then there’s an impeachment case to be made.

                      I think there are others, but that’s certainly a big one. By saying this are you expressing your own personal line in the sand or that only such a direct connection would motivate GOP CCers to invoke impeachment proceedings?

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                      • I think that that would give sufficient cover for GOP CCers to move…

                        By virtue of the authority vested in me as Acting Attorney General, including 28 U.S.C.§§ 509, 510, and 515, in order to discharge my responsibility to provide supervision and management of the Department of Justice, and to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian governments efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election

                        No collusion, no impeachment.

                        If Mueller is bringing an Obstruction of Justice charge to Congress for the period after the election and without collusion? Well, I hope that’s not what he’s doing; you keep telling me that’s not what he’s doing. But if that’s all he does and absent any additional bombshell, like, say, Flynn talking about ISIS, Israel, and oh yeah, the suitcase of gold for all the help during the election. I just don’t see the political case for impeaching.

                        More simply… the Obstruction case needs something big, like Collusion… Trump fired Comey to prevent us finding out about his big Russian spy closet… that’s some good obstruction of justice. But if your story is that we couldn’t find any collusion, which is what we’ve been telling you is the reason that Trump totally fired Comey, but we did find that Flynn lied on his Job App along the way and *that’s* why its obstruction of justice… well sure, if you take it to a jury maybe both are Obstruction of Justice… but you’re not getting impeachment out of #2.

                        Now, I’m all on board for watching Mueller attempt to arrest him (assuming no FBI or Secret Service agents are harmed in the foo-fa-ra) but that’s not your question.

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                        • If Mueller is bringing an Obstruction of Justice charge to Congress for the period after the election and without collusion?

                          Mueller’s not working for Congress. He’s working for the DoJ. He’d bring charges to courts, not Congress.

                          You seem to be jumping back and forth from Mueller’s criminal investigation to the politics of Congress’ impeachment decisions, which seems to be the source of the confusion.

                          Trump is, literally and by his own admission, guilty of obstruction of justice by firing Comey..Even if the Russian investigation had turns up nothing, Trump is guilty of obstructing justice (and abuse of the powers of his office) by trying to stop the investigation before it concluded. This by his own, public admission.

                          He’s almost certainly guilty of it for it when he attempted to pressure Comey into dropping the Flynn investigation specifically, and yet again in his attempts to pressure both Sessions and Congressmen into stopping the DoJ investigation.

                          Would Congress impeach for such an abuse of power is an entirely different question, to a problem Mueller is not dealing with. Mueller is working as a special prosecutor for the FBI, in which he is investigating (and charging) crimes in court — not before Congress, no as a political move, but as a criminal prosecution.

                          You seem to be tangling up the political impeachment process and the legal process.

                          Now if your argument is simply “I don’t think the GOP Congress will take an obstruction charge seriously, especially if it’s for something prior to inauguration” sure, I think we all agree that Trump could basically murder people on TV and this Congress wouldn’t act.

                          But that’s got jack-all to do with Mueller, the case he’s building, or whatever went on with Russia.

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                          • You seem to be tangling up the political impeachment process and the legal process.

                            Not intentionally, no; I’m only talking about the political aspects of a possible Obstruction charge. If there’s no obstruction of justice charge there’s no impeachment; if there’s an impeachment they are using the materials from Mueller’s Obstruction investigation to build the articles. I’m not sure any of that materially alters my assessments.

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                            • Except there’s a self-admitted obstruction of justice charge — Trump firing Comey. He fired him, admitted he’d fired him because of the Russian thing, and then expressed his expectation that — by firing him — the investigation would end.

                              He literally admitted the crime.

                              That’s what I find so weird. I mean we all know he obstructed justice, because he told us so. Then he admitted to doing it again recently on Twitter. The man keeps saying he did it and we keep acting like it’s an open question.

                              The open question is “what is he obstructing justice to hide”, which is where Mueller comes in.

                              I’m sure he’ll get around to that obstruction charge in due time, but the question of “What’s he hiding” is undoubtedly more paramount.

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                              • “The open question is “what is he obstructing justice to hide”, which is where Mueller comes in.

                                I’m sure he’ll get around to that obstruction charge in due time, but the question of “What’s he hiding” is undoubtedly more paramount.”

                                You know, we could have saved a lot of time if you had just said +1 to my original comment.

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                              • Except there’s a self-admitted obstruction of justice charge — Trump firing Comey. He fired him, admitted he’d fired him because of the Russian thing, and then expressed his expectation that — by firing him — the investigation would end.

                                This isn’t going to fly. Trump has the legitimate authority to fire Comey, for the purpose of ending Russia investigations if he wants.

                                I fully expected to support impeachment when push comes to shove. I still might in fact. But I expected there to be a legitimate case against him. But for all of Trump’s crap, the Mueller drama has so far served to illustrate the weakness of the case against him.

                                Obstruction for firing Comey, electioneering charges for Russia, given what we know now, I don’t think they’ll even hold up in court. I’m pretty sure they won’t hold up for impeachment.

                                Even Mueller hasn’t made any kind of indication that he intends to run with them, and he’s under some real pressure to put some points on the board.

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                                • This isn’t going to fly. Trump has the legitimate authority to fire Comey, for the purpose of ending Russia investigations if he wants.

                                  I love how people think someone having the ‘legitimate authority’ to do something means it can’t be obstruction of justice.

                                  Almost all obstruction of justice is things that people can otherwise legally do.

                                  It is perfectly legal for me to give that guy $1000. It becomes obstruction of justice when I’ve giving it to him because he’s on my jury and I want him to vote against conviction.

                                  It is perfectly legal for me to write that guy a note. Hell, I have a constitutional right to do that. It still becomes obstruction of justice when he’s on my jury.

                                  It is perfectly legal for me to threaten to fire an employee of mine for any reason in my At Will state. It becomes obstruction of justice when I threaten to fire him if he hands over suppeanad documents to the courts.

                                  It is perfectly legal for me to destroy my own phone. It becomes obstruction of justice…well, okay, it technically becomes ‘tampering with evidence’….when I destroy my own phone after I am aware that phone is part of an investigation.

                                  Pretty much all forms of ‘Obstruction of justice’ can be done by doing things that are legal(1)…except they’re not legal when done to influence or impede an investigation.

                                  1) Well, there are two specific rules about killing people to obstruct justice, and killing people is generally illegal anyway…although the law there does say kill, nor murder. It might hypothetically be possible for such a killing to legally be self-defense, and thus legal there, but done for the purpose of impeding an investigation, and thus, still obstruction of justice.

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                                  • Pretty much all forms of ‘Obstruction of justice’ can be done by doing things that are legal(1)…except they’re not legal when done to influence or impede an investigation.

                                    There’s lot of caveats and exceptions to this to where the case against Trump for obstruction is weak. Among other things, the statute itself says something like you can’t impede the administration of justice. Trump can say, and I’d be inclined to agree, that the attempt to end the investigation of Flynn is the administration of justice. He is the chief executive of the federal government. The AG reports to him, all other federal prosecutors report to the AG.

                                    There’s other arguments of a similar sort could be upheld as well.

                                    The broader point is that a lot of libs want to think that the political parts of the executive cannot interfere with the career prosecutors of the DOJ or the career investigators of the FBI. There’s a fair bit of motives for good governance behind that, and tradition as well. But my understanding is that there’s no law, or jurisprudence that mandates that.

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                                    • The broader point is that a lot of libs want to think that the political parts of the executive cannot interfere with the career prosecutors of the DOJ or the career investigators of the FBI. There’s a fair bit of motives for good governance behind that, and tradition as well. But my understanding is that there’s no law, or jurisprudence that mandates that.

                                      I’m not sure that anyone thinks Mueller is actually going to bring charges against President Trump, something that is somewhat legally dubious to do(1) even if the behavior alleged is unequivocally a crime, much less if the behavior might not be.

                                      I do think the President did something there that could be described as obstruction of justice in an impeachment process, if anyone want to. But, hell, it’s not like I need to go and locate ‘justifications to impeach Trump’, I’ve argued there were grounds to impeach Trump the day before he took office because he could not, and took no effort to, conform to the emoluments clause.

                                      Clinton, notable, was charged with obstruction in his impeachment because he…got Monica Lewinsky a job in another part of the government, which Republicans claimed was an attempt to bribe her to lie. The president transferring staff around seems as much within his power as firing staff, heck, it’s really the same power. Although Clinton wasn’t convicted, so maybe that was legally an overreach, I say while pretending any of that had anything to do with actual legal definitions of things.

                                      But I personally think all this is a bit of a red herring, and we have no real evidence at all that Mueller even cares about Trump firing Comey, or that is an important part of his case.

                                      Right now, almost everything Mueller has done that we can see has been a whole bunch of foreign tax evasion and people lying to the FBI about foreign entities they were working for and other people lying making contact with foreign entities. [Edit: Heh, you know what I mean. He’s charged people with that, not run around doing that! ;)] He seems to not care about any obstruction of justice, and if we do see that show up, it will probably be tacked on the end of a bunch of other stuff.

                                      1) I think it’s technically possible to indict and arrest a sitting president, but I’m somewhat a minority and others disagree with that…but it being possible doesn’t mean I think it’s a logical way to move forward, or a good idea at all! In fact, it seems like a good way to literally cause a constitutional crisis.

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                            • If there’s no obstruction of justice charge there’s no impeachment

                              We’re racking up the beginnings of a list of reasons why Trump might be legitimately impeached. So far we’re at collusion in electioneering and obstruction of justice. I think there are others*, but charges for *either* of those are very possible given what we know so far. (Tho we currently have more evidence to suspect the latter than the former.)

                              *One is that foreign state agents have sufficient leverage over Trump to sway his policy decisions.

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                              • It’s a bit weird that a lot of people seem to have forgotten the underlying criminal act:

                                Russia hacked email accounts, and released them to the world.

                                Not only should people remember that, but note the second part of that, the release, is _itself a crime_.

                                Which means planning that release in any way is _also_ a crime.

                                If the Trump campaign sat around and decided to release the emails, and communicated that to Wikileaks, that was a criminal conspiracy.

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                              • So far we’re at collusion in electioneering and obstruction of justice.

                                *cough*emoluments*cough*

                                …hey, someone should look into whether or not New York is going to give him his various tax breaks this year, now in violation of the domestic emoluments clause.

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                                • *cough*emoluments*cough*

                                  He expressly ran on his money, bragging about it in every speech certainly counts. The American people were well informed and gave him a pass on that one. If we haven’t had all the legal “t”s crossed then Congress could give him a (blank) pass.

                                  Impeaching him on emoluments would be removing him from office because the voters made the wrong choice. That’s a bad thing for a party to even attempt, it’s actively trying to prove Koz’s point about having no respect for the voters.

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                                  • Mmmm, I don’t know about that. I heard from Trump voters before the election that his money meant he WOULDN’T try to profit from office because he was already “set for life”. Unlike that terrible HRC who basically makes a living off being a political animal, taking enormous speakers’ fees, which is wrong and bad. That was their then-perspective on his money and on emoluments.

                                    I mean, I told them it was a mistake to believe that at the time, but I don’t think “knew Trump had money” and “expected Trump to use the presidency to profit personally by the fistful while in office” are the same thing (even though I thought both of them), and I don’t think all (possibly not even most) Trump voters think they’re the same thing either.

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                                    • @maribou : That was their then-perspective on his money and on emoluments.

                                      In order for Trump to not have emoluments he’d basically need to take his entire empire and burn it down. His empire is his name, he’s made tons of deals with him personally guaranteeing things, for him to walk away from all that is somewhere between impossible and unrealistic. He never promised he’d sell everything if he became President.

                                      HRC could shut down her charity if she won (and had to shut down parts of it when she lost and the donations instantly vanished). Trump’s empire is a lot more substantial than that.

                                      From a good governance point of view I’m appalled by HRC’s “charity” (which any politician could trivially duplicate).

                                      Trump’s empire is larger and worse from a traceability standpoint precisely because it’s real and exists for reasons other than selling political influence. He’s set the bar so high for what it would take to copy this loophole it’s probably never going to happen again.

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                                      • I’m telling you what people thought, that I argued against at the time, not what it would have been rational to think.

                                        Point being, their *choice* wasn’t to have him break the emoluments clause, their *choice* was to assume he’d find a way to observe at least the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. (Which he hasn’t, he’s acted – predictably as you and I both agree – as if he has a mandate from the voters to ignore it.)

                                        So impeaching him on the emoluments clause wouldn’t be treating the voters like their choice didn’t matter, it would be treating them like their choices had consequences, ie their choice to ignore the reality of emoluments vis-a-vis the Trump empire had a consequence of leaving the president vulnerable to the emoluments clause, which exists in part *as a balance against the capture of the presidency by someone who will put their own material interests ahead of national concerns*. It’s a way for the voters (ie their representatives the congresspersons) to say “whoops, our bad, we didn’t realize you were a lying cheaterpants, or, rather, we thought you weren’t going to lie and cheat US… go away.”

                                        That isn’t somehow cheating the voters of their choice, it’s the system of checks and balances that previous generations of voters approval-stamped through voting.

                                        I was merely pointing out that there sure seem to be a lot of voters in my neck of the woods whose trust of Trump (or “trust”) was predicated on assumptions about him that have proven untrue. Obviously not all of them, but a lot. And that those people wouldn’t feel cheated of their choice if he got punished for something they hadn’t believed he would do, that he did do, they’d feel relieved.

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                                        • Point being, their *choice* wasn’t to have him break the emoluments clause, their *choice* was to assume he’d find a way to observe at least the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. (Which he hasn’t, he’s acted – predictably as you and I both agree – as if he has a mandate from the voters to ignore it.)

                                          , People thought he’d function without bribery, not without his money. I had no clue what “emoluments” were 18 months ago, ergo the average Trump voter presumably still doesn’t know.

                                          The letter of the law is broken every time he rents a hotel room to a foreigner. That’s an impossibly high bar for him to deal with given how his empire is structured and how deeply intertwined he is with it. IMHO Trump does have a mandate to ignore emoluments, at least as far as the normal operations of his pre-existing empire are concerned.

                                          The spirit of the law was broken when HRC accepted 9 digits of money with one hand from foreigners and gave out political favors with the other. (Yes, I know, it wasn’t provably illegal). That’s the bar he needs to go over, and so far he has. We’ve seen Trump’s hotels increase in popularity and various people claim they should be used because he’s the President, but we haven’t seen him accept 9 digits of money to hand over U rights to the Russians or anything similar.

                                          If and when Trump is impeached it needs to be over something more substantial than renting hotel rooms. HRC set the bar for this so low that even Trump looks great in comparison.

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                                              • Dark Matter’s not arguing that the Emoluments clause is being applied incorrectly, or misunderstood in historical context, or that it means something else.

                                                His argument is that Trump physically can’t comply with the Emoluments clause, ergo the Emoluments clause should be ignored entirely.

                                                As I understand his logic, imagine the public electing 29 year old Bob as President. It’s not his fault he’s 29, he can’t do anything about it, so clearly that part of the Constitution shouldn’t be applied because he won the election.

                                                And then, of course, something-something-Clinton-conspiracy-something, because why not.

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                                            • So the parts of the Constitution that are inconvenient should be ignored?

                                              Let’s just read the Constitution: No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

                                              Congress has been informed. The American People have been informed. The entire world has been informed of Trump’s Empire. “Informing” people of his wealth and how he gets it is one of Trump’s big skills.

                                              And if we seriously need the GOP controlled Congress to sign off on a “we’ve been informed” (blank) check, I’m sure they’re willing to.

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                                      • In order for Trump to not have emoluments he’d basically need to take his entire empire and burn it down. His empire is his name, he’s made tons of deals with him personally guaranteeing things, for him to walk away from all that is somewhere between impossible and unrealistic. He never promised he’d sell everything if he became President.

                                        That sounds, bluntly, like a personal problem of Trump’s.

                                        If he can’t comply with the Constitution, it’s not the Constitution that needs to bend.

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                                      • He never promised he’d sell everything if he became President.

                                        He promised to put everything in a blind trust. He didn’t even come close to doing that. He didn’t say, “I’m not going to do that because it’s unrealistic.”

                                        You can’t say voters knew what they were getting into when what they were getting into involves him blatantly breaking a promise.

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                                        • He promised to put everything in a blind trust

                                          [Edit: BTW, pillsy, I think you know this, I’m just explaining it for people who don’t seem to know how blind trusts work.]

                                          Which, BTW, does indeed mean he promised to sell everything, or at least hand it to people who would attempt to sell everything. Blind trusts are supposed to sell all your stuff.

                                          What happens is that blind trust are created, a bunch of assets are put in, then it attempts to sell each asset in some rational way (I.e., it’s not a firesale, it can, and should, try to make money or at least get a reasonable return. And care about tax situations by, for example, not selling stock until they count as ‘long term’ so are taxed less.), and it notifies the owner when each large asset is sold.

                                          Until the thing is sold, the government employee still has a conflict of interest in regard to that thing, and should act as such, recusing himself if possible.

                                          Eventually, all known assets will have been sold out of the blind trust, and the employee will have no idea what he now owns, so have no conflicts of interest.

                                          So, really, the entire premise of a blind trust is that it will eventually sell all your stuff. Admittedly, that’s a lot trickier with hotels than with stock, and it might even not happen for Trump’s entire term, but the entire point is ‘selling all your stuff’.

                                          1) Notably, President Obama did not put any of his assets in a blind trust. His investment assets were already in a Vanguard index fund, which simply follows the stock market, and he just kept them there. This presents an interesting conflict-of-interest question, because what if Obama needed to ‘bite the bullet’ and do something that was in the best interest of America, but would hurt the stock market?

                                          OTOH, almost all blind trusts are heavily invested in the stock market anyway, often via index funds, and people know that, so even people with a blind trust could be influenced that way! They’re sorta guessing, but they’ll be mostly correct.

                                          The moral of the story: It’s not really possible to eliminate all conflicts of interest. This is why we don’t really have ethics laws for the president like this. (And also ethics laws are basically ‘You have recuse yourself when…’, but the president literally cannot do that.)

                                          Now, this raises two questions:

                                          1) In the metaphysical sense, has Trump really ‘promised’ to do something if it’s clear he literally does not understand what that thing is?

                                          2) Why did anyone, at any time, let him claim he was going to put things in a blind trust when it was clear to everyone that was literally impossible? He has debts that are personally secured. He claims his largest assert is his name, something that cannot plausibly be sold to someone else.

                                          He absolutely could not do what he was promising to do, so why did the media, or anyone, let him lie about that…oh, wait, I just answered my own question. They let him lie about that because they let him lie about everything.

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                                          • Yup.

                                            So it looks like is arguing that we can’t use impeachment as a mechanism to enforce requirement that the President adhere to the Constitution, not on the grounds that he said he wouldn’t, and the voters accepted it [1], but on the grounds that he said he would, but the voters should have known he was full of shit.

                                            This, by the way, is showing respect for the voters.

                                            [1] Which is an argument that is already damn near self-refuting if you ask me.

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                                            • I recall, in the aftermath of the election, that telling coal miners the truth (“Those jobs aren’t coming back”) was liberal contempt, whereas lying to them (“we’re bringing back coal”) was not.

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