To prosecute or not to prosecute 45

“a pattern of disregard for public order”

donald-trump-hollywod-star-behind-bars
Per CNN

President-elect Joe Biden – love the sound of that – is hoping to “avoid divisive Trump investigations.” Biden ran as a unifier, and he knows that over 74 million people voted against him. He’s told aides that he’s concerned that to prosecute djt would split the country.

I totally get it. When President Barack Obama came into office, with Biden as his Veep, he wanted to  move on “from the previous administration’s scandals and ultimately ignored President George W. Bush’s administration’s use of torture on prisoners of war taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan battles.” I grimaced at the time but understood.

So I was interested to see the take of Philip Allen Lacovara. A former counselor to the Watergate special prosecutor, he explained in the Washington Post why Biden has “no choice” but to prosecute his predecessor.

It is a sentiment shared by Andrew Weissmann, former senior attorney to special counsel Robert Mueller.

A New Day

On January 20th, 2021, “‘We’re going to be… in the situation where we no longer are talking about indicting the president but, rather, a former president, somebody who is a civilian,’ Weissmann explained. ‘And the question’s going to be: Does the rule of law apply to that person?

“‘And it’s very hard to see an argument if it is shown… that the president has committed tens of millions of dollars of tax fraud or bank fraud or both. Any other person would normally be prosecuted, then it really shouldn’t be the case that just because he becomes president, that he shouldn’t have the day in court where a jury decides whether or not he committed those crimes prior to becoming president.'”

This makes sense to me. But with the country as fractionalized as it is, many will perceive it as retaliation. Millions won’t believe Biden’s insistence that he would leave decisions up to an “independent Justice Department.” They’ll say that this is the kind of prosecutorial bullying one would expect from attorneys generals such as William Barr or John Mitchell.

Lacovara knows it may be appealing to try to turn the page on the past four years. “‘In virtually any other presidential succession, this course might be prudent and consistent with our history of peaceful transitions without recrimination, vindictiveness, or rummaging around for criminality.’

He’s Special

But the soon-to-be-former President is “‘in a category by himself,’ notes Lacovara. ‘One need not embark on a malicious hunt to identify serious criminal abuses by Trump and many of his closest aides.’ “The conduct by him and his administration showed a pattern of disregard for public order, ‘including those embedded in federal criminal statutes.'”

Weissmann responded to a “New York Times column suggested that putting Trump on trial for obstruction of justice will be perceived as Biden placing those who supported” his opponent on trial.

“‘I think that’s looking at it the wrong way. Remember, a jury is going to have to make the decision and is going to have to find proof beyond a reasonable doubt in the same way any other defendant is entitled to all of the due process rights that we have in this country.”

Assuredly, it would be wrong to “lock him up” just because he might run again in 2024. And his puffery may be a tactic to pollute any jury pool, who might believe he’s being persecuted, not just prosecuted. He is quite good at that. Still, the facts should determine what actions might be taken by federal courts.

Frankly, I hope he’s indicted in state courts. As this September 2020 article in New York magazine notes, “State laws aren’t subject to presidential pardons.” This includes if he should choose to pardon himself – don’t rule it out – his family, and others.

Give Biden access to the damn briefings

No justification for withholding the PDB

Presidential Daily Briefing
Presidential Daily Briefing

This came up in a conversation with my sisters. One of them has Trumpian friends. They are making the argument that the current regime ought not to give Joe Biden access to the Presidential Daily Briefing. Their argument is “What if they got the election wrong?” This is hurting my head.

ITEM: Presidential candidates begin to receive intelligence briefings in the immediate aftermath of the political conventions. “So when an individual becomes their party’s nominee, the briefing is offered to them… It’s an analytic briefing, so there are no… operations discussed, no covert actions discussed, no sources and methods discussed. It’s simply what do we see as the threats…why do we see it that way…how those threats evolved and where might they be heading.”

ITEM: “Such briefings had been standard practice since the candidacies of Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson… This understandable dilemma… had occurred in a great many transitions, with the outgoing administration not sure which candidate would accede to the office and thus very protective of sensitive and classified information. But… its intelligence officers [were] on the hook to provide the best and most useful available information to candidates who might soon be in the White House.”

ITEM: You’ll remember “the close 2000 election when the outcome was in doubt for more than a month after the voting. In spite of that, President Bill Clinton’s outgoing administration began intelligence briefings for George W. Bush before he was officially declared the winner.”

The Incredible Sulk  

ITEM: This regime is not allowing Biden “to receive intelligence briefings —  even those he was getting during the campaign.” In other words, IMPOTUS is even denying Biden access to the level of info that Obama gave to him before the 2016 election. This just shows pique, not any national security concerns that Biden, who used to get such information as Veep and even as the prez candidate, ought not to get them now.

Even a week ago, even Republican senators “are calling for Biden to have access to the information.”

“‘I just don’t know of any justification for withholding the briefing,’ Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, said. ‘I see no problem with that,’ said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican Party’s longest-serving senator. ‘I think so, yes,’ said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest confidants, when asked if Biden should be briefed.”

Instead, on Tuesday, he fired the director of the federal agency that vouched for the reliability of the 2020 election. In a tweet, naturally. He said that Christopher Krebs’ “recent statement defending the security of the election was ‘highly inaccurate.’ The firing of Krebs, a Trump appointee and director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, comes as Trump is… removing high-level officials seen as insufficiently loyal.”

The Biden team is locked out of key vaccine information as COVID rages. “More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” the President-elect said this week. “How do we get over 300 million Americans vaccinated? What’s the game plan? It’s a huge, huge, huge undertaking.”

Ascertainment

Per the Presidential Transition Act of 1963,  the chief duty of Emily Murphy at this moment “is to affirm the projected result of the presidential contest.” This is something “previous GSA administrators have generally done within a matter of hours of the election being called.” This action allows the incoming administration’s personnel to get busy setting up a new government.

Ascertainment is necessary for the seamless transition of power. Meanwhile, she’s looking for another job, suggesting she knows how this will play out.

The losing candidate’s false claims of “a stolen election are unoriginal, and evoke a dangerous historical precedent.” John Oliver has much useful to say about the election results. Also, check out the Weekly Sift.  Or even Randy Rainbow.

Not incidentally, the regime has “replaced the top tier of  Pentagon officials with men who have two things in common: fervent loyalty to Trump and a complete lack of qualification for their jobs.”

Oh, yeah, they’ve rushed to auction off Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling rights before the Biden inauguration. January 20, 2021, can’t come quickly enough.

Kübler-Ross and IMPOTUS defeat

 Remembering RBG

Fraud
My daughter keeps track of GOP tropes. This design is available on sweatshirts.

You know, this political season has made me exhausted. I hoped the election would settle things, though I had my doubts.

Sure enough, Attorney General Barr is acting like IMPOTUS’ personal attorney. The future ex-President removes the scientist from overseeing a key climate assessment report. The grift continues. He seems to be engaged in a scorched earth policy. If he doesn’t concede, the GSA head won’t release the mechanism for Joe Biden to be a part of an orderly transition.

But it’s more than that. The vitriol is still strong. And, as people saw on my Facebook feed that Saturday, some guy came around to attack me personally for being pleased that Biden had won. It wasn’t some random guy either, but a fellow who had been my next-door neighbor when I was growing up in Binghamton, NY. Let’s call him Greg because that’s his name.

Greg had been around trolling me in the past. But I had found him useful. It’s important, I think, to understand how others think. This time, he was hyper-critical and fairly nasty at that. He said that I didn’t vote for the man because IMPOTUS had hurt my feelings?

Well, no, I objected to him trying to wreck the very fabric of the country: the postal service, the Census, the CDC, the Justice Department (see above), the EPA, etc, etc, etc.

Greg also seemed to be offended because I was a fool not to recognize that I’m financially better off under the regime. He never used the term directly. But I sensed that he was suggesting that since black people’s unemployment was down, pre-pandemic, I was oblivious to the regime’s “greatness.”

cf RBG’s death

Here’s the thing. I don’t agree with the premise. The tax cut helped the rich far more than regular folks. But even if I had concurred, I still thought his policies, toward COVID, immigration, the environment, and so much more, plus his constant lying, were disqualifying attributes. But why pick on me? There were plenty of people who are happy that the reign of error was over.

Then I saw Remembering RBG: A Nation Ugly Cries with Desi Lydic. It was a special program from The Daily Show folks. Desi was going through the five stages of grief as described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. Although, instead of acceptance, the fifth stage is action. Not incidentally, Elizabeth Warren, as usual, offered wise counsel.

So Greg, I recognize, was grieving. He dumped on me because he sort of knew me, though I haven’t seen him in a half-century. I get it.

In my recollection, when Hillary lost in 2016, the reaction was mostly utter shock and depression, not rage. As my teenage daughter noted, in 2016, we were saying, “That can’t be true!” even as we grudgingly knew, unfortunately, it was. The losing side in 2020 has been fed the notion “It IS NOT TRUE!” (See John Oliver.) That’s a harder bridge to cross.

BTW, I remain infuriated by the continued voter suppression, particularly in Florida. The GOP won the state by about 340,000. More than twice as many released felons were disenfranchised. Maybe the Sunshine State COULD have gone the other way…

The October Surprise in 2020

“autocratic malarkey”

hydrochloroquineI woke up in the morning, and suddenly, it made sense, in a Bizarro world sort of way. Many pundits said there was no October surprise in 2020. I would disagree. The surprise was djt getting COVID.

He flies on Marine One to the hospital on a Friday. By Sunday, he’s riding around in a limo, waving to supporters. And on Monday evening, he’s back at the White House, defiantly ripping off his mask, saying “Screw you, COVID.” A week or so later, he’s off doing dozens of his rallies before tens of thousands of his adoring acolytes, including five events in four states in one day.

Now, you and I may see this as grossly irresponsible behavior, creating a bunch of possible super-spreader events. But to his fans, he is portraying Strength and Resilience.

It’s like in that old Saturday Night Live skit. He is the Arnold clones, Hans and Franz. He’s going to “Pump you up.” Meanwhile, the other guy, he says, is hiding in his basement like a “girly man.”

Never underestimate the appeal of toxic masculinity, especially mixed with half-truths. My gut says that the big blue wave didn’t come because those mysterious undecided voters leaned red. And possibly because his supporters lie to pollsters.

“The unhinged, dangerous, Democracy-destabilizing thing”

He gave a speech at the White House around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in which he prematurely declared victory. This despite the fact that “millions upon millions of legitimate votes were still being counted. As Vanity Fair noted: “The goal, in all of its authoritarian bluster, was to get out in front of a result that might not land in his favor.”

Now, “the networks quickly and aggressively called bulls**t on Trump’s remarks, either breaking away from the speech or butting in with fact-checks. ‘We are reluctant to step in but duty-bound to point out when he says, ‘We did win this election, we’ve already won,’ that’s not based in the facts at all,’ said MSNBC’s Brian Williams.

His colleague Nicolle Wallace put it this way: ‘It’s straight-up autocratic malarkey, and what we have to keep in mind is that he’s not the boss of the counting…”

“CBS threw up a graphic stating, ‘CBS NEWS IS NOT PROJECTING A WINNER IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE,’ and Norah O’Donnell described Trump as ‘castrating the facts…’

“But perhaps the most noteworthy analysis was that seen on Trump’s frenemy network, Fox News… At a historic and uncharted moment like this, it was crucial to have a respected veteran newsman like anchor Chris Wallace telling the viewers what they needed to hear.

“‘This is an extremely flammable situation, and the president just threw a match on it,’ Wallace said. ‘He hasn’t won these states. Nobody is saying he’s won the states. The states haven’t said that he’s won.’

“The question is, did the viewers believe him?”

Where he leads, they will follow

Apparently not. Because the media, he keeps telling them, is fake. This despite the fact the shift in vote count was predictable.

“Dozens of [his] angry supporters… converged on vote-counting centers in Detroit and Phoenix as the returns went against him Wednesday in the two key states. The folks pounding on the Plexiglass in Detroit chanting “Stop the Count” made the NBC News on Wednesday. I feared for the wellbeing of the election workers inside.

Demonstrators, some armed, gathered at the government office in Maricopa County, AZ yelling, “Kill Fox,” and “Count the Vote.” Reportedly, the group became so threatening that the work of counting the vote had to be ended for the evening.

What does one want in a president? I found this four-minute video from John Green (no relation) about the decency of Joe Biden rather touching. And this 20-minute piece of John Oliver on the incompetence of the coronavirus response infuriating.

But djt apparently overcame the COVID. So he must be America Strong, even if he leaves it to his idiot son-in-law to “Let the Markets Decide America’s COVID-19 Fate.”

His fans appreciate his disdain for “political correctness.” He orchestrates his rallies as places to express their anger: “Fire Fauci,” “Lock Her Up.” Yet they’re OK with him lying to them about the seriousness of the pandemic, pushing conspiracy theories, dismissing climate change, pandering to racists, using the government for personal gain, and ruining our international reputation.

Yes, he suggests he’s for individual liberty, but it’s for those who agree with him. Lower taxes but really for the rich. Smaller government when it involves human services or the environment, but not the military. 

My rational brain says his fans are crazy. But I also have to admit I’m just not experiencing his persona the same way as they do. And it’s not just the one person but Trumpism I just don’t grok.

Octoberish rambling: Road to 270

Many Tom Lehrer lyrics to the public domain. 

election_screen_time
election screen time per xkcd. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

Road to 270 map

He’d Waited Decades to Argue His Innocence. She Was a Judge Who Believed in Second Chances. Nobody Knew She Suffered from Alzheimer’s.

Franklin Graham Goes Apoplectic Over Pope’s Push for Civil Unions for Gays.

Talk To Your Boss About Burnout Before It’s an Emergency.

Hidden cameras and secret trackers reveal where Amazon returns end up

TELL ME MORE WITH KELLY CORRIGAN: Bryan Stevenson

MyHeritage vs 23andMe vs AncestryDNA – Battle of the Titans 2000

The Town That Went Feral

Yeah,  thanks, Zoom

The Commercial that Killed a Fast Food Chain – Rax

Game show legend  Tom Kennedy, host of ‘Name That Tune,’ dies at 93

Five Nouns You Didn’t Realize Were Also Verbs

The 25 most spectacular branding fails of the last 25 years

Mistakes You’re Making When Reheating Leftovers  That Could Make You Sick

These Are America’s Favorite Halloween Candies By State And Starburst Tops The List

Now I Know: The Most Dangerous Pole Dance and Why Penguins Are a Laughing Matter and The Greatest Soccer Player Who Never Was and The Cheetos Challenge and Where the Cows Go and When Abraham Lincoln Lost New Jersey (and Won Anyway) and  Big Yellow Man Washed Ashore  on the Beach and  Where Men and Women Literally Don’t Speak the Same Language

Coronavirus

How to fight the COVID-19 ‘infodemic’

Dynamic Change of COVID-19 Seroprevalence among Asymptomatic Population in Tokyo

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The  World Health Organization

Evidence Points to  Role of Blood Type in COVID-19

The US Is Missing a Chance to Tackle Climate Crisis and Pandemic Relief Together

Airport enlists Sniffer Dogs to Test for COVID-19

Analysis Shows Spike in Cases After Numerous Trump Rallies

Wear A Mask (Be Our Guest Parody)

IMPOTUS’ scorched earth policy

Executive Order Letting Him Purge Thousands of Federal Workers for Disloyalty

He demands Barr arrest foes and it hardly makes a ripple

Kavanaugh Parrots His Mail-In Ballot Lies as SCOTUS Bars Extension of Wisconsin Deadline

Lincoln Project Burns Fox News Phonies And Their ‘Trump TV’ National Memo

John Oliver on his immigration policies -‘Truly disciplined about being truly evil’

In the deluded mindset of Trumpworld’s denizens,  wearing a mask is: a) a sign of weakness, and b) a sign of, somehow, being a woman—which is itself seen, by them, as equivalent to weakness.

 He Confides His Feelings About ‘A Female President’  

Columbia University study shows that over 130,000 COVID-19 deaths could have been avoided with a more robust pandemic response

Got the Best COVID Treatment. For the Rest of Us He Wants “Herd Immunity.”

He’s their monster.  But suddenly Senate Republicans have never heard of him

A Radical Proposal  for Dealing with His Supporters After Biden Wins

The Administration’s Racial Bias — As a Black veteran, I can’t remain silent

The NYT’s shocking report on family separation

 

British Writer Pens The Best Description Of Trump I’ve Read

MUSIC

Eddie Van Halen, Hall of Famer Who Revolutionized the Guitar, Dead at 65

Coverville:  1329: The Eddie Van Halen Tribute and 1330: John Lennon Cover Story V 

Live From SpragueLand Episode 11: Peter Sprague Plays The Beatles 

Rhythm’s In the Melody  – Soulsha

Brahms – Sextet in G major  – Park | Yoo | Chang | Ullery | deMaine | Kim

i carry your heart by Eric Whitacre.

Pop Psalms: Once in a Lifetime  – Talking Heads

Italian folksong The Carnival of Venice, played by Wynton Marsalis and the Eastman Wind Ensemble

Sounds from St. Olaf – Episode 2:  Cubano Be, Cubano Bop  Jazz at St. Olaf

My Old Flame – Spike Jones, with Paul Frees imitating Peter Lorre

Tom Lehrer is officially releasing the lyrics to many of his songs into the public domain. 

Sean Ono Lennon talks with Elton John, Julian Lennon, and Paul McCarney about John Lennon. Part 1 and Part 2