Lock Her Up!

Number 13 of a Series

Ah! Those were the heady days. Days when we shouted, “Lock her up,” and we cheered. Remember those days?

That’s right. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had committed egregious crimes and was going to prison. Right as soon as candidate Donald Trump took office in January 2017. And that was so long ago.

So I went to visit Mrs. Clinton in her cell in federal prison.

“She ain’t here,” the guard told me.

Not here? Did she escape?

She never arrived? Then where was she? I checked further. Perhaps her sentencing has been delayed.

To my dismay I found not only had she not been sentenced, she had not been convicted. We need to do something about that.

The trial is still on-going perhaps. What trial? was the answer. Why, the trial for all the egregious charges.

Oh, horror! She has not been charged. Donald Trump has been president since January 2017, and William Barr has been his pet Attorney General for months, and they have forgotten to file charges.

But charges for what crimes? There lies the rub. The crimes prove to be elusive. Sneaky things those crimes.

You know what my guess is? My guess is it’s Hillary Clinton’s fault. She forgot to commit the crimes. We need to lock her up.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Deplorables

Episode 32 In The Further Adventures Of An American Crime Family

The aforementioned “American Crime Family” embraces President Donald Trump, his immediate family, plus the politicians, news talking heads, and self-serving religious nuts who sleep with him. I receive several times daily briefings, which I share. Here is the latest.

DonaldJTrump.com <contact@victory.donaldtrump.com>Unsubscribe
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com

Fri, Jun 12 at 5:26 PM

John,

Wow. The Democrats have lost it.

First, they try to turn America against the police.

Then, they call to DEFUND the police (not going to happen).

And NOW, they’ve bullied television networks into taking shows about law enforcement, like Cops and Live PD, OFF the air.

The Radical Left hates America, they hate our great police, and now they even hate television!

The Liberals have gone too far in disrespecting our great law enforcement and it’s time we do something about it. We’re putting together a petition to show the Left that America will NEVER turn its back on law enforcement and to DEMAND these two great shows go back on the air.

First, I am so sorry to learn the Democrats have lost it. If Biden leading Trump by 14 percentage points nationally is losing it, then I hope some days to lose it, myself. Enough of that.

We also learn Liberals (with a capital L) have gone too far in disrespecting our great law enforcement That is definitely a shame. What is worse the liberals seem to be getting a passel of help from elements within law enforcement.

P.S.: The man died.

Yeah, that does not represent the totality of American police forces, but there is too much of it, and recent highlights in the news do not appear to be tamping it down.

Atlanta police officer shoots a black man dead at a fast-food drive-thru, authorities say

By Artemis Moshtaghian and Jay Croft, CNN
Updated 3:06 PM ET, Sat June 13, 2020

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/13/us/atlanta-police-shooting-wendys/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/13/us/atlanta-police-shooting-wendys/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/13/us/atlanta-police-shooting-wendys/index.html

So you won’t have to read the entire thing, here is a synopsis: A black man was sleeping off a drunk in a car in a fast food drive thru, and the police investigated. One thing led to another and a cop shot the man dead. Rewind, repeat, rewind …

Baby Cheeks, I don’t think Liberals (with a capital L) or the Radical Left had anything to do with this. People need to be concerned, and your fat-jowled musings are less than zero help. Back to the bunker. We will call you when it’s time to come out.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a Continuing Series

Two lawyers were arguing a case before a judge.

“Your honor, the defendant libeled my client. He wrote that my client was a thief, a sexual pervert, a philanderer, a pedophile, and a congenital liar.”

“Your honor, my client wrote all those things, but there is no indication he was referring to the claimant.”

“I beg to differ, your honor. My client is the only person who fits that description.”

The Government You Paid For

Number 66 of a Series

Trump supporters spout about how in-charge he is, making decisions on his own and refusing to consult with elitists who only want to tear this country down. They like that Donald Trump is not afraid to make those hard choices, choices that could possible offend some snowflake from the West Coast.

Ha! Donald Trump is nothing compared to Italian politicians, who are know what it takes to get things done and are ready to act, where others would hold back. Here are two screen shots from John Oliver’s show yesterday, 29 March.

Yeah, Pisano, you mess with the rules, and we’re going to singe your hide. People, you get the government you paid for.

Abusing Science

Number 57 of a series

The very concept of creationism is an abuse of science. Despite what advocates will claim, the only basis for creationism is religious dogma. Historically, creationists have long sought to introduce religious concepts into the public school systems by

  1. Claiming a legitimate scientific basis
  2. Preventing public educators from denying such claims

It’s this latter that is manifest in a bill introduced in the South Dakota Senate this year:

2020 Senate Bill 59 – Introduced

20.352.995th Legislative Session69

An Act to protect the teaching of certain scientific information.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of South Dakota:

Section 1. That a NEW SECTION be added:

13-33-1.2. Scientific information–Teachers to assist students.

No teacher may be prohibited from assisting students to understand, analyze, critique, or review, in an objective scientific manner, the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses being taught, which are aligned with the content standards established pursuant to § 13-3-48.

A note from the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) brought this to my attention. As has been pointed out before, the wording of the bill is innocuous, but the creationists employ such language from carefully considered reasoning. The bill does not require a teacher to instruct students in religious-based concepts, but should a student—perhaps one so coached by others—object when a teacher insists only natural processes be considered, then the teacher could be held in violation of this act.A scenario I visualize is this:

  • A student is coached (or not) by adults not associated with the school.
  • The student enters the classroom with the intent to bring up the matter of religious explanations for evolution.
  • The student poses the question to the teacher: “How about the theory of Intelligent Design?”
  • The teacher responds by stating Intelligent Design has no scientific basis and will not be discussed in the class.
  • The student reports this, and adults bring a legal case against the teacher and the school.

Bills of this type are routinely introduced in every legislative session in one or more of the 50 states and generally never become law. Begin a new legislative session. Repeat. Begin a new legislative session.

Abuse of science is a demon that never sleeps. I contribute to the NCSE. You should, as well.

Abusing Science

Number 46 of a series

Abuse of science is not limited to the unwashed, and political abuse is not a modern invention. In 1897 a proposed Indiana bill would have set the value for π (pi) to three (3). Presumably that would make engineering computations easier in those days without hand-held calculators. It would likely, if put to use, have also resulted in a number of engineering disasters. But we don’t do that crazy shit anymore.

Wrong, Daddy-o:

The Ohio state House of Representatives has passed the Student Religious Liberties Act, which prevents teachers from penalizing students for giving incorrect answers on tests or other schoolwork if those facts would conflict with their religious beliefs.

The relevant section reads “No school district board of education (…) shall prohibit a student from engaging in religious expression in the completion of homework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments. Assignment grades and scores shall be calculated using ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance, including any legitimate pedagogical concerns, and shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work.”

Ordinarily I would have confronted such inanity head-on and screamed my objections from the roof-tops. But then I had a second thought. This would have come in handy 55 years ago when I was taking a course in differential equations. Disregard that I aced DE, this stuff absolutely ruined my life for several miserable weeks. What if…

What if the Texas legislature, just down the street, had been aware of my misery and decided to come to my aid? I still recall Professor Walston reminding us: “Sometimes a differential equation is solved by staring at it until a solution comes to mind.” Yeah, I would liked to have been able to say, “Professor, you can take this differential equation and put it where the sun don’t shine, because my personal god, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, says the answer is always y = 5x + 3.”

You can see there are times a friendly bit of legislation can be a life saver. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Breathtaking Inanity

Number 17 of a continuing series

A conversation has been going back and forth on Facebook. It relates to a post on this site concerning this country’s remarkable rate of gun-related tragedies. Here’s the gist:

  • John Blanton We need to hear both sides. There are many who will contend we should accept the collateral damage. The problem is getting them to make that statement.
  • Daniel G. Kuttner I’ll say something like what you’re fishing for, John:

    In a free society, bad things will happen.

    It is a pipe dream to believe one can regulate and legislate utopia. Quite the opposite is the result.

    Using government to take away “their” rights results in powers which later on will be used to take awy your own.

  • John Blanton Thank you, Daniel G. Kuttner, You have stated the case more precisely than anybody else could have.
    • Daniel G. Kuttner What’s your position on it?
    • John Blanton My position is that you are giving an honest answer. Instead of saying we are safer having a proliferation of guns in society, you are saying that all these deaths represent acceptable collateral damage.
    • Daniel G. Kuttner Again you misrepresent what I said.

      “Unavoidable” is not the same as “acceptable” in my dictionary.

      I still await your statement of your position.

    • John Blanton My position is, given the proliferation of guns in society, the consequences are unavoidable. Since it is unavoidable, it must be acceptable to those who insist upon a proliferation of guns in society.
    • Daniel G. Kuttner John: (I think you know) I meant your position on “keeping and bearing” arms. That is, the right (or not) of self-protection.

      Just please don’t mislabel my position as “insisting on a proliferation of guns.”

      You use a lot of labels which seem to me loaded. Maybe you could reconsider that manner of speaking/writing, at least, if you want to appear scientific in drawing your conclusions.

    • John Blanton Daniel G. Kuttner Right now I’m sitting among strangers in a strange city, enjoying a cup of hot cocoa. I [will] post a lengthy response when I get back to my computer.
    • Daniel G. Kuttner John: Glad you’re in a pleasant place.

      No need to be lengthy on my account!

      I still don’t know if you’re pro-self defense or not.

In total, Dan wants me to state my position on the “keeping and bearing” arms, as paraphrased from the Second Amendment of the Constitution. That amendment is stated as such:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The first thing a person reading this notices is the amendment does not mention guns. It does not mention “firearms.” Hopefully that does not come as a shock to members of the National Rifle Association.

So what does the wording mean by “arms?” I contend some interpretation is required. Note at this point many fans of the Second Amendment argue daily there must be no interpretation. The right to keep and bear arms must not in any manner be infringed. So what are “arms?” What did the writers of the amendment mean? My take goes back to the initial wording, “A well regulated Militia being necessary…” The Second Amendment is meant to preserve the right to keep and bear weapons of war. Guns? Yes. Machine guns? Yes. Claymore mines? Yes.

Obviously some interpretation is required. Once fans of the Second Amendment agree on that point, then it is sort of downhill from there. The Second Amendment must be interpreted to mean that citizens on the street (not active in a well regulated militia) do not have the right to use Claymore mines for home defense.

Take this further. Not everybody should have the right to keep and bear guns. There are some people who should not be allowed near a firearm. We have such laws. Convicted felons can be and are prohibited under penalty of prosecution from having a firearm on or around themselves. Others are likewise prohibited.

A problem arises when such prohibitions are diluted to the point that is it almost impossible to keep certain people from getting hold of firearms.

  • Guns are sold individual to individual with no regulation.
  • Guns are sold at swap meets.
  • People are not penalized for having their weapons stolen.
  • People who obviously should not be allowed to touch a firearm cannot be prevented from getting hold of one. Think about people who have otherwise threatened others. Should such a person be denied for life from having a gun?

The courts have, of late, ruled in favor of very much unrestricted access to guns and also against laws that prevent carrying guns on the streets and in public places. That is the law as it stands. Dan wants to know whether I support the law.

I do support the law. Considering that in some places it is your right to carry a loaded pistol into a classroom. I think the law should be changed. If on reading the paragraphs above you agree the Second Amendment is subject to interpretation, then you should begin to think about how it should be interpreted to bring down the rate of death and injury due to guns.

Dan asks how I feel about self-defense. Dan, I’m for it. Let’s see who else has been for it.

  • Man in Florida shot the man who threw popcorn on him.
  • Man in Florida shot the teenager he thought might have a gun.
  • Retired Army major I met shot his neighbor, who was wandering in his back yard.
  • Man shot foreign student who did not understand his command to “freeze.”
  • Numerous cases of road rage escalating into deadly shootings.

Let’s get real about self-defense.

Dan says he does not advocate a proliferation of guns in society. What language would he prefer instead? In American society there is a gun for every person. Does Dan want the proliferation to be reduced? By how much?

I will wind down. Stuff coming up tomorrow. We should rejoin this conversation from time to time.

This is your president speaking.

Number 211 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States.

The Greatest Presidential Harassment in history. After spending $40,000,000 over two dark years, with unlimited access, people, resources and cooperation, highly conflicted Robert Mueller would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!

First of all, in Dallas somebody spat on Eisenhower. Somebody shot Kennedy. That is harrassment at some level.

$40 million? Mr. President, may I have the difference between $40 million and what was actually spent on the probe?

And no, by law Robert Mueller was not allowed to bring charges, no matter what he came across during the investigation. For example:

First, McGahn’s clear recollection was that the President directed him to tell Rosenstein not only that conflicts existed but also that “Mueller has to go.” McGahn is a credible witness with no motive to lie or exaggerate given the position he held in the White House.1884 McGahn spoke with the President twice and understood the directive the same way both times, making it unlikely that he misheard or misinterpreted the President’s request. In response to that request, McGahn decided to quit because he did not want to participate in events that he described as akin to the Saturday Night Massacre. He called his lawyer, drove to the White House, packed up his office, prepared to submit a resignation letter with his chief of staff, told Priebus that the President had asked him to “do crazy shit,” and informed Priebus and Bannon that he was leaving. Those acts would be a highly unusual reaction to a request to convey information to the Department of Justice.

The Washington Post. The Mueller Report . Scribner. Kindle Edition.

How many different ways are there to spell “obstruction?”

And now, for your viewing pleasure:

This is your President speaking.

Number 191 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

“It turns out to be true now, that the Department of Justice and the FBI, under President Obama, rigged the investigation for Hillary and really turned the screws on Trump, and now it looks like in a corrupt & illegal way. The facts are out now. Whole Hoax exposed.

This is comforting news. It’s good to get this whole business behind us.

Yes, tell us more about the rigged investigation of Hillary Clinton.

This is your President speaking.

Number 182 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful! This whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people who would do anything so that I could not become President. They are now exposed!

More on the rigged fraud.

This is your President speaking.

Number 179 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

“Michael Cohen asks judge for no Prison Time.” You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term? He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get…..

….his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free. He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.

Dude, why don’t you just pardon him?

This is your President speaking.

Number 162 in a series

Movie poster from Wikipedia

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!

Astounding! How many other ways are there to spell “breathtaking inanity?” With this president we have no need for late-night television.

Houston, we have a problem.

Number 3 of a series

I previously posted on an item I received in the mail from a group calling themselves Judicial Watch.. That mailing wanted me to get interested in, and to support, their efforts to further investigate past deeds of former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Their appeal had a strange appearance, since all the matters presented in their letter have since been investigated thoroughly by some of this country’s best legal minds. I hesitate to characterize their appeal as an emotional tug at my bank account, with the aim at fattening their coffers for other projects or possibly to underwrite the salaries of people on their payroll. So, I let it drop.

The subject of the most recent appeal relates to somebody’s infatuation with immigration enforcement. There are any number of federal crimes that do damage to our society, among them being espionage, money laundering, tax evasion, mail fraud, kidnapping, and bank robbery. Violation of immigration law is also a federal crime, but while the previously mentioned are felonies, entering the country illegally is a misdemeanor for the first offense. You see what I’m getting at. It’s time we made a big deal of immigration crime.

And that appears to be the thrust of this most recent Judicial Watch letter:

To: John Blanton

You are being contacted because state of Texas has been identified as a possible “sanctuary state” containing townships, cities, counties and/or regions unlawfully aiding, abetting and/or shielding illegal immigrants from federal immigration law.

The letter advocates for the involvement of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and here is a part that escapes my comprehension.

Your signature is needed because “open borders” advocates and politicians in these “sanctuary states” are using or preparing to use taxpayer-paid legal defense funds, legal action and the courts to hinder federal efforts to curtail the unlawful protection of illegal aliens in the U.S.

I need to show my support by signing and delivering an enclosed petition. Else Attorney General Paxton will not be inspired to enforce the law? And what law? Does Texas, or any state, have laws regarding illegal immigration? Somewhere in the Constitution there must be wording to the effect the federal government solely is charged with international affairs. The letter gets to the meat of the matter.

To counter these unlawful efforts to flaunt and/or evade immigration laws, the conservative public interest 501 (cX3) organization Judicial Watch is conducting a state-by-state program to investigate, expose and, where warranted, challenge in court unlawful sanctuary policies.

Your signed authorization via the enclosed AFFIRMATION OF PUBLIC SUPPORT will help Judicial Watch establish a necessary record of “in-state” public support for investigations into and judicial actions against violations of federal immigration policy and laws because they are of benefit to, and in the public interest of, the lawful citizens of said state.

Passing over the slight English language failure in the above, it is apparent that Judicial Watch wants me to throw my weight behind their endeavor. A complete reading hints they also want me to throw my money into the fray, as well.

Then begins an elaboration of the problem to be addressed:

The facts regarding the widespread efforts to aid, abet and shield illegal immigrants from the law are not in dispute. This is a purely ideological disagreement between those of us who believe we should have borders and border controls, and those who believe there should be no borders and no controls. As many as 400 regions, townships, counties and cities in every region of our country, including the vast majority of major American cities, have taken unlawful steps to offer illegal aliens some form of sanctuary; help them obstruct federal immigration law and policy; and even use tax dollars to encourage and offer legal aid to illegal immigrants, e.g.:

Followed by a summation of examples. A subsequent section of the letter reinforces the need to take action.

The consequences of illegal immigration are equally beyond dispute. Despite claims that comprehensive statistics on illegal immigrant crime are “not available” from the federal government, the disproportionate number of illegal aliens involved in drug trafficking, violent crime and gang activity is well documented in state and local jurisdictions in every region of the country:

This is followed by

a) Illegal immigrants are three times as likely to be convicted of murder as members of the general population;

b) Illegal immigrants accounted for nearly 75% of federal drug sentences in 2014 according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission;

c) In Florida, 40% of all murder convictions were criminal aliens;

d) In Los Angeles, 95% of outstanding warrants for homicide were for illegal aliens;

e) ICE reported that illegal criminal aliens released by Homeland Security during the Obama Administration accounted for 64,000 crimes, including assault, kidnapping and homicide; and

f) At various times, 25,000 illegal immigrants were serving murder sentences nationwide.

Reconciling these statements with some known facts presents difficulties. Here is something from another source:

There is no empirical evidence that immigration, including illegal immigration, increases the crime rate in the United States.[24][157] According to PolitiFact, “every expert we polled said there is a consensus among scholars that undocumented immigrants are not more likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens.”[25] Most studies have shown that illegal immigrants tend to commit less crime than natives.[26] For immigration in general, a majority of studies in the U.S. have found lower crime rates among immigrants than among non-immigrants, and that higher concentrations of immigrants are associated with lower crime rates.[158][159][160][161][162][163][164][165][166][167][168][169][170][171][172][173][174][175][176][177][178][179] Some research even suggests that increases in immigration may partly explain the reduction in the U.S. crime rate.[180][181][182][183][184][185]

A 2018 study found that undocumented immigration to the United States did not increase violent crime.[186] A 2017 study found that “Increased undocumented immigration was significantly associated with reductions in drug arrests, drug overdose deaths, and DUI arrests, net of other factors.”[187] A 2016 study finds no link between illegal immigrant populations and violent crime, although there is a small but significant association between illegal immigrants and drug-related crime.[188] A 2017 study found that “Increased undocumented immigration was significantly associated with reductions in drug arrests, drug overdose deaths, and DUI arrests, net of other factors.”[189] A 2017 study found that California’s extension of driving licenses to unauthorized immigrants “did not increase the total number of accidents or the occurrence of fatal accidents, but it did reduce the likelihood of hit and run accidents, thereby improving traffic safety and reducing costs for California drivers… providing unauthorized immigrants with access to driver’s licenses can create positive externalities for the communities in which they live.”[190] A 2018 study in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy found that by restricting the employment opportunities for unauthorized immigrants, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) likely caused an increase in crime.[191][192]

According to a 1997 report by the National Research Council, The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration, “it is difficult to draw any strong conclusions on the association between immigration and crime”.[193]

However, the item from Wikipedia has this additional part:

The Arizona Department of Corrections reported in 2010 that illegal immigrants are over-represented in the state’s prison population. In June 2010, illegal immigrants represented 14.8 percent of Arizona state prisoners, but accounted for 7 percent of the state’s overall population according to the Department of Homeland Security.[194] In addition, the data showed that illegal immigrants accounted for 40% of all the prisoners serving time in Arizona state prisons for kidnapping; 24% of those serving time for drug charges; and 13 percent of those serving time for murder.[194] Criminologist professor James Alan Fox assets that this is to be expected as illegal immigrants who tend to be poor “will have a higher rate of individuals in prison” as there is a correlation between social class and criminality, a correlation between social class and the probability to being sent to prison for the same crime as compared to people in a higher social class, and inadequate legal representation for the poor.[194]

The cause for the apparent dichotomy between the Judicial Watch statements and the above is hinted at by examining how JW crafts its words. Take their item a) above: “Illegal immigrants are three times as likely to be convicted of murder as members of the general population.” I have highlighted the word “convicted.” JW is not saying illegal immigrants are more likely to commit crimes. They are saying they are more likely to be convicted of their crimes.

Putting aside all that, I am going to interpret the letter from Judicial Watch as an appeal to my supposed alignment with the anti-immigration sentiment that pervades our politically conservative culture. And the irony is palpable.

Conservative causes and candidates receive massive support from American business owners, who tend to be conservative due to their opposition to overbearing government regulation. The irony is that illegal immigration feeds the profit line of many of these concerns. From the same Wikipedia entry:

Wal-Mart: In 2005, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $11 million to settle a federal investigation that found hundreds of illegal immigrants were hired by Wal-Mart’s cleaning contractors.[91]

Swift & Co.: In December 2006, in the largest such crackdown in American history, U.S. federal immigration authorities raided Swift & Co. meat-processing plants in six U.S. states, arresting about 1,300 illegal immigrant employees.[92]

Tyson Foods: This company was accused of actively importing illegal labor for its chicken packing plants; at trial, however, the jury acquitted the company after evidence was presented that Tyson went beyond mandated government requirements in demanding documentation for its employees.[93]

Gebbers Farms: In December 2009, U.S. immigration authorities forced this Brewster, Washington, farm known for its fruit orchards to fire more than 500 illegal workers, mostly immigrants from Mexico. Some were working with false social security cards and other false identification.[94]

The hard fact is that illegal workers do not enjoy the protection of labor laws to the extent citizens and legal workers do. The threat of exposure, arrest, and deportation prevents their complaining when employers short their wages or require them to work in unsafe environments. Employers use these circumstances to drive down wages and thereby increase profits. And the business owners vote Republican. Whether they underwrite Judicial Watch in this campaign is unknown to me.

Full disclosure: I support the government’s immigration laws. The federal government has the right to control immigration, limit the number of people allowed to enter the country on a permanent basis each year, and to set requirements for aliens who want to work here. That said, I agree that immigration is beneficial to the American economy and to the strength of our nation. We really should accept more immigrants from our nearest neighbors, including Mexico. Conservatives have exhibited a distaste for immigration from Arabic and Muslim countries, the excuse being that some of these people might be terrorists. I chuckle.

Stories I see posted on conservative sites and in mail I receive from conservative advocates zero in on illegal, sometimes heinous, acts committed by immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants. Particular note is made of incidents that involve Muslims. These conservative sources are the same ones that advocate a proliferation of deadly weapons in society, which on a daily basis accounts for more horror than a year’s worth of contribution from Muslims and from immigrants.

All this prompts an appraisal of Judicial Watch, its legitimacy, and its competence. While JW has had notable successes, its history is also marked by a number of excesses. Examples:

On August 31, 2018, Judicial Watch reported on its blog that the Justice Department “admitted” in a court filing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held no hearings regarding the surveillance application for former Trump adviser Carter Page. In their blog post, Judicial Watch linked to the court filing, which was in response to a FOIA lawsuit, but nowhere in the post was it mentioned that the court filing stated, “Specifically, FOIA staff consulted with knowledgeable subject matter experts in the Office of Intelligence. Those experts confirmed that, as is typical in proceedings before the FISC, no hearings were held with respect to the acknowledged Carter Page FISA applications, and thus no responsive transcripts exist.”[15][16] Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton appeared on Fox News that night and stated that the Justice Department said there were no hearings for the Page application, but did not mention that the DOJ said this was “typical in proceedings before the FISC.”[17] The Judicial Watch story was reported as scandalous by conservative websites, such as Gateway Pundit.[18][19] The following day, Trump tweeted about the story.[20]

Judicial Watch helped stir the conspiracy theory that Vince Foster was murdered by the Clintons.[23][14][24]

In 2010, Judicial Watch made inaccurate claims about air travel spending by Nancy Pelosi’s congressional delegation; Judicial Watch’s claims were picked up by the conservative conspiracy site WorldNetDaily.[26] Judicial Watch also made false claims about Pelosi’s air travel in 2008 as well.[27][27]

In total, Judicial Watch gives the appearance, intentional or not, of being a nutty right-wing advocacy group, living off the prejudices and fears of a like-minded segment of our society. And I enjoy receiving their mail.

Houston, we have a problem.

Number 2 of a series

I get letters. Rather, I get email. I sign up for some of the most bizarre the Internet has to offer. It’s my penance for a life of idleness and sloth. I’m feeling better now.

Last week I received an actual letter in my postal mailbox. It’s from Judicial Watch. They want me to give money. I think I will not. They presented their argument. It is not convincing. Here are some samples:

To: John Blanton

The conservative public interest organization Judicial Watch, organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal RevenueService code, “has launched’ a series of in\7Estigationsarid lawsuits into former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her staff regarding various counts of corruption, deception and concealment.

This investigation and several lawsuits remain active. As a resident of Texas in the 5th Circuit, you are being asked if you will show your support of these actions by signing and returning the enclosed AFFIRMATION OF PUBLIC SUPPORT of our investigations into Hillary Clinton.

The purpose of this public AFFIRMATION is to establish a foundation of public support in each of the twelve federal circuit court districts across the United States to substantiate sufficient public interest in the efficacy of pursuant judicial actions while demonstrating that such legal actions are of public benefit.

Your signature on this AFFIRMATION allows Judicial Watch to establish a necessary record of public support for its investigative and litigation proceedings into the public record of Hillary Clinton and her staff.

That’s the opening. There are eight pages. They tell us what it’s going to be about:

It is the contention of Judicial Watch that, in service to a self-serving agenda, former First Lady, former U.S. Senator, former U.S. Secretary of State and former candidate for President Hillary Rodham Clinton exploited the use of her office (and any other lever of public power she has maintained) to circumvent the rules of public service to finance and shape her image as a candidate for the 2016 presidential election.

What’s especially troubling is that Hillary Clinton has played this same corrupt tune (lying, obstruction, “pay for play” and graft) for nearly a quarter-century. Since 1994 Judicial Watch has had to expend enormous resources investigating Hillary Clinton.

Yes, that’s it. Concerning matters of settled jurisprudence, the organization calling itself Judicial Watch wants my support (and ultimately my money) in kicking an intire remuda, already dead. They propose—presumably after first locating the remains of Judge Crater—to resolve one or more of these pressing issues regarding Hillary Clinton:

  • Obstructing the release of records about the Whitewater land deal when her husband was running for president in 1992 (her Rose Law Firm billing records were mysteriously lost for two years and then turned up in the White House residence).
  • Refusing to tell the truth about the deadly Benghazi terrorist attack that took place on her watch as Secretary of State in 2012 and her role in the cover-up by lying about the attack to the Amer­ican people.
  • Abusing her public office to trade cash for favors — with corporate money, Russian and other foreign money, foreign government money…gobs of money, much of which is now sloshing around her “charity” that could be renamed “The Clinton Corruption Family Foundation.”
  • Permitting her 2016 presidential campaign to bankroll and market the phony “Trump Dossier” full of unsubstantiated and salacious allegations against her opponent, Donald Trump, which was corruptly used by Clinton allies in the FBI to launch the multi-million dollar, out-of-control investigation headed by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller that continues to the present day.

These are some of Clinton’s heinous crimes that must be resolved before we can get around to the serious business of figuring out how NASA faked the moon landings. More seriously, it is what comes before any one of the following:

Maybe we should all contribute to Judicial Watch, so they can clean up the Clinton mess and get around to reading President Trump’s income tax filings. I’m holding my breath.

Flash News!

I just now made a trek out into the rain and retrieved another letter from Judicial Watch. I await with anticipation the moment when I will open it and discover another trove of legal gems such as these. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

This is your President speaking.

Number 128

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it! Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!

All right. I think I have this straight now. The President of the United States, elected with the aid of a foreign power, now meets with the leader of the government that assisted in his campaign, alone, except for two interpreters.

He comes out of the meeting and announces said leader of a foreign government was not complicit in aiding his campaign, and he denounces members of this nation’s intelligence services, disparaging past members by name, calling their investigation into crimes committed by the same foreign power that assisted in his election a “witch hunt.”

And he calls football players, who kneel while the national anthem is played, unpatriotic. I now think I have a clear picture of what is going on.

The Americans

Two years ago I ditched my cable TV contract and subscribed to streaming services. That introduced me to a new world of TV offerings. One was The Americans, produced by FX and streaming on Amazon Prime Video. It’s a spy story, partially inspired by an actual spy case, the Illegals Program, which involved a Russian man and a Russian woman who took over the identities of two dead Canadian children and lived for years in the United States as Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley. Their route took them from Canada, where they assumed the identities of the dead children, to France, where Heathfield attended graduate school before the pair moved to the United States, where he enrolled in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. At that point the pair began work on their ultimate task, which was to spy on the United States government by way of identifying sensitive people in high position who could be compromised. During their time in Canada the pair produced two sons, who were never aware their parents were Russians. The couple never spoke Russian at home.

At the time Heathfield and Foley entered the United States in 2000 the FBI became aware they were spies, and the agency began intense surveillance, which culminated in indictments and expulsion in 2010. During this time there is significant divergence from the plot of The Americans. Heathfield and Foley were nothing more than spies. They performed their tasks and reported back to Russia. In the TV series the pair are Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, and they are not nice people. Despite being married, they use sexual persuasion to ensnare unwitting subjects. From the opening scenes of the pilot episode, Elizabeth, in blond disguise, has trolled a government official in a bar and is about to  go down on him in a hotel room.

They also kill people. The series is punctuated by multiple instances of victims being shot at point blank range.

A counterpoint in the plot is FBI agent Stan Beeman, who coincidentally moves in next door to the Jennings and befriends them. Ironically, and critical to the plot, Beeman is working on the investigation of Soviet (during the Cold War) agents. Beeman is cast as a weak link in the agency’s investigation, compromising a cuddlesome clerk at the Soviet embassy and surreptitiously sleeping (a euphemism) with her. His loose ways unravel the agency’s attempt to thwart the Soviet plot.

The real world of Russian spies has a similar agent. He is Peter Strzok, and he worked the case from its inception through the prosecution of Heathfield and Foley and the expulsion of a mass of Russian spies in July 2010. He rose to head up the FBI’s counter intelligence operation and most recently supervised the investigation of the Hillary Clinton email probe and the probe into Russian influence on the Donald Trump presidential campaign. As with the fictional Beeman, Agent Strzok was undone by an extra-marital dalliance.  About the time Donald Trump was running for office, Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page were having an affair. They were humping on the sly.

Bedding down with another government employee is not illegal, nor is it against office policy. Where the two went out of bounds was to use their government email service to communicate so as to keep their sub rosa business sub rosa. When Robert Mueller took over the investigation of the Russian meddling last year one of the first things he did was to learn of these surreptitious interchanges and to remove Strzok from the case. Not only was the private use of government email against office policy, the contents of some of the interchanges were unhinging. The two were vocal (electronically) critical of Donald Trump. Good policy: you can’t investigate a presidential candidate and at the same time be calling him an idiot and a threat to American democracy.

Republicans in Congress, especially in the House of Representatives, have sought from the beginning to derail the Mueller investigation, owing to its devastating revelations concerning Trump campaign officials’ involvement with Russian agents. And that brings us to the topic for today: the Rachel Maddow Show from yesterday, 11 July.

Maddow, as usual, takes some time to warm up before getting to the meat. She displays the background of Heathfield and Foley at length. Here they are in better times in Canada with their children. They used their time in Canada to acclimate to western culture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bgTheir unfortunate children were left without a country after their parents were deported.

By the time Heathfield was graduating from Harvard, the FBI was on the scene to snap a graduation photo.

If I were Heathfield I would demand my money back.

The FBI investigation was called “Operation Ghost Stories.”

Here are some details from the indictment:

The use of steganography to conceal  messages is illustrated in an actual image used by the spies and posted on-line for all to view.

A real spy thriller was in the making.

The feds obtained a warrant and bugged the couple’s Boston townhouse.

They listened to Heathfield’s and Tracey’s most intimate conversations.

The two discussed how to make use of steganography.

The feds obtained a warrant and pried into a safe deposit box in Cambridge.

They found film depicting Foley in her early 20s.

An attempt had been made to disguise the origin of the film by trimming the film margins, where manufacture information would be printed. They overlooked one negative.

It had the name of a Russian film manufacturer, Tasma.

The feds also retrieved and photographed notebooks.

One page revealed the 27-character password to employ the steganographic software used to hide messages in images.

Investigations revealed the identities of American government officials targeted by the spies.

One person of interest had information about nuclear “bunker-buster” warheads.”

The FBI has a page on Operation Ghost Stories.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bgNow, the FBI official who ran the investigation of The Americans is under fire by Republican lawmakers, who challenge the legitimacy of the Mueller investigation, and, lacking hardly anything else, Peter Strzok’s text exchanges with Lisa Page are going to have to serve as their leverage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bgCharges that Strzok engineered the investigation into Trump/Russia are ludicrous in the light of known history. The Brits spotted suspicious activity and passed it on to the Americans, where it settled into Strzok’s lap.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bgWith Mueller taking over the prosecution, the Strzok-Page exchanges came out, much to Republican delight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bgSomething not widely pushed by Republicans, is the disdain toward the Russians shown in Strzok’s texts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bgYou would not know it from Republicans in Congress, but Strzok was vocal about a range of politicians and candidates.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bgSurprisingly, his ultimate choice was a Republican.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bgPeter Strzok testified before Congress publicly today, having previously testified in a closed session. The Washington Post is shown stating,

…his political conviction that a Trump presidency would be disastrous for American national security is not based on his bias, it was based on information that was available to him.

In this conclusion, Strzok has been shown to be a sentient carbon life form rather than a political ideologue.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bgRachel Maddow illustrates some comments from Strzok’s lawyer, Aitan Goelman. These comments address Republicans’ objections that Strzok gave undue attention to Trump/Russia over the Clinton emails:

Not every FBI investigation is of equal importance to  U.S. national  security. There is simply no equivalence between an investigation  into the possible mishandling of classified information, a relatively commonplace occurrence in the FBI’s…

…and credible evidence suggesting that the presidential campaign of a major party candidate was actively colluding  with a hostile foreign power in a way that could undermine the integrity of an American Presidential [sic] election.

To require senior national security officials to profess fealty to this false equivalence is both short-sighted and dangerous.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpIfLRqz0bgA quick look at news coming out of Strzok’s testimony before Congress today reveals a circus beyond even my expectations: Vox has a bit from Texas’ own Louis Gohmert (District 1):

But Gohmert took things to another level when he brought up Strzok’s personal life.

“I’ve talked to FBI agents around the country. You’ve embarrassed them, you’ve embarrassed yourself. And I can’t help but wonder, when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eye and lie to her about and —” Gohmert said, before being drowned out by objections from Democrats.

“Mr. Chairman, this is outrageous!” someone yelled, appealing to House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte to intervene. “Shame on you!” another person shouted. Someone else called the comment “harassment of the witness.” Another Democrat yelled at Gohmert, “You need your medication!”

Wacko really has come home.

There’s going to be more from me on today’s hearing. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Don’t drop the soap.

Number 6 in a Series

It’s good advice to anybody who’s in the position of President Trump’s personal lawyer. Last week on CNN Anderson Cooper was speaking to another lawyer acquainted with Michael Cohen. Michael Avenatti, who represents porn star Stormy Daniels in a case against Cohen, continues to find interesting details related to Cohen’s business dealings.

Cohen formed Essential Consultants LLC a few days prior to writing a check to the actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. The check was for $130,000, and it was payment to Ms. Clifford in return for her agreement to not talk publicly about having humped the future president ten years previous. The Delaware company was from all appearances formed for the sole purpose of insulating Cohen from the payment. It was Essential Consultants whose name was on  the check. That would have been interesting enough, but this Delaware company-in-name-only has since developed a life of its own, and that life seems to  consist entirely of passing money from one hand to the next. More recent customers include:

  • Columbus Nova
  • Novartis Investments S.a.r.l.
  • AT&T
  • Korea Aerospace Industries.

For people who do not know, Columbus Nova is an investment company with ties to Victor Vekselberg. Mr. Vekselberg is a Russian oligarch with close ties to recurring Russian President Vladimir Putin. Novartis is a multi-national pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland. That company’s modus operandi has in the past included making multi-million dollar bribes to foreign governments. AT&T is, of course, a century-old American company that began life as Southwestern Bell Telephone company, an offshoot of a company formed by telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Full disclosure: my mother spent her working career working for this company and retired on a company pension. Upon her death I received a death benefit of several hundred dollars from the company. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is the sole major aircraft company in South Korea. Their recent claim to fame includes the company’s near collapse following revelations that company executives were fixing the books and directing cash into their pockets. A deal with American  Lockheed-Martin to build military aircraft is now in jeopardy.

Enough of that. Attorney Cohen, whose only client seems to be the President of the United States, recently had every inch of his personal space raided by the FBI seeking information relating  to special  prosecutor Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian government meddling with the 2016 election. Is Mr. Cohen in trouble? He has not been charged with any crime, although his payment to Ms. Clifford has the possibility of being in violation of campaign finance law.

The CNN interview with attorney Avenatti yielded a number of picturesque screen shots, including this one:

So, Columbus Nova is assuring us that gospodin Vekselberg was not personally involved in making payments to Michael Cohen. That is most comforting to Mr. Cohen. Provided it sticks.

In  the meantime, I have some advice for Mr. Cohen. Wherever life and circumstances take you in the next few months, keep your wits about you, and be aware at all times of your surroundings. And don’t drop the soap.

Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 32 in a series

People ask me, “How come you don’t do one of these every day?” Actually, nobody asks. But if they did ask I would have to concede I am at the point where I’m running low on energy. But for an ambitious landscaping project, I might have posted this Friday while it was still hot. Which reminds me, I need to be sure to get Barbara Jean a birthday present.

Anyhow, the following image, a screen shot from MSNBC streaming on YouTube, shows some people desperately in need of assistance.

These are the hosts (Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade) of Fox and Friends on (where else) the Fox network, and if they appear distressed to you, then you are imagining things. That’s because I watched this episode, and I can tell you that at this point in a thirty-minute sequence these people were desperate to not appear distressed, but they were squirming, and they were trying mightily to get a caller off the phone. They were also trying mightily to conceal that fact. The reason for their discomfort is the caller was their supreme, exalted patron, the President of the United States, who had just spent the major part of half an hour demonstrating why I call him the Schlemiel-in-Chief.

If you just returned from a trek through the desert on a horse with no name, then I need to inform you what the rest of the nation already knows. The Fox network show Fox and Friends comes on at 6 a.m. Eastern Time, and sometimes the President of the United States phones in, and the hosts are always glad to have him, they being his chief cheer leading squad. Last Thursday that joy appeared to last all of ten minutes. Some explanation as to why:

TRUMP: People have to understand how dishonest the news is. And in all fairness to Fox, you guys don’t always treat me great. But you treat me fairly. It’s not like Fox is perfect for me. They’re not! They’re tough. But at least it’s fair. When you look at some of the others, you look at like a CNN, they’ll have a council of seven people [audibly becoming enraged] and of the seven people, every one of them is against me! I’m saying, where do they even find these people?

BRIAN KILMEADE: I’m not your doctor, Mr. President, but I would recommend you watch less of them.

TRUMP: I don’t watch them at all! I watched last night, I tell you what. I watched leaking lying Comey last night [Steve Doocy guffaws sycophantically] and I did, I hated to do it, you know, one of the reasons, people say, “You’re still looking good, Mr. President—how do you do it?” [Ed.: No one says this, I hope]

DOOCY: All right—

There is more from Fortune:

Trump criticized the Obama administration and former Secretary of State John Kerry for not handling tensions with North Korea sooner.

“This should have been settled long before I came into office,” he said, calling Kerry “the worst negotiator” he’s ever seen.

The president said he did watch the interview with former FBI director James Comey on CNN Wednesday night.

“His performance, by the way, was horrible,” Trump said. He blasted Comey as a criminal, calling him a “leaker and a liar.”

“He is guilty of crimes,” the president said. “I did a great thing for the American people by firing him.”

On Michael Cohen pleading the fifth

“This doesn’t have to do with me, Michael is a businessman,” the president said. “I have nothing to do with his business.”

He emphasized the small role Cohen played in his own legal affairs.

“Just so you understand, I have many attorneys. So many attorneys you wouldn’t even believe it,” Trump said. “He represented me on this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, and from what I can see he did absolutely nothing wrong.”

The president hit his favorite highlights in the interview with Fox and Friends, criticizing CNN and NBC, among others, as “fake news,” and bragging about his electoral college win.

“The electoral college is set up perfectly for the Democrats,” he said, “They should never lose the electoral college and they did.”

Trump repeated the claim that the Russia investigation is an effort by Democrats to save face after an embarrassing loss, citing the number of electoral votes he won.

On how he would grade his time in office so far

“I would give myself an A+,” Trump said. “Nobody has done what I’ve been able to do and I’ve done it despite the fact that I have a phony cloud over my head that doesn’t exist.”

He spoke about accomplishments like deregulation and the Republican tax bill, but mostly emphasized the challenges he’s faced during his first year.

“I’m fighting a battle against a horrible group of deep-seated people — drain the swamp — that are coming up with all sorts of phony charges against me and they’re not bringing up real charges against the other side,” the president said. “So we have a phony deal going on and it’s a cloud over my head. And I’ve been able to really escape that cloud, because the message now everyone knows now it’s a fix, it’s a witch hunt.”

From Vanity Fair:

Doocy, Kilmeade, and Earhardt endured the deluge heroically, fidgeting slightly at times, and offering small laughs as they encouraged the president and tried to keep him on track. The interview went off the rails, however, when the Fox hosts asked Trump about the Russia investigation dogging his presidency, and whether he would agree to interview with Mueller:

“Well, if I can. The problem is that it’s such a—if you take a look, they’re so conflicted, the people that are doing the investigation. You have 13 people that are Democrats, you have Hillary Clinton people, you have people that worked on Hillary Clinton’s foundation. They’re all—I don’t mean Democrats. I mean, like, the real deal. And then you look at the phony Lisa Page and [Peter] Strzok and the memos back and forth and the F.B.I.—and by the way, you take a poll at the F.B.I. I love the F.B.I.; the F.B.I. loves me. But the top people at the F.B.I., headed by Comey, were crooked.”

“You look at the corruption at the top of the F.B.I.—it’s a disgrace,” Trump continued, practically yelling, as the Fox hosts stared ahead nervously. “And our Justice Department—which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t—our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia. There is no collusion with me, and everyone knows it.”

As the Fox & Friends control room may have guessed, Trump’s burning anger could come at the expense of his current legal-defense strategy. With Mueller reportedly investigating the president and his associates for obstruction of justice in the Russian collusion probe, Trump’s lawyers have urged him to stay quiet about the special counsel’s work and allow his investigation to go forward. By impugning the F.B.I. and threatening to intervene at the Justice Department, Trump may have just given his adversaries more legal ammunition. He may also have undermined his case in more roundabout ways: at another point, he referred to his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen as having done a “tiny, tiny little fraction of my legal work”—an apparent attempt to distance himself from Cohen, who he admitted represented him in “this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.” Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s lawyer, immediately called the admission a “gift from the heavens” and “hugely damaging”: not only did Trump’s statement suggest he was aware that Cohen had paid hush money to Daniels, it also undercut Cohen’s argument that his communications with Trump, recently seized by the F.B.I., are protected by attorney-client privilege.

I find it breathtaking that three Fox TV hosts grasped something the President of the United States failed to. That is when Fox host Steve Doocy spoke words that may eventually be carved in granite.

Meyers unpacked what he called the “truly crazy rant” that was Trump’s phone interview with Fox & Friends on Thursday morning. It was a conversation in which the Commander-in-Chief “rambled on for so long about so many random topics that at one point the Fox & Friends hosts said they were the ones who were running out of time,” Meyers said — before cutting to footage of the Fox & Friends hosts’ deflating expressions and Steve Doocy interrupting Trump to say, “We’re running out of time.” [Emphasis added]

On the first level Doocy was wanting to get the President of the United States off the air, back into his box, and safe from American ears. On another level Doocy may have offered up a prophecy. We [Fox and Trump] are running out of time. There is only so much longer this comedy can go on before it is dragged down by the sheer weight of its lunacy.

In the meantime, President Trump has trapped himself with his own words. Two hours after this bit flapped publicly, Justice Department lawyers handed into a judge an argument that the President’s words have unraveled his claims for attorney-client privilege in the investigation of his lawyer, Michael Cohen.

 

In particular, the letter to Kimba M. Wood United States District Judge Southern District of New York, government lawyers used the President’s language from the Fox and Friends interview against his case.

2 If Cohen’s request for a privilege log were to be granted, there is no reason the Government’s Investigative Team could not review the privilege log.
3 As the Court is aware, after originally stating that the Government seized “thousands, if not millions,” of pages of privileged documents, Cohen subsequently identified three current clients.Of those three clients, one, Sean Hannity, has since said that “Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees.” Another, President Trump, reportedly said on cable television this morning that Cohen performs “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his overall legal work. These statements by two of Cohen’s three identified clients suggest that the seized materials are unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents, further supporting the importance of efficiency here.

If ever there was a definition for Schlemiel-in-Chief, then this should be enshrined.

The Government You Paid For

Number 17

Voters (and taxpayers) are rejoicing all over this land. That which was promised had been delivered. We finally have the government we paid for. And are we ever so well rewarded. Recently-elected President of the United States Donald J. Trump promised, and he has delivered.

Extraordinary! Twelve Federal Circuit Court judges confirmed, and President Trump is still in his first year in office. This accomplishment exceeds that of any other president—more than Kennedy’s and Nixon’s 11 in their first year and far ahead of President Obama’s three. What makes President Trump’s accomplishment all the more remarkable is that he had to deal with a Republican Senate and a Republican House. Of course, the House of Representatives is not involved in confirmation of judges, but I’m just throwing that out to impress you.

Additionally remarkable is the caliber of individuals being advanced to this judicial level. An example would be Matthew Spencer Petersen, which person President Trump nominated to the Court. To be sure, before a nominee can advance to actually sitting in judgment on federal cases, that person must be confirmed by the Senate, and to assure some legitimacy of such confirmation there is a proforma hearing—merely a bureaucratic exercise the nominee is required to endure before he is hustled off to his chair behind the bench. Mr Petersen’s experience with this exercise was notable.

Here is a transcript of part of the process involving Mr. Petersen. The “Kennedy” referenced in the transcript is Judiciary Committee member John Neely Kennedy (R-La.). From The Washington Post:

KENNEDY: Have any of you not tried a case to verdict in a courtroom?

(PETERSEN RAISES HIS HAND)

KENNEDY: Mr. Petersen, have you ever tried a jury trial?

PETERSEN: I have not.

KENNEDY: Civil?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: Criminal?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: Bench?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: State or federal court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

KENNEDY: Have you ever taken a deposition?

PETERSEN: I was involved in taking depositions when I was an associate at Wiley Rein when I first came out of law school. But that was —

KENNEDY: How many depositions?

PETERSEN: I’d be struggling to remember.

KENNEDY: Less than 10?

PETERSEN: Yes.

KENNEDY: Less than 5?

PETERSEN: (Pauses) Probably somewhere in that range.

KENNEDY: Have you ever tried a — taken a deposition by yourself?

PETERSEN: I believe not — no.

KENNEDY: Okay. Have you ever argued a motion in state court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

KENNEDY: Have you ever argued a motion in federal court?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: (Nods repeatedly) When’s the last time you read the Rules of Civil Procedure?

PETERSEN: The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure? I — in my current position, I obviously don’t need to stay as invested in those on a day-to-day basis, but I do try to keep up to speed. We do have at the Federal Election Commission roughly 70 attorneys who work under our guidance, including a large litigation division. And as a commissioner, we oversee that litigation, we advise them on overall legal strategy, provide recommendations and edits to briefs and so forth, and meet with them about how we’re going to handle —

KENNEDY: If I could ask you — I’m sorry to interrupt you, but we’re only given five minutes for five of you. So, when’s the last time you read the Federal Rules of Evidence?

PETERSEN: The Federal Rules of Evidence, all that way through would — well, comprehensively would have been in law school. Obviously I have been involved in — when I was an associate — that was something that we had to stay closely abreast of. And there have been some issues having to do with evidentiary issues that will cause me to examine those periodically in our oversight role for litigation at the Federal Election Commission.

KENNEDY: Well, as a trial judge, you’re obviously going to have witnesses. Can you tell me what the Daubert standard is?

PETERSEN: Sen. Kennedy, I don’t have that readily at my disposal but I would be happy to take a closer look at that. That is not something I’ve had to contend with.

KENNEDY: Do you know what a motion in limine is?

PETERSEN: Yes. I haven’t — I’m, again — my background is not in litigation — as when I was replying to Chairman [Charles] Grassley. I haven’t had to, again, do a deep dive. And I understand, and I appreciate this line of questioning. I understand the challenge that would be ahead of me if I were fortunate enough to become a district court judge. I understand that the path that many successful district court judges have taken has been a different one than I have taken. But as I mentioned in my earlier answer, I believe that the path that I have taken to be one who’s been in a decision-making role in somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 enforcement matters, overseen I don’t know how many cases in federal court the administration has been a party to during my time —

KENNEDY: Yes, I’ve read your résumé. Just for the record, do you know what a motion in limine is?

PETERSEN: I would probably not be able to give you a good definition right here at the table.

KENNEDY: Do you know what the Younger abstention doctrine is?

PETERSEN: I’ve heard of it, but I, again —

KENNEDY: How about the Pullman abstention doctrine?

PETERSEN: I — I —

KENNEDY: Y’all see that a lot in federal court. Okay, any one of you blog?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: Any of you ever blogged in support of the Ku Klux Klan?

PETERSEN: No, Senator. (Other witnesses indicate no.)

And that is so heart-warming. Isn’t this a great country? We live in a place where the President of the United States can just step outside the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania and pull somebody off the sidewalk, announcing, “How would you like to the Queen for a Day?” All right, it only a judgeship, but who’s quibbling. At long last we are getting the government we paid for.

Here’s a video: