It was a bad day for Trump. It was a far worse day for Judge Cannon in Florida. The appeals court ruled that every element of Judge Cannon’s ruling was incorrect, and totally agreed with the DoJ in every particular.

Trump’s declassification argument was ruled (1) unproved; and (2) even if it had been proved, irrelevant. It is irrelevant for two reasons: (1) declassification does not impact the content of the documents, and none of the cited criminal statutes are affected by whether any documents are classified; (2) even if everything was declassified, the documents would still belong to the United States, not to Trump, and the government agents therefore had the right, and obligation, to seize them.

The appeal was reviewed by a three-judge panel, two of whom were Trump appointees.

There is another issue with declassification that nobody has mentioned but (surprisingly) Bill Barr. If Trump did in fact declassify some documents that include material that needs to be secret for the security of the United States, thus making them accessible to anyone through the freedom of information act, that would be an act of recklessness more dangerous than anything else Trump has ever done.

To make an extreme example, suppose some documents showed that Al-Qaeda was developing a nuclear weapon, based on a tip by our spy within Al Qaeda. If declassification allowed Al-Qaeda to find out about the spy and to move their base of operations, and thus to continue the operation while eliminating our eyes on it, that would be providing aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States.

Declassifying that kind of information would meet the precise constitutional definition of treason. If I were in his shoes, I’d be less concerned with a charge of mishandling some papers than a charge of treason. I think it would be wise of him to drop that “I declassified everything” argument.

But then again, when has he ever been wise?

Note: The fact that somebody has the POWER to do something does not automatically make it legal. A President of the United States has pretty much unlimited power to grant federal pardons, but if he offered to grant pardons for ten million dollars each, it would still be corrupt and would be prosecuted (after the President left office) under the RICO and other statutes.

Similarly, the Vice-President has the POWER to break a tie in the Senate, but if she were to do so in return for a massive kickback from the Pharma companies, it would be criminal.

The same logic applies to declassification. If the Presidential declassification of a necessarily secret document provides aid and comfort to America’s enemies … well, he has the POWER to do that, but it could be an act of treason.

(Those are hypothetical arguments. I have no idea what is actually in the secret papers because … well, mainly because if a schmuck like me knew, they wouldn’t be very secret, would they?)

HUMOROUS SIDEBAR: I assume that back in his school days, Trump’s excuse for not having his homework was that he did it in his head. Today he said there is no documentation of declassification because he did it in his head!

“If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, ‘It’s declassified.’ Even by thinking about it.”

He also speculated that the FBI may have been looking in his desk for the missing Hilary Clinton e-mails, a speculation which is utterly demented even by his own lofty standards.


The Presidential Records Act is clear in one way: Trump absolutely does not have the right to retain any of his Presidential records in his personal possession. In that regard at least, there is no debate. The rest of the issues are complicated.

In simplest terms, while Trump clearly does not have the right to possess the documents, he may be able to keep most people from accessing them.

The archivist can’t just allow public access to records without warning. If he is to make a previously undisclosed document public, he must make certain filings to that effect, including a notice to the affected former President, who has a certain time period to file his claims of privilege.

However …

The current President is the one who determines whether to uphold a former President’s claim. Executive privilege is held by the current executive branch, not by a private citizen, so Trump’s claim of privilege is valid only if Biden upholds it, which he might well do if it involves secret matters of national security, but which he obviously would not do if it involves Trump committing or conspiring to commit a crime. In between those two clear-cut extremes, there may be many shades of gray.

However …

Biden’s decision can be appealed, and the archivist can be forbidden by a court order from making the documents public.

(c)

(1) If a claim of constitutionally based privilege against disclosure of a Presidential record (or reasonably segregable part of a record) is asserted under subsection (b) by a former President, the Archivist shall consult with the incumbent President, as soon as practicable during the period specified in paragraph (2)(A), to determine whether the incumbent President will uphold the claim asserted by the former President.

(2) Not later than the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date of which the Archivist receives notification from a former President on the assertion of a claim of constitutionally based privilege against disclosure, the Archivist shall provide notice to the former President and the public of the decision of the incumbent President under paragraph (1) regarding the claim.

If the incumbent President determines not to uphold the claim of privilege asserted by the former President, the Archivist shall release the Presidential record subject to the claim at the end of the 90-day period beginning on the date on which the Archivist received notification of the claim, unless otherwise directed by a court order in an action initiated by the former President.

However …

Even if a former President’s claims of privilege are upheld, his records can still be accessed as evidence in a criminal proceeding (subject to a court order), and those records are always available to the current President, since he needs them to conduct the duties of his office. (Most obviously, the current President can’t know whether to uphold a predecessor’s claim of privilege on a specific document if he doesn’t know what is in the document.)

In summary, there is no procedure that will allow Trump to regain possession of the documents, and there is no procedure that will allow Trump to shelter the documents from Biden’s eyes, but Trump may be able to keep Congress, the press and the public from access to those documents, subject to review by Biden and the courts.

“Sean Hannity claims that Trump being sent to jail would not necessarily be a road block of any kind in terms of him deciding to run for president in 2024.”

Interesting point and basically correct.

Eugene V. Debs was in a penitentiary, serving a ten-year sentence, when he lost the 1920 presidential election.

Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law, a pre-eminent constitutional scholar, has pointed out that Trump could run and even govern from his cell, quipping that Trump could even deliver the State of the Union address ‘via Zoom while wearing orange prison garb.’” Other legal scholars seem to be in unanimous agreement.

The original Constitution, amended by the 14th and 25th Amendments, covers the qualifications for the office of President, as well as the reasons and procedures for removing him or her. The bottom line is this: Political office is the one job where the candidate is not required to have any employment-related qualifications. You don’t need an education. You don’t need to be intelligent. You don’t need to be sane. You don’t need a clean criminal record. You can literally be in jail. As long as you will turn 35 before assuming office, have lived in the country for at least 14 years, and are a native-born citizen, you’re golden to be President as long as you win the electoral college. Basically, the President of the USA has a lower bar to clear than a KwikStop night clerk.

The 14th amendment does add another requirement:

No person shall hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.

So Trump could be disqualified if he is convicted of that specific crime.

Some liberals have quoted 18 U.S. Code § 2071, subsection b, to say that Trump could be disqualified for mishandling the documents sought in the Mar-a-Lago raid, to wit:

Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.

While it is technically correct that Trump could have violated this law, and that a conviction would disqualify him under the law’s terms, that paragraph is clearly unconstitutional. If Trump were convicted of that and wanted to run for President again, he would petition the courts, and the Supreme Court would allow him to run without even debating it. The Constitution specifies the requirements to install or remove a President, and the Congress can’t declare new procedures on its own. That’s obviously a violation of the separation of powers, but over and above that it’s just plain silly. If the Congress had unchallenged power to establish new requirements for the Presidency, today’s Democrats could write a new law disqualifying anyone who was over 180 pounds. Such shenanigans are unconstitutional, and the Constitution itself is difficult to amend.

“The former vice president and other prominent Republicans are not only praising the end of Roe v. Wade but signaling bigger plans to strip women of their rights”

I don’t doubt that he sincerely believes this to be right, but there is more than his moral conviction behind this public declaration. In pursuing the 2024 nomination, Pence is looking for a strategic differentiation from Trump and DeSantis, and this is an obvious appeal to the powerful evangelical base of the conservative movement.

Given that conservatives are feeling their oats because of the current configuration of the Supremes, many are wondering which other “unenumerated rights” may be threatened because they are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

Clarence Thomas seems to have his sights set on other cases involving the right to privacy:

  • The right to contraception that the court set out in 1965 in Griswold v. Connecticut.
  • The court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas that the Constitution prevents states from criminalizing private homosexual conduct
  • The court’s declaration in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) that gay individuals may marry the person of their choosing.

Thomas’s interest in Obergefell is an especially interesting one, since a direct precedent of that decision is Loving v. Virginia (1967), in which the court struck down Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. In Obergefell, the Supreme Court invoked Loving, among other cases, as precedent for its holding that states are required to allow people to marry whom they choose, under both the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause.

Thomas is a black person married to a white person – the very situation that led to the conviction of the Lovings, which was overturned by the decision of the Supremes! If Loving were to be challenged, would Thomas have to recuse himself?

——————

Yes, that’s right. It seems impossible to believe, even for those of us who have lived through all the turbulent subsequent years, but as recently as when I was in college, Virginia had a law forbidding interracial marriage.

Trump’s personal vendetta against Brian Kemp will have to wait for another day. Kemp tripled Perdue’s vote count – and then some – despite Trump’s whole-hearted opposition! Kemp won every county in the state.

The Georgia gubernatorial election will pit two of Trump’s mortal enemies in opposition. (Kemp vs Stacy Abrams) I have to think he will abstain from that choice. That’d be like Superman making a choice between Luthor and Brainiac.

Nearly 60 per cent of US voters would back independent candidate over Biden or Trump

Ross Perot made the mistake of being born too early and having to run against two fairly popular candidates. If he were alive now, he could probably beat these two! Come to think of it, I don’t think there is anything in the Constitution that requires the candidate to be alive.

Speaking of not being alive … I don’t remember how to do actuarial calculations, but I wonder about the odds that both Biden and Trump will be alive in November, 2024. They are both elderly. Biden looks more feeble every day, and Trump is obese. That would be an interesting prop bet for those online gambling sites.

You political junkies know how important this was. The future of Ukraine, the future of NATO, and maybe even the future of the European Union hung in the balance. Macron’s opponent is a pro-Putin right-winger.

He did win by a comfortable 16-17 points or so, but consider this: (1) he defeated the same woman by 32 points the last time they faced off; (2) 41% of the French people voted for a pro-Putin candidate during a Putin-ordered war. We live in troubled times.

I can’t see how this position could be in his interest.

OK, let’s say he’s right.

Now let’s assume Trump runs against Kamala Harris in 2024 and beats her fair and square.

According to his theory, barring any new legislation to the contrary, Vice-President Kamala Harris has the authority to reject any slate of electors she has any question about, accepting instead alternate electors beholden to her, thus installing herself as President!

(That’s a pretty sweet authority – essentially the right of any party to hold power forever!)

There has been a lot of talk about sanctions against Russia for a Ukrainian invasion, and what Russia may do in rebuttal. I have read a lot about how the Russians may engage in monumental hacking attacks, or how they may cut off Europe’s critical fuel supplies.

What I have not read is this: Russia and its evil half-brother Kazakhstan supply 38% of America’s uranium. Uzbekistan, where my family comes from, is not as subservient to Russia, but they would have to comply if Russia made them an offer they can’t refuse, and they supply another 8% of America’s needs. All told, that’s nearly half of our uranium that Russia can control if it chooses to.

The United States has 56 nuclear power plants supplying power to 28 different states. Together those plants supply about a fifth of all power in the United States. If Russia and Kazakhstan were to impose an embargo on the sale of Uranium to the USA, it would have a massive impact on energy production. America’s allies, notably Australia and Canada, have substantial uranium resources, but can’t immediately supplant the supply from Russia and its allies. Similarly, nuclear power can eventually be replaced by other forms of energy, but not overnight. If Russia decided to take the most dramatic action and cut America off, a disruption like this could create chaos in the stock market, and could wreak havoc on everyday life in certain parts of the country.

Russia and the Kazakhs may not want to do this because they make a profit selling that uranium to the USA, so an embargo is a lose-lose, but they can do it if they feel it is necessary.

And you may have read this somewhere – Mr. Putin is not an especially nice person.

The House committee had already received hundreds of pages of documents within hours of the ruling.

“The ruling denying Trump’s request to take up the case effectively deferred to a decision last month against him by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had concluded that Trump’s claims for executive privilege over the documents ‘would have failed even if he were the incumbent’ president, the Supreme Court noted.”

Trump’s claim was meaningless, anyway. Executive privilege only involves the President’s ability to shield certain matters from Congress or, in some cases, the judiciary and general public. So if the Supreme Court had sided with him, he could conceivably have kept the documents from Congress. But here’s the rub. He could not shield the documents from the executive branch. That’s not a thing. If the courts had ruled that Trump could shield documents from Congress, Biden could have ordered his subordinates to place everything online immediately (probably with some redactions), in which case the House committee would have had access to all of it anyway. Trump undoubtedly realized all of that, and that everything would eventually come out, but I assume his strategy was to stall for time on any evidence not in his control, while destroying any evidence in his control before it can be subpoenaed. (That’s almost always his strategy, and has been since long before he became a politician.)

She was sworn in tonight.

Pretty interesting story behind it.

Her personal back story is pretty inspiring. Her parents are Haitian refugees who worked low-level jobs (taxi driver and maid), but she made it all the way through law school and had been working as the CEO of Trinity Health. I’m not enthused about her for several reasons, but you would expect that she would be a strong candidate in a predominately Black congressional district, and you’d be right. She was essentially guaranteed a victory against any Republican. She probably would have won at least 60-40 if she had run against Jesus.

Now the Republicans couldn’t risk having one of their rising stars get slaughtered in an election, so they had to throw in a sacrificial lamb. This is the same theory that caused the 6th man on our high school golf team to play against John Calabria and Terry Diehl, two future PGA touring pros who went to two of our rival schools. Obviously our very best guy, who might shoot a 79 on his best day, was going to get killed by Calabria or Diehl, who played consistently under par on the courses we played. (If I remember right, Diehl first broke par on the Genesee Valley Course when he was 12! I remember thinking it must be a misprint.) So we just moved each of our 1-5 guys down one slot, and threw our weakest guy in against the two aces.

Who was the sacrificial lamb in the election? Quite a troll. An ex-con with quite a rap sheet, and a former drug addict who proudly displays his love of the Confederate “stars and bars.” His preferences include a preference for secession along the Mason-Dixon line.

Because black voters love that shit!

Well, you can’t accuse him of pandering!

At the time he filed his candidacy, he didn’t even have a driver’s license, because it had been suspended for a careless driving citation. Moreover, his ex-wife had filed a police report against him on Nov. 6, 2020, in which she alleged she feared for her safety. According to the report, she was told by a friend of hers that Mariner was “losing it” and wanted to take it out on his wife. “I’m just gonna tie her up, kidnap her and take her to the mountains to get her straight.”

A real boy scout. He probably even knew the correct knots to tie her up.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. He may not even have been legally eligible to run. Article VI, Section 4, of the Florida Constitution states that, “No person convicted of a felony … shall be qualified to vote or hold office.” It would be up to the courts to settle that. It’s not clear whether that provision has been overridden by an amendment. It’s not even clear whether that provision in the Florida constitution could legally apply to a federal office, since the U.S. Constitution specifically defines the requirements for the House, and it’s not clear whether the states can add additional requirements. This is a complicated matter, and not so obvious as I implied at first.

Be that as it may, you can probably guess how the election came out. The woman whose parents worked their asses off to escape poverty, enabling her to get a law degree and become a CEO, won overwhelmingly, about 4-to-1. The Confederate Flag guy got 19%. It is probably not completely coincidental that the white population of that district is (wait for it) … 19%.

So far, no surprises. That would be the end of the story in a rational world. But we don’t live in such a world any longer. All reality is backwards. The troll refused to concede the election and filed lawsuits alleging ballot issues in two areas. As if it mattered. The guy didn’t even get 20% of the vote!

His explanation makes no sense to me.

“Now they called the race — I did not win, so they say, but that does not mean that they lost either.”

OK.

His general state of confusion is further addled by what appears to be virtual illiteracy, based on his Facebook posts, which are often so baffling that one can’t tell what he’s trying to say.

“I’m 100% certain that when Dr. Martin Luther King gave this speech (the- ‘I have a dream…’ speech), he wasn’t talking about blaming disparities in the black community on ‘white privelage’. Today, the two most important issue to defeat are fatherless homes, especially in the black community, and stopping the left from using the black community as political pawns … I’ll be called a Nazi, and you’ll be called an Uncle Tom if you don’t look like me, but say what I.”

I couldn’t find any mention of his educational level in any of his biographical material. I’m guessing that a Ph.D. from the Yale classics department is probably not in the cards.

—-

“Gee, I’m kind of a dumb, illiterate white guy with multiple felony convictions who may not be eligible to hold the office I’m running for. I openly worship the Confederacy in a predominately Black district. I just can’t believe I lost! It must be fraud!”

The Man of La Manchin averred: “I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there. This is a no.”

The Democrats were ecstatic after they won those two Senate seats in Georgia, thinking they were in the catbird’s seat, but that was all an illusion. The situation is better for them than if they had lost those seats, but the 50-50 stalemate in the Senate has made Manchin the most powerful person in America. Manchin was sent to Washington by a mere 290,000 voters, yet he now wields more power than Biden, who got 81 million votes. Nobody would be saying a word about Manchin if the Democrats had lost those two Georgia seats. If that had happened, only serious political junkies would even be able to name a senator from West Virginia. (I have no idea who the other one is.) Now everyone who watches TV news or reads a paper will stand a tip-toe when he is named, and rouse him at the name of Manchin. Talk about a guy in the right place at the right time! (Or the opposite, depending on your politics.)

“He’s got to condemn this shit ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough,” Trump Jr. wrote to Meadows.

“I’m pushing it hard,” Meadows replied. “I agree.”

“We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now,” Trump Jr. continued. “It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.”

WTF? You have to agree with Junior’s thought process – but at the same time, you have to wonder why he did not just talk or text to his father directly. Mary Trump’s answer: “Cowardice. Because Donny knew that the message he was delivering was the message his father did not want to hear.”

Her answer seems logical, but I’d like to hear Junior’s own answer to the same query. Their family dynamic is fascinating. Did Junior first try to contact his dad directly, only to find his call screened? Were there texts from Junior to Senior that went unanswered before the outreach to Meadows? Does Eric know how to text? Inquiring minds want to know.

It seems that House Democrats are undeterred by this finding. It “is unlikely to stop House Democrats from approving the bill as soon as Thursday evening.”



This may not sound so dramatic, but if they pass it as is, the situation could be disastrous for the Democrats in two ways:

1. The Republicans have yet another reason to accuse Biden of being weak and ineffectual because he promised that this bill would be fully funded. Chop a few more points off that sinking approval rating.

2. The bill can’t pass the Senate in that form because Manchin specifically said he won’t add to the deficit. This means that the negotiations and squabbling will begin all over again, with the Democrats continuing to show the nation’s undecided and independent voters that they are just going to keep jabbering about this bill, and can’t get their act together.

As this independent looks at it, I’m looking at a choice between the party that wants to bring a copy of Balzac to a gunfight, and the party that wants to bring an AK-47 to a book discussion club.

So here’s what is happening in the Philippines:

In the Presidential race, Bong is running against BongBong. Even more fun, Bong’s last name is Go, and BongBong is the son of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. Oh, yeah, and there is a third major player in that race. They are running against former boxing great Manny Pacquiao. There are several other candidates as well. This match-up was precipitated by the fact that the current President, Duterte, is constitutionally forbidden to seek another term.

Now it turns kind of weird. Well, weirder. In the Philippines, the president and vice president are elected in separate contests. Duterte’s daughter unexpectedly filed to run for vice-president, even though the polls showed that she was the favorite to succeed her father in the #1 job. Meanwhile Duterte himself figured out that the constitution does not bar him from running for vice-president, so he also entered that race, thinking that his daughter would register for the presidential race. If his original plan had worked out, he could have ended up as her veep, with the family still firmly in control of the country, but because she decided to run for VP instead, Duterte was then slated to run against his daughter instead of with her. When he realized what had happened, he withdrew his VP bid and declared for the senate instead.

He’s still running ahead of Trump, but it’s getting close.

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The really telling stat in the new WaPo poll is the percentage of voters who “strongly” approve and disapprove. In late April, 34% “strongly approved” of his performance, while 35% strongly disapproved, simply reflecting the divided nature of our nation. As of now, only 19% strongly approve and a whopping 44% strongly disapprove. His support is disintegrating because those who had given him the benefit of the doubt are disenchanted and deserting.

If you study the numbers, you’ll see that there is still widespread support for his policies. The infrastructure bill has overwhelming approval, and even the framework of the expensive Build Back Better bill is widely popular in theory (58 yea, 37 nay). In short, people seem to like his ideas, but don’t think he’s the guy to pull them off.

The combination of supply chain bottlenecks, inflation and strikes is drowning out any good news he might claim in other arenas. Yes, he has problems at the border and with government gridlock and the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, but the economy is the big enchilada. Only 29% of adults say they have a positive view of the economy. Biden could single-handedly cure COVID, re-build all of America’s bridges with his bare hands, stop global warming, and get a full-throated endorsement from Jesus in his second coming, but if 70% of Americans view the economy negatively, he’s still in one-term Carter Country.