Well — As Trump Tweets This Morning That SNL And The Media Are “Unfair” To His Presidency…

December 16, 2018 - Leave a Response

. . .[A link to 45’s unhinged tweet, of a few minutes ago.] Let’s all of us — here, in Camp Reality — enjoy SNL’s all star “Wonderful Life” send-up edition of a cold open:

And. . . an “equal time” throwback to Halloween 2007:

Now that’s hilarious — but more somberly, a seven year old girl from Guatemala. . . would still be alive, if Donald Trump ended up in Pottersville, instead of Bedford Falls. Onward.



Texas ACA Charade. Yawn.

December 15, 2018 - Leave a Response

[This was pecked out, and gingerly too, on a phone screen — excuse any typos.] It scarcely needs mentioning, but a trial level federal judge in Texas has ruled (but stayed his ruling, pending appeal), that all of the ACA is unconstitutional.

This ruling is silly. Simply. . . silly.

At least four higher federal courts, including the US Supreme Court, previously ruled the mandate (according to post 2016 Congressional intentions, no less), may be separated from the overall ACA scheme. And those courts have all done so. [A less than charitable take — on the judge’s decision — might be that he intended, by issuing it on the Friday night before today’s ACA sign up deadlines, to sow confusion — and discourage his fellow Americans from so signing up. Ugly, if accurate.]

This judge says the ACA as a whole fails, because the mandate is inseparable from it. But Congress expressly said the opposite.

This decision is a dead letter. It will mean nothing to the continued ACA process. Onward.


[U] Ms. L. Class Action (Separated Families): For Tomorrow’s Update Hearing, It Is Clear Trumpians Are Still Foot-Dragging…

December 13, 2018 - Leave a Response

UPDATED — On Thursday Night: The Washington Post is reporting tonight that a seven year old girl from Guatemala has died in ICE custody, in New Mexico, from “dehydration“. That is simply. . . premeditated murder, by neglect. Early childhood education/day care center operators in the USA get prosecuted for manslaughter for less egregious neglect. Time to indict. [End, update.]

Here is the 33 page overnight status report, in San Diego, but note that for at least 62 children still detained, the Trump agents have known for over 60 days what ought to be done (under the agreed settlement orders) — but they have simply failed to do it. They are entitled to immediate relief, to be released to their sponsor(s) — and admitted into the interior of the United States. NOW.

See footnote 6 on page 21:

. . . .The Steering Committee has submitted to the government 87 final reunification preferences indicating a waiver of reunification, and of these 87 final preferences, 78 were submitted to the government by the Steering Committee 60 or more days ago as of Wednesday, December 12. Furthermore, of these 78 final preferences that were submitted 60 or more days ago, 62 identify a specific sponsor in the United States for ORR purposes. These 62 children remain in ORR custody. . . .

This is simply an intentional crime against humanity — ongoing — expressly directed (on US soil, no less) by the (for now) sitting President of the United States. There is no other reasonable explanation. I am beyond disgusted. Onward to Friday’s hearing, then, in San Diego.


A Full 40 Years Ago, This Morning… First US Coin Featuring A Woman

December 13, 2018 - Leave a Response

I nominally write this morning to celebrate Susan B. Anthony’s legacy — first struck into silver, exactly 40 years ago this morning at US Mints — in Denver and Philadelphia — in 1978.

And sadly, it seems almost that long ago that we were seriously talking about the next woman likely to appear as the face of a denomination of US currency — though it was only 2016. Appalling — how far we have slipped (no one expects Mnuchin to move on this):

. . . .Lew also announced Wednesday that Andrew Jackson will move from the front of the $20 to the back, making way for Tubman. She’ll become the first black woman ever to front a U.S. banknote.

Tubman, who died in 1913 at the age of 91, escaped slavery in the south and eventually led hundreds of escaped slaves to freedom as a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. After the slaves were freed, Tubman was a staunch supporter of a woman’s right to vote. . . .

“What she did to free people on an individual basis and what she did afterward,” Lew said. “That’s a legacy of what an individual can do in a democracy. . . .”

And two days ago, we all saw what happens when a strong, self-assured — and unflappable woman confronts a small handed despot — in the Oval Office. Congrats, Speaker Pelosi. Stay the course, and we may yet see Ms. Tubman on US currency, before 2020.

Onward, to a train, and a still-hoped-for more just, more inclusive society — on a clear, chilly December morning. . . .


By Monday, We Will Have The Up To Now Uniformly Victorious Plaintiffs’ Reply To Team Trump’s SCOTUS Asylum Appeal Request…

December 12, 2018 - Leave a Response

I find the SCOTUSblog extremely useful.

Here is the sublime Amy Howe, overnight — on 45’s attempt to have the Supremes place a stay on the TRO that presently blocks his would be proclamation (which vainly attempts an “end run“, around Congress — by lawlessly essentially barring asylee applications, at our Southern Border). [My last word on this, here. But do search “East Bay Sanctuary” if you want to read 20 plus posts, on the history of the litigation.]

. . . .Last month President Donald Trump blasted a ruling by a federal judge in San Francisco that blocked the government from enforcing a rule that would prohibit immigrants who enter the country illegally from requesting asylum. Trump criticized U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, who issued the order, as an “Obama judge” and predicted that the government would “win that case in the Supreme Court of the United States.” Trump’s comments elicited a rare public rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts. . . .

The government’s request went to Justice Elena Kagan, who handles emergency filings from the geographic area that includes California. Soon after the request was filed, Kagan directed the challengers to file a response by noon on December 17. She could rule on the request herself, but she is more likely to refer it to the full court. . . .

Onward — Trump is very likely to be denied here, at the Supremes, and be forced to return to the trial court in San Francisco, on a fully-vetted permanent injunction proceeding (predicts Condor). I will post both arguments, once the plaintiffs’ is filed on Monday, right here. But for now, I will not give any bandwidth, or oxygen — to piles of Trumpian nonsense, in legal pleadings — unanswered. Smiling — into the thankfully no longer quaking sunshine, hunting tilapia taco trucks lobster bisque after court — later, today. . . .


Perhaps Kavanaugh Is… A “Non-Activist” Conservative RE-actionary.

December 11, 2018 - Leave a Response

A long-term friend of the blog asked, in comments, about the pair of Planned Parenthood certiorari denials yesterday. I decided to expand on my analysis / answer (the short version of which may be found in the comments, to the last one). [My vintage 2015-16 era related thoughts may be found here and here. Thus, the graphic at right is derived from some older ones.] On to it, then:

First, here is Justice Thomas — in a four page PDF, complaining that the Supremes didn’t vote to take the twin cases (only four votes are required to place a case on the docket for ultimate argument — Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch said they wanted to take these cases). There is no published opinion denying certiorari — just the fact of denial. Since it takes four, it seems Thomas was unable to attract the votes of the Chief Justice — Roberts (no surprise there, per my comment of yesterday). But he was also unable to persuade. . . (what is widely presumed to be his fellow traveler) Kavanaugh.

Some conservative watchers have suggested that Kavanaugh didn’t want to weigh in at all (preposterously, I think), since he hadn’t fully prepped (by reading. . . the petitions?!), or. . . because he didn’t want his first appearance to be that of a anti-abortion activist Justice. I think that’s a canard. [I think Kavanaugh will happily vote to take a case that challenges Roe v. Wade.]

No, I think he didn’t vote to take the case. . . precisely because deciding it. . . will not help overturn Roe. That is, to reach the merits of these supposed 1983 private right of action cases, the Justices will have to expand, not contract — the federal right to sue for damages, when a core principle in the Constitution is. . . violated. That, for the ideologue Kavanaugh, is a bridge too far. He won’t want to go about creating NEW federal rights to sue, in order to get at what he sees as the wrongly-decided Roe case. And these cases don’t advantageously-frame his desired “definitive” debate — on right to life / abortion rights, in any event. So, he decided to wait — and hope for a better case, to bubble up. He and Gorsuch are both relative youngsters, in Court years, so they can wait.

That’s my “expanded thoughts” take. But as I close, I will quote Thomas, in dissent, just to show he no longer is anything other than a naked activist — willing to trample judicial parsimony, in order to get at a political goal he wants to achieve:

. . . .So what explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here? [Editorial comment: I gather Thomas thinks that “job” is activism, for a particular would-be religious ideology. Disgusting.] I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named “Planned Parenthood”. . . .

His above comment is preposterous, on its face. This is. . . odious, naked politicking — in the Supreme Court record. Justice Thomas beclowns himself (again).

More and more, I honestly believe, for all his other faults, the Chief Justice is mortified by such debasements — of the Court he now presides over. Oddly, Roberts now is likely the swing vote on many issues (i.e., the new Kennedy). And while that clearly portends a shift rightward, in the Court, I do think Roberts thinks more and more of his legacy — as he speaks out forcefully against 45’s nonsense about supposed “Obama judges”.

The Chief may yet surprise us, with some true conservatism — doing less when less is. . . warranted. Onward, smiling right back, at this clear morning. . . .


“Zero Speculation” Department: Adam Schechter, Pres. GHH, Departs Kenilworth.

December 10, 2018 - Leave a Response

Below is the SEC Form 8-K; it is only one operative paragraph long, but it speaks for itself. His departure takes essentially immediate effect (December 31). Very unlike a planned retirement.

Nope, this is not typical of a voluntary departure — with $1 million to buy a non-compete, and separation pay, on top of all the vested retirement benefits. Beyond that — we will not say. Here’s the bit:

. . . .Mr. Adam Schechter, Executive Vice President and President, Global Human Health, will step down from that position, effective December 31, 2018. Pursuant to an agreement (the “Agreement”) between the Company and Mr. Schechter, he will thereafter act as a special advisor to the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, after which he will leave the Company. In connection with the restructuring and elimination of his position, Mr. Schechter will be eligible for benefits under the Company’s U.S. Separation Benefits Plan. Subject to his execution of a general release of claims and continuing compliance with certain restrictive covenants, these benefits provide 78 weeks of separation pay as well as certain health and welfare benefits. In addition, under the Agreement, Mr. Schechter has agreed to a one-year non-competition agreement, in consideration for which the Company will pay Mr. Schechter $1,000,000. . . .

Now you know. His position, officially, was eliminated. Odd.

Onward, on a cold, clear night — had a charity gig tonight, so I am tardy with this one.


[U] Quiet, Clear & Cold: A Sunday Morning — And A New Installment, Of “The Brexit Chronicles”…

December 9, 2018 - Leave a Response

UPDATED: Monday morning (12.10.2018) — As we suspected, it seems increasingly possible — if not (yet!) probable. . . that a British exit may not occur. . . at all. The vote in Parliament is postponed, and an EU court rules Britain may (effectively) say “just kidding — my bad!”. . . and remain in the EU without additional paperwork/proceedings. Fascinating. Do see this hilarious YouTube, from the bloke who voiced Gollum’s CGI character — TLoTR reference! — on it all.

[End, updated portion.]

Over two and a half years ago; and about two years ago, one and a half years ago, and one year ago. . . and six months ago (and, I’m fairly certain I’m missing at least three more, in that listing — but this may be the best of them) — I offered my opinions on the slow roll that is Britain’s exit from the EU.

The upshot, of all of the above (and the later developing ones) — no matter how Tuesday’s vote turns out, in Parliament — is that things will be slower, and messier — and stretch into 2020 now. The markets simply need more clarity, and certainty — and the way this all (a likely faux engineered populist vote to exit) has played out, it has roiled the markets. . . with the opposite. It would not shock me to see it never happen now. Here’s a good “state of the play” article from the BBC, and a bit:

. . . .The PM has warned Tory rebels it could lead to a general election, and there was a “very real risk of no Brexit”. . . . Boris Johnson said the PM could stay on if she lost but must renegotiate the deal with Brussels. . . . The withdrawal deal negotiated between the UK and EU has been endorsed by EU leaders but must also be backed by Parliament if it is to come into force. . . .

The [Northern Ireland “backstop” border issue] should instead be covered in negotiations over a future trading relationship with Europe, he said, and the UK should “incentivise” the EU by withholding “at least half” of the UK’s agreed £39bn “divorce” payment, until a free trade is signed at the end of 2020. . . .

All of this (to my experienced eye), suggests that it may well be the smartest course for US multinationals to take no additional restructuring actions — at least until 2020 arrives. Onward — and stay sheltered in place, and safe from the ice and snow, down below — one and all. Here, we are seeing frigid but sunny weather. Time for some heavy weights, and then a big brunch — onward, smiling. . . .


Ninth Circuit (As Expected) Slaps Down Latest Trump Appeal, In East Bay Sanctuary….

December 7, 2018 - One Response

Busy night, tonight, for Trump taking more stinging legal-related losses. His gambit to reinstate his unlawful asylum modification has foundered, in the Ninth Circuit tonight. He is a loser, again. And the rule of law. . . is the winner. [Expect a petition for cert., and a denial from the Supremes, next.]

Here is the 70 page opinion and order (for publication) — it is comprehensively well reasoned. We — as in “We the People,” will teach 45 that he is not above the law. Here’s a bit (second paragraph, from page 47):

. . . .For more than 60 years, our country has agreed, by treaty, to accept refugees. In 1980, Congress codified our obligation to receive persons who are “unable or unwilling to return to” their home countries “because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101(a)(42), 1158(b)(1). Congress prescribed a mechanism for these refugees to apply for asylum and said that we would accept applications from any alien “physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States whether or not at a designated port of arrival . . . irrespective of such alien’s status.” Id. § 1158(a)(1). . . .

The Rule is likely arbitrary and capricious for. . . [another] reason: it conditions an alien’s eligibility for asylum on a criterion that has nothing to do with asylum itself. The Rule thus cannot be considered a reasonable effort to interpret or enforce the current provisions of the INA. See Chevron, 467 U.S. at 843. In accordance with the Convention and Protocol, Congress required the Government to accept asylum applications from aliens, irrespective of whether or not they arrived lawfully through a port of entry. This provision reflects our understanding of our treaty obligation to not “impose penalties [on refugees] on account of their illegal entry or presence.” Convention, art. XXXI, § 1, 189 U.N.T.S. at 174. One reason for this provision is that, in most cases, an alien’s illegal entry or presence has nothing to do with whether the alien is a refugee from his homeland “unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42). For example, whether an alien enters the United States over its land border with Mexico rather than through a designated port of entry is uncorrelated with the question of whether she has been persecuted in, say, El Salvador. . . .

Onward — and do know that there is MUCH more to come, out of Manafort’s sentencing — and still some, as to Cohen. Mr. Mueller is burying 45. Positively burying him — and no amount of Bill Barr bluster will ever undo this outcome: 45 will be seen leaving office, early, and voluntarily (just like Nixon, before him). Trust that.


[U X2] “Mueller-Mas”, Tonight — I’ll Rerun An April 2018 One That Aged… Quite Gracefully…

December 7, 2018 - Leave a Response

This pretty much says it all — we are, via Mr. Mueller’s careful, exacting efforts — and laudable penchant for secrecy — nearing the worst of all possible outcomes, for 45.

Both of the more complete Mueller — Manafort, and — Cohen, narratives are highly likely to be filed late on this snowy evening, so I will point to my first takes. UPDATED — here are the two Cohen related memos (this first SDNY forty pager) lays out felonious efforts, directed by Donald Trump, to buy off Stormy Daniels and another woman, in criminal violations of federal campaign finance laws; and this (more important) seven page Mueller one — about crimes directly monitored by Donald Trump related to the Russia Project into late 2017).

Manafort’s. . . when it arrives is now up; again heavily redacted (10 pages), but it makes plain that through early 2018, Manafort was coordinating with senior Administration officials, and lying about the nature and timing of the Russia Project. In any event, here’s what I had, about it all, in mid April 2018, below:

Dateline | 04.15.2018 — And oh. Yeah, this: It turns out Cohen said that Sean Hannity is “mystery client no. 3” — which Hannity just promptly denied; saying he never retained Cohen — because Hannity never disclosed (to/on Fox) that he has the same lawyer as Trump — one who is now under criminal investigation, all as Mr. Hannity decried the whole matter as a witch hunt. . . . (Conflicted, much?!). . . This just entered. . . The Orwellian ZoneTM!

UPDATED @ 9 PM EDT on 04.15.2018 & 10 AM EDT on 04.16: The Cohen version is available now as well. Still no client list. Shocking. Not. And from last night:

Here is 45’s new lawyer letter (that’s an eight page PDF file). I am still reading the cases cited. . . but I am decidedly underwhelmed. I expect the able Judge Kimba Wood will be, as well. Now we wait for Cohen’s 10 AM filing, and the 2 PM EDT appearance tomorrow, as ordered — and Stormy Daniels will be in gallery, inside the courtroom in Manhattan. Could be a Stormy Monday, indeed. [End, updated portion.]

At the outset, I think dealing directly with Assad promptly — and forcefully — is the right answer. We and Britain and France need to be sure we don’t create a[nother] quagmire, in the Middle East — in the process. And in this regard, we need to tread lightly around the Russians in Syria, now long-present there. But what Assad did to his own people is. . . monstrous. I’ll remain hopeful that this will be one of only a few surgical strikes.

Next, I want to link to [former US Attorney] Patrick Fitzgerald’s full retort, on Scooter Libby’s abrupt pardon (elegant, and spare, in his take-down of 45’s clueless non-rationale for the same) — and Marcy Wheeler’s NYT editorial — on the preposterously obvious implications of it. Do read both, and do so — rather than fall for the nonsense 45 is peddling on Faux News.

Finally, then — 45 has moved (and has been allowed, by USDC Judge Kimba Wood, sitting in Manhattan) to intervene in the high-stakes fight over the propriety of the DoJ no-knock search warrants executed on Monday past — against Mr. Trump’s 20-plus year personal lawyer. [It turns out Michael Cohen, that lawyer, has been under (a largely separate FBI/DoJ) investigation — for a host of felonies for many months now. Classy company 45 keeps, no? If we were able to say nothing else, that speaks volumes. . . about 45.]

More to the point, though: Mr. Cohen (based just on what has been unsealed, thus far) is very likely headed to prison for a host of felonies. Chief among them (at least as to the chances of 45 continuing in office), and aside from “garden variety” frauds — is the documentary proof that Mr. Mueller has obtained, showing Mr. Cohen was in Prague in 2016. Which likely means Mr. Mueller can prove he was at least one of the bag-men, for the Russian drops, in the collusion/obstruction line of cases he will pursue.

Here is the order from last night, setting a due date, on Sunday night, for Trump’s intervention — in these sordid matters:

. . . .Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Kimba M. Wood:

Show Cause Hearing as to In the Matter of Search Warrants Executed on April 9, 2018 held on April 13, 2018. Movant Michael D. Cohen not present but attorneys Todd Harrison, Michael Huttenlocher, and Joseph B. Evans present. AUSAs Thomas A. McKay, Rachel Maimin, and Nicholas Roos present. Counsel for Intervenor President Donald J. Trump, Joanna C. Hendon present. Counsel for intervenor President Donald J. Trump shall file a letter on or before Sunday, April 15, 2018 by 9:00 pm.

Counsel for movant Michael D. Cohen shall file a letter substantiating factual claims in support of his position on unsealing by 10:00 am on Monday, April 16, 2018.

Today’s hearing on the movant’s motion for an order to show cause and a temporary restraining order shall be continued on Monday, April 16, 2018 in courtroom 21B at which Movant Michael D. Cohen is ordered to be present in person.

(Court Reporter Carol Ganley) Modified on 4/13/2018 (Mohan, Andrew). . . .

It seems the noose is getting. . . rather snug, around 45’s neck. His crooked lawyer will be his undoing — as now it is a race between Cohen and Manafort as to which first flips. But it is certain one or both of them. . . will.

These remain dangerous and somber times, to be sure — in which it is still possible that the 242 uninterrupted years of this glowingly-American notion — of ordered liberty — under a careful constitutional framework — fails. But increasingly, it is looking to be inevitable — that Mr. Trump will leave office peaceably — well before the end of his term. So I will be smiling, on a chilly mountain bike ride, shortly. Onward.