May 10, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 7:29 PM


Ex-DOJ official claims Barr "twisted" her words in motion to dismiss Flynn case (Zachary Basu, 5/10/20, Axios)

 "In short, the report of my interview does not anywhere suggest that the FBI's interview of Mr. Flynn was unconstitutional, unlawful or not "tethered" to any legitimate counterintelligence purpose," McCord concludes.


Posted by orrinj at 3:11 PM


An Ugly Day for the Justice Department (Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Benjamin Wittes , May 7, 2020, Lawfare)

It is exceptionally rare for the U.S. Department of Justice to move in court to dismiss a case in which a defendant has--ably assisted by first-class lawyers--entered into a plea agreement to spare himself prosecution on more serious felony charges. It is rarer still for the government to do so without acknowledging that it violated any law or that the defendant's rights were somehow infringed. And it is still rarer yet for the government to take such a move without a single career prosecutor being willing to sign onto the brief seeking dismissal. [...]

The government's 20-page brief is not an honest document--perhaps the reason that it is signed only by Timothy Shea, the interim U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia--and not a single one of the career prosecutors who worked on the case. That may also be the reason why Brandon Van Grack, the prosecutor who has worked the case from the beginning, moved to withdraw from the case entirely just hours before the Justice Department filed its motion.

Donald has always had one requirement of the lawyers he hires, that they behave like Roy Cohn and Michael Cohen.  Barr and Shea will; the professionals won't.
Posted by orrinj at 9:48 AM


Biden's lead is the steadiest on record (Harry Enten, May 10, 2020, CNN)

A new Monmouth University poll finds that former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump 50% to 41%. When Rep. Justin Amash is included as the Libertarian Party candidate, it's Biden 47%, Trump 40% and Amash 5%.

The poll is largely in line with the average poll since April that puts Biden 6 points ahead of Trump nationally.

What's the point: Biden's lead is about as steady as it can possibly be. Not only is he up 6 points over the last month or so, but the average of polls since the beginning of the year has him ahead by 6 points. Moreover, all the polls taken since the beginning of 2019 have him up 6 points.

The steadiness in the polls is record breaking. Biden's advantage is the steadiest in a race with an incumbent running since at least 1944. 

Texas is the only drama.

Posted by orrinj at 9:46 AM


Steve Dalkowski (Ron Shelton, 1990, Cult Baseball Players)

Summer nights in Bakersfield he can still be found, standing in the oven heat down the right-field line near the bullpen, watching the minor leaguer pitchers loosen up. Every few years a sportswriter from the East flies in to do a piece about him for a big magazine, but the little guy never shows up for the interview. Except for that, and the cops and the groundskeepers, nobody knows who he is.

To the ballplayers in the bullpen he's just another drunk. It matters not that he used to pitch in that very ballpark, that he used to be the greatest pitching prospect of all time. From a prospect to a suspect, they used to say. And if you don't believe the groundskeepers and the cops, ask the veterans.

The fastest pitcher I ever saw? Easy. Dalkowski. Dalko, we used to call him. Little guy, glasses. Drank like a fish. Had unbelievable heat. Blew it by Ted Williams in spring training. "Fastest ever," Ted said. "I never want to face him again." Harry "The Cat" Brecheen called it "the best arm in the history of baseball." Cal Ripken Sr., his catcher in the minors said, "Nobody else was close." And the stories are endless.

In the days before radar guns, the Baltimore organization sent him out to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds the night after throwing a complete game. They set up a tube-like device on a tripod above home plate that could measure the speed of an object in flight. The problem was, of course, Dalko couldn't hit the damn thing. He threw for forty minutes before sneaking a fastball down the tube: 98.6 miles an hour--without a mound. A fresh, sober Bob Feller threw 5 miles an hour slower through the same machine. Some say Dalko would've stopped a radar gun at 120 mph.

In Wilson, North Carolina, he threw a wild pitch through the welded mesh screen sixty feet behind the catcher. Thirty years later the hole in the screen is still there.

He stood in front of the center-field clubhouse in Stockton, 430 feet from home plate, watching his teammates place bets to see if any of them could throw a ball to home plate on a single bounce. One of them did. His curiosity aroused, Dalko picked up a ball. Without warming up, still in street clothes, he threw it over home plate. Over the backstop. It landed in the press box somewhere.

There was the time his catcher couldn't get the glove up fast enough and a rising fastball hit the umpire in the mask, shattering it in three places. The ump got off easy, people say, compared to the guy who had his ear ripped off by one of Dalk's 0-and-2 pitches. It was a clean tear, they said. Sewed back on real easy.

They sent him to Florida to play under the steady influence of a veteran manager and just maybe, shake his love of drinking and partying. They wanted to him to mature. Instead, he became pals with Bo Belinksy. The manager had a heart attack.

Posted by orrinj at 7:50 AM

BEFORE THE BEATLES DEAD END (profanity alert):

Little Richard, Founding Father of Rock Who Broke Musical Barriers, Dead at 87: Pianist-singer behind "Tutti Frutti," "Good Golly Miss Molly," and "Long Tall Sally" set the template that a generation of musicians would follow (DAVID BROWNE, 5/09/20, Rolling Stone)

Although he never hit the Top 10 again after 1958, Little Richard's influence was massive. The Beatles recorded several of his songs, including "Long Tall Sally," and Paul McCartney's singing on those tracks - and the Beatles' own "I'm Down" - paid tribute to Little Richard's shredded-throat style. His songs became part of the rock & roll canon, covered over the decades by everyone from the Everly Brothers, the Kinks, and Creedence Clearwater Revival to Elvis Costello and the Scorpions. "Elvis popularized [rock & roll]," Steven Van Zandt tweeted after the news broke. "Chuck Berry was the storyteller. Richard was the archetype."

Little Richard's stage persona - his pompadours, androgynous makeup, and glass-bead shirts -- also set the standard for rock & roll showmanship; Prince, to cite one obvious example, owed a sizable debt to the musician. [...]

Born Richard Wayne Penniman on December 5th, 1932, in Macon, Georgia, he was one of 12 children and grew up around uncles who were preachers. "I was born in the slums. My daddy sold whiskey, bootleg whiskey," he told Rolling Stone in 1970. Although he sang in a nearby church, his father Bud wasn't supportive of his son's music and accused him of being gay, resulting in Penniman leaving home at 13 and moving in with a white family in Macon. But music stayed with him: One of his boyhood friends was Otis Redding, and Penniman heard R&B, blues, and country while working at a concession stand at the Macon City Auditorium.

After performing at the Tick Tock Club in Macon and winning a local talent show, Penniman landed his first record deal, with RCA, in 1951. (He became "Little Richard" when he about 15 years old, when the R&B and blues worlds were filled with acts like Little Esther and Little Milton; he had also grown tired with people mispronouncing his last name as "Penny-man.") He learned his distinctive piano style from Esquerita, a South Carolina singer and pianist who also wore his hair in a high black pompadour.

For the next five years, Little Richard's career advanced only fitfully; fairly tame, conventional singles he cut for RCA and other labels didn't chart. "When I first came along, I never heard any rock & roll," he told Rolling Stone in 1990. "When I started singing [rock & roll], I sang it a long time before I presented it to the public because I was afraid they wouldn't like it. I never heard nobody do it, and I was scared."

By 1956, he was washing dishes at the Greyhound bus station in Macon (a job he had first taken a few years earlier, after his father was murdered and Little Richard had to support his family). By then, only one track he'd cut, "Little Richard's Boogie," hinted at the musical tornado to come. "I put that little thing in it," he told Rolling Stone in 1970 of the way he tweaked with his gospel roots. "I always did have that thing, but I didn't know what to do with the thing I had."

During this low point, he sent a tape with a rough version of a bawdy novelty song called "Tutti Frutti" to Specialty Records in Chicago. He came up with the song's famed chorus -- "a wop bob alu bob a wop bam boom" -- while bored washing dishes. (He also co-wrote "Long Tall Sally" while working that same job.) 

By coincidence, label owner and producer Art Rupe was in search of a lead singer for some tracks he wanted to cut in New Orleans, and Penniman's howling delivery fit the bill. In September 1955, the musician cut a lyrically cleaned-up version of "Tutti Frutti," which became his first hit, peaking at 17 on the pop chart. "'Tutti Frutti really started the races being together," he told Rolling Stone in 1990. "From the git-go, my music was accepted by whites."

Sadly, it took nearly 15 years to get rock back on track after the originators were displaced by the boy band music of the Beatles.

Posted by orrinj at 7:44 AM


Why Russia Struggles to Feed Its Great-Power Addiction (William Courtney, 5/10/20, National Interest)
The puzzling thing about Russia is how it is determined to remain a great power but inattention to some of the means required to sustain a great-power status. For over a decade its economy has been stagnant, yet the Kremlin avoids reforms that could unleash the private sector. Each year Russia loses a million people, yet it invests too little in health care, especially in its rural areas. The flight of money to the West continues, yet improved business conditions could diminish it. The country's military adventuresā   in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, Syria, and Ukraine are all a net drain on the economy. The recent oil price drop and the coronavirus pandemic may lead to a further weakening.

The puzzling thing is that Westerners go along with the charade and pretend it is a great power. It's useful for things like fighting ISIS and as a cheap oil source until we transition, but otherwise insignificant. They can't even defeat Ukraine, which is one of the most corrupt regimes in the world.

Posted by orrinj at 7:17 AM


Who Killed Consensus? (KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON, May 10, 2020, National Review)

Without consensus, there is no consent -- that's almost a redundancy: The two words come from the same Latin root meaning "agree," but each has its own special role in the political lexicon. We speak of "consensus" as a generally agreed-upon fact or set of facts, often with the qualifier "expert" or the mock-qualifier "elite," but we consent to a course of action, a regime, or a state, which can deploy force legitimately only with "the consent of the governed." That's Liberal Democracy 101.

When you lose the ability to forge consensus, you begin to forfeit consent, and effective governance becomes difficult if not impossible -- as we are seeing right now in the coronavirus response.

Mr. Williamson is unfortunate enough to work in a milieu that is particularly infested with those few who oppose the American consensus.  That does not mean there isn't one, Americans more worried about reopening too quickly than not opening quickly enough, survey says (Rebecca Morin, 5/08/20, USA TODAY)

Nearly three out of four Americans -- 71% -- say they are more concerned by the government lifting social distancing restrictions too quickly, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project. That's more than double the 29% who say they are worried restrictions are not being lifted quickly enough.

Of course, his publication is even further afoul of the American consensus on other questions: 9 in 10 of us want DACA recipients to stay; Obamacare is 60-40;  gun controls measures, from assault weapons bans to licensing are supported by anywhere from 60 to 80% of Americans; the transition to solar and other renewables is wildly popular; free trade has never been more popular; only a quarter of Americans support Donald's family separations; etc. 

The fact is, the governed consent to things the Right opposes and opposes the stuff the Right wants.  Consensus is alive; Trumpism is dead.