May 18, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 5:31 PM


Posted by orrinj at 2:51 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump's Weekend of Scandal Was Hiding in Plain SightIt's going on right now and no one can see it because of the chaff. (TIM MILLER  MAY 18, 2020, The Bulwark)

(1) The president of the United States quote-tweeted an avowed alt-right account that flirts with Holocaust denial,

(2) The president also texted supporters false allegations that he had been illegally spied on by the previous vice president.

(3) The president also fired another independent inspector general without providing cause.

(4) The official American death toll from COVID-19 inched close to 90,000 souls while the president spent his time live tweeting cable TV.

(5) One of the president's large adult sons grotesquely suggested that Joe Biden is a "pedopile."

(6) Another of his large adult sons claimed that the virus was a hoax perpetrated by the left and the media and that it will disappear after the election.

(7) The President sent a tweet encouraging protesters who aggressively shouted down and chased after a random local news reporter with calls of "you are the virus," "traitor," and "enemy of the people." (Note: This was entry number seven because I even forgot about it until after writing the article because Trump does so much insane stuff every day)

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM



To start with, the Trumpian attacks on Sullivan are themselves entirely baseless. Sullivan's appointment of retired U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson, a widely respected former federal prosecutor, as well as a distinguished former federal trial judge, was well within his Article III powers. Courts routinely appoint "friends of the court," designated amici curiae, to brief and argue positions otherwise unrepresented in the proceedings but intrinsic to their proper resolution.

The amicus has become a "standard feature of litigation." Around once per term, the Supreme Court invites an amicus to argue a position that one party (typically the government) has conceded on appeal. The court does so, in its own words, "to decide the case satisfied that the relevant issues have been fully aired." Attorney Bill Coleman, to give but one important example, was appointed to defend the IRS's policy of not giving tax exemptions to racially discriminatory organizations when the Nixon administration refused to defend that policy. Importantly, this practice supplements but doesn't substitute for the equally standard practice of courts considering the arguments made in amicus briefs filed both on behalf of interested individuals and organizations (over 100 were filed in Obergefell) or on behalf of experts with relevant perspectives to present.

That is exactly what has happened here. When the Department of Justice made the "virtually unheard-of" decision to dismiss two already vetted and accepted guilty pleas on the eve of sentencing, Sullivan rightly suspected that the relevant issues would not be fully aired without the arguments of an amicus. Moreover, Flynn has now arguably told the court things inconsistent with what he had said under oath when pleading guilty, opening himself up to perjury charges--an argument that neither Flynn nor Barr could be expected to make. Nothing about that move ought to be controversial. As Professor Randall D. Eliason notes, once a judge has accepted a guilty plea from a defendant, the ball is squarely in the judge's court to determine sentencing. And at the very least, it is reasonable for Sullivan to seek outside counsel on how to understand such a peculiar move from Barr.

From a separation of powers perspective, there is nothing untoward here. The executive prosecuted its case and won a guilty plea from the defendant. The judiciary must now exercise its independent judgment about how to sentence him. And judges may not bury their heads in the sand when the Department of Justice inexplicably unwinds a guilty plea it had painstakingly developed. As Chief Justice John Roberts wrote just last term in the administrative law context, courts are "not required to exhibit a naiveteĢ from which ordinary citizens are free." So too here. Sullivan is not required to pretend he was born yesterday. The department's move is so unprecedented, so flagrantly indicative of abuse and so downright bizarre that any rational judge would want further briefing before deciding how to proceed. Sullivan has wisely chosen to protect his judicial role by seeking that further briefing, and the law gives him that right.

The Trumpists attacks on the Judge for violating precedent are particularly hilarious because they reflect complete ignorance of the cited case...or just duplicity.

Flynn's New Argument Is Constitutional NonsenseThe integrity of prosecution is an executive concern, but it's a judicial one too. (Peter M. Shane, 5/18/20, The Atlantic)

Predictably, the lawyers for Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, are unhappy about the refusal of U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to immediately green-light dropping his prosecution. The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure permit the Justice Department to withdraw the Flynn indictment only "with leave of court." In considering such leave, Sullivan has decided to allow independent groups and legal experts to submit briefs on the issue. Presumably yet more upsetting to Flynn and his counsel, Sullivan has appointed a former federal judge, John Gleeson, to oppose the Justice Department's request and to examine whether Flynn may have committed perjury.

In a court filing from before the Gleeson appointment, Flynn's lawyers assert that the intervention of third parties would be unconstitutional. They write: "A criminal case is a dispute between the United States and a criminal defendant ... For the Court to allow another to stand in the place of the government would be a violation of the separation of powers."

This is constitutional nonsense. Neither the parties filing briefs, nor the retired judge advising Sullivan, are "stand[ing] in the place of the government." They are, rather, providing information and counsel. But there is more here at stake: In monitoring the integrity of Flynn's prosecution, Sullivan is also working to preserve the integrity of the court system he represents. In doing so, Sullivan's effort to protect the integrity of the prosecution is an important reminder that prosecution is an executive function, but it's a judicial one too.

The idea that federal prosecution is exclusively an executive-branch concern is not accurate. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Democrats feel tide turning their way in battle to flip US Senate (Joan E Greve, 18 May 2020, The Guardian)

Democrats have managed to expand the map, in part thanks to Biden clearing the presidential primary field, which seems to have improved the party's prospects in states Trump carried in 2016, such as North Carolina and Georgia.

"A lot of Democrats were rightly worried that if you had a more progressive nominee, an avowed Democratic socialist on the ticket like Bernie Sanders, flipping a state like North Carolina ... would have been much harder," said Jessica Taylor, Senate and governors editor for the Cook Political Report.

Republicans are on defense in states they previously thought safe, most notably Montana. The state's Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, launched his Senate campaign in March. A recent poll showed him leading the Republican incumbent, Steve Daines, by seven points, even though Trump carried Montana by 20 in 2016.

"I think the Democrats have done a better job of putting more races in play than the Republicans have," Kondik said, "although Republicans are just defending many more seats."

Democratic candidates have seen better fundraising numbers, which party strategists say is a reflection of grassroots energy. For example, in Maine, in the first quarter of this year, Sara Gideon raised nearly three times as much money as the Republican senator Susan Collins.

...which is nothing less than we deserve for enabling racism.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Progressives thought they'd overtaken the Democratic Party. Now they're in despair.A string of losses this spring, highlighted by Bernie Sanders, has left the movement reeling. (ALEX THOMPSON, 05/18/2020, Politico)

On the eve of the Nevada caucuses in February, Bernie Sanders and his supporters were feeling invincible.

"I've got news for the Democratic establishment," he declared on Twitter on Feb. 21, the day before he went on to a landslide win in the Nevada caucuses. "They can't stop us."

Since then, not only did the "establishment" stop Sanders -- it stamped out the candidacies of a string of left-wing insurgents, leaving the progressive movement reeling and in a state of despair.

Three highly-touted liberal House candidates -- Jessica Cisneros in Texas, Robert Emmons in Illinois, and Morgan Harper in Ohio -- lost their primary races against more moderate members of Congress. They are now playing defense as Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the four members of the "squad," faces a stiff primary challenge in Michigan. And Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass), who's managed a late-career makeover into a left-wing darling, with endorsements from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other progressive groups, is consistently outpolled by primary challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.).

The movement has also had limited influence on the proposals House Democrats have put forward to address the coronavirus, with leadership rejecting its most ambitious ideas.

The abrupt reversal of fortune has prompted introspection among many left-wing activists, who only three months ago were confident that the future of the Democratic Party was theirs.

And it will only become more conservative as the suburbs, minorities, the young, and married women flee Trumpism.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The future of solar power: From unbelievably cheap to insanely cheap (Giles Parkinson & Sophie Vorrath, 18 May 2020, Renew Economy)

Solar is now half the price he predicted nearly a decade ago, and already at a price that established institutions like the International Energy Agency thought wouldn't be possible for a century to come. That's how dramatic the cost of the technology has fallen. And it's going to get cheaper.

"Solar has plunged in price faster than anyone - including me - predicted. And modeling of that price decline leads me to forecast that solar will continue to drop in price faster than I've previously expected, and will ultimately reach prices lower than virtually anyone expects. Prices that are, by any stretch of the measure, insanely, world-changingly cheap."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Fox News host attacks Barack Obama as "not all that articulate" (DAVID EDWARDS, MAY 18, 2020, Raw Story)

Co-host Pete Hegseth went on to gripe that Obama is not as "articulate" as many people think.