Category: Law Page 1 of 2

Here She Is!

Mr. Mueller’s Valedictory

Special Counsel Robert Mueller tendered his resignation to the Department of Justice, and he read a statement about the report bearing his name. A transcript of his statement, unredacted, appears at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/politics/mueller-transcript.html.
Mueller asked that the Report be allowed to speak for itself. Mueller restated that the first volume “details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election.” However, in the report the Mueller team found that there was “insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.”

Under the DOJ guidelines, the investigation of a sitting president is permitted to preserve evidence. However, because a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime,  Mueller concluded that it would be unfair to render a negative opinion in the Report.  Mueller referred to Congress’ separate process – impeachment – to formally accuse a president of wrongdoing.  It would be unfair to charge the president with a crime when there can be no court resolution on the subject. He  added nevertheless that “if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”  Mueller is saying that they were not convinced that the president had not committed a crime.

Before closing the book on his Report, the outgoing Special Counsel took a moment to explain why in his judgment the investigation was no witch hunt.

“The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system. They needed to be investigated and understood. And that is among the reasons why the Department of Justice established our office. That is also a reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

The fact that the president was not charged with election interference did not negate the need for the investigation. In addition, it does not render meaningless efforts to impede the investigation.

Revolted Colonies began in 2010 as an outlet for its lawyer/author to comment on America’s cultural and political divisions, rather than opine on the law. However, the Trump presidency has been a lawyer’s goldmine in so many ways. It has become nearly impossible to talk about the politics without talking about Trump,  or talking about Trump without mentioning lawyers and the law. For that reason, it is reassuring that, at the heart of the Mueller report, there is Mueller, doing the work of a lawyer: clearheadedly ascertaining facts and applying the law. There is something satisfying, to this lawyer at least, that Mueller did not become politicized or allow his work to be affected by the political tempest buffeting him.

Darkness at the Center of Town

Congress is bearing down on Donald Trump and his administration of looters, opportunists and enablers.

The House Judiciary Committee has voted to cite Attorney General William Barr for contempt, for his refusal to share the Mueller Report in its complete and non-redacted form.  For Congress, this is the first step in a journey of thousands up to the November 2020 election, unless something occurs or is uncovered that will short-circuit the secrecies of the Trump administration.

I agree with most people who believe that impeachment is the correct action to go against a renegade executive, whether or not acquittal in the Senate is guaranteed.  Congress cannot allow unprincipled refusal to cooperate to be the norm.  Secrecy enables self-dealing and other corrupt practices.

Journalists, purveyors of the alleged fake news, are enjoying a golden age of investigative reporting.  Dogged persistence, in the face of White House recrimination and intimidation, has produced material revelations almost daily. The leaking of information, even if done for the wrong reason, casts light on the clandestine operation of Trump’s Washington. Without journalists, the government would be as dark as Dante’s Inferno.

Entire departments of the government are understaffed and opaque. Voters need to know about the government’s policies when they are affected by them. Voters need to know if elected officials are carrying out the laws in the direction promised.  They need to know if the officials themselves are complying with law.

Whether or not Trump’s obstructions were criminal, surely they were acts of misconduct. The Mueller Report at its root is a compendium of the administration’s  bad conduct, a subject with which our Congress in the first instance must be concerned. The Judiciary and Intelligence committees are charged with that duty. They should be allowed to know all of the facts and sources in order to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of government.

The Special Prosecutor’s Office was concerned with criminality. Congress must address the non-criminal aspects of the administration.  CASE CLOSED, Senator Mitch McConnell’s latest declaration, is intended to shut down Congress in its work. The Majority Leader is so wrong-headed as to warrant censure himself. Those of us who survived the Nixon presidency and the Watergate investigation know how close Nixon actually came to getting away with it.  A bipartisan Congress and an incorruptible independent counsel forced his hand.

The founders understood the principles of divided government, but they did not envision or provide for a government so split that it is polarized on the necessity of government.  The reason for the administration’s failure to fill posts and to keep policy under wraps is a distaste for governmental initiative. The administration governs by the law of the jungle.   Anti-democratic principles, such as Cheney and Barr’s unitary executive theory , fulfill a reactionary vision of American life, in which wealth rules with impunity, and those without it are subjects, not citizens.

Worth a Thousand Words and a Shove Out the Door

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Democrat, admitted yesterday that he posed in a racially offensive photograph . In 1984 he and another medical school student posed as a black man in black face and a Klansman in a Ku Klux Klan hooded robe. The picture was published as his yearbook page. The editors at the East Virginia Medical School didn’t have a problem running it.
The two men are shown standing next to each other but it isn’t a promotion for National Brotherhood Week. Northam issued a public apology (although, today he’s denying it) and didn’t try to defend the photo or offer context. So far, despite calls for his resignation, he refuses to step down. He will probably be forced to resign; replaced by Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who is black.

It’s hard to look at the picture and say, “That was then and this is now.” Certain instances of racially and sexually abusive behavior have ended public careers and caused public ostracism. There is no statute of limitations  and no possibility of rehabilitation. Some acts are so shocking and offensive that forgiveness would be considered acceptance. In those cases, there is zero tolerance.  Our society is still working through how Northam and others like him should be treated for such offenses. There is a compelling reason, other than politics, to banish Northam. Short of physical violence, black face, along with the “N word,” is the most publicly reviled display of racism. The photo is a graphic representation. It is more nauseating to see it than to hear about it. Ostracism sends a clear signal to parents and children to preach against this form of hatred, or else make sure it’s hidden in a place where no one will see it.

For now, Northam, a Democratic politician, will be forced out due to the 1984 photo. For now, Steve King, a Republican politician, was stripped of all leadership positions by Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, due to racially offensive statements made publicly and reported.  However, Congress stopped short of censure and removal. Different result if there was no picture of Northam or if King had been videotaped? I think so. Different result if Northam was a Republican and King a Democrat? Without a doubt.

Will Orange Be the New Orange?

 

According to latest filings in the Michael Cohen case, the Southern District of New York prosecutors have determined that the evidence shows that the man who would be FEPOTUS directed Cohen to pay hush money to cover up one of his affairs to keep it from the voting public. That’s a felony. Although he deserves to be prosecuted,  it’s not clear that he should be prosecuted.  Sometimes the best way to deal with a bum is just to give him the Bum’s Rush.

If there’s evidence that Trump directed Cohen to gag Stormy Daniels and the Enquirer to pay off Karen McDougal, to keep it from the voters, then it’s a strong case. It’s not beyond him to have done it, although for his supporters it wasn’t necessary. His voters had already crossed that Rubicon. They would stick by him if he shot someone, especially a Democrat. They had steeled themselves against Trump’s womanizing. Surely, his people wouldn’t have cared if he bonked a porn star about ten years earlier.

It’s possible that the Toxic Revenger was trying to keep it from the kids. They are the only ones with blinders as to his character defects. As for Melania, if I am reading her fashion tips correctly, she doesn’t care.

The Southern District prosecutors might not have a slam-dunk case against him for election fraud.   They have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to defraud voters, not just to deceive his family.  What’s more, any prosecution would have to wait until he leaves office, which, unless we’re lucky, probably won’t happen before 2020.

There’s lots of time remaining for him to do additional stupid things and further run the country into the ground like it was the Trump Taj Mahal. It would be great if he quit or if there were votes to remove him. Yet, it might not be a good idea to prosecute him once he’s gone.   If no one is going to prosecute him, indicting him is just waving the red cape in front of this Bull Artist without having the hidden sword to finish him off.

Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, and it most likely cost him the bicentennial election of 1976. Ford thought that it was more important for the country to move on.  A case against Nixon would have lasted years and would have reignited a partisan battle. If somehow, Nixon was acquitted by a jury unwilling to send a former president to jail, then his forced resignation would become a cause celebre. We would still be litigating how badly Nixon had been treated when the Democrats forced him out of office – unconstitutionally.  Donald Trump would now be standing on the ruins of Nixon’s battlements.

FEPOTUS has screwed us all as thoroughly as he has his other victims. Think about the 2016 election like it was a massive Trump U. matriculation. There is no hell hot enough for a scoundrel like him. Punishing him comes with a heavy price, though. In 2020 we can run him and his bag of snakes out for good. We wouldn’t be well-served by continuing the battle. Besides, his base might really put their torches and pitchforks to use.

Truth: The Comeback Tour

Press Release

Truth, the legendary performer, is coming out of seclusion for a reunion tour with former band mate Integrity. Truth hasn’t performed since 1980, when she was booed off the national stage after a series of disappointing performances.

“I never stopped performing,” said the artist. “People stopped showing up. All this business of Truth setting you free sounds great, but there are times when it hurts,” she said, speaking in the third person. “Your audience finds you, not the other way around.”

After being well-received last week in a surprise appearance at an Integrity concert in Washington, DC, Truth’s friends encouraged her to take to the road again. She was heartened especially by the reception of Integrity fans and by Integrity himself.
“Integrity said that it was time to reach out to our public again. He warned me that if I didn’t get back into the business, my next performance might be a farewell appearance.”

Integrity is a former band mate in the Virtues, a popular group in the 1960’s. Since the Virtues broke up in summer 1970, Integrity has established a devoted cult following and has never been off the road. Enlightenment, the third member of the original Virtues and its primary songwriter, has agreed to rejoin as a writer-producer. “No touring for me. I still get hate mail from the Virtues days.”

“The entertainment business has never been easy, particularly for us,” said Truth. “The fans are great; the promoters not so much. We’re going to start with a few small venues and see how that goes. The Virtues have been booked into college towns, starting in suburban Washington DC and winding up in New Haven.  We’ll have a better idea after that.”

The early indicators are mixed. Ticket sales in the nation’s capital, where Truth never had a strong following, have been sluggish. New Haven, on the other hand, is practically sold out.  “This is no nostalgia tour,” said Truth, bristling at the notion. “The fans are the grandchildren of our original fans. “In fact, some of those [original fans] now are just a bunch of entitled [non-followers].”

Fans expect to hear the famous songs of the Virtues. Integrity has been updating the arrangements. If the dates go well, they will plan to go into the recording booth in early November.

For further information, please contact Christopher Wray, Promoter
telephone: 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324)
email: seawray@fbi.gov

The Kegger Plays His Trump Card

Yesterday’s meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee predictably satisfied the expectations of political junkies, #metoo activists and garden-variety voyeurs. The crowd also experienced the rare surprise of the cool and collected Brett Kavanaugh putting on his angry Trump face for the galleries and the folks at home. Trump’s Justice in utero wasn’t going to go out without a Trumpian rant.

Kegger spent several days in White House captivity, mastering the Trump playbook. He roared about the Democrats’ chicanery, lamented that his days of teaching and coaching girls’ sports may be over, and raged that the coveted prize, a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court was being pulled out of his hands. He didn’t use the words “rigged” or “witch hunt,” and he wept and cursed his fate. Otherwise, it was unvarnished Trump-speak. Trump’s hand was up the Kegger’s back, moving his lips and waving his arms.

The Republican senators had hired Rachel Mitchell, an able and experienced sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona, to question accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in their stead. Mitchell took each majority members’ five-minute segment in the Ford questioning, and she was scheduled to do the same with the Kegger. However, chairman Grassley and his bloc, fortified by the nominee’s new-found belligerence, decided to take back the microphone.

First up, Lindsey Graham (R-NC) lay the groundwork for the rest of the afternoon. Turning away from the judge, he fixed his pole axe on his Democratic colleagues.

“This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics and if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy!”

His target was his friend, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who bore the brunt of accusations that she held back Ford’s accusation until after Kavanaugh’s first hearing finished.
At long last, the combatants dismissed Ford and Kavanaugh, the proxies for the war between the statesmen. The Repubs were in high dudgeon over the Dems’ treatment of Kavanaugh, and the Dems were tacitly taking their revenge for their rivals’ dismissal of Merrick Garland in 2016 – and for a bagful of other indignities and slights.

The public got to see what kind of shit show we’ve enabled in the halls of government. Blame everybody — we’ve demanded winner-take-all politics, and now we have it. The Democrats led by former Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) set this in motion by eliminating the filibuster in connection with judicial appointments below the Supreme Court level This reduced the vote to a simple majority. When Mitch McConnell (R-TN) extended the rule to Supreme Court confirmation, the nuclear option, the stage was set for extreme appointees who did not require bipartisan support.

In 2016 Merrick Garland was put forward by Barack Obama, a centrist judge who previously had garnered the approval of both parties. He did this to dare the Republican house to gamble on the outcome of the presidential election.  McConnell, in complete control of the Senate, refused even to consider his nomination, rolling the dice that, if Clinton had won, he could always activate Garland’s nomination. With Trump in the White House and a Republican majority in the Senate, McConnell has been rolling sevens, judicially speaking. The Democrats, outmaneuvered, lament lifting the filibuster in the first place.

Dick Durbin (D-IL) had predicted in January that ending the filibuster would be the “end of the Senate,” as we know it. Yesterday, he lamented that his prediction had come true.

“It’s interesting, a Republican senator this morning in the gym raised the same question with me. And I said, ‘I think we’re learning our lesson here.’ That eliminating the filibuster on the Supreme Court at least, and maybe the other federal positions, has really created a much more political process. It is better for us to move toward with something that is bipartisan and try to find more moderate people to serve on our federal judiciary.”

Good luck with that. It’s a great aspiration but no one in this Senate presently will lead the institution out of its quagmire. So much needs to be unwound to return to lower-case d democracy in our politics. The Senate and House must reclaim their preeminent places in our government, and the imperial presidency, begun long before Trump, must be contained. These changes require the Supreme Court to recognize congressional primacy, and Brett Kavanaugh won’t let that happen — unless his puppeteer loses the White House.

Who Said Life is Fair?

Three accusers so far, and we’ve only gotten as far as freshman year. Imagine what’s in store for Brett “Kegger” Kavanaugh as an upper-class man at Yale. Boola, boola.

All of his accusers could be mistaken or lying, but the odds are against it. Predict It, the UK bookmaker, had confirmation at 96% last week, now down to 30%.

Kegger’s self-driven PR campaign hasn’t moved the needle. It didn’t help that he was sharing the headlines with Bill Cosby’s sentencing for drugging and raping a woman (and a lot more whose cases were too old to be brought). It’s bad luck too that there’s no statute of limitations in a Senate Confirmation hearing to protect 100-Keg from his own history.

Kegger caught another bad break being before the Senate and not a courtroom. No one has to presume his innocence or give him the benefit of the doubt, even if his sponsors have brought in a prosecutor and want to turn the hearing into a quasi-trial.   He could use a little legal aid about now.

Kegger is by far the sweatiest Supreme Court nominee in my lifetime. He looks like he’s got hives. He’s lost  his composure. When he appeared on Fox News two nights ago, begging for fairness, you could smell the tension. Why so uptight? Come on, man, we’re impartial, just calling balls and strikes. It’s not our fault you’ve got a big strike zone and a few holes in your swing.

There are plenty of second acts in American lives, and Kavanaugh has had his allotted two. He’s parlayed his privilege from high school hedonist to Judge of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Not bad, but now Kegger’s looking for a third act, and that curtain’s not going up. He shouldn’t complain. He’s a judge on one of the most respected courts in America. He’s lucky; in fact, he works for Merrick Garland.

Considering Kegger’s questioned past and his proven lies in earlier confirmation hearings, he’s gotten more than his share of fair. There are jurists out there as good or better, who couldn’t get so much as an interview. Merrick Garland comes to mind.

Do you remember telling your parents that something was unfair and their response? Life isn’t always fair. Kavanaugh should wipe away his tears and return to his very special job, which he is very lucky to keep. For now.  A criminal complaint has been filed before the Committee on Judicial Conduct against Kavanaugh, alleging perjury during his 2004 and 2006 confirmation hearings.  The committee chair?  Merrick Garland.

Looking for One Honest Mandamus

Last Wednesday, a federal judge hinted that he might have to toss out a case against future ex-President over the Constitution’s emolument clause.  The clause prevents him from accepting money or property from a foreign government.  Two Democratic politic action groups, which brought the case, would be out of court. 

Yet,  there may be hope. First, the judge mentioned that only Congress can prohibit the  Opportunist-in-Chief from accepting foreign funds, quipped the judge, recognizing the irony in his pronouncement. This GOP Congress hasn’t  demonstrated a lick of courage to stand up to the president, especially on issues many of the members know they should be addressing.

I don’t know if any private citizens have challenged Congress on its failure to act when the failure is on an issue as obvious as this. The Trump entities are raking it in.  He’s still an owner.  Unlike other presidents, he refused to give up his holdings or put them in a blind trust.  He’s benefiting; he’s made no effort to hide it.

  It should be a burning Congressional issue, but it’s not even being discussed.  Committees should have been convened, hearings held.   If the Republicans in Congress can’t get excited about Russia, they should wake up about actions that are clearly against the Constitution.  Instead,  the GOP House is fleeing, many  retiring and not take a drubbing in November and be left in campaign debt.  

There may never have been a cabinet member deserving of censure, if not impeachment, more than Scott Pruitt. He has abused his office, drawing favors from lobbyists, spending a sick amount on luxury items. His $40,000.00 phone booth smacks of Maxwell Smart.  He’s given extravagant raises to his aides.  Clearly, he has abused his office and violated the public trust. 

For that reason, Congress should vote to impeach Pruitt, because he won’t quit and his boss won’t cut him loose.  What if the plaintiffs sue to force Congress to impeach Pruitt and take action against Trump for rampant violations of the clause?

It would be a bold stroke for any judge to order Congress to act.  Unprecedented, in fact.  However, it would bite Democrats as well as Republicans.   And with a Chief Executive who refuses to execute the laws and a Congress that violates its oath to protect the Constitution, only the courts remain to enforce the law of the land.   Unfortunately with for years between presidential campaigns, four years is an eternity, and the damage done may be irreversible.  A court can’t act on its own initiative.  It needs a case in front of it.

My suggestion  is that the plaintiffs amend their lawsuit to seek a writ of mandamus (an order to compel) the Congress to take action to enforce the emoluments clause and to impeach. Secretary Pruitt.

Congress will push back, claiming that it is a political question, and the courts have no business entering into it. Nevertheless it’s time to call the question. We have a cowardly Congress, a corrupt EPA Secretary and a President smiling like a Cheshire Cat.   Four years is too long to wait to throw the rascals out.

Are You Tilting at Windmills or Can You Handle the Truth?

We at the Colonies welcome people of all beliefs, including those who believe in alternative facts; even those who tilt at windmills.  The phrase, alternative facts, was coined by Kellyanne Conway, to explain why the new administration had claimed its inauguration crowd was bigger than that of the 2009 Obama inauguration.  The National Park Service tweeted a side by side photo comparison showing the claim couldn’t possibly be true.  The Department of the Interior promptly shut down the NPS twitter account. 

For example, one of our readers who I will call Sasquatch (the mythical hairy, upright-walking, ape-like being)  did not agree with the latest post about the impact of the Michael Cohen investigation moving to New York.  Sasquatch concluded that I was a loser and a whiner. Now, I did lose a pair of gloves over the winter, but Sasquatch could not have known that.  Furthermore, I never whine, although sometimes I rhyne. That’s rhyme.

I decided to see who Sasquatch was and whether there were other “facts” which Sasquatch believed, but in fact were false.  I went to Sasquatch’s Facebook page and found this meme: 

The meme, with a quote by Thomas Homer-Dixon, a Canadian ecologist, allegedly concludes that the windmill pictured above requires so many hydrocarbons to build that it could run indefinitely and never generate enough power to save the hydrocarbons discharged in construction.  Is that the truth?  No, it’s not, unless the windmill is set down in a windless spot.

If the windmill is erected in a place that is windy, it will recoup the carbons in clean energy savings in as little as 3 years. If poorly placed,  it may never recoup its carbon cost. 

The meme based on the quote from Dixon’s book, Carbon Shift, purposely left out an important sentence.  According to fact-checking site, https://www.snopes.com:

In August 2015, a meme posted to the Google+ group “The Secret Society of Anti-AGW-ACC Cultism,” an organization that claims climate change is a hoax, started circulating online. While that meme (shown above) does reproduce the words of Thomas Homer-Dixon, the Associate Director of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation, it elides a crucial section of the passage to significantly change its meaning.

“In his book, “Carbon Shift: How Peak Oil and the Climate Crisis Will Change Canada (and Our Lives),” Dixon wrote that some windmills might not recoup their energy construction costs, a windmill at a good location could pay back the energy costs of creating it in under three years. That section was omitted from the above-displayed version of the quote:

‘The concept of net energy must be applied to renewable sources of energy, such as windmills and photovoltaics. A two-megawatt windmill contains 260 tonnes of steel requiring 170 tonnes of coking coal and 300 tonnes of iron ore, all mined, transported and produced by hydrocarbons. The question is: how long must a windmill generate energy before it creates more energy than it took to build it? At a good wind site, the energy payback day could be in three years or less; in a poor location, energy payback may be never. That is, a windmill could spin until it falls apart and never generate as much energy as was invested in building it.’

The meme distorts the truth. By example, drilling an oil well that turns out to be dry will be a net loser, just like a windmill set up in a windless place. The meme leaves out this critical fact, and Sasquatch, who didn’t bother to question it, is none the wiser and in fact propagates the lie by reposting it.  Alternative facts are lies—untruths and half-truths, told to advance a false agenda.  Really, Sasquatch, you also need truth-tellers on that wall.

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