Friday, August 18, 2023

Last Call For Retribution Execution, Con't

As Jon Chait says, after Trump's fourth indictment, putting hundred if not thousands of Democratic politicians in state and federal prison is all that matters now to the MAGA chuds.
Donald Trump’s supporters, as you might expect, have not taken his latest indictment in stride. Charlie Kirk, writing in the Federalist, proposes a list of Democrats or liberal groups to charge in retaliation, proposing Hunter Biden, James Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorka, Black Lives Matter, the Southern Poverty Law Center, or “literally any Democrat, for anything.” Trump’s indictments, Kirk argues, “aren’t the product of a reasoned criminal inquiry. They are the product of years of work that started from the premise of ‘investigate Trump for literally anything, and bring whatever charges you can come up with, even if they’re invented.’”

What is perhaps more surprising is that Republican supporters of Trump’s erstwhile rivals are saying more or less the same thing.

“This may be the last indictment of Trump, but it won’t be the last indictment of its type. Expect to see this scenario repeat itself any time a conservative who rattles the establishment cage gets too close to winning,” said Laura Ingraham. “Whatever you think of the Trump indictments, one thing is for certain: the glass has now been broken over and over again. Political opponents can be targeted by legal enemies,” Ben Shapiro proclaimed, “Running for office now carries the legal risk of going to jail — on all sides.” In a column headlined, “Republicans must fight dirty — or America is finished,” Nate Hochman urged Republicans to start bringing legal charges against their political rivals.

Ingraham and Shapiro have both plumped for Ron DeSantis, and Hochman left a job at National Review to work for him (before being forced out after making fascistic, white supremacist memes for the campaign’s social media accounts). You might think they would depict Trump’s legal jeopardy as, if not fair punishment for his crimes, then at least a political vulnerability. It’s too bad prosecutors keep targeting Trump, but maybe the party should nominate a non-incarcerated candidate for president seems like an obvious case to make for DeSantis.

Instead, they are insisting all Republicans — or at least all Republicans who pose a real threat to the left — are equally vulnerable to prosecution. They are throwing away a strong rationale, perhaps the only remaining viable one, to nominate the candidate they prefer. Why?

The answer is that Republicans are genuinely obsessed with the potential for using the criminal-justice system as a political weapon. They are so obsessed they don’t even wish to imagine leaving behind a world in which prosecution is linked with political identity. “Victory or prison” is the political environment they affirmatively wish to inhabit. Trump’s predicament hands them permission to do what they have always craved. And now the campaign, which will be anchored around a series of criminal trials, will be framed around their desire not only to keep Trump out of prison, but to lock up as many of their political opponents as they can.

If you haven’t drunk deeply from the fetid waters of the conservative fever swamp, this impulse might seem incomprehensible. Trump’s legal jeopardy is easily explained: His private sector record was a long history of shady associations with gangsters and running scams. His presidency was a continuous procession of his own advisers pleading with him not to do illegal things while he complained that his attorneys weren’t as unethical as Roy Cohn, the mob lawyer he once employed.

If Trump were being charged because he was a Republican, rather than because he were an incorrigible crook, then why weren’t George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan hauled into court by their successors? Why are other liberal hate objects like, say, DeSantis, Tucker Carlson, or Marjorie Taylor Greene not facing criminal investigations right now?

But conservatives have constructed an alternative reality that obscures these facts. Right-wing news sources serve up a curated version of events that ignores or justifies misbehavior by conservatives and magnifies or invents crimes by their opponents, creating a belief system resting upon a foundational premise that Democrats are evil and criminal and always get away with it.

The whataboutism allows even Republicans who recognize Trump’s failings to justify supporting him. Because Democrats are allowed to commit crimes and walk away scot-free, Trump should be allowed to commit crimes. Because Trump is being prosecuted unfairly — it’s unfair even if his crimes are real, remember, because Democrats get away with it all the time — Democrats should be, too.
I think the real reason they're humiliated and crave revenge is that they believe they should be the party of smashmouth politics, and they're embarrassed that they've never been able to send a president or presidential candidate or House speaker to prison, while Trump's antagonists might. I think they believe they have a monopoly on political toughness, and Democrats are wusses (which, let's face it, they are much of the time), so a legal assault on one of their own seems to violate the fundamental laws of the universe. They know Trump is a crook, but they think think he ought to be able to get away with being a crook because he's a Republican. Trump is guilty of many crimes, but I'm sure they think they should be able to "create their own reality," one in which he's a selfless patriot who's under attack despite his obvious innocence. They've certainly created that reality within their own bubble, and it's killing them that the rest of us live in the real world, where he's guilty as hell and nearly everyone knows it.

So they think we stole their smashmouth act, and they think we're doing it better. And they can't stand it
Yep. And if Republican voters actually believed Ron DeSantis would lock up Democrats, he'd be doing a lot better than he is right now in polls. The Republican primary votes are being driven by vengeance, and they will have more than a year to soak in the bloodlust, although I suspect the primary will be over by Super Tuesday on March 5, and definitely be over by March 19 when Florida, Arizona and Ohio vote. None of Trump criminal trials will be over by then.

When November 2024 rolls around however, there's a chance Trump will be serving time. If you though the bloodlust was bad now, well...

Orange Meltdown, Con't

Trump's lawyers are requesting that, since Special Counsel Jack Smith had 2.5 years to investigate Trump's election interference charges, that Trump should have 2.5 years to prepare his defense and that the trial under US District Judge Tanya Chutkan shouldn't start until April 2026.

Citing extraordinary amounts of evidence — including a tranche of 11.5 million pages that prosecutors handed over earlier this month — Trump lawyers John Lauro and Todd Blanche said in court papers filed Thursday that a 2.5-year delay before picking a jury would properly factor in the complexity of the case.

The proposal stands in almost absurd contrast to prosecutors’ call for a trial to begin on Jan. 2, 2024, a highly ambitious timeline. And it sets up a consequential choice for U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who has indicated she will set a trial date by Aug. 28.

Trump’s proposal is almost certainly a non-starter. It would result in a trial six years after the events that formed the basis for the charges: Trump’s staggering and multi-faceted effort to subvert his defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 election. But his lawyers framed the decision in stark terms, noting the unprecedented nature of a leading candidate for president being prosecuted by the Justice Department led by his political opponent.

Trump’s lawyers also pointed to typical lags in more routine criminal trials in Washington, D.C.’s federal court.

“In this District, ordinary order when faced with such overwhelming discovery is to set a reasonable trial schedule, commensurate with the size and scope of discovery and complexity of the legal issues,” Lauro and Blanche wrote. “The government rejects this sensible approach. Instead, it seeks a trial calendar more rapid than most no-document misdemeanors, requesting just four months from the beginning of discovery to jury selection.”

The attorneys also noted that the district typically prioritizes trials for defendants who are in pretrial detention, a factor that is not facing Trump.

Unsaid in the brief, however, is another significant calculus. Trump could, conceivably, be back in the White House in January 2025. If that happens and the case is still pending, he could instantly shut it down, either by issuing himself a presidential pardon or by appointing an attorney general who would agree to dismiss the charges.

Special counsel Jack Smith has charged Trump with three conspiracies aimed at derailing the transfer of power to Joe Biden, in part through a campaign of disinformation aimed at disrupting state government and congressional efforts to certify the 2020 election.

In their court filing Thursday, Trump’s team also continued to push the notion that prosecutors have had 2.5 years to investigate the case, while Trump is only just beginning to prepare his defense. An April 2026 trial date would give Trump’s team an equal amount of time to prepare, they said.

But that notion is erroneous, prosecutors said in their own proposed trial schedule brief last week. They noted that Trump is privy to large swaths of evidence arrayed against him as a result of the House Jan. 6 select committee’s hearings and trove of public documents. And he also has access to millions of pages of records that overlap with the materials the government is producing to him — such as documents from his White House, his campaign and his PAC.

Chutkan has given no hints about the timetable she’s considering, but she has warned that she would speed up the timeline if Trump continues to make “inflammatory” remarks about witnesses and parties to the case that could influence the jury pool. She is also unlikely to be swayed by Trump’s claims of political malfeasance by prosecutors: During her first hearing in the case, she repeatedly emphasized that she won’t be factoring in Trump’s political candidacy or the politics of the matter at all in her trial decisions.
The legal nonsense is just what it is, nonsense. Trump's lawys know Judge Chutkan won't buy this for a millisecond. The point however is to continue to stoke anger and outrage by Trump's faithful against his "unfair" treatment, and maybe, just maybe, someone rids him of that troublesome Judge Chutkan. Even the very real prospect of such a grim act however is secondary to creating a path for Trump-appointed judges on appeal having a fig leaf to overturn all his convictions, preferably just ahead of the November 2024 elections.
In a just world, Trump would have long ago dropped out of the race and would be under house arrest waiting trial quietly. 
Sadly, that won't happen.

The Road To Gilead, Con't

Right into the lap of Justice Sam Alito, who will undoubtedly find some obscure codicil in the Code of Hammurabi to justify upholding the ruling of the 5th Circuit, which is the Uruk-Hai to Alito's Saruman anyway. All the lawyers seeking to ban the drug will need to do is talk very fast and use the word "abortifacient" a lot. And the ducks will all be marching in formation.

The assembly line between the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans and the chambers of the Supreme Court is the best example we have of how completely the conservative takeover of the federal judiciary is. It is the Wal-Mart of conservative judge shopping. The most recent former president* put four judges on that court including James Ho, who is a real prize. From the Texas Tribune: 
The 5th Circuit had upheld an Austin campaign donation limit — a maximum individual contribution of $350 to a city council candidate. His opinion seemed to challenge all restrictions on campaign donations, arguing that “if you don’t like big money in politics, then you should oppose big government in our lives...If there is too much money in politics, it’s because there’s too much government,” Ho wrote. A cash-flooded campaign system, he added, is “the inevitable result of a government that would be unrecognizable to our Founders.”
It was through the Fifth Circuit that the Dobbs case was shuffled from Mississippi upwards to Alito and his invisible chorus of 17th Century witch hunters. And now the circle is nearly complete. Sooner or later, some loaded court will declare all contraceptives to be "abortifacients," and that will be the final end for a protected right of privacy.

That's the big finish here after SCOTUS decides in the next year or two that abortion medications are illegal nationwide. It won't just be mifepristone. It'll be all contraception, including birth control medication, hormone therapy, IUDs, the whole works. That's the next milepost on the road to Gilead, and unless SCOTUS is stopped, it's going to be reality.
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