Supreme Court Hands Donald Trump Decisive Defeat

The January 6th Committee won today at the Supreme Court. But more importantly, the American people scored a solid victory at the Court, a win democracy truly required.

The Supreme Court soundly rejected Donald Trump’s request to block the release of some of his White House records to the congressional investigators seeking insight into the deadly and violent insurrection at the nation’s Capitol.

The order turned aside Trump’s request to block the record’s release while the case continues through the courts regarding his assertion of executive privilege. It means there is no legal obstacle to the release of the materials from the National Archives, and Trump’s lawyers have argued that would make the case moot.

There is one part to this story that I would have much enjoyed better understanding. The Court’s order did not provide insight into the reasoning that put Trump in his place. Only Justice Clarence Thomas made note of his dissent, but he did not offer any elaboration into this thought process. Nothing untoward should be taken from these outcomes as this was an emergency request that the Court processed.

But this does leave me with perhaps an esoteric question tonight. Is Justice Thomas the ultimate Federalist or what? With his siding with the idea that the Executive, even out of office(!), has the power to block Congressional oversight is simply more than I would argue, the Founders had in mind.

This issue, in my mind, was never and should have never become partisan. I firmly believe that the question for the Court was a critical one as it framed a (small d) democratic process question of great merit.

Weeks ago I had read Judge Patricia A. Millet; writing for a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on this case and pulled it up again tonight. I offer what she said in light of Thomas’ action.

She wrote, “. . . .Under our Constitution, we have one president at a time.”

How then would a former president have the power of such a privilege as Trump asserted? Plainly put, there is no such power or right.

The Court ruled today correctly for the direct issue at hand, but also, and perhaps even more importantly, for the larger issue at hand, too.

And so it goes.

Tightening Legal Noose Around Donald Trump And His Crime Family

The news came late on Tuesday night. For some in the nation, it may have seemed just another legal news story. In fact, the news was most worthy of headlines as it put Donald Trump and his crime family into a great deal of legal uncertainty.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James made a direct accusation at Donald J. Trump’s family business for knowingly and repeatedly misrepresenting the value of its assets to bolster its bottom line. For my conservative readers let me punch down on the bottom line. Such “fraudulent or misleading” practices run counter to the laws of New York and the nation.

The law does apply to would-be-autocrats and the family.

The document released on Tuesday made it clear that the Trump operation had produced misleading statements about the value of at least six Trump properties. The properties included golf clubs in Westchester County, N.Y., and Scotland, flagship buildings such as 40 Wall Street in Manhattan, and Mr. Trump’s own penthouse home in Trump Tower.

What that means is the company misstated the value of the properties to lenders, insurers, and the Internal Revenue Service. Maybe Trump supporters who find this nothing more than just ‘partisan politics’ might try to go way out of the box when filing their taxes this year and find, too, the power of the law. Trump, again and again, had a pattern of inflating figures about his net worth.

This is like so many others parts of Trump’s life. He is a liar. (Even telling people his New York penthouse had 33,000 square feet when in reality it is 11,000. Or continually claiming that the building had 68 stories when in reality it has 58.) Who acts like this for decades on end?

This time, however, the fraudulent actions and perversion of truth by Trump will carry legal consequences.

This is really not rocket science for the rank and file in the nation. The rules are simple. Don’t lie about your assets and don’t lie about your revenue. Most honest people not only understand those rules but live them.

And for those who do not there are legal actions that will bring compliance.

And so it goes.

Can Republican Party Continue To Be A Governing Party?

Because it is true that our nation requires two highly functioning and rational political parties, it is, therefore, incumbent capable and adroit people gather with other like-minded people and consider how to salvage the Republican Party.

There are times to wrestle with policy differences and while there are significant numbers of them between the two major players in American politics, they are not the reason for this post. Rather it is necessary to grasp the fact there is a crisis eating at the very foundation of our democracy and the political institutions that have guided this nation from the start.

Charlie Sykes, who is known in Wisconsin as a true conservative–one of those reliable ones without an ever-changing lodestar–wrote a pithy snapshot article of where the modern-day GOP now finds itself. With Donald Trump holding a rally this past weekend Sykes had plenty of material to use for his message.

You could see the GOP future in the whole show: a rally that featured all the misfit toys embraced by the Once and Future God King. The My Pillow Guy, Mike Lindell, was there, and treated like a rock star rather than a mental patient off his meds. Indeed, Trump’s rally featured the whole pantheon of deplorability; Rep. Andy Biggs and Rep. Paul Gosar were there, along with the state’s batty party chair, Kelli Ward.”

“Even as he lashed out at Arizona Governor Doug Ducey — a ‘terrible representative of your state’ — Trump embraced State Senator Wendy Rogers, one of the wooliest conspiracy theorists extant in American politics. And that’s really saying something.”

“And, of course there was the Trump-backed candidate for governor, Kari Lake, who seems to have a fetish for jailing people she doesn’t like.”

We have seen over and over a trend line that can not be escaped. Almost every Republican in Congress has remained tightly loyal to Trump, despite ongoing controversies that have produced, and correctly so, significant criticism. But turn into the Op-Ed pages and you will find many former Republican lawmakers along with high-profile conservatives (like Sykes and Joe Scarborough) making strident cases why Trump is unfit to lead the party, and the future of sound governing requires a national party course correction.

The base of the Republican Party has been so indoctrinated with falsehoods and conspiracy theories that current elected members seem unable to take a different path, in fear of alienating that base and losing their seat. But unless the echo chamber is muted, and a dialogue of facts and reason can be again planted in the party the dangers to the nation continues.

Over the decades of my life, the Republican Party knew the value of international alliances, free trade, and a foreign policy that was shaped by our interests and not personalities. Today one has to ask, in light of Trump and his supplanting personal needs over the whole of the party exactly what now defines the GOP? What precisely are their beliefs in 2022 and going forward to another presidential season?

I recall when the GOP was about ideas. Today the anger and resentments of many in the base present more of the reason to be a member of the party rather than the work required of actually governing. Such as when former Congressman Jack Kemp wanted to empower inner-city neighborhoods with jobs. Or Senator Dick Lugar who worked on foreign policy with long-term considerations at where our nation needed to be a quarter of a century away.

Governing is tough work in the best of times, but what is always best for the nation as a whole, is to have two political parties pulling legislation up the hill together. There will be changes in the load being carried and differences in the pace taken, but citizens respond to such combined efforts at doing the nation’s work. The absolute dysfunction of one major party, however, with conspiracy theories being sold, is not something a governing democracy can endure.

And so it goes.

Stephen Colbert Nails Donald Trump, Low IQ Republican Supporters On Jan. 6th Insurrection Anniversary

Simply brilliant.

After a national day of reflection and memories of the violent and deadly attack on our nations’ Capitol, an insurrection spawned by Donald Trump and carried out by his base of supporters, it was perfect timing at night for Stephen Colbert to air a perfectly unique and honest conclusion to the day.

Dimwits are the best one can say about those who follow Trump blindly.

Never Forget January 6th, Editorial Cartoons Of Donald Trump Insurrection On Nation’s Capitol

Today, January 6th, is the anniversary of the violent rioting and deadly outcome on our nation’s Capitol caused by Donald Trump and his supporters. Over 140 law enforcement officers were injured. We must grasp that event was not a solitary one that is now over and done. Instead, the 6th was akin to the first shots fired at Fort Sumter in 1861. The roadmap for further violence and an even more dire stab at the heart of democracy is outlined by Republicans who have simply made up their minds to steal the 2024 presidential election.

Republicans have argued, out loud and in the light of day, for a crazy upside-down theory where, for instance, a state legislature could undo the will of the state voter. For example, if more people in a state voted for a Democratic nominee a legislature would still have the power to pick a slate for the Republican nominee to be counted at the Electoral College.

Editorial cartoonists have placed the madness and danger to our democracy into some powerful drawings that have been published in newspapers around the country. I offer a broad sampling.

Guns, Guns, Guns, Guns…..

The news from Rockford on Tuesday about gun violence did not make the headlines as there was a bevy of reports about COVID, a staggering traffic jam on icy roads in Virginia, and court trials (such as Dane County’s Chandler Halderson murder case) that sets shivers down the spines of even the most jaded among us.

But guns played havoc in communities far and wide causing great angst for the law enforcement community.

Following a shooting at Auburn High School Tuesday afternoon that left two teens injured, Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd made an impassioned plea to parents of violent youth, to end gun violence in the city.

“You all know who the kids are who have the guns, who have access to guns. They’re your kids, your neighbors, and your grandkids,” Redd said.

Stop sitting on your bottoms and doing nothing about it.

Every single day in every state and in multiple communities within each state the number of gun shootings, killings, and injuries mount.

In Chicago for instance, there were more gun-related homicides in 2021 than in any other year on record, according to officials. Cook County’s 1,002 homicides, a total that includes Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, was 121 higher than the previous record from 2020 and almost twice as many as the total from 2019.

Just two days before the Monday announcement by the county medical examiner’s office, Chicago police reported that there were more homicides in Chicago, 797, in 2021 than in any year since 1996. There were 772 killed in 2020, and a much lower total of 498 in the year before, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In New York City a recorded 485 murders took place in 2021, a 4% increase from the 468 tallied in 2020. It needs noting that the surge was driven by a startling surge in gun violence across the city. Last year there had been 1,857 shooting victims in that city.

One can comb through the statistics coast-to-coast and see gun violence shot upwards—sorry for the bad pun–as gun-related deaths among kids and teenagers increased during the pandemic. The reasons for the crime rates over the past two years are being studied as to why it occurred.

But it needs stating that this medical crisis in the United States could have been averted in large part with a fact-based White House in 2020 along with the absence of continual lies aimed at the most gullible within the Republican Party. When the larger social implications of not addressing the virus in a most serious fashion during the Donald Trump administration are examined the deaths due to a host of social ills will need to be cited.

Gun violence, not surprisingly, has most demonstrated its wrath and harsh realities on the poor, Black and Hispanic youth over the past years.

When it comes to guns and protecting our youth from getting their hands on the weapons, as Rockford law enforcement talked about on Tuesday, one does have to place that daunting social problem alongside the pandemic and ask a most basic question.

If people can’t even figure out how to manage to wear a face mask correctly, how in the world do we expect them to manage gun ownership?

This blog continually speaks out for gun control measures at the same time it responds to the latest gun violence that the misinterpreted Second Amendment has unleashed on the nation. My first letter to the editor as a teenager was printed in the Waushara Argus. The reason for my letter concerned the need to bring sanity to the issue of gun ownership.

Four decades later and the problem is worse than ever.

And so it goes.

Ronald Reagan’s Patriotism No Longer Part Of Republican Party

As we approach the first anniversary of the insurrection and rioting at the United States Capitol, which was fomented by Donald Trump and his strategists and carried out by his thuggish supporters, I thought about another political event from the Republican Party.

Though it occurred in 1980 and was vastly different from the January 6, 2021 events of death, bloodshed, and attacks on law enforcement shown on national television, it does lend itself to better understanding the gravity of the situation today. Our democracy is under attack.

I recall the excitement from July 1980 when CBS’ Walter Cronkite interviewed former President Gerald Ford. There was an electrifying buzz that reached from the convention hall to the home in Hancock where I was thrilled by the unfolding political drama. It was broadly speculated that Ronald Reagan had selected Ford as his vice-presidential running mate. The constitutional questions were talked about among correspondents and guests concerning Ford reportedly wanting more authority than any other vice president had ever been given.

That episode remains the most exciting convention moment of my life, which also underscores the diminishing role such gatherings play in the presidential nomination process.

That memory, however, also serves as a reminder of what the Republican Party once was, the timber of the people center stage who wished to serve and be elected. No one doubted the patriotic mindset of Reagan, the moderate and process-minded character of Ford. So much since then has changed in the Republican Party that it now can be reported with a vivid image of what that party now represents.

This is how The Economist framed the issue.

The Republican Party has been consumed by grievance politics–recall how conservatives once used that term on liberals and swore to be above such behavior? The modern GOP also has proven to have a stunning degree of swallowing capacity for conspiracy theories.

True to form they have continued to attack Jews, be it George Soros or an outlandish notion of space lasers used by Jews to start forest fires. In the process, the party has catered to a base of voters not concerned with institutional norms, and let’s be frank, not the ones completing the reading assignments in civics or history classes.

The issue at hand, the survival of our democracy, should not be a partisan contest. Tax policy, education funding, and transportation infrastructure can and should create partisan coalitions. But the procedure for counting Electoral College votes, the availability of places to cast a ballot without undue burdens, the need for an end to gerrymandered political districts, and not placing in statutes undemocratic restrictions to fundamental rights should all be broadly accepted.

But, as we sadly are all too aware, they are not.

The Big Lie about a ‘stolen election’ that Trump spawned and continues to repeat has found a wide range of converts within the GOP. The threat of more violence in the years ahead from those who might lose an election is a very plausible possibility. Especially, if the laws and penalties for taking such actions, like that occurring almost a year ago, are not put into effect.

There was plenty of room to argue with Reagan in the 1980s over policy moves regarding unions, tax cuts, and massive defense spending. But no one doubted for a nanosecond that Reagan was not immersed in the love of country and abiding faith in democracy. When was the first time anyone accused Trump of being like-minded?

Today, the Republican Party has reversed course on many philosophical underpinnings that were at their core (free trade and international alliances), and instead openly and deeply embraces an autocrat who shuns morals and openly cheats and lies. How far removed the Republican Party is from the days of Ronald Reagan.

Let us be honest, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford would find it hard to even be elected delegates to a national Republican convention today. Much less be national nominees.

And so it goes.

Donald Trump And The Second ‘Gettysburg Address’, Or Is He More Akin To James Buchanan?

I received my booster shot on Tuesday and am feeling great. The only thing noted about the past 24 hours that is a bit different is my raving hunger. Homemade chicken and rice at midnight (and pickles!) are not usual.

It was this morning as I was finishing the leftovers for breakfast–minus pickles–that I first heard a most outlandish news story.

In his new memoir, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows compared former Donald Trump’s post-COVID hospitalization speech to the Gettysburg Address.

Meadows, whose book “The Chief’s Chief” was released on Tuesday, attempted to illustrate how Trump’s brief speech urging Americans not to fear the coronavirus reminded him of former President Abraham Lincoln’s magnum opus.

“Although the prose wasn’t quite as polished as the Gettysburg Address, delivered by President Abraham Lincoln after the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, it had the same compressed, forceful quality that had made President Lincoln’s words so effective at the time they were delivered,” Meadows wrote.

Had the news not been reported on NPR I would have thought the booster had caused a bit of mental confusion. When I did a quick online search I learned the booster was not the cause for my ‘hearing’ issue, as the information was, sadly, correct.

When one has no actual understanding of history, no grounding in substance and fact….well, this type of book happens. It was shockingly ignorant for Mark Meadows to have written such lines. And for an editor to let it slide. Or a publishing house to consent to roll it off the presses.

For those who do know history, the character and wisdom of President Abraham Lincoln, and the sacred nature of Gettysburg, will quickly grasp the utter insanity of what Meadows wrote. Likewise, we know that Meadows would have a far easier time connecting Trump to President James Buchanan.

Readers might say, ‘but was not it strongly rumored that Buchanan was gay’, while Trump is a known womanizer, even when married to his third wife? And we know from reading about the man who was in the office prior to Lincoln that he was always dignified. When was Trump ever accused of that?

So how, then, the comparisons?

The reason I consider it most fair to link these two is the air of sedition and treason that was rampant in both of their White Houses. Donald Trump was the center of the most dangerous attack on our nation’s foundation since the Civil War. We know from reading that Buchanan had fire-eaters in his cabinet who were fomenting succession. Trump had an array of wild-eyed and dangerous operatives pushing forward with undermining the results of a presidential election made by the people.

Had Meadows been, at any level, a reader of history he could have better found the analogy he was seeking for his book. James Buchanan.

Meanwhile for the bottom line.

“Donald Trump’s former chief of staff has been all over the news for all sorts of reasons, but his new book “The Chief’s Chief” is barely budging on the Amazon sales chart. At last check, the book is #1,436 on Amazon — a very disappointing start for a promising title that’s generating so much press” Per CNN’s Brain Stelter earlier this week.

And so it goes.