Sunning Their Livers, Making Silly Arguments

sunning their livers

My father loved to speak in homespun metaphors. For him, “sunning your liver” meant engaging in incessant, mindless chit-chat. I think it’s a fine turn of phrase.

This afternoon, I wish to protest that far too many talking heads are talking nonsense. I know this sounds as if I think I am smarter than everyone else. Not so. But my desire to avoid the appearance of arrogance is overtaken by the need to call bullshit where I see it.

“It’s Highly Debatable Whether a Sitting President Can Be Indicted”

No, ladies and germs, that proposition is not legitimately debatable at all. It should be  obvious to anyone of the meanest intelligence that there are foreseeable circumstances in which an incumbent president would and should be subject to indictment. The point is so obvious, as an abstract matter, that even to pretend it’s debatable is to insult your own intelligence.

That said, whether or not it’s sensible and prudent to indict a particular president for a particular crime is a matter of judgment and discretion. Just as legitimate prosecutorial discretion should come into play in deciding whether the indict someone who cleans bathrooms for a living.

“Someone Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Steal an Election Through Election Law Violations and Then Cite His Incumbency as a Defense”

Righty-ho, as an abstract proposition.

But the truth of the abstract proposition does not in any way prove the accuracy of this concrete proposition:

“Trump Stole the Election by Paying Off Loose Women, Thus Concealing His Adulterous Affairs”

No, friends, given what was known of Trump’s character and behavior by the November, 2016, election, not a single, solitary vote would have changed even if twenty bishops had sworn they saw Trump paying hush money to Karen and Stormy, two financially motivated, large-breasted, middle aged women who had consensual sex with The Donald.

Trump’s voters did not give a tinker’s damn that he bragged of sexual assault—a very different proposition than consensual sex for money—or that 11 women came forward to charge him with sexual assault. They would not have cared about Stormy and Karen.

“But Trump Thought the Voters Might Care about the Tuties, So He Committed a Criminal Campaign Violation by Organizing the Payoffs”

Could well be true. And the boys and girls in the New York federal prosecutors office might even be able to persuade a jury to accept this view of Trump’s mental state as true beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are very anxious to indict Trump, so an indictment is inevitable.”

No, it isn’t. Whoever is running the Justice Department would need to approve.

But that raises an interesting point. If the boys and girls over at the Southern District of New York prosecutors office are hot to trot—and that certainly appears to be the case—and if permission is denied, then, won’t they be hot to indict their boss for exercising his powers in a corrupt manner?

The answer is: yes, they will.

William P. Barr, Esquire, is the kind of person who will have reasoned all this through. I don’t think he plans to get caught in a trap.

I reiterate that the man and his confederates have something up their sleeve.

Plutocratic Puppeteers Probably Plot

William Barr

Who is this man, and why does he have that shit-eating grin on his face?

His name is William P. Barr, and I do not know the source of his shit-eating grin, but this will not prevent me from engaging in some rank speculation.

Mr. Barr, whom Trump recently nominated to be Attorney General, has worked for the CIA, was a Republican political operative, and served as Attorney General from 1991 to 1993. During his time at the Justice Department he was known for his management skill and for his dexterity in dealing with scandals.

After Bush the Elder lost to Clinton, Barr served as Vice President and General Counsel of GTE Corporation, and subsequently held the same positions at Verizon. Following his retirement from Verizon in 2008, at the age of 58, he was briefly Of Counsel to Kirkland & Ellis.[1] After that brief stent in big firm practice—K&E’s current home page modestly advises us, “The American Lawyer Honors Kirkland as Best Law Firm of the Year”—Barr apparently spent the next nine years advising corporations as a solo practitioner, serving on corporate boards, doing charitable works, and generally enjoying his wealth and position.

In 2017, at the age of 67, Barr returned to K&E, again in an Of Counsel capacity.[2] And there he remains, awaiting his confirmation as the once and future Attorney General.

Now let us pose some questions.

Why didn’t K&E make him a partner in 2009, and why did he leave K&E?

These are mildly interesting questions. And of course I don’t know the answers. As to the first, though one would think he would have had all the credentials for a partnership, maybe he only wanted to work part time and worked out a lucrative deal that would allow him to do what he wanted to do, from a perch at Kirkland & Ellis.

And why did he leave after a short time? Maybe because they wouldn’t make him a partner.

And/or maybe because being a Kirkland & Ellis lawyer is just more fun than a human being can stand. If so, I feel his pain.

Why did Barr return to K&E in 2017, again as Of Counsel?

This, I think, is a much more interesting question. Surely, it was not for the prestige, because his new position added not one whit to his stature. Possibly, for the money, though I very much doubt it. Possibly because he was bored at home, and wanted to be able to eat lunch with a bunch of lawyers every day in the big dining room.

These are possibilities, but none of them seems persuasive. I think there must have been something else afoot.

Five Distinguishing Characteristics

Let us consider the distinguishing characteristics of William P. Bar, Esquire. I wish to draw your attention to five of them.

(1) He is as well connected in high level corporate, legal, and Republican political circles as any other person in these United States.

He is, in short, very much in with the in crowd: the plutocratic puppeteers who exercise lordship over us.

(2) He has a demonstrated track record as Mr. Fixit.

(3) He has, in the past, said things about expansive presidential power, and about Donald Trump, that Donald Trump would like to hear said.

(4) He has unquestioned credentials to be Attorney General of the United States, and everyone thinks he could easily be confirmed.

(5) And most importantly of all, unlike others, he appears willing and even eager to serve as Attorney General under Donald J. Trump.

And, be it said, he wants the job when others are skedaddling away as fast as their legs can carry them—despite any discernible reason why his thinking on that score would be different from others.

I do not believe there is any other human being who has all five of these characteristics.

An Inferred Plot

Right now, the plutocratic puppeteers have their tits in a ringer. Donald Trump, whom they thought was a useful idiot, has shown that his idiocy far outweighs his utility. The traditional Republican coalition is splitting apart. Progressive ideas are on the march. The plutocrats are essentially without a political home. Their agenda is in grave peril.

Their one hope is somehow, by hook or by crook, to get The Donald out of the White House, to insert Pious Pence in his place, and to reassemble the pieces of the coalition in time for 2020.

I have no knowledge of any plot to achieve these ends.

I infer such a plot.

I think it has to be there.

And since it has to be there, I infer that it is there.

The Linchpin of the Inferred Plot

One figure above all others would be key to my inferred plot to get rid of Donald Trump.

You guessed it.

That would be the Attorney General.

In short, I think that, in selecting William Barr as his next Attorney General, Donald Trump has been played, bigly.

And that, my children, is why I think William P. Barr, Esq., has that shit-eating grin on his face.

[1] An “Of Counsel” to a law firm is a high level legal employee of the firm, but not a partner of the firm. Sometimes, the title is given to an employee who has special skills and whom the firm wishes to retain on a permanent basis, but who would not cut the mustard as a partner. Sometimes, a person of the highest credentials who only wants to work part time might be named “Of Counsel.” Or, the title might be given to one who would be qualified for partner but for his advanced age. Other circumstances could apply.

[2] Info from Barr’s Wikipedia page and his K&E bio page.


“Why Trump is Likely to be Indicted by Manhattan US Attorney”


This is the title of an op-ed brought to you by an unimpeachable source, to wit, Its author is Andrew C. McCarthy. Mr. McCarthy is a right wing pundit, a lawyer, a former prosecutor, and a purveyor of conspiracy theories, e.g., concerning Obama’s “sharia agenda.”

While thinking irrationally about some topics, he can apparently formulate a reasoned argument of some complexity on other subjects. In this, he has much in common with the rest of the human race, including me.

A more accurate, though perhaps less enticing, title for McCarthy’s piece would be something like, How a Close Reading of the Legal Briefs Filed by Manhattan Federal Prosecutors in the Michael Cohen Matter Leads Me to Conclude They Have a Hardon to Indict Trump.

I won’t try to summarize McCarthy’s reasoning, which seems generally persuasive, but will instead commend the Faux News op-ed to your attention, should you be interested.

Some Additional Context

One, most of us don’t like criminals, and prosecutors especially don’t like criminals. Accordingly, inasmuch as Trump is a criminal, it isn’t surprising that the federal prosecutors in New York would have a serious hankering to indict him.

Two, as to whether they are “likely” to indict him, that depends on the views of the Attorney General. I assume that Whitaker would say no. What Barr will say is a very interesting question.

Three, McCarthy uses the opportunity to take a jab at Obama and “his” Justice Department, averring that Obama committed far greater sins than Trump in respect of campaign finance violations, and the Justice Department let him skate. Whatever the merits of that contention may or may not be, it looks as if the wingers are trying to build a case of prosecutorial discrimination.

Four, dropping back a step, I don’t think the best way to nail Trump would be to begin by charging him criminally for covering up his trysts.

Lots of people have the notion that you can have trouble keeping your dick in your pants and yet still be an acceptable president. And likewise, that trying to shush your mistresses is not the very worse thing in the world.

Remember Clinton?

For that matter, remember Thomas Jefferson?

But Trump’s career laundering money for Russian mobsters? Now, that could be a different matter entirely.

A Man Who Wants to Spend More Time with His Family

Nick Ayers


Take a moment to rub your nose in the biography of James Nicholas (“Nick”) Ayers, quintessential college Young Republican, protégé of Sunny Perdue, aide to Pence the Pious, all-around Republican Mr. Fixit.

When the Nick Ayerses of the world begin to grasp that Trump is circling the drain, this is a clue that Trump is circling the drain.


Sauve qui Peut

sauve qui peut

To the little collection of articles in the immediately preceding post, let’s add this very useful perspective by a criminal lawyer: Ken White, Manafort, Cohen, and Individual 1 Are in Grave Danger.

I spoke of several salient aspects of the circumstances in which we find ourselves at the end of this week: the increasing stench; the midterm numbers that indicate a well advanced, but still on going, process of cleavage between the hard core Trump cultists and everyone else; and the calculus of interest that will motivate the behavior of folks like William P. Barr.

Added to these are two additional considerations. One is that, with every passing day, it becomes clearer that Trump’s mental state is such that he cannot act rationally to preserve himself. I suppose at one point in his life he was able to act in his own best interest, but he has lost any such capacity.

In consequence, at a time of great legal peril, Trump’s words and actions deprive himself of the effective assistance of legal counsel.

That, in turn, means that people who would have been willing to support an evil but clever person must now abandon ship, lest the captain’s insanity result in their own death by drowning.

To Illustrate …

Alan Dershowitz, who is an intelligent but very strange person, continues to try to insert himself into the situation. Professor Dershowitz, who strove to teach me criminal law many years ago, plainly derives ecstatic delight in robust lawyering that gets guilty people off the hook. His long list of satisfied clients includes Mike Tyson, Patty Hurst, Claus von Bulow, O.J. Simpson, and Jeremy Epstein.

Quite understandably, Dershowitz looks at this rogue’s gallery of former satisfied clients, and grasps that Donald J. Trump fits in nicely with this crew. Plainly, Dershowitz wants to reprise his role as villain’s heroic defense counsel for at least one last time.

But there is this difference. Simpson and Epstein and von Bulow had the sense to get out of the way and let defense counsel do his work. With Trump, Dershowitz has no spark of evil intelligence with which to work. You can help an evil client. You cannot help an uncontrollable client.

And all Trump has left is poor Rudy Guiliani. Actual lawyers do not violate the Rules of Professional Conduct by making public statements regarding the nightmarish quality of the process of preparing interrogatory responses, or about their inability to control their client.

A real lawyer doesn’t promise to deliver a detailed rebuttal of the charges against his client, and then publicly excuse his inability to produce the rebuttal memo.

If you have they type of person as your lawyer, you do not have effective legal counsel.

Trump does not have effective legal counsel.

And, now, everyone with half a brain can see that Trump does not have effective legal counsel.

Sauve qui peut.

Admittedly, The Wish is Father to the Thought

House of Trump

Paul Waldman, The latest filings show that nobody can save Trump now

Sean Illing Interviews Craig Under, Trump’s ties to the Russian mafia go back 3 decades

The interviewer asks the muckraker a number of pointed questions. And, as far as I can tell, gets some pretty good answers.

David Atkins, It’s Not Looking Good for Individual-1

Friday, December 6th will mark the day that Donald Trump, aka “Individual-1,” was officially implicated as a criminal felon by American law enforcement. …

[M]uch as the entire GOP and the conservative media establishment have been preparing to brazen out the Mueller report, excuse away Trump’s crimes and call it all a witch hunt, one gets the sense that even they may have a breaking point. It’s one thing to visualize ignoring a festering pile of garbage next to you and just soldiering on regardless, but it’s another thing to actually do it when the stench comes wafting in. There have been signs, for instance, that Fox News may be cagily stepping back from Trump so as not to get sucked into the vortex with him.

Aardvark’s Morning Thoughts

Well, yes, there is the stench. And the stench factor—if you will, the aesthetic factor—is relevant and material.

But let’s put this in its larger context. The midterms demonstrate that Trump continues to do a wonderful job separating his hard core cultish base from everybody else, including the minority of remaining self-identified Republicans who are the cult’s erstwhile fellow travelers, not its core members.

That midterm numbers show that process is well under way, but it has some ways to go yet. Indictments will push it along.

When the point comes where there are only enough cultists to get you elected in the remoter parts of Montana or Mississippi, the empty-suited politicians’ calculus of interest will change.

And speaking of the calculus of interest, let’s look at a person like William P. Barr, our once, and perhaps future, attorney general. Folks who have successfully navigated the heights of the corporate and legal world understand that their main job is to assess the odds correctly, and to play the odds shrewdly.

It is very safe to assume that William P. Barr, Esquire, and his ilk know many things. And  one of the things that will be foremost in his mind is the 19-month stretch in the hoosegow by his predecessor John Mitchell. The charges were conspiracy, perjury, and obstruction of justice.

Right now, Barr has a really nice office at Kirkland & Ellis. He won’t have any wish to spend time in his predecessor’s cell.

The place where John Mitchell spent his 19 months was pretty comfortable, given that it was a prison. But it was still the hoosegaw.

A bottom feeder like Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general, might possibly have some difficulty figuring out that his number one job is to protect his own rear end. Barr will have no such problem. He won’t go down with the ship. Or, to be more precise—since he’s the type of person who plays the odds—he won’t act in such a way as to place himself in significant jeopardy of going down with the ship.

If Barr has to choose between himself and Trump, then I’m pretty sure the choice will be Barr over Trump. At least that’s how I would play the odds.