Might Want to Make that 236 to 199: Serious Voter Fraud by the Melanin-Deficient in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District

North_Carolina_US_Congressional_District_9_(since_2017).tif

North Carolina’s 9th congressional district leans R+8. But Trump did a terrific job of rousing the rabble there, back in 2016, defeating Hillary by 12 percent—four percent more than the norm for the district.

This year, one Mark Harris defeated the Republican incumbent to become the nominee of the party in the ninth district. Reverend Harris is a prominent Southern Baptist minister, whose views of various matters of public interest may be savored in his Wikipedia entry.

This year, however, the current voting data show that the arrow of change swung back in a blue, leftward direction, by 11.7 percent—almost, but not quite, enough to elect the Democrat.

This, clearly, was something up with which Got would not put.

It now appears that, in the state where white folks seem to be most terrified of black voter fraud, the melanin-challenged among the North Carolinians decided to do some serious voter fraud of their own, in order to juice up God’s clear plan to elect Reverend Harris. In consequence, the election remains in doubt

When the Bough Breaks the Cradle Will Fall

This evening Jonathan Bernstein, a columnist at Bloomberg Opinion, discusses how Trump Is Losing His Influence. To sum up,

I’m not predicting anything. Just noting some obvious facts. The incentives for supporting Trump that have held since his election have suddenly become a lot weaker. In mid-July of 1974, President Richard Nixon could still count on virtually every conservative Republican in Congress to oppose his impeachment and removal, even if they weren’t exactly thrilled with him. By early August, he had only a handful of supporters remaining. That’s not to say that Trump’s support will necessarily evaporate — just that if it does, it could happen extremely quickly, perhaps in days. And nice, reliable, normal Mike Pence will be sitting right there.

Sounds about right to me. I have gone out on a limb several times to predict that Mike Pence will be our 46th President—after lots Republican politicians come begging senators of both parties to get on board with impeachment.

In the meantime, things are getting hotter and hotter for Orange Man. The craven time-servers among the empty-suited Republican professional politicians will cravenly serve time and wait for the denoument of the Mueller investigation. As the days go on, it will become ever more evident that, while they aren’t denouncing Orange Man, they aren’t affirmatively supporting him either. Ditto for the Acting Attorney General. Ditto for the Federalist Society judges. It will dawn on the Orange Man that his peeps are no longer his peeps. He will freak out. Faux News will freak out. And, one fine day, just like in August, 1974, the wind will blow him out of the tree.

How Did the Baby Get in the Tree in the First Place? And Does it Matter How He Got in the Tree?

The old nursery rhyme is surreal and disturbing, and it poses a lot of questions. Why did someone hang the cradle from a weak limb at the top of the tree, and then leave it there on a windy day? That seems like a rally bad idea, doesn’t it?

Kind of like the question, why did all those empty suits accept the Orange Sociopath in the first place?

But at a certain point, questions like that become moot. There is is, up in the tree, rocking from side to side, ever higher, as the wind’s velocity increases.

There he is. And the laws of physics determine his fate.

Tokyo Rose with a Smart Phone

The nursery rhyme also invites, but does not answer, the question, what happened to the baby? Probably nothing good.

In the case of Orange Man, I think Air Force One is going to whisk him off to his new dacha on the Black Sea, where, like Tokyo Rose with a smart phone, he will spend the remainder of his days tweeting out Russian propaganda.

But Three Rights Do Make a Left

Zinke responds to ethics criticism by calling Democratic lawmaker a drunk

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday accused the House Natural Resources Committee’s top Democrat of “drunken” behavior and paying “hush money” after the Democrat called for the secretary to resign for his series of ethics scandals.

“It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle,” Zinke wrote on Twitter after Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) published an op-ed asking for Zinke’s resignation — a remark that in most eras would be a stunning breach of decorum for a Cabinet member.

Of Joint Defense Agreements

joint defense agreement

There has been much talk lately about joint defense agreements, and specifically about the Trump/Manafort agreement. (I remember a talking head saying that there are actually 32 people involved.) See, for example, this explanation in the New York Times.

Unlike some of you, I have been party to many joint defense agreements, mostly in connection with civil proceedings but sometimes in connection with criminal defense of multiple targets. To bring the discussion down to earth, you may find the following word picture helpful and interesting.

A Real, Live Joint Defense Agreement

There have been scurrilous and wholly unjustified accusations of price-fixing in the widget industry. The lawyers for the various investigative targets enter into a multi-page joint defense agreement. After the grand jury begins to hear witnesses, a meeting takes place in a large conference room.

Seated around the conference table are a couple of outside counsel for each of the target companies. The chair convenes the meeting, reminds those assembled that the discussion about to take place is governed by the terms of the written agreement and that they must strictly observe it, and all the counsel nod their heads and say yes.

The chair then calls the first speaker, who identifies himself as Arius Aardvark, Esq., of Dewey Cheatum & Howe, counsel for the Alpha Widget Company. Arius continues by stating that on July 27 Mr. Adam Alpha, Alpha Company’s vice president for marketing, testified for about four hours before the grand jury. As per usual, Arius was not permitted in the grand jury room, but sat right outside. When Mr. Alpha was done testifying, Arius and an associate immediately took Mr. Alpha aside, and debriefed him extensively on what questions he was asked and what answers he gave the prosecutor.

Arius and his associate took detailed notes of the debriefing, but these notes are presented in a highly edited way. Reading from a carefully prepared text, Arius speaks for about twenty minutes, summarizing, or purporting to summarize, the gist of the testimony. Probably, this summary will contain no outright lies, but Arius may or may not be  economical with the truth, depending on what his client’s tactical interests may be and what they want their fellow investigative targets to know.

After Arius finishes his talk, there are might be a few followup questions from counsel for other companies about exactly what was asked and what was answered. There is, however, no discussion about, for example, whether Mr. Alpha testified truthfully or falsely, about how his answers might have been improved, and so on. That’s because the outside counsel don’t want to be charged with conspiring to suborn perjury. .

After Arius speaks, the chair calls on outside counsel for Beta Enterprises, and more of the same ensues.

What if Alpha is Guilty as Sin?

I’d also note that if Arius thinks his client can likely be proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, he is going to encourage Mr. Alpha, and the corporation for which he works, to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for leniency.

At that point, Arius will give formal notice of withdrawal from the joint defense agreement, in accordance with its terms.

Context

I hope this is helpful in providing some context for what looks so fishy about the continued cooperation between Trump and Manafort, while Manafort was cooperating with the government, or pretending to do so.

My own suspicion? As some others have suggested, my guess would be that Mueller found out, one way or another, that Manafort’s and Trump’s lawyers were continuing to have improper conversations, and used his interactions with Manafort to provide information to the Trump team that would misdirect them about how much Mueller really knew, and about what directions he was pursuing.

Remember that Title 18, Section 1001, makes it illegal for you to lie to the government, but not for the government to lie to you.

Character is Destiny

character

There are many things that might be said about the moment we are in. One is that we are witnessing a compelling morality play.

Michael Cohen Finds His Inner Moral Compass

I just watched the first part of Morning Joe, where Donny Deutch and Emily Jane Fox—both claiming much personal knowledge of Michael Cohen—assert that Cohen, Trump’s consigliere for many years, has truly repented for his sins and decided to join the side of the angels.

I, myself, don’t know whether that is true. But I know that repentance does happen, on rare occasions. And the conclusion that Cohen has repented is consistent with the currently available evidence.

Mark Whitaker Finds His Inner Fear of God

Whatever power he might theoretically have to slow down Mueller, as of this point, Whitaker has so far elected not to use that power for Trump’s ends. I don’t know what he will do in the future, and I don’t know on what bases he will make his decisions going forward. But it’s reasonable to assume that Mueller has told Whitaker some of what Mueller knows about Trump’s legal vulnerability. And that Whitaker, having befouled his pants, has decided not to go down with the ship.

Newly Minted Federalist Society Justices Look for their Inner Madison

Trump, being Trump, clearly thinks that all those Federalist Society judges he appointed will have his back, no matter what the facts are, and no matter what the law is. There is a metaphysical possibility that Trump is right.

But it’s more likely that Trump has made what is, from his perspective, a catastrophic error.

Whatever their faults—and they are many—Federalist Society folks like Bret Kavanaugh are not hacks.

The object of their affection is not Donald Trump, it is James Madison. James Madison, who warned of demagogues and based the Constitution on a system of checks and balances.

And don’t forget this. Trump can fire Whitaker whenever he likes. Trump cannot fire the federal judges whom he has appointed for life.

Republican Professional Pols Keep Cultivating their Inner Bobbleheads

There will come a time when they jump off the sinking ship. But they will be the last off. That will be after most of the lifeboats have been taken.

Donald Trump Continues to Embrace His Inner Clueless Idiot

Some great politicians are saints, some are devils, and some are in between. But they all have this in common: just as the conductor of the New York Philharmonic has the mental capacity to listen to the violins and the oboes and the cellos all at once, so also the great politician has an acute awareness of how the various parts of her constituency think, what motivates them, and what keeps them loyal.And, by the way, the great politician, whatever her moral underpinnings, fully understands the practical downside of bald faced lying and bad faith negotiation. The good politician makes the deals she needs to make, and then keeps her word.

Want an example of a great politician? Nancy Pelosi.

Trump, the black swan who got himself elected even though he is a clueless idiot, never foresaw that his consigliere might strive for sainthood, that Mark Whitaker might be shitless with fear, that “his” judges might not feel the need to overturn the rule of law in thanks for their appointment, or that the lickspittle professional politicians who once embraced him might be compelled to abandon ship.

Character is destiny. And so our destiny as a nation is being determined by the widely varying characters of the characters on the stage.

I am sorry to say that it is also a tale told by an idiot.

Republican Governors Association Meets, Flails Around

GOP governors call out Trump after midterm drubbing: Republican governors say the president and the party has to find a way to appeal beyond a narrowing conservative base to avoid losing in 2020:

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Republican governors are warning President Donald Trump that he and the GOP need to make a sharp course correction after their midterm shellacking to avoid losing again in 2020. …

In interviews, more than a dozen of the GOP’s most prominent governors and officials implored the party to address its plummeting support among women and upper-income suburban voters, pleaded with the president to ratchet down his rhetoric, and urged a rethinking of the party’s widespread use of slash-and-burn TV ads that fell flat in 2018.