The Mahablog

Politics. Society. Group Therapy.

The Mahablog

Looking Forward to the Indictments

Yesterday I linked to a column by Aaron Blake, Trump’s nonsensical riff on past presidents and classified documents at the Washington Post. But what I was too slow to put together is that the nonsensical riff amounted to a confession that he took the government documents and kept them on purpose.

Seth Meyers picked up on it, too.

See also:

On Monday’s edition of CNN’s “The Situation Room,” legal analyst Elliot Williams broke down the controversial argument Trump made at his Mesa, Arizona rally in defense of hoarding classified documents at his Florida country club — an argument his legal team has so far declined to make when under oath in court.

“I had a small number of boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago guarded by Secret Service and my people and everybody,” said Trump in the clip played on CNN. “I mean, it’s safe. There is no crime, there is no crime. It’s not a crime. And they should give me immediately back everything that they’ve taken from me because it’s mine, it’s mine.”

“So when you listen to that, does it make the attempt to blame that government agency look even more absurd?” asked anchor Wolf Blitzer.

“It does,” said Williams. “That is what prosecutors would call a confession for a crime, and the mere fact that you think it’s not a crime doesn’t change that fact. Look, Wolf, I can burn your house down and if I burn your house down and say, you know what, I didn’t commit arson, I was just playing with fire at Wolf’s house, it’s still an act of arson. Whatever, we don’t even need to explain that point.”

Andrew Weissman called Trump’s words at the rallies a “summation exhibit.”

Aaron Blake explained the “socks decision” Trump keeps talking about, which was about some recordings of President Clinton’s.

The recordings weren’t kept in Clinton’s sock but rather in his sock drawer (as Trump later correctly said)

More important: Clinton didn’t leave the White House with the recordings; they were stored in a sock drawer in the White House during Clinton’s tenure.

And they weren’t classified; they were tapes of conversations Clinton had with an author who was working on the president’s oral history.

A court decided that Clinton could keep the recordings, but of course the facts of this case in no way resemble what Trump did.

And Aaron Blake explained the bowling alley/Chinese restaurant that received papers of G.H.W. Bush.

In 1994, the Associated Press reported that items from Bush’s personal life were being sorted in College Station, Tex., “in the old Chimney Hill Bowl” and “in what used to be the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant.”

It’s not at all clear what Trump was referring to by broken doors and windows. But the idea that there was “no security” is flat wrong. As the same story noted: “Uniformed guards patrol the premises. There are closed-circuit television monitors and sophisticated electronic detectors along walls and doors. Some printed material is classified and will remain so for years; it is open only to those with top-secret clearances.”

In other words, NARA built a secure facility in what used to be a Chinese restaurant/bowling alley.

Trump keeps bringing up Barack Obama also, but in every case the records he claims past presidents “took” were in fact in the custody of the National Archives at all times. And still are. They were never in the ex-presidents’ custody, even though NARA set up facilities near where the ex-presidents were living so that records they might want to consult were convenient to them. If Trump had asked I’m sure NARA would have done the same for him.

At The Atlantic, Franklin Foer writes that Merrick Garland will indict Trump; it’s just a matter of when. This and similar arguments I’ve seen recently boil down to the same primary point — Trump isn’t giving Garland any choice in the matter. Going around telling crowds of people that the stolen documents are “mine” is pretty much asking to be prosecuted.

The story is that Garland is a cautious and modest man who would rather swallow live frogs than indict a former president, especially one with a violent and cultish following. He knows that would put him at the center of a nuclear media firestorm at least. It’s a shame nobody could slam some criminal indictments on Trump before the primaries. But maybe it won’t be long after. If it isn’t Merrick Garland, maybe it will be Fani Willis in Georgia or — less likely, I suspect — Manhattan DA Alvin L. Bragg.


Trump Lawyers and the Circular Firing Squad

So on Friday Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb told the Justice Department that the reason she certified back in June that she knew for a fact all the sensitive government documents at Mar-a-Lago had been returned, when they hadn’t … is that another lawyer told her to do it.

The other lawyer was Evan Corcoran, Bobb says. It was Corcoran who drafted the certification, she says. And she was not bright enough to insist that if he thought the certification was accurate, why didn’t he sign the bleeping thing? Live and learn.

Rolling Stone:

The news that Bobb is dishing to the feds, reported initially by NBC News, comes just over two months after the FBI searched Trump’s Palm Beach estate, where they found scores of sensitive, classified documents. This means Bobb’s statement was false, of course. She claims it’s not her fault, though, reportedly telling investigators that one of Trump’s other lawyers, Evan Corcoran, told her to sign it.

NBC News adds that Bobb insisted a disclaimer be added to the letter that it was based on “information that has been provided to me.” The person who provided said information, she told investigators, was Corcoran. “She had to insist on that disclaimer twice before she signed it,” a source told the outlet. “She is not criminally liable. She is not going to be charged. She is not pointing fingers. She is simply a witness for the truth.”

How noble. Just for fun, let’s look at what Marcy Wheeler wrote back on September 4:

There’s something weird about the argument that Trump’s lawyers — each time with the participation of Evan Corcoran — are making about the search of Mar-a-Lago. What they claim they’re up to is all over the map, and has evolved (for example, their first filing focused on Executive Privilege, but in last week’s hearing, Judge Aileen Cannon had to remind Trump lawyer Jim Trusty that’s what he was supposed to be arguing).

But their true goal, it seems, is to learn enough about what was taken so they can attempt to claw back certain materials that would incriminate Trump for reasons other than the sheafs of highly classified information that were stored in an insecure storage closet. It’s a two step process: Learn what was taken, so they can then argue that its seizure was a gross violation of the Fourth Amendment under what’s called a Rule 41(g) motion.

And to that end, the first filing argued that they need a more detailed inventory, describing what was seized and from where, so Donald Trump can make a Rule 41 motion claiming it was improperly seized.

They’re all kind of making it up as they go along, I suspect.

In related news — Yesterday Trump had a rally in which he claimed that all the other presidents took classified documents, too, except they didn’t. See Aaron Blake, Trump’s nonsensical riff on past presidents and classified documents at the Washington Post.

Republicans Will Forgive Herschel Walker

I was only sort of following the Herschel Walker meltdown this week. I’ve also started to read the Maggie Haberman book on Trump, Confidence Man. All I can say about it right now is that it’s very long and describes Trump’s entire life, starting when he was a bratty toddler. (I should say “when he was a child”; he’s still a bratty toddler, of course.) Right now I’m still in the 1980s.

But one thing I did not realize until I stumbled across it last night was that Trump knew Herschel Walker in the 1980s. Walker played for the New Jersey Generals U.S. Football League team when Trump owned it, ca. 1983. Some of you may have remembered that, but I am very sure I paid no attention whatsoever to Donald Trump and the U.S. Football League back then. According to Trump’s own account of several years ago, Walker used to call Trump if he didn’t think the coaches were playing him enough, and so Trump would override his coaches.

When Walker decided to run for the Senate seat in Georgia he’d been living in Texas for a decade. Did he call Trump and ask him for help in getting a Senate nomination in Georgia? Did Trump ask him to run? It just seems so random that Walker would suddenly decide to run for the U.S. Senate at this point in his life.

See also GOP crisis in Herschel Walker race was nearly two years in the making in the Washington Post. The GOP could have stopped him from being the nominee if it had tried. Much of his history of domestic abuse was in the public record, not to mention the fact that he hadn’t actually lived in Georgia for a very long time. But they gave him a pass.

In early 2021, as football star Herschel Walker considered running for Senate, he approached some of Georgia’s top Republican operatives about advising his campaign. The operatives were warned about political vulnerabilities in Walker’s past — including allegations of violence against women — that were openly discussed in the state’s political circles, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Walker’s reaction to being confronted with the allegations was also troubling, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. When the consultants would ask the candidate about incidents even in the public record, he would often get simultaneously defensive and aggressive, accusing the questioner of being a Democratic plant or ally of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the minority leader.

Walker’s getting “defensive and aggressive” when asked about his past pretty much confirms he’s a domestic abuser, IMO.

Those consultants passed on working with Walker, but he pressed ahead with his campaign. After all, Walker’s overwhelming name recognition in Georgia as a Heisman Trophy-winning football star and backing from former president Donald Trump instantly made him so formidable that state and national Republican leaders didn’t mount a serious challenge in the primary, despite concerns about Walker’s baggage.

So what if he’s a brain-damaged, violent, lying piece of crap? He used to play football! And Trump likes him! What more do you want in a Senator? Compare/contrast college dropout Walker to the Rev. Raphael Warnock, his opponent. Warnock is an upright man of integrity with no baggage I know of and a PhD from Union Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with Columbia University. And he is an actual Baptist minister. But Warnock supports abortion rights, and he’s a Democrat. So the white evangelicals support Walker. And I bet Walker will lose very few white evangelical votes just because he paid one of his girlfriends to have an abortion.

Maureen Dowd has a column up now about how both Walker and Trump have a history of being abusive, in various ways, of women, and this never seems to cost them any support. But if your base is a pack of misogynists (including the women), why would it? I’ve said before that the real difference between people who support legal abortion and those who don’t is not whether you think a fetus is a living person deserving of rights, but whether you think a woman is a living person deserving of rights and not just some kind of walking sex appliance. Opposing abortion is the perfect issue for misogynists because it enables them to abuse and punish women while imagining themselves to be on a righteous, moral high ground.

But, really, what’s really important to them is being able to abuse women, which is why, deep down, a lot of evangelicals probably don’t care whether Walker paid for an abortion.

In a lot of ways the Walker candidacy is the closing of an old loop. Back when Roe v. Wade was decided, white evangelicals didn’t really care about the abortion issue. No, seriously. They considered abortion to be a Catholic issue. White evangelicals in the early 1970s were still fighting against racial segregation. Their biggest issue was how to keep their schools all white and still qualify for taxpayer dollars. (It wasn’t until the late 1970s that they started to define desegregation as an assault on religious freedom.)

In the late 1970s some Republican political operatives persuaded Jerry Falwell and others to join in the antiabortion crusade in exchange for at seat at the table in a potential future Reagan Administration. By then the white evangelicals were probably realizing that segregation was a lost cause. So they became “pro life,” and now opposing abortion seems to be the single most important issue defining white evangelicals. And the former segregationists don’t seem to care that Herschel Walker is black, any more than they care that he’s a dishonest, abusive sack of shit who may very well suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy from his football days, assuming he wasn’t always a dimwit. He’s just the guy to help keep women in their place.

Of course, Elie Mystal for several weeks has been saying that Herschel Walker is what racists want to see in blacks. — a stupid brute who will do as he’s told. (See also Mistal, The Herschel Walker Senate Campaign Is an Insult to Black People.) After he said this in an interview Republicans started screaming that Mystal is the real racist.

So the question is, if the Republican nominee were black but someone educated, intelligent, respectful of women, and without baggage — well, forget it; such a candidate never would have been nominated by Georgia Republicans. Walker’s brutishness and abusiveness is part of his appeal. He’ll be forgiven for the abortion.

Stuff to Read

Sorry I’ve been busy. Here are some stories you might not have heard about elsewhere. I plan on writing something tomorrow.

Republicans really do have higher covid death rates than Democrats.

New York AG Letitia James smacks down Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

See how much territory Ukraine has taken back from Russia.

Lindsey Graham said the Capitol insurrectionists should have been shot in the head. Seriously.


Trump Wants His Documents Back

Regarding Trump’s appeal to Clarence Thomas to get the 11th Circuit out of his documents case — this can go either way, IMO. In a sane world Trump’s request wouldn’t have a chance, so we may see how corrupted Clarence Thomas truly is.

First, this is what Trump wrote on his social media platform yesterday:

“NARA lost a whole hard drive full of HIGHLY SENSITIVE information from the Clinton White House — more than 100,000 Social Security numbers and addresses, Secret Service and White House operating procedures (EXTREMELY SENSITIVE!), political records, and who knows what else. They left the hard drive in an unsecured location, and didn’t realize it was gone for months — some say the data could have filled millions of books, and NARA admitted the material was ‘personally identifiable,’ impacting thousands of White House staffers, visitors, and even one of Al Gore’s daughters. NARA actually had to offer a large ($50,000!) reward to try and get the information back. What else have they ‘lost’? How can Americans trust a system like this? There is no security at NARA. I want my documents back!”

In other words, he’s saying that because NARA lost an external hard drive with personal information (but not national security secrets) on it thirteen years ago, Trump can demand to get “his” documents back. Government documents are still not “his” documents.

Here’s some information on Trump’s arguments to Clarence Thomas at SCOTUSblog:

Trump contended that the court of appeals lacked the power to put Cannon’s order on hold because the Biden administration had not specifically appealed that order and because, in any event, it was not the kind of order that can be immediately appealed.

Even if the court of appeals did have the power to review Cannon’s order, Trump added, it should have allowed her ruling to stand. Alleging that Trump “had sole discretion to classify” documents generated during his presidency, he argued that Cannon properly referred the issue to a special master “to determine whether documents bearing classification markings are in fact classified.”

As I recall, Judge Dearie determined that unless anyone could prove otherwise, all documents marked classified are in fact classified. Trump’s recollections of what he might have done, or wish he had done, do not count.

See also Marcy Wheeler’s interpretation. I’m going to quote a big chunk of it.

At first, Trump argues that Cannon has not ordered DOJ to share classified records with anyone but Dearie. That’s false: She ordered DOJ to share classified records with Trump’s lawyers.

In fact, in the very next paragraph, Trump admits that Cannon’s order is worse to that in Al Odah a DC Circuit case decided per curiam by a panel including Merrick Garland. Fawzi Khalid Abdullah Fahad Al Odah was a plaintiff in a habeas petition — as an enemy combatant he hadn’t and never was charged with a crime — but he was challenging indefinite detention with inadequate due process. By comparison, Trump has not been charged and if and when he is charged, his lawyers will get to see the classified evidence against him. For now, he’s just a plaintiff and the record is uncontested that the warrant executed on his beach resort involved no gross abuse of his rights.

Without acknowledging that the claim Cannon only ordered DOJ to share with Dearie is false, Trump makes the argument that DOJ should have to share with Trump’s designees under the Presidential Records Act. As DOJ has already noted, of course, that’s only true of the records are where they are supposed to be: In the possession of the Archives. They’re not, and that’s part of the problem.

Another part of the problem is that, elsewhere in this appeal, Trump unquestioningly invokes EO 13526, which governed classified information for the entirety of his term and still does. As I’ve noted, that explicitly says even former Presidents must get waivers of Need to Know requirements to access classified information. Trump never changed that order before he became a former President.

In the next paragraph, Trump then complains that DOJ might complain about sharing all of this information with Dearie (and Trump’s lawyers) but might decide to share some of the information with witnesses. Again, elsewhere in this appeal, Trump unquestioningly invokes Navy v. Egan, which is the Supreme Court precedent that says the President — not the former President — gets to decide who needs access to classified information or not.

And nowhere in this argument do Trump’s lawyers admit something that DOJ laid out explicitly before the 11th Circuit: At least one of them, Evan Corcoran, is a witness or possibly even a co-conspirator (DOJ referred to his lawyers, plural, as potential witnesses, suggesting Lindsey Halligan (who was at Mar-a-Lago during the search) or Jim Trusty has had a role in the obstruction process as well. Of course, Trump also neglects to mention the obstruction part of the investigation, which makes all documents with classification marks proof that Trump defied a subpoena.

In other words, Trump is even more poorly situated than Al Odah, who at least had lawyers uninvolved in his potential security concerns. The only one of Trump’s lawyers who’s definitely not a witness, Kise, is also the one who recently was a registered agent of Venezuela.

As I keep saying in this matter, no one really knows how any of this will turn out. Trump’s argument that Ginni Thomas’ favorite President is no Gitmo detainee surely will work with Clarence, who will decide whether to take this appeal (or ask the entire court to weigh in). But along the way, Trump has compared himself unfavorably — legally, at least — with a former Gitmo detainee.

Update: This tweet thread from Steve Vladeck notes that Trump never describes what irreparable harm he faces if Dearie can’t review the classified records now.

Update: One more thing Trump doesn’t tell SCOTUS: That Judge Cannon has altered her own order, taking the classified documents out of it altogether, which makes Vladeck’s point about emergency relief even more hysterical.

Update: Justice Thomas has given the government a week to respond, which suggests even he doesn’t see this as the emergency it would have to be for SCOTUS to get involved.

On one hand, Trump’s case is weak. On the other hand, Clarence Thomas and the Federalist Society majority at SCOTUS..

On one hand, surely all of the justices have read the hand-wringing over Aileen Cannon’s judicial incompetence by the nation’s legal scholars. They must realize that if they side with Trump they will lose even more of their extremely flimsy legitimacy.

On the other hand, Clarence Thomas and the Federalist Society majority at SCOTUS. I am making no predictions.



Today on the Eastern and Southern Fronts

Worth watching. The Russian “military” may be about to implode.

Also, this is what retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said on Face the Nation on Sunday.

LT. GENERAL H.R. MCMASTER: Hey, good morning, Margaret. It’s great to be with you. Well, this is a tremendous victory for – for the Ukrainians. And it’s a victory that I think that they could turn into a cascading series of defeats of Russian forces. This is the – the encirclement of Lyman and the- and the Russian forces pulling back, but also, in the last two days, the Ukrainians also simultaneously defeated a Russian- a Russian counterattack and also made progress further in the south near the strategically important city of Kherson. And I think, Margaret, what we might be at here is really at the precipice of- of really the collapse of the Russian army in Ukraine, a moral collapse. And- and I think they must really be at a breaking point. If you look at just the numbers of casualties, the vast area that they’re trying to defend, and now, of course, Russia is trying to mobilize conscripts and send them to- to the front untrained. And I think it’s very important to- to also understand that these forces that are in full retreat now out of Lyman were really the first round of mobilization. Remember when Putin was trying to recruit more and more people with paying about three-times the- the average wages to get so-called volunteers to go forward. Those forces were hastily trained, thrown into that front, and these are the forces that are collapsing just right right now.

Today’s big headline at the Washington Post is Ukraine hammers Russian forces into retreat on east and south fronts. Ukrainian troops are pushing further into the areas Russia allegedly “annexed.”

Meanwhile, Tucker “Axis Sally” Carlson is a big hit on Russian television for blaming  everything on Joe Biden, saying that if there is nuclear war it will be entirely Biden’s fault.  At least CPAC recognized it had gone too far —

I haven’t seen any recent polling on U.S. public opinion on the Ukraine War, but I have a real hard time believing that anyone not plugged into Fox News half the time has much sympathy for Russia in this, or blames President Biden.

This is going to drag on for a while, but in the long run I don’t see any way this is going to end that doesn’t involve some variation of bye bye, Vlad.

An Out of Control Supreme Court

According to Mark Joseph Stern at Slate, law school professors are having apoplexy over the Supreme Court’s recent decisions.

At law schools across the country, thousands of professors of constitutional law are currently facing a court that, in their view, has let the mask of neutrality fall off completely. Six conservative justices are steering the court head-oninto the most controversialdebates of the dayand consistently sidingwith the Republican Party. Increasingly, the conservative majority does not even botherto provide any reasoning for its decisions, exploiting the shadow docket to overhaul the law without a word of explanation. The crisis reached its zenith between September 2021 and June 2022, when the Supreme Court let Texas impose its vigilante abortion ban through the shadow docket, then abolished a 50-year-old right to bodily autonomy by overruling Roe v. Wade. Now law professors are faced with a quandary: How—and why—should you teach law to students while the Supreme Court openly changes the meaning of the Constitution to align with the GOP?

About a month ago I was reading that Republicans in Congress want a new constitutional convention so that the Constitution can be rewritten. This is rich, considering that Republians for years have pretended they revere the Constitution as something like Holy Writ, and they say it’s Democrats who want to violate it. It’s notable that Trump, in his infamous January 6 “fight like hell” rally speech, mentioned the Constitution more than a dozen times. For example:

“What an absolute disgrace that this can be happening to our Constitution.”

“We’re supposed to protect our country, support our country, support our Constitution, and protect our constitution.”

“And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a, a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution.”

“Today, for the sake of our democracy, for the sake of our Constitution, and for the sake of our children, we lay out the case for the entire world to hear. You want to hear it?”

“I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country.”

Trump, of course, doesn’t know the Constitution from ketchup, and I doubt many in the crowd could pass a high-school level test on it, either. “Constitution” in this case is more of a mystical invocation of whatever they think “Americanism” is rather than the actual Constitution. The truth is that the Right hates the Constitution as written, because it protects the nation from the kind of thuggish authoritarianism they’d like to impose.

Back to Mark Joseph Stern:

The problem, it’s worth emphasizing, is not that the Supreme Court is issuing decisions with which left-leaning professors disagree. It’s that the court seems to be reaching many of these conclusions in defiance of centuries of standards, rejecting precedent and moderation in favor of aggressive, partisan-tinged motivated reasoning. Plenty of progressive professors have long viewed the court with skepticism, and many professors, right- and left-leaning, have criticized the reasoning behind certain opinions for decades. But it’s only in recent years—with the manipulation of the justice selection process combined with clear, results-oriented cynicism in decisions—that the problem has seemed so acute that they feel it affects their ability to teach constitutional law.

“It’s hard to think about your own profession—the things you were taught, the things you believed in—abruptly coming to an end in rapid succession,” said Tiffany Jeffers, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. “It’s hard to ask a law professor to dismantle all the training they had. It’s a difficult, emotional, psychological transformation process. It’s not easy to upend your life’s work and not trust the Supreme Court.”

It’s been a while since I quoted Charles Pierce:

I, for one, am happy to see Justice Elena Kagan slugging back at Justice Sammy “Strip-Search” Alito and his Federalist Society love-monkeys. While Dobbs gets all the attention, the final weeks of the last term were a veritable orgy of conservative policy dreamshots, and there very well might be a truckload of them to follow. 

Justice Kagan has been speaking publicly but generally about the legitimacy of courts. She’s not naming names or citing specific decisions, but she’s been saying things like this:

“I think judges create legitimacy problems for themselves – undermine their legitimacy – when they don’t act so much like courts and when they don’t do things that are recognizably law,” she said in New York earlier this month.

“And when they instead stray into places where it looks like they are an extension of the political process or where they are imposing their own personal preferences,” she added.

Roberts and Alito both pushed back. Roberts tried to re-frame the issue as a simple disagreement about the law, but Alito said,

“It goes without saying that everyone is free to express disagreement with our decisions and to criticize our reasoning as they see fit,” Alito, who penned the decision reversing Roe v. Wade last term, told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. “But saying or implying that the court is becoming an illegitimate institution or questioning our integrity crosses an important line,” he said.

Alito needs some correcting, I say.

Ruth Marcus warns that the next term could be worse than the past one.

Nothing in the behavior of the court’s emboldened majority suggests any inclination to pull back on the throttle. The Supreme Court is master of its docket, which means that it controls what cases it will hear, subject to the agreement of four justices. Already, with its calendar only partly filled, the justices have once again piled onto their agenda cases that embroil the court in some of the most inflammatory issues confronting the nation — and more are on the way.

Last term, in addition to overruling Roe v. Wade, the conservative majority expanded gun rights, imposed severe new constraints on the power of regulatory agencies and further dismantled the wall of separation between church and state. …

…“They’re impatient,” Harvard Law School professor Richard Lazarus said of the conservative justices, especially the longest-serving, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. “They’ve spent a lot of time waiting for this majority to happen, and they don’t plan to waste it.”

If so, that is a perilous course for an institution whose very authority is grounded on the presumption of stability. If the majority insists on its current and hurried path, it risks deepening the very questions about the court’s legitimacy that have tormented the justices — divisions reflected in the bellicosity of their written work and that have erupted, in recent weeks, into their public debate. At a moment of extreme and increasing national division, change of such velocity and breadth is unhealthy not only for the court but also for a nation being asked to abide by its rulings.

See also SCOTUS Threatens the Planet from three months ago.

E.J. Dionne:

I know, I know, we are regularly lectured by justices that we are supposed to think of the court as nonpartisan. But that sentiment is belied by the ferociously partisan nature of the court’s recent rulings — and the highly partisan way this conservative majority was created.

It’s also laughable that conservatives, including the ones on the court, should be shocked that their bellicose use of the confirmation process and judicial power should inspire such fury from Democrats. For decades, it was Republicans who ran against liberal courts — and “judicial activism” and judges who “legislate from the bench.” It turned out they were happy to legislate away once they got the votes.

For what it’s worth, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson disagreed with Gorsuch already. See also The Supreme Court Is On The Verge Of Killing The Voting Rights Act at FiveThirtyEight.  And for a good laugh, see Alexandra Petri.

My hope is that if the Democrats have the majority in Congress next year, they will at least try to increase the number of justices on the court. A message needs to be sent that the Court is not untouchable.

Our Ongoing Disasters

Josh Marshall has a very good essay about Putin and the war in Ukraine that I recommend. It doesn’t seem to be behind a paywall.

Also at TPM, see Josh Kovensky’s latest on the outrageously partisan Judge Aileen Cannon and also Josh’s commentary on how corrupt she is.

A publication called the Business Standard that I am not familiar with is saying that Cannon could be removed from the case. I’m not seeing this elsewhere, so take it with a grain of salt. But here it is:

Former federal prosecutor Robert Katzberg made the case that US District Judge Aileen Cannon’s continued interference in the work being done by special master Raymond Dearie in the matter of government documents allegedly stolen by  could lead to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals stepping in and taking the case from her, media reports here said.

Earlier in the week, the Trump-appointed Cannon gave Donald Trump’s legal team an assist by ruling that they did not need to comply with an order from Dearie and reply in a filing whether they believe the FBI agents lied about documents recovered at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort almost two months ago.

As Katzberg sees it, the Department of Justice could appeal, which they did late Friday, and that they may have a compelling case to ask for Cannon’s removal — although such moves rarely occur.

Adding that the 11th Circuit has already stepped in to curb some of Cannon’s excesses, Katzberg claimed it might be open to stepping in in a more forceful way.

“The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals has already filed a stinging opinion that contains ample criticism of Cannon to quote in support,” he wrote.

“Appeals courts are hesitant to remove judges from a case, but here, there is a clear record of questionable decisions that have stymied an extremely significant criminal investigation and, per the DOJ, undermined national security. Under these unusual circumstances, reassignment might well be an appropriate solution,” he said.

In other news, Marjorie Taylor Green is telling her followers that Democrats are killing Republicans.


Putin Is Backed Into a Corner

The  day after Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of Donetsk and three other regions of Ukraine, Russian troops abandoned Lyman, a strategic city in eastern Donetsk. Ukrainian forces have retaken the city. They are expected to advance further east from there.

This Washington Post map shows what Russia occupied yesterday. The red stripes indicate areas dominated by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, and the pink parts show where Russian troops were in control yesterday. This is after seven months of fighting.

Back on August 8, the U.S. Defense Department estimated that as many as 80,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded in Ukraine. A month ago it was estimated that Russia had lost more than 2,000 tanks and almost 49,000 military personnel. That pink territory has been very expensive. I don’t know how much Russians understand about what’s going on, but I suspect that if they were shown the map above and asked if the “gains” were worth the sacrifices their nation is making, they would say no.

Last spring a lot of commenters were saying that Putin wouldn’t back down, although that was before everyone knew how incompetent his military was. Now that Putin has made his big annexation declaration, along with a big, splashy public rally about it, he hasn’t exactly given himself a graceful way to step back. I fear the only way this war can possibly end is with Putin’s removal from power.

I fear Putin may have become something like a cult leader. Think Jim Jones, David Koresh. Having given themselves godlike status, when the outside world started closing in they chose destruction, taking themselves and their followers with them. They couldn’t bear being ordinary human beings again. I have no idea how rational Putin may be. The speech he gave yesterday isn’t reassuring.

During the 37-minute address, Putin decried “Satanism” in the U.S., referring to transgender issues in a tone suggesting a seasoned viewer of stateside conservative media. “The repression of freedom is taking on the outlines of a ‘reverse religion,’ of real Satanism,” he said, adding that the open attitudes toward gender identity are a “denial of man.” In a question posed to “all citizens of Russia,” he asked, “Do we really want to see perversions that lead to degradation and extinction be imposed on children in our schools from the earliest years, for it to be drilled into them that there are supposedly some genders besides women and men, and offered the chance to undergo sex-change operations?”

The invasion of Ukraine, in this light, is a battle against these values and the “the ruling circles of the so-called West,” which Putin referred to as “the enemy” and “deceitful and hypocritical through and through.” He paused for applause as he condemned western colonialism in Asia, from the Opium Wars to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “They created a precedent,” he said in a terrifying addition, referring to the nuclear attacks. In more recent aggressions, he also blamed the U.S. and allies for blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines connecting Russian natural gas to the European Union.

(Here in the U.S., our own Tokyo Rose is also pushing the theory that the U.S. sabotaged the Nord Stream pipeline. See Russian TV is very excited about ????? ???????’s Nord Stream theory.)

See also Putin Is Trying to Outcrazy the West.