The Mahablog

Politics. Society. Group Therapy.

The Mahablog

Again, the Problem Is Guns

Regarding the Kansas City Chiefs rally shooting — two juveniles are in custody. I haven’t seen how old these juveniles are. The Kansas City police are saying the juveniles started shooting because of a “dispute between several people.” The shooting had nothing to do with any ideological agenda, they say. No one has said if any of the people injured, or the one person killed, were involved in the dispute.

Of course, had these juveniles not been carrying firearms, there would have been no shooting. In Missouri, a juvenile, a person under 18 years of age, can purchase a firearm with a parent’s permission. As I understand it, to carry a concealed weapon one must be at least 19 years old, or 18 years old and a member of the armed forces. I haven’t found information on an age limit on open carry. Maybe there isn’t one.

Further, no permits or licenses are required to own and carry firearms in Missouri. One must assume a lot of people in that crowed were armed. Yet no “good guy with a gun” stopped the shooting. One juvenile was tackled to the ground and held for police by an adult attending the event, but he didn’t use a gun.

It’s a long-established fact that juvenile males tack the sense God gave potatoes. Note that it’s illegal in Missouri for people under 21 to consume, purchase, or possess alcohol. But firearms? No problem.

A lot happened today that I am too tired to address, but do feel free to discuss whatever in the comments.

News Updates

I’ve been offline most of the day because my wifi likes to take time off, and I’m just now learning there was a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl celebration in Kansas City. I understand one person has died, a few are critical, and three people are in custody. We know nothing about the shooters at this time. If we find out that this shooting is somehow connected to all the nonsense about Taylor Swift, examples need to be made of those shooters. Really nasty examples.

I understand Jack Smith has filed his response to Donald Trump at the Supreme Court already. The gist of it is to get the SCOTUS to act without delay.

I’m going to go ahead and hit the publish button while the wifi is working. More later, maybe.


The New York Special Election

Republicans’ slim lead in the House got a little slimmer last night with the election of Tom Suozzi to the seat vacated by George Santos. Note that most polls and punditry had predicted a close election, but with 93 percent of votes counted Suozzi is ahead 53.9 percent to 46.1 percent. A comfortable lead. Once again, the Democrat “overperformed.”

Some writers at Politico said,

Unlike most other suburbs across the country, Long Island and the outer boroughs of New York City have raced to the right since former President Donald Trump left office. Between 2021 and 2023, Republicans won the Island’s four congressional seats and almost every major local office, and the GOP gubernatorial nominee won both of Long Island’s counties by double digits in 2022.

Aaron Blake at WaPo says that Republicans tried to make the election about immigration, which I would have thought would have worked in a district that is mostly in Long Island. But it didn’t.

Republicans turned to the issue early and often, pointing to a 2022 Suozzi comment about having “kicked ICE out of Nassau County” as county executive.

But Suozzi, who left Congress to run as a more moderate primary alternative in 2022 to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), emphasized his pragmatism on the issue, calling for tougher border security and supporting the bipartisan Senate deal that Republicans ultimatelyT torpedoed last week. Pilip echoed GOP attacks on the bill, saying that “it simply puts into law the invasion currently happening at our southern border.”

The New York Times, of course, is tripping all over itself explaining why we can’t read anything about other elections into this one. The snowstorm probably discouraged a lot of same-day voters, who are more likely to be Republican. (However, I suspect anyone who really wanted to get to a polling place could have.) I have read Democrats outspent Republicans on this race by quite a bit (but why was that true? Is the GOP short on cash?). The Republican candidate, Mazi Pilip, was inexperienced at campaigns and said weird things.

Suozzi is expected to be sworn in as a member of the House today, if he hasn’t been already. And the chance that would happen is why Mike Johnson ran the second bogus impeachment vote on Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary. And as you no doubt heard, this time it passed by one vote. And this is just political theater being performed to please Donald Trump and the MAGAts. And it could backfire.

Speaking of ICE:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has drafted plans to release thousands of immigrants and slash its capacity to hold detainees after the failure of a Senate border bill that would have erased a $700 million budget shortfall, according to four officials at ICE and the Department of Homeland Security.

The bipartisan border bill that Republican lawmakers opposed last week would have provided $6 billion in supplemental funding for ICE enforcement operations. The bill’s demise has led ICE officials to begin circulating an internal proposal to save money by releasing thousands of detainees and cutting detention levels from 38,000 beds to 22,000 — the opposite of the enforcement increases Republicans say they want.

Democrats, for a change, need to get their act together and stay on a clear, simple, consistent message that this could happen and it’s Republicans’ fault.

SCOTUS Drags Its Feet, and Other News

This is disappointing.

Chief Justice John Roberts is giving prosecutors a week to respond to former President Donald Trump’s request to keep his federal criminal election-subversion trial on hold while he tries to persuade the Supreme Court to scuttle it entirely on the grounds of presidential immunity.

A brief docket entry from the court Tuesday morning said special counsel Jack Smith has until next Tuesday at 5 p.m. to address the emergency application Trump’s lawyers filed at the high court Monday.

I really was hoping the Court would just deny certiorari and be done with this crap. I guess not.

Why is this important, anyway? Here’s something at Talking Points Memo that isn’t getting enough attention — Josh Kovensky, Two Weeks of Chaos.

Donald Trump’s months-long effort to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election culminated on a single, now-infamous day: Jan. 6.

But there was an alternate scenario gamed out by Trump’s lawyers — one that would have expanded the hours of indecision caused by the Trump campaign’s efforts and stretched out the process for weeks, all the way until Jan. 20, 2021, the Constitution’s ironclad deadline for the transfer of power. If their scheme succeeded, these lawyers hoped, Joe Biden would never take office.

The details of this scheme are being revealed here for the first time. They are drawn from a trove of documents provided to Michigan prosecutors by Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro, including thousands of pages of emails among Trump’s lawyers, some containing information that has never before been published.

The plan would have seen the Trump campaign pushing Republican lawmakers to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s win not just on Jan. 6, but for days afterwards. GOP legislators would have feigned confusion over competing slates of electors, paralyzing Congress as the Trump campaign brought increasing pressure on the Supreme Court to step in and resolve the election in their favor. 

To do this, Chesebro formulated various ways to invalidate the Electoral Count Act, the law laying out the procedures for Congress to certify the election on Jan. 6. Critically, the law places tight limits on how long individual lawmakers can debate disputed electoral votes — nullifying or inflating those limits, capped at five minutes per member and two hours total, could make Jan. 6 go on indefinitely. 

Kovensky followed this with The Ideas Man: How Chesebro’s Most Radical Theories Entered Trump Campaign Planning for Pence and Jan. 6. And I see that this is a three-part (so far) series. The first installment is The Legal Coup.

While at TPM see also David Kurtz, Candidate Trump Keeps Doing Putin’s Bidding And No One Bats An Eye.

There are a lot of other good commentaries today to link to. In no particular order —

Jamelle Bouie, The New York Times, Trump Is Losing It. No paywall. Just read it.

Paul Krugman, The New York Times, Why I Am Now Deeply Worried for America. No paywall.

Greg Sargent, The New Republic, An Infuriating Poll Finding About Trump Should Galvanize Democrats

In other news: The Senate very early today passed a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Twenty-two Republicans voted with nearly all Democrats. The three Dems who voted against it were Peter Welch of Vermont, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. They were protesting the $14 billion for Israel.

Here is the fun part: House Speaker Mike Johnson is already saying he won’t let the House vote on it because, get this, because it lacks the tougher border security measures the House asked for months ago. Um, dude, seriously? We did this already. There was such a bill a few days ago, and you let it be known the House wouldn’t pass it on orders from Donald Trump. Chuck Schumer says nope. This is the bill that’s going to the House. Pass it, or reject it and face the consequences.

“But His Memory” and Other News

Do read Will Bunch’s column at the Philadelphia Inquirer, ‘But His Memory’ and the slow train wreck of American democracy.  It begins,

Some night around the year 2064, when the ragtag children of the last historians huddle around a cave fire and mix up some berries and the blood of their groundhog dinner to paint crude images of what the heck ever happened to the United States of America, they will probably render a depiction of Feb. 8, 2024 — a date which will live in infamy.

There are so many images to choose from — a corrupt and contented black-robed Supreme Court putting the last rubber stamp of cowardice on a nation’s failure to hold a coup leader accountable, or a White House press corps shouting like a pack of wild hyenas at President Joe Biden about his 81-year-old brain while ignoring the orange blob of Donald Trump as he plots the betrayal of Europe and a kind of American Kristallnacht against immigrants.

To see last Thursday unfold in real time was like watching the wreck of a slow-moving train, with democracy heading like Wile E. Coyote toward a cliff and nobody — not a Supreme Court bought and paid for by billionaires, nor a judiciary too easily gamed by inertia, nor a Congress engineered to produce only gridlock and gibberish, nor a gullible news media lacking backbone — throwing the switch to stop it. And the American people?

No one bothered to get off the couch.

Just go ahead and read the rest of it. The Inquirer usually lets you read one thing  before it puts up a paywall, but I suggest using an incognito or private window to be safe. And then see David Kurtz at TPM, On The Road To Fascism, A Pit Stop To Fuel Up On Stupid. And Judd Legum, Popular Information, Media creates Biden “fitness” crisis / And lets Trump off easy.

By now everyone in America has heard some variation of the “Biden is senile” story. How many have heard the “Trump ready to abandon our NATO allies to Russia” story? News reporting is hard work, so you’d think those at the peak of the profession would have more skill than this. But a Biden “gotcha” to the White House Press Corps is like a squirrel to a dog.

Michael Tomasky at The New Republic, The Only Mental Acuity I’m Questioning These Days Is the Mainstream Media’s.

I have written what I’m about to write here probably 20 times in the last couple years, and I’ll write it 20 more or 200 more until I see people starting to get the point. In terms of how the American political media works, we have recently crossed a dark Rubicon. We now live in a world, which I believe we entered after January 6, 2021, in which the right-wing media sets the national agenda. The mainstream media follows.

Going way back in time, we had only a mainstream media—the Times and the Post and the Associated Press and the major networks. In the 1970s, after the famous Powell Memo, wealthy conservatives began funding their own media. For most of the last 50 years, even as the right-wing media grew, it remained clear that the mainstream media set the agenda—that is, it determined what we all talked about every day.

Speaking of Trump and NATO, see Emptywheel, Call and Response: Putin Demanded Greater Russia and Trump Agreed. “Over the weekend, Putin and Donald Trump seem to have come to public agreement that, if elected in November, Trump would help Putin pursue Greater Russia.” Marcy is saying that Trump’s babbling about NATO over the weekend is a response to Tucker “Axis Sally” Carlson’s Putin interview.  I do think that most of Trump’s “ideas” about NATO came from Putin. Perhaps not directly, but Trump doesn’t have enough brain any more to think his own thoughts. Putin planted nonsense about NATO in Trump’s head at some point, and that’s what’s coming out of Trump’s mouth.

Today’s Trump’s lawyers should be filing his appeal of the “immunity” decision to the Supreme Court, but I haven’t heard yet that they have done so. It would be fun if they missed the deadline.

Update: JD Vance is a craven poser. I haven’t liked him since he wrote that book about his loser malfunctioning family and framed it as portrait of all “hillbillies.” He don’t know squat about hillbillies, but I’ll put that aside. Just look at this crap he wrote for the American Conservative.

Trump Thinks NATO Is a Country Club

Trump is ranting about other NATO countries not “paying their bills” again. The BBC:

Donald Trump has said he would “encourage” Russia to attack any Nato member that fails to pay its bills as part of the Western military alliance.

At a rally on Saturday, he said he had once told a leader he would not protect a nation behind on its payments, and would “encourage” the aggressors to “do whatever the hell they want”. …

… Addressing crowds during the rally in South Carolina, Mr Trump said he had made his comments about Russia during a meeting of leaders of Nato countries.

He recalled that the leader of a “big country” had presented a hypothetical situation in which he was not meeting his financial obligations within Nato and had come under attack from Moscow.

Mr Trump said the leader had asked if the US would come to his country’s aid in that scenario, which prompted him to issue a rebuke.

“I said: ‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’… ‘No I would not protect you, in fact I would encourage them to do whatever they want. You gotta pay.'”

He’s been going on about this since he was running for POTUS in 2016. He seems to think that NATO countries pay dues (to whom, I wonder?) and that some countries are behind on their dues. At least he wasn’t claiming these NATO countries owed the U.S. money this time, This is from 2018:

“Many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money from many years back, where they’re delinquent as far as I’m concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them. So if you go back 10 or 20 years, you’ll just add it all up, it’s massive amounts of money is owed.” …

… “There is no ledger that maintains accounts of what countries pay and owe,” says former Obama administration National Security Council staffer Aaron O’Connell. “NATO is not like a club with annual membership fees.”

But it’s obvious that Trump thinks of NATO like a club with membership fees, and he thinks, or at least he thought for awhile, that the U.S. is stuck making up the difference if some countries fall short.

NATO countries make a commitment to spend X percent — 2 percent, I think — of their GDP on defense, which means they’re supposed to be putting that money into their own militaries. They aren’t paying the U.S. They aren’t paying some NATO homeowners association. It’s true that some of the countries may not have reached the commitment, but that’s something NATO countries have to deal with among themselves without threatening to break the alliance over it. Especially now, when most of the world’s economies are struggling a lot more than the U.S. is struggling, and facng higher inflation than we’re facing.

In other news, I’m seeing that Trump has ordered Senate Republicans to not pass foreign aid bills.

Donald Trump spent the weekend telling senators they should not pass more unconditional U.S. foreign aid. More than a dozen Republicans ignored him Sunday, moving forward on a bill to send $95 billion in aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

The Senate voted 67-27 to advance the foreign aid supplemental spending bill that doesn’t include border provisions, moving it another step closer to passage. That still isn’t guaranteed, as leaders haven’t yet reached an agreement on GOP-demanded border amendments. …

… “From this point forward, are you listening U.S. Senate (?),” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “No money in the form of foreign aid should be given to any country unless it is done as a loan, not just a giveaway.”

He doesn’t grasp that most of the time, “foreign aid” serves U.S. interest in some way. It’s not doled out just because of the goodness in our hearts. The only “interest” Trump understands is money. He thinks the U.S. should be a for-profit enterprise, I guess. But the only way Trump knows how to make a profit is to cheat on his taxes.

Is This the Dementia Election?

Here’s something I wish more people could read — at The Atlantic, see What Biden’s Critics Get Wrong About His Gaffes by staff writer Yair Rosenberg. .Rosenberg makes the point that people who speak a lot in public will sometimes get caught mis-stating things, like names and places, and this is normal,

On Sunday, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson went on television and mixed up Iran and Israel. “We passed the support for Iran many months ago,” he toldMeet the Press, erroneously referring to an aid package for the Jewish state. Last night, the Fox News prime-time host Jesse Watters introduced South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem as hailing from South Carolina. I once joined a cable-news panel where one of the participants kept confusing then–Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Representative Pete Sessions of Texas. I don’t hold these errors against anyone, as they are some of the most common miscues made by people who talk for a living—and I’m sure my time will come.

Normally this sort of thing is just overlooked, unless the speaker is elderly.

Yesterday, President Joe Biden added another example to this list. In response to a question about Gaza, he referred to the Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as the president of Mexico. The substance of Biden’s answer was perfectly cogent. The off-the-cuff response included geographic and policy details not just about Egypt, but about multiple Middle Eastern players that most Americans probably couldn’t even name. The president clearly knew whom and what he was talking about; he just slipped up the same way Johnson and so many others have.

Plus, Biden has been famously gaffe-prone his entire political career. “In other words, even a cursory history of Biden’s bungling shows that he is the same person he has always been, just older and slower—a gaffe-prone, middling public speaker with above-average emotional intelligence and an instinct for legislative horse-trading.”

Trump, on the other hand, most of the time is spouting word salad. He doesn’t just mix up names and dates; he doesn’t appear to grasp the subject matter. This was Trump last month —


Yes, we all remember the heroic defense of Fort Benning from the Panzerwaffe. (/sarcasm) Trump was in New Hampshire, mind you, not Georgia, and there was no reason to bring up forts. (Full disclosure, my dad was stationed at Fort Benning for a time in World War II, where he repaired military aircraft. So I know they did important work there. The fort was named for Confederate General Henry Benning, who died in 1875 and played no part in World War II.) But Trump seems confused about where World War II was actually fought. And the repitition is a bit odd. Of course, it’s not quite as off the wall as the time he said the Continental Army beat the British in the Revolution because it took over the airports. Or the time he suggested drinking disinfectant to cure covid.

Melinda Henneberger writes at the Kansas City Star that “Biden does move more slowly and speak more haltingly now. While Trump, though he often makes no sense, spews words easily and everywhere.” But see also ‘Yikes’: Internet erupts after ‘Dementia Trump’ makes several verbal slip-ups at NRA rally at Raw Story. Trump was having a hard time pronouncing words and reading off a teleprompter.

One would have to have spent a lot of time with both men to really know if they are in some kind of cognitive decline. In Trump’s case, maybe he’s always been stupid. But I found an article from 2017 that said Trump already had declined.

In interviews Trump gave in the 1980s and 1990s (with Tom Brokaw, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, Charlie Rose, and others), he spoke articulately, used sophisticated vocabulary, inserted dependent clauses into his sentences without losing his train of thought, and strung together sentences into a polished paragraph, which — and this is no mean feat — would have scanned just fine in print. This was so even when reporters asked tough questions about, for instance, his divorce, his brush with bankruptcy, and why he doesn’t build housing for working-class Americans.

My impression is that he is even less articulate now than he was in 2016, but I confress I avoid listening to him as much as possible.

My mother had Alzheimer’s, and in the early stages she could be just fine in most social situations, with people and in places she had known for a long time. It was her short-term memory that was gone. I can’t tell if either Trump or Biden has lost short-term memory. But dementia can take a lot of different forms and have a lot of different causes.

[Update: As Biden’s memory issues draw attention, neurologists weigh in. (Subtitle: Forgetting the names of acquaintances or having difficulty remembering dates from the past doesn’t affect decision-making or judgment, brain experts say.)

It’s normal for older brains to have more difficulty retaining new information and then retrieving the information, but mental processes like decision-making and judgment can actually improve with age, said Dr. Thomas Wisniewski, director of NYU Langone Health’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and its Center for Cognitive Neurology.

“Although the raw power of memory has some degree of decline, perhaps wisdom can increase because the individual has a greater backlog of experiences and different situations as to what is the best thing to do,” Wisniewski said.]

The New York Times is now in full “but her emails” mode, running news stories and op eds about how the Democrats need to do something about Biden. But we still have Paul Krugman.

When the news broke about the special counsel’s hit job — his snide, unwarranted, obviously politically motivated slurs about President Biden’s memory — I found myself thinking about my mother. What year did she die? It turned out that I didn’t know offhand; I knew that it was after I moved from Princeton to CUNY, because I was regularly commuting out to New Jersey to see her, but before the pandemic. I actually had to look into my records to confirm that she died in 2017.

I’ll bet that many readers are similarly vague about the dates of major life events. You remember the circumstances but not necessarily the precise year. And whatever you think of me, I’m pretty sure I don’t write or sound like an old man. The idea that Biden’s difficulty in pinning down the year of his son’s death shows his incapacity — in the middle of the Gaza crisis! — is disgusting.

As it happens, I had an hourlong off-the-record meeting with Biden in August. I can’t talk about the content, but I can assure you that he’s perfectly lucid, with a good grasp of events. And outside of that personal experience, on several occasions when I thought he was making a serious misjudgment — like his handling of the debt ceiling crisis — he was right, and I was wrong.

And what about the other guy?

And my God, consider his opponent. When I listen to Donald Trump’s speeches, I find myself thinking about my father, who died in 2013 (something else I had to look up). During his last year my father suffered from sundowning: He was lucid during the day but would sometimes become incoherent and aggressive after dark. If we’re going to be doing amateur psychological diagnoses of elderly politicians, shouldn’t we be talking about a candidate who has confused Nikki Haley with Nancy Pelosi and whose ranting and raving sometimes reminds me of my father on a bad evening?

So to everyone who’s piling on Biden right now, stop and look in the mirror. And ask yourself what you are doing.

I saw most of President Biden’s press conference Thursday night. Some commentary said Biden came across badly because he was angry. . WTF? Is he not allowed to be angry? Josh Marshall:

Aside from discussions of the President’s cognitive faculties, the main focus — actually the two were melded together — was commentary about his anger. This seemed to be a universal response from the DC press corps, that the whole impromptu press conference was a mess because the President displayed clear and clearly genuine anger.

Is that wrong? As George Constanza might have said.

This goes to the heart of the etiquette of official Washington and who plays by those rules and who doesn’t. Anger is a natural human emotion. It’s a reaction to being attacked, being treated unfairly. Whatever you think of Biden, he clearly had a lot to react to. Special Counsel Robert Hur was charged with investigating whether Biden had violated the law by retaining classified documents. He decided, quite likely because he had found no basis for bringing charges, to take a series of gratuitous and transparently political swipes at Biden’s mental faculties, going so far as to claim that Biden was unable to remember when his son Beau died. Everyone knows that this was the central injury and core event of the latter part of Biden’s life. I experienced one profoundly traumatic loss in my life and four decades on if anyone seems to disrespect or make light of it, even unintentionally, it puts me in a mood to fight. It would be unnatural not to be angry. It’s a gratuitous and deeply personal swipe.

It’s probably not lost on you that Donald Trump is basically permanently angry. And not just angry in response to particular events but the kind of perpetual and often peristaltic anger that in day to day life most people find threatening or at least off-putting. But we virtually never hear anything about the purported damage from expressions of anger when it’s Donald Trump. That’s not bias. It’s simply that it’s assumed. So it just doesn’t come up. It’s no longer policed. That’s just what Donald Trump does. But there’s an additional factor that people don’t notice. Being responsive to this kind of press policing signals a basic weakness, a perpetual hedging, a practice of being controlled and responsive to the press chorus rather than indifferent to it. Trump’s able to work outside this framework of policing because he simply ignores it and because of that reporters decide it doesn’t apply to him. This isn’t just Biden. It’s not even just Trump. Democrats for a host of reasons tend to be far more responsive to this kind of policing. People want to see expressions of agency and power from political leaders. Trump’s ability to set the terms for how the press reacts and interprets his actions is itself an expression of power.

Psychologically, I think we’re looking at a “who gets to be angry?” situation here. Awhile back I formulated an Anger Theorem, which says that “The degree to which one is allowed to be angry, and at what, depends on how much power you have. The powerful can be as angry as they like, without criticism. But when those with less power are angry, they are condemned for it.”

Generally it’s White men who get away with being angry, and Black men and all women who have to keep anger in check. But here we have two White guys, and one is the current POTUS, which would normally put one on top of the power totem pole. It would be interesting to take a survey of which commenters were offput by Biden’s anger and how right-leaning they might be, but I don’t have the time. And Josh Marshall’s analysis of why the two men are held to different standards may be the right one. But I’m guessing some of this is just deep and unexamined psychological reaction to the Trump and Biden personas. Trump presents himself as larger than life, all powerful and all knowing. Biden is more folksy and self-effacing. Those who are un-self-aware (most of the Washington Press Corps?) might unconsciousnly react to Trump as the more powerful of the two, so he gets to be angry, but Biden does not.

But what I fear now is that we’re going to spend the next few months dissecting every verbal mishap by both men instead of dealing with the substance of their campaigns.

The Department of Justice Screwed Up

I tuned in to the teevee last night to hear commentary on yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing, and instead I caught some of President Biden’s press conference in which reporters were grilling him to find out if he could find his own nose and maybe he should check into the old folks’ home already. That was when I learned about the Biden special counsel report.

Let’s just say I am beyond furious. I’m also done giving Merrick Garland the benefit of doubts.

Josh Marshall’s Thoughts on the Hur Report express it all pretty well.

First off, this is another example of the universal rule: Republican special counsels are chosen to investigate Democrats. And Republican special counsels are chosen to investigate Republicans. It may not have been a great idea for Merrick Garland to have a two-time Trump appointee investigate Joe Biden. But here we are. Robert Hur totally slimed Biden with these gratuitous comments about his mental acuity and memory, referring to him as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” Even if you assume they are the product of a good faith evaluation they are still wildly inappropriate.

DOJ guidelines make clear that if you’re not bringing charges you don’t bash the subject of the investigation in your announcement (a la James Comey). You certainly aren’t supposed to affirmatively attempt to demean the subject of the investigation with clearly political attacks that aren’t even related to what you’re investigating. Hur might as well have called him “Fake News Joe Biden.” It’s really that transparent and that bad.

I just learned this:

The descriptions in the report sound bad because they are designed to sound bad. These are from a five hour discussion the day after the October 7th attacks on Israel when I’m sure Biden was focused on that unfolding crisis. Without watching the interview we have no way of knowing whether these are representative of the tenor of the conversation or cherry-picked gotchas.

Merrick Garland should have not released a report that violated DoJ guidelines. Of course, if the final report had been re-written or redacted that would have caused no end of speculation about what was left out. But I think that would have been less damaging. Joe Biden is going to have to spend the next few months persuading the American people he’s not senile. Nobody needed this. Well, maybe Trump.

Members of the House already are calling for Biden to be deposed via the 25th Amendment provision in section 4. Fortunately the House has no part in that, so it’s not going to happen. And there may be time for some of the damage to be undone. We’ll see. And Joe Biden on his worst day is brilliant compared to Trump.

See also Robert Hur’s Box Checking at Emptywheel.

As far as the hearings yesterday are concerned, it’s pretty clear the justices aren’t going to side with Colorado. It was frustrating to hear them ignore the very real insurrection and Trump’s role in it. I don’t know that there’s much else to say.

With everything else going on you may not have heard what’s been happening with Loose Cannon and the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Loose had decided Jack Smith and his people must submit documents in the case without redacting witnesses’ names and other information that the government wants to keep private. Smith is arguing that making the names of witnesses public would expose them to “significant and immediate risks of threats, intimidation, and harassment.” Because that’s what happens with anything dealing with Trump. According to Forbes,

Among the documents prosecutors think should remain sealed or redacted are a list of all the FBI agents who searched Trump’s Mar-A-Lago estate; an excerpt from a witness’ grand jury testimony that reveals “non-public” details about Mar-A-Lago’s layout, including where Trump’s son Barron’s bedroom is; and reports on witness interviews, including of civil servants and “former close advisors to defendant Trump.”

One document at issue also includes details of “uncharged potentially obstructive conduct by a defendant, and speculation about witness tampering by an uncharged individual,” Smith wrote.

This is likely to drag on for a while, but eventually Jack Smith could appeal Loose’s decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Yesterday Smith filed a brief with Cannon saying she had made a “clear error” in insisting that witness names not be redacted. Apparently the precedent is that such information may be redacted in discovery, which is the stage they are still in with that trial.

Yesterday’s News, and Republicans in Disarray

Yesterday was some news day, huh?

Regarding the “no blanket immunity” decision, I understand that one of the reasons the decision took so long is that the three-judge panel who heard the case got the other judges on the DC. Circuit Court of Appeals to sign off on it. Otherwise Trump could have gotten a hearing in front of the full court, which would have taken several weeks. In effect, yesterday’s decision came from the full court. (I’ve read chunks of the decision now, and it’s interesting. Worth at least skimming through.)

I assume Trump’s lawyers won’t file an appeal with the SCOTUS until Monday. A rational SCOTUS would deny certiorariBut who knows what the actual SCOTUS will do.

Regarding the failed attempt to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, I understand one Republican House member who’d been a presumed yes turned out to be a no. This resulted in an unexpected tie. Rep. Al Green (D-TX), who had been in the hospital after a surgery, left the hospital and was wheelchaired into the House chamber to cast a no vote and break the tie. Then he went back to the hospital. Then in a procedural move another Republican switched to no, which gives them the option of bringing the vote up again. So we may not have heard the end of this.

One of the Republican no votes, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), wrote an op ed for the Wall Street Journal explaining his vote. The op ed is behind a paywall, but you can read chunks of it at Raw Story. Gallagher argues that incompetence and bad policy (his judgments, not mine) do not rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“Impeachment not only would fail to resolve Mr. Biden’s border crisis,” Gallagher wrote, “but would also set a dangerous new precedent that would be used against future Republican administrations.” …

… “Creating a new, lower standard for impeachment, one without any clear limiting principle, wouldn’t secure the border or hold Mr. Biden accountable,” Gallagher concluded. “It would only pry open the Pandora’s box of perpetual impeachment.”

Well, yeah. See also In chaotic scene, Republicans argue with GOP lawmaker after ‘no’ vote on impeachment at the Washington Post.  After the failed impeachment vote, the House also failed to pass a stand-alone aid to Israel bill that Speaker Mike Johnson had promoted. Heh.

Finally, the Appeals Court Speaks

I haven’t read the decision yet, but finally the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals released its obvious conclusion, that Trump does not have blanket immunity for his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Trump has until Monday, February 12, to appeal to the Supreme Court. and then we’ll see how long the SCOTUS sits on it.

Here’s the Washington Post story on the decision (no paywall). And here’s the New York Times (also no paywall). And here’s an analysis from Law & Crime.

In Other News: God’s Army, a.k.a. Meatballs for God, did manage to find the Texas border this weekend. What was supposed to be a mighty convoy of hundreds of thousands turned into about 200 befuddled guys in pickup trucks. Of course, it’s possible some of them got lost trying to find Texas. And some of them were disappointed they couldn’t find an “invasion.” They seem to have expected a bunch of armed banditos and drug runners swarming across the border. However, there were some vendors selling Trump merch, so the trip wasn’t a complete loss. One of the local residents said the only invasion around was the meatballs in pickup trucks.

Do read this USA Today article about it; it’s hysterical. Too bad the meatballs were a bit too late to fight these guys, by a little over a century.

To no one’s surprise, the bipartisan Senate border security bill was killed by Republicans in the Senate. They’ve come up with some lame excuses about “needing more time,” but the truth is that they’re killing the bill because Donald Trump wants it dead. And apparently some of the dimmer bulbs on the Right — which are barely flickering in the best of times — grew hysterical in the bellief that the bill would grant amnesty to asylum seekers — it would not — and so they ran away from it, shrieking.

David Frum at The Atlantic:

Sometimes, a negotiation produces a deal.

Sometimes, a negotiation reveals the truth.

Negotiators in the Senate have produced a draft agreement on immigration and asylum. The deal delivers on Republican priorities. It includes changes to federal law to discourage asylum seeking. It shuts down asylum processing altogether if too many people arrive at once. Those and other changes send a clear message to would-be immigrants: You’re going to find it a lot harder to enter the United States without authorization. Rethink your plans.

The draft agreement offers little to nothing on major Democratic immigration priorities: no pathway to citizenship for long-term undocumented immigrants, only the slightest increase in legal immigration. The Democrats traded away most of their own policy wish list. In return, they want an end to the mood of crisis at the border, plus emergency defense aid for Ukraine and Israel.

Yet Republicans in the House seem determined to reject the draft agreement. They appear poised to leave in place a status quo that one senior GOP House leader has described as an “invasion” and an “existential and national security threat.”

So what do Republicans really want?

Consider that Florida’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives has voted to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work eight-hour days during the school year. Or that the Republican governor of Arkansas has signed a bill that relieves the state of having to certify that teenage workers aged 14 and 15 may work. Or that Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature may soon pass a law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to work as late as 9 p.m. on school nights. Or that Republican legislators in Wisconsin are pushing to allow 14-to-17-year-olds to serve alcohol in bars and restaurants. Consider also that all of these changes are written with teenage migrants very much in mind: Almost 40 percent of recent border-crossers have been under 18, a fivefold increase since the late aughts.

Those teenagers are traveling both alone and in family groups. They are coming to the U.S. to work. When state legislatures relax the rules on employing under-18s and under-16s, they’re flashing a giant we’re hiring sign to job-seeking teenagers around the world. The legislators know that. The teenagers know it. American voters should know it too.

Frum also discusses GOP opposition to aid to Ukraine and GOP opposition to negotiating with Democrats about anything. They basically don’t grasp the governing thing, any more than Trump grasps the law thing. “No need to reckon with the concerns and interests of people who disagree with House Republicans,” Frum writes. “Just somehow return Trump to the presidency: He’ll bark; the system will obey.” Yeah, let’s not.

Molly Jong-Fast writes at Vanity Fair that Congress looks like just another arm of the Trump campaign. See also David Kurtz at TPM, Trump Is Doing To The GOP What He Wants To Do To America.