Trump Watch: The Conservative Condition

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Tiassa, Aug 10, 2022.

  1. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    Apart from that weird little bit in which Trump seems to believe these plans somehow exonerate him of... who knows what? ... I'm having a lot of difficulty with discerning a motive for any of this. I mean, hubris ain't exactly a motive, so what exactly was the endgame here?
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  3. billvon Valued Senior Member

    The Trump saga is starting to remind me of the beginning of one of the Austin Powers movies:

    Justice: "So you showed the document to the press at a meeting!"
    Trump: "I never had that meeting!"
    Justice: "One audio tape of that meeting!"
    Trump: "Well, I didn't SHOW them a document."
    Justice: "One audio recording of paper being rustled at the meeting!"
    Trump: "But it wasn't a document, it was just papers."
    Justice: "One top secret document recovered from your boxes labeled 'Attack on Iran'! "
    Trump: "Well, that was an accident. It wasn't like I was trying to cover anything up!"
    Justice: "One video of your assistant covering things up!"
    Trump: "Well, I never told him to do that!"
    Justice: "One phone log showing you calling him right before he did that!"
    Trump: "But he was just an assistant, he's not that bright."
    Justice: "One transcript of you telling your lawyer to lose some documents!"
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  5. Janus58 Valued Senior Member

    I believe that this was in regards to claims that he(Trump) wanted to attack Iran. He goes on about General Milley drawing up these plans and presenting then to him, appearing to claim that this means that it was the military that wanted to attack, not him.
    Of course they would already have drawn up such plans far in advance in case they were ever needed. So the military having them on hand to show Trump when he inquired about it is not strange, nor does it indicate a desire on their part to act on it.
    Trump seemed to think otherwise.
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member


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    ca. 1872: Detail of illustration by Frank Bellew, Harper's Magazine.

    Historian and author Joshua Zeitz↱, for Politico:

    When a federal jury in Washington indicted former President Donald Trump this week for his role in attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election, it did so in part on the basis of 18 U.S.C. § 241, a statute dating originally to 1870, when President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the first of three Enforcement Acts, aimed at ensuring that formerly enslaved people could freely vote, participate in politics and serve in public office.

    Conservatives took umbrage at the use of Section 241, a century-and-a-half old law, to prosecute Trump. “Smith is charging Trump with a civil-rights violation … based on a post-Civil War statute designed to punish violent intimidation and forcible attacks against blacks attempting to exercise their right to vote,” the National Review editorialized. “What Trump did, though reprehensible, bears no relation to what the statute covers.”

    And yet, it does. The Enforcement Acts, one of which was known also as the Ku Klux Klan Act, given its prime target, criminalized widespread attempts by former Confederates to deny Black Southerners their right to vote, to have their votes counted and hold office — rights they enjoyed under the Reconstruction Act of 1867, the 14th Amendment and soon, the 15th Amendment. Coming at a time when American democracy teetered on the edge, these laws gave teeth to the federal government's insistence that no eligible voter could be denied the right to vote and have his vote counted. (At the time, only men could exercise the franchise.) The laws were a direct response to Southern Democrats' efforts to abrogate the practical effects of the Civil War and nullify Black political participation and representation.

    Today, American democracy stands once again at a crossroads. The refusal of many Republican officeholders to accept the outcome of a free and fair election, and Trump's outright appeal to fraud and violence in an effort to overturn that election, are precisely the kinds of antidemocratic practices the Enforcement Acts were intended to criminalize and punish.

    The articled drew some attention↱ for its headline, "If Trump Gets Convicted, Blame Ulysses S. Grant", because, sure, there is an obscure joke in there, a genuine ad hom about the guy who wrote a book on Lincoln, evangelical, and Bush Jr., but in its way, that point only makes the point.

    The article is mostly intended for the ostensible sane conservatives who need to navigate perilous currents near the boundaries between Trump and reality, or insurrection and the Republic. Section 241, Zeitz explains, "is hardly what observers call a 'strange law', or a law still on the books but no longer relevant or enforceable", and continues, "the acts of which Trump stands accused of committing are precisely what the Enforcement Act was intended to combat."

    And as we wrangle over presumed innocence or proven guilt, and the pursuit of justice, Zeitz suggests:

    Our system presumes that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty … But the shameful events of late 2020 and early 2021 only reinforce the lasting relevance and importance of the 1870 Enforcement Act, a law constructed to meet challenges that, a century and a half later, still hang over America's fragile democracy.

    And this is something that, beyond these questions of Donald Trump, conservatives and conservative politics must learn how to move past. It doesn't really matter how long ago this or that part of it was, whether you were born over a hundred years later and never owned a slave, or that the law in question is a hundred fifty-three years old. They can't move past it until it is over.

    Five and a half years ago, I suggested↗ that it may be a century and a half behind us, but we are not anxious to do the Civil War thing again. And that we are alive in a time such as to hear the dying roar of supremacist domination. And if I said the reason conservatives are rumbling toward uprising is that if they can't run the society, nobody should, I still don't know at what point I really believed they would actually do it.

    It's one thing if they never meant to take it this far, but that's not what it looks like. Especially as they appear determined to keep trying.


    Zeitz, Joshua. "If Trump Gets Convicted, Blame Ulysses S. Grant". Politico. 3 August 2023. 3 August 2023.

  8. LaurieAG Registered Senior Member

  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Will Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen↱ are not exactly what you might describe as liberal professors. They are originalists, and tend toward the conservative; Baude is a Federalist Society speaker, and Paulsen's take on religious freedom is, to say the least, illiberal. The point being, it is not some leftward argument forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review (v.172, 2024):

    Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment forbids holding office by former office holders who then participate in insurrection or rebellion. Because of a range of misperceptions and mistaken assumptions, Section Three’s full legal consequences have not been appreciated or enforced. This article corrects those mistakes by setting forth the full sweep and force of Section Three.

    First, Section Three remains an enforceable part of the Constitution, not limited to the Civil War, and not effectively repealed by nineteenth century amnesty legislation. Second, Section Three is self-executing, operating as an immediate disqualification from office, without the need for additional action by Congress. It can and should be enforced by every official, state or federal, who judges qualifications. Third, to the extent of any conflict with prior constitutional rules, Section Three repeals, supersedes, or simply satisfies them. This includes the rules against bills of attainder or ex post facto laws, the Due Process Clause, and even the free speech principles of the First Amendment. Fourth, Section Three covers a broad range of conduct against the authority of the constitutional order, including many instances of indirect participation or support as “aid or comfort.” It covers a broad range of former offices, including the Presidency. And in particular, it disqualifies former President Donald Trump, and potentially many others, because of their participation in the attempted overthrow of the 2020 presidential election.

    That is to say, these are conservative originalists arguing that Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment disqualifies Donald Trump.


    Baude, William and Michael Stokes Paulsen. "The Sweep and Force of Section Three". 9 August 2023. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, v.172, 2024. 10 August 2023.
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  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    The Federalist Society, Conservative Originalists, and the "Democrat Deep State"

    Former U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner↱ offers the obvious joke:

    Aaaaaand . . . cue House Republicans yammering that the Federalist Society is part of the Democrat deep state.

    The more likely angle will be accusing that the professors are somehow secret leftist provocateurs, but still.
  11. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    A Detail From Down in Georgia

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    A storm gathers on the horizon. Per CNN↱:

    Atlanta-area prosecutors investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia are in possession of text messages and emails directly connecting members of Donald Trump's legal team to the early January 2021 voting system breach in Coffee County, sources tell CNN.

    Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to seek charges against more than a dozen individuals when her team presents its case before a grand jury next week. Several individuals involved in the voting systems breach in Coffee County are among those who may face charges in the sprawling criminal probe.

    Investigators in the Georgia criminal probe have long suspected the breach was not an organic effort sprung from sympathetic Trump supporters in rural and heavily Republican Coffee County – a county Trump won by nearly 70% of the vote. They have gathered evidence indicating it was a top-down push by Trump's team to access sensitive voting software, according to people familiar with the situation ....

    .... While Trump's January 2021 call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and effort to put forward fake slates of electors have long been considered key pillars of Willis' criminal probe, the voting system breach in Coffee County quietly emerged as an area of focus for investigators roughly one year ago. Since then, new evidence has slowly been uncovered about the role of Trump's attorneys, the operatives they hired and how the breach, as well as others like it in other key states, factored into broader plans for overturning the election.

    The framework, here, has to do with a December 18, 2020 meeting in the Oval Office, including President Trump, and House testimony describes discussion of plans to access voting machines in Georgia. An elections official from Coffee County, Georgia, named Misty Hampton, allegedly authored a "letter of invitation" sent to members of Donald Trump's legal entourage, including Katherine Freiss, a DC attorney notorious for evading subpoena, and pardoned felon Bernard Kerik.

    A caveat, but barely: "CNN has not reviewed the substance of the invitation letter itself, only communications that confirm it was provided to Friess, Kerik and Sullivan Strickler employees." But what can be put into quotes is that Freiss sent Kerik a "Letter of invitation to Coffee County, Georgia", where the law firm Sullivan Strickler was hired to examine the Dominion voting machine system.

    Hampton, the county's elections chief, delayed certification of her county's vote, claiming the Dominion voting system was insecure:

    It's a claim that has been repeatedly debunked.

    But the Trump campaign officials took notice and reached out to Hampton that same day. "I would like to obtain as much information as possible," a Trump campaign staffer emailed Hampton at the time, according to documents released as part of a public records request and first reported by the Washington Post ....

    .... Hampton also posted a video online claiming to expose problems with the county's Dominion voting system. That video was used by Trump's lawyers, including Giuliani, as part of their push to convince legislators from multiple states that there was evidence the 2020 election results were tainted by voting system issues.

    Text messages and other documents obtained by CNN show Trump allies were seeking access to Coffee County's voting system by mid-December amid increasing demands for proof of widespread election fraud.

    Coffee County was specifically cited in draft executive orders for seizing voting machines that were presented to Trump on December 18, 2020, during a chaotic Oval Office meeting, CNN has reported. During that same meeting, Giuliani alluded to a plan to gain "voluntary access" to machines in Georgia, according to testimony from him and others before the House January 6 committee.

    Days later, Hampton shared the written invitation to access the county's election office with a Trump lawyer, text messages obtained by CNN show.

    Hampton and another official, Cathy Latham, are alleged to have helped Trump's team gain access to the voting system. Latham, who is known to have allowed unauthorized access to the voting system, would also go on to further infamy as a fake elector.


    There is a tacit something or other going on, and what makes it so hard to describe is how the sheer stupidity of it all: Imagine a circular firing squad of plausible deniability. What makes it so difficult to explain is figuring how it actually works in the minds of the participants. We have the actus rea, but acquitting the mens rea tests the bounds of believability. To wit, if we start with the presupposition that Hampton is not guilty, the most direct way that works is if she somehow fails to understand that, even if the Dominion conspiracism was true, there are appropriate channels for dealing with that, so that didn't mean to break the law by facilitating improper access, she just didn't know it was inappropriate. And then there is somebody like Latham, who somehow failed to understand not only that facilitating improper access was inappropriate, but that participating in the forgery of elector certificates in order to exploit that improper access was also inappropriate. By the time we get to the Trump lawyers, and at Sullivan Strickler, do they not know they're doing something illegal? Or, do they run with plausible denial on the grounds that Misty is too stupid to know any better, so it didn't occur to any of them that there might be something wrong with what they were doing?

    At some point, plausiable deniability becomes a manner of suicide pact, with everyone involved pleading innocence because they just weren't smart enough to recognize the obvious.


    Cohen, Zachary and Sara Murray. "Exclusive: Georgia prosecutors have messages showing Trump's team is behind voting system breach". CNN. 13 August 2023. 13 August 2023.
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    The Witness Tampering Phase

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    Truth Social post from Donald Trump appearing to tamper with grand jury witness (highlighted).

    Amid much recent attention toward Judge Chutkan's courtroom in D.C., Donald Trump has answered part of the witness tampering question by publicly trying to intimidate a grand jury witness in Georgia.

    At question is a Truth Social post in which Trump has after the Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, and tells him to not testify.

    Attorney Allison Gill↱ wonders if Trump can be gagged in one case for tampering in another, suggesting she can't believe she needs to ask. But that's the thing, while it is easy enough to presume the answer is yes, even experts are sort of scratching their heads trying to remember when they ever heard of this coming up, before.

    Then again, this is Donald Trump. One thing we have known about him, since even the last century, is that he is a petty wannabe mobster; in considering what low ethic would justify such behavior, we might observe that conservatives knew this and raised him to the presidency, anyway. And in that context, sure, if Chutkan adjusts the protective order in the D.C. case based on evidence of witness tampering in the Georgia grand jury, that ought to make some sort of point about the conservative condition.

    Or, consider trying to explain how verbally abusing a witness while telling him to not testify against you isn't witness tampering.

    Donald Trump spectacularly committed a felony, today, one that is otherwise as easy to commit as it is to avoid. It's not a confusing question, but, rather the difference between utterance and silence. Nor is it simply a question of what low ethic would justify such behavior, but also some consideration about what conservatives really want and what they voted for.


    @MuellerSheWrote. "Can you be gagged in one criminal case for witness tampering in another? Or do you have to be charged and have that judge do it? In other words, can Chutkan gag trump trump for witness tampering in Georgia? (I can't believe I have to ask that)." Twitter. 14 August 2023. 14 August 2023.
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    And in the moment, it's like, "Can't the grand jury poll any faster?"

    And sage says, "Calm. We will have a true bill, tonight."

    Still, though: "But I want it now!"

    (I just had to be in the room when the damn chyron changed.)​
  14. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

  15. Janus58 Valued Senior Member

    Which also brings into question as to whether he violated the release conditions of his case in DC. He was told not to break any other law, Federal, state or local. At the very least, this just gives the judge even more reason to start the trial earlier rather than later.
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

    He will argue that:

    1) He was merely posting his opinion on the witness. "My first amdendment rights!"
    2) He was not threatening anyone involved in the DC case, so the admonition from the judge does not apply.
    3) He did it in a place other than DC so it's outside the judge's jurisdiction.

    He has been making similar arguments for decades and (largely) getting away with them.
  17. Janus58 Valued Senior Member

    As already stated by the judge, his first amendment rights are not absolute.
    It doesn't matter that it did not involve the DC case or didn't happen in DC. He was told not he could not break any laws under his conditions of release.
    He can argue anything he wants, it's the judge that makes the decision.
  18. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member


    (Sorry. I can't seem to help myself.)
  19. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Agreed with all the above. That is merely what Trump will argue.

    There is an excellent essay by Heather Cox Richardson about the groundwork Trump is laying for both his legal defense and his "virtual" defense - the defense he will use to claim that the indictments (and likely convictions) don't matter, or actually sypport his cause. Her suggestion is that he is creating a 'virtual political reality' in which he is the beleagured hero, shouldering the burden of leftist attacks so that America doesn't have to. She explains it like this:

    . . The Trump Republicans have fully embraced what Russian political theorists called “political technology”: the construction of a virtual political reality through modern media. Political theorists developed several techniques in this approach to politics: blackmailing opponents, abusing state power to help favored candidates, sponsoring “double” candidates with names similar to those of opponents in order to confuse voters on the other side and thus open the way for their own candidates, creating false parties to split the opposition, and, finally, creating a false narrative around an election or other event in order to control public debate. . .

    But Trump, and now his supporters, rose to power on their construction of a virtual political reality—pushing the story that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton had tried to “bleach” an email server until Americans believed it, for example (while Trump’s own recent attempt to delete security-camera footage after it had been subpoenaed by a grand jury has largely flown under the radar)—and Trump and his supporters continued to double down on that false world first to keep him in power and now to return him to it.

    I have a feeling that won't do very much to influence his legal case, other than expose potential jurors to that virtual political reality in which he's the hero of this particular story. But I do expect that story to work on many voters; many already believe in that virtual world to a large degree (i.e. he really won the 2020 election, he has committed no crimes, he wasn't found liable for sexual assault etc.) Extending that will not be hard given the control he has over both his followers and the media.
  20. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Right Hook! Right Hook! Body Blow! Uppercut!

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    Joyce Carol Oates↱ for the knockout:

    embarrassing for white supremacists that a Black man at 6'3 & 215 pounds looks like Muhammad Ali while a White man at 6'3" & 215 pounds looks like T***p.
  21. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Racism and the Republican Condition

    Medhi Hasan↱ suggests FOX News has gone "beyond parody"; Joel D. Anderson↱ observes "it's hard to deploy words in a more racist way … without using a slur". The general idea is the latest right-wing pitch, that Black people will be more likely to vote for Donald Trump now that he has been arrested.

    Anderson is responding to right-wing activist Laura Loomer's claim that arresting Donald Trump and booking him "at the blackest jail in the state of Georgia" "Just made Donald Trump the most relatable man on the ballot for the black community".

    Hasan, meanwhile, is trying to wrap his head around a bit from Laura Ingraham's show on FOX News, when her guest explained:

    That mughsot situates Trump in a cultural context that I'm not sure his enemies may have anticipated: Now he joins Frank Sinatra, he joins Elvis Presley, he joins Johnny Cash, and Tupac Shakur, and he didn't only know some of these people, meaning he is now seen by non-political folks as a rebel, an outsider with swagger, and as one Black lady I spoke with today in New Orleans said, 'Trump is gansta'. And that means he has cred among a new block of voters.

    So, this is where conservatives are at; we should expect to hear more of this in coming days.
  22. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Okay, here's the thing:

    Interesting addition to Mark Meadows' defense team tonight.

    Robert Bittman was a deputy on Ken Starr's independent counsel team and worked closely with Brett Kavanaugh in that capacity.


    First, there are only so many attorneys who do this work, and only so many of those will do it the way Meadows needs; it's a small pool.

    However, that particular wrecking crew is one of the most durable and apparently successful conservative mysteries of the last thirty years.


    @kyledcheney. "Interesting addition to Mark Meadows' defense team tonight. Robert Bittman was a deputy on Ken Starr's independent counsel team and worked closely with Brett Kavanaugh in that capacity." Twitter. 27 August 2023. 27 August 2023.
  23. candy Valued Senior Member

    Apparently the maga condition is alive and well.
    Saw a piece that said DJT's mug shot merch has already netted 7 mil.
    I don't think the maga are really conservatives wanting to maintain the way things are. The drain the swamp meme is indicative of change but it seems to be a change by returning to the 1950's.

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