Trump Watch: The Conservative Condition

Thanks, Tiassa. Good commentary. You can almost hear the sigh, and see the rolling of the eyes and shake of the head, as they wrote that opinion. I wouldn't blame them if they ever stepped over the line of being slightly too patronising in dealing with such, though.
It's good to see that there is a limit to the current insanity. I see that Congressman Gaetz partner in crime got 11 years in prison, so far Gaetz hasn't been charged at all. Maybe next will be a Trump and Gaetz indictment.

I don't suppose the new Congress will be anything other than a shitshow.
Not s really surprising result from the court. Having listened to some the the oral arguments, it was clear that the judges were not buying what Trump's lawyer was selling.
A Note on the Suicide Pact

There is a standard in American jurisprudence, that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. While its phrasing started coalescing in a 1949 Supreme Court dissent, and was enshrined in a 1963 majority opinion, we can follow the basic idea back through Lincoln, and even to Thomas Jefferson.

It's a strange concept, insofar as Jefferson reflected on his constitutonal concerns about the Louisiana Purchase, and Lincoln was justifying his suspension of habeas corpus; Justice Jackson's dissent in Terminiello (1949) complains of overturning a disorderly conduct conviction in a free speech case, and warns that doctrinaire logic lacking practical wisdom will convert the Bill of Rights into a suicide pact. Justice Goldberg wrote the majority opinion in Kennedy (1963), about the draft. The Court ultimately ruled staking citizenship on the draft was unconstitutional, but observed the government's authority, and, when acknowledging the Constitution protects individual rights, reminds that it is not a suicide pact.

The underlying concept seems pretty straightforward: A law cannot be used to destroy the law. Terminiello was about free speech compared to inciting a riot, and whether a government had overextended its authority. The Kennedy decision did not forbid the punishment of draft dodgers, but reined in the government from going too far. Jefferson's assertion was the weakest, reflecting on his test of constitutional boundaries; to lose the country for strict adherence to written law would lose the law itself, sacrificing the ends to the means. Lincoln was more straightforward: Should the government go to pieces, and all the laws be lost, for the sake of one law; more directly, it seemed amiss that he should execute a deserter but leave the inducing, facilitating agitators alone.

It can feel subtle, but it's actually observably simple. Take speech and incitement as an example. Should the U.S. government shut down rightist protests that actually lie? What about leftists huddled in the street, disrupting civic function? Why involve the government in contract negotiations, instead of simply jailing rail workers who strike? In the music wars of the 1980s, the conservative line was that one's right to free speech stopped at another's ear; it was a hijacking of another juristic doctrinal point, that your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of another's nose. Forty years ago, the argument was that we might forbid certain art because it offended Christian mores.¹ And no, it never really worked the other way around.

But ask this: Where is the suicide pact in all that? True, we can't go around banning everything simply because someone, somewhere is offended. Enforcing a Christianist standard violates the First Amendment, and in that sense we can actually see, these decades later, how the suicide pact works and plays out. If you can have free speech, but only if you don't offend a large, amorphous, dynamic assertion of religious supremacy, it's not really free speech. If your First Amendment right to free speech and press must kneel before another's First Amendment right to free religion, then you have neither.

The flip-side of that, of course, is purpose.

Imagine convening a bunch of scholars to review certain aspects of history, archaeology, and anthropology, at least, that we might discuss the real historicity of the Bible? It is not tyranny to refuse the podium to the atheist who wants to mock everyone because there is no God.

Similarly, if the IAU came together to revisit the Pluto question, it is not tyranny to refuse the podium to the geocentrist, young-Earth creationist, or Dianetic Xenut.

It is actually kind of hard to see what is so wrong about not sacrificing the ends to the means: Why should the IAU be obliged to accommodate that change of subject? If scholars are to review, say, a bolide event for its connection to a story in the Bible, there is no point in arguing about whether or not God exists.²

Sometimes the problem with comparative examples is the mess they make out of something that ought to be fairly simple.


There are, throughout the recent Trump v. United States opinion↑ from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, elements of the suicide pact in play. When the court chooses against expanding equitable jurisdiction for every subject of a search warrant, for instance; or when the opinion acknowledges that the thread of prosecution can weigh heavily on a person under investigation, and then observes it is an "ordinary experience"; and it is the phantom juxtaposition against justification by prestige, i.e., that Trump is a former president.

That last is the part where the Appeals Court perceived the need to cite Brailsford: What Judge Cannon had done was overturn what was known and acknowledged since at least 1794, creating an exception that would destroy American jurisprudence. It's one thing for the Court to remind that the law is clear, but the opinion concludes by sweeping away the prospect of what is often referred to as legislating from the bench:

The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so. Either approach would be a radical reordering of our caselaw limiting the federal courts' involvement in criminal investigations. And both would violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations. Accordingly, we agree with the government that the district court improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction, and that dismissal of the entire proceeding is required.

Dismissal is required in no small part because what Trump wants, and the district court gave, is in fact a constitutional suicide pact: In order to find for Trump, the Appeals Court must overturn the judiciary itself, all the way back to the 1794.³


There are, of course, other versions of the suicide pact. A subtle one in our personal experience has to do with rational discourse compared to the free speech of posting pretty much whatever you want. At Sciforums, we settled on a course that also comes up in larger social media considerations, what Nobel laureate Maria Ressa↱ describes as using free speech to stifle free speech. This happens when "free speech" creates such a cacophony as to disrupt communication and even purpose.

That, however, is more subtle than our moment requires.


This morning, the former President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, released a statement demanding that the 2020 election be thrown out or done over. And while some might focus, as on the idea of reinstating Trump as president, the more important point is the part about "the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution" (qtd. in Filipkowski↱).

And there is the suicide pact: Because Donald Trump, who wishes to be the executive sworn to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, now demands it be terminated.

Some measure of the conservative condition can be found therein; as election-denial rhetoric among surrogate and advocates spins through, we can observe how conservatives react to the idea of terminating the Constitution so that Donald Trump can be president.


¹ The relic from that is a small black and white advisory mark, warning of explicit material.

² Local scale, and long story short: There is a thread, here, in Comparative Religion, that I never answered, because I was three quarters of the way through a seemingly neverending post when I stumbled on a paper covering one part of the subject, and requiring a complete rewrite of the post. And maybe I never got back to that rebuild, but compared to a juxtaposition of two ancient stories as literary archetype, the question of whether or not God exists is irrelevant.

³ The Supreme Court of the United States was authorized in 1789, and first convened in February, 1790. Brailsford is foundational.​

@colbertlateshow. "Nobel Peace Prize winner @mariaressa says social media has 'come in and used free speech to stifle free speech.' #Colbert". Twitter. 29 November 2022. 30 November 2022.

@RonFilipkowski. "Trump this morning calls to be reinstated as president and declared the winner of 2020, or to have a new election immediately." Twitter. 3 December 2022. 3 December 2022.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. "Opinion of the Court". Trump v. United States of America. 1 December 2022. 1 December 2022.
Another Whiff of Corruption: Hints of a Pardon Bribery Scandal

This one is worth keeping an eye on.

A letter from Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ03) and Katie Porter (D-CA45)↱ to Interior Secretary Haaland, 2 December 2022, opens:

On May 11, 2022, the House Committee on Natural Resources (Committee) prsented evidence of likely bribery involving former U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary David Bernhardt and Villages at Vigneto developer Mike Ingram, in the Committee's first-ever criminal referral to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The Committee has now uncovered another potential incident of bribery involving Ingram and senior Trump administration officials through its review of documents obtained in that investigation.

The new allegation involves a 2012 arson; Dwight and Steven Hammond were convicted of setting fire to lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management in an effort to destroy evidence of illegal hunting. The arson charge carries a mandatory minimum five-year sentence, but the District Court did not feel like abiding, and imposed a lighter penalty. The Ninth Circuit threw out those sentences and imposed the five-year minimum. The Supreme Court denied cert, and so it goes.

And if that was the sum of it all, we would not be reading this letter.

Documents obtained in the Committee's Vigneto investigation indicate that Mike Ingram used his unique access to high-ranking Trump administration officials t o advocate for these pardons. In an email dated May 25, 2018, Mr. Ingram's executive assistant sent Ben Cassidy, DOI's Senior Deputy Director for External and Intergovernmental Affairs, two articles on the topic, including an op-ed arguing for pardons for the Hammonds (see Attachment 1).

On Sunday, July 1, 2018, a vocal proponent for pardoning the Hammonds shared in a tweet that "President Trump called me to say he is 'seriously considering' pardoning Dwight and Steven Hammond." This was the first public acknowledgement that a pardon was under consideration.

On Monday, July 2, 2018, the next business day, the Federal Election Commission database shows that Mr. Ingram made a $10,000 out-of-cycle donation to the America First Action, Inc. Super PAC. The America First Action, Inc. Super PAC describes itself as "dedicated to supporting President Trump | We are the only Official Pro-Trump Super PAC." On Tuesday, July 10, 2018, President Trump signed Executive Grants of Clemency (Full Pardons) for both Hammonds.

Mr. Ingram made only one other $10,000 donation during the 2017–2018 non-presidential election cycle. That donation was the subject of the Committee's criminal referral regarding the Villages at Vigneto development ....

And that's approximately the shape of it; the letter asks Secretary Haaland to provide certain documents; we can presume she will comply.

The future of this investigation is uncertain, especially with Republicans leading the House in the 118th Congress. But it's a bribery case in which a participant claims Donald Trump's direct involvement. And while the idea is unsurprising inasmuch as it's Donald Trump, the detail will matter.


Grijalva, Raul and Katie Porter. "Letter to the Honorable Deb Haaland". U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources. 2 December 2022. 5 December 2022.
A question (or two) for those of us not au fait with how things run on that side of the great language barrier (or "pond" as others might refer to it): given that the Democrats lost control of one of the houses, how will that impact the various proceedings against Trump? Are the various criminal prosecutions and investigations underway now beyond the scope of the Republicans to put a stop to (if that is what they wanted to do)?
A question (or two) for those of us not au fait with how things run on that side of the great language barrier (or "pond" as others might refer to it): given that the Democrats lost control of one of the houses, how will that impact the various proceedings against Trump? Are the various criminal prosecutions and investigations underway now beyond the scope of the Republicans to put a stop to (if that is what they wanted to do)?
The Jan 6th committee will be ended, as it is a congressional committee from the House of Rep., So they'll put out their final report this month. Investigations by the DOJ, will continue. as it is part of the Executive branch of government.
The Manhattan and Georgia cases will be totally unaffected, as they are not Federal cases. As such, even if a Republican were to win the White House in '24, and pardoned Trump of any Federal crimes, they would still be in play.
given that the Democrats lost control of one of the houses, how will that impact the various proceedings against Trump? Are the various criminal prosecutions and investigations underway now beyond the scope of the Republicans to put a stop to (if that is what they wanted to do)?

The House Subcommittee investigation will end. It is unclear whether they will transfer their material to the Senate or send it over to DoJ.

Implications for the Senate will resolve somewhat today, with the Warnock/Walker runoff. While the Democrats technically hold a majority, the extra seat has implications for committee assignments.

Department of Justice investigations are under executive purview, and will continue while Biden is president.

Republicans in the House intend to use their majority to investigate the DoJ in order to obstruct justice.
The House Subcommittee investigation will end. It is unclear whether they will transfer their material to the Senate or send it over to DoJ.
Sounds like we have an answer to that. From the Guardian:

House January 6 panel to issue criminal referrals to DoJ as tensions heighten
Targets and details of referrals in investigation of Capitol attack were not immediately clear but could follow two tracks


Four-member subcommittee led by Congressman Jamie Raskin and the other members made its recommendations privately on Friday. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The House January 6 select committee will make criminal referrals to the US justice department in connection with its investigation into the Capitol attack, the chairman of the panel said Tuesday, heightening tensions ahead of the release of its final report expected to come later this month.

The targets and details about the referrals were not immediately clear, and the panel’s chairman Bennie Thompson affirmed to reporters only that the panel would issue citations.
But the decision to move forward with referrals comes days after a special four-member subcommittee established to consider the issue recommended that the full committee seek prosecution from the justice department for a number of individuals connected to January 6, two sources said.
Notes on the Effability of the Conservative Condition

"I didn't have 'Maya Rudolph gets a new gig because Tucker Carlson and his audience don't want to live in a world where they aren't sure which candies are fuckable' on my bingo card."

† † †​

"Dont get me wrong. I love Maya Rudolph as much as anyone. She's great in everything she does. But the fact that M&Ms had to hire her because a bunch of beta cucks were having fits about whether a cgi candy is fuckable or not tells you what you need to know about the right."

Slouching Toward Whatnow

Ron Filipkowski↱ observes:

Today's Republican Party …

Marge in Idaho: "Raise your hand if you think Mitch McConnell is a Democrat."

This report is inaccurate. Per the video Mr. Filipkowski includes, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene clearly says, "Raise your hand if you believe Mitch McConnell is a Democrat."

Accuracy matters. Per Filipkowski's telling, if she needs, the Distinguished Lady from Georgia Fourteen can always claim she never said that.
Montana GOP Cancels former RNC Chair

The news, per Helena Independent Record:

Former Republican Gov. Marc Racicot said over the weekend that the Montana Republican Party recently informed him of a resolution voted on and approved by party leadership declaring he is no longer considered a Republican.

Racicot was elected governor on the GOP ticket twice in Montana, and also was the chair of the Republican National Committee until he was appointed to chair the re-election campaign for former Republican President George W. Bush.

While it is true Racicot has dissented from Treasure State Republicans in the time of Trump, we can also say conservatives in Montana had their chance, and have made their choice. When the time comes for rightists to make excuses for themselves, they ought not pretend they didn't know.


Michels, Holly. "State GOP says former governor, past RNC chair no longer a Republican". Independent Record. 20 February 2023. 21 Febuary 2023.
Conservative Privilege

Kyle Cheney↱ reports:

Court filings unsealed tonight show that Chief Judge Howell rejected SCOTT PERRY's effort to shield more than 2,000 documents from the Justice Department's Jan. 6 investigation

The Distinguished Gentleman from Pennsylvania Ten hoped to further refuse investigation into his conduct having to do with the January 6, 2021 insurrection against the United States of America. A high-profile election denier, Rep. Perry refused the J6 committee's requests for interviews and information, but is known to have facilitated a meeting between President Trump and Jeffrey Clark, a former assistant attorney general whose potential appointment as Attorney General brought protests and resignation threats from senior Justice Department officials. Mr. Clark appears to be a central player in plans to use the Department of Justice to overthrow Joe Biden's election.

Congressman Perry, for his part, wants to shield his communications from investigators, and Judge Beryl Howell has generally said no.

The current ruling pertains to a little over 2,200 records, out of some ten thousand, and the judge has agreed that 161 can be withheld:

Categories of docs:

-Contacts w colleauges about legislation and votes: SHIELDED
-Internal Freedom Caucus deliberations: SHIELDED
-Internal House GOP newsletters: NOT SHIELDED
-Perry's personal media strategy: NOT SHIELDED
-Contacts w colleagues about 2020 election: NOT SHIELDED


Out of ten thousand records, those two categories cover 161 documents. The unsealed Memorandum Opinion came down in December, suggests how much trouble Congressman Perry thinks he might be in, as well as who else he might be protecting.


We should also take a moment to consider the judge actually said↱:

Rep. Pery contends that he is entitled to withhold as privileged under the Clause 2,219 reponsive records spanning his communications not only with fellow congressional Members and staff, but also with private individuals and officials with no formal role in the United States Congress [redacted] Perry Mot. at 4. He articulates a broad reach of the non-disclosure aspect of the Speech or Debate Clause privilege to block access in a criminal investigation to any communications he had with any person in any capacity when "he was engaged in information gathering that is 'part of, in connection with, or in aide of a legitimate legislative act' ... even where it is an informal effort undertaken by an individual Member of Congress or their staff." Id. at 6, (quoting McSurely v. McClellan, 553 F.2d 1277, 1286 (D.C. Cir. 1976)).

This astonishing view of the scope of the legislative privilege would truly cloak Members of Congress with a powerful dual non-disclosure and immunity shield for virtually any of their activities that could be deemed information gathering about any matter which might engage legislative attention. At the same time, a Member could delay, if not effectively bar, investigative scrutiny and avoid not only criminal or civil liability, but also the public reputational harm that such scrutiny could engender, particularly in the view of voters. To be sure, communications that a congressional member has "attending to human needs or interests not peculiar to a Congress member's work qua legislator may advance a member's general welfare"―and even his professional and public profile―but to characterize such communications as "'legislative' in character is to stretch the meaning of that word beyond sensible proportion." United States v. Rostenkowski, 59 F.3ed 1291, 1302-03 (D.C. Cir. 1995).

The Clause does not protect extra-legislative communications that are only tangential to matters coming before the Congress, and most of the responsive records withheld by Rep. Perry are merely that. Only 164 responsive records containing communications exclusively with Members of Congress and legislative staff reflect an "integral part of the deliberative and communicative processes by which Members participatye in committee and House proceedings with respect to the consideration and passage of or rejection of proposed legislation or with respect to other matters which the Constituion places within the jurisdiction of the House," Gravel v. United States, 408 U.S. 606, 625 (1972), and thereby qualify for the Clause's protection, in whole or in part. As such, those recoreds are properly withheld. The remaining records reflecting his communications with [redacted] do not qualify as privileged and must be disclosed to the government.

And one thing we ought to note is the extraordinary needs of those the Trump experience. While this was not so absurd as, say, Trump's Mar-a-Lago arguments before the Eleventh Appeals↑, the Court handed down a similar rejection: What these Republicans are asking of the courts is to render the law useless. That is, Rep. Perry, like Donald Trump, pretends to require such extraordinary particular protection under law as to effectively overturn or quash the law generally.

And it seems an important question: Why do they need such extraordinary protection from the law?


@kyledcheney. "NEWS: Court filings unsealed tonight show that Chief Judge Howell rejected SCOTT PERRY's effort to shield more than 2,000 documents from the Justice Department's Jan. 6 investigation. Details TK w/ @joshgerstein". (thread) Twitter. 24 February 2023. 25 February 2023.

Howell, Beryl. "Memorandum Opinion". In the Matter of the Search of the Forensic Copy of the Cell Phone of Representative Scott Perry. United States District Court for the District of Columbia. 28 December 2023. 25 February 2023.
"Because of Course", b/w, "Yeah, But Still, Really?"


"I would say, based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from Black people," the 65-year-old author exclaimed. "Just get the fuck away. Wherever you have to go, just get away. Because there's no fixing this. This can't be fixed."

Reiterating that whites need to "escape," Adams said that he had already done so by moving to an area "with a very low Black population." He then cited Black CNN anchor Don Lemon to justify his assertion that there's a "correlation" between a "mostly Black" neighborhood and "a bunch of problems he didn't see" in majority-white areas.

"So I don't think it makes any sense as a white citizen of America to try to help Black citizens anymore," Adams huffed. "It doesn't make sense. There's no longer a rational impulse. So I'm going to back off on being helpful to Black America because it doesn't seem like it pays off."

He continued: "The only outcome is I get called a racist. That's the only outcome. It makes no sense to help Black Americans if you're white. It's over. Don't even think it's worth trying."


In fact, the closest thing to unexpected is the amount of effort some people will put into it, such as Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams. And as he laments his inevitable cancellation, P. Z. Myers reflects, "Hmmm, I was right?"↱:

said we should cancel Scott Adams, and gosh, look what happened: people spoke up all across the country, and Scott Adams was canceled ....

.... I guess it's easy to be a prophet when you predict the obvious stuff.

One could argue that this means Adams will be whining indignantly about injustice and those damned libs some more, but that's fine, he has free speech, he can complain all he wants, I simply won't be hearing about it and can take some satisfaction in the fact that he won't be making as much money off his bigotry anymore.

Some things are pretty obvious, but I am also able to remember, not so long ago, a comedian who just refused to be decent, and then there was a lot of noise about how cancel culture cancelled him, but the complaint fell away when he released a new Netflix special and reflected on how good cancel culture had been to him.

That is to say, it seems an interesting gamble, but Adams might be signing onto the right-wing cancellation career plan, in which case he will make at least some money from his bigotry.

But that's the thing about dropping Dilbert. Myers had already reflected on the need to "Cancel Scott Adams"↱:

That's what we're supposed to do, right? We have the power to somehow, in some way cancel people for being, for instance, racist as hell. So get to work! Chant the magic words, wave your fairy wands, summon the spirits of expulsion, whatever, and banish Scott Adams to some pit on the fringes of Sheol. He’s the face of bland, casual, rich white person racism ....

.... If we can't "cancel" Scott Adams, then "canceling" is a toothless, imaginary threat ....

.... I suspect that all we can do is recognize that Adams is a front for racism, and while we can't do anything about him, we certainly can judge our friends and family who post Dilbert comics on their office door and send them around via Facebook. That's all "canceling" is, anyway.

The future will bring what it does, but even as this plays out, we need to remember that within the conservative epistemic stagnation, riding infamy to profit seems arguably a viable career path.

What a world, what a world. Is it a conservative condition, or merely conservative conditioning?


Baragona, Justin. "Fully Unhinged ‘Dilbert' Guy Tells White People to ‘Get the Fuck Away' From Black People". The Daily Beast 23 February 2023. 26 February 20223.

Myers, P. Z. "Cancel Scott Adams". Pharyngula. 24 February 2023. 26 February 2023.

—————. "Hmmm, I was right?" Pharyngula. 25 February 2023. 26 February 2023.
The Conservative Condition

If Max Steele↱, of Everytown, suggests, "'A buzzword is worse than 1.13 million American deaths, actually' is certainly a take", it is also true that Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley told CPAC, "Wokeness is a virus more dangerous than any pandemic, hands down."
Trump proposes building 10 ‘freedom cities’ and flying cars.

Who cares about a wall between Canada and Mexico, Donald is on the Spice!
"I'm going to build a big, beautiful wall on the southern border, and Mexico will pay for it. I promise!"
"I'm going to repeal and replace Obamacare. I promise!"
"I'm going to build freedom cities. I promise!"
"I'm going to build flying cars. I promise!"
"I'm going to build a big, beautiful wall on the southern border, and Mexico will pay for it. I promise!"
"I'm going to repeal and replace Obamacare. I promise!"
"I'm going to build freedom cities. I promise!"
"I'm going to build flying cars. I promise!"
Bad idea. The land will be littered with wrecks of the cars of MAGA folk who's giant TRUMP flags got sucked into the impeller, causing them to fall from the sky
Bad idea. The land will be littered with wrecks of the cars of MAGA folk who's giant TRUMP flags got sucked into the impeller, causing them to fall from the sky
That reminds me of the Trump boat rally in Texas, where several smaller boats sank due to the wakes from the larger, more expensive boats (and to a lesser degree, their flag loads.)

Which is . . . actually a pretty accurate metaphor for what was happening around that time.
How It's Going

Will Bunch↱ suggests:

There are no accidents with Donald Trump. His reveal that the Manhattan charges/arrest are coming down on Tuesday -- no one else had leaked the date -- is to give his Proud Boy goons a head's up to mobilize, exactly like the famous "Will be wild!" tweet

This is one of those episodes in which, sure, I understand all the chatter expecting indictments in New York, but inasmuch as it's Donald Trump, I will believe it when I read the indictment, myself.

Similarly, the idea that Donald Trump has revealed the date of his indictment and arrest is one of those things I will believe when I can read the indictment.

Nonetheless: Donald Trump apparently expects to be arrested on 21 March 2023.