Monday, March 28, 2022

Lifetime Federal Judicial Appointments was a Mistake by the Founders

 CNN reports:

The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 riot has in its possession more than two dozen text messages, 29 in total, between former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, a conservative activist and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, according to multiple sources familiar with the messages.

These text messages, according to sources, took place between early

Ginni Thomas
 November 2020 and mid-January 2021. Thomas recently revealed that she attended the pro-Trump rally that preceded the US Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, but says she "played no role" in planning the events of that day.

The text messages, reviewed by CNN, show Thomas pleading with Meadows to continue the fight to overturn the election results.

"Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!! ... You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America's constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History," Thomas wrote on November 10, 2020.


Thomas regularly checked in with Meadows to encourage him to push claims of voter fraud and work to prevent the election from being certified. Meadows often responded. On that same day as the previous text, he wrote: "I will stand firm. We will fight until there is no fight left. Our country is too precious to give up on. Thanks for all you do."

On November 24, 2020, Meadows promised he wasn't done battling on then-President Donald Trump's behalf and evoked his faith as a source of strength.

"This is a fight of good versus evil. Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it."

Thomas wrote to Meadows on November 19, 2020, "Sounds like Sidney and her team are getting inundated with evidence of fraud. Make a plan. Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down." Attorney Sidney Powell, who worked on Trump-aligned lawsuits seeking to challenge the results of the 2020 election, was also referred to by herself as "The Kraken" in reference to the ancient mythological sea creature.

By the end of November, Thomas was getting increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress of the attempt to find a path to overturn the results.

On November 24, 2020 she wrote: "I can't see Americans swallowing the obvious fraud. Just going with one more thing with no frickin consequences... the whole coup and now this... we just cave to people wanting Biden to be anointed? Many of us can't continue the GOP charade."

The committee is in possession of only one text from the month of January 2021, four days after the riot on Capitol Hill.

Thomas wrote to Meadows that she was angry with then-Vice President Mike Pence for not taking the steps necessary to block the certification of the election results.

"We are living through what feels like the end of America. Most of us are disgusted with the VP and are in a listening mode to see where to fight with our teams. Those who attacked the Capitol are not representative of our great teams of patriots for DJT!! Amazing times. The end of Liberty," Thomas wrote.

While it's hard to fashion a rule limiting the political activity of a judge's spouse, conflict of interest rules still constrain the judge's participation in cases involving spouses and family members.  In January of this year, Justice Thomas was the lone dissenter in an order that rejected Trump's attempt to keep documents from the select committee investigating events surrounding January 6th.  At the time Justice Thomas participated in that vote, he had to have known his wife was lobbying in support of the coup attempt.  Indeed, considering her role in the effort, she very possibly will be called as a witness before the January 6th Committee.  Yet, Justice Thomas did not recuse himself from participating in the ruling earlier this year.  

Judicial ethics demand judges recuse themselves on cases that could involve family members.  But here's the thing.  Supreme Court justices, unlike other judges, are not bound by ethics rules. They are literally above the law.  Whether they recuse themselves is totally up to them.

In the Constitution, the Founding Fathers gave federal judges lifetime appointments, subject only to removal through the impeachment process.   As a result, lower court federal judges have very few restraints  as they only answer to the federal judges at the level of above them. But Supreme Court justices have no one above them.  If they choose not to follow judicial ethics, the only remedy is impeachment by the House and removal by the Senate.  In 235 years, not a single United States Supreme Court justice has ever been removed through the impeachment process.  Only 15 lower court federal judges have been so removed.

Lifetime appointments of federal judges was almost certainly a mistake by our founders.  It's been particularly problematic at the Supreme Court level where justices often serve 30 or more years, exerting virtually absolute power in deciding major policy issues.

I like the idea of the nine Supreme Court justices serving 18-year terms, with a term expiring every two years.  That way, every President would have two appointments during a single four-year term.  But it may require a constitutional amendment to make the change.  

But maybe it would not.  There is an argument that lifetime tenure only applies to the appointment as a federal judge, not to a particular court. 

Finally, I should note that I'm not one of those who philosophically oppose Justice Clarence Thomas.  Most of his opinions reflect my own conservative views, although there are major exceptions such as Thomas' desire to limit free speech by revisiting the "actual malice" standard set out in NY Times v. Sullivan.  The Democrats' effort to dig up dirt on Thomas and then smear him with a factually specious and uncorroborated claim of sexual harassment which supposedly happened decades earlier is one of the worst things I've seen in politics, rivaled only by what the Democrats attempted to do to now Justice Kavanaugh.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Trump Keeps Campaign Cash For Himself Rather Than Help Out His Endorsed Candidates

In February, former President Trump's Save America PAC reported taking in $3.5 million, while spending $1.2 million.  As a result of the fundraising effort, the PAC now has $110 billion in the bank.

While Trump's businesses have profited from the haul, virtually none of the candidates he has endorsed has received money from the Trump's PAC.  In February, Trump endorsed two dozen candidates.  None have received a contribution.  February marked the second straight month that Trump didn't donate a cent to Republican candidates.

Bloomberg reports:

Trump has endorsed GOP candidates at the federal, state and local level, focusing on those who support his baseless claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him or are challenging Republican incumbents who opposed him. He’s championed more than 130 candidates since leaving the White House, more than half of whom are running for federal office. He’s also endorsed politicians running for state and local positions as well as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

But while he has the biggest bank roll in Republican politics, he hasn’t spread much of it around. Save America has given just $350,500 to other candidates since July. It hasn’t made a single donation in 2022. PACs can donate $5,000 to federal candidates per election, while state laws set different maximum contributions. Save America could also make unlimited independent expenditures -- usually ad buys -- on behalf of candidates it supports.

OOP's short takes:

  • The Senate confirmation hearing for Judge Katanji Brown Jackson begins today.  I am not terribly offended that President Biden announced in advance that he would be picking a black woman for the opening and that Brown meets that criterion.  
  • Republicans are using the process to complain about how Kavanaugh was treated by Democrats during the last confirmation.  Republicans are not wrong about the lack of credible evidence in support of the accusation against Kavanaugh that nearly derailed his nomination.  But Kavanaugh is not the first nominee who has faced such attacks.  The late Robert Bork and Justice Clarence Thomas also faced character assassination during their confirmation hearings. Thomas survived those attacks, Bork did not.   
  • Now Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) though is trying to equal the score by acting as deplorable in confirmations as his Democratic colleagues have.  Senator Hawley is taking a page out of the Qanon playbook by suggesting that Judge Jackson is pedophile friendly.  Disgusting, but not unexpected.
  • Saw that Dick Van Dyke is now 96 years old.  I would have bet anything that Van Dyke, a former smoker who has long struggled to overcome depression and alcoholism, would never reach 90 years old, much less 96.  Congrats.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Four Days on Former President Trump's Fundraising Email List

On Thursday, the Trump fundraising appeals began with an email at 9:06 am asking me to "Save the date" about an upcoming rally in South Carolina.  I could be his VIP at the rally if I were selected.   Even

though I'm one of Trump's "most loyal supporters," it would cost me $25 to have a chance to win the honor.  Twenty-four minutes later, I received another email from the Trump campaign asking me to take a survey about who is better for American - "President" Trump or Joe Biden.   When you submit the survey, the Trump campaign again asks for money even if you picked "Joe Biden" in all your answers. 

The Trump campaign email onslaught continued on Thursday and throughout the weekend.  I have them catalogued along with the subject line of the email.

Thursday, March 3rd (12 emails)
9:06 am:   Save the Date
9:30 am:   I urgently need your input
11:16 am:  Would you vote for President Trump a third time
11:50 am:   Record-high energy prices
2:16 pm:   Response requested
2:34 pm:  I really need you to read this
5:16 pm:  We have something important to tell you
5:49 pm:  You + my father at the rally (supposedly from Don, Jr.)
7:45 pm:  I cannot do this alone
9:15 pm:  600%: REACTIVATED  (this is the fake matching fundraising appeal)
9:49 pm:   A trip down memory lane
11:05 pm:  This is your last chance (I'm guessing probably not)

Friday, March 14th (13 emails)
8:46 am:  ERROR
9:06 am:  Let's take a picture
11:16 am:  what should be the biggest story of our time
1:35 pm:  600%-IMPACT 600%-IMPACT 600%-IMPACT
2:31 pm:  Just in:  Your 600% IMPACT
2:52 pm:  Gold is my favorite color
4:00 pm:  I'm preparing for my next rally
5:28 pm:  Commemorative Gold Trump Coin
5:50 pm:  President Trump needs your input
6:45 pm:  Entry #20224545
8:35 pm:  I designed a limited-edition Make America Great Again Hat
9:50 pm:  600%: REACTIVATED
11:05 pm:  Joe Biden's State of the Union Address was TERRIBLE

Saturday, March 5th (12 emails)
2:38 am:  President Trump's Book  (release of yet another Trump book that he didn't write and didn't read)
9:05 am:  You have an unread email
9:31 am:  Inner Friend Circle
11:15 am:  I've never done this before.  (Yeah, right.)
11:50 am:  Make sure the Radical Left hears you LOUD AND CLEAR.
2:15 pm:  Joe Biden's State of the Union Address was pitiful
2:35 pm;  Join the ranks
5:15 pm:  The American People LOVE President Trump.  (The 2020 election results say otherwise)
5:50 pm:  re:my last email to you
8:35 pm:  Win a limited-edition MAGA Hat that I signed for you
9:49 pm:  30 seconds
11:04 pm:  The Fake News will always TRASH President Trump

Sunday, March 6th (13 emails)
9:05 am:  Pitiful
9:31 am:  Let's take a picture
11:15 am:  We urgently NEED your input
11:50 am:  You are always someone I can count on to tell me the truth"
12:07 pm:  Rally Entry #20224522
2:16 pm:  It's time to enter
2:35 pm:  RE: entry status
5:14 pm:  I really need you to read this
5:50 pm:  600%-IMPACT 600%-IMPACT 600%-IMPACT
7:45 pm:  Are you going to claim your DOUBLE-ENTRY?
8:35 pm:  Your offer is ready
9:50 pm:  I'm giving you the chance to INCREASE your IMPACT by 600%
11:05 pm:  Urgent Trump Donor Wall - This is for YOU only (I'm thinking not)

Over the years, I had fallen off Trump's email list.  Not sure how I got back on.  I have never given that failed businessman, reality show star, failed President a dime.  Imagine how many emails I would get if I had donated to him?

Thursday, March 3, 2022

January 6th Committee Files Evidence Which It Says Shows President Trump's Involvement in a Criminal Conspiracy

 In what would have been the number one story were it not for the war in Ukraine, the January 6th Committee last night filed a document alleging it has evidence that then President Donald Trump and his campaign "engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States."  Politico reports:

In a major release of its findings, filed in federal court late Wednesday, the committee suggested that its evidence supported findings that Trump himself violated multiple laws by attempting to prevent Congress from certifying his defeat. 

The Select Committee also has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States,” the committee wrote in a filing submitted in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California.

John Eastman

Characterizing excerpts of nearly a dozen depositions from top aides to Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, the committee described a president who had been informed repeatedly that he lost the election and that his claims of fraud were unfounded — only to reject them and continue to mislead the American public.  

He then pushed top advisers to continue strategizing ways to overturn the election results.

The panel released its findings as part of a legal push to force John Eastman, an attorney who was a key driver of Trump’s strategy to subvert the 2020 election, to produce crucial emails tying together elements of the scheme they described.

In 16 accompanying exhibits, the panel showcased testimony it received from key figures in Trump-world, including campaign adviser Jason Miller, White House communications aide Ben Williamson, Pence national security adviser Keith Kellogg, Pence counsel Greg Jacob and Pence chief of staff Marc Short. Top Justice Department officials also provided crucial testimony revealed by the panel Wednesday night, including Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen and his top adviser, Richard Donoghue.

A deposition of Eastman himself reveals that the Trump ally invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination nearly 150 times in declining to answer the committee’s questions.  

The committee suggests Trump and some of his allies may have committed three distinct crimes: Obstruction of an official proceeding — in this case, Congress’ Jan 6 session to count electoral votes — defrauding the United States by interfering in the election certification and spreading false information about the results, and a violation of the District of Columbia’s common fraud law.


The panel says the evidence supports an “inference” that Trump knew he had lost the election —
 Miller described a blunt conversation with Trump in which campaign aides told him he had lost — “but the President nevertheless sought to use the Vice President to manipulate the results in his favor.”

Miller told the committee that campaign aide Matt Oczkowski told Trump in the Oval Office that “he was going to lose,” citing county and state-level results that were being reported. But Miller said Trump refused to accept their assessment.


Eastman, however, didn’t relent even after a violent mob — egged on by Trump — stormed the Capitol and sent Pence and Congress fleeing for safety. Eastman continued to press Pence to overturn the election.

“Thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege,” Jacob, Pence’s counsel,
 emailed Eastman, along with a lengthy refutation of his argument.


Even after this exchange, Eastman made one final plea to convince Pence to stop the counting of electoral votes, acknowledging it would amount to a “relatively minor” violation of the federal law known as the Electoral Count Act.

“Plaintiff knew what he was proposing would violate the law, but he nonetheless urged the Vice President to take those actions,” the committee wrote in its filings.


The select committee revealed its evidence as part of a bid to convince a federal judge to require Eastman to provide more of his own emails — held by his former employer Chapman University — to congressional investigators. Eastman sued to block the panel from accessing his Chapman emails, claiming they would reveal records protected by attorney-client privilege.

But the panel’s emphasis on potential crimes may convince U.S. District Court Judge David Carter — who has repeatedly ruled against Eastman — that none of Eastman’s records are protected by privilege.

No doubt the evidence of Trump's criminal conduct will be turned over to the Justice Department by the January 6th Committee.  I am just not confident that Attorney General Merrick Garland will do anything with it.  When the committee made a criminal referral of Steve Bannon for failing to comply with a subpoena, Garland dragged his feet for over on a month on whether to file a slam dunk contempt case against Bannon.  Garland has now had on his desk for going on three months a criminal referral for Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows for also failing to comply with the committee's subpoena. 

(Now would be a good time bring up again my argument that Congress needs to use its inherent powers to enforce subpoenas, not delegate that task out to the Justice Department and federal courts.)

If Garland is squishy about filing criminal charges against someone like Meadows, I can't see him having the guts to ask a grand jury to indict the ex-President regardless of how much the evidence points to his criminal conduct.  I will reiterate my prediction that Garland will be the most unpopular cabinet member and that, before the end of the year, pressure will build for President Biden to fire him.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Senator Rick Scott's Tax Increase Plan Rejected by Senate Leadership

Last week, Florida Senator Rick Scott and head of the National Republican Senate Committee released a 11 point GOP agenda for the upcoming election that included a tax increase on one half of all Americans.  Scott says, correctly, that half of Americans don't pay income taxes.  Scott says those Americans need to have "skin in the game."  

Democrats immediately pounced while Republicans ran away as fast as they could.  Senator Scott then went on Fox, claiming he wasn't proposing a tax increase at all.  Naturally the Fox hosts went along with the absurd claim.

Senator Rick Scott (R-FL)

Let's go over the math.  If I pay $0 in taxes one year, then pay $500 in taxes the next, is that an increase in taxes?  Yes!   

Scott is in fact proposing that we raise taxes on the poor and middle-class Americans.  Not a good look.  

Now GOP Senate leadership is trying to distance itself from the tax increase idea.  Politico reports:

Asked about the proposal at a press conference on Tuesday, [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell firmly stated that Scott's plan was not his vision.

"Let me tell you what would not be a part of our agenda," McConnell said. "We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people, and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years."

"That will not be part of the Republican Senate majority agenda," he reiterated. "We will focus instead on what the American people are concerned about: inflation, energy, defense, the border and crime."

McConnell's rebuke of Scott -- a rare public admonishment of one of his top lieutenants -- demonstrated fissures within the GOP over how to win key Senate races that could determine which party controls the upper chamber after the November elections.

The ethically challenged Scott may have been the worst governor in America when he led Florida.  Fortunately for Scott, he is now in a chamber where his awfulness is overshadowed by other Senators on his side of the aisle.  


OOP's short takes:

  • Early on, I thought President Biden's State of the Union speech had a chance to be one of the best ever given.  Then he started into the laundry list...the list of accomplishments and policy objectives every President seems compelled to include in the State of the Union speech. As a result, the speech droned on for about 45 minutes longer than it needed.  With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden had the perfect opportunity to break the laundry list tradition and he refused to take it.
  • Regardless, Biden proved the "Dementia Joe" nonsense is just that - nonsense.  He proved himself to be very articulate and in command.  He doesn't have a 95 mile an hour fastball any more.  But it's 90 mph, which is good enough.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

41% of CPAC Respondents Would Prefer Someone Other than Trump for President in 2024

Over the weekend, former President Donald Trump won the annual Conservative Political Action Conference's straw poll with 59% of the vote.  Florida Governor Ron DeSantis finished with 28.4%.  While the media portrayed this as a great triumph of Trump's dominance within the GOP, I was shocked at how poorly Trump did in the poll.  CPAC attendees could not be more pro-Trump.   Yet, 41% of those polled preferred another candidate besides Trump.  It is also significant that the former president's support dropped from 70% at the 2021 CPAC event to 59% this year.

CPAC in recent years has been a gathering of the most Trumpy, and crazy, Republicans in the country.  Being "conservative" is no longer the price of admission.  Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which runs the event, admits CPAC is no longer "conservative."  After all, CPAC's keynote speaker Friday night was former Democratic Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard.  Gabbard's last year in Congress, Schlapp's ACU gave her a 9% rating.  It seems that the only reason for Gabbard's invitation is that she is very pro-Putin.

Oh, and Marjorie Taylor "Jewish Space Lasers" Greene was also a main speaker at CPAC.  Fortunately for her, Greene's speaking duties did not stop her from attending a white nationalist conference the same weekend.

But while the straw poll of the candidates got the most attention, what I found perhaps more significant were the answers to a question about the three most important issues asked of CPAC participants.  Finishing 1-2-3 were election integrity, immigration/border wall and constitutional rights.  Unbelievably, "inflation/cost of living," almost certainly the No. 1 issue for Republicans heading into the 2022 mid-terms, finished a distant fourth in the poll.  "Taxes, Budget & Spending" and "Improve Economy," also Republican strengths, were listed seventh and eighth in importance. 

CPAC has become a Republican embarrassment.  It's time to shut it down.  Unfortunately, the CPAC event has become a cash cow for Schlapp and he wants to keep the money flowing.  At least, CPAC should be stripped of the "conservative" designation in its title.  It is anything but.


Speaking of conservative, last weekend also featured the Principles First Summit.  The PFS speaker list featured intellectuals and activists who actually live up to the conservative principles they espouse, unlike the unprincipled, and often fake, conservatives who spoke at CPAC.

OOP's short takes:

  • Does anyone seriously believe that NATO would be as unified in its response to Russian aggression under a President Trump as opposed to President Biden?  Trump was set to take the United States out of NATO in his second term, and he spent his first term undercutting NATO at every turn.  Further, Trump was, and still is, a great admirer of the Vladimir Putin.  The fact Putin is willing to kill innocent civilians in Ukraine and violently put down dissent at home simply means he is "strong" and "smart" to Trump.
  • Fortunately for the United States and the world, Trump's initial cheerleading of Putin's advance into Ukraine did not find much support (outside of white nationalist groups).  So now Trump has changed his tune, trying to get ahead of the parade.  He is now saying Putin wouldn't have gone into Ukraine if he had been in charge.  Yeah, right.  Putin was no doubt planning to invade Ukraine during Trump's second term in order to take advantage of Trump's infatuation with him and his weakening of NATO.  Unfortunately for Putin, but fortunately for Americans, Trump never got his second term.
  • And let's not forget those Javelin missiles used by Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression were the weapons Trump refused Ukraine unless it announced a fake investigation of Joe Biden that Trump could use in his re-election campaign.