Thursday, December 31, 2020

For the Record: More Populism Hawley-Style

Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928).

Sequel to my popular rant on the new most obnoxious member of the Senate (narrowly beating out perennial favorite Rand Paul, who's been looking a little fatigues):

Wednesday, December 30, 2020


I ain't saying it ain't pretty. Via.

I wasn't even thinking about anything in particular when I posted this, but today on the radio the Covid version of this came up: as congresspeople continue to to debate over the best way of bribing their better-off constituents to put up with relief money going to the worse-off, it turns out that the nation's big-scale farmers have been collecting money they didn't need all along, with the bigger ones hogging the handouts:

Congress approved about $35 billion in emergency aid to farmers, which came on top of roughly $10 billion in traditional farm subsidies that were already in place. In addition, farmers were able to tap billions of dollars in funding from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

May the Force Bewitch You


I understand why they have sororities and pencil skirts, but what's with the vulgar teeshirt and need to parody a radical street-demonstration slogan? Not the actual Force, but randomly conservative young women via a website that didn't feel comfortable to my computer.

Bemused by this piece from Politico:

On the first day of Congress’ freshman orientation, four incoming GOP members realized they shared a special connection: All had first- or second-hand experience living in communist or socialist countries.

The crew quipped that their family histories with brutal dictatorships and their aversion to Big Government basically made them the opposite of the liberal “Squad” that has surged to political stardom in the House.

Taking a page from their social media savvy rivals, they took to Twitter to share the name of their own counterrevolution. And the Republican “Force” was born.

They're putting together their alternative "populist" agenda of giving away free stuff to voters and recruiting candidates from minority groups to add variety to their sea of white maleness, and they're cultivating their alternative social medium, known as "Parler" (not pronounced in French but as in "Won't you come into my Parler, said the spider to the fly") as a safe space where conservative voices are never brutally silenced the way they believe they are on Twitter (though Parler's claim to freedom from censorship is a bit exaggerated at best), and now they hope to have an alternative Squad, which will perhaps enable them to say they're a Jedi brotherhood, since the Force is with them. It's as if they were trying to construct a Democratic Party with a different flavor by reverse engineering it, like Pepsi trying to create a drink with the appeal of Coke but their own trademark.

Sunday, December 27, 2020




At Batocchio's Vagabond Scholar site, it's the annual Jon Swift Roundup of the year's best blog posts, chosen by the bloggers themselves, including of course yours truly, and commemorating the life of the great and good Al Weisel, known as Jon Swift, one of the founding figures of the genre. Go have a look!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

For the Record: My Temper Tantrum


Actually that cover is from 1945. She looks a lot more demure in magazines from when the Duce was still alive.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Literary Corner: Christmas Eve


'Twas the day before Christmas
And all through the House
All the Members had gathered
To schmooze and carouse;

The president's bluff
On the stimulus bill
Had been called and dismissed,
To the joy of the Hill,

With a pair of amendments,
Just one for each side,
To which, by agreement,
A vote was denied.

"Give us two thousand bucks!"
Representative Hoyer
Had exclaimed as Republicans
Filed through the foyer.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Back of the Envelope: So-Called Stimulus


Yeah, I know, Tax Foundation. Still, this is back of the envelope, meant to just develop suggestions, 

If the total cost is $174 billion that's a total of 290 million income tax filers and minor children receiving payments at $600 each (at $2000 each the price tag would be $580 billion, which is a lot).

The size of the average payments gives you an idea of how many children per adult: around one for every two adults in the range up to the 90th percentile (1 adult plus 1/2 kid = $900), one for four adults in the 90% to 95% range, and none over that (obviously a function of the age of the tax filer—the more money you make, the more likely any kids you have will be grown). 

Thus around 200 million tax filers total, and 90 million children; 100 million of the adults over the $40,000 median individual income, and 100 million beneath it; and 40 million adults, with their 20 million kids, in the 60th to 80th income percentiles, in the something like $50K-to-$75K range, plus 15 million adults and 5 million kids in the 80th to 95th (getting payments because they belong to a household where one spouse earns under $75K and the other one earns more), that's 80 million souls who are really pretty well off, many of them technically rich, accounting for $48 billion of the total stimulus-check bill, while $126 million goes more or less where it belongs. 

Or almost twice as much money being spent on "stimulus" for people earning more than $50,000 a year, quite a number of them much more, as is being spent on rent relief for the desperate. 

Or more than four times as much as is being spent on emergency SNAP benefits for the food insecure. 

This is not right, when the economy doesn't need a stimulus anyway, but rather relief in the months it will take to conquer Covid-19. And as I say it increases wealth inequality, since those of us who don't need it can invest it, while for those who do need it, it's money they don't even get to spend, for the landlord or the credit card. If you raise the amount to $2000 that's three times as nice for those under the median, and I don't mind, I don't freak out over deficits, but the effect on those over the median is three times as pernicious (your $149K two-kid family is surely putting their $8,000 in a college fund or playing with shares—it's far too much to spend in restaurants, far too little to buy a boat or remodel the kitchen, and you can't spend it on travel, so it ends up making them wealthier).

And don't start telling me how important it is that it shouldn't be means-tested, because it is means-tested, with the $75K cutoff. It's just set at the wrong level. Social Security and Medicare are means-determined too, by the way, contrary to what your Yangist friends tell you, at the front end, by the progressive pricing of the premiums as a percentage of your wages, and of course will be still more so when we raise the cap on how much the rich have to pay, and a good thing too.

For the present matter, it would be better to use a more targeted technique, like federal payments bringing up essential workers' income to a minimum $25/hour and other minimum-wage workers to $18. And Canadian-style unemployment payments to people kept home by childcare needs. Save the free money fot the upper middle class for when there's some business they can spend it on/

I suspect Democrats insisting on this provision, it they're thinking about it at all, are either thinking about it in the dumbest Yang-gang sense in terms of how much fun it would be if they themselves got a big check in the mail, or else in the same way Mitch McConnell does, as a way of buying votes. It's not good policy, and any vote-buying effect will be gone by November 2022. I'll try to stop talking about it now, because I know it's out of step with the Democratic conversation, and the party will do what it has to do, but I wanted to put these numbers together to get a sense of what the issue really is and why it bothers me.

Today Donald Trump Became Anti-President


Ali Mohammed Hafedh Kinani at 9, in 2007, when he was murdered by the Blackwater goons Trump pardoned last night, via The Nation.

No, really, it's as if he's not even part of the executive branch any more, after Congress passed that "stimulus" with overwhelming, veto-proof majorities, and he responded:

"I'm asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2000, or $4000 per couple," Trump said in a video released on Twitter. "I'm also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items in this legislation or to send me a suitable bill."

He refused to have anything to do with the job for seven months, turning negotiations over to Steven Mnuchin, and now that the job is done he doesn't like how it came out. Not that he's threatening to veto the monster omnibus bill and shut down the government next week (this is actually possible, even though Congress has the votes to overturn a veto, because so many members have already gone home for Christmas). He may just allow it to become law without him, in ten days, delaying the checks, or he may end up signing it after all.

(Or conceivably Democrats could try to coopt the idea and force consideration of a revised bill upping the "stimulus" payments as he suggested, which is a level they'd wanted from the start, though I'd hope they won't obey his other demands on those "wasteful and unnecessary items", to zero out the foreign aid budget and to cancel funding for a couple of museum projects that fail to be centered around white men, the Smithsonian Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women's History Museum; and even if Trump was willing to accept the result, it's not likely the Senate would be, and given the existence of, you know, Christmas and a shutdown deadline, it's not a great moment for this kind of game.)

But he's just denying he's involved in it in any way. As Steve M notes, Stephen Bannon is showing up in the Oval Office, along with Peter Navarro, and Mike Flynn, and Sydney Powell, and the inevitable Stephen Miller, and all these nihilists are telling him he's not the government. He's asking the waiter to take it back, as if he's only a customer in this crappy restaurant, or demanding to speak to the manager. He's not the manager.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

What a Relief


Photo by AFP via a website my computer says I shouldn't trust.

My unpopular opinion on the "stimulus" bill is in the first place that it isn't a stimulus, which is a good thing, because that's not what we need, at the moment, economically; the purpose of a stimulus program is to pump up weak demand, and weak demand isn't our problem. Plenty of us have plenty of money, which we could spend to encourage economic activity and create jobs and make everything boom for everybody, and the reason we aren't spending it isn't that we don't want to, it's that we're scared to go out. There's a pandemic on, people!

The problem we have is a pandemic problem, and the way to fix it is to end the pandemic. That's the only stimulus we need, and we're doing what we can, though we could no doubt be doing it better (and will be, after 20 January), and it's going to take about a year, during which things are just not going to be too lively on the economic front no matter how much we try to goose it. What we need in the meantime is a relief bill, to tide us over and keep us alive while we're waiting, and this is in fact what Congress has just produced—an installment, at any rate—lightly disguised as a stimulus. My unpopular opinion is that Speaker Pelosi has just rolled Majority Leader McConnell, once again, the way President Obama did in 2011, and sneaked a pretty good bill past him.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Honey, I Shrunk the Emperor


Image via Popsugar, February 2017.

"MAGA Apprentice" is just a joke, of course, but you can't help seeing the sincerity in the way Trump is said to be entertaining the thought of reviving his TV show after he leaves the White House, and his lack of a sense that it would be inappropriate for the Leader of the Free World to return to the Black Lagoon from which rage at Obama had drawn him.

no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice — (laughter) — at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team cooking did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks.  And there was a lot of blame to go around.  But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership.  And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meat Loaf.  (Laughter.)  You fired Gary Busey.  (Laughter.)  And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.  (Laughter and applause.)  Well handled, sir.  (Laughter.) 

He may not have known it at the time, but I think in retrospect he sees himself as having been happy when he was making Celebrity Apprentice, maybe more like happy than he'd ever been before. He didn't have to work very hard, he was surrounded by celebrities, if not many of the first rank, and all of his decisions were right, at least as far as his colleagues were concerned. If they'd been working under the assumption that he was going to fire Meat Loaf and he was suddenly inspired to fire Busey instead, nobody reproached him, the way they'll reproach you when you let a casino go broke or can't pay a $340-million-dollar loan. They'd just buckle down and recut the show.

And the money worries that had dogged him all his life were gone! He was truly rich this time, making money practically on a Kylie Jenner scale. He was collecting golf courses the way other men collect vintage cars. The entire country of Russia seemed to be treating him like royalty. Who wouldn't want to go back there, from the awful anxieties besetting him now of debt and criminal exposure (you and I can confidently say he's never going to prison, but can he be sure, knowing what he knows?), and from the mark of the loser?

Friday, December 18, 2020

Red pills make you larger, and blue pills think you're small


Set design by Cabot McMullen, via Forbes.

In the past two weeks, the people familiar with the matter note, Trump has casually slipped into conversation lines such as, “How would you like to see The Apprentice come back?” and “Remember The Apprentice?” (Lachlan Cartwright and Asawin Suebsaeng, extracted from behind the Daily Beast paywall by Aldous J Pennyfarthing/Kos)

December 18, 2020

Dear Mark,

As you may have heard, I have been "fired" recently, that is to say moving operations underground, like Mr. Bannon and Mr. Parscale. I will be taking the opportunity to devote more time to keeping our friend and my client calm by preparing for the MAGA Apprentice project, for which you have expressed your interest in working as producer, and I'm writing you now by way of organizing my thoughts, for your consideration:

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Literary Corner: Really Sad!


From Stan Brakhage, Dog Star Man, 1961-64.

Floating in Limboland
by Donald J. Trump

Can’t believe how badly
Fox News is doing in
the ratings. They played
right into the hands of the
Radical Left Democrats, & now
are floating in limboland.
Hiring fired Donna Brazile,
and far worse, allowing endless
negative and unedited commercials.
Fox News is dead. Really Sad!

From the Twitter feed.

"Unedited commercials"? I'm imagining some kind of experimental non-narrative commercial from the 1960s, by Stan Brakhage or Nam June Paik.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Biggest Marks


A modest Democratic attempt at Georgia ratfucking, which isn't totally convincing me, except "Cocaine Mitch", meaning McConnell, seems to be an authentic idea springing from inside the Trumpery, where they're urging Georgians to write in Donald and Donald Jr. (whose lips are so numb in recent videos I think they may have to go to rehab by themselves if he won't take them there) in the Senate races, after McConnell's acknowledgment today that Biden won the election, which they regard as rank treachery.

A little Karmic biteback for Georgia Republicans—in addition to suffering from Trump's denunciations of Georgia's election system for failing to prevent Biden from winning the state, which may (we hope!) discourage some Georgians from voting in the Senate runoff on 5 January, and his furious condemnations of the state's Republican governor and secretary of state, they've begun to realize that he's competing with them for money, and taking most of it:

Monday, December 14, 2020

Literary Corner: Theater of the Intellectual Dark Web

Trying to imagine what kind of universe Ben Shapiro lives in... 

The Short Soprano

by Ben Shapiro, J.D.

SCENE: An American dining room in a middle-class American home, with American furniture, four easy chairs around a coffee table in the foreground, and in back a dining table seating eight and set for four, with a large flower arrangement as centerpiece, an American credenza holding American china and cutlery left, with a cuckoo clock above on the wall. and an American home bar unit right, where Mr. Smith, an American accountant in comfortable but elegant cardigan and chinos, is mixing a cocktail as his wife, Dr. Smith, an American musicologist, enters from the living room, wearing a caftan, with their American dinner guests, Mr. and Dr. Shapiro, he in suit and tie and she in white lab coat, with a stethoscope around her neck.

DR. SMITH: Darling, here are our dinner guests, Mr. and Dr. Shapiro! Say hello!

MR. SMITH: How splendid to meet you! How is the weather, Mr. Shapiro?

MR. SHAPIRO: The weather exists by means of complex and chaotic systems in the atmosphere and the ocean, not to mention the gravitational effects exerted by the Moon and the Sun. 

DR. SHAPIRO: I am so pleased to meet you, Mr. Smith. I am Dr. Shapiro, a specialist in women and behavioral health, and this is my husband, Mr. Shapiro, a dark intellectual.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Supreme Irony


One more time: the conservatives on the Supreme Court are not our friends, but that doesn't mean they won't rule the right way when it serves their purposes. They have a good idea how to do it, for one thing: nominations master and Federalist Society Dark Lord Leonard Leo doesn't want to put people without a certain level of formal competence in these jobs, and he was never going to give us Rudy Giuliani or Judge Jeannine or Scott Baio, as might have happened if Trump himself were allowed to be in charge, or for that matter the kinds of clueless tyros Leo himself sometimes nominates as circuit judges.

And they were never going to overturn this election, because (1) there was nothing wrong with the election, and Trump's lawyers could give them no material to work with (Bush v. Gore was pretty terrible, but compared to this it was ready-mix concrete); (2) they don't owe Trump anything, as he seems to think they do, because it was Leonard Leo and Mitch McConnell that gave them the jobs, and any Republican president, as Steve was saying, would have complied; and (3) they don't have any particular reason to want him to keep being president, as there's not much he can do beyond embarrassing them with his continual hints that he bribed them—he hasn't done anything they want but nominate Federalist Society judges, to the point where they're down to about 23 vacancies in the federal judiciary out of a total of maybe 890 judgeships, so that while it may not be quite true that Trump has totally remade the judiciary, there isn't much more he'd be able to do in another four years. And they have little to fear from a Biden presidency, hobbled as he is likely to be by a difficult Congress (even if the miracle in Georgia happens). He certainly won't be pushing through a federal abortion rights statute, or taxing churches, or expanding the Court itself.

Friday, December 11, 2020

The Trumpy Doctrine

Illustration via The Week, May 2019.

So another Arab country just made "peace" ad maioram gloriam Trumpii with Israel—Morocco, which, needless to say, was not at war with Israel in the first place. On the contrary! As Wikipedia dryly notes,

While Morocco did not recognize Israel as a state, the relationship between the two was secretly maintained after the establishment of Israel in 1948. For many years, Hassan II had facilitated the secret relationship with Israel, and it was considered as instrumental in stabilizing Morocco and beating possible anti-royal threats within the country.[1] The former secret relationship continues to play an important role in growing Israeli–Moroccan ties, despite the lack of formal relations. The Israeli passport is accepted entry to Morocco with a visa granted on arrival.[2]

Uh, Mr. President, they seem to have plenty of peace already!

The benefit for Israel isn't, of course, less war, but, as in all these cases, decreased support for the people of the occupied Palestinian territories, in whose name Arab countries have been refusing to recognize Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967, and at this point, as Israel has really abandoned pretending to back a two-state resolution, de facto support for Israel's annexation of the territories.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

For the Record: Tennis, Anyone?


When History paused, sometime between 2009 and 2016. Via Courts of the World.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Literary Corner: Sarcasm

What Radio France Internationale found when they went looking for suburban women—"femmes de banlieue"—outside Raleigh on Election Day. Photo by Anne Corpet/RFI.

Suburban Women Blues
by Donald J. Trump

You remember I was saying, "Suburban women --?"
I say, "Suburban women love me. Please
love me, I've been so good to you."
"I've been so good to you. I got rid
of the worst regulation in the history of suburbia.
I got rid of that regulation so now you can actually
have a house without a building going up next to it
that you're not going to be happy about.
Without crime increasing by ten-fold and this and that."
So I said, "But suburban women,
please, please love me."
And CNN put me on, "Donald Trump,
Donald Trump is begging, he's begging
and crying for the vote of suburban women,"
right? These people are sick.
So you have to be very careful when you're sarcastic.
Sarcasm doesn't work. Sarcasm doesn't work with the --
wow that is a group of people back there! Look at that.
The fake news! That's a big group.
That is a lot of fake news.

It strikes me that there's an arguable case he really was being "sarcastic" in the normal dictionary sense of the word:

Sarcasm is speech or writing which actually means the opposite of what it seems to say. Sarcasm is usually intended to mock or insult someone.
That is, he is not begging suburban women to love him, at all. He's not even talking to suburban women, but to the enraged rural men that make up his rally audience, and expressing his rage against suburban women, for being stupid cows who are seemingly unable to understand what he did for them in dismantling the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing HUD rule, which required federal agencies and local governments to show that they were addressing patterns of segregation, discrimination, and disinvestment in return for HUD funds, which secretary Ben Carson rescinded in late July. He went out on a limb to protect them from invasion by apartment buildings for ooga-booga monsters, and they pocketed the bribe without turning over the quid pro quo of voting for him, apparently because they wanted him to be all nice and seductive about it, like some kind of Cary Grant character. Hell no! You expect me to beg for it? "Please love me, suburban women!"

That's how some kind of Cary Grant character would campaign. Not Donald Trump! And those idiots at CNN—that whole group of people back there" cowering in the press cage as he hurls his insults—don't get it, of course. No sense of humor.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Refund the police? Prefund the police? Confound the police!

Jean Cocteau, "Le Barman du Boeuf sur le Toit" (Bartender of "The Ox on the Roof" aka the Nothing Doing Bar), from Cocteau's scenario for a ballet to the score by Darius Milhaud, via Musica Brasiliensis. In the course of the scenario, if memory serves, there is a police raid, and the bar swiftly turns into a bucolic, innocent "milk bar" (section in slow waltz tempo with massed polychords around 7:00 to 9:20) and the baffled police leave them alone, after which the samba music starts up again.

Here's the thing. People want police. They do not want police who commit crimes. They do not want police who are on the take. In particular, they do not want police who kill children, or anybody. White people don't really want police to kill black people, though they often don't mind as much as they should. They want police who are good, and protect them from crimes. Black people want police to protect them from crimes too—that was a major impetus behind that famous crime bill back in 1994, that the African American community in cities wanted more police than their local governments were willing to pay for. 

Stingy local governments run by white people were shorting Black neighborhoods of policing, out of what was sometimes known in those days as "benign neglect", or maybe not so benign. They just didn't want to spend the money, and some people thought the federal government ought to pitch in. That was the reason a crime bill existed.

As it turned out, the crime bill did indeed provide enormous federal funding—for 100,000 cops. But it did nothing to ensure that the new cops in the inner city neighborhoods had any understanding of the neighborhoods they were going to be working in, and led to a lot of cops acting like occupying forces of a foreign invasion, some corruption, and quite a bit of violence. That was not a good thing. (The other aspect, the Republican part of the bill as it were, the new rules on criminal sentencing, the absurd differentiation between smoked cocaine and snorted cocaine as different kinds of "crimes" and the "three strikes" rules inviting states to adopt them, were a different kind of problem, though by no means a less serious one.)

Friday, December 4, 2020

For the Record: Punk Abolitionism

Archival image from AnOther magazine, with an article claiming the safety pin was coming back (in 2017—I don't remember noticing at all, but that doesn't mean much).

The zombie argument over the slogan "Defund the Police" continues, for reasons I can't comprehend; to me this kind of "leftism" is like Punk politics. I saw the point of Punk music back in the day, though not to the extent of wanting to follow it intensely, but I thought the early fashion was just silly and self-defeating. Shouting "defund the police" to me is the equivalent of putting a safety pin in your nose—if you insist it's attractive you might be making some valid aesthetic point, but it's not the thing that's going to sell a lot of records.

Some bright spark who identifies as a "foxy leftist" and advocates "Abolish the Police" thought he'd come up with an unanswerable analogy out of history and I wanted to lay down the answer here for posterity:

(I see I misspelled "proclamation". Damn Twitter and its refusal to let you edit anything.)

God love the radicals, including the more or less elderly ones anxious to look woke like Seward, who was certainly no fool and would end up as one of our best secretaries of state, but they needed a crafty politician like Lincoln to get them hired for the job. 

Also I offered some slogans I thought would be satisfyingly radical without putting voters off so much. Nobody's objected to any of them so far.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Call Me Sherlock Holmes: Never Mind


So no, I was pretty totally wrong. The guy whose name ends in -s buying the pardon in the case Judge Howell was dealing with was nobody we know at all:

A federal judge in Washington unsealed heavily redacted court documents on Tuesday that disclosed the existence of the investigation into possible unregistered lobbying and bribery. The people said it concerned efforts by the lawyer for Mr. Kushner, Abbe Lowell, and the fund-raiser, Elliott Broidy, who pleaded guilty in October to a charge related to a different scheme to lobby the Trump administration.

A billionaire San Francisco real estate developer, Sanford Diller, enlisted their help in securing clemency for a Berkeley psychologist, Hugh L. Baras, who had received a 30-month prison sentence on a conviction of tax evasion and improperly claiming Social Security benefits, according to the filing and the people familiar with the case. Under the suspected scheme, Mr. Diller would make “a substantial political contribution” to an unspecified recipient in exchange for the pardon. He died in February 2018, and there is no evidence that the effort continued after his death.

No Giuliani, no Dowd. I'll admit I'm a little disappointed. Glad to see Abbe Lowell in trouble, of course, and not sorry to see it piling on that turd Broidy, but a little disappointed over my brilliant reconstruction, which turns out not to be actually applicable to the case.

Still, the joy is in the hunt. Also everything I said about the Lev Parnas case could still be true! Except for, you know, it being this case. And all the other cases it could be, because, you know, Trump could be selling pardons all the time.

For the Record: Trump's Legacy

Attorney General Yates? Just sayin. Photo by Heratch Ekmekjian/NYTimes.

The No Trumps Bridge Act of 2023. That's the kind of legacy I'd like to see.

And in response to an irritating "let us look forward" column by Paul Brandus:

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Call Me Sherlock Holmes. II

Photo via The Mary Sue.

Carrying on a bit from last night:

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

For the Record: Call Me Sherlock Holmes

Photo by Miami Herald.

If you don't know about the remarkable case emerging under so much redaction you can't be sure at all what it is, it starts out like this:


Unregistered lobbyists allegedly tried to coax senior White House officials while pushing a “Bribery-for-pardon” scheme involving a “substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence,” a federal judge revealed in a heavily redacted order released on Tuesday.

The bombshell investigation became public during a fight over attorney-client privilege that secretly has been underway in federal court in Washington, D.C. since at least Aug. 25 this year, when prosecutors sought permission a judge’s permission to override attorney-client privileged communications because of the crime-fraud exception.

“In the course of the ongoing review by the government’s filter team of the ‘over fifty digital media devices, including iPhones, iPads, laptops, thumb drives, and computer and external hard drives, totaling several terabytes of data)’ seized […] email communications have been identified ‘indicat[ing] additional criminal activity,'” Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, who leads the federal jurisdiction inside the nation’s capital, summarized in a 15-page opinion and order detailing a “secret lobbying scheme” where undisclosed individuals allegedly acted as undisclosed lobbyists to senior White House officials. (Adam Klasfeld/Law & Crime)

And, for what it's worth, Emptywheel thinks Trump got paid for it already, based on I'm not exactly sure what, but it has to do with the fact that he had a three-hour meeting with attorney general Barr today and the presumption that they couldn't have spent all that time with Barr explaining to Trump why there wasn't any election fraud (Trump wasn't convinced):

Don the Con


President Two-Scoops. Photo by Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press.

Am I reading this right? Per Josh Dawsey and Michelle Ye Hee Lee in yesterday's WaPo, they're not even particularly hiding it; the report doesn't exactly say so, but the campaign against nonexistent election fraud looks like a simple con—a fund-raising effort using a cause they know to be hopeless to make money for other purposes:

President Trump’s political operation has raised more than $150 million since Election Day [$170 million per New York Times], using a blizzard of misleading appeals about the election to shatter fundraising records set during the campaign, according to people with knowledge of the contributions.

The influx of political donations is one reason Trump and some allies are inclined to continue a legal onslaught and public affairs blitz focused on baseless claims of election fraud, even as their attempts have repeatedly failed in court and as key states continue to certify wins for President-elect Joe Biden.

Much of the money raised since the election is likely to go into an account for the president to use on political activities after he leaves office, while some of the contributions will go toward what’s left of the legal fight.

Off the emotions of "small-dollar donors" who contribute when "the president is under siege" for the "Official Election Defense Fund"—