Sunday, January 29, 2023

For the Record: Can Black Cops Be Racist?

Photo by Tyre Nichols.


The big reaction on the right to the murder of Tyre Nichols by the five Memphis police officers who beat him to death on the suspicion that he might have been "driving recklessly" has been to deny that racism had anything to do with it, because the cops in question were Black, like their victim.

We heard the same thing after Freddie Gray was caught avoiding police and having a (legal) knife in his shirt pocket, and rattled to death—a ride so rough it severed his spine—in the police van taking him to the station in 2015, and three of the six cops involved, including the driver, were African American. But I think it's a good deal more anxious and urgent now, maybe because we're in the age of George Floyd and they're feeling more threatened than before. 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Narratology: White Whale

Narratology really starting to come into its own, as the Special Counsel picks up on the stuff I've been telling you, and the Mar-a-Lago documents case merges with the case of Trump's effort to incriminate the Crossfire Hurricane and Mueller investigations, as I've been saying it should; according to The Independent and the great Murray Waas:

Investigators working for Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith have reportedly questioned multiple ex-Trump administration officials about the fate of a large tranche of classified documents pertaining to the FBI probe into Russia’s campaign of interference in the 2016 election.

A report by Murray Waas, a freelance investigative reporter and former National Journal staff writer, wrote on Wednesday that “at least three” figures in Mr Trump’s inner circle have been pressed by prosecutors on whether Mr Trump took “thousands of pages” of documents from the White House — including many bearing classification markings — with an eye towards making them public in attempt to discredit the Justice Department’s probe into alleged ties between his 2016 campaign and the Russian Federation.

I'd hope the three or more figures would include Cassidy Hutchinson, who witnessed the process, on the cooperative side. We've known something about these documents for a long time—Trump started claiming he had already declassified a stash of documents on the subject as early as a Tweet of October 2020—

“I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!”

 —which, like so many Trump statements, was more aspiration than fact; it wasn't, in fact, until January 19 2021, the day before the Biden inauguration, that, with some documents in hand, in a "binder" he'd received from the Justice Department on December 30, he finally issued a memorandum to the attorney general, DNI, and DCI directing them to declassify it, with the redactions demanded by the FBI. I don't think it's been reported whether they obeyed this order, but it also seems certain that at least one copy of those materials, probably without redactions and with intact classification markings, was among the stuff stolen and sent to Trump's Palm Beach club that day, along with at least one copy of the classified stuff stolen from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence by Chairman Nunes and Chief of Staff Meadows that the staff had made so many photocopies of on the same day

What I'm saying is that Jack Smith seems to have come to the same conclusion as I did on a motive for at least some of the Mar-a-Lago document theft—his long quest to avenge himself on the FBI and everyone who exposed his collusion with Russian intelligence in the 2016 election, and (taking it, as I always do, just a notch farther than the reported story) that will be the basis on which Trump is indicted in this case. As, I think, I've been telling you.

Not only that, but also this week is the wonderful reporting in The New York Times by Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner that shows former attorney general Billy Barr pushing special counsel John Durham on the same quest to incriminate the FBI and others over the Crossfire Hurricane and Robert Mueller investigations in the face of the fact that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing to begin with, and of course practically none squeezed out after millions of dollars and years of effort (one minor deception in the filing of the third renewal request on the surveillance order against Carter Page, discovered not by the special counsel but the FBI inspector general. Corroborating what I've been telling you since October 2019  at least, including anticipations of this week's stories in

  • that snipe hunt for evidence in Italy where Barr and Durham came up dry, in October 2019, and the switch to a criminal investigation, of which I wrote at the time

"It's about Trump, and the idée fixe of Trump's increasing paranoia: that he must get to his enemies by using their weapons, of saying "bad things" and getting "dirt". Investigate them all! Lock them up! And its failure so far, which has been accelerating in recent weeks, as Barr's meta-investigation falls apart. "

  • the pressure on inspector general Horowitz to come up with the stuff in April 2020, with a nod to John Solomon's participation in the effort going back to August 2019

"My [i.e., Solomon's] reporting, including interviews with four dozen U.S. officials over the last several months, actually identifies a much larger collection of documents — about a dozen all together — that, when declassified, would show more completely how a routine counterintelligence probe was hijacked to turn the most awesome spy powers in America against a presidential nominee in what was essentially a political dirty trick orchestrated by Democrats"

  • the use of Russian intelligence disinformation to hint at a bogus case against Hillary Clinton "to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service" in October 2020 (with a guest appearance by the big binder mentioned above, delivered by DNI John Ratcliffe to Barr's DOJ)

It's always seemed me that this was one big story, starring mad Trump as Captain Ahab after the white whale of the FBI, and all Trump's henchmen from Solomon and Patel back to Bully Barr as the Pequod's doomed crew (Cassie Hutchinson is Ishmael, alone escaped to tell thee?), only it's not a ship but a criminal outfit. And now the news narrative is finally coalescing to my point, under Jack Smith's guidance. I think there could be a lot of indictments, though sadly not of Barr and Durham, who are in some ways the most reprehensible of all (committing some of the exact same crimes of which they falsely allowed Hillary Clinton, together with Comey, McCabe, Mueller, and others, to be accused), and it's looking as if I've had pretty good instincts on this up to now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

For the Record: Token? What Token?


They also seem to have forgotten to notify Donalds how serious they were about nominating him, since he voted for McCarthy in the first two rounds. Photo via Yahoo News.

From the "Black Democrats are the real racists" department, Heritage Foundation offered this specimen on Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), who was mean to Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) after insurgent Republicans offered his name in nomination in the first 12 rounds of the Great Speakership Battle

Pundits inevitably made an issue of Donalds’s race and of the fact that the lawmaker the Democrats proposed, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), is also black. “It was the first time two black candidates for speaker of the House … were nominated simultaneously,” averred Fox News.

It was at that point that Bush channeled her inner mean girl and tweeted, “FWIW [For What It’s Worth], @ByronDonalds is not a historic candidate for Speaker. He is a prop. Despite being Black, he supports a policy agenda intent on upholding and perpetuating white supremacy. His name being in the mix is not progress—it’s pathetic.”

Actually, as Fox News noted, it was Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) who made an issue of the races of Rep. Donalds and Leader Jeffries in that way, followed by nominators Matt Rosendale and Scott Perry, who also took care to mention it

While praising Donalds, Roy also tipped his hat to Jeffries, the Democratic minority's choice for Speaker.

"And for the first time in history, there have been two Black Americans placed into the nomination for speaker of the House," Roy said.

Even as Roy also complimented Donalds for "moving past diversity", from inevitably fatherless Black kid to "Christian man", diversity being generally populated, as we all know, by bastards and unbelievers and people with bad character content in general, with the requisite quotation of the only words known to have been uttered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his entire life:

"We do not seek to judge people by the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character," Roy said. "Byron Donalds is a good man — raised by a single mom, moved past diversity, became a Christian man at the age of 21, and has devoted his life to advancing the cause for his family and this country. And he has done it admirably."

or, as Fox News put it,

emphasized his belief that race itself was never a consideration in nominating Donalds.

Sure, Chip, you've made that totally clear, except:

As of today, January 24, Donalds's website still can't tell us what committees McCarthy has given him.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Cancel Me


Album cover by the Japanese-American ska punk band Kemuri.

This is kind of hilarious but also important, from a team at Washington Post: the January 6 committee found, in extensive interviews with social media employees, according to a memo prepared by committee staffers but not among the things the committee made public (the Post has posted it here), that, far from censoring rightwingers, the companies worked really hard at not doing it, violating their content moderation rules to avoid offending Trump and his supporters:

Congressional investigators found evidence that tech platforms — especially Twitter — failed to heed their own employees’ warnings about violent rhetoric on their platforms and bent their rules to avoid penalizing conservatives, particularly then-president Trump, out of fear of reprisals. The draft report details how most platforms did not take “dramatic” steps to rein in extremist content until after the attack on the Capitol, despite clear red flags across the internet.

“The sum of this is that alt-tech, fringe, and mainstream platforms were exploited in tandem by right-wing activists to bring American democracy to the brink of ruin,” the staffers wrote in their memo. “These platforms enabled the mobilization of extremists on smaller sites and whipped up conservative grievance on larger, more mainstream ones.”

Thursday, January 19, 2023

For the Record: Young Rawls at War

And in questions we don't normally ask here at Rectification Central, do we need a John Rawls biopic?

Gil, a finite mode, a philosophical tweep whose tweets are protected from piracy, thinks not. It may be true that Gary Oldman looks a lot like Rawls, and it may be equally true that Rawls is a signally important and lovable philosopher, with his idea of "justice as fairness", seeming to be deep, technically proficient, and heartwarming all at the same time, but Gil knows what philosophers do all day, and it is not the stuff of which movies are made.
"watching a world class actor pretend to think really hard and come up with the idea of pretending you don't know stuff, for justice. maybe he did that so much he was a bad husband. or idk maybe he was good to his wife. I'm so bored either way"

(Gil doesn't admire that zero-based budgeting style of Hobbes/Locke/Rousseau that commences by imagining a bunch of people who don't have a community and tries to imagine a rigorous philosophical method by which they could invent one, and I get that; in fact I've possibly thought about it more than he has—people are apes, my friends, homonini, meaning they had rich and complex social organizations long before they invented talking, so they had to do it without talking about it at all, let alone laying out a system of postulates and axioms, and deliberate social organization can only begin with a group that is already extremely organized.). 

Some might feel we would be better served by a Lou Rawls biopic (he's the king of them all, y'all), and I'm sympathetic to that point of view too. But thanks to Wikipedia I'm no longer so sure:

For the Record: More-a-Lago


Look for the helpers! Just straightening some folks out:

And then there's Trump, bringing back the theory that he's just a lonely old hoarder, as if his document theft wasn't carried out by an army of staffers, and as if we hadn't learned anything about the case since he invented the story last summer—though I guess his supporters really haven't learned anything, since it's not reported on their media:

Monday, January 16, 2023

For the Record: January 6 Meets Mar-a-Lago

Posted this expansion of the January 1 post as a Twitter thread,  but I've messed up the threading in at least a couple of places. What follows is a more or less unformatted version.

Talking about mishandled classified documents, did I ever tell you about the time Mark Meadows stole a large number of photocopies of classified docs from the White House, some to give to well-known rightwing journalists, some for purposes unknown? On or about January 19 2021?


Actually I did, in a blogpost of January 1 this year, but that was more for the fun of scooping the real journalists who, I assumed, would be jumping on the story in the next couple of days. Only they didn't.

So I'm pushing it out On Here.


The material is basically from Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony to the J6 Committee of 5/17/22, just after she's been talking about Meadows improperly burning documents in his fireplace in 12/21, after discussions with Scott Perry about "election matters". 


Starting p. 44, Cheney turns the discussion to whether Meadows ever took any documents home, and on p. 46, gets more specific:


Sunday, January 15, 2023

The Wokest of Us All

Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King, Jr., LaVerne Watson, and David W. Bridell on Boston Common, ca, 1955, via Boston University

Hi, here with a couple of slightly novel ideas for my annual post on the content of your character and the annual Republican explosion of enthusiasm for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as an opponent of anybody ever referring at any time to anybody's race, especially when the subject is college admissions.

First, just to note that the argument is a fine example of what I have called the "Scalian Hermeneutic", the philosophical technique of totally divorcing a linguistic expression from its context before you attempt to analyze it, named after Justice Antonin Scalia's interpretation in Heller of 52% of the Second Amendment as if the other 48%, not to mention an entire history of the right to bear arms going back to the Glorious Revolution in England 1689 and a Bill of Rights that granted gun rights only to members of the established church, did not exist. 

The advocates of Conservative King, similarly, base their case on 2%, 35 words from the 1,667 words of King's fervent appeal of August 28, 1963, for racial justice and equality, a speech that frequently mentions people's races, as right at the opening,

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Suing Her Strongly

To the tune of (with the utmost respect to the great singer Roberta Flack, who sang it better than the composer, but because most of us have never heard the composer, Lori Lieberman, singing it):

Suing Her Strongly

This woman told a story
She told a tale on me
She told it out of cold air
Whatever that may be
So I told my attorney
To make her go away

Breaking her heart with his motions
Wrecking her life with his briefs
Suing her strongly with lawyers,
Suing her strongly, and bigly,
Suing her strongly with my suit

I never did it to her.
There was no anything
She didn't seem to mind while
It was happening
I really can't remember
But my attorney wll be

Breaking her heart with his motions
Wrecking her life with his briefs
Suing her strongly with lawyers,
Suing her strongly, and bigly,
Suing her strongly with my suit

I never shop at Bergdorfs
Besides she's not my kind
I never rape below an
Eight, perhaps a nine,
And if you doubt my witness
Then my attorney will be

Wasting your time with his motions
Breaking your balls with his briefs
Suing you wrongly with lawyers,
Suing you wrongly, and bigly,
Suing you wrongly with my suit

Friday, January 13, 2023

Point of Personal Privilege


"Photo op raid"—I can't tell whether they've really forgotten that the FBI's seizure of the stolen materials at Mar-a-Lago was carried out with the usual FBI discretion, and the reason we learned about it was Trump's immediate howls of preemptive rage; it was his publicity, not theirs. Or that they released the photo (documenting the proceedings with photos is part of their standard procedure) in self-defense, against the Republican insistence that Trump's theft of presidential documents was nothing but eccentric billionaire souvenir collecting, showing that, no, some of these documents were definitely not souvenirs, through media like TMZ.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Abolishing Meaning

"Theseus and the Minotaur", with the Athenian hero unspooling the thread from Princess Ariadne, tile design by Edward Burne-Jones, 1861, via Wikipedia.

OK, so as you probably know or at least won't be surprised to hear, after the end of his time as vice president Joe Biden got a gig—all right, Joe Biden got a sinecure—as a something-or-other professor, I think they call it "professor of practice", meaning not in fact an academic, at the University of Pennsylvania, though in fact not in Philadelphia but D.C., where he maintained an office (officially his own think tank, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement) from mid-2017 until he launched his presidential campaign in late April 2019, but it wasn't until early November 2022 that anybody thought to clean up the office and move his stuff out, and when they did (I'm vague about the "they", but they were working for the White House, not Penn, and included a couple of lawyers) they found a locked closet full of files, inspection of which revealed about 10 documents marked as classified; so they immediately called up the National Archives and Records Administration and made arrangements to have them picked up and taken where they belonged.

It sounds like they shouldn't have been there, but it also sounds like Biden didn't particularly know they were there. Classified documents do, apparently, get misplaced from time to time, as WaPo reports—

Legal experts say that it is not uncommon for some people who have security clearances to mishandle classified documents. But these situations are typically handled administratively, not criminally, because the criteria for prosecuting people who mishandle classified documents include proving that the person deliberately flouted rules for how to secure the materials.

—and it's normally not a very serious situation; one reason Donald Trump is under criminal investigation in the Mar-a-Lago case is that there is tons of evidence that he deliberately flouted the rules. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is one of a number of people who have not understood that:

Saturday, January 7, 2023

And Here's Where the Bodies Are Buried

From Kyle Cheney at Politico:

A proposed subcommittee to investigate “weaponization” of the federal government — a key demand of House conservatives who delivered Speaker Kevin McCarthy the gavel — would be given sweeping investigatory powers that include explicit authority to review “ongoing criminal investigations.”

The language of the proposed “select subcommittee,” which would operate under the Judiciary Committee expected to be chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), also gives the panel power to access any information shared with the House Intelligence Committee. That panel typically receives the highest-level classified intelligence and briefings of any committee in Congress.

That's that "Church Committee". This is how they plan to stop Special Counsel Jack Smith from investigating Perry, Biggs, Gosar, Gaetz, Boebert, and of course Jordan himself. The document, Cheney writes, was last modified at 5:40 PM yesterday.

Emptywheel noticed the significance right away, and MSNBC legal expert Barb McQuade notes that the provisions could not pass constitutional muster in a normal world.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Narratology: What They Want From Kevin


This story apparently emanating from Rupert World (Tucker Carlson via NYPost)

Named after the Senate committee in the mid-1970s examining the abuses of the Cold War intelligence community after a series of revelations in the press ranging from J. Edgar Hoover's efforts to get Dr. King to commit suicide through a series of CIA assassination attempts at various international political figures to Nixon's multi-agency war on the hippies as exposed by Seymour Hersh at the end of December 1973; chaired by Frank Church (D-ID), and the direct answer of today's Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023


Byron Donalds swearing in in 2018, via Wikipedia.

A note or two on that guy, Byron Donalds, to whom the House clowns turned today as their Speaker candidate-of-the-day. It's not clear what they have in mind except for the obvious part, that they like putting up a Black candidate against a Black democratic candidate (Herschel Walker against Raphael Warnock) because this proves they're not racists, but it's possible there's more.

One thing is that he's from Florida, representing Naples, which makes him a member of a contingent of NeverKevers, along with Reps. Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach and Anna Paulina Luna of St. Petersburg, as of yesterday's third ballot and through today's fourth, fifth. and sixth. Another thing is that all three of them have something else in common, as Florida Republicans—close connections with Governor Ron DeSantis. Gaetz was a valuable support to DeSantis—Gaetz and his pal Joel Greenberg—in the 2018 gubernatorial campaign

One former campaign adviser said Gaetz was on every conference call with advance teams “and generally was often just a key voice in directing the campaign what to do.”

“Man, I can’t tell you how much by the end of the election he was the campaign,” said another former DeSantis adviser who worked on the race. “By the time we were in heavy general election mode, DeSantis was not doing anything without Gaetz being in on it.”

and one of the things Gaetz did was to introduce Byron Donalds, who got the job of playing Andrew Gillum in DeSantis's debate preparation, which is not necessarily a small thing.

Another thing Donalds has done, which has got him a bit of a reputation for arrogance, was when he challenged the Trumpiest of the Trumpy Elise Stefanik over the position Stefanik had conquered from Liz Cheney, chair of the Republican House Caucus, even though he was still in his freshman term. He lost, of course, but he got himself noticed.

Donalds also has a truly weird little connection with DeSantis having to do with campaign finance laws, which he did an end run around in an interesting way in 2020, when he was a member of the Florida House of Representatives running for Congress:

In 2019, Donalds formed a state political committee called Friends of Byron Donalds and started raising money. Early in 2020, Donalds resigned as chairman of the committee and three days later filed to run for an open US House seat in southwest Florida.

Around that time, a super PAC called Trusted Conservatives registered with the FEC. When Friends of Byron Donalds closed its doors in June 2020, it sent its remaining reserves, about $107,000, to Trusted Conservatives. For the next three months, Trusted Conservatives spent most of that money on ads supporting Donalds or tearing into his Republican primary challengers. Donalds ultimately won the race by just 777 votes and was elected to Congress that November.

By rights, this should have been illegal on a couple of counts: you're not allowed to transfer money raised for a state election to a federal election, and a candidate isn't allowed to coordinate with the decisions made by a super PAC. But when a watchdog complaint on this went to the Federal Elections Commission, the FEC, helplessly divided 3-3, let it go, and Donalds got away with it; and this apparently made an impression on DeSantis, who himself is engaged in a federal run for the presidency with a gigantic war chest of money raised for the Florida governorship

The Florida governor is shattering national fundraising records as he seeks a second term, attracting gobs of money from Republican donors eyeing DeSantis as a potential presidential candidate in 2024. At the end of May, DeSantis was sitting on $111 million – more money than any candidate has ever needed to win an election in the Sunshine State. More donations come in almost every day.

And scuttlebutt says DeSantis was pretty impressed by Donalds's ingenious trick.

Which doesn't prove anything, obviously, but if you add in that other thing, about the other 2024 presidential candidate who lives in Florida, when he was passing out pardons to allies in 2024, but failed to offer one to Gaetz over the latter's complicated relationship with a number of very young women and a Venmo account and other misbehavior, even though Gaetz asked very politely, then it starts to add up a little, as a move against McCarthy, McCarthy being Trump's chosen candidate (however reluctantly Trump may have chosen him): Gaetz. Donalds, and Luna are organizing a little DeSantis caucus in the House, proposing to devote it to the DeSantis campaign.

Is this what Gaetz is organizing on the Hill? An anti-Trump campaign of the unpardoned (includes NeverKevers Scott Perry, Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Jim Jordan, and I think Chip Roy)? I hope so. As ever, I'm rooting for injuries, but this is a way of understanding why it's so much fun.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Literary Corner: Raucous Caucus

Drawing by Harry Bliss.



Then Boebert even got a chance to deliver a funny:

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Narratology: New on the Mar-a-Lago Documents


Happy New Year!

I really wasn't planning to take on any new cases from the January 6 Committee releases, at least not right away. There's so much to read! And the interview transcripts aren't even searchable, at least this one isn't.  But Mark Meadows doing something funky—trafficking?—with classified documents in the White House was too much to resist, and I had to look. What kind of classified documents? What kind of folks in the private sector? What the hell?

Obviously I had to take a look, and I did find something that may be pretty significant, in regard to an issue we're already officially interested in, and literally nobody knows about it other than probably Liz Cheney and her colleagues on the Committee, who, if I'm getting this right, want us, or Jack Smith, to figure it out without their having to say it out loud. Serious, it looks an answer to some pretty big questions.

It's from the Cassidy Hutchinson testimony, as noted, and it seems to be a conversation about Meadows doing stuff with papers incuding throwing them into the fireplace, specifically things having to do with "the vice president's role on January 6th" and a conversation with Scott Perry, the Pennsylvania congressman at the center of the conspiracy to make Jeffrey Clark the attorney general and IMO the most likely candidate in the House for an indictment, and then it takes a kind of startling turn: