Sunday, July 9, 2017

Inoperative statements

Younger readers may not know about it, but before rightwingers called their own lies alternative facts, they called them inoperative statements. That was back in Watergate days, and it resulted in the departure of a crooked, crazy president in disgrace.

A cautionary tale, one might think.

Anyhow, the press did not expose Watergate in a single story, decorated with attributed statements and buttressed with verifiable documents. That's not the way political corruption stories are exposed.

At the start, the malefactors scream and holler about journalistic propriety and holes in the story. It is a useful, if not ironclad guideline that the louder the screams and hollers, the dirtier the crooks.

This weekend, we came to the point where suspicions start to solidify into allegations. There's still time for Trump fans to abandon ship, but not much. Stick with Whiny Baby Donald and become one of his tools and fools. As my mother used to say, lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

It is significant that Donald the Less the Elephant Slayer, Manafort and Kushner did not volunteer their conspiracy to gather dirt on Clinton but were forced into the guilty admissions by the steady pressure of partial revelations.

What did we know and when did we know it? We know the Trump campaign conspired to use Russian dirty tricks to influence the campaign's outcome -- that's what they have admitted -- and we have known it since July 8.

UPDATE July 10

Runnin' scared


Ruth Marcus asks te right questions. Washington Post commenters add important points:

The multiple choice options at the beginning should have included a 4th option: contact the FBI to report a contact from an agent of a foreign country that is hostile to the U.S. regarding unethical if not illegally obtained information concerning your father's political opponent as a candidate for the office of President of the United States.

But aren't sanctions against Russia somehow connected to adoption?

James Moylan
I am an Aussie lawyer who works as an academic and have spent quite a bit of time researching electoral laws across the western world.
I thought I might comment as many who are adding their voice to these threads don't seem to understand the significance of this story in legal terms.
In the statement released by Trump Jnr. he admits to an intention to meet with a person known to be a foreign national and who might have “information helpful to the campaign” - namely that "the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton".
The reason why Trump Jnr's press release is of significance is because it was so badly written that it actually forces those investigating these matters to investigate further. It is a very very odd document (in legal terms). Either no lawyer looked at the PR or those who did were utterly incompetent.
By making these statements Trump Jnr is forcing those who are investigating these matters to (at the very least) interview him to clarify the precise nature of the encounter and determine his intentions regarding the meeting.
This obligation is triggered simply because it is possible to construe the statements in the press release as being indicative that an offense may have been committed. The physical circumstance which is known to have occurred (a meeting with a foreign national) when coupled with a proscribed intent (a 'mens rea') can constitute a crime. However the press release was so badly worded and inappropriately focused (if it was intended to act as a legal justification) that it left the possibility that Trump Jnr may have been entertaining a proscribed intent at the time of the meeting open.
The Trumps' never cease to amaze.

No. 2 from bobbiji appears to be the most important point.


  1. Harry,

    I read the rightwing blogosphere, and I can assure you they absolutely do not care for any of this.

    You may live in one country called USA, but it is now actually two separate countries, and they rarely speak to each other these days.

  2. I understand that.

    I have been saying (not here but in conversations) for years that the divide in America is not left/right/, conservative/liberal, creditor/debtor or any of the usual cleavages; but between those who have too much to do/those who have nothing to do. That is, the economy has failed the society.

    A fallout from that is that the people who have nothing to do (except overdose on synthetic opiates) have also opted out of reality in a political sense.

    A commenter at the NY Times put it succinctly a few months ago: The political right cares more about the Supreme Court than the Supreme Being. (She was writing in the context of the otherwise seemingly inexplicable support of evangelicals for Trump).

    And the reason for that, of course, is that the right has convinced itself that liberalism is pure evil.

    Skipper and Bret and erp represent the more literate wing of that feeling, but it is entirely emotional and visceral.

    I imagine it was much like this for Russian conservatives/reactionaries after the 1905 revolution, when they turned to Pobedontosov, obscurantism and autocracy.

  3. A commenter at the NY Times put it succinctly a few months ago: The political right cares more about the Supreme Court than the Supreme Being. (She was writing in the context of the otherwise seemingly inexplicable support of evangelicals for Trump).

    Amazing how blind you are to false dichotomy. But you were, after all, a journalist.

  4. Which do you care about more, the color purple, or soup? Does how much you care about one determine how much you can care about the other?

    The commenter at the NYT is too silly to understand that God and the Supreme Court exist in two entirely different realms. Not particularly surprising, given the, on average, extraordinarily low quality of NYT comments. No reason, though, for you to follow so slavishly such obvious shortcomings in basic logic.

  5. That is not what evangelicals believe, as Trump said to the evangelicals last week. Press reports say the crowd went wild.

    In my county, we even had an Institute for Godly Government that ran candidates on a platform of restoring morality to government. Ever watch the 700 Club?

    (It will surprise no one who has been forced to live among Christians when I report that the IGG's candidates were openly and notoriously flagrant violators of the norms they proposed to impose on the rest of us.)

    If you are going to write about religion -- you probably should refrain -- please at least try to be accurate.

  6. Timothy Egan has sharp comments about 'moral quackery.' (A good term, should earn a place in our political lexicon.)

  7. [Harry:] If you are going to write about religion -- you probably should refrain -- please at least try to be accurate.

    You should try not being an idiot, or at least not as much of an idiot as Egan.

    One assumes that God’s plan includes the biblical admonition to treat the bedraggled, the poor, the hungry — “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine” — as you would treat him. Did I miss something when Trump said he was salivating at the chance to take health care away from 22 million Americans and the 87-year-old Robertson merely responded with his trademark chucklehead chuckle?

    A. It is pretty damn cheeky to stand upon the bedraggled, poor, and hungry, whilst being a full-throated advocate for murders of convenience.

    B. Yes, Egan, you did miss something. That Trump never said such a thing, and the NYT can be counted upon to not spend even one syllable explaining the reasoning behind the GOP's health plan. After all, there are so many fake numbers to spew.

    We’ve got an iceberg the size of Delaware breaking off in Antarctica,

    Not "We've got ...", "We have ..." Where did he learn to write?

    Oh, and that is called nature in action, just as it must do, and has done for millions of years.

    I don't have enough time in a day to give this typical piece of NYT Op Ed crap the rubbishing it deserves.

    However, it is very telling you so uncritically swallowed it whole.

  8. Here is what you and Egan so utterly fail to understand. To evangelicals, the judicially imposed holocaust is the premier evil of our age. Trump, flawed vessel that he may be (aren't we all; well, OK, except for progs like you who are always right about everything), offers the potential of ending, or at least limiting, that holocaust.

    It couldn't possibly be more obvious, yet you miss it nonetheless.

    If you are going to write about religion -- you probably should refrain -- please at least try to be accurate.

    This from the guy that not once, but twice, got a simple grant of certiorari completely wrong.

    And has yet to acknowledge it.

    Just the kind of accountability we have come to expect from journalists.

  9. I think religion is the premier evil of human existence, and I have unlimited evidence to back me up.

    Then there is the Constitution. In the United States religious bigots don't get to impose their bigotry on everybody else, although Trump wants to, and the evangelicals cheered him to the rafters.

  10. Harry, in addition to irony meters around the world completely detonating when you call someone a liar, you do the same with "bigots". You are by far the most hateful, bigoted person I have ever known.

    In the United States religious bigots don't get to impose their bigotry on everybody else ...

    Give a detailed example, explain the imposition, and describe why it is an imposition, and how the Constitution bears on the imposition.


  12. Leaving aside the fact that your example is something like 20 years old, I happen to share your discomfort with sectarian displays at secular occasions. Even though it certainly happens often enough in government settings without risking the republic.

    But is that imposing bigotry? Anymore than secularism itself? After all, a blanket ban is itself pretty coercive, no matter how much it happens to conforms with your bigotry.

    And then there is the matter of the proposal being a proposed amendment to the constitution. The barriers are pretty high. If enough people are in favor of it to put it over those barriers, then who the heck is the minority to impose its will on the majority?

  13. That happened to be the first hit on the search. I already mentioned a recent example: Trump and the evangelicals want to impose Christian prayer on all Americans. And they say not being able to is persecution.

  14. Trump and the evangelicals want to impose Christian prayer on all Americans.

    There is no one so blind as those who refuse to see.

    Like I said, ignore how old your example is. You use the word "impose" without any basis. That proposed constitutional amendment you cited allowed prayer, it did not impose. And since you were willing to think of that as an imposition, then I can only conclude you have no idea what the term means.

    Let me help. Warmenism is a religion with real impositions. So is third wave feminism; a fanatical religion to the core, taxpayer funded to spread its malignant nonsense as far as it can. The power of the state brought to bear on businesses that refuse to bow to progressive shibboleths.

    Those are actual impositions, and there are plenty more.

    And you throw a hissy fit when someone proposes a constitutional amendment that stops the government from prohibiting the expression of religious beliefs the government doesn't agree with from the public square.

    You completely fail to see the establishment of religion because you like it, and you couldn't be fussed to understand how that imposes on others.

    But when they decide to ask permission to pray in public, you start foaming at the mouth.

    After all, they won't get that permission unless a very substantial majority of Americans agree.

    You, as a card carrying totalitarian, can't stand that.

  15. Trump told the evangelical convention just last week that he supported government-imposed prayer and they roared approval.

  16. Harry, without a direct quote, your words are worthless.

  17. What's worthless is your endless support of the lying, thieving Greens. You need to stop hanging out with criminals and scoundrels.

  18. Oh, right. You lied again. Got it.

  19. I am debating whether to link. Against: when I do link, you deny the facts; it was widely reported, why should I repeat that?

    For, I'd embarrass a religious bigot, and that's always useful

  20. For, I'd embarrass a religious bigot, and that's always useful

    Then do it. It would waste far fewer pixels than you have slain so far whingeing.