Monday, October 31, 2016

For the people who lie to my father – Political Orphans

Chris Ladd is a fallen away Texas Republican.  He wrote the GOP Lifer blog and developed a strong following.  He was repelled by the white nationalism and religious fundamentalisn that dominate the Republican Party.  When Trump was nominated he called it quits and now blogs as Political Orphans.
I don't think that the GOP has an honorable future. I know that there are rational Republicans like senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snow, governors like Christine Whitman and Charles Baker.  But when you add it up: not even John Boehner and Eric Cantor could survive, and now Trump triumphant I just down't see how there can be a place for rational Republicans other than in the Democratic Party.

There are glass half full and glass half empty people.  There are those who emphasize collectivism and those who emphasize individual freedom.  There is room there for difference.  Soon what terms should Republican orphans enter the Democratic Party?  On condition that racism, xenophobia, anti-gay sentiment, and respect for women's dignity are non-negotiable.

There is no prospect of a politics not heavily influenced, nearly dominated by major financial players (investment banks, high-tech billionaires, etc.).  But there is room for a politics that is closer to the ground and ready to press for reasonable regulation, rather than celebrating silly Reaganesque ideas like government is the problem not the solution.

Anyway..Chris add has written a painful account of his father's ideological developement.  - gwc
For the people who lie to my father – Political Orphans

hannityWorking 12-hour days in the blazing sun doesn’t leave a lot of time for independent reading. What my father knows about the world may be at odds with empirical reality, but his views line up almost perfectly with the opinions of the people who lie to him. The people who lie to my father long ago earned his allegiance, leveraging his biases to turn his political influence to their own interests. They will probably never be punished for what they have stolen from him, but they will always have my special contempt.
To be clear, my father has made his own choices. As Homer Simpson once explained, it takes two to lie: one to lie and the other to listen. In theory, he could have tapped into a very different collection of alignments.
He is not without education. My father has a college degree, though that might not mean what you’d think. He earned it across seven grueling years of plodding part-time study in a small regional state school.
He took classes when he could, without much sense of a degree plan. Apart from an older brother, no one in the family had ever been to college. The goal of his education was cloudy, but terminating his studies early would probably have meant joining his brother in Vietnam. So he stuck with it year by year, class by class, supporting himself with physically demanding, dangerous night work in a metal smelter. He spent very little time on campus and earned the grades he needed to get out with a degree.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

James Comey should resign

Richard Painter is a Republican ethicist and former White House Ethics counsel.  As he explains in a New York Times  Op-ed he has filed a citizen complaint alleging that FBI director James Comey has violated the Hatch Act prohibition against electoral work by federal employees.  Painter is not someone who would do that casually.
Like many I admired James Comey for his principled stand when the Bush Administration tried to get an ailing A.G. John Ashcroft to sign off on their torture policy.  Therefore I have been sympathetic and supportive of him as a man of principle.  Such loyalty however can lead to downplaying the negative.  That is what happened here:  Back in July  James Comey seized the spotlight, going on TV to denounce Hillary Clinton as "extremely careless".  He did that without clearing or even informing the Attorney General.  He could be given something of a pass at that moment.   Fresh off the 20 minute chat with Bill on a plane- she had affirmed that she would follow the FBI's recommendation regarding Hillary's email investigation.  But that writ merely authorized him to announce that the FBI had decided not to recommend prosecution.  It did not call for him to stage a made-to-order video attack advertisement.  From that moment on he violated the Hatch Act as Painter's Op-ed suggests.  His release of a letter to Congress that prompts insinuation and speculation 11 days before the election has caused me to go back and reassess.  My conclusion:  James Comey does not recognize the necessity of civilian control.  He should resign his post forthwith.  - GWC
Did Comey abuse his power?
Richard W. Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, was the chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007
It is not clear whether Mr. Comey personally wanted to influence the outcome of the election, although his letter — which cast suspicion on Mrs. Clinton without revealing specifics — was concerning. Also concerning is the fact that Mr. Comey has already made highly unusual public statements expressing his personal opinion about Mrs. Clinton’s actions, calling her handling of classified information “extremely careless,” when he announced this summer that the F.B.I. was concluding its investigation of her email without filing any charges.

But an official doesn’t need to have a specific intent — or desire — to influence an election to be in violation of the Hatch Act or government ethics rules. The rules are violated if it is obvious that the official’s actions could influence the election, there is no other good reason for taking those actions, and the official is acting under pressure from persons who obviously do want to influence the election.

Painter concludes: This is no trivial matter. We cannot allow F.B.I. or Justice Department officials to unnecessarily publicize pending investigations concerning candidates of either party while an election is underway. That is an abuse of power. Allowing such a precedent to stand will invite more, and even worse, abuses of power in the future.

Comey is damaging democracy say 2 former Deputy Attorneys General

Comey is damaging our democracy //Two former Deputy AG's say in WaPo Op-ed
Jamie Gorelick served as deputy attorney general from 1994 to 1997 and is a supporter of Hillary Clinton. Larry Thompson served as deputy attorney general from 2001 to 2003 and signed a letter from a group of former Justice Department officials in Republican administrations calling for Donald Trump’s defeat.
The Justice Department has a proud history of enforcing the federal criminal law without fear or favor, and especially without regard to politics. It operates under long-standing and well-established traditions limiting disclosure of ongoing investigations to the public and even to Congress, especially in a way that might be seen as influencing an election. These traditions protect the integrity of the department and the public’s confidence in its mission to take care that the laws are faithfully and impartially executed. They reflect an institutional balancing of interests, delaying disclosure and public knowledge to avoid misuse of prosecutorial power by creating unfair innuendo to which an accused party cannot properly respond.
Decades ago, the department decided that in the 60-day period before an election, the balance should be struck against even returning indictments involving individuals running for office, as well as against the disclosure of any investigative steps. The reasoning was that, however important it might be for Justice to do its job, and however important it might be for the public to know what Justice knows, because such allegations could not be adjudicated, such actions or disclosures risked undermining the political process. A memorandum reflecting this choice has been issued every four years by multiple attorneys general for a very long time, including in 2016.
When they take their vows and assume office, senior officials in the Justice Department and the FBI become part of these traditions, with an obligation to preserve, protect and defend them. They enjoy a credibility established by generations of honorable public servants, and they owe a solemn obligation to maintain that credibility. They are not to arrogate to themselves the choices made by the Justice Department and honored over the years.
As part of that obligation, they must recognize that the department is an institution, not a person. As its temporary custodians, they must neither seek the spotlight for their own advancement nor avoid accountability for the hard decisions they inevitably face. Justice allows neither for self-aggrandizing crusaders on high horses nor for passive bureaucrats wielding rubber stamps from the shadows. It demands both humility and responsibility.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

New York City Bar: Prosecutors’ Duty to Disclose Held Broader Than Brady Standard | Legal Ethics in Motion

New York City Bar: Prosecutors’ Duty to Disclose Held Broader Than Brady Standard | Legal Ethics in Motion


According to a recent opinion from the New York City Bar’s Ethics Committee, a prosecutor’s ethical obligation to disclose evidence favorable to a defendant is broader than the constitutional minimums imposed by the Supreme Court in Brady v. Maryland.

Under the holding in Brady, prosecutors are only required to provide the defense with exculpatory evidence that is “material either to guilt or to punishment.” The materiality standard in Brady has been the subject of great criticism, prompting a divide on the issue of whether the lawyer conduct rule governing prosecutors’ disclosure contradicts federal constitutional standards.

New York City Bar’s Ethics Committee concluded that New York Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8(b)requires a prosecutor to turn over to the defense any exculpatory evidence regardless of whether the prosecutor believes it is “material.” Opinion 2016-3 reaffirms the position taken by the ABA in 2009, which advised that the ethical obligations imposed by Rule 3.8 are more demanding than the standard in Brady, because Rule 3.8 requires disclosure of any evidence or information favorable to the defense regardless of the prosecutor’s assessment of the impact on a trial’s outcome. The New York opinion also notes that under Rule 3.8 favorable information must be provided to the defense “as soon as reasonably practicable,”regardless of the timing requirements of other substantive law.

The New York City opinion can be read here.



by Prof. Lisa Manheim

Just two days ago, this election cycle gave birth to (yet another) lawsuit. It’s an important one. And like so much in election law, it requires a dive into history.
In 1981, Republican organizations enlisted the help of supporters, including off-duty police officers, to patrol urban areas in New Jersey. The purpose of these efforts, according to critics, was to intimidate prospective voters. Members of the so-called “National Ballot Security Task Force” wore official-looking armbands, posted large “WARNING” signs directed at voters (which included the language I’ve used as the subject header for this post), and in some cases openly displayed firearms. Their activities prompted a lawsuit. To settle the claims, the Republican National Committee (RNC) entered into a consent decree (still in effect) whereby it agreed to, among other things, refrain from “undertaking any ballot security activities . . . where the racial or ethnic composition of such districts is a factor in the decision to conduct . . . such activities . . . and where a purpose or significant effect of such activities is to deter qualified voters from voting.”
After the 1986 elections in Louisiana, Republicans facilitated another voter-challenge program. As revealed in discovery, one Republican director predicted that the effort would “eliminate at least 60,000–80,000 folks from the rolls” and “[i]f it’s a close race . . . this could keep the black vote down considerably.” This led to a modification of the consent decree, which included the addition of a preclearance provision. More specifically, the decree was altered to prohibit the RNC from engaging in any “ballot security activities” unless it first received permission from a court. “Ballot security activities” were defined to include “any program aimed at combating voter fraud by preventing potential voters from . . . casting a ballot.”
In 1990, the court found that the RNC had violated the consent decree by In 1990, the court found that the RNC had violated the consent decree (based on a failure adequately to educate state parties, in matters related to alleged attempts to intimidate voters in North Carolina). In 2009, the court again modified the consent decree. Among the 2009 changes was an expiration date: absent any further violation, the decree would terminate on December 1, 2017. All of which brings us to today..... KEEP READING

'I was left speechless': Bob Dylan breaks two-week silence over Nobel prize | Music | The Guardian

Image result for bob dylan albums
'I was left speechless': Bob Dylan breaks two-week silence over Nobel prize | Music | The Guardian
“There’s a certain intensity in writing a song,” he added. “You have to keep in mind why you are writing it and for who and what for.”
The singer also tied songwriting to his interests in painting and sculpting, though he recognized that not all of his ambitions would achieve the same success as his music.“I’d like to drive a race car on the Indianapolis track. I’d like to kick a field goal in an NFL football game. I’d like to be able to hit a hundred-mile-an-hour baseball. But you have to know your place.” he said. “There might be some things that are beyond your talents.
“Everything worth doing takes time. You have to write a hundred bad songs before you write one good one. And you have to sacrifice a lot of things that you might not be prepared for. Like it or not, you are in this alone and have to follow your own star.”

Friday, October 28, 2016

Rogue FBI Director Takes Parting Shot at Hillary Clinton | The Guardian

Update 2: Jane Mayer/New Yorker reporter says that Comey defied Attorney General Lynch and established policy to comment publicly on an investigation so close to an election.
Update: Josh Marshall has a more forgiving take.  What he calls unprecedented I call rogue.

James Comey was elevated to FBI Director because he blocked  a Bush White House effort to get A.G. John Ashcroft to sign off on torture.  Ashcroft was in the hospital and sedated.  But a few months ago Comey went rogue: going live on TV to announce his findings on the Hillary Clinton email server investigation.  He did not inform or clear this dramatic step with Loretta Lynch, who as Attorney General is his boss.  In the speech he called Clinton "extremely reckless".  A made to order TV attack advertisement, it was unappreciated by most Republicans who were greedy and wanted an indictment.

Now, 11 days before the election, Comey has taken a parting shot - announcing spontaneously in a letter to the Senate - that he is investigating newly discovered emails the relevance of which is not yet known.  Comey is certainly on his way out: Trump has denounced him for failure to indict Clinton and Hillary Clinton can hardly be expected to keep him on as Director.  To announce the beginning of a confidential investigation is unprecedented.  Motivation unknowable but it will delight Donald Trump and the GOP attack machine.

The race will tighten because of that in part; and because Trump - no longer under debate pressure - is less likely to go into his often seen meltdown mode.  And there is among many voters a wish to think the best of Trump as there is a bent to think ill of Hillary Clinton.  It is worth noting here that no classified information was disclosed, little was transmitted, that which was transmitted was merely marked [C] in the text, not in capital letters at the top saying CONFIDENTIAL OR TOP SECRET, etc. - gwc

Newly discovered Hillary Clinton emails under investigation by FBI | US news | The Guardian
The FBI is investigating newly-discovered emails sent by Hillary Clinton via a personal server, its director has announced.

The FBI had announced in July that its investigation into the Democratic presidential candidate’s private email server had concluded with a recommendation of no criminal charges in the matter, although James Comey, the FBI’s director, criticised Clinton as “careless”.
But in a letter sent to members of Congress on Friday, Comey said new emails had been discovered in an “unrelated” case.
“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” Comey wrote. “I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”

Environment, Law, and History: Environmental history in oral arguments

Environment, Law, and History: Environmental history in oral arguments
Brian Tomasovic recently posted the abstract for his article "Soundscape History and Environmental Law in the Supreme Court", published last year in Environmental Law. The abstract:
Today’s technology unleashes new, digitized information resources with immense scale and speed. This Article examines one such resource — the archive of audio recorded proceedings of the United States Supreme Court — appraising, for the first time, its value to those who study and practice environmental law. From hundreds of hours of audio across six decades, a history of environmental litigation sounds forth, imparting rich lessons on advocacy, judicial reasoning, and the role of the Court in environmental law’s development. The Article organizes itself in three major parts, furnishing insights on: oral advocacy in the environmental docket; the voices from the bench; and the audience for prospective engagement with any selection or subset of recordings. Serving partly as a listener’s guide, the Article defines the reach of environmental litigation in the audio archive and demonstrates its unique value as a tool for learning and the professional betterment of environmental law scholars and practitioners.

Voter suppression: Democratic National Committee moves to block Republican National Committee efforts

Roger Stone, a key pro-Trump operative got his start as a Nixon dirty trickster. He is up to new tricks.  'Vote for Hillary the new way, text 8888', he tweeted. That was the first exhibit in a motion by the Democratic National Committee which submitted a proposed Order to Show Cause. The DNC seeks an order holding the Republican National Committee in contempt of court and
(b) prohibiting Defendant RNC from allocating any money to fund, reimburse expenses for, or provide support for Donald J. Trump and/or his campaign’s voter intimidation program or his supporters’ plans to “watch” “certain sections” and “other communities”;
(c) directing Defendant RNC to seek reimbursement from the Trump campaign and all state political organizations for any funds previously allocated to fund any prohibited “ballot security” measures, including staff salaries, overhead expenses, training costs and expenses, digital resource expenditures, or any other resources used in any way to promote or facilitate the Trump campaign or state political organization “ballot security” or “integrity” endeavors;
(d) ordering Defendant RNC to distribute the Consent Decree and the relief awarded via this action to every RNC field office with instructions that no person employed by or affiliated with the RNC shall participate in any “ballot security” measures; 

In its brief the DNC seeks to extend for another eight years a 1982 consent decree later modified, extended and uphel in 2010 by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.  Originally issued by the lae federal judge Dickinson Debevoise it bars the Republican Bational Committee from doing anything that has the purpose or effect of suppressing voter turnout.  Further, the RNC is accused of violating its duty to obtain pre-clearance.  The DNC brief asserts that  "The 2009 Consent Decree provides that “[t]he RNC shall be required to notify the DNC and this Court of any proposed ballot security measures at least 10 days before instituting such measures so that this Court may determine their legality and whether they comply with the other terms of the Consent Decree.”"

The RNC has not yet filed answering papers.  A key issue is whether the Tump campaign is an agent of the RNC - or vice versa. - gwc

J&J, Talc Co. Hit With $70M Baby Powder Cancer Verdict - Law360

J&J, Talc Co. Hit With $70M Baby Powder Cancer Verdict - Law360

Law360, Los Angeles (October 27, 2016, 6:54 PM EDT) -- A Missouri jury slammed Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier with a $70 million verdict late Thursday in a lawsuit filed by a woman who developed ovarian cancer after using J&J's baby powder on her genitals, the third massive verdict in that state's talc litigation.

The verdict is among the highest awarded in cases against J&J over the alleged link between talc and ovarian cancer. (AP)
Jurors in St. Louis found that plaintiff Deborah Giannecchini is owed $575,000 in economic damages and $2 million in non-economic compensatory damages. In addition, they said that J&J should pay $65 million in punitive damages, while talc supplier Imerys Talc America Inc. should pay $2.5 million.

The verdict falls far short of what Giannecchini had asked for -- more than $285 million total -- but is among the highest awarded in cases against J&J over the alleged link between talc and ovarian cancer. Another Missouri state jury awarded a plaintiff $72 million to another woman with the disease.

Shortly after the verdict was read, J&J announced it would mount an appeal.

During closing arguments earlier in the day, Giannecchini's attorney R. Allen Smith Jr. of The Smith Law Firm told jurors that the company callously joked about the possible cancer link and falsified medical records to hide it. He said the massive verdict is necessary to force "the largest corporation in the world" to change its ways, and that the company has rigged regulatory agencies in their favor.

"Make them stop," Smith said. "Stop this madness. Stop this machine. If y'all don't do it, nobody else will do it."

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

DNC Launches Broad Legal Attack On RNC Over Trump's 'Voter Fraud' Crusade

The Democratic National Committee has moved to enforce an order entered 35 years ago when the Republican National Committee created a so-called Ballot Security Task Force - which appeared first in Newark, NJ in the gubernatorial election. Prof. Rick Hasen recently drew attention to a longstanding consent order that restrains the RNC

The conservative Public Interest Legal Foundation recently issued a report titled `Alien Invasion in Virginia’.  But their investigation revealed only that “31 non-citizens had cast a total of 186 votes between 2005 and 2015”.  Recently Donald Trump has been urging his supporters to go to other polling places and watch out for fraud.  Whether organized or spontaneous such actions are dangerous to democracy.  We have an adequate system of bi-partisan poll watchers.

It has long been an article of faith for some that the Democratic Party engages in systematic surreptitious voter fraud.  "Vote early and often", "voting from the graveyard", "late reporting Chicago districts"  are old memes which may have had, at some point, a basis in fact.  The only truly systematic vote rigging was, of course, in the south where Black people were in fact denied the vote until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the Twenty-fourth amendment to the Constitution barring poll taxes effectively established voting rights for all citizens.

The voter fraud theme has often been a rallying cry for Republicans . It is the groundless basis for the many state voter ID laws making it harder for poor and minority citizens to vote.  Thirty five years ago during our gubernatorial election the Republican National Committee developed voter challenge lists and  organized a "National Ballot Security Task Force".  In Newark local firebrand Anthony Imperiale recruited off duty sheriff’ and police officers who wore identifying arm bands as they patrolled heavily minority voting places, where they had placed posters warning against voting fraud.
The Democratic National Committee filed suit against the Republican National Committee.  The late Federal District Judge Dickinson Debevoise issued a nationwide "consent decree" barring voter intimidation.  He retained jurisdiction and handled subsequent proceedings, modifying the order.  The  Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the order and its continuing validity in 2010. In today’s bitter election atmosphere Donald Trump's repeated calls to his supporters to be on the lookout for voter fraud presents a risk far greater than did the RNC’s 1981 efforts.

DNC Launches Broad Legal Attack On RNC Over Trump's 'Voter Fraud' Crusade// Talking Points Memo


In a dramatic escalation of a long legal battle between the national Democratic and Republican parties – and in what is arguably a fitting culmination to the year of Donald Trump – the Democratic National Committee is asking a federal court to hold the Republican National Committee in contempt of court for allegedly violating a decades-old consent decree limiting so-called "ballot security" activities at poll places.

The Democrats' filing Wednesday, among other things, ask that the consent decree -- which is set to expire Dec. 17 -- be extended for another eight years. The DNC is also asking the court to block any coordination between Trump and the RNC as it relates to Election Day poll monitoring activities that many fear will amount to voter intimidation.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Slandering Heroes - China's Supreme People's Court Cites Precedents

Image result for lei feng
Reputation and rights of personhood get a lot of attention in China.  Heresy and blasphemy could land you at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition. Since   no gods are recognized in China today heroes stand in their stead.  But mockery of heroes has consequences. 

One so revered is Lei Feng -  a young do-gooder soldier in the People's Liberation Army who died in 1962.  Lei has become a mythic character,.  His generosity and diligence on behalf of others is held up as a model for all but especially for youth.  `Live like Lei Feng' is a message all Chinese Children learn.  Lei Feng Day is celebrated every year.  And everyone knows the catchy `live like Lei Feng' song. VIDEO
Five Heroes On Langya Mountain
Five Heroes of Mt. Langya
Image result for lei feng
Lei Feng
The indispensable Susan Finder has drawn my attention to a series of civil cases (see China Law Translate)- recently highlighted for didactic purposes by the Supreme Peoples Court.  It is captioned  "人民法院依法保护 狼牙山五壮士”等英雄人物人格权益典型案例   The People's Court, according to law protects  the Five Heroes of Mount Langya, etc. - Established cases involving  heroic persons' reputational rights and interests."  The cases illustrate the civil consequences of defaming persons of high reputation. 

But the consequences may be more than civil liability.  Beijing attorney Pu Zhiqiang since the Tian An Men 1989 protests has defended dissenters and provoked controversy on "sensitive" matters.  He was charged and convicted last year of "picking quarrels" via his posts on WeiBo - a public internet platform like Google + widely used in China. But according to China Real Time Report the charges included Pu's arrest for maligning the revered Lei Feng. 

Below is a rough "crowd-sourced"  translation of Pu's provocative post .
2、2013.6.8日12:03:17,账号9  “六十年来最大谎言之一是雷锋,他骗了我二十年!他主动迎合推手,日记都集体创作。每月七八块津贴能成百块捐,若非腐败便是只能是编,那年月饿死三千多万人,我六五年的人只照过一次相,他半夜不睡装逼闹鬼,躺被窝打手电学毛选,都有人照相!身后有数千张照片!北京公安真抓推手,去抓雷锋的推手吧。”
2) June 8, 2013: One of the biggest lies of the last 60 years is Lei Feng. He hoodwinked me for two decades, actively pandering to his promoters, his diaries a collective creation. A monthly allowance of seven or eight yuan and he’s making 100-yuan donations – either that’s fiction or there’s corruption involved. Back then 30 million died from starvation, people my age might have taken a single photograph, and yet when he’s up late at night studying Mao with a flashlight, there are people taking pictures! He left thousands of photos behind! Beijing police, if you want to arrest hidden forces, go arrest the hidden forces behind Lei Feng.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

RNC Warns Against Poll Watching, Citing Decades-Old Court Decree

RNC Warns Against Poll Watching, Citing Decades-Old Court Decree
Fearful that a decades-old court order blocking the Republican Party from engaging in certain Election Day activities could be extended for many more years, the RNC is warning its members not to engage in poll watching or any other so-called "ballot security" measures.
The RNC's concerns are heightened because of the vigilante poll watching GOP nominee Donald Trump has been calling for from the stump.
A lawyer for the Republican National Committee sent a letter on the issue Wednesday to RNC members, the Wall Street Journal reported. The letter cites a 1982 consent decree the RNC agreed to after Democrats sued it for activities at polling places that they said were aimed at suppressing the minority vote.
The letter, sent to members from RNC general counsel John Ryder, said that he wanted “remind you of the restrictions placed on the RNC by the consent decree,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Donald Trump Is on a Presidential Death March We’ve Never Seen Before

"When a man whose entire candidacy and public standing is predicated on the myth that he is a winner has to face in every single moment a reminder that he is going to face one of the biggest, most humiliating losses in presidential history on the biggest stage imaginable, you better believe he will lash out. We cannot predict exactly the manner it will play out, but we have seen the embers already and they are ugly."

Donald Trump Is on a Presidential Death March We’ve Never Seen Before

by Tim Miller (former communications director for Jeb Bush)

Donald Trump is going to lose this election. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is going to lose this election. Even if they would never admit it, they know Donald Trump will never be president. Trump and Conway are on the political death march. (This, to be clear for the Trump fans, is a political metaphor, not an actual death wish.)
This is the part of a losing campaign that exposes the true character of all those involved. So it should come as no shock that Donald Trump and his staff are failing this test in the most shameful and divisive manner imaginable.
Trump knows he’s on a death march, which is why he has reverted to his purest id over the past few days. Belittling women whom he is alleged to have sexually assaulted, concocting racist conspiracy theories about the global elites and minority communities rigging the election, and profferingbombastic lies about his opponent that he knows cable news can’t help but cover.
The death march is why Conway has begun to resurrect a time-honored practice: duplicitous political operatives throwing their boss under the bus to try to save face. In an attempt to preserve a lucrative fee on the public speaking circuit after the campaign, Conway has sent a series of tweets over the past week trying to position herself as both in on the joke with Saturday Night Live and the conscience on Trump’s shoulder trying to get him to behave. As a fellow anti-Trump conservative pointed out, Conway is officially playing the role of “punch clock villain.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Strongman in Waiting // Josh Marshall // TPM

Strongman in Waiting
by Josh Marshall //Talking Points Memo

...More important however were the statements Clinton and Chris Wallace provoked. The biggest one of course was his repeated refusal to accept the result of a democratic election. When Wallace first asked he said: "I will look at it at the time." When Wallace pressed him again he said: "I'll keep you in suspense, okay."
That kind of 'suspense" is precisely what makes democratic polities collapse. Vicious cycles of civic violence and violation of democratic norms have the pernicious of distorting and transforming the behavior of those who actually do believe in democratic institutions. They create a setting in which it becomes rational to take steps that undermine them further. If you really don't know if your opponent will accept the result of the election, you start taking steps to guard against what happens if he doesn't. You take steps to protect yourself, your political future, maybe your safety and property. This is the death spiral of democracies.
It is hard to weigh in the balance Trump's violations of our democratic order but this was a considerably greater violation than the pledge to jail Clinton if he becomes president, though that was as former Attorney General Michael Mukasey accurately put it, "a watershed." Yet they are both parts of the same civic cancer: politics through raw power and violence, as opposed to a combat of political forces, often unruly, mediated by the rule of law and respect for democratic institutions. The universal acceptance of those core rules allows everything that is vital in politics take to place. It's really that bad.