In Order to Form a More Perfect Union

Last year when I wrote a post for the Fourth of July holiday I shared the full text of the Declaration of Independence.

Since that post our country slid increasingly backwards toward an autocratic monarchy, losing sight of the reasons why this nation’s founders threw off a long train of abuses and usurpations, dissolving the American colonies’ relationship with Britain.

Today in our streets fought for and paved by the American people, a belligerent, petty and abusive tyrant who obtained and holds his office by questionable means will have the military parade he has envied other autocrats.

Across town his minions in the so-called Department of Justice will continue to chip away at the Constitution in search of some means to deny to persons within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws in the execution of the 2020 U.S. Census.

And persons of color who’ve fled to the U.S. seeking asylum from violence will continue to suffer inhumane treatment at the hands of federal employees who swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution including the same equal protection spelled out in the Fourteenth Amendment.

(Do take note there have been no raids by ICE ejecting white birth tourists like the Russians in Florida. No Congressional caucuses will find these birth parents in American concentration camps.)

Noting the grim slide we should recall this holiday has always been aspirational. It may mark the day when the republic’s birth began but this nation has always been in a state of becoming.

We have yet to form a perfect union; we can only work toward perfecting it.

To this end it’s worth revisiting this year a historic address by Frederick Douglass delivered on July 5, 1852 — nine years before the Civil War began, when the country was 76 years old. He did not stint when reminding his audience the holiday observed meant little to slaves:

… What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival. …

Our shouts of patriotic fervor ring hollow today when one thinks of the undenounced tyrant occupying our White House making a mockery of this nation of laws through his numerous frauds and manifold obstructions while willfully, shamelessly persecuting helpless children and their families, and ignoring the thousands of American deaths he has caused through his bad faith execution of office. Revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, indeed.

As grim as things are today, it cannot be more so than it was for Douglass who could not know as he spoke that it would be another thirteen years before slaves would be emancipated, or that it would be another 113 years before the Voting Rights Act would pass Congress, to secure the right to vote for persons of color.

Or that we would still be fighting voter suppression of minority voters 167 years later even this week as the Supreme Court failed to protect minority voters’ rights and the same petty tyrant rejects his oath to protect and defend the Constitution including its Census of all persons.

Somehow Douglass, an escaped slave himself, remained optimistic:

… Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation, which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. “The arm of the Lord is not shortened,” and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. …

What lies ahead is not as dark and unknown as that which lay before Douglass in July 1852. We have seen better if not perfect. It can be had again and improved upon with a re-dedication to the principles the founders laid out in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution.

We must recall our nation’s identity began with a shared belief that we are all created equal, that we are endowed with certain unalienable Rights including Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Seeking to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, we instituted a government to secure our inalienable rights and these common interests.

We can and will check this government of and by the people when it fails us just as we checked a monarch in 1776, just as we’ve checked executives and other elected office holders who have failed their oaths. We have continually refreshed our representatives and justices to the same end.

As we have for 243 years we still have work to do. Ted Kennedy spoke of the ongoing nature of this nation’s mission when he said, “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

Recommitting to the American dream, I leave off with hope that we can and will continue to pursue a more perfect union.

Wishing you and yours a safe Fourth of July. Consider this an open thread.

242 replies
  1. I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

    The problem we face is that the group that is in power has no intention of playing by the rules to get what it wants. Witness the failure of Trump to abide by the Supreme Court’s census ruling.

    Witness Mitch McConnell’s refusal to bring up Merrick Garland’s nomination for a vote while indicating that he will bring up Trump’s nominee for a vote next year should there be a vacancy on the Supreme Court in 2020.

    Witness the actions (and inactions) of Clarence Thomas, such as his dissent in the census case, where he attacks the District Court Judge’s integrity, and such as his prior failure to file proper financial disclosure forms until his failure became front page news.

    How do you prevail against such a group without destroying the very thing that you are fighting to preserve? That is the challenge we face today.

    • Rayne says:

      What are we preserving? What’s there to destroy when what’s been constructed is illegitimate, unlawful, and deliberately toxic to those not in power? There’s a reason the founders didn’t recreate the British monarchy or allow King George to continue to act as sovereign but on a limited basis. They excised what didn’t work and started over.

      I’m not advocating an overthrow; this is not sedition. But when the very Constitution is not recognized in the establishment of representation it’s time for the people to resist until representation meets the Constitution.

      Gerrymandering in particular is a structure which has ill served the people; it’s up to the people to change the method of apportionment. Michigan did so at state level by a grassroots-driven ballot initiative, passing an amendment to its state constitution requiring creation of an independent redistricting commission composed of four Democrats, four Republicans and five independent voters. It’s a vast improvement over the previous method by which the political majority in the state House and Senate performed redistricting. Not every state can do this — but this is the work to be done, fix each state’s laws so that redistricting is performed by a representative group of its citizens rather than a single political party.

      No destruction involved save for that which itself is destructive.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        A lesson Democrats need to take to heart: All things in moderation, including moderation.

    • Americana says:

      I think Rep. Justin Amash intends to prevail against whatever it is in the GOP that’s trying to destroy this country’s civic integrity. Amash isn’t going to allow the GOP to keep asserting Trump is innocent of wrongdoing. It’s going to be interesting watching what a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus does now that he understands the lengths to which his former fellow Republicans will go to wield power.

        • Americana says:

          The fact his parents made the choice to emigrate from Palestine when they did indicates significant things about them. The fact Amash was the first Republican to denounce Trump and call for impeachment and he has now left the GOP says significant things about Justin Amash.

        • bmaz says:

          You do not have the slightest clue about Amash’s parents or their reasoning. You are just blowing shit out of your ass once again. This kind of nonsense is why you are in auto mod, and will continue to be.

      • P J Evans says:

        What took him so long? He’s been fine with it until now, and he helped make it this bad.

        • Americana says:

          Yes, it was unforgivable Amash helped the House Freedom Caucus cause the bottlenecks that it did. But based on what he wrote, it seems to me he’s recognizing some of the responsibility for that lies w/his HFC. All I’m saying is I’ll be interested in seeing how he operates from here on out. I’ll also be fascinated to see how or if he continues to work for Trump’s impeachment which he certainly should do if he’s serious about restoration of some sort of normalcy to our three co-equal branches of government.

        • Wm. Boyce says:

          One could look at the example of the late Rep. Walter Jones as another rare example of a Repub who wakes up to the wrongful nature of U.S. foreign policy. The man was openly against our wars after his self-realization and guilt over the death of U.S. service men and women.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Thank you and Happy Fourth.

    The wiki entry for Ted Kennedy’s speech is quite good. He would know about hopes and dreams, and recovering from their loss. Here is a site for the full text (and audio) of his famous speech, regarded as his and one of American rhetoric’s best. He delivered it in NYC at the DNC, 12 August 1980. The location and event are relevant, but the speech is timeless. Thanks, again.


    • Rayne says:

      When one reads Kennedy’s speech it becomes more obvious with a very few time-specific references that the Democratic Party has and continues to fight for the same values it has espoused for the last 50 years. Makes Justin Amash’s blame of toxic partisanship look bad when Democrats are simply fighting collectively for economic justice in a fair and lasting prosperity for all.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Ted Kennedy was scathing about the lies and priorities of Reagan’s Republicans. Forty years later, they remain the lies of Trump’s Republicans. He rightly turned this one on its head: “The demand of our people in 1980 is not for smaller government or bigger government but for better government.”

      Four decades later, it hurts to see how much remains undone. The Equal Rights Amendment Kennedy was buoyant about has not passed. It has been discarded. So has been much of the policy to end racial discrimination. Instead, Republicans invent new forms of it.

      GOP tax cut fever is still with us, as is the need for the national health insurance that Kennedy advocated: “I say again, as I have before, if health insurance is good enough for the President, the Vice President, the Congress of the United States, then it’s good enough for you and every family in America.”

      The jobs he talked about saving are gone, but not the people who wanted and filled them: Detroit autoworkers, Youngstown steel workers, New England tech companies, farm and marine laborers, office workers and middle managers. But like the Princess phone and the candlestick telephone before it, the changes are superficial. The needs of the people who live and want to live in America are not.

      In response to Republican claims that – all evidence to the contrary – they were the party of the common man and woman, Kennedy quoted FDR:

      “Most Republican leaders have bitterly fought and blocked the forward surge of average men and women in their pursuit of happiness. Let us not be deluded that overnight those leaders have suddenly become the friends of average men and women.”

      The rhythm and power of Teddy’s closing sentence is memorable. So is his optimism. As is this demand, borrowed from Martin Luther King Jr, that he made of all of us: “We cannot have a fair prosperity in isolation from a fair society.”

      • Rayne says:

        “The Equal Rights Amendment Kennedy was buoyant about has not passed. It has been discarded.”

        No, it hasn’t. It merely requires adequate political will to realize its ratification. Timelines are arbitrary when instituted by men to limit inalienable rights all persons including women possess.

        The ERA is part of the work we must continue.

        • Bri2k says:

          “The ERA is part of the work we must continue.”

          I’m with her!

          Thank you for a fantastic, inspirational post on Independence Day, Rayne. You always hit it out of the park!

  3. Democritus says:

    Happy Fourth to all the patriots here who fight for our Union to be what it can become at its best, and for continuing to press for more freedom and equity!

    I will be boycotting all Trumps Fourth activities as he, who attacked a gold star family, tries to steal the valor that Cpt Bone Spurs never earned.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Keeping things in the family, this excerpt from Teddy’s brother John’s inaugural address in 1961 seems appropriate on Independence Day:

    “We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”


    Coming down from that rhetorical height, we have Donald Trump, who is more prone to say, “Nice presidency you got there, shame if anything happened to it.”

    • LeeNLP says:

      It may be just me, but I somehow doubt T. really has bone spurs. I suspect they are as fictional as his billions of dollars.

      I’d love to see an x-ray…

  5. Leonard Grossman says:

    Today would have been my father’s 129th birthday. Growing up I thought the fireworks were for him. So the day has always been special. But this 4th is the most difficult I recall. He began his legal career representing Suffragettes in Georgia in 1913, joining their march on Washington. The principles this country was founded on and he believed in are under rare attack. Thank you Rayne for your your aspirational message. I needed that.

  6. Wm. Boyce says:

    “And persons of color who’ve fled to the U.S. seeking asylum from violence will continue to suffer inhumane treatment at the hands of federal employees who swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution including the same equal protection spelled out in the Fourteenth Amendment.

    (Do take note there have been no raids by ICE ejecting white birth tourists like the Russians in Florida. No Congressional caucuses will find these birth parents in American concentration camps.)”

    Well said.

    Today’s NY Times has a column by a clueless woman who emigrated here from the Soviet Union. In it, she extols our country and the pull quote is: “I wonder whether my liberal neighbors know how fortunate we are.”

    Evidently she doesn’t follow what’s happening in this country very closely, whilst lecturing the liberal neighbors: “They never lost family members to government work camps.” How about whole freakin’ immigrant families in government concentration camps, lady?

    We are informed at the end of the article that she’s “…working on a book about the suburban mom’s guide to the Tao.”

    A nation of idiots.

    • Rayne says:

      My great-grandfather couldn’t immigrate to the U.S., stopped at Hawaii because of the Chinese Exclusion Act. I worry my father’s citizenship will be questioned because he was born in a territory — the same city where Obama was born. And we know how his citizenship was questioned.

      Fuck that clueless Kanzer and her white privilege, probably munching away today on produce harvested by undocumented and invisible brown people paid next to nothing for back-breaking labor in our modern, virtual corporate-owned ‘work camps’. She clearly has no idea how fortunate she is.

      • Wm. Boyce says:

        Yes, I’m always struck by the stupidity of those people who hate immigrants. More than one state’s economy would collapse without the back-breaking labor they provide. They are also the biggest patriots I’ve met; real ones, not flag-waving native-born fools.

        • Rayne says:

          Kanzer is a white immigrant from the former Soviet Union. She thinks her white privileged experience is uniform to all Americans and all of us should be so very grateful.

          Her op-ed comes off more like old school Soviet propaganda when women, persons of color, non-English speakers, LGBTQ and disabled persons of this country are unable to reasonably expected equal protection under the law.

      • P J Evans says:

        I worry about my nephew, who’s from Africa and not even close to white. (He’s been in the US for at least 25 years, and he still has cops keeping an eye on him when he’s on the streets in the university city where he’s lived for at least 25 years.)

        • P J Evans says:

          Probably – he was a teenager when he was brought here. (He’s been studying to become a respiratory-therapy technician. Four-hour commute, because all the housing closer to the school is full of fire refugees. As for who contributes more to this country…it ain’t Kanzer.)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A wannabe Ayn Rand.

      La Jolla, CA, does a good business in temporarily hosting wealthy Russian moms and new babies, too.

      • Rayne says:

        Anyone talking shit like Kanzer who lives in La Jolla is pointedly racist given La Jolla’s 30-mile distance from the Mexican border.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Culturally, it’s about the same distance between the two as it is from here to Mars.

        • Rayne says:

          That’s kind of the point, EoH, that white culture here whether immigrant or native is privileged; its racist, supremacist faction deliberately avoids the difficult truth of inequality even when it is right under their noses because it’s just not their problem and it might as well be on the moon or on the other side of a wall.

      • P J Evans says:

        I wonder how her neighbors feel about her running what’s essentially an illegal hotel. (If she were Chinese, they’d probably have busted her for that already.)

    • BobCon says:

      More on NY Times journalistic malpractice:

      There’s a lot of layers of stupid to unpack there.

      There’s the nutty, unconsciously ironic editorial judgment placing the article on women candidates in the middle of articles about rnen completely unfit to serve. There is the institutional failure of the Times Politics desk to run yet another thumbsucking double standard piece about women politicians.

      And then there is the article itself, which is a classic Times framing of “oh no, we’re not saying they’re just a bunch of Clintons, we’re just saying that people are saying that…”

      There are multiple ways to think about this issue, and many ways to point out how the thesis is wrong — how exactly does winning more votes translate into less popularity? But of course the Times goes for the most backward, hackneyed take, supports it with cherry picked anecdotal evidence, and then cluelessly places it amid articles that disprove its central theme. What a bunch of bozos.

        • BobCon says:

          That’s the kind of thing that should lead a good reporter to storm into an editor’s office and start a shouting match. No idea if that happened, though.

      • Wm. Boyce says:

        I also found the NYT article on women candidates to be weird. What are they saying? That the secret desire of every voter is to vote for a man? In the whole article, to my recollection, they never once mentioned the fact of Ms. Clinton beating the pants off the creature in the popular vote! She really won the election except for the slave-era Electoral College providing cover for a measly 80,000 vote margin provided courtesy of voter suppression and outright fraud.

  7. OldTulsaDude says:

    I am not ancient but I am older, and this is the first July Fourth at which I feel a warning is in order, a warning that this democracy and this country can die, that history shows there are no guarantees. To explain, I turn to an expert:

    “This is how elected autocrats subvert democracy—packing and “weaponizing” the courts and other neutral agencies, buying off the media and the private sector (or bullying them into silence), and rewriting the rules of politics to tilt the playing field against opponents. The tragic paradox of the electoral route to authoritarianism is that democracy’s assassins use the very institutions of democracy—gradually, subtly, and even legally—to kill it.”
    ― Steven Levitsky, How Democracies Die

    Rayne, thank you for providing an open thread where I can express my concerns with others of similar mind who understand that the concern I have is genuine and ongoing.

    • Americana says:

      Astute points, OTD. Remember how Trump claimed his speech wasn’t going to be partisan or political? Well, it kind of failed on that score on lots of fronts during the live event. But it failed on that score even more so within an hour or two after it ended when it was clear Trump’s staff had sliced, diced and dubbed to produce slick campaign advertisements w/lots of ultra-patriotic music for Trump’s Twitter feed.

      Just as an aside, Trump is still trying to flout the wishes of the majority by not producing his tax returns for the 2020 election. I hope I’m wrong about the following…(But I was researching the whole Pence trip emergency recall because it was so bothersome and I knew my previous guess was dead wrong.) The emergency situation over which Pence was recalled from his trip seems to be about fending off a legislative measure in N.H. that would prevent Trump from being on the ballot if he doesn’t produce 5 years of tax returns in order to qualify:

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The symmetrical display of armor and military paraphernalia in front of Lincoln’s Memorial could not be more at odds with his and US aspirations. To suggest it is not a partisan political display is absurd. It is also perfect erotica for Donald Trump. Pity about the rest of the country.


  9. robert britton says:

    anyone find it interesting that the live webcams of the national mall are all blacked out ?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Sicherheitsdienst might have a hand in it. Trump is not increasing in popularity, and the MAGA crowd is likely to be on hand to preen and to discourage demonstrations against him.

      I hope people ignore him and have a nice holiday with their family and friends somewhere else. There’s plenty to do in DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.

      • posaune says:

        DC national guard had to provide 800 personnel for the show.
        and trump still hasn’t paid his bill for the inauguration.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          That wasn’t for security as much as it was to increase the size of the crowd. :-)

    • Rayne says:

      Bigger multi-part question: are they blacked out to avoid capturing pro-Trump attendees, dead because they’ve been hacked by any number of entities, offline because they’ve never been completely functional after the inauguration, turned off to allow plausible deniability about crowd size when Trump starts whining about his huge-biggest-ever crowd?

  10. Democritus says:

    I saw this thread on twitter about the refugees and concentration camps frm Adam Klasfield and I really think that the idea he has for bringing to life the inhumane treatment our govt is inflicting in the name of deterrence:

    “Last July 3rd and 4th, I tweeted out hundreds of pages of testimonials in a family separation litigation.

    It was an Independence Day well-spent, and I had hoped—perhaps foolishly—that it wouldn’t have a ring of current events this holiday.

    The Mueller report, filed with redactions and legal language, was quickly made into an audiobook.

    These family-separation testimonials, largely told in emotional first-person, would be a compelling listen that take the human stories out of the cold record.”

    Link includes sub link to the original thread With hundreds of accounts, which I personally can’t read all of because I will get sick, but I am bookmarking to keep them for reference to refute a denialist. Someone with the skills to make implement Adams plan though should really look at it though.

    I am so afraid for our country with tanks on the National mall, a President openly pissing on the rule of law and a opposition party not willing to play hardball and protect the country and our constitutional freedoms. Without the Rule of Law the constitution is just a fancy notion. We are having a quiet in house Fourth, with music and some burgers. Anyone know any good streaming fireworks shows this year?

    However I checked and saw the NWS has issued a flash flood advisory for Trumps speech.


  11. harpie says:

    From Ted Boutrous:
    8:47 AM – 4 Jul 2019

    Three of the King’s “repeated injuries and usurpations” provoking the Declaration of Independence:
    ** “obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners;
    ** refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither,” and:
    ** “He has obstructed the Administration of Justice.”

    • P J Evans says:

      It’s something of a shock to read the list of offenses and see how many of them apply here-and-now.

      • harpie says:

        Yes, very.
        4:37 AM – 4 Jul 2019

        New Column: Jefferson’s famous document was all about despotism.
        Unlike Trump and the Republicans, he was against it.

        …from the linked column:

        […] The bulk of the text consists of 27 bullet points, as we’d say today, alleging this and that act of infamy and tyranny on the king’s part. […]
        That was the point of the document: It was a brief against despotism.
        And now, here we are, 243 years later, with a man sitting in the Oval Office who yearns to be a despot. […]
        The situation is without precedent and it is terrifying.
        A president who has no personal morality and nothing but contempt for democracy.
        A Senate Republican leader who cares only about party power.
        A congressional GOP that […] not only turns a blind eye but actively cheers him on. […]

        • P J Evans says:

          Tr*mp = King George
          Senate = House of Lords
          House = House of Commons (which wasn’t all that representative: some areas of low population had lots, and some areas of high population had little)
          RW preachers like Falwell: bishops in the official state church

    • Rayne says:

      Try clearing the cache on your PC. No idea what other problem might be causing the login fail though it could be sporadic/intermittent network problem.

      • MattyG says:

        Thanks Ill try clearing again. Weird tho, since i clear cache several times a day to begin with..

        • Rayne says:

          Hope you’ve note the rash of problems with social media platforms and Cloudflare this week. Lots of quirky outages.

        • bmaz says:

          MattyG – Rayne is right, there is all kinds of weird stuff going on currently in the net. From my end here, I see no issue with our site. But different platforms may display different results, so I don’t know.

        • P J Evans says:

          I read a genealogy newsgroup that’s on Google. I can’t report the latest spam post – it’s not going through. Otherwise, no problems in that way. (Getting rocked isn’t their problem. R6.4, east of Ridgecrest.)

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This quote from the FailFirstDaughter is somewhat lacking in self-awareness:

    “Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if is in fact true. This doesn’t mean you should be duplicitous or deceitful, but don’t go out of your way to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage.”

    Ivanka Trump. 2009. The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life.

    Daddy’s Girl. The New Yorker calls that “cognitive dissonance.” The then 28-year old Ivanka was not instructing her reader how to negotiate with corporate raiders from Wall Street. She was telling her how to live “a purpose-driven life” at home, work, and play.

    The New Yorker’s headline says it all: “Ivanka Trump’s Terrible Book Helps Explain the Trump-Family Ethos.” She has no awareness of deceit, only of what is useful. Here she is in another nutshell, from the New Yorker:

    She has a sour sense of humor: she describes attending the élite prep school Choate Rosemary Hall as an opportunity “to look at the world from a whole new angle. Even if it meant living in a building named for someone else!”



  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ironically or not, the security fence for His Highness’s mindblowing campaign event at the Memorial is so far away from the podium that pedestrians on the Mall and around the Reflecting Pool will see virtually none of it, even with binoculars. The expensively transported tanklets and all the other displays will be touchable only by the VIPs.

    Only reporters and VIPs – which include the low-level staffers given tickets because donor and congressional whales were already booked for the holiday – will be allowed in by the extensive security detail.

    Hope Trump’s 2020 campaign is billed and pays promptly the $90-100 million for this private shindig. His 2016 campaign still owes DC tens of millions for the inauguration. I’d say it’s time to send out the sheriff and seize some assets.

    • Democritus says:

      I was hitting submit on my comment, and saw you had put the same link🤭

      *when you WANT that edit button to appear it’s like, nah*

      It is such a GREAT thread though! I have MSNBC on but muted, but I’m glad they are just focusing on the earthquake.

      ETA Lol, of course the edit button appeared this time ☺️

      Oh I hope Twitler is RAGING behind the scenes and is just pouting and flat/boring when it’s time for his speech because someone got the elephant tranq gun out.

    • Rayne says:

      Thank you and welcome to emptywheel. ;-)

      EDIT: I am always amazed at how Douglass, who received only a cursory education for 1-2 years, taught himself so much and became such a gifted writer and orator. It feels like such a betrayal that the Republican Party he refers to in the speech you shared has moved 180 degrees away from being the party of black Americans’ liberation. Thanks for sharing.

      • M Smith says:

        Thank you for your Douglass piece. His words give me shivers down my spine and remind me of other great Americans and the great problems they’ve helped resolve. They remind me that your country can deal with adversity and emerge stronger. They remind me how essential free speech is and how well America preserves it. You should celebrate these things and much more today. Happy Birthday America!

  14. e.a.f. says:

    OMG, turned on CNN, MSNBC, CBC and none of them are airing the “trump shit show”. Mother Nature has taken revenge on trump, she gave California an earthquake and that is all the news is showing. Nothing on trump and his military “extravagancy”. Hope no one is injured. Talk about timing………..


    • P J Evans says:

      Fortunately the earthquake was in a low-population area. Though Ridgecrest and Trona both took damage, including fires.
      It was felt over a lot of the south half of the state, though. (I filed a did-you-feel-it as soon as I could. It was a real roller, of the kind that makes me want something like instant-acting dramamine: doesn’t have to last long, but it needs to work really really fast.)

      • Eureka says:

        I’m glad you’re OK. I thought of you when the news first flashed ‘So Cal’ earthquake.

        • P J Evans says:

          Sitting by the computer, wondering how long it’s going to last. Listening to the little windchime in the next room ringing.

        • Eureka says:

          (this wasn’t here when I replied before lol)

          Thanks for pix. I had seen some, but they have curated some good content there (esp. the variable reactions of the dogs and their people– some pre-alerting, some nestled through it).

          I also saw a pic on twitter saying it was Simba the Eagle reacting to quake from Big Bear nest cam, but the account seemed sketchy and I couldn’t find a legit link so skipped it…

          ETA: also, the disinfo accounts *love* natural disasters, so…another knock in the x-nay column. Gotta be careful with links after events like these.

        • P J Evans says:

          SFGate doesn’t have a stories-per-month limit, and they don’t fuss about adblockers, though you don’t get content as quickly or in as much quantity. (The Chronicle site is their paid-subscription site, with all the hostile features.)

        • Eureka says:

          Thanks– I didn’t know the relationship.

          Tal Kopan at the Chronicle has great reporting on the Barr DOJ immigration courts’ rules/policy changes that I’ve commented on here at least a couple times (one yesterday, on prev page).

          I recall some Golden State Killer coverage there too.

          But SFGate links come up much more often, on more topics.

        • P J Evans says:

          When I last checked, they had 27K reports. But it must be wilder by now. (Mine was, at that time, the only one for my area.)

      • e.a.f. says:

        after my first comment, went down stairs to tell my sibling of the earth quake. was informed we’d had one here on off the coast of B.C. slept through another one!

    • Tom says:

      Great Clumping Cat Litter! Why would the CBC ever broadcast Trump’s “Salute to Amerika”? They have so many episodes of “The Beachcombers” they could show!

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        Or they could replay old All in the Family episodes as it is difficult to distinguish between Archie Bunker and Individual-1.

      • e.a.f. says:

        actually I like catching American news on the C.B.C., when things hit the fan. They cover it well, with no extra talking heads, just the news/facts. Beach Combers, were we ever that young?

        • Tom says:

          I agree that CBC coverage of American news–e.g., the half-hour 6:00 pm radio news–is often better and in more depth than, say, NPR.

  15. harpie says:

    Here’s the President on the Fourth of July:
    1:46 PM – 4 Jul 2019

    Although it’s a holiday, several WH & GOP sources tell me that the president is making a round of calls today, expressing his frustration with the admin’s response to the census decision.

    Sec. Ross is a target of his ire, they say.
    While President Trump has not signaled that Ross will be fired over the matter, the people said the president is furious.
    “Wilbur is on the thinnest of ice until this is solved,” said one top Republican.

    Trump also made it clear to several advisers Thursday that addressing the census issue should be the administration’s priority in the coming days and he has urged gov’t lawyers to quickly prepare new legal documents to help the administration’s cause.

    “Fix this,” he tells them.

    • P J Evans says:

      The laws – and the courts – have made it pretty clear that his decision isn’t legal, and what he wants won’t stand.
      Shouldn’t his schools be taking away his diplomas, since he’s clearly ignorant of everything the average citizen is expected to understand?

    • Tom says:

      As long as Trump’s enjoying the holiday by ruining it for everyone else, that’s the main thing. BTW, is Wilbur Betsy’s husband?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “Take care of it for me, Tom.”
      “Already done, Don Corleone.”

      This is what Bill Barr’s made for.

      • Tom says:

        Oh EoH! Now you’ve made me want to put on “The Godfather”. But when I watch “The Godfather”, I always get this tremendous craving for pasta! And it’s waaaay too hot for pasta right now, though I’m pretty sure Rayne has some cold pasta salad recipes to recommend.

    • harpie says:
      5:27 PM – 4 Jul 2019

      “But conservative legal figures — including Leonard Leo, head of the Federalist Society — have been especially vocal in urging Trump not to stop fighting for the citizenship question, according to advisers close to Trump”

      Leonard Leo helps pick the judges and also seems to have increasing influence on the policies that end up being litigated in front of those judges [link]

      …links to:
      Trump administration scrambles to save citizenship question on census
      July 4 at 7:54 PM

      […] In a Washington Post column on June 29, Hugh Hewitt urged Barr to “prepare an executive order for the president’s signature directing the commerce secretary to add any such questions, and be prepared to defend the questions on the grounds discussed in the meeting. Nothing more is required.”

      Reached by phone, Hewitt argued that Justice and Commerce officials gave up too easily.
      “At a minimum, you could print two sets of census documents. The census does not fall apart because we go past July 5,” he said.

      An executive order could give the government some leeway for argument, said Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at South Texas College of Law. […]
      A rule exists that would allow the government to file a motion for the Supreme Court to reconsider within 25 days of its ruling, Blackman said.

      “It’s unorthodox, but in theory, you could bypass having to fight it all over again in the lower courts and go right back to the Supreme Court,” Blackman said. […]

      • harpie says:

        OMG! …and this is one of the quotes in the article I thought was too ridiculous to quote:
        Josh Blackman:
        6:02 PM – 4 Jul 2019

        I am quoted in @washingtonpost story on the census case. This quote may be my favorite of all time [link]
        “In some ways though, there’s nothing more patriotic than fighting over the Constitution on July Fourth.”

        Steve Vladeck responds:
        6:31 PM – 4 Jul 2019

        If only we (and hundreds of government employees) were actually “fighting over the Constitution” versus “running around like chickens with our heads cut off because the President had a temper tantrum and is ordering lawyers to defy deadlines they previously said were un-movable.”


      • harpie says:

        Also in the WaPo article:

        […] As the wrangling continues, Hazel is poised to authorize litigants to start producing information in a case that could stop the question on different grounds from what the Supreme Court heard.
        New evidence suggests a Republican political operative [Hofeller] saw the question as a way to help Republicans and white voters, and that operative was in touch with administration officials.

        If administration lawyers do not drop their pursuit of the question by Friday, Hazel is likely to allow that case to proceed. […]

      • bmaz says:

        I know Josh Blackman. He is a very nice guy, and he is one of the biggest toadies in the Federalist Society. He will argue whatever right wing bullshit that Len Leo wants. And the thing is, SCOTUS should never take another swing at this without a proper record being made in a trial court. Blackman is not telling you that. This may come to pass, but we will see what happens, it is not so easy.

      • harpie says:

        bmaz Retweeted Marty Lederman
        6:22 PM – 4 Jul 2019

        1/ A reminder to all those “census officials and lawyers at the Justice and Commerce departments [who] scrapped holiday plans and spent their Independence Day seeking new legal rationales for a citizenship question”: [WaPo^^^ link]

        2/ It is *not your job* to come up with still more “contrived reasons” (Roberts, CJ) for *any* agency policy, let alone one that is, in fact, impermissibly motivated.

        Indeed, that’s a breach of your duty–an abuse of your office. Seriously.

        P.S. It’s also not your job . . . . . . to “”work[] furiously to find a way to appease [the President].”
        Think about it.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          A tad aspirational, like much of what we celebrate on the Fourth. (See, Langston Hughes.) In the corporate legal world, where most of these players come from – Barr spent two decades as general counsel of a telecom – that’s exactly their job. Those who don’t socialize well into that behavior are promptly socialized out.

          It’s not supposed to be the same in the public sector. Lawyers have responsibilities to agencies and the government in general. But they are abstract. People respond, for good or ill, to people. The behavior might be wrong or illegal, but it is famously hard to punish.

          That’s where leadership comes in: to put ethics into practice. Barr has none. He serves his vision of power. Neither does Ross or his deputy – the one leading the low-level American contingent to the women’s World Cup Final. If they had, they would resign or would never have joined the administration.

          It serves as a reminder to the next president. Her top priority must be her people. They will be her policy and her legacy.

      • harpie says:

        Hasen adds:

        This is par for the course with this administration:

        Sorry if we were acting with discriminatory intent before. Give us a do over and we’ll do a better job hiding our real intent.

        (Worked in travel ban case, Texas redistricting case, and others at Supreme Court).

        • Rayne says:

          This is how Trump’s responded to any attempts to rein in his unlawful behavior as a business person throughout his entire life. And because punishment he’s faced until now never required something painful of him personally, he’s taken every conflict as a message to rejigger his approach until his opponent gives up or his efforts pay off. But now it’s not his real estate deal using someone else’s money as if he’s playing Monopoly — it’s our democracy he’s trashing.

          I just want to bitchslap Mark Burnett and Jeff Zucker into next year for creating the image of a savvy business person under which this snake hid from the GOP’s ignorant, credulous base.

      • harpie says:
        11:22 AM – 5 Jul 2019

        One more time, this is the same Justice Department that _insisted_ to #SCOTUS, on at least five occasions, that there was no way to push final resolution of this dispute past June 30—and used that claim as its sole basis for seeking and receiving expedited review from the Court.

        It doesn’t matter what new rationale the government comes up with. _Any_ new rationale that would allow the question to asked would prove that the Solicitor General repeatedly lied to #SCOTUS

        —and used that lie to generate a false sense of urgency and to prejudice the challengers. […]

        In other words, any response at this juncture other than “we ran out of time” would be proof that all of those prior representations were false.
        That’s bad enough in the abstract, but we mustn’t forget that it had an irreparable effect on how the litigation has unfolded, too.

        • P J Evans says:

          I don’t think Judge Hazel is going to buy this one, especially when they’re so very obvious about why they’re asking for it.

        • bmaz says:

          Steve is right. But I come back to what I said earlier, it is not just the lying, but the time window. They will have to not only come up with another bogus reason, but get the courts, including the trial courts where the record would be made, to expedite greatly. Which they may not really be willing to do at this point. And the injunctions stay in place during the time.

        • harpie says:

          And, now there will be discovery about the “origins” of the citizenship question question…ie: Hofeller docs.

      • harpie says:

        Judge George Hazel’s order: ‘Discovery shall commence’
        12:39 PM – 5 Jul 2019

        Now: Maryland judge will proceed with evidence-gathering on origin of census citizenship question as Trump weighs options [link]
        Judge George Hazel’s order: ‘Discovery shall commence’

        Judge Hazel: “Given that time is of the essence, therefore, the prudent course is to proceed with discovery.”

        Judge will allow ‘up to five depositions of Department of Commerce and/or Department of Justice witnesses,’ per new order

        • harpie says:

          Also, Judge Hazel:

          Regardless of the justification Defendants may now find for a “new” decision, discovery related to the origins of the question will remain relevant. [quotes in original]

        • harpie says:

          Adam Klasfeld has a good little summary here:

          1:43 PM – 5 Jul 2019

          To unpack a bit more,
          1. Before, Judge Hazel found the Trump admin’s pretext on citizenship question violated the APA + Enumeration Clause, but he stopped short of the 5th Amendment claims.
          That is, he found it illegal and unconstitutional, but not on equal-protection grounds.

          2. Then came the discovery of files belonging to late GOP “Michelangelo of gerrymandering” Thomas Hofeller, suggesting question added explicitly to benefit “Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.”
          From May: [link]

          3. In its wake, Hazel said the evidence could “potentially connect the dots to discriminatory intent”—which would allow reconsideration on Fifth Amendment claim.
          He just ordered discovery on that issue, which DOJ sought to avoid.

    • harpie says:

      In the New York case:
      bmaz Retweeted
      5:41 PM – 5 Jul 2019

      It is absolutely stunning to read all of DOJ’s (apparently mis?)representations about the June 30 deadline for printing the census—representations DOJ repeatedly used to its tactical advantage— in this absolutely baller filing.
      kudos @dale_e_ho et al!

      …links to:
      Case 1:18-cv-02921-JMF Document 616 Filed 07/05/19

      • harpie says:

        Here is Marty Lederman responding to Litman’s tweet:
        4:31 AM – 6 Jul 2019

        1/ The account is devastating and, at the very least, if DOJ lawyers now say “never mind” re: 06/30, they oughta be sanctioned for having *constantly* induced reliance of many courts and litigants about that “deadline.”

        Here’s what’s truly weird, however:
        2/ AFAICT, in all of those countless representations about the June deadline, DOJ virtually *never* explained to the courts what the source of the deadline was–legal? budgetary? contract? physical impossibility?
        Nor did it *ever* even bother to cite any sources/authorities, …

        3/ … even when the plaintiffs were objecting that 10/31 was the true deadline.
        The utter absence of any explanation or citation for such an important assertion has been, not to put too fine a point on it, perverse. I could find only one exception–a single citation … [thread]

      • harpie says:

        From the ACLU Motion to Amend, linked above:

        [p.17] Despite their previous representations as to the immutable nature of the June 30 deadline, Defendants may now claim that they have conjured up exceptional resources that could facilitate fresh changes to the census questionnaire moving forward.

        If so, it makes no difference if their prior representations as to the June 30 deadline were simply untrue at the time, or whether Defendants failed to conduct adequate diligence before making such unequivocal statements—this Court and others relied on Defendants’ assertions, and Defendants cannot be permitted to suddenly reverse course now.

        If any ordinary litigant engaged in such conduct, sanctions would be the minimum relief provided. And Defendants are no ordinary litigants. They are agencies of the United States Government represented by the United States Department of Justice. The public interest demands that they act with the upmost integrity and be held to the highest of standards.

        The Supreme Court found that Defendants misled Congress and the American public regarding their reasons for adding the citizenship question, and it now appears they are saying that they misled the courts as well.

        Enough is enough.

      • harpie says:

        Here is Ben Eidelson responding to Litman, talking about “presumption of regularity“:
        7:28 AM – 6 Jul 2019

        DOJ invokes the ‘presumption of regularity’ to defend many of this Administration’s challenged policies. That presumption may survive the ongoing, out-in-the-open irregularity of the census decision-making in some form–but surely enfeebled. […]
        But the post-decision developments are even more significant. The public effort to come up with a new rationale – but only after a Presidential order by tweet, and heedless of a deadline repeatedly urged to the Court by DOJ – is, of course, highly irregular …
        and demonstrates an utter lack of the “integrity of the administrative process” on which the presumption of regularity is supposed to rest. […]

        This DoJ doesn’t deserve to be presumed regular.

      • harpie says:

        And since the President seems to have captured the DoJ, here are Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes in March 2017 writing about the presumption of regularity with regard to the President:
        What Happens When We Don’t Believe the President’s Oath?
        March 3, 2017

        […] It is merely to observe that this is what happens when the press ceases to [I would add: be able to] attach a presumption of regularity and good faith to presidential actions and statements.

        It’s what happens when large number of people in the press cannot start with the presumption that the president is making a good faith effort to do his job.

        It’s what happens when the press doesn’t merely question the president’s policies and seek to expose his administration’s foibles and errors and secrets, but actively doubts his oath of office. […]

        • harpie says:

          This is what Jurecic said earlier today, and how I became aware of the article:

          8:11 AM – 6 Jul 2019

          Ben Wittes and I wrote about the presumption of regularity and the presidential oath on Lawfare quite early in the Trump administration. It’s one of the pieces I’m proudest of; I think it holds up.

          I wonder if they’ll update on the topic.

        • bmaz says:

          I dunno, but they were never on to anything new. The “presumption of regularity” has been around forever in litigation against actions of an executive branch, and not just federal branch now. Goes all the way back to English common law.

        • harpie says:

          Just wondering if their thinking has changed/evolved on that topic with regard to Trump and this executive branch.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I’d forgotten these lines from Langston Hughes, but they remain as poignant as ever (h/t ACLU of Virginia, via nyc southpaw):

    O, let America be America again —
    The land that never has been yet —
    And yet must be – the land where every man is free.

    Taken from the rest of his poem, “Let America Be America Again,” they have the ring of Browning’s, “[A] man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” Optimistic, slightly melancholy. But it is more. Hughes shines a harsh light on the gulf between America’s lyrical aspirations and the lived lives of the people who made it.

    (There’s never been equality for me,
    Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

    That gulf was never more stark than when Hughes wrote during the Great Depression. Everyman and Everywoman had made America — the poor, the immigrant, the Native American, the African American – slave or not – the farmer, the artisan, the industrial worker. Yet, it was not theirs, and never had been. It belonged to “those who live like leeches on the people’s lives.”

    “I say it plain, America was never America to me, And yet I swear this oath — America will be!”

    If a writer living in 1930s Harlem could be optimistic, so can we. America could be what it’s never been – the America we dream about – if we fight for it.

    Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again.” []
    Robert Browning, “Andrea del Sarto.”

    • Tom says:

      Reminds me of an opening scene in Dashiell Hammett’s 1929 novel “Red Harvest” when the Continental Op arrives in Personville: “The first policeman I saw needed a shave. The second had a couple of buttons off his shabby uniform. The third stood in the middle of the city’s main intersection–Broadway and Union Street–directing traffic, with a cigar in one corner of his mouth. After that I stopped checking them up.”

    • vicks says:

      I think the text of the tweet is even creepier than the pic.
      These people don’t really walk among us?
      Troll farm right?

    • e.a.f. says:

      morphing into Lincoln you say, well that’s good news, Lincoln is dead, oh, trump isn’t. O.K. ………

    • harpie says:

      LINCOLN; October 16, 1854 Speech at Peoria:

      Let us re-adopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it, the practices, and policy, which harmonize with it.

      Let north and south — let all Americans — let all lovers of liberty everywhere — join in the great and good work. If we do this, we shall not only have saved the Union; but we shall have so saved it, as to make, and to keep it, forever worthy of the saving.

      We shall have so saved it, that the succeeding millions of free happy people, the world over, shall rise up, and call us blessed, to the latest generations.

  17. Nehoa says:

    I just wanted to say on July 4th what a tremendous service you, and Marcy, bmaz, and Ed do on this site. Mahalo to you all!

  18. Eureka says:

    Outstanding thread on Charles Schultz; the 1970 letter at top, as well as other content in the thread, speaks to the current era:

    Luke Epplin: “Surprisingly, given how directly he dealt with other holidays, Charles Schulz did few Fourth of July strips, and no TV specials. Perhaps his own sense of patriotism was the cause. Here’s a telling letter he sent in 1970. (letter)”

    “Schulz, of course, did complete an 8-part miniseries called “This Is America, Charlie Brown,” which addressed such topics as the Constitution, the transcontinental railroad, and the music of this country. I guess that’s kind of a stand-in for a 4th of July special.”

    • Eureka says:

      There’s lots of other good stuff in the thread — some of which I’d like to elaborate on later– but here’s the text of the November 1970 letter, from an article about it this past March:

      “Dear Joel,” the letter reads. “I think it is more difficult these days to define what makes a good citizen then it has ever been before. Certainly all any of us can do is follow our own conscience and retain faith in our democracy. Sometimes it is the very people who cry out the loudest in favor of getting back to what they call ‘American Virtues’ who lack this faith in our country. I believe that our greatest strength lies always in the protection of our smallest minorities. Sincerely yours, Charles M. Schulz.”

      “I’m sure it went way over my head as a kid, what he said in the letter,” Lipton tells me. “But I think now, in the time we’re living in politically, in this country… what he said about the people who hide behind American virtues, and about protecting our smallest minorities, I knew that could speak to a lot of people. To see that this came from this man, 50 years ago, and how important those words are today.”

      Charles Schulz’s Letter About Democracy, Discovered 50 Years Later

  19. e.a.f. says:

    Watched the Macey’s 4th of July show on T.V. It was everything a 4th of July show ought to be! Certainly made me feel good. Loved the music they used, went all the way back to Casablanca. All the really great music themes from the great American movies.

    • Rayne says:

      These guys were amazing, weren’t they? They bet their lives on the nascent promise of democracy. Blows me away Pulaski didn’t speak any English, and that Lafayette was a member of the Frencn peerage but still threw in with Americans because freedom.

      ‘Illegal aliens’, all, and bless them.

      • P J Evans says:

        L.A. has a “General Thaddeus Kosciusko Way” downtown – it’s only two blocks long, but it exists. (Between Olive and Hope, north of Third.)

        • Rayne says:

          We have a Brothers of Kosciusko Polish Americans Club and a Pulaski Hall, also Polish Falcon Club here. Not so much landmarks as places and opportunities to drink beer. LOL

        • P J Evans says:

          Lot of Poles in that area – Wisconsin as well as Michigan. A surprising number in places like Montana, also.

  20. harpie says:

    Trump’s slick new TANKS-ON-THE-MALL campaign ad is out:
    9:42 AM – 5 Jul 2019

    There you have it. A taxpayer- funded campaign ad. Your tax dollars coopted for the benefit of a man whose idea of public service is the public serving him. Tens of millions effectively given to the Trump Campaign. This is what it was all about. This and revenue for his hotel [link]

    • P J Evans says:

      This is when DC and the Park Service should bill the RNC for the costs of the campaign rally. And then sue.

      • klynn says:

        FOIA the hell out of this to get the cost and make another ad like it with the his crazy quotes and scroll the costs.

  21. Wm. Boyce says:

    Just a reaction to a picture I saw from DC yesterday. The tank was on a flatbed! No street damage necessary! I was cracking up at this lameness – you can’t make it up. He can’t even get his Soviet rally right.

    • P J Evans says:

      There were a couple of APCs bought in on flatbeds earlier – they were parked either side of the VVIP area, in front of Himself’s podium. I think they used a special carrier (military) for the actual tanks, which are much larger and heavier.

  22. Rugger9 says:

    I just noticed this, it’s the filing for the Census question from the DOJ, for the benefit of our crack legal team:

    Rick Hasen covers its importance in his blog post:

    Bottom line, it appears that the latest game before going to executive orders is to try to convince the judge to ignore all previous evidence since the prior reason is no longer operative. I’ll bet every defendant / respondent would like that get-out-of-trouble-free card.

    Will the trial judge fall for it? Doubtful, given how the court moved up the deadline which I cannot imagine is a sign of happiness with DOJ antics. If this is the idea, I’m not so sure the appellate or SCOTUS forums will be any more accommodating because it’s hard to carve out a plausible exception for GOP types that stays within the “equal protection” boundaries of the 14th Amendment, but that’s a better question for the lawyers here.

    Trial Judge: Nope.

    • bmaz says:

      Naw, that ain’t happening. The record is still the record, and it is gonna stay that way. That kind of request is so lame, it is laughable.

      • Kokuanani says:

        Has anyone done a list/chart of where all the Trump-appointed judges have been installed? I’m fearful that our time for relying on the good sense of the judiciary is limited, as important cases start appearing before the loons.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Thanks for this. It is hard to see how the administration – which would have trotted out its best arguments before the Supremes and lost – could get away with an Emily Litella, “Never mind,” and then trot out some newfangled contraption and say, “We found it when we were cleaning the Temple. Bless it, oh, Lord, and save our Census!”

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Time to trot out that classic children’s song and dance:

      DT Loses His Census

      Here we go loop de loop
      Here we go loop de lie
      Here we go loop de loop
      All on this Friday night

      He puts his right hand in
      And then he takes it out
      He gives it a shake, shake, shake
      And turns himself about

  23. harpie says:

    Border Patrol agents allegedly tried to shame a migrant by making him hold a sign reading ‘I like men,’ emails show Updated 4:58 PM ET, Thu July 4, 2019
    Photo caption:

    The migrant was forced to hold a piece of paper that reads “me gustan los hombre(s)”, which translates to “I like men,” while being paraded through a detention center, according to emails obtained by CNN

    Marcy just retweeted: 12:41 PM – 5 Jul 2019

    Stateside Abu Ghraib

    That was my first thought as well, remembering the 2004 TAGUBA REPORT

    [p.48] 1. (U) Due to the nature and scope of this investigation, I acquired the assistance of Col (Dr.) Henry Nelson, a USAF Psychiatrist, to analyze the investigation materials from a psychological perspective. He determined that there was evidence that the horrific abuses suffered by the detainees at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) were wanton acts of select soldiers in an unsupervised and dangerous setting. There was a complex interplay of many psychological factors and command insufficiencies. A more detailed analysis is contained in ANNEX 1 of this investigation. […]

    • harpie says:

      Adam Klasfeld:
      12:47 PM – 5 Jul 2019

      Many Central American migrants, particular from Honduras, seek asylum to escape anti-LGBT persecution and violence.
      This is @Amnesty International on why Honduras is one of seven “deadly” countries for LGBT people. [link]
      Useful context on why it’s particularly despicable Border Patrol agents allegedly taunted a Honduran migrant by making him hold an “I like men” sign.

  24. harpie says:

    Proud Boys Rally Rocked by Sex, Cocaine Allegations
    Top speakers are fleeing and one-time allies are feuding as the gathering of MAGA faithful teeters.
    Will Sommer Published 07.05.19 5:16PM ET

    A far-right rally scheduled for downtown Washington on Saturday has been thrown into disarray by dramatic allegations centering on cocaine, a love triangle, and the far-right Proud Boys men’s group. […]
    The drama has torn apart one-time allies prominent on the pro-Trump internet and cost the so-called “Demand Free Speech” rally at least one speaker, after other prominent right-wing celebrities already cited other reasons for not appearing. While the rally was meant to protest the banning of conservative figures from social media, the surrounding drama has cast a shadow over the event. […]

    • harpie says:

      …speaking of the Solicitor General, wrt how it has “argued” the CENSUS citizenship question case:
      4:31 AM – 6 Jul 2019

      Replying to @LeahLitman @DavidColeACLU @dale_e_ho
      1/ The account is devastating and, at the very least, if DOJ lawyers now say “never mind” re: 06/30, they oughta be sanctioned for having *constantly* induced reliance of many courts and litigants about that “deadline.” Here’s what’s truly weird, however:

      [important thread]

      13/ .@sbagen adds a very important point:
      This is a *huge* deal for OSG institutionally. Its briefs regularly make factual representations about what the government is doing, can do, etc., and the Court absolutely trusts and depends upon OSG to play it straight on such matters.

      14/ If OSG now were to come back and do a full-on Emily Litella and say “Oh, we forgot to mention that the real deadline is 10/31; sorry for the oversight,” it’d be (or ought to be, anyway) devastating for the Office–or at least for those who currently run it.

      • harpie says:
        8:46 AM – 5 Jul 2019

        Republican lawyers urging Trump to use the 14th Amendment to rig elections in favor of white people. An absolute disgrace, and also an apt illustration of thoroughly the modern GOP has rejected its origins. [WSJ link]
        Remember, the conservative justices other than Roberts argued that Trump should be trusted and that it was offensive he wasn’t given the benefit of the doubt. Now he confirms he lied to all of their faces, not that they give a shit. […]

      • bmaz says:

        As I am sure Marty and Sam would agree, when even Bill Barr thinks it over and a bad idea to press on, it is a REALLY bad idea.

        • harpie says:

          If Francisco pressed on despite his boss Bill Barr’s [supposed] conclusion that it would be a bad idea, then who’s orders IS Francisco actually following?

        • harpie says:

          Barr knows it’s a bad idea, but allows it to go forward anyway…sounds about right.
          These people are systematically demolishing every.single.thing. they touch.
          Seems like that must be the plan.

  25. Eureka says:

    PJ phone home when you can, hope all is OK–

    ETA: there was just a 6.9 or 7.1 earthquake, don’t have a great link- lots on twitter

    • P J Evans says:

      R6.9, 11 miles NNW of Ridgecrest – that’s the other direction from the one yesterday morning. Definitely stronger, too. Knocked over some small-but-not-fragile items, made the shower doors(!) swing. There’s a nice video from the Dodger game – they barely slowed down, though there’s noticeable camera motion:

      (The Did-You-Feel-It stuff is having a hard time getting itself running. I had to use the “Unidentified Event” form and fill in date and time (I copied the official one).)

      • P J Evans says:

        USGS is saying that yesterday morning was a foreshock. (The problem is, you can only tell after the main shock happens.)

      • Eureka says:

        Whew. Still more drama than one needs, lol. (When I first saw it online, there was an erroneous San Andreas hashtag going along with other LA-related ones, so had to click around to verify, nope, it’s not the big one. Of course that is no comfort to those who have been tragically-impacted by these quakes.)

        We just have relatively infrequent littles around here/old mountains where I’ve lived.

        ETA: Here, more concerned of late about increasingly frequent tornadoes/ warnings (along with the flooding rains)…among a non-tornado-savvy populace.

        • P J Evans says:

          I think there was a hefty aftershock about 10 minutes ago, but it’s not showing up yet. (I’m at the stage of gritted-teeth-“Thank-you-Lord”. I still have vivid memories of Whittier Narrows, back in 1987, where there was a big aftershock a nearly week later, and a noticeable one six months later.)

        • Eureka says:

          Oh, you’re still “in” it (something one cannot really discern from national news coverage).

        • Eureka says:

          I forgot this one– the 5.8-er in Virginia that was felt up into Michigan and southern Ontario/ Quebec/ Maritimes:

          2011 Virginia earthquake

          It helped with revising risk maps. Here’s re the US overall so ~all (moins international friends) can play along:

          Earthquake Maps Reveal Higher Risks for Much of U.S.

          USGS Open-File Report 2014–1091: Documentation for the 2014 Update of the United States National Seismic Hazard Maps

          Whenever I see the gov dept responsible at page bottoms, I shudder recalling various Trump picks. *Zinke* was in charge of earthquakes !?! (well, the Interior)…

  26. harpie says:

    Trump and Melania are at his Bedminster, NJ golf club this weekend.
    NJ newspaper reports:
    Trump on reports of unauthorized immigrants working at his N.J. golf club. ‘Every club’ did this.
    Updated Jul 5, 10:20 PM; Posted Jul 5, 6:55 PM

    Tom Malinowski who represents Bedminster in Congress, linked to that article and tweeted:
    6:39 PM – 5 Jul 2019

    “I guess his message to migrants is,

    ‘We’ll pay you to come here but take away your kids if you try,’ and,
    ‘If you do something illegal, you will be punished but
    if I do something illegal, it’s totally normal;
    every rich person does it,'”

  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    By design, Trump and advisers like Stephen Miller purposely confuse what might be useful for the government to know with what is legal and useful for it to ask about on the Census form. He also obfuscates that the Census is constitutionally and explicitly within the control of Congress.

    In the Census context, for example, asking about citizenship is directly at odds with getting the information the Census is constitutionally required to obtain: an actual – not statistical estimate – of people in the United States.

    As Trump has admitted, like the doofus he is, his purpose in asking about citizenship is to inflame his base and to depress the vote of everyone not a part of it. No matter how contrived his new rationales, he can no longer hide that.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I was thinking about that when Trump kept repeating “how expensive” the census is. His homely argument was that “for that much money” he should be able to ask WTF he wants. He’s good at collapsing logic and the law, and destroying both, while ignoring his own obsession with secrecy.

        Trump lumps census costs into a single year rather than considering them over the ten-year life of each census. (He is good at manipulating accounting impressions – not the real thing – to promote his issue of the day.)

        • bmaz says:

          They do do the 5 year ACS, but that is pretty limited, and cheap, compared to the decennial official census. So, yep, great point…..the “cost” of the census is truly a ten year spread.

          Also, too, man who just spent $80 to $100 million on a personal vanity project for July 4, should not be whining about the price of Constitutionally mandated governance.

        • P J Evans says:

          The guy who whined about Obama playing golf six or eight times per *year* shouldn’t be playing golf – on his own courses – nearly every weekend, and charging everything to taxpayers at inflated prices.

  28. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Joe Biden is making a hilarious demand for a would be presidential contender. He wants to cherry-pick his 40-year record, but keep the orchard off-limits to his critics. Hard to come up with a better example of arrogance and entitlement.

    Frankly, Joe, you’re pouring chum on the water off Cape Cod as you leap from the swim platform. The result is not likely to be pretty.

    • harpie says:
      9:29 AM – 6 Jul 2019

      Had been working on this before the debate. @emsteck and I wrote about Elizabeth Warren’s first law review article in 1975 which criticized a SCOTUS ruling on busing and called for legislative action to solve defacto segregation. A sharp contrast w/Biden. [link]
      Warren wrote: “If the Court cannot or will not develop a judicial remedy for urban school segregation, then Congress must. Equal educational opportunity requires the combined efforts of the judiciary, the legislative branch, and the administrative departments of the executive.” […]

      Links to:
      Elizabeth Warren’s first law review article blasted an anti-busing court ruling

      • harpie says:

        From the article:

        […] Erika K. Wilson, a professor of public policy at the University of North Carolina School of Law, said that Warren’s predictions for what would occur in the American education system largely came true and that her view was closely aligned with Justice Thurgood Marshall, who wrote a dissenting opinion in Milliken. America’s school systems would become “irreparably segregated,” said Wilson.
        Warren, noted Wilson, might have been out of step with her contemporaries at the time, and particularly “out of step” with white Americans who were “tired” of the decades-long battle to integrate public schools.
        As Warren was writing on busing, at the same time in the 1970s, Biden, as a young senator, stood against busing in places with de facto segregation like Detroit. […]

        They provide a link to a copy of the 1975 Rutgers Law Review article:

  29. Eureka says:

    Yashar Ali: “Breaking: Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minors in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005, and will appear in court in New York on Monday. A big score for SDNY. (links to daily beast)”

    Jeffrey Epstein Arrested For Sex Trafficking of Minors: Sources

    Billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was arrested for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minors in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005, and will appear in court in New York on Monday, according to three law enforcement sources. The arrest, by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force, comes about 12 years after the 66-year-old financier essentially got a slap on the wrist for allegedly molesting dozens of underage girls in Florida.

    The new indictment—which, according to two sources, will be unsealed Monday in Manhattan federal court—will reportedly allege that Epstein sexually exploited dozens of underage girls in a now-familiar scheme: paying them cash for “massages” and then molesting or sexually abusing them in his Upper East Side mansion or his palatial residence in Palm Beach. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors—which could put him away for a maximum of 45 years. The case is being handled by the Public Corruption Unit of the Southern District of New York, with assistance from the district’s human-trafficking officials and the FBI.

    Several of the billionaire’s employees and associates allegedly recruited the girls for Epstein’s abuse, and some victims eventually became recruiters themselves, according to law enforcement. The girls were as young as 14, and Epstein knew they were underage, according to details of the arrest and indictment shared by two officials.

    Epstein’s attorney Martin Weinberg declined to comment when reached by The Daily Beast on Saturday night. The SDNY also declined to comment.
    (internal links removed)

    • Eureka says:

      Links for Julie Brown and Miami Herald on this (THANK YOU for tireless journalism):

      julie k. brown: “BREAKING NEWS from Miami Herald: Jeffrey Epstein was arrested by the FBI in New York Saturday night on sex trafficking charges. Remains in custody pending bail hearing Monday. (link)”

      Jeffrey Epstein arrested on trafficking charges, sources say

        • Eureka says:

          Isn’t that the question of the hour. I guess it depends on the strength of the indictment and any incentive for deal-making.

          Folks are making a big deal about the Public Corruption Unit being involved, but I don’t think that has the significance some are thinking (I thought it might just relate to his ‘stature’/ wealth/ connections / Acosta’s past involvement). Of course, I could be wrong.

      • bmaz says:

        I’ve got nothing for Epstein, he is a garbage human. But I see HUGE problems in this, and unless it is for conduct occurring “after” his plea and sentencing, this is light years beyond problematic and worrying.

        • Eureka says:

          I was wondering about that because of the dates of alleged conduct cited in DB. Hard to tell without more info/the indictment.

          Also don’t remember that closely the language of his plea agreement, but had assumed that they must have come up with acts not covered therein?!? Somehow? Otherwise they would be sham charges…

        • BobCon says:

          I’m not a lawyer, but I’m also going to tamp down any expectations until more information is available.

          Is there any hint that this is prelude to a plea deal? Or if there was a deal, would they just cut to the chase and announce he was cooperating on a case involving others?

          It seems odd that they would arrest him if the chances were high he could win, especially considering the legal firepower he can afford, and also considering the bad PR backfire potential. But I realize charges sometimes can be brought on flimsy grounds even in high profile cases.

        • bmaz says:

          To Eureka and BobCon – Yeah, I don’t know. Without the indictment, all I can find on relevant dates is via the DB article. If, and that is a big if, then I see some huge problems. And, to reiterate, I don’t give a fuck about Epstein, he is a dirtbag, but I DO care about the sanctity of plea bargains entered into and relied on, and related Non Prosecution Agreements (NPA’s), and statutes of limitation.

          All those things are in play here. And the criminal justice system, seriously, depends on all of them. Discussion on this is easy here in comments. But, every day in criminal courts, lives and futures depend on this. That probably sounds hyperbolic, but it is not in the least.

          So, we shall see on Monday it appears!

        • Eureka says:

          You don’t sound hyperbolic to me at all, perfectly reasonable concerns given what info is– and is not– available right now. You can’t remedy injustice (prior case) with further injustice (if indeed this current case violates agreements or other ~’hard mores’).

          That he is loathed is, or should be, a separate issue.

          And to the heart of the matter (why everyone cares), there’s the adage that leopards don’t change their spots, and so I do hope that there is both proper justice and stoppage of further victimizing, if any.

        • Eureka says:

          Thanks, klynn– I was seeing snippets of this last night, didn’t have a link like this for the fuller story.

        • bmaz says:

          I am just spitballing here without seeing the complaint. That said, most commonly understood sex crimes are state offenses, and this case is clearly in federal court. The one charge that comes to mind is 18 USC §1591 for sex trafficking, which, theoretically, has no statute of limitation. So that would also potentially answer the time issue.

          My bet is that SDNY has found one or more victims that say they were victimized in NY (as opposed to the former cases in FL state and SDFL) and Epstein is being prosecuted under this or a related statute. I still think Epstein will have some arguments in defense, but this is at least a plausible path. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out. We will get the first real glimpse tomorrow.

        • Rayne says:

          Excerpt from the DailyBeast article:

          Epstein could have faced multiple federal charges, the NPA noted, including: sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud or coercion, 18 U.S.C. 1591; the use of a facility or means of interstate commerce to entice minors into prostitution, 18 U.S.C. 2422(b); and traveling for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors, 18 U.S.C. 2423(b). The document states Epstein might have committed those crimes from around 2001 to September 2007.

          NPA being the non-prosecution agreement SDFL’s U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra ruled in February 2019 broke the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA).

          An aside: A civil suit against Trump and his golf course came before Judge Marra in 2016. I don’t recall this getting much press at the time.

        • bmaz says:

          Sure, this is exactly the problem I see. The NPA covered a range of offenses, including at least one that putatively has no statute of limitation.

          And while people keep referring to the Marra decision, I find it irrelevant. It was in a civil case that should have no bearing on the sanctity of criminal pleas and attendant criminal resolutions.

          Frankly, I don’t think Marra’s decision is even pertinent to anything civil as it found that “prosecutors” violated the CVA, and prosecutors have absolute immunity. The hype, as fed by a lot of bad reporting by journalists who don’t understand the law, coupled with public outrage, has let this entire matter get way ahead of where the law likely is.

        • Rayne says:

          I want to respond to this fully but I think I will just bite back some of what I was going to say.

          Instead, I want to note that young girls and women have been repeatedly victimized first through sexual assault and trafficking, and then by a justice system which violated their right to know the details of the prosecution of the perpetrator.

          There isn’t just sexual assault and/or trafficking here; it’s layers of crimes, and not all the crimes may have been charged and prosecuted as expected more than 10 years ago but neither the victims nor the public yet know because the government hid this information. It’s this last point where Marra’s decision was relevant, and may still be important if it can shed light on what went wrong in holding Epstein and possible unindicted co-conspirators accountable.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, you feel free to let loose. My argument is not with what you said, but in insuring that the sanctity of pleas and binding agreements in criminal prosecutions not be violated because of public outrage. That is not defending Epstein, it is defending the rule of law, even when it is uncomfortable. If you cannot understand that, then I got nothing. We shall see what SDNY really has.

          Harpie and Eureka, that quote Carrie made from the Miami Herald author is the most patently obvious thing ever. It is truly a “no shit” moment.

        • Rayne says:

          And there’s no possibility at all that a plea and non-prosecution agreement can be corrupt? that such an agreement is more sacred and inviolable than the rights of victims? ~smh~

          Yes, we shall see what SDNY really has.

      • Eureka says:

        Leaving these here for reference.

        A snippet of text jumped out at me here:

        Marra, in a 33-page opinion, said prosecutors not only violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act by not informing the victims, they also misled the girls into believing that the FBI’s sex trafficking case against Epstein was still ongoing — when in fact, prosecutors had secretly closed it after sealing the plea bargain from the public record.

        I know the significance here is that the deception helped abridge the rights of the victims to protest the plea agreement, but now wonder at the meaning of the fed investigation having been closed then in allowing fed charges now about acts back then. Guess it depends on the globality of the NPA…

        Also, Boies asserts:

        “As a legal matter, the non-prosecution agreement entered into by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida does not bind other U.S. Attorneys in other districts. They are free, if they conclude it is appropriate to do so, to bring criminal actions against Mr. Epstein and his co-conspirators,’’ said lawyer David Boies, representing two of Epstein’s victims who claim they were trafficked by Epstein in New York and other areas of the country.

        From Feb 21, 2019– I’m sure these were posted/discussed at the time here in comments but don’t have those links:

        Jeffrey Epstein case: Federal prosecutors broke law, judge says


        Additional background, from Feb 6th:

        Justice Department to investigate Jeffrey Epstein plea deal

    • Rayne says:

      That occurred to me as well; I’d wondered last week if Trump have a meltdown because he was notified that he’s mentioned in the papers to be unsealed related to Epstein’s non-prosecution prosecution?

      When news of Epstein’s arrest came out last night I wondered instead if Trump had been notified about the warrant. Neither of these possibilities look good at all.

  30. bmaz says:

    Rayne at 10:48 am – Of course there is. But that does not mean you get to unilaterally vacate it out of outrage. The criminal justice system depends on the finality of such things, at least after any applicable appellate time has expired.

    This is an instructive case. We will see where it goes, and how. The indictment will be the first clue. I went and found the NPA, and it is indeed global as to “offenses against the United States”, and that would include SDNY. So the indictment is going to have to specify offenses after the execution of the NPA. And they may well have that. But that is what to watch for.

    And I would add one other thing: This new “investigation” was demanded of the DOJ by members of Congress, and yet does not involve Congress directly in any regard. It was preening. Congress publicly jamming the DOJ into criminal action is no more appropriate than Trump doing so when it is not directly related to their business.

    • BobCon says:

      The other thing I’m trying to temper my expectations about is whether this goes any farther than Epstein. I realize there are hints of another unnamed person being revealed, it’s always possible it’s someone fairly unremarkable like a driver or accountant.

      As much as I would like to see Acosta or Dershowitz or even Trump go down, I have to start with the assumption that this case is much narrower than that, and Epstein won’t see any reason to provide testimony about anyone else. We’ll see.

      • bmaz says:

        Yes. And there were many aiders and abetters. But the time issue and coverage of the NPA are in play for more than Epstein. Was it all heinous and wrong? Sure. Does that permit undoing it now? I do not know, but there are a million questions there. The answers will start to form tomorrow with release of the charging doc.

        • klynn says:

          There are rumblings that charges could happen in Ohio as well. Just rumblings, nothing concrete.

        • P J Evans says:

          He had a place in New Mexico, also. I wonder, since it seems to be a serious “habit”, what went on there. (I suspect that the authorities are going to be looking into it.)

        • Rayne says:

          Yeah, I saw that in Bill Clinton’s statement, which didn’t mention Epstein’s Paris home. That expressly inserted address almost felt like loaf-sized bread crumb, like somebody in New Mexico should have already been investigating Epstein there AND asking why the original prosecution was so narrow.

          I am seriously beginning to wonder if one of the reasons why Bush admin got rid of some U.S. Attorneys was because the existing ones wouldn’t look away from this stuff. Remember David Iglesias was the USA for NM when he was fired by Bush admin during the US Attorney scandal.

        • bmaz says:

          Mark Bennett advises there is a DOJ policy that will severely undercut any attempt by Epstein to claim the NPA was intended to be global:

          It is important that non-prosecution agreements be drawn in terms that will not bind other federal prosecutors or agencies without their consent. Thus, if practicable, the attorney for the government should explicitly limit the scope of his/her agreement to non-prosecution within his/her district. If such a limitation is not practicable and it can reasonably be anticipated that the agreement may affect prosecution of the person in other districts, the attorney for the government contemplating such an agreement shall communicate the relevant facts to the appropriate United States Attorney and/or Assistant Attorney General. United States Attorneys may not make agreements that prejudice other litigating divisions, without the agreement of all affected divisions. See also JM 9-16.000 et seq. for more information regarding plea agreements.

          That is going be a problem for him in SDNY, as there is clearly no specific sign off by the SDNY office on the NPA. I suspect he will argue that was intended, but hard to see a court buying that argument in light of the specific policy.

    • holdingsteady says:

      I have had this question on my mind all day, so finally I’ll put it out there…
      When plea deals are made by prosecutors that give defendants a lenient sentence compared to the crime, what is the role of the judge, i.e., should the judge weigh in if the plea deal is seemingly too lenient?

      • bmaz says:

        Pleas are worth nothing more than the bulk copy paper they are printed on and signed on, until…..they are put in front of the court on the record, reviewed, and accepted by a judge.

        That said, what the public, often operating on very thin and often incomplete, information, considers “too lenient” may often have far more critical things undergirding them. And sometimes they don’t! You never know. But, yes, there is indeed an allocution, to a judge, and a finding of propriety on the record involved.

Comments are closed.