March 5, 2021 / by 

 

Merrick Garland Is Killing It

The SJC hearing is on the major cable channels and CSPAN. Streaming everywhere too I assume. It is really good viewing, as these things go. Yes, Ted Cruz came across as applicant to replace Sean Hannity. Yes Chris Coons preened for the cameras.

I generally have a fair amount of criticism for Ben Sasse, but he did extremely well today. Surprisingly so. Pat Leahy, despite a bit of rambling pontificating, did as well.

I would love to have a cross-examiner with a killer instinct like Katie Porter in the SJC.

Bottom line is that Merrick Garland is absolutely slaying this hearing.


Stars, Guitars and Gear Trash Talk

Now two weekends post Super Bowl. F1 is quietly gearing up, though there is nothin overly interesting until March 26-28, and it is now somehow in the authoritarian hellhole of Bahrain, where F1 should not even be, instead of Australia. So there is not much in the Trash Talk world right not. But it seems a talk thread might be useful for decompression.

There is one thing of note, the wonderful Naomi Osaka has just won her fourth slam at the Australian. Next to Serena and Venus, Osaka already has more Slams than any other woman currently playing. Doubt she will really catch up Serena (23), much less Margaret Smith Court (24), but a hell of a start on her career, and she can really play. Some real competition in that rarified air though, with Fraulein Forehand Steffi Graff at 22, Helen Wills Moody at 19, and Martina and Chrissy both at 18. Osaka is a real breath of fresh air.

A while back, somebody mentioned guitars in the middle of one of Rayne’s threads and I, wrongfully, responded and helped hijack her post’s comment section. My bad. So, since we do do music here too, and in lieu of nothing else, a real post for such discussion.

So, without further adieu, here is what is in the comfy confines of Casa de Bmaz. The main axe is a black Fender Strat. It plugs into a Crate Twin Twelve mostly tube amp. No, the Crate was not my choice, it literally got thrown in for $100 or something by the guy I bought the pristine (seriously, the thing had the original price tag on it and came in a hard Gator case) Stratocaster. That was impossible to turn down, but since I don’t play much, has been sufficient to keep me from procuring the Marshall half stack I have always wanted. So, yay and ugh at the same time.

Also have an acoustic, it is an Olympia, which is made by Fender. It could use some new strings about now, but it is really pretty nice. It is a hand me down from when Mrs. Bmaz decided she wanted to learn to play guitar and bought it. I told her bar chords were necessary, and hard, especially on an acoustic. That foray didn’t last too long, and while not what I would have bought on my own, it is now mine, and, again, it is not bad at all. Don’t play it much either.

But wait, there are more instruments here!. We also have a handmade beautiful harp. No, not the huge variety, but the thing is really sweet. Another Mrs. Bmaz acquisition. Thing is, Lady Bmaz is, by a light year, the only real musician here. She has played piano since was a small child, and was at one point a real bonafide prodigy. She can not play for a year and still whip off concert level stuff.

Which brings up what got me going on this music equipment thing. A piano. A friend is aging and cleaning up some stuff and has just given us a Steinway baby grand. Have not even gotten it yet, and it will cost a small fortune to get professionally moved. We already had a Kawai baby, but this is too good to pass up.

Am sure Rosalind will drop in, and so must mention the ukulele here. Think it may have come across on the Lusitania or something, and at some point got a fraternity tattoo on by an in-law. It was rescued from said in-law’s basement when they were moving on out. Think Rosalind looked at it, if not tried to play it. That is more than I have ever done.

Music today is Bite The Bullet by Neil Young and Crazy Horse, from American Stars and Bars, and it is spectacular. So, what gear you have, and why? Chat it up.


On Conspiracy

In comments, Harpie went back to Elizabeth de la Vega’s summary of conspiracy.

Since Eureka brought this up above, I figured it might be timely to post it again:

Conspiracy Law – Eight Things You Need to Know.
One: Co-conspirators don’t have to explicitly agree to conspire & there doesn’t need to be a written agreement; in fact, they almost never explicitly agree to conspire & it would be nuts to have a written agreement!
Two: Conspiracies can have more than one object- i.e. conspiracy to defraud U.S. and to obstruct justice. The object is the goal. Members could have completely different reasons (motives) for wanting to achieve that goal.
Three: All co-conspirators have to agree on at least one object of the conspiracy.
Four: Co-conspirators can use multiple means to carry out the conspiracy, i.e., releasing stolen emails, collaborating on fraudulent social media ops, laundering campaign contributions.
Five: Co-conspirators don’t have to know precisely what the others are doing, and, in large conspiracies, they rarely do.
Six: Once someone is found to have knowingly joined a conspiracy, he/she is responsible for all acts of other co-conspirators.
Seven: Statements of any co-conspirator made to further the conspiracy may be introduced into evidence against any other co-conspirator.
Eight: Overt Acts taken in furtherance of a conspiracy need not be illegal. A POTUS’ public statement that “Russia is a hoax,” e.g., might not be illegal (or even make any sense), but it could be an overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

de la Vega has been consistently good on conspiracy going back to the first failed impeachment effort and the lead up to it. I posted this at least once before, think on a post I penned, but not sure, so am going to put this out here again.

At any rate, here are a set of model jury instructions (that I have previously patterned off of for real trials) for a conspiracy case. They are for a drug case, but conspiracy is conspiracy, and the law is pretty much the same, and has long been. What Harpie cited from de la Vega is correct. But to give you a look at how it actually goes down in a court, check out actual pattern jury instructions, because real instructions are always the guide in a real criminal trial. Substitute in the elements for 18 USC §373 and 18 USC §2101, or any of the other various putative crimes being discussed ad nauseam and you will get the picture.

As you read through them, keep in mind the question of “what holes could a competent criminal defense attorney drive a truck through here given a beyond a reasonable doubt burden?”

Now would Trump acquire an actually competent criminal defense attorney were, in the unlikely event he is really charged? Now there is a great question! But, if he were to, there are currently still a LOT of holes. People are getting ahead of themselves. Read the instructions, they scan pretty fast. But keep in mind that once you charge and put a defendant, any defendant, on trial, things are not as easy as they are here or on social media.


Trump Impeachment II – The Beginning

And so it begins any minute now. Don’t fret, it will not take long, because Pelosi, Schumer and the Dems have so decreed out of political cowardice. Is that politically expedient at the start of the nascent Biden Administration? Maybe! But they all took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not their political expediency.

So where are we at the onset of proceedings?

The tentative schedule is this:

First, there will be a debate over the “Constitutionality” of even holding and impeachment trial at all. This is a ridiculous argument, and will fail, but with much cowardly GOP Senate support.

There will be up to four hours equally divided between the impeachment managers and the president’s counsel to debate the constitutionality of the trial. Again, that will fail as to Trump. Then there will be sixteen hours per side to argue their case. It will be predictable baloney from both sides, with no actual evidence submitted and admitted. And, no, “video presentations” do not count, that is simply argument by propaganda. Each party’s arguments are delimited by not being able to go over two days, and cannot exceed eight hours each.

“After the presentations are done, senators will have a total of four hours to question both sides. Then there will be four hours divided equally between the parties for arguments on whether the Senate will consider motions to subpoena witnesses and documents, if requested by the managers.

There will be up to four hours equally divided for closing arguments, along with deliberation time if requested by the senators before the vote takes place.”

Much of the above, though not all, came from an excellent report by Barbara Sprunt and Diedre Walsh at NPR.

Is this year another stupid and truncated show trial by Pelosi, Schumer and the Dems, in order to look like they are doing something while they are cowering? Of course it is. Same as it ever was.

There will also be discussion of an “organizing resolution”. Don’t fall for that, the parameters have already been agreed to behind the scenes.

Lastly, while joint stipulations may always be made, otherwise the general parameters are controlled by the extant Senate Rules on Impeachment. They are here for your reference.

And here is Leahy’s feckless “Dear Colleagues” letter.


The Pandemic Super Bowl LV

There is a game today in the NFL, and the last one for a good long while. As you may have heard there are a couple of decent quarterbacks involved. One is hands down the best in the league now, and the other is quite arguably the best in the league ever. So, there is that, and it has gotten most of the hype. But there are some other liner notes to hit.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s son, Brett, is an assistant coach on the team (linebackers). Brett Reid was involved in a terrible accident Thursday night, and he admitted to having been drinking. Two children were our, one of them critically. Reid the younger did not travel with the team, and, obviously won’t be coaching. As long as father Andy is there, the Chiefs should be okay, but this has to be a distraction. Now before people get all ginned up about why he is not yet under arrest, I don’t know, but will lay pretty good odds that the police and state’s attorney want to get the actual blood test results back before charging and arresting. Even expedited, that doesn’t happen overnight. But, irrespective, Brett Reid is in for some serious trouble, especially as he has previous drug and road rage incidents. Also, apparently Chefs DC Steve Sagnoulo’s wife makes killer meatballs that powered the defense through last year’s Super Bowl win, but she couldn’t get them there this year for Covid reasons. That has to crush Honey Badger and friends!

On the Tampa side, they of course did not have to travel. Brady and Bruce Arians have mostly settled in with each other, are having fun, and Gronk too. They seem to be pretty fast and loose right now, which given this stage, is a very good thing. Tampa’s defense is underrated, actually pretty darn good. But can they slow down Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce? They sure had a problem in that regard earlier in the year. But Tampa has some pretty killer receivers too with Gronk, Brate, Godwin, Evans, Scotty Miller and Antonio Brown. Mahomes is too fast, and too slick, he is going to get his passes off. The key likely comes down to whether the Bucs can sufficiently protect Brady so he does too. And the Chiefs will be coming hard and furiously for Brady from start to finish. The Chefs sure seem the better team overall, but it is hard to discount old Father Time Brady, and I won’t. If forced to bet, I’d take KC; thank goodness I don’t have to.

There entertainment is some guy called the Weekend. Never heard of him. Is it Saturday, Sunday, or all weekend? Ah well, though there were storms last night and early this morning, but things are looking pretty good now and for the game

Music today is for Eureka, and I have renamed the Robert Palmer classic “There’s No Telling Where Carson Went”. Have some fun folks!


Donnie The Wimp And His Impeachment Coffin

There was a pretty astounding report by CNN early this morning depicting the, and I am being kind here, disarray in Trump’s impeachment defense. The gist is this:

Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, who were expected to be two of the lead attorneys, are no longer on the team. A source familiar with the changes said it was a mutual decision for both to leave the legal team. As the lead attorney, Bowers assembled the team.
Josh Howard, a North Carolina attorney who was recently added to the team, has also left, according to another source familiar with the changes. Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris, from South Carolina, are no longer involved with the case, either.

No other attorneys have announced they are working on Trump’s impeachment defense.

A person familiar with the departures told CNN that Trump wanted the attorneys to argue there was mass election fraud and that the election was stolen from him rather than focus on the legality of convicting a president after he’s left office. Trump was not receptive to the discussions about how they should proceed in that regard.

That sounds ominous!

But here is the part that even more stuck out to me:

“As the lead attorney, Bowers assembled the team.”

and, most notably,

“The attorneys had not yet been paid any advance fees and a letter of intent was never signed.”

Lol, for the uninitiated, that means Trump never paid a dime as to a retainer, and never signed a fee agreement. That not only is inappropriate, in most jurisdictions it is, in and of itself, unethical. Even when the lawyer is agreeing to do work pro bono, there is a retainer agreement. Always, because real lawyers don’t blithely hang their asses out on the line without specified parameters. That is just how it is.

As I said on Twitter:

A rather large discussion ensued. Go look if you so desire, but I will stand by that for now. No, I do not really know, but it almost makes sense.

Trump is not cash rich. Expending collected campaign funds to perpetrate a fraudulent defense might be a dicey proposition. And no competent attorneys are lining up to pitch that. Trump may literally be down to Rudy and Jenna Ellis. Dershowitz and Jon Turley are squirrely as shit, but even they may not be that stupid.

So, where art thou go Donald?


Just Another Manic Sunday Conference Championship In Pandemic

The time is here. First game of the day, Bucs at Packers, starts in less than an hour. Never pick against the Pack at home, but the Bucs and Brady may give them a game on the Tundra. I have no clue how it plays out, and make no pick. Yes, it is probably cowardly of me.

The second game is Bills at Chefs. On paper, this is an easy pick. Games are not played on paper though. on the field, there is no way to sell the Bills short as to having cause to be here. They are great, and a great story. I, again, will coward out and have no clue how it unfolds.

Two great matchups and four great, and admirable, teams. That is how it should be. Games on!

Mondays may be manic, but the Bangles knew/wished Sundays were too. There is goodness that there is no Trump dick wagging on social media to interrupt this day. Let’s have some fun, and rock the day.


Larry King Is Dead, Long Live The King

Probably the world knows by now that broadcasting legend Larry King has died at 87. He was not necessarily a journalist, per se, even if news was often broken on his show. He was a massive media presence, and a good one. Unlike so many others, he did not get in the way of his guests and interviewees letting themselves be themselves, for better or worse.

CNN is doing some larger biography, and it is worth watching for a little bit. But King brought together Rabin, Hussein and Arafat on a TV show. You don’t see that every day. Then there was all the OJ Simpson charges and trial coverage. There are a lot of people still in the public view today that came out of that. Some rightfully, some not as much so.

As a parting thought, some love for Ted Turner. He took King off of late night talk radio, that I sometimes listened to on a timed clock radio while falling asleep, before his CNN TV gig, to grow the fledgling CNN. Ted Turner innovated so much it is almost silly. Elon Musk will never, even in his dreams, accomplish as much as the great Ted Turner.

Do you have any memories?


NFL Divisional Playoffs In Pandemic Trash Talk

Greetings to all fans, whether you are scoring at home, or alone in isolation. It is pretty remarkable that the NFL has made it this far without blowing up from Covid. Yet here they are down to four games this weekend, and most of the teams are pretty healthy and ready to go. So, let’s get to it.

First up is the Rams at Packers. The Rams allowed the fewest points in the league this year. The Packers scored the most. No signs of snow by reports, but it will be around 32º with light to moderate wind. The Packers know how to play on the famously frozen tundra, but their record of never, or at least rarely, losing at Lambeau in the playoffs does not have the lock it once had. They can be had at home. The Rams were pretty high on young John Wolford at QB, but he is out for today and Jarred Goff is back in the saddle, bum thumb and all, and Blake Bortles will back him up. The Pack defense is certainly not on the level of the Rams, but they are solid. If Rodgers is Rodgers, the Pack should win, but this is probably a lot closer than folks would expect.

Second game up for Saturday is Ravens at Bills. This may well turn out to be the best game of the weekend. Both teams have young QB’s that can run in addition to throwing, and given the weather in Buffalo, that will likely be necessary. When it comes to passing though, the edge would seem to go to Buffalo with Josh Allen and Stephon Diggs, the best receiver in the NFL this year. Curiously, Baltimore has made running back Marl Ingraham a healthy scratch. That is weird as this is exactly the kind of game Ingraham is made for. It is close, but a majority of the experts, both on local sports talk radio, and on TV, seem to favor the Ravens to win this. So do the odds makers. I’m not so sure, and will very tentatively take the Bills in a close game.

Early game Sunday is Browns at Chiefs. The Brownies are a great story this year and are playing with some swagger. They are not the Browns of the last 25 years. The Chef’s defense is not nearly as good as Cleveland’s. On the other hand, KC has the once in a generation wizardry of Patrick Mahomes, a dual headed monster at RB with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. And, of course huge weapons in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. They will, however, be without Sammy Watkins to take attention away from Hill. This could go any number of ways, but I am not going to bet against Mahomes and Andy Reid. Nope, no can do.

The coda on the weekend’s games is the battle of the Geezer QBs. The B boys, Brady and Brees. You know who they are by now. They have never met in the playoffs. During the regular season, the Saints owned the Bucs. In fairness, Tampa Bay finally gelled down the end stretch of the regular season and is playing much better now, and has also integrated Antonio Brown into their gam much better. With Chris Godwin and Mike Evans (both a tad nicked up, but ready to play), that is one hell of a set of receivers. Oh, and there is that Gronk guy healthy and ready to rumble at TE. Saints have the outstanding Alvin Kamara at RB, and Bucs have Fournette and Ronald Jones. By a slim margin, most of the experts, including Vegas, favor the Saints. They are at home, but without the usual crowd advantage that would portend. I have no idea how it will go, so will simply call it a tossup.

Music today by the incomparable Thin Lizzy. Man, I miss those boys. But rock and roll and tilt a cold one.


Advancing Our Country Forward, A Security Perspective

TOPSHOT – Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. – Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

[Hi, bmaz here, I am posting this from our beloved Roving Reporter Rosalind. She knows a bit about highly charged security issues, give it a read please.]

I spent my 20s and 30s working in large-scale concert production working for rock promoter Bill Graham Presents, dealing with crowds from 20,000 to 60,000 people packed into one defined area. In preparation for each show production staff would go through a procedure called “advancing the show”. As most tours were routed east to west, our production manager would call the band’s production manager after the tour had been underway and go through the production rider – the contract detailing the staging requirements – to confirm details and cover any surprises that had cropped up. Added equipment that made the truck pack go slower triggering overtime, feuding band members who needed their dressing rooms separated, a health issue requiring a local doctor to be on call backstage.

The most critical staff member for advancing the show was our Head of Security. She would call her counterpart at a venue where the band had already played to get their after-show report. At the end of each show the Security Head writes up the report detailing any arrests, what charges, how drunk, how many security staff were assigned, what time alcohol sales were cut off, what time the gates opened, what procedures were used to screen the crowd, notes on anything that should be done differently the next time. Each show required a different security set-up, based on the audience profile.

As most acts toured every summer, a level of institutional knowledge built up about what to expect but you never took anything for granted. When you have 20,000 people in the audience and 200 security staff keeping watch, the art of crowd psychology becomes critical to ensuring a safe event. Add in gravity, with the audience angled up, if anything triggered an unexpected mass movement down there would be no way of stopping it.

To keep things in control, you start at the gates, doing a thorough search to catch contraband items, especially anything that can be used as a weapon. Alcohol sales are monitored and cut off early if people are over-indulging. You start the show on time, end it on time. Security watches the crowd, not the show, ready to step in quickly should anything pop up. The key is to catch a situation before it has a chance to spread. At the end of a show the audience may see those in front suddenly move into the aisles and head down to the stage to dance and sing and exult in their proximity to their idols. While this may look like a moment of spontaneity, 95% of the time this is a pre-planned maneuver called “releasing the aisles”. It is done in coordination with band security, allowing the audience a release while keeping everyone safe. The other 5% of the time is when a performer, often an overnight sensation who has never before played to a huge venue, gazes up at her 20,000 adoring fans and invites them to “come on down!!” (looking at you, Madonna). Security has to spring into emergency action to keep the audience within their sections and prevent an out of control stampede.

Watching the horror unfold on January 6th in Washington, D.C. at our People’s House has prompted my memories of how to conduct proper security, and how not to. As soon as I saw the barricade set-up I got a pit in my stomach, correctly predicting someone would get crushed and suffocated or trampled to death. I immediately flashed back to my worst concert experience from a crowd safety standpoint: a Neil Young & Pearl Jam show at The Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington State.

The show was put on by a different promoter, and my friend and I were there to see the show and hang with our friends on the band production staff. When it was close to showtime we made our way to the area in front of the stage and looked at each other in alarm. Before us was a standing room area, then a steep cliff, then a large section of bleacher seats perched at the top overlooking. The lower standing room area was bisected by temporary fencing to carve out a VIP section at the very front. The people behind were literally forced to look through a fucking fence to see the stage. You now have a pissed off section of audience wanting to be up there in first class and not stuck back here in steerage. Worse, the temporary fencing was poorly installed and in one look we knew it would never hold. A man on the other side of the fence agreed, and we watched as he walked along the perimeter, methodically punching it every few feet, the security guard oblivious. It was obvious he was testing for the weakest link, and the moment the show started he would make his move. Meanwhile way up top a man began to climb down the cliff face, holding onto bits of shrubbery, until gravity took hold and he plummeted down landing at the back of steerage. The crowd roared. Another man immediately stepped up to take the plunge.

My friend and I ran backstage and explained the situation to our band production buds, begging them to get the promoter to take down the temporary fencing, but for whatever reasons they did not share our concern. We went back out front and watched and waited. The moment the band hit the stage the recon guy threw his full body weight into the fence, toppling it over onto people on the other side, trapping them underneath where they got trampled as people poured through the hole. At the same time body after body came plunging down the cliff, landing in a heap. My friend and I pushed to the front of the stage, waving our arms wildly, screaming at the band, trying to get their attention, the crew’s attention. Finally they stopped the show and tried to calm the crowd while personnel went to the aid of the people crushed under the fence. Injured people carried out, remaining fence taken down, steerage merged in with first class, the show restarted.

That the promoter made it out of that show with only broken bones and no deaths is nothing short of a miracle. In the aftermath, the Gorge was completely re-done, the cliff dug out to turn it into a more conventional amphitheatre configuration. I hear it’s beautiful. I haven’t been back.

As the country grapples with the ongoing repercussions of the Trump insurrectionists, the pressure for a knee jerk reaction to the security failure is gonna be huge. To encase the Capitol in a barricade bubble with armed security on every corner. This will be a tragic mistake. There will be much more to come out in the weeks ahead to fill in the who, what and why. But what’s already known shows that the Trumpists have been “testing the fences” for months and years now, zeroing in on the weak links in full view. Preparing for the start of show, and the moment their Glorious Leader invites them all to storm the stage.

We do not need a massive increase in the number of police personnel. We do need a massive increase in thinking outside the conventional box. To be pro-active, and stop trouble in its tracks before it can spread. Unfortunately, tragically, almost all levers of power in our Country have worked together to soften and excuse the growing crisis of Americans taking up arms to promote their white supremacist beliefs and QAnon conspiracies, standing by as the groups target our fellow citizens for violence. That any politician or law enforcement official can profess shock at the Capitol Siege is to confess their sin of complicity before the world. They watched the toxic clouds erupt all across our nation, streaming towards D.C., but told themselves soothing fairytales to sleep at night. They’ve now awoken to our collective nightmare where democracy destroying extremists are embedded at every level of our society, from law enforcement to the top tiers of government. And we will be forced to work furiously to counteract this poison for years to come.

Back at Bill Graham Presents, we did not prepare security plans for a particular concert based on the color of the audience’s skin, or their political beliefs, or social standing. We based it on verifiable facts, a proven track record and shared information to keep our decisions rooted in current events. There are hundreds of trained concert security personnel sitting at home, waiting for the touring industry to re-start. I say we bring a brigade of these folk to D.C. to consult with Congress and the District of Columbia leadership on ways to re-think crowd control and security. To make them better understand the intricacies of crowd psychology and mob psychology. To illustrate how the current protest preparations are flipped, with the “audience” that has a proven track record of being peaceful is deemed violent and gassed & smashed before they’ve made it through the front gate, while the “audience” storming State Capitols is given a light pat down and friendly smile.

The first area I’d welcome rock’n’roll security is on either side of the new metal detector inside Congress. I guarantee you not one single shitheel Republican will be able to arrogantly push their way past or sneak a loaded gun into the Chamber. Our crew don’t let any unauthorized motherfuckers backstage.

Copyright © 2021 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/author/bmaz/