Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Brennan: CIA Was Original Source of Trump-Russia Investigation

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My God. Please just read this Kevin Drum post. I think it may be “Game over” for the U.S.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 May 2017 at 1:05 pm

The GOP has no principles whatsoever: Latest rule change to benefit themselves

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And it’s purely to benefit themselves. If the Democrats become a majority in the Senate, the GOP will immediately whine about this rule and say it is unfair to them. The GOP places high value on loyalty, no value at all on fairness. See this interesting chart. And read this brief explanation of why.

GOP talks of narrowing ‘blue-slip’ rule for judges, in The Hill, by Lydia Wheeler.

And please read this great post by Kevin Drum.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 May 2017 at 1:50 pm

Posted in Congress, GOP, Politics

Trump is evangelicals’ ‘dream president.’ Here’s why.

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Michael Gerson has a good column in the Washington Post:

Even in an era of marriage diversity, it remains the most unlikely match: President Trump and his loyal evangelical base. In the compulsively transgressive, foul-mouthed, loser-disdaining, mammon-worshiping billionaire, conservative Christians “have found their dream president,” according to Jerry Falwell Jr.

It is a miracle, of sorts.

In a recent analysis, the Pew Research Center found that more than three-fourths of white evangelical Christians approve of Trump’s job performance, most of them “strongly.” With these evangelicals comprising about a quarter of the electorate, their support is the life jacket preventing Trump from slipping into unrecoverable political depths.

The essence of Trump’s appeal to conservative Christians can be found in his otherwise anodyne commencement speech at Liberty University. “Being an outsider is fine,” Trump said. “Embrace the label.” And then he promised: “As long as I am your president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith.” Trump presented evangelicals as a group of besieged outsiders, in need of a defender.

This sense of grievance and cultural dispossession — the common ground between The Donald and the faithful — runs deep in evangelical Christian history. . .

Continue reading.

He concludes the column:

. . . In the Trump era, evangelicals have gotten a conservative Supreme Court justice for their pains — which is significant. And they have gotten a leader who shows contempt for those who hold them in contempt — which is emotionally satisfying.

The cost? Evangelicals have become loyal to a leader of shockingly low character. They have associated their faith with exclusion and bias. They have become another Washington interest group, striving for advantage rather than seeking the common good. And a movement that should be known for grace is now known for its seething resentments.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 May 2017 at 11:38 am

Intriguing column by Jennifer Rubin: “The next FBI director”

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She writes in the Washington Post:

The Post reports:

Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the second-ranking Senate Republican who has in recent weeks become a more outward defender of President Trump, and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, who on Thursday contradicted the Trump White House on a range of topics, will interview Saturday to serve as the FBI’s permanent director, according to people familiar with the matter.

The men are two of at least four people who will interview to replace James B. Comey, whom Trump suddenly fired earlier this week, the people said.

The others are Alice Fisher, a white-collar defense lawyer who previously led the Justice Department’s criminal division, and Michael J. Garcia, a judge on the New York State Court of Appeals who previously served as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Other names mentioned include two partisans, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and former congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who were enmeshed in the Benghazi investigations that ultimately went nowhere. The notion that a partisan Republican would even be considered suggests a lack of appreciation for the damage done to the president’s credibility and the independence of the Russia investigation.

Among those interviewing the next director is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose participation in the firing of James B. Comey raises ethical and legal questions. Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general whose memo was used as a pretext for firing Comey, is also participating. How are we to know if the contenders will be asked about the ongoing investigation? How will we know they will not be selected because they hint at a jaundiced view of the Russia investigation? (The investigation has metastasized with the report that the Justice Department is seeking “banking records of Paul Manafort as part of a widening of probes related to President Donald Trump’s former campaign associates and whether they colluded with Russia in interfering with the 2016 election.”) We won’t — unless the president’s conversations are in fact being recorded.

Democrats are threatening to stall the hearings on a new FBI director unless Rosenstein agrees to name a special counsel (to replace himself in overseeing the FBI probe into Russian interference in the election). However, they may reconsider after hearing his testimony next week in a briefing for all 100 senators. He may provide information and/or establish credibility with the Senate that persuades both Republicans and Democrats to leave him in place to continue investigating the Russia affair.

There is no downside for Democrats and for conscientious Republicans in refusing to move forward with a permanent FBI director. For now, McCabe is doing the job. He’s the one person who we know Trump, Sessions and Rosenstein would have had no role in influencing. It’s not even clear the partisan Republicans will want a confirmation hearing for a new FBI director. This would devolve into a tutorial on obstruction of justice, queries about a White House taping system, a reaffirmation of the conclusion that Russia meddled in our election (which would contradict the president) and a critique of Trump’s alleged conversations with Comey.

The one measure that Congress does have within its power is appointment of a special commission or select committee, which would be within Congress’s domain. (The former would likely require legislation, which might need to be passed on a veto-proof majority.) . . .

Continue reading.

Do read the rest. Quite a punchline.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 May 2017 at 2:15 pm

A Malibu lawyer is upending California’s political system, one town at a time

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Robin Abcarian reports in the LA Times:

Kevin Shenkman, who is tall and bookish, does not look like the aspiring light heavyweight boxer he once was.

Clearly, though, he still relishes a good fight.

For the past several years, Shenkman, 38, who lives and practices law in Malibu, has been suing, or threatening to sue, cities all over Southern California, demanding they change the way they elect members of their city councils in order to increase the numbers of African-American and Latino representatives.

Many have agreed to do so, though some have resisted before capitulating.

Shenkman’s legal cudgel is the California Voter Rights Act, which for 15 years has made it easier for minority groups to prove that they are disenfranchised by at-large elections, where all voters of a city vote for all members of a city council.

Many believe this practice has institutionalized racial discrimination, allowing blocs of white voters to overwhelm the choices of blacks and Latinos. Until Shenkman sued Palmdale, for instance, where about two-thirds of residents are minorities, only one Latino, a Republican, had ever been elected to office.

“Obviously, the leadership did not represent the people they served,” said Darren Parker, who serves as chairman of the California Democratic Party’s African-American Caucus. “I’ve lived in the Antelope Valley for over 30 years, and had been trying to obtain some sort of equity or diversity in the leadership.”

In 2012, Parker decided the only way to change things was to sue the city for violating the California Voter Rights Act. He did some research and found a story about a young attorney who had sued Panda Express for failing to disclose that it put chicken broth in its steamed vegetables. Something about that appealed to Parker, who had once worked for McDonald’s, so he phoned Shenkman.

“When he called, I told Darren I had no idea what he was talking about, but I thought, ‘I’m a Democrat, and this sounds important, I’ll look into it,’” Shenkman told me. He asked his law partner, Mary Hughes, who happens to be his wife, what she thought. “She said, ‘You are crazy.’ I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do this.’ ”

He contacted three voting-rights experts — constitutional law professor Justin Levitt of Loyola Law school, Cal Tech history professor Morgan Kausser and demographer David Ely — who helped him figure out how to approach the case, and then brought in two experienced trial lawyers, R. Rex Parris (who happens to be the mayor of Lancaster) and Milton Grimes, perhaps best-known as the late Rodney King’s attorney.

Shenkman expected the Palmdale case to resolve quickly, but the city fought back. In 2013, the case went to trial. Palmdale lost. A judge ordered new, by-district elections.

In November, Palmdale elected its first Democratic Latino City Councilman, Juan Carillo, from a new district on the city’s east side, “one of our first success stories,” as Parker told me.

“I think Kevin was heaven-sent,” Parker said. “He is dedicated to serving others in spite of himself sometimes. I think he is so zealous that he forgets to eat and sleep.”

As the Voting Rights Act requires, Palmdale had to reimburse Shenkman’s legal costs, which were about $4.6 million.

Even if other cities didn’t see the benefit in switching to district elections for the right reasons, it soon became clear that moving to district elections was a sure way to avoid sky-high legal fees. Because they were probably going to lose.


Shenkman first came to my attention last week because he was the subject of a meandering profile on the Breitbart website, . . .

Continue reading.


. . . After he won in Palmdale, Shenkman was contacted by the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, a Lincoln Heights-based group with a decades-long history in “the voting rights business,” as its president Antonio Gonzalez put it. He considers district elections “a paramount tool in the voting rights toolbox.”

“Palmdale created a new conventional wisdom for cities, which is, ‘We are not going to win, so let’s work it out,’” Gonzales said. “We just sent another 15 demand letters, so we are up to 25 jurisdictions.”

Before the year is out, he said, “We’re going to do 100.”

As my colleague Phil Willon reported last month, out of California’s 482 cities, only 59 hold district elections, and no city that holds at-large elections has ever prevailed in a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

14 May 2017 at 12:23 pm

Bosses who demand personal loyalty from their subordinates

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The usual reason a boss demands loyalty to him (or her) personally, rather than to (say) the Constitution or the company, or the ethics of one’s profession is because the boss wants to know if s/he does something wrong, whether you will help cover it up. The boss foresees that there may be a conflict between what s/he wants and what the law, regulations, ethics, standards, etc., require, and s/he wants your commitment that you will let those go in favor of the boss.

Loyalty is good or bad, depending on what you’re loyal to. When Donald Trump asked for James Comey’s loyalty, it seems pretty obvious that Trump was in effect asking Comey to shut down the Russia investigation: loyalty to Trump above loyalty to law.

However, it’s worth noting that conservatives value loyalty as a primary virtue, whereas liberals value fairness and reciprocity as the primary virtues. More here: Conservatives VS. Liberals.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 May 2017 at 10:17 am

Posted in Politics

“Winners and Losers of the Recent Nuclear Holocaust”

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Dan Cluchey in McSweeney’s:

The nation was recently rocked by retaliatory nuclear blasts that have turned much of America into a barren wasteland, decimating the population, triggering the rise of firestorms and supervolcanoes, and generally bringing civilization to the brink of collapse. Let’s take a look at the political fallout.


  • Congressional Republicans: Widespread destruction aside, this was a kumbaya moment for a caucus that has had its share of family spats of late. For the first time since coming together to narrowly pass the American Health Care Act in May, Speaker Paul Ryan wonkily persuaded the House GOP’s version of the Hatfields and McCoys — the principled hardliners of the Freedom Caucus on one hand, and the reasonable moderates of the Tuesday Group on the other — to set their bickering aside just long enough to squeak through a resolution in support of President Trump’s plan, tweeted out at 3:29 a.m. on Thursday morning, to “FRANCE IS LOOKING FOR TROUBLE. Sick country that won’t solve its own problems. Maybe nucluar?” Concerns that a more deliberative Senate would splash cold water on a rare show of Republican unity proved unfounded when Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the human fulcrum perched stoically at the precise center of American politics, revealed in a nationally televised special that she would vote to authorize nuclear war to balance out the fact that she had recently broken ranks with her party on an agriculture appropriations bill.
  • CNN: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 May 2017 at 5:06 pm

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