Sunday, May 28, 2017

When the Constitution is "anti-Trump"

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator with
Scott V. Sandiford, Justice Correspondent

Another Sunday and those wacky out-of-touch liberals are playing on the New York Times News of the Week in Review!  (Just kidding about the name – the Times stopped summarizing the week's news a while back and now just stuffs the section with columnists and freelance memoirists who thrill us with tales usually along the lines of How I Found My Wonderful Husband).

Nick Kristof, last heard from bemoaning how mean those liberals are to the salt-of-the-earth Trump voters, tells us about a posse of religious nut jobs in Florida who forced an 11-year-old girl to marry her rapist.  Boy those liberals have a lot to answer for!

Further along, Maureen Dowd, not the author of the piece about finding the Wonderful Husband, sadly for journalism, today rubbishes the Grifter-in-Chief after first snarking about how dare Barack Obama enjoy his well-earned retirement.  Points for filing an entire column without smearing Hillary Clinton.

But enough with the Usual Suspects.  Today we'll spend some quality time with one Ross Douthat, who apparently is regarded as a brainy conservative because (1) he can write a sentence and (2) he understands that the Grifter-in-Chief is a corrupt catastrophe.  Doesn't take much, does it?  Today, he's branching out into Constitutional Law.

How'd it go?  He's criticizing the ratio decendi of International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, No. 17-1351 (4th Cir. May 25, 2017), the en banc decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals holding that the Grifter-in-Chief's Muslim ban violated the First Amendment because, um, it was designed to ban Muslims.   

His Lordship the Rt. Hon. Ross Douthat is not amused
by the temerity of the Fourth Circuit
Apparently the holding on the merits isn't what chapping Justice Douthat.  Based on his many, many years of studying jurisprudence, he's upset that plaintiffs were allowed to bring the case in the first place.  That the Fourth Circuit found the plaintiffs to have suffered a legally cognizable injury (or “standing”) as a result of the Grifter-in-Chief's poorly-disguised Muslim ban, is, according to Chancellor Douthat, nothing more than unprincipled “Trump law.”

Now we all remember Mr. Justice Douthat's stirring attack on the Supreme Court's partisan Voting Rights Act decision as similarly unprincipled, so let no one say his current concern is based on anything other than his heartfelt fealty to The Law.

In support of his view he cites not only the dissent, joined by three members of the 13-judge circuit, but the notorious jurisprudes at the National Review, last heard from opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  So you know that publication's views of what constitutes justice are entitled to a great deal of . . . deference.

To paraphrase that great legal mind Warner Wolf, let's go to the words!  The Fourth Circuit noted the following injuries that conferred standing on plaintiffs:
Doe #1— who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States, Muslim, and originally from Iran— filed a visa application on behalf of his wife, an Iranian national. Her application has been approved, and she is currently awaiting her consular interview. J.A. 305. If it took effect, EO-2 [the Grifter-in-Chief's Muslim Ban #2] would bar the entry of Doe #1’s wife. Doe #1 explains that because EO-2 bars his wife’s entry, it “forces [him] to choose between [his] career and being with [his] wife,” and he is unsure “whether to keep working here” as a scientist or to return to Iran. J.A. 306. Doe #1 adds that EO-2 has “created significant fear, anxiety, and insecurity” for him and his wife. He highlights the “statements that have been made about banning Muslims from entering, and the broader context,” and states, “I worry that I may not be safe in this country.” J.A. 306; see also J.A. 314 (Plaintiff Meteab describing how the “anti-Muslim sentiment motivating” EO- 2 has led him to feel “isolated and disparaged in [his] community”)
IRAP, slip op. at 34 (emphasis supplied).  Breaking up families to sate his supporters' lust for anti-Muslim discrimination sounds like a cognizable injury to us, if not to Ross Douthat, Q.C.  It also sounds like a legally cognizable injury to someone else: “The Government does not contest that, in some circumstances, the prolonged separation of family members can constitute an injury-in-fact.”  Id. at 35.

In fairness to m'lord Douthat, the jurisprudence relating to First Amendment standing is complex.  Maybe that's why the Fourth Circuit spent 12 pages discussing it and found a whole bunch of cases decided before the election of the Grifter-in-Chief that supported its position:
Plaintiffs’ injuries are also consistent with the injuries that other courts have recognized in Establishment Clause cases that do not involve religious displays or prayer. See Awad v. Ziriax, 670 F.3d 1111, 1122 (10th Cir. 2012) (recognizing injury stemming from amendment that “condemn[ed] [plaintiff’s] religious faith and expose[d] him to disfavored treatment”); Catholic League for Religious & Civil Rights v. City & County of San Francisco, 624 F.3d 1043, 1052 (9th Cir. 2010) (en banc) (finding “exclusion or denigration on a religious basis within the political community” to be sufficiently concrete injury)
Id. at 39 n. 10.

Now reasonable white Republican men can differ, we suppose, as to whether the President's power over admission of aliens allows him to discriminate against particular religions in the issuance of visas.  What can't be maintained by anyone who has read the opinion and any other case regarding First Amendment standing is that the IRAP majority opinion was decided on an unprincipled partisan basis.  If you're looking for an opinion like that, try Bush v. Gore.

There was a time when the Times employed a columnist who had studied and thought hard about Constitutional Law, a gentleman by the name of Anthony Lewis. That was a long time ago.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Good and Dead: Sex offender, liar, destroyer of journalism

The obituary page of The Massachusetts Spy.

By Lou Crecious
Obituary Writer

As the golem he installed in office rampaged through the Middle East on his journey of self-destruction, Roger Ailes, the great perverter of American politics and journalism, died an old rummy's death in Florida, aged 77.

The evil caused by this wicked, bigoted sex offender stained American life for almost half a century.  His first triumph was repackaging a paranoid vindictive warmonger as a middle-of-the-road regular Dick slickly enough to sneak said Tricky Dick Nixon into the White House in 1968.  Four more years of carnage in Southeast Asia followed, not to mention the previous attempt to destroy the American constitutional order.

That triumph might have been enough to earn Roger Ailes's place in infamy, but as it turned out it was only the fried mozzarella sticks in his banquet of iniquity.  His crowning achievement, of course, was creating the batshit crazy Fox News Network, thereby allowing his equally evil but alas still breathing patron Rupert Murdoch to manipulate the rubes in yet another country in relentless pursuit of  his bold policy of keeping all the loot for himself and his fellow white men.

His playbook was three pages long: bigotry, bullying and lies.  Actually, there was an unwritten appendix we'll get to later.  One of his favorite targets, the New York Times, which unlike Roger is alive and well, summarized his technique:

All of his career moves included the same ingredients: an appreciation of the power of television, a sense of theatricality and a deep resentment of the “New York-Hollywood elitists” who he believed populated the rest of the news media and looked down on his America.

“They just believe what they believe and they think their job is to drag the rest of the redneck morons toward the light,” Mr. Ailes told me in an interview in his office in December 2014. “They don’t understand that the so-called redneck morons — the people they don’t like — are the people that grew up with values — patriotism, all those things — and they hate all those words.”

Mr. Ailes, who regularly reminded associates that he dug ditches as a teenager, told me, “I built Fox News on my own life experience; I built it understanding the pressures and the worries and the aspirations of average Americans.”

“I love those people,” he added. And he took credit for “forcing some people to actually acknowledge that others exist in the world beside the people who went to Elaine’s back in the old days,” he said.
Average Americans?  Which average Americans?  For decades, when not otherwise engaged in sodomizing the help, Ailes peddled this version of himself as the protector of regular Joes.  Of course, given the blatant racism of Fox News, he didn't mean Joes like Louis or Foy.  He meant narrow-minded ignorant white hatemongers like himself and his President.

And what about the average Janes?  How did Roger show his regard for them?  Apparently by buying them kneepads, so that women seeking careers at Fox News could show their appreciation to Roger for all that he had done for them.  When he wasn't whipping it out in front of Gretchen Carlson and numerous other female victims, he was enabling and covering up for his on-air sex offenders, like Bill “the Loofah King” O'Reilly.

Roger Ailes, shown here in happier days
interviewing potential Fox News hosts
The only thing that finally forced Rupert Murdoch to order his talent to zip up their flies and take their sex crimes elsewhere was Murdoch's long-held desire to grab Sky TV, a series of British cable channels.  To do so, the U.K. Government, often thought to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Murdoch Enterprises, must declare Rupert and his mouth-breathing progeny “fit and proper” to own and operate Sky TV, a determination that might be complicated by the queue of professional women suing Ailes, O'Reilly, and others for all manner of sexual depredations.

Ultimately, though, we'd have to concede that the string of sex crimes committed by Ailes and his “talent” wasn't even the worse thing about him.  The worst was his demolition of American journalism.

Hard to believe, but there was once a time when journalism was understood as a profession devoted to telling people what was going on so that they could better govern themselves.  Sure, there were enormous derelictions from that standard, notably the shilling of the mainstream media for idiotic wars of choice from Vietnam to Iraq, and the failure to cover for decades if not centuries the pervasive sexism and racism of American life unknown to Roger's average Americans.  But there was a standard and those who didn't measure up could be held to it.

Roger changed all that.  His nonstop farrago of nonsense, lies, prejudice, and reactionary talking points he called “fair and balanced.”  When it was pointed out to him that it was anything but, he would respond that he was just doing what all media was doing and it evened out.

His notion that there is no such thing as independent, non-ideological journalism is now widely accepted, with the result that his beloved “average Americans” (some of whom live only miles from his Palm Beach estate) now dismiss truthful reporting about the criminal now serving as president as nothing more than an expression of political opposition.

By subverting the role of a free and honest press as a check on government overrreach and Presidential subversion of the Constitution, he has placed in peril an entire nation.  Like the victims of his countless sex crimes, we all have to live with the consequences of Roger Ailes's evil deeds. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

We get Tweets!

In addition to the accumulated sapience that our globe-spanning team of crack journalists offers to you on this blog, said team also sends Tweets (hint: they are on the right).  Once in a while we even get a response, this time from our friends at McClatchy's DC bureau.  They had posted a link to their article describing various Republican foreign policy types expressing the view that the Grifter-in-Chief was as alleged a felonious jackass.

We asked a question, and we got a response:

OK, who knew there was a difference between the GOP foreign policy establishment and neoconservatives? At least since Ed Brooke and Chuck Percy died?  Not us.  So anyway just for our own edification we decided to track down the GOP worthies named in Kate Glueck's article and find out what they've said and done to distinguish themselves from the mass of neoconservatives who lied us into the Iraqi War.

We'll start with one Gabriel Schoenfeld, whom we never heard of despite his frequent contributions to those not-at-all-neoconservative publications, Commentary and The Weekly Standard (whose former editor the not-at-all neoconservative Billy Kristol once dismissed distinctions between Shia and Sunni Muslims as “pop psychology.”).

Mr. Schoenfeld has been in fact notably reticent on the subject of Iraq (he's hoping for war with Iran instead).  He did however opine that things were going tickety-boo back in 2008 in Iraq (at a time when the U.S. was willing to arm and support Sunni militias over the objections of the Iraqi Government), stating “Let’s hope that this particular “fiasco” continues.”  Spoiler alert: it did!

GOP foreign-policy establishment
or neoconservative?  Ask McClatchy DC!
The second source for Ms. Glueck's story is one Peter Feaver.  Who he?  No neoconservative credentials here, except that he was “a National Security Council special adviser under President George W. Bush.”  George W. Bush?  Why is that name so familiar?  Wasn't he involved in the Iraq War in some fashion?

(Side pro tip: If you're searching for this guy, don't forget the 'a' in his last name.  Just sayin'.)

Well, OK, what did the not-neoconservative Peter Feaver say about the Iraq War?  Why not consult his article entitled Why We Went Into Iraq in The Weekly Standard (that's two, if you're counting at home)?  We did!  In it he said: “Third, the historical case for invading Iraq is much stronger than conventional wisdom pretends.”

The third source Ms. Glueck cites is Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a retiring and not at all neoconservative anti-Castro Republican.  What did she say about the Iraq War? 

Let's go back to July 21, 2005, after it had become clear to even the most meager intelligence outside of the Republican Party that the Iraq War was a sanguinary catastrophe.  On that day, no one will remember, Fox News reported:

Calls for an early withdrawal from Iraq . . .  are a mistake that will only embolden terrorists, the House resolved Wednesday. The resolution drew opposition from Democrats, who said it implied that questioning President Bush's Iraq policies is unpatriotic.
The measure, approved 291-137, says the United States should leave Iraq only when national security and foreign policy goals related to a free and stable Iraq have been achieved.
"Calls for an early withdrawal embolden the terrorists and undermine the morale" of U.S. and allied forces and put their security at risk, the amendment to a State Department bill reads.
. . . . 

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., author of the Iraq provision, stressed that calls for an early withdrawal were counterproductive to security aims in Iraq.
"Words matter," she said. "Incessant calls for an established date for withdrawal from Iraq have a negative effect. ... Do we want to send a message to the terrorists that their war of attrition is succeeding?"
If there's one thing that we, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Kate Glueck can all agree on, it's that words matter.  Let's leave it there and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

News from Zontar: US President starts nuclear war, GOP Senators concerned

Editors' Note:  Every so often the Spy's Deep Space Desk gets a transmission from the distant planet Zontar in the Remulac system many, many light years away.  The reports provide a window into the aliens who inhabit this strange world and their inexplicable behavior, which is of course absolutely incomprehensible to those of us here on Planet Earth.  Nonetheless we bring you these bizarre dispatches so that you can best appreciate the incredible diversity of life in our Universe and the sanity and comforts we take for granted here – [They get the setup – Ed.]




By Douglass MacArthur
War Editor

WASHINGTON, D.Z. – The shattering news that nuclear weapons have been used for the first time since Nagasaki continues to reverberate around the world, which continues to absorb the full extent of the nuclear holocaust.

As casualty figures mount into the millions and makeshift rescue crews begin to reach the devastated metropolises of Seoul and Pyongyang, the decision by U.S. President Donald J. Drumpf to launch the nuclear first strike against North Korea has come in for criticism from all corners of the world.  Although the details of the Presidential decision are not completely known, sources at the White House point to the decision by North Korean President Kim Dum-Un to flip Drumpf the bird while the U.S. President was addressing world leaders during a special session of the UN General Assembly held at Drumpf's combination golf club and slot parlor Zar-a-Bingo.

Drumpf, storming out of the conference was heard to mutter to Secretary of State Omirosa Manigault: “He made me look ridiculous and a man in my position cannot afford to look ridiculous.”

That night, Drumpf pressed the two red buttons on his desk, summoning his personal assistant Miss Epstein with a frosty Zoca-Cola and the national nuclear command structure.  He gave the orders to launch a nuclear attack on North Korean cities and military targets.  Sources close to Defense Secretary Santino Drumpf said that he had tried to argue with his father, but was overruled.  The sources said: “The President reminded him who gets two scoops of ice cream for dessert and who doesn't.”

President Drumpf ordered at least 20 atomic weapons
detonated over N. Korea
When the order reached the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Gary Busey, General Busey, sources said, tried to talk the President out of the decision, predicting correctly that North Korea would be able to retaliate with a devastating nuclear attack on South Korea.  However the General realized that under the U.S. constitutional tradition of military deference to civilian leadership, he had no choice but to order the attack.

Following the U.S. strike and North Korean counter-strike, experts estimate that at least 3,000,000 Koreans have been killed and millions more gravely injured.  The downtown areas of Pyongyang and Seoul were reduced to dust and ashes.  North Korean President Kim was reported safe in his bunker and has already invited Chinese troops into his devastated land to preserve his rule.

At least 30,000 American troops along the DMZ and in bases in and around the former South Korean capital are believed to have perished in the catastrophe.

The reaction to President Drumpf's decision to use nuclear weapons has not been popular in the United States.  Even the staid New Zork Times termed the atomic apocalypse “apocalyptic.” [We stole that one – Ed.] 

While some Democrats on Capitol Hill are talking about impeaching the President for unleashing the nuclear genie, others believe the best course of action is to lie low and emphasize domestic issues in the forthcoming mid-term elections.

The Republicans, who have been a bastion of support for the beleaguered President, privately expressed concern over the loss of American lives, but publicly are still backing their man.  “I am concerned about the President's starting a nuclear war, but I want to wait until all the facts are in,” said Sen. Bob Zorker, Republican of Zennessee.

US satellite reconnaissance shows that
the destruction of Seoul was total
Sen. Rob Zortman of Ohioz struck a similar note: “While we are all troubled over the terrible loss of life in Korea, I condemn any Democrat who uses this regrettable incident for partisan political gain.” 

House Speaker Paul Ryanz said he preferred not to comment on matters that he was powerless to affect and instead would focus on Republican legislative priorities, including tax cuts for the rich and letting the poor sicken and die.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellz cautioned Democrats not to use the nuclear war as an excuse to block Senate business.  McConnellz said that the Senate would vote to confirm President Drumpf's choice for FBI director, Fredo Drumpf, by week's end.  Asked if he would support a bipartisan inquiry into the causes of the Korean nuclear war and its effect on U.S. foreign policy, the Majority Leader simply said, “No.”

Sources close to the hunky Senator speculated that his taciturnity was a response to the absence of his wife, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chaoz, who was conducting an auction of the Interstate Highway System in Chicago.  “When he doesn't get his good lovin', he's not himself,” one staffer explained. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Spy exclusive: the missing pieces from the Times Ivanka interview

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

The reaction from sentient carbon-based life forms to the recent slurpy interview of schmatte peddler and senior White House official Michaela [Surely, Ivanka? – Ed.] Trump at the hands of three veteran New York Times Washington reporters must have been hard for the interviewers to bear.  Lobbing softball after softball at the clueless object of patriarchal lechery, the reporters managed to convey the impression that Ivanka was really, really trying hard and was really, really a good person notwithstanding her handmaid-like loyalty to a crooked bigoted ignorant admitted sex criminal that she calls, adorably, “Dad.”

Maggie Haberman, shown here in tense negotiations
with Times editors
Now Times reporters, like their fellow ink-stained wretches, are known for accepting criticism of their work with all the introspection and grace of the thrice-married dental hygienist from Azusa upon learning she was being booted off The Bachelor the day after banging him on their magical date at Knott's Berry Farm.  But in this case the Spy's crack investigative team has learned that the oft-beset gentlepersons from the Times may have a point.

The Spy has obtained exclusively the portion of the interview piece that was unaccountably cut from the published version in which the Times gang asked the questions that any competent journalist would ask of a senior administration official with no more idea of what her job entails than her boss and father.  Why the Times's legions of (mostly male) editors thought that these sections did not deserve to appear in the final piece is something only they can answer, but let's stop being so mean to Jodi Kantor, Rachel Abrams, and Maggie Haberman.

As you're about to read, the missing piece of their story should restore their reputations:

<haberman-add4-ivanka interview itemprop="author creator" itemscope="" itemtype=">
>Ms. Trump appeared confounded when asked why she was qualified to occupy a series of senior positions in the government of the most powerful nation in world.  “I'm a really good listener and a good learner and my husband is so smart – he knows everything,” she said.
>“I mean I don't ask you why you are qualified to ask me questions in your Gap jeans and Birkenstocks.”
>“And a lot of women these days are washing their hair.  You should try it sometime,” she added.
>Nor was she any more able to explain how she would manage the manifold conflicts of interests that arise from her continued involvement in various Trump-branded enterprises, including hotel projects with shady finaglers linked to dictators and malefactors around the world, hideous shoes, and tacky jewelry.
>“I am a very honest person and I would never do anything wrong,” she said.
>When asked about the apparent conflict that arose when she participated in meetings with Chinese President <clerk put in name> shortly before receiving valuable trademark approvals from the Chinese Government, she said, “And the problem is what exactly?  I mean, I have the right to make a living, don't I?”
>She was equally hazy about the details of her child care plan, which would funnel almost all benefits to richer parents because it is premised on tax deductions.  “I am very supportive of working mothers.  My children's two nannies both have children back in El Humidor or wherever and I let them call their kids on our computer twice a week, after my children are in bed.”
>Although she mentioned many times her devotion to her children, and correctly provided their names and ages after a brief consultation with her phone, she did not understand how her father's anti-environment policies threatened their future.  “I know that my children will have a wonderful environment whether they choose to live in a 20-room co-op on Fifth Avenue or a rambling mansion in Bedminister, N.J,” she said.
>Nor did she offer any justification for her father's support for a health care plan that would deny insurance to 24 million and kill tens of thousands of them while providing $900 billion in tax cuts to the richest sliver of American society.
>“I am letting my brilliant husband Jared make all decisions about health care.  You should ask him.  He went to Harvard.”
>At this point, she pressed a button summoning a servant with a thick Eastern European accent, who whispered into Ivanka's ear, accented by a hideous purple-and gold-filigree earring the size of a turnip.  She smiled and said: “I am so sorry but I have an extremely important exfoliation to attend to.  I am finished with you now.  By the way, have you ever heard of concealer?”
<end mhaberman-add4-ivanka interview>