5

Merrick Garland Is Teaching Trump and His Allies a Lesson in Transparency

Certainly someone like Trump, with nothing to hide, wouldn’t oppose unsealing the warrant.

From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:

Back a few years, when his nomination to the Supreme Court was being unjustly stonewalled by Mitch McConnell, I spent the afternoon watching Merrick Garland preside over the D.C. Court of Appeals. The overwhelming feeling in the courtroom on that ordinary afternoon was one of serenity. Every lawyer to whom I talked said that was the way they felt when arguing in Garland’s court, as well. But none of them had any illusion that the business of the court was not getting done. This place had the low hum of a powerful machine.

On Thursday, while some armed and body-armored freak tried to storm an FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio, Garland took to the podium to discuss the service of the federal search warrant on the former president*’s estate at Mar-a-Lago In Florida. This is something that Garland almost assuredly did not want to do, but El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago and the various lickers of his spittle have spent several days filling the media’s endless appetite for rage-filled junk food with rumors of planted evidence and banana republics. So Garland stepped out of character long enough to make a killer chess move and defend federal law enforcement against the onslaught of idiocy.

First, the chess move:

“The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause. The property receipt is a document that federal law requires law enforcement agents to leave with the property owner. The Department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former President’s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter. Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy.”

The motion puts the ball back in the former president*’s court. The DOJ is asking a judge to release the documents. Does the former president* want to contest it? If he doesn’t, then the documents get released—which is something he’s obviously tried to avoid since the warrant was served—and everything he and his sycophants have said this week is rendered many times more ridiculous than it looks at the moment. But if he chooses to fight the motion, then he looks guiltier than hell.

Second, the defense:

“Let me address recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors. I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked. The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants. Every day, they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism, and other threats to their safety, while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves. I am honored to work alongside them.”

That’s as far as he went. In all honesty, that was as far as anyone should have expected him to go. For too many prosecutors—and for far too many politicians in general—a press appearance like Garland’s would have felt perfunctory and insufficiently perforative. But for him, it was a firm step out of character, one far distant from the memory I have of that serene courtroom several years ago.

Business is getting done, though. And in his luxury suite in Hell, Timothy McVeigh nods knowingly and gets back to the work of being damned.

4

Dystopian nightmare! FBI obtains warrant, conducts search!

Satire from The Washington Post, by Alexandra Petri:

This is the kind of thing that could only happen in countries run by “tin-pot dictators” conservatives fumed on Twitter upon seeing that the FBI had searched former president Donald Trump’s Florida home. “If this is what they’re able to do to the former president of the United States, think about what they could do to you,” Lara Trump warned on Fox News.

It’s true! If this is what investigators will do to the former president of the United States — follow all the steps to obtain a warrant from a judge to search his home for documents that they (and the judge) believed probable cause suggested were there, then leave without arresting anybody — imagine what they will do to you! You might also have to deal with a search warrant from a judge! You, too, might receive due process when suspected of committing a crime!

Imagine! The next time it appears that you have run afoul of the Presidential Records Act by taking classified documents home, the FBI will obtain a warrant from a judge to come to your combined residence and country club to search your safe — with cooperation from the Secret Service! There are millions of Americans out there right now reasonably saying to themselves, “All this time I have been storing classified materials pertaining to the office of the president, some too classified even to be described (which sounds like a koan), as I thought was my right as an average citizen. And now, I see what kind of hell scape I am living in! One where the former president is subject to laws, just as I, an average citizen, am subject to laws!”

It is a well-known fact that federal law enforcement exists solely to make miserable the lives of civil rights leaders, to bury in a deep hole all allegations against Brett M. Kavanaugh and to investigate Hillary Clinton, root of all evil. What it is not for is this. Next, you are going to tell me that if somebody tries to keep themselves in power by force, they ought to face consequences for it!

Well may the Republican congressional minority rend its garments and wail. Well may House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy threaten retribution. What are we coming to, when law enforcement agencies enforce the law against the president? Against average citizens, sure. Against troublemakers, an ill-defined category that I refer you to Trump speeches to better understand — naturally! But against our god-king? Our cherished former president?

A state governed by laws is no state for me. I wanted a state where some people are above the law and some people are below the law. I wanted one where Trump specifically was above the law and also got to use the apparatus of the state to harass his political opponents. That is apolitical and just. This is — just awful!

“No former president is safe,” tweeted Matt Gaetz, (R-Fla.) Too true! Too true! John Adams sitting there on his trove of documents. Benjamin Harrison, inciting all those insurrections. William Henry Harrison, being there! Any one of us could become a former president, if we play our cards wrong, and we must first ask ourselves: If the most powerful are not above the law, who can be? Is anyone? Shouldn’t someone be?

3

No One Despises MAGA Voters More Than MAGA Elites

From The Bulwark, by Jonathan V. Last:

ABP: Always. Be. Projecting.

We talk a lot about how projection is the sincerest form of Trumpism:

Anyway, now we can add a line to our listicle, courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune:

Lions Not Sheep is a Utah-based clothing company launched in 2016 that makes stridently pro-America, pro-gun, pro-Trump shirts, hats and apparel. . . .

Every order comes with a free copy of the U.S. Constitution because they love America. So much so, in fact, that they had made a big deal about all their clothing being manufactured right here in the U.S. of A.

That is, they used to.

Last week, the owner of “Lions Not Sheep” agreed to pay a $211,335 fine to the Federal Trade Commission after the agency accused the company of cutting the labels that said “Made in China” or other countries out of their clothes and stamping them “Made in USA”.

You can’t make this shirt up. They called the forking company Lions Not Lambs and their entire business plan assumed that their customers would be mindless sheep.

Anyway, I get the sense that a large part of the MAGA mindset for Ordinary Folks is that they see it as a way of saying FU to people they believe look down on them.

But I promise you that no one looks down on the great unwashed as cynically and disdainfully as their betters in the MAGA movement do.

10

Dumbass Quote of the Day

From The Washington Post:

Rep. John Jacob (R):

“The body inside of the mom’s body is not her body. Let me repeat that: The body inside of the mom’s body is not her body. Not her body, not her choice,” said Jacob, astaunch abortion opponent who supported removing exceptions including for rape.

“Trying to end all abortion is not forced birth, but rather it is trying to end murdering children,” he said on the floor.

2

Whoops, we forgot women could still vote

Satire from The Washington Post, by Alexandra Petri:

KANSAS — So this is a little embarrassing, but we may have gotten so carried away trying to pass abortion restrictions that we sort of forgot women could still vote! A mind-fart, for sure! When you are sitting there legislating about someone as though they are not there at all — a someone with no rights the state is bound to respect, neither to control what occurs within the bounds of their own body nor, necessarily, to life, even — you can be forgiven for thinking, “Well, this cannot possibly apply to a large swath of the voting population! This isn’t the kind of law you pass about fellow voters! They would say something, probably!”

And, well, they did! Yes, it turns out that women can still vote. Oops! Our bad! Actually, so can everyone else this law would affect, both the pregnant people whose bodies it would presume to control and those who just don’t want that kind of thing happening to their fellow citizens in general! And none of them are pleased! Yikes! They turned out in droves and voted against rolling back the Kansas constitution’s protections for abortion by a pretty overwhelming margin — more than 58 percent voting to preserve them!

You can kind of see why we were thinking this way, though. We thought everybody had already been divided into voters and vessels. The voters got to pass restrictions, and the vessels got to sit there and smile! It’s an easy mistake to make when you are running around the country wildly stripping people’s rights not to be forced to give birth and threatening the livelihoods of those who would offer them correct medical advice that would keep them from dying or suffering cruelly. Those aren’t going to be people you see as equals — certainly not as fully realized people who can vote. That was sort of my assumption, and I’ve been rebuked for it now!

It really gives you pause: Can you actually force significant life choices down fellow voters’ throats, as though they are not your peers under law? And have it be a successful strategy?

Apparently not like this!

But don’t worry. We are chastened, and we won’t repeat this error: We are working very hard on tightening the voting process. Soon, only the ballots we believe in are going to count.

Yes, we did our best to make the messaging as confusing as we could, and, sure, we’ve been working to make it harder to register to vote, but we can always do better. No, not at realizing that this isn’t a winning approach and we should stop trying to take our fellow citizens’ rights away. Certainly not at treating those affected by abortion restrictions as people whose rights deserve respect. But just at fixing this voting oversight.

It seems too clear. People with the ability to choose won’t choose us, so there’s only one solution to securing less choice: less choice.

5

Georgia says ‘unborn child’ counts as dependent on taxes after 6 weeks

“Ma’am, I’m from the IRS and I’ll need to do a pelvic examination to prove your claim.”

From The Washington Post:

Under Georgia law, fetuses now have “full legal recognition” as living people. That means their parents can claim them as dependents on their tax returns — even before delivery.

The state’s department of revenue said Monday that it would begin recognizing “any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat … as eligible for the Georgia individual income tax dependent exemption” — amounting to $3,000. Taxpayers must be prepared to provide relevant medical records and documents if requested by the department.

The tax benefit is a byproduct of a law that went into effect July 20 banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. Georgia House Bill 481 was initially approved in 2019 but was deemed unconstitutional, given the protections granted by Roe v. Wade. Once that long-standing precedent was overturned in June, a federal appeals court cleared the way for Georgia’s abortion ban to become law. The court also agreed that “personhood” could be redefined to include fetuses.

Georgia’s personhood provision is, for now, the most expansive. Not only does it grant tax breaks for fetuses, but it also requires that they be included in some population counts. It also imposes child support “on the father of an unborn child” — amounting to the “direct medical and pregnancy related expenses of the mother.”

But considering the prevalence of miscarriages and stillbirths, some wondered what the implications of the new tax policy could mean for those who experience pregnancy loss. Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreis speculated on Twitter that the state’s treasury could end up “handing out a lot of cash for pregnancies that would never come to term.”

Lauren Groh-Wargo, campaign manager for Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, questioned whether pregnancy loss could trigger an investigation. “So what happens when you claim your fetus as a dependent and then miscarry later in the pregnancy, you get investigated both for tax fraud and an illegal abortion?” she tweeted.

Neither the bill nor the guidance issued by the Georgia Department of Revenue addresses what would happen in the event of a miscarriage.

The law also creates other gray areas. For instance, what are the implications for couples using a surrogate? And when it comes to sperm donors or instances of uncertain paternity, who would be responsible for providing child support?

The Washington Post has contacted the Georgia Department of Revenue seeking clarification. The department’s guidance delineates that additional information — “including return instructions to claim the personal exemption for an unborn child with a detectable heartbeat” — will be issued later this year.