Category Archives: Politics

When Elizabeth met Barack

I love this clip of Elizabeth Warren telling the story of how she met Barack Obama.

The New York Times reports that Iowa (and presumably other) Democrats are worrying that even though they ‘love’ her, Warren is not as ‘electable’ as, say, Biden.  I suspect there is a gender tax that female presidential candidates must pay of a few percent, so this is not a crazy thing to worry about. But Warren is a lot more ‘likeable’ and natural than Hilary Clinton, who had suffered the misfortune of living in a goldfish bowl for decades and had become too cautious in public. Warren (like, incidentally, Booker) comes off as genuine in a way that I think will sell.

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Florida’s Political Fulcrum: the I-4 Corridor

Master Florida psephologist Steve Schale does a deep dive as to why the road to winning Florida is the I-4 corridor (that’s the Orlando to Tampa link in the middle of the state).  The rest of us, it seems, are fairly predictable. Another nugget: some of the swing vote in the I-4 area are transplantees from the mid-West. (Does that make it Biden country?)

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Democrats Have Found Their Harold Stassen

News that (long-ago) former Senator Mike Gravel is joining the scrum that is the Democratic Presidential primary made me think not just of the GOP’s Harold Stassen, but also provides an occasion for me to re-run what just might be the all-time zaniest Presidential campaign video, from the Gravel campaign a dozen or so years ago:

Bonus fact: This time, Gravel’s, er, unorthodox campaign is run by an orthodox Jewish teenager.

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Not (Quite) a Slam-Dunk?

Michael Stern argues that maybe the Trump Family suit against the Family firms’ accountants might not be a clear slam dunk. But then, in an update, he mostly walks that back.

Previously: Bad Claims is the New Trump Litigation Strategy and Other Views on Bad Claims.

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Other Views on Bad Claims

I asked why the Trump Family is making so many bad legal claims all of a sudden, and gave some guesses.  Other people have noticed the trend too, and have their own theories:

Digby says “Barr’s outrageous behavior and the White House attempts to stonewall all forms of oversight are pushing the Democrats toward impeachment, whether they want it or not.”

No word though on whether the strategy to trigger impeachment might be due to a political calculation that it would actually help Trump get re-elected.  I don’t actually buy that, but I can see why it would seem like a way out an increasingly tight political box.  Hey, it worked for President Clinton, didn’t it?

Paul Waldman says the goal is “Delay, delay, delay,” noting a suit I didn’t even mention, the subpoena-blocking lawsuit against his accountants.

I also forgot to mention Trump told all officials in the many departments to refuse to testify [beware video starts automatically]; presumably they’ll try to block the ensuing subpoenas too.  So this is clearly a centrally coordinated strategy, such as it is.

Some other online comment, Jonathan Chait, on the anti-subpoena strategy, “The first thing to understand about this legal theory is that it is not a legal theory. … Trump’s opposition to congressional oversight appears to be an extension of his business strategy of threatening counterparties with expensive, time-consuming lawsuits in order to shirk his obligations. … [T]he courts might take long enough processing the “arguments” that Trump can keep his scandals bottled up until after the election. []Trump’s extreme litigiousness is a natural extension of his general lack of shame.”

And Ian Millhouser at ThinkProgress, “Here’s a pro tip for lawyers: if you are going to ask a court to fundamentally alter the balance of power between the legislative branch and the judiciary, it’s a good idea to accurately describe any Supreme Court cases you rely upon. It’s a bad idea to tell the court that a case that absolutely eviscerates your legal argument is the best thing you have going for you.” That said, after a full-bore takedown of the Trump v. Deutsche Bank case, he ends with this warning, “There is always a risk, no matter how clear the law may be, that this Supreme Court will ignore it.”

Meanwhile, however, stuff like DHS Asserting Broad, Unconstitutional Authority to Search Travelers’ Phones and Laptops is, sadly, just business as usual.

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Bad Claims is the New Trump Litigation Strategy

Post-Mueller, the Trump Family1 has embarked on a novel litigation strategy: bringing really bad claims. Making terrible legal arguments is nothing new for the Trumps, but generally they’ve made those arguments as defendants, often while defending very amateurish and inept attempts to overturn Obama-era regulations. And almost universally, those lost.

Now, however, we see the Trump Family is moving on to offense2, and it’s not pretty: Treasury is setting up to argue it can ignore a quite clear statute requiring the IRS send Congress tax returns. Attorney General Barr, to his shame (if he has any), claims he can dictate to Congressional committees the terms of his appearances. Trump Family companies are suing Democratic House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings to block a subpoenas on his finances and suing Deutsche Bank and Capital One to prevent them from complying with subpoenas.

What all these cases have in common is that the legal theories on which they are based are tenuous to non-existent.

What gives? These could simply be Hail Mary passes by the guilty: try this because you have nothing better.  Or they could be plays to delay bad news, maybe even run out the clock until the next election with appeals. Or, worst of all, they could be a cynical calculation that some or all of them might find favor before an increasingly stacked judiciary, and a very pro-Trump Supreme Court.  Or, why not, it could be all of the above.

All of these are bad answers.


  1. I have decided that from now on I will use the Mafia term while blogging, rather than call it an Administration. []
  2. In the legal sense; in every other sense they’ve been there for quite some time. []
Posted in Law: Administrative Law, Law: Constitutional Law, Law: Ethics, Law: Everything Else, Law: The Supremes, The Scandals | Leave a comment