LOCK HIM UP: And shut him down!

TUESDAY, JUNE 13, 2017

Part 2—We seek relief from the courts:
We liberals are jealous of any suggestion that we might not be able to lock him up.

Lock him up! It's now our great cry. This longing inspired the letter which tops today's letters page in the New York Times:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (6/13/17): How can President Trump say “no collusion, no obstruction,” based on the public testimony given by James B. Comey, former F.B.I. director, to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence? Everyone knows that the most sensitive information and, potentially, the most damaging, is not being released to the general public at this time, and is available only to the committee and to the special counsel, Robert Mueller, behind closed doors.
For the record, the key word there is "potentially." Meanwhile, this writer leaped into action at the mere suggestion that we might not be able to lock him up, collusion/obstruction-wise.

For the record, this letter was a response to faulty claims in this New York Times news report. But mainly, the writer wanted the world to know that we still plan to lock him up!

In fairness to the New York Times, the second letter in today's stack expresses a knee-jerk reaction from the other of our ever-widening continental divide.

To read that second letter, click here. To learn of the greatness of Comey the God, we had to wait until letter 5:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES: It seems to me that a coward is someone who sends out tweets in the middle of the night—misleading, deceptive, indecipherable tweets—and refuses to answer questions at a news conference, instead hiding behind his press spokesmen and women when explanations are needed from the chief tweeter.

It seems to me that a coward is not someone who is willing to take all questions from friends and foes, who follows the evidence and the law wherever it goes because that’s his job and he loves his country, someone who is not afraid to take on the Democratic candidate for president two weeks before the election or the president of the United States. And risk and lose his job as a result of his dedication.

The latter is and will be seen historically as a hero!
Sad. In that utterly childish letter, one of the cowboys wears a black hat. The other cowboy loves his country, follows the law, and will be seen as a hero for the way he risked losing his job.

That hero's great name is Comey the God! This silly letter comes live and direct from childhood's (refusal to) end.

That last letter writer doesn't seem to hail from our own liberal tribe. To him, Comey revealed his moral greatness when he intervened in the White House campaign last October, with two weeks to go, staging one of his serial interventions against the interests of Candidate Clinton.

That writer doesn't hail from our tribe. But as he completed today's pile of letters, he described one of our press corps' inventions. He told us of Comey the God!

With regard to Donald J. Trump, that first letter writer reacted jealously to the mere suggestion that we might not be able to lock him up. This represents an unfortunate focus of our tribe, after several decades of moral and intellectual failure.

We liberals! We love the idea of locking him up—and we adore the thrill of the chase. Last night, it was one of CNN's "analysts" who told us to get the popcorn ready for this afternoon's pursuit of Jeff Sessions. It will be good solid fun!

That said, our tribe increasingly relies on the courts as it becomes increasingly clear that we don't know how to win elections. That we don't know how to win debates. That we don't know how to function.

Tomorrow, we'll review the state we're in after a decade of election defeats. For today, let's review our increasingly prevalent dream of rescue by the courts.

Ideally, we want to be able to lock them up—to catch our political opponents committing actual crimes. Indeed, our biggest corporate cable has made a career of pleasuring us with such mindless pursuits.

(She especially wants to lock them up if they've been caught on audiotape saying that they enjoy touching their girl friends' breasts. On three occasions this year, she swore that she was playing that year-old tape of Governor Bentley for the last time. Mercifully, the third time was finally the charm. We hope.)

We liberals want to lock Trump up. (We'd like to jail Sessions too; more on that to come.) Our biggest stars are willing to misinform us, sometimes quite badly, to let us enjoy the thrill of this widening chase. That said, this morning's papers show another side of this sad decline, in which we tacitly acknowledge the fact that we don't know how to win debates in the court of public opinion.

Yay yay yay yay yay! This morning's papers describe our tribe's two latest wins over Trump:

In this news report,
the New York Times reports that a three-judge panel unanimously ruled against Trump's Muslim or travel ban.

In this report, the Times reports that two attorneys general (of Maryland and D.C.) have filed a lawsuit claiming that Trump is violating the constitution's no foreign emoluments clause, a proscription dear to Americans.

Within the tents of our tribe, these actions are regarded as triumphs. We tend to blow past the question of how we ever managed to lose an election to someone like Trump in the first place.

We tend to miss the patheticism of our need to turn to the courts. We also tend to miss the downsides to these news reports.

Let's skip the foreign emoluments fight, which no one understands. Let's focus on our latest victory over that travel of Muslim ban.

As far as we know, there was no convincing substantive basis for Trump's executive order. We also know how these court actions will seem to the "teabaggers" Over There—to the people who have been kicking our electoral ascots over the past many years.

Consider this chunk of Adam Liptak's news report in the Times. We know how three matters will look to the baggers, and we think they aren't necessarily wrong in what they think they're seeing:
HULSE (6/13/17): A second federal appeals court has ruled against President Trump’s revised travel ban, delivering on Monday the latest in a string of defeats for the administration’s efforts to limit travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.

The administration has already sought a Supreme Court review of a similar decision issued last month by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va. Monday’s decision came from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco.

The two courts employed different reasoning to arrive at the same basic conclusion. The Fourth Circuit said the revised executive order violated the First Amendment’s prohibition of government establishment of religion.

The Ninth Circuit, by contrast, rested its conclusions on statutory grounds. It said Mr. Trump had exceeded the authority Congress granted him in making national security judgments in the realm of immigration without adequate justification.


The decision, from a three-judge panel, was unanimous. It was issued jointly by Judges Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald M. Gould and Richard A. Paez. All three were appointed by President Bill Clinton.

The ruling affirmed most of a March decision from Judge Derrick K. Watson, of the Federal District Court in Hawaii. But the appeals court narrowed the injunction issued by Judge Watson in a significant way.

The appeals court said Judge Watson had erred in barring the administration from conducting internal reviews of its vetting procedures while the case moved forward.
Let's consider how three partts of that report will look to the folk Over There:

"The two courts employed different reasoning to arrive at the same basic conclusion?"

Surely, we all understand how that will look. It will look like a version of "verdict first" from Alice in Wonderland. It will especially look that way based on this second element:

"All three were appointed by President Bill Clinton?"

Surely, we know how that will look to the baggers. Consider:

In the earlier 10-3 decision by the Fourth Circuit, the ten were all appointed by Democrats, the three by Republicans. Surely, we all know how that will look to the folk Over There.

(To us, this looks like the latest manifestation of the continental divide which is eating away at our culture, even at the foundations of our nation. Increasingly, every vote in every body correlates with tribe.)

"The appeals court said Judge Watson had erred in barring the administration from conducting internal reviews of its vetting procedures while the case moved forward?"

Good God! Did that Obama-appointed judge actually do that? We had assumed that claims to that effect were the latest example of silly bullroar from the dimmest regions of Trumpsylvania's Hannity County.

But no! Apparently, that one "liberal" judge actually ruled that the Administration couldn't conduct internal reviews of those vetting procedures! Surely, we all understand exactly how that will look Over There, even now, after three other Democratic appointees have ruled that Judge Watson was wrong.

(Conservatives have long been told that Judge Watson issued that ruling. Only we liberals have been protected from this unsettling fact.)

Whatever the judicial merits may be, we think this morning's reports come from an unimpressive place in our tribal devolution. Increasingly, we pray that we can lock Trump up. We also pray that we can be saved by the courts.

How did Trump ever win in the first place? As we keep losing power all over the land, we never quite manage to ask.

Tomorrow: So many defeats!

Thursday: Sadly, our tribe in action


  1. I'm getting a little tired of the "Yay!Yay!Yay!" from Mr. Somerby. First of all, that isn't my reaction. Secondly, regardless of what he thinks about the "moral and intellectual failures" of "liberals" (or "our tribe"), Trump must be held to account, if not by Congress, who seem to have abdicated that responsibility, then by the press and the people. Our "liberal failures" don't negate his abuses.
    I would also suggest that at least some of the reason for conservatives' liberal hatred is due to unrelenting propaganda and coordinated effort from mouthpieces of the right to promote lies or false characterizations of the left. Tribalism is firmly embedded on the right, just as much as Somerby believes it to exist on the left. How do you counteract decades of bad faith from the conservative media (and the Republican party), which leads people in my small Southern town to label Obama "evil", Hillary a "bitch", liberals as "traitors" (and this coming from churh-goers!)? I have heard these things with my very own ears. Some members of my own family believe them whole-heartedly. I'd love to discuss, for example, why the ACA wasn't such a bad thing, but they shut down the discussion by calling it "socialism" and "evil". My local state representative tweeted a joke the other day: "Definition of a Nazi: someone who wins an argument with a liberal". Do you think I feel represented by someone like that? And yes, he trumpets his Christian faith.
    I do agree with Mr. Somerby if he is trying to figure out a way for "liberals" to win more elections. That is the key. So tell us how to create a more winning strategy. Shall we hang our heads and cop to being "evil" or "fascists"? Shall we nominate a giant con man, and then when we win by the narrowest of margins, subvert our public duties, craft bills in secret, refuse to fulfill our constitutional duties, and ignore our duties of oversight against an abusive executive?

    1. We are the opposition party but somehow we are doing something wrong when we oppose? I don't buy it.

      The yay yay yay is insulting to us. I don't feel that way either. My experience of politics these days is dread.

      I don't understand Somerby's points any more. They make no sense at all to me. All I hear is a scolding tone aimed as often at liberals as at anyone else, and it is making me feel like I belong somewhere else. That isn't what this blog used to be about.

  2. The other thing that makes it look like "verdict first" from Alice in Wonderland is that the legal reasoning used to justify those decisions was so contrived and strained. It's bad when the Supreme Court stretches logic to reach a desired decision (as in Roe v Wade), but it's even worse when lower courts also do that.

    Trump foes like to claim that he's undermining democracy and the Constitution. But, I see that the Courts as the ones doing that.

    1. Can you explain Scalia's "Citizens United" decision, keeping in mind he's a "strict constructionist" and the Constitution never mentions corporations?
      Thanks in advance.

    2. Thanks for asking, Robert. The 1st Amendment doesn't mention corporations and it also doesn't mention people. It mentions Congress. It says "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech..." So, this Amendment protects all speech.

      BTW the McCain-Feingold law that this decision overturned was sneaky. The word "corporations" actually means "any organization". So, e.g., this law put restrictions on Planned Parenthood. Then, it allowed ads, but prohibited them near an election. So, it restricted the ability of Planned Parenthood to run an ad criticizing an anti-abortion candidate.

    3. Unsurprising the premise of your "e.g." is false.

      From www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/about-this-site:

      "The Planned Parenthood community is made up of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., (PPFA), which is the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider, and 56 independent affiliated local organizations - all operating under the Planned Parenthood name."

    4. Cool.
      Did they explain how something "free" (in this case speech) cost money? Or are we waiting for the corporate media, which charges real money for this "free" speech, to explain it to us?

    5. Tom -- I more or less knew the structure of PP, since my wife has been a member for 50+ years. But, how does that structure affect my point? Under McCain-Feingold, all of these PP units had restrictions on the political ads they could run.

    6. Bob Somerby is a great and wise man.

    7. {Tom here}
      If you don't understand the fallacy in your erroneous example, I can't help you. Say hello to your wife and tell her for me to keep up the good work.

    8. But, I see that the Courts as the ones doing that.

      It's perverse that you would say something like that and then choose to defend "Citizens United", one of the most extreme examples of judicial activism in the history of the Supreme Court.

    9. DavidincCal,
      Why, in the name of "Bong hits for Jesus", would you think Scalia cared at all about "free speech"?

  3. "We tend to blow past the question of how we ever managed to lose an election to someone like Trump in the first place."

    Asked and answered: America's white supremacy fetish.
    Just because you don't like the answer doesn't make it true, nor unasked.

    1. Don't forget the influence of Russia and Comey and the drip drip drip of WikiLeaks and voter suppression and the Sanders/Stein coalition to undermine Clinton's campaign. And now we hear about hacking of election systems in 39 states. Does this question even need to be asked?

    2. That hacking is about as real as a three dollar bill. Geez liberals are gullible.

    3. "Geez liberals are gullible."

      The right-wing and media (I know, same thing) know this. That's why they keep trying to convince them it wasn't white supremacy?

    4. 12:50 -- How could a country with a "white supremacy fetish" elect Obama twice, but not Hillary?

    5. Easily. It has a white male supremacy fetish. Unlike Trump, Mitt Romney and John McCain never made overt appeals to white supremacists.

    6. "How could a country with a "white supremacy fetish" elect Obama twice, but not Hillary?"

      Sure, since you weren't sentient at the time, allow me to explain.
      In 2008 Obama ran as Democrat and McCain ran as a Republican in our two-party system. Unfortunately (for McCain), there were no Republicans during the election campaign. There were only Democrats, Independents, and a new group called "The Tea Party". For some reasons*, you couldn't find any Republicans at the time, so the democratic Party candidate (Obama ) won the 2008 election.

      *Reportedly not wanting to take the blame for, among other things, the catastrophic response to the drowning of a major US city, a war of choice which costs upwards of $2.5 trillion---and did nothing but kick the hornet's nest over in the Middle East, and the crashing of the world's economy on the former Republican President's watch.

      In 2012, things were looking a bit better for Republicans, until they nominated a disaster capitalist to be their nominee, after disaster capitalists caused the worst recession in 7 decades. The GOP was so clueless, even the American public had to vote for the (half) black guy twice.

      Hillary, on the other hand, had the misfortune to run against a guy who, although was a known conman and sexual predator, also had the good fortune to be an inveterate racist, and wasn't afraid to let the American public know it.

      Anything else I can straighten you out on? Just ask.

    7. So, the racists voted for the black Democrat and voted against the white Democrat. Sorry, 3:59 and 11:01, your complex verbiage doesn't make that sound reasonable.

    8. Even a racist will vote for a black man instead of a white woman. I think white supremacists stayed home when Obama ran.

    9. 11:29 Your idea of a racist must be different from mine. The racists I remember would move Heaven and Earth to prevent a black President. If they couldn't assassinate the candidate, they'd be aggressively campaigning against him. They wouldn't just stay home.

      Perhaps you're of the era when a racist is just someone who doesn't use PC language.

    10. DavidinCal,
      Of course it doesn't make sense to you. You're doing everything in your power to not understand it.
      Again, in 2008 there were about a half-dozen Republicans, so Obama won because Dems voted for him and there were not many Republicans around to vote for the Republican candidate.
      In 2012, the choices were the (half) black guy, or the guy who represented the causes of the worst recession in 70 years, and that was a bridge too far even for them.
      In 2016, however, Republicans got a candidate who spoke to them and their White supremacy fetish, and although he was a known conman and admitted serial sexual predator, the sweet, sweet sound of his bigotry moved them to get out and vote for him.
      It's not that confusing, but you need to want to understand it in order to do so.
      "The racists I remember..."

      You don't have to remember them, David. They're your fellow conservatives today.

    11. "Perhaps you're of the era when a racist is just someone who doesn't use PC language."

      No one called me a racist, and I don't use PC language.
      There is no God, and there never was.

    12. "Perhaps you're of the era when a racist is just someone who doesn't use PC language."

      This from an obtuse (willfully or clueless - we report, you decide) troll who follows Breitbart's black crime section like an addicted horse-racing bettor follows a tout sheet.

    13. Even a racist thought Sammy Davis had talent. Oprah can live wherever she eants, but don't let one of the bad ones move onto your street. Why do you suppose Trump wanted to watch girls pee on the bed where Obama slept?

    14. It's very sad when you see a bean counter who can't add 2 + 2. Every neo-Nazi, alt-right, White Nationalist, KKK group in this country endorsed tRump with white hot fervor. rTump was their guy, the kind of guy that made them sit up and take notice - and vote, for many of them for the first time.

      Anyone who paid attention to White Wing Hate Radio during Obama's 2 terms would understand. These people hated the "establishment" republican wing. People like John Boehner who finally had to quit. They literally loathed John McCain for the sin of occasionally showing signs of humanity. They hated Mitt Romney because he was too meek. They despised Mitch McConnell for being a Rino and a sellout for allowing our government to continue paying its bills.

      These are the folks who pushed pussygrabber pervert lying bastard traitor tRump over the line.

      Really sad when a bean counter can't add 2 + 2.

    15. 12:37 wrote This from an obtuse (willfully or clueless - we report, you decide) troll who follows Breitbart's black crime section like an addicted horse-racing bettor follows a tout sheet.

      Good example of my point. It isn't PC to accurately report black crime. Doing so makes someone a racist, according to 12:37. (IMHO ignoring black crime does no favor for blacks, since most black crime involves black victims.)

    16. Do you do the same with white crime, DinC?
      Breitbart doesn't have that white crime section, so where do you go everyday to get that fix?

    17. 'Breitbart doesn't have that white crime section..."


  4. "Just because you don't like the answer doesn't make it untrue, nor unasked."

  5. Somerby grows more tiresome by the day, and is certainly no "liberal". He's like mickey kaus, in that he hates all other liberals, all their ideas, everything they stand for. Why don't you just stfu, bob, or at least admit where your true sympathies lie. This bullshit about your supposed liberal bona fides is nauseating.

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