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History Corner, With Dr. Jill Stein

[ 110 ] June 13, 2017 |

Above: Spooner Woulda Won!

Jeremy Scahill spent some time tossing whiffleballs* to Dr. Jill Stein, MD., and the results are hilarious:

JS: Which part of the Constitution says that we can only have two parties in this country?

J. Stein: Well, exactly —

Let’s stop here for a second. It’s not exactly news that there’s no affirmative cases whatsoever for third party wank voting in the United States. One way you call tell this is that people who defend it will literally argue “it’s not illegal!” as a defense. Oddly, people arguing “vote for the viable candidate closest to your views” never have to say “look, nothing in the United States Code forbids you from doing it!”

Anyway, back to the Comedy Store for tonight’s amateur stand-up:

J. Stein: No. [Laughs] And in fact, you know, when we originated, we had no parties in this country. And the parties that have always been affiliated with our real progress forward have generally been independent third parties, whether you look at the abolition of slavery. So, you know, when people call these independent third parties spoilers, that’s exactly what the abolitionists were called. They were called spoilers for daring to confront a very toxic and dangerous political system that kept us stuck in a very dangerous status quo. So, you know, there’s no doubt we need to open up with this process. We need a political process that creates multi-partisan democracy. That’s really where democracies get their best shot at moving forward and solving our crises.

The abolition of slavery came about because a large brokerage party led by a moderate who wasn’t an abolitionist when he took office won two elections, not as the result of an “independent third party.” Had anti-slavery forces coalesced as an independent party competing with the Whigs they would not have accomplished anything.

But the best part is that her promised list of examples of “real progress” coming from “independent third parties” consists of slavery and…look, Hillary Clinton’s EMAILS! Strange that she wouldn’t point out that we would never had have the New Deal and Great Society had the left not recognized that FDR and LBJ were the More Dangerous Evil and acted to throw the elections to Hoover and Goldwater.

But at least Scahill totally pressed Stein on this ludicrous historical fiction…hahah sorry, I can’t even finish that sentence.

*Speaking of HARD-HITTING INTERVIEWS, in comments keta notes this gem from the Nation‘s fellation of interview with Oliver Stone:

The Nation: In terms of the history of documentaries, can you compare The Putin Interviews to nonfiction films that tackle and upend congealed narratives, such as Michael Moore’s 2004 Fahrenheit 9/11, Errol Morris’ s 1988 The Thin Blue Line and 2003’s The Fog of War, Frederick Wiseman’s 1967 Titicut Follies, Emile de Antonio and Mark Lane’s 1967 Rush to Judgment? These documentaries had countervailing points of view and helped changed public opinion. Can you put The Putin Interviews into that context?

Similarly, I hope everyone will read this blog post in the appropriate context among works of comparable influence and stature, such as Master of the Senate, Battle Cry of Freedom, and Black Reconstruction.


More On Russia’s War on American Democracy THE NEW MCCARTHYISM

[ 170 ] June 13, 2017 |

I hate to district us again from the most important issue facing the country going forward — that someone who will never run for president again sucks — but this is very bad:

Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.

In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said.

The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step — complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day “red phone.” In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia’s role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.

However! We at LGM believe in a Both Sides Do It Fair And Balanced approached to the news, so as a counterpoint let me present this very coherent and refreshingly non-sequitur free defense of Putin from Mr. Oliver Stone:

The Nation: Seventeen US intelligence agencies all came to the same conclusion about Russian hacking, so everybody on the left has to say, “They must know what they are talking about.” So you don’t buy that these 17 intelligence agencies are telling the truth?

Stone: No, because they backed off on it… There were three agencies—the CIA, NSA ,and FBI. They cooked this intelligence. That’s my word [not Putin’s]… These are serious allegations: That Trump was a Manchurian candidate. The influence on the election from the Russians to me is absurd to the naked eye. Israel has far more influence on American elections through AIPAC. Saudi Arabia has influence through money… Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers have much more influence on American elections… And the prime minister of Israel comes to our country and addresses Congress to criticize the president’s policy in Iran at the time—that’s pretty outrageous.

Our country is very much in the grip of a dictator: The dictator is money, the military-industrial-complex… It’s beyond absurd to have this kind of expenditure every year on military…

If only the Marxist radical JFK hadn’t been assassinated, we wouldn’t have had any of these problems.


[ 209 ] June 13, 2017 |

Team Trump is floating the idea of firing Robert Mueller. I agree it’s very possible, and these are the most compelling reasons:

First, Trump has a very strong motive to fire Mueller: he is probably guilty. Several of Trump’s associates have obscured or lied about their meetings with or financial ties to Russia, Trump has taken a curiously pro-Russian approach to a series of diplomatic issues (including handing over sensitive information to Russian diplomats), and his son-in-law tried to establish a secret communications line to Moscow. Even if Trump and his inner circle turn out to be innocent of the underlying crime, he is obviously guilty of obstructing justice: demanding loyalty of the FBI Director, asking him to halt an investigation into a presidential crony, asking other intelligence officials to make this request as well, firing him, and then publicly admitting he did it to quash the Russia investigation is comically transparent fact pattern.

Trump continues to take actions that are difficult to explain if he is innocent and only sensible if he is guilty. A year ago, it seemed implausible to imagine that he could actually make it through the campaign without releasing his tax returns. What could he possibly have to hide that would be worse than the appearance of guilt he was inviting? Perhaps the answer is the same as why he might fire Mueller. What would be worse than the backlash from firing Mueller? The outcome of Mueller’s investigation, maybe.


Third, Trump has endlessly violated a series of norms that appeared to be inviolable. From the outset of his candidacy, party officials warned him that his behavior – the absurd and promiscuous lying, refusal to disclose his tax returns, refusal to divest his business interests as president, undisciplined tweeting, and on and on – would have to stop.

These experiences have taught Trump that the caterwauling Republicans have no real power to hold him back. He can accuse Ted Cruz’s father of killing Jack Kennedy, and call his wife ugly, and however angry he gets, Cruz will come crawling back. Republican warnings have always proved empty.

Why should the firing of Mueller play out much differently than the firing of Comey? The pro-Trump right will back him enthusiastically on Fox News and talk radio. The anti-anti-Trump right, a smaller and weaker faction, might initially object, but will quickly turn its attention to quibbling with or mocking his critics. (Get a load of this Berkeley professor who says firing Mueller is like the Reichstag fire! Or what about the time Bill Clinton or Barack Obama did something bad?)

Admittedly, there are some elements of a scenario where Trump fires Mueller that are a little tricky to game out. Such as, how many congressional Republicans will express concern as they do nothing about Trump, how many congressional Republicans will say that they’re disturbed as they do nothing about Trump, and how many will not even pretend to give a shit as they do nothing about Trump? Tough question!

All “X Woulda Won” Arguments Are Essentially Useless

[ 282 ] June 12, 2017 |

BALTIMORE, MD –5/15/10– Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley gives the thumb up right before the start of the 135th running of the Preakness Stakes. PHOTO BY:Kenneth K. Lam [Baltimore Sun staff] #2477 MANDATORY CREDIT: Baltimore Examiner and Washington Examiner OUT ORG XMIT: BAL1005152007330720

Jeremy Corbyn’s impressive performance in the snap election has led to another round of “Bernie woulda won” assertions. To state the obvious, this is a taunt, not an argument. A narrow defeat by the out party in a completely different political and media context says absolutely nothing about what tactics or candidates would have won the 2016 American presidential election. And nobody really believes that it does.  Is anyone making “Bernie woulda won” arguments going to argue that Macron — who actually won the presidency and whose new party won crushing legislative majorities — is evidence that neoliberalism is the best weapon against fascism and the Democrats should emulate him? Of course not. And they’re right! But this is because of substantive policy reasons, not political reasons. And I wish people would just say that, rather that this bad faith Mark Halperin crap about how my policy preferences are always the best politics in every election in every jurisdiction.

Well, almost nobody. Ygelsias tries to salvage the argument by taking it out of the realm of the pundit’s fallacy:

I think this is entirely possible, particularly with a generic white guy Dem like Biden or O’Malley. Sanders I dunno — I have a hard time imagining political reporters for whom deficit and entitlement cuts are some of the view things where Views Do Not Reasonably Differ warming up to Bernie, but then compared to Clinton media treatment is pretty much all upside. And presumably the Director of the FBI would not have baselessly implied than any of them were crooks less than 2 weeks before the election. And if Bernie might have got less favorable media treatment than a generic candidate he also has base mobilizing potential that they didn’t.

Having said that, this line of reasoning still doesn’t strike me as very useful:

  • The logic here — a candidate with higher favorability ratings would have done better — is solid. But nobody knows how another candidate’s favorability would have held up during a campaign. Hillary Clinton was popular before she started running for president too.
  • The argument has an implied ceteris paribus condition. The election came down to less that 100,000 votes. Take away the director of the FBI baselessly implying that Clinton was a crook and generating a massive wave of negative coverage less than two weeks before the election, and the Democratic candidate almost certainly wins, all else being equal. This is true as far as it goes.  But you can’t just assume a Democratic candidate is ahead on October 27.  This suggests that there’s nothing that Clinton did well that a generic candidate wouldn’t, and I don’t think that’s true. In particular, she’s the best debater of any major Democratic candidate of my lifetime — Obama very much included — and her pasting Trump in the three debates and winning the media spin on them set her up to win had Comey not decided to go Jim McAllister. A lot of people seem to think that beating Trump in the debates was a no-brainer, but (and ask Rubio, Jeb!, Cruz et al.) that’s really not true. As anyone who’s done it knows, debating a bullshit artist/insult comic is not easy, at all. I think Bernie and especially Biden might not have shown her discipline and preparation. O’Malley who knows, but…sorry, I just nodded off trying to remember him trying to speak. But at any rate, you can’t just use an alternative candidate to change one thing about the campaign — a different candidate has their own mix of strengths and weaknesses, and in a structurally close election you can’t make an assumption that holds everything but one event constant.
  • Still, given Clinton’s high negatives I don’t think the first two points are the biggest problem with the counterfactual. The real problem, as I’ve mentioned before, is that when you posit a Sanders (or O’Malley or Biden or Webb) who can beat Clinton, you’re positing a different and non-existent candidate.  A Bernie Sanders had spent decades cultivating relationships with major Democratic constituencies and done well enough to hold his own in Southern primaries would be a very strong candidate — but Bernie didn’t actually do that. Speculating about how Martin O’Malley would have done had he won the Democratic primaries rather than getting roughly six votes strikes me as about as useful as speculating about how Wonder Woman or Abraham Lincoln, Vampire-Killer would have done in the general. Sure, an O’Malley who could win the nomination would probably be a pretty strong candidate, but he also doesn’t exist. A Joe Biden who was committed to running, disciplined, persuaded Obama that he was the better candidate, and didn’t have two zero-delegate primary runs under his belt…you get the idea. It’s OK to discuss alternatives as a parlor-game hypothetical, but it’s really not a very useful exercise either retrospectively or prospectively.

One error people are making in analyzing the British elections is conflating beating structural limitations with beating expectations. In the abstract, it’s not all that surprising that Labour would pick up ground in a snap election called by a weak leader of a party that had just committed a massive political blunder. The outcome was surprising because a lot of people thought Corbyn was an even worse candidate than May. Granting that for a while polls seemed to reflect this, the conventional “wisdom” turned out to be completely wrong.  But if the lesson you take from this election is that we should be very confident about who would or wouldn’t be a good candidate ex ante, I would suggest you reconsider.

The Cosby Trial

[ 90 ] June 12, 2017 |

I strongly recommend all of the reporting Diana Moskovitz has been doing on the Cosby trial. This is especially good:

At some point, Andrea Constand’s story became not her own.

At first it was because of the media trucks, parked in front of her family’s home back in Canada before she even had a chance to talk to police in person back in Pennsylvania. Then it was the machinations in which the American legal system works, where police and lawyers are supposed to do the talking for you. And then it was due to a nondisclosure agreement, practically par for the course in American civil suits, especially those involving someone with the wealth and fame of Bill Cosby, which didn’t allow her to talk about the night she said the once legendary comedian drugged her, then sexually assaulted her at his own home. Her story was always invoked by someone else—a lawyer, a police officer, a court document, a candidate for district attorney, or the dozens of women who came forward after her.

On Tuesday, finally, Constand spoke for herself about what happened that night. She told it with a powerful composure, while under oath and with Cosby sitting just feet away, never losing her cool even under cross examination (which wasn’t wrapped up today and will be concluded tomorrow). Her account will be the most detailed one given to jurors, as Cosby’s legal team has said he won’t testify.

Her testimony will be, for those who have followed the Cosby case closely, in some ways quite familiar. But this time, for the first time in a long time, Constand was able to speak directly about what happened in her own words.

And, yes, it’s worth remembering the role that Deadspin’s former parent site played in Cosby having to face charges. I’ve made this point before, but a 500 page biography of Cosby came out in 2014 that didn’t mention the sexual assault allegations at all, and reviews often glanced off this point or ignored it entirely. Without Buress and Scocca, the charges might have remained buried.

Poker With Dick Cheney

[ 133 ] June 11, 2017 |

In response to the sound point that anyone who believes that Clinton colluded with the Russians is someone you’d like to play poker with, Warren Terra responded:

Sure, right up to the point where they insist their skip-straight beats your two pair, or their all-red “semi-flush” beats your ace-high, and they get belligerent and kick over the table. Up to that point it’s just been a pleasant evening of cards with a gibbering paranoid loon.

Hogan had the same idea I had in a follow-up comment, but you young ‘uns gather around and be introduced to a treasure from the early age of the political internets from the regrettably departed Editors:

The Editors: We’ll take three cards.

Dick Cheney: Give me one.

Sounds of cards being placed down, dealt, retrieved, and rearranged in
hand. Non-commital noises, puffing of cigars.

TE: Fifty bucks.

DC: I’m in. Show ’em.

TE: Two pair, sevens and fives.

DC: Not good enough.

TE: What do you have?

DC: Better than that, that’s for sure. Pay up.

TE: Can you show us your cards?

DC: Sure. One of them’s a six.

TE: You need to show all your cards. That’s the way the game is played.

Colin Powell: Ladies and gentlemen. We have accumulated overwhelming
evidence that Mr. Cheney’s poker hand is far, far better than two pair.
Note this satellite photo, taken three minutes ago when The Editors
went to get more chips. In it we clearly see the back sides of five
playing cards, arranged in a poker hand. Defector reports have assured
us that Mr. Cheney’s hand was already well advanced at this stage.
Later, Mr. Cheney drew only one card. Why only one card? Would a man
without a strong hand choose only one card? We are absolutely convinced
that Mr. Cheney has at least a full house.

Tim Russert: Wow. Colin Powell really hit a homerun for the
Administration right there. A very powerful performance. My dad played
a lot of poker in World War 2, and he taught me many things about life.
Read my book.


DC: We will show you our cards after we have collected the pot. It is
important that things be done in this order, otherwise the foundation
of our entire poker game will be destroyed.

TE: We aren’t sure …

DC: Very good. And here are my cards. A straight flush.

Judith Miller: Dick Cheney has revealed a straight flush, confirming
his pre-collection claims about beating two pair.

TE: Those cards are of different suits. It’s not a flush.

Mark Steyn: When will it end? Now liberal critics complain that Dick
Cheney’s cards are not all the same suit. Naturally, these are the same
liberals who are always whining about a lack of diversity in higher
education. It seems like segregation is OK with these liberals, as long
as it damages Republicans.

A witness has come forward claiming that The Editors engage in racial
profiling in blog-linking. Developing …

TE: Wait! It’s not even a straight! You’ve got a eight and ten of
hearts, a six of clubs, and the seven and five of diamonds. You have a
ten high. That’s nothing.

Sean Hannity: Well, well, well. In another sign of liberal desperation,
liberals now complain that a ten high is “nothing”. Does ten equal zero
in liberal mathematics? That would explain a lot.

Robert Novak: It’s a perfectly valid poker hand. Apparently, liberals
have never heard of a “skip straight”. It’s a kind of straight, just
with one card missing. But if you skip around the missing nine, it’s a

Alan Colmes: Mother says I mustn’t play poker.

TE: There is no such thing as a “skip straight”.

Brit Hume: It seems like some people are still playing poker like it’s
September 10th. Back then, you needed to have all your cards in order
to claim a straight. But, as we learned on that day, sometimes you
won’t have perfect knowledge. Sometimes you have to learn to connect
the dots, and see the patterns which are not visible to superficial
analysis of the type favored by the CIA and the State Department. Dick
Cheney’s skip straight is a winning poker hand for the post-9/11 world.

Rush Limbaugh: Do The Editors have two pairs, or a pair of twos? First
they say one thing, then another. What are they hiding?

Andrew Sullivan: Dick Cheney never said he had a straight. He was very
careful about this. His cards can form many different hands. None of
these hands alone can beat a pair of twos; but, taken together, the
combination of all possible hands presents a more compelling case for
taking the pot than simply screaming “Pair of twos! Pair of twos!” as
unprincipled liberal critics of the Vice President so often do.

Trust me — it’s all this good.

Fortunately, the media learned their lesson, and never took Republican snipe hunts at face value with catastrophic results again.

Checking In On One of Trump’s Favorite Authoritarians

[ 42 ] June 11, 2017 |

Wisconsin juries are rather less impressed with David Clarke’s prison system than the President of the United States:

A federal jury Wednesday awarded $6.7 million to a woman who was raped repeatedly by a guard when she was being held in the Milwaukee County Jail four years ago.

The guard, Xavier Thicklen, was acting under his scope of employment when the sexual assaults occurred and therefore Milwaukee County is liable for the damages amount, the jury determined.

The jury also found there was “no legitimate government purpose” to shackle the woman during childbirth labor, but jurors did not find she was injured and therefore awarded her no monetary damages, according to Theresa Kleinhaus, a Chicago attorney who litigated the case with other attorneys from the firm.

Kleinhaus said her client was pleased with the verdicts. The plaintiff is not being named because she was a victim of a sexual assault.

“She was raped repeatedly at the age of 19. She sought justice and she is glad the system delivered that justice,” Kleinhaus said. “She hopes to prevent other women from being sexually assaulted in the Milwaukee County Jail.”

Trump doesn’t love Clarke in spite of this kind of thing happening under his watch, but because of it.

Great Moments In False Equivalence

[ 170 ] June 11, 2017 |

Janet Jackson – Nasty (Music Video) from Mary Lambert, Director on Vimeo.

It has occurred to New York Times Climate Troofer In Chief Bret Stephens that Both Sides Do It:

The real winner in Britain’s election is Jeremy Corbyn, who led the Labour Party to a 32-seat gain over its disastrous electoral showing in 2015. Corbyn is a man whose only notable concession to conventional politics has been a necktie. He has done as much to shove the Labour Party to the nasty left as Donald Trump has shoved the Republican Party to the ugly right.

OK, you think Trump, a racist authoritarian buffoon currently trying to take health care from more than 20 million people to pay for a massive upper-class tax cut. But Jeremy Corbyn wants to raise taxes on the most affluent to pay for benefits for the less affluent, perhaps even making the political economy of the United Kingdom more like such desolate hellholes as France and Germany. Equally scary when you think about it.

I’ll leave the final word to Nathan:

Pundits Can’t Get Clinton Derangement Off Their Jock, It’s Like Static Cling

[ 259 ] June 10, 2017 |

You may remember T.A. Frank from such articles as “Chelsea Clinton’s anodyne Twitter feed is destroying America.” You will probably remember him for his forthcoming article, “Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky’s nefarious scheme to impose neoliberalism on her elementary school student council.” His latest article is “Can Hillary Clinton Go Quietly Into the Night.” It is certainly…representative of the “Clinton should adhere to newly invented “tradition” that losing candidates disappear from public life” genre:

We can’t expect them to accept this, of course. Psychologist Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, has famously observed that optimists tend to do better in life but exhibit more delusion. They tend to attribute failure to changing external factors rather than enduring internal qualities, blaming outside causes, not themselves. Hillary—who has been pinning her defeat on Comey and Vladimir Putin and the Democratic National Committee and Wikileaks and “a thousand Russian agents” and high expectations and the press and sexism and voter suppression and, for all I know, static cling—is a major optimist. That’s great for persistence and mental well-being. She’s ready to keep driving the bus. But it’s not so great for knowing when to quit. That’s where the passengers come in.

You have to love the incredibly smarmy setup here. You will note, while he calls Clinton delusional and irrational, that Frank has no case to make on the merits about, say, the very strong evidence that the Comey letter influenced the campaign. He just asserts without any argument — let alone evidence — that thinking that the director of the FBI baselessly implying that Clinton was a crook, or awful substance-free press coverage, or vote suppression (!), or Russian/Wikileaks ratfucking influced the election is as irrational as thinking that “static cling” affected the election. I don’t think Clinton is the delusional one here.

But it’s even worse than that. Frank frames the whole column as concern about the future of the party. But Clinton making some banal observations about factors that obviously influenced the outcome of the election is not an indication that she wants to “keep driving the bus,” and indeed they will have no effect at all on any future election whatsoever. Vote suppression, ratfucking by domestic and foreign opponents, and substance-free media coverage devoted to Both Sides Do It coverage, conversely, are all highly relevant going forward. Because the point of these columns isn’t to think about how to win about future elections; the point is pundits seizing on any excuse to say that Hillary Clinton sucks.

Admittedly, Frank may have been set off by Clinton’s recent appearance on Meet the Press [H/T to Rebecca Traister]:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you a photograph from Inauguration Day. Here is George W. Bush giving his second inaugural address. And there watching is John Kerry.

SEN. KERRY: I was in the wrong seat there, wasn’t I?

MR. RUSSERT: What was going through your mind at that moment on that morning?

SEN. KERRY: Respect for the process, not feeling sorry for myself at all. I mean, look, I think we waged a great campaign. Did we make some mistakes? You bet we did. I take responsibility for them. You know, I am the person in charge, my campaign, I am responsible. I am not going to sit around worrying about what we did or didn’t do. But we did some unbelievable things. We raised more money than any Democratic campaign in history. We involved more volunteers than any campaign in history. I won more votes than any candidate on the Democratic side has ever won in history. I lost, Tim, to an incumbent president by a closer margin than an incumbent president has ever won re-election before in the history of the country, and if you add up the popular vote in the battleground states, I won the popular vote in the battleground states by two percentage points. We just didn’t distribute it correctly in Ohio.

So I think we did a great job, and we are going to continue to build on that campaign as I am now with my Kids First health plan. We have over 400,000 co-sponsors through the Internet who want to fight for this, and we are going to fight for it.

MR. RUSSERT: At the Clinton Library dedication on November 18, a few weeks after the election, you were quoted as saying, “It was the Osama bin Laden tape. It scared the voters,” the tape that appeared just a day before the election here. Do you believe that tape is the reason you lost the race?

SEN. KERRY: I believe that 9/11 was the central deciding issue in this race. And the tape–we were rising in the polls up until the last day when the tape appeared. We flat-lined the day the tape appeared and went down on Monday. I think it had an impact. But 9/11, you know, it’s a very difficult hurdle when a country is at war. I applauded the president’s leadership in the days immediately afterwards. I thought he did a good job in that, and he obviously connected to the American people in those immediate days. When a country is at war and in the wake of 9/11, it’s very difficult to shift horses in midstream. I think it’s remarkable we came as close as we did as a campaign. Many Republicans say we beat their models by four or five points as to what they thought we could achieve.

I am proud of the campaign, Tim. And I think if you look at what we did in states, I mean, millions of new voters came into this process. I won the youth vote. I won the independent vote. I won the moderate vote. If you take half the people at an Ohio State football game on Saturday afternoon and they were to have voted the other way, you and I would be having a discussion today about my State of the Union speech.

Oh, sorry, my mistake — this was John Kerry on January 30, 2005. Oddly, this appearance did not set off a wave of pundits arguing that John Kerry was obligated to retire from public life and certainly never to make any comment about the election other than “I ran the worst campaign in known human history and I go to the box and feel shame.” This is for the obvious reason that this Longstanding Tradition is sexist nonsense that was invented in May 2017. And AFICT nobody argued that Kerry’s comments were CONSUMING OXYGEN that would prevent the next generation of Democratic leadership from emerging, presumably because the idea that interviews or speeches given by losing candidates affect future primary or general elections is transparently idiotic, and this is obvious to anyone in any context that doesn’t involve Hillary Clinton.

Congress Should Ban Noncompete Clauses

[ 131 ] June 9, 2017 |

Evidently, the labor agenda of the next sane Congress is going to be very crowded. But something that should be on it has a national ban on noncompete clauses. This story provides many excellent illustrations of why:

Keith Bollinger’s paycheck as a factory manager had shriveled after the 2008 financial crisis, but then he got a chance to pull himself out of recession’s hole. A rival textile company offered him a better job — and a big raise.

When he said yes, it set off a three-year legal battle that concluded this past week but wiped out his savings along the way.

“I tried to get a better life for my wife and my son, and it backfired,” said Mr. Bollinger, who is 53. “Now I’m in my mid-50s, and I’m ruined.”

Mr. Bollinger had signed a noncompete agreement, designed to prevent him from leaving his previous employer for a competitor. These contracts have long been routine among senior executives. But they are rapidly spreading to employees like Mr. Bollinger, who do the kind of blue-collar work that President Trump has promised to create more of.

To the extent that there are legitimate reasons for noncompete clauses, they can be addressed with narrower provisions about trade secrets. But as the article makes clear, in many or most cases intellectual property concerns are just a pretext, in the way that “competitive balance” is used to justify suppressing salaries in professional sports. (Bonus points when people defend salary caps by defending the legendary competitive balance of the National Chalk Association.) The spread of non-compete clauses makes clear that businesses (and their political patrons) don’t favor “markets” per se — if employees gain leverage they’re happy to suppress markets however they can.

Admittedly, California has banned noncompete clauses and the tech industry has completely vanis…I’ll come in again.

Did Comey Violate Executive Privelege? (SPOILER: This Is Dumb Even By Trump’s Standards)

[ 127 ] June 9, 2017 |

Does it violate executive privilege for a private citizen to recount conversations he or she had with the president? Evidently, to state the premise is to refute it — is every one of Bob Woodward’s sources facing a jail term? But just in case:

After the public testimony of former FBI Director James Comey on Thursday, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, released a statement. In addition to being riddled with typos, it contained a curious legal argument.

Kasowitz contended that Comey broke the law by leaking memos about his private conversations with the president — what the statement called an “unauthorized disclosure of private information.”

The not-so-subtle implication here is that any and every conversation with the president is privileged, and therefore protected under the law. That’s a rather broad interpretation of executive privilege, and one that 10 legal experts disputed in interviews with Vox.

Executive privilege exists for a reason: to protect against the forced disclosures of classified or confidential executive branch communications. But here’s the problem: The conversations between Trump and Comey were not classified. Moreover, because the president himself has publicly referred to the conversations in question, he has already waived any claim for executive privilege. That Comey is now a private citizen also weakens the Kasowitz’s claim that he’s bound to secrecy.

 There is, however, little settled law on the question of executive privilege. So I reached out to 10 legal experts and asked them if Kasowitz’s interpretation of executive privilege makes any sense. Every one of them said it doesn’t.

Yesterday was truly the day Trump became Predisent.

Meanwhile, Johnathan Turley wishes to make it clear that he’s available for any wingnut or fake-balance TV slot that Alan Dershowitz is unavailable for.

Tories to Use Cranks to Form Coalition

[ 198 ] June 9, 2017 |

As we all know, recently a flawed candidate facing an extremely hostile media ran a solid campaign that barely lost, but with an attractive and progressive platform that clearly indicated the direction the party was headed in. But enough about Hillary Clinton! There was an election yesterday in the UK, in which the Tories were humiliated by a strong opposition campaign, but it looks like they’ll just be able to hang on to the government:

Democratic Unionist leader and last first minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster says she wants to “bring stability to our nation” by backing Theresa May and the Tories to continue in power.

Foster added that she is now entering discussions with May over the details of any arrangement that would prop up a new government.

Foster said the election in Northern Ireland where 10 DUP MPs were elected to the Commons was a “great result” for the union. She confirmed that May had been in contact with her on Friday morning about gaining DUP support for a minority Tory administration.”

“I make no apology for wanting the best for Northern Ireland and all of the union,” Foster said at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast just across the road from the main entrance to the Stormont Parliament, which remains in cold storage while talks begin next week to restore devolution.

This sounds like a pretty fragile government to me, but I’ll leave it to Dave and Christa.

…I also completely agree that “could a better candidate running on this platform have won?” counterfactuals are dumb.  Since the candidate who would 1)run on the platform Corbyn ran on and 2)had more support within the party…doesn’t exist it’s a silly thing to argue about. Corbyn won the leadership and he won it again and he did better than could have been reasonably expected in the election.

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