Not enough people paid attention to what happened in the Southern District of New York last night, so let me quickly summarize in the most basic of terms.
Bill Barr, Attorney General of the United States
Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York
Donald Trump, a bag of that toilet crust in nasty people’s apartments
The Southern District of New York, possibly the most important jurisdiction in the country because it covers Manhattan, where Wall Street crimes take place as well as most of Trump’s fraudulent activity.
Berman is investigating Trump.
Back in 2017 Trump, through then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, requested the resignations of 46 US Attorneys from across the country, and the media went a little crazy in reporting it because it was so abrupt and hadn’t happened in so long, but it was perfectly normal. Obama and Dubbya both replaced US Attorneys from various districts, but they did it gradually. It felt like the new norm because there hadn’t been an abrupt firing in almost 25 years, but it wasn’t unprecedented — Bill Clinton fired 93 (of 94!) US Attorneys after he took office in the early 90s.
Preet Bharara was the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and in November 2016, Trump told Bharara that he’d be staying in his position because he’d been effective. Unfortunately for Bharara (and all of us), he was investigating two of Trump’s buddies: Tom Price, Trump’s Secretary of Health & Human Services (for writing legislation affecting certain health-related corporations while he was trading stocks for those same corporations), and Roger Ailes/Fox News (for covering up sexual assault and harassment allegations). Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, told Trump that Bharara wouldn’t hesitate to go after him, and Bharara was fired less than a day after he refused to take a call from Trump.
Trump fired Preet Bharara, and Geoffrey Berman was appointed to fill the vacancy by the Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York on an interim basis until Trump appointed someone else. Berman had previously been an Assistant US Attorney in this district back in the 90s and he’s a strong prosecutor. Trump didn’t appoint a successor, and Berman was unanimously elected by all of the judges in this district to fill the position until someone else was appointed and approved by the Senate.
Berman isn’t afraid of Trump any more than Bharara was, so he’s investigating Trump and everyone around him, and Trump has wanted Barr to get rid of him for months. The only reason this didn’t happen sooner is those investigations. If Trump had fired Berman right after he sent Michael Cohen to jail or right after opening an investigation into Rudy Giuliani or Jeffrey Epstein, the uproar would have been deafening. Trump & Barr wanted to take advantage of the country’s shifting focus — we’re all talking about the pandemic and the marches for equality and nobody is really thinking about what the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York is doing. So at 9pm on a Friday night when nobody is supposedly paying attention, Bill Bar said Berman was being replaced by Jay Clayton, a lawyer with no experience as a prosecutor, who is the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Clayton told his buddy Trump he was interested in the US Attorney Job and Trump would love to have a friend in that position so that’s that.
Some SDNY news... the U.S. Attorney for N.J. is taking over SDNY on an acting basis as Geoffrey Berman steps down. pic.twitter.com/gio0AHO0oT— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) June 20, 2020
Can we just take a moment to reflect on how boldly this administration lies to us? They said, in print no less, that Geoffrey Berman is stepping down, and he hadn’t even been notified that he was being fired, let alone stepping down.
Berman released a statement saying he found out about his firing at the same time as everyone else and he has no intention to vacate his post before a nominee had been confirmed by the Senate. So now we have another mess of Trump’s making. Nobody knows if Berman can hold on to his post or if he has to vacate while an interim fills the position until a nominee is confirmed.
Also, here’s an interesting wrinkle for Trump: Matroness Lindsey Olin Graham Sugarbaker Deveraux is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, so Trump probably thinks Clayton will sail through the Committee and onto the floor for a vote. Lady G doesn’t seem inclined to cooperate.
The fate of Clayton’s nomination is also uncertain. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, said Saturday he had not heard from the Trump administration about its plans to replace Berman but praised Clayton as “a fine man and accomplished lawyer.”
However, Graham (R-S.C.) indicated he would defer to the Senate’s “blue slip” tradition, in which individual senators may effectively block the nomination of someone who hails from their home state. That would empower Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to stop Clayton from advancing through the Judiciary Committee — and Schumer has already indicated he thinks Clayton should withdraw from consideration.
Whether Berman keeps his post, loses his post to Clayton, or loses it to someone else, Trump is clearly trying to halt investigations into his and his buddies’ shady dealings by replacing a US Attorney with his friend.
Checks and balances my ass.
Don’t worry about the Supreme Court.
We can’t stop whatever will happen, but we can mitigate the damage if we flip the Senate and put Biden in the White House.
From what I can tell on The Internets, America has suddenly been thrown into complete chaos and her very future is now in question because a 90-year-old lady “unexpectedly” died after 47 brushes with cancer. As a natural cynic and charming pessimist, I agree! The United States is circling the drain…but we were already doing that anyway. At any rate, I have calmed myself down by mulling over all of the possible scenarios that may arise over the next few months, because even if all of the outcomes are terrible, I feel better if I know what they are. This is what I’ve come up with, from best case to worst case.
Cheetolini decides not to put forth a nominee, loses the election.
As of this morning, President Velveeta was was still telling the country he plans to nominate someone, most likely a woman, most likely this weekend, about a month before the election. However! He is a perpetual liar, and a self-serving, world class sack of shit. Most of the Republican Establishment wants a nominee and a quick confirmation because that will give us the most Conservative Supreme Court in decades, and with a 6-3 split, they can outlaw abortion, gay marriage, and all happiness for the next generation.
Pumpkin Spice Putin is not part of the Republican Establishment. He’s a lone wolf who only cares about himself, and if the wrong (right!) person whispers in his ear that dangling a nominee is better for him politically, he would probably go that route. It’s perfectly logical: Elect me again, and I’ll nominate this conservative judge and hand over the Supreme Court to the GOP for the next 20 or 30 years. It’s a good strategy considering he has nothing to brag about right now. Then we beat him in November, and the problem is solved.
The nominee doesn’t make it to a vote or isn’t confirmed, and Adolf Twittler loses.
Not making it to a vote and not being confirmed are slightly different but still dependent upon the same handful of Senators who pretend to be a smidge more independent from the rest of the Republican Party. Back in Obama’s term, Mitch McConnell and Matroness Lindsey Olin Graham Devereaux Sugarbaker said the President shouldn’t be able to seat a Supreme Court justice during an election cycle. They are liars, and no amount of shaming them for their hypocrisy will matter, so please stop wasting your breath on this. If you want something to pay attention to, keep watch on which Senators have now said — since RBG passed away — that they still believe that. As I’m writing, this is the count:
You can keep up on the Washington Post, but Democrats need four Republicans to withhold their support in order for the vote to fail. Right now there are two confirmed and one maybe with 29 yet to speak on the topic. Hopefully Mitt Romney will find that backbone he pretended he had a few months ago and do the right thing.
There’s a confirmation, but we take the Senate and Biden wins.
Republicans don’t have principles, so I’m not counting on four of them to actually block the nominee. If Biden wins and we pick up the Senate, we could pack the court and make the newest Conservative windbag useless. If Uncle Joe wins, we only need to pick up three Senate seats to take power because Kamala will be the tie breaker. The reelection landscape is a great map for us this year, because the Blue seats up for reelection are pretty solid and there are fewer of them. There are a lot of Red seats, and a good number have started to lean Blue or fall into the tossup category.
Nothing in the Constitution says we have to have nine Supreme Court justices. We’ve had between five and ten. The last President to seriously attempt to expand the court was FDR, but he was met with a lot of resistance even within his own party and he failed.
That was then, and this is now. Democratic voters are tired of being represented by politicians who won’t even bust a grape in a fruit fight. Republicans come armed with assault rifles and we show up with one boxing glove from the early 60s with moth holes in it. We are ready to replace them with people who will actually do their jobs and they know that, which is why they’re already floating the idea of packing the Court if McConnell successfully pulls off this power grab. Biden is on record from a long time ago saying it would be a bad idea to pack the Court and Conservative Democrats say it sets a bad precedent, that whichever party is in power will just alter the Court and it will no longer be a stable, non-political institution, but screw all of them. It’s time to actually play the game, or get off the field.
There’s no confirmation and we take the Senate, but Biden loses.
In this case, everything I just wrote applies, except Kim Jong Ugly vetoes whatever act we pass to expand the court. We’d need a two-thirds majority in both chambers of Congress to override him, and we just won’t ever have the numbers for that. We’re stuck with a 6-3 court for at least the next four years. If Stephen Breyer retires (and he definitely will), the Senate should block any nominations and just hold the Court in place until 2024 when we run somebody better than Joe Biden.
There’s no confirmation before the election, Mango Mussolini wins, and we don’t take the Senate.
There’s a confirmation, the Fanta Fascist wins, and we don’t take the Senate.
Those Senators who don’t believe an outgoing President should seat a Supreme Court judge would then vote to confirm if Biden loses in November. There is a scenario where he wins, but we take the Senate, and those Senators say “the people have spoken, and their Senators should decide who the next judge is” but we already know that’s not going to happen. The Supreme Court will be 6-3. Breyer will retire (or retire) and the Supreme Court will be 7-2. In that case, you will find me in Sweden with my new husband or wife who says my dark skin is “exotic” and I’ll just deal with the fetishization for however long it says on the pre-nup before I can get a divorce and enough money to live on.
But seriously, if you want to do something, save your energy for what matters. You can’t shame a Republican Senator into sticking to what they said five minutes ago, let alone four years ago. Whether or not there’s a confirmation is completely out of your hands, so don’t worry about it. Let that go. We’ll get a sixth Conservative judge by November, or we won’t. You can’t do anything about it. What you can do is prevent a 7-2 Court by focusing on the Senate races that could flip Blue. What you can do is work for a 13 seat Court by focusing on those races and making sure Biden wins in November.
Mitch McConnell will win his race. Stop giving AmyMcGrath your money. Focus on the Democratic challengers in these six races:
Mark Kelly, Arizona
John Hickenlooper, Colorado
Theresa Greenfiend, Iowa
Sara Gideon, Maine
Steve Bullock, Montana
Cal Cunningham, North Carolina
We can’t stop whatever will happen, but we can mitigate the damage if we flip the Senate and put Biden in the White House. So let’s focus on that part.
And now, I’m off to hit these Swedish lessons on Duolingo because this whole country finna be on fire the day after the election regardless of who wins anyway.
Niecy Nash ties the knot with singer Jessica Betts.
This is Beyonce levels of keeping your mouth shut and we commend everyone in the Nash/Betts camp.
2020 just never stops surprising us!
Did y’all know Niecy Nash was divorced? and bisexual? and in a relationship? with a woman? This is a lot to process!
Rewind a little with me.
I just found out who Jessica Betts was in 2014, thanks to Youtube. I was in a R&B deep dive watching new music and I fell in love with “Holdin’ On” because her voice was so rich and I loved the idea of a lesbian R&B diva (this was before Monifah came out and got married).
Jessica wasn’t new to the scene though — just new to me. Back in 2005, Missy Elliot had a hip-hop/R&B take on American Idol that aired on UPN called Road to Stardom.
Judged by Mona Scott (yes, that Mona Scott), Dallas Austin, and Teena Marie (that’s two Teena mentions today on this blog, must be some Square Biz in the air), the competition was won by a 23-year-old writer from Chicago named Jessica Betts.
Over in the Timeline of Niecy Nash, Carol Denise married Reverend Don Nash back in 1994 and they divorced in 2007. The wedding preparations during her next relationship aired on TLC and she married Jay Tucker in 2011. They split last year, the divorce was finalized in March, and now she and Jessica have tied the knot and none of us knew!
This is Beyonce levels of keeping your mouth shut and we commend everyone in the Nash/Betts camp. Also, let this be a lesson to put whatever energy out there into the world you want to receive, because Niecy and Jessica are married in 2020, but all the way back in 2016 Niecy was stanning her future wife on Twitter.
If Twitter gets you a life partner, y’all minuswell go ahead and get your wedding gifts ready for my future nuptials to Dan Levy.
The DNC won’t add weed and healthcare to the platform.
The United States is not a democracy.
The Democratic National Committee has been voting on the 2020 platform, and if you’ve been mystified (and upset!) about the outcome, you’re not alone. You would think that in a democracy, if the majority of people want something, our delegates and elected officials would speak on behalf of the people work to make that something come to fruition.
Unfortunately, the United States is not a democracy.
Marijuana is legal in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Across the country, grassroots organizations are working to decriminalize and legalize marijuana because there is no reason for it to be classified as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and bath salts. Nobody ever ate a face high on marijuana. The continued vilification of marijuana is a holdover from the racist Refer Madness days of yore where lawmakers convinced everybody that Black men would smoke weed, turn into King Kong, and steal their white women. That racism never really went away. Who gets arrested for smoking weed and who doesn’t? Who is in jail for smoking weed and who gets to open dispensaries?
Given that history, it’s not a surprise that liberal-minded people have moved toward legalizing marijuana. In 1969, support for legalization was 12%. In 1977, it was 28%. Not much changed for the next couple of decades — support for legalization didn’t pass 30% until 2000. However, between 2000 and now, support has grown to 66%. A clear majority of Americans want marijuana to be legal, and among Democrats support is at 76%. (Even Republicans have tipped over into the majority with 51%.)
The DNC voted against adding marijuana legalization to the platform.
The draft version of the platform supports decriminalizing marijuana use and legalizing medical marijuana, adding that it should be left up to the states “to make their own decisions about recreational use.”
The platform was unlikely to ever endorse full legalization, since Joe Biden, the presumptive nominee, does not back the policy. He supports federal decriminalization, which would take away incarceration for possession.
But Dennis Obduskey, a delegate who introduced the legalization amendment during the meeting of the DNC’s platform committee, noted that the current document is a step back from the 2016 platform, which supported “providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”
A majority of the country wants legal weed. A hefty majority of Democratic voters wants legal weed. Biden does not want legal weed and the delegates fall in line behind him.
Medicare for All
Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a country where, if you got sick, you could go to the doctor without worrying about whether you’ll go bankrupt? In the middle of a deadly pandemic, wouldn’t it be great to be able to go to your local healthcare provider and ask for a coronavirus test without insurance? (We can do that here in NYC, but in many places in the US, you need insurance or you need to be an essential worker or both.)
The rest of the country thinks so too. 66% of voters support Medicare for All — that’s 46% of Republicans (because you know how they are) and a whopping 88% of Democrats. There aren’t a whole lot of things you can get 88% of a group to agree on, but clearly Americans who are voting Democrats into office want Medicare for All.
The DNC is not adding it to the platform.
Here’s my Sitting On My Beanbag Chair With No Expertise opinion. We’ve seen things like this happen before, where it seems a majority of us want one thing and our officials ignore that in favor of what’s good for them or their career. Our politicians are beholden to donors, so if we want more money for solar energy but the oil guy is paying for the campaign, we don’t get more money for solar energy. This doesn’t quite feel the same.
Instead, I feel like I’m being taken for granted, that my vote is a given, and the party and platform feels free to capitulate to the minority of loud, moderate, and reliable voters. I don’t have any insights to their actual process, so feel free to draw your own conclusions, but it looks to me that the DNC is playing the odds, and those odds are against the majority because most of us will in fact support the party even if the platform isn’t as progressive as we all want and deserve.
There’s no medicare and no weed, but I’m still going to do my best to make sure we get Democrats elected as opposed to Republicans. I’m not going to sit out, because there’s too much at stake. On the other hand, the moderates who would be upset by free healthcare and legal marijuana could in fact turn away, withdraw their support, and just sit at home. They’re not as upset at the direction of the country, so they don’t have the same fiery desire to make sure we do in fact get as many Republicans out of office as possible. Those moderates are older and they more reliably turn up to the polls. So the DNC looks at it and says, “here are these people who always vote and work for us who MIGHT NOT VOTE if we make changes, and here are these people who vote sometimes and they’ll work whether or not we make changes.”
And the only way to change those odds and that thought process is to actually show up. We go through this every couple of years and at some point it has to stick — young people, you have to vote. People who will be dead before you even throw out some of your spices are building the country you have to live in for the next 4 or 5 decades because you don’t vote. And the DNC makes undemocratic decisions like these, against the will of the majority, because the minority turns out over and over.
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Niecy Nash ties the knot with singer Jessica Betts.
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