By James A. Kidney Texas hosted the first primary election of 2018 on March 6, kicking off the race for the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. The contested Senate seats are mostly owned now by Democrats in pink or red states. Another big state, Illinois, holds its primary March 20. There is some electoral relief until May 8, when four states, including barometer states North Carolina and Ohio, hold their primaries. Thirteen states hold primaries in May with 17 more in June. Hello, Bob Mueller? Most prognosticators of the Mueller investigation believe there is still a long way to go before final indictments and a confidential report to the acting attorney general complete the actions of the special counsel. The predictions are based on known grand jury subpoenas and named cooperating witnesses. The Mueller team itself seems pretty much inoculated against the D.C. disease known as … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney The worst thing that can happen to an entertainer like Donald Trump happened last week when he tweeted the visual of his faux physical attack on CNN. Trump jumped the shark. He is not only a boor, which we have known for years, but his antics are old and tired. Of course, he is still news. He is still a huge, perhaps existential, threat to our Constitution and even our world. But his personality, upon which he relies for his dwindling popularity, has moved from entertaining or curious to “what else is new?” If you are unfamiliar with the term “jump the shark,” it means that a tv series has outlived its entertainment value. It originates from a really boring, extended shot of the Fonz in the 1970s show “Happy Days” water skiing over a shark. That was viewed by critics as a sign the show … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney [Ed note: The New York Times plans to lay off hundreds of copy editors, a sign of financial pressure and a management strategy to beef up digital resources — they say. The Times also eliminated its Public Editor — the person who entertained reader complaints about reporting and posted occasional columns assessing the Times reporting, sometimes critically. In its place, the Times is offering up something called the Reader Center to receive comments on these changes. You can send your comment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is our comment (edited somewhat) sent to the executive editor through the Reader Center email site.] Dear Mr. Baquet, I am a nearly life-long subscriber to The Times (lately, the digital version), a former reporter (UPI, U.S. News) turned lawyer. I was married for 38 years to the late Sara Fritz, who I believe you knew from your LA Times days. So … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney Presidential Rasputin Steve Bannon called for “deconstructing the administrative state” at a convention of those-who-used-to-be-known-as-Reagan-conservatives-but-are-now-just-Trump-nuts Thursday at the new MGM gambling palace in Maryland. “Deconstructing the administrative state” echoes Lenin after a couple bottles of vodka screaming in Red Square, or maybe just a long-haired 19-year-old outside the 1968 Democratic convention. It is both threatening and laughably cracked. The phrase probably is just a word pudding for the old Republican oligarch’s favorite book, A Treasury of Economic Nonsense, a political Kama Sutra coauthored during a fevered coupling of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman. These are the erotic (to Republicans) positions that cause enthusiastic ejaculations by Paul Ryan – no taxes, no rules, no government, except to buy military equipment and to protect patents. Give Bannon credit for PR. “Deconstructing administrative excess” certainly is gentler sounding than “gutting the government.” Once you are accustomed to the … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney The Supreme Court appeared split 4-4 Tuesday during oral arguments over whether the family of an unarmed Mexican teenager can sue the U.S. Border Patrol agent who shot and killed him. The agent was on U.S. soil firing into Mexico to kill the boy. You can find the details here and here. The matter was being argued before the Court. A decision is expected by summer. But the description of the argument raises troubling issues. Foremost among them, but not directly raised in the dignified court arguments 20,000 feet above reality: Is it OK for the Border Patrol and civilians to kill Mexicans across the border without liability to the families of those murdered, or even to the country whose land was invaded by U.S. bullets? Briefly, an unarmed teen-aged Mexican was playing with friends at a culvert dividing the two countries. The game was to … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney It took one week for Defense Secretary James Mattis to prove wrong those who believed he might be a stabilizing island of sanity in the Trump Administration. See the picture above. It is a picture of President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary Mattis last Friday at the Pentagon, where Trump executed his signature on the executive order “temporarily” barring immigration from seven Muslim countries. Note the display medal in the background. The visible one among several backing the stage is is of the Congressional Medal of Honor — the country’s highest military honor. The word “valor” is carefully staged to appear in photos above Trump’s head. Mattis is shown happily examining the pen with which Trump signed the order. I apologize for believing Defense Secretary James Mattis would bring sanity to the madness of the Trump administration. The disease that is Trump has already … Read more of this post . . .