Late Night Point & Mock Open Thread: Empty Forms for Hollow Men

Used to be, Proud Traditionalists (a/k/a Angry White Men) will tell you, that job interviews were based on obvious merit. In more honest terms, an interviewer could be certain at a glance that a prospect was (a) pale-skinned, and (b) probably in possession of a penis. More intense scrutiny (Brooks Brothers tailoring? the “right” tie & shoes?) plus a glance at the applicant’s credentials (approved school / fraternity / country club) would cement the bond — or dismiss a pretender.

Now that “political correctness” has diminished the value of such forms (i.e., made it possible for people of color and those of alternative genders to acquire ‘prestige’ educations or professional credentials) the Proud Traditionalists are reduced to seeking out identity documents forms that, however meaningless they may be, can be presented as proof that their holder is… the Right Sort. Like an expensive “professional” IQ test!

But srsly, guys…

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Late Night Open Thread: “As I Am Now, You Soon Shall Be… “

I’m in a mood where this actually made me laugh…

… because it reminded me of the old epitaph that ends …”Prepare for death, and follow me.”

Don’t intend to have a headstone myself, but if I did, it would be more like this:

Reader, pass on! Don’t waste your time
On bad biographer and bitter rhyme;
For what I am, this crumbling stone ensures,
And what I was is no concern of yours.

Repub Venality Open Thread: Jefferson Davis Beauregard III Lives Out His Authoritarian Dreams

If “rule of law” meant anything other than “people with power should have a free hand to do what they like to people without power”, the rule-of-law people would be screaming themselves blue over this. As if we needed any further proof they’re acting in bad faith…

Sessions has stepped into the immigration system in an unprecedented manner: giving himself and his office the ability to review, and rewrite, cases that could set precedents for a large share of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants with pending immigration court cases, not to mention all those who are arrested and put into the deportation process in future.

He’s doing this by taking cases from the Board of Immigration Appeals — the Justice Department agency that serves as a quasi-appellate body for immigration court cases — and referring them to himself to issue a decision instead.

Sessions isn’t giving lawyers much information about what he’s planning. But he’s set himself up, if he wants, to make it radically harder for immigration judges to push cases off their docket to be resolved elsewhere or paused indefinitely — and to close the best opportunity that tens of thousands of asylum seekers, including most Central Americans, have to stay in the United States. And he might be gearing up to extend his involvement even further, by giving himself the authority to review a much bigger swath of rulings issued in the immigration court system…

Immigration courts aren’t part of the judicial branch; they’re under the authority of the Department of Justice. Their judges are supposed to have some degree of independence, and some judges are certainly harsher on immigrants and asylum seekers than others. But their decisions are guided by precedent from the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is basically the appellate court of the immigration system and which also answers to the DOJ and the attorney general.

If the attorney general doesn’t like that precedent, he has the power to change it — by referring a case to himself after the Board of Immigration Appeals has reviewed it, issuing a new ruling, and telling the immigration courts to abide by the precedent that ruling sets in future…

In theory, Sessions’s office is supposed to make its decision based on amicus briefs from outside parties, as well as the immigrant’s lawyer and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prosecutor. But advocates and lawyers’ groups say they can’t file a good brief if they don’t know what, exactly, the cases Sessions is getting involved in actually are — and Sessions is withholding that information.

In one of the cases Sessions has referred to himself, the DOJ refused to provide a copy of the decision that Sessions is reviewing or any information about where the case came from and who the immigrant’s lawyer was. In another case, congressional staff happened to find the decision under review on a DOJ website days before the deadline for amicus briefs.

That opacity makes it basically impossible to know whether Sessions is planning to issue relatively narrow rulings or very broad ones. In the case in which the decision under review was discovered by congressional staffers, both the immigrant’s lawyer and the Department of Homeland Security (serving as the prosecution) asked Sessions’s office to clarify the specific legal question at hand in the review — in other words, to give them a hint of the scope of the potential precedent being set. They were denied…

Sessions and the Trump administration claim they’re trying to restore efficiency to a backlogged court system that poses the biggest obstacle to the large-scale swift deportation of border-crossing families and to unauthorized immigrants living in the US. But lawyers are convinced that Sessions’s diktats, if they’re as broad as feared, would just gum up the works further.

“If the attorney general were seriously concerned about the backlog, as opposed to a desire for quick deportations, he would be focused on transferring as many cases away from” immigration judges as possible, attorney Jeremy McKinney told Vox — not forcing them to keep cases on their docket that they would rather close, or that could be rendered moot by other decisions. It’s “not smart docket control.”

And Sessions isn’t simply planning to issue these rulings and walk away. His office is planning to give itself even wider power over the immigration court system. A notice published as part of the department’s spring 2018 regulatory agenda says, “The Department of Justice (DOJ) proposes to change the circumstances in which the Attorney General may refer cases to himself for review. Such case types will include those pending before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) but not yet decided and certain immigration judge decisions regardless of whether those decisions have been appealed to the BIA.”

In other words, even when a DOJ judge makes a ruling in an immigrant’s favor and ICE prosecutors don’t try to appeal the ruling, the attorney general’s office could sweep in and overrule the judge…

If the Attorney General believes this is an improvement over the current system, why is he so determined to keep the mechanisms secret?

I personally suspect Mr. Sessions’ ambitions have something to do with last weekend’s flurry of reports about “President” Trump screaming at Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen. If the blond chick can’t throw enough brown people out of “our country” fast enough, Judge Jeff assures Lord Smallgloves, then by Christianist Jeebus he’ll roll up his sleeves and git ‘er done. It’s not as if Trump calling him nasty names has deterred his zeal for enforcing the “Just Us” of Justice in the past…

Repub Venality Open Thread: ‘Normalizing’ the Monstrous

How our Discourse becomes “Coarsened” — as illustrated in tweets:

This is widely shared, because, yeah it’s nasty fun:

The meaty pull-quote:

So… one or more of Axios’ “five sources”, as Mr. Pierce would say, looked a lot like Mercedes Schlapp, and was wearing her shoes.

At least half a dozen prominent media tweeters get to point out:

Jake Tapper, at least, is outraged (as well he might be)…

But the Mad Bitcher, Chris Cillizza, spots a trend!!!

Ergo: Mercedes Schlap posturing to replace Hope Hicks — an ongoing series; savvy journalists have been mocking her desperation since the day Hicks’ resignation was announced — becomes “Our Media Is, Alas, Coarse.”

Why complain about Trump and the other Oval Office Occupants’ lewd mockery of every normal standard of governance and civility, when The Savvy Guys can tell you that everybody does it?

The DOE Announces Plans For Pit Production

The Department of Energy has been contemplating the future production of nuclear weapon pits – the fissile part of the weapon, usually plutonium. Rocky Flats, between Golden and Boulder, Colorado, used to do it, but it turned into an environmental disaster. All buildings have been removed from the site.

Los Alamos and Savannah River are the only two DOE sites that can work with plutonium. Both put themselves into the running for the task. Both have had some problems with safely handling the stuff, for example. The decision was announced today. Both were, in effect, selected.

This is the kind of bad decision that the DOE has long made. It avoids the political problems that would come with selecting one site or the other. The congressional delegations of both states will be pleased. To be fair, there are people with expertise at these sites and facilities that can be used or upgraded.

And they will need to be upgraded. Whether the funds will be appropriated and whether they will turn out to be adequate when the plans are fully worked out is another question, one that has been answered very poorly by both the DOE and Congress in the past.

The evidence seems to be that pits last a longish time, perhaps up to a century. We have several thousand nuclear weapons, more than we are ever likely to need.

Carson Mark, a Los Alamos weapons physicist, once proposed that we simply let all the tritium, a radioactive component of thermonuclear weapons, decay and not replace it as a partial step toward disarmament. The way the US is going, it looks like something similar is happening with the capability to build nuclear weapons. Russia is keeping its capacity going and is not in a friendly mood to talk about just letting it all go. But I would love to see the US just say F***it, we’re done, and see how that plays.


Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner.

Late Night Sad Trombone Open Thread: Mr. Tuff Talk, Globally Renowned Clown

Thing is, he didn’t even need instructions from the home office in Moscow. Trump’s strongest instinct is to do whatever he think makes him look like The Manly Leader, right this minute, — he can’t think far enough ahead to imagine what might happen next week, much less by November, or next year, or next decade…

Saved this David Rothkopf link from the LA Times last week:

In his short time in office, Trump has revealed himself to be unlike his predecessors in several important ways. Although all presidents have egos, Trump has spent his career promoting his own personal brand, inscribing his name in big gold letters wherever he could. He has shown himself to be extraordinarily self-absorbed, providing a constant stream of self-congratulatory remarks.

He has claimed credit for economic recoveries that started years before he assumed office, for launching the career of Lady Gaga and for business deals he had nothing to do with — not to mention the supposedly record-breaking inauguration crowd that wasn’t.

All of this sends a message to other world leaders. As one former U.S. Cabinet official who deals regularly with foreign leaders put it to me: “They know he can be played.” Or, as a prominent business leader said during a trip to China in April: “He is so vain. He’s like a child — easy to manage if you know what he wants.”
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Russiagate Open Thread: Rudy Dreams of TeeVee Glory

(Drew Sheneman via

They’ve been cronies since Roy Cohn’s glory days, but I suspect “America’s Mayor” has begun to think less about Donald’s requirements and more about Rudy’s. And he’s doing a remarkably bad job of it, either way. A little Saturday night reputation massacre:

Sunday morning:

Thoundbites, he croons to himself, That’ll get the hot bookings…
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