This is n̶o̶t̶ now normal

What a difference three years in power makes:

When a tape surfaced in 2016 of Trump boasting about grabbing women’s genitals, top Republican officials briefly pulled their endorsements, disinvited him from events and even sought to remove him from the ticket.

When, as president, Trump equivocated on condemning white supremacists in a deadly Virginia rally, top business leaders disbanded White House advisory boards in protest.

But on Monday, a day after Trump posted tweets promoting the racist trope that four minority congresswomen should “go back” to their countries of ancestry, the president waltzed onto the South Lawn of the White House with the confidence of a man fully supported by his party and by much of the corporate world that had once kept him at arm’s length.

[…]

Even as a few Republican lawmakers spoke out against Trump’s language, with some specifically calling it racist, most stayed quiet or sought to soften their admonishment of the president by mixing it with criticism of the women he attacked.

“They’re just terrified of crossing swords with Trump, and they stay mute even when the president unleashes racist tirades,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who has been critical of Trump. “Republican leaders are now culpable for encouraging this kind of rank bigotry. By not speaking out, by staying mum, they are greenlighting hate rhetoric.”

Trump is Trump. The man cannot help being an ignorant, racist oaf any more than the scorpion can resist stinging the frog.

But his enablers? They know better. And years from now, when they’re saying how awful they knew Trump was all along, don’t let them forget it.

The secrets of Jeffrey Epstein’s island

This is the kind of thing Alex Jones or David Icke would have rejected as too ridiculous and sinister:

When INSIDER consulted James Both, a contractor and engineer based in Chicago, he first pointed to the wooden door. “It’s styled like what you might see on a castle, with what appears to be a reinforcing lock bar across the face,” he said. “What makes it peculiar is that if you wanted to keep people out, the bar would be placed inside the building, [but the] locking bar appears to be placed on the outside … as if it were intended to lock people in.”

By the way, former prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy thinks Epstein’s 2009 deal, negotiated with now-former Trump cabinet secretary Alex Acosta, will protect Epstein from federal prosecution this time around. Have a nice day.

I believe Tom Arnold

The guy who was once married to Roseanne Barr and was surprisingly good in True Lies says he’s heard tapes of the President using racist slurs while filming his reality show:

This week, Arnold went a step further, repeating his claim (this time to widespread media attention—try googling it) that he has seen a secret “outtakes” reel made by Apprentice staff showing the now Republican president-elect saying “every racist thing ever,” and then some.

“I have the outtakes to The Apprentice where he says every bad thing ever, every offensive, racist thing ever,” Arnold told Seattle radio station KIRO. “It was him sitting in that chair saying the N-word, saying the C-word, calling his son a retard, just being so mean to his own children.”

What made me think about that years-old story today? Oh, nothing…

President Donald Trump referenced Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in a series of posts that literally urged the freshman congresswoman to go back to Africa.

Side note: I wish I had a time machine so I could go back to 1999 and tell people, “Tom Arnold is looking for tapes of President Trump saying the N-word on his reality show.”

The Hollywood client from Hell

This will be surprising to anyone who’s not familiar with Harvey Weinstein:

Harvey Weinstein’s legal “dream team” for his much-anticipated sexual assault case suffered another blow Thursday when lawyer Jose Baez was granted permission to withdraw from the case.

[…]

People familiar with the situation tell The Daily Beast that Baez, who’s previously represented high-profile clients like Casey Anthony, is exiting due to clashes over legal tactics with the former Hollywood mogul.  

“He thinks he’s making a movie,” said a person familiar with the case. “He’s just trying to put together the perfect cast and it’s not working. It’s not a movie. He is impossible to work with,” the person said. 

The person familiar with the matter said Weinstein was keen to try the case in the court of public opinion—a strategy Brafman had earlier rejected.

“Ben wants to do everything in the courtroom and that’s the opposite of Weinstein, who wants the case tried in the court of public opinion and not a court of law,” a source previously told The Daily Beast. 

Flashback to 1999, when the short-lived (and awesome) Fox series Action had lecherous, creepy characters based on the Weinstein brothers. For all their crocodile #MeToo tears now, everyone in Hollywood knew what this creep was up to.

When law school classmates attack

In a rare example of Twitter being used for good instead of evil, Ken “Popehat” White has some very serious questions for his former classmate Alex Acosta about Jeffrey Epstein’s sweetheart deal:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The entire thread can be viewed here. And he has even more questions today.

“Lying-in expenses”

While a white-hot debate over abortion engulfs the United States and threatens to spill over into Canada, this Washington Post column by law professor Carliss Chatman purports to take the anti-abortion position to its logical conclusion:

…When a state grants full personhood to a fetus, should they not apply equally?

For example, should child support start at conception? Every state permits the custodial parent — who has primary physical custody of the child and is primarily responsible for his or her day-to-day care — to receive child support from the noncustodial parent. Since a fetus resides in its mother, and receives all nutrition and care from its mother’s body, the mother should be eligible for child support as soon as the fetus is declared a person — at conception in Alabama, at six weeks in states that declare personhood at a fetal heartbeat, at eight weeks in Missouri, which was on the way to passing its law on Friday, but at birth in states that have not banned abortion.

Interestingly, the Parenting and Support Act in Nova Scotia does allow for child support once a child has been conceived – sort of.

Section 11(1)(a) allows an expectant mother to apply for a contribution toward “lying-in expenses” even before the child is born. The Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia defines such expenses as follows:

…These expenses are meant to contribute to the reasonable costs that a woman has while pregnant to carry the baby and prepare for the birth of the baby. These costs usually include things like maternity vitamins, maternity clothes and baby-related items, like a crib, stroller, or car seat. They can also include maintenance of the mother during the pregnancy and expenses related to the birth of the child.

An unmarried woman may ask to have lying-in expenses paid as part of a child support application to the court. A judge can order the mother or the possible father, or both of them, to pay certain amounts toward these expenses. The costs have to be proven (for example, by giving receipts or confirmation of costs) and they have to be reasonable and necessary.

Applications for lying-in expenses can be made during the pregnancy, or after the birth of the child. Often, the application is made after the child is born, and combined with the application for child support , to make things easier (making one application instead of two).

If the application is made before the child is born, the applicant mother must provide confirmation that she is in fact pregnant:

In practice, lying-in expenses are rarely sought. The most recent Nova Scotia decision on the CanLII case-law database in which they were awarded is from 2010. The issue came up in a 2017 case, but they weren’t ordered, at least in part because of the applicant’s tardiness in raising the issue.

In twenty years of practicing family law, I’ve only worked on a handful of cases where lying-in expenses are an issue, and never one where the application was commenced before the birth of the child. But the option is there.

Unsolved Nova Scotia: Kevin Martin

Forever young.

Imagine losing your young son in a devastating fire. And then your other son disappearing, seemingly without a trace, until his body is found in a shallow grave.

And you think you know who took the life of your little boy, but no one has ever been brought to justice.

That’s the unspeakable horror that befell Bonnie Thomas, now a resident of Prince Edward Island, when she lived in Pictou County. This is one of the most heartbreaking mysteries I’ve ever heard about:

Kevin was 13 the day in May he had run away from his house on MacKay Street in Stellarton. It wasn’t the first time he had left home without permission and his family had no reason to believe it would be his last. According to retired Stellarton police officer Hugh Muir, who became involved in the case early, Martin had fallen in with a bad crowd about six months to a year before this day. Muir was familiar with Kevin because he had gone to school with Muir’s older boys, and remembers him as a nice, polite kid.

Thomas recalls how Kevin had been bullied at school and craved acceptance. He wanted to be part of the cool kids and so when they skipped school, he did too.

“He was a great kid. He just got in with the wrong group of kids,” Thomas said. “He was a follower.”

A few years earlier Kevin had also lost his older brother Olin in a house fire. They had only been 10-months apart in age and shared a room. The fire was determined to be have been caused accidentally, but had a lasting effect on Kevin.

“I don’t think Kevin ever got over losing Olin,” says their mother.

[…]

Then came a degree of closure they had hoped not to find. Commercial loggers working in the Burnside area of Colchester County – near Upper Stewiacke – discovered Kevin’s remains buried in a shallow grave. While police have never released how they believe the teen died, physical evidence found at the scene was enough to determine his death was a homicide. They believe he was killed shortly after he disappeared in 1994.

While he’s no longer involved in the investigation, Muir personally thinks there had to be more than one person involved, particularly to dispose of the body. He believes the people responsible also likely had a familiarity with the area where Kevin’s body was found. He is sure there are people still alive with information that could solve the case and prays they think of a 13-year-old being brutally murdered and of a family still suffering without answers.

“He would have been possibly married and a father of his own now,” Muir said.

Thomas is confident she knows who the guilty people are. Based on information she said someone gave her and that was passed on to police, she believes there were three people directly involved. 

The News spoke with that person who gave Thomas and police the tip. Her first name is Debbie, but she requested her last name not be used. Debbie says her information came from a relative who says she knows the people responsible, where it happened and how. Debbie said she’s shared what she knows with police, but to date no arrests have been made.

Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers has posted a reward of up to $150,000.00 for information that leads to the killer’s arrest and conviction. In an era where many long-dormant cold cases are finally being solved, thanks to technological advances and determined investigators, hopefully justice for Kevin will be done.

Capitulation at Harvard

Intersectionality or the rule of law. Pick one.

Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy, in the New York Times, on the treatment of his colleague Ronald Sullivan:

I have been a professor at Harvard University for 34 years. In that time, the school has made some mistakes. But it has never so thoroughly embarrassed itself as it did this past weekend. At the center of the controversy is Ronald Sullivan, a law professor who ran afoul of student activists enraged that he was willing to represent Harvey Weinstein.

[…]

…On Saturday, Dean Khurana announced that Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Robinson would no longer be deans of the college, citing their “ineffective” efforts to improve “the climate” at Winthrop.

Although Dean Khurana declared that his decision was “informed by a number of considerations,” he said nothing in his announcement about the issue that lay at the heart of the controversy: the claim that Mr. Sullivan’s representation of Mr. Weinstein was in and of itself inconsistent with his role as a faculty dean. No wonder the students who campaigned for his dismissal on that basis celebrated the administration’s action.

Harvard College appears to have ratified the proposition that it is inappropriate for a faculty dean to defend a person reviled by a substantial number of students — a position that would disqualify a long list of stalwart defenders of civil liberties and civil rights, including Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall.

Student opposition to Mr. Sullivan has hinged on the idea of safety — that they would not feel safe confiding in Mr. Sullivan about matters having to do with sexual harassment or assault given his willingness to serve as a lawyer for Mr. Weinstein. Let’s assume the good faith of such declarations (though some are likely mere parroting). Even still, they should not be accepted simply because they represent sincere beliefs or feelings.

Suppose atheist students claimed that they did not feel “safe” confiding in a faculty dean who was an outspoken Christian or if conservative students claimed that they did not feel “safe” confiding in a faculty dean who was a prominent leftist. One would hope that university officials would say more than that they “take seriously” the concerns raised and fears expressed. One would hope that they would say that Harvard University defends — broadly — the right of people to express themselves aesthetically, ideologically, intellectually and professionally. One would hope that they would say that the acceptability of a faculty dean must rest upon the way in which he meets his duties, not on his personal beliefs or professional associations. One would hope, in short, that Harvard would seek to educate its students and not simply defer to vague apprehensions or pander to the imperatives of misguided rage.

Now, of course, Harvard authorities are dredging up various supposed delinquencies on Mr. Sullivan’s part. An exposé in The Harvard Crimson refers to allegations that he and his wife were highhanded in their dealings with the staff at Winthrop House. No one is perfect; perhaps there is something to these claims.

But these dissatisfactions, if relevant at all, were not what provoked the student protests that led to Mr. Sullivan’s ouster. The central force animating the drama has been student anger at anyone daring to breach the wall of ostracism surrounding Mr. Weinstein, even for the limited purpose of extending him legal representation. They want to make him, a person still clothed with the presumption of innocence, more of an untouchable before trial than those who have been convicted of a crime. There was no publicized protest at Winthrop House when Mr. Sullivan successfully represented a convicted murderer, Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star, who was acquitted of a separate double murder before killing himself in prison.

Harvard officials are certainly capable of withstanding student pressure. This time, though, they don’t want to. …

Some perspective: the most significant threat to the rule of law in America comes from the would-be authoritarian in the White House. But the Sullivan witch-hunt is just the latest example of how the rule of law is being assaulted from the other side.

Flashback: law students at the City University of New York screaming “Fuck the Law!” at a visiting professor they didn’t agree with.

Everything we knew about Trump is still true

Robert Mueller may have confirmed that the President of the United States didn’t knowingly collude with Russia, and Team #MAGA is taking its victory lap.

Retweeting himself is the least objectionable thing about him.

The report is agnostic on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice, and several members of his circle are already or will soon be behind bars. (As noted by CNN Legal Anlyst Elie Honig, imagine if Mueller had waited until he completed his report before announcing all 34 indictments, including the likes of Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Michael Cohen, at once.)

In any event, even if Trump isn’t guilty of collusion, it certainly doesn’t make him a good President or even a decent human being.

Some perspective from Rachel Larimore at The Bulwark:

…at the end of the day Donald Trump is a bad man. A bad, orange man. And  a bad president. Vanna, show them what they’ve won!

Trump is still the same guy who:

Told Billy Bush that “I moved on her like a bitch” in reference to a married woman. And that his M.O. is to “grab ’em by the pussy.”

Insulted John McCain for being captured while serving in Vietnam.

Insulted a Gold Star family whose son died in Iraq.

Said Mexico was going to build America a wall.

Accused an American judge of dual loyalties.

Refused to divest from his businesses after he was elected president.

Does not appear to understand trade deficits.

Complained about immigrants from “shithole” countries.

Said terrible things about female journalists.

Said terrible things about male journalists.

Failed to swiftly and simply condemn violence by neo-Nazi and white nationalist protesters during the Charlottesville protest.

Said he had a “great relationship” with Rodrigo Duterte, the Phillipines president who has bragged about personally killing people during his war on drugs.

Retweeted an extremist British nationalist’s anti-Muslim videos.

That’s not even half the list. And the complete list doesn’t even mention he’s a vaccine troofer on top of everything else.

In any event, that victory lap might be premature, according to Henry Olsen:

This evidence could have a quite different effect on public opinion than it would in a legal proceeding. Criminal prosecutions require proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and Mueller clearly saw a strong case against Trump under that standard. While Barr decided he did not, reasonable observers could conclude differently. They could also conclude, perhaps, that they have reasonable doubts but think Trump did obstruct justice under the more lenient “clear and convincing evidence” or “preponderance of the evidence” standards. Prosecutors would not look at a criminal case through those lenses, but politicians and pundits are sure to do so.

Barr’s section labeled “Obstruction of Justice” is essential here. Every sentence is extremely precise and carefully worded. The matter of the president’s intent is key, as a prosecutor would have to prove that such a crime was committed with “a corrupt intent.” Barr writes that the special counsel’s finding that the president was not involved in an underlying crime bore “upon the President’s intent” regarding obstruction. In plain English, that suggests there is evidence that people could conclude constitutes criminal obstruction, but that Trump’s saving grace in the law is that he also could not be proven to have colluded with the Russians. Political observers could disagree.

[…]

Barr’s subsequent release is highly likely to contain much more detail, much of it at least unflattering to the president, than most pundits surmise. With respect to the issues of Russian collusion and obstruction, we have clearly reached the end of the beginning. We are nowhere near the beginning of the end.

The more Trump crows about how the Mueller report proves his innocence, the harder it will be for him to avoid releasing it. Though if anyone is shameless enough to try, it’s him.

Smearing Justice Joyal

They told me if I voted for the Conservatives we’d have blatantly partisan interference in the judicial system, and they were right!

The Trudeau government’s latest excuse for LavScam: Jody Wilson-Raybould was a social conservative deep-cover operative trying to appoint an extreme right-winger to the Supreme Court of Canada. Or something like that.

Relations between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould first began to fray in 2017 over concerns about her choice to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada.

A year before cabinet discussions about a plea deal for Quebec engineering company SNC-Lavalin, Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould disagreed about her recommendation of Manitoba Justice Glenn D. Joyal, sources familiar with the matter tell CTV News.

Trudeau was concerned that Joyal wasn’t committed to protecting rights that have flown out of interpretation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, particularly LGBTQ2 rights and even abortion access, neither of which are specifically enshrined in the Charter.

[…]

The Prime Minister’s Office was concerned about views Joyal expressed in a speech to the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Law and Freedom Conference in the January 2017, in which he discussed about the way courts were interpreting the Charter, ushered in by Trudeau’s father.

“It may be one of the bitter ironies of Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s Nation Building strategy of the 1980s, that despite the celebration and promotion of the Charter, it has led to an institutional imbalance that dilutes a source of Canadian distinctiveness,” he said in the speech.

Joyal argued for a rebalancing the relationship between the courts and legislative branch.

“I would hope and have every reason to believe, that this would signal the beginning of a true dialogue with the courts, where the resulting policies would, I suspect, reflect a traditionally pragmatic and uniquely Canadian mix of liberal and non-liberal values.”

His speech raised concerns that Joyal, if appointed, would be less willing to protect rights that are based on a broader interpretation of the Charter.

This is truly baffling, since I’ve been assured that unlike those nasty Americans, Supreme Court Justices in Canada are appointed strictly based on merit and not because of how the Prime Minister thinks they might decide hot-button issues.

Joyal, for his part, says he withdrew his name from consideration because of his wife’s breast cancer:

In a statement Monday, Joyal made no mention of Wilson-Raybould, but said that although he applied for the position of Supreme Court justice, he had to withdraw for personal reasons related to his wife’s health.

“In 2016, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs announced an independent and non-partisan application process for appointments to our highest court. The confidential process assesses each candidate on their merits,” Joyal told Global News in an emailed statement.

“Ultimately, I had to withdraw my application for personal reasons, due to my wife’s metastatic breast cancer. Regrettably, that detail was omitted from the now-published media reports for which I was given no opportunity or, in one case, approximately one hour to respond to.

“I fear that someone is using my previous candidacy to the Supreme Court of Canada to further an agenda unrelated to the appointment process. This is wrong,” Joyal continued.

Ever since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms took effect in 1982, judges, lawyers and academics have wrangled with the question of how the powers of the judiciary and the legislature should be balanced. That’s what Joyal was talking about. And intellectually honest people know raising these points doesn’t make you a bigot.

Which is precisely why Sheila Copps says Joyal is a bigot (and a “homophone”):

As long as Copps is around, Frank D’Angelo will not be the most embarrassing person ever to come from Hamilton.