Less than a week into his presidency, Putin’s poodle and the people that represent him to the media, are making “blogable” news at a rate that makes it hard to keep up. The two latest example of this come next, to be followed by a development of interest that harks back to a previous blog.
This past Sunday, during her appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, guest Kellyanne Conway, took issue with host Chuck Todd’s detailing of some facts about the number of people who witnessed, by one means of another, Trump’s inauguration. Conway, referring to statements made by presidential press secretary Sean Spicer, said that her colleague was citing “alternative facts”. Todd was having none of it, retorting that there is no such thing; that “alternative facts” are “lies” (Todd’s word).
Just to be clear, Todd is right; there is no such thing as “alternative facts”. What can exist are alternative ways of spinning or interpreting a fact. But, those sorts of commentaries go beyond the facts themselves and as such are surplus. For example “Here’s how B caused A” vs. “No, it was C that caused A and here’s how”. Additionally, an existing fact, provable and grounded in reality, can be supplanted by a new, superior fact. That has happened as new, scientific discoveries displace or override older ones.
This “alternative facts” nonsense is the way poodle and his spinmeisters advertise that they don’t like the facts that are at hand because such evidence put them in a light they don’t like. So, they offer you in its place, a fiction that has no basis in reality.
Woe is us
The aforementioned press secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference wherein he started out on a conciliatory note, promising the media honesty and transparency. Unfortunately, he couldn’t end in the same mode. Instead, he launched into a rant about how there was a blatant and repeated attempt to de-legitimize the Trump presidency. Anyone with a functioning memory will see this as hypocrisy on steroids given how the poodle and conservatives more generally, torn down then-president Obama with the birther lie. Once you have a handle on that, you will see that Spicer’s effluvium also contained an ample supply of “victimhood” as in “woe is us”.
Three legal heavyweights, Lawrence Tribe (arguably, the nation’s leading Constitutional scholar), Norman Eisen and Richard Painter (ethics advisors to presidents Obama and GW Bush, respectively), have filed suit against the poodle, claiming that he is in violation of the US Constitution’s “emoluments” clause. Reference to the latter appeared in the blog “Conservatives’ “protection racket” that appeared at this cite on November 30, 2016 (1) .
The first hurdle that Tribe et al have to get past is establishing that they have “standing” to have the suit heard in court. To achieve standing, the litigants must prove that they have been materially damaged by the behavior of the suit’s target (2). Working for the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington organization, plaintiffs will assert they their parent organization, has had to expend valuable finances tracking alleged violations by Trump of the emoluments clause. Simply put, “detective work is costly” and therein resides the material damage.
There is also the question of whether a civic group like “Citizens….” can sue? The answer is yes and that is vouchsafed by a US Supreme Court decision in the Havens Realty v. Coleman case from 1982.
Taking all this into account, it would still be unwise to assume that Tribe and his cohorts have assembled a “slam-dunk” case. Their pleading has already attracted a fair share of naysayers and detractors, each of whom has their own legal expertise. And of course, the poodle will have his own phalanx of lawyers in court to defend him. Look for what is sure to prove to be a fascinating battle of legal wits so as always….
- You can access a previous blog by using the search window that is situated along the left-hand margin of the blog you are currently reading. Just type in the title of what you are looking for or perhaps a key word.
- A lack of standing is why dozens of birther cases were summarily dismissed by the courts. The plaintiffs could not prove that Obama, as an the illegitimate candidate they alleged him to be, had damaged them, materially.