And The Hits Keep Coming…

What happens when government–the primary mechanism through which humans engage in collective action– is no longer perceived as legitimate? 

Two headlines from last Wednesday’s Guardian suggest that we may soon be able to answer that question.

First, the Supreme Court.  It’s Clarence Thomas–again.

Several lawyers who have had business before the supreme court, including one who successfully argued to end race-conscious admissions at universities, paid money to a top aide to Justice Clarence Thomas, according to the aide’s Venmo transactions. The payments appear to have been made in connection to Thomas’s 2019 Christmas party.

The payments to Rajan Vasisht, who served as Thomas’s aide from July 2019 to July 2021, seem to underscore the close ties between Thomas, who is embroiled in ethics scandals following a series of revelations about his relationship with a wealthy billionaire donor, and certain senior Washington lawyers who argue cases and have other business in front of the justice.

Despite the fact that the payments all referenced Thomas’ Christmas party, the article says it remains unclear what the funds were actually for. Most of the former clerks who made the payments are currently lawyers working for large and prominent law firms–firms with substantial business before the Court. None of them responded to the Guardian’s requests for clarification.

Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W Bush administration and has been a vocal critic of the role of dark money in politics, said is was “not appropriate” for former Thomas law clerks who were established in private practice to – in effect – send money to the supreme court via Venmo.

“There is no excuse for it. Thomas could invite them to his Christmas party and he could attend Christmas parties, as long as they are not discussing any cases. His Christmas party should not be paid for by lawyers,” Painter said. “A federal government employee collecting money from lawyers for any reason.”

Gee, it must be nice to be a Supreme Court Justice. As a steady stream of reports has confirmed, if you are a Justice like Clarence Thomas,  you don’t have to pay for anything–your mother’s home, fancy trips, memberships in exclusive clubs, your nephew’s tuition, your wedding reception…evidently, not even your Christmas Parties.

The steady drip, drip, drip of disclosures–especially those about Thomas and Alito– have deeply damaged the legitimacy of the highest Court in the land. But it isn’t only the Court.

Across the way, Congressional Republicans are doing their best to de-legitimize that branch of government.

The headline and sub-head tell the tale: “Former House Republicans and DoJ veterans lambast efforts to curb FBI and justice department”.”Current GOP members ‘disconnected from reality’ while working toward weakening democracy and the justice system.”

As House Republicans with close ties to Donald Trump widen investigations into alleged bias at the Department of Justice and the FBI – while also mulling impeachments of top Biden administration officials – justice department veterans and ex-GOP members are voicing concern that these efforts weaken the justice system and democracy.

 Led by the judiciary committee chairman, Jim Jordan, the far-right House Freedom Caucus members have helped spearhead inquiries into the alleged “weaponization of the federal government” with significant backing from the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, and other GOP leaders.

Freedom Caucus members have issued wild and irresponsible threats to impeach pretty much everyone connected with the justice system, starting with Merrick Garland;  they’ve threatened budget cuts and/or the freezing of some officials’ salaries to penalize perceived biases against Trump, even though such moves would seem to undercut traditional GOP “law and order” rhetoric and policies.

That was “traditional” rhetoric at a time the GOP was a political party rather than a lunatic cult. Several former Republican Representatives clearly understand the devolution.

“Jordan is not only accepting Trump’s falsehoods but actively promoting them. It’s an alternative reality. Members are doing it for re-election purposes, fundraising and power,” said the former Michigan Republican representative Dave Trott.

Trott added that he thought “what the Trump crazies have promoted is undermining our democracy and confidence in our judicial system and justice department. Now they want to defund justice and the FBI because they know it will further energize the far-right base.”…

Looking ahead, House GOP alumni warn that the Republican investigations may appeal to Trump and his base, but alienate moderate voters.

“I’m sure Trump is thrilled by it all,” the former Republican Pennsylvania representative Charlie Dent said. “I bet he’s talking to his allies regularly. Trump is looking at this from his sense of personal grievance.”

Corruption on the Court. Keystone Kops running the House of Representatives. A  political party turned into a grievance cult by a dangerously mentally-ill ex-President.

We’re in a world of hurt.


  1. Do any of them know that they are corrupt? Or is this how the powerful become over time, and it seems natural to them?

  2. If you repeat a lie often enough and loudly enough it becomes the truth.

    I have a couple of friends, very smart people, who always respond on my FB when I repost these essays, who very much are in the camp of believing the lies and repeating the talking points from Fox “news” and the T Carlson’s of the right wing, and I just shake my head in wonder how they can be so blind and manipulated. And if it happening to these folks, who are educated and intelligent, I really don’t know what to say or do.

  3. “The steady drip, drip, drip of disclosures–especially those about Thomas and Alito– have deeply damaged the legitimacy of the highest Court in the land. But it isn’t only the Court.”

    That “steady drip, drip, drip of SCOTUS disclosures is the reality of the Republican’s promise to us of their “trickle down” benefits of lower taxes on the wealthy. Those paying SCOTUS directly or indirectly have the ready cash and the luxury gifts to hand out due to those lower tax rates.

    We ignored the warning shots, slipped into his campaign, rally and public speeches regarding turning to SCOTUS to back him up on his ridiculous appearing issues, and we are now dealing with “A political party turned into a grievance cult by a dangerously mentally-ill ex-President.” While we, most of us anyway, do not want or expect the Democratic lawmakers, especially President Joe Biden, to use the profanities which have become acceptable to the public when referring to the rabid Republican House and Senate members but their continuing to “make nice” isn’t getting the message across. This morning I caught just the end of an interview with Sen. Tammy Duckworth regarding the dangerous stand against our military by Tommy Tuberville by stating “…he didn’t tell the truth.” He LIED, why not state the fact for what it is?

    “We’re in a world of hurt.” Is it too late for “The truth shall set us free!”?

  4. The ghost of “Tail Gunner” Joe McCarthy is wandering amongst the Republican caucus once again.

  5. Never fear! The “no labels” folks will take care of everything! Once they’ve gotten 45 re-elected, we will all be free to leave the country.

  6. While these freedom criers run around threatening impeachment on anyone who does their jobs or passes thru the WH vestibules carrying a slight blow of cocaine, it’s quite exhausting to witness.

    The Keystone cops are a great comparison, but this is repeated daily. What would happen if the courts, justice dept, and media chose to leave Trump alone? Ignore him completely? Same with the Freedom Caucus? Ignore the whole gang?

    Could the media be loving this as much as Trump?

    We are supposed to be admired by our international competitors, but instead, we are a laughing stock of hypocrisy and corruption.

  7. “Elect a clown, expect a circus,” seems pretty tame nowadays.

    Folie å deux, is about shared delusional systems, or beliefs between 2 people, and needs widening to a mass of people…oh, but that’s what a cult is, and the Freedom Caucus fits this description.
    Do the Jim Jordans and MTGs of the world believe the garbage they spew? Or is it all performative?
    “The truth shall set you free,” from John 8:32 is empty, as these Freedom Caucus folks have their own deluded version thereof.
    We are in a “world of hurt,” because of a world of hate.

  8. I can’t help but notice the only Republicans willing to call out crazy have the word “former” in their titles.

  9. Mitch, it’s mostly performative with a dollop of delusion. Our so-called free press helps them fundraise by shoving microphones in their faces. Sadly, the Dems play along.

    High fives for everyone when the cameras go away…

  10. Well, what else should we expect but lies, grift and disassembly of the law and courts by Republicans? When the crooks are the judges, the lawbreakers can do what they want without fear of retribution. Why else would the pinheads like Jim Jordan be so eager to vilify and eliminate the FBI? It’s more than just his clinical small-man syndrome hard at work. He’s the front man for the grifters.

    Thomas has ALWAYS been on the grift. I think he perverts the law and takes the bribes as his “FUCK YOU” for the rational Senate at the time calling in Anita Hill. Remember his self-serving whine about a public lynching? The fact that he is also married to a blatant insurrectionist is additional evidence that this man is corrupt beyond all previous Justices combined – except maybe Alito.

    If you’re a crook or a psychopath, you want to have the judges on your side. The reason the SCOTUS and the House GOP are acting like fascists is because they know they can get away with it. As the 2024 election approaches, watch for more desperate and idiotic ravings from the House and increasing numbers of scandals related to SCOTUS. They grifters and cultist morons simply don’t care. They answer only to their paymasters and Trump.

  11. The public is increasingly losing faith in all institutions, especially government. When this happens, the “drips” are just “told you sos”. This also leads to “why vote, they are all crooks”. Which leaves the votes to the brown shirts/skirts who their “leaders”.

  12. The intent of the press is not to help either political party to fundraise. It is to line their own pockets with advertisement money. Anything to get attention, even if you allow yourself to be used by a demented fascist.

  13. James Todd. “If you repeat a lie often enough and loudly enough, it becomes the truth.” NO. It doesn’t. No matter how many people think the sun goes around the earth, as everyone did at one time, the earth goes around the sun. Always has, always will as long as they both exist. Lies don’t create truth, they unhinged us from reality and that tends to be a fatal condition. We need to stand up for the truth as if our lives depend on it because they do.

  14. I see voluminous laments for our corrupted condition today in the responses to Sheila’s effort but no suggestions of what we are going to do about it. I propose the following: That we first enjoy an overwhelming trifecta in the fall of ’24 and then priortize legislation denoting bribery of a federal official a felony and jail time for both the bribers (including heavy fines for corporations, partnerships. and other such coverups) and bribees – and then enforce it. If we go to the source and put a few zillionaires such as Koch and Crow in jail we may get the attention of the bribing class, and such an act might get the attention of the bribed class as well, sending Justice Thomas to go bluegill fishing in the Potomac rather than hobnobbing with Leo and Crow at some fancy Alaskan fishing lodge (his wife can be separately prosecuted under a different section of the proposed act as a criminal pipeline from bribers to a federal official).

    Let’s make an effort to change our world into one of unhurt. Can’t be constitutionally done? Let’s check with Jamie Raskin, brilliant constitutional scholar. There is a difference between a reported campaign contribution and a bribe – which could be spelled out in the act. I think a country has an inherent right to save itself from disintegration, whatever a corrupt Supreme Court may hold to keep the good times flowing. (Disclosure > I resigned from the Supreme Court bar following Bush v. Gore, the modern day version of Dred Scott, and still believe it to have been wrongly decided.)

  15. Gerald – you know the song, “Dream a Little Dream of Me”? Structural change is a long and hard slog, even in the best of times. There are signs, here and there of possibilities, some of which the DEMs ignore; e.g Robert Kennedy, JR getting a lot of attention from DEMs and independents for two strong stands: climate justice and breaking up the MIC. The DEM party is fueled by money from those opposing both…

  16. When our generation of American and State Government History is recorded there are going to be obvious points of how we got it wrong. That Clarence Thomas was never in the moment and appeared to be disassociated from anything Constitutional is going to be noted. That Donald Trump, and his supporters, never grasped the idea that he won the 2016 Presidential election because voters were voting against Hillary Clinton rather than voting for him will be noted. Notes from the Indiana Statehouse will record that our legislators lost sight of the idea that our “jobs” as parents, and educators, should have been to teach our children how to think–not what to think. My favorite note in the record will involve local politics where the city council voted to pass a budget, waited until members of the press left to file their stories, and then voted to rescind their vote.

  17. Sheila;
    I hope that you noted the story on the front page of today’s NYT about how Trump intends to take away the independence of the executive agencies if he is re-elected. Beyond frightening when combined with the Republican donors who are funding RFK, Jr.’s campaign in an obvious effort to siphon votes away from Biden.

    Ben Franklin said “A Republic, if you can keep it.” The challenge is real, and it is NOW!!!

  18. Someone above said they have smart friends who repeat Fox talking points. I have news for you: you do not have smart friends.

    This is all rather simple. Monarchs and peasants. The U.S.A. was an attempt to get away from that system, and the Republican Party is now an organized effort to go back to that system. The problem, for monarchs, is that they are always vulnerable to overthrow, and some number of people are smart enough to insist on not being peasants. These people will either overcome the peasanthood and the grifters who manipulate them, or they will have to become peasants, too.

    The unfortunate part is that continuing brazen corruption lowers confidence in the system, and destroying the system will ultimately enable a monarchy. They would prefer to accomplish revolution without destroying assets, and this is how they will do it. As usual, they will create the problem by breaking the system, then propose the solution. Get ready for the Constitutional Convention. Good luck to everyone.

  19. Gerald; Trump’s lawyers requested of Jack Smith, “…due to politics, busy schedule, unique circumstances and the elections, that no trial date be scheduled until all legal issues arising from the case have been fully litigated.”

    Jack Smith’s response; “Many indicted defendants have demanding jobs that require a considerable amount of their time and energy, or a significant amount of travel. The Speedy Trial Act contemplates no such factor as a basis for a continuance, and the court should not indulge it here.”

    One thing we can do is fully back Jack Smith in his response, the only statement I have seen thus far that upholds the legal foundation that “no one is above the law” regarding Trump’s numerous legal problems. Republicans repeating their lies has been working well for them for EIGHT YEARS; our only weapons are repeating the truth and supporting those who are running for office on November 7th of this year and fully back President Joe Biden in the 2024 Primary. Having worked inside Indianapolis City Government for 20 years I am well aware that “changing horses in mid-stream” is a major mistake; there is much more to the transition than replacing one Democratic lawmaker with another Democratic lawmaker. The same system of transition goes into effect that follows changing political party members.

    Your well thought out recommendations would not take effect until the “transition” period, with all of its changes of officials and their staffs and their policies, have taken place. “Starting from scratch.” will put us in the same waste of time and money tactics the Republicans in the House are using now. They are making a lot of noise but what have they actually accomplished other than slowing government progress to a crawl? They control the House because they are UNITED, notwithstanding their infighting and the useless puling of a few who claim descent on Freedom Caucus issues. We are back to VOTE BLUE NO MATTER WHO and FOLLOW THE MONEY.

  20. The criminal activity of the radical gop terrorists in Congress is out of control. They officially joined the criminal mob in January 2017 as they pledged their loyalty to mafia boss trump.
    Their devotion to and fear of him cause them to daily create chaos and BS lies. There have always been a few crazies in Congress, but since trump’s time in office the craziest of them were turned loose and it is officially a bed of organized crime while the worst of them are willing to go to extreme measures to get the approval of their mob boss and his clueless devoted supporters.

    Regarding Clarence Thomas – Roberts made it crystal clear that he has no intention of cleaning his court and that there is nothing we can do about it.

  21. A hard slog and it takes time? Agreed, but it will be a hard slog and take time whenever we start, so let’s get on with it.

  22. the court of joseph goebbels… introduced by reagan and his merry hentchmen,alec and many of the at the time,wealthy. forwarded by the kings geo.bushes and its slime cult followers desquised as the new republicans and all for lose,trumps pied piper of the billionaire class. putins own puppet..
    we dont discuss the authoritarian side of this scam enough.. if the words are correct, then
    the meaning isnt getting out

  23. Gerald – DEMs gotta propose SMALL BUT POPULAR, PRAGMATIC AND POWERFUL things and dare the GOP to vote them down: path to citizenship for Dreamers, raising the maximum income for social security tax, grants for rural nurses/doctors/teachers, etc.. BUT, without including nary a word that GOPers can grab onto than imply DEI, identity politics, etc..

    Never happen….

  24. More political theater. The Thomas affair is the Democrats answer to the Biden/ Burisma affair. Both political cults vehemently defend their cult leadership.

    Meanwhile, Bidenflation soars onward.

    Btw,Lester’s post is most truthful.

  25. What exactly is it that we do, now that we are hemmed in from all sides? Is anybody working on it?

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