Friday, May 05, 2023



•  What a week, eh? It seems like the well of rightwing judiciary corruption stories is inexhaustible. The latest -- with the direct involvement of Federalist Society kingpin/nation-wrecker Leonard Leo, Trump lie diffuser Kellyanne Conway, and Clarence Thomas’ insurrectionist wife – is a humdinger

Conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo arranged for the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to be paid tens of thousands of dollars for consulting work just over a decade ago, specifying that her name be left off billing paperwork, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post.

In January 2012, Leo instructed the GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway to bill a nonprofit group he advises and use that money to pay Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the documents show. The same year, the nonprofit, the Judicial Education Project, filed a brief to the Supreme Court in a landmark voting rights case.

Leo, a key figure in a network of nonprofits that has worked to support the nominations of conservative judges, told Conway that he wanted her to “give” Ginni Thomas “another $25K,” the documents show. He emphasized that the paperwork should have “No mention of Ginni, of course.”

The “landmark voting rights” case was Shelby County v. Holder, the one in which Leo’s SCOTUS toadies shanked the Voting Rights Act. (It’s also worth mentioning Conway, Thomas, and Leo are all members of one of those DC fascist affinity groups to which such people flock.)

Man, they’re just crooks, right? And of course we’ve got the usual fash fluffers sputtering “how dare you” at anyone who dares to notice this crime spree. 

This was grist for my mill in one of this week’s two Roy Edroso Breaks It Down freebies: A scene in which some leading influence peddlers and their clients meet up at a billionaire mansion to conduct business with a longtime alicublog figure of fun.

•  The other free issue is a meditation on the latest object of rightwing hero worship: The man who murdered an obstreperous subway hustler in cold blood. Just when you think conservatives have bottomed out morally, they manage to saw through the floorboards and find another sub-basement. 

The Twitter creeps are vile enough, but the paper-trained pundits of the right who’ve gotten in on this are even worse. Abe Greenwald at Commentary may be the current nadir: He jerks off at length about how his pet murderer was a manly Marine, dammit (“courage is their defining trait… there aren’t many like them”) and fantasizes about having a Subway Strangler floor show of his own:

I’ve been on a few trains where “something was happening,” and if a Marine had suddenly appeared and taken matters into his own hands, I’d have bought him a steak dinner.

Eeeeyikes. The murderer, meanwhile, is alleged to be huddling with a prominent Republican lawyer politician-lawyer (anti-Bragg, just the way Trump likes 'em!), and the crew is preparing for Bernie Goetz redux for some electoral juice -- not in New York City, where such people are justly despised, but in the boondocks and Bumfucks where New York is hated and feared as the Land of Ooga Booga. Of course this ain’t 1984 and George Floyd is much fresher in the minds of potential jurors. Maybe the creeps' model will be Kyle Rittenhouse, with lots of burble about Big Scary Cities and Standing Your Ground. 

•  Finally, since I love a good callback, let me note this blubberfest at the Moonie Washington Times:

Conservatives excluded from 2023 commencement invites

Conservative speakers, already a rarity on college campuses in recent years, may be even more of an anomaly this spring as the nation’s universities hold commencement ceremonies featuring an array of educators, entertainers and politicians drawn from the left — and essentially devoid of anyone from the right.

Whether you’re a respected scholar, a Supreme Court justice or even a former president, the message from most of the country’s colleges is clear: No conservatives allowed.

Boo hoo, the mean college students won’t pay to listen to us bitch about uppity minorities and how no one wants to work! 

This is a return to form for conservatives – in fact it goes back to the days when they were retooling their “political correctness” shtick into “cancel culture” crybullying. I wrote about it for the Village Voice in 2014, when they were outraged that students didn’t want to be regaled by war criminal Condoleezza Rice. In the same column I found conservatives yelling because they weren’t getting the Hugo Award nominations to which they felt themselves entitled, and also this eerie harbinger of Wingnut Shtick To Come: 

For example, last week New Hampshire father William Baer was arrested for disrupting a school board meeting. He complained about the assignment of Jodi Picoult’s YA novel 19 Minutes in his teen daughter’s class because it had a sex scene in it. As the video shows, after Baer had finished his allotted two minutes, he refused to shut up, so the board called the cops, who took him away…

Some people might think the board overreacted; others may think they did right to keep Baer’s heckler’s veto from stomping everyone else’s right to speak. Rightbloggers, however, thought the board had infringed on an important Constitutional right: The right to take over a public meeting if you feel really strongly about it, and are right-wing.

This was, of course, before they invented “Moms for Liberty” to hide their totalitarian agenda behind apron strings. But the basic grift is the same.  

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