The Supreme Court Ruling on Presidential Immunity is [UPDATE: NOT AT ALL] Correct

UPDATE (July 10): Well, this is what happens when you do your own take without doing enough research. Everything below holds up just fine through page six of the decision. The expectation was for the Supreme Court to lay out these guidelines and then send the case back to the lower courts. The lower courts would then determine if Trumps actions were official, presumptively official, or unofficial, and to move forward based on that determination.

Instead the court decided to rule on many of the main elements (in Trumps favor), which there was no need to do. Then they made some (crazy as heck) rules about what was official and what wasn’t. Then they said that in most of these cases, you can’t even investigate. Just insane.

I end up agreeing with just about every other pundit and columnist. The decision is terrible, and fundamentally un-American. No one is above the law, even the president. Until now.

For intellectual honesty, I leave the original post below.

It’s the end of democracy. Joe Biden pre-empted Jeopardy to tell us all how terrible it was. Every publication and pundit and podcast is going crazy. They’re wrong. I think the decision is perfectly correct.

The nature of that power requires that a former President have some immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts during his tenure in office. At least with respect to the President’s exercise of his core constitutional powers, this immunity must be absolute. As for his remaining official actions, he is entitled to at least presumptive immunity.

…As for a President’s unofficial acts, there is no immunity. Although Presidential immunity is required for official actions to ensure that the President’s decision making is not distorted by the threat of future litigation stemming from those actions, that concern does not
support immunity for unofficial conduct.

The key point is the distinction between official and non-official actions. Actions under the President’s official duties are essentially immune to criminal prosecution. The office requires wide latitude to effectively govern the nation. Sure, that makes sense.

But, unofficial actions are still up for game. Don’t ignore the second paragraph! The trick is distinguishing which is which. That’s appropriate! Everything Trump did around Jan 6 was not official actions. Campaigns (and of course insurrections) are not part of Presidential duties.

That’s the question Jack Smith should have been litigating. The question wasn’t if Trump was immune for official actions, the question was if Trumps actions were official. It was a mistake not to frame it that way in the first place. Now it has to be litigated, which will take us past the election.

There is another silver lining. Consider all the retribution that Trump has promised against Biden. With this decision Biden can’t be prosecuted by a Trump DOJ. The Supreme Court likely had this in mind as well.

All in all, a good decision.

Biden Won’t, and Can’t, Withdraw

The best candidate for President is different than the best Presidential Candidate. Right Hillary?

I didn’t watch much of the debate and didn’t need to. Biden looked shockingly old, and brought the worst version of himself. Trump is an incoherent liar, and brought the best version of himself.

The calls for Biden to withdraw from the race came quickly. And they are just as ridiculous now as they have been for months. It’s not gonna happen. There are two problems.

Firstly, who would the nominee be? Every pundit is silent here. Because none of the other candidates match up better against Trump. Andrew Sullivan this week, “For the first time this year, we have a chance of keeping Trump out of the Oval Office with a new nominee from a younger generation. No, I don’t know who — except it obviously cannot be Kamala Harris…”

Ezra Klein was well ahead of the pack, asking for a new candidate months ago. But he went through a long list of alternatives, and they were all worse. Kamala Harris, Gretchen Whitmer, Wes Moore, Jared Polis, Gavin Newsom, Raphael Warnock, Josh Shapiro, Cory Booker, Ro Khanna, Pete Buttigieg, Gina Raimondo, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Chris Murphy, Andy Beshear, J.B. Pritzker… do you think of any of them have a better shot of beating Trump? Of course not.

Every pundit is failing this basic test. Who would do better?

Secondly, this is a collective action problem. Collective action is hard. The Democrats would need to get rid of Biden, do it without generating animosity, find someone new, agree on someone new, line up behind this new person, get the machinery of the party working on their behalf, all without fracturing their own base. Good luck.

Do you remember the bitterness between team Hilary and team Sanders? Tell me how the convention will pick a new candidate without half the party being so angry at the choice they stay home on Election Day.

Let’s go back to 2016. Donald Trump was disliked by most of the GOP party, both in the elite and the base. As his support grew, it became apparent he might actually win the nomination by splintering the rest of the vote across multiple candidates. If some of those candidates had dropped out, Trump would have lost. But no candidate would voluntarily take the hit, as a group they couldn’t agree to do it, and Trump won. No one would bell the cat. In office it was the same. Every couple of months a new Senator, Rep, cabinet official, major media figure or such would turn on Trump. But far too late. And far too scattered. If at any point these cowards had stood together against Trump… but they didn’t and couldn’t.

Now the Democrats have the same problem. There is no way to coordinate the decision making.

It’s not gonna happen. Joe Biden is the candidate, and will stay the candidate. Add this to my list of 2024 predictions, no way he drops out.

US Law: Racism is bad. So is Democracy.

Is this the least surprising headline ever? Supreme Court Sides With Republicans Over South Carolina Voting Map. Gee, who could have seen that coming.

The current interpretation of the Constitution is just insane. Think hard about this sentence:

Republican lawmakers acknowledged that they had redrawn the First District for partisan gain. But they said they had not considered race in the process.

I believe the Republican lawmakers. Sure they are the party of the racists, but most of them are not particularly racist, and that’s not their focus. The focus of the Republican Party is the continued power of the Republican party. Disenfranchising black voters is just an unfortunate side effect of that goal.

Because it’s perfectly fine to disenfranchise voters to keep one party in power. And it’s fine to then use that power to appoint judges who say it’s all fine. This is done openly. It’s all perfectly legal. Sending a giant torpedo into the scow of Democracy, no problems there. After all, there is no affirmative right to vote at all.

It’s truly disgusting.

The answer is to amend the Constitution. America needs an affirmative right to vote. There is already an excellent organization, FairVote, devoted to this idea. Here is the proposed text:

SECTION 1. Every citizen of the United States, who is of legal voting age, shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.

SECTION 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation.

Trump Should be Acquited in the NY Hush Money Case

The case against Trump has these major elements:

  1. He had an affair with Stormy Daniels.
  2. He covered up the affair.
  3. He falsified business records.
  4. His cover up was election interference.

Are all these elements true and proven?

He had an affair with Stormy Daniels: Unquestionably true. The evidence is strong, consistent with Trump’s past behavior and both of their actions. This is not a crime by itself.

He covered up the affair: Unquestionably true. Also not a crime.

He falsified business records: Unquestionably true. The evidence is overwhelming. If he had simply paid her out of his personal accounts, there would be no case at all. Since he paid her through corporate accounts, it is falsification of business records. These are misdemeanors.

His cover up was election interference: This is where it falls apart. The theory is that if had not covered this up, the public would have known about the affair, and coming on the heels of the Access Hollywood tape, it might have swung the election. This is true, it might have! But it is not election interference. Election interference is things like stuffing the ballot box, threatening election officials, and storming the US Capitol. Election interference is interfering with the mechanisms of the election process. Election interference is not trying to influence public opinion.

Consider some other examples:

  • 2020 Joe Biden has his machine in South Carolina lean hard on local papers to support him in the key Democratic primary.
  • Joe Biden agrees to a full interview, but only with the Smartless podcast, not the New York Times.
  • Republicans lean heavily on Fox News and other outlets to continue hyping stories they think will hurt Democrats – immigration, Gaza, crime, etc.

None of these are true election interference. (Warning: I am not a lawyer.) They are just politics. Trying to influence what people believe and prioritize to change their voting behavior is not election interference, it is normal democracy.

When you take away election interference, you are left with Trump using his business to pay off Stormy Daniels, and lying about it in the business accounting. That is not a felony. None of the thirty four felony charges hold up. Therefore, he should be acquitted.

TL:DNR: Trump did everything he is accused of, but that’s not really a felony. Therefore, acquital.

The End of the Hastert Rule?

Fans of my multi-part series last year about fixes to American Democracy may remember the Hastert rule. Named for former Speaker Denny Hastert, thsi odious strategy said the Speaker won’t t bring any legislation up for a vote unless it held a majority within his own party. This kept any bill that had general support from passing, reduced bi-partisanship, and strengthened extremists on either side. (No surprise, the GOP embraced it, the Democrats mostly ignored it.)

Marjorie Taylor Greene and her bomb throwing buddies spectacularly failed to remove Mike Johnson. Why did they try to out him? Because he allowed legislation to pass with the support of Democrats. Why did this effort fail? Because Democrats voted to support Johnson.

Democrats did not do this for Kevin McCarthy, because McCarthy gave them nothing. Democrats overwhelmingly supported Johnson because he was willing to suspend the Hastert rule on key issues, and let the house pass bills by simple majority vote.

This is a great alliance, and I hope it holds through the election. Seeing Democrats and Republicans vote together is good for all of us.

Donald Trump Jr. is 100% Correct

“I think the RNC is gonna be a little bit more of that old-school establishment. That Republican Party frankly no longer exists outside of the D.C. Beltway. But it takes a little while to make that transition,” Trump Jr. said on Newsmax’s “The Balance.”

Yep. The RNC was already paying the legal bills for Trump, a ridiculous succumbing to Trump’s corruption field. Now is daughter in law runs it. So… yep. Hey, remember when Bernie Sanders supporters thought that Hilary had her thumb on the scale in the DNC? Well don’t that seem quaint.

“People have to understand that America First, the MAGA movement is the new Republican Party. That is conservatism today,” Trump added. “You know, there may be the Mitt Romneys and the Liz Cheneys out there. But that is a rare and dying breed.”

Yep. Trumps hold on the Republican Party has been steadily increasing. There’s not a obvious day to say the takeover is complete, this seems as good a day as any.

Supreme Court says Trump Stays on Ballot: Keeps Ducking the Real Question

The Supreme Court this week ruled unanimously that Donald Trump could not be excluded from the Colorado primaries, or any others, on the 14th amendment grounds.

The court was understandably troubled by the idea that each state could decide their own interpretations of an Federal law/amendment for a Federal election. States shouldn’t each have their own independent criteria.  

The result could well be that a single candidate would be declared ineligible in some States, but not others, based on the same conduct (and perhaps even the same factual record).

The “patchwork” that would likely result from state enforcement would “sever the direct link that the Framers found so critical between the National Government and the people of the United States” as a whole.

It is bad to have patchwork laws, says the court. That would be chaos. I agree!

But what is the difference between that and the other election actions States take on their own?

States determine the number and placement of voting locations. They determine what ID is accepted. They used to decide on poll taxes and literacy tests. They decide on their electors. They decide what forms of early voting are allowed, and the process by which those are counted. They decide what the triggers are for recounts and the process of doing those. And much more.

Do you remember Bush v Gore? Florida had a quirky set of rules and a quirky ballot and what-do-ya-know that ended up deciding the election. We got massive debt and a ridiculous foreign war instead climate action. Thems the breaks. So the hypothetical chaos that justifies overturning Colorado’s decision is not hypothetical. It already exists. If it already exists, so how can it be so repugnant that it justifies re-interpreting the 14th amendment?

There is no good answer today. The Constitution clearly gives states the right to run their elections (“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors…”).  Just as clearly, States cannot run their elections with no limits at all. There is no good legal principle to decide when the States or Federal government makes the rules for any specific part of the elections process. The Supreme Court will keep dipping in and out of election particulars with consistency.  

The answer is to amend the Constitution. America needs an affirmative right to vote. There is already an excellent organization, FairVote, devoted to this idea. Here is the proposed text:

SECTION 1. Every citizen of the United States, who is of legal voting age, shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.

SECTION 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation.

Throw in the National Popular Vote, and maybe someday elections could just reflect the will of the people.

2024 Muttroxia Predictions

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.

Old Danish saying (not Niels Bohr or Yogi Berra)

This was fun to do last year. Let’s do it again. Here are Muttroxia predictions for 2024:


  • The NBA MVP will be Jokic (70%).
  • The NBA MVP will be Jokic, Luka, or Giannis (90%). I’m sorry Jason Taytum. I love ya. You’re the best player on the best team. I love that you think you’re the MVP. But you’re not the MVP.
  • Celtics make it to the NBA Finals (80%): Last year I picked them for the Eastern Conference Finals, this year they get back to the overall Finals. Do they win? I think so, but not enough to bet on it. The West has a lot of great teams, and winning a championship is hard. A couple of injuries and it’s over. (This one was written at the beginning of the year. Right now the Celtics are murdering teams by ridiculous margins, and have good odds to win it all. But fair is fair, I didn’t believe that at the beginning of the year.)
  • Neither University of Georgia nor University of Michigan will win the College Football National Championship (that is technically played in 2025) (80%):
  • Bijan Robinson will have over 1,200 yards next year (70%): New coach will give him so many touches.
  • The Atlanta Hawks will continue to be mediocre or worse. They’ll end up at 45 wins or worse next season. Unfortunately, we won’t know the answer to that until April 2025. So the prediction is that they will have a winning percentage of 55% or worse as of December 31, 2024 (70%).

The Economy

  • Inflation continues to decline in 2024 (90%). Last year I had troubles by not selecting a clear source. In 2024, I have one.
    • Inflation for December 2023 was 4.1. The prediction is that inflation will be below that in December 2024.
  • Average Gas Price has gas price at $3.00. on Election Day (70%):
  • The stock market will become more unbalanced (70%). I will take the top 10 stocks of 2023 and calculate their share of the total market, and do the same in 2024. I expect there to be even more concentrations at the top. I don’t have sources yet, probably Investopedia.
  • Electric car sales top 10% in the USA. (80%) Q4 of 2023 was 8.1%. This was big growth over 2022 but subsidies are declining. Consumer interest seemed to top off, but I still feel confident it will rise even more.


  • None of the four Donald Trump trials finishes before election day. This does not include appeals. No verdicts. 80%.
  • Congress passes no significant legislation about immigration (90%):
  • No major political figures are both impeached, and then convicted by the Senate (90%):
  • Dems retain control of Senate (60%): I feel very unsure of this, the GOP will be out in force, and unlike last cycle the GOP has kept away from the nuts. But what the heck, I’m feeling optimistic.
  • Trump or Biden, who wins?: Nope. Pass. Next one. I can’t even talk about it. God help us.


  • Two of these five people will die in 2024 (70%): A new gruesome category! Jimmy Carter, Ethel Kennedy, Mel Brooks, Dick Van Dyke, Alan Greenspan
  • Muttroxia will not have any months with over five posts after January. (80%). Last year I set this at 10 posts and was nowhere close, it’ll be a little more competitive this year.

Tesla “Fuel” Cost: Update

After a month or two of being a Tesla owner, I tried to figure out how much money I was saving in gas money. I’ve been driving it for almost two years, here are the updated numbers.

Total Distance Driven: 19,858 miles.

Total Energy Used: 4,918 kWh (energy per Mile: 0.248 kWh/mi)

Cost of Electricity: $0.11 per kWh. I’m changing the methodology from last time. Last time, it included the cost of all the connection fees, sales taxes and other garbage like that. The bill has gotten more complicated now, it’s hard to figure out which numbers are most meaningful. If you include all the rest, it’s around $.014ish.

Cost of Tesla electricity $541

How much would I have spend in gas? $4,180.

Gas math: My last car got 18 mpg. 19,858 miles at 18 mpg is 1,100 gallons of gas. The price of gas has fluctuated a lot. The average looks around $4.00, I’ll be generous and use $3.80. 1,100 gallons at $3.80 per gallon is a total of $4,180.

$4,180/$541 = 7.7. My gas car would have been around eight times more expensive to operate. This is essentially identical to the initial findings.

Some random googling brings back answers between six and ten times, so my personal experience seems in line.


In fact though, it’s even better than 7.7 times as good. Why?

1) As Sidness pointed out last year, the maintenance costs are basically zero. There are so many fewer things that get mechanically worn down. I have yet to spend one dollar on maintenance.

2a) We added solar panels to the house this year. On a normal sunny day, charging the car is free. (Well, it’s more complicated than that, we had to pay a lot of money up front to get the panels and that cost should be distributed out in some way… but the marginal cost of charging is essentially zero.)

2b) For that matter, there is free charging at my office as well. Although — one of the few genuinely bad things about a Tesla — the charger adapter just doesn’t work well. You kind of pull up on it while putting it in and it connects, then you slowly let go and hope that it stays connected, which currently does not happen much. It can’t possibly be that hard to build a working adapter/connection. Honestly Elon, get on the stick.

2023 Muttroxia Predictions: Final Score

In the beginning of 2023, I published several predictions about the year. 2023 is over, so how’d I do? Let’s find out (in order of highest to lowest confidence) with pass/fail scoring…

  • Biden officially announces his re-election campaign (90%): Pass.
  • Donald Trump doesn’t spend any time in jail, house arrest etc. He lives the year free. (90%): Pass.
  • Congress passes no significant legislation about immigration (90%): Pass. Sadly, the GOP strategy is now to score political points by yelling about the broken system and the consequences while refusing to do anything to fix it.

  • Muttroxia will not have any months with over ten posts after January. (80%): Pass. Not even close.
  • The NBA MVP will be Jokic or Giannis (80%) if the Celtics don’t win the championship.: Fail, the MVP was Embid. However, after the finals, Jokic was generally accepted as the best player in the league and has maintained that status into this season. Although I did get this one wrong in letter, I got it right in spirit. I’m giving myself a half pass point.

  • Donald Trump doesn’t have any final civil judgements found against him personally (that is, no fines or consequences) (70%): Fail. Trump was found guilty in the sexual abuse of E Jean Carroll. He is appealing, so technically the prediction is still true (I said “final”), but the spirit of the prediction was clearly wrong.
  • Inflation is below 4% by the end of 2023 (70%): Pass. Wish I had given an official definition for this since there are different ways of measuring inflation. Fortunately, they all give the same answer. Inflation started declining in the beginning of the year, and is now quickly approaching the point where we start panicking about the debt or something else instead. The consumer price index is at 3.4%. Core inflation is 3.8%.
USA Inflation since 2000
  • Average Gas Price ends the year below $2.50. (70%): Fail. It’s been up and down, and appears to be declining, but is around $3.20. Dang, I really thought I had this one.
  • The Justice Department does not charge Donald Trump personally for anything related to Jan 6th. (70%): Fail. In August, Jack Smith brought charges against Donald Trump personally. I’m glad to be wrong on this one!
  • Celtics make it to the Eastern Conference finals (70%): Pass. The Celtics went to the Eastern Conference Finals and choked to the Heat. You can bet my 2024 will be more optimistic.
  • Electric car sales top 10% in the USA. (70%) Fail. Q4 was 8.1%. While this was big growth over 2022, it wasn’t what I expected with the ongoing trends and massive government subsidies. While the manufacturers pivoted hard to electric, consumer interest seemed to top off.

  • UGA will repeat as college football champs. (60%): Pass. Remember this is for 2023, and they sure did repeat. They got pretty close to getting three in a row actually.
  • Generally there won’t be a massive rollback of abortion rights. (60%, but don’t know how to measure this.): Fail. It wasn’t as bad as some feared, but it’s been bad enough and Texas be so crazy.
  • Joe Biden is not impeached (60%): Pass.
  • By the end of 2023, I’ll forgot I made this post and need a reminder (80%). Fail. This was a lot of fun. Predicting is hard!


  • 90%ers: 3 out of 3
  • 80%ers: 1.5 out of 2
  • 70%ers: 2 out of 6
  • 60%ers: 2 out of 4

Total: 8.5 out of 15. That seems pretty good for my first try at this. Almost all the 80% and up predictions came in.

My Latest Favorite Song #32: Rolling Stones, Hackney Diamonds

So, there’s a new Rolling Stones album out. And it’s good! I honestly didn’t expect that. I saw them in 2021, and Keith was terrible. I couldn’t even finish listening to the last album by The Who. 80-year old classic rock masters of the past do not have a great record. But dang, this is a good album. One nice thing about Mick’s voice — since he’s never been a Freddie Mercury type, the old Mick doesn’t sound all the different than the younger Mick. Smaller distance to fall.

I’ll call out two tracks, and they happen to be the last two tracks of the album. Maybe because they aren’t trying to be hits, they actually have more of the magic.

Sweet Sounds of Heaven:

Nothing like simple chords done well. Musically, this is a simple song, your basic V IV I structure. That just shows you how real musical talent works. Stevie Wonder plays great piano, and Lady Gaga is just incredible on vocals.

The best section is at 5:15 when everything goes minimalist. It sounds as if the song was over but they just kept going. That may be true, Stevie Wonder has done it before… but either way, it sounds beautiful stripped down (similar to another great minimalist classic of theirs, I Got the Blues), and then when the full arrangement comes back in, it’s that much stronger. Great tune! (Here’s a live version.)

Rolling Stones Blues:

This here is what we call closure. Way back when, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger got to be best buddies when Keith saw Mick on the subway with this record. They bonded over their love for the blues. This song is where the name “Rolling Stones” comes from, it’s the genesis of the band and their career.

And here we are many years later, and finally they record it themselves. Appropriately, it is just Mick on vocals and harmonica, and Keith on guitar. (I believe that’s an amplified acoustic guitar, similar to Gimme Shelter.) No one else, just two fans of the blues playing the pure blues.

If this proves out to be to be the last track of their last album, it will be a fitting one, coming full circle.

My Latest Favorite Song #31: Ben Folds – Cologne

I’ve seen Ben Folds around six times in all kinds of different formats. It’s discouraging how he faded from the national view after Brick, because that’s not even one of the top 20 songs in his career.

I didn’t much care for this album (Way To Normal) despite it’s decent performance, but Cologne is a wonderful song (and the prelude, Before Cologne) to melt into.

Although verse two is lyrically awkward. The conceit of two people reading the same article continents apart is wonderful. But the particular story simply doesn’t fit the song at all, and the syllables have to jammed in, breaking the phrasing. It’s one part of the song that breaks you out.

If you want to see talent at work, watch one of the many videos of Ben Folds improvising/writing a new song live, usually with a symphony orchestra.