Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Monday, September 30, 2019

Gonna Have to Ditch a Lot of People



Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), who oversee the Senate Finance Committee and Homeland Security Committee respectively, sent Attorney General Bill Barr a letter on Monday asking whether the department is investigating the right wing conspiracy theory that Ukraine and the Hillary Clinton campaign colluded to undermine then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign in the 2016 elections.

I don't think there's any recovery without a purge.  And then who's left in the GOP?

"No pressure! No pressure! You're the pressure!"


Uh-oh.

The Emperor Unclothed


Yeah, well, now it's after 5 p.m.  Let the fun begin!


When ARE we going to see that information that corroborates all these allegations against Trump?
To be honest, that's been going on for 3 years now.  It's just finally being taken seriously.  Oh, watch out!  INCOMING!
Meanwhile, back among the people:
And yet another reason to remove Trump from office:
It occurs to me the revelations about Barr going to Australia and Italy are indications Trump has been nuts since the get-go, and that's becoming clear even to the intentionally obtuse among the media.  Trump has been thumping Barr to find the source of the Nile he thinks the Mueller Report is, in order to root out his enemies (shades of Nixon!) and bring them into the light to PROVE Trump is the legend in his own mind that he knows the world should see he is!  Frankly, misusing government power and personnel and monies to chase this white whale is grounds enough to remove him from office; if only the 25th Amendment meant anything.

But isn't it revealing that the Emperor has been naked all along, and only now are we all seeing it.

And has been for a long time.
This will not end well.  And, in closing, another brick in the wall:
It's the little things.


You Do NOT Want This Man Representing You!


The first sentence has nothing to do with the validity of the subpoena.  Whether the subpoena is legitimate and constitutional and even legal, may well be up to a federal judge.

But Rudy has waived whatever attorney-client privilege Trump may try to assert with all this appearances on the news and on Twitter, as well as executive privilege or double-super secret Presidential Seal privilege, or whatever he comes up with.  He'll try to drag this out in court, but I think the courts will make short work of him with an impeachment investigation underway.
Yeah, he's gonna be extremely credible in court.



And Back to the Question of How The News Covers Trump



The Whistleblower WAS Lying!


Well, at least he was wrong!

I'm Old Enough to Remember


...when William Barr didn't want to be involved in these efforts to get information from foreign governments for Trump's political benefit.

Well, that's what I was told.

The other best part, besides what is quoted in that tweet, is this:

“In making the request, Mr. Trump was in effect asking the Australian government to investigate itself. The F.B.I.’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election began after Australian officials told the bureau that the Russian government had made overtures to the Trump campaign about releasing political damaging information about Hillary Clinton.”
I don't think Barr is quite that stupid, but the President is.  And no, saying that does not relieve Trump of any responsibility for what he does.  It just explains how truly dangerous he is in office.

He really is a toddler with a loaded shotgun on a hair trigger.  And Barr is not implicated in all of this; he's swimming in it:



"Laws are for little people"




And on the idea Barr is terribly upset to have his name dragged into this investigation


 
 
Barr should mark "paid" to the idea the President deserves to have the Cabinet he wants.  The only thing any President deserves is a Cabinet that will serve the country.  Barr is only interested in serving the POTUS.  He should never have been confirmed.

...and a little bit of neither


If a tweet posts on the internet, and no one in the media reports on it, does it make a difference?

I've yet to hear anything about these tweets, except a mention of how many Trump has posted over the weekend, on any NPR news program this morning.  If the NYT is covering it, Maggie Haberman is not retweeting the tweet announcing the article.  I assume I won't hear about it on the evening news, PBS Newshour, or the like.

How hard is it to say?  Apparently it's impossible to even broach the subject.

And yet:  "The President posted a lot of tweets this weekend!" is all I'm hearing.

Apparently I'm not the only one:

It's a wondrous hope; but I'm not holding my breath.

"The Buckshot Use of the Curved Question"


That would include me; depending on how you define "in part."  I've read at several books, started more than a few novels, but none of it sticks with me at the moment or reminds me I "read a book" in the past 12 months.

Of course, I've read one helluva lot of books in my lifetime, and I find myself slowing down immensely of late.  Like TV crime shows or medical shows or any TV drama, for that matter, everything has the same pattern and the same conclusion, or a lame gimmick in lieu of real insight into the human condition (Frankenstein's monster now is an excuse for lurid violence; vampires for soft-core porn or, more likely, grotesque violence).  In other words:  been there, done that.

And new insights into things I'm interested in, matters philosophical or theological?  Don't find a lot of that, either.  For example, I plucked Gustavo Gutierrez' The Truth Shall Make You Free off the bookshelf and started reading where it fell open, a point I'd apparently read before because I'd marked a passage or two. Good, solid, Jesuitical thinking about liberation theology. I read it again with renewed interest from that point, about mid-way through the book.  It kept my attention for days, when I could get back to it.  Then the vein of gold petered out, and I lost interest.  I may finish the whole book someday; then again, maybe not.  Maybe I'm old and my brain is tired; or maybe the world is stupid, and I've sucked dry all the good thinking there is to be had.

Mostly I think it's the latter, but believe in my heart of hearts it's the former.

Still, numbers don't begin to tell any tales.

We have to wait until evidence is produced

indicating what Trump was up to with regard to Ukraine.

Right?

"One day, two days. 1 hour. Who knows?"



Oh, the things you learn on the internet


To be fair, Trump was quoting Robert Jeffress, who probably got the idea from the Russian troll farm, indirectly if not directly.  No doubt it's floating around out there, and ties in nicely with "The South Will Rise Again!" and the still smoldering resentment over that war.  Jeffress knows his audience, and it wasn't just Donald Trump.

On the other hand, this is just pathetic:

Whoo-hoo!  After 3 years, I've nearly reached 50% approval!  In one poll!  There have been 25 polls (per 538.com) since September 17; 3 of them put Trump at or near 50% approval.  That's about 10% of the polls; the very definition of "outliers."

Speaking of Very Important Issues


(Mostly because Maggie Haberman retweeted it.)  And yet what "she said she said she said she said" doesn't, individually or in the aggregate, amount to behavior that would shock a Victorian.

As opposed to the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, or Charlie Rose, or Matt Lauer.  Especially compared to them Al Franken was, at worst, what we called in my childhood "Fresh."  Or "Handsy."

Not exactly, to repeat myself, equivalent to the allegations of exposure and locking office doors leveled against the three men mentioned.

ADDING:

As I was saying:

 Obviously he should never appear in public again without a large scarlet "A" around his neck.

Breaking Norms


This raises a question:  is it appropriate to investigate and prosecute criminal acts of a former President by the subsequent Administration?

The usual argument has been:  that way lies banana republics, where every new election brings chances for recrimination and retribution the likes of which would make the Gingrich impeachment of Bill Clinton look like regular Parliamentary order.

On the other hand:  what is this State Department investigation but a true "witch hunt" (ironic, no?) where communications are being retroactively classified and acts long deemed acceptable are to now be treated as criminal and if we can't punish the former Secretary of State, we can certainly punish the government employees whose only crime is to still be government employees when the new POTUS took over.

It's going to take more than indicting Trump in 2021 to put a stop to this.  I don't have a silver bullet for it, but it cannot be allowed to continue now, nor to become a common practice in the future.

I'm a bit more worried about this than a poor jab at satire by a Congressional committee chair.

Seriously?


This is worth worrying about?

I was just thinking I never turn on NPR in the morning and hear about Trump's latest tweets.  I never get the daily briefing e-mail from NYTimes leading off with Trump's latest outrageous tweets.  Nobody covers them in WaPo or the LA Times; at least it never hits the front page.  I think this is of a piece with the Australian journalists recent observation that trying to report just what spills out of Trump's mouth is a challenge because it's usually some kind of word salad rather than a coherent statement of even conspiratorial bullshit.  So, the journalists notes, reporters end up making sense of Trump's statements because reporting on them verbatim is almost impossible, except to say "The President spewed more gibberish today," and THAT would be condemned as biased and opinionated.

Nobody is noticing Trump's tweets, IOW, and this hammering on Schiff Trump is doing is just pathetic in the extreme.  Trump has at least three times now demanded Schiff be arrested for treason over these remarks; that strikes me as of far more concern than the concern that Schiff's remarks were maybe not a "good idea." 

It's not like one or two Republicans complaining about Schiff's remarks is any worse than what the POTUS is saying over and over again.  Maybe today he'll say it in front of cameras, so the press HAS to cover it.

Starting the Morning Off Right

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
--Article III, Sec. 3, U.S. Constitution

So, no, I guess not.  L'etat is still not vous.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

My Cup Runneth Over




Just another day in paradise.

The Unpardonable Sin is Pronouncing an Unpardonable Sin

So, where are the evangelicals in this poll?
And why don't they seem likely to lead a Civil War II Electric Boogaloo?

More like quid amateur quo

Twitter talks, we listen

The brilliance of the Sunday morning defense of Trump carried on into the evening.
It is quite the revelation.
Worth keeping in mind.
And because I can't get enough of this:
Still looking for how low "low" is:
Excuses are running out:
Well, that and after age 18, you're responsible yourself for your own actions.

Be Somewhere Else Now(!)

Yes, it should.
You have confirmed everything in the report and still insist you did nothing wrong in the conversation. Of what, then, are you accused, except out of your own mouth?

As for fraud: what was misrepresented, and who relied in it to their detriment?

Treason? L'etat, c'est moi? Mockery of the POTUS is mockery of the state? Read the Constitution, you idiot. The crime is defined there.
Again, you released the report and you confirmed everything in it and you thought it was all "perfect" until the public reception turned into impeachment investigations. And what information was given "illegally"? The information you confirmed but now don't like because no one else agrees it is "perfect"?

Besides, impeachment is not a criminal hearing. You'll have your rights to face your accusers when you are in criminal court, as you surely will be.

Until then we can try to reconcile these two:

Committing government resources to beating the dead horse of Clinton's e-mails is justified, but investigating facts you have admitted to is bad for the country?

You really do think you're a king.
Jesus doesn't love me that much. And if I haven't been clear on the point, allow me to abuse some horse flesh on my own:
This couldn't be going any better if I scripted it.

Nothin' but good times ahead!


Eh, we'll start there.  It didn't go any better:
And George Conway weighed in:
In brief, the whole morning was a fiasco:
Unless, apparently, you were in the White House:

It's very hard to understand why.  Especially because Ukraine wants nothing to do with our domestic scandals:

But there's nothin' but good times ahead!

Nobody tell 'em they're a little late to rapidly respond to the disaster of the past 7 days.

Don't Mess With Texas


I post this because it's a beautiful picture of our State Capitol (all Texas Granite!), and because it prompted this tweet in reply:
Please note in future that when you see this, the person who said it, no matter how nice and well-intentioned they may be, does not know his ass from a hole in the ground.  

In 2018 Houston/Harris County (just as Austin is, basically, Travis County) swept out every GOP elected judge in the county and replaced the whole kit 'n' kaboodle with African-American women who were Democrats (of course).  And replaced the highest county official with a Democrat, even though the GOP official was widely admired and the Democrat had no experience to speak of (she's doing a fine job, btw).  And turned out a GOP incumbent of long standing in a U.S. House district.  Yes, we are where Ted Cruz lives when he's in Texas.

But Alex Jones lives in Austin.

And Harris County just authorized even more funding for the District Attorney to go after polluters, following the huge refinery fire we had here recently.

Please adjust your understanding of Texas politics accordingly.  All of the major cities of Texas are blue, now.  They all went for Clinton in 2016.  A reasonable effort by Democrats (especially if Beto is the V.P. candidate) could easily tip Texas in 2020.  It ain't just Austin.  (And "Keep Austin Weird" was meant to promote local business in Austin, just as "Don't Mess With Texas" is still an anti-litter campaign. Nothin wrong with either slogan, just don't take 'em the wrong way.  And the Legs passed a number of laws declaring cities in Texas couldn't do things they had been doing that the GOP Lege didn't like.  Most of the cities directly affected were NOT the "People's Republic of Travis County."  And just like no native of San Francisco calls it "Frisco," nobody in Texas says that of Austin.)

"...treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors"



The fish rots from the head:

“We have a combination of bribery, we have the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act at risk here because we’re paying a favor, withholding funds and expecting a condition precedent that favors the president favorably before the funds are given, and we also have efforts to conceal the very document we had in this conversation by people in the White House.”

“We have the State Department involved, we have the Justice Department involved,” he continued. “This is a major scandal and hopefully by Halloween, we’ll figure out how to identify the articles of impeachment that correspond to this misconduct.”

And to mix our metaphors with a blender:

“I would point out,” Jayapal replied. “We should not be trying to find a secret smoking gun. Donald Trump is the smoking gun. He admitted exactly what he did, and everything that is described in the call record in the whistleblower complaint backs up what he said.”

Which is why Trump's defenders want to keep our attention on the whistleblower.

Suddenly I'm looking forward to Hallowe'en.

Again: the POTUS heads up the ENTIRE Administration of the United States



That includes the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and all manner of intelligence gathering and investigative agencies the publicly is broadly aware of or completely ignorant of:

“Two high-profile Washington lawyers, Joe diGenova, who’s been a fierce critic of the Democratic investigation, and his wife Victoria Toensing were working with Giuliani to get oppo research on Biden,” Wallace said at the top of his broadcast.

“According to a top U.S. official, all three were working off the books apart from the administration,” Wallace added. “The only person in government who knows what they were doing is President Trump.”

Trump is not the victim of Giuliani or is advisers.  Trump is at the dead center of this, convinced the conspiracy theories that fill his head like spiders are the only real truth in the world, and only those who agree with him understand the "truth."

As former Ambassador Michael McCaul explained it on MTP this morning, Trump was working, through Giuliani (and Toensing and diGenova?) with a prosecutor in Ukraine trying to find dirt on Biden.  Trump and Giuliani (at least) were surprised when Zelensky became the new President of Ukraine, so they had to start all over again this year working on him to work for them.  That was the reason for the infamous phone call, and it's clear from even the record the White House released what Trump wanted:

“A lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great,” Trump said on the call with Zelensky, after asking the newly elected president of Ukraine for a “favor.”

“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me.”

What Biden "bragged about" was doing what most of the countries of the West wanted done, to root out corruption in Ukraine.  What Trump wants to do, is put the corruption back in Ukraine, if it will help him.

We know what Giuliani did; what did Toensing and diGenova get up too?

P.S. Maggie Haberman reminds us to pay more attention:

The Crucible


Lindsay Graham is NOT having it!

“I just told you I have zero problems with this phone call,” he told host Margaret Brennan. “There is no quid pro quo here but I have a problem against Nancy Pelosi, if you believe that Donald Trump did something to hurt this country, you owe it to vote not talk about impeaching the president.”

According to Graham, Democrats are “hiding behind” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and are “afraid” to vote on impeachment.

Graham appeared shaken over a whistleblower report which exposed Trump’s Ukraine call.

“Every American deserves to confront their accuser so this is a sham, as far as I am concerned!” he charged. “I want to know who told the whistleblower about the phone call.”

“The complaint sounds like a legal document,” Graham insisted. “Who helped this guy write it or this girl write it. We are not going to try the president of the United States based on hearsay. Every American has the right to confront their accuser.”

He added: “Who are these people and what are they up to? You know, Mueller wasn’t a witch hunt but this is. Salem witch trials have more due process than this! How do you know she’s a witch? Somebody told me she’s a witch. How do you know she’s a witch? I read articles thinking she might be a witch.”
Okay, so, the problem is Pelosi, not Trump, and the problem is Pelosi is not moving directly to impeachment, but instead is conducting an impeachment investigation.  Hugh Hewitt (on MTP this morning) literally accused Adam Schiff of being the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland:  Verdict first, trial afterwards!  Lindsay seems to think that should be the way things are done!

But that, of course, won't allow Trump to face his accuser, and that's the problem!  Besides, who leaked the truth to this guy (or "gal")?  That's the real scandal!  That we have whistleblowers in government!  It's appalling!

And the complaint "sounds like a legal document"?  What, government employees learn to write like lawyers??!!!!???  Whoever heard of such a thing???!!!!  And although the process hasn't even begun (and the trial will be in the Senate, not the House), "Salem witch trials have more due process than this!"

Yeah, nothing says "denial of due process" like calling witnesses and taking testimony in public hearings before moving on to deciding whether or not impeachment is warranted.

They're gonna pound that table into kindling before very long.

"But must it come so cruel, must it be so bright?"

Ignore the Story

Protect the King.
No matter what the truth is:

Whatever. Protect the President:
Just another Pleasant Valley Sunday.

Bricks Without Straw

Hugh Hewitt was patted on the head by the MTP panel when he tried to claim Adam Schiff destroyed his credibility in an interview with Chuck Todd. Schiff rather stiffly defended the need for an impeachment inquiry, but Hewitt argued Schiff was biased and therefore disqualified from conducting the investigation.

We expect judges to be objective and unbiased, but we expect prosecutors to believe in the legitimacy of their investigation and prosecution.

Steve Scalise, on the same program but in an interview, evaded so baldly and tried to spin so badly Chuck Todd(!) called him on it.  On the panel the 2nd time around told Hewitt his comments were absolutely irrelevant (spoiler: they were). When Chuck Todd is calling out your bullshit, you're bullshit-fu is weak indeed.

Defenders of Trump really don't have anything to build a defense with at all.

The Calls Are Coming From Inside the Oval Office!


But as I heard a Trump defender argue, there's no evidence it DIDN'T happen!

Huh? Huh? Got ya there, huh?

The View From the White House

Saturday, September 28, 2019

At some point, you almost feel sorry for him

A slightly less atrocious argument than Trump's, but only because it is less reminiscent of the playground. It also has the one virtue of being clearer about the projection. Biden and Clinton were guiltier, so Trump should walk. That's equal protection under the law, right?

This really seems to be the best they can do.

This is not a war room--Rene Magritte


Yeah!  That's what happened!
Oh, and about that classified server:
As of this writing, Trump has 23 "RNC Research" retweets (all of them involve videos that all seem to come from FoxNews) confirming in his mind that he is a victim of "PRESIDENTIAL HARRASSMENT!"
(so true, so true!)

And one retweet of a retweet of a formerly pinned tweet:
Which apparently the "FAKE NEWS!" has not reported on, which is why, of course, it is "FAKE NEWS!"  (And inquiring minds still want to know:  how do "corrupt Democrats" exonerate Trump of his corruption?)

The image of Trump under the covers sucking his thumb while he manages to retweet with his left hand has not been erased by this re-tweet storm.

I know you are, but what am I?


Donald Trump is accused, in the words of Carl Bernstein, of causing a genuine national security crisis.  Reports are he was angry at the treatment of Donald, Jr., and so he went after the Joe/Hunter Biden story in revenge.  Now he's getting peanut butter in his chocolate and combining the crimes he's accused of and has accused others of, in a grand synthesis of criminality and abuse of power:

“The Trump administration is investigating the email records of dozens of current and former senior State Department officials who sent messages to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email, reviving a politically toxic matter that overshadowed the 2016 election, current and former officials said,” the paper reported.


The scope of the investigation is staggering.

“As many as 130 officials have been contacted in recent weeks by State Department investigators — a list that includes senior officials who reported directly to Clinton as well as others in lower-level jobs whose emails were at some point relayed to her inbox, said current and former State Department officials,” the paper noted. “Those targeted were notified that emails they sent years ago have been retroactively classified and now constitute potential security violations, according to letters reviewed by The Washington Post.”State Department investigators began contacting the former officials about 18 months ago, after President Trump’s election, and then seemed to drop the effort before picking it up in August, officials said.”

Here again we have our genuine 'constitutional crisis' which no one will name, because it is a real crisis, not something breathlessly imagined in order to gin up interest in an otherwise mundane political story.  The crisis is this:  the Constitution specifically forbids what lawyers call "ex post facto" laws.  That is, you can't make criminal an act that wasn't criminal, and then indict or convict the actor of committing a criminal act which wasn't criminal when the act was made.

See?  The government can decide to classify material not previously classified (although it's a fool's errand, obviously).  It's quite another matter to threaten criminal sanctions against people who dealt in previously unclassified material which is classified now.  And of course once again Trump is his own worst enemy:

“To many of those under scrutiny, including some of the Democratic Party’s top foreign policy experts, the recent flurry of activity surrounding the Clinton email case represents a new front on which the Trump administration could be accused of employing the powers of the executive branch against perceived political adversaries,” The Post explained. “The existence of the probe follows revelations that the president used multiple levers of his office to pressure the leader of Ukraine to pursue investigations that Trump hoped would produce damaging information about Democrats, including potential presidential rival Joe Biden.”

So thanks to the impeachment inquiries, Trump throws fuel on the fire because if Hillary did it (or Biden, or Obama), then he can't be guilty unless they are guilty, and if they are guilty he can't be guilty because.....well, the reasoning runs completely aground at that point.  It's Trump's attempt at a Catch-22, but it's no catch at all.  He keeps expanding the issues the House should investigate, but he keeps doing them the favor of making sure it's all tied to him; because in the end he has to be sure it is always by and about him.

Somewhere Richard Nixon wants his "Most Incompetently Corrupt" title taken away and passed on to the living.

The Gang That Still Can't Shoot Straight

Sure he did.
Sure. Stick with that. There's nothing further investigation will reveal, right?
Like that.
Stick with that, too.  And if all else fails, promote this widely:
What could go wrong?

He's also shocked to learn about the gambling

a) "Shocked and surprised" is the level one, right before lawyering up and going radio silent "on advice of counsel."

b) If it's true instead of cliche, then Barr is a dumbass. He knows who he's working for and how business gets done; which means

c) either way he's screwed, and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

The barrel of rats is filling up. The lid will be nailed down any time now.

JAG Graham Knows Better

a) Trump has admitted to the phone call and what was said (calling it "legal" doesn't make it so, BTW.)

b) The White House released their record of the call, which corroborates what the report AND Trump said.

c) There is no impeachment yet, only an investigation. That's the process that turns hearsay into evidence.

d) Impeachment is not a legal proceeding. Rules of evidence promulgated by courts don't apply.

e) This is your defense? You really don't have anything, do you?

We Have Always Been at War...

...with the other party.
Ummm...sure.

Curiously indecisive. Additionally, this is worth noting:
Once a racist, always a racist.

Also, the playground defense continues: "No fair! He did it first!" Which means it's okay that Trump did it? Or that if we punish Obama (or Biden), we won't punish Trump? He doesn't know and doesn't care, all he has left is whinging.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Yes, He Really Is That Stupid, part 1000

There's a reason it's a "flashback."

The Further Tales of the Tweets


To be fair, they didn't cover it up all that well.

Yup.  Although that, too, was obvious from the beginning.  
Arguably, the profound failure was when Trump was elected.  More pointedly, the failure was in trusting the system, or any system, to save us from ourselves.

Post in Lieu of Comment


As I have lamented before, I can't post comments on Blogger from my computer; I have to do it from my phone, a tedious process involving "thumbing" virtual keys.

Feh.

So this is in part a comment on this post, but it's an idea running through my head.  The idea is that, every time I read something about Ukraine and Biden, it turns into something about Russia and propaganda.  The idea that Joe Biden helped Hunter out by acting on behalf of several European countries and the IMF to get rid of a corrupt holdover from Communist days, in order to foster democracy in Ukraine and stop an investigation of the gas company which wasn't under investigation at the time, is, of course, farcical.  Not only is there "no evidence" for it (Lord save us from any further "both siderism" on that subject!), the whole thing is a fabrication of Russian trolls.  As we've had occasion to notice before on this blog, Donald Trump sits atop the greatest source of intelligence and information in the known world, and yet he gets his information from rumor mongers and idiots and his notion of "patriots" from Steve Bannon (the last UN speech is a side bar, here, but still it's all of a piece!).  Or, I could just post this:


What comes unbidden to mind every time I read about Russian propaganda, which is still thriving and drove Trump to seek a unicorn, a chimera, a manticore, is the final scene from "The Monsters Are Coming to Maple Street," where the aliens discuss the success of their experiment at terrifying a small group of humans and turning them against each other in a matter of hours.  As the scene makes clear, the street is isolated in the larger town, but the implication is clear, too:  it only takes a spark to get a fire going.

Maybe all this Russian propaganda will lead to a conflagration; but I still don't think so.  What I think is a handful of people, self-isolated (as the neighbors were by the time the sun set) can be tormented into believing any nonsense (torment is not necessarily physical, mind).  And someone manipulating them, watching as they react and adjusting to their reactions, truly has a superior technology, as the aliens did in the "Twilight Zone" episode.

Or at least they're using it in a very effective way.  Not that it's effective against everyone, but it doesn't have to be.  And the limits of that effectiveness are now becoming clear:  even the NYT has stopped talking about "no evidence," as if it were a question of some waiting to be discovered.  Most news outlets dismiss the claims against Biden as lies and nonsense, and even propaganda.  A near majority of the people, per polling, now think an impeachment inquiry (at least) is appropriate.  Trump and Giuliani are providing a host of witnesses against them even as they try to defend themselves.  And, back to the comment part of this post, Nancy Pelosi has given Trump enough rope to hang himself.  As the camera pulls back on that scene in the TV show, we see a street full of madness in a calm and composed city, and we wonder what happens when the sun rises and that street rejoins the community of streets around them.  Yes, the ability to terrorize so easily is frightening; but what is reassuring is that it takes a very specific set of circumstances to make that work.

And that specific set of circumstances is very easily undone by the rest of the calm and rational world.

Lame Sauce

I heard an argument somewhere today that Ukraine never knew Trump had suspended money before the famous phone call, so there was no crime!

Yeah, that'll work.

Check the article under the heading "Bribery."  Or "Misappropriation."

That is not the defense you are looking for.

Rodents on a Foundered Sea-going Vessel


Made Trump sound guilty?  How hard was that to do?

Who is he quoting? And why does he think all-caps makes it true?


Nah, he presented his version of it, which is fair.  It's nothing to resign over and there's nothing to be investigated.  You know, as the person who sits over the Department of Justice and the entire administrative structure of our federal laws, you don't know jack-shit about any of it.  That's more than a little concerning.  And "He has been doing this for two years"?  What are you talking about?  You've been carrying on like this for three years, and you haven't resigned yet.
This is my favorite part:  the memorandum (it's hardly a transcript) of the phone call isn't being misread to make you look bad:  the conversation itself is bad.  It was neither legal nor good, but again, there's that problem of you having no understanding of either term.  And it's not a "witch hunt" when the information comes from your own White House.

Maybe you should ask yourself why so many people working on your staff are ratting you out.