"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

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

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

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Is Anybody Surprised By This?

If so, why?

Twins Sons of Different Mothers

In his own words:

The outspoken Trump supporter praised the president in an interview, bragging that the president has accomplished a lot “without a fully supportive Republican majority.”

“He, of course, has been able to do it with the relentless attacks of the Democrats,” Graham continued. “He may go down in history as one of the best presidents we’ve had.”

The Christian leader has previously cited Trump’s polices as proof that the president defends the Christian faith.

“I think he has honored his commitments to the faith-based community,” Graham told the outlet. “He is pro-life, [the] first president really in my lifetime that has been this vocal about life. I certainly appreciate that about him.”

Graham also noted that Trump kept his campaign promise to appoint conservative judges. “He’s put two Supreme Court justices so far on the bench that are conservative. He’s appointed a number at lower courts. I hope that he’ll be able to do even more in that area, because that will have an impact on my childrens' lives. If we have the right judges, it will benefit all of us.”

1)  The "faith-based community" being only people who agree with Graham on all things.

2)  Pro-life, but only until birth.  After that, they're on their own (just like Jesus said they should be?) Notice under this argument, life begins at conception, but ends at birth.  Apparently.

3)  Conservative Supreme Court Judges and lower court judges.  Because what really matters in this life, is the law.  (Wasn't that how the Pharisees were portrayed in the gospels?)

Please note none of this has anything to do with anything explicitly Christian.  No questions of salvation, of care for the poor, feeding the hungry, tending the sick; it's all solely about political power and personal loyalty.  Franklin Graham likes Donald Trump because Franklin Graham is Donald Trump:  committed to those who are loyal to him and what he calls important.  The sole difference is, Trump calls himself important.  Then again, Graham calls himself important.  He certainly betrays not one shred of Christian humility, or concern for others.  His only concern is for people who agree with him, and support what he supports.  Which, despite references to a "Community" and judges, is really just anything that supports Franklin Graham and the world he wants to live in; for the comfort and convenience of Franklin Graham.

It's really hard to tell them apart, after all.

Is there a theologian in the house?

1) Way behind it?
2) So far behind it God hasn't caught up yet?
3) God was behind the popular vote?
4) Even God doesn't understand the electoral college?
5) I'm actually an ordained minister (unlike Graham, who had a famous father, and otherwise has no claim to being religious, or a "religious leader"), and I fundamentally disagree with him on (at least) this point. Which of us is right? Discuss.
6) Really, who cares what Franklin Graham thinks, especially when it comes to discerning the will of God?

Kids these days!

The sad part is, over at Politico's twitter feed, nobody seems to know Robert Heinlein solved this issue 70 years ago.

Don't make me look it up for ya, ya snot-nosed punks!

(I knew plowing through science fiction in my childhood would pay off some day!)

"Why are we the prophets?"

Wander the "smarter" websites, everyone's hair is on fire because Trump.  Probably with good reason, I'll grant, but in a world of pundits where I doubt even Rick Wilson remembers seeing the Edward Gorey titles to "Masterpiece Mystery" in real time, it's notable how young the pundits are, and how determined they are to stake their place in history and declare THIS MOMENT!! one for the ages which they alone can stand athwart and rally the people to the barricades!

Or something.

Start with Dahlia Lithwick, who warns us how much damage Trump can do (and yes, he can):

The answer, of course, is that we’ve let him get away with it. As Michelle Goldberg argued Thursday, we let him because we are numb and tired and losing our capacity to react. This is partially because while Donald Trump remains a first-order attention grabber, he no longer feels like a first-order problem—perhaps because we have learned that there isn’t much to do about him, or because we think that voting him out in 2020 is the best answer. Instead of trying to stop this administration that is simply and stubbornly still there (and surely getting worse), we seem to have decided to spend most of our energy on our other priorities, on our lives, and on following the 2020 Democratic primary. Who can blame us, really, with Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats focused on infrastructure, hearings, reelection bids, and their own races? They are the people who can do something tangible to end this presidency, and from the looks of it, many are not very focused on that task (opting instead to spend time fighting over what to focus on). That means that every day House Democrats send out the message that “this is a crisis” and also that “I’m working on other projects” becomes a day in which they look like they are either overstating the crisis or declining to take appropriate action. Democracy is on fire. Nobody knows what to do. Therefore, democracy can’t really be on fire? Repeat.

The base problem is that, to most Americans, a "first order" problem is one that affects their jobs, their homes, their lives. "It's the economy, stupid" was a reminder of what ordinary voters cared about, and it wasn't the intricacies of decorous international conduct.  Impeachment is not just a political issue in Washington, it's a political one in America, too.  And unless Trump wades into a truly unjustified war ( "unjustified" would be fairly easy to establish, actually, and Trump knows it.  He's no more likely to get into a war than he is to stop being self-obsessed.), or if he declared himself diktator, or suspends Congress and declares martial law, most of America figures we'll survive him. Politicians lie, after all; and take care of themselves and their buddies. Trump is egregious and offensive, but Americans don't see him as a clear and present danger to the nation. Mostly he's a lout: boorish, embarrassing, and unfit for office. But the still-preferred remedy is political. That means an election.

For most of America, the crimes of Donald Trump are too abstract to be a problem. For most Americans, crime means violence to persons, or taking property. Lying is bad, but it's inchoate. Politicians lie. The sun rises in the east. So what?

Someone like Trump doesn't get re-elected. Removed from office? Eh. We'll get to him. What Tony Schwartz advises is what most Americans are already doing. Trump's actions don't directly threaten them, or the continued existence of the nation. Like the farmers hurt by Trump but resolute, Americans know they will survive. Removing Trump won't suddenly restore contracts farmers have lost, restore trade companies have lost, or make any real difference in daily life. The crisis of his removal, a slow moving national train wreck with nothing but a new crisis when he is prematurely gone, has no appeal. Nixon cheated to win office, conspired to cover it up, and betrayed the very people he hired to investigate the crimes. He pissed America off. Trump has simply disgusted them. He won't be re-elected, but he won't be impeached, either. If Congress can't get anything else done, the Democrats should lay that blame squarely on the Republicans. It's the only thing that will leave the country in better shape in 2021.

"Democracy is on fire"? This isn't 1968.  It isn't the Civil War years, or the 1930's. LBJ was forced to step away from running for re-election even though he'd trounced Goldwater four years earlier and did more to change the direction of government toward serving the people in 6 years than FDR did in 14. Vietnam wiped that from memory. Nixon won in '68 on a "secret plan" to end the war, although the one secret was how much he expanded it. He won against a candidate as inept as Hillary Clinton, and one tied to Johnson's failures (we've all forgotten his successes). But the people had forced LBJ down in high moral dudgeon, and 6 years later they did the same to Nixon after Watergate was fully revealed.  Democracy wasn't on fire, it worked; as it is doing now. Indeed, the idea that we the people are just awaiting instructions sounds more like fascism than democracy to me. We don't need instructions; there is a wisdom of the people that will prevail.  Much as I hate admitting that, I've learned it's often true.  Better them than me; I don't want the responsibility.  Trust me, neither do you.

Michael Cohen is upset by the same set of facts which bothers Ms. Lithwick:

“For the president to suggest he would willingly take assistance from a foreign government to win an election is as close as you can get to unambiguously violating the presidential oath to protect and uphold the Constitution,” Cohen wrote.

He went on to explain Trump’s relationship with North Korea, “What is clear from all this is that the president is willing to ignore North Korea’s defiant behavior and give the country a pass for violating agreements between the sides as long as Kim says nice things to him. In effect, Trump is ignoring America’s national security interests to mollify his tender ego. This would be pathetic if it wasn’t so dangerous.”

“These latest outrages only magnify the point that has been obvious for years now: the president is unfit for office. His only loyalty is to himself and his ego. He has no ethical or moral core. He doesn’t understand the difference between right and wrong, only what’s best for him personally,” he said.

“It’s exhausting to have to keep repeating these essential facts, but it’s still necessary. Because there is little reason to believe he will stop. Calling for the impeachment of Trump is no longer just about registering outrage over his actions. It’s no longer just a response to the criminality exposed in the Mueller Report. It’s about averting an ongoing crisis — and stopping the president from actively undermining national security and American democracy on a daily basis,” he wrote.

But, again, "undermining national security" hasn't been a national obsession since the days of Joe McCarthy and the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities, which persisted for a decade or longer after Tailgunner Joe was censured and left the Senate.  That's pretty much our national pattern for worrying about national security on a national scale.   We don't do it reflectively (Eisenhower was President!), but reflexively.  When the inchoate becomes choate, ugly things tend to happen.  Not that Trump is going to return us to those days (thank the lords and the low creatures!), but again, the public consensus is:  "Fine, we'll vote him out in 18 months.  We can last that long.  The system works this way, and we can wait."

But what if we were to compare Trump to a gangster?  Wouldn't that work?

But perhaps Trump was right. Maybe Stephanopoulos needs a good talking to from the Capo di tutti i capi on Pennsylvania Avenue. Doesn’t George get it that politics in the age of Trump is a criminal enterprise, that politicians are no different from gangsters? They don’t go to the FBI and turn each other in. They don’t report crimes. They commit them, and they keep their mouths shut. My buddy’s having sex with underage girls? Call the FBI? Are you kidding?

Trump acted like a bank robber who walked up to a cop standing in front of the bank and said, “hey, man, I’m going in there in a minute, and I’m going to rob that bank, and what are you going to do about it?” We got our answer from Republicans the next day. Nothing. Zip. He’s going to rob that bank? We’re cool with that. By the way, we’ll be happy to pick up any bills he drops on the way out.

Stephanopoulos looked like Lester Holt the day Trump told him on TV that he fired Comey because of “the Russia thing.” He knew he was onto a big story, so he pressed him. “You want that kind of interference in our elections? he asked, fishing. Trump allowed that he might call the FBI “if I thought there was something wrong,” but he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with accepting campaign help from the Russians or anybody else. He has admitted he didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking Russian help when he begged them during the 2016 campaign, “Russia, if you’re listening,” and urged them to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. That’s what he does. That’s who he is.

The only thing that’s new is that Trump has dropped any pretense he’s going to follow the law. He doesn’t care what the law is. When Stephanopoulos reminded him that Christopher Wray, the Director of the FBI, had testified to Congress that any campaign receiving a solicitation from a foreign government should report that fact to the FBI, Trump told him, “The FBI director is wrong.”

Trump just warned the chief law enforcement officer of the land that if he does his job, he’ll be fired. This should come as no big news to Wray, however. He watched it happen to former FBI director James Comey. He watched it happen to former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe. Trump treats law enforcement officials like subcontractors on one of his buildings. Stiff the stupid fucker, and if he comes back at you, fire him. And if he doesn’t like that, sue him.
The next time Trump has Stephanopoulos over to the Oval Office for a lecture on the Way the World Works, he’s going to call off the election, turn to the camera and say, now what are you going to do?

Yes, Trump did all of that.  But it isn't like he shot somebody on live TeeVee, or stole some kid's lunch money.  All the analogies to crime are apt in that accounting:  they are also analogies, which by their nature are abstract.  There's a reason the press demands a "smoking gun":  because nothing less than that will convince a majority of Americans that something's rotten in the state of Denmark and something must be done RIGHT NOW!  In fact, the example of Hamlet is instructive here.  If he kills his uncle the King, it's regicide, and unless he convinces the nation the King was a murderer himself, Hamlet is worse off than before.  But if he doesn't, where is justice?  The difference is, Hamlet can't wait for the next election cycle, and while most Americans trust their Representative and Senator, yours are crooks and thieves who can't be trusted in broad daylight, so how do we know they're doing what's best for the country in turning the President out?

Is Trump a gangster? Well, in the mold of fictional gangsters, yeah. But will he cancel elections or refuse to leave office? A) That would require being more directly accountable than Trump has ever been in his life. He doesn't have the balls. B) If he does either of those things, call me when the country shrugs. Because it won't.

But it won't happen, either.

"Nice economy ya got there."

"Be a shame if anything were to happen to it."
"Look! Over there! A problem no one is worried about! Time to spend all our energy (and attention!) solving it!"
18 months out? Imagine the nation's surprise. And excitement. (Hasn't he literally been holding rallies since he took office?)

Friday, June 14, 2019

True Tall Tales from Texas

True story. The Lovely Wife was telling me about it. The gator lives not fat somewhere I sit.  And the question it raises is: "Ehst asshole did this?"

And how many people is it gonna take to undo it?

The (F)art of the Deal

An agreement to start discussion of the agreement of terms of an agreement to agree on an agreement that might even result in an agreement.

I understand he was never even in the room! How does he do it?

And no wonder he kept it secret...

(I'm beginning to wonder if Trump knows how to read.)

Broken Record*

If this sounds familiar:

“We advised that, although the text of section 6103(f) does not require the Committee to state any purpose for its request, Congress could not constitutionally confer upon itself the right to compel a disclosure by the Executive Branch of confidential information that does not serve a legitimate legislative purpose,” the opinion argued.

It's because it's the same argument two trial courts have already heard and rejected.  (They repeated a variant in their appellate brief.  Call it theme and variations in the key of derp.) The only change is, now they're making the DOJ use it.

They've got nothin', but they're not admitting that explicitly.  These records are coming loose, one way or the other.

*Ask yer grandpa!  Snot-nosed punks!

"Because who you gonna believe?"

"Me? Or a lawyer under oath?"

(And yes, this sounds like another count of obstruction to me.)

(Also, as well)

"If somebody tells me it fell off the back of a truck..."

"...why shouldn't I believe them?"

That's just common sense.  Right? Everybody does that.


I'm sure The First Lady is thrilled to be referred to as "it."

I'm also sure she's not the least bit surprised.

Not even on TeeVee

That's not "walking it back." That's the same argument he uses on obstruction of justice: that without an underlying crime, there can't be any obstruction.

Obstruction, of course, is the crime, separate and apart from any other action. Just as accepting information from a foreign agent is a crime in the context of a political campaign. The quality of the information is irrelevant.  Mere acceptance is the crime. Discussing it with the agent could well be conspiracy, too.

Trump is his own worst lawyer.

"Who does that? Nobody does that!"-The President of the United States

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Does anybody really need to go to the tape?

Strong men wept. Children wailed. Women fainted. The earth split open. The lion lay down with the lamb.

(Neither do I.)

Nixon: "...when the President does it, it's not illegal."

Trump: "When it benefits me, how can it be illegal? Don't even ask. It can't be."


Because the beat goes on....

NOW what do we do?

(Pass the popcorn....)

"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!"

In other words, the only things that would disincentivize Trump from pulling a 2016 again are, like, personal propriety and a sense of shame. And frankly I don’t think that’s going to be enough! 
Let me start with the obvious that nobody notices.  Mitch McConnell was not elected by the people to be Majority Leader of the Senate.  He was elected by the majority of the senators.  He retains that position because he's doing what the majority of the Senators want him to do.  I mention this because the problems with the Senate don't begin and end with Mitch McConnell.  It's the majority of the Senate that's the problem.

And the only recourse to what Donald Trump has said he'll do again in 2020, is impeachment.  But he won't be removed from the Presidency by the Senate, because the majority of the Senate won't remove him.  Despite the fervent hopes of people like Lawrence Tribe, you can't shame a whore, and the U.S. Senate majority is a confederacy of whores.  So Trump is not leaving until November, 2020, if the electoral college goes against him.

In the meantime?  The DOJ won't indict him (as if Barr would let that happen), the House can't remove him, and impeachment would just prove to Trump (at least) that he was invisible and bulletproof.  So I ask again:  what is going to be "enough"?

We elect public officials to office assuming they will not be corrupt and/or indifferent to corruption.  Even the GOP Senators in 1974 were not so blinded by Nixon's landslide victory (one of the largest in U.S. history; McGovern didn't even carry his home state, all he got was Massachusetts) that they thought Nixon's obvious corruption was something they could ignore.  When it turns out we are wrong:  Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Because that's where we are.

We cannot "disincentivize" Trump; he doesn't even understand the concept.  Nixon left office convinced he was right in all he had done.  It was long after he was an ex-President that he told David Frost that when the President does it, it's legal.  He was justifying his actions until the day he died.  He wasn't "disincentivized," he was prevented from ever having the authority to do anything for the nation, by the representatives of the nation.

Today, we don't have enough such representatives.  And we're not going to anytime before November, 2020.  "Disincentivizing" is not the solution here:  removal or criminal conviction is.  And neither option is available to the nation until November, 2020.

And after that?  That's a problem, too; although Trump is making it much, much easier to envision criminal prosecution that the majority of Americans would not be bothered by, would not consider political or a "witch hunt."  If you look at it that way, there's actually a bright side to this.  Well, that and people are reporting the very sensible notion that maybe the President needs to be someone who understands government and how it functions, not some "outsider" without a clue.  We used to elect generals and senators and governors, and then we leapt to former actors (longer than he was governor) and a failed oil man (also longer than he was governor), and finally a serial bankrupt boob. Sometimes hitting bottom just makes you look up.

But if you think the system is going to step in like Mommy and make everything right again and teach the bad guys a lesson they'll never forget....well, then you've been watching too many movies, and you need to grow up and face facts.  Criminal justice is more criminal than justice, the law more closely resembles the building in Kafka's parable than not, and the disincentive to commit crimes is not that the cops will put you in jail; that's just the risk you take.  Most of us just don't want to commit crimes in the first place; and rich people generally get away with it more than poor people, if only because they don't have to use a gun.

Welcome to the real world.

"And besides, executive privilege...."

(You know it's coming)

Playing to the Really Cheap Seats

Good luck with that.

So in a discussion between Alan Dershowitz and Solomon Wisenberg, it's a clown-show to see who can be the biggest clown.

First, Dershowitz mis-states what the Mueller report said:

 But there's no legal right to Mueller's testimony. There's no legal right to any of the Mueller Report. Indeed, even though I wrote the introduction to the Mueller Report, the Mueller Report never should have been written. There's no room under our Constitution for special counsels, special prosecutors, reports. Prosecutors have the right to say only one thing. We have concluded that there's no evidence sufficient to charge the president with Russian collusion or obstruction of justice, period. I'm taking no questions, I'm making no public report. I'm giving my findings to the attorney general. No prosecutor should ever go beyond that.

Barr's summary was more accurate. And there is, of course, a legal right to Mueller's testimony, and to the Mueller report:  it's the statute under which Mueller was appointed and operated.  Dershowitz sweeps that statute aside because it is inconvenient to his argument, and simply because he doesn't like it. Then he drags the red herring of Comey across the trail:

We all agreed with that when Comey went beyond that with Hillary Clinton. I don't understand the difference between the criticism of Comey for saying that Hillary Clinton engaged in extreme carelessness. Everybody criticized that. And then we want to know why Mueller didn't charge the president. It's the same thing. The whole enterprise of special counsel, special prosecutors is inconsistent with the Constitution. I hope we've seen the last of it.

His references to Comey are inapt: Comey was not a prosecutor, he was an investigator, the head of the FBI. The FBI doesn't try cases, it investigates and arrests persons for criminal violations of law. It works with the prosecution, but the prosecution decides whether or not to go to trial, and what to charge. Comey didn't "violate the Constitution," in Dershowitz' terms, he acted beyond the scope of his office and with prejudice against the subject of an investigation. Bad practice, but not a violation of the fundamental law of the land. And Mueller acted precisely to avoid what Comey did, something else Dershowitz prefers to ignore.

The argument this special counsel law is unconstitutional was tried in the courts and rejected. Again, Dershowitz uses an argument he couldn't even get into a law review, because it isn't supported by case law. He doesn't want little details like reality to get in his way.  He's a long way from making a defensible claim.

Wisenberg, however, likes where this is going:

SOLOMON WISENBERG, FORMER DEPUTY INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: First of all, they're completely different, those two roadmaps. Jaworski and the grand jury was very careful not to make any arguments whatsoever, not to draw any conclusions. They just said here's -- on March 17th, 1973, President Nixon had a conversation with these two people. Then they listed the tape recordings and the grand jury testimony that the House could look at. Totally different than the Mueller report, which made a number of legal and factual conclusions. That's number one.

But number two, more importantly for the people that still believe that firing James Comey could ever be criminal obstruction of justice, the Watergate roadmap, which was all about obstruction of justice, that's what the grand jury indicted people for, never in any way mentions the firing of Archie Cox as obstruction of justice.

DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely right.

WISENBERG: And I've looked at just about every book on Watergate. I don't believe Jaworski's people ever even thought about indicting anyone under an obstruction theory for firing Cox.

"Absolutely right?"  More like:  "Absolutely bullshit."  Jaworski and Mueller were working under very different rules. Mueller was appointed under a statute, and that statute said he had to make a report. Jaworski was simply carrying out an investigation as he saw fit.  He had no special counsel statute to guide him or comply with. He was appointed by the President and acted wholly at the permission of the President.  Mueller was appointed by the acting Attorney General under a statute passed by Congress for precisely this situation.  Trump could not directly fire Mueller.  Wisenberg may not like the current law, but his opinion doesn't make the law invalid.

And the Saturday Night Massacre may not have been a crime considered by the House, but again the Special Prosecutor at that time was an ad hoc arrangement working by the authority of the President. Since Watergate we have had statutory special prosecutors precisely to prevent another Saturday Night Massacre. These two lawyers know that, but it's inconvenient to their argument, so they hide it. But it invalidates their argument ab initio.

They wouldn't even get into a law review with this; which is a pretty damned low bar indeed. In a court of law, they'd be lucky not to be fined for wasting the court's time.  Their arguments aren't worth the paper they are printed on.

Very Stable Genius

And the Knave of Hearts?

He can't be serious.  And "the part that matters"?  What part is that?  The part where he re-interprets what he just said because when he uses a word, it means what he wants it to mean, neither more nor less?

Welcome to the Humpty-Dumpty presidency.

(I've kept the text of the original tweets; they were removed to correct the typo about the man second in line to the British Crown. On the other hand, he didn't even try to spell "Taoiseach.")

Twitter makes this too easy

"NO (such thing as) COLLUSION!" (Makes it easier, doesn't it?)
Part of me wants to say: "You're just now noticing?" OTOH, helluva distraction, huh?
"You say that like it's a bad thing."

Which, yeah, it is:
“There’s any number of crimes that could be violated here,” said Williams. “There’s campaign finance violations. And it’s ironic that we’re having this conversation, literally, Chris, the day Donald Trump Jr. testified before Congress that he didn’t know that he was receiving value potentially wrongly from a foreign actor, but clearly his father doesn’t help that case, does he?”

Williams continued to list offenses. “So there is all the campaign finance violations. Look, if you’re using computers, there’s wire fraud questions. If you know what you’re doing and interacting with a foreign government, you start getting into the realm of espionage and national security offenses and then computer hacking and other sort of computer offenses, too. So there are a lot of things that are implicated when you start talking about taking the aid of a foreign government in our federal election system. And the president’s just opening the door to that. Look, I’d like to say it’s shocking at this point.”

“Let’s use an instructive example from 2000, when the Gore campaign just got a package on its front doorstep of, not even foreign intelligence, but about the Bush campaign,” said Williams. “They immediately called the FBI because something seemed kind of fishy about it. That’s what you do and that’s when you’re behaving properly.”

"Behaving properly."  What a quaint idea.

But Twitter just keeps on giving:

And who among us hasn't?
Besides, what could go wrong, right? Or is this a date that will live in infamy?
Yeah, more'n likely.
But really, is it surprising?
No; no, it really isn't. Ain't that a shame? Well, not to a man who is shameless.

“This is nuts,” said Washington Post columnist Max Boot. “It’s an issue that Chris Wray needs to consider resigning over. The president is basically saying ‘I will disregard the FBI and commit illegal acts.’ That is extremely alarming behavior. And by the way, Don, can you imagine what Donald Trump would say?”

“The Attorney general also agrees with the FBI director,” Lemon cut in to say.
“Absolutely! This is the law,” replied Boot. “There is no doubt that this is the law, and this is the oath that the president takes which he is now violating. Can you imagine what Trump would say if Joe Biden came out and said ‘Hey, Iran, if you have information on Trump please share it with me.’ Do you think Trump would be saying ‘That’s okay,’ or would he be saying ‘That’s treason?’ ”
You know if this was a plot point in one if the "West Wing" wannabe shows about D.C. or the White House, it would be condemned as wildly fictional and to incredible for reality.

You know I'm right.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Sooper Legal Genius

This from a guy who thinks the Supreme Court would stop a House impeachment action.

It's not like this had ever happened!


Keep in mind the REALLY upsetting news that Kamala Harris might violate "norms" and prosecute Trump for crimes outlined in the Mueller Report.

Where're my smelling salts?  I feel the vapors comin' on!

What if they held a rally and nobody cared?

We'll soon find out.  (I mean, I've heard of Roger Stone....)

It's not interference if they have the information, right?

And it's not cooperation if they give it you, is it?  I mean, how can it be?

Because he's always right

No, I'm not kidding (with that title):

24 (on this list)

Not a definitive list:  doesn't include collard greens; hot Dr. Pepper (with lemon slices!); buttermilk pie (which is not chess pie); cheese grits (or just plain grits alone); ambrosia; jalapeño cornbread; maque choux; fried catfish; fried fish (including, but not limited to:  bass, bream, and crappie); crawdads (not to be confused with ecrevisse and/or crawfish/crayfish); sweet tea (no, not tea you add sugar to at the table); Coke or Dr. Pepper as a breakfast drink.

I could go on....

It's a SEEEE-CRETTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!

Sure.  Why not?

Yes, We Have No Bananas!

This is the problem. There is a world of difference between "but her e-mails!" and the Mueller report. But this is where the fight is going to be.

That's Trump's favorite cry, and it won't fail because Trump calls all his enemies thieves and criminals.  It will have to be rebutted, and the Mueller report is the best response. Vague and glittering allegations can only be defeated by specific charges supported by definitive evidence.

Once again, Donald Trump is disruptive and transgressive; or he just breaks norms. I don't want to see him removed from office; I want to see him in the criminal dock. (Whether he is locked up is another matter.) I think impeachment would impede that, but the "banana republic" charge (although dated; to my twenty-something daughter it means a clothing store) is not set aside lightly.

Consider the remarks of Kamala Harris:

“I believe that they would have no choice and that they should, yes,” she told the NPR Politics Podcast. “There has to be accountability. I mean look, people might, you know, question why I became a prosecutor. Well, I’ll tell you one of the reasons — I believe there should be accountability. Everyone should be held accountable, and the president is not above the law.”

“I do believe that we should believe Bob Mueller when he tells us essentially that the only reason an indictment was not returned is because of a memo in the Department of Justice that suggests you cannot indict a sitting president,” Harris added. “But I’ve seen prosecution of cases on much less evidence.”

At TPM that is turned into the headline that her DOJ would simply not be given a choice. When she says it, she means they would follow the law. The headline says she would find her own Bill Barr. That's not what she meant, but that's what she seems to have said. This us how careful the discussion has to be. After all, the best response to Trump's banana republic is not "our" banana republic. The distinction between justice and vengeance is a fine one, and to do justice, we have to be aware of that.

It's not that the fight can't be fought, but that it will be the first fight.  It's still more winnable than an impeachment trial in the Senate (lose that, and the "banana republic"charge is much harder to rebut.  The reporter interviewing Harris for NPR asked her to imagine a scenario where Trump is not impeached.  Did he mean removed from office?  Or simply charged with crimes the Senate does not find grounds for removal?  Would a criminal trial after that be seen as double jeopardy, even when it isn't?  That impeachment question is much trickier than some imagine it to be.)  This is not a place the country should have to go; but it needs to go there.

After all, fools rush in where angels fear to tread:

Or is it:  "Where angels go, trouble follows"?  I always get those two confused....

Yes, it is

...and it is wildly incompetent, too.  Trump's lawyers continue to pound the table because they have nothing else.

But, notably, this kind of argument undermines the image of the "3-dimensional chess Trump who won't leave office he'll defy the courts, too," nonsense. Trump is not going to win in court because he's President and you're not. He didn't at the trial level, and he won't at the Supreme Court level (unless Roberts wants to throw all the legitimacy of his Court out the window.  And for what?)  He's not going to get any support from the rest of the government to go completely extra-governmental. That's what this legal argument is (whether Trump understands it or not): an appeal to the courts to make Trump king.

Good luck with that.

In case you thought I was making things up

Yeah, it's a distraction, but this is his idea of getting our attention. How's that working out for him?

"Nothing to see here"

(b) "Mueller exonerated me." (c) "But her e-mails!" (d) "I have the secret agreement in my pocket." (e) "My speeches are the best ever!" (f) "My poll numbers are the best ever!" (g) "Nervous Nancy! Cryin' Chuck!" (h) "Obama did it/didn't do it!" (i) (total silence on the census)

News You Can Use

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

In other words...

Nothing we didn't know before. Except that Mexico can't solve this problem "tomorrow."


Double Double Super Super Secret Proposal

Yeah, well, Mexico would say that, wouldn't they?  (They're part of the Deep State, after all!  Conspirators are everywhere!)

"Trust me!  Have I ever lied to you?"

(It's a list of Communists in the federal government!)*

*Ask your grandpa!  Punks!

Monday, June 10, 2019

I think this was right after...

...Dean pointed out to Gaetz that Gaetz wasn't alive for Watergate. As if this exchange doesn't prove that.

The old man in me loved the reminder that Gary's was too young for the room. The young kid in me who still remembers the Watergate hearings and that Nixon had a universal health plan. A guaranteed income plan, too. "Conservative" didn't mean what it does today.

Snot-nosed punks!

Freedom of Speech for me, but not for thee

Ironic, no?

That Double Super Secret Proposal is so secret....

Even Mexico doesn't know about it!
And to reiterate:  we were told Mexico could "solve the Border crisis in one day."  45 and 90 days is not "one day."  It is, however, realistic as far as attempting to solve a problem.  Which is all this is.  Were it truly a crisis, 45 and 90 day reviews would be far too leisurely.

"Not my people" is an ill-defined concept

News o' the Day

Why are foreigners always the first to figure these things out? And is it propaganda, if it's true?
I was sure we'd settled that! Certainly Trump thinks so:
And of course, on that phone call, he was perfectly Presidential:
Because the world divides between Trump and not-Trump.

And to go back to where we started:
Yeah, sure.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

So, let's review

I've no idea what he's talking about. Fox News, Breitbart, OANN? Who knows? Probably the voices in his head, assuring him he's still a good boy. Following that Tweet, he posted 13 from other people talking about how awesome Donald Trump is. So let's step back to where this current controversy started.
That statement did not say this:
But that's not true, either.
The upshot there is, Mexico is a major trading partner, and that has not changed. Which is actually a more important statement than Trump's tweets. And it gets better:
Remember when talk was cheap?
And the number of immigrants is not going down anytime soon:
Those 133,000 are not going to stop tomorrow, which the President said could happen if Mexico was just forced to do it. In the movies, maybe, but not in reality.  And this doesn't budge Congress on immigration. And still nothing Trump has said is true; and nothing he has said has changed the narrative on what REALLY happened.


This tweet was posted on May 31, the day after Trump announced the tariffs on Mexico that he didn't impose on June 7th.  

Trump retweeted it today.  And the question is:  why?

Oh, and:

No, it's not.  Even on licensed fora, like TV stations, try exercising your freedom of speech by speaking like you did to Access Hollywood.  Or just going on the local news to declaim racist and xenophobic ideas.  "Freedom of speech" only applies to the government.  Here's a hint:  "Congress shall make no law....abridging the freedom of speech...."

Twitter is not Congress; although you treat them roughly the same way.


The Toddler wants to be sure you know he still has the shotgun.  And it's loaded.

Double Super Secret Protocols! With Secret Sauce! (and a free Trump Steaks subscription for the first 500 callers!)

"Trust us!  Have we ever lied to you?"

Oh, by the way, Mexico says "Hi!  Remember us?"

Besides, we've seen this before:

Holiday for Losers?

So, let's see:

A) Jobs report is 75,000 jobs were added in the last reporting period. But the previous report had to be adjusted downward by: 75, 000 jobs. Do the net change in jobs stands at: 0.

Let's declare a national holiday for that.

B)  The Border? Well, apart from the record number of people dying in U.S. custody, the child separation shit-show that has left only the headlines but not the immigration system (how many families will never be reunited? We may never know.), there's the farce of the latest deal. An absolute joke Trump drummed up to satisfy FoxNews.  Even the idea of Mexico holding asylum applicants south of our border may fail in the courts. And there is no agriculture deal because the government of Mexico has no mechanism for making such a deal, no way as a government to purchase American crops. Trump's tweets are lies.

What Trump won't accept is responsibility for what he has done.  And you don't get a national holiday for that.