"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

Sunday, January 26, 2020

So, let's be clear

What the Senator said, per TPM:

“It’s the Democratic talking point that the President and his lawyers have argued that it was Ukraine who interfered in our elections, not Russia,” Cotton said. “You can read the President’s brief. They make it very clear that, yes, you can accept that Russia interfered in a systematic, organized top-down fashion in our election.”

While mentioning that he’s been “part of the Intelligence Committee that’s been investigating it for years,” Cotton added that “you can also say that it’s clear some Ukrainian officials tried to influence the outcome of the election in 2016” and that “both of those things can be true.”
The facts, plain and simple:

While Russia has worked diligently to make Ukraine the target, Trump has eagerly consumed and regurgitated the conspiracy theory as a way to accuse former challenger Hillary Clinton of causing all of it. Trump accused cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike of taking the Democratic Party server to Ukraine, a false claim given the server was a cloud-based server, not a physical one. Once it became clear that former Vice President Joe Biden would be one of Trump’s potential opponents, the president shifted the conspiracy theory to Biden and his last surviving son, Hunter. Trump claimed that the two were part of a corrupt deal in Ukraine in 2015, while Biden’s eldest son was dying of brain cancer.

“What we found is the president, yet again, seems to be echoing Russian disinformation when he says Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, and the DNC was hacked not by Russia but Ukraine, that debunked conspiracy theory, that that the server, the DNC server, was in Ukraine and being protected by forces there,” Politico reporter Natasha Bertrand said on MSNBC. 

“Anything he associated with the intel community, he rejected pretty much out of hand because his sense was that the ‘Deep State’ had decided in some star chamber or secret meeting that they would feed intelligence to him that would cause him to make mistakes, and disprove a lot of his theories about what happened in the election,” the person told Politico.

Bertrand hunted down the conspiracy, only to find that the Russians were the ones floating the conspiracy as early as 2015, long before it was even known the DNC server was hacked. On July 22, 2016, a person or group called “Guccifer 2.0” claimed on a blog to have been responsible for hacking the DNC server. Guccifer 2.0 then admitted he was a Russian Intelligence Officer.

“They threw everything they could against the wall and settled on this idea that [Clinton] was receiving help from oligarchs [in Ukraine] in terms of her election campaign,” Bertrand continued. “The Kremlin floated this, saying because this information against Paul Manafort was released, forcing him to resign from the campaign, that was evidence of some kind of Ukrainian operation to hurt Trump’s campaign. But of course, there’s no evidence that there was any kind of top-down interference campaign like the Russians waged.”
This is so widely known and acknowledged you might as well be saying "And the sun rose in the east this morning."  Except Sen. Cotton says that's a Democratic talking point, and it could simultaneously be true that the sun rose in the west at the same moment.  Because it's on a physical server held in Ukraine, who has shipped it to China for safekeeping.  China, where Hunter Biden did some business.  Coincidence?  Sen. Cotton thinks not.

Note that:  Sen. Cotton thinks not.  That, too, seems to be beyond argument.

That's some catch, that Catch-22

It's the best there is.

Well, you know

The House should be spending this year in court trying to get that information, because the Senate can't afford to wait for the courts to decline to review a subpoena issued in an impeachment (as impeachments are not subject to judicial review or even oversight).  Just to be clear, this is what Ms. Haberman wrote in the NYTimes:

“The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office."
Now, the Senate could still hear from Bolton, and still say it's not worth removing the President over; but why mess up a good thing?  IOW, Bolton's chances of ever testifying before the Senate just dropped below zero.  His chances of being asked to speak to the House, however?

Besides, there was corruption!
Oh, wait! The corruption was between Trump's incompetence and Giuliani's venality! Whew! Could think we kept that off the TV cameras!
Absolute immunity is an even better dodge than executive privilege!
But that would be corruption! Which is what Trump wanted to investigate, maybe! See? He found it!
But is it "crime-like"? Because that's the new standard! And only Alan Dershowitz knows what it means!

More Fun With Numbers!

Who Knew?

I thought I was being sarcastic.

"It was a pun!"

Owner: No, no...not a pun...What's that thing that spells the same backwards as forwards?

Mr. Praline: (Long pause) A palindrome...?

 Owner: Yeah, that's it!

Mr. Praline: It's not a palindrome! The palindrome of "Bolton" would be "Notlob"!! It don't work!!
It doesn't work as a metaphor, either.

I think he's actually on to something here. Just not what he thinks he's on to.

Attendant: Can't blame British Rail for that.

Just Hammering the Point Home

Projecting like a multiplex.

 “There should be no doubt at this point that this is a president who is capable of shaking down a foreign leader for his own personal gain,” Wu told the host. “Apparently, the only people who are unable or unwilling to see this are the Senate Republicans. When this is pointed out, the threats against them are pointed out, they feign outrage.”

“If this were a normal court case, Donald Trump would be dragged before a federal judge right now to explain why his threat against a prosecutor is not a felony,” he continued. “We know the dangers of this. We have seen in October of 2018 how a deranged supporter sent out bombs to Clinton and Obama — these are not just words.”
This is not a trial, and there is no judge to appeal to.  John Roberts sits as Presiding Officer of the Senate trial, not as Chief Justice of the United States.  The Senate chamber is not a courtroom; the Senators are neither judges nor a jury.
I think they should, because the President is saying the quiet parts out loud.  Senators are not listening; the American people should.

Civics Lessons

Sure you are.

Lesson No. 1: impeachment in the Senate is not a "trial." There are no rules of procedure or evidence consonant with those recognized in judicial courts. And unlike a trial court where a jury is selected or jurors removed for bias or having pre-judged the case, no Senator can be removed from the "panel" hearing arguments (and so far refusing any evidence, contrary to all due process) in the case. The Senators are not "jurors." This is not a "trial."

The Trump defense is based entirely on ad hominem. He doesn't deny what he did, he attacks the people who point out what he did, and how criminal it was; what an abuse of power it was. His answer is: "So what? You're ugly and your mother dresses you funny!"

Lesson No. 2:  Trump has no defense.  That won't matter in the Senate chamber.  It should matter to the voters in November.


There is also:
Judge not, that ye be not judged.

[2] For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

[3] And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

[4] Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

[5] Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.


So when they continued asking Him, He lifted Himself up and said unto them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

That's the thing about scripture; there's always another one to remind you what Scripture really says about the subject.

I know I shouldn't be sensible about this, but....

Does Trump go into the crowd and meet all those people at the rallies? Does he go outside the White House gates and meet people on the street? Does he crash the White House tours? How does a POTUS, the most heavily guarded and scheduled man on the planet, meet "[a] 1000 people a day"? How does he do that? Bill Clinton didn't do that, and he loved crowds. Trump just loves cheering faces. How stupid are we supposed to be these days?

I'm Old Enough to Remember When Obama used brown mustard....

...and later wore a tan suit.

Besides, is a death threat...

...really an impeachable offense? I mean, is it a crime? Or even "crime-like"? Alan Dershowitz thinks we need to research the question further before jumping to conclusions. Besides, no one is paying attention to Adam Schiff, or the economy, and that's the problem:


Way to address the substance of the charges against you? I guess?

Makes You Proud, Doesn't It?

He is, you know.

I Blame The Internet

Just Another Sunday Morning

And what is Sunday morning without a reading from scripture?
(Honestly, these people. This is why I don't like citing scripture outside of a religious community. It's a blasphemy to use it this way.)

In Brief

No newspaper benefited more from the demise of small, narrowly targeted newspapers serving ethnic communities as well as ideological communities. And now, over 100 years after they were pressed to the fringes and declared undesirable, they are back.

Which is not to say they are good, but neither are they per se bad. Some ideas are on the fringe for a reason. But some voices are forced to the fringe because of power; and power is also an ideology. Power is the most dangerous virus. The only vaccine for it is the constant, voluntary, and deliberate rejection of power. Because power corrupts, the only real vaccine against it is powerlessness.

Who Is Surprised At This Point?

Saturday, January 25, 2020

It's Not The Decision's the decision-making. Although it's also the Administration:
Or just associated with it:

What Happened This Morning (A Tale Told In Tweets)

"Now, the first point that I would like to make is that the president's counsel did something that they did not intend: They made a really compelling case for why the Senate should call witnesses and documents," said Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.

"They kept saying there are no eyewitness accounts, but there are people who have eyewitness accounts, the very four witnesses and the very four sets of documents that we have asked for," he said. "But there are people who do know. Mick Mulvaney knows. In all likelihood, Mr. [Robert] Blair, [an aide to Mulvaney], knows. Mr. Bolton may know. 'Why shouldn't we have witnesses and documents here?' I thought."
And commentary:

No One In This Administration worthy of public office.
Pompeo has never denied he said what he reportedly said. Now he attacks the reporter, knowing it's "he said/she said."

The man is barely worthy to be among people.

Eye of the Beholder

Jeffrey Toobin says Jay Sekulow isn't really such a bad guy:

“I was surprised that Jay Sekulow, who I think is a very fine lawyer, seen him argue in the Supreme Court several times, wandered in the wasteland of the Mueller report, that didn’t seem relevant,” said Toobin.

Yeah, fine lawyer, that Sekulow:

[In 2009, Sekulow] approved plans to push poor and jobless people to donate money to his Christian nonprofit, which since 2000 has steered more than $60m to Sekulow, his family and their businesses.

Telemarketers for the nonprofit, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (Case), were instructed in contracts signed by Sekulow to urge people who pleaded poverty or said they were out of work to dig deep for a “sacrificial gift”.

“I can certainly understand how that would make it difficult for you to share a gift like that right now,” they told retirees who said they were on fixed incomes and had “no extra money” – before asking if they could spare “even $20 within the next three weeks”.

In addition to using tens of millions of dollars in donations to pay Sekulow, his wife, his sons, his brother, his sister-in-law, his niece and nephew and their firms, Case has also been used to provide a series of unusual loans and property deals to the Sekulow family.

Really, really fine lawyer:
Admittedly I didn't watch arguments this morning (I was washing my hair), but Mr. Toobin and I have very different ideas of what a "fine lawyer" is; and generally, you are judged by the last appearance you made in public as a lawyer:
I dunno, but that seems like a more accurate summation.  And in point of fact, Trump's lawyers are arguing the Constitution is unconstitutional, and cannot be used against Trump. No, seriously:

Got that? Konstitooshinal skollar Alan Dershowitz says using the Constitution violates the Constitution; at least where Presidential elections are concerned.  And it's worth noting, as an evidentiary matter (not that rules of evidence matter here in the least):
I'm quite sure, in fact, Mr. Pierce is right, and none of this matters. The fix is clearly in. But think of the campaign ads this is gonna make for the Democrats in September and October.
Besides, if battle lines are already drawn and sides already chosen, the polls show almost 50% favor removal, and 70% favor witnesses in the trial. Is that going to change by November? You can do a lot with that question. Especially if Bolton ever publishes his book, and if his books tells anything closely resembling the truth.

Same As It Ever Was

No, we all get that. The problem is, you can't live with 'em, and you can't shoot 'em!

News is Gossip

Well, of course he did.
After that, somebody had to tell teacher.
The world is like high school, and you're still not sitting at the cool table.

What We Have Come To


It's the obvious answer.

Someone Pass A Note To Teacher

Friday, January 24, 2020

"But Now I'm An Orphan!"

How many GOP Senators voted against admitting any evidence in this "trial"?

And it's only a falsehood when a Democrat says it:
Lisa Murkowski was fine until Rep. Schiff cited CBS News:
The U.S. Senate must have a HUGE fainting couch in the cloakroom.

If the House Managers...

...had only talked about Obama more, or
shown that anything Trump did was wrong, or...
had talked less and been more convincing.

Of course anything Trump's lawyers say will match the perorations of Solon and be as if the skies had opened and the voice of God spoke.

Would coulda shoulda. If only the fix wasn't in.


I've spent the day listening to arguments from House managers and testimony from House hearings about the importance of supporting Ukraine as a fledgling democracy against the predation of Russia. Is this really the way a U.S. Secretary of State should talk? Ukraine doesn't matter because some Americans can't find it on a map? Or is it because it has blown up in the Administration's collective face? Is it because Ukraine has exposed Trump for the incompetent fraud he is? Whatever the explanation is, the exposure of corruption and incompetence goes on.

Garcia-Navarro puts it too mildly.
Yup. At least Kissinger never cracked like this.

Who Do They Think They're Foolin'?


Where'd everybody go?

Is their defense going to be:
Or "Obama did it, so blame Obama!"?
Or attacks on Adam Schiff, which is wholly irrelevant to the issues before the Senate:
Or "Chuck Schumer is a politician!"
Or will they complain they are in "Death Valley"?
I know Dershowitz is going to argue the President is above the law because without a crime proven (an alleged crime is just an allegation) you can't impeach the President, and you can't prove a crime against a President because you can't indict a President. And no prep?  Is he gonna do a Guiliani on Fox? As I said earlier: his presentation is  a fart in a hurricane.  It's indefensible legally, and incomprehensible legally.  He'll have people turning off the t.v.

What knife does Ken Starr bring to this gunfight?  Or the more salient question:  is Ken Starr willing to lie to the Chief Justice and the Senate the way Cipollone and Sekulow already have?

Inquiring minds want to know!

You Don't Have McConnell's Number?

Because it's his rules they're following. And is this the best you got?
Pretty weenie!

Riding The Tiger

...v. being in the tiger.

And talk about an abuse of power.

So how do you like your blue-eyes boy, Sen. McConnell?

I Don't Think I Have to go to Switzerland learn that.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Good Luck In November

Because the people feel this way.
And because this will make a fine ad to run against anyone who voted to acquit Donald Trump a.s.a.p.

Lindsay Graham says this trial is "very emotional" for the President

As Mike Bloomberg asked:
It's not like Trump doesn't have better things to do. Like learn who he's talking to:
Or even remember what he just said:
(And how the hell is this an argument in favor of Trump's behavior?)

The GOP Sez The House Should Have Gone To Court

Oh, wait; now the Senate can't do that because it would take too long. However, the Senate has an advantage the House didn't:
I really don't see a District court overruling the opinion of a Chief Justice and the Senate when impeachment itself is not subject to judicial review. That means all actions during the impeachment trial are, similarly, not subject to judicial review. (I'm assuming that's the argument of the Conway article.)  Besides:
Yeah, I'm pretty sure I've made this argument before.
"Executive privilege" is not the "absolute immunity" the White House has used to "just say no" to Congressional subpoenas. Like the 5th amendment, you have to show up and testify, and then invoke the privilege for every question asked. And since this isn't a self-incrimination issue, the privilege only works if the information has always been protected. Since it hasn't, you can't protect it now.

Of course, what the Senate GOP doesn't want at all is ANY testimony from witnesses, for obvious reasons:
It's all about the acquittal; at all costs.

I want it to cost the GOP not less than everything.


I mean, like, totally.

Now wait a minute....

I'm old enough to remember when Trump said this:
And I have another question:
If they are that "radical," as well as being Democrats, and you've been in office for 3 years, and this is by God Florida!, then why aren't you further ahead of any of them (including Bloomberg, who's only been spending money and campaigning for a month or less) than by single digits? I mean, these are mostly margin-of-error numbers.

Or am I asking about the sartorial decisions of a naked emperor?

The Jury Washes Its Hands

A) I have yet to hear any defense of Joe Biden.

B) Biden is not "indefensible" because he needs no defense. This is beyond cavil, but the GOP is beyond the reach of reason.

C) Fighting for documents is more of that "damned if they do/damned if they don't" argument. It's just a way of avoiding responsibility for Trump's corruption and abuse of power. "You can't prove it so we aren't responsible!" That's a terrible abdication and the worst kind of reliance on the "technicalities" that Scott no doubt condemns in criminal defendants.

And is this why Biden is indefensible?
Again: a) these are only opening arguments, and b) you all voted 8 times (or was it 10?) to refuse to allow evidence. So...what were you complaining about again?

The bottom line here is this is the real argument of the GOP, and it is the one they will cower behind as they slink off into history in ignominy:

“The other guy. I’m sorry, Jay Sekulow, started off by saying, ‘he never did anything wrong’ and he didn’t say, ‘he didn’t do this.’ That’s an amazing thing to be missed. He didn’t say, ‘he didn’t do this. He didn’t cut this deal to screw [Volodymyr] Zelensky. He didn’t do this.'”

Wiley held up the White House brief noting that Trump’s team made exactly the point that the House Democrats are making to the Senate.

“Either you have to stipulate to the facts, which are that he did it,” said Wiley. “And this brief really is saying he did it. I mean, if you read it in plain language, ‘he did it. He just shouldn’t be impeached for it.’ I think the only argument to make in the absence of evidence to do what you’re saying, Chris, which is to say, ‘he is a good guy, he wouldn’t do what you’re accusing him of.'”
Which is entirely in keeping with the "technicality defense" Scott alludes to here:  you can't prove it, and besides, it was fine that he did it.  Fine not because Trump did a good thing, but "fine" because it's not grounds for impeachment because...well, the articles of impeachment don't say "quid pro quo."
And no, it doesn't work like that. This is not a matter in which "magic words" must be used in order to invoke the Spirit of Justice. But now we know why Jay Sekulow is the President's lawyer, instead of a real, and competent, defense lawyer. And we can put to rest the whole "sounds like Trump wrote that." It's not Trump; it is his lawyers themselves.

Or the GOP in general; it's impossible to slip a piece of paper between them these days.

Because This Sounds Just Like the Trump Defense in the Senate

And oh, by the way:

Lindsay Graham is a Democrat?

And Rand Paul, too?
Graham made it clear again today he doesn't want to hear from witnesses, period.

The incoherence is hard to keep up with.  Especially on this issue:

Lindsay Graham Seeks a Fainting Couch

He has a fit of the vapors, ah do declah!

“I love Joe Biden but I can tell you if the name was Trump, there would be a lot of questions asked,” Graham said moments before House managers were expected to argue for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. “I want the public to understand, the claim Democrats are making — there’s no there there.”

Why should we understand what you say when we can just listen to the arguments ourselves, and make up our own minds?  Or is that what you're afraid of?

According to Graham, if Trump “thought he was doing something wrong, he would probably shut up about it.”

If Trump were capable of that kind of fundamental insight we wouldn't be here today, would we?

“The president believes that the Ukraine interfered in out election,” Graham continued. “I can tell you without any doubt it was the Russians who hacked into the DNC. It was not the Ukrainians. I cannot say that there was nobody in the Ukraine that had worked with [Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort] that did a number on him. I don’t know.”

Does he also believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus?  Just because he believes something, doesn't make it so.  But if he scrambles jets to see what NORAD is supposedly tracking on Christmas Eve, then we have a problem with his 'beliefs'.

“All I can tell you is from the president’s point of view, he did nothing wrong in his mind,” the South Carolina Republican insisted.

You don't really think that's any kind of defense, do you, except maybe the Rule in M'Naghten's case? (The earliest form of insanity defense to a murder charge.  M'Nagthen was found to be insane and firmly believe, "in his mind" as the Senator put it, that he had to kill the victim or die himself.  It saved him from the death penalty, but not from being put away for the safety of society and himself.)

When it came to calling Joe and Hunter Biden as witnesses, Graham said that he preferred to “end this thing sooner rather than later.”

“I want the American people to pick the next president, not me,” he added. “And so I think the best thing to happen is to have oversight of Ukrainian potential misconduct and move on to the election. I am not going to use my vote to extend the trial.”

"I'm a U.S. Senator!  You can't make me responsible for things, too!"

“The country needs a break from this,” Graham said. “If you think there’s a whistleblower problem, we can deal with that outside impeachment.”

Uh, the whistleblower problem seems to be that the President doesn't like 'em because they report on his abuses of power as President.  How do we deal with that outside of impeachment?

Child Murders His Parents

Asks for mercy from the court because he's an orphan.

Is sure it will work because it plays well on FoxNews.

The Breath, It Is Not Being Held

I remember when Nixon resigned and then Ford sealed his electoral death warrant by pardoning Nixon almost before Marine One had left the White House grounds.  Predictions then were that the GOP had burned itself to the ground and sown the ground with salt and would never rise from the ashes again to plague the country the more.

And Jimmy Carter was elected and four years later we had 8 years of Ronald Reagan and 4 years of Poppy before Clinton beat him by being the superior politician (much like Barack Obama 8 years after Clinton).  But Clinton and Obama were sui generis and left their would-be successors so deeply in their shadow (or in the shadow of their husband, the reason we had 8 years of W in the first place).  I mean, honestly, following Bill Clinton with Al Gore?  Barack Obama with Hillary Clinton?  Who ever thought that was a good idea?  Two of the slickest politicians in modern American history followed by two of the dullest and stiffest since Adlai Stevenson?

A part of the reason why Donald Trump is being impeached but Mitch McConnell is in charge of the Senate right now (barely in charge, but close enough is good enough), and we're hearing it all again.

I'm not gonna live to see it this time, either; and by rights and family history I should be around for at least another quarter-century.