Sunday, March 31, 2019

What Bugs Me About These Conversations

First, Matt Taibbi via Andrew O'Hehir:

If you saw what happened in 2016, the political situation was that the ruling neoliberal consensus was under fire from all sides, from radical right movements both in the United States and in Europe; from leftist movements, both in the United States and Europe. The overwhelming voter sentiment everywhere had to do with the rejection of the international global consensus. You saw votes like Brexit, a complete repudiation of a number of things. But Russiagate as a political solution, as a response to that electoral phenomenon, has been extraordinarily effective. Because what it’s done is it’s completely changed the attitude of a huge portion of the population, which now sees the international security services, the global consensus, as the only saviors who are going to rescue them from the evil Trump. And therefore, we have to pursue this case and celebrate authoritarianism and celebrate the FBI and CIA and their heroism, and the European Union and NATO. This story has had some benefit from a propaganda perspective as well.
I don't disagree with the last sentence, and I do agree it's been politics making strange bedfellows (though nobody wants to make so mundane an argument) to see "liberals" relying on the veracity of the FBI and former directors of the CIA; but such is life.  What bugs me is the highlighted sentence, in the context O'Hehir provides:

The American public at large is only moderately interested in the Russia scandal: No matter what Republicans may wish to claim right now, it played little role in the Democrats’ midterm victory of 2018, and was never likely to be a major factor in the 2020 presidential campaign. But for a specific quadrant of educated, metropolitan liberals — those people most likely to watch Maddow’s show, listen to NPR and read the Times (and Salon) — it has been the focus of almost addictive fascination.

Again, I agree with the last sentence (more or less; more as metaphor, less as literal description), but I also agree with the first sentence:  literally.  Which is what this observation is about:

So maybe Mueller doesn't meant that much, after all.  Given Trump's approval ratings (which haven't really moved since he took office), that's not such a bad thing.  Now, the other thing O'Hehir does almost in passing is to drop the idea like a land mine (to explode later!) that interest in the Mueller investigation is primarily interest in undoing the 2016 election (not coincidentally, that's what Mulvaney said to Jake Tapper on CNN today!).  No doubt there are some, whom I would compare to Bernie Bros. who still think Clinton stole the nomination from him, who think Trump is equally illegitimate.  I don't think so and have never thought so.  I never looked to Mueller to undo that election (it's not only a legal impossibility, it's a nullity now anyway, so close to 2020).  Maybe a fringe of a fringe have done so, but to intimate that's the majority opinion of those paying attention and opposed to Trump is just...well, it's underhanded analysis.  Kind of like claiming on the one hand most Americans aren't paying attention to Mueller's actions (certainly not with the obsession of yours truly and others of like mind), but on the other hand a "huge portion of the population...sees the international security the only saviors who are going to rescue them from the evil Trump."  O'Hehir tries to evince some even-handed sympathy for Taibbi and Glen Greenwald, his ideological brother in arms, claiming both are taking an unpopular stance.  Or it could be their reasoning is so slip-shod and shotgun (spray words and see it they hit anything!) they inspire response in kind.  Simply put, neither Greenwald nor Taibbi seem much worth the effort it takes to shout down the megaphones they undoubtedly have (though I must admit I don't hear them, which may indicate just how small their audiences actually are).

This is the way these "discussions" usually go, though.  A sprinkle of bombast ("some people say"), a major helping of contradiction, and a lot of throwing of sand in the air because that makes you look like you're considering "all sides" and "all of the facts."  And somehow this passes for reasonable, even rational, argument.

When it's just flapdoodle.

If you're going to quote someone with the idea that they may have a reasonable position, you can't contradict that position with other facts, and call the whole thing a careful consideration of the facts.  And O'Hehir does agree with Taibbi, for the most part.  Immediately after that long quote, he says:

I’ve made a related case that the liberal fantasy of seeing Trump impeached, convicted and dragged from the White House in irons reflected a childlike desire to make the 2016 election un-happen, and to return to the supposedly normal politics of America under Barack Obama (which were not normal at all). 

Which, as I say, may be a liberal fantasy of a handful of dead-enders and ideological fanatics, but no one who is sensible is denying we have our Trump-like fanatics on the "left," too.  There are probably some liberals who still think Stalin was too soft in imposing communism, too; but they speak only for themselves.  Setting up such a "liberal fantasy" in the first place is just erecting a straw man; relying on it for further argument is not the sign of a well thought discussion.  Although actually, in American politics, it's perfectly normal.  John Adams called Thomas Jefferson an hermaphrodite.  The recently sainted-in-death GHWBush relied on Willie Horton to defeat Michael Dukakis.  LBJ was a street fighter of a campaigner; the story goes he told an aide to spread a rumor about a political candidate.  The aide protested the story was untrue.  "I know it's not true!," LBJ reportedly replied.  "I wanna see him deny it!"  That's a man who could teach Trump a few things about political knife-fights.  Nixon could, too.  And don't get me started on Bobby Kennedy.

It works in politics (sometimes).  It's crap as rational discussion (which seldom works in public any of the time; but still we beat on, boats against the tide.)

The worst part of this is O'Hehir throwing his hands in the air and pretending he's now a font of wisdom, because "things are complicated!  Who knows?!":

But the really important part, I believe, is not to keep a scorecard of who’s right and who’s wrong, but to recognize that nobody is 100 percent right about any of this. In the famous words of screenwriter William Goldman, nobody knows anything. The tapestry of historical fragments and patterns that brought us here, to 2019 and President Donald Trump and what I perceive as a global crisis of democratic legitimacy, has so many seen and unseen threads that scholars of the future — assuming there will be a future, not to mention with scholars in it — will not quite be sure what happened a hundred years from now.

Yeah; the sum of his problem solution argument is to say that nobody's got a solution, and a hundred years from now we'll all be dead anyway!  Behold the first sentences of the two paragraphs following the quoted one just above:

There has never been any public evidence to suggest a coordinated criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and the Russians in 2016.
On the other hand, it was certainly conceivable that Mueller would go deeper into Trump’s long and murky history of corrupt or dubious business practices than he evidently did, and might uncover damning evidence about the president’s relationships with Russian oligarchs and criminals, who are unquestionably allied with the Putin regime. 
Without public evidence we don't know nothin', and we can't do nothin'.  Not only do both paragraphs  drop the SDNY investigations down the memory hole (investigations SNL managed to mention three times in the cold open last night!), the second paragraph turns both paragraphs inside out in just two sentences:

Those things — explored over the years, for instance, by investigative reporter David Cay Johnston — long predate the 2016 campaign and may relate to it only distantly or indirectly, or perhaps not at all.

It's conceivable, but we have no public evidence, save for the evidence provided by Mr. Johnson of many years standing, but somehow the latter does not constitute "public evidence," because we already know there isn't any.  Which is it?  Who knows?  It's too complicated, and in 100 years, scholars still won't know!

These things that pass for knowledge I don't understand.  Nor do I understand why people think this is sound argument; or even an argument at all.  It reads like simple-minded surrender, to me.  Or somebody just getting paid to fill out pixels.  Because this is how he ends it:

Where does that leave us? Still in the dark, I’m afraid: Consumed by questions and confronting a report we haven’t read that probably won’t answer them. Did Rachel Maddow and her ilk go way too far in ginning up a seductive conspiracy theory that played into the hopeful, narcissistic yearnings of too many liberals? Yes. Have the skeptics declared premature vindication and issued an overly sweeping indictment of the media, when we still don’t know enough about Donald Trump’s evident corruption and his numerous connections to sleazy characters around the world, Russian and otherwise? Yes. Are we any closer to a clear idea of how to defeat Trump and what he represents, and how to begin reclaiming democracy? I almost don’t want to answer that. I don’t know.

No shit, Sherlock.  Until that final sentence, I never would have guessed.

(and also, via Salon, we get this:

A month and a half ago I warned in this space that the corporate news media’s obsession with nailing Trump for a conspiracy with Russia was setting themselves and the rest of the country up for his re-election. ​
Why is it the media's fault, you ask?  Funny you should ask that:

They were so heavily invested in getting Trump because they had not seen him coming in the first place. Their multi-million dollar polling and pre-election programing had missed the pulse of the nation. His victory had to have been the result of a massive criminal conspiracy​,​ not the consequence of their elitist blind spot for the collapse of the middle class and the abject failure of capitalism.
Remember what I was saying about Stalin?

Don't get me started....)

This explains so much...

Some Of the Time

...but not all the people all the time.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Racing To The Bottom

Trump, then the GOP, then maybe "the country." And this on the day Beto holds rallies in El Paso, Houston (opposite sides of the state; literally) and Austin (middle of the state). So  Trump affirms he's serious about damaging the state's economy:
Which is a problem in more than one way:
He really is the dumbest man to ever hold the office.

Finally, something he's good at

I don't usually recommend NYPost, but if you want the full measure of the man, read the article.

I'm not a devotee of golf, but it doesn't take a Wodehouse to know a man who cheats at golf is not fit for civilized company.

Been There....

It's across the river from St. Louis, in southern Illinois. An ancient mound city built on plains just beyond the reach of the river. Surrounded by a massive timber stockade. All built with just human labor, abandoned (IIRC) before Colombus. The largest mounds (big enough to farm and live on) persist. Of course, You can probably read about it at the link. There is far more to American history than the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln. If nothing else, you can learn to attribute humanity to people whose existence your culture ignored.

Funny to come across it in a Twitter feed.

Whose Side Are You On?

How many Wii vote for, v. vote against?

"We are was gods...."

Vox explains just what's going wrong with the Boeing 737 Max.  The long version is mendacity, greed, and the intractable problems of engineering v. desire.  The shorter version:  computers are mystery boxes with magic inside ("software") that will solve all our problems if we just let it.  At least, that's the attitude that won out; and so here we are.

Pop sci is still full of metaphors for humans and computers (mostly software, now), and how understanding that solves all our problems (or at least divides what can be "solved" from what doesn't need to be solved, because it can't be analogized to software).

There are, yes, a number of problems with Boeing's design of the 737, but ironically it returns to an undue faith in technology, the same faith Wendell Berry critiqued after 9/11.  Then the faith was in engineering to solve all our ills (what is modern flight but a triumph of engineering?).  Now we "bypass" engineering by invoking the magic of software.  Because magic has gone from being the mysterious force that rules despite man's will, to being the force of will working through mysterious means.  Magic in ancient literature is the force that thwarts our efforts and understanding (look what it does for Macbeth).  By Harry Potter, magic is just technology by other means; powerful, but fully within our control and wholly an expression of character and will.

And so we decide our will can override the physical universe, and software is the medium through which that will can be enacted.

Stewart Brand introduced "The Last Whole Earth Catalog," in what now seems a much more innocent (and certainly less technological) time, explaining that "We are as gods, we might as well get good at it."  We kept the first part, ditched the last part, convinced that if we could will it, we were already able to do it, and so had to be good at it.

The Greeks called it hubris; but they meant we didn't have the power the gods did.  The main difference is, now we think we do.

Friday, March 29, 2019

This Is On Us...

When he does it, it will hurt him. But it will hurt us first. And nobody in D.C. will do a thing about it.

I'm looking at Britain and Venezuela and America and wondering: " Why is government failing so badly?" Especially in places where it is a representative democracy.
(Although Maggie Haberman is quite trenchant on this:)
Too little, too late, I fear.

No self-awareness at all...

(You go first.)
3 Tweets, just as they were published. The country can't be run until retribution is paid. I guess.


Oh, and the fight is still on:
And this:
So no harm, no foul, right?  Besides, nothin' to see here:

The conclusions are all (Clinton wasn't indicted for a crime, or even accused of one.  It was the appearance that mattered, not the ability to get a conviction in a court of law for his alleged transgressions, that led to impeachment.).

I don't think this is going away all that fast.

Texas, Our Texas

Given the economic, as well as humanitarian, catastrophe this would wreak (I've been on the border myself; it's very porous for residents and businesses on both sides), I'm rather curious what the Senators from Texas (longest single border with Mexico), think.

According to the Texas-Mexico Trade Coalition (also huge supporters of NAFTA; take that as you will, it's a potent political issue in a state with 45 electoral votes), Mexico is Texas' No. 1 trade partner.  Texas exports to Mexico were worth $97,700,703,970.00 in 2017.  Imports from Mexico to Texas were worth $89,808,377,939.00.  So please, Mr. President, by all means, disrupt that trade because of the voices on FoxNews and the imaginary caravans and the intransigence you imagine exists in the Mexican government (which is not responsible for protecting the American southern border or enforcing American immigration laws).

On the humanitarian side, Vox tells me:  "Nearly half a million people cross the border legally every day through Texas ports alone."  Most of those people are doing business at local stores, etc.  The effect on the economy will start on the border (and let's be honest, who really cares about the border, except maybe Will Hurd (and what does he think about this?  Maybe it's a greater concern than getting Adam Schiff off the House Intelligence Committee?) and move rapidly into the national economy.  Which, again, Vox tells me Trump's administration understands, if he doesn't.  Then again, he's the President, and you're not.

You think you stepped on your tie when you took on Obamacare immediately after the Barr letter?  You ain't seen nothin', yet.  (By next week, of course, he will deny all such talk, or blame it on "his people.")

As They Were Passed On To You

Slate apprises me of a controversy I didn't even know was a controversy.  (I noticed today, for the first time, a student wearing leggings.  In my day we called them "tights."  In the '80's, people sprayed water on jeans in order to squeeze into them to get that look.  The difference was, they couldn't sit down again until they took them off.)  The heart of the matter, of course (!), is:  what do the people in the pews think? (You'd think the issue for churches is:  'Why aren't there more people in the pews?', but no, the issue is:  'What are the people in the pews wearing?')

The leggings debate takes on a special urgency in Christian circles, where the stakes are not just which pants are flattering, but which pants are godly. Modesty is a virtue named in the New Testament, and lust is a sin. But the Bible unhelpfully does not include original illustrations. Does modesty require covered shoulders? Long skirts? Or just a spirit of not “trying so very hard to look good in all the ways that are so relatively unimportant,” while also, of course, looking traditionally feminine? Meanwhile, huge swaths of mainstream Christian culture are almost indistinguishable aesthetically with mainstream American culture, and even take pains to imitate it. The result is that many young Christian women feel perfectly comfortable wearing leggings, while others see them as not just unflattering but immoral.

Well, yeah, some churches are indistinguishable from the culture; in fact, they all are. Who attends worship in a toga, or Italian Renaissance costume?  (Okay, okay, the worship leaders tend to dress in medieval garb, I'll grant you that.) The distinctions are really generational, as evidenced by the letter writer Graham quotes.  She ends the article quoting the letter writer's plea for jeans (which, especially during the tight jeans craze of my younger years, also showed off butts), which is from her (the l.w.'s) generation. But I can remember the controversy over wearing those in church, and how self-consciously rebellious I felt to do it. Before that, I can remember my parents being upset because a woman wore a pants suit (ask your Grandpa, punk!) on Sunday morning. She was more comfortable than the other women, and until they learned to go along with it, they resented her for it.  The culture they'd grown up with defined "appropriate" clothing, and it took awhile to accept a change in culture, both in church and outside of church.

(The funny part of this article, to yours truly, is that the one Mass I've ever attended was in seminary, for a class (not with a class, mind).  My friend and I found a Latin Mass (special dispensation, apparently), and the women all wore 1950's clothing (and what pop culture is that?) and covered their heads.  No, not Muslim style, but, as fading memory serves, with lacey things that harkened back to my youth in the '50's, which I barely remember as I was 5 when the '60's started.  "Christian culture" v. "American mainstream culture" is such a silly idea, the more you get down to it.)

And why does this happen churches in particular? Because modesty is a virtue and lust is a sin?  The latter is certainly RC doctrine (I presume the Seven Deadlies are still around).  The former is from Paul:

I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man,[a] and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

7 A man ought not to cover his head,[b] since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own[c] head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

(That's why the women in the Latin Mass covered their heads, if only slightly.)  I have no ready-made exegesis of Paul here, except to say he's reflecting his culture, not creating "Christian culture."  That bit about the shaved head calls to mind nothing more than that final scene of "Ryan's Daughter" where the village shaves the titular character's head in order to shame her.  I'm doing nothing more than assuming that's an ancient practice known even in Paul's day (I pastored a church where some remembered the men still sitting on one side for worship, women and children on the other, so don't think these "old" practices don't have very, very long lives.), which is why he would mention it with such opprobrium.*  I don't have much truck with Paul's language here, either; just pointing out how "Christian culture" is always pretty much the culture of its society and when those old practices linger long enough, we think they come from religion, rather than influenced religion in the first place.

So back to the question:  why does this conflict seem particular to churches?  Despite Paul's admonition, it's not for theological reasons (any more than churches that don't enforce that 'dress code' are "liberal"); it's because young people dominate schools, old people dominate churches (with or without a large cohort of children present and accounted for).  Clothing culture in schools adopts change much faster than other parts of culture, because that's where the young adopters of change are. And what starts there makes its way up the generational chain. The one institution in our culture where the generations are most likely to grind like millstones?

Church, of course. And so it changes last, least, and most loudly.

(Admit it; for all that, you thought there'd be more to it, didn't you?)

*Not to drag that discussion out above, but Paul explicitly rejects creating a new practice peculiar to his house churches (which were entirely family affairs anyway, in the sense we have of "extended family."  They were not separate buildings used only once a week by a group of otherwise unrelated people who didn't already know each other.  V. 16, there, ends the discussion explicitly noting what he advocates is a cultural norm, and his churches have no need to create new practices, nor should they.  That "church/culture" distinction has always been a rather flimsy one.

Water is still...

(And a lot of people in Texas would say "What [the fuck]? to that idea, too.)

I'm tired of paying attention to Trump.  I know what he has to say, and it isn't worth my time. My attention is not magical; it will not prevent Trump from holding his rallies, his supporters from shouting their support, or the people from wanting to see Mueller's report.

So Trump sinks further into public displays of idiocy and ignorance. In other news, water is wet, and the Pope is Catholic.

You mean....

Like this?

Who is responsible for keeping this stuff straight?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

And they won't bury the nuclear waste in Bill's neighborhood!


"Your Undoubted King"

Smooth move.
Waiting for this to turn into "fake news!"

The Man With His Finger on the Pulse of Government

Just like urging England to just crash out of the EU.  What could go wrong?  Nothing that can't be dealt with some time in the future, right?

Twice Nothing is no broader nor deeper

The White House is weighing a new round of executive actions to boost the U.S. energy industry in an attempt to portray strength against Russia.

The moves the White House is considering — President Donald Trump’s third effort to help pipeline companies — include possible executive orders that would weaken states’ power to block energy projects and ease the construction of new pipelines to facilitate the movement of a glut of domestic oil and gas, according to a senior administration official and others familiar with the effort.

The administration official said the pipeline executive order would be “quite similar” to the president’s previous actions, but “broader, deeper.”

But keep this in mind:

The Times reviewed 101 executive orders Trump has signed since inauguration day, and interviewed experts, advocates and administration officials about their effects. Many were geared toward favored political constituencies, including veterans, blue-collar workers and evangelical Christians. Few moved policy significantly; generally the orders created committees or task forces, demanded reports or pressed for enforcement of existing laws.

For example; remember the EO that was gonna make evil liberal universities finally respect the rights of good, noble conservatives?

Trump’s 100th executive order, signed Thursday in an East Room event complete with a string quartet, followed up on a promise he made earlier in the month to a conservative conference, promising to force colleges to support free speech.

Trump called it “historic” and “groundbreaking.” Experts who read the text afterward said the ultimate impact was uncertain, given that public universities already must follow the 1st Amendment and it simply instructed private colleges to comply with their existing policies.

An official who briefed reporters beforehand struggled to explain the order and how the administration would enforce it.

And orders similar to this proposed one?

At least 15 reversed or curtailed Obama’s initiatives, notably the orders overturning environmental regulations. Those made for some of Trump’s most consequential actions even as they demonstrated a major drawback of executive orders — they can fairly easily be undone by a successor. Also, courts have blocked some environmental rollbacks.

Just because Trump says he's powerful and effective, doesn't mean he is.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Remember what I said about Trump losing Texas? Close the Mexican border and see what happens.   Texas has the longest state border with Mexico. Texas is the No. 1 trading partner, among states, with Mexico. Trade with Mexico is a major part of the Texas economy. So sure, close that border. A

And kiss 2020 "good-bye."

The President's Busy Schedule

Not to Nebraska, southern Illinois, or Missouri. Are you kidding? Those places are disaster areas!
Waiting for his investigators to get back from Hawaii!
You know, the same people who committed treason!
(Takes one to know one?)
Wait? The Mueller report was released?! Call Barr! How did this happen??!!!
After all, we're selling them nukes!
What did Nunes do, again? Wait! Is he the guy sitting next to Adam Schiff?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

That's it, I'm swearing off Twitter

This stuff'll rot your brain.

About that "victory lap"

I've 'ad worse!

Sure it does: Obama!

Trump still wants to undo all things Obama, if only because of what Obama did to him at the White House Correspondent's Dinner.

Oh, and the inaugural crowds.  And the visit with the Queen.  And practically anything else he did.

Trump takes everything personally.  He can't prove himself dominant if he doesn't erase everything Obama did, and that only means one thing:  "Obamacare."

I mean, the guy's name is right there in it!  What more does Trump need?

Yes; yes, they are.  Might as well understand why, though.

"I Am Not A Crook!"

The standard of evidence for a criminal conviction is "beyond a reasonable doubt."  If Robert Mueller decided the evidence did not meet that standard, he was right to say there was insufficient evidence of a crime.  However, the report of a special prosecutor is not a nolle prosequi or a decision not to take a case to a grand jury.  It is a report on an investigation, and the evidence found. 

It may well be Mueller, constrained by Justice Department regulations, found no crime could be charged against a sitting President because he is a sitting President.  It may be he thought there was sufficient evidence for impeachment, or even impeachment hearings.  It may be he thought there was evidence of criminal action, but not enough to bear the weight of prosecution, even by sealed indictment awaiting the end of the Presidential term of office.

The simple fact is:  we don't know.

News reports were that no sealed indictments were pending.  There is no official statement from the Special Prosecutors office, though.  The official report is in the hands of the Attorney General.  Some of it needs to be kept secret because of pending litigation; some because of classified material, but that may not be the material the FBI is briefing the "Gang of 8" on this week.  Some of the material is grand jury testimony, which should remain sealed to protect the validity of grand jury proceedings.

But we also do not make political decisions about politicians based on a criminal standard of evidence.  To be frank, American history is rife with politicians re-elected to office after criminal convictions.  Even a felony record is not an absolute bar to electoral success.  The problem with prosecuting a sitting President is the political implications of the prosecution, not the legal ones.  There is a problem with striking at the king; but the countervailing issue is the regulation establishing a king, by implication.  The President is not above the law, and there are no provisions of law that toll statutes of limitations until the President has served the Constitutionally allowed terms of office.  Still, neither do we want President's subject to criminal investigations and trials on a frequent basis.

That's one more argument for not impeaching Trump.  Until Clinton, impeachment had been tried only once in our nation's history.  If Trump were impeached, it would be the second time in less than 50 years.  The Clinton impeachment never should have happened; why pour more gasoline on that fire?

On the other hand, evidence of criminal action, even if not sufficient to prosecute, is evidence the people should have about their office holders, especially when that office is the Presidency.  Evidence insufficient to sustain a criminal charge is not evidence of the good character of the officeholder, and may well be relevant evidence for the voters.  Ironically, this was James Comey's reasoning during the 2016 elections; but his sin was releasing that evidence so close to the election, not in releasing it at all.*

When Nixon said he was not a crook, he was deflecting the real issue.  The question of Nixon's presidency had become, not his criminality of lack thereof, but his fitness for the office.  The person he presented himself to be, and the person he was in office, away from the glare of the lights, proved to be two different people.  If his abuse of his powers of office were not criminal, they were still unacceptable.  It may well be the revelation of what Trump and his minions did is not criminal; it may even be unremarkable, given the people who despise Trump cannot think worse of him, and those who support him cannot be persuaded otherwise.  But Trump is not some rich guy with a media megaphone, or even some political party official who speaks through some implied agency for others.  He is the President of the United States.  That puts him in a fishbowl, and we the people deserve to know how he is conducting himself in such high office.  If all we learn is that it is just as bad as we thought, if all the evidence does is confirm the basest suspicions of his opposition, still it should be revealed.

After all, we the people paid for that report.

*Mitch McConnell agrees:

McConnell was adamant that the complete Mueller report continue to be withheld because it would be wrong to release something “when we think it may be politically advantageous to one side or the other.” Which is the justification for writing another “summary” rather than releasing the report.

Not that this kept the special prosecutors in Watergate or Whitewater from issuing full reports full of information insufficient (especially in the latter case) to provide a basis for criminal charges.

And, almost coincidentally, Rick Wilson links to an important set of questions that show why answers are important:

And, lastly and just "oh, by the way" (because things keep happening on these issues):

Very interesting, indeed.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Nothing Personal

The misleading report worked, because we still don't know what's going on.  BEHOLD THE POWER OF FAKE NEWS!

And as long as we're on Twitter:  The POTUS is a floor wax!  The President is a dessert topping!

It's nothing personal! Unless he blocks you! What, you think he's gonna take that sitting down?

How To Win Friends And Influence People

I'm old enough to remember stories about Trump being influenced by Dale Carnegie.
And as long as we're talking about government inaction:
But you can't believe that because it's all FAKE NEWS!
I mean so much winning!
Yeah, future's so bright GOP's gotta wear shades:

NPR reported repeal of ACA will raise drug prices and eliminate healthcare coverage for 2 million children. So much winning!

Monday, March 25, 2019

This is how you move on...

...and expand your base. Or not.

(Remember how people were getting tired of the lengthy investigation? Now that won't matter; right?)

ADDING: I gotta start reading the fine print!
The GOP is gonna be a juggernaut in 2020! With this kind of attitude, how can they lose?

Is the Fat Lady even warming up yet?

And what does this have to do with that "bounce"?

It was the strawberries!

“There are a lot people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things, I would say treasonous things, against our country,” a clearly angry Trump said. “Hopefully the people that have done such harm to our country — we’ve gone through a period of really bad things happening — those people will certainly be looked at.”

“I have been looking at them for a long time and I’m saying, ‘why haven’t they been looked at?'” Trump continued ominously. “They lied to Congress. Many of them, you know who they are. They’ve done so many evil things.”

“I love this country as much as I can love anything, my family, my country, my God,” said the thrice-married president whose personal attorney paid hush money to his mistresses. “What they did, it was a false narrative, it was a terrible thing.”

"He was no different from any other officer in the ward room, they were all disloyal. I tried to run the ship properly, by the book, but they fought me at every turn. The crew wanted to walk around with their shirt tails hanging out, that's all right, let them. Take the tow line, defective equipment, no more, no less. But they encouraged the crew to go around scoffing at me, and spreading wild rumors about steaming in circles, and then old yellow-strain. I was to blame for Lt. Maryk's incompetence and poor seamanship. Lt. Maryk was the perfect officer, but not Captain Queeg. Ah, but the strawberries, that's, that's where I had them, they laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, with geometric logic, that a duplicate key to the ward room icebox did exist, and I've had produced that key if they hadn't pulled the Caine out of action. I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officer. [He pauses - looked at all the questioning faces that stared back at him, and realizes that he has been ranting and raving] Naturally, I can only cover these things from memory. If I left anything out, why, just ask me specific questions and I'll be glad to answer them, one by one."

It's getting harder and harder to separate fact from fiction.

Twitter Sorts It All Out For You

And the (news) beat goes on..... 

Our Men on Their Side

If Trump won a victory yesterday, he is determined to snatch defeat from its jaws:

"Within an hour of learning the findings," the WashPost reports, "Trump called for an investigation of his critics and cast himself as a victim."

"Aides say Trump plans to ... call for organizations to fire members of the media and former government officials who he believes made false accusations about him."

This is clearly where the Administration is going:

“The reality is, the question now is, if there was no evidence of collusion, three investigations, no evidence of collusion — who made it up? It had to come from somewhere,” he said. “It didn’t just come out of thin air. I want to know who did it, who paid for it, who fueled it. Because the person who did it and the group that did it knows it’s untrue because they invented it.”

While he has yet to tweet about it, Trump is serious about it:

“There are a lot people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things, I would say treasonous things, against our country,” a clearly angry Trump said. “Hopefully the people that have done such harm to our country — we’ve gone through a period of really bad things happening — those people will certainly be looked at.”

“I have been looking at them for a long time and I’m saying, ‘why haven’t they been looked at?'” Trump continued ominously. “They lied to Congress. Many of them, you know who they are. They’ve done so many evil things.”

“I love this country as much as I can love anything, my family, my country, my God,” said the thrice-married president whose personal attorney paid hush money to his mistresses. “What they did, it was a false narrative, it was a terrible thing.”

Getting tired of all the winning yet?  And it would seem the GOP is going to follow Trump's lead:

Axios went so far last night as to say the majority of the country would side with Trump's claims of vindication and "witch hunt!," but that's not what NPR found this morning.  And more than a few responses to Trump's claims of vindication point out this must mean the FBI vindicated Hillary Clinton as well; sauce for the goose, and all.  That is going to be a hard obstacle to climb over, even if people don't know who Corey Lewandowski is or what Roger Stone is supposed to have done.  If Graham spoke for Trump this morning, insisting an investigation of the Obama administration is in order, any benefit the White House thinks it gets from this letter is going to dissipate like morning fog.  And the GOP will be manning the fans blowing that fog away.

If you strike at the king, you had better kill him

“Mueller’s theory of bringing cases has been basically beyond any doubt, as opposed to beyond reasonable doubt,” Ackerman told VICE News. “Mueller set a slam-dunk standard, and most prosecutors don’t set a slam-dunk standard. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se. But it means that the only way you can intelligently approach this issue is to see whatever the evidence was that he had. Without seeing the underlying evidence, you’re missing the whole boat.”

This supports the reports that Mueller was preparing a report to Congress on the theory that a) the President cannot be indicted for a crime, and b) Congress is empowered to determine what is a "high crime and misdemeanor," a standard not reviewable by a court of law (the President can't sue to get his job back following removal by impeachment).

And on that, I agree with David Frum:

Now the job returns to the place it has always belonged and never should have left: Congress. This is all the more the case since the elections of 2018 restored independence to that body. The 2016 election was altered by Putin’s intervention, and a finding that the Trump campaign only went along for the ride does not rehabilitate the democratic or patriotic legitimacy of the Trump presidency. Trump remains a president rejected by more Americans than those who voted for him, who holds his job because a foreign power violated American laws and sovereignty. It’s up to Congress to deal with this threat to American self-rule.

This entire matter is, and always has been, up to Congress.  I never expected Mueller to indict Trump, much less present a report to Congress arguing Trump must be impeached and removed from office.  But just as impeachment is not a judicial process (not subject to judicial review), it is entirely a political process.  There's a reason no President has ever been removed by impeachment, and I doubt one ever will.  The current Senate wouldn't remove Trump from office if he were filmed shooting someone to death at high noon on 5th Avenue in New York City.  It's simply not going to happen.  And if you want to give Trump a political opportunity on a silver platter, impeach him now.  The threat to American self-rule needs to be addressed in ways other than simply removing the President.  These are, ultimately, Constitutional issues, in the meaning of being about the fundamental nature of self-governance.  Removing the sitting President won't get at those issues; it will make some people angry, some people happy, and prevent any real efforts to keep history from repeating itself.  As AOC says, this isn't a simple matter of removal:

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Compare and Contrast

"I am not a crook." Richard Nixon. He thought the country needed to know that, too. And it could be this is important to know, too:
Maybe we need to see that report.....

If only because of this...

This is not true:
Determinations and conclusions are already being drawn as the press rushes to define and defend a narrative. Ironic, as the complaints are already starting that what Mueller considered for 22 months Barr dispensed with in 22 hours, and now the press concludes in 22...minutes? It's not quite that neat, but the point is the same: a too quick settling of the claims no better founded than the White House and Trump declaring complete exoneration.

The truth is more complex, and the future not so easily settled.  Besides, Trump can't get out of his own way. That demand for investigations alone is going to dissipate any "powerful boost." And the SDNY is hardly dismissed by this report; nor have the Democrats yet fully answered.

Tonight is only tonight, not forever.

Aaaand...we're back! (Life away from Twitter)

Which seems like a euphemism for "Bound by DOJ regulations, we can't seek a criminal indictment. But we would."
Yeah, that's not what your AG said; and he's not releasing the full report. Yet. Standby, Chuckles. And let's just remember:
Which means:
We still don't know if that's true. It matters who tells the story:

And this is certainly true:
Because here's the bottom line:
They will if they get to see the evidence Mueller saw. All we have right now is a letter from Barr and Rosenstein saying what they think the report says. Like reading a movie review, I think I'd like to see it myself and draw my own conclusions. Been to too many movies and left wondering which one the critics saw to accept the summary as a true and accurate representation without seeing for myself. T

This ain't over 'til it's over.

Twitter Makes It Too Easy

So Northern Ireland Is Britain's Puerto Rico?

Another way the Brexiteers were the same as the Trumps.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Upside of Yesterday's Announcement

Always look on the bright side of life...

Moi aussi

I'm sorry, the big news is what?

Only Remember

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Tale of the Tweet

Tweets have consequences, too.