And Then There Were Two – On impeachment, Dems keep it simple, stupid

And Then There Were Two

On impeachment, Dems keep it simple, stupid

December 11th 2019

Abuse of Power. Obstruction of Justice. Two counts, both on their faces impeachable offenses. The formal text is available in hundreds of places (At random, here:  ) and is a short read, perhaps 2,000 words. It’s simple, clear, straightforward, and based on an absolute mountain of damning evidence.

The Democrats could have filed dozens of discrete charges against this most corrupt of all presidents, and in a court of law, have most of them stick. But this isn’t going to a court of law. It’s going to the House, where a vote along party lines is pretty much inevitable. Most of the Republicans will vote against it simply out of blind party loyalty. Some have an active hatred of a free and open United States, and want a fascistic dystopia in which they can maintain power and a life of ease forever. So yeah, party-line vote.

And it’s going to happen fast. Before the Christmas break, apparently. (If you had asked me last week, I would have said such votes would take place in the House in February or even March).

House debate begins tonight, and despite the best efforts of Jordan and Nunes and that lot, it will address those two simple and salient charges. Did Trump abuse the powers of his office for his own personal gain? There are hundreds of instances the Democrats can point to, and they need only make a convincing case for ONE of them. Most likely it will be the efforts to smear the Bidens through Ukraine. Just to clear things up, offering a bribe is just as criminal as accepting one, and offering a bribe through withholding monies mandated to be paid by law in order to secure a favor for a personal benefit is a clear case of bribery—and abuse of power. Just the clip of Mulvaney saying “deal with it” would make it an open-and-shut case in a court of law.

Obstruction of Justice is even easier. Trump publicly declared he would order his entire White House staff and dozens of people not even on his staff to ignore all Congressional subpoenas. Open and shut.

But it’s not a court of law; it’s Congress, one of the most lawless places there is. The intent here isn’t to appeal to the noble brows of solons preoccupied only with the sanctity of the Law. Most of ‘em ain’t got none of that.

Basically, it’s to point out the cowards, the corrupt, the criminals, and yes, the traitors. If America survives this and gets rid of Trump, then in the next election if your congressional voted in the face of all evidence to not support the charges, make sure your district is plastered with posters and leaflets pointing out that vote to people. Don’t be afraid to use colorful language; the Republican didn’t have a lapse in judgment, and it wasn’t just a difference of opinion on policy; he or she voted to trash America and all it stands for for the sake of a vicious and possibly deranged sociopath intent on dictatorship.

The vote might occur next week. It will pass. Then it’s on to the Republican-held Senate and Moscow Mitch. Moscow Mitch doesn’t like being called that, but he came by it dishonestly enough in his dealings with some of Putin’s henchmen, and his blind support of Trump.

There, it will take on something resembling a court trial, with the presiding figure being the Chief Justice, John Roberts. Whatever his personal opinions might be, Roberts is going to glance at the hundreds of cameras covering the proceedings, and the tens of millions of people who will be watching closely, and he will know that credibility—not only for himself, but for both the Senate and the Supreme Court—ride on the fairness and impartiality he brings to the proceedings.

That leaves the rest of the Republicans. Just about every pundit in the county is assuring us these guys will never vote to impeach a Republican president, and the track record of those senators, who cheerfully put party ahead of country, seems to support it.

But I’m going to go out on a branch here, and say that if the Democrats sell the notions that Trump abused his power and obstructed justice (and even by Democratic standards, it would take monumental amounts of ineptness to fail to manage that) then a lot of Republicans are going to be facing a deeply hostile electorate who will view them as scofflaws, betrayers, even criminals in their own right, obstructing justice to protect a criminal president.

There’s about 10 Republicans who will support Trump no matter what. There’s a few that might vote to convict. The remaining 35 or 40 may be up for grabs, and if the Democrats make no mistakes and keep it a simple thing, may feel that they must vote to convict, if only to save their own asses.

Things are moving fast now. Stay tuned.

Harris Drops Out – This might have been the best move she could make

Harris Drops Out

This might have been the best move she could make

December 3rd 2019

Kamela Harris announced unexpectedly that she was dropping her run for the White House today. Her message said, “I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life. My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”

That’s probably completely true, in and of itself. But then she tweeted something that caused me to scratch my chin and smile: “It has been the honor of my life to be your candidate. We will keep up the fight.” With any other candidate, that would be boilerplate farewell verbiage, on par with “spend more time with my family.” But Harris has other fights in her near future.

Trump, that pile of trash masquerading as a President, tweeted, “Too bad. We will miss you Kamala!” and went on to congratulate Tulsi Gabbard, his fellow Russian asset.

Kamala tweeted back, “Don’t worry, Mr. President. I’ll see you at your trial.”

Which confirmed what I already suspected.

Yes, the Harris campaign was in trouble, and it was inevitable that she would have to drop the run in the fairly near future. And it would be a good move in the long run, since this was pretty much a “groundwork” campaign, one that assumed she wouldn’t get the brass ring this time, but would build good will, name recognition and reputation for a future run—which she has accomplished.

But Kamala Harris isn’t just a candidate: she is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a brilliant and accomplished prosecutor.

The House Intelligence Select Committee today released its report, “The Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report” which contains not only all the damning evidence presented in the hearings before the committee, but a few more, such as access to phone records (even cell phones, because Trump and his henchmen were too stupid to encrypt their conversations!) and an entire galaxy of connections and transactions that pretty much make any defense of Trump impossible.

The committee vote on whether to refer this damning report to the House floor, headlined in nearly every news outlet in the country and expected to be read by tens of millions of Americans, was voted to the floor by a 13-9 vote, strictly along party lines. The Republicans, cowards, crooks and traitors all, didn’t even want the report discussed in the House. Republicans have no moral or ethical basement, and hold America and its citizenry in infinite contempt. They will try to maintain a wall of nihilistic ideology for as long as humanly possible. The full House vote may well fall along party lines, and Rupert Murdoch’s filthy Goebbels machine will claim it means the impeachment stems only from Democratic malice, and not any wrongdoing on Trump’s part.

When it reaches the Senate, it will take on the elements of a criminal trial, with the Chief Justice overseeing the procedure. McConnell will do all in his power to short-circuit the process, but John Roberts isn’t about to let his reputation destroyed by the corrupt juggalo show that the Republicans will hope for.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will be presenting the case against Trump. Kamala Harris is on that committee.

The Democrats need a prosecutor who can, clearly and succinctly, convince a jury that no reasonable doubt exists. That most of the jurors in this case are members of that corrupt and criminal enterprise that used to be the Republican party means she has to be at the top of her game, her actions and activities utterly unimpeachable.

Now, she won’t turn the Republicans into honest and decent Americans. She will just convince the public, and make it impossible for the Senate cockroaches to function in the merciless glare of her case-building.

Harris is perfect for the position. We’ve already seen how good she is in that role. The Republicans would be right to fear her.

Except you can’t have a prosecutor who is trying a suspect and at the same time trying to take the suspect’s job. That’s a conflict of interest a mile wide, and one the Republicans would immediately use to try to undermine her legitimacy and thus debunk any and all evidence she presents against Trump.

By dropping out of the campaign, Harris has removed that vulnerability. The Republicans will whine that she’s a Democrat and that’s why she’s so mean to that nice Mister Trump, but that won’t fly.

In the meantime, over one hundred million Americans are going to be watching as she lays out the case against Trump. She will make the stonewalling and lies of Republicans untenable. She will shatter Trump and his criminal cabal.

That’s why she dropped out, right now. She is far more important to the country as a Senator than she could possibly be as a presidential candidate and thus compromised.

Do your job, Senator Harris, and win your case! Your country will remember it.

Time is Running Out – That is a good thing

Time is Running Out

That is a good thing

November 27th 2019

Time is running out for the GOP. It’s only 11½ months until the 2020 election, and even if they aren’t admitting it yet, Trump has been a catastrophe both for the party and the GOP. Polls show that a slim majority of voters now want Trump impeached and convicted and removed from office.

Trump is clearly hoping the Senate and the Supreme Court can save him from the avalanche of misdeeds and flat-out crimes he has committed, but both those organizations, even if they were favorably disposed toward Trump at one time, know that they can’t simply let him off the hook without their credibility and public support crashing. Some have figured out already that it isn’t just a case of allowing corruption to continue; it’s a case of sparking a possible revolt.

With no reasonable doubts remaining about Trump’s guilt of a wide galaxy of crimes, and overwhelming evidence of an entirely corrupt and criminal administration, and an even more corrupt and criminal shadow government populated by Mafia cast-offs and self-entitled silver-spoon kids, the public is angry, and if Trump is not convicted, they will erupt in fury.

There is no more room for an otherwise noble sentiment that all men are entitled to their day in court, and until the judge bangs his gavel, there must be presumption of possible evidence. Trump himself, through his braying and mindless taunts, removed any doubts about his own guilt, and the evidence—nay, PROOF—offered in the hearings and in recently released FOIA requests and legal rulings, is there for anyone to see.

Anyone at this point who claims Trump is a good man and a loyal American is at best a fool, and at worst a liar and a traitor. The GOP won’t be able to bluster and bluff their way out of this. As for the clowns who say, in all sincerity, that he is a ‘good Christian’, they are part of the same toxic branch of the faith that made Hitler possible.

Much has been made of the ‘hardness’ of the support Trump sees in the polls, He has the support of a seemingly unvarying 38-42% of voters, and even as the proof of his malfeasance and viciousness and dishonesty mount, the numbers hardly vary. Pundits like to compare it to Nixon’s support, which remained high—much higher than Trump’s, in fact—right up until the release of the smoking gun tape which showed beyond doubt that Nixon lied about and covered up the Watergate scandal.

We’re well past the point where in the Nixon narrative, Nixon’s support in Congress and among the general public collapsed. That was a different breed of Republicans; less corrupt, less cynical, less determined to destroy freedom in America. Republicanism in America hardened when right-wing conservatism morphed into fascism, aided and abetted by the propaganda machines of authoritarian plutocrats and supported by massive corporations who didn’t mind a little authoritarianism in the name of protecting profits.

We’re reached the point where in the Nixon saga, we’ve all learned about his deliberate efforts to sabotage the Paris peace talks and cause an unnecessary 15,000 more American deaths and over a million Vietnamese deaths, only to achieve “Peace with Honor” with the same terms that North Vietnam offered Lyndon Johnson six years earlier. If he were still alive, Nixon may have faced trial for treason, along with a host of war crimes. Trump is already at that point, which is why he is fighting so hard to maintain the dubious protection of his office. He knows what once impeached and convicted, he will die in prison.

The media go on about how intransigent the supporters of Trump are, and how they will ignore all proof, forgive all crimes, betray everyone in their blind support.

What the media forget is that these toy nazis are a minority—38-42% according to the polls, and if we reach the point where even the fools start to see the gravity of Trump’s criminal administration, it may drop to 23-25%. They aren’t America; they are a tumor growing within America.

The rest of America is also hardening, but in a different direction. This is the other side of America. This is the side that went from only 30% wanting to help Britain in 1940 to “the greatest generation” over the next five years. They embraced once-unpopular if not unheard-of causes such as civil rights, desegregation, space exploration, and a determination to fight for freedom. They have been fairly silent over the past four decades, stilled by assurances that corporate masters know best, all the important battles have been won and no longer need be fought, and increasing self-doubt.

Ask yourself: how did “liberal” become a dirty word? The fact is the Constitution enshrines liberal values, and many of the most glorious moments reflected a rise of liberalism. Even the Republican Party’s greatest moments came from liberal causes and leadership—winning the Civil War and abolishing slavery, and breaking up the trusts.

Most of America is liberal—and yes, that includes most self-described moderates and even some self-described conservatives (!) Need proof? Go see what the polls say about the individual policies of that “wild-eyed socialist” Bernie Sanders. They ALL poll at least 55% support, and some are over 70%–universal health care, tuition-free higher education, creating a national bank in the post office system, all of it.

Liberals don’t really like to fight. They don’t like describing their neighbors and countrymen as the enemy. The realize that bloodshed should always be the last option, and that force is always illiberal.

But fight they can. Fight they will. Ask Dixie. Ask Hitler.

They are realizing that Trump and his corrupt, criminal gang pose the same existential threat to America that the Confederacy and Hitler did. They are realizing that it’s either Trump and the GOP OR America, but not both. Anger and determination are stirring.

Resolved, they are unbeatable. And resolve is hardening on that side.

A Genius for Stupid – Don and the giant impeach

November 16th 2019

OK, I’ll grant you that when you are being impeached by the House, good days are kind of few and far between. After all, the hearings are the most public performance review of all time, and it wouldn’t be happening if enough people weren’t seriously questioning your fitness for the job.

Andrew Johnson was pretty much screwed from the get-go. A Southern Democrat who opposed succession, he was Lincoln’s idea of an olive branch to the South, and Lincoln’s assassination made sure the new President, at odds with both parties at a time when partisan fury was at its highest, didn’t have a chance in hell. It’s kind of amazing—and a credit to Johnson’s political skills—that it took nearly three years for the Republicans in Congress to fabricate a case against him He was accused of firing a member of his cabinet, an action recently outlawed by the blatantly unconstitutional Tenure of Office act. Oh, the act itself wasn’t a bad idea, but Congress tried to say it meant a president could not fire members of his own cabinet. Hello, separation of powers?

Nixon was pretty much self-screwing, but until the release of the smoking gun tapes, enjoyed fairly broad popular support. Nonetheless, the laborious and painstaking process inflicted a death by a thousand paper cuts against Nixon, who slowly unraveled as the almost two-year process finally reached a point where Congress was going to vote to impeach, at which point he resigned.

Clinton probably had the worst of it, since the Republicans were intent on humiliating him and his wife for an act that many of the Republicans—including the leaders of the impeachment movement in the House—had committed themselves. One was banging his secretary and future wife #4 at the time. Another was a kiddy diddler. Another quit one day after…something…came out of his closet. Republicans were vicious and cruel, and hypocrites.

But Trump seems intent on having the worst impeachment process of all. His worst enemies aren’t the Democrats in the House, who learned from watching Republicans disgrace themselves in their damp lust to smear Clinton, but his own allies and his own mouth—or at least, his fumbling fingers when combined with a smartphone.

Take yesterday, for example. Marie Yovanovitch, former ambassador to the Ukraine and victim of a vicious smear campaign to drive her out by the Trumplings, testified in open session. The smear campaign hadn’t worked, and in fact made her a more sympathetic witness. Even the Republicans in Congress realized that they would need to treat her with deference and at least the sort of respect a junkyard dog shows when someone has just kicked its ass.

Part of the testimony focused on the smear campaign (even Republicans couldn’t try to pretend it was anything other than that), and the topics of witness intimidation and witness tampering came up.

Her testimony was damaging to Trump, and half-way through, Trump, who swore he wasn’t watching the proceedings, blew up and launched a twitter attack against her. Even tried to imply that she was somehow responsible for Somalia being the mess that it is. Tactically, it was pretty much the worst move he could have possibly made. Aside from the sheer stupid boorishness of the move, there is the awkward fact that publically denigrating a witness AS SHE IS TESTIFYING, particularly when done by the defendant, is a prima facie case of witness tampering. He may as well have typed, “OK, you’re being a stoolie. A rat. You gotta dog? Your dog dies tonight.”

Speaking of which, Roger Stone was found guilty of six counts of lying to Congress and one count of witness tampering. He told the guy that if he testified, he, Roger Stone, would kill his dog.

If you want to know where Republicans get their class and dignity from, Roger Stone is a good place to start looking. He won’t be hard to find after his sentencing: federal prison, for up to twenty years.

Unless Donald Trump pardons him. That would be a catastrophically bad move politically for Trump, so I’m offering 4-1 odds that he’ll do exactly that.

Finally, Nancy Pelosi weighed in. Trump desperately needed someone in Congress who could slow the process down, and Pelosi, who was less than anxious to impeach, would have fitted the bill. All Trump had to do was treat her with a modicum of respect, and convince McConnell to take up at least some of the smaller 250 bills the House passed that the Senate will never hear, and she might have been willing to stop the impeachment process from really getting off the ground. For a while, it seems that no matter how stupid and egregious Trump got, the House wasn’t going to slap him down on it. He could have even turned Pelosi’s civility and willingness to try to find less draconian solutions against the Democrats, especially as impatience amongst non-Republicans mounted.

Pelosi used the b-word. “Bribery.” It’s what ‘quid pro quo” is the polite Latin for, and more to the point, it’s a crime explicitly mentioned in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment. Expect it to be in the articles of impeachment, and more than once. Trump lived by bribery and extortion, and he will die by bribery and extortion.

Pelosi, who has basically owned Trump for the past eighteen months or so, added this: “He [Trump] should not frivolously throw out insults, but that’s what he does. I think part of it is his own insecurity as an imposter. I think he knows full well that he’s in that office way over his head. And so he has to diminish everyone else.”

He diminishes himself pretty good. Today’s testimony came from someone named Mark Sandy who happened to be sitting at the same table as Gordon Sondland got his marching orders on how to use the Ukraine to fuck over Joe Biden. Despite knowing that Sondland was at a table surrounded by people, Trump elected to scream his demands, so loudly Sondland pulled the phone back from his ear, making Trump that much more audible to everyone else at the table. He was the first of something Republicans had been demanding: a first-hand witness, someone who could say he saw or heard this first-hand.

It’s a tribute to the impenetrable stupidity of Trump supporters that none of them asked why Trump had blocked first-hand witnesses from testifying. If they were capable of thinking…well, if they were. Trump would never have been president in the first place.

In the meantime, hope the days just keep getting worse for Trump, and not for the rest of us.

Pre-Denouement — Death by a thousand cuts for the GOP


Death by a thousand cuts for the GOP

November 10th 2019

This coming week will see live continuous broadcast of the impeachment hearings from Congress. The testimony is expected to be devastating for Trump, particularly in light of the fact that at this point, there is no doubt that he engaged in extortion and bribery in order to try to force the Ukraine government to fabricate a case against the son of Joe Biden, at the time his most likely rival in the 2020 election.

The GOP have already got the bad news that, by the very rules they set up themselves, they can’t bring in witnesses that don’t have any particular bearing on the issues at hand, so we won’t be seeing Hunter Biden, or Monica Lewinsky, or Alex Jones, or Yosemite Sam. We’ll be seeing the people who testified in closed sessions, and they will be spending the first half of their time being examined and crossed by professional lawyers, and the Congressmen will just have to wait to do their usual five minutes declaiming about how the Deep State caused Global Warming Which Doesn’t Actually Exist, or whatever. In other words, they aren’t going to be able to try by tantrum.

Oh, and they already ruled out making the whistleblower testify publicly. I guess they figure he already got enough death threats from the Trumpentrash, who had to settle for assassinating the Trump balloon.

Republicans are planning to swap out the comically inept Devin Nunes for a live cow…no wait, I misread that. They are planning to swap him out for the quicker witted and more vicious Jim Jordan, who is simultaneously trying to persuade prosecutors that he knew nothing—nuffink—about college athletes being raped on his watch. Nunes is the one suing the cow, I forgot. Creme of the crop, those two. So we won’t see the hoped-for distraction circus of demands for birth certificates, who killed Ben Ghazi, or Newt declaiming that people who bang their secretaries while holding public office are disgraces to the nation and ought to be shot.

But that’s all this coming week. Rachel Maddow isn’t going to get a wink of sleep, but she’ll be wearing a grin you would never want pointed right at you.

For right now, the GOP is doing a magnificent impersonation of the Hindenburg disaster, minus any vestiges of sympathy for the people on board. “Oh, the serpentity!”.

The party is disintegrating before our very eyes. Usually off-off year elections, involving three or four states, grab little attention outside of the states in question. But this year the elections revealed a shift in the electorate of 20-30 points toward the Democrats in all locales and at it’s biggest in the conservative suburbs. In Kentucky, Republicans were so dispirited they didn’t even try to steal the election after the fact.

Another Republican congressman announced his retirement, and I’m guessing that between now and February, another dozen will decide not to run for reelection. That may include a couple of Senators.

Meanwhile, Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, is suing Trump – yes you read that right. A president’s chief of staff is suing him. Even the late unlamented Allan Drury would have trouble coming up with a political situation more bizarre than that one. He wants courts to affirm that he can be subpoenaed, and if he is, he must testify, and non-disclosure agreements be damned. Imagine Leo McGarry suing Jed Bartlet. No, I can’t either. But that was a sane White House. In fact, until now, they’ve all been at least more-or-less sane. Goofy and inept, but not flat-out mad. Welcome to Trumptown. Mulvaney, who gleefully copped to several of the most serious charges Trump is facing and told the world to “just deal with it” is sane enough to know he needs a court to protect him from that madhouse.

The State Department professionals are in open revolt against Trump and Pompeo for their treatment of personnel who were guilty of nothing more than obeying the law and serving the public interest. In particular they are furious over the treatment of Ambassador Yovanovitch, who was seen as a impediment to Trump’s efforts at extorting the Ukraine in hopes of dirt on a political rival. Combined with similar reports from Justice, where Barr is seen as a pig and a disgrace, to the EPA and Department of Agriculture, who are being punished for being against pollution and admitting climate change is real, it looks like in-house coups are forming all over the place.

I wonder what the Joint Chiefs of Staff are thinking. Have they decided what they are going to do if Trump unilaterally launches military action against Iran, or California?

Then there’s John Bolton. He’s mad as the mist and snow himself, but it’s a integral kind of mad; he actually has some sort of moral pedestal he uses to support his views. So he’s genuinely unhappy that Trump is kowtowing to North Korea and letting the Russians use him.

The day before leaving office, and without telling Trump—or anyone—he unilaterally released $141 million of the $400 million in military aid to the Ukraine that Trump was holding up in hopes to getting dirt on the Bidens. Even Oliver North wasn’t that audacious when he defied Congressional dictates. It was a stunning development in some genuinely interesting times.

And this morning, he announced that he signed a book deal. I think even Trump is gonna figure that this isn’t going to be a book on Bolton family recipes for lutefisk. Although what Bolton will discuss will smell even more evil. As Garrison Keillor said, “that piece of cod which surpasseth human understanding.” Or John Randolph might describe at “like a rotting mackerel in the moonlight, it alternately shines and stinks.” Bolton may not be friends with Trump, but he’s definitely going to be chummy.

Bigger fish to fry this week. Enjoy.

The Beginning of the End – Fire and Fury as Trump Regime Collapses

The Beginning of the End

Fire and Fury as Trump Regime Collapses

Nov. 3rd 2019

In a spectacle never seen before in American politics, 30 Republican congressmen stormed the secure rooms where testimony into the impeachment inquiry was being conducted. Their claim was that the meetings were secret, which was wrong, and that Republicans had no say in the matter.

In fact, the meetings were secret because House rules, set up by Republicans during the Obama administration, said it was ok to do so. And not only did the 38 or so Republicans that were on the four committees involved in the hearings have full access to those meetings, but 13 of the Republicans who staged the Brooks Brothers Riot II had access. Even by Republican standards, this reached new levels of hypocrisy, dishonesty, and sheer stupidity. The thirty Republicans involved are liars and clowns, and the Dems need to make the footage of them making their phony and ridiculous grandstanding a huge part of the election campaigns in each of their districts this coming year.

This past week, the Democrats, as planned, staged a vote to make subsequent hearings open and public. Every Republican voted against that, including the thirty mendacious clowns who protested for open and public hearings. They aren’t Congressmen. They aren’t even loyal Americans. They’re cornered rats.

Steve King re-tweeted a clever graphic of the shapes of red and blue states rearranged to resemble two rock’em-sock-em figures. Somewhat less clever was the caption, which was that the red states had something like nine trillion bullets, and so who was going to win?

Red states may have bullets, but blue states have brains. My money is on the blue states, if it comes to that. Louie Gohmert spoke openly of civil war. Louie doesn’t know his ilk lost the Civil War. And World War II.

In the meantime, a rapidly-unraveling Trump has been tweeting demands to know the identity of the original whistleblower (and some of the trash right have come up with names, putting lives at risk—in one instance, fingered by the neonazis at RedState based on the fact that he knew John McCain) and threatening retribution against whistleblowers, leakers, those called to testify and those testifying under subpoena. Each and every one of those threatening tweets is, in and of itself, a felony, and impeachable. But Trump is far too out there to understand it. In fact, he’s probably never had a non-psychotic view of how these things work.

The person who first reported to the DoJ about the Ukraine phone call has an attorney, and the attorney, with good reason, is afraid that these feckless, criminal assholes in the administration, Congress, and amongst the trash right media are going to get his client—and probably others—killed with their feverish attempts to protect their mad lump of a leader. So he contacted Devon Nunes, putative congressman and presumptive leader of the cowardly and criminal conspiracy to unmask the whistleblower, with a unique offer: the client would submit answers in writing but under oath to questions sent to him by the Republicans. Republicans only, for some unknowable reason. He would not answers pertaining to his identity. Nunes, being the kind of man he is, will probably turn down the offer, because he needs conspiracy theories and large fogbanks of disinformation in which to carry out his tawdry existence.

It’s a sign of how desperate and rat-cornered the right has become when Faux News Harpy Jeanine Pirro snapped that it was none of our business what the President does, legal or not. Someone told me she used to be an American once. Must not have been a very good one.

But this is nightmare week for Trump and the Republicans. White House attorney Eisenberg is defying a subpoena to testify under oath to the House committees. In time, he’ll probably be stripped of his license to practice law and perhaps get 30 days for contempt of Congress, but he’s of no real importance; just another corrupt and bent lawyer in a sea of pseudo-legal slime.

The main thing that has to be done is Congress must present a case so compelling that it will totally unravel any Republican political will to resist. Not only must they have sound legal evidence (which they have) but they must have such a compelling case that public and party support for Trump and his criminal administration collapses entirely.

The House moves to the open sessions, with attorneys doing examination and cross, instead of vainglorious and partisan congressional hacks shouting ‘Lookitme!” for five minutes at a time. Combined with what is already known, Trump’s guilt is beyond any possible reasonable dispute.

The release of new information from the Mueller investigation, deeply implicating Pence and Sessions and McConnell, should also provide many sweaty sticks of political dynamite.

Trump and the Republicans for now will defy any law, and most standards of civilized behavior, in order to prevent this onrushing train of judgment.

It’s up to us to make sure they don’t derail it.

If they do manage to derail it, America is lost. They don’t want to govern. They want to rule.

For a thousand years.

Taylor’s Depth Charge — Damning testimony unravels Ukraine scandal

Taylor’s Depth Charge

Damning testimony unravels Ukraine scandal

Oct 22nd 2019

Bill Taylor, acting ambassador to the Ukraine, testified before several committees involved with the impeachment process today, and while his testimony left some Democrats white-faced and shaking in shock, and some of them, plus all the Republicans, stony-faced and visibly angry, what we do know comes from his fifteen page opening statement, which leaked about an hour after the testimony (nearly ten hours!) began.

Taylor’s statement, buttressed by meticulous contemporaneous records and backed by phone logs and minutes of some meetings, removed any possible doubt that Trump wanted a quid pro quo; swapping military and other support for the Ukraine (all support of any kind, it turns out) but only on the condition that Ukraine open an investigation into Hunter Biden, and whether his father, Joe, benefited in any way, or acted improperly.

The most striking thing about Taylor’s opening statement was not only that Trump, through his wiseguys, Guiliani, Barr, Rick Perry, Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, and special envoy to the Ukraine Kurt Volker, wanted this investigation, but that he, Trump, wanted President Zelenskiy to announce to American media that Biden and his son were under investigation.

Normally, requests for investigations such as possible corruption are done secretly. You don’t want to tip the suspect(s) or their cohorts. You don’t want to (possibly) embarrass the host country. You want to protect your assets there who brought you the incriminating evidence in the first place.

You don’t demand an investigation be announced to the US audience (CNN was supposed to be the vehicle for this) unless you have one aim and one aim only: you want to embarrass and throw a cloud of suspicion over the targets of the investigation.

Given his ethics, the only interest Trump could possibly have in investigating corruption is to see if there are any new scams for him to try. The notion of Trump fighting corruption is right up there with Tony Soprano fighting organized crime.

So: Quid Pro Quo. Check. Political considerations. Check. Illegal withholding of funds. Check. Three strikes, you’re out, Donnie.

I heard a Republican today say that the party wouldn’t fabricate fake scandals against political opponents in order to embarrass them and make it difficult for them to function. I hope his relatives are looking into nursing homes.

Speaking of which, remember “her emails”? Huge scandal from 2011 through yesterday. Probably cost Clinton the election, especially after that idiot FBI director, the feckless James Comey, blew up a chunk of her support by announcing that they may have to widen their investigation of the emails based on never-presented evidence. Polls suggest Clinton lost four points of support as a result of that. That made the races in some states close enough that Trump and the Republicans could steal the White House. Hillary still won the popular vote, but in a system rigged by slave owners and fostered by neofascist authoritarians, she lost the Electoral vote.

Well, they finally closed the case on the emails today. No deliberate malfeasance by Clinton. Absolved. Not a word uttered about how of the three Secretaries of State ALSO used mail on private servers, and many members of Trump’s chaotic administration, since. At least one CNN reporter said he regretted the overemphasis he placed on that story in 2016. Thanks, asshole. Now go learn how to be a journalist. They have schools for that.

And again, speaking of which…

This week we’ve been hearing about how Hillary called Tulsi Gabbard a Russian agent. Gabbard started out as a darling of the left, but then she spouted a whole bunch of anti-gay nonsense, and it became clear that her politics were pretty incoherent outside of withdrawing all US troops world-wide, a position popular with unilaterialists and Russian trolls.

Except Hillary didn’t call her a Russian agent. She simply said that a female candidate amongst the Democrats was being groomed by the Russians to run as a spoiler third-party candidate in the general election to help Trump.

Gabbard, not the sharpest object in the sock drawer, immediately assumed Clinton was talking about her and blew up. “The guilty flee…”? I dunno. Personally, I just think she’s a dope who has no business in politics. But she sure acted as guilty as Trump to some indirect prodding from a retired politician.

Except it turns out Clinton didn’t say anyone was being groomed by the Russians. The New York Times, former journalistic endeavor, made an “oops, we screwed up” announcement today, eight days later: Clinton didn’t say anyone was being groomed by the Russians. She said someone was being groomed by the Republicans.

Now, you could argue that these days that’s a distinction without a difference, and I wouldn’t strain myself to argue the point. The GOP is top-heavy with Russian stooges, that’s for sure. But it isn’t an accurate description of what Hillary said.

Maybe the Times decided to dress it up a bit, make it more lurid, sound like something the eeevviill conniving emailing Hillary SHOULD have said. I don’t know. Maybe the New York Times is just impossibly incompetent, and need eight days to figure out they used one proper noun when they should have used another proper noun. Tomorrow’s headline might read, “Former Ukraine envoy testifies President Carter pressured with Quid Pro Quo.” What’s in a name, right?

I’m not a fan of Clinton, I don’t like her policies. But I don’t turn into a Republican at the mere mention of her name, and neither should any one else. She isn’t evil incarnate, and she’s no more a warmonger than any average American. I would remonstrate that the Times should do better, but I’m not sure they could be arsed.

Meanwhile, that head of the festering nihilism of the American right, Donald Trump, is about to fall, thanks to Bill Taylor. Savor the moment.

Barr versus God versus America – Nobody wins

Barr versus God versus America

Nobody wins

October 20th 2019

Thirty years ago, in the days of BBSes, I had a user who argued strongly for the elimination of a separation of church and state. He trotted out the usual arguments: there is no phrase in the Constitution mentioning any “wall of separation” (true) and that the founders were devout Christians who wanted Jesus to be supreme over the government (false). I countered, mentioning the ‘no religious Test’ language (which he had never heard of) and pointing out quotes by the founders that countered and even derided orthodox Christian belief. I pointed to American history, where, while a long way from serene, it remained free in large part of Christian versus Christian strife, a problem that plagued Europe from the 14th century on as Protestantism arose. Outside of the Nativist riots in Philadelphia in the 1840s, and the “Lord’s Prayer” riots in New York in the 1920’s, open fighting amongst religious factions was rare in America.

As the number of instances I cited which he knew nothing of mounted, he began to develop doubts. This was unusual; most proselytizers by then had left in a huff, declaring me an unclean liberal. I pointed out that for people supposedly spreading godly truths, religious authorities sure left a lot out of their narratives.

Then I told him this: that church and the state were two very different things. The Church saw to spiritual needs, and answered to an authority that brooked no dispute. The State saw to secular needs, and in western democracies, at least, was an endlessly malleable tool of the people and conflicting interests. One represented eternal truths. The other represented an infinite range of open answers. One claimed certainty; the other advanced through uncertainty.

Being so diametrically opposed, it was impossible to blend the two without corrupting both. The fluidity of politics undermines the absolutism of the Church: the rigidity of the church undermines the adaptability of politics. And both are susceptible to the temptations of power; politicians would love to have true believer followers; Churches want to extend their power so they have control over people’s lives outside of church.

No, the fellow I was debating with didn’t stop being a Christian or advocating his theology. He did, however, stop being a Dominionist. He understood why there was a wall, and that both Church and State benefited from that wall, and the rest of us from the depredations of a combined Church and State.

There were two things in the news this week that reminded me of that long ago conversation.

First was an extraordinary speech that William Barr gave at Notre Dame. Barr, purported Attorney-General, Opus Dei and Trump Thug blamed “modern secularists” for inflicting a “moral pathology” on America which lead to drug abuse, rising suicide rates and illegitimacy. (All of which are at their worst levels in the so-called ‘Bible Belt’). He went on to claim ‘secularists’ (presumably anyone who is not conservative Catholic) were engaged in “organized destruction” of everything that is good and holy in America, Donald Trump in particular. Yes, he claims Donald Trump is godly.

As if we needed further evidence that mixing church and state degrades both. The nation’s top cop feels that the 96% of Americans who aren’t conservative Catholic are moral scum; he also considers that prime example of moral scum, Donald Trump, to be godly.

The other story to catch my attention was the Pew Poll on religion in America. This isn’t the big decennial poll—that’s five years off. But they do smaller polls of the state of religiosity in America every year, and this years highlighted a growing trend: Christianity is in decline, while ‘no religion’ is on the rise. Twenty two percent of Americans have no religion (roughly a third of whom are either atheist or agnostic) and self-described Christians make up about 70% of the population, down from 78% in 2007. The non-believers crowd was about 16% in 2007. About half of that change occurred since Trump took office.

Largest decline was amongst Evangelical Protestants. While many may be repulsed by their corner’s blind adoration of the vile and amoral Trump, wouldn’t it be more in line for them simply to go to a different branch of Christianity, one that didn’t sell out its principles for an allegiance with Trump? The poll suggests that isn’t what’s happening, because while numbers punish the evangelicals more the the rest, it’s because they are a bigger part of Christianity in America. The percentage of each type of Christianity abandoning their faith is remarkably consistent. Dominionists and Unitarians are both losing members, even though they are very nearly opposites in belief and relation to secular power.

So even as the Catholic Church and the GOP are having fun degrading one another and America, something ELSE is going on.

I suspect that that three decade-old conversation I had is something that has become more and more common around the web, and more and more, true believers are encountering harsh realities that prove their faith is based on belief but not supported by facts; not just the relatively mild element of separation of church and state, but over bible literalism versus the actual world. More and more Christians find themselves uncomfortable with denying that evolution is real, or that climate change is occurring, or that they have a hammerlock on emotional and moral stability. Every day on the web, they encounter items that prove that their beliefs, based supposedly on immutable truths, are false.

My conversation was unusual, as noted, because the guy was willing to listen, and wonder. Others took longer. But now, with such knowledge universally available, and more and more undeniable, people are realizing that theocracy has let them down. And worse, the government of the United States has embraced a toxic form of Christianity to its own ends, making the argument for separation of church and state irrefutable.

Expect this trend to continue. But also expect increasing tides of reactionaryism against this trend. Trouble looms.

Impeachment Barriers

Some Dragons are Imaginary

October 13th, 2019

There’s a lot of concern among the talking heads who aren’t just poseurs from the far right about why impeachment simply cannot get rid of the pestilence in the White House because it’s never succeeded before. Similarly, there is endless speculation about what might happen if Trump is impeached, convicted by the Senate, and refuses to leave.

Some of the concerns are well-founded, and some are grave enough that they need to be considered seriously. The coming impeachment is going to be a very tense and dangerous time for the country and anyone who says they know what’s going to happen is lying to you.

However, there is no acceptable solution that allows Trump to remain in office. He himself is the gravest and most immediate danger the country faces, and his behavior and words show that he has absolutely no compunction about sacrificing the country and the people therein to his own desires.

Yes, kicking him out is dangerous. So dangerous that the only thing more dangerous is allowing him to stay.

We’ve already passed a few of the ‘insurmountables’ that people said made impeachment a pipe dream. As recently as a month ago, only a dozen or so Democrats were willing to say publicly that they favored an impeachment inquiry, and it was ‘conventional wisdom’ that with the Republicans united and the Democrats divided, the impeachment process in the House could not begin. Obviously, that has changed, with only a few Democrats silent on the impeachment process, and disarray growing rapidly in the Republican ranks.

Another argument was that the public would never go for it. It wasn’t baseless: as recently as two weeks before he resigned, Nixon enjoyed 50+ favorable ratings, higher than any Trump has seen since he took office. The day he was impeached, Bill Clinton’s approval rating rose to 73%. It’s safe to assume Andrew Johnson’s impeachment was deeply unpopular, even though Johnson himself was unpopular. Johnson and Clinton were both impeached for political purposes, and the public knew that, and detested Congress’ abuse of its power to impeach. In the case of Nixon, when the “smoking gun” tape was released, his support, both in Congress and the public, collapsed, and only his resignation prevented a full-on impeachment and trial which he would have surely lost.

The scandal with the Ukraine, as manifestly, obviously criminal as it was, is just one of many smoking guns. Trump, after all, admitted he did it, and offered the defense that it’s not illegal when the president does it. That defense didn’t work for Nixon, and it won’t work here.

However, there are at least two dozen other criminal acts where any competent district attorney would have little or no reason to avoid taking to trial, based just on the available evidence. At least some of the crimes involve bribery, one of two specific crimes deemed impeachable in the Constitution. The other is ‘treason,’ and while he technically can’t be guilty of that as the United States is not formally at war with anyone, he is still committing actions to the detriment of the country, and in some instances, it can be shown that he did so for personal gain, or to cozy up to other authoritarians at the expense of Americans. This week’s nightmare decision by Trump to allow the Turks to invade Syria and massacre the Kurds has a lot more people questioning Trump’s patriotism than there were last week.

Another objection is that McConnell would prevent a Senate vote on the impeachment evidence. That’s not likely since the Senate MUST hold a trial for findings of impeachable crimes by the House. No wriggle room there, and McConnell may be bent, but he isn’t stupid. The public is watching, the evidence is overwhelming, and the blowback would destroy him and his party. Nor does he have the option of holding a farce process; Chief Justice John Roberts will be presiding, and unlike most of the Republican appointees of late, he seems determined to be a justice first and a member of the Heritage Society second. He’s certainly no liberal, and will vote for corporate interests every time, but he’s not a hack. He isn’t going to let McConnell make him look like an ineffectual clown. And with cracks already showing amongst once-solid Republican ranks, the flood of testimony and evidence should make it impossible for the Senators to stand and vote on a kangaroo trial. Many of them have already figured out that the only thing worse than having Trump as an enemy is having Trump as an ally.

People think the courts will protect Trump. But thus far, he has lost every single court battle relating to investigations into his possible criminality. Every single one. And at the final level, the Supreme Court, while Alito, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and Thomas are GOP hacks, the rest aren’t—including, critically, John Roberts. And even Alito and Gorsuch might concede that Trump does not have a valid defense in his appeal. At the very worst, they understand that a blatantly political decision would permanently damage the Court. It’s still trying to recover from Bush vs. Gore.

Most dictators are astute enough to keep their corruption as hidden as possible. Trump couldn’t be bothered with such sublime considerations, and it puts his supporters more and more in the position of appearing corrupt themselves just by blindly supporting him. Republicans know they can’t get away with much trying to protect Trump now, and with each passing day, Trump gives them fewer and fewer reasons why they should protect him.

Trump has already suggested that the Democrats might spark a civil war by persecuting him. Most people took that as a dog-whistle to both the military and his loonier cult followers. While there are a lot of Dominionists and other ultra-righties in the military, it’s not a given that they would take Trump’s side to spark a civil war. While he may be their Commander in Chief, an order to round up his political foes and falsely detain them would be an unlawful order (the technical term is ‘lynching’). In a more practical stance, those members of the military (hopefully a small minority) who dream of staging a military coup to rid the nation of goddless librul commies might reconsider the wisdom of such if it meant Trump would be dictator-for-life.

Among patriotic members of the military, this week’s misadventures with Syria and the Turks and the subsequent slaughter of Kurds destroyed any illusions of Trump’s concern for the national welfare. The deliberate targeting of American troops by the Turks, led to an ignominious retreat by the US military and the abandonment of their allies, the Kurds. It didn’t help that Trump snorted disparagingly that the Kurds weren’t our allies in World War 2. They were, in fact, and played a key role in keeping Hitler from invading the oil fields in the middle east. The Turks, however, were not.

It was a disgraceful moment for America and America’s military, and the most likely motive was that Trump wanted to do Turkish despot Erdogan a solid in order to protect business interests he had in Turkey.

So no, the military isn’t likely to go to war against America on Trump’s behalf.

That leaves Trump’s more lunatic followers. Yes, they are a danger. But to be an effective danger, they would need to form a Resistance to back their terror cells, and a Resistance requires widespread popular support, and that just isn’t there. A lot of his support remains loyal Americans who want to support the GOP, and he’s making it harder and harder for that to remain a tenable position. Few of them are willing to kill or be killed by their countrymen in the name of Trump.

As I said at the start, these are very dangerous times. There’s always a bugger factor. America is weak and divided right now, and that could pose an invite to unfriendly interests abroad. Trump, knowingly or not, could stumble us into a major war. A natural catastrophe could persuade the nation to put politics aside, wisely or not. There’s a million things. I just gave opinions on a half dozen of the most likely scenarios.

Meanwhile, keep a close eye on the news, and be ready to jump.

Paging Jaime Lannister – GOP realizes Trump is a liability

October 10th, 2019

CNN’s Don Lemon was trying to figure out why Republicans were so gleeful in their ignorance of just how deep and profound the huge scandal surrounding Trump really was, and their willingness to dismiss it as just a propaganda conspiracy. “Well, I wanted to ask, as I see the apologists for the president, especially on conservative media, they seem gleeful in their ignorance,” Lemon said. “What is so gleeful about being ignorant or about misleading the public?”

Mainstream media keep trying to pretend Republicans are a normal political party. They aren’t, haven’t been for years. They’re a cult, a cult that has finally found its god-figure. Since they are cultists, they consider anything said against their leader to be lies from non-believers, and they take pride in the faith and strength they show in ignoring the siren call of the atheistic nonbelievers. The ignorance is real, if wilful, and the “glee” is the calm belief that they are doing what it takes to get to the promised land. In Trump We Trust, assholes.

Trump obviously believes he can lie his way out of anything, anything at all. To give you a (relatively) minor example of his utter cynical depravity, he quietly instigated a policy of not renewing temporary visas for kids here for life-saving medicine. Most of the kids would not get the care they needed at home, and many of them would die in short order. The story went public on the Rachel Maddow show, and after a stunned silence of several days as an incredulous media had to convince itself this was really happening, the story exploded in the face of the administration.

After a few days of increasing public outrage, some Trump flack announced the policy was rescinded, and Trump wouldn’t be sending a bunch of sick kids to their deaths. Ah, but that was then.

Tonight, we have learned that the Trump administration hasn’t taken back the deportation orders and yes, some kids will be sent home to die in the next week. Rather than revoke a senselessly cruel policy that in no way benefited America, the administration decided to simply lie to America about it. It’s Hitlerian in its viciousness and bigotry.

Try telling this to a Trump supporter, and you’ll be doing well if you can convince him that Trump would ever do anything that might hurt children, and this was certainly some policy dreamed up by Obama or Clinton that they tried to blame on Trump when it blew up in their faces. And they’ll believe every word they are saying. Trump is next to Jesus, you know.

Some clown on Faux News today referred to the impeachment process as a “regicide”, a description ridiculous on the face of it. Still, it doubtlessly gave Jaime Lannister a bump in the polls. Along with Tyrion, Cercei, Anya, and Jaime (who killed a second king in the penultimate episode, albeit a rather small one). They should start a new TV show: S*M*A*S*H, with a theme song that begins, “Regicide is painless…” Well, I told you it was ridiculous, didn’t I?

The Republican Party, the most pathetic pack of cowards in the history of America, have done all they can to sustain Trump, no matter how stupid, hurtful, or dangerous to the country he becomes. They’ve abandoned what scant principles they had to become Trump’s enablers as they continue to frantically pack the courts and eliminate most changes made since 1932 in grim hopes of sustaining a white nationalist society. Trump never existed in a vacuum. He was supported by the leaders of the GOP, creatures as broken and twisted as he is.

But Trump’s genocidal betrayal of the Kurds may be the breaking point amongst those Republicans who, while consumed by greed and corruption, are still technically sane. The Kurds were our allies, and did a lot to contain ISIS. And Turkey, which has form on committing genocide, has one of the vilest and most contemptible dictators this side of Trumpistan, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Dozens of Republicans Congressionals have openly blasted Trump for inviting the Turks to go in and murder lots of people.

Trump patiently explained that he would do more than sanctions against Turkey if they didn’t conduct their genocide in a humane manner, which is usually enough to make the strutting bought-out whores of the GOP settle back down amidst their bags of money and mutter, “Well, that’s OK, then.” Doesn’t seem to be working this time.

No, the Republicans haven’t suddenly grown a set of principles and ethics. Such things are about as useful to Republicans as a set of tits on a bulldozer. But they have their favorite political weapon which they have brought to bear on Pissmop: Moral outrage. Endless, sanctimonious, hypocritical and totally phony moral outrage. The same that they used without letting up ever against Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and pretty much everyone who wasn’t a Republican.

It’s strange seeing them condemn a Republican president. After all, these are the same pearl-clutchers who whine endlessly about Monica Lewinsky while ignoring serial adulturers such as Eisenhower, Reagan and Gingrich. Democrats are the party of “tax and spend” even as 8 out of every 9 dollars in the national debt comes from Republican policies and misadventures, and for most of us, taxes have risen because they shifted the tax burden from the richest one percent to the middle class—and whine on and on about the lucky duckies who are broke and homeless and get to pay no taxes.

But they aren’t politically blind. They realize that Trump finally managed to crack the Kevlar Kurtain that protected him from fallout from his endless scandals and braggadocio with the Ukraine scandal, and that he has now become a serious political liability. The Blue Wave of 2016 was the writing on the wall; now the mob is approaching those broken barricades and the GOP has suddenly realized Trump could destroy them as a political force for generations. Clearly, he must go.

Expect to see shocked revelations from the GOP that they just uncovered evidence that Trump is incompetent, perhaps mad, and why haven’t the Democrats done more to stop him? Do the Democrats have no resolve, no moral backbone? They should have SAID something!

And the GOP will try to get rid of Trump while protecting their own asses, and chances are the Democrats will let them get away with it. And America can then continue its peaceful slide into becoming a vassal state to the rich and the religiously insane.

Pity about all those Kurds dying, though. At least it’s in a good cause.

No, actually, it isn’t. They will die to help provide cover to the most cowardly, heartless political shits in the history of America.