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.

Kava-no-no – The wrong man for the wrong job

September 4th, 2018

The Senate confirmation hearings to place Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court began today. It turned into a circus immediately, with Chairthing Chuck Grassley blowing off Democratic complaints that a 42,000 page document dump, performed late the night before, needed to be examined. Grassley is demanding they use these documents now in their deliberations, while not giving them enough time to even check to make sure the boxes are not just full of New York City telephone books from last year.

Grassley justified the 100,000 other documents withheld on ground of executive privilege on the weird grounds that one or more of them were in video form, and the Senate had never had to deal with such evidence in an SC nomination hearing before. And he refused to entertain a motion to adjourn so members of the committee could look at the new evidence and continue to determine what legal advice he had for the Bush administration on such matters as civil rights, worker rights, abortion and freedom of speech.

William Rivers Pitt observed that Grassley is what happens if your toilet doesn’t flush. The toilet in question is the corrupt and authoritarian Republican Party, which believes it is entitled to impose questionable candidates such as Kavanaugh on us, and not have to put up with any dissent. As a result, we have “hearings” that are on about the same level as Soviet show trials in the 1930s.

The Republicans, tiresome and vicious hypocrites, sat on the nomination of Merrick Garland for over a year, and now say that this nomination has to be rushed through before September 15th, eleven days from now. But they are withholding much of the government records needed to assess Kavanaugh’s stances on vital matters that he may be ruling on for the next four decades. The claim of “executive privilege” is insane, given that Kavanaugh was working for the GW Bush administration, and not for Trump.

His stances on the Constitution and rights in general are enough to suggest opposing his place on the Supreme Court. He strongly favors the rights of corporations and churches over people, and the court is already over-represented by fascists.

But even though that represents legitimate reason to oppose his nomination, it doesn’t disqualify him from the court. One of the greatest weaknesses of a free society is that it gives freedom to those who would work tirelessly to destroy that freedom, and creatures like Scalia and Roberts are part of the cost of freedom. Ideally, they are there to make us stronger. In practice, they make us stronger in much the same way that termites repair homes. But you can’t have freedom without tolerance for such types.

But there is another reason why Kavanaugh must be kept off the court: he is morally and intellectually unfit for the office.

In 2009, Kavanaugh authored a legal thesis entitled “Separation of Powers During the Forty-Fourth Presidency and Beyond.” In it, he wrote, “The decisions a President must make are hard and often life-or-death, the pressure is relentless, the problems arise from all directions, the criticism is unremitting and personal, and at the end of the day only one person is responsible.”

This led him to conclude, “I believe it vital that the President be able to focus on his never-ending tasks with as few distractions as possible. The country wants the President to be ‘one of us’ who bears the same responsibilities of citizenship that all share. But I believe that the President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office.”

Therefore, he now believes that no sitting president should ever have to respond to a summons or indictment on any civil or criminal matter.

It’s easy to see why he would be extremely attractive to Donald Trump, a man neck deep in a vast criminal and civil morass of his own making. He would love to have an automatic vote to dismiss on the Supreme Court.

But Kavanaugh didn’t always feel that way. He was a member of the Starr Chamber during the politically-charged impeachment process against Bill Clinton, and very avidly pursued the persecution, to the point where Kenneth Starr had to draw him back. Among other questions he wanted Clinton asked in order to add to his humiliation were these gems:

“If Monica Lewinsky says that you inserted a cigar into her vagina while you were in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?”

“If Monica Lewinsky says that on several occasions in the Oval Office area, you used your fingers to stimulate her vagina and bring her to orgasm, would she be lying?”

“If Monica Lewinsky says that you masturbated into a trashcan in your secretary’s office, would she [be] lying?”

“If Monica Lewinsky says that you used a cigar as a sexual aid with her in the Oval Office area, would should be lying?” Kavanaugh liked the cigar a lot, it seems. He asked about it twice in ten questions.

He was one of the lead authors of the Starr report, and responsible for its gruesome and loving obsession with the salacious. Kiddies, if you need to know what ‘analingus’ is, just ask your Uncle Brett.

Kavanaugh’s high moral dungeon stemmed from a belief that he thought a president should be impeachable for “lying to his staff and misleading the public.” Neither are criminal acts, by the way. If they were, Trump would already be in jail.

He now claims that his actions above were a mistake, and his cohorts have even offered the explanation that he was sleep-deprived when he wrote the memo.

I can see it now: “Sorry about that SC ruling making Trump Dictator for Life. Brett needs his nappie.”

But Kavanaugh now believes, ““Looking back to the late 1990s, for example, the nation certainly would have been better off if President Clinton could have focused on Osama bin Laden without being distracted by the Paula Jones sexual harassment case and its criminal investigation offshoots.”

OK, it takes a mensch to admit that he’s wrong, but something about this suggests that it wasn’t so much a change of heart as it was a total abandonment of principle, if principle was ever a part of his stance on Presidential liability to begin with. He wanted Clinton to be shamed, attacked and driven from office because Clinton was “lying to his staff and misleading the public.”

OK, that just about describes the Trump presidency in a nutshell. The man is an absolute and inveterate liar. He lies to his staff. He lies to his lawyers. He lies to us. He lies to everyone. With Clinton, it was some personality flaws. With Trump, it is the entirety of his existence.

I can see Kavanaugh changing his stance on immunity, even though I believe the Founders never intended for a President to be above the law, and a nation that holds a president in such regard has no future as a country.

How can any man with integrity or decency migrate from wanting to destroy a man for fibbing about a consensual affair to utterly forgiving a man in advance whose sociopathic and demented antics threaten to destroy the country?

Answer: He cannot.

Kavanaugh is not fit to sit on the court.




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