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

Pre-Denouement

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.

Barrbarian Rhatsophy – Barr belongs in jail—next to Trump

May 2nd 2019

William Barr, career criminal and putative top cop of the country, refused to show up before the House for testimony on the Mueller report today. Some wag on the Democratic side replaced the doughy and misshapen Trump stooge with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was an improvement, insofar as the bucket of chicken at least promised to provide some content.

The Republicans, who have descended below the level of kindergarteners in trouble with the teacher, tried blaming the Democrats for Barr’s refusal to testify. One major moron in waiting, Doug Collins, a Republican of Georgia, opined that “The reason Bill Barr is not here today is because the Democrats decided they did not want him here today.”

See? It was all the Democrats fault! Why, they wanted to ask Barr questions about his contradictions and lies, and to explain why Mueller was so pissed at him. That’s all. I’m sure there were reasonable explanations.

Other Republicans blamed Hillary Clinton because they couldn’t think of anything else to say. After all, it’s not like they would ever force Clinton to testify for 11 hours in response to loaded, ideological and dishonest questions. Given the perfect fairness and civility Republicans showed, is it too much to ask that Barr be given a pass?

Perhaps the best rationale came from the perjurer-in-chief, who is of the opinion that the suspect in a criminal trial should be free to refuse to be questioned by authorities if he felt the questions might be biased against him or cause embarrassment.

OK, fair point. When the LAPD asked Charlie Manson if he stuck a fork in Sharon Tate’s belly, that showed great insensitivity and even some microaggression on the part of the police. Better a mass murderer should be allowed to run free rather than to have to deal with impolite and even overbearing police!

Only an overprivileged moron like Trump could, with his bare face hanging out, demand the right for a suspect in a criminal investigation to determine what questions he might have to answer.

And poor Donald has so many other distractions to deal with. Both his nominees to the Fed imploded over the past couple of days, one because he couldn’t handle his household finances, let alone a world economy, and the other because he was the most stupid fucking bastard this side this side of a pile of dog shit. Indeed, Trump nominees implode with such regularity and to such comic effect that it reminds you of that episode of “Russian Doll” where the protagonist dies a couple of dozen times in the space of five minutes. Or Sideshow Bob with the garden rakes.

Now that the clown rodeo has closed for the day and there’s no longer any doubt that Barr is a criminal Trump stooge, the question arises: what is congress going to do about it? Even Pelosi flat-out called Barr’s actions criminal. Dozens of Democrats want him punished: arrest or impeachment, or both.

Make it march, guys. Arrest the guy. If he quits and thus can’t be impeached, he’s still going to face criminal charges. And Trump is starting to realize that the power of the pardon is a dangerous tool, as witness the fact that even as he was schmoozing with the psychotic murderers of the NRA, and despite Vladimir Putin’s howls of outrage, he was letting Maria Butina rot in jail.

If Congress orders Barr’s arrest for contempt of Congress and perjury before Congress, Trump may not dare intervene.

In fact, Trump being Trump, he’ll probably start calling Barr weak, stupid, fat, and a host of other adjectives, and create an enemy where he had an ally. We’ve seen him do that dozens of times before, with Sessions, Cohen, Manafort, and Ryan. It’s a gift, I tell you.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is threatening to sue to prevent Mueller from testifying before Congress. Think about that: the DoJ appointed Mueller to do exactly what he did, with the intent of giving his report to Congress, and now they are suing themselves to prevent Mueller from giving his report to Congress. It’s the sort of clownery you expect from inept authoritarian regimes, whether Rufus T. Firefly or Donald J. Trump.

Kim & Cohen – Trump didn’t have a chance

March 1st 2019

It’s pretty easy to see how desperate and panicked the Trumpkins in the GOP are by the shrill screams of “liar!” they keep hurling at Michael Cohen. Two of the more prominent whores in Congress, Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, asked the Justice Department to investigate Cohen for perjury, saying he lied during his appearance about his efforts to land a White House job and his work for foreign companies, among other topics. Most Republicans settled for screaming “He lied before! He lied before!” while carefully forgetting to mention that he lied at the behest of Party Leader Donald Trump.

The Republicans all attacked Cohen for attacking Trump. None of them could think of a way of defending Trump against any of the allegations.

Cohen testified today behind closed doors, and the reports leaking out are that his testimony was even more detailed and damning than the testimony he gave in public.

Some of the Trump whelps, Don Junior and Ivanka, may be called it to testify under oath as early as next week. I’m sure fearless leader does not regard that as a happy thought. Maybe he can get Congressmen Gaetz to arrange for them both to have skiing accidents before they appear before the Committee. And yes, I can say something like that: it isn’t a threat, it’s just “witness testing.” (Note to FBI: There’s also the fact that I want the whelps to appear before Congress, preferably in open session.)

Joe Scarborough, not exactly a gleaming bastion of liberalism, had this to say about the pathetic performance of House Republicans: “Republican members of the House Oversight Committee exposed themselves in plain sight…in plain sight…as a political party whose goal, whose purpose and whose central organizing principle…is to cover up for the illegal and immoral misdeeds of Donald J. Trump.” Scarborough considered this a giant step toward political oblivion by the GOP. I hope he’s right. The GOP ceased to be a legitimate political party after the Ford pardon.

In just three sessions, the Democrats uncovered more illegalities and malfeasance on the part of the administration than were found by all the thousands of hours of Congressional time wasted on White Water, Benghazi, the emails, Paula Jones and Monica, combined.

The irony of Republicans attacking Cohen for lying on behalf of Trump wasn’t lost on Cohen, who told them, “Republican members of the House Oversight Committee exposed themselves in plain sight…in plain sight…as a political party whose goal, whose purpose and whose central organizing principle…is to cover up for the illegal and immoral misdeeds of Donald J. Trump.”

This won’t stop the Republicans from their smear efforts, though. They are a party that lives in a world of lies, self-delusion, and the belief they can say anything and get away with it. They can’t even see the pieces of the temple falling around their own heads.

Perhaps the most horrifying thing Cohen said was after the second, public day of testimony: “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” He knows Trump well. He probably knows whereof he speaks.

Trump must never be permitted to be in a position of trying to consolidate power in 2020. He must be gone from office before then.

It’s a deep shame that America must have to rely on the courage and patriotism of Republicans to ensure that. It’s like hoping the sewer rats will save your child from drowning.

Trump went to Vietnam to meet with Kim Jong Un, putatively to lend some credence to the vague and genial almost-agreement made in the first meeting but realistically to try to detract from the damage the Cohen hearings were sure to inflict.

Kim let Trump know that he would be willing to consider partial denuclearization in return for the US dropping all trade and economic sanctions against his country. Even Trump, hungry for any kind of event he could twist into a triumph of some sort, knew that was a non-starter and stalked away from the meeting.

It was, perhaps, the most total and abject humiliation of an American president in any international meeting. It was obvious to everyone that Kim knew exactly what he was doing, and that his intended aim was to humiliate Trump. There was no “misreading of signs” or any of that balderdash: it was deliberate.

Kim wanted to show the world that he could ride the paper tiger named Trump. He sent the seething American president away with the studied indifference of a hiring officer for a large corporation who invites someone to cross the country to apply for a position, only to tell him the job had been filled.

Korean attitudes toward “face” are quite similar to those of the Japanese, and even in South Korea, where people desperately wanted Trump to succeed with the reclusive dictator, respect for Trump all but vanished in the wake of this travesty. Even as they condemn the perfidy of Kim, South Koreans are asking why the American president didn’t come prepared for something like this—it wasn’t like Kim didn’t already have a track record—and counter measures beyond stalking away in a huff as a weak pretense that is was anything other than a shambolic retreat.

Trump went in needing a big, splashy win against a man whose record for bad-faith dealing and viciousness are about as bad as…well, Trump’s. But Trump was in the position of supplicant. Kim had nothing to lose from blowing up the talks. Trump had everything to lose.

China and the Japanese were secretly laughing and shaking their heads in disbelief. And 6,000 miles to the west, Putin was watching his morning news and smiling. America was weakened further.

Of course, it didn’t help that, in an effort by Trump to ingratiate himself with the North Korean dictator, he absolved Kim of any responsibility for the torture and subsequent death of the US student Otto Warmbier in a North Korean prison. Even Republicans were outraged by that.

And the great unraveling of the Trump regime continues.

Barr None – He hit all the right notes, but…

January 15th, 2019

I watched the William Barr hearing this morning, and came away with mixed feelings. He hit all the right notes, vowing not to interfere with the Mueller investigation (but not swearing to recuse himself) and agreeing that the investigation was valid and important and needed to continue.

He agreed that a primary role of the DoJ was to prevent foreign interference in US elections, but undercut it by saying that Russia “appeared to interfere” in the 2016 election. That’s a bit like saying Boston appeared to have won the 2018 World Series. The equivocation is pointless, and leaves one with the unsettling feeling that Barr doesn’t really understand the nature of the investigations against Trump. At best, that’s what he doesn’t understand.

He also had a weird equivocation about the Emoluments Clause, appearing uncertain as to whether it could pertain to Trump. It reads, “And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” An emolument is “profit, salary, or fees from office or employment; compensation for services: Tips are an emolument in addition to wages.” OK, Trump is holding an office of trust, and is getting gifts and kickbacks from a variety of foreign states. Seems pretty straightforward. And it would be insane to pretend that presidents are above the law on conflicts of interest, bribery, self-dealing or misuse of office for profit. All of which Trump is demonstrably guilty of.

The Founders wanted a chief administrator, not a Divine Right King.

That a former Attorney General and lifelong Constitutional lawyer would profess uncertainty about this is troubling. At best, it’s disingenuous.

Barr also equivocated on whether he would allow Mueller to indict Trump. This, too, is troubling, since on a previous occasion he interfered with an investigation that would quite possibly have led to indictments of then-President George Bush and former President Ronald Reagan. As reported here:

Mr. Mueller indicated to Mr. Rivera and to me as well that they would prefer that our indictment — that we work aggressively on it as much as possible… I received a phone call a little bit before noon on August 22 from Denis Saylor who indicated to me that I was directed not to return the BCCI indictment. And I asked who was directing me not to return it, and he said Attorney General William Barr…” (US Atty Lehtinen)

As Robert Mueller III, the Assistant Attorney General at the Justice Department now in charge of the BCCI investigation, testified in October, 1991: BCCI was not an ordinary bank. It was set up deliberately to avoid centralized regulatory review, and operated extensively in bank secrecy jurisdictions. Its affairs are extraordinarily complex. Its offers were sophisticated international bankers whose apparent objective was to keep their affairs secret, to commit fraud on a massive scale, and to avoid detection” (“The BCCI Affair A Report to the Committee on Foreign RelationsUnited States Senate by Senator John Kerry and Senator Hank BrownDecember 1992“) https://archive.org/stream/TheBCCIAffair/The-BCCI-Affair_djvu.txt

It’s important to remember that in 1991-2, Barr was a very partisan lawyer, one who helped Bush write a series of last-minute pardons that effectively destroyed the Iran-Contra investigation, something that threatened to throw some 80 members of the Reagan and Bush administrations, including Reagan himself, in jail.

And now he is in a position to potentially short-circuit Mueller again. Yes, this is cause for concern.

It didn’t help that he was mouthing administration talking points on the wall, immigration in general, and indicated a willingness to make marijuana illegal again.

Well, it’s not like Trump was going to appoint a liberal. It couldn’t have been easy, searching someone who combined plausible credentials with the type of selective moral, ethical and legal blindness needed to serve under Trump.

It may be that it doesn’t matter. Mueller is close to end game, and in any event, even if Barr decided to be a Bork and fire or impair Mueller, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee could simply subpoena Mueller’s records and go from there.

It’s possible I’m being unfair. Yes, Barr was a partisan ratbag in 1992 and contributed to the vast amount of damage the corrupt Reagan and Bush regimes did to the country by making their criminals exempt from the law.

But that was 26 years ago. People change, mature, develop some ethics. Sometimes. Perhaps Barr did, and perhaps he was sincere, if overly lawyerly in today’s testimony. Perhaps the equivocations were those of a man used to dotting eyes and crossing tees.

Perhaps. But Barr needs to know this going in: This isn’t the America of 1992. If he, and the GOP, try to evade justice and put themselves outside of legal reach though obstruction and misuse of the pardon, they won’t walk away. America will come after them.

They aren’t free to spit on the country the way they did in 1992. It’s a different world, and people have learned about the nihilism of the far right.

If Barr lied, he will end up in jail.

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