Category Archives: Congress

Hey Congress, Do Something

I just: 

During the goal celebration after he scored in today’s D.C. United-Philadelphia Union match, Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya picked up a pitch-side microphone and said into it,“Hey Congress, do something, now! End gun violence!”

“Congress” isn’t going to do shit. THE DEMOCRATS have been passing bills and urging action since THE DEMOCRATS banned assault weapons in the first goddamn place. Republicans are holding hearings about how anime porn makes you violent or something, this morning, about how mental illness is to blame, like my crazy ass can shoot you with a trigger lock on. Hey Congress. Are you kidding me.

If you want “Congress” to do something, what you really want is REPUBLICANS to do something. To pass the bills in the Senate that Dems have passed in the House. To support the prevention of gun violence through common sense shit like “let us perhaps not give you a gun if you hit your wife” and “until you can legally smoke and be drafted no ammo for you,” like really radical stuff there, chief.

I don’t want to bag on this sportsball fellow who I never heard of until this moment and don’t know at all, because what he’s saying — that “Congress” needs to act — is what he’s been told by our irresponsible, lazy, clueless, cowardly national press, led by the nose by Republican partisans and pundits. “Congress” is the problem, “government” is broken, and once more and for all the marbles BOTH SIDES ARE TO BLAME.

By refusing to name and shame Republicans for this, by perpetuating the myth that somehow our government just magically polarized its own damn self, by never once naming and shaming the assholes who are responsible for every single day of gridlock since 2010 (straining to remember who was president then, and what that might have had to do with this) they’ve made sure that while both sides are not equally at fault, they’re equally blamed.

Shit, even supposedly smart people get this wrong. Jon Stewart came and lambasted “Congress” for not protecting 9/11 first responders, as if Mitch McConnell wasn’t holding up the bill. Every goddamn totebagger on the planet, who listens to NPR and thinks Trump of course is just the worst, will still shake their head and lament the lack of civility and comity in “government” as if the Tea Party rallies never happened.

As if Sarah Palin never said Obama “palled around with terrorists.” As if those Purple Heart Band-Aids appeared by magic.

People get this wrong, and get frustrated and angry at the wrong people, because they’re never told in plain language what the holdup is or who is causing it. They’re enraged at inaction and the perception of paralysis without knowing why there’s no action, no movement. They feel powerless because they can’t exercise power without knowledge, and the information the press could be providing them about who is blocking gun law reform would give them power.

It would also upset some wingnut screamers and Very Reasonable Sensible People, which I guess is what really matters.

For God’s sake, though. Asking “Congress” to do something about this when half of Congress would love to do something about this is just enraging. Half of Congress and 2/3 of the country wants to move on this, and instead of saying, “you could if not for these six people” we’re watching TV shows about how everything is terrible but nothing can ever change.

A.

Final Thoughts About Muellerpalooza

I decided to write a followup to yesterday’s instant analysis post in order to flesh out my thoughts about Muellerpalooza. When I say instant analysis, I mean it. I wrote the post in under 35 minutes with as little reference as possible to what others are saying and thinking. Shorter Adrastos: I try to avoid punditry pollution at all costs. Hence what amounts to a sequel. I’m uncertain if there’s method in my madness or madness in my method. I’ll let you be the judge of that.

On a human level, I feel badly for Bob Mueller this morning. The expectations for both the investigation and the man himself were impossibly high. People hoped he would somehow save us from Trump. That was not his job: he’s a professional prosecutor not a resistance messiah. It was preposterous, indeed delusional, to expect a nearly 75 year old man to be something or someone that he is not. He did what he said he would do.

Upon diving into the pundit pool, I was struck by the age-ism of much of the commentary. Yes, Mueller looked old, tired, and querelous but his performance was hindered by the restrictions placed on him by the DOJ and the format of the hearings. He was repeatedly roasted by Republicans for his inability to answer certain questions when their attorney general is the one who tied his hands. Bill Barr is good at cover-ups in a way that Tricky Dick was not.

Other than Chairman Nadler, Judiciary Committee Democrats were there to be on teevee, not to get at the truth. I had hoped that professional staff would ask most of the questions. They asked none.

The Intelligence Committee hearing was better because members knew the facts and Mueller was both more alert and responsive to their inquiries. Committee Democrats did much less grandstanding and asked fewer questions that they knew would not be answered. They kept it snappy, which was why the second act was better.

Much of the criticism of Mueller involved the dread word optics. Many pundits were upset that Mueller was button-downed and reserved as opposed to flashy. It’s who he is. Many of the same pundits decry politicians for their lack of authenticity. Bob Mueller is a work horse, not a show horse. Anyone who expected impassioned speeches or a Perry Mason moment was kidding themselves.

Too much of the discourse over the Mueller Report has dwelled in cloud cuckoo land. There are villains aplenty but federal prosecutors are not comic book super heroes. Team Mueller’s job was to produce a report within the onerous constraints placed on them by the Justice Department. They did their job to the best of their ability and produced a report that many of their critics have not and will never read. Bob Mueller was never going to go rogue. It’s not who he is.

The discussion of impeachment has been equally fantastic in the original meaning of the word. I am firmly on the record as favoring impeachment but I understand the political calculations of House Democratic leaders, which have little to do with gumption or guts. In 2010, Speaker Pelosi decided that the ACA was worth losing the majority over. In 2019, she does not think that impeachment is worth losing the majority over. I disagree but her calculation is based on cold-blooded logic, not a lack of intestinal fortitude. Repeat after me: real life is NOT like a comic book movie.

Finally, Democrats should never have expected Robert Mueller to save us. That was not his job. He came out of semi-retirement at the age of 73 to serve his country again. We have to save ourselves.

The last word goes to the Beach Boys:

Repeat after me: real life is NOT like a comic book movie.

Instant Analysis: Muellerpalooza

It’s been a long day. The morning show got off to a promising start with Chairman Nadler’s strong opening but the rest of it was muddled. Judiciary Committee Republicans are deeply stupid. In fact, they’re as stupid as Louie Gohmert Piles and Gym Jordan. The latter still insists on not wearing his suit coat. I suspect he thinks he’s dazzling us with his pecs. He is not.

Morning Muellerpalooza was a snoozer. The witness looked tired and out of practice. He reminded me of a once great pitcher who has lost his fastball and is trying to get by on guile and control.  I’m uncertain if his frequent refrain of “can you repeat the question?” is a delaying tactic or a sign that he needs a hearing aid. The man is nearly 75, after all.

Here’s how I summed up Muller’s style on the Tweeter Tube:

Solicitors do the office work whereas barristers try cases. Mueller is not a trial lawyer, he’s a grind who didn’t grind enough this time around. There were times when he looked uncertain about the facts of his case. Holy bad staff work, Batman.

For those of us who have read the report, there was little new in the morning but things were better in the afternoon session chaired by Adam Schiff. He’s one of the best communicators on the current political scene. As much as I hate to say it, Intelligence Committee GOPers are not as stupid as their Judiciary counterparts. It made things less painful.

As to the substance, Mueller confirmed that:

  • DOJ rules against indicting a president made a huge difference to his case.
  • Trump’s written answers were not entirely truthful. The reason they did not subpoena him was two-fold: time constraints and the fact that they had sufficient evidence.
  • Russian interference in our electoral process is what really matters. Bobby Three Sticks was actually animated when discussing it.
  • He does NOT take politics into consideration when hiring people. For Mueller, it’s about competence, not ideology. Holy crap, I just quoted Dukakis. A 1988 flashback is invariably a bad trip, man.

The hearings were neither a triumph nor a disaster. The “optics” weren’t great but the fact that Mueller stayed above the fray was a major plus as was his insistence that this investigation is not a witch hunt. The only pointy hats I saw in the room were worn by GOPers.

I’m uncertain where we go from here politically. All I know for sure is that I need a nap after arising so early.

A List of Things Mueller Will Not Say Tomorrow

“He’s definitely a criminal.”

“You should impeach him.”

“He deserves to die in federal prison.”

“You have my permission to try to get rid of him.”

“I promise if you do so Reasonable People Like Myself will not get upset in any way.”

“No Republicans will say mean things about you if you just do this the right way.”

I mean honestly: 

Republicans, with their control of the Senate, could protect Trump if Democrats in the House were to impeach him.

In fact, Trump and supporters have sometimes seemed to goad their opponents in the House to proceed with impeachment, confident the effort would ultimately fail to oust the president. A fizzled attempt would amount to another inoculation for Trump, in this view, and a rebuke to Pelosi.

These are the positions on the battlefield as Mueller enters. Will his appearance on Wednesday alter them?

I think we are quite possibly putting a lot of pressure on Robert Mueller that is not his to carry, and I say this rooting quite firmly for him to say all those things up there ending each one with “motherfucker.” If there’s anything about the past 20 years of Republicans I’ve learned it’s that nobody should put money on them discovering either shame or responsibility no matter what gets said in a hearing room. Richard Clarke put paid to that. Shit, Gerald Ford put paid to that.

We should also dispense with the idea that anything Mueller’s going to say will cause anyone in the national press to do anything differently. They’re going to report that there is one side that says this about what Mueller said, and one side that says another, and they will pat themselves on the backs for not letting Democracy Die in Darkness and then all go drink together. There’s not gonna be anything big enough, like Mueller could get up there tomorrow and say that he witnessed Donald Trump murder people in the Oval and we’d still have to hear WHAT ABOUT TED KENNEDY HUH? like idiots. This is our portion of the suffering.

So, given those fucking givens, what are we left with? Same thing we’ve always got. Fight ’em any way we have to until we can’t. We can keep calling Nancy to impeach the sumbitch and we can keep putting our bodies in the streets every day and we can keep blockading the doors of ICE HQ and we can keep pounding every drum we have but we can’t make this happen without making it happen.

Let’s not expect Robert Mueller to make it any easier tomorrow. How in God’s name is he supposed to? He did his job. He provided the report, he did the investigation, that Nancy is scared and Mitch is a treasonous turtle fuck is not his burden to carry. He’s not gonna save us. We were only ever gonna save ourselves.

A.

Impeach the Cabinet First

Starting with Elaine: 

According to the Politico report, questions about ethical conflicts center on the number of grants DOT has approved for projects in Kentucky, many of which could benefit McConnell politically as he hits the campaign trail for his 2020 reelection bid in the southern state.

Chao has helped greenlight at least $78 million in grants for construction projects in Kentucky, Doherty and Snyder write. Additionally, she helped designate a special go-between that worked with McConnell’s office on Kentucky-related projects:

It’s a win-win-win scenario: Mitch has to defend his wife’s double-dealing instead of running for re-election, she IS ACTUALLY AWFUL, and it doesn’t have the baggage presidential impeachment has. She’s an actual confirmed secretary and not some “acting” schlub who got shoved in there when the real guy got am-scrayed.

Like here’s the thing with yelling at Nancy to impeach Trump. Shit, she needs to, because the only thing a bully understands is a good hard punch to the face (AOC and Omar and Tlaib and Pressley get this, btw), but it’s not her only option.

She can censure him every day. She can impeach his entire cabinet starting with Mrs. Turtle up there. It’s a target-rich environment and Trump’s not the only Chaotic Evil to hit. Take them out one by one and the GOP has to scramble to defend them all instead of focusing on OUR GLORIOUS PRESIDENT like they are now.

A.

This Matters More Than Trump

Look, I want Trump out on his ear, more than almost anything, and this is that almost: 

(CNN)Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot who rose to national prominence last year in her failed campaign for Congress against Republican Andy Barr, is turning her sights on a new target: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In a three-minute video released Tuesday, McGrath said McConnell has “bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise.”
“I’m running for Senate because it shouldn’t be like this,” McGrath added.
McGrath’s candidacy marks a significant recruiting coup for Democrats. She emerged as an unlikely fundraising juggernaut in her congressional race, bringing in millions of dollars after her campaign released a biographical video that went viral, and becoming a Democratic celebrity in the process.

Without Mitch and his merry band of blithering buttlicks in the Senate Trump is powerless. He’s irrelevant. He’s a TV buffoon again. His fellow Republicans scatter without Mitch to threaten and cajole and hold them all in line. They become vulnerable to persuasion. They’re allowed to fracture. They start to eat their own and I want nothing more than to sharpen the cutlery and set the damn table.

Every dollar spent by all but maybe four of the current Dem candidates trying to kick Trump out of office would be far better spent flipping the Senate and unemploying this condescending, brutal, condom-necked one-man argument for term limits and it would be a delicious form of revenge for the Supreme Court seat he stole.

#DumpMitch, mofos.

A.

What Can You Do?

Children are dying in our camps: 

The purpose of the quote, from the commissioner’s point of view, was to establish that the Border Patrol has no choice about this. There are too many migrants for the existing system, at existing funding levels, to detain the children in safe, uncrowded conditions.

What Sanders was describing, however, was a choice. If the law requires the Border Patrol to detain migrants in safe and clean conditions, and if it is impossible to provide safe and clean conditions with current funding and current facilities, then the Border Patrol can let the migrants go.

The law that says the migrants must be detained is no more binding than the law that says people must be kept in humane conditions. The question is which part of the law the Border Patrol will ignore: the part of the law that is killing children, or the part of the law that would allow the children to live.

Before we begin: No, Democrats are NOT complicit in this for not stopping it, they are NOT just as bad as Trump for not stopping it. That’s some hysterical victim-blaming bullshit designed to stoke “no difference between the parties” nonsense in advance of the election and I’m seeing way too many smart people falling for it and repeating it online. Knock it off. If you think for one hot second President Hillary would be building kiddie concentration camps at the border you need all kitchen implements removed from your vicinity immediately. For your own safety. Butter knives included.

HOWEVER.

Not enough is being done to stop this.

I don’t mean impeachment. I mean STOPPING THIS.

I mean, what can honestly be done? Can you barricade the doors? This is state-sponsored murder and you are the state, can you walk up to the guards who are holding rifles and stand there until they stand down? Can you pull a Tiananmen Square? How does any of this work? We know where most of these facilities are, where the children are. What would it take to free them?

We muster the might of nations for a baby fallen down a well, for miners trapped in a cave, we have round-the-clock coverage and infographics and analyses and everyone thinks, what can I do to help? And we can’t get these children out of their child prison camp and settle them with their families? What would it take? A march? A barricade? Another thousand thousand lawsuits? How do you get the children out before more of them die? Before all of them die?

Maybe there is no way, but I refuse. I refuse to believe there’s no way. “There’s no way” is something you say when you don’t want to do anything and we can’t not want to do anything.

I don’t know if any of that would work. I don’t know how much of that is even legal. And I don’t fucking much care either way because holding hearings and passing bills and talking to people about health care is not ending the goddamn child concentration camps where baby prisoners live in filth.

The Republican obstruction of the past 15 years has had the effect of conditioning us to expect that nothing will be done about anything. The GOP domination of the news has made us used to the idea that government is bad and dumb and broken and can’t address problems it is specifically designed to address. We’ve come to expect paralysis from one another and so we’ve come to excuse it in ourselves: There’s nothing we could do.

Except that’s almost never really true.

There’s nothing we could do without inconveniencing ourselves. There’s nothing we could do without upsetting someone. There’s nothing we could do without potentially doing the wrong thing, or getting in over our heads, or etc etc etc. But there’s always something. As long as we’re alive there’s something.

So what is it? What’s the thing that will stop this not in 8 months when the number of dead children doubles but right now today? And then can we yell at Democrats until they do that thing? I’ve got stacks of blank postcards, let’s go.

A.

Everything Pretty Much Does Suck, Actually

Serwer:

Black Americans did not abandon liberal democracy because of slavery, Jim Crow, and the systematic destruction of whatever wealth they managed to accumulate; instead they took up arms in two world wars to defend it. Japanese Americans did not reject liberal democracy because of internment or the racist humiliation of Asian exclusion; they risked life and limb to preserve it. Latinos did not abandon liberal democracy because of “Operation Wetback,” or Proposition 187, or because of a man who won a presidential election on the strength of his hostility toward Latino immigrants. Gay, lesbian, and trans Americans did not abandon liberal democracy over decades of discrimination and abandonment in the face of an epidemic. This is, in part, because doing so would be tantamount to giving the state permission to destroy them, a thought so foreign to these defenders of the supposedly endangered religious right that the possibility has not even occurred to them. But it is also because of a peculiar irony of American history: The American creed has no more devoted adherents than those who have been historically denied its promises, and no more fair-weather friends than those who have taken them for granted.

The camps, and that’s what they are, camps:

I don’t have any answers anymore. I don’t have any more words. Maybe telling you all that will help me come up with some.

Not that that’s like at the top of the list of anybody’s problems, but if you’re coming here for me to tell you what to do, I can’t do it. Maybe I never should have. Because we fought and fought and fought and I sympathize profoundly with those who are asking what the fucking bloody hell for, right now.

Jesus Christ, if I have to listen to one more internet bro yell at liberals for not fighting, yell at the American people for not fighting … 3 million more of us than there are of those assholes tried to fight, and between voter suppression and gerrymandering and plain old slavery-curious electoral abuses it wasn’t enough. How insane is that, it wasn’t enough. Don’t tell me people didn’t fight.

Women told you and people of color told you and you’re out here all WHY DON’T WE STAND UP motherfucker … we did stand up. And we’re still standing up, and we’re still fucking losing, and we’re not gonna stop losing until Mitch and all his fellow GOP senators are unemployed so unless we’re talking about that I’m about done hearing that we’re losing the wrong way.

I’m sick of hearing comparisons to Hong Kong and exhortations for mass protest. We did that, too. I spent last summer every night and weekend in the goddamn streets, don’t tell me people didn’t protest and fight. People are outside the White House every night if you’re looking for a protest or a focal point for your rage. Should there be a national march on Washington? Probably, but then cometh a thousand of the same fucking bros telling us that protests are silly and pussy hats are embarrassing and all that money should go to progressive candidates, there’s no way to win here, no way to satisfy our own poisonous version of the 101st Chairborne, the people who always have a plan. I don’t have a plan.

And no, I don’t know if Nancy Pelosi does or not, but nihilistic bullshit doesn’t help us there. Every hearing house Dems have held, every fiery speech given on the campaign trail, every MR. PRESIDENT HAVE YOU NO DIGNITY SIR moment that has happened and they happen DAILY are covered by jack and his brother network dick because Democrats doing something right isn’t a narrative anyone’s willing to work with. Not even our allies; Jesus, that Jon Stewart thing that went around, calling on “Congress” as though it’s Democrats who are holding up help for 9/11 first responders.

A pox on all our houses, is the best we can hope for, never mind one house is a little run down while the other one is infested with bedbugs and also on fire.

The only people I’ve seen doing anything right are working through the states, on a scale small enough to make a difference. Moms Demand is getting gun laws signed even by Republican governors. Local abortion funds, local incarceration reform efforts … I know it feels like nothing’s happening but nothing breaking through doesn’t mean nothing’s happening. The same people who always fought are fighting. I don’t know how we get them to critical mass. I don’t think anyone who wants that even knows what it looks like. The Parkland students came closest.

I’m rambling, I know, but a friend texted me yesterday morning asking what do we do, and … we raised money for food pantries and libraries and gutted a house and saved some pelicans and filled a classroom in Alaska with LEGOs and wrote to our reps and senators and protested and voted and … what would make the most difference right now? I don’t want to tell you to throw bricks through windows if I’m not willing to pick one up myself so I’m asking. I don’t know.

A.

The Middle Exists. Compromise Exists.

The middle is actually the middle of the Democratic Party. And compromise needs to happen within that party. And actually we only need that party, because the other party is consumed by the need to constantly throw poo: 

Democratic legislators know that Pritzker will have their backs should any of this spring session’s votes haunt them in the next campaign cycle. He has enough money under his couch cushions to fund their campaigns.

Pritzker also truly believes in this stuff. Where others settled for tiny increases in the minimum wage, Pritzker is nearly doubling it. When his most recent Democratic predecessors either rejected income tax hikes or insisted they be “temporary,” Pritzker went all out and proposed permanently raising taxes on the top 3 percent of earners. Gov. Pat Quinn reluctantly signed a way too restrictive medical marijuana bill into law. Pritzker enthusiastically pushed for legalization.

This much change this quickly can frighten people. So, we’ll see what the future holds. But for now, the governor and his supporters can bask in a bit of glory.

Summary for the uninitiated: Illinois was a clusterfuck for four years under Bruce Rauner, then elected a Democratic governor and whole lot more Democratic representatives, who then proceeded to do popular things. Wild times.

I’ve been saying for years that Republicans don’t need to be saved. AMERICA badly needs to be saved, but the Republican Party serves no purpose to the Republic unless it chooses to do so and SPOILER ALERT FROM 1954 it ain’t making that choice. Totebagger Nation likes to talk about some imagined glory days when “both sides” could get things done by coming together and reaching across the aisle and compromising and giving each other handies in the cloakroom and such. But you get a lot more done when you simply vote the Republicans out.

We don’t need them in order to run the country. A whole assload of my fellow white liberals have convinced themselves we do, because how else are we going to make sure Butthole, West Virginia and the suburbs of Milwaukee are adequately heard in the halls of power if not by listening sincerely to some mouthbreathing Cletus tell a joint session that Little Golden Books make kids gay. But what if we didn’t owe Cletus-Americans a hearing? What if they get what they get, which is their chosen representative, and nothing else? What if we stop trying to compromise with them and just vote in enough Democrats that they don’t matter?

I am so tired of being told we need to bend over forwards and back to give people who have no interest in governing a shot at government. If a bunch of poo-flinging zoo animals get elected to throw poo, we can respect the wishes of their constituents by acknowledging the animals’ existence but we are not obligated to throw poo. Let them do it in their corner, may it grow smaller by the day.

For those who fetishize centrism, here’s what it actually looks like: Legal but limited abortion rights. Legal but limited gun ownership. Legal but limited immigration. A general reluctance to go to war, but if we get pissed off enough, so be it. People being fed and housed and taught to read and given healthcare in some accessible, imperfect fashion that probably puts too much pressure on them. Welfare for businesses that have 10 employees instead of 100. I dunno, subsidies for art that doesn’t suck.

(I don’t, of course, agree with all of those provisions, but this is about the center, not about me.)

All of that is basically the Democratic Party. There is push and pull within, of course, but that push and pull is the politics of which our media-historian complex is so fond. If what we really want is a politics that compromises and finds the center, fine, but let’s recognize where that center actually is. It isn’t in the cage, all covered in poo.

A.

Courage

Speaker Pelosi has forgotten more about politics than most people will ever know. She’s right to think that impeachment is tricky. It’s unpopular now BUT, like everything else in this mercurial era, that’s subject to change. Public opinion is fluid, not static except for the hardcore rump of Trumpers, which is around 25% of the electorate. Speaker Pelosi is a political genius but even geniuses can be wrong. She *is* wrong about impeachment. It is not just a legal imperative, it is a political one. I think inaction will be more politically damaging in the long run than defending the rule of law against a lawless and illegitimate administration.

Yesterday’s statement by the ultimate G-Man, Robert Mueller, confirmed that the vast majority of the country, let alone members of Congress, have not, and will not, read the report. Despite attempts to make it user friendly, it’s long and detailed and chock full of legal phrases baffling to lay people. That’s not a criticism, it’s a fact. Most people need to see the teevee show, not read a 448 page book. Mueller’s statement was more in the nature of a preview of coming attractions, not the main event.

Mueller said yesterday that he would only testify publicly about the contents of the report itself. That’s fine. Repeat after me: most people have not and will never read the full report. Mueller doesn’t want to testify. Life is full of chores we’d rather not do: I could live without changing the cat box but I do it. I fear the wrath of Della Street and Paul Drake. Who wouldn’t?

If his appearance cannot be negotiated, Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff need to subpoena the  Special Counsel. Unlike the Insult Comedian’s lawless minions, he will comply. It’s time for Bobby Three Sticks to eat his veggies. He can have dessert later.

I disagree with those who say that political considerations should play no role in the impeachment decision. It is an inherently political process. Those calculations increasingly argue FOR, not against, impeachment. Yes, I know, the Senate will not convict as of this writing and the majority is threatening to go straight to a vote and not hold a trial. BUT Democrats are losing the messaging war to Republicans and, worse, look weak. Nancy Smash is not weak but perception is everything in politics. She cannot afford to look weak in these perilous times for our democracy. The president* is terrified of impeachment, when he’s scared, he makes mistakes.

The ground is shifting. The mere fact of Freedom Caucus member Justin Amash’s advocacy of impeachment has made House Democrats look feckless and I give a feck about that. Amash has made cogent arguments in favor of impeachment, which has made the Speaker’s temporizing look weak. He’s obviously read the full report, which is why he came out for impeachment; much like his political antonym, Elizabeth Warren. Repeat after me: most people have not and will never read the full report. They need the teevee show.

At the risk of being repetitive, Nancy Pelosi is not weak but perception is everything in politics. I agree that there are risks involved but life is full of risks and impeachment is the only option we have to establish that the Current Occupant is NOT above the law. If he’s impeached and acquitted by the Senate, he’ll brag about it but he’ll have the scarlet letter I seared on his orange forehead. If he’s not impeached, he’ll brag about winning a showdown with Speaker Pelosi. He’s going to brag either way but in one scenario, Democrats look weak,  in the other they’ve stood up for the rule of law.

Perilous times require courage from our leaders. We don’t elect them to do the easy things, we elect them to do the right thing. Trump cannot be allowed to get away with his crimes without facing the music. Nothing scares him more than the possibility of live, televised hearings into his brazen misconduct. Hence the massive resistance to all requests from Congress. If a formal impeachment inquiry is opened, the House will have more legal power to make the Trump regime comply. All it takes is courage. The future of the Republic not only requires courage, it demands it.

Courage.

The Crazy, It Burns

Yesterday was one of those days when the deadly absurdity of the Trump regime got to me. The president* had public meltdowns two days in a row. Speaker Pelosi knows what buttons to push and when to push them. She doesn’t do it so often that the first dolt will figure out what she’s up to, but his inability to deal with a powerful woman results in craziness. Bigly.

I sometimes wonder if we’re living in Freedonia, the fictional country of which Groucho Marx was the president in Duck Soup. Groucho was a benign, albeit lecherous, lunatic whereas the Insult Comedian is a malign lunatic with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. I guess I should resume calling him Trumpberius, which is a nod to the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Life not only imitates Duck Soup, it imitates I Claudius as I wrote last August:

Trump increasingly reminds me of another crazy Caesar who was also depicted in the classic teevee series, I Claudius: Caligula’s predecessor, Tiberius. In that great 1976 series, Tiberius was installed via the machinations of his mother Livia. That, in turn, left him dubious of his own legitimacy and led him to do crazy and extreme things. Sound familiar?

At the end of his life, Tiberius isolated himself from the court at Rome and spent most of time debauching at his version of Mar-a-Lago: his villa on the Isle of Capri. Neither golf nor cable teevee had been invented at that point but I’m sure Tiberius would have dug them.

Yesterday as the “extremely stable genius” made his aides publicly attest to his stability and all around awesomeness, I kept waiting for burly men in white to place this deranged narcissist in a strait-jacket. This insecure lunatic should be on Nurse Ratched’s ward, not in the White House. (That’s right, life also imitates One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.) Even for the Trump regime, it was a  bizarre spectacle to behold; with horror. Wednesday’s meltdown may have been calculated, this one was not.

Writing for First Draft is my therapy. The whole country is going to need therapy when this mishigas is finally over. The good news is that I believe that voters will vote to stop the madness next year. The bad news is that we have to put up with this insanity until January, 2021 since his cabinet is populated with non-entities and lackeys who cannot count to 25 as in the 25th Amendment. And impeachment is merely an invitation to remove an errant Oval One; only the voters can remove him since the senate obviously will not.

The last word goes to Rufus T. Firefly:

New Tea From The Tillerson

Image by Michael F.

Oil baron and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is back in the news. You didn’t really think I could pass this story up, did you? He was in Washington City to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I guess the president* didn’t try to block his appearance. Maybe he thought that the “affairs” refer to international nookie or some such shit. He approves of foreign nookie, after all.

Tillerson not only spilled some tea, he threw some shade the Insult Comedian’s way:

Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Russian President Vladimir Putin out-prepared President Trump during a key meeting in Germany, putting the U.S. leader at a disadvantage during their first series of tête-à-têtes.

<SNIP>

Committee aides said that Tillerson refrained from openly disparaging the president but that his inability to answer certain questions was revealing.

In one exchange, Tillerson said he and the president “shared a common goal: to secure and advance America’s place in the world and to promote and protect American values.”

“Those American values — freedom, democracy, individual liberty and human dignity — are the North Star that guided every action I took at the State Department,” Tillerson said, according to a person in the room.

Upon questioning, Tillerson clarified that although he and the president shared the same goal, they did not share the same “value system.”

When asked to describe Trump’s values, Tillerson said, “I cannot,” the person said.

“Just as matter of fact, he stated that he couldn’t or wouldn’t unpack the president’s values for us,” a committee aide said.

It’s because Trump doesn’t have any values, silly rabbit.

The president* was not amused and took to the Tweeter Tube to rant:

And who appointed this “dumb as a rock” and “totally ill-prepared and ill-equipped” man Secretary of State, Donald? Look in the mirror, asswipe. It reflects badly on you. It’s more projection from the First Criminal.

We all know people who are incapable of seeing themselves as others do. The Insult Comedian, however, wins the booby prize (literally) as the least self-aware person on the planet. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have staged that fake tantrum when he met with Chuck and Nancy yesterday. Speaker Pelosi was having a tough week before that presidential* gaffe. She should write him a thank you note. “I don’t do cover-ups,” my ass. That will be the Trumpian equivalent of Nixon’s “I am not a crook.” Tricky was and Trumpy does.

That concludes this nostalgic look at the life and times of Rex Tillerson, tea and oil spiller. It finds the Trump regime miles from nowhere after the Kaiser of Chaos went out on strike yesterday. Do your job, dipshit.

The last word goes to (who else?) my countryman, Cat Stevens:

Case Closed?

The Turtle got up on his hind legs in the Senate yesterday and declared the Trump scandals over. He even had the gall to use the phrase “case closed” as if that would work. In 1993, Gerald Posner published a book about the Kennedy assassination. His theory was that the Warren Commission got it right and that Oswald acted alone. The title was Case Closed. If it was meant to cut-off discussion of that horrible day in Dallas, it did not work. We’re still arguing about it. McConnell’s statement will have the same effect or lack thereof.

Nixon tried the same gambit during Watergate. He declared the scandal over and done with multiple times. It did not work. Scandals have a life of their own and need to die of natural causes, pronouncements do not work.

The ineffectiveness of McConnell’s statement was shown by subsequent events of yesterday. The Michael Cohen-Jerry Fallwell Junior link resurfaced in a Reuters story. It implied that the former Fixer’s suppression of some “racy” Falwell Junior pictures *may* have had something to do with the second-generation bible-thumper’s endorsement of Trump. I don’t know about you but the last thing I want to see are racy Fallwell Junior pictures. Ugh.

A more important, albeit less salacious, development was the latest story in the New York Times series that I call Donald Trump Is A Criminal. The Times obtained copies of Trump’s federal tax work sheets from 1985 to 1994. The Eighties were ostensibly the Insult Comedian’s glory days as a tycoon. One might instead call them his gory days as he suffered $1 billion in losses. Our friend Scout Prime immediately dubbed him the biggest loser. He’s either the worst businessman ever or a monumental tax cheat; perhaps even both.

I’m not going to publish the First Flim-Flam Man’s attempt to spin the story. Suffice it to say that it’s as credible as the rest of his twitter feed. If his story is true: why not publicly release the tax returns sought by the House?

It’s self-quote time:

I have a new Fog of Scandal meme, a Magritte-like image, The Man and the Sea by Giuseppe Maiorana, I love the image of umbrellas dropping in the fog. Substitute shoes for umbrellas, you can catch my drift if you can see it amid the fog of scandal.

The shoes keep dropping despite the Insult Comedian’s lame attempts to explain away everything. That’s why this case will never be closed.

The last word goes to Randy Newman with a song about the kind of glitzy Eighties capitalism that the Kaiser of Chaos claims to embody:

It’s Trump’s money that matters.  Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a criminal.

Barr’s Testimony In A Wingnut Shell

I only watched bits and bobs of the Barr hearing. I have a hard time sitting through GOP crazy as expressed by old white dudes. Chuck Grassley is looking more like Abe Simpson every day.

Barr lied, dodged questions, and offered absurd defenses of his lord and master. I like what Comey said about Barr’s dignity wraith-hood in an op-ed written before the hearing:

But more often, proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing. I think that’s at least part of what we’ve seen with Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. It takes character like Mr. Mattis’s to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.

I’m not sure if Barr ever had a soul but Comey has a way with language. It certainly explains how people pleaser Lindsey Graham went from McCain wingman to Trump toady.

TPM has the wall-to-wall coverage that I’m disinterested in providing. One more thing: the Mueller letter may be written in “snitty” legalese but it’s a big fucking deal. It probably was written by a staff member as Barr so dismissively stated BUT that’s SOP. I wonder if the first draft bore this salutation: Dear Fuckhead. I understand that Bobby Three Sticks is big on busting balls in private.

I originally planned for this post to be strictly a sight gag but I had a few jokes up my sleeve. Here’s Barr’s Testimony In A Wingnut Shell:

 

 

Massive Resistance

Massive resistance to desegregation was a thing after the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. The Supremes erred by using Felix (The Hot Dog Man) Frankfurter’s phrase that desegregation should be implemented “with all deliberate speed.” What followed was deliberate delay, not speedy progress.

Team Trump is following its own path of massive resistance in regard to Congressional subpoenas. The Insult Comedian has bragged that he runs the “most transparent administration in history” when, as always, the opposite is true. Projection thy name is Trumpy.

The Trump regime specializes in lies, cover-ups, and delay. They’ve made an art of kicking the can down the road in an audacious attempt to delay the president’s* day of reckoning. I halfway expect Rudy to use the phrase “with all deliberate speed,” he’s surely heard of it. Trump just as surely has not. Nothing exists if it doesn’t involve him.

The law is on the side of the House oversight committees but not only is the law an ass, it’s a slow ass. It’s one of the few things Trump knows: litigation is tantamount to delay. It’s why he *always* threatens to sue whenever things go against him. The good news is that Congress has deep pockets but the process is inherently slow. In fact, it moves “with all deliberate speed.”

 

Quote Of The Day: Impeachment Edition

I’d like to thank Lawrence O’Donnell for reminding us of the eloquence of a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee who stood up for the rule of law and against a president of his own party in 1974. The father of the current Governor of Maryland, Lawrence Hogan Sr. was a FBI agent before entering politics. He was the only Republican to vote for *all* three articles of impeachment filed against Richard Nixon.

Here’s the QOTD:

Now, I`m a Republican. Party loyalty and personal affection and precedence of the past must fall, I think, before the arbiter of men`s action – the law itself. No man, not even the president of the United States, is above the law.

It isn`t easy for me to align myself against the president to whom I gave my enthusiastic support in three presidential campaigns, on whose side I`ve stood in many legislative battles, whose accomplishments in foreign and domestic affairs I`ve consistently applauded.

But it`s impossible for me to condone or ignore the long train of abuses to which he has subjected the presidency and the people of this country. The constitution and my own oath of office demand that I bear true faith and allegiance to the principles of law and justice upon which this nation was founded. And I cannot in good conscience turn away from the evidence of evil that is to me so clear and compelling.

My friend from New Jersey, Mr. Sandman, said last night he wants to see direct proof and some of my other friends on the side of the aisle said the same thing. But I submit what they`re looking for is an arrow to the heart. And we do not find any evidence an arrow to the heart. We find a virus that creeps up on you slowly and gradually until its obviousness is so overwhelming to you.

We have to step back and we have to look at the whole picture. And when you look at the whole mosaic of the evidence that`s come before us, to me, it`s overwhelming beyond a reasonable doubt.

<SNIP>

He consistently tried to cover up the evidence and obstruct justice, and as much as it pains me to say it, he should be impeached and removed from office.

It is, of course, difficult to imagine a current House or Senate Republican quoting Larry Hogan Sr. let alone matching his anguished eloquence. The rule of law *should* be more important than the Current Occupant of the White House whoever they may be. This president* is reckless and lawless and the 115th Congress needs to stand up and be counted like the 93rd Congress and members such as Larry Hogan the elder.

Impeachment is not easy. It’s not supposed to be easy.  It’s a political action that may be politically unwise. Many of the arguments against it are compelling, I find myself nodding in agreement when Josh Marshall argues against it, but then I recall my reaction to reading Volume 2 of the Mueller Road Map. We can’t let this president* get away with thumbing his nose at the constitution and the rule of law. The example that would set for the future is dire.

Not only has the MSM let the GOP off easy on impeachment, the “cult of the savvy” is calling Elizabeth Warren’s stand in favor of impeachment a gambit or a tactic. It was a sincere reaction to the disgusting details laid out in the Mueller Report. It was the same reaction I had. Sometimes you have to do the right thing regardless of whether or not it’s easy or expedient. As JFK said in his legendary 1962 Moon speech: “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

The last word goes to the late Congressman Larry Hogan. The caption is wrong, it was a statement, not testimony but the words ring just as true in 2019 as they did in 1974:

The Mueller Roadmap: Volume 1 Notes

Team Trump let Rudy Giuliani off his chain to appear on the Sunday shows. Spittle, sweat, rage, and lies were involved on Rudy’s part. CNN’s Jake Tapper appeared tempted to offer the ex-mob buster a hankie to mop the flop sweat off his brow. The artist formerly known as Mayor Combover made at least one remarkable statement: “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.”

Really, Rudy? Do you really believe that or are you so blinded by the spotlight that you’ll say anything to help your client? And this guy wanted to be president. It’s a good thing his 2008 campaign flopped. A reminder to political junkies: Giuliani was the GOP front runner at this time in that cycle.

I promised some readers that I’d comment on Volume 1 of the Mueller Report. Before I do, here’s one of the money quotes from that part of the report:

“In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of “collusion.” In so doing, the Office recognized that the word “collud[ e ]” was used in communications with the Acting Attorney General confirming certain aspects of the investigation’s scope and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation. But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law.”

I’ve been fighting a war of words over the word collusion so I’m pleased that Team Mueller joined the wordy war without colluding or conspiring with me.

Since I’m a bad lapsed lawyer, I took notes while reading Volume 1. They’re handwritten and hard to read but I needed them to jog my memory before running my mouth.

  • Volume 1 is seriously redacted. There are black blotches all over its pages. Most of them have to do with grand jury information as well as our old friend HOM: Harm to Ongoing Matter. That concludes this homily about redactions.
  • It’s unclear if Team Mueller were down with all the redactions but it’s certainly possible. We’ve all learned not to trust Bill Barr so I’m not taking his word on anything. It’s truly Trump’s DOJ now. You know things are bad when Jeff Beau looks good in contrast.
  • Some of the material about Russian operations during the campaign is familiar to those of us who waded through past court filings.
  • We learn that so-called free speech hero Julian Assange is an inveterate liar as well as the world’s worst house guest. WikiLeaks was in such constant cahoots with the Russian cohort that it might as well be an arm of the GRU. They should change their name to WikiLies or RuskieLeaks.
  • There’s confirmation that Trump Junior is an idiot. He seems to have avoided indictment thus far with a dumbass defense. Given the number of redactions in the sections mentioning him, his name *may* be one of those submitted for criminal referral. I can dream, can’t I?
  • One of the weirder sub-plots involves the “deleted Hillary emails hunt” engaged in by Iran-Contra spouse Barbara Ledeen, Peter Smith, and Mike Flynn. It’s a bit of comic relief amidst all the seaminess.
  • Team Mueller fills in the blanks about Paul Manafort’s contacts with the Russians as well as his reflexive mendacity. It’s something he and the Insult Comedian have in common.
  • Erik Prince is in deep shit and sinking fast.  His contacts with various Middle Eastern potentates have a potent whiff of criminality and he lied about them under oath. There are a lot of black redactions in the section about the Blackwater founder and Betsy Devos brother. We know what that means: I eagerly await this shitbird’s indictment.
  • Steve Bannon may be a fascist asshole but he’s a smart fascist asshole. He knew enough not to lie to Congress or Team Mueller.

There was some silly criticism of the Mueller Report after its release. Anyone who thought the Special Counsel was going to single-handedly change the no-indictment policy hasn’t been paying attention. That’s up to a future attorney general or Congress. Team Mueller’s job was to investigate crimes, not change the law. There was never going to be a Deus ex Mueller to rescue us.

A quick note on the way out of this mess. Athenae was right when she pointed out that the Dems Aren’t Solely Responsible For Fixing This. This shit is on the Republicans: they nominated, elected, and continue to defend a criminal. There have been hundreds of off-the-record stories of how appalled elected GOPers are by this president’s* words and deeds. I don’t see any of them stepping up and criticizing their criminal president* let alone actually doing anything about it. They’re too busy cowering at the prospect of being ousted from Congress by the red hat menace. They’re pussies, they should grab themselves.

I’ve come out for impeachment but I’m not an enthusiast. There is no easy way out of this mess. Given the no-indictment policy, Trump is going to run for re-election to avoid criminal charges. Let that sink in for a minute. One reason that the Nixon impeachment was easier for Republicans to eventually swallow is that Tricky was term-limited. The odds are that Trump will have to be defeated at the ballot box, which is, after all, the American way or what’s left of it.

I see a lot of hand wringing over the unholy mess that confronts the country. That’s how Team Trump wants its enemies to react. They won the electoral college by depressing Democratic turnout in 2016. If we get depressed, they win again. If we react with righteous indignation, they lose.  Few things in life are as simple as that.

My venture into bullet pointery has given me an earworm. Neil Young gets the last word:

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a criminal.

Dems Aren’t Solely Responsible for Fixing This

So it took about ten minutes after the Mueller Report for people to start screaming at Democrats for being spineless worthless cowards who lacked the political will to impeach Donald Trump immediately. People spent the rest of the week losing their shit at Nancy, Steny Hoyer, Chuck Schumer and all the rest of the leadership, demanding they do the right thing and IMPEACH OR GTFO.

Meanwhile the national press began autowittering gibberish about the optics for Democrats of impeaching or not impeaching. Every Clintonista who’s been looking for a paycheck found one opining about what it did to their president when Newt Gingrich stuck his head up his own ass and decided he liked the view. The OP EDS ALONE. How would impeachment impact Bernie’s or Biden’s or Warren’s chances in 2020? How does this play in a MAGA dipshit diner in Iowa? There are head-to-head national polls! Nothing makes these losers orgasm like completely baseless speculation and insane hypotheticals and this was a banner week for both.

And spare me the ‘splain. I am not defending Nancy or Steny or Chuck. And I do know the Democrats have the House majority and we gave it to them at great cost, so don’t mistake anything I’m about to say for a gesture of sympathy for highly paid people being asked to do their literal job.

I just have a question.

Why is impeachment being discussed as if only Democrats can do it?

Why is all the pressure on THEM to impeach or not impeach, to come out for removing Trump, to deal with the political implications of impeaching or not impeaching, to make a statement or take a stand or release a strongly worded press release? Where is the call to get on the record every single pudsucking suburban rep from the Party of Lincoln saying why THEY don’t want to impeach?

I mean it. Yes, the Dems have the House majority and could do this on their own if they wanted and they don’t want to which is insane, but why does that allow Republicans to not even get a question about this. And speaking of political will and Nancy’s lack of it, if 20 Republican reps suddenly went to Nancy and Steny and Chuck and said look, we want the motherfucker out of here today, I find it hard to believe that wouldn’t make a difference in her eagerness to move.

If 10 Republican senators came out in the press and said we would vote to convict Donald Trump of obstruction of justice, I find it hard to believe that wouldn’t change the game.

Why isn’t anyone in the national press calling for THAT? Why aren’t our favorite Twitter screamers mad at the silence from the GOP? Where’s the running tally of GOP statesmen and their positions, opposite the one keeping tabs on what AOC and Elizabeth Warren are up to? Where’s the holding of their feet to the fire? If democracy’s out here dying in darkness why are we only asking one party to light the goddamn match?

And if we’re not going to expect the same things from them, why don’t we even bother to PRETEND anymore that the GOP is an actual party with the same job and obligation as the Democrats? Why do we have to do fucking everything? Clean up their mess AND worry about how cleaning up their mess makes us look? You’ve got to be kidding me with this.

By all rights, having read that report, Democrats should be able to do a victory lap on Mitch McConnell’s flopsy turtle face with their balls. I mean good God, those are some of the dumbest crimes I’ve ever heard of and I used to cover night cops in small towns. These galaxy genius brains are texting each other detailed notes of fraud and grand larceny and shit, what a bunch of buffoons.

Democrats should be able to kick back, pass those articles of impeachment along and get half of Republicans to vote with them without even trying.

Maybe some of the Clinton alumni who’ve been out here jerking it to their boss’s record for the past 20 years can explain why the media they flooded only ever demands Democrats turn on their own. Al Gore and Joe Lieberman get advised to run away from Bill Clinton in 2000 but within the GOP it’s accepted wisdom that Truly Savvy Politicians will continue to suck Trump’s dick up to and including the day he puts their kids in a cage.

And in the face of all of that I’m supposed to be mad at Nancy Pelosi? I mean, I guess, okay, but in the hierarchy of who I’m pissed at the GOP is at the top of the list and is staying there. I am just so tired of WHAT ARE THE DEMOCRATS DOING ABOUT TRUMP being the headline when WHAT ARE REPUBLICANS DOING is the only question until we take the Senate back.

Where are the headlines and op-eds about that? Where is the running tally of how many Republicans would vote to convict Trump and the pressure to declare or shut the fuck up?

I am so tired. At some point I’d like it if we could ask the people who shit the bed to clean it up.

A.

Joy is Part of the Fight

As we are all, rightly, quarreling over the defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar, a reminder that when we politicize people’s faith and make them symbols, we don’t just create misery. We poison ordinary human joy: 

I wrote my second book because I wanted to read a story where a young queer Muslim girl’s story was not about pain or suffering. I wanted the things that got in the way of her love story to be the everyday kinds of things that get in the way of many of our own love stories. The misunderstandings. The fear of vulnerability. The aching longing that first love so often evinces.

To be carefree and Muslim is no easy thing.

But I do write stories in which it is. Because while that world may not exist yet, I get to play by my own rules in fiction. And I want to give the next generation of Muslims stories where they can see themselves, not just as the victims of hate, but as the instigators of love.

After 9/11 and the wave of local Chicago hate crimes that followed it, I spent about a week with a Muslim family, doing my favorite kind of journalism, the kind where I just sort of hang out and write about what’s happening in a life not my own. I wrote about their prayers and their struggles but also about their pet parrot who was loud and rude, about the kids teasing each other around the dinner table. About how even in that dark time, they were happy.

I’ll be forever grateful they let me see them in those moments. They didn’t have to. It was a recklessly generous act of faith.

The times when my own prejudices have been challenged have not only been times when I’ve recognized someone’s misery as my own but when I’ve recognized their joy. We are fully in each other’s lives when we are a part of their celebrations AND their struggles, when we are as at home at each other’s weddings as at each other’s funerals.

We need to remember to be in solidarity with each other not just when times are difficult but when they are transcendent.

A.

The Bland Bespectacled Bomb Thrower

Attorney General Bill Barr is so ordinary looking that he’d never stand out in a crowd. As a witness, he speaks softly and occasionally mumbles his responses. As a public speaker, he’s as charismatic as Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Warren Christopher who looked as if he stepped out of a coffin.  Barr is as dull as a lawyer can be until you closely examine his words: then you realize that he’s a bland bespectacled bomb thrower.

In front of House Judiciary Committee, Barr stuck to the basics of his cover-up line, which involves deflection, misdirection, and kicking the can down the road for as long as possible. In the friendly confines of Lindsey Graham’s committee, Barr sounded like a spokesman for the Freedom Caucus. I almost expected him to morph into Jim Jordan just like Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk. Barr smash.

Given Barr’s background in intelligence, he knows how inflammatory the word spying is. He crawfished on the usage later but his work was done. The Attorney General of the United States has given the green light to wingnut conspiracy nuts everywhere. I think former Clinton-Gore-Biden-Obama aide Ron Klain put it best:

Klain is a Democratic utility infielder: he was also Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and Attorney General Janet Reno’s Chief of Staff, so he knows the DOJ and how it’s supposed to work. This isn’t it.

Not only does Barr sound like a conspiracy buff, he sounds like a spokesman for the Trump re-election campaign. Their goal is to confuse the issues surrounding the Trump scandals and to discredit the Mueller Report when Barr finally gets around to releasing even a redacted version.

Barr’s testimony was all about placating the president* and the red hat set. There was no spying, only an authorized FBI counterintelligence probe.

The bland bespectacled bomb thrower is a throwback Attorney General. Before Watergate, it was not unusual for campaign managers to become Attorney Generals. On the good side, there were Robert Kennedy and Herbert Brownell who was Ike’s top legal eagle and the leading advocate of Civil Rights in that administration. On the dark side, there were Tricky Dick’s law partner John Mitchell and Harding’s venal AG, Harry Daugherty. That’s why I don’t want to hear that Barr’s conduct is unprecedented. It doesn’t make it any better but it’s not.

I like how never Trump Republican and all-around smart ass, Rick Wilson, described Barr:

William Barr’s tone was calm, but his agenda was clear: His job is to protect Donald Trump, no matter the prerogatives of Congress or any consideration of the rule of law. Bill Barr is not the attorney general of the United States. He is the Roy Cohn whom The Donald has craved since become president; an attorney general who sees his duty as serving Trump.

<SNIP>

Barr exudes just enough of the comforting style of the Washington insider to quiet the fears of many in the House and Senate. He comes across as pedestrian and legalistic, bordering on dull, but he’s the most dangerous man in America.

That’s why I called Barr a bland bespectacled bomb thrower. He’s there to help the Kaiser of Chaos foment, uh, chaos, not to the serve the public interest. Repeat after me: this is horrible but not unprecedented.

In other scandal news, the cover-up has spread to the Treasury Department. Mnuchin the Moocher is dragging his heels on turning over Trump’s taxes. He’s not supposed to have a role in this: it’s up to the IRS commissioner. The Moocher has tried kicking the can over to the DOJ but they don’t have a role in this either. The law is clear as it uses the mandatory shall, not might or maybe. The Moocher’s inaction could even put him in legal jeopardy. He should be careful: he’d look shitty in an orange jump suit.

I keep hoping that we’ll wake up and discover that the Trump regime was just a bad dream. Unfortunately, life isn’t like the series finale of St. Elsewhere. The nightmare is real.