Category Archives: Fog Of Scandal

Quote Of The Day: Impeachment Report Edition

I’m working my way through the House Intelligence Committee’s report. It’s essentially a narrative history of what happened with Ukraine and why it matters. It’s more readable than the Mueller Report. It doesn’t hedge its bets and calls an Igor an Igor and a Lev a Lev.

Today’s quote comes from Chairman Adam Schiff’s preface:

Nevertheless, there remain unanswered questions, and our investigation must continue, even as we transmit our report to the Judiciary Committee.  Given the proximate threat of further presidential attempts to solicit foreign interference in our next election, we cannot wait to make a referral until our efforts to obtain additional testimony and documents wind their way through the courts.  The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress.  Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a stronger or more complete case of obstruction than that demonstrated by the President since the inquiry began.

The damage the President has done to our relationship with a key strategic partner will be remedied over time, and Ukraine continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support in Congress.  But the damage to our system of checks and balances, and to the balance of power within our three branches of government, will be long-lasting and potentially irrevocable if the President’s ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked.  Any future President will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance, or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three.

Jerry Nadler says that he’s not going to “take any shit” from committee GOPers. Let’s hope so. Some of the looniest members of the Republican caucus are on the Judiciary Committee. The first day sounds as dry as a bone so perhaps they’ll nod off. I’m not sure if Louie Gohmert Piles, Jim Jordan, and Matt Gaetz will understand all the big words used by the law professors. I’m skipping it. I’m not in the mood to watch them throw shit against the wall just to see how much of it sticks. Now if Larry Tribe were testifying, I’d be there.

The phone records are particularly interesting. What was the man who puts the cow in Moscow, Devin Nunes, doing on the phone with the conspirators?

A phone song is in order. The last word goes to the Kinks:

 

It’s A Plame Shame

The MSM is full of former Bushies trying to convince the public that President Beavis was a prince among men compared to the Current Occupant. While it’s true that Dubya had better table manners, it should not be forgotten that the Beavis-Duce administration was almost as fond of smear tactics as the Trump regime.

According to Team Bush-Cheney, those of us who opposed the Mess in Mesopotamia were soft on terrorism at best, traitors at worst. The difference between Bushies and Trumpers is that most of the time Dubya let others do the lying and smearing on his behalf.  Genuine upper-class twits swells let the help do the dirty work for them: Poppy had Lee Atwater; Junior had Karl Rove. The Insult Comedian enjoys wallowing in the mud alongside Gym Jordan, Devin Nunes, and John Neely Kennedy. More about the latter next week at the Bayou Brief.

That brings us to two people the Bush administration gleefully smeared: the late Ambassador Joe Wilson and his then CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame. Scooter Libby was convicted of disclosing Plame’s identity: his sentence was commuted by Bush; Trump pardoned him in 2018. Karl Rove escaped indictment by the skin of his teeth; surviving to take up residence as a Fox News pundit. Robert Novak the right-wing columnist who published the story was not indicted either, but the man known as the Prince of Darkness finally went to hell in 2009. It’s unclear if he went there in a bucket: 

I think of Valerie Plame with each Republican demand that the Ukraine scandal whistleblower be outed. Here’s what the spy who was forced out of the cold has to say about it:

“I feel personally for this whistleblower. I know what he’s going through,” says Plame. “His career is over. His world, it’s already been upended. I don’t think he’ll remain anonymous for long.”

The good news is that Valerie Plame survived the Bush smear campaign, moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and started a new chapter in her life. After a tough year in which her father and husband died, she’s landed on her feet again. She’s the subject of a flattering profile in the WaPo and is running as a Democrat for a House seat in New Mexico. This ad is a knockout:

The Plame-Wilson affair was such a cause celebre that a movie based on their respective memoirs was made in 2010, Fair Game. Naomi Watts and Sean Penn played the couple. It’s the rare case in which the real people were more attractive than the actors portraying them. It’s a good movie, check it out if you haven’t seen it.

There was also this song by The Decemberists:

The next time a Bush acolyte tries to tell you that their guy is a much better man than President* Pennywise, remember the smear campaign against Valerie Plame. Dubya just knows what fork to use and would have had the good sense to stay off social media. Otherwise, he set the table for the Insult Comedian’s smear tactics.

I couldn’t resist a rock and roll pun in the post title, so the last word goes to Peter Frampton:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Time Won’t Let Me

Hummingbirds by Walter Inglis Anderson.

I hope everyone had a festive and gluttonous Thanksgiving. We had a double header: first in Red Stick with the surviving outlaw, then in the evening with our friends Will and Jennifer. Will is the King Cake Baron of New Orleans. I just wanted to prove that I don’t hate *all* royals, certainly not those that may involve royal icing. I’m not sure if that joke made any sense but when did that ever stop me?

This week’s theme song was written in 1966 by Tom King and Chad Kelly in 1965 for their band, The Outsiders. It was a big hit, reaching #5 on the Billboard charts.

We have three versions of Time Won’t Let Me for your listening pleasure: The Outsiders original, a 1981 version by Iggy Pop, and a 1994 version recorded by The Smithereens for use in the movie Timecop.

Time for another timely tune; hopefully time *will* let me post it:

Time’s a wasting for us to jump to the break.

Continue reading

Trump & The Military

Every once and awhile someone posts an article on social media about President* Pennywise either refusing to leave office or provoking a coup. These articles are rarely by anyone who knows anything about the military or how it operates. Would Trump applaud a coup in his favor? Absolutely. He has fantasies of himself as an absolute monarch who will establish the Trump dynasty; emphasis on the word nasty.

Was it ever likely that the military would go along with a coup? No. While many officers are conservative, they’re also hawks who have been appalled by Trump’s attacks on NATO and his cozying up to Russia. The brass seem to be divided between those who cannot stand Trump and those who believe they have a duty to refrain from all forms of politics.

In typical Trump fashion, he thinks he can buy the military’s support by increasing defense spending. Money is everything to the Insult Comedian ergo it’s everything to everyone. Wrong. They believe in honor, duty, and country whereas Trump only believes in himself.

Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds and war criminal pardons have further alienated him from the military. Former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer’s searing exit  letter is worth quoting at length:

The rule of law is what sets us apart from our adversaries. Good order and discipline is what has enabled our victory against foreign tyranny time and again, from Captain Lawrence’s famous order “Don’t Give up the Ship,” to the discipline and determination that propelled our flag to the highest point of Iwo Jima. The Constitution, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, are the shields that set us apart, and the beacons that protect us all. Through my Title Ten Authority, I have strived to ensure our proceedings are fair, transparent and consistent, from the newest recruit to the Flag and General Officer level.

Unfortunately, it has become apparent that in this respect, I no longer share the same understanding with the Commander in Chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline. I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Spencer’s sentiments are widely shared throughout the armed forces, not just in the Navy. Trump’s interference in the military justice system is bitterly resented, especially his propensity to issue orders by tweet.

That’s not how they do business: the military is process oriented and takes a dim view of Trump’s anarchic disorderly ways. They’re not going to violate their oath to the constitution to keep the Kaiser of Chaos in power. There will be no tanks surrounding the White House on January 21, 2021.

I just saw the Coup episode of season 3 of The Crown. The broad outlines of the story are true: War hero and royal Lord Mountbatten gets involved in some preliminary coup plotting against Harold Wilson’s Labour government. After researching coups, he concluded that in a modern media saturated society such a coup could not succeed without the Queen’s support, which was not forthcoming. We don’t have a queen, just a wannabe dictator with keyboard courage and bone spurs that rendered him unfit for service.

Repeat after me: you cannot stage a coup without the military. There will be no coup.

Impeachment: Where Do We Go From Here?

I’ve been in the weeds of the impeachment hearings the last two weeks. It’s time to pause, take a deep breath, and look at the big picture.

The post title poses a rhetorical question: where do we go from here? It beats the hell outta me. Anyone who makes confident assertions or predictions is running a fool’s errand, which could be called pulling a Sondland.

As of today, the House will impeach on a party-line vote. There are some key witnesses we’d all like to hear from: Pompeo, Bolton, and Mulvaney to name a few. Slugging this out in the courts looks like a Sondland aka fool’s errand. There is a possible alternative: witnesses can be called in the Senate and it would be up to Chief Justice Roberts.  Josh Marshall has more about this at TPM.

As of today, the Senate will NOT vote to remove BUT the situation is more fluid than people believe. I think there are multiple Republican Senators willing to vote FOR at least one article of impeachment. But they’ll only do it if there are enough of them: five or more. Willard Mittbot Romney is the one to watch: he’s bulletproof in Utah and not on the ballot until 2024.

The reasons for any GOP removal votes will not be elevated ones. They won’t do it out of patriotism but out of self-preservation. In short, they’ll pull a Sondland if it looks like the GOP will be slaughtered at the ballot box in 2020. I suspect the Mittbot would like to be the Brigham Young of his party if electoral disaster looms.

A quick reminder that Republicans are 24% of registered voters. They cannot win without conservative leaning independents; many of whom are sick of Trump’s antics. Repeat after me: There’s gold in them thar suburbs.

The Turtle wants to preserve his majority as well as his own seat. Right now there are three GOP seats in serious jeopardy: Maine, Arizona, and Colorado. Georgia looks promising: when there are two Senate seats up in the same election, one party tends to win both. Doug Jones in Alabama is the most vulnerable Democrat by far but the prospect of a GOP donnybrook gives him a chance to hang on. Roy Moore, Jeff Sessions, and Donald Trump may give him a path to victory.

One overlooked possibility is Senate GOPers pressuring Trump to make up some cockamamie story and resign. It would have to be coupled with a threat of removal votes but it would serve their interests to get Trump to quit. Some say this is impossible: I disagree. Trump changes his mind on a daily basis about purt near everything.

I am opposed to impeaching Pence alongside Trump. He may deserve it but we should want someone tied to the Trump scandals to be the Republican nominee in 2020. Acting president Pelosi would only fuel GOP “coup” talk. It’s why Carl Albert wanted Jerry Ford confirmed quickly in 1974.

I have no idea which, if any, of these theories will play out in real life. One thing I know for sure is that the Insult Comedian’s fatal inability to STFU will continue to make things worse. Thanks, Donald

The last word goes to The Band:

Impeachment Hearings Day Five: Hill/Holmes

Another day, another hearing. It was a doozy. It’s time for another round of time delayed live blogging, instant analysis or whatever the hell you want to call it.

—> Fiona Hill and David Holmes were a breath of fresh air after the smug, smarmy, and sleazy Sondland. I don’t think Sean Patrick Maloney will feel the need to administer an Irish barracking to these two. If he did, I’m sure Hill could kick his ass.

—> Devin Nunes pitched a mini-tantrum over Hill’s critique of the Republicans insistence that Ukraine fucked with the 2016 campaign, not Russia. He thumped his report on the table and insisted that it be included in the record. It was but it’s still a tissue of lies.

—> Fiona Hill is formidable and fierce. Her piercing intelligence and deep subject matter knowledge is as impressive as hell. I was touched by her account of how she came to America from the North of England. She has kept her working class Northern accent, which would have been a hindrance in the UK but not here. Don’t mess with a coal miner’s daughter even if her name isn’t Loretta Lynn and her accent is Northern, not Southern.

—> David Holmes is equally impressive. As a serving foreign service officer, he took a risk by coming forward. His first hand experiences with Sondland and Giuliani caused him to testify. I hope he doesn’t suffer retribution. I’m not sure what the foreign service hell post is; in J Edgar Hoover time at the FBI, he banished errant agent to Butte, Montana. Some may have even become dental floss tycoons.

—> The lanky and fair Holmes and the dark and raven haired Hill looked striking together. I know that’s superficial but so is teevee. There was no banter between the witnesses. Dr. Hill is all business.

—> Casting Update: Michelle Dockery as Fiona Hill and Mark Evan Jackson as David Holmes. The latter plays Shawn the head demon on The Good Place. I guess Holmes is his good twin.

I like casting Lady Mary from Downton Abbey against class type, she does fierce well.

It’s time to move on to the afternoon session.

—> STEELE DOSSIER. STEELE DOSSIER. STEELE DOSSIER.

—> Castor Oil dispensed. I think the witnesses found it as unpalatable as I do. Castor has only one facial expression: a frown and a furrowed brow.

—> A reminder that Hill is a Russia hawk who thinks highly of Bolton. She does not have a high opinion of the Hotelier who bragged about his ties to Trump to her. Bragging is big with Trump regime types. Hill was vexed with Sondland for being slippery with her. Imagine that.

—> STEELE DOSSIER. STEELE DOSSIER. STEELE DOSSIER.

—> BURISMA. BIDEN. BURISMA. BIDEN. BURISMA. BIDEN.

—> Nunes had a cow over dealing with witnesses so much smarter than he is. That describes all the witnesses with the exception of Sondland. I was proud of the fierce Dr Hill for not laying the rank ranking member low. Me, I would have asked him about his relationship with Lev Parnas. Eric Swalwell went there later in the hearing. Thanks, dude.

—> Hill disputed Morrison’s comments about Vindman having “suspect judgment.” Her only concern was about his political instincts. The very tall guy got it wrong.

—> Jordan Time: Holmes rolled his eyes and smirked at the unhinged and unjacketed one. Who the hell can blame him? He’s trying to disguise his contempt as Jordan yelled at him and kept interrupting him.

Jordan pissed that Holmes is the “closing witness.” Are you so sure of that, Gym?

—> Nutmeg state Democrat Jim Himes encouraged Hill to debunk the Ukraine conspiracy theory. What the hell does she know? She’s only an expert.

—> Hill established her bona fides as a non-never Trumper by saying a couple of semi-nice things about the Insult Comedian. I still like her.

—> Ratcliffe Time: Thank God this bozo isn’t director of national intelligence. He lacks the latter. He’s as loud as Gym Jordan in a Texas nitwit kinda way. Ratcliffe is shocked that Trump’s conversation bounces around and makes little sense.

—> MORE REPUBLICAN SHOUTING. They seem to think it makes them sound well-hung or some such shit.

—> Ohio GOPer Mike Turner patronized Hill. She almost looked angry, especially as he didn’t let her speak. What the hell does she know? She’s just an expert. Women should be seen and not heard according to this Buckeye Bozo.

—> NO COLLUSION. NO COLLUSION. NO COLLUSION.

—> Hill insisted on being allowed to speak after endless GOP speeches. She’s a fact witness, not a Sondland-esque political hack. In fact, he gives hackery a bad name.

—> WHISTLEBLOWER. WHISTLEBLOWER. WHISTLEBLOWER.

—> WORD SALAD. WORD SALAD. WORD SALAD.

—> Holmes is indiscreet, not  Sondland? Who spoke on an unsecured cell phone in a public place? Oy just oy.

—> Nunes’ closing statement made no sense. Schiff’s did. Anyone surprised? I thought not.

It was another good day for House Democrats. It helps when you have the facts on your side and excellent witnesses such as Fiona Hill and David Holmes.

Finally, two songs in honor of rock star witness Fiona Hill. The last word goes to Lyle Lovett and Pete Townshend.

Impeachment Hearings Day Four: The Hotelier Flips

It was the most dramatic day of testimony by far. I gladly abandoned one possible title: A Fifth Of Sondland.

Consider this moral equivalent of live blogging. Let’s get down to it.

—> I had already read Gordon Sondland’s opening statement but even if I hadn’t I would have known that he was going to come semi-clean by his demeanor. He looked like someone who had a weight lifted from his shoulders.

—> Devin Nunes was blindsided by Sondland’s flip and gave an opening statement warning the hotelier that he was about to be smeared. I enjoyed Nunes’ humiliation.

—> While Sondland named names he did so our of self-preservation, not patriotism. That’s okay, his motives are irrelevant: his lawyer is trying to keep his client out of jail and save his business. The key to the Hotelier flipping was David Holmes’ description of the cell phone conversation between Sondland and President* Pennywise. Dipshits.

Here’s something I tweeted out about Gordo’s motives:

—> I cannot wait for the Insult Comedian and the artist formerly known as Mayor Combover to respond and make matters worse.

—> In his first round of questioning, Nunes decided NOT to attack Sondland. Instead, he peddled the discredited Ukraine did it theory. They’re milking that conspiracy theory like a cow…

—> Counsel Castor Oil is an annoying ninny. He used the Boltonian phrase “drug deal” as if it were meant literally. Of course, Gordo denied being part of a “drug deal.”

In his second round of questioning, Castor took off the gloves and went after the witness after it was clear that things were not going well.

—> BURISMA. BIDEN. BURISMA. BIDEN. BURISMA. BIDEN. BURISMA. BIDEN.

—> Casting Update:  Wallace Shawn as Gordon Sondland and Philip Baker Hall as Castor Oil.

—> Adam Schiff and Danny Goldman were wise to treat Sondland as a semi-hostile witness. The man has lied before and will likely do so again. Most witnesses to conspiracy are co-conspirators, after all.

—>  Gordon Sondland is proof positive that wealth and intelligence are not synonymous. He has a poor memory, which needs constant refreshing. Perhaps that why he drank so much water and perspired profusely.

—> Sondland had a lot of nerve asking his lawyer to request special treatment so he could catch a flight to “resume his duties.” Dude, nobody on the committee likes you and if you had any decency, you’d resign. Pronto. It provoked Schiff to shift into Homey the Clown mode:

I think we need a list of those thrown to the wolves today: Trump, Giuliani, Pompeo, Bolton, Volker, and Mulvaney.

I don’t feel like commenting on shouting House GOPers so it’s time to wrap up this wrap up post even before the hearing ends. One more tweet from some internet wise ass:

I have other things to do so I won’t write about Laura Cooper’s testimony this afternoon. I may have it on in the background. Hopefully, she has a better memory than the Hotelier.

The last word goes to Peter Gabriel and the Smithereens. Hopefully these tunes will refresh your memory:


Impeachment Hearings Day Three: Vindmania

House Republicans keep trying to turn the impeachment hearings into a circus but, like Homey the Clown, Adam Schiff don’t play that. It’s time for my scattershot take on yesterday’s hearing.

—> I almost felt sorry for Jennifer Williams. She was the sideshow, Lt. Col. Vindman was the main event. On the other hand, no one questioned her patriotism or impugned her integrity. Perhaps it’s because she started life as a GOP operative before joining the Foreign Service.

Her testimony neither helped nor hurt her boss, Mike Pence. It did, however, damage *his* boss as well as frustrate committee Republicans who could no longer rant about hearsay and indirect evidence. Williams heard what she heard and told the truth about it. It’s what a good citizen does.

My favorite Jennifer Williams moment was when she hopped into a cab after testifying.

—> Vindman started off jittery and camera shy BUT he warmed to the task brilliantly. This was not a man desperate for attention, publicity, and acclaim. That’s the guy whose conduct he described as inappropriate and wrong: Donald J. Trump.

Both Devin Nunes and oily GOP counsel Steve Castor tried to slime and otherize Vindman. A high point was when Vindman insisted that the rank ranking member call him by his title: Lt. Colonel, not Mister. I halfway expected Nunes to break out in a Mr. Mister song.

Castor went on and on and on about a putative job offer from a Ukrainian official for Vindman to be that country’s minister of defense. It was an offer that Vindman did not take seriously but Castor acted as if it proved he was disloyal and unpatriotic. The whole thing was nauseating. It turned into a set-up for the Colonel to proclaim he didn’t take the job because “I’m an American.”

—> Whistleblower, whistleblower, whistleblower.

—> Jim Jordan tried to score points but Vindman refused to be his punching bag. Vindman swatted Gym away like the annoying fly he is. Jordan seemed to understand that he’d been bested by Vindman and just howled at the moon when he got his second bite at the apple.

 —> After his encounter with the unjacketed and unhinged one, Vindman grew in confidence and scored point after point. He also showed a dry sense of humor when asked what languages he spoke, “Russian, Ukrainian, and a little bit of English.”

—> New York Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney threw Vindman a hanging fastball of a question, which the V Man hit out of the park:

Before the afternoon session, there was a lot of big talk from Republicans about how Kurt Volker and really tall guy, Tim Morrison, would defend the indefensible. These were their witnesses. Things did not go quite as planned,

Both Volker and Morrison confirmed the outlines of the scheme while trying not to piss off their fellow GOPers. Their conduct showed the difference between career civil servants like the previous witnesses and political appointees like these two jokers.

I didn’t watch the entire afternoon session because overexposure to House Republicans is hazardous to one’s mental health. If I had to listen to Jim Jordan holler one more time, I might have been ready for the laughing academy. I wish he’d use his inside voice but I don’t think he has one.

One of the funniest things I saw about the afternoon session came from New Orleans writer Michael Tisserand:

Google Fred (Herman Munster) Gwynne and Lonesome George Goebel and you’ll see what’s so funny.

The last word goes to Robbie Robertson and U2:

Instant Analysis: Impeachment Hearing Day One

I saw most of today’s hearing. Here are my takeaways:

—Nancy Smash was right to make the intelligence committee and Chairman Adam Schiff the tip of the impeachment spear. He was unflappable even in the face of moronic provocations by the Republican minority. He ruled on their sporadically dumb motions and moved on.

—I might rather have a beer with George Kent (I’ve heard he’s very funny offstage) but Bill Taylor is an impressive and formidable man. He reminds me of the small c conservatives who used to be common until Newt, W, the Tea Party, and Trump dumbed the GOP down.

Taylor reminded me of my father’s friend Paul Haerle who was a San Francisco super lawyer and California Republican Chairman from 1975-77. He ran afoul of the right wing of his party for supporting Ford over Reagan in 1976, resigned the next year, and focused on lawyering.

A quick personal story: I worked as a paralegal on the plaintiff’s side of a massive anti-trust case for a few years. It involved accusations of price fixing by Kaiser and other cement companies. I worked on the document production at Kaiser cement HQ in Oakland with another young paralegal with whom I shared a mutual disdain.

Anyway, the jerk-alegal and I were present to shuffle papers for a deposition. Paul Haerle was there representing the cement overlords. My nemesis glared at me, but his face fell as I addressed his big boss:

PA: “Hello Mr. Haerle. I’m Peter, Lou Athas’ son. We’ve met before.”

PH gave me a big smile and said: “Great to see you again. I miss your dad. Haven’t been to our Kiwanis club for a while. Give him and your mother my regards.”

PA: “Will do, sir.”

PH: “When you talk to your mom, tell her I’d love to eat her delicious Greek cookery again.”

My nemesis’ head looked like it was about to explode. He was not invited to dinner at my parents’ house. Paul Haerle was, and a good time was had by all.

That was quite a digression even for me. I’ll try and do better; not that y’all believe that.

—Neither Taylor nor Kent fell into any Republican traps. They insisted that they were fact witnesses and that it was up to Congress to deal with impeachment. I was relieved that none of the GOPers called Kent a “bow-tie motherfucker.” I guess none of them heard Omar call Brother Mouzon that on The Wire.

—Jim Jordan was there: unjacketed and unhinged. He seems to think that talking really fast and loud will dazzle the witnesses. They were emphatically undazzled by the second-rate wrestling coach. Jim Jordan to the rescue? Not even close.

—The GOP’s defense of Trump is ridiculous. Just because the crime was not perfected doesn’t make it legal. The only reason aid to Ukraine was not withheld is that Congress intervened.

—Democratic counsel Danny Goldman rocks. He showed why Schiff opted to have a genuine trial lawyer handle much of the questioning. Much like when Law & Order‘s Adam Schiff had Jack McCoy do likewise. You didn’t think I’d pass a chance to make that joke again, did you?

—Finally, a point of order from the sensible party on the Tweeter Tube:

I did not know that. Unlike House Republicans, I learn something new every day. I’ll remember that the next time I order Chicken Keev.

The last word goes to ELP:

 

Language

Before I became an internet pundit, I occasionally wrote letters to the editor. I had a few published but was always annoyed with the end results. I gave it up when the Picayune so twisted my meaning on a long-forgotten subject that a conservative friend asked if I’d defected to his side. He was disappointed to learn that I had not jumped ship.

That was a long way of saying that I’m quoting a letter to the editor by 33 prominent writers. In this case, the meaning is clear. They want the New York Times and their MSM colleagues to use different language to describe the Trump scandals:

Please stop using the Latin phrase “quid pro quo” regarding the impeachment inquiry. Most people don’t understand what it means, and in any case it doesn’t refer only to a crime. Asking for a favor is not a criminal act; we frequently demand things from foreign countries before giving them aid, like asking them to improve their human rights record.

That is not a crime; the crime is President Trump’s demand for something that will benefit him personally. But using this neutral phrase — which means simply “this for that” — as synonymous with criminality is confusing to the public. It makes the case more complicated, more open to question and more difficult to plead.

Please use words that refer only to criminal behavior here. Use “bribery” or “extortion” to describe Mr. Trump’s demand to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, making it very clear that this is a crime. The more we hear words that carry moral imputations, the more we understand the criminal nature of the act.

As you know, I rarely, if ever, make moral arguments. In this instance, the strongest argument is for clarity. The Trump-Zelensky call reeks of extortion and attempts to bribe the latter with money already allocated to his government by Congress. It’s also called wire fraud. Those are all words that people understand. Latin is for legal eagles and Catholic clerics. It does not soar with the vox populi, I mean, general public.

Words matter. Language is important, especially in this age of obfuscation, truthiness, and newspeak. George Orwell summed it up best 73 years ago in his classic essay, Politics and the English Language. Here are a few pertinent passages. I’m snipping some specific examples to boil Orwell’s argument down to its essence.

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. <SNIP> Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.

<SNIP>

The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.

News reporters should keep it simple and leave the lofty language and exaggerated metaphors to the pundits. Above all else, skip the Latin and call a bribe a bribe and extortion extortion. Enough with the quid pro quos.

The last word goes to Kiwi rock demigod Dave Dobbyn:

Jim Jordan To The Rescue?

In their infinite wisdom, the House Republican leadership have decided that only one member (tool?) can save the day:

House Republican leadership is looking to load up the Intelligence Committee with some of President Donald Trump’s top defenders, including Rep. Jim Jordan, as the panel has become ground zero for impeachment.

“If Democrats are going to turn Intel into the impeachment committee, I am going to make adjustments to that committee accordingly, for a short period of time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told POLITICO.

McCarthy is well known as one of the most sycophantic Trumpers of all so this move isn’t shocking. What’s shocking is that McCarthy spoke in a complete sentence, which is something the incoherent House Republican leader isn’t known for. Who among us can forget his “untrustable in Hungria” remarks in 2015?

Since his glory days as a nattering nabob of negativism, McCarthy has become the Insult Comedian’s favorite ventriloquist’s dummy. He shares a last name with Edgar Bergen’s Charlie McCarthy but is more like Mortimer Snerd who put the dumb in dummy:

In addition to turning a blind eye to sexual abuse while a wrestling coach at Ohio State, Jim Jordan is best known for hectoring witnesses as a member of the House oversight and judiciary committees. The Politico article describes him as “one of Trump’s best attack dogs.” It’s the only kind of dog the Insult Comedian likes. They should check Jordan for rabies, he’s known to froth at the mouth and go full metal unjacketed.

Another thing Jim Jordan is known for is never wearing his suit jacket. I’m uncertain if he appears unjacketed to show off his manly biceps or because he’s always spoiling for a fight. In either event, it makes him look as ridiculous as he really is as does the internet’s pet name for the former wrestler, Gym Jordan. I do, however, like his almonds…

When I first heard that Jim Jordan was coming to the rescue, an old song popped into my head, Jim Dandy To The Rescue. It was originally recorded by an R&B artist, LaVern Baker. But the version that fits Jim Jordan is this one:

Jim Jordan was born to play creepy redneck BOA frontman, Jim Dandy Mangrum, even though Jordan is NOT a dandy, but we’re changing the title to Jim Jordan To The Rescue in any event. Just visualize Kevin McCarthy in a red fright wig screeching “Go, Jim Jordan, Go.” It’s a winner, I tell ya.

I hope you’ll forgive me for that earworm but sometimes I cannot help myself. I have a cold or otherwise I’d write some new lyrics for that venerable tune. Instead, I’ll just go, Jim Dandy, go.

The last word/meme goes to the anti-hero of the day, the one and only Buckeye bozo Jim Jordan as he goes full metal unjacketed:

Vindman’s Good Twin & Other Oddities

We’re all familiar with the trope about evil twins. It turns out that key impeachment inquiry witness Alexander Vindman has a good twin:

Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an NSC lawyer specializing in ethics, may be asked to testify in the wake of his twin brother’s, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s, bombshell hearing this week.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Yevgeny Vindman witnessed the decision to move the call memo of President Donald Trump’s conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to the secure server. During that conversation, Alexander Vindman also voiced his concerns to NSC lawyer John Eisenberg about the content of the call.

What are the odds that twin brothers are both army officers working at the White House? Cue The Twilight Zone theme.

I’m surprised that the Insult Comedian and his media minions haven’t concocted some twin-based conspiracy theory to explain away Trump’s phone call follies. I guess none of them have seen David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers in which doctor twins trade places to be all evil and shit.  That would be too clever for the peabrains in the White House.

Instead, Team Trump is likely to mutter about foreignness and otherness. President* Pennywise seems to have developed a pathological hatred of Ukrainians, which is particularly obscene in regard to the Vindman brothers whose parent are Jews who fled persecution in the Soviet Union. Remember when the GOP was the party of the firiest  Cold Warriors? The airport guys, Ronald Reagan and John Foster Dulles, are rolling in the graves right now.

In other odd scandal news, I was struck by this image of former NSC Russia expert, Timothy Morrison, on his way to testify:

It looks like a scene out of the old teevee series Land Of The Giants. I googled Morrison’s height and he turns out to be a 7-footer. No wonder there are no pictures of him with his former master.

It won’t be long until Morrison is denounced by his fellow right-wingers as a teller of tall tales. Those are shots he’s likely to block: he’s certainly got the wingspan.

It’s time to tie the disparate threads of this post together with a They Might Be Giants song, My Evil Twin:

I know I said that Yevgeny Vindman was Alexander’s good twin. What’s a little artistic license among friends?

Speaking of twin tunes, the last word goes to Elvis Costello:

 

The Latest Smear Campaign

Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman is a dream witness. All of the legal commentators have been cooing over him. As the first witness to have first-hand knowledge of the Trump-Zelensky phone call, he’s one of the most important figures to emerge in the impeachment inquiry. Vindman is now one of the leading figures in what Jonathan Alter has called the “patriotic surge” of national security professionals testifying against Trump.

One side’s dream witness is the other side’s nightmare. You’ve heard about the smears so I won’t repeat them here. Suffice it to say pro-Trump pundits and media outlets have launched a xenophobic, bigoted, mendacious, and moronic assault on Vindman. They’re like monkeys throwing shit against the wall, hoping that some of it will stick. It’s what they do. They’ve been doing it for a long time.

The MSM has presented  as heroes the few GOPers who have expressed qualms about the attacks on a decorated military man. I call bullshit. Do I need to remind people about Liz Cheney’s deranged daddy? You know, the guy who sounded sane because he spoke in a monotone but was a batshit crazy chickenhawk who benefited from smears against those who served. Dick Cheney supported the Vietnam War but didn’t serve because he had “other priorities.” John Kerry opposed the war but served anyway.

In addition to calling bullshit on elected GOPers who were shocked, shocked by the Vindman smear, Charlie Pierce took on the Never Trumpers:

Where, for example, were the Never Trump concerns about slandering war heroes in 2002, when wounded veteran Max Cleland was slandered as a terrorist sympathizer by Republicans in support of Saxby Chambliss—a campaign, it should be noted, advised by current Never Trump hero Rick Wilson? (It was so bad that Republican senator Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran himself, threatened to come to Georgia and campaign for Cleland if the Chambliss campaign didn’t knock it off.) Where were they when the Swift Boats sailed in 2004? Where were they in New York at the 2004 Republican National Convention? Did they upbraid the people with the Purple Heart Band-Aids? Did they say squat about slandering that decorated war hero in the years between John Kerry’s defeat and Donald Trump’s victory? If they did, I didn’t hear it.

The sainted Rick Wilson? The guy who presumes to give advice to Democrats on how to do politics? Wilson *is* funny but anyone who was involved with the disgusting smear of Max Cleland should be shunned unless and until they issue a grovelling apology, which Wilson thus far hasn’t done.

Thanks to Charlie for pointing out Wilson’s role in the 2002 Georgia Senate race. I did not know Wilson was one of the monkeys throwing shit in that race. Remember that the next time you see him opining on MSNBC.

Wilson claims the Cleland smears weren’t about his “service but his votes.” You be the judge:

I think  calling someone unpatriotic *is* an attack on their service, especially when one  candidate was a disabled veteran and the other a Republican chickenhawk.

Lee Atwater apologized for his smear laden career. Why can’t Rick Wilson?

The Sound Of Boobirds

President* Pennywise attended part of a World Series game last night. The Washington Nationals did not invite him so baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is the most likely culprit. He went golfing with the Insult Comedian and Little Lindsey yesterday. Manfred Mann and the Red Baron should sue to get their name back.

Anyway, the fans greeted Trump with boos and catcalls:

I wouldn’t have yelled “lock him up” because it’s unoriginal but I have no problem with those who did unlike the pompous Morning Joe guy:

It’s called exercising your First Amendment free speech rights, Joe. Use it or lose it. The Insult Comedian would prefer the latter.

Here’s the Boss Lady’s take on the civility chorus:

America has a proud tradition of dissing the Chief Magistrate, especially when they’re not magisterial. We’ve held elections during wars for national survival: the Civil War and World War II; in both cases the incumbents were worried they’d lose. The Republic can survive a bit of heckling. The real question is whether it can survive an Insult Comedian with a nutria pelt atop his head.

Here’s an example of lese majeste circa 1974:

I considered making the Morning Joe guy malaka of the week but, as always, went with the better title. Besides, he’s not the only one pearl clutching this morning. I can still, however, call him Malaka Joe. That felt good.

As Americans we have the right to heckle, hector, boo, and even chant “lock him up.” The latter is called sarcasm, which is a tool the Insult Comedian uses all the damn time. It’s all projection which is a tool that the Kaiser of Chaos uses all the damn time. Civility and Trump are strangers. Why should we be polite to this mook? Rudeness is what the fucker understands. Fuck the civility chorus.

Remember when Trump mentioned Al Capone in the same breath as Paul Manafort? I had a ball with that. Capone, of course, was a Cubs fan and attended many games.  Matthew Dowd name dropped Scarface Al:

I’m pretty sure that’s Wrigley Field but the analogy is still apt. At least Capone took his kid to a ballgame, not Matt Gaetz, who’s just a juvenile delinquent.

Speaking of the Cubs:

It *was* Wrigley, not Comiskey. I like being right, as Gore Vidal once said:

This was fun. I got to mock one of my favorite targets, talk baseball, and quote one of my favorite writers. In the end, Trump might want to take this advice from WC Fields, which is not on his tombstone but should be:

That’s bad advice. It’s called irony like anti-Trumpers using a Trump rally chant. They’ll boo anyone or anything in Philadelphia. Philly Boobirds make DC Boobirds look sedate. I’d hate to give Malaka Joe the vapors again.

Repeat after me: heckling at a ballgame is as American as baseball and apple pie.

Finally, a reminder that  the great Tommy T is overheated from wearing a hazmat suit and dealing with the Freeper cesspool. He’s taking a well-deserved break. See ya  in the funny papers, pal.

It’s Good To Be Fake King

I wrote about Team Trump’s surreal and specious legal arguments two weeks ago. They’re at it again. This time in an appeal of the New York financial records case:

[Manhattan District Attorney General Counsel Carrey ] Dunne brought up Trump’s famous statement when he caught fire during the 2016 Republican primary, saying, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

“If he did pull out a handgun and shoot someone on Fifth Ave,” Dunne asked, “would the local police be restrained?”

“Would we have to wait for impeachment?” he added.

<SNIP>

But when Consovoy retook the podium with his booming voice and somewhat bilious affect, fielding more questions from the court, he doubled down on his argument that congressional, federal, and state bodies are forbidden from investigating a sitting President.

Judge Chin raised Dunne’s point. He asked Consovoy for his “view on the Fifth Avenue example.”

“Local authorities couldn’t investigate, they couldn’t do anything about it?” he asked.

“No,” replied a visibly annoyed Consovoy amid stifled chortles.

“Nothing could be done? That’s your position?” Chin repeated.

“That is correct, that is correct,” Consovoy responded, before qualifying it by saying that a president could be prosecuted after leaving office. He also conceded that documents could be gathered in the course of such an investigation.

Boiled down to its less bilious essence, lawyer Consomme’s argument is that the president* is above the law; that’s some weak-n-watery broth. That argument was called “repugnant” by the trial judge and had courtroom observers laughing yesterday. The only reason it’s funny is that Team Trump’s attempt to take Manhattan is doomed to fail. Before going into details, a brief musical interlude:

The only question is whether the court will rule narrowly and bounce it back to the trial court or write a detailed and scathing opinion. Trump’s lawyers will appeal in either event but the Supremes are unlikely to grant cert on a narrow opinion. But if the Second Circuit is feeling expansive, it would be an excellent test of whether the current court is conservative or radical: only a rabid wingnut could buy Trump’s “l’etat est moi” argument.

It’s a pity that lawyer Consomme didn’t attack the “phony emoluments clause” as part of his case. I’d be interested to see how the SCOTUS originalists  would react to that. Silent Clarence might even speak during an oral arguments on that point.

In other Trumper legal madness, a lawyer for one of Giuliani’s goons, Lev Parnas, claimed executive privilege. Rudy’s bagman was part of Trump’s legal team? This ridiculous argument won’t fly: it’s yet another ploy to buy time.

The most interesting thing about the Giuliani goon case is whether they’ll roll over on Rudy. That, in turn, would force Rudy to contemplate throwing Trump to the wolves. It’s possible. Their relationship has always been transactional as pointed out in a must read piece by Michael Kruse at Politico Magazine.

Trump’s legal strategy, such as it is, is to kick the can down the road. It’s unlikely that his lawyers believe their own argument. The president* is NOT above the law and if he were, such extreme power could not be based on Justice Department memos.

The Kaiser of Chaos *is* stupid enough to believe that he’s above the law after a lifetime of getting away with everything. The courts are unlikely to buy these specious and surreal arguments. If Trump is surprised by this, he’s truly the King of Fools. The last word goes to Dwight Yoakam:

Yeah, I know. The title led you to expect Tom Petty would get the last word. I hate to disappoint my readers:

 

Bush Era Flashbacks

 

Image by Michael F.

Athenae wrote an excellent piece the other day reminding us of the similarities between the last two Republican presidents. The arrogance and incompetence of the Bush presidency is being whitewashed by people who worked for him before joining the punditocracy. W had better manners and used his inside voice more often than the Insult Comedian but his administration was only marginally less mendacious than the Trump regime.

Two things happened today that gave me Bush era flashbacks. First, President* Pennywise gave his very own Mission Accomplished speech. He’s taking credit for a fragile cease fire imposed by Turkey and Russia, declaring victory, and pretending to withdraw from the Middle East. In fact, American troops are being shuffled to Iraq and Saudi Arabia. I was under the impression those were Middle Eastern countries.

Second, House Republicans are staging 2019’s version of the infamous Brooks Brothers Riot of 2000. The only difference is that Roger Stone stage managed the assault of the assholes in Miami. This time around it’s the Gret Stet’s own Steve Scalise. Roger couldn’t make it: he’s awaiting trial.

I don’t mind the Congressional stunt. It’s a noisy process argument and you know what I think of process arguments: THEY’RE LOSERS. It’s what happens when you defend the indefensible.

Another thing Bush and Trump have in common is that both lost the popular vote and were elected because of the archaic electoral college, which has always been a bad trip. It’s time for it to go.

Flashback Wednesday has been a bad trip. Bummer, man.

The last word goes to CSNY: we have all been here before.

 

 

Talking Turkey

The fog of scandal is thick and spreading. While it’s true that all roads lead to Russia, there’s at least a back road leading to Turkey. Trump loves autocrats and the Turkish model of government has long been elected autocracy. Erdogan is not the first Turkish strongman and he won’t be the last. It’s why Turkey has always been an odd member of NATO and cannot get into the EU: they have democratic forms but autocratic norms.

As a Greek American, I was raised to be skeptical of Turkish intentions. That upbringing has come in handy since the advent of the Trump regime. I’ve learned that many Americans are unaware of the back story of the Turkish Republic: the Armenian genocide and ethnic cleansing of Anatolian Greeks took place in the era of national hero Kamal Ataturk.

Ataturk was the first president of post-Ottoman Turkey and Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hero and role model. Admiration for a murderous predecessor is something Erdogan and Trump have in common: Ataturk and Andrew Jackson are peas in a bloody pod.

Donald Trump’s business ties to Turkey lurk in the background of this self-created crisis or is that self-inflicted wound? It’s both. It’s time to revisit Kurt Eichenwald’s classic 2016 Newsweek story about the impact of Trump’s business dealings on US national security:

Trump already has financial conflicts in much of the Islamic world, a problem made worse by his anti-Muslim rhetoric and his impulsive decisions during this campaign. One of his most troubling entanglements is in Turkey. In 2008, the Trump Organization struck a branding deal with the Dogan Group, named for its owners, one of the most politically influential families in Turkey. Trump and Dogan first agreed that the Turkish company would pay a fee to put the Trump name on two towers in Istanbul.

When the complex opened in 2012, Trump attended the ribbon-cutting and declared his interest in more collaborations with Turkish businesses and in making significant investments there. In a sign of the political clout of the Dogan family, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Trump and even presided over the opening ceremonies for the Trump-branded property.

Dogan’s subsequent falling out with Erdogan may well have given the latter leverage over President* Pennywise. That’s unclear but what *is* clear is that this is a glaring conflict of interest. Trump has been mighty solicitous of the Turkish president even parroting Erdogan’s talking points about the Kurds as “terrorists” and “no angels.” Neither Erdogan nor Trump are angels either.

Trump’s henchman Rudy Giuliani followed in the footsteps of Mike Flynn and lobbied the president* to eject Muslim cleric and Erdogan foe, Fethullah Gulen, which is one of the Turkish regime’s top foreign policy objectives. In case you’re wondering why, Gulen is a former Erdogan ally who provided much of the intellectual heft in the early days of the ruling Justice and Development Party. Few feuds are bitterer than those between former friends. It’s another reason the US should not expel Gulen: we shouldn’t help a foreign leader in a personal vendetta.

I wonder if Trump either knows or cares that Erdogan’s party origins are Islamist. That’s right: the anti-Muslim xenophobe is in bed with an Islamist leader. All the Insult Comedian cares about are his personal relationships with foreign leaders even if his friendship with Erdogan makes him a hypocrite. Trump is used to accusations of hypocrisy: his record is full of contradictions, after all.

I also wonder if Trump knows or cares about Turkey’s ambitions to become a nuclear power. The United States used to oppose nuclear proliferation but if you flatter the Current Occupant that can change. Just ask the Communist dictator with the bad haircut: he’s been playing this president* with his “beautiful” letters.

If the Kaiser of Chaos had any knowledge of, or interest in, history, he’d know that Erdogan is a “bad hombre.” Hell, even if he read his briefing papers or listened to his military advisers, he’d understand that Turkish intentions in Northern Syria are malign. They want to drive the Kurds out of that area, which constitutes ethnic cleansing. The Turks and their Sunni Muslim allies are not above genocide either.

The horrible thing is that this crisis all started with a phone call and a green light. Trump’s latest self-inflicted wound is getting people killed. All the denials and fake cease fires in the world won’t wash the blood off Trump’s hands.

I wrote this first thing Monday morning, but I need a shot of whiskey. Some musical Wild Turkey will have to do:

The Week In Stupid Trumper Tricks

President* Trump is on a roll. He’s done a lot of stupid shit this week even for him. He was the one who tweeted the Pelosi picture with the caption “Nervous Nancy’s Unhinged Meltdown,” when he was the one who had the meltdown. What a lame decision, lame nickname, lame everything. Like Tom Cruise’s character in A Few Good Men, the Insult Comedian cannot handle the truth. Apologies to Jack Nicholson.

The meltdown occurred when the Speaker, quite correctly, pointed out that the Putin regime is the beneficiary of the impulsive and stupid policy shift in North Syria:

Today’s stupid Trumper trick was the announcement by acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, that the G-7 *will* be held at Trump Doral in Miami. Are they that stupid? Is Trump that greedy? Those were rhetorical questions, of course they are.

One more thing. Why the hell is Mulvaney still acting Chief of Staff? The position doesn’t require Senate confirmation. Is he acting out or acting up?

This week’s final stupid Trumper trick was the release of the letter Trump sent to Turkish President Erdogan. It was so OTT nutty and semi-literate that reporters were skeptical that it was real. The White House confirmed its authenticity. Dipshits.

One wonders what Erdogan thought of this incoherent epistle. It was probably some Turkish variation on, “I’m gonna get you, sucka.”

The last word goes to the Kaiser of Chaos with the last two sentences of the Erdogan letter: “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool.”

An exclamation point was withheld to protect the guilty.

John Bolton Is An Honest Asshole, Not A Hero

Who among us didn’t enjoy this quote from the NYT’s coverage of Fiona Hill’s testimony?

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer, told Ms. Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to two people at the deposition. (Another person in the room initially said Mr. Bolton referred to Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mulvaney, but two others said he cited Mr. Sondland.)

It was not the first time Mr. Bolton expressed grave concerns to Ms. Hill about the campaign being run by Mr. Giuliani. “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” Ms. Hill quoted Mr. Bolton as saying during an earlier conversation.

Some people have gotten carried away. I’ve heard Bolton called an unlikely hero. I’m unlikely to ever agree with that characterization. Bolton is an ideologue who is obsessed with regime change in Iran. Ideologues are often honest and straight-forward. Just because he’s relatively honest does not make John Bolton heroic: he’s still a war mongering asshole, not a hero.

A reminder of who John Bolton is:

 

Lock Them Up?

During a crisis there’s always the temptation to fight fire with fire, especially when the executive branch is trying to burn the government down. It’s tempting to say “lock them up” when an executive branch official under “orders” defies a congressional subpoena. But however appealing the idea is, it’s always wise to look before leaping into what could turn out to be a ring of fire.

I pride myself on my knowledge of Congress and its history. That’s why I’ve been telling people that Congress lacks the power to arrest contemnors and must rely on referrals to the Justice Department to enforce contempt citations. We all know how that would go with Bill Barr in charge. Those contempt citations would disappear into a black hole and become part of Barr’s contemptible cover-up.

It turns out I was wrong about the whole arrest power thing. Here’s how Cornell Law professor Josh Chafetz explains it in a New York Times op-ed:

The House should instead put back on the table the option of using its sergeant-at-arms to arrest contemnors — as the person in violation of the order is called — especially when an individual, like Rudy Giuliani, is not an executive branch official. Neither house of Congress has arrested anyone since 1935, but it was not uncommon before that point (and was blessed by the Supreme Court in 1927).

There are some major problems with the superficially appealing notion of Congress resorting to its power of inherent contempt. Let me list the defects:

First, any power that has not been exercised in 84 years is suspect. It opens the door to valid-sounding criticism of the majority. Just because Congress has this power doesn’t mean they should set the dial on the Wayback Machine to 1935 and dust it off. The mere thought makes me sneeze. Achoo.

Second, they do not have facilities to house contemnors (my new favorite word) and the US Marshal Service is unlikely to be willing to transport people to the nearest federal slammer. Their big boss is the Attorney General who is the Contemnor-in-Chief’s henchman.

That means that contemnors would have to be held in empty offices, the mail room, or subway tunnels. This would look ad-hoc and improvised as well as opening the door to valid-sounding criticism of the majority that could undermine the growing popularity of the impeachment inquiry. Why create martyrs? Especially when the other side is adept at playing the victim card. It’s one of the few things they do well.

Third, invoking inherent contempt gets us bogged down in another procedural argument that will lead to litigation. Political junkies, lawyers, and Senators may like procedural arguments but the public hates them. Procedural arguments are not only boring, they’re losers. We should stick to the substantive arguments in favor of impeachment and removal instead of discussing process. Hell, I’m a political junkie and my eyes glaze over when process is the subject of the day.

As emotionally satisfying as it would be to see Don McGahn, Rudy Giuliani, Hope Hicks, and other miscreants frogmarched to the pokey, it’s a loser in the court of public opinion and impeachment is a political process. Just because the Insult Comedian lacks impulse control does not mean his opponents should follow suit.

Adam Schiff’s big picture strategy of folding contempt of Congress into the articles of impeachment is a wise one. We already have the smoking gun: the White House memo describing the Trump-Zelensky call. Getting bogged down in procedural arguments will slow things down and make the fog of scandal even denser. There’s already too much denseness in Washington as is.

My answer to the rhetorical question posed in the title is a resounding NO. Democrats should be the smart party, let the Republicans be the stupid party. They’ve earned the title.

The last word goes to Crowded House: