Government

Is this trial about 2016? No.

On the eve of the Senate impeachment trial against Donald J. Trump, many arguments are being floated in his defense. Most are thin. Some are untrue. One is that this trial is merely a continuation of the election of 2016. Kellyanne Conway reiterated this argument last night on Fox News. It is constantly posted on Twitter. Democrats are crying babies who cannot get over the fact that Hillary Clinton lost the election.

Hillary Clinton lost the election. She was lazy, and tired, and assumed things about her base that were not true, that they would vote Democrat no matter what, that they would never put a person like Donald J. Trump in office, that it was her turn. She was wrong, and we have her to thank for this administration.

Donald won the election. The impeachment has nothing to do with the seamy actions of this President. He violated his oath of office. He tried to bribe an official of a foreign government. He was looking for dirt on his opponent, Joe Biden. He withheld funds. He refused to allow any of the members of his administration testify about his actions, because he realized that what he did was a crime, and many of them realized it too. For that reason he obstructed an investigation. He misused his office for personal gain. You don’t do that.

This trial is about misusing the office of the Presidency for personal gain, and trying to hide that fact from Congress. It is about a leader who committed a crime. It is not about 2016. Donald Trump won that election. That does not mean he can commit crimes while in office.

The Right’s Nonsense

The talking heads are not being delicate about it anymore; the right is spouting nonsense that makes no argument for Donald Trump. They have run out of talking points, and after this week, they will have even fewer.

The no-first-person defense alleges that all of this is hearsay, and that we have yet to hear from anyone who was actually in the room at the time of the alleged crime. We think that argument will disappear this week.

The no-harm argument is one that reaches below the level that Republicans have gone before this point. This sad little crime got started and immediately hit the news. There was very little time for anyone to do anything except release the funds. So what if Donny tried to commit a crime? No harm was done.

The everyone-else-did-it argument holds that this is how government works, and that Donny was not doing anything that was different from any other negotiation with a foreign government

The harmless-idiot defense must really have the White House cringing. Republicans argue that Donny is a nice guy, he just made a tiny mistake. Bribery and extortion become a tiny mistake? What do you have to do to get convicted in Washington? Don’t answer that.

The most comical is the he-did-more-than-Obama defense. The story goes that Donny gave weapons to Ukraine, and that is more than Barack Obama ever did. We really don’t understand what that has to do with bribery and extortion, but when it comes out of the mouth of Jim Jordan, we are sure that somewhere out there, devoted Trump followers are high-fiving this as complete justification and exoneration.

The impeachment inquiry is about using the power of the government to gain an advantage over a political rival. That is what it appears that Donald Trump did. You can make all kinds of excuses for this action, but you cannot make it right. We don’t do that in this country.

“I Barely Know Him”

Roger Stone has been found guilty on all seven counts. Will Donald Trump suddenly forget him? He does that a lot, especially when one of his accomplices gets caught doing something underhanded, like lying to Congress.

What about a pardon? Do all of these people that the President does not know get pardons when he leaves office? Does it depend on whether they stay silent about what the boss did? What they overheard him saying? What they did for him?

Will Michael Cohen get the same treatment as some of the troops that never said anything? Does Paul Manafort have a better chance of walking? What about Flynn?

Or will Donald Trump walk away from all of them? We already know he likes heroes who don’t get caught. I wonder what Roger thinks about that?

The Smoking Gub

Woody Allen used the poor handwriting of a novice bank robber to make a joke about his villain/hero, who presents a note to a bank teller that she cannot read.

I wonder if anyone is reading the notes that Adam Schiff and the Impeachment Inquiry are sending out to the viewers of the much hyped hearings? Is anyone getting this? The talking heads are. They see a clear path to impeachment. We are not so sure.

Is there a smoking gub? Yes, but will it change anything? Probably not. The nation’s minds seem to be made up. Even if Rep. Schiff found a recording of the President shaking down the Ukranian President for juicy dirt on the Biden’s, we doubt whether anyone would give a damn.

And that is bad news for the Democrats. After Mueller, things will look pretty bad if they lose another round of hearings in the House. Face it, the economy is still roaring. Perhaps not for the average Joe, but he seems to be thinking that good times are just around the corner for him. Why risk that for a so-called illegal phone call?

This is not Watergate. Times have changed. The idea of a populist in the White House is not so scary to many citizens anymore. Many think that Donald Trump is doing okay, even if he screws up now and then. Yes, he lies a lot, but these are venal sins when unemployment is the best in fifty years.

That is disgusting to the many decent public servants who have had to suffer under the relentless attacks of a man they neither respect nor want in office, and to the journalists who are hated by his followers. No matter.

Republicans in the Senate will probably not convict him. Their excuses may be thin, but they believe the same of the allegations. After three years of defending this President, they see no downside to staying with him on this one.

That seems to be where we are.

Bloomberg Tests The Waters

Michael Bloomberg stuck his toe in the 2020 waters. Is he concerned about the center of the party, about Biden’s sinking fortunes, about the hard left threatening to sink the ship?

Donald Trump is still a powerful force in electoral college politics. He may lose by six million popular votes, but he could weasel out a win in the electoral college. Imagine four more years of conman bull-sh*t. Invest in antacids and liquor stores if this comes true.

Bloomberg is solid center of the road, democrat-style, and that soothes the undecided. No medicare for all. No nanny-state socialism. But no hard turn to the left either. One wonders what the difference will be. It will be steady leadership, not rule by whimsy. That is how he will sell himself, a younger more balanced leader.

Sondland Sings

“Quid Pro Quo? I am so sorry. I thought you said Squid Pro Quo! I can categorically state that there was no discussion about trading squid for dirt on the Bidens. “

Gordon Sondland is a wealthy contributor to Donald Trump, a solid Republican, Ambassador to the EU, and no fool. When he began to get involved in the Trump dealings, he assumed that whatever was happening was no big deal, and that he could play this right along with the boss. So, what suddenly changed his mind?

It could be that he has skin in the game, that he did not realize the gravity of the situation he was in, and was not willing to take one for Donny. He has seen what comes of men who do.

Two Little Warriors

Rand Paul has succumbed to the same disease as Lindsey Graham, a collapse of morals in the face of The Donald, a melting away of all the libertarian jive, the Ayn Randian individualism, the curly-haired rebel of the Senate. He now crawls on his belly to the beast, in the hopes that said beast will allow him yet another term in office. He plays the whistleblower card like Donny tells him, and stands before the public, his master looking on approvingly, but not like Gary Cooper, no, not even close. This is Ellsworth Toohey, leading the conservative mediocrity to perdition.

Likewise chicken hawk Lindsey, ‘Little Lindsey’ as Donny so often referred to him on the campaign trail, once all piss and vinegar about matters military, now just another weenie in the Senate bowing to his master. The strong man is now Rudy the second, making foolish claims about nothing, to please his new BFF.

We are watching men lower themselves to the level of Donald Trump. It is sad, and it is embarrassing.

Sure, they talk tough, and fold on demand. They play games with the press, making comments about how they disagree with the President on this or that, but when the rubber hits the road, they are the wheels on the shiny red Trump wagon.

What caused this betrayal of everything they both held sacred? Math. It does not matter how well you are loved in your district. Donny firmly holds his dirty thirty percent, and without them, there is no way to win. Alienate them and they will primary you, hate you, or worse, just not vote for you.

This is the quandary Republicans face right now. They only need to piss off one man, and the future becomes exceedingly bleak for them. And they are all in this together, and all in this alone. They face the President as individuals, and there is no way to band together and fight him. They may play as a team, but each one stands at the plate alone. Even the two little warriors, who war no more.

The New Innocence

Republicans have put forth all manner of nonsense to defend President Donald J. Trump from the allegation that he did exactly what he said he did in his own transcript. They have no fallen to the worst excuse imaginable: The President did not succeed, in which case, he must be innocent.

This follows the failed ‘process argument’, in which it was argued that no matter what the President said in the transcript, Democrats were not giving enough light to the closed testimony in the SCIF room, which they painted as a sort of star chamber run by the worst of the worst, Adam Schiff, a man known to use Spanish Inquisition tactics when interrogating hapless witnesses. It did not matter that Republicans were also in the room, that everyone was given time to question each witness, and that the closed door sessions would be followed by full disclosure in the House. No, valiant Republicans like Matt Gaetz stormed the room, demanding what we are not sure, with the exception of a good media moment.

What could be more ridiculous? Insisting that failure to commit a crime makes the President innocent. That ignorance of the law is not a crime anymore. That is was a little, insignificant crime, not worthy of impeachment. Ever heard of venal sins?

Trail lawyers should be giddy. You drove drunk and no one was hurt? Innocent. You shot at your wife and missed? Innocent. You tried to influence a foreign nation to find dirt on your opponent? No dirt was found? Innocent.

“Your honor, my client did not know it was a crime, and anyhow, he didn’t succeed.”

Never Speak Truth To Power

‘Sick Mick’ Mulvaney knows how to navigate the corridors of power in the White House; don’t tell the boss anything he doesn’t want to hear.

When it comes to North Korea, don’t mention that Kim Jung Il is a snake from the same murderous line that spawned his father and grandfather. Don’t bring up the fact that Dear Leader is the biggest mass murderer of North Koreans, that he lies to everyone who tries to negotiate with him, and that he is playing the President like a cheap fiddle.

Don’t let him know that people flooding our borders will only get worse unless we start working with the governments of South America to stop the gang wars and help the people, or that most of the immigrants are not murdering drug mules, but people trying to escape the madness with their families.

Don’t tell him that NATO has kept a delicate balance and prevented war in Europe, and that you don’t treat your allies like dirt.

Don’t tell him that Vladimir Putin is a common thug, running a corrupt country with the same tactics any dictator would use.

Don’t tell him his electoral victory was not a mandate, that he never won the popular vote, and that he won only by lying to his base.

Good job, Mick. Traditional wisdom holds that speaking truth to power is the best way to help a leader.

Liz Cheney poised for ascent into Republican leadership 

Democrats breathed a sigh of relief when it was learned that Liz Cheney wants to be a leader of the House GOP.

“I’ve got a hunting dog who has better leadership skills. And the dog can fetch!”, said one Democrat.

:-)

From The Houston Chronicle

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) – Liz Cheney has had a quiet first term as congresswoman, but that’s about to change. She’s seeking a House Republican leadership post that’s key to her party’s strategy against next year’s Democratic majority.If she succeeds, Cheney will be the only woman in House Republican leadership – and follow in the footsteps of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who won the same post more than 30 years ago.She is seeking the position of GOP conference chair, which would put her at the forefront of the House GOP’s communications strategy when Democrats take over the chamber in January. House Republicans are looking for a more forceful approach to communications.

Source: Liz Cheney poised for ascent into Republican leadership – Houston Chronicle