Tonight’s News

meat puppet

Washington Post, Mueller complained that Barr’s letter did not capture ‘context’ of Trump probe

One of many valid ways of looking at this evening’s developments is see the opportunity for a fun parlor game: trying to figure out what in the world Bill Barr is doing.

Barr has been acting as Trump’s meat puppet. He has repeatedly lied his ass off in public. And he has either lied under oath to Congress, or gone within about one millimeter of committing perjury in his congressional testimony. What he may have done in private, we don’t know at this point.

One theoretical explanation is that Barr does not know what he is doing and does not grasp the consequences of what he is doing. Despite the news tonight, I believe that explanation is highly implausible. It might apply to fifth-raters like Sarah Sanders or Kellyanne Conway. But Barr’s experience and accomplishments prove he knows how to think ahead three steps in the chess game. Hell, he can probably think ahead twenty-four steps in the chess game.

A second theoretical explanation is that, blinded by the glory of a second gig as Attorney General of the United States, and covetous of the money and career advancement that might come from high government service, Barr has simply sold out. This is unpersuasive. Barr has all the money he will ever need, his resume needs no burnishing, and he risks going down in the history books with the likes of Aaron Burr and John Mitchell. Seeking money and prestige as an explanation for Barr’s bizarre conduct just does not cut the mustard.

A third theoretical explanation is that he has just swallowed the Kook-Aid and joined the Cult of Trump. I regard this as slightly less unlikely than the first or second explanations, but it’s certainly not consistent with his background and associations.

The fourth possibility is that he sought the post of Attorney General so that he could achieve some as-yet-publicly-unidentified goal. That, to keep his position as Attorney General, he has to appear to the world, and appear to Donald Trump, to be Trump’s shameless meat puppet. And that that is exactly the role he is playing—pretty much to the point of parody—in order to keep his job and thus to have some chance to achieve whatever it is he returned to Washington to achieve.

Barr is not stupid. He understands that, to keep your job under Trump, you have to kiss Trump’s ass effusively and you have to kiss your own reputation goodbye. And he has made a clear choice to do just that.

He does not grit his teeth and kiss the ring, like General Mattis and others. Oh, no. He goes into full-throated prevarication and shameless neglect of duties.

I’ll go even a little further. Barr’s act is so comically bad at actually doing anything to protect Trump that it may go beyond parody. It may approach sabotage.

For Every Wrong There is a Remedy

rending garments

The fashionable thing to do this week is to pull one’s hair and rend one’s garments over Trump’s stonewalling of Congress—and to predict that he will “win” by “running out the clock” on efforts at congressional oversight.

The technical legal issues raised by this behavior are complicated—truly a thing of beauty. See, for example, Constitutional Hardball and Congress’s Oversight Authority. As for me, my crystal ball is cloudy, my name is not Nostradamus, and I surely have no intent to spend a few months researching the legal issues and to tell Nancy Pelosi exactly how to play this. But I do want to share this insight, born of experience:

A person is not immune from legal accountability merely because he has violated the law in a particularly brazen, audacious, and creative way—so creative that no one before has ever violated the law in quite the same way.

And so, buttressed by a reassuring phone call from Pollyanna, I want to predict that determined politicians on the progressive side, assisted by some astute lawyering, will find a way to make sure the Trumpster’s stonewalling puts him into a world of hurt.

“For every wrong there is a remedy” is a legal maxim.

It’s not literally true for every single moral wrong, without any exception.

But it applies far more often than you might think.

Ignoring the Polls?

WP poll

In a message addressed to my pseudonym, one of my best friends, alluding to this article—Biden holds a slight advantage over nearest 2020 rival, but Democrats are far from making a decision—asks an implied question: “I assume this is a time to ignore polls.”

For what it’s worth, the shot version of my answer is no.

The slightly longer version would be, polls provide relevant information, and it’s never a good idea just to ignore relevant information.

So what can we say?

We see a list of 11 people, only eight of whom are actually running for the Democratic nomination for President. Of the eight actual candidates, two of them, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, each have about 1 percent support.

There are 20 candidates in the race. The collective support accruing to the bottom twelve is now four percent, thus averaging one third of one percent each.

Of the 20 candidates, five achieve support at or above three percent.


Beto O’Rourke is holding his three percent, but seems not to be going anywhere. All hat, no cattle.


She has managed to climb from two percent support to be tied for fourth place, with four percent. I like her style on stage and I like her ideas. But what kind of person who isn’t an Indian tells the bar association that they are an Indian? It’s just weird. And even if we are prepared to forgive and forget this trivial oddity,, I think we’re scared shitless that the Pocahontas label will stick.


She is tied for fourth, but has declined dramatically. Not lookin’ good.


Out of nowheresville, into third place. Very impressive. Needs to tell us more about how he thinks he is going to win.


Growing support, and a strong second place, but may well have a ceiling among Democratic primary voters. I thought he would have defeated Trump in 2016. I think he would defeat Trump in 2020.


“Front runner” at a whopping 13 percent.

Why Does it Currently Seem to be a Contest among Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg?

I think it’s because Democrats sense that these are the three folks best suited by personality, stage presence, and intestinal fortitude to stand up to Trump’s bullshit.

What Would it Take for Someone Else to Break Out?

See answer to the immediately preceding question.

Deplorable Baskets

Hillary Rodham Clinton

So, I was watching the talking heads a couple of days ago, and one of them (sorry, I didn’t get the name) said something like this: Bernie Sanders’ theory is that lots of people voted for a racist, misogynist prick because they want fundamental economic change; Joe Biden’s theory is that they voted for a racist, misogynist prick because they feel forgotten; but my theory, said the talking head, is that they just wanted to vote for a racist, misogynist prick.

Despite the vulgarity, the comment does raise a compelling question: are there any persuadable left, and, if there are, what would it take to persuade them? Particularly when you see results like this: if it’s Trump versus Biden, 34 percent would pick Trump—no big surprise, the only surprise is that the number isn’t a little larger; 42 percent would choose Biden; and 19 percent are undecided.

Nineteen percent undecided?

Who the hell are these people, and what are they thinking?

Well, if the Democratic nominee wants to win the race, then she or he had damn well better be about figuring out who the hell these people are and how to persuade them.

With that thought in mind, let us revisit Hillary’s infamous comments about the basket of deplorables, which I quote in full:

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

Well, she got a piece of it right. Yes, there are different kinds of Trump supporters. And a goodly number of them find him attractive precisely because he’s a racist, misogynist prick. Only it’s not half—it’s about three quarters of them, comprising about one third of the whole electorate.

As to her other basket, my understanding is that pretty much all the subsequent political science research has shown she’s wrong. There are surely economically downtrodden folks among the Trump supporters, but as a whole Trump supporters tend to do about as well economically as anyone else.

Based on my conversations here at Happy Acres, and based on what I have otherwise been able to learn or reason out, the other portion of Trump supporters may be less than thrilled with the more outré features of the Trump shit show, but they are pragmatic Fetus People, Tax Cut People, Deregulation People, and Anti-Brown-and -Black-People People. *

If that is the case, then I really don’t see what Joe Biden, or anyone else, could say to win them over.

That said, why did the Morning Consult/Political poll, conducted April 19-21 among 1,992 registered voters, find that 19 percent were undecided as between Trump and Biden?

Kind of suggests a follow-up question, doesn’t it?

* By the way, I would have a hard time deciding which basket is more “deplorable” than the other. Is it worse to be a natcherl born racist, or to be one who exploits natcherl born racists? Fortunately, I feel no need to arrive at a definitive opinion on this question?

Not Fascism Exactly, But a Herrenvolk Democracy


When I want to go somewhere, I look at a map—these days, of course, it’s a map on my iPhone. I may learn that my destination is close at hand and easy to reach. Or, I may discover bad news: the place I want to go is far away, and there is a big obstacle in the way, like a nine-car crash on the interstate. This is bad news. But the right response is not to denounce the map and the mapmaker. The proper response is not to imagine that the destination is close by, and there are no obstacles—and to set out on my journey based on those pleasingly false assumptions. No, the thing you have to do is, first, understand the obstacle, and second, figure out how to avoid it and still reach your destination.

It is in that spirit that I suggest you approach Adam Serwer, White Nationalism’s Deep American Roots: A long-overdue excavation of the book that Hitler called his “bible,” and the man who wrote it:

America has always grappled with, in the words of the immigration historian John Higham, two “rival principles of national unity.” According to one, the U.S. is the champion of the poor and the dispossessed, a nation that draws its strength from its pluralism. According to the other, America’s greatness is the result of its white and Christian origins, the erosion of which spells doom for the national experiment.

People of both political persuasions like to tell a too-simple story about the course of this battle: World War II showed Americans the evil of racism, which was vanquished in the 1960s. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act brought nonwhites into the American polity for good. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 forever banished the racial definition of American identity embodied in the 1924 immigration bill, forged by Johnson and Reed in their crusade to save Nordic Americans from “race suicide.”

The truth is that the rivalry never ended, and Grantism, despite its swift wartime eclipse, did not become extinct. The Nazis, initially puzzled by U.S. hostility, underestimated the American commitment to democracy. As the Columbia historian Ira Katznelson writes in Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time(2013), the South remained hawkish toward Nazi Germany because white supremacists in the U.S. didn’t want to live under a fascist government. What they wanted was a herrenvolk democracy, in which white people were free and full citizens but nonwhites were not.

Fiat Iustitia ne Pereat Mundus

fiat iustitia

In Blow to Old Boys’ Club, Female Broker Wins the Right to Expose Co-Worker Who Shit in Her Mug: A judge has ruled Cantor Fitzgerald cannot enforce an arbitration agreement involving Lee Stowell, whose co-workers allegedly used her Bernie Sanders mug as atoilet.

In Other Law-Related News …

Matt Ford, The Court of Supremely Bad Faith: This term, the conservative justices are dreaming up alternate realities to justify their preordained conclusions:

A growing number of Democrats have embraced court-packing as a solution to the conservative grip on the Supreme Court. Last month, I argued that it would be an irreversible blow to the American tradition of judicial independence. It risks turning the nation’s highest court into something resembling Britain’s House of Lords, a chamber of lifetime appointees whose membership is decided solely by the whims of each new government. Packing the courts is typically the kind of behavior that the State Department condemns when it happens in illiberal democracies and would-be dictatorships.

But those points presumed that the Supreme Court wasn’t already headed that way. If the court’s conservative justices uphold the citizenship question despite all the evidence against it, Democrats could reasonably conclude that the justices are more concerned about maximizing the Republican Party’s electoral prospects than applying the law to the facts at hand. In those circumstances, packing the court wouldn’t be what transforms the court into a purely political force. It would merely finish the job.


Greetings to (I believe) my first reader in Lithuania.

Camels Passing Through the Eye of a Needle

eye of a needle

Caitlin Flanagan, They Had It Coming: The parents indicted in the college-admissions scandal were responding to a changing America, with rage at being robbed of what they believed was rightfully theirs.

Not just informative about the corruption of the elites: a truly epic essay.

David Atkins, Stop Listening to Rich Overconfident Men

A capital suggestion.

Aardvark’s Animadversion

Confucius, for one, would have understood the nub of the situation we are in: unless we can find a way to inculcate a greater sense of morality into our elites, we are doomed.

We may be doomed.

Obviously, I need a visit from my daughter, Pollyanna Aardvark. But she’s tied up this morning, down at the soup kitchen.


Maimonides and Mueller: A Guide for the Perplexed


Washington Post, 5 persistent myths about the Mueller report

So here’s the thing. Let’s say that it’s your job to explain a complicated fact pattern, and to apply, to that complicated fact pattern, a set of subtle and recondite legal concepts. Let’s say that it is, then, your job to explain what you have done in a document of several hundred pages. Let’s say your intended audience is largely made up of people inclined to think in slogans rather than multi-step logical analysis. And let’s say you are working in an environment where a lot of smart but badly intentioned people are going to twist your words to make it sound as if you said something you did not, in fact, say.

And let’s say your object is to be widely understood, notwithstanding the audience’s innate disposition to think in slogans and to nod off when presented with an analysis of any complexity.

How do you proceed?

Well, first of all, you have to think very carefully about how your words might be misunderstood. And about how they are going to be twisted.

And then, having thought long and hard on these matters, you need to write REALLY, REALLY CLEARLY.

By these standards, the Mueller report is not quite up to snuff.

I don’t know why it’s not up to snuff. But the simplest explanation is that writing clearly about complex legal topics, for a semi-informed audience, is really, really hard to do. Trust me on this.

In any case, the Washington Post piece, by someone named Aaron Blake, cited above, provides some help for the perplexed.

Ixnay on the “Appeasement” Canard


The claim of Democratic “appeasement” is being heard in the land, frequently combined with references to purported lack of manliness. See, for example, Andrew Sullivan, The Appeasement of Donald Trump.

William Butler Yeats wrote, “For the womb the seed sighs.” With that self-same burning desire, Donald Trump craves House passage of articles of impeachment. (Donald Doofus is certain such a development would have the same positive effect on his ratings that it had for Bill Clinton.)

Children, it is not “appeasement” when you don’t take the bait and fight on the ground on which your enemy wants to fight. When the Americans fought the Redcoats, marching up and down in plain sight attired in scarlet apparel, it was not “appeasement” for the patriots to wear old leather clothing, hide behind rocks, and shoot at the enemy. It was just common sense.

All that being said, just because Donald Doofus thinks a thing is in his own interest does not make it true. That’s because he’s a doofus.

To be more specific: think about this potential scenario. The Democrats call witnesses against Trump, and otherwise build on the Mueller report to make the most damning case possible. Maybe, about the same time, the state of New York brings an indictment for a variety of business crimes. The House then passes fact-filled, inculpating articles of impeachment. To which Mitch McConnell responds,, “Fuck you. We’re not going to hold a Senate trial.” (Sullivan raises the possibility of such a McConnell tactic, and I have seen it mentioned elsewhere. McConnell’s overriding goal is to avoid Republican senatorial embarrassment or disunity. It sounds to me very much like the sort of asinine maneuver that would appeal to McConnell’s lizard brain.)

And let’s assume that’s the ground on which the 2020 election is fought: an utterly damning set of articles of impeachment, and an utter failure to refute the charges, because the Senate’s constitutional duty is being disregarded.

In that scenario, I like our odds.

Joe Biden as Rorschach Test

rorschachI haven’t reached a fully considered opinion about Joe Biden as a presidential candidate. But here are two people who have done so—and come out in very different ways:

Paul Waldman, Why Joe Biden can’t escape controversies over his past

David Brooks, Your Average American Joe

But as a start toward a more fully considered opinion, I recall to mind a fundamental axiom from 35 years as a professional advocate: Don’t Tell ‘Em. Show ‘Em.

Biden has begun his current presidential quest by telling people to vote for him because he is not Donald Trump.

I, for one, find that quite a compelling argument. And so, apparently, does David Brooks.

But I surely to shit would not rely on that argument to carry me over the finish line. Because I think my fellow Mericans, as a whole, care a great deal more about health care and inequality than they care about Donald Trump’s many failings.


Greetings to readers today in India, Italy, and the United States. I feel your pain at the political dysfunction in your countries, and hope you feel mine.


Harsh, True, and Funny

Lapping Fox News

We probably need a good laugh this morning, so now for something completely different.

Today, my correspondents are passing around this blast from the past. The letter was addressed to Dr. Laura Schlessinger, but could easily be repurposed in order to seek enlightenment and spiritual nurture from the Very Reverend Franklin Graham.

The letter reads (in one of its various iterations),

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination…End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death.  Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,


(It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian.) 

Yeah, That Pretty Much Sums it Up

The Plum Line observes,

President Trump’s current position on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report is as follows:

1) it proved beyond all doubt that Trump is completely innocent;

2) it was illegal, biased and full of lies;

3) we should move on and get back to the work of governing; and

4) we must keep talking about it.

Cue the flying saucers.

Plan 9

I Knew Things Were Getting Bizarre, But I Hadn’t Anticipated the Flying Saucers



From the Washington Post: How angry pilots got the Navy to stop dismissing UFO sightings:

In some cases, pilots — many of whom are engineers and academy graduates — claimed to observe small spherical objects flying in formation. Others say they’ve seen white, Tic Tac-shaped vehicles. Aside from drones, all engines rely on burning fuel to generate power, but these vehicles all had no air intake, no wind and no exhaust.

“It’s very mysterious, and they still seem to exceed our aircraft in speed,” he said, calling it a “truly radical technology.” …

“If I came to you and said, ‘There are these things that can fly over our country with impunity, defying the laws of physics, and within moments could deploy a nuclear device at will,’ that would be a matter of national security,” Elizondo said.

With the number of U.S. military personnel in the Air Force and Navy who described the same observations, the noise level could not be ignored.

“This type of activity is very alarming,” Elizondo said, “and people are recognizing there are things in our aerospace that lie beyond our understanding.”

To Bigotry No Sanction, To Persecution No Assistance

A Letter to the Jews of Newport


While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

What if Someone Just Ignores a Subpoena?


Last night Dr. Aardvark and I were sitting in connubial contentment watching the PBS Evening News when she asked, “What happens if someone just ignores a subpoena?” I am afraid that my top-of-the-head answer was not entirely complete or accurate.

These two posts provide lots of helpful insights into the question:

Philip Bump, How the Trump-Congress subpoena fight is likely to play out

Martin Longman, Congress Needs to Lock Up Non-Complying Witnesses

Pollyanna Speaks Again

The flavor of the day is gloom and doom over Trump’s ability just to stonewall and “run out the clock.” But I have talked this situation this over with my daughter, Polyanna Aardvark, and she has some helpful thoughts.

First, by signaling that he will oppose any and all subpoenas, Trump has weakened his ability to advance any plausible argument he may have that any particular subpoena suffers from some legal defect.

Second, stonewalling doesn’t make you look “strong.” It makes you look guilty.

The strategy will appeal to those who don’t care whether or not Trump has done this or that execrable act. And there are many such people. But, to those who were unsure, but might be inclined to give Trump the benefit of the doubt as to his wrongdoing—and there are lots of those folks, too—obstruction will not accrue to his advantage.

Third, Pollyanna’s sense is that the situation will be very strongly influenced by what Don McGahn decides to do, or not to do.

McGahn, the former White House Counsel, current six- or seven-figure Jones Day partner, and Mr. Pack-the-courts-with-rightwingers par excellence, sang like a canary to the Special Counsel. Any arguable executive privilege has long since been waived with respect to the topics about which he would testify to Congress. Any arguable attorney-client privilege, ditto.

Jones Day partners, upon receipt of a proper subpoena, do not tell the entity that issued the proper subpoena to go take a flying fuck. For one thing, if they did take that course of action, then the D.C. Bar Association would not take kindly to it.

Trump has already “punished” Jones Day by taking business away from it. He doesn’t really have a hold on McGahn or on Jones Day.

Pollyanna thinks it’s likely that McGahn will testify in public, reprising the role of John Dean—and of Martin Sheen playing John Deen in the movie.

She also thinks that Brett Kavanaugh, who owes his seat on the Court to McGahn, will sit up and take notice.

Finally, she thinks that, in the aftermath of the McGhan testimony, things are likely to really go pear shaped for the Trumpster.

I told Pollyanna that we are getting a little ahead of ourselves, but she might well be right.

In the immortal words of President Eisenhower, “The future lies ahead.”

Only the Romney

In Romney, Alone, Charles Sykes writes of “foot-shuffling, denial, and silence”:

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst said [when asked to comment on the Mueller report], “I think we all know who the President is, he has a brash demeanor, that’s about all I can say.”

Maine’s Susan Collins thought the report offered an “unflattering portrayal of the president,” while Ohio senator Rob Portman was only able to muster enough indignation to declare that the report had revealed “ a number of actions taken by the presidents or his associates that were inappropriate.” [Emphasis added.]

Our coverage will resume following this editorial observation.

still nothing

Meanwhile, a couple of early, post-Mueller polls show Trump approval slipping back to his 37 percent lower asymptote. That may or may not turn out to be real, and if it’s real, it may or may not be lasting.

If it is real and lasting, it’s also quite surprising, because the Mueller report gave us lots of cumulative facts, but it contained no surprises. So what’s up with the non-trivial number of our fellow citizens who “approved” Trump just before the Mueller report but “disapproved” him just after the report?

The most logical explanation is that these are Tax Cut People, Fetus People, and probably some Anti-Brown People People who previously held their noses for pragmatic reasons, but now sense that Trump is headed down the crapper: a formerly useful idiot who is still an idiot but won’t be useful very much longer.

But it’s also possible that the Trump base’s seemingly insatiable appetite for narcissism, mendacity, criminality, and general bullshit has been just slightly overestimated by the Republican political establishment. See, for example, this by one J.W. Verret, a professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School: The Mueller Report Was My Tipping Point: I was a Trump transition staffer, and I’ve seen enough. It’s time for impeachment.

If, in fact, the Republican pols have overestimated their voters’ craving for more shit sandwiches, their error is entirely understandable.

Meanwhile, Dear Leader has been seen in public wearing a sign on his back that says “Please Impeach Me! Please, O Please, with Whipped Cream and Sugar on Top!”

Actually, I just made that up, but it might as well be true. Trump craves a House impeachment resolution as the moon-blowing, moon-flower’s swelling heart pines for the moon.

I continue to advocate exposure over impeachment, but I do think that lots of people are misreading the Clinton impeachment fiasco. Compare and contrast the Nixon example with the Clinton example. What happened in both cases was that the facts came out—after lots of lying, lots of drama, and lots of stonewalling. But the facts came out. And when the facts came out, and when John Q. Public got a really good sense of what was going on, the public reached a consensus that Nixon had to go but that Clinton, despite his objectionable—and at times illegal—behavior, did not merit removal from office.

So let the facts come out this time, too.

A great many of my fellow Mericans are dumb. But being dumb doesn’t have to mean that you’re also stupid.




Scared Shitless

if Trump loses

One of my Red State High classmates of yesteryear posted this on Facebook.

Her parents and grandparents sat by the radio and listened attentively when Franklin Roosevelt told them the only thing they had to fear was fear itself. Now she listens to Rush Limbaugh and is scared out of her mind.

Her views are so witless that they are laughable. Not to mention tragic. And dangerous.

One of my posse—someone well positioned to know about such things—has observed that Trump may not be Hitler, but Trump’s people and Hitler’s people are much of a muchness.

And so, as E.J. Dione reminds us this morning, Republican politicians will probably give Democrats no help whatsoever in preserving the rule of law. How can they? Their constituents are scared shitless.

And so, as Lenin famously inquired, what is to be done?

Dione points out that

Trump and Barr have begun a battle for the minds and hearts of that small number of Americans (roughly 10 percent or a little more) who are not already locked into their positions. … The uncommitted now need to see the full horror of what Mueller revealed about this president. …

This means the House Judiciary, Intelligence, and Oversight and Reform committees should and will begin inquiries immediately. …

Nothing is gained by labeling these initial hearings and document requests part of an “impeachment” process. But impeachment should remain on the table. Because Trump and Barr will resist all accountability, preserving the right to take formal steps toward impeachment will strengthen the Democrats’ legal arguments that they have a right to information that Trump would prefer to deep-six.

Breaking News! Dog Bites Man. Trump Tweets Some More Word Salad Nonsense.

dog bites man

Please let the record reflect that I have no objection to the media’s reporting of news I don’t like.

That said, I do have an objection of the media’s saturation of my inbox with headlines that contain no actual news.

If Trump tweets out this afternoon that Mueller is running a pedophile ring out of a Pizza Hut in Georgetown, please go ahead and report it. Especially if he adds that Bill and Hillary are in on the deal. Along with ISIS.

The novelty value would justify the news report.

On the other hand, let it be said that this day, I, Arius A. Aardvark, rose with the voice of one crying in the wilderness, vehemently objecting to continual bombardment with information on Trump’s latest iteration of “no collusion” and “witch hunt.”

Folks, it’s not news. Just ignore it.

Druge light

Hold the Presses! Breaking News! It’s Easter Sunday and Trump is Still the Same Narcissistic, Lying Jerk He Was Yesterday!


Kool Aid

Lawfare, The Mueller Report Demands an Impeachment Inquiry

Ezra Klein, The Problem with Impeachment

So, here’s the thing about public policy decisions. Sometimes, all or almost all of the relevant factors point one way, not the other, in which case it’s pretty easy to decide which is the right option. (Doing the right thing may still require some moral courage and intestinal fortitude, but, even so, you can pretty much figure out what the right thing to do is, even if it’s hard to do.)

Sometimes, however, the relevant factors point in all sorts of different directions. Sometimes, there isn’t a rule to determine which of these factors are more important than which other factors. Typically, in such cases, a member of the punditocracy will seize on one factor and proclaim it dispositive. Typically, your Uncle Ralph and your friend Butch will do the same thing. And so will you. And so will I, if I’m not careful.

Thinking about tough choices is really hard. And generally unpleasant. It’s much more convenient to seize on one piece of the picture and go with it. Pretty much the same error made by all six of the Six Blind Men of Indostan.

If you don’t want to think about the hard issues around impeachment, then by all means, go somewhere else, like here.  If, however, you do want to investigate the issues, you would do well to consult the two articles cited at the top of this post.

For me, Ezra Klein makes the more compelling case. Please read him, because he’s very wise and very learned, and I won’t repeat every important issue he raises.

My bottom line is this: the Constitution provides a good way to get rid of an asshole president. But the framers of the Constitution—who both loathed and feared extreme partisanship—did not write a governing document for a nation of assholes. Nor did they write a document for a country where 42 percent of the population would give their full-throated endorsement to a reality TV show star. (Or maybe only 37 percent.)

Trump is a rara avis. Some people may have enough star power to come within spitting distance of the presidency, yet lack the intellectual capacity for the job. Some may have the intellectual capacity, but lack the moral authority. Some make have intellectual capacity and moral authority, yet suffer from major character flaws, such as laziness. By contrast, Trump is egregiously unfit on all three grounds.

Even so, it seems that at least a third of the population and around half of the senators will not support the Senate’s removing him from office. At this point, it seems that an effort to impeach him is likely to strengthen the resolve of the third of the population who have drunk the Kool-Aid. And it’s likely that when the Senate fails to remove him, that will only dishearten the progressive base. Ezra Klein makes a persuasive case that we don’t need to go down this road.

Some will “argue” that eschewing impeachment evidences lack of manhood.

Some will assert that it shows a lack of moral courage.

Think in clichés is so much more fun than actual analytical reasoning.