About Sums It Up


Chancellor Angela Merkel, delivering the commencement address at Harvard on May 30 of this year:

I have learned that answers to difficult questions can be found if we always see the world through the eyes of others; if we respect the history, tradition, religion, and identity of others; if we firmly stand by our inalienable values and act accordingly; and if we do not always follow our initial impulses, even with all the pressure to make snap decisions, but instead stop for a moment, keep quiet, think, take a break.

Of course, that takes a lot of courage. Above all, it requires being truthful to others and perhaps most importantly to ourselves. Where better to begin with it than here, in this place, where so many young people from all over the world come to learn under the motto of Truth — to do research, and discuss the questions of our time? This implies that we do not describe lies as truth and truth as lies.

What I Got Out of This Afternoon’s Hearing


  1. Of all the Republicans, it seems that Shouty Shirt Gym Jordan is still the only one to wrap his mind around the concept that You Can’t Beat Something With Nothing. If the prosecution has a compelling narrative, then the defense really needs a compelling counternarrative.
  2. Shouty Shirt Gym Jordan’s counternarrative stinks so badly that none of his colleagues want to mention it, let alone endorse it.

Laughed Out of Europe

laughed out of Europe

The Bulwark, Of Course Trump Was Laughed Out of the NATO Summit:

Earlier today, President Donald Trump cancelled his press conference at the NATO summit, called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau two-faced, and abruptly left the summit altogether after video surfaced of Trudeau, Boris Johnson, and Emmanuel Macron talking about the American president with utter contempt.

Trump seemed surprised that, after three years of crapping all over America’s allies, they do not hold him in high regard.


Lots of readers from Canada today. You all have a leader who is two faced. Better that, than a leader who is half assed.

Today’s Impeachment Hearings So Far: Seven Observations

dictionary K

  1. Chairman Nadler laid out a blistering, fact based condemnation of Trump. Republicans want to talk about anything and everything other than that fact based condemnation. Democrats have a narrative. Republicans have virtually no counternarrative.
  2. Apparently, the only law professor the Republicans could find was unready or unwilling to make a substantive defense of Trump.
  3. I don’t think most Trump supporters are smart enough to understand what the Republican’s guy, Professor Turley, is talking about.
  4. Turley claims that the Democrats are trying to cut out the courts from ruling on Trump’s assertions of privileges or other defenses to documents and testimony. But Turley totally ignores the fact that Trump made a blanket demand that no document or testimony be provided, period.
  5. Turly is irony challenged; see point four. But the Democrats have a slight irony problem in their embrace of the originalist approach to constitutional interpretation.
  6. You can always tell a Harvard man, but you can’t tell him much.
  7. But the real heroine was the woman from Stanford. (If you have been watching the hearings, you will recognize the relevance of the picture above, which depicts Samuel Johnson consulting his dictionary.)

Just Spreading Joy and Good Cheer on a Tuesday Night


Thankfully, Unlike Some, Lindsey Graham Hesitates to Turn the Republican Party into the KGB’s American Propaganda and Disinformation Unit

Graham says he’s ‘1,000% confident’ Russia meddled in 2016 US election — not Ukraine:

Washington (CNN)Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday said he is “1,000% confident” that Russia, not Ukraine, meddled in the 2016 US presidential election, breaking from President Donald Trump and others in his party who have pushed the discredited conspiracy theory.

“It was the Russians. I’m 1,000% confident that the hack of the DNC was by Russian operatives, no one else,” the South Carolina senator told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Graham continued later in the same interview: “So as to the Ukraine, they had zero to do with the hacking of the DNC and the stealing of the emails. Whether or not people from the Ukraine met with DNC operatives, I don’t know. All I’ve seen is press reports that no one has validated.”

Mitt Romney: Ixnay on the Ussianray Opagandapay

National Review, Romney Contests Trump’s Ukraine Election-Meddling Narrative: ‘I Saw No Evidence’

It Usually Stops Working Around the Age of Five

toddler psychology

Jonathan Chait, Macron Uses Toddler Reverse Psychology Trick to Fool Trump Into Supporting NATO:

Today is another meeting of NATO, an organization Trump has denounced and undermined for years. The keenest minds in what remains of the free world have set themselves to the task of distracting Trump long enough to get through the NATO summit without dissolving the alliance in a tantrum. … The plans include flattering Trump with an elaborate dinner at Buckingham Palace, and presenting a series of trumped-up concessions to make it appear the allies have buckled to Trump’s demands by increasing their spending, thereby allowing him to claim victory rather than storming out in a huff. …

Amusingly, what seems to have worked instead is Emmanuel Macron’s completely different ploy. The French president gave an interview last month decrying the “brain death” of NATO, which he said had failed to account for America’s shrinking commitment under Trump.

Trump himself has called NATO “obsolete,” openly questioned whether the U.S. would come to the defense of allies under attack (the very foundation of the alliance), and privately told aides on several occasions last year he wants to withdraw from the alliance. But the notion that somebody else would question NATO, and blame its demise on Trump, has enraged him.

And now Trump is lashing out at Macron. “NATO serves a great purpose,” he declared today. “And I hear that President Macron said NATO is ‘brain dead.’ I think that’s very insulting to a lot of different forces … When you make a statement like that, that is a very, very nasty statement to 28 — including them — 28 countries.”

Manipulating children into doing what you want by pretending to demand they do the opposite thing is a trick most parents learn to use. It usually stops working around the age of 5.



The Republican Minority Report: Standing on Shaky Ground

Screen Shot 2019-12-03 at 9.55.52 AM

I have reproduced the second paragraph of the Conclusions section of the Republican minority report issued yesterday. It’s a long document, and this quotation appears on page 109. (If you have time on your hands and want to read it, it will be found here.)

Please read the first sentence of the paragraph thoughtfully and carefully. It declares, “The Democrats have not established an impeachable offense.”

Then look at the remaining four sentences of the paragraph, each making the demonstrably false claim that the Democrats’ evidence “does not support” or “does not establish” this, that, or the other.

I will not say that the paragraph I have reproduced amounts to an admission that proof of any, or some, or all of the four undeniable propositions which they try to deny WOULD amount to proof of an offense—and not only that, but also proof of an impeachable offense.

I will not claim an “admission,” because I do not wish to overstate my case. And I do not wish to overstate my case, because an argument that overstates the case is not a persuasive argument.

However, I do claim that paragraph two of the Republicans’ Conclusion, as reproduced above, contains the very strong implication  that proof of any, or of some, or of all of the four undeniable propositions would justify impeachment.

And that, ladies and germs, puts the Republicans on shaky ground indeed.

It implies that, to avoid impeachment, Trump must persuade voters to believe him, not to believe their own lying eyes.

shaky ground

Waiting for Impeachment

Useful Idiot

Pundits are pontificating on Louisiana’s Senator Kennedy as a useful idiot for Russian propaganda[1] and on the utter bad faith of the Republican defense of Trump.[2] And a Never Trump web site informs us about The Twelve Senate Republicans Who Might Vote to Remove Trump from Office.

Of course, a great many things might happen. I might wake up tomorrow morning and decide to become a professional wrestler. The sun might rise tomorrow in the west rather than the east. The pope might join the Satanic Temple.[3] Or, His Holiness might decide to walk in the woods and take a shit among the trees.

As I said, many things might happen. But I shall speak of what is  happening.

What Is Happening

One. Democrats have produced abundant evidence supporting the accuracy of their Ukraine narrative. Republicans have not offered any contrary evidence. They have not proffered a plausible alternative narrative. They have not even proffered an implausible alternative narrative.

One might say, speaking metaphorically, that the DNA on the blue dress has been tested, and the results are not good.

Two. This is unfortunate for the Republicans. But they are left with a binary choice. If they want to make any faint effort by way of an argument that some folks in the middle might find persuasive, they would adopt the bad-but-not-impeachable. I have explained the five overwhelming reasons to take this approach.

Or, in the alternative, they might argue—again speaking metaphorically—that the DNA test was fake and that using a cigar on your intern’s nether regions is not “sex.”

Three. Clearly, they are going for the metaphorical fake-DNA-test-cigar-stimulation-OK defense.

Four. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and the Republican pols have chosen to make arguments that will meet with approbation by the 53 percent of self-identified Republicans who think that Trump is a greater president than Abraham Lincoln.

And, probably, only by that group.

Five. In consequence of all the above, the impeachment effort will contribute significantly to the ongoing processes that are dividing us into two distinct and discreet groups: Trump Cultists and Everybody Else.

[1] James Downie, The useful idiot from Louisiana

[2] Greg Sargent, The latest defense of Trump is a total scam. Republicans just confirmed it themselves.

[3] On going to the web site, I happened to notice that they have some special holiday deals on their merchandeise, but the deals are expiring soon. Act quickly, or the opportunity will pass.

Good News to Begin the Week: The Glass is 47% Full!

You know how I love good news, so here is some good news:

Forty-seven percent of Republicans think Abraham Lincoln was a better president than Donald Trump!


Well, this makes a fellow feel good. This is my first post of the morning, and I already have readers today in American Samoa, Germany, Kenya, Laos, Mauritius, Pakistan, South Africa, Tanzania, and the United States. Welcome aboard, Laos and American Samoa. Don’t believe we’ve seen you here before. Hope all of you will rejoice in my good news.

We Have Seen This Movie Before

Stern Trump

The N.Y. Times reports,

He was limp and dusty from an explosion, conscious but barely. A far cry from the fierce, masked Islamic State fighters who once seized vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, the captive was a scraggly teenager in a tank top with limbs so thin that his watch slid easily off his wrist.

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher and other Navy SEALs gave the young captive medical aid that day in Iraq in 2017, sedating him and cutting an airway in his throat to help him breathe. Then, without warning, according to colleagues, Chief Gallagher pulled a small hunting knife from a sheath and stabbed the sedated captive in the neck.

The same Chief Gallagher who later posed for a photograph holding the dead captive up by the hair has now been celebrated on the campaign trail by President Trump, who upended the military code of justice to protect him from the punishment resulting from the episode. Prodded by Fox News, Mr. Trump has made Chief Gallagher a cause célèbre, trumpeting him as an argument for his re-election.

Commenting on this story, a friend from Germany shares these observations:

In his outline of the course of the war in the east, Himmler comments on the deaths of millions of Soviet prisoners of war and forced labourers. Like in pre-war speeches, and in accordance with Hitler’s remarks in Mein Kampf, he speaks of how the eradication of the Slavic Untermensch is a historical and natural necessity. There is to be no place for sentiment:[14]

One basic principle must be the absolute rule for the SS men: We must be honest, decent, loyal and comradely to members of our own blood and to nobody else. What happens to a Russian, to a Czech, does not interest me in the slightest. What other nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type, we will take, if necessary, by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us. Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death interests me only so far as we need them as slaves for our culture; otherwise, it is of no interest to me. Whether 10,000 Russian females fall down from exhaustion while digging an antitank ditch interests me only insofar as the anti-tank ditch for Germany is finished.

Himmler explicitly speaks of the genocide of the Jews, something which had not been previously done by a representative of the Nazi party up until this point:[15]

I am now referring to the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish people. It’s one of those things that is easily said: ‘The Jewish people are being exterminated’, says every party member, ‘this is very obvious, it’s in our program, elimination of the Jews, extermination, we’re doing it, hah, a small matter.’ And then they turn up, the upstanding 80 million Germans, and each one has his decent Jew. They say the others are all swines, but this particular one is a splendid Jew. But none has observed it, endured it. Most of you here know what it means when 100 corpses lie next to each other, when there are 500 or when there are 1,000. To have endured this and at the same time to have remained a decent person — with exceptions due to human weaknesses — has made us tough, and is a glorious chapter that has not and will not be spoken of. Because we know how difficult it would be for us if we still had Jews as secret saboteurs, agitators and rabble-rousers in every city, what with the bombings, with the burden and with the hardships of the war. If the Jews were still part of the German nation, we would most likely arrive now at the state we were at in 1916 and 17 […]

Himmler then praises the mindset of the SS man, devoting approximately 30 of the 116 pages to their virtues as well as their duty of becoming Europe’s ruling class in 20 to 30 years.