Drowning in Idiocy

Dreck

As you all know, I get by with a little help from my friends.

The Joy of Pandemics

As an example, my attention has been called to Paul Krugman’s column, No, Team Trump, the Coronavirus Isn’t Good for America: The commerce secretary just flunked microbe economics. Krugman writes,

Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, appeared on Fox Business on Thursday morning to declare that he “didn’t want to talk about a victory lap,” but that the coronavirus “will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.” By saying this, he demonstrated a couple of things: (1) why Gail Collins’s readers voted him Trump’s worst cabinet member, and (2) why Trump’s trade war has been such a failure.

What Ross and his colleagues apparently still don’t understand — although some of them may be getting an inkling — is that modern manufacturing isn’t like manufacturing a couple of generations ago, when different countries’ industrial sectors were engaged in fairly straightforward head-to-head competition. These days we live in a world of global value chains, in which much of what any given nation imports consists not of consumer goods but of “intermediate” goods that it uses as part of its own production process.

In such a world, anything that disrupts imports — whether it’s tariffs or a virus — raises production costs, and as a result if anything hurts manufacturing.

Oh, and by the way, we may not be prepared to handle a pandemic.

Driving into the Dreck

Meanwhile, another friend points out that, in Germany, they’re using Brexit to sell off-road vehicles.

The caption reads of the German ad above reads, “Do you also feel like driving your car into the dirt? Off-road vehicles now at bargain rates at SIXT.”

What Senator Murkowski Meant

Senator Murkowski is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, nor yet the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

There are two and only two sensible ways to interpret the senator’s statement.

Interpretation One

Trump cannot get a fair trial in the Senate because 37 Republican senators would vote to acquit if he raped a Girl Scout on C-Span.

Interpretation Two

The Senator has turned Pentecostal and taken up speaking in tongues.

Senator Murkowski Has Some Thoughts to Share with You

Murkowski

Her statement today is as follows:

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today released the following statement on the Senate vote regarding additional evidence for the court of impeachment:

“I worked for a fair, honest, and transparent process, modeled after the Clinton trial, to provide ample time for both sides to present their cases, ask thoughtful questions, and determine whether we need more.

“The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed. I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena.

“Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed. 

“It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice. I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded this institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another.

“We are sadly at a low point of division in this country.”

When Trump Has Friends Like Lamar Alexander, Who Needs Enemies?

friends

Bill Kristol has a long record as a pundit, and is almost the perfect poster child for the slogan, Often in Error, but Never in Doubt.

But he just misses the cut, because not only is he “often” wrong, he’s wrong pretty much all the time.

Nevertheless, we may all take pleasure in reading Kristol’s piece today, expatiating on the theme that Lamar Alexander has well and truly stuck it to Donald Trump.

Splainin’ to Do

Meanwhile, there seems to be a proposal afoot to have each of the one hundred senators make a speech explaining his or her votes on witnesses and on acquittal..

A capital suggestion.

splainin

“Inappropriate” is When I Eat My Salad with the Dinner Fork

place setting

A Huge Mystery

Trump continually acts like an asshole and then calls his conduct “strong” and “smart.” He acted like an asshole with the Ukraine military aid, but instead of calling it “strong” and “smart,” he spent months covering it up. He’s still trying to cover it up, viz., the ongoing efforts to block Bolton from telling his story.

The logical explanation is that he knows he’s guilty as sin, or that he fears that too many others will think he’s guilty as sin. That’s generally why criminals cover up their crimes. But that explanation doesn’t seem to fit how Lizard Brain thinks. Especially since he would have been a hell of a lot better off just owning up to what he did and saying “So what.”

And, by the way, the “so what” defense would also have been one hell of a lot better for his lickspittles in Congress. With the “So what” defense, they wouldn’t have had to deny the undeniable. Sure, they would come off as knaves, but they could escape making themselves fools as well.

So why didn’t he do it? I think it’s still a mystery.

A Second Mystery

A related mystery is why he didn’t develop an effective legal defense. Here, however, the explanation is easier to find: he has the mind of a four-year-old, his thinking is magical in nature, and he cannot take competent professional advice.

The Republicans’ Dilemma—and Lamar Alexander’s Resolution of the Republicans’ Dilemma

The dilemma is that you really can’t say

  • he didn’t do it, or
  • the House didn’t prove he did it, because there was no direct evidence,

and then stop your ears to the direct evidence when it becomes available.

Or, rather, you can do those things, but only if you are prepared to come off as both an utter knave and a consummate fool.

It follows that if you are bound and determined not to hear from the direct witness, then you must agree with the premise that he did it (and then take the position it’s not impeachable).

In his statement, Lamar Alexander rightly saw he had to bite this bullet, not just nibble at it.

Going Forward

Every senator who now votes to acquit will have to answer—or brazenly dodge—the question, do you agree with Lamar Alexander that the House proved its case on the facts, and had a mountain of evidence?

If the answer is yes, then the next question becomes, Well, that’s interesting, so why did you spend several months blathering about “lack of proof” and “no direct evidence”?

If the answer is no, then the next question becomes, Well, then, why don’t you want to hear from the goddamn witnesses?

“Inappropriate But Not Impeachable”

Having grasped that he will have to rely on the fallback argument “wrong but not impeachable,” Alexander then punts:

  • first by substituting the hilariously inappropriate word “inappropriate” for the word “wrong,” and
  • second by dodging any coherent account of why he thinks the conduct is not impeachable.

Senator Alexander thus eschews the knavery of denying the undeniable, but beclouws himself as a fool, by asserting an indefensible abstract proposition but failing even to try to defend the indefensible.

 

Senator Alexander Would Like You to Know that Republican Quibbling is Nonsense, and the House Proved its Case, So There is No Need for More Witnesses, and We Can Now Acquit

missing witness

The following is a press release, issued late last night, by the office of Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee):

Washington, D.C., January 30, 2020 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on his vote regarding additional evidence in the impeachment proceedings:

“I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense. 

“There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine. There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’ There is no need to consider further the frivolous second article of impeachment that would remove the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to protect confidential conversations with his close advisers. 

“It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law. But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.

“The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did. I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday.

“The Senate has spent nine long days considering this ‘mountain’ of evidence, the arguments of the House managers and the president’s lawyers, their answers to senators’ questions and the House record. Even if the House charges were true, they do not meet the Constitution’s ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ standard for an impeachable offense.

“The framers believed that there should never, ever be a partisan impeachment. That is why the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate for conviction. Yet not one House Republican voted for these articles. If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart, pouring gasoline on the fire of cultural divisions that already exist. It would create the weapon of perpetual impeachment to be used against future presidents whenever the House of Representatives is of a different political party.

“Our founding documents provide for duly elected presidents who serve with ‘the consent of the governed,’ not at the pleasure of the United States Congress. Let the people decide.”