Regime Change

The Mustache speaks:

Mustachs Speaks

If our side is going for regime change in Iran, maybe the Iranians will go for a little dose of regime change in the US of A.

Think about it.

Martin Longman writes,

Iran will feel duty-bound to exact revenge, and a commensurate level of revenge would involve assassinating a major American leader, such as a commanding general or member of Trump’s cabinet. …

With this decision, Trump has removed the solitary argument in his favor, which was that he was reticent to wage more war in the Middle East and Central Asia. He just created an almost unimaginable amount of danger for Americans and our allies. That’s precisely what a lot of his supporters did not want.

On Senility

senility

Martin Longman, On Biden’s Success and Gillibrand’s Failure

Mr. Longman checks his gut at some length and gives us a detailed report on what he finds. What he finds, in a nutshell, is that Democrats have such a thirst for winning in 2020 that they are not going to take a chance on a woman, a person of color, or a gay guy. He concludes, “I hear voters say that they don’t want to vote for another old white man all the time. But the less vocalized opinion is that they seem terrified of doing anything else.”

And now, having checked Mr. Longman’s gut, let me check my own. My own gut tells me that we are about to have a 2020 election featuring two old guys, both showing signs of mental deterioration.

My gut also tells me this is not a good thing.

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I didn’t publish anything yesterday, but I see that I have some readers in Russia this morning. HELLOOOOO VLADIMIR!

What if Someone Just Ignores a Subpoena?

pollyanna

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.”

Strategy? I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Strategy

strategy

Martin Longman, Trump Doesn’t Understand Game Theory

Longman explores the difference between chess and poker. A brilliant analysis.

Martin Longman, Donald Trump Doesn’t Know How to Negotiate:

We can see Trump’s failure as a negotiator anywhere we care to look. It’s most consequential on the international stage, particularly on the negotiations over denuclearization with North Korea, but also with Iran and trade negotiations with China. He doesn’t succeed because he doesn’t understand how to do the basics. You want all the information you can get. You need to know the rules and the motives of every player and all their possible moves. You need to give people a reason to do what you want, and if they have no such reasons then you have to create them. You need to understand whether you’re playing one-on-one or in a team game.

Needed: A Better and Wiser Set of Plutocrats

centrists

In The Billionaires Waited Too Long to Panic Martin Longman nails it. He develops an important theme that is often glossed over: the anomaly of elite support for the likes of Trump, in alliance with the likes of Roy Moore. I have emphasized the point in this blog, but have—perhaps foolishly—looked for a time when the billionaires would come to their senses and act out of enlightened, long term self-interest.

As the title of his piece indicates, Longman thinks they have waited too long.

He may well be right.

Longman writes,

The billionaires have been looking around for someone with the credentials of a Douglas MacArthur or a Dwight Eisenhower because, just as the Republican Party of 1952 was about as useful as teets on a bull, the contemporary version is a psychiatric wreck totally unsuited and unprepared to responsibly represent anyone’s interests. Alas, no war heroes of sufficient stature are available, and the Starbucks guy seems to be auditioning less for president than for most punchable face.

There were #NeverTrumper people who were kind of getting accustomed to having one foot outside of the Party of Lincoln until they got a load of Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax and puddles began to form around their ankles. They’re beginning to fear that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed 70 percent top marginal income tax rate is more popular than the idea of a President Michael Bloomberg.

Suddenly, Trump doesn’t look so bad. After all, he did build the Autobahn deliver on tax reform, regulatory rollbacks, and undermining Obamacare. He did withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. He is cracking down on the crazy socialists in Venezuela and Cuba. And look at all those Heritage Foundation judges!

I’ve long wondered why the billionaires have not gotten serious about building a replacement for the Republican Party. They could begin by denying the Republicans any funding. …

But the billionaires waited too long. California set sail and Texas is probably next. The people want someone to pay for the Great Recession. They want someone to pay for our hollowed out small towns and failing farms. They want someone to pay for the fact that we have a Russian agent in the White House and the Republicans won’t do a damn thing about it. They’re losing interest in the old arguments about why they can’t have nice things. …

So, now, at this late date the billionaires need to build a new party, but they can’t do it with intellectuals. They can’t do it with professionals. They can’t do it with the underclass or with the know-nothing Republican base.

At least Bloomberg understands the problem well enough to understand that to win back the suburbs the billionaires have to care about shootings in schools. But they also have to care about climate change and the environment. They have to care about people’s retirement security. They need to spend on roads and railways.

Aardvark’s Animadversion

The problem with lots of people who made lots of money is that they have spent their entire loves making money and, in consequence, have taken leave of their common sense.

Their common sense would dictate that only by halting the spiraling economic inequality can they survive, in the long run, to enjoy their economic good fortune.

Today is Neo-Confederate Day

neoconfederates

Max Boot expatiates on the obvious: The GOP is now the party of neo-Confederates.

Martin Longman’s post, The Crocodile Tears of Neoconservatives, responds to Boot. Longman has much to say about paleoconservatives, neo-Confederates, and neoconservatives. There is a certain complexity to his explication. I won’t try to summarize it, but I think that if you read it, it will be worth your while.

Meantime, as we await the Mississippi rallies this evening, Politico tells us, Hyde-Smith has Republicans holding their breath and saying “We don’t want an Alabama.”

Well, I don’t think it’s likely there will be “an Alabama.” For one thing, it’s Mississippi. More importantly, though, Senator Hyde-Smith, is just a conventional down home girl casual, well-dressed racist. She’s no Roy Moore. I’ll bet she even has the politesse not to call her servants “darkies.” Sure, she has nice things to say about her Confederate heritage, but so does pretty much everyone else in her country club. And all of them will resent the hell out of the damn yankees’ trying to make something of it. And that resentment will be enough to make lots of white Mississippians come out and vote for her.

But the joker in the deck, metaphorically speaking, is The Donald. (And, may I say, “joker” is a damn fine metaphor, under the circumstances.)

The Donald started out nutty and he’s getting nuttier by the day. There will come a time, one of these evenings, when the men in the white coats will have to show up and drag him off stage.

That probably won’t be tonight. But it might be. I am pretty sure it will be a rant for the ages.

The Coup Clutz Clowns—and an Alternative View of Dr. Rorschach’s Ink Blob

CCC

Aardvark is not a professional blogger, so he gets to blog unprofessionally. Accordingly, this brief post deals with two unrelated topics. (On second thought, maybe the two are related after all; you be the judge.)

Firstly, I would like to thank Freda Foxy here at Happy Acres for comparing Aardvark’s style of humor to that of the Coup Clutz Clowns, pictured above. I am flattered by the comparison. And, while I’m at it, here’s a Sara Palin shoutout to Freda and all the other progressive grandmothers here at Happy Acres who are getting themselves organized to do some serious lobbyin’, educatin’, and demonstratin’.

On a second—and (superficially, at least) unrelated matter—I’d like to call your attention to Martin Longman’s article, wherein he discloses What Really Happened at the White House Yesterday. Contrary to what  you may have thought, and what you may have been told by other commentators, Trump did not in fact make an inexplicable lurch toward the left, leaving McConnell and Ryan unhappily holding the bag. Instead, in Longman’s telling, what happened was the inevitable, and highly scripted, consequence of the predicament that all parties were in.

Aardvark presents this analysis for his readers’ edification, but does not necessarily endorse it. The simpler explanation—the one Occam would find more appealing—is that Trump was just screwing around once again. And McConnell and Ryan were crying the tears of a clown.

A Letter from the Judgmental Left

Martin Longman writes A Letter to Mr. Medford of South Carolina, a Trump voter who asks for understanding of his moral defense for his November vote.

In Aardvark’s estimation, Longman hits the nail on the head. Read it all. Longman concludes this way:

So, again, we know it’s hard to make the choice to vote against the party that best represents your value system. We would struggle mightily to make that kind of decision. But there are no shortage of Republicans who told you to do precisely that because they saw, in Trump, someone who was uniquely unsuited to be president due to flaws in his character and questions about his grip on reality. You didn’t listen to us, or to them, and you chose to prioritize other factors more highly than any concerns about Trump.

You are being morally judged for this decision. We believe that you will come to learn that you made a mistake, but what we’re really interested in is making sure you understand where we’re coming from.

We don’t think it is okay that Donald Trump is the president of the United States. We think this should have been obvious when it came time to vote. And we think that it tells us something about the morals of people that they would overlook his Birtherism and his race-baiting and his characteristics that we discourage in our own children and his treatment of women, and still support him because they have other priorities that are more important to them.

Now, if you want to make a moral defense of your decision, we’re all ears. Thank you for listening to our moral defense of our position.

Best regards,

The Judgmental Left

The Mole in the Situation Room

shitstorm

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, February 16. Over at Faux News, someone unfortunately named Dr. Ablow writes, Relax, Trump is stone cold sane. Well, that’s good to know.

Meanwhile, the reality based community is in a major freakout over incompetence or worse at the White House. But you knew that already, and, like Chris Matthews, you demand of Aardvark, “Tell me something I don’t know.”

Well, here’s something I didn’t know till I read it this morning:

[S]ome of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. Why risk your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets.

Martin Longman argues that the Blackmail Story Doesn’t Add Up. His piece is lengthy. His reasoning is convoluted but plausible. Conclusion: the intelligence agencies took down Flynn because they were persuaded he was Russia’s mole in the Situation Room.

Trump’s response this morning? Release a terrifying tweetstorm of invective at the intelligence agencies.

Just like Dr. Ablow said, Trump is stone cold sane. He knows who his enemies are.

It’s a Snowy Day in Hell: Jonathan Chait is Wrong, Jennifer Rubin is Right

guts

A Delusional Goofball, Not a Koch Brothers/Paul Ryan Sock Puppet

Aardvark enjoys reading Jonathan Chait, benefits from his insight, and stands in awe of his erudition and progressive fervor. Occasionally, however, Atlas shrugs. Yesterday Chait advised us that The Fight for the Soul of the Reopublican Party Has Been Canceled. After a meandering discussion of Trump’s singular inaugural speech, the role of Andrew Jackson in American history, and other topics, Chait concluded, “Far from being at odds with the agenda of a party allied with entrenched wealth, that populist style [of McCarthy, Wallace, Palin, and Trump] is the best way to lend that agenda mass appeal. We should stop seeing Trumpism as a challenge to the GOP and instead understand it as the party’s natural historical evolution.”

But today Jennifer Rubin—she of the burning passion for Mitt Romney—lets us in on the secret that Trump isn’t opn the same page as Ryan. He’s not even in the same library. Rubin writes,

Ryan may be heartened by hearing, The President wants tax reform. That means nothing. One cannot tell if Congress and Trump are on the same page until Trump knows what he wants, and Ryan will never get a definitive answer until Trump either supports what Congress produces or declares it “stupid” or a “loser.” Trump wants crowds, “wins,” acclaim, respect and adulation; what legislative product he gets matters only insofar as it provides him with emotional sustenance. …

To state the obvious, Ryan’s agenda is not Trump’s agenda. The things that motivate Trump are the wall, massive voter fraud and other shiny objects that his low-information base delights in. Trump devotes time to the things that matter to him, and this week demonstrates amply that trivial, fictional and personal issues matter. If he waves his hand and tells Ryan, Whatever you guys have is good, that’s no sign of agreement, or even interest. Lawmakers should understand that they really have no idea where Trump is on the details that matter.

They will spend months working on issues as Trump heckles from the sidelines, never supporting them when the heat rises. The sooner lawmakers grasp this, the more intelligent choices they can make about prioritizing objectives.

Meanwhile, at the Washington Monthly, Nancy LeTourneau asks, Are Republicans Starting to Recognize Trump’s Mental Instability? Good question.

And Martrin Longman, channeling Aardvark—or, more likely, it’s the other way around—laments,

Whatever this is, it’s not sanity. This isn’t some crazy like a fox cunning aimed at distracting us while Trump steals our lunch. It’s out-and-out racist-drunk-at-the-end-of-the-bar insanity. In fact, Cliff Clavin look reliable in comparison.

The media is treating this with appropriate astonishment. They’re really not sugarcoating it except that they’re not willing, like me, to come out and call this man exactly what he is, which is critically, urgently, unfit for office.

He must go soon.

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Aardvark has checked his WordPress stats and welcomes back his Russian readers. Are you suffering buyers’ remorse yet?