Ten Reasons Why


Benjamin Wittes, who is nobody’s fool, offers ten reasons why It’s Probably Too Late to Stop Mueller: The prospects for interference are dimmer than many imagine.

I find his reasoning persuasive, but will not tell you what his ten reasons are. To learn, you will have to read the piece for yourself.

A Thought Experiment

But let us assume, for the sake of the discussion, that Mr. Wittes’s prognostication is wrong, and that I am unwise to place any credence in that prediction. In other words, let us assume that, by hook or by crook, Trump and his lickspittles manage to “shut Mueller down,” and that, in consequence, Trump and his merry band are able to escape, at least for the next little while, the legal consequences of their misdeeds.

I’m reminded of the kind of advice I had to give to aspiring monopolists about once every six months: your scheme will probably crater on business grounds, but if it works, there will be hell to pay.

Continue to hold my thought experiment in mind. What would happen the day after Trump “shuts Mueller down”?

To answer my own question, lots of things would happen. The most important would be that the House would pass articles of impeachment, and the Republicans in the Senate would find themselves severely constricted, down where the hairs are short.

Progressives made great strides in the midterm elections. A Trump “success” in “shutting Mueller down” would well and truly seal the deal. Others may differ, but in my estimation, the boost to progressivism that would flow from a Trump “victory” over Mueller would far outweigh the pleasure we might derived by seeing Trump brought to justice.

But, too bad for us: the scheme to “shut Mueller down” probably will not work.

The Gaslighting Isn’t Working, but Trump Will Fire Mueller Anyway


The Gaslighting Isn’t Working

Gaslighting is

a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.[1][2]

Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. The term owes its origin to the 1938 Patrick Hamilton play Gas Light and its 1940 and 1944 film adaptations.

Gaslighting is a winning technique for Trump, but only with the hardest core of ignoramuses. To sum up,

— The reality is that public opinion is protecting the special counsel right now more than Republicans on Capitol Hill. “Mueller is largely seen as running a fair investigation, and confidence has held steady or even grown over recent months,” our in-house pollster Emily Guskin notes:

A Pew Research Center poll released last week found that 61 percent of Americans are very or somewhat confident that Mueller ‘will conduct a fair investigation,’ up six percentage points from … January, and from 56 percent in December. The rise is modest but statistically significant. … Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents fueled the rise in support … Just under half of Republicans, 46 percent, express confidence in Mueller’s probe this month, hardly changed from 45 percent two months ago.

A Marist poll last month found that 53 percent considered Mueller’s investigation to be fair, up five points from January, while 28 percent said it was not fair, and 20 percent had no opinion: “A 70 percent majority of Americans said Mueller should be allowed to finish the investigation, while 16 percent said he should be fired. Republicans, who largely approve of Trump’s performance, opposed firing Mueller by roughly 2 to 1, 55 percent to 27 percent.” [emphasis in original]

Let’s say it again. Despite the best efforts of Trump and Fox News, half of the Republicans have confidence in Mueller. And among the other half, who think Mueller is incompetent or corrupt, only half of them think it would be a good idea to shitcan him. (I suppose the rest want to see what he comes up with.)

So if Trump fires Mueller, all of Fox News, along with most gullible and easily misled 16 percent of the American public, will jump for joy.

But Trump Will Fire Mueller Anyway

As Jonathan Chait says, it’s a matter of character.

But more than that, it will be an act of desperation. When all your alternatives are really bad, you make the choice that seems the least desperate of all the desperate choices you have.

As the Geico ad says, that’s what you do.



Happy Acres Progressives Prepare for Action, Republican Politicos Punt


From this morning’s email blast here at Happy Acres:

If Mueller is fired before 2 pm, there will be a rally from 5-8 pm at the … Federal Courthouse the same day.  If Mueller is fired after 2pm, the rally will be from 5-8 pm the day following the firing, also at the … Federal Courthouse.

This following Trump’s clear signal of his intentions and a weekend where “most Republicans failed to seize this occasion to send a clear signal that any effort to remove Mueller will be met with serious consequences.

Meanwhile, Politico tells us: Republicans bet their Senate majority on Trump: Candidates in the most competitive races insist they’ll welcome the president to their states with open arms, despite his unpopularity nationally.

But the moment of choice is almost upon us: Banana Republican or Former Republican? Some will go one way. Some will go the other. I’ll bet a lot of them just pack up, go home, and retire into that obscurity which they so richly merit.