So, Joe, Here’s the Lowdown

Morning Psycho

So, today, Morning Joe took a breather from his homicidal career as a serial intern killer, to go on another long rant about the cowardly Republican senators, who have cast their lot with Captain Orange Man, even as he steers the ship into the iceberg.

Joe, let me explain this to you, because it’s pretty clear what is happening.

This onion, I think, has several layers.

First off, stop marveling that the Republican senators elected in 2014, 2016, and 2018 are mostly lacking in public spirit and moral fiber. You remind me of the man who visits the zoo and expresses wonderment that all the animals in the place marked “Tiger Cage” have stripes. But this is no cause for amazement. The zookeepers put all the big cats with stripes into the “Tiger Cage,” and they put all the other guest animals in other places. It did not happen by accident.

By like token, all the recently elected Republican senators are people who thought it would be a good career move to be a well compensated towel boy, or girl, in the plutocrats’ brothel. Just-do-the-right-thing is not exactly the go-to life strategy of people for whom that is an attractive career move.

Now, I know your next question: well, even if they are not guided by morality, why are they willingly sailing into the iceberg on Captain Orange Man’s ship?

I do not believe it is very challenging to reverse engineer what they must be thinking.

Pardon my blunt speech here, but the time is long past to mince words. The Republican braqnd and the Republican organization rests on three stools: (1) the plutocrats, or at least a good part of the plutocrats; (2) the Main Street country club types, or at least a good part of them; and (3) the white trash, whom the plutocrats and the country club types have heretofore manipulated and exploited for fun and profit.

It looks as if, in 2020, the stool is probably going to come apart, and the Republican Party will face a great crisis. But guess what? After the debacle, there will still be plutocrats, and the plutocrats will still need towel boys and girls for their brothel, and the towel boys and girls will still be well compensated.

Maybe Humpty Dumpty will somehow be put back together again, this time without Trump. Maybe the plutocrats and the Main Street country club folks will form a third party, to be called the Rational Conservative Sensible Pro Growth American Centrist Party, or something along those general lines. Whatever. The plutocrats will still need to buy politicians and lobbyists. And they will want to buy loyal politicians—people who bloody well know how to take a bullet for the team. They will not want to hire people whose escutcheons are blotted by any hint of adherence to science or to the first principles of Judeo-Christian ethics.

The Magical Mystery Tour is Dying to Take You Away, Take You Today

Politico, Republicans praise Trump’s pandemic response with Senate majority at risk: Breaking with the president may be more dangerous than sticking by him. The article begins: “Senate Republicans are settling on their pandemic message as they fight to save their majority: President Donald Trump did a tremendous job.”

Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, is telling the truth. But the Republican senators are telling murderous lies.

Senators, what is wrong with you?

Your one and only remotely honorable course is to speak truth the power, i.e., to Donald J. Trump, and to accept the consequences.

Why cling to office, if that means misleading your constituents, to their early death?

Financial need? Senators are paid $174,000 a year. About one third of the nation’s lawyers make more than that. Also, unlike most lawyers, senators need to maintain two homes. If you cannot make more money in the private sector than you can honestly earn as a senator, you do not bloody well need to be a United States senator.

Many of your white constituents have been dying of whiteness for some time now.

Senators, your words and actions are accelerating those deaths. Before, death by whiteness would normally be a matter of years. In the time of pandemic, it’s a matter of days and weeks.

What is wrong with you?

In the name of all that is holy, what is wrong with you?

Heads on Pikes

head

Nancy LeTourneau, Trump Is in the Process of Putting Heads on Pikes

Trump’s actions so far demonstrate manly strength. But, as welcome as his condign vindictiveness may be, clearly he needs to go much further.

He needs to crucify Susan Collins and everybody else who admitted that he did something wrong in Ukrainegate. And there are a fair number of these traitors among Republican ranks in the Senate.

He needs to crucify them all.

Otherwise, maybe he’s not the manly bully that he seems to be. Maybe he just plays one on TV.

Asses in a Sling

ass in a sling

I have made this point before, but in our breathless attention to the will-there-or-won’t-there-be-witnesses drama, we tend to lose sight of the principle. Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure doesn’t literally apply to Senate impeachment trials, but logic and justice require the application of its spirit. The rule says, “The court shall grand summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” (It continues, “The court should state on the record the reasons for granting or denying the motion.”)

By the way, a “material” fact is a fact that is important enough to affect the outcome of a case. It’s the opposite of a trivial or an unimportant fact.

And I don’t have to tell you the difference between a “genuine” dispute and a bogus dispute.

In consequence, Republicans can comfortably vote to call no further witnesses if they are willing to entertain the truth of every allegation in the articles of impeachment, yet find some abstract reason why Trump’s conduct was not impeachable.

If that is what they do, then we can have no legitimate quarrel with their failure to call witnesses—only a quarrel with whatever bullshit abstraction they employ to whitewash the facts.

If they cannot find such an abstract proposition on which to hang their hats, and yet still refuse to call witnesses, then they not only spit in the face of 75 percent of the country, they also spit in the face of due process. Because there is no justice where the judge just dismisses the case on a whim, without calling witnesses, despite genuine dispute over facts that are material to the outcome of the case.

Here is where the Republican senators each find that his or her ass is in a sling.

Alan Dershowitz has offered such a proposition. A friend just sent an email summarizing his formulation of this evening thusly: “He said, every politician running for office credibly considers what they do to get elected to be in the public interest.  Ergo, anything they do to achieve that end is in the public interest.  Hence, Trump was acting in the public interest, and not for his private gain.”

Employing Dershowitz’s formula, nothing a president does could meet the standard of impeachability.

The Republican senators’ asses are in a sling because the Dershowitz formula is ludicrous. Yet, at this stage in the proceedings, no one on their side has offered a more appealing formula—a more limited proposition that would still absolve Trump.

So, to avoid looking like a bunch of jackasses, they have got to come up with that more appealing legal rationale

  • on their own,
  • over the next few days,
  • in the face of almost unbearable pressure.

Ladies and gentlemen, this will be a challenge, for at least two reasons.

The first reason is that a lot of the Republican senators are not very smart.

The second reason is that they are trying to resolve an issue—the the debate over what exactly are “high crimes and misdemeanors”–whose proper resolution has, for well more than two centuries, eluded consensus by a great many folks who are a great deal smarter than they are.

And they are trying to resolve that important policy argument in just a few days, while doing a lot of other things at the same time, where many of them lack the intellectual equipment to get the job done, even in more propitious circumstances.

There is every reason to think they will botch the job, and that right badly.

And may I say, it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of folks.

A Republican Senator’s Alternatives, or, Scylla Looks Pretty Bad, Guess I’ll Take Charybdis

Scylla and Charybdis

In other words, to avoid being eaten by Dear Leader Scylla, I guess I’ll just risk sinking in the Charybdis whirlpool of public disapproval.

That’s how the punditariat are reading all 53 Republican senators, and their predictions may well come true. But, actually, they do have some other choices—choices that may look bad, but are not unreasonable, if you step back and consider things rationally.

One, they could resign.

Two, they could announce that they will not run in the next election.

Three, for some of them, it might be feasible just to change parties. With the Democrats supporting them, along with ten percent of the Republicans, they might actually win the next election.

Four, they could just do the right thing, and hope for the best. I would argue, that’s far from an unreasonable choice, even for a cynical politician. Wargame it out. Whatever you do, Trump will be acquitted by the Senate. Trump will immediately begin to manifest far more depravity than he has shown to date. By the fall of 2020, with Trump’s increasing depravity, things are going to look pretty ugly for Trump and his bootlickers. And you are going to look like goddamn Nostradamus and Mother Theresa, rolled into one.

Not exactly a lead pipe cinch winner for you. But I have seen far, far worse bets.

So, dear Republican senators, here’s some really good advice:

On the Relationship Among Hard Political Data, Stone Cold Political Calculus, Ukrainian “Drug Deals,” and Rational Arguments

bupkis

Greg Sargent, John Bolton’s eruption shows that Trump’s defenses are collapsing

Well, one would certainly hope so—though both Mr. Sargent and Mr. Sargent’s headline writer strike me as just a tad optimistic. So let us unanimously resolve to avoid premature declarations of victory. And to drink no champagne before its time.

And let us also dig a little deeper.

Where the Kool-Aid Addicts are a Clear Majority

I assume your general familiarity with my immediately preceding post. There, looking at the Republican senators up for reelection in 2020, I pointed out that in each relevant states, support for Trump has suffered a massive loss since he took office. Nevertheless, in many “red” states, it appears that very hard core Trump supporters remain in the majority.

In those states, I assume, the senators’ knees will jerk, and they will vote for acquittal, no matter what. (It’s metaphysically possible that some such senator will have a Damascus Road experience and decide to commit political seppuku, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.)

Where the Kool-Aid Addicts are Only a Big Minority

In other states represented by Republican senators, Trump has done such a marvelous job of pissing off every reasonable person that the hard core Kool-Aid addicts are now only a significant minority. And Trump’s approval hovers at, say, +1 or -2.

There, a vote to convict and remove would pretty much guarantee a primary loss. While a vote to acquit would pretty much guarantee a loss in the general election—especially given the way things are going.

When Considerations of Amoral Political Expediency Yield an Indeterminate Result

If you are a Republican senator from a swing state, deciding whether to vote to convict or to acquit on the basis of pure political expediency does not work. Each alternative is politically inexpedient in the extreme.

Given that circumstance, they could always vote their conscience.

Please hold that thought for ten seconds and then let us move on.

Here, Ladies and Germs, is Where Actual Arguments Might Come into Play

Republican senators in swing states would love to be able to argue, a la Clinton, that “yes, it was pretty bad, but it wasn’t impeachable.” They will be driven to articulating such a talking point by an irresistible compulsion as great as the impulse that drives a herd of lemmings to jump off a cliff.

But here’s the problem.

Nada, Rien, Bupkis, Zilch, Zippo

Donald J. Trump, who insists on controlling his own messaging, does not know the difference between a superficially plausible argument and the crazed cry of a wounded animal.

Donald J. Trump is giving his peeps nothing to work with.

Nothing.

What Do These 13 People Have in Common?

see no evil

The 13 people of whom I speak are

  • Tim Scott
  • Todd Young
  • Mitt Romney
  • Lamar Alexander
  • Jim Risch
  • Rob Portman
  • Martha McSally
  • Lisa Murkowski
  • Mike Crapo
  • Mike Braun
  • James Lankford
  • John Hoeven
  • Joni Ernst

And they have three things in common.

One, they are Republicans.

Two, they are senators.

Three, as of 11AM this morning, they have not read the whistleblower report.

“You First, Gaston!” “After You, Alphonse!”

alphonsegaston

Republican Senators Play Alphonse to Trump’s Gaston

Hill GOP support grows for Trump to make emergency declaration: Some Republicans see the move as a face-saving way out of the shutdown.

Republican support for an emergency declaration to build President Donald Trump’s border wall is growing in Congress, as GOP leaders and White House officials view it as a way out of a shutdown fight they’re losing. …

Trump allies believe it would send an unmistakable message to the president’s base that he’s dead serious about border security. But it would also allow Trump and Republicans to save face, they note privately. GOP leaders on Capitol Hill know support for the shutdown is slowly eroding inside the party, as more moderate Republicans call for an end to the crisis.

Because, who gives a flying fuck about the Constitution as long as Republican empty suits can dodge their responsibilities and save their bacon?