As we seek to dig ourselves out of the moral and political abyss into which our country has sunk, it seems to me that two near-term projects are key.

    These are to retake both chambers in Congress and to obtain the president's removal from office at the earliest possible time.

    Through its stonewalling, cruel and stupid policy decisions, perfidy, and loud incompetence, the GOP Congress is making the former more likely.  By continuing to operate the way they are, they are doing continuing damage to the country.  And, in so doing they are also helping to build opposition, intensify pressure, and motivate turnout in November.  For the flip to occur in both chambers this will have to be a true wave election.  But the signs so far are encouraging that with sustained, intensifying effort it can be that. 

    I have a childhood friend who is considering running for the New Hampshire legislature as a Democrat.  He says that these days, in New Hampshire, public sentiment is so heavily and overwhelmingly against Republicans that if one runs as a Democrat one is virtually certain to win.  

    The GOP Congress and Trump Administration are mutually reinforcing one another's deteriorating reputation and legitimacy, in full, seemingly hourly, view.  

    Cass Sunstein's short book Impeachment: A Citizen's Guide, without mentioning Trump by name once, provides historical context for what the impeachment mechanism was meant to do, and spins that out to apply it to real and hypothetical case scenarios.  Alan Lichtman's The Case for Impeachment is another contribution. 

    If the impeachment clause was not meant for the current situation, it was not meant for anything.  Will we mentally disable ourselves from utilizing a constitutionally available mechanism for protecting our country from further danger and grievous damage inflicted on us by our present government?  Why?  What are the reasons that could justify such self-imposed impotence? 

    By "we" in the above paragraph, I mean very specifically individuals who are not now applying pressure to make this happen, through creative and conventional actions alike, who could nonetheless choose to do so, and those who have taken some action, but could choose to do more.   There is an enormous amount of activity that has been generated by the opposition.  That has not so far led to the needed breakthrough.  So far.  Some cracks in the seemingly impregnable edifice are visible.  There is opportunity for many more to become involved.

    If the current occupant of the White House is to exit, one way or another, this can happen suddenly and unexpectedly.  If and when it does, our country will have a different set of challenges to deal with, to be sure.  One foot in front of the other.  We may even look back and view surviving the present moment as the easy part.  The miscreants who have created it are helping generate the opposition necessary to thwart it and create opportunity to move in a different direction.  

    There will be more than enough time to worry and despair once we get to whatever comes next.  And cultivate and demonstrate the fortitude to somehow bracket the worry and despair and keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

    Oh and one other thing, one that will help a great deal: solidarity.



    I vote no. 

    1. I'm not competent  usefully to  discuss whether he merits impeachment so I'll go with my gut feel which is :not yet. 

    2. With respect to political strategy obviously we should prioritize and ,for me, the  priority is winning in 2020. Doing anything making that harder  requires Trump  acting  so  the obvious answer to (1) is Yes.   





    Oh.  For a minute, on seeing the first sentence I was wondering if you were voting no on fortitude.  wink

    I'm not sure I am following what you are saying on #2 and I want to.  Could you please clarify what you mean on that.

    If you're gonna go, go first class. Or

    Don't strlke the king unless you're sure you will kill him.

    If it becomes clear that Trump covered up his subordinates Russians, he should be impeached. The emoluments clause is another possibility for impeachment. We may never reach the bar needed to press these charges in an impeachment trial. I do agree that the best option is to replace as many Republicans with Democrats.

    The recent highly inappropriate, politically motivated use of the impeachment provision in our day may have overly raised the bar for its next use.  Anyone contemplating using it may fear that their actions would be viewed as a kind of temper tantrum attempt to overturn the most recent election results, inevitably looked upon with strong disfavor by most of the public regardless of the merits of using it.  As it was viewed by majorities last time around with Clinton. 

    I harbor some hope that, prior to the conclusion of the Mueller investigation wherever that may lead, members of Congress, late night comics, editorial and opinion writers and yes, some bloggers, and others with actual power or influence on public opinion will begin to take a little time to look into the history and intent of the impeachment provision, to assess fairly whether they believe it is or could be appropriate in this instance.    

    I don't doubt there will be mixed opinions on that.  Some believe the threshold has already been met.  Jennifer Rubin is one--she has maintained for some time now that there already is ample evidence of obstruction of justice.  Others will conclude no, not at this point, anyway. 

    I don't have a sense of how the politics of it would play.  That probably will depend on, among many other factors, the tone those seeking impeachment adopt.  That will need to be fully above board, classy, and somber, true to the known facts and free of vituperative, over-the-top rhetoric, not in any way celebratory.  For this is not an occasion for celebration by anyone.  The tenor and conduct of those seeking to use it will need to say in every way, as Rubin says: country first.  

    That will need to be fully above board, classy, and somber, true to the known facts and free of vituperative, over-the-top rhetoric, not in any way celebratory.

    Have you met politics?  ;-)

    wink Yes, I sure have.  

    If the House were to impeach and there is a trial which moves to the Senate, one of my state's senators, Mark Warner, would do it just that way if he is involved.  He is very competent and respected on both sides of the partisan divide.  This is one of the advantages of having an honest-to-goodness devotee of bipartisan politics serving in that chamber.    

    At the impeachment phase, admittedly, it is difficult to identify any current GOP House member who seems likely to fit this bill.  The hope would be that the campaign and outcome of the fall elections might open up in enough key GOP members a change of heart.  This is true whether the chamber flips or not because if it is only Democrats pursuing impeachment, it's going to be even more contentious. 

    But if the chamber flips and no GOP members behave themselves, they can cry all they want and the Democrats will still have the votes to send the matter to the Senate for trial.  The proceedings will be televised so members of the public who are curious, as quite a few were during the Watergate era, can watch and make up their own minds on what's going down, whether there is merit and justification for whatever the decision turns out to be.

    Congress sure has changed a lot since the Watergate proceedings.  It was able then to pull off a highly credible process that, darn, even made our country look good, like we not only have standards on paper but occasionally insist on upholding them.  Of course, the GOP in that day was capable of feeling shame, and was able to rise to the necessary country and constitution-first mentality to do what needed to be done.    

    Most Democrats - House and Senate - thus far disagree with the impeachment push Tom Steyer has initiated.  They have good reasons.  Not the least of which is that his very public campaign has robbed them of the bipartisan avenue necessary for not only success, but quite likely public support.  His preemptive jump on the bandwagon hasn't helped.

    Watergate isn't the historic path we need to follow as memory lane directs - it's the Clinton fiasco that is the terra firma.


    Why does an impeachment effort have to associate itself in any way with Steyer's actions?  If he has adopted a partisan approach, that doesn't mean members of Congress leading an impeachment effort going forward have to do so.  

    Guys, why are we talking like this?

    We have a president who besides actively funneling money from Russia, he's letting Russia dictate our foreign policy goals, dismantling our state department, dropping our security to let Russia attack & target our elections and infrastructure, while giving Russia carte blanche in strategic regions abroad, while more than one congressman is leaking confidential info out of the hearings, and several appear to be actively blackmailed. Which hasn't been quite enough to diminish Republican support, but I'm supposed to be concerned that *we* might be acting partisan? Did *we* steal a Supreme Court seat and ram through numerous cabinet positions without Democrats allowed to review? Did *we* pile the budget full of thousands of pages of perks for the rich at the las minute that no one had a chance to read before voting? Etc etc. I simply can't give a fuck about what nicities they might expect.

    Here's just one of the everyday assaults on our system - similar to the massive bot attack over net neutralty -what's our "bipartisan" response?

    I see confusion on the thread coming from bouncing back and forth between big picture theoretical and this specific instance. There'd no doubt be a bi-partisan movement to impeach him long ago had he GOP not been so cynically desperate to work the devil's bargain result of him being president and them having control of Congress as long as they can. Don't forget how he got there while campaigning, calling all of them names, dissing them, most of them hate him and how he got there. They made a devil's bargain, and they are trying the best they can to play it out. Easy for the longtime safe or leaving guys like McCain and Graham, Flake and Corker to speak out and take a stand on the more big picture problems, for many of the others not so much. What has happened is that they take a stand against him on issues where it will agree with their constituency and/or donors, like Rubio on immigration for example, but they are making a devil's bargain on the Russia stuff. If their constituents or donors cared a lot more, they'd care. Otherwise, they're going to try to drag it out as long as possible. The more he idiosyncratically throws sand in their faces when they're trying to accomplish something that's a goal, the more difficult he is for them, the more they might get on board. Really, it's all over every story I read that's from a GOP p.o.v. He's a pain in the ass to them, a devil's bargain, there's no love lost. He knows how to manipulate certain swings they know they need against them. Understanding this is why I like to visit sites from the GOP p.o.v. It's not like they all love Russia or Trump, it's not a priority. It's not a priority because it's not a priority to the constituency.

    The reason I said what I did is not because I believe Democrats in Congress should feel any obligation to play fair with Republicans in Congress in a way Republicans in Congress have not.  Rather, it is because perceptions of fairness can impact public opinion.  No?  Majority public opinion needs to be brought along.  There will understandably be squeamishness about going down this road, plus lots of initial ignorance and confusion about its legitimacy that will have to be overcome through patient explanation. 

    We do not have to suffer this guy for 3 more years.  

    We do not have to suffer this guy for 3 more years.  

    But unless Mueller takes the whole shit-house down, we will be stuck with Pence as Pres.  He would likely not start a nuclear war, but he would be seen (and I disagree vehemently with this) as a sane alternative to trump.  That’s all the trump voters would need for 2022...a pristine, velvet-voiced hypocrite, who would end the evil Planned Parenthood, any Protections for LGTBQ people, and any semblance of voting protections.  

    Pence is probably not more dangerous than trump in the near term, but long-term, I am not sure.

    I like to throw in a extra added reminder to consider related to your p.o.v. expressed here: AND Trump's not going away until he dies. His fans don't care about Russian interference and won't care even if he is impeached. It is highly likely that he would become a martyr figure for them. It would even be difficult to get him to stop the communication with them if he were in prison. We are stuck with him influencing the national discourse unless he is disgraced in a different way than is available now. Not going to go quietly like Nixon did, he has no loyalty to party, wouldn't care if he did them damage, it is all about him and his fans.

    p.s. Which brings it around to: if it's going to be done on the whole Mueller investigation (impeachment or threat and forced resignation) it should be about the integrity of the election system, and not about getting rid of Trump. Because: we will not be getting rid of him! If convicted he will just not be president anymore.

    So one has to think about what bothers one about him actually being in the office as opposed to Pence or Ryan as opposed to him being out of the office. Certainly all GOP in office think about this, they know he's not going away, Dems should think about it too.

    Edit to add: 46.9 million twitter followers, even if he lost half of them, that's still major power to affect the national and world discourse.

    As president he has power to take action. Out of office his power is only to sway public opinion so his followers might take action and even than less meaningful action than he could make as president. The range of possibilities is greater for Trump than for Pence. Trump may be so incompetent that he accomplishes less than Pence might. That's what we've seen so far. If that continues I prefer him to Pence. Yet Trump might bumble into a war with North Korea or push Iran to develop nuclear weapons. A war with Iran or another Middle East country isn't out of the question with Trump. Pence would likely be more rational and restrained in dealing with foreign countries. It's Trump's narcissism and volatile nature coupled with his ignorance that worries me.

    Yes, as you and PP are I think suggesting, it defies comprehension how any US president who openly encouraged foreign meddling in our elections, and who has taken no action to protect our country from more of the same in the future, would still be politically standing.  The idea that a constitutionally available remedy for such an egregious abuse of public office and the public trust would not be utilized is similarly incomprehensible, to me, anyway.  

    We can overthink and over-analyze this.  In the end it seems to me we need to do what we need to do.  To protect ourselves from an existential threat to our country.  One more thing that boggles my mind is the argument that getting rid of this guy cannot be sold politically to majorities, based on what he has done.  Really?  Are we that far gone?  


    “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” That's still true for the @35% of the people who still support him

    The views of 35% of the people are not supposed to prevail.  

    They have rationalized themselves into hopelessness. They expect to lose.

    Half of his Twitter users are fake - he'd just buy more or more likely the Russians would replace.

    Completely agree Pence would be a different kind of disaster.  We can only hope Mueller is investigating his role in the Russia matter vigorously and that Pence will also be removed if the evidence points that way.  

    Talk about benefiting from a low bar.  It would be helpful if we are able to avoid a nuclear exchange.    

    Thought of your comment on reading this short take from Robert Kuttner yesterday:

    President Pence, What’s Not to Like? I’ve heard otherwise sensible people say that removing Donald Trump would not be a good idea because then we’d get President Pence and then Republicans could regroup.

    You gotta be kidding. For starters, Pence is one of the worst retail politicians in American politics.

    You have to be pretty lame to be on track to face defeat as an incumbent Republican governor in Indiana. Pence agreed to be Trump’s running mate only because he was in such trouble at home.

    Also, Trump’s removal and the installation of Pence would split the Republican base. Pence has none of Trump’s animal appeal as a faux-populist for the hard-core Tea Party base. 

    The idea that Pence would represent a new post-Trump GOP unity is fantasy. And don't discount the power of post-Trump recriminations as Republicans face a blue blowout in the midterms.

    Pence is a conventional, evangelical far-right politician. That’s poison in the socially moderate swing-district suburbs. And as a bonus—unlike Trump, there is almost no risk that Pence will blow us all up.

    A weak candidate and a fractured Republican Party. Bring it on! ~ ROBERT KUTTNER

    Kuttner today:

    How Impeachment Will Whipsaw the GOP. As noted in a previous post, some too-clever Democratic strategists don’t want to talk about impeachment for fear of animating the Trump base to turn out and vote this November. But there are not enough hard-core Trumpers to keep the House in Republican hands.

    Once Dems take back the House, impeachment inevitably becomes the first order of business. For several months—if Trump is still in the White House by next January—more of the lurid details of his corruption and opportunism will be spread across the public record as the Democratic House uses its full investigative powers. And the House is very likely to vote for impeachment.

    This would then put Republican senators in an exquisite bind, heading into a presidential year: Back Trump to the end, alienate swing voters, and go down with the ship? Or vote to convict and infuriate the hard-core Trump base? Meanwhile, criminal prosecutions for Trump’s close associates and family are coming down the pike.

    One way or another, Trump is likely to be gone by the 2020 presidential election. One possibility is that Trump, ever the deal-maker, cuts a grand deal with the impeachers and the prosecutors: He resigns the presidency, in exchange for no prosecutions. That way, he saves his skin and his brand. That deal could also look better and better to Senate Republicans, who don’t share their House counterparts' enthusiasm for Trump.

    There is no parallel to the disgrace of the current Republican Party in putting opportunistic ideological and legislative gains ahead of the Republic. The legislative orgy will be over after this November, and Republicans will be looking to their own futures in the face of more and more hard evidence of Trump’s thuggery and a rising Blue Tide. ~ ROBERT KUTTNER

    The only thing the snowflakes are telling the Republic and the world with their petty impeachment schemes is that they can' win at the voting booth so they revert to commie 'by any means necessary' subversion. The snowflakes and their compliant media have created a macabre dance of lies and repetition to feed their degenerate needs.

    You were looking much better when you dropped the snowflakes thing for a couple of comments, it almost seems like you go back to using shadowy ad hominen attacks when you are lacking confidence about wassup.

    Artificial familiarity links any use of the word impeachment with the favored term.
    They go together like Thelma and Louise.

    ah, yes. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for all of your helpful recent input on rhetoric, I've enjoyed it.

    J’étais heureux de le faire.
    *using French to confound the algorithm.*

    First rule of Fight Club is don't talk about Fight Club...

    It's more boredom than lack of anything except evidence that encourages me to check the score. The losers are still the losers although they make a lot of usless noise and then build whole commentaries on their noise. Your calling as a commie agitator requires more effort to attract the support of the liesure calss and fellow travelers but even the useful idiots in your orbit know the agenda you represent is based on ugly ideas and hate. Conservatives in general seem more subdued about expressing their feelings except for their few talking heads. They write checks to the NRA and attend Trump ralleys to chant 'Lock Her Up' to keep their spirits high.

    Shouting "lock her up" and punching out any minorities in an audience is "subdued"? Cheering on "kill all the Muslims" isn't hate?

    You're obviously too bored to make sense, much less attempt to reason with people who are trying to analyze a constantly shifting terrain. Maybe you should take some time off and think about how you can bring us more sane excitement. I think we've had enough of "blue is really yellow" and "up is really down" kind of tricks for "escaping boredom". May have worked when we were 3.

    And while I'm guessing this won't work for you, it's now 2 years since Susan Sarandon, the Bernie Bro darling, and Breitbart teamed up to start second-guessing all the "Hillary health issues", a particularly nasty piece of work that culminated in a Wikileaks poll of "what's wrong with HIllary" following a brief flu that September. You keep acting like nothing's been proven, but SHE DOESN'T HAVE PARKINSONS AND SHE DIDN'T HAVE FUCKING HEALTH ISSUES ASIDE FROM A QUICK FLU, so it was bullshit then and bullshit now. So yes, we have proved that both left- and right-wing bullshit news can be bullshit, and 2 years later we can sit and judge just how bullshit it was. So build on that little factoid, and extend it to how much of your "facts" that your Gods like Hannity spew forth, with their back-scenes collusion between all the other right-wing characters to make Fox's fake news not just fake but dangerously planned fake, now that we know him & Trump speak all the time, and he coordinates with Cohen, and works with Julian Assange and Roger Stone and the other shit disturbers of the right. Maybe your rubes on the right really are just honest misled rubes on the right trying to express their feelings, but those "few talking heads" are real snakes that have led them off into the tall grass. But since those rubes have decided that a bit of assaultive pussy-grabbing doesn't infringe on the words of Christ, and that selling White House connections for cash and coordinating with the Kremlin doesn't infringe on patriotism, maybe these rubes are simply less benign and much more dangerous than you give them credit for.

    Godless commies who may be more occultists than atheists make poor virture signalers or finger pointers at the sins of others real or imagined. People who practice postmodernism have no connecion with any real ethics or morals which are buried under liberal relativism, the solvent that seperates them from the responsibility for their actions. The Red Queen knew the only way to control her pre-campaign history was with bleach and hammers but the DNC and Podesta were outmaneurved by someone inside or outside their orginization. Reading the facts contained on these emails certainly brings up the stink of partisan shit but the truth is often upsetting. The release of the Comey memos and the IG's report along with reccomendations for criminal proceedings means the shit is just beginning to hit the fan and should leave a stinky layer all over the perps in this conspirasy, a long list of swamp creatures from the two chattering and now fired FBI agents all the way to Obama. I know it was a big letdown for the snowflakes that the right wing death squads they warned abour never materalized and there were few individual misbehaviors against the professional agitators sent to disrupt Trump ralleys. We did have a small riot here in NM when some wetbacks attacked a Trump ralley and then turned to firebombing the cops when they intervened. There was some reconquesta actions in LA also probably waving the Mexican flag as they show their loyalty.

    Well, our little Russian dagbot is blowing a circuit, going into overload. How many inanities/sec is that? Hard to count so fast. "Dave, don't do that Dave..." "open up, HAL"

    Poor Trump, the Dark State is out to get him. The Dark State are all Republicans. The Dark State wanted Hillary to win. To get Hillary elected, they waited until right before the election to say that an investigation into Hillary had been reopened. The Dark State thought that it would help elect Hillary by not mentioning that Trump was under investigation. Sounds like a great plan.

    Once elected, Trump told us that his  crowd was bigger than Obama’s inauguration crowd. Trump immediately settled a lawsuit for defrauding students at his money scam known as Trump University. Two con jobs in rapid succession.

    This stuff is hilarious. Trump is so pathetic that “ Scandal”, the Shonda Rhimes show about a fictional scandal-ridden President  had to end its run prematurely because Trump’s actions were so outrageous that the writers couldn’t create scripts that were more shocking than what was occurring in real life.


    This comment read to me like some computer-generated list of random words from a Frank Luntz or Newt Gingrich power point from days gone by of nasty words to repeatedly and robotically be associated with Democrats, liberals and other assorted winger-fantasized mortal threats to the republic.  

    The Dork State speaks, people listen. A dotard launches into tweets of covfefe or says the word Snowflake, and we're supposed to stand mesmerized by some brilliance...

    "Rosebud", no?

    The Dork State: lol! And covfefe surely does fit here somewhere!

    OMG the Dork State... This is the longest laugh I have had since fucking Nov 2016. I’m stealing this forever, I’m just going to say I stole if from some philosopher dude who won’t spell his own name right. 


    I believe you win the internet yesterday and today.

    It's the Roman script - I was always more comfortable in Greek writing (with an affinity for Persian), "Περικλής παρακαλώ" if you must, though we had more of a southern drawl than the "Attican" dialect typically ascribed by modern scholars (read "Troys in the Attica" by Στέφανος Τγλξρ, a hard-to-find reassessment of often fatally flawed Greek linguistic analysis)

    As for "winning the internet", I hope I can cash out in something other than bitcoin.

    oh yeah, was absolutely fascinated by that southern drawl Attic Greek thing the minute I learned about it decades ago, struck me as something very profound about north/south city/country divides everywhere, "laid back" culture vs. urban anxiety....

    I don't care about the so called nicities. There's just certain political realities we have to consider if we're to be successful. No matter how much I hate Trump and want him gone we haven't reached the point yet where enough of the public supports impeachment for it to succeed. It won't succeed either with a conviction nor will it help democrats to win elections.

    It doesn't, and a Congress made up of Mark Warners et al certainly wouldn't likely (arguably) do so.  However, even if Democratic members of Congress in both houses behaved in the most high-minded way possible the impeachment talk has already soiled the laundry - unless and until Trump is caught red handed doing/having done something clearly and demonstrably illegal.  At this point, anything ambiguous won't work.

    We also need to remember that there will come a time when a Democratic President is in office, and Republicans will point to what we do today to justify their actions.  We can decry partisanship 'til the cows come meandering home, but ignoring its reality is dangerous.  

    If a future Democratic President does what Trump has done, we should support impeachment just the same.  (Actually, we should mount a campaign to spare the country that tribulation by trying to bring about a resignation).  If that is not the case and it's more like the Clinton debacle, we distinguish the cases, right?

    The Republicans are going to do whatever they're going to do.  And they're going to own whatever they do.  The voters are going to decide who they trust to put in office going forward.  


    Obstruction of justice is sufficient legal reason for impeachment, anything really is sufficient legal reason for impeachment. Congress can decide anything is a sufficient legal reason. But politically there has to be a major crime Trump was trying to hide with his obstruction. While there is considerable reasonable speculation that crimes were committed there hasn't been charges for any major crime. My guess is that it's likely Mueller has found and will find more crimes but so far he's run a tight ship with few leaks. Discussing impeachment is premature until his investigation is complete.

    Good points.  I don't agree that anything at all is sufficient legal reason for impeachment, or conviction.  But I do agree that since Congress decides what is sufficient, it serves as its own judge of sufficiency.      

    Yes, that's what I meant. People may disagree with congress' decision but they have the final word. It's similar to the Supreme Court decides what is constitutional simply because they have the final word. It doesn't matter how much you or I or even constitutional scholars may disagree with their decisions.

    Because of course the Titanic has to hit ocean's bittom before we pull out the life rafts.

    Your comment makes me think about how this is where the fishy election results comes in. Because making impeachment and removal difficult is purposeful to prevent the elites from thwarting the people's will. But it wasn't the majority's will that this man be president and now he's working against the majority's will. There is also the complication that we were never meant to have a very powerful presidency. And the thing that with Trump, he is actually weak, complicates it further.

    He is mainly misusing a role of leader of national discourse and attention, the demagogue role, one that's not in the Constitution. President wasn't supposed to be a demagogue, we've given the whole role model thing to them, nobody forced us to. Makes me think how that happened. G. Washington was idolized, there was a huge cult for a long time, but after that, not so much, except for maybe FDR. But after we helped win the world wars, our president became the "most powerful person in the free world"? This is where Congressional approval for war acts and even foreign policy is so important, beyond the importance of blood and treasure being at stake, the president shouldn't be the "leader of the free world", they should? It's Congress, especially the Senate, who should be seen as having their "finger on the button"? If we really want to sell a democratic republic as the best of all the bad systems out there?

    No, as a political matter we just have to have sufficient provable evidence that a major crime has been committed. Not just reasonable speculation. Just as all we'd need is sufficient provable evidence that the Titanic will eventually hit bottom. We don't have to wait until the Titanic actually hits the bottom.

    Here's more crimes being committed, though not by any means all Russian. He's got a shingle out that says, "come buy me". America's open for sale if Trump can make a buck on it.

    You don't have to convince me. I hate the guy as I've stated time and time again even on Flavius' threads about how we shouldn't hate. But I have yet to see any poll on impeachment that broke 50% and he still has overwhelming support, @85%, from republicans.

    you know what drives me nuts about those type of polls that show a lot of support for Trump from "Republicans"? The irony is that it's clear that actual Republican politicians and politicos and party activists would love him to be gone, to be out of their hair. It's the Bannon wing only that's happy with him. So there's a total disconnect between people who identify as Republican to pollsters and the real party members and all powers that be therein, except for maybe the Freedom Caucus people, but they, too are a problem. It is maybe partly due to the question the pollsters are asking. The people answering naturally are happy that Republicans have control of both branches. But there is no way all of them are 100% happy with a crazy narcissist who is basically a Republican-in-name-only who sometimes favors Republican agendas and sometimes destroys them. They are not all Sean Hannity sympathizers, of that I am sure. They are not honest because of the artificially-imposed polarization, I think, it's a imaginary solidarity thing, believe it hard enough and it can be true? Answering that you approve of his performance only because Dems are attacking it?.....

    Yeah, it's one of my schticks here to point out that polls can't be taken at face value but must be thoughtfully considered to extract the information they contain, if any. I recently saw a poll that claimed 14% of republicans supported impeachment. That's the never Trump wing of the republican party. Some of the most astute critiques of Trump come from them, often better than the liberal critiques. How ever much other wings dislike Trump or tolerate him in their bargain for tax cuts, less regulation, and reducing or ending entitlements I think we can be sure they wouldn't support impeachment.

    If the G.O.P. were to vote yes for impeachment, they would be throwing out the margin that has built up their power over the last 6 decades. They won't do it.

    This element is sharply different from the partisan struggles that fell out of the attempt to impeach Clinton. Clinton was an effective coalition builder but he was not an agent of a political will whose removal would be tantamount to directly attacking groups who voted for him.
    In a way, only Trump can dismantle his role, either by proving conclusively to his "base" that he failed them or by simply leaving.

    Each morning, I rise up with the hope that he resigned in my sleep.


    But we also have all kinds of wild cards going on with the 2018 elections. Besides Dems threatening to take over seats and majorities, there's the anti-Trump GOP guys deciding to resign or retire because they are fed up with Trump and with playing to that part of the base. Who fills those seats is going to be interesting. The GOP party is in a quandary which way to go with that.  If they want to keep the MAGA people (protectionist, anti-immigrant, socially conservative, all the Pat Buchanan types and Tea Partying types and Reagan Dems) they alienate the moderates. If Dems run moderates in the swing districts, the GOP see they are losing those so far with anti-Trump feelings, like in Wisconsin. So enough Dems may win in 2018 to impeach in 2019? Especially if more anti-Trump GOP replace some of those that are lost?

    There are a lot of factors in play that challenge the G.O.P.'s efforts to keep all the different groups who vote Republican to hammer down a single platform. I am proposing that the party would not have the power it does today if had not courted the groups it did over the course of decades. Those two ideas do not cover the same ground. The conditions controlling the access to power are not coplanar with the conflicts that emerge once that dominant position has been achieved.

    From that perspective, the enormous ghastly omnipresence of Trump is oddly unimportant. He represents certain groups but he doesn't reflect them. He is their gun for hire, taking aim at whoever they wish. After years of restaurants who only offered complete menus, a shop opens up that is totally ala carte. Trump is a service industry, filling a gap in the market.

    Now, the people who hired this guy range from extremely literal minded hysterics to sanguine skeptics who shrug more often than they burp. The G.O.P. has got to know their chances of repeating such a range are very slim. They may hate the guy but he is the only one who won their own rigged contest they set up to keep guys like him on the sidewalk.

    This is especially great stuff from your comment, moat, I am in awe:

    From that perspective, the enormous ghastly omnipresence of Trump is oddly unimportant. He represents certain groups but he doesn't reflect them. He is their gun for hire, taking aim at whoever they wish. After years of restaurants who only offered complete menus, a shop opens up that is totally ala carte. Trump is a service industry, filling a gap in the market.

    Now, the people who hired this guy range from extremely literal minded hysterics to sanguine skeptics who shrug more often than they burp. The G.O.P. has got to know their chances of repeating such a range are very slim.

    "God sees the truth. But waits." Tolstoy

    We're stuck with Trump.  Until..., we're stuck with Trump .He'll never "impeach himself" i.e. act so that a large majority of voters  wants him to be impeached.  AOBTW were he did  we're wouldn't  want to install a President Pence. 

    Sorry about that.     

    And an unsuccessful  impeachment would make it harder to win in November. So attempted impeachment?.......ditto. In spades.. 

    Unfair?Who said life would be fair?

    Next subject?

    Trump did not have to rescind DACA

    Republicans could have renewed CHIP

    When should Democrats stop giving in to Republicans. The choices Democrats are forced to make are GOP created


    Jennifer Rubin reconsiders whether pursuing impeachment is the wisest course, yesterday's WaPo:


    "All of that may not be as emotionally satisfying as impeachment..."

    Not very subtle with her condescension, is she?

    Well, she gives a pretty compelling argument - we could *investigate* Trump. And maybe make him release his taxes. Because investigating is so much fun, the sine qua non of American life, why mess with silly little things like obstructing an investigatio (along with the unmentioned money laundering and conspiring to steal data and illegally funneling foreign money/assistance into an election.)

    Who is she?

    What's missing from her essay is the word "justice." That's what this is all about, justice and safeguarding the country, not "emotional satisfaction." By all means, Congress should investigate and publicize any wrongdoing, but that does not absolve them of their constitutional responsibilities. If Trump has committed high crimes, Congress is obligated to impeach, regardless of political expediency or anyone's emotional state.

    Exactly. She's pulling the same strawman as elsewhere, the "smug liberal" that only wants gotcha points in petty school cafeteria squabbles, rather than serious solutions for serious issues. The GOP can enjoy 9 Benghazi investigations hoping an email server or other "scandal" will emerge, and therefore that's all Dems must want as well. God forbid we had cobtrol to actually enact legislation and enforce laws on the books as intended - we must be out for personal pique.

    Ups, I missed the sarcasm in your previous comment.

    Sorry, emojis broken - having them reset now, but the enamel seems a bit worn and cracked.


    "An anonymous Republican congressman on Donald Trump: '(He’s) an evil, really fucking stupid Forrest Gump.'", Mark Maynard blogsite post April 11, 2018: 

    Former Fox News pundit Erick Erickson claims to have spent yesterday evening grocery shopping with a Republican congressman who, as he made his way up and down the aisles of a D.C. Safeway, vented about Donald Trump, whom he referred to as “(A)n evil, really fucking stupid Forrest Gump.”

    Make of this whatever you will--the sources are not at all familiar to me.  Apologies if someone posted this already and I missed it.

    This was also posted about in an online pub called Delaware Liberal (one I am also not personally familiar with), where the author states that he got it via Jen Hayden and DKos.  Hayden is listed as a staff person at Dkos.

    The articles contain an account of a claimed tirade from an anonymous GOP House member against Trump to one Erik Erickson, described as a "conservative blogger" and a former FoxNews pundit.  So, about two or three dozen grains of salt needed here.  I don't usually traffic in this sort of stuff.  And I don't know whether I believe the account or not.  



    Erik Erickson ran at its most powerful. He's like the Kos of the right but a bigger deal because he went on to lots of work at Fox. You are not really trafficking in dubious stuff, would be no surprise as he's been a public "Never Trumper" since 2015. And I've seen worse Trump bashing in published material over at National Review. Most classic Buckley type conservatives despise Trump even more.

    Robert Kuttner on The American Prospect, today:

    JULY 16, 2018

    Kuttner on TAP

    It Must Be Nice to Have Washington on Your Side. Vladimir Putin has to be heading home scratching his head. His meeting with Trump was choreographed to be cordial. But why on earth did Trump need to repeat, in even stronger terms, that he believes Putin’s denials over the extensive investigations of the entire U.S. intelligence establishment?

    “They said they think it’s Russia; I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia,” Mr. Trump declared at the joint press conference—right after the Putin admitted that he had favored Mr. Trump in the election because of his promises of closer relations with Moscow.

    Why did Trump not even go through the motions of asking Putin to keep his mitts off the American election process?

    This makes no sense, either in domestic political terms or in terms of Trump’s tactical effort to discredit the special counsel. And it strengthens the case for what will be the strongest count in the impeachment of Trump—namely, treason.

    Trump's mission to Finland is a political catastrophe for him, capping his buffoonish performances at NATO and in Britain. There is no good explanation for any of it, except a psychiatric one.

    Those Democrats who say that raising impeachment will set back their chances of taking the House in the November elections are profoundly wrong. Impeachment just became inevitable. ~ ROBERT KUTTNER

    It's bizarre. It's crazy. Why did he do it? I've come to the same conclusion Josh Marshall has. The worse case scenario has been obvious for a while.

    We've been wondering how Melania would signal she's trapped. But hiw would Donald? Maybe he *did* go overboard *on purpose*. Maybe instead of playing the game, he played *too much* rather than too little. Him sitting in that chair like a little boy, or reading the paper without conviction... if so, what could they have on him? I don't think it could be jail, but who knows. Maybe Ivanka - she's the apple if his eye...

    NYT's Michelle Goldberg agrees.

    FWIW, I came across this tweet by Jonathan Chait on topic of "Putin has something on Trump". I came across it only because it was retweeted by Republican John Weaver ( who lists himself on twitter as "Bush 41/McCain/Kasich strategist" but who also happens to be the former top aide to Amb. to Russia Jon Huntsman:

    And I knew that and got there because there's a piece @ The Hill pointing out who he is and that he tweeted this afternoon that his former boss Jon Huntsman should resign "if you have any honor."

    So I suspect the retweet of the Chait piece is an endorsement of it.

    There's been a lot of talk suggesting people should resign. I disagree. They shouldn't resign but should speak out clearly, forcefully, and often about the president and his policies and make Trump fire them. When asked about it they should say as patriotic Americans they feel they should stay on as long as possible to protect the country.

    I know all about the danger of reading facial expressions from photo journalism. BUT STILL, take a look at this one, for chrissake:

    If that doesn't fill this "he's got something on Trump" narrative to a T, what would?

    I took the photo from this tweet fromThe Hill pointing to their Jeff Flake story. But the url for the photo is from PBS: that's all I honestly know about it. It's just so striking I thought I should share it.

    David Ignatius' column in WaPo this afternoon, "'Who do you believe?' a reporter asked Trump.  His answer was stunning" concludes:


    those last few minutes are all that many people will remember. As former national security adviser Tom Donilon put it: “The president of the United States was standing next to a foreign adversary rejecting the judgment of his own intelligence and law enforcement services. We’ve never had anything like this in American history.”

    What was reassuring Monday was that the U.S. intelligence official Trump had just undercut affirmed his oath of office, after his commander in chief equivocated. Coats issued a one-paragraph statement in the midafternoon. “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence.”

    Coats’s simple, stirring words were a reminder of how and why America endures.

    Yeah, not looking for resignations quite yet, aside from Trump.

    Trump cannot be allowed to appoint another Supreme Court Justice. Trump is a traitor. He cannot be allowed to select his jury.

    Democrats have to pressure Republicans to slow down the SCOTUS appointment. They won’t but it  ties them even tighter to Trump for future elections. Republicans who don’t reject Trump’s actions at the meeting help build a stronger case for electing Democrats.

    I was watching Madam Secretary season 4 on Netflix over the past week.  I know the show is formulaic and over the top sometimes, well, ok, more than sometimes.  I love it anyway.  Tea Leoni is just an awesome character.  She reminds me very much of my wife.  And I love the depiction of her husband (in real life as well), played by Tim Daly, who is a professor and CIA operative.  Far from feeling threatened by her successes he is her true partner.  They have their issues like any other couple.  But they work through them.  I imagine the Leoni character as having been inspired by someone's idea of what Samantha Power, perhaps, among any number of other talented, brilliant, creative, and courageous women might be like if they were Secretary of State.

    Anyway, season 4, episode 12, which I re-watched with my wife last night, is called "Sound and Fury".  In it, President Conrad Dalton so over-reacts to a situation involving the Russians as to create a serious risk of all-out war.  The title character, played by Leoni, is his trusted long-time friend and former colleague, and extremely capable Secretary of State, Elizabeth McCord.  Dalton's behavior is so radically out of character for him that those closest to him conclude that...well, I don't want to spoil the plot in case anyone wants to watch the episode.

    The fictional situation, in many key respects, isn't close to being on all fours with the current very real life predicament we face.  I read the episode as a Trump era PSA to help viewers begin to place themselves mentally and emotionally in the space where there emerges a serious need to consider ways to relieve a sitting president from his responsibilities to avert a possible national and/or global disaster.  

    One thing the show helped reinforce for me is the courage it takes for a president's closest advisors and his cabinet to seriously consider pursuing options available to them under the constitution in grave situations. 

    If, and only if, they are country-first patriots are they likely to absorb the full weight of what the moment demands of them.  If, and only if, they are true patriots is there any possibility that they are able to summon the fortitude to put country first, no matter what they end up deciding. 

    It seems to me it requires a type of courage not totally unlike that demonstrated by our founders, who risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for, in that case, their vision of what they hoped and wanted the colonies to become.  

    The television show cabinet demonstrated courage while our real life cabinet will demonstrate cowardice.

    I find myself able to imagine Secretary Mattis seriously entertaining a range of options.  As Secretary of Defense, given his role and his stature as one of the big four cabinet members, his actions might carry weight with other cabinet members.  Especially those who feel completely abused by Trump, and who privately do not respect or trust him.  Which might well be a majority of them.  

    I am more skeptical than you. I hope you are correct.

    I'm not making a prediction.  Just a concerned citizen, thinking out loud.  

    Understood. I think we keep looking for better behavior from Republicans and we never see it. I think they will simply focus on getting another SCOTUS appointment. They are no longer patriots.

    Kathleen Parker, "A Cancer lives among us" WaPo op ed last night:


    Where does this leave us? What might one deduce from the Helsinki summit? Either Trump is too thoroughly inept to continue as president, or his predatory nature, as demonstrated in his business — not to mention his boasting about aggression toward women — has led to his collecting rogues to enhance his own power. Or both. In any case, he has stepped over all lines of acceptable presidential behavior and presents a clear and present danger to the United States.

    When our chief executive, whose principal job is to defend both the Constitution and the nation against aggressors, stands alongside our chief geopolitical foe and betrays two of our most important institutions in the service of his own ego, he has dimmed the lights in the shining city on a hill and left the world a far darker place.

    It’s often said that America is great because America is good. My faith in the institutions and the individuals who conferred upon us a singular role in the history of humankind is yet unshaken. But a cancer lives among us, and the good people of this country must be precise in its excision. If Republicans don’t do it now, Democrats will probably sweep the ballots in November and do it then.

    History will note when, and by whose hand, America ceased to be great.

    I just really liked Parker's writing here, so appreciated being pointed to it. You forgot the link, here it is. It is an incredibly well-crafted op-ed. It does not fulfill hopes of Trumpies about lefties in that it is does not come off as smug, shrill, outraged or panicked, rather, it is very cool and ascerbic. But yeah, if elite is a dirty word, that her writing is here.

    Love this line in particular:

    Treason, frankly, sounds a little high-minded for such a reckless, clueless vaudevillian.

    She forgets the scenario where the Russians + GOP hack the elections again to hold onto power - a very real threat.

    To think, as we behold the linguistic alchemy that turns would to wouldn't, that we once felt ourselves shabbily done by "it depends on what the meaning of "is" is."...

    Who are we in this chemistry experiment?

    The subject.

    There it is.

    Geez, like the man said! It all depends on what the meaning of the word is is!

    if you are not part of the solution you qre part of the precipitate

    Treason is never high-minded.  It is possible, however, for high-minded people to describe, or consider, it as such; doing so at the country's peril.


    "The Daily 202: Russia imbroglio deepens the disconnect between Trump and his own administration", James Hohmann, WaPo, 8:52 this morning.

    THE BIG IDEA: President Trump found himself at odds on Wednesday with his own people who work at Foggy Bottom, Fort Meade, Langley, the Pentagon and the brutalist J. Edgar Hoover Building.



    -- During an interview that aired on the “CBS Evening News” a few hours later, Trump claimed that he pushed Putin hard on election interference in private before backing off and accepting his denials during the news conference. Asked if he holds Putin personally responsible for Russia’s election interference, the president replied: “Well, I would, because he's in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So, certainly, as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes.”

    Note Trump’s use of the word “would” in his response. He didn’t say, “I do hold him responsible.” Or, “I will hold him responsible.” The use of the word “would” conveys that Trump still refuses to admitRussia interfered, despite reading the statement on Tuesday saying that he accepts the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community.

    Asked by CBS whether he agrees with Coats’s assessment, Trump said: “Well, I’d accept it. I mean, he’s an expert. This is what he does. He’s been doing a very good job. I have tremendous faith in Daniel Coats. And ifhe says that, I would accept that. I will tell you, though, it better not be. It better not be.”

    At the risk of being repetitive, Coats has said it — repeatedly and publicly. For whatever reason, Trump does not sound like someone who accepts what he’s been told. Moreover, Trump has been hearing it for a long time in private.

    To wit, today’s New York Times reports that, two weeks before his inauguration, Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that Putin personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election. “The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation,” per David Sanger and Matthew Rosenberg. “Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.”

    -- This trio of tweets from sober-minded, retired intelligence professionals is truly remarkable:

    Michael Hayden retired in 2008 from the Air Force as a four-star general. He was National Security Agency director from 1999 to 2005. George W. Bush appointed him as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, a job he held from 2006 to 2009:

    Gen Michael Hayden✔@GenMhayden

    OMG. OMG. OMG.

    Bradley P. Moss✔@BradMossEsq

    This literally contradicts exactly what the Director of National Intelligence just said. Point blank. …

    12:36 PM - Jul 18, 2018

    Steven Hall retired from the CIA in 2015 after 30 years of running and overseeing intelligence operations, including as the chief of Russia operations. He mostly operated in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact:

    Steven L. [email protected]

    From a counterintelligence perspective, something is going on behind the scenes. Before Helsinki I was less sure; post Helsinki, I feel sick. …

    7:14 PM - Jul 18, 2018

    The Crisis Facing America

    The country can no longer afford to wait to ascertain why President Trump has subordinated himself to Putin—it must deal with the fact that he has.

    John Sipher retired in 2014 after a 28-year career in the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, which included serving in Moscow and running Russia operations:

    John Sipher✔@john_sipher

    Collusion is not such a big step when you think the real enemy is the other political party. Why not welcome help from anybody, including the Russians? It is about immediate gratification and works well (as long as you no principles whatsoever, and have no care for your country).


    "Let’s not forget that [Russian's meddling] didn’t happen under President Trump’s watch [but] under the Obama administration," Sanders said

    3:50 PM - Jul 18, 2018


    -- The military appears to be out of the loop. Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told reporters in Moscow yesterday that “important verbal agreements” were reached on a series of national security issues when the two leaders met one-on-one in Helsinki for more than two hours, joined only by translators. He mentioned the preservation of the New Start and INF arms control treaties and said Putin made “specific and interesting proposals” related to Syria.

    “But officials at the most senior levels across the U.S. military … had little to no information Wednesday,”Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan and Anton Troianovski report. “At the Pentagon, as press officers remained unable to answer media questions about how the summit might impact the military, the paucity of information exposed an awkward gap in internal administration communications. … Defense Secretary Jim Mattis did not attend Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting with Trump and has not appeared in public this week or commented on the summit. …

    “The uncertainty surrounding Moscow’s suggestion of some sort of new arrangement or proposal regarding Syria, in particular, was striking because Gen. Joseph Votel, who heads U.S. Central Command, is scheduled to brief reporters on Syria and other matters Thursday. … Nonmilitary officials who were provided minimal, indirect readouts expressed confidence that no agreement had been struck with Putin on Syria, and that Trump — who early this year expressed a desire to withdraw all U.S. troops from that country — made clear to Putin that no American departure was imminent.

    “Some military officials, accustomed a year and a half into the Trump administration to a decision-making process that is far less structured than it was under President Barack Obama, appeared unfazed by the lack of clarity. Unlike Obama, who oversaw a national security process that was famously meticulous and often slow, Trump has presided over a more fluid, less formally deliberative system. Few if any top-level national security meetings, for example, have been held this spring following the administration’s attack on Syrian military facilities in April … That shift … may provide top military officials less regular access to their commander in chief and fewer opportunities to influence the policy process.”


    Sanders says Trump was 'trying a new approach' on Russia

    White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump was trying to get along with Vladimir Putin because of the nuclear arsenal Russia controls.(Reuters)


    -- Perhaps the wildest moment of Wednesday came when Sanders said during her White House briefing that Trump has not ruled out a request from Putin to let Russian authorities interrogate Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia under Obama. “The president is going to meet with his team, and we'll let you know when we have an announcement on that,” she said. “There was some conversation about it, but there wasn't a commitment made on behalf of the United States. And the president will work with his team, and we'll let you know if there's an announcement on that front.”

    “Allowing the interrogation of a former American ambassador, who held diplomatic immunity while in Moscow, would be an unprecedented breach in protections traditionally provided to the nation’s foreign service,” Bloomberg News’s Toluse Olorunnipa notes. “In exchange for the opportunity to have McFaul and a number of other Americans questioned, the Russian president offered to let [Mueller] observe interrogations of 12 Russian intelligence agents indicted by a U.S. grand jury last week.”

    -- State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that letting a former diplomat be questioned “would be a grave concern to our former colleagues.” She added that “Russian assertions are absolutely absurd at this point” vis-a-vis the 11 U.S. citizens that Putin wants access to.

    -- Current and former U.S. diplomats expressed horror and disgust at the White House’s refusal to flatly rule out handing over McFaul, who has long been a bête noire of Putin. “One serving diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was ‘at a … loss’ over comments that can be expected to chill American diplomacy in hostile or authoritarian countries — a comment echoed by former State Department officials as well,” the Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman reports. “It’s beyond disgraceful,” the current U.S. diplomat said. “It’s fundamentally ignorant with regard to how we conduct diplomacy or what that means. It really puts in jeopardy the professional independence of diplomats anywhere in the world, if the consequence of their actions is going to be potentially being turned over to a foreign government.” (There are many similar reactions in the Social Media Speed Read below.)

    -- McFaul, a political-science professor at Stanford and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, said he hopes “the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin.”

    Michael McFaul✔@McFaul

    I hope the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin. Not doing so creates moral equivalency between a legitimacy US indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin

    Rob Urban✔@roburban

    The White House says Trump entertained Putin's proposal to let Russia question Michael @McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Moscow and @Billbrowder … via @bpolitics

    4:27 PM - Jul 18, 2018

    Considering sending an ambassador to be questioned in Russia is insane.

    Kavanaugh has to be opposed.

    And as you and others here surely know, not surprisingly just ahead of the 98-0 non-binding Senate vote today saying don't do that, the mindless mouth flipped again...

    Where Josh is just now, his Editor's blog this afternoon:

    As I mentioned on Tuesday, I was very skeptical that President Trump’s stunning performance at Monday’s press conference would lead to any great shift on Capitol Hill or among core Trump voters. I remain skeptical. In fact, we’ve seen evidence from the Hill tending to validate that skepticism. Some Sens and Reps are blaming Trump critics for the last four days. Many more are accepting at face value the President’s would/wouldn’t nonsense or simply saying there’s nothing they can do.

    But I think there is some difference, perhaps even a watershed.


    ......I think you can see a real shift. Over the last three days, I’ve seen a number of establishment figures, the people who always resist the outlandish explanations, who always stay basically conventional in their opinion and statements saying simply: Putin must have something on Trump.

    Sometimes it’s specific, some kind of corrupt alliance; other times it’s amorphous, some kind of inexplicable hold Putin has over Trump by force of personality. But the kind of people who never said this kind of thing are saying it now. Somehow the President is compromised. Putin has something on him, or he has tempted his avarice with something. But there’s simply no innocent explanation for what we’re seeing.

    That’s the shift. The Monday press conference made cautious, prominent people start to come to grips with the reality that Donald Trump, as crazy as it sounds and as difficult as it may be to believe, is under some kind of influence or control by a foreign adversary power, whether by fear or avarice or some other factor.

    As yet, there’s little difference of behavior from elected Republicans. And I don’t expect any. What veteran foreign policy or diplomatic hands say on CNN is not the most important thing. But I think they are indicators of a change, a change of perception I expect is occurring among many who can’t yet speak.


    As you know, the vast majority of Republicans have positive feelings about the Trump-Putin meeting. A significant number of our fellow citizens are simply gone.

    Edit to add:

    Nielsen  appeared at the Aspen conference and while discussing Charlottesville made the “both sides” argument

    (placed in wrong post)

    Yeah, agree - it's smaller than we'd hope, but still an uptake in conservatives seeing something irretrievably wrong. Those doubts will grow now they're uncaged.

    The argument I'm seeing most often in defense of Trump is that both sides do it i.e. the US also interferes in Russian elections. That is probably true. We can debate which country does it more often or the degree of the interference but the important point is how each nation and president deals with it. When Putin made allegations about interference in Russian elections he didn't ask Obama if it happened, accept his denial, and defend him in public against his own intelligence officials. Putin expelled NGO's he blamed for the interference and passed laws to inhibit their activity including possible jail time.

    Last night I saw a sarcastic tweet from some reporter along the lines of I suppose next we'll be hearing: thank god, it was a good thing what Putin did to try to help our country, otherwise Hillary might have crookedly become President and a White House reporter replied something like  well that's pretty much where the narrative seems to be headed.

    Good catch!

    From the time of the build-up to Clinton's impeachment, I will never forget a call-in from an ultra-conservative woman on C-Span's morning show--the callers were well vetted so they were usually "real" people types, not spinners or addicts to talk radio who knew all the catch phrases   She was simply beside herself, could hardly get the words out: that man! that man! that man! that horrible man!  he is so ruining our country, ruining our country, it's down the drain... It was like it was the end of the world. That's when I realized how passionate and how in the wilderness those types felt, before the Tea Party really got going.

    Josh makes a good point. The secrecy of the meeting makes the question of influence an open one by default.
    And now Trump is doubling down to have Putin visit Washington D.C.
    Russia is talking about getting started on agreements nobody knows about.
    Trump is withdrawing from others to protect his cognition of events.

    Well, to be fair, it's not like they didn't try to establish back channels that would have obviated this tedious need for frequent tete-a-tete's...Thwarted by those dratted kids, Boris and Natasha (sic) have to stay off the wires an' stuff.


    BTW, I'm pretty sure Putin speaks English.  Why don't they just dispense with those pesky snitches translators.

    It would have been amusing if Putin had spoken English in the press conference. He'd likely have been more articulate and on point than Trump in English.

    Trump's Fall: The End Game

    Robert Kuttner on The American Prospect

    AUGUST 22, 2018

    Trump's Fall: The End Game. It’s now clear that President Donald Trump cannot survive. Personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen’s blunt admission before a federal judge that candidate Trump directed him to commit an illegal act—paying and then covering up hush money—is just the beginning. 

    Cohen and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who both face long prison terms, are likely to cooperate with the special counsel and provide further damaging information in exchange for recommendations of leniency that will come at their sentencing.

    The revelations of Cohen and Manafort, both part of Trump’s inner circle, are plenty damaging. But they are just a warm-up for special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on even more explosive matters: likely fraudulent behavior in Trump’s business dealings, which could include tax evasion; his collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election; and his efforts to obstruct justice in undermining the special counsel.

    Much of this has been hidden in plain view. Mueller will simply provide many more of the gory details.

    For now, yesterday’s events have blown away Trump’s claim that Mueller’s investigation was a witch-hunt. Even Trump’s usual defenders have been half-hearted. By trying to retreat to what he takes to be the high ground—neither of these convictions demonstrated collusion with the Russians—Trump only sets himself up for a greater fall when the next round of detail comes.

    In a harmonic convergence, the next shoe is likely to drop just in time for the November elections, in which Democrats are already favored to win back the House, and the Senate looks increasingly possible. What ensues in the coming days and weeks will follow a predictable scenario.

    The alliance of convenience between Trump and House and Senate Republicans will begin to crack, as Republican leaders grasp the inevitability of Trump’s downfall. Some Republicans will conclude that Trump has to go, and that will further divide the party. Trump will become even more reckless and self-destructive.

    There is a famous exchange in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises:

    “How did you go bankrupt,” Bill asked.

    “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

    Political bankruptcies are like that. In the same way that bankrupt businesses keep juggling debt until one day nobody will advance them any more money, busted politicians find that the desertion of their allies can come with stunning abruptness.

    Trump’s final fall could occur in a matter of weeks, or it could slop over into 2019.

    I have been writing and saying for several months that Trump will not be the Republican nominee in 2020 because his presidency will end long before his scheduled term. Many of my colleagues, friends, and readers have skeptically indulged my naïve optimism. But that fate is now inevitable.

    The end game could unfold in one of two ways. Democrats could take back the House, begin an impeachment, pile up overwhelming evidence of impeachable offenses, and put intolerable political pressure on Republican senators to vote to convict.

    More likely, it seems to me, is that when the next round of Mueller’s findings of collusion with the Russians, longstanding business fraud, and obstruction of justice comes out, senior Republicans will decide that enough is enough and that it’s time to cut their losses.

    Leaders will broker a deal in which Trump resigns in exchange for himself and members of his family being spared criminal conviction. Trump will take the deal. In the same way that the Nixon end game came abruptly when Republicans concluded that they could no longer defend him, Trump’s will come abruptly, too.

    Looking back on the Republican affair with Trump, one appreciates the old saw that there is no honor among thieves. Trump ran for president as an anti-party figure, trashing Republicans one and all. Their expedient tolerance for his antics extended only as long as he was useful to them. Trump is no longer useful; he has become a liability, and there is little personal loyalty to him.

    This was the week when history finally began to turn. Future historians will wonder why it took so long.~ ROBERT KUTTNER

    Robert Kuttner believes the most likely candidates for the Anonymous NY Times op-ed Trump Admin official are CIA Director Coates and Kelly.  Based in part on the significant amount of national security-related content in the op-ed.

    Insightful short piece, "A Close-Run Thing", Robert Kuttner, today, Kuttner on TAP (The American Prospect)

    A Close-Run Thing. The Duke of Wellington, speaking to a colleague about his victory at Waterloo in 1815, which ended the Napoleonic wars, described it as a "the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life." Historians have simplified the remark as "a close-run thing."

    Watching what may or may not be a turning point in the Trump presidency this week, it occurs to me how often history is a close-run thing. Brett Kavanaugh may or may not go down, because of the almost random decision of Christine Blasey Ford to come forward and risk invasion of her privacy and public humiliation.

    Trump may or may not fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. That, in turn, may or may not prefigure the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which may or may not put some spine in a handful of Republicans and begin the march to an impeachment.

    Watergate, similarly, was a close-run thing, beginning with the random discovery by a security guard of some tape over the lock on a door to the DNC Headquarters that Nixon’s plumbers were attempting to burglarize. The 2016 election, with its Watergate echoes of the theft of Democratic emails, was about as closely run an election as it gets.

    History, we are reminded, is a blend of deep historical forces and random events, lucky or unlucky. In February 1933, when FDR was giving a speech in Miami, an anarchist got within several feet of the president-elect, fired several shots, and missed Roosevelt, hitting the mayor of Chicago instead. Had Giuseppe Zangara’s aim been true, and FDR’s vice president-elect "Cactus Jack" Garner assumed the presidency, the New Deal never would have happened. Conversely, if Lee Harvey Oswald had been a slightly worse marksman, JFK and the country would have been spared.

    The deep historical force in the Kavanaugh affair is that women have finally had enough of a male privilege that goes back to King David. Powerful men get to have their way with women. Overturning that privilege is the most revolutionary force of our time. The random event is that Kavanaugh, who was apparently a drunk as well as a brute in high school, got picked for the high court rather than some other far-right court nominee, who might have sailed through.

    Another deep historical force is the decades-long corruption of the Republican Party, to the point where Republican leaders are willing to make common cause with an aspiring dictator if that serves their ends. The random event is the question of which way Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins will vote. That, in turn, will depend largely on Dr. Ford’s credibility as a live witness: deep forces and random events.

    As for Trump’s presidency, it is a big dose of random bad luck for the American republic. But it is also the result of a decades-long pattern of leaders of both parties turning their back on America’s working people, who were sufficiently aggrieved that they resorted to a fake populist crackpot tyrant.

    Based on some random events, American democracy may yet be spared—or not. Either way, a close-run thing. ~ ROBERT KUTTNER

    My favorite graf in the piece:

    The deep historical force in the Kavanaugh affair is that women have finally had enough of a male privilege that goes back to King David. Powerful men get to have their way with women. Overturning that privilege is the most revolutionary force of our time. The random event is that Kavanaugh, who was apparently a drunk as well as a brute in high school, got picked for the high court rather than some other far-right court nominee, who might have sailed through.

    Hear, hear.  I've noted with interest who among long-time male acquaintances and friends is hemming and hawing on this issue, apparently trying to decide whether the old "boys will be boys" or "we all do dumb things when we're young" or "biology will always rule over ethics" or "but life will become boring" special pleas will continue to wash.  This is a moment, and how it goes tomorrow and in the aftermath can accelerate, or temporarily slow down, the pace of long overdue change in this area.   

    The Mueller (potential) "roadmap" mostly explained, by Rachel Maddow last night: (from 1:35 in, for about 11 minutes)

    Courtesy of Leon Jaworski in 1974 and the plaintiffs who won release of this document yesterday.

    will post as a news item 

    Jennifer Rubin, "Nice democracy you've got there", this morning at WaPo:

    Her last paragraph:

    What is not, in all likelihood, going to be possible is to impeach and remove Trump. The Senate will remain in GOP hands, making removal (requiring a two-thirds majority) almost inconceivable. Impeaching without removing Trump undoubtedly would fire up his cult and provide weird vindication. Better to investigate, embarrass and — after he leaves office — prosecute him for any crimes (e.g. obstruction of justice) taken in office.

    opinions as of now, and speculation...

    I don't believe it is necessary or advisable to foreswear an impeachment option at this point, or say anything at all about impeachment for that matter, just now.  Thorough investigation is what is called for.  Plenty of evidence already exists on the record that he has engaged in repeated obstruction of justice, for starters, justifying, on the merits, impeachment charges.  But a great deal that is also important is not yet known.

    The pace of deeply troubling actions by Trump continues unabated, even intensifying since Tuesday.  He is so unpredictable and unstable an individual that foreswearing an impeachment option, now, before the new Congress has been sworn in, and before we know what Trump will do before that happens, is unnecessary and, more importantly, irresponsible, I believe.

    Republican senators up in 2020 are presumably not all completely incapable of reading handwriting on the wall as (if?) the fog of uncertainties begins to lift.  Depending on how matters unfold over the coming months, the prospect of having a more widely discredited Trump wrapped around their necks may trigger some hard thinking among the Republican senators up for re-election in 2020 as to whether they want to stick with him, or not.

    If they decide it's against their re-election interests to continue to run interference for him, I can envision some GOP senators privately encouraging him to resign.  If Trump is still in office by then, some may contemplate publicly encouraging his resignation later in 2019.  In terms of GOP presidential chances in 2020, as of now I would think it would behoove them to either fish or cut bait with Trump no later than mid-to-fall of next year, so as to allow time for a hotly contested presidential nomination process to play out.  Otherwise they have to anticipate being stuck with him through the election.   

    It does not seem beyond the realm of possibility to me that Trump may tire of the fight, declare victory and resign ahead of the posse that will be relentlessly pursuing him for as long as he is in office. 

    He is reported to be depressed, now, at the looming prospect of his son going to jail.  His life is going to be an intensified version of tormented hell for as far down the road as he is capable of looking.  It is being reported that he is beginning now to understand some of the consequences of losing the House for himself.

    Various GOP wannabe kingmakers will be assessing whether--if Trump under any number of scenarios is not on the ballot in 2020--they believe Pence is a likely winner, or at least the most likely winner, or whether they are more likely to hold the White House with another nominee.  

    I think House Dems would be foolish to choose anyone other than Pelosi as the Speaker now.  Her experience is needed.  Now is not the time for a new Speaker learning the ropes of that job.  I would be slightly surprised if she does not step down as Speaker following the next Congress.  She may well be communicating such an intention to House Democratic caucus members, particularly to those who have publicly called for a new Speaker.  Doing so may also make her road to winning the Speakership come January less bumpy.   


    Tim Ryan of Ohio is one of the group wanting to replace Pelosi. He appeared on one of the MSNBC shows. Based on the optics, I’d choose Pelosi over Ryan. He does not project that he is a fighter. 

    Yes, the House needs a strong Speaker right now more than at most times in our history, someone who is not going to be pushed around, and who is also experienced and disciplined about not making many or serious errors.    

    Pelosi has been a great speaker. The only reason to replace her is the degree that she has been successfully demonized by the conservative media and become an election disadvantage. I'm not good at determining such things but it doesn't seem to me she has demonized enough that she can be used to sway swing voters. 

    Strong majorities want this Administration reined in.  Pelosi will be more in the public eye in coming months.  I believe many members of the public who have seen and heard the Fox caricature of her will, on actually seeing a bit more of her less filtered by her adversaries, find themselves pleasantly surprised. 

    Much of the heavy lifting will be done by a group of 4 or 5 key incoming Committee Chairs who are themselves impressive.  The diverse, highly competent nature of this group of House Democrats will present a stark contrast to the unhinged, whiny, incoherent, transparently hypocritical and hyper-partisan rantings of the Republican senators and House members we've seen far too much of in the recent past. 

    Republicans attack Pelosi because she is a very experienced and formidable opponent.

    Yes.  She is tough and effective.  She plays into the narrative the Republicans push of coastal, supposedly scary, ultra left- wing Democrats.  (remember Jeanne Kirkpatrick and those really, really scary San Francisco Democrats, who if elected would probably do horrendous things like ignore 9/11 warnings, lie us into catastrophic Middle East wars, and make a ruinous hash of both social and fiscal policy at the same time, way back in 1984?)  

    No matter who the Speaker is the opposition would do what oppositions are supposed to do, which is oppose.  For me as well it comes down to who is effective and is that person vigorously and unapologetically in support of the agenda of most of the party's caucus, which happens to include key policy items the country desperately needs?  Yes to both questions.   

    Surprised that Rubin thinks impeachment out of the realm of possibility with the new Senate. I have gotten the strong impression that only a very few GOP senators think Trump is an effective and good president and head of their party. They rest only pander or  are chicken and go along because his fan base votes were needed but they know that the fan base is merely built of demagoguery. So if Trump comes out of Mueller really stinking and retains only a fan base of loony tunes conspiracists, I would think most would gladly turn on a Trump sinking ship. It's kind of puzzling why she thinks that, actually. I think the majority of GOP Senators would secretly think just lke her op-eds, they've just made the decision to play along now. Think: Romney, how he approaches it. Or Lamar Alexander, he goes along but draws a line in the sand with Mueller I see it more like this: most are just waiting on Mueller to see if he can come up with enough to make them able to get rid of this pain-in-the-neck lying asshole wrecking their political party. Heck, think Sec. Mattis or Kelly for that matter....

    So far, even Republicans who criticize Trump vote in lockstep with the Donald. I see them confirming Whitaker in short order. They gained Senate seats under Trump.

    Looks like Whitaker’s formal company is under FBI investigation


    Yeah Maddow reported on that a few minutes ago.  Apparently he was very active with an outfit that was shut down by the FTC in account of massive fraud, including against veterans.  Whitaker's threatening EM to an individual complaining about the fraud was shown.

    Unclear what if anything Whitaker knew re the fraud.  He strongly denied knowledge of it.  Given his role with the company questions may be raised about how he could have been unaware of massive fraud and does it make sense that someone who on a best case scenario was clueless about what was going on around him should be running the US Department of Justice?

    A WSJ reporter who helped break the story said the ethics advisors at Justice have been asked their opinion on whether he should recuse himself from overseeing the FBI investigation of the company.

    We have come to expect utter incompetence out of this White House.  One would think that had there been any vetting of Whitaker, any at all, that discovery of Whitaker's role with this troubled company might have nixed any notions of leapfrogging him over Senate-confirmed officials to run the US Justice Department.  But that reflects pre-Trump norms for how these sorts of Cabinet-level appointments were handled.

    Meanwhile Florida now has two statewide races headed for full recounts and lawsuits initiated by both sides.  Also Bush-Gore 2000 blast from the past  out of County thugs descending on Broward Board of Elections officials simply trying to complete the initial count.

    Just another day in the life under today's Republican party troglodytes.


    Just some of the tweets I've run across on the Whitaker @ World Patent Marketing story, suffice it to say that it's gone pretty viral

    Matthew Whitaker received a subpoena in FTC investigation of Florida company in October 2017. He told the FTC he was too busy to respond because he was moving to Washington to become AG Sessions chief of staff.

    — Rosalind Helderman (@PostRoz) November 9, 2018

    In many ways, the patent-marketing scam Matthew Whitaker advised — which was shut down by the FTC last year — looks an *awful* lot like the Trump University scam

    — Catherine Rampell (@crampell) November 9, 2018

    Matt Whitaker was a paid consultant to a company that the FTC accused of fraud. Now he’s acting attorney general overseeing the FBI. Guess who’s investigating the company that previously employed him. Yep, you guessed it. Scoop w/ @markmaremont

    — JamesVGrimaldi (@JamesVGrimaldi) November 9, 2018

    You've gotta read this email via @TPM

    — Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) November 9, 2018

    Since when can recipients of @FTC subpoenas just say they are too busy to comply?
    Federal investigators scrutinized Whitaker’s role in patent company accused of fraud, according to people with knowledge of case

    — Stephen Calkins (@scalkins2) November 10, 2018

    I would have preferred if she had not weighed in fairly unequivocally on this question now when there is so much that is going to occur over the period of the next several weeks.  She initially came out for impeachment some months back.  Then she tempered her view on the advisability of going that route in favor of entertaining, at least, the thought that investigation and what it can yield short of impeachment could possibly be the preferable way to go.  

    She is publishing multiple pieces daily, responding to the very latest developments with her of-the-moment take.  Her own views seem to be rapidly evolving in response to events.  I'd like to think there are plausible scenarios where she might circle back, and turn her persuasive powers to advocating to identified GOP senators that coming out in support of impeachment might be their best option. 

    If and when a time comes when there is, say, a shift in public opinion in favor of impeachment or seeing Trump's approval ratings plummet dramatically, or calls for impeachment coming from some seemingly unlikely figures who have been holding back, it could happen very quickly.  Tipping points occur in politics as elsewhere, where something that seems unlikely or impossible suddenly becomes inevitable.  (Many thought Nixon would never, ever resign.)  There can be a fast and furious rush to get to the front of the newest line that suddenly becomes the rage.   

    Most congressional Democrats just now are not going to publicly call for impeachment (the situation now is so fluid, however, that anything one says on this matter can change in a heartbeat.) unless they have some indication that enough Senate Republicans are open to supporting impeachment to give such an effort a chance to succeed. 

    There could come a point, however, at which one individual Republican senator (or a small group if they go with the safety-in-numbers play) decides to step forward and become proactive.  That in turn could set off a mini-stampede of multiple Republican senators joining in.  What may turn out to be attractive enough about such a scenario to cause it to happen is the opportunity it would provide some Republican senators to throw Trump under the bus, help their own re-election chances, and attempt to turn this ugly page (and dead end) for the GOP very quickly, with one fell swoop.  A Republican senator making such a bold move might also do so with a plan to seek the GOP presidential nomination.  

    There would be much positive publicity and an opportunity to present oneself as a different kind of Republican showing leadership, courage, country-first patriotism, positive support for many deeply held American values, integrity, etc.   

    If you think that as a Republican senator up for re-election in 2020 that you are highly likely to lose by sticking with Trump you might conclude that flipping and taking a high road is your best shot.      

    I'm not predicting.  I'm just saying--a scenario of Trump removal that many dismiss as a pipe dream even now could happen very quickly.   

    Yes, what is out of the question today can become a sure thing tomorrow if Mueller comes up with clear evidence of a crime. I'm not predicting either but it's certainly withing the realm of possibility.

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