Well, It’s Been a Day, Hasn’t It

The working day started off with Boris Johnson’s proroguing of parliament called unconstitutional in an 11-0 decision by the UK’s Supreme Court, and finished off with Speaker Pelosi announcing a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump, because it appears he tried to blackmail a foreign power to go after his political opponent. Which is not great.

In between all of that, I ate nearly an entire loaf of banana bread all on my own. Because it was delicious.

What are my thoughts on today’s excitement? Leaving aside the banana bread, and in no particular order:

* First: good. Both of these awful men deserve the abject humiliation they’re getting heaped on them this day, and both for the same reason — because they want to rule, not lead, and don’t actually care much for the rule of law. I like the idea that the rule of law has risen up and, like the owner of a particularly pernicious yappy dog, given them a hard swat on the nose with a rolled-up paper, that paper in each case being their respective countries’ constitutions. I’m not going to get too excited yet. But on the other hand, if we ever do get to the point to where both of these embarrassments are out of office and possibly in jail, it’s nice we have a specific day to point to as the official Beginning of the End.

* It’s a worse day for Johnson than Trump, which is a genuinely remarkable statement when you realize what a bad day it was Trump. But while both men are now firmly on the hook, Trump at least has some play in his line, and I don’t see how Johnson does at all. Johnson was given one job by his masters: Effect Brexit before all of them have to account for their offshore tax shelters. He’s bungled that one rather definitively, and at this point it seems unlikely that the UK will exit the EU on Halloween, despite Johnson’s best efforts. Which means another extension, more defeats, so on and so forth.

Bear in mind, I’m talking out my ass here, since I’m not British and there are almost certainly nuances I’m missing, and also, it doesn’t seem Mr. Johnson’s political opponents are particularly well organized or offering a better plan. Johnson may yet pull something out of his ass that isn’t immediately slapped down by Parliament or the courts. But in his very brief tenure as Prime Minister, Johnson still hasn’t managed an actual victory, and getting one as regards Brexit (or getting his opponents to let him have an election before Halloween) doesn’t seem likely for him now. He is a historic failure in the job.

* Back here in the US, folks on the left have been riding Nancy Pelosi on the subject of impeachment basically since the moment she got the gavel back, and are exasperated that it’s taken her this long to start an inquiry. I certainly sympathize, since Trump is objectively a terrible president, incompetent as balls and also corrupt in a way we haven’t seen in the White House in most people’s lifetimes (yes, even worse than Nixon). But Pelosi isn’t stupid, and she knows a thing which people on the left sometimes forget, which is that impeachment isn’t actually popular with most Americans, and also, Republicans, while institutionally corrupt, are both not actually stupid, and also really good at winding up their base about how THEY ARE UNDER ATTACK FROM THE SOCIALIST FEMINIST PELOSI AND HER ALLIES IN THE FAKE NEWS. Pelosi also knows that no president that’s been impeached has been removed from office, and that when Clinton’s impeachment trial was done, he was more popular than when it started.

All of which is to say that I suspect Pelosi recognizes, more than most people, the political hazards of an impeachment inquiry. They are significant and they are substantial, and, bluntly, if the Democrats fuck it up, they hand Trump a gift going into an election year… and we all know what the capacity of Democrats to fuck up even sure things is. She also recognizes that the Senate is in Republican hands and that in these benighted days, the chances of them removing a Republican president, even one as manifestly corrupt and incompetent as Trump, are slim approaching none. So the only realistic victory scenario here is to have an impeachment inquiry come up with something that is so unambiguously corrupt and unlawful that when the Republicans in the Senate vote to keep Trump in the White House — and they will — they slit their own political throats in the process.

Which is, uhhhhh, a lot.

So while I’m delighted that Pelosi has finally pulled the trigger on an impeachment inquiry, I am from a purely realpolitik view sympathetic regarding her reluctance to do so before now. And even now it’s far from a slam dunk. Does it feel good right now? Sure! Because Trump is objectively terrible, incompetent and corrupt. But I think people on the left really should understand how narrow the victory lane is here, and what lengths Trump and the Republicans will go to in order to keep him where he is, and their own grip on power. None of this is going to go the way you hope it will.

* For all that, I would like to believe today represents the first break in the authoritarian bullshit fever that anglosphere politics seem to have suffered over the last few years. Again, I’m not going to get too excited, and even a best case scenario has things getting rather messier before the real cleanup can begin. But I’ll take the day for what it is and see where we go from here.

122 thoughts on “Well, It’s Been a Day, Hasn’t It

  1. This is actually the best-articulated defense of Pelosi’s caution that I’ve seen. As a flaming leftie myself, I often struggle to understand when the inaction of establishment Democrats is pragmatism, and when it’s genuine cowardice or incompatibility with my own beliefs. Thank you for giving me more to consider.

  2. ” impeachment isn’t actually popular with most Americans”

    I have to wonder how much of this sentiment is just because the last time around, cigars, semen stains, and blowjobs figured prominently and were unpleasant things to hear Cokie talking about in the morning news every day.

  3. Agree about the realpolitik view. Trump is someone who basically ran on the principle of being a hand grenade. We’ve pulled the pin.

  4. Impeaching Clinton wasn’t popular at the time, but House Republicans did it anyway.

    You’re right that it didn’t do much to Clinton’s legacy. But we got eight years of Bush afterwards. *And* not only the presidency–the House went majority R in the 2000 elections too.

    Something that Republicans understand that mainstream Democrats mostly don’t: controlling the narrative is, far, FAR more important than strictly doing whatever the people think they want.

    It’s true that the only way Trump is leaving office is either the 2020 election or if a splendid fit of childish pique causes him to resign. But put Republicans on the record. Benghazi the sh*t out of everyone connected to the Trump administration. Hold hearings. Subpoena out punctuated spurts of astounding, salacious corruption into the news cycle from now till Election Day. Stand for something. Show teeth. Not only is that the only way to deal with a bully in the short term, that is what seizing the narrative looks like for the longer haul.

    I really believe recent history suggests that it won’t harm the party’s 2020 chances–if anything, it’s likely to help.

  5. I agree that this bit of good news does not mean a sure and clear path to kicking the bum out of office. I feel like in some way that the Republicans are running some sort of con, and that in their usual M.O, they have altered the transcripts to reflect their “innocence” — with the aim of setting the Dems up for a big fall once said transcripts are released. The process by which U.S. democracy usually weeds out these sorts of criminals has been under threat for long enough now that I find it a challenge to trust it to do what it needs to do. Yet I also do feel that today could potentially be the beginning of the end, and so, I have some measure of faith.

  6. I’d love to be able to say today was the day the tide turned. We’re a long way from that, but it is the first time I’ve been optimistic enough to even think it.

    The best thing about the impeachment process is, if it gets to a Senate trial, the House is in charge of the prosecution. If you ignore a subpoena, the Sergeant of Arms shows up at your home and delivers you to the chamber. Will he be convicted? Almost certainly not – but there’s a chance he will have to testify, which would be amazing, and the Democrats can provide people with prosecutorial experience.

  7. If I had my way the House Democrats would be launching a new impeachment inquiry about a new person every week. Trump, Barr, McConnell, Kushner, DeVos, etc etc etc.

    Just get them panicking and ready to turn on each other.

  8. Gahh… the entire “but Clinton was more popular after impeachment” thing needs to die. Yes, he was, because it was blindingly obvious that he’d been impeached for trivial reasons that really didn’t meet the standards of impeachment and that the Republicans where being annoying jackasses motivated by an irrational hate of the Clintons rather than guarding the nation against a truly corrupt President.

    It also needs to die because it’s the worst kind of cherrypicking. The Clinton example is countered by the example of Richard M Nixon, a President who did commit acts that justified impeachment. Nixon was reasonably popular when the impeachment inquiry started and his popularity fell so far as the hearings proceeded that he resigned rather than face a trial which almost certainly would have resulted in his conviction.

    Guess which of those two examples is closer to the case against Trump?

    PS: You don’t impeach or not based on what the Senate will do. You impeach because there’s evidence that the President has committed acts that meet the standards for impeachment. If the Dems hadn’t done this, they’d be equally culpable. Now, at least, they will force the Republicans to take full responsibility for Trump and his actions if it comes to a trial and they refuse to convict contrary to clear and damning evidence.

  9. I’m not so sure that the “Impeachment Inquiry” is exactly what we think it is.

    I was suspicious all along that Pelosi was slow-rolling it, waiting until we get deeper into the election cycle before the shoe started dropping, and then making it last f.o.r.e.v.e.r. I still wonder if the committee that handles this will delay, delay, delay until late next spring when all of a sudden we’ll be seeing all kind of people making charges in front of the committee on the cable news stations.

    The upcoming elections fit into all of this, as does the fact that until it’s clear Trump has no chance at all at a second term, (if that ever occurs before Nov. 3 next year) the Senate will never vote to convict. Additionally, Democrats will be wary of pushing Trump out too quickly just to watch the new President Pence be elected.

    There’s a lot more to this than meets the eye.

    (And yes, I’m a leftie, I’d love to see the person who lives in the White House kicked out, but I also think I’m a realist.)

  10. Rick Gregory:

    “Gahh… the entire ‘but Clinton was more popular after impeachment’ thing needs to die.”

    You’re engaging in wishful thinking if you think it’s not possible that Trump will be more popular after. His polls are up right now, after a very bad week.

  11. An impeachment inquiry is a gift to Trump. And maybe to the Republicans. That’s because the only thing His Orangeness cares about is being in the spotlight. He’s obviously a believer in the idea that there is no such thing as bad publicity — not that he would call any publicity involving himself “bad”. Nothing delights Der Furor better than making himself the center of attention, and he will milk it for all it’s worth. Meanwhile, the Republicans quietly rejoice because this circus will divert the public’s attention from the issues they SHOULD be talking about in an election year: the economy, climate change, etc. But I long ago gave up wondering why the Democrats so dearly love to not only shoot themselves in the foot, but to accuse one another of doing the shooting.

    Summary: This will hand the White House to Trump in 2020.

  12. Loaves of banana bread aren’t usually very large. Just an observation.
    Thanks for the Pelosi defense/explanation. All I come up with is “IT’S NOT AS SIMPLE AS YOU THINK!” which doesn’t seem to work. .

  13. 1. The Democrats are right to move forward with impeachment — Trump must be held accountable, even if it is only by the house of representatives.

    2. The process cannot go too quickly – A speedy hearing/trial/vote will give the Republicans time to bounce back and change the narrative as they are so talented at doing. The Democrats have to control the narrative all the way through the election. I think Trump and his lawyers will fight every subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court, though, so that should slow things down.

    3. I cannot see anyone with Trump’s personality resigning from the presidency, nor can I see him accepting a pardon if he is forced out because he would have to admit that he was wrong. If the election is too close, he may not even accept the results of the election.

    4. If Trump is removed and Pence becomes president more than six months prior to the election, Pence will serve as a rallying point for the republican party and the democrats would have one heck of a fight on their hands not only to win the presidency but to hold the house or flip the Senate.

    5. In my opinion, the ideal scenario would be to have hearings that last until late winter, foot dragging by the Senate about whether they will even hold a hearing or trial, every Republican senator forced to go on record with a yay or nay vote which can be used by the Democratic Party to flip the Senate.

    I have no idea which of these scenarios will play out but the Republicans will have their talking points and the Democrats will have to do a much better job selling this then they have.

  14. We’ e got a bit of a start on you when it comes to these questions: the Case of Proclamations (1611) 12 Co Rep 74, cited in the unanimous judgement, was a bit before American jurisprudence got into its stride, but the core principle -that no one, not even the king in the early 17th century – is above the law, was echoed a few hours later by Nancy Pelosi. After all, the unanimous decision of the 11 Justices of the U.K. Supreme Court that they would strike down any attempt to abrogate the rule of law was something which Pelosi could seize upon to strengthen the case for applying similar standards to a possible impeachment.

    She would be a fool if she didn’t, but Nancy Pelosi is not a fool…

  15. > Meanwhile, the Republicans quietly rejoice because this circus will divert the public’s attention from the issues they SHOULD be talking about in an election year: the economy, climate change, etc.

    It should be about all that. But instead we have one side who is clearly willing to subvert the US’s sovereignty and cut deals with foreign powers to harm political opponents. This side would rather cancel elections and just be declared the winner rather than face rule of law. In short, one side does not act in good faith and openly favors personal power over the health of the country.

    If things were normal and both sides were acting in good faith, we could debate on the issues. As it is, if Democrats try to keep their heads down, be good little politicians, and act like everything is normal, the Republicans are going to walk away with the country, with or without an election. They simply aren’t playing the same game as the Democrats.

    I for one am not content to discuss the economy with a criminal and those who abet him.

  16. John – No, I’m not. I’m objecting to the poor logic of saying that because Clinton was more popular, Trump might be so we shouldn’t impeach him.

    It not only ignores the differences between the two (and their eras), it ignores the counter example of Nixon. His polls were fine at the start of the inquiry, too. About 50% IIRC. They were around 20% at the end of the inquiry and it’s that decline that matters. Trump’s polling today is utterly irrelevant. What matters is how the perception of him evolves during the course of the inquiry, especially among those who aren’t diehard Trump-bots. Those people will never abandon him, just as Nixon had 1/5 of the country even after months of damning testimony.

  17. Pelosi had no choice. This was total rebellion and demand of the rank and file, and not only ‘the Squad.’

    Whether or not they succeed in impeaching, as long as they do the job lawfully and with due diligence, this is a success, because, as one Dem Congressman stated a couple of days ago, “If we don’t impeach the message is that from now on whoever is in the office of the president can do anything they want for 4 years without consequence and repercussion.”

    Also, the constant drip of his criminal activities, including those from before the election, that prove him unfit to hold even a job at MacDonalds, need to be listed and published every day in whatever media they can be (and believe it — the media holds a lot of responsibility for this current situation).

    To say we shouldn’t because we might lose and they will get mad — they are already so mad they are killing us and plan to kill a lot more. So. We have nothing to lose anyway, and there may well be a whole lot to win.

    Or, maybe in other words, even the rethugs may be ready to cut him loose. They’ve got their massive tax cut.

  18. It’s not like Trump won’t claim it an exoneration if there wasn’t an impeachment. “Even the corrupt Democrat party, try as they might, couldn’t find anything! Total exoneration!”

    True, nothing is going to happen in the Senate. And I do mean nothing. McConnell will schedule the impeachment trial right after they vote on the Garland nomination. The point is to do the right thing. If democracy dies anyway, at least we tried.

  19. Also, apparently a certain aging tenor will not be performing at the Met. Apparently 20 different allegations turned out to be enough after all.

  20. I’m willing to say that I have no idea whether the Dems win or lose in the impeachment battle. All we can do is wait and see.

    Having said that, I think attempting to impeach Trump is the morally correct thing to do. Forcing the Republican legislators to vote on the record about whether his actions were lawful is about the only way I can think of to put them on the record. I just wrote a letter yesterday to Rob Portman (our shared Senator, John) saying just that. Either the Senate votes to affirm Trump’s view of himself as being above all laws, or they vote to convict.

    And if they vote in favor of Trump now, I suspect that nothing we could have done or said in the absence of an impeachment trial could prevent the slide of this country into authoritarianism and decay.

    In other words, either this works, or we were already fucked anyway.

    For proof of this, look no further than his arguments about his alleged immunity from investigation (https://www.salon.com/2019/09/21/trumps-new-argument-hes-immune-from-all-criminal-investigation-in-new-tax-return-lawsuit/), and his treatment of Greta Thunberg.

  21. And if you have been following the take of baritenor/serial harasser Placido Domingo, today was the day he dropped out of his current engagement at the Metropolitan Opera and said that he had no plans to return.

  22. not even the king in the early 17th century

    I’m thinking the mid-17th century here – 31 January 1649 to be exact. Good riddance to bad rubbish that was.

    I hope that people don’t have to be beheaded this time, but lo-o-ng prison terms for the Orange One and his followers seem appropriate.

  23. 13 months before the next presidential election, and now the Democrats want to begin impeachment proceedings? Good luck selling that to the American public, a majority of which does not want impeachment.

    The Democrats also wish to impeach on the basis of information (transcripts and the related whistle blower complaint) that they technically have not seen, but which the Trump White House says it will release as soon as tomorrow? This is where the presidential chain saw meets the proverbial branch.

    Rage is not a strategy, Democrats. Nor is it an effective basis upon which to govern.

  24. It’s not just the Anglosphere, don’t forget Brazil and the Philippines.

    (I already made that mistake when urging caution on the revelers.)

  25. @Patricia M — I think Captain Combover is sufficiently out of touch with reality that if he were forced out of office, he would spin a pardon as “oh, you were totally innocent, let me void that for you”. I’m pretty sure that when he pardoned Arpeio (sp? the bigot sheriff in the southwest) someone brought up the whole “accepting pardon means accepting you were guilty” and he refused to believe that was the case.
    OTOH, if this gets anywhere near an actual vote to impeach it wouldn’t surprise me in the least for Trump to throw a temper tantrum, declare martial law, and order all the major Democrats (and any Republicans supporting impeachment) arrested. At which case I devoutly hope the Joint Chiefs of Staff has more respect for the Constitution that he’s ever shown.

  26. I was going to say a thing, but Megan O already said the thing I was going to say. So I’ll just say, glad you got some genuine enjoyment out of that banana bread, because banana bread has never really worked out for me.

  27. If the Democrats actually have the goods this time, they’ll win. But, if they take too long getting this done or, they don’t actually have the goods, they’ll lose. It’s a high risk strategy with very little room for error.

  28. It wasn’t just that Nixon was popular — impeachment, specifically, was not popular when the House formally opened impeachment investigations. If I’m remembering correctly, it was less popular than impeachment is now.

    The investigations and hearings changed that.

    The Dems did have majorities in the House and Senate, but not enough to impeach on their own. But the GOP had somewhat more in the way of principles back then.

    Still, I’ve been hoping that Pelosi hasn’t been serious when she said she didn’t want to impeach because the will of the people wasn’t there (that’s what the process is for, to inform the people), but because she wanted to visibly, clearly be seen as doing it reluctantly, not jumping into the fray at the first opportunity.

  29. Based on the stuff he’s already known/credibly alleged to have done, it leaves me gobsmacked that Dolt 45 hasn’t been dragged out of the White House and air-dropped onto some atoll in the Pacific at the hands of a mega-mob by now.

    The portion of the electorate who votes D in 2020 will be blameless. The ~30% who still support him and always will can only have suffered catastrophic brain damage at some stage of life, so they’re excused due to diminished mental capacity. They won’t bear any responsibility.

    But if the impeachment process ends up 1) generating sympathy among voters who wouldn’t have opted for him if there hadn’t been impeachment proceedings, 2) making middle-moderate voters sit it out because they’re “sick of the nastiness” or some such shit, or 3) makes third-party voters even more determined to vote their “consciences”, and the total of those three cohorts is sufficiently large to deny the D candidate the win, then the US will richly deserve another four years of the brutal, imbecilic tangerine jackass.

  30. Sadly, after all the fun of the UK court decision and Pelosi giving in and admitting she had to impeach Trump, we also lost Robert Hunter today, lyricist for much of the Grateful Dead’s work, mostly with Jerry Garcia, but also with Phil, Bobby, Mickey, Pigpen, Bruce Hornsby, Dylan, Elvis Costello, and his own solo work and poetry.

    I also liked John Perry Barlow’s work, but it was usually Hunter’s that really grabbed me.
    I only remember seeing Hunter once, opening for Phil and Friends (I think? or maybe Ratdog?) at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, an outdoor amphitheater, in the late 90s or maybe early 00s.

  31. As a citizen of the commonwealth (Canadian, so British, once-removed), I find it interesting that the institutions of the UK, without the so-called checks-and-balances that are hallmark of the US constitution, and in fact without any formal constitution as Americans might recognize, has been able to hand Boris Johnson his ass on multiple occasions in his sort term as Prime Minister. For all the cock up that is Brexit, it is somewhat heartening that no one there has mistaken Boris for the harlequin that he is, and that there is robust resistance to autocrats in the UK, arguably more than in the US.

    The events of today, with the start of impeachment proceedings maybe is the start of similar stirrings in the US. I do acknowledge that the road ahead is long and strewn with obstacles put in the way by those that would put party over country. In the end, though, I would hope that there will be a strengthening of the institutions in the US that would be able to more quickly react to administrations that would try to walk a similar path as Trump has.

  32. It’s not about “victory scenarios.” It is about doing their fucking jobs. (And before I go further, second to everything Foxesssa said.)

    If you calculate you cannot win a prosecution against a lynch mob in the Jim Crow days, then I guess you just don’t bring the case. There’s no value and some personal potential risk, right?

    I know you threw in a bunch of qualifiers here to cover your butt, but damn, this is a bad look. We all know the political dangers of impeaching a President, but we also realize the actual dangers of NOT impeaching a President who acts like this. You are not telling us anything we didn’t already know; you’re just reserving the right to say “I told you so” later anytime something goes badly–which we already know will happen. We just don’t know how badly. Impeachment is basically ipso facto a Constitutional crisis; we don’t need Yoda to instruct us on that “nuance.”

    The form this case took might make Biden a bad fit for 2020. Frankly he was already a bad fit for 2020. We have go lots more candidates; they only have one unless they finally ditch him over this (which they won’t.) And Pelosi pulled the trigger today because she was told to pull the trigger by her own caucus; this is not the culmination of her genius maneuvers nor is it a leftist coup. It’s a Party finally facing up to reality.

  33. It is pretty to think that any of this will amount to anything transformative, but I doubt very seriously that this will be the case. I think that if anything, this will enrage people who are already opposed to Trump’s presidency. His supporters, however, most especially the ones who believe that he will reestablish the ever-shrinking white majority, starve out the poor, the old, and the disabled, and keep the coins in the hands of the 1 percent, Will likely be galvanized into action and deeply in awe of his ruthlessness;see Pedro’s remarks above.

    Anyone still in support of a president who would imprison families who are in flight from oppression, risk the devaluation of our currency, tongue kiss Nazi’s and foreign enemies, and endanger our military so that he can keep brown people out of the country should not be trusted to do or support congress in doing the “moral” thing.

    They dismiss as “fake news” any and all reports that his pissing contests are bankrupting the country, his policies (and they aren’t so much policies as they are pandering efforts) are killing people, and his “allies” (they certainly aren’t America’s allies) are autocrats bent on dismantling everything we stand for.

  34. Not sure at all if I’d call it unlikely that the UK will exit the EU on Halloween.

    If I’ve understood it correctly (non-brit here too, from across the other pond), the UK is on rails to exit on the 31st one way or another. If nobody does anything, Brexit will happen. The point of proroguing Parliament seemed to be to stop them doing anything. The EU have had enough of their drama and want it over with. They don’t seem all that inclined to postpone things any longer unless the UK can make a good case for doing so, which Boris Johnson has said he wouldn’t.

    So the only thing that’ll actually stop Brexit is for the UK to get its shit together. Their track record on that so far is, well, um. So to me it seems likely to still happen if only through sheer incompetence.

    But I’d love to be surprised. I have friends there.

  35. US citizen living in the UK here. EU will grant another extension for a good reason. (It would probably be to the end of January, from what I have read). An example of a good reason would be the UK having to go to a general election to resolve the current mess. If an election is called there would be at least six weeks between the calling and the voting so that the parties can campaign.

  36. Lots of people forget that a no-deal Brexit isn’t only up to Boris. He has to ASK for another extension and it’s far from sure that the EU leaders will unanimously grant it. And I call starting up an impeachment procedure that will consume a lots of money and legislator’s time KNOWING that it will go nowhere – stupid. And they better make sure that Biden and/or his son don’t have butter on their head.

  37. ” Republicans, while institutionally corrupt, are both not actually stupid, and also really good at winding up their base”
    But so what? The base is constantly wound up these days. Thanks to their pre-existing biases and a steady stream of propaganda from the right-wing media they live in a fantasy where not supporting mandatory gay marriage means they’re at risk for being thrown in the sharia gulag the atheist Muslim Satanic pedophile conspiracy is preparing for virtuous, patriotic Christians such as themselves.
    The base are fanatically committed to Trump already. He already has their votes. The Democrats lose nothing by angering them.
    And we lose nothing by angering Trump
    Sarah Stegell: ” Nothing delights Der Furor better than making himself the center of attention, and he will milk it for all it’s worth. Meanwhile, the Republicans quietly rejoice because this circus will divert the public’s attention from the issues they SHOULD be talking about in an election year: the economy, climate change, etc.”
    Maybe, maybe not. Trump Is Corrupt may not prove effective, but talking about issues may not either. Plus, Dems can tackle both (Warren seems to do it well).
    And yes, Trump will love being the center of attention in a big battle, but that’s not the same thing as guaranteeing it’ll benefit him or win over swing voters. Trump undoubtedly thinks it does because he doesn’t really think he can lose.
    And it may work well for Dems in that his tiny brain will be much more focused on Impeachment! Witch hunt! than building the wall or nuking hurricanes or whatever else his tiny brain might seize on as a good idea.
    As others have said, too, it’s not just about politics, it’s about doing the right thing. If Trump isn’t worth impeaching, nobody is (except Dems — I remember reading they were working on it for Clinton if the election had swung the other way).

  38. While I don’t think the Republicans in the Senate will vote to impeach, I still think this was necessary to do otherwise you might as well just rip up the Constitution. The Congress has a duty to hold the President accountable for his actions. Let the Republicans go on record as not voting for impeachment. History will not look kindly on them No one is above the law. This administration is the most corrupt I’ve seen in my lifetime and I remember Watergate. At this point, he makes Nixon look like a saint.

  39. I like to point out one salient fact about all of this: the person who made the whistleblower complaint wasn’t even in the same room when this phone call was being made.

    So for those of you who about to cream their shorts over the impeachment of Trump, it will not ultimately happen. It will fizzle and the Democrats will become the 90’s version of the Republicans when they tried to impeach Clinton for having extramarital sex.

  40. The good news is that if the Senate ever does vote on impeachment, it will only take a few GOP votes to convict – and Trump has made enemies in his own party there. Think ‘Romney’. And incidentally Mitt would be in position to challenge Pence for the 2020 nomination.

  41. The best summary I have seen so far is that without the judgement of our Supreme Court we would have no defence against a Prime Minister acting like Trump but without the checks and balances built into the US constitution. A dictatorship, in fact.

    We now have the farce of Johnson claiming simultaneously that the now non-existent prorogation had nothing to do with Brexit but is going to mess up his Brexit negotiations. Yes; he really is that indifferent to the concept of facts…

  42. LOL! Yeah, because being fellated by a woman who is not your wife is A serious threat to national security and is indicative of a flagrant disrespect for this nation’s founding principles and documents.
    False equivalences are yummy!

  43. There’s an odd wrinkle here.

    The US contitution is a (preserved) document. The British is an unwritten contitution – it consist of the totality of British law. Consequently there is no single document setting out basic protections .

    This system is more adaptable and veratile – but the drawback is that we in the UK live under an elective dictatorship – if Parliment wants to change to the law that the Supreme Court say they have broken this is theoretically (if not poiticaly) possible.

    In the end, the problem isn’t our respective constitutional arrangements but the rise to power of populists who are quite prepared to ignore them, and appoint officials who are also prepared to do so.

    It’s the culture shared by the people in power, and the fact that political parties seem no longer fit for purpose that has put both of us in it up to our necks.

  44. John, you specifically raise political outcomes as a factor when it comes to impeachment proceedings, but the only thing you point to are transient popularity polls following the impeachment and trial. The *political* outcome of the Clinton impeachment was to sideline a popular president from campaigning on behalf of the Democratic candidate allowing the GOP to use a Supreme Court majority to secure the presidency in an election that would probably not have otherwise been close enough to allow the Court to appoint a president. In addition, the GOP held the Senate and regained the House in that election.

    *That* is the indisputable, factual political outcome of Clinton’s impeachment because that is what actually happened. We get enough gaslighting, a standard authoritarian tactic, from the GOP. I’m tired of being gaslighted by Democratic leadership as well.

    From there we can discuss which example we should use for anyone interested. And as others have pointed out, both Nixon and Johnson are more relevant to the present day situation than Clinton. But in truth, neither of those fully apply.

    All the authoritarian forces from our past have converged and strengthened to unprecedented levels. And they have found common ground and fuel among global authoritarian states which share interests with transnational criminal organizations on a scale the world has not seen before. We are in the midst of an authoritarian crisis and stand to lose the remnants of our democracy entirely. We need to listen to the scholars and activists that have studied and resisted authoritarian regimes around the world. And as far as I can tell, they have spoken with one voice that it’s critical to act quickly, even symbolic action matters since authoritarians rely in many ways on their “brand”, but every day allows them to further consolidate power, stack and corrupt the judiciary, and take all the actions we have watched the GOP regime take while Democrats dithered ineffectually.

    Will they screw this up too? Probably. I found Pelosi’s announcement more in line with the sort of confusing and unclear process designed to hide the truth rather than reveal it. We’ll see what happens, but it sounded like exactly the sort of process most designed to benefit Trump and the GOP than make any real progress.

    The power the House still has, at least for a brief window, is the power of the public stage. They need to hold public hearings over and over with the full force of a consolidated impeachment inquiry to make plain the abuse and corruption to the American people of all parties. The GOP is good at using the public stage, even when there is absolutely nothing there (Benghazi anyone). The Democratic leadership can’t seem to employ it to highlight, document, and expose very real corruption, human rights abuses, rampant illegal actions, abuse of power, obstruction of Congress, and all the rest. I agree with the frustration expressed by AOC. They are doing such a poor job they look complicit. They can and must attack and destroy the image of the authoritarian. They must use their power of inherent contempt to uphold the rule of law. And they may have already waited too long to act. The window of opportunity when an authoritarian regime is consolidating power is not a large one.

  45. Oops. It’s early and 2000 was a long time ago for my 54 year old brain. The GOP already held both the House and Senate going into the 2000 election and they retained control of both bodies following the election. They gained the presidency and retained control of Congress. *That* was the political outcome of impeaching Clinton.

  46. Scott:
    That is an excellent and frightening post. Here’s hoping the people who are in a position to effect some change heed the warning.

  47. @scott m

    The GOP lost four senate seats in 2000, taking the body into a tie (which oddly meant that the Dems held the senate for the first three weeks of January, with the tie breaking vote cast by Al Gore — and they got it back in less than a year when Jeffords switched ). They lost two seats in the house but held onto a majority of about eleven. They lost the popular vote in the Presidential campaign.

  48. So, you CONFESS to your bias! Eating the whole loaf!

    And lets be clear about the effects of investigations and impeachments and such. Endless investigations into hillary hurt hillary because moderates and progressives start doubting and start thinking, ‘well if they keep investigating, maybe where theres smoke theres fire”. Conservatives are loyal first, moral a distant fifth or sixth. Trump could shoot someone on film and conservatives would be saying that someone had it coming, it was self defemse, whatever.

    Idiots are absolutly certain in their flat earth nonsense, their racism, their selfishness, their greed. The more educated someone is the less certainty they tend to have.

    Hell, trump said “grab em by the p***y” on film and right wingers rush to display party loyalty.

    The only way impeaching trump will do any good is if dems relentlessly dig for the dirt now, and keep producing dirt until the election. They need to learn to disappear unless they are reporting on dirt they found. The problem is they tend to make a lot of noise even when nothing is happrning and it ends up annoying people.

    Dont do press conferences about procedural crap. Dont do interviews about some committe motion. Unless you get a smoking gun, shut the fuck up. And thats where dems repeatedly dall down. They cant shut the fuck up. Pelosi will probably spend the next year telling everyone who has a microphone how reluctant she was to go for impeachment, undercutting the whole process. Keep it out of the news unless youve got damning evidence to show the public. But dems will get so fucking full of themselves now that they will be unable to shut up and yammer on with nothing to show for it.

    Get the dirt. Report the dirt.
    Otherwise shut up.

  49. Dana:
    Getting the votes to convict in the Senate is a very tall order. If every Democratic and Independent Senator votes to convict, that’s 47 votes. They still need 20 (of the 53) Republican votes to take it over the line. There’s a lot that would have to happen politically for that to happen.

  50. Nigella’s banana bread has only 125g butter in it … https://www.nigella.com/recipes/banana-bread (Fifteen pounds is an *enormous* amount of butter!) Getting back on topic, yes, yesterday was very interesting …. I liked how the UK Supreme Court carefully referred back to 1611, when prerogative started to be a serious issue – some 30 years later we had our own Civil War, and in 1649 Charles II was executed …

  51. It took the U.S. 81 years to first impeach a president, then another 131 to do it a second time (Nixon was never actually impeached) Now it is a mere 20 years later. Are we getting more litigious or have presidents become more bold in their corruption. Being a nominal republican (though more of a moderate than a reactionary) I think it is both. Johnson was impeached on mainly political grounds (of course impeachment is a political act) and Clinton on more jealous grounds, but it really does seem that Trump has possibly committed High Crimes and Misdemeanors. I, for one, am glad to see the investigations begin whether or not they actually lead to articles of impeachment.

  52. “authoritarian bullshit fever that anglosphere politics seem to have suffered over the last few years. ”

    Marine Lapin, Viktor Orban, Jair Bolsonaro, and Andrzej Duda argue otherwise. It isn’t anglosphere.

  53. Not sure the day was that bad for the bozos…

    To the contrary, they seem to be already looking at the ways they can benefit from it.

    The US president has been far too eager to release those classified documents, after barely the required level of resistance. He knows there is not enough in this call transcripts to convince the Republican to abandon him – and the Dems will be even more cautious to start on this path the next time even if something more juicy comes up. Strange bet from Pelosi to trigger the proceedings solely on the strength of a few boasting tweets, without the backing of the official documents. We face the risk that this Prez will feel his presidency, his attitude towards dissent and his disregard of proper segregation of duties as vindicated.

    Let’s hope there is indeed enough juice in those few tweets…

  54. The transcript of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskyy is now available for your reading pleasure.

    And it does not contain any recipes for banana bread.

  55. I’m with @Foxessa. I think some sane R’s are looking at this as an opportunity to cut party ties with Trump with the least-amount of blowback (now that they have their tax cut and conservative judges). Perhaps they finally realize they uncorked the genie they can’t control, and they’re grasping at this as the opportunity to shove the cork in the oil lamp, as it were. After all, it seems like Mitch’s acquiescence to the D resolution to have the whistleblower testimony is some indication that there’s an impetus to let Trump flap in the wind … We’ll see – but it wouldn’t totally surprise me if enough R’s in the senate voted to impeach. Of course, that could just be wishful thinking (speaking of genies).

  56. As I scan the fruited plains for authoritarianism, I fail to see it from the bozos mentioned. Yes, Trump is an excrement show only Trump’s lack of skill, morality and committed beliefs can produce. Trump would like to be authoritarian but the system we have has blocked him. He could not even get a wall built. For authoritarianism, I look to the left. The group who wants to tell me what toilet I can use, when I can water my grass, what light bulb I can buy, how large my soda cup can be, what health care I must have and on and on. That is authoritarian. I look to the left to see threats to my freedom. It is the left that threatens the Constitutional defense of freedom, the Bill of Rights. The left has not threatened to quarter troops in my home, but other than that, we have a pretty clean sweep. The left wants to control my language, limit my religious freedoms, confiscate my arms, bypass due process with red flag laws and on to the 10th that has been dead since FDR. I wish Trump had never been elected, the damage he has done to the GOP, conservatism and the integrity of those who support him fully has been tragic. But for authoritarianism, I look to the left.

  57. Just finished reading the transcript. If the whistle blower complaint is based on the transcript and, that’s all the Democrats have, then the Democrats have just shot themselves in the foot. There is no there, there.

  58. The guy works two sets of signals: blatant nastiness and bullying; and winks-and-nods and deniable ambiguities. Lots of “people are saying” and “we need to look into this,” both of which dodge direct assertion. And when he does unambiguously assert, it’s often salesman-talk boasting, as in this morning’s catalog of all the best-ever stuff–best economy ever, best employment figures ever, way ahead of China and they’ll never catch up.

    The Trump base buys all of this, even in the presence of evidence to the contrary, precisely because his fuzziness and imprecision has so much wiggle room built in: “He didn’t actually *say* X, he said *maybe* X or that he heard X.” And that’s before we factor in the shameless rules-lawyering, edge-case exploitation, and brute-force defying of written and unwritten protocols that make up his administration’s playbook.

    Between the complete dedication of the base and the opportunism of Trump’s political allies (especially in the Senate, but eventually in the courts), it’s clear that there’s no easy and clean way to stop him. Certainly impeachment is the opposite of a sure thing, no matter how strong the case might be. (And that wiggle-room stuff provides cover for the merely cynical who back him.)

  59. Re Kevin M. Bailey – “Dana: Getting the votes to convict in the Senate is a very tall order…”

    I suspect that if just -one- GOP Senator breaks ranks with ‘Moscow Mitch’, a bunch will follow. Romney is the most obvious candidate, given how Trump has mocked him in the past. But actual dislike of Trump is far wider. At best he is tolerated.

  60. Holy ****!

    I’m on holiday and I’m shocked that I had to find the absolutely thrilling news that Johnson is F***ed from Whatever, which I thought was taking a hiatus from the news.

    But I’m doing a happy dance!

  61. Rodney: “left wants to control my language”

    Look, you can keep saying the n-word like you always have, its just that now other people can call you a racist for it.

    “Limit my religious freedoms”

    You can continue to pray to whoever you want, but if you own a commercial store front, you have to serve everyone equally. Hiding bigotry behind god is no longer acceptable.

    “confiscate my arms”

    I.e. how will I survive without rambos m60 belt fed machine gun!??!?!? Oh the left is sooop unreasonable.

    “bypass due process with red flag laws”

    I.e. look, just because a guy threatens to kill his wife who just filed for divorce, thats no reason to take his guns away, even for a day. The state must have a conviction or the man must remain fully armed. It is only reasonable. What if he is attacked by 30 to 50 feral hogs the day the cops take his guns away? Didcha ever think of that? No one ever thinks of the feral hogs.

  62. Yeah, but he’ll still get re-elected.

    He’s an indelible stain on the US, but 42%+ of the country doesn’t care and are totally immune to facts (see above – the memo of the meeting is out, he quid pro quos antitank missiles, and several people are already refusing to accept what he threatened was wrong). If his polling hasn’t dropped yet, it never will. Impeachment is morally the right thing to do, but zero Rs in the Senate will vote for it (lol to the above posters thinking Romney is anything other than a total invertebrate. Remember the picture when he was begging for the SoS job and went to dinner with Trump as a supplicant? High moral character there. He may be deeply concerned, and he may even furrow his brow, but he’ll do jack shit). The only thing the Rs care about is clinging to power, looting and polluting the country, and keeping us in endless wars.

  63. Aaaaand enter the conservative kvetching about how the poor, put upon, financially secure CIS SWMS and their “natural,” “normal” womenfolk are being oppressed by the left.
    Your attempt to characterize social Darwinists, misogynists, nationalists, and religious fundamentalists as protectors of freedom is stunning in its stupidity and disingenuousness. I could be charitable and say that you are naïve, but I am not feeling particularly charitable at the moment.
    It is pretty to think that your president is reviled simply because he wants women barefoot and pregnant, brown people in their places, God back in the schools, and poor people dead (he’s a conservative republican, so that’s nothing new), but the fact is that he poses a threat to Americans everywhere on the political spectrum.

  64. I like to point out one salient fact about all of this:

    Given that the whistleblower is basing their complaint on not just one phone call, but on multiple occasions and instances, I think your “fact” is not really a fact.

  65. Ah, but Greg, don’t you know that a man’s home is his castle, and that womenfolk who defy God’s chosen leaders of the world are sinners?

    The good book says the man is the head of the woman, and that the wage of sin is death. Thus, godless liberal gun laws are nothing but an attempt to undermine male authority and protect the daughters of Eve from their moral and biological superiors.
    And the bible says*those* people have the mark of Cane, and so it is only right that God fearing folks treat them accordingly.
    And God will never, ever allow the dire consequences of global warming or climate change. All those natural disasters are just the Lord showing feminists, gays, and nonbelievers his might and mercy.

  66. I am no friend of Trump. I think he is arguably the most toxic and dangerous President the US has ever had, including both Nixon and Bush 43, and arguably the least competent, including grant. I would be very happy to see him removed from office.

    But I fear that this may be a tactical error in a political conflict. Many of those supporting Trump seem unlikely to be swayed by any possible evidence, and this will on,y further enrage them and motivate them. Some of those who ar eon the fence may be put off by the personalities and nastiness inherent in an impeachment investigation. And the chance of a conviction in the Senate seems low.

    The issue of the Ukraine investigation into the Biden family seems a possibly unfortunate one to base an impeachment inquiry on. Take a look at this opinion piece in today’s NY Times: ( https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/09/24/democrats-investigation-might-do-more-hurt-biden-than-trump/). It seems that the Biden family has not been exactly pure as driven snow in their dealings with the Ukraine. If this is true, or even plausibly arguable, it will be a major distraction in any impeachment discussions. Other actions of Trump seem to me much more deserving of impeachment and removal, but have not motivated action. Perhaps this is just the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back, but it will still mean that the events of the Ukraine call will be in focus in the inquiry, perhaps to the exclusion of more tru;ly significant issues.

    I am dubious but hopeful.

  67. Pelosi has been cautiously whipping support for impeachment for the past year, but it looked like it was losing momentum. Then the Ukranian treason dropped into their lap and she got enough centrist Democrats to pull the trigger. They will follow a slow process following all required procedures and they certainly have a lot of material to work with, from Trump’s colluding with Russia to his failure to follow the emoluments clause on down.

    A full-out impeachment hearing may still not happen and if it does, the Republicans in the Senate can’t let it work, but it does one thing — it shows that Trump doesn’t have his teflon free pass anymore and that does have a ripple effect. And the passing in the Senate on the whistleblower material indicates more defections on the Republican side. Nearly forty percent of Republicans in Congress at Trump’s inauguration are now gone, a substantial amount from those retiring or quitting. That’s a big turnover for the party and one that has favored Trump but weakened the Republicans electorally, making them cancel their own primaries. More Republicans are likely to desert for the private sector with impeachment putting a spike in things.

    Johnson got what he wanted from his manuevers but he also now is not teflon and losing parts of his party. So we’ll see. It’s better than not.

  68. If we are really lucky the Democrats will never quite send anything to the Senate. They can collate and codify all of the nasty little things Trump has done and keep it in the news cycle until the election.

    The problem is that he has done so many things it turns into a heavy sea fog when you try to look at it.With it all on paper it will convince those who are sitting on the fence, and maybe a few thousand republican mothers whose daughters leave it lying around.

    It will, hopefully, also keep Trump from going and stirring up the cockroaches, like he did in N.C.

    I hope it was a homemade banana bread. They only need 1 cup of sugar but I haven’t found any from a bakery that has less than 2 cups. If the top is shiny and sticky looking, stay away.

  69. G. B. Miller wrote: “I like to point out one salient fact about all of this: the person who made the whistleblower complaint wasn’t even in the same room when this phone call was being made.”

    And the photos of Soviet missiles in Cuba that triggered the Cuban Missile Crisis weren’t actually taken in Cuba.

  70. @Kevin: “Getting the votes to convict in the Senate is a very tall order.”

    That’s fine. The Republicans in the Senate can vote to acquit.

    Then the Democrats can run against the Republicans voting to acquit. And the Republicans can explain their votes to the moderates and independent voters whose support they need.

  71. “. We face the risk that this Prez will feel his presidency, his attitude towards dissent and his disregard of proper segregation of duties as vindicated.”
    Oh, he already thinks that. Come on, the man’s been breaking the law his entire life, stiffing contractors, scamming everyone. Just the fact that he’s Donald Trump, ubermensch, vindicates everything he does.
    ” For authoritarianism, I look to the left…. I look to the left to see threats to my freedom. It is the left that threatens the Constitutional defense of freedom, the Bill of Rights. ”
    Bush II claimed the right to lock up people without ever giving them a trial. Including one American citizen. The government has felt free to spy on American citizens since 9/11 (okay, more free than usual). The Bush and Trump administrations have discriminated against Muslims (some of Obama’s policies too). And Bush’s mouthpiece John Yoo insisted the president had absolute power to ignore all laws if he thought it justified. Republicans have been actively working to undermine the constitutional right of one person one vote as well.
    But I’ve yet to meet a right-winger who thought any of that implied an authoritarian threat comparable to oooh, regulating toilet bowls!

  72. Sarah: sigh. Yes, unfortunately, i do know…

    David: “Many of those supporting Trump seem unlikely to be swayed by any possible evidence, and this will on,y further enrage them and motivate them.”

    This statement is always true, and is therefore useless.

    For example: trump murders soneone on nstional tv. Some will rush to his defense. They wont be swayed by evidence and prosecuting him will only enrage them.

    Therefore, by your measure, even if trump murdered someone on national tv, dems should be wary of prosecuting trump.

    The right started this false narrative a long time ago that democracy means they have to agree to everything. If they disagree, it isnt democracy. And somehow, democrats have integrated this nonsense into their thinking. And it results in some weird ass shit that only ever comes out of the mouths of democrats.

  73. The objective, as far as many of us see impeachment of this particular person, isn’t a conviction from the Senate, per se.

    The objective is the collation of the incessant, relentless corruption, criminality, and actual threats to every aspect of this nation, from the integrity of elections, the safety of citizens in the face of gleeful white supremacists and others who can’t wait to start race war, and o so much else.

    This is how it worked with the Andrew Johnson impeachment. Through ma$$ive lobbying efforts he wasn’t convicted by the lack of a single vote. Unlike Nixon, he did not step down and insisted on running for another term. His increasingly incoherent speech(es), behaviors and the rest kept bringing home to the country that didn’t make its home in D.C. that this man was irrational, entirely unfit, and determined to bring back the days of slavery. He lost massively — of course he was also running against one of the most popular candidates any party ever fielded — General Ulysses S. Grant, whom everyone who followed these matters knew held the federal government together from Lincoln’s assassination and all the troubles that Johnson brought.

    Most significantly this current object of impeachment is terrified and desperate. How much so? He called Nancy Pelosi and asked her about making a deal so she’d make impeachment go away. What would make you make it go away? he asked. She said, “Obey the law.” He was actually stunned. This is my favorite take-away from yesterday in every way. It is so telling. As we who live in NYC have always known, this shows him yet again, the worst deal maker in history. Everything he has ever touched, no matter what it is or was, fall apart because he’s incapable of making anything work — except the lowest denominator tv in which both he and the viewers believe that pretending is the same thing as reality.

    What in hell did he think he could offer Pelosi anyway? I suppose I’ll go to my grave without ever knowing that, but I am pretending he is convicted after the fact of the election for treason, corruption and all the rest. I pretend he will be incarcerated in Guantánamo, from where it is impossible to extract a prisoner — but this will occupy his followers until death. Make Guantánamo good for something since we keep refusing to return it to the Cubans. Incarceration without fone and tv — with Giuliani across the way — Giuliani, whom the WH is already pointing at as the fall guy.

    Whether or not at this minute the senate convicts, impeachment is right thing to do in every way for every reason. It will certainly make sure of his place in history.

  74. “Bush II claimed the right to lock up people without ever giving them a trial. Including one American citizen. The government has felt free to spy on American citizens since 9/11 (okay, more free than usual). The Bush and Trump administrations have discriminated against Muslims (some of Obama’s policies too). And Bush’s mouthpiece John Yoo insisted the president had absolute power to ignore all laws if he thought it justified. Republicans have been actively working to undermine the constitutional right of one person one vote as well.”
    Why yes, but, but, but,Fake News! Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi women working gays marrying non-Christian, non-English speaking brown people invading the country rape drugs caravans build a wall love it or leave it the squad send them all back to their shithole countries nasty women*those*people voting the 47 percent eating regularly and accessing hot and cold water and medical care make America great again they will not replace us!!

  75. The other thing to note is there are still a lot of subpoenas out there. So far the administration has been trying to refuse them with “no legislative purpose”. That goes away with an official impeachment inquiry, since that’s an enumerated power of the House.
    The stuff that’s public now is the probable cause for a full investigation. That investigation will be used to decide impeachment.

  76. Gwangung wrote: “Given that the whistleblower is basing their complaint on not just one phone call, but on multiple occasions and instances . . .”

    I don’t think that’s true. The DOJ legal analysis released today addresses only one communication:

    – “The complainant alleged that unnamed ‘White House officials’ had expressed concern about the content of a telephone call between the President and a foreign leader.”

    – “Rather, the complaint arises out of a confidential diplomatic communication between the President and a foreign leader that the intelligence-community complainant received secondhand.”

    – Memorandum Opinion for the General Counsel Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opinions/attachments/2019/09/25/2019-09-24-urgent-concern.pdf

  77. scicrit

    No. Parliament could not pass a law which overrides the decision of the Supreme Court in this case, not least because the Justices were not ruling on a law. I have spent a lot of my life reading judgements, some of which were incomprehensible even to someone with specialist knowledge of the subject, but this one is as good as it gets. The rule of law is not about a law, or even lots of laws; it’s about the structure of a society.

    And whilst the concept of the elective dictatorship has been around for a long time the creation of judicial review, starting in the 1960s, has progressively reduced the unbridled power of the executive, frequently irritating the executive but increasing the rights of individuals confronted by the hitherto unbridled power of the state.

    I certainly don’t argue that further change is superfluous but it is important to understand just how well the Supreme Court has upheld the fundamental principles which define a free society.

  78. “The left” – in the US? Bwahhahaha. Even the “leftest” of the Dems are batshit insane right wing nut jobs anywhere else. You poor deluded Rodney Republican.

  79. @Greg:
    That is frightening, to say the least; things that used to be repugnant are now mainstream, and anyone who objects is branded as “authoritarian.”

    Even more frightening are some of the posts that crop up on Nextdoor; there was actually a guy on there asking his neighbors to let him know if they spotted *his* woman trying to leave the house while he was at work. He got dragged for it and ended up pulling the post down, and I don’t know what happened after that. I do remember that there were quite a few people who agreed to help him out.

    The thought of people like that with unfettered access to military grade weapons is beyond chilling.

    Last year, the university where I work was nearly shut down because of racially and religiously motivated shooting threats. There were people advocating for the would-be shooter, arguing that threatening people was his right as an American citizen to whom the first amendment granted freedom of speech.

    We get inundated with campus police alerts whenever an African American male is suspected of being armed and on campus, but the threats (these were found spray-painted on multiple walls of multiple buildings on campus) to “cripples,” Jews,” N**s, and “libtard” professors were hushed up for weeks. We only found out because the guy posted another threat on social media, and even then, the police did nothing.

    I wish these were isolated incidents, but they are not. I also wish that the treacherous nature of this nation’s social landscape was the worst of its problems but it is not.

    No disrespect intended to the victims of the Jonestown killings, but I seriously worry about dying in spite of never having drunk the MAGA flavored Kool-Aid.

    A worthless dollar (keep fucking with China, Trump)and/or nuclear War (keep poking Iran, Trump) will kill us all, no matter our political party.

  80. @Gregg: ” David: “Many of those supporting Trump seem unlikely to be swayed by any possible evidence, and this will on,y further enrage them and motivate them.”

    This statement is always true, and is therefore useless.”

    It has not been true of other leaders to the degree that it is of this President. Still I am not asserting that he should therefore be immune to legal process in general or to impeachment in particular. I am only saying that one should consider carefully the point of an impeachment proceeding. Is the point to remove Trump from office? if so, it is pretty sure not to work. Is the point to achieve political gains by documenting his misdeeds? Then one should consider possible downsides and the chance of an unjustified but not unlikely backlash in making a pragmatic decision.

  81. Everyone’s covered the politics much more thoroughly than I could, but for the best banana bread, google “browned butter maple banana bread recipe.” The only sweetener is a half cup (if I’m remembering correctly) of maple syrup. I’m not a banana bread fan, but I make this one and then try to hide it from myself so I won’t eat it all in one regrettable hour. Really good!

  82. Foxessa wrote:

    “This is how it worked with the Andrew Johnson impeachment. Through ma$$ive lobbying efforts he wasn’t convicted by the lack of a single vote. Unlike Nixon, he did not step down and insisted on running for another term. His increasingly incoherent speech(es), behaviors and the rest kept bringing home to the country that didn’t make its home in D.C. that this man was irrational, entirely unfit, and determined to bring back the days of slavery. He lost massively — of course he was also running against one of the most popular candidates any party ever fielded — General Ulysses S. Grant, whom everyone who followed these matters knew held the federal government together from Lincoln’s assassination and all the troubles that Johnson brought.”

    That doesn’t match the history i have read — perhaps I’ve missed something? Or perhaps you have?

    My memory is that Johnson was impeached and nearly convicted for sticking with the plan Lincoln had devised for dealing with the former Confederate states, and failing to accept the so-called Radical Republican program that was far more punitive. He was also guilty of failing to accept Stanton’s claim to be *de facto* Prime Minister, and for wanting to be able to select his own cabinet.

    As for Grant, he was indeed very popular. He also proved incompetent at running civilian government, and his Administration was one of the more corrupt the US has ever had. He personally seems to have been innocent of any corruption, but he failed to take effective action to prevent or correct it. His lack of ability in civilian government was not unknown to insiders before his election. I would Suggest reading _Grand Inquests_ by former Chief Justice Burger (of all people) for Johnson’s Impeachment, and _Team of Rivals_ by Doris Goodman for the internal politics of the cabinet that became Johnson’s

  83. So, I’m a Canadian and thus only imperfectly understand the US electoral system, so I’m looking for help on a line of thought:

    1) Trump does, in fact, get the shove from the Senate (unlikely, but someone on Twitter suggested that McConnell has every intention of outlasting Trump, ancient though he be), and;
    2) The GOP has been cancelling various state primaries, evidently to avoid a rebellion, SO–

    What happens then? Do they rush up some primaries? The places where they were cancelled just nod to whomever the other states foist upon them? A small dog gets declared God Emperor of Republicans until 2024?

    I also assume that there’s a brief period in which Pence gets to run his quivering, sin-conscious hands over the Resolute desk, right?

  84. Last time I checked, Trump had a 94 percent approval rating among Republicans.

    And from what I’ve seen today, the Democratic push toward impeachment is unifying the Republicans – just like the impeachment of Bill Clinton unified the Democrats in 1998.

    This dynamic should not surprise Nancy Pelosi. She was in the House when Republicans turned against Speaker Gingrich after the Republican Party lost about 10 House seats in the 1998 general election.

  85. @David E. Siegel

    Re Johnson’s impeachment, and Grant during and after, and then his administration — you’ve missed a very great deal. Also, Godwin’s book isn’t trustworthy in many areas.

    The book you want is The Impeachers by Brenda Wineapple, and o so many more that have been published since Godwin’s book, as well as several important studies of Grant’s life as both general and president published in the last ten years (not Chernow’s — that’a a really poor done book).

    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Listening to this farce of a press conference. His first sentence is a list of countries and a lie. There is NO Japan trade deal. This is a rambling display of utter incoherent bs.

  86. From my sofa here in the UK.

    Drop the mike. You’ve nailed it.

    Gonna have to try that Maple syrup and Banana Bread mentioned up thread.

    *Looks at post and I love the English language*

  87. The worst case is that the GOP turns Trump into a biblical scapegoat and chases him into the wilderness with all of THEIR sins attached

    The the New “Cleansed” GOP claims that is all behind them and the voters who have fled from Trump’s nonsense come bleating back into the herd and go back to voting GOP

  88. @Pedro, would you be kind enough to post where that approval rating came from, please? In other words, citation please. The only place I can find a statistic like that is The Onion.

  89. @David E. Siegel:

    Take a look at this opinion piece in today’s NY Times:

    Mr. Mark A. Thiessen, opinion columnist, was a speechwriter for Dubya and Rumsfeld, and noted for an entire book he wrote in defence of the Dubya Administration’s torture memos and ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques, spent a stretch working as a lobbyist at Manafort’s firm, before that was spokescritter and senior policy advisor for Jesse Helms, and recently has been a rent-a-pundit funded by Hoover Institution and American Enterprise Institute.

    Probably, he professes to have opinions. On a good day, they might even be his own. I’m unclear on why any of the rest of us ought to take them seriously, however. Personally, if I heard Thiessen predict the sun would be rising in the east, I might well get up early to check.

    Oh, I realise this was just an innocent gaffe and don’t mean to give you a hard time for it, but: That was actually an opinion blatt in the Washington Post, not the Old Grey Lady.

  90. I don’t think this whole impeachment thing is going to do much to Trump’s approval rating either way. Nearly everyone has already made up their mind about him and the only time there was any movement was during the government shutdown. And once it reopened, it went right back to what it was before. I also don’t think it will have much effect on any of the other races, and what effect there is will be drowned out by a number of other concerns (like the economy, new climate disasters, war/peace issues, etc.)

    I do think this impeachment is necessary for the simple reason that you can’t let him keep breaking the law without consequences. And the more lying he has to do to save his own skin, the more likely it is that no one, even from his own party, will want to work too closely with his administration.

    Trump is a weak president who is constantly getting rolled on everything and has to resort to legal trickery and outright lawbreaking to get any of his personal goals done. The Republicans are going to stand by him as far as impeachment votes, but the smart ones are going to keep more than a healthy distance from his administration from now on. And that’s going to be the real cost here.

  91. @MadLibrarian: “would you be kind enough to post where that approval rating came from, please? In other words, citation please. The only place I can find a statistic like that is The Onion.”

    From the Vox.com article linked by HelenS: “His highest recent approval mark among fellow Republicans was 88 percent in a Fox News poll of registered voters earlier this month.”

    Note though that it’s only 88% among Republicans. Many Republican-leaning people who don’t approve of Trump may not admit to being Republicans anymore, so that’s 88% of a smaller number of self-identified Republicans.

    Which seems plausible.

  92. @Pedro: “She was in the House when Republicans turned against Speaker Gingrich after the Republican Party lost about 10 House seats in the 1998 general election.”

    The difference is that a lot of people who voted for Democrats in 2018, giving them control of the House, probably did so hoping they would impeach. And they’ve been disappointed with the timidity of the House Democrats so far.

  93. @Pedro: “I don’t think that’s true. The DOJ legal analysis released today addresses only one communication:”

    Under Barr a DOJ analysis isn’t worth the bits it’s distributed with.

  94. You make it sound like the people who stormed the beaches on D-day knew they were going to win.

    Sometimes the fight is important, too.

  95. Sometimes the fight is important, too.”
    Absolutely. When no one sees the use in fighting any longer, we’ve truly been beaten.

  96. I’m watching the talking heads flip through the report right now. So far, Pompeo and Barr are in the blood and shit, and the language indicating an attempt at a quid pro quo arrangement between Trump and the Ukraine appears to be clear as glass.
    Not sure what all this means in the grand scheme, though, but we’ll see what we see.

  97. Some thoughts on the current situation:
    Impeachment: It’s worth noting that we have only used Impeachment as a country 18 times, 3 of which were against presidents. Impeachment does not automatically result in removal from office, even when successful. It is a loosely-defined set of rules laid down in the Constitution, but with a lot of debate on some specifics. For example, if Congress doesn’t specifically bar an impeached party from seeking office again, they may (as happened when a federal judge was impeached in 1989 who became a congressman (Alcee Hastings of Florida). It’s a method to remove someone from office, but rarely even comes to fruition: Nixon, for example, resigned before impeachment proceedings could happen (and once you’re out of office, you can’t be impeached). It’s also worth noting that impeachment is not a criminal prosecution. There’s a reason it’s very infrequently used (and primarily used to remove judges who have lifetime appointments).

    Long Term Strategy: Let’s be clear, here…unless some irrefutable evidence is found (and it likely won’t be, given Trump’s clever use of imprecise language combined with his being surrounded by self-interested parties in positions of action), there is virtually no chance that the Senate would generate the 2/3rds majority required to vote for impeachment. It simply won’t happen, even amongst those in the GOP who loathe Trump. The cost to them politically isn’t worth it. Pelosi knows this, which is why she’s taking a slow, methodical approach. She’s playing a long game designed to add a few more cuts to the bloodletting while taking the stance that she was driven to it and didn’t really want it to happen. This is much different in tone than the Clinton impeachment (and obviously the situation is much different). It resembles more the Nixon impeachment, but I highly doubt it will have the same outcome. Pelosi isn’t ignorant of these facts and she and Schumer are probably trying to force Republicans to be counted on record (so they can’t hide behind inaction later and pretend they weren’t on-board, much like Biden is trying to pretend he as against the war in Iraq from the start when he very much was not). I wouldn’t pretend to understand the maths that the Dems are hashing out, but I have no doubt they’re working this as a way towards taking the Senate.

    That call: It’ll be interesting to see how these details shake out. Barr and his summaries have already proven untrustworthy, so I place no stock in them. That call was almost certainly recorded and almost certainly monitored by the NSA or another agency, not just by the people in the situation room; Barr stating that the whistleblower wasn’t in the room sounds like an attemp to obfuscate. The ‘transcript’ isn’t a stenographer report, it’s a summary written by…someone in the room? It’s accuracy and breadth is, at best, questionable. Trump using his executive authority to interfere with aid payments prior to the call (since technically he can’t stop them, because it’s Congress’ responsibility, not his) combined with his requests sure seem like classic Piranha Brothers material (nice army base you got here, general). It is, of course, another case of Trump thinking the rules don’t apply to him and ‘why is that even bad?’ I haven’t read it, but I did see a case of the reporter who originally reported on Biden’s son and Ukraine apparently unhappy to have his work misrepresented by Trump, but then…get in line, man.

    Angering Republican voters: Honestly? Who cares? As Greg put simply above, it’s irrelevant. Those voters still solidly and loudly pro-Trump will never find a way to dislike him. The El Paso man who allowed Trump to use his dead brother’s baby as a showpiece during a PR visit and then post it to social media is an example. If a racist MAGA follower gunning down his brother doesn’t make him at least a little anti-Trump, I cannot imagine what would. I suspect (hope) that 2020 will be similar to 2016 when some dem voters refused to vote for HIllary, except that it will be GOP voters abstaining rather than voting for Trump.

    But the American electorate has disappointment already, I no longer have faith in them or this country to choose the option in it’s best interest.

  98. wizardru: ” I no longer have faith in them [ the American electorate] or this country”

    Im not saying its all roses, but 3 million more voted for Hillary over Trump. The voters deserve some faith. The system that counts votes is whats screwed up. Given that the system was designed by slavers who thought white male landowners should have the most say, its not terribly surprising the system is still whacked.

  99. “I no longer have faith in them or this country to choose the option in its best interest.”
    Problem is, tens of millions did exactly that; they voted in *their* best interests, and as far as they see it, they *are* the country. They voted with zero regard for anyone save the people who look like they do, speak the language that they do, believe in the God that they do, love like they do, fetishize what they do, and have access to the educational opportunities and economic advantages that they do. They voted to secure a breezy life for them and theirs.

    These are people who, for the most part, are in wholehearted support of what’s happening at the border, and who regard the president’s handling of the hurricane Dorian crisis in the Bahamas as perfectly acceptable in the face of the ever growing “threat” to the religious, cultural, and ethnic composition of the country. These are people who shrug off threats like economic collapse and the consequences of climate change because they “know” that their sky daddy will deliver them from the fate of the wicked

    Then you’ve got the “burn it all down!” assholes who look at serious threats to national security and rejoice because they imagine that their vision for a bigger, badder, whiter, and less secular America will finally, finally come to fruition in the aftermath.

    Bottom line, it’s a struggle between the “fuck you, you (insert your basic nationalist/ableist/antiintellectualist/classist/racial/homophobic/religious/misogynist slur here), I got mine” portion of the electorate, and the “you don’t have to be Christian, rich, cisgendered, male, able-bodied, US born, or fluent in English to qualify for human rights, education, social mobility, or any other right or privilege that is readily accorded to those who meet those “preferred” criteria” portion of the electorate.
    As far as they are concerned, all of the negative consequences associated with what the president is doing won’t impact them in the slightest because they’ve got theirs, and them and there’s will be fine.

  100. This about sums it up: “’My summary of the president’s call was meant to be at least part in parody,’ Adam Schiff tried to clarify.”

  101. @pedro – you’re obviously on the Russian troll farm talking points early release list. How did you get there, and do they pay well?

  102. LOL! the fifth amendment is an amazing thing to behold, most especially when one wants so badly to be let off the hook!

  103. Not the Reddit Chris S: “you’re obviously on the Russian troll farm talking points early release list. How did you get there, and do they pay well?”

    Au contraire, sir. I’m just a simple Pixelated Entity Directed Remotely and Optokinetically.

    Think of me as a fugitive from digital justice.

    Captain Clickbate and the Department of Narrative Enforcement have been after me for years.

    And don’t get me started on the Tone Police. Bastards!

  104. From that link:

    “Mike Murphy, a prominent GOP political consultant who has worked for Romney, deceased Senator John McCain of Arizona, and former Florida governor and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, told MSNBC on Wednesday that the

    **majority of Republican senators would vote for Trump’s impeachment if the vote was secret**”

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