That about sums it up for me.

All the anti-Republican Senate ads Democrats could possibly want
By Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post
Jan. 24, 2020

The impeachment trial will not result in President Trump’s removal, but it could well result in Republicans’ removal from the Senate majority. A slew of Republican incumbents were below 45 percent approval even before the trial began, including Susan Collins (Maine), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and John Cornyn (Tex.). In their refusal to allow new witnesses and documents, their determination to acquit even before the trial began and their conduct during the trial, they are creating a plethora of opportunities for opponents’ ad makers.

The anti-Trump Lincoln Project has already launched one against Collins:

Think of the ads that may highlight the total lack of professionalism by senators who read books, doodle, wander off, fall asleep and sneer at the House managers.

There are the lawmakers who play dumb, suggesting that there is no evidence of guilt. There are senators who whine that they are bored. Some simultaneously claim that there is nothing new and that they don’t need to hear from witnesses. Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) were peeved that House manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) suggested that refusing to allow witnesses was akin to enabling Trump’s cover-up. (Wouldn’t it be?) If only they found the president’s lying, abuse of power, obstruction of Congress and betrayal of national security as vexing.

There are the senators such as Republicans John Neely Kennedy (La.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.), who have regurgitated Russian propaganda. There are the senators who parrot the utterly discredited position that abuse of power is not impeachable.

Other senators, such as Ernst and Gardner, simply run from answering the most obvious questions. Why won’t you subpoena more documents and testimony from witnesses if you think the evidence is in doubt? Would you allow a Democratic president to refuse to produce any documents in a congressional investigation? Do you think it is acceptable for your political opponents to go to a foreign leader to announce a bogus investigation of you?

So far not a single Republican has upheld his or her oath to “administer impartial justice” by demanding to see all relevant new evidence, although hope springs eternal that some may come around after the two sides have presented their cases. In behaving as they have, Republicans are managing not only to deprive the president of a legitimate acquittal in the eyes of Americans (who overwhelmingly want a real trial), but also to convince voters that Republicans should not be entrusted with power.

Republicans should not be entrusted with power.

Hmm… What to say about the debacle.

In the moment I thought most of it a mixture of lies, mischaracterizations, and InfoWars Conspiracy Theories. On reflection I worry that the cherry picked video clips of testimony may provide a fig leaf for some.

Don’t get me wrong. It was all frothing raving madness.

Assessing the Trump team’s 6-point impeachment defense
By Philip Bump, Washington Post
Jan. 25, 2020

President Trump’s legal team in his impeachment trial began its defense on Saturday morning with a slightly more lawyerly version of one of Trump’s favorite tweets: read the transcript.

“They didn’t talk a lot about the transcript of the call,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone told the assembled senators in the Senate chambers at the outset of his remarks, “which I would submit is the best evidence of what happened on the call.”

That line, in itself, is a neat encapsulation of Trump’s case. It focuses on the rough transcript of Trump’s July 25, 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as exculpatory — while also asserting that the central issue is the call itself. It isn’t. The presented evidence shows a broad campaign of pressure of which that call was only one part, a campaign that is harder for Trump’s team to refute.

Cipollone soon transitioned to Michael Purpura, the deputy White House counsel. Purpura began by articulating a six-point defense that his team would offer during its presentation. Those six points, like Cipollone’s claim about the rough transcript: carefully worded, constrained — and often not hard to undercut.

Cipollone soon transitioned to Michael Purpura, the deputy White House counsel. Purpura began by articulating a six-point defense that his team would offer during its presentation. Those six points, like Cipollone’s claim about the rough transcript: carefully worded, constrained — and often not hard to undercut.

Here’s each point as he stated it, and what the available evidence says about the claims.

Now I’m going to stop there and urge you to click though because Philip Bump strongly refutes each of these points, but it’s a bit too long for the page so I’ll simply list them-

  1. “The transcript shows that the president did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything. The paused security assistance funds aren’t even mentioned on the call.”
  2. “President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said that there was no quid pro quo and no pressure on them to review anything.”
  3. “President Zelensky and high-ranking Ukrainian officials did not even know — did not even know the security assistance was paused until the end of August. Over a month after the July 25th call.”
  4. “Not a single witness testified that the president himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else.”
  5. The security assistance flowed on Sept. 11, and a presidential meeting took place on Sept. 25 without the Ukrainian government announcing any investigations.
  6. The Democrats’ blind drive to impeach the president does not and cannot change the fact, as attested to by the Democrats own witnesses, that President Trump has been a better friend and stronger supporter of Ukraine than his predecessor.

I would like to assume my body of work makes it clear that I think all these arguments are garbage but let me repeat it.


What? You thought I stopped doing this? Sheesh, do something different for a couple of weeks…

Back Foot – Dinosaur Pile Up


Peaches – The Presidents of the United States of America


Alien Ant Farm – Movies


Impeachment: Senate Trial 1.25.2020

Today the Republicans attempt to defend themselves.

Because (as mentioned below) they really have no defense and are simply pounding the table, today (though they’ve had 3 full days to panic) will be brief, 2 – 3 hours.

As you are watching please remember to monitor your blood pressure, take care not to damage anything that would be expensive to replace, and everything Republicans say are lies, including the articles (in the Grammar sense) “the”, “a”, or “an”.

Starts at 10 so no A.M. Joy.

The Breakfast Club (Uncertainty)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

This Day in History

Iran-held hostages released, Charles Manson and followers convicted, Jackson settles molestation claims, Alicia Keys is born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.

Robert Burns

Continue reading

The Hard Close

Republicans have nothing. He’s Guilty, GUILTY, GUILTY!!!

And you know that he’s a Traitor as well as a thief and a murderer though perhaps technically not so since no state of war exists because Congresspeople are Cowards. Not that I’d be in favor of war with Russia mind you, they’re just doing what they have done for 600 years or so.

If anything I’m disappointed nobody took the time to quote the United States Code on Bribery and Extortion in addition to the Impoundment Control Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Those are crimes.

Republicans are also lazy because they cheat to get everything they have. These ‘D’ List Lawyers are also utterly incompetent and unprepared so they’re going to swap 6 hours of presentation for a day of preparation

Impeachment: Drip, Drip, Drip

While the House managers make the case for removing Donald trump from the office of the presidency, more incriminating evidence keeps dripping out. This morning it was a tape of a conversation during dinner at Trump’s Washington DC hotel about then US to the Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch between Trump, and his personal lawyer Rudy Guiliani’s two henchmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. ABC News has the report

“Get rid of her!” is what the voice that appears to be President Trump’s is heard saying. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.

On the recording, it appears the two Giuliani associates are telling President Trump that the U.S. ambassador has been bad-mouthing him, which leads directly to the apparent remarks by the President. The recording was made by Fruman, according to sources familiar with the tape. [..]

During the conversation, several of the participants can be heard laughing with the president. At another point, the recording appears to capture Trump praising his new choice of secretary of state, saying emphatically: “[Mike] Pompeo is the best.” But the most striking moment comes when Parnas and the president discuss the dismissal of his ambassador to Ukraine.

Parnas appears to say: “The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She’s still left over from the Clinton administration,” Parnas can be heard telling Trump. “She’s basically walking around telling everybody ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait.” (Yovanovitch actually had served in the State Department since the Reagan administration.)

It was not until a year later that Yovanovitch was recalled from her position — in April 2019. She said the decision was based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives” that she was disloyal to Trump. [..]

The identities of others participating in the recorded conversation are unclear. During an early portion of the recording where video can be seen, Donald Trump Jr. appears on the recording posing for pictures with others. Sources say they were attending a larger event happening at the hotel that night for a super PAC that supports the president.

Another clip seen on the recording, according to the sources, is of individuals entering what appears to be a suite at the Trump Hotel for the intimate dinner. The phone that was recording the Trump conversation appears to be placed down on a table with the audio still recording the conversation between the commander-in-chief and other guests, according to the sources. [..]

A copy of the recording is now in the custody of federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District, who declined to comment to ABC News.

Former House committee lawyer Jeremy Bash, told MSNBC that it would constitute another “abuse of power” charge.

“I think it would be another important branch and sequel to the abuse of power allegation if the president used the office, used his own authority to direct that a U.S. ambassador be either removed from that position because she was standing in the way of his political agenda — but it seems like, from the recording, possibly even that physical harm or threats to her should ensue,” said Bash.

Nope, Trump never knew the guy.

More Drip

There is a certain level of indication that the Republican stonewall defence of Unindicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio is running into two big problems.

70% of people aren’t buying it and Parnas keeps adding more evidence (though to be fair this come second hand from his associate Igor).

Damning new audio of Trump illuminates the Ukraine scandal’s back alleys
By Greg Sargent, Washington Post
Jan. 24, 2020

Given that Donald Trump was elected president of the United States shortly after a video surfaced featuring him boasting of committing sexual assault with impunity, you might be forgiven for thinking that a damning new audio recording of Trump that’s directly relevant to the Ukraine scandal might not end up mattering much.

But this new scoop from ABC News is remarkable, and raises questions about what’s going on in this scandal’s subterranean passageways that might not be evident at first.

Most superficially, this contradicts the president’s repeated denials that he knew Parnas, who was recently charged with campaign finance crimes and has since turned on Trump, spilling potentially incriminating new information on Trump’s Ukraine scheme.

As a side note, when Trump claims not to know an associate who has just been busted for wrongdoing — which happens rather often — what he’s really doing is telling the world, and the rest of the gang, that this person is now dead to him.

The recording also suggests new detail about just how involved Trump was in the campaign to oust Yovanovitch. As you’ll recall, Yovanovitch had to be removed — which Trump ultimately did — to clear the way for the corrupt scheme that Giuliani was preparing to orchestrate in an effort to extort Ukraine into announcing investigations that would help Trump politically.

If it’s true, as ABC News reports, that this audio recorded Trump in spring 2018, that might suggest the scheme to oust Yovanovitch had been in the works for longer than we thought. It’s difficult to say whether Trump is merely responding to being told by his henchmen that Yovanovitch has been “bad-mouthing” him, as ABC News reports, or whether there’s something else going on.

It’s worth noting here how bat-bleep insane it is that Trump, who has the power to recall ambassadors, is talking with his goons about this. Remember that Giuliani launched an epic smear campaign to hound her out of office. Trump finally did remove the ambassador, but if there were legitimate reasons to do so, why this secretive campaign against her?

“The president can say, ‘I’m recalling this ambassador,’ ” former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner told me. “Why in the world instead of doing that do you yell to two underworld characters like Parnas and Fruman, ‘get rid of her,’ going around the entire machinery of government?”

That’s why it’s extremely suggestive, as ABC reports, that the audio was made by Fruman.

It’s possible that Fruman merely gave this audio to prosecutors to get it out into the public domain, Kirschner told me. But he added that it also raises at least the possibility that the SDNY investigation is far wider than we thought.

Kirschner noted that Yovanovitch testified that she had been abruptly recalled from Ukraine amid warnings about “my security,” and that she didn’t know what that meant. And, of course, Trump told the Ukrainian president that “she’s going to go through some things.”

“It seems like there could be an investigation into a conspiracy to do something to Yovanovitch,” Kirschner told me. “SDNY is or should be looking at all of this.”

All of which is a reminder that we still have only the foggiest understanding of the role Attorney General William P. Barr is playing. Is Barr allowing this investigation — whatever it’s examining — to proceed wherever the facts lead? We just don’t have any idea.

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Trump Is Abusing His Tariff Power, Too

More contempt for the rule of law.So here’s the story: Donald Trump has abused the powers of his office to threaten a U.S. ally. His threat is probably illegal; his refusal to produce documents about his decision process is definitely illegal. And his claims about the motivation for his actions don’t pass the laugh test.

You probably think that I’m talking about Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukraine into producing political dirt on Joe Biden by withholding aid, and the subsequent cover-up — you know, the stuff for which he has been impeached (and that half the country believes should lead to his removal from office). But there’s another, somewhat similar story: his repeated threats to impose prohibitive tariffs on imports of automobiles from Europe.

Granted, the auto tariff story isn’t as vile as the Ukraine story, and it poses less of a direct threat to a fair election. But it’s recognizably part of the same syndrome: abuse of presidential power, contempt for the rule of law, and dishonesty about motivations.

Petra Costa: Bolsonaro’s War on Truth

Brazil is mired in an endless drama, while its government is bringing democracy to the brink.

SÃO PAULO, Brasil — On Jan. 13, a documentary film I directed, “The Edge of Democracy,” was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature. In the film, I intertwine the rise and fall of the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff presidencies and the election of Jair Bolsonaro with my own family story. I am the same age as Brazil’s democracy, and much of the country’s deep polarization mirrors my family divisions.

Following the nomination, my team was flooded with messages on social media congratulating us. But our government responded differently. [..]

There is no visible light at the end of the tunnel in this culture war that seeks to censor liberal and progressive values and the destruction of the truth to impose a tropical fascism. As I point out in “The Edge of Democracy,” the elite got tired of playing democracy. As the history of Nazism reminds us, the elites who were silent in the face of the advance of authoritarianism ultimately ended up swallowed by it. Extinction is the price of omission.

Ezra Klein: Why Democrats Still Have to Appeal to the Center, but Republicans Don’t

Polarization has changed the two parties — just not in the same way.

American politics has been dominated by the Democratic and Republican Parties since the Civil War. That gives us the illusion of stability — that today’s political divisions cut roughly the same lines as yesteryear.

But in recent decades, the two parties have been changing, and fast. Those changes are ideological — the Democratic Party has moved left, and the Republican Party has moved right. But more fundamentally, those changes are compositional: Democrats have become more diverse, urban, young and secular, and the Republican Party has turned itself into a vehicle for whiter, older, more Christian and more rural voters.

This is the root cause of intensifying polarization: our differences, both ideological and demographic, map onto our party divisions today in ways they didn’t in the past. But the changes have not affected the parties symmetrically.

Put simply, Democrats can’t win running the kinds of campaigns and deploying the kinds of tactics that succeed for Republicans. They can move to the left — and they are — but they can’t abandon the center or, given the geography of American politics, the center-right, and still hold power. Democrats are modestly, but importantly, restrained by diversity and democracy. Republicans are not.

Catherine Rampell: Trump’s Treasury secretary just admitted the tariff rationale is hogwash

Perhaps distracted by the beauty and billionaires of Davos, Switzerland, this week Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin let slip an embarrassing admission: President Trump’s justification for his trade wars is hogwash.

For two years, the administration has offered increasingly ludicrous explanations for its tariffs. Sometimes tariffs are designed to shield pet U.S. industries from unfair competition. (Those industries are still shuttering plants despite the tariffs, but no matter.) Sometimes, tariffs are instead intended to raise revenue from abroad. (That additional tax revenue is being paid by Americans, not foreigners, but whatever.)

Perhaps the most farcical rationale, however, has been that massive tariffs are necessary to safeguard America’s “national security.”

It’s true that Congress, in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, authorized the president to impose tariffs when national security is at stake. Historically, presidents have invoked this authority regarding sensitive commodities, such as uranium and oil. The law’s language is pretty broad, though. That makes it ripe for mishandling by a president inclined to abuse it.

And this one certainly is.

Amanda Marcotte: How the anti-choice movement’s lies laid the foundation for Donald Trump’s big cover-up

It was anti-abortion fanatics who taught Republicans how to lie so shamelessly — and Donald Trump is grateful

In the midst of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, as Democrats continue to lay out a flawless case demonstrating the president’s guilt, Trump is turning to the anti-sex lady-hater brigade to bolster him. That’s right: On Friday, Trump will become the first president to show up in person at the annual March for Life. Other Republican presidents have just phoned in their remarks from a distance, since while they need the votes of anti-abortion fanatics, they have clearly found such people as pleasant to be around as the rest of us do.

But Trump is desperate to shore himself up with his almighty base, and that means maximum pandering to the people who have a fetish for forced childbirth. So he’s got to show up and talk directly to the fundamentalists and the squads of high school virgins they bus in, using them to fill out the ranks of marchers before those teens start having sex and drifting away from the anti-choice movement.

That Trump is turning to these people as a comfort blanket and a shield against the political damage of impeachment might seem strange at first: What does punishing women for having sex have to do with blackmailing Ukraine? But in truth, the whole situation makes a lot of sense if we unpack it a little.

Impeachment: Senate Trial 1.24.2020

Today starts the fourth day of the Senate trial of Donald Trump. OIt is the third and last day of arguments made by the House management team. Tomorrow starts the first of three daysof arguments by Trump’s lawyers in his defense. Republicans have been complaining about the length of the days and the repetition of material.

Late Night Impeachment: Day 2



TMC is a big Jon Stewart fan.


And, because it’s fun, Lew Black

And So The King

Is once again my guest. And why is this? Was Herod unimpressed?

What? Sympathizing with Jesus? It’s a sucker bet, he didn’t really exist though some people find aspects of his legend compelling as do I, a stone cold Atheist. That turning over the Money Changer’s Tables in the Temple? Classic Jesus. Sermon on the Mount? “Suffer the little children”? “Eye of a Needle”? “what you do for the least of these”?

Did you read it or not? I have at least twice, even the begats.

Ok, still smarting over the Pilate/Herod thing but he had three really good songs and like, 20 lines of dialog. Never wanted Judas/Jesus, too hard.

Anyway, here we are, back talking Epistemology in an age of Lies, Deception, and Illusion (not to mention spooky action at a distance). What is truth?

‘If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost’ — and we are
By Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post
Jan. 24, 2020

After another long day and evening of argument, Schiff explained that it was essential not simply to conclude that Trump did what he is accused of. (“You know he did,” Schiff told the silent Senate chamber.) Why do we need to get rid of Trump with only months to go? Can’t we just wait for the election?

Schiff explained that because we know we cannot trust Trump to put the national interest over his own interest, he poses a threat to the nation. He won’t stop China or Russia from interfering in the election. He’ll give up the national interest (e.g., a better trade deal) to advance his own interests. Schiff then delivered an impassioned plea: “Here right matters. … If right doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how good the Constitution is,” Schiff declared. “It doesn’t matter how brilliant the Framers were. It doesn’t matter how good or bad our advocacy in this trial is. It doesn’t matter how well-written the oath of impartiality is. If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost. If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost. The Framers couldn’t protect us from ourselves if right and truth don’t matter. And you know that what he did was not right.”

His remarks will no doubt be essential reading and viewing for years to come long after the horror of Trump has evaporated.

If you are as cynical and consumed with ambition as are the Republican senators, the words will bounce off you like water off a duck. But for those of us who have watched with a mixture of awe and amazement, with incredulity that anyone could argue against the merits of the House’s case, it was gut-wrenching because we know what he says is true, and we know that to the Trump cult and timorous Republicans, right and truth do not matter.

We can hold out hope that Schiff’s magnificent words will resonate with Americans, if not with a majority of the Senate. Perhaps Schiff’s call to our better angels will provide the emotional lift and inspiration to banish Trump from the Oval Office in the November election. Whether they do or not, Schiff’s words will serve as a message in the bottle — a love letter to democracy and truth for future generations. When historians look back on this dreadful time, at a president devoid of humanity an decency and a party overtaken with cultish reverence for evil, they might ask: “Didn’t they know better? Couldn’t they see right through him?”

The answer will be that most everyone saw Trump for what he was — a danger, a pathological liar, a self-serving demagogue with authoritarian aspirations. However, too few were willing to say it, and more important, to do something about it.

Scripps College philosophy professor Rivka Weinberg recently wrote in the New York Times on the nature of evil and collaboration with evil. “The truth about how massive moral crimes occur is both unsettling and comforting. It’s unsettling to accept how many people participated in appalling moral crimes but comforting to realize that we don’t have to be heroes to avoid genocides,” she wrote. “We just have to make sure not to help them along.” She argued: “Heroism is not morally obligatory, not teachable and not what we must demand of citizens in order to avoid catastrophic crimes against humanity. What we must emphasize is the cruelty and destructiveness of hate and the perils of collaborating with it.”

Republicans cannot bring themselves to do even that. But the rest of us surely can. The rest of us can say, “Enough.” We can say in November, “Trump is not who we are. We are a free people. He must go. We will not indulge this any longer.” The danger, Schiff reminds us, lies in what happens in the meantime.

Oh, and my answer to Epistemological Questions is always this-

Truth doesn’t change. It’s the acid test and only administered by time. While we are awaiting the results it’s generally more productive to pretend such a thing as reality exists.

Thus I am fundamentally a Utilitarian.

Oh and the 70s version is waaay better but not quite as HQ and I use it a lot and decided to mix things up.

And… people screw up who Pilate is addressing with “And why is this?” It was Caiaphas you morons. Thank goodness I didn’t get cast as Annas.

Transcript @ Crooks and Liars

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