Ships and Rats

Republicans have a notable lack of empathy, an inability to imagine an existence different from their personal experience. Metaphor is lost on them, they just don’t get it.

The reason a Rat leaves a Sinking Ship is not some mystical supernatural sense of impending Doom. It’s because the normal areas they inhabit are too flooded for them to breathe anymore.

This from The Hill, hardly a bastion of “liberal” propoganda-

Fox’s Napolitano predicts Trump will testify on own behalf at Senate trial
By Joe Concha, The Hill
12/05/19

Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano on Thursday predicted that President Trump will testify on behalf of himself at an impeachment trial in the Senate, saying it would be “the most dramatic legal political event” in modern history.

“If you go to a Senate trial, who testifies on behalf of the president?” Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer asked Napolitano on the network’s “America’s Newsroom.”

“Himself,” Napolitano quickly responded.

“You believe that could happen?” Hemmer pressed.

“I do,” replied Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge. “I think it will be the most dramatic legal political event in the history of our era.”

“With the president of the United States testifying under oath in front of the chief justice, and the full Senate and 200 million people watching on television.”

Napolitano has said on several occasions in recent weeks that he believes the president should be impeached based on evidence laid out as part of the House inquiry, which is examining Trump’s efforts this year to get Ukraine to launch politically charged investigations.

In a recent interview with Reason.com, Napolitano said he believes there could be “three or four articles of impeachment” against Trump, including bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors and obstruction of justice.

“The Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have unearthed enough evidence, in my opinion, to justify about three or four articles of impeachment against the president,” he told Reason’s Nick Gillespie.

“One is bribery. The allegation is the technical definition of bribery is the failure to perform an official duty until a thing of value comes your way,” continued Napolitano. “And they will argue that the president’s failure to disperse funds that the Congress ordered, they dispersed until the recipient of the funds agreed to investigate a potential political opponent is an act of bribery. That is enough, in my opinion, to make it over the threshold of impeachable offenses. I don’t think it’s enough to convict of bribery, but it’s enough to allege it for the purpose of impeachment.”

“The second charge will be high crimes and misdemeanors, election law violation,” he added. “The third crime will be obstruction of justice. The fourth will be interference with a witness, and the fifth may be lying under oath.”

Do I think this will actually happen? Probably not, but it would be great television.

In Defense of Jonathan Turley

Let us not forget he correctly named W, Cheney, and Obama as War Criminals. That counts for a lot.

Should you have the good fortune to be my friend I will not fail to stand by you in adversity. I pledge 3 Dan Morgan volleys before I withdraw in good order and if I fall between the second and third or during my redeployment my sole regret will be I could not achieve more.

And that I’m unlucky, ask anyone with a scrap of ribbon.

Thus it is with Jonathan, who, in his Libertarian way, was called in to “defend” Unindicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio. I’m sure he thinks he’s playing at being Ben Roebuck, John Thomas, Joe Hayes, and Tom Brandon.

His position is not that Unindicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio isn’t guilty of everything, just that the evidence is pouring in, what’s the rush?

Well, that’s my position too. Drip, drip, drip. I want him to suffer and his Party eradicated.

But Jon? This counts as one.

Why even the GOP’s expert witness undermines Trump’s defenses
by Cody Fenwick, Alternet
December 4, 2019

In the first day of expert witness testimony in the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment proceedings, George Washington University Law School constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley sat as the sole witness called by the Republicans.

While claiming not to be a supporter of Donald Trump, he seemed to be giving the GOP what it wanted — a credentialed and experienced expert on impeachment who cast doubt on the Democrats’ case against the president. It didn’t seem to matter much to Turley or the Republicans that many of his arguments against impeaching Trump now seemed in tension with previous arguments he’s made — including in the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

But even taking Turley’s claims at face value, he still starkly undercuts the president’s own defenses of himself and the Republicans’ attacks on the proceedings.

One of his major complaints, for instance, is that the impeachment proceedings are moving too quickly — an odd and perplexing claim on its own. But even assuming it’s a sincere case, it’s not what the president or his defenders have based their defenses on.

“You set an incredibly short period, demand a huge amount of information, and when the president goes to court, you then impeach him!” he said. “Now does that track with the rule of law that we’ve talked about?”

He also told Democrats: “If you rush this impeachment, you’re going to leave half the country behind.”

I’m going to stop right there and say that I’m more than willing to leave the deplorable racists, misogynist, bigots behind. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Republicans, however, haven’t been arguing that Democrats need to slow down and take their time with the impeachment. Instead, they’ve said that the whole thing is a sham from the beginning and that it is entirely unjustified.

Turley, despite siding with the Republicans, doesn’t actually seem to be willing to swallow their line of argument. And he sharply disagreed with the Trump administration’s position on withholding information from the Congress, saying he believes Trump will lose in court in his efforts to fight congressional subpoenas. So he doesn’t believe, as Trump has claimed, that the entire process is illegitimate — he just thinks it should be allowed to play out more slowly.

His remarks even support claims made by some backers of impeachment who argue that, tactically speaking, it would be better for Democrats to take their time, expand the scope of their inquiry, fight to get the relevant witnesses and keep impeachment in the headlines.

Also contrary to the president, Turley doesn’t believe Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — at the heart of the case that he solicited a bribe from Ukraine — was appropriate.

In fact, Turley said the call was “far from ‘perfect,’” the word Trump uses to describe the call. This suggests that, in contrast to the view of many Republicans and the White House, Turley thinks there are grounds for investigating the call and the broader scheme.

He also admitted, regarding Trump’s conduct: “If you prove a quid pro quo, you might have an impeachable offense.”

He said he doesn’t believe a quid pro quo has been proven. I’ve argued, on the contrary, that it has been.

But again, taking this claim, in combination with the public evidence of a quid pro quo — including Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s own words — Turley’s claims clearly lead to the conclusion that the impeachment inquiry itself is entirely warranted, despite Republicans’ claims. There just needs to be more evidence and more investigation.

The argument is that Turley is insufficiently ardent. I think the miracle is that he’s the only Lawyer the Republicans could find that they think advanced their position which is more aptly named warm water than weak tea.

Not that Robert E. Lee’s head didn’t deserve a Pike beneath it.

Cartnoon

Amber and Jenny

Not Jenny

Just Amber

The Breakfast Club (Monkey Cage)

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.

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This Day in History

Prohibition ends in the United States; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dies; Walt Disney and Little Richard are born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

H. L. Mencken

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For The Record: Day 6

House Judiciary Committee- Jonathan Turley, Pamela Karlan, Noah Feldman, and Michael Gerhardt

Transcript

R U All Ready For This?

Let’s get ready to Ruuuuuuuuuuumble!

‘Are you ready?’: Pelosi makes clear to Democrats that impeachment is coming
By Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade, Washington Post
12/4/19

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff left little doubt with fellow Democrats Wednesday that they plan to move swiftly to impeach President Trump as soon as this month.

According to multiple Democratic lawmakers who attended a closed-door Capitol meeting, Pelosi announced no firm decision or timeline in moving toward a vote on Trump’s impeachment. But, a day after Schiff delivered a 300-page report detailing charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress against Trump, she made clear what lies ahead in the House.

“Are you ready?” Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked her colleagues, after describing grave constitutional circumstances posed by Trump’s alleged wrongdoing surrounding his dealings with Ukraine and his subsequent decision to stonewall the House investigation into it.

The caucus, according to multiple members, erupted with shouts of approval.

“We’re moving forward,” said one member, summarizing the thrust of Pelosi’s remarks and speaking on condition of anonymity to candidly describe a private meeting. “We’ve got a job to do whether people want to testify or not.”

Pelosi then turned the room over to Schiff (D-Calif.), who received a standing ovation before saying a word, the members said.

Schiff proceeded to run through the major findings of the report, add context to some of the key events the inquiry has uncovered, and explained to colleagues why, among other things, he did not wait for additional witnesses — such as former national security adviser John R. Bolton, who met with Trump to discuss Ukraine policy — before issuing his report.

Schiff referenced a recent newspaper editorial that encouraged Democrats to slow down and use the courts to force testimony from Bolton and others. He countered that the courts have been too slow in upholding congressional subpoenas.

“The direction we got from Chairman Schiff was, we’re not going to wait endlessly for John Bolton to decide that the country is more important than his book deal,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.).

After Schiff’s presentation, Pelosi again spoke — focusing, a senior Democratic aide said, on “the gravity and somber nature of this moment,” as well as the need for Democrats to “give room for their colleagues to reach their own conclusions as the inquiry proceeds.”

The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly.

“She’s very on message in reminding us that this is a somber but necessary moment — this is a situation that the founders feared, but that we can’t avoid,” Huffman said.

The meeting, which began an hour before the Judiciary Committee gaveled its first impeachment hearing to order, included an unusually high level of security. Members were not permitted to bring staffers into the room, and they were asked to check their phones at the door.

In a separate closed-door meeting elsewhere in the Capitol basement, Vice President Pence rallied Republicans against impeachment — encouraging the GOP rank-and-file to “turn up the heat” on House Democrats and accuse them of focusing on impeachment instead of solving the nation’s problems.

Pence praised Republicans for sticking together and defending the president, telling them he and Trump were proud of their work standing up for the president.

Hell yeah Nancy. Bring it!

Don’t forget reloads.

Unindicted Co-Conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio

I will never call him anything else ever again for obvious reasons. Well, until he gets indicted.

You see, Individual 1 told Michael Cohen to pay off an Adult Sex Worker so that his custom was not made public during his campaign for the Presidency.

And it wasn’t Hillary who Bill owes one anyway.

In the normal course of events this is highly illegal and Michael Cohen is sitting in a cell this very day for being an accomplice to the crime. It’s a fact, you could look it up.

So that’s “Individual 1”, do you think there’s any connection with the mysterious “-1” (an imaginary number, you can’t have less than nothing, wait until I take it’s Square Root when I get downright irrational)?

A Mysterious ‘-1’ and Other Call Records Show How Giuliani Pressured Ukraine
By Sharon LaFraniere and Julian E. Barnes, Washington Post
Dec. 3, 2019

In the two days before President Trump forced out the American ambassador to Ukraine in April, his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani was on the phone with the White House more than a dozen times.

Phone records cited in the impeachment report released Tuesday by the House Intelligence Committee illustrate the sprawling reach of Mr. Giuliani’s campaign first to remove the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, then to force Ukraine’s new government to announce criminal investigations for Mr. Trump’s political gain.

That effort accelerated through the spring and summer into a full-court press to force Ukraine’s new president to accede to Mr. Trump’s wishes or risk losing $391 million in military assistance desperately needed to hold off Russian-led forces waging a separatist war in eastern Ukraine.

From March 26 to Aug. 8, as he developed an irregular foreign policy channel that eventually sidelined both National Security Council and State Department aides, Mr. Giuliani — who is not a government employee — was in touch with top-ranking officials, the newly revealed call records suggested.

He reached out to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; the national security adviser at the time, John R. Bolton; Representative Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee itself; midlevel White House officials; the Fox News host Sean Hannity; a conservative columnist; an associate who has been charged in a scheme related to Ms. Yovanovitch’s ouster; and the owner of a mysterious number, “-1.”

Investigators are trying to determine whether the unidentified phone number belongs to Mr. Trump, said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, who leads the House Intelligence Committee. If so, the phone calls with Mr. Giuliani could be further evidence of the president’s direct involvement in the Ukraine affair.

The call records showed “considerable coordination among the parties, including the White House” to falsely portray Ms. Yovanovitch as disloyal to the president and to manipulate administration policy for his personal benefit, Mr. Schiff told reporters.

The report detailed a game of phone tag between the -1 phone number and Mr. Giuliani on Aug. 8. That same week, Mr. Giuliani was vigorously pressing State Department officials to persuade President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into the Biden family and whether Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

Mr. Giuliani missed calls from -1 on Aug. 8 to two of his cellphones. Mr. Giuliani then called the White House switchboard and the White House Situation Room, before connecting with -1.

Circumstantial evidence shows that some of the -1 calls involved Mr. Trump, Mr. Schiff said, adding that his committee was working “to find out definitively.”

House investigators suspect that the number may belong to Mr. Trump in part because of phone records used as evidence in the criminal case against Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime friend and former campaign adviser who was convicted last month of seven felonies, including lying to Congress. Mr. Stone, who talked directly to Mr. Trump, received a call from a number listed only as -1, the records from his trial show.

The records of Mr. Giuliani’s calls also suggest that Mr. Nunes may have played a bigger role than was previously known in Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to manipulate the administration’s policy toward Ukraine. Mr. Nunes was in contact with both Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Parnas, the associate of Mr. Giuliani who helped the former New York mayor come up with negative information to further his strategy on Ukraine.

In a Fox News interview on Tuesday night, Mr. Nunes said that while he did not recall talking with Mr. Parnas, he might well have. “I remember that name now because he has been indicted, he said, adding, “It seems very unlikely that I would be taking calls from random people.”

On April 10, the records show, Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Nunes traded short calls before Mr. Giuliani reached Mr. Nunes and the two spoke for about three minutes.

While the subject of their conversation is not known, they were most likely speaking about Ukraine, the report suggested. In the days beforehand, Mr. Giuliani said on Fox News that Ukraine had improperly interfered in the 2016 election and posted on Twitter citing criticism of Ms. Yovanovitch and accusing Ukrainian officials of interfering in American politics.

During the impeachment hearings, Mr. Nunes led the defense of Mr. Trump, repeatedly raising questions about Ukraine’s role in the 2016 election and urging an investigation into Hunter Biden, the younger son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who was hired onto the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Schiff raised questions about Mr. Nunes’s role. “It is, I think, deeply concerning that at a time when the president of the United States was using the power of his office to dig up dirt on a political rival, that there may be evidence that there were members of Congress complicit in that activity,” Mr. Schiff said.

Mr. Nunes ignored questions about the call records in the Capitol, and his spokesman did not respond to requests for comment. But Republican leaders backed him on Tuesday. “Devin Nunes has a right to talk to anybody,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the top Republican in the House, told reporters.

Cartnoon

A little local pride. A bit like me bragging about the Paterson.

Yes, as in New Jersey. Patent model is in the Wadsworth Atheneum and there’s this great honking factory a stone’s throw away from I-91 (I mean seriously, until recently there wasn’t an intact pane of glass in the place, now it’s all bullet proof).

Impeachment: House Intelligence Committee Report

Because I know you want to read it.

House Intelligence Committ… by Fox News on Scribd

The Breakfast Club (Responsibility)

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.

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This Day in History

Associated Press Correspondent Terry Anderson is released from captivity; American troops head to Somalia; General George Washington says farewell to his officers in New York; Frank Zappa dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The way to change the world is through individual responsibility and taking local action in your own community.

Jeff Bridges

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Andy Yang Is Not Insane

Well, that seems a funny thing to say on the day Kamala Harris drops out of the race but as far as I’m concerned she’s basically just another Blue Dog, DLC, Third Way, Neo Liberal, Centrist Institutional Democratic Hack distinguishable from Slow Uncle Joe only on Identity Politics where, let’s not forget, JOE BIDEN IS ALSO A RACIST!

Why is he the front runner again? Because he appeals to other racists and misogynists and has the additional benefit of being senile and easily manipulated by Corporatist Interests?

C’mon guys, Delaware? I’m Incorporated in Delaware just because. Have a P.O. Box at Staples, Phone Number to Voice Mail I never check, and a Bank Account.

But enough with Joe, though he richly deserves everything I can throw at him and then some (yeah, tragic life, Benjamin Franklin Pierce had a tragic life and he’s as responsible as anyone for The Rebellion for Race Slavery), I want to talk about Andy Yang who, despite other flaws as a candidate, wants to give me $1000.

Now I don’t know about you but if I met a stranger on the street who pressed ten $100 bills (largest circulated since 1969) in my hand I’d protest I wasn’t worthy and there were others more in need and deserving than myself while I would secretly hope they’d insist.

The difference between that and Andy’s proposal is that because everyone gets it (yes, rich people too) the moral approbation for accepting the benefit is removed. This is why Social Programs like Medicare and Social Security work. It’s not “charity”, it’s something you earn by being a United States Citizen.

It’s also why Republicans hate them. They have Ant Syndrome (“Damn lazy no good Grasshoppers”).

“Classical” Economics, talking Samuelson and Nordhaus, says that giving money to poor people is more effective than giving it to rich ones. This is called the “Multiplier Effect” and was explained in Keynes book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (not as Left as you think it is).

“Supply Side” theorizes you can push a string (try it some time, let me know how it works out) and is loved by Neo Liberals. Businesses will absolutely pay premium wages on the thinnest of margins and employ tons of people to produce a surplus of goods no one wants if we only give them enough money.

It has failed continuously for 40 years.

What doesn’t fail? Well, free money for poor people to stimulate demand because they need stuff (suppressed Demand, just like after WW II when everyone had been making Tanks and Planes for 4 years). This particular experiment wasn’t even equitable or universal, it was random and the results were stunning and definitive.

I’ll try to give you a small sense of how rare that is. I’m a student of Clio which verges on the Physical Sciences in the sense that our assertions are expected to be duplicateable and falsifiable which is to say you can look at the same record of events I did or indeed a different record and find confirmational evidence or facts which show me an asshat in which case I will semi-graciously retire from the field of intellectual battle to sulk in my tent, as did Achilles.

We are considered among the most rigorous of Social Sciences (along with Archeology which is more bits and pieces of garbage and where to find them) but we don’t, like most Social Sciences, actually design experiments (the ethics are complicated and how do you duplicate the passage of time under different conditions?) and primarily rely on interpretation.

This was not that. This is the most scientific Economic experiment I have ever seen.

What would happen if we randomly gave $1,000 to poor families? Now we know.
By Francisco Toro, Washington Post
12/3/19

Dozens of studies have already shown conclusively that just handing very poor people a considerable sum of cash can transform their lives in lasting ways. That is hardly surprising. But this study set out to ask a different question: What about their neighbors?

Say you’re living in deep poverty in rural Kenya, and the poorest people in the village next door to yours get a big cash transfer, but you don’t. Does that do you any good at all? Or is your neighbor’s luck your misfortune, because local prices jump, say, leaving you worse off than before? Setting aside the direct recipients, what do cash transfers do to local economies?

Working in Siaya County, in rural western Kenya, researchers Dennis Egger, Johannes Haushofer, Edward Miguel, Paul Niehaus and Michael Walker spent five years and more than $10 million to find answers to these questions.

(T)hey carried out detailed surveys of thousands of people both in villages that had been randomly picked to receive cash transfers and in those that didn’t get them. This allowed them to do something no researcher had tried before: Use a randomized controlled trial to identify and measure the impacts of handing out cash on the entire area.

Their findings are significant: Cash transfers benefited the entire local economy, not just direct recipients. As money made its way through the area, both families who did and did not receive cash ended up substantially better off.

Just as importantly, they could find little in the way of adverse effects from the experiment, either in villages that got the cash or in those that didn’t. Spending on temptation goods — such as cigarettes, alcohol and gambling — did not increase. People didn’t work less. Rates of domestic violence didn’t change, nor did more children drop out of school. Local income inequality levels did not change. And contrary to a common fear, the program had minimal effect on prices: Inflation increased less than 1 percent over and above Kenya’s overall rate.

What made the study really path-breaking, though, is that it was huge: The money handed out amounted to more than 15 percent of the GDP in the treatment area, reaching 10,500 of the 65,385 households there. Dump that much cash into a local economy, and you would certainly expect it to grow. But by how much?

That, it turns out, is a hotly disputed question. You might recall the furious debate after the 2008 financial crisis about the “fiscal multiplier” to stimulus spending in the United States: Economists tussled endlessly over just how much extra economic activity the government would generate from each extra dollar it spent.

In the United States, depending on the study, researchers usually put that number in the range of 1.5 to 2.0 — meaning that every $100 the government spends, between $150 and $200 worth of economic activity is generated. Back in 2013, researchers had estimated the number might be in the same ballpark in Kenya.

But this study found a much bigger impact: Every $100 given directly to the poorest households was generating between $250 and $270 in GDP. That’s a fiscal multiplier in the range of 2.5 to 2.7 18 months after the money was spent — a huge number by global standards.

How come? Because the very poor spend their money locally, and the shops they spend it at, in turn, spend it locally again, a chain effect that stimulates demand and lifts revenue for the tiny businesses throughout the area. The research found some evidence — though not conclusive — that local wages had risen, perhaps more strongly in villages that directly received cash than in their neighbors.

This is, of course, just one study in one area of one country, and generalizations are always perilous. Studies on this scale are expensive to carry out and take years to analyze, a key reason nothing like this had been attempted before. But these results suggest that could change, as donors and developing governments catch on to the elegant simplicity of giving the poorest cash.

“There’s more and more interest in running these programs at scale,” Berkeley’s Miguel, one of the study’s authors, told me in a phone interview in November. “More and more governments are coming around to the benefits of cash transfers.”

One by one, the prejudices against direct cash transfers to the very poor have fallen, as research shows the myths about the indolent poor are just that: myths. As the doubts clear, more and more actors in international development need to come around to the insight that the simplest, cleanest intervention often has the greatest effect.

So Andy Yang is not insane, at least about this aspect of his program. Doesn’t mean I support him, just I think this highlights some important Economic issues.

Here I’m simply reporting the facts, I’m not an Economist, I hate Economics because the most influential voices in the field are thoroughgoing selfish assholes with no sense of internal consistency or smidge of empathy.

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium 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

Robert Reich: The ‘most dangerous politician of my lifetime’ may not be Donald Trump

He’s maybe the most dangerous politician of my lifetime. He’s helped transform the Republican Party into a cult, worshiping at the altar of authoritarianism. He’s damaged our country in ways that may take a generation to undo. The politician I’m talking about, of course, is Mitch McConnell.

Two goals for November 3, 2020: The first and most obvious is to get the worst president in history out of the White House. That’s necessary but not sufficient. We also have to flip the Senate and remove the worst Senate Majority Leader in history.

Like Trump, Mitch McConnell is no garden-variety bad public official. McConnell puts party above America, and Trump above party. Even if Trump is gone, if the Senate remains in Republican hands and McConnell is reelected, America loses because McConnell will still have a chokehold on our democracy. [..]

As to the question of who is worse, Trump or McConnell — the answer is that it’s too close to call. The two of them have degraded and corrupted American democracy. We need them both out.

Paul Krugman: America’s Red State Death Trip

Why does falling life expectancy track political orientation?

“E pluribus unum” — out of many, one — is one of America’s traditional mottos. And you might think it would be reflected in reality. We aren’t, after all, just united politically. We share a common language; the unrestricted movement of goods, services and people is guaranteed by the Constitution. Shouldn’t this lead to convergence in the way we live and think?

In fact, however, the past few decades have been marked by growing divergence among regions along several dimensions, all closely correlated. In particular, the political divide is also, increasingly, an economic divide. As The Times’s Tom Edsall put it in a recent article, “red and blue voters live in different economies.”

What Edsall didn’t point out is that red and blue voters don’t just live differently, they also die differently.

About the living part: Democratic-leaning areas used to look similar to Republican-leaning areas in terms of productivity, income and education. But they have been rapidly diverging, with blue areas getting more productive, richer and better educated. In the close presidential election of 2000, counties that supported Al Gore over George W. Bush accounted for only a little over half the nation’s economic output. In the close election of 2016, counties that supported Hillary Clinton accounted for 64 percent of output, almost twice the share of Trump country.

The thing is, the red-blue divide isn’t just about money. It’s also, increasingly, a matter of life and death.

Eugene Robinson: We’re losing our climate battle. We have no one but ourselves to blame.

We are losing the battle to save our planet, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

As the United Nations opens its 25th climate change summit in Madrid, leaders are seeking to put a brave face on a dismal situation. “My message here today is one of hope, not of despair,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres told journalists Sunday.

Hope, unfortunately, is not a plan. [..]

History will condemn a host of villains, starting with President Trump. The United States, as the globe’s leading economic power, is uniquely positioned to lead the world toward climate solutions. Instead, Trump is deliberately worsening the problem by pulling out of the Paris climate accord and actively encouraging the increased burning of fossil fuels, including coal. Decades from now, we may well see this as the Trump administration’s worst legacy.

Catherine Rampell: The more love Always Trumpers show, the more dangerous Trump becomes

You’ve heard of the Never Trumpers. That’s the president’s catchall slur for anyone who criticizes him or at least accurately attests to something unsavory he’s done.

But let’s talk instead for a moment about the true risk to our democracy: the Always Trumpers. These are people such as Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) and even the once-reasonable-sounding Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.), who excuse away any evidence of impeachment-worthy misdeeds no matter how damning.

The Always Trumpers represent a sprawling group of lackeys and co-conspirators, willing to aid, abet and (most importantly) adore President Trump no matter what he’s credibly accused of. Come hell or high crimes, Always Trumpers always truckle to Trump. [..]

Absolved for soliciting political interference from one country, in one presidential election, he asks it publicly of two countries in the next. Forgiven for politicizing law enforcement, he moves on to politicizing the military. Allowed to abuse one immigrant group, or undermine one federal agency, he adds others to his crosshairs.

Just imagine what he’ll do if not just GOP lawmakers but also the electorate affirms his behavior with four more years.

Well done, Always Trumpers. If Trump didn’t genuinely believe he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue before, you’ve convinced him he can now.

Paul Rosenberg: Impeachment as a struggle to save democracy — from the pathological cult of Donald Trump

History shows how democracy can give way to “pathocracy” ruled by disordered individuals. Are we heading that way?

There are many different ways to view the Trump impeachment process, but perhaps the most important, if least recognized one is to view it as a part of struggle to preserve American democracy from destruction at the hands of predatory individuals utterly lacking in conscience.

It’s well recognized that there’s an ongoing wave of democratic erosion or backsliding around the world — and that the United States today is caught up in that wave, not standing apart from it. What’s far less appreciated is the role that individuals with personality disorders play in this process — a role that systematically disrupts our expectations of how things work, based on the normal psychology we commonly and tacitly assume. Unless we understand them and their role, we will never fully grasp what is happening, and it will be much more difficult, if not impossible, to correct.

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