Creeping Authoritarianism Watch

Authoritarian kleptocracies typically maintain a democratic facade, but the strongman and his cronies ensure that institutions ostensibly created to represent the people serve the regime instead. I’ve always thought Trump, a Dollar Store-brand Putin wannabe, is too dumb and incompetent to completely subvert our democracy to the extent more capable autocrats have achieved. But recent developments leave me less confident about the saving grace of stupidity and ineptitude.

Barr’s disgraceful handling of the Mueller report and assertions during his audition for the AG gig that the president is above the law are one example of creeping authoritarianism. But Barr’s willingness to abuse his office to eliminate Trump’s enemies is equally alarming because it’s not about covering up past misdeeds; it’s about eliminating political opposition in the future.

Senator Harris zeroed in on that during her questioning yesterday when she asked Barr whether anyone in the White House had asked or suggested that he open an investigation into someone. Barr flopped around like a beached cod in response, as he did when Harris’s questioning revealed he hadn’t bothered to examine the underlying evidence in the Mueller probe before embarking on a PR blitz to clear Trump. The latter got more attention, but the former may be even more important.

A Times article published yesterday evening outlines what may be an opening salvo in the Trump regime’s effort to discredit political opponents ahead of the 2020 election:

Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump and Allies

WASHINGTON — It was a foreign policy role Joseph R. Biden Jr. enthusiastically embraced during his vice presidency: browbeating Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government to clean up its act. And one of his most memorable performances came on a trip to Kiev in March 2016, when he threatened to withhold $1 billion in United States loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss the country’s top prosecutor, who had been accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in his own office and among the political elite.

The pressure campaign worked. The prosecutor general, long a target of criticism from other Western nations and international lenders, was soon voted out by the Ukrainian Parliament.

Among those who had a stake in the outcome was Hunter Biden, Mr. Biden’s younger son, who at the time was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch who had been in the sights of the fired prosecutor general.

Josh Marshall picks up the story at TPM and explains how it relates to Barr:

Rudy Giuliani, the President’s personal lawyer has been meeting with Ukrainian officials repeatedly and dangling the possibility of better relations with President Trump if they will reopen the investigation into the Hunter Biden-affiliated company. Let’s repeat that. The President’s personal lawyer is going abroad and using the lure of better treatment from President Trump to get them to reopen an investigation that could damage the man who is possibly Trump’s presidential competitor next year.

That’s not all.

Giuliani and Trump have asked Attorney General Bill Barr to get the material Ukrainian prosecutors have assembled and start his own investigation in the US.

That would explain Barr’s hemming and hawing in response to Senator Harris’s pointed question about investigations. Marshall also says Giuliani has visited other foreign capitals over the last 18 months, allegedly on private business. We have no idea what offers he’s dangled or threats he’s made on Trump’s behalf.

As we know, House Republicans held the Benghazi show trials with a single goal in mind: discredit the eventual Democratic Party nominee. Their efforts fell flat because there was no there there. But House Republicans did manage to surface the private email server issue. So, with an assist from a hostile foreign power, malefactors and egomaniacs in the FBI and an irresponsible Beltway media, the Benghazi effort succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

The use of US foreign policy to reward allies for aiding the POTUS in domestic politics represents a significant escalation, as does deploying the federal law enforcement apparatus to clear the field of rivals. Trump telegraphed a corrupt willingness to engage in such activities during the 2016 campaign, from “Russia, if you’re listening” to “Lock her up.”

But now he and his minions have the full resources of the United States government at their command and are using it to consolidate political power, which makes the following statement from Barr during yesterday’s hearing unbearably ironic:

“We have to stop using the criminal justice process as a political weapon.”

As always, every accusation is a confession in Trumpland.

So, where do we go from here? Now that the Trump administration has declared itself above the law and not subject to checks and balances, now that one half of Congress has thrown in its lot with this particular kleptocrat and authoritarian wannabe, it’s hard to see a way forward that doesn’t involve impeachment hearings.

Sure, it’s politically risky. It might not even work as a tool to compel production of evidence and appearances before committees since Trump has stocked the judiciary with lackeys who may be willing to rule that the US Constitution doesn’t say what it clearly says.

But given the stonewalling on House investigations, the alternative may be to let this massive and compounding abuse of power stand and hope that there’s enough of a democratic framework left in November 2020 to clean house then. I’m not confident that will be the case, especially in light of this bogus investigation involving Joe Biden. Are you?






167 replies
  1. 1
    germy says:

    I’m not confident that will be the case, especially in light of this bogus investigation involving Joe Biden. Are you?

    No.

    Because I agree with you that we have an irresponsible Beltway media.

  2. 2
    R-Jud says:

    This article from Masha Gessen feels related to what you’ve raised here, Betty.

    I have heard talk like this before, in Russia. A government official once told me that he “carried out emanations”: not policies, laws, or even orders but signals akin to what Skinner called “hunches and instincts.” It’s what officials do in countries that are led by a combination of ignorance and corruption. I had heard the isolationism and destruction of Putin’s rule be framed in phrases such as “sovereign democracy” and in a lot of other plausible-sounding policy gobbledygook that served to rob every word of familiar meaning…. I was struck, not only by how familiar the process of hollowing out language felt but by how quickly, easily, and politely a Washington audience can accommodate itself to it.

  3. 3
    The Moar You Know says:

    I’ve always thought Trump, a Dollar Store-brand Putin wannabe, is too dumb and incompetent to completely subvert our democracy to the extent more capable autocrats have achieved.

    He is neither dumb nor incompetent. We need to understand that. He’s burning down America in an attempt to get a new edifice put in its place, one which he and his cronies control.

    I might add that this is exactly what happened in Russia. Putin is the richest man in the world by an order of magnitude. That has not escaped the president’s notice.

  4. 4
    dr. bloor says:

    I don’t think “creeping” is the word you’re looking for in the title here, Betty. Is “Usain Bolt-like” an acceptable adjective per the OED?

  5. 5
    rikyrah says:

    You have layed it out well, BC.

    Absolutely on point.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    Perhaps NYAG needs to throw Ivanka into Rikers.

  7. 7
    dww44 says:

    I’m with this Jordan Orlando comment at No More Mister Nice Guy last evening:

    “I keep saying the same thing over and over: you impeach — you impeach because it’s the right thing to do.

    It doesn’t matter what the Republican-controlled Senate will do, or what President Pence would be like, or how it would poll, or how it compares to Nixon or Bill Clinton. This isn’t about “optics” — it’s about justice. The world will catch up with the righteous: it always does, whether it’s Alexander Butterfield or Sophie Schall or Joan of Arc or Jesus Christ. You do the right thing, even when it’s hard or unpopular — especially when it’s hard or unpopular

    The concern that’s been raised about impeachment is whether it’s handled right or not, with the latter being the outcome most folks think is the likeliest to happen. Perhaps we up the chances of a good outcome by securing the help of some more of Mueller’s team. Which brings to mind this from NYT” s David Leonhardt’s newsletter this morning, that I thought was interesting:

    “Robert Mueller seems to have been an honorable, patriotic public servant in every government job he’s had — United States Marine, federal prosecutor, F.B.I director, special counsel and more. But he is not perfect. It’s now clear that he mishandled the end of the Russia investigation.
    Mueller naively trusted that William Barr, the attorney general, would act honorably and patriotically, as well, and let Barr decide how to handle the initial release of Mueller’s report…..”

    Perhaps, we on the side of truth and justice need to recognize the enemy with whom we are dealing and start controlling the narrative more effectively.

  8. 8
    Nicole says:

    After seeing that photo of those rubes wearing their “Better Russian than Democrat” t-shirts, I’m really not hopeful. FOX News has done a very effective job making “pwning the libs” the raison d’être for a sizable portion of the nation. If they can persuade themselves “their guys” are winning, even if “their guys” are gutting the nation while doing it, they’ll be just fine with it all.

  9. 9
    karen marie says:

    I think you give Trump way too much credit. He’s not capable of organizing his own thoughts. The problem is not Trump, it is the Republican party. They are the ones responsible for the bad turn we’ve taken.

  10. 10
    karen marie says:

    @The Moar You Know: Are we talking about the same person? Donald Trump is a mastermind? Are you fucking kidding me?

  11. 11
    Betty Cracker says:

    @The Moar You Know: We’ll have to agree to disagree on that. I believe Trump is an addled moron who couldn’t profitably manage a sunblock and fan concession at a Death Valley KKK rally. But he has a huckster’s instinct for stoking grievance and ginning up hate among the rubes. It’s a limited skill set but exactly what the plutocracy party needed to have a shot at completing its decades-long project of instituting minority rule. Hence that party’s willing subservience to a crude dullard.

    @dr. bloor: Good point.

  12. 12
    tobie says:

    @dww44: Mueller trusted that institutions would work and what we’ve seen is that they work only as long as politicians and the public are vested in them. Republicans don’t care about laws, norms, and a functioning government. All that matters to them is power. Mueller not only trusted Barr. He trusted that the Department of Homeland Security would explore the integrity of the nation’s voting systems and that FinCEN would look at the President’s finances and that FBI would continue counter-intelligence investigations. None of that happened, it seems. Was it naivete or willful blindness? I really don’t know.

  13. 13
    Betty Cracker says:

    @karen marie: See #11. Sorry it was unclear in the OP. You’re 100% correct; it’s the party, not the current moron nominally in charge of it. Well, it’s both, but the GOP has been setting the stage for decades.

  14. 14
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I’ve always thought Trump, a Dollar Store-brand Putin wannabe, is too dumb and incompetent to completely subvert our democracy to the extent more capable autocrats have achieved. But recent developments leave me less confident about the saving grace of stupidity and ineptitude.

    He couldn’t do it without the complicity of the entire GOP caucus. John McCain was weakened, but still had one moment of leverage over trump and (more importantly) McConnell: The tax cut. But that was his priority (during the first Bush year, he was against tax cuts, but only because he was still madder at Bush than the Dems). I remember a reporter asking Flake if he would use that bill as leverage against trump: Flake seemed genuinely confused by the question, the idea that there could be any higher priority than cutting taxes. Now they’ve let him get stronger. I still think that Willard Romney imagines himself having a Joseph Welch “at long last…” moment, of being remembered the way Goldwater is about Watergate. But those are still trumped by the dream of looking on as White Horse Tagg is sworn in and makes George’s dream of the Mormon Kennedys real. At least that’s my working theory.
    I know this is not earth shattering, but I don’t think trump is underestimated so much as the cowardice of his Republican enablers is
    ETA: Nobody would be happier than Mitch McConnell if trump could be got rid of in a way that broke his spell over the ten-toothed rubes while allowing Mike Pence– an even more pliable auto-signing machine– to rise to power. A lot of us would be as happy, no one would be happier than The Soapy Turtle.

  15. 15
    rikyrah says:

    Demons

    The third child to die in government custody since December. Another boy was locked in a highway holding cell when he grew ill https://t.co/AC63t3ptb1

    — Rosa Goldensohn (@RosaGoldensohn) May 2, 2019

  16. 16
    Betty Cracker says:

    From Politico (yeah, I know) just now:

    Pelosi also told her colleagues during the meeting that she couldn’t sleep Wednesday night after watching Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, during which he challenged Mueller’s legal theories and framework and endeared himself to Trump and his GOP allies.

    She added that impeachment is “too good for” President Donald Trump, reiterating her opposition to launching impeachment proceedings even as a growing chorus of Democrats is calling for just that.

    The speaker’s remarks underscored Democrats’ deep frustrations with the White House’s refusal to comply with their oversight demands and subpoenas as part of their myriad investigations targeting the president and his administration.

    Pelosi has forgotten more about politics than I’ll ever know, so I’m going to assume she’s playing a long game here. Christ, I hope so.

  17. 17
    cope says:

    First, thanks for writing a post. I don’t have the patience nor familiarity with Twitter nomenclature, abbreviations and acronyms to grind through posts that are mostly a collection of Twitter twitterings.

    Second, I am entering a cycle of cynicism about our country’s ability to bring anybody to justice about anything and reclaim the rule of law. The hydra spawned by trump has too many tentacles. Every day, every hour something new and different pops into view and the collective attention is directed down a different path. I fear that when (if) we ever come to our senses, it will be too late, the basic structure of our country will be so vastly corrupted that I will never live to see any reckoning. trump seems to be the catalyst that will allow a toxic combination of religious fundamentalists, oligarchs and cigar smoking warmonger capitalists to take control of out lives.

    Since 2016, I have cycled back and forth between feeling that justice will eventually be served and that we are all well and truly fucked. Unfortunately, the negative periods of my attitude seem to be getting stronger and longer. I hope something will put me back on the upswing but, sadly, it just seems that nothing ever happens to these horrid people, they have no shame and no sense that the rules apply to them. Would that I were wrong.

  18. 18
    different-church-lady says:

    “Political idiot savant” might be the concept y’all are fumbling for.

    Trump is a genius at leveraging structural dyfunctions that already exist.

  19. 19
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Betty Cracker: so I’m going to assume she’s playing a long game here.

    I don’t know what else she can do. trump might be right about impeachment being a win for him, he might be wrong, I don’t know. I know that the broad public seems to have shrugged the whole Russian thing off long before Republicans did, Lindsey Graham followed the lumpenmittel. The difference between a formal impeachment committee and what Dems are doing is– as I understand the technicality, without really grokking the why– is that an impeachment committee would have the right to demand more documents than Ways and Means or Judiciary. This is something that’s brought up wrt to trump’s tax returns. But if trump isn’t giving them now, why would he if the demand came from an impeachment committee? I think we just have to hope that somehow, somewhere, Schiff or Waters or Nadler find the witness who will get people to start paying attention. Their Butterfield or John Dean, if I remember my Watergate readings and listenings correctly.

  20. 20
    Mart says:

    I think the country has already passed the autocrat tipping point. Barr declared Trump is King yesterday; and far too many white people are OK fine with that, as long as he keeps hurting and insulting the right people. But it’s OK. I also think the planet has passed the warming tipping point, so we are all going to die anyway. (Yes I may be a bit stressed/depressed.)

  21. 21

    So it’s worth remembering that Hitler was actually an incompetent, lazy egomaniac and his government was an absolute clown show.

    Just because he’s incompetent and lazy doesn’t mean he can’t totally screw up the entire world.

  22. 22
    Eural Joiner says:

    Honestly, I think we’re done here, folks. RIP America.

    I’ve watched dozens of people I’ve known a lifetime willingly churn themselves into ignorant, racist, treasonous FOX zombies. It’s not getting better – it’s getting worse. A lot worse. And they are more enamoured of Trump and his cronies than ever before.
    Meanwhile, in Congress, there is a lot of scowling and furrowed brows.

  23. 23
    Ruviana says:

    I’ve read a lot about Putin and have long thought that he’s what Trump would be if Trump were smart, crafty, and competent. Putin has some of the same issues about power and losing that Trump does but Putin’s are about Russia and nationalism rather than skyscrapers. It’s sort of OT but Campos at LGM has an interesting take on how impeachment may be exactly what Trump and the Republicans want that is worth a read.

  24. 24
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mart: We’re all going to die whether the planet warms or not. The only question is how miserable living will be.

  25. 25
    tobie says:

    @Betty Cracker: I’ve got to believe Pelosi has a strategy because she seems to be the last powerful person standing between us and chaos. I don’t get why a majority of Americans believe Trump’s a crook but still don’t support impeachment. It’s mystifying.

    Thanks by the way for the clear-eyed post on the acute danger we’re facing where the President and the GOP will use every power they can muster to delegitimize the opposition. HRC put it well last night: if there are no restraints on the President, then we are on the road to tyranny. Is there anything we can do? Fight locally for election integrity? The DNC needs to work with every Democratic Club in the country to get them doing the non-sexy stuff that gives us a fighting chance of being able to hold free and fair elections.

  26. 26
    rikyrah says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Pelosi also told her colleagues during the meeting that she couldn’t sleep Wednesday night after watching Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, during which he challenged Mueller’s legal theories and framework and endeared himself to Trump and his GOP allies.

    She added that impeachment is “too good for” President Donald Trump, reiterating her opposition to launching impeachment proceedings even as a growing chorus of Democrats is calling for just that.

    The speaker’s remarks underscored Democrats’ deep frustrations with the White House’s refusal to comply with their oversight demands and subpoenas as part of their myriad investigations targeting the president and his administration.

    PHUCK THAT SHYT.

    IMPEACH HIM.

    PERIOD.

  27. 27
    trollhattan says:

    @karen marie:
    Trump is clearly somebody who excels at reading and manipulating others, both one on one and crowds. His intellectual heft by common metrics simply ain’t. Offer him a millyon dollars to prepare your taxes or remodel your kitchen or organize a seven-year old’s birthday party and he’s out of his element, Donny.

  28. 28
    oldgold says:

    ..as he did when Harris’s questioning revealed he hadn’t bothered to examine the underlying evidence in the Mueller probe . .

    Hell, I think it is reasonably clear he hadn’t bothered to read the entire Mueller Report.

  29. 29
    trollhattan says:

    @Professor Bigfoot:
    To be fair, he has people to do that for him. He’s busy with executive time.

  30. 30
    rikyrah says:

    Barr makes dubious legal claims; letter exposes rift with Muller
    Rachel Maddow reports on how Robert Mueller’s letter to William Barr exposes the distance between Mueller’s intentions and Barr’s treatment of Mueller’s report. Maddow also shares highlights of Barr’s ignominious testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  31. 31
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @tobie:

    I don’t get why a majority of Americans believe Trump’s a crook but still don’t support impeachment. It’s mystifying.

    I suspect that it is along the same lines as some of the opposition to recalling Walker in 2011-12. Some see it as an attempt to overturn the results of an election.*

    *Before anyone tries to jump on me for this, it is not my opinion at all – just something that I believe is out there.

  32. 32
    different-church-lady says:

    @tobie: Pelosi is wrestling with the problem of how to go at a king and not miss. This is not a problem with a fast solution, nor a stationary target.

  33. 33
    Betty Cracker says:

    @tobie: Regarding what we can do, my anti-despair elixir lately has been volunteering for organizations that expand the electorate by registering and educating voters and helping folks get the ID they need to vote in states that require it. Right now, I’m devoting zero time to party politics and 100% of my volunteer efforts to that.

    I don’t mean that as a knock on party politics; I expect I’ll get involved the local party organization in my new county eventually. But right now, I think the most pressing problem is that tens of millions of people who are otherwise eligible to vote either don’t know what they need or lack the documents to exercise their franchise, so working with an organization like VoteRiders.org makes me feel like I’m doing something to address this catastrophuck.

  34. 34
    narya says:

    @dww44: One spark of hope for me–and it’s a small one, admittedly–is that Mueller did, in fact, put it to paper. He gave Barr the opportunity to do the right thing, i.e., Mueller played by the rules–and he has also shown willingness to ensure that this message gets out. I don’t want to hang all of my hopes on that, of course, and these thieves and scoundrels and assholes are wrecking the place. But I have to have something.

    Edited to add: I also think that it is in some ways in Mueller’s interests to let Barr perform as he did yesterday–on the record, in front of the Senate, under oath.

  35. 35
    Humdog says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: An election where one party sought out help from a hostile foreign power, where the foreign power ratfucked with voters’ minds. I know you get it, but I still cannot follow why the polls do not.

    In my dysfunctional family, anyone who brought up that what was going on was crazy was shamed. They got madder at the ones who spoke up that there was an elephant in the room shitting up the place than at the people who let the elephant in and kept feeding it.

  36. 36
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I think that’s part of it. Like you, I don’t agree, but I also believe it’s out there.

    @different-church-lady: Bingo. She’s earned my trust. I don’t think she’s infallible, but she knows a hell of a lot more about how this works than I do.

  37. 37
    Mart says:

    @cope:

    Every day, every hour something new and different pops into view and the collective attention is directed down a different path. I fear that when (if) we ever come to our senses, it will be too late, the basic structure of our country will be so vastly corrupted that I will never live to see any reckoning.

    That is pretty high up the list for how to create a fascist state. Our new normal is so bizarrely different from just two years ago. Will be very hard to dial back to the old norms.

  38. 38
    tobie says:

    @Betty Cracker: I agree. My local Democratic club does do voter registration drives but in a lackluster manner. We could team up with the NAACP and go to every housing project in the county to sign up voters but no one seems interested. That’s what I meant about a push from the DNC to all local clubs. You’ve got committed members there who would do something because, like all of us, they’re scared shitless by this administration’s lawlessness. I should connect with the League of Women Voters in my state to see what they’re doing. Will put that on my to-do list.

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    That paragraph doesn’t hold together in a logical way. Impeachment is “too good for him” so she’s not going to do it?

    I suspect some sleight of hand by Politico. The MSM is desperate to back the Democrats into a corner where they can claim that the Denocrats are liars and cheats if they move towards impeachment. I think they’re misconstruing what Pelosi said to continue those claims.

    And I think it’s driving the MSM nuts that the Democrats are not leaking their plans.

  40. 40
    tobie says:

    @different-church-lady: Thanks. That’s a succinct explanation and I think you’re right.

  41. 41

    @Mnemosyne: She may not want to reveal her hand yet. She has been the only politician so far to beat T at his own game. I trust her political instincts more than those of random blog commenters or MSM pundits for that matter.

  42. 42
    lamh36 says:

    Kamala Harris response to reports that Chump caller her “nasty”

    https://twitter.com/notcapnamerica/status/1123940627153063942?s=21

  43. 43
    jc says:

    What is now obvious from everything we’ve seen is that Donald Trump is a dirty cheater. He’s been a dirty cheater his whole life. He’s gotten away with lies and deceit for so long he’s convinced himself that he’s entitled to beat the system. He thinks he’s clever, and he thinks his supporters are suckers — and he’s right! It’s pathological at this point. He’s the shark and the American public are the marks.

    What does a casino do with a chronic cheater? They ban him. But what’s to be done when the “house” is cheating? They have to be exposed and shut down for running a dirty operation. No one with any sense will continue to patronize that establishment. If you believe the management is honest and you keep going back, you’re worse than a fool.

  44. 44
    Baud says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Yeah, the media manipulates selected quotes all the time.

  45. 45

    Not confident, but hopeful. We have to hang on to hope. There’s a thin line between pointing out how much we have left to do and giving in to despair, and we need to take care to keep on the right side of it.

  46. 46
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @Eural Joiner:
    Well then, I guess we should all just give up and accept that Trump is God, is that right, comrade?

  47. 47
    kindness says:

    The form of government we have here, a Republic (if we can keep it), is based upon shared visions and goals. Not every goal but the big ones. The current Republican Party has turned it’s back on this premise with the idea that it can have it all. Ever since Newt Gingrich advised his fellow Republicans to never speak of a Democrat or a Democratic initiative without also using ugly adjectives/adverbs in describing them, Republicans have crept this way. Fueled by uber-wealthy daddies (the Kochs et al) and Fox little by little they have pushed their narrative so that now someone espousing Democratic views is a traitor.

    Republicans have become even better good Germans than Gobbels ever could have imagined. Since they no longer share our view of a functional Republic and will use the apparatus and power of the state to subjugate us, it’s war. Getting the MSM to understand and state this clearly is how we start the fight because right now too many of the MSM are still shallow shits on any subject. We are in deep shit right now and I only hope we can make it till November 2020. I’m beginning to worry about that actually.

  48. 48
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @different-church-lady: excellent description of the issue.

  49. 49
    japa21 says:

    Two comments.

    Regarding impeachment, I believe the groundwork has to be laid through hearings and, yes, the lack of cooperation from the administration. Every time they refuse a subpoena someone, somewhere changes their mind about impeachment. Then switch to regular impeachment hearings. I am tired about hearing about the political risk. Quite honestly, if this country rejects the Dems because they do the right thing, then this is not a country I want to live in any longer.

    Secondly, was listening to a little bit of Nancy this morning and she has come up with, I think, a new nickname for the Turtle. She calls him the Grim Reaper because he will kill any legislation she send to the Senate. She is making clear that te whole responsibility for things not happening falls on the GOP’s shoulders, specially McConnell’s. I think she knows he is vulnerable in KY next year.

  50. 50
    jimmiraybob says:

    I once heard, a couple decades or so ago, Pat Buchanan declare that he would be just fine if America had a king as long as he was benevolent (and presumably Catholic). I thought that this was odd then but have come to realize that it reflects an age-old American undercurrent. To put it old school, what Barr, on behalf of Trump, is doing is trying to establish the old European notion of the King is the Law (Rex Lex) – that the king’s word and whim is the law. This was the old tradition emphatically supported by the Church.

    This is diametrically opposed to the Law is King (Lex Rex) principle established in the American Constitution, as championed by the founding generations and that has been the backbone of American legal, political, and social traditions and norms ever since. Ask any “constitutional” conservative Republican.///////

    They are trying to reverse the Revolution that gave us aspirational goals, egalitarian notions and protection of iinalienable rights.

  51. 51
    dmsilev says:

    Via TPM, Pelosi is not mincing words:

    Speaker Pelosi just spoke before reporters on Capitol Hill and was clear on two key points. President Trump’s blanket refusal to honor subpoenas is itself obstruction of justice. Also, Bill Barr committed a crime when he lied to Congress. Lying to Congress carries a jail sentence. Video after the jump.

  52. 52
    Gravenstone says:

    @japa21: As likely she’s working to ensure that he’s vulnerable next year.

  53. 53
  54. 54
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I suspect that it is along the same lines as some of the opposition to recalling Walker in 2011-12. Some see it as an attempt to overturn the results of an election.*

    Yup, I think this is just what it is. A lot of people want him gone but think that impeachment, like a recall, is a dirty trick of a way to accomplish it. They want to prevail in a fair fight. To do anything else smacks of being a bad sport. It’s strange IMHO that liberals would care about this but, for whatever reason, we do appear to.

  55. 55
    TimInDC says:

    First comment but long time reader.

    We’ve been in a cold civil war for a LONG time. The super rich, white nationalists, and Christians know they can’t have the country they want under a democracy, so democracy must go. And we on the left seem fine with arguing about white nationalists and plutocrats but we won’t address the problem of Christianity. Until we address Christianity, and until we admit that this isn’t fixable through democratic means or elections and that we have to throw the rules out the window as well all is lost.

    When they scream about FEMA camps and banning of Christianity and violence against them they are telling us not only what they would do to us, but the only thing that will stop them. Until we wake up to this fact and start grasping how far things are and that no elections are going to save us this is all pissing in the wind.

    It’s over, it’s been over for a while. Wake the fuck up.

  56. 56
    TomatoQueen says:

    Remembering the Watergate process (live daily on tv forever), I think Nancy SMASH is preparing for impeachment by appearing to be the restrained leader herding the cats as long as possible, in order to allow what will be the smoking gun sufficient time/space to develop. While she may or may not want impeachment, she knows the process has to be seen as orderly, and the only way to do that is to let it play, with firm hands steering. Like many others here I trust Nancy’s experience and purported reluctance to counter any potential frothing and foaming in the Judiciary or other committees, while allowing those committees to operate unconstrained. It’s a nice bit of balancing and good for the country.
    As for other efforts to combat the Fug, I recommend https://www.spreadthevote.org/ . Spread the Vote has been growing incrementally for months, has action groups in almost all if not all the oppression states, and is I think at a tipping point where with a little more time & momentum they will be more than tiny grassroots. I follow their fB and they do change lives, ID by ID by ID.

  57. 57
    japa21 says:

    @Gravenstone: His poll numbers in KY are way down. She intends to keep them that way.

  58. 58
    Another Scott says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yup.

    NPR ATC was discussing poll results on this yesterday. I suspect it very much depends on the background information given, and how the question is worded, but:

    Do you think Special Counsel Robert Mueller´s report investigating
    possible wrongdoing and Russian interference in the 2016 election
    should or should not lead to hearings in Congress to impeach
    President Trump?

    National Adults: Should 39%, Should not 53%, Unsure 8%
    Democrats: Should 70%, Should not 23%, Unsure 7%
    Republicans: Should 5%, Should not 91%, Unsure 4%
    Independents: Should 40%, Should not 51%, Unsure 9%

    Naturally, the ATC host was acting as if this decided the question for all time and that Democrats talking about impeachment are doomed for all time.

    Of course, those numbers will undoubtedly change as more comes out, but Democrats in the House and running for office need to be careful and keep aware of them. Once persuadable people decide that something is a partisan witch-hunt they generally stop paying attention. Especially, if the press is continuously hammering on the witch-huntiness of it…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  59. 59
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @Gravenstone:
    I’ve never seen that nym before. We’ve been trolled before around election time. Remember Right to Rise? I’m afraid it may be starting again

  60. 60
    rikyrah says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I hope that you have hooked up with Andrew Gillum’s group that’s trying to get as many former felons registered to vote.

  61. 61
    Cermet says:

    @Mart: LOL; AGW will not kill well off white people here and many non-whites will be ok, as well. While billions of fellow humans in 3rd world countries will suffer and many millions die, don’t get too upset about us wealthy people (compared to them, that is.) We are sitting fairly pretty. Don’t know if this is just completely damning for us or makes you realize our children aren’t facing death, just a very dangerous world that will suffer horribly. OK, that is really damning statement – fuck the 0.001% and the religions that support these murderous pricks

  62. 62
    rikyrah says:

    @japa21:

    @Gravenstone: His poll numbers in KY are way down. She intends to keep them that way.

    His last polls were at 18%.

  63. 63
    The Lodger says:

    @dww44: I’m not sure Mueller believed Barr would act honorably in handling the report. But I think Mueller had to set up the conditions for Barr to act like the nation’s AG, not a member of the president*s legal team. Now that Barr has shown he’s nothing other than Trump’s attorney, it’s time for Mueller to release the hounds.

  64. 64
    zhena gogolia says:

    I think it’s time for me to kick a few bucks Kamala’s way again.

  65. 65
    H.E.Wolf says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Regarding what we can do, my anti-despair elixir lately has been volunteering for organizations that expand the electorate by registering and educating voters and helping folks get the ID they need to vote in states that require it.

    Thank you for this! Action is effective against despair.

    May we please have a front-page post (on a regular basis, if possible) where we can all contribute information about our various volunteer efforts?

    I found it lifted my spirits, and kept me motivated, when I heard about individual commenters’ political volunteering in the 2018 campaign cycle. Now’s a good time to ramp up our efforts for 2020.

  66. 66
    tobie says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: @Another Scott: You’re likely right that if impeachment is seen as a witch hunt or an attempt to overturn an election, it will end badly for Democrats. I don’t know how the Democrats can get the ‘story’ of the Mueller report out there if Republicans stonewall. Calling Hollywood. Can someone make a movie of the Mueller investigation before the election???

  67. 67
    Eural Joiner says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷:

    No, I’m not there yet…but damn some days are harder than others :(
    (And I teach government classes in high school – very hard to keep pushing all the “participate” and “rule of law” stuff with all of this constant bombardment of criminality)

  68. 68
    TomatoQueen says:

    @Eural Joiner: I was a senior in high school taking AP US Hist and some ancillary classes in 72/73, courses taught by our history dept chair. He looked a bit like Stubby Kaye, and made us all go stuff envelopes and otherwise hang about party headquarters–didn’t matter which party, as long as we were in there pitching. What a teenager learned was that it’s never so good as when it’s very very bad, and that is because of citizen participation and respect for the rule of law–and knowing how that works. Eyes on the Prize, Hand on the Plow.

  69. 69

    @Another Scott: Judy Woodruff at PBS NewsHour is pretty horrible too. Adversarial when interviewing Ds and a drooling lap dog while interviewing Rs.

  70. 70
    mad citizen says:

    @The Moar You Know: Are you using “order of magnitude” in a general words sense, or the scientific meaning of 10x more? If the latter, that would mean Putin is a trillionaire at approx. $1 trillion, going from Bezos or Gates having around $1000 billion.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do think Trump has Putin envy for sure; and how Putin raped his country to get his wealth is beyond deplorable.

  71. 71

    @Another Scott: I was listening to that piece, and was struck by several references to “70 percent of Democrats vs. 39 percent of Americans”. I”ve become more aware of, and irked by, NPR news’ coded language over the past few years.

  72. 72
    Another Scott says:

    @Subcommandante Yakbreath: Yup. I was yelling at the radio at times. Most of their anchors and reporters are so immersed in the bubble that they have no idea how slanted their coverage is at times. One has to keep one’s wits about them when listening to the news…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  73. 73
    mad citizen says:

    @tobie: Given our slide into Idiocracy as a nation, the whole thing will need to boiled down to a meme that is then shown for a third of a second in a Taylor Swift video.

  74. 74
    J R in WV says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    And I think it’s driving the MSM nuts that the Democrats are not leaking their plans.

    You’re sure we have a plan? Once I was, but now I wonder…

  75. 75
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Subcommandante Yakbreath: I can’t even listen to NPR anymore. I’ve been so over their shit for a decade at least. And I say this as someone who was an employee and volunteer at public radio stations for years.

  76. 76
    Tim C. says:

    @Eural Joiner: Fun fact. I teach AP Gov myself. In the worst kind of lily-white exurban psedo-libertarian, but really hard core conservative area you can imagine. Buckle in and stick it out. Our job is to be about the rule of law. You and I can’t take a side in class of course, even if one side is really angels and the others demons. That doesn’t even work. But you absolutely MUST hammer on the rule of law and that being “how it is supposed to work” It doesn’t all the time, we know this: Jackson and the Trail of Tears. Civil War and Slavery, Japanese Internment, the list feels endless.

    We fight anyway. Maybe we win, maybe we go down in flames. But we fight. Your and my position means we can’t do all that we wish we could, but we set up the real rules about the way it’s supposed to be. It’s heart-breaking, yes, but it’s what we do.

  77. 77
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Idiot Moore is out. “Withdrawing” his nomination.

    I guess he’s not so stupid that he can’t count.

  78. 78
    p.a. says:

    We need all the allies we can get, people of good will. Although I’m an atheist, I’ve long appreciated Fred Clark’s (Slacktivist) and Rachel Held Evans’ Christian takes on the slope we are on. Just found out RHE has dire physical issues, has been in a m.i. coma for some time. If you’re unfamiliar with her work do a search. There’s a GoFundMe set up.

  79. 79
    Felanius Kootea says:

    The only thing the Republican Party wants is power for power’s sake even if they destroy the country in the process. I believe Nancy Pelosi understands that. We need to support her and the Dems not undermine them (I don’t mean BJ; I’ve been reading too many people on Twitter who seem more disgusted by Dem “inaction” than by 45 and Barr’s actions). There’s too much at stake here.

  80. 80
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Tim C.:

    Great comment.

  81. 81
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Subcommandante Yakbreath:

    What a nym!

  82. 82

    I am seeing comments from Ukraine experts that the Times has been taken for a ride (again) with the story about Hunter Biden. I don’t know enough detail to dispute it myself but will post something when one of those experts weighs in with an article or post.

  83. 83
    Brachiator says:

    I’ve always thought Trump, a Dollar Store-brand Putin wannabe, is too dumb and incompetent to completely subvert our democracy to the extent more capable autocrats have achieved.

    Authoritarians don’t have to be smart. Few are or have been.

    An autocrat doesn’t even have to have smart assistants. But they have to be able to relentlessly push forward to carry out the autocrat’s wishes.

    Trump has this. He also has the wiling support and active co-operation of the Republican leadership. And he has the right wing media firmly in his pocket.

    We have a slow rolling soft autocracy. When federal agencies fight back, Trump replaces agency heads with compliant appointees. He may have more acting heads of agencies than any other president. Checking. Yep, he does, and he uses this to consolidate his power:

    The Senate’s vote this week to confirm former oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for interior secretary means there’s one less temp in President Trump’s cabinet. It brings the number of acting heads of agencies and Cabinet departments from 13 to 12. More than any other president, Trump has used short-term appointments to keep the government running. NPR’s Kelsey Snell reports that all that churn means the power in the White House is growing as the checks and balances of the Senate start to vanish….

    (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I like acting because I can move so quickly. It gives me more flexibility.

    Trump combines this with executive orders as part of his method of running the government like a business, one of his businesses.

    Trump is also clearly trying to undermine independent agencies like the Federal Reserve Board, which so far has brushed off his attempts to direct monetary policy.

    The last leg in this process is his attempt to pack the courts with people who will do his bidding, sign off on his crazier proposals.

    The Democrats in the House can slow him down, but unless the Democrats can also take the Senate, the GOP leadership will continue to give aid and comfort to the enemies of democracy.

  84. 84
    Mandalay says:

    @Another Scott:

    Of course, those numbers will undoubtedly change as more comes out…

    Undoubtedly?

    I guess a few Democrats might be more willing to have hearings if some spectacular new information emerges, but otherwise I don’t think the numbers will change very much at all.

  85. 85
    jk says:

    OT

    Reuters has a detailed article updating Trump’s ongoing violations of the emoluments clause

    The U.S. State Department allowed at least seven foreign governments to rent luxury condominiums in New York’s Trump World Tower in 2017 without approval from Congress, according to documents and people familiar with the leases, a potential violation of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause.

    h/t https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-emoluments-exclusive/exclusive-foreign-government-leases-at-trump-world-tower-stir-more-emoluments-concerns-idUSKCN1S80PP

  86. 86
    Felanius Kootea says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Oh Thank God. Stupidity combined with cruelty and arrogance seem to be the defining characteristics of Trumpers. They can be defeated with pushback even as they try to simply tire us out.

  87. 87
    Brachiator says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    diot Moore is out. “Withdrawing” his nomination.

    The country got lucky this time. Let’s see what other idiot Trump dredges up next.

  88. 88
    Karen says:

    Even if he loses in the Supreme Court for every subpoena the House issued, he’ll ignore it anyway so what’s the point of impeaching when the Senate won’t play ball?

  89. 89
    Martin says:

    @The Lodger: Barr has been consistent with the belief that it’s impossible under US law for the President to obstruct justice. Given that, the report contained no value to him because the conclusions didn’t matter anyway. That’s why he could start writing his summary before the report was produced. That’s also why he backed Trumps view that this is a groundless investigation – because he believe it is. That’s how he got this job.

    Now, Mueller must know all of this. He knows Barr. He’s surely read Barrs appeal to get that job. So of course he made no conclusion on obstruction because under DOJ policy (independent of Barr being there) the president can’t be indicted, so there’s nothing to charge. Obstruction can only be a charge in an article of impeachment. I’m certain that Mueller believes that. Barr believes that. But for whatever reasons Democrats can’t wrap their head around that as they never really pressed that issue with Barr “Is there any circumstance where the president could be charged with obstruction of justice”. There were a few nods in that direction, but nobody forced the issue.

  90. 90
    different-church-lady says:

    @Felanius Kootea:

    The only thing the Republican Party wants is power for power’s sake even if they destroy the country in the process.

    “A boot stamping on a human face — forever.”

  91. 91
    Felanius Kootea says:

    @Brachiator: We have to be equally relentless in fighting back. Again, I grew up in a dictatorship. Dictators seem untouchable until they aren’t. When they fall, they seem so small and it seems incredible that they kept their grip for so long. Constant pushback is key. He isn’t there yet and there are millions of people who see what you see and are up to the task of pushing back here in the US. One man and one power-mad party can be defeated.

  92. 92
    Aleta says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: Not recognizing someone is not a reason to yell troll. We’ve been there before.

    No one has the right to use faulty judgement to drive someone off.

  93. 93
    Cacti says:

    I don’t think the average citizen understands how close we are to seeing the whole constitutional government/separation of powers/laws not men experiment fail completely.

    When you hand one branch of government over to an openly bad faith actor, intent on doing maximum harm, there are few recourses for fixing it under the constitution.

    It may reach the point that the House has to do something drastic, like withholding funds from the Executive Branch to compel compliance with the rule of law. And if they’re not prepared to use every tool at their disposal, then they’re conceding that the bad guys have won.

  94. 94

    @Miss Bianca: We have a great public radio station here in northeast PA, WVIA, whose staff still does almost all of the music programming. Makes the other stuff more tolerable…

  95. 95
    zhena gogolia says:

    Here’s a really good thread on impeaching Barr. I have no idea who this person is, but Asha Rangappa sent me to her.

    https://twitter.com/Teri_Kanefield/status/1123967430504665089

  96. 96
    Brachiator says:

    Another thing about Trump. He loves to lie. And he loves the fact that his staff and the GOP will happily back up his lies.

    He has set a record for mendacity.

    Since the inauguration, a team of journalists at The Washington Post has kept a tally of every “false or misleading claim” the president has made. (CNN recently dubbed its leader, Glenn Kessler, “one of the busiest men in America.”) Yesterday, the Post confirmed that Trump has roared past the 10,000 mark: as of Saturday, he’d made 10,111 bogus claims in 828 days in office.

    That works out to roughly 12 per day, 85 per week, or 370 per month. Trump has fibbed at rallies (2,217 times), on Twitter (1,803 times), and in speeches (999 times), among other settings.

    About one-fifth of Trump’s false or misleading statements have concerned immigration; he’s said his border wall is being built—his most-repeated junk claim—160 times.

    Trump as recently started ramping up the lies about abortion.

    The media, not understanding that they have an active duty to protect democracy, continue to try to place nice, curry favor, or be “fair and objective.”

    While the Post has kept score, journalists have debated how we should characterize these claims. As Trump lied his way through the early days of his presidency, many prominent outlets hesitated to deploy the L-word. …

    On NPR, Mary Louise Kelly consulted the Oxford English Dictionary. A lie is “‘a false statement made with intent to deceive.’ ‘Intent’ being the key word there,” she said. “Without the ability to peer into Donald Trump’s head, I can’t tell you what his intent was.”

  97. 97
  98. 98
    trollhattan says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    Moore out? This is a good thing. I’ll bet the current Fed is having an early, extended happy hour right now.

    Now Trump gives us yet two more charlatans for the Fed, but they’ll at least be different charlatans.

  99. 99
    Gravenstone says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: Just because you (and I mean that in the generic sense here, you’re far from the only offender) don’t recognize a nym – the leap to declaring someone with whom you might disagree to be a Russian troll is lazy, foolish and juvenile. Yes, the site does indeed have its share of trolls. And they, along with the information we’ve learned about the various social engineering programs deployed during 2016 have done entirely too much to get too many people here to question the motives of anyone who might not fit into their specific circle of belief at that particular moment. It needs to stop.

  100. 100
    TenguPhule says:

    Top House Republican says he agrees Trump was subject to a ‘coup’ attempt

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Thursday that he agrees with Trump’s assessment that he was the subject of an attempted “coup” during the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Appearing at a Washington Post Live event, McCarthy pointed to text messages between two senior FBI officials involved in the probe of possible connections between Trump associates and Russia that showed an intense dislike of Trump and fear that he might win.

    “Their actions are a coup,” McCarthy told post reporter Robert Costa, who pressed the top Republican in the House on whether he believed the word “coup” was appropriate.

    “I do not believe they were abiding by the rule of law based on what they said,” McCarthy said, also suggesting those involved in the probe were biased against Trump.

    The Republicans are increasingly convinced that Democratic oversight is illegal. This is not the time to keep the powder dry.

  101. 101
    Skepticat says:

    Creeping? Try GALLOPING.

  102. 102
    TenguPhule says:

    @Gravenstone:

    And they, along with the information we’ve learned about the various social engineering programs deployed during 2016 have done entirely too much to get too many people here to question the motives of anyone who might not fit into their specific circle of belief at that particular moment.

    And that was probably one of Russia’s goals too. And damn has it been effective.

  103. 103
    Eural Joiner says:

    @TomatoQueen:

    Thanks for sharing…just got back from a giant teacher rally yesterday (10,000+ at the State House!) and it was refreshing to run into former students who were doing good/great things. But, damn, I’m really starting to have issues with all the “testing the waters” crap – we are in a constitutional crisis. Democratic leadership needs to step up regardless of the supposed “costs” – if our only choices are we either go down on our knees or go down fighting, I’ll take the later. And if we fight we might just win.

  104. 104
    Cacti says:

    @TenguPhule:

    They have increasingly adopted the position that democracy, voting, and elections interfere with their divine right to rule. I don’t think we’re far away from seeing them become an openly anti-democratic (small d) party.

  105. 105
    TenguPhule says:

    I’ve always thought Trump, a Dollar Store-brand Putin wannabe, is too dumb and incompetent to completely subvert our democracy to the extent more capable autocrats have achieved.

    Its hard to defend against stupid tyrants because they’re too clever by half. And their supporters are even dumber then they are, but also willing to do whatever it takes to stay on top.

  106. 106
    TenguPhule says:

    @Cacti:

    I don’t think we’re far away from seeing them become an openly anti-democratic (small d) party.

    I’m pretty sure they crossed that rubicon after the 2018 election.

  107. 107
    comrade scotts agenda of rage says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    I can’t even listen to NPR anymore. I’ve been so over their shit for a decade at least.

    I stopped giving 15+ years ago and went cold turkey, stopped listening, 4 years ago. News is meant to inform, not enrage.

    And that’s what NPR does on a daily basis. They are traditional media which is corporate media. It’s all about ratings, clicks, subscriptions, whatever. Taking moral stances against one party will cost them income, thus they’re unwilling to do that. As such, those directives come down from above and affects the reporting culture. I’ve had my Villager friend flat out tell me this when she worked for a print media outlet.

    Don’t forget who the prime consumer of traditional media is, NPR being an excellent example. The typical listener is 55-58 years old, makes around 90K a year, is white and has been brainwashed since 1980 that BOTH SIDES DO IT! In other words NPR programming targets upper middle class moderates who are close to retirement. Outside of the 1%, that’s the most comfortable group in America. If traditional media were too responsive to the unwashed, partisan masses, they would alienate their base and their corporate sponsors. See previous paragraph.

  108. 108
    Repatriated says:

    @Martin: The question is, why not? I can’t imagine it didn’t occur to them to ask.

    It may be that they’d prefer to get as much evidence (or in the alternative, provoke as much stonewalling) as possible into the public record before forcing the GOP to play the Nixonian “if the President does it, it’s not illegal” card. That’s the Administration’s ultimate fallback position in any case.

    The first alternative leads to “this is what happened, and yet they say it’s not illegal.” The second leads to “they say it’s not illegal, so why are they trying to cover it up?”.

    If the Nixonian framing gets put into play first, it could preempt the other alternatives — but it has it’s own risks.

  109. 109
    TenguPhule says:

    @Brachiator:

    A lie is “‘a false statement made with intent to deceive.’ ‘Intent’ being the key word there,” she said. “Without the ability to peer into Donald Trump’s head, I can’t tell you what his intent was.”

    Our media is fucked then.

  110. 110
    Hitlesswonder says:

    It’s insane that media cannot bring themselves to state that lies are lies. It’s transparently obvious and yet reporters still quibble about calling lies lies, and treat each new one just as “the President said today”.

    The United States has failed in a fundamental way. Not complying with congressional oversight is breaking the oath to uphold the constitution, and yet it’s reported on as no big-deal (Democrats just playing political games). When challenged with an elected president that flouts laws, the media and too many people in this country have supported him or acquiesced. Tan suits and coffee salutes can be scandals because everyone knows they don’t matter. A President willing to bribe foreign countries to attack political rivals….not a scandal because actual illegality is too disturbing to admit. So it must be OK.

  111. 111
    Brachiator says:

    @Felanius Kootea:

    We have to be equally relentless in fighting back. Again, I grew up in a dictatorship. Dictators seem untouchable until they aren’t. When they fall, they seem so small and it seems incredible that they kept their grip for so long.

    I think you are right on the money here. Trump is only able to subvert democracy because the Republicans enable and assist him.

  112. 112
    TenguPhule says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I guess he’s not so stupid that he can’t count.

    No, we know he’s too stupid to count given that he can’t tell the difference between the market rising and falling.

    He’s just smart enough to take marching orders.

  113. 113
    TenguPhule says:

    @Cacti:

    It may reach the point that the House has to do something drastic, like withholding funds from the Executive Branch to compel compliance with the rule of law.

    We’ve already seen Trump’s response when he was denied funding for his wall.

  114. 114
    rikyrah says:

    @trollhattan:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    Moore out? This is a good thing. I’ll bet the current Fed is having an early, extended happy hour right now.

    They have to be breathing a sigh of relief.

  115. 115
    TenguPhule says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Trump is a genius at leveraging structural dyfunctions that already exist.

    Its not so much structural dysfunction as it is “Republicans have decided that the only things Nazis did wrong was keep excellent records and not maintain a pretense of Democracy while committing their crimes.”

  116. 116
    TenguPhule says:

    @rikyrah:

    They have to be breathing a sigh of relief.

    Sadly, there is another nominee just as stupid as Moore to be dealt with still.

  117. 117
    Eural Joiner says:

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/pelosi-barr-and-trump-are-committing-crimes

    Well, what a difference a few hours makes :)
    I agree with the general concept of “if you come for the king, don’t miss” etc. and I also have had great trust in Pelosi’s political sense…hope this is the opening of a new and effective front against Trump’s crime cartel. Damn, I feel like I’ve aged a decade in the past two years….

  118. 118
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Could even be from the Bernistas – I recall our old friend BiP was all over Hunter Biden back in the day.

    I wonder how often Tad Devine talks to his old buddy Paul Manafort these days.

  119. 119
    Cacti says:

    @TenguPhule:

    But that money had already been budgeted and appropriated. I’m talking about withholding a budget entirely for the coming fiscal year. You can’t pilfer money that isn’t there. Desperate times, desperate measures.

  120. 120
    TenguPhule says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Some see it as an attempt to overturn the results of an election.

    I would note without irony that this same mindset is also why Brexit has completely fucked up our ally GB.

  121. 121
    Starfish says:

    @TenguPhule: Deny funding for his trips to Mar-a-Lago. Deny funding for his staff buying expensive bottles of alcohol at Mar-a-Lago.

  122. 122
    Cacti says:

    @TenguPhule:

    I sometimes ask righties if Memorial Day has become awkward for them, since they decided that Germany were the good guys of WWII.

  123. 123
    Ruckus says:

    @different-church-lady:
    Not sure he’s a genius at that, he’s just extremely willing to do seemingly anything illegal and/or immoral in his quest for monetary enrichment. If he was smart he’d be a lot better at that.

  124. 124
    TenguPhule says:

    @Cacti:

    I’m talking about withholding a budget entirely for the coming fiscal year. You can’t pilfer money that isn’t there.

    As we’ve seen, Trump has no problems making government employees work without pay.

    And with Mnuchin still at treasury, I am not confident that Trump wouldn’t try an end run around Congress, justifying it as an “emergency” or for “National Security”. There’s money that he’s not supposed to be able to touch, like SS and Medicare, not to mention government pensions or military & science projects, but all of that relies on rules, laws and norms that have to actually be enforced against him by….the Dept of Justice.

  125. 125
    Aleta says:

    About hope (my bold)

    Legal Defense Fund @NAACP_LDF
    Trump’s 100th judge was just confirmed. The Senate continues to disregard red flags in its effort to confirm shockingly unqualified judges. Many have disturbing records on #civilrights, threatening the rights of people of color, women and other marginalized communities.

    Imani Gandy @AngryBlackLady
    Imani Gandy Retweeted Legal Defense Fund

    *silent scream*

    Please do not kid yourself and think that any of these judges are going to be impeached. The time to prevent this crap was 2016. The courts are screwed for a generation.

    Caveat: The *federal* courts are screwed for a generation. State courts are different.

    The Kansas S.Ct. just found a fundamental right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution.
    The Montana S.Ct. blocked a law prohibiting nurses from providing abortions.

    All hope is not lost.

    Imani Gandy @AngryBlackLady
    Anyhoo, if you live in a state that elects its judges, you should definitely vote in those elections.

    That’s a good question to bring to a fight, like when I answer the email today from my Bernie/Tulsi type relative. “Does your state elect judges? Do you vote in those elections?” He’s in CA (so yes to 1). In advance, I’ll bet he doesn’t vote when he decides “everyone is corrupt.” I could be wrong.

  126. 126
    TenguPhule says:

    @Starfish:

    Deny funding for his trips to Mar-a-Lago.

    The House could designate that money appropriated for the executive travel budget can’t be used for his weekend getaways, but good luck getting that past a challenge in Court.

    It would be an infringement of the inherent power of another branch of government.

  127. 127
    Ruckus says:

    @Mart:
    The one thing that a lot of people seem to refuse to acknowledge is that we all die, in any event. It isn’t that we die, it’s how decent we live getting there, and how we leave the place when we go.

  128. 128
    J R in WV says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷:

    He has commented before, but Google shows that his comments are always during an election season. So you’re right, an election troll. Hard to say if he’s right wing, left wing, wing nut. I’m betting on the wing nut.

  129. 129
    Death Panel Truck says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    He is neither dumb nor incompetent

    Donald Trump is a gibbering idiot who couldn’t find his ass with a roadmap. it’s the people around him who are really in control and doing all the damage.

  130. 130
    TenguPhule says:

    @Eural Joiner: And this is why Pelosi and Schumer did themselves no favors meeting with Trump yesterday.

    The obvious rejoinder to accusing Trump of being a crook from our feckless media is “If he’s a crook, why were you trying to work with him?”

  131. 131
    Karen says:

    Are the words not legal and illegal the same?

  132. 132
    TenguPhule says:

    @Karen:

    Even if he loses in the Supreme Court for every subpoena the House issued, he’ll ignore it anyway so what’s the point of impeaching when the Senate won’t play ball?

    Sometimes you have to do the right thing because its the right thing to do.

  133. 133
    The Moar You Know says:

    Just because you (and I mean that in the generic sense here, you’re far from the only offender) don’t recognize a nym – the leap to declaring someone with whom you might disagree to be a Russian troll is lazy, foolish and juvenile.

    @Gravenstone: SOP for Goku, who is the original type of troll, i.e. a moron who waltzes onto a board and decides they’re the arbiter of everything after a few months.

    I did recognize the poster. Someone who has never been a big poster, and someone who I have not seen in a while.

    The rest of your post, Gravenstone, which I did not include, is good advice.

  134. 134
    TenguPhule says:

    the alternative may be to let this massive and compounding abuse of power stand and hope that there’s enough of a democratic framework left in November 2020 to clean house then. I’m not confident that will be the case, especially in light of this bogus investigation involving Joe Biden. Are you?

    Not at all.

  135. 135
    VeniceRiley says:

    @TenguPhule: SCOTUS is going to be next up for a wakeup call on how toothless they are. The executive branch won’t comply or enforce any of their orders. I mean, Barr will say Trump can break any law he wants with no consequences until he is no longer POTUS; so. I won’t be shocked, but they will.

  136. 136
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Felanius Kootea: I’ve noticed a pattern when people with experience of other authoritarian states talk about the current US situation. People with experience of post-Soviet autocracies are extremely pessimistic: “all is lost already, elections are a joke, institutions won’t save you.” People with experience of Latin American, East Asian, Middle Eastern or African autocracies seem to think it’s not nearly that dire, they’ve seen way worse and useful resistance is possible. I wonder why this split exists.

  137. 137
    Gravenstone says:

    @TenguPhule: Cain withdrew last week.

  138. 138
    trollhattan says:

    Nancy SMASH had her weekly presser.

    “What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the congress of the United States. That’s a crime,” she said. Later, Pelosi was asked bluntly if she believes Barr committed a crime.

    She said this: “He lied to Congress. And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law. Not the President of the United States and not the attorney general.”

    When asked if she believe Barr should go to jail, Pelosi said “there’s a process involved here” and added that “the committee will act upon how we will proceed.”

    She should stop equivocating. //

  139. 139
    Eural Joiner says:

    @J R in WV:

    Are you talking about me? If so, that’s funny as hell – I’ve been reading/commenting on BJ for years (not a lot of comments, I generally find everyone else’s stuff better) and I’ve even emailed John a couple of times about relevant stuff I thought he might be interested in (but he never replied…:(). I’m pretty liberal – D voter going waaaaay back to Obama. In fact, my daughter served as a White House intern during that wonderful Fall of 2016 and got to experience Washington up close for the election and during parts of the transition. Fascinating stuff and, as it turns out, a sad harbinger of things to come. Hey, I’m so lame at the whole social media thingie I just use my real name in my posts – check me out on FB or tweeter if you still think I’m a Russian bot/troll/whatever. I have a really cute dog named Piper :)

  140. 140
    trollhattan says:

    @Gravenstone:
    He had a prepaid vacation booking in Uzbeki-beki-beki-stanistan.

  141. 141
    Brachiator says:

    @TenguPhule:

    The obvious rejoinder to accusing Trump of being a crook from our feckless media is “If he’s a crook, why were you trying to work with him?”

    Because he is the fucking president of the United States.

  142. 142
    TenguPhule says:

    @Brachiator:

    Because he is the fucking president of the United States.

    McConnell and Boehner showed us all exactly what that’s good for when it comes to cooperation.

  143. 143
    TenguPhule says:

    @Gravenstone: Okay, so some good news then.

  144. 144
    TenguPhule says:

    A letter from White House lawyer Emmet Flood argues the administration has the right to tell advisors not to testify before Congress.

    White House lawyer Emmet Flood argued in a letter obtained by Reuters that the administration could exert executive privilege to prevent staff from testifying before Congress.

    Congressional investigators are especially interested in the testimony of former White House lawyer Don McGahn, who became an important voice in the Mueller report.

    From the Reuters report:

    It is one thing for a president to encourage complete cooperation and transparency in a criminal investigation conducted largely within the Executive Branch. It is something else entirely to allow his advisers to appear before Congress…” the letter said.

    The letter also criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller for declining to conclude whether Trump obstructed justice, which he said should be left up to Congress.

  145. 145
    Karen says:

    @VeniceRiley: If he doesn’t obey the Supreme Court, then why would he obey the Election 2020 results on the odd chance that Trump “loses?”Or at the “end” of his term?

  146. 146
    zhena gogolia says:

    @J R in WV:

    Yeah, I’m wondering why everyone’s being so hard on Goku.

  147. 147
    Millard Filmore says:

    @Cermet:

    AGW will not kill well off white people here and many non-whites will be ok, as well.

    You are way more optimistic than I am. When the oceans rise 15 to 20 meters that will flood most of the industrial capability of the world. Transportation over the oceans will break down through loss of ports and lack of spare parts. Just-in-time manufacturing can’t get supplied from China? Lay everyone off. The economy will collapse. I can’t see the Koch brothers cutting loose with the money needed to keep things together. Factory farms need oil and chemicals. Good luck with that. Are you able to grow your own food? That will help. Do you have enough guns and ammo to keep it from that Patriotic Militia the next county over?

    When we get the AGW heat spike, today’s wealth will not be the determining factor of your survival.

  148. 148
    Mo MacArbie says:

    Wait, wut? The ocean will rise 20 meters in the time it takes to get next month’s chip order in? I think we’ll have bigger problems than the economy then.

  149. 149
    Chris Johnson says:

    @Eural Joiner: Because there are no trolls on Twitter XD

  150. 150
    Ksmiami says:

    @TenguPhule: do we even want to share this country with Republicans? Hmm and what would be the point?

  151. 151
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    I am calling it here, I give Barr two months before Trump tosses him overboard Barr has done the hit Trump wanted but looked bad yesterday on national TV and Trump don’t like that so the death timer has started for Barr.

  152. 152
    TenguPhule says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: I wish I had your confidence.

  153. 153
    Taobhan says:

    I agree with you, Betty. Just by himself, Trump is far too stupid and incompetent to wreck our democratic republic and things would probably return to normal after he’s gone. But he’s getting a LOT of help from a political party and supporters who are fine with ending the American experiment with democracy and replacing it with an autocracy/kleptocracy that’s based on nothing but raw power. We’re at a serious inflection point in our country and, if it tips the wrong way, we could well lose most of the things that are good about it. That’s a depressing thought.

  154. 154
    TomatoQueen says:

    @Eural Joiner: For so long as there are those of us doing your kind of service, we are fighting. And we will win.

  155. 155
    Eural Joiner says:

    @Chris Johnson:
    True!
    But I said check “tweeter” which is a totally different, non-troll media site! (Also, I’m a dumb ass)

  156. 156
    Another Scott says:

    @Mandalay: Yeah, undoubtedly.

    One can argue that Mueller’s report has had zero impact so far.

    Time (July 2017):

    A new Monmouth University poll found that 41% of respondents think that Trump should be impeached and made to leave office, compared to 53% who disagree. These responses were to the same question asked by the Gallup Poll in July 1973 at the beginning of the Watergate scandal. But at that time, 24% of Americans wanted to impeach Nixon, and 62% were opposed.

    What were the national NPR numbers again? 39% impeachment now, 53% no.

    It takes time for public opinion to turn, and turn it does as more information comes out. And it will.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  157. 157
    Ruckus says:

    @tobie:
    Study Nixon’s fall.
    He acted like nothing was going on right up till the end. There wasn’t enough support from most people right up till there was. From that moment till he was gone was almost able to be measured in minutes.
    There is a tipping point. Always. This time it will take longer because of the last 4 decades of political life in this country. Hopefully that point won’t come too late.

  158. 158
    PenAndKey says:

    @The Moar You Know: Hell, I predate Goku by years, but because I don’t remember my original nym and don’t particularly like commenting on a phone I get accused of being a troll by at least one person I recognize as a regular pretty much every time I comment more than once on a thread that actually catches my interest. I’ve still got the last one who did that on the pie list. The way I see it, accusations of “they’re a troll/shill/bot/plant” are an overused attack that are better off ignored. They hurt, and some people here can be damn viscous when they think they’ve got other commenter to back them up, but ultimately it’s up to the the front page crew to make that call.

  159. 159
    Immanentize says:

    @Karen:

    Are the words not legal and illegal the same?

    No. As my property teacher pointed out, the latter is a sick bird.

  160. 160
    TenguPhule says:

    @PenAndKey: Come sit by me.

  161. 161
    PenAndKey says:

    @TenguPhule: Only if you bring the beer and popcorn.

  162. 162
    DonnaKay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Much of this “opposition” likely comes from Democrats who fear impeachment might help Trump rather than hurt him. I don’t think this is a hard number.

  163. 163
    Ruckus says:

    @Matt McIrvin:
    Most of those east European people have been living in dictatorships at least their entire adult lives most of them all their lives. Other than travel that one system is all they know. The other areas have seen change. Not necessarily good change but they have seen it.

  164. 164
    J R in WV says:

    @Cacti:

    They have increasingly adopted the position that democracy, voting, and elections interfere with their divine right to rule. I don’t think we’re far away from seeing them become an openly anti-democratic (small d) party.

    The Republicans have been anti-democratic for decades, since the death of their Father Abraham, really. Certainly since FDR was elected, which they fought until today. Social Security is a socialist plot to prevent Wealthy Republicans from stealing eveyone’s retirement savings. Medicare is a Marxist plot to steal good health from Republican Doctor Millionaires. The Interstate Highway System is a Communist plot to prevent autos from breaking down as Henry Ford intended, keeping the auto magnates from making all our money when we have to buy a new car every 3 years.

    Just ask any lifelong Republican about any of these insidious plots to weaken Amurika from within!

  165. 165
    J R in WV says:

    @Eural Joiner:

    Are you talking about me?

    Yes. Google shows your nym is mentioned in 93 comments as of this morning — some of those were no doubt replies to your comments, like this one. So election years by far. Lurker extreme. Glad you have kid, dog. Keep in touch, much?

    All of those comments (that I bothered to look at) were in 2007-2008, 2016, ’17, ’18 or ’19.

  166. 166
    BroD says:

    @dww44:

    That’s basically how I see it. It seems to me, Congress has a responsibility to the Constitution.
    It needs, of course, to initiate a responsible investigation and act responsibly on its findings.

  167. 167
    Eural Joiner says:

    @J R in WV:
    Lurker Extreme! Now that is a bad ass super villian name 😁

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