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Daydreams of Impeachment

The impeachment of Donald Trump is the fondest wish of many Democrats. And why not? Reasonable people on all sides can see that Trump hobnobs with shady characters. Robert Mueller is picking them off one by one like Annie Oakley. Where there is smoke there is fire, right? In this liberal fantasy, legal issues build in Trumpworld until his high crimes and misdemeanors become self-evident. Trump is kicked out on his ear to the triumphant cheering of those elusive real American citizens.

This narrative both enervates and frustrates the left. For many the jury is already in. They cannot comprehend why GOP house members and senators still support Trump. It’s so obvious he has to go, why isn’t everybody in “the resistance?” Given this baffling unwillingness of the GOP to stampede the aisle and become Democrats, a second narrative has taken hold.

In this new story the Democrats win the House of Representatives in November, win a narrow majority in the Senate, pass articles of impeachment, try, and convict Trump, and throw him out to the cheers… well you get the idea. Here’s country music sensation and one of my favorite Twitter personalities George Takei (I follow an eclectic group – don’t judge me!) in another “Oh My!” moment making that exact argument.

Daydreams of Impeachment

To be blunt, this scenario is extremely unlikely. Democrats may take the House. They will definitely make inroads. They look strong, their base is motivated, and they are attracting new blood. They will need to flip 24 GOP seats. That’s a tall order, but they seem poised to give it a shot (Mid-term breakdown – NYT). If they do take the House I have no doubt they can pass articles of impeachment (it only takes a simple majority), but that’s where they hit the Trumpian wall.

The Senate seems out of reach for the Democrats this cycle. It’s not that they have no momentum or are noncompetitive. They simply lack the opportunity. They have to defend 25 of their own seats (some in Trump country) while picking off at least 2 from the 8 (only 8!) GOP seats up for reelection (Senate Battlegrounds- ballotpedia). The math is brutal.

If by some miracle this happened they would hold a bare majority – and they would need a two thirds vote to impeach. Still, if they do manage to win a majority, possible impeachment will be like chum in the water (ew!). They will be tempted to take the bait, and their base may demand it!

The worst case scenario

If you care about Democratic chances, tamp down that impeachment talk. Remember how the GOP wasted all their ammo firing at a blue dress in 1998. Democrats may think impeachment will serve them by embarrassing the GOP, but the GOP is already embarrassed by Trump. They’ve become used to holding their noses. Impeachment will energize the GOP base and give them a new, entitled victimhood. And I think it will fail miserably. The numbers are not there. Like the 98 GOP House, Democrats are risking everything on a pair of threes.

Of course, many argue the merits of the case – that Trump is clearly guilty of something egregious while Clinton was being railroaded for personal peccadilloes. I would answer that Trump is a train wreck, but there will need to be more on the table than the current clown car of Trump associates and their bad behavior. Impeachment is essentially a political act. It will hinge on political considerations. The question will not be “what happened”, but “what can be plausibly argued.” And of course the media’s constant overreach in pursuit of a smoking gun makes Trump’s task of defending himself easier by the day.

Meanwhile, try to imagine the unhinged, horn-tooting responses of President Trump as he gleefully exhausts the press with 280-character missiles. A failed impeachment might result in his death by Twitter orgasm. He’s bad at many things, but he’s a savant at mercilessly battering a poor-me story to death. Why hand him unlimited ammunition? I think we can live without the word “ACQUITTED” peppering our social media for the next 2 years.

If Democrats really want to impeach Donald Trump they will have to recognize their essential need for GOP support in the endeavor. I know it seems crazy given such a strong hand, but they will have to give ground, compromise, and work across the aisle to find a way forward. Each GOP senator who crosses the aisle to vote in favor of conviction will need sufficient political cover to do so. The country will need to see the impeachment trial as a clearly bipartisan initiative taken on reluctantly by all for the good of the union. It cannot be seen as one party punishing the other. If it is seen as punitive no GOP senator will be willing to vote aye. Does anyone believe that the members of either party have the courage to make that bargain? That’s Koolaid I’m not willing to drink.

The Current State of Things

Circumstances change. Indeed, with this administration they change hourly. As more and more head scratching things come to light it may become obvious to all comers that Trump has to go. The most likely scenario – unless he shoots someone on fifth avenue to test his own political doctrine – is that, on impulse, he does something blatantly obstructionist where no plausible deniability exists.

There is certainly an obstruction case building around all of his comments and tweets aimed at influencing the investigation. Yet obstruction and abuse of power charges will require more than tweets and comments to make them stick. I’ve been wrong about many things since 2016. I’m in good company. We will simply have to wait and see.

Photo by allenallen1910 Daydreams of Impeachment


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118 thoughts on “Daydreams of Impeachment

  1. Yeah. Impeachment is not happening. I will caution that some of this can just be psychological venting which is absolutely necessary. A lot of it can also be being very fed-up at years of Republican talk against Obama (the whole birth-certificate fantasy) and being mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

    There is still a large contingent of left-leaning and/or Democratic voters who want to take the moral high road and not respond in kind to the negative partisanship from the right. But a lot of other Democrats and left-leaning voters are fed up with the right’s antics and starting to push back. There is a large deal of hypocrisy here. One of the #pizzagate conspiracy mongerers was chiding liberals on twitter for engaging in Melania disappearance theorizing. There is a lot of direct and circumstantial evidence that people are covering up for Trump’s dalliances and being awarded with lucrative contracts.

    But the numbers will not be there in the Senate and I don’t see the GOP quitting Trump yet.

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    • I like your take Saul.

      Revenge fantasies are understandable and probably not preventable, but I would argue they are not very helpful. Moreover, like low level violence in middle east, these “cycles of rhetoric” tend to acquire their own repetitive energy and sustain themselves through multiple iterations. Each administration wants to “win” – as if winning makes the opposition go away rather than reinvigorates them. It never leads to outcomes that are helpful to anyone (in my view).

      Meanwhile, if you are the administration in power (either Dem or GOP) you would do well to recognize the simple fact that you will not be in power forever. Traditionally this is why administrations try to govern from the center. We’ve strayed from that idea I think.

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      • I don’t know if we strayed from it or we are just within living memory of a period that was the exception to the rule. The politics and media of 19th century America was highly partisan. The Federalists and Jeffersonian Democrats hated each other with glee. Charles Sumner was famously nearly beaten to death on the Senate floor for his abolitionist views. There was bleeding Kansas.

        But for a variety of reasons, the parties became big tent parties. The Democratic Party had a northern wing that was liberal, unionized, and immigrant filled and a Southern wing that was rural, white, and often very racist. The Republican Party also had a liberal wing. This coalesced into the “golden age of bipartisan consensus” of the mid-20th century.

        But the forces were always around to undo this. Rick Perlstein lays out how far-right cranks sought to takeover the GOP starting right after WWII ended. Maybe earlier. There were always hardliners who felt betrayed that enough of the GOP went along with the New Deal after a while.

        So maybe we are just reverting to the mean and a lot of people are still in denial about this and/or don’t want to deal with the implications.

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  2. But there is also something to be said for doing what the Constitution demands, even if it isn’t playing clever politics.

    One of the biggest frustrations for this Democrat is this constant insistence on playing from a defensive crouch, where this imaginary army of persuadable Reagan Democrats are waiting to pounce at our overreach.

    We better not push for health care reform, we better not push to regulate the big banks, we better not, we better not, we should play cautious and have a bipartisan beer with the Republicans and listen paitiently to Louie Gohmert expound on the moral character of the Messican while we grin and speak in soft civil tones.

    We hear about our government operating torture chambers, and get lectures on the need to look forward not backward. We hear of banks committing open fraud and get told there are more important crimes to explore. We see video of police shooting black men in the back and walking away free and get told to stop being so strident about identity politics.

    And with each step, we define deviancy downward, and take another step backwards into the darkness.

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    • But there is also something to be said for doing what the Constitution demands, even if it isn’t playing clever politics.

      “I agree! We need to do X!”

      “Well, the Constitution doesn’t actually say X…”

      “The Constitution says X. It’s right there.”

      “You’re not paying attention to this other clause. Also, Interstate Commerce.”

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      • The Constitution demands that the people are sovereign, not the executive. It demands that the three branches remain independent of one another, and that the executive not use his office to accept bribes.

        For starters.

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          • Just a couple of weeks ago Trump Inc and a corp owned by the Chinese Gov inked a deal to build a giant hotel complex together. In the next couple of days Trump’s attitude on China changed a bit.

            How else should be regard deals between foreign governments and Trump inc? His business and family and himself are benefiting directly from deals with government he has relations with as Prez.

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            • Greg – this is a good example of how impeachment is a political and not so much a “legal” proceeding. I said above that is not so much about “what happened” as what can be “plausibly argued.”

              In the case you mentioned it can be plausibly argued that there is a quid pro quo, but it is not a slam dunk. Certainly it would be hard to prove in a legal trial without a smoking gun. And as long as the other side can plausibly argue otherwise (and it is in their interest to do so) they will do so.

              Now if the interests of the politicians who are needed to complete the 2 thirds majority happen to coincide with impeachment rather than fellow traveling you might find them plausibly arguing the other side of the case. :)

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              • Mark- Oh yeah, this isn’t going to lead to a legal proceeding. The R’s have no desire to get into it at all so it’s going to a blip at most for now. My guess is we’ll be hearing about seamy business deals for years to come. But they likely wont’ be formally illegal or at least provable.

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                • My guess is we’ll be hearing about seamy business deals for years to come. But they likely wont’ be formally illegal or at least provable.

                  Agreed. A lot of these rules simply become absurdly impossible to enforce when we’re dealing with a for-real business empire of this nature.

                  Trump’s business interests are everywhere, slimy actors could bid up the price of some of his real estate and it’d be impossible to find, much less prove. Worse, it’d be impossible to prove for good reason. Random fluctuations in his empire could be “tied” to anything else and bigo, we have a story.

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            • How else should be regard deals between foreign governments and Trump inc? His business and family and himself are benefiting directly from deals with government he has relations with as Prez.

              Kerry, and Biden both have adult children running an “investment” fund which did mysterious things with the Chinese while their parents were in office. The performance of said fund is hidden (it’s private) but it’s activities (etc) seem all out of proportion given it’s owners’ inexperience. HRC and Pelosi both have close relatives (HRC’s son-in-law and Pelosi’s husband) who run hedge funds with amazing rates of return.

              None of these vehicles seem to have a purpose other than insider trading or political influence trading… however either it’s not illegal or there’s no proof.

              Before you start accusing Trump of crimes he can’t avoid because he really is a Billionaire with real assets that have real purposes outside of money laundering, keep in mind just how low a bar the Democratic leadership has set for Trump to look cleaner.

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                • And after all, Trump did put his assets in a blind trust, like the various Presidents before him did, so that he couldn’t so easily be swayed by his business interests. Right?

                  “A blind trust” is impossible for multiple reasons, including how his empire is structured and how tightly linked to his name everything is. He removed himself as much as he could reasonably do.

                  Further, he ran on his assets. Him (constantly) bragging about his assets is more than “informing” both Congress and the American people about his activities.

                  Seriously, this is hardly the low hanging fruit for why Trump shouldn’t be President. If you’re going to raise the ethical bar so high that his empire disqualifies him, then there’s a ton of other people (including HRC) who really should be out of the running as well.

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              • So you got nuthin. You can’t defend Trump’s clear behavior. You can throw out claims about other pols without any proof. This is partially a Gish Gallop thing. Toss out a bunch of claims w/o proof that i can spend time trying to research, judge the evidence and such. But none of that defends Trump. If it’s wrong those others did it, then it’s wrong for Trump. I didnt’ even mention Kushner’s security clearance escapades and how that might help Trump Inc.

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                • So you got nuthin. You can’t defend Trump’s clear behavior.

                  Let me repeat: Dark Matter: Before you start accusing Trump of crimes he can’t avoid because he really is a Billionaire with real assets that have real purposes outside of money laundering…

                  Now there’s a ton of other things I don’t defend him against, but a party which breathlessly claims these various investment vehicles and TCF are beyond reproach has no business claiming a for-real business empire is unacceptable and impeachment worthy.

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                  • I didn’t say impeachment. I didn’t’ even say they could prove it was a bribe. I pointed out a huge business deal with a foreign government. A government which we have many and various dealings and issues with. How is that not something that raises serious eyebrows, maybe even the People’s Eyebrow.

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                    • How is that not something that raises serious eyebrows, maybe even the People’s Eyebrow.

                      …build a giant hotel complex together…

                      Is this something which is big by Trump standards or is this “It Must be Tuesday”?

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              • “Crimes he can’t avoid” should have been disqualifying in and of itself, yet the GOP declined to disqualify him.

                He also ran on a promise of putting things in a blind trust; failing to do so and using his office to openly enrich himself is not reasonably within the purview of things that the voters knew they were getting into.

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                • One of the regular commentators here remarked, even before inauguration, that he didn’t think it was possible for Trump to do anything with his business that wouldn’t lead to massive conflicts of interest.

                  Remember when we made Carter sell his farm? We were so naive then.

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                  • One of the regular commentators here remarked, even before inauguration, that he didn’t think it was possible for Trump to do anything with his business that wouldn’t lead to massive conflicts of interest.

                    DavidTC (hardly a Trump supporter) walked us through just how deep and impossible the problems are. His solution was Trump shouldn’t be allowed to run for office because the issues are so obvious and fundamental.

                    Trump has been in the public eye for 40+ years and his various activities have been public for that length of time. The idea that the American people couldn’t have known what they were getting is farcical. Trump was well vetted.

                    He has absurd conflicts of interest, they can’t be resolved more than they have been, this is the least of the long list of reasons why he shouldn’t be President.

                    I’m fine giving him a pass on his empire. If you need to own a multi-Billion dollar real estate empire in order to have open conflicts of interest, that sets the bar so high I suspect we’ll never see this happen again. I’m less good with looking the other way to Husbands and Wives tag teaming the system, and still less to looking the other way for personal “charities” and close-relative run “investment funds”. Those last two set the bar so low that every politician can do them.

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                    • His solution was Trump shouldn’t be allowed to run for office because the issues are so obvious and fundamental.

                      Technically, I wasn’t suggesting that Trump be ‘barred’ from running from office, that runs into constitutional issues. There’s not actually any way to add to the requirements to President except constitutional amendment (And I don’t think we want to try to encode business rules into the Constitution.)…the courts said states can’t do that for people running for Congress (Back when states tried to add term limits), so it can’t be done for the President either.

                      My suggestion was that Congress come up with some actual hard-and-fast rules about property and investment ownership of the President via a Joint Resolution, and basically outright state they will impeach any president who does not follow said rules, _before_ the president takes office. (Which, yes, is possible. Impeachment and conviction removes someone from any Federal offices they currently hold, and _also_ bars them from one in the future, and there is absolutely no reason it cannot be done to future office holders…there’s not really any reason it can’t be done to random people on the street, except that’s stupid.)

                      There could even be some auto-start trigger where a Congressman (Or, hell, anyone!) can introduce evidence of breaking such rules to a specific committee, say ‘Oversight and Government Reform’ or ‘Judiciary’, and that committee checks merely the factual accuracy, and if they find the behaviors alleged did happen and are covered in the Joint Resolution they must refer to the full House to start the process of Impeachment and the House should immediately take it up as business, without having to go through the Speaker. (The House can’t commit itself to impeach, but it can shuffle around its rules so that certain processes, once introduced, cannot be denied discussion on the floor or eventual voting. Same with the Senate, although the odds of the Senate refusing to deal with a referred Impeachment are pretty low.)

                      And with Trump, I was even willing to give him a slow-phase in. As long as he had started to divest himself, and had presented to Congress some actual laid-out process to divest himself mostly and some sort of monitoring and control of things he was not able to divest himself of that, a process they could be were okay with, we could live with it.

                      Instead, apparently, Congress let him get away without even turning over _documentation_ about what is going on.

                      That, really, is the actual problem. Yes, there are things we can point at where Trump is apparently being bribed, but that’s just because they somehow ended up public. If the Republicans allowed us to operate in some sort of actual governance reality situation, the _absolute minimum_ we should be operating at is ‘The entire Trump Organization is an open book to Congress’.

                      The absolute, flat, minimum that really is not good enough, but at least would allow us to see problems.

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                    • His solution was Trump shouldn’t be allowed to run for office because the issues are so obvious and fundamental.

                      Oh, and as for that…it’s so obviously true I find myself amazed by the entire concept of someone like him being president.

                      Let’s pretend, for a second, that Trump was some super-rational president, who had mostly perfectly normal policy positions, and a perfectly normal temperament, who owned exactly the same stuff Trump owned. In fact, let’s totally disconnect this from Trump, and have this guy, Monald Wump, be a Democrat, pushing normal Democratic policies.

                      Let’s look at what China has just done, in retribution to tariffs: They deliberately targeted tariffs at Republican-leaving states, aka, Trumps own voters. Fun fact: Trump has _overseas properties_. Granted, he doesn’t have one in China. (Although China has a hell of a lot of influence over Indonesia, where he does.) But you know where he does have one? The Republic of Ireland. So so does Wump.

                      And Monald Wump, being a Democrat, doesn’t like the practice of corporations offshoring their profits to avoid taxes. And he proposes some sort of law punishing companies that do that. The exact law is not important, only that it does look like it would work to some extent and companies would start to back off that sort of thing.

                      Well, a major place to offshore companies to is Ireland. And Ireland makes a lot of money in corporate taxes off it. (Their corporate taxes are _low_, not non-existant.) And it also generally boasts their economy because those tax-relocation corporations do tend to put _something_ in Ireland, if only some sort of corporate office.

                      And now one tiny tweak to the real world: In this world, the Irish government is, let’s say, less ethical than it probably is in real life.

                      So the Irish government passes a law that says that anyone who signs legislation like that will forfiet all business interests in Ireland. Just have all their assets seized by the government, no reimbursement. And few people immediately thought ‘They can’t do that.’, but…they’re a foreign government. They really can, or, at least, it’s up to _them_ if they can. We can’t, like, telepathically make them enforce the law in a just manner.

                      Monald Wump paid 15 million euro for the Wump International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland. He loses all that if he signs.

                      Does he sign? Yes or no? Do we believe him if he doesn’t sign, but says it was because it was a bad law?

                      This is what is called a ‘conflict of interest’. It’s when ethical people in a position of control over something have to choose to either do what is the ‘correct’ thing, or the thing that will benefit (or not harm) them. Which is why ethical people make sure they do not have conflicts of interests at the start.

                      A president with expensive foreign properties basically can’t ethically operate as president, and thus should not have been elected as president.

                      ..of course, back when I pointed out this out, I, for some utterly unknown reason, assumed President Trump would actually try to operate within ethical bounds. Silly me. Trump literally does not have conflicts of interests…that would imply that he weighs his decisions as president between the duties of the offices and any possible enrichment on his part, and thus those two things can conflict. He…does not do that. He does not seem to understand the first thing exists at all.

                      Edit: Oh, and I forgot to mention: Normally, conflicts of interest can be resolved with someone stepping aside on a single decision. They have a conflict in one place and step aside for that. The president cannot do that.

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                • He also ran on a promise of putting things in a blind trust;

                  This is like running on the promise of lowering the oceans. Any sensible evaluation says it’s impossible, not hard, not undesirable, not expensive, but impossible. The Trump name is tightly bound to both his hotels and the man himself. Even absurdities like having him legally change his name wouldn’t be close enough.

                  The closest he could possibly get would be stepping down and handing over control to his children (which he did), exactly like what his father did when he stepped down.

                  …not reasonably within the purview of things that the voters knew they were getting into.

                  The voters didn’t understand that Trump was tightly bound to his hotel chain? Despite his constant bragging and his naming everything he owns after himself? Did they also not understand he was a vulgar ass as well?

                  The “not knowing what they were getting” argument could reasonably be used against Obama but not Trump. Everyone knows exactly what he is. The voters put him in anyway.

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              • Kerry, and Biden both have adult children running an “investment” fund which did mysterious things with the Chinese while their parents were in office. The performance of said fund is hidden (it’s private) but it’s activities (etc) seem all out of proportion given it’s owners’ inexperience.

                I’ve read the same Ney York Post article as you appear to. Here’s the article, for reference: https://nypost.com/2018/03/15/inside-the-shady-private-equity-firm-run-by-kerry-and-bidens-kids/

                To start with, it seems to have forgotten that, uh, Joe Biden was the vice president, and thus literally not in charge of anything.

                Second, it has nonsense like wondering how three Americans at a tiny new investment firm could have met with high ranking Chinese officials…except it seems to have totally missed the fact that Hunter Biden had been running around in New York finance since 2001 (Which it weirdly called ‘a series of jobs’.) and started his own company in 2005. Geez, I don’t know how someone with a decade in finance could have met with big investors. I’m sure they only look at the creation date of the company he’s made as the investment vehicle.

                But that doesn’t really impact the most important part of this article. A claim that, if substantiated, would be very important: A troubling pattern emerges from this research, showing how profitable deals were struck with foreign governments on the heels of crucial diplomatic missions carried out by their powerful fathers. Often those foreign entities gained favorable policy actions from the United States government just as the sons were securing favorable financial deals from those same entities.

                But it’s _not_. This pattern doesn’t seem to exist.

                For example, they talk about how the deal with Rosemont somehow followed the Asian Pivot. Except, of course, the Asian Pivot actually happened well after any of this started, which is why the article absurdly has to date the first meeting by ‘Joe Biden went to the Nuclear Security Summit’, like somehow there was some trade made. Well, newsflash: The Chinese did not get some great deal at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit. The only notable thing between the US and China is that we badged them into tighter sanctions on Iran.

                Yeah, it seems reasonable that China wanted to, uh, reward the US for that?

                Likewise, the later trips that are documented, the article doesn’t bother to suggest anything at all that benefited China. At all. Joe Biden met with China, and then Hunter Biden got some deal. What…what is being alledged here? That they both exist and visit China?

                Moreover, as the article seems completely unaware, the Asian Pivot was towards ‘Asia’, not ‘China’, and a large part of it consisted of us trying to expand our influence _at the expense of China’s_. Which, uh, they were smart enough to understand. In fact, there’s alot of articles out there, if you google ‘Asian Pivot’, talking about how it was a mistake because it made things worse with China and yet didn’t really accomplish things.

                Meanwhile, in the middle of all this was the Senkaku Islands thing, where we issued a statement asserting that the Senkaku Islands fell under ours and Japan’s joint defense treaty, which meant if China tried to claim them we’d help defend them.

                Seriously, this article is aimed at people who think ‘US and China interacted in some manner, and China rewarded the family of Democratic pols!’ is an actual thing. It fails to show _anything_ the US did for China that China would be rewarding _anything_ for. Our relationship with China pretty much steadily deteriorated all throughout Obama’s time in office, and honestly if we’d had a normal presidential election that would have been a good thing to use against Hillary, who wasn’t able to fix it as Sec of State.

                But, hey, it’s good to get it _officially on the record_ that such thing would be bad, from the New York Post. Let’s completely formalize this: The claim is that US government made political actions toward a foreign government, and in return said foreign government personally rewarded family members of politicians. If that is demonstrated to have happened, that is a bad thing.

                Like, let’s go and get that notarized.

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                • If both sides aren’t equally bad, then someone voted for a very corrupt politician — instead of choosing between two equally corrupt politicians. (Or parties).

                  Therefore, no matter how little evidence, enough smoke will be ginned up so that someone can say “They are both equally as bad on this subject, therefore I can ignore how awful my candidate is on that and talk about other things, like how much yours sucks”.

                  False equality is a flat necessity for many people support the current GOP. If Clinton isn’t Satan incarnate, if Obama wasn’t an intellectual lightweight chosen purely as a figurehead, then dear god — who could defend Trump or Bush?

                  Therefore, the Clinton’s are the most corrupt people on earth — including their pedophile pizza ring, and Obama was chosen strictly by skin color and the ability to read a teleprompter.

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                  • False equality is a flat necessity for many people support the current GOP. If Clinton isn’t Satan incarnate,

                    Hardly Satan incarnate. However if you don’t understand that HRC is the most (unarrested) openly corrupt politician we’ve had in a long time, then you haven’t been paying attention.

                    The bad/good news is Trump might surpass her… however I think it only fair to give him a pass on the empire he didn’t build to corrupt the system.

                    That means you don’t get to point to him having business meetings on his own golf courses and claim that’s a serious problem with the system. That’s something he did long before he was President and he’ll be doing it long after.

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                  • Defending Trump is now on par with 9-11 truthers.

                    No matter what evidence is presented, there will always be another distraction, another bit of dismissal, another defiance.

                    This is the refutation to Thomas Frank. Kansans are not voting against their interest; they are getting exactly the outcome they want with Trump.

                    Every conventional outcome like better relations with allies, better economy, a more harmonious polity…these are all secondary concerns easily surrendered to the primary goal which Trump is accomplishing in spades.

                    And Corey Robin pretty much nailed that one.

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                      • All I’ve got is a red guitar, three chords and the truth.

                        I don’t have any suggestion on how to head off the onrushing authoritarianism other than to point to it and call it by its true name.

                        The rest is up to all of us.

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                      • So now what?

                        Reform the party. For all the pious talk about how the GOP is clearly worse than the Dems, they’re not.

                        1) If you want to be a party for women, you really should be getting rid of the Congressmen who are serial sexual harassers. Let the GOP keep theirs.

                        2) Don’t fix elections. HRC’s minions ran the Dem nomination and they did what you’d expect. Bernie would have lost a fair nomination process but grief you’re lucky he didn’t try to burn down the party over the nomination process not being fair.

                        3) Police your own. After someone gets caught selling pardons and deliberately mixing their personal and professional responsibilities, don’t expect them to change and don’t expect people to not notice.

                        4) Do something about relatives enriching themselves.

                        Note all of these things would be great advice for the GOP as well… but with Trump in charge none of these will happen.

                        Now I’d like to add to that list some things which the GOP is somewhat trying, which is…

                        5) Pay attention to economic growth. That’s the best measurement for how the country is going.

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                          • With the addition of, “pay attention to the bottom third by income/wealth.” If they’re doing well, the rest are very likely going to be doing well also.

                            Only if we also reform how those statistics are gathered so it’s AFTER income transfers (and benefit transfers) and not before.

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              • HRC and Pelosi both have close relatives (HRC’s son-in-law and Pelosi’s husband) who run hedge funds with amazing rates of return.

                Also, HRC’s son-in-law ran a hedge that managed to lose 90% of its value, so, while that is indeed an amazingly bad rate of return, but the implication of what you said is the wrong direction. (Although the entire premise of a hedge fund is that it is risky and doesn’t even have to follow normal rules about that sort of thing.)

                I am not sure where you got any information about Paul Pelosi’s firm’s rate of return. However, as far as I can tell, it’s not a hedge fund. It’s just a normal investment firm, the sort which purchases stock for its clients.

                It has indeed been criticized for possible insider trading. Except, of course, it was legal for people in Congress to do that at the time, because Congress is made up of outright criminals, and honestly, the amount of Congressmen who _don’t_ insider trade is probably pretty small.

                But insider trading is about two magnitudes of scandal below ‘manipulating foreign relationships and getting paid by foreign governments’. (Between the two, in case anyone cares, would be ‘manipulating domestic policy for profit’. Like, oh, what Tom Price did.)

                Insider trading is below that. It’s bad, and it’s stealing from investors, but at least it doesn’t alter the _actual government_…it just knows what is going to happen in advance in the government and makes money off people who do not. It’s sorta alike to a Congressman driving around and robbing banks…it’s not _good_, but it’s not really a political thing. (Well, except for the political problem Congress never made it illegal for themselves to rob banks, and they’re all doing it.)

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                • Eh. I don’t know if the whole pivot from “it was legal for people in Congress to do that at the time” to an expectation of moral outrage really works for me.

                  If you want the morality argument punch to really land, you have to at least feign some outrage about people entrusted to care for the system to not game the crap out of it.

                  Otherwise it just looks like naked partisanship when you minimize your side and say “but what they’re doing is actually and for real bad” about the other side.

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                  • As Morat explained, BSDI is the only defense the Trumpists have anymore.

                    Except there doesn’t actually exist any reasonable persuadable voter who looks at Trump and the Democrats and concludes they are equal.

                    Trump’s pull of racial animosity is (fortunately) still toxic to discuss openly, so it has to be hidden behind the screen of Her Emails.

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                    • What are we arguing, though?

                      That there is right and there is wrong and we should be able to tell the difference?

                      Or that the other tribe is worse and look at how egregious their excesses are compared to our relatively restrained excesses?

                      Because you can’t mix those. It doesn’t work.

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                          • …wasn’t technically illegal…

                            Yes, that. Or if it is technically illegal, it’s impossible to prove in court.

                            Of course that leads to Cattle Futures, “selling” Pardons, having personal Charities with Blackwater making “contributions” which stop after an election is lost, fixing the nomination, and looking the other way for Harvey Weinstein.

                            And normal people, after having been told repeatedly there’s no problem because all that is legal, turned to an outsider.

                            My expectation is pointing out Trump is unethical and/or breaking the law because he owns golf courses and hotels won’t gain much traction.

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                          • It works with anyone who isn’t determined to defend Trump at all costs.

                            When a 20 year old questionable action by someone who is not in office and never will be again is what prevents them from condemning his corruption, they have already laid down their marker of what matters and what doesn’t.

                            And when Trump’s corruption doesn’t matter to them, we know exactly what does.

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                            • No, I think that saying “Here is a view condemning wickedness” works with more people than with just those determined to support Trump.

                              It’s the “you have to understand, the circumstances that might look bad to some people if the circumstances were only looked at in isolation need to be looked at in context and, besides, that was 20 years ago” that undercuts the statements that follow that appear to be chock-full of moral clarity that probably won’t appear to be full of moral clarity to anyone but those determined to oppose Trump.

                              I’ll grant that members of #TheResistance probably see them the way you think that everybody should, though.

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                              • You seem to think I am trying to conjure up some killer argument to persuade people who currently are unable to see a difference between HRC and Trump.

                                I’m not. I’m not a campaign advisor, I’m not a pundit, I’m just asserting what I see and believe.

                                I’m not trying to convince the imaginary “persuadable voter”. When anyone watches the news, then stands with arms crossed and says “I need to be convinced” they have pretty much shown their cards.

                                What I’m trying to do is dispel the idea that those of us who see this will be distracted or confused by the Gish Gallop of nonsense about her emails to the point where we will fall silent and be unable to say the truth loud and clear.

                                Trump is waging a campaign of white ethnic supremacy, and is also insanely corrupt.

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                            • It works with anyone who isn’t determined to defend Trump at all costs.

                              Trump gets a pass for continuing to own what he built before the election. I get that this makes bribery easy and proving bribery hard, but I don’t see a fairer way to resolve the issue… and if you need golf courses as evidence, then he’s reformed (by Trump Standards) and you have no case.

                              And BTW I seriously doubt him reforming is possible.

                              When a 20 year old questionable action…

                              If it were a one-off mistake then I wouldn’t bother mentioning it. For example the Clinton’s “giving pardons to unreformed cop-killing terrorists” debacle was a one-off mistake and not reflective of who they are so I don’t view it as a problem.

                              However what you describe as a (singular) “20 year old questionable action” I describe as a “many decade lifestyle of corruption”. TCF has been a problem for year; Her relationship with Harvey Weinstein goes back many decades and we have reports that she knew of his “hobbies” before the media figured it out; She fixed the nomination during the nomination (and that took years to set up);

                              Bringing the conversation back on track, your actual claim is the Dems are far more ethical than the GOP and the two sides are NOT the same.

                              So what happened with HRC? A one time, many decade screw up that will be prevented in the future… how? How can you possibly prevent something like this if you’re not willing to admit there’s a problem? At the moment what I’m hearing is “Democrats are allowed to do that”.

                              Is that the actual party line? “Democrats are allowed to do that, but the GOP is still worse because of *ism?”

                              Trump is horrible, but he’s also a one off. Trump was inflicted on the GOP leadership by the voters. When Trump is finally consumed by his dumpster fire, he’ll be impeached and he’ll be a wonderful lesson to the voters on who shouldn’t be in power. President Pence… has a wonderful ring to it.

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                  • Eh. I don’t know if the whole pivot from “it was legal for people in Congress to do that at the time” to an expectation of moral outrage really works for me.

                    I didn’t say it _was_ doing insider trading. I said there are things that he has done look like insider trading. A plausible case could be made…pretending it was illegal at the time. I was putting an absolute cap on the wrongdoing, which is objectively much less than subverting domestic policy to make money, like Tom Price did, or subverting foreign policy to make money, which is it increasingly looking like Trump did.

                    And I feel I should point out that Trump gave hints of the jobs report first to people who follow his Twitter, thus enabling literally millions of acts of insider trading. Like, even in this very very specific wrongdoing he’s somehow way way worse!

                    But I’m not going to make that argument. Instead, I will point out that trying to stop BSDI is nonsense. Because it’s pretty clear the conservative media will literally just make up stuff if it can’t find anything.

                    As I said in my other response, they basically just invented a scandal with ‘Biden and Kerry relatives run an investment firm that has a fund with Chinese backers’, despite literally no evidence of any sort of wrongdoing or tit-for-tat. They basically have to make up a bunch of stuff to handwave timing things, and deliberately mispresent whether or not the ‘Asian Pivot’ would have made China happy or sad. And ignore the fact that Biden was not running around making Chinese policy, and Kerry doesn’t seem to have been doing anything related either. (And they had the gall to do this while _Trump_ was president. This wasn’t a funny example of how the conservative media flip-flopped on what was acceptable after Trump took office.)

                    We live in a world where the conservative media has decided that ‘Democrats always are corrupt and much much worse than any minor indiscretions by Republicans, who are basically all good people’. That is literal fact and always true in their minds, and it doesn’t matter what is actually happening.

                    So there is absolutely no point in trying to ‘clean up’ minor Democratic behavior as strategy of convincing voters.(1) Because Democratic scandals will just be invented out of thin air.

                    You’re still trying to live in some sort of objective world where actual truth matters, but we’re actually in a world where the half the media will just imply Pelosi is trying to make your kids gay with Common Core and that will become the operative truth with 30% of the population. It doesn’t matter what is _actually_ happening. And I have fully given up on what those conservative-bubble people think.

                    But her eemaaaaiiillls….

                    1) Now, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to stop this sort of thing, and I’m all for things that have been proposed making this illegal. And Congress should feel free to do that, and the people doing it could even make the thing bipartisan by pointing out that both sides, indeed, actually do it. But we are actually living in a universe where Donald Trump is actively harming our national security, and frankly that needs to be dealt with first.

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      • The Constitution is very long on stipulating behaviors and limitations on the branches of government, and very short on formal enforcement mechanisms.

        Of course, the flip side to, “Well, we needn’t jump all the way to impeachment,” is that there are a lot of less formal things that simply haven’t been tried [1]. By consistently refusing to do even the bare minimum, GOP leadership in Congress has let the WH get away with a lot of gratuitous corruption [2] and plain old idiocy, which makes impeachment a lot more appealing than it might otherwise have been.

        [1] Like, I don’t know, not letting the likes of Devin Nunes use his oversight position to run interference for the Administration.

        [2] It’s amazing how there’s just a tacit consensus that it’s alright for the President and his family to use his office to enrich themselves through the Trump Organization.

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        • The longer this goes on, the more I am thinking the congressional pro-Trump crowd is behaving like traders who are heavily invested in very risky ventures. They are each riding the profit wave with the hope that they can bail just before the wave breaks and everyone else crashes into the rocks. This is why they aren’t reining him in, because they figure they are profiting off of his antics somehow, and they are going to hold course until it stops being profitable.

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    • But there is also something to be said for doing what the Constitution demands, even if it isn’t playing clever politics.

      Nothing in the Constitution says the President can’t be a racist womanizing ass.

      We didn’t impeach President Buchanan despite him being the worst President we’ve ever had (even Trump doesn’t come close).

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      • Right, which is why no one is talking about impeaching him for being a racist womanizing ass.
        The Constitution in fact doesn’t require a violation of its provisions, to trigger impeachment.
        I only used emoluments as an example.

        Impeachment is fundamentally a political tool, requiring only “high crimes and misdemeanors” the definition of which is up to Congress.

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        • Right, which is why no one is talking about impeaching him for being a racist womanizing ass.

          Actually I’d say that seems to be the big problem most of his opponents have with him. After that it’s basically just looking for an excuse.

          I only used emoluments as an example.

          Because clearly Trump’s hotel empire is openly corrupt while the Clinton Foundation, the various hedge funds, and other investment vehicles run by relatives of Dem leaders are not?

          I would be very careful before we define anything currently on the table as “high crimes”. Whatever is used against Trump is the new normal unless you get serious GOP buy in.

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          • Yes, you got it.

            His hotel interests are clearly corrupt, as is Ivanka’s Chinese dealings and their selling of access.
            The Clinton Foundation silliness isn’t worth the bother of discussing.

            And yes, whatever is not disputed will become the new normal, which is why impeachment is so important. We need to establish a baseline of what the American people will or won’t tolerate in behavior.

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            • The Clinton Foundation silliness isn’t worth the bother of discussing.

              Oh no, it’s very critical to Trump support. It’s an out for the supporter.

              “Clearly” they say “I cannot support unethical, dirty, crooks of politicians! Why would you imagine that? I am a firm believer in voting for those of only the highest integrity!”

              “And normally” they continue “Such shady behavior like this, which is in no way actually unethical but I do admit can look like it, would be such a deal-breaker!”

              “Alas” they moan, rending at their clothes “Their opponent is even worse! Whereas mine merely has some possible conflicts of interest, some small problems that would surely evaporate under scrutiny, his opponent is clearly neck deep in everything my politician is baselessly accused of!”

              “And thus” they conclude “As both politicians are equally corrupt (although mine is, of course, not actually as bad, but it matters not!), I cannot thus vote on corruption alone! And thus will sadly have to cast my vote on other issues!”.

              And thus, with clear conscience, they vote for the crook. Because he’s on the right team. Because the other must, of course, be just as bad. Actually worse, because they’re on the other team. So stop bringing up all that corruption stuff — it’s immaterial. The other side must be worse, Otherwise, I’d have voted against my own principles. Which can never, ever happen.

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            • His hotel interests are clearly corrupt, as is Ivanka’s Chinese dealings and their selling of access.
              The Clinton Foundation silliness isn’t worth the bother of discussing.

              Unfortunately his hotel interests are real in a way that The Clinton Foundation wasn’t. If Trump had lost the election he’d still be out there building hotels. When HRC lost the election companies like Blackwater stopped “donating”.

              We need to establish a baseline of what the American people will or won’t tolerate in behavior.

              So you’re going to have HRC arrested? Or is it just real economic interests from the GOP (i.e. Trump and only Trump) which are subject to this new interest in ethical behavior?

              As far as I can tell, it’s his personal behavior, not his fiscal behavior, which is so enraging.

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                • The sparkly distraction of whataboutism isn’t going to help him.

                  If you’re going to try to claim it’s an ethics problem for Trump to own real-life hotels but it’s just fine for Bill to sell pardons?

                  Yeah, actually it does help him.

                  Trump’s dad built hotels, his kids build hotels, he used to. Claiming this is a crime is going to need a level of evidence much greater than what the GOP ever got against the Clintons.

                  Now the good news is Trump isn’t as smart as the Clintons so odds are he’ll make larger mistakes. The bad news is I had no clue what emoluments were before I heard the word here, so the bulk of the American people still don’t know. Trying to claim it’s illegal for Trump to build hotels now while it wasn’t before isn’t going to work as a political argument.

                  Big picture is you need to find an actual crime that would apply to anyone, not just Trump.

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                  • Using your government powers to make money for yourself, your family, or your friends is corruption. That’s an old one. Remember when Dick Cheney had to sever ties with Haliburton? Same idea, and it saved a lot of accusations when he started a war that benefited Haliburton greatly (and pretty much no one else at all).

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                    • Remember when Dick Cheney had to sever ties with Haliburton? Same idea…

                      Halliburton is a publicly traded company. Dick was the CEO and Chairman, replacing either or both of those isn’t hard.

                      Trump has 500+ LLCs. Many (most? all?) are tied to him personally. None of these are publicly traded, most/all aren’t of liquid assets. Just pricing them and putting them on the market for sale would take longer than Trump can be in office.

                      If there are other people involved (likely), he’d need to negotiate with each of them on how to sever his relationship. Worse, his name is a large part of their value. For many there wouldn’t be a buyer and/or the other people involved wouldn’t have the money to buy themselves out.

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                      • If you think of an LLC as a marriage then you’d have a better idea on what unwinding would be like.

                        Some would go real easy, how to split things would be obvious (only cash, understanding partners). Others would have problematic assets (children=golf courses, unrealistic expectations on how much they could be sold for, etc).

                        With 500 of them on Real Estate? I’d expect them be average more towards the “ugly divorce” end of things, and we’re deep into “many years” needed for the worse situations.

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                          • Someone who’s going to be the poster child for conflict of interest has no business running for public office

                            I think we’re past the point where we can expect good behavior from Trump. And the “running” is fine, it’s the “being elected” part that’s the problem.

                            Of course even with his various fiscal and corruption problems he still ran (correctly) as the cleaner candidate.

                            especially when he’s not going to make any effort even to appear honest.

                            What would you like him to do? He’s already transferred control to his kids.

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                  • Impeachment isn’t a criminal matter.
                    It is about “high crimes”, such as abuse of his office or conflict of interest or even failure to carry out the Constitutional duties of his office.

                    You can read more about his hotel conflicts here.

                    I would add that installing, then refusing to check Scott Pruitt’s corruption is itself impeachment worthy.

                    Refusing to take prudent steps to protect the American people’s interests by not completing appointments of office is impeachment worthy.

                    The President takes a vow to uphold and defend the Constitution; when it is evident that he has failed to uphold his vow, impeachment is warranted.

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    • And not just Democrats. Many normal center and center-left independents are fed up with being told we’re not Real ‘Murcians if we don’t agree with every howl they echo from Fox or rightwing radio.

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      • This trend started long before Fox News to. The Far Right trashed the Civil Rights movement as communists, the people protesting the Vietnam War and growing their hair long as communist. When you wage war, you expect war back.

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    • I get it – mad as hell and not going to take it any more. I just don’t think that fighting fire with fire is actually a thing (except for actual forest fires – then it’s a thing). I don’t think it leads to positive outcomes and it debases the argument.

      Where is the courage to ignore the extremes of both sides and work together. That’s really the only hill I’m willing to die on. :) There is plenty of dialogue going on (this site is a great example!). It’s just that the rowdy fringe gets the clicks and attention.

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      • The rowdy fringe consists of the President, his Cabinet, 52 Senators and a majority of Congressmen, and about 35 statehouses and cities too numerous to count.

        The constant calls for compromise are confusing to me.
        Isn’t the very first step in dealmaking and compromise drawing up a list of essential “walk away” red lines?
        Points upon which no compromise can be made?

        And for the Democrats, wouldn’t some of those lines include demanding respect for the Constitution and adherence to ethical norms?

        And isn’t an essential part of playing smart politics to recognize when your counterpart can be trusted, and when they can’t?

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        • The constant calls for compromise are confusing to me. Isn’t the very first step in dealmaking and compromise drawing up a list of essential “walk away” red lines? Points upon which no compromise can be made?

          Calls for “compromise” means “you should tell your people you’re going to do things my way”. Drawing red lines are terrible because you need folks who are on the other side of the red line to vote for you but you don’t want to tell them they’re on the wrong side (Immigration reform).

          There is no resolving certain issues because if we do then the groups backing them are out of a job. This includes abortion, gun control, etc. We also have a few issues which aren’t very important (i.e. they don’t cause the country a lot of pain) where there’s no consensus on what to do. Entitlements should be reformed, we’re not in enough pain yet to do so.

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      • Where is the courage to ignore the extremes of both sides and work together.

        Impeachment may be difficult to achieve, or a bad choice strategically, but it has one advantage over this course of action: it’s not literally impossible.

        You see, once the GOP takes one look at the embodiment of its own worst impulses, nominates said embodiment to be the de facto leader of the Party, and then that nominee won the Presidency, well, the extremes are impossible to ignore. You can’t ignore the President; he’s far too important in our system of government to just route around him.

        On top of that, following Trump’s victory, advice to Democrats that we forego any sort of extremism, either procedural [1] or rhetorical, often smacks strongly of, “All of these strategies you have seen work? Don’t you dare use them!”

        [1] Trump’s victory came hot on the heels of Mitch McConnell refusing to grant Obama’s SCOTUS nominee hearings for purely partisan reasons.

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      • Where is the courage to ignore the extremes of both sides and work together. That’s really the only hill I’m willing to die on. :) There is plenty of dialogue going on (this site is a great example!). It’s just that the rowdy fringe gets the clicks and attention.

        Work together to do what? Most of our problems are too politically painful to solve and don’t really require a solution at the moment. When we have issues with obvious solutions, say 911, we do work together.

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    • Don’t forget, how us effete urban coastal elites sneer at the folks of fly-over country.

      Who clearly have only love and respect in their hearts for the half of the country that lives along the coasts.

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  3. I went out on a bit of a limb in yesterday’s thread and predicted Dems take the Senate. I did not mention impeachment. I hold that impeachment will happen when Republicans decide it’s better than having Trump hung around their necks. Lots of them don’t like him, but they like that Dems like me don’t like him.

    So that’s my focus and my advice. Ignore the clown show and focus on policy.

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  4. Pet peeve – enervate does not mean energize.

    My 2nd most unpopular historical opinion appears to be that the Clinton impeachement *worked* for the Republicans – contrary to the popular opinion that it backfired. Yes, they lost seats in the House of Reps in the 1998 midterms, very rare for a party that didn’t control the White House. But they broke even in the Senate (against the class that got elected on Clinton’s initial coattails) and more importantly, they won the Presidency 2 years later.

    Yes, Bush didn’t win the popular vote and yes Supreme court. But it shouldn’t have been even *close.* Peace and prosperity unseen before or since, no gender backlash dynamic, no racial backlash dynamic, no Russians. Gore should have won over W like Poppy did over Dukakis. (And that history would rhyme)

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    • Enervate – duly noted. I’m literally taking it to heart.

      If you are suggesting that Bush W won on the coattails of the Clinton impeachment I find that dubious (or W’ous). In my view GOP squandered a winning hand (in congress at least) by dragging the country through it.

      2000 was a change election and the GOP was always going to have something of an advantage in that regard – change vs. continuity. It was 2 years after impeachment and Clinton had boosted his approval rating into the 60s if I recall (highest in living memory). Gore was a competent, experienced, if not a very inspiring candidate, but the narrowness of the loss might say more about coming close in a change year than it does about impeachment.

      But it’s an interesting take. I will think about it.

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  5. I agree with this in general. The one big thing we don’t’ know of course is what the Mueller investigations will find. People seem to keep short cutting by saying that nothing has been found or of course we know he hires sleazy dirty folks.

    I’ve never thought the worst would be found about Trump on obstruction although Trump and Rudy’acting like Trump is the guiltiest guy who was ever guilty is swaying me towards more serious dirt will be found. But unless you are a politics junkie keeping track of an investigation like this is hard. There is all the Repub counter narrative spinning hard against it and only small details drip out. If we put all that is publicly known together it is going to look ugly, very ugly, for Trump. That will hurt him in the center and even with some R’s. But until it’s all out there with a neat bow on it, we aren’t’ really seeing the effects.

    That said Repub’s in congress won’t turn against him big time until they lose an election cycle or two regardless of the many legal problems come out of the investigation.

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  6. This “cult of the savvy” strategizing just feeds the BSDI narrative that everything is symmetrical, nothing really matters, and no one is dealing in good faith.

    We don’t need Mueller to ride to the rescue. We can see Trump using the power of his office to enrich himself and his family and pressuring the judicial branch to stand down from enforcing the law.

    Its amazing to hear people criticize the Democrats for not standing for something, then in the very next breath caution us to ignore obvious crimes for some argle bargle reasons.

    If the Democrats don’t stand for enforcing the Constitution and rule of law, then what do we stand for?
    If the citizens won’t enforce the Constitution, then who will?

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    • Democrats seem to have completely skipped enforcing the Constitution during the eight years of Obama’s presidency, and the press gave them a pass on it. That free pass is why the violations became more and more blatant and egregious. By the time anyone lowers the bar to something Trump has done, Obama and half his administration would be rotting in prison for actual crimes, such as lying to Congress about virtually everything, from Fast & Furious to the IRS under Lerner, to giving Iran access to the US financial system, to bugging the campaign of a presidential candidate for political purposes.

      In contrast, the only thing they could charge Trump with is rigid adherence to the Constitution because the press is watching him so closely that they lose their minds over his ice cream selections. That’s what’s making Trump a great president, one who will one day make Mount Rushmore much, much greater.

      If you want accountable government, you have to hold politicians accountable. That was never done with Obama but it’s done five times a day with Trump. Unfortunately, being boorish and having an accent from Queens is not an impeachable offense. You see, the Constitution says the President can only be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. For something to be remotely considered a high crime and misdemeanor it first has to be a crime and a misdemeanor. So far, there’s not even a sign of that, and strangely enough, collusion with Russia isn’t even a misdemeanor. Obama did it all the time, and Hillary took millions from them.

      But Mueller is going after something, anything, and anyone, even though the Constitution and US law says he can’t do that unless he is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate in order to hold such a position, as opposed to being appointed to investigate a particular violation of a criminal statute, which is something an independent council is empowered to do.

      So the whole thing is a kabuki dance because there was no collusion, collusion isn’t even a crime, and it’s all to cover up the fact that Obama was using our secret police agencies (FBI, NSA, and CIA) to try and rig an election. Of course all the higher ups at those agencies loudly insist that they were doing it for the good of the country, to protect the public from a grave menace. The secret police in the Soviet Union, East Germany, Poland, Romania, Cuba, Vietnam, and China were convinced of exactly the same thing. The were protecting the public by making sure the public’s voice wasn’t heard, that people they didn’t own were never given any position of power, and that the status quo was never challenged.

      Democrats keep cheering Mueller on, which is really a far bigger worry than anything Trump has ever done. Do you really want the heads of the NSA and CIA deciding who gets to be President? Do you really want that knowing that Trump gets to pick the heads of those agencies?

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    • There is a reason that people on LGM gripe about ITOKWYAR and Murc’s Law on how only Democrats have agency.

      I don’t know what drives the cult of savvy. Is it what people learn in journalism class? Is it the kind of person who goes into Beltway journalism?

      One of my gripes about a lot of journalism is how much of it seems to be journalists interested in money and comfort and fame these days. A small number reach this level but when you read many big publications it seems like they are more interested in getting a panel at Aspen or Davos than anything else. Or invites and jobs from the really powerful who now include Trump.

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      • Saul – I think I only understood one phrase in your opening sentence. :D

        Can you explain LGM, ITOKWYAR and Murc’s law? That last I take to mean that due to elite gatekeepers only Democrats have the ability to do certain things or put forward ideas?

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      • What I find so troubling is the growing sense of fatalistic acceptance of what used to be inconceivable.

        Like how in authoritarian countries people read about the President giving the telephone company to his niece as a wedding present, and immediately wonder how they can get a piece of the action.

        That this president’s daughter and son are auctioning off visas and access to foreign powers is not by itself impeachment worthy is astonishing to me.

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        • Counter-argument: America is an entrepreneurial, piece of the action country and has been so since Jamestown. Lots of Americans always wanted a piece of the action and were willing to perceive things like this with respect even if there was an alternative counter argument from the godly commonwealth side of things.

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        • Yes. It is troubling that people would even consider voting for Hillary after everything she and Bill did to enrich themselves by exploiting their positions. They raked in over a thousand times more, in inflation adjusted dollars, than was even involved in the Teapot Dome scandal.

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  7. As one that held his nose and voted for Trump, I have been pleasantly surprised by how good his Presidency has been. It could be I have gotten used to the smell, but I have learned that for me to deal with Trump, his actions speak louder than his words.

    Trump is not a politician , and likes being a Twitter troll and I have learned not to care about Today’s Terrible Trump Twitter Tirade and look for any actions. Trump boast he can ignore subpoenas, but has he? No. Trump boasts he can pardon himself, but has he? No. Wait for the actions, not the trolling.

    As for the actions those, have been quite good from my perspective, tax cuts, deregulation, support of Israel, getting North Korea to the table, etc. Most has been good, though I do disagree on some. That is not a surprise. Nobody aligns perfectly.

    So, thinking the the GOP will somehow come their senses to impeach…. never going to happen.

    Heck, the daily crying wolf by the opposition party (Dems and the media) makes me ignore it all. At this point, there would need to be a video and a dozen plus witnesses showing Trump walking up to someone, pulling a gun, shooting him, and waving the gun laughing maniacally before I would pay attention to another “scandal/ constitutional crisis” of the day against Trump.

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  8. While I would love to see Trump removed from office, I fear a Pence presidency much more. He’s a true politician and could potentially win the 2020 election. I think he would endeavor to set civil rights back 20 years and he just gives me the creeps.

    Biggest problem Dems have now is that they are running so many candidates it is really watering down the primaries.

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    • Pence is a ‘true’ politician, but he’s barely over the Mendoza line for them. He has won one, maybe two genuinely competitive elections in his own right, and under performed both times.

      He has sort of an advantage of actually having true beliefs, but that also limits the amount people can doublethink regarding him (which is possibly Trump’s greatest trick). Trump’s other weird trick is his cult of personality, which Pence, in my perception, lacks the ability to tap into, and also has no ability to generate that himself.

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  9. NPR had a segment on this recently…long and short: don’t do it or the blowback with be similar to when the repubs did it to Clinton.

    I will comment a bit on the OPs statement: “Clinton was being railroaded for personal peccadilloes” I wasn’t aware that sexual harassment was a peccadillo?

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  10. When I voted for Trump, I expected that there was a good likelihood that he would be impeached and if he were that I would support it. But that was based on the premise that they’d have a case against him, and they don’t, at least not yet.

    People have noted that impeachment as it is defined in the Constitution is inherently political, which is true. But one thing that is I have not seen emphasized elsewhere is that, as a practical matter, impeachment must be grounded in _acts_. Not crimes necessarily (although they count too) but acts, not policies and not personality traits.

    In the present instance, impeachment fails on both counts. The Demos lack the political standing in the country to successfully prosecute impeachment. They also don’t have any real clarity in their complaints, just a mess of undifferentiated anger, some of it justified, most of it not. That anger is politically important in its own terms, but as applied to impeachment, not so much.

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  11. I will comment a bit on the OPs statement:“Clinton was being railroaded for personal peccadilloes”I wasn’t aware that sexual harassment was a peccadillo?

    That was in the context of “many will argue”. I’m not trying to minimize it. I’m only illustrating how some folks minimize his behavior as something trivial and not worth impeachment.

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  12. I don’t see the Dems going for the impeachment option unless Mueller finds something quite dramatic. Pelosi and leadership have already been downplaying impeachment and if the Dems win moderately or big Pelosi and current leadership will be in the drivers seat. If the Dems don’t win or only win barely Pelosi and current leadership will be gone but the Dems won’t have the votes to impeach. I just don’t think the party simply hasn’t eaten its own brains to the point where it’ll make pointless votes to impeach like the ACA repeals over and over again. There’s just not a constituency for that on the left- or at least not one with enough money or votes for the Dem Politicians to pay them any mind.

    Besides, if the Dems win moderately or big then Trump becomes an asset. He’d continue to be an albatross around the GOP’s neck and he could be potentially rolled on policy issues. I mean look at the crap that’s leaking out of his dumpster fire of an admin with a totally servile Senate and Congress covering for him; what the fish do we think will come to light once all those committees aren’t covering his ass any more?

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  13. Great piece, and most importantly I’m SO THRILLED to see you writing here, Mark!! We chatted a couple times on Twitter last year and I read and enjoyed some of your blog posts. Hope to see lots more from you! :)

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  14. Impeachment is not happening… given what we know now. But I believe, I have to believe, there are lines that can be crossed where Republicans decide that Pence is the better bet.

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