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    August 2018
    S M T W T F S
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The Lack of Belief In Good
      Are humans good, bad or neutral? It’s an old philosophical debate, and not just in the West. Confucius thought they were born neutral, for example, while the later Confucian Mencius felt they were good, noting that everyone who saw a child fall into a well would be horrified. Others, including many Confucians and the Christian church, with original sin, have […]
  • Top Posts

All hell breaks loose?

It’s 5 business days to vacation. Will I make it? Going 7 years without a vacation is like running a super iron man triathlon and dragging my sorry ass over the finish line.

In the meantime, Methodical Mueller is taking his time organizing all the felonies into one larger talking indictment, or whatever the hell they’re called. I have to admit that even I’m getting impatient. It seems like it’s taking too long. But when I compare it to the Whitewater investigation, I realize my impatience is due to the complete absence of leaks. All we see is the panic and tension in the hierarchy of players as Mueller’s investigation homes in on his target(s).

Anyone want to guess what that breach is between Trump and Sessions? I don’t think Lindsay Graham was necessarily throwing Sessions under the bus. Maybe he was just stating the obvious. Sessions isn’t protecting Trump and he wants a different AG. Sounds to me like Graham is saying that by the time Trump appoints someone more to his liking, the damage will be done. Maybe Sessions got a Senator to sign off on getting Trump’s tax returns. Or maybe Sessions told him about the discoveries of all Trump’s organized crime connections. That would explain why Trump is flipping out over Bruce Ohr. It’s not his wife’s connections to GPS Fusion. It’s that Ohr understands how the Russian Mafia works.

Whatever is actually going on, there’s a slight possibility that Mueller is going to make a revelation today. Slight because I don’t think he’s going to do anything before it’s time. In fact, I don’t think Trump is safe from this typical timeline. He’s not on the ballot. And Republicans who aren’t implicated in any of his crimes can safely denounce him when the truth comes out.

No, I don’t think there will be any big revelations today. If Mueller is the kind of prosecutor I think he is, he’s going to continue the investigation right through October and let Trump and his droogs twist in the wind waiting for the final report.

I wouldn’t put it past him to indict if it’s serious enough.

It’s probably that serious.

update: Amy Siskind made the observation that Trump hasn’t tweeted once today. Of course, this doesn’t mean he’s worried or anything. He might be off to some stupid Trump hotel for Labor Day weekend. Still, presidenting has never stopped him from tweeting so what’s going on?

Any news? Rumors? Idle speculation?


Walk to work music


Congratulations #marchforourlives

Your messages made a difference yesterday in Florida. You crushed it in Broward.

“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

–JRR Tolkien


For David, Emma, Jaclyn, Cameron, Delaney, and all the other young activists in Florida:


City tableau: I was walking down Liberty Ave in Pittsburgh on my way to work. In the morning, you will occasionally find drunks passed out in the vestibules of some of the shops. The must stagger out of the bars in the wee hours and can’t make it more than a few feet before they collapse in the closest shelters they can find.

Yesterday, I saw a little assembly around one of these little shelters. There were two sleepers on the ground surrounded by three teenagers in plastic lawn chairs. They were guarding the sleepers. Just sitting there, making sure that no one got close. They looked up at me silently and fiercely as I walked by. The sleepers were undisturbed in their oblivion.

There is still good in the world.

To impeach or not to impeach

I heard someone on the radio say last night that Trump is the “weak person’s strong man”.

Weakness could mean so many different things but I think he’s referring to a kind of weakness of morals and thought. A weak person doesn’t attempt to reason or discover the root causes of their unhappiness. A weak person allows the bully to do the work they feel incapable of doing. Success or self actualization takes hard work and introspection, knowing oneself and one’s limitations.

It’s so much easier to let someone like Trump kick people when they’re down as long as they’re the right people.


Fivethirtyeight had a debate over whether or not the Democrats should run on impeachment with each member of the group taking a different argument for or against. The choices were:

1.) Run on impeachment.

2.) Don’t run on impeachment but win the House and do it anyway.

3.) Wait until the findings of the Mueller investigation, then decide if impeachment is warranted.

4.) Don’t impeach in any case. Wait until 2020 and vote Trump out.

But there is a fifth argument that they didn’t discuss that is for me the best one.

5.) Choice.

It goes like this:

We don’t know what the results of the Mueller investigation are going to show. It could be nothing more than a minor infraction, like Clinton lying about what he did with Monica. The impeachment bar was set dangerously low in order to carry out a hit on Clinton. And while there are still some elderly ladies who reach for their smelling salts over the concept of blow jobs in the Oval Office, the rest of us understand that the breathless declarations of horror and honor besmirched were cynical and opportunistic. The infraction itself did not meet the requirements of “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

I think we can all agree that none of us want to go through that again.

But what if what Mueller finds, as it looks increasingly likely, that Trump is running an organized crime racket and was conspiring with a foreign government to put America at the service of that foreign government. What if Trump has committed human rights violations? What if he commits war crimes? Like stealing another country’s oil? Let’s just think of the most likely scenario: Mueller finds evidence of extensive money laundering, bank fraud and tax evasion and assisting Russia of manipulating the election in order to secure the lifting of sanctions.

I think even the most hardened Trumper would have to admit that if there were hard evidence of Trump committing crimes that none of the rest of us could get away with, that impeachment would be reasonable. But if that’s not enough, let’s say that Mueller finds the smoking gun that authorized Russian hackers to change election results in Pennsylvania.

And let’s say that this coincides with a economic difficulty caused by tariffs or maybe healthcare insurance becomes unaffordable to all but the wealthy who can afford to take care of themselves due up Trump’s intentional dismantling of Obamacare.

If Republicans are in charge of the House and Senate when that comes out, and Trump decides to strike out at his opponents, there will be nothing voters can do to put the genie back in the bottle.

The party doesn’t appear to have any inclination to hold Trump accountable, no matter what he does. That makes the upcoming election especially critical. Given Trump’s temperament and appetite for power, there will be no one to check him unless Democrats get the house back.

Think of it as nuclear deterrent.

There’s nothing voters like less than choice. They don’t like it when you shove someone down their throats and tell them they have no choice. They don’t like it when their choices are taken away from them. And according to game theory, you are more likely to win by trading what you have for what’s behind door number 2.

But voting to continue the Republican lock on all three branches of government effectively eliminates all possibility of choice down the road.

You may choose to impeach, you may have to, even if you don’t want to now. You can’t do that with Republicans in charge. So, giving Democrats control of the House will at least allow the voter to apply pressure on the Senate to hold Trump accountable. Without it, we might as well be living under a dictator. A very childish, spoiled, criminal, cruel, vindictive dictator.


Walk to work music:

That’s the best argument.

John McCain (1936-2018)

John McCain has died. He was a complex human being who defied the odds by being defiant. A man who rebelled early and often.

I didn’t like most of his politics but he was the only Republican I had any respect for and would have felt comfortable with having him as president. He was brave and got wiser with age. I think he would have occupied the office with honor.

I am very sorry to see him go.

Need for Speed

The revelations are coming fast and furious. It reminds me of the last days of Watergate when Richard Nixon lost the plot and started wandering around the White House talking to portraits of dead presidents. In other words, we have reached a tipping point. I can feel it.

That’s going to have downstream consequences and I don’t mean it’s going to make everyone poor when Trump resigns. I mean that the Republican controlled congress has been putting off the inevitable for two years. Now they have to quickly finish their tasks and install Kavanaugh before it’s too late. I hold with my prediction that they’re going to ram his confirmation through quickly without any Democrats. And we may not be able to count on McCain to be outraged and principled enough to give a thumbs down. I’m even cynical enough to believe that McConnell et al are waiting for McCain to die so they can quickly get a replacement to be the vote they need.

So, we are in a race against time. Trump is going down. There’s no question of that. Will he resign before September 4? That remains to be seen. At the pace we’re going, I wouldn’t count on him to last the weekend. But with Trump, you never know.

What comes after Trump could get very scary. And I’m not referring to Pence. I’m referring to the hard core Trumpers who think this is about overturning a legitimate election. It is not. It’s about getting to the bottom of how an organized crime boss got to the highest office in the country so that it never happens again.


I fell asleep with MSNBC in my ears, which is somewhat less breathless and dramatic than CNN. Ok, there’s less pie fighting between guests anyway. My gut reaction, for what it’s worth:

To take down a threat as big and corrupt as the Trump Crime Family, you have to have an equally big counter weight of Eliot Ness type crusaders. And I’m not just talking about the Justice department or the Intelligence agencies.

It feels like some people have finally cracked the Republican code for figuring out how to drive someone out of office.

Now, don’t get me wrong. These people, the Trumps and an untold number of the GOP, really deserve it. It wouldn’t be worth all this effort to take down some rinky dink run-of-the-mill incompetent and wreckless GOP president like George W. Bush. No, you just have to let that kind of tragedy run its course. But for truly cruel, thuggish, greedy, bad guys like the Trump Crime Family and its enablers, nothing short of an all out Chicago Way style battle is going to work.

I think it’s the timing of the events yesterday that made my tin foil antenna twitch. I’d been hearing for a few days that Cohen was going to be indicted. But to time it so that his confessional would coincide with the jury verdict in the Manafort trial? Maybe Cohen’s was scheduled in advance regardless of the jury but it wasn’t postponed. No, it was “go with throttle up”.

Then there was Duncan Hunter getting indicted for … campaign finance violations. Who could have predicted? And that follows on the heels of Chris Collins suspending his campaign over an insider trading indictment.

I have this feeling that there are going to be a LOT of these kinds of indictments coming up. How conveeeeeeenient.

It’s like some political insiders, chess masters, ruthless street fighting lawyers, Mr. MoneyBucks funders and brave little porn stars got together and decided to fight back. It’s like the least likely set of action heros imaginable. A new kind of justice league.

They’ve been biding their time, sacrificing a few of their own and waiting for just the right moment.

It’s almost like this goes beyond politics. It’s like someone actually gives AF.

Of course, I could be all wrong about this and it’s just a Dream.

But it’s better than the Trumpish nightmare we’ve been living for the last two years.

Cue the special effects massive crashing climax.


Morning music:

All the truth you can eat

Worth mentioning:

Paul Manafort, convicted felon in the first of his two trials, was Trump’s Campaign manager.

Michael Cohen, who pled guilty to a bunch o’felonies, was deputy finance chairman of the GOP.

I don’t think Trump is the only Republican politician with something to hide.

Then there’s Mike Flynn, George Pappadopolous, Rick Gates…

Looks like we got ourselves a coven.

and then there’s this:

Jeez, she looks like a saint by comparison.

Yeah, what she said.

If you don’t guard your stash, they *will* come for it.

Don’t think it can’t happen. None of us thought Trump could happen either.

Updating the model

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight has a new model out on the 2018 elections. He gives Democrats a 3 in 4 chance of taking back the House. In the latest podcast, the FiveThirtyEight team discuss where the fault lines are this year and why the Trump coalition is tenacious but can’t afford to lose any members.


In other news, the jury is still out in the Manafort trial, Michael Cohen is about to be charged, George Pappadopolous is going to jail for lying to the Federales, and Mueller sure is finding a whole lotta witches.


By request, Air Supply. I think someone is trying to guess my age. Give up.