Step Aside, Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi
Never bring a milquetoast to a knife-fight.

Mueller did all the hard work for her.  Hell, Trump is begging her to impeach him.  He orders his minions to ignore Congressional subpoenas  while he and his macabre circus continue full-bore: kids remain in for-profit concentration camps, environmental protections are weakened, advanced weaponry and nuclear assistance flow to repressive regimes, enemies are emboldened, etc.

Nancy apologists argue that given that the corrupt Mitch Senate would never vote to convict, it isn’t worth the effort to impeach.  She is biding her time, they say, until she has an incontrovertible case that would somehow magically force Mitch’s hand.

Bullshit.  The only way to deal with a bully and his gang is to go on the offensive.  Barr won’t release the report?  Lock him up in contempt of Congress.  IRS instructed not to release Trump’s tax returns?  Munchkin joins Barr in the slammer.   Start impeachment now, and knowing that Mitch won’t convict, drag the process out – make sure we have a hearing daily.  In fact, start by calling in Chao, Mitch’s wife, and get their taxes while you are at it!  That shows the repugs that we mean business.

How do we deal with Trump in the meantime?  Keep him freaked out, a remarkably easy thing to do.  Get his old business manager Allen Weisellberg, and Deutsche Bank officials to testify about shady real-estate deals.  Subpoena Beavis over his Trump Tower collusion meetings.  Subpoena Ivanka over her China trademarks.  Hell, bring in Melanoma over her genius visa.

Trump will consider all these personal attacks.  If that doesn’t lead to a nervous breakdown or heart-attack, it would at least keep him at his most deranged (non-stop aggro tweeting, angry word-salad rants, etc), taking way the 10 minutes a day where he actually sits down to sign the executive orders written by his industry-hack cabinet.

We are seeing the Pelosi of the Bush years, the one who went along to get along, voting to enable Bush to invade Iraq, spy on Americans, dish out massive subsidies to Big Oil and Big Ag, and pass massive tax cuts for the rich.  She criticizes, shrugs and slow-claps while we are on the verge of or possibly in the midst of a Constitutional crisis.

She must step aside in favor someone who can do the job that needs to be done.

 

The Siegfried State of the Union

trumpsinging The vote to release of the House Intelligence Committee’s “secret” memo (and the vote to suppress Dem committee members’ minority report. The pressure on, resignation of, and subsequent humiliation of FBI Deputy Director McCabe, and the GOP and right wing media echo chamber’s FBI/Secret Society/Conspiracy Du Jour smearing of Mueller, while Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors marches forward to a steady drumbeat….it feels operatic.  Will Trump stay ‘on script’ tonight, dutifully reading the teleprompter to media acclaim of his presidential and dignified address, or will we get the shrieking Valkyrie, calling doom upon his enemies?

More likely, given the low bar he (and his spiritual predecessor Bush) established,  he will mumble incoherently through a journeyman address, then go crazy tomorrow in the AM and tweet doom upon his enemies from the toilet.

Sadly, we’re still suffering through the Seigfried stage of the Ring Cycle, with the protagonist seemingly unstoppable, and we still have a ways to go before we watch his downfall in the Gotterdammerung, following the 2018 elections, victory of the Dems and subsequent impeachment hearings.

 

Is a special counsel for Trump-Russia really the best option??

(*tap, tap… is this thing still on?*)

As shown by the lack of posts from me here since Inauguration Day, I’ve had a hard time finding anything useful to say about the unprecedented dishonesty, unprecedented corruption, and unprecedented incompetence of the Trump administration.  There’s plenty of folks with bigger megaphones to decry the wrongness of their latest specific missteps, and the sheer unpredictability of Trump’s whims made it difficult to take a longer view.

But I’ve finally found a point where I dissent from the progressive consensus, so it feels like I should weigh in.  In the justified firestorm of outrage after Jim Comey’s firing as FBI director, the central demand among Democrats in Congress — and progressives in general — has been for the naming of a special prosecutor (or, to be technically accurate, a special counsel) to take control of the FBI’s investigation of connections between Russia and President Trump’s election campaign.

Being sufficiently old to remember previous investigations of Republican presidents, though, I wonder if that’s really the best thing to demand.  First of all, calling for a special counsel seems like an all-or-nothing bet on exactly who is named to do the job. If a loyal GOP hack whose highest priority is to neuter the investigation is picked (as happened when Joseph DiGenova was named to investigate the first Bush administration’s 1992 search for dirt on Bill Clinton), the pressure and demands will have backfired completely.

The independence and capability of the special counsel who is named will depend almost completely on the integrity of the person doing the picking — in this case, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was either complicit in or exploited by the process of Comey’s firing.  And if Rosenstein has enough of a conscience and a spine to appoint a genuinely aggressive special counsel, why not simply let Rosenstein continue to oversee the existing FBI investigation?

Even in the best-case scenarios, special counsels going after GOP presidents have led to often-delayed investigations and meager results.  Patrick Fitzgerald was named in December 2003 to find out who leaked Valerie Plame’s covert CIA identity; it took almost two years to indict Scooter Libby, and another year and a half to get a conviction… which was promptly wiped away by George W. Bush’s commutation of the sentence before Scooter had served a single day.  Similarly, the Iran-Contra probe by Lawrence Walsh dragged on for six years, and had its key convictions overturned on appeal and remaining prosecutions erased by G.H.W. Bush’s Xmas eve pardons (bit of a family tradition there, eh?).

Is that really the route we want the Trump-Russia investigation to take?

I’m all in favor of pressure tactics to force an independent probe, but I think perhaps we should be pushing for a genuinely bipartisan congressional investigation, as well as whatever can be done to shield the existing FBI probe(s) from Trumpian influence.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert about all of the alternative processes (including those I just mentioned), but it seems to me that the goal is to get as much information irrevocably out in public as soon as possible — and the hard lesson of experience seems to be that special counsels don’t provide this result.