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September 25, 2019

Comments

Of course making impeachment only about Ukraine would be a mistake. And making impeachment only about one phone call with its President would be a total blunder. But the Dems are perfectly capable of making the Byalistock and Blum blunder: mis-predicting the audience reaction.

A single act, however illegal or disgusting or treasonous, that can be undone or whose consequences can be mitigated, may seem to (some of) The American People like no big deal. A documented and publicized litany of all of He, Trump's unconstitutional and assholish behavior, demonstrating his unfitness for office, might sway even the Deplorables -- let alone the "moderates" or "swing voters" or "centrists" whose default always seems to be voting for Republicons unless there's a strong reason not to.

All that said, Bill Clinton got impeached over a single, deplorable but not very consequential, act. And we got Dick and Dubya as a consequence. So who knows?

--TP

According to Pelosi herself, as distinguished from over-simplified media blathering and sensationalizing headline writers, the impeachment inquiry is about much more than just the Ukraine story:

From a NYT article yesterday:

And Ms. Pelosi said she had directed the chairmen of the six committees that have been investigating Mr. Trump to “proceed under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.” In a closed-door meeting earlier in the day, she said the panels should put together their best cases on potentially impeachable offenses by the president and send them to the Judiciary Committee, according to two officials familiar with the conversation. That could potentially lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment based on the findings.

A lot of the media may want to let Clickbait and his enablers redirect their attention with shiny objects, but we don't have to.

never fear. Schiff, a former prosecutor, has been making a list and checking it twice.

My sense is that
a) the House needs to make impeachment about more than whatever the whistleblower is complaining of. (Which is presumably something involving Ukraine, but far, far more than just the one phone call. However hard Trump is trying to narrow the focus to that.)

b) the House also needs to avoid the kitchen sink approach. Specify the various egregious, and quickly demonstrable, violations. But don't spend the months it would take to cover everything actionable that he's done. At the latest, make the impeachment a Christmas present for the Senate; though Thanksgiving would be better.

c) for most people, the simple fact of Trump using US government (i.e. taxpater) money to extort a foreign country to help his campaign will be all they really pick up on. The other stuff may matter to some Republican Senators, who don't want to be on the other side when the next Democratic President comes along. But the biggie will be this one thing that their constituents can wrap their heads around.

gotta say, i'm surprised they released that transcript. because it pretty clearly shows Trump tying US military sales to digging up dirt on Trump's political opponents. Z says they're nearly ready to buy more missiles and Trump immediately responds with "I want you to do me a favor...[dig up dirt]". neither side seems confused about anything - they both understand what's going on.

[and Z clearly knows how to play Trump]

it's kindof remarkable.

gotta say, i'm surprised they released that transcript.

Not gonna dig for cites but I'm pretty sure it's not a transcript at all, it's a version of someone's notes.

There's an old saying, something concerning a politician, as in "Is he lying" -- "Well, is his mouth moving?"

With Clickbait, his mouth doesn't even have to be moving. He lies by merely existing. And his enablers are all in.

From another angle, if what they released is that bad, imagine what the conversation *really* included!

(Thoughts gleaned from here there and everywhere, not excluding my own brain.)

Is the call transcript/notes more than 140 characters? Yes?

Then Trump didn't read it before sending it out.

A lack of sharpie-marks on it would be a hint of that also, too.

Not gonna dig for cites but I'm pretty sure it's not a transcript at all, it's a version of someone's notes.

well, it's a real-time document of the call generated by people (professional note-takers) whose job is to document stuff like this as it happens. i imagine it was cleaned up a bit - 'ahhs' and 'umms'. but, assuming what we see is the original document (!), it's probably fairly accurate. and barring an actual recording, it's probably as good as we're going to get.

and it's crazy.

Agree that it's probably as good (or bad) as we're going to get.

But are you suggesting that there are actually people with integrity working in the WH these days? I.e. the notetakers...? And that no one messed with their work product before releasing it?

Pardon me while I take the next week off to stop laughing.

Oh, wait, I see you wrote "assuming what we see is the original..."

;-)

come to think of it...

the fact that notetakers were the only other people listed as being in the room for that call raises the possibility that one of them is the whistleblower.

I keep getting a chuckle out of hearing the audio of Rump saying that the most remarkable thing about the call was that he was so nice, as though the controversy over it has to do with his being mean or something.

Oh, he was nice on the phone? Never mind!

Or the whistleblower was in whatever part of the intelligence community (NSA?) monitors White House communications. Which seems rather more likely. Not sure if they keep recordings (the White House doesn't tape the Oval Office since Watergate), but they actually might.

Or the whistleblower was in whatever part of the intelligence community (NSA?) monitors White House communications.

the notetakers could very well have been NSC staff (according to the disclaimer).

hairshirt: Oh, he was nice on the phone? Never mind!

He, Trump probably took his mob-boss lessons from Fat Tony D'Amico, the elaborately courteous mafioso in The Simpsons.

--TP

I’m still on the road ..... San Francisco.

Have I missed anything?

everything is fine.

acting DNI told Trump he'd quit if Trump tried to muzzle him at his Congressional testimony.

all good.

Have I missed anything?

shit show has gone from 7 to 9 on the meter. just make sure you get back for the finale. free popcorn awaits.

Oh, he was nice on the phone?

not only that...it was "absolutely perfect"! god bless our great leader.

I hope the declaration of martial law, the arrest of all opposition to p and the Republican Party and the defaulting by the p Treasury Department and the Justice Department on the entire accumulated debt of the United States to fend off impeachment or even any further investigation of the fatal malignancy now killing America can be forestalled for a week so I can get home and warn that we are naively assuming that the rule of law is still operational and that we are inviting the full evil subhuman, savage, violent wrath of the soon to be butchered conservative movement.

I hate when my vacations are interrupted by the violent overthrow of the government of the country I’m traveling in.

We have no idea if the magnitude of Evil we are up against.

That the enemy seems ignorant and incompetent will only magnify the ruthless means they will use to kill all of us.

This is the set-up the conservative movement, the most dangerous piece of autocratic shit on the face of the Earth, has been waiting to enact.

This is a trap.

Trump is merely the snare and the blunt instrument.


listened to Trump speak from NY on the way home tonight.

"the airing of the grievances"

Hat top BJ commenter "Jay":


Memorandum of Phone Conversation: call was 9:03 – 9:33

Estimated time it would take to say all of the words released in the memo: 11 minutes.Checked by the great @mike_melia in our broadcast software (time of spoken words matters a lot on TV) from @NewsHour— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) September 25, 2019

Pro forma. No one thought it was an honest offering.

The transcribers left out 19 minutes of
"(incoherent babbling)"

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a29235028/president-trump-un-press-conference-ukraine-mike-pence/

At some near approaching date, massive gunfire at Mar-a-Lago as p loyalists, including his vermin consiglieries in the Republican Party, the conservative vermin media, and his base murder the remaining decent officialdom attempting to restore the rule of law in defunct America.

With the exception of the subhuman conservative rat fuckers who have already signed lucrative contracts as they throw themselves over the sinking ship railing to continue fucking America up its dupe, dreamy-eyed ass for the easy grifter bucks.

They must be hunted down and terminated.

And Republicans are immediately determined to exonerate him on the basis of the release of a ten minute précis of a half hour conversation, which is still pretty damning:
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/09/trump-ukraine-republicans-defense/598831/

Memorandum of Phone Conversation: call was 9:03 – 9:33

is that scheduled time or actual time? does it include time spent finishing writing the transcript? did it include time to establish the connection and get both speakers on the line, or did the stopwatch start when they first started talking?

AFAIK, nobody actually knows the process, so we don't know what that time actually represents.

you can find other "TELCON NCS" readouts online - fascinating things, too. see if you think the times given there match the number of words.

And Democrats are immediately determined to impeach him on the basis of the release of a ten minute précis of a half hour conversation, which is still pretty innocuous stuff.


BTW, Schiff this morning said the whistleblower report "gives us some stuff to follow up on". Translated, not much there.

Just the latest in a string of non smoking guns that Dems will hype. I dont remember now the last time I heard anything about the Mueller report.

There is a difference between being a dumbass and breaking the law.

which is still pretty innocuous stuff.

OMG. dude, Trump literally conditioned further military support on Z digging up dirt on Biden and the DNC and HRC's 30K emails.

it's right there at the bottom of page 2.

There is a difference between being a dumbass and breaking the law.

right. breaking the law is different from many things: cheese, a blue raincoat, the moon, love, cancer.

Trump broke the law.

Democrats are determined to investigate further to determine if impeachment is warranted.

here's how it works

And breaking the law isn’t required for impeachment.

BTW, Schiff this morning said the whistleblower report "gives us some stuff to follow up on". Translated, not much there.

oh my, no.

Rep. Jackie Speier: "I can describe that [whistleblower] complaint as nothing short of explosive."

Rep Swalwell: "The complaint itself is a five alarm concern". and then he goes on to say that he can't relate what he read in the transcript to the complaint itself because the DNI 'will not allow' it.

so they are clearly constrained in what they can say.

There is a difference between being a dumbass and breaking the law.

Whatever.

Criminality or gross incompetence. Why choose just one, when the whole package is available?

Enough is enough.

ITMFA

There is a difference between being a dumbass and breaking the law.

In Trump's case, the answer is BOTH.

The difference between a dumbass and a criminal is that even Marty would be embarrassed to support a criminal's "(Republican) policies". So it's important to always interpret He, Trump's dumbassery as not-criminal.

--TP

now Devin Nunes, there's a dumbass.

Trump and Rudy G...

A very smoking gun indeed...
https://www.scribd.com/document/427562501/Whistleblower-Complaint-Unclassified#fullscreen&from_embed

Ghouliani and Rump seem to have a synergistic form of batshittery between them. If you could put them in a collider of some sort to smash them together with enough force, you would likely create a black hole of nuttiness from which no particle of sanity could escape.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/crowdstrike-the-truth-about-trumps-insane-ukraine-server-conspiracy?ref=scroll

I have no problem supporting the conservative policies I agree with no matter who is President. I have, always have, supported 100% the idea that if Trump does something illegal or treasonous he should be impeached.

I find it laughable that this conversation would be considered extraordinary between two world leaders. Are we really so naive that we think that this not so subtle exercise of enormous power, Trumps or Bidens, isnt the norm?

No one would be surprised, they are just thrilled to get something new to play on CNN.

"Trumps (sic) or Bidens (sic)" Ah, yes. The Biden narrative that Dear Leader has implanted in your head is (that's all, just "is").

it's American's first Infowars administration.

need's mor'e apostrophe's

I saw what Biden said on the evening news, like, I saw him say it. Dear leader didnt put it in my brain. Are you saying Biden didnt say it?

While commission of a crime is not required for impeachment, the précis shows that the law was flat out broken.

It is a violation of Federal election law for a foreign entity (individual, company, or country) to try to influence a US election. That includes things like giving money, to a campaign or to a PAC. And it includes giving information to them as well. (But not selling stuff.)

It is also a violation to solicit a foreign entity to do so. Which, per the précis, Trump did multiple times. That précis is, in short, a confession. Period.

I have, always have, supported 100% the idea that if Trump does something illegal or treasonous he should be impeached.

Is this a special rule you have specifically for Rump? (And isn't treason illegal?)

Is there anything short of illegal (illegal meaning criminal or just illegal, like speeding?) that could justify impeachment? What about, say, gross incompetence? Keep in mind, the only objective requirement for impeachment is getting enough votes. Does this rule extend to removal from office?

Are you saying Biden didnt (sic) say it?

I don't know what "it" is.

I find it laughable that this conversation would be considered extraordinary between two world leaders.

Investigate the family of the guy who is highly likely to be my opponent a year from now, or no missiles for you.

What Joe Biden, or Hunter Biden, or anybody named Biden, did or said is not the issue. What Trump said and did is the issue.

Enough of this shit. The list of Trump's impeachable offenses is a mile long. This is just the icing on top.

ITMFA

I saw what Biden said on the evening news, like, I saw him say it.

groovy. Trump and Barr can have the FBI start an investigation into Biden any time they want. the allegations about Biden's son are many years old. why haven't they started that investigation?

i'll tell you why: because they know there's nothing there. and they also know the GOP base will be happy to freak out about it. which is handy because it would be mighty inconvenient for the GOP if the base actually paid attention to Trump's corruption.

you're being played.

see also: HRC's emails.

why did Trump never open an investigation into her, after years of screaming about how corrupt she is?

because it's a ruse to keep you cheering for team GOP.

you're being played.

I find it laughable that this conversation would be considered extraordinary between two world leaders.

And yet, a bunch of Presidential scholars say it is "unlike anything they have ever heard."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/trumps-call-with-ukrainian-leader-is-unlike-anything-presidential-scholars-have-heard-before/2019/09/25/2165b13e-dfb9-11e9-8dc8-498eabc129a0_story.html

I guess that's why electronic documentation of the call was encrypted and placed on a server intended for highly sensitive information. Marty needs to talk to whoever did that and get them to calm down.

I didnt say I thought Biden son should be investigated just the opposite. You are the one(s) being played.

HRC's emails are no ruse.. She hired a company to set up a private server to hide her emails. She didnt use google, she didnt use the government servers. Because those are backed up and have retention policies that ensure she couldnt delete them. I am not sure even the GOP realize how intentional and premeditated that criminal act was.

I agree that HRC should be locked up and the key thrown away.

Now, what should we do about Trump?

HRC's emails are no ruse.

then why haven't Trump and Barr instructed the FBI to open an investigation into her? it's not like he's forgotten about her, he talks about her all the time.

but, no investigation.

why?

because there's nothing there.

but dangling her effigy in front of the base it keeps y'all barking and howling.

you're being played.

To my knowledge it is not illegal for US presidents to blackmail foreign governments, just to do it for personal gain.
That he did so with money congress approved without attached strings is another matter (but probably common enough* to be open to dispute as far as impeachability goes).

*Iran-Contra did not lead to Reagan's downfall for example

it is "unlike anything they have ever heard."

but it's exactly what one would expect from a mobbed-up con-man and bankruptcy-addicted real-estate huckster.

thanks again, GOP. you're the best.

then why haven't Trump and Barr instructed the FBI to open an investigation into her?

Jim Comey and deep state. Duh.

'deep state' is the dark matter of Republican mythology - it binds and shapes the universe but nobody can see it directly.

To my knowledge it is not illegal for US presidents to blackmail foreign governments, just to do it for personal gain.

and personal gain is all there is in Trump's side of the call. "Congratulations. You could be more appreciative to the US. I want you to do us a favor, though. Find dirt on Biden and the DNC. My people will call you about the favor. Don't forget about Biden's son. My people will call. Your country will improve. KTHXBYE"

and, we know from the complaint that the Ukranians knew - were explicitly told - that the only way they were going to get that call is if they talked about Biden.

it's entirely about the upcoming election, and the past election [because he wants to discredit his nemesis, Mueller].

and we know that because Trump gave zero fucks about Biden's son until Biden launched his campaign in April.

Iran-Contra did not lead to Reagan's downfall for example

A brief summary of the criminal and other legal actions following Iran-Contra.

In my lifetime, (R) administrations have been notable for (1) spending like drunken sailors without providing revenue to back it up and other forms of fiscal irresponsibility, (2) handing out favors to rich dudes like candy at Halloween, and (3) breaking the law. Not "but her emails" bullshit, but profound criminality. Nixon, Reagan, both Bushes, and now Trump.

I personally have had about enough of this crap.

ITMFA

My opinion of her email antics is based on my experience managing IT infrastructures, including email systems.im not sure why anyonelet her get away with it, I just know they did.

you should probably tell Trump about this. seems like he and Barr could order the FBI to look into the matter - if they cared about it beyond using it as a bloody flag to wave in your face every time they need to distract you, that is.

it all comes back to Manafort...

The effort by President Trump to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son had its origins in an earlier endeavor to obtain information that might provide a pretext and political cover for the president to pardon his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, according to previously undisclosed records.

The only thing remotely odd about Clinton's email "antics" was having the server be physically in her home.

That was odd.

"Hiring a company" to "set up a private email server" is not, remotely, unusual. On-prem is not even that unusual, for folks who deal in information that is at all sensitive it is a common practice. "On-prem" doesn't usually mean in your own house, that is pretty much the only thing that is odd. In a professional office is pretty normal.

She ought to have used government mail service. At the time she was in office, it actually was not a legal requirement. Now it is, then it wasn't.

She provided access to the emails that were, in her estimation, related to her work. She did not provide those that were, in her estimation, private. "In her estimation" is fair game for challenge, IMO, but it is what it is. Apparently the full content of the server exists, in the form of backups maintained by a very well known 3rd party data backup provider.

It was a questionable thing to do. It was also a not-uncommon thing to do, even well into the period when it actually became illegal. Like, for instance, now.

Every damned issue, side issue, possible side issue, potentially possible side issue, about Clinton's email practices has been gone over, over and over and over and over and over, with the best collection of fine-toothed combs the federal government and the coffers of the (R)'s and their parade of paranoid conspiracy mongers could come up with.

It's fncking done. Done and done. Same with Benghazi, same with the whole list of Clinton scandals going back to Whitewater and the fabled cocaine airlift of Mena Arkansas.

HRC no longer holds any office. She isn't going to hold any office, unless some future (D) POTUS gets her onto the SCOTUS just to wind up the conservative world. Which would entertain the hell out of me, but it's not likely to happen.

Let it freaking go. Lighten your load. Feel the sunshine and breathe the fresh air, and let it freaking go.

ITMFA

the touch about moving the transcript from where these things usually stay to a classified server is nice. and i'd like to see the associated redaction.

blahblahbidenblah

I wonder why, if what we have is something that is politically sensitive (rather than national security sensitive), there is any redaction justified at all. Perhaps the tame lawyers will produce some kind of bogus rationale....

I didn't bring her up russell. But a person getting an on premise mail server to process personal mail is odd, to process government mail is far beyond unusual.

But I dont ever bring it up.

IIRC, Congress got to see (but not keep) the unredacted version before the redacted version was made public.

somebody's life is about to start sucking.

Regarding the precis of the call being nothing unusual between heads of state, I think it would depend which countries they came from, and to what extent the rule of law obtains in those countries. In any developed nation, no sensible head of state would ever have risked giving a hostage to fortune with this kind of thing, if he knew anyone else was listening - and someone else is always listening to heads of state in countries with the rule of law.

I saw what Biden said on the evening news, like, I saw him say it. Dear leader didnt put it in my brain. Are you saying Biden didnt say it?

Marty, I'm just catching up on all this, trying to make sense of what has been said or not said. I haven't heard elsewhere of anything significant Biden said, on the evening news or elsewhere. Can you tell me what it was?

But I dont ever bring it up.

LOL.

cleek introduced the topic in this thread. or, actually, Trump did, cleek was just citing it.

But "don't ever" is, perhaps, a... stretch.

The whole government comms thing, certainly in the period under discussion, was kind of a mess. Powell used his AOL account. Clinton's server was probably more secure.

I'm happy to never speak of it again.

The excellent Emptywheel on questions not asked of Maguire yesterday:

https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/09/26/the-intelligence-issues-the-house-intelligence-committee-largely-ignored/
But there were three other key issues Maguire should not have been able to dodge.

First is the allegation that Trump moved the summary of this call to the covert communications system to hide the improper nature of the call. The whistleblower complaint said that this is not the first time the White House has done so. This is a clear abuse of the legal status of covert operations dictated by the National Security Act, something for which Maguire has direct responsibility. Covert operations must be communicated, by law, to at least the Gang of Eight in Congress. That Trump has politicized and misused this system discredits a core means of accountability for the White House, on Maguire’s job directly oversees. And yet he wasn’t asked how Trump’s actions undermine the legally mandated system of covert communications.

Then there’s the fact that Trump is premising policy decisions not on the best intelligence, but instead on how he can derive personal benefit from them. His doing so is a core abuse of presidential power. But — as I noted this morning — it also robs American citizens of the benefits the entire intelligence system is supposed to ensure. Maguire admittedly cannot force the President to make the right decisions. But the repercussions of premising policy decisions on personal gain for the national security of the US should be a concern of Maguire’s. That wasn’t mentioned either.

Finally, there’s the allegation that someone without clearance and entirely outside of the intelligence community was being asked to share and act on classified information derived from the intelligence community. Maguire at one point claimed that Trump can do whatever he wants with his personal lawyer and that such discussions would be privileged (after, at another point, dodging a question because he’s not a lawyer). That’s the height of absurdity. Rudy’s pursuit of policy actions has nothing to do with his role as Trump’s personal lawyer. And as the DOJ IG complaint against Jim Comey makes clear that sharing even retroactively confidential information with your personal lawyers — as Comey was scolded for doing — is not permissible. Yes, it’s true that as President Trump can declassify anything he wants (though Comey was original classification authority for the information he shared with his own lawyers), but others in the IC cannot share information with an uncleared person without formal declassification, or they risk their own legal troubles.

“My only thought is that if the House makes this solely about Ukraine then it's a huge mistake.

(I guess my other thought is that this should have been done w/r/t W, but alas)”

W was and is part of the establishment. Impeach him and who else are you going to impeach? Ukrainegate has that narrow specificity that makes it ideal. It’s about a President using his Presidential foreign policy power not to murder people or torture them or lie about reasons to launch a war or other such peccadillos, but to gather dirt about a powerful member of the opposing party because he might be your future opponent in 2020..

Al Capone on tax evasion. This is America.

If you put all of Trump's crimes in the impeachment, it'll be the size of Crime and Punishment.

Probably need to translate from the original Russian also, too.

This is America.

and it always has been.

if you are expecting Switzerland, you're going to need to adjust your expectations.


This is America.

and it always has been.

if you are expecting Switzerland, you're going to need to adjust your expectations.

Orson Welles in The Third Man:

You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

hey, also good chocolate!

GftNC: let's not forget, though: correlation is not causation. ;-)

I.e., because one culture has insane levels of crime and also insane levels of creativity doesn't necessarily mean that one "caused" the other, ditto Switzerland's dullness. Maybe (just to take the first alternative that comes to mind) it's just because the Italians were as insanely creative in art as they were in crime, while the Swiss were just kind of bland either way.

correlation is not causation

Amen, sister, amen!

Not to say that looking at correlations isn't a good first step in looking for causation. But it's only a first step, not sufficient in itself. There's a whole lot of additional work required to actually find causation.

now if Fox News loses faith in Trump he's done for.

and wouldn't that be lovely...

The quality of Swiss chocolate is openly disputed outside Swiss borders.
As is the invention of the cuckoo clock btw.
(and the alphorn got appropriated as well and historically quite late).

now if Fox News loses faith in Trump he's done for.

and wouldn't that be lovely...

The challenge for them is twofold. First, this is going to be too big to simply ignore, or to refrain from talking about the charges and the evidence presented. Even if they cherry-pick the evidence and spin like mad, some reality is likely to seep thru. Especially with Trump taking the position of stipulating the facts and then arguing that what he admits to doing was OK.

Second, suppose the Senate actually votes to remove Trump. Admittedly that looks unlikely at the moment, but there are some signs that a cascade might not be impossible. So suppose. Then Fox News can't simply claim partisanship was all it was. And if they haven't given their viewers a clue about how things are going, they lose all credibility with their audience -- which the business simply cannot afford. (Note the management comments on the theme of "we were here before Trump, and we'll be here after him.")

So they are going to be stuck making at least some gestures towards reporting reality. Even if it means swapping out some of their Trump fanboys for less stridently pro-Trump opinion presenters.

Why would I think that there might be a cascade? This (from, be it noted, Fox News):

"I heard someone say if there were a private vote there would be 30 Republican votes. That's not true," [former Republican Senator Jeff] Flake said during a Q&A. "There would be at least 35."
When there are that many who think they should vote to remove Trump, it won't take that many growing a spine to get the rest to believe they have "sufficient cover" to do so.

The quality of Swiss chocolate is openly disputed outside Swiss borders.
As is the invention of the cuckoo clock btw.

OK, but I draw the line at Ricolas!

When there are that many who think they should vote to remove Trump, it won't take that many growing a spine to get the rest to believe they have "sufficient cover" to do so.

A question to which I'm sure we will never have a complete answer is: in how many directions do they need "cover"? They (for various values of "they") need cover with their voters, they need cover with their big U.S. donors, they need cover with, well, who knows....

Maybe (just to take the first alternative that comes to mind) it's just because the Italians were as insanely creative in art as they were in crime, while the Swiss were just kind of bland either way.

Yup, personally I always thought that the conditions which allowed for such creativity, also allowed for creativity and room for manoeuvre in villainy, which is what I guess you are saying. But of course, Harry Lime was engaging in special pleading, to excuse his own villainy.

On the chocolate question, FWIW I believe it is currently a toss-up between French and Belgian...

OT, but for anyone interested, on tonight's Amanpour & Co. on PBS, the second of the three segments is Christiane interviewing Ta-Nehisi Coates. I guess he's got a new book out.

Heaven is where the cooks are French, the police are English, the mechanics are German, the bankers are Swiss, and the lovers are Italian.

Hell is where the cooks are English, the police are German, the lovers are Swiss, the mechanics are French and the bankers are Italian.

Mix and match to suit your own prejudices.

Also OT, but again on Media, have just seen that Channel 4 News last night won an International Emmy for Data, Democracy and Dirty Tricks: The Cambridge Analytica Scandal. They deserve it, as Carole Cadwalladr has deserved all the awards she has won for the same subject, (and IMO she and the NYT should have won the Pulitzer not just been finalists!).

it's just because the Italians were as insanely creative in art as they were in crime, while the Swiss were just kind of bland either way.

I just always assumed that the Swiss, living in a nearly vertical environment, were simply out of breath.

You have to read this to believe it. Madness."

High on their own supply.

It actually kind of offends me that we, as a nation, have to afford Trump, Giuliani, Barr, and the long long list of et al's the respect and courtesy of legal proceedings like impeachment etc.

They afford no such respect to anyone or anything, anywhere.

I wish we could simply throw them the hell out. Bodily eject them from office and from any position or access to any position of public responsibility.

Just GTFO, now. Go away, don't come back.

I recognize and respect the need to observe the requirements of the rule of law, so that we don't all descend to the level of these clowns. But it does gall me.

I can't wait until our public conversation is about something other than Donald Fncking Trump and his band of merry grifters.

Soon come. May it be so.

the day after Trump leaves DC, the entire GOP will be like "Trump? Nah, we never supported him. That was just your imagination."

and they will never bring him up again.

You mean Trump the Democrat brought down by the heroic GOP?

and they will never bring him up again.

Yup. Just look how they disappeared George W. Bush. Stalin couldn't have done it better.

“There’s a difference between being a dumbass and breaking the law.”

As your attorney, Marty, I’d counsel you to take the insanity plea while it’s on the table.

Janie,

they need cover with their big U.S. donors,

I'm not so sure. Who are their big donors and what do they want that the generic Republican won't give them?

They may be happy just to get rid of Trump.

I wish we could simply throw them the hell out. Bodily eject them from office and from any position or access to any position of public responsibility.

russell, forgive me for saying so, but you are guilty of thinking small. What you want is for them to be exiled (take asylum) . . . in Honduras.

Now you could argue that Honduras is rather small, and they are quite numerous. But consider, how long would they be numerous once they arrived? Not that they can persuasively object on those grounds, since they have been advocating forcing women and children seeking asylum here be redirected there.

Who are their big donors and what do they want that the generic Republican won't give them?

They may be happy just to get rid of Trump.

Especially since it looks like keeping Trump for another year might be a formula for getting (oh, the horror!) a President Warren shortly thereafter. Complete with a Democratic Senate to allow her to enact her agenda. Getting rid of Trump is actually looking more and more like a priority for them.

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