Wednesday, November 13, 2019

It’s Showtime

Now it begins.

The House will begin the public phase of its impeachment inquiry Wednesday with Democrats and Republicans prepared to offer competing narratives of whether President Trump inappropriately pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, during televised hearings that could determine the fate of his presidency.

With separate practice sessions and in opposing memos, the two parties signaled Tuesday how they planned to present radically different interpretations of Trump’s actions and whether they were impeachable.

Democrats expressed confidence that Wednesday’s hearing would begin a serious and somber process of publicly exposing Trump’s misconduct, narrated by career diplomats who were alarmed by the president’s push to have Ukraine investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son, as well as a debunked theory concerning the 2016 election, in exchange for military aid and a White House visit coveted by Ukraine’s new leader.

“It’s time for these witnesses to go before the American people and lay out what they saw in this extortion scheme,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, which will be host to the public proceedings.

In mock hearings at the Capitol, Republicans prepared to fervently defend Trump while painting the impeachment probe as a thinly veiled show trial designed to take down a president who did nothing wrong.

“We’re just making sure we’re prepared and ready to go for the hearing tomorrow,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

The series of open hearings that begin Wednesday will be a pivotal test of lawmakers’ ability to sway public opinion for or against Trump’s impeachment in a polarized political environment where both parties are seeking to use the inquiry to their advantage heading into the 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns. It will also have the air of history — only presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton have been impeached by the House, and although neither was convicted by the Senate and removed from office, it was a defining episode of their presidencies.

It’s not like the Republicans are desperate or anything; at last count they’ve trotted out seventeen different defenses of Trump’s actions.  But it all comes down to the word of a bunch of career diplomats and professionals in the intelligence community against a proven liar.

The major networks plan to cover this live, so if you’re not enamored of this sort of thing, read a book.

Nazi Boy

Gee, what a surprise.

In the lead-up to the 2016 election, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller sought to promote white nationalism, far-right extremist ideas and anti-immigrant rhetoric through the conservative site Breitbart, according to a report released Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The report is the first installment in a series that draws on more than 900 emails that Miller sent to a Breitbart writer over a 15-month period between 2015 and 2016 and were given to the SPLC. The report describes Miller’s emails as overwhelmingly focused on race and immigration and characterizes him as obsessed with ideas such as “white genocide” (a conspiracy theory associated with white supremacists) and sharply curbing nonwhite immigration.

In the wake of the news Tuesday, at least one member of Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), called for Miller to resign.

Miller did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said via email that she had not seen the report but called the SPLC “an utterly-discredited, long-debunked far-left smear organization.”

“They are beneath public discussion, even in The Washington Post,” Grisham said of the civil rights nonprofit.

Among the more damning email exchanges highlighted in the SPLC report is one that shows Miller directing a Breitbart reporter to aggregate stories from the white-supremacist journal American Renaissance, or “AmRen,” for stories that emphasize crimes committed by immigrants and nonwhites. In another, Miller is apparently upset that Amazon removed Confederate battle flag merchandise from its marketplace in the wake of the 2015 Charleston church massacre; others reportedly show him promoting “The Camp of the Saints,” a racist French novel popular among white nationalists. (Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Post.)

SPLC’s report indicates Miller was widely successful in molding the race- and immigration-focused stories that appeared on Breitbart. It repeatedly details how an email from Miller corresponded to a related article later appearing on the site.

There’s all sorts of psychology to explain why a Jewish guy would go all in with white supremacist bullshit, but the scary thing is that this little twerp has the ear of Trump and has been dictating immigration policy since the beginning.  Very fine people on both sides, you know.

[Mocked-up photo via Balloon Juice.]

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Just Stand Back

Via the Washington Post:

The White House’s bifurcated and disjointed response to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry has been fueled by a fierce West Wing battle between two of President Trump’s top advisers, and the outcome of the messy skirmish could be on full display this week, according to White House and congressional officials.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has urged aides not to comply with the inquiry and blocked any cooperation with congressional Democrats. Top political aides at the Office of Management and Budget, which Mulvaney once led, have fallen in line with his defiant stance, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk freely about the behind-the-scenes developments.

Mulvaney’s office blames White House counsel Pat Cipollone for not doing more to stop other government officials from participating in the impeachment inquiry, as a number of State Department officials, diplomats and an aide to Vice President Pence have given sworn testimony to Congress.

Cipollone, meanwhile, has fumed that Mulvaney only made matters worse with his Oct. 17 news conference, when he publicly acknowledged a quid pro quo, essentially confirming Democrats’ accusations in front of television cameras and reporters. Cipollone did not want Mulvaney to hold the news conference, a message that was passed along to the acting chief of staff’s office, according to two senior Trump advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. A Mulvaney aide said a team of White House lawyers prepared him for the news conference and never said he should not do it.

Neither Mulvaney nor Cipollone has broad experience navigating a White House through such a tumultuous period. But their actions have contributed to the White House’s increasingly tenuous response to the impeachment inquiry, in which public hearings are set to begin Wednesday in the House. Despite the high stakes, the White House moved slowly to hire a staff specifically dedicated to working on the impeachment issue, a concern that was expressed to the White House by multiple GOP senators, Capitol Hill aides said.

“This will be the toughest political fight this White House has faced. They need to be sure they are totally focused and that all their fire is pointed outward — not at each other,” said Michael Steel, a GOP strategist who was a top aide to former House speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

Okay, now we’re getting to the fun stuff.  So far this White House hasn’t been able to coordinate a one-car parade, making it easy for the Democrats — who usually excel at dithering — to just stand back and watch.

The problem for the Trumpers isn’t so much their inability to come together.  It’s two-fold: First, they’re trying to defend the indefensible actions of their boss, who has already stood in the driveway and said, “Yeah, I did it, and I’d do it again, and I’ll keep doing it. You want it on tape?  Okay!”  Second, they’re trying to coordinate their own defense to keep from being questioned or indicted because, unlike Trump, they know that they are exposed to liability for obstruction of justice or impeding prosecution.

At some point, they’re going to come down to making the choice between saving Trump’s ass or their own.  Based on the caliber of people that have been put to work in the White House, that’s not going to be a hard choice for them, and that’s when the shit will hit the fan.

Speaking of infighting, it’s even trickling down to the next generation.

Donald Trump Jr ventured on to the University of California’s overwhelmingly liberal Los Angeles campus on Sunday, hoping to prove what he had just argued in his book – that a hate-filled American left was hell-bent on silencing him and anyone else who supported the Trump presidency.

But the appearance backfired when his own supporters, diehard Make America Great Again conservatives, raised their voices most loudly in protest and ended up drowning him out barely 20 minutes into an event scheduled to last two hours.

*Snort*

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day

One hundred and one years ago today — November 11, 1918 — the guns fell silent across Europe, marking the armistice that brought an end to the fighting in World War I. It used to be called Armistice Day. Today is the official holiday to commemorate Veterans Day.

It’s become my tradition here to mark the day with the poem In Flanders Field by John McCrae.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae (1872-1918)

I honor my father, two uncles, a cousin, a great uncle, many friends and colleagues, and the millions known and unknown who served our country in the armed forces.

My father (left) and his twin, 1944

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sunday Reading

Immunology — Amy Davidson Sorkin in The New Yorker on Trump’s frantic fight to stay out of reach.

Donald Trump, at times when it has served his purposes, has chosen to assume different personae. There was John Barron, an alias he used in the nineteen-eighties when giving false property valuations to a reporter. Later, there was John Miller, a guise he adopted to brag to People about his romances. (“He’s living with Marla and he’s got three other girlfriends.”) David Dennison was his stand-in for a hush agreement with the adult-movie actress Stormy Daniels, which has now led the Manhattan District Attorney to subpoena Trump’s accountant in an effort to get access, at last, to the President’s tax returns.

More recently, Trump has shown an elastic sense of identity in ways that exemplify his Presidential overreach and arrogance. On Halloween, in a case that has major implications for both the impeachment process and the future of executive power, a Justice Department lawyer told Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, in a district court in D.C., that Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, was “absolutely immune” from congressional subpoenas because he is “the alter ego of the President.” Apparently, he’s not the only one. The office of the current White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, has told potential witnesses in the House impeachment investigation—from Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, to Charles Kupperman, the former deputy national-security adviser—that they, too, are absolutely immune.

The argument is that certain associates work so closely with the President that they are, in effect, an extension of him, and thus free to ignore subpoenas or requests to testify. Others were told that, if they testified, they risked violating additional forms of Presidential privilege. Some witnesses, including Marie Yovanovitch, the former Ambassador to Ukraine, and Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council official, showed up anyway, and their testimony is proving devastating for Trump. More than a dozen witnesses, though, have failed to appear.

A prominent absentee was John Bolton, the former national-security adviser. On Friday, his lawyer said that Bolton’s willingness to testify depends on what the courts have to say about immunity. Bolton had a difficult relationship with Trump, who fired him, and a close view of his foreign dealings. (According to Hill, Bolton called the Ukraine scheme a “drug deal.”) His lawyer added that Bolton had new information, all of which could make him a dangerous witness for the President, particularly after this week, when public hearings begin.

But, even beyond the question of who will testify, the fights over immunity, along with a host of related legal battles, are critical, because Trump’s Presidency has been defined by his belief that he cannot be held to account. That conviction is particularly pernicious given that many of the questions at issue—What is executive privilege? Can a sitting President be indicted?—are surprisingly ill-defined in American jurisprudence. In fact, Presidents from both parties have on occasion tried to claim that close aides had absolute immunity. When President George W. Bush tested the assertion, in a case involving the former White House counsel Harriet Miers and the firing of U.S. attorneys, a federal judge ruled that no such immunity existed. But that case was settled, and never made it to even the appeals-court level. This may be the moment to establish some clarity.

The McGahn case is further along than other suits attempting to do so. (Last week, the House Intelligence Committee withdrew its subpoena for testimony from Kupperman, who had brought his own case, to keep the focus on McGahn.) The case arose from the Mueller report, which suggested that McGahn may have direct knowledge of Trump’s alleged obstructions of justice. By most accounts, Judge Jackson was taken aback by the breadth of the Administration’s claims, which included a denial that courts should be allowed to have any say in a fight between the President and Congress. “How will they resolve it on their own, then—sending the sergeant at arms to arrest Mr. McGahn?” she asked, referring to the House’s security guard. The Justice Department’s lawyers have suggested that a better idea might be for the House committees to rely on an “accommodation process”—in other words, if they were nice to Trump he might throw a few witnesses their way.

Similarly, in a case involving the Judiciary Committee’s efforts to get access to some of the Mueller report’s underlying materials, Judge Beryl Howell, the chief judge of the D.C. district court, said that the White House’s arguments that it was going along with normal processes “smack of farce.” (On October 25th, she ruled for the committee, although her order has been stayed.) And Judge Victor Marrero, the district-court judge in the tax-return case, noted that the President’s argument would “potentially immunize the misconduct of any other person, business affiliate, associate, or relative who may have collaborated with the President in committing purportedly unlawful acts.”

Marrero ruled against Trump on October 7th; an expedited appeal was heard two weeks later. In those oral arguments, Judge Denny Chin, of the Second Circuit, asked the President’s lawyer William Consovoy if he was actually arguing that, owing to Presidential immunity, Trump really could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and local authorities would not be able to pursue the case while he was President. “Nothing could be done?” Chin said. Consovoy replied, “That’s correct.”

The crudeness of the Administration’s arguments obscure the delicacy of the constitutional questions. Trump appears unwilling to accept the idea that weighing the President’s powers and privileges against other parties’ rights and interests is essential to a healthy constitutional system. (The Supreme Court performed such a balancing test in ordering Richard Nixon to turn over the White House tapes.) For Trump, it’s all or nothing. But the corollary to any claim of criminal immunity is that the alternative the Constitution provides—impeachment—must not be undermined.

The House isn’t waiting for all the missing witnesses to appear, or for all the cases to reach the Supreme Court. Instead, Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, warned last week that the President’s frantic efforts to sabotage the process could, in themselves, be impeachable offenses. As the list of charges grows, more people will be called to testify before the House, and then, most likely, the Senate—and their names may even surprise Donald Trump.

I Can Drive My Own Car, Thanks — Beth Teitell in the Boston Globe on automated safety features.

Debbie Abdon was driving home to Milton from the Honda dealer, making what should have been a celebratory trip in her new white Accord, only to feel like she’d bought a haunted vehicle.

The wheel vibrated in her hands. It pulled her to the right. “It scared the daylights out of me,” she said. “She freaked,” her husband said.

Once she was off the highway, Abdon would learn that the wheel’s “possessed” behavior was intended to keep her safe, a feature of Honda’s Lane Keeping Assist System.

But when she was driving on I-95, the now-retired food service worker wasn’t thinking about how even entry-level cars now have “active” safety systems that come close to driving for you. She was thinking about how the big truck to her right was too close for comfort, which made her edge slightly leftward, which in turn prompted the safety system to fight her for control of the car by steering it back to the middle of her lane.

Once home, Abdon promptly disabled the feature. “Whoever is driving should be in control of the car,” she said.

For some large fraction of drivers that’s become a call to action. More than one in five drivers have disabled a safety feature, according to a new study by Liberty Mutual Insurance. The top reasons are good old-fashioned annoyance at all those beeps and flashing lights, and distrust of technology.

Millennials, by the way, disable the systems significantly more than other generations — 35 percent compared to 18 percent of Gen X and 10 percent of baby boomers, the study found. (The study was silent on whether the numbers reflect a youthful disregard for safety, or the boomers’ inability to figure out how to shut off the annoyances.)

If you’re still driving an older car, here’s a glimpse into the new world of automotive nagging: systems that can detect when a car is in your blind spot, or a pedestrian is about to step into your path, and even when another vehicle is about to come across behind you when you’re in reverse. Somehow the car can also figure out when a driver may be too tired, and suggests a break.

Many drivers find lane-departure warnings particularly annoying. The system uses a camera to monitor when the car drifts beyond the lane marking, and sets off an audio, visual, or other alert. Particularly aggressive systems, such as the one in Abdon’s car, not only vibrate, but steer a driver back to the center of the lane.

There is so much to these new safety systems that there’s now a website devoted to them: MyCarDoesWhat.org.

Driver-drowsiness detectors, the site explains, typically work by tracking how often a driver departs from the center of the lane over a set period of time.“More advanced versions can ‘learn’ what your normal driving patterns are when you aren’t drowsy,” the site explains. “If you then begin to drive unusually — such as making many sudden maneuvers or stops — the system may suggest you may be drowsy and should take a driving break.”

In Boston, where we’re blessed to have fellow motorists providing roadway guidance — in the form of a raised middle finger, perhaps, or honking — many drivers don’t want input from their cars, too. And they’re showing up at auto repair shops seeking help, unaware they can turn the offending systems off on their own.

George Jr., a co-owner of Brighton Motor Services, who declined to give his last name, said that not only do people use mechanics as therapists — “You wouldn’t believe half the stuff people tell us about,” he said, “their sexual relationships, they’ve got a family member in jail . . .” — but they also want mechanics to silence their cars.

Customers have asked him to disable blind-spot warning systems. “They buzz people’s butts and they don’t like it,” he said.

But there’s no way he’s assuming that kind of liability. “If I disable it and something happens, everything falls on the shoulders of the small auto repair shop,” he said.

Speaking of therapists, maybe drivers should look within themselves for the problem, and learn, for example, to stay within the highway’s painted lines, and not blame safety features, said Jim Motavalli, a freelance auto writer and the author of “High Voltage: The Fast Track to Plug In the Auto Industry.”

He likened attempts to silence safety-related beeping to the irritation some drivers feel about the “check engine” light. “People are more concerned with getting the light off than addressing the circumstances behind why it came on.”

The warnings can be so confusing, in fact, that a driver may not even be sure what the car is trying to say. That’s what happened to Eric Mauro, a local stained glass artist, this summer, when he and his wife rented a car in Madrid and thought that thumping sound they kept hearing was the result of driving over what must have been bumps in the road.

Nope. The thumping was the rental’s way of telling Mauro that he was going over a painted lane marker without using his blinker. Considering how hectic the driving already felt — “people drive like maniacs,” he said — he took the time to figure out, in Spanish, how to disable it.

“The other drivers were already clear on what I was doing wrong,” he said.

Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute have found that many safety features reduce crashes. Cars with lane-departure warning systems had 11 percent fewer single-vehicle, sideswipe, and head-on crashes than those without the technology, for example. Blind-spot detection systems led to a 23 percent decrease in lane changes with injuries.

The technology isn’t foolproof, of course, as per this recent press release: “AAA Warns Pedestrian Detection Systems Don’t Work When Needed Most.”

Meanwhile, safety is one issue. Art is another. One shudders to think what this all means for Hollywood.

Imagine that famous scene in “On the Waterfront” in a modern vehicle: Marlon Brando playing the washed-up boxer Terry, confronting his brother in the back of a cab outfitted with today’s safety features.

“You shoulda looked out for me a little bit,” he would tell Charley, as Leonard Bernstein’s dirge-like score plays in the background. As Brando winds up for his big line, the cab driver makes the mistake of drifting out of his lane. “I coulda had class. I coulda been a’’ — beep, beep, beep.

Doonesbury — Read all about it.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Friday, November 8, 2019

Sixteen Years

It was a very different time when I sat down at my computer in my little apartment on November 8, 2003, and wrote the first post on Bark Bark Woof Woof.  I was a year into my job with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, my daily driver was a 1995 Mustang GT convertible, the Pontiac was in retirement, my playwriting was unknown to all but a few dear friends, and I was incensed at the venality, criminality, and careless warmongering of George W. Bush.

This is what it looked like five months in:

Ah, those were the days.

Today I’m retired from M-DCPS, my daily driver is a 2007 Mustang, the Pontiac has been restored and going to car shows (and winning on occasion), my plays have been performed all over the country and overseas, and George W. Bush is no longer the worst president in the history of the country.  And since that Saturday afternoon, I’ve written 29,077 posts.  I’ve made an effort to post something every day, missing a few due to weather and internet issues, but finding something to say or observe or just put up for the fun of it.  I’ve made friends along the way; shared their joys and losses, learned a great deal about a lot of things, and on rare occasions been noticed by people who are worth being noticed by.  I’ve posted in a lot of different places: three different homes here in Miami, numerous hotels from New York for my off-off-Broadway opening to Alaska, the homes of friends and family, and even internationally (Canada).  I’ve shared a lot of personal stories, pictures of the family, and my own losses.  After all, that’s what blogging was all about then, and in this rapidly-changing world, what it still is.  And they said it wouldn’t last.

Thank you, dear reader, for coming here whenever you do and seeing what I’ve put up, and for those of you who comment, a sincere thanks for your support, your guidance, your corrections, and your indulgence. I’ve gotten to know many of you in real life and I truly appreciate your friendship and support.

I’d also like to thank my brother CLW for the amazing work he’s done over the years in his technical advice, support, and commiseration in keeping this effort afloat.  He’s been the designer and engineer in the move from Blogger to WordPress and from ASO to AWS.  Despite the fact that we could not live further apart in the contiguous United States, he’s a lot closer than ever before.  Thank you, my brother.

So, as I said back at the beginning, Here Goes.  We’ve got a lot to do — a country to save, a Pulitzer to win (okay, I’ll settle for a Tony) — and with a little more time on my hands, I’ll ask the same question President Jed Bartlet asked: What’s next?

The Basics

Josh Marshall sums up the case.

Here are some basic thoughts about what happened in this story, what matters and how to describe it.

The President used extortion to cheat in the 2020 presidential election. He used military aid dollars meant to aid an ally against his Russian patrons in order to force Ukraine to intervene in the 2020 elections, in order to remain in office by corrupt means.

There are various crimes that get committed along the way. But that is the core of it. The President is delegated vast powers to act in the national interest and he has vast discretion to determine what he or she believes the national interest is. But when he uses those powers for his own personal or financial gain they are illegitimate on their face, abuses of power and merit impeachment. The fact that he was doing so to sabotage a national election makes it vastly worse. And the fact that he was getting a foreign power to sabotage a US election makes it worse still. Any talk of “quid pro quos” and this and that minutiae is a distortion of what happened. Quid pro quos are simply exchanges of one thing for another. Presidents will ask for help on one bill in exchange for another. They’ll condition one kind of aid to a country on assistance on another foreign policy goal. In itself it means nothing. The crimes are bribery and extortion, the abuses of power are using presidential power for personal gain and the central offense against the state is the attempt to sabotage a national election, the event on which the legitimacy of the entire system rests.

It’s pretty obvious on its face that the President did these things for his own personal interest rather than the national interest. But even this isn’t left to accusations or logic or surmise. His chief coconspirator has said repeatedly that all his actions were done exclusively in the interest of Donald Trump. Rudy Giuliani reiterated the point as recently as last night.

We don’t even need to get into the other crimes involved, having a crooked lawyer taking over US foreign policy in a critical part of the world and sidelining professional diplomats. We just focus on the core thing. The President is given tremendous power to advance the national interest, see that the laws are enforced, preserve the national welfare. These aren’t powers that he owns personally. They are delegated for these ends. Your banker has great power to act on your behalf. They have no right to steal your money. A doctor has vast powers to cut your body, make decisions when you are unconscious. They no right [sic] to kill you or sell your organs or fondle you for their personal satisfaction. It’s all the same thing. Stop saying quid pro quo or getting lost in the details. The crimes are clear. Use language that accurately describes them.

This should be what the whole discussion should be about, whether it’s in the well of the Senate or across the Thanksgiving table with your Fox-addled uncle.  Game, set, match.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Snowflakes Down South

Trump is expected to show up at the game between Alabama and LSU on Saturday, so the student government is taking all the necessary precautions to insure that the Dear Leader is met with fawning adoration.  Y’see, it’s perfectly okay to mock liberals and the “politically correct,” but when it comes to expressing your negative feelings about Trump, well, oh my, get the smelling salts and fainting couch, Melanie.

The Student Government Association at the University of Alabama is warning groups that protesting President Trump during the Tide’s Saturday game vs. LSU could result in loss of reserved seating for the remainder of the season.

A letter from Jason Rothfarb, vice president of Student Affairs, said additional security will be in Bryant Denny’s student section during the Saturday afternoon football game. President Trump is expected to be in the audience.

Disruptive protests against the president will have consequences, Rothfarb wrote.

“Any organizations that engage in disruptive behavior during the game will be removed from block seating instantly for the remainder of the season,” he wrote.

After the expected push-back from folks who believe in the First Amendment, a follow-up statement was issued.

Jason Rothfarb, vice president for Student Affairs for University of Alabama SGA, issued a follow-up statement regarding his previous email related to disruptions during the Alabama/LSU football game. The email was published via social media:

“Some have misinterpreted my comment regarding “disruptive behavior.” As with other games this season, Organization’s Block Seating locations will be clearly marked, but at certain times, other students can and should have access to open seats. By disruptive behavior, we are asking students to be respectful to all students and staff and avoid altercations.

My email has nothing do with anyone’s First Amendment rights and I am sorry for any confusion. Please express yourself and especially your pride for the Tide.”

Rothfarb’s comments come after a letter was sent to block seat groups warning that “Any organizations that engage in disruptive behavior during the game will be removed from block seating instantly for the remainder of the season.”

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a college football game, but it wasn’t exactly like watching Wimbledon no matter who was in the stands.

Preview Of Coming Distractions

The Kentucky governor race was close, so of course the losers are raising a stink.

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers threw another wrench into the state’s razor-thin gubernatorial outcome late Tuesday night, saying that the legislature could decide the race.

Stivers’ comments came shortly after Gov. Matt Bevin refused to concede to Attorney General Andy Beshear, who led by roughly 5,100 votes when all the precincts were counted.

“There’s less than one-half of 1%, as I understand, separating the governor and the attorney general,” Stivers said. “We will follow the letter of the law and what various processes determine.”

Stivers, R-Manchester, said based on his staff’s research, the decision could come before the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Under state law, Bevin has 30 days to formally contest the outcome once it is certified by the State Board of Elections. Candidates typically ask for a re-canvass of voting machines and a recount first.

The last contested governor’s race was the 1899 election of Democrat William Goebel.

I fully expect to see stories like this all across the country a year from now if Trump loses by anything but a landslide, and if you thought Bush v. Gore in 2000 was disruptive, disheartening, and basically third-world tin-pot-despot kind of result, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  Plus it’s going to cost a ton of taxpayers’ money to prove that yes, the vote count was right and YOU LOST.

Desperate Defense

Sound familiar?

The problem with pivoting from “no quid pro quo” to “yes there was one, but it isn’t that bad” is that they then have to explain why Trump lied about it — and continues to. Apparently, they’re going with, “He’s too stupid to know what any of this means.”

But didn’t he tell us that he’s a Very Stable Genius and that no one is smarter than he?

I guess when you’re that desperate, you’ll try anything.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Good Morning, Schadenfreude

Kentucky, a state that went 30 points over Clinton for Trump, elects Democrat Andy Beshear as governor, and Virginia flips both state houses to the Democrats.

Washington Post:

Democrats’ claim of victory Tuesday in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race, as well as the Democratic takeover of the Virginia state legislature, left Republicans stumbling and increasingly uncertain about their own political fates next year tied to an embattled and unpopular president.

Many allies of President Trump rushed to explain away the poor performance of incumbent Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) as an anomaly, while other GOP veterans expressed alarm about the party’s failure in a state where Trump won by nearly 30 percentage points in 2016 — and where he just campaigned this week.

Although Bevin was controversial and widely disliked, he was also a devotee of the president, embracing Trump’s agenda and his anti-establishment persona. And in the contest’s final days, Bevin sought to cast his candidacy as a bulwark against House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry of Trump.

And of course Trump made it all about him.  At a rally in Fayette County, which Beshear won by 2 to 1, he screamed, “You’re sending that big message to the rest of the country, it’s so important… Because if you lose it sends a really bad message. And they will build it up. You can’t let that happen to me.”  (Last night, among the rubble, Don Jr told Laura Ingraham that the election had nothing to do with Trump.)

Loser Bevin has yet to concede, claiming there were “irregularities.”  But according to Kentucky law, there are no automatic recounts; the loser has to petition a court, and the court has to grant it.

It’s going to be fun to watch Trump explain this one — as one commenter said, the result won’t be official until Trump tweets something bad about Bevin — and Mitch McConnell, who faces reelection in 2020, has got to be wondering if his carapace will protect him; he’s way behind in polls as of now.

In Virginia, both houses of the state legislature flipped from GOP to Democrat:

Several results were still close after polls closed on the most expensive and most watched Virginia legislative races in years, but Democrats flipped at least two seats in the state Senate and at least five in the House of Delegates to take majorities in both.

And to put a cherry on top:

A legion of reasons propel political neophytes to run for office, but none may be as unusual as what inspired Juli Briskman, the cyclist who gave President Trump the finger two years ago and found herself without a job and at the center of a national uproar.

On Tuesday, Briskman got a new job, winning a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors — ousting a Republican in the process.

“It’s feeling fantastic, it’s feeling surreal,” Briskman, 52, a Democrat, said by telephone as she celebrated her victory. “The last two years have been quite a ride. Now we’re helping to flip Loudoun blue.”

In 2017, Briskman was engaged in a different form of flipping, this one involving her middle finger, which she raised as she rode a bicycle alongside the presidential motorcade as Trump departed his golf club in Sterling.

In Mississippi, Democrat Jim Hood lost his race for governor, but it was comparatively close, and after all, it’s Mississippi.

All in all, it was a great night and hopefully, a harbinger of things to come.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019