Another roadside distraction. And another. And another.

This is a photo of Lucy the Elephant, America’s oldest roadside attraction. Think of her as a symbol of the year ahead in politics — endless exhortations to “look over there” at one meaningless distraction after another.

Trump’s constant efforts to divert attention away from whatever issue is currently generating negative headlines for him are certainly well known and well understood by now. Ezra Klein of Vox has referred to the distractions as “the core of Donald Trump’s political strategy.” The political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow was moved to pen a strip titled “Are Trump’s Distractions a Distraction From His Distractions?” just a couple of months after Trump was inaugurated.

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Trump’s impeachment strategy is backfiring. Bigly.

God’s Chosen One (Franklin Graham edition) shared some seasonal thoughts this past Christmas Eve and Day: “… very unfair with no Due Process …”  “They want to make it as hard as possible for me to properly run our Country!”  “I am having to constantly defend myself …”  “… they are vicious, will say anything!”

You are, no doubt, feeling spiritually elevated after all that. Also, he apparently forgot to get a gift for Melania. Might as well blame that on the Do Nothing Democrats™, too.

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Trump: Thank you for coming to my TED talk

This is the President of the United States speaking. You know, the guy who says he has “the right to do whatever I want to do.” Commander in Chief of the military. Finger on the nuclear button. Yeah, that guy.

Wherever you live, call your Senator. He needs to go.

U.S. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 – Friendly operators standing by to help you do democracy.

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Let him twist slowly, slowly in the wind.

Let him twist slowly, slowly in the wind. Those words were famously uttered in the early days of the Watergate scandal, which led to Richard Nixon’s resignation in the face of imminent impeachment. They were uttered in 1973 by John Erlichman, a top Nixon aide, about L. Patrick Gray, Nixon’s nominee to become Director of the FBI.

As Acting Director of the FBI, Gray had been complicit in the White House’s efforts to conceal Nixon’s connection to the Watergate break-in. Congress was only just beginning to sniff out evidence of such a connection and the Senate’s confirmation hearings for Gray afforded Congress its first opportunity to start digging deeper. Gray tried to stonewall but ultimately made several damaging revelations. The White House soured on on his nomination, but instead of withdrawing the nomination, Erlichman thought Gray should undergo a period of public embarrassment. “I think we ought to let him hang there. Let him twist slowly, slowly in the wind.”

That’s what Congress should do with Trump: Let him twist slowly, slowly in the wind.

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Trump will try to turn the Senate trial into a spectacle. That won’t happen. I hope.

It’s all over except for the party line voting. Donald Trump is going to be impeached. Now all attention turns to the Senate and the upcoming trial.

Trump would love to turn the Senate trial into a spectacle, a headline-grabbing circus featuring him, of course. With his nemesis Nancy Pelosi removed from a central role in the action, Trump sees a chance to reclaim his domination of the public narrative again. Given his way, Trump would turn that narrative into crazy talk. It’s what he does all the time.

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Republican Buffoonery: They’re Gonna Break Something

There’s an old saying in legal circles: “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.”

The Republicans, in the wake of the most devastating testimony yet in the impeachment inquiry, are pounding away at the table. They’re doing it with typical Republican buffoonery, but that doesn’t mean they won’t break something.

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The U.S. Constitution as Calvinball

We have been awash in analyses of the recent letter to Congress penned by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. In it, Cipollone outlines the Mis-Administration’s “reasoning” for why it will refuse to participate with Congress’ impeachment inquiry.

This flood of analysis comes mostly from Constitutional scholars and features detailed dives into the legal abyss, which can leave one’s head spinning. (Although some are quite amusing. My favorite came from a George Mason Law School professor, who said Cipollone “must have been sick the day they taught law at his law school.”)

But I have a simple approach to help everyone understand exactly what’s going on. Just think of the U.S. Constitution as Calvinball.

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Revisiting where my activism began, and finding a history lesson

Recently, during a brief visit to my hometown — Westmont, NJ — I checked out the site of the old local office of the McCarthy for President campaign. I volunteered for this campaign in 1968 at the age of 16. It was where I got started in activism.

Although the stop by the old campaign office was short, time enough only for a couple of photos, I’ve been thinking about the 1968 campaign itself. Not the small town New Jersey campaign, which was a great experience, but the bigger picture. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it may hold a lesson for us in this presidential campaign season.

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Impeachment: We have lift off! Sort of. But that’s okay.

Not with a bang but a whimper.

That’s how T. S. Eliot completed his sentence This is the way the world ends… in his celebrated poem The Hollow Men. It could also be a finale to the sentence, This is how impeachment starts… 

After 200+ days of beseeching House Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings — and, following the release of the Mueller report, screaming at them to get started — we suddenly found out on Friday that an “impeachment inquiry” has essentially begun. As with so many other things when it comes to the courts and Congress, it can all be very confusing.

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McGahn won’t testify before Congress. Not a problem.

Credit: Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 ImageCreator

The White House has informed the House Judiciary Committee that it will bar former White House Counsel Don McGahn from testifying in response to the committee’s subpoena. That might seem like a problem for the Committee’s probe into possible obstruction of justice by Trump. But it shouldn’t be.

It’s not a problem because McGahn’s extensive eyewitness accounts of presidential obstruction of justice are already on the record in the Mueller report , even in the redacted version that has been made public. Continue reading “McGahn won’t testify before Congress. Not a problem.”