What’s with all the Pelosi hate?

In the aftermath of the most recent Democratic Party failure, the defeat of Jon Ossoff in the special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district seat, I’ve seen approximately 10 zillion articles explaining the result as a repudiation of Nancy Pelosi.

The winner, Karen Handel had campaigned heavily on the made-up notion that Ossoff was a Pelosi admirer and therefore must be defeated. Here is an “explanation” piece about the Georgia election entitled “Nancy Pelosi is not where we need to go”, that says, in part,

Nancy Pelosi is not where we need to go. She’s failed leadership. While she might be doing some great things in her district, the truth is she’s the person who’s been leading this front that we’ve been running on for years, so she has to go as leadership.

What she’s doing isn’t working. She’s the leadership, it’s failed and, ultimately, it’s her responsibility.

Her name alone is apparently some sort of dog whistle about what’s wrong.

What’s going on? Maybe it’s because I don’t follow politics as closely as I should, but I am completely unaware of the damage Pelosi is doing and has done to America that makes her so radioactive. I mean, I get it, she’s the Minority Leader in the House, so she’s perhaps the most “powerful” Democrat left standing at the moment, but is that it?

Obama and Hillary are out of the picture (though Trump is still campaigning against both of them), so, um, we have to pretend Nancy Pelosi is the devil?

As far as I can make out, the knock on Pelosi is that she is from San Francisco, and that’s enough. That makes her “cosmopolitan” and not really “American”, a member of the 1% not like the rest of us, and someone who is heavily immersed in the “culture” that San Francisco represents, i.e. “progressive”.  She therefore is the poster-child for Everything That’s Wrong With America.

The comments section of the piece linked above has many mentions of Pelosi. All agree that she is the problem, but they’re all over the map about why. This one explains she’s not strong enough:

Time to face the facts, the Democrats are all but uselessly ineffective. They don’t have the machine, the rigged districts not the balls to deal with the GOP. It’s like watching a Girl Scout go up against The Hell’s Angels. Is it lack of guts, naivte, or just ineptness? Whatever it is, they can’t save us from even the likes of trump. An inconsequential bunch of flower children unable to stand up to real force. Step one, get some spokespersons. Nancy Pelosi may well be a brilliant strategist or diligent soldier but she is not the bulldog we need to hear from. Reserved and well spoken work best when the enemy knows you can actually bring something, other than shaming words, to the fight. They don’t see it. Take the gloves off or just go home, we don’t need anymore of your empty kumbaya pleading. It’s a knife fight, get up, get ready and go to battle!

While this one says she has the wrong focus:

I agree that Ms. Pelosi has to go. She is too closely aligned with Identity politics that panders (not addresses) to every minority concern. We as a nation must begin to break free of identifying ourselves as Liberals or Conservatives.

They don’t agree on why Nancy Pelosi is the problem, but they agree that she is.  And from the Republican point of view, Nancy Pelosi is the gift that keeps on giving. 

I really don’t get it, which, I guess, is why Trump is president and so many of us are wondering how it could happen.

 

 

What’s the purpose of hearings?

Have you figured it out yet? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not to get answers to your questions.

Appearing before the Senate Intelligence committee last week, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers repeatedly said they would not discuss their private conversations with Donald Trump.

They said they didn’t feel that the public setting of the hearings was an appropriate venue. Democrats were stunned by this. They went back and forth about it, with the senators pointing out there was no basis on which they can legitimately refuse to answer, that Executive Privilege was not being invoked, demanding what the legal justification for refusing to answer is, etc. etc. etc. yadda yadda yadda.

But the bottom line is that if you’re called to answer questions before a congressional committee, and you don’t feel like answering, well, then don’t. No consequences for you. No charges of “Contempt of Congress”. Nothing.

Same thing yesterday when Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He just didn’t feel like answering, so he didn’t. No, he didn’t claim “Executive Privilege” or any other real reason,  only that,

 “It’s longstanding policy in the Department of Justice not to comment on conversations that the attorney general has had with the president of the United States for confidential reasons that really are founded in the co-equal branch powers of the Constitution of the United States.”

Chuck Schumer, a member of the committee  from  New York said,

“Unfortunately, the Attorney General repeatedly refused to answer pertinent questions from members of the Senate Intelligence Committee without offering a scintilla of a legal justification for doing so.

This is part of a repeated and troubling pattern from Trump administration officials who clam up and refuse to answer questions about the Russia investigation, even though cabinet officials have had no qualms talking about their conversations with the President.” 

That’s it. That’s all they have for you.  Hope it makes you feel better.

So what’s the purpose of such hearings? Well, it’s grandstanding, of course. It’s a chance for an otherwise powerless and locked-in-partisan Senator or Congressman to show the people back home what a gallant, incorruptible standard-bearer he or she really is, hopefully gaining some support at the ballot box in the process.

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The other day, I said Trey Gowdy, the U. S. Rep. from South Carolina’s fourth district, seemed more like a demented piranha then a lawmaker to me. To see some support for both that observation as well as today’s point about the purpose of hearings, and also to make yourself sick, check out his “questioning” of M.I.T. Professor of Economics, Jonathan Gruber. You’re welcome.

“Have we learned nothing?”

Once again, the volcanic clouds of chaos-ash emanating from Mount Trump at all times have obscured real news that we should care about. But we’re all distracted, panicked, and immobilized by the tiny-handed “ratings machine” that leads the free world, and the unnecessary drama he thrives on.

While we were all glued to our TVs watching the Comey hearings yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 233-186 for a bill that would undo much of Dodd-Frank. The Comey hearings will ultimately have no effect on your life, but the repeal of Dodd-Frank will. If we were hoping to have our outrage validated, we were watching the wrong show.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, as we apparently no longer remember, was passed after the 2008 financial crisis to try to rein in the excesses of Wall Street that very nearly caused a worldwide economic collapse.

The bill attempts to prevent predatory mortgage lending, restrict banks from making investments for themselves using your insured deposits, governs consumer lending by requiring clear disclosure of terms, separates the commercial and investment functions of a bank,  regulates derivatives such as the credit default swaps that were widely blamed for contributing to the 2008 financial crisis, and so on.

It was a bit like closing the barn door after the horses had gone, but trying to make it less likely that the barn door will be left open next time.

The House vote was, of course, along strict party lines. Walter Jones of North Carolina was the only Republican to vote against it. Maxine Waters of California said, “They are setting the stage for Wall Street to run amok and cause another financial crisis.”

This WaPo piece says,

Democrats defended the Dodd-Frank law, saying it has meant financial security for millions of people and that undoing it would encourage the kind of risky lending practices that invite future economic shocks.

They also oppose efforts to sharply curtail a consumer protection agency’s power to pursue companies that it determines have participated in unfair or deceptive practices in their financial products and services. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has returned $29 billion to 12 million consumers who were victims of deceptive marketing, discriminatory lending or other financial wrongdoing.

“All we’re doing is spending our time taking away protections for the American people and their futures. Have we learned nothing?” asked Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

Shortly after inauguration, Trump promised to do a “big number on Dodd-Frank”, calling it a “disaster”, the same term he uses to describe just about everything he doesn’t like. He’s attempting to deliver on yet another idiotic promise meant to accelerate the transfer of wealth from the many to the few, and the House of Representatives is proving a willing tool. Hopefully, the Senate will prevent Trump’s “big number” from doing further damage.

A lot of us were hoping Comey would do a “big number” on Trump. If only.

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Jim Bunning

A very small number of people have achieved great success at the highest level of professional sports and gone on to be elected to national office. Jack Kemp comes to mind, and Steve Largent, both of whom were great pro football players and served in the House of Representatives.  And, of course, NBA Hall-of-Famer and U.S. Senator Bill Bradley. Am I forgetting anyone? My sincere apologies if so.

 

Jim Bunning joined this small group when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1985.  He served six terms in the House, representing Kentucky’s 4th district. In 1998 he was elected to the Senate and re-elected in 2004. He was 85 when he died last Friday.

 

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He led an interesting life, an impactful life, and ordinarily I’d feel happy to write a little about someone like that.  But Jim Bunning did a lot of things as a congressman that make him an outlier, and not in a good way.  He often found himself at odds with fellow Republicans and often caused controversy.

 

In the Senate, he was routinely given the highest “conservative” score by those that calculate such things. He opposed Obamacare, of course. A Catholic with nine children, he was strongly anti-abortion. He made inappropriate remarks about his opponents and Supreme Court justices.

This NPR piece says,

As a politician, he was known as “blunt and abrasive,” according to Politico. “In 1993, for instance, he referred to President Bill Clinton as ‘the most corrupt, the most amoral, the most despicable person I’ve ever seen in the presidency.’ In 2009, he made headlines by predicting Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would be dead of cancer within nine months.”

 

Bunning single-handedly held up unemployment payments for millions of Americans during a two-day filibuster against $10 billion in stimulus spending.

According to this CNN piece,
Bunning decided to leave the Senate in 2010 after tension with his own party.
 
“Unfortunately, running for office is not just about the issues,” Bunning said in a 2009 statement. “Over the past year, some of the leaders of the Republican Party in the Senate have done everything in their power to dry up my fundraising. The simple fact is that I have not raised the funds necessary to run an effective campaign for the U.S. Senate.”
The remark appeared to be a thinly veiled hit at fellow Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who was the Senate minority leader at the time.

 

Bunning butted heads with McConnell more than once and called him a “control freak”.
“McConnell is leading the ship, but he is leading it in the wrong direction. If Mitch McConnell doesn’t endorse me, it could be the best thing that ever happened to me in Kentucky.”

 

Asked by The New York Times in March 2009 whether he felt betrayed by some Republican colleagues, Mr. Bunning replied, “When you’ve dealt with Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and Stan Musial, the people I’m dealing with are kind of down the scale.”

 

Reading that made me think back to the first time the name “Jim Bunning” penetrated my consciousness.

On July 20, 1958, he took the mound for the Detroit Tigers in Boston’s Fenway Park and pitched a no-hit, no-run game against the Red Sox. That had only been done twice before in the 46-year history of Fenway, both times by Hall-of-Famers. Walter Johnson did it in 1920 and Ted Lyons in 1926.

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Fenway is noted for its “Green Monster”, the huge wall in left field that appears to be just a few feet beyond the infield, and its lack of foul ground – hitters can stay alive on fouls that would be caught for outs in other venues.

It’s a hitter’s paradise and a pitcher’s nightmare. The Red Sox always tailored their line-ups for Fenway and routinely produced batting champs. Of course their own pitchers had to pitch in Fenway as well, so it didn’t translate too well into actual wins.

The line-up Bunning faced that day included a bunch of guys who were hard to get out on any day, and who were hitting over .300 at the time: Frank Malzone, Jackie Jensen, Pete Runnels, and, of course, the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived,  Ted Williams, who Bunning retired for the final out of the game.

The 26-year old Bunning was coming off a great 1957 season in which he led the American League with 20 wins. He had a side-arm delivery that gave right-handed hitters the impression the ball was coming at them from somewhere around third base. He was known for his combative nature, burning desire to win, and willingness to throw a “purpose pitch” when he thought it was needed, i.e. to hit an opposing batter to make him a little less comfortable digging in against him.

Bunning led the league in hit-batsmen four years in a row, and had 160 for his career. That’s more than anyone else in the last 90 years except for Tim Wakefield and Charlie Hough, both knuckle-ball pitchers who really didn’t know what was going to happen to the ball after it left their hands. And if the knuckle-ball did hit a batter, everyone knew it was an accident and it didn’t hurt a bit.

Tiger team-mate Frank Bolling said,  “If he had to brush back his mother, I think he’d do it to win.”

Bunning didn’t appreciate opposing players talking trash at him, either. He once threw at the always-talkative Red Sox center-fielder, Jim Piersall, for jawing at him too much. That one was a little unusual because Piersall wasn’t batting at the time, but waiting his turn in the on-deck circle.

Team-mate Larry Bowa told a story about Bunning’s approach, which is quoted in this NYT Obit, about a game that he pitched at Montreal in the early 1970s.

“The Expos had Ron Hunt, a guy who loved to get hit. Well, Bunning threw him a sidearm curveball, Hunt never moved, and it hit him. The ball rolled toward the mound, and Bunning picked it up. He looked right at Hunt and said: ‘Ron, you want to get hit? I’ll hit you next time.’ And next time up, bam. Fastball. Drilled him right in the ribs. And he said to Hunt, ‘O.K., now you can go to first base.’”

Bunning thoughtfully described pitching the no-hitter this way,

“For most pitchers like me, who aren’t overpowering supermen with extraordinary stuff like Sandy Koufax or Nolan Ryan, a no-hitter is a freaky thing, You can’t plan it. It’s not something you can try to do. It just happens.

Everything has to come together – good control, outstanding plays from your teammates, a whole lot of good fortune on your side and a lot of bad luck for the other guys. A million things could go wrong – but on this one particular day of your life none of them do.”

He was traded to the Phillies in 1963, and was as effective in the National League as he had been in the American.  He pitched a “perfect game” (retired all 27 men he faced) against the Mets in New York on June 21, 1964, the first one pitched in the National League in 84 years, thereby revealing his previous comments about pitching a no-no to be overly modest.

 

To get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, you need to get 75% of the votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America, and you have only 15 years of eligibility after retirement. Bunning came close, but never got the nod from the writers. But in 1996, 25 years after he retired, he was voted in by the Veteran’s Committee, which included many players who had tried unsuccessfully to hit his pitching. “The writers never faced him,” Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio said at Bunning’s induction ceremony.

 

As a Boston baseball fan and someone who thinks government can actually solve problems once in a while, I always dreaded it when my team had to go up against Bunning. I didn’t like to see him standing on the pitcher’s mound opposing us and I didn’t like to see him standing in Congress opposing us either.

 

But give the devil his due: Jim Bunning knew what he wanted to do, did things not because they were politically expedient but because he believed in them, went about achieving his objectives in his own unique way, always fought hard, and never backed down.

“Not in our minds!”

Yesterday, Montana elected multimillionaire businessman Greg Gianforte to its one seat in the House of Representatives in a closely watched special election. Gianforte was hand-picked by the Republican party to run against Democrat Rob Quist, a folk-singer and musician, for the seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, who became President Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior.

Assault charges had been filed against Gianforte earlier for throwing a reporter from The Guardian to the ground and strangling him after the reporter asked him about the new Congressional Budget Office scoring of the latest Republican health care bill, which, if passed, would mean 23 million people would ultimately lose health care coverage.

As he grabbed the reporter, Ben Jacobs, by the throat, Gianforte screamed that he was “sick and tired of you guys … get the hell out of here.”

Gianforte has often been compared with Trump. “Greg thinks he’s Donald Trump,”one observer in Monatana said.  “He thinks he could shoot a guy on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.” Nancy Pelosi called him a wannabe Trump.

In true Trump style, Gianforte first made up some nonsense about how Jacobs had been aggressive with him, but that story was quickly debunked by witnesses. FoxNews, remarkably, was among the first news organizations to set the record straight. Their reporter, Alicia Acuna, was there and said,

To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies.

Three of the largest newspapers in Montana had endorsed Gianforte, but retracted their endorsements after the incident. None endorsed Quist, however. Gianforte has a history of Trump-like interactions with the press. The Independent Record said in an editorial,

We are also sick and tired – of Gianforte’s incessant attacks on the free press. In the past, he has encouraged his supporters to boycott certain newspapers, singled out a reporter in a room to point out that he was outnumbered, and even made a joke out of the notion of choking a news writer, and these are not things we can continue to brush off.

They also said,

We do not want this to be construed as an endorsement for any of Gianforte’s opponents, however. And we encourage all voters to review the information available, listen to their conscience, and vote for the best candidate for Montana at the polls today.

This is what passes, in Republican circles, for “taking the high road”. Paul Ryan, always a leader on Republican expeditions up the high road, also suggested Gianforte should apologize. Of course, a large percentage of the votes had already been cast before the assault took place, and Ryan was well aware that the House seat in question would remain under his control.

So courageous, Paul!  And we just love that serious expression of moral authority and disdain for indecorous behavior that you cultivate just for occasions like this.

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Some people, by which I mean yours truly, Stewie Generis, figured all this would just help Gianforte solidify his base and prove his bona fides as a warrior against America’s greatest enemy, the media, and also validate his ticket on the Trump-Train from Montana. If a Jew reporter from some liberal rag gets his hair a little mussed up, well, what can we say – ya gotta break some eggs if ya wanna make an omelette.

Anyway, with the win in hand, Gianforte was ready to move on from all this. At his victory rally, he said to a laughing crowd,  “I shouldn’t have treated that reporter that way. I made a mistake.”

“Not in our minds,” someone shouted back.

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Partisanship will prevail

This FiveThirtyEight article breaks down the three biggest scandals of the last 50 years to try to illuminate what might happen with the Trump presidency. The article stops short of saying it, but the take-away is that party loyalty will save even this toxic clown. Those of us who believe that Trump is clearly unfit for office and has already committed impeachable offenses, and who are wondering why in the world Republicans can’t see this, will have no satisfaction.

The article analyzes the Watergate, Iran/Contra and Lewinsky scandals, and points out that virtually every step of the way, only a handful of lawmakers of the incumbent’s party ever voted against him, and that those few who did were “centrists”, an obsolete designation in today’s G.O.P.

The piece notes that,

Even as Nixon aides resigned and the Watergate controversy grew around the president in 1973, many congressional Republicans were arguing that the investigations of the president were overly aggressive. Two future GOP presidents, George H.W. Bush (then chairman of the Republican National Committee) and Reagan (then governor of California), called Nixon and assured him that he could get through the scandal.

Reagan counseled Nixon to hang on because “this too shall pass”.

Even after the Saturday Night Massacre, which many see as the fatal blow for Nixon’s presidency, Republicans stood by him:

The House Judiciary Committee held a series of votes about recommending Nixon’s impeachment in July 1974. All 21 committee Democrats, and six committee Republicans, voted for the first article of impeachment, which essentially accused Nixon of obstructing the investigation of the Watergate break-in. The other 11 Republicans voted against that article. There were three articles of impeachment against Nixon. Nineteen Democrats voted for all three articles of impeachment. Just one Republican did. A majority of the Republicans on the committee, 10 of the 17, voted against all three articles.

Note that the committee consisted of 21 Democrats and 17 Republicans, and that Democrats controlled the House, unlike today, and only a simple majority is required to send Articles of Impeachment to the Senate. Today’s House is controlled by Republicans, 246-187.

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What finally killed Nixon was that there were a handful of principled Republican Senators who were willing to do the right thing, notably Howard Baker, the top Republican of the three on the Senate Watergate Committee. Even he let party loyalty cloud his judgement, as he let his aides discuss progress with the Nixon White House.

The Senate at the time of Watergate was controlled by Democrats 56-42. A two thirds vote in the Senate is needed for impeachment, so the task at hand wasn’t as difficult as it is today, where Republicans control the Senate 54-44-2 (2 independents).

But today’s political landscape is completely different than those good old days of simple partisan divisions. Cable news, the internet, gerrymandering, Dark Money, Citizen’s United, and many other factors have produced a state of hyper-partisanship which really has little resemblance to the Watergate era.

This Wapo article, entitled “Only Republicans can stop Trump right now. History suggests they won’t.” says,

Recent history also justifies fears that Republicans will not stand up to Trump. Flake, McCain, Sasse and other senators have all clashed publicly with the president before. But those are just words, and talk is cheap. With the occasional exception when Republicans have been able to spare one or two votes, GOP senators have marched in lockstep with the Trump White House. McCain in particular has continued his years-long pattern of tut-tutting Republican leaders and then voting with his party anyway.

If Flake, McCain and others want to show us they are truly troubled, then they will need to do more than put out a statement. They need to join with Democrats and refuse to vote for a new FBI director (and perhaps even other Trump appointees or legislation) until a special prosecutor is appointed. Nothing short of that is acceptable.

It’s fun to watch Trump’s “disapproval” ratings go up each week and his “approval” ratings go down, but we need to remember (and the man-baby is constantly reminding us) that these numbers do not matter and that those who predicted the election based on such numbers were completely embarrassed.

What matters is that Trump’s approval rating among those who voted for him has not changed at all. It’s holding steady at 88% and will edge up whenever he does something “big”.

What matters is that the electoral map of Trump’s victory remains the same.

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“Who would do this?”

Remember last June when Bill Clinton met privately for a couple of minutes on a plane in Phoenix with Attorney General Loretta Lynch after realizing they were both on the same tarmac? Remember what a scandal it was?

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The House Benghazi Committee was going to release its report on how Hillary Clinton had personally murdered thousands of people (or maybe that she had personally drowned thousands of puppies – I don’t really remember whatever it was supposed to be about, because it was all made-up nonsense), and the Justice Department was conducting an investigation of her email server.

The “optics” of Bill Clinton speaking privately to the AG confirmed that the independence of the Justice Department was “compromised”, according to Donald Trump, FoxNews, and virtually all Republicans, who all howled about “Crooked Hillary” for days.  It was a significant blow to her campaign.

Trump said to conservative talk show host Mike Gallagher, “It was terrible.  It was really a sneak. You see a thing like this and, even in terms of judgment, how bad of judgment is it for him or for her to do this? Who would do this?”

Republican John Cornyn called for a “Special Counsel” to take over the email investigation, reading an impassioned speech about this corruption into the Congressional Record.

Judicial Watch, a conservative legal watchdog group that has sued for access to records pertaining to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while leading the State Department, is asking for the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the meeting. They said:

“Attorney General Lynch’s meeting with President Clinton creates the appearance of a violation of law, ethical standards and good judgment. Attorney General Lynch’s decision to breach the well-defined ethical standards of the Department of Justice and the American legal profession is an outrageous abuse of the public’s trust. Her conduct and statements undermine confidence in her ability to objectively investigate and prosecute possible violations of law associated with President Clinton and Secretary Clinton.”

Well, less than a year has passed, and all talk of “the appearance of violation of law”,  “ethical standards”, “abuse of the public trust”, and “Who would do this?” has mysteriously ceased.

Trump has no problem calling in the head of the F.B.I. to an unprecedented private dinner while the Bureau was conducting an investigation of his election, and demanding his loyalty. Who would do this?

And the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions,  has demonstrated more than just the “appearance” of being compromised. He had recused himself from the Russia investigation because of his own meetings with Russians during the campaign (which he then lied about, under oath). In violation of this recusal, he recommended that Trump fire the head of the F.B.I. (apparently after Trump requested him to do this). This recommendation was the first of four stories about why Trump fired Jim Comey.

Trump soon enough gave other explanations through his surrogates, finally throwing them all under the bus, as usual, with his own interview, in which he said he had been thinking about firing Comey for a long time, because the Russia/Trump connection was fake news made up by Democrats. He thereby confessed to obstruction of justice.

He also said that he didn’t see why asking for Comey’s loyalty “would have been a bad question to ask”, thereby revealing once again that he doesn’t understand that he is not Emperor or King or Führer, but merely President.

But according to Republicans across the land, it’s all smoke and no fire. Ya gotta love their consistency, right?

You know what? I don’t even care about Trump and his lies and craziness anymore. I mean, of course I “care”, because he just might get us all killed while trying to distract us, but I don’t care about these stories – it’s all more evidence of the obvious. Trump is unfit to be president, and may well be deranged. It’s all been amply demonstrated many times before.

And I don’t care because no one else cares and therefore nothing will come of it and it doesn’t matter. Everyone already knows the Russians meddled. Everyone already knows Trump benefited and is happy about it. Everyone already knows he’s unfit for the job.

I admit I’m befuddled about why the Republican Congress keeps ignoring all these golden opportunities to get rid of this toxic clown. I mean they’d still have everything they want with Pence, no? But I guess they have their reasons.

The thing that keeps gnawing at me, though, is how quickly the Republicans cast aside their own words and their own alleged principles. How they go on as if there is no record of what they’ve said and the positions they’ve taken. Is there no one other than John McCain and, occasionally Lindsay Graham, to push back? Not that they don’t have their own motives, I’m sure, quite unrelated to “integrity”.

Why do people who should know better stand by this crazy clown so predictably?

Who would do this?