Sunday, February 28, 2021

Cancel Culture: Old Whine in New Bottles

Editors' Note: While our correspondents wait for their Massachusetts COVID-19 vaccination appointments (current waiting time, 59,245 minutes), they've had time to reflect on the persistent reactionary whine about being victimized by “cancel culture. In fact the whole Bund is down in Florida for a rally whose theme is:

and our correspondents were there.

By Social Affairs Editor Emma Goldman
with Florida Correspondent Jenny Herk in Orlando

The ghosts of 500,000 dead Americans, most of whom should be alive and well today had it not been for the errors and omissions of the Former Loser Grifter, aren't haunting the fun loving Qpublicans whooping it up at Nuremberg under the Palms, also known as the 2021 CPAC convention in Orlando.

No, they're mourning something much more profound than the toll the pandemic took of their fellow Americans.  They're mourning those among of them victimized by the evil that is “cancel culture.”

What is cancel culture anyway and why do they care about it so much and the rest of us so little?

Let's start with the easy question first.  Cancel culture isn't when when you destroy the career of a promising star professional quarterback because he chose to peacefully protest police violence against people of color.  Cancel culture isn't when those violent police officers cancel the life out of unarmed black men by suffocating them to death while they are helpless and handcuffed in the streets of Minneapolis.

So what the f*** is it then? 

Let Qpublican mouthpiece and CPAC Gauleiter Matt Schlapp explain it to you (as reported in The Washington Post): ““Cancel culture is a desire to push somebody out of polite society, destroy their ability to make a living, and take away their voice,” Schlapp said.”

Funny story: he wasn't asked this question in response to why CPAC chose the slogan it did, in lieu of any real matter of importance to the country in a time of pandemic, economic collapse, and concern over whether Kim Kardashian will ever find true happiness. 

He was asked to define cancel culture after he, um, canceled a featured speaker at CPAC named Young Pharaoh just because Disco Tut had expressed some unpopular views in the past:

He seems nice.  

But of course a deep thinker like Matt Schlapp has no trouble reconciling canceling Young Pharoah, who hasn't gotten over the Jewish God killing his older brother at the first Passover, with his overall condemnation of Cancel Culture: “This week, after the liberal watchdog group Media Matters published ­antisemitic tweets by a Black commentator named Young Pharaoh, CPAC disinvited him from a panel of Black conservatives. Schlapp said that action did not amount to canceling Pharaoh.”

Any further questions?

Actually we have a few.  Like why wasn't it cancel culture when Colin Kaepernick was pushed out of white [Surely, polite? – Ed.] society, and his voice and ability to make a living were both destroyed because he peacefully protested police violence?

And when comedian Michelle Wolf dared to make a joke about lying Sarah Sanders at the White House Correspondents Dinner, why wasn't it a terrible loss to freedom when loud Republican voices were heard trying to cancel her:

White House aide Mercedes Schlapp and her husband Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, said they walked out early.

"Enough of elites mocking all of us," Matt Schlapp tweeted. 

Matt Schlapp?  Why does that name sound familiar?  And funny in a schoolyard kind of way, like Dick Schlapp?

To get an understanding of the evils of Cancel Culture, we can look at a recent example cited by the usual suspects of supposedly woke intolerance shutting down an innocent speaker (like Young Pharaoh):

Be sure you are lying in your chaise longue with smelling salts at the ready for this shocking tale of cruelty, courtesy of Rolling Stone:

In a resignation letter to Smith College President Kathleen McCartney, which was published by writer Bari Weiss on her Substack newsletter, [Natch – Ed.] Jodi Shaw, who is white, rails against what she views as Smith’s “dehumanizing” climate with respect to race relations, citing mandatory diversity trainings and the encouragement of diverse hiring practices as “evidence” of such a climate. . . .

Some said the costume she wore to a
diversity workshop was inappropriate

Shaw . . . takes issue with the fact that, while preparing for a 2018 [That would be over two years ago – Ed] library orientation presentation, her supervisor discouraged her from doing it in “rap form,” due to the fact that she is white and it could be viewed as cultural appropriation. Rather than express gratitude towards this unnamed supervisor for preventing her from humiliating herself by rapping in front of a group of jaded liberal arts students, Shaw says she was “humiliated” by the incident, prompting her to quit her job at the library and take a lower-paying job as a student support coordinator.

The final straw for Shaw, however, was a January 2020 mandatory staff retreat, in which consultants hired by Smith College asked department members to “respond to various personal questions about race and racial identity”:

“When it was my turn to respond, I said ‘I don’t feel comfortable talking about that.’ I was the only person in the room to abstain.

“Later, the facilitators told everyone present that a white person’s discomfort at discussing their race is a symptom of ‘white fragility.’ They said that the white person may seem like they are in distress, but that it is actually a ‘power play.’ In other words, because I am white, my genuine discomfort was framed as an act of aggression. I was shamed and humiliated in front of all of my colleagues.”

In other words, while attending a diversity training seminar that asked participants to examine issues of race and privilege, Shaw steadfastly refused to examine issues of race and privilege — and took umbrage with Smith College for requesting that she do so.

Let's take a minute to calm down and wipe the tears from our face.  What's the moral of this story, Rolling Stone?

In 2021, there’s a simple formula for becoming a cancel culture martyr, and it’s essentially as follows: One, make a tone-deaf remark or faux pas betraying your ignorance of your own privilege; two, lose your job or be publicly reprimanded over said offense; three, get a centrist or right-leaning columnist or public figure with a large platform to take up your cause, persuading their audience to rally behind you as an unwitting sacrifice on the altar of hyper-wokeness.

And don't forget the kicker: after you haven't been canceled (remember, she suffered no punishment from Smith for her asinine behavior), seek to salve your hurt feelings with a wheelbarrow of cash:

Smith president Kathleen McCartney denied claims that there is a hostile environment for white employees at the women’s college in a letter Monday to the school community.

McCartney, who did not identify Shaw by name, said that the allegations were untrue and that the employee who resigned had “demanded payment of an exceptionally large sum in exchange for dropping a threatened legal claim and agreeing to standard confidentiality provisions.” 

But the fake outrage over Cancel Culture isn't just a grift.  It's an assault on knowledge itself, as Michelle Goldberg helpfully points out:

Yet when it comes to outright government censorship, it is the right that’s on the offense. Critical race theory, the intellectual tradition undergirding concepts like white privilege and microaggressions, is often blamed for fomenting what critics call cancel culture. And so, around America and even overseas, people who don’t like cancel culture are on an ironic quest to cancel the promotion of critical race theory in public forums.

In September, Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget ordered federal agencies to “begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’” which it described as “un-American propaganda.”

Ask Paul Robeson L'23 what
it was like to be canceled

Now we're getting somewhere unraveling the mysterious appeal of Cancel Culture.  As Jane Coaston of The New York Times pointed out, there's always been guardrails defining the limits of acceptable discourse in America; the question is what they are.

We'd say the question isn't just what those limits are, but who gets to set them.  For generations, the boundaries of permitted speech were set by white male supremacists.  Any idea that threatened their supremacy, or any person who articulated such sentiments, had to be canceled.  Ask Paul Robeson, or W. E. B. DuBois, or Colin Kaepernick.  They were all silenced as “un-American.”

If you are pushing to remove Critical Race Theory from the universe of acceptable discourse, that's because you don't want to hear, and you don't want anyone else to hear, the stories of people who suffered from systemic American racism, or people who look like them.

What has given rise to all the nonsense about the supposed threat of Cancel Culture is that the rules about who gets to place the guardrails have changed.  The power of the white men who silenced generations of social critics, especially women and minorities, while exalting the character and glory of racists and hatemongers like Robert E. Lee, Strom Thurmond, or even St. Ronald of Bitburg, is under assault.

That's what's intolerable – it's not that there should no limits on acceptable discourse, it's that those limits are being set by those who have no business issuing orders, or even requests, to fine innocent fragile white folks like that Smith librarian or Matt Schlapp or those who recall how funny Rush Limbaugh was.

The only consolation for the propagandists of Cancel Culture: those who claim they are being silenced, whether it's Bari Weiss or Bretbug Stephens (who bemoaned Cancel Culture while trying to fire a professor who made a joke at his expense), or Marjorie Taylor “Time for my Training Session, Rodolfo!” Greene, do not in fact shut up, nor do they appear to suffer any adverse economic consequences for speaking nonsense.  

They just, like Ol' Man River (but unlike Paul Robeson), keep rolling along.

UPDATE, March 2:  Speaking of just rolling along, today Bretbug, who has never expressed a particle of concern, much less outrage, about Colin Kaepernick or the other victims of white racist cancellation, recycles in his New York Times column this lame-o Smith College tripe (no link to pisspoor content).

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Powerlessness to the People

Editors' Note: This week the Spy was all set to bring you the important news about Kim Kardashian's divorce, Britney Spears' legal struggle and Gwyneth Paltrow's vibrator, but our Clickbait [Surely, Social Media Engagement? – Ed.] Team advised us that if we really wanted to drive traffic to the site, we should drop those tired topics in favor of something really sexy.  This is the piece they chose.  Fortunately, unlike The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, our servers can handle the 10,000% traffic spike.

By Texas Correspondent Billy Sol Estes with
Financial Editor Samuel Insull

You don't have to be Snowflake Cruz to realize that there's nothing funny about being stuck in a cold dark house while everyone who was paid to work on your behalf was busy taking care of themselves.

Indeed, Snowflake, the poodle left stranded when Cancun Ted Cruz and his charming family decamped for fun in the Mexican sun, could stand in for the 30,000,000 or so Texans who found themselves without power, water, and food while their Republican state officials either fled the jurisdiction (like Ted) or trafficked in lib-baiting lies on cable TV (like Texas Governor Greg Abbott).

Like Hurricane Katrina, the Texas cold snap was a weather event whose lethal effects were magnified by generations of Republican indifference to protecting Americans, with a special emphasis on those deemed by Republicans to fall outside their white-supremacist definition of “us.”

How did a week of bad weather bring a rich, powerful, swaggering state to its knees?  We'll start with the short answer and then go from there.

The short answer is Republicans.   

The longer answer comes from long-time observer of Republican crookedness, David Cay Johnston:

The reason Texans are freezing is that Texas state government:
  • Failed to require that natural gas pipelines be built in anticipation of severe weather
  • Didn’t require sufficient natural gas storage for electric power plants
  • Neglected to insist that the electric grid itself be hardened against severe heat and cold, more of which is certain as climate change generates raucous weather
What did Abbott do? He appointed all three members of the Texas Public Utility Commission who failed to ensure adequacy of the Texas electric grid for all weather.

Abbott’s commissioners, embracing his anti-regulatory philosophy, did not require adequate power generation reserves. That’s crucial. When electric generators go down in extreme weather, accidents or even planned maintenance, there needs to be plentiful additional capacity to ensure the juice flows.

The savings from cheapskating in this area are quickly overwhelmed by the damage done by blackouts and days without power in either extreme cold or extreme heat.

Allowing utilities to slash the size of their staffs, especially line workers, compounds a disaster. 

Johnston admits that it's unfair to blame the entire debacle on Gov. Abbott, because the debacle was compounded by decades of plutocratic mismanagement of the Texas power grid in the service of private utilities and fossil fuel pushers: 

Most of Texas has its own power grid that doesn’t connect to the massive Eastern U.S. or Western U.S. grids [and] is under the system operator laughably named Electric Reliability Council of Texas, better known as ERCOT. Significantly, those areas connected to the rest of the country have not had issues.

That the Texas grid was not designed for predictable severe weather and lacked backup generating capacity has been known and documented for years. Yet under Abbott, the situation festered.

A blistering assessment of the Texas situation was provided to DCReport by two deeply informed electricity experts: . . .

“The unfortunate state of the ERCOT power system can be summarized in two words: systematic unpreparedness. The origins of this disaster included the lowest reserve margins in North America, ignoring basic maxims of preparing for bad winter weather, and a market design that rewards shortages at the cost of consumers.”

Some apologists for the Texas debacle claim that connecting the Texas grid to the rest of the country (and, thanks to the miracle of transmission lines, the ample cheap hydro-power of Hydro-Quebec) wouldn't have helped.  Other than the counter-example of El Paso, which is connected to the Western grid and didn't go dark, it's possible to falsify this claim by checking the power reserves available last week, especially from Sweat Band states like Florida and Arizona, whose power grids are built for summer peak demand and therefore have plenty of power in the months when you can actually go outside in those hellholes.

On February 17, when millions of Texas were shivering in darkness, the Western power grid had 21,292 megawatts of reserves:

That by itself represented 2/3 of the 30,000 Mw power shortfall Texas experienced last week, before considering what power might be imported from the Eastern grid.

By the way, wtf is ERCOT and who put them in charge of delivering power to 30 million Texans?  According to the Houston Chronicle, it's

A small nonprofit organization that until now was largely ignored or unheard of by many Texans . . . .

ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, has been thrust into the spotlight because of power outages that left more that 4 million customers shivering during a winter storm that began Sunday. . . .

“Ensuring a reliable grid,” as ERCOT says in a published mission, includes managing the flow of electricity to more than 26 million customers, about 90 percent of Texas’ power load. . . . .

ERCOT also acts as a financial middle-man for wholesale buyers and sellers in the system, collecting payments from the power buyers and paying those that generate it.

Non-profit, but only in the sense that Bushwood Country Club is a non-profit: they exist only to serve the interests of their rich, insufferable backers, like Judge Smales, or the Texas utilities and fossil fuel industries.

Supposedly it's overseen by the Texas Public Utilities Commission, or in other words, the same bunch of Republican plutocrats who have run the state for at least 30 years.  It's no surprise that it has its staunch defenders, including former Texas Governor Rick “Three Things” Perry: 


Whether the children and senior citizens frozen to death across Texas would agree with ol' Rick is not known, because they're . . . dead.

The response of other great Republicans who run Texas has been similarly unhelpful.  We've already mentioned Snowflake Cruz's daddy, Cancun Ted, and Gov. Abbott.   But really the question is why anyone should be surprised at the depraved indifference of these and other Republicans to the suffering and death caused by their own negligence.

For years, those same Texas Republicans have let thousands of Texans sicken and die as a result of their failure to expand Medicaid, despite the the fact that the villainous Federal Government is wiling to foot 90% of the bill.

Cancun Ted's constituents welcomed him home
It's really. as others have pointed out, a function that Republicans do not believe that the job of public officials is to govern.  Rather, it's to insult their enemies (like a Congresswoman from . . . Bronx, N.Y.) and to protect the purses of their rich funders.  As Greg Sargent summed up in The Washington Post,

We’re living through the Texas power shortage, the massive governing failures resulting in nearly half a million Americans dead from a foreseeable pandemic, a horrific economic collapse, and the deep racial and economic equities the past year has stripped bare.

All these suggest a future that will require more and better government,  . . . 

Instead, we’re seeing Republicans respond to large public challenges by increasingly retreating into Foxlandia — an alternate universe where empty culture-war posturing can proceed undisturbed . . . . 

A good stab at the big picture came from former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke. He described Texas as a “failed state” and linked the power failure to Republicans’ broader reluctance to act on the coronavirus and to fund robust financial assistance amid deepening economic misery.

A failed state?  

That's the Republican future for all of us.  Nor is this a recent development, as the liturgy of St. Ronald of Bitburg stateth: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.”

We don't know about you, but we'd rank “There's no heat, water, or food” right up there on the old terror meter.

What deregulation did to Texas was to provide incentives to power companies to maximize consumption of cheap fossil-fuel generated power, but none to properly winterize their plants.  That's because a free market doesn't adequately price in future events, especially those judged not likely to occur before the next quarter's earnings report.  What regulation does is, among other things, fix problems the free market can't, like ensure reliable power in a cold snap.

Or for that matter, protect utility customers from being charged $9,000 a megawatt/hour by gouging spot electricity providers, viz


(from the Dallas Morning News). 

The result of such gouging, by a utility called Greedy, or as the locals would pronounce it, Griddy, was that already suffering Texas consumers were facing one week of power bills in excess of $5,000. 

And the kicker is that the schmuck who designed the uncapped rate system is not only a, wait for it, Harvard professor (well, the Kennedy School, which is sorta Harvard); he's also been quoted after observing the carnage of the last week as that the system has operated as intended and sending $5,000 bills to homeowners desperate to protect their homes from burst pipes was “necessary.” That's some big John Galt energy.

We suspect that in the great tradition of Texas, which was founded by Jim Bowie and other deadbeats on the run from the creditors and their nasty sheriffs, somehow these folks won't actually have to pay, but ol' Greedy, excuse me, Griddy, could still shut off the juice.

But as with other results of Republican indifference to the public good, the terrible news will keep on coming, as pipes burst in warmer weather and the bodies of more victims are recovered, and as the national death toll from our failure to respond to coronavirus reaches 500,000.

And those are just the first robins of spring.  The bill for 40 years of Republicans allocating scarce resources to the very rich and repealing laws intended to protect the result of us is coming due, according to The New York Times:

Sewer systems are overflowing more often as powerful rainstorms exceed their design capacity. Coastal homes and highways are collapsing as intensified runoff erodes cliffs. Coal ash, the toxic residue produced by coal-burning plants, is spilling into rivers as floods overwhelm barriers meant to hold it back. Homes once beyond the reach of wildfires are burning in blazes they were never designed to withstand. 

What's to be done?  The obvious answer is trillions of new funding for infrastructure repair and transition away from fossil fuels, which would also create millions of new jobs for those coal miners in West Virginia.  Of course Republicans will block any such spending.

So if you've just bought a new toy from Gwyneth Paltrow, our advice to you is keep it fully charged.

Monday, February 15, 2021

What did we just witness?


The Spy's Report from Washington

By Scott V. Sandford, Justice Correspondent with
Hamilton Burger, Spy Contributing Criminal Jurisprudence Expert

Well, that went well.  

Last week we made the point that there were any number of witnesses who could shed light on the details of Individual-1's involvement in the violent effort to overthrow the United States Government on January 6.

None were called.  Oh, and by the way, Individual-1 beat the rap again, by a vote of 43 to 57.  That's even worse than the 5-4 vote that installed George W. Bush as President.

So did the failure to call relevant witnesses cause the impeachment trial to fail to convict?

Jamie Raskin took on a corrupt Senate.
The Senate won.
We doubt it.  The outcome was in no more doubt that the trial of two white murderers of Emmett Till and for the same reason: a jury corrupted by white supremacists willing to perpetuate or excuse any outrage if it helps keep their hands around the throat of the body politic.  In other words, Republicans.

We don't want to lose focus on those 43 seditious fellow travelers.  As Dana Milbank put it, “The other 43 Republicans, some of whom, like McConnell, feebly denounced Trump’s conduct even as they acquitted him, now have the cowardly distinction of licking the boots of the man who left them to die.”

Cowards, sure, but we'd also go with the likelihood that the 43 subversives were in fact in full sympathy with the Trumpublican program of destroying democracy in the service of keeping their grip on power.  If you find that conclusion a tad harsh, please provide three facts tending to falsify it. We'll be waiting.

But without letting these 43 anti-American Senators off their hook (and we'll put them right back on it any time they try to lecture loyal Americans on anything related to national security, like closing the hellhole at Guantanamo), let's dilate a minute on the question of witnesses.

The quick execution of the Duke of York maneuver (who led 10,000 men to the top of the hill, and then . . .) by the House impeachment managers Saturday came in for a crossfire of comment, pro and con. 

Those in favor of witnesses (like us!) would point out that the witnesses would have nailed down the parts of the story for which first-hand evidence is lacking, like Trump's prior and contemporaneous involvement in the insurrection.  Even if witnesses would never persuade the 43 disloyal Republicans, they would give the American people a vivid and one would hope durable impression of Trump's brazen scheme to assassinate democracy in broad daylight.

Or as Aaron Blake in The Washington Post put it:

But then we come back to what was mentioned at the top: [The Managers] said this was vitally important. They said this was the worst offense a U.S. president had ever committed. They said accountability was required. Even if Republicans would never have provided enough votes, there is still value in putting all of this on the record — and maybe even, however unlikely, forcing those Republicans to confront the evidence the Democrats said was incontrovertible.

Democrats passed on even really trying. It just doesn’t speak to the idea that this was the worst high crime in American history. 

The Managers had all that in their grasp and they backed down, settling for a written stipulation read by Manager Raskin that confirmed Trump's willingness to sacrifice his Vice President to scuttle the election.  

The Managers toured the Sunday morning gasbag fests but their explanations were not inspiring.  They had already proven their case.  Witnesses wouldn't have swayed more Senators to vote to protect the Republic.  And they scored a great victory by getting seven Republicans to not betray their country.

Well, OK.  But it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the real reason for caving on witnesses was something less inspiring, possibly because it had already been reported in The Washington Post:

And you thought romance in the Senate had died with ol' Strom Thurmond.

We're not very good lawyers, but if we are told that the judges in the case we are arguing want us to wrap it up and if we don't they'll be mad, we sit down and shut up.

Why would the Impeachment Managers, who demonstrated that they are very good lawyers, respond differently?  And why wouldn't they cop to it?  “The Senators made it clear to us that the longer we went on, the worse it would be for our case,” is a perfectly honorable defense.  And with the trial over, why do members of a coordinate branch of Congress feel any further need to spare the sensibilities of the Senate romantics?

We also have the thoughts of various legal kibitzers of greater or lesser repute.  Mr. Dan Goldman, who has had experience as a federal prosecutor and as congressional staff, tends to give the Managers a pass on witnesses:

If you are prosecuting a bank robbery and you have the surveillance camera footage, you don’t need witnesses to tell you what happened. . . .

@RepRaskin is right that if their powerful case did not convince 67 to convict, nothing would. Why dilute their case, delay the trial, potentially put people in harm’s way or endure lengthy litigation, only to get marginally more info about facts that everyone knows? . . . .

It was the right call to proceed as they did. They got important evidence at no cost that bolstered an already strong case. Witnesses were not necessary to the case and witnesses purely for witnesses sake is bad strategy.

So the question of witnesses, unlike the question of the guilt of the impeached Loser-in-Chief or the willful blindness of 43 Qpublican Senators, remains open. 

We have an idea.  Just because the impeachment trial is over doesn't mean that real Congressional oversight of the January 6 outrage and Trump's involvement is over.  The House Managers should turn over their files to the House Committees on Homeland Security (including Eric Swallwell) and Oversight and Reform (including Member Jamie Raskin) and let them follow up with hearings and witness testimony.

That way we can hear from former flunky and acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who could explain why one day after the Seditionist-in-Chief decided to address his mob at the Ellipse he sent a memo disarming the DC National Guard.  He could and should tell the House what prompted this memo, and whether he had had, directly or indirectly. any communications with or directions from the President or his agents with regard to the deployment of the DC National Guard in event of an attack on or around January 6.  There's a phalanx of highly partisan bag carriers whose testimony would also be of great interest.

In addition, given the endless shrieking from Whinin' Mike Lee, the House Committees should subpoena anyone with knowledge of the events at the White House from 1 to 6 p.m. on January 6, including House Minority Wiener Kevin McCarthy and indeed the Loser-in-Chief himself.

Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q - GA) declined comment,
claiming she was "late for her training session"
Republicans and their media masters will screech about prolonging a matter that should be allowed to fade into oblivion, as has been the practice with past fatal assaults on the U.S. Capitol and the attempted murders of senior government officials in furtherance of an insurrection.  But guess what – they'll screech no matter what.  Might as well, as Bonnie Raitt would say, give 'em something to talk about.

And of course the same Trumpublicans who cared not a whit about the rule of law since it was chucked into the bucket of chicken bones in January 2017 will attempt to block the enforcement of the subpoenas in court.  Let them.  Prolong the whole mess for four years.  We can wait.  Even if the investigation prevents Trumpublicans from responding to Cupid's arrow next Valentine's Day too (although we suspect that Marjorie Taylor Greene's “trainers” will be able to reschedule the orgy).

What legal arguments could they muster?  Executive privilege belongs to the Executive, not to grifters evicted from the White House by the electorate.  The Republican witnesses can hardly claim that an investigation into an attack on the U.S. Capitol is not related to a valid subject of Congressional inquiry.  We're kidding – of course they can and will, but we'll bet that even rapey Brett and spooky Amy won't buy it.  Some witnesses will likely plead the Fifth, which tells a story too.

We'll go so far as to say that the longer the potential witnesses try to wriggle out of their day under the bright lights, the better.  Nothing keeps the public interested like a cliffhanger, and the documents and video that the Congressional investigators will provide or leak will continue to torment Qpublicans for an entire Presidential term.

And we're not talking about some bs commission.  Commission are where problems are quietly buried.  Live Congressional hearings and their attendant media circus are where problems remain lodged like a cinder in the public eye.

If we seem to be advocating an endless round of Congressional investigations to promote a partisan political agenda, hell, we'll plead guilty to that.

If you like, you can even call it the Full Benghazi.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Who Needs Witnesses? We Do!

The Spy's Report from Washington

By Scott V. Sandford, Justice Correspondent with
Hamilton Burger, Spy Contributing Criminal Jurisprudence Expert

The second trial of one Donald Trump begins next week in the Senate chamber, this time under the control of Democrats not firmly committed to sweeping the inconvenient facts surrounding the January 6th insurrection under the rug or whatever that thing is on Trump's head.

Don't expect a conviction, now that 45 treason-lovin' Trumpublicans have already lined up around the transparently frivolous pretext that a crooked President no longer in office can't be prevented by conviction following impeachment from running again although that it is one of the two penalties specified for such a conviction in the Constitution.

Don't believe the mainstream media?  Read Article I, Section 3 it for yourself: 

You'd think the best way to persuade 2/3 of the Senate that the Tangerine-Faced Traitor should not be allowed to resume his subversion in 2024 would be to put on an overwhelming case that would establish beyond any reasonable doubt that he was guilty of fomenting insurrection, as charged in the Article of Impeachment.

If you thought that though, you wouldn't be a Democrat:

Testimony by Mr. Trump or other White House or military officials could clarify that. But in this case, a greater understanding would almost certainly prolong the trial by weeks or longer. Republicans are averse to an extended airing of Mr. Trump’s conduct, but for Democrats, the cost would be steep to their ambitions to pass coronavirus relief legislation and install the remainder of Mr. Biden’s cabinet — with very little chance of ultimately changing the verdict of the trial.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, with whom the decision will most likely rest, has indicated would be comfortable proceeding without witnesses. 

Why would you be comfortable putting on less than your best and strongest case? Who does that?

Our friend Jill Wine-Banks, as part of the Watergate Special Prosecution team knew full well she needed real testimony to make her case.  Speaking of lying scumbag Jeb Magruder, she wrote, “After weeks of questioning, Magruder finally implicated others in the cover-up. . . . [and] told us that John Mitchell had approved the Watergate bugging scheme. . . .”  

She also wouldn't approve Magruder's plea deal until she had obtined sufficient witness corroboration.  That's how it's done.   (J. Wine-Banks, The Watergate Girl at 31-38.)

Why should a impeachment trial on which the future of our democracy hangs be any different?

To build the case that the Loser-in-Chief really did what he is charged with:


here are the witnesses we would call:

1.  Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.  On January 6, facing a violent armed insurrection that had breached the Capitol and was then rampaging through its halls, injuring and mudering Capitol Police Officers, the then-Chief of the Capitol Police, Stephen Sund, asked the Pentagon to send in the DC National Guard.  He was stonewalled.  He was apparently not aware that Miller had previously issued the following directive to prevent the Guard from coming to the aid of the US Capitol:

Miller could testify as to what prompted this memo, and whether he had had, directly or indirectly. any communications with or directions from the President or his agents with regard to the deployment of the DC National Guard in event of an attack on or around January 6.  While they're at it, the Democratic Managers should interview other Trump hacks he installed after the election at the Pentagon, including Kash Patel and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, to find out what they were asked to do by Trump and how they responded.

And let's not forget to interview deranged insurrectionist and pardoned criminal Mike Flynn and his brother, Lt. Gen. Charles A. Flynn who “was involved in a key meeting during its heavily scrutinized response to the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol.”

2.  In a fine tick-tock, The Washington Post recounted the chaos at the White House on the afternoon of January 6, when it was obvious that defendant Trump's plug-uglies had invaded the Capitol to stop Congressional ratification of the Electoral College results.

Hiding from the rioters in a secret location away from the Capitol, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appealed to Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) phoned Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.

And Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Trump confidante and former White House senior adviser, called an aide who she knew was standing at the president’s side.

Who knows more about the importance of credible
witness testimony than the Spy's Contributing Expert?

But as senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help during the siege, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery TV images of the crisis unfolding around them to act or even bother to hear their pleas.

“He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” said one close Trump adviser. “If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.” . . . 
Meanwhile, in the West Wing, a small group of aides — including Ivanka Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Meadows — was imploring Trump to speak out against the violence.

Thanks for providing the witness list.  On this account, none of which has been credibly undercut, the testimony of Mark Meadows, Kevin McCarthy, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Kayleigh McEnany and Kellyanne Conway would shed light on what the defendant did or didn't do to stop the insurrection.  If their testimony confirms that the President, once apprised of insurrection, allowed the rampage to worsen, such testimony would confirm that the President was in fact in favor of the insurrection he fomented.

And let's add Mike Pence, whose please for help also went unanswered.  Who did he speak to, and what did they tell him? 

If you don't believe our expert, Jill Wine-Banks agrees that establishing his course of conduct that afternoon is critical to the case.

3.  Rupert Murdoch.  For months, Fox ‘News’ has delivered a non-stop farrago of seditious lies about the election intended to incite the violent protest against the election that took place on January 6.  It is beyond dispute Fox ‘News’ remains in the iron if palsied grip of its owner, Australian plutocrat Rupert Murdoch.  It is also known that he and the defendant were in frequent communication throughout his term.  What did they discuss?  What did Murdoch say and do in the days prior to and including January 6?

Indeed the entire senior management team of the Fox empire should be deposed, including Rupert's trusted lackeys like his son Lachlan Murdoch and Viet Dinh, the hard-right Republican lawyer “responsible for all [Fox] legal, compliance, and regulatory matters, as well as oversight of government and public affairs.”  Sounds as if fomenting or discouraging sedition falls within that brief somewhere. And if it doesn't, how does he justify the $12,000,000 he pocketed last year? 

The only argument we've heard against hearing witness testimony to bolster the case for barring defendant Trump from future office is that lengthening the trial would prevent the Senate from doing other work, like confirming Biden's cabinet.  Fortunately, as so often happens, the defendants' own mouthpieces have undercut his best arguments.

His lawyer Bruce Schoen, claiming that he is shomer Shabbas, has asked the Senate to recess the trial so that he can observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.   That means the Senate, lacking any frummie member since the unlamented departure of “Holy Joe” Lieberman, can work on other business from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.  

That's all the time they need to confirm President Biden's Cabinet and approve the desperately needed pandemic relief.

So let the testimony begin.  We'll bring the popcorn.