Oval Orifice Update

* “I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!” Whatever.

* “No crime, no impeachment,” no criminal trial, no relevance.

* Here’s the take of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office on President Donald Trump’s decision to hold up military aid to Ukraine, aid that Congress, of course, had authorized. The federal watchdog agency found the presidential intervention to have been illegal. “Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” summarized the GAO–not Nancy Pelosi or Adam Schiff or Chuck Schumer or Rachel Maddow.

* In the 18th century, Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke cut memorably to the moral chase. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing,” he famously declared. Two centuries later, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. doubled down. “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.” The principle, we are reminded, is timeless; its application ongoing.

Would that Republican senators, sitting in “judgment” of Donald Trump, answer the call to combat evil in our contemporary midst. Would that they muster the rectitude and guts to do the right thing unless, of course, they–as self-serving, political cult followers–don’t identify with “good people.”

* “I think Ken Starr is a lunatic.”–That was President Donald Trump’s disparaging take from back in the Clinton-impeachment day. Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz would get it. Now Starr’s part of Trump’s made-for-Fox, impeachment-defense team.

* Alan Derschowitz clients: O.J. Simpson. Claus von Bulow. Mike Tyson. Jeffrey Epstein. Donald Trump. There’s a pattern. But did Harvey Weinstein not get the memo?

* Speaking of Trump’s legal representation for the Senate impeachment trial, Pam Bondi is prominently–and reprehensibly–back in the news cycle. At least she’s not dating Lev Parnas.

* Trump welcomed the national champion LSU football team to the White House. To whatever degree it was a diversion, it was undermined by the president’s inimitably impulsive reference to his impeachment as he mocked Democratic priorities for “trying to impeach the son of a bitch.” Sometimes a TelePrompTer does help.

* GOPster Mash: “I spent my day talking to my friend & supporter, the President. You spent yours with Al Sharpton.” That’s Matt Gaetz, the Florida congressman, responding in vintage, Trump-punk Gaetz fashion to, ironically, fellow Florida Republican, state Rep. Chris Latvala.

* Next up? It’s now official; Trump’s third Homeland Security and counter-terrorism adviser, Rear Admiral Peter Brown, is out. There may or may not be a replacement, because the best qualified don’t want to work for an impulsive charlatan–or because counterterrorism, cybersecurity and biodefense may or may not be priorities anymore.

* For what it’s worth, the new Trumpian Republican normal includes a budget deficit that is up nearly 12 percent from the same period a year ago. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the deficit for the current 2020 budget year will hit $1 trillion–and will remain at 13 figures for the next decade. At least the Tea Partiers weren’t a menace, just an ideological knee- jerk movement.

* Not OK. It’s likely no one familiar with federal campaign finance laws was anticipating this possible application. Some vested political interests in Oklahoma have proposed specialty license plates that would help market the Trump brand. If approved by the state legislature, “MAGA” plates could be purchased for $35 and ostensibly help the Trump campaign–unless Dems can make the case that such a re-election would surely “Make America Groan Again.”

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