Seeing through the McConnell Reality Distortion Machine

If Democrats are acting out of concern that McConnell wants a sham trial rigged to protect Trump, that’s because McConnell told us so. And he did so because Trump is guilty.

Source: Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman in Why doesn’t McConnell want witnesses at Trump’s trial? Because he’s guilty. – The Washington Post

Pork the Navy Doesn’t Want

The $230 billion for operations and maintenance is $2.43 billion above the Pentagon request. The summary boasts of adding $550 million specifically for the services to “improve military readiness, including increased training, depot maintenance, and base operations support.” Whereas Congress added $12.9 billion above the figure requested by the Pentagon to purchase ships and aircraft. That is a 19 percent increase the Pentagon didn’t ask for to buy new equipment, compared to a mere 1 percent increase to solve the supposed “readiness crisis.”

Source: Military Readiness Sidelined For Ships the Navy Doesn’t Want | The American Conservative by Dan Grazier

I give the Pentagon a hard time for its role in procuring gold-plated weapons systems that don’t work and deliver low returns on our investment in national defense. (Cough F-35 cough LCS cough Humvee.) They deserve it: too many careers are built on weapons systems that wind up costing us dearly in American blood and treasure, and in the meantime throttle potential avenues of savings and innovation.

But the Pentagon is not the only culprit here, and Dan Grazier’s article points to the pork-barrel caucus in Congress as a huge part of the problem in the misallocation of our defense funds. In this case, the culprits are ranking Appropriations committee members Senator Richard Shelby from Alabama and Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. And lest we feel that these distinguished Solons are simply doing their part to preserve America’s ability to build its own weapons:

Industrial base concerns are important, but when they’re the only remaining justification for a program, they amount to an admission that the product was never worth the investment. They also demonstrate that the keening about a “readiness crisis” is often just a subterfuge for more pork-barrel spending.

Keep in mind that Grazier is not coming at this from the armchair: he is a retired captain in the US Marine Corps and a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan.

So as we hold the Pentagon accountable, so must we hold Congress – and specific members of that body – accountable for their excesses. Do not let these people hide their corruption behind the flag or the Capitol Building.

 

 

American Heydrich

If Corey Lewandowski proved nothing else in the course of his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, he proved this:

The man is a thug in a suit, and nothing more.

There were days when his diction and demeanor would have seen him charged with contempt of Congress. I’m glad he was not so charged: to have done so would have made him a martyr. Now anyone outside of the Trump Base can see clearly that the best place for the man is in a cell at Leavenworth alongside Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.

Think of this: even the members of the Cosa Nostra called to testify before the Kefauver Committee showed more courtesy and deference. Even the hostile witnesses in the McCarthy hearings were more dignified and polite.

Corey Lewandowski deserves aught more than the contempt of every self-respecting conservative, and the deepest pit of ignominy that history can find for him.

The Upside to the Chaos at 1600

An unnoticed reason for cheerfulness is that in one, if only one, particular, Trump is something the nation did not know it needed — a feeble president whose manner can cure the nation’s excessive fixation with the presidency.

Source: Donald Trump’s Diminishing of the Presidency Is Good | National Review

Are we reaching the point in America where we are grasping for straws in our desperate search for something positive to take from our current predicament? Or is this the opening that will shift Congress from its interminable focus on intramural rivalries and on re-asserting the role of the Hill in the governance of the nation?

It can only be the latter if the leaders in the House and Senate realize that there is more at stake here than partisan one-upsmanship. The Russia sanctions bill was a good start. Let’s make it a trend.

Dances with Soviets

The president was boasting of the “great intel” he receives when he discussed intelligence provided by a U.S. partner.

Source: Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador – The Washington Post

I cannot help but think about the Gipper at moments like this.

Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave with such speed that we can almost hear it in Oxnard.

This is No Longer about Trump, or Congress

I believe that many of them are deeply conflicted. That in the leather chairs of Capitol Hill at the end of each of these long Spring days, there is no shortage of Republican legislators sitting alone in their offices or committee rooms, drinking scotch, and cogitating on their futures.

I suspect that there may be a few who have taken campaign coin from Trump or his supporters who are wondering exactly how long they need to “stay bought” before they can begin responding to the popular cry.

And, in the end, I think most will need irrefutable, impeachment-quality evidence to shift their support.

No, Mr. Frum. This is no longer about the President, or even Congress. It is now about the facts.

The future of President Donald Trump, of the Republican Party, and possibly the nation, now lies in the hands of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and relies upon the moral fortitude of a small handful of men and women at the Department of Justice, and their ability to ascertain the facts in the face of a President who seems determined to hide them.

Trump’s West Wing and the Hill

Trump faces a challenge similar to the one Ronald Reagan confronted and had only partial success in overcoming: namely, that of finding enough good people to take the reins of government. Without the president discovering better new talent, the usual suspect will quickly return: the ones who gave us the Iraq War and whose economics led to the Great Recession.

Source: Donald Trump’s Triumph | The American Conservative

Yesterday, my old friend and schoolmate Howard Bliss asked me if I could beg a single boon of the President-Elect, what would that be?

I said, simply: “Appoint an absolutely stellar cabinet. Then listen to them.”

Dan McCarthy over at the American Conservative points out that this is going to be a tough job. Elected as an outsider, Trump cannot resort to using the usual suspects who will simply revive failed policies of the past. At the same time, he needs people who can help him navigate the frustrating complexities of Capitol Hill and the government bureaucracy. This task will test every ounce of Trump’s executive abilities, and his appointments will tell us much.

A relatively weak White House is an opportunity for Congress to restore a balance of power between the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. They must absolutely do it. But they can only do so if they are well led and determined – individually and as a group – to do so.

This is where Republicans and Democrats can find common ground, and should work together. Congress is on a long, meandering path toward becoming a rubber-stamp legislature, Constitutional guarantees notwithstanding. That trend needs to be arrested, and now is the moment in history to do so.

The Trump Era Dawns

On the global stage Trump’s populism and nationalism makes him very much a man of his times, with parallels to figures as diverse as Marine Le Pen, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and of course Vladimir Putin. But in the American context he is like nothing we have seen before — a shatterer of all norms and conventional assumptions, a man more likely to fail catastrophically than other presidents, more constitutionally dangerous than other presidents, but also more likely to carry us into a different political era, a post-neoliberal, post-end-of-history politics, than any other imaginable president.

Source: The Trump Era Dawns

We walk a very narrow bridge with this President.

This is not the time to give up, tune out, and go back to The Way We Lived Before. The Trump Era demands a new kind of American Citizenship, one that is constantly informed, regularly engaged, and frequently activist.

This president and the Congress are going to need to hear from us, and we’re going to need to be more visible, more thoughtful, and more persuasive than ever to get our points across.

Welcome to the Trump Era.

Now get busy.

When this Election was Lost

Hillary Clinton is going to take a lot of Hell for losing the election. Many of her supporters will be tempted to blame the loss on Bernie Sanders for undermining her. Or on the FBI. Or on the Russians.

The truth is, she lost the election because the Democratic Party had become ossified around a coalition of educated urban progressives and special interests that had nothing to do with what the majority of America cared about.

Until Democrats and Progressives understand that by abandoning the South, abandoning Labor, and talking smack about a place they call “Flyover Country” they tossed this election long before Hillary declared, they are doomed to repeat their mistake.

We were all warned. The Tea Party in 2010 was the a shot across the bow that should have altered our reality. But the Left – and, too often, this blog – continued to behave toward this giant electoral rump like it was an aberration rather than a harbinger.

After last night, we all need to do some very real soul searching. The nation has voted on what we believe is important. And they told us we were wrong.

We can either decide that the nation has gone crazy, or we can probe the very real possibility that too many of us have lost touch with the throbbing heart of the nation.