Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Charles Pierce on How / Why the GOP Produced Donald Trump and Jon Chait on the Torrent of Impeachable Trump Offenses - Interspersed with My Past Saturday's Potomac River Walk Pics

Two people riding scooters along the very uneven, oft-inundated edge of the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C., 3:18 p.m. May 18, 2019


This entry contains almost dozen pictures -- of varying degrees of mediocre quality -- that I took on Saturday with my little flip-open cellphone's camera while on a walk from L'Enfant Plaza (whence I had gone on the Metro) over to Georgetown and then back to my apartment near 16th and U NW.

I opted to do that instead of going to the gym. (As it is, I went to the gym last night and again tonight.)

L'Enfant Plaza with the newly built Spy Museum now up and running, Washington, D.C., 2:58 p.m., May 18, 2019

I work in the L'Enfant complex. I never thought the Spy Museum would be successfully squeezed in there -- where a glass pyramid used to be -- but it was.


It was a sunny, very warm, and humid day with temps around 84F for a high and the dew point in the 62F to 64F range (humid, yes, but it can and will get a lot worse in D.C. by mid-summer). I made it over to Georgetown, where I had a late lunch at the bar at Mr. Smith's (presently located on K Street beneath the Whitehurst Freeway and across from the Georgetown Waterfront Park / Washington Harbour area).

Another view of the ugly 1960s modernist L'Enfant Plaza complex, Washington, D.C., 3:04 p.m. May 18, 2019

This view and the five that follow were taken from the walkway to and along the I-395 Francis Case Memorial Bridge that spans the Washington Channel, which itself is located between East Potomac Park and the mainstem Potomac River.


On Sunday, I took a similar walk -- i.e., one involving going to Georgetown's waterfront -- and I have a similar cache of pictures (although they seem to have come out a bit nicer, perhaps because of the sky conditions). I'm posting those pictures in a personal update.

Pedestrian bridge view of Captain White’s Seafood City, SW Washington, D.C., 3:04 p.m. May 18, 2019


This entry is a political-themed one, specifically, a reposting of a Charles Pierce Esquire piece and a link to / excerpts of a Jonathan Chait Daily Intelligencer blog piece. The pictures are therefore topically unrelated to the blog entry. However, in so doing, I can post the pictures I took - and not feature two dozen pictures of fucking Donald Trump and the GOP cult that enables him. (I'm also not including any embedded inline links in the text of the articles. The Pierce piece has two such links.)

Another, better view of Captain White’s Seafood City, SW Washington, D.C., 3:05 p.m. May 18, 2019


The Pierce piece …

The Question Isn't How the Republican Party Produced This Disastrous President*. It's How It Took This Long.

If a Democrat is elected in 2020, that person should use all the powers of the office to demonstrate once and for all that the prion disease afflicting the Republicans now has reached terminal stage.

By Charles Pierce
May 17, 2019
Source here

SW Waterfront Marina along the Washington Channel, Washington, D.C., 3:06 p.m.

This whole area has been thoroughly redeveloped and is still being expanded in a phase two.


Joe Biden kicked up a fuss the other day by saying something … un-smart. (Ex-tree! Ex-tree! Read allaboutit!) He suggested that the current president* is a historical one-off and that, once we are rid of him and have fumigated the White House thoroughly, the normal routine of governing the country will resume and everybody can have drinks with each other at the end of the day.

Oak tree as seen from the Francis Case Memorial Bridge walkway (inbound side) in East Potomac Park, Washington, D.C., 3:11 p.m. May 18, 2019


If there is one issue that desperately needs litigating in the Democratic Party's primary process it is this:

Resolved: this presidency* is the logical outcome of 40 years of modern conservatism and its effect on the Republican Party. If it wasn't this guy, it would've been somebody else.

Traffic along I-395 onto the Francis Case Memorial Bridge, Washington, D.C., 3:11 p.m. May 18, 2019

There is a ramped walkway at the end of the bridge leading down to Ohio Drive SW. The walkway itself sort of peters out.


It is pointless for any Democratic candidate to run for any office without acknowledging this fact. We've been banging this tin drum around the shebeen here since it opened, but not enough people have embraced the truth of it.

East Potomac Tennis Center "bubble," East Potomac Park, Washington, D.C., 3:12 p.m. May 18, 2019


(An aside: I really like some of my Never Trump brethren, but they should go back to their own party and clean out the stables. During an election year, and especially during the Democratic primaries, as far as I'm concerned, they all can take a seat.) The problem is the party, and what it's become.

View along Ohio Drive SW near the entrance to East Potomac Park, Washington, D.C., 3:14 p.m. May 18, 2019

This is kind of a weird area with vagrants and the sort of people who fish in the Potomac River as it passes through Washington, D.C., mixed with the bicyclists and joggers.


The party is the problem, because of what it's become—a vehicle for bigotry, religious fanaticism, rigged elections, retrograde social policies, renegade plutocracy, staggering wealth inequality, scientific ignorance, reflexive stupidity, violent populism, white supremacy, and a view of the American electorate that is all switch and no bait. (Did I miss anything?)

Tidal Basin view through fully-leafed Yoshino "Japanese" cherry trees, Washington, D.C., 3:19 p.m. May 18, 2019

That's the Washington Monument across the Tidal Basin, but my cellphone camera didn't capture it well in this diffuse, hazy, midafternoon light.


Three times since 1981, the Republicans have produced a president who basically embodied all of these things, just to varying degrees. Ronald Reagan played fast and loose with the truth; is that business about trees causing air pollution really any nuttier than whatever it was that El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago tweeted at 5 a.m. this morning?

Front view of the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C., 3:21 p.m. May 18, 2019

The tourists were as thick as that damn biofilm that still partially stains / darkens the dome of this memorial.


George W. Bush launched a war on false pretenses and made this a nation that tortures people and is proud of it. Is that any better than what's going on at the border now? The question isn't how the Republicans produced this particular disaster of a president*. The question is what took them so long.

A couple along the Tidal Basin by the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C., 3:22 p.m. May 18, 2019

I assume this was wedding party -- and they were the wedding pair.


And it is a root and branch thing, too. The federal judiciary is salted thick now with judges who will reinforce in the law all that is destructive in conservative politics. That Alabama state legislature that passed that horrific assault on women's rights? You watch. At least two of those cats will be in Congress within the next decade.

Side view of the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C., 3:22 p.m. May 18, 2019.

In the opposite direction, it was drying out mud along a recently-flooded portion of the edge of the Tidal Basin with those fucking Canada geese everywhere -- to include the hyper-aggressive, hissing males; the already-oversized baby goslings; and goose shit everywhere.


These people and these policies have something close to an unbreakable lock on the United States Senate. And there is no sign within the Republican power elite that anyone is willing or able to control what the party has become. There's no Frankenstein, hauling his ass over the polar ice to chase down the monster that has escaped the lab.

Tour bus near the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C., 3:26 p.m. May 18, 2019

Actually, this was closer to the George Mason Memorial -- and by that Inlet Bridge the that carries Ohio Drive SW over the passageway between the scuzzy-and-smelly-watered Tidal Basin* and the not-much-better Potomac River. As for the Tidal Basin, when the Yoshino blossom petals fall into it, the water surface resembles sloshing Pepto-Bismol.


The only possible way to change the Republican Party is to force it to answer for itself, over and over again. One of the biggest mistakes ever made in American politics, as the redoubtable Driftglass reminds us almost daily, was the Democratic Party's blunder in letting the Republican Party off the hook for the various catastrophes wrought by the administration of C-Plus Augustus.

View of the Washington Monument across the Tidal Basin, Washington, D.C., 3:27 p.m. May 18, 2019

I didn't even notice that "strategically" placed cloud that appears to be hovering over the top of it.


Iraq, Katrina, and the Economic Collapse should have been hung around Republican necks in the same way, and for the same reasons, that Democratic politicians had to talk for 20 years about the mannequin the Republicans made out of George McGovern, whom Bobby Kennedy once called the most decent man in the Senate.

Along the very edge of the Potomac River by Ohio Drive SW, Washington, D.C., 3:31 p.m. May 18, 2019

This stretch between the Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial is one of the few areas where one can actually "touch" the Potomac River in that it features this narrow rocky strand -- rather than being below an elevated wall of some sort.


This cannot be allowed to happen again. If a Democrat is elected in 2020, that person should use all the powers of the office to demonstrate once and for all that the prion disease afflicting the Republicans now has reached terminal stage and that the GOP is a mad dog, snapping at phantoms in midair, and endangering the public health and welfare. Mitch McConnell should be made an object of anger and ridicule, and that work should come from the top. The mad dog is at the door.

Upriver view along the Potomac River (toward Rosslyn), Washington, D.C., 3:40 p.m. May 18, 2019


At this point, I'd like to post a link to and excerpt from this Jonathan Chait piece (link embedded): Just This Week, Trump Has Already Committed 5 More Impeachable Acts.

Trump at one of his rallies, this one in Montoursville in the electorally-critical State of Pennsylvania, May 20, 2019.

About that rally, it was a remarkable tour de force even by Trump's "Hillbilly Nuremberg" rally standards -- and shows that it is almost beside the point what is his actual (dismal) nationwide approval rating.


The issue here isn't just all the Putin-backed money laundering and massive corruption over the decades but Trump's ongoing, active, and flamboyantly defiant obstruction of justice in the form of a historically unprecedented maximalist refusal of Trump as U.S. President (and his ethically depraved underlings) to cooperate with any Congressional oversight by House Dems (and, in one case, the Republican-controlled Senate) to include all manner of subpoenas (all of which are just starting to work their way into the Trump/GOP-stacked federal judiciary).

On the other hand, I guess I'm in agreement with Speaker Pelosi's strategy of not initiating impeachment proceedings -- since it will fail in the Senate and, most likely, strengthen Trump.

Indeed, I can just hear Chuck Todd and the rest of the nihilistic political media describing it as "Democrat overreach" and "a big failure for Speaker Pelosi's leadership." As for Fox News, it's what they want for the same reason Trump "wants" to be impeached. Trump himself is like the malevolent entity in that movie The Fifth Element. Direct "brute" force against him only strengthens him.

I have to say that Robert Mueller is also getting on my nerves with that -- to quote Bill Maher -- "Prosecutor Jesus" mentality, all stone-faced, holier-than-thou, and "above the fray" that refuses to take a side in a fight in which a side must be taken.

Chait column excerpts:

Trump’s notion of a “fair” attorney general, as he has stated many times, is one who loyally protects the president’s political interests. His frequent expressions of confidence in William Barr are therefore an important indicator. Barr conspicuously refused to answer a question about whether he had been ordered to investigate anybody, then announced a new, third, investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.

Downriver view along the Potomac River toward the multiple spans of the 14th Street Bridge, Washington, D.C., 3:40 p.m. May 18, 2019


Barr has also repeatedly prejudged the outcome of that probe in public. Trump “has told close confidants that he ‘finally’ had ‘my attorney general,’ according to two Republicans close to the White House,” reports the Associated Press. Every indicator suggests Trump believes, correctly or otherwise, that his attorney general shares his peculiar, mob-family sense of fairness.

Walkway between the Potomac River and Ohio Drive SW, Washington, D.C., 3:44 p.m. May 18, 2019

Yes, a very blurry picture. Of note, some of the jets inbound (on the downriver approach) into National Airport were aligned just right with the Sun at that point so that you could see their shadows sweeping down the river and -- in one case -- down the walkway itself, flashing by in second or two.


In a pre-Trumpian world, this sequence of events would set off a political crisis. In the surreal landscape we inhabit, it barely registers. But it is worth noting that Trump continues to commit impeachable offenses at an unprecedented pace. Last night’s threats to make good on his “lock them up” promises are merely one more in another recent flurry. The space between Trump’s long-standing authoritarian rhetoric and the deployment of his powers of office is slowly collapsing on several fronts.

A large tree between the Potomac River and Ohio Drive SW not far from the Lincoln Memorial -- well, actually, closer to the John Ericsson Memorial -- Washington, D.C., 3:44 p.m. May 18, 2019


Consider some of the events of recent days. Sunday, the New York Times revealed that Deutsche Bank’s internal investigators raised concerns that the portfolios of Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner involved money laundering. Trump is suing Deutsche Bank to block it from complying with congressional investigators. The notion that the president is entitled to engage in red-flagged dealings with money launderers, and conceal it from Congress and the public, is a wild transgression of transparency norms.

Upstairs at Mr. Smith's, Georgetown, Washington, D.C., 5:09 p.m. May 18, 2019


The same day, the Times reported Trump is preparing pardons for several American war criminals. Trump has long fantasized about war crimes and human-rights violations as part of his idealized military, from repeating a fantasized historical account of General Pershing shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood to proposing that the United States seize Iraqi oil as spoils of war. His prospective pardoning of war criminals are steps toward institutionalizing this vision as de facto law.

The always-cool-looking structure that houses the Namibian Embassy along New Hampshire Ave near Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., 5:53 p.m. May 18, 2019


Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Michael Cohen told a closed House panel that Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, encouraged him to lie to Congress in 2017. Cohen’s lie concerned his handling of a deal to build a Trump-branded tower in Moscow. The subject of the lie is itself a massive scandal: Vladimir Putin, who habitually corrupts foreign politicians with bribes disguised as lucrative deals, was dangling a contract worth several hundred million dollars, with no financial risk or downside to Trump.

This is a picture of the Washington Harbour's smaller fountain that I took on a rainy Sunday, May 5, 2019.

I just like this picture. It would have been a wild Cinco de Mayo down there -- falling, as it did this year, on a Sunday -- except for the very rainy weather.


OK, I'm going to sign off for now. Barring any reason to the contrary, my next entry will be a regular update.


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