Let me first acknowledge that the biggest news story today today came from the House Judiciary Committee, which has drawn up two articles of impeachment against President Trump. This comes after committee chair Jerry Nadler nearly lost control of yesterday's meeting.
As Josh Marshall points out, no one expects the Senate to remove the president from office. So the Democratic Party's job is just to demonstrate how much malfeasance and illegality the Republican Party will tolerate from their guy.
If only that were the only story today.
And tonight, I get to preside over a condo-board meeting that will be at least as fun as yesterday's Judiciary Committee meeting.
I had the misfortune of hearing the entirety of Rep. Doug Collins' (R-GA) opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee this morning, and I almost ran off the road because I was rolling my eyes too much.
Fortunately, Alexandra Petri neatly summed up the Republican positions he advanced:
You bet I would love to support impeachment! Nothing would delight me more — if it were just bipartisan, which unfortunately it’s not, because I have vowed to oppose it at all costs. This is sure an unfortunate coincidence. I keep asking: Why isn’t there bipartisan support for this? I could support it, if only I were not against it — which I am, vehemently, and will hear no reason to change my mind. A most ingenious paradox!
We must consider the facts. Alas, the facts are in dispute, coincidentally again by me. So, there we are. Who can say what’s true? I understand you to be saying that a certain set of things are demonstrably true, but to that I say, “What if they weren’t? Also, think about President Andrew Johnson.”
It is your fault that this impeachment process is not bipartisan, and you ought to feel bad. If I had not vowed that this process was illegitimate and I would oppose it, I would consider it legitimate, and support it. It is your fault that I won’t, for starting this process, instead of waiting for me to start it.
Which I would have! If the president were a Democrat.
As long as the Republican members of Congress do not care at all how President Trump executes his office, all the Democrats can do is point out how bad it is. And also their hypocrisy. Remember, when the Republicans impeached Bill Clinton for lying about an affair, they made all the arguments that Democrats are now making for far worse conduct.
The Post reported today that a simple review of phone logs shows how the president and his stooges left themselves open to Russian espionage by using insecure cell phones:
The disclosures provide fresh evidence suggesting that the president continues to defy the security guidance urged by his aides and followed by previous incumbents — a stance that is particularly remarkable given Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign for her use of a private email account while serving as secretary of state.
The connection to the Ukraine campaign is also troubling because of how Moscow could exploit knowledge that Trump was secretly engaged in efforts to extract political favors from the government in Kyiv.
Trump and Giuliani have effectively “given the Russians ammunition they can use in an overt fashion, a covert fashion or in the twisting of information,” said John Sipher, former deputy chief of Russia operations at the CIA. Sipher and others said that it is so likely that Russia tracked the calls of Giuliani and others that the Kremlin probably knows more now
“Congress and investigators have call records that suggest certain things but have no means whatsoever of getting the actual text” of what was said, Sipher said. “I guarantee the Russians have the actual information.”
Ordinarily I'd chalk this up to stupidity. But GOP strategist Rick Wilson sees something far darker:
The traitors deliberately ignore the reporting, counsel, and warnings of the intelligence community when it comes to Russia’s attacks and Vladimir Putin’s vast, continuing intelligence and propaganda warfare against the United States.
The traitors — be they United States senators like John Kennedy and Lindsey Graham or columnists from the Federalist, Breitbart, and a slurry of other formally conservative media outlets — repeat the Kremlin-approved propaganda messages and tropes of that warfare, word for word.
It’s not simply treason by making common cause with a murderous autocrat in Russia, or merrily wrecking the alliances around the world that kept America relatively secure for seven decades.
Their betrayal is also to our system of government, which as imperfect — and often downright fucked up — as it is, has been remarkably capable of surviving.
And if you can’t spot the treason yet, you will soon enough. That’s the thing about spies, traitors, and those who betray their country — they rarely stay hidden forever.
We need to get this administration out of office in 2021, and help the American people understand the danger their sympathizers represent. If only we still taught civics in schools.
Today in Chicago we have seen more sun than in the past several weeks, and yet here I toil in my cube. But a lot is going on outside it:
And we now return to our regular JSON debugging session, already in progress.
As the House Judiciary Committee goes through the unfortunately necessary step of having expert witnesses state the obvious, other things caught my attention over the course of the morning:
Finally, two CTA employees were fired after one of them discovered an exploitable security hole in bus-tracking software, and the other tested it. The one who discovered it has sued under a Federal whistle-blower statute. Firing someone for discovering a potentially-catastrophic software design error is really dumb, people.
After conversations with knowledgeable friends on both sides of center, I wonder which of these scenarios in all seriousness is most likely. Note that these scenarios are not mutually exclusive:
A. President Trump wins re-election.
B. President Trump leaves office before the 2021 inauguration.
C. President Trump loses re-election but refuses to concede.
D. One or more members of President Trump's immediate family flees to exile in Russia before the end of 2022.
E. A flag or general officer openly defies an order from President Trump...
1. and is acquitted at court-martial; or
2. is not sent to court-martial.
F. A senior officer (O-4 to O-6, i.e., Major through Colonel or Lt Commander through Captain) openly defies an order from President Trump...
1. and is acquitted at court-martial; or
2. is not sent to court-martial.
G. One or more members of President Trump's immediate family is convicted of state crimes related to Trump's companies.
All of these are troubling scenarios. All of them are possible.
Not to mention, Scenario F2 has already happened, but people outside the military may not understand the problem. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman unambiguously violated a direct order from the president when he testified before Congress last month. But the order was unambiguously illegal. If the Army were to follow proper procedures, Vindman should go to court-marshal and he should be acquitted. He hasn't been because the Army has no way of starting those proceedings without looking like it's taking a political position. But what if...?
There are many other situations that could come up before Trump leaves office, but I think these are the most likely.
Thoughtful comments about these possibilities are encouraged.
I hate taking sick days, I really do. Fortunately, the Internet never takes one:
I'm now going to try to do a couple of hours of work, but really, I just want to go back to sleep.
Historian Waitman Wade Beorn, who served in Iraq after graduating from West Point, is deeply disturbed by President Trump's intervention into the Eddie Gallagher case:
History warns us that leaders who condone war crimes find themselves in command of criminal militaries. Lessons from the past about war crimes and transgressive military cultures are not just academic: My research shows that subordinates generally read their superiors’ intent with accuracy, for better and for worse. By demonstrating his willingness to intercede in the minutiae of military justice and disciplinary procedures, the president tells those who step over ethical boundaries that they can appeal to a sympathetic ear in the Oval Office. This is exceptionally dangerous. Our military demands that its members be able to recognize and refuse unlawful orders and relies on them to uphold codes of honorable behavior. But this presidential short-circuit can critically undermine this ethos. Military judges and juries may well question their own decisions, wondering whether the president will intervene and pillory them instead of the guilty. The effects of a malfunctioning moral compass extend past our borders. Allies and host nations will be more hesitant to work with the United States if they cannot count on us to effectively punish those who cross ethical boundaries. This can imperil our troops overseas and threaten our strategic safety.
Most importantly, Trump’s actions create a chilling effect for those in uniform who take risks to report bad apples like Gallagher. What are the incentives for risking a career and enduring the stress of reporting a comrade if the president of the United States and his troll army line up in opposition? Why would someone go through all that if they think that all their efforts will be nullified in the end? How many Gallaghers, Behennas, Lorances, and Golsteyns will escape justice now? Even before Trump’s meddling, the Navy SEALs who turned in Gallagher were told by their commanding officer to “stop talking about it” and that doing so would ruin their careers. Ironically, that officer, Commander Robert Breisch, told those SEALs that they risked losing their tridents. Gallagher himself called them “traitors” and obliquely suggested that they might meet retribution from other SEALs.
In addition to describing the moral rot, Beorn also points out how Gallagher and others profit from their disgusting behavior. Because in Trumpland, everything ultimately comes down to money.
Yesterday, the President of the United States mused aloud why we haven't celebrated the centennial of the 19th Amendment's passage in 1920 sooner:
After working his way through the prepared remarks, Trump interjected with his own riff. “They’ve been working on this for years and years,” he said, suddenly wondering, “And I’m curious, why wasn’t it done a long time ago, and also — well, I guess the answer to that is because now I’m president, and we get things done. We get a lot of things done that nobody else got done.”
The task of explaining to Trump that “centennial” means “100th anniversary” fell to Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn. Blackburn gently recounted that the bill worked its way through both chambers of Congress. ... She proceeded to note that “August 18th, 1920 is when the 19th Amendment was ratified.”
Mystery solved! They’re observing the women’s suffrage centennial now because next year is the centennial. That is how time works.
Even after this clear accounting, Trump nonetheless was still confused.
Dementia? Alzheimer's? The Omnibus Explanation? Probably the last one, as it would explain how he doesn't grasp that people who look at his financial disclosures easily spot the endemic fraud, such as what ProPublica reported today.
The election is in 342 days. Angels and ministers of grace, defend us.
As I try to understand why a 3rd-party API accepts one JSON document but not another, nearly-identical one, who could fault me for taking a short break?
Back to JSON and my miserable cold.