Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Another surreal day in Washington

Today, Tuesday, is set to be another surreal day in our nation's capital in the Age of Trump and his Republican majority that can't shoot straight.  Here's what's on tap:

1.  Crown Prince Jared Kushner will go behind closed doors for another day of non-disclosure and not under oath, this time with the House Intelligence Committee.  Then afterward he will, presumably, again speak to reporters to declare his innocence and to assure them that there's nothing to see here.   He is completely innocent, and furthermore he saw nothing but innocent behavior by anyone in what he called a "very unique" campaign.

2.  Don Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort will also be talking to staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in closed session and not under oath.   So, of course, they will both tell reporters later that they completely shut it down by proving their innocence.

It's all just too surreal.    When are we going to get some real, tough, under-oath and in-public testimony about this scandal?    Democrats keep saying this is just preliminary questioning by their staff and that open hearings will come later.

I'm concerned about letting them sway public opinion,with their public statements about their testimony, without challenge, and giving Trump more backing to claim the whole Russia thing is fake and a charade -- and then use that as justification to shut the investigation down.  And what's the game he's playing with AG Jeff Sessions?   Trump keeps demeaning him in public, and it seems he's trying to get him to resign, which many people assume is a step in moving to fire Robert Mueller.   But meanwhile his press secretary says Trump has full confidence in Sessions.

3.  The Senate will vote on . . . something.  It's a vote to proceed to debate.   But they're not being told what is up for debate. It has something to do with repealing Obamacare and maybe replacing it . . . but with what?

One news story suggested that this is really Mitch McConnell's trial balloon.   See, they all promised to repeal Obamacare, period.   But then they diverge on what to replace it with.   Repeal without a replacement plan is a non-starter, even among Senate Republicans.  But so are all the plans they've considered.

So maybe what McConnell is doing is trying to lead people blindfolded into a vote to debate repeal and replace, but the replace part is to emerge during the debate.  In other words, it's a variation on repeal and replace later.   It's more like:  vote to debate repeal and replace now, but the "replace plan" is to be decided in the debate.   Get it?

Or maybe that's wrong, and McConnell just wants to have a vote, let it fail, and then move on to other things.   [Added from a later report:  The vote will be whether to proceed with debate on the repeal/replace health plan that was passed by the House last May.]

This is madness.  Trump poured gasoline on it, but Republicans have been fanning at these flames long before His Orangeness ascended to the Oval.  It's the Republicans who will own whatever it is they do.   What Trump will have to own is his failure to provide any leadership.

Hold on to your sanity.   You'll need it.   It's going to get worse before it gets better.


PS:  This happened yesterday, but it adds to the surreal miasma hanging over today.   A federal district judge has ruled that the president's voter fraud investigation commission:  (a) may request voter data from the states, noting that there are not grounds for the injunction sought by the privacy watchdog group because the commission is not technically a government agency and thus not bound by laws governing such entities.   However, the judge also ruled (b) that the states are not compelled to comply.    Duh.   I hope this gets appealed.   I'd like a better defense of the privacy of voting records than this "not compelled to comply" statement.

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