Tag Archives: Dana Milbank

A Bill Of Particulars

I find myself quoting Dana Milbank a lot these days. Milbank, a columnist for the Washington Post, is the kind of writer I appreciate; much like Gail Collins of the New York Times, he is both informative and witty.

In his column yesterday, however, Milbank did us all a service; given Pelosi’s decision to commence impeachment proceedings, he lays out what I would label “a bill of particulars.” Milbank’s list illustrates the truth of an observation from Lawfare: “Trump’s misconduct presents what the military calls a target-rich environment.”

I cannot improve upon it, so I am taking the liberty of quoting the entire list.

Milbank begins that list by asking an obvious question: what if the shoe was on the other foot? What if a Democratic President–Elizabeth Warren, for example–was accused of doing the things Trump has clearly done, and  the GOP has simply shrugged off?

● Defies congressional power of the purse by unilaterally raiding the Pentagon budget to finance her pet projects?

● Rejects the authority of congressional oversight, disregards subpoenas and refuses to furnish documents, including a whistleblower complaintabout the president deemed “urgent” by the intelligence community?

● Is found by an independent prosecutor appointed by her own administration to have engaged in 10 possible instances of obstruction of justice but is not charged because regulations prohibit such a move against a sitting president?

● Approves and reimburses secret payments, in violation of campaign-finance law, to a person threatening to put out damaging information about her?

● Fires an FBI director who refuses to call off a probe of one of her close associates?

● Rescinds the security clearance of a former CIA director critical of her, as well as the press credentials of journalists who criticize her administration?

● Persuades a foreign leader not to admit Republican members of Congress into his country?

● Grounds the jet used for official business by the congressional leader of the Republican Party?

● Repeatedly releases highly classified intelligence, some to a foreign enemy and some only to Democrats?

● Threatens to cut off highway funds and disaster aid to states and territories controlled by Republicans, and declares she has the “absolute” right to move criminals to jurisdictions governed by Republicans?

● Funnels millions of taxpayer dollars to her own businesses, pressures federal agencies and international organizations to do business with her personal enterprises, invites foreign governments to pay millions of dollars to her businesses, and rejects a law requiring her to provide Congress with her tax returns?

● Calls for a boycott of the parent company of a media outlet critical of her, threatens an antitrust action against the owner of another media outlet critical of her, says she can unilaterally order businesses to disinvest from a country and calls for federal punishment of individual businesses she doesn’t like?

● Circumvents the Constitution’s advice-and-consent provision by running the government with “acting” officials (unqualified but loyal to her) not confirmed by the Senate?

● Offers to pardon those who commit crimes enforcing her policies, questions the authority of certain judges because they are GOP appointees and pardons a political ally who ignored court orders?

● Without congressional approval, establishes a de facto network of internment camps, run under inhumane conditions, for a class of people she disdains?

● And, finally, asks and coerces foreign governments to sabotage her Republican opponents’ campaigns?

When you see the whole list–which Milbank suggests isn’t even complete, it is impossible to justify the enormity of what the GOP has enabled and protected. I can’t help wondering what Trump’s toadies in the House and Senate will tell their grandchildren when those children study the history of this  retrograde and destructive Presidency.

How will they respond to the inevitable questions? What did you do, grandpa/grandma, while that mentally-ill, racist ignoramus was dismantling our government, spitting on the rule of law, and violating the Constitution on a daily basis?

 

 

A Perfect Analogy

Amid the chaos and corruption of this administration, there is one positive thing we critics all need to concede: Trump, Pence and company have been gold for political satire.

He’s probably less well-known than  the large and appreciative audiences for John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, et al,  but Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has also been turning out some really excellent snark. And since the mood–at my house and on this blog–has been pretty depressed, I thought I’d share one of Milbank’s more recent columns.

This one was titled “American Pharoah Joins the Resistance.” American Pharoah, for those who (like me) don’t follow such things, is a Triple Crown winning horse. And Mike Pence recently alleged that the horse bit him. Hard.

I saw the initial report of Pence’s accusation, thought “good for the horse,” and promptly forgot about it. Milbank didn’t.

On Friday, Vice President Pence informed House Republicans that Triple Crown winner American Pharoah “bit me so hard” on the arm during a Kentucky visit last year that he (man, not horse) “almost collapsed.”

Some might disbelieve the vice president’s tale of American Pharoah carnage, because Pence said nothing about this grievous injury at the time and because the manager of the racehorse-breeding company said that if the “sweet” thoroughbred had bitten Pence, “I’d know it.” Pence did show people a bruise on his arm back then, but that could have been from one of the many times President Trump walked all over him.

I’ve never known a member of the Trump administration to tell an untruth, so I have no reason to disbelieve Pence’s harrowing account.

Sweet-natured or not, Milbank says there are several reasons the horse might have chosen to bite Pence:

Pence saw him and another stallion grooming each other, and American Pharoah worried he’d be sent to the glue factory.

Pence told the stud that sex is only between one stallion and one mare, whom the stallion should call “mother.”

Pence advised American Pharoah not to eat oats with a mare unless others are present at the same trough.

Alternatively, as Milbank writes, since horses are very hierarchical and alpha horses bite those they consider beneath them, perhaps Pharoah had seen how Pence is treated at the White House? Or had drawn conclusions about status from Pence’s nauseatingly obsequious behavior around Trump?

The column is all worth reading, but here is my absolute favorite paragraph. It’s a perfect analogy to this disastrous–almost comically destructive–administration:

Trump might not have American Pharoah’s speed, but their behaviors are similar. The comedian John Mulaney likens Trump’s presidency to a horse loose in a hospital: “No one knows what the horse is going to do next, least of all the horse. . . . So all day long you walk around, ‘What’d the horse do? What’d the horse do?’ The updates, they’re not always bad; sometimes they’re just odd. It’ll be like, ‘The horse used the elevator? I didn’t know he knew how to do that.’ The creepiest days are when you don’t hear from the horse . . . those quiet days when people are like, ‘It looks like the horse has finally calmed down.’ And then 10 seconds later the horse is like, ‘I’m gonna run toward the baby incubators and smash ’em with my hooves.’”

Perfect.

Plotzing

Yesterday, Dana Milbank’s column in the Washington Post began as follows:

The Israeli tabloid Yedioth Ahronoth came out on Wednesday with a shocking report: Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann would join Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) at Glenn Beck’s rally in Israel in August.

It turned out that much of the report was wrong. The three candidates quickly said they had no such plans – a sensible decision. Beck’s hateful shtick encouraged even Fox News to end his show later this month. But, incredibly, another piece of the report was true. “I’d love to participate,” Lieberman confirmed when The Post’s Felicia Sonmez found him in a Capitol hallway. “It’s just going to be a rally to support Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Never mind that Beck, a Christian Zionist, supports Israel because the return of Jews to that ancient land is a necessary condition of the Rapture, during which Jews who refuse to accept Jesus and convert will be consumed by fire–a biblical prophecy with which Lieberman might be presumed to differ.

Milbank noted that Lieberman’s willingness to make common cause with Beck made him “plotz” (a word that very roughly translates into “‘become agitated.” The full meaning of “plotz” is probably appreciated only by those of us with Jewish mothers and grandmothers).

Milbank was astonished that Lieberman, who wears his religion on his sleeve,  would embrace Beck, one of the country’s most prominent anti-Semites. He failed to understand that what Lieberman and Beck share is far more than unwavering, uncritical political support for Israel. Both men lack any hint of self-awareness. Both are supremely confident that they own the Truth and have a duty to lecture everyone else about that Truth. Both engage in smarmy self-righteousness. Both are narcissists.  Both, in a word, are zealots–blinded to any worldview beyond their own and utterly convinced of their own moral superiority.

As the character of Yenta in Fiddler on the Roof might have put it, “It’s a perfect match!”