CSotD: Bearing Witness

Topics for cartoons are beginning to come out of Washington like the firehose of which Dan Perkins warned, and Chip Bok is only one of several conservatives who dismissed reports that Dear Leader had referred to veterans as “losers and suckers” because the sources had requested anonymity.

If they were telling the truth, they’d have used their names.

Like James Comey, fired a day before his pension would have vested, after publicly questioning Trump’s policies. (UPDATE: Ouch — no, it was Andrew McCabe, for talking to the press. See comments.)

Or Christine Blasey-Ford, subjected to harassment and death threats for testifying against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Or Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, fired from the National Security Council, along with his brother, after testifying before Congress, then, in his lawyer’s terms, subjected to a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” that forced him to retire from the military after a 21 year career.


Nick Anderson points out that anonymous sources are nothing new, nor is there anything new in the move to attack them rather than to attempt to address the facts of the report.

It’s an old bit of courtroom wisdom: “If the facts are on your side, attack the evidence. If the facts are against you, attack the witness.”


Well, you’ve got a witness willing to go on the record now, and Jack Ohman boils it down to the basic revelation: He knew the dangers of the coronavirus and chose to tell the American people otherwise.

Which isn’t nearly as astonishing as the fact that he sat down with Bob Woodward for a series of interviews. Not only Bob Watergate Woodward, but Bob Woodward who already wrote one book describing Trump as incurious, impatient and incompetent.

Trump has said little, except that he won’t read Woodward’s book because “he hasn’t got time.”

Yeah, and my dog doesn’t have time to play the flute.

We’ll see how his defenders rally around this latest disclosure, but, then again, Trump could kill 192,000 people in covid wards and not lose a single vote.

But Ann Telnaes cuts to the chase and points out who Trump really wanted to avoid panicking.

As noted before, the stock market is not the economy, but it is the important market segment for the one-percent, and, while Dear Leader accepts the adulation of the 99, he doesn’t play to their needs.


Meanwhile, here’s Nick Anderson again, with a comment on Trump’s reluctance to spread panic among the masses.

The Woodward Tapes are not the same as the White House Tapes that sank Nixon. According to what has been disclosed so far, they don’t reveal criminal actions, merely despicable political jockeying.

And those old enough to remember Watergate will remember that Nixon loyalists continued to defend him, explaining how it didn’t matter and why he had to do it, the difference being that senior GOP hadn’t yet succumbed to the “anything for power” stance and took a more legalistic view of things, forcing his resignation.


Nor is that the only change in our national viewpoint: Matt Davies suggests that this president will not bother to try to keep people from hearing the tapes, much less having his secretary erase the most damning parts.

He’ll simply make it a matter of faith: Either you believe him or you believe the clear evidence as presented in his own voice.


And, as Adam Zyglis puts it, truth doesn’t stand a chance when we’re under the sway of a cult of personality.

Yes, it’s ironic that the term “Cult of Personality” was coined by Nikita Khruschev to describe the unconditional, unquestioning obedience accorded to Joseph Stalin, and the willingness of the Politburo to twist Soviet philosophy and policy to meet Stalin’s own desires.

But then, however bizarre it may seem to have Vladimir Putin at least set free to do as he wishes, if not directly pulling the strings in the White House, the degradation of ethics did not start on the day we elected a TV star president.

At least, not this TV star. Maybe that first one.

No, it was earlier than that.


However Trump responds to the Woodward revelations, he played another, more deadly card yesterday, as Ann Telnaes points out.

Trump announced his leading candidates for the Supreme Court, which assumes that he will be re-elected with a Senate majority, but he has certainly proven his ability to put judges on federal courts, while his colleague, Moscow Mitch, has proven that he can also keep them off the bench.

Last time around, third-party purists were warned that the next president would control the Supreme Court, and, if you believed then that RBG would get through those four years, you surely can’t think she’ll outlast a second Trump term.


And the days when, to get confirmed, a Supreme Court judge had to promise to call balls and strikes without bias are long past.  Tom Cotton posted this declaration of intent shortly after Trump named him to the list of potential nominees.

It’s less about what is in his heart than it is the sheer brazen arrogance: “Vote for Trump, get me on the bench, I promise to make choice a thing of the past.”

The division here being that same odd exceptionalism that lets people, on the one hand, proclaim themselves Christian, and, on the other, ignore every one of Christ’s commands and support a man who brags of his infidelity and sexual predation.

Mostly, for men or women, it’s that same-old same-old that we have seen in issues of sexual orientation and stem-cell research: It’s easy to take a harsh, dogmatic stance until things hit you personally.

And so the teenaged daughters of upper-middle-class families go to doctors for D&Cs, not abortions, while adult women quietly visit their own doctors for procedures they keep to themselves.


But let’s not forget that, in 1972, Ms Magazine broke that secret with a public announcement — not a “confession” — by prominent women who had been there and done that and were tired of the secrecy, subterfuge and collaboration.

There are, indeed, times when anonymity is inappropriate.


7 thoughts on “CSotD: Bearing Witness

  1. Anonymity has its advandages. During Watergate, I remember my father and I getting kicked out of the local barber shop because they discovered my father was a Democrat. Where I live now, the D’s outnumber the R’s, so it’s the Trump supporters who are feeling the heat. Some closed their businesses and moved, even before Covid hit. I haven’t seen a single political yard sign, for either candidate. It’s almost too quiet.

  2. Mike. I love your writing from here in South Africa and it’s one of my go-to places in the day. I remember Trump saying one time he wouldn’t be caught out like Nixon, because there wouldn’t be tapes. Instead we have hearsay and Woodward. I don’t need to guess why he’s desperate to avoid behind the scenes conversations.

  3. I believe it was Andrew McCabe who was boned out of his pension. But no doubt Preznint Pull-ups would do that to all of us if he could; he’s that cruel. And if he gets another term, watch what happens to Social Security.

  4. “Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” — Chico Marx, disguised as Groucho, in Duck Soup.

    I listened to a podcast on old movies. The reviewers said they couldn’t get into the Marx Brothers because nobody acted like that in real life.

  5. It wasn’t Rosemary Woods who erased the 18 1/2 minutes. If she had done it, it wouldn’t have had so many stops and starts.

    It was Nixon himself, who was so clumsy, he could not operated a recorder without mistakes. He could not defeat a childproof cap.

  6. After all these years (and I’m now in my seventies) I still cannot cotton on to why men like Tom and his cohorts are so concerned with the contents of my (our) wombs.Are they afraid it will be their sacred sperm we are dumping ?

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