Quote for the day

He will do anything, we have to understand, to protect his psychic attachment to his own self-interest. Anything. I’ll repeat what I believe: He will not leave his office if he narrowly loses in 2020. He’ll fight — and rally his supporters to fight with him. He’s not Nixon. He’s Erdoğan. When, since becoming president, has Trump conceded anything?

A tyrant’s path to power is not a straight line, it’s dynamic. Each concession is instantly banked, past vices are turned into virtues, and then the ante is upped once again. The threat rises exponentially with time. If we can’t see this in front of our own eyes, and impeach this man now, even if he will not be convicted, we are flirting with the very stability of our political system. It is not impregnable. Why is Putin the only person who seems to grasp this?

Andrew Sullivan

Sullivan is mostly right, but wrong about this: Trump isn’t leaving office without a godawful fight whether he loses by a large or small margin in 2020; a sycophantic Republican Party, and a cultish, easily-manipulated base, have convinced him his grip on office is unassailable and accountable to only his own whims.

Every day that Congress refuses to do its plain duty, and remove him, the danger of gunfire for control of the White House increases.

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Michigan drops Flint prosecutions

The Michigan Attorney General has dropped charges against eight of the defendants in cases arising out of the Flint water supply screw-up.

Prosecutors stunned the city of Flint, Mich., on Thursday by dropping all pending charges against officials accused of ruining the community’s drinking water and ignoring signs of a crisis, casting doubt on what some residents had seen as a small but tangible step toward justice.

Fifteen state and local officials, including emergency managers who ran the city and a member of the governor’s cabinet, had been accused by state prosecutors of crimes as serious as involuntary manslaughter. Seven had already taken plea deals. Eight more, including most of the highest-ranking officials, were awaiting trial.

The wide net cast by prosecutors never did make any sense, so this is probably the right decision.

The Associated Press captured the exact instant when everything went wrong.

Nike Glasgow, the plant’s laboratory supervisor at the time, says he asked district engineer Mike Prysby of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality how often staffers would need to check the water for proper levels of phosphate, a chemical they intended to add to prevent lead corrosion from the pipes. Prysby’s response, according to Glasgow: “You don’t need to monitor phosphate because you’re not required to add it.”

Recalling the meeting Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press, Glasgow said he was taken aback by the state regulator’s instruction; treating drinking water with anti-corrosive additives was routine practice. Glasgow said his gaze shifted to a consulting firm engineer in attendance, who also looked surprised.

“Then,” Glasgow said, “we went on to the next question.”

That’s when everything went bad. The regulations require phosphate, and the actual circumstances required phosphate; the engineer and chemist both knew that and, instead of drawing light sabers and making a He-man fight out of it right then, they passively rolled over. That was a technical failure, and an ethical failure, and they must bear primary responsibility for everything that followed.

There has not been, yet, a very good public account of the cover-up that eventually followed, but I seriously doubt that high-level administrators and the governor’s office knew anything about it. Almost certainly, they shrugged and repeated the assurances they were getting from below:, e.g., “The chemist and the engineers tell me everything is fine.”

There probably was plenty of negligence, but criminal behavior? No. Almost certainly not.

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The sickness on the Right, ctd

A Tennessee sheriff’s deputy has been placed on leave because he delivered a church sermon calling for the execution of gay people.

The Knox County Attorney General’s Office said it is looking into a church sermon by a Knox County sheriff’s detective that called for the government to arrest and execute LGBTQ community members.

In the hourlong sermon based on an Old Testament passage, Detective Grayson Fritts, also a pastor at All Scripture Baptist Church in Knoxville, told his congregation June 2 that he believes that federal, state and county governments should arrest, try, convict and “speedily” execute people within the LGBTQ community on no more grounds than a cell phone photo of a person participating in a Pride event.

You can see the problem: The Inerrant Bible, which is totally true and trustworthy according to every Christian Holy Man on earth, really does call for the execution of LGBTQ people. What is a simple Pious believer to do but demand their execution?

After all, that’s what Our Invisible Friend commands us — right?

The other possibility — which I favor, by the way — is that the claim of Biblical inerrancy is a marketing lie that serves nobody’s interest but Holy Men, who are supposed to be experts in interpreting the Bible, and only morons fall for it.

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So long, Sarah

Like every decent adult, I’m thrilled that Sarah Sanders is leaving government service.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary who fiercely defended President Trump through one of the most tumultuous periods in American politics while presiding over the end of the iconic daily news briefing, will step down at the end of the month.

Mr. Trump announced her departure on Thursday on Twitter, the presidential tweet having supplanted the role that a White House press secretary played in previous administrations.

Sanders lied to the country as a routine matter, and cooperated with The Donald’s efforts to turn the free press into an obsequious house organ; she was a press secretary who doesn’t believe in a free press. Good riddance.

There is a downside, though. Since competent, decent-minded grown-ups want nothing to do with a man whose ‘golden touch’ turns everything to sewage, the next press secretary is all but certain to be something lower and fouler than the ambulatory putrescence that’s leaving. Imagine that, if you can.

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The Conservative Resurgence’s death twitches

Clearly, with Paige Patterson in disgrace and Paul Pressler under suspicion of pederasty, the Southern Baptists are leaving the so-called Conservative Resurgence behind — and a lot of folks don’t like that at all.

Consider, for instance, this tweet thread:

Yeah, well — ho-hum; what is there to say to, or of, a man who thinks theology is actually a branch of knowledge? Evangelicals squandered whatever moral credibility they had with their all-in support for The Donald, and if they want to spend a while beating-up each other instead of dragging the country down to their own debased level, that works for me.

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