house impeachment articles senate parade
© Win McNamee/Getty Images
Articles of Impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump are formally carried through the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol by officials from the U.S. House of Representatives to the U.S. Senate on January 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.
As they like to say in the horror movie trailers: It... begins...! (Cue bassoons and waterphones.)

If last Wednesday's solemn and prayerful parade through the Capitol rotunda was the Democratic Party's funeral march, then impeachment starting this week may be the burial service. Central casting couldn't have found a more perfect funeral director than the grave and genteel Mitch McConnell.

Of course, the Democrats have been screeching for new witnesses because Adam Schiff (D-CA) muffed his due diligence on the House side. The tactical fallback, courtesy of Lawfare, is to provoke a legal pissing match over executive privilege, which they hope to turn into a campaign ploy in the months ahead: Trump concealed the truth! This time, though, I doubt the Senate rules will give them a chance to run option plays from the Brett Kavanaugh playbook, flooding the end zone with obvious geeks and bottom-feeders of the Michael Avenatti species.

And, naturally, the witness question beats a path directly to the Bidens. Open that door and there is really nothing on God's green earth that will keep Hunter B out of the witness chair. In which case he will have to reiterate what he said in a TV interview a few months back — they'll play the recording in-session — which is that he got the $83-K-a-month do-nothing gig on the Burisma board-of-directors because he was the Vice-president's son. Or he can change his story and cast himself as a liar. It would not be necessary to call Joe Biden, just submit in evidence that recording of him bragging on how he strong-armed the Ukrainians to shut down their Burisma investigation by threatening to withhold a billion-dollar aid-and-loan package. Hmmmm. Sounds suspiciously like what Mr. Trump is accused of, absent evidence.

Was Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) playing dumb on Face the Nation Sunday when he said Hunter Biden shouldn't testify because he has no knowledge of the accusation? Or, is Mr. Nadler just dumb enough to forget that in a trial, the person accused of something is called the defendant because he's entitled to defend himself? The corruption in the Hunter B matter is not just obvious, it's confessed. Everyone seems to have forgotten that the US has a treaty with Ukraine on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters signed at Kiev on July 22, 1998. How, exactly, does that not apply to Mr. Trump's conversation with Mr. Zelensky?

Well, all this tends, naturally, to questions around the 2020 election. Though the polls cast Joe B as front-runner, I fail to see how he survives the Ukraine payola scheme as a viable candidate. On top of which is his pretty obvious mental deterioration. Half the time, he doesn't seem to know what state he's in, and the most amazing things come out of his pie-hole — the latest being his gaffe about Beto O'Rourke being a Latino. Did Uncle Joe not meet the man half a dozen times at debate venues?

Bernie Sanders looked to be coming on strong in recent weeks, until Project Veritas caught some of his field managers threatening to burn down Milwaukee if he was deprived of the nomination and then proceed with a national insurrection. Was that a true colors moment? Voters have a right to wonder if Bernie is piloting a garbage barge of old-time Bolshevism, complete with the requisite reign of terror.

Just today The New York Times endorsed Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar for president. Yes, you probably thought what I thought initially: one for Prez, one for Veep. Actually, no, it was both for Prez. How's that supposed to work? Well, it's just a ruse, of course, because both are foundering in the polls, and poor Ms. Warren is on tape lying about herself so many times that you'd see more of that on TV than Seinfeld reruns before next November. The New York Times is actually holding out for the resurrection of Hillary Clinton. Isn't this the perfect set-up for old Hillary to swoop into Milwaukee on her leathery wings of fire, like the fearsome Wendigo of Potawatomi legend, and gobble up the delegates? It would be much like the Whigs nominating the old warhorse General Winfield Scott in the election of 1852. That election marked the death of the Whig Party, and with Hillary leading the charge, 2020 would be the end of the Democrats, such as they were known.

The impeachment witness question also redounds upon the fabled "whistleblower," that Jacob Marley of the impeachment Christmas story, rattling his chains off-stage and wailing of cosmic injustice against the poor Ukrainians. There is no witness more pertinent to this enormous fiasco than that pimpernel of perfidy — and, of course, the long choo-choo train of persons he conspired with, including Adam Schiff and the Lawfare gang. I would love to see him unmasked in the 'splainin' seat, spilling the beans on the predication of this whole sordid affair. But it might be better to wait and hear from him in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to follow this impeachment circus, where his turpitudes can get the full attention they deserve, with indictments to follow.

Kunstler continues the dirge:

You have to wonder how many Democratic senators spend the long hours of impeachment fantasizing how to end the misery of listening to Rep. Adam Schiff deliver the party's funeral oration. Please God, hurl a lightning bolt at the podium... bring down a chunk of the fine old coffered ceiling where he stands and prates about a Russian invasion of Malibu... send a coral snake up the leg of his trousers...!
schiff impeachment senate
© Senate Television via Associated Press
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
It was so bad that his California counterpart, Senator Dianne Feinstein, just up-and-split late Wednesday. Elizabeth Warren has been seen furiously doodling maps of all the primary precincts she is failing to visit in her confinement. Bernie Sanders imagines himself wielding thirty inches of re-bar upside Mr. Schiff's skull, while Amy Klobuchar pops her third Xanax of the evening. You have no idea what mental tribulation the House impeachment manager supreme is visiting on his colleagues.

The impeachment case against Mr. Trump might mercifully spell the end of the Master Narrative the Democrats have been confabulating since 2016: that Donald Trump invited the wicked Vlad Putin to checkmate Hillary Clinton and thereby crushed the hopes and dreams of those wishing to make Ukraine the 51st state... or something like that. Because according to Mr. Schiff, there is no nation on this planet as dear to the interests of America than darling Ukraine, with its radioactive forests, decrepitating Soviet infrastructure, and dedication to liberty.

Those who were only puzzling over Nancy Pelosi's motives in bringing this case, and assigning it to the two sketchiest characters in her charge, Schiff & Nadler, must finally be convinced that she is no longer sound of mind. What was she thinking? Did she really want to set up the voters to lose faith in the basic electoral process by preemptively delegitimizing the 2020 election? ("Trump can only win if he cheats!") Is she that desperate to flip the Senate to prevent any more judicial appointments? Could be. Or is the impeachment spectacle a different kind of set-up: to make the forthcoming raft of indictments against RussiaGate coupsters look like a mere act of revenge rather than long-delayed justice for a three-year campaign of perfidious sedition by some of the highest officials in the land?

Anyway, after another day of this boresome torment, the Senate will get to hear Mr. Trump's defense in a full-throated way — really for the first time since the whole nasty business began, and in a conspicuous venue where it can't be ignored anymore. If nothing else, it will probably be more interesting and certainly more dignified than the idiotic vaudeville put on by Schiff & Nadler. Even if the President's managers move to dismiss the case out-of-hand for its utter lack of merit and the legal errors in its construction by two House committees, I doubt they will miss the opportunity to use the time allotted to lay out the story of what actually happened the past three years — a crime spree of government against itself.

The temptation to call witnesses must be anguishing, though; from a legal standpoint the House's case deserves to be thrown out summarily just to reestablish the principle that impeachment is not a frivolity. But the nation would miss the chance for Mr. Schiff to have to explain exactly what happened around the "whistleblower" episode and, of course, there would be no more possible excuses for producing the "whistleblower" him-or-herself in the witness dock. I think we would discover what an absolutely shady operation that was.

In the meantime, an interesting development flew in under the radar as the impeachment spectacle hogged the news: The Department of Justice yesterday declared two of four FISA warrants against Carter Page invalid. The warrants were signed by James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Rod Rosenstein. The move has deep repercussions in everything connected to the RussiaGate investigation, including especially the prosecutions mounted by Robert Mueller's lawyers. It implies what has already been demonstrated by other evidence: That the FBI and the DOJ knew by January of 2017 at the latest that all the information they used to start the case against the President was garbage, and yet they continued it anyway — including the appointment of Mr. Mueller and his commission. The DOJ's statement about the two FISA warrants doesn't negate the possibility that the other two will also be declared invalid. It's time for the figures involved in all this to become very afraid.
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.