We Are In The Twilight Zone

Published / by Stephen Chapel

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The Trevor Noah interview of Susan Rice sheds a lot of in-depth light on the latest Trump foreign policy disaster, abandoning the Kurds. Rice’s message to Trump:

“it not about I. The whole problem with Trump is it is all about I. It is not an America-First foreign policy. It is a me-first foreign policy. The United States of America had an understanding with the Kurds which he had honored for two and a half years. We worked with the Kurds. They did the fighting for us to take out ISIS. Now he has turned around and sold these guys out without consulting anybody on his national security team.  …..

Rice explains how with this move we lose credibility with allies, we abandon our efforts to fight terrorism with partners, and we have opened the floodgates for terrorism in the middle east and the rest of the world.

You can read the full 17 minute interview or skip to the 11 minute point and hear the really sad and scary stuff. The October 8 Interview

We Are In Uncharted Territory

Published / by Stephen Chapel

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In a NYT’s October 1 editorial Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser from 2013 to 2017, provides a clear and credible explanation of  Vice President Biden’s efforts in 2015 to encourage the replacement of the Ukrainian prosecutor general. We are In Uncharted Territory.

The Rice editorial draws a stark national security contrast between the Obama and the Trump administrations.

President Trump, his Republican sycophants in Congress, and the right-wing media are working overtime yet again to distract and manipulate the American public. To downplay Mr. Trump’s transgressions, they are drawing a false equivalence between his July phone call with President Zelensky of Ukraine and former Vice President Biden’s efforts in 2015 to encourage the replacement of the Ukrainian prosecutor general.

Read on …

Straw That Broke The Camels Back

Published / by Stephen Chapel

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It has been over a month since my last post. It is pretty clear that we have a president that is totally lawless, out of control, cares nothing about The Constitution and our Democracy. Blog posts had become pretty much a waste of time. However the latest trump event may finally get congress to take action. It also motivated me to do this post.

Sept 24 David Leonhardt was one of the first to break the news. How Impeachment Shifted. Two days prior, Sept. 22, David posted a list of Trump misdeeds, Donald Trump vs. the United States of America: Just the facts in 40 sentences.

An exert from the lead in to “just the facts in 40 sentences:”

President Trump’s latest attempt to put his own interests above those of the United States — by pressuring Ukraine’s government to help his 2020 presidential campaign — inspired me to put together a list.

It’s a list of ways that Trump has behaved like no other modern president, and it spans his corruption, disrespect for women, violation of the law and disdain for American democracy.

I deliberately avoided any traditional matter of policy — even those, such as climate change, on which I think his approach is downright dangerous. This is instead meant to be a just-the-facts catalog of how Trump has altered the presidency.

It’s only 40 sentences, and the sentences are not long. I recognize that I left out several examples — of his corruption or his racism, for example — that furthered a theme already on the list.

When you get to the end of the list, I wonder if you’ll have the same reaction that I had after putting it together: It sure seems like it’s time for Congress — both the Democratic leaders in the House and the Republican leaders in the Senate — to use its constitutional power to hold the president accountable for the harm he’s causing to the United States.

 

To Impeach or Not To Impeach

Published / by Stephen

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Robert Reich –The Real Reason For Impeachment

In today’s political climate, the question of whether or not to impeach the President of the United States is often thought of in political terms.

But there is a much deeper concern at the heart of the question.

An impeachment inquiry in the House is unlikely to send Trump packing before Election Day 2020 because Senate Republicans won’t convict him. And it’s impossible to know whether an impeachment inquiry will hurt or help Trump’s chances of being reelected.

Does this mean impeachment should be off the table? No. There’s a non-political question that Congress should consider: Is enforcing the United States Constitution important for its own sake — even if it goes nowhere, even if it’s unpopular with many voters, even if it’s politically risky?

Every child in America is supposed to learn about the Constitution’s basic principles of separation of powers, and checks and balances.

But these days, every child and every adult in America is learning from Donald Trump that these principles are bunk.

By doing whatever he could to stop the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including firing the head of the FBI, Trump told America it’s okay for a president to obstruct justice.

Goodbye, law.

By issuing a blanket refusal to respond to any congressional subpoena, Trump is saying Congress has no constitutional authority to oversee the executive branch. He’s telling America that Congress is a subordinate branch of government rather than a co-equal branch.

Forget separation of powers.

By spending money on his “wall” that Congress explicitly refused to authorize, Trump is saying that Congress no longer has any constitutional authority over spending.

Goodbye, checks and balances.

By unilaterally shuttering the government in order to get his way, Trump told us he has the constitutional right not to execute the laws whenever it suits him.

Farewell, Congress.

By directing the Attorney General, the Justice Department, the FBI and the Secretary of the Treasury to act in his own personal interest rather than in the interests of the American people, Trump is saying that presidents can run government for themselves.

Adios, Constitution.

By unilaterally threatening to cut off trade with the second-largest economy in the world, Trump is telling us he has sole authority to endanger the entire American economy. (Make no mistake: If he goes through with his threat, the U.S. economy will go into a tailspin.)

The core purpose of the Constitution is to prevent tyranny. That’s why its Framers distributed power between the president, Congress and the judiciary. That’s why each of the three branches was designed to limit the powers of the other two.

In other words, the Framers anticipated the possibility of a Donald Trump.

Fortunately, they also put in a mechanism to enforce the Constitution against a president who tries to place himself above the law and to usurp the powers of the other branches of government.

Article I, Section 2 gives the House of Representatives the “sole Power of Impeachment.” Article I, Section 3 gives the Senate the “sole Power to try all Impeachments.”

Trump surely appears to be usurping the powers of the other branches. Under these circumstances, the Constitution mandates that the House undertake an impeachment inquiry and present evidence to the Senate.

This may not be the political thing to do. But in order to safeguard our democracy, it is the right thing to do.

China Innocent, Trump Not So

Published / by Stephen

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A Currency War, Paul Krugman

At this point, China’s currency policy is actually fairly benign; if anything, its policies are keeping the renminbi stronger than it would be otherwise. Meanwhile, U.S. unemployment is low. There are plenty of things to criticize about China, but currency policy isn’t one of them. With unerring aim, the Trump administration has decided to accuse China of the one crime of which it’s innocent. Of course, this administration doesn’t have to fear setting off a trade war, since it has already done that.

Guns & White Nationalism

Published / by Stephen

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E.J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post
One Side is Right And One is Wrong

And when Americans are gunned down in incident after incident, when we are numbed by repeating the same sorrowful words every time, when we move within a news cycle from “something must be done” to “the Senate will block action” or “the politics are too complicated,” you know America’s democracy is failing and its moral compass is broken.

Our rancid political culture is, quite literally, killing our nation. And the problem is not caused by some abstraction called “polarization” or by “the failure of both sides to understand each other.” Those are the alibis of timid souls so intent on sounding “balanced” that they turn their eyes from the truth.

What is that truth? When it comes to gun violence and the need to confront white nationalism, one side is right and one side is wrong.

 

Quote Of The Week – Maybe The Election

Published / by Stephen

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From the San Jose Mercury News: Williamson won’t win, but to all 2020 hopefuls: Take note:

“Our problem is not just that we need to defeat Donald Trump,” she said. “We need a plan to solve institutionalized hatred, collectivized hatred and white nationalism. And in order to do that, we need more than political insider game and wonkiness and intellectual argument.”

Concerning 2020, this is one of the very best editorials and the best advice I have seen to date. Democrats take notice!

What the Mueller Investigation Was Always About

Published / by Stephen

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This is one of the best I have seen. In the search for criminality, we’ve lost site of the real problem. Below is the Adam Schiff / Mueller interaction documented in the SLATE article:

From SLATE, 7/25 by Dahlia Lithwick.

In the partisan warfare that dominated Wednesday’s hearings, we’ve forgotten the point: Our elections are under threat, and the president doesn’t much care.

Schiff: Director Mueller, I want to close out my questions, turn to some of the exchanges you had with Mr. Welch a bit earlier. I’d like to see if we can broaden the aperture at the end of the hearing. Receiving assistance during a presidential campaign is an unethical thing to do. 

Mueller: And a crime. 

Schiff: And a crime. And to the degree that it undermines our democracy and institutions, we can agree it’s also unpatriotic?

Mueller: True. 

Schiff: And wrong. 

Mueller: True. 

Schiff: The standard of behavior for a presidential candidate or any candidate shouldn’t be whether something is criminal, it should be held to a higher standard, you would agree? 

Mueller: I will not get into that, because it goes to the standards to be applied by other institutions besides ours. 

Schiff: I’m just referring to ethical standards. We should hold our elected officials to a standard higher than mere avoidance of criminality, correct? 

Mueller: Absolutely. 

Schiff: You have served this country for decades, you’ve taken an oath to defend the Constitution, you hold yourself to a standard of doing what’s right. 

Mueller: I would hope. 

Schiff: You have. I think we can all see that. There are times where your reward will be unending criticism, but we are grateful. The need to act in an ethical manner is not just a moral one, but when people act unethically, it exposes them to compromise. Particularly in dealing with foreign powers, is that true?

Mueller: True. 

Schiff: Because when someone acts unethically in connection with a foreign partner, that foreign partner can later expose their wrongdoing and extort them? 

Mueller: True. 

Schiff: And that conduct, that unethical conduct can be of a financial nature, if you have a financial motive or illicit business dealing, am I right? 

Mueller: Yes. 

Schiff: If you are lying about something that can be exposed, then you can be blackmailed? 

Mueller: Also true. 

Schiff: In the case of Michael Flynn, he was secretly doing business with Turkey, correct? 

Mueller: Yes. 

Schiff: That could open him up to compromise that financial relationship. 

Mueller: I presume. 

Schiff: He also lied about his discussions with the Russian ambassador and since the Russians were on the other side of the conversation, they could have exposed that, could they not? 

Mueller: Yes. 

Schiff: If a presidential candidate was doing business in Russia and saying he wasn’t, Russians could expose that too, could they not? 

Mueller: I leave that to you. 

Schiff: Well, let’s look at Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the Kremlin, someone the Trump Organization was in contact with to make that deal happen. Your report indicates that Michael Cohen had a long conversation on the phone with someone from his office. Presumably the Russians could record that conversation, could they not. ****

Mueller: Yes. 

Schiff: And so, if candidate Trump was saying, I have no dealing with the Russians but the Russians had a tape recording, they could reveal that, correct? 

Mueller: Yes.

Then Schiff, still sadly and soberly, concludes:

Schiff: When this was revealed, that there were these communications, notwithstanding the president’s denials, the president was confronted about this, and he said two things. First of all, that’s not a crime. I think you and I have already agreed that shouldn’t be the standard, right? 

Mueller: True. 

Schiff: The second thing he said was, why should I miss out on all those opportunities? I mean, why indeed, merely running a presidential campaign, why should you miss out on making all that money was the import of his statement. Were you ever able to ascertain whether Donald Trump still intends to build that tower when he leaves office? 

Mueller: Is that a question, sir? 

Schiff: Yes. Were you able to ascertain, because he wouldn’t answer your questions completely, whether or if he ever ended that will desire to build that tower? 

Mueller: I’m not going to speculate on that. 

Schiff: If the president was concerned that if he lost his election, he didn’t want to miss out on that money. Might he have the same concern about losing his reelection? 

Mueller: Again, speculation. 

Schiff: The difficulty with this, of course, is we are all left to wonder whether the president is representing us or his financial interests.

Mueller – The Essential Facts

Published / by Stephen

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From Mother Jones 7/24 On The Mueller Testimony:

But here’s the biggest takeaway you might not see elsewhere in the media: The man tasked with pursuing a criminal investigation of the president of the United States spelled out for Congress that the highest officeholder in the land betrayed the country he was sworn to serve.

Mueller didn’t say those words, but David Corn, our Washington bureau chief, does in summarizing the facts of the case as they were laid out, in great detail, from Mueller’s report and testimony: “A US election was hijacked. Trump stood by as it happened and profited from it. And ever since he has attempted to cover up this original sin of his presidency.”

David points out that Mueller was cautious in his choice of words, as everyone expected him to be. But, he notes, “In the quiet way of an institutionalist who respects norms and rules, Mueller made it clear: Trump engaged in treachery.”

Those are the facts.

Trump may scream otherwise (in fact, even as Mueller testified under oath, his campaign blasted out an email claiming, “NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION, COMPLETE AND TOTAL EXONERATION!”), but David and the rest of our newsroom will stay focused on the truth, every single day with everything we’ve got.

And you can help us push back against the spin and misdirection by sharing our reporting on Facebook or Twitter, and if you want to go further and support our hard-hitting journalism on this monumental day, we’d be grateful. It’s what makes everything we do possible.

Today was a good day for the truth, and there will be more of those to come.

Thanks for reading, and for everything you do to advance truth and transparency.


Monika Bauerlein, CEO
Mother Jones

Running Against a Bad Man

Published / by Stephen

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Good Advice from Krugman:

The Setup:

The great majority of Americans consider Donald Trump unpresidential. A plurality consider his recent Tweets racist; half believe his campaign coordinated with Russia. It’s fair to say that most of America finds Trump pretty vile.

The question for Democrats is what to do with that reality. The thing is, it’s a lot less relevant politically than you might imagine. Most of the people who consider Trump vile would never have voted for him anyway, and many of the rest will vote for him despite their personal distaste, because they hate liberals more.

Yet it would also be wrong to say that Trump’s unique awfulness is irrelevant. His approval rating is remarkably low given growth over 3 percent and unemployment under 4 percent. And perceptions of character do drive votes: the Clinton email “scandal” — yes, it was fake, but it was relentlessly hyped by the media and fueled by James Comey’s misbehavior — almost surely swung the 2016 election.

The Details – Read the article.

The Bottom Line:

So can Democrats walk and chew gum at the same time? Can they run mainly on things Americans want, like guaranteed health care, while also reminding voters that a terrible person occupies the White House? The fate of the republic may hinge on the answer.