Trump & Republicans – Unfit To Govern – Part 2

Published / by Stephen Chapel

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I am starting a new “Unfit To Govern post. The original post was getting long.

HuffPost 3/20/2020: Trump Responds To Question About Coronavirus Fears By Bashing ‘Terrible Reporter’

Washington Post Opinion, Stuart Stevens 3/18/2020: Republicans like me built this moment. Then we looked the other way

Stuart Stevens is a writer and Republican political consultant who has advised a pro-Bill Weld super PAC in the 2020 election. His book about the Republican Party, “It Was All A Lie,” will be published next month.

What is happening now is the inevitable result of a party that embraced fear, weaponized xenophobia and regarded facts as dangerous, left-wing landmines that must be avoided.

Yes, elections have consequences. Those of us in the Republican Party built this moment. Now the nation must live with those consequences

Trump’s Legacy

Published / by Stephen Chapel

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A New Mask That Will Save Lives

Daily Sound and Fury: Trump Legacy

From Beau’s: A Trump Sandwich

 

Trump & Republicans – Unfit To Govern

Published / by Stephen Chapel

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Posts & Articles that speak to the Trump / Republican handling of the current medical / financial crisis:

Paul Krugman 3/9/2020: Trump Can’t Handle the Truth And neither can the rest of America’s right.

Robert Reich 3/9/2020: How to Respond to the National Emergency

In short, our imminent coronavirus and economic crises won’t respond to trickle-down economics.

Instead, Congress must immediately enact an emergency $400 billion.

The money should be used for

1. Coronavirus testing and treatment.

2. Paid sick leave and family leave this year, renewable for next year if necessary.

3. Extended Medicaid and unemployment insurance.

4. Immediate one-time payments of $1000 to every adult and $500 per child, renewable for next year if necessary.

Nicholas Kristof 3/11/2020: 12 steps to Tackle the Coronavirus. President Trump and other health officials need to act immediately, while there is time.

David Leonhardt 3/12/2020: Europe’s Not The Problem.The lack of American tests is.

Vanity Fair 3/12/2020: How Trump Made America Far Less Prepared For Coronavirus.

Paul Krugman 3/19/2020: 3 Rules for Covid-19,The Trump Pandemic.

I’ll leave health policy to the experts. On economic policy, I’d suggest three principles.
First, focus on hardship, not G.D.P.
Second, stop worrying about incentives to work.
Third, don’t trust Trump.

 

 

About Warren – Two Contrasting Views

Published / by Stephen Chapel

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From Jill Colvin / AP: She Lacks Talent & is Mean: Trump when speaking to reporters as he signed an emergency $8.3 billion funding package to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak, Trump was asked whether he thought sexism had anything to do with Warren’s departure from the Democratic presidential race.

“No, I think lack of talent was her problem. She has a tremendous lack of talent,” Trump responded. The president commended her debate performances, saying she “was a good debater” who had “destroyed” the candidacy of former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg “like it was nothing.”

“But people don’t like her,” he went on to say. “She’s a very mean person. … People don’t want that. They like a person like me, that’s not mean.”

In Contrast From Robert Reich: A Heartfelt Thanks to Elizabeth Warren:

Your campaign was a model of substance and tenacity. You made your points about America’s misallocation of power, and the need for structural change, powerfully but without rancor. In a better America and at a better time, you would have sailed to victory.

The Week American Democracy Died?

Published / by Stephen Chapel

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Paul Krugman, NYT, 2/3/2020: I guess you might have hoped that there would be some limits to what these apparatchiks would accept, that even they would draw the line at gross abuses of power and collusion with foreign autocrats. What we’ve learned, however — and perhaps more important, what Trump has learned — is that there is no line. If Trump wants to dismantle democracy and rule of law (which he does), his party will stand with him all the way.

In the wake of Trump being let off the hook, acquitted of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, a Krugman NY Times opinion piece is appropriate. A quote from Krugman’s  lead-in and the actual column are below.

Quote From Lead-In

Today’s column is about zombie ideas, a term I didn’t invent but did, I think, do more than anyone else to popularize. As I explain, a zombie idea is one that should have been killed by evidence but just keeps shambling along, eating people’s brains; the two biggest zombies in U.S. politics are belief in the magical power of tax cuts and climate change denial.

I’m pretty sure, however, that I did invent the term “cockroach ideas,” which are false ideas that you do manage to get rid of for a while, but keep coming back. And it occurred to me that the current state of the U.S. economy offers an occasion to think about cockroaches past.

The Column: How Zombies Ate the G.O.P.’s Soul

Is this the week American democracy dies? Quite possibly.

After all, everyone in Washington understands perfectly well that Donald Trump abused the powers of his office in an attempt to rig this year’s presidential election. But Senate Republicans are nonetheless about to acquit him without even pretending to look at the evidence, thereby encouraging further abuses of power.

But how did we get to this point? Part of the answer is extreme partisanship and right-wing political correctness (which is far more virulent than anything on the left). But I also blame the zombies.

A zombie idea is a belief or doctrine that has repeatedly been proved false, but refuses to die; instead, it just keeps shambling along, eating people’s brains. The ultimate zombie in American politics is the assertion that tax cuts pay for themselves — a claim that has been proved wrong again and again over the past 40 years. But there are other zombies, like climate change denial, that play an almost equally large role in our political discourse. And all of the really important zombies these days are on the right. Indeed, they have taken over the Republican Party.

It was not always thus. Back in 1980 George H.W. Bush called Ronald Reagan’s extravagant claims about the effectiveness of tax cuts “voodoo economic policy.” Everything that has happened since has vindicated his original assessment. Deficits ballooned after Reagan cut taxes; they shrank and eventually turned into surpluses after Bill Clinton raised taxes, then ballooned again after George W. Bush’s tax cuts.

Voodoo has also crashed and burned at the state level: The Kansas experiment in radical tax cuts was a dismal failure, while California’s tax hike under Jerry Brown, which conservatives declared a case of “economic suicide,” was followed by a revenue and economic boom.

Yet voodoo economics has become unchallengeable doctrine within the Republican Party. Even fake moderates like Susan Collins justified their support for the 2017 Trump tax cut by claiming that it would reduce the budget deficit. Predictably, the deficit actually exploded, and now exceeds $1 trillion a year.

The politics of climate change have followed a similar trajectory. Global temperature keeps setting records, while climate-related catastrophes like the Australian wildfires are proliferating. Yet a majority of Republicans in Congress are climate deniers — many of them buying into the notion that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by a vast international scientific conspiracy — and even those, like Marco Rubio, who grudgingly admit that global warming is real oppose any significant action to limit emissions.

It’s important to realize that the zombification of the G.O.P. isn’t a recent phenomenon, something that happened only with Trump’s election. On the contrary, zombies have been eating Republican brains for decades. Voodoo economics had completely taken over the party by the early 2000s, when then-House majority leader Tom DeLay declared, “Nothing is more important in the face of war than cutting taxes.” Climate deniers have ruled since at least 2009, when only eight House Republicans supported a bill to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

What recent events make clear, however, is that zombie ideas haven’t eaten just Republicans’ brains. They have also eaten the party’s soul.

Think about what is now required for a Republican politician to be considered a party member in good standing. He or she must pledge allegiance to policy doctrines that are demonstrably false; he or she must, in effect, reject the very idea of paying attention to evidence.

It takes a certain kind of person to play that kind of game — namely, a cynical careerist. There used to be Republican politicians who were more than that, but they were mainly holdovers from an earlier era, and at this point have all left the scene, one way or another. John McCain may well have been the last of his kind.

What’s left now is a party that, as far as I can tell, contains no politicians of principle; anyone who does have principles has been driven out.

Now, the news media, with its constant urge to seem “balanced,” has a hard time coping with this reality; it’s always looking for ways to portray at least some Republicans as admirable figures. This has made it easy prey for charlatans like Paul Ryan, who pretended to be serious about his fiscal principles. But he was always an obvious flimflam man.

Anyway, a result of decades of zombification is a Republican caucus that consists entirely of soulless opportunists (and no, the fact that some of them like to quote Scripture doesn’t change that fact).

I guess you might have hoped that there would be some limits to what these apparatchiks would accept, that even they would draw the line at gross abuses of power and collusion with foreign autocrats. What we’ve learned, however — and perhaps more important, what Trump has learned — is that there is no line. If Trump wants to dismantle democracy and rule of law (which he does), his party will stand with him all the way.

The Impeachment Hearings Revealed a Lot

Published / by Stephen Chapel

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Michelle Cottie, NYT Editorial: After two weeks of public testimony, Americans should have a good sense of why an impeachment inquiry was needed.

Some good stuff. Below are selected quotes:

Despite Mr. Nunes’s fantasyland contentions that the testimony of the past two weeks has served only to expose Democrats’ “asinine,” “pitiful” attempts to “overthrow a president,” in reality the proceedings have produced a number of startling revelations, none of them exonerating the president.

The biggest bombshell came Wednesday, with the appearance of Gordon Sondland, Key takeaway: There was a quid pro quo.

Thursday brought only more grief for Mr. Nunes and other Trump defenders. As their closing witnesses, House Democrats called Fiona Hill, formerly the National Security Council’s top expert on Russia, and David Holmes, a political officer at the American Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Mr. Holmes is the official who overheard the July 26 phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland in which the president quizzed the ambassador about the status of the investigations he was seeking. Mr. Holmes also recalled Mr. Sondland telling him after the call that the president didn’t give a fig about Ukraine except for the “big stuff” that directly affected him, such as the “Biden investigation.”

Dr. Hill was even more pointed with her message, which boiled down to: Republican lawmakers need to stop behaving like Russian stooges.

[Dr Hill] Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on the committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.

Bribery Pure & Simple

Published / by Stephen Chapel

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Jackie Speier says impeachment testimony was a ‘piling up of more evidence.   MSNBC Hardball, Nov. 13, 2019.

Contrast Republicans twisted logic to support and defend Trump’s promotion of conspiracy theories and illegal use of his office for political reasons with the clear thinking and professionalism of the people featured in the Hardball piece.

I recommend listening to the Nov 13 MSNBC Hardball video (link above). But, in my opinion, reading the transcript makes a stronger case of the illegal actions of the president. For me reading the words is more insightful than hearing the words via the video.The transcript is below:

Chris Mathews 00:00 This has been an historic and news making day on Capitol Hill where the house of representatives, held the first public hearings on the impeachment of president Trump. Democrats made the case that Trump pressured the leader of Ukraine to investigate his political opponents using the power of his office to do so. In their debut before the American public, us ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor and deputy assistant secretary of state, George Kent, spoke clearly and authoritatively about the pressure campaign that was waged against Ukraine. They described an effort by Trump and his deputies to leverage that country into delivering the politically motivated investigations that the president wanted. And it was against that backdrop that the star witness ambassador Taylor dropped an important new revelation, a bombshell, really linking the president directly to that scheme. Just one day after Trump ask ukrainian president Zelenskiy to dig up dirt on his political opponents, a member of Taylor’s staff heard a conversation between EU ambassador, Gordon Sondland and president Trump himself. And here’s how Bill Taylor described what he heard

Bill Taylor 01:06 in the presence of my staff at a restaurant. ambassador Sondland called president Trump and told him of his meetings in Kiev. The member of my staff could hear president Trump on the phone asking ambassador Sondland about the investigations. Mr Sondland told president Trump, the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. Following the call with president Trump, the member of my staff asked ambassador Sondland what president Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that president Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.

Rep. Adam Shiff: 01:40 I take it the import of that as he cares more about that than he does about Ukraine.

Bill Taylor 01:46 Yes, sir.

Chris Mathews: 01:46 Yes Sir. Well, that staffer identified by NBC news as David Holmes is now set to testify to impeachment investigators on that committee behind closed doors this Friday, and today’s hearing lasted five and a half hours. Republican spent their time trying to poke holes in the testimony and advance the president’s counter narrative, but the testimony from Taylor offered some troubling details for the president. Ambassador Taylor affirmed that military aid was withheld in an effort to extort Ukraine, and both witnesses suggested the action taken in Ukraine were unprecedented.

Rep. Chris Goldman: 02:21 Ambassador Taylor in your decades of military service and diplomatic service representing the United States around the world. Have you ever seen another example of foreign aid conditioned on the personal or political interests of the president of the United States?

Bill Taylor: 02:40 No. Mr Goldman I have not.

Rep. Chris Goldman: 02:41 is pressuring Ukraine to conduct what I believe you’ve called political investigations, a part of us foreign policy to promote the rule of law in Ukraine and around the world?

George Kent: 02:53 It is not.

Rep. Chris Goldman: 02:55 Is it in the national interest of the United States?

George Kent: 02:58 In my opinion, it is not.

Chris Mathews: 03:01 Taylor also stood behind his text of uh, last September saying that military aid for political gain is quote crazy

Bill Taylor: 03:11 because that was so important that security was so important for Ukraine as well as our own national interest to withhold that assistance for no good reason other than help with the political campaign made no sense it was, it was counterproductive to all of what we had been trying to do. It was illogical. It could not be explained. It was crazy.

Chris Mathews: 03:39 I’m joined now by US Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, a member of the house intelligence committee, who took part in today’s hearings [and others including Cynthia Acksne a former federal prosecutor CM]. Thank you, Congresswoman for coming on tonight. What did you make of the bombshell today that we’ve got a ear witness account now coming from David Holmes, a member the state department posted over in Kev, who heard the president talking about following up when the investigation he wanted done by Zelinsky, the president of Ukraine on Biden?

Rep. Jackie Speier: 04:12 It’s the piling up of more evidence that the president was using his office and hijacking our foreign policy to benefit his campaign for election in 2020. It’s really as Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kent said, unprecedented that a president would do something like this. And it, in my mind, is grounds for calling for bribery. He is a person in his official status who is asking for something of value from another party and then withholding his office and his ability to do something unless he gets what he’s asking for. It’s quite simple,

Chris Mathews: 04:56 Cynthia and everyone else. I want your reaction to getting the notes now that the star witness today, Bill Taylor, the ambassador to the Ukraine actually has a staffer now ready to testify that he overheard the president following up on the deal he struck the extortion he set up with the president of Ukraine, more actual, real direct evidence kind of thing, right?

Cynthia Acksne, Former Federal Prosecutor: 05:17 It’s, it’s a bombshell. And the reason why it’s a bombshell is because it brings, it brings the story away from what’s going on in Ukraine and brings it to Trump. And that’s what needs to happen [because he was on the phone, CM]. Cause he was on the phone because he’s actually involved, he’s physically involved. And one thing that happened today that I thought what needed to happen more was they need to take it away from back, back, back, back, back, email, email, email, whatever, and make it, make it a story. This is, this is what this case is about. It’s about Trump trading American integrity and arms for his own political gain.

Link

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From the NYT’s a link to the Whistle-Blower Complaint.

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 …