Categories
politics

Senators Who Are Up For Re-Election in 2020

Lake Michigan at Dusk, number 713

Since I looked this up, here is the list of Senators who are running for election in 2020. I would suggest that the ones who voted against witnesses in the Trump* trial should not win their re-election, unfortunately, some will anyway.

  • Alabama – Doug Jones – voted for witnesses, but who knows if he’ll win again in deeply conservative Alabama
  • Alaska – Dan Sullivan – voted no, sadly will probably win re-election
  • Arizona (special) – Martha McSally – voted no, of course, and should lose her election because of it and other reasons
  • Arkansas – Tom Cotton – voted no, sadly will probably win re-election 
  • Colorado – Cory Gardner, voted no, should lose because of his moral cowardice
  • Delaware – Chris Coons – voted yes, should win in a Democratic plurality state
  • Georgia –David Perdue – voted no, sadly will probably win re-election 
  • Georgia (special) –Kelly Loeffler – voted no, sadly will probably win re-election 
  • Idaho – Jim Risch -voted no, sadly will probably win re-election 
  • Illinois –Dick Durbin – voted yes, should win re-election handily as he’s fairly popular in Illinois
  • Iowa – Joni Ernst – voted no, should lose for being a tool of Putin, but Iowa is a toss-up so who knows 
  • Kansas – Pat Roberts (retiring) -voted no, because he has no moral courage. Not sure who wins to replace Roberts, the universe sure hopes it isn’t Kris Kobach. Doubtful this seat flips, but maybe? 
  • Kentucky – Mitch McConnell -voted no, sadly will probably win, but it will be closer than usual for Moscow Mitch.
  • Louisiana  – Bill Cassidy – voted no, sadly will probably win re-election 
  • Maine – Susan Collins – voted yes, but is not popular in Maine and could very well lose which would cause much rejoicing across the country.
  • Massachusetts – Ed Markey – voted yes, should win easily
  • Michigan –Gary Peters – voted yes, and probably will win, but it will be close
  • Minnesota – Tina Smith – voted yes, and might squeak out a win in Al Franken’s old seat
  • Mississippi –Cindy Hyde-Smith – voted no, sadly will probably win re-election in deeply conservative Mississippi 
  • Montana – Steve Daines -voted no, sadly will probably win re-election 
  • Nebraska – Ben Sasse – voted no, sadly will probably win re-election despite having no moral courage
  • New Hampshire – Jeanne Shaheen – voted yes, will probably win re-election
  • New Jersey – Cory Booker – voted yes, will probably win easily. Did you know he is a vegan?
  • New Mexico – Tom Udall (retiring) – voted yes, but will the seat flip? Depends who wins the primary I suppose
  • North Carolina – Thom Tillis – voted no, could very well lose because of it, but it’s currently a toss-up 
  • Oklahoma – Jim Inhofe – voted no, sadly will probably win re-election. Should really move to Yemen or somewhere not America.
  • Oregon – Jeff Merkley – voted yes, should win easily
  • Rhode Island – Jack Reed – voted yes, should win easily
  • South Carolina – Lindsey Graham – voted no, of course, and is in real trouble. I’d be embarrassed to be represented by such a sycophant if I lived in South Carolina
  • South Dakota – Mike Rounds – voted no, sadly will probably win re-election 
  • Tennessee – Lamar Alexander (retiring) – voted no, even though said Trump* was probably guilty. No moral courage, in contrast to his mentor Howard Baker. Will the state flip? Probably not. 
  • Texas – John Cornyn – voted no, and as much as I hate to say it, will probably win because of rural Texans and voter suppression etc.
  • Virginia – Mark Warner – voted yes, should win re-election, though it could be close
  • West Virginia – Shelley Moore Capito – voted no, sadly will probably win re-election 
  • Wyoming –Mike Enzi (retiring) – voted no, sadly will be replaced by a similarly morally bankrupt Republican. 

Remembering That Imperfect Memory

Too early to game it out with certainty, but it is possible that Moscow Mitch will no longer be Senate Majority Leader in 2021, and the nation will collectively heave a sigh of relief

Categories
politics Quotables

Trump Is Unfit and So Are Republicans

Whipped Into A Frenzy

What a topsy-turvy world we live in, in recent months, I frequently read and agree with Jennifer Rubin, of The Washington Post, a sentence unthinkable before Trump* became Resident of the White House. 

First, her succinct summary of the Democratic teams presentation:

House impeachment managers have demonstrated through a painstaking presentation of facts and law that: 1) President Trump wanted a foreign government to help him win reelection by announcing an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden; 2) there was no legitimate basis for such an investigation into the Bidens or the Crowdstrike conspiracy, as his own advisers admit, but served only Trump’s egotistical and political interests; 3) Trump ordered military aid held up in violation of law in an effort to pressure Ukraine and to the detriment of United States’ foreign policy; 4) His own officials knew this was wrong and began a coverup (e.g., moving the July transcript to a classified server); and 5) Trump refused to cooperate with the impeachment proceedings in any way, instructing administration officials to refuse to respond to any subpoenas without asserting executive privilege.

(click here to continue reading The honest Trump defense that is too embarrassing for Republicans to advance – The Washington Post.)

Mr Trump I Want Your Tax Returns

And then this:

There is actually an obvious and possibly accurate defense that no Republican senator dare advance. It goes like this: The president has never understood that there is a difference between his political/personal interests and national security. Trump has a narcissistic personality so he cannot intentionally betray the country for his own benefit because he thinks they are one and the same. He is also highly ignorant and malleable, so he will believe any illogical conspiracy theory that Russian President Vladimir Putin advances and/or that serves his interests. No matter how many times he was told that Ukraine did not interfere with our election, or that aid to Ukraine was in the United States’ interest, or that he could not stop aid in violation of law, he could not mentally process such information. He believed that advisers who told him such things were weak or out to get him. In other words, Trump is so mentally and emotionally defective, he cannot understand the import of his actions or concepts such as right vs. wrong, true vs. false and personal vs. national interests. As for obstruction, his lawyer told him to refuse to give up anything, so he simply took that advice.

That might all be true. But, of course, it also posits that Trump is entirely unfit to carry out his job and lacks the capacity to adhere to an oath that requires him to put the nation’s interests above his own. It would mean Republicans are keeping in power and urging the reelection of a dangerous, unfit and deeply damaged personality because they are afraid of him or afraid of his base, which has imbibed the lies perpetrated by right-wing media.

Trump is only part of the current crisis, the other, deeper issue is that the Republican Party is filled with people who basically agree with nearly every action and word that Trump utters. They are not leaders, they cower at the thought of Trump sending a few grammatically challenged tweets in their direction. 

The really depressing thing about the whole impeachment fiasco is that while the Democrats make a logical, detailed case that not impeaching Trump means the end of our Constitutional Democracy, the Republicans shrug, knowing they will vote to acquit anyway. Goodbye America, in other words.

Categories
Film politics

Adam Schiff And Narrative Strategy

Someone mentioned that Representative Adam Schiff has a side gig as a screenwriter.

Back in 2018, Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker wrote a nice profile of Adam Schiff, which includes this:

Schiff mostly sticks to business with his staffers, but they all know that he was a movie buff long before he became the congressman from Hollywood. (Several years ago, his holiday gift to each staffer was a DVD of “The Big Lebowski,” which Schiff often quotes.) It’s less known that, like many lawyers in Los Angeles, Schiff has been writing screenplays on the side for years, which together amount to a kind of autobiography. “The first was a post-Holocaust story called ‘Remnant.’ ” As Schiff recalled, “I had an agent at William Morris tell me it was good but no one would want to see it—too depressing. Then ‘Schindler’s List’ came out, and I was, like, ‘Come on!’ ” His next, written when he was a prosecutor, was a murder mystery called “Minotaur.” “I had a friend who was a producer, and he said there were two answers in Hollywood—‘Yes,’ and ‘Here’s a check.’ I was getting lots of yeses.” But perhaps there is hope for his third. “It’s a spy drama,” he said. “That one is a work in progress.”

(click here to continue reading Adam Schiff’s Plans to Obliterate Trump’s Red Line | The New Yorker.)

So no wonder his closing argument yesterday was so eloquent. He’s molding the Democratic impeachment case as if it was a narrative, using his skills as a screenwriter. It makes perfect sense.

If you didn’t see the whole impeachment saga yesterday, at least watch nine minutes of Adam Schiff’s closing argument

Congressman Adam Schiff: “We believe we will have made the case overwhelmingly of the President’s guilt. He has done what he’s charged with… but I want to address one other thing tonight. Okay he’s guilty, does he really need to be removed?”

Full video here: https://cs.pn/2tA32nD

Categories
politics

First Day of Trump Impeachment

Trump Pinatas in The Mission District

Despite my misgivings, I ended up watching about four hours of yesterday’s impeachment procedurals, on CNN, MSNBC, and eventually CSPAN1

Dan Froomkin of Press Watch reports:

The first real day of the impeachment trial of Donald Trump was an epic exercise in raw political power. The Trump team, effectively led by Mitch McConnell, put forth no plausible arguments to support their position. But they didn’t have to. Because they had the votes.

But the media failed to tell that story.

If you were dependent on the coverage from our biggest and most influential media outlets, what you learned was mostly that there was a spirited debate and that McConnell made a concession.

And that’s just plain wrong. The debate wasn’t spirited, it was wildly unbalanced, with the Democrats making a substantial case for evidence-gathering, bolstered by facts, legal analysis, precedent, and logic – and the Republicans batting around Fox-News-style talking points that were devoid of reasoned thinking.

And McConnell’s concession was, in the greater scheme of things, a minor one. He succeeded – effortlessly – in ramming through a procedure that almost guarantees that the impeachment trial will not be encumbered by fact-finding.

(click here to continue reading Big Journalism completely fails to impart the Big Picture | Press Watch.)

It was striking to watch, and obvious that the Trump team of Republican blowhards had nothing substantial to say. A sad day for our country, putting the GOP’s Party Over Country mantra on display.

Pumpkin Boy He’s Got Seeds For Brains

Susan Glasser, The New Yorker:

It was only a couple hours into the first day of arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of Donald John Trump when Adam Schiff, the lead House manager prosecuting the case, summed up the day’s proceedings. The Senate’s proposed process for the trial, he said, was simply “ass-backwards,” requiring the House to present its case before considering whether to call witnesses and demand White House documents that Trump has been withholding.

Schiff’s edgy remark caused a jolt in the chamber. Senators who had been nodding off or staring down at their legal pads suddenly looked up. But it turns out that you can swear like that on the Senate floor. Schiff wasn’t even the first person to use the phrase, although David Vitter, the former senator from Louisiana, got in trouble back in 2008 when he did, and he had the remark stricken from the official record. Whether or not it was appropriate, in a stodgy institution that does not even allow reporters to wear denim in its hallowed chamber, Schiff’s remark certainly was incisive and to the point.

Ever since the Trump impeachment inquiry began, in September, the White House has declined to offer a formal defense, if one excludes all-caps tweets from the accused. But refusing to participate is no longer an option now that the Senate trial is actually happening. Trump’s lawyers not only showed up but very much showed their hands, offering a defense of Trump that was very much like the President himself: loud, intemperate, personally nasty, ad hominem, factually challenged, and often not even bothering to have a tenuous connection to the case at all. When the White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, addressed the Senate, the volume went up in the chamber; the tone changed. As we watched from the press gallery, it was as if we had become the audience in an entirely different play. Why should there be no witnesses or documents produced in the trial? Listening to Cipollone and Sekulow, it was hard to tell.

They barely used the word “Ukraine” or even bothered to talk much about Trump’s “perfect” phone call with the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, for that matter. They mentioned the Mueller investigation—repeatedly—though that is not a subject of the impeachment articles. They made false claims, including that Republicans had been excluded from the depositions in the House “basement” that were taken by the House Intelligence Committee. Cipollone attacked Schiff by name, in personal terms, within a minute of beginning his first remarks at the trial, which was striking, if not entirely surprising, given that Cipollone is representing Trump, whose campaign is currently marketing on its Web site thirty-four-dollar T-shirts mocking Schiff as a “Pencil-Neck.”

(click here to continue reading “Ass-Backwards” and (So Far) Witness-Free, Trump’s Senate Impeachment Trial Begins | The New Yorker.)

 Get Out Trump

Doyle McManus, LA Times:

 In the impeachment trial of President Trump, the House Democrats — the prosecution — are mostly pounding the facts. The heart of their brief is a well-told narrative of Trump’s efforts to muscle Ukraine into investigating Democratic rival Joe Biden, and then to cover up the details once the scheme was discovered.

Their central charge is that Trump abused the power of the presidency by asking a foreign government to help him win reelection. There’s plenty of evidence on their side.

The president’s defense lawyers, in contrast, are mostly pounding the law — their own theory of the law, that is.

Their president’s legal brief devotes only 27 pages to contesting the House’s version of the facts. Short version: “The President did nothing wrong.”

Instead, the core of Trump’s argument is a novel interpretation of the law: Whatever the president did, it’s not impeachable.

Asking Ukraine (and later China) to investigate Biden? Not impeachable. Blocking $391 million in military aid to Ukraine despite a law requiring that the aid be released? Not impeachable. Ordering everyone in his administration to refuse to cooperate with congressional investigations? Not impeachable.

Under the Trump defense team’s argument, “the president is free to conduct all manner of hypothetical abuses of the office that are not criminal in nature,” Paul Rosenzweig, a former assistant to Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Clinton, told me.

“As I read President Trump’s theory, if he promised to pardon anybody who murdered Joe Biden, that would not itself be an impeachable offense,” Rosenzweig said. “The theory would mean that the president could choose to never appoint any Roman Catholics, and be free from fear of removal from office.”

Moreover, the concept of using impeachment to protect against a president’s abuse of power isn’t “newly invented” — far from it. Alexander Hamilton, one of the delegates at the constitutional convention, wrote in 1788 that impeachment would be a response to “the abuse or violation of some public trust.”

(click here to continue reading Column: Impeachment primer: If you have the law, pound the law. If you don’t, pound the table – Los Angeles Times.)

Impeach Trump

Footnotes:
  1. which my cable provider still provides in standard definition, not high definition, but since I was mostly listening, the blurry picture didn’t bother me, much []
Categories
politics

Report: Trump Cited Impeachment Pressure to Kill Soleimani

Impeachment of the President - Ticket

Jonathan Chait reports:

Deep inside a long, detailed Wall Street Journal report about President Trump’s foreign policy advisers is an explosive nugget: “Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, associates said.” This is a slightly stronger iteration of a fact the New York Times reported three days ago, to wit, “pointed out to one person who spoke to him on the phone last week that he had been pressured to take a harder line on Iran by some Republican senators whose support he needs now more than ever amid an impeachment battle.”

This would not mean Trump ordered the strike entirely, or even primarily, in order to placate Senate Republicans. But it does constitute an admission that domestic political considerations influenced his decision. That would, of course, constitute a grave dereliction of duty. Trump is so cynical he wouldn’t even recognize that making foreign policy decisions influenced by impeachment is the kind of thing he shouldn’t say out loud. Of course, using his foreign policy authority for domestic political gain is the offense Trump is being impeached for. It would be characteristically Trumpian to compound the offense as part of his efforts to avoid accountability for it.

(click here to continue reading Report: Trump Cited Impeachment Pressure to Kill Soleimani.)

Based on a Wall Street Journal report (multiple bylines: Michael C. Bender, Michael R. Gordon, Gordon Lubold and Warren P. Strobel) , and not corroborated, yet, by any other media outlets, but this seems important. Perhaps the House should open hearings into it?

Traitor Go Back To Moscow

Categories
politics

Trump Dismisses 81 House Document Requests. Here’s Where They Went

Sean aka Chawn, Chawn

The New York Times:

Many of the people and entities have already told the Judiciary Committee that they will cooperate, meaning that the panel could soon begin reaping reams of evidence already in the hands of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and federal prosecutors in New York. Others will most likely do so under subpoena in time.

A closer look at Mr. Nadler’s initial 81 targets — a mix of household names and bit players — reveals a web of lines of inquiry and overlapping interests. Here are some of the most noteworthy patterns.

(click here to continue reading Trump Dismisses 81 House Document Requests. Here’s Where They Went. – The New York Times.)

Noted for future reference. Here are the 81 letters. I’m that kind of nerd who will admit publicly that I’ll skim them all.

Categories
government politics

Trump and the Twenty-fifth Amendmendment

 $10 Million for Information Leading to the Impeachment and removal from office of Donald J. Trump

As Donald Trump and his enablers in the Republican party have muddled through the first months of his presidency, more and more journalists and public figures have discussed the option of removal of Trump from office. Impeachment would be one option, but the Republican party doesn’t seem to have the political backbone to begin this. The other option is a triggering of the 25th Amendment of the Constitution.

Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair reported recently:

Several months ago, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation, former chief strategist Steve Bannon told Trump that the risk to his presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the 25th Amendment—the provision by which a majority of the Cabinet can vote to remove the president. When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, “What’s that?” According to a source, Bannon has told people he thinks Trump has only a 30 percent chance of making it the full term.

(click here to continue reading “I Hate Everyone in the White House!”: Trump Seethes as Advisers Fear the President Is “Unraveling” | Vanity Fair.) 

 Dump Googly Eyes Trump

and then followed up with:

 

Bannon’s sense of urgency is being fueled by his belief that Trump’s hold on power is slipping. The collapse of Obamacare repeal, and the dimming chances that tax reform will pass soon—many Trump allies are deeply pessimistic about its prospects—have created the political climate for establishment Republicans to turn on Trump. Two weeks ago, according to a source, Bannon did a spitball analysis of the Cabinet to see which members would remain loyal to Trump in the event the 25th Amendment were invoked, thereby triggering a vote to remove the president from office. Bannon recently told people he’s not sure if Trump would survive such a vote.

 

 Trump - Mother of All Liars

(click here to continue reading “You Can’t Go Any Lower”: Inside the West Wing, Trump Is Apoplectic as Allies Fear Impeachment | Vanity Fair.)

Here is the complete text of the 25th Amendment:

Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office

(click here to continue reading Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution – Wikipedia.)

Trump: Eventually We Will Get Something Done

Whether or not there are enough Cabinet members who might vote to trigger President Pence taking office is an interesting consideration, but bear in mind, for this coup to be successful, per the language of the amendment, two-thirds vote of both Houses is required. If the GOP cannot even handle the Russian investigation without attempting to thwart it, why are they going to vote to remove Trump? Maybe if the Democrats sweep both Houses of Congress in 2018, the equation will change, maybe, but until then, Trump suddenly resigning to spend more time with his Tweets is the country’s best hope.

Categories
politics

Trump and emoluments clause

Pigs must be flying, as I have substantive agreement with reliably tone-deaf conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, specifically about the Emoluments Clause as it applies to the short-fingered vulgarian.

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

(click here to continue reading Title of Nobility Clause – Wikipedia.)

Donald Trump Is A Swine
Donald Trump Is A Swine

As things stand now, President-elect Donald Trump has suggested he will not divest himself of a myriad of businesses around the globe that pose serious conflicts of interest, nor will he liquidate even foreign holdings, the proceeds of which would put him in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.

In an academically sound and federal court brief quality paper, Norman Eisen, Richard Painter and Laurence Tribe conclude:

Careful review of the Emoluments Clause shows that the Clause unquestionably applies to the President of the United States; that it covers an exceptionally broad and diverse range of remunerative relationships (including fair market value transactions that confer profit on a federal officeholder); and that it reaches payments and emoluments from foreign states (including state-owned and state-controlled corporations).

In the context of Trump, they cite multiple sources of foreign revenue that on their face would, the moment Trump is inaugurated, put him in violation of the Constitution. They enumerate multiple instances in which he already improperly blurred private and public conduct. (For example: “Most troubling, Ivanka has participated in several meetings between Mr. Trump and foreign heads of state, including those from Turkey, Argentina, and Japan. Ivanka’s presence at Mr. Trump’s meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is especially striking, since Ivanka is currently in talks with Sanei International (whose largest shareholder is wholly owned by the Japanese government) to close a major and highly lucrative licensing deal.”) They then list multiple holdings that would provide prohibited revenue. (For example: “Trump International Hotel, a major new project in Washington, D.C. and a new hot spot for foreign diplomats”; “the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China—owned by the People’s Republic of China—is the single largest tenant in Trump Tower”; “even as debates rage over American/Russian relations and Russian cyberattacks on U.S. interests and even on the recent presidential election, it has been reported that Russian financiers play a significant (albeit concealed) role in Mr. Trump’s organization.”)

These examples are but the tip of an iceberg of unknowable dimension. They suggest the remarkably wide range of situations in which a foreign power could seek to confer a benefit on Mr. Trump through his private interests. Wholly apart from any actual quid pro quo arrangements or demonstrable bribes or payoffs, the Emoluments Clause will be violated whenever a foreign diplomat stays in a Trump hotel or hosts a reception in one; whenever foreign-owned banks offer loans to Mr. Trump’s businesses or pay rent for office space in his buildings; whenever projects are jump-started or expedited or licensed or otherwise advantaged because Mr. Trump is associated with them; whenever foreign prosecutors and regulators treat a Trump entity favorably; and whenever the Trump Organization makes a profit on a business transaction with any foreign state or foreign owned entity.

(click here to continue reading Trump is on target to violate the Constitution the moment he takes the oath of office – The Washington Post.)

Hog Cholera
Hog Cholera

Lawrence Tribe writes about the walking unconstitutionality of Trump’s pending regime in the Guardian U.K.

Known as the emoluments clause, this provision was designed on the theory that a federal officeholder who receives something of value from a foreign power can be tempted to compromise what the constitution insists be his exclusive loyalty: the best interest of the United States. The clause applies to the president and covers even ordinary, fair market value transactions with foreign states and their agents that result in any profit or benefit. That a hostile government has gotten its money’s worth from our president is obviously no defense to a charge that he has abused his office.

Trump’s continued interest in the Trump Organization and his steady stream of monetary and other benefits from foreign powers put him on a collision course with the emoluments clause. Disentangling every improper influence resulting from special treatment of Trump’s business holdings by foreign states would be impossible. The American people would be condemned to uncertainty, leaving our political discourse rife with accusations of corruption. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that Trump has regularly declined to make his business dealings or tax returns transparent.

Thus a specter of skewed incentives will haunt a Donald Trump presidency.

While much has changed since the constitution was written, certain premises of politics and human nature have held steady. Among them is that private financial interests can subtly sway even the most virtuous leaders. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 22: “One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption.” The framers sought to avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings, writing a broad ban on potentially corrupting foreign influence into article I of our nation’s charter.

By imposing clear limitations, the clause avoids situations in which the American people must search for hints of improperly motivated presidential favoritism toward selected foreign powers, or of foreign attempts to seduce the American president into compromising our national interest for his private profit.

With Trump, this search has already begun. His global business empire creates ideal conditions for ongoing violations of the emoluments clause. Mere weeks before Trump spoke by phone with the president of Taiwan – a dramatic departure from America’s “one China” policy – a businesswoman associated with his conglomerate reportedly arrived in Taiwan to inquire about major new investments in luxury hotels. Trump’s businesses owe hundreds of millions to Deutsche Bank, which is currently negotiating a multibillion-dollar settlement with the US Department of Justice – a settlement that will now be overseen by an attorney general selected by and serving at the pleasure of Trump.

(click here to continue reading Donald Trump will violate the US constitution on inauguration day | Laurence H Tribe | Opinion | The Guardian.)

Let Your Conscious Be Your Guide
Let Your Conscious Be Your Guide

more on this topic from John F. Kowal:

On Friday, the Brookings Institution issued an analysis of an obscure constitutional provision that should concern every American. The paper, by Norman Eisen, Richard Painter and Laurence Tribe, demonstrates persuasively that when the 538 presidential electors meet on Monday to cast their votes for president, electing Donald Trump as almost everyone expects, they will be electing a president whose tangled and mysterious web of business dealings “violate both the spirit and the letter of [a] critical piece of the U.S. Constitution.”

The concern, specifically, arises out of Trump’s many entanglements with foreign governments and leaders. While we don’t know the full extent of these ties, thanks to Trump’s refusal to make his business records (including tax returns) public, what we do know raises grave concerns. As the clock ticks down to Monday’s Electoral College vote, which will actually be 51 separate votes in each state capital plus the District of Columbia, it is still not too late for electors to hold the President-Elect accountable.

The constitutional provision in question is the Emoluments Clause, found in Article I, Section 9. Before its current moment in the spotlight, even most lawyers would be hard pressed to explain its purpose in our constitutional framework. Simply put, the clause prohibits any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust” under the United States government from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign state.” Only explicit consent from Congress can make such actions legal.

The word “emolument” is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “profit or gain from station, office, or employment; reward, remuneration, salary.” As the Brookings paper notes, the framers of our Constitution used the term as “a catch-all for many species of improper remuneration.”

The framers worried a great deal about foreign interference in the American political system. They saw first hand how the great European powers tried to manipulate American officials by giving them gifts and money. Indeed, as Professor Zephyr Teachout explains: “Several provisions of the Constitution were designed assuming that foreign powers would actively try to gain influence.” By strictly insulating our government officials from financial ties to foreign states and leaders, they sought to avoid insidious foreign influence and dual loyalties.

As the Brookings’ authors note: “The Emoluments Clause was forged of their hard-won wisdom. It is no relic of a bygone era, but rather an expression of insight into the nature of the human condition and the preconditions of self-governance.”

The concerns over foreign meddling, viewed through the prism of 1789, don’t seem so far fetched in 2016, despite our evolution from fledgling republic to pre-eminent global power. Indeed, as we continue to collectively process an election in which a rival nation, Russia, flagrantly meddled with the goal of affecting the result, the framers’ concern over foreign entanglements seems more vital than ever.

(click here to continue reading The Electoral College, the Constitution, and Trump’s Conflicts of Interest | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.)

No Accomodations
No Accomodations

and more from Norman Eisen and Richard Painter of The Atlantic:

The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution stemmed from one of the Founders’ core concerns: foreign influence over our nation’s affairs. They worried that their new republic would, like the colonial governments the Americans had overthrown, once again come under the thumb of foreign rulers—if not by force of arms, by artifices of corruption. The term “emolument” comes from the Latin emolumentum, meaning profit or advantage, and emoliri, meaning to bring out by effort.

By 1789, the founders had seen enough of the way foreign rulers corrupted their own officials and those abroad. The British Crown plied elected members of Parliament with stipends and other emoluments intended to induce them to do the King’s bidding rather than serve the people who elected them, while the French King sent expensive gifts—including portraits framed with diamonds—to American officials to curry favor.

Hence the Emoluments Clause, which provides “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” It is the original financial conflict of interest law of the United States, and the only one embodied in the Constitution.

The Emoluments Clause applies to all persons holding an office of trust or profit with the United States government—no exceptions. It applies to the president, the vice president, and the members of Congress. No one is above the law. The founders could have exempted these elected officials in the plain language of the Emoluments Clause, but they did not, and for good reason. It makes little sense to prohibit foreign gifts from going to ambassadors and other officials if their elected bosses could simply accept the same gifts in their stead.

The Framers’ contemporary views illustrate that they clearly intended the clause to have the broadest possible scope. As Virginia debated the adoption of the Constitution, Governor Edmund Randolph made clear that the Emoluments Clause applied to the president when he said (in response to questions about whether term limits were needed for the president):

There is another provision against the danger mentioned by the honorable member, of the president receiving emoluments from foreign powers. If discovered he may be impeached. If he be not impeached he may be displaced at the end of the four years. … He is restrained from receiving any present or emoluments whatever. It is impossible to guard better against corruption.

The Emoluments Clause prohibits the president from accepting anything of value from a foreign government. The clause expressly prohibits both “presents [and] emoluments…of any kind whatever.”

(click here to continue reading Trump Could Be in Violation of the Constitution His First Day in Office – The Atlantic.)

There is more discussion of this topic, of course. But will a toothless, feckless Congress, and a complacent media insist that the Constitution be followed? Or is this the beginning of the end of our republic?

Categories
politics

Impeachment Proceedings

Obama Man
Obama Man Grinning.

This was a parenthetical statement in a troll-baiting OpEd from Peter Schuck

Impeachment proceedings against Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton involved criminal conduct more egregious than Mr. Obama’s policy unilateralism.

(click here to continue reading The Impeachment of Obama on Immigration May Be Legal — But It’s Wrong – NYTimes.com.)

Really? Really? I was never a supporter of Mr. DLC Triangulation, a/k/a Bill Clinton, even going so far as voting for the Green Party candidate1 in 1996, but the whole impeachment travesty over testifying about receiving oral sex from Monica Lewinsky was not equal to Richard Nixon’s criminal conduct. Was there some other criminal conduct besides that perjury? Or just a man trying to keep his blowjobs out of the news media?

As to the more immediate question, will Congress actually impeach Obama? Can they? and should they? Is Obama guilty of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors? What exactly does misdemeanor mean in this context? I guess we’ll see soon enough, as the Republican Party is gearing up to lead the US down the banana republic road…

House Republicans filed a long-threatened lawsuit Friday against the Obama administration over unilateral actions on the health care law that they say are abuses of the president’s executive authority.

The lawsuit — filed against the secretaries of Health and Human Services and the Treasury — focuses on two crucial aspects of the way the administration has put the Affordable Care Act into effect.

The suit accuses the Obama administration of unlawfully postponing a requirement that larger employers offer health coverage to their full-time employees or pay penalties. (Larger companies are defined as those with 50 or more employees.)

House Republicans struggled to find a law firm willing to take their case. Two withdrew, but on Tuesday, Mr. Boehner hired Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University.

(click here to continue reading House G.O.P. Files Lawsuit in Battling Health Law – NYTimes.com.)

Footnotes:
  1. Ralph Nader []
Categories
government politics

Free Congress From Grover Norquist

Interesting discussion from Professor Robert Thurman, attempting to start a meme, questioning why signing Grover Norquist’s pledge to destroy the government is not a subversive, impeachable act. The professor has a point: signing an oath to an unelected organization whose sole purpose is to starve the “beast” of government is akin to signing an oath to violently overthrow the US Constitution. Unpatriotic at the very least, and maybe an impeachable offense. Why should we hire (i.e., elect) people who hate the country so much?

Give a listen to his ten minute speech, what do you think? 

The Oath of office1 reads:

I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Americans For Tax Reforms oath against the interest of the United States Government reads:

I, ________________________, pledge to the taxpayers of the state of _______________________, and to the American people that I will:
ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses;
and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

Footnotes:
  1. full name is United States Uniformed Services Oath of Office []
Categories
Links

Republished at Hubris Isn’t the Half of It

Stop Bitching Start a Revolution

My photo was used to illustrate this post

As our government was making a fraudulent case to attack Iraq in 2002-2003, the MSNBC television network was doing everything it could to help, including booting Phil Donahue and Jeff Cohen off the air.  The Donahue Show was deemed likely to be insufficiently war-boosting and was thus removed 10 years ago next week, and 10 days after the largest antiwar (or anything else) demonstrations in the history of the world, as a preemptive strike against the voices of honest peaceful people. From there, MSNBC proceeded to support the war with mild critiques around the edges, and to white-out the idea of impeachment or accountability.

But now MSNBC has seen its way clear to airing a documentary about the fraudulent case it assisted in, a documentary titled Hubris. This short film (which aired between 9 and 10 p.m. ET Monday night, but with roughly half of those minutes occupied by commercials) pointed out the role of the New York Times in defrauding the public, but not MSNBC’s role.

click here to view: Hubris Isn’t the Half of It

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Categories
politics

The Prosecution of George W Bush for Murder


“The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder” (Vincent Bugliosi)

I picked up a copy of this book, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I should start soon. Funny how the book has been basically ignored by the media, and yet still appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list, even without bulk orders1

Vincent Bugliosi wants George W. Bush prosecuted for murder. There are others who are complicit in the crime, namely the Vice President and Condoleezza Rice, but Bush is the target of this famed former Los Angeles prosecutor (the Charles Manson case) and best selling author (Helter Skelter and The Betrayal of America as two examples). He is undeterred by the virtual major media blackout on interviews and advertising. He’s taking his case directly to the people through alternate media and the internet.

Bugliosi constructs a devastating case in The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. As I write this review, it is still difficult to grasp my sense of shock at this title with this author’s name below it. A legendary prosecutor with a near perfect record in big cases, Bugliosi articulates one of the most revolutionary ideas imaginable in a mix of today’s otherwise vapid and obtuse political thinking. But first, the book and how the prosecutor makes his case.

He wastes no time in following up on the shock generated by the title. In the first sentence, we’re told:

The book you are about to read deals with what I believe to be the most serious crime ever committed in American history – – the president of the nation, George W. Bush, knowingly and deliberately taking this country to war in Iraq under false presences, a war that condemned over 100,000 human beings, including 4,000 American soldiers, to horrific, violent deaths.” (V. Bugliosi, p. 3)

The president “knowingly and deliberately” caused the deaths of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians and that’s called murder, plain and simple. This is not a hypothetical case that could happen under special legal interpretations. When the president leaves office, he is subject to the same law as the rest of us. Bugliosi explains the ability to prosecute the case against George W. Bush by a district attorney or states attorney in any local jurisdiction where a life was lost in the Iraq war. Federal prosecutors also have that option. Bugliosi’s detailed analysis of this phenomenon offers some of the best analysis in the book and the detailed end notes.

[From A review of Bugliosi’s The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder]

George Bush better get his world traveling finished before he leaves office; once 2009 arrives, there might be a few impediments to visiting certain enlightened countries.

Oh, Mr. Bugliosi has a website too, check it out.

Footnotes:
  1. certain right wing organizations bulk purchase, and give away, books they want publicity for. Many bookstores will prominently display a book if it is on the NYT best-seller list. If I was wealthy enough, I’d bulk purchase selected liberal-leaning books []
Categories
politics

Iraq and al-Qaida


“The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism” (Ron Suskind)

Despite what Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi might think1 misleading Congress is an impeachable offense.

Ron Suskind is really good at burying a lede.

Diligent, linear-minded readers will have to ford through 370 pages of his alternately incisive and gauzy book, “The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism,” to reach the accusation that has set the nation’s blogs abuzz. In September 2003, according to Suskind, CIA officials — at the direct command of then-CIA director George Tenet and at the behest of the White House — deliberately forged a backdated letter from Iraqi security chief Tahir Jalil Habbush to Saddam Hussein. The phony letter claimed that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had trained for his mission in Iraq and that al-Qaida had facilitated mysterious shipments from Niger to Iraq. The letter was the “slam dunk” the Bush administration had been seeking so desperately: evidence of a direct operational link between al-Qaida and Saddam’s regime.

Leaked to conservative British journalist Con Coughlin, the letter was made public just as Saddam was captured in his spider hole near Tikrit. In the course of a single news cycle, the war against Saddam had been “vindicated,” Saddam himself had been flushed from hiding, and the Bush administration’s war had seemingly reached its triumphal and foregone conclusion. Or had it?

To further refine the question: Did nobody think it remarkable that an intelligence chief would commit such damning information to paper and then sign it in his own hand?

[snip]

Since then, that narrative has unraveled thread by thread — as has the Habbush letter. That it was a forgery can no longer be doubted; that it originated with the White House may be harder to prove. Two former CIA officials — Rob Richer and John Maguire — have gone on record as saying they were personally charged with carrying out the forgery, but their marching orders, if they existed, came directly from Tenet (who has fiercely denied the story). The closest thing Suskind has to a smoking gun is Richer’s memory, five years later, of “looking down at the creamy White House stationery on which the assignment was written.” But here, too, a skeptic’s antennae begin to quiver: Why would an operation so patently illegal be printed on official stationery? It’s worth placing Richer’s and Maguire’s charges, too, in the context of the often-rancorous relations between White House officials and CIA veterans, who have seen their sphere of influence severely curtailed in post-9/11

[From Louis Bayard reviews “The Way of the World” by Ron Suskind | Salon Books]

Impeach the bastards, haul them in criminal court for the murder of thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis!

Footnotes:
  1. she famously stated “Impeachment is off the table”, and allows no real discussion of the topic []
Categories
politics

Impeachment in Illinois

There has been some calls for impeachment proceedings to remove Governor Blah-blah1 – we hadn’t decided if we supported that or not, even though we think Gov Blah Blah is doing a horrible job. However, the contrast between two news stories published today:

The confusing controversy over Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s decision to give $1 million in state assistance following the Pilgrim Baptist Church fire has a new twist—the founder of the private Chicago school that got the money is contradicting the governor’s statement about what happened.

Blagojevich has maintained that he wanted the money to help the historic church but bureaucratic mistakes sent it to the school.

In her first interview since the controversy over the money erupted this spring, Elmira Mayes, the founder of the family-run Loop Lab School, said Blagojevich personally promised her the money.

Mayes said the governor visited the fire site and talked with her as she was sifting through debris from her burned-out school, which had rented space from the church. She did not recall the governor’s exact words but “he told me he would help build the school and give $1 million.”

Mayes’ account raises fresh questions about the Blagojevich administration’s efforts to clean up their boss’ campaign promise gone awry. Blagojevich has since pledged a second million dollars to the church and ordered a review of whether the state should recover the money given to the school.

[From Governor contradicted on $1 million ‘mistake’ — chicagotribune.com]

and

The stumbling U.S. economy is forcing states to slash spending and cut jobs in order to close a projected $40 billion shortfall in the current fiscal year.

That gap — identified Wednesday in a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures — is more than triple the size of the previous year’s. It is the result of broad economic weakness at the state and local levels that could cause pain throughout this year and into 2010. Sales-tax collections, for example, have been hurt by the housing slump and high gasoline prices, which are prompting cutbacks in consumer spending. Personal income-tax collections have been hit by rising unemployment, while corporate income-tax collections have been eroded by falling profits.

“We expect it to get worse before it gets better,” said Corina Eckl, fiscal-program director of the National Conference of State Legislatures. The conference’s new report describes the shortfalls states face in their budgeting process for the current fiscal year, which began in July.

[From States Slammed by Tax Shortfalls – WSJ.com] [non-WSJ subscribers use this link]

is just too great. Gov Blah Blah squanders cash, can’t explain how or why, and yet Illinois is deeply in the red, cutting various social programs, considering tax increases. I don’t think Gov Blah Blah is even having any fun being governor, he should just resign, move back to Lincoln Park, and become a lobbyist.

Footnotes:
  1. as we call Gov. Rod Blagojevich []
Categories
politics

War Criminals

Frank Rich has been reading Jane Mayer’s new page-turner, The Dark Side, and connects it to both Nixon’s final days, and the futile War in Iraq.

The Final Days” was published in 1976, two years after Nixon abdicated in disgrace. With the Bush presidency, no journalist (or turncoat White House memoirist) is waiting for the corpse to be carted away. The latest and perhaps most chilling example arrives this week from Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, long a relentless journalist on the war-on-terror torture beat. Her book “The Dark Side” connects the dots of her own past reporting and that of her top-tier colleagues (including James Risen and Scott Shane of The New York Times) to portray a White House that, like its prototype, savaged its enemies within almost as ferociously as it did the Constitution.

[From Frank Rich – The Real-Life ‘24’ of Summer 2008 – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com]

[snip]

But are we safe? As Al Qaeda and the Taliban surge this summer, that single question is even more urgent than the moral and legal issues attending torture.

On those larger issues, the evidence is in, merely awaiting adjudication. Mr. Bush’s 2005 proclamation that “we do not torture” was long ago revealed as a lie. Antonio Taguba, the retired major general who investigated detainee abuse for the Army, concluded that “there is no longer any doubt” that “war crimes were committed.” Ms. Mayer uncovered another damning verdict: Red Cross investigators flatly told the C.I.A. last year that America was practicing torture and vulnerable to war-crimes charges.

Top Bush hands are starting to get sweaty about where they left their fingerprints. Scapegoating the rotten apples at the bottom of the military’s barrel may not be a slam-dunk escape route from accountability anymore.

No wonder the former Rumsfeld capo, Douglas Feith, is trying to discredit a damaging interview he gave to the British lawyer Philippe Sands for another recent and essential book on what happened, “Torture Team.” After Mr. Sands previewed his findings in the May issue of Vanity Fair, Mr. Feith protested he had been misquoted — apparently forgetting that Mr. Sands had taped the interview. Mr. Feith and Mr. Sands are scheduled to square off in a House hearing this Tuesday.

So hot is the speculation that war-crimes trials will eventually follow in foreign or international courts that Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, haspublicly advised Mr. Feith, Mr. Addington and Alberto Gonzales, among others, to “never travel outside the U.S., except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel.” But while we wait for the wheels of justice to grind slowly, there are immediate fears to tend. Ms. Mayer’s book helps cement the case that America’s use of torture has betrayed not just American values but our national security, right to the present day.

In her telling, a major incentive for Mr. Cheney’s descent into the dark side was to cover up for the Bush White House’s failure to heed the Qaeda threat in 2001. Jack Cloonan, a special agent for the F.B.I.’s Osama bin Laden unit until 2002, told Ms. Mayer that Sept. 11 was “all preventable.” By March 2000, according to the C.I.A.’s inspector general, “50 or 60 individuals” in the agency knew that two Al Qaeda suspects — soon to be hijackers — were in America. But there was no urgency at the top. Thomas Pickard, the acting F.B.I. director that summer, told Ms. Mayer that when he expressed his fears about the Qaeda threat to Mr. Ashcroft, the attorney general snapped, “I don’t want to hear about that anymore!”

After 9/11, our government emphasized “interrogation over due process,” Ms. Mayer writes, “to pre-empt future attacks before they materialized.” But in reality torture may well be enabling future attacks. This is not just because Abu Ghraib snapshots have been used as recruitment tools by jihadists. No less destructive are the false confessions inevitably elicited from tortured detainees. The avalanche of misinformation since 9/11 has compromised prosecutions, allowed other culprits to escape and sent the American military on wild-goose chases. The coerced “confession” to the murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to take one horrific example, may have been invented to protect the real murderer.

The biggest torture-fueled wild-goose chase, of course, is the war in Iraq. Exhibit A, revisited in “The Dark Side,” is Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an accused Qaeda commander whose torture was outsourced by the C.I.A. to Egypt. His fabricated tales of Saddam’s biological and chemical W.M.D. — and of nonexistent links between Iraq and Al Qaeda — were cited by President Bush in his fateful Oct. 7, 2002, Cincinnati speech ginning up the war and by Mr. Powell in his subsequent United Nations presentation on Iraqi weaponry. Two F.B.I. officials told Ms. Mayer that Mr. al-Libi later explained his lies by saying: “They were killing me. I had to tell them something.”

That “something” was crucial in sending us into the quagmire that, five years later, has empowered Iran and compromised our ability to counter the very terrorists that torture was supposed to thwart. As The Times reported two weeks ago, Iraq has monopolized our military and intelligence resources to the point where we don’t have enough predator drones or expert C.I.A. field agents to survey the tribal areas where terrorists are amassing in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the threat to America from Al Qaeda is “comparable to what it faced on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Seth Jones, a RAND Corporation terrorism expert and Pentagon consultant. The difference between now and then is simply that the base of operations has moved, “roughly the difference from New York to Philadelphia.”

Way to restore dignity to the White House, Generalissimo Bush. And misleading Congress is an impeachable offense, lest we forget in our haste to string up the Bush Administration officials.