Saturday, November 23, 2019

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!


Writing for the New York Times yesterday, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch noted that "the Ukraine scandal now unfolding in congressional impeachment hearings has at its core a Shakespearean twist: President Trump, abetted by his paladins of spin, has trapped himself in an alternate universe. To undermine the well-established fact that Russia corrupted the 2016 vote to help him win, Mr. Trump and his allies have tried to build a fiction that pins those crimes on Ukraine. In so doing, he has confirmed our darkest fears. The president’s bid to solicit foreign help to impugn a domestic political rival in 2019 should wipe away any doubts about his willingness to do the same with Russian help in 2016. Mr. Trump and his enablers-- Rudolph Giuliani foremost among them-- have scrambled all year to do two deeds at once. They want to besmirch Joe Biden, without foundation, for supposedly using his office as vice president to protect his son Hunter, who served until recently on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. And they want to reinvent what happened in 2016 so as to switch the blame for the election meddling from Moscow to Kyiv."

There's may be room to argue that William Barr is the foremost and most toxic of Trump's enablers, but there's no need to quibble at this point. The Wall Street Journal's-- formally Ronald Reagan's-- Peggy Noonan barked-- not without a tinge of regret-- "Look, the case has been made. Almost everything in the impeachment hearings this week fleshed out and backed up the charge that President Trump muscled Ukraine for political gain. The pending question is what precisely the House and its Democratic majority will decide to include in the articles of impeachment, what statutes or standards they will assert the president violated. What was said consistently undermined Mr. Trump’s case, but more deadly was what has never been said. In the two months since Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry was under way and the two weeks since the Intelligence Committee’s public hearings began, no one, even in the White House, has said anything like, 'He wouldn’t do that!' or 'That would be so unlike him.' His best friends know he would do it and it’s exactly like him."

Wisely, Adam Serwer, wants to make sure everyone knows that Trump's crime against America-- his offense-- is abusing his power to stay in office, not disputing Ukraine policy. "Republicans and Trump defenders," he wrote, "have sought to cast the impeachment inquiry as an effort to criminalize a policy dispute. Trump’s attempt to coerce a foreign country to frame a political rival was 'inappropriate, misguided foreign policy,' in the words of the Texas Republican Will Hurd, but he insisted he had 'not heard evidence proving the president committed bribery or extortion.'" But these kinds of weak arguments "obscure the core reason for the impeachment inquiry, which is that the Trump administration was engaged in a conspiracy against American democracy. Fearing that the 2016 election was a fluke in which Trump prevailed only because of a successful Russian hacking and disinformation campaign, and a last-minute intervention on Trump’s behalf by the very national-security state Trump defenders supposedly loathe, Trump and his advisers sought to rig the 2020 election by forcing a foreign country to implicate the then-Democratic front-runner in a crime that did not take place. If the American people could not be trusted to choose Trump on their own, Trump would use his official powers to make the choice for them."
It was, in short, a conspiracy by Trump and his advisers to keep themselves in power, the exact scenario for which the Framers of the Constitution devised the impeachment clause. This scheme was carried out by Trump-appointed officials, and by the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, running a corrupt back channel aimed at, in his words, “meddling in an investigation.” And it came very close to succeeding. As Brian Beutler writes, “Had the whole scheme not come to light in a whistleblower complaint, and Trump not released his hold on aid to Ukraine, we might have awaken [sic] one morning to a blaring CNN exclusive about international corruption allegations against the Democratic presidential frontrunner and his party.”

As the Trump-appointed U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified Wednesday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky “had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it.” And as the U.S. official David Holmes told the House Intelligence Committee, Sondland had told him that Trump was merely concerned about “‘big stuff’ that benefits the president, like the, quote-unquote, ‘Biden investigation’ that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.”

This point is crucial. Trump was not concerned about “corruption” in Ukraine-- his own Pentagon and State Department had certified that Ukraine had taken sufficient steps to root out corruption. Nor was Trump particularly interested in an actual investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden-- what he wanted was a public accusation that he could use to cripple a political rival’s aspirations. Trump was not defying the bipartisan war lobby in an effort to extricate the U.S. from foreign entanglements, and he was not engaged in a dispute over policy with unelected bureaucrats pursuing their own agenda, because he was fundamentally uninterested in the policy in question, except in that it might be exploited to benefit him personally.

Trump saw an opportunity to strong-arm a weaker country into helping him win reelection, he abused his presidential authority to coerce it into doing so, and then he and his advisers sought to hide what they had done in order to maximize the public impact of the conspiracy. This plot, spearheaded by Giuliani, had already drawn credulous coverage from sympathetic reporters, and would likely have succeeded had the anonymous whistle-blower not registered a complaint exposing the scheme on September 9, which forced the Trump administration to release the aid to Ukraine on September 11.

...The impeachment inquiry has revealed the president’s personal corruption, but it has uncovered a more abstract one as well. The broken reputations of weak, conniving men litter the Trump era like corpses on a Civil War battlefield. Each of them believed, as some Trump officials currently do, that the president’s racism and corruption might be bent toward legitimate ends, and each of them has paid the price for his folly.

In only one sense have they succeeded: The president’s economic populism and his promises not to destroy the welfare state have been replaced with the traditional Republican agenda of providing low taxes for the wealthy, and freeing corporations from regulations designed to protect the public from their greed. But as the impeachment inquiry shows, it is Trump who has bent the establishment to his will, turning the party of Lincoln into little more than a subsidiary of the Trump Organization, with no higher purpose than executing the president’s corrupt schemes and shielding him from the potential consequences.

The rest of the country, however, should not lose sight of why the president is being impeached, and it is not because of a good-faith dispute over Ukraine policy. Trump and his advisers conspired to rig the 2020 election on his behalf, scheming to defraud the American people of a free and fair election. A genuine republic cannot survive chief executives who utilize their powers to make anyone who might challenge their authority into a criminal by extorting weaker entities into leveling false charges at their political rivals. Indeed, the republic’s Founders foresaw such a circumstance, and created the impeachment clause as a last resort against it. The high crime that the president has committed is not against Ukraine, but against America.

This may have little meaning to the minority of Americans who have decided that Trump is the only legitimate vessel of popular will, and that the only legitimate election is one that ends with Trump’s victory. But it matters to everyone else.

John Kruse is an M.D., a Ph.D., a neuroscientist, a psychiatrist and the author of the book, Recognizing Adult ADHD: What Donald Trump Can Teach Us About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. With 25 years of psychiatry experience, Dr. Kruse specializes in treating adults with ADHD. Recently he noted that the book by Anonymous, A Warning, describes "wild pronouncements the president had made on Twitter," how he "tunes out intelligence and national security briefings," "is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information," and careens "from one self-inflicted crisis to the next." Kruse delineates 3 signs that Trump has undiagnosed ADHD, which is behind much of his chaotic, confusing, and choleric behavior:
1- Impulsivity: Tweets that compound legal troubles, exacerbate tensions with adversaries, and alienate allies.
2- Inattention: Tuning out information regarding intelligence and security briefings and not learning what the constitution says or means.
3- Hyperactivity: Walking around at summits, debates, and press briefings when others remain seated.

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At 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rather than impeach Trump the US should impeach the Presidency, as it is the power of this office that enables it to be the "Obstructionist in Chief". Every one knows Trump would do, did do it and has set precedent for doing it again. Our so called check on the Presidency relied on the office holder to have inhibitions against the appearance of conflicting interests. That went out the window with Trump saying he did not have to divest his businesses, he does not have to release his tax returns, he does not have to follow congress's spending guidelines to build his wall, he can book rooms for his hotels as national policy, he don't need no stinkN subpoenas and he can pardon anyone regardless of right or wrong. Removing him will not remove the powerful pheromone trail he's laid down for future roaches. That, if you believe the hype, a Russian intelligence facebook mind control operation could somehow persuade a nation to elect him suggest that it's not the person, it'sthe office stupid!

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

Trump is one hell of a psychiatrically ill man. He needs to go ASAP for the benefit of the country and the world before he does incredibly more damage than he has already done - to democracy, to the environment, to all of the departments in the executive branch, etc. etc. The list has become way too long. People have died because of him and are in horrible camps because of him. He is destroying his own branch of government and flipping the bird at another branch, let alone the Constitution. And...he is a TRAITOR by supporting Putin in all efforts against the national security of the USA. Treason, bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors - he has committed them all, slam dunk.

The Americans who still support this man really have something wrong with them. First of all, how could they even LIKE him let alone WORSHIP him when he is "the worst person in the world," as Keith Olbermann used to say. Second, his destruction, deceit and criminality are so OBVIOUS at this point. It is incredible how BAD he really is. This has been thrown in our faces for years and the impeachment hearings have hammered the last nail in his coffin of horrors. Again, what the hell is wrong with these people who support him? I never could understand how the Germans let Hitler come to power and now I see it in action, right here in the USA. The worst reality show on TV, that's for sure.

At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:56, you are absolutely completely correct.

Wanna know how this happened? WE did it.

WE elected a fascist avatar in 1980 over a classic incrementalist, thus starting a revolution that has never abated since.

We've elected a phalanx of southern white fascists to congress as well as even more gutless, corruptible cowards who aide and abet them by their indifference.

We've affirmed the vector ever since. We've allowed the fascists to become Nazis and even elected their fuhrer (thanks to the electoral college and thanks to "Great Society" reforms that turned 10s of millions of southern racists into republicans).

We've rammed both thumbs up our ass as congresses have abrogated their constitutional duties to the executive. We elected those who passed PATRIOT in response to 9/11 which was enabled by a slumbering imbecile in the oval office. We RE-elected an admin who prosecuted a profiteering regime with arbitrary war and was sold to a brain dead public with a months-long media blitz of purified horse-shit.

We lusted for and supported an illegal torture program because we was skeered by them terrorists.. and we liked torturing them.

No war has been declared in the senate since WWII. The office of the prez now has the power of warmaking (since 1950), the power of the purse (since the recent supreme court atrocity), and the privilege of refusing to enforce and to break any and all laws.

Both parties exist for their own perpetuation and growth. Thus neither one gives one flying nanofuck about the constitution nor the sanctity of the congress. The former is toilet paper to them. The latter is just as much their personal mint as each corporation is to its CxOs.

And the office of the president regularly refuses to honor its oath of office because the congresswhores never honor theirs.

The office of the president exists to perpetuate power for its party du jour and its party exists to perpetuate power for its president.

And all of this is because voters in this shithole are just dumber than shit and keep affirming the meme every. single. election.

At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hone, I've been drawing parallels between the evil/idiot voters, political parties and what happened in Germany for decades now.

Nice to see you got there too.

Because we're never supposed to "go there", and because americans tend to be dumber than shit, and because americans are so maleducated as to have no clue about the Nazis in Germany, there are scant few who allow themselves to see the clear parallels.

I always refer them to a quote by Rev. Niemoller. But I doubt that means anything to them either.

At 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"[Trump] is destroying his own branch of government and flipping the bird at another branch, let alone the Constitution."

You forgot one, Hone. Trump accepted a stolen Supremecist Court seat to stuff with the odious Brett Kavanaugh in addition to nominating the incredibly unsuitable Neil Gorsuch. Trump has thus destroyed both the integrity and the acceptability of The Court, which will supply about half of the justice delivered by Roland Freisler.

"The Americans who still support this man really have something wrong with them."

They do indeed, Hone. University of Manitoba Associate Professor Dr. Robert Altemeyer has for many years allowed his definitive work on this topic -The Authoritarians- to be downloaded at no charge. Everything you need to know to answer your questions about MAGAts and the rest of Trump's foul entourage can be found there.


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