Impeachment

How The Country Was Lost – in Retrospect


Reading time – 4:03  .  .  .

It started well before the 2016 election. It started with birtherism.

The formal start of Donald Trump’s campaign began with a vile slur against Mexican people coming to this country. That was the first clear indication of the torrent of hate mongering to come. It continued with his Muslim ban and all his racial, ethnic and religious dog whistles and outright verbal attacks, including his infamous Charlottesville “good people on both sides” slur.

His declaration that we need more immigrants from Norway made it clear that the only people who would be welcome immigrants would be white European Christians. His ongoing marginalization of minority populations powerfully served to divide and even polarize the citizens, which weakened opposition to Trump and continues to this day.

During the 2016 campaign Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged. He attacked the FBI, especially James Comey. Then he praised the FBI when Comey, announced – twice – the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails right before the election. When Trump won the election, oddly enough, the election was no longer rigged.

Not much later Trump resumed his back stabbing of Comey because he wouldn’t pledge fealty to Donald Trump, instead sticking with his oath to protect and defend the Constitution, which included investigating Russian interference in the election. That’s when Trump declared that the FBI was both corrupt and demoralized because of corrupt, weak leadership and resumed his attacks on Comey, eventually firing him and demanding that he be investigated for some imagined wrongdoing. What is significant about all the criticism is the profound effect it had in undermining public confidence in government.

Over the next four years the attacks on government and the undermining of our institutions were constant, including attacks on the press as “fake news,” which had the effect of reducing people’s trust in those who hold public officials – like the President – accountable. He gutted the State Department, brutally criticized “the generals”, fired everyone who showed so much as a raised eyebrow of disagreement and installed Trump loyalists throughout his Cabinet. That many had been lobbyists for the industries they were now to monitor was a plus for Trump and his control.

The undermining of government was powerfully enforced through vitriolic verbal attacks, many scandalous accusations and a continuous tweet storm of rage. His angry supporters, roughly 38% of the population, loved it. His raised middle finger tantrums spoke for them and their sense of betrayal and their disgust with government. It was tolerated by many centrists because of weak, ineffectual opposition.

Republicans were terrified of crossing him because of his verbal attacks and the certainty that they would get “primaried,” the dynamic that prevented his removal from office following his impeachment. This is exactly how a minority wrests power from the majority.

During the impeachment proceedings numerous State Department and military people testified under subpoena, even though Trump had ordered all Executive Branch personnel to refuse to testify as part of his stonewalling of the investigation. His response following the Senate refusal to convict him was to fire all who had testified and even some who had not. That created a powerful deterrent to anyone who might otherwise speak up in the future, giving Trump complete power over them.

Only one more thing was needed to secure absolute power: control of the judiciary and the intelligence community, the departments of government that have the power to investigate him. After that, there would be no impediment left to stop Trump’s assuming total control of the country.

Trump installed William Barr to the post of Attorney General and Barr wasted no time in becoming the personal attorney for Trump, instead of for the nation. Most notably, when the Mueller Report was released to him, Barr quickly said that he had reviewed the entire document and released a summary, in which he claimed that the report exonerated Trump of any wrongdoing, including conspiring with the Russians.

When Barr at last released the report, it was found that he had redacted so much of the Mueller report that many of Barr’s lies about it couldn’t be fact checked immediately. What was checkable was that Mueller specifically did not exonerate Trump, nor clear him of colluding with the Russians. But Barr’s dishonest summary was out for weeks before the complete report was released and that delay controlled the narrative for Trump.

Later, Barr inserted himself into Justice Department investigations with the clear intent to protect Trump’s operatives and attack his opponents. Indeed, Barr instructed federal prosecutors that all new investigations had to get approval from him or his designee, giving himself the power to protect Trump. This is precisely the way all authoritarians operate, using the legitimate mechanisms of government to dismantle its protections against abuse.

The final act of wresting total control came when the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) reported to the appropriate committees of Congress about Russian interference in the 2020 election. Even though the briefings were federally mandated, Trump fired the DNI and replaced him with a completely inexperienced Trump loyalist. In addition, he fired other long serving Intelligence Agency personnel.

With that, Trump effectively had dictatorial control over all of government. That even gave him the power to declare a national emergency and use that to cancel the 2020 election.

And that, in shorthand, is how the country was lost.


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Critical notes for 2020 Democratic candidates who want to get elected:
  1. In order to win the 2020 election, it must be – it must only be – a referendum on Trump. You must attack and continue to attack. You must never stop putting before the public his criminality, his racism, his cruelty (at every opportunity decry his putting children in cages), his attempts to eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions, his sell out of hard working Americans, his neutering of our national security in order to benefit Putin and the rest of his un-American outrages. Say it with me: UN-AMERICAN. Conservative and center-right voters see themselves as bedrock Americans, so this labeling of Trump will drive a wedge between them and the un-American president. Say it again: UN-AMERICAN.
  2. You must stop the circular firing squad. Paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, you must obey the 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Democrat. Don’t do Trump’s work for him. Ever.
  3. Of course the primary election is important, BUT, every word you say in the primary season can and will be used against you in the general election. So, if you want to win the general election – you’re going to hate this –  you must stop promoting far left policies and memes, regardless of how fervently you believe in them. That includes Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, free college tuition, erasing student debt, socialism, calling out to “brothers and sisters” and the rest. Promoting those things will ensure that you only get the votes you already have from your base. You’ll drive away all the other votes that you need in order to win in the general election and Donald Trump will be reelected. Stop pissing off the 78% of the electorate that doesn’t embrace those ideas, because you need their votes in order to win.
  4. Stop your wonkiness about policies altogether. You bore listeners (i.e. voters). Okay, your true believers love it and they cheer wildly and you puff up and ride a high with each cheer. Everyone else has changed the channel. In all debates and speeches, you must make every issue solely a referendum on Trump. Park your wonk on your desk and don’t go back to find it until the general election is over.
  5. Following the Milwaukee DNC convention when you’re the nominee, you must make the election solely a referendum on Trump. Refer to points #1 and #4 above for further clarification.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Two Pieces and a Smidgen More


Reading time – 1:55  .  .  .

I was struck by the juxtaposition of a couple of pieces I reviewed this past week.

Nick Kristoff wrote a disturbing piece in the Sunday Times about a customer with a problem which U.S. Bank had created for him and its shoddy treatment of an employee who helped that customer. Near the end of the piece Kristoff wrote,

“I’ve often noted that companies have enormous capacity to help their communities. But too often they act like American tobacco companies, which killed more people than Stalin did [over 20 million], or pharma companies peddling opioids, or McKinsey & Company advising a business to ‘get more patients on higher doses of opioids,’ or Boeing mocking regulators.”

If you want to know why Millennials aren’t exactly in love with capitalism, those are some good data points. Be clear, though, that this post isn’t about advocating socialism. It is about advocating caring.

Before anyone starts vilifying Kristoff or me as tree hugging, lily-liver, crocodile tears, whining liberals, consider that we all care. Some care about their families. Some care about people who have suffered, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Never Again and more. Some care about our country. Some, of course, care only about themselves, which brings us to the other (juxtaposed) piece I reviewed this morning.

The local hospice organization publishes a monthly bulletin and this month it included a couple of quotes.

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”  Albert Schweitzer

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”  George Bernard Shaw

Each of us can be clear regarding what we care about by doing a simple inventory of how we use our time. Where and how we invest our time tells us what we care about.

Applying that reasoning to the political world I cover, it’s clear that many thousands of staffers and volunteers and caucusers in Iowa care deeply about the direction of our country and the nation they will be handing off to their children and grandchildren. That’s true even in the face of the counting mess that was made.

In contrast, with their votes to acquit our cheating, criminal, Constitution flaunting President, our Republican senators made their own statement. They made it plain for all to see that they care about themselves and their short term political future far more than they do about our country and the kind of place their grandchildren will inherit.

If our goal is to produce the most cynical citizens we can, then the likes of U.S. Bank, the American tobacco companies, McKinsey and Boeing are leading the way in exemplary fashion. Yet it’s far more ominous that our own government is America’s best cynicism generator and the most flagrant offender of what we care about.


Here’s the Smidgen More

Do you like horror films? Many do, so to get your freak-out fix, you have to read McKay Coppins’ piece in the March edition of The Atlantic. Actually, it’s a must-read even if you’re not a terror lover, because you care – about democracy. The piece is entitled,

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election

It is frightening in the extreme how easy it is for political operatives and creeps with a laptop to manipulate people and elections. You need to know about this, so settle in with your favorite mug o’ joe and dig into Coppin’s reporting.

Note that I’m reading Rick Wilson’s new book Running Against the Devil. It’s tough love in the extreme for Democrats and for all who want to evict the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Report to follow.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Eulogy


*  *  *  BREAKING NEWS  *  *  *

 

The Senate of the United States has officially declared the Rule of Law to be dead. The declaration of death was ensured by an almost perfect party line vote.* The Secretary of the Senate has recorded the death certificate into the formal Senate historical record so that future generations will know the truth of what was done in order to help them to understand what caused their dire circumstances.

Mourners noted that the succumbing of the Rule of Law to the terminal illness of cowardice had long been predicted because of the absence of what should have been protecting it. Many had suspected rigor mortis at the upper levels of government for quite some time.

In an impressive impersonation of a potted plant, Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, where the final battle for the Rule of Law took place. His black robes gave an air of dignity to the mostly tawdry affair.

Sadly, it was clear from the start that the black robes of the nation’s chief jurist, absent any action on his part to preserve and protect, weren’t up to the task of ensuring that the Rule of Law would endure. The task was made far more difficult by the efforts of the counsels for the defense to mask truth and even rewrite the Constitution. They went so far as to prevent pertinent evidence from being presented and declared that the President is above the law and is officially allowed to do whatever he wants to do. One Republican senator was overheard declaring to colleagues, “We don’ need no stinking laws on the President.”

Said one observer, “The Rule of Law had a long and fine run. It did what it was supposed to do most of the time and it has served us well. It seems, though, that the Senate has decided that we no longer need it and that we should revert to the divine right of kings and dictators. No telling how we’ll adjust to a Kim Jong Un type of autocrat.”

In lieu of flowers, mourners are invited to make contributions to Democratic candidates for the November election. They are further encouraged to secure promises from candidates that, once elected, they will resurrect the Rule of Law and restore it to its proper stature and function in our democracy, should our democracy still exist then.

  • * Note to Mitt Romney: The nation turned its lonely eyes to you, but try as you did, the job of saving the Rule of Law was too big for one man. Nevertheless, we honor you for your integrity and courage to do what is right. Perhaps in some distant future others will hear your call. For now, though, know that millions of Americans stand with you in the face of the threats and hatred thrown at you by people who just don’t understand.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Profiles in Cowardice


Reading time – 3:47  .  .  .

Alan Dershowitz has never seen an opportunity for attention that he didn’t covet. He hasn’t exhausted his reservoir of outrageousness, nor fully plumbed the hollowness of his integrity; however, he may have come close last week.

As a member of Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team, Dershowitz proclaimed the absence of Constitutional guardrails limiting a president, a concept that isn’t just outside the mainstream; it bears no resemblance to the Constitution at all.

Alan Dershowitz told the world that if a president believed that his/her reelection was in the best interests of the country that they could do whatever they wanted to do in order to ensure their reelection – including the soliciting of foreign interference in our electionand it would not be impeachable!

Apparently, in DershowitzLand there aren’t any limits on what presidents can do, so perhaps they really could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not be subject to prosecution or impeachment.

This is the same nonsense as Richard Nixon telling David Frost, “Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” That’s Kim Jong Un murdering anyone he’s a little cross with today. That’s Vladimir Putin killing political rivals in Red Square. And Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Slobodan Milošević, Josef Stalin and all the other murderous, genocidal, ethnic cleansing maniacs getting away with what they do because there are no guardrails. That’s Trump saying, “Then, I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”

Dershowitz is telling us that Trump is correct and 53 Republican senators are refusing to say “NO!” If this craziness comes to pass, they will have invited dictatorial brutality into America. Not today and maybe not tomorrow, but not too many tomorrows from now. Can the very despotism that the Founders rebelled against be far away?

I can’t handle the ache it would cause to fully refute Dershowitz’s stupid, idiotic, unpatriotic befouling of the Constitution. The point for now is the cowardice he displays by sucking up to this president with his outlandish behavior.

Professor Dershowitz is not alone in his Constitution demolition efforts. His un-American words were compounded by defense attorney Patrick Philbin’s argument that, “American politicians can accept damaging information on their opponents from a foreign country.” Yes, he’s telling us that it’s okay for foreign governments to contaminate our elections and that America is for sale to the highest bidder.

Patrick Philbin is just as cowardly and just as guilty as Alan Dershowitz in claiming idiotic views of the Constitution that would have gotten them both laughed off the Senate floor just a generation ago. Adam Schiff called this craziness, “The normalization of lawlessness.” Schiff is right.

And let’s recognize what the Republican senators are doing as they sit in quiet cowardice, shooing the Constitution off a cliff with their refusal to acknowledge truth and stand up to this lawless president.

I still can’t get my head wrapped around the fact that there had to be a debate over whether there would be witnesses and documentary evidence presented in this trial. Why was this ever a question? How do these senators manage to look in a mirror, knowing they have sold their souls for a handful of beans?

On the other hand, the beans really are magic. They ward off Trump calling these senators mean names and lets them keep their seats in Congress. Yes, that does mean that for each of them, their seat in Congress is more important to them than democracy and their oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Tough beans for the rest of us.

Of course, this is all about Trump and his base, as exemplified by Rex Huppke’s “humor-ish” piece (that’s what he calls it) in the Chicago Tribune.

“As a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, I demand that Republican senators in charge of the upcoming impeachment trial swiftly acquit the commander in chief before any more truth leaks out.”

“The last thing we need is to see a great president, who we Trump supporters have built up to be an avatar of American strength and decency, get knocked down by stupid things like facts.”

This is supposed to be a caricature of Trump supporters. Clearly, though, our Republican senators are acting as though these are their marching orders.

A minimum of 75% of Americans wanted witnesses and documentary evidence brought before the Senate in Trump’s impeachment trial. 51 senators rejected it.

Q. How could the Senate refuse the wishes of three-quarters of the American people?

A. The same way they refuse the wishes of 92% of the American people who want gun safety legislation.

Add these cowardly senators to Dershowitz and Philbin and we are left with three profiles in cowardice and precious little to protect us from a dictator the Founders feared.

Here’s a clip from the 1984 movie Beverly Hills Cop that illustrates the Republicans’ relationship to facts and reality. Think of Paul Reiser’s character as today’s American people and Eddie Murphy’s character as the Congressional Republicans.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA

 


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

As Smart as Squirrels – v2


Reading time – 3:32  .  .  .

The impeachment trial of Donald Trump continues, even as more revelations arrive almost daily that paint a very dark picture of his actions. Whether witnesses will be called and evidentiary documents will be presented at his impeachment trial remains unknown. Whether he will be convicted and booted from office remains an extreme long shot. Nevertheless, he will leave office either by impeachment, by election this year or, worst case, in 4 more years. That leaves us with what appears to me to be a critical and un-examined issue: the threat of hate group backlash when Trump is removed.

You saw all those angry looking (mostly) men with loaded assault rifles and handguns on the streets in Virginia last weekend. They were carrying their firearms to send a testosterone-fueled, anger-fired message. Perhaps these are the same people who deliver death threats to politicians and pundits who dare to oppose Trump. Perhaps these are the same people who show up at churches and synagogues and movie theaters and outdoor concerts to murder innocent strangers. Perhaps they are a powder keg just waiting for the right stimulus, some perceived wrong, to light their fuse, like Trump’s removal from office.

I want to know someone is thinking about how to handle this situation when it arrives on our doorstep. Better yet, before it arrives on our doorstep. Who in government is forging a strategy to prevent the carnage that these haters have promised, like a new civil war? I want to know what we are doing to interdict post-Trump violence. There aren’t enough security guards in the world to protect all the people in all the churches and synagogues and movie theaters and outdoor concerts.

You and I and everyone else know it’s coming. Maybe there will be a lot of violence; maybe not so much. Regardless, the bad guys have promised violence on our country. We can make a plan to prepare for that every bit as surely as squirrels plan and prepare for the harsh winter they know is on the way.

Squirrels aren’t very bright. Their brains are about the size of a walnut and survival activities are about all they are capable of mastering. Can we do that? Can we master what’s needed for our own survival? Are we as smart as squirrels? I have my doubts.

Sarcasm Corner

With the promise of white supremacist violence on the horizon, this is the right time to express our gratitude, so:

Thanks so much, George W. Bush, for allowing the ban on assault weapons to expire.

Thanks so much to the NRA-funded politicians who refuse to do anything to curb gun violence except mouth pitifully inadequate thoughts and prayers.

Thanks to the Supreme Court for greasing the skids to oblivion by making so much corruption possible, including the gun lobby purchasing of politicians and laws made possible by the Citizens United decision 10 years ago last week.

Really, thanks to all who have made it possible – and even desirable to many – for America to have become a supremely well equipped arsenal of anger. You know who you are.

Who will save us from ourselves?

Last thing  .  .  .

The Trump defense team finished up on Tuesday and honestly, the wrap up by Pat Cipollone was masterful. Most impressive was his playing of a series of videos from the Clinton impeachment, featuring many of today’s House managers and other top Democrats appearing to have argued that Trump’s deeds are not impeachable, exactly the opposite of their earnest pleading today. It was a brilliant job of displaying hypocrisy, just as the recordings shown by Democrats of Lindsay Graham, Alan Dershowitz, Ken Starr and others from the Clinton impeachment days have unmasked their hypocrisy. Great showmanship from both sides. Of course, while all of this was riveting courtroom drama, none of the tearing down of others deals with the substance of the charges against Trump.

As impressive as Cipollone’s videos were, my key takeaway from the entire body of defense work has led me to some questions. I didn’t go to law school so I need help finding answers from someone who did.

  1. Exactly which course in law school trains litigators to create fantastical arguments entirely out of fiction, to mislead and to blatantly lie?
  2. Who schools law students to misrepresent, to turn reality upside down and to say the most outrageously false things they can conjure, telling people not to believe their own eyes?
  3. What is the process they’re taught for selling out their integrity?

Yes, that is a brutal indictment of Trump’s team. That’s how it’s intended.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Put Them in RDP


Reading time – 4:02  .  .  .

We’ve had years of hearing Donald Trump say whatever came into his fraudulent head and many of us are way past shock and indignation. We see that’s just the criminal, disconnected-from-reality way he rolls and it’s become what we expect. But he’s infected pundits and members of Congress who now ignore reality so well and who are so facile with rationalizations that they no longer recognize when they’re just making up crap. Reference: the impeachment trial defense team.

We now have governing by gaslighting and these reality deniers have infected the 38% voting bloc that has adopted their practices. We may soon hear a thundering claim of a flat Earth, a serious proposal for a National Alchemy Act and the burning of witches.

Often we’re slow to figure out that we aren’t dealing with reality. For example, we didn’t do a good a job with the war on drugs. It was based on lies and was heavily weighted against non-white people. Essentially, it was and is a tool of suppression, not unlike any Jim Crow law, giving us the highest rate of incarceration in the world. A consciousness of that hypocrisy has started and at last we’re doing something to bring us back to actual reality. It’s taken half a century for us to recognize the facts.

Now we’re in the midst of the impeachment trial of the Criminal in Chief. The blindingly fast stampede away from actual reality (e.g. promoting the totally debunked Russian propaganda story of Ukrainian interference in our 2016 election) being done by Trump’s supporters is astonishing in its vehemence and audacity. They deny documented actions. At the same time they admit that Trump did those very things, but claim they aren’t impeachable offenses. But really, now, they can’t have it both ways.

They deny Trump’s solicitation of foreign government interference in our upcoming election (read Federalist 68 for an adjustment back to reality – see the pertinent paragraph below), even though his own words and actions show us plainly that’s what he did. Hugh Hewitt, a man who otherwise appears to be conscious, claimed this on Meet The Press last Sunday – watch starting around the 1:00 minute mark for a fine example of departure from reality.

Majority Leader McConnell claimed that the impeachment trial process that he created is the same as the process used in the Bill Clinton impeachment trial (not even close). That and a thousand other distractions, whataboutisms and whining lead us ever further away from actual reality. This is the kind of blatant refusal to acknowledge fact that is poisoning our nation. The more we deny actual reality, the more difficult it will be to fix what we’ve broken and the easier it becomes for people to deny any and all reality.

Countering fantasies with facts to redirect back to what actually happens here on planet Earth is pretty much an exercise in wheel spinning; deniers are immune to logic, so it’s time for us to get tough on this craziness. I propose a War on Reality Denial. Too bad for you, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer.*

It’s time to draft a law making it a felony to knowingly promote false realities. We need a stop-and-interrogate provision. Playing off Donald Trump’s invitation to police officers, it’s okay if perps routinely get roughed up during questioning.

There will be mandatory sentencing to prevent wussy judges from undermining the program. And there will be a 3-strikes rule, just like in the war on drugs and the war on crime. I want to see repeat offenders put away for a long time. And while they are there we won’t provide training or rehabilitation, so that when they are released, recidivism will be their reality. That will let us keep them locked up even longer. And because reality denial offenders are primarily white I want to see these laws disproportionately enforced on them.

Science and education are under attack in this country from many angles, but the overriding issue is the wholesale denial of reality. Let’s put our shoulders to the wheel and move this legislation right past our fact contradicting politicians and send them where they belong: to RDPReality Denial Prison.

One bright spot: Yesterday I was once again a judge in the local middle school science fair. Seventh and eighth grade students proudly strutted their science stuff with a wanton embracing of reality. These kids learn and use the scientific method – you know, factual, testable real world reality. They are our hope.

Useful stuff: Because of what I learned at the science fair, check with me to learn about the best batteries, the fastest seed germination methods and ways to marginally increase memory performance. Also, I can now tell you which colors improve test performance and why a recording of your own voice doesn’t sound like you.  These kids teach me a lot every year.


Resources:

Alexander Hamilton warned us about factional (i.e. partisan) lunacy in impeachment trials in Federalist 65**. Click through for the complete essay. Here’s the pertinent paragraph:

“A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

Have a look here for an interesting take on impeachment from the Harvard Law Review that will open your eyes. It might even poke at a cherished notion or two.

From a recent Lawfare brief:

”  .  .  .  the Founders had a broader conception of bribery than what’s in the criminal code. Their understanding was derived from English law, under which bribery was understood as an officeholder’s abuse of the power of an office to obtain a private benefit rather than for the public interest. This definition not only encompasses Trump’s conduct—it practically defines it.”

*From Federalist 68:

“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter [sic], but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?” [emphasis mine]

Maybe our “originalist” (interpreting the Constitution as the Founders intended) senators could stop denying this reality  .  .  .  ?

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*“Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.” Edward Abbey. Thanks go to MG.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Adjunct Quiz*


Reading time – 3:49  .  .  .

WARNING: SNARK AHEAD

Question 1:

What do you get when you combine the bottomless need for attention of Donald Trump and Alan Dershowitz with the boundary-less conceit and snark of Jay Sekulow, the arrogance and disingenuousness of Pam Bondi, the fanatical, hypocritical self-righteousness of Ken Starr and all of that is paraded on television and before the Senate of the United States of America, where all the senator-jurors have already made up their minds whether they will both recognize and accept Earth-based reality? Important note: Answers containing biologically impossible acts are not allowed.

Question 2:

Where is (the thankfully former) Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) now that we need him in the Senate gallery during the impeachment trial to blurt repeatedly at Trump’s defense team, “YOU LIE!“?

Question 3:

Richard Nixon claimed that, “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” Compare and contrast that with Trump claiming, “The law is on my side, the President can’t have a conflict of interest,” and also that the Constitution gives him, “the right to do anything I want.” Factor into your answer that the Constitution specifically contradicts these statements, that Nixon was forced out of office in disgrace – by Republicans – and that those claims are really stupid. Citing Article II of the Constitution in your answer is mandatory. Extra credit will be given for answers that rhyme.

Question 4:

What is the commonality among these things:

    1. The foreshortened arguments of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, roughly half of which will occur after most Americans are asleep
    2. The pledge under oath of the Majority Leader to be impartial in the impeachment trial, yet he has declared he would be in “total coordination” with the White House?
    3. The refusal of the Senate to have given Merrick Garland a hearing as a nominee to become a justice of the Supreme Court
    4. Hundreds of bills that have passed the house and are now in sloppy stacks on the floor of the Senate Majority Leader’s office.

Earn an extra 5 points each for the use of “turtle,” “Moscow,” and “grim reaper” in your answer.

Question 5:

1. Taking into consideration all federal, state and local courts, in what percentage of trials in the United States are witnesses and/or documentary evidence explicitly and unconditionally prohibited?

2. Taking into consideration all federal, state and local courts, in what percentage of trials in the United States are witnesses and/or documentary evidence produced after prosecution and defense arguments are completed?

Use a No. 2 pencil for both sections of this question and show your work. Winking face and googly eye emojis are allowed.

Question 6:

Of the eight primary Founding Fathers (George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John Jay), which of them would be most horrified by what Donald Trump has done to this nation and most shocked by the cowardice of the members of Congress who have steadfastly refused to hold Trump accountable? Include in your answer appropriate reference to the Founders’ abominable experience with King George III and their justified abhorrence of rule by despot. References in your answer to The Federalist Papers is both allowed and, if appropriately cited, that will be really impressive and cool.

Answer hint: Choose “All of the above.”

Question 7:

What is the date of the general election in 2020? Use of a Google search is permitted for this question.

Question 8:

Extra credit opportunities:

Five points for each criminal offense you can list which Donald Trump has committed since starting his campaign for the presidency

Ten points for each Constitutional violation you can name that Trump has committed

Fifteen points for each purple state senator you can name who is up for reelection this November and right now is scared out of his/her skin because they are facing the possibility of having to get a real job in 2021

If you do an excellent job with this question it is possible to achieve a score greater than 100%. Pat yourself on the back.

The first person to answer all questions correctly will have a gold sticker of his/her likeness placed on the title page of all copies of the Constitution to be printed in the future. Further, following Trump’s eviction from the White House, the winner will be given a seat in the gallery at Trump’s first money laundering and fraud trial, plus a Whoopee Cushion imprinted with the words “BIG SUCK” to put on Mitch McConnell’s chair.

All persons who are at least 18 years of age and a citizen of the United States are required to take and pass this adjunct quiz and vote on Election Day, November 3, 2020. Oops – I gave away the answer to Question 7. All participants will receive a red, white and blue “I voted” sticker and the thanks of a grateful nation.

WARNING: If you fail to participate in this adjunct quiz and, most important, its associated election, there may not be another election.


*Adjunct quiz:
  1. a test added to the main and most important event
  2. an examination intended as an orienting supplement
  3. a “Hey, wake up!” message
  4. having a little fun with dopes and babies

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Eliot Ness, We Need You Now


Reading time – 2:55  .  .  .

Regular readers of these posts will recognize that I have long wondered why otherwise fully functional adults possessing a clear sense of right and wrong could tolerate, much less support and promote the obvious law breaking, wrongdoing and un-Constitutional actions of Donald Trump. Of course, some may simply be true believers. But the results of my research, often expressed in these pages (here for example), have suggested a more likely explanation for the behavior of most of these people.

Were an elected official to oppose Trump in any way, two bad  things would happen:

  1. They would be vilified mercilessly on Twitter and at every Trump speaking opportunity;
  2. Trump would enthusiastically support their primary opponent in the next election;

and they would lose their job. We’ve seen this happen.

That’s a strong witch’s brew to inhibit discouraging words and votes against Trump; however, this brew is far more toxic than I had imagined, because there is a third and far more dangerous ingredient.

A most compelling essay was posted by Frank Rich in the January 6 edition of New York Magazine entitled What Will Happen To the Trump Toadies? It is focused on the likely future of Trump’s lickspittle enablers by drawing parallels both to Richard Nixon’s suck-ups and cronies and to Vichy France collaborators with the Nazis. The piece is long and detailed and a great article. It’s well worth your time and focus.

Appending that essay is a short interview of Never-Trumper, Republican strategist Rick Wilson. He speaks to the fact that many in Congress secretly despise Trump, reporting on one, saying,

“Right after Trump was elected, there were a lot of guys who had this shocking moment. A friend of mine, a member of Congress, went home to a town-hall meeting, and a guy asks him, ‘Are you going to be with Mr. Trump 100 percent of the time?’ And he goes, ‘Well, look, I support Donald Trump and I want to help him, and we agree on many things. But I represent this district. If there’s something the president wants to do and it’s good for us, we’re absolutely going to do it. If it’s something that’s bad for our district, I’m going to oppose it.'”

By the time he left the stage, his wife had death threats. His kids had death threats [emphasis mine]. Because he wouldn’t say, ‘I’ll be with Trump no matter what.’ He called me two days later, and he said, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ Eventually he goes, ‘I’m going to keep my seat.’ He still privately bitches and moans, but he’s still in Congress.

If threats of death and violence like this are common – and this event is unlikely a one-off – then that is the third and most powerful reason Republicans won’t stand and be counted. Survival of self and family is too powerful a driver for them to overcome in order for them to do what they know to be the right thing.

What that means is that thugs – Trump’s “good people on both sides” – have taken control of our country. The Brown Shirts are enforcing Trump’s power and he and they have effectively dissolved the Senate.

In the face of that, imagine evidence overwhelmingly damning of Trump (it exists) being presented at his impeachment trial. Imagine further that it creates a huge public outcry for removal. What are the chances that 67 senators would vote to boot Trump from office?

We desperately need a 2020 version of Eliot Ness right now.

————————————


Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Trump’s Folly v2.0


Reading time – 2:37  .  .  .

In the chaos of Trump’s attempt to instigate war with Iran, we’re left with contradictions and confusion. Trump and his people continue to offer crazy non-justifications for the assassinations and they further spin mayhem.

For example, a Marine Corps. General wrote a letter to the Iraqi government declaring our upcoming exit from that country. Then the Trump mouthpieces and the Pentagon unwound that. They just can’t get their story straight. Pundits have repeatedly declared that the Trump administration doesn’t have its act together. I think that’s wrong.

I think an act is all they have together. It’s international bumbling by treating foreign relations as a reality TV show. It’s everything as a transaction and never having a strategy or clarity about lasting goals. It’s vacuous chest thumping and braying of non-truth as though just saying something would make it so. That act is all they have and they have that together all the time.

It’s substance that they don’t have together. Every day they show the world that they aren’t even close to a path of substance. It’s pretending to be powerful instead of actually being powerful.

Trump instigated tit-for-tat attacks on Iran. Iran said they wouldn’t pursue more strikes if the U.S. did not retaliate for their ballistic missile attacks, which harmed nobody and damaged nothing. That’s Iran dictating terms to Mr. Tough Guy, who always has to hit back harder and hit last. Trump can’t allow himself to appear to be controlled by Iran, so he made an address that was as bellicose as possible and made it sound like Iran had caved. He repeated several lies about President Obama, too, most notably claiming Obama give Iran the money to build a bomb.

As is Trump’s standard, he performed self-puffery and generally tried to sound like the meanest S.O.B. in town. He even jammed the stage with military people wearing all their medals. It was a very Tough Guy visual. But not even Congress is convinced this was anything but a brainless episode, even after a long overdue briefing.

In fact, Mike Lee (R-UT) called it the worst military briefing he had heard in 9 years. He was greatly and appropriately offended over being told not to debate or question the administration’s handling of Iran. Even Rand Paul (R-KY) ripped the briefing. It was reported that when the questions became difficult, the briefers walked out.

So, we still don’t have justification for the assassination of Suleimani – nobody does – other than that he was a bad guy. We’ve known that for decades and took no action against him for obvious reasons. Why was it necessary to do such a provocative thing just now?

The timing  can be explained by Trump needing to distract from his impeachment. This whole thing is a Trumpian bag of self-serving lunacy. And there might be even more to it.

Vladimir Putin just happens to be in the middle-east right now. This is the perfect time for him to step in and be the peacemaker, the statesman. That will solidify Russia’s power and influence in the region and will essentially eliminate America’s.

The tail is now fully wagging the dog and we ask again, why does everything lead back to Putin?


PS – This morning Joe Scarborough went off on Trump over his taking off 1 of every 3 days during his presidency to play golf at his resorts at taxpayer expense and promoting his properties in the process. Would that such a topic were what’s most important now .  .  .

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA

 


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Trump’s Folly


Reading time – 3:23  .  .  .

With impeachment on his doorstep driving further mental instability, Trump needs a new and powerful distraction. That’s paired with his need to appear to be the always-wins tough guy. That’s a very dangerous combination.

I have warned about Trump doing a “wag the dog” (here, here, here and elsewhere) in order to help ensure his reelection. After all, there’s nothing like war to get Americans to forget about a current scandal and to line up in support of a leader, regardless of how wrong-headed he is. Think: George W. Bush and his war in Iraq. And his war in Afghanistan, where the goal posts kept getting moved further away.

Now in a major act of chest thumping, Trump has assassinated Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani and killed others, too. These aren’t just acts of war, but are face slaps to the Iranians as well, and Iran is vowing retaliation. When they act, Trump is sure to hit back harder and draw us ever deeper into a prolonged conflict.

Recall the Powell Doctrine, forged from lessons learned from the pain of the war in Vietnam. According to Secretary (formerly General) Colin Powell, all of these questions must be answered in the affirmative before military action is taken:

  1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
  2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
  3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
  4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
  5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
  6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
  7. Is the action supported by the American people?
  8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

Decide for yourself if you think we have eight YES answers for dealing with Iran by using our military power. I count only one.

Don’t imagine that this conflict with Iran won’t eventually include the use of nuclear weapons, because Trump has threatened to use them repeatedly. He will claim that nukes are required in order to stop Iran from building its own nuclear bombs. These are the very bombs Iran was not building before Trump pulled the U.S. out of the JCPOA (the “Iran nuclear deal”) and the very ones Iran has vowed to resume building now that we’ve killed Suleimani. He will tell us that Iran plans to use their nuclear bombs on New York and in the “heartland” or some other allusion to Trump country.

After we nuke Iran, you don’t suppose that Iranian survivors will want revenge, do you? Or that they would use a bomb on us if they had one?  Or that we might become the world’s most reviled nation?

Meanwhile, in the face of the Suleimani assassination and the conflict escalation it promises, Congress has yet again fallen pitifully into its standard partisan divide that is self-neutering. There is no bi-partisan movement to re-assert Congressional control of war making and stop executive branch overreach. There is no adult in the aggregate of the Capitol building.

He was always an extreme bad guy, but there were solid reasons why neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama assassinated Suleimani. Those facts haven’t changed, but Trump, in his standard transactional behavior, pulled the trigger. Having done that won’t stop or even slow any planned attacks by Iranian surrogates, because if these plans exist, they’re already in progress. Neither will it interfere with Iranian military hierarchy, as Suleimani was replaced within a day. What it has done is to change the focus in this country from impeachment to hostilities in the middle-east. Wag the dog.

There are millions of Americans, especially Evangelicals, looking forward to Armageddon. Trump’s wag the dog folly could get them there – and all the rest of us, too.

————————————


Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA

 


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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