manipulation

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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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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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.

Hitting Back


Reading time – 3:12  .  .  .

From the Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. carried out airstrikes against an Iranian-backed Shiite militia group in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon said the strikes targeted three of the Kataib Hezbollah militia’s locations in Iraq and two in Syria, and were in response to an attack on Friday in which more than 30 rockets were fired at an Iraqi military base near Kirkuk. That incident killed a U.S. contractor and wounded four U.S. troops.

We all get that: they hit us, so we hit back. We’ve known that dynamic and that it’s okay since we were little kids. It’s Human Being 101. Everybody thinks themselves an innocent victim and therefore justified in”hitting back.” But when I read that piece I couldn’t help but wonder about the predictability of the consequences and whether there might be better ways.

History consistently shows us that “hit back” behavior frequently leads to escalated “hit back” from the other side. After all, in their eyes their initial hitting wasn’t the beginning, but, rather, a “hit back” for some slight or wrong they believe was visited upon them. We’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends. And we know that it always starts again.

Diplomacy has been our primary tool to avoid violent conflict and it has worked quite well countless times. However, right now we’re a bit limited in what we can do in this realm, as our State Department has been gutted of many of its most senior and capable people by the present administration. That’s compounded by a president who is incapable of thinking strategically and who dismisses anything that isn’t some international version of children fighting on the playground. He’s even played “I dare you” over nuclear weapons. That doesn’t sound like a good way to resolve conflict.

So, we’re hamstrung by the human desire to hit back, the lack of alternative critical resources and a leader whose tool bag contains only the knee-jerk reaction to punch others in the nose harder.

We could hope for Congressional action to limit the administration’s war powers, but that’s unlikely in our present political environment. We can just wait for the election in November and then vote cooler heads to both the White House and to Congress, but they won’t have any power for over a year. That’s a lot of time for a tantrum prone president to cause a lot of violence, this as he’s spurred Iran to crank up its atomic bomb manufacturing and North Korea is set to test its intercontinental ballistic missiles to show the world what tough guys they are.

I don’t think escalating war technology will allow us both to continue “hit back” behavior and to survive. We need some better answers right now.

Finally,

Have a look at what contributing opinion writer Kent Greenfield, writing for the Louisville Courier Journal, has to say about Sen. Mitch McConnell and the upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate. Give consideration to how McConnell’s declarations about that process might impact his re-election and overall control of the Senate in 2021. Bear in mind that McConnell is the manipulator who blocked the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in order to spite President Obama and to bend the court further to the right. That and his present promise to violate his oaths and much more are what has powered McConnell past Ted Cruz to be the country’s most disliked senator. That’s quite an accomplishment.

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NOTES:

  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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

 


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

Trump Wars


Viewing time – 1:36  .  .  .

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

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NOTES:

  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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

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

Cars, Dystopia and Bush


Reading time – 2:21; Viewing time – 3:34  .  .  .

The world of sales is chock full of techniques to get a prospective customer to say yes. For example, there’s the “yes questions” tactic, which consists of asking a series of questions, all of which will be answered “yes,” in order to prepare the prospect to answer yes to the last question, which is, “Can we write that up now?”

Picture a couple with two kids in tow, looking around a new car showroom. Salesman Slick introduces himself and asks,

    • Are you looking for a new car today?
    • Will this be a family vehicle?
    • You’ll want something that gets great gas mileage, right?

You get the idea.

One of the most manipulative of sales schemes is the “scare ’em and save ’em” technique. This scheme starts with painting a horrible future scenario in order to scare the prospect out of their skin. Terrible things will befall them. They need to be saved. That’s when the sales person comes to the rescue with the solution, which includes buying something from that very same sales person.

For example, “Mr. and Mrs. Dingy, of course you don’t want to buy insurance. Who would? But the U.S. Geologic Survey just released its annual report and it shows you right in the center of a new, developing flood plain. It’s just a matter of a little time before your basement begins to flood. You’ve already seen the changing weather patterns, the more violent storms and greatly increased precipitation. I’ll bet you’ll get a couple of feet of flooding when the heavy spring rains begin, and that’s just the start. It’s a good thing I have a most affordable flood insurance plan for you. It’s time, don’t you agree?”

If you don’t think that’s common stuff, watch TV commercials and you’ll find a large percentage of them use the tactic of scaring you, then saving you with their product.

What that has to do with our political life is how often politicians use this tactic to manipulate us and how Donald Trump uses it constantly.

His acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention depicted a darkly dystopian future for America and only he could save us from catastrophe.

His inaugural address was dismal and foreboding. The future according to Trump was going to be awful and he let us know that only he could make the sun shine again. When he finished, George W. Bush turned to Michelle Obama, who was seated beside him, and said, “That was some crazy shit.” He was right.

Trump has worked hard to make us afraid of many more things, like immigrants, Muslims, Democrats, the press, our intelligence agencies and more. He does that all the time. And he recently told us that he is “the chosen one.” He’ll save us from the unwashed hoards, the fake news and the rest. Hitler used the same tactic and the German people bought into his manipulation.

Perhaps you noticed that during the impeachment hearings, both in committees and in the full House debates, Republicans over and over declared how awful things would be, how scheming and dishonest the Democrats are and isn’t it lucky for our nation that the Republicans are there to safeguard against all the harm the Democrats would bring?

Honestly, that was some crazy shit.

I never would have imagined it possible that I would be quoting George W. Bush as a source of wisdom. These are strange times, indeed.

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NOTES:

  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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

Read More…


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

Snow Job – v1


Reading time – 3:10; Viewing time – 4:21 .  .  .

The House Judiciary Committee Republicans used the impeachment proceedings to promote Donald Trump, to denigrate Joe Biden and to smear all Democrats as immoral and hypocritical. And now the Senate is preparing to do an even deeper dive into the Land of Wacko.

Perhaps you thought that the achingly phony outrage over a bad pun using the President’s son’s name was as stupid as things could become. Not so. The Republicans are far more creative than that.

Back in the good old days of the House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings we got to hear from ranking member Devin Nunes (R-CA). I know you remember him from his 2017 midnight ride to the White House, where he was told some blatantly false things he already knew about. The next morning he held a press conference in front of the White House to reveal the false revelations that he had “just learned.” His manipulative, phony bona fides were soundly established in that moment and he has not disappointed since. Nunes behaved during the House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings as you would expect, with phony facts and phony outrage.

Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee Doug Collins (R-GA) did not have a midnight ride moment, but his committee participation was similarly inventive and outrageous. The difference between him and Nunes – and you really need to appreciate this – is the new land speed record set by Collins’ mouth. He spoke in a sleety blizzard of faux outrage, misdirecting claims and denial of reality. He did all of that at light speed in his aw-shucks Georgia accent, making a caricature of himself.

They both claimed witnesses did not say what they actually said. Do they realize that there are video recordings? They claimed that documents don’t say what they actually say. Do they realize that these are written, reviewable records? Clearly, they were all about the effect they can have on voters in the moment of their misdirection and they assumed things would flash by so fast that nobody would check their phony facts. Not so. Read Barbara McQuade’s brilliant analysis of the GOP’s pathetic defenses of Trump.

They railed at the proceedings, claiming over and over that they weren’t fair, yet the proceedings were fair, unless the only way to define fair is that it works for you. It’s like Trump, expecting to lose the 2016 election, so he declared in advance that the election “is rigged.” Then, when he won, suddenly the election wasn’t rigged any more. “Fair” seems to be a pretty malleable thing for Republicans.

Except for some Republican fantasies, the facts of this impeachment are not in question. Indeed, the President has bragged of having committed all of the offenses for which he is being impeached and he’s bragged about committing still more. That leaves Republicans with nothing but the phony stuff demonstrated by Nunes and Collins.

What’s going on is certifiably nuts. It’s all about denying established facts and claiming victim-hood in order to do a snow job on the American people. They have contorted themselves into lap dogs to ensure Trump’s approval.

But why would they compromise their integrity in support of a president who seems focused on tearing down America and benefiting Vladimir Putin? Republicans used to call themselves conservatives, but there’s nothing conservative in what they’re doing.

Here’s what you can do

Link through to the Represent.us video with Michael Douglas to find out how we can deal with our ongoing craziness and, as the Represent.us folks say, “unbreak America.”

And show up for one of the nationwide Nobody is Above The Law gatherings this Tuesday evening. Click on the link and enter your Zip code to find a rally close by.

Finally, if you prefer actual facts over “alternative facts”, here’s an excellent piece of clarity about what’s really going on. Read Sheila Markin’s post. You already know the truth, but she has laid it all out for you in sensible and unsparing terms.

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Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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NOTES:

  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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

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

Mr. Chairman


In the House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee Hearings
Mark Up of Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump,
President of the United States

Chairman Nadler:

The gentleman from Illinois is recognized.

Congressman Altschuler:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I rise to speak to the need for clarity. Specifically, my purpose is to narrow our deliberations to the true issues at hand, such that we do not waste time on those things which do not advance the purpose of this committee. Such diversions do little more than stoke divisions and create confusion for all.

We are all impassioned and seek to have a fulsome discussion; however, enthusiasm has set us on paths that lead us away from the important decisions – over the river and through the woods, as it were – rather than to a considered conclusion. So, first let us name what these proceedings are not about.

These proceedings are not about Watergate or President Richard Nixon. They are not about President Andrew Johnson. They are not about President Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich or Ken Starr. They are not about Vice President Joe Biden, nor are they about Hunter Biden’s personal issues or his business activities. They are not about Robert Mueller or executive privilege. They are not about Burisma or Ukraine or Russia or the 2016 election. They are not about President Zelenski or Lisa Page or Peter Strzok or the FBI. They are not about the impeachment process, nor about its speed or duration. They are not about the fine members of our State Department or four law professors. They are not about Benghazi or Fast and Furious or Hillary Clinton or President Obama. They are not about whether we are all getting along or if we are fighting fair or who can talk the fastest or with the most effrontery or shock. All of these and more have been brought up in these proceedings. All are nothing more than distractions without merit in this deeply important question of the President’s behavior.*

These proceedings are about determining:

    • Whether President Trump attempted to enlist aid for his candidacy in the 2020 election from a foreign power and in the process violated the Constitutional ban on foreign influence in our elections. That’s called abuse of power.
    • Whether President Trump committed obstruction of Congress through his stonewalling of subpoenas and his interference with Executive Branch personnel as witnesses for this committee and for the House Intelligence Committee
    • And whether either of these charges rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors

That’s it. That’s the whole purpose of our being here.

The greatest fear of the Framers was that we might someday come under the rule of a king, like the despot King George III. Those brave men who dared to declare our independence risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to rebel against the rule of kings. They created the process of Impeachment in our Constitution as a preventative to that ever happening here. Impeachment is about holding officials to account so that we never suffer under a king.

I implore our committee members to focus on the real issues, because that is what the Constitution and the Framers charge us with doing. Focusing elsewhere is nothing more than political ploy, obfuscation to enrage others. The grave circumstances in which this nation finds itself demand nothing less than our full concentration on the true issues. So, let’s keep our eyes on the ball, people.

With that, I yield back the remainder of my time, Mr. Chairman.


*All of these topics were named multiple times during the hearings, just as though they were relevant. They were not, they are not and they will not be.

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Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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!

NOTES:

  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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

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

A Stroll Through Impeachment Park


Reading time – 4:21; Viewing time – 6:06  .  .  .

Contrary to his firm, clear declaration, Richard Nixon was a crook. Setting aside allegations that have a dollar sign directly attached to them, he obstructed justice. That’s a crime. He sent thieves into the night to break and enter the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, as well as to rob the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex. Those are crimes.

Nixon committed treason during the 1968 presidential campaign by urging the North Vietnamese not to conclude a peace treaty with the U.S., telling them they’d get a better deal from him if he were elected. That’s a crime.

None of these is about personal offensiveness or the breaking of norms. All of these are crimes. By any definition, Richard Nixon was a crook. And he was just short of certain impeachment and removal from office by the Senate when he resigned his office.

Say what you will about Bill Clinton’s ethics, his moral rectitude, if any, “crook” is hardly useful to describe him.

At the height of Newt Gingrich’s power as Speaker of the House he hired Ken Starr to investigate the Clintons – both of them. Starr’s charge wasn’t to focus on an indication of the commission of a specific crime. Rather, it was a target-of-opportunity witch hunt. He was to find something – anything – to hang around Bill Clinton’s neck.

Starr investigated everything both Clintons had touched, including the Rose law firm in Arkansas, the Whitewater land deal, the death of Vince Foster, various extramarital affairs and more and he found nothing illegal. Nothing. Then Linda Tripp, a confidant of White House intern Monica Lewinsky, called the FBI to disclose Clinton’s sexual relations with the young woman. Clinton’s actions, while perhaps repugnant, weren’t a crime.

Starr hauled Clinton before a grand jury and asked about the affair. Clinton lied, denying it. That was a crime – lying to a grand jury. And shaming Clinton into that was all that Starr could conjure after over four years of digging for dirt. There’s no question about the crime and Clinton was impeached, but the Senate made it clear that this was hardly treason, bribery or a high crime or misdemeanor. Stupid, yes. Worthy of removal from office? Come on.

Now, things are different. Donald Trump is guilty of either extortion or bribery and maybe both. Those are crimes. He is guilty of using funds allocated by Congress to have a foreign power give him support for the 2020 election. That constitutes at least three crimes; one is the withholding of funds directed by Congress; another is abuse of power; yet another is soliciting election help from a foreign government, one of only a handful of specific crimes listed in the Constitution.

By ignoring subpoenas and ordering all from the Executive Branch of government not to testify at the House Intelligence Committee’s hearings. Trump obstructed justice. Then there are his ongoing violations of the emoluments clause in the Constitution. These are all crimes and he’s guilty of them. We know that, not only because of the clear, direct testimony by greatly respected individuals with firsthand knowledge and through documentary evidence, but because Trump has bragged about all of these crimes.

Trump’s malfeasance is far beyond Nixon’s thievery and obstructions of justice and way past Bill Clinton’s lying about his dalliances. Trump is flagrantly guilty of bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors and everyone knows it.

All this has nothing to do with Trump’s distractions, like his continuous lying, his bullying, his violations of governmental, civic and decency norms, his ethics violations or even his dereliction of duty to our national security. For those who have spent the last few years admonishing that we ignore what Trump says and instead focus on what he does, that’s exactly what is happening right now.

The House is going to impeach Trump. It’s the right thing to do if we still believe in the rule of law and in protecting and defending the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

There’s only one question left: Do the Republicans in the Senate have even the small amount of integrity needed to do the right thing? Do they still believe in conservatism? We better hope that at least twenty of them do.

Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. Ronald Reagan avoided responsibility for the Iran-Contra crimes. George W. Bush skated from his having started two illegal wars. If Trump is allowed to walk, our refusal to hold high officials accountable will have been permanently erased. That is why impeachment and removal from office are the right things to do.

Finally,

From pal Allan Shuman on Friday:

November 22, 56 years ago, was also a Friday. That was truly the day that the music died. There was hardly a mention today in any of the media.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated that day and that changed a generation and perhaps the entire world. Cynicism was kindled in Boomers and trust was dealt a terrible blow. We had had belief on November 21st; not so much on the 23rd.

Now Trump’s maniacal need for attention and our national acquiescence to it has stolen even that remembrance from us.

————————————


Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
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NOTES:

  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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

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

What’s At Stake


Reading time – 3:01  .  .  .

We’re a hotly divided country, entrenched in our certainties. Whether we say it or not, we see compromise as a dirty thing.

On the other hand, we all know right from wrong and there isn’t a lot of disagreement about it, once we get past our rationalizations.

The House Intelligence Committee hearings are exposing obvious wrongdoing by Donald Trump. It isn’t just that the witnesses are offering plain-to-see facts of his guilt; Trump famously preened as he bragged about his criminal behavior. So, the hearings aren’t about questions of guilt. Rather, the hearings are about what is truly bedrock in America.

Here is the oath of office to which every member of Congress swore:

I 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.

Note that no person is named, other than the person being sworn in. The members don’t swear allegiance to a king. They don’t swear allegiance to a president. They swear allegiance to the Constitution of the United States. The United States is alone among the nations in this kind of oath and it declares for all to see that we are a nation of laws and not a nation of men.

That concept is being sorely tested in this era of Trump. Clearly, Trump is all about Trump and uses anything and anyone around him for self-aggrandizement. He demands loyalty to him. The test of our time is what or who our members of Congress will protect and defend. What is at stake is the rule of law and the Constitution itself.

If Trump is allowed to get away with his obvious criminal behavior, we will have established a new bedrock for this nation, a bedrock of personality, not of law; of high office for personal benefit, not for the benefit of the nation.

These hearings, then, are about deciding what kind of nation we will be. President Trump has no voice in this. We The People have an indirect voice by telling our members of Congress where we stand, what we want, how we see things. However, only the members of Congress have a vote.

Members of the House have the first vote. They alone will decide whether to impeach the President. The issue is whether the Republican members will look at the facts and vote accordingly, or whether they will cave to political pressure and vote to protect the President. In that way they will decide whether we are a nation of laws or a nation of a man.

If the House impeaches the President, the Senate will decide whether to convict the President such that he will “.  .  .  be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Again, there isn’t a doubt about Trump’s guilt. However, there is grave doubt whether the members of the Senate have the courage to act in accordance with their solemn oath of office. They know and we know the truth. The question will be whether knowing that will be enough to cause them to do the right thing.

Everything – the Constitution and the rule of law and our very republic – depends on what they do.

Surely, our Republican Members of Congress see that Trump is guilty of many offenses and crimes. Right now the issues are extortion, bribery, withholding of funds in violation of the direction of Congress and multiple counts of obstruction of justice. Then there’s witness tampering, campaign finance violations, profiting from the Presidency (emoluments), collusion, advocating political and police violence, abuse of power, persecuting political opponents, violating immigrants’ rights and more.

So, Trump’s unfitness for office and his criminality are plain to see. What holds Republicans back from the obvious right path is fear of backlash from their extreme constituents. So, their choice is to do the right thing, which will require that they dare to lose their position and power, or to destroy the rule of law and sell out our country.

That’s what’s at stake.

————————————

r

Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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!

NOTES:

  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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

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

Unmasking in the Theater


Reading time – 3:33  .  .  .

The House will hold all-hands-on-deck hearings into the impeachment of President Donald Trump. This has been a long time coming, considering all the blatantly illegal and un-Constitutional and un-presidential things he’s done. Indeed, just his refusal to investigate and take action against Russia for interfering in our 2016 election should have been enough to show even Republicans his unsuitability for office and his suitability for being sent away. Alas, that didn’t happen.

It didn’t happen when Robert Mueller submitted his report, which specifically cited ten (TEN!) cases of obstruction of justice perpetrated by Donald Trump. Just get that obstruction of justice is illegal in federal law and in every state, county and municipality in the United States. Still, Trump hasn’t been held to account. Now, though, there’s a chance for that to happen.

There isn’t even a hint of doubt that Trump attempted to get a foreign government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, the political opponent he fears most. That’s a crime. And there isn’t a doubt that he held up money headed to Ukraine, money that was supposed to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion. Trump used that money to extort the president of Ukraine, to get him to “play ball” solely for the political benefit of Donald Trump. Extortion, like soliciting election help from a foreign government, is a crime.

The reason there isn’t a question as to whether Trump did all that is because he bragged that he did it. It was a voluntary confession and a voluntary release of the edited transcript of his phone call with the Ukrainian president that shows him doing it. Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney bragged about Trump’s illegal actions, too. He said that quid-pro-quo extortion is ordinary stuff and that we should all just, “Get over it.”

But, of course, we haven’t gotten over it, because the president soliciting or accepting anything of value from a foreign government IS ILLEGAL! The reason it’s illegal is because doing so corrodes our democracy, undermines our values and invites even worse criminality in the future. And it makes the United States of America subject to pressure from and possible control by foreign governments. The Framers knew that well and it is why they included this prohibition in the Constitution itself.

That’s what makes it so fascinating to watch Republicans twist themselves into pretzels trying to defend this clearly criminal president and his clearly criminal actions.

We have heard infantile “It’s not fair” whining from many Republicans, notably and most recently from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). He whined about how unfair it is that:

    • Trump hasn’t been allowed to present his case. (That’s true. Because what was done by the House Intelligence Committee was neither a court proceeding nor a debate. It was an inquiry seeking information, just as is done by a grand jury.)
    • The House Intelligence Committee hearings were done in closed session. (That’s true, too. That’s how such things have always been done, including when Republicans were digging for dirt – any dirt – on Bill Clinton.)
    • The House has issued more subpoenas than enacted laws. (That’s only true if you take into consideration that the entire stack of bills passed by the House is in a pile in a corner of Mitch McConnell’s office because he won’t bring them to the Senate for a vote. Besides, such numbers have nothing to do with the impeachment inquiry, which makes this objection idiotic.)
    • The Democrats want to kill democracy. (Yes, he said that. It isn’t worthy of further comment.)
  • The Republicans spent the duration of the House Intelligence Committee hearings complaining about the undemocratic secrecy of it all. Hearings should be public, they said. So, a vote was taken last week to hold public hearings in the full House, the very thing Republicans said that we must do. The proposal would give Republicans exactly what they said they wanted, and every Republican voted against it.
  • Republicans know what Democrats, Independents, iron workers, Popsicle peddlers in the parks, CEOs, mill workers, investment bankers, 7-11 attendants and everybody else knows: Donald Trump is a criminal. It’s just that some people rationalize that for their own imagined benefit.
  • Like the Republican legislators who dread a primary challenge and who cower in fear of Trump’s playground brat name calling. They do the dance to protect their own asses and in that process they abandon democracy and the Constitution they swore to protect and defend. And they know that’s what they’re doing.
  • This impeachment business will be, more than anything, a test of integrity.
  • So, watch the proceedings. They will be the greatest political theater on the planet. And they will be the greatest public unmasking of legislator frailties you’re likely to see – ever.

————————————


Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  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!

NOTES:

  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. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling or punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

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

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