Here’s Vice President Pence, briefing the press in Rome:
Well, I’m not aware of what — what Mr. Parnas said about the Ukrainian ambassador. But I can tell you what — what he has said — what he had said about me has been completely false. I don’t recall ever having met Mr. Parnas, although I’ve seen a couple of photographs where, apparently, he was in my vicinity.
I can’t argue with Chris Hedges on this, and so I won’t. The message of the 2017 Million Women’s March and the 2018 mid-terms wasn’t that the Democratic Party should double down next time on presidential candidates from the Republican wing of the party. Quite the opposite. It pointed to a fundamental change in the voters, away from the Bidens and Buttigiegs. Picture either of them on the debate stage, smothering Vladimir Trump with powerful displays of competence, knowledge, reason, ability, civility, sweet reason and simple decency. Might as well toss roses into a cesspool. This is America, not Oxford.
So here goes Hedges:
The liberal class and the Democratic Party leadership have failed, even after their defeat in the 2016 presidential election, to understand that they, along with the traditional Republican elites, have squandered their credibility. No one believes them. And no one should…
They squandered their credibility by promising that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would, as claimed by President Bill Clinton, create 200,000 new, well-paying jobs per year; instead, several million jobs were lost. They squandered it by allowing corporations to move production overseas and hire foreign workers at daily wages that did not equal what a U.S. unionized worker made in an hour, a situation that obliterated the bargaining power of the American working class. They squandered it by allowing corporations to use the threat of “offshoring” production to destroy unions, suppress wages, extract draconian concessions and push millions of workers into the temp and gig economies, where there are no benefits or job security and pay is 60% or less of what a full-time employee in the regular economy receives. They squandered it by forcing working men and women to take two or three jobs to support a family, jacking up household debt to $13.95 trillion. They squandered it by redirecting wealth upward, so that during the Clinton administration alone 45 percent of all income growth went to the wealthiest 1%. They squandered it by wiping out small farmers in Mexico, driving some 3 million of them off their lands and forcing many to migrate in desperation to the United States, a human tide that saw the U.S. right wing and President Trump direct mounting rage toward immigrants. They squandered it by turning our great cities into urban wastelands. They squandered it by slashing welfare and social service programs. They squandered it by supporting endless, futile wars that have an overall price tag of between $5 trillion and $7 trillion. They squandered it by setting up a surveillance system to spy on every American and then lying about it. They squandered it by catering to the big banks and gutting financial regulations, precipitating the 2008 economic meltdown. They squandered it by looting the U.S. Treasury to bail out banks and financial firms guilty of massive financial crimes, ordering the Federal Reserve to hand over an estimated $29 trillion to the global financiers responsible for the crash. They squandered it by not using this staggering sum instead to provide free college tuition to every student or universal health care, repair our crumbling infrastructure, transition to clean energy, forgive student debt, raise wages, bail out underwater homeowners, form public banks to foster investments in our communities at low interest rates, provide a guaranteed minimum income and organize a massive jobs program for the unemployed and underemployed, whose ranks are at least double official statistics. They squandered it by cutting child assistance programs—most drastically during the Clinton administration—resulting in 16 million children going to bed hungry every night. They squandered it by leaving over half a million Americans homeless and on the streets on any given day. They squandered it by passing laws that keep students burdened by massive college loan debt that has climbed to $1.4 trillion, debt they cannot free themselves from even if they declare bankruptcy. They squandered it by militarizing police and building the world’s largest system of mass incarceration, one with 25% of the world’s prison population. They squandered it by revoking due process and habeas corpus. They squandered it by passing massive tax cuts for the rich and for corporations, many of which—such as Amazon—pay no federal income tax, ballooning the federal deficit, now at $779 billion and climbing. They squandered it by privatizing everything from intelligence gathering to public education to swell corporate bank accounts at taxpayer expense. They squandered it by permitting corporate money—an estimated $9.9 billion will be spent this presidential election cycle on political advertising—to buy politicians in a form of legalized bribery that sees corporate lobbyists write legislation and create laws. They squandered it by doing nothing to halt the looming ecocide.
…It's "Bribery," pure and simple, says Tony Piel:
“Quid Pro Quo” is NOT the term to use when describing President Trump’s current Ukraine fiasco. The correct term is “Bribery,” pure and simple. It makes a Constitutional difference.
“Quid Pro Quo” is a first-year law school term to describe when a supposed agreement is or is not a legally enforceable “contract.” It is a short-hand way of saying that something is to be given or received, and both parties expect to be legally bound by “performance” of contract. For larger sums or values, a legally enforceable contract must usually be written, signed and dated by both parties. Without “Quid Pro Quo” there is no contract. In the Ukraine fiasco, no one has suggested that Presidents Trump and Zelensky had intended, made or signed a legally enforceable contract. Contract law is not what it was all about.
“Bribery,” by contrast, means offering something (a “bribe”) in order to solicit or influence the actions (i.e. misbehavior) of an official or other person in violation of law or public duty. Bribery is itself a crime, and even if it fails it’s still the crime of attempted bribery. In the Ukraine fiasco, Bribery is exactly what is alleged, namely Trump’s withholding of $ 391 million worth of Congress’ appropriated military aid (intended to protect Ukraine from invasion by Putin’s Russia) in order to influence Zelensky to make a public announcement of a (frankly non-existent) Ukrainian investigation of (equally non-existent) “corruption” by Trump’s personal campaign opponent, Joe Biden, in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. Soliciting (by Trump) or making (by Zelensky) such a false statement violates international as well as US national election law. It’s a perfect example of “Bribery.”
Article II of the US Constitution anticipates the problem and provides the clear solution: “A President shall be removed from office on impeachment and conviction of Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes.” There’s nothing about “Quid Pro Quo.” It’s all about “Bribery.” The remedy: Removal from office. If not by impeachment, then by vote. Why ? (1) For unsuitability for high office, (2) for abuse of presidential power, and for violation of US law and the US Constitution. It’s that pure and simple.
From the New York Times:
There’s a suspicion in Washington that a lot of Senate Republicans would be happy to turn on the president if there were some kind of super-secret impeachment ballot. This is probably true. How many of them would even want to have lunch with Donald Trump if he were, say, a school custodian. Not even Lindsey Graham.
Blame it on the Democrats. Roosevelt let her in:
Born as the 10th child of the MacLeod family on the Outer Hebridean Isle of Lewis in 1912, Mary Trump was raised in a strict Presbyterian, Gaelic speaking household. She emigrated to New York in 1930 and found work as a domestic servant before later marrying businessman Fred Trump and having five children.
For days I watched the same Charlottesville footage over and over again on MSNBC and never could figure out exactly what was going on. Who were the good guys? Who were the bad guys? How could you tell? The commentators didn’t seem to know either. Maybe that’s what confused our so-called “president,” too. You think?
But this morning I came across this absolutely first-rate 20-minute episode from VICE News, in which an absolutely first-rate reporter named Elle Reeve cleared things up for me. Here she is interviewing a specimen named Christopher Cantwell, who predicts that someday he and his neo-Nazi pals will find a real racist to lead them:
“Not somebody like Donald Trump. Somebody who does not give his daughter to a Jew. I don’t think you could feel like I do and watch that Kushner bastard walk around with that beautiful girl.”
From the Washington Post:
Since his conviction on fraud and conspiracy charges, former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has spent more than 3,000 hours helping more than 100 law enforcement agents in an ongoing federal corruption probe that has implicated “scores of other persons not yet charged,” lawyers said in court filings yesterday.
From McClatchy Newspapers:
WASHINGTON — An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.
The Pentagon-sponsored study, scheduled for release later this week, did confirm that Saddam's regime provided some support to other terrorist groups, particularly in the Middle East, U.S. officials told McClatchy. However, his security services were directed primarily against Iraqi exiles, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and others he considered enemies of his regime…
All right, enough of this Yuletide stuff. Let’s get back to the anti-Santa, George W. Bush. Thanks to Avedon Carol at The Sideshow for this link to Andrew Sullivan in the Sunday Times. Sullivan, as you probably know, is about as liberal as I am conservative. Does this lend a certain gravitas to his attacks on Bush? I report; you decide.
What are the odds that a legal effective interrogation of a key Al-Qaeda operative would have led many highly respected professionals in the US intelligence community to risk their careers by leaking top-secret details to the press?
What are the odds that the CIA would have sought to destroy tapes that could prove it had legally prevented serious and dangerous attacks against innocent civilians? What are the odds that a president who had never authorised waterboarding would be unable to say whether such waterboarding was torture?
What are the odds that, under congressional grilling, the new attorney-general would also refuse to say whether he believed waterboarding was illegal, if there was any doubt that the president had authorised it? The odds are beyond minimal.
Any reasonable person examining all the evidence we have — without any bias — would conclude that the overwhelming likelihood is that the president of the United States authorised illegal torture of a prisoner and that the evidence of the crime was subsequently illegally destroyed.
While I’ve got you on the line, isn’t it about time that some really skillful Photoshopper or caricaturist came up with the image of Bush waterboarding a suspect? Ideas or leads welcome.
Congressman Robert Wexler, D-FL, has started a drive to collect signatures of those who think the Vice President should be impeached. Among whom I count myself.
Of course it’s true that war crimes and crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations. But if they manage to leave the dirt and the office at the same time they will have gotten away with it. They won’t be able to travel openly outside the US, of course; but Bush had hardly traveled before he was President, and Cheney never does anything openly anyway. Rice will be feted by Stanford, like Rumsfeld, and no one will think of attaching any taint of blame to the man sent to the UN to do his masterly sales job on the world.
We gotta start somewhere. No one can fire the Vice President, so he can’t be let go late one Friday evening after a decision to cut losses. And no reasonable person wants to impeach Bush only to end up with Cheney. So OVP seems like a good place to start.
By the way, if you hear anyone argue that simply leaving office in disgrace is sufficient suffering, point out that, for example, convicted liar Elliot Abrams is still poisoning public policy. Five Presidential terms (that is, three Presidents) later, he’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy.
Unless we put a wooden stake through the area where the heart would be, they’ll be back. Cheney’s an excellent place to start.
You no doubt heard the reports, mostly but not entirely snarky, about Cindy Sheehan’s arrest in the office of John Conyers. I admire her commitment, but it seems to me that her view of the problem is the reverse of reality.
I certainly believe that the current situation calls for, indeed requires, that both the President and the Vice President be impeached. No one can honestly question whether they have committed impeachable offenses. The question is what to do about it, and in this regard the leading Democrats in Congress are proving to be as spineless a majority as they were a minority.
But Conyers is not the problem. It seems clear that he favors impeachment, but to overcome opposition from the Speaker, he needs an overwhelming number of colleagues to back him. Which, in my view, makes Nancy Pelosi the problem. Her office would be a better place to get arrested to make a political point.
As Nader says, what we need is not a third party, but a second one. The Democrats, following the Clinton pattern, talk progressive but act DLC. They need the progressive votes (usually, though in 2008 not so much), but they’re mostly corporatist. The wide-spread recognition of that fact might explain some of the high fives that Edwards got for his two best lines in the recent debate:
Do you believe that compromise, triangulation will bring about big change? I don’t. I think the people who are powerful in Washington — big insurance companies, big drug companies, big oil companies — they are not going to negotiate. They are not going to give away their power! The only way that they are going to give away their power is if we take it away from them!
We can’t trade our insiders for their insiders.
Which of course is why the media hates him: they’re insiders whose employers are owned by the big corporations that currently exercise the real power. It’ll be interesting to see if any changes come from the video his campaign released, showing clips of important stuff happening in the world while playing the song “Hair”. Will they get it? (Will they be allowed to?)
In the end, I think Ruth Conniff is on the money with her observations at The Progressive. She mentions Russ Feingold’s proposal to censure Bush and Cheney, the classic wimpy-liberal response to the difference between reality and what the wingnuts demand. This is why the right wing is powerful and the left wing gormless: the right fights and the left compromises.
Conniff talked with John Nichols of The Nation about Feingold’s comment at Kos: “The history books will show we were vocal in condemning the President’s abuses of power.” (That won’t keep the next President from doing the same things, though; do we care?)
While Democrats give voice to public discontent with the Bush administration, the leadership is still operating on the theory that as Bush and the Republicans head off the cliff, the best course of action is to get out of the way. Politically, Nichols concedes, they might be right: “They should just stand up and say if we abdicate our constitutional responsibilities and don’t do our job, we’ll reap the benefits. It will allow us to do good things. They might be right. Standing by and letting a crash occur might benefit you. That’s a credible case.”
Immoral, but credible. That’s the real problem the Democratic leadership faces: they know their strategy is immoral, so they can no more afford to state it than Bush can be honest about imperialism and oil.
Witness the recent Democratic meme that impeachment would keep them from getting useful work done.
“The idea that taking up impeachment will keep us from acting on health care, gay rights, etc., is ahistoric,” Nichols says. “The fact of the matter is that during the impeachment of Nixon back in the 70s, the reason Congress was so effective and got so much done was that Nixon was scared and, in a calculated move, started cooperating with Congress to avoid impeachment. So the right thing to do is move immediately — see what you can get out of Bush.”
For that theory to win the day, the pressure on Congress from voters has to continue to grow.
That means us. Have you contacted your Representative?
California has well over 35 million people. And who’s more connected than we are?
I just went to Senator Diane Feinstein’s web site and entered a comment from a constitutent. The site says “The total number of e-mails sent to Senator Feinstein through this web page”, before the one I sent, was 114,864.
Where the hell is everybody? Californians: Senator Feinstein is on the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Patrick “Go Fuck Yourself” Leahy, currently attempting to extract information from Sara Taylor, Harriet Meirs, and the White House over the US attorney firings. Got anything to say to her?
Here’s what I said.
I believe the Senate should hold Ms. Sara Taylor, Ms. Harriet Meirs, and the President in contempt of Congress absent full testimony in the matter of the firing of the US attorneys.
My understanding is that Ms. Taylor and Ms. Meirs no longer work for the White House, and are therefore not under its direction. If the President is claiming that his executive privilege allows him to prevent former aides from testifying about possible illegal actions, I don’t believe such a claim would hold up even in today’s Supreme Court.
If the Congress does not act to restrain this President, he will cause even more harm to the country.
But the greatest harm, an irreparable one, would occur if the Congress fails to enact legal punishment for this administration’s illegal actions.
This President and, most especially, this Vice President have acted as if they are above the law. Congress must show them that they are not, most vigorously, or future Presidents will be completely unaccountable, and the Republic will fade away, like Rome’s did.
It’s not enough to pass resolutions that call President Bush a bad guy. He’s a war criminal; he should be in the dock in The Hague along with his Vice President. In addition, he’s a domestic criminal: he’s violated our civil rights with abandon, and he’s made us less secure, breaking all kinds of laws in the process, and ignoring many more through signing statements.
There are so many reasons to impeach both the President and the Vice President that it appears to me to be the Constitutional responsibility of this Congress to proceed along that path.
April 28. If you’ve just been watching the network news, this date will mean nothing to you. However, April 28 is the date that marks the beginning of Impeachment Summer. Our friend Monique sends a link to her page on A28.org. Go take a look at A28.org, and psst, HEY YOU, pass it on.