Friday, May 31, 2019

Arguments against Impeaching Trump are BULLSHIT

Mehdi Hasan at The Intercept cut through the bullshit with this video (less than six minutes):

So, what is Speaker Pelosi so damn afraid of?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Did you see what happened in Nevada this year? It can't happen here? Can it?

It can't happen here. Can it? That's something Sinclair Lewis pondered, more than a half-century ago about the hypothetical importation of Fascism into our country. Amazon says about Lewis's novel,
A cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, it is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America.
Ya think?

Digby, in addition to writing about Speaker Pelosi's reluctance to initiate impeachment inquiries or proceedings, starkly reflected on history that projects a darkened reality onto what several states have done this week to further stomp out the personal sovereignty of roughly half of the population.

Notably, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Ohio. In 2019. Several more states are poised to likewise pass laws intended to ban abortion rights, virtually or outright. But NOT Nevada.

Social media platforms are teeming with posts decrying moves by states ruled by misogynists. Thousands of people excoriate the audacity of theocratic fascists (such as the Center for Arizona Policy) who claim to be pro-life but abandon the concept once a human child takes her/his first breath.

But Digby highlighted the concept when she found Foreign Policy staff writer Amy MacKinnon's pieceWhat Actually Happens When a Country Bans Abortion?

Romanian orphans in a Bucharest orphanage shortly after the December Revolution in 1989. KEVIN WEAVER/GETTY IMAGES

As lawmakers in Alabama this week passed a bill that would outlaw abortion in the U.S. state entirely, protesters outside the statehouse wore blood-red robes, a nod to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, in which childbearing is entirely controlled by the state. Hours later, the book was trending on Twitter.
But opponents of the restrictive abortion laws currently being considered in the United States don’t need to look to fiction for admonitory examples of where these types of laws can lead. For decades, communist Romania was a real-life test case of what can happen when a country outlaws abortion entirely, and the results were devastating.
In 1966, the leader of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu, outlawed access to abortion and contraception in a bid to boost the country’s population. In the short term, it worked, and the year after it was enacted the average number of children born to Romanian women jumped from 1.9 to 3.7. But birthrates quickly fell again as women found ways around the ban. Wealthy, urban women were sometimes able to bribe doctors to perform abortions, or they had contraceptive IUDs smuggled in from Germany.
Yet Romania’s prohibition of the procedure was disproportionately felt by low-income women and disadvantaged groups, which abortion-rights advocates in the United States fear would happen if the Alabama law came into force. As a last resort, many Romanian women turned to home and back-alley abortions, and by 1989, an estimated 10,000 women had died as a result of unsafe procedures. The real number of deaths might have been much higher, as women who sought abortions and those who helped them faced years of imprisonment if caught. Maternal mortality skyrocketed, doubling between 1965 and 1989. [...]
“For many women, sexuality represented a fear and not a part of life that can be enjoyed,” Ilisei said.
Another consequence of Romania’s abortion ban was that hundreds of thousands of children were turned over to state orphanages. When communism collapsed in Romania in 1989, an estimated 170,000 children were found warehoused in filthy orphanages. Having previously been hidden from the world, images emerged of stick-thin children, many of whom had been beaten and abused. Some were left shackled to metal bed frames.
What would be reasonable to expect if the Draconian laws just passed in so many states are allowed to go into effect?

Beside women's marches with dramatically higher participation and likely casualties? More from the Foreign Policy article,
Romania’s abortion ban was compounded by a ban on contraception, which was not mentioned in the Alabama bill. But the Trump administration took a swipe at birth control in 2017 when it allowed employers to opt out of providing it as part of employee insurance plans on the grounds of religious belief. This decision was halted by a federal judge in January of this year.
The ultimate goal IS to have SCOTUS overturn Roe v Wade.

If they succeed with that goal, there will be further turmoil.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel is coming from Carson City, Nevada.
Since Nevada seated the nation’s first majority-female state legislature in January [2019], the male old guard has been shaken up by the perspectives of female lawmakers. Bills prioritizing women’s health and safety have soared to the top of the agenda. Mounting reports of sexual harassment have led one male lawmaker to resign. And policy debates long dominated by men, including prison reform and gun safety, are yielding to female voices.
I'm in Arizona. Can THAT happen here? I think it can. I will celebrate when it does.

NOTE: Season 3 of The Handmaid's Tale premiers on HULU on June 5th.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Is it time to again march on Washington to get Pelosi's attention?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been very emphatic about not rushing to impeachment. But her caucus KNOWS Trump deserves to be ousted from office.

All the op-eds and blogs in the world seem not to be phasing Pelosi. Blogger Heather Digby Parton today was published in Salon, "Democrats still don't want to impeach."
We're still in the middle of the Russia scandal but I'd bet money that the line that will be most remembered is from the Mueller report, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions told President Trump that a special counsel had been appointed. He slumped in his chair and said, "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked."
We don't know at this moment whether that will have led to the end of his presidency or not. But it tells you something important about Trump's mindset. This investigation had him in despair from the very beginning. In fact, we now know that he was so anxious about it that he spent the next year and a half secretly obstructing justice in a dozen different ways, publicly trashing everyone involved in it and destroying the reputations of the FBI and the Department of Justice. Whether that reflected his guilt over his behavior in the Russia matter or concern that the FBI was turning over other rocks he'd rather not be touched is still unknown. But these were not the actions of an innocent man. [...]
He was nervous then and he's even more nervous now that the investigations have moved to the House. After all, Mueller's operation was secret. Congress operates in public. [...]
Trump's fear of high drama that he cannot control, starring someone who can potentially puncture the bubble that surrounds his supporters, is palpable. This could end his presidency one way or another. He's known that from the start.
This no doubt informs the White House's unprecedented decision to stonewall every request for documents and testimony from the House of Representatives. Sure, there's a movement within the administration (and now within the Department of Justice under William Barr) that hopes to use these circumstances to create legal precedents for their "unitary executive" theory. But Donald Trump is still the president, and his desire to keep anyone from looking too closely at his campaign, his presidency and — perhaps most importantly — his business is almost certainly the main reason for the total lack of cooperation. [...]
On Thursday the Washington Post reported that a day earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had held a closed-door meeting with the Democratic caucus, telling them to stick to policy issues that people really care about and forget about impeachment. She acknowledged that some Democrats are feeling a little down about the refusal to consider impeachment, but no one in the room objected to her edict. Evidently, they are all convinced that voters are not concerned about whether their president is a criminal or the Constitution is in peril.
The vice chair of the Democratic caucus, Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, went on MSNBC and robotically laid out the case, making the rather strange argument that Trump is stonewalling because "he just wants to use this whole situation to deflect from the issues that we are working on, the legislation that we are passing, that affects real Americans." Somehow I don't think voters are going to buy that. People understand that getting a conviction in the Senate in an impeachment trial will be nearly impossible — but they also know that passing any of those great Democratic bills in the Senate, and then getting Trump to sign them, is just as unlikely. [...]
Many legal observers believe that only impeachment proceedings will give them the House leadership the clout they need with the courts to force compliance with subpoenas, so in that sense it's almost a necessity. House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said on Thursday that "the president's policy now, the president's posturing now, is making it impossible to rule out impeachment or anything else." As the Washington Post's Greg Sargent writes in a scathing assessment of the Democrats' strategy, it just looks like "a muddled mess."
From Greg Sargent's piece in WaPo,
A new ad that impeachment proponent Tom Steyer is set to launch illustrates this well. Notably, rather than merely making the case for an inquiry, the ad trains its fire at Democrats for failing to initiate one.

Numerous Democrats did claim there was no need to decide on an impeachment inquiry until we saw Mueller’s findings.
In retrospect, this was a serious strategic failure. If it was intended as a stalling tactic — a way to delay the moment at which Democrats would reveal their real intention not to act — it only created a situation in which Mueller’s extraordinarily serious revelations made it more difficult to definitively close the door on it. [...]
But if this posture is underpinned by a secret intention to never pull that trigger, that creates yet another problem.
Pat Cipollone, Trump’s White House counsel, just announced that he will stiff-arm House oversight requests across the board, in effect declaring any further fleshing out of Mueller’s findings to be illegitimate. The administration is also unlawfully refusing to release the president’s tax returns, and will fight “all” subpoenas, a sweeping effort to place Trump beyond accountability entirely.
This means Democrats may be hamstrung from doing the very fact-finding they say is necessary to decide whether to launch an impeachment inquiry.
So... what's it going to take to get Madam Speaker's attention sufficiently to pull the string to initiate impeachment proceedings?

Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Put a stop to theocratic rationalizations on Abortion UPDATED 5-19-19

There's a cacophony of bullshit going around regarding women's right to choose.

The bottom-line is that you have every right to push any and every discussion to focus on THIS: Make Dominionists/Evangelicals and/or "theocratic fascists" explain why all living, breathing humans (notably female humans who have reached child-bearing age) do not deserve PERSONAL SOVEREIGNTY.

The word "sovereign" means to be in supreme authority over someone or something, and to be extremely effective and powerful. Therefore, it is usually applied to gods, royalty and governments. We speak of kings and queens as sovereigns (even when they are figureheads), and of the sovereign rights of nations and States.
Personal sovereignty, then, would imply the intrinsic authority and power of an individual to determine his or her own direction and destiny.
I could ramble on about the issue but really, the essence is already captured with the quote above. I also wrote about the issue about a month ago when the Arizona Legislature was busy resisting efforts to actually recognize and memorialize personal sovereignty for living breathing female humans.

Because the legislature and governor in Alabama just (threw down the gauntlet to dare SCOTUS overturn Roe v Wade) virtually outlawed abortion as a backdoor way to shut down the right of women to self-determination, the cacophony will continue.

In a nod to the personal sovereignty of my sisters in the battle, I offer this:

Shut that whole damn thing down by making them explain why all living breathing humans should not have a right to personal sovereignty.


NOTE: one particular theocratic fascist in a lame and apparently non-ironic attempt at satire dismisses concern over his proudly self-proclaimed description in an effort to shut down calls for him to be allowed to voice his opinion. While I think his opinion is ridiculous, I'm not calling for any person or institution to limit his rights in any way.

UPDATE                         UPDATE                         UPDATE

"Editorial comment" Weekend Update from SNL 5-18-19

Friday, May 10, 2019

A well-deserved front cover photo for Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

Follow candidate Warren's twitter feed @ewarren. Read her plans at Elizabeth Warren dot com.

It's time to elect a woman president to heal America.

P.S. Be sure to wish your Mother a Happy Mother's Day this weekend.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Intuitively setting Trump's resignation date, Mnuchin REFUSES to comply with lawful Congressional demand

Charles P. Pierce, political writer for Esquire Magazine, declared on Twitter this afternoon,
Dear Headline Writers: Mnuchin is not “declining a request.” He’s breaking the law.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) issued this statement,
Following Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s refusal to turn President Trump’s tax returns over to the House Ways and Means Committee, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Executive Director Noah Bookbinder released the following statement:
“The law is clear that the IRS must turn over tax returns requested by the House Ways and Means Committee, which has many legitimate and important reasons to request the president’s returns. The returns are crucial for evaluating potential conflicts of interest, among many other appropriate legislative purposes. There is no wiggle room in this, it is the law. Secretary Mnuchin says he has decided not to turn them over, but that is not a decision that is his to make. Congress cannot accept this.”
From the New York Times,
WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department said on Monday that it would not release President Trump’s tax returns to Congress, defying a request from House Democrats and setting up a legal battle likely to be resolved by the Supreme Court.
Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, wrote in a letter to Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, that Mr. Neal’s request for the tax returns “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose” and that he was not authorized to disclose them. The decision came after weeks of delays as Mr. Mnuchin said that his department and the Justice Department needed to study the provision of the tax code that Democrats were using to seek six years’ worth of the president’s personal and business tax returns.
The request for Mr. Trump’s taxes is the latest instance of the Trump administration rebuffing congressional oversight efforts.
“As you have recognized, the committee’s request is unprecedented, and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers,” Mr. Mnuchin wrote in the one-page letter.
He added that “the department may not lawfully fulfill the committee’s request.”
Mr. Neal issued a terse statement on Monday afternoon in response to Mr. Mnuchin: “I will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response.”
Because we reasonably have been able to infer from his behavior over the last four years that the one thing Trump fears most is public (or even just to Congress) disclosure of his personal and business tax returns, it follows that when he has exhausted his legal options for preventing said disclosure, his presidency will end. We are free, however to speculate as to HOW it will end.

One possibility is that on the day SCOTUS compels Mnuchin to fulfill the Congressional demand, or the next day, Trump will compel Mike Pence to issue him a blanket pardon and then resign.

Less honorable endings are certainly just as possible. Popular culture provides fuel for the imagination. Based on the David Baldacci novel of the same name, in the 1997 movie Absolute Power, Gene Hackman portrays US President Alan Richmond. I won't spoil the plot or the ending for those who haven't seen it. But Richmond's administration suffers an ignominious demise.

Then there's the obvious end that I suspect more than 100 million Americans would appreciate--impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate.

There might be more possible ways to end this particular long national nightmare, but resignation would likely be the least traumatic not only for the nation but also for Trump and his family.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

To End a Presidency... or not?

From the first paragraph of the Preface to Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz's "To End a Presidency,"
Impeachment haunts Trumpland. Never before has an American leader so quickly faced such credible, widespread calls for his removal. By early 2019, the list of alleged "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" included abuse of the pardon power, obstruction of justice, assaults on the free press, promotion of violence against racial and religious minorities, receipt of unlawful emoluments, deliberate refusal to protect the nation from cyberattacks, and corrupt dealings relating to Russia. President Donald J. Trump fueled these fires by rejecting bipartisan norms of presidential conduct and by ferociously attacking anyone who dared to challenge him... Calls for Trump's impeachment, and indignant rebukes of those calls, echo everywhere from TV screens and editorials to Facebook comments and Twitter feeds. 
It's now clear that as long as Trump holds the nation's highest office, Americans will actively debate his impeachment. As we write this book, over [more than] 40 percent of the US electorate supports action to force Trump from power.
From the first paragraph of the first chapter,
If we don't allow presidential impeachment, warned Benjamin Franklin, then the only recourse for abuse of power will be assassination. In Franklin's view, that's what history taught about "cases where the chief Magistrate rendered himself obnoxious." Yet assassination is a deeply flawed and unjust remedy. The victim is "not only deprived of his life but of the opportunity of vindicating his character." Surely it would be better "to provide in the Constitution for the regular punishment of the Executive when his misconduct should deserve it, and for his honorable acquittal when he should be unjustly accused." 
Check your local library for a copy of To End a Presidency, or pick one up at a bookstore or online bookseller now.

To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment, by Laurence Tribe (Author), Joshua Matz (Author), published by Basic Books, an Imprint of Hachette Book Group.

While the easy thing to do would be to lambast House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for dragging her feet on this issue, there IS wisdom in proceeding ONLY in the most methodical and deliberate manner. A scant two decades ago, the shoe, as it were, was on the other foot. The Republican Congress felt and expressed extreme displeasure with then President Bill Clinton over what amounts--in hindsight--to be hardly more than personal indiscretion and certainly not abuse of power on any scale comparable to what the US now endures.

The Arizona Eagletarian personally favors impeachment, but cautions the investigations must take place and documentation of evidence systematically produced and preserved for procedural and historical integrity.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

How Democracies Die, is this happening in our country?

Page 77, in a chapter titled Subverting Democracy:
... Democracy is grinding work. Whereas family businesses and army squadrons may be ruled by fiat, democracies require negotiation, compromise, and concessions. Set backs are inevitable, victories always partial. Presidential initiatives may die in congress or be blocked by courts. All politicians are frustrated by these constraints, but democratic ones know they must accept them. They are able to weather the constant barrage of criticism. But for outsiders, particularly those of a demagogic bent, democratic politics is often intolerably frustrating. For them, checks and balances feel like a straitjacket. Like [Peruvian] President [Alberto] Fujimori, who couldn't stomach the idea of having lunch with senate leaders every time he wanted to pass legislation, would-be authoritarians have little patience with the day-to-day politics of democracy. And like Fujimori, they want to break free.
How do elected authoritarians shatter the democratic institutions that are supposed to constrain them? Some do it in one fell swoop. But more often the assault on democracy begins slowly. For many citizens, it may, at first, be imperceptible. After all, elections continue to be held. Opposition politicians still sit in congress. Independent newspapers still circulate. The erosion of democracy takes place piecemeal, often in baby steps. Each individual step seems minor--none appears [on their own] to truly threaten democracy. Indeed, government moves to subvert democracy frequently enjoy a veneer of legality: they are approved by parliament or ruled constitutional by the supreme court. Many of them are adopted under the guise of pursuing some legitimate--even laudable--public objective, such as combating corruption, "cleaning up" elections, improving the quality of democracy or enhancing national security.
To better understand how elected autocrats subtly undermine institutions, it's helpful to imagine a soccer game. To consolidate power, would-be authoritarians must capture the referees, sideline at least some of the other side's star players [like Al Franken, or in the 2016 campaign, Bernie Sanders and then Hillary Clinton], and rewrite the rules of the game to lock in their advantage, in effect tilting the playing field against their opponents.

Rewriting the rules of the game as in voter suppression, denying application for asylum for thousands fleeing oppression in other countries, stoking racial divisiveness, political violence and more.

There is one particular, very high-profile officeholder who personifies authoritarian dystopia in America today. And he is backed by a political party that doesn't seem to want democratic institutions to continue at all in our country. Those names don't even need to be spelled out anymore. You know who they are.

And if you've been paying attention to the news and current affairs, you know at least some of the details. At News and Guts, attorney Stephen J. Harper details some of the facts,
Start with these undisputed facts: A foreign adversary launched a sophisticated attack aimed at helping Donald Trump win the presidency. His campaign welcomed the help and he won. His chosen deputy attorney general then appointed a special counsel to investigate the attack. Repeatedly and often successfully, Trump tried to undermine that investigation.
That’s not a narrative of innocence. It’s the narrative of obstruction that seeks to hinder proof of potential underlying crimes. So not only is Trump’s claim of “no obstruction” false, but his previous actions also further undermine ongoing claims of “no collusion” and “total exoneration.”
For starters,
The obstruction volume of Mueller’s report opens with “The Campaign’s response to reports about Russian support for Trump,” which summarizes the Trump team’s repeated lies about its interactions with Russia. Ten categories of evidence then document Trump’s efforts to interfere with investigations into those contacts.
“Conduct involving FBI Director Comey and Michael Flynn”: The FBI caught Trump’s national security adviser lying about his Russia contacts and he resigned. Trump then pressured Comey to “let Flynn go.”
It goes on.

In order to keep our Democracy from death, we must excise this person from the Oval Office.

Or, in the words of Lindsey from South Carolina,