A Lot is Going On for 12 October 2019

The president has pulled troops back in Syria, allowing Turkey to invade and attack the Kurds. Most everyone is opposed to this, and yet the Republicans can only be so critical before they worry it will hurt their next primary. Donald John Trump is unfit to be president, and everyone knows it, but only one party can actually say it and act to do something about it.

But speaking of unfitness, you have the likes of Apple, the NBA, Blizzard Entertainment, and ESPN, all trying to appease China’s authoritarian bullshit. Not with chocolate cake, this time, but with various moves to promote their worldview, either against Hong Kong, against Taiwan, or in favor of an unfounded claim over a body of water they share with about five other countries. The preference for short-sighted profit motives does not surprise, but it does prove to be the losing side of things. The day will come when China inevitably democratizes (whether as a whole or as a set of separate states), and those citizens will remember the failure of these companies and institutions when that day comes. They will not remember them fondly.

One cannot imagine a tale of modern international history being portrayed in Chinese cinema, because they cannot tell the truth. They don’t teach it properly in schools, and they don’t portray it in their media. A society cannot be built upon amnesia. As America continues to reckon with its own past, we should recognize that other nations face that challenge, too, and worse, are far less equipped to face it. That amnesia is exactly what these corporations are supporting, for a buck.

There’s no power for chunks of California while the power company out there tries to decide if it’s safe to turn back on. Rather than do sufficient work to clear fuel on the front end, they’ve decided it’s more efficient to not make money for days at a time and hope that the weather changes. It seems better than having major fires, but one would suspect that clearing the fuel around lines would be the easier and saner way to go.

And that’s not even getting to the ongoing impeachment saga. The president continues to deny that he’s accountable for anything. The White House even sent a letter saying that impeachment was contrary to the law. One wonders, given all the times Donald John Trump has received beautiful letters from Kim Jong Un, why the White House never sends beautiful letters (re: impeachment or otherwise).

New revelations continue to come out about various worries officials have had from other phone calls and incidents. One suspects before it’s all over, Trump will claim Clinton won the election and it’s all her fault for not contesting the vote and taking the job. He already tried to pin the blame for the call on Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

On the other hand, we’re finally having another Democratic debate this Tuesday (15 October 2019). Will be good to see the gang back together. Will be good to see Senator Bernie Sanders back at it. If the Republicans could find it in their hearts to ever have this kind of sanity in a group running for their nomination, it would be a great blessing for our nation.

If Impeachment, then Trial.

There’s a lot of questions floating around the journals of late about impeachment. The basic flavor, from both the left in fret and the right in hope, is will the Senate shrug? The majority leader has said they will take them up, but then came suggestions of the inevitable motion to dismiss.

The first thing is that you will never see articles move out of the House unless Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues find them damning enough for four or more Republicans to vote with the Democrats against dismissal on at least one of the articles. Perhaps the only way the House moves on articles without that locked down is if the Senate Republicans signal they have given up entirely on their oaths and take to the Mall to fly kites. At that point, the House would vote articles to place an asterisk on this chapter in American history so that future generations will note how craven a party can become under the poison spell of a filthy fool like President Donald John Trump.

To go through preliminaries—which they’ll need to before they can receive a motion to dismiss—and then accede to such a motion would be disastrous. They would have set the stage for a trial, with the public’s understanding already formed, and then said there’s nothing to be done about that understanding. It would speak against the entire purpose of the separation of powers—that, the executive being unable to properly investigate and indict emself, must have eir actions subject to review by a separate branch. If that separate branch cannot bring itself to successfully review executive actions, we have a whole systemic breakdown.

From the timber of the Trump–Ukraine (now –China?) scandal to-date, at least a handful of Republicans should vote against dismissing some of the articles. Such motions are a low bar in all but the most worthless cases, whether civil or criminal. The fact of the coverup using the code-word NSC system, the fact of the attempts by Secretary of State Pompeo to block testimony, the facts of Attorney General Barr and the citizen Giuliani jetting about and phonecalling to dig up dirt, all point to there being enough witnesses and awareness of the wrongdoing to push this into the territory of impeachment. There was something else…. Oh—the call itself, where the President directly asked a foreign government for dirt on a political opponent!

The other reason that the Senate would want to hold a full trial is that they should want the thing put to bed, either way. If they refused to hold a real trial upon the basis of valid and dire articles of impeachment, the House could simply reissue them again and again, to drive home the point much the way that parents waking their children find particularly grating ways. If the Senate dispensed anything approaching real justice, allowing for the case to be presented, and then decided to acquit, at least history would be served, if not justice.

Which brings us to Chief Justice Roberts. He will preside over any presidential impeachment. He represents the third branch, but the main reason for his presence is that a removal of a president automatically elevates the vice president, which means the vice president has a natural conflict. To obviate the conflict, the chief justice presides in his place. And in that role, he is the presiding officer of the body, including the fact that he may break ties on votes requiring a majority. Under Senate precedents, Roberts will offer preliminary rulings on legal questions before the body, subject to reversal or affirmation by a majority of the body. He also reads out the questions posed by senators, in writing.

All of which is to say that the Senate has that extra reason to behave in the midst of an impeachment trial. They will not want to make Roberts look bad. They will not want to cast a bad reflection upon our judiciary.


A reminder: impeachment and removal are there to fix the government. They are not punishment; any criminal behavior can be prosecuted after removal and punished accordingly. The question of removing President Trump boils down to the fact of his abuse of our standing in the world to seek personal benefits, which is a matter that surely harms our national interest and our security particularly.

For now the matter remains in the House, where the inquiry is getting started. It’s unclear how the House will proceed, with some folks on the right calling for it to be formally voted as an inquiry and held inter partes as the Nixon and Clinton inquiries were. If the House Republicans wish that vote so badly, they are free to push a resolution to that end and vote for its adoption (rather than the feckless resolution they’re seeking on Representative Schiff for paraphrasing the readout of the Trump–Zelensky call). Instead, their entire strategy seems to be more about the lack of any defense for the president’s wrongdoing. That said, one expects a vote at some point, and that the president’s counsel will be allowed to participate, if only to ensure the get a close-up view of the grave position this White House is now in.

This Trump–Ukraine Business

There is a myth in the media about impeachment, that it’s some state of being rather than a particular act by the House. It’s not. Impeachment happens when the House approves one or more articles of impeachment against any officer of the executive branch or judicial branch. That’s it. That’s all impeachment is.

Impeachment inquiries are oversight that someone has decided looks like it will probably end in a vote on at least one article of impeachment.

There are no additional powers unlocked by calling oversight an impeachment inquiry. Those who say there are do not know what they are talking about. The House can empower and entrust committees with additional powers or modify their processes, but that has nothing to do with the constitutional power of impeachment and everything to do with the clause that gives the chambers of the legislature control over their own rules.

Now, this business with Trump and Giuliani and a whistleblower (House Intelligence Committee: 26 September 2019: PDF of IC Whistleblower Complaint) and a coverup and seeking dirt on Joe Biden from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. Is it impeachable conduct, to send your personal attorney under quasi-diplomatic cover to work on getting dirt on a political rival and precondition a phone call with a foreign leader on discussing said dirt, and dangle nearly half a billion dollars and a visit to the White House during that call?

I don’t know. I mean, what is the purpose of government if not to bribe, to conspire to defraud your fellow citizens, to abuse your power? That would be rather boring, wouldn’t it, to have a non-corrupt government that simply did its best to clear away the bullshit in peoples’ lives and let them get on with living? That glowed bright against corruption and stood for justice and democracy? So, yes, obviously it is impeachable. And no, it wouldn’t be boring in the least. It would be a welcome fucking change.

There are those who are afraid the Democrats are moving too fast on impeachment. We’ll see. There are those who worry it will help Trump electorally. Could be, but if we’re going to keep going on with having a country, we have to actually adhere to the law. If the nation decides it yearns for corruption and poison air and all those flavors of hell that so many fought, toiled, and died to stop and avoid, then that’s what it decides. A large number of us will never agree to such regression.

But we’re a country that supposedly cherishes justice, and that means we have to have trust in our executive. We do not have that trust. He has lied at every turn, burned every bridge, and he will be held to account under the law.

So, go ahead and play count-the-votes on your abacus, while the Democrats under Speaker Pelosi try to keep the Republic. They aren’t to impeachment yet. The probability they get there is much higher today than it was a week ago. The new conduct is more damning than anything we’ve seen before.


The charges, as they stand:

  1. President Trump’s administration withheld fund appropriated by Congress from Ukraine to leverage that government to aid Trump’s reelection by gathering or fabricating evidence on a political rival. (He may have also been dangling a White House meeting to further entice President Zelensky.)
  2. President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, repeatedly sought that same goal.
  3. President Trump conducted a telephonic conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky that had as a precondition the discussion of working on gathering that political fodder.
  4. President Trump’s administration fraudulently employed the classification system to cover up the call.
  5. President Trump’s administration violated the law by not forwarding the whistleblower complaint and by actively and willfully minimizing it in the face of stark evidence.
  6. President Trump’s administration did not employ proper recusal procedures in evaluating criminal complaints that were forwarded to the Department of Justice.

And that’s just for starters. We do not know the extent of the involvement of some figures, including Secretary of State Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr. We do not know the exact nature of Giuliani’s work—who paid for it, and whether any of it was officially sanctioned by the State Department. We also know that Vice President Pence was blocked from attending Zelensky’s inauguration, and the president has insinuated that Pence’s own conversations with Ukrainian officials may be incriminating, but we do not know any details yet.

To be perfectly clear: the ask for targeted prosecution itself, without any promise of payment, is impeachable. But: due to the relationship between the United States and Ukraine, it is impossible to make any such request without it being a de facto quid pro quo—the United States is obviously in a powerful position compared to Ukraine, and Ukraine is reliant on the United States to help protect it. All the more reason that the USA has a duty to such foreign governments and their people to be an honest broker and not add to the woes of corruption and stressors that they have to deal with. The very fact that President Donald John Trump would attempt to take advantage of that country is dirty and corrupt.


The 2020 election takes place in 57 weeks. Keep following the candidates, as we all have a duty to try to pick the best of the lot.

They Elected Trump To Erase Obama….

In 2015 and 2016, opponents of President Obama’s administration and its legacy backed Donald John Trump as a repudiation and erasure of Obama. They didn’t like Obama, they wanted him to be forgotten and nullified. Donald John Trump was the man for the job. He would renounce everything that Obama stood for.

But to renounce President Obama was to renounce the entire system that afforded him his office. Everything from the Constitution to Christian values to capitalism. And so, they set out on that task. “In case of a black president,” it said on the sign above the glass with a red steel hammer dangling by a chain, “break everything.”

President Obama stood for the rule of law, so it had to go. He stood for kindness and good humor. Who needs those? Get ’em out! Obama wanted people to have healthcare, and so the party and Trump must be opposed to healthcare. And so on. Everything from climate to Christmas. “Tear it all down,” they said.


The phenomenon is most often seen among disillusioned extremists of all stripes. The cult failed them, and now everything connected must be jettisoned. The problem, of course, is that cultists never had a strong philosophy, any kind of foundational outlook on the world. Otherwise, the cult never would have duped them to begin with.

The cult strips away associations with outside influence, much like the media bubbles that various tribes wrap themselves in today. The cult seeks to supplant the individual’s identity, usually with the identity of the cult. Wear a red hat. Chant the slogan. That’s who you are now. Reject the way of the outsiders. Reject the rule of law. Reject allegiance to the state. You’re on a new team, now. We’re a family. Don’t sleep, practice owning the libs. Don’t question, there’s a new message from the messiah coming soon, and you must be ready to accept it.

The cult scam only works as long as its members keep believing. Once they stop, the cult only lasts as long as it takes for enough of the members to jump ship. They will remain if they believe they’ve locked themselves in, which is why more extreme cults push for criminal activity or other threshold-breaking behavior. Make them think they’ve crossed over, that they’re past the point of no-return.


But most of the supporters of Donald John Trump were never that far gone. Most of them thought Hillary Clinton would win, and if he won, he’d turn out to be a regular Republican or maybe a little bit of a windbag, but nothing crazy. He wouldn’t really try to erase Obama and everything that entails, right?

We will see. He’s suggested as ruined about everything in the Constitution except the Second Amendment, and even that he’s flirted with on occasion.

It reminds me of “There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.”

We’re 61 weeks from the 2020 election. The next Democratic debate is in just under two weeks (12 September 2019).

Think of the Children, GOP.

The future is bleak for the GOP. They have a generation of kids doing active shooter drills. They have a generation of kids with a racist president. They have a generation of kids watching as they deny science and block concerted action against climate change. They have a generation of kids seeing other kids in cages, while they argue they shouldn’t have toothbrushes. They have a generation of kids whose parents worry about their healthcare, whether they can afford insulin, whether a crazy lawsuit (or a Senate vote without Senator McCain) will tump the apple cart.

The future of the GOP will depend upon outright abjuration of the current party, which will take wide swaths of policy (but not all) with it. It’s clear enough that if you wanted to turn off a whole generation to your party forever, you couldn’t build a better party to do it than today’s Republicans.

None of which is much consolation to the kids who have to grow up listening to a racist president, or who will have to endure a worse climate scenario than they would if we had responsible conservatives in the US. They will be more likely to repeal the 2nd amendment than to tweak it or be satisfied with gun safety laws, which isn’t the best outcome.

In general, having two (or more, but at least two) useful parties is always healthy. It keeps the majority party responsible, and it keeps the minority party relevant enough to temper the worst instincts of the majority. But the Republicans, railing against socialism, are pushing for a future where they are powerless to stop the very socialism they fearmonger about. They are, obstruction by obstruction, denial by denial, racist tweet by racist tweet, ceding the future to the Democratic party.

Even the children who will inevitably dislike the Democrats will be more likely to splinter off into the Libertarians or Greens or some new third parties, which will never have enough strength to respond. The long-term strategy of the Republicans is to make sure they never need a long-term strategy. Poisoning a whole generation against them is a safe bet. They won’t need to solve any problems circa 2050, because they will have dwindled into irrelevancy.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There is the idiocy about demographics as destiny, that California being a “blue state” is caused by who lives there rather than the policies that are put forward. There’s all this woe that Americans don’t fuck enough, aren’t having kids. But the Republicans aren’t putting forward policies to change that (and I don’t mean some Handmaid’s Tale policies, either).

How many damned autopsies from elections would they need before they actually embrace change? They are the victims of campaign funding capture that is detrimental to their own future. The check writers want to see not electoral performance but stump performance, dictating a bad platform that calls for gag rules and walls and tax cuts and little in the way of compassionate or reasonable policy.

The modern conservatives will have to break that mold. They should caucus with the Democrats long enough to see it smashed. To get real campaign finance reform, to get real gerrymandering reform, to get real voting reform. To tune-up the system in a way that makes elections about ideas again, and then they can begin to offer conservative shades of policy instead of Day-Glo murals of doom.