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Why Witnesses?

The question is moot now, the Senate having voted against entertaining motions for specific witnesses. It’s worth noting that every other Senate impeachment trial included witnesses.

Particularly in this Senate trial, when nobody believed we could see anything approaching real justice—given the majority of Republican Senators spiritually-entangled with Donald John Trump, what could witnesses have added?

If the Republicans are to acquit no matter the evidence, why would they have witnesses? If Donald John Trump is to be let off the hook, again, for known and proven crimes, what would witnesses add?

Purgation, for one. Not for Donald John Trump, of course, but at least for the Senate Republicans. A full airing of the facts that they turn a blind eye to, would serve to place the record upon the table. It would allow them to point backwards and say, “We knew, but we were paralyzed with fear and hate, we could not act upon the truth!”

Instead, they will always be haunted. They will, for the rest of their time, be confronted by the witnesses they have failed to call. Everyone who ever sees them will recall and associate them with John Bolton and Mickey Mulvaney. What would have been said? (We’ll find out over the years.) Why couldn’t they bring themselves to have had it said then, despite all the calls for them to do so? (Did they hate themselves that much?) What went so wrong with this sad being before me? (It used to be a thing of stature, but look at how it oozes around now.)

The innocent employees of the executive would be cleared, for another. Anyone seeking to do business with former associates of this administration will now have to ask, “Can I trust they didn’t have a hand in that Ukraine scheme?” Any firm with a laywer would receive advice against hiring those with potential involvement—the blackmail risk is too high for any of them to hold a position of trust! But had the full record been developed, those who hope for carreers beyond this administration would not have it hanging over their head.

For the same reason, it would have protected the nation’s security. There are those still in the administration who helped further this corrupt scheme, and they are subject to blackmail or other kinds of manipulation. They have not been rooted out, and the rot continues.


We’re at a point where it again seems futile to try to explain the daylight to the blind fools in the Republican caucus. Maybe so, maybe not, but it sure feels pointless. If they care not for the nation, which appearances again suggest, one wonders why they bother to remain. Why not take a cruise to one of the four corners of the earth?

Alas, there is something sick in them, and science has no known cure. They are betting against the United States of America, the place that invented telling naysayers where to stick it. They have placed their chips with corruption and coverup. It’s a bad bet, and it won’t pay. (And their donors will move on, leaving them with the debt.)

To be clear, the election of Donald John Trump was a major and lasting blow to any claim to credibility or sanity the Republican party could make. It was a bleeding wound in their caucus. But it was survivable. Get to a doctor. Fight for your life.

No. Given every opportunity, with the Democrats and others urging and rushing them to the surgical suite, they have now called off surgery. They are choosing to bleed themselves to death. Pro-life? Indeed. The Republicans in the Senate have fled the hospital and intentionally thrown themselves upon a clearly marked landmine. They’ve pissed away at least a couple of Senate seats on that vote alone! (Ask me which.)

It happens, sometimes. Institutions that know they have grown sick, that they are beyond redemption. Like those spots in strip malls that keep opening and closing and opening and closing. Permanent dead zones. One hates to believe it, that some can slip so far that they are beyond reprieve. But it does pass, in this universe of odds.

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unAmerican

Where Be Wrath Upon the Liars?

Something that comes up repeatedly in the era of Donald John Trump is the lack of accountability and consequences for the brazen and nefarious lies that he and his minions have spewed and continue to spew. The cry goes out, “Will they not be punished?!”

Ah, but karma does not work that way. Karma works this way: the punishments will come, in the future. The liars may be among those punished. Or their children. Or their friends. Or complete strangers. But there is no definitive way to say who will receive the punishments of the karma they have created through their lies. That would be too easy.

We can hazard some guesses, though.

The Republican party will be punished. As we will keep hearing about this era for the rest of our lives, and as new and horrid details will continue to bubble up from this poisonous bog long after even the staunchest of the brainiacs who now support Donald John Trump have soured on hearing his very name, the heads will again and again turn to the Republicans and ask, “How could you do nothing?!”

The future will be punished by fallout from these years. Loss of trust, weakening of international institutions, strengthening of despotic regimes, and more will have lasting effects causing us to spend more time and money and effort to build and keep a useful world for humans to prosper in. The future will turn to the Republicans and ask them that same question. And those of them who have to fight to keep the peace in foreign lands squeezed in the vices of famine and drought, they too will pose similar questions to the nation and to the Republicans particularly.

And you and I. We will be punished. For we will have to hear about every last shitty thing done in the name of the United States by Donald John Trump and his ilk. We will be punished with the knowledge that we’re spending time cleaning up rather than making new strides. Knowing we live in a country less than it could be for the lamest of reasons. And we will have to hear the same question posed to the Republicans every single year from here to our ends. And we will have to listen to their sorry excuses or their new lies:

  • I did not support him.
  • We didn’t know it was so.
  • We were afraid of losing our seats.
  • We were confirming so many judges, it was like a drug.
  • We were blinded by his lies.
  • We were addled by our sleeping pills.
  • The liberals were so annoying that we thought it was good to make them angry.
  • It was a fad we all bought into at the time, like bellbottoms or hoola hoops.
  • We thought the whole universe was a simulation.
  • Donald who?

And so on.

Yes, there are consequences. There is karma. There will be punishments, irregularly distributed, to the innocent as well as the guilty. Such is life. It is self-correcting, on a long enough timeline, bending toward justice as the wicked are found out, as the ignorant are disabused, and as the rest of us stare on, baffled and disgusted but seemingly incapable of escape from these sick and sad mysteries.


“Karma’s a big dummy,” I hear you say. “It shouldn’t work that way at all.” But that’s like saying gravity is a dummy. Karma is. It’s a force, not a judge.

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unAmerican

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.

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unAmerican

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.

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unAmerican

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.