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This Trump–Ukraine Business

A run-down of the situation that may lead to President Trump’s impeachment and a subsequent trial in the US Senate.

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.

Ukraine Shoved West

Vladimir Putin’s Russian Federation insists that Ukraine become a modern economy while the Russian Federation must continue to stagnate.

The Russian Federation is in the midst of a controversial annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from the Ukraine. And with that, Ukraine is being driven into the West. The Russian Federation’s de facto leader, President Vladimir Putin, instigated the annexation following the ouster of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

Are we in store for a new ice age, of the political kind? The facts on the ground in the Russian Federation made this sort of move inevitable. Lack of economic modernization both in Russian Federation and in the Eastern Ukraine, particularly Crimea, have long had the Ukraine treated as a modern-day, softer-split Germany. Like a child in the midst of a heated divorce and custody dispute between Russian Federation and the West.

Now, the bulk of the Ukraine moves west into what will undoubtedly be greater economic prosperity. The result will likely be a reunion with Crimea in the decades to come, as they see the prosperity to their north.

That differs from, say, North Korea, in that the people there cannot see the prosperity they are being denied so clearly. They must blend the dictator’s words and power with the glimpses of the outside. But for Crimea, which will likely retain stable relations with the Ukraine after tensions settle, the picture will be not just in their browsers and phones and televisions, but out their window.

To be clear, the greatest thing that Putin could do, should have done, is to work to modernize the Russian Federation economically. His failure to do so has led to this awful circumstance of now cooling out his entire Western border. This will only stall out the progress of the Russian Federation further. It will be like the United States eight years under leadership that was ineffective at first, then economically destructive at last.

One day Russian Federation itself will decide to turn itself around. Not under Putin, it appears. We can only hope they come to their senses before too much social and economic damage is done across the globe.

To be clear, economic modernization means chiefly diversity of business. Relying heavily on, e.g., extraction and sale of natural resources, is an ineffective strategy. It depends too heavily on a single outlook, blinding the countries and regions that are resource-heavy from other opportunities. No, diversity of business is essential to all regions’ economic health.

Practically every country that relies on resource exportation is authoritarian in nature. Because when you run only one simple national business model, you do not require the sort of culture of excellence that requires cooperation and innovation. But the people of every country have excellence in their hearts, denied by the revulsion of the leadership to diversity of business.

Diversity takes time, and it does not have the same psychological benefits of simple resource extraction. It is a long-term strategy that devalues the immediate gains in favor of holistic and qualitative measures.

But just like evolution, in time the diverse models win out. In ten, twenty years, will Crimea not look north, see the diversity, and seek to join it? How could they not?