TRUMP IMPEACHED!

December 21, 2019

My Latest At The Current

You can read it here.

Representative Guy Reschenthaler lied about the Chair of the Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff when he said:
You know who should be ashamed? Adam Schiff. We gotta remember that Adam Schiff is the one who abused his power. He’s the one who subpoenaed phone records of other members of this body. He’s the one who exposed Devin Nunes’ number and call logs.
No, Guy. Schiff did not subpoena Nunes' phone records. Nunes himself said so when he said that the committee subpoenaed AT&T for the records.  And the only reason Nunes was found in those records was because he'd been communicating with "individuals of interest to the investigation."

So why was Nunes talking to them? Isn't that the question?

Guy's lying when he said:
[The Democrats are] talking about such crazy ideas as banning airplanes.
No one's talking about "banning airplanes." The discussion is about the "Green New Deal" legislation that calls for a removal of:
pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible
And so on.

Here's the ending:
And when he’s not lying, he’s misleading. Owning the local franchise to “Ye Olde Trump Crazie Shoppe” is not doing Rep. Guy Reschenthaler any favors.

Meanwhile, Outside

From the science at NOAA:
The November 2019 global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.92°C (1.66°F) above average and the second highest November temperature in the 140-year record. Only November 2015 was warmer at +1.01°C (+1.82°F). The five warmest November global land and ocean surface temperature departures from average have occurred since 2013. November 2019 marked the 43rd consecutive November and the 419th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average.
And, as always, there's a chart:



See all that red?

It's still getting warmer out there.

December 17, 2019

IMPEACHMENT Message From 750 Historians

Read it in full here.

The opening:
We are American historians devoted to studying our nation’s past who have concluded that Donald J. Trump has violated his oath to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” His “attempts to subvert the Constitution,” as George Mason described impeachable offenses at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, urgently and justly require his impeachment.

President Trump’s numerous and flagrant abuses of power are precisely what the Framers had in mind as grounds for impeaching and removing a president. Among those most hurtful to the Constitution have been his attempts to coerce the country of Ukraine, under attack from Russia, an adversary power to the United States, by withholding essential military assistance in exchange for the fabrication and legitimization of false information in order to advance his own re-election.

President Trump’s lawless obstruction of the House of Representatives, which is rightly seeking documents and witness testimony in pursuit of its constitutionally-mandated oversight role, has demonstrated brazen contempt for representative government. So have his attempts to justify that obstruction on the grounds that the executive enjoys absolute immunity, a fictitious doctrine that, if tolerated, would turn the president into an elected monarch above the law.
The core of the argument:
It is our considered judgment that if President Trump’s misconduct does not rise to the level of impeachment, then virtually nothing does.
If what he did with Ukraine isn't impeachment, then nothing is.

If the Republicans in The Senate let him get away with it, then each time they utter the party line "No one is above the law, not even the president." they will be lying.

Blatantly, hypocritically lying.

December 15, 2019

From Conor Lamb



He's voting for impeachment.

IMPEACH

From The New York Times Editorial Board:
In the end, the story told by the two articles of impeachment approved on Friday morning by the House Judiciary Committee is short, simple and damning: President Donald Trump abused the power of his office by strong-arming Ukraine, a vulnerable ally, holding up hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid until it agreed to help him influence the 2020 election by digging up dirt on a political rival.

When caught in the act, he rejected the very idea that a president could be required by Congress to explain and justify his actions, showing “unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance” in the face of multiple subpoenas. He made it impossible for Congress to carry out fully its constitutionally mandated oversight role, and, in doing so, he violated the separation of powers, a safeguard of the American republic.

To quote from the articles, “President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”

The case now moves to the full House of Representatives, which on Wednesday will decide, for just the third time in the nation’s history, whether to impeach a president.

To resist the pull of partisanship, Republicans and Democrats alike ought to ask themselves the same question: Would they put up with a Democratic president using the power of the White House this way? Then they should consider the facts, the architecture and aspirations of the Constitution and the call of history. In that light, there can be only one responsible judgment: to cast a vote to impeach, to send a message not only to this president but to future ones.

By stonewalling as no previous president has, Donald Trump has left Congress with no choice but to press ahead to a Senate trial. The president insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing, yet he refuses to release any administration documents or allow any administration officials to testify — though, if his assertions are in fact true, those officials would presumably exonerate him. He refused to present any defense before the House whatsoever, asserting a form of monarchical immunity that Congress cannot let stand.

It’s regrettable that the House moved as fast as it did, without working further through the courts and through other means to hear from numerous crucial witnesses. But Democratic leaders have a point when they say they can’t afford to wait, given the looming electoral deadline and Mr. Trump’s pattern of soliciting foreign assistance for his campaigns. Even after his effort to extract help from Ukraine was revealed, the president publicly called on China to investigate his rival. Asked as recently as October what he hoped the Ukrainians would do in response to his infamous July 25 call with their president, Mr. Trump declared: “Well, I would think that, if they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer.”

Barring the persuasive defense that Mr. Trump has so far declined even to attempt, that simple answer sounds like a textbook example of an impeachable offense, as the nation’s framers envisioned it.

A president “might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation or oppression,” James Madison said of the need for an impeachment clause. “He might betray his trust to foreign powers.”

Madison and his fellow framers understood that elections — which, under normal circumstances, are the essence of democratic self-government — could not serve their purpose if a president was determined to cheat to win.

As the constitutional scholar Noah Feldman testified before the Judiciary Committee last week, “Without impeachment, the president would have been an elected monarch. With impeachment, the president was bound to the rule of law.”

At the same time, the framers were well aware of the dangers inherent in impeachment. That’s why they made it a two-step process: First is the House’s vote on impeachment, which is akin to an indictment and requires only a majority to pass. Second is a trial in the Senate, which decides the president’s ultimate fate, and thus has a much higher bar to clear — two-thirds of senators must vote to convict and remove the president from office.

So far, Republican legislators have shown little sign of treating this constitutional process with the seriousness it demands. By stonewalling as no previous president has, Donald Trump has left Congress with no choice but to press ahead to a Senate trial.

Instead, they have been working overtime to abet the president’s wrongdoing. They have spread toxic misinformation and conspiracy theories to try to justify his actions and raged about the unfairness of the inquiry, complaining that Democrats have been trying to impeach Mr. Trump since he took office.

No doubt some Democrats were too eager to resort to impeachment before it became unavoidable. Mr. Trump has been committing arguably impeachable offenses since the moment he entered the Oval Office, including his acceptance of foreign money at his many businesses; his violations of campaign-finance law in paying hush money to a woman who claimed to have had a sexual affair with him; and, of course, his obstructions of justice in the Russia investigation, which were documented extensively by the special counsel, Robert Mueller.

Democrats could have pursued impeachment in any or all of these cases, but for various reasons decided not to. That changed in September, when a whistle-blower’s complaint, initially suppressed by the Justice Department, revealed the outline of Mr. Trump’s Ukraine scheme. That made it impossible to ignore the president’s lawlessness because it sounded an alarm that he was seeking to subvert the next election, depriving the voters of their right to check his behavior.

The Republicans’ most common defenses of Mr. Trump’s behavior fall flat in the face of the evidence.

There is, above all, the summary of the July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president. Mr. Trump still insists that summary exonerates him. It doesn’t — which is why White House officials promptly locked it in a special computer system.

Then there is the sworn testimony of multiple government officials, including several appointed by Mr. Trump himself, all of whom confirmed the essential story line: For all the recent claims about his piety regarding Ukrainian corruption, Mr. Trump did not “give a shit about Ukraine.” He only wanted the “deliverable” — the announcement of an investigation into the Bidens, and also into a debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

The argument that Mr. Trump cared about anything other than hurting Joe Biden and helping himself is undercut by several facts. Even though calling on the Ukrainians to fight corruption was part of his prepared talking points, he never mentioned the subject in his calls with Mr. Zelensky; he also didn’t hold up the military aid in 2017 or 2018, even though everyone knew about Hunter Biden’s Ukraine connection at the time. (What changed this year? Joe Biden emerged as his leading Democratic opponent.) By the time Mr. Trump intervened to block the money for Ukraine, the Defense Department had already certified that Ukraine had made enough progress fighting corruption to qualify for this year’s funds. Republicans and Democrats ought to ask themselves the same question: Would they put up with a Democratic president using the power of the White House this way?

Without any substantive defense of Mr. Trump’s behavior, several Republicans have taken to arguing that he committed no actual crime, and so can’t be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Putting aside a strong case that Mr. Trump has, in fact, broken at least one law, this isn’t how impeachment works. “High crimes” refers to severe violations of the public trust by a high-ranking official, not literal crimes. A president can commit a technical crime that doesn’t violate the public trust (say, jaywalking), and he can commit an impeachable offense that is found nowhere in the federal criminal code (like abuse of power).

Republicans’ sole remaining argument is: “So what? It wasn’t that big a deal.” Or, as acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney said in October, “Get over it.” This stance at least has the virtue of acknowledging the president’s vice, but that doesn’t make it O.K.

Assuming Mr. Trump is impeached, the case will go to the Senate, where he will have the chance — on far more friendly territory — to mount the defense he refused to make to the House. Rather than withholding key witnesses, he should be demanding sworn appearances by people like Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and John Bolton, the former national security adviser.

As recently as a few weeks ago, some Republicans seemed to want to get to the bottom of things. Even Trump’s footman, Senator Lindsey Graham, said, “If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.”

The time for such expressions of public spirit has, apparently, passed. “I’ve written the whole process off,” Mr. Graham said during the impeachment hearings. “I think this is a bunch of B.S.”

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, says there will be “no difference between the president’s position and our position in how to handle this,” as he told Sean Hannity of Fox last Thursday. Before the House had cast a single vote on impeachment, Mr. McConnell said there was “no chance” the Senate would vote to convict.

For now, that leaves the defense of the Constitution, and the Republic, to the House of Representatives.

December 10, 2019

Rep. Reschenthaler Hearts Trump's War Crime Pardons

This was published today at the Pittsburgh Current:
Representative Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) recently went on record approving Donald Trump’s decision to pardon three people who are accused or convicted war criminals. The word he used, by the way, was “applaud.” He applauded Trump’s decision.
I stand with the PGNewsguild.

TWO




You can read the articles here.

December 7, 2019

Letter to Congress from Legal Scholars

Read it here.

The text:
We, the undersigned legal scholars, have concluded that President Trump engaged in impeachable conduct.

We do not reach this conclusion lightly. The Founders did not make impeachment available for disagreements over policy, even profound ones, nor for extreme distaste for the manner in which the President executes his office. Only “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” warrant impeachment. But there is overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress. His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution.

We take no position on whether the President committed a crime. But conduct need not be criminal to be impeachable. The standard here is constitutional; it does not depend on what Congress has chosen to criminalize.

Impeachment is a remedy for grave abuses of the public trust. The two specific bases for impeachment named in the Constitution — treason and bribery — involve such abuses because they include conduct undertaken not in the “faithful execution” of public office that the Constitution requires, but instead for personal gain (bribery) or to benefit a foreign enemy (treason).

Impeachment is an especially essential remedy for conduct that corrupts elections. The primary check on presidents is political: if a president behaves poorly, voters can punish him or his party at the polls. A president who corrupts the system of elections seeks to place himself beyond the reach of this political check. At the Constitutional Convention, George Mason described impeachable offenses as “attempts to subvert the constitution.” Corrupting elections subverts the process by which the Constitution makes the president democratically accountable. Put simply, if a President cheats in his effort at re-election, trusting the democratic process to serve as a check through that election is no remedy at all. That is what impeachment is for.

Moreover, the Founders were keenly concerned with the possibility of corruption in the president’s relationships with foreign governments. That is why they prohibited the president from accepting anything of value from foreign governments without Congress’s consent. The same concern drove their thinking on impeachment. James Madison noted that Congress must be able to remove the president between elections lest there be no remedy if a president betrayed the public trust in dealings with foreign powers.

In light of these considerations, overwhelming evidence made public to date forces us to conclude that President Trump engaged in impeachable conduct. To mention only a few of those facts: William B. Taylor, who leads the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, testified that President Trump directed the withholding of hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid for Ukraine in its struggle against Russia — aid that Congress determined to be in the U.S. national security interest — until Ukraine announced investigations that would aid the President’s re-election campaign. Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified that the President made a White House visit for the Ukrainian president conditional on public announcement of those investigations. In a phone call with the Ukrainian president, President Trump asked for a “favor” in the form of a foreign government investigation of a U.S. citizen who is his political rival. President Trump and his Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney made public statements confirming this use of governmental power to solicit investigations that would aid the President’s personal political interests. The President made clear that his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was central to efforts to spur Ukrainian investigations, and Mr. Giuliani confirmed that his efforts were in service of President Trump’s private interests.

Ultimately, whether to impeach the President and remove him from office depends on judgments that the Constitution leaves to Congress. But if the House of Representatives impeached the President for the conduct described here and the Senate voted to remove him, they would be acting well within their constitutional powers. Whether President Trump’s conduct is classified as bribery, as a high crime or misdemeanor, or as both, it is clearly impeachable under our Constitution.
Something to remember next time a Trumper claims that there's no evidence.

December 3, 2019

Read The Impeachment Inquiry Report

It can be found here.

SECTION I—THE PRESIDENT’S MISCONDUCT

The President Conditioned a White House Meeting and Military Aid to Ukraine on a
Public Announcement of Investigations Beneficial to his Reelection Campaign

December 2, 2019

SEE? The Zombie-Thanksgiving Story STILL LIVES

Recently,  in The Pittsburgh Current, this appeared:
No, the colony of Pilgrims in what is now Massachusetts was not an example of a failed socialist experiment. I mention that because it’s Thanksgiving week and that means it’s time for that stinky rightwing landfill gas (that the Pilgrims were socialist failures) to burp up into the conversational air that everyone else has to breathe.
I have it on pretty good authority that the verb originally used in this piece was the far more onomatopoetically pleasing "blurp" instead of the still-acceptable but far less interesting "burp."

Copy editors, whatareyagonnado?

Anyway, the current Current piece outlines how the settlement was paid for by some wealthy landowners in England and that the settlers were simply tenant farmers who had to pay the landowners back - hardly socialism, to be honest.

And still, John Stossel over at our favorite conservative paper, the Trib, could not help blurping up the rightwing swampgas:
The Pilgrims were religious, united by faith and a powerful desire to start anew, away from religious persecution in the Old World. Each member of the community professed a desire to labor together, on behalf of the whole settlement.

In other words: socialism.

But when they tried that, the Pilgrims almost starved.
But let's play out Stossel's story anyway. Take a look at how he described how the Pilgrims were "united by faith" and "professed a desire to labor together."

What Stossel states is socialism was an act of faith for the Pilgrims.

Is he really pushing the notion that a secular governor (in this case William Bradford) has the authority to veto faith-based acts even for a private religious community?

Wait, I thought John Stossel was a libertarian.

Oh, and then there's this:
In America today, religious groups practice different rites but usually don’t demand that government ban others’ practices.
Really?

I STAND WITH THE PGNEWSGUILD.